Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Terrificon 2018, BONUS ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

I've done several long "Comical Wednesday" entries lately, in spite of the fact that most of my readers aren't comic book fans (unlike myself). So instead of long-winded multi-part CW posts on various subjects, I'm going to trytrytry to keep the posts fairly short. Well, for a while, anyway.

Let's see how I do.

Back in Part Three of my series about Terrificon 2018, I showed two photos (courtesy of my friend John) of the line for writer/artist Jim Starlin. I'm going to show those photos again, and follow each with some close-ups, and my own smart-ass comments. Here goes.

First is one part of the line to see Jim Starlin.

There are many convention attendees who are what are called "cosplayers" (costume players). If you've ever seen any local TV news coverage about a nearby convention, you've seen cosplayers. That's pretty much the only type of person they interview, so we all look a big loony!

Cosplayers dress up as anyone they want to, whether it's a comic character, a movie character, a science fiction character, a character from Japanese anime... the list is endless. Some cosplayers are featured guests with their own tables at conventions! Cosplayers often cross-dress, meaning you may very well see some guy dressed as, say, Harley Quinn!

Harley Quinn

Two Male Harley Quinn cosplayers! (Photo NOT taken at Terrificon!)

Anyway, the following close-up focuses on two cosplayers waiting in Jim Starlin's line. I must admit I have no idea who the young lady in purple or the person in the ringmasterish costume are supposed to be.

And I must also admit, I don't know if this convention-goer in the background of the previous shot is wearing a costume or not!

In a previous chapter, I mentioned that some folks (like myself) bring small stacks of comics or magazines, to have them autographed by one or more convention guests. The next two photos show people carrying what I would call "normal" stacks.

Even this next guy, who seems to be carting around more, evidently has an item or two other than a comic book that he wants signed, or maybe he's got something or some things he purchased at the convention.

Now let's move to another section of the line!

Hm. Looks like this person has a lot of stuff to be signed! Damn!

This trio really caught my eye. I'm not 100% sure if the young lady on your left is wearing an actual costume, but regardless, I really like her look! The orange cat lady outfit is nice, and I thought the Boy Scout uniform was an inspired touch.

Oh, wait. Maybe that kid was a real Boy Scout, one of several? Ya think?

Interesting how many of us comic book geeks wear glasses (as shown in the next photo), innit? Anyway, the short-haired, bespectacled dude on your far right seems to be noticing what I did: The big guy in the middle has a stroller which has probably never seen a child! Instead, it carries items which are much more important to their owner.

Oops. Spoke to soon. There is a child there, but she -- I'm assuming it's a "she," but it could be a boy cosplayer -- has obviously been supplanted in her stroller by what I just described as "items which are much more important to their owner."

And with that, I bid you farewell (well, for today)! Thanks for your time!

P.S. ~~ COMING SOON! (Watch for it!) A Re-Posting of One of the Best (and Longest) Stories I Ever Posted on This Blog!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

So, How Did I Do?

On this blog (and elsewhere, too, when I get the chance), I'm constantly bragging about showcasing my knowledge about comic books and their history, knowledge which I've amassed over the last fifty-plus years of reading, collecting, writing, and selling the blasted things. But comics are not my only interest, y'know. No, really, they're not! I like to think I know more than a little about pop culture in general, too, mainly that of the 20th century, as well as a good chunk of the 19th. (Just don't ask me too much about modern stuff. In a strange combination of aging and apathy, I started losing touch somewhat with music, celebrities, and various related aspects of what we used to call “show business” back in the good old days – and please notice I did not say “back in the day.” – somewhere around the time Kurt Cobain committed suicide. However, I hasten to add that my “losing touch somewhat” was certainly not because he did so. Just a touchstone, as it were.

Okay, okay, okay, end of digression, I promise!

I gave myself a little challenge on the afternoon of Friday, December 28th. As I perused an old (1953) TV magazine (shown above), which featured Arthur Godfrey – Remember him? – on its cover, I found the following quiz:

To make a long story short, being the arrogant li'l bastard that I am, I decided to take the test, published three years before I was even born, just to see how well I'd do!

I should take this opportunity to point out that I took the quiz without accessing the internet or any of my other magazines or books. That would have been cheating. I was testing my own knowledge. In fact, this entire post is comprised of information from what I already know... or think I do... so if you spot any goofs, please tell me. Contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, I'm not perfect. Ha.

Question #1 was absurdly easy. Ozzie Nelson had been a band leader and singer in the 1930s and Harriet Hilliard, whom he eventually married, was a featured singer in his orchestra. Their television program, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, also co-starred their sons David and Ricky. Ricky Nelson went on to be a teenage singing idol!

#2. Another easy one. Televised episodes depicting scenes from history were broadcast by CBS-TV under the title You Are There.

#3? The Philip Morris tobacco company sponsored I Love Lucy for most, if not all, of its 1950s run. I've seen plenty of vintage commercials where Lucy and/or her husband, Desi Arnaz, touted the great taste of their product. Of course this was long before the government outlawed televised advertising of cigarettes and cigars in the early 1970s.

#4 was the first question to give me trouble. The wording of the question told me that the show wasn't one that starred a famous singer, like Frank Sinatra or Dinah Shore. I took a guess and answered Your Hit Parade, although I was 99% sure I was wrong. I was certain that the stars of Your Hit Parade actually did sing. In fact, IIRC, the format of that show was that each week, they'd act out the nation's Top Ten pop tunes, and sing the songs themselves. Oh, well.

I'm not familiar with The Big Payoff, admittedly. For #5 I almost guessed Lee Meriwether, a former Miss America who went on to fame as an actress. But then I realized that Lee Meriwether was Miss America 1955, and the quiz was dated 1953! I thought a bit and decided on Bess Myerson... although I honestly can't tell you what year she wore the crown, and I won't cheat and look it up.

#6 was another easy one. I knew Ray Bloch was an orchestra leader, best known for working on Ed Sullivan's and Jackie Gleason's shows for decades. Goodson-Todman was the team of producers responsible for game shows such as Match Game and over fifty others. The name Sidney Lumet threw me for a brief moment. I know him as a film director – 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Verdict, and others – but I don't really know anything about his television background. So I just assumed he was a director for TV shows as well before he went into motion pictures, and went with “director.”

My brow furrowed when I got to #7. (Okay, not really, but I've always wanted to use the word “furrowed” in a sentence, haven't you?) B was simple; Joe Friday was the main character of the long-running cop show Dragnet. But A, Mike Barnett? Never heard of him. And for C, I guessed Lloyd Nolan, but I was almost certain I was wrong.

And #8? Ha. Another cinch. I have never seen an episode of I Married Joan, but nevertheless, I knew that the husband was played by none other than Jim Backus, probably best known as Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island. But if I hadn't known the answer, the “Mr. Magoo” clue would have tipped it off.

And now, the answers:

As I said above, not one of the first three was a problem for me.

The Paul Dixon Show, #4, was one I'd never heard of.

#5 was Bess Myerson. Yeah!

As for #6, the three-parter? I got 'em all. So glad I went with my gut and assumed Sidney Lumet was a TV director as well as a movie director later on.

I only expected to get one of the three questions contained in #7. I'm pretty familiar with actor Ralph Bellamy, but I still never heard of Mike Barnett. I was wrong about Lloyd Nolan, but I kinda expected to be. But like I said, Dragnet's Joe Friday was a sure bet.

The Jim Backus question was probably the simplest one in the bunch. And by the way, if you ever meet me in person (and get me really drunk), I'll gladly sing the entire theme song from I Married Joan... although, as stated above, I've never seen the program!

Unfortunately, the magazine didn't give you any way to score yourself, especially since #6 and #7 were three-parters. But how do you think I did?

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ COMING SOON! (Watch for it!) A Re-Posting of One of the Best (and Longest) Stories I Ever Posted on This Blog!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Terrificon 2018, Part Four ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

In my previous Comical Wednesday post about last summer's Terrificon 2018, I said "So, there you have it, fellow babies! Three chapters talking about every comic pro I got to talk with at Terrificon 2018. Everybody! Evvvvvvvv'rybody! Ummm... except one..."

Today we... okay, I... talk about that “one,” Roy Thomas.

I've probably read more comic books written by Roy Thomas than any other writer, except maybe Stan Lee.

Maybe you recall my earlier account of meeting Roy at Terrificon 2017? Well, just to refresh your memory if you did, in that post, I told how I met artist Jerry Ordway, who drew All-Star Squadron #20, and had him sign it.

However, although I met the comic's writer, Roy Thomas, later in the day, I didn't even think to have him sign it, even though there was an absolutely perfect spot for him to do so!

For those of you who don't know the name Roy Thomas, here's a relatively brief quote from my earlier post:

Roy was a BNF (Big Name Fan) in the early 1960s, eventually taking over the editorship of the fanzine Alter Ego from another BNF, Jerry Bails. In 1965, he was a school teacher who became a comic book pro and worked for DC Comics for about an hour... Okay, okay, it was really eight days, which isn't much longer. He then went to work at Marvel. His first extended writing job for Marvel was on Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, a title which I read, but admittedly, I didn't immediately notice that the book was being written by someone other than Stan Lee. From there he progressed to another of my favorites, the original X-Men title. He also wrote The Avengers for quite a while. He was the second person to write The Amazing Spider-Man, and the third to write Fantastic Four. He was responsible for Marvel's acquiring the rights to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian in 1970, which began the "sword and sorcery" trend in comics. Thomas had (and has) a real love for the Golden Age comics he read as a boy -- he often revived or re-imagined Golden Age characters in the titles he wrote -- and he put that love to use in a series called The Invaders, which was set during World War II and featured 1940s Marvel characters such as Captain America (and Bucky), the original Human Torch (and his kid sidekick, named Toro for some unknown reason), and Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner. In the mid-1970s, Thomas was instrumental in arranging Marvel's comic book adaptation of a new science fiction film... a little something called Star Wars. Roy wrote and Howard Chaykin drew the first six issues, which followed the plot of the movie. And I've left out a lot.

Probably due more to good timing than anything else, the line at Roy's table at Terrificon 2018 was much shorter than the one at Terrificon 2017. The very first book I had him sign of the three I'd brought was – you guessed it – All-Star Squadron #20. And needless to say, he automatically signed it right where I hoped and expected he would!

Much better, eh?

A few paragraphs back, I mentioned that Roy edited the comic fanzine Alter Ego in the 1960s. Well, in the 1970s, two additional, “professional” issues of Alter Ego appeared, and I'd brought both for Roy to sign.

Roy and I briefly discussed the caricature of artist Gil Kane (no relation to Batman co-creator Bob Kane) on the cover of Alter Ego #10. Roy remarked that even though Kane's face in real life was nowhere near that thin, the drawing by the late Marie Severin (1929-2018) was unmistakably that of him.

It was when I handed Roy my copy of Alter Ego #11 that things got... interesting.

The cover of that issue featured yet another Marie Severin caricature, a spot-on sketch of legendary artist Bill Everett, creator of (among many other characters) Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner.

Severin's original sketch (which follows) was redrawn slightly and “framed” by several examples of Everett's own characters, as were drawn by Bill for Alter Ego's long-awaited issue #11.

Roy took the book from me, but before he even signed it, he turned to the young guy seated on his right (Roy's friend and manager/agent John Cimino), and said, “This is the one I don't have.”

I immediately – immediately – said, “You can have that one.”

At first, Roy's attitude was something along the lines of how he didn't want to take my book away from me... but I wasn't having any of that.

Then he offered to buy it from me, and asked how much I wanted for it. I thought Okay, wiseguy, and calmly said “Three thousand dollars.” He knew I was joking, of course, but his eyes grew wide and he rapidly thrust the book back toward me like it was a poisonous snake.

Please keep in mind that this was/is not a rare and/or pricey collectible. A search on eBay will produce up to a dozen copies for auction at prices varying between five and twenty dollars. So it's not like Roy couldn't have found one if he'd made the effort himself. But he hadn't, for whatever reason.

And that was the point.

I told him I didn't want any money from him, and I tried to think of a way to tell him that after having enjoyed his writing for fifty-three years, it would thrill me no end to be able to repay him in even the tiniest of ways. I didn't actually say that, because I realized how corny it would sound even before I'd assembled all the words in my mind.

Finally, Roy told me about a two-volume set of trade paperbacks collecting the “best of” Alter Ego #1-11. These volumes went for about twenty bucks apiece. Roy offered to trade both of those books for my Alter Ego #11. That, I agreed to!

Roy asked for my mailing address, so I wrote it on the front cover of Alter Ego #11, and...

No. Come on now. You know I didn't do that.

I wrote it on a piece of cardboard handed to me by John Cimino. (John, by the way, writes a blog entitled Hero Envy -- The Blog Adventures. And that's far from all he does!)

John Cimino and Roy Thomas. (Photo NOT taken at Terrificon.)

But just to be safe, since he was afraid he might lose my address, Roy handed me his personal business card. I'd have scanned that for this post, but I would have had to redact almost all of it. His home address. His email address. His phone number.

Looking at that card in my hand, the eight-year-old comic fan deep inside of me felt like I felt the day I spoke with Jack Kirby on the telephone.

Or the day I visited Dick Ayers at his home. (I'll tell you about that someday soon.)

I received the two books in less than a week.

Both were signed "Thanks + Best Wishes -- Roy Thomas 2018."

In spite of suddenly having all of this contact info for Roy, I resolved not to make a pest of myself, and, seeing that I'm not eight years old... I haven't. Roy and I have exchanged a handful of emails on several subjects since then, and there is one bit of cool news which I'd dearly love to share with all of you, but I can't... yet.

Anyway, it wasn't until after I left Roy's waiting line that it even occurred to me that while I was doing all this chatting, negotiating, and all-around schmoozing there were probably a slew of people behind me wondering why the hell this white-haired bearded dude dressed in black was spending so much time talking to Roy Thomas. And usually, I sympathize with such people and try to make my own "business" brief.

But this time?

F*** 'em.

Thanks for your time, fellow babies.

P.S. ~~ COMING SOON! (Watch for it!) A Re-Posting of One of the Best (and Longest) Stories I Ever Posted on This Blog!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Ohhh, NOW I Get It! (A "Short Shorts"/"Grammar Nazi" Post)

1. A couple of weeks or so ago, the USA's President Trump came in for some teasing on Twitter after posting a Tweet using the term “Boarder Wall” to refer to his proposed border wall on the US/Mexican... uhhh... border. You know, the one that he says will stop illegal immigration... because everybody knows that almost all illegal immigrants in the USA are Mexicans, right? And this wall will completely secure our boarder... errr, border.

He made this mistake twice.

Or was it a mistake? Y'see, despite all the Tweets ridiculing his alleged misspelling, and despite this very entertaining article, I'm going to give the prez the benefit of the doubt and say he meant just that. Boarder.

Here's my theory. Perhaps the biggest (loudest?) of Trump's promises during his campaign for president was that he was going to have a wall built and that Mexico would pay for it.

So here's what I think he's going to do. ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), or the INS (United States Immigration and Naturalization Service), or... whoever... is going to round up all of the illegal immigrants (and as stated above, almost every damned one of 'em is a Mexican) and force them all to work (for free) on constructing his wall. So, in effect, Mexico will be paying for it.

Those illegal Mexican immigrants will be allowed to stay in the United States only as long as it takes them to build Trump's wall, after which they'll be deported to Mexico. (And since the wall will indeed be completed by then, we know they'll never be able to come back.) While they're living here, we'll house them for free, but we'll still consider them "boarders."

Therefore, the wall will be – say it with me – a “boarder wall.”

(And by the way, when I say “all of the illegal immigrants” I mean every able-bodied adult among them, male and female. Not their children, of course.

Which is a good thing, cuz they probably can't even find those poor kids at this point.)

1a. By the way, the second article I linked to above – "Your President Is a Dullard Who Confuses Homophones" – contains this great quote that I wish I had written myself: There’s nothing like seeing a great meme on Facebook or Twitter and being unwilling to share it because the person put “there” when they meant “their” or “your” when they meant “you’re” or “hear” when they meant “here” or some such nonsense. It is a frustrating daily occurrence on the internet, and even the “president” of the United States is not immune from it.

Oh, and I didn't call the article “great” just because it included a sentence I might have said.

1b. When I tried, once again, to find the article I just quoted from, I threw the terms "Donald Trump," "Boarder Wall," and "confused homophones" into the search box... and I learned that a disturbingly large amount of articles online use the word "homophone" to talk about people who don't like gays. Really? Seriously? I would have thought that anyone even familiar with the word "homophone" would be above making that sort of mistake. I guess not.

2. So, President Trump is talking about bringing the troops back from Syria, and maybe Afghanistan, and Lord knows where else by the time this article posts. And I know the real reason why. He's going to station every damned one of 'em in a huge circle around the White House, so when the FBI or whoever finally come to "get him," he'll be protected.

3. Tens of thousands of federal inmates will be released, according to this source and many others. And President Trump is evidently all for it.

Isn't this the guy who was so worried about all those Mexican criminals? Oh, wait. These are going to be "low-level" inmates, the type of criminal in minimum security prisons, or so-called "country club" prisons.

You know... the kinds of prisons guys like Donald Trump end up in.

4. Recently, NBC was accused of dispensing "Fake News" because they printed an article about the president which evidently was true when they printed it, but was rendered untrue by President Trump's actions only a few hours later. The situation is analyzed here.

I'm so sick of people -- especially DJT -- talking about "Fake News." The Prez seems to throw that term at anyone who doesn't think he's as wonderful as... well.. as he thinks he is.

To me, there's a big difference between lying and making a mistake. Even the news media shouldn't always be expected to get their stories straight. People make mistakes, even when they have the best of intentions.

And intent is what's at the heart of situations like these. If you ask a three-year-old "What's two and two?" and he says "Nine," is he lying? No. And if you ask him "What's six divided by three?" and he replies "Thursday?", again, is he lying?

I never received a test after it had been graded by a teacher where the teacher had written. "Three wrong, David. You LIED THREE TIMES!"

That's not how it works.

The President, on the other hand? Lies constantly. Several times every day. Several times every day. There are websites devoted to counting all of his deliberate falsehoods. Their lists are staggering. And they only list the ones they know about.

It's like the old joke, "How do you know when a lawyer is lying?" "His lips are moving." The same could be said about Donald Trump.

5. I'm far from the only person to see a resemblance between Stephen Miller and Josef Goebbels. (Do a Google search, and you'll see.)

But they don't really resemble each other all that much.

It's not their looks I'm comparing, though. It's their general attitude, especially where immigrants are concerned, and where the power of the president is concerned as well. You'd never guess that Miller is descended from Jewish immigrants, would you? Well, read this article... written by his own uncle.

6. Okay, now you know why I so rarely do political posts.

7. And I promise I'll try to get better about following your posts, and soon!

8. And... Happy New Year!

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ COMING SOON! (Watch for it!) A Re-Posting of One of the Best (and Longest) Stories I Ever Posted on This Blog!


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