Archive - March 2006
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March 30th, 2006
Geez--and I USED to think Superman was such a classy guy, too...
March 29th, 2006
Swell cover by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson, eh? Well, you can see my version by going here.

And if you REALLY like it, guess what? Yup, this shouldn't come as any big surprise--you can go here and bid on my original redo.

As always, your indulgence with my increasingly mercenary ways is greatly appreciated.

More soon!
March 29th, 2006
Every year, Fox's real-time thriller--which, as you probably know by now, allegedly takes place over the course of a single day--broadcasts two very special episodes, and this season, they ran them back to back, specifically hours number 14 and, most recently, 15.

This time around, hour 14 was that rarest of "24" episodes, the one (and I do mean the ONE) in which NOBODY gets killed! Not a major character like good ol' Edgar, not a startled security guard, not some poor sap who innocently walks in on the evildoers' nefarious schemings, NOBODY! Oh, the bad guys DID try to snuff out Wayne Palmer (brother of the--yup--late President David Palmer) in the shows final moments, but he survived the attempt (though barely). All in all, a fine, restrained hour of family television.

Of course, all such bets were off the following week, and this past Monday's episode chalked up an impressive body count, including duped police officers, hapless plant workers, and plenty of (YAY!) the baddies themselves. Why, just for good measure, the fine folks at "24" threw in some flinch-worthy scenes of the good guys torturing--mistakenly, as it turns out (doesn't it always?..)--uber-agent Bauer's lady friend, Audrey, as well as ending the show with an explosive cliffhanger worthy of a top-notch old-time serial.

But that wasn't what made this episode different from all others.

What made hour 15 of "24" stand out was that it was the one that contained this year's joke.

Each year, y'see, whether it's George Mason cracking wise to Jack that hanging out with Bauer usually winds up getting people dead (a season before hanging out with Jack got Mason--well, you know...), or Chloe offering Jack advice on his interpersonal skills (resulting in one of the funniest double-takes ever, courtesy of Kiefer Sutherland), "24" supplies its audience with a joke.


For the entire season.

And this year's gag appeared this past week. There's this new character, see--her name's Shari, and she's the techie taking over for the late Edgar. Chloe (actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, above) soon notices some tension between her and a creepy Homeland Security agent who's recently been assigned to help CTU get back on its feet. She informs Chloe that, some time back, she had accused him of sexual harassment--she couldn't go into any details for legal reasons--but he got off with only a warning. Seeing how this guy seemed to be continuing to hassle Shari, Chloe eventually gives him what for, and soon chases him off, gaining the new girl's gratitude.

Okay, fine. A nice little personal moment. Nothing funny there.

A short time later, Shari winds up providing a key solution to a problem flummoxing both Chloe and CTU head Bill Buchanan, and when the boss guy walks away, he lightly--and completely innocently--brushes her on the shoulder, saying "Good job, Shari" as he departs

Shari flinches, gets a far away look in her eyes, and says to Chloe in a steely voice, "Did you see that? Did you see how he touched me? That wasn't right..."

To which Chloe could only respond, "Huh?"

End scene.

Hey, I never said it was a FUNNY joke! But it made me laugh anyway.

Then, like everybody else, I went back to intently watching the hour's intense events unfold, but afterwards I got to thinking: has there EVER been a sixty minute drama series on television that has as meager a humor quotient as "24"? I don't think so. Look, you got your shows like "Gilmore Girls" and "Desperate Housewives" which are almost half-laughs to begin with, and despite the life and death issues swirling around in medical shows like "ER", there's always the occasional lighthearted banter between the doctors--as well as the deliberately absurd cases--purposely inserted to leaven the proceedings. All the Joss Whedon shows, as well as the various "Star Trek"s, relied frequently on humor. I don't actually watch any "Law and Order' or "CSI" shows, but based on what clips I've seen, at the very least, wise-cracking cops offer up a little dark humor upon occasion. And soaps are always full of yocks--intentional AND unintentional! But "24"?

One joke a year.

Me, I'm a guy who LIKES jokes, but somehow I'm loving "24" (best season yet? I'm thinking so...) despite (or maybe because?...) of the total lack of humor. After all, if Jack Bauer was just some guy delivering groan inducing wisecracks like the protagonist in a bad action movie, we'd have tired of him long ago. And with the producers basically eschewing the supporting comic relief role entirely (Chloe's continual testiness being the closest they've ever come) means that the audience never, ever gets a chance to relax emotionally, because EVERYBODY up there on that screen is taking things so gosh-darn deadly serious!

And y'know, considering the level of chuckles they DO dole out, maybe the folks over at "24" are better off that way, sticking with what they know...
March 28th, 2006
We dip back into the recent past to relate an anecdote of sorts from my visit to last June's Big Apple Con in The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode 54. This one's for YOU, Peter!

Speaking of which, this week Mr. Sanderson goes to the movies, as Comics In Context #126 throws the spotlight on the "V For Vendetta" film. Me, I'm still undecided whether to go see it or not. After all, I still haven't seen "From Hell" or "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", either. Of course, I never actually got around to reading the comics they were based on, unlike "V", which I DID read back when DC issued it. I remember liking it, but that's about ALL I remember. Decisions, decisions...

I appreciate Mike Sterling (of Progressive Ruin fame) for including one of my pieces in his second survey of personal favorite covers. A nice choice, too--a fair amount of my old stuff makes me cringe, and a lot seems just okay at best, but happily there ARE those rare times when I look at something, shake my head smile, and wistfully wish I could come up with a notion as fresh more often. Not to be immodest, but that's pretty much how I feel about the cover to HEMBECK 6 (also known as "Jimmy Olsen's Pal, Fred Hembeck"). Groucho glasses on a wide array of stone-faced super-heroes--geez, ideas like that don't grow on trees, y'know! I'd mostly forgotten about that drawing until Mike kindly reminded me--thanks!

(And after blatantly tooting my own horn, I should point out that my very next Fantaco book, DIAL H FOR HEMBECK--THAT one had a cringe-worthy cover! Worst of the whole lot--blecchhh...)

Oh, and I think I gave Roger Green a link earlier this week, right? So it's probably okay if I skip him today, huh? Don't wanna spoil him, after all...
March 27th, 2006
Over at Tom Spurgeon's site, The Comics Reporter, the results for this week's belated Five For Friday survey (Cancellation Blues: Name Five Comics You Were Sad to See Go Away) have just been posted.

Well, due to some sort of wacky mix-up, my submission wasn't included. Hey, these things happen. Luckily, I still had it in my email file, so I'm gonna share it with you here (and afterwards, suggest you use the link above to go look at what other long-gone books folks are pining over).

So, without further ado, and with no editing, here's my list. Enjoy this brief content intrusion--the now familiar hard sell will no doubt resume soon enough!...

This list is made up of all super-hero type comics, mainly because they're the ones that I'd been conditioned to expect on a regular basis (as opposed to the alternative books, which arrive seemingly more as a gift than a publishing obligation...).

1. Young Heroes In Love by Dan Raspler and Dev Maden (A late nineties DC book that was a unique combination of cartoony animated art, super-hero archetypes, and traditional soap-opera elements, far heavier on the romance aspect than usual. The book was a lot more fun than it should've been.)

2. El Diablo by Gerard Jones and Mike Parobek (This series played like an odd cross between the socially relevant O'Neil/Adams GL/GA books and Love and Rockets--and for me, at least, it worked.)

3.Tomb of Dracula by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer (Unlike the other nominees here, this book had a reasonably long run, and it was probably past its prime when it finally wound down, but I still felt a tad bad that the rock-steady creative team didn't get the chance to siphon a little more, um, blood out of the ol' Count...)

4.The entire Charlton Action Hero line (Okay, I'm cheating now, but I was devastated as only a teen-age boy could be when Charlton dropped Thunderbolt, Judomaster, Peacemaker, Captain Atom. and Blue Beetle all in one fell swoop! Hey, I had a group subscription to all of them--replacement issues of Ghostly Tales only went so far, after all. At least the good news at the time was that editor Dick Giordano would soon be working his magic at DC Comics...)

5.The wholesale cancellation of DC Comics late sixties, short-run experimental titles (Including--here's the BAD news--a majority of Giordano's titles. Most missed were Deadman in Strange Adventures, Bat Lash, Beware The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Anthro, Secret Six, and Angel and the Ape. Why, it was even the one and only time I ever felt bad that Aquaman (by Skeates and Aparo) suffered one of his by now perennial cancellations!...)

As bad as I may've felt when these particular books ceased publication, I usually felt far worse when a beloved creator(s) took leave of a well-established title, so might I suggest you pose a question along those lines in the near future? My top four nominations come instantly to mind...
March 27th, 2006
For the uninitiated amongst you out there, that's Spider Jerusalem, star of the popular Warren Ellis/Darick Robertson DC/Vertigo/Helix series, TRANSMETROPOLITAN.

Me? Well, truth be told, I never quite warmed up to the book, though I tried, honest I did. I read at least the first eight issues or so, and duitifully bought the next eight, fully expecting to read them as well. But then, I had me one of those epiphany thingies--maybe I should consider the idea of no longer buying books that there was little chance I'd ever actually read!

Sounds logical in its sheer simplicity, doesn't it? Well, after conditioning myself for over thirty years to collect most everything either Marvel or DC published, it wasn't all that easy to deprogram myself, lemme tell ya, but eventually, after plunking down coinage for the 16th issue of TRANSMETROPOLITAN, I finally began to come to my senses. Oh, it took awhile--I didn't slash my must-buy list nearly ninety-five percent overnight, y'know. But when I made the decision to stop forking over cash for friend Spider's escapades--along with at least another half-dozen or so titles included in that all-important first cut--it was a very, very important step for me.

"Hello everyone--my name is Fred H, and I'm a comic book addict..."

Hey, who knows? Ten years earlier I may well've lapped the thing up like home-made beer in a Three Stooges two-reeler, but as the new millennium approached, my thirst for new comics slowly but surely began to wane. Which is why I'm offering my entire TRANSMETROPOLITAN collection--issues 1 through 16--up for sale over at eBay, with that cute little illo pictured above thrown in as a bonus! I invite interested parties to go check things out, and encourage you to place a bid if you like what you see!

(Gee, first I unload my TRANSFORMERS collection, now my TRANSMETROPOLITANS--if only Gold Key were still around doing movie adaptations, then surely their version of the Felicity Hoffman starrer, TRANSAMERICA would be next, right? Sadly, it's not, but look for another dip into the ol' "T" box soon, gang.)

(And for those of you who might be interested, I've just relisted my TALES TO ASTONISH #60 redo, now available at an even more popular price! That's right--I shaved some more shekels off the minimum bid. A bargain at any price, sure, but especially now!... ).
March 26th, 2006
Happy birthday, Lydia Green!

If anybody can put a lie to that old cliche, "The Terrible Twos", I'm betting it'll be you! (At least, I'm pretty sure that's what your parents are hoping! Good luck, Carol and Roger--it'll be a memorable year, promise!...)

I was on jury duty last week, but as fate would have it, I was never called in to report (I chose the one hour stand-by method, meaning that I was obligated to report in within sixty minutes upon receiving a call). There was no jury call for anyone on either Monday and Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Friday, jurors with numbers first lower and then higher than the one assigned to yours truly were the ones on stand-by. My number was put into play on Thursday only, but wouldn't you know it--the call never came! So, I've fulfilled my civic duty, all without doing a dang thing! Kinda sounds like the way I handle things here around the house...

Thursday was also the day the men from Optimum Online came by and tried to fix our cable power line problem, only they attempted to do so on the cheap, making a small adjustment up in the box on the telephone poll, and not replacing the wire coming over on into the house as originally planned. Guess what? It didn't quite work. So they came back on Saturday and gave us the new line after all. Nice to be hooked back into things--how we EVER managed with only a single computer, I'll never know!...

Meanwhile, we seem to have misplaced the card reader for our digital camera, which has prevented me from offering up any new comic book lots for sale on eBay. Lynn's gonna pick up a replacement later today, so look for more of our funnybook sales frenzy real soon--not to mention fashionable clothes for your 'tween daughters! Yup, Julie's got the fever! She's been my number one helper in posting our recent auctions, and she wants to hop aboard the gravy train herself, so she's found some like-new clothing items that that she's long out-grown, and wants to offer them up to the world at large (for, of course, a more than reasonable price!...). Let that be a warning to you all!...

And yeah, I realize things here at Fred Sez seem to be drifting more and more towards Fred's Flea Market, but hey, we're just trying to make a few bucks from this website, dig? After all, the tip button isn't exactly working overtime, y'know! That's understandable, though, since I myself don't make it a practice to tip any of the many websites I enjoy totally free of charge. Actually, I feel far more comfortable taking your money if you're getting something in return. So I'll keep with the auctions, and in the hopes of attempting to sustain the interest of those amongst you who have no intention of bidding, I'll try and write a little bit about the item de jour just to keep you reading!

But we're done here , so for now, you can stop reading! Worry not--we'll be back soon enough with another TERRIFIC offer!

(Hah--P.T. Barnum's sure got nothing on ME!...)
March 22nd, 2006
Remember THAT cover?

A sweet little number provided by the talents of John Byrne and Terry Austin back in 1980, and now, if you click here, you can view MY version!

And (yup) if you continue to keep that mouse of yours working, you can also find your way on over to eBay and get in on the bidding to win yourself my brand new askew redo!

(Snake oil not included...)
March 21st, 2006
Now posted, The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode 53. This time around, I showcase several Classic Cover Redos of mine that feature some interesting--or at least odd--deviations from the originals--and I ain't just talkin' squiggly knees, people!

Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context #125 transcribes many of the thoughts and memories comics' legends Joe Simon and Frank Miller shared with audiences at the recent NYC con.

Roger Green answers YOUR questions! (But not mine--I'm still waiting for the Optimum guy to replace our cable wire, and until then, my time at the modem is limited...)

Progressive Ruin shares some favorite covers.

Dial B for Blog exposes the secret origin of the DC Implosion.

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #42 tells the story of the REAL Kitty Pryde, and includes an honest to gosh photo to boot!

BookSteve digs out his copy of Harvey Kurtzman's bio aimed towards kids.

Innocent Bystander is moved by the "V For Vendetta" flick.

PostmodernBarney's Dorian Wright needs to be hired to write a 21st century revival of Life With Archie--IMMEDIATELY!!

Lady, That's My Skull--but yeeps, lady, what's THAT?...

Harry Mendryk has started has a Simon and Kirby blog.

Happy Birthday Al Williamson!

Happy Birthday Mark Waid!

Be back soon...
March 20th, 2006
Welcome, Spring!

Okay, so it's pretty cold here in upstate New York today--no problem. Overall, it was a reasonably mild winter, so I suppose this is just an evening out of sorts. I just hope I don't have to shovel any more snow for a good long while...

The new cable for the Internet hasn't been installed yet, so hereabouts it's still three sharing a modem. Time for me to sneak in a few short comments before it's someone else's turn.

Spent several hours this weekend rooting through about a dozen unorganized longboxes of Marvel and DC comics from the past ten years, looking for books to part with. I managed to put aside four full boxes of stuff that'll I'll soon organize and attempt to sell--and I saw plenty of OTHER books that aren't destined to have a permanent place in my soon to be shrinking collection either.

Julie went on her inaugural skiing trip Saturday, had fun, and--most importantly--didn't break a leg. Good!

Sad to hear of the passing of newsman Bill Beutel. I wasn't much for watching the news as a kid, but when I did, I usually wound up tuning into Channels 7's Eyewitness News, anchored by Beutel and the late Roger Grimsby. Remarkably, Beutel sat at that anchor desk back while I was still in high school, and didn't step down until 2001! Besides the very real loss his family and the world of journalism alike suffered today, personally, it's mildly jarring to have yet another small piece of the background of my life irrevocably chipped away. "Good luck and be well" was the way Beutel always ended his newscasts, so it's only fitting that that's the way I end this short tribute--good luck and be well yourself, Bill.

While not nearly as final, I was also somewhat sad to learn of pitcher Al Leiter's retirement yesterday. Al, who had a nice long--and productive--run with the Mets, both began and ended his career with the crosstown Yankees. After participating in the recent World Baseball Classic, he rejoined the Yanks a few days ago after the U.S. team was eliminated. Sunday afternoon, he came in in relief in the seventh inning, got the first man out, and then departed to the cheers of the Florida crowds, even through they weren't privy to the fact that, going in, both Leiter and manager Joe Torre knew this would be the last man he'd ever face in a major league uniform. A nice way to go out, though I'm sure it won't be the last we hear of Al, as I've encountered few ballplayers more articulate in my many years of following baseball. If he wants a career behind a microphone, I'm betting he has only to ask. Heck, he might even go into politics--and even though he's clearly a Republican, I've gotta wish the guy well!

Lastly, you might recall me recently writing up some rather lame Rolling Stones gags I'd been using to amuse my daughter Julie with. Well, along those lines, regular correspondent Craig Smith contributed the following joke. His subject line read, "Stones joke you (probably) can't tell your daughter". Hey Craig, you don't know my daughter! Yes, I told her, but it DID necessitate some delicate explaining. However, I DO think she's old enough to learn about the rotating NBC Mystery Movie series, so once given the proper background, she enjoyed the gag immensely--as did I! So, without further ado...

Back in the 70s Mick Jagger was a frequent visitor to the Playboy Mansion. One night Hefner was hosting an over-nighter with several celebrities including Mick, Telly Savalas, Gabe Kaplan and Dennis Weaver among others. Sometime in the middle of the night Mick gets hungry and goes in search of a snack. Opening the wrong door he sees Heff in a delicate position with Dennis Weaver so what does he yell?

"Hey, Hey, Hugh, Hugh, Get offa McCloud!"
March 18th, 2006
When I went to bed late Tuesday night, everything was fine. When I got up the next morning, the Internet refused to work.

Initially, I thought it was just one of those extremely occasional temporary outages, the ones that last an hour or so, tops. But when mid-afternoon rolled by and I STILL couldn't get the 'net to work, I called the Optimum-online folks for help. They were actually very nice, and didn't keep me on hold overmuch, but clearly, they assumed a technical expertise in yours truly that just wasn't there. I was asked to unhook cables from routers and modems--and even on a good day, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you the difference between a router and a modem! Perhaps the most memorable moment came when the calm voice on the other end of the line had me disconnect the main wire and then instructed me to "blow on it".

That's right--I had a complete stranger tell me to "blow on it"--and it didn't cost me one thin dime, much less $2.99 a minute!!

it also didn't help.

Stymied, and unable to follow the increasingly confusing instructions (I'm the simple sort, sadly), we mutually decided to abandon our long-distance do-it-yourself attempts at fixing the problem. Instead, I waited until Lynn got home.

After some failed attempts of her own, she had the notion the take the cable wire off the splitter to Julie's TV, and, voila! The Internet was back! Happily, this blog would be able to celebrate Jerry Lewis's birthday after all!

But, come Thursday, service became more and more inconsistent, with sites, at times, crawling down my screen, much as they once did back in the bad old days of dial-up. I managed to get my TRANSFORMERS posting hoisted, but not much else.

Then, yesterday morning, while I drove Julie to school and subsequently ran some errands, Lynn--who works at home on Fridays-- found herself unable to connect to the Internet at all! So SHE called up for assistance--and no, THIS time around, the phrase "blow on it" was never uttered--eventually determining that an actual honest to gosh service call was needed. For today.

In the meantime, the router was disconnected, and only one computer--Lynn's--was hooked into the modem. Julie and I each got a brief turn with our laptops later in the evening, but the web was still slow as molasses from our vantage point, so I for one devoted little time to this exercise in frustration.

This morning, Lynn took Julie skiing--our daughter's first time ever--as part of a previously arranged Girl Scout trip, leaving me at home to oversee the repairs. Not the ideal situation when dealing with computer issues, but hey, that's the way the dice was dealt, dig?

So the guy comes, checks our wiring from both inside and out, and ultimately determines that the wires from the pole across the street have deteriorated substantially, and will have to be replaced. But, he needs another man with him to perform said task, meaning that a return visit sometime during the next five business days will be needed to take care of things properly. Fine. Thankfully, in the meantime, he cleaned the wires as best he could, to provide us with a strong--if unpredictable--signal until the necessary long-term solution can be achieved. Great.

So he leaves, and I try to get on the 'net, just to make sure everything is, as David Bowie might put it, hunky dory--only I CAN'T! Icons are coming up, one saying the signal strength is strong (good!), but the other saying a needed plug-in isn't available (bad)! The technician--a nice enough, friendly fellow--is still parked outside, talking to his supervisor on his two-way radio regarding his next stop, so I go running--yes, literally running--out to catch him before he leaves! I tell him there's some sort of problem I don't understand which is keeping me from getting on the Internet. After he finishes his conversation, he obligingly comes back into our house.

We look around at all the wires and such, trying to figure out just why the modem isn't working. After two or three minutes, a period of time in which we BOTH seem to be equally baffled, he notices that the power strip that the modem is plugging into doesn't appear to be working. A quick peek behind the dresser also shows that while it is indeed plugged into the wall outlet, it obviously was jostled earlier, and it's not quite plugged in all the way!

So he pushes the plug in all the way.

Internet returns.

Job finished.

I felt like such an idiot. Oh, he was nice enough about it--though I DID detect the slightest modicum of exasperation in his voice as he left: me apologizing, him jokingly telling me not to let it happen again. Geez--embarrassing...

But anyway, here I am, back on the 'net--though given the circumstances, for how long and with what frequency over the next few days, I can't say for sure. If you've written to me since mid-week, and haven't heard back, well, there's your explanation. I'll do my best until things get completely back to normal, but until then, I urge you remember two things:

ALWAYS make sure the plug is fully plugged in.

And "blow on it" may not always be the BEST advice to give over the phone...
March 17th, 2006
Back in 1984, Marvel began publishing what had originally been planned as merely a four issue limited series based on Hasbro's new robotic toys, The Transformers.

Sometimes plans go awry--but in a good way, and the book proved to be far more popular than was anticipated, so after the initial four, a fifth issue--and then a sixth and a seventh, and so on and on and on--came out, minus the limited series designation running along the top.

But, all good things must come to an end, even the TRANSFORMERS comic, so when the eightieth--and last--issue hit the stands nearly a decade later, I got a big laugh from the cheeky blurb the Marvel bullpeners plastered above the logo...
Yup, that clearly was my warmest memory of the Transformers. Frankly, even back in the days when I struggled in a somewhat misguided attempt to read EVERYTHING Marvel published, I could never quite make it through TRANSFORMERS. G.I. JOE was another tough one from the same era, but at least that book had characters you could actually look in the eye, not just a bunch of blank faced robots! But, y'know, Marvel was sending me freebies in those days, so, good geek that I was, I dutifully filed the books away, including them as a part of my ever-expanding collection.

Well, guess what? My collection's expanded far enough, and folks, it's time to weed it out! The first to go? I think you know by now--go here to read the details of my inaugural comic book auction on eBay, featuring 97 Transformer related publications! (I THOUGHT I had all 80 issues of the original series packed away downstairs, but as it turned out, I was missing three issues, preventing me from offering up a complete run of the title for sale. Too bad. However, these gaps did allow me to, guilt free, pull out an issue to save for myself. That'd specifically be number 11, which featured the unusual art team of Herb Trimpe and Tom Palmer, a pairing I don't ever recall seeing anywhere else! (I AM letting go of number 33 with the Charles Vess cover, though--yes, Charles Vess did a cover for TRANSFORMERS! My buddy Terry Austin told me he did one too--his very first, no less--but darned if I can find it! Maybe it was one of those three missing numbers?...) But if you're at all interested in starting up a collection, 76 out of 80 issues ain't TOO bad, huh? And need I add that they're priced to move?

(You might say ANYTHING I get for these books would be a profit, since I didn't pay for any of them in the first place, and while you'd be right, the financial scales will surely be balanced when I begin hoisting up lots of nineties era comics that I actually DID pay for, and for only a fraction of their cover price! If I'd had those books better organized, something of a more recent vintage would've gone up for sale instead, but as most of my books from '96 to the present are in a bit of a disarray, it was just easier to pull the toy robots out and use them to test the waters...)

Pardon my rambling. This is big for me. The last time I dumped any of my comics was about forty years ago when I winnowed most of my "funny" funnybooks--Harvey, Dell, Archie, and the like--from my collection. I've always sorta regretted doing that, but after getting into the bad habit of automatically amassing all the books from the last twenty years that I have no real attachment for (it's highly doubtful I'll be selling anything from before the mid-eighties), I sincerely doubt I'll be shedding any tears over THIS particular purge. Still, I've been meaning to do this for well over two years now, so to FINALLY get some comics up on eBay, well, like I said, that's a BIG step for me!

(I sure hope I can sell all these books without having to bag and board them. Since I'm mostly just trying to unload them, it wouldn't be at all cost effective for me to pamper them beyond the normal good care I've always given ALL my books. Towards that end, I coined me a new term for these Mylarless wonders--free range comics. Quick--someone alert Bob Overstreet!...)

I don't know how many of you folks who stop by and read this blog regularly would qualify as Transformer fans, but if you are, go look. If not, well, there'll certainly be stuff going up more to your liking in the near future, of that I'm sure. So, indulge me if you would my hyping these auctions--I'm just trying my best to make some room downstairs, dig?

And no, I DIDN'T forget that today is St. Patrick's Day! After all, isn't it clear what the subtext of this post is, lassies and laddies?

Why, begorrah, what else is it but for me, the gathering of the--

March 16th, 2006
Jerry Lewis is 80!

Wow! Just like Alan Sues--guess we're ALL getting old, huh?...

Not really much more I can add about ol' Jer this time around, major milestone birthday or not. I've pretty much said my piece on the subject these last few Labor Day weekends, not to mention a few previous March 16ths. So, instead, for today's salute, we have pictures!...

Y'know, I sometimes wonder if it's just a coincidence that the two old time comedians I've long been the most fascinated with--Jerry and Bob Hope--were also the only pair of gagsters presiding over their very own ongoing DC Comics titles back during my formative years? (Neither was my favorite--that would've been Jack Benny, even though he never had his own comic book...) Maybe it was the pulp paper connection, as well as the fact that both were (and in Jerry's case, still is), so long-lived, remaining a part--however peripheral--of my world my entire adult life (unlike poor Jack who's been gone over thirty years now).

Whatever--Jerry's still a kid next to the century Hope chalked up. Here's wishing Dean's ex-partner the best of luck in matching der Bingle's old golf buddy, year for year!

So, enjoy these specially selected scenes from the pages of Jerry's nearly three decade long funnybook career, all the work of the incomparable Bob Oksner (except maybe that first one, the sole scan lifted from a mid-fifties issue that still featured Dino as straight man...).

And now, like they used to say, it's time to follow the bouncing ball!...
March 14th, 2006
The latest installment of The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode 52, is now posted over at IGN. It won't take you long to read, trust me, but you might wanna at least go over and check out a new piece of art I did to accompany it.

Let me recommend Peter Sanderson's expert account of several panel discussions he monitored at the recent NYC con. All the details can be found in his Comics In Context #124. Listen and learn--as Peter does--from the words of John Romita, Chris Claremont, Todd McFarlane, and most especially, Jim Steranko! Discover the secret behind the X-MEN logo, and why comics are like vegetables! And how Stan Lee never seemed to read between the margins. Lotsa good stuff here--gee, maybe I shoulda shown up, huh?...

Roger Green? Still posting! GO!

Me, well, I've been in a bit of a writing malaise of late. Not a block per se, cuz I got me the topics to write about, just not the impetus to do so. But worry not--the spark will reignite! It always does! I should be back with several more entries before week's end, so I'll see you then!
March 11th, 2006
I contributed to another one of those Five For Friday surveys over at Tom Spurgeon's The Comics Reporter site. The topic this time was Surface Attraction: Name Five Covers You Love.

Looking at my list, you're not gonna find any real surprises--yeah, they're all from the sixties, and in fact, I've actually done my own reinterpretations of four of the five (three of which are posted over in my Classic Cover Redos section). Guess that means I need to do up the FF cover, and soon, huh?

And that just about (heh) covers things for today!...
March 9th, 2006
Just a quick tip to let you know that I've put up another cover redo for auction on eBay: Tales To Astonish #60, originally by Jack Kirby, and featuring the debut of the Hulk's second-chance series.

Next week, I'm gonna try and get rid of some actual comics! Stay tuned--the wheeling and dealing era here at has only just begun! (But don't worry--we have no plans to discontinue posting lame gags! Let me prove it to you--upon the occasion of having to shoot that apple off his son's head, WHICH Rolling Stones' song did William Tell nervously keep humming to himself?

"Miss You", of course!

But please--don't let THAT keep you from bidding! It's a swell piece of art, after all--and I sure could use the dough! Thanks!...)
March 9th, 2006
Here's something that probably won't come as much of a surprise to any of you:

I like to make people laugh. Or at the very least, try.

Now, given my personality, there's little likelihood of me EVER getting up in front of a group of strangers and rattling off a litany of my jokes, but I DO enjoy the challenge of eliciting the occasional giggle from my family, my friends, and yes, even from YOU, dear readers!

Obviously, my most immediate audience lives right here in the house with me. Lynn, bless her heart, has heard most of my material over the years, and in fact, has been known to anticipate many a punchline. Daughter Julie, on the other hand is a comparatively fresher ear for my gags. So, with that in mind, once I've determined her latest obsession, I gear my brain in that particular direction, and just spew out whatever enters the ol' noggin, good AND bad! (Okay, mostly bad, usually, but as Julie told me just yesterday amidst her laughter as I reached once again mightily for another improbable punchline--which we'll get to later--she explained that what she found funny wasn't so much the jokes, but the fact that my mind even would work in such a manner to as to come up with some of this half-baked stuff in the first place--though once in awhile, I'm proud to say, she'll interrupt some genuine guffaws of hers to admit, with just the slightest tone of incredulity, "...that was actually FUNNY, dad!?!...").

So what's my fifteen year-old preoccupied with these days?

The Rolling Stones.

Yeah, musically speaking , she's been travelling back in time for the last several months, and I for one couldn't be happier! She's actually beginning to appreciate the Beatles as well, but not quite enough to find them to be a source of comedy beyond their music. Mostly, it's been David Bowie and head Stone, Mick Jagger that have caught her fancy in that regard, so that's where I've been gleefully aiming my quips. Sometimes just a lame little offhand remark I make totally captures her imagination, and she finds it far funnier than I ever would've thought possible.

Example? Well, telling her that "Under My Thumb" was really about a manicurist received a far stronger reaction than even I thought it deserved, believe me!...

Then there are the sorta jokes that I personally find inordinately clever, gags whose punchlines are invariably accompanied by the sound of crickets--and friends, I AIN'T talkin' 'bout Buddy Holly's back-up band here! Kinds like the one I told her yesterday...

"Say Julie, did you know that when he was younger, the Rolling Stones lead singer had a secret desire to one day become the head of a large University?..."

"No--why was that?..."

"Because apparently, he always wanted to be known as Dean Jagger!"

Cue the crickets...

Talk about obscure--how many of YOU folks, well out of your teens as you most likely are, get it? (Lynn didn't, and she's almost as old as I am...)

There was this actor, y'see--an Academy Award winning actor, no less (1949 Best Supporting Actor for "Twelve O'clock High")--named Dean Jagger. As a kid, I knew him as the principal on the 1963/1964 high school based NBC drama, "Mr. Novak" starring James Franciscus--and airing just mere months before Mick Jagger entered the popular consciousness..

Oh, NOW you get it, right? Big chuckle, huh? HUH?...


...and Mick, Jaggers both.
As for that other joke, the one that reached a bit too far (yes, even further than that last one), well it went something like this...

Didja hear? Pete Townshend is forming a super-group, featuring himself, the Stone's drummer, and one of the key members of the Grateful Dead.

They plan to bill themselves as

"Formerly of The




Yeah, that's a BIIIIG stretch. Julie didn't much like the content, but she DID enjoy the telling. Guess that's what sells these yocks most of the time--if you're not finding much (or ANY) of this funny, just remember, it'd probably come across a whole lot better if you were actually here. These jokes are a whole lot more amusing if you live with me.

"Live With Me"? Say, wasn't that a Stones track? Hmm--now what can I do with THAT?...
March 8th, 2006
Peter Sanderson reports of his travails at that recent big NYC comics convention, while I reminisce about my more than half dozen past visits to Disney World!

Yup, in a nutshell, that's what's on the IGN menu for this week, and you have only to check The Fred Hembeck Show Episode 51 and Comics In Context #123 to learn more. Both pieces will transport you into entirely different and wondrous worlds, but remember, only mine features a full color photograph of yours truly will his arm snuggled tightly around Jessica Rabbit's waist! Yowsa!

A few words about this week's two hour "24" broadcast. I've seen every episode over these past five seasons, understand, and as much as I enjoy the show, I've become somewhat jaded towards both the wildly careening plot twists and the indiscriminately casual slaughter of legions of extras and featured characters alike, but I don't think I've ever been as surprised, stunned, and moved as I was by the final five minutes of hour twelve the other night. Surprised, because, y'know, I really didn't expect the nerve gas to deploy inside of CTU. Stunned, because when it did, the terrifying havoc it wreaked was far beyond what I ever imagined would occur within the walls of the agency's seemingly safe headquarters. And moved? Well, I went on record last season as not being much of a fan of either Edgar the character, or the actor who played him, but his shockingly unexpected demise, as it played out in the show's final seconds, witnessed by his unrequited soulmate, Chloe, was as affecting a death scene as they've ever had on this show--and they've had PLENTY! Man, I miss the guy already--and I didn't even LIKE him to begin with!?!..

And returning briefly to an all too sad and tragic reality, I feel compelled to add that the passings of both baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett and Christopher Reeve's widow, Dana Reeve have come far too early. What an awful, awful shame.
March 7th, 2006
Today is my good buddy Roger Green's birthday! Rog, please take note of the message above! Enjoy! I'm sure wife Carol and your adorable daughter Lydia will make this year's celebration a spectacular one! Enjoy the cake--and please be careful not to burn yourself on all those candles! Heh...

As always, I urge my readers to visit friend Green's consistently entertaining blog, Ramblin' With Roger. I'm afraid, though, that I have no cute little anecdote ready to share with folks about our days back in the eighties when we were mutually employed (in different capacities) by Albany's long-defunct Fantaco Enterprises--maybe NEXT year. I will say again that I'm delighted that the magic of the Internet has reunited us after far too many years of being totally out of touch! Thanks to these two blogs of ours, guess that's pretty much impossible now, huh? Which is--you betcha--a good thing, a REAL good thing!

And by the way, here's a little nugget gleaned from Rog's info-tainment heavy site--today is also "Laugh-In's" Alan Sues 80th birthday! EIGHTY! Can you even begin to IMAGINE an eighty year old Alan Sues? I know I can't!

I hope Mr.S has a nifty day as well, but whatever his friends and family do to mark the occasion, given his advanced age, I'm hoping no one makes a foolish attempt to sock it to him--he might not survive!...
March 6th, 2006
Oscar show round-up--EVERYONE'S doing it, and we've done it here the past three years as well, so I pretty much HAVE to keep up the tradition, don't I? Well, let's make it quick and painless, shall we?

Jon Stewart: very good. Not Steve Martin good, but close. His monolog was decent if not overly impressive, but his between award quips were a definite strong point. Example: after the night's mind-numbingly fourth clip package had been run, his slack-jawed look of disbelief, followed by his deadpan tip to viewers to stay tuned for Oscar's tribute to montages had me laughing out loud!

Fact is, a lot of the comedy bits worked rather nicely: Ben Stiller in a very visible green suit, Steve Carrell and Will Ferrell in deliberately horrendous make-up, the mock campaign ads, Streep and Tomlin doing their best to emulate the dialog in a typical Robert Altman film, the opening with all the past hosts passing on the job, and even the bit with the animated "Chicken Little" characters who brought up the always controversial subject of the perennial bare bottoms sported by Disney ducks!

Acceptance speeches? I liked George Clooney, who spent his time at the podium casually joking before making a nice little defense of the "out of touch" film community. That fellow from South Africa who won for foreign film showed a lot of passion as well. Otherwise, nothing outstanding comes to mind, but nothing awful either.

EXCELLENT opening animation--Superman, Batman, AND Spider-Man have all joined the immortals of film, apparently. Great set this year, and a workable format made for a pretty smooth telecast.

The bad? Well, how about we make that "the uncomfortable"? First and foremost, Lauren Bacall versus the teleprompter, with the the teleprompter the clear winner? And a musical number set on a fiery stage? That made the following "It's Tough To Be A Pimp" presentation look like a number from "My Fair Lady"! And why oh why would the orchestra cut off the not-overlong acceptance speech of the night's big winner, the producer of "Crash"? THAT totally baffled me...

Yup, I enjoyed it. And who knows--maybe someday, sometime, I'll actually get around to SEEING a few of the movies that won (or were nominated, even )? But please, don't hold me to that, okay?...
March 5th, 2006
For several years before this website launched, and then for a short time thereafter, we used to sell a fair amount of my artwork--cover redos, mostly--on eBay.

Well, for a number of reasons--not the least of which was Lynn not having the time to handle the bulk of the computer related tasks necessary to complete a sale--we haven't been represented on eBay for some time now.

But friends, that era ends today!

We're back, only THIS time, I'M the guy in charge! Yeah, it'll probably be touch and go there for awhile, at least in the preparation phase of things, but I'd like to think I've accrued enough computer savvy over the past three years to finally give it a go on my own. While today's auction is for my redo of Bob Kane's DETECTIVE COMICS #27, as time goes along and I gain more experience and confidence, I plan to put up a significant amount of comics for sale (primarily from 1990 and on up, mostly in priced-to-move lots that'll provide buyers with a bargain and me with some much needed space!).

Later for that, though. We'll keep you informed of our eBay doings, that's a promise (or, if you prefer, a threat...)!

So go look! Bid! Buy! Have the honor of being my very first customer!

(...Gee, I don't think even P.T. Barnum himself could've said it any better, do you?...)
March 3rd, 2006
Bad enough I missed Mark Evanier's birthday yesterday (belated good wishes and such, Mark!), as well as the fantastic fourth anniversary of Bill Sherman's swell Pop Culture Gadabout page (congrats, Bill! ), but without a little prompting from Steven Wintle, I shudder to think that I may've overlooked today's fourth annual International Read A Comic Book Naked Day entirely!

Once a year, not unlike a certain rodent on Groundhog's Day, Mr. W revives his much missed Flat Earth site for a single day, casting a keen light on the ever growing popularity of nude panelogical perusal! And while you'll have to do your own stripping, Steven has, for your comfort and convenience, amassed a very impressive list of links to a veritable treasure trove of free comics currently found on the web! So, off with that grimy Spider-Man tee-shirt, friend (it needs cleaning anyway), and on to the comics!

(And worry not, I remain fully clothed. This isn't, after all, Post On Your Blog Buck Nekkid Day!

Around here we have a special name for THAT happy little occasion:

March 2nd, 2006
Last night, I watched the last three hours of Fox's "24". They had piled up largely due to our recent vacation down south. No time for a thorough examination of the trio of episodes--save to say they were every bit as enjoyable as usual, and that, like Jack Bauer, I really DID buy into Peter Weller's innocent act--but for this observation:

Halfway through the latest hour, we can see by observing a television set in the chief terrorist's hideout that Fox News is covering, live, the departure of the Russian President and his wife from the White House, approximately six hours after he and President Logan had earlier signed a historic anti-terrorist accord. All well and good, save for this one little salient fact: has everybody forgotten that a mere ten hours earlier former President Palmer was assassinated? Wouldn't you think THAT'D be the top story? Pretty much, even, the ONLY story? Okay, maybe you devote a few minutes to the treaty signing itself, but I'd think that, given the grim circumstances, the hail and farewell photo-op might be justifiably skipped, y'know?

I mean, just imagine if--God forbid--President Clinton was shot on the same morning President Bush was scheduled to sign some sort of treaty--do you REALLY think Fox News would cut away from THAT story to cover Bush?

Oh, wait.

Fox News.


Never mind...

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