Posted Sunday, July 16th, 2023 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 101

America and the world entered the Atomic Age 77 years ago today.

The Trinity technicians may have wondered what they had wrought later, but the resulting self-sustaining chain reaction signaled a division in eras punctuated with a now familiar mushroom cloud.

Since that time, man has poked and prodded what he harnessed in hopes of better understanding and wrangling that power. To honor those who were drug along during the battery of tests, President Ronald Reagan designated July 16 as National Atomic Veterans Day:

Action Comics (1938) 101

“The day was dedicated to those patriotic Americans who through their participation in these tests helped lead the United States to the forefront of technology in defense of our great nation and the freedoms we as Americans hold so dear.”

In 1996, the United States Congress repealed the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Act, allowing Atomic Veterans to tell their stories and file for benefits. By then, thousands of Atomic Veterans had died without their families knowing the true extent of their service.

Pulling from the Golden Age of comic books and nuclear testing, Action Comics issue 101 presents America’s new toy to the comic book reading world. Inside, Crime Paradise, a 12-page propaganda story, introduces the new age in a parable of good and evil.

To save Lois Lane, Superman allows himself to be dosed with a drug that causes him to commit irrational acts. Following the third such event, the Man of Steel flies to the south Pacific where a nuclear test is under way.

The resulting explosion clears Superman’s mind of any confusion. As a result, he offers to film the second explosion showcasing a new atomic bomb. After which, he proclaims the safety and proficiency of the newly harnessed power before returning to Metropolis and jailing the crooks.

Operation Crossroads, held mid-1946, was the first nuclear test since The Gadget was detonated at Trinity the previous year. Coincidently, the islands and setting during the test was similar to that portrayed in Action Comics 101.

This wasn’t the first time Superman would be tested by the rending of the atom.

In Superman 38 readers were greeted by the following exhortation on page one, “Due to wartime censorship restrictions on subjects dealing with atomic experiments (see Time, Aug. 20, 1945, P. 72 and Newsweek Aug. 20, 1945, P. 68), this story was not previously released to the public. You’ll understand why as you read about the astounding weapon that Superman’s ancient foe, Luthor, turns loose against the city in…The Battle of the Atoms!”

Luther would threaten the Man of Tomorrow with an atomic device only to have it explode harmlessly against Superman’s chest disarming the arch villain.

The legacy of Oppenheimer’s is maybe best summed up in his quote from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Posted Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 by Barry

Logan’s Run (1976) 1

Lace up the athletic shoes, stretch the hammies and break out the earbuds, today is the first Wednesday of June meaning it’s National Running Day.

This non-holiday is an offshoot of Global Running Day, created in 2009 by partnered running organizations.

To celebrate, uh, running.

Shouldn’t be too hard considering over one billion running shoes are sold each year worldwide. On the plus side, runners who log between 12 to 19 miles a week have stronger immune systems. However, those who put in 50 miles or more a week are more likely to develop a respiratory illness.

 

Logan’s Run (1976) 1

Just in case, you may want to enjoy the day with a good read. Last year we recognized Quick Silver. This year we’re tapping a franchise.

Logan’s Run began as a novel in 1967 by authors William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. A book of its times, the introduction reads, “The seeds of the Little War were planted in a restless summer during the mid-1960s, with sit-ins and student demonstrations as youth tested its strength. By the early 1970s, over 75 percent of the people living on Earth were under twenty-one years of age. The population began to climb – and, with it, the youth percentage. In the 1980s, the figure was 79.7 percent. In the 1990s, 82.4 percent. In the year 2000 – critical mass.”

By the year, according to the book, 2116, maximum age was restricted to 21 years, to the day. On their Lastday, people were required to report to Sleepshop where they would be voluntarily executed. Their “souls” would return for reincarnation and they would be given the same name followed by the number of their current incarnation.

To track their ages, a crystal was imbedded in the palm of their hand. From ages zero to six the palm flower would show yellow. From seven to 13, blue and 14 to 20, red. Prior to their 21st birthday, the palm flower would blink red and black and finally turn black on Lastday.

Lifespans were enforced by Sandmen who would track down any who tried to escape reincarnation by running.

Logan’s Run is about a Sandman ordered to infiltrate the underground railroad assisting runners.

His adventures would lead him into two subsequent books, Logan’s World and Logan’s Search, both published after the 1976 movie adaptation’s release.

Marvel Comics licensed the title publishing seven issues before the series was cancelled. It was to compliment the Logan’s Run television series that fared no better. Logan’s Run the TV show lasted 14 episodes from 1977 to 1978.

Adventure Comics published two six-issue minis adapting Logan’s Run and Logan’s World from 1990 to 1992.

So, run or don’t run, up to you. Just remember, there’s a good read waiting for you when you’re done.

Posted Friday, May 12th, 2023 by Barry

Nellie the Nurse (1945) 1

International Nurses Day commemorates the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, May 12, 1820.

While Nightingale is noted in name, the day celebrates the dedication and duty all nurses demonstrate. International Nurses Week is a week-long celebration in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Our four-color face on the day is Atlas Comics – better known as Marvel – Nellie the Nurse.

Nellie the Nurse (1945) 1

Nellie’s original title ran from December 1945 to October 1952 including 36 issues. Her profession was evident in title only on most covers and in most stories. Nellie didn’t appear in her nurse togs until issue six and then only appeared in them on half of the remaining issues, normally in a flirtatious fashion.

She would later be lumped with Marvel’s post-war, silly/sexy sirens of the workplace characters. Others included Tillie the Toiler, Debbie Dean, Dixie Dugan and Flyin’ Jean.

Nellie would make a return in 1957 for one issue, this time as a blond, but still the object of ogles from the male staff and patients.

Today we can appreciate nurses for their assiduity rather than appearance. The average nurse walks four miles a day in what is considered the most honest and ethical profession in the United States. For those seeking a career, nurses, on average, earn $73,300 a year.

Nightingale is held in regard for her essential work during the Crimean War of the 1850s. During her first assignment, Nightingale was appalled at the conditions of the hospital. She took it upon herself to ensure the facility was clean and stocked with medical supplies and food.

Her experiences there would lead to a life of health care reform and nursing. In 1860, she opened the Nightingale School of Nursing in St. Thomas’ Hospital in London.

International Nurses Day has been celebrated since 1965.

Posted Thursday, April 27th, 2023 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 140

National Administrative Professionals’ Day has a pedigree stemming from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer from way back in 1952.

Sawyer proclaimed June, though a month, National Secretary’s Day with June 4 set aside as the official day of celebration. With the new millennium, the name was changed to a more gender-, politically correct-friendly observance of Administrative Professionals Day and moved to April.

Today was designed to recognize the efforts put forth by the otherwise unsung heroes of the office. It recognizes the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists as well as offering umbrella coverage to all administrative support professionals.

Celebrate by rewarding those mentioned above with more than their paycheck. Some suggestions include flowers, gift certificates, gift baskets, candy or lunch.

Putting a face to the day is Gloria Grant.

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 141

Ms. Grant first graced the pages of Amazing Spider-Man 140 as Peter Parker’s neighbor. Her initial appearance is little more than five Ross Andru panels barely hinting at the role should would soon attain in the title.

With her modeling career on hold and needing work, Peter was able to find her employment at the Daily Bugle during Betty Brant/Leed’s honeymoon.

Grant would become more than just a supporting character when she fell in love with gangster Eduardo Lobo. The romance came to an end when she accidently shot Lobo while aiming at Spider-Man.

Later, she helped Spidey and a government agent capture voodoo witch Calypso. Her involvement with boss J. Jonah Jameson and the Spider-Man titles would end when she left JJJ’s mayoral staff after he was elected as mayor of Manhattan.

For those in the work setting with administrative professionals, mark the day on your calendar. Those on the other side the desk, don’t for forget to drop a hint just in case.

Just remember, National Boss’s Day is Oct. 15.

Posted Sunday, April 23rd, 2023 by Barry

Banana Splits (1969) 1

One banana, two banana, three banana, four…

If you can finish this theme song, you remember Saturday morning cartoons, psychedelia before the 80s tried to bring it back and prizes hidden at the bottom of sugar-laden breakfast cereals.

 

Banana Splits (1969) 1

You also know who the ambassadors for National Banana Day are.

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky confound spellcheck, but are remembered for their technicolor facade. They were also the title hosts for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour that aired on NBC from Sept. 7, 1968 to Sept. 5, 1970. A total of 31 episodes were filmed alternating between live-action and animated portions.

In syndication, the show would become known simply as The Banana Splits running from 1971 to 1982.

Musical segments during the first season were filmed at Six Flags Over Texas, near Arlington, TX. For the second season, filming was done at the Coney Island amusement park near Cincinnati, OH.

The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) was written by N.B. Winkless Jr., though Ritchie Adams and Mark Barkan are credited. It would break the Billboard Top 100 at 96 in February of 1969.

Though the series ended in 1970, a made-for-television movie was released on ABC in 1972 called The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park.

The Banana Splits Movie was released in 2019 at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Gold Key published eight issues of the Banana Splits’ adventures from 1969 through 1971 with a crossover in Suicide Squad in 2017.

National Banana Day is recognized the third Wednesday in April.

Bananas are seen as a low-fat, low-calorie snack filled with fiber, potassium and vitamins.

Posted Thursday, April 6th, 2023 by Barry

Plop! (1973) 5

For those who go back as far as I do, here’s a little blast from the past to tide you over till Easter.

Plop! was a short-lived humor title National Periodicals rolled out to newsstands in 1973. The New Magazine of Weird Humor! as it billed itself, ran 24 issues finally bowing to the bicentennial and disinterest in the waning days of 1976.

Plop! (1973) 5

Like the EC books of old and DC House books of, then, current day, Plop! featured horror hosts. Cain and Able moonlighted from Houses of Mystery and Secrets, respectively. Eve, joined the duo, as their mother or cousin, depending on what DC retcon you follow. She debuted in Secrets of Haunted House, replacing Destiny.

Plop! is a spinoff of Steve Skeate’s short-story The Poster Plague published in House of Mystery. Publisher Carmine Infantino christened the book and Sergio Aragones blessed it with his talent.

Aragones was only one of the many talented writers and artists who graced the pages. Berni Wrightson, Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood were also part of the package that delivered on a bi-monthly basis.

In issue five, Aragones provides the bookends featuring a mentally handicapped hare attempting to understand what Plop! is as defined by Cain, Able and Eve.

Their efforts provide three short stories and several one- or two-and-done pages of jokes to entertain and enlighten the Easter Bunny.

The Ultimate Freedom allows man to finally fly even if he ultimately is grounded by his own complaints.

Politicians are disparaged even more in His Honor the Mayor with Molded in Evil bringing down the curtain. The final tale is a showcase for Wrightson and billed as a Valentine’s story told in a special Easter issue.

The last page had the Easter Bunny finally understanding what Plop! was and responding with a bunny hop of his own.

The first 10 issues were advertisement free. Poor sales meant ads had to be sold, but even then, the book continued to lose money.

Though largely ignored by the public, the title was lauded within the industry including the Shazam Award for Best Humor Story in issue one, Best Writer (Humor Division) in 1973 to Skeates and the Eagle Award for Favourite Comic in 1977.

So, enjoy Easter and if you have the opportunity, enjoy a little Plop! The early ones are the best, but the series deserves more recognition than it has ever received.

Posted Monday, April 3rd, 2023 by Barry

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

This truly is a Hallmark holiday.

Rainbow Brite is the child of many fathers: Gary Glissmeyer, Hallmark’s Vice President of Creative/Licensing; Cheryl Coza, head of artists; Dan Drake, editorial director of writers of Hallmark; and Hallmark’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Lanny Julian.

Once the team created the prefab character, Jim McDowell of Hallmark’s marketing division wrote her back story.

Hallmark plowed ahead with a toy contract to Mattel and animated rites to France’s DIC. She debuted June 27, 1984, with a prime-time special entitled Peril in the Pits. The Mighty Monstromurk Menace and The Beginning of Rainbowland, both two-part specials, aired later.

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

By 1985, Rainbow Brite was popular enough to land an animated feature on the big screen. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer was released by Warner Bros. The following year, it, with the made-for-television specials became the keystone for DIC’s Kideo TV programing that began airing April of 1986.

Beyond the comic book adaptation of Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, Hallmark’s handiwork was limited to a Dyanmite’s more recent attempts to bring her to the four-color universe. The 2018 series lasted five issues with a trade in 2019 and another in 2021.

So, all of the above to announce National Find a Rainbow Day.

April 3 has been set aside, again, this non-holiday’s origins are lost to time; to look to the sky and find a “colorful ray of hope cast across it,” as stated by National Day Calendar.

If the history of the day is unknown, the scientific cause is not. Rainbows are caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere. They appear opposite of the sun.

The sequence of colors is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

The Bible further states rainbows are a promise from God that he will never destroy the Earth by water again, Genesis 9:11.

God had destroyed the Earth due to “…the wickedness of man.”

However, you commemorate the day, just remember, if you find the end of the rainbow, don’t forget to share the wealth.

Posted Saturday, April 1st, 2023 by Barry

Fantastic Four Presents: Franklin Richards Son of a Genius April Fools! (2016)

Here’s a quick reminder: today is April 1st. April Fool’s Day.

This is not joke.

April Fools has been celebrated for centuries, but its origins are guessed work. One of the more fascinating involves France changing from the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian. The change meant New Year’s Day moved from April 1 to January 1. Many failed to recognize the switch and celebrated through the last week of March. Those who did were labeled as victims of a hoax or joke.

Whatever its origin, the day became recognized in Britain in the 18th century. The commemoration spread to Scotland soon after.

Today April Fools Day is widely recognized worldwide.

To celebrate our prankster is Reed and Sue Richards’ little boy, Franklin, in his 2016 April Fools special.

In Sick Day, Franklin fails to study for his math test. To avoid taking the quiz, he raids his father’s infectious disease lab. Finding a jar marked “flu,” Franklin decides a sick day is in order to avoid taking the test. What he fails to realize is this flu is no ordinary virus, but the Pandorian strain capable of rendering him purple, growing sentient acne and finally dissolving to a green puddle of vocal ooze.

His saving grace is the fact it only lasts 24 minutes.

Fantastic Four Presents: Franklin Richards Son of a Genius April Fools! (2016)

Restored to health, Franklin realizes he still has to attend school and take his test.

Brain Game is a one-page gag allowing Franklin’s father, Reed Richards, to co-star.

School nemesis Kristoff attempts to foil Franklin’s hard work in Diorama Dilemma! with a gimmicked Gummy Bear. The plot backfires, literally, giving Marvel’s first family’s first offspring a night off without homework.

Lockjaw joins H.E.R.B.I.E. and Franklin in Roswell Rescue!  The trio team up for a little alien investigation in 1947 and some retcon history.

H.E.R.B.I.E.’s thrown under the bus in Whodunnit?!

The finale is the holiday tale, April Fools Fiasco!

Franklin gets carried away with his father and Uncle Johnny during some April first Tom foolery. He’s relieved and miffed to find he’s not the only one who can play the game.

Spring is on the horizon, but there’s still some gloom in the air, so shake it off with a joke or two, but keep them clean and fun.

Posted Wednesday, March 8th, 2023 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 176

“To write is human; to edit is divine,” Stephen King.

Again, for the Four Color Holidays veteran, you’ll remember really is a National Proofreading Day. Last year we celebrated with The Marvel No-Prize Book.

If case you’re a newbie, National Proofreading Day was created by Judy Beaver in 2011 in memory of her mother, Flo. Much like Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) she was a person who relished correcting others mistakes. To commemorate, daughter Judy chose March 8 to mark the day with her mother’s birthday.

Fantastic Four (1961) 176

Proofreading may take a backseat in today’s world of texting where punctuation and abbreviating words is common practice.

It shouldn’t.

There is still a place for proofreading. To those of you who have read more than one of these missives. To those of you who still like to crack open a book or read the news or a magazine. Mistakes can be ugly. They can be confusing.

In 1962, NASA lost contact and control with Mariner 1. It blew up 293 seconds after launch. It is believed a missed hyphen in the guidance code was the cause. A mistake that could have been caught by proofreading.

Anyway, enough with the boring stuff.

Today’s representation of the non-holiday is Fantastic Four (1961) issue 176 showcasing the then editor-in-chief of Marvel himself Stan the Man Lee.

While Stan is no stranger to typos, again, see The Marvel No-Prize Book, he was head honcho, even starting out as a proofreader at Marvel originally.

Plus, he was co-creator of the book’s guest star, the Impossible Man. In addition, half the Marvel Bullpen make cameos. Included with Stan are Jack King Kirby, George Perez, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott, John Verpoorten, Marv Wolfman, Archie Goodwin, Gerry Conway and Marie Severin.

Thomas, Wolfman and Goodwin were all former editors themselves.

The Impossible Man takes a tour of the Marvel offices after returning to Earth in the aptly named Improbable as it May Seem – The Impossible Man is Back in Town!

His unauthorized visit turns into a siege of sorts as Impossible Man decides he wants to be immortalized in the four-color Marvel Universe. Using his morphing ability and the illustrations of heroes and their tools of the trade, Impossible Man terrorizes the bullpen until Stan promises him his own comic book.

It may not have been published until 1991 with the Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular 1.

Hopefully this reads well and there are no misspellings or miscues with the punctuation. But, if there’s a post where it would be appropriate, this would be the one.

Posted Wednesday, March 1st, 2023 by Barry

Aliens: Pig (1997)

Aliens: Pig

Aliens: Pig

In case your forgot to mark your calendars, today is National Pig Day – again.

Today is the day to celebrate all things swine. From the banks with our childhood life savings to the side order that complimented breakfast.

In case this is your first rodeo with the day, Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne are the co-creators of National Pig Day inaugurated in 1972. Their wish was to recognize an underappreciated member of the animal kingdom and the most intelligent of the domesticated farm animals. Ones who have been the stars of books, cartoons and movies.

Granted this is a non-holiday more remembered in the heartland of America where today’s guests of honor are gathered for our future consumption. Surprisingly, it is also a popular pastime for many nursing homes. Residents are encouraged to present their collections of porcelain porcine or other sundry keepsakes.

Using Peter Porker, Porky Pig and, well, Porky again, it’s time to move on with a master of ceremonies.

This year we celebrate with a simple porcus.

In 1997 Dark Horse Comics continued their Alien franchise with Aliens: Pig. The one-shot was conceived by Chuck Dixon, maybe better remembered for all his work on the Batman family of books at DC Comics.  Henry Flint illustrated the tale and Andrew Pepoy inked.

The plot was simple enough: scavengers set out to raid a juicy ore tug wreck before its rightful owners arrive. One problem; a hive of Aliens have already staked claim at the site.

The solution was simple enough; release a pig with a low-yield nuclear device strapped to its back. Once inside the hive, detonate the gadget and partake of the plunder.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice, men and outlaws rarely go smoothly.

Aliens was one of Dark Horse Comics building blocks. The company licensed the rights to the franchise in 1988, two years after formation of the comic company.

Its first foray was simply Aliens, a six-issue mini followed by 37 further entries either in mini-series or one-shot format. That’s not including appearances in Dark Horse Presents or the Aliens vs. Predator outings.

Also outside the self-titled minis were Aliens vs. Predator vs. The Terminator, Batman/Aliens, Green Lantern Versus Aliens, Judge Dredd Vs. Aliens, Superman/Aliens, Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator and WildC.A.T.s/Aliens.

Not to overshadow the day, enjoy the other white meat however you like.