Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Keep Watching This Space!

Now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and even Cyber Monday 2018 have passed, I'd be remiss as a Blogger if I continued to leave up our Thanksgiving post.  

It will be a while longer, given the usual (...all together now) Horrifically Busy state of things, before the teased "Blogger-torial" on where-we-go-from-here will be ready, so, for the nonce, please enjoy the post below this one!  

It is one of MANY, MANY... oh, and did I say MANY "Adventures in Comic-Boxing" posts I have already built up... and should suffice before I rejoin you on more significant matters!

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving was great fun, as was Averi's first birthday party, and Black Friday thru Cyber Monday came through with some great deals on DVDs, comics, and comics storage supplies!  

...Hoping it was wonderful for all of you as well!  

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: "Tennis, Anyone?"

The covers of WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES, up through 1950, were sprinkled with various Lantz characters on their LEFT SIDES, from top to bottom.  

It was a nice design element and, because everyone couldn't be somehow "shoehorned" into the cover gag, it was also an indication of the characters waiting for you inside.  

In this case, Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken carrying the cover gag, with Woody Woodpecker (larger than the rest, as he was becoming the true star of the Lantz cartoon stable), Oswald the Rabbit, Homer Pigeon, and Reddy Fox, occupying the margins.  

Sometimes, however, even the outer margins of a funny animal comic book is not a safe place to be, as Woody inadvertently gets into the painful act of Andy and Charlie's TENNIS GAME in WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES # 163 (Cover Date: September, 1950)!  

OUCH!  No wonder Oswald and Homer are laughing!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Since Barney Bear and Jerry Mouse      (uncharacteristically sans Tom) can't figure out what to do next, I'm hoping they'll just sit down to a meal, and begin the tradition of Thanksgiving!  

Hopefully, it'll turn out better than THIS ONE!  

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from Joe, Esther, and Averi!  

We'll talk about the future of this Blog on the other side of Turkey-Day and Black Friday!

...And just because my obsessive inner child is uneasy about Tom not being invited to the Thanksgiving table...

...Here's another OUR GANG cover, illustrating another uniquely American autumn affair (football), WITH Tom getting the business - as he most-often should!  

Remember all the persons, places, and things you are thankful for, and have a festive Thanksgiving Day!  

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Why? ...'Cause I Just Can't Help It! That's Why?

Or, as the great Stan Lee would have put it...

...'Nuff said!  

Top illustration from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD # 116 (DC Comics, 1973).   

Bottom piece of dialogue... not deserving of an origin citation. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

R.I.P. Stan Lee.

This is a very sad time for all comic book fans, collectors, and most importantly - readers!

The great Stan Lee, comic book creator, writer, publisher - and literal "face of the industry" for well over fifty years has passed away on November 12, 2018, at the age of 95.

Whether or not you like Marvel Comics, the fabled brand Stan Lee built from almost nothing to today's industry leader, you MUST have profound respect for Lee's impact on the comic book industry as a whole!

In the same way Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera "saved" animation, with different methods that found a huge audience, so did Stan Lee "save" the comic book industry by trying something different and finding a tremendously huge and enthusiastic audience... at exactly the time when the comic book industry needed a "shot in the arm"! 

With Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, Lee created, or otherwise defined, some of the biggest franchises the industry has ever known!

I liked Marvel Comics, when they looked like those above!

I continued to like Marvel Comics, when they looked like those below!

...And, of course, when they looked like this!  

Alas, I have not liked (or read) them since they began to look like what follows - and when Marvel began to act arrogantly and irresponsibly toward the very industry that made it what it became!

Um, does that say "Part 3 of FOURTEEN"?  Eeesh!  

So, grotesque! 

But, I don't hold Stan Lee responsible for ugly and repulsive imagery, the near-destruction of the direct-market comic book distribution system (that ultimately resulted in Steve Geppi's "Diamond Distributors" being the "last-and-only-one standing amid the wreckage"), and catering to the irresponsible rock-star creators who became so much larger than their meager talents should have allowed  - later DEFECTING FROM the Marvel Comics that (er...) "spawned" them to form Image Comics!

No, that all happened after Stan's stewardship... but it goes a long way toward explaining this one fan's deep animosity toward Marvel Comics, post middle-1980s!

Then again, they were bought-up by Disney... so what do I know?

But we're here to celebrate the great Stan Lee - in my view one of the FIVE TRUE GENIUSES of comic books and graphic novels!  I'll not attempt to rank them, but in alphabetical order they are:

Carl Barks, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Julius Schwartz!

And, of those geniuses, Stan Lee took it many marketing degrees further, as I said, becoming first "The Face of Marvel Comics" and then "The Face of Comic Books - Period 'Nuff Said"!

In those long-ago pages, he talked directly to his readers, giving them a sense of "belonging" that no other publisher did.

He even talked to you from his covers! 

"Stan the Man" or "Smilin' Stan", as he was alternately known, was also, for lack of a better word, "hip", in a day most other comics figures leaned more toward stodgy!

Someone once said (and I wish it was me, but it wasn't) "Stan Lee wasn't your father, he was your cool uncle!"

Wasn't he though?  

At times he even looked like Hugh Hefner - or the "comic-book version" of Hef!

Here's a post I did on Stan Lee back in 2009 which you may find interesting, regardless of your preferred comic book brand! 

Rest In Peace, Stan Lee!  There isn't anyone reading this - or anyone who has ever read a comic book, who is not in your debt!


Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Fluffy and Mervin Thankschristmas!

Or, might that be "A Fluffy and Mervin Chrisgiving"?  

...Or, more to the point, Christmas may indeed "come but once a year", but can't we have our turkey first!  

Our great friend Debbie Perry, and her equally great characters Fluffy and Mervin, say what's been on my mind since SUNDAY NOVEMBER 04, 2018...

[Click to further enlarge!] 

...When, during "Rick Grimes' final episode of THE WALKING DEAD"...

...I had my first "Christmas Car Gift Commercial" sighting!  On NOVEMBER-FREAKING-FOURTH! 

[Generic Image - Not representative of what I actually saw on November-Freaking-Fourth!]

Now, honestly... Who gives anybody a CAR for Christmas?  

Or THANKSGIVING, for that matter!  

Some of us are just happy to escape with our lives!  

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Orange Swirls Can Be Swell!

Behold THREE examples of eye-catching Orange Swirls on the covers of Western Publishing's Gold Key / Whitman Comics - before, during, and after the "Psychedelic Era" of the 1960s!

BEFORE: MIGHTY MOUSE # 160 (1963) 


AFTER: TOM AND JERRY # 285 (1974)

It's interesting to note that, when MICKEY MOUSE # 110 was later reprinted in MICKEY MOUSE # 185 (1978), the Orange Swirls were REMOVED, making the overall cover much blander by comparison! 

Some conspiracy theorists might speculate that this "increased blandness thing" could be a precursor to the events of 2018...

...But not us!  We just celebrate comics regardless of their blandness, creed, or place of origin... with malice toward none, and liberty and justice for all!  ...And all kinds o' stuff like that there!  

BUT... "Non-Orange-Swirl-Blandsville" be not proud, and be NOT the victor!  Not by a longshot, because...

Yes, it's MIGHTY MOUSE... back with a non-bland reprint of the cover and lead story of the 1963 issue, for issue # 172 (Cover Date: January, 1980) - and with the Orange Swirls deeper and richer than ever!  ...Just compare!  

For such richness, we can even forgive MIGHTY MOUSE # 172 for having an annoyingly ubiquitous UPC CODE, forcing the cover copy to be relocated to a different spot!  "Sign of the times", and all that sort of rot!  

Though you also gotta love how the intensity is so great on the original, that it obscures the very name of Mighty Mouse itself!  ...Both are great, in their own way!

Finally, on the subject of reprints, the TOM AND JERRY cover was never reprinted.  Most likely because it appeared a little "late in the game" for Western Publishing, who ceased its comic book activities in 1984!  

And - last word, I promise - all three "Orange Swirl" covers featured MICE!