Archive for the ‘Unofficial Holidays & Observances’ Category

Posted Saturday, January 25th, 2020 by Barry

Superboy (1949) 68

Superboy (1949) 68

Superboy (1949) 68

Today is National Opposite Day. Acting as the unofficial spokesperson is Bizarro Superman.

Otto Binder is credited with creating the cracked copy of Superman. Binder’s Bizarro was actually a broken copy of Superboy, appearing in the same titled book, issue 68.

Alvin Schwartz offered an adult version in the syndicated Superman newspaper strip shortly after. Schwartz claimed he had first visualized the backward nemesis. What is undisputed is the newspaperman provided the blueprint for Bizarro’s actions and speech patterns.

Binder brought Bizarro back the four-colored world of comic books in Action Comics 254. He proved a fan favorite and, according to Wikipedia, appeared 40 times between the Silver and Bronze ages, ending with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Bizarro was reincarnated for the Modern Age surviving the original and subsequent Crisis.

So, don’t enjoy this, National Opposite Day. And, please don’t return.

Posted Tuesday, January 21st, 2020 by Barry

Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (Winter 1991)

In case you were wondering, yes, there is a Squirrel Appreciation Day. That day is today. Acting as ambassador is Marvel’s own Squirrel Girl.

Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (Winter 1991)

Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (Winter 1991)

Doreen Allene Green was introduced to readers in Marvel Super-Heroes Vol. 2 (number eight) cover-dated Winter 1991. Testing her mettle, Doreen takes on Iron Man. The tussle is interrupted by Doc Doom, whom Squirrel Girl defeats, and the story ends with she and Shell Head going their separate ways.

From there Squirrel Girl made cameos throughout the Marvel Universe, partnering in quasi versions of the Avengers, before earning her own mini in 2014. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl ran for eight issues before becoming an ongoing series beginning in October of 2015.

In 2016 Squirrel Girl received her own graphic novel.

Squirrel Girl was created by Will Murray and Steve Ditko. She has shared the spotlight with a variety of sidekicks, most notably squirrels Monkey Joe and Tippy-Toe.

The running joke earning Squirrel Girl her “unbeatable” title is her ability to defeat anyone she encounters.

Take time today to discover Doreen and her extended family as well as our furry compatriots we share our world with. Recommendations encourage feeding and ensuring their safety.

Posted Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 by Barry

Batman (1940) 49

It’s January and cold. All the more reason to wear a hat. Coincidently enough, today is National Hat Day. And, what better way to celebrate than to recount Batman’s nemesis Jervis Tetch’s first appearance as the Mad Hatter.

Batman (1940) 49

Batman (1940) 49

Shunned as a child due to his appearance, Tetch buried himself in books and learning. Eventually he became a neuroscientist and turned to evil, developing mind-control technology.

In his first adventure, Tetch attempted to steal a trophy from the Gotham Yacht Club. Batman proved more than capable in halting any Tom foolery from the chapeaued criminal and Tetch soon found himself a guest of Arkham Asylum for the remainder of the Golden Age.

The Mad Hatter wouldn’t return until the Silver Age, even appearing in the 1966 Batman television series as portrayed by David Wayne.

Other multi-media appearances include voice acting by Roddy McDowall on Batman the Animated Series and Peter MacNicol in the Batman Arkham games. He was later played by Benedict Samuel in the Gotham series on Fox.

Posted Thursday, January 9th, 2020 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 9

Believe it or not, today is National Static Electricity Day. Yeah, big whoop. Well, it kinda is. This gives us a chance to introduce a way under used Spider-Man foe:  Electro.

The high-voltage villain makes with the crimes early on in the story while our hero, Peter Parker, tends to his ever-ailing aunt. One of the kilowatt capers occurs in front of J. Jonah Jameson. He distorts the evidence and convicts Spider-Man in his newspaper.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 9

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 9

Readers learn Electro is Max Dillion, a former electrical engineer and lineman. In one of those freak comic book accidents, Dillion is zapped after saving a fellow worker. The strike causes his body to become charged with electricity. With his new-found powers, Dillion chooses the dark side and turns to villainy.

After recounting Electro’s origin, the story returns to Aunt May’s hospital bed where Peter learns she will live another day – and several decades – giving him renewed interest in Electro. Spidey humiliates JJJ by proving him wrong and even winds up with the girl at the end.

Electro returned several times to fight Spider-Man and other members of the Marvel Universe. For a time, he served as one fourth of the Frightful Four. He was also a founding member of the Sinister Six.

Jamie Foxx portrayed Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 released in 2014.

So, happy National Static Electricity Day and have a shocking good time.

 

Posted Sunday, January 5th, 2020 by Barry

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 46

As the nights continue to outlast the days adding to the hangover of the holidays, maybe a movie marathon or binge watching a series is in order. While the actors and directors receive the lion’s share of the credit, the screenwriters should not be shortchanged. To honor those wordsmiths, today was created as National Screenwriters Day.

Using a more static medium, Four Color Holidays will remember the writers with Marvel Two-in-One issue 46.

Ben Grimm, aka the Thing, proves his baby blues can turn as green as Kermit when it comes to his old nemesis the Hulk upstaging him. All this is courtesy of the Hulk’s new television series.

Hopping one of the many Fantasti-vehicles, Ben packs his bags and heads to Hollywood.

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 46

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 46

The Thing isn’t the only one tuned in to the show. Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s alter ego, is also watching. Dismayed at having his inner demon taken advantage of, Banner (literally) Hulks out and bounds to Hollywood himself.

The two titans meet, have their obligatory battle, resolve any issues and ring down the curtain on another adventure.

To celebrate this day of storytellers, visit nationalscreenwritersday.com. Observers may also post to #NationalScreenwritersDay on social media.

National Screenwriters Day was founded by ScreenwritingU.com, the leading education source for screenwriters worldwide. Its purpose is to recognize the talents behind the scripts coming out of the television and film world.

Posted Saturday, September 28th, 2019 by Barry

Hellblazer (1988) 42

Do you really need an excuse to have a beer? If so, today is your day. Today is National Drink Beer Day.

Not a Hallmark holiday by any stretch of the imagination, National Drink Beer Day, needless to say, is unofficial. Beer’s origins are murky as well. There is some proof beer was first crafted in what is now Iran in the fifth century B.C.

Later it spread throughout Europe by Roman soldiers and later still through its production in monasteries.

Hellblazer (1988) 42

Hellblazer (1988) 42

To celebrate National Drink Beer Day, Four Color Holidays presents Hellblazer 42. Spoiler: if you’ve never read the title, at least Garth Ennis’ run, stop reading this now. Drop your beer and get the hardcovers, trades or floppies. Then you can crack your cold one.

Ennis steered John Constantine through issues 41 to 83. All are good, but the first story arc is the best.

In it Constantine discovers he has lung cancer. He sets about seeking a cure through sorcery. In the second chapter of the tale he finds himself in Ireland sharing a very special drink with an old friend. I won’t spoil the rest.

Wikipedia describes Hellblazer as a “contemporary horror comic book series.” A simple answer that falls short of properly appreciating how Ennis handled his chronicling chores. The book has shown sparks of brilliance before and since, but never shone as brightly as it did during those brief years.

Cheers.

Posted Thursday, September 26th, 2019 by Barry

Classics Illustrated Junior (1953) 515

Today is Johnny Appleseed Day. Yes, it’s a legitimate holiday. One that commemorates the birth of John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed.

Chapman is credited with seeding parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania with apple trees. His day is normally celebrated on his birth date, but is also recognized as March 11, prime apple planting season.

Chapman/Appleseed planted orchards that he would revisit from time-to-time and care for. When the orchards were developed, he would sell them at a profit.

With no specific area that celebrates the holiday, this day is for those who either plant apple trees or enjoy apple or apple-based products in Chapman’s memory.

Classics Illustrated Junior was published by The Gilberton Miller Company from 1953 to 1962. The 77-issue run featured stories of legends, myths and fairy tales.

 

Posted Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 454

National Cheeseburger Day is certainly not one of the Federal or State holidays. It is perennially celebrated Sept. 18, offering an excuse to chow down on a greasy burger topped with cheese and favorite condiments.

Action Comics (1938) 454

Action Comics (1938) 454

German immigrants brought the hamburger to America. Hamburg steak was a popular dish among lower-class Germans. Later it was placed between two slices of bread becoming a sandwich. It was properly introduced to the American public at the 1904 World’s Fair and became the darling of the nation.

Cheese was added sometime later, possibly between the 1920s and 1930s to Americanize the sandwich. No one has legitimately laid claim to creating the cheeseburger, but the bacon cheeseburger can be credited to Dale Mulder in his A&W Restaurant in 1963.

While Action Comics issue 454 does not celebrate National Cheeseburger Day, the cover does commemorate the holiday well enough. Though a bit over represented, the scene does appear inside the book.

Superman’s fast food gobble is a bid to maintain his metabolism after Toyman finds a way to deprive the Action Ace of the power-giving sun light. The man of steel finally figures out a solution and “Superman’s Energy-Crisis” is wrapped up with enough room for the Atom to close out the book in “The Campus That Swallowed Itself.” The title is longer than the actual story.

Posted Sunday, September 15th, 2019 by Barry

Detective Comics (1937) 27

It’s hard for those outside the fold to understand the kinship we fans feel toward these two-dimensional, fictional creations.

But, it exists.

At times it’s almost tangible.

Especially for one who predates many of us. Who has survived – and thrived – after a congressional castigation, network neutering and public pandering. Who is an American institution.

This is why we have National Batman Day.

I can’t remember the first Batman story I read. There have been so many. So many adventures and years since that first one.

Detective Comics (1937) 27

Detective Comics (1937) 27

All I know is I was introduced to a character draped in the dark of night, eyes veiled behind white slits hiding windows to hell. That was the Batman Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams/Irv Novick were resurrecting in the early 1970s.

It was a good time to be a Batman fan. He was allowed to return to the shadows, but readers weren’t too removed from the day and twilight that came before.

Reruns of the 1966 psychedelic series were still airing in the afternoons. Adam West and Burt Ward were live-action heroes for half an hour.

Then the fad faded.

It was time to go back to Batman’s roots. As mentioned above, this about when I came into the picture.

The 1970s settled and the ‘80s dawned. A relative newcomer to the field not only redefined Batman, but knighted him in ebon. Frank Miller created two seminal works that examined both ends of the spectrum. The Dark Knight Returns came first. It looked at the end of days for the Caped Crusader.

Batman:  Year One stepped back to look at his beginnings.

As the decade ended so did Jason Todd’s career as Robin. Tim Burton took Batman to Hollywood.

The 1990s were not as adventurous. Instead the franchise was mined for the fanboys’ dollars. Gimmicky covers and story arcs designed to have readers buying multiple issues were the norm.

Where Batman shown again was on the small screen. Bruce Timm crafted a new look out of the old with a timeless backdrop in Batman the Animated Series. It would spin off The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond along with two feature films. The first was given a theater release in Mask of the Phantasm. The second was direct-to-video, Batman & Mr. Freeze:  Subzero.

The comic book industry rebounded from the 1990s speculators and continues to thrive both on and off the page.

The Batman legacy is strong as ever. His celluloid career continues and Detective Comics just celebrated its 1,000 issue. A fine compliment to the Caped Crusader’s 80th birthday.

Batman has evolved and revolved with the times. His image has been tweaked and tarnished at times, but overall it remains as timeless as his mission to avenge his parents’ deaths.

Posted Thursday, September 12th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

As if video gamers needed an excuse to play games all day, here is another. While not a legitimate holiday, National Video Game Day does make the list of odd observances.

National Video Game Day is recognized on Sept. 12. This is not to be confused with the previous Video Game Day celebrated July 8.

For those ready to play, we’ll observe today with Marvel Two-in-One issue 98 from April of 1983. For those old enough to remember, that year was a high-water mark for the video game industry. In 1981 video games consumed more money than concerts, theater tickets and record sales. And, it only kept growing over the next few years.

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

David Micheleinie commemorated the video game movement with “Vid Wars!” Ron Wilson penciled the project and Frank Giacoia inked the tale that co-stared Franklin Richards.

For those who may not remember, Marvel Two-in-One was a vanity vehicle for Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing.  Aunt Petuna’s favorite nephew would team with a fellow Marvel U resident each month. At least for 100 issues and seven annuals.

In this team up Ben is tired of his nephew thumping him in the arcades. As luck – and Michelinie – would have it Dr. Niles Given is seeking an audience with Reed Richards at the Baxter Building when the two return home. The good doctor has created a video game and he wants the endorsement of Dr. Richards. The story takes a darker turn when all involved are transported into a real game of life and death.

Much like Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-in-One was ended to allow the Thing a solo series. It only lasted 36 issues while Spider-Man’s off-shoot following his team up book, Web of Spider-Man, proved much more popular lasting to issue 129.