Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reading Room: SPACE DETECTIVE "Trail to the Asteroid Hideout"

Art by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood
Wow, It's like I don't even have to show up!
The comic does all the work for me!
Now, on to the pulse-pounding conclusion...
This 3-part series opener from Avon's Space Detective #1 (1951) was written by Walter Gibson (the primary writer of The Shadow pulp novel series under the name "Maxwell Grant") and illustrated by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood.
There's more Space Detective action to come!
Bookmark our blog and watch for it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Are the President's Kids MORE IMPORTANT than Ours? YES!

The National Rifle Association asks the question...
...in the following video ad currently running in major markets.

So, are the President's kids more important than yours (or mine)?
Let's be blunt...YES!
Their father is the head of the mightiest nation on the planet!
His finger is on the Nuclear Trigger, with the power to totally-annihilate all life on this world 25 times over!
If any member of his family (kids or wife) is taken hostage and threatened by terrorists, it would give them leverage over a man who could destroy any city or country on Earth (or the whole damn globe) with one command!
The ad is based on such a stupid concept that even the daughter of Republican icon, President Dwight D Eisenhower, has denounced it!
(And, as she points out, having huge, heavily-armed men who report directly to your dad constantly following you around does not make you the most popular kid in school.)
Oddly, I've never seen anyone begrudge these security measures for any other President's family!
Not Eisenhower (nor any of his predecessors  gooing back to McKinley)!
Not Kennedy!
Not Johnson!
Not Nixon!
Not Ford!
Not Carter!
Not Reagan!
Not Bush I!
Not Clinton!
Not Bush II!
But, curiously, according to the NRA, Obama's family isn't worthy of the same treatment!

All of us believe our own families are the most important people on Earth...and in terms of emotion, that's true (as it should be).
But, in terms of value as strategic assets that America must keep out of enemy hands, the President's family (no matter who the person holding the office is) has us all beat, hands-down!
If someone kidnapped my parents or wife and threatened to kill them if I didn't do what they wanted, the best I could do to save them from a fate worse than death is write and design a magazine or trading cards for the kidnappers!
President Obama could do a helluva lot more than that.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reading Room: SPACE DETECTIVE "Bandits of the Starways"

Introducing the first space shamus with his own title...
...illustrated by no less than comics legends Joe Orlando and Wally Wood!
"Some day" may be a lot sooner than you think, Teena!
The series opener from Avon's Space Detective #1 (1951) was written by Walter Gibson, the primary writer of The Shadow pulp novel series under the name "Maxwell Grant", and illustrated by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood, but who did what is open to speculation as both artists would do both penciling and inking on pages as they worked on them together as shown in this illustration by Wally Wood...
Joe Orlando (l) and Wally Wood (r) working on a page.
Orlando was the first of many Wood assistants who would go on to work independently in the comics industry.
Others include Dan Adkins, Larry Hama, Ralph Reese, Wayne Howard, Paul Kirchner, and Russ Jones.
Wood himself started out as an assistant to both Will Eisner (The Spirit) and George Wunder (Terry and the Pirates) before striking out on his own.
So Wally was well aware of the value, both to the established artist and the young up-and-comers, of using (and training) assistants, and continued the practice for the rest of his career.

The Space Detective story continues tomorrow at our "brother" blog Crime and Punishment™ and concludes back here on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fighting Crime in a Future Time! The Coming of...Space Detective!

Art by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood
Blending the hard-boiled gumshoe, sci-fi and superhero genres, Avon's Space Detective burst onto the comics scene in 1951.

Future-era wealthy philanthropist Rod Hathway and his secretary Dot Kenny fought interplanetary evil and helped the innocent as Avenger and Teena, using the methods of 1940s gumshoes combined with the technology of the far future!
Blasters instead of revolvers!
Personal jetpacks instaed of taxis!
Stories, whose titles included "Opium Smugglers of Venus" and "SpaceShip of the Dead", delivered fast-paced action illustrated by, among others, comics legends Wally Wood and Joe Orlando, who would go on to greater graphic story glory as mainstays of EC Comics' Weird Fantasy and Weird Science titles.
One interesting aspect is that all the Space Detective stories in a given issue have an underlying plotline (usually a villainous mastermind) who's caught or killed in the final story!
Here's the inside-cover contents pages from the four-issue run, to give you a taste of what's to come..
Art by Joe Orlando and Wally Wood
Art by Wally Wood and Joe Orlando
Art by Gene Fawcette
So, since it's both space opera and crime fiction, we're going to run it on both this blog and our "brother" blog Crime & Punishment™!
The first chapter will appear here tomorrow, the second at Crime & Punishment™ on Friday, then the conclusion back here on Saturday!
Weird Trivia:
1) Despite the fact that neither character wore a mask, nobody ever commented "hey, ain't you that famous Hathway guy?" or somesuch.
(Maybe they were too busy looking at Teena's cleavage?)
2) Nobody ever calls Rod "Space Detective"! He's always called "Avenger".
3) The original user of the name "Avenger", a Doc Savage-style pulp/comic character, hadn't been published since 1944. The trademark had lapsed, so it was used on this unrelated character from a different company.
(This sort of thing is far more common in comics/pulps than you might think.
For example, three different companies have had a "Captain Marvel", none of whom were related to the other companies' versions!  
Marvel Comics itself has had several Captains Marvel including a father and son and two women [one of whom was romantically-involved with the first Marvel Captain Marvel!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reading Room: STRANGE GALAXY "Space Monsters"

Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
...except, it both was and wasn't the final tale!
The script was used, almost verbatim (but with a renamed lead character), for a new story in the first issue of the short-lived 1970s b/w magazine Strange Galaxies!
All the other names, including the female lead, Maeve, and various locations, remained the same...
In fact, all the stories in Eerie Publications' Strange Galaxy V1N8 (which was the first issue), were re-dos of earlier stories from various defunct comic companies!
I guess they figured that no one would remember the original 1950s tales in 1971...
The rewriter/adaptor is unknown, but could be editor Carl Burgos, who created, among others, the Golden Age Human Torch and the first Silver Age Captain Marvel (the android who said "Split"!).
The stories don't have individual art credits, but according to the Weird World of Eerie Publications by Mike Howlett, the illustrator is one of the artists who were regular contiburors to the Eerie Publications line, Oscar Fraga.
We already presented the original (HERE) and re-do (HERE) of another Strange Galaxy/Strange Worlds/Strange Planets story!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reading Room: KENTON OF THE STAR PATROL "Monster-Men of Space"

It's time for interstellar adventure with Kenton of the Star Patrol...
...as another talented artist takes the reins for his final tale!
This Kenton story from Avon's Strange Worlds #6 (1952) as penned by Gardner Fox and rendered by Everett Raymond Kinstler, who left comics for fine art (including numerous official portraits of US Presidents).
Previous Kenton artists Joe Orlando and Wally Wood did the cover for the issue...
...but, when the cover was reused for IW/Super's Eerie #1 (1958), which contained stories from Spook Comics, the art looked decidedly-different!
Was the Eerie cover the original version, which was modified to make the alien match the Kinsler-drawn aliens?
Ironically, when the Kenton story was reprinted, it had a totally-new cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito featuring aliens who looked nothing like the Monster-Men...
And there's yet another twist to the tale of this tale, which we will tell...tomorrow, when we go from Strange Worlds and Strange Planets to Strange Galaxies!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cover Preview: SHERLOCK HOLMES "Liverpool Demon"

Our good friend Francesco Francavilla is doing covers for one a new mini-series...
Issue #1
...featuring one of our favorite characters!
Here's the synopsis...
The year is 1888: the Great Detective and the ever dependable Dr. Watson find themselves in the bleak northern port city of Liverpool from whose still bustling docklands grim slave vessels once sailed.
Violent gangs roam the streets and the city’s struggling police force are fighting a war against an all pervading criminal underworld.
A strange creature is sighted high among the rooftops and soon dead bodies bearing strange wounds begin to mysteriously appear.
Only Sherlock Holmes can cut to the heart of the mystery and expose the truth behind the spectre of The Liverpool Demon.
Here's the covers for the other three issues in the series...
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #4
It looks like a helluva lot of fun, and, of course, the Greatest Sleuth of All will find a (ahem) logical explanation for all the satanic goings-on!

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