Archive - December 2006
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December 31st, 2006
Old business first:

The other day, I ran a photo of the late late Gerald Ford standing alongside the equally late George Harrison and Billy Preston, as well as the very much alive Ravi Shankar--AND another guy.

Well, a gent by the name of Pete Flanagan--who was surfing the net, looking for photos of the ex-Beatles pre-Traveling Wilburys group--stumbled across this very site, and he was not only nice enough the share the above Afro-tastic photo with me, but identified the other member of the contingent (sadly, not on display here) as Presidential offspring, Jack Ford. Good buddy Gary Dunaier also clued me into the mystery man's identity--thanks, fellas!

Now, onto some other things. Today, as you're no doubt aware, is December 31st. For most folks, a time of reflection (although, if you're a mirror manufacturer, that's pretty much a year round gig...), but for me, it's doubly so. Y'see, all you latecomers to, this very site first went online four years ago this very night, somewhere around 9:30 EST (although I didn't make it official until exactly midnight by waiting until then to send out an announcement to the net's movers and shakers).

Four years. Whew.

Been a lot of ebbs and flows in that time. When we first launched, I was downright giddy with excitement! I figured my new website was probably the biggest news to hit the web since Stan Lee Media hit the scene! It wasn't--not even close--but hey, you can't blame a guy for getting a little over-enthused at times, right?...

But I've already discussed the first three years in the final hours--and entries--of 2003, 2004, and 2005--what about's 2006?

Well, no denying I slacked off a bit. Hard to keep that ol' enthusiasm brimming up towards the tippy-top of your own personal cauldron at all times, believe me. Outside of this here blog, in fact, there was little movement in any of the other corners of this site--no new strips (or postings of old ones), no new Classic Cover Redo essays (though a fair amount of redos were linked to by this blog--even if I mostly was trying to SELL 'em...), just the story of my trip to the MoCCA festival and way too many Santa heads. And in that last instance, I may very well've been the most delighted one of all--maybe the ONLY one--as I saw very little note of the page elsewhere, unlike during the past two run-ups to Christmas. But hey, even with the doubling of Nick noggins, I guess it's a bit of "been there, seen that", no longer dazzling onlookers the way it once did back in the old pre-YouTube days.

YouTube. Great site, huh? Yeah, there's some real nifty stuff there, but you won't find any of it here--I'm not gonna say never, but I doubt you ever will. I have mixed emotions about the whole thing--on the one hand, there are some swell treasures to be found, but on the other, I'm not entirely comfortable with telling people what they should watch. Look, you want to scan my blog quickly to see what I'm yakking about, well, that's one thing. But saying here, spend the next eight minutes watching this vintage TV clip cuz I think it's cool--that's more than i want to burden you folks with. Plenty of the sites I visit have YouTube videos embedded in 'em, and a lot of times I only READ about 'em, but don't bother to watch. I figure I'm not the only one using that approach, so for now, I'm forgoing YouTube's Blog Helper. Besides, I watch too much TV as it is--I kinda thought I could get AWAY from the tube by logging onto my trusty laptop! Who knew?...

You know what else I've noticed? Links seem to be on the downswing, all over. Maybe that's because nowadays virtually EVERYBODY has a website to call their own, and thus perhaps there's markedly less interest in sending folks off to other pages--once you got 'em, why chase 'em away, right? (Of course, it could simply be that my observations are skewed and that I didn't produce much stuff that was link worthy this past year, but y'know, there were a few things I REALLY thought might get a little outside coverage, and instead all I heard were cyber-crickets...)

I'm as much to blame as anyone here--over our first three years in operation, I probably updated my Links page every two or three months. THIS year it stands exactly as it was last New Year's Eve--I never even updated The Beat's new address, or added Bill Alger's wonderful Al Wiseman Blog, or linked to Quick Stop Entertainment, the new home of The Fred Hembeck Show (another list that need to be seriously updated). Of all the neglected corners of my site, this pains me the most, so right now, I'm vowing to update it! New Links before Spring comes--this I swear!

Sometimes you just get tired, y'know? Even READINGS blogs got a little wearying this past year, thorough no fault of the blogs themselves. In years past, I was pretty diligent about keeping up with a dozen or so favorites, and keeping a quasi-close eye on about another two dozen, but not lately. Sorry guys--but I DO peek in occasionally! That'll have to do for now, I'm afraid...

i must, however,cop to a certain amount of enthusiasm for MySpace, my membership in that tres' un-exclusive club commencing earlier this year! As you probably know, i double post almost all of these Fred Sez blogs over there, and I thoroughly enjoy receiving comments from my various Friends (with a capital "F"). I rarely actually ANSWER those comments, true--I'm just not nearly as quick on the keyboard as you might imagine--but I sure do appreciate the feedback! So, if you're reading this and aren't a member of MySpace yet, it's not too late to sign up! It's not just for sixteen year old girls anymore--though I'm betting there's still plenty of THOSE hanging around!

One thing that I find mildly unnerving about the act of blogging is the tacit expectation that any time someone famous dies, I'm supposed to weigh in. Obviously, this is just plain depressing when the unlucky individual in question is someone I admire--which seems to happen way too often these days--but then there's the uncomfortable situation where I might not really feel the need to post a tribute for someone whose work I'd otherwise held in, if not high, at least decent regard. Like, I dug Peter Boyle, from "Joe" to "Young Frankenstein", although I was one of those who DIDN'T much like Raymond. Others said it all better, so I took a pass. Jack Burnley--here was a fellow who lifted the level of craft demonstrably back in the early days of the Golden Age of Comics with his many superb covers featuring Batman and Superman, but as he left the field entirely years before I was even born, I can't honestly say I had any emotional connection to his work, so I let his recent passing go by unremarked upon. And James Brown? As a longtime fan of popular music, there's no way I could've been ignorant of his vastly important contributions. And yet, I was never all that much of a fan, either (I've always preferred my classic soul singers to be on the decidedly sweeter sounding side--Sam Cooke, Al Green, and most especially, the majestic Smokey Robinson), so I never quite fell under the spell of The Hardest Working Man In Show Business, primarily due to his gruff vocal stylings (never was all that big on Otis Redding for pretty much the same reason), but somehow felt, by not writing SOMETHING about his earthly departure, I wasn't properly living up to my blogger status (though I guess this is gonna have to qualify as my belatedly lame attempt at trying, huh?...). Hey, if not for that amazing coincidence that had Julie and me watching an episode of "The Simpsons" featuring the ex-president just hours before news of his death hit, I might well've skipped my Gerald Ford tribute entirely, y'know? And Saddam Hussein? Him I NEVER liked, so sorry, don't expect any tributes HERE!...

Seriously, writing obits is a bummer. I suppose I'll keep on doing it, but I'll try and limit them only to the truly heart-felt. Otherwise, my florid recollections of, say, the fourth lead of some thirty year-old 13 episode sitcom might just seem a bit excessive when compared to sincere words cobbled together to mark the passing of a TRUE personal hero of mine. It's a fine line, and one I don't really enjoy straddling, but hopefully, no one famous will die in 2007, and we'll ALL be happier for it! Probably not, but it'd sure be nice, huh?...

Yup, another year of on the record--historians, please take note! And anybody who's feeling particularly generous--we DO have a Donate button, y'know. It's covered in spider webs, and creakier than the Tin Man before Dorothy and the Scarecrow came upon him, but it does work! But dig it--I realize you've all been conditioned to expect your internet goodies to be free. Me too. So, barring just GIVING me money, please remember, I'm always willing to draw for cash! My profound thanks to all of you who not only commissioned me this past year, but also participated in my eBay auctions--mucho gracias, amigos! Please come back for more in 2007!

And come 2007, well, while I have no specific plans for this site, there ARE at least one--maybe two, or more--nifty little offline projects on the immediate horizon! Once they get a little closer to completion, don't worry--yours truly will show his TRUE colors and become a ubiquitous web whore, shilling his goodies wherever and with whoever'll have him! So, something to look forward to, huh?...

Yeah, four years. And I know it sure sounds like today was just a complain-fest--and maybe it was--but in truth, I love doing this, even if there are times when I just have to step away for a few days to catch my breath and recharge the ol' batteries. My sincere appreciation goes out to any of you who feel it's worth a few moments of your valuable time to stop by here and read my ramblings. You DO realize there's something not quite right about you, don't you? But I love you all the more for it!

Happy New Year friends (or is that more properly TOMORROW'S message? Come back and find out!...)
December 29th, 2006
Just a quick note to alert those who might have some extra holiday cash burning a hole in their pockets that, since eBay had another one of their 15 cent listing day specials recently, I've relisted over a dozen of my Classic Cover Redo pieces. You can zip on over to this CAPTAIN ATOM one, and access the rest by aiming your mouse at the "seller's other items" link.

And I'll also take this opportunity to remind interested parties once again, the price of commissioning yours truly to redo the cover of your choice will be going up twenty-five bucks in little over a month (that'd be February 1st for all you calendar fans)--be apprised!

Yes, friends, today WAS all hard sell--sorry. More boring stories of my life in days to come, promise!!
December 28th, 2006
That's right, friends and neighbors, today we celebrate the birth of the Merry Marvel Marching Society's spiritual leader (seen above in a semi-recent photo--okay, okay, it's from the inside front cover of 1965's FANTASY MASTERPIECES #1--back when men really knew how to wear a classy lid!...)--so everybody, go get a copy of your favorite Marvel Masterworks Volume, a piece of cake, and dig in!! (I find that "Unmasked By Dr. Octopus" goes down particularly well with moistly delicious baked goods!...)

Long-time readers of this blog are well aware that this is the one day each year when I unabashedly fawn over good ol' Unca Stan, but I thought that this year, we might keep the verbiage to a comparative minimum. That's because, earlier in 2006, it was my distinct privilege to be invited to contribute a few pages to one of those wacky "Stan Lee Meets" specials Marvel issued to commemorate the erstwhile Mr. Lieber's long and storied association with the firm.

(Some people get a gold watch--Stan gets to swing from building to building, grasped tightly under the arm of a nutty teen-ager who'd been bitten by a very, very sick spider! Sheesh--that sure is one testy testimonial, lemme tell ya!...)

On the other hand, MY salute to Stan--which I'd maintain as being utterly sincere, but others might cynically describe using a play on Ben Grimm's rallying cry: "It's SLOBBERIN' time"--was far more grounded. The fact is, there's not a single airborne individual to be spotted in any of the piece's 18 panels!

I realize that I don't usually post such recently published material of my own here at the site, but given the circumstances, I thought I'd make an exception, and share this with all of you who love Stan as much as i do, yet balked at the notion of shelling out $3.99 for a comic book!

Odds are, Stan's already read the strip, but this is for all his devoted yet cheap acolytes. And so, torn (or scanned, actually) from the pages of STAN LEE MEETS SPIDER-MAN #1, allow me to present (with apologies to Lou Reed) "Waiting For the Man". Enjoy!

And Stan? Happy birthday, big fella! May you continue to prosper as richly as a Latverian rivet salesman!
December 27th, 2006
It was late fall, 1973. I was attending college in Buffalo, New York, and while I lived in the dorms which were located at the older, downtown portion of the campus, I had a number of classes out on the college's newer campus, located way out in the boonies, several miles away. Not having a car at the time, I was thus dependant on the campus transportation system.

I boarded the bus one afternoon, and as it sat idling before leaving, the driver--an affable young black fellow in his early thirties who had a habit of chatting with his student passengers--turned and happily announced to us all, "There's a Ford in our future!"

That's how I learned that Gerald Ford had been confirmed as our nation's new Vice-President, replacing the disgraced Spiro Agnew.

Yesterday afternoon, in our ongoing quest to watch--in sequential order--all of "The Simpsons" DVDs, daughter Julie and I reached a seventh season episode (from 1996) which postulated a scenario that saw the then recently retired George Herbert Walker Bush moving in across the street from the celebrated cartoon family. In the course of the storyline, Bart becomes Dennis Mitchell to the elder Bush's Mr. Wilson, the twist coming as the young Simpson's father entered the fray, with an ever escalating feud developing between Homer and the former President.

Thoroughly disgusted with his ill-chosen choice of neighborhoods, the Bushes angrily take their leave of Springfield at episode's end, but the mansion that dubiously appeared right across the street from the Simpson house earlier doesn't remain vacant for long.

Y'see, in the show's final seconds, a new owner arrives, one who promptly crosses the street to greet his new neighbors.

It was Gerald Ford.

Unlike George Bush, however, Homer immediately hits it off with Mr. Ford, and soon the two are heading towards the new Ford manor, arm around each other, to watch some football and drink some beer.

And then the pair trip, fall, and--in unison--utter the immortal "D'oh!"...

"Who's Gerald Ford', Julie asked as the credits began to roll.

Oh, she knew he was a President all right, but not all that many details of his short but pivotal tenure. I gave her the Reader's Digest version, and then didn't think any more of it.

Until about six hours later when i flipped on the TV only to discover that he had passed away.

Look, I generally don't like to talk about politics here--stating any strong opinions, well, I figure you're either already with me, or I'm just alienating you. Seeing as how I'm no expert, changing many--or any--minds doesn't seem likely. You're probably already aware that I'm pretty much a partisan Democrat, and when it's come to Presidents who've served during my lifetime, I've either viewed them with glowing admiration (before inevitably turning into heart-breaking disillusionment), or moderate dislike, usually evolving into deep resentment (or, in some recent cases, pure and utter loathing--but no names, please...). With Ford though, I had no particular strong-held feelings one way or another, and in an odd way, that might well be the nicest compliment i could give the guy.

And hey, not only did he share, a birthday with my (considerably younger) wife, but he was also the first Chief Exec to welcome a Beatle into the White House, and you've gotta give him points for THAT!

(George, Billy, and now Gerry--only Ravi's left. And maybe that unidentified guy standing next to Shankar...)
From that long ago day on the bus right on up until his final curtain with Homer Simpson (not his actual voice, but gee, it might just as well've been), those are my own idiosyncratic memories of our 38th Commander-In-Chief.

I join your ersatz neighbor in raising a can of Duff in your honor, sir.
December 25th, 2006
At this point, what is there left to say, really, except...
Merry Christmas, all!
December 24th, 2006
In the spirit of the season, let me give unto you all this following list of Christmas related links...

Santa Claus, "24" style, in this short video from Fox (fans of Jack Bauer should NOT pass this up--it's hilarious!).

Scott's Comic Book Advent Calendar 2006 offers up just over two dozen swell seasonal themed comics covers--I'm partial to December 6th, but the 1st has its appeal as well.

I ain't the only guy who tried drawing up his own cards. Gary Sassaman has several zippy examples of his own attempts: here, here, here, here, and here.

"Is Santa Claus A Superhero?" That's the question Blake Petit asks in this fun piece--AND there are some nifty seasonal comics covers included as well!

Over at Drawergeeks, some great Santa Claus illos--and you gotta know how much I love THAT! (Via Chris Karath--thanks!)

The birth of Jesus--drawn in comics form by the legendary Joe Sinnott!!

The ever witty Noah Smith gives us "The Chanukah Song--Comic Book Creators Edition"! Think fan-crazed Adam Sandler when you read lyrics as

Bill Finger was Jewish, and Bob Kane was, too
So whichever one created Batman, you know it was a Jew

101 Classic Christmas Videos Online--The Christmas Spot has links to 'em all! Forget about visiting with the relatives--here's stuff to watch!

"Santa's Final Days", a hilarious strip by the criminally under appreciated Howard Cruse.

Neato Coolville has a whole month of retro Christmas items that could only be described as...neato cool!

My good buddy Roger Green shares some of his Christmas memories.

Scared of Santa Gallery--actual snapshots of actual tiny tykes terrorized by big fat men in red suits!

Comic Coverage has even more great Christmas covers!

And don't forget to check out my own look into the great Dennis the Menace Christmas comics produced by Fred Toole and Al Wiseman if you haven't already! (Visit Bill Alger's wonderful Al Wiseman Blog while you're at it, okay?...)

And lest I forget (and for the very last time--THIS year):


And to all., a good night!
December 23rd, 2006
There it is friends--my third and final home-made Christmas card, drawn by yours truly way back in 1991. And unlike the other two (which you can see by using the link in yesterday's blog entry), this time around I didn't even manage to come up with a two part gag, leaving the inside of the card all blank and lonely like. Hey, is it any wonder I tossed in the towel after this one?...

I DID have a couple of ideas for my next two seasonal greetings, though, but they never quite got past the brainstorming stage. Amazingly, after all these years, I STILL remember them, so allow me to describe the scenarios as best I can (and please excuse the topical references--this was a decade and a half ago, after all...).

Picture a Cleaver-like family (Beaver, not Eldridge). Dad is sitting in his big comfy chair, nose buried deep in a newspaper. Mom, in the de riguer apron, stands behind him, as their young son runs into the house excitedly.

"What's the hurry, Johnny?"

"I need to get two carrots for my snowman, mom!"

Open the card now for drawing number two. Dad looks up from his paper, quizzical concern on his face...

"TWO carrots?..."

With a world-weary sigh, mom delivers the punchline:

"I KNEW we shouldn't have let him watch the Dr. Ruth Christmas Special..."

But, Lynn asked pointedly, just exactly what would my dear old Aunts Mary Beth and Bobbie make of THAT, huh? So, I chickened out (let's just forgo the gag about snowballs, shall we?...).

Then there's my back-up notion, one that wasn't nearly as fleshed out. All I know is that it featured the North Pole's First Lady lying coma-bound in a bed, with Santa Claus Von Bulow lurking in the background!!

I'm not sure Aunt Mary Beth would've approved, but I'm willing to bet Harlan Ellison would've loved THAT one!!..
December 22nd, 2006
Having your own personally drawn Christmas cards printed up to send out is a grand old tradition in the cartooning community, and for three years--1989 through 1991--yours truly did his meager best in attempting to follow in the footsteps of such giants as Chester Gould, Mort Walker, and Terry Austin (Hi Terry!...).

I posted my first two hand-crafted holiday greetings on this site a year (or maybe two) back--you can go here to see them. (Number three will be coming up soon, fret not Virginia!).

The minimum standard order--at least, to make it financially feasible--was one hundred copies, so that's what I got printed up each year. However, both Lynn and I have a very small circle of relatives, so invariably, I would mail off a large percentage of the cards to virtually anybody connected to the comics field whose addresses I had access to. Now, it wasn't entirely imperative that I actually KNOW these people, merely that I had a vague sense that they might, just on the possible outside chance, know who I was. After all, I'm thinking, why not spread some holiday joy? And--let''s face it--maybe show off a little bit in the process? Hey, peace on Earth and such is fine, but c'mon--there's gotta be a more than a smidge of "Look at me! Look at me!" in this whole vanity enterprise, no denying it...

One of the individuals who qualified as being on both my mailing list AND the outer periphery of my life was a fellow by the name of Harlan Ellison--maybe you've heard of him?

You betcha by golly I sure had! When I was a teenager and his books were being reissued as a series with a matching cover motif, I eagerly scarfed them all up (being the media maven that I am, I was probably most enthralled by "The Glass Teat" and its sequel). So, several years later, when my "Dateline:@#$%" cartoons became a regular staple in THE BUYER'S GUIDE FOR COMICS FANDOM--with my home address conveniently appended to the small print at the bottom of each entry--I was more than mildly delighted when an unsolicited letter lavishing approval for my efforts arrived via the U. S. Postal service from none other than the vaunted Mr. Harlan Ellison himself!

Yipes! Sometimes it was pretty darn GOOD being the world's most unrepentant fanboy, and that friends, was definitely one such time!

Naturally, I wrote back, thanking Mr. E effusively, and from that point on, I made sure he was on my freebie list, happily sending him copies fresh off the presses of all my Fantaco books (such as BAH, HEMBECK), as well as my earliest work for Marvel (like the FF ROAST). We didn't keep up any actual correspondence, mind you, but I was just content knowing that H.E. was on the receiving end of all my latest goodies.

A few years later--the early eighties--our paths crossed, as we were both guests at one of Phil Seuling's legendary NYC cons. Not surprisingly, the ever popular Mr. Ellison was continually swamped by fans as he sat behind his table. I eventually worked up enough nerve to amble on over and introduce myself. Thing was, though, when I did, Harlan didn't seem to quite know who I was. Oh, he was pleasant, but after several days of non-stop attention from a never-ending flow of well-wishers, it appeared he didn't quite connect the name with the work when I tentatively introduced myself. Certainly understandable under the circumstances, but as a throng continued to surround the writer, I thanked him for all that his words had meant to me, and quickly vacated the premises, letting others have their turn. There's few things more embarrassing than approaching some notable under the assumption that they know who you are, only to find out, well gee whiz, maybe they DON''T! Which is why I make it a point to rarely--if ever--foster such an attitude anymore.

Well, time marched on. The Fantaco books came to an end, and while I'd found a happy home in the center of each issue of MARVEL AGE, that just wasn't the sort of thing one mailed out to dozens of breathless admirers (for one thing, I only received a dozen or so comps of each issue), so my regular mass mailings pretty much came to a close.

Until I cobbled together my first home made holiday card in December of 1989--THAT'S when the trusty rolodex came out of mothballs. And among the score of individuals I deigned to bless with my festive efforts was none other than (uh huh) the aforementioned Harlan Ellison...

A little over a week later, THIS is what I found waiting for me in my mailbox...
Who knew?

Well, apparently a lot of folks, but I wasn't one of them.

At first I felt a bit disappointed, but that feeling soon passed when I realized that I'd been gifted with a wonderful, top-notch conversation piece! Believe me--for the next few weeks, I barely went anywhere without dragging along my handy "Harlan Hates Xmas Cards!" card, proudly showing it to all my buddies (hi again, Terry!...)!

A few months later, just coincidentally, I came across an interview with the noted author in which he professed enmity not only towards Christmas cards, but in the direction of cats as well! That put me in mind of a devilish notion--I joked with friends that NEXT December, not only would I send off a seasonal card to Mr. Ellison, but that I'd make sure to adorn the outside with a number of cute little furry kitty stickers as well! Just imagine the impromptu message THAT might elicit before making its return trip?

Well, since such a thing would be just plain wrong, I never did follow through with that idea--and in fact failed to even send off my subsequent two cards Harlan's way--but hey, it was fun to pretend, y'know?

Looking at the card now (and hey, dig that nifty Jack Davis illoed stamp!), I realize that I didn't include my name with the return address. Would it have made a difference to the card's potential recipient if he knew who had sent it, I wonder? After all, none of my cards qualify as being overly reverent--maybe H.E. would've trusted that wacky Hembeck fella not to go all warm and fuzzy had he only known who was the one responsible. Perhaps then he might've opened it.

But if he had, well, WHAT would I have written about today, hmm?

Y'know, Christmas has its good guys--Santa and Jesus come immediately to mind--but it has to have its bad guys, too. Gotta balance the scales.

That's why you need folks like Scrooge...

The Grinch...

...and Harlan Ellison.

But wait--maybe I'm being unfair, grossly unfair.

Perhaps it would be better to characterize Mr. E as an early--but undoubtedly pure of heart--recruit in the increasingly popular War On Christmas! After all, who can truly blame a man for having issues with a cultural phenomenon that calls for the likes of "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" to receive saturated airplay for three whole weeks at the end of each and every year? Maybe--just maybe H.E.s the sane one, and we're the crazies, y'know?

Food for thought, that (just so long as it's not a fruitcake, natch!...)

(Oh, and please note, although Harlan had scribbled over his street address, it could be made out nonetheless, so I covered it up, as it may well still be valid, unlike my own long out of date address. And yes, there was one further personal encounter between the two us, about five or six years back now, but THAT tale for another time, folks--it had nothing to do with December 25th.

Or cats...)
December 21st, 2006
When I went out to get the mail earlier this afternoon, there was a large manila envelope stuck between the advertising flyers and the bills. Curious as to what it could be, I pulled it out for a closer look.

It was addressed to "Little Freddy H.", and there was no mistaking that elegant handwriting--


But as best I could determine, our Mr. Austin had called a halt to producing his own annual Christmas card some years back (unfortunately, but understandably--those things aren't nearly as easy to come up with as you may think, trust me...)--WHAT could be in this package?

Once I got back inside my house, I eagerly tore open the envelope and found this...
Sonic the Hedgehog AND Santa Claus! Well, it ain't quite SpongeBob decked out in festive headgear, but hey, it'll do! Obviously, Terry knows of my seasonal sickness, and he's chosen to help feed my Kringle obsession--thanks, old buddy! Folks, I know I said no more new Santa heads only yesterday, but c'mon,the Big Guy went above and beyond just to get this to me, so excuse me, but I'm gonna add me a pair more, upping the head count by two.

But just in case you're all way too tired of trolling down that roll, here are the merry mug shots I've added...
That tornado type thing is Sonic, by the way. Our hero doesn't actually don the wondrous red hat--that honor falls to the bad guy, Doctor Eggman (Goo goo ga joob--hey, YOU try to resist!...) and his henchbot. Y'see, the Doc tries to trick all the children on Earth (which is where our hero's crew are currently trapped) into believing that he's the real Santa, and this year, there'll be NO presents unless they bring him Sonic! And kids being kids, well, they immediately turn our our little hero, and deliver him to the villain!

Yes, it's quite the warm holiday tale!

But don't worry--everything works out in the end. Was there ever any doubt?

Terry--who, in case I neglected to mention it earlier, inked this issue over the pencils of Todd Wahnish--even signed it to me, all personal like, with green and red ink! Y'know, I've seen many salutations to celebrate the season, but I've gotta admit, "Happy Ho-Ho-Hedgehog!" is a first for yours truly!

When I spoke with Mr. A earlier this week, he was telling me how much he'd enjoyed attending his first Archie Comics Christmas party recently. Unlike some of the loud, crowded, and ultimately impersonal seasonal soirees thrown by the Big Two in years past, this comparatively quiet sit-down dinner had the warm vibes of a family-owned company--which, somewhat amazingly, Archie still is.

Sitting at the freelancer portion of the table, Terry got to chat with old friends Al Milgrom, Bob Smith, and John Workman (who letters Terry's Sonic pages), as well as renew his acquaintance with the legendary Stan Goldberg, and meet for the first time, long-time jack of all trades Jon D'Agostino (who, Terry learned, lettered a little something called AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 many, MANY Christmases ago!...). A fine time was had by all, I'm told, and now, maybe if the Archie folks can just get the celebrated Mr. Austin to embellish some of those new look Betty and Veronica pages with his magic pen, maybe the more outraged fans out there wouldn't be quite so dubious...

Just try and get the made-over gals into Santa hats by NEXT Christmas, Terry-o, and THEN we'd sure have us something! "Happy Ho-Ho-Hotties!" would be even MORE to my liking!

But big time thanks for today's surprise! Have a Happy Happy yer ownself!
December 20th, 2006
A week or so back, I announced that I had added some new images to one of my pet pages here at

A little something I like to call The Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, Many, MANY Faces of Santa Claus!

--and I swore that I was done gilding the big red Lilly for THIS year!

Well, I lied.

Blame Jim Salicrup if you must--y'see, so dazzled was he by this holiday enterprise of mine that he gleefully sent me off in search of a Santa Salicrup to add to the honor roll!

Unfortunately, even carefully looking twice through each of the appropriately Christmas-themed issues of MARVEL AGE that Jim helmed failed to turn up a single crimson bedecked Salicrup--and the thing is, I KNOW there's one out there, I just know it! Maybe it was included in an ad somewhere. Maybe...

Anyway, failing that quest, I nonetheless stumbled across several more Santas--two dozen more, to be precise. So, I dutifully (obsessively?...) scanned 'em in, posted 'em, and now they're up, bringing the ridiculously grand total to a staggering 413 St.(and semi-St.) Nick's! With nary a Salicrup in sight...


I DID come across a suitably festive strip that I did for the 73rd issue of MARVEL AGE (April 1989, but really the Christmas 1988 issue), one that featured not only yours truly but the incessantly mentioned Mr. S as well!. Take a look

Having Forbush Man hang a bulb of my head--along with ones of Jim, Stan Lee, and the late Mark Gruenwald's noggins as well--on the Marvel tree in that issue's cover's corner box was just an unexpected holiday bonus!

(Oh, and by the way--if you've already checked out The Ad Infinitum Heads of Santa, but are curious enough to take another look, be advised that the latest additions can be found towards the bottom of the page. They're not the final 24, but you could probably find all of 'em nestled in the last fifty or so. And that's it for this year--unless Cartoon Jim belatedly shows up in the proper head regalia, of course...)
December 19th, 2006
I was just like every other kid in my class back in the early sixties--we all faithfully watched every single episode of "Huckleberry Hound", "Quick Draw McGraw", and "Yogi Bear".

How could you not? With everyone running around outdoors at recess, playfully (or sometimes not so playfully) smacking each other over the head and screaming, "EL KABONG!", it wasn't smart not to be in the know.

And we, that first generation of Hanna Barbera fans, were--make no mistake about it--smarter than the average bear.
But as mush fun as those shows were, "The Flintstones" remains the signature achievement of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. I sat with my mom every week, happily watching that show together (a prime-time cartoon--who'da thot?). It was always an entertaining half-hour, and to this day, I remain quite fond of it, for personal reasons as well as for the program's obvious quality: thanks to Joe and Bill, the kids at school mostly shifted from calling me "Freddie the Freeloader" over to (uh huh) "Fred Flintstone". Yup, somehow. being identified with a surly, barefoot caveman with a Ralph Kramden complex beat being mistaken for a red-headed, charcoal-faced hobo with a wise mouth and a pair of pet seagulls!

True, I've never been much of a cartoon guy--the last H-B shows I followed was "Jonny Quest", never quite getting around to screening even a single episode of "Scooby Doo"--but that doesn't lessen any the affection that I still nurture for those initial Hanna Barbera productions.

As you most likely know by now, Joe Barbera has made his final exit, stage left. Along with his partner, he left an indelible mark on our culture.

Thanks, Joe.
December 18th, 2006
Journey back with me, gentle reader, twenty-one Christmas's past, as I relate to you a heartwarming holiday tale of giving and sacrifice....
Notice anything different about that cover of MARVEL AGE, friends? Like maybe that rather conspicuous blurb heralding Cartoon Fred's encounter with Ms. Marvel?...
In the over one hundred issues my feature ran in MARVEL AGE, this was the ONLY time it was ever afforded a vignette spotlighted on a cover! The only time!

And why? Because I was wearing a Santa suit? Hey, if THAT were the case, guess what my wardrobe would've looked like the OTHER eleven months of the year?

No, it wasn't the suit--it was the DEED.

Simply put, this was the month that Fred Hembeck SAVED Ms. Marvel!

That's right--saved. If I hadn't (at the specific request of my editor, Jovial Jim Salicrup)--used the character in my strip that month, Marvel could've very likely soon after been missing a Ms.! All the details are explained in the strip itself, originally published in that March, 1986 issue, which I've scanned in here for your edification. (Please excuse the dodgy job I did attempting to match up the two sides of this double page spread, due to the simple fact that the whole thing is a bit too large to fit onto my scanner. Hey, it's the holidays--cut me a break, okay? It should at least be readable--or as readable as my stuff gets, anyway...)

So, consider this--if it weren't for my doing The House of Ideas a good turn over two decades back, Americomics could very well be the ones publishing a Ms. Marvel comic now--and then her bust size would be even BIGGER than it already is!!

Giving brand new meaning to the blurb above--"You gotta see it to believe it!"

No, I did good--I think...
December 16th, 2006
About a week back, I wrote up a quick blog entry about going to see the kids at my daughter's high school put on their production of "Macbeth". Well, who knew so many of you folks out there were so cultured (begging the question--just exactly what are you doing HERE?...), as I received quite a few responses to my Mr. Firstnighter recap, both via email and in the comments section over at my MySpace blog (for the uninitiated, I generally double-post my Fred Sez stuff over there, sans the illos--they're a special treat for my readers! Plus, I've never quite, uh, figured out how to post 'em on MySpace--sorry...)

Anyway, rather than answer everyone individually, I'm taking the easy way out, and sharing with you all some of the comments that came in, with my own responses to follow, okay?

All right then. First up we have one of my regular MySpace correspondents, Rose, delivering her usual well-considered take on things...

The language is what gets everyone.

My English teachers always pointed out that Shakespeare wrote for the masses. The "common" people.

People who, in this day and age, (mind you) wouldn't go to see his plays.

Shakespeare wrote great stories, that hold up to this day. He put in action, and romance, tragedy and comedy. (he often threw in comedy when things got too heavy) He put in something for everyone.

It's just, as you said, the language gets in the way of understanding that.

If you really want to read Shakespeare, and have great patience: there are annotated volumes. Volumes where words, unfamiliar to the 21st. century readers, are defined. So we read along, bump into a word we don't know, look down, come to understand that word, and then read on.

I always found that Shakespeare took two readings to really enjoy. The first reading to "get through" and try to learn the language. The second reading to "hear" the story.

I can't imagine those young one's memorizing so much old or middle English dialog. We had to memorize just a few stanza's way back in English class: and it was rough. Those kids are owed a hearty congratulations.

..oh and what got me to read Shakespeare outside of school? Comic books, Science Fiction, (Remember Forbidden Planet was based on The Tempest) and specifically Ray Bradbury. It was all the references I found in those sources. It made me want to learn more.

Rose, you're absolutely right. I was playing up my ignorance a bit for comedic effect last time around (but only a little), as I well know that Shakespeare wrote some top-notch plots, plots that have been successfully appropriated by other lesser (but more accessible, at least by contemporary standards) writers over the years. It's kinda the same way with Charles Dickens--there's another immortal scribe I just can't read (save for "A Christmas Carol"), but man oh man, "A Tale Of Two Cities" had to be the BEST issue of Classics Illustrated EVER! (And the movie version from the thirties was great, too!...)

The truth is, I'm not all that well read. I don't boast this as some sort of badge of Bizarro World like honor--it's just the way things turned out. I've always had trouble getting into anything that wasn't written in straightforward, modern day English--and more than a few celebrated comics fall into that category as well, "Li'l Abner" being just one example. I've actually read a decent amount of "Abner", but I eventually put it aside, tiring of having to constantly translate the phonetically exaggerated accents. Well, that, and the fact that Al Capp was actually a rather highly unlikable fellow...

So, I'm afraid I don't have--never WILL have--the patience to read through something akin to an annotated Shakespeare play, as perfect a recommendation as that might be. Sorry--but hey, it's MY loss. Too bad--I sorta wish I'd been able to develop more of an appreciation for the classics when I was young, not just Classics Illustrated...

As for the teens who DID mount the play last weekend, a bit more about them after we hear from another one of my MySpace friends, Lon Midnight...

Honest Fred, the only Shakes I have a good handle on is "Midsummer" because I did a production years ago. If you aren't getting what the characters are saying, it's because the actors don't know, they're just repeating the words. And that's the fault of the director.

Do yourself one big favor and find the film version of "Midsummer" with Cagney and Mickey Rooney. If Cagney can't get Shakespeare across to you, then forget it.

...and from my longtime buddy, Tom Hegeman....

Shakespeare can be hard and one of the problems of amateur productions is that the actors are not taught to speak so the meaning comes clear. Often, they have barely enough time to memorize lines and don't really understand what they are saying, so they cannot get the meaning across. When you know the meaning of the words you can speak the lines so the meaning is clear to the audience--if you are a good actor. Shakespeare is not for the mediocre (or those enamored of British accents for their own sake.)

Here's a test for you. Kenneth Branagh does great Shakespeare, very accessible. Heck, he makes Hamlet comprehensible. Anyhow, rent "Henry 5"--Branagh's, not Olivier's. Don't read Wikkipedia in advance. You should have no trouble following the proceedings, and it is a very entertaining movie.

Okay, Lon and Tom, while I must admit I was well aware that perhaps watching a high school production of the Bard may not be the optimum way to introduce ones self to the works of Shakespeare, I'm gonna haveta come to the kids' defense here. While inevitably, some members of the cast--generally, the younger eighth, ninth, and tenth graders--delivered their lines with somewhat less than full assurance--the principal players usually appear to have a solid idea of what they're saying, and not merely parroting rote memorization.

Here's the thing--at Julie's school (this is her third year attending this private institution) they devote all day every Wednesday to what they call Central Studies. Students, y'see, chose the field they want to explore at the outset of each semester. Some take up music, others (like my daughter) art, and then there's drama. From the first week in September until early December, the students in the drama class work on their Shakespeare play--and in that final week before the curtain goes up, Central Studies gets super-sized, with Wednesday, Thursday, AND Friday devoted totally towards rehearsing (while at the same time giving my daughter a chance to churn out a whole lotta paintings!...). My point being that this is a very thorough procedure, so I'm reasonably certain that, early on, the meaning of the Bard's words is dealt with in a clear and illuminating manner by the teacher/director.

(And, FYI, in the spring semester, the school offers up a course wherein the students write and perform their own original musical, another daunting challenge!)

Look, I'd almost be inclined to agree with you about a lot of my confusion being a product of amateur thespians in over their heads were it not for something that occurred last spring. Julie was assigned to read "Henry IV, Part One", and she just couldn't make heads or tails out of it--not even with an edition that supposedly translated the dialog into more contemporary lingo on pages directly opposite the original text. So, Lynn went to the library and found a series of Shakespeare DVDs produced by a professional British troupe of actors. True, these weren't big budget films featuring heavyweights like Cagney or Branagh, but these sure weren't teenagers, either.

So, we popped the disc into the DVD player, settled back, and prepared to soak in some culture (and, big-hearted parents that we are, help along our young one with any queries she might have).

Fifteen minutes in, there was a consensus amongst the three of us: HUH?...

We had almost NO idea what was going on--including Lynn, and remember, she's the SMART one in the family--so we surrendered to our ignorance, turned the DVD off, and sent Julie off the to the web equivalent of Cliff's Notes, and realized that even in the hands of seasoned pros, Shakespeare was surely no "Hellzapoppin!". We later learned that "Henry IV, Part One" was hardly one of Willie's lighter works, but still, we were surprised at just how tough it was to figure out. After that experience, I'm not about to lay my difficulties with "Macbeth" at the feet of a cast of teen-age thespians, as easy (and as logical) an explanation as that may sound.

That said, you guys really have peaked my interest in the two films you mentioned. Consider then one of my New Year's resolutions to be to watch a bona-fide silver screen Shakespeare adaptation (or three)! Give me while, and I'll get back to you with the results!

Then there was the matter of "Lead on, Macduff". First, I heard from my trusted funnybook dealer, Robert Pilk of Mountain Empire Comics....

I hate to sound like Mr. Know-It-All, but isn't the phrase "Lay On Macduff!"? It's when they're about to have the big sword fight, and Macbeth is essentially saying "C'mon, let's fight and get this over with, one way or the other." Or so I was told in high school junior English lit class.

I'm with you on the difficulty of understanding the language, Fred. I don't think I'll ever really enjoy Shakespeare because of that - with some re-reading and studying, I can understand what they're talking about, but reading it for sheer enjoyment - eh, not gonna happen.

...then I heard from frequent correspondent, Rob Allen, who commences his message by quoting the all-knowing, all-wise Wikipedia...

From Wikipedia: Note that the common English saying, "Lead on, Macduff", meaning "Go ahead and I'll follow you" is a misquote of Macbeth's final lines in the play: "Lay on Macduff, and damn'd be him that first cries, 'Hold, enough!'"

I think "Lay on" was an old phrase meaning "Let's fight", so Macbeth is challenging Macduff to fight to the death. Bad move on his part.

There's a Marvel Comics connection in Macbeth also. In the first issue of The Cat, Marvel's groundbreaking female superhero, the villain was named Mal Donalbain. In Macbeth, the sons of the murdered King Duncan were named Malcolm and Donalbain. You have to read Shakespeare in order to appreciate Marvel Comics. Stan & Roy used Shakespeare quotes as story titles a *lot*.

Macbeth was a real historical person. If his descendants had been around, they could have sued Shakespeare for libel. Macbeth did succeed Duncan as King of Scotland instead of Duncan's son, but Macbeth was not a usurper or a regicide. In Macbeth's day, kings were elected by the nobles, and it was still traditional for the most able military leader
among the nobility to be elected king. When Macbeth was elected, it was because Malcolm was too young to be considered ready. Macbeth was a legitimate King.

Thus endeth the lesson for today.

Thanketh you, Rob! I can only imagine we have here a case not unlike the old "savage breast" thingie that somehow morphed into "savage beast" over time . If only the original phrase had been "savage boob", none of THAT confusion would've ever happened! (And thanks for the background on The Cat--hey, wasn't there a Shakespearean pastiche in Night Nurse, too? No? Well, there SHOULDA been...)

Lastly, from the MySpacer known only as Philosopher Rogue: Papa Noel comes this...

I'm constantly amazed by kids these days, every time I give up hope a new thing happens and I see the future as being incredibly bright again. And if these youngsters are doing Shakespeare and doing it well, then they can accomplish anything with their futures.

And I am also amazed by Neanderthals on skies flying about! What issue was *that*?!

THIS issue, Papa Noel, this issue!

(Though as usual, MySpacers will have to zip on over to Fred Sez to view the cover of the classic 1963 issue--sorry, Friends...)
And after much ado about you know who, I think it's time to put the Bard to bed! I thank you all for your interest!
December 15th, 2006
You've seen my drawings, you've read my words, you might well've even viewed my photographs, but if that wasn't enough for you (and honestly, shouldn't it have been?...), now you can LISTEN to me too!!

That's right--there's now a podcast posted on the web of an interview done with yours truly about a week back by a very nice young fellow named Chris Shields. Prepare yourself for my dulcet tones, and then go here. It's all part of wide ranging roster of Q&As Chris has posted over at the cIndy Center (which, at first glance, sounds like an Internet shrine to Cindy Crawford, but actually isn't) (...darn...)--even if your interest in listening to me pontificating for twenty minutes or so is absolutely nil, you'd do well to check out the stellar line-up of other guests Chris has snagged in the past.

I'm probably the ONLY one who got the "squiggles" question, though...
December 14th, 2006
(...not to mention, slobber, drool, slash, and stab!!...)
Johnny Craig's maniacal Santa--ah, what memories HE brings back!

But I didn't dredge him up today to speak of that, but instead to alert you all to the contents of the just posted 84th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show:


Yes, I know that you veteran holiday visitors to are already well aware of my penchant for scanning in a plethora of Nick noggins, but you really must zip on over to my Quick Stop Entertainment column for the full story--as well as a link to this year's updated roll scroll.

HOW updated?

Well, the first two years, we mounted 181 Santa craniums, and THIS December we've added an astonishing (some might say "anal") 208 new heads, for a grand total of 389! And we have my good buddy, Terry Austin, to thank for more than half of those! No, he didn't draw them all--allow me to explain...

I'd already hoisted 97 new Santas up, and would've left it at that, were it not for two things: I was SO close to the century mark, I just knew I'd have to seek at least three more if I wanted to get any sleep at night; and secondly, my long-time buddy was conspicuous in his absence. Now, this is Terry's first Christmas with a computer, and I didn't want him going on over to my Santa array, scroll down, and feel left out because he wasn't properly represented--especially when, for many years, Mr, A .drew his own delightful custom Christmas cards, which he sent off to friends.

Well, I knew exactly what I had to do--I had to go downstairs and root around in some boxes that hadn't seen the light of day in years and years, hoping to find at least one of Terry's charming holiday cartoons.

It took awhile, but after a few false starts, I stumbled across two shoe boxes chock full of goodies, some dating back over twenty years! Yeah, Terry's cards were in there alright--and so was one featuring Dave Sim's Cerebus decked out as ol' Kris Kringle! There were also several beautiful Clauses by Cruse--Howard, that is. My gosh, there was all KINDS of cool stuff! Yow! And so, back to the scanner I dutifully went, and the head total just climbed and climbed...

Overkill you say? Probably, but hey, isn't that what this time of year is all about? Some people eat too much during the holidays, some folks spend too much money--me, I decapitate way too many Santas! Hey, in my defense, all I can say is, it's cheaper and less-fattening, dig?

So, go on over and check things out! I hope you enjoy it!

(That's right Terry--I sent you an email to come on over and check out my blog so I could then send you on over to another site--WHERE YOU'LL FIND A LINK BACK TO MY SITE!?! Ain't the Internet grand?...)
December 13th, 2006
I was saddened to hear about the passing of Martin Nodell several days back.

Although I never had the opportunity to meet the man, I was well aware that he appeared regularly at various comics conventions over the past decade or so, and all reports indicate that he--and his late wife--were universally beloved.

Outside of a mere single story, I've afraid I've never really read any of Martin Nodell's work, either, but inasmuch as that lone tale was the origin of Green Lantern--a character he created out of whole cloth--you'd have to agree: I sure picked a fairly notable one, huh?

Yup, I'm sorry he's no longer with us, but considering he not only dreamt up such an iconic, nigh immortal character--AND lived to the ripe old age of 91, basking in the unfettered appreciation of his many fans during the final years of his life--you've gotta admit--most of us would be delighted to go out on as high a note!

Rest easy, Mr. N..
December 10th, 2006
For me, The Golden Age of Jack Kirby was the early sixties, pretty much everything he did for the gloriously ascending Marvel Comics group, up to and including FANTASTIC FOUR #40. The next sixty issues weren't bad either, but in many ways, it's all a matter of the age you're first exposed to Jack's (or anybody else's) art that makes its greatest impression on you. For me, it was his bountiful array of 1962-1965 pages. By the time 1970 rolled around, I'd pretty much seen it all (or so I believed in my ever so finite teenage wisdom), so when the King fled the Land of Stan for the once mighty realm of DC, I was never quite as enchanted by what he produced there. And in recent years, while I've taken great personal pleasure in redoing dozens of Mr. K's covers from that beloved early sixties era as commissions, I've rarely been called upon to reinterpret anything from his seventies canon.

Well, that all changed recently when collector Brian Hayes contacted me about scrawling out my own peculiar versions of two notable debut issue covers:


(And yes, you can use the above links to see how they came out--and here's a bonus link to Brian's blog that'll tell you a little bit more about them as well as some other pretty special, non-Hembeck, pieces of art!)

I bring this all up today for a number of reasons. The most innocent of which is to provide you with something that's hopefully fun to look at (I'll admit it--I liked the way they came out).

A motivation of decidedly lesser innocence is my sneaky desire to entice some of you out there to engage me in commissioning the cover of your choice! And lastly, I'd like to take this opportunity to once again remind prospective buyers that, come February 1st, 2007, I'm raising my fee for cover redos an additional $25--get them now while they're still cheap, folks! (Actually, even at the increased price, they'll, ahem, remain a bargain--but now and for the next month and a half, they'll be an even BETTER one!)

All necessary financial details can be found over on my Sales page.

I'm happy to report that currently I'm completely caught up on my commissions, and thus eagerly await new challenges! (Although, ironically, just yesterday, for the first time in a decade of doing these redos, I had to politely turn a customer down. Why? Well, he wanted me to do my version of Alex Ross's wraparound cover for the recent CRISIS trade paperback--which I don't own incidentally--but just looking at this link to it made my head want to explode!)

So, if anybody out there has something a bit more, um, manageable for me to take on, drop me a line, okay? (Y'know, for some reason, THE DINGBATS OF DANGER STREET#1 comes immediately to mind!...)
December 9th, 2006
Last night, Lynn, Julie and I attended a performance of "Macbeth" at my daughter's high school.

No, Julie wasn't involved in the production in any way, but she had friends that were. And, in what is fast becoming a holiday tradition, this was our third annual trip to see a Shakespeare play performed by minors (as opposed to that Bard-fest down in Pittsburgh, put on by miners...). Two years ago it was "A Midsummer Night's Dream", last December "Measure For Measure", and now this. one of Willy The Shakes most famed tragedies.
Would it surprise many of you if I confessed that these were the ONLY three productions of Shakespeare I've ever seen?

No? Well, then, I guess you've got ME pegged--I haven't caught any of the many other stage productions, movies, television adaptations, or even Classic Illustrated versions of these otherwise immortal works.


I've always had trouble with the lingo, mainly. Even last night--half the time, i knew what was going on, and the other half? Yeesh, the characters were speaking in that wacky Olde English phraseology that--pardon me--I just plain don't grok. I had to come home and read the synopsis on Wikipedia-- "Oh, so THAT'S what happened! I thought it was murder mystery--NOW I get it!" Next year, I'm gonna know better and read Wikipedia first ("Aw geez, and here I was, really hoping Romeo and his gal pal were gonna live happily ever after...").

Besides being one of his most famous works, "Macbeth" features a bounty of the Bard's most oft quoted lines, ones even I'VE heard of : "Double double toil and trouble", the one about sound and fury signifying nothing, and (inspired no doubt by a barking dog sitting at his bedside one dark and stormy evening) "Out damn Spot!" But as soon as I saw the name "Macduff" in the program, I instinctively knew that the phrase, "Lead on Macduff" must've sprung from this play, so for the rest of the evening, I sat nearly on edge of my seat, waiting for those three magical words to be spoken (not unlike when "Arnold Schwartzenegger" shows up on Conan O'Brian's closed circuit television screen, and I sit in equally eager anticipation, wondering just HOW they're going to work in a plug for Arnold's "all-time holiday classic, "Jingle All the Way"!" THIS time!!"...).

Finally, with less than five minutes to go, Macbeth himself (played, in a Bizarro World fashion--compared to the author's original era--by a female) utters the phrase that pays! Yahoo! And shortly thereafter (spoiler warning!) Macduff brandishes the severed head of good ol' Macbeth! Lead on THIS, buddy boy!

Inevitably, the young cast does an amazing job each year--i couldn't even begin to contemplate committing such massive amounts of dialog to memory, getting out on a stage, and then delivering it with any sort of emotion, but these kids do, year after year. I just wish I UNDERSTOOD what was going on a mite bit better.

Maybe if I'd plunked down my pennies for that Classics Illustrated with the floating dagger on the cover instead of the comic with the cavemen on skis, flying down at a stunned group of Blackhawks, back when I was growing up, I might've had an easier go of things--but hey, how could Shakespeare BEGIN to compete with scientifically enhanced homicidal Neanderthals, huh?....

(Or was that maybe lifted from a scene in "As You Like It"?..)
December 7th, 2006
Wow--has it been a whole week since I posted anything here? Huh--looks that way. Hey, it happens...

Well, this particular entry isn't exactly gonna break any records for volume, but it WILL lead you to the 83rd episode of The Fred Hembeck Show! And this week we're happy to offer you an all-new review of The Beatles latest release, the "Love" soundtrack/compilation/mash-up. And even if you're not a Fabs fancier, I suggest you take a look cuz the piece also includes a never-before-seen Batman cover featuring the four lads from Liverpool! Jolly what!

Bye for now!

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