I wish I could explain how my brain works because frankly it’s inner workings are a mystery to even me. Perhaps it’s just a symptom of my ADHD driven obsessive-compulsive nature but I tend to get “over fascinated” (which is probably the most polite thing you could call it) with certain things. For example, Henry Brewster, a short-lived teen comic from 1966 drawn (and presumably written) by Golden Age artist Bob Powell, a.k.a. Stanley Robert Pawlowski. Powell is know for his work on Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, Mr. Mystic and the Mars Attack cards and while those credits clearly show he was an incredibly versatile artist seeing him do teen comics is still a little strange, not to mention a bit unsettling. These comics are are drawn in a distinctive loose, scratchy style, which would make these comics oddball enough but Henry(no relation to Punky) Brewster is plenty peculiar in a lot of other ways.
First off there’s the format; a 25 cent, bimonthly comic of entirely original material (which they should have made much more of; for once a cover banner reading No Reprints wouldn’t have been out of place) just seems kind of ambitious for a neophyte publisher like Myron Frass’s M.F. Enterprises Especially seeing as how it’s only other title was much maligned (for good reason) even shorter-lived version of Captain Marvel – the android version who could dissect himself by yelling “Split!” .
Then there’s the fact Henry Brewster wasn’t yet another pressing from the well worn Archie Comics template. The cast consisted of standard All-American boy Henry, the super strong and literally soft spoken (his dialogue was always lettered at roughly half the size of everyone else’s) Animal, professional weirdo Weenie and “the girls”, who were sadly mostly easily defined by their hair color, prematurely silver haired rich girl Melody and dark haired girl next door Debbie, Though Melody did develop some depth over the course of the series; in #1 she coldly rejects the hapless, love struck Weenie so often”Go away!” threatens to become her catch phrase, but by #6 she actually appears to be going out with him (or at least willing to be seen holding his, ew, hand). Which is odd seeing as how along with being a hardcore goofball who sometimes seems like he’s stolen an middle schoolers clothes as drawn Weenie is grotesque he could easily be a background character in a Gilbert HerandezLove & Rockets story.
While the adults in Archie Comics were frequently spectacularly exasperated to the point of hair pulling by the Riverdale Gangs innocent antics grown ups in Henry Brewster instinctively get that Henry and company were basically good kids who just wanted to be helpful. But after more or less ignoring anything specifically 1960′s (except for a story in #1 where the gang gets into a Beatles analog band called “The Baldies” which leads them, including some of the girls, to shave their heads, placing them several decades ahead of their time) this issue gets hip deep into super secret agents and supervillains.
Admittedly this was what got me over fascinated in Henry Brewster – that and it’s cover. I mean, seriously, what the hell is that thing standing behind Henry supposed to be? Some kind of African cat god? An extraterrestrial bent on world domination? I had absolutely no clue and ached to know, though I knew in my heart that chances were I’d never get to read it. But then I didn’t reckon with the internet; almost all things are possible with the internet.
Before they get to the super spies and villains the gang has a positively Scooby Dooesque encounter in a haunted house. But here the mysterious figure isn’t trying to scare them off because he’s searching for hidden treasure or running a counterfeiting ring out of it’s basement but just some poor schlub testing amusement for a spook house. Though instead of wearing a creepy rubber mask for some reason he decides to dress like a minor league pre-1965 Marvel villain.
And here the gang gets involved in 60′s style super spy stuff…
And finally they face an actual supervillain, well, kind of a supervillain, a broad parody of a TV Batman villain anyway. One Tome B. Bukwurm.
He’s…well, I don’t properly know exactly what he’s supposed to be. Is he a mole man (one crossed with Professor Kelp from The Nutty Professor) or just a guy dressed up like a mole man? Albeit a mole man dressed in a Transylvanian space outfit for a showing of The Rocky Horror Show. And that goes double for his henches, who look like mole man members of The Rat Pack? Are they a crime gang or do they represent an incursion by a race of subterranean creatures bent on world domination? After all that anticipation I was frankly disappointed by Bukwurm’s unnecessarily exaggerated goofiness, making me wish even harder that the creature on the cover actually appeared in the comic. Which is only when it finally occurred to me…
Bukwurmis the creature on the cover! As the saying goes, if it had been a snake it would have bit me. But this raises even more questions. Is it suppose to be one of those ‘symbolic’ covers or did Powell forget what the character was originally supposed to look like, or did he change his mind about his appearance after the cover was drawn?
And finally, here’s a couple more stories without any fantastic elements that manage to be quite a bit of fun.
By now you’ve probably seen Guardians of the Galaxy. I haven’t seen it yet; I’m going tonight. So please, no spoilers.
The film features, among others, Rocket Raccoon who is sort of a cross between Rocket J. Squirrel (without Bullwinkle) and Rocky Raccoon. Today we’re presenting another version of the popular song that inspired the character. It’s very different from last week’s and I think you’ll dig it the most to say the least.
Meanwhile, I hear that the film is doing very well with both critics and audiences. That’s a big victory since the Guardians are kind of a hodge-podge of Marvel characters with nowhere near the fan following of Spider-Man or the X-Men. Kudos!
Click the link below and sing along. You know the words!
It’s this Friday, people! The day we’ve waited months for. Years? I’ve lost count. Yes, Friday is the day that Guardians of the Galaxy opens at a theater near you. Never has a comic book movie been so eagerly anticipated. And never has there been one based on a less popular title. I mean, compared to Batman or Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy is an also-ran. It’s not like fans have been clamoring for a movie based on this fairly recent cast of characters. It’s not like Captain America, most of whose fans died of old age before the movie came out. The Guardians have their roots (I’m referring to Groot) in decades-old comics, but this grouping is relatively new to the Marvel Universe, not to mention the Marvel Galaxy. And maybe that’s what makes it great.
For one thing, there are no beloved characters to ruin, no classic continuity to be ignored, no favorite stories to be mishandled. If Marvel Studios screws this up, who cares? On the other hand, if it’s as big a hit as I think it will be, it’s an instant franchise without any of the baggage of X-Men or Fantastic Four. It’s win-win!
To commemorate the occasion here’s a song about Rocket Raccoon, one of the stars of the film. This is an obscure cover version. I forget who recorded the original.
Click to enlarge this way-cool poster.
This is how Star-Lord looked before his makeover.
Click to see this even bigger.
Click the link below and get in the mood for Guardians of the Galaxy!
I like Space Ghost. There, I said it! As a kid I was instinctively drawn to it, long before I knew the character was designed by the late, great Alex Toth. When they started re-purposing the old artwork and making a joke out of Space Ghost I was not amused. What’s so funny about a ghost who flies through space with a couple of kids and a monkey? They act like it’s something silly to be mocked and made fun of.
So let’s forget the goofy spoofy Space Ghost and remember the original. The cool costume. The cool name! Geez, what’s more exciting to a 10-year-old boy than a show called “Space Ghost”? Pretend you’re 10 and enjoy this classic theme music.
It’s been a long time since we’ve given a shameless plug to Yoe Books, our gracious hosts here at the I.T.C.H. blog. Publishers of many fine books – both hardcover and comic type – Yoe Books has consistently delivered excellent comics, beautifully packaged and lovingly presented. It’s one thing to release a nice book now and then, but Yoe has a trio of titles that are published on a regular on-going basis: Haunted Horror, Weird Love, and today’s featured series, Classic Popeye.
If you’ve never read Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye stories, you’re in for a real treat. These classic comics from the 1950’s are now extremely affordable (and in mint condition!) thanks to the Yoe Books reprint series.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Tuesday without a song. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Popeye’s long-time gal pal Olive Oyl.
Click to enlarge.
Click the link below and enjoy!
NEWS FLASH! In more than seven years (okay, let’s call it eight) that I’ve been blogging on the I.T.C.H., this is the first time it’s happened – I made a mistake! I guess there’s a first time for everything. I accidentally used the same record twice! Can you forgive me? Yes, the Olive Oyl song I presented above already appeared back on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 (click here if you don’t believe me).
So to make up for the twice-used tune here’s one you probably haven’t heard before. And you’ll probably wish you hadn’t.
As previously established I’ve always been intrigued by Garth, the UK’s newspaper plainclothes lowercase superman. So far I’ve mostly only been able to read the later more grownup Frank Bellamy version but thanks to the Atlas reprints from Australia I’ve had a chance to see the work of original artist John Allard. Although frequently compared to Superman (though I’ve always thought he owed more to a pre-Time Top Brick Bradford) Allard always sited Terry and the Pirates as being more of an influence on the strip and, boy, can you see that in The Quest for the Q Ray.
It’s a rollicking Boys Own Adventure full of a lost cities and master criminals, supercomputers and of course, the titular Q Ray. It’s painfully old-fashioned, in the best way possible.
Sometimes I like to spotlight a song with a timely tie-in, such as a record associated with a new movie that’s in theaters or an anniversary of some kind. Other times I just randomly select a comics character or a comics tune for no good reason. This is one of those times.
Way back on February 15th, 2006, we began a feature on this very blog called “Wacky Wonder Woman Wednesday.” Each week (on Wednesday, natch) we presented a different image of Wonder Woman. Some were super, some were sexy, and some were silly, but all of them were Wonderful. It was one of the most popular features on the ol’ I.T.C.H. You can navigate to past Wednesdays by clicking on the link in the right-hand column.
I thought it would be fun to showcase a few of these Wonder Woman pictures on a Comics Tunes TUESDAY along with a song. See if you agree.
If you cross your eyes you can see Linda Carter in 3D! (Click to enlarge.)
I am not much one for Westerns; life in the Wild West always seemed like the worst possible combination of camping and gym, which seemed like a nightmarish hellscape to a fat kid like me. Oh, I’m not made of stone. Some of my favorite movies (Cat Balou, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, etc.) and TV shows (Maverick, Wild, Wild West, etc.) are westerns. But when it comes to comics, I’m pretty much ‘meh’ on the genre. But in years past while idly leaving through the Overstreet Price Guide I would find myself staring wistfully at the beautifully painted covers of Kid Cowboy, a Ziff-Davis series that ran for ten issues between 1950 and 1952. But it wasn’t just the covers; I have to admit I was intrigued by both the kid’s snazzy cowboy outfit and the comic’s title; Kid Cowboy is without question a strong contender for “Most On The Nose” title for a comic. And it’s sub-title, “Boy Marvel of the Wild West!” was no slouch either. It was one of those comics I dreamily dreamed about one day reading, never really believing I’d ever get the chance.
The Kid dresses like Gene Autrey and shoots like The Lone Ranger and has one of those ”raised by Indians” origins that were fairly common back in the day. Being a white guy I can’t say for certain but the stories do a fairly good job of depicting Indian life, or at least go out off their way to show that Native Americans weren’t backward savages. Along with his
and the stories do a fairly good job of depicting Indian life (being a white guy I can not say for certain, but at the very least the stories go out of their way to show Indians weren’t backward savages). Along with his childhood chum Red Feather without benefit of either agency or visible means of support The Kid just went around helping people, the way cowboys only did in the pages of fiction. Standard stuff, yes, but once you get past the John Buscema (!) cover of #1 you really can’t complain about the contents by Ogden Whitney and Bob Brown.
I went to see Jersey Boys the other day. As you know, it’s the story of the Four Seasons and the way they had mob connections despite living in New Jersey. Good film. But with today’s movie ticket prices it was an expensive two hours and 14 minutes worth of entertainment. If only there were a way to make it tax deductible…
Then I realized, one of the songs in the film was about a comic book character! I can deduct it as a research expense.
Now the IRS might question the fact that “Rag Doll” was a song about Raggedy Ann + Andy, the stars of their own comic book series (as well as being childhood icons). Can I prove that Bob Gaudio was inspired by these famous rag dolls? Can you prove he wasn’t? If the name of the group came from a bowling alley and the inspiration for “Big Girls Don’t Cry” came from a bit of movie dialogue, then “Rag Doll” was about Raggedy Ann. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Now if you’re finished asking questions, let’s move on to a cover gallery and a great song by Frankie and the boys.
Click the link below and sing along in your best falsetto!
We tend to think that after the publisher Archie published the character Archie their output was all teen comedy for the next fifty years when nothing could be further from the truth. Most enlightened comic book guys have at least heard of some of their lesser known entries in other genres, likeSuper Duck, Cosmo the Merry Martian, The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters, etc. But when it comes to the obscure it’s hard to beat 1950′s Adventures of the Dover Boys. It was a one-shot trial balloon for an adventure series in the “boy adventurer” genre and concerned the Dover twins Tim and Dan and their search for Aztec treasure with their Uncle Bill. It borrows heavily from such boys novel series as The Hardy Boys (the title of course being a play on The Rover Boys series) and radio serials like Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy (which was still airing in 1950). It’s fun stuff and shows the serious style of Archie artist Harry Lucey (better known for drawing Sam Hill, Private Eye for the publisher) to good advantage. I have no idea why Archie hesitated from launching the Dover Boy as a full series– the final panel is a plea to readers to write in if they wanted to see more, and apparently not enough did.
*Due disclosure compels me to reveal that in my youth with artist Scott Bieser I created a comic book series called The Rovers the title of which was also inspired by The Rover Boys. If I ever get my crap together I may just post one of those comics here, but that’s not where the smart money would be.