Saturday, March 05, 2022

Liberty Bell March, Day 5: A self-defense lesson with a-peel

from Generation X (2017 series) #5 (Marvel, October 2017), script by Christina Strawberry Strain, pencils and inks by Alberto Jiménez Avocado Alburquerque, colors by Felipe Sapodilla Sobreiro, letters by Cantaloupe Clayton Cowles

Today in Comics History, March 5: Happy birthday, Howard Pyle!

Born on this day in 1853: painter and author Howard Pyle (The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Men of Iron, The Wonder Clock, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (and three sequels), plus many more. He's characterized by his lush and realistic style that influenced N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, and others, and known as the Father of the Brandywine School of artistic style. You've probably read at least one of his books out of the library (and I hope you got the illustrated editions), but you've likely never seen what we're about to serve up to you on this here silver plate of a blog entry: Howard Pyle in the Comics! Here's a concise biography of him, tho' (of course) not actually drawn by Pyle.

from "Howard Pyle" in Real Life Comics #37 (Pines, January 1947), creators unknown

Today in Comics History, March 5: Happy birthday, Dean Stockwell!

Born on this day in 1936: Dean Stockwell, film, television and stage actor with a career spanning over 70 years. (Wow!) From child actor roles in Abbott and Costello in Hollywood, Song of the Thin Man (he was Nick Charles, Jr.!) and The Boy with Green Hair, to his later appearances in Long Day's Journey into Night, The Dunwich Horror, Paris, Texas, Dune, Blue Velvet, Married to the Mob and Air Force One, Dean pretty much kept working from 1945 to 2014! His TV roles include The Tony Danza Show, JAG, Battlestar Galactica, as Admiral Al Calavicci in the cult favorite Quantum Leap, and an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise alongside Quantum Leap co-star Scott Bakula. Stockwell's represented in the comics by his characters, but he's not always done favors by his likenesses in the artwork:

from Battlestar Galactica: Gods & Monsters #4 (Dynamite, February 2017), script by Karl Kesel, pencils and inks by Dan Schkade, colors by Chris O'Halloran, letters by Tom Napolitano

Scott Bakula is especially kinda ill-served by this cover, tho' the interior likeness of him and Stockwell are cleaner:

from Quantum Leap #9 (Innovation, February 1993), cover: painting by C. W. Taylor; interior: script by Andy Mangels, pencils and inks by Deodato Borges (Mike Deodato, Sr.), colors by Scott Rockwell, letters by Vickie Williams

Happy birthday, Dean Stockwell!

from The Incredible Hulk (1968 series) #386 (Marvel, October 1991), script by Peter David, pencils by Dale Keown, inks by Mark Farmer, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Joe Rosen

Today in Comics History, March 5: Happy birthday, Andy Gibb!

Born exactly toda in the year 1958, let's a hoist a birthday toast to the late great (died 1988) singer, songwriter, actor and unofficial Brother Gibb: Andy Gibb!

cover of Look-In (1971 series) ##41/1978 (ITV, 7 October 1978), painting by Ivan Rose

Andy was the younger brother of the Bee Gees (Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb), but even tho' he wasn't in that supergroup, he still made some great hits himself: "I Just Want to Be Your Everything," "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water," and "Shadow Dancing." And, je was an actor, appearing on the stage in The Pirates of Penzance and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, and on television on Punky Brewster and Gimmee a Break! as well as hosting a season of Solid Gold!

from Vigilante #4 (DC, March 1984), script by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Don Newton, inks by Pablo Marcos, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Todd Klein

Happy birthday, Andy. You left us too soon.

Today in Comics History, March 5, 1836: Davy Crockett dictates his diary entry to a teenage girl

from Classics Illustrated #129 [Davy Crosckett] (Gilberton, November 1955), pencils and inks by Lou Cameron

Today in Comics History, March 5, 1966: Fern Army performs poorly in Vietnam War

from The 'Nam #2 (Marvel, January 1987), script by Doug Murray, pencils by Michael Golden, inks by Armando Gil, colors and letters by Phil Felix

Friday, March 04, 2022

Today in Comics History, March 4: Three calendar pages brutally killed

from Batman: The Long Halloween Special #1 one-shot (DC, December 2021), script by Jeph Loeb, pencils and inks by Tim Sale, colors by Brennan Wagner, letters by Richard Starkings

Liberty Bell March, Day 4: FATTY OWLS

from Checkmate (1988 series) #11 (DC, Holiday [December] 1988), script by Paul Kupperberg, pencils by Steve Erwin, inks by Al Vey, colors by Julianna Ferriter, letters by Agustin Mas

Kitty Pryde 🐈‍⬛'s Cardboard Castle

I am building a castle for Kitty Pryde. Hey...that's not fair!! Bulls love cardboard castles too!'

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Today in Comics History, March 3, 1980: Curiously, Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" single is still a year away from release

from Hot Valley Days and Cocaine Nights #2 (Antarctic, January 2021), script by Matthew Spradlin, pencils and inks by Farid Karami, colors by Andrew Crossley

Liberty Bell March, Day 3: Six Degrees of Stan Lee

More proof that Stan Lee has met everybody!

"Bullpen Bulletins" in Marvel Comics cover-dated November 1975

Now, I'm a little surprised that aside from this Bullpen Bulletin, I'd never heard of hide nor hair of Celebrity magazine. Doing some research, I've found a [citation needed] note at the bottom of the Magazine Management Wikipedia page, accompanied by a tiny little jpg that looks suspiciously like a cheap knockoff of People. And it was! From Abraham Riesman's excellent, controversial True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee:

from True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee (Crown, 2021), by Abraham Riesman

So, unless you make a lucky score at a used bookshop or rummaging through old magazines, you're unlikely to find what the Sam Scratch Stan did with Gilliam and the Bowies. Which is kind of a pity, because even laughable Stan Lee ventures are fascinating in themselves.

Today in Comics History, March 3: Happy birthday, Jean Harlow!

Born today in 1911, actor Jean Harlow, the "Blonde Bombshell," one of cinema's most important early portayers of sexy seductress roles. Despite her short career, she appeared in a lot of movies during those days when studios would turn around a picture a week, like The Saturday Night Kid, Hell's Angels, Goldie, Dinner at Eight, Red Dust, Dinner at Eight, Reckless, and even Iron Man (the original one; pay attention, son — but wouldn't she have made a great Pepper Potts?). Taken from the world way too soon — she died of uremia (kidney failure) at age 26 — she also didn't get a lot of appearances in comic books, but here's some I've found that spotlight the sparkling, laughing vamp.

Here's Jean...sadly pushed all the way over on the right edge. Next to Jugheads's feet. That's no proper fate for the Queen of the Bombshells!

cover of Life with Archie #94 (Archie, February 1970), artist unknown

Jean's a red-carpet event (between the two word balloons) in this comic book reprint of the "Olly of the Movies" comic strip.

from "Olly of the Movies" in Famous Funnies #6 (Eastern Color, January 1935); script, pencils, and inks by Julian Ollendorff

The Grand Comicbook Database suggests that the blonde in this panel is Jean...but it's from a 1947 comic, a full ten years after Jean's death. It might be a mistaken identification here, or I'd like to posit that in this universe, Black Cat got Jean to the hospital early enough to be diagnosed and saved. See, that's what the multiverse is for. (Let me know in the comments if you think you know who that's supposed to be!)

from Black Cat #6 (Harvey, June 1947), script by Blanche Carlin (?) or Beverly Suser (?), pencils and inks by Lee Elias, letters by Ben Oda

But there's no mistaking her and Hal Roach, her director on early silent shorts, in this special Krazy Kat ink and painted piece by creator George Herriman — now that's a cartoon tribute! With his American Indian Cupids, Herriman appears to be "shipping" Jean and Hal. Is this the first comics example of "shipping?" Oh, wait, Tijuana Bibles. Which I'm not 'lowed to look at. Never mind.

painting from Krazy & Ignatz 1941-1942: A Ragout of Raspberries (Fantagraphics, December 2007), by George Herriman
(Click picture to Coconino-size)

Happy birthday and peace to you, Jean Harlow.

Today in Comics History, March 3: Ted Knight shelves all his books upside-down

from Starman (1994 series) #13 (DC, November 1995), script by James Robinson, pencils by Tony Harris, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger, colors by Gregory Wright, letters by Bill Oakley

@wardhillterry suggested this one! And it also covers March 8! Thanks, pal!

Today in Comics History, March 3: Happy birthday, Alejandro Arbona!

Today's the birthday of Alejandro Arbona, writer and editor who's created at Wizard, Marvel, Image, Valiant, Oni, and Workman Press, and he's also the author of two books in the Awesome Minds series: Video Game Creators and Comic Book Creators! Also, he appears to have replaced Jim Shooter as the Tallest Person at Marvel™, in this comic that's the 21st century version of Assistant Editor's Month!:

from "Assisted Living" in Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular #1 (Marvel, June 2009); script by Chris Eliopoulos; pencils, inks, and colors by Jacob Chabot; letters by Dave Sharpe

(Don't tell Tom Brevoort, but he was also moonlighting over at J. Jonah Jameson's rag! Shhhhhh.)

from Daily Bugle: Civil War Fallen Son Special one-shot (Marvel, June 2007)

Let's all applaud Alejandro on his birthday!

Today in Comics History, March 3, 1945: Cliff fights kaiju, sends Betty another letter with postage due

from "Dear Betty" in Rocketeer Adventures (2011 series) #1 (IDW, May 2011), script by Kurt Busiek, pencils and inks by Mike Kaluta, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Chris Mowry

Today in Comics History, March 3, 1887: Mary Poppins arrives to fight the Crisis on Infinite Earths

from "Conquest of Darkness" in Real Heroes #13 (Parents' Magazine Press, March 1946), creators unknown

Today in Comics History, March 3, 1982: Nation's advertising executives tearfully turn to all-yelling advertisements

from Flaming Carrot Comics (1988 series) #26 (Dark Horse, June 1991); script by Bob Burden; pencils and inks by Bob Burden, Rod Whigham, Pat St Amopur, Joe Pruett, and Marsha Jensen, letters by Roxanne Starr

Today in Comics History, March 3, 1836: The popular Texan phrase "Goliad sucks" is born

from Classics Illustrated #129 [Davy Crosckett] (Gilberton, November 1955), pencils and inks by Lou Cameron

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Today in Comics History, March 2: Happy birthday, Mel Ott!

Mel Ott, professional Major League Baseball player, was born today in 1909. His nickname "Master Melvin" is about as cool as you can get without being Iron Man, and he's a National Baseball Hall of Famer who played for the New York Giants from 1926 through 1947.

Was he in comic books? Well, that's a silly question to ask this blog!

"Mel Ott" from The Amazing Willie Mays one-shot (Eastern Color, September 1954), pencils and inks by Frank Fogarty

Hey, he won a breakfast food poll! Hmm, wonder what that breakfast food mighta been?

from Parents' Magazine Institute comics indicia-dated May 1946

Here's a barely legible scan from a microfiche from a comic feature, which only goes to prove: I'll put anything in this space for completeness!

from "Sportettes" in More Fun Comics #35 (DC, September 1938); text, pencils, and inks by Sheldon Moldoff

And here's Mel being challenged by Tiny Captain Lou Albano!

from "Sporting Facts" in Funny Picture Stories v.2 #7 (Centaur, April 1938); text, pencils, and inks by Gill Fox

Now, let's have a guessing game. Riddle me this: what is the least likely cast of comic book characters you'd expect Mel Ott to crossover with? The Marvel Universe? Watchmen? Herbie the Fat Fury? No, it's Richie Rich and the Harvey Freaks of Nature!

from Richie Rich, Casper and Wendy: National League one-shot (Harvey, July 1976), script, pencils, and inks by Warren Kremer

I do hope Willie Mays told Richie "Do it yourself, rich white boy!"

Happy birthday, Mel! I'm sorry I had to associate your birthday with Richie Rich.

Liberty Bell March, Day 2: Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!

(slapping my forehead as a thought dawns on me) I shoulda called this feature Liberty Bell March!! Edit on 3/3/2022: I did. I'm not made of stone.

Anyway, you won't be expecting this!:

from "Isle of a Thousand Thrills!" in The Batman Family (1975 series) #3 (DC, January 1976), script by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by José Luis García-López, inks by Vince Colletta

from "The Spanish Inquisition" on Monty Python's Flying Circus, series 2, episode 2 "The Spanish Inquisition"

Today in Comics History, March 2: Happy birthday, Tatjana Wood!

Born on this day: comic book colorist Tatjana Wood! You'll recognize her name from a jillion DC Comics, bringing her skill to titles like The New Teen Titans, Action Comics, Superman, Camelot 3000, Sgt. Rock, G.I. Combat, Ghosts, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Camelot 3000, Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, the Vertigo Animal Man, Adventure Comics, Who's Who...pretty much every li'l corner of the vast DC Universe! In addition she colored a huge number of DC's covers from about 1973 through the mid-eighties (including all the comics during certain periods). She's also a dressmaker and tapestry artist, as we find out in this DC Comics profile.

from DC Comics cover-dated November 1979

Wood is also the ex-wife of comics artist Wally Wood (they were divorced in 1966), and sometimes made uncredited contributions to Wood's artwork in the 1950s EC comics. And: two-time Shazam! Award winner for colorist!

biographical entry in "Behind the Panels" from Atom Bomb and Other Stories (Fantagraphics, 2019), text by Arthur Lortie

Whatever the comic, Tatjana's coloring always helps it shine, and she rightly is considered one of the modern legends in comics art. Join with me in wishing her a happy birthday today!

Today in Comics History, March 2: Happy birthday, Laraine Newman!

Born today, so ya better wish her a happy birthday: Laraine Newman, actor, writer, and comedian! She was one of the first generation of Saturday Night Live's Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players (and you know what that means, Marvel Team-Up collectors!) as well as appearing in films, TV shows, and as a voice actress for some fairly big animated movies like Despicable Me and its sequels, The Secret Life of Pets, Sing, Wreck-It-Ralph, Toy Story 3, Monsters Incorporated and many more! She was also one of the two voices of Batman villain Baby Doll from Batman: The Animated Series (the other was Alison La Placa).

from Batman: The Adventures Continue #6 (DC, March 2021), script by Alan Burnett and Paul Dini, pencils by Ty Templeton, inks by Ty Templeton and Sean Parsons, colors by Monica Kubina, letters by AndWorld Design

But Laraine's biggest starring role in a comic book has got to be the one we always turn to when we get to celebrate a SNL alumni, the one that'll never get a reprint so it's best to look for it in the longboxes at your LCS: Marvel Team-Up #74, teaming up the original* *okay, the second season Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time Players with your friendly 30 Rock-visiting Spider-Man!

cover of Marvel Team-Up #74 (Marvel, October 1978), pencils and inks by David Cockrum, Saturday Night Live pencilled and inked by Marie Severin, letters by Irv Watanabe

Here's a cramped corner panel to introduce everyone: Laraine is at the upper-right in green, and clockwise from her: John Belushi, Jane Curtain, Garrett Morris, DeForest Kelley, Jimmy Carter, and that's NBC anchorwoman Maria Shriver comin' in though the door.

from Marvel Team-Up #74; script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Bob Hall, inks and colors by Marie Severin, letters by Gaspar Saladino and Annette Kawecki

You, readers of my blog, well-know this story by now: Belushi has accidentally come into possession of a high-tech ring belonging to the Silver Samurai, and his goons are scouring the NBC Studios looking for it, faced off by Spider-Man and the cast of the show. Here's Laraine dressed up as Ms. Marvel for a skit. Excuse me while my eyes momentarily bug out over the table and my tongue rolls out to make a carpet. ... Ahem. That's better.

And she helps out Dan Ackroyd attack the baddies in full military style using fire extinguishers. Hey, you kids! Those aren't for fooling around with! Make sure Lorne has these recharged after this stunt!

Now, if you're feeling clever, you might proclaim at moi right now: "Hey, Laraine Newman played Connie in SNL's Conehead sketches, and Marvel did a Coneheads miniseries, so she also appears in that!" And you would be wrong, for I am nothin' if not a little stuffed nit-pickler. The Marvel Coneheads comics are based upon the Coneheads movie (1993), and Laraine did not play Connie in the movie: Michelle Burke (Dazed and Confused did! (Laraine did appear briefly in the movie as alien Laarta, but that character's not in the comic book.)

So with a hearty thank you to Marvel Team-Up #74, we bid a very happy birthday to Laraine Newman!