Sunday, October 22, 2023

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Special Guest Stars Jerry Lewis and Dick Tracy!

From the pages of WONDER WOMAN #114 (DC Comics, Cover Date: May, 1960) comes this fun little curiosity from famed artist Mort Drucker...

A nice combination of comics, poetry, and traffic safety tips. 

But take a closer look at two of the "guest stars" on this first page (of two)...

Why, it's JERRY LEWIS (whose DC Comics title Mort Drucker *did* work on)...

...Though he's clearly not BILLED as "Jerry Lewis", perhaps for royalty reasons? 

...And DICK TRACY!  Perhaps that might even be LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD honking at everyone's favorite square-jawed detective!  
I guess that, by 1960, she simply drove her convertible coupe to Grandma's house! 

Maybe Drucker should have included DONALD DUCK in this character-composite (...Disney lawyers were not nearly as tough in 1960, and he may have gotten away with it!)

And I'd say Donald could use a few good safety tips, don'tcha think?  

Saturday, October 14, 2023

R.I.P. Mark Goddard.

In recent times, I’ve shied away from “R.I.P. posts”, for no more a reason than to reduce the sadness at this humble Blog… but this week was just too much to ignore for such a flimsy reason!

Mark Goddard played many things over his acting career but, to me and many others, he will always be Major Don West of the original (…and still the best) LOST IN SPACE (1965-1968).

Along with Guy Williams’ Professor John Robinson, Mark Goddard’s Major West continued to lend an air of seriousness, urgency, and plain old common sense that (…perhaps not always) balanced off the antics of Doctor Smith and the Robot.

He so perfectly served as an antagonist, counterpoint, and outright foil to Doctor Smith that there became what I called a subset series of LOST IN SPACE episodes that I called “The Don and Smith Shows”, where the two of them would be thrown into a situation together and must depend on each other (amid lots of bickering) to extricate themselves! 

I met Mark Goddard several times at New York conventions, and he very much embodied the warm (…at least when Smith wasn’t around) and enthusiastic (…ditto) gung-ho spirit of Major Don West! 

He said he was proud to have been in a TV series that spanned generations – and was something the whole family could watch and enjoy – unlike much of the prime-time TV fare of the late ‘90s-early 2000s time frame during which we spoke – much less now!

Family values in space! 

His favorite episode was “The Anti-Matter Man”, small wonder since he really got to cut loose in that one! 

He also wrote one issue of a LOST IN SPACE comic book that featured his character.

And speaking of writing, there was also this…

…purchased by me mere weeks before his passing on October 10, 2023 at the age of 87! 

Mark Goddard can also be heard on this wonderful Blu-ray set doing episode commentaries with Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright, and Marta Kristen, and in other special features.

And, of course,  Mark Goddard as Major Don West had many ups and downs over the course of the series...

But he never stopped being one of the rocks of the series...

Piloting the Jupiter II into and out of trouble...

Being that reliable, level-headed presence of the group...

Keeping everybody safe no matter how offbeat the danger...

And doing his best to keep Doctor Smith in check!

...But not always succeeding!

But give him credit for TRYING!  Lots of credit! 
It was a thankless job, but SOMEBODY had to do it! 


Rest In Peace, Mark Goddard… You didn’t get to ride a real-life space shuttle but, to your many fans, you soared nonetheless!   

From the back of Mr. Goddard's Book...

HERE is a link to Me-TV's tribute to Mark Goddard!  

As a point of information: MeTV has been the cable TV home for LOST IN SPACE since at least Spring, 2013 (when I discovered it), running it weekly for OVER TEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS!  

Bill Mumy, Angela Cartwright, Marta Kristen, and Mark Goddard (2015).

R.I.P. Keith Giffen.

In recent times, I’ve shied away from “R.I.P. posts”, for no more a reason than to reduce the sadness at this humble Blog… but this week was just too much to ignore for such a flimsy reason!

Keith Giffen, one of the most unique writer/artists ever to work in comics passed away on October 09, 2023, at the age of 70.

To say that Keith Giffen was a huge part of my comics-reading life would be an understatement... and, if anything, that would be the ONLY "understatement" applicable to the work of Mr. Giffen.  

One could easily say that he helped define DC Comics of the '80s! 

He had a long and very popular run on THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES... but that was a title I mostly didn't read, so I'll take general fandom's word on that. 

But, oh the characters and concepts he created - or co-created - was a wondrous mix of (Overused Word Alert) "legendary", beloved, and some just a little ahead of their time! 

Perhaps his most revolutionary concept was his completely unique take on the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, which (hard to believe) was then sputtering and petering-out with the infamous and ill-advised "Justice League Detroit".

Out with the old, in with the new... Detroit? 

Keith Giffen then swooped-in to save us (the readers) by "giving Detroit de boot" and unleashing a then-unheard-of spin on the superhero team!

Out with Detroit, in with ... ? 

Writer David Barnett, online for describes the series thusly:

"[Justice League (1987)] with co-creators JM DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, perhaps best showcased Giffen’s gift for comedic writing and injecting an almost soap opera mentality into superhero books.

"Justice League, later Justice League International, had an almost prescient, real-world tone, with a maverick millionaire capitalist, Maxwell Lord, essentially staging an Elon Musk-style takeover of the superhero team, getting them United Nations funding and government approval.

"The personal interactions of the characters were just as important, and the series came across more like Friends than the usual superhero fare."

Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Black Canary... and Guy Gardner became the new focus as laughs and dangers mixed in ways rarely seen before! 

Even further out-there than JUSTICE LEAGUE (which became JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL with issue #7, 1987 - and JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA  [no "of"] with issue #26, 1989), was the "still (Overused Word Alert - again) legendary after all these years" AMBUSH BUG!

First appearing in DC COMICS PRESENTS #52 (1982) Ambush Bug "became legend" as a result of some truly zany appearances in various issues of ACTION COMICS (1984-1985) and one issue of SUPERGIRL.

Ambush Bug heckles Superman! 

With this character, TRULY anything goes! As did The Bug himself, with scattered mini-series from 1985-2009!

Then, there were a few short-lived series that were (as mentioned above) "just a little ahead of their time" such as THE HECKLER (1992-1993), an outrageous series that had me laughing out loud! 

And VEXT (1999), both lasting only SIX ISSUES EACH! 

But, for me, Keith Giffen's Crown Jewel is none other than The Main Man himself... that fragger of bastiches on a planetary scale... everyone's favorite comic book character (...and if he's not yours and you value your life, PLEASE  don't tell him!)... LOBO!  

Below: An early Lobo with Guy Gardner in Keith Giffen's Justice League International.

Is it any wonder that Lobo and Guy Gardner were two of my most favorite DC characters of the '90s? 
...With THIS GUY to guide them, how could they miss?! 

Lobo transcended comic books with his appearance in SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES (1996), and another in the subsequent JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series. 

I met Keith Giffen at one of the many New York cons in the '90s, and he autographed this LOBO issue for me!

My last encounter with a Keith Giffen comic was an unlikely one... yet somehow fitting for Mr. Giffen.  He reunited with his JUSTICE LEAGUE / JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL / JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA co-conspirator J.M. DeMatteis for SCOOBY APOCALYPSE which, unlike some of his tragically cut-short titles, ran for 36 issues (2016-2019)! 

Aw, c'mon folks, Scooby had a lot worse done to him (cough!) "VELMA" (cough!

Rest In Peace, Mr. Keith Giffen, and THANK YOU for all the great comics you've delighted me with!

...Especially the ones with LOBO!