Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TerrifiCon 2017 ~~ Part ONE of a Very Lengthy "Comical Wednesday" Post!

This is the cover to TerrifiCon's guide and souvenir booklet. All of the
superheroes pictured are the property of DC Comics, except for the guy in the
red and yellow costume who's wearing shades and saluting. He's the official
mascot of TerrifiCon. Looking him up on the internet, I saw him referred to as
both Captain TerrifiCon and Colonel Terrific. Strange.

Friendly warning: Today's a long mofo.

Well, it had been approximately twenty years since I had attended a comic book convention, but on Saturday, August 19th, my friend John and I went to TerrifiCon 2017 in nearby (well, nearby to me, that is) Connecticut, where we spent a few hours making our way through huge crowds of people crammed into a set-off section of the Mohegan Sun complex in Uncasville, CT.

This year's TerrifiCon was planned to be an extravaganza celebrating the Batman television show of 1966-1968. As the following ad shows, TV's Batman and Robin, Adam West and Burt Ward, were scheduled to attend. Sadly, as you know, Mr. West died last June.

Instead, the con became a tribute to Adam West. Among dozens of celebrities from the entertainment field and various comic book creators, the convention was attended by Burt Ward and Lee Meriwether, the latter being an actress and former Miss America (1955).

By the way, this is totally off-topic, but I had to share this with you! The following is one page from a pictorial featuring a very Robinish-looking Burt Ward. It's from -- and you'd better sit down for this -- a 1984 issue of Hustler! This is one of the pages that I can show you!

Miss Meriwether is known for various acting roles, including her one-time appearance as Catwoman in the 1966 Batman film based on the TV series. Just for the record, she never played Catwoman on the TV show; that role was filled by Julie Newmar and later by Eartha Kitt.

 As Miss America 1955.

Personally, I'm a fan of Lee Meriwether's from her co-starring role on the 1966-1967 series, The Time Tunnel (a photo of which immediately follows).

You know, I always hate it when someone talks about an actress, singer, etc., who's in her sixties or seventies, and says "She still looks like she's twenty," or some similar remark. Come on, now. They never do. They may still be attractive, but people age, for cryin' out loud.

Having said that, take a look at the following photo, taken when Lee was eighty-one. I mean... Damn.

With Ben Mankiewicz and the late Adam West, in April of 2016.

Hm. After all those shots of Ms. Meriwether, you're probably wondering why I didn't meet her and get her autograph. So am I, now...

Moving right along...

In addition to those two, the convention also featured the original 1966 Batmobile (well, one of them), the Batcycle, the Batboat, and the Batcopter!

Among other guests, the convention also had Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick, both co-stars of Netflix' Iron Fist and The Defenders series, which both feature the Marvel Comics character who debuted in 1974.

There were a lot of movie and TV people, but contrary to what you'd expect of me since I'm such a celebrity nut, I didn't approach any of those celebs! No, we were only there for a few hours, so I planned to meet (and get autographs from) only three comic writers, and only one comic artist!

Of course, there were hundreds of costumed attendees (known as "cosplayers") all over the freakin' place. You know, the kind of people who get all the attention whenever a TV station does a short feature about the convention on the local news broadcast?

I must admit, some of those costumes are pretty impressive!

Anyway, I mentioned above that I had my sights set on meeting just a handful of comic pros. The first one I met (and the first one I'll tell you about, but I'm giving you a warning that this four-person list will not be in order) was writer Marv Wolfman. And to the non-comic-reading portion of my audience, I should point out that Wolfman is his real name.

Marv's been writing professionally since 1968. His multiple credits (in no order whatsoever) include the original Teen Titans, Spider-Woman, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, The New Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Batman, Omega Men, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the critically-acclaimed Tomb of Dracula (1972-1979). (And yes, there were a lot of contemporary jokes about a "Wolfman" writing about Dracula.)

Sorry about the photo which omits part of the text, but that's the way it appeared on the internet!

I had assumed that writers and artists would charge for their signatures, especially because so many fans get autographed copies of books and other materials just to resell them. Therefore, I decided to limit myself to one signed item per creator. I had Marv Wolfman sign Tomb of Dracula #69, perhaps my favorite issue of the seventy published. (Wolfman had authored the series since #7. During his run on the book, he co-created Blade with artist Gene Colan.)

As a brief explanation, here's why I think so highly of TOD #69. After a multi-part storyline where Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, had been turned into a mortal, Dracula has again become a vampire. However, he is not automatically returned to his position as the vampires' leader, so a large group of the undead creatures are chasing him, intending to destroy him. He seeks refuge in the home of a European family of children whose mother has had to leave them home alone in order to bring a severely ill child to a doctor in a nearby town. Dracula considers making a "meal" of the kids, you might say, but when the vampires pursuing him arrive and threaten both Dracula and the children...

I was quite impressed by this scene. Causing himself intense agony,
Dracula picks up a cross and uses it to chase the other vampires!

Anyway, that's the issue I handed to Marv Wolfman. And he signed it for free. I was hoping he'd make a comment about the issue in question, but he didn't. He just signed his hard-to-read name on it, and off I went.

The third person I got an autograph from -- and yes, of course I'll get back to the second -- was artist Jerry Ordway. 

Another unfortunately-cropped photo from the internet.
By the way, when I met Mr. Ordway, he did not have the beard.

I became a fan of Ordway's during the 1980s. He did extensive work on the Superman character, then recently revamped. During his involvement with Supes, Ordway took inspiration from this classic cover from 1942...

And gave us this!

He also did the pencils and inks for the adaptation of 1989's Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. His talent for drawing recognizable likenesses is uncanny.

One thing Ordway did in this adaptation which I absolutely love is the following sequence from the film, which shows the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. In the movie itself, they had actor Hugo Blick play Jack "the Joker" Napier as a young man, but instead of drawing Blick, Ordway simply drew a young Jack Nicholson.

Hugo Blick as the young "Jack Napier."

I decided to have Ordway sign All-Star Squadron #20. I've always been a big fan of the Golden Age (World War II era) DC characters, especially the original Green Lantern, as told here.

In this unforgettable issue, set in 1942 (as most All-Star Squadron issues were), Green Lantern has been placed in kind of a "dream state" and hallucinates that his friends and allies in the Justice Society and All-Star Squadron have all been killed.

The enraged "Emerald Gladiator" attacks the Japanese military...

He then follows by devastating the civilian population as well.

In short, his actions anticipate the destruction later caused by the atomic bombs the USA dropped on Japan in 1945. Pretty eerie. Luckily, before the remorseful superhero can harm himself, he is freed from his hallucination by several team members in the real world.

So, that's the reason I wanted Jerry to autograph this issue.

I couldn't help but smile when I saw the sign on his table which charged one dollar for each item signed. "That's, like, free," I told him, and he replied that famed comic artist Neal Adams (who was also at TerrifiCon) had advised him to do that years ago. Y'see, comic artists often agree to do sketches for fans, and drawing and selling these sketches can be quite lucrative. The artists often work on these commissioned items during down-time at the cons. However, if an artist has huge stacks of things to sign for convention-goers, it basically takes time away from a paying job.

Jerry Ordway turned out to be a very nice guy, very easy to talk to. He talked about getting over a recent cold, and things like that. Not a lot of "shop talk," but that was fine with me.

Coincidentally, one of the comics I had with me that day was the 93rd issue of The Avengers, drawn back in 1971 by none other than Neal Adams. I considered having him sign it, until I saw that he charged $50.00 for his signature.

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Let me interrupt myself here.

As I write this, the bottom of the "page" doesn't seem to be coming anytime soon. So I'm going to take pity on both you and myself and make my TerrifiCon post a two-parter. Part Two will appear next Wednesday, September 6th, and the "Superboy Meets Bonnie and Clyde" post I'd originally planned for that date will be shoved back by seven days!

Hope to see you then. Hell, you made it this far, didn't you?!?

Thanks for your time.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Whole Bunch of "Short Shorts"

1. Jay Thomas, 1948-2017, R.I.P.

Jay Thomas, Emmy-winning actor and radio personality, has died at the age of sixty-nine from cancer. I wasn't familiar with much of Jay Thomas' work. I'd seen him play Eddie LeBec on Cheers, but that was about it. Oh, and one other thing. I was on YouTube a long time ago and came across Jay telling a wonderful anecdote to David Letterman about the time Jay met Clayton Moore, better known to the world at large as The Lone Ranger. What I did not know, having not watched Letterman regularly since his NBC days, was that Dave had Jay on his show every year at Christmastime to tell that same story. Being a big fan of TLR and Mr. Moore in particular, I absolutely love it... so here it is! This is the 2009 retelling.

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At least, as of today. Probably best-known as Corporal Randolph Agarn in the 1965-1967 TV show F Troop, he's ninety-four and by all reports, is going strong. Just sayin'. I was watching him the other night, guest-starring on one of the late 1970s C.P.O. Sharkey episodes -- that's Don Rickles' most successful TV show -- that I have on DVD.

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3. Is My Star Rising? No?

Hey, guess what! I was recently the subject of a post on someone else's blog, and I'm not even dead yet! The blog in question is none other than Pat Hatt's It's Rhyme Time, where Pat (pictured above, that handsome devil) rhymes, and rhymes, and rhymes... all the time! Here is the link to the article itself. Thanks for the recognition, Pat!

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4. More Frequent Grammar Goofs!

Three errors I've been seeing a lot of lately are people writing "and" when they mean "an," "you" when they mean "your," and "the" when they mean "they." These aren't really grammatical errors, they're typos, I guess... but why on earth are they so damned common lately?

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5. As Long As We're Showcasing YouTube Videos Related to Dead People...

Here's a video related to the late Jerry Lewis. Not of or by Jerry Lewis, but inspired by Jerry Lewis.

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6. Doobie, Doobie, Doo...

The other day I overheard two guys talking about smoking a "doob. In case you are one of the remaining dozen people on the planet who doesn't know what that means, a "doob" (or "doobie") is a marijuana cigarette, or "joint." (The term is where the name for the Doobie Brothers originated, of course.). I really hate those terms! For that matter, I also hate it when people call their loved ones "boo" or "boo boo," and when people refer to someone's derrière as a "booty." Why? Well, not because any of them are improper grammar. Nope, I hate those terms just because they sound stupid and as you all know, I like to kvetch anyway.

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7. Just Curious

Whenever I read an article talking about someone's tweet (or tweets) on Twitter, the article relates the entire text of the tweet, and then reprints the tweet as well. Why? Isn't that rather redundant? Maybe it's to "prove" that the "tweeter" actually "said" that? If so, why tell us about it in the text of the flamin' article, too?

What would this world do without me to point out this shit?

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8. Another Reason I Didn't Marry My Second Fiancée (Number Two in What Will Probably Be a Long, Ongoing Series...)

(For the first reason, click here.)

Ever get a Christmas card or birthday card from someone who has all the different family members sign the card, and then adds the "signature" of their pets as well? Or maybe you do that when you send cards? Well, I myself don't do it, when I send cards at all, but I think it's a cute and harmless practice.

But... Would you do that when sending a sympathy card?!? That's a rather insensitive way of trivializing someone's deep loss, don'tcha think?

Well. Guess why that's discussed in a Short Short entitled "Another Reason I Didn't Marry My Second Fiancée!"

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Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post, Edited and Reprinted from 8/28/2013

Jack Kirby, one of comic books' true gods, would turn one hundred years old next Monday, August 28th, if he hadn't left us back in 1994. But the amazing artwork the man gave us will be ours forever.

I'm going to shut up in a minute and just throw a random sampling of stuff at you, fellow babies... "Stuff" from the King. "Stuff" that shows the power in the man's work. And forgive me if I've left out some -- or all -- of your favorite characters! The man created or co-created hundreds, and if you count those that he also illustrated, one would have to say thousands! A list of most of the characters he had a hand in creating can be found here.

And if you'd like a more in-depth description of how I "discovered" Marvel Comics (and Jack Kirby), and Kirby's effect on the young Silver Fox, click here for "My Keys to the Kingdom, Part One," and here for  "My Keys to the Kingdom, Part Two!"

Thanks for your time!
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