Posted Thursday, September 16th, 2021 by Barry

Gumby 3-D (1986)

Play-Doh was initially invented as a wallpaper cleaner by Noah McVicker of Cincinnati, OH, to fend off soot from coal burning furnaces. Technology moved on and oil furnaces became more prevalent.

By this time McVicker died, leaving the family business to his son, Joe. He and his mother enlisted the aid of a brother-in-law/uncle and started marketing it as modeling clay for classrooms in 1955. Seeing the success of the product in a different application, Joe merged with his uncle in Rainbow Crafts Company, Inc. in 1956. He filed for a patent in 1958, though it wasn’t approved until 1965.

 

Gumby 3-D (1986

In 2006, the Toy Hall of Fame inductee was given its own day, National Play-Doh Day, by Hasbro.

Representing the clay is Gumby, modeled and created by Art Clokey in the early 1950s. The name came from the muddy clay found at his grandparent’s farm called “gumbo.” The clay used to “animate” Gumby was never Play-Doh, but we’re taking license for the day.

Gumby first hit the airwaves in 1955. Guest appearances eventually led to his self-titled The Gumby Show that same year. A total of 25, 11-minute episodes were prepared for NBC for the 1955-56 viewing season.

The Gumby Show entered syndication in 1959.

Original episodes ceased in 1969.

Comedian and actor Eddie Murphy brought Gumby back to the spotlight with live-action parodies on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s.

Ninety-nine new animated episodes were prepared and aired in syndication beginning in 1987.

He was brought back in reruns for Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network in 1992 and Gumby: The Movie was released in theaters in 1995.

Along the way, Gumby made his way into the four-color medium. Over time he has appeared in several titles over many years. No one seems to have chronicled his history in comic books, but it appears as if he first graced the cover of his own book in 1986.

Publishers Papercutz, Blackthorne, Comico and Wildcard have played host to his adventures.

To celebrate the day, participants are encouraged to find a stash of Play-Doh and let their imaginations do the rest.

Posted Monday, September 13th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 23

Doff the hat, toss the bandanna, let the world see the chrome on the dome, today is National Bald is Beautiful Day.

More and more men are celebrating the freedom from morning grooming, trashing the combs and reveling in their new found time. No longer must they spend the extra time and money shampooing and coifing.

While Yule Brenner may be the first choice as spokesman, he never graced the cover or interior of a comic book. No, the logical choice is Superman’s number one archvillain Lex Luthor.

Luthor’s criminal career can be broken down into three eras. He began as a red-haired “mad scientist and manipulative warlord,” according to the forward in Lex Luthor A Celebration of 75 Years.

His follicelly-challenged appearance first came to be in the Superman newspaper strip then Superman issue 10, courtesy of artist Leo Nowak, though he first appeared in Action Comics 23 with a full head of red hair.

The loss of his hair was addressed in Adventure Comics 271. The Silver Age story also provided a new origin for Luthor. In the tale, young Luthor was a fan of Superboy, even building a club house/museum dedicated to the Boy of Steel’s exploits.

When an accidental fire began at the club house, Superboy put the blaze out with a puff of super breath. Luthor was uninjured, but his hair had fallen out due to a mixture of fumes from Kryptonite he was studying and the blow from Superboy.

The feud was on.

Luthor continued to battle Superman throughout the Silver and into the Bronze ages.

It wasn’t until after Crisis on Infinite Earths he became more of a business man. Writer/artist John Byrne retooled Superman and Luthor. The villain became a mashup of Ted Turner and Donald Trump with a dash of Marvel Comic’s Kingpin.

Using his considerable fortune for leverage, Luthor launched himself into the world of politics as the new millennium arrived. A botched attempt at weapon’s trading and a bounty on Superman’s head backfired leaving Luthor a fugitive and to abandon the Oval Office.

Writers continued to reinvent Luthor throughout the ensuing Crises, events and company reboots.

Luthor has accompanied the Man of Steel outside the printed page to the silver screen, the small screen and video games

While our choice for spokesman for National Bald is Beautiful Day has such a rich history, the day itself does not.

To celebrate, well, do whatever you want; read some back issues with Luthor as the protagonist, shave your head or compliment someone who has.

Posted Saturday, September 11th, 2021 by Barry

911: Artists Respond, Volume One

Any American can tell you what today is. Maybe not by its proper name, but by its call numbers: 9-11.

Today is Patriot Day. The day remembering the first attack on American soil since World War II and the ill-conceived Japanese bomb balloons.

September 11 is an annual reminder 2,977 people died at the hands of 19 hijackers. Six-thousand others were wounded. Airline deaths totaled 265 with 2,606 at the World Trade Center and surrounding area and 125 at the Pentagon.

The bulk of deaths were centered in New York, birthplace and still home to the comic book industry. Marvel Comic Books has long used the city that never sleeps as its backdrop. DC Comics have modeled Batman’s denizen after the sprawl of crime and darkness.

911: Artists Respond, Volume One

It was only fitting the comic book industry respond with a publication to raise monies for The World Trade Center Fund, Survivors Fund, September 11th Fund and the Twin Towers Fund.

9-11: Artists Respond, Volume One was published by Dark Horse Comics, Chaos! Comics and Image Comics. Both volume one and 9-11: The World’s Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember, Volume Two, feature short stories and single-page work from professionals throughout the industry.

Featured in the title were writer/artists Brian Biggs, Mike Diana, Dylan Horrocks, Roger Langridge, Liniers, R. Sikoryak, Dean Motter, Jon. J. Muth, Dave Cooper, Will Eisner, Batton Lash, Frank Miller, Al Davison, Bryan Talbot, David Alvarez, Layla Lawlor, Tony Millionaire, Mira Friedmann, Mark Crilley, Doug TenNapel, P. Craig Russell, Tommy Lee Edwards, Mitch O’Connell, David Chelsea, Sam Henderson, Ron Boyd, Phil Elliott, Stan Sakai, Jim Mahfood, Paul Chadwick, Darko Macan, Leland Myrick, John Paul Leon, William Stout, March Rosenthal, Enrico Casarosa, Mark Martin, Brian McDonald, Brian O’Connell, Terry Anderson, Becky Cloonan, Eric Drooker, Chris Eliopoulos, Davide Fabbri, Tatiana Gill, Steve Guaraccia, Jim Hill, Eric Kilkenny, Scott Morse, Peter Pachoumis, Nijo Philip, Lark Pien, bill Pressing, Aaron Reiner, Laurie Ross, Paul Slobada, John K. Snyder III and Jim Valentino.

Writers: Alan Moore, Joe Casey, Jeph Loeb, Robert Smigel, Roger Stern, John Ostrander, Trina Robbins, J. Torres, Fabian Nicieza, Mike Carey, Jason Hall, Steve Darnall, Stephen Banes, Art (Ferran) Brooks, Marie Croall, Tom DeFalco, Bob Harris, Anthony Johnston, Dan Jolley, Robert Kirkman, Pablo Maiztegui, John McCrae, Steve Niles, Marti Noxon, Brian Pulido, Jamie S. Rich, Randy Stradley, Stephen Walsh and Walt Whitman.

Artists: Renee French, Dave McKean, Dave Gibbons, Peter Kuper, Paul Lee, Sean Phillips, Mike Collins, Guy Davis, Michael Kupperman, Kevin Nowlan, Humberto Ramos, Jose Luis Agreda, Ale Maleev, Ivan Reis, Hilary Barta, Guy Burwell, Chynna Clugston, Rich Ketcham, Cliff Richards, Joe Pimental, Daniel Acuna, Mike Huddleston, J. Scott Campbell, Anne Timmons, Carols Megila, Melinda Gebbie, Pat Moriarity, Alcatena, Istvan Banyai, Dawn Brown, Will Conrad, Bill Dodge, Mike Gestiv, Rich Hedden, Todd Herman, Francisco Solano Lopez, Mary Mitchell, Tony Moore, Mike Norton, Joe Jorsak, Eric Powell, Steve Rolston, Gregory Ruth, Tsuneo Sanda, Robert Solanovic, Ben Stenback, lee Townsend, Kelly Yates and Leinil Francis Yu.

Other comic books focused or featuring the 9-11 attacks include Amazing Spider-Man (1999) issue 36, The Big Lie, The Boys, The Call of Duty, Cartoonists Remember 9-11, Ex Machina, Heroes, Human Target, A Moment of Silence, The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, In the Shadow of No Towers and I Love New York.

A bill to make September 11 a national day of mourning was introduced in the U.S. House on Oct. 25, 2001, by Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) with 22 co-sponsors. A resolution was made to proclaim Sept. 11, 2002, as the first Patriot Day. From 2009 to 2016, President Barack Obama proclaimed September 11, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. In 2017, President Donald Trump proclaimed Sept. 8-10 as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance and proclaimed September 11 as Patriot Day.

In observance, the flag of the United States is to be flown at half mast at the White House and all U.S. government buildings and establishments worldwide. Americans are encouraged to display flags outside their homes. A moment of silence is to be observed to correspond with the attacks, beginning at 8:46 a.m. (EDT) the time the first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Patriot Day is not a federal holiday; schools and businesses remain open in observance of the occasion.

Posted Thursday, September 9th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 139

The Teddy Bear we have on tap as today’s mascot is not the cuddly kind found in beds and bedrooms of the young, but a disillusioned wrestler named Max Markham.

President Theodore Roosevelt is to thank, in a round about way, for National Teddy Bear Day today. In 1902, then sitting President Roosevelt declined to slaughter a bear cub while hunting in Mississippi. The media of the day picked up on the story and illustrator Clifford Berryman immortalized the gesture in pen and ink. The cartoon appeared in the Washington Post Nov. 16, 1902. It prompted New York store owner Morris Michtom to create what we now call the Teddy Bear.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 139

The stuffed animal has become a staple of most childhoods and a best-selling toy.

Markham’s inspiration came from Spider-Man enemy the Jackal who crafted a custom exoskeleton. The exoskeleton was covered in a faux grizzly hide in homage to Markahm’s ring persona.

The Grizzly attacked Daily Bugle Publisher J. Jonah Jameson for exposing Markham’s violence in the squared circle in a series of articles. Of course, Spider-Man stepped in to save his long-suffering nemesis only to face the Grizzly and Jackal in their next encounter.

The Grizzly has been a minor character in the Marvel Universe since his first appearance December 1974. Since then, he has made occasional appearances for rematches with Spidey and later became a crime fighter to aid the Web Head.

Markham would relapse and become a criminal again, often appearing in animal-themed gangs. He would eventually flip back to the light side, teaming with Scott (Ant-Man) Lang. Markham would work for Lang at the Ant-Man Security Solutions.

Three other versions of the Grizzly would populate the Marvel U:  Ace Fenton, an old west bank robber; Grizzly, an A.I.M. operative; and Theodore Winchester, a member of Cable’s Wild Pack.

No one has stepped forward to claim responsibility for creating National Teddy Bear Day. Suggestions on how to celebrate include gifting someone a Teddy Bear, donating Teddy Bears to a local organization for children, hosting a Teddy Bear party and sharing memories of your Teddy Bear on social media.

Posted Monday, September 6th, 2021 by Barry

Popeye and Business and Office Careers (1972)

While waiting for the burgers to grill, drinks to chill and stomachs to fill check out a piece of the past while celebrating Labor Day 2021.

Popeye and supporting cast head to the office for a walkthrough of white-collar life circa 1972.  There, host Popeye explains job opportunities from the ground level up. Receptionists greet the reader along with an explanation of their duties.

Popeye and Business and Office Careers (1972)

Next stop are typists and their duties followed by file clerks. Each stop is punctuated with “interviews” from respective workers and the level of school needed to perform their functions.

Following are the stenographers as are legal secretaries.

Popeye doesn’t stop with the workers, but spotlights the machines they must use as well. This leads to the people who operate them and their duties.

Those who finish the book are encouraged to participate in planning their future work career.

Other books designed to set readers on a career paths included in the Career Educational Series included Health, Environmental, Communications, Transportation, Construction, Consumer & Homemaking, Manufacturing, Hospitality & Recreation, Marketing & Distribution, Public Service, Personal Service, Marine Science, Fine Arts & Humanities, and Agri-Business & Natural Resources.

King Features distributed the educational comic books to schools, hospitals, offices, etc.

Labor Day dates back at least to 1882 and the Knights of Labor. Central Labor Union Secretary Matthew Maguire is said to have proposed a national holiday to celebrate the worker.

Others attribute the notion to Peter J. McGuire, vice president of the American Federation of Labor.

Whichever the case, President Grover Cleveland backed a September commemoration and Labor Day became officially recognized as a federal holiday in 1894.

Posted Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 by Barry

Barefoot Gen (1973-1987)

Dec. 7, 1941, “a day that will live in infamy,” led to two others:  Aug. 6, 1945 and Aug. 9, 1945.

Not as controversial at the time, the two dates mark a rip in the fabric of time and history. They mark the dropping of two nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, in an effort to bring World War II in the Pacific to an end.

Since then, the decision to detonate the two bombs has come into question. Not one we’re going to debate.

Instead, to commemorate National V-J Day (Victor over Japan) we’re going to look at a serious treatment of the events before and after the bombings in a medium many believe exists for laughter.

Barefoot Gen, or Hadashi no Gen, is told from the viewpoint of a six-year-old Keiji Nakazawa who survived the bombing. The account began in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump titled Ore wa Mita, or I Saw It, in manga form.

It was printed in the United States in 1982 through Educomics.

Barefoot Gen (1973-1987)

Barefoot Gen is a serialized, longer version of I Saw It. While the original was printed in 1972, the extended telling began in 1973.

Gen Nakaoka, based on Nakazawa, is the protagonist who relives the final days of the war. His retelling of Japan’s actions is not flattering and the book was banned for a short period in its home country.

When the bomb is dropped, Gen loses his father and siblings. He is left to care for his pregnant mother. Together they bear witness in the aftermath.

Eventually they learn to live under American occupation, staying in an old bomb shelter. Gen joins the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, to help feed his family.

Gen makes a break with the gangsters and meets Katsuko, an orphan marked by burns from the bomb. As an orphan and scarred, she is discriminated against and cannot attend school. Gen becomes her teacher.

While Nakazawa’s story doesn’t end there, Gen’s does.

The manga has sold more than 10-million copies worldwide. It was made into three live-action films, the first in 1976: Barefoot Gen; Barefoot Gen: Explosion of Tears in 1977 and Barefoot Gen:  Part 3 Battle of Hiroshima in 1980.

Two animated films have been made, Barefoot Gen in 1983 and Barefoot Gen 2 in 1986.

A two-episode television drama was released in 2007 simply called Barefoot Gen.

In addition, books and theater productions have retold the story.

National V-J Day recognizes Allied Forces’ victory over Japan during World War II. The official surrender to the Allies was Aug. 14, 1945, but the signing of the peace treaty was not held until Sept. 2, 1945.

President Harry Truman declared September 2 to be the official V-J Day.

Posted Monday, August 30th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 4

National Beach Day is a celebration of more than rest and recreation, but a reminder to preserve one of nature’s wonders.

Reminding everyone today is not only a (non) holiday, but a call to awareness is William Baker, aka Flint Marko, the Sandman.

Sandman was the fourth villain to challenge Spider-Man. He was also one of the most recurring enemies during the early years. He first battled the Web Head in issue four of Amazing Spider-Man before teaming with Sinister Six in the first annual, then battling in a doubleheader in issues 18 and 19.

Following his initial battles with Spider-Man, Sandman would venture into other titles to fight the Hulk and join forces with the Frightful Four against the Fantastic Four. His services would not be called upon to battle Spidey until the premiere of Marvel Team-Up in the early 1970s.

 

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 4

His powers came courtesy of a nuclear mishap on a beach near Savannah, GA. When his body and radioactive sand bonded, his molecular structure turns to sand.

Sandman later is merged with Hydro-Man to form Mud-Thing. They later untangle their mingled bodies and go their separate ways.

Over the years Marko flirted with both sides of the law. He’s currently enjoying a taste of immortality until the next writer chooses to mess with the Marvel continuity.

Sandman has appeared in almost all the animated versions of Spider-Man beginning with the 1967 incarnation. He crossed over to the Fantastic Four’s cartoon as part of the Frightful Four before returning to both 1981’s versions of Spidey.

He was passed over for the 1990’s animated series due to a prior commitment. James Cameron had tagged Sandman for the long-awaited Spider-Man movie. That didn’t happen and Marko had to wait for the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon for his next appearance.

He was given his silver screen debut in 2007 for Spider-Man 3.

Sandman has also been a staple in the video game universe. Marko has appeared in Questprobe, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six, Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, Spider-Man 3, Spider-Man: The Battle Within, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Spider-Man Unlimited, Marvel: Future Flight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

National Beach Day was established by the Knights of Columbus in 1929 as part of their convention plans. It was until 2014 Collen Paige, pet and family lifestyle expert, resurrected the defunct (non) holiday to celebrate beaches and the importance of keeping them clean.

Posted Thursday, August 26th, 2021 by Barry

Batman (1940) 92

Founded in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert (is there such a thing?) Colleen Paige, National Dog Day is commemorated to recognize man’s best friend.

Last year’s emcee was Krypto the super dog. This year Batman and Robin’s sidekick Ace, the Bat-Hound, is the spokes dog.

Ace first appeared in Batman (1940) issue 92. Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff are the creators of the colorful canine. Taking a nod from such famous four-legged sleuths as Rin Tin Tin and Ace the Wonder Dog, the duo made the four-color Ace a German Shepherd.

Batman (1940) 92

Engraver John Wilker was Ace’s original owner. Following the kidnapping of his master, Ace was recruited by Batman and Robin to find Wilker. Because of a distinctive star-shaped marking on Ace’s forehead, he was masked when working with Batman and Robin.

Ace became a permanent resident of the Bat Cave when Wilker willed his pet to the crime fighters. He would continue exploits into the beginning of the Silver Age before disappearing for two decades.

He returned briefly as a service dog in the early 1990s. Then he was returned to limbo following the No Man’s Land storyline.

Ace became part of the DCU again under the New 52 banner. Damian Wayne would adopt the kennel find, though he would be named Titus.

Most recently, Ace has found a home with the Waynes once again. His origin this time had him serving as a guard dog for the Joker. Each of the pooches had a card symbol; Ace, of course, had an Ace. Butler Alfred Pennyworth rescued him from the pound. Despite his employer’s wishes, Alfred trained the dog and presented him to Bruce Wayne, complete with mask, for Christmas.

Ace has appeared in the animated DCU as well. He was a faithful companion to Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond, cameoed on Static Shock, guested on Krypto the Superdog and Batman: The Brave and the Bold and starred in various DC Nation Shorts.

To observe National Dog Day, participants are encouraged to honor their furry companions and even consider adopting one.

Posted Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Rather than celebrate Christmas as we’ve previously done with this special, we’re recognizing those persecuted for their religious beliefs for International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief.

Evan Skolnick and Josh Hood use nine pages in Unto Others to peek behind prejudice and the ugly reality of hate crimes. In this abbreviated tale of alienation, mutant Kitty Pryde helps a young girl attempt to understand why some peoples aren’t perceived as created equal.

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Only by confessing her role as an outsider does Kitty make her young listener begin to understand how race, religious beliefs and heritage can be used against people.

The Universal Declaration for Human Rights serves as the foundation for the United Nation’s stance on religious persecution and violence. The organization strongly condemns acts of violence against religious groups. It is another reason why the UN recognized International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief.

Learning about various religions is strong suggested to observe today. Donate to other churches or pray for those of different faiths.

The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief was established on May 28, 2019. The resolution was passed after the attacks on mosques in New Zealand and churches in Sri Lanka. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz introduced the legislature.

Of all religions, Christians are the most persecuted facing adversity in 143 countries.

Kitty Pryde is both a mutant and a Jew. The X-Men were originally used to mirror social commentary against minorities. As mutants, they were feared as the next evolutionary step. Those hating the future saw themselves as dinosaurs soon to be deposed as unneeded and unwanted.

Issues touched upon include racism, anti-Semitism, diversity, LGBT themes, Communism and Socialism, religion, subculture and genocide.

Posted Thursday, August 19th, 2021 by Barry

Showcase (1956) 22

On Dec. 17, 1903, mankind truly mastered three dimensions as the first controlled powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight took place.

While Dec. 17 would seem the logical choice for National Aviation Day, it’s really today. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into observance National Aviation Day using Orville Wright’s birthday, Aug. 19, 1871. Today is the day a grateful world recognizes the pioneers of flight.

Showcase (1956) 22

Acting as chairman for the day former test pilot Hal Jordan.

Introduced in Showcase issue 22, October 1959, Jordan embodied the Silver Age Green Lantern as brought to life courtesy of fathers John Broome and Gil Kane.

The writer/artist combo made Jordan a combat pilot cum test pilot for Ferris Aircraft. It was while training for the company he was summoned by a dying alien, Abin Sur, to become his replacement for Sector 2814 as part of the Green Lantern Corp.

Jordan appeared in two more issues of Showcase before granted his own title in July-August 1960. Gardner Fox would join Broome as co-author of the scripts beginning with issue 17. Together, with editor Julius Schwartz, they crafted adventures until 1970.

With issue 76, Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams began the legendary Hard Traveling Heroes saga. The wunderkinds teamed Jordan with fellow Justice Leaguer Green Arrow and set them on a path across the United States. For two years, until issue 89, the green-garbed duo tackled such topics as overpopulation, bigotry and drug use.

As with the rest of the DC Universe, Jordan had to survive Crisis on Infinite Earths. He did and returned in the third volume bearing the Green Lantern title.

By the early 1990s Jordan was living on borrowed time in the DCU. A multi-part storyline turned him to the dark side. He adopted a new identity in Parallax and was replaced by Kyle Rayner.

In the new millennium, Jordan was allowed to wear the ring once more. He has continued to be the most recognized of the Green Lantern Corps, having lived through the New 52 and DC Rebirth.

Proclamation USC 36:I:A:1:118 allows the sitting president to proclaim August 19 as National Aviation Day each year. If desired, the President’s proclamation may direct all federal buildings and installations to fly the U.S. flag on that day.