Archive: October 2009
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October 31st, 2009
A Bone-Chilling Halloween Coincidence!

Okay, maybe it's not all THAT bone-chilling, but I had to hook you into reading this SOMEHOW, didn't I?

Here's what happened: last night, like most every weekday night, Lynn and I watched that day's episode of "All My Children", videotaped earlier in the afternoon. In this particular entry, several members of the cast attend a Halloween party, all in elaborate costumes. Actor David Canary--known to some for his role as "Candy" on "Bonanza", and to soap fans for his duel role here as twins Adam and Stuart Chandler which he's essayed on the ABC sudser since 1983) was duded up in full Frankenstein Monster regalia, which I found extremely appropriate, as his menacing brow (among other features) has always reminded me more than a little of Boris Karloff.
The ultimate point of this particular episode was to spark the memory of (relatively) evil twin Adam into recalling that, in a drug-induced haze, it was he who shot and killed his (totally) good brother Stuart way back in, I believe, March (yes, they DO string these storylines out!!...). That was the Friday cliffhanger anyway--I wouldn't be at all surprised if Monday brought along some additional sort of stalling action to string this whole ungodly storyline along even longer.

Well, that was that, I thought--now it was time to get at that Boris Karloff marathon TCM had been running (one so long, I needed two full tapes to capture the ten flicks I wanted to see). I grabbed the first of the two tapes, and totally at random, cued up the fourth and final of four films residing on said tape.

The movie--which I'd never seen before--was "The Black Room" (1935).
And here's the plot:

Boris Karloff plays twins, Gregor and Anton. Evil twin Gregor eventually kills good twin Anton, and then attempts to assume his identity--tragic results ensue!!

It was like watching 26 years worth of the Chandler brothers condensed into 70 minutes!! Because yeah, you KNOW Adam and Stuart pulled similar switcheroos many a time in the past, though always for far less nefarious reasons!!

Pardon me for being stunned, but I mean, what were the odds of me watching two such overlappingly similar scenarios--both led by men known for donning the Frankenstein make-up--back to back without any clue as to planning to? Spooky? Okay, maybe not so much, but odd. Definitely odd.

("The Black Room", by the way, was actually very entertaining. ANY movie where Karloff gets a chance to speak more than a few lines is well worth watching, and this one is double--or dare I say triple--the fun!! Here's your ticket to a YouTube posting of same.)

If you want to see David Canary in full make-up, here's a segment of yesterday's AMC posted on YouTube (with the added bonus of viewing Susan Lucci dressed up as a Gothic vampiress!).

And hey, don't forget to tune in Monday to see how they can avoid wrapping things up!! Now THAT'S what I call scary!!
October 27th, 2009
Con Appearance Alert!!

Yours truly will be among the featured guests at this Sunday's Albany Con 4 (alongside such worthies as Herb Trimpe, Ron Marz. Joes Sinnott and Staton, amongst plenty of others), running from 10 am 'til 4 pm on the day after Halloween, November 1st (don't forget to reset your clocks and fall back an hour the night before, gang). This'll be my third go-round with the fine folks who stage this event, and if it's anything like the previous two (and why shouldn't it be?...). it's certain to be a fine time for all!!

Follow this link for further info, Upstate NYers!!

Before I head off on the (relatively) short two hour jaunt, we've a few more illos to hawk, if you don't mind. To wit...
The Original X-MEN!!
A Rubbery Triangle--REED, SUE, SUBBY!!
You can get a closer look by clicking the images above.

And you can access our current Ebay auctions by going here.

Me? I'M going to Albany!! See you there!!
October 23rd, 2009
So long, Soupy.

My small-screen mentor, my long-time inspiration, the lessons I learned glued to the set, watching his show daily still remain while whatever transpired on those self-same days in my junior-high classes have long since faded from memory.

It wasn't necessarily Soupy's material that sparkled but the absolutely joyful--and infectious--manner in which he delivered it. THAT was his particular brand of genius. After all, if Soupy himself was having so much fun, how could we viewers help but not join in?

You'll be sorely missed, funny guy.
October 20th, 2009
Halloween beckons, Part Two!

Just in time for October 31st, the PERHAPANAUTS HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR #1 is lurking in comics stores nationwide right now! The above panel opens the first of three stories, a little 7 page ditty called "Choopie's Halloween", a tale written by Perhapanauts co-creator Todd Dezago and drawn by (drum role, please...) ME!! (With mood-enhancing hues provided by Mike Thomas).

It was a lot of fun working with my long-time pal Todd, and I think you should all treat yourselves to copy of this frightfully fun-filled issue--trust me, a trick this isn't!! There's also an episode nicely illoed by Rich Woodall and and Ken McFarlane, as well one crafted by Todd's usual artistic partner, Craig Rousseau! There are also lovely covers and pin-ups by the likes of Matt Pott, Francesco Francavilla, Lauren Monardo, and the legendary Mike Ploog!! C'mon--how can you go wrong? And unlike candy corn, it won't stick between your teeth!!

You can find more about Todd and Craig's Perhapanauts by going here!!

Thanks for asking, old friend--and I'm already getting excited about the possibility of a big ol' Perhapanauts Arbor Day Special!! I'm always looking to branch out, so I'm really rooting for it, y'know?...

(Okay, I'll leaf you alone now. Go buy the book, folks--you won't be disappointed. I'm not playing you for saps, honest...)
October 18th, 2009
Halloween beckons!
So howsabout some October 31st inspired illos (followed by a few superheroes, for all you traditionalists out there...)?..
FRANKENSTEIN and his lovely (?) BRIDE!!
FANTASTIC FOUR and Associates!!
To get a closer look, simply click you mouse over any of the above illos.

And for access to our Ebay auctions, merely follow this link!!

More soon!
October 15th, 2009
Lynn and I took a little jaunt up to see Julie this past weekend while her school was on an extended Columbus Day break. Coming mere days after returning from our visit to Ohio, this only meant more driving, driving, driving--especially since we were going to use our daughter's college town as our home base for a trio of day trips, all between and hour and an hour and a half's drive away. But seeing as how this was planned even before we accepted Mid-Ohio Con's invitation, well, the trip must go on...

Arriving after a five hour trudge through rain and construction delays on Saturday, we gathered up our offspring and boyfriend Alec, and set out for a long languorous--and enjoyable--dinner with an old grade-school chum of Lynn's named Leigh.

The next morning, we drove to an amusement park at Darien Lake, not far from Buffalo. This leg of the trip was intended specifically to delight Julie, who's a big fan of rollercoasters, of which Darien Lake boasted a half-dozen. Alec, not comfortable with heights and never having rode a rollercoaster previously, nonetheless accompanied our little girl on each and every ride, apparently because he's a big fan of Julie. Me? For the past 19 years, I've done practically every thing my kid has asked of me, with a single, steadfast exception: NO rollercoasters!! My string of refusals remained intact, I'm happy to report. In all, a good--if chilly--day. (I shoulda brought a heavier jacket along, but a few mild days hereabouts fooled me into thinking it was still summer.)

Dinner buffet at the Ponderosa was plentiful, if not notable.

Monday, we drove to Ithaca to learn a little at the Museum of the Earth. Not a particularly large institution--albeit a nicely assembled one--we were finished with our lesson after about two hours. There was still nearly two hours until the famous vegetarian restaurant, Moosewood, opened for business, so we chose to spend the intervening time window shopping throughout Ithaca Square. After awhile, Alec and I tired of looking at over-priced knick-knacks (half of which appeared to be bongs), so we sat outside while the ladies went inside yet another store, leading to an oddly memorable moment. A young fellow with a large valise sauntered over and asked if he could sit down next to us. Sure, Alec said, knock yourself out, and shortly after he settled in, he then got up, came over to me, nervously pulled out a wad of cash, and asked if maybe we could do him a favor. He mumbled, so I never did get an idea of what exactly he wanted us to do, but I told him we were tourists waiting for a couple of people, and he'd be better off for looking for help elsewhere. He paused for a second, looked mildly angry, spit a loogy onto the sidewalk, and then walked wordlessly off. But the food at Moosewood was--just as we remembered it from two years back--exquisite!

Tuesday, we drove along a Finger lake, up through Watkins Glen, and ultimately to Corning to visit the Corning Museum of Glass. I'll admit, I didn't expect all that much--glass? Really?--but was I ever wrong! We were there the entire afternoon, and could've easily stayed twice that time, had the hours been longer. One part of the museum is devoted to Innovations, which is not unlike a really cool Epcot exhibit, with hands on stuff and live demos, and then there's whole other sections focusing on the history of glass as well as modern glass art. It may sound sorta dull, but trust me, it's not. Afterwards, we found a very nice Indian restaurant that inexplicably kept us waiting nearly an hour to bring us our food--and honestly, they weren't all THAT busy!! Ah well, a fine day.

Following a quick breakfast at Tim Horton's with Julie Tuesday morning (after checking out of our motel, a swell little place that suffers from--horrors!--no wi-fi!), we drove home during a sun drenched day with no traffic snare-ups--

And then I got up today with a cold and no voice, along with snow in the afternoon!! SNOW!! On October 15th!! It's not unheard of for it snow in these parts before Halloween, but the last time I can remember it happening was several years before Julie was born!

But the GOOD news of the day?

NO driving!

Glory be, my lead foot sure needed a rest, no doubt about it...
October 9th, 2009
For Good Or Illo...

What say we look at some new drawings, hmm?

Our first trio represents a bit of a theme--Spider-Man teamed up with several Charlton characters who also share with The Amazing One the legendary Steve Ditko as their visual designer.

Following that are a few random pieces, and we finish up with Justice League 1987, featuring all the members cover featured (save for Oberon) on the now-iconic first issue cover of the group's relaunch.

So...GO LOOK!!
Click the drawings to see 'em larger!

And go here if you'd care to participate in our current Ebay auctions and perhaps purchase a piece (or three)!

Well, that's all for now--see ya!
October 8th, 2009
A Whole 'Nother Twilight...

I would've totally overlooked the generically titled "Twilight Of Honor" on TCM a week or so back if Facebook friend Gary John Reynolds hadn't brought it to my attention. This 1963 release is a treasure trove of familiar small screen faces (and a few big ones as well), all wrapped up in (for its time) a provocative courtroom drama.

The movie stars (in his first leading role) then-current television heartthrob, Richard Chamberlin, and features Claude Rains (in his next to last screen appearance), Nick Adams (Oscar nominated as supporting actor for his efforts here), Joey Heatherton, Linda Evans (both in their big screen debuts, with the former's status splashed blatantly across the opening credits, and the latter's merely an undistinguished bit part), James Gregory, Pat Buttram, Arch Johnson, and professional old man Burt Mustin, amongst many others.

The plot? Well, let's see if I can describe it to you in terms long-time TV Guide subscribers would understand...

Dr. Kildare is given the seemingly impossible task of defending Johnny Yuma, the Rebel, who's confessed to killing Mr. Haney after being picked up hitch-hiking. With advice from The Invisible Man, Shogun mounts a defense that shows--despite testimony from Camp Runamuck's Commander Wivenhoe--that the Rebel attacked Gene Autry's former's associate for bedding his trashy--and willing--wife, the Merry Mailman's daughter (much to the chagrin of the deceased's offspring, Krystle Carrington), the case pitting him against tough prosecutor Inspector Luger eventually going his way, as he discovers when Gus the Fireman announces the jury's final decision!

The one other thing that struck me about this movie was it's opening five minutes--filmed in B&W, it features an angry mob waiting for Nick Adams' arrival at the courthouse, and with it's motorcades, men in ten gallon hats, and milling crowd, it looks eerily like the news footage surrounding both the JFK assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald's subsequent killing, both of which occurred not long after this film was completed. Creepy.

As a film, it's not bad, as the true story unfolds nicely. Chamberlin is a bit stiff (especially outside of the courtroom) but the rest of the cast--especially Adams and Heatherton--acquit themselves nicely. Nowhere near a classic, "Twilight of Honor" is nonetheless a nice slice of early sixties social drama, replete with plenty of TV stars!!

Check out the film's original trailer here (3:01).

Thanks for the tip, Gary!!
October 7th, 2009
Far From Middling!!

576 miles is an awful long way to drive for something, but considering the sort of reception I received this past weekend by attendees of the 2009 Mid-Ohio Con, even double that mileage would've made for a worthwhile trip (well, almost...)!! (For the record, it was an eleven hour trek getting there, nine and a half returning home, the disparity caused by some crawl-inducing construction and several hours of a steady rain on the way, both of which were handily avoided whilst heading back to New York). Promoters James Henry and brother Bill couldn't have been more generous and accommodating--unless they'd've cut up my vegetables for me at dinner, but hey, that's what I brought Lynn along for!!! (JOKING!! I carve my own cauliflower--honest!...)

Our hotel--as well as several others--was connected via long hallways to the massive Convention Center, meaning we never had to set foot outside the entire time. We DID have to walk half a mile to get to the show--which meant in my case, pushing an old garden cart salvaged from my late folks home that had been sitting unused in our own garage for years, loaded to bear with books to sell!! Hey, who SAYS cartoonists don't get their exercise?...
One of the cleverest giveaways handed out at the show was a Spider-Man mask based on the ubiquitous image of the Webhead that graced Marvel's Direct Sales books for many years several decades back. Also among the freebies was a poster and program booklet featuring a nicely colored version of my take on Mike Zeck's cover to the first issue of MARVEL SUPER-HEROES: SECRET WARS, insuring that I'd eventually apply my John Hancock to paper more times in a single weekend than the REAL JH scrawled his across parchment in a single year!! Fact is, between non-stop sketching and frequent signing, I don't think I've ever been quite so busy during a convention appearance--I arrived at my table at 9:50 on Saturday and didn't leave until the show closed for the day at 6 (no, not even for THAT--I'm part camel, don'tcha know?...). I never got tired, though, cuz everybody was so doggone nice to me, and folks, that goes a long, long way towards warding off fatigue!! (Though after several days of being repeatedly told how wonderful I was, it was a bit of a let-down Tuesday to not be stopped by a single person for an autograph at the local grocery store. Sigh--fame sure is fleeting...).
Then there was Joe Merlo.

He was my own personal bonus thrill. Y'see, we had gone to college together way, way back when--first at SUNY Farmingdale, then later at SUNY Buffalo--and we were best buds, especially while both commuting to the former, Long Island based institution. But, as often happens, we fell out of contact--completely. Up until a few short months ago, our last communication had been thirty full years ago (and remind me to tell you sometime how Joe's last visit caused me to be fired from my then job--inadvertently, of course...), but after being united by Linked In (frankly, the only worthwhile thing I've gotten out of that particular site), Joe made it his business to drive three and half hours from his home in Indianapolis to attend his first ever comics con and hang out for awhile with his old pal (in addition to seeing son Joey, conveniently living in Columbus, who later stopped by the show as well--and who turned out to be a swell young fellow).

Truthfully, when you don't see someone for three decades, there's gotta be some concern that the whole reunion thing could turn awkward--that concern, plus knowing I wouldn't be able to afford Joe my undivided attention due to my con duties, caused me some mild trepidation. That all melted away--just like the years--when Joe showed up, and it soon felt like we'd last spoken the previous week, not the previous century!! He pulled up a chair and we chattered on about old times while I scribbled out my skewed versions of character after character--Captain America, Yoda, Brother Voodoo, Fin Fang Foom, Amethyst, a Transformer, Jack of Hearts--our conversation continually put on hold whenever one of the paying customers requested a few words with yours truly. Joe understandably took all the stops and starts in good humor, and even engaged several folks with tales of Hembeck of yore (though my favorite moment came when, mistaking Joe for one of the exhibitors, a fellow promoting an upcoming con stopped by the table and directed his sales pitch specifically towards the first time attendee, with his cherry on top being the possibility of an appearance of Kid Rock at the show!! Joe just played along with the whole thing, but I couldn't help but laugh--unless my old friend's musical tastes have changed severely, I don't think the prospect of a Kid Rock cameo is gonna lure him to his SECOND ever comics con!!)
I suppose my one regret was that, being so busy, I never got out from behind the table to say "hello" to my fellow guests on Saturday, and only had a brief chance to do the same on Sunday (including missing out on checking in with my one-time Catskills neighbor, Bernie Wrightson--though Lynn DID make it over to say "hi"). However, I did get to meet and hang out a bit with Ben and Tracy Eller, a delightful couple whose World of Strange tee-shirt booth was located directly across from my table.. Several people who'd previously only been names on the 'net stopped by, among them BookSteve Thompson and his happy li'l family; Jerry Hillegas, one of my earliest commission customers; Craig Smith, better known to me by his email handle of mccorvair; and talented cartoonists like Bruce Crislip, David Aikins, Thom Zahler, and writer Wayne Osborne. I know I'm very likely forgetting more than a few somebodies--my humble apologies, cuz I love you ALL!!.

But I sure couldn't forget Chris Giarrusso!! It was great to meet this very talented young fellow--his G-MAN book is one of the most entertaining things I've had the good fortune to read in quite some time, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking something that's both clever and fun!! Nice job, Chris!!

I also got to meet Maggie Thompson face to face for the first time, and to speak with Tony Isabella as a fellow creator after briefly meeting the Cleveland legend back in my fan days at the 1976 Marvel Convention. A quick hello to Mike Grell (accompanied by my fellow upstate NYer, Scott Kress) was pretty much the extent of my other contacts, save for some extensive time spent at Saturday evening's after hours party first with Joe Rubenstein (whose caustic humor provided many a highlight during my initial con going days back in the early eighties), and later, Herb and Patricia Trimpe (pilot Herb gave me an impassioned and detailed spiel that ALMOST convinced me to try flying again--almost...).

And then there was Mark Evanier.

I'm chagrined to admit that I ducked not one but two opportunities to dine with Mark and his group (including the lovely Carolyn, whose delightful acquaintance I at least had the chance to make), the first night because the plan was to leave at 7:30 for eats, though the con-sponsored shindig began at 8, which I had solemnly promised to attend; the second day cuz seafood was the menu of choice, which wife Lynn is extremely allergic to (and I'm not particularly fond of myself, likely in a sort of subconscious simpatico situation with the missus). But I did spend some time with Mark up on stage, sharing a dais with Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and Tony Isabella, as he questioned us all about Tales of the Marvel Bullpen. Inasmuch as everyone else on the panel had, at one time or another, worked in some editorial capacity for the company--and yours truly had merely visited their various offices all of three times--I was a wee bit miscast as a member of the forum. No matter, though--I'm not an eager public speaker in any event, so this afforded me a chance to keep my comments to a minimum and instead reflect on the rather surrealistic situation of sharing a stage with several of the key driving forces behind the comics that, in the early seventies, served as palpable inspiration for me to get into the comics biz in the first place!! How well I remembered the days of Marvel's cost cutting measure of printing one page of art across two pages, only from the vantage point of a disgruntled fan, not the frustrated--and ham-strung--formers editors I found myself all these years later sharing a stage with as they discussed the ill-advised mandate!! Y'know, if I'd told Joe Merlo where I was gonna wind up thirty plus years later during a break in Mr. Gladwish's Design class, well, I don't think either of us woulda believed it...

Besides putting in an hour with the esteemed Marvel vets, I did charity sketches for sixty minutes at the HERO booth, and later, situated a few feet away from con founder Roger Price--who was providing announcements for the show--I took my turn on a makeshift stage, cobbling together a large illo of the Fantastic Four for a latter-day auction.
After that, it was back to my table for the duration, and though Sunday was, as is the tradition, slower than the opening day, I was never at a loss for something to do or someone to talk with for very long!! it was a truly wonderful weekend, one Lynn and I will never forget, and again, thanks to each and every one of you who made it so very, very special!!

(I think I'd better quit now, before I go all Sally Field on you!...)

(And for some further pics, here's a link to Lynn's Facebook Photo Album of the Con, accessible to all.)
October 6th, 2009
The Following Is TRUE, So Help Me Ferdinand And Isabella (Queen, Not Tony...)!!

Sunday evening, after this year's Mid-Ohio Con had finally closed up shop (about which, more in a day or so), Lynn and I walked to a restaurant located directly across the street from where we were staying. Since we'd already loaded up on the complimentary chips, salsa, popcorn, nuts, celery and carrot sticks offered by our hotel (WHO can say no to free food? It takes a stronger man than moi, that's for certain...), we weren't especially hungry, so we each simply ordered a soup and salad combo. It was all pleasant enough--though hardly noteworthy--until the check arrived.

The total for our last dinner consumed during our first ever visit to the fine city of Columbus?


No, I'm NOT kidding!! Trust me, I wouldn't make up something so silly--but since it's REAL, it's NOT at all silly! It's--it's--it's--

Well, I don't quite know WHAT it is, but it was all I could do to not let out a big ol' squeal of delight when my peepers got a gander at the historic total!!

Cuz, y'know, that's just the kinda guy I am!!

More tomorrow!
October 2nd, 2009
Time To Hit The Road, Jack (and Jill)!!
We've got the in-laws firmly ensconced at the house--so as to feed kitties Mario and Luigi and collect the mail, among other tasks--as Lynn and I hit the road, with a mere 10 to 12 hours of driving ahead of us (yeesh...) before finally arriving in the middle of Ohio!! And that, folks, is when the fun REALLY begins!!

AND the blogging stops. Pardon the next few days worth of radio silence--once sufficient breath is caught, we'll be back here early next week! Talk to ya then!!
October 1st, 2009
Time's Running Out!!
No time for a proper blog entry today, sorry!

(Who knew this whole leaving the house thing could be so complicated and time-consuming? But fun. I'm certainly expecting fun!...)

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