Archive - September 2006
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September 29th, 2006

In recent days, I've alluded to some artwork I've been doing, so today, all in one fell swoop, we're going to unmercifully plug everything we possibly can, and then be done with it, okay? Deep breath now...

Several readers have kindly informed me that my contribution to Marvel's series of STAN LEE is already on the stands, and in fact appears in STAN LEE MEETS THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I was actually unaware of exactly which book it was going to turn up in, since the editors hadn't decided where to slot my modest two-pager back when I sent it in. Causing even more confusion was my paycheck, which identified it as being part of something called STAN LEE'S TALES TO ASTONISH!! But at least now I FINALLY know where to send you folks to look for it (I haven't seen it myself yet, as i only get my comics once a month, delivered with tender loving care from the fine folks at MEC Comics down south).

I*n case you haven't seen it yet, it features not only Princess Python, the Beetle, and Cartoon Fred's first appearance between the covers of a Marvel publication in well over a decade, but it also offers a rare and long overdue role for"Pinky" Pinkerton! Sniff sniff--I smell Harvey Award!

Here's a quick black and white snippet to arouse your curiosity...
Then there's CIVIL WARDROBE, the upcoming black and white parody one shot masterminded (and completely written by) Lying In the Gutters own Rich Johnson.. There are plenty of swell artist involved in this project, of which I'm happy to be but one. My single page deals with (wait for it) Captain American Idol!...
Not scheduled yet, but sure to come out sometime this year(for reasons that'll soon become obvious), yours truly contributed a two-page strip (words and pictures, with nifty colors swathed on by editor Bob Polio) for THE TICK'S TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL! Twenty years! And seems like it was just yesterday when I was saying "WHO the @#$% is the Tick?" (Actually, I think it was just yesterday that I was saying "Get that @#$%ing tick off me!" when one of my cats snuggled up on my lap, bringing an uninvited piggybacker along for the ride. But that has nothing to do with my story, does it? Let's move on...)
Years ago, when I was first starting out, I somehow snagged a job as the staff cartoonist for The Daily Planet, which some of you may recall from the back pages of late seventies era DC Comics. Well, that gig ended quite awhile back, but I'm happy to announce that I'm now back in the newspaper biz, contributing similar--but necessarily Marvel oriented--gag strips to the upcoming Daily Bugle! This is a monthly deal, and though i missed out on making it into the debut issue, I should manage to come up with something for (hopefully) all subsequent editions! Can the return of Brother Voodoo be far off, I wonder? (Answer: nope!)

To whet your appetite, here's the middle of a three panel sequence (which will ultimately be printed in color)--there's no way you can possibly guess the joke from this, so don't even try. Just get yourselves a copy of The Bugle when it hits the stands--trust me, JJJ will love you for it!
Beyond all that, we have something in the very nascent stages of development that, should it come to fruition--no guarantees yet--it'll be cooler than cool!

in the meantime, those of you who find you have money burning a hole in your pocket, needing to be spent on some sort of illustrations, please keep in mind that--HEY!-- I'm out here! Publishers with further anniversary celebrations might well want to keep me in mind, and collectors, be assured we're still taking on commissions! I've recently learned that John Byrne is churning out reproductions of his old X-MEN covers for prices in the mid-four figure range! All well and good, but if you find that that fee is a mite stiff, be advised that we'll redo those very same covers in the low three figure range--AND we'll throw in knee squiggles at no extra price! Can JB say the same? I think not. All the details are over on our Sales page.
And speaking of which, you here's this week's freshly minted Classic Cover redo: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY#116. That there is the link to my unadorned version, and this here is the link to the current eBay auction wherein I try to unload--er, I mean, bestow--this piece on some lucky bidder.!

This particular issue, by the way, was a pivotal one: Vince Colletta began inking Jack Kirby's pencils on the lead Thor segment regularly with this 1965 edition, and storywise, it signalled Asgard becoming the primary setting of the series, with the Thunder God's Earth bound antics taking a decided back seat. And unlike most other readers, who seemingly lapped up the grandeur with a spoon, I much preferred MY Thor in New York City, tussling with the likes of the Cobra and Mr. Hyde, all the while being inked by Chic Stone, but hey, that's just me. I still always really dug the "Trial of the Gods" cover, even if the storyline ultimately left me cold.

And now, my yakking about my drawings has--what else?--drawn to an end! Lucky you!
September 29th, 2006
Well, at least now we know...
Pedro's out for the rest of the year, which amounts at this point to the ever important post season. A bad break? Sure, but Pedro was out most of the season anyway, and the Mets (save for their recent downturn) trampled merrily across the NL without him. Still, without his exemplary April and May to set the tone, the Mets might've never wound up where they are today, so all kudos and appreciation to the mighty Pedro for his crucial contributions this season. It's too bad he won't be able to help in October, but perhaps it's best the team knows now, and doesn't send an ill-prepared Pedro out to the mound, essentially forfeiting a win.

Speaking of which, hey, the Mets actually chalked up a "W" last night! Nice work fellas--a little bit overdue, but nice...

(And pardon my preoccupation with NY tabloid covers. My dad used to buy all three of these papers on a daily basis, and nothing says baseball to me like the back page tabs!)
September 28th, 2006
Uh oh...
..and there was a THIRD cover with the exact same headline (Newsday), but for some reason I couldn't get it to copy. Doesn't matter--you get the idea. The Mets are in trouble--big deep nasty trouble. And if it were just Pedro, that'd be one thing, but they're 3 and 10 in their last thirteen and will need to win their final four games of the regular season to even just finish September with a five hundred record for the month! And the hitting has come to a screeching halt. the last two nights in Atlanta, as the Braves outscored the Mets 25 to 1!

25 to 1--are those suddenly the odds against us seeing a Subway Series this fall? Stay tuned...
September 28th, 2006
Okay, I'll admit it--in recent weeks, due to extra time spent at the drawing board (about which more soon), my column over at Quick Stop Entertainment has featured either recycled or hastily assembled material (of, ahem, only the highest possible quality, natch...), but not this time around. This week, The Fred Hembeck Show Episode 74 is not only all new and of a fairly decent length, but it also covers a topic I've shied away from entirely in the nearly four years I've had an active presence here on the world wide web.

Yes, friends, that's right--I'm outing myself today.

(And no, not like THAT. If you're at all curious to learn my heretofore secret passion, well, you should know how to work that link button by now, amigos!...)
September 25th, 2006
Who is...
Answer: Ira Schnapp!

Next question, then--WHO is Ira Schnapp?
Short answer--just one of the most important (and least celebrated) creators in the whole entire history of comic books, is all!

For all the details--and I do mean ALL--here's a link to the first part of an exhaustive ten part series lovingly researched and assembled by Dial B For Blog's Robby Reed! (When this entire epic is finally in place, I'll come back and post another entry here at Fred Sez, complete with links to each and every chapter, but for now, we'll start you off with the debut episode.) Robby's search for the truth about his subject was so wide ranging that he even came to me looking for information about Schnapp's shrouded past! Alas, I had no pertinent info to contribute, but perhaps because Robby could sense my palpable enthusiasm for his project, he instead enlisted my help in creating the Visionary logo (based on his basic design), the one you see above!

So yeah, maybe I'm biased, but even if i had nothing whatsoever to do with this undertaking of Reed's, I'd still be giddily plugging his ground-breaking series! Because, even more than Kirby, Swan, Ditko, Infantino, Kane or Kubert, the work of Ira Schnapp screams "Silver Age" to me!

So just WHO is Ira Schnapp? Hey, by now, you should KNOW where to go for those answers!

Sockamagee--what's taking you so long?
September 22nd, 2006
Here's your link to The Fred Hembeck Show, Episode 73--which, truth be known, was extracted from this here blog's October 2003 Archives, but unless you read it then, it'll be new to you now! Trust me.

The piece bears no connection whatsoever to Neal Adams' way cool cover for AVENGERS #92, with Thor misquoting George Harrison (even if the Beatles truly WERE bigger than Odin back in their heyday...), but guess what? Here's a link to my version--and here's a link to (uh huh) the eBay auction for same. I bid thee--BID!

My linking has been pretty lax lately--my Comics Links Page is WAAAY overdue for an updating--but here's a pretty nifty site focusing on good ol' Batman, with lotsa stuff about that TV show he usta have. Check it out!

And don't forget Roger Green, The Al Wiseman Blog, and Comics In Context, where Peter Sanderson recounts his activities at this year's San Diego Con in real time! That's three days of reading well spent, folks!
September 19th, 2006
After being swept in Pittsburgh over the weekend--only the second series sweep to leave the team winless all season--the Mets came home to Shea Stadium last night and beat the Marlins 4-0, chalking up that suddenly elusive final "W" needed to award the Mets their well deserved--and long inevitable--championship. This scenario echoed that of the legendary 1986 team, who likewise were running away with the division, only to lose 5 out of 6 on the road as the prize was in reach, putting off their clinching (twenty years and one day earlier) until they too were happily ensconced in front of the home crowd. Hey, if these guys are gonna mimic their forbearers, whoo boy, we're in for one heck of an October! Game 6 of the World Series should prove to be especially heart-stopping.

Congrats, fellas! I had nothing to do with it, true, but i can't help feeling that, somehow, someway, I did! THAT'S what makes me a fan! Go Mets!

(And comics aficionados--your indulgence please. I'll see you in November!...)
September 14th, 2006
The 72nd episode of The Fred Hembeck Show is devoted to Mark Gruenwald, ten years after the one time Marvel mainstay's untimely passing, and features guest contributions from Max Brighel and Jim Salicrup.

On a far lighter note, here's my Classic Cover Redo of the Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl from late 1966. Longtime readers are well aware of my continuous whining regarding the mid-sixties "Batman" TV show, but I NEVER included Batgirl among its many atrocities! Proving, I suppose, that some good comes out of EVERYTHING...

And--Holy Self-Promotion!--here's the link to the eBay auction for my version of that Infantino/Anderson Bat-classic!

Pow! Bam! And Bid!

September 8th, 2006
Let's try and cover us a wide variety of topics here today, okay? And we'll start off with that new Fantastic Four cartoon that debuted last week...

I'm not much of a cartoon guy, to be honest. These days, unless a character's named Simpson, Hill, or Pants, I'm just not interested. I DID enjoy those swell Batman and Superman toons from the nineties, however (though midway through the run of "Batman Beyond", I began to lose interest). I only ever watched a few of the JLA episodes, and none of the Teen Titans ones (though I liked the few MTV Spider-Man cartoons that i caught), but i tuned in last Saturday night because, hey, this was The Fantastic Four, dig? These were my childhood faves, after all (as opposed to the Teen Titans, who I remember from my own teen years mostly for Bob Haney's embarrassingly unsuccessful attempts to write "hip" dialog for his young charges).

And now, just like the last time the FF had their own animated series--early nineties, late eighties?--I've seen the opener, and have absolutely no desire to tune in again. Sorry. Look, I didn't mind the costume redesigns so much--though the Thing having "4" seemingly painted on his chest strikes me as more than a little silly--but I found the characterizations the quartet were saddled with grating from the outset. Sue being so strident and Reed's ineffectual wimpiness--well, somehow, that went over okay in last year's live action movie, but here it just hit a wrong note. Similarly, Johnny's thoughtlessly reckless devil may care attitude worked on the big screen, but just made him appear carelessly stupid in the cartoon. And while the outfits were acceptable to me, I couldn't take Johnny's crazy anime haircut, nor the razor-sharp pointy chins that now appear to run in the Storm family. Plus, I stopped the tape and looked over the credits in slow motion, but try as I might, I couldn't find the name Jack Kirby anywhere! So on top of the mediocre animation, we've gotta take points off for that unfortunate oversight. Hey, I caught a few minutes of the Doom Patrol episode of the Titans toon a few days before the FF hit the airwaves while I flipping through the channels, and it was so obviously superior to what Marvel had to offer that there's no way I can, in good conscience, watch a substandard FF show and not watch the Titans too. But I'm not gonna watch the Titans, so good luck FF--you'll just have to carry on without me (or without Jack, apparently...)

Speaking of TV, the new season is nearly upon us, and once again, I'm going to try my best to avoid watching--and inevitably getting hooked into--any new programs. The two exceptions? As a lifelong SNL viewer, I'm gonna give the pair of NBC shows inspired by the comedy institution a peek. Y'know, at first, I thought it was a bad move for both shows to have numbers in their titles, figuring it might well serve to confuse potential viewers, but just today it hit me and i finally I figured out the true genius behind this mathematical move. Here's how you tell them apart: "30 Rock" is thirty minutes long, and "Studio 60" is--surprise!--sixty minutes in length! simple, huh? Gee, it's good to see that that folks who coined the name "Playhouse 90" are getting work again...

After Jerry rung down the curtain on his telethon Monday night, I rounded up Lynn and Julie, and off we went to the local two buck theater for a fine family evening at the movies.

What'd we see?

"Clerks 2".

That completes this summer's marathon Kevin Smith-fest (aside from the yet to be unspooled "Jersey Girl"--which I'd be interested to see if only to get a gander at how he handles more traditional material), and was the first one of his movies that we've viewed with an audience. I can see why the man has the fans that he does, though I've got admit, the relentless vulgarities do get wearying at times. I'm no prude, but I can't ever recall having the sort of conversations that Smith's characters have with a numbing casualness. Still, there's an obvious intelligence beaming out at you from under all that potty talk, and if you can get past the coarseness of the dialog, I've found Smith's movies to be insidiously entertaining, funny, and--this is the clincher--undeniably sweet. It's just that, like in "Clerks 2", the moment where the two lovers finally realize that they're meant for each other, the touching scene is played simultaneously with an off screen performance of "inter-species erotica" (and isn't THAT the catch-phrase all the hip kids'll soon be repeating at school this fall?...)!

(And I was curious at to exactly which character Jason Lee would be reprising in this movie--the one from "Mallrats" or the cartoonist from "Chasing Amy" (BOTH of whom last appeared--though not at the same time--in "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back")? Smith surprised us all by giving Lee yet a third persona. I suppose that "Earl" mustache just wasn't coming off, and since it didn't work with the earlier characterizations, well, time to make it a trio...

And then there was summer--what happened to it? August 21st was the last day anybody around here went into the pool, and with the low seventies daytime temperatures (and the chilly fifties at night) we've been getting lately, it's likely to be the last. Julie's never missed an opportunity to swim at her birthday party before, but she did this year. I'm glad we only had four local girls come by to celebrate--when it's a dozen or more, like some years, you want them out of the house as much as you can manage, and the pool usually does the trick! Y'know, we've even been known to dip in as last as the third week of September, but that's looking mighty unlikely. Funny--the first week of August, the mercury was hitting near one hundred for each of several excruciating days, and now that all seems like a distant memory...

So too does showing Julie how to drive around a sparsely used parking lot, about a week before she turned sixteen. Me, I'm thinking we'd do that for about a month, then spend another month driving slowly around the traffic-light backroads of our home neighborhood, and then maybe--MAYBE-- we'd venture out into traffic! But her mom ruined THOSE plans by letting her drive home after she passed her learner's permit test on the 25th, and now she's been driving every opportunity possible! She's actually doing surprisingly well, but I've gotta admit, it's a very disconcerting feeling sitting alongside someone who's got almost zippo experience behind the wheel, even while in only moderate traffic! The first time for me was a week ago today, and, yup, there was a little white knuckle fever happening, but she's improved rapidly since then. Now I feel almost comfortable with her in the pilot's berth! (Of course, Julie made her first glaring boo-boo in an A&P parking lot the other day, failing to stop at a stop sign, and driving in front of an oncoming car. Luckily, that car, also being in a parking lot, was driving slowly, so no harm was done, though the lady behind the wheel rolled down her window and admonished us. Julie made it back to our house all right, but the experience did bring home the fact that this whole driving thing is serious business, and I can tell she's going to learn from that error. And if she doesn't, well, this may be my last blog entry...)

Julie began her junior year of high school Wednesday--and then topped her previous personal best by two days for soonest absence by staying home on Thursday! Can't blame her though--for some inexplicable reason she had, for the first time ever, hives--and on her face no less! But after scoring some meds, she improved enough to head off this morning. The welcome back picnic is this afternoon, so there was no missing THAT, after all! Hey, I want me a shot at that six-foot sub myself!...

I'm a moderate Bob Dylan fan at best (even though I have a lot of his CDs--the only two that could ever be considered to be in heavy rotation would be, not surprisingly, "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde On Blonde"), and though that includes his two most recent, highly lauded, studio discs, I never gave them more than a cursory listen, never really motivated to go back and examine them thoroughly. But this never one, "Modern Times", THIS one has somehow taken me under its spell! Maybe because half the time he sounds like the Bob of the aforementioned classic LPs, and the other half, like Bing Crosby--and sometimes like both at the very same time! Julie hasn't been overcome by Zimmermanania as yet, but she IS tres' excited at the prospect of a new Elton John CD coming out later this month! I'll admit some curiosity as well...

My favorite recent DVD purchase would have to be "The Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete First Season"! But this deserves a full blog entry all it's own! Besides, I've only had a chance to view one episode so far---I'll expound upon the glories of Mr. Fields, Mike the Cop, and Stinky later--and that's' both a promise AND a threat!

The Mets: 87 and 52, .626 winning percentage, the best in baseball currently, with a magic number of 7 to clinch the NL East division! In the near four years I've been doing this, I've never had the chance to blog about post season N.Y. Mets baseball, but folks, that all changes this year--and yes, that IS a threat!

I WAS going to end this by pointing out that I won't be watching ABC's "The Road To 9/11" this weekend because I never watch any "Road" pictures without Hope and Crosby in them, but then I realized that the ACTUAL name of the miniseries is "The Path To 9/11".

Well, I have no moderately amusing gag to go along with THAT, but, I STILL ain't gonna be watching!

(Or the FF cartoon either--which scuttlebutt has it blames the Galactus invasion on the Clinton administration! Maybe it's finally time to go out and rent "Jersey Girl"?...)
September 7th, 2006
The cover of STRANGE TALES #146--featuring the very last Dr. Strange episode illustrated by the legendary Steve Ditko--is the focal point of the 71st edition of The Fred Hembeck Show.

It's also the subject of my latest Classic Cover Redo.

Which is in turn my very latest piece of semi-original art now up for bid on eBay!

And for those of you who didn't see that LAST portion of this equation coming merrily down Bleecker Street, well, what can you posibly say to yourself but "Curse me for a novice!", eh?

(Though "D'oh" would do the trick as well...)
September 4th, 2006
I think my favorite part of the Jerry Lewis Telethon in recent years has been the annual appearance of son Gary, fronting a group of latter day Playboys. Back in 1964 and '65, Gary Lewis had a nice run of pop hits, several of which--"Count Me In" and "Everybody Loves A Clown"--he sang last night (he probably reprised his biggest hit, "This Diamond Ring", for a promised second spot later in the show, but I was sound asleep by then, and my days of video-taping the wee hours of this marathon for post-Labor Day viewing seems to have passed, so I missed the younger Lewis warbling out that Al Kooper penned number one tune.)

Unlike a lot of rock performers riding the oldies circuit these days (we learned that the reconstituted group spends about six months a year on the the Dick Clark Theater stage in Branson, Missouri), Gary's voice sounds noticeably deeper than it did on his sixties smashes. I suspect that Gary was never an overly accomplished vocalist, but was afforded the luxury of working with the cream of L.A.'s studio musicians and production people back in those halcyon days, with the pros using all the sonic tricks available to them to sweeten their charge's middling singing. No matter--every time I've seen him take center stage for his dad, he delivers an enthusiastic performance, hitting all the right notes, even if he doesn't croon them with the finesse of a Sinatra (Frank, not Nancy...).

At the end of his mini-set, dad Jerry--looking pretty darn good this year, after some health issues modified his appearance in a startling manner in recent years--walked over to his son and updated a little bit of schtick they've been doing for the last several telethons. Dad says something like , "How's it feel to be a sixty-one year old man?", to which his smiling offspring retorts, "I don't know--how's it feel to an eighty year old one?", after which Jerry offers both a trademark Jerry Lewis face AND sound. What makes this all so endearing is that there appears to be a genuine affection between these two men, not merely the quasi-phoney celebrity love the elder Lewis smothers his cronies with throughout the broadcast. He and Gary actually seem to like one another, seem to be proud of one another, and somehow, I find that sweetly refreshing...

About a half hour later, old style crooner Jack Jones takes the stage, and begins to sing a schmaltzy number, apparently directed to his young daughter, sitting in the front row of the audience--I'm not entirely sure, as I admit that I wasn't paying total attention at this point. After he finishes, Jerry gets up from behind his desk, cues the orchestra, approaches the audience, and begins to sing the very same tune--this time in a humorously exaggerated manner--directing it towards an even younger female sitting right next to the Jones girl.

Jerry's daughter!

I'm not sure of her age, but I'd guess early to mid-teens. So, just minutes after sharing a tender moment with his 61 year old first born, Jerry was on camera kibitzing with his 16-ish last born!

Quite a span, huh? But hey, I guess that's show biz!...

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