Thursday, August 03, 2006


I haven't posted here in almost two months. I think that's the answer I was seeking.

This blog was a bit of an experiment. I wanted to see if I could channel my comic book postings into a regular blog on the subject. The answer, as it turns out, was that I couldn't. I wouldn't call this exercise a failure - it got some nice notices from a few folks - but it's time to wrap it up all the same.

Thank you to those of you who have been reading. I made a couple of new friends through this blog, and that means it was absolutely worth the effort I put into it. I will continue to blog over at my LiveJournal ( Captain Satellite's Fun Fun Central ) and comics will always be part of the mix. In fact, I'll probably be talking more about Atlas/Seaboard's POLICE ACTION there in the weeks ahead. I sincerely hope you will join me.

If I have one message to fandom, it would be : "Support Big Bang Comics!" They make fun comics and they're nice folks. Give them your money.

Remember, it's not "goodbye", just "see you later".

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Bearded Boy

OK, honestly? I was going to make a post last night, but Blogspot thwarted me at every turn and I ultimately surrendered. I suppose in a way it turns out to be good fortune, because Mighty Mike Sterling made a post that demanded my attention. Specifically, he mentions that Grant Morrison's Beard Hunter character from his Doom Patrol run was hired by "The Bearded Gentlemen's Club of Metropolis." This reminded me of a certain story I've been meaning to discuss one day.

Hey, remember that book Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 1? It was in all the papers. That's the book that reprinted the first 22 issues of Jimmy Olsen along with the first Lois Lane tryout issue of Showcase. Well, this story isn't in that book because it's from Jimmy Olsen #23, though it was reprinted in #95 of that same title. That latter issue is my source here, courtesy of a tattered and incomplete copy supplied by pal David McRobie. Enjoy it in good health, my friend.

"Jimmy Olsen, The Bearded Boy" opens with our intrepid Jimmy trying to sneak into the top secret, members-only meeting of the BEARD BAND. He fails, mostly because you must have a beard and his fake one wouldn't convince anyone. As he tosses his phony beard away, a gent offers him a beard tonic that will allow him to grow a real beard rapidly. Even Jimmy is skeptical of this proposal, though he takes a swig anyway.
Just how old ARE you anyway, Jimmy?
So Jimmy makes his way into the meeting and learns that the BEARD BAND is really hardcore about their beards. Also - SURPRISE! That man on the street is the leader of these bearded boys. And it turns out they have something in mind for Jimmy!

What is the BEARD BAND's sinister motive? Robbery? Ransom? World domination?

Er, no. They just want more men to grow beards.
The Beard Band is going to be disappointed by this plan.  I think we all can see that now.

Jimmy returns to the Daily Planet and tells his wild story to Perry White and Clark Kent. They laugh it off, both of them drinking the tonic in the process despite the clear evidence that Jimmy's beard is getting pretty long. They aren't laughing when Perry starts growing a beard immediately too. This causes problems for Clark (who is secretly Superman) since the tonic can't work on his super-charged follicles. He solves this dilemma by making a fake beard from his suit.

Yes, really.
Why yes, that is Perry White with his beard caught in a typewriter.

Jimmy makes the public appearances as instructed, and manages to botch every single one of them in that special Olsen way that we all know and love. Interestingly, he loses a big portion of his beard each time, but it grows back relatively quickly. I can't decide if this is so they didn't have to explain how he could get around with a forty foot beard or if it was to highlight Jimmy's complete and utter ineptitude. Either one makes sense, if you can use that phrase in relation to this story at all.

Naturally, the BEARD BAND is unhappy with Jimmy's results.

I'd string you along about the true nature of the BEARD BAND's ominous-sounding masterplan, but really, I don't think even your best guess could top this for being the most mundane diabolical scheme ever.
By Jove, that is horrific!

Jimmy's "idea" is to throw one of his old shaves at the burner and hope it ignites. He misses and it drops in the vat, so he's pretty much screwed up his only chance. The BEARD BAND tests their new tonic (because they're all CRAZY WHACK FUNKY for beards) and...
Only now you know...the REST of the story!

Wow. I'd love to analyze this, but it almost feels wrong to try. I'm guessing the BEARD BAND avoided jail time, since "forcing people to grow beards" isn't a criminal offense as far as I know. Also, maybe I'm speaking out of turn, but why must this be "the end" of the BEARD BAND? Yes, their beards are gone, but surely they'll grow back. I mean, their antidote can't permanently inhibit facial hair, right? I'm thinking too much, aren't I?

This is what you have waiting for you when the inevitable Showcase Presents Superman Family Vol. 2 comes down the pike. I know you're all going to start saving your pennies now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Not Retconned Yet

*taps microphone*

Hey there, I thought I should pop in here and greet anyone that has stopped by from Comics Should Be Good, The Legion Omnicom, or any of the other sites that have taken notice of this blog in the last couple of days. It seems my post on DC's Showcase books got linked here by Harvey Jerkwater. And folks, it only takes one link.

I still haven't decided if my hiatus here will be just temporary or permanent, but it's nice to get noticed all the same. My problem with this blog was that I tried to approach it with some discipline, and disciplined is something I'm not - either as a writer or in general. I'd much prefer to just sit down and blog whatever crosses my mind. That was a problem here. If this blog returns, it's going to be a bit more free-form.

Since we're here, I'm going to take a look at a select number of the DC collected editions announced for the last quarter of the year.

    Enemy Ace Archives Vol.2 - who knew?
    Writers: Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert
    Artists: Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Russ Heath and Frank Thorne
    Collects stories from STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #143-145, 147-150, 152, 158, 181-183 and 200
    $49.99, 196 pages

    Probably not getting this one (too rich for me), but good stuff and I have a friend who is a HUGE Enemy Ace fan. Why not buy one for him, too?

    Holy shocking covers, Batman!
    Writers: John Broome, Ed "France" Herron and Bill Finger
    Artists: Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff, Murphy Anderson and Sid Greene
    Collects stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #327-342 and BATMAN #164-174
    $16.99, 552 pages

    Yeah, probably the best place to start this one. I'm still holding out hope for a Batwoman collection someday. A faint one, as you can imagine.

    Writers: Dave Wood, Ed "France" Herron and Jack Kirby
    Artists: Jack Kirby, Roz Kirby, Marvin Stein, Bruno Premiani, George Klein, Wallace Wood and Bob Brown
    Collects SHOWCASE #6, 7, 11 and 12 and CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1-18
    $16.99, 540 pages

    Kirby is a master, and his stories are very good. Still, I'm also looking forward to seeing more of Bob Brown's work on this title.

    Writers: Mike Friedrich, John Broome, Ed "France" Herron, Robert Kanigher, Jack Oleck, Len Wein and Gerry Conway
    Artists: Neal Adams, Jerry Grandenetti, Leonard Starr, Bill Draut, Carmine Infantino, Frank Giacoia, Murphy Anderson, Wayne Howard, Vince Colletta, Jim Aparo, Tony DeZuñiga and Jack Sparling
    Collects SHOWCASE #80 and THE PHANTOM STRANGER #1-21
    $16.99, 544 pages

    The lack of the B&B team-ups indicates they are considering this one a "mystery" title rather than a superhero one. That's fine with me, though it will shortchange us one 1950s PS story that was only reprinted in B&B.

    Writers: Dennis O'Neil, E. Nelson Bridwell and Elliot S. Maggin
    Artists: C.C. Beck, Kurt Schaffenberger, Bob Oksner, Dave Cockrum, Alan Weiss, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, Tenny Henson, Bob Wiacek, Vince Colletta, Tex Blaisdell, Bob Smith and Joe Rubinstein
    Collects stories from SHAZAM #1-24, 26-35
    $16.99, 560 pages

    As I have pointed out elsewhere, I'm not sure this book (which stretches into 1978 coverdates) proves anything about the Showcase program. Not to be morbid, but several of the creators of the post-1975 issues are now deceased - Bridwell, Schaffenberger, Newton, Colletta. Whether that was a factor is unknown, but it's very odd all the same.

    Writer: Paul Levitz
    Artists: Joe Staton, Steve Mitchell, Bob Layton, Bob Smith, Bruce Patterson, Jerry Ordway and Mike DeCarlo
    Collects DC SUPER STARS #17 and stories from BATMAN FAMILY #18-20, WONDER WOMAN #271-287, 289-290 and 294-295
    $19.99, 224 pages

    This was a surprise, though a pleasant one. I'll bet people will be surprised by the amount of cheesecake in these strips. They're still entertaining, but Helena had a definite clothes problem in her solo stories.

    Writers: Joe Kubert, Bob Haney, Robert Kanigher, Frank Robbins, Archie Goodwin and David Michelinie
    Artists: Joe Kubert, Irv Novick, Doug Wildey, Dan Spiegle and Jack Sparling
    Collects stories from STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES #151-204
    $16.99, 560 pages

    I LOVE THE UNKNOWN SOLIDER STRIP! Definitely buying this one.

Thanks again for dropping in on my parallel world. Leave a comment if you liked it. Oh, and I'll try to be back, too.

Monday, May 08, 2006

When I'm 64

I can see a wave of white anti-matter on the horizon, so don't be surprised if this blog either goes into early retirement or becomes a 404 message one day. I'm not saying I'm definitely giving it up, but certain matters and my spectacular lack of motivation to post here seem to point to Earth B being retconned again.

Before I fade out, I'd like to share with you a few thoughts about the comics industry as a whole. There's been a lot of discussion lately about the "old days" vs. current comics. Now, I buy mostly old stuff these days, but it wasn't always this way. When I returned to the hobby in 1990, I was all aboard on buying new books. I did my duty for years as a faithful reader. But as time went by, I found myself enjoying new comics less and less. There's a sense of "been there, done that" about the whole thing and I couldn't justify shelling out the dough for books that didn't do it for me anymore. If I'm going to continue as part of this hobby, it's going to be based largely on nostalgia because that's the only aspect of it that really resonates for me nowadays.

Of course, as I look back at books from 30 years ago and realize they are the only ones that truly mean anything to me now, I start to wonder what this hobby will be like in 30 more years. The answer, I suspect, would not be to the liking of many people that comprise current comics fandom.

Comics fandom is still a baby boomer driven fandom. I fall outside of that demographic, but I'm no kid anymore myself. Say, where are the kids in comics? Oh, most likely in the bookstore reading manga. But manga isn't "real" comics, you say? It is to them, sparky.

No, I'm not pulling a "Think of the children!" gambit regarding content. I'm saying "Think of the future!" instead. Not the short term future, mind you. Actually, I suspect that will be fine. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if there is at least one more "boom" in the comics industry as we know it.

But if there is such a boom and it goes bust, I think it will be the biggest single collapse in the relatively short history of the American comics industry. I would venture to say that such a collapse would rearrange every single thing about the industry. That is, if it doesn't destroy the one we know entirely.

I think the comics industry is playing in dangerous territory by skewing their main product older and older. There are still "kids" comics, but they might be even more ghettoized than ever. Comic books as we know them cost too much for what they deliver and no longer appeal to most kids from a storytelling standpoint. While there is clearly money to be made in the here and now with this approach, where will we be in 30 years?

In 30 years, the kids of today will be the middle-aged fanboys and fangirls. They'll be the ones with all the money. We're going to be the old folks - those of us who manage to make it that far. Can the comic book industry sustain itself on the goodwill and cash flow of senior citizens who likely will have more pressing concerns than what happens to Batman or Spider-Man next month?

Somehow, I doubt it. The American comic book as it exists now may be driving itself towards extinction in a short-term bid to stay alive. Without building a viable future fanbase, the superheroes are inching ever closer to becoming relics of a bygone age. There will always be comics, and there will probably always be superheroes. I'm just not sure the way things are now is the way they will always be. It's tougher and tougher for all periodicals with each passing year, and comic books are nothing more than disposable culture designed to appeal to a greying and ever-shrinking hardcore fan group.

People have been predicting the death of the comic book longer than I have been alive. I won't say they are doomed. And hey, I could turn out to be completely off-base and everything skips merrily along as if nothing ever happened. It's possible things will be as they've always been.

I just wouldn't call it likely.

If you enjoy current comics, I am happy for you. Also grateful, because you are doing more to keep the industry alive than I am. And if you're making comics, more power to you! I hope you find success. Just always be mindful that we are living in a house of cards and one gets taken away with each passing year. Unless we do something drastic, it's going to fall down around us.

I'm not sure there's a point to all of this. It's just the kind of thing I think about when I'm not pondering whether I should fill out my run of Strange Sports Stories sooner or later.

I'll still be lurking on the fringes of the comics blogosphere, probably commenting at Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin from time to time. Oh, and if you found you enjoyed this little exercise, I can always be found at the LiveJournal on the sidebar over there.

With that, I bid farewell to anyone who happened to be reading. Thanks, and see you around.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

For Creating Fire Alone

You know who I think is highly underrated? E. Nelson Bridwell, that's who.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


JETTAImage borrowed from the fine folks at Airwave Publishing. Hope they don't mind!

Boy howdy, JETTA took awhile to actually get published. It was originally scheduled for November(?) of last year. One resolicitation later and it arrived in my hands just a couple of weeks ago.

This is a collection of 1950s stories by Dan DeCarlo, who would later gain more than a little recognition for his work at Archie Comics. The stories in here are certainly in the Archie mold, with a number of familiar teen comic archetypes. Except - it's all in THE FUTURE! DUM DUM DUM DUM!

Seriously, the stories are cute but hardly groundbreaking stuff. The only difference is all the silly futuristic trappings. The art is all attractive and reproduced fairly well. After seeing several horrible computerized "reconstructions", kudos to Airwave for getting it right. There is some misplaced text in the introduction, but overall I'd say this is a worthy investment for your funnybook dollar if you like teen humor and/or DeCarlo's art. Oh yes, and there's a brand-new story that hits the spot, too.

If JETTA isn't at your local comic book store, it can be ordered directly from Airwave.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


If you're like me (and I know I am), you've been enjoying DC's recent SHOWCASE PRESENTS volumes. For the uninitiated, these massive tomes collect a number of comic stories in an affordable black and white format. Plus, they are printed on what I like to call REAL comic book paper. That slick stuff might be nice sometimes, but it sure isn't authentic.

The giddiness these volumes have generated is apparent with all of the "wish lists" that have been popping up all over the Internet. Everybody has their own ideas of what should be collected and they all want it now. Which is natural, one supposes, but there's a bit of a speed bump in the road.

In this thread, former DC collected editions editor Bob Greenberger revealed something that many of us did not know (quoted here because this thread will likely disappear eventually) :
DC pays a royalty based on a percentage of the cover price to writers, pencillers,and inkers to all material published prior to 1976 and after 1997. For the period in between, the vouchers that were in use called for a set reprint fee to be paid. In some cases, the amount of contractually obligated reprint fees makes the budget for a proposed collection unprofitable. In those cases, DC will either scrap the project or ask the talent involved to waive the reprint fee in lieu of the standard royalty arrangement. If the parties agree, then everyone benefits.

Did you know that? It does explain a lot, and also explains why DC's stated "window" for the SHOWCASE books is 1955-1975 (which has already been demonstrated to be flexible). There's less easily reprintable material prior to 1955 and the reprint fees go up dramatically after 1975. So it might not be wise to clear off space on your bookshelf for further volumes of, say, SHOWCASE PRESENTS : JONAH HEX just yet. While it apparently sold rather well, it might be some time before more books in the series are deemed worthy of the investment.

Then again, this could all change tomorrow. That's comics for you.

EDITED to add - doesn't the "1976-1997" time period coincide almost precisely with Jenette Kahn's stint as DC Comics publisher? Verrrrrry interesting.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Terry Beatty Is A Genius

My friend, you KNOW you needed to see this!

From The Phony Pages #2 (Renegade Press, June 1986).

Visit Terry Beatty online at!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Journey To The Real Earth-2

DC's solicits for July 2006 just went up at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources. Everyone will be giving you their picks, but I just wanted to point out one particular book advance-solicited for Aug. 2.

Written by Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway
Art by Wallace Wood, Joe Staton, Ric Estrada,
Keith Giffen and Bob Layton Cover by Brian Bolland
Collecting ALL-STAR COMICS #58-67, plus the origin of the JSA from DC SPECIAL #29! Witness the continuing adventures of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Wildcat and the rest as they are joined by younger heroes Robin, Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid!
Advance-solicited; on sale August 2 • 224 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The kickin' Brian Bolland cover!

Ooooh, I'm very excited to see this finally coming out. I was hoping they would shoehorn the origin story into the first volume, since it doesn't really "fit" anywhere chronologically in the run. It's a great comic book. The rest are...hmm, I enjoyed them, but I suspect they have gained something of a mystique that may go beyond their actual quality. We shall see. Now, all we have to do is await the inevitable second volume (ALL-STAR COMICS #69-#74 & ADVENTURE COMICS #461-#466). It should be sooner rather than later!

I'm debating that GL "Greatest" trade. That's a maybe. And...wait, wha--?!? JSA is ending? That's certainly a set-up for a relaunch, but came outta left field.

Darn, no SHOWCASE volume this month. Maybe those advance solcits finally caught up with them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Big News For Big Bang!


Written by Allen Berrebbi
Thursday, 13 April 2006


“It’s true! Big Bang has left Image Comics and will be self-publishing the new issues under the name Big Bang Comics,” confirmed BB editor Gary Carlson. “We’ll be right in front of the independent publishers section of Diamond’s Previews, somewhere between Archie and Bongo Comics.

“We’ve been publishing two specials a year under various titles and even our regular fans haven’t been sure what was and wasn’t Big Bang product. This way there will be no confusion.”

“Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino are two of Big Bang’s biggest friends and fans and we appreciate all they’ve done for us,” added Big Bang co-creator Chris Ecker. “Unfortunately, the books have been breaking even financially or losing money for Image for a long time.”

This won’t be the end of Big Bang at Image, however. Erik Larsen is considering a color reprint of the 100+ page 3-part “Timebomber” story line which guest starred the Savage Dragon in issues 12, 14 and 18 of BB.

Big Bang Presents #1 features tributes to two of comic’s greatest creators, Will Eisner and Jack Cole. Protoplasman is a combination of all eras of Jack Cole’s work, from the Claw to Plastic Man through his pre-code horror and crime stories. “It’s kind of a hard-boiled humorous action series,” offered writer Carlson, “This first story is very much an homage to Cole’s Plastic Man. Artist Mort Todd has done a wonderful job! Protoplasman will be a regular visitor in the pages of Big Bang Presents.”

Big Bang’s flagship character the Knight Watchman gets the Will Eisner treatment in ‘”The Camera of Doom,” also written by Gary Carlson, who considers it one of the best Big Bang comics ever produced. “From day one I’ve wanted to mix & match the great artists’ styles with different iconic characters. I still want to see a Bob Kane Ultiman story, a Simon & Kirby Knight Watchman. This story is our guess as to what a Will Eisner Batman story might have been like. Jeff Austin did a wonderful job translating my layouts into finished art.”

Another character scheduled to make her Big Bang debut in BB Presents #1 is Miss Firecracker. Long time Big Bang and Bong artist Mike Worley is slaving over this good girl strip in the Bill Ward tradition.

Big Bang Presents #1 featuring Protoplasman and the Knight Watchman is a 32 page b&w book for $2.95. If all goes well, we’re hoping to be in color by the third issue.

On a personal note, I'd just like to say that I'm cautiously optimistic about this development. BB probably has enough readers to be a modest indy hit, but have been struggling to get noticed since 2001. Will those readers that discovered them through Image follow them? Let's hope so!