Monday, December 30, 2013

Reading Room SPACE ADVENTURES "Mummers from Mercury"

60 years ago, on New Years Day, the world almost ended...
...but it was saved by the participants of the annual Mummers Parade!
This never-reprinted story from Charlton's Space Adventures #1 (1953) was illustrated by Albert Tyler and Dick Giordano.
The writer (who was probably from Philadelphia) is unknown.

The Mummers Parade is held every New Years Day in Philadelphia.
Mummers tradition dates back to 400 BC and the Roman Festival of Saturnalias where Latin laborers marched in masks throughout the day of satire and gift exchange.
This included Celtic variations of “trick-or-treat” and Druidic noise-making to drive away demons for the new year.

Reports of rowdy groups “parading” on New Years day in Philadelphia date back before the revolution.
Prizes were offered by merchants in the late 1800s.
January 1, 1901 was the first “official” parade offered about $1,725 in prize money from the city.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reading Room JETTA OF THE 21st CENTURY "My Cosmic Hero"

With 2013 about to end...
...let's look at a typical evening at the drive-in, supposedly set in the early 21st Century (aka NOW)...as presented in 1952!
(I'm still waiting for my flying car!)
If the art style looks familiar, it's the work of Dan DeCarlo, who helped establish the iconic "look" of Archie Comics!
Dan actually started at Atlas Comics (the 1940s-50s predecessor to Marvel Comics) doing a variety of humor strips before beginning a long-term run on various Archie titles in 1951.
Even then, he continued to work for a number of other publishers, including Standard Comics, who asked him to create, write, and illustrate a teen-humor series.
(Every publisher had at least one of them!)
Exactly whose idea it was to set it in the "far future" of the early 21st Century is unknown, but the resultant strip, though extremely derivative of Archie, was unique in the teen-humor genre for it's Jetsons-style setting and "futuristic" slang.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Excelsior! Happy 91st Birthday to Stan Lee!

Co-Creator of the Marvel Comics universe...although "Catalyst" might be a better term to describe him.

Together with an astounding group of artists (some, like Jack Kirby, already legends in the field), he produced a memorable lineup of characters and stories which, to this day, form the backbone both of the comics line and various film and tv spinoffs.
Even the characters Lee didn't co-create (like Captain America and the Silver Surfer) were guided and shaped by Lee in his role as Editor into the versions we know and love today.

And credit where credit is due...Lee couldn't have done it without Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Gene Colan, and the rest; while they, who had all done superb work without him, did their best work with him!
(C'mon, what post-Stan Lee Marvel characters have had any real success, outside of the 1975 revival of the X-Men, itself based on core characters created by Lee and Kirby?)

So, EXCELSIOR! to you, Stan the Man!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reading Room UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION "Behold the Man" Conclusion

Art by Frank Brunner
Time traveler Karl Glogauer journeys to Palestine almost 2,000 years in the past to confirm the existence of Jesus Christ.
With his time machine damaged beyond repair and discovering he's gone a decade too far back, the now-stranded Glogauer encounters John the Baptist...
Published in the magazine New Worlds (which Moorcock himself edited) in 1966, the non-linear story running two parallel plot/timelines won the Nebula Award for "best novella".
Moorcock expanded it to novel length...
Art by Robert Foster
...and it is that version which is best-known to American audiences and served as the basis of this never-reprinted adaptation in Marvel's Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #6 (1975) by writer Doug Moench and artist Alex Nino.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reading Room UNKNOWN WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION "Behold the Man" Part 1

With Christmas behind us, we're going to present a controversial (albeit award-winning) tale...
...about the guy whose birthday we just celebrated!
To Be Concluded...
In the 1960s, science fiction experienced an influx of a "New Wave" of writers who wanted to go beyond "hard" sf and experiment, both in form and in content, with a more literary/artistic sensibility.
New Wave writers often saw themselves as part of the modernist tradition, writing "soft" or metaphysical stories instead of the technology-oriented or "hard" sf of Asimov, Heinlein, et al.
The leading proponent of the movement was Michael Moorcock, editor of the British magazine New Worlds as well as an established and successful "hard" sf writer.
...to be continued

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus' first attempt at updating his transportation...
...doesn't quite go as planned in this wraparound cover from Dell's Santa Claus Funnies #1 (1942).
Unfortunately, the artist didn't sign it, and the experts at various comic indexing sites have been unable to offer possible illustrators.
Personally, I'm thinking Walt Kelly.
(The snarky reindeer are an obvious giveaway)
Any suggestions?
Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Reading Room SANTA CLAUS FUNNIES "Santa Claus in Trouble"

Ever hear "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"?
...well, when that woman is the Ice Queen, even ol' Kris Kringle better watch out!
Some observations...
Boy, the Ice Queen is a real...#itch, ain't she?
Santa has "magic snowshoes"?
Wonder what other kool gimmicks he has lying around the toyshop...
Illustrated by Lea Bing, this never-reprinted story from Dell's Santa Claus Funnies #1 (1942) was the first in a series of annual books featuring not only Kris Kringle, but other Christmas-related characters and stories that ran from '42 to '62.
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