Tag: Dick Tracy

Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!

Just a man with a man’s courage. You know he’s nothing but a man, and he can never fail. No one but the pure at heart may find the Golden Grail! – “Flash” written by Brian May.

He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!!!

No, I’m not talking about the return of Chickenman, although that would be welcome. Lucky for us, Rich Koz went on to bigger things. I’m taking about the man who was not comics’ first great space hero, but he was by far the best. Certainly the best drawn, with the best villain ever, anywhere. Born 90 years ago next January 7th, he was the creation of master comics artist Alex Raymond, and for over three decades, he ruled the worlds of heroic fantasy.

Flash Gordon was created as a newspaper comic strip. I assume you’ve read about newspapers online somewhere; comic strips were a feature in most of them except for the New York Times, who were too cheap to buy color presses back in the 1890s so they got all snooty about it and made it a thing. These comics told their stories on a daily basis. We still have newspaper comic strips but only four still tell continued stories, five if you count the brilliant Prince Valiant weekly. The rest are all about the tiresome adventures of misanthropomorphized two-dimensional talking animals. All newspaper extant have pretty much the same selection of funnies, as they were once known back in the days of newspaper competition. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: He’ll Save Every One Of Us!”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing

Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing

A brave man once requested me to answer questions that are key. Is it to be or not to be? And I replied, oh why ask me? — “Suicide Is Painless,” lyric written by Michael B. Altman (age, 15)

For 89 years, one of the more reliable cultural stalwarts in the global pop culture has been the adventures of private detective / gourmand / orchid-raiser / fussbudget genius Nero Wolfe. His fictional history encompasses 33 novels and 41 novellas and short stories written by mathematician and pro-labor, pro-New Deal, pro-Roosevelt, anti-fascist Rex Stout through 1975. Wolfe has been featured in a gargantuan number of movies, radio shows, television series, stage plays and postage stamps produced all over the world.

As careful readers of Brainiac On Banjo (et al) may be aware, I am among Rex Stout’s many rabid fans. What appeals most to me is the dialogue between Wolfe and his assistant / legman / tormentor Archie Goodwin — quite frankly, I have found these particular scenes (of which there are many in each novel) to be among the best and more entertaining exchanges of words in the English language. A decade after Stout’s death the Wolfe series was and has been continued by Chicago Tribune journalist Robert Goldborough, who, to date, has written 16 more Wolfe novels including an origin of the Wolfe/Goodwin “team.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Wolfe In Creep’s Loathing”

With Further Ado #215: A Tale of Three Treasures

With Further Ado #215: A Tale of Three Treasures

This past weekend we spent some time on the south end of Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York. We were just north of the town of Hammondsport, which is almost famous for the nation’s fourth oldest winery and as the hometown of Glenn R. Curtiss, the guy who actually flew before the Wright Brothers. As the story goes, the Wright Brothers got the patent first, and all the fame too.  (More info available at the Curtiss Museum.)

When were there, we spent most of our time listening to live music and visiting a few entrepreneurial start-ups. If you were to guess they were mostly wineries and craft breweries, you wouldn’t be wrong.

We visited some antiques shops too. (Don’t you dare call them junk shops.)  And I found some wonderful comic books, and comic-adjacent treasures.

There’s a certain charm to the last issue of a comic, especially when the creators realize the party is almost over. Charlton’s The Partridge Family #21 (Nov 1973) is a perfect example.

The Partridge Family was an early 1970s TV series about a single mom and the musical act that she and her kids created.  From my pre-teenage point of view back then, it was kind of like a slightly hipper version of the Brady Bunch. And like that show, it was on every Friday night.  As a kid, I was a bit interested in Laurie Partridge, played by Susan Dey. As an adult, it’s the mother who’s the most interesting of the bunch.  How did I ever get so old?

Anyways, I picked up a nice copy of The Partridge Family #21, the final issue of the series, for just $6 bucks. I was initially drawn to it because the cover artist, Don Sherwood, captured the actors’ likenesses pretty well.

But the surprising part is that just about the whole comic is a series of full-page portraits. Don Sherwood, bless his heart, draws portraits and a few girls in bikinis for the beach scene, and the Partridge Family’s version of their Batmoblie, an old school bus repainted to transport their musical equipment.  I don’t think there was ever a comic, even the most bombastic 70s Kirby issue, that had so many splash pages!

There is such an emphasis on drawing faces that stories leave out things like “the rationale” and “the end”. One story is clearly missing pages. But in the end, who cared? I gather this was meant to be a fan magazine so that young fans could cut out the pictures. Continue reading “With Further Ado #215: A Tale of Three Treasures”

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World

I always kinda liked the ads in comics.  In stark contrast to prose books (I am a big bookworm and love to read books, too), the constant interruption of comic stories by advertisements sprinkled throughout has a charm all of its own. And when they fit in with comics, it’s even better. Sometimes the ads showcase other genre-related properties like movies, TV shows and licensed merchandise.  Sometimes they just serve as a nostalgic tether to days, and products, long gone by.

I’m proud to have had a few of my ads appear in various comics over the years. It was a thrill to see them in print. Like the Super Bowl, there were times when I’d look forward to seeing the ads more than the main event.  In a recent conversation with my old Nabisco pal, Doug Haase, we ended up talking all about our old Marvel comics cross promotion and the ads that went along with it.

I’ve worked with professional experts too. Creative types as well as sales folks. As far as I’m concerned, people like Marvel’s Renee Krumper, Valiant’s Seymour Miles, and DC’s Avery Stiratt have an important place in comics history.  Most notable is the entrepreneurial warrior, Kris Longo. He’s been fighting the good fight at Geek Riot Media, the firm he founded, for years now.

With all that in mind, I was especially delighted when I stumbled across Harvey’s Dick Tracy #99. I’m working on a Dick Tracy article for the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and I need to get up to speed. Continue reading “With Further Ado #133: It’s an Ad, Ad, Ad World”

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)

Let’s start with a beer. Shall we?

In the old days, Miller Lite TV Commercials presented the world as one big party for adult men. The long-running, phenomenally successful marketing campaign featured retired sports stars laughing, drinking and teasing one another. It was kind of a secret fraternity that wasn’t so secret. Anyone could join, and all you needed was Lite beer. It was fun, playful and good natured.

Among all the sports stars, two decidedly non-sports celebrities stood out – comedian Rodney Dangerfield, enjoying a bombastic second act to his career, and mystery writer Mickey Spillane.

Mystery writer Mickey Spillane? Really? We think of celebrity fiction writers, and it’s hard to conjure up their image.  F. Scott Fitzgerald? James Patterson? What do they look like? I guess most of us know what Stephen King or J.K. Rowling look like. Maybe we all would recognize Hemingway or Truman Capote.  But America was drinking beer and kidding around with one particular writer. Mickey Spillane was in our living rooms –  during every commercial break – when we were watching sitcoms and ball games, for years and years. Continue reading “With Further Ado #092: Down These Mean Streets with MAX ALLAN COLLINS (part 2)”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in April 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in April 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

Here, we give our readers a preview of the new comic book series that we are looking forward to each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld.

April has a diverse group of premiere issues that we are excited about, and they come from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series, and some are coming back for new volumes.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in April 2019”