Posted Monday, August 16th, 2021 by Barry

Whiz Comics (1940) 2

If this cover looks familiar, it should. We’ve used it before for various non-holidays, but maybe none more important than the unofficial week we are commemorating:  Elvis Week.

Elvis pre-dated Captain Marvel by a few years; the King of Rock n’ Roll was born Jan. 8, 1935. Shazam was created in 1939 and first appeared in Whiz Comics issue two cover dated February 1940.

What do the two have in common?

Whiz Comics (1940) 2

Their blue-black hair. The mid-sized cape. Their popularity in pop culture.

Arguably Elvis Presley would outshine his superpowered hero in this day and age, but there was a time when the Big Red Cheese even out shown Superman.

So popular was Captain Marvel, even Elvis admired the two-dimensional C.C. Beck and Bill Parker creation.

An avid reader Shazam reader, Elvis would later take the hair color and recreate it for his own persona. The cape was another swipe.

Shazam’s popularity was originally such DC Comics filed suit against Fawcett Comics. The legal battle waged in the court system for over a decade. Fawcett finally ceased publication of all comic books in 1953 and paid DC $400,000 in damages.

Captain Marvel became Shazam in 1972 when DC Comics brought the character into their stable of heroes. Marvel Comics had already established another hero of the same name almost a decade earlier.

Never forgetting his childhood idol, Elvis chose to adopt the hair and cape styles as his star rose. For the hair he used Miss Clariol 51D, “Black Velvet.”

Nearly 10 years after his exile to Hollywood, the legendary performer began appearing live on stage in 1969. He would fulfill his movie contract and return to the stage full time, performing until his untimely death on Aug. 15, 1977.

This week has been set aside to allow fans to remember Elvis for his talent and Dixie-dipped baritone that still resonates in the annals of rock n’ roll.

Fans commemorate the week in Memphis with a reunion, dance party, 5K run, auctions, concerts, memorial services, tours of Graceland, a candlelight vigil and more.

The Elvis Presley Estate from Graceland Mansion in Memphis, TN, hosts Elvis Week annually.

Elvis released 72 albums under his RCA label including 18 movie soundtracks, four gospel LPs, three Christmas records, six live albums, six gold record compilations and 21 theme LPs.

Posted Friday, August 13th, 2021 by Barry

Whiz Comics (1940) 93

Finishing out National Hobo Week is Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, in Whiz Comics 93.

Protagonist Hunky returns to his life on the rails after fearing his wife and child are lost in a house fire. Captain Marvel sets out to find the missing husband after said wife and child are found safe and sound in the basement of the burnt house.

This is pure 1940s hayseed. Hunky is initially seen bolting from the burning house setting up the story by screaming his family has perished and he has nothing to live for.

In the meantime, as stated, both are found in the basement and saved by Captain Marvel. They, in turn, ask the Big Red Cheese to find the missing man of the house.

Seeking the aid of other hobos, he is first being rebuffed as an outsider. Captain Marvel returns dressed in tattered clothing and is accepted and set on the path to find Hunky the hobo. The man in question evades the hero for the bulk of the story, but eventually is found sleeping behind a road sign and given the good news.

Hobo-dom is not as romantic as many writings may make the lifestyle. A hobo is a traveling worker, not a tramp or bum who only work when needed or don’t work at all.

The term hobo was originally recognized in 1890. Various explanations are given for how hobo originated. Some believe it was derived by “hoe-boy” or farm hand. It may also have come from “Ho, boy,” as a greeting. It is also believed to have been a shortened form of “homeward bound.”

Life as a hobo was transient and violent at times. Some lost limbs while attempting to hop trains, while others lost their lives. Railroad security would roust hobos with any means necessary. There was the fear of being crushed between train cars, freezing to death and starvation.

National Hobo Week is highlighted by the town of Britt, Iowa, who host the perennial National Hobo Convention the second weekend of August.

Whiz Comics (1940) 93

Posted Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 by Barry

Superboy (1949) 27

Continuing with National Hobo Week is the Golden Age Superboy.

With a cover date of August, 1953, Superboy 27 romances the bindlestiff lifestyle. The third and final story of the issue, Clark Kent and adoptive parents have a verbal disagreement finalized with the youth running away from home in the appropriately titled Clark Kent, Runaway!

Also offered for your reading pleasure are The Pied Piper of Smallville and The Movie Star of Tomorrow.

The Pied Piper is a formulaic tale of a clarinetist who mesmerizes the youth of Smallville. Movie Star is a time travel tale whisking Superboy to the future to save Tinsletown.

Superboy did not appear until 1944, but Jerry Siegel pitched the idea of a super-powered prankster as early as 1938. Another attempt was made in 1940, but again fell on deaf ears.

Superboy debuted in More Fun Comics issue 101 in 1944. Joe Shuster was the artist, but Siegel was unable to provide scripting due to his stint in the Army during World War II.

Siegel filed suit against DC Comics and was awarded the initial decision. However, that was overturned and Siegel was forced to agree Superboy was the sole property of National (DC) Comics.

Not until 2006 did the District Court for the Central District of California issue a ruling that the Siegel heirs were rightful owners of the Superboy character and related indicia. Yet, Time Warner was granted continued ownership of the trademark meaning neither could benefit from the property solely.

National Hobo Week is celebrated the second week of August to coincide with the National Hobo Convention held the second weekend of the month in Britt, Iowa.

Hobos set up a camp, also known as a hobo jungle, for the convention and peddle their wares as well as offer entertainment.

The convention is the largest gathering of hobos in the national. A king and queen are even chosen.

Superboy (1949) 27

Posted Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 337

Welcome to National Hobo Week, Aug. 10-13.

While most of you – more than likely all – won’t be traveling to Britt, Iowa, for the National Hobo Convention, you can celebrate, commemorate, commiserate vicariously. Let’s start with the Man of Steel’s first foray into the vagrant life in Action Comics issue 337.

A nursery rhyme causes Superman to cosplay after performing various deeds. His first has him halting a crime while acting as a man of means. He follows the act by feigning poverty to petition the government for support of a slum project.

Next, he apprehends two thieves while dressed as an Indian chief. His fourth foray is as an attorney to stop a killer and, finally, as Clark Kent, fakes an operation as a doctor.

Prior to what will be his last act, Superman warns the FBI he plans to commit a robbery. The G-men procure some Kryptonite to thwart the attempt. Superman steals the Green K and explains the odd proceedings.

As a baby on Krypton, young Kal-El had been exposed to a comet while reciting the rhyme, “rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.” Somehow the comet caused a hypnotic effect causing Kal to act out the verse when exposed a second time.

Supergirl followed in her own story, The Green Sun Supergirl!

For those wishing to learn more about National Hobo Week, research famous hobos such as Leon Ray Livingston, T-Bone Slim or Alexander Supertramp.

More to follow as we take the week and recognize the heroes who have donned the patchwork suit, taken possessions in bindle and hiked across the United States.

Action Comics (1938) 337

Posted Saturday, August 7th, 2021 by Barry

More Fun Comics (1935) 73

National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually Aug. 7 to spotlight the beacon that has meant salvation to mariners for hundreds of years.

Defining safety, a lighthouse marks treacherous shoreline, providing safe passage to harbors. In addition to maritime use, they are aerial guidance markers.

They’re style may vary depending on region and purpose. The top of the lighthouse is known as the lantern room. America’s first lighthouse was built in St. Augustine, FL, in the 1600s. Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey is the oldest existing lighthouse in America.

More Fun Comics (1935) 73

While today’s host was birthed during the Golden Age of comic books in More Fun Comics issue 73, it was his Silver Age rebirth of sorts that cemented him as the son of a lighthouse keeper.

The Silver Age Aquaman debuted in Adventure Comics 260 in 1959. He is the son of human Tom Curry and Atlanna of Atlantis. He later became king of the undersea capitol.

A retcon had his father remarrying and siring a second son, Orm. The half-brother would become the Ocean Master and battle Aquaman for control of the seas.

Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Aquaman was given a four-issue mini in 1986 and a one-shot in 1988.

Not until 1994 under the tutelage of Peter David did Aquaman receive his most popular ongoing series. It ran a total of 75 issues ending in January 2001.

He would guest in the reformed JLA title, but not appear in a self-titled comic book until Dec. 2002. This sixth series would last 59 issues. He would receive his own title under the New 52 and Rebirth imprints that followed.

In addition to boning up the history of DC’s King of the Seven Seas, National Lighthouse Day celebrants may also watch Give A Day in the Life of Lighthouse Keeper and/or Behind The Lighthouse: Lighthouse Keepers documentaries, share lighthouse experiences or visit lighthouse museums.

National Lighthouse Day was established Aug. 7, 1879, but Congress did not designate it officially for another 200 years.

Posted Sunday, August 1st, 2021 by Barry

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (1972) 1

Welcome to August and National Black Business Month.

Founded in 2004 by John William Templeton, historian, and Frederick E. Jordan, Sr., engineer, the month has been set aside to honor black business owners. They make up about 10 percent of America’s businesses and about 30 percent of all minority-owned businesses.

In total, that is equal to about 2 million companies. About half of those are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance and personal and laundry services.

Breaking that mold is the spokesman for the month, Luke Cage.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (1972) 1

Also known as Power Man, Cage was the first black superhero to host his own title.

Marvel took advantage of the blaxploitation films of the time by creating a new fictional character.

His back story included a tarnished angel origin. Cage was – literally – caged for a crime he did not commit. He volunteered for an experimental procedure that resulted in superhuman strength and unbreakable skin.

Cage’s solo book would run 49 issues. With issue 50, he would team with Iron Fist. Together they fought crime for another 100 issues.

A solo act again, Cage became a man on the run for a second time after being framed for the murder of Iron Fist. The mystery is set straight when it is learned the Iron Fist that was “killed” was a doppelganger.

Once cleared of all charges, Cage set out to start a new life in Chicago. This time he forgoes the superhero trappings and worked as a plainclothes private eye.

Later he returned to his Heroes for Hire business before being absorbed into the Avengers when they reformed. He also became a father after a tryst with Jessica Jones.

His newly formed family didn’t stop him from continuing his hero activities. Cage became leader of the Thunderbolts only to rejoin the Avengers which then went through several incarnations.

He went full circle, re-teaming with Iron Fist under the “All-New, All-Different Marvel.”

In addition to his work in the print medium, Cage cameoed on television. An animated version first appeared on The Super Hero Squad Show. Later he would guest in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

A younger version would become a regular on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon as part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team complimenting the Wall Crawler.

In 2015 Cage joined the cast of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. The guest spot earned him his own series the following year.

To celebrate Black Business Moth, consumers are encouraged to support local businesses owned by African Americans and use social media as an outlet to promote their endeavors.

Posted Thursday, July 29th, 2021 by Barry

Garfield (2012) 1

While there is already a National Garfield Day, June 19, to celebrate the king of cats, there is another day we need to recognize him as the mascot of: National Lasagna Day.

The origins of the pasta’s day are murky, but it does exist. National Day Calendar has its own post. The site even offers ways to observe. The first being to bake a lasagna. The second, to visit a local Italian bistro for someone else’s recipe.

Oddly enough, the word lasagna originally referred to the pot in which the dish was prepared. As early as the 14th-century, recipe books began to carry preparation methods for the pasta dish. Arguably the most famous spokesperson (?) for lasagna is Garfield.

Hence, our look at the comic book history of the fat cat.

Garfield went worldwide in 1978. Riding his coattails were – and still are – owner Jon Arbuckle and sidekick, dog Odie.

Though rarely mentioned, Garfield resides in Muncie, IN.

It only makes sense considering creator Jim Davis’ first published work appeared in the Pendleton Times of Pendleton, IN. National distribution began in 1977 when United Feature Syndicate accepted Davis’ proposal. Garfield was launched with a Sunday strip June 25, 1978.

Garfield went from strip to screen to comic book with Boom! Studios publishing the monthly Garfield comic book beginning in 2012. Mark Evanier, cartoon advisor for Garfield and Friends and The Garfield Show, handled scribing chores.

So, wash your paws, cuddle in with your favorite furry feline and chow on some lasagna with a colorful issue in hand.

Posted Thursday, July 29th, 2021 by Barry

The X-Men (1963) 10

July 29 has been set aside to raise the awareness of the dwindling number of tigers, the biggest cats on Earth.

Today is International Tiger Day.

The X-Men (1963) 10

Over the past 100 years, the number of tigers has dwindled from over 1 million to fewer than 4,000 in their 13 indigenous countries. Those include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

These nomadic felines tend to roam. Their turf can be as large as 386-square miles. They are the largest of the cat species and the third largest meat eater, only behind polar and brown bears. An adult tiger can consume up to 88 pounds of meat in one meal.

Representing the classy cat is a predecessor, Zabu the saber-toothed tiger.

Zabu first appeared in The X-Men issue 10 with his partner, Ka-Zar, born Kevin Reginald.

His parents discovered the Savage Land, where prehistoric creatures still roam and home to Zabu. It also became their final resting place.

Ka-Zar was subsequently raised by Zabu; Ka-Zar literally translates to “son of the tiger” in Savage Land speak. The tiger possesses near-human intelligence due to radioactive mists that caused a mutation.

Later, Zabu would become a member of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers. The four-issue limited series was published from July to October 2009. It proved popular enough to go into a second printing. A sequel, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Unleashed hit comic book shops from May to August 2010.

A third series, Avengers vs. the Pet Avengers, began December 2010 and ran through March 2011.

Later they would guest in Power Pack, Thor and the Warriors Four and Guardians Team-Up issue five.

All have been collected in trade paperbacks.

The Pet Avengers are playable in Marvel Avengers Academy.

For more information on International Tiger Day, visit the Facebook page.

Posted Monday, July 26th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Fantasy (1961) 15

Yes, another holiday featuring Spidey or someone in the Spider Family.

 

Amazing Fantasy (1961) 15

This time its Ben and May Parker, uncle and aunt to nephew Peter Parker. Together they’ll represent the non-holiday National Aunt and Uncle’s Day.

This perennial day of recognition falls on July 26 of each year. Its origins are unknown. It does serve to honor parent’s siblings who sometimes prove to be huge parts of other’s lives.

In the case of Peter Parker, they became his surrogate parents after his biological ones died.

Uncle Ben’s death became the catalyst launching a newly (super) empowered Peter into his life of heroism. Aunt May would continue to support and nurture her charge as he grew into adulthood.

Ben began his fictional life in Brooklyn, NY, as did May. Both attended the same school, but did not become romantically involved until later in their lives. When Ben’s brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Mary, were killed in a plane crash, he and May adopted their nephew.

Peter would repay the debt by allowing a burglar to escape while he sought fame. That same criminal would murder Ben. Peter donned his Spider-Man costume and set out to bring the murderer to justice.

It was then he learned the man he allowed run past him earlier was the same man who killed his Uncle Ben.

Aunt May became his sole custodian and continued to care for her nephew.

Since the first telling of Spider-Man’s origin in 1962, little has been changed. Even his rebirth under the Ultimate Spider-Man imprint and later movies would remain true to the original telling.

The only notable change was in What If…? (1977) issue 19. It postulated a story where Aunt May had been killed rather than Uncle Ben.

While most aunts and uncles don’t play as pivotal a role in our lives, they still should be recognized. Take time to drop a text, actually call or visit.

Posted Saturday, July 24th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 252

National Cousins Day has a mysterious past, but is still marked in red on the National Day Calendar each July 24.

 

Action Comics (1938) 252

The day is designed to celebrate bonds formed between those sometimes closer than siblings. Or, to commemorate a kinship that can form when siblings are not there.

Such is the case with Kara Zor-El and Kal-El, better known as Supergirl and Superman.

Depending on which reboot you last read, Kal and Kara are the sole survivors of Krypton. Originally, she arrived on Earth in 1959. Kara was sent into the heavens in a rocket of her own following Kal’s departure. The explosion caused a malfunction in the guidance equipment and she meandered in space for a bit. When she arrived on Earth, she was already a teenager.

Supergirl later became a victim of Crisis on Infinite Earths. She would be re-introduced to the DCU in 2004 in issue eight of the Superman/Batman comic book. Jeph Loeb authored an ongoing series following her reintroduction a year later.

Supergirl appeared in a self-titled movie in 1984. Unlike her cousin, Kara was not well received at the box office.

She would be given a supporting role on the CW incarnation, Smallville, in season seven.

CBS launched the latest celluloid version in 2015. To date, it has been renewed for a sixth season.

Supergirl has appeared in several incarnations in the animated DCU as well. Her first was on Superman: The Animated Series where she was voiced by Nicholle Tom. Later, she would slide over to Justice League Unlimited. Her new origin would be retold in the direct-to-video feature-length Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

More recently, she has been a fixture on the pre-teen-oriented DC Super Hero Girls series.

So, set a little time aside and remember the sibling who wasn’t a sibling, but still there when you needed them.