Saturday, November 30, 2019

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Get Off Batman's Lawn!

From THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD # 54 (DC Comics, Cover Date: June-July, 1964) comes a preview of the looming "1960s Generation Gap"...

 ...And this was back when Batman was relatively cheerful!  Imagine how that might play out today! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving 2019!

For Thanksgiving 2019, here's a nice little DROOPY gag from TOM AND JERRY # 228 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: February, 1966)...

...Originally printed in TOM AND JERRY # 113 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: December, 1953).

In my personal indexing, and for the index I created at GRAND COMICS DATABASE, I called this gag "Chopping Blocked".  

Art is by the great Harvey Eisenberg!  ...Enjoy! 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Kamandi Says It All!

In KAMANDI THE LAST BOY ON EARTH # 45 (DC Comics, Cover Date: September, 1976), our title character perfectly and accurately, expresses the feeling I would often get, over the course of my life, as I negotiated the perils of both (Shudder!) a corporate career, and (Double-Shudder!) relationships with... um, "the gender that is not the one I identify as"... or however we're supposed to properly and correctly describe this important-yet-very-tricky aspect of life, these days!  

Anyone else recognize the feeling? 

I shoulda had T-shirts made! 

Here's the panel in a (very) tiny bit more context...

Mmm-yeah!  I woulda felt good to "break out" like that... Too bad I'm not a comic character, because humans can't really behave like that in (so-called) civilized society! 

   ...More's the pity!  It woulda been fun! 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

In Search of Ancient Bertrams # 1 "Bertram's Boats"!

One of a number of things I've become known for as a translator and dialogue writer/creator for European stories published in American Disney comic books is the use of the name "Bertram"! 

I can't exactly articulate WHY this particular repeating quirk developed, and so pervaded the my body of work, but a very likely reason for HOW it did dates back to now-vague memories of an issue of BUGS BUNNY that I read in the 1960s.  I'm certain the particular story in question was a reprint from an earlier Dell issue.  

In it, the name "Bertram" was used... and I liked it.  It made me smile.  And, for some still unknown reason, it was funny... and it worked!   
"Bertram", in itself, is not an overtly funny name.  Indeed my first exposure to the name was "Bertram Cabot, Jr.", a pivotal character in the classic episode of THE OUTER LIMITS; "The Man Who Was Never Born" (1963), starring the late, great Martin Landau!  

But, somehow, in the context of the Bugs Bunny story (which I hope to identify and post on, when I locate it as part of The Great Comics Reorganization and Storage Retirement Project), the name WAS funny... and that feeling "stuck-with-me" from that point on! 

Once I was finally privileged to become part of the comic book creative process, I thought to "pay back" the writer of that dimly-remembered Bugs Bunny story and use the name in UNCLE SCROOGE # 275 (Gemstone, Cover Date: March, 2008), in the FIFTH story I ever worked on, as a gag-riff on the once-popular "Beefsteak Charlie's" restaurant chain.  

...And, I've been somewhat regularly "paying-it-forward" to readers (whether they want it, or not) ever since!  
 ...From "Burgers to Burgers" with Bertram!  

And so, as part of the aforementioned (...all together now) Great Comics Reorganization and Storage Retirement Project), I will, from time to time run across "ancient and forgotten Bertrams", scattered across my comics collection like a trail of breadcrumbs, and will report their rediscovery here as part of yet a new subset feature... "In Search of Ancient Bertrams"!

First up (or, more precisely, first FOUND) is from MICKEY MOUSE # 153 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: December, 1974) and the opening splash panel of its lead story "The Secret of Drake's Island", written by Carl Fallberg and drawn by Paul Murry (the comic-book-Mouse's most classic team of creators)!

Catch the SIGN at the lower-most right... "BERTRAM'S BOATS"!  

With a presumed extra-special bonus reference to writer and editor Del Connell - "Catch the Big Ones with Delbert"!

"The Secret of Drake's Island" was originally published in MICKEY MOUSE # 67 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: August-September, 1959), though the reprint referenced here was the first version of the story that *I'd* seen!  

We shall return with more "In Search of Ancient Bertrams", as such Bertrams are uncovered!  

Thursday, November 7, 2019

“Mickey Mouse on a Secret Mission” The Secret Text Files!

I would imagine all writers have moments like this...

In the midst of your everyday activities, you run across something you wrote and, for any number of reasons, was never used.  What follows is such a specimen of unseen text that was intended for Fantagraphics Hardcover Library of "Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson - March of the Zombies" (2015). 

Due to a variety of factors that I suspect were too unimportant for anyone to clearly recall at this date, I found that I had prepared an introductory text for “Mickey Mouse on a Secret Mission”, a story that had already been assigned to Thad Komorowski - who, as you would expect, did an awesome job with it!

As lesser-luck would have it, I learned (or realized) this rather important fact after I had completed my own text intro.  And so it lie dormant on some old "memory stick" while I hurried a text intro for a different story into production...

...Until I rediscovered it today, and decided that it would make for good "Blog-fodder"!  (No gangster jokes, please!)     

So, from out of a past that, for whatever reason (choose your own), seems much more distant than it really is, we present... 

“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something ‘Blew’ by at Incredible Speed” … or, “It All Comes Out in the Walsh”! 

If the now-popular phrase “game changer” existed in late 1942, there’s no doubt it would apply to the coming of Bill Walsh as writer of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse newspaper strip continuities. 

Defying the apparent contradiction in terms, Walsh simultaneously takes us to “familiar places” and to those completely new.  “New places” applied particularly to subject matter, with many notions that were inconceivable just a few years earlier.   

His first tale, later given the “spoiler title” of “The Nazi Submarine”, is essentially a short, gag-oriented story of Mickey going undercover to bust a black market gasoline ring.  Where it leads, however, is a place where “no Mouse has gone before”, a confrontation with Nazis! 

Consider that our hero has vanquished villains of every stripe, from ordinary “egg-robbers”, to western bandits, mad scientists, and even crooked lawyers.  But, this was a new and universally feared type of evil now infiltrating the shores of Mouseton.   We’re hardly allowed recovery from the shock, before Bill Walsh ups the ante, in his epic second effort, by sending Mickey on an unprecedented “Secret Mission”. 

As our essay title suggests, “Mickey Mouse on a Secret Mission” is a nicely executed balancing act of “Something Old” and “Something New”, beginning with Mickey’s kidnapping.  The perpetrators of the abduction are eventually revealed as government agents who recruit the Mouse for a patriotic mission, mirroring 1936’s “Mickey Mouse Joins the Foreign Legion”. 

Other familiar beats include:  Mickey’s unsuccessfully donning a disguise to gather intel, as seen in “Mickey Mouse Outwits The Phantom Blot" (1939), and Mickey’s spirited midair melee with Peg Leg Pete from “Island in the Sky" (1936). 

However, it is Walsh’s nice satirical twist on this “skirmish in the sky” that also places our story firmly into the “New” column, as Mickey’s modern combat techniques fall far short of his good old fashioned brawling, when it comes to giving Pete a pummeling. 

The “New” side of the ledger is also livened by Walsh’s use of sub-conscious or out-of-body selves for both Mickey and Pete, a heretofore never attempted “sideways vertical” panel in the strip of October 5 (which Western Publishing reformatted into an ACTUAL vertical panel for the reprint in WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 48, 1944), and the story’s main focus: the super-plane known as “The Bat” – let alone Pete’s startling conversion from “garden variety thug” to Nazi spy. 

Since “something borrowed” (from prior Gottfredson continuities) is also “something old”, let’s advance to that “something that blew by”.

Walsh and Mickey use the super-speed and sheer power of The Bat to wreak havoc on the Nazi war machine with deftness of action usually reserved for animation.   As great a practitioner of the classic Disney style, within the “still” medium of the comic strip, as Floyd Gottfredson was, the non-stop comedic destruction brought on by The Bat seems to have “upped his game” all the more to keep pace with Walsh’s mile-a-minute mauling of our enemy’s vaunted might.   

If there is a minor criticism of “Mickey Mouse on a Secret Mission” to be made, it is in Walsh’s overall pacing.  The training and initial flight sequences, as humorous and entertaining as they were, played out over 23 strips, from July 29 thru August 24.  In stark contrast, Pete’s capture was accomplished in only ONE strip – and, in actuality, one PANEL.  Perhaps the front-loading of gags led to a forced and abrupt ending to Pete’s spy stint that moved even faster than did “The Bat”!

Not to worry, however, because Bill Walsh would “work it out”, and his seemingly-limitless imagination would introduce us to such memorable characters and concepts as Eega Beeva, The Rhyming Man, “The Lectro Box”, and “The World of Tomorrow”!  …I can’t wait to see it all unfold again! 
[END of Unused Text] 

...And "unfold" it most certainly did - making us all the merrier for it! 

For anyone who has the book pictured above (...And WHY WOULDN'T YOU?  It's great!), check out the text I *did* submit!  

If there's anything I learned from watching the great Irwin Allen's 1960s sci-fi TV shows, it's that "you never throw something away, if you can use it again"!  So, have a gander (not Gladstone) at the amount of material from this unused text that I repurposed for the published text on page 134.  

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Robot News: November 2019

This friendly face can mean only one thing... IT'S TIME FOR ROBOT NEWS!  

Courtesy of our great friend Achille Talon, as "Aristide Twain"...

...and Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver"!  

Before we recede any further back into 1960s TV, HERE IS THE LINK TO ROBOT NEWS!  

In the great Lost in Space Robot tradition, we must issue a WARNING (Danger! Danger!).


So, do not activate if you're at work, in close proximity to a sleeping baby, sleeping grizzly bear, or sleeping baby grizzly bear - or if you are directly beneath an outcrop of ice and snow that could become an avalanche!  Got it?  Affirmative!  

It's a YouTube play-list, so several installments of Robot News should play in sequence.  So, don't blow a gasket - or a power-pack - waiting for the latest installment!  Or, just skip-around once the play-list displays!

ENJOY, Will Robinson!