Archive - June 2005
Contact Fred Links-a-Plenty!
Who Fred?
June 30th, 2005
Who knew?

Who knew the folks at TV GUIDE were such big comic book fans?

Five different covers on next week's edition, each spotlighting various members of the Fantastic Four (and Doc Doom, just for bad measure), probably shouldn't come as much of a shock, what with the (possible?) blockbuster film looming, but this salute to Marvel's founding fathers DID surprise me, coming as it did on the heels of THIS week's nod to one of DC Comic's darkest eras.

No, I'm not referring to the "Dynamic Duos" blurb on their quartet of NASCAR covers--EVERYONE uses that phrase.

Look closer.

Look up on the top...
Man, who'da ever thought those race car guys would steal one of DC's lamest promotional ideas and try making it their own? Takes all kinds, I guess...

(Oh, and for those of you interested, John Firehammer's illo-riffic This Is Pop site has ALL the FF covers up and available for your perusal. Lucky me--as a subscriber to the magazine, I wound up with the one I would've been LEAST likely to have picked up if I'd bought it at the grocery store myself (save for maybe the Doom cover--and why wasn't there a sixth cover with the ENTIRE gang together, huh?...).

Still, this way it cost me but a quarter, and at the local Stop and Shop, $.2.49. Flame On? Rip Off...

The World's Greatest Bargain? Not quite, but it'll do, it'll do...
June 29th, 2005
Face Front, True Believer,for a quick overview of the evolution of Marvel Comics' house ads, the topic of the 16th pulse-pounding episode of The Fred Hembeck Show!!

Also at IGN Comics, Peter Sanderson's latest Comics In Context, number 90 (geez, I'm way, WAY behind, ain't I?...). Among the topics covered: Richard Donner's--NOT Lester's--"Superman Two"!

Several readers have pointed out that Scott Shaw's latest Oddball Comics column, number 1074 (Yipes--now I'm REALLY feeling small!?!), focus's on BORN AGAIN, the story of Watergate figure Chuck Colson, during the course of which, a detailed bio of artist Al Hartley is included, relevant around these parts due to its mention of PUSSYCAT, the subject of a recent--and inordinately popular--episode of The Fred Hembeck Show. (Comics fans seem to be fond of strips with busty gals wearing minimal clothing--huh. Who knew?...)

Roger Green, Jeopardy, part 5--including links to the show's official website, featuring actual photos of the author on set with Alex Trebek!

Here's a new one on me: Link Machine Go! Which pretty much describes it all, but be careful--once you settle in, you might be in front of your screen for awhile...

Tony's Online Tips is (are?) spotlighting Superman all this month, and after the razzing I gave the Big Guy yesterday, well, I think it only fair I point you all towards a little positive publicity for the Kryptonian, y'know? Take a look.

That's all for now!
June 28th, 2005
I just finished reading--no, make that savoring--the first of what I hope will be many editions of DC's reprinting of the seminal Mort Weisinger Superman Family Universe, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW ARCHIVES, Volume One.

Even though the demarcation point for the Silver Age Superman now commences with the lead story in ACTION COMICS #241 (June, 1958), and I didn't hop aboard until nearly three years later, in the late spring of 1961, I was mildly surprised at the number of stories included in this collection that I was already familiar with, due to editor Mort's enthusiastic reprinting of his early triumphs in the ever expanding series of ANNUAL collections that debuted just months before I came upon the scene.
Why, even the book's initial offering--"The Super-Key To Fort Superman", featuring the debut of the Fortress of Solitude--was long familiar to me as the final tale in the first SUPERMAN ANNUAL. But the odd thing was, even though many of the selections in this particular Archive struck a distinctly nostalgic chord merely from perusing the table of contents page and seeing their titles alone, I was surprised, in actually READING these stories, how much about them I'd forgotten over the years (as opposed to the early Marvel episodes from roughly the same time period, the smallest plot points of which have burned themselves indelibly into my long-term memory). Probably because, as I've been saying over and over for years now, a lot of these Weisinger helmed escapades are just plain silly! After a certain age--maybe 11?--that WASN'T a good thing, so I just put these books aside, only to discover that, decades later, as an adult (or what passes for one, but why quibble about semantics?...), they're entertaining as all get out!!

No, this isn't going to be a review, just a few comments on a few of the things I came across while immersing myself in this emerging Superverse. Like, for instance, this filler panel, wherein our hero shows reporter Lois Lane just some of the "amazing marvels" he keeps in his private Fortress...
C'mon--do you think he REALLY needs a set of oversized tools to build something big? And why would he be in a hurry anyway? Ah, it's the inane details like this that I savor so--you got a problem with that, buddy?

(This story--"The Shrinking Superman" from ACTION COMICS #245, one I'd never come across before--just gets sillier when, leaving the girl reporter alone briefly in his Fortress, Lois accidentally knocks over the bottle city of Kandor, and discovers that--PHEW!!-- it didn't break, just cracked a little, thus conveniently allowing a Kryptonian criminal out the teeny tiny fissure and loose on Earth! Eventually, even Mort must've realized how goofy this turn of events was, as I don't ever recall the bottle city ever being handled so casually again...)
See that cover?

Not only is it one of the greatest, most iconic illustrations of the Silver Age, it also sports perhaps the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the comics buying public back in 1963, as the contents of this special anniversary collection clearly WASN'T "The greatest Superman stories published during the last 25 years"!! Heck, they weren't even the greatest ones published in the previous five, which is about as far back as Weisinger cared to dip. He'd already mined the cream for the first six ANNUALS. This Archive clearly reminded me of that fact, as two of episodes cover featured on Curt Swan's memorable montage resided within, only to disappoint all over again...
"Superman In The White House" is nothing more than Jimmy Olsen fantasizing out loud to co-worker Clark Kent what life would be like if the Man of Steel were elected President, only to have the wink-prone Kent stomp all over the cub reporter's pipe dream by delivering the episode's punch-line: Superman could never become Chief Executive of the good ol' U. S. of A. because he's not a native-born American! Governor of California, maybe, but Prez, uh uh...

But the one that REALLY got my attention was "Superman's NEW Power!" (SUPERMAN #125, November 1958). Clearly, this was an instance where Mort had Curt Swan draw up the cover before writer Jerry Coleman had ANY idea what kind of script he was going to give artist Wayne Boring to draw!!

(An aside: though Swan pencils ALL the covers include in this compendium, he only draws but a single story, which is certainly unfortunate. The art is divvied up almost equally between Boring and Al Plastino, with three welcome contributions by Kurt Schaffenberger, and a single book-length job turned in by renowned Bat-artist Dick Sprang. Boring's portrayal of the Kryptonian always struck me as a bit...strange. He looked so stern, somehow, with that furrowed brow and Leno-like chin. And that body of his made a marble statue look flexible by comparison! Please--DON'T get me started on how Boring portrayed the Big Guy flying by having him walk nonchalantly upright through the air!?! Yet, in small doses, I always found his work charming, if hardly preferable to Curt and Kurt. Al Plastino, well, him I just never cared for all that much, honestly...)

Anyway, when we finally find out WHAT it is that comes out of our hero's fingers four pages into the story--a dubious effort at keeping us in suspense is made over the first three--we discover that it's just a doll-sized replica of our star, one that manifests all of his powers, allowing Superman merely to point and stand by as the little guy does all the hard work.

(This new ability came about due to Superman coming into contact with a long buried ancient space ship while boring through layers of subterranean rock to quell a disturbance at the very core of the Earth. Hey, it COULD happen, y'know?...)

At first, Supes seems to enjoy this quirky new ability, but after awhile, noticing how the public has suddenly taken to his tiny doppelganger ("That midget is cute!"), the full-sized version begins to feel unappreciated and jealous. And when the mini-Man of Steel starts to do things on his--its?--own initiative, our troubled protagonist begins to slowly but surely turn toward the dark side...
"And if the Kryptonite should destroy him--well, that's HIS tough luck!"

Superman's new power--the ability to act as bitterly and as mean-spirited as any other denizen of his adopted homeworld!! Understand, please, that the little guy didn't do anything at all to warrant a death sentence from his petty host!

As it turns out, HE doesn't meet his doom in this particular instance, but later sacrifices himself to save the life of the man who, just a page earlier, sent him off to his probable demise, thinking "Well, that's HIS tough luck!"

Geez, what a quote! That ones gonna stick with me for a LONG while, lemme tell ya!
As for THIS decidedly MAD moment, well--

No, no, I'm just too tired to go any further. Dig deep and buy this book, why don'tcha? With all the strum and drang in today's comics, this collection will provide you with some much needed relief--sorta like "The Lighter Side of Superman", if you will!

(AND the "Bitter" and "Petty Sides", too--they're ALL there!..)
June 27th, 2005
Woulda, coulda, shoulda...

This past weekend, the Mets and the Yankees played their second--and barring some unlikely post-season miracle(s), their last--round of the so-called Subway Series for 2005 in the House Ruth Built. If not for some poor relief pitching from several--but not all--members of their bullpen, the Mets would've swept the $200 million dollar Bronx Bombers on their home turf, and in fact, held the lead all through out last night's third contest until closer Braden Looper--who was far from sooper--surrendered two decisive runs to the pin-striped opponents in the bottom of the ninth.


Well, here's your back-page tabloid review of the series (except for the third game, which the Post felt important enough to warrant front page privileges...)
The Mets played a real crisp, aggressive brand of ball in this series, but the press focus, as always, was on the Yankees, who made bumbling mistake after mistake, including several glaring ones in the game they eventually won. Ah well, such is life in New York. The Yankees record of 38-37 is just plain more newsworthy than the Mets record of 37-38. Oh, but for that one final inning there, the records would've been reversed! Still, two out of three at Yankee Stadium ain't nothin' to sneeze at--the season's overall Subway match-up finishing up at an acceptable 3-3--and now it's on to some even more important face-offs against their direct National League East competitors!

As ever, I say, let's go Mets!
June 26th, 2005
Growing up, I was too young to enjoy anything but the final fading days of Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody--and by the time Sesame Street revolutionized children's programming, I was well into my teenage years and just didn't care to be bothered. But living within the broadcast range of several NYC stations back in those early sixties years more than compensated.

After all, we had Officer Joe Bolton, Captain Jack McCarthy, Sonny Fox, Sandy Becker, Chuck McCann, Soupy Sales, and that man of multiple personas, Paul Winchell.
I was saddened to read earlier today about the passing of Paul Winchell--and by extension, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, too. To this day, I can still vividly recall the singsongy tune to the theme of "It's Winchell Mahoney Time", one of my elementary school era's late afternoons most delightful treats. True, I never became a rabid devotee of the celebrated ventriloquist the way I did of a certain Mr. Sales, but that surely didn't mean I wasn't suitably appreciative of Mr.Winchell--and his pine-based partners--always entertaining antics.

He did a whole lot more than just regularly drink a glass of water while a wooden figurine smart-mouthed him while sitting on his lap--try inventing the artificial heart, for starters!--but for what it's worth, that's the way I'll always remember him.

Thanks for all the laughs, Paul, Jerry, and Knuck! You'll all be missed.

(For more on Paul Winchell, Mark Evanier provides some overall background here, and a few personal anecdotes here. An extensive overview of the NYC kiddie hosts can be found at TVParty here (thanks to reader Rob Allen for the tip).)
June 25th, 2005
While I do my level best to adhere to one of the key tenets of Sassaman's Rules Of The Internet--never blog about not having time to blog--I also labor under the Hembeck Compulsion of Daily Posting, so rather than tell you it's really, really hot today, and I'm just too tired to work up much enthusiasm to sit in front of the keyboard and pound away, let me instead take this opportunity to point everyone towards the latest installment of "Addicted To Comics"!

In this exciting episode, we not only learn the marginally secret origin of Jim (formerly James) Salicrup, but we then leap wildly ahead several decades to discover how Jim became Stan Lee's Evil Clone! As behind-the-scenes stories go, it's a great one, and I urge any of you interested in Tales of the Marvel Bullpen to hasten on over there! And, as as someone who's heard Jim do his Stan impression on many an occasion, I assure you, he's not exaggerating at his Rich Little-like prowess, however laser specific it may be! (And if I ever get off my duff and write up my Con report from last week, I'll tell you all about trolling the dealer's room with an EXTREMELY budgeted Salicrup!!...)

And quickly, let me offer my congrats to Greg and Krys Burgas on the birth of their second child, Norah! Hard to say for sure, but I'm thinking, this little girl just may grow up to be a future Prime Minister of England--or at least, take a liking to cigars! Blood, sweat, and--well, you KNOW the rest, Mr. and Mrs.Burgas! Get the diapers ready! Good luck to all!
June 24th, 2005
The Internet never fails to amaze me.

Some of you may recall the piece I wrote back on June 6th of this month about taking daughter Julie and her friend Courtney to an all-day, outdoor rock show. Let me again share with you, for the purposes of today's posting, the key paragraph of that entry:

After running through most of the acts on the bill surprisingly fast, the pace came a virtual standstill, and we had to wait nearly an hour before Good Charlotte hit the stage at 5:45 (and suffer a magician who seemed to've been yanked straight off of MTV's "Jackass", as he specialized in eating lightbulbs, drinking Windex, lying on nails, and lifting stuff with lines secured to fish hooks impaled through his eye sockets! Yecch. Even though I was as far away from the stage as you could get, still they showed these questionable antics on the large stadium video screen. I mostly didn't look, but still: yecch...)

Okay, you got that?

Then, yesterday, the following email arrives...

I was skimming through the web and came across your site. I noticed that you had gone to the K-Fest 11 show. I was the "magician" that performed that day. Just so you know the stunts that I performed were no magic tricks or illusions. I spent the better part of my life training and studying the human anatomy, physics, and other applied sciences so that I am able to perform those stunts. The only part of your statement that I take issue with is that you compared me to the untrained, untalented people from Jackass. I am also a magician/illusionist, but the effects I performed at that show were not. Just wanted to let you know that not everyone who do things that you don't particularly like or understand are that inept. If you like you can click on my link below to view my site and my credentials. By the way, I like your art very much, I am a big fan of retro art. But I thank you for at least mentioning me on your site..LOL, have a great day.

John Shaw

John Shaw's Pandemonium Midnight Sideshow

Oh boy...

It was a long, hot day. I was getting cranky and ever more anxious for it to end. I knew it would when the headliners finally played their set, but before Good Charlotte could take the stage, the folks at K-Fest sprung an unadvertised illusionist on us. I wasn't happy. I wanted out--I wanted out BAD--but now there was yet another obstacle between me and the ever more desired exits.

My first thought was, "A magician? Are they crazy?" Y'see, the year before, I'd seen a comedian take the stage mid-way through the day's entertainment, and he had to cut his act short since he was practically booed off the stage. And that wasn't merely minutes before the featured act--whom the hot, slavering crowd out on the outfield grass clearly wanted to see in the worst way--was about to close the show. I honestly didn't pay much attention, sitting out in the seats behind home plate, far from the stage a ways off in center field, but I fully expected the music devotees to get restless if not downright angry at this turn of events.

Didn't happen. Glimpsing up at the big video screen occasionally, I watched with a modicum of surprise as the performer--John Shaw, as we all now know--handily managed to keep the attention of a potentially unruly audience, and while the sort of act he was performing didn't appeal to me overmuch (though I'll admit it probably would've when I was younger, or even if it hadn't come at the end of a long, looong day), I had to admire his ability to keep the crowd happy under those trying circumstances.

But of course, I didn't write all that the first time through. A few quick cheap comments, and on to the next part of the overview. Because, y'know, the very last thing that would've ever occurred to me as I sat in the stands that day, watching as the guy on stage did all sort of peculiar things to himself was, "Gee, I think I'll go home, post a few words about the oddball things that character up on the stage is doing--and then, naturally, a few weeks later, he's gonna email me!"

Yup. Sure. Why not? So why am I so surprised? Why should the mind be at all boggled at this? Hey--now, I'm just waiting on the inevitable message from Good Charlotte, y'know?..

(Let me, however, offer up my apology regarding the misguided "Jackass" analogy. That was a show I never actually watched--which, given my previous comments, shouldn't come as much of a surprise, I suppose--but the comparison seemed to make sense at the time. I can see now where it went off the tracks. My oops.)

One other thing I'd failed to mention earlier was the fact that our magician friend was promoting his then upcoming appearance on NBC's "Average Joe" program, which was all set to have its season premiere this past Tuesday night.

Only, it didn't.

It was pushed back a week to instead facilitate the broadcast of Katie Couric's exclusive interview with The Runaway Bride--meaning that, yup, John Shaw was yet another victim of Jennifer Willbanks!

But maybe--just maybe--this unlikely connection has shed a little glimmer of light on a still unexplained aspect of the Flee-ance's gestalt. Maybe, like John, she favors the fish-hooks-under-the-eyes-lifting-exercise, accounting for her rather, um, distinct look!!

(And if Ms. Willbanks winds up Googling her own googly self, and somehow winds up here, ready to chastise me for the admittedly lame gag, well, I'm just gonna take my blog and go home!! But meanwhile, pour yourself a tall, cool--and soapy--glass of Windex, and join me in checking out the Pandemonium Midnight Sideshow, won't you? It's just SO much more relaxing doing so from the comfort of one's own home, y'know?..)
June 23rd. 2005
The past two years on this date, I've regaled you all with tales of the magical union between myself and the wondrous Lynn Moss, since today, June 23rd, is our Wedding Anniversary. Last year in particular, this blog went into high self-indulgent mode due to our achieving the always significant 25th Anniversary. Having overdone things a bit last time around, I figured it best to play it low-key this year, and not make such a fuss. I'd mark the occasion, sure--although frankly, I wasn't quite certain HOW.

I needn't have worried. My buddy Roger Green did it for me.

Scooped! Scooped on my own Anniversary!?! Who'da thought it? Guess I shoulda posted around midnight instead of noon, huh? Well, in any event, thanks for the sentiments, Rog--even if you DID title your entry "Poor Lynn Moss"!?!

We don't title our blog entries around here, but if we did, this one would HAVE to be called "Lucky Fred Hembeck"!!

Happy 26th Anniversary, sweetie! Here's to 26 more!

(Or at least 24--50 is such a nice round number, y'know...)
June 22nd, 2005
It's my newest old comic!

This, um, slightly worn 1960 copy of LITTLE DOT was one of four books that I bought at the recent Big Apple Con (details a'plenty to follow in a few days, once I get myself a couple of free moments, promise). I don't usually buy ancient books like this, but that striking cover just caught my eye, despite the, ah, slight water damage.

The price? A buck. Yeah, sounds like a good deal, but think about it--it's STILL ten times the cover price, y'know!

It's not like I'm cheap or anything, people. Heck, I was willing to go up to fifteen times the original purchase price for this little gem, so obviously, money was no object.

Unless of course we got into the one sixty range--then it'd be time to rein in this madness! Hey, I ain't Donald Trump--no matter WHAT my hair looks like in the morning!....
June 21st, 2005
Today at IGN Comics: "Barks Like A Duck", Episode 15 of The Fred Hembeck Show.

Also, Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context #89--Batman Reboots: Batting Batman Begins.

Roger Green's Jeopardy Saga, Part 4.

And WHO created Omega The Unknown? Well, I know it wasn't ME...
June 20th, 2005
There's this story about Brian Wilson that's stuck in my head ever since I first read it a few years back. I don't recall all the specifics, but the main thrust concerned the troubled genius during that long fallow period when he wasn't actively producing new music.

By then, his prodigious Beach Boys output had earned him the awe and respect of virtually every other contemporary composer attempting to cobble together a tune. Understandably, given the opportunity, many songwriters, whether beginners or established veterans, were eager for an audience with the great man, no doubt hoping to learn something merely from watching him go about his business.

The story I'm thinking of had the lead singer/head writer of a very successful group excitedly being ushered into Wilson's home, with the hope of absorbing some of the master's tricks. But instead of discussing the making of "Pet Sounds" or watching the composer break down the aural components of "The Warmth Of The Sun", Wilson had his latest guest do what he apparently had ALL would-be disciples do when they visited him in his own peculiar kingdom:

Sit down at the piano next to him, and then proceed to accompany the erstwhile Beach Boy on seemingly endless duets of "Shortenin" Bread"!!

That's right--"Shortenin' Bread". You know--as in "Momma's little baby loves shortenin' shortenin', mama's little baby loves shortenin' bread"?

These visits generally ended with the supporting vocalist hastily fleeing the premises not long after reaching the stunned realization of just how these afternoons were destined to play out!

This story always makes me laugh, however ruefully. The good news is, Brian's better these days, much better.

Fact is, he turns 63 today, just two days after his spiritual British twin brother, Paul McCartney did likewise. And while you may well think this is a somewhat inappropriate anecdote to celebrate such a happy occasion, I respectfully disagree. There's a thin line between madness and genius, they say, and while sitting in front of the ivories, banging away relentlessly at "Shortenin Bread" might SOUND crazy to some, I prefer to think of it merely as a lovable eccentricity, y'know?

So today, instead of "California Girls", "Don't Worry Baby", or even the risen-from-the-dead "SMiLE" project, I'm digging out The Beach Boys 1979 recording, "L.A. (Light Album), and plan to play the LP's last track over and over and over again.

Yup. At that point in time, the band was so desperate to have ANY input from their one-time guru, they even let him slap "Shortenin Bread" on their disc!

(In case you're wondering, "This Old Man" was later covered not by Brian but by Bob Dylan--but friends, that's a whole 'NOTHER kettle of fish!...)
June 19th, 2005
Best of the day, to all you dads out there!

Short entry today--I'm still recovering from the fabulous time I had at the Big Apple Con yesterday. Starting on Tuesday, I'll be sharing all sorts of stories with you folks (and don't skip Monday--there's something of a more timely nature planned for the 20th...), so fasten your seat belts, and get ready for that!...

The short essay I did on Marvel's PUSSYCAT comic earlier this week (posted over at my corner of the IGN Comics website) brought forth quite a reaction from you readers, which I suppose shouldn't surprise me--dads and would be dads alike LOVE Pussycat! One of the first responses that came in was from Steven Thompson, who tipped me off to the fact that, way back in 1989, he had an article published the 172nd issue of Fantagraphics' AMAZING HEROES magazine detailing the history of the scantily clad spyette.

I thanked Steven for the info, went downstairs, rifled through my collection of AHs, and grabbed the designated issue. After reading his nicely done overview of the scarce, soft-core compilation of Goodman-owned girlie strips, I paged through the rest of the issue out of idle curiosity.

I found the illustration below in the letters section of the magazine...
The irony here?

That's Marvel's Tigra (formerly The Cat), one-time member of the Avengers, as drawn by Kevin Taylor, who went on to make his mark in the years that followed with explicit material like his XXX-rated series, THE GIRL, just the sort of comics I was thinking of when I pointed out in my piece that there's stuff out there nowadays that clearly makes PUSSYCAT seem decidedly quaint!

And so here's Taylor, offering his sexy--but family friendly--take on yet ANOTHER Marvel feline! It's almost like the norm had been given the ol' 180 spin!

A Kevin Taylor led revival of PUSSYCAT? The mind boggles...
June 18th, 2005
Break out the candles!

I'm spending Paul McCartney's birthday attending the Big Apple Con in NYC with my buddy, Rocco Nigro, but I DID find a few moments to wish the ex-Wings frontsman a happy birthday, and you can see that greeting by going here.

Haveta run--I got me a train to catch! (Gee, ya don't think Ringo might turn up as Mr. Conductor, do ya?...)
June 17th, 2005
THIS is why I never bought a copy of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED--
Look, I could enjoy Mr. Mxytptlk in small doses, I put up with the occasional Bat-Mite appearance, and I even grew to tolerate Zook once he signed up as J'onn J'onnz's sidekick, but THIS guy I just could not take! Sorry.

His name was Cryll, and he came along, part and parcel, as an unavoidable ingrediant of the "Space Ranger" series that headlined the aforementioned title. And just what kind of a name was "Space Ranger", anyway? Can you get any more generic than that, I wonder? It's akin to calling a super-hero character, "Super Hero", and just about as interesting...

Looking back, it's odd that I'd take such a pronounced dislike of a character, but apparently a quick look at a few TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED comics brought to my second grade class by Chucky--the kid who got me hooked on the legion of long underwear wearing do-gooders in the first place--was enough to sour me forever on the series. While I had no trouble with artist Bob Brown's work on CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN and other books, something about the goofy extraterrestrial landscapes found in the "Space Ranger" series--with their vibrant primary colors and pasty geometric shapes--just seemed all wrong.

And then there was that pink abomination!

It was the only discretion I ever demonstrated when buying comics as a kid, but I stuck to it--no TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED for me! At least, not until they put a nifty Neal Adams illo on the cover!!

(Just to undercut most of the above, I'll admit that I DID wind up buying several contemporary Space Ranger appearances circa 1964 when he began sharing MYSTERY IN SPACE with Adam Strange. Of course, this was after the big trade-off with Julie Schwartz, with Rann's champion now under the decidedly less entertaining guidance of Jack Schiff's crew. I stuck around for a few issues, mostly out of loyalty and an appreciation of new penciller Lee Elias's art (but losing the fin bedecked helmet was a BIG mistake), so I put up with Cryll and friend's presence, though not for long. The "New Look" MYSTERY IN SPACE was soon off my buying list.

That is, until "Ultra The Multi-Alien" debuted (TOLD ya I rarely used any discretion!...)--but that's a whole OTHER story...
Changing gears, a few days back, I spoke a little about a story that appeared in an issue of an old Atlas title, TALES OF JUSTICE, and I attempted to identify the tale's artist by what I assumed was a signature. Correspondent Rob Allen had his own concerns about the situation, and, well, I'll let him explain it. Rob?...

I took the question of the artist on that story, "The Man Who Quit",
from Tales of Justice #57, to the timely-atlas list, which is a really
good group of fan/scholars devoted to the works of Martin Goodman, Stan
Lee, et al.
I got a reply from Frank Motler, one of the leading members
of the group. He checked his copy of the comic, and he says the story
was drawn by George Tuska, and that the names "Artie" and "Mamie" are
shown scratched into a school desk. They're just part of the background.
So, unfortunately, the comic book career of Artie Mamie turns out to be
a short one.
Thanks, Rob. That clears up THAT little mystery! All these years, I actually thought there had been an artist with that name, even though "Mamie" seemed to be mighty odd sounding last name. Hey, to be fair, I DID say "Artie" drew in a very George Tuska-ish manner, and you sure can't get any more Tuska-ish than George Tuska himself, now can you? Have I got myself an eye, or what?...
A few quick links before I wrap things up. We had a nasty thunderstorm this afternoon, and the power was off nearly five hours, demonstrating once again just how boring life is without electricity! Thus, I'm a little behind in my self-imposed schedule, so excuse me if these are quick

My favorite substitute teacher, Greg Burgas, has a new column over at Buzzscope, (also home of the celebrated Jim Salicrup),"Comics You Should Own", the first installment of which tries to sell you AUTOMATIC KAFKA, so go read, and then dig deep--these funny books ain't free, y'know!!:

Bill Sherman's brand new "Off The Shelves" column is only the latest evidence of a blogger falling under the sway of the New Comic Book Galaxy--is there no stopping Alan David Doane?

Noah Smith doesn't write about comics often enough, but you might want to read his nicely reasoned piece on the appeal of Batman (and no, it's NOT a movie review--more of a prep piece)

And speaking of the grim and gritty one, leave it to the malevolent force known as SUPERFRANKENSTEIN to uncover the Caped Crusader's most shocking secret of all! Holy S#*%, Batman!...
June 16th, 2005
Between 1961 and 1967--if you take the romance books out of the equation--I can honestly say I bought at least an occasional issue of EVERY title DC Comics published (the Julie Schwartz edited super-hero books devotedly, same for Weisinger's Superman Family , the Kanigher war books on and off, and stuff like HOUSE OF MYSTERY, SEA DEVILS, SUGAR AND SPIKE, TOMAHAWK, and MY GREATEST ADVENTURE sporadically, depending on the current contents), with but a single exception.

Until October 12th 1967, I'd never, ever purchased a copy of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED.

That all changed when I saw this cover...
Yup, I'm a day late and a dollar short, I know it, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Neal Adams! Because of you, I shelled out twelve cents for this miserable comic, and while it was proof yet again never to judge a book by its cover, for once, the cover alone was worth it!

Many folks are celebrating the occasion by sharing their favorite Adams covers, such as the ever estimable Johnny Bacardi, but I thought I'd throw the spotlight on a pair of unjustly overlooked covers that Neal did for DC during his earliest days under their employ, the second found on the otherwise undistinguished issue of SUPERBOY pictured below (which, oddly enough, was ALSO bought on October 12th of 1967--being back in those days when I felt the inexplicable need to write the date purchased on my funny books, apparently so as to provide me this barely interesting little aside nearly four decades hence. Yeah, that's GOTTA be it...)
Note that both drawings utilize highlights in the coloring of the figures, which for the time, was an unusual--and very striking--technique, most likely something Neal initiated himself. Beyond that, each composition is far bolder than DC's norm of the day.

And as a bit of an added curiosity, there's the short-lived combination of the man who defined the look of DC Comics covers for the previous decade plus, letterer and logo designer, Ira Schnapp, and the man whose comparatively radical illustrative approach finally ushered the firm out of the fifties, if only seven or so years late, birthday boy Adams. This clash of new versus old has always fascinated me, and I've long wondered what exactly happened to Schnapp, as he disappears from the covers entirely by the middle of 1968, as the more modern styles of Gaspar Saladino, John Costanza, and others take over what had once been Schnapp's sole province for all the years I had been reading DC Comics--was he eased out against his will by new Editorial Director, Carmine Infantino, in an effort to change the signature look of the line, did he retire on his own, or did he, um, pass away? Whichever it was, I treasure the limited body of work Adams and Schnapp produced together, a pairing which works for me on so many levels.

Anyway, happy belated B-day, Mr. A, and here's to many more!

(As to WHY I'd never bought an issue of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED before this, well, let's just save that little tale of the unexplained for tomorrow, shall we? See you then!)
June 15th, 2005
You see before you, friends, a panel that appeared in an oft overlooked Marvel publication during the (when else?) swinging sixties.

Curious? Want to (you should pardon the expression) see more? Then you'll just have to tune into the 14th, PG-rated (for "Purty Gurls") episode of "The Fred Hembeck Show"! That's where we'll answer the nigh immortal query, "What's OLD, Pussycat?"...
And while you're over at the IGN Comics website, know what ELSE you should do? That's right--read Peter Sanderson's latest edition of "Comics In Context", as friend Peter (who I'm looking forward to seeing when I make a rare venture out into the light this upcoming Saturday to attend the Big Apple Comic Con in NYC--if you see a mole-like individual skulking around the dealer's room, that'd most likely be me. Don't be shy--come over and say "Hi!") once again delves into BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE! Me, I'll do the same, eventually, but my plan is to read them all in a single sitting. So, later for that.

Roger Green, Chapter Three.

What is the latest installment of my good buddy's recounting his tenure on "Jeopardy", Alex?

That is correct!

A note for those of you who arrive here via the Comics Weblog Update, be advised that for reasons I don't quite understand yet, I've been unable to get on the listing recently, and it may take me a few days to iron this glitch out. In the meantime, odds are I'll compulsively be posting something here in the days ahead in any event, so, do us ALL a favor and check even if you don't see "Fred Sez" turn up on the roll call, okay?

Much obliged!
June 14th, 2005
Okay, I realize that tabloid cover's over a week old now, but the cruelly concise manner in which Rupert Murdoch's minions caught the national mood on the eve of jury deliberations remains timeless, if decidedly crass.

(Besides, while it was my initial notion to pair the mirror-like front pages of both the NY Post and the Daily News here, I woke up this morning to discover that the evil geniuses over at SUPERFRANKENSTEIN had already done just that. So, to show there's no hard feelings for reading my mind without a warrant, here's a link to said page--enjoy! And notice the subtle difference in comma usage--who SAYS all tabloid journalism is alike, huh?...)
As some of you may recall, when this all began 575 days ago, I was taking daughter Julie over to the local Best Buy so that she could purchase her-then idol Jackson's brand new "Ones" CD collection, so I had maybe more of a fascination with the events that followed than most folks. Not so Julie--like I said, she lost interest in Mike midway through this whole ordeal, and in fact, the big thrill of two days ago (she's away on a short trip) was to call and tell me that she'd heard her favorite Pink Floyd number in the car on her way to the beach. Once, a few notes of "Billie Jean" piping out of the dashboard would've gotten her giddy, but no more. Now, she prefers the Dark Side Of The Moonwalk...

Me? Well, I was sitting at the lap top, punching out yesterday's entry on the keys--I'd just gotten past the TALES OF JUSTICE recap, and one paragraph into what was supposed to be the meat of the piece, a look back at Julie's first year at her new school--when I noticed an MSNBC Flash News alert along the bottom of the TV screen, announcing that the Jackson verdict was imminent (since 9/11, it's been my habit to keep MSNBC on during the day, with the sound down at times so that I can play music--like yesterday--but always at the ready if some big story breaks, and while the Jackson trial certainly isn't nearly in the same dreaded ballpark, I admit to having been mesmerized by it at times, so I surely wanted to be front and center for the payoff...).

I soon realized that there'd be no more writing for awhile--too hard to concentrate on what they were saying on the tube while attempting to get what I wanted said down on the blog (unfortunately, the piece was being written directly on this page, which is the way I find myself doing things more often that not these days, so putting it aside would've entailed some fancy computer footwork, ultimately meaning I was committed to completing the topic. When I finally DID get back to it, it was nearly 10 o'clock, and my more expansive vision of the educational overview wound up being severely truncated. Sorry, kid--but it's not every day an MJ verdict comes down, y'know. More like every decade...). I didn't waste my time entirely listening to pundits predict, as I quickly moved on over to the drawing board and inked nearly a full page in the hours leading up to (and after) the verdict. But when Jacko's fate was about to be announced, I put my tools down, and awaited the news with a surprisingly nervous anticipation.

WHY my stomach was bouncing about, I couldn't rightly tell you. I'd had my own period of obsession with the artist, but that was long, long ago, right after "Thriller" was released--and it was, due to over-saturation of that disc, finito by the time his follow-up, "Bad" came out, an album I'd never heard in its entirety until Julie bought a copy of the CD a few years back. Some musicians hold sway over me my entire life, such as my beloved Beatles, and some are just passing phases, good mostly for the occasional spin, like the not-so-beloved former lead singer of the Jackson Five. Even before the child molestation charges of 1993, MJ had gotten WAY too weird for me--which is sure saying something!--but that whole tawdry affair left a bad taste that lingered for years, one that was only compounded by the Martin Bashir documentary (which, ironically, was what had gotten the junior member of this family interested in the perverse performer in the first place--go figure...)

Everyone--MSNBC's Dan Abrams, various court-watchers, even Jackson friends--were predicting the worse. At the very least, a spilt verdict was expected, affording Jackson a sentence of some sort. In my mind, I'd long ago decided that the singer must've been guilty of SOMETHING, and under those circumstances, figured he deserved to suffer SOME punishment. Still, he'd made for a pathetic, pitiful figure in recent weeks, and one could almost imagine him spontaneously combusting into flames should he hear the dreaded word "Guilty' as he stood in court.

I needn't have worried.

The lady with the doves must've had some inside information. Happily releasing one into the air for every "Not Guilty" declaration, it meant that, at the very least, the jury did some good for the wildlife population. For the rest of us, I'm not so sure. Still, from all indications, the jury did their job as prescribed by law--they found reasonable (if far from overwhelming) doubt, so they had no choice but to acquit. A lot of the hindsight criticism points to Tom Sneddon and associates. ("Tom Sneddon is sad man" was the phrase I sang into the phone last night when I spoke with a bemused Julie, whose personal stake in the case had long since evaporated.) They took a fairly simple case, I've heard it said more than once, and made it unduly complicated by piling on extraneous--and hard to prove--charges. And clearly, the accuser's mother did the prosecution no favors. So, much to the surprise of nearly everyone, Michael is home in Neverland tonight, a free man-child.

But Neverland is never going to be the same, is it? With jarring revelations of an abundant thirst for "Jesus juice" (thank you, MJ, for THAT unforgettable little phrase) and an unsettling taste for porn (something that wouldn't effect the credibility of ninety nine percent of today's free-wheeling celebs--but unhappily for Mike, he's just on the outside of that group), it's going to be increasingly hard to accept the singer's carefully constructed innocent man-child persona.

After all, it's awful tough selling yourself to folks as Peter Pan if you're caught looking up Wendy's skirt, isn't it?...

That wasn't all that happened yesterday. On MSNBC--the long heralded--and dreaded--new Tucker Carlson hour finally premiered at 9, following Keith Olbermann's "Countdown", the one news program I NEVER miss. And even amidst their excellent Jackson coverage, I was totally blind-sided when the host turned to new colleague, ex-Fox News show hostess, Rita Cosby, for her exclusive live phone conversation with both Jermaine AND Tito! FINALLY, we hear from Tito! He has a surprisingly deep--and pleasant--voice, I discovered--but what's with this Cosby lady invading Keith's turf? I sure hope this isn't gonna be another Tom Snyder/Rona Barrett debacle...

And on the net, well, I'm sure one of the first things the newly freed Jackson did was bring up the BRAND NEW Comic Book Galaxy site on his computer (either that, or some of that porno stuff he seems to like so much...)! Alan David Doane and Chris Allen have totally revamped what was already a pretty darn good website, making it even better. Right off the bat, you're gonna find...

Ed Cunard's TOM SPURGEON INTERVIEW looks at Tom's time at The Comics
Journal, his new site The Comics Reporter, and more

Larry Young says TAKE IT ALL! in our biggest contest ever, giving away
one copy of every comic and graphic novel they've ever published

Mike Sterling's BEHIND THE COUNTER looks behind the scenes at comics retailing

Ian Brill reviews F-STOP

Johnny Bacardi reviews FOUL PLAY

Logan Polk's LOOSE STAPLES features reviews and commentary

Joe Rice's MAKE-BELIEVE WAR launches

Shawn Hoke's SIZE MATTERS features a weekly look at the best in mini-comics

Marc Sobel's CRACK SHOTS features reviews of new comics and graphic novels

..and of course, Chris Allen's BREAKDOWNS!

Lastly, today is Flag Day. For some good, practical advice regarding the burning of same, I direct you to my buddy Roger Green's blog! Thanks, Rog--and remember, kiddies, always have a responsible adult around before lighting a match! (That means YOU, Michael...)

(For the masochists amongst you, here's a list of Michael Jackson-themed blogs. A similar Tito-themed listing to follow--albeit, NOT shortly...)
June 13th, 2005
Who SAYS the Comics Code Authority diluted drama in the funnybooks of the latter fifties?...
What could be more riveting than the scene depicted on the cover of this late 1955 Atlas comic? A teacher, shoulders slumped, turns his back on his students--on his very life--and heads out the door, carrying the burden of forevermore being known as (dramatic pause, if you please)..."The Man Who Quit"!!

Yeah, how could all the wild gunplay, easily flowing blood, and heaving bosoms of only a few months earlier ever compete with THAT??...

Though this comic came out before my time, it long ago found its way into my collection in a manner I no longer have any memory of. Fact is, aside from the wonderfully drawn John Severin cover, very little else about this book has stayed with me over the years (the art on the interior is provided by Doug Wildey, Ross Andru, Syd Shores, Paul Reinman, and, on the featured story, someone named Artie Mamie--very George Tuska-ish, and I'm not even sure I'm reading the tiny signature correctly--but Marie's big brother apparently left the premises right after performing his cover duties). So when I sat down to reread "The Man Who Quit", I was surprised to discover the sudden relevance it had to my own personal life...

No doubt inspired by the box-office hit of '55, "The Blackboard Jungle", this five page tale tells of a dedicated but defeated high school teacher in a big-city slum district who, when he gets the chance, flees his job in public education to take a similar position at a ritzy private institution. At first, all is rosy, but soon he has to deal with having to award passing grades to failing students, primarily due to the size of their families bank accounts. Worse yet, when he encounters a student who's attending the school due to an athletic scholarship, and not due to his privileged lineage, the teacher eventually quits his cushy position over the hypocrisy blatantly evident when one of the rich kids steals a trophy won from the unfairly ostracized boy, and the headmaster refuses to do acknowledge the guilt of--much less punish--the true thief. After a few rough years without a steady job, The Man Who Quit becomes, happily, The Man Who Was Rehired, as a spot on the faculty of his old school opens up, and he's pleased to return, since, if nothing else, at least everything is open and above board in the ol' Alma Mater.

The end.

This past year, as I've mentioned from time to time, was Julie's first away from enrollment in public school and attending instead a smallish private school (HOW small? Well, there's ONE yearbook for the entire school, and that covered kindergarten right on up to twelfth grade!) In a lot of respects, her experience was totally opposite the forlorn four-color educator.The small class sizes certainly was to her advantage--they'd be to ANYBODY'S advantage! And while I can't fault the teachers at Julie's former junior high (she just finished ninth grade on Friday), public schools nowadays seem to be largely geared toward teaching kids specifically what's upcoming on a series of tests, tests that determine how well a particular school is doing, and if it'll continue to merit the same level of financial aid. In other words, kids seem to be taught mainly to make a school look good! Sometimes they learn useful information in the process, and sometimes they don't--and more often than not, things are dumbed down so as to give EVERYBODY a better chance of looking good! Julie didn't have one book assigned to her in her two years of junior high English--at least, not one book she had to actually read on her own. They saw movies based on books, listened to books on tape, and--worst of all--read material themselves out loud during class. There's no more soul-deadening way to absorb literature than hear it via the monotone of a disinterested 13 year old, that I guarantee you!...

By comparison, this year just past, Julie read a half dozen books for her English class--all by herself, and with her lips hardly moving, to boot--quite the accomplishment for a kid who's never really glommed onto the magical appeal of reading. The concentrated class schedule--English and Math the first half of the year, Science and Social Studies the latter half, with Language running throughout, and a pair of different electives keeping things fresh, allowed for greater concentration and understanding of the material.

And though she was a newcomer, she was welcomed by the students and faculty alike. Julie never has any trouble with adults, as she's one of those rare kids (totally unlike me at her age) who has no qualms whatsoever about talking to people older than herself. It's a quality that's generally appreciated by her elders, if only because folks of our vintage rarely encounter it from teen-agers.

As for her fellow students, she's managed to fit in just fine. Obviously, she's closer with some kids than she is with others, but there's been none of the outright harassment she occasionally encountered winding her way through the crowded halls of her past school--which, while hardly a chamber of horrors, had its darker moments. The single disadvantage is that the students come from, literally, miles and miles around, so it's difficult for her to socialize with her new friends after hours (we live 15 minutes away, which is relatively close), as they're scattered in all directions, sometimes substantially so. Luckily, Julie's maintained strong contact with several of her old school buddies, and spends a lot of time with three in particular, so she's rarely at a loss for companionship (and when she does come up empty, there's always that new teen panacea, the Instant Message...)

Yeah, even without seeing her final report from the second semester yet--they don't issue grades, per se, but detailed analyses of each student's performance--I'd have to say this academic year has been a success on all counts. Happily, daughter Julie's in no danger of being dubbed (deep breath now for yet another contrived dramatic pause)...The Girl Who Quit!
June 12th, 2005
How can you NOT love this?...
Checking my Overstreet Guide, I was surprised to find out that this was the 16th and final issue of a curious little publication Marvel put out for kids between 1977 and 1979. I think I only ever bought one other issue. The reason why I decided to purchase this one is fairly obvious, given the odd situation our pal Superman finds himself in on that cover.

Providing their own unique take on the then current Chris Reeve cinematic funfest, PIZZAZZ gleefully revealed that the actress called in to provide some stunt work for Margot Kidder's Lois Lane character, Ellen Bry (later of TV's "St. Elsewhere") had several years earlier played Julie Masters, Nicholas Hammond's love interest on the mid-seventies "Spider-Man" television show. They ended their brief interview by asking the struntress which garishly costumed fella she'd prefer to date, Supes or Spidey?

No doubt well aware that she wasn't speaking with folks affiliated with the AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS, she dutifully answered "Spider-Man, he's more human."

Yeah, but try picking between William Daniels and Ed Begley, Jr, sister--now THAT'S a tough choice!!...
June 11th, 2005
Julie's soccer season ended today, and it ended with both a bang AND a whimper...

This is my first posting on the subject since last June, when I voluntarily brought to an end my four year tenure as my daughter's intramural soccer coach. Yeah, I stepped down on my own, sure, but considering we hadn't won a game the entire season, I'll confess there wasn't a whole lot of protest at my decision. So, I went into the Fall half of the season merely as one of the many parents standing on the sidelines.

It felt a little strange at first, admittedly. Fact is, more often not this year, I volunteered to man the flag, identifying the team responsible when the ball would be kicked out on my side (a parent from the other team would be charged with the same task on the opposite side). It kept me in the game, gave me something to do, all without obligating me to shout out instructions to the players on the field, never one of my strong points (but for those of you with short memories, let me remind you once again that my first team only lost a single contest, and that squads two and three wound up with basically .500 records).

Julie's coach was a woman named Denise. Her daughter had joined our team in the spring of my second year, and then her mom, always willing to help out, heeded the call when another potential coach backed out at the last moment the next season. During my fourth year, we'd shared a practice field with Denise's group, usually scrimmaging with them during the latter portion of our weekly tune-up. I got to know her better than most of the other coaches, and was happy when I found out she'd chosen Julie when it'd come to making up this season's teams. I also knew that she didn't want to have an assistant coach (which had been encouraged more and more as the years went on), and I knew I didn't want to be an assistant coach. However, knowing she was also heavily involved in coaching a group of cheerleaders (see? I TOLD you she puts in her time, and more), I offered to step in and coach a game should she ever have a conflict. Denise was very appreciative of this, and it worked for me, too, as I got to enjoy the fun of directing a game without the tedious details of running things week in and week out. So sure enough, a few weeks in, I got my chance to once again don the red Wappingers United Soccer Club coaches' tee shirt. Too bad not enough kids were willing to go out of their way to actually SHOW UP as I basked in my fleeting moment of returning glory...

It was an away game. We had maybe seven players at kick-off time--we're supposed to field eleven, or at least nine. To get things going, the opposing coach loaned us a pair of his players, but due to a couple of stragglers showing up late, after only a few minutes in, our team was entirely home-grown again. Though we scored first--something I'd gone an entire season without witnessing--we wound up losing. We had no subs, obviously, and the other team had a half-dozen, making them far more well rested. Oh well--the kids (the ones who showed, anyway) had fun, and so did I. Maybe I'd get to do this again sometime?...

Alas, twas not to be. Several games--including the last one before the winter break--were rained out, and the seemingly endless problem of never having enough girls to play a game (or at least enough to have substitutes to spell tired players) was finally solved with an idea Denise herself proposed: boil the four Wappingers teams in this age group down into three, and that's just what they did, come the Spring portion. As a result, ironically, it was Denise's team that was disbanded (though she'd told me late in the Fall she'd be fine with that, should it come to pass), and Julie thus found herself on Coach Pat's team, an event that marked a full coming of circle for her...

When Julie first joined up in the middle of second grade, y'see, she started out with Coach Pat. Then the next year, she requested the team headed by her best buddy Deanna's dad, but when they opted for the more competitive travel team league the following year, she wound up again with Pat. This was the team where, at my daughter's urging, I volunteered to be the assistant coach--with the eventual result being me awarded (or stuck, depending how you want to look at it) with the main job the following year since Pat wanted to coach his younger son, leaving his daughter and associates to my questionable care. And now, here we were, back with Pat. But no chance of me getting the assistant gig again--he already HAD an assistant--Janice, the woman who assisted ME my last year! Funny how these things turn out...

Pat really knows his soccer, and he's good with the kids, to boot. He knows the proper strategy, and he can call it out to the players on the field with an admirable glibness. While his team wasn't undefeated, they'd won most of their games (Denise, happily, managed to win a few of her final contests as well), and unlike when she was with me, Janice actually got to handle a few games and some practices for the absent Pat. Unfortunately, due to a recurring--and nasty--nasal infection, Julie missed four of the first eight spring games, and won't be available for next weeks final game because she'll be away. (Luckily, with all the additional players, Coach Pat was never even close to being short-handed, so we felt no guilt from keeping her home when she was sick.) So, today's annual round-robin tournament was going to be her swan song.

(Next year, she's already planning to play for her school team. The smallish private school she attended this past year allows anybody who goes out for the team to join, so when a friend urged her to sign up next Fall, she decided to try that as an alternative to her usual intramurals. I think it'll be a good experience for her, to bond with a REAL team, as opposed to a group of a dozen or so girls drawn from nearly half as many school districts, who only interact together two days a week, for little over an hour, with a substantial change of players each season.)

It was close to ninety degrees today, and very humid. The prospect of sitting in that heat for the three hours between 2 and 5 PM that it was to take her team to have their turns at three 25 minute games wasn't all that appealing to yours truly, to be sure, but the notion of RUNNING AROUND in those conditions was even less of a appealing notion to my daughter. When we arrived, only minutes before she was to embark on her first contest (not being the coach anymore allows me to be late once in awhile instead of perpetually fifteen minutes early, which is a welcome relief, lemme tell ya...), we found everyone just sitting around and the field without any players. Though we hadn't heard it driving in, minutes before, a rumble of thunder had caused the folks in charge to delay any further play until at least a half hour later. At least...

Every five minutes, another far off rumble sputtered in the sky, pushing the start time incrementally repeatedly. The girls lolled about on the grass, while some of the other teams kicked the ball around on the sidelines, occasionally punting one into the crowd of unsuspecting parents seated in their portable chairs. Just as Coach Janice finally got our girls to get up off their butts and go out onto the filed for a warm-up at about 2:25, a large bolt of lightning was spied by everyone who happened to be facing the direction over where the kids were practicing!

Well, that was it--thunder you can wait out, lighting bolts you can't. Tournament cancelled. Julie told Coach Pat she wouldn't be at the final game, we said a hurried good-bye, and rushed to our cars before the inevitable downpour drenched us all. We drove off, and that's how Julie's nearly eight season's of intramural soccer ended with both a whimper--no game--AND a roar--thunder and especially lightning...

It's been a good experience for both of us, and there's a certain sadness seeing it end, but I guess it's just time to move on. Julie stuck it out way longer than most--each year, as they get older, the enrollment of interested girls shrinks inexorably, and next year, it appears they'll be short one more player...
June 10th, 2005
As an addendum to my comments regarding this year's season-ender of "24", here's a little nugget I came across in the current TV GUIDE. You might recall that I wondered what had become of the reformed teen-age terrorist, Behrooz, who was never seen again after being swapped for Jack Bauer about two-thirds of the way in. Not to worry, says series writer Evan Katz, "Behrooz is fine."

Quoting the GUIDE: Turns out a scene where Jack learns that authorities rescued Behrooz before terrorists could ship him out for "reeducation" was cut.

No doubt said scene will turn up on the inevitable DVD, along with maybe a few scenes of characters excusing themselves for much needed lavatory breaks, as well as a quick snack or two...

Speaking of television programs, one I never actually watched--but surprise, surprise, is now available on DVD as well--was the late sixties "Doris Day Show". Ms. Day was far too unhip (or at least, that was the widespread perception amongst us younger folk at the time) for me to pay much attention to, and while I still have no immediate plans to run out and buy the season one collection, I found Mark Evanier's behind-the-scenes recounting of the show's rather unique genesis to be truly fascinating. Que sera sera, indeed...

And find out how Jim Salicrup--and Steve Englehart and John Byrne, too, no less--figure in Marvel's big "House Of M" crossover event in Jim's latest "Addicted To Comics" column. Jim's stuff is always fun to read, even if he were just writing about the House of Pancakes--

--or as I like to call it, the REAL House of MM-mmm!!...
June 9th, 2005
Terry Austin called this morning, mainly to ask me some questions, ones that I might be able to answer for the computer bereft inker about upcoming DVD releases of various television programs, using the Internet. As our conversation was winding down, I opined that, even more than their movies, I'd sure love to have the two-season, early fifties half-hour "Abbott and Costello Show" series on DVD.

After informing me that there are currently ten volumes available, albeit with but four episodes per disc--making the price of amassing a decent collection ridiculously out of balance with the going rate for the likes of, say, "What's Happening", meaning for me, it clearly WASN'T happening--I began to wax nostalgic about the cast of characters that inhabited A&C's surrealistic little sitcom: Bingo the Chimp, Mr. Fields the landlord, Stinky the rotten little kid (played by middle-aged Joe Besser in an oversized Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit, no less!), the blonde and regal Hillary Brooke, Mr. Baucegalupe (whose Italian stereotype made Chico Marx look subtle by comparison), the ever gruff Mike the Cop--

"Mike the Cop--didn't he host a kiddie show in New York?", Terry, who spent his formative years in Michigan, inquired.

"No", I, who grew up on Long Island with access to all the NYC Metropolitan stations, replied, "You're thinking of Officer Joe Bolton. He introduced Three Stooges shorts on WPIX channel 11 for most of the sixties. He even had the trio on his show on more than one occasion."

I was still waxing nostalgic, but suddenly the subject of my waxy mental build-up had taken an abrupt right turn.

"We also had Captain Jack McCarthy--he trotted out Popeye cartoons everyday. Then, there was also some guy called Beachcomber Bill, but he didn't last very long. I think he took over for Officer Joe Bolton for awhile. Coulda been during contract negotiations, I don't know..."

"Maybe Officer Joe was off on an undercover assignment?..." Terry offered, helpfully.

"Yeah, sure--with the Vice Squad!", I added with a laugh.

"Setting up a prostitution sting!" Terry exclaimed.

"Right", I replied, "And naturally he had the expert assistance of Curly Joe DeRita in that golden-tressed wig he always used to wear!!"
And then we just proceeded to laugh ourselves silly for the longest time...

I'm not sure how this'll come across in print--maybe you really had to be there--but if nothing else, let this serve as your "Untold Conversations Behind the Comics--REVEALED!!" entry for the day, okay?

(And yes, that IS Ed Sullivan serving as Curly Joette's somewhat reluctant John, as a frisky--and kinky--Moe attempts to play Doctor with ol' Stone Face. Probably curious to find out if he has a REALLY big...well, NOT shoe, heh...)

On to another subject, and not a moment too soon:

Big-time grateful thanks to Will Pfeifer for just going over and above in this entry of his always delightful X-Ray Spex blog. After reviewing his fine H-E-R-O trade paperback in my 13th and latest episode of The Fred Hembeck Show, Will was nice enough to throw some nice words back my way, and I wanted everyone out there in Blogovia to know how much I truly appreciate his sentiments! I think it was darn nice of him--especially in light of the fact that, up until last night, I'd had him listed as "Will Pfiefer" on my Links page. It was entirely my pfault, but I'm glad pfriend Pfeiffer had apparently pforgiven me my pflub...

Whether or not he'll be able to look past me driving THAT sorry little gag into the ground is another thing entirely, however...
June 8th, 2005
Back last fall, when died-in-the-wool Red Sox fan, Noah (Baggy Pants and Bravado) Smith was waxing nostalgic over the impending departure of his beloved Pedro Martinez from Boston, I didn't quite get it. To me, Pedro had always been the bad guy who threw at the Mets' Mike Piazza during a 1999 interleague game, breaking the All Star catcher's hand and precipitating a brawl on the field. He was also the fellow who threw the seventyish coach Don Zimmer to the ground when the Sox met the Yankees a few years ago during the post-season--and then famously declared the Bronx Bombers "his daddies" after being manhandled by them last summer.
So, when he surprised a lot of people and wound upon signing with the Mets after helping Boston to their fairy tale-like World Championship last season, I admit to being less than enthused. For one thing, in recent winters, the Mets front office had a knack for acquiring Hall Of Fame bound players, and then watched helplessly in horror as they all somehow turned into Triple A specimens come the following spring (Roberto Alomar being the most egregious example). Why should the thirtyish Pedro prove to be any different? Plus, they said he was a diva, and from what I'd seen, didn't appear to be anybody who looked like he'd be much fun to root for.

How wrong I was!

Eleven starts in, he's provided the most consistent excitement Mets fans have seen since the glory days of the mid-eighties, when Gooden, Strawberry, Carter, and Hernandez practically lit up Shea Stadium by force of their personalities alone. Well, Pedro's got a personality, too, and it's a lot more quirky--GOOD quirky--than any of us Mets fans could've ever anticipated. The Shea faithful have embraced their new ace since day one, no denying it--and why not? Last night he pitched a two-hitter to beat the Houston Astros, running his record to 7-1--and as the TV announcers were quick to point out, he'd earlier left three potential wins in the late inning care of the Mets inconsistent bullpen, which unfortunately blew those trio of contests. Elsewise, he could easily be 10-1 (not to go all Roy Thomas on you but "What If?" I'll tell you--the Mets would be in first place now, that's what!...)

Great pitching is one thing, naturally, but even with their best stuff, I can't imagine warming up the Dour-mint twins, Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens, if they somehow found themselves with a spot in the Mets rotation. For one thing, I can't see Mike and arch-enemy Rocket Roger EVER getting comfortable as teammates, whereas one could clearly see that Piazza and Pedro have put the past behind them, as evidenced by the broad smile on Mike's face last night as he congratulated Martinez on his complete game victory. Just like the rest of us, I guess Piazza can't help but be swept up by the gleefully obvious enjoyment his batterymate gets each time he takes the mound. It's looking to be the first summer in too long a time in which being a Mets fan is truly an enjoyable state of mind, and Pedro's the number one reason for that.

Hey, Noah, buddy--NOW I get it!...

A few Julie-related anecdotes:

My daughter has a good friend at school, Ilsa, who is a BIG White Stripes fan, so when Julie told her I bought their new CD, "Get Behind Me Satan", upon its release yesterday, Julie said her buddy--who's only met me briefly on two past occasions--declared that I must be "the coolest dad ever". What my kid failed to mention was that the REAL reason I went to Best Buy Tuesday--to pick up brand-spankin' new "Choose Love" disc by good ol' Ringo Starr!! The White Stripes, well, it was on sale, and I'd liked their last one quite a bit, so I figured, why not? But I was REALLY in the store due to undying allegiance for The World's Greatest Drummer!

Wonder if the stark, unvarnished truth would've affected my status on the coolness meter any, hmmm?...

(Look for a full review of Ringo's latest soon over in my too long moribund Beatles section, as well as a few words about the freshly released "Paul McCartney In Red Square" DVD, received via the generous and gentlemanly Ken Plume of IGN Comics, who forwarded an extra promo copy he had on hand to yours truly! Thanks, Ken--now, what ELSE ya got for me?) (Kidding! Mostly...)

Then there's Julie's blog. It's on one of these sites favored by teens, one where you can't actually read the postings unless you're a registered member--meaning you or I can't get to it, and there's no linking over to it, either. That's cool. Probably for the best. Sometimes, though, Julie tells me a little bit about what's on it, such as yesterday.

Turns out, a post that started out quietly quickly morphed into an all out rant against the evils of illicit drugs, and her not unfounded assertion that taking them does growing kids no favors. The blog service she utilizes offers its users the ability to post an image of the music they were listening to at the bottom of their entries, and so at the very end of her DARE-like diatribe, can you guess WHICH album's iconic cover graced her piece?

Uh huh--"Dark Side Of The Moon".

I suppose it COULD'VE been worse--at least she wasn't grooving to David Peel's "The Pope Smokes Dope" while she went all Nancy Reagan on her audience!...
June 7th, 2005
Today on The Fred Hembeck Show--special guest stars, Jerry Lewis, Robby Reed, and the untold tale of...Batman Junior? Go over to IGN Comics and see for yourselves.

While you're there, Peter Sanderson's latest Comics In Context expounds on his earlier remarks regarding BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE.
Do check out the second part of Roger Green's ongoing "Jeopardy" saga--and I'm NOT phrasing that in the form of a question, but more in the manner of a polite request, dig?.

And in case you haven't seen it, here's a link to one of the most bizarre things I've yet to see on the net--a professional calendar featuring scantily clad cuties, draped across the company's merchandise: COFFINS!!

(Link via Tom Peyer's continually jaw-dropping SUPERFRANKENSTEIN--where else?...)
June 6th, 2005
When we went K-Fest 6, Lynn, Julie, her pal Ariana, and myself, well, we didn't make it past five in the afternoon. Good reason, too--it hit one hundred degrees that day in 2000, even though, as always, the concert was held on the first weekend of June. We gave up, came home, and headed straight for the pool. Ironically, that was the single hottest day of an unusually cool summer.

After that experience, we weren't overly anxious to attend the annual event again anytime soon, and the next time we made it to Dutchess Stadium to watch the K-104 sponsored production was last year, for K-Fest 10, though this time the attendees were only me, Julie, and her buddy Lisa. In an amazing weather reversal, the temperature hovered around an unseasonably cool fifty degrees, with a light drizzle falling on and off throughout . We stuck it out for nearly two hours before packing it in.

Then there was yesterday's K-Fest 11. This time, it was me, Julie, and friend Courtney (Lisa had to bow out due to other obligations). I left my car at the local mall, taking a specially provided shuttle bus over to the site to avoid the inherent traffic and parking headaches, and we arrived about 12:30, a half hour after the gates opened. This extravaganza is mounted on a baseball field, with the stage up against the wall in centerfield. Three tents selling various foods and such were erected behind each of the three bases, with the other portion of the outfield covered by audience members' blankets, with inflatable slides, first aid, and autograph booths off to the sides down the right and left field lines. The infield and dugout area was off limits to all save for those working at the park, and naturally, the stands--at best, only a quarter full--were truly general admission.

And, oh yeah, it was eighty six degrees and sunny.

We walked around a bit, looking for Cameron, a friend from Julie's old school (where Courtney still goes), but couldn't find him. At one point, we were standing right in front of the massive speaker system, and the amount of bass coming out of it literally made my entire body vibrate! There might well have been a point in my life when I would've considered this to be a good thing, but considering the music that was playing and my ever advancing age, a few minutes of this aural assault was about all I could take.

It was right about then that Julie turned to me and said, you stay here, we're gonna go look for Cameron and his friends (all girls, in case you're wondering). I corrected them, and said, I'm gonna go back in the stands, somewhere behind home plate. That's where I'll be when you need me. Okay, they said, and we parted ways. It was 1:15.

One small detail I'd somehow forgotten--whenever I go to the beach, I always find shade for maximum comfort, but here, at this point in the day, there was NO shade! So I endured the sun for about an hour, as the performers on the undercard ran through some surprisingly brisk sets, ranging anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour. Eventually, I just had to get up, and stand in the walkway under the stands to get some sweet relief from the unforgiving sun (and yes, we all ladled ourselves with copious amounts of lotion beforehand, but with that much exposure, lightly applied areas were sure to be found, and I have the red thighs to prove it.)

The crowd was heavy on the teen-age girl contingent, but there were a fair amount of families in attendance as well. At one point, standing in the underpass, I encountered one of my old soccer associates, who smiled, shook my hand, said he's seen me sitting over in the stands earlier, and had turned to his wife and said, "Hey--it's Fred Hembeck! Looks like there's ANOTHER parent who's less than happy to be here!" He wasn't entirely wrong--the music wasn't much to my liking, the heat was making me awfully uncomfortable, and the girls had essentially deserted me. I hadn't expected to hang out with them as in past years--they're almost 15, after all, and were meeting friends--but I kinda thought they'd check in from time to time. Nope. I didn't see them again until the last act, headliners Good Charlotte, closed the show just before seven o'clock.

To be fair, the mistake we all made was not to agree to an assigned time to check in, because, after failing to see them in the ever shifting crowds, I did eventually get up and leave my post four times over the five and a half hours we were separated, and, wouldn't you know it, they picked two of those times to come and look for me (Julie's pair of mildly concerned calls to Lynn at home to report my absence is evidence they weren't just blowing smoke here, but her mom reassured her we were probably just making like the pair of proverbial ships in the night). As a parent, part of my job is to worry, even if the odds were that my worries were unfounded. So, for a while, I did my job. Eventually, I theorized correctly that they were in the tightly packed crowd milling in front of the stage (Cameron was a BIG Good Charlotte fan, y'see, so he wasn't leaving his spot for anything), which is why I missed them when I made each of my ten-minute sweeps of the stadium (and of course, two of those times, they were out looking for ME!)(and no, I DON'T have a cell phone...)

The sun finally got to a place in the sky around 3:30 that afforded the upper level seats some much desired shade, so at least that problem had been solved by Mother Nature, though it certainly was still extremely hot. The music continued, the most notable moment coming from the group that went on before the featured attraction. A reggae act--their name escapes me, unfortunately--who had been guests at the very first K-Fest a decade ago, they also were the ones responsible for the one song I GUARANTEE everyone out there reading this is familiar with--"Bad Boys", better known to all as the theme song for the show "Cops". I'm sure a lot of the young shirtless guys in the audience felt right at home when they played THAT!!

A moment that made me feel ancient: sitting in the stands, an older white-haired gent sat down with an ice cream in hand and tried to make conversation with the woman next to him. Sitting behind them both, I couldn't help but overhear when he asked her about Good Charlotte, and if they were at all famous. She assured him they were, and then he went on to wistfully talk about the acts that were big when he was young. I was expecting him to rattle off the names of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, and the like. Instead, he mentioned Elvis and the Everly Brothers, performers who predated my interest in music by less than a decade! Ouch. Old, getting old...

After running through most of the acts on the bill surprisingly fast, the pace came a virtual standstill, and we had to wait nearly an hour before Good Charlotte hit the stage at 5:45 (and suffer a magician who seemed to've been yanked straight off of MTV's "Jackass", as he specialized in eating lightbulbs, drinking Windex, lying on nails, and lifting stuff with lines secured to fish hooks impaled through his eye sockets! Yecch. Even though I was as far away from the stage as you could get, still they showed these questionable antics on the large stadium video screen. I mostly didn't look, but still: yecch...)

As for the stars of the afternoon--most well known for their set closer, "Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous"--they're not a bad guitar based, pseudo-punk band on disc. In person, they were acceptable, though the cheesy sound system did them no favors. But what really got me was the chatter between songs by the two brothers who head up the group. The banter was nothing special, save for the relentlessly foul nature of it. All the popular swear words were trotted out, and repeated in all their various glorious permutations. I'm no prude--I use those words myself, though as you may've no doubt noticed, not here in this blog--but this was ostensibly a family event. Not that my family would care, but by golly, Jim Morrison and Lenny Bruce would've been spinning in their caskets if they could've gotten an earful of what these young fellows got away with in a crowd dotted with elementary school age kids! At least none of group's members exposed their, um, members...

Of course, nearly everyone who hit the stage that day--save for the station's DJs--had a go at the ever popular "F" word, and the truth is, nowadays, kids utter that once dreaded word with an alarming casualness (I've heard it out of the mouths of an awful lot of honor students in recent years, something that wasn't quite the norm back in my day. You know--back when we all had to walk five miles to school in a driving rainstorm, because the horse and buggy was in the repair shop?...).

Maybe the most memorable moment came when, in explaining just how much he and the rest of his bandmates like girls, the lead singer looked out over the crowd gathered in front of him, and after praising them for their collective beauty, said in a decidedly lascivious tone, "I'm having sex with every one of you...."

Pause for effect...

" my mind!"

Big feminine squeal from the audience. As Julie told me later, she looked around her when he said that, and saw any number of 6, 7, and 8 year olds in the gathering, some eating up their hero's declaration more readily than others. Given my daughter's off kilter sense of humor, she thought it was awfully funny, but the inappropriateness of the comment in that particular venue wasn't lost on her, either.

Well, that's rock and roll, I guess.

Finally, the long, long day came to an end, and Julie and Courtney turned up, as happy to find me as I was them. For the first time ever, we'd made it all the way through a K-Fest, and though I'd had a lot of anxiety about not seeing them for so long (while various other people I wasn't even looking for seemed to pass by me again and again), that all dissipated when I clearly saw how much the girls had enjoyed themselves during the long afternoon. I'm not quite ready to commit to K-Fest 12 just yet, but being the pushover I have a clear history of being, I wouldn't rule it out entirely, either.

Seventy five degrees, and a magician who pulls a rabbit out of hat and DOESN'T eat him might be nice, though...
June 5th, 2005
100 things I Love About Comics-mania has returned!

I direct you to Tony Isabella's Online Tips for another swell list! And Tony promises more in the way of follow-ups to his tally in the days ahead, so I suggest you all take my lead and keep checking back!

Gotta make this short. I'll be spending up to eight hours outdoors today at our local minor league baseball stadium, taking in the annual K-104 Fest 11, essentially chaperoning my daughter Julie and her friend, Courtney, as a line-up of acts I've never heard of (NarcoticThrust? Dr.Mudd?), and a few that sound only vaguely familiar (Baby Bash? Frankie J?), all take their turns on stage before the reasonably well-known headliners, Good Charlotte, finally crank up their amps.

More on this soon--but probably NOT under the heading of "100 Things I Love About All Day Open Air Contemporary Hit Radio Sponsored Rock Concerts"!...
June 4th, 2005
This just in from my IGN Comics guru, Ken Plume--musicians from the Count Basie Band are reportedly teaming up with several former Pink Floyd members to form a new group called...

...Count Floyd!!

Oooo--that joke was scary!

(Okay, okay, Ken, I'll get back to slapping together--er, I mean, carefully crafting--the next episode of The Fred Hembeck Show for you, but not before I remind folks to check out Jim Salicrup's latest installment of Addicted To Comics, which this time around focuses on Zorro, the one character whose "z"s DON'T ever put one to sleep!...)
June 3rd, 2005
My daughter's ever evolving taste in popular music continues to fascinate--and yes, confuse me, too.

For one thing, her over-a-year-in-duration Michael Jackson obsession seems to finally be over. While nary a note of "Thriller", "Bad", or "Invincible" has been heard around these parts for months now, a clearer indication of Jackos' status no longer being quo was Julie taking several of her personally printed out portraits of the performer off her walls. Why, I asked her?

"He creeps me out", was her not unreasonable reply (and no, she hasn't been following the trial with any amount of diligence--I think it was just a matter of tastes moving on. And, of course, he creeped her out, too...)

After throwing her aural attention towards the likes of contemporary country stars Kenny Chesney and Big and Rich for, quite literally, little more than a month, she went emo on me. That's when she bought herself a Simple Plan CD and, as is her wont, played it over and over and over again! Which is why, while watching Conan O'Brien a few weeks back, I got a bigger chuckle than most at the program's so-called sweeps stunt: a "hunky new-comer" would step through the side door, interrupt the host, and ask a mundane question, immediately followed by some music I knew all too well--"Did you ever fell like breaking down?..."--causing Conan (and band member La Bamba) to gaze longingly at the WB-worthy teen. As this bit was repeated a half dozen times or so over several episodes, with the overly dramatic lyrics reprised following every opening salvo spoken by the the chiseled jawed beefcake, music that was originally meant to express earnest angst became instead, due to comedic repetition, a cliched example of the selfsame overwrought emotion.

And by the way, until Julie picked up that Simple Plan CD--which, honestly, isn't all that bad a recording--I'd never heard the term "emo" before. While it was obvious that it was short for "emotion", I asked my daughter what exactly that meant in terms of musical styles. She said emo groups sing songs that are basically a litany of complaints about how tough it is to be them. "Emo"? Hey, how about "Whino"?

(The most fun I have with this whole situation is that whenever Julie says she likes emo, I invariably retort, "Emo Phillips? You like Emo Phillips?" receiving the same puzzled look in return for my quip every time. Fact is, I saw Emo not all that long ago on Conan, and I anxiously await the day of his return, because as soon as I capture him on tape, I'm gonna relish showing my progeny the virtually indescribable stand-up comedian, point at the screen, and declare giddily, "I like Emo, too!!")

Then there's this curious retro-streak that surfaces in her from time to time. Though she continues to gleefully spurn the Beatles (drat you, child!), Julie recently latched onto Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow", and then, just yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, requested my copy of "Dark Side Of the Moon" to burn for her own usage. She'd never shown ANY interest in Pink Floyd previously (not that they get all THAT much play around here, certainly not as much as the Airplane), but all of a sudden, here she was, inexplicably enthused about listening to this admittedly landmark recording. After doffing her headphones as the last note faded away, she declared that it was a scary album, but in a GOOD way.

So, when she came home from school earlier, STILL talking about the Floyd, I told her that, since the original bandmates had gone their own separate ways a few years back, I'd heard that several members of the group were planning to team up with musicians originally employed by another, more recent chart-topping assemblage, Uncle Cracker.

"Oh", she said innocently, "what are they going to call themselves?"

"What else? Uncle Floyd."

Lynn, who was in the room as well, groaned loudly. The arcane reference was, of course, lost on my 14 year old. It's probably lost on most of you, too.

Maybe a Count Floyd gag might work better? Lemme get back to you on that, okay?...
June 2nd, 2005
First came the truth about the man behind the Darth Vader mask!

Then, the secret of Deep Throat was finally revealed!

And now...Leon Lazarus?!?..

Longtime readers may recall my inordinate fascination regarding the fellow whose name turned up but once during the entire so-called "Marvel Age Of Comics", as author of the unlikely meeting between Giant-Man and Attuma in TALES TO ASTONISH #64 (February, 1965), a personal obsession which I wrote about on several occasions, the first time going back nearly two years now. And that's likely where things might've stayed, with me in a constant state of befuddlement, were it not for the worthy efforts of Mag and H over at The Comic Treadmill.

When they wrote a short piece on my ramblings, who knew that months later, the daughter of the near mythical Leon Lazarus would Google her dad's name, wind up at their site, and, by providing her email address in the comments section, set into motion a series of events that has ultimately resulted in her father being interviewed by none other than that ace ALTER EGO interrogator himself, the unabashed Jim Amash!

I spoke with Jim at length for the first time a few nights back, and he promises me there's a LOT more to Mr. L than that single story, and eventfully all will be revealed. For now, it's just reassuring to know that such a diligent journalist as Jim is on the job, and I for one, await the fruits of his labors eagerly!

(And hey, after talking to Jim for awhile, lemme tell you this--he'd make one fine interview subject himself! Oh, the things he's seen, the stories he knows! Thanks for sharing, Jim--you're quite the raconteur! And much appreciation to H and Mag, for mid-wifing this whole organically evolving process in the first place. and certainly to Sherry Lazarus Ross for helping us all shine the spotlight on her decidedly deserving dad!...)

However, the rumors that to sell Stan Lee that sole script, Leon Lazarus had to meet Marvel's Editorial Director in a deserted, dimly lit underground parking garage--after entering from behind a green door, no less--well. I've been assured that they've proven to be utterly baseless.

(Although the notion that he included the Atlantean warrior, Attuma, in his tale merely as a dig at Lee for paying him scale, may have SOME merit...)
June 1st, 2005
Have you ever seen such a pensive look of quiet anguish on the Man of Steel's face? Great as Curt Swan was, he rarely caught such a powerfully pained expression on the Big Guy's kisser--and for what? A POSTAGE STAMP?


All will be explained over at IGN Comics, in The Fred Hembeck Show Episode Twelve.
Besides divulging "The Secret of the Superman Stamp", gloriously inane as it is, we've also included an old, reformatted, Dateline:@#$! strip focusing on the equally goofy "Olsen's Super Supper", all for your Mort mocking pleasure! Ahh, where ever would I be without Mr. Weisinger's delightfully dubious efforts?

And while I enjoyed getting the lowdown from daughter Julie the other day on the new Star Wars movie ("You'll never guess who that Darth Vader guy REALLY is, dad!..."), I also enjoyed reading what the ever erudite Peter Sanderson had to say about it in his latest Comics In Context column. Wonder if Peter was as surprised by the way it ended as my kiddo was?...

New website alert: Steve Darnall--about whose comics work I once did a Dateline:@#$! entry, found here--has launched himself a page, Funny Valentine Press. Take a look, folks--and I'll get that long promised article to you for the Nostalgia Digest Magazine eventually, Steve, honest!

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a contestant on Jeopardy? My old buddy, ramblin' Roger Green had his close encounter of the Trebek kind back in the late nineties, and he's begun to serialize his reminiscences each Saturday in his shiny new blog, and you can learn how Rog got his foot in the door by starting with Chapter 1: The Test of Green! (My goofy title, not his...)Then return each week, same Green blog, same Green day! (No, not the "Who recorded the "American Idiot" CD?" Green Day, for those of you playing along at home...)

I'd also recommend an eye-opening account by Greg (Delenda Est Carthgo) Burgas of his recent tenure as a substitute teacher in an Arizona high school. Even if you don't have kids, it's a sobering examination of the status of The Blackboard Jungle, twenty-first century style. And here's the follow-up.

But before you get TOO bummed out, take a gander at Greg's bountiful list of links--there's something in there for EVERYONE! Check 'em all, and you'll never have to leave your screen and spend time with your family again!!

("Don't bother daddy when he's surfing the net, Billy."

"But my name is Bobby!..."

"Whatever. Now go away-- can'tcha see I still have Lego versions of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models to ogle--I mean, Google?....).

HOME | FredSez
January 2003 | February 2003 | March 2003 | April 2003 | May 2003 | June 2003
July 2003 | August 2003 |
September 2003 | October 2003 | November 2003 | December 2003
January 2004 | February 2004 | March 2004 | April 2004 | May 2004
| June 2004 | July 2004 | August 2004
September 2004 | October 2004 |
November 2004
December 2004
| January 2005
February 2005 | March 2005
April 2005 | May 2005 | June 2005