Saturday, October 13, 2018

Breakfast in Other Countries (Slightly Edited and Reprinted from 6/12/2013)

An oyster omelet, known as a Hangtown Fry!

You know what I've always wondered? (Gonna tell you whether you do or not!)

Why don't so-called "ethnic" restaurants in the USA -- Chinese, Italian, Mexican, etc. -- open earlier and feature breakfast menus? Is their idea of breakfast so close to ours in the USA that it's simply a case of "Why bother?"

I have several readers outside of the USA. Maybe they can answer that question for me if my "home-grown" readers can't.

I'd look it up myself, if I wasn't feeling so damned lazy today... hence the uncharacteristically short post.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

One of My Shortest "Comical Wednesday" Posts EVER!*

In 1973, I eagerly bought the second issue of Shazam! (shown above), featuring "the original Captain Marvel".

It wasn't until a few months ago that I saw the following cover, from 1949!

The Captain Marvel figures on both covers were drawn by C.C. Beck, by the way.

So, would this be a "tribute" cover, a "swipe" cover, or what?!?

Thanks for your time.

*You're welcome! I figured that, after putting you through fifteen lengthy posts about Insect Man, you deserved a breather!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Camera Shy

I haven't had internet at home for about five or six years now. Usually, I go to my local town library to use their computers. Above is the old Webster Public Library in Massachusetts, officially named the Chester C. Corbin Public Library. The building was in use just a bit less than one hundred years.

A little over a month ago, however, work was completed on a new library which miraculously fit on the same lot as the previous building, although it's roughly three times the size of the old one. The new library is the Gladys E. Kelly Public Library. (I have no idea why Mr. Corbin got the shaft, as it were.)

I was, not surprisingly, one of the first patrons to enter the new structure on September 4th. A reporter/photographer named Gus Steeves snapped a photo of me without my knowledge as I entered the building. Gus knows my name because, as it happens, he dated a close friend of mine several years ago!

I saw Gus on the inside of the library that day, but didn't know he'd taken my picture a few minutes earlier. Without my knowledge (or permission!), said picture of camera-shy me wound up on the front page of the Webster Times!

What's that you say? Oh, you can't see me? Well, let me give you a close-up!

There! Now, who says I never show photos of myself on my blog?

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Insect Asides, Part Fifteen-and-Final! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Paul  Howley, owner of That's Entertainment!

I've devoted this overlong "Insect Asides" series to reminiscing about my contributions to Insect Man and Insect Man's Weird Tales, amateur comic books I wrote during the 1980s. Today's post, while dealing with the Insect Man character, talks about the two "real" Insect Man anniversary comic books published since my stint on the book! In other words, I didn't write 'em!

Even as Ken Carson and I finished plotting the "Funnel Effect" storyline in 1988, I planned yet another never-finished Insect Man project. This was "A Last Insect Man Story", a proposed two-issue tale that would take place fifteen years in the future, in the year 2003. The concept of the end of a superhero's career was inspired by two 1986 comic stories. One was Alan Moore's two-part Superman story, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" which was published in Superman #423 and Action Comics #583. The other was Frank Miller's four-part limited series, Batman: The Dark Knight, which has been reprinted a zillion times since as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

I plotted and partially wrote "A Last Insect Man Story" from an odd angle, namely "What would the last Insect Man story become if I had continually written Insect Man for fifteen more years?" In other words, the story contained all sorts of little references to things that had never actually happened in the stories anyone had ever actually read! Confusing, huh? Oh, well.

"A Last Insect Man Story" is still taking up space inside my twisted mind, although I did actually go so far as to script the nineteen pages comprising part one, which I still have lying around in my files somewhere. No one has ever seen it! Not Ken Carson, not Paul Howley... nobody!

Anyway, once "The Funnel Effect" concluded in Insect Man #108, there wasn't an IM issue published until 1991. Insect Man's 25th Anniversary Special was a "pro" comic book, and featured a cool cover by well-known comic artist Rick Veitch, known for drawing and/or writing such titles as Swamp Thing, The One, and Brat Pack.

The anniversary special also contained pin-ups by Ken Carson, Chris Coleman, Dan Courtney, and Larry Young.

That's the Worcester, Massachusetts, City Hall in the foreground of this first illustration by Ken Carson!

The second pin-up page by Ken, containing the initials of almost every Insect Man artist and writer since IMWT #88!

Not only that, but the back cover of was drawn by none other than Kevin Eastman. And in case you don't recognize the name, Kevin is best known as the co-creator (along with Peter Laird) of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Now, as for the story itself... I've read many interviews with comic writers and/or artists in which the interviewee has said that once he or she stops working with a certain character (or team), he or she doesn't look at the book again. I can sympathize with that. Before opening Insect Man's 25th Anniversary Special, I knew that whether the story was better or worse than whatever I would have written, it wouldn't be the same as whatever I would have written because -- duh -- I didn't write it.

Therefore, I will neither describe nor review the story and art. I will, however, mention the two things that bothered me about the issue.

Firstly, in the author's introduction, he said that he'd first encountered Insect Man's Weird Tales on the rack in a comic shop, and considered it a piece of trash. This prompted him to say "I can do that." He then launched into an overview of Insect Man's 25-year history. I should mention that, although he spoke disparagingly of some of the earlier Insect Man material, he did speak somewhat favorably about the issues which I wrote. He ended by challenging the reader -- and again, I'm paraphrasing to reflect my own interpretation of what he wrote -- by saying "I did it, and so can you," and suggesting that the reader do just that.

The other thing was that he decided to include Rex Mason's son Alex (whom I had created and introduced), but he made him a teenage boy. And he also established that Rex Mason was pining for his ex-wife Angela, Alex's mother. This bothered me only because the writer was ignoring the fact that the Insect Man stories were supposed to be taking place in "real time." Rex "Insect Man" Mason, as mentioned way back in IMWT #97, had been very briefly married in 1963 until the marriage had been annulled, and Alex was born as a result of said marriage. (And he was not "illegitimate" as the anniversary special's author claimed in his intro.) Therefore, IF the "real time" element of the Insect Man stories still held true, in 1990 Alex would have been a young adult in his mid-twenties. Also, Rex presumably hadn't seen his ex-wife for over twenty-five years (in my stories anyway), yet he was still carrying a torch for her?

"My" version:

So. Rex was married briefly when he'd just gotten out of high school, and he hadn't seen Angela since.

Rex, speaking with an off-panel Scythe. Okay, so let's assume from now on
that Rex's son was born circa 1964, one year before Rex became Insect Man.

Here's Alex (Alexander) Mason in 1985, already in his early twenties.

Now contrast that with the Insect Man's 25th Anniversary Special version:

Five years after his introduction, Alex had de-aged and become an adolescent!

Well... no. Rex hadn't even begun his Insect Man career when he and Angela last saw each other.

The changes just seemed wrong somehow. At least, they're wrong if the anniversary special was a continuation of the earlier stories. Of course, I'll readily admit that if it was merely supposed to have been "based on" the amateur editions, my petty complaints would be unjustified.

Or... Maybe the "real time" thing was no longer in effect? I suppose only Paul Howley would know the answer to that... and I've never asked him.

(For that matter, in all these years, I've never asked Paul how he felt about the way that I -- and all the other Insect Man writers -- controlled the lives and deaths of what were essentially his characters!)

In 2015, Insect Man's fiftieth anniversary issue hit the shelves. And this time around, Rex definitely had not aged fifty years since becoming Insect Man in 1965.

The second professional Insect Man comic book sported a terrific cover penciled by legendary comic artist Gene Colan and inked by another well-known comic personality, Tom Palmer!


The copy I purchased at That's Entertainment just a few months ago had been signed by Paul Howley as part of the "push" for the issue in 2015. 

Looking at the signature, I have to laugh. When I worked for That's Entertainment back in 1985-1988, I was often required (and permitted!) to sign Paul's name to various informal documents. And if you ask me, my "Paul Howley" signature was even better than his! Heh.

(Too bad I never got hold of Paul's checkbook, innit?)

And how did I feel about the fiftieth anniversary Insect Man issue? Well, quite frankly, I was a lot more pleased with what writer Chris Coleman -- who had written and/or drawn Insect Man several times during the 1980s -- had done with the character. It was obvious that Chris had read everyone's '80s stuff and the 25th anniversary issue, and his story incorporated Insect Man's history as related up until then. (I've recently attempted to contact Chris Coleman, by the way, but have not yet succeeded. So, if you someday get a chance to read this, Chris... Great job!)

When I worked at That's Entertainment in the 1980s, they were located here, on Chandler Street in Worcester, Massachusetts:

The store moved to a new, much larger building in the early 1990s.

The current home of That's Entertainment is on the corner of Park Avenue and -- I swear -- Lois Lane!

Y'see, back in 2011, T.E. "petitioned the Worcester City Council to change the name of the private street running alongside the store from Marmon Place to Lois Lane." (From the Wikipedia entry for That's Entertainment.)

And Paul Howley? Paul currently writes a blog called My Life With Comic Books: A History of a Comic Store. But it's not just a blog about comics, despite the title. Paul's had a very interesting life, and he's putting it out there for us to read, delivering "the truth as I remember it".

Paul retired at -- IIRC -- age forty, but he still owns That's Entertainment. And although he hasn't been my employer for thirty years, I'm proud to say that we're still friends.

Paul as he is today...

And Paul as I like to think of him!

And Insect Man? Well, in another twenty-two years, he'll be celebrating his seventy-fifth anniversary! And who knows, if I'm still around, maybe I'll get to write about it!

Thanks for your time.

Insect Man, Insect Man's Weird Tales, and all related characters and titles are copyright © Paul B. Howley. Scythe is copyright © Holly Basiner and Frank Hunt.


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