Archive for March, 2021

Posted Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 by Barry

Strange Tales (1951) 110

For the health care professionals who make the tough decisions today is National Doctors Day.

The first National Doctors Day was held March 30, 1933, 30 years before Doctor Stephen Strange first graced the pages of Strange Tales 110.

Strange Tales 110

While the good doctor no longer performs his magic in the operating room, he still has his medical license therefore qualifying him as honorary chairman for the day.

Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His origins lie in the surgical field. Following a car crash that ruined the nerves in his hands, Strange sought solace in the high tops of the Himalayas and the tutelage of the Ancient One.

Overcoming his mortal short comings, Strange learned the mystic arts, becoming a master. The title also earned him the animosity of the evil ones. Strange now acts as guardian of good, battling those who would use magic for ill.

Doctor Strange remained a minor character throughout much of his career in the Marvel U. He finally broke into the mainstream in 2016 in his self-titled film.

That’s not to say Strange didn’t have other opportunities prior. In 1978, he had his own made-for-television movie starring Peter Hooten, complete with porn ‘stache.

Doctor Strange:  The Sorcerer Supreme was a direct-to-video animated film released in 2007. He also had a cameo on the feature-length animated movie World War Hulk in 2010 and appeared in the animated film Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell in 2016.

Following his 2016 movie, Strange appeared in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

As stated above, National Doctors Day began in March 30, 1933, marking the first ether anesthetic administered for surgery. It’s first observance was in Winder, GA. Greeting cards were mailed and flowers placed on the graves of deceased doctors.

Posted Friday, March 26th, 2021 by Barry

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Popeye the Sailor Man is our choice to host National Spinach Day.

The journeyman sailor first appeared as part of King Features Syndicates stable of characters in 1929. Ironically it would take another 19 years for Elzie Crisler Segar’s creation to reach the comic book field.

Beginning in 1932 Popeye would moonlight in the cinemas after Fleischer Studios licensed the character for animated shorts. Paramount Pictures would feature Popeye for the next 25 years.

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Not until 1948 would the mariner appear in comic books. Dell held the rights for the first 65 issues. Gold Key picked up the numbering where it left off at issue 66. King would publish next, printing issues 81 through 92.

For some reason issue 93 does not exist.

Charlton picked up printing chores beginning with issue 94 and continuing through 138. Gold Key/Whitman published the series for issues 139 through 171, though issues 160 and 161 are missing.

TV Comic, a British publishing company, published Popeye periodically beginning in 1960. Of the thousand-plus issues printed, Popeye appeared in 305 of them.

French Publisher SFPI began publishing the seafarer in 1964. The book lasted 234 issues.

Keeping his European presence known, Popeye was then licensed by Italian publisher Editoriale Metro beginning in 1975. The book went 549 issues.

Back in the states Popeye languished until 1988 when Ocean Comics published a special. A follow up was issued the same year.

Again, the sailor was drydocked until 2012. IDW printed a 12-issue mini-series then began reprinting the original 1940s and ‘50s comic books titled Classic Popeye.

Webcomics celebrated the aging seaman’s 90th.

While the origins of today’s spokesman are easy to determine, the beginnings of National Spinach Day are not. Just remember to celebrate with a fresh spinach salad, spinach pizza, spinach dip, cream spinach, spinach lasagna or just by adding the leafy green vegetable to whatever dish you may have on the menu.

Posted Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 by Barry

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Both non-holiday and master of ceremonies are lesser knowns today.

For National 3-Day cold-war era homage 3-D Man rides the big float.

Roy Thomas and Jim Craig reached a couple decades back for inspiration from Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The legendary duo had originally created Captain 3-D as a novelty character for the 1950s. Three-dimensional films were the rage, so, why not?

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Move past the Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam War and Watergate to the 1970s for a revival of the decade when almost everyone liked Ike, but loved Lucy. Thomas and Craig set their sites on a character whose strength, speed and durability were transformed three-fold.

3-D Man was the amalgamation of brothers Chuck and Hal Chandler. Test pilot Chuck found himself a captive of the Skrulls. Strange radiation allowed his image to be imprinted on his brother’s glasses after his return to Earth. For a time, Hal could manifest Chuck allowing the two brothers to form a third entity. Eventually the ability faltered and Chuck was relegated to limbo.

All of this either happened or was intimated in Marvel Premieres 35-37.

3-D Man reappeared for Incredible Hulk issues 251 and 252, Contest of Champions 1 and What If..? 9.

He returned to hibernation until Avengers Forever 4 and Avengers 50-58 and Secret Invasion: Skrulls one shot in 2008.

Every March, on the third day of the third week of the third month, National 3-D Day is celebrated. The holiday was founded last year by The Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema and Education.

Posted Saturday, March 20th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Peter Parker popped “the question” to Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man 182.

And, how Four Color Holidays celebrated National Proposal Day last year.

Her answer was a resounding, “no.”

A decade later he asked again. Amazing Spider-Man 290, entitled “The Big Question,” left little for the reader to guess when it first hit comic book shops. David Michelinie and John Romita, Jr., shuffled Spidey around New York and the book as he wrestled with his inner turmoil.

Readers probably knew before Peter what he would be doing by the last page.

The Preserver proved a disposable villain as he introduced the tone of the tome. His plans to stop renovations to Times Square were short lived and the restless titular character moved on.

A visit to Aunt May’s sets Peter down a path to a new life. Deciding to share his travels, the Wall Crawler’s alter ego chooses to ask MJ for her hand in marriage again.

This time with different results.

The marriage would culminate in Amazing Spider-Man annual 21.

National Proposal Day is observed on both the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, offering equal time to the sexes to ask the question. If a little shy, take the day to confirm your feelings. You can steel your nerves and ask in September when the second equinox rolls around.

The non-holiday was created by John Michael O’Louglin.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Posted Thursday, March 18th, 2021 by Barry

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) 8

Most comic book readers can tell you this issue marks the death of Flash. Many comic book historians will cite it as the end of the Bronze Age.

Today it represents National Supreme Sacrifice Day, “honoring those who have made tremendous sacrifices for the sake and good of others as well as those who sacrifice their lives every day for us.”

Not to make light of what the day represents, the death of Flash was a benchmark in comic books not felt since the death of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man issues 121 and 122) over a decade earlier.

Not only was the Flash a beloved character, but who ushered in the Silver Age of comic books with his first appearance in DC’s Showcase number four. He was also the architect of the multi-verse Marv Wolfman and George Perez were attempting to mend.

Barry Allen, aka the Flash, found he could traverse time and space utilizing his super speed. In Flash (1958) 123 he did just that teaming with the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick.

They repeated their meetings and soon others from the Golden Age were crossing over. The Justice League of America had an annual date with the Justice Society of America. They would visit once a year for a two- to three-issue story arc.

With 50 years of cross pollination, DC decided to clear the table. DC foreshadowed the event with mentions of the Monitor’s coming as early as 1983.

The maxi-series debuted April 1985, running 12 issues and ending March 1986.

By issue eight, the heroes, and villains, are on the ropes. Barry Allen, who had been held captive by the anti-monitor, escaped his prison and dashed the schemes of the Anti-Monitor by sacrificing himself to create a speed vortex disarming the anti-matter cannon then destroying Earth.

Allen would return to the DCU through some clever retconning, but his self-immolation can never be erased.

While looking to a fictional hero to be today’s mascot, the real-life heroes can’t be ignored. They are the faceless ones who are with us every day at home and abroad. Remember them not just for today, but each day.

Posted Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 by Barry

Zombies vs Cheerleaders: St. Patty’s Day Special (2015) 1

This one-shot capitalized on the indie-series Zombies vs. Cheerleaders three-issue mini released in 2013.  Zombies vs. Cheerleaders:  Halloween Special(s) would follow in 2014 and 2015.

Other one-shots and minis would pop up from time-to-time in following years.

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s date of death in skimpy skirts and ripped tops seemed a logical conclusion for Zenoscope Entertainment. Toss in shambling corpses in search of flesh and the homage is complete.

Saint Patrick is the primary patron saint of Ireland followed by the lesser known Brigit of Kildare and Columbia.

Patrick originally hailed from Roman Britain. As a teen he was captured by a band of Irish pirates and spirited to the Emerald Isle. He escaped after six years of captivity, returned to England and entered the Priesthood.

A vision led him back to Ireland and he became a Bishop. There, legend has it, he banished the snakes from the island. Another story tells of his walking stick becoming a living tree.

To commemorate his death, March 17 has been set aside bearing his name. Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. Historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day.

Traditionally, the day is associated with green and shamrocks. The Apostle of Ireland was said to have likened the three-leafed petal to the Holy Trinity.

There’s nothing holy about Zombies vs. Cheerleaders:  St. Patty’s Day Special. Celebrations and libations take a turn for the worse when the green beer is spiced. It’s fortunate for pub patrons, zombie-dueling cheerleaders are prepared to save the day.

Complete with four covers.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Posted Friday, March 12th, 2021 by Barry

Flash (1959) 245

March 12 again and it’s time to start thinking about spring. It’s also National Plant a Flower Day.

Last year Poison Ivy was our green mascot. This year it’s a lesser known villain, the Floronic Man.

His first appearance as the self-titled Floronic Man was in Flash 245, but his alter ego, Jason Woodrue, debuted in the first issue of The Atom (1962).

Woodrue hails from an interdimensional world known as Flora. His fellow dryads exiled him to Earth where he has made numerous attempts to conquer his adopted world by exploiting and manipulating plants.

Flash (1959) 245

Flash (1959) 245

It wasn’t until Flash 245 that Woodrue became the plant/human hybrid courtesy of a new formula. The cocktail turned him more plantlike than man with hair of leaves and skin of bark.

He was later retconned as a professor of botany in Neil Gaiman’s 1988 Black Orchid mini. After, he knocked around the DCU pining after Poison Ivy. From her DNA he “conceived” a child.

Woodrue continued to blossom from time-to-time during DC’s various crises until he became Seeder during the New 52 revolution.

Though a lesser known of DC’s rogue’s gallery, Woodrue has made several appearances beyond the comic book page. A villain known as The Plant Master appeared on The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. He was mentioned many times during the 1990s television version of Swamp Thing. Most recently he was featured on the DC Universe Swamp Thing television series.

On the big screen he shared time and shame in Batman & Robin.

Now, as for today, start thinking about what the garden is gonna look like this year. Start with a potted plant that can be transplanted later. Look at what grew best last year and what you want to plant when the weather does break and stays broke.

Posted Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 by Barry

Barbie and Ken (1962) 1

Available in over 150 countries, Barbara Millicent Roberts may have the highest Q Score of any female on Earth. The trouble is, most know her by a different name:  Barbie.

Barbie and Ken (1962) 1

Barbie and Ken (1962) 1

And, today is her day: National Barbie Day.

Her humble origins stem from a German staple called Bild Lilli. Mattel’s co-founder’s wife, Ruth Handler, and daughter found the doll while visiting Germany. Handler returned home and discussed the find with husband, Elliot Handler.

He took the idea to partner Harold Matson and turned the project over to designer Jack Ryan. The doll was named Barbie after the Handler’s daughter.

Her coming out party was held in 1959 and Barbie has part of the popular landscape ever since. She made her way to Europe in 1961 and is currently sold in over 150 countries.

Barbie became part of the comic book community in May of 1962. Teamed with soulmate Ken, the series lasted a dismal five issues. She would not return to the medium until 1991 when Marvel optioned the license. The run lasted till 1996 for a total of 63 issues.

Barbie Fashion, a separate title, also launched in 1991. It would be cancelled after 53 issues.

In 1993 Barbie branched over to the horror genre with two books simply titled Barbie Halloween Special.

She returned in 2019 with two issues from publisher Papercutz.

If you don’t feel up to visiting the world’s largest Barbie Museum in Montreal or exploring the Toy Hall of Fame, scrounge up an issue chronicling Miss Roberts. For the guys, show ‘em you’re a real man and even post your celebration to #NationalBarbieDay. Just be careful what you do post.

Posted Saturday, March 6th, 2021 by Barry

Looney Tunes (1994) 180

Another wrong turn leads Bugs from his Miami Beach destination.

Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd butt heads in Dental Fuss. It’s also the catalyst to celebrate(?) National Dentists Day.

To commemorate the day, show your dentist you’ve improved your oral health regimen, commit to better dental habits, raise awareness, schedule a dental checkup, smile and/or take a photograph with your dentist and do a shout-out on social media accounts.

Looney Tunes (1994) 180

Looney Tunes (1994) 180

This National Calendar Day is held March 6 each year.

Medical Cat-tention, the second of three medical-oriented stories this issue, places Sylvester, Tweety and Granny uses a hospital backdrop for usual chase scenes.

Finally, Hubie and Bertie torture their usual feline foil with Elmer part of the problem in A Doctor in the Mouse.

Another static Looney Tunes feature, but you still hear the theme in your mind.

Posted Thursday, March 4th, 2021 by Barry

G.I. Combat (1952) 1

General Issue, formerly Government Issue, have become the preface for almost any military personnel.

Better known as G.I. the initials first appeared to denote supply records for galvanized iron. During World War I troops began associating the letters for “general issue.” By the second world war G.I. had morphed to mean a generic enlisted man.

Army Sergeant David Breger, a comic strip artist, created G.I. Joe for Yank magazine in 1942. G.I. further became engrained in the American psyche when President Franklin Roosevelt signed the bill that became known as the G.I. Bill.

G.I. Combat (1952) 1

G.I. Combat (1952) 1

Toy Company Hasbro cemented the abbreviation when they issued G.I. Joe in 1964.

To honor the men and women in service to America, today is designated National Hug a G.I. Day.

Featured guests here are the hard-fighting calvary men and commander, Lt. Jeb Stuart, Arch Asher, Rich Rawlins and Slim Stryker. Collectively they are the

G.I. Combat 87

G.I. Combat 87

crew of the Haunted Tank.

G.I. Combat began as an anthology of war-oriented stories published by Quality Comics. National bought the company in 1956, but continued the title.

Writer and editor Robert Kanigher and artist Russ Heath created the Haunted Tank and its inhabitants beginning with issue 87 in 1962. Their spin was the ghost of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart would shepherd the men in the M3 Stuart throughout the war.

The four survived their tour of duty in the European Theater of Operations only to find themselves cancelled in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths with issue 288 in 1987.

The concept was revived in 2010 with a one-shot entitled Listening to Ghosts. Matthew Sturges and Phil Winslade penned and penciled the book, respectively.

DC’s New 52 brought new life for eight issues in 2012. Jeb and company were called up for issues five through seven.

National Hug A G.I. Day began in 1996 and is the only day on the calendar that is also a military command to salute and celebrate the men and woman who serve our country.