Archive - November 2007
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November 29th, 2007
Here's yet another reason why I love the Internet...

Y'see, in recent times, I've taken to hitting the web directly after watching either a vintage movie or TV show on DVD, armed with the previously unfamiliar name of some otherwise highly recognizable character actor whose image had only minutes earlier flickered across my television screen.

I did this again a few night back after viewing a 1965 episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" entitled "A Farewell To Writing". In this one, Rob goes off to a mountain cabin, hoping the solitude will enable him to finally write that novel he'd long been meaning to. Well, all he winds up doing is procrastinating--and going a little stir crazy in the process, enough so as to scare the cabin's caretaker, Horace, very amusingly played by a fellow named Guy Raymond.

So, I Googled Guy Raymond, and as always, I was directed to his imdb--International Movie Data Base--listing, and it was an impressive one (if not all that out of the ordinary for a popular sixties character actor--though he did turn up as Trader in the legendary "Trouble With Tribbles" episode of the original "Star Trek").

What DID get my attention was the notation under his bio which indicated that he was the step-father of Hallie Todd!

I remember Hallie Todd from the mid-eighties Showtime sitcom, "Brothers", one of the very first ongoing original shows produced by a pay cable outfit. The program revolved around three brothers, of which Robert ("Lou Grant") Walden was the central figure, and Hallie Todd played his teenage daughter. It was a fairly decent series, and since we were paying for it, I figured, hey, might as well watch it (and maybe that's why we haven't had pay cable for nearly twenty years--too much financial pressure to watch in order to justify the expense, dig?..).

Anyway, Hallie totally dropped off my radar for a decade and a half until, back in 2001 she turned up again as a sitcom regular--but this time, not as the teen, but as the teen's MOM!

Cast opposite Robert Carradine (son of John, half-brother of David) as her husband, she played the bespeckled Jo McGuire on Disney Channels' "Lizzie McGuire"!
Our daughter Julie was just the right age for this show when it first hit the airwaves, so we gave it a look-see. Much to our mutual surprise, it turned out that the whole family--Lynn, Julie, and I--all truly enjoyed the series, and watched it faithfully for its entire run!

That's right, people--I considered "Lizzie McGuire" appointment television. Wanna make something of it? Those of you who've actually seen the show will understand...

Anyway, I was mildly shocked to find out that the fella who brought firewood to Rob Petrie was the step-dad of Lizzie McGuire's video mom, but things were gonna get even more surprising once I clicked the link over to Hallie Todd's imdb listing.

You know who HER mom was? The woman Guy Raymond married in 1966, a year after he filmed those aforementioned scenes on "The Dick Van Dyke Show"?

THIS even more familiar face...
Millie Helper!

That's right, Rob and Laura's neighbor (aka Ann Morgan Guilbert) apparently kicked Jerry to curb after the DVD Show shut down production and then took up with mountain man Horace, raising the future Jo McGuire together!

And Jo spawned Lizzie (aka Hilary Duff), meaning--sorta--Millie Helper is Lizzie McGuire's GRANDMOTHER!!

Who'da thought?
(Gee, I wonder if there's any validity to the rumor that Britney Spears is actually a distant relation of Pickles Sorell?..)
November 26th, 2007
It's Cyber Monday!!

According to the people on the TV, that's the online shopping sequel to Black Friday, when folks go back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and then spend most of their time on the computer trying to find Christmas gifts for their loved ones!

Well, far be it for to buck such a profitable trend, so today, we're offering up five brand spanking new hand-crafted illos, all of which are currently available on eBay (auction links located at the end of this shamelessly commercial blog entry.

First off, for the Dr.Strange fan who has everything (a full set of the Rings of Raggador, Vishanti Panties, Curse Me For A Novice Fragrance For Men, et al...), we have this:
(A Larger version can be viewed here.)

But maybe the Ditko fanatic on our Christmas list is a wee bit more down to Earth and would prefer a certain webspinner to a mystical Doc. No problem--check out friend Spidey and that group of reprobates known as The Sinister Six...
(More bigger picture available thisaway.)

Perhaps you know a tough guy who maybe, on the inside, is really just an old softie. Well, sir or madam, have I got the perfect drawing for you! Because in all of the comics world, are there any three tougher dudes than Batman, Wolverine, and The Punisher? But, y'know, they've got a sensitive side too--take a look...
(Kick up your heels and take a gander at an even larger version here.)

Then there's the wonder of love--and what better way to bring it to life than to throw a spotlight on the love between Wonder Woman and Wonder Man? Man does not live by Wonder Bread alone, y'know...
(This way for an even closer look at those lips, gang.)

Then there's the sorta love you'll find in a family, which can get a little on the, well, rambunctious side at times. And who's proven that little truism more often over the years than the good ol' Fantastic Four?..
(Fantastically larger version link at your service.)

Admittedly, these pieces don't stuff all that comfortably into a stocking, but they'd ALL fit nicely under a tree--I guarantee it!

So, for those of you who weren't just window shopping, here are the auction links: Dr. Strange and Associates; Spidey and The Sinister Six; Wonder Love; The Fightin' Four; and The Three Tough Guys--go forth and bid!!

And I sincerely hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
November 21st, 2007
"The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus" publicity juggernaut continues apace--here's a link to a short Publisher's Weekly Q&A with yours truly regarding same, conducted by the always erudite--and continuously Krabby Pattie craving--Peter Sanderson! Thank you for helping to get the word out, sir!

For the proper effect it's best to read this next recommendation using the voice of Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog:

Here's a great Jim Salicrup interview--


Lastly, for this life-long New York Mets fan, I'd have to say the thing that's connected to that OTHER team in town that I enjoy most would easily have to be Tom Peyer's always hilarious Yankees blog. This, then--a recounting of an actual dream I had last night--is for you, Tom...

It's early in the 2008 baseball campaign, the season following the Amazin' Collapse. I'm watching the Mets play a home game on my TV. The other team--don't know who they are, they're just the other team--have men on second and third, one out. The batter hits a screaming line drive that the Mets All Star and (debatable) Gold Glove third baseman, David Wright, spears on the fly for the second out.

Only Wright then proceeds to slowly roll the ball out towards the mound, thinking it's the third out and that the inning is over!!

I put my hands over my eyes and groan loudly--as does everyone else in Shea Stadium--two runners come in to score, and then, apparently prepared for this sort of mental lapse by his team, manager Willie Randolph runs out and makes all nine men on the field--as well as the reserves in the dugout--immediately get down and give him fifty push-ups!! As the camera pans widely over the spectacle of a game delayed by punishment, I suddenly realize I'm not sitting alone in front of the tube. Over to my side, in a straight back chair dressed in casual street clothes is the new Yankees skipper, Joe Girardi. He looks away from the action on the screen, smiles knowingly at me , and says, "Gee, I sure am glad THAT team didn't hire me to be their new manager!!"

And then my cat Luigi's meowing woke me up to let him out, my rejoinder to the Yank's newest Joe lost to the mists of my subconscious for all time.

Well, hey--I never said I had a FUNNY story to tell, okay?...
November 19th, 2007
Some new art...
The Punisher, The Kingpin, Spider-Man--and you can see an even larger version of 'em by following this link--assuming, of course, that The Kingpin can GET any larger!!
And dig THESE Three Cosmic Stooges--Galactus, The Watcher, and The Silver Surfer! You'd think the first two would be big enough as is, but go here and (you should pardon the expression) watch how they (you also should pardon the expression) eat up even more space!!
Batman and friends--well, not ALL friends. Perhaps "associates"is a better word. You can go here for a closer look.
And howsabout a little Marvel/DC rivalry action? Generally, my sympathies like in the direction of The House of Ideas, but a sprint between The Flash and Quicksilver? C'mon--no contest! Sorry, Magneto--you may be Homo Superior, but not when it comes to foot race pitting your boy, Pietro, against good ol' Barry Allen, you come up second every time! Examine the enlarged evidence here, buckethead!...

And yeah, by now you should know what's coming next--they're all for sale on eBay--Punisher and pals, Galactus and gang, Batman and buddies, and Fleet feet times two--check the links should you be so inclined to purchase one or more of these quirky little scribbles!

Nice doing business with you!

(..That's what she said...)

(Trust me, I'm behind the writer's strike one hundred percent, but gee, I sure am gonna miss "The Office"--that's what, well, a LOT of people have said...)
November 18th, 2007
Over at The Comics Reporter, it was time for Five For Friday #100 the other day, and with a topic like "Name Five Minor or Obscure Characters You Like More Than Anyone Else Likes Them", how could I possibly pass up the chance to toss in my two cents? So maybe I got a little verbose--that really surprise anyone? Go take a peek at my choices--as well as all the other well-crafted lists contributed by far terser participants.

And wanna see some photos of yours truly--as well as Joe and Hilarie Staton, Richard and Wendy Pini, Jeff Jones, Bill Anderson, John Caldwell, and the late, great Raoul Vezina, among many (okay, several) others--at 1980's Fantacon held in Albany New York?

Well, go on over to this entry on Roger Green's fine weblog, and you're halfway there!!

(Oh sure, since the pics in question originated from wife Lynn's Facebook page, I suppose I could've sent you directly from here to there, but considering all the plugs my old pal Rog tosses my way, I figured the least I owed him was sending folks on a stop-over at his always interesting Ramblin' With Rog blog. And besides, he IS the man who put the "fan" in "Fantacon"! As for the one who put the "con" in "Fantacon", well, THAT'S a whole 'nother story!....)

And speaking of belated thanks, besides Mr. Green, there are a whole buncha folks who deserve my sincere thanks for devoting some of their web content to THIS li'l volume shortly after I announced its impending publication a few weeks back....
Mike Sterling gave it very nice play. John Firehammer and Daniel Best both spotlighted the book using their own enthusiastic words as well as copying over my entire publicity spiel. The fine cartoonist, Scott Saavedra, gave it a swell plug. The fine writer--and personal pal--Todd Dezago gave his cadre of readers the news. H and Mag of The Comic Treadmill, Tom The Dog, Alan David Doane, Gordon Dymowski--they all gave the notion a strong thumbs up in their respective blogs. and the news wouldn't have spread nearly as fast without the help of Tom Spurgeon, Heidi MacDonald, Neilalien, The Comic Vine, and Peter Sanderson! And this aside to Tony Collett who, regarding the title, wondered, "What's the matter, Fred? You couldn't fit "Showcase" in there as well?" Truth is, Tony, I originally wanted to include a subtitle along the lines of "Showcasing Several Never Before Seen Masterworks", but decided it best not to exhaust readers before they made it past the books' name!! But I tried, Tony, I tried...

Then there was this, found (via a modest bout of, ahem, self-Googling) over at Brian Hughes Again With The Comics--not only does he plug the book, but by using some of my old pages (all of which will indeed be included in the Omnibus) makes the case for yours truly being The Very First Comics Blogger!
Thanks, Brian--you appear to be a very, very bright lad! Hey, you won ME over with your theory!...

Thanks, then, to one and all for spreading the word! And my sincere apologies to anybody I may've inadvertently left out of this particular roll call of appreciation--so sorry.

i bring this all up because, well, The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (and yup, that's the link to's own info page) will very soon--if it hasn't already--make its appearance in the very next edition of the Diamond Previews catalog, So I just thought it might be (heh) time to REMIND everyone about it. Guess you could say this is a little bit of overkill--but then, you could say that about a book containing 900 pages of my stuff too, couldn't ya?

Gotta sell us some books, friends, so settle in for plenty of sales jobs--both soft and hard (that's what she said)--between now and our mid-February release date. And who knows--probably after that as well.

Hey, good thing I don't publish an Omnibus every day, huh?...
November 16th, 2007
I watched 1935's "Werewolf of London" last night. Though not held in nearly as high a regard as the subsequent Lon Chaney Jr. vehicle, 1941's "The Wolf Man", I found the tale of Henry Hull's upper crust British botanist cursed with a bad hair night (or three) superior in at least one way--there was a whole lot more werewolf action on display than in the surprisingly stingy big screen debut of Larry Talbot, and back when I was a kid first watching these hoary old monster movies, the creature de jour's percentage of screen time ALWAYS counted for a whole lot! Plus, Hull's deathbed oratory--delivered in full make-up AND with an impeccable English accent--makes for a more satisfying end to the flick than the general, "everything blows up, the romantic leads walk off safely, cue end title card" that would become the norm for a majority of these Universal films.

But that's not REALLY what I want to talk about today. No, I want to discuss a little throwaway line that I nonetheless managed to totally fixate upon from the moment I first heard it--and in fact couldn't get out of my noggin throughout the remainder of the film (or, apparently, the day after, either.).

It occurred about fifteen minutes in. After returning from Tibet, the good doctor is dragged off to a snooty party by his young wife. She soon runs into an old, old friend, and just by the way they look at each other, you immediately KNOW they were once an item--and so does the Doc! When the missus introduces her childhood companion to a suspicious hubby, a loose-lipped aunt (played as perpetually tipsy by future "December Bride", Spring Bryington) happily announces not only were the two longtime pals, he once actually proposed to her!

A feral look plays across the Doc's hairless face, the couple exchange nervously guilty glances, and then finally, the botanist's young bride diffuses the situation by adding THIS salient fact to the discussion:

""I was six at the time. He was twelve."

That seemed to satisfy the scenario's players, but excuse me, did I hear that right--he was TWELVE when he proposed to a SIX YEAR OLD???

Meaning a seventh grade boy was trolling the little girls in the first grade for dates? Really? And this somehow seemed REASONABLE?

I mean, switch the ages, and it just sounds cute, whether it's the girl or the boy doing the asking--a six year old having a crush on someone twice their age is sorta sweet. A twelve year old boy (or girl) wanting to wed someone half their age, though?


Obviously, at a certain point, a six or seven year age gap doesn't make much difference, but between six and twelve? Geez, the whole notion just creeped me out. Maybe the movie's producers wanted to account for the obvious age difference between the two actors, but they could've just as easily had the young lady inform her jealous husband that said proposal happened back when they were kids--NOT when she was six and he was twelve!

So when all's said and done, THAT'S what I took away from MY viewing of "Werewolf of London"--who'da thot?
November 15th, 2007
Well, I finally made it all the way through the three interconnected Universal Monsters series--Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman--and in sequential order, too, something that wasn't possible the first time (and pretty much the LAST time) I viewed this classic horror cycle as a kid back in the mid-sixties, as I was most assuredly at the mercy of late-night creature feature scheduling whims in those days.

Last one up (nor counting "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein" which I confess I skipped ahead and watched back on Halloween's Eve) was 1945's "House of Dracula". At first, I seemed to have very little memory of it, as the opening scene featuring John Carradine as a top-hatted Drac wasn't at all familiar to me. Soon enough, though we were down in the laboratory of Onslow Stevens (and the fact that I IMMEDIATELY recognized the obscure actor by name tells you a lot about the power captions in an issue of FAMOUS MONSTERS can have on an impressionable pre-adolescent), and the camera zooms in on a close-up of his pretty brunette nurse assistant toiling behind a table full of test-tubes and other scientific props.

I'm still thinking, nothing here rings a bell.

And then the camera pans back as she casually walks out from behind the table.


The hunchbacked nurse--sure! Hey, that's something you just DON'T forget--suddenly it was all coming back...

But as the movie played on, something ELSE began to bug me--that nurse--Jane Adams by name--looked awfully familiar somehow , but oddly enough, NOT from anything I'd ever seen her do in front of the camera.

And then it hit me--with her wavy black hair, always in place and always with a sheen, and her ability to regularly pop her eyes with convincing terror, she looked like nothing less than a walking, talking, cinematic personification of an Al Feldstein horror comics heroine!!

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a good still from "House of Dracula" to prove my point, but take a look at this same-era publicity photo and the Feldstein gal directly below it and see if you don't think my notion has at least a little merit, hmm??
Funny what you see (or THINK you see) in those old movies--mid-way through "Son Of Dracula" when the male romantic lead believes he's killed his lady friend and subsequently goes mad, he runs around in a panic for the duration of the picture, his hair tousled, his thin gangly body lithe, making him the spitting image for the pre-Marine, gas-pumping Gomer Pyle back in his Mayberry days!!

Surprise, surprise, surprise!!

Gee, if only Lon Chaney had come off with more of a Frank Sutton vibe in the title role, well then, Gol-leeee, we sure woulda had us one heckuva movie, that's for sure!!...
November 12th, 2007
Got some more drawings to share with y'all!
That there's the THUNDER Agents for you young 'uns--Dynamo's leading the way, followed by Lightning, Menthor, with NoMan bringing up the rear.

Here's a link to a way larger version of the above illo.
And speaking of the THUNDER Agents, who can ever forget the lovely--if somewhat stiff--Iron Maiden? She may have been among his greatest enemies, but I'm betting you the only reason Dynamo never pursued her romantically was simply a fear that, eventually she'd tire of him and he'd get canned!

iron Man, naturally, has no such qualms.

Big, big version here.
Charlton's Judomaster, DC's Karate Kid, Marvel's Master of Kung Fu--all we need here for true martial arts madness is a cameo from Bruce Lee's Unca Stan and we'd be in business!

Panoramic view available herein.
Too bad Mr. A wasn't equipped for personalized space travel--I'm sure he'd approve of this little clear cut issue of black and white, as two products of the fertile mind of Jack Kirby, The Silver Surfer and The Black Racer, meet cruising the spaceways!

Expanded version accessible via this.

And--oh yeah--these are all up for grabs over at eBay, so if you see something you like?...

THUNDER boys; Iron Lovebirds; Martial Artisans; Paul and Stevie of the Spaceways--there's yer links, should you feel the need!
November 11th, 2007
We've got a number of topics to cover today, so grab onto something sturdy, and let's get moving, shall we?

First off, the last word is in on that Mystery Woman from Ditko's Rom--Lee K. Seitz declares it to be Shadowcat (Kitty Pride), and (with a little help from Paul Bourcier of The Marvel Chronology Project) has the proof to back up his claim:

That's the way Marvel's own OFFICIAL INDEX TO THE X-MEN vol 2, #4 (July 1994) has it listed, y'see! So that should put an end to THAT! Thanks, Lee--and to you too, Paul.

Secondly, it's been quite awhile since I participated in one of those "Five For Friday" list thingies over at The Comics Reporter (mainly cuz Tom suspended 'em for several months, and when he did bring the feature back, the question of the week usually went up so late on a Friday--and I usually surf the site during the AM--that I consistently missed out on adding my two cents entirely), but finally, I've had the chance to answer one of the pressing questions of the day.

Yup, I got to "Name Five Senior Citizen-ish Comics Characters You Like."! Go look--if you dare!!

You folks all know by now that I do commissions. Well, I did one last week that I kinda liked and i thought I'd share it with you. My patron requested a drawing of Batman, with a few background elements thrown in. My first few thumbnails strived for a short-eared, Dick Sprang type feel, which would've made for a pretty decent piece--IF things had been working for me, but they just weren't.

Then I recalled his email instructions--he'd urged me to go all "Hembeck" on Batman! What exactly does that mean? Hey, even I don't know for sure, but taking his advice to heart, here's what I came up with...
And here's a link to a larger version of same.

Another commission related tale has to do with a gent named Clive Banks. After purchasing one of my eBay pieces, he engaged me to produce a redo of FANTASTIC FOUR #12 for him. Said artwork is currently wending its way towards his home base in the U.K., and you folks really shouldn't see it before he does, and besides, that's not even the point of this story.

Y'see, in the course of our earlier communication, he suggested I take a look at his website, the link to which was helpfully included in his electronic missive. Nowadays, EVERYONE has a website, don't they? But if only to be polite (hey, after all, this fine fella is sending some of his hard-earned shekels my way, y'know...), I took a peek.


Anybody out there interested in British sci-fi?

Yeah, I THOUGHT so.

Then you simply MUST visit--AND bookmark--Clive uk!! Check out those Databanks!! Phenomenal detail--jolly good show, old bean!!

And me, well, I've become hooked on those Universal Monster Movie collections I finally busted out of their plastic encasements about a week before Halloween. Fact is, soon as I wrap this up, I'm gonna go watch "House of Dracula", the seventh (and final, save for the Abbott and Costello co-starrer) in the Frankenstein Monster cycle! Most of these flicks I haven't seen in over forty years, but I still got as big a charge as I did way back when at hearing Bela Lugosi's sibilant tones waft out of the monster's mouth during the final moments of "The Ghost Of Frankenstein" shortly after Ygor's brain was transplanted into the big guy's body!

When i was a kid, we had something on NY's WOR called "The Million Dollar Movie" The format: each week, one movie would be selected to play twice a day Monday through Friday, and then four or five times each on Saturday and Sunday! One movie! And most of the Universal creature features received this treatment--and with "Ghost of Frankenstein", I made it a point to tune into those transcendent final moments as often as I possibly could! Lugosi's Ygor was enough of a hoot on his own, but dubbing Lon Chaney Jr.s lumbering patchwork patsy?


(And howabout the fact that, just this past week, I had the opportunity to view, in this order over three consecutive evenings, Lon Junior as the Count himself in "Son of Dracula", buried under make-up as the monster in the aforementioned "Ghost", and THEN in the next sequel as the monster's hairy co-star in "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman"? Now THAT'S versatility!

(And in the latter offering, Lugosi steps into the monsters' really, REALLY big shoes, to totally ridiculous effect--seems as if, after suffering blindness from having Ygor's brain at the end of "Ghost", the monster still couldn't see. Unfortunately, all the lines explaining this affliction were snipped when Lugosi's voice coming out of the monster's lips drew guffaws at test showings, so while the monster once again remained mute, left completely unexplained was the over-the-top flailing about Lugosi's sight-impaired Frankie did throughout. Which, out of proper context, looks just plain stupid. Ah, but that's all part of the fun, isn't it.?..)

Anything else? Oh yeah--I'd like to note that I wholeheartedly support the WGA strike; and speaking as a Mets fan, please, no A Rod, thank you very much!...
November 10th, 2007
Old business first...

Thanks to Steve Chung, Lee Seitz, and MySpacers Bob and David, but just as it was last time, Burke was the first to correctly identify those international heroes pictured in that final panel of the Rom page I posted yesterday...

As for those characters in the Captain Britain panel, they are, in order from left to right:
Arabian Knight, who first appeared in a Bill Mantlo Hulk issue, I believe; Le Peregrine is a French hero and the woman in green is Shamrock. They both first appeared in Contest Of Champions in 1982, I think the year was; Captain Britain, of course; American Eagle who first appeared in Marvel Two-In-One annual 6; and Blitzkrieg from West Germany who also debuted in Contest Of Champions.

Hope that's helpful, sir!

Immeasurably, Burke--your word is law! (And THAT arcane reference is just for YOU, Terry!...),

Bob also forwarded along this provocative little nugget concerning Cloud from Ed Coyote..

My recollections of Cloud are that if she wore a T-shirt at all, it was probably around the headquarters. Seems to me that when "at large", she was nude with "clouds" floating around her to keep her decent for the comics code.

Well, that certainly got MY attention--and I figured if I sifted through my old DEFENDERS comics, I'd easily find myself a bounty of peek-a-boo panels spotlighting the aforementioned Cloud, ripe for posting! (Hey, we can always use a little boost in traffic over here at, y'know!...)

This then, courtesy of Don Perlin and Kim DeMulder, is from 1983's DEFENDERS #123, Cloud's debut...
And THAT friends, is about as randy as it ever got!

She (who would upon later occasions, transform into a "he", with the chest-high cloud covering mysteriously disappearing in the process) appeared fairly regularly up through issue 150 before being turned into some sort of cosmic entity (go here for all the details), but was generally relegated to background status, with her near nekkid status NEVER exploited in order to give the audience any cheap thrills!!


Think about it--a totally naked girl floating around with only a wispy covering of clouds to keep the Comic Code at bay, and the folks at Marvel two decades back DIDN'T mine the situation for all the sales potential sleaze that they clearly could've!


But maybe not quite as stunning as this OTHER pieces of art that I came across in that self-same issue of THE DEFENDERS (check the text)...
John Byrne--doing his buddy, Jim Shooter, a favor! Like I said, stunning...

Really nice drawing, though.
November 9th, 2007
You might recall that just a few short days ago, I posted a piece of art from a 1985 issue of ROM that featured a wide ranging assemblage of Marvel Super-heroes, beautifully drawn by the awe-inspiring team of Steve Ditko and P. Craig Russell

it was a real purty picture, and after stumbling across it, I just felt like sharing it with you folks, simple as that.

And that woulda been the end of it too, if it weren't for Jim Salicrup (always causing trouble, that Salicrup...).

"So who is that woman next to Valkyrie and above Mockingbird!?!"
Huh--beats me.

My first inclination was to assume it was a mis-colored She-Hulk, but her grooming was far too fastidious for that to be the case. Besides, when I turned the page, there she was again--and this time, she was tacitly included amongst the pictured X-Men...
(Please note that the above pieces are a pair of panels stretching across the book's centerfold, and my scanner isn't quite large enough to fit two full pages into it at a time, so I've instead stacked two scans. Gee, if only they were larger, then you could see our mystery maiden a little better.

Oh wait--how about we zoom in for a detail?...)
Is it a member of Rom's supporting cast, as Nik ventured? I don't think so--two pages later, a Brandy Clark shows up (side by side with none other than Rick Jones--man, that guy's EVERYWHERE!!), and she's dressed entirely in a red top with white slacks, sports a slightly different hairdo, and even has some dialog! Our lady friend pictured here appears in but these two panels.

My MySpace friend Randy has a notion:

OK, here's my guess. Don't ask me how the holy heck I remember this, but from looking at the pic and seeing as how she is in the same row as the Defenders (Angel, Beast, Iceman, Valkyrie, Moondragon and Gargoyle) my guess is that she is Candy Southern.

She was Angel's girlfriend at the time and also served as leader of the team for reasons that I couldn't fathom then and still can't now. She even went into battle with them, which made sense since she had no super-powers or fighting ability whatsoever.

Burke seconds that emotion!

You are correct, sir! That is Candy Southern. I remember her being appointed team leader in the same month as Heather Hudson was appointed team leader of Alpha Flight. Marvel was making some sort of progressive stance back in the day.

It totally makes sense that she was grouped with the X-Men on the following page as Fred mentions, since the New Defenders were essentially the original X-Men. They just needed Cyclops for leadership but apparently he couldn't leave the mansion.

Bob posted the conundrum on line, and this is what he came up with..

This from Eric Northcutt of the Silver Age Reviews Group:

"The timeline is right for Candy Southern being leader of the New Defenders at the time. However, looking at the other members of the New Defenders present in the shot (Valkyrie, Gargoyle, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Moondragon), I notice only one absence from the Defenders' roster at the time: a young blonde-haired girl named Cloud who frequently wore t-shirts as her "costume". I could see this being a miscolored Cloud."

Me, I was never a Defenders fan, never heard of Cloud before, and only remember Candy Southern from John Byrne's "X-Men: the Hidden Years," so I'm no judge. I put this information into your hands..

But now MY question is, if she was a member of the Defenders, why then wasn't she hanging with her homies on the subsequent page?...
Ah well, a trivial matter by anyone's definition, but fun nonetheless--AND a great excuse to post three more pages of Steve and P. Craig's exquisite artistry! Thanks to all who took the time to participate--and I know it ain't over yet! Just take a look at that last panel!

I recognize Captain Britain, of course, and a bunch of the others were characters Rom-scripter Bill Mantlo dreamt up for some earlier Marvel Olympic treasury Edition tie-ins, but curse me for a novice--I sure can't recall their names!

November 8th, 2007
...and you can read the following fifteen panels of this little diatribe over at Quick Stop Entertainment, as part of the long-delayed, brand-new, 101st episode of The Fred Hembeck Show!

Rated G for genital audiences--meaning, if you have genitals, this one's for YOU!
November 7th, 2007


VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE 1985 ERA MARVEL UNIVERSE (with two notable exceptions...)!!


ROM #65!!

Recently, I was faced with the task of producing a drawing of Rom (the details of which I'll share with you in the days to come), so in dire need of reference, I went downstairs and fished out a pile of ROM comics that hadn't seen the light of day in over twenty years. And with all due respect to ROM's long standing, initial penciller, Sal Buscema, I chose instead to exhume the last seventeen issues, numbers 59 through 75 inclusive, plus the fourth Annual, as these were all pencilled by the legendary Steve Ditko.

Well, maybe "pencilled" is a bit strong--given the wide degree of interpretation the various inkers (or perhaps "finishers" would be more accurate) afforded them, it's pretty obvious that Ditko turned in what amounted to little more than breakdowns. But when you're as distinct and unique a stylist as Ditko was (and is), that''s all you need--especially if you're given a sympathetic delineator to complete the job. For the most part that was the case, most especially in regards to P. Craig Russell, a top-tier talent in his own right, and one who knew just how much of his own touch to add without overwhelming Ditko.

(Ironically, arguably the two greatest inkers of Marvel's early years, Tom Palmer and Joe Sinnott, in what may be their only shots, respectively, at Ditko's pencils, come on far too strong. Palmer's job--#60--is typically lush and beautifully rendered, but so sublimates Ditko, you almost forget he's there--and that sure ain't easy to do! Joe's issue--#73--largely follows a female protagonist, whom the masterful Sinnott gives his typical treatment, but somehow, trying to pretty up a Ditko Dame by turning her into a Sinnott Sweetie just doesn't jell. But it's interesting to look at simply as a curiosity, and I'm betting if the pencils had been a bit tighter, the Ditko/Sinnott team would've meshed far better.)

Otherwise, Ditko's run featured a couple issues apiece inked by Brett Breeding and Bob Layton, and single contributions from the team of Akin and Garvey, Steve Leialoha, Kim DeMulder, Jackson Guice, and John Byrne (!), with the Annual's chores completed by Al Milgrom. Most of these gents did a decent job of it, and Ditko's layouts are surprisingly energetic, often eschewing the nine and six panel grid approaches he's long been known for. Hey, these issues ain't AMAZING SPIDER-MAN or "Dr . Strange", but they're still a lot of fun to take a second look at.

And say, where exactly do you suppose the ol' Webhead and the Master of the Mystic Arts WERE the day Rom managed to round up everyone from Beta Ray Bill to Tigra and Moon Dragon to help save the Earth from the threat of the Dire Wraiths anyway, hmmm?

Well, at least we got to see Ditko draw Starfox and that's SOMETHING, right?



(...Y'know, I'd've settled for a long-shot silhouette of sweet ol' Aunt May, to tell the truth...)
November 4th. 2007
Okay, here's an admittedly insignificant--but nonetheless highly amusing (at least to ME!...) coincidence...

I just read that actor Justin Bruening--who recently left ABC' "All My Children" after several years of portraying Jamie Martin, the college-aged son of one of AMC's long-time central figures, Tad Martin--has been tapped to star in the upcoming "Knight Rider" revival. Starting out as a trial balloon, the two hour telefilm will cast Bruening in the role of the son of the David Hasselhoff''s character from the original series.

The amazing coincidence?

On the new "Knight Rider", young Justin will play the son of a character named Michael Knight--coming directly on the heels of a lengthy stint on "All My Children" playing the son of a character essayed by an ACTOR named Michael Knight!!

Look, like I said, it made ME chuckle, okay??...

(EDIT: Shortly after I posted the above, one of my MySpace friends, Philospher Rogue, reminded me ot an earlier, inter-connected coincidence. Seems as if David Hasselhoff was once married to actress Catherine Hickland (currently seen on ABC's "One Life To Live"), but she eventually divorced the ersatz Michael Knight so as to wed the real thing, AMC's MK! Like Phil says, you can't make this stuff up--thanks, pal!...)

(And one more personal entry in the Department of Television Based Irony, if you will: should the impending writer's strike--motivated, in large part, by the scribe's not getting a fair shake in regards to DVD monies--lasts for any appreciable time, it'll give me the opportunity to finally view some of the many DVDs that have been piling up around here, unwatched mainly because of my constant attempt to keep up with current programming! Hey, I wish only the best of luck to all the members of the WGA--and to ME, finally getting through that second season of "Gomer Pyle, USMC"!!!....)
November 2nd, 2007
Good--I see everyone's arrived for the party!!
Steve Ditko, as I've said repeatedly, has long been my favorite cartoonist. Ever since I first read the back-up story he illustrated in STRANGE TALES #101 at the tender age of nine (me, not Ditko), I've been totally hooked. I wish him only the best of wishes on this, his 80th birthday!

(And if you want to read more of my fawning devotion to the artist--as well as the aforementioned story and two others in their full glorious entirety!!--I bid you to follow this link to a piece I wrote awhile back!)

Ditko rules!
November 1st, 2007
You'll find some new artwork down towards the bottom of this post, but first, it's time for my yearly Halloween post mortem...

Well, despite yesterday being the warmest day in weeks--topping out in the upper sixties, with an evening in the mild mid-fifties--we had by far the worst turn-out of Trick or Treaters in the dozen years we've lived here (of course, I spent the first six of those late October evenings accompanying my daughter roaming the streets in search of sweets, but still, Lynn said things were never this slow). Four teenage boys, dressed very casually, showed up at 5;42 (and because Daylight Savings Time had been pushed back a week, it wasn't even dark yet). I asked them, wise guy that I am, what exactly they were supposed to be, and one of them proceeded to happily lift up his shirt and proudly display some fake bullet holes he'd scrawled on his chest with some make-up--guess that made him a crime victim, huh? Turned out to be a bit too chilly for him to go house to house sans top. Just as well--we adhere strictly to the standard "No Shirt, No Service" policy on all major holidays...

Our next group came along at 7:25, more than an hour and a half later (and yes, I kept track--kinda sad, huh?...)! Four more teenagers, but at least they had proper costumes on. Then, the big flurry: three young kids at 7:44, two more a minute later, our youngest visitor (seven or eight maybe) at 7:50 with both parents in tow, and a pair of blond siblings dressed all in black mere seconds later.

And that was it !

Sixteen kids, six groups, all done by 7:50. Usually we get at least double that, maybe more, all the way up until 9 o'clock. But last night, nope, not even close. I guess the neighborhood's growing older. Like I said last time, Julie was at her Physics class, and didn't get home until after ten. Still, she at least wore a quickly thrown together Cupid costume to school that morning (and she even got her cardboard bow and arrow past the front door without causing any sort of security incident! I guess arrows of love are somehow exempt of scrutiny , huh?...), so that was at least something...

Me, well I made a point of specifically going out to Staples to make some copies that very morning because I remembered how last Halloween all the store's personnel preformed their duties while in full regalia. My buddy Bruce in the copy department was dressed up as a vampire, and when I saw him last week, I asked if he was planning to get all duded up again this October 31st, and he assured me he was.

So imagine my disappointment when I got there only to find him absent--and NOBODY else garishly decked out either!! Bummer. Driving over to the Stop and Shop later, I DID see a teenaged witch sitting outside a Michael's Craft Store, smoking, and hardly looking like she was into the whole dress-up thing. At least the middle aged woman packing groceries in the penguin costume looked to be in the spirit of things--even if the cashier and the customers in the check-out aisle one over were talking--however admiringly--about how suited she seemed to be to portray a penguin due to her shortness of stature and the propensity of her girth! Gee, thanks for the compliments, gang...

Otherwise, I watched "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" for the first time in decades, caught Regis and Kelly's Halloween show in 3-D (using an old pair of glasses from one of my fifties' Harvey 3-D books) (the show was pretty lame overall, and memo to Gelman: shooting silly string at the camera is hardly a cutting edge effect), listened to the commentary track for the 1931 "Frankenstein" flick while I was at the drawing board, and at night's end, ultimately wound up catching Jimmy Kimmel's Halloween episode, which I stumbled across while I was preparing to watch "Bride of Frankenstein", which I never got to cuz i couldn't take my eyes off Jimmy, who did the whole show dressed as Captain Crunch! Hey, it wasn't a classic, but it was better than Regis and Kelly...

Another Halloween come and gone. Should that be "boo!", or maybe "boo hoo", huh?...

Oh, and one of the reasons I went to Staples was to shrink down some illos so that they'd fit in my scanner.

Like this one...
Captain America and Modok.

Here's a link to a larger version.

And then there's this quartet of Green Lanterns...
That'd be Tomar-Re, Katma Tui, Ch'p, and Chaseion. And you can see them over on their very own page by going here.

And they're also up for grabs on eBay--here's the links to the Modok and GL Corps auctions.

Now if you'll excuse me--I have leftover candy to eat. Hey, it's a messy job, but SOMEBODY'S gotta do it!!...

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