Archive for the ‘Unofficial Holidays & Observances’ Category

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.

Posted Saturday, September 7th, 2019 by Barry

Doom Patrol (1987) 45

Grant Morrison hit most of the comic book industry’s sensitive spots during his run as Doom Patrol scribe. Each issue of his tenure, issues 19 through 64, was a satirical statement.

“The Beard Hunter” is a tale Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani could never have envisioned when they first created “The World’s Strangest Heroes.” The story does meet the criteria for observing today’s National Beard Lover’s Day.

Doom Patrol (1987) 45

Doom Patrol (1987) 45

Doom Patrol (1987) 45 isn’t exactly a love letter to those with facial hair, but more of a statement against the facially follically challenged. “The Beard Hunter” treads a dark trail of comedic fare. As with the series itself, this issue is a fresh, kaleidoscopic look at a team no one knew what to do with.

When Doom Patrol first appeared in the pages of My Greatest Adventure issue 80, the characters were an off-beat bunch often likened to Marvel Comics’ The X-Men.

The team was revised and revived in post-crisis DC by Paul Kupperberg and Steve Lightle. Morrison was part of the late 1980s British Invasion that revamped the comic book market.

Doom Patrol limped through several incarnations over the years after Morrison’s departure. Most recently they were featured in a live-action series on DC Universe’s streaming service.

Posted Saturday, August 17th, 2019 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 194

Believe it or not, there is a National Black Cat Appreciation Day. And, that day is today.

What better comic book to represent our ebon feline friend than Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 194, the first appearance of Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat.

The beauteous Black Cat originated from a textbook-Freud/Jung Father Complex. Felicia’s father was a notorious cat burglar. To earn his love and respect, she emulated her father and later tried to break him out of prison.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 194

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 194

Her original appearance ended in the second issue of a two-part story arc as she fell, seemingly, to her death.
Felicia would return a year later in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 204 for another two-part story line. This time her affections would be focused on Spider-Man.

Eventually a romance did bloom. Felicia repented of her criminal ways and became Spider-Man’s lover. I say Spider-Man, because the thought of Peter Parker and his mundane life outside the costume repulsed her.

She would go on to secure “powers” from the Kingpin allowing her to induce black cat hoodoo against anyone wishing to do her harm.

Eventually Spider-Man and Black Cat would go their separate ways.

Felicia has had a healthy career in the Marvel Universe as a sexy siren. In addition to appearing in various Marvel mags throughout the years, Felicia has starred and co-starred in mini-series sporting her name and image.

To properly observe the day, National Day Calendar suggests consideration of adopting a black cat.

Four Color Holidays suggests you curl up with several favorite issues featuring the felonious feline with your favorite real life feline.

Posted Thursday, August 8th, 2019 by Barry

Sandman (1989) 18

Today is International Cat Day, or World Cat Day if you prefer. Not to be confused with National Black Cat Day and National Cat Day observed Oct. 27 and Oct. 29 respectively.

It is a day to celebrate our feline friend. The sneaky and snarky pet that pads through our lives – usually after dark – and enriches all it touches.

Sandman (1989) 18

Sandman (1989) 18

Neil Gaiman represented the notion of the superior Felis silvestris in issue 18 of Sandman. A tale of lost majesty; our furry friends suffer in silence.

Having just finished “The Doll’s House” story arc, Gaiman used issues 17 through 20 as a resting point for himself and readers. The author followed “Doll’s House” with the seven-chapter “Season of Mist” tale.

“A Dream of a Thousand Cats” proved a whimsical prior to another novella. Cats are told a story of how they became subservient to man. It is the belief if 1,000 cats can dream their lives as they existed prior to their downfall, all would return to normal.

Though having enthralled her listeners, the cats disband knowing it will never happen. As stated, getting 1,000 cats to do what they are told is impossible.

International Cat Day was first observed in 2002. It is to celebrate the kinship between feline and human. Additionally it is to promote the safety and well-being of cats.

To observe International Cat Day, celebrants are encouraged to volunteer at a local cat shelter, visit a cat café, donate to a cat charity or just enjoy their fuzzy friends. The holiday is celebrated every Aug. 8.

Posted Thursday, August 1st, 2019 by Barry

Amazing Fantasy (1962) 15

Based on today’s headline, any comic fan should be able to guess this is National Spider-Man Day.

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy issue 15. Other stories included were “The Bell Ringer!,” “Man in the Mummy Case!” and “There are Martians Among Us!”

Amazing Fantasy (1962) 15

Amazing Fantasy (1962) 15

When sales figures returned for what was the final issue of the title, Spider-Man proved a financial success. He returned in his own book, The Amazing Spider-Man in March of 1963. Lee and Ditko continued to chronicle his exploits to issue 38 when Ditko left. Lee remained scripter until issue 100.

Though the Fantastic Four were recruited to help bolster sales for the first issue, it quickly became apparent the guest stars were not needed. In little time Spider-Man became the flagship of the Marvel Universe.

By mid-decade Spider-Man was as recognizable and popular as Bob Dylan. In 1972 he received a second series, Marvel Team-Up. As the title may indicate, Spider-Man would join other heroes for one-and-dones or story arcs.

In 1976 a third book was devoted to the character, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. This one dealt more into the Web Head’s alter ego.

In 1985 Marvel Team-Up ceased publication. Web of Spider-Man replaced it, focused solely on Spider-Man.

Since then titles have popped up or ceased publication, but always sold well.

Spider-Man first appeared on television during Saturday mornings. Spider-Man ’67, as it’s become known, ran from 1967-70. Spidey shared television time with himself in the early 1980s when Spider-Man and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends ran concurrently. Fox Kids studios would option a series in the 1990s running five seasons and 65 episodes. Spider-Man Unlimited followed.

A CGI series aired following the Spider-Man movie. Not until 2008 would he return in animated form. This time in The Spectacular Spider-Man beginning March 8. Ultimate Spider-Man followed on Disney XD in 2012.

The character’s two lone forays into live action on television were the Electric Company shorts and syndicated The Amazing Spider-Man starring Nicholas Hammond.

A Japanese version aired in 1978.

Spider-Man broke into Hollywood with a feature film in 2002. That was followed by two more before the franchise was rebooted in 2012. Spider-Man Homecoming, released in 2017, was a second retooling of the character on the silver screen. Most recently was Spider-Man: Far From Home.

In addition to the small and big screen appearances, Spider-Man has been featured in pretty much every medium there is to offer. His comic books continue to sell and his likeness is one of the best recognized in the world.

Posted Saturday, July 20th, 2019 by Barry

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

In honor of National Moon Day, today, Four Color Holidays looks at Moon Knight.

Moon Knight first appeared in Werewolf by Night 32, August 1975. He returned in issue 33, then was granted a two-issue solo series in Marvel Spotlight issues 28 and 29. Ironically enough, Marvel Spotlight is where Werewolf by Night got his start.

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

After a two-year layoff, Moon Knight returned as a guest in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) issues 22 and 23. From there, Moon Knight bounced around appearing in Marvel Two-in-One issue 52. Later he would join the Defenders in issues 47-51.

His final outing before earning his own title came as back up stories in Hulk! (1978) issues 11-15, 17-18 and 20 and Marvel Preview (1975) 21.

Moon Knight received his own series in 1980 under the guidance of Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. It would last 38 issues and be followed by the Moon Knight – Fist of Khonshu six-issue mini-series in 1985.

The journeyman character would roam the Marvel U until 1989 when he received his second ongoing series, Marc Spector:  Moon Knight. This lasted through 60 issues ending in 1994.

Moon Knight would appear in one-shots and minis over the next 10 years. Not until 2006 would he receive another ongoing title. He would appear off-and-on throughout the remainder of the former decade and this in his own titles finally settling back with the Marvel Legacy numbering system reaching issue 200.

The Moon Knight character is as complicated as his publishing history. First introduced as a mercenary, he would embrace the label. Marc Spector became that personality. After his baptism by violence and moon light, Spector became a hero branching off into Steven Grant, the millionaire playboy who financed Moon Knight’s adventures and Jake Lockley, the cab driving everyman who earned the respect of the common people.

Those split personalities would manifest themselves over the years and become a point of contention with Moon Knight and those involved in his world.

To date, he is one of the few Marvel characters that has not been earmarked for a multi-media offshoot. His personality disorders and moon worship have often been cited as the cause.

National Moon Day is observed annually on June 20 to commemorate the first moon landing in 1969. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men to set foot on the moon.

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20. Richard Christmas rallied to continue the day when no official proclamation followed. Through a letter-writing campaign Christmas persevered and June 20 is recognized by most states in the union.