Posted Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 by Barry

Season’s Greetings From DC Comics

DC Comics gave the paying public a shot of Christmas in 1978 with this quartet of comic books.

        Kicking off the season was Green Lantern/Green Arrow (1960) issue 113 which hit the stands November 30.

        Lantern, Arrow and Black Canary survive a Christmas eve complete with kidnapping and volcano in That They May Fear No More.

        A group of musicians find themselves prey to Granny Bleach and followers. They feel pregnant Marcy who is with musicians will birth the chosen one who will keep the suddenly active volcano dormant.

Season’s Greetings

        Lantern is able to divert the lava flow and save the town.

        Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas from Batman (1940) 309 was covered back in December 2018. Slip back there for a rehash of events between the Dark Knight and Blockbuster. It was on the spin racks December 14.

        Ross Andru’s non-descript cover belies the festive Happy New Year…Rest in Peace! behind Bizarro’s toothy grin in Superman (1938) 333. It was released December 28.

        The Brave and the Bold (1955) 148 is another book covered in 2018. The Night the Mob Stole Xmas! was originally reviewed in January of that year though released December 28 of 1978.

        While none of the above-mentioned books made the highlight reel for 1978, DC made an effort.

        What did make the nightly news included the Great Blizzard of 1978 hitting the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes January 25-27 killing 70.

        By February 5 through the 7, the blizzard had worked its way to the New England states. An estimated 100 people died and $520 million in damage resulted.

        As winter started to come to a close, other matters took the spotlight as the year progressed. In March, Charlie Chaplin’s remains were stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.

        Dallas became known for more than assassinations and football with the debut of the series of the same name April 2. It would give birth to the modern-day primetime soap.

        In May Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds hit his 3,000 MLB hit.

        The first test tube baby was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester UK in July.

        Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope in August.

        September and Camp David hosted the Camp David Accords with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat.

        President Jimmy Carter authorized the Susan B. Anthony dollar in October.

        In December, serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested. He would later be found guilty for the deaths of 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978.

        All in all, a busy year capped off with some DC goodness for the holidays.

Posted Sunday, December 4th, 2022 by Barry

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, God doesn’t play dice.

But, we do.

For at least the past 5,000 years.

Welcome to National Dice Day.

The history of today is even more mysterious than the tools themselves. While no one really knows where the thought for today’s celebration came from, we have found a backgammon-like game excavated at the Burnt City in present-day Iron that dates back to 5000 BC. Evidence has been found in the Indus Valley, Egypt, Rome and China of dice games.

Roman soldiers rolling die for a crucified Christ’s robes is told about in the New Testament.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1 direct sales

Dice were originally made from talus of hoof material of animals. Later, they would be made of ivory, wood, plastic and other materials. Modern dice are more commonly manufactured from plastic or synthetic resin.

Which, leads us to today’s symbolic four-color representation of the non-holiday: TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comic book issue one and subsequent issues.

The comic book’s premise began in 1974 when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson introduced the polyhedral dice driven drama of imagination.

Each player developed a character that evolves over a series of games. Games are chaired by the Dungeon Master or plays god to the events and lives of those participating.

The outcomes of certain actions are determined by a literal role of the dice. Different polyhedral dice are used for different actions.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1 newstand

The game continually increases in popularity with 2018 noted as the biggest sales year to date; an increase of over 52 percent of the previous year’s sales.

D&D first appeared in comic book as published by Planeta DeAgostini from 1985 to 1986. The book was an adaptation of the Spanish-language D&D animated television series.

Game publisher TSR solely published the first comic book featuring the Dragonlance setting in 1987 in graphic novel format. TSR partnered with DC Comics for the second and third issues.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons began its 36-issue run in 1988 featuring the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

DC Comics continued publishing adventures through 1991 with other titles like Dragonlance, 34 issues; Forgotten Realms, 25 issues; Spelljammer, 15 issues; and Avatar: War of the Gods, three issues.

Marvel Comics released a one-shot based on the Dragon Strike board game in 1991.

TSR and Baldur’s Gate closed out the old millennium with limited series.

Several publishers kept the D&D name on the spin racks through the early part of the 2000’s, but IDW has held the license since 2010 and continues to issue titles today.

So, roll the dice or don’t; today is day to celebration a cog in the evolution of fun and imagination. Chutes or Ladders, Monopoly, Clue or D&D, the choice is yours.

Posted Thursday, December 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Santa’s Little Helpers is the third and final installment of Tex Avery’s Droopy holiday series.

Droopy and Spike tie for Elf of the Year. With the honor comes shotgun on Santa’s sleigh Christmas Eve. Due to FAA regulations, only one may ride along. To determine his plus one, Santa devises a contest in which the best elf for the remainder of the time will be allowed the ride.

Spike’s nefarious plans to prove Droopy incompetent are his undoing. Sabotaging the toys only seems to bring down the antagonist until a package delivers an unexpected – and unwanted – surprise to Santa.

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Screwball Squirrel headlines in Giga-Bitten.

Starring in the second feature, Squirrel and co-star Meathead prove themselves computer frauds.

Another of Avery’s creations, Screwy was a magician of sorts. The anthropomorphic squirrel was able to pull objects out of thin air. The Sciuridae family member was guilty of breaking the fourth wall long before it became fashionable.

However, his career was short lived, appearing in only five shorts: Screwball Squirrel in 1944; Happy-Go-Nutty, 1944; Big Heel-Watha (1944), The Screwy Truant, 1945; and Lonesome Lenny, 1946.

Hanna-Barbera brought the rodent back in 1993 on Droopy, Master Detective airing on Fox Kids.

For April Fool’s Day 1997, Cartoon Network aired Happy-Go-Nutty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Screwy would remain retired until 2013 when he guested on Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure. In 2019, he returned on Tom and Jerry’s Show in the Double Dog Trouble episode.

He continued to be in the public eye as shorts showcasing Screwy were featured on Warner Bros home releases The Thin Man Goes Home, Dragon Seed, The Clock (1945), Undercurrent and Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume 2.

Screwy was also a fixture of the comic book medium. He would appear in Our Gang Comics, Tom & Jerry’s Winter Carnival issues one and two, Tom and Jerry’s Winter Fun issues three, six, seven and eight; Tom & Jerry’s Summer Fun issue one, Tom and Jerry 213, 231 and 232; Golden Comics Digest issues three, five, eight, 18, 22, 28 and 41 for Gold Key Comics; Tex Avery’s Wolf and Red, Tex Avery’s Screwball Squirrel and various issues of Droopy.

Posted Monday, November 28th, 2022 by Barry

Detective Comics 225 (1937) 225

Today commemorates a planet first explored by a mariner.

Mariner 4 recorded the first photographs of the surface of Mars in a flyby. National Red Planet Day celebrates the launch of that probe which took place Nov. 28, 1964.

Visible to the human eye, Mars has been the planet of legend. The Babylonian’s began recording celestial events some time around 400 BC. Before it was Mars, they referred to the fourth planet from the sun as Nergal, their King of Conflicts due to the planet’s red coloration. The Greeks and Romans made the same deduction referring to the red planet as Ares and Mars, gods of war, respectively.

Detective Comics 225 (1937) 225

As the possibility of space travel became more of a reality, Mars appeared the logical choice as the first planet to visit. In turn, we wondered if we would be visited by inhabitants from Mars.

In the DCU, that visitor came in the form of the Martian Manhunter, or J’onn J’onzz aka John Jones. His first appearance was Detective Comics (1937) 225 in the back up story The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel in 1955.

Dr. Saul Erdel inadvertently transported J’onzz to Earth. As a result of their meeting, Erdel is struck blind and the Martian is stranded.

Eventually J’onzz adopts Earth as his new home world, develops an alter ego and becomes a super hero using his new found powers. He is accepted in the caped community and joins the Justice League of America. Over the years, J’onzz became the cornerstone of the organization.

As the Post-Crisis era became the Post Zero Hour period, J’onzz was given his own solo series. It lasted 38 issues.

His origin, powers and story would continue to evolve through each following Crisis and company reboot.

A live-action incarnation, played by David Ogden Stiers, became a bootleg VHS curiosity when the Justice League of America television pilot was filed away before it could air. Another version appeared on the Smallville show. Lately he has guested in the Arrowverse as portrayed by David Harewood.

In our U, the only green men from Mars have all been imagined, though we have discovered its soil does have water to extract and fictional stories take root in real locations.

Posted Saturday, November 26th, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man Drakes Cakes Mini Comics Series 1 (1993)

So many holidays, so much food.

Coming on the heels of Thanksgiving and just in time for the confectionary crush of Christmas time is National Cake Day.

Cake originates from the Viking kake. While the word has remained relatively the same, the end result has differed. Originally, cake was a flat bread with a regular shape flipped to ensure both sides were baked evenly.

The first ever birthday cake dates back before 1785. The term referred to a cake gifted for a birthday.

It wasn’t until the 19th century cake became what we know it as today. Cakes could then be baked with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast. Buttercream frostings began replacing boiled icings with fruit toppings.

A history of National Cake Day is not as easy to find. All we know is its as good a (non) holiday as any. Better than others in that National Cake Day allows celebrants an excuse to enjoy a sweet pleasure they may have avoided that day.

Our comic book representation for the day is the four-issue mini offered by Drakes Cakes in 1993 starring a line up Marvels’ finest – and most popular at the time.

Drake’s Cakes are named after founder Newman E. Drake who started the company in 1896 in New York.

The National Biscuit Company, better known now as Nobisco, bought out the Drake bakery and referred to the bakery as the N.E. Drake Baking Co. The Drake’s Famous Loaf Cakes continued to sell under the brand name until 1902. The Drake Baking Company was dissolved in 1903.

Drake reestablished his business as the Drake Brothers Company in 1903 and had expanded to a five-story bakery in 1913.

The company remained a family business until 1998 when Interstate Bakeries Corporation purchased the brand. Drakes became part of a Bakeries line that included Hostess.

Hostess Brands Inc., formerly Interstate Bakeries, filed for bankruptcy in 2012. In April of 2013, McKee Foods purchased the Drake’s brand for $27.5 million, reintroducing the company’s top selling items the same year.

Amid the shuffling of ownership, Drake partnered with Marvel Comics to publish four mini-comic books (3”x5” and 16-pages long) featuring Spider-Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Jubilee and Wolverine. Together they faced off against the Rhino, Sabretooth, Juggernaut and Doctor Doom.

Titles included Spider-Man: Carnage on Campus, Wolverine: Danger on the Docks, Hulk: Mayhem at the Mount and Silver Surfer: Lunacy in Latveria.

Unlike many of the other promotional giveaways, these were free of product placement. Only the last page touted the remaining comic books in the series, courtesy of Drakes Snack Cakes! A one-page add for the product was featured on the back cover.

Posted Monday, November 21st, 2022 by Barry

Hanna-Barbera TV Stars (1978) 1

Sixty-nine years after the fact, the United Nations general assembly declared November 21 World Television Day.

Invented in 1927, television became the primary medium for influencing public opinion in the 1950s. In 2013, 79 percent of the world’s households owned a television set.

In between, 1996, the UN chose to recognize the driving force of television by giving the invention its own day. To commemorate, the UN held the first World Television Forum. Media figures discussed the growing significance of television in the rapidly changing world. The UN recognized the device could bring awareness of events on a global basis in real time.

To recognize the day, we’re offering the Hanna-Barbera TV Stars comic book.

Hanna-Barbera were the darlings of Saturday morning television. Anyone growing up in the late 1960s through the 1970s and the Golden Age of Saturday morning television knows the brand.

It’s only fitting they partner with the comic book publishing powerhouse, Marvel, to offer a four-color format of their programming empire.

Hanna-Barbera TV Stars (1978) 1

The first of four bi-monthly comic books is cover dated August 1978. Featured are Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and The Great Grape Ape.

Captain Caveman aired on ABC from 1977 through 1980. The animated mystery comedy bore more than a passing resemblance to another H-B creation, Scooby-Doo.

The premise involved a prehistoric caveman found by the Teen Angels, Brenda, Dee-Dee and Taffy. Together they traveled solving mysteries.

The Great Grape Ape debuted in 1975 as part of H-B’s ABC line up. Grape Ape was a 40-foot, purple gorilla who repeated his name over and over. Partnered with his furry friend, Beegle Beagle, the two inadvertently caused trouble, they had to fix before the animated short’s end.

In this first issue one, neither character deviates from their modus operandi.

Captain Caveman and his trio of Charlie’s Angels knock offs solve the case of the missing ships in The Shipping Magnet.

The Great Grape Ape and Beagly appear in The Big Meal Deal. The pair partner to raise $5 for an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Subsequent issues featured, The C.B. Bears, Undercover Elephant, the Herculoids, Dynomutt, Space Ghost, Clue Club and Top Cat.

To celebrate today, track down these blasts from the past or share a favorite television moment, hum your favorite show’s theme or binge on that show that takes you back.

Posted Friday, November 18th, 2022 by Barry

Strange Tales (1951) 159

Scorpio is the zodiac sign for people born between October 23 and November 22.

Scorpio is also the fictional Jacob “Jake” Fury, younger brother to the equally fictional Nicholas Joseph “Nick” Fury.

But, today is real enough. Today is Married to a Scorpio Support Day.

Strange Tales (1951) 159

Participants may celebrate by sharing stories, guidance and support to those married to Scorpios. Based on the astrological designation, Scorpios can have intense traits, be manipulative, experience intense mood swings and be impulsive.

Today astrology has its supporters and dissenters. Prior to the rise of science and technology, the art of divining by the stars was taken far more seriously. Astrology began in the third millennium B.C. in Western Europe. By the 13th century, astrology was a part of medical treatment. By the 1500s in Europe, physicians were legally mandated to determine the moon’s position before performing some medical procedures.

As science came to the forefront by the 17th century, astronomy began to lose popularity. It would not regain popularity again until the 20th century as newspapers began supplying horoscopes and zodiac signs.

The Scorpio of our choice wouldn’t appear until August, 1967, when comic book maverick Jim Steranko debuted the character in Strange Tales (1951) 159. In the Scorpio story line, a younger sibling rebelled against his brother becoming a terrorist and spy.

Adopting the Scorpio persona, Jake fought his famous brother eventually infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick returned the favor imitating his brother in the Scorpio guise.

Jake would later commit suicide.

However, as with comic book characters, it was later learned Jake’s suicide was a ruse.

Others would take on the Scorpio mantel including Nick’s illegitimate son, Mikel Fury. Keeping it in the family, Jacob’s grandson Vernon Fury would become another version of Scorpio.

As for the day itself, those participating in supporting Scorpio’s spouses should remember the zodiac symbol in question enjoys alone time as well as feeling they have a safety net in others.

Other signs compatible with Scorpios include Cancer, Pisces, Taurus and Capricorn.

Posted Monday, November 14th, 2022 by Barry

Four Color Comics (1938) 1067

Welcome to National American Teddy Bear Day.

Apparently, there is a difference between National Teddy Bear Day and National America Teddy Bear Day.

Last year we celebrated National Teddy Bear Day on September 9. National American Teddy Bear Day is observed on November 14 on an annual basis.

Whatever the difference, we’re celebrating that furry bundle of security many of us snuggled with in our beds.

National American Teddy Bear Day doesn’t appear to have an author, nor an origin. The toy it commemorates does.

Four Color Comics (1938) 1067

Using a caricature of a bear drawn of President Theodore Roosevelt and a bear cub he refused to shoot, Morris Michtom created the first Teddy bear. It’s called a Teddy bear in honor of the president.

In 1907 composer John Walter Bratton wrote an instrumental piece entitled The Teddy Bears on Parade. Lyrics were added in 1932 by Jimmy Kennedy.

They have continued to thrive throughout the ages in such representations as Teddy Ruxpin, super Ted and Winnie the Pooh.

Our host for the day is the cuddly Yogi Bear who made his debut in 1958 as a supporting character on The Huckleberry Hound Show. He proved popular enough to earn his own animated show in 1961, The Yogi Bear Show, sponsored by Kellogg’s. Hokey Wolf replaced Hanna-Barbera’s rising star on Huckleberry Hound’s show.

Co-stars on Yogi’s show included Snagglepuss and Yankee Doodle.

Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!, an animated musical comedy, was given a theatrical release in 1964.

Daws Butler voiced the picnic basket stealing bear from his inception through 1986. Butler died in 1988. Jeff Bergman and Billy West tag teamed as the sound of Yogi into the new millennium. Since then, Yogi has been given life through the vocal cords of Keith Scott, Dan Aykroyd, Lewis MacLeod, Dan Milano, Seth Green and Scott Innes.

Yogi really made it big in 1983 when his inflated likeness was added to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As discerning readers, we’re more concerned Yogi appeared on the printed page a mere year after his small screen debut.

Dell Comics Four Color anthology series ran from 1938 to 1968 featuring a turnstile of recurring, licensed characters. Yogi graced the pages beginning in 1959 in issue 990.

Issue 990 featured Huckleberry Hound, but was based on his show, so it co-starred Yogi. The upcoming bear would also appear in issue 1054 as part of the Huckleberry Hound Winter Fun issue.

Yogi earned his own series with issue 1067, but would continue to make guest appearances in Four Color with issues 1104, Yogi Bear; 1162, Yogi Goes to College, 1162, Yogi Joins the Marines. These, along with issue 1067 are considered the first three issues of Yogi’s spin off book.

His appearances in issues 1271, Yogi Bear Birthday Party; 1310, Yogi and Huck Winter Sports and 1349, Yogi Bears Visits the U.N. are separate and part of the Four Color one shots.

Yogi’s solo series lasted six issues.

Gold Key Comics resumed publishing Yogi’s adventures in 1962, continuing Dell’s numbering and ending with issue 33 in 1970.

Charlton Comics published 35 issues between 1970 and 1977. Marvel Comics released nine issues in 1977.

Yogi’s publishing franchise lay dormant until Harvey Comics leased the license in 1992. They published 10 issues over the next two years.

Archie Comics used Yogi as part its anthology Hanna-Barbera All-Stars and Hanna-Barbera Presents comic book series.

The journeyman bear finally landed at DC Comics where he appeared in Cartoon Network Presents, Scooby-Doo! Team Up issue 35 and the Deathstroke/Yogi Bear Special.

No matter how you celebrate or who you snuggle with, enjoy the day and remember not to poke the bear.

Posted Monday, November 7th, 2022 by Barry

Harley Quinn/Gossamer (2018)

As the first Monday of November, today is Color the World Orange Day.

 

Harley Quinn/Gossamer (2018)

Today is a day set aside to educate the populace on an illness still poorly misunderstood. Today is a day to better understand Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also classified as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a rare ailment that targets society’s middle-aged members.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a neurological discomfort that includes heightened nerve impulses in a specific body site. Medical specialists speculate the condition is a result of a dysfunction in the central nervous system. An injury to the leg or hand can also bring on the syndrome. A triggering of the immune response can cause injury-related CRPS, which may lead to symptoms such as redness and swelling in the affected area.

The first known situation was documented in 1812 by a British surgeon who published a case report of a soldier wounded by a bullet in his upper arm.

Commemorating the day is Warner Bros. Looney Tunes’ hulking orange monster: Gossamer.

Gossamer debuted in the 1946 animated short, Hair-Raising Hare. Created by Chuck Jones, the legendary Mel Blanc voiced the mainly silent, shaggy monster.

He returned in 1952’s Water, Water Every Hare, reprising his henchman role. Gossamer had along layoff not appearing until 1980 in Duck Dodger’s and the Return of the 24½ Century. It also marked the introduction of his name.

Gossamer would next appear in 1996’s feature film Space Jam.

Harley Quinn/Gossamer (2018)

In A Hairy Predicament! Gossamer is found washed up on the beach following Hurricane Randy. Harley’s fondness for all things fuzzy moves Gossamer in with her menagerie of misfits.

An attack by an oversized robot leads Harley to believe the Joker has made another attempt on her wellbeing. Visits to the Scarecrow, Penguin and Mr. Freeze finally lead her to the Joker’s lair where the Prince of Pranks has Batman in another death trap.

A second attack by a mammoth mechanical manbot frees the Caped Crusader, disposes of the Joker and leads Harley and Gossamer to the real threat: his creator, the mad scientist introduced in Hair-Raising Hair and returned to reprise his role in Water, Water Every Hare.

 

Harley Quinn/Gossamer (2018)

A shared meal and ride home bring the story to a close with a very special guest star.

Writer Sholly Fisch seals the book with a flourish to the animated shorts from the Golden Age of both comic books and Looney Tunes in Monster Crush.

With a nod to the lighthearted mascot of the day, the more important aspect is CPRS has no cure. Correct medication and counseling help, but with some patients’ symptoms can last for years and even worsen.

To commemorate the day, wear orange, learn more about the ailment and donate for continued research.

Posted Friday, November 4th, 2022 by Barry

Destroyer Duck (1982) 1

The cover is misleading, but today really is National Waiting for the Barbarians Day.

Waiting for the Barbarians Day doesn’t seem to have much going for it beyond the mystery of how it originated and exactly what it is. The non-holiday appears to have been given its own day, Nov. 4, of each year. It’s a book and a movie, though the day doesn’t seem to share any common interest beyond its name.

It only holds interest here so we can unleash Groo the Wanderer as an emcee.

Destroyer Duck (1982) 1

Our man of the hour is (very) loosely based on the sword and sorcery heroes of the pulps and second-feature drive-in runs. Groo may have been dropped – several times – at birth. His stupidity is matched only by his naivety.

And, blood lust.

He is a sword-for-hire earning money to keep him in cheese dip.

Groo originated in the Eclipse Comics anthology book Destroyer Duck. His father is Sergio Aragones, one of the original Mad (Magazine) Men. Aragones plotted and drew the adventures of the loin-clothed barbarian, but the dialog was written by Mark Evanier.

The character’s first solo book was published by Pacific Comics beginning in 1982. Due to the company’s money problems, only eight issues were released. A one-shot of additional material was released by Eclipse after Pacific folded.

Groo immigrated to Marvel Comics Epic line of comic books. Aaragones was able to negotiate a contract allowing him to retain the rights to the title. Groo would wander for 120 issues until finding a home at Image Comics in 1994.

He would then transfer to Dark Horse Comics in 1998. Rather than begin an ongoing series, Groo was released in mini-series and collections.

So, go celebrate Waiting for the Barbarians Day with that special someone. If you find out just what the day is, let us know.