The Infinite League vs. the Miscellaneous

Presented here in its entirety (with big, stupid color added) is last year's action-packed mini-publication from Wide Awake Press: The Infinite League vs. the Miscellaneous. As a special offer, a signed copy of this long-out-of-print mini will be awarded to the first among you who can tell me where the Rocket Rogofsky character first appeared (hint: I didn't invent him). Enjoy!

Coverboy vs. the Toast

The Captain Fires Back

Look what the mailman brung me! An actual autograph from Captain Marvel himself! Do YOU have Captain Marvel's autograph? No, you do not.

John Davey's letter says, "Enclosed is your punishment for your unflattering comments on 'Shazam'!" I deserve much worse punishment, wouldn't you say?


Half-Mast: Bettie Page

Bettie Page, the Marilyn Monroe of the fanboy community, passed away on December 11. Though she was once the most popular pin-up model of the 1950s, Page dropped out of the public eye for decades, adding mystique to her legend. Like most geeks of my generation, I learned about Bettie when cartoonist Dave Stevens "cast" her as the Rocketeer's girlfriend in his comic book of the early '80s. In the years following, her photos, as well as contemporary artists's renderings of her likeness, became obligatory among the comic book set. By the mid-90s, you could find more "Bettie Pages", in bondage gear and trademark bangs, than Batmen and Darth Vaders at Dragon Con. (Personally, I thought it was a huge improvement over the comic conventions of old.)


My Business with Small Biz

Illos appearing in this month's issue of Small Biz (reproduced, appropriately enough, at a very small size). The two guys are famous economists. I've never heard of them and neither have you (sort of like being a famous illustrator). As always, there was no digital cheating on the conveyor belt art - I drew every one of those damn boxes by hand. I was daunted by the prospect, but it turned into a relaxing, meditative exercise, free of the frustration and panic of trying to get someone's eyebrows right while the deadline looms.

Mike Mussa, the guy at the bottom, is one of those cases where he's gained weight in recent years, but isn't quite a "fat guy". So it's not like drawing William Conrad, where you just start with a big circle, but his features don't have the distinction of his younger self. You have to shoot for somewhere in the middle, an unsatisfying outcome for a caricaturist.

But all in all, a very enjoyable gig, working with very appreciative people. Hope they call again!


Half-Mast: Forrest J Ackerman

King of the monster geeks, Forry Ackerman, died this week at age 92. He was the first of the seemingly-indestructible trio of long-lived sci-fi pals - Forry, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen - to pass away. In the pre-VCR era, Ackerman's vital periodical, Famous Monsters of Filmland, gave glimpses of classic horror and science fiction films to those too young to remember (and couldn't see unless they showed up on TV). As we all found out when video came our way, most of the movies weren't half as good as Forry's magazine made them seem.

Ackerman's collection of monster movie memorabilia was legendary, with tours provided by the man himself for decades. Sadly, with no museum offering to buy his various masks, lobby cards and robot suits, he was forced to sell most of the collection piece by piece in recent years. A damn shame. I mean, the Smithsonian will spring for Warren G. Harding's pajamas but they won't buy Karloff's neck bolts? As a nation, we've lost our priorities.

But those of us who know the score will look to our Wolfman Soakies and glow-in-the-dark Hunchback model kits and salute the man who opened the Chamber of Horrors for our juvenile minds. Arise, Forrest J Ackerman! May you keep Van Helsing at bay.


The John Davey Variation

Yesterday's post, with my Shazam portrait and accompanying anti-70s rant, inspired more email in a single day than any work I've ever produced. (And thanks to those who included birthday wishes/sympathies.) This was exciting, of course, but interesting in that almost everyone (save the not-quite-right Caleb Fraid) agreed with my assessment that the show was butt-awful. It's a sad reality I guess we have to accept: poor quality television brings us together as a people. All you have to do is say, "Gary Coleman", and a stranger becomes a friend.

Anyhow, I figured I should post the companion piece, which you'll notice is slightly similar to the first. Above is John Davey, who portrayed Captain Marvel after the first season of Shazam. I preferred Davey, who seemed like a regular Joe compared to a TV weatherman-type like Jackson Bostwick. Davey struck me, in spite of his red ballet tights, like the sort of guy who would tell you to "pop the hood" if you said you were having car trouble.

That took a little sting out of those endless lectures about lying and not judging people by their gender, but not much.


They Owe Us Ten Years

Michael Gray and Jackson Bostwick in the 1974 CBS series, Shazam.
How is it that, during my childhood of the 1970's, the Japanese could keep me completely enthralled with cheap, rubber monster suits on shows like Ultraman and Space Giants, yet here in America, "the greatest country in the world"TM, Saturday Morning entertainment was like watching paint dry after a shot of Nyquil? Case in point, the 1974 - 77 Shazam series. The set-up sounds pretty exciting to a kid: Young Billy Batson and his elder companion, known simply as The Mentor (this was pre-NAMBLA, remember), traveled around in a big camper van*, getting into all sorts of dangerous predicaments that required Billy to magically transform into Captain Marvel, super hero extraordinare. Man, this oughtta be good!