Archive - September 2005
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September 30th, 2005
Last day of the month. As per usual, then, short post.

It's also Friday, meaning time to fill out my entry for this week's Five For Friday over at the The Comics Reporter. This week's query:

Men Behind Desks: Name Five Important Figures in Comics Not Primarily Creators

A bit of a dry category, admittedly, so I tried my best to glitz it up just a teensy. Go look, and then add your own list.

While you're there, I suggest you take a look at a piece Tom Spurgeon wrote called "What Happened On September 28". It's a personal recollection, expertly written, of some horrific events that touched Tom's life two decades earlier. Once you read it, you're not likely to forget it.

On a happier note, there's a long, NEW YORK magazine cover profile of Conan O'Brien on line. If you're a big fan of the late night host--as I am--you might want to take a gander. Nothing particularly revelatory--save for a potentially brewing rivalry with John Stewart--but interesting nonetheless.

See you in October!!
September 29th, 2005
We've received a mildly quizzical reaction from...certain quarters, regarding our recent apparent preoccupation with fifties' era male cartoon characters coyly bathing (see September 24th and September 26th entries). Not that we feel the need to justify our decision to run said illos--at, we're secure in our sexuality (and isn't THAT a sentence you folks never expected--nor even WANTED--to read here?...), but we ARE always interested in providing a balance.

So, with that in mind, allow me to share with you the first three examples of what hopefully was an ongoing series of gags, all found in the first volume of Fantagraphics delightful new publishing venture, HANK KETCHAM'S COMPLETE DENNIS THE MENACE, 1951-1952.

Behold--the hottest mom to debut in the funny pages during the waning days of the Truman Administration, Alice Mitchell, trying time and again to take a nice, relaxing bath. TRYING...

(Okay, Roger?...)
There were a smattering of nude pictures of Dennis in the book as well, but THAT we're just plain not gonna get into, okay?...

Regarding Don Adams, Steve Ditko, and the GET SMART comic book (which we were talking about yesterday), Mark Evanier has a terrific entry about the Dell comics adaptation here, and maybe an even more amazing follow-up concerning Mr. Ditko's specific contribution here. Now, I fully realize that if you read my blog, odds are extremely high that you also read Mr. E's, too (would that the opposite were true as well. sigh...), so I provide these links mostly--and selfishly--for my own future reference. Truly, THIS is the sort of minutia I thrive on! Thanks Mark!

And finally, leave it to the mysterious cabal collectively known as SUPERFRANKENSTEIN to add their typically twisted take to the ongoing gagfest inspired by the passing of the man once known as Maxwell Smart, offering another, as yet unmined, variation.

I shouldn't have laughed.

I did.

Will you?...
September 28th, 2005
Last week, over in my little corner of the IGN Comics website, we learned how a Gold Key comics adaptation of a movie featuring the thespianic talents of a young Don Rickles actually caused me some uncomfortable late night moments. Well, with the 29th episode of The Fred Hembeck Show, I'm almost embarrassed to admit we manage to top that, as I relate the tale of the TV show that once haunted nine year old Little Freddy.

WHICH show?

Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn't it? Let me merely leave you with two words (or actually, one would repeated twice, but you know what I mean...):

"Ooo! Ooo!"

Go! Details a'plenty...

In the meantime, let's see--I already plugged Peter Sanderson's latest a few days ago, so I can skip that. Roger Green? Nah--I link to him every week. Think I'll pass this time around. (D'oh! Too late!...) Greg Burgas' links? Well, okay--and who knows? Maybe some week, I'LL even make the cut on his Sunday round-up (pardon me--I'm needy, okay people?). But what could I come up with today that might be a tad bit out of the ordinary?...

Hey, howabout this--Pete Von Sholly's new eBay store, the VonShollywood Emporium? Pete's got all sorts of cool stuff for sale including his entire line of books and a new Lovecraft print series featuring 20 images from the bizarre fantasy epic, THE DREAM-QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH--which sorta looks like ol' H.P.'s twisted version of "The Lord Of The Rings"! Check it out--and better yet, send a check out to Pete! And tell 'im Fred sent ya!

Sleestak posts some interesting Steve Ditko studies of the late Don Adams, done for the old GET SMART comic (a book which, despite being a fan of both the show AND the artist, I somehow missed when it came out and never managed to get a hold of in all the years since.). From what I have seem, though, it's some of Ditko's very best work, rivalling even his SPIDER-MAN.

Would you believe, almost on a par with his run on ROM?

Would you be--oh, sorry. Geez, that poor Don Adams. Never in recent memory has the passing of a beloved celebrity inspired so many quips. The New York Post's headline was "Agent 86ed", Tony Danza took a few minutes out at the top of his gabfest to salute the "Get Smart" star, ending by indicating that Adams had gone to "the great cone of silence in the sky", but maybe regular correspondent Alan Plessinger topped them all when, after sending me a note sharing his sincere appreciation of the actor, ended his piece thusly:

If only he'd made it to 86.

Missed it by that much!

To which I can only add, good luck Barbara Feldon!!..
September 27th, 2005
In the fall of 1965, on playgrounds all across America, a multitude of sins could be magically covered by uttering one simple phrase:

"Sorry about that, Chief."

When "Get Smart" hit, it hit big--especially with MY generation. Almost overnight, we were all impressionists, because I guarantee you, there wasn't a single twelve year old boy (and for all I know, girls too) who didn't attempt to mimic Don Adams distinct delivery of one of the greatest set-up lines of all time, "Would you believe?..."

I was certainly amongst those frenzied followers of "Get Smart" that autumn, forty years gone now. The spy spoof wasn't overly sophisticated, true, but there was a lot of cleverness lurking below that one-joke premise--and in leads Barbara Feldon and Don Adams, an awful lot of talent as well. Making this then, a sad day, as yet another TV icon of my youth has passed away. Don Adams has left us after 82 years.

Although he'll always be known to television viewers as the world's most inept secret agent, I'll also warmly recall his earlier role as Byron Glick, the world's most inept hotel detective, working the same establishment that boasted Jose Jimenez as their number one bellboy (and Bing's son, Gary, as their number two--not to mention "Lost In Space"s Dr. Smith, Jonathan Harris as the hotel's manager) on "The Bill Dana Show", a program I watched every Sunday evening throughout its one and a half year run from 1963 until mid-January of 1965. (Would you believe, MOST Sunday evenings? Once every equinox?...)

Ahem. Well, I watched his last program as well, the 1995 Fox revival of "Get Smart" that, sadly, only lasted seven episodes. Truthfully, I was more interested in seeing Andy Dick play his son, Zach Smart, but I'll admit it was fun watching Adams slip easily back into his old role like it was a comfortable pair of pants.

(What I never could accept though, was hearing Agent 86's voice coming out of Inspector Gadget's mouth on the animated series of the same name. Julie was fascinated with that cartoon for--thankfully--a very brief period of time when she was very, very young, and it always seemed WRONG somehow, listening from the other room...)

Y'know, when Lynn came home today,I asked if she'd heard--a major TV celebrity had died. Without missing a beat she replied, "Would you believe, a minor TV celebrity?..."

No, she didn't mean to belittle the man. She just couldn't resist. I'm sad to see Mr. Adams go, but I've got to figure this has got to be one of the toughest tributes for journalists of a certain age to write simply because, while a certain level of solemnness is inherently called for, how can one NOT give in to the urge to turn the whole sorry situation into an excuse to exhume one's own very best attempt at a "Would you believe?..." routine?

Sigh. Well, not much more I can say except, "Sorry about that, Don..."
September 26th, 2005
Not to jump on a trend, but I couldn't help but notice this Henry Boltinoff gag panel the other day when paging through my copy of DC Comic's SGT. BILKO #18 (March-April 1960) (the reason for which will be become readily apparent in just a few days).

One of four separate panels found under the umbrella title of "Khaki Yaks", the "punchline" here is, "Look--a sunken bathtub!"

Yeah, I didn't think it was very funny either...

But it's just more evidence that, back in the fifties and early sixties, implied male nudity ran rampant on the funny book racks! Y'know, I'm kinda surprised Sub-Mariner wasn't more successful than he was during that period. Maybe folks just found those ears a bit off-putting...
September 25th, 2005
Around here, Friday night means Peter Sanderson!

Okay, okay, so apparently my life isn't all that exciting, but still, I usually try to make it a point to check out what my pal Peter posts over at the IGN Comics website each Friday shortly after it goes up, and this past week was no exception. Mr. S's Comics In Context #103 concerned a wide-ranging survey of current animated efforts, and included a longish aside to yours truly, one I intend to answer in kind in the coming weeks over at MY IGN column, the not-nearly-as-longish Fred Hembeck Show. But not today, Peter--today I want to talk about Petey!

Petey--the Adventures of Peter Parker LOOONNG Before He Became Spider-Man. A series I created entirely on my own for Marvel Comics back in the eighties (and that ran intermittently on up through the late-nineties). Yup, it was ALL me--save for the characters and situations based on earlier work done by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, utilizing an artistic approach, um, borrowed from DENNIS THE MENACE cartoonist Al Wiseman, and attempting to appropriate a story sense inspired by LITTLE LULU'S John Stanley, with just a dollop of the sentiment found in Bob Bolling's LITTLE ARCHIE. But, y'know, otherwise, it was ENTIRELY my brain-child. Really.

WHY am I now--you should pardon the expression--bringing up my Petey? Well, the thing is, after reading Peter's piece, on the way out of the site, I happened to notice a picture of Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham accompanying one of their news blurbs, heralding the Ham's return. Inasmuch as the pig was yet another character I once worked on (but had absolutely NO hand in his creation, I assure you), I found myself just curious enough to investigate what was surely to be little more that a puff piece/press release. Which was exactly what it was, trumpeting a hundred page one-shot entitled SPIDER-MAN FAMILY. Sure enough, Porker returns in an all-new tale--alongside several other web-covered individuals--but the majority of the book consists of reprints. All it took was a quick glance down at the cover art provided--there was no mistaking what I saw! Right there under Spider Woman's legs was the head of my Little Petey!! Wow!

Okay, it's only a reprint, but reprints are most assuredly not the norm for me (unlike my buddy Terry Austin, who can't even keep up with the various permutations his legendary run on the X-MEN has been regurgitated over the years), so excuse me for being mildly thrilled! They chose a good one, too--"The Devil And Mrs. Parker", from 1997's UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL, my next-to-last outing with the little guy (--to date! Marvel, let it be a matter of public record: I stand at the ready to work on my Petey, any time, any day!!..)

So pardon me, Peter--I'll get to you soon, promise--but I just had to share this little nugget of negligible news with my audience. Folks, if you want to read a fun little story of the young Peter Parker, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of SPIDER-MAN FAMILY when it hits the stands!

(Or, um, you could just go here. Hey, who could realistically have expected THESE stories to ever be reprinted, y'know? Geez, sometimes my Petey surprises even ME!..)
September 24th, 2005
Subtext? What subtext?
(I suppose I SHOULD offer my apologies for, um, appropriating pal Dorian's trademark phrase, but considering he outed Logan and me, well, I just don't FEEL like it. So there.)

Wilbur? He was a long-running--but little remembered--Archie imitation published by the Archie folks themselves. This ad appeared in a coverless Archie giant comic from the early fifties, but as all the pertinent publishing info appeared on that long missing cover, well, that's about all I can tell you about THAT, minutia lovers.

Riverdale's young Mr. Andrews certainly may've been more popular in the long run, but c'mon--it's painfully obvious WHO'S got the nicer butt, isn't it? (Even ol' Arch must think so. After all, he donned a pair of Clark Kent glasses, assumed the not-altogether clever alias of "Red", and for what? To sneak a peek at the wet Wilbur, natch! Betty and Veronica even adopted brand new identities just to get in on the tawdry, pre-Code fun!...)


Wolvey has more body hair, though. Sigh...
September 23rd, 2005
I just turned in my choices for this week's Five For Friday list over at Tom Spurgeon's The Comics Reporter.

The question was:

Name Five Things Not Writing or the Art that Have Helped You Enjoy a Comic Book.

Here's what I sent in...

1. Al Wiseman's lettering in the old Dennis The Menace comics, which often effectively combined seriffed lower case, sans serif upper case, and red colored display lettering, all in the same word balloon.

2. Stan Lee's emerging editorial persona, particularly as displayed in the letters pages of the Marvel Comics published from 1961 on up through 1965 (once the Bullpen Bulletins Page became a regular standardized feature, a little of the magic vanished, even though it made perfect sense for the firm's small staff to consolidate the monthly hype in what was still an entertaining manner).

3. Ira Schnapp's logo's for DC Comics' Silver Age books, as well as his covers and house ad lettering--especially those small, text-only promos he did for Mort Weisnger to promote the editor's Superman Family titles back in the early sixties.

4. Russ Cochran's magnificent over-sized, B&W reproductions of the EC line in his series of slip-cased library volumes, complete with extensive first-class supplementary material.

5. Painted covers on early sixties Gold Key Comics that were repeated on each issues' back cover, minus any distracting logos or lettering.

Oh, and number six: variant covers, the more the merrier!

(Just kidding...)

Go take a look--and add your own favorites while you're there.

And by the way, I've been meaning to link to this for awhile now (I keep forgetting), but if you haven't already, you really must check out this wonderful series of DC Comics romance comics covers Johnny Bacardi posted (not-so) recently. I was especially taken by the pair of Nick Cardy pieces JB included--top-notch!

And here's a great review of the SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW ARCHIVES VOLUME 1 from John Firehammer over at
This Is Pop! He does a very nice job explaining the appeal of those wacky old comics, all the while simultaneously putting them in their proper historical context. As I always say, when it comes to Superman, the Mort the merrier!

(Sorry. I'll go now...)
September 22nd, 2005
First rule of Riverdale Fight Club?
There IS no Riverdale Fight Club!
...because if Big Moose ever finds out about it, well, it's pretty much all over for THESE two!!

(Art by the criminally under-appreciated Harry Lucey, from ARCHIE ANNUAL #14, 1962/1963 edition.)

That's it. Nothing more to see here. Move along, people, show's over.
September 21st, 2005
This week's edition of The Fred Hembeck Show (Episode 28) deals with the man named Xavier--not Professor Xavier, however, but rather DOCTOR Xavier, the title character from the classic 1963 film, "X, The Man With The X-Ray Eyes". More specifically, we examine the comics adaptation Gold Key issued in conjunction with the movie's release.

The young lady over to the side? The cover girl for the X-Ray Spex corporation, of course!

Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context #102--more classic--and decidedly Looney--tunes.

Roger Green. Hey, go read--what more can I say?

Tom the Dog watches the new TV shows--and the Emmys--so I don't have to. (Though I DID catch the debut of "My Name Is Earl" and found it to be pretty funny. Damn--hooked on another one...)

Lastly, I finally got around to reading Mark Evanier's film by film overview of Laurel and Hardy's career, and I enjoyed it immensely. I always check Mark's blog--who doesn't?--but sometimes it takes me awhile to get around to some of the extras on his site. This one in particular was another fine miss...
September 20th, 2005
So the Yankees have this young outfielder, his name is Bubba Crosby. He's been up and down the minors like a yo-yo the past few seasons, serving as needed. Well, last night he came up in the bottom of the ninth, it was a 2-2 tie against the Baltimore Orioles, right smack in the middle of a heated pennant race--and BOOM!

HOME RUN! New York wins, and not only does the crowd go wild, but, mere hours later, so does the back pages of the city's tabloids!

The Daily News screamed "Hubba Bubba!", Newsday proclaimed, "Bubbalicious!", but the winner HAD to be the New York Post!
From this day forward, I'll always think of the Yankee outfielder as Der Bangle...

(What? You thought maybe this entry concerned the star of such fine video productions as "Going Both Ways", "The Balls of St. Marys", and "The Road To Ugropia"? Uh uh, sorry--we don't do those kind of gags here...)
September 19th, 2005
When I first began following the New York Mets back in 1966, they were one woeful baseball team. Most of the stars in the National League played for the other nine teams, and we New York fans would see 'em when they came to Shea Stadium, where they'd regularly torment our so-called Amazins. One such player was a tall and powerful first baseman who'd been a fixture with the Pittsburgh Pirates since the early sixties. His name was Donn Clendenon.

My next door neighbor, John, seemed to take a particularly sadistic delight in watching the Bucs slugger come up during a key situation late in the game, invariably launching one over the fence to inevitably deal the Mets yet another loss. Whenever we'd get together to play a baseball game amongst ourselves, John would swing lustily--and if he hit it real good, he'd always gleefully invoke the name of Clendenon as he raced around the bases.

But by 1969, the big first baseman was getting older, so the Pirates let him go in the expansion draft initiated that year, and he was quickly picked up by one of the league's two then-new teams, the Montreal Expos (currently known as the Washington Nationals).
By mid-season, though, Donn Clendenon had been dealt to the New York Mets, and many people--ace pitcher Tom Seaver included--felt that the acquisition of this seasoned, veteran power-hitter was the final piece that made the Miracle of '69 possible, as the Mets went from being a ninth place team in 1968 to World Champions one short--and truly amazing--year later. He may have been 34 at the time, but for once, the Mets had gotten themselves a bona fide star BEFORE he'd lost his touch, a dreary situation which had happened so many times over the previous several years (and frankly, still happens all too frequently...)

Clendenon's three home runs in that October's World Series against the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles were enough to get him named the Most Valuable Player of that year's Fall Classic, though he always demurred, saying that on that team, EVERY player was valuable. I gotta say, for once it was a joy to be rooting right alongside my pal John for the guy--and he certainly didn't disappoint!

Such was the magic of that season that Clendenon will probably always be remembered primarily for his part in it, even though he only played two and a half years total for New York, finishing up his career as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1972. Well, while he may not've had the length of service Seaver, Cleon Jones, Jerry Koosman, Bud Harrelson, and several other of the '69 Mets ultimately racked up, but don't let that fool you--Donn Clendenon was an integral part of the Miracle Mets.

Well, that was a long time ago, wasn't it? If you haven't heard--or figured out yet exactly where this is going--I'm sorry to report that the big first baseman (who went on to earn a degree in law after his baseball career ended) passed away the other day at age 70. I first heard the unfortunate news during the Mets telecast on Sunday, as Hall of Famer Seaver--now a broadcaster--offered up a heartfelt if low-key tribute to his erstwhile comrade during the course of the game.

The 1969 Mets, as a team, achieved something truly immortal. The individual players, however--Tommy Agee, Cal Koonce, Tug McGraw, and now Donn Clendenon--have sadly proven to be all too mortal.

Rest easy, big fella.
September 18th, 2005
If you look real, REAL closely at my September 5th posting, you'll find a passing reference to second-generation crooner, Jack Jones. Well, that was all the opening regular correspondent Alan Plessinger needed, as he sent the following anecdote along for my amusement. I thought it was pretty funny, and have been saving it for just the right moment to share with you all (such as, when I just didn't have enough time and/or energy to come up with something original myself in my often quixotic attempt at maintaining my daily presence on the web! Thanks, Alan!).
And now, the story...

There was a quick mention of Jack Jones in your blog, so I have a quick show biz story about him which you may or may not have heard, with a very small Marx Brothers connection.

He was appearing on the Ed Sullivan show. Ed Sullivan was apparently considered the most incompetent host on television. He could brighten a room by leaving it. During rehearsal, he said to Jack Jones, "Your father used to be Allan Jones, didn't he?"

"He STILL IS Allan Jones!"

"Oh, that's good! That's funny. We'll do that during the show. I'll call you over, I'll set you up with the straight line, and we'll get a big laugh! Big laugh!"

So during the show, Jack Jones does his song, and when he's done, Sullivan calls him over and says,

"Your father is...still alive, isn't he?"

Well, not anymore--but then neither is Ed, so I guess it all evens out, doesn't it?
September 17th, 2005
No, I'm not going to explain this to you--I just don't have the energy. Let your imagination run wild--or dig up a copy of either ADVENTURE COMICS#293 (February 1962), or the first volume of the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ARCHIVES. Believe me--if you're looking for this in the ASPCA handbook, you're gonna be way outta luck!...

Moving on to Super-Images of a more pleasant sort, I offer you a pair of video links, helpfully supplied to me by my old pal, Larry Shell.

First, we have a commercial from the fifties instructing viewers on how they can get themselves a Superman T-shirt. Maybe even more interesting is this other ad featuring George (Clark Kent) Reeves, John (Perry White) Hamilton, and Jack (Jimmy Olsen) Larson, hanging around the Daily Planet offices, scarfing up bowl after bowl of that brand new cereal sensation, Sugar Smacks!

Hey, you don't suppose the Boy of Steel had maybe a bowl too many himself, and he's all hopped up on sweets? Hey, it sure wasn't Gravy Train that made him go all nutty, that's for sure!...
September 16th, 2005
In lieu of an actually cohesive entry today, I offer up instead a few random notes about what's been going on around these parts lately.

Julie began tenth grade last week. She exhibited actual enthusiasm about returning to school in the days just before summer vacation ended, which proves our decision to send her to the smaller, private school (beginning last year) to be a good one. Plus, she's learning more! (She's been assigned "Oedipus" to read, which she pronounces, "Eddy-puss", and when she asked if I had ever read it. I said no, but that I DID read the Hanna Barbara adaptation, "Snagglepuss"! She just stared at me blankly, so I quickly exited, stage left!...)

Yes, I bought the new Paul McCartney CD. I'm currently absorbing it--never fear, I expect that a long-winded review will turn up on site, hopefully within a week. I also got me a copy of the new Rolling Stones album, and it proved to be FAR better than I ever expected it to be! THAT'S about as in-depth as I'll get about that, but if you're wavering on purchasing it, consider this an (under my)"thumbs up".

I've vowed not to watch ANY new TV show this upcoming season, as I feel I watch too much regularly on the tube as it is. Already, though, there's an exception--at the urging of my daughter. we're going to sample "My Name Is Earl". Why? Well, not only does the character as seen on the commercials share his name with the step-dad of one of her friends, but they also (allegedly) share a lot of...other qualities as well! We'll just have to see HOW close the TV folks unwittingly came to real life when the sitcom debuts later this month...

The Mets. Arrrghh. A half game out of the wild-card race at the end of August, seven games over .500--and since then, 3 wins, 15 losses! Did I mention "Arrghh"?..,

I saw Beth Holoway Twitty on MSNBC's "Abrams Report" a couple of days ago, so I guess things are finally getting back to normal, at least on the cable news networks. But as long as Keith Olbermann has an hour each night, the miserable failure of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina won't soon be forgotten. Thank heavens.

But one thing I DON'T understand--the appeal of this Rita Cosby, who the bigwigs at MSNBC seem to be treating as their single greatest resource ever since her show. "Live and Direct", debuted a month or so back. Bad voice, inane questions, over-eager (and often inappropriate) manner ("I'm in New Orleans--OOooo, look at all that destruction!"). The way she works the phrase "live and direct" into virtually every other sentence gets tiresome real, REAL quick.That's something she must've learned from her last employers. Fox ("Fair and Balanced") News..

Julie's playing soccer again, after I told you she wasn't going to. Yeah, there's a story that goes with that, but another time. She's also signed up for a weekly portraiture class at the art institute at whose summer program she attended for two weeks this past summer. The instructor she worked with called up last week, and offered her the spot--and at half price! I suppose we should be flattered (we are) as he commended not only her talent, but Julie's enthusiasm as well. Still, you gotta wonder if he was just trying to make his quota. More on this later...

I was out vacuuming the pool Wednesday, and all of a sudden a parakeet flew down and landed on the coping stones. Obviously escaped from some neighbors house, the bird was clearly accustomed to being around people. He kept flying off, only to return, so I went inside, told Lynn, and we both returned to the pool area with a cage-like apparatus we once salvaged from an old refrigerator (don't ask...). after a few minutes, the bird landed again, and I almost--ALMOST!--caught him! What I was gonna DO with him if I caught him, I wasn't sure--go house to house asking, "Excuse me, are you missing a bird?" seemed to be the only logical course of action, but it never came to that, as the bird did its best to steer clear of me following his near capture.

I waited for another chance (one that never came), while Lynn returned to her computer inside. Finally, I gave up and came in, but as I did, I casually noticed the wooden parrot that sits in a clay pot near our window, a souvenir of a past vacation. It possessed almost the same color scheme as the loose parakeet, and was only slightly larger. An idea suddenly came to me. I grabbed it off it's perch, began tossing it back and forth between my two hands as if it were a real bird trying to escape my careful grasp, and shouted to Lynn, with convincing immediacy. "I caught it! I caught the bird!!"

I ran into where she was sitting, and she spun around in her chair, excited at hearing my news, and for a split second there, I'm convinced she actually believed that was the errant parakeet flapping around between my palms--and THEN she knew. The look on her face!

The laughter went on for quite awhile, lemme tell ya!

Further evidence that I've read far too many comic books in my time: driving out onto the road after dropping Lynn off to pick up our other car from its annual state inspection, I routinely looked to my right before pulling to onto the road, then to my left, only to be mildly surprised to see a car coming around the somewhat blind-corner just as I pulled out onto the side road. My exact words at this semi-startling turn of events?

"Oooo. Jeepers!"

Of course, had this been a far closer call than it actually was, I assure you I would've utilized a phrase more appropriate to an issue of Vertigo's PREACHER that SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN, that's for @#$% sure!!

As always, when I went into my Best Buy the other day, I grabbed a copy of the weekly sales flyer to see what had just come out that and what the special deals were. I KNEW I was buying the Macca CD, no question, but was curious to see what else was available. I noticed they were offering the new three CD collection of Genesis hits (the only compilation to feature both the Peter Gabriel AND Phil Collins led prog-squads, as the TV ads had been blaring over the airwaves in the days previous). Now, I'm not all that big a fan of Genesis--I have a few solo CDs of each of the aforementioned gents, including their respective hits collections, but truth is, they don't get all that much play--still, it'd be nice to add the best of Genesis to my musical library. The list price for the mini-box set was $39.99, but this week Best Buy had it on sale for $29.99. I was undecided--did I REALLY want to hear "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" THAT badly?

Well, when I actually spied a copy of the set on the rack, my mind was immediately made up--somebody obviously goofed, and ALL the copies were marked $19.99!! THIS I couldn't resist! So I grabbed a copy, and along with my Sir Paul CD, hastily went up front, hoping to pay for things before anybody realized their mistake. Good news--I DID!! But here's the kicker--later, when I triumphantly told Lynn of my sales scoop, she threw a bucket of cold water on things by calmly pointing out that I didn't necessarily save ten bucks due to a store error, but instead spent TWENTY on something I hadn't been planning to buy in the first place!!

So now, even as I type this, I'm listening to Genesis, and I'm enjoying it! Why? BECAUSE I HAVE TO!!

(Oh NO!! Here comes "Misunderstanding" again!...)

Lastly, sorry Tom, but I'm Oh For Friday. I've got nothing suitable to contribute to this week's Five For Friday, but maybe somebody else out there does-- use this link and see, okay gang.

(Oh, and Happy Birthday, Kurt Busiek!)
September 15th, 2005
I'm so embarrassed.

And the worse part is, I DIDN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING!!

You all know me as a staunch--and early--supporter of that animated icon of the twenty-first century, Bikini Bottom's most celebrated citizen, SpongeBob SquarePants. Well, anything enjoying as much success as the li'l yella fella has amassed these past few years is bound to spawn some imitations--blatant or otherwise--and belatedly as it may seem, apparently one's FINALLY drifted into view.

The name of SpongeBob's dubious doppelganger?

Coconut Fred.

Who lives on Fruit Salad Island.


HOW did I uncover this sorry situation? Not willingly, I guarantee you that. Earlier today, I received a call from my pal, Terry Austin, and for the first several minutes of our conversation, he kept referring to me as "Coconut Fred"--and when he finally realized I had NO idea what the heck he was talking about (I assumed that our current heat wave had gotten to him, and merely chalked his seeming ramblings up to that), he explained to me that Coconut Fred was a new cartoon show currently being heavily promoted as part of the WB's upcoming Saturday mornings line-up (debuting at 8:30 THIS Saturday, September 17th, if you're at all curious--which I'm not. I know where MY loyalties lie, and these rip-off artists are not influencing my viewing habits simply by flattering me with an ill-advised name check, nosirreeeSpongeBob!...).

Coconut Fred. Sigh--sorta makes me long for the restrained elegance of a man named Flintstone...
September 14th, 2005
This week, The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode Twenty-Seven, takes a close look at a vintage issue of ADVENTURES OF THE FLY. Discover the secret origin of Fly-Girl, the Metal Master's kinky dominance over firearms, and artist John Rosenberger's twin specialties! (And no, wise guy, only ONE is pictured in the panel above!...)

Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context #101 deals with, ostensibly, classical music in several classic Warner Brothers cartoons, but far more important to ME is Peter's opening page wherein he discusses my recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically my visit to the Matisse exhibition. Who knew that Julie and I missed, by a mere day, running into my fellow IGN columnist--and now, fellow Rupert Murdoch media pawn--in those hallowed halls where hung the magnificent works of Henri Matisse?


But, y'know Peter, I DID think to myself while I was roaming the Big Apple--only my second trip to NYC in the last decade, practically, "Wouldn't it be funny if I bumped into someone I knew down here?"--and I fully figured the most likely culprit would be YOU! So close, and yet...

(By the way, I too have always longed to make that Ed Meese joke--I guess we're more alike than you'd think, eh? Except, of course, that I prefer SpongeBob to any and all cartoon characters that came before him--even Babalooey!....)

Then there's my pal Roger Green--or should I say, EVERYBODY'S pal, Roger Green! There's hardly a site on the Comics Weblog Updates roll that doesn't mention Roger, have some thoughts by him included in their comments section, or, even more amazingly, is awarding him some sort of prize or another!?! Nice job, pal--and when you pause for a moment and settle in at your OWN site, well, that's fun for us ALL, too!!

The Flash--tearing into today's headlines? Yup--the twisted geniuses over at SUPERFRANKENSTEIN have assembled a sterling collection of vintage Silver Age covers, translating the current day's news events into terms we comics aficionado's can truly understand! Great selection!

Delenda Est Carthago! What does it mean? I don't know exactly, but when you see it invoked around here, it can mean only one thing: Greg Burgas has been assembling links again! And me? I'm just linking on over to HIM! Hey, sometimes, you just GOTTA take the easy road, y'know?

Gracias, GB! And adios!..
September 13th, 2005
When I was growing up, there was no Bruce Lee, no "Kung Fu", no martial arts craze. No, back in 1963, if a ten year wanted to learn about the fighting secrets of the mysterious East, he really only had one place to turn--

Comic books.

Like, for instance, via this one page instructional strip that could be found in the 26th issue of ADVENTURES OF THE FLY (July 1963, art by John Rosenberger)...
Or, if you preferred to brush up on ANOTHER facet of the martial arts, you might want to take a closer look at one of several feature pages found in the double-sized, vintage reprint Harvey Comics collection, BLACK CAT #64 (January 1963, art by Lee Elias)...
God's honest truth--once, not long after buying it, I took my copy of BLACK CAT the half-mile down the road to the sand pit behind the local elementary school, accompanied by a buddy, all with the intention of practicing the above moves (as well as a buncha others found in the same issue). After spending several minutes discovering that these throws weren't nearly as easy as they looked on the printed page, we gave up and walked on home. Just as well--black leather, it turns out, really chafes the crotch (though I DID like the way those boots looked on me...)!

Okay, so I made up that last part, but the rest is true. And just think about it: if YOU wanted to learn some fancy fighting skills, WHO'RE you gonna listen to? A woeful third string super-hero called the Black Hood whose most obvious attribute is that he, um, wears a black hood, yammering on about fighting fashion choices in his PJs--or the curvaceous Cat, making short work of the mug who tried to mash her? For me, it was no contest--my copy of THE FLY remained safe at home as we attempted our little do-it-yourself lesson.

Of course, maybe I was looking in the wrong place altogether. Maybe the REAL expert advice lurked inside the unlikely pages of FANTASTIC FOUR #17 (August 1963, art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, hard to swallow words by Stan Lee)...
Who knew?

Who knew Mr. Fantastic was THAT fantastic? Hey, anybody who can teach Sue Storm enough judo to take down Dr. Doom himself with one swift blow (albeit an invisible one) sure knows his stuff! How'd Marvel EVER miss out on the seemingly inevitable Reed Richards/Shang Chi grudge match, I wonder?

(Black Cat versus Black Hood? No contest--once those claws sink into that hood, it'd be all over...)
September 12th, 2005
My little mash note to Hayley Mills a few days back brought in a few interesting responses (though none, alas, from Ms. Mills herself...).

Tom (SUPERFRANKENSTEIN) Peyer had this to say...

In case you're not aware of her son Crispian Mills, you might want to check out his mid-90s retro-60s psychedelic band Kula Shaker. Their first album, K, is awfully good--and it has fab Dave Gibbons cover art! Russ Manning and Dave Gibbons--what a family!

Tom kindly provided me with the above scan. LOOKS like a swell disc, and musically, the description sounds right up my alley. Hopefully, there's a nineties update of "Let's Get Together" lurking on there somewhere...

Steven Thompson also had a story about Hayley, which, after sharing it with me, he's since added to his nifty site, BookSteve's Library. Read it at your own peril--warning: illusions may well be shattered!

(On a happier note, check out this mid-sixties flier DC used to send out to folks who wrote into their letter columns. I had one of these, too--though I'd have to look a week to find it, so be thankful Steve posted his. Take a few minutes to read it, and you'll soon realize something's fishy--it was very obviously written by Mort Weisinger, and he VERY obviously has absolutely NO interest whatsoever in promoting ANYTHING besides his line of Superman Family comics! I mean, in the FAQ section, he very helpfully lists the entire roster of the Legion Of SUBSTITUTE Heroes--but there's nary a mention of the JLA to be found ANYWHERE!! Ah, that Mort--what a guy!...)
September 11th, 2005
Took a trip in the Way-back machine the other night. Wound on the evening of August 29th, 1969, watching "The Dick Cavett Show", the day after the world famous Woodstock Music Festival. Guests Jefferson Airplane , Stephen Stills, and David Crosby had performed at the legendary event only hours before going on the Cavett show--and the evening's other guest, Joni Mitchell, would've as well, had her manager allowed her to. He felt the Cavett gig was too important to miss, so he kept his client safely in New York City while all her colleagues--and several of her lovers, past, present and future--had all the history-making fun. But, I guess you gotta say, ultimately, her career didn't suffer much...
Yeah, folks, it's the new-fangled magic of the DVD, providing us with a special three disc collection of old Cavett episodes featuring some of the biggest names in music--"Rock Icons" they call 'em. And unlike those previously released "Ed Sullivan Show" compilations, these are complete programs. That should prove especially interesting later when I get to the episode featuring Janis Joplin, Raquel Welch, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Chet Huntley, but this particular show was all music.

It was also one a pair included that was broadcast during prime-time, when the host had a three times a week (non-consecutive days) hour long show, commencing at ten PM, and thus, one of two I clearly recall watching in my parents living room (11:30 to 1 AM was just too late on school nights, the traditional timeslot Cavett soon found himself in), all by my lonesome. (Mom was watching something else in the other room, and dad was sleeping, so I couldn't play the TV very loud--which, in the case of this particular show, was a doggone rotten shame. But, now, finally, I had me the chance to put on the headphones, and crank it way, way up!! Groovy, man, just plain groovy...)

It's quite the time capsule, lemme tell ya. The Airplane perform three numbers--or four, if you consider the fact that, after they receive the audience's applause for the show's closing number, "Somebody To Love", they immediately launch right into an extended jam, one that forces the host to mime his goodbyes, as it continues relentlessly throughout the commercials and end credits alike. Joni Mitchell performs four numbers--one with a guitar, two at the piano, and one just plain acapella. Stephen Stills pulls out his guitar for a short number, and Crosby? Well, his only musical contribution is to add some backing vocals to the Airplane's finale, but worry not--if you're a big fan of David's, you'll get plenty of him during the group interview sequence. Puh-lenty.

Sitting in circle on a specially prepared--and pop art garish--set, Cavett attempts to question the nine musicians gathered around him. Naturally, the always provocative--and photogenic--Grace Slick is close by, ready to answer any of his queries. But David? He's not just ready, he's EAGER! An unofficial tally finds Crosby hogging about seventy percent of the chat segment, Slick about twenty, Mitchell five, two per cent for Stills and the Airplane's Paul Kantner each, and maybe--maybe--a measly one percent left for an unidentified Airplane member, who mumbled a few words while his back was to the camera. But if you wanted to know exactly what was wrong with the world, David Crosby was more than happy to expound on the evils of air pollution--even if he did implicate several of Cavett's sponsors in the process! I've always enjoyed the music of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but I've likewise always found Crosby more than a little hard to take whenever whatever's coming out of his mouth isn't of a musical nature. This is no exception. But he sure LOOKS better than most folks probably remember, myself included...

Y'know, I've never been all that big a fan of Joni Mitchell--I've certainly long realized she has considerable talent, but she's still somehow never appealed to me overmuch. Well, while I'm not about to become an over-night convert four decades after the fact, her performance at the piano of a tune called "For Free"--one I know I've heard many times over the airwaves in years past, but one whose words I never actually listened to very closely--was probably the single most moving musical segment of the night. A lovely, haunting melody, beautifully sung, with lyrics--concerning and comparing a street musician's lot to that of a successful pop singer--that left a lump in this ol' throat. I may not've been overly affected by her other three numbers, but THIS is one I'm gonna have to track down...

But the real stars of the show were the Jefferson Airplane! Their legend and stature have sadly diminished over the years, but at their peak--as they were here--the Airplane were as good, as important, and as innovative a band as rock had to offer. I've always loved the way they had three vocalists, often all singing at the same time--and not always the same tune! (They had four singers, actually, but master guitarist Jorma Kaukonen generally warbled his own numbers solo...) The way Grace Slick and Marty Balin's deceptively similar tones played off each other, scatting away madly in counterpoint, while the white-bread vocals of Paul Kantner somehow anchored his accompanists more explosive tendencies, all while the unmistakable bass playing of Jack Casady and the pickings of the aforementioned Jorma rumbled away underneath, sure made for some great music!! And the songs were, in their own way, just crazy, too: the show opens (after a tepid monolog from the host) with the group blazing through "We Can Be Together" and "Volunteers" from their still, at that point, unissued RCA album, "Volunteers". The problem? Well, the folks at the record company were a mite skittish about a specific line from "We Can Be Together", one that went, "up against the wall, mother, and please pass me the Schmuckers"--or SOMETHING like that.

Nowadays, such sentiments are almost de riguer in an effort to capture a jaded public's ever dwindling attention, but back in 1969, this was big stuff. And even bigger was the fact that somehow, someway, the very line that was giving the RCA sales force a collective nightmare, snuck by a battery of ABC prime time censors, piped out across the airwaves to an unsuspecting nation--and somehow, way back when, I missed it, too!! Well, I TOLD you I had to keep the volume down, didn't I?...

Jefferson Airplane could be plenty ragged--Balin was the only vocalist in the ensemble who could regularly be counted upon to hit all the notes assigned him--but they were somehow more exciting because of it! When they got things cooking, they were just sizzling!. Most of their later work. post-"Volunteers", is generally negligible, true, but for a time, they were an elite act, and the Cavett show happily captures them during this rarefied--if all too brief--period.

A few words about the host. At the time, Dick Cavett was easily the hippest fellow on TV--which is probably more an indictment of the era's network television than it is a ringing endorsement of the man. To be fair, he was much better with literary, political, and show biz figures than he was with these oft-times befuddling new rock artists--but he was just about the only one on the tube seeking them out for anything more than a quick run through of their latest hit. Still, I often find his manner cloying, and it's sometimes difficult to watch his exchanges with these ill-trained (in standard show biz procedure, at least) guests. Y'know, I don't think I could survive an hour of Dick Cavett and David Crosby pontificating, but luckily, I didn't have to--the music is the chief attraction on these discs, after all. Based on this first show--only about a third of disc one, please understand--I'm already convinced this was a worthy purchase.

I'll try and get back to you again soon, and report in on how the Sly Stone/Debbie Reynolds couch chat pairing went, okay?...

One last note: today, as you know doubt know, is the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I considered writing up my own recollections of that day, and how I came to learn the horrible news. But it's an amazingly trivial story--maybe I'll tell it sometime, but not this year. Instead, I thought I'd share the above with you, as you'll surely be getting enough reminders as it is. So, while I didn't want to dwell on it, I certainly didn't want to forget it, either.

But then, that's not very likely, is it?...
September 10th, 2005
Five For Friday #46 over at The Comics Reporter--this weeks question is:

Name Five Characters That Always Make You Laugh

..and with Tom Spurgeon's indulgence, here's my answer...

In no particular order...

Jimmy Olsen in drag, a rather outre situation for the time that occurred with suspicious regularity during the Mort Weisinger era.

J.Jonah Jameson, mainly during the Ditko days, and specifically in Amazing Spider-Man#25, the one in which the Daily Bugle publisher commandeers a robot to attack his long-time nemesis, the funniest--and, for what it's worth, my single favorite standard sized--Marvel Comic of all time.

Mr. McOnion, the beleaguered next door neighbor of Sluggo, a man who seemingly spent every spring figuring out just how to ship the hairless--and penniless--orphan off to summer camp with his friend Nancy, during an all too short spell back in the late fifties, early sixties when Ernie Bushmiller's crew found themselves in the capable laugh inducing hands of the great John Stanley.

Henry Mitchell, whose exasperated reactions to the antics of son Dennis were always the funniest things to be found in the old Fred Toole/Al Wiseman comics.

Buddy Bradley, by Peter Bagge--ALWAYS hilarious.

..and that's it. Go over and take a look at everyone else's list, though--there's some good choices included (as well as, frankly, a whole lotta names I don't even recognize! I ain't nearly as hip as I usta be, no doubt about it...)

This was a bit of a tough one, mainly due to the word "always". As you can see from my answers, I loaded 'em down with qualifications. Look, it's very difficult to think of a character that ALWAYS makes me laugh. I probably should've cited Tubby (as participant Jeet Heer did), but outside of him, there's no sure guaranteed laugh-getter. There ARE times when, for instance, Archie or Jughead are absolutely hilarious, but it all depends on who's writing and drawing the stories, y'know, not the intrinsic appeal of the characters (I chose to limit my selections to comic books only, with no animated cartoons or newspaper strip characters--save for their specifically produced comic book doppelgangers).

Television, on the other hand, is much more likely to produce characters who can elicit a smile merely by showing up. Fact is, I made up such a list several months ago, and the curious amongst you can get on over to it by going here, November 29th entry...

Lastly, those of you looking for "Fred Sez" on the Comics Weblog Update roll call haven't seen me listed there for a few days. I'm having some of what seems to have become a periodic problem with my pinging. If you understand the lingo, swell--if not, don't bother to ask. Doesn't really matter. It'll get fixed, but even if it doesn't, dig--at this point, I haven't missed posting something every single day since the end of last October, and given that track record, there's very little chance I won't be here tomorrow. So whether you see me on the Update list or not, come on by and check--I'll be here! Promise.

(When I finally DO make it to a full year without missing a beat, I think I'm just gonna take a off an entire week--and then promise myself NEVER to do anything quite so insane again! Either that, or get a running start on a SECOND year...)
September 9th, 2005
Sometimes I stumble across long-forgotten treasures in my tireless effort to entertain you, the teeming multitudes out there in Internet-land. Case in point--when I pulled off the shelves my two boxes of rarely referenced Disney-related comics (filled mostly with the Gladstone books of the eighties and nineties) the other night to get at my copy of HUEY, DEWEY, AND LOUIE BACK TO SCHOOL for the most recent episode of The Fred Hembeck Show, I came upon a scant half-dozen four-color adaptations of several of Walt's live action productions, all from the late fifties and early sixties. Comics versions of beloved old flicks like "The Absent Minded Professor", "Shaggy Dog", "Toby Tyler", "20,000 Thousand Leagues Under The Sea"--and then there was THIS one.

A movie I never saw, a movie I had a pretty good notion I wasn't going to see when I initially picked this comic up off the newsstands back in 1963, but it's still the issue of that batch that first catches my eye.

Anybody want to guess WHY?...
Uh huh--I had an enormous crush on Hayley Mills. ENORMOUS. EE--NORR--MOUS. And, y'know, I guess I haven't entirely gotten over it, even now...

It all started back in 1961. I was eight years old. The girl next door, Alice, was nine. I used to play a lot with her younger brother, John. One day, she invited me to go a movie. I suppose it was kind of a date, but I didn't really think of it that way--she was just the sister of my pal next door, after all--even though it later (much later) occurred to me that she might well've thought of it that way.

Anyway, we went to see "The Parent Trap".

WHAM!--I'd suddenly gotten myself a double dose of a fifteen year old girl named Hayley Mills, and I was never the same! She was sweet, she was feisty, she was funny, she was refined, she was the girl next door (well, no actually, she wasn't--I was WITH the girl next door, wasn't I? But through no fault of her own, poor Alice just couldn't measure up to the teen goddess up there on that silver screen...). My gosh, Hayley Mills was just the cutest thing this eight year old boy had ever seen! And while undeniably attractive, she still possessed an essentially down to earth quality that made her seem accessible, even to a shmoe like me, as deluded as that must sound now. Before the Beatles introduced me to rock and roll proper, the first 45 I ever bought, after receiving a cheap record player for my tenth birthday, was Hayley singing the immortal "Let's Get Together" ("...yeah yeah yeah...") from that self-same movie.

So when I saw that lovely shot of the now seventeen year old Hayley Mills on the cover of the SUMMER MAGIC comics adaptation, beckoning at me from the newsstand, how could ten-year old Fred possibly resist plunking down his twelve pennies?

And hey, comics fans--a bonus! The interior art was provided by none other than the great Russ Manning! Lemme me tell ya, he did Ms. Mills proud...
Yup, the man whose Leeja (in his MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER series) was one of the most gorgeous female characters to be found in ANY early sixties comic, almost did justice to Hayley Mills radiant beauty. Almost.

Y'know, I'd kinda forgotten all this until I almost accidentally came across this comic. My interest again peaked, I naturally Googled Hayley. I came up with all sorts of stuff, but this site was my favorite.

Funny thing, though--for all my so-called devotion to the actress, turns out I've seen very little of her work. I THINK I went to see "In Search Of the Castaways" (1962), but that was about it. And whatever else I HAVE seen has come in recent years. Apparently, on the rare occasions I went to the movies as a kid, taking my buddies off to a Hayley Mills flick just WASN'T high on the approved list--and I don't think any other girls wanted to watch me moon over the delightful British thespian, so that avenue was out as well. No, it would only be years later that I'd see a fully grown--but still lovely--Hayley Mills in the adult sequel to "The Parent Trap" (1986), a Disney telefilm, as well as her appearance on a memorable episode of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" TV series a year earlier. Even more recently, when daughter Julie was around eight or nine, we went through a spell of taping and watching a flurry of overnight classics on the Disney Channel, including "That Darn Cat" (1965), which was fun, and the much cited "Pollyanna" (1960) which was actually pretty slow moving, and didn't quite capture my girlie's imagination. I'm glad I finally saw it, sure, but ultimately, I think "The Parent Trap" will prove to be the actress's most lasting legacy. (I really should try to catch the non-Disney "The Family Way" (1966), though, if only for the Paul McCartney score) (Okay, okay--and for her brief (and undoubtedly tasteful) nude scenes, too! So sue me--she WAS twenty years old by then. y'know...)

Hayley Mills is fifty-nine now, and she still has an unmistakable elegance about her. Still, I confess that it was an eerie experience scanning through this hefty--and chronologically arranged--photo gallery, watching her progress from the pre-pubescent that originally captured a small but significant portion of my heart, right on up, inevitably, to the woman she is today, still smiling, still attractive, but clearly showing the subtle ravages of age. True, the public often witnesses many long-lived celebrities age right before their eyes, but it's especially startling when the person in question had their most iconic success during their early youth. Hayley Mills has had a long and fruitful career, as you'll see from the progression of images on site, but mostly, we best remember the young Hayley, so it's a bit of a shock to watch as she rapidly ages right before our eyes.

No, she's not the girl on the cover of Gold Key's SUMMER MAGIC anymore--but then again, I'm not the eight-year old sitting in the dark watching "The Parent Trap" anymore either, am I? But sometimes, unexpectedly, something comes along and triggers some deeply buried memories, bringing 'em right on up to the surface. Something as simple as a seemingly insignificant and long ignored old comic book.

And if I sometimes wonder why I hang onto all this stuff, well, I think now I've gotten myself a pretty convincing answer.

(Besides, did I mention it was drawn by Russ Manning? Huh, did I? Woohoo--good stuff, fellow fanboys, good stuff!...)
September 8th, 2005
A few more comments about the recent Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon...

Actually, a couple of the things that struck me didn't even occur on the national telecast, but during the local potion of the show. You know how that works: Jerry turns over a quarter of each hour to folks trying to drum up donations in local markets. Here, the NYC affiliate is WWOR, and following Jerry's finale, "You'll Never Walk Alone" (after which he gets up from his stool, is accompanied by family and friends, and walks off the stage--unintentional irony is always fun, isn't it?...), they not only fill out the last fifteen minutes until six o'clock, they go an entire extra additional hour, until finally calling it quits at seven. This affords New Yorkers not only the chance to rake in some more contributions, but also to have more flexibility in presenting entertainment in the show's waning minutes. Like the other night, when a full-blown--if oddly ersatz--rock and roll revival broke out...

For years now, the host of the NYC portion has been singer Tony Orlando, with the local sports team of Russ Salzburg and Monica Pelligrini standing in nicely for the absent Dawn. If anything, Tony tends to outdo even the master, Jerry Lewis himself, in the category of schmaltzy introductions. So, I wasn't all that surprised by his unbridled enthusiasm when he presented the audience with what was essentially the last act of the evening: Joey Dee and The Starlighters.

Yeah, that's right--the guy who sang "Peppermint Twist" way. way back in 1961.

Joey appears to be in pretty good shape, even if does look far more like a wizened old gent than a dance-crazed teen these days. He still had those twist moves of his down pretty darn good when he sang his signature number, but it was when he turned things over to the pair of Starlighters flanking him that things got REALLY interesting...

(See that photo above? I nicked it from this website, which covered a gig these same three crooners performed at only a few short months earlier. I suggest you take a look over there for further information--but not, of course, yet, as I'm certain you're ALL still hanging on my every, ahem, word. Anyway, that's Joey in the middle. As for the OTHER fellows...)

Next up was Booby Valli. That's right--I said BOBBY Valli! Who even knew there WAS a Bobby Valli? (He's the one in the white suit.) The younger brother of the legendary Four Season's vocalist took the spotlight to offer up his versions of two of older brother Frankie's most famous occular oriented solo hits, "My Eyes Adored You" and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". Truth is, he has a pretty good voice, but it sounds neither as high pitched nor as distinctive as that of his elder sibling's. Perhaps he didn't receive enough wedgies as a child?...

And then it was time for original Starlighter--and another brother to the stars--David Brigati, to warble a few tunes made famous by a close relation of his. Okay, maybe bro Eddie Brigati isn't exactly a household name, but anybody who listened to the radio during the sixties would've immediately recognized the medley of hits that followed: "Good Lovin'", "I've Been Lonely Too Long", "Groovin"", "It's A Beautiful Morning", and "How Can I Be Sure". No, it WASN'T The Rascals (and certainly not the YOUNG ones...), but it was amazingly close. The audience was rocking hard, lemme tell ya!

Tony O joined the group for a dynamic version of the Isley Brothers classic, "Shout"--well, at least as dynamic as could be expected from four white guys who are card carrying AARP members, anyway! The whole thing ran close to a half hour, and y'know, three days later, I'm still reeling! Mainly, there's one thing I just haven't gotten over:

There's a BOBBY Valli?

The other thing that I wanted to mention is what has now turned into a full-blown NY tradition. Every year, sometime during the first cut-away to the Big Apple portion of the show, sportscaster Russ Salzburg--whose accent makes the Boy Commando's Brooklyn sound like Hugh Grant--inevitably ambles over to that portion of the stage where volunteers are busily answering phones, taking pledges. And every year for as long as I can remember, Mrs. Joan Hodges has been there, manning the phones. And every year, Russ bemoans the fact that, once again, her late husband, legendary Brooklyn Dodger first baseman and manager of the 1969 Miracle Mets, Gil Hodges, has been unfairly denied induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Best I can tell, his stats make a pretty good case for his admittance into Cooperstown, but one would think the job he did taking the lowly Mets from the depths of the National League to a World's Championship in two short years would be enough to put him over the top! Unfortunately, he died of a sudden heart attack during spring training way back in 1972, so Mrs. Hodges has been a widow for a long, long time now. Every year, she takes calls for MDA, and every year she listens to Salzburg's well-meaning--but, by now, probably depressing--call for Gil's entrance into the Hall. The woman's not getting any younger, and her hubby has gotten tantalizingly close several times during recent vote tallies, so I find myself just cringing when Russ brings the topic up yet once again. The year the sportswriters finally see fit to add Hodges to the august institution, well, that'll be one year I'll watch the NY portion of the telethon with true glee. if only because I know then Salzburg'll finally have to stop with his inadvertent torture of the poor woman!

And who knows? Maybe if I'm really, REALLY lucky, I'll get to hear Lizzie Gore sing "It's My Party"--and I won't cry, even if I want to, just because it ISN'T really her song?....
September 7th, 2005
It's back to school for all the boys, girls, and ducks at The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode Twenty-Six!

Numbers game: Peter Sanderson's Comics In Context 100, Robby Reed's Dial B For Blog, Issue 100, Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin, Post 1000! Good job, fellas--I owe you each a cake!

One of the best Superman stories ever appeared in the pages of HITMAN! Honest! This lavishly illustrated entry over at Dave's Long Box saves me the trouble of explaining this seemingly contradictory statement to the uniformed, as I pretty much agree with Dave's sentiments in toto (and your little dog, Krypto, too!...)

Buddy Roger Green posts a drawing that looks like something I might've done as a quick sketch a couple of decades back, only now it appears to be being used as a mascot of sorts for some small internet company--and I have NO memory of doing the illo! Rog even has me doubting that I did--but c'mon, who ELSE draws such lousy feet?...

Roger also writes a well-reasoned piece on Hurricane Katrina and the government's response (or was that, non-response?...).

Tip-top cartoonist Scott Saavedra is offering some of his fine funnybooks to those folks who donate to the relief effort. Here are the details.

Bob over at Four Realities uses the cover of an old issue of ACTION COMICS to offer some trenchant--and sadly, all too true--social commentary.

And finally, regarding the whole sorry situation down there on the Gulf Coast, I haven't heard anybody crystallize my own feelings and put them into words much better than MSNBC's Keith Olbermann did on "Countdown" the other night. Please, if you haven't already, read the transcript--or if you prefer, watch the video, as Olbermann's one of those broadcaster's whose delivery truly helps bring home the meaning of his words in a way that merely reading them wouldn't.

(Mark Evanier--also apparently a big fan of "The Good Guys"--linked to this shortly after it aired, but I felt it was important enough to second his emotion. Incidentally, I'd just like to note that, regarding this latest crisis, Mark wrote one of those unforgettable lines that just sticks with you. About all the taxes we've paid at the behest of our leaders after 9/11 on their insistence that it was what absolutely necessary to keep us safe--and then, in light of how things were handled after the first really big disaster DID occur, he said...

You get the feeling we spent $30 billion just to have some rude people make us take our shoes off at the airport?

Yeah, I do--Mark, and it's a real sinking feeling, lemme tell ya...)
September 6th, 2005
Maynard G. Krebs was one of my all-time favorite TV characters and was always the main reason to watch "Dobie Gillis" each week..

Gilligan? No, uh uh--not so much. Way, WAY too silly a show--even for me.

But the real forgotten treasure on the late Bob Denver's resume was Rufus Butterworth.

Teamed with Herb Edelman's Bert Gramus, Rufus was one of "The Good Guys", the main protagonists (along with Bert's wife, Claudia, played by Joyce Van Patten) on the CBS sitcom of the same name, an undervalued little show that ran from the fall of 1968 on through the middle of its second season, when it was unfortunately cancelled in January of 1970. Rufus, y'see, drove a cab, Bert and his wife ran a diner, and the two childhood friends were forever embarking on one ill-fated money-making scheme after another. Hilarity, if memory serves, invariably ensued...

Truth is, I LOVED that show. It may not have been nearly as wonderful as I remember it, but it at least made a modicum of sense while providing yocks (unlike that island-based show). It was broadcast during my late teens, a period in my life when I was watching very little TV. Still, it was one of the few programs I made a point of catching regularly back in those halcyon--and pre-VCR--years of '68 and '69. The long-standing affection I'd developed for the actor because of his riotous Maynard characterization was finally--after enduring the nonsensical "Gilligan's Island"--rewarded with "The Good Guys" (I also became a huge fan of Herb Edelman in the process). In an era of high-concept shows, it was relatively low, but in its own quiet way, a very entertaining one.

Bob Denver had a couple of more shows after that--a Saturday morning farce with Chuck McCann, "Far Out Space Nuts" in 1975, and a syndicated sitcom (with Forrest Tucker) called "Dusty'sTrail" in 1973, but I never quite mustered enough enthusiasm to watch either one. Outside of checking in on a few of the latter-day "Gilligan's Island" reunion movies (yes, friends, there IS a sucker born every minute..), "The Good Guys" was pretty much the last time I followed the antics of Bob Denver.

I heard a funny story from my wife and her relatives, though. Seems as if the man who came to prominence epitomizing the Beat generation--at least, for middle-class sitcom viewers--spent the late sixties and early seventies living in the town whose name is generally associated with the hippie counterculture, Woodstock, New York. Although none of the Moss's--who've lived on the outskirts of that famed art and music colony for years now--ever claimed a Bob sighting (either Denver OR Dylan), there WAS the oft repeated incident concerning the (by now long time former) Mrs. Denver walking proudly down the streets of town, her pet leopard being held by nothing more than a tenuous leash!

So, if you ever wondered, WHO would've been best suited for Gilligan, Ginger or Mary Ann, howabout instead C.), the lady with the zoo animal? Bob and her split up years ago, though she remained in town long after he'd left (much to the consternation of many, I've been told). If only he could've gotten off that damn island as easily...

Rest in peace, Mr. D...
September 5th, 2005
About a day after the startling devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina had finally set in, a thought crept into my mind--this is surely going to have an affect on the upcoming Jerry Lewis telethon...

Well, the show's been over for a few hours now, and I was right--in fact, it changed the tenor of the whole affair. The only thing that I couldn't have predicted when the notion first hit me was just exactly HOW...

Jerry looked much better than he has the past few years, the medical problems that made him--as he told Larry King Friday night-- "look like Dom Deluise", apparently behind him. He's happily off the steroid medication,, though he was disappointed that, during the entire period, "I only hit two home runs!"
His energy level was higher, he was up on his feet much more often than during recent telethon's, but most importantly, he realized what he had to do. Jerry Lewis had to ask people to contribute to a charity other than the one he's devoted his entire adult life to. Clearly, he had no choice. He asked viewers to split their contributions--or double them, if at all possible--sending half to MDA, and half to the Salvation Army. Now, this easily could've come off sounding like a desperate ploy to get some money--ANY money--from an understandably otherwise preoccupied nation, but to Lewis's credit--and to my mild surprise--it didn't.

Long-time readers are well aware of my cockeyed fascination with Jerry. His combination of raging ego, sheer unpredictably, and sheen of glossy show-biz phoniness has always made watching him mesmerizing. He's easy to mock, and despite all his good work, I've never quite been able to work up an unqualified admiration for the man. But now that this year's telethon is over and done with, that's EXACTLY how I feel.

Because any seeming insincerity shown by the host while lavishly introducing the likes of old cronies Max Alexander, Jack Jones. Maureen McGovern, Norm Crosby, or the wonderfully named Bob Zany, was trumped a thousand times over by the unqualified Bush cronies whose actions this past week crossed over from lamentable phoniness into the dangerous realm of outright lies and purposely stated untruths, that Jerry Lewis asking his viewers to do what our government could not (or would not?) do to alleviate the unnecessarily drawn-out suffering of the hurricane's victims, THAT finally made the funnyman a true hero in my eyes.

Since my brief outburst of political punditry back around last year's regrettable Presidential election, I've kept my mouth shut. You really don't want to hear me railing about current events, and I understand that. So I've let the egregiously misguided war in Iraq drag on, sans comment. But even I have my limits, and when I see the sort of callous stupidity--initially accompanied by thoroughly misplaced backslapping, then quickly replaced by frantic butt-preserving backpedaling--demonstrated by the officials charged with the public's safety, to say I'm monumentally disgusted is a vast understatement. I didn't think it was possible for me to GET more disgusted at the current administration, but surprise, surprise--I can, and I have.

So it seems we need people like Jerry Lewis. We need people like him beating the drum. Just pick yourselves a reputable charity and send them some money. Because I think it's blatantly obvious by now that the Bush cartel has no real intention of helping anybody without being forced to--unless you're a rich white man, you're on your own for the foreseeable future, folks (and even then, I wouldn't trust this bunch...).

I'm wondering--is there ANY way we can get us one of those recall elections like they had in California a few years ago? If so, let me hereby proudly nominate Jerry Lewis for the highest office in the land.

Heck, the way I'm feeling right about now, the phrase "President Gary Coleman" has a seductively strange appeal!...
September 4th, 2005
Last Sunday, Julie and I took a day trip down to New York City.

This was done at my daughter's urging. During the past school year, she'd taken the two hour train ride into the city twice with her art class, and each time, enjoyed herself immensely wandering around the Big Apple. Conversely, I've always shied away from this world-famous seething metropolis. Aside from the comics convention I attended with my pal Rocco back in June (which I STILL haven't written about, I know, I know...), I hadn't been into Manhattan proper since the kid was eight or nine, when we all drove in--Lynn and Grandma Moss as well--to visit the Museum of Natural History.

Lynn wasn't going this time, as her bad knee precludes a lot of walking. Oh, she could've done it, but the truth is, it would've slowed our pace down quite a bit. That was okay with me, but Julie asked her mom--somewhat gingerly--if this time around, she might have just dad accompany her on this proposed jaunt, mainly for reasons of expedience. Luckily for her, Lynn was fine with the idea, I wasn't, though--y'see, I have a terrible sense of direction, and usually need a competent companion in tow, or be prepared to get hopelessly lost. Having just turned fifteen the other day, Julie assured me SHE was capable of being my safety net. Well, I had my doubts, but in the end, I couldn't say no to her. I rarely can...

On the trip down, a very chatty college girl sat in the seat in front of us, turning around frequently to ask us one question or another. Eventually, we learned she was from Texas, and she'd spent the entire summer in our area, going door to door selling study guides to parents. Yeah, she was one of THOSE--all personable, nice rap, then--KA-CHINK!--zooming in for the kill. I used to let these people in my house, but not for years. Fact is, they rarely come around our area at all, though one did early in June. At the time, once I determined what was going on--about thirty seconds in--I politely said no thanks and sent the salesgirl swiftly on her way. The odd thing was, the girl sitting in front of us did indeed look somewhat familiar to me (which I decided not to tell her, because I sure wouldn't want it to be mistaken for some sorta creepy pick-up line)--and then SHE she said I looked familiar! Even though the towns she canvassed didn't include Wappingers Falls, the list DID cover some of the adjoining villages, so maybe, just maybe, she crossed over into my neighborhood without realizing it, and SHE was in fact the one I gave the boot to earlier this summer! Certainly an odd, odd coincidence if it was her. Ultimately, she seemed like a nice kid--but believe me, I STILL wasn't buying...

(Another incredulous moment: while killing some time in a small shop inside GCS waiting to board our train home, we bumped into the mother of one of the girls from the soccer team I coached a few years back! How likely was THAT? Not likely at all, but hey, it happened, honest...)

Well, we finally arrived in Grand Central Station about a half hour before noon. One ominous note--back in June, Rocco and I had seen numerous soldiers in camouflage gear patrolling the cavernous environs, but this time, they all had their rifles out and at the ready! Kind of unnerving...

Hungry, we went out on the streets looking for lunch, and instead found a street fair spanning at least a dozen blocks. Without going very far, Julie managed to find herself a spinach pie, and afterward, we bought a freshly baked miniature key lime pie, which we shared. Yum!

Then it was back into the station, and down into the subways. This is where it always gets tricky for me, folks, and thus, where most of my concerns lay.

I'm happy to report my daughter must've had her bearings passed down from Lynn's side of the family, as we had absolutely NO problems the rest of the day. We didn't get lost once! Sure, I know that probably would've made for a better story, but hey, cut me some slack--I can't ALWAYS suffer for my art, y'know!

Our main destination was The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a quick visit to the adjacent Central Park to follow. Now, here's something that I myself find sorta hard to believe: in the at least fifty visits I've made to Manhattan over the years (I grew up fifty miles away on Long Island, I hastily remind all), I'd NEVER been to Central Park before! In the seventies, when I was a teenager, it had a pretty bad reputation, so I figured, why bother? Who needs the grief? Besides, only a small percentage of those past excursions could've been considered purely tourist-like. Over the years, mostly I went into the greatest city on earth to attend either a comic book convention, or to drop by the offices of a comic book company! Yeesh--talk about your tunnel vision! But Julie was having none of THAT single-mindedness this time around--can you blame her?

We only had a comparatively short amount of time to spend in Central Park after coming out of the museum, but I was amazed by the breadth of it. We wandered around, watching a group of senior citizens gleefully folk dance in one small area while kids played baseball across the way. And right between the two was a small pond, some rocks, and--yup--a thoughtful looking Julie Hembeck (probably trying to figure out the best subway route back to home base).
As for the Museum, well, we spent about three hours in there, and I guarantee you, it wasn't nearly long enough. They've got it all, gang--ancient art, modern art, and even art that doesn't make a whole lot of sense! What museum would be complete without some of THAT?

The long hall exhibiting the Greek statuary was particularly impressive. Classically sculpted anatomy--you've all seen the pictures. But always it's the rippled torsos that gets the big play--what, I wondered, about the oft-neglected backsides? Well, fret not, fanny fans--as the picture below so ably demonstrates, the Greeks sure knew their butts!
Picassos, Lichtensteins, Warhols--and probably the best six dollar muffin I'll ever eat (hopefully)--the Met has 'em all! Julie was thrilled to find this very familiar Van Gogh hanging in one of the galleries, and in fact, insisted that I not only take her picture admiring it, but to post it here on site as well. And like I said, it's difficult for me to deny her, so...
The Museum's current big attraction was an extensive showing of paintings by the French painter, Henri Matisse. However, by the time we reached the crowded second floor gallery housing the bountiful display, we were both getting a bit punchy. So, after looking at masterful painting after masterful painting by this heralded, um, master, I figured the time had come to try and amuse my daughter.

"Hey Julie, " I said, "If this guy had been Lynn's brother, you know what that would make you?". She said she didn't know--I don't think she WANTED to know--but I told her anyway: "The niece of Matisse!"

Yeah, she rolled her eyes--what teen-ager wouldn't? But that didn't stop me. While I should've been appreciating the gorgeous art, I was instead rattling off a whole series of these inane gags. Later, whiling away the time on the train ride home, Julie helped me perfect them all into a little narrative, which I will now share with you...

To supplement his earnings as an artist, the Frenchman once worked as a short-order cook, but was fired by the restaurant's owner. Why? As his boss exclaimed,

"Too much grease, Matisse!"

With no regular income coming in, the beleaguered painter couldn't pay his meager rent, and was soon kicked out of his apartment. How come? In the words of his angry landlord,

"You've broken the lease, Matisse!"

Desperate and with no other options open to him, the artist soon turned to a life of crime. but nor for long. Eventually, he found himself surrounded by the authorities,

"This is the police, Matisse--cease!!"

But he didn't, so they shot him dead. At his funeral, you know what they said, don't you? Yup--

"Rest in peace, Matisse."

Yeah, I know--the preceding may likely be the LAMEST thing ever to see light on this website--and given the competition, that sure is saying something. Sorry

Anyway, we finished our day with a quick trip down to Chinatown (another NYC location I'd never previously explored). Julie had heard all sorts of raves about the area, but we were both disappointed to find Canal Street made up mostly of shop after shop filled with cheap--and not so cheap--junk. If it weren't for the obvious heritage of most of the shop owners, it would've looked like just about any other street in the big city, so we soon got back on the subway, giving up on our plans to eat some authentic Chinese food for dinner (we DID find a Burger King with some Chinese characters on its store front, but that was about it), and instead wound up chowing down in a TGI Fridays a block away from Grand Central. The food was acceptable, even if the prices weren't--fifteen bucks for my club sandwich (and fries), and a cool twenty for Julie's fajitas, about twice the going rate of what we'd pay in our neck of the woods.

All good things must come to an end, though, and so we made it home safe and sound round abouts 9:30, just about twelve hours after we had initially embarked on our journey. I'd learned a lot, including gaining a whole new appreciation for the the work of the French Fauvist.

After all, you didn't think I came away hating the Matisse's to pieces, did you? (And uh huh--that was ONE quip I'd spared Julie, as there was simply no way she'd get the reference. Heck, she probably even thought "El Kabong" was a painting by Picasso...)
September 3rd, 2005
"It was the third of September, that day I'll always remember"...

I'm not likely to EVER forget that line from the Temptations classic, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", because, besides being a tremendous piece of music in and of itself, it coincidentally also notes the very day we brought our baby girl, Julie, home from the hospital after an extended stay following a particularly difficult birth. And whaddaya think was flickering on the waiting area TV overhead as we FINALLY signed our newborn out? The Jerry Lewis Telethon! Yup, that surely was one day I'll ALWAYS remember!...

In other news, noted Marxist, Gary Sassaman, emailed me the following anecdote relating to one of our recent discussion topics...

My favorite quote about GUMMO MARX is supposedly when his kid was asked in school what his dad did for a living, he said his dad was GROUCHO Marx. When Gummo asked why he said that, the kid replied, who knows who Gummo Marx is

But wait--there's more! I had identified Gummo as the most obscure of Marx siblings, but Alan Plessinger begged to differ...

In my opinion, the most obscure Marx brother was not Gummo. There was a sixth Marx brother, Manfred Marx, who died in infancy, and would have been the oldest. As Groucho once said, "I wonder what ever would've become of Manny Marx?"

Here's the Chronology:

Manfred Marx is born, dies in infancy - 1885-1888, Chico is born - 1887, Harpo is born - 1888, Groucho is born - 1890, Gummo is born - 1897, Zeppo is born - 1901

Wow. Y'know, I really should've known about this--I knew about Jessie Garon Presley, after all--but no, somehow, this was completely new information to me. Thanks for that salient fact, Alan. And hey, wouldn't it have eventually been Manno Marx? Nah--they would've surely come up with a better stage name than THAT!

On the other hand, someone DID think "Gummo" was a catchy moniker, didn't they?...
September 2nd, 2005
As regular readers know, sometimes I tell you little diary-like stories of my life. Nothing too exciting--I lead a rather mundane existence, after all--but on occasion it's fun (well, for ME, at least) to get these ephemeral anecdotes down for what passes for posterity here on the internet. Given that set up, I confess I've been meaning to tell you a bit about a very rare day trip I made to New York City recently. I probably still will--and maybe as soon as tomorrow.

But not today.

Y'see, we almost didn't go on in when we heard the weather forecast for the day of our potential jaunt--rain. After weeks on bone dry weather hereabouts in upstate New York, we were due rain on the one day our big trip was planned, and so we hesitated. In the end, though, we went. Happily, the rain that did come fell during the several hours we spent inside, blissfully unaware, and so we suffered nothing more than a brief sprinkle shortly before leaving for home.

On Sunday.

When, in retrospect to what was going on down South at the very same time, our concern about getting a teensy bit damp now seems embarrassingly trivial by comparison.

The sheer horror of what's currently transpiring in Louisiana is gut-wrenching. It brings to mind that old cliche about the aftermath of a nuclear attack, that the living will soon enough envy the dead. Obviously, that's an overstatement in this case--these survivors aren't doomed to die of radiation poisoning, luckily, so they do have a chance to get out of this mess alive. But only a chance, not a guarantee. No food, no water, no medicine, the tremendous heat, and little hope--makes for a very, very bad combination.

And the media. I'm gonna give them the benefit of the doubt here and assume they mean well (well, most of them, anyway), but how long before some on the scene reporter finds him or herself part of a life and death struggle for something so simple as food? I've already heard one of the correspondents on MSNBC say she and her crew were told by the authorities not to eat anything in front of the people milling around helplessly on the streets, trapped by the devastation, and without access to satellite trucks. Knowing this makes watching the news all the more disturbing, because unlike other past domestic disasters, where by now the worst would be over, with rebuilding underway, the hurricane portion of this story may very well be only the prologue to the true horrors to come.

So in light of this, I just couldn't bring myself to tell you another goofy little story about myself, particularly one that featured me stressing out at the mere notion of getting a little wet.

I'll tell it to you soon. Who knows--we might all benefit from the mindless diversion? But when I do, I'm gonna leave out the part about the weather. Truth is, it's gonna be an awful long time before I'm gonna feel comfortable complaining about the rain again...
September 1st, 2005
WHO is Robby Reed?

Ever since Dial B For Blog hit the internet, that's the unspoken question ALL comics aficionados' have been asking themselves. Surely it had to be an alias, based upon the bespeckled lead character of the endearingly cheesy Silver Age DC Comics series that the site took its name from, HOUSE OF MYSTERY's "Dial H For Hero".

But was it?
After all, when Nero Wolfe fans first heard of the celebrated writer (and cartoonist) Archie Goodwin, how many of THEM found the veracity of that name to be dubious? And when devotees of a certain DC Comics western protagonist initially came across the works of cartoonist (and writer) Batton Lash, how many of THEM had their credulity stretched as well?

But yes, Virginia--there IS a Batton Lash (and, sadly, there once WAS an Archie Goodwin), so why not a Robby Reed as well? After all, the name "Robert Reed" is a far more common one than either AG or BL, so why not?

Um--did I say ROBERT Reed?

Geez, I guess OUR Robby could just as easily have devoted his blog to "The Brady Bunch", huh? Or maybe the old legal drama preceding that (coff coff) "classic" sitcom, "The Defenders"? (Say, wasn't there a comic called THE DEFENDERS too? Hey, THERE'S the kernel of an idea for a future entry, Robby/Robert/Bob-O, me lad!...)

Of course, regardless of his actual identity, it was obvious almost from the start that friend Robby was a man of voluminous knowledge, great taste, top-notch design sense, expert technical abilities, and, apparently, a whole LOTTA time on his hands! Dial B For Blog skews superb in each of those foregoing categories, and appears on a nearly daily basis as well. HOW could Robby ever possibly earn any more of my respect and admiration?

Simple enough--throw ME into the mix!

Yup, Dial B For Blog's 99th gala edition is a refurbished (and slightly edited) colorized version of an old (real, REAL old, as in late seventies vintage) Dateline:@#$% strip I did featuring Cartoon Fred interviewing (you guessed it) Robby Reed!!

Now, the truth is, it's NOT one of my own personal favorites, as far as those strips go (there were, in fact, NO immediate plans to post it here on site--though I probably should share the accompanying page of character caricatures with you sometime soon, as Robby chose to leave that part out). Shaky lettering, mediocre art, maybe (just MAYBE) one good gag--nope, not a favorite. Still, I feel somehow honored to now be a permanent part of the grooviness that is...Dial B For Blog!! Thanks, Robby--or whoever the heck you are! We all await the epochal 100th installment later tonight!

(Meanwhile, all this name chatter has got me to thinking--I wonder what ever happened to one of my favorite late sixties Charlton Comics scribes, Norm DiPluhm? Now, THERE was a name to conjure with!...)

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