Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today in Comics History Future: Bring it on aliens, we've had worse this week


Panels from "The Rulers of Earth" in Astonishing #30 (Marvel/Atlas, February 1954), pencils and inks by Joe Sinnott

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 17: Oh, Bwunehiwda, you're so wuvwee

Hey, look who's here today: Renaissance man chat show host, radio presenter, film critic, comics scholar and creator, and radiant representative of Rhotacism, Jonathan Ross!


Panels from Knight and Squire #5 (April 2011), script by Paul Cornell, pencils and inks by Jimmy Broxton, colors by Guy Major, letters by Steve Wands

Monday, January 16, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 16: But Björk Can Hurt You!

Well, this one spiraled a bit out of control. I was originally going to just post the panels immediately below and comment "Hey, it's Icelandic pop pixie (and perennial favorite in the Bull household) Björk!" and call it a day.


Panels from Hawkeye (2012 series) #18 (May 2014), script by Matt Fraction, pencils and inks by Annie Wu, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Of course I've spent some time looking for more appearances of Björk in comics, but except for a couple album cover depictions in MAD magazine, she hasn't. (And for the purposes of 365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, MAD doesn't count.) But didja know that in addition to providing the song "Army of Me" to the soundtrack of the well-I-liked-it 1995 movie Tank Girl, Björk was also considered to play the part of Jet Girl in the film? She turned it down, so our loss is the Naomi Watts's gain. Here, from the original T.G. comic, are (L-R) Jet Girl, Sub Girl, and Tank Girl. Oh man that coulda been Björk!


Panels from "The Australian Job, Part One", originally published in Deadline circa 1989 (could be in issue 7, 8, or 9), script by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, pencils and inks by Jamie Hewlett, letters by Alan Martin. Reprinted in Tank Girl (1991 series) #2 (Dark Horse, June 1991). Color edition published in Tank Girl Graphic Novel (Penguin Books, 1991), new color by Chris Chalenor.

By the way, I suppose you're wondering who's narrating that flashback in the Hawkeye panels above, or to put it more directly, which Marvel character was lucky enough to meet Björk? Why, that's one of my favorite Earth-616 long-time supporting characters, Harold H. Harold.


Matt Fraction didn't invent Harold, though — he was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan back in the funky-bad seventies in everyone's favorite blood-sucker of a comic classic, Tomb of Dracula!


Panels from Tomb of Dracula #37 (October 1975), script by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Gene Colan, inks and colors by Tom Palmer, letters by Joe Rosen

Harold's a hack hwriter (okay, I'm gonna nip that joke in the bud before it gets any further) tapping out supernatural stories for a pulp press editor, to whom he promises an (ahem) Interview with a Vampire!


And yes, this comic was published nearly a year before Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice's first Lestat novel. Once again: Comics Did It First!

Hey, that is a good question, HHH. Where do you get a green suit vampire to interview?


Well, you're not just gonna run across one...oh, wait, yes you are. Then he can shove the Prince of Vampires into his car and take him home, just like a Little Caesar's Pan Pizza with free Crazy Bread! (Free Crazy Bread may not be available at all locations.)


Do you want Draculas, Harold? Because that's how you get Draculas.


Later, Harold H. Harold becomes a hvampire, but I think you coulda seen that one coming up the winding, cobbled ancient street of downtown Transylvania City.

In conclusion: Björk was once in one comic book! And if you've haven't figgered out what the meaning of the post title is yet...read more Silver Age Batman!


Cover of The Brave and the Bold (1955 series) #81 (December 1968-January 1969), pencils and inks by Neal Adams, letters by Gaspar Saladino (?)

Björk, won't you?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 15: Midnight and the kitties are sleeping

Midnight is goin' to Hollywood! Along with his sidekicks Doctor Wackey and Gabby the Talking Monkey (currently off-stage inside the suitcase). Sheesh, with characters like that, we may not need any celebrities! But look, there's already some: the lovely Veronica Lake and the vivacious Ann Sheridan!


Panels from the Midnight story "Murder Tunes In Unexpectedly" in Smash Comics #34 (Quality Comics, July 1942); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Jack Cole

And then on page two already, we've got Myrna Loy, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Hedy LaMarr! Va va voom! Not only that, but Midnight's civilian identity is Dave Clark, whom we oughta know from his hit single "Over And Over", recorded with His Five. Hold on, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. Dave Clark is not related to the British Invasion musician. But wouldn't that be a great cover for a secret identity!


You may have noticed that Midnight's costume (blue suit, easily obtainable from any traditional tailor, matching crown fedora, and black mask) depicts him as eerily similar to The Spirit, Will Eisner's iconic crimefighter with a blue suit, fedora, and mask. That ain't coincidence. When Eisner reclaimed the comic book rights to the Spirit from Quality Comics, Quality Comics publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold told Quality artist Jack Cole (a tragic figure who ironically also created one of the most fun comics characters ever, Plastic Man) to dream up a similar character. Well, you can't get much more similar to the Spirit than that! Except Midnight's accomplices were less problematic than the Spirit's sidekick Ebony.

There's lots of Eisneresque touches in this strip by Cole, too. He was pretty adept at a Spirit pastiche without being a sheer copy. Note the creatively designed splash page, this hectic and fun final page wrap-up, and the conceit of lettering starlet Joy Devine's name in cursive every time, which suggests it's just absolutely lilting off the tongue in the dialogue.


Midnight! Come for the sexy Hollywood starlet guest appearances, stay for the talking monkey!


Saturday, January 14, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 14: The Public Life of the American Teenager

And now, a whole lotta celebs for your Saturday! Bob "Spay or neuter your pets" Barker! Super CONTROL spies Don Adams (or maybe Humphrey Bogart?) and Barbara Feldon (not pictured, but hey: mentioned)! Mustachioed muchacho Robert Wagner! And all on just one page! Who says this isn't the bountiful age of boistrous Bully...um...blogginess!


Panels from "Princess...American Style" in Girls' Romances #134 (DC/National, July 1968), pencils by John Rosenberger

And what the heck, we can even properly count real-life Miss American Teen-Ager Michele Patrick, especially since she actually made a comment about appearing in the comic over at Sleestak's excellent Lady, That My Skull blog! Here's the glamorous Michele and her big-ass trophy, along with a cool-ass vintage Dodge Charger!


Michele Patrick, 1968 (Photo: Alden Jewell/Wikimedia Commons)

Congrats, Ms. Patrick! I hope you said "hi" to Agent 99 for me!

Friday, January 13, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 13: Unlike any other sport, the objective in boxing is chillingly simple: One octopus-man purposefully endeavors to inflict bodily harm on a spider-man

When the Amazing Spider-Man vows to box the Delectable Doctor Octopus in a winner-takes-all tournment at Marla Madison Square Garden, of course you get the 1970s' most unprevaricating, multiloquent, and periphrastic sportscaster that ABC can lend to PBS: Howard Cosell!



Panels from "The Return of Dr. Octopus" in Spidey Super Stories #11 (August 1975), script by Jean Thomas, pencils by Win Mortimer, inks by Mike Esposito and Tony Mortellaro, letters by Irving Watanabe (?)

Alas, unlike Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, the other big-name comic book boxing match of the seventies, this one doesn't have a galaxy of real and imaginary celebrities on its cover. (I may have to devote an entire week eventually to that comic!)


Cover of Spidey Super Stories #11 (August 1975); cover by John Romita, Sr.; letters by Irving Watanabe (?)

Wait, what am I saying? There's Morgan Freeman, right there!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 12: And now these words from Alpo

Here's the special Silver Age-flavored guest appearance by Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon that I mentioned yesterday, from the classic Amazing Spider-Man #50! And J. Jonah Jameson! Hi Jonah! No, you don't count as a celebrity.


Panel from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #50 (July 1967); script by Stan Lee; pencils by John Romita, Sr.; inks by Mike Esposito; letters by Sam Rosen

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 11: It's really love, dear / I knew it from the start / You came my way, dear / Took away my heart*

Carson! Parker! They're cops! Wait, no they're not. One hosts a popular late night talk show and one is Spider-Man. Here's Peter Parker appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon! Carson made occasional appearances in the Marvel Universe (most notably in Amazing Spider-Man #50), and heeeeeeeeeeres Johnny talking to Pete about his book of Spidey photos, Webs. The previous page has already told us that Pete was booked as a last-minute guest when Charles Nelson Reilly cancelled, and Peter's definitely on in the last five minutes of the show. Hey-yo!


Panels from Amazing Spider-Man #305 (Late September 1988), script by David Michelinie, pencils by Todd McFarlane, inks by a whole lotta guys depending on which page you're lookin' at, colors by Gregory Wright, letters by Rick Parker

There's another almost celebrity appearance in ASM #305 earlier in the book, when Spider-Man signs an autograph for an off-camera Glenn Close.


Also in that panel: J. Jonah Jameson's handsomer cousin, and Abraham Lincoln. (Or maybe it's just this guy from Danger!! Death Ray:)


Also making an appearance, likely just out of the panel, Felix the Cat.

But we all know the real reason to read this comic is this panel:


That's right: nobody can resist the sight of sexy, sexy Peter Parker in a swimsuit. Rwaaaaaaar!

*Betcha didn't know Johnny's Theme (The Tonight Show Theme) had lyrics!: