Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Frumpy Beat USA

Recently the above fake magazine cover spotlighting sixties older character actors appeared online. I have no idea who created it but it's garnered a lot of "Likes" and "Shares" including from me.

I recognized it immediately as being templated from the below magazine from that era, published by Warren, the folks that brought you CREEPY, EERIE, and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. At least a few folks, though, did not, and seemed to think it was real. A lot of other folks wanted a second issue!

So I made this one. It isn't as good as the first one but still looks like a mag I'd like to read!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thoughts on Batman and Superman

I won't be seeing the ludicrously and cumbersomely titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. The critics give it mixed reviews but the fan press is crucifying it. Even if that wasn't happening, I would not be there.

One of my earliest favorite comic books was WORLD'S FINEST. Many of you will recall I did an entire blog detailing every issue, nearly all of which highlighted the friendship and teamwork of Batman and Superman. Among other things, that taught little me that people from very different backgrounds and methodologies could work together, laugh together, and be good friends in spite of their differences. 

Then came the changes.

Watchmen is dark. Watchmen is brilliant. Dark Knight Returns is dark and many find it brilliant as well. And the Killing Joke. One of the reasons all of those stories worked is that they were unique looks at superheroes. If EVERY superhero story before them had been dark, then they wouldn't have stood out at all. And now nearly every superhero story IS dark so what stands out is the rare exception. Like I said, we live in a dark world, these days. We don't need a reflection of that. We need hope and that's something superheroes have almost always been good at! Until now.

Maybe the old stories were hokey. Maybe we're too "sophisticated" now as a people to handle them. But then who's teaching the lessons? Who's teaching our kids that hope and peace and friendship and kindness, life, and cooperation are worthy goals even if they don't see them every day in their own lives. What are we teaching them NOW with superheroes? Anger, violence, destruction, power trips, and relentless fucking DARKNESS!

On TV, DC gets it right with Supergirl and Flash but on that dark big screen, they've already mapped out a decade of upcoming films that will seemingly continue to deconstruct heroes. They don't get it. Any kid who grew up in the sixties could tell them. Comic book heroes are REAL in that they make a difference, even if its not always obvious. The world needs heroes now perhaps more than ever. Kids need heroes. Without them, there may be no hope for tomorrow.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

R.I.P. Frank Sinatra, Jr.

Frank Sinatra, Jr. died last night at the age of 72and that bothers me a lot more than it probably should. He was not a major star. He was not even a one hit wonder as he never really had a single song he could call his own nor did he ever even make the charts. His career was forever in the wake of his more successful sister’s and, even more so, of course, in the deep, deep shadow of his legendary father.

Love him or hate him—and it was certainly possible to do both—Frank Sinatra, Sr. was inarguably one of the most important figures in 20th century show business and pop culture. The idol of millions of bobbysoxers in 1940, just a year or so later Frank was married and he and his wife had started a family with little Nancy. Announcing his intention to have a total of six kids in time, Frank, Jr. was born in January of 1944.

In a real life version of every parent’s darkest nightmare, in the early 1960s, Frank Jr. was kidnapped and held for ransom. It’s a long and sordid story we won’t get into here but suffice it to say that while he emerged okay from the ordeal, his father was forever changed and the kidnapping itself would go on to be the one thing in the public eye which Frank Jr. had to call his own. The one thing about him that he undoubtedly hoped people would forget.

He spent decades helping out at his father’s concerts and then in recent years celebrating his father’s legacy with a series of concerts of his own. In time, he even grew to look much like his father but the voice—fine if one could avoid the comparison—just wasn’t the same.

Maybe he was happy. I like to think so. But he never seemed to be. He often seemed in interviews and appearances to be on edge and a little overly cocky and yet always with an aura of sadness and resignation.

When I heard that he had passed, here in a week where several other friends and family members have had losses, the concept of mortality hit home. I looked up his birth announcements in old newspapers, all filled with such promise. He was not his father. He was not his name. He was an individual and he counted. Growing up, I never cared for his singing. I never liked seeing him on television. I don’t think he was particularly gifted or talented in the ways other members of his family were. But he counted. YOU count. I count. We ALL count! But soon enough we will all be gone.

I hope he was a happy man. I really do. I was not a fan...but I miss Frank Sinatra, Jr. already and the world just goes on and on.  R.I.P.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jerry Lewis Comics

In the 1960s, Jerry Lewis was both a favorite movie star and a favorite comic book star! Happy 90th birthday to Jerry today!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fantastic Splash # 4

This key issue returned Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, to the newly forming Marvel Universe. Note, though, that he's strangely absent from every single chapter splash. In actuality, it had only been a little over 5 years since his then most recent appearance. Seems unlikely that his return would have been Kirby's idea as Jack famously looked forward, not back. 

Still, it's a good story and a good re-introduction to the character, highlighting the anti-hero/villain with anger issues personality that he had in the early forties rather than his more heroic persona. 

Reed and Ben look different here than we ever saw them before and than we would ever see them again!

Good coloring here. probably Stan G. again. He told me that he really enjoyed coloring for Marvel in these early days. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

My Latest Back Issue Article

Subscriber copies are shipping now and it's expected in stores next week, all this timed for Batman v-ing Superman in theaters. My article is about the Bronze Age exploits of Superman's pal and girl friend, respectively, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane. I just re-read it for the first time since I wrote it last year. It's pretty good! I've got two more articles already scheduled later this year for BACK ISSUE--one on Reggie Mantle and one on the black and white comics of Seaboard and Skywald!