Archive - August 2007
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August 30th, 2007
Some brand spanking new Hembeck art to share with you today!

And if you want to see much larger versions of the thumbnails above, follow these links for a closer look...

The Original Avengers perform their version of "A Chorus Line"...

Doctors Strange, Fate and Doom...

And looky there--Spider-Man's sweet on Spiderwoman!

Y'know, not only will I share these illos with you, but should you be so inclined, I'll even SELL 'em to you! Yup, friends, we're talkin' eBay!

Here's access to the listings: the Avengers, the Doctors, the Spiders.

Even if you just look, enjoy! But if you wind up buying a piece--or two--hey, all the better! Otherwise, sooner or later, I'm gonna have to start selling ads to the Head-On people, dig?....
August 28th, 2007
Jack Kirby would've been ninety years old today.

I only had the privilege of meeting Jack (and Roz) once--I wrote up the encounter several years back, and you can read about it by going here--but at the time, he was nice enough to gift me with the specially done drawing seen above. Of course, I've scanned it in from a clear, crisp copy 'cuz the original is framed and hangs proudly on my wall, but you get the idea.

We still miss you, King.
August 25th, 2007
There was one television show that every member of the Hembeck clan watched faithfully over its entire seven year run--The WB's (and later, The CW's) "Gilmore Girls".

Daughter Julie was particularly enamored with the ongoing misadventures of the offbeat mother/daughter team, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore (played appealingly by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel), and was pretty bummed when the show's demise was announced last spring. Because of Julie's heavy school commitments when originally broadcast in May, the three of us didn't have a chance to sit down and watch the series finale until early in June. It was a satisfying--if bittersweet--ending to a unique series, and when the screen went dark and the final credits ran, Julie turned to me and asked, "Just when the heck are you going to break down and buy some "Gilmore Girls"DVDs?"

She then went on to point out that there were more than a few sets of TV show DVDs languishing out in the front room, many still in their shrink wrap, blatantly unwatched. If I were to purchase some "Gilmore Girls" DVDs, Julie assured me, they WOULD be watched! Well, I'd head this little speech before, but in the sentimental glow of viewing the show's last episode, I broke down and promised her that I'd go out and buy season one the very next day--and if she didn't believe me, she could come along to make sure I was good to my word!

So, the following day, we stopped over at Best Buy, my DVD source of choice. Trouble was, there were no first week discounts or the likes--Season One was going for around fifty five bucks. I was willing to pony up, however reluctantly, but first, I thought, let's take a peek downstairs at Target--sometimes they have special sales.

Good move! They were offering the first season--AND the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth!!--all for $19.99 each! Well, what are you gonna do when faced with a bargain like THAT? What else--buy 'em all!! And to justify saving all that money by spending all that money? Simple--call it a birthday present!

True to her word, Julie began an intense regimen of rewatching, beginning with a second look at the debut episode a mere twenty four hours after having viewed the final one. Lynn kept up with us for awhile, but eventually, not being the hardened tuber that we are (a point of pride, the missus likes to say) Julie and I pulled way ahead of her. If the kid hadn't gone off to MICA for a month long program, we'd surely be much farther along, but as it is, we already have two entire seasons under our belts. At least one show a day, usually two, and sometimes even three!

Funny thing happened last Monday. After watching our daily wake-up episode, Julie and I set out for the local community college where Julie's gonna start an introductory night course in Physics next week. When we arrived at the book store to pick up the course's text, it turned out that the computers were down, so they couldn't accept my credit card, only cash. Guess what? I didn't have the $150 needed in pocket change, so off we went to run some other errands, with an additional stop at the bank belatedly added to the list.

So, about an hour and half later, we found ourselves back in the bookstore, this time with the funds necessary to purchase Julie's Physics book. Now, please understand, while I'm always polite and pleasant to sales people, I hardly ever engage in small talk with strangers.This day was different, however--I'd already chatted up a student during an elevator ride--and as I approached the cashier (who had earlier put our book aside in case we returned later that day), she saw us coming, and reached for the text.

""Back, I see."

"Yup. we knocked over a liquor store, so now we can pay for the book!"

After a little more bantering, we left. Once outside, Julie looked at me incredulously.

"'Knocked over a liquor store"? Who do you think you are? Lorelai Gilmore?"

Believe me, the quality of my wisecracks didn't even come close to the ones spouted by Lauren Graham's character, but I could see what she meant--y'know, maybe we HAVE been watching these things a bit TOO intently.

But its not likely we're gonna stop, not anytime soon anyway.

Cuz today, if we can manage to squeeze it in, we'll bust open season three and watch the sets first episode. That'd be pretty appropriate for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that today is actually--ta da!--Julie's 17th birthday! Not only that, but storywise, this is the season featuring Rory Gilmore's senior year of high school, with much time also spent applying to college. A few short weeks from now, daughter Julie will find her self in the exact same situation.

So, Happy Birthday Julie! When next August 25th roles around, most likely you won't even be here, but instead be off to a University yet to be determined, so I'm enjoying your presence (as well as your presents) while I can--even though I can't quite believe that you're seventeen years old!

And please--stop calling me "Kirk". It's really not all THAT funny, y'know...
August 24th, 2007
Julie and I just returned from a matinee performance of "Mr. Bean's Holiday", which opened today. inasmuch as I recently went on record as stating that 1997's "Bean" made me laugh out loud more consistently AND convulsively--even during a pair of repeat viewings--than any other movie in cinematic history, well, I had pretty high hopes for this belated follow-up.

Overall, it was pretty good, though it didn't elicit the same gut-busting reaction as its predecessor did from either Julie or me (Lynn demurred our invitation to join in on the fun--who'd a thot?...). With almost all the action taking place in France (the lush and varied location shooting being one of the film's strongest points), most of the minimal dialog was delivered in French, with accompanying subtitles. Only Willem Dafoe as an egotistical American film director spoke any English at length (Mr. Bean had less to say this time around than he did in his big-screen debut). It wasn't quite a silent film, but in many ways, since the gags were so dependent on the visuals, it seemed like one at times. But, while not possessing the number of guffaw inducing set-pieces as the first film, the plot built slyly to a hilarious finale at the Cannes Film Festival that had the entire audience (Hembecks included) roaring in the aisles! So yeah, time well spent--even if $6.50 for an afternoon showing seems like a big rip-off...

And look---I pretty much HAD to take my still barely sixteen year old daughter to see this G-rated flick today, because after tomorrow, it's most likely gonna be R-rated all the way for her(and if she could just find an NC-17 classic to take in, she'd be even more thrilled!...).

By the time the sequel to THIS Bean movie sprouts up a decade on down the line, she'll probably be ready for more family-friendly mugging, though . Let me get back to you on that, okay?...
August 23rd, 2007
That's right friends, today we celebrate the anniversary of the earth-bound arrival of embellisher extraordinaire, Mr. Terry Austin!!

Now, to commemorate this noteworthy yet annual event, we could've simply taken the easy way out and posted one of any number of classic covers the award winning inker has graced with his crisp and sure line over the past several decades--you know 'em all: X-MEN, DETECTIVE COMICS, CAMELOT 3000, DR. STRANGE, FANTASTIC FOUR ROAST--but what's the fun in that? Instead, we've chosen to spotlight Mr.A's ever so brief but nonetheless brightly shining moment as a still photo thespian! Seen above trapped inside the corner box of the cover of 1983's one and only issue of THE MARVEL FUMETTI BOOK, the embellisher's emoting gives one only a tiny tantalizing glimpse of the two page, one man tour de farce found inside, Terry's memorably entiltled star-turn, "Inker-Dinker-Doo"!

And who knows? Maybe NEXT August 23rd, I'll post that entire little epic!!

Assuming Terry's still speaking to me then, of course...

Happy Birthday, pal! And need I say, may you chalk up many, many more!
August 21st, 2007
A few days back, over on my MySpace page, one of my most frequent correspondents, the estimable Ellen Amy, left the following comment under one of the several actual photos of yours truly posted there..

I just saw a guy on the train this morning who looked almost like you, but completely clean-shaven. You don't have a doppelganger with an aversion to facial hair, do you?

Funny you should ask, El. I was immediately reminded of something that happened over three decades back now...

(Cue flashback.)

I was attending college at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island and still living at home. I had driven off to nearby Smithhaven mall and was doing some rare--but no doubt necessary--clothes shopping on my lonesome. While things weren't quite up to Christmas season levels, the place was hopping with patrons swarming throughout. There I was, looking over the latest in hip attire in one of those little single aisle establishments--y'know, the kind with the wide open entrance way that looks directly out into the center of the mall? As I stood there, mulling over the suitability of the shirts at hand, I glanced up momentarily towards the bustling crowd passing by outside.

What I saw made my blood run cold.


Yup, there was a guy out there who looked exactly like me! And almost immediately after spying my double, he noticed me as well, and for a mind-numbingly long split-second, our eyes locked! I don't know what the expression on MY face was, but my twin clearly looked shocked--and not in a good way, either!

Afraid of somehow being turned to stone if I stared too long--the guy didn't exactly have snakes coming out of his noggin, but still, who wants to take any chances?--I quickly turned away. By the time I looked back up, he was gone, and I never saw him again. I never forgot him, though--something that unsettling doesn't fade easily from your memory, trust me.

I've always kinda wondered whatever happened to him, and now finally, thanks to Ellen Amy's keen eye, I know! He's commuting in from Long Island to Manhattan--AND he owns a razor! Truth to tell, the last time I saw him way back in those pre-beard days, so did I.

Now, if only he has a MySpace page....
August 20th, 2007
This is a baseball story, but trust me friends, you don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy the punchline!

But first, the set-up:

Yesterday, the New York Mets were playing the Washington Nationals at DC's RFK Stadium. Pitching for the Mets was Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who, in the words of play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen, was "the best 7-4 pitcher in the majors". Y'see, El Duque had already suffered nine no-decisions this season, games in which he generally threw the ball well for six or seven innings, only to leave the game with the score tied either 0-0, 1-1, or 2-2, with the ultimate win or loss (and mostly, it was wins) going to a late-inning relief specialist.

Sunday afternoon, history was once again repeating itself: after throwing his last pitch in the bottom of the seventh, Hernandez left the game knotted in a 2-2 tie. Unless the Mets made some hay in the top of the eighth, another fine effort by the ageless Cuban refugee would again go unrewarded. Both Cohen and his color commentator colleague--former Mets legend (and noted "Seinfeld" guest star) Keith Hernadez (no relation to Orlando) bemoaned the seemingly luckless hurler's sad situation.

And then, the Mets broke out!

The offense put four up on the board as they took their turn at bat in the eighth, giving the Mets a comfortable 6-2 lead.

Delighted that some justice was finally being doled out, Keith, with a very satisfied tone in his voice, turned to his partner, and said the following

"Well, El Duque's got a little bulge now, doesn't he?..."

What followed was ten seconds of dead air, but if you listened real closely (and since I had the game on video tape, believe me, I did), clearly the ever-professional Cohen hit his cough button at Hernadez's inadvertent double entendre, but still, the sound of uncontrollable laughter could be heard ever so faintly as the camera panned the New York dugout, looking for a shot of El Duque to fill time until Gary pulled himself back together. Whether they were hoping for a glimpse of that elusive bulge, I couldn't tell ya...

Y'know, I absolutely love listening to Keith Hernadez! Whether he's talking about the finer points of the game at hand, or his jaunt with Cohen on the DC subway line the night before, or even his fascination with American history (I can't wait until he brings up The Battle of the Bulge!), the man is relentlessly entertaining--and even more so when he clearly doesn't mean to be!!

For more on Keith, here's a really interesting article about the Gold Glove first baseman--and first class yakker!.
August 18th, 2007
Yesterday, we took a bit of a jaunt--a six hour round trip--on up to Binghamton, N. Y. to participate in a tour of the University (the third such expedition made on Julie's behalf in the last eight days--but likely the last one for at least the next several weeks).

Nice school. Big. And to hear their rep tell it, quite the academic jewel.

But here's the part you folks may find interesting: at one point, the names of some of Binghamton's most celebrated alums flashed during the slide show. One that caught my attention: Art Spiegelman.

Which made me think but one thing: "Just what kind of Mickey Maus institution IS this anyway?..."

But hey, that's just me, y'know?...
August 17th, 2007
Back in those halcyon days when I was doing a monthly feature for MARVEL AGE magazine, one of my favorite comedic foils for the feature was Brother Voodoo (as to the reasons WHY I thought goofing on this quasi-dignified character was a good idea, you can read my mealy-mouthed explanation by going here).

Somehow, though, I never quite took advantage of the "brother" aspect--while the flesh and blood Jericho Drumm was always in the picture, I pretty much routinely ignored his ghostly sibling, Daniel. Too bad--there's surely gotta be a whole lotta potential yocks to be mined in THAT situation!

Maybe someday I'll do a strip along those lines, but for now, I've done up a brand new illo spotlighting the Voodoo Brothers! That's merely a small detail of same up above, and if you want to see the whole thing, go here!

And if you REALLY like the drawing, well, by now, it'll probably come as no surprise that it's currently up for sale on eBay!

Crass? Maybe, but hey, what can I tell you--I'm just trying to Drumm up a little business, y'know?...
August 16th, 2007
Just a little over thirty years ago, the nation was shocked, scandalized, and maybe more than a wee bit in denial after the publication of a tawdry paperback entitled ELVIS WHAT HAPPENED? Based on the recollections of several recently deposed members of the so-called Memphis Mafia, the as-told-to tome was authored by the notorious tabloid reporter, Steve Dunleavy,
a disturbing picture of The King Of Rock and Roll as a pill-popping prescription drug addict emerged, a portrait of Presley many (make that most) of his fans flat out plain refused to believe

And then, not all that long after, as of thirty years ago this very day, suddenly Elvis would no longer be available to answer the N Y Post muckraker's rhetorical query. That, as I'm sure you're well aware, was the day Elvis left the building for good...

Back in the summer of '77, I was visiting Lynn in Woodstock, staying at her folks house that particular week. We went to see one of her old high school buddies, Linda, over on the other side of town that day. The two of them had been pretty close, and would continue to see each other intermittently over the next several decades, but to this day, my most specific memory of Linda came that afternoon when we trudged up the stairs to her small attic apartment.

"Did you hear the news?", she asked, and before we had a chance to reply, she told us: " Elvis Presley is dead."

She wasn't an Elvis fan, not really, but still, Linda had a mildly stunned look on her face. I suppose I did too. It was hard not to--even though we really shouldn't have been all that surprised.

"Elvis--what happened?" indeed.

Now, finally, we knew.
August 13th, 2007
Shortly after posting the entry below, I was stunned and saddened to read on the Internet of Mike Wieringo's untimely passing. While I never actually had the pleasure of meeting Mike, I've known his long-time collaborator, Todd Dezago, for many years, and he always--ALWAYS--spoke glowingly of his creative co-conspirator.

And why not? Mike's work--whether of THE FLASH, IMPULSE, SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN, FANTASTIC FOUR, or TELLOS--was always a joy to behold. I'll admit to not being as up to date on a lot of the newer illustrators that have come into the field in recent times, but I certainly knew Mike's stuff and consistently enjoyed it. To leave us at the age of 44 is a tragedy on so many different levels.

My heart-felt condolences go out to his family, his friends, and his many, many fans--amongst whose number I've counted myself ever since I first came across Mike Wieringo's delightful drawings.
August 13th, 2007
Call me crazy, but I tend to get inordinately jazzed by insignificant coincidences! Here's my life's latest wacky example...

I'm currently re-reading for the umpteenth time--but for the first time in at least two decades--my favorite super-hero stories ever in the recently released AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS. Besides the stunning quality of the tales themselves--courtesy of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, natch--these new Omnibus compendiums greatly enhance the experience of reliving Marvel's earliest glory days by including each reprinted issue's original letters page. Well, last night I had the pleasure of once again witnessing the so-called "End of Spider-Man", but unfortunately didn't quite have the time to get to the two-fisted follow-up, "Spidey Strike Back", until this morning (that'd be issues 18 and 19 from late 1964, friends).

Concurrent to my latter day romp through the halcyon days of The House of Ideas, there's the little matter of finding a suitable college for Julie, our high school senior to be. We've taken several University tours in weeks past (including Sarah Lawrence just last Friday), and yesterday, we decided our next target would be the quasi-local Bard College. But seeing as how it was Sunday, I decided maybe it'd be best to wait until today to make the call for an appointment. So when I got up today, one thing I knew for sure was that i was going to call the admissions office at Bard. But first, there was that little matter of Spidey striking back...

Great comic--but hey, I already knew that. What REALLY caught my attention was this chatty little item found in the letter columns' Special Announcements Section...

"Did we tell you about sunny Stan's day at college? He was invited to speak about Marvel Comics by the Science Club at Bard College, at Annandale, New York on June 5th! Our smilin' script-whiz was flying when he came back! He said it was one of the greatest days he ever spent! The gang at Bard were bright, beaming, and barrels of fun--they tossed questions at him about every phase of comic magazines, and their interest, courtesy, and enthusiasm were as heart-warming as one of Aunt May's apple pies!, So, a great big "Thanks a mil!" to the wonderful staff and students of Bard College--and when are you gonna send the diploma?"

I can't say for sure, but given that we're talking June 5th, 1964 here--and just the way the above piece was written--Stan's little lecture at Bard may well've been the very first of the by now several thousand such speeches he's given over the years, a factoid long lost in the bowels of my memory--until I stumbled across it mere hours before I was planning to call the very self-same Bard College to arrange a visit for the Hembecks myself!

Funny thing, though--the lady on the other end of the line seemed to have absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I offered up a little of my time for a personal Q&A with the Science Club....

Oh well, at least I know WHO to go to for a snappy reference if Julie ever decides Bard is the place for her (you hear me, Professor Stan?...)!
August 6th, 2007
Yeah, I know: when the day comes--and it will--Tom Glavine's going into the Baseball Hall Of Fame as an Atlanta Brave. And why not? Of the 300 games he's already won in his Cooperstown bound career, a mere 58 have come in a Mets uniform. But last night, he became the first pitcher ever (and the 23rd overall) to achieve that lofty mark wearing the Blue and the Orange! So a tip of the NY cap to a Tom that may not be OUR very own Tom Terrific (that'd be Seaver, friends), but one who is nonetheless still pretty darn swell!

(And on a side note, one of the things I noticed for the first time this past season watching Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60" (and having never followed the sitcom "Wings" previously) was just how much Steven Weber resembled Glavine! Whether or not Weber is left-handed, well, I couldn't tell ya, but otherwise, uncanny man, just uncanny...)
August 1st, 2007
Just the other day, I received my copy of "The Marvel Vault", an elaborate spiral bound hardcover rightfully dubbed "A Museum-In-A-Book" on its cover...
Written by the hard-to-top team of Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson, this tome surveys the entire history of Marvel Comics not only via an informed text and well-chosen images, but via some nifty inserts as well: replicas of various M.M.M.S. paraphernalia, Bullpen Christmas cards, convention booklets, and even a campaign button for a certain past presidential candidate! A quick flip through is all you need do to realize there's lotsa good stuff to be found in here!

Truth is, that's all I've been able to give the book so far--a quick peek. But I already know what my absolute favorite part of this collection is--and I guarantee that, not another person out there reading this (and all the many, many multitudes that aren't), not a single person amongst you will identify the very same thing as your favorite that I did!

What exactly am I talking about, you may well ask (and if you've read this far, you certainly may as well...)?

How about we go to the very last page, 192. On the left side are the Acknowledgements. but over to the right we find the REAL goodies, the Image Credits, which I've reproduced below. Take a gander at the final one...
You read that right--Julie Hembeck, my darlin' daughter!

Now, there's no trace of the FANTASTIC FOUR ROAST to be found within The Vault--nor the infamous FRED HEMBECK DESTROYS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE--but somehow, someway, my teen-aged offspring managed to secure her very first professional credit line inside the pages of such a prestigious project! To me, that's even BETTER than the reproduction of some early 1940s pencil sketches on faux yellowed stock (if just barely...)! Pretty darn amazing...

But HOW, you ask (gee, you people sure are nosy...)?

It's simple actually--my buddy, the estimable Peter Sanderson, apparently didn't have a suitable--or current--mug shot available for the author's bio page, so he requested the use of a pic Julie snapped of him during the 2006 MoCCA Art Festival (and which was posted along with plenty of other photos from said event right here--click to view). Thanks for asking Peter (and folks--bear in mind, Mr. S's thought provoking weekly Comics In Context column can be found here! Always an illuminating read--even when Sun Boy ISN'T his subject de jour....)!

Okay, okay--so it amount's to little more than a footnote on a footnote. And yeah, the elder Hembeck is way more excited about all this than the younger Hembeck--but pardon me, okay? I just think it's cool that as of now (and forevermore) there are TWO Hembecks lurking in the minutia of the Marvel Archives! This may well be a first AND a last in that particular category, so excuse me for relishing the moment, all right? My parental pride is showing, I know.

Well, I suppose I should go back and actually read the REST of the book now, huh? (And maybe, just for fun, I'll slip a photo of myself wearing my FF tee-shirt into one of the plastic pockets after I get rid of all that M.M.M.S. stuff! Hey, it's MY book, y'know--I can do what I want!)

(It's (...choke...) the ONLY way I'm gonna get in there, I guess--unlike a certain OTHER Hembeck...)

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