Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day 2014!

Happy Mother’s Day 2014! 

Happy Mother’s Day 2014 to all the mothers out there. 

To my mother, Mary, who pretty much has a post about her here

And, to my darling wife Esther, represented by this post

And, what the heck… to “the forgotten mother of comic books”, Matilda Road Runner!  Click on images to enlarge.
Ah, Matilda, we hardly knew ye...
Let's hope your ending was a HAPPY ONE...
...And had nothing to do with HIM!
Oh, wait... I just learned she settled to Florida, won a marathon, and got her own (rhyming) talk show! 
Didn't want to bear any bad news on Mother's Day!


joecab said...

Happy Mother's Day!

(Also, I didn't read much in the way of "funny books" back then, so I had no idea the Road Runner was married, much less had kids! No wonder the poor dear's forgotten.)

Joe Torcivia said...


The funny thing is that Matilda appeared in only the very first few issues – and was never seen, or referred to, again!

After that, it was just “Beep-Beep” (Poppa) and the three nameless boys, until the comics ended in 1984!

That would include the issue with the COVER ART you were with me when I purchased!

joecab said...

Heh, it was fun watching you haggle like a pro on that cover art. Ahh, it's nice being around my fellow native Noo Yawkahs again :)

Hey! I just noticed: Wilma doesn't look "expectant" in that shot on the Flintstones cover. I wonder if this was before it was drawn blind without having known she was going to look pregnant on the TV or if Gold Key would never have allowed it?

Joe Torcivia said...

If I had to guess, knowing how long Gold Key worked in advance (Reportedly, sometimes up to two years), my feeling would be that the debate over Wilma’s look (if, indeed, there was one) might not have been settled – or have been communicated to a licensee like Western Publishing – before the book began to take shape.

Then again, it COULD just as easily have been an internal Gold Key mandate. They never submitted to the Comics Code Authority, because their own in-house code was supposed to be even more stringent. So, chalk it up to yet another of those things we’ll just never know…

…Like why Road Runners spoke in rhyme, and formed nuclear families with disappearing moms!

top_cat_james said...

Kind of an ironic post considering most mothers aren't exactly fond of comic books.Don't know about your mom, but my mater referred to our four color friends as junk, waste of money, and fire hazard, among other evocative sobriquets. All through my adolescence, I was constantly badgered to "sell/throw those things away". That my collection remained unscathed during those years is a miracle in itself.

And yet, she wasn't entirely dismissive or ignorant of the medium - she knew who Stan Lee and Carl Barks were, for example. And she loved Little Lulu - I would occasionally catch her poring over my Golden Comics Digest reprints of those great Stanley stories. She would also recall how much fun she and her siblings had laughing at how utterly dorky fifties era Lois Lane was in the Superman titles.

So why the attitude change? Maybe because of a mothers' predisposition to want their surroundings neat and orderly. Or she was concerned I would become an addicted collector/hoarder and spend all my money. I don't know.

She did know of my love of the comics medium, and my desire to one day obtain a career in that field, and I was always strongly encouraged by her to pursue my ambitions towards that goal.

All I can add is I miss her, and wish I give her a Mother's Day greeting. And that I hope your mom and spouse have a wonderful day as well.

Joe Torcivia said...

That is one wonderful post, TCJ!

Capturing, perhaps, the full range of feelings that result, whenever mothers and comic books intersect!

Mine never actively opposed my “avid reading and long-term physical retention of the objects” (we didn’t “collect” back then – at least, not as we know the term from the ‘80s and onward), but she certainly did nothing to encourage it.

More “neutral / negative”, and maybe for some of the reasons you mention. And, it is not coincidental that my “collection” (by now, we had just entered the eighties) grew exponentially once I moved out of the house!

You’ve painted a nice picture of your mother for us, and I thank you for that – and for the good wishes which, needless to say, are warmly returned.

scarecrow33 said...

I will unabashedly state that this is my favorite, repeat, all-time favorite issue of "The Flintstones" comic book! I first became aware of its existence in one of the in-house ads for Gold Key comics in a Donald Duck book that I had "inherited" from a couple of years previously. I wanted so much to read it for many, many, many years.I never got my hands on a copy of this issue until age 40 or so, but was as delighted with it as I would have been if I had gotten it years earlier. I now have at least 3-4 copies of it.

Yes, the one flaw is that panel 2 on the cover should show Wilma as "with child". But look carefully at the way she is drawn. It would only take a slightly thicker line to make her appear in "the family way." I have a wild guess, which of course can only be guesswork, that the panel was originally designed so that Wilma's dress might be drawn slightly larger, in a tasteful manner. It may have been originally drawn that way, and then an editor's pencil required the look to be slimmed down, or maybe it was just designed so that "in case" they were permitted to show her as pregnant, it would be possible to touch up the picture with a single stroke. One day I am actually going to make a photocopy of that cover and touch up that picture the right way.

Wilma was shown as pregnant on TV, in the comic strip, and also in a later children's book from the 80's or 90's that retold the story of Pebbles' birth. But both in the Gold Key and Blackthorne comic book versions of the birth story, Wilma is not shown as pregnant. The Blackthorne version takes a stab in that direction by giving her a tiny "bump" that looks like she might have swallowed an orange whole, but she does not really look pregnant at any time in that issue. So I guess it was OK for younger kids who would read the simplified version of the story in the Turner Cartoon Network book or for mainstream audiences who would be watching on TV or reading the newspapers to see Wilma as pregnant, but it would somehow be "harmful" for older kids (and I'm sure there were a number of adult readers as well) to see her depicted that way in a comic book. Makes little sense.

Oh, well, when Blondie was pregnant in the film "Blondie's Blessed Event," she was slim as a twig while en route to the hospital. And I have heard that some women barely show at all even at full term, so I guess it's possible for both Blondie and Wilma to remain willowy throughout their respective pregnancies.

More later--

scarecrow33 said...

continued from previous comments:

As for Matilda, she is another of my all-time favorite comic book characters. I enjoyed her appearances in the early Beep Beep comics and even though she was absent for many later issues, her legacy lived on in the forms of her three young offspring. I guess I always figured that Matilda was still in the background even when not actually present in a given story.

One more thing that makes the Flintstones issue remarkable, aside from the fact that it was never reprinted in any form as far as I am aware, is--how many times has a brand-new character been introduced into a comic book series through being born into it? This and the later story of the Rubbles' adoption of Bamm-Bamm seem to me to be the only instances when a major new character who was destined to become a permanent part of the cast of characters was born or adopted and became a permanent recurring character. I know that the Batman universe has had Damian Wayne who was "born" into that series several years ago and then recently revived, but Damian was never a permanent member of the Batman cast, and I believe he was killed off shortly after his teen-age debut? So Damian is not as firmly established a character in comics as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm instantly became. Also in the Bewitched comic book from Dell, the character of Tabitha was introduced in an early issue, but there was no "birth" story, she just suddenly appeared, and as the comic book did not have a very long life, this too does not seem on a par with the introduction of Pebbles. (Heck, the "dreaded" Charlton issues even used the full title "The Flintstones and Pebbles" for every issue of their comic book--if that doesn't represent permanancy, I don't know what does.) Of course, the "three little beeps" were "born" in their first comic book appearance, hence the primary reason for including Matilda as part of the early cast of Road Runner characters. And Oswald Rabbit adopted his two sons, and Woody Woodpecker had two nephews who later morphed into a niece and nephew. But none of these have the iconic star status of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. And Donald Duck's nephews were a part of the scene from the earliest comic book stories, having been "introduced" into print via the DD comic strip, but not in a comic book. Any other instances of a major character born or adopted into a comic book series? I can't think of a one.

By the way, thanks, Joe, for this great Mother's Day post!

Joe Torcivia said...


Oddly, I never had that particular issue of THE FLINTSTONES as a young reader either (as well as the following issue, # 12), though I actually DID have most of them! And, I also didn’t get a copy until I was over 40! The way things happen, sometimes…

That’s a nice survey of “kid character additions” over the years – including the “until recently, heretofore unknown Damien Wayne"! Damien, by the way, just received a great treatment in the direct-to-DVD “Son of Batman”, released just this past week!

But, yes... None of them (save Huey, Dewey, and Louie) were nearly as iconic as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm!

Since Wilma was never seen as pregnant INSIDE issue # 11 of THE FLINTSTONES (Pebbles was being brought home, as the lead story begins), all Gold Key’s editors REALLY had to do was MOVE THE POSITIONING OF HER SUITCASE to be held across her body, so that everything is left to the imagination!

Simple, eh? Oh, the things I could have done, if only I could have worked for them! :-)

And, I will always love that we ACTUALLY SAW the Three Little Beeps being born / hatched ON PANEL! (…as I did in the reprint in GOLDEN COMICS DIGEST # 17, 1971). I don’t think ANY other “young additions” can equal THAT feat!

Elaine said...

Lest we paint all mothers with a broad, comics-averse brush... I will honor my mother one day late by saying that her theory was that Reading Was Good, the more we read the better, comic books or series books (Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Tom Swift) or real lit'rature. She read aloud to us a great deal, books written for adults or books written for children or comic books. She had trouble reading us Little Lulu, though, because it would make her laugh so much.

Joe Torcivia said...

That’s great, and very fair to mothers everywhere, Elaine! And, thank you for honoring your mother here! In doing so, you’ve honored me too!

It’s READING that counts, first and foremost! Whatever material you then become fond of is only icing! …And us folks here, sure have picked some tasty icing!

My grandmother (my mother’s mother) must have also felt that way. Because it was she who bought me my first comic books (mostly Dells) – and read them to me, until I could read myself, including the second issue of BEEP BEEP THE ROAD RUNNER (FOUR COLOR # 1008, when Matilda was still part of the cast) and my first exposure to Carl Barks and Paul Murry in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 226.

In fact, considering that the Road Runner cartoons didn’t come to TV until 1960, as part of THE BUGS BUNNY SHOW on ABC prime time - and FC-1008 was released in 1959, it was the rhyming nuclear family of Road Runners that I saw first! That’s most likely why Matilda still holds a special place with me!

Dan said...

A fine post, Joe—I hope everyone was able to celebrate their own Mom in some way this past Sunday.

The "Birth of Pebbles" was a favorite issue, and still kept true to the spirit of the series at the time. I doubt if the issue was prepped too far in advance from the actual episode. Here's why:

The story goes that late in production of Season 3 (remember, Pebbles was born in Ep. 23 of Season 3), Joe Barbera attended a Network meeting where abc execs asked what the baby's gender was. Joe proudly stated: "It's a boy! Fred Jr.! A chip off the old rock!"

To which an exec replied: "Too bad. We had a pending deal with Ideal toys. Could've sold a ton of baby girl dolls."

To which Mr. Barbera proudly re-stated: "Did I say a boy? It's a GIRL! Pebbles! A pebble off the old Flintstone!"

Now, I'm sure that tale has gotten somewhat warped as it was passed along, but it certainly sounds like something the dynamic Mr. Barbera could pull off!

I'd agree that Gold Key was likely holding to their own code parameters (and the ghosts of the "Dell Pledge to Parents") which is why the Editors chose to show Wilma with her usual, trim figure. It makes sense too, since they didn't choose to follow the show and lead up to the event in preceding issues, much less spend more than a single cover panel showing her full figure during gestation.

Over at YOWP, Jim posted a 1962 article that foreshadowed another birth, this time for George & Jane had "The Jetsons" survived a second season for it's initial run (no doubt another girl to sell some MORE dolls!) Too bad: I'm sure we would have seen Jane in a slimming anti-gravity maternity dress, followed by some creative futuristic playpens, highchairs and such! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...


I would not be at all surprised if the long lead-times at Western Pub. were circumvented for the event of Pebble’s birth. That also showed in some subsequent stories where Pebbles was not seen. These were probably pushed back from earlier efforts.

I also believe the story about “Mister B.”.

And, three children would have put The Jetsons in FAMILY GUY territory. Imagine if the new li’l (jet) screamer were a flamboyant evil genius like Stewie! Look out, Cosmo G. Spacely!

rodineisilveira said...

This Flintstones cover, which announces the Pebbles' birth, was drawn by the legendary Harvey Eisenberg (a.k.a. the "Carl Barks from Hanna-Barbera").