Saturday, June 09, 2007

June and July are Expensive Months!

OK, so most of you already know about the first foster child we've taken in... of course, he didn't come with everything he needed, so we've had to spend some cash to get stuff we need for him (my parents and my brother Jeff and his wife have also bought some stuff for him, with our heartfelt gratitude!).

Of course, this month is also Father's Day... and I have a niece graduating from high school... and there's at least one family birthday this month, if not two (yeah, I know, it's terrible how I don't keep track of this stuff better).

July has two family birthdays, too... as well as the 4th of July (which usually isn't an expensive holiday for us)... and that's also when my week-long vacation is scheduled.

Sheesh! I'm just finding myself hoping that the checks for my latest freelance transcription gigs come in quickly!

I've got another gig coming up towards the end of the month for a couple of books for TwoMorrows, but that's all I'm going to say about those until they're officially announced... fortunately, I know from personal history that TwoMorrows pays their invoices very quickly!

Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to get the time to work on that gig when the stuff comes in while also dealing with at least one, if not two foster kids (may mean a few late nights, leaving me really short on sleep)!

Jon

Comic Book Cover of the Day!

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This issue of Lois Lane is one that I used to have in my collection, and it features cover art by Kurt Schaffenberger, who's one of my favorite Superman Family artists! The cover story is pretty much what you see here... Lois' impetuousness causes her to artificially age, and then Superman starts seeing Lana all the time (I must confess, as often as I've heard people say that Kurt drew Lois and Lana the same, but with different hair styles, I have to differ... he drew both sexy as hell, but I think he must've personally preferred Lana, because she always looked better than Lois).

What I may be mistaken in is how the story ends... the denouement has Lois finally completely losing her temper at how she's being treated by Superman, Lana, and everyone else around her, and that ends up being the cure for her premature old age! Superman, of course, knew this, and perpetuated this cruel hoax to cure her (and probably to teach her a lesson, too... he used to do that all the time in Lois Lane's comic, but I don't think the lessons ever took).

Jon

Genre Movie Image of the Day: Dracula!

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Here's the second Dracula picture... and to be honest, I'm not sure that's Bela Lugosi as the Count there, although it looks kind of like him.

It's possible this may be, instead, a still from the Spanish language version of Dracula, which was filmed simultaneously with the English version, but with a different cast! Both productions used the same sets (the English language version at the daytime, the Spanish at night), the same script (more or less), and probably the same music, too.

From what I've read, the Spanish language version may actually be a better production than Bela's... but I've never seen it (and don't speak Spanish), so I'm not the one to judge!

Jon

Classic Collectible of the Day!

marxdalek

This Marx Toys battery powered Dalek (as well as the mini-one also shown) are very cool toys, based on the robotic (well, cybernetic is probably a better term for 'em, given that these shells are supposed to contain some kind of biological life inside them, if I recall my Doctor Who arcana correctly) foes of Doctor Who, the longest-running science fiction program of all time.

How many other shows ran for so long in their original run, and then were revived years later for another successful run (that's still going)?

No, Star Trek doesn't count, in my mind - you might make an argument for original Trek and Next Generation combined (not a very good one, mind you), but given that the other Trek shows overlapped at least one other show (I think), they can't be counted as the same series.

Jon

Friday, June 08, 2007

Fair Warning...

My blogging may be spotty and off-schedule over the weekend! But I'm hoping by the end of the weekend, I'll at least be able to post some stuff here and there, and maybe by Sunday night (or Monday morning) I'll figure out what the new posting schedule will be like!

Jon

Three-In-One Post!

I'm completely worn out tonight from foster parenting and work this week (I find myself wondering if we'll be adjusted enough by the end of the month for my next transcription gig), so I'm doing a three-in-one post tonight!

Classic Collectible of the Day

supermanwatch

I wish this photo showed the face of the watch more clearly, but doesn't it look great?

Genre Movie Image of the Day!

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Here's Bela Lugosi as the Count from the first Universal Dracula movie... and I am not sure, to be honest, if that's Renfield or Harker he's attacking here!

Comic Book Cover of the Day!

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This Flash cover is another one from my "ch-ch-ch-changes" file (which I've referred to on other days as "strange changes," which was a mistake). Flash certainly had his share of bizarre transformations (heck, most of the DC heroes did in the Silver Age!).

One would've thought that Barry would've realized his cranium had expanded so much, though!

Jon

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Worth Checking Out...

This page from Plaid Stallions featuring peg toys from Azrak Hamway - man, I remember seeing so many of these at the local Kmart (I even had a few of them myself!). Check it out and see if any memories are sparked, and look at the other galleries there, too!

Jon

Comic Book Covers of the Day: DOUBLE POST!

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You've just gotta love a Jimmy Olsen cover involving a Strange Change, don't you? Here's Wolfman Jimmy, and he ended up becoming a wolfman when he drank a potion (although he would just physically resemble a wolfman -- it's not like he tried to eat anyone, you know!), but there was just one cure... he had to be kissed by a beautiful girl. He tried to get Lucy Lane to do it, but failed... I think Lois even offered, but then had to back out for some reason. But Superman came through for his pal, providing a damsel to kiss and cure him, but her identity had to remain a secret!

The damsel in question? Supergirl, who was still being kept a secret from the world!

Honestly, though... isn't that a bit creepy? I mean, what was Kara thinking when Cousin Kal shows up and says, "Kara, I need you to do me a favor and kiss this friend of mine, but without him knowing who you are, of course... it's the only way to cure him of this curse!"

Then again, this is the same girl who set up her cousin with an alien superheroine on another world who looked just like she will when she's an adult...

Jimmy would never seem to learn his lesson about not drinking or fooling around with strange stuff, and his transformations were varied (he even became a wolf-man a second time, if I recall correctly).

Next up: Another DC Strange Change!

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I wonder how many comics fans really are aware that Captain Comet was the cover feature on Strange Adventures for quite some time? I'm sure most DC fans, anyway, are familiar with the man born 1,000 years before his time, evolutionarily speaking... but most probably don't know where he made his first appearances.

Count me among those who were ignorant for the longest time... then again, for the first several years of my serious collecting of comics, the only Strange Adventures issues I had were those featuring reprints of Adam Strange stories (heck, it was years after that before I realized these first appeared in Mystery in Space!).

Anyway... the cover in question here features that hoary cliche of the machine that could exchange personalities in bodies! This became so overused (especially in television... Gilligan's Island used it in an episode, and I think there was a Flintstones ep, too, that used it) that one would be hard-pressed to find a comics writer today who would dare consider such a device!

What makes this cover really stand out in my mind, though, is the fact that there's a gorilla on it, making it one of the many DC gorilla covers of the Silver Age!

Jon

Genre Movie Images of the Day: DOUBLE POST!

Alas, today we say farewell to the Frankenstein Monster...

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...but at least the last of the pictures I have are of Karloff (probably from Bride or Son)... consider yourself lucky I didn't throw in a pic of me in my own Monster make-up (especially since I was about 100 lbs heavier the only time I wore it!).

And remember, with each ending comes a beginning...

draculaposter

Yes, that's right, now I go into a series of Dracula photos! Believe it or not, I think there's an even dozen Drac stills I'll be posting... but what is even stranger than that is how few Universal Dracula films there were (especially compared to the Frankenstein series)! We'll see how much I can come up with to say about these!

Jon

Classic Collectibles of the Day! DOUBLE POST!

Two for one tonight, to make up for last night!

majormattmason

First up is this super-cool Major Matt Mason playset, with an assortment of figures! I don't think I ever had MMM myself as a kid, but I remember that my younger cousin, J.J., did have a bunch of them... and yes, I thought they were very cool!

Again, I think it's high time Mattel did a reissue of these things!

Now, for a toy that's really old:

rocketride

This battery-powered tin toy is very neat. I've always been a big fan of amusement park rides, and toys of amusement park rides are very cool, too (I was always disappointed that I never got any of the MPC "Zap! Action" model kits based on Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion). I know there's a few scale model kids of some amusement park rides (motors purchased separately) that you can get online from a few places, but there's nothing around like this rocket ride toy!

Jon

Sleep is for the Weak and Childless...

Yes, I was tired last night -- our foster child, T., took forever to get to sleep -- but that's not the case tonight, so there'll be regular posts tonight (maybe even double posts!)!

For more on T. (and another possible child!), check out our "Building Our Family" blog on the linklist!

Jon

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Comic Book Cover of the Day!

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This Avengers cover isn't one of the greatest covers ever, but it does sell the book! I think this was penciled by John Buscema, and inked by brother Sal, but I'm not 100% certain, and don't feel like looking it up right now.

(Yes, it's been another long day here)

This cover is from one of the Avengers glory days runs, when Roy Thomas was writing the book (one of my all-time favorite Avengers runs)!

Jon

Genre Movie Image of the Day: Bride of Frankenstein!

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Here's a scene from "Bride of Frankenstein" -- the Monster's been captured by the townspeople and gets himself all tied down to a chair!

Like that'll hold him for long, right?

Jon

Classic Collectible of the Day!

supermanpocketwatch

I don't know anything about this Superman pocket watch (scanned from one of Les Daniels' DC books), but it sure looks cool, doesn't it?

Jon

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wow, What a Day...

It's been a BUSY day for me, friends, which is why I'm posting such brief comments on our daily features below... but there are a few things aside from that I want to mention:

We received a possible permanent placement foster child today! Read more about it at the "Building Our Family" blog!

What that entry doesn't say is that when I was meeting Jessi at the emergency room of the hospital, I got a call from Filmation Head Honcho Lou Scheimer. I'm pretty sure I'd mentioned that I wrote his assistant an email letting him know that if he's ever being interviewed, and is stuck on some kind of trivial information, that he could feel free to call me and ask me, as my brain's full of this stuff. It was kind of a surprise to get the call from him... unfortunately, the timing wasn't great for me to have an extended conversation with him, as I would've liked to have had (maybe someday, if I ever get my butt down to San Diego for Comicon, I can have that confab in person).

Anyway, I'm trying to wrap things up here tonight so I can head off to bed... and I didn't even mention working late, either!

Jon

Comic Book Cover of the Day!

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It's Comics On Parade #1... how many characters can you identify... and how many of them are still appearing in comics strips these days?

Jon

Genre Movie Image of the Day: Frankenstein!

Here's a classic still of Karloff as the Monster from the first Universal Frankenstein film:

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We're winding down on the Frankenstein posts... only two more left before I start with something different!

Jon

Classic Collectibles of the Day!

supermanlunchboxes

Here's some cool vintage Superman lunchboxes!

Jon

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Classic Collectible of the Day!

supermancamera

Believe it or not, this trick camera was a Superman-related item! It came with three "exposed" Superman pictures... and that's about all I know about it!

What would've been cooler (but probably beyond the technology of the day) would've been if it was a real camera that came with some kind of dial on it that you could rotate to add different poses of Superman (i.e., flying, punching, etc.) to any picture you took... but I can't imagine how they would've dealt with providing enough light to the Superman figure, much less keep it in focus with the rest of the photo, eh?

Jon

Comic Book Cover of the Day!

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Yes, it's another one from the "Cowboys and Indians" files... this time it's Superboy's turn! This early Silver Age cover is quite a bit different from a much later Superman cover (or was it Action?) in which Superman's captured by Native Americans and has apparently lost his powers!

Anyway, I suppose it wouldn't do any good here to mention that I think DC needs to come to a settlement that would allow them to reprint all those Superboy stories, would it?

Jon

Genre Movie Image of the Day: Frankenstein!

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OK, today's Frankenstein Monster post appears to be a publicity shot, probably from Bride of Frankenstein, I'm guessing, as the makeup's different from the first Frankenstein.

Jon

Weekend in Review... and Deadlines!

OK, so it's been a pretty busy weekend, but no news about a child (which is why I haven't pointed you guys towards any posts on the "Building a Family" blog, natch). And this post is going to probably go on and on, as I digress into a different topic completely!

The last few days have been occupied partly with what appears to be the last of the transcriptions I'll be doing for Andy Mangels' BCI/Eclipse DVD projects (at least, there's nothing else set in stone). The work I did was for a nearly three-hour long interview with Lou Scheimer of Filmation, and of course, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Unfortunately, Lou's memory isn't always what it used to be, and sometimes he'd get hung up trying to remember some piece of trivial information to supplement what he's talking about... and practically every time this came up, I'd be looking at the TV and saying, "He played Cannon, Lou! And he was the original Matt Dillon on the radio version of Gunsmoke!" (I'd imagine most of you know already I'm referring to William Conrad)

It did inspire me to shoot off an email to Lou's assistant offering my services at a moment's notice to help out with this trivia stuff for future interviews and the like. I also ended up making the same offer to Reed Kaplan, who did the filming for this last set of interviews... I suppose I should tell Andy the same thing, eh?

There is some more transcription work coming up for print, and not for DVD, by the end of the month, but I'd probably better not say anything about what that's for until it's officially announced (but it is very cool).

When I wasn't furiously typing away, Jessi and I were staying busy... it's been a very warm weekend here in Thurston County, Washington (and specifically, Lacey), and when we went out Saturday morning to take the dogs for an off-leash walk, the heat drained them so much we only went for one lap, not our usual three! Even Krypto was pausing to lay down on the grass as we went, so we cut it short.

Both yesterday and today, Jessi and I went for bike rides. We did a short one last weekend with the kids we were watching, but we went for longer ones yesterday and today. We're not sure how many miles we did on Saturday (Jessi may not have reset the trip odometer on her bike before we started), but today's ride added a few miles at least from yesterday, and we did a little over 10 miles.

If you do a lot of bicycling, that probably doesn't seem like a lot... but considering that we are way out of condition from bicycling, it felt like enough to us! We're trying to build up our endurance again for this summer, and to have our rides get longer and longer.

Jessi's probably all too aware that, to be honest, I don't enjoy bicycling that much. On the other hand, I enjoy getting that exercise more than I'd enjoy, say, going to the gym, because at least I'm not going from workout machine to workout machine and seeing guys who spend way too many hours there looking at me like I'm a complete idiot. Bicycling is a much more democratic form of exercise, if you get my meaning... anyone with a bike can do it, and there's no judging going on at all.

What else has been going on? Jessi did another driving lesson with a friend of hers today, during which time I worked on a Cover Stories column that won't hit the web for eight weeks (and is an all-new theme to the column). I don't suppose by now I have to remind you to check out this week's column today, as a new one comes out every Sunday, do I?

Eight weeks probably seems like a long lead time for this column, but it's a self-enforced thing. I've always been the kind of person who thinks deadlines should never be just met, but beaten! Take for example this recent transcription gig... the deadline was to get it done by early this week, but I finished it Saturday.

When it comes to the advertising work I do at the newspaper, I basically keep plugging away at what there is to do, even going beyond the requirements for each day (for example, on Monday, myself and the co-worker who work the later shift are supposed to finish everything that'll be published for Wednesday)... so long as there are ads to be created, I'll keep working until everything's done, or I'm at the end of my shift.

The closest I ever come to "just" doing something on deadline (at least, when it's my choice as to when it gets worked on) are the blog posts here... I write 'em fresh for you every day -- nothing's done in advance (as it should be with a blog, eh?).

So like I said, I'm currently eight weeks ahead on Cover Stories... and I probably could get away with writing one column a week, and sending it in to webmaster Justin by Thursday or Friday each week... heck, I'd imagine most other web columnists usually get their columns in the day before they'll run (if not sometimes the day they'll run), because things can be turned around quickly, but you know, my column isn't timely by any means (i.e., nothing that happens in the world of comics will affect my columns... unless I make some reference to, say, DC needing to produce a Showcase Presents... volume of, oh, the Doom Patrol, and then it's announced before the column is run, but that's rare).

Actually, what kind of irks me about this tendency to work well ahead of deadlines is that, for most of my 20s and 30s, I was very passionate about trying to break into comics as a writer.

But you know, I never really worked at doing that the right way. Did I ever mention the one San Diego Comic-Con I ever attended? Shooter was still in charge at Marvel at the time, and I talked to him about breaking in to writing, and gave him the typed-up plots I had for a revival of Nova (this well before any of the Nova revivals).

About an hour after I did this, I attended a seminar held by Mark Evanier that told me that I pretty much did everything wrong there... you don't make a first-time pitch to someone at a convention (unless they're soliciting them), and you don't pitch a mini-series or revival, you pitch stories that can be used on existing titles at any time (or something like that, anyway... these days, the rules may well have changed).

Having not heard anything within a reasonable period of time (or so I thought), I went ahead and mailed in an extra set of the plots, and got a form rejection letter, and pretty much gave up on that.

About a year after this, my then-best friend Mark Grochowicz and I started working on our own black-and-white parody comic series, which was partly based on some stuff I'd done back in the early 80s, while I was in high school, but with lots of stuff added to it. I was writing and penciling it, and Mark was supposed to ink and letter it.

Since this was a parody book, I used a cartoony style not dissimilar to Fred Hembeck's style (without the curliques on the elbows and knees). Since I'd had some stuff roughed out before, I first worked out the plots for each issue with breakdowns, and then drew the pages in pencil, handing them off to Mark with the scripts (which was actually written in the breakdowns).

We were both in the Navy at the time, and one long weekend, we even rented a hotel room to work in to get things accomplished.

Strangely... I ended up getting much further ahead on my end of things than Mark got done on his... I think I was working on pencils for issue 3, getting them pretty much done, while Mark was still working on inking and lettering the first issue! Then again, speed was never really Mark's thing.

After getting out of the Navy, we (along with another friend of ours, Henry Elling, who wasn't in the Navy) decided that maybe what we should do to break into comics was to self-publish our own line of superheroes, which we'd been working on for many years, even before the humor thing (long-time readers likely remember seeing some of the stuff we worked on way back a thousand or so posts back).

But first we had to finance this... which we were going to do by selling comics at conventions. There was a big problem with this, in that I had about 20 times more books to sell than my friends did... and we could never come to some kind of agreement as to how we were going to deal with all that, partnership-wise.

We ended up selling comics at one convention... after that, I was pretty much fed up with feeling like I was contributing the vast majority of the "funding" for this, and yet my "partners" were feeling like they should have equal voice in things.

The moral of that story is, don't do business with friends -- at least if your friends aren't willing to commit as deeply as you are!

Where was I? Oh, yeah... wow, this is a rambling post, isn't it? After this experience, I ended up doing the comic show selling on my own (with brother Jeff helping me out when he could), and expanded into buying and selling at toy shows, too. Unfortunately, I kind of lost my way as to why I was doing this in the first place, and didn't set aside any of that money.

So... during all this time, I was still working on my own characters, but since then, I've realized that even if I could finance my own comics company, I would be a complete idiot to start a comics line with superheroes, because everyone does that, and there's no point to trying to break into that specific market when DC and Marvel have such a grip on it.

On the other hand, starting with genres that aren't so covered in comics would be the way I'd go, assuming I had the money go start it.

But I'm getting way, way off track here (and I knew it going into this, so please bear with me just a bit longer!). How many times have we seen comics coming out late -- even very, very late -- because someone couldn't make their deadlines? OK, I have heard that the artists get the blame for most of the deadlines being blown... but really, is there any excuse for not keeping up with the deadlines for comics?

Assuming I could ever get hired to write comics (and I have to admit, part of the reason I started this blog was hoping to be somehow "discovered" by some publisher looking for new writers, as unlikely as that is), I would want the deadlines planned out so far ahead that there wouldn't be any issues shipping late on the creative team's account... Let's say that my plots/scripts would be required five months before the publication date (this may be way off, from the way the industry's been going lately)... I'd probably at least get the first one done and sent to the artist a month or two before that, and keep working ahead as much as possible! Hopefully, I'd be able to find an artist to work with who would feel the same about deadlines, too... Ideally, the first issue should be completely done and ready for the printer before it was solicited -- plus we'd have a handle on how long the artist, inker, letterer and colorist need to work on the book, too.

So... have I actually made any point whatsoever in all this? In case I didn't... I'll try to be succinct (for a change in this post): If I could've ever broken into comics as a writer, I'd never be responsible for a Dreaded Deadline Doom... that would be something my editor would never have to worry about!

But one of these days, I should really just start writing some comics scripts, just to ensure that I would be able to keep going month after month... (and I would definitely make sure that each issue had a satisfying beginning, middle and end, even if it was part of a multi-issue story... as well as have some done-in-ones, too).

I'll probably write more about this in the near future, so you've been warned!

Jon