Monday, April 20, 2009

This Fan Finds IT'S A FANZINE 50 Fine Reading!!!

Gene Kehoe has published a new issue of his venerable IT'S A FANZINE, which is nifty at issue # 50!!!
Gene has packed this 723 page package with more material than is usually found in three zines of this type, from coverage of the career of Steve Ditko to a reprinted conversation between Jerry Bails, Biljo White and Howard Keltner to an article, with classic material, about SCRIBBLY & THE RED TORNADO. and so much more.
This little magazne is a bargain, postage paid in the US, for $5.00, from Gene Kehoe.
e-mail Gene at


for more info.
Gene will take a check or Paypal.

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Well, it has really become an annual tradition!!!
Here in the US,and elsewhere, the first weekend of May is FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, in which participating comic book specialty shops all around the world can get free comic books to pass out to their customers.
I love this, and it is a wonderful way to attract new customers and develop new audiences for comic books, when so much of unused potential for getting new readers is wasted.

I will be dropping by the shop my buddy Steve owns, in Waltham, MA:


In a brand new location, at 437 Moody Street, Waltham, MA!!!

Here is a link to visit, maybe you will visit the shop near you!!!

Here also is a partial list of participating retailers, from Diamond Comics Distributors FCBD website:

Alakazam! Comics
Atomic Comics (Arizona)
Cape (Dallas, TX.)
Captain Blue Hen (Newark, DE)
Chatuaqua Comics (New York)
Chucks Comics (Essex, MD)
Comic Book Ink (Tacoma, WA)
Comic Cubicle (Virginia)
Comic Fusion (New Jersey)
Comic Quest (Evansville IN)
Comics Cave (GREECE)
Comics Kingdom (Baltimore, MD)
Comics, Legends and Heroes (Arizona)
Earthworld Comics (Albany, NY)
Happy Harbor (Edmonton, AB)
Hobby Centre (Ottawa, ON, CANADA)
House of Heroes (Torrance, CA)
Krypton Comics (Omaha Nebraska)
Neptune Comics (Waukesha WI)
Rays Mini Video & Comics & VideoRays-ComicEmporium1
Readers Den Comic Shop (South Africa)
Richard's Comics and Collectibles (Greenville, SC)
Rookies Sportcards Plus (Phoenix, AZ)
Samurai Comics (Phoenix, AZ)
SpazDog Comics (Arizona)
Strange Adventures (Halifax, NS)
The Silver Snail (Toronto, ON )

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Currently, as I noted in Part One of this series, we are enjoying yet another chance to revisit THE SPIRIT, and Mr. Eisner's work is available more widely now than ever before.
DC COMICS has issued a terrific action figure of THE SPIRIT, as well as a beautiful cold-cast resin statue, and a smaller statue, a bust, and is keeping their beautiful series of THE SPIRIT ARCHIVES, chronological reprints of the original stories, in color hardcovers in print.
DC also issued a very nice book, THE WILL EISNER COMPANION, a very nice guide for both veteran Eisnerites and novice fans of the cartoonist.
Other publishers such as NBM, DARK HORSE COMICS, and WW NORTON have also gotten involved, producing good editions of such works as MOBY DICK, THE PRINCESS & THE FROG, and DON QUIXOTE (NBM), LAST DAY IN VIET NAM (DARK HORSE), and THE CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY (WW NORTON).
Mr. Eisner's own company, POORHOUSE PRESS, has been keeping his various books, such as SEQUENTIAL ART, in print as well.
After Mr. Eisner's death, COMIC BOOK ARTIST magazine, with it's editor, Jon B. Cooke, issued a gorgeous tribute to Will, featuring touching reminiscences and new artwork, provided by friends, peers, and fans of the comics giant. Cooke has also made a film about Eisner, which has just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, but more on that later.
ALTER EGO magazine, edited by long-time comic book writer, and early comics fandom co-founder, Roy Thomas, also put out a nice Eisner tribute, which is naturally a must for all serious comics enthusiasts.
Also as noted before, WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT, from DC COMICS, is a new comic book that is written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke, with J. Bone, and it is beautiful, and noted cartoonist Kyle Baker has also gotten involved with the title, for a forthcoming issue that I expect to be as good as Cooke's.
THE SPIRIT has even teamed up with THE BATMAN, in a recent DC COMICS "one-shot".
Do you think we are at the end of this series?
Well, we aren't, so, please join us soon for Part IV, in which we will look at other elements of Mr. Eisner's career...


Following the gorgeous run of WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT, in magazine format, from Kitchen Sink Press, there were other nice packagings of Eisner's THE SPIRIT from Kitchen.
A regular comic book format ran for a good long time, there was a run of quality reprints on stiff, coated paper, also in comic book size, but with a larger page count, as well as lovely coffee table books, such as THE ART OF WILL EISNER, and THE SPIRIT COLOR TREASURY, among others.
Those years also saw trade paperback albums of THE SPIRIT from Kitchen, including a lovely collection of Eisner's Holiday-themed stories, quite naturally called THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.
Kitchen also produced a wonderful picture disc musical record of "Ev'ry Little Bug", a song from THE SPIRIT in the 1940's. The disc came in a clear plastic sleeve so the beautiful artwork is easily seen, plus an illustrated lyric sheet.
California publisher Collector's Press published an exquisite color portfolio, in an astounding hard-covered, linen-draped edition. This item, from Richard Pryor, no, not the famous comedian, is pretty rare these days, but one can find it up for auction from time to time.
Kitchen Sink also issued some portfolios of Eisner's material, generally dealing with non-SPIRIT thems, but Kitchen also put out a SPIRIT mask, which is quite a collector's item.
Another quality manufacturer of comic book related items, GRAPHITTI DESIGNS, produced a full color, tin-litho lunch box of THE SPIRIT, which is also very wonderful in it's own nostalgic way.
GRAPHITTI also issued a number of beautiful t-shirts with THE SPIRIT on them, in a durable, rubberized design, but, please turn the art to the inside before you launder yours.
You can also find various pinback buttons of THE SPIRIT and company, but you have to look hard, and, be careful, not all such products are authorized.
There was even a pilot movie for a television series of THE SPIRIT during the late 1980's, on ABC TV, which, despite some beautiful Eisner drawings in the opening sequences, and a "game" cast consisting of Sam J. Jones, who had once played FLASH GORDON, and lovely Melody Anderson and character actor Gary Walberg just did not find a spot on the Fall television schedule.
Rumors continue to persist of various other SPIRIT film projects, though, and there is a quick homage to THE SPIRIT in the great animated cartoon feature THE IRON GIANT, a movie I cannot recommend heartily enough.
Kitchen also printed the "SPIRIT JAM", featuring a number of other cartoonists drawing THE SPIRIT in one long story, in book format, providing a longer life for a story that had originally run in the Kitchen WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT magazine.
Kitchen also gave fans a new run of stories in WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT: THE NEW ADVENTURES, which, written and drawn by other talented individuals, did not last long.
Sadly, Denis Kitchen's operation apparently fell victim to indifferent attitudes of a supposed cash-flow curing deal with a new partner that Kitchen later entered into.
Despite his issuing novelty items like chocolate bars in nostalgic style wrappers and boxes featuring drawings of work of other characters, Denis Kitchen, as publisher of THE SPIRIT gave up the, er, ghost...
But all was not lost...
to be continued...

Friday, April 20, 2007



All pictures posted here have been published under the "fair use" act, and are (c) copyright by their respective copyright holders.

TEEN REX from BIG BANG COMICS Wrecks My Theory!!!

In part one of my article about ARCHIE COMICS I mention the passing of most of the teen titles from the comic book racks.
In reply, a very talented cartoonist, and a friend of mine via internet for some years, Joe Zierman, sent me copies of BIG BANG PRESENTS #5, which contains not one, but two artistic tributes to Jack Kirby, one of the great comic book cartoonists of history.
Mr. Kirby passed away in 1994.
TEEN REX and THE BADGE, the featurette that rounds out the issue, are loving re-creations of two phases of work by Kirby, approximating, in close detail, Kirby's work on KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH (DC COMICS) and also evoking similar memories, of Kirby's DEVIL DINOSAUR (MARVEL COMICS), from the 1970's (first phase of recreation here), and Kirby's work with his then partner, Joe Simon, on the "Superman/DC" published work "The Sandman" and "Manhunter", from the 1940's.
I put the last two series titles in quotation marks as they were not eponymous features, and listed the publisher for them as "Superman/DC", as that company was generally known as "DC/National" at that time, unlike today, when we call them DC COMICS, and then, when SUPERMAN was "probably" their best-known character.
In any case, I wholeheartedly recommend BIG BANG PRESENTS #5, featuring TEEN REX, to comic book enthusiasts of all ages.
It is a real window to comic book history, allowing newer comic book readers to see what us old-timers love about Jack kirby drawn comic books, and allowing us old-timers to take a stroll down memory lane.
No mistakes that I know of to report right here, Joe and his collaborator, writer Gary Carlson, did not make any!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


The late Will Eisner, a true genius, passed away in 2005, but his books are enjoying a renaissance, and Eisner will "live forever", because, THE SPIRIT WAS WILLING!!!
This article should serve as but a small monument to the memory of Will Eisner, a cartoonist, writer, educator, and painter, who stands in a very small class of brilliant individuals who took a large journey in the world of comic books.
This article, in multiple parts, will discuss Eisner's most fanous works, and their current availability, in what I believe is a long period that will ensure that Will and his creations never be forgotten.
Here We Go!!!
After a long period of research, with Will Eisner, and Eisner's wife, Ann, historian Bob Andelman wrote a biography, "Will Eisner: A Spirited Life" that is currently available, and there are many volumes currently available, from DC COMICS, of THE SPIRIT ARCHIVES, featuring Will Eisner's most famous creation, THE SPIRIT, a masked crimefighter who has been around since June, 1940. Created by Eisner for a "comic book section", produced for insertion in Sunday newspapers, THE SPIRIT was an immediate hit, and appeared with two other features, LADY LUCK and MR. MYSTIC, by Klaus Nordling, and Bob Powell, repectively. The section, which was developed to compete with the comic books that were effectively "flying off of the newstands" showed up in the papers from coast-to-coast, and caame to be called THE SPIRIT SECTION by many.
These books are gorgeous and 22 have been published, that is, Volume 22 will appear soon. and I believe that there will be 25 for the initial grouping of original SPIRIT story reprints, but there may also be additional volumes that will reprint other SPIRIT material to round out the original material, which would include special stories done after 1952, when the first life of the character ended. While many other cartoonists assisted Eisner on the feature, drew it while Eisner served in World war II, or, like the great Wallace Wood,gave it a unique, individual, distinctly non-Eisner look in the early 1950's. Eisner's other surrogates and assistants included the brilliant Lou Fine, a gifted comic book and comic strip illustrator, and Alex Kotzky, the cartoonist behind APARTMENT 3-G, fanous comic book journeyman cartoonist Bob Powell, and many others.
Today,various "graphic novels", including a number of them that have recently been reprinted, of non-SPIRIT work by Eisner are also available from the bookstores now, including THE CONTRACT WITH GOD TRILOGY, FAGIN THE JEW, and others. Three different publishers, including DC COMICS, WW NORTON, and DARK HORSE COMICS are currently keeping Eisner work, both SPIRIT and non-SPIRIT items, in print.
DC COMICS is also publishing new stories of THE SPIRIT, most of which are written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke, a gifted animator and cartoonist, who produces these new works as a loving tribute to Eisner's original series.
Getting back to the past, after the end of the original life of THE SPIRIT, Eisner began work developing comics as an educational tool, mainly for the US Armed Forces, writing, drawing, and packaging for the US Army's preventive maintenance magazine, PS, for which Eisner drew some racy and fun comics that also contained discussions of how to keep the equipment in first-class working order.
The early 1960's saw THE SPIRIT make a comeback of sorts, courtesy of the so-called "IW REPRINTS", which were comic book stories from the past, re-published, and with new covers, some by the great Joe Simon, and published by Israel Waldman, hence the "IW" name for these comic books.
Later on in the 1960's, Harvey Comics issued two lovely collections of THE SPIRIT, combining some old stories with new covers by Eisner, and some great, new, humorous SPIRIT fillers, also by Eisner.
These two issues, published in 1966 and 1967, respectively, unless I am mistaken, are what began my long fascination with Eisner and his work.
I was fortunate enough to travel by airplane to Florida, unaccompanied by any adults (!!!) to visit my grandparents in 1967, at the tender age of nine, when I discovered the Harvey Comics THE SPIRIT, issue #2, at the newsstand at Logan International Airport, in Boston, MA.
It took me a long time to obtain a copy of #1, but I finally did, and I really treasure these two comic books.
A few years later, my mother bought me a copy of the wonderful book, THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES, by Jules Feiffer, himself a former Eisner-assistant-writer-collaborator, that featured a fabulous essay by Feiffer on the book's title subject, and, lo and behold, THE SPIRIT, in a story that was not contained in the Harvey Comics issues!!!
Cartoonist Jim Steranko, who had a very short, but illustrious, career at MARVEL COMICS, issued THE STERANKO HISTORY OF COMICS around 1970, which contained some wonderful information and artwork related to Eisner and THE SPIRIT, including historical background on Eisner in that section, as wel as work by Lou Fine, Eisner's replacement for some SPIRIT strips during the 1940's.
The 1970's brought about the appearance of more new SPIRIT material, including reprints of the old SPIRIT SECTIONS, in black & white and in limited release, which are now very difficult to find. Later, some new, now rare, "underground" issues of THE SPIRIT, that contain old SPIRIT classics, plus some new, more adult work, that includes a bit of nudity and some sexual innuendo. These "undergrounds" were published by Denis Kitchen, and marked what was about to be a true revival of the character.
James Warren, publisher of some magazines that contained some elegant and atmospheric horror and mystery stories (CREEPY and EERIE), plus a sexy female vampire series (VAMPIRELLA) then arranged with Eisner that THE SPIRIT be published in a new, magazine size series of reprints that would include new Eisner covers. These ran only for 17 issues, I hope that's correct, it may be 16, including some issues with color, and an all-color THE SPIRIT SPECIAL.
Around this time Eisner taught cartooning in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, this led to the publication of a brand-new SPIRIT story, called, "The Invader", in a large, elegant color format, with the drawing only on one side of each page, that some of the students of the course published.
THE SPIRIT COLORING BOOK, which featured large "splash" pages from the openings of SPIRIT stories also came out, as well as Eisner's cartoon books, "The Gleeful Guides", which were devoted to such diverse topics as "occult cookery" and "how to avoid taxes and live forever", plus Eisner's 1001 OUTER SPACE JOKES.
Just at the end of the Warren Magazines run of THE SPIRIT, Denis Kitchen, who had published the "underground" SPIRIT comic books, took over as publisher of THE SPIRIT, in a similar, but nicer format, than what Warren had put out. These ran on a quarterly basis and contained interviews by Eisner, of other cartonists, including greats like Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, which have since beem reprinted, in a bok called SHOP TALK.
These issues, as published by KITCHEN SINK PRESS, had beautiful new covers by Eisner, and were printed on beautiful, white paper stock.
Sad to say, they did not last...

to be continued