Posted Saturday, October 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 1

Dr. Droopenstein opens the month with a shot worthy of James Whale; brooding stonework towering into the shadows as streaks of lightning announce the birth pains of bringing a monster to life.

The atmosphere quickly dissolves by the next page when headliner, Droopy, opens his mouth and the mind “hears” the laconic drawl associated with the animated character.

A cloud as real as the ones outside hangs over Droopy as he realizes his experiment has failed. But, where to find a fresh brain this time of night?

To quote Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and you shall receive…”

Tex Avery's Droopy (1995) #1

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) #1

Receive Droopy does, in the form of arch nemesis McWolf.

The wayward wolf is only too happy to partake of Droopy’s hospitality. Doffing his rain-soaked jacket he makes himself comfortable by the fire. His demeanor is quick to change when the plot unfolds and his host begins to chase him around the castle wanting his brain.

Droopy is able to catch his fleetfooted friend when he comes across the shapely bride wrapped in gauze. The transfer is made, but the monster finds his new mate more than he bargained for.

Rod Serling is bashed in The Violent Zone, a parody of the 1959 anthology series in the book’s second installment.

The Twilight Zone ran five seasons, 1959 to 1964. Each episode would feature a fantasy or horror aspect and offer a twist ending.

Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, began as a novel written by Mary Shelley. The original text bore a passing resemblance to Whale’s screen adaptation.

The monster became an icon four years later when the director made Bride of Frankenstein in 1935. Bride was highly praised upon its release and was added to the United States National Film Registry in 1998. Empire Magazine selected it as one of the greatest 500 movies of all time and Time Magazine praised it as one of the top 100 movies of all time.

This version was brought to life by Brian Lemay story and pencils and is the first of a trilogy of holiday spectacles offered by Dark Horse Comics. Thanksgiving and Christmas follow.

Posted Thursday, September 29th, 2022 by Barry

Special Marvel Edition Featuring… (1971) 15

At the risk of seeming insensitive, we’re taking today, Confucius Day, and coupling it with the first appearance of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.

I say, “…not to seem insensitive…” in that I’m using a Bronze-Age fictional Chinese comic book character to represent a revered, real-life Chinese philosopher, poet and politician.

Rest assured; no slight is intended.

Confucius is believed to have been born Sept. 28, 551 BC in the 22nd year of the reign of Emperor Xiang. His birth name was Kong Qiu, but was referred to as Master Kong.

Though his father died when Confucius was three and raised in poverty, the future master became a studious child, excelling in his learnings. At 22, Confucius started his first private school in China. Several of his earliest students became noblemen and political administrators.

Special Marvel Edition Featuring… (1971) 15

In his 50s, Confucius was named his home-town’s Grand Minister of Justice. As his status grew, so did his teachings, first across China and, later, the world.

Confucius’s birthday is also observed as Teacher’s Day in China and Taiwan because Confucius believed in education without discrimination. Confucius disciples came from different social classes, and he accommodated them all.

The philosopher/fighter we defer today is a creation of two Americans as told in the form of a completely American creation. Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin wished to adapt the popular Kung Fu television series of the time into comic book form. After DC Comics turned a deaf ear to their pitch, the duo approached Marvel Comics.

By this time the two wished to create their own martial arts master.

Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas gave the go ahead with the caveat Marvel’s recently acquired license of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu be incorporated into the mythos.

Shang-Chi debuted in Special Marvel Edition issue 15. He proved popular enough to make two more appearances in the former reprint book before earning his own title.

With issue 17, Special Marvel Edition became The Hands of Shang-Chi, Maser of Kung Fu. The book would outlast the martial arts fad of the 1970s running to 1983 and issue 125.

Along the way, Shang-Chi would star in four giant-size editions, an annual a Special Collector’s Edition, The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu special one, and make regular appearances in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine.

The 1980s and early 1990s afforded Shang Chi a much-needed rest, but he would continue to guest in specials and other Marvel character books.

With interest in the Marvel Universe beyond the printed page, Shang-Chi bided his time until his franchise was optioned for the big screen. In anticipation, a new title appeared and he finally debuted in theaters in 2021 in the self-titled Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The loosely-based retelling of the 1970s four-color martial arts master met with unexpected success at the box office returning over $400 million worldwide.

To commemorate the day, follow the philosophy of the non-holiday’s namesake, but by all means, please explore the world of an underused, under-appreciated character whose story is more than worth telling…it’s worth reading.

Posted Monday, September 26th, 2022 by Barry

Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner (1968) 23

A mascot for an entertainment franchise takes center stage as we celebrate Shamu the Whale Day.

September 26 has been set aside to honor and commemorate the original and subsequent Orcas since.

Shamu became a staple of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in the 1960s. The first park was built in 1964 and became known as SeaWorld San Diego followed by a site in Aurora, Ohio, then called SeaWorld Ohio. The advent of Disney World in Florida brought about SeaWorld Orlando in 1973 and SeaWorld San Antonio (Texas) in 1976.

Over time, SeaWorld’s killer whales, or Orcas, became its main attraction. Shamu was the name of the first Orca at the original San Diego site. It has since been adopted for each park and each successor over the years.

Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner (1968) 23

September 26 was chosen to celebrate all the Shamus though it is based on the day in 1985 and the first surviving baby Shamu.

At least originally.

Shamu the Whale Day is currently more suited for allowing killer whales to live in their native biosphere rather than a created one. Understanding the world around us has become more common rather than adopting and adapting it to suit our needs.

For instance, the original Shamu was captured in 1965. It died in 1971 following an accident during a performance. Today, 37 years ago, marks the first Shamu who survived birth in captivity.

Even SeaWorld announced in 2016 it would no longer breed Orcas in captivity.

To better understand the 50,000 Orcas alive today, people are encouraged to inform themselves and others. This can be done through printed matter, documentaries or lectures.

When done, we recommend turning to Sub-Mariner (1968) issue 23.

Our killer whale was an Atlantean solider in the army of Warlord Krang in his attempts to wrest control of the Atlantean throne from Namor. After the failed attempt, Orka goes into hiding with his master. A psionic amplified belt turns Orka into his namesake and he aids Krang in another attempt at usurping the throne. This ends in failure as well.

Over the years, Orka went from villain to a hero of sorts. After the events of Civil War, he teamed with then current incarnation of Heroes for Hire. He was killed during the series, but resurrected during the Dark Reign storyline and, later, became a member of Namor’s Defenders of the Deep.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the day, remember we are not alone on Earth.

Posted Saturday, September 24th, 2022 by Barry

The Real Ghostbusters (1988) 1

Today is National Ghost Hunting Day so, who ya gonna call?

After that unoriginal opening and the cover to the side, it’s a no brainer as to what we’re gonna talk about today.

The Real Ghostbusters (1988) 1

This Johnny-come-lately non-holiday began sometime before 2017 at the insistence of Haunted Travels as a way to begin the ghost hunting season and the season for haunted attractions.

The actual kick off date does shift each year, but the day remains the same. Kick off is the last Saturday in September.

While Ed and Lorraine Warren of the Conjuring franchise may be the current sweethearts of the supernatural set, the quintet from the Big Apple are still the favorites.

Saturday Night Live alum Dan Aykroyd proposed the story and script and Harold Ramis polished the finished product.

The 1984 film starred Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson. Ghostbusters earned $240 million in the U.S. alone with another $50 million abroad on a $30-million-dollar budget.

Ghostbusters II was released in 1989 followed by the 2016 gender-changing remake and Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021.

Our comic book adaptation is based on the Columbia Pictures Television and DIC Entertainment collaboration The Real Ghostbusters syndicated animated series that ran from 1986-1991.

NOW Comics, founded in 1985, began publishing The Real Ghostbusters comic books March 28, 1988.

Oddly enough, NOW Comics held the North American rights while Marvel Comics held the European publishing rights. Material from both companies would be reprinted by the other at times.

NOW Comics published two volumes of The Real Ghostbusters, the first running 28 issues and a second with only four. A spin-off series featuring breakout character Slimer was launched, publishing 19 issues.

For more information on the comic book history of the franchise, read Ghostbusters: Past, Present and Future.

For more facts about ghosts, read on.

Malaysia, United States and Canada have the highest percentage of population who believe in ghosts, 57 percent, 47 percent and 44 percent respectively. Of those 47 percent of Americans who are believers, 30 percent claim to have been awakened by a ghost in the bedroom during their lifetime.

Countries with the lowest percentage of belief are Germany with 25 percent, the Netherlands with 23 percent and Brazil at 21 percent. Oddly enough, the first recorded poltergeist activity occurred at a farmhouse in Germany during the ninth century.

Ghosts are credited with haunting places while poltergeists haunt people.

If you believe you are being haunted, here are some tips on how to remove the offending spirit from your presence.

First, just by speaking with the ghost or poltergeist. Some are reasonable and can be negotiated with.

Next up are the tried-and-true Holy Water and spiritual cleansings.

There’s always smudging. That’s when the smoke from a smudge stick clears the spirit from the area.

White candle clearing is pretty much what is sounds like.

If feeling froggy, there’s Feng Shui, the rearranging of the room’s furniture.

To trick the spirit, pour white rice as close to the exterior of the foundation of your house as possible. Apparently, ghosts are OCD and will go out to count the grains. A couple of days later, pour salt over the rice to prevent the spirit from reentering the house.

Posted Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 by Barry

Walt Disney’s Autumn Adventures (1990) 1

No surprise what we’re celebrating today; the cooler temperatures, changing leaf colors and gateway to the biggest holidays of the year. Today is the first day of Autumn.

Welcome to fall.

Walt Disney’s Autumn Adventures (1990) 1

In North America, autumn traditionally starts with the September equinox, September 21 to 24, and ends with the winter solstice, Dec. 21 or 22. In America, Labor Day is often heralded as the end of summer, though the calendar is a little behind.

As a harbinger of things to come, Mickey and friends frolic amid the falling leaves and Jack o’ Lanterns with eight retold tales.

First up is a Donald Duck vehicle called Travelling Truants that first appeared in Dell series (1940) 169.

It’s for the Birds! captures the antics of Chip ‘n’ Dale in this six-page anthropomorphic funny book reprint.

Let Them Eat Cake showcases Brer Rabbit in this folky five-page story.

The cast of Duck Tales takes top billing in A’Haunting We Will Go!

More ducks with Donald in Jet Witch from Dell series (1940) 254, 1961.

Retro goodness continues from Li’l Bad Wolf in Let’s Talk Turkey! the first of three stories to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Next stars Pluto in The Turkey Chaser from Dell series (1940) 147, December 1952 with Chip ‘n’ Dale closing book in CD+GO The Turkey Thiever. The tale was originally published in Dell Series (1955) issue four, February 1956.

A second fall special was published the following year featuring another harvest of reprints.

As if a good read wasn’t enough to commemorate the season, here are a few facts to keep in mind:

More relationships occur in the fall, which is good ‘cuz it’s considered the sexiest time of the year. According to Nigel Barber, PhD and evolutionary psychologist, humans are seasonal breeders with men experiencing a testosterone peak in the fall.

As if that wasn’t enough, the smell of pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac. At least for men. The smell of pumpkin pie mixed with lavender was the most powerful turn-on, increasing blood flow to…well, you get the idea.

So, while couples gear up for a long winter, remember, more babies are born in September than any other month of the year.

Just a little advice for those who finish reading early and are looking for another activity.

Posted Sunday, September 18th, 2022 by Barry

Jughead’s Double Digest (1989) 183

Short of the National Anthem, stars and stripes or mom and her apple pie, what’s more American than a hamburger?

Add a slice of cheese and you have today’s non-holiday.

National Cheeseburger Day pays respect to America’s favorite sandwich topped with a square of coagulated milk protein casein.

Stories of how the cheeseburger came to be and who created the handheld miracle date back to the 1920s. Lionel Sternberger receives credit for adding the extra topping at his father’s sandwich shop in Pasadena, CA, in 1926.

That story is challenged by a Los Angeles eatery called O’Dell’s who stated they put it on the menu in 1928. Kaelin’s Restaurant in Louisville, KY, takes credit for creating the cheeseburger in 1934.

Humpty Dumpty Drive-In of Denver, CO, does hold the distinction of having patented the sandwich name in 1935.

Jughead’s Double Digest (1989) 183

For those Steak n’ Shake enthusiasts, owner Gus Belt also applied for a trademark in the 1930s.

National Cheeseburger Day was one of our first non-holiday features with Action Comics 454 in 2019.

So, it’s kind of nice to service this under appreciated delicacy with someone who knows how to eat; Jughead.

Short of Shaggy and Scooby or Garfield, not many four-color favorites can slam back the food the way Archie’s sidekick can. This cover is a generic representation of the chowhound in action, but also a good representation of today’s non-holiday.

Jughead’s Double Digest is as massive as some of its namesake’s sandwiches. The Double Digest is a meaty 256 pages. Or, at least it was in the beginning. It would trim back to more weight conscious – and economical – 160 pages in later years.

The book began as a quarterly publication in 1989 before ramping up to 11 issues a year even featuring new material. It would be replaced by Jughead and Archie Double Digest in 2014. It was marked the last solo Jughead title.

If sitting down with a double dose of reading and eating material, remember to wipe your fingers so as not to soil the comic book.

Oh, and see if McDonald’s is still offering its double cheeseburger for $.50 today. They did last year.

Posted Friday, September 16th, 2022 by Barry

Hate (1990) 1

Again, no correlation between non-holiday and the cover of this comic book, but anyone who’s read Hate may guess what todays non-red numbered day is.

Today is Stay Away from Seattle Day.

Yep, yet another hard-to-believe non-holiday.

At first it may sound like a slam against the Emerald City – not L. Frank Baum’s metropolis, but the one in the north west – but it’s not. Stay Away from Seattle Day was designed to help the city’s denizens.

September 16 has been designated as a no-visit zone for Seattle, WA.

Hate (1990) 1

Seattle is touted as one of the best cities in the United States in which to live. Brand names like Amazon, Microsoft and Nordstrom help populate the city by providing job opportunities. Seattle is also birthplace of Starbucks, the 1962 World’s Fair feature the Space Needle and tourism beacon Pike Place Market.

Not to confuse today’s wary welcome, Seattle natives are more than happy to accept tourism dollars, but would rather those visitors be just that: visitors. Those seeking new residence need not apply.

To celebrate, stay away. Go north, south, east or west, but not Seattle. At least not on September 16.

A more economical way to visit is to find some of the early issues of writer-artist Peter Bagge’s Hate.

Hate hit the newsstands in 1990, running a mere 30 issues, to 1998 but becoming one of the best-selling alternative comics of the decade. Celebrating the slacker life and dressed in grunge, the title was selling 30,000 copies an issue at its peak.

Buddy Bradley starred as the insecure 20-something floating on a sea of indecision and believed entitlement.

Here’s where today and Hate come together; Buddy lived in Seattle for the first 15 issues of the book, moving back to New Jersey in issue 16.

The Gen X spokesman returned in 2000 for Hate Annual, continuing the stories began the previous decade.

Bagge denounces much of the counter culture associated with Hate. According to the creator, slackers, grunge and other terms associated with the region and era were not in vogue when he started the book.

Hate continues to flare up from time-to-time. The series has been optioned for animated television series for MTV, HBO and Fox since 1995, but have yet to be developed.

So, be a Hater for a day. Discover late 20th-century disenfranchisement showing another side of the decade other than Friends and Fraiser.

Posted Monday, September 12th, 2022 by Barry

National Video Game Day

Not to be confused with Video Game Day, National Video Game Day is held Sept. 12 each year allowing the armchair enthusiast their day in the sun – so to speak.

Most video game historians consider 1971 the dawn of video games. In 1971 Computer Space was released by Nutting Associates for the commercial market. Pong followed the next year, released for arcades by Atari.

Spider-Man for the Atari 2600

It was also the year Magnavox released the Odyssey video game system. Pong followed suit in 1976 with the home-system release of Pong.

In 1977 Atari unveiled the Atari Video Computer System. The system allowed for individual games to be stored on cartridges which could be interchanged enabling the system to play more than one game.

Not until 1985 did the floodgates open with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Over the years video games and comic book characters have intermingled. One of the earliest is Spider-Man for the Atari 2600. Marvel’s loveable web head battled the Green Goblin on a paltry 6502 microprocessor with an anemic 128 bytes of RAM on the Stella graphics chip.

The game was released in 1982 by Parker Brothers for the 2600 and Sears clone, the Sears Video Arcade. Spidey webbed his way to the top of high rise while defusing the Goblin’s bombs.

Not exciting by today’s standards, but the game was a success.

As of this writing, the most recent Spider-Man video game is 2018’s action-adventure game by Insomniac Games. The PlayStation 4 exclusive sold 3.3-million units in its first three days of release, earning an estimated $198 million.

So, take time to remember the superhero games that have come before and enjoy a day of vintage or current punch outs and puzzles as your favorite hero tackles their toughest villains.

Posted Thursday, September 8th, 2022 by Barry

Summer Fun with the Marvel Super Heroes (1985)

Summer has about a month of life left on the calendar, so let’s celebrate with the Marvel heroes circa 1985.

Summer Fun with the Marvel Super Heroes (1985) courtesy of mycomicshop.com

This $.99 ready to colorize adventure was written by Suzanne Weyn with art by Steve Geiger and Phil Lord. Participants were invited to “read along” while adding life to the two-dimensional, monochrome 48-page tome. Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and – surprisingly – Black Cat headline the book.

This is a tamer version of summer fun than the Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit editions published from 1991 to 1995 featuring the curvier heroes and villains frolicking in the sun and surf in swimsuits.

Marvel chose to “imitate” the Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions, even going so far on the first offering as to use font and other features. Future editions would become more independent of the format.

Marvel was not the first to offer a fanboy’s fantasy. Fantagraphics Books published the Amazing Heroes Swimsuit issue beginning in 1987.

The Marvel line offered a theme for each issue. The first outing showcased the MCU during the Super Olympics held in the Savage Land. Subsequent issues placed characters in Wakanda for T’Challa’s engagement party. Issue two took place on Monster Island courtesy of Pip the Troll and the Infinity gems. Swimsuit Special three commemorated the Water Festival of the Inhumans on the Moon and the final installment was designed as a tourism boost for Madripoor.

The books were met with mixed reviews, but remembered. Enough so the title was rumored to be resurrected in 2015 only to be halted in the sketchbook phase. The Marvel Summer Special, aka Marvel Swimsuit Special, was actually solicited only to be cancelled in 2019. Marvel failed to offer a reason for yanking the project.

Whatever your feelings on the books, mainline some more Vitamin D before the days shorten much more.

Posted Monday, September 5th, 2022 by Barry

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954) 107

Whether you enjoy your job or not, today is Labor Day and for those who work for a living, we salute you.

Labor Day is celebrated the first Monday in September to honor the American labor movement. By the late 19th century, trade unions and labor movements were on the rise. Unionists championed a day to celebrate the working man. The Central Labor Union and Knights of Labor organized the first parade, which marched through the streets of New York in 1887. Oregon was the first state to make it a public holiday and the notion was celebrated in 30 states by the time it became a federal holiday.

In the past we’ve had Superman do his share of heavy lifting to keep the site going. Today we call upon the Man of Steel once more with his appearance in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954) issue 107.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen (1954) 107

The short and sweet of the story is Superman must perform menial jobs as commanded by an alien court for stopping an alien bounty hunter from killing the destroyer of his world until the killer is caught.

Or, something like that.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen was a bi-monthly begun in September-October 1954. The title ran until March of 1974, publishing a total of 163 issues.

All thanks to the popular Adventures of Superman television series that began airing in 1952.

Olsen was played by Jack Larson during the shows’ run. He was offered a solo series in 1959 after George Reeves was found dead. Old footage of Reeves and a stunt double would have been used for additional footage, but the show was to focus on Olsen and his career as a photo journalist. Larson refused to cash in on the dead and the idea never materialized.

The book spent much of its history knocking around the absurd with writers and artists offering imaginary tales featuring Olsen in improbable situations.

Some of those adventures involved Jimmy turning into a werewolf, a woman, morbidly obese, a human porcupine, a gorilla, radioactive, etc.

Jack Kirby changed all that when he took over in 1970 with issue 133. His universe expanded the consciousness of Superman’s buddy and the world around him. Literal New Gods were introduced and old memories brought back like the Newsboy Legion and the Guardian.

So, enjoy the day with a little rest – if possible – and, check out Scott’s take on the title at Nerdsync.