Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lone Ranger Socks

BatmanXXX-A Porn Parody


Whether or not you're into this sort of thing, seeing this box one HAS to admit they've certainly made a sincere effort to capture the visual aspects of the original 1966 BATMAN TV series. In fact, my favorite aspect is the Joker having a mustache beneath his greasepaint! Talk about paying attention to detail! The video is just out and I read last week where SUPERMANXXX is next!

In a bizarre but understandable reversal of form, the video comes with a version of the film with all of the sex scenes edited out! In the past, some films have edited out the "plot" parts for those who just want to see what they were paying for!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

RIP-Dennis Hopper


Dennis Hopper died today. His story was, of course, the very definition of a second act. Or was it a third? He first appeared onscreen at age 18 and was in smallish roles for many years before his career seemed to peter out in the heady days of the late sixties. But then came EASY RIDER and he was suddenly respected as an actor and a filmmaker....briefly. The disastrous reception to the money pit that was 1971's drug hazy THE LAST MOVIE was, along with projects like Hopper's participation in Orson Welles' unreleased THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, enough to send him back to cameos and lower budget productions. Hollywood wrote him off...again. Then came David Lynch--the Quentin Tarantino of the eighties--and BLUE VELVET. This time, Hopper not only regained the respect of fickle Hollywood but he kept it. Thus his passing today finds this veteran film star of more than five decades leaving us not as a trivia question but as a star. Rest in peace, Dennis and thank you for your performances!

Casper Meets Ultraman??




I'm sorry? Did I somehow miss a period in the 1990's when Harvey Comics of all people were publishing ULTRAMAN??

Friday, May 28, 2010

Classic TV Preservation Shouldn't Stop With the Shows

As the Classic TV Preservation Society's Person of the Week this week, I felt an obligation to say something on the death of Gary Coleman and what we do to older stars. This was originally posted earlier today on Facebook.

The passing of Gary Coleman earlier today drives home yet again the sad fact that we all tend to prefer puppies and wish the older dogs would just go away. Oh, we don’t do it on purpose. We don’t mean to simply put our old friends out to pasture…but we do it anyway. Over and over and over.


I first saw Gary Coleman on Norman Lear’s spoof talk show series AMERICA 2 NIGHT. At age 10 but looking even younger due to what we would all later find out was a physical disorder, he was cute and he was funny so, of course, he ended up with his own TV series.


DIFF’RENT STROKES came along at a time when sitcoms had become “relevant” to their times, often featuring episodes about modern day problems. In a way, it was an updated version of the sixties CBS series, FAMILY AFFAIR in that a middle-aged single white man ended up raising three kids with the help of his servant. In this case, the twist was that two of the kids were African-American.


Episodes dealt with abuse, drugs, sex, and, of course, racism. The writing and direction were often heavy-handed but the characters were endearing and the show settled in for a long and popular run. The children all attracted fans of all ages. For eight seasons on two networks, DIFF’RENT STROKES was their life. Then, as with all TV series, it ended. The adults moved on to other jobs and the kids were more or less left to their own devices.


Almost immediately, Dana Plato became the poster child for child actor issues and they eventually led to her suicide. Todd Bridges had anger and drug issues and legal problems that dragged him down for years. Gary Coleman spent two decades dealing very publically with family problems, health issues and the ever-present and undeniable fact that he was no longer that impossibly cute little kid the world loved.


And that’s just it. It isn’t only child stars. It’s older stars in general. For every William Shatner and David McCallum who makes a comeback, there’s a Ken Berry or a Mike Conners that everyone thinks must surely be dead or else they’d be on TV. When was the last time you saw Chad Everett or Stefanie Powers? Will Hutchins or Georgia Engel? Based on the reception these stars always get when they show up at any event whatsoever, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the people running what passes for Hollywood these days who neither know nor have the least amount of respect for their own history.


Earlier this month I had the chance to work onstage with Bob Hastings and Rosemary Rice. Hastings appeared regularly on McHALE’S NAVY and semi-regularly on ALL IN THE FAMILY. He can also be found guest-starring in scores of TV series and films from the sixties through the eighties. At 85, he is healthy, sharp and reliable and yet his last on-camera appearance was 18 years ago. Ms. Rice, still a wonderful actress and a popular TV star of the 1950’s on the long-running series, MAMA, hasn’t appeared on camera in 50 years!


So younger stars are eaten up and spit out by the system while older stars are simply ignored after a time no matter how big their fan base. Ask yourself, were you really that enamored with Arnold on DIFF’RENT STROKES or was it what Gary Coleman brought to the role? Why is it that all of these big budget, big screen remakes of old TV shows always seem to be missing something? Was it really Sgt Bilko that was such a great character or was it that Bilko—as played by Phil Silvers—was such a great character?


I believe that Hollywood itself typecasts performers more than the fans. I believe that if given the chance the fans would relish the chance to see their old friends in new roles and not just cameos and tributes. Betty White’s current success is NOT a fluke! There are a hundred other beloved TV actors and actresses of all ages out there who would be welcomed back on our screens—big or small—if only they were given a chance!


We talk about preserving classic TV but that shouldn’t mean just the shows. We also owe a debt to the people who brought us those shows. Let this be a wake-up call. Find out today which of your favorite TV stars of old have an official website. Many of them do! At the very least write and thank them for what they’ve shared with us over the years. In the past year I’ve written to Wendell Burton (Charlie Brown on a memorable Hallmark Hall of Fame live action special of the 1970’s), Bo Svenson (from the first season of HERE COME THE BRIDES), Kip King (from CHARLIE & CO.) and Donna Loren (SHINDIG) and I’ve heard back from every one. You’ll be surprised and they will appreciate hearing from you!

Lois Lane at 22


Since comics characters age slowly if at all, most companies go out of their way to avoid mentioning characters' ages but here's an ad for the first issue of SUPERMAN'S GIRLFRIEND, LOIS LANE from 1958 in which National trumpets to the world not only our intrepid girl reporter's age but her weight as well!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Classic TV Preservation Society


Over on Facebook, I've been named the Person of the Week by the Classic TV Preservation Society founded by BEWITCHED FOREVER author Herbie J. Pilato. I am, of course, humbled. I'm told I was even the first to present an acceptance speech.

That said, the Society is a worthy cause and is in the process of moving beyond the virtual confines of Facebook. Anyone interested in preserving the more positive aspects of our television heritage (you know, like TV LAND used to talk about but doesn't seem to prioritize anymore) should look up the Classic Television Preservation Society's page on Facebook. It's fun, informative, family friendly and nostalgic.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don Rosa Documentary Needs Your Help




We all know that Don Rosa is one of my favorite comics creators of all time. Even though so much of his work builds on Barks, I like Don's better! His sense of humor, his pacing, his storytelling...even his art is more enjoyable for me. In parts of Europe, Don is revered for his work and even as we speak, Danish filmmakers are working on what will undoubtedly be a fascinating and hopefully definitive documentary feature on the now retired comics creator. Here's a link to the raw trailer. They need money to finish the project and they have a posted goal with updates as to how close they're getting. As usual, I happen to be broke but my contribution to the Don Rosa project is to spread the word! What's your contribution going to be?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Steve Martin's First Film


Attention trivia fans! What was Steve Martin's first movie? Off the top of your head, you'd probably say THE JERK. Made in 1979, that was most definitely the popular stand-up comic's first starring film role but did you know that the largely forgotten SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (featuring Steve as the homicidal Maxwell Edison) appeared a year earlier in 1978? That's still not the answer we're looking for though!

Steve Martin, as most who care already know, was a writer and sometime on-camera player for the Smothers Brothers and their controversial TV variety show of the late sixties. In the early 1970's, Tom Smothers and Jonathan Haze produced a satirical political film called ANOTHER NICE MESS that was directed by another of the series' writers, Bob Einstein (later AKA Super Dave Osborne and brother of the funniest man alive, Albert Brooks!) It was an odd little picture to say the least and we wrote about it and how it had long since disappeared here http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2005/10/another-nice-mess.html
Well, the Internet being what it is, I finally today had a chance to see this forgotten little gem--and that's what it is, flaws and all--and who do I spot in one scene? STEVE MARTIN! Thus, contrary to what IMDB will tell you, Steve Martin's film debut was not in 1979 or even 1978...but way back in 1972, in ANOTHER NICE MESS!

Friday, May 21, 2010

When Batman Met Nancy


DC's long-running (nearly two decades!) ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE title was not spared the company's understandable but shameless exploitation of Batman in 1966. Here, from issue 103, is a fun full pager featuring the Caped Crusader with Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy! Robin doesn't look too happy. Note also Sophia dissing the Fab Four to Ringo, Sinatra putting down Phyllis Diller and Stanley and his monster being kept apart from their forbidden love over religion.

The series at this point was usually drawn by Bob Oksner but this issue seems to be the work of Joe Orlando, then newly arrived at DC. This page, however...Comics creator Stephen DeStefano insists that the Dynamic Duo are by Carmine Infantino (then their regular artist). I can see that. Except that the celebrity caricatures look to me like the work of Mort Drucker, himself a longtime artist on the Bob Hope title. Stanley and his miscolored monster seem to be drawn by Oksner! Was this a jam page? Was Orlando imitating everyone's style? Was Carmine brought in to keep the Batman figures on-model. Does anyone out there have a clue?

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 69


Okay, here you have this guy, the Shark, barely dressed and posing oddly in front of what appears to be some sort of giant Etch-A-Sketch...in 1939...or is it an early webcam?? Hmmmm....???

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MLJ/Archie Ad


Little did these early 1940's superheroes suspect that the red-headed kid (or blonde as seen here) and his pal, Jughead, would eventually do to them and all of their cohorts what no Nazi or mad scientist or racketeer was ever able to do. Archie had premiered in PEP COMICS but his stories were soon invading the other MLJ titles, also. This ad--featuring Mister Justice, Steel Sterling, Black Hood and the long forgotten Sgt. Boyle--is for Archie's debut in JACKPOT COMICS.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don Rosa Finland Interview 2008





A nice, long, self deprecating interview with Don Rosa from what appears to be a Finnish morning TV show. One of my favorite fan writer/artists through the early seventies, I was thrilled when he started doing comics for Gladstone. Don told me once that I was the first person to ask him to do a signing but, as written about previously here on the blog, he politely declined. Nice to see how big he has gotten internationally but I remain perplexed as to why he never quite hit the big time he deserves here in his own country. Don deals here straightforwardly with the eyesight issues that led to his having to withdraw from comics work. I know he has read this blog from time to time and Don, if you do see this piece, I just wanted to say I continue to send good thoughts your way, sir...and thanks for everything!

Science Fiction Double Feature--Richard O'Brien

Vicki Lawrence Blooper



Vicki Lawrence has long been a favorite of mine--oddly NOT including her "Mama" character. Here, introduced by Dick Clark from one of his blooper specials and with animation from Sergio Aragones, is a succession of giggly outtakes as she tried to record a plug for her talk show.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stefanie Powers

Another favorite from my youth is Ms. Stefanie Powers who was kind enough to answer a a letter from 13 year old me while appearing in summer stock in 1972. I first saw her in THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. in 1966 but she had already co-starred at that point with John Wayne in 1963's McCLINTOCK and appeared in dozens of other TV series and a few films. When her role as the Modesty Blaise knock-off, April Dancer, dried up, Stefanie went on to become the queen of series guest roles and TV movies through the mid-seventies. A much publicized (and not without controversy) relationship with veteran actor William Holden led to her becoming an animal and environmental activist and a charismatic teaming with old friend Robert Wagner led to her finally becoming a major star on TV's HART TO HART in the late 1970's.















Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bennett Cerf's Book of Riddles


This was the earliest book I remember actually owning. I received it as a birthday gift for my 5th birthday. I, of course, had absolutely no idea who Bennett Cerf might be but I came to associate the name with funny wordplay.

In the years that followed, I learned that Bennett Cerf had also written a newspaper column of amusing celebrity anecdotes for many years and that many of these were collected in multiple volumes of hilarious books. I found that he was a lifelong collector of all types of humor as well as a singularly important figure in the field of twentieth century publishing. As founder of Random House, he was associated with several of the major literary censorship fights as well as the man who gave Dr Seuss--already an entertaining author/artist-- his first great push toward becoming a legend!

Add to that the fact that he was one of the regular panelists on WHAT'S MY LINE?, without a doubt the classiest, most entertaining and most civilized panel show of all time--as well as a favorite of mine from its mid-sixties final years through today where I watch episodes daily on YouTube!

He even had a marvelously entertaining posthumous autobiography entitled AT RANDOM!

BENNETT CERF'S BOOK OF RIDDLES! I may not be able to recall a single riddle at this late stage but I certainly recall Bennett Cerf. Who says books don't inspire?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not the Beatles But an Incredible Simulation

bookdave is an appropriately hangdog Ringo. He actually had a RINGO STARR AND HIS ALL-STARR BAND T-shirt on that day. That's me as Paul looking--I'm told--like Weird Al from the 'stache up. But all that hair! Ah, nostalgia! Bottom right is the ever-delightful Brittany Rose making a cute dude! Reminds me of both HR PUFNSTUF's Jack Wild and Joanna Lumley as THE NEW AVENGERS' Purdey. John is played here by my lovely bride, Rene, who, quite frankly, has had that hairdo in the past few years and thus looks quite natural! This, by the way, was the absolute only thing I purchased at last weekend's OTR Con.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nancy Sinatra


Another young woman whose images loom large in my memories of the sixties is Nancy Sinatra. This is particularly odd, though, because I wasn't really a fan of hers until this past decade. Nonetheless, when I see her publicity pictures, posters, etc, it always takes me back.

I first heard and heard of Nancy when the record, SOMETHING STUPID, was a hit in 1966. A duet with Frank Sinatra---which makes it undoubtedly the first time I ever heard if him, also--this beautifully orchestrated love song sounds odd today due to Nancy's almost monotone recitation of the lyrics and Frank's insistence on attempting to match her when it seems like she should be harmonizing with HIM! Of course, it sounds even odder when one realizes this is a father and a daughter singing it! This was made no less squicky when Frank, Jr took the male lead in one TV version!

It plays up the fact that Nancy wasn't really much of a singer, however, in spite of her genes. At the time, I liked SOME VELVET MORNING, one of several collaborations with producer/singer/songwriter Lee Hazlewood that somehow managed to play on what strengths she did show by having her alternate verses rather than attempt to harmonize on them.

The revelation to me is her 1967 theme to the fifth James Bond film, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. She actually sings, shows some range and does a surprisingly bang-up job with the whole thing! Her greatest hits package, however, is filled with more monotone recitations and collaborations like JACKSON and SUMMER WINE. Oh, and of course, THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING!

The latter song put Nancy on the map and if that was all she was ever remembered for, it would have been enough. Nancy Sinatra in her blonde-white hair and go-go boots has become iconic.

Arguably her career peaked when she co-starred in SPEEDWAY with Elvis Presley but looking back it seems an odd-combination of two iconic performers both of whose careers were being mis-managed horrendously when compared to their enormous potential!

When Nancy appeared in PLAYBOY many years later after plastic surgery and with plenty of flattering soft focus and airbrushing, she reportedly broke the news to Frank only to have him ask how much they were paying her. She told him and he supposedly said, "Uh-uh. This much." and scrawled a number on a piece of paper. Nancy is said to have called Hef and without any hesitation, Frank's number was accepted. It really was, as they used to say, Frank Sinatra's world and the rest of us--Nancy Sinatra included--were just living in it. Now THAT is something stupid!


























Thursday, May 13, 2010

RIP-Annie


My first exposure to Harold Gray's LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE--the classic newspaper strip whose imminent retirement was announced today--was probably when we started buying the Sunday edition of THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS in the late sixties. The color comics printed a week early for some reason but that's another story.

LOA was never a real favorite of mine although I did enjoy the still present at that time top strip, MAW GREEN. Thus when the big reprint volume in the early seventies came out, I stayed away from it. I did enjoy the various MAD lampoons of Annie and her cast and later, as I discovered them, the POGO parodies also. When the seventies musical play was made into a film, I did--in spite of the horrible choice of John Huston as director--enjoy the soundtrack!

I liked what I saw of Leonard Starr's version of the strip after Harold Gray passed but it was intermittent as ANNIE was still never carried locally. I also liked Alan Kupperberg's version although he doesn't exactly speak very highly of the circumstances in which it was created. Quite frankly, I haven't seen anyone's version in years now.

What I have discovered, though, only within the past year, were some reprints of the 1930's and 1940's LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE sequences and they are true gems of comic strip storytelling! Gray at his best was a master of suspense and characterization and, unlike today's continually shrinking strips, he was given enough space in which to create his worlds. At times as violent as DICK TRACY, the strip could be very dark and genuinely dramatically affecting! Annie, herself, however, remained an eternal optimist in hard times of war and depression but generally without the cloying characterization that could have easily become.

The owners of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE, echoing that optimism, indicate a certainty that we haven't seen the last of Annie and Sandy (ARF!). Looks like the newspapers have, though.

Duffy's Tavern Starring Me!



Cincy Con regular Jim Widner recorded and posted this past weekend's re-creation of a lost episode of DUFFY'S TAVERN from 1941 (as adapted and transcribed by Derek Tague). Geez, I'm out of shape but otherwise, not too shabby for an amateur if I do say so myself. And the colorfully garbed actress next to me who plays Madame Sickelsby, the genial-ologist, is my lovely bride of 19 years next month!
Note also bookdave and Brittany Rose in the audience, lower right, attempting to tape the same piece until her battery ran out!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the 25th Annual Cincinnati Old Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention!


Unlike in previous years, the dates, guests and hotel for next year's convention have already been set! Mark your calendars now!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Other Than That, How Was the Play...?


As usual in all of the various online and on-air reviews of this past weekend’s 24th Annual Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention, the live re-creations of the old shows get dismissed with a terse, “Oh, and there were also some onstage re-creations.” Sigh. For many, myself included, the re-creations are a major highlight every year—especially these days when I can no longer afford to drop three or four hundred bucks in the dealers’ room!


In my case, the main reason I went back to the third Convention more than two decades back now was because my then girlfriend, Rene, and I, had been founding members of G.R.A.C.I.E.—the Golden Radio Association of Cincinnati: Imaginative Entertainment. G.R.A.C.I.E. performed radio re-creations onstage, on mike, with sound effects and all at various functions around town…none of which ever really appreciated us. But by the time we talked the Con into letting us add our re-creation to their already in place re-creations from the ad hoc Dave Warren Players, we had honed our single show into a well oiled machine!


We rehearsed RESULTS, INC.—adapted and directed by myself—at the Con that year with that year’s guest, Willard (THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE) Waterman standing in for our absent announcer. It was a thrill. When we went on it was for our biggest and most appreciative audience to date. Although I have, throughout my entire life, been sometimes painfully shy, I relished those moments onstage!


Dave Warren liked our performance and drafted many of our members to also appear in his productions which, that year, were episodes of TOM MIX, DUFFY’S TAVERN, FRED ALLEN and a LET’S PRETEND version of “The Brave Little Tailor.” My wife played Mrs. Nussbaum in Allen’s Alley and my mother in the LET’S PRETEND! I played Jack, the title role! I was also cast as the acerbic Fred Allen and as Eddie, the waiter at Duffy’s. It was a thrill—a genuine thrill and I assumed it was all over at that point. G.R.A.C.I.E. dissolved amidst petty politics and we weren’t even sure we’d go back for the third convention.


In fact, when we did, we went as dealers, renting a table to sell stuff. When “Big Dave” Warren saw me behind the table, he chastised me for not being at the auditions and cast me in a small role in an ESCAPE with that year’s guest Parley Baer. That particular re-creation was directed by Bob Hastings, who would become a fixture of the Con in future years. Dave also made me promise to audition for more parts the following year!


And I did. That next year I played Homer to Ezra Stone’s HENRY ALDRICH as directed by Donald Ramlow who would become our regular director to this day. The following year was the first of two turns as Jughead to Bob’s ARCHIE ANDREWS. Over the years my wife and I literally became the repertory company. She played, amongst others, mothers, daughters, witches, a fake medium, a monster, announcers, and, in a matter of obvious typecasting this year, a geneaologist.


Every year I felt my moment must surely have passed but every year I was cast in at least a small role with a scene-stealer every once in awhile! I’ve played a dog, a frog, a ghost, a talking crow, an intelligent mouse, a robot, a cowboy, an alien, a number of teenage boys, a few old codgers, mobsters, a wisecracking photographer, a druggist, a detective, and a dozen others!


Along the way, we’ve made friends with so many of the folks who attend more or less every year—Dan, Kathy and the delightful Karen Hughes, Meredith Grainger, Derek Tague, Steve and Laura Jansen, Ken Borden and others. Besides those guests I’ve already mentioned, we’ve had a chance to work with Rosemary Rice, Hal Stone, Herb Ellis, Lon Clark, Will Hutchins, Tyler McVay, Esther Geddes and more veterans of old-time radio and TV.


Rene continually got parts, our son David began to get small roles and even unofficial goddaughter Bree, whom we first brought in 2008, auditioned and won roles. A few years ago, Rene and I even won the dave Warren Award, named after the now-late director who made me promise to keep auditioning!


Last year, I got only two small roles and, having had a notable change in my speech due to the necessity of having two teeth removed in November of 2008, I figured it perhaps best that I be relegated to small character parts.


At this year’s convention, however, there were four shows…and I was given major roles in three of them, all of which were to be done on Saturday! First rehearsal was at 10 AM, second at 11. First show was at 1:00 and second at 1:30. Third rehearsal was at 3:30 for the Saturday evening performance.


I was onstage for the first rehearsal when Bob Hastings came walking in. He saw me and said, “Well, there’s Jughead so everything’s going to be just fine.”


In a lost DUFFY’S TAVERN script painstakingly transcribed and adapted by the sadly absent Derek Tague, I had, after two decades, finally graduated from waiter to manager as I played Archie, the lead role. In my best Bugs Bunny accent, I led the cast through a tale of Archie’s greedy attempt at hoodwinking a society dame by faking a phony pedigree. I haven’t seen the video yet but Bree got the first half before her battery died and she said everyone loved the performance!


Next came GUNSMOKE with Bob as an outlaw and Rosemary (I REMEMBER MAMA) Rice as Miss Kitty. I was Doc. When I tried to imitate the original voice actor, Howard McNear, I couldn’t seem to avoid drifting into Floyd the Barber from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, one of his other great creations. This was made worse by the fact that there were barber jokes in the script! So I did it as more a grumpy old, DeForrest Kelly type. “Dammit, Chester, I’m a doctor not a barber!” Director Ramlow said he really liked the voice.


Finally, for the evening performance, they saved the best of this year’s scripts—a funny episode of the 1950’s radio sitcom classic, OUR MISS BROOKS. Rosemary was the title character, Esther Geddes McVay was her landlady and Bob was Mr. Conklin, the school principal. Karen Hughes was Bob’s character’s daughter and I was 16 year old, squeaky voiced Walter Denton, a role originated by a young Richard Crenna (arguably THE most successful actor to come out of radio). In all modesty, I believe I stole the show. “You nailed Walter!” someone yelled afterwards and a number of folks wanted to shake my hand or pat me on the back as I left the stage. It felt good. Once a year that shy little kid still in me is somebody for just a few short minutes….even if that somebody is quite literally not me!


And all the reviews just rave about this year’s convention—the great new hotel, the friendly crowd, the great deals and dealers…oh…and there were also a few re-creations. Yes. Yes there were…and for some of us, THAT’s what we remember most over the years—not so much the brief moments of adulation but the chance to play. I don’t do “fun” well. Never have, sadly. I’m 51 this year and my wife is 48. Karen is 25 and Bree is 27. Bob Hastings is 85. Esther Geddes McVay is about to turn 93! And this weekend we all played together and boy, did we have fun!

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP-Lena Horne

RIP-Frank Frazetta


Frank Frazetta had already given up comics by the time I became aware of him. I saw his Conan paperback covers everywhere in the late sixties and early seventies and on occasion I would encounter him doing covers or illustrations for Warren magazines or NATIONAL LAMPOON. Even movie posters like Clint Eastwood's THE GAUNTLET.

What really introduced me to the truly beautiful style of Frazetta, though, were his five volumes in Ballantine's "Fantastic" series in the mid-seventies. THE FANTASTIC ART OF FRANK FRAZETTA collected paintings and sketches and treated him not like a comic book artist but like a "real" artist. He was respected in a way that Jack Kirby, Jeff Jones and Frank Miller--although they more than deserve it-- never would be; he was looked on as more than just an illustrator.

With his passing, undoubtedly all the seemingly sordid details of the problems of the artist's final years will emerge. Nothing, however, will take away the power and lush beauty of Frazetta's women, his lions, his ultimate macho men and his fantasy worlds! Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for sharing your imagination with us for so long!