Monday, September 17, 2018

"That's -30-" for Us with Issue 40

Here's a very important message from your humble blogger...

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own.

Ordinarily, we would CLOSE such a post with this now-familiar passage, but it seemed imperative to me that, on this occasion, we OPEN with it!  

And, for anyone wondering about the title of our post, its meaning can be found both HERE and HERE!    

At least its "meaning of origin".  Its emotional meaning, as employed in our title, is another matter entirely!   

Since the introduction of the IDW Disney comic book line in 2015...

...And going back several years - and two publishers - before that...

...I have been both blessed and privileged to work as "translator and dialogue creator" for these extraordinary comics, working alongside such equally extraordinary talents as Jonathan Gray, Thad Komorowski, and Archival Editor David Gerstein. 

 From UNCLE SCROOGE # 34 IDW (2017)

Let alone the still greater privilege of serving the stories of such Disney comic book legends as Romano Scarpa, Giorgio Cavazzano, Andrea ("Casty") Castellan, Giovan Battista Carpi, Luciano Bottaro, Vito Stabile, and so many more - including classic-era American creators such as Paul Murry, Tony Strobl, and Vic Lockman!  

...And even the creator of Superman - Jerry Siegel! 

With IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE # 40 - on sale September 19, 2018 - and with a scant few coming exceptions, this comes to an end.  

New and different individuals will be responsible for the line after that, promising to bring what has been described in the advance solicitations as a "Fresh and Modern" approach!  

I wish them and their efforts well, and urge you to check them out - as I will do.  

With that, I'd like to thank everyone and anyone at IDW - and before that at Gemstone and Boom! Studios - as well as anyone at Disney itself who allowed me to fulfill a lifetime ambition.  

And, the most special thanks of all to my fellow members of the (here's that word again) extraordinary team of Gerstein, Gray, and Komorowski - for the amazing "creative environment" that occurred whenever we got together... and for inspiring me to "elevate my own work" ever higher!  

You will still find me contributing to the (...Can I say it one more time?) extraordinary Fantagraphics "Disney Masters" line of hardcover books, where I will continue to "work with" stories by the greats like Scarpa, Bottaro, and Carpi, and contribute analysis and historical perspective to the work of other creators such as Paul Murry.  

Now, let's just look ahead to this new phase in the "Overall Continuum of American Disney Comic Magazines", ongoing since 1940 (!), and enjoy what's coming next!        

That's -30-!  ...And thanks! 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: The Strange Case of Walt Disney Showcase!

Last post, we made the case for IDW's WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6 being a substitute for the never-published PHANTOM BLOT # 8.

But, did you know this is not the first time "WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE" substituted for an unexpectedly canceled favorite comic book title of the 1960s? 

MOBY DUCK made his debut in Gold Key's DONALD DUCK # 112 (Cover Date: March, 1967)...

...became a recurring member of Donald's supporting cast...

...and finally achieved an ongoing title of his own!  

Above is MOBY DUCK # 11 (Cover Date: October, 1970).  After this issue, I eagerly awaited MOBY DUCK # 12... not knowing that the title had been cancelled!  

But, unlike with PHANTOM BLOT 7 in 1966...

...which was followed by nothing bearing the name "The Phantom Blot", until 2018's  IDW WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6...

...Something unexpected DID turn up in the fall of 1970, when MOBY DUCK # 12 was to be released!  

Would you believe a GOLD KEY issue of a title called WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE?  

Apparently, this was to be both the cover and contents of MOBY DUCK # 12.  And, while it did help soften the blow of MOBY DUCK's abrupt cancellation, it also meant that Moby was (pardon the expression)... sunk!  

On the bright side, however, there eventually WAS an actual MOBY DUCK # 12 - though it wouldn't arrive until 1973 - and in the very same month that it should have arrived in 1970!  Imagine that! 

This particular run of MOBY DUCK would continue until early 1978, ending with issue # 30!  But, if that isn't enough to make this an "Adventure in Comic-Boxing", consider that MOBY DUCK # 30 - the final issue of the title in the USA -  ended with a reprint of THIS...

Yes, the cover and lead story of "The-MOBY-DUCK-#12- That-Never-Was" became part of the regular run with its final issue!  

We'll close with a small "gallery" of abruptly-cancelled titles and "The-WALT-DISNEY-SHOWCASE-Issues-That-Followed-Them"!  

PHANTOM BLOT # 7 (1966) and WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6 (2018)

MOBY DUCK # 11 (1970),  GOLD KEY WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 2 (1970) and MOBY DUCK # 30 (1978)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Gag 52 Years in the Making!

This is THE PHANTOM BLOT # 7 (Cover Date: November, 1966) released in August, 1966 by Gold Key Comics.  Cover and interior art by Paul Murry.

Little did I know - or did ANYONE know - back in those "information-less" days, that this was to be the last ever issue of THE PHANTOM BLOT!

The Phantom Blot was a particular favorite character of mine since this 1964 issue of WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES...

...And remains so to to this day, where it's been a great honor for me to work with the character in modern comic books!

Culminating with WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6 (Released August 15, 2018), the first issue of a regular comic book to be devoted (...or, at least "Cover-Billed") to the Phantom Blot SINCE that 1966 issue!

Therein, you'll find - and this is NOT a spoiler to the overall story - a gag, with dialogue wholly of my own invention, concerning the Blot's capture by the police.

Here is the gag presented in greater context... Rival villains The Phantom Blot and Peg Leg Pete with their respective henchmen, and Police Detective Casey with newly arrived super-cop Brick Boulder, have all been involved in various intrigues and misunderstandings in an art museum.

Much hilarity has ALREADY ensued, but continues with the arrival of Police Chief O' Hara and a squad of officers.

Now, how does all this tie in with my young reading days of 1966?  

Glad you asked... And even if you didn't, I'm gonna tell you anyway!

In those original issues of THE PHANTOM BLOT comic book, the interior story would run for 32 PAGES uninterrupted by ads - that is, for the entirety of the book!

The 32 page story from PHANTOM BLOT # 4 (Cover Date: October, 1965):  Story by Bob Ogle.  Art by Paul Murry. 

The BACK COVER was a "pin-up" that consisted of the COVER IMAGE, sans logo and any other descriptive text.

Front Cover and Back Cover Pin Up - by Paul Murry!

And ON the INSIDE FRONT COVER, as well as the INSIDE BACK COVER, would run "one-page gags" about the Blot... as below.

(Gag drawn by Paul Murry!  Click to Enlarge!) 

After reading THE PHANTOM BLOT # 7, way back in August of 1966, I conceived such a one-page Blot gag of my own!

Here it is, presented for the first time outside of my mind!  Picture it drawn by Paul Murry, as these gags most often were...

PANEL ONE (FULL WIDTH OF 1st TIER): LOGO: "Walt Disney's The Phantom Blot". 

BLOT is in a MUSEUM. Having just ripped a valuable PAINTING from its exhibit, he runs off to RIGHT.

PANEL TWO (HALF WIDTH OF 2nd TIER): With painting tucked under his arm, his run comes to a SKIDDING STOP. 

PANEL THREE (HALF WIDTH OF 2nd TIER): Blot is FROZEN. Transfixed at the sight of SOMETHING OFF-PANEL to RIGHT.  

PANEL FOUR (FULL WIDTH OF 3rd TIER): COP walks BLOT (still transfixed) to PADDY WAGON, as CHIEF O'HARA looks on.

COP: "I just FOUND HIM staring at an exhibit of VICTORIAN INK BLOTS!"

BLOT (still happily dazed - shape of balloon and nature of lettering should indicate this): "SUBLIME!"


This is how I would describe it as a writer TODAY!  In August, 1966, it was as fully-realized in my mind's eye as any ACTUAL Blot gag!  

Any of this sound familiar 52 years later? 

Alas, there never was a PHANTOM BLOT # 8 published back in 1966!  Though I looked for one for quite some time thereafter. 

It wasn't until my first OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE in the early 1980s, that I realized that no PHANTOM BLOT # 8 ever existed!

However, WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6, with its book-length story "Chief Casey's Longest Night", written in Italy by Tito Faraci, with art by Giorgio Cavazzano, and "translation and dialogue" by yours truly, is more than a worthy substitute for the long-awaited-but-never-realized PHANTOM BLOT # 8 of 1966!  

So much so, that I will store an extra copy of WALT DISNEY SHOWCASE # 6 with my original 1960s run of THE PHANTOM BLOT... right where # 8 would have been!   

I guess all things REALLY DO come to he, she, it, or they who wait... even if it takes 52 years! 

For our pal "Spectrus", we present a full page of the Blot unmasked, as he appeared in this story.  Please see Spectrus' request in our Comments Section!  (Click to Enlarge!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TIAH Blog at TEN! (...Film at Eleven?)

Today, August 14, 2018, is the 10th Anniversary of TIAH Blog!  Here is the story of how it all came together.  Buckle your seat belts...

In the beginning, there was a fellow named Dana Gabbard, who published a fanzine called “The Duckburg Times”…

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

In the beginning, there was a blank sheet of paper in high school English class and a totally “blank mind” in the unfocused head of yours truly, unable to produce a composition.  I just couldn't come up with a thing to write about!  

Then, with only a few minutes remaining in the class period before I’d find myself turning in that “blank sheet” and receiving a grade of ZERO... INSPIRATION STRUCK – and I began to furiously write something titled “Sir Snagglepuss and the Dragon”… which, as you might guess, was about the beloved pink Shakespeare-spouting Hanna-Barbera mountain lion in the role of a (brave?) knight forced into noble combat with a… well, you know!   

On that day, I realized that I could write... Both well and funny enough to entertain and delight myself… and hopefully others! 

...Though I'm not sure that composition broke a grade of 70 - but *I* liked it! 

STILL, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

In the beginning, there was this very special first comic book (that I still have) purchased for me by my maternal grandmother at some long-gone candy store in the Williamsburg Section of Brooklyn, NY (…probably a condemned structure in the 1970s and ‘80s, and now the site of some “trendy hipster restaurant” or something)!

I could not read – much less even know what the heck TO DO with this unusual, fragile-yet-both attractive-and-compelling object.  But Grandma Millie soon provided the answer when she began to read it to me! 

I didn’t know it then, but I was hooked into something that would last the rest of my life! 

But, what I DID eventually “know”, once I learned to read things for myself, was that Grandma Millie was not actually reading this comic book to me – or any others that followed.  She simply “extrapolated something” from the panels – and that was “the story she read” to me!  …And if you think that wasn’t the SWEETEST THING for an old Italian lady to do… think again!    

Other comic books came along in rapid succession…

This is a sampling of comics I actually had brand new - and still do, even if (in a few cases) they are not my original copies anymore! 

And, thanks to these and others I’ve mercifully (for you) omitted, I was reading - by myself - before I entered kindergarten!  ...Don't worry, you'll see MANY more comics I've had over the years, before I'm through! Let's move on...

There were also some very special TV SHOWS that only served to further my pre-school zeal for those comic books! 

Later, there were other special comic books...

Then, there were other special TV shows…

…And still other special comic books!

...Oh, and did I mention there were LOTS of special comics?  

...And more...

...And still more...

...Not finished yet...

And that's just a mere cross-section, representative of the comics I had, read, and enjoyed so much, back in my sainted middle-sixties!

It all “went away” about 1971-1972, when girls, school, and jobs took precedence.  ...Oh, did I mention girls. 

I missed some great stuff...

Don't worry!  I got them all in later years! 

But in 1980-1981, it all came roaring back with the quite accidental discoveries of both comic conventions…

These were the first two comics I ever bought as "back issues" at a comics convention - in Spring, 1980! 

…And Comic Book Shops! 

Above and below... Some of the very first "new" comics I ever purchased in an actual comic book shop, vs. a candy story or newsstand, circa early 1980s.

It was at one of those comic conventions that someone gave me a copy of “The Duckburg Times” and another fanzine called “The Barks Collector”, and encouraged me to contact the persons who assembled them. 
Yes, that's a cover by William Van Horn! 

I did, and Dana Gabbard encouraged me to write for his fine publication. 

That lead to other such involvements.  So many that I felt I needed to write with something of a “consistent voice”, and so “THE ISSUE AT HAND” fanzine and APA (Amateur Press Association) column was born in 1994!  By my count, it appeared in five different publications – and one or two more that never quite got off the ground. 

As those publications eventually dwindled and died, I found myself in an “unofficial successor” to one of my original venues, where the various contributors were more inclined to write poetry, or describe their latest travel escapades… with little interest in (as my masthead still says) “The Things That Interest Me”! 

So, on August 14, 2008 – TEN YEARS AGO – TIAH Blog (short for “The Issue At Hand” – which referred to “issues” of comic books) went online, and the last print vestige of TIAH delivered its farewell not long thereafter. 

…I doubt the poets and travelers missed it much! 

But, it was the best decision I could have made – as the writing I've enjoyed since “Sir Snagglepuss” came together with comic books and products of animation, television, and film (courtesy of DVD)… and, despite myself, this Blog somehow attracted the GREATEST GROUP OF READERS AND COMMENTERS I could ever hope to have!  …Even if you DO “write poetry or travel” in your off hours! 

I’d like to thank ALL OF YOU for making this such a great place to gather and discuss those very “Things That Interest Me” – and that, hopefully interest you all as well! 

Thank you for every precious, fun moment of those ten years!  …Who’s up for another ten, huh? 

Finally, HERE is a link to my (now-uncharacteristically brief) opening post!