Saturday, March 26, 2022

Liberty Bell March, Day 26: Nobody expects the return of the Spanish Inquisition Sketch

If you had to pinpoint any one of the New Teen Titans as being a Monty Python fan, I bet it would be Changeling (aka Beast Boy), right? Altho' I kinda think Raven would enjoy The Meaning of Life.


from Legends #4 (DC, March 1987), plot by John Ostrander, script by Len Wein, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Karl Kesel, colors by Tom Ziuko, letters by Steven Haynie

The Spanish Inquisition Sketch was featured on Day 2 of this series, so here's a different performance: video of Python's last stage appearance in 2014. Did you expect that? Probably not!


Today in Comics History, March 26, 1968: Paul's leaving India, bye bye


from The Beatles in Comics! (NBM, November 2018); script by Richard Di Martino; translation by Joe Johnson; pencils, inks, and colors by Martin Trystram; letters by Ortho



from Rock 'n' Roll Comics: The Beatles Experience (Revolutionary/Bluewater, 2010), script by Todd Loren, art by Mike Sagara

Friday, March 25, 2022

Today in Comics History, March 25: Dale found the check


from American Splendor #12 (Harvey Pekar, 1987); script by Harvey Pekar, pencils, inks, and letters by Drew Friedman

Liberty Bell March, Day 25: Aw geez, John Cleese!

Can you make a comic story out of photographs? Sure, we all do! Italian photographic comics ("fumetti") have been around for over a hundred years, and the genre has been copied across the world. It's never been as successful in the English language, but you can point to 2000 AD's "Starlord" photos comics or some of TV Century 21's "Thunderbird," adventures, or even in the mainstream with 1984's Marvel Fumetti Book or Stan Lee's constant, constant attempts to make still pictures with funny word balloons happen. And it was an ongoing feature in Harvey Kurtzman's satirical magazine Help! Here's the cover of #24, which we're gonna be looking at (a little of it) today:


cover of Help! #24 (Warren, May 1965), model is John Massey, photograph by Terry Gilliam

Help! features work by Terry Gilliam in his not-yet-a-Python days, most notably the fumetti "Christopher's Punctured Romance," which starred John Cleese, also not-yet-a-Python, although he'd been featured in musical stage revues and as a star of the BBC Radio sketch show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again (which also featured future Goodies and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue panelist Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie).


from "Christopher's Punctured Romance" in Help! #24, script by Terry Gilliam and Dave Crossley, photography by Martin Iger, Christopher played by John Cleese, Wilma played by Cindy Young

Christopher is outraged and yet intrigued with his daughter's "Barbee" doll (an odd Americanism, since the leading fashion doll of 1960s Britain was the competitor Sindy, "the doll you love to dress.")



It's those dresses that lead Christopher into his obsession with Barbee...not to mention her realistic...um..."things."


That's about all of "Christopher's Punctured Romance' that I can safely reproduce here, not because it gets pornographic (only mildly saucy), but because hey, I'm only seven. Hey! John Cleese! Leave that doll alone!

Now knowing that, how do you feel about John Cleese now? Uh, pretty much the same as I'm thought o him for the past few years.

Today in Comics History, March 25: Happy birthday, Elton John!

Born on this date, already wearing a sparkly pair of sunglasses and chunky heels: Elton John, the world's only Rock Star!

He's not as much a superstar in comics as I would have thought, however. I did find a few guest appearances of ol' Mr. Yellow Brick Road in our favorite medium. Here's John (Elton) and John (Lennon) teaming up together to fight the Red Skull record a hit single. Wow, Cyclops has nuthin' on this guy in the fancy eyewear department!


from The Beatles Experience #6 (Revolutionary, January 1992), script by Todd Loren, art by Mike Sagara




Today in Comics History, March 25: Happy birthday, Aretha Franklin!

Born on this day in 1942: Aretha Franklin: singer, songwriter, actress, activist, and the undisputed Queen of Soul!

I'm so sorry that this is the only portrayal of you in comics that I could find, Ms. Franklin.


from Justice #20 (Marvel/New Universe, June 1988), script by Peter David, pencils by Lee Weeks, inks by Mike Gustovich, colors by Janet Jackson, letters by Agustin Mas

Happy Birthday, Aretha!


Today in Comics History, March 25: Don't worry, I won't use this panel again even though it's good date value


from "Heartline" in Chamber of Chills Magazine #23 (Harvey, May 1954), pencils by Manny Stallman, inks by John Giunta, letters by Joe Rosen

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Liberty Bell March, Day 24: Oh, a cowboy needs a horse, needs a horse, needs a horse

Wanna see somethin' from a book that has greatly influenced my comedy style for almost fifty years (a nice trick when you're only seven)? It's my well-worn copy* (in fact, the cover's even missing, but I laminated the first page so it won't fall apart!) of Dr. Fegg's Nasty Book of Knowledge (Amazon ad), written by the two best Pythons, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Ostensibly presented as an almanac of facts and history, it contains features like "Football: My Way, by the Supremes," "Parlour Games: Pass the Bengal Tiger," "Learn to Speak French in Four Minutes!," "The Famous Five Go Pillaging," "Europe on One Pound a Year," "I Fought the Mighty Anaconda and Lived!," "Dr. Fegg's Useless Page" ("This page can be scrumpled up and thrown away without damaging or interfering with the rest of the book"), and a couple of comic strips, one of which I'll show you now (and the other, probably next week!)

*I may actually have "borrowed" it from high school pal Tommy G., who probably is still wondering where his copy went. ... I've got it, Tom.

I'm not certain who wrote it (Jones or Palin or some unholy comglomeration of the two, a kind of Jonalin), but it's drawn by Frank Bellamy, one of the greats of British comics art. He's best known for his work on The Eagle, Thunderbirds, Dan Dare, and Steve Dowling's long-running adventure strip Garth. But I think you'll agree "A Cowboy Story" is one of his finest comics masterpieces, and acurately captures the energy, action, and non-stop excitement of the legends of the American West.



"A Cowboy Story" from Dr. Fegg's Nasty Book of Knowledge (Methuen, 1974), art by Frank Bellamy

Today in Comics History, March 24: Happy birthday, Tommy Trinder!


from Radio Fun Annual 1948 (Amalgamated Press (UK), 1948), creators unknown

Born today in 1909, which means nobody probably remembers him except if you're quite old (if so, keep that up!) or an aficionado (like me!) of wartime British radio comedy: Tommy Trinder, star of stage (The Load of Nonsense, Tune In, In Town Tonight, Happy and Glorious), screen (Sailors Three, Champagne Charlie), and wireless and TV (Band Waggo (repeats of which on recent BBC Radio made me a fan), Sunday Night at the London Palladium). And yes, comic books...well, at least this one:



from Radio Fun Annual 1948

Happy birthday, Tommy, you lucky person, you!


Today in Comics History, March 24: Happy birthday, Joe Barbera!

Born on this day in 1911: animator, director, producer, and artist Joseph Barbera, who, with partner Bill Hanna, founded one of the most productive animation studios of the 20th century: Hanna-Barbera!


from Fifty Who Made DC Great one-shot (DC, 1985)




Today in Comics History, March 24: Happy birthday, Glenn Fabry!

Born on this day: comics artist Glenn Fabry (2000 AD, Preacher, Hellblazer, Judge Dredd and more!)


from Heartthrobs #2 (DC/Vertigo, February 1999)

Happy birthday, Glenn!

Today in Comics History, March 24: Happy birthday, Bill Wray!

Hooray hooray hooray hooray! / Let's praise the birthday of Bill Wray! (Best sung while parading around Bill Wray's house at 6 AM, beating on a bass drum.) Bill is an animator (The Ren & Stimpy Show, Samurai Jack, The Mighty B!), cartoonist (again, The Ren & Stimpy Show, plus MAD's "Monroe" strip, Cracked, Super Mario Bros., and much more), and landscape painter. He co-created, with Mike Mignola, Hellboy, Jr. And here's how that happened!:


"The Creation of Hellboy, Jr." from Hellboy, Jr., Halloween Special one-shot (Dark Horse, October 1997), co-script by Bill Wray; co-script, pencils, and inks by Mike Mignola; colors by Dave Stewart; letters by John Costanza

Happy birthday, Bill!

Today in Comics History, March 24: The battle for gun control begins with the Sharp-Shooter Act


from "The Challenge of the Calendar Man" in Detective Comics #259 (DC, September 1958), script by Bill Finger, pencils by Sheldon Moldoff, inks by Charles Paris

Today in Comics History, March 24: New Swanson "Heart in a Bag" dinner is introduced


from "Heartline" in Chamber of Chills Magazine #23 (Harvey, May 1954), pencils by Manny Stallman, inks by John Giunta, letters by Joe Rosen

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Liberty Bell March, Day 23: Shake your body, turn it out if you can, man! Shake it out, man!

If you watch The Simpsons long enough (and hey, hasn't it been on the air for just that amount of time?), you'll spot the entire world against its background. That goes double for the Simpsons comic book, where panels are often filled with with a Where's Waldo level of detail and number of identifiable pop culture characters. Such as this parade of invading Brits, including John Cleese as the Minister of Silly Walks!



from Simpsons Comics #87 (Bongo, October 2003), script by Ian Boothby, pencils by James Lloyd, inks by Steve Steere Jr., colors by Nathan Kane, letters by Karen Bates



"The Ministry of Silly Walks" on Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Face the Press," series 2, episode 1 (15 September 1970), written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman


Today in Comics History, March 23: Happy birthday, Denyce Buck!

Today's the birthday of Marvel's Director of Merchandising and Promotion in the early '90s, Denyce Buck!


from Marvel Age #99 (Marvel, April 1991), text by Chris Eliopoulis and Barry Dutter, art by Ron Zalme, colors by Renee Witterstaetter and #111 (Marvel, April 1992), text by Mike Lackey, art Darren Auck

Happy birthday, Denyce!

Today in Comics History, March 23: Happy birthday, Christine Aurilia!

Born on this day: Christine Aurilia, who was secretary to John Romita, Sr. (at the time he was Art Director) at Marvel back in the '90s, and who was also listed as giving "Friendly Assistance" to each issue of Marvel Age! As shown below in the first box!


from Marvel Age #99 (Marvel, April 1991), text by Chris Eliopoulis and Barry Dutter, art by Ron Zalme, colors by Renee Witterstaetter and #111 (Marvel, April 1992), text by Mike Lackey, art Darren Auck

Now that you've seen one small cartoon of Chris, I bet you can pick her out of the entire Marvel Bullpen circa 1992, right?



from Marvel Age #120 (Marvel, January 1993), art by Rick Parker
(Click top picture to Bullpen-size)

Happy birthday, Chris!

Today in Comics History, March 23, 1936: Debut of new character "Batgirl-Red" is an unmitigated disaster


from Nero Wolfe: The Red Box graphic novel [scanlation of Collectie Detective Comics v.17: De rode doos] (Claude Lefrancq Editeur (Netherlands), April 1992), script by Jean-Claude de la Royère, adapted from the novel by Rex Stout, pencils and inks by Phillipe Wurm, colors by Kate

Today in Comics History, March 23, 1986: AKA San Diego Comic-Con


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

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Today in Comics History, March 22, 1948: Can you solve the mystery of the flour-covered killer...oh, the guy covered with flour did it.


"Murder in the Kitchen!" in Police Line-Up #4 (Avon, July 1952), creators unknown

Liberty Bell March, Day 22: Midnight sunshine, silent thunder, sky as black as day...only a dream away

In the 1980s, during the last few years before the arrival of the VHS and Beta videocassettes, Marvel put out a lot of comics in the genre that would soon mostly killed off: the movie adpatation comic book. They ranged from the extraordinary (Dune and...um...surely some others I'll think of later) to the forgettable (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dragonslayer, For Your Eyes Only, Blade Runner, Howard the Duck, Buckaroo Banzai, Annie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, 2010, Willow, Xanadu (really?), Dark Crystal, Sheena, Masters of the Universe, Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (huh.), House II...) A genre of comic that had worked pretty well in the 1950s and 60s for Dell and Gold Key (especially in their Walt Disney movie adaptations) became passé when you could see the movie again later whenever you wanted on chunky VHS. You could5 really see Marvel throwing everything against the wall, hoping for another Star Wars-sized hit.

Still, during this period they published what I think is the only collaboration between Marvel and Monty Python...sort of. Time Bandits (1981) is not an official Python film, but it's pretty close, with script and direction by Terry Gilliam, appearances by John Cleese and Michael Palin (who also co-wrote the script), and it's produced by HandMade Films, the closest thing there is to an official Python movie studio, having been founded by George Harrison (yes, that one!) and Denis O'Brien to finance Monty Python and the Holy Grail.



Today in Comics History, March 22: Happy birthday, Wonder Woman!

It's the birthday of Princess Diana (no not that one): Wonder Woman! Altho' I bet they this date is Athena 22 on Themyscira.


from Super DC Calendar 1976 (DC, 1975)




Today in Comics History, March 22: Happy birthday, Steve Dillon!

Today's the birthday of Steve Dillon (born 1962), and his passing in 2016 at the age of 54 hits a little harder every year here in the Bull household, especially to John,who loves Steve's work and was born within a couple weeks of Steve in 1962. Today's also a great day to re-read some of your favorite Steve Dillon-illustrated comics: perhaps Hellblazer, Preacher, Animal Man or The Punisher or Punisher MAX, or his many stories in 2000 AD. Remember how great his work is, and how we've missed out since he's gone.

"Q&A: Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon" in Vertigo: Winter's Edge #1 (DC/Vertigo, January 1998)
(Click picture to big-as-all-outdoors-size)



from 2000 AD prog 2006 (Rebellion, 9 November 2016)



from DC/Vertigo Comics cover-dated January 2017

REPORTER: They say you're a man of vision. Is that true?
WOODROW CALL: Yeah. Hell of a vision.
Lonesome Dove (TV miniseries, 1989)

Today in Comics History, March 22: Happy birthday, Simon Furman!

Born, or shall we say all-sparked, on this day: writer Simon Furman, co-creator of Death's Head, scripter on Action Force, Robocop, Alpha Flight, Northstar, Doctor Who, Amazing Fantasy and more, and (especially) the Transformers comics, where he created much of the lore and legend that is the foundation of the longrunning franchise!


from Marvel Age #87 (Marvel, April 1990), text by Chris Eliopoulis and Barry Dutter, pencils and inks by Ron Zalme, colors by Gregory Wright

Happy birthday, Simon!

Today in Comics History, March 22: Happy birthday, Mort Drucker!

Born today in 1929, a day for national celebration: Mort Drucker, longtime artist for DC Comics (Big Town, The Adventures of Bob Hope, Mystery in Space, War Stories, Our Army at War, and more), comic strips (Benchley) and, you guessed it: MAD magazine, natch!

We here 'round Comics Oughta Be Fun! headquarters have a couple Rules of Comics. The first one is "Comics Oughta Be Fun!" The second one is "You ain't nobody 'til you've been drawn by Mort Drucker." So, how much more has Mort Drucker made it than when...Mort Drucker drew Mort Drucker?!?


from MAD #266 (October 1986), art by Mort Drcuker

Happy birthday, Mort!


covers of (L) Mad [Super] Special #52 (Fall 1985), painting by Richard Williams;
(R) Mad's Greatest Artists: Mort Drucker (Running Press, November 2012)

Today in Comics History, March 22: Happy birthday, B. Krigstein!

Born on this day in 1919: the great comics and fine art illustrator Bernard Krigstein, best known by his usual signature B. Krigstein. One of the most lauded and acclaimed comics artists of the 1950s, epsecially for his work on EC Comics. Jorts the Cat, however, would be pleased to know that Krigstein was one of a group to attempt to form a major comics artists unions, "The Society of Comic Book Illustrators," in 1952. I'm pleased, too! Ahead of his time not only in skill but in social progress. It sadly ceased after a year, but while he got fewer assignments from Marvel/Atlas and DC/National because of his labor views, progressive-minded Bill Gaines at EC Comics gave him more work. His work was featured in booiks like Aces High, Mad, Vault of Horror, Impact, Incredible Science Fiction, Valor, Weird Science-Fantasy, and others.

Some portraits of Krigstein in the comics:

from "The Night Before Christmas" in Panic #1 (EC, February 1954), pencils and inks by Will Elder, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Jim Wroten
(Click picture to bowl-full-of-gelignite-size)




Today in Comics History, March 22, 1965: Beatles drop acid, pick it up again


from The Beatles in Comics! (NBM, November 2018); script by Gaëtan Petit; translation by Joe Johnson; art by Laurent Houssin; letters by Ortho