Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween – From Some of Your Favorite Zombies!

Bombie the Zombie has brought along some of his friends to wish you Happy Halloween, 2014 (Hey, that RHYMES!), from TIAH Blog!  

"Night of the Living Dead" (1968).  Actually, they were "Flesh-Eating Ghouls".  

"The Walking Dead" (2010).  Actually, they are "Walkers" - or "Biters", if you subscribe to The Governor's terminology.  

...Say, aren't there any REAL ZOMBIES around here?  

Oh, yes.  Thank goodness for The Simpsons!  (Click to Enlarge, if you dare!) 

Methinks Bart must be watching THE WALKING DEAD, instead of FAMILY GUY, Sunday nights at 9!  

Shhhh!  Nobody tell Stewie, or Bart might soon become a zombie himself!  

"Don't have a Dead Cow, Man!"

After all this, Bombie, thinks we shoulda stayed in bed!  

Happy Halloween! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Same Smith Time! ...Different Smith Channel!

Two of our favorite topics at TIAH Blog are BATMAN ‘66 (the original TV show AND the wonderful current comic book ) and LOST IN SPACE (the original show and, if this Blog had existed in the ‘90s, the then-current and sometimes controversial comic book). 

Those of you who knew both series from original prime-time network airings, as opposed to decades of syndicated reruns, know that BATMAN ‘66 and LOST IN SPACE are inextricably linked in a way far greater than merely as frequent topics of posting at this Blog.

BATMAN ‘66 and LOST IN SPACE were COMPETING NETWORK SERIES, back when there were only THREE television networks (I’m not counting PBS, or was it “NET” back then, for the sake of this discussion), and said competition was far more concentrated than it is today, with thousands of viewing options. 

BATMAN ‘66 was in full color on ABC, and LOST IN SPACE began in Black and White on CBS.  Both were broadcast Wednesday night at 7:30.  Yes, in “Ye Olden Days”, prime time began weeknights at 7:30, and was probably the REASON series such as BATMAN ‘66 and LOST IN SPACE came into existence – as all-around family shows to safely occupy the earliest of the prime time slots. 

LOST IN SPACE premiered in September, 1965, while BATMAN ‘66 followed as a mid-season replacement series in January, 1966. 

BATMAN’s “camp approach” had an immediate and profound effect on LOST IN SPACE, which began taking greater advantage of the unique talents of Jonathan Harris as “reluctant stowaway” Doctor Zachary Smith, by featuring his still unique brand of “comedic villainy” to a greater and greater degree.  

By the Second Season of LOST IN SPACE, now in full color and looking like a true mid-1960s show, the “BATMAN ‘66 influence” had exerted itself upon LOST IN SPACE to the point of (almost) no return. 

Thus, BATMAN ‘66 and LOST IN SPACE were, and ARE, forever linked! 

This lengthy history lesson serves only to better explain the wonderful surprise that awaits readers of the comic book BATMAN ‘66 # 14, in which the link between the two series is as “alive and well” as it was in 1966. 

BTW, “It’s NOT Gigantic”, no matter what the cover says!  In the story, “The Bat-Robot” stands about eight feet tall, and is not the behemoth pictured here.  

A hallmark of LOST IN SPACE was the constant verbal sparring between Doctor Smith and the nameless “General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot”.  This made for some wonderful character bits (…and, I maintain, formed the basis for C3PO and R2D2 in STAR WARS, but, that’s only MY opinion) that remain fondly remembered today. 

A hallmark of BATMAN ‘66 was the “Bat-climb” up the side of a tall building, during which a window would inevitably open, and out would pop the talking head of a celebrity, or other well-known personality, to briefly engage Batman and Robin in conversation, before the Caped Crusaders would continue their climb and resume their mission.  Window-poppers ranged from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Ted Cassidy as THE ADDAMS FAMILY’s “Lurch”.  This, too, is fondly remembered today. 

Look!  It's the Green Hornet and Kato!  That would make a great COMIC BOOK someday!  

Back in the day, given the competition between BATMAN ‘66 and LOST IN SPACE, I thought it would be a superb gag to have Jonathan Harris pop out of the window, in character as Doctor Smith.  Of course, I’m certain there were all sorts of legal reasons to keep that from happening but, nevertheless, it WOULD have been a superb gag. 

Doctor Smith never "popped" out of a window, but he remained "pop" nonetheless!  

But, all things come to those who Bat-wait, and 2014’s BATMAN ‘66 # 14 presented the story of “The Batman Robot”, a crime-fighting automaton built to patrol Gotham City because Bruce Wayne felt that his youthful ward Dick Grayson “…should have a [more] well-rounded life, not in endless pursuit of the scourges of society.”


So, in place of Batman and Robin (gone fishing in their secret identities), it is “The Batman Robot” that now makes the “Bat-climb” up the side of a tall building… 

...and WHO do you think pops out of the window? 


And how perfect is it that Doctor Smith verbally spars through that window, not with BATMAN, but with a ROBOT! 

Writer Jeff Parker sure knows what he’s doing, with his handling of this wonderful series! 

 …And, despite my uncharacteristic complaints over one aspect of the series that didn’t “ring true” for me HERE, he even gets the 1966 TV Joker down right in this issue! 

"Yes!  I finally APPROVE!"  

Craig Rousseau, former artist of IMPULSE (another favorite DC Comics series of the ‘90s and early ‘00s) does the artistic honors on Doctor Smith.   

You'd better behave, Doctor Smith, The Bat-Robot is watching you!  

 ...He knows when you are sleeping!  He knows when you're awake...  You "BAT-ter be good for goodness sake!"

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Looong New York Comic Con 2014 Moment # 3: And a Great Time Was Had By All!

Rounding out our coverage of New York Comic Con 2014, Friday was lots of fun, Saturday was greater still, and Sunday was a nice wind-down day.  Just the way you’d hope such a four-day event would go. 

You can read about the events of Day 1 (Thursday) HERE

Day 2 (Friday), the crowds were still above my recollected norms for the day.  As reported in the Comments Section of the Day 1 post, I made no new purchases, but had a great outdoor lunch with the incomparable David Gerstein (...he, whom no new Disney comic book publisher should be without!), former Gemstone Editor-in-Chief John Clark (it’s an annual treat to get together with John), and Rick Keane whom I’d never met, but is a particularly fine fellow. Also, got to chat with good friend Jonathan Gray; of the ARCHIE and SONIC world, and a former Disney comics contributor like myself.

Spent a portion of the day attending a panel spotlighting comics writer Brian K. Vaughn, in order to obtain Vaughn’s autograph for a friend, and found him to be quite interesting and entertaining.  I’m certain I’ve read something by him for BATMAN some years back, and his Vertigo series “Y THE LAST MAN” sounds interesting enough for an eventual looksee. 

If you read the aforementioned comments on the Day 1 Blog post, you’d come away with the idea that I was feeling somewhat jaded toward the general con-going experience.  Particularly over the relatively few purchases of “Nothing Special in Particular” like that first issue of Charlton’s HUCKLEBERRY HOUND (Ugh!), the overload of Hollywood and cosplayers, and the upped crowd totals. 

No cosplayer would ever look as bad as this!

That may have been true at the time I wrote it – and pretty much still is – but all that was about to change…

Mickey and Spongebob together couldn't equal the happiness!

Day 3 (Saturday) was EVERYTHING the comic-con experience should be, and more! 

Being surrounded by good friends ALWAYS makes the day great, and spending the vast majority of Saturday with both David Gerstein and Dan Cunningham really put this day on the map for me.  Thanks, fellas!  And, also to Thad Komorowski, who joined us for a time as well. 

Why, even the CROWDS seemed somehow more manageable!  Or, was this day SO GREAT, I just didn't notice them! 

Then, there was the “rejuvenation in comics” that began with finding a Whitman variant of an issue of DONALD DUCK (# 143, released in March, 1972) which struck me as being EARLIER than I would have expected Whitman variants of Gold Key Comics titles to have occurred.  

Though, a Grand Comics Database search reveals that Whitman variants began as early as DONALD DUCK # 140, released in September, 1971.  That IS earlier than I would have expected Whitman variants to occur.

# 153 - The first issue of the Big Scooby Purchase! 
The roll continued with the acquisition of 42 issues of DC’s SCOOBY-DOO title (from 2010 to the present) for forty dollars.  That’s MUCH less than half the cover price, which went from 2.50 to 2.99 during that period! 

…If you don’t mind my saying so, “That’s a lot of Doo! 

It covers the period where the title switched over from SCOOBY-DOO, to the more traditional and classic SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU, the title it sports today.

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 50: The current issue, as of this writing. 

As you know, I’m a big fan of the SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title, but I’m a little conflicted on whether to add the current SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU title to my newly-reinstated comic shop pull-list.  

Awesome Sauce!  It's SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP! 

Oh, I’ve really enjoyed those issues I’ve read from that prodigious purchase – particularly the “Comic Con tribute issue”, SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #47 (Cover Date: September, 2014), with a wonderful new lead story with a denouement offering all the delightful absurdity of the “humorously bizarre villain motives” most often found in the recent TV series SCOOBY-DOO MYSTERY INCORPORATED…

…But, as presently constituted, the current "non-TEAM-UP" SCOOBY-DOO comics appear to run a new ten-page lead story, with the balance of each issue filled with REPRINTS from DC’s earlier SCOOBY-DOO title!  That means you get that wonderful Comic-Con story by SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP writer Sholly Fisch and LOONEY TUNES artist Dave Alvarez – but you also get older stories that I already own from years of purchasing DC’s SCOOBY title. 

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 47: 2014 San Diego Comic Con Variant!
At least DC plays fair with us by placing a line like this (seen in SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #47) in the indicia of each issue:  This issue contains reprint material from SCOOBY-DOO issue 77".

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 47: 2014 Regular Edition
…And, I’m just not sure I want to by a regular monthly title with that much material that I already own.   Frankly, I’m surprised at DC packing a regular line book with reprints, in an age where the back issues are so readily available because they’ve never been discarded, but remain in comic shop back issue and discount bins.

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #48 (above) features a clever, reference-laden new story about Shaggy's garage sale -- and the stuff he'd like to unload, like the Mano-Tiki-Tia mask (from "A Tiki Scare is No Fair"), and other items held onto since the old TV episodes...

...But, it's also balanced off by a reprint that is clearly from 2004!  (Note Freddy's then-current, ascot-less "WHAT'S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO" outfit!)  

Yeah, I know it’s not much different from when Gold Key routinely reprinted ‘50s Dell Comics material in its 1960s regular line – but, because those ‘50s Dells were not exactly available to everyone in 1965, it’s still different enough. 

For now, I think I’ll just stick with SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, but enjoy the issues I got at such a huge discount.

Also, for 50% off cover price, I found a hardcover copy of IDW’s (there’s that name, again) hardcover of “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1959-1961”.  Still another high-quality product from this high-quality publisher, featuring stories from Superman creator Jerry Siegel and classic Superman artists Wayne Boring and Curt Swan.  I had great fun reading that on the train ride home that night. 

I also had a pleasant chat with DC and Marvel artist Alex Saviuk, at his table in Artist’s Alley.  I had always admired Alex’s work, particularly for DC Comics during the early to mid-‘80s, but there was an added incentive to seek him out…

Superman and President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office - by Alex Saviuk.
Please forgive the tilted angle, as a result of scanning a large sheet of full page art with a small scanner. 

It seems that my darling wife Esther plays Mah-Jong with Saviuk’s sister-in-law, and Alex had a great laugh at our “connection”.  Naturally, the topic quickly turned from Mah-Jong-playing relatives to comics.  Alex had a particular page of art that featured Superman, the villain “Neutron”, and former president Ronald Reagan, which I was certain came from this issue of ACTION COMICS…

ACTION COMICS # 526 Cover Date: December 1981

…But, Saviuk’s recollection was that he had done the story through DC for the German market.  I bought the page, which he autographed, and looked up the issue of ACTION that night.  Sure enough, Superman, Neutron, and Reagan were in the issue – but it was drawn by fellow artist Joe Staton. 

Ronnie and Nancy meet Clark, Lois, and Jimmy, by Joe Staton in ACTION COMICS # 526!  ...And (Gulp!), could that be STAN LEE between the President and Clark Kent?!  (Choke!) Click to enlarge.  Hey, "Morgan Edge" is there, too!  Remember him?  

Superman and President Reagan by Alex Saviuk.  

Oddly, Alex Saviuk had drawn the back-up story of “Air Wave” in that issue, so my recollections of a 1981 issue of ACTION COMICS with Superman, Neutron, Ronald Reagan – and Alex Saviuk were correct, but just not that particular story.  I went back the following day, and told Alex he’d “won the bet”.   

Air Wave, by Alex Saviuk, also from ACTION COMICS # 526.  Click to enlarge. 

The day was perfectly capped by dinner with David and Dan at “Daisy May’s BBQ USA” restaurant – a new place for us, discovered by David, on 11th Avenue, just north of NYCC at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center.  We’ll be going back to that one!   

Day 4 (Sunday) was a text-book wind-down day, after the full-tilt fun-fest of Saturday! 

Began the day at Midtown Comics, before going to the Con.  At their exhibit, Midtown Comics gave “20 % discount cards” to all visitors. 

So impressed was I with IDW’s “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1959-1961” from the day before, that I used the discount to glom onto the companion volume “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1961-1963”, three additional recent issues of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU (Same deal: Great new lead story, followed by familiar reprints), and my two missing issues of the revived 2013 ASTRO CITY series. 

This looks like a job for... IDW!

At the con itself, came a few early to mid-fifties Dell issues of WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES (The Lantz equivalent of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, with Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, etc.), all for less than 3.00 each – including this maybe / kinda / sorta landmark (?) issue.  

Issue # 212.  Cover Date: October, 1954.

It appears that I may have gotten the first appearance of “Winnie Woodpecker” (complete with her bobby-soxer outfit, right out of the 1954 Woodpecker cartoonReal Gone Woody- though spelled "Winny") – and SECOND (at least, per the Grand Comics Database) four-color appearance of Chilly Willy!

Maybe they should call him "BUZZ-CUT BUZZARD"!
Art by John Carey. 

Oddly, Chilly Willy apparently began his comic book life (with new stories going well into the mid-1960s) as a regularly-featured guest-character in the “Homer Pigeon” feature in NEW FUNNIES!  

In cartoons, Chilly certainly eclipsed Homer by far but, in mid-1950s comics Homer may have been the bigger draw – certainly Homer was the starring characters of the two.   Art by Vive Risto. 

Though, Chilly would later have his own series of Dell Four Color issues, and Homer would eventually fade away.  

Despite a virtual lifetime of research on Dell and Gold Key Comics produced by Western Publishing, I never knew that’s how Chilly Willy started in comics, until Sunday, October 12, 2014!   As I’ve said elsewhere, when it comes to Western Publishing, the more you know, the more there is to learn! 

Why, we even get Chilly Willy's ORIGIN story in NEW FUNNIES # 212.  How great is that?  Click to enlarge!  

After another floor-go-‘round with David, it was off to home, having had another wonderful time at New York Comic Con!  Hope to see you all there in 2015!