Archive - June 2006
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June 29th, 2006
Over at its new home at Quick Stop Entertainment, the 63rd episode of The Fred Hembeck Show deals with my thoughts upon reading an indy comic.

That's right--I read an indy comic. If you don't believe me, well, go see for yourself!

I KNOW you can believe Peter Sanderson saw the new X-Men movie, and you can read all about that little cinematic excursion in his latest Comics In Context, #134.

And if you've ever longed to see a full color illo of Dennis the Menace's head separated from its body, you have only to visit Bill Alger's Al Wiseman Blog and check out Jim Salicrup's custom made drawing!

In unrelated sports news, I'm sure that even Noah Smith would agree that last night's homecoming for former Red Sox pitcher (and current Mets' ace) on Fenway Park's mound was, from the second pitch on, monumentally disappointing. Hope he does a whole lot better when the teams meet again in October...

At least finding Roger Green writing about the Beatles (and ME!) managed to brighten my mood! You're welcome, sir!
June 28th, 2006
Very soon now, the internet will be inundated with reactions to, observations of, and praise (or contempt) for "Superman Returns".

Don't expect me to find me amongst those voices.

Nothing sinister about it--I DO want to see the movie, but I'd prefer my initial viewing to be up on the giant iMax screen, aided and abetted by a pair of those nigh-magical 3-D glasses. However, since the nearest iMax theater is a couple hours away down in New Jersey, and wife Lynn and (especially) daughter Julie have certain obligations to tend to over the next several weeks, it'll take us that long to plan such a trip (assuming, of course, that we can even get tickets by then!...). So, until that time, I'm going to do my best to avoid reading anything about the film or watch any of the clips that are turning up all over the tube, so as to best go into it fresh. I AM aware that the thing is getting great reviews, even if I've avoided the specifics of the critics analysis, so I'm genuinely looking forward to eventually getting out to see this latest cinematic Superman offering--and folks, when I do, I'll be sure to report back to you all with my impressions!

But until I do, shhh. If there's an unexpected reference to the bottle city of Kandor in the film, just let me find out on my own, okay?...
June 26th, 2006
I did another one of those Five For Friday thingies over at The Comics Reporter this past weekend. This time around, the subject was Crafty--Name Five Living Cartoonists Whom You Admire For Their Craft Skills.

This is the first one I've contributed to in a while, which was a conscious decision, since, if I'd gone on to write up my answers properly for several of the more recent topics, I'd have me more than enough text for a nice big juicy blog entry! So, I decided I'd instead take the opportunity to post my thoughts here--which seemed like a good idea at the time, except of course, I haven't gotten around to it yet. Typical. But THIS week, I'm as succinct as you're ever gonna see me, so I suggest the curious amongst you go take a look.

What else has been happening around these parts? Well, yesterday,I finally painted the ceiling in our bathroom, only about, oh, seven or eight years after it began to chip away. What's the rush, I kept asking Lynn?...

To fulfill half of our yearly obligation, on Saturday morning, Lynn and I spent nearly three hours breaking off garlic scapes out in the field over at the farm where we're part of an organic vegetable Co-op. I'm betting if a vampire came anywhere near me, I'd STILL be able to safely strangle the fanged fiend! I'll be sure and let you know if anything develops along those lines.

After abandoning the violin and then the bass, daughter Julie is eager to learn the keyboard, spurred on by her latest obsession, Sir Elton John (and, to a lesser extent, Master Billy Joel). Last night, she spent hours fiddling with the modest one we picked up for her as an early birthday present for her upcoming sixteenth. Lynn dug out some old music books she had back in, as they say, the day, and Julie spent a considerable amount of time playing famous Beatles melodies on the organ! A year ago, I never could've conceived that my kid would be happily crooning "Yesterday" while accompanying herself on the keyboards!

(Perhaps motivated by this new found interest in The Beatles, she insisted that we sit down and watch the "Imagine" documentary DVD. I'd already seen it last December, but I was more than happy to be there (along with Lynn) as our offspring belatedly witnessed her first full-length retelling of the Fabs saga (even if Paul came off as little more than a glorified sideman in the proceedings). Two things I noticed in watching it again: I hate the way it ends, and I always will. And boy, by 1969, Al Capp sure was one self-satisfied smug jerk. The extended sequence where he verbally spars with John and Yoko during one of their (admittedly goofy) public Bed-Ins certainly tempers any enthusiasm I might have to go downstairs and read one of the Kitchen Sink published "Li'l Abner" collections I have on my shelf (that, plus the over-reliance on phoneticizing so much of the dialog, a literary trait I find annoying where ever I encounter it...)

Julie also borrowed "The Lion King" DVD from a friend this past weekend, and we took that in, too. (Elton, remember?) Oddly enough, I'd never seen it before! (Julie had, years back at school), one of the few Disney flicks from the early nineties that somehow escaped our attention. However, since we once saw it presented on stage at Disney World--not to mention the capsule version included in the Elton John video that Julie keeps playing repeatedly--I sure felt like I'd already seen it, simply by osmosis. How'd I like it? Well, it was good, but my reaction to it would've been vastly different had I walked into a theater, fresh, a week after it debuted back in '94, than it was viewing it in such an anti-climactic manner. Plus,I keep telling people--animals can't talk! What's up with THAT anyway?...

Julie starts a two-week, all day class in advanced drawing and painting today, so I'm gonna try and catch up on several drawing commitments over the next fortnight, so if posting is light and/or sporadic, cut me a little slack okay? I'll be back, promise!

(Plus, Lynn said something about a "second coat", and I DON'T think she was talking about extra outer garments, so there's that, too...)
June 23rd, 2006
Twenty seven years ago today, I stood in front a judge who had, some time earlier, presided over the nuptials between Lucie Arnaz and that fellow who played the bad guy in the Trek film directed by William Shatner, and when his honor asked ME if I wanted to enter into a state of matrimony--holy or otherwise--with the lovely young Ms. Lynn Moss, I hastily replied, "YOU BETCHA!!"

Or words to that effect...

I still consider it one of my very, VERY best decisions!

Happy Anniversary, sweetie! May we have a whole bunch more!

(Any of you curious--or new--readers out there can read the story of the connection between our wedding and the legendary Woodstock festival by going here, and you can find some pics of the happy (and young!) couple by checking the archived June 23rd entry of 2004's "Fred Sez". )
June 22nd, 2006
If you were there, you'll never forget it: the month Marvel raised their price a dime from fifteen cents to a quarter while nearly doubling their page count, filling their books with all-new material! And easily one of the most memorable of those issues was AVENGERS 93, chock full of Neal Adams/Tom Palmer goodness, lovingly illustrating one of the chapters of Roy Thomas's fabled Kree/Skrull war sequence!

Of course, a month later, all the Marvel books were back to the standard 32 page size, although the price only dropped a nickel. Hey, that's business...

You can see my version by going here.

And you can bid on the original of my redo by going to my eBay auction here.

Like I said, that's business...
June 22nd, 2006
It's back!

Yes, The Fred Hembeck Show returns with its 62nd episode today! The even bigger news here is that The Show now has itself a brand new home, Kevin Smith's freshly launched Quick Stop Entertainment! Take a peek at the whole site while you're over there (and watch for new installments of Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context, coming soon)--proud editor Ken Plume will be ever so grateful that you did!

And speaking of links, let me belatedly point you towards the latest classic comic book stories posted by Chance Fiveash over at his Last of the Spinner Rack Junkies site. Fifties crime noir is the theme this time around, with a pair of Pete Morisi "Johnny Dynamite" episodes and two Harry Lucey "Sam Hill" stories on tap. If you ever wondered what in Sam Hill longtime "Archie" cartoonist Lucey's dramatic art looked like, well here's your chance to find out (thanks to Chance, natch)!

And as much as I love Lucey, let's not forget that other longtime favorite of mine, Al Wiseman. Bill Alger has been true to his word, regularly posting wonderful--and rare--material from the criminally under appreciated cartoonist on The Al Wiseman Blog, so check things out over there if you haven't already!

And Roger Green's still blogging, too! Somehow, you probably figured that was the case, didn't you?

Well, that's all for now!
June 20th, 2006
Born a scant two days after his musical twin from across the seas, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson celebrates--against all odds some might say--his sixty-fourth birthday this very day. And while he didn't have the foresight to write something so blatantly appropriate to mark the occasion as "When I'm Sixty-Four", there is a tune on the 1965 release, "The Beach Boys Today" (my very first Beach Boys LP, purchased way, way back when that title was actually true) that manages to successfully translate the melancholic subject of aging into a slice of irresistible pop bounciness called "When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)". Everytime I hear it, I can't help getting just a little choked up--all the while I'm nonetheless vigorously tapping my foot!

And when it comes to the question posed in the opening line, "Will I dig the same things that turned me on as a kid?", if we're talking about the music of Brian and the Boys, well, then the answer is most assuredly a hearty "Yes!"--Happy Birthday Brian!

(Listening to it again today, I noticed that the background chorus ticking off the years--"won't last forever"--only manages to make it up to 29 before the recording fades out completely. Perhaps a remake is in order? Add a couple of extra minutes to the ditty and we'd soon be a bit more current--"59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67...")
June 19th, 2006
Preeeee-senting the very first in what could well be a continuing series of Classic LP Cover Redos by Julie Hembeck!...
For those of you who may've forgotten what the source material looks like, get a gander below (and note the subtle changes, with squiggles substituting for musical notes, and a pen for a piano--not to mention Superman flying overhead instead of a plane...)
It was all part of yesterday's Father's Day festivities--Julie also gave me two tee shirts, one with the Rolling Stones tongue logo, and another with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon LP cover imagery, the rainbow colors actually embossed as stitching right there onto the shirt! Cool! (I was sadly informed that there was no Beatles' apparel available, but proudly told that my bargain-minded offspring managed to pick these up under the ever popular "Buy one, get one free!" sales enticement! Thanks kiddo!)

Otherwise, it was fine day. The temperature hit near 95, so we had our first pool day of the season, with Lynn's mom and brother joining in on the gaiety. The Mets won--again--and in the evening, Julie and Lynn sat down and watched that swell Paul McCartney show where he goes back into Abbey Road studios with a small audience, tells some stories, cracks some jokes, demonstrates some recording tricks, sings some songs, and tries to ever so casually promote his new CD, "Chaos And Creation In The Backyard"! A great CD and a fabulous program (made all the more delightful when viewed on DVD with crisp, clear stereo sound, piping out of our large speakers, not the small ones on our TV). This was my second time trough, but in honor of the man's 64th birthday, I figured it was precisely the right time to share it with my girls! A year ago, I couldn't even conceive of daughter Julie sitting still through an hour of Paul McCartney, but oh, how things have changed! No maybe about it--I'm AMAZED!

(And if you'd care to read more about me and the aforementioned Julie, Jim Salicrup had posted his version of events this past MoCCA weekend,. If you can stand it, you know how to use the link.)

Meantime, Julie better getting working on that "Sgt. Pepper" redo for my birthday--that one's no small task, that's for sure!...
June 18th, 2006
Father's day--what a wonderful opportunity to tell your dad you love him--AND indulge in a little product placement all at the very same time!

(And June 18th has yet ANOTHER notable significance--check today's concurrent Beatles Blog entry to find out just exactly what! Do it now because, well tomorrow never knows, do it?...)
June 17th, 2006
I knew that today was going to mark the end of an era, but there was no way I could've foreseen ahead of time just how strangely things would actually play out...

Julie was scheduled to play her last ever intramural soccer game today. She's been a part of the town program for a long, long time--she joined up during the spring session during second grade, and now finally, a week after she made it successfully through the tenth grade, she was prepared to hang up her spikes and shin guards once and for all after one last game. Long time readers may recall that I myself served as the coach for my daughter's team for four years (following a one season stint as an assistant), but the past two years, I've been content to merely watch from the sidelines--MORE than content.

The fact is, she wasn't even going to join up this past season, but a friend talked her into it over the past summer because this buddy wanted some familiar faces nearby--which would've been fine, but the pair didn't even wind up on the same team! And there were only TWO teams that they could've possibly been assigned to! We specifically asked that they be put together, but it never happened, and frankly, that whole situation rankled me all year. But, that matter aside, she played in most of the fall games--it was this spring portion where her interest waned dramatically (though through no fault whatsoever of co-coaches Denise and James, who were always a pleasure for kids and adults alike to deal with). With ten games scheduled beginning in April (but with at least three, maybe four, cancelled due to bad weather), Julie ultimately wound up playing in only two (and attending but a single weekly practice). Two!

And one of those was going to be today, the last game of the season...

When we arrived at the field shortly after noon for the start of the 12:15 contest, I immediately noticed that something was missing--the other team! Seems as if Coach James was well aware that our opponents would not be showing--and, had in fact, actually been disbanded some weeks earlier! He wanted the girls to show up so as to receive their requisite trophies (everyone gets one!), and to play maybe just a little more soccer before summer sets in officially.

But HOW, if no other team was available? The notion of a scrimmage amongst the girls was floated, but at the time, only nine were present (ultimately, twelve of the near twenty players on the roster showed). Then there was the thought of challenging the boys team on the adjacent field, but since, on closer inspection, they looked to be about seven years old, well, that just didn't seem the proper way to go, either.

Then some genius piped up, "Hey, why don't we play the parents?"

I thought if was a gag at first, but guess what? The joke was on me! Because, supplemented by two enthusiastic teen-age boys and the two coaches, about a half-dozen folks who drove down to the field only scant minutes earlier expecting merely to be spectators suddenly found themselves instead semi-willing participants!

Like I said, I coached for a while, so I had done (if not particularly well) the whole running and kicking schtick, but not for several years now. And something I'm learning the hard way lately--things break down a lot more rapidly than they used to. Things, for instance, like my right foot.

A couple of months ago, for no good reason, I woke up one morning and the bottom of my right foot was so sore, I could barely walk on it. Since I also had a rash on the back of my right knee that looked vaguely circular at the time, Lynn insisted I go to the doctor and get checked out for Lyme disease.

Well, the good news was that the doc said, uh uh--no Lyme. He explained away my sore foot with some medical jargon I can no longer recall, but which basically amounted to, don't worry about it, it's nothing. And sure enough, it quickly faded away, if never quite entirely...

So there I was, playing middle defense, and the ball suddenly came my way. I revved the engines, and went after it using all cylinders--and immediately knew I was in big trouble.

No, I didn't turn my ankle--that's a whole 'nother sort of pain. This was the bottom of the foot, and it hurt. My first thought was, maybe I should take myself off the field, but nah, I couldn't do that. I found if I turned it down a notch, I could get by and do my job. I didn't totally muff my few chances--though on my very last play, much to my chagrin, I kicked at the ball and missed it completely! Luckily, no one was close enough to take the thing away from me immediately, so I got another shot, this time successfully passing the ball up to another huffing and puffing parent.

Y'know, I HAD planned to watch Julie's last game closely, but ironically, since she was playing defense for the girls, we never quite crossed paths and I didn't get all that good a gander at what she did. She did complain afterward that she didn't feel totally awake while playing---and did I mention it was a 12:15 game? How we ever managed to make it to any of those many 8:30 games back when I was coaching, I'll never know!....

Finally, with the score parents (plus teen-age ringers) 5, girls 2, the contest was called, and we all hobbled off the field. Coach James offered to treat everyone who played--girls AND parents alike--to ice cream!

MMMM--ice cream!

So we went, we ate, we said our thank yous and goodbyes, and then we went home. After nine years, the soccer era was finally over.

I sat on the couch, put some ice on my foot, and watched TV in an attempt to take my mind off the incessant throbbing. It didn't quite work, but hey, I had to try, right?...

Now it's about six hours since the game ended, and though I'm moving around slowly, the pain seems to be gradually subsiding. I knew today was going to be Julie's last game, but I had no idea that it would also be MINE! Because, from this day forward, it's gonna take a whole lot more than the promise of an ice cream cone to get me out running again, lemme tell ya!

(A banana split? Well, maybe...)
June 16th, 2006
My quirky personal report regarding my day at the MoCCA 2006 Art Festival--not to mention the forty plus exclusive photos that accompany it--was just too darn big to consider posting here, so I've instead put it over on my woefully under used Life Story corner of look!
June 15th, 2006
Earlier today, a fellow by the name of Mr. Rooter (NOT, I suspect, his real name) installed two brand new toilets in our house, and what else can I possibly say but that I'm flush with excitement!

And if this little bit of news doesn't bowl you over, just hold your water--I have something far more entertaining planned for tomorrow! No $#!+, honest...
June 12th, 2006
Several years ago, I was commissioned to produce my own pen and ink version of the Hildebrandt Brothers famous promotional painting for the very first "Star Wars" film, as seen above.

Now word comes that Tim Hildebrandt has passed away at the age of 67.

Allow me to offer my sincere condolences to the entire Hildebrandt family.

And if I may be a tad bit self-centered for a moment, I'd like to also ask whomever's in charge for a moratorium (however brief--I'm being realistic here) on having any more talented artists, musicians, or theatrical folks whose work I've admired from leaving us, at least in the very near future. The current frequency that we're losing 'em is getting to be downright depressing...
June 11th, 2006
Back in 1969, 1970, 1971, there were no comics stores around my parts, or even what used to be known as head shops, either. So really, the only way for me to get my hands on any of the flourishing underground comix of the day was to utilize mail order (and, up until early 1971, fib about my age). While this method worked rather smoothly for me, it did have its drawbacks. Mostly, it meant I had to plunk down my money for material sight unseen. But after awhile, there were certain names that'd jump out at me from the parentheses found on the latest list of new releases.

I knew my cash would be well spent if I saw Crumb listed alongside a new title.

Or Corben, or Griffith, or Spain.

Or Jaxon.

Jaxon--what a cool name! It'd be awhile before I discovered that the artist's true moniker was Jack Jackson. No matter--by the time I learned the cartoonist's not-so-secret identity, the delirious work of Jaxon had long since permeated itself into my impressionable teen-age brain! Whether it was his experimental color work in UP FROM THE DEEP or his richly toned black and white tales found in the pages of FANTAGOR, I always knew I could count on stories that would, in some ways, resemble the mainstream comics of the era, but, in certain other key aspects, would NEVER fit into a Code approved book. I'm not just talking about the occasionally generous helpings of sex and violence, either--Jaxon's scripts often read like EC on acid, with his art resembling the studied textures of a deranged John Severin, combining to make for a sensibility both unique and reflective of its era!

The man racked up a pretty amazing list of accomplishments over the decades--his GOD NOSE from 1964 is often cited as the very first underground comic, and later books like COMANCHE MOON are likewise hailed as amongst the first true graphic novels. Great stuff, no denying it. But to me Jack Jackson--who sadly passed away a few days ago at the age of 65--will always be Jaxon, one of the foremost of a trailblazing group of underground cartoonists whose work would show up regularly in the mailbox of a slightly underage--but always enthralled--reader, back when the spirit of sixties spilled liberally over into the early seventies.

I'm sorry he's gone.
June 9th, 2006
Check today's MySpace Blog entry (link above) to learn about my plans for tomorrow.

More later!
June 9th, 2006
George Kashdan, who edited a healthy roster of titles for DC Comics during the sixties, has passed away. Mark Evanier has posted a thorough recap of the man's comics career, and shares several of his own personal observations and related anecdotes as well.

Me, I'm afraid I've got nothing.

By all accounts, Mr. Kashdan was a very nice man, and I certainly bought more than my share of his books during my formative years. But aside from Metamorpho's debut in BRAVE AND THE BOLD (as well as his offbeat artistic choices to handle both the pre and post Batman team-ups in that selfsame title--Johnny Craig, Alex Toth, George Roussos, Ramona Fradon, Bernard Bailey, Howard Sherman, George Papp, and several others who otherwise never got anywhere near various members of the JLA back in those days), and some of the early red and green-suited Blackhawks (but NOT the later super-powered aggregation), his book's never really caught my fancy. I bought 'em mostly because I was an insatiable comics freak, and there wasn't so much coming out in that era that I couldn't afford the time and money to pick up the more than occasional issue of AQUAMAN, RIP HUNTER TIME MASTER, TEEN TITANS and the like. Still, the stuff was always professional, and it's sad to learn that another--maybe the last?--name found nestled in the tiny print on the first page of so many DC Comics from my ever receding childhood has left us.

Farewell Mr. Kashdan.
June 8th, 2006
I wrote a short appreciation of the late Billy Preston, which I posted over on my Beatles Blog--the link should be self-evident.
June 7th, 2006
There's a new X-Men movie out--maybe you've heard?

So, I'm thinking, perhaps this is good time to share with you my version of the classic 1978 cover of X-MEN #114, pencilled by John Byrne and inked by my good buddy, Terry Austin (I found out the hard way that there's a LOT more detail on this illo than one notices on first glance--nice job, fella!).

Oh, and if you're the type that doesn't care much for sharing, worry not--this one's up for sale on eBay. I predict that the winning bid will be (what else?) X amount of dollars!

And that cover was pure fake-out--the X-Men weren't REALLY dead!

Just like, I'm betting, with box office receipts like the sort raked in already, this AIN'T gonna be the last X-Men movie!
June 6th, 2006
...otherwise known as...
...and in addition to the cover of Harvey's first issue of their long-running series featuring the cute li'l devil, Hot Stuff, from way back in 1957, I offer you this link to a commission I did several years ago of GHOST RIDER #2, a cover that also focuses on a big ill-tempered red guy with horns.

And, assuming today doesn't mark the end of the world, I'll be back tomorrow with more.

All hail Santa!

Ho ho ho!
June 4th, 2006
Yup, that's me.

The drawing was done as part of daughter Julie's sketchbook assignment for her past semester's art class. The smiley face sticker? Affixed there by her instructor while grading the book as indication of it being one of his favorite pieces contained therein.

He also offered this as a comment to her:

"You made your dad look like the Unabomber."

To which my not-quite-yet-sweet sixteen year old li'l darlin' replied, "WHO'S the Unabomber?"...

So you see, Ted, she really wasn't trying to mock YOU!...

Heaven help me, though, that DOES look like me! I'm amazed at my daughter's ability to produce a recognizable caricature in only a few short minutes (this one took ten, if that). I've seen her do it with both friends and celebrities alike (she draws a mean Elton John--and I do mean mean!...), and I just marvel at it. Me, I can't do caricatures AT ALL--and believe me, I've tried!

Whether face to face or from a photograph, I just can't capture the essence of a person the way Julie can (unless it's Ed Asner. I do a passable Ed Asner.). I asked her just what her secret was.

She smiled. "It's simple really. I just find a person's worst feature and focus on that!"

No wonder she got me down with such ease--she had so very much to choose from!...
June 1st, 2006
Y'know, there are just some covers that practically scream out for my skewed redoing, and friends, THIS is certainly one of them!

Yup, just follow this link over to my version, and you'll see how Bob Layton's bloodshot, boozed-up Tony Stark proved to be fine fodder for yours truly.

And yes, here's the by now expected eBay auction posted as well. Stop by, take a look, make a bid! And if it helps you loosen up a little, hey, why not have a drink? Heck, have TWO!

Alcohol and auctions--a winning combination!

(For ME! Heh heh...)

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