Bhob Stewart (1937-2014)

Against the Grain_Mad Artist Wallace Wood edited by Bhob StewartArtist, writer, editor and fanzine fan Bhob Stewart, died February 24. He was 76, and had struggled with emphysema for 35 years.

Stewart’s The EC Fan Bulletin was one of the earliest comics fanzines, first appearing in 1953. He was art director for Xero, Dick and Pat Lupoff’s Hugo-winning fanzine published from 1960-1963.

A few years ago Bhob explained for File 770’s readers how he got the “h” in his first name

When I was in college I did a weekly cartoon for the campus newspaper. One day I decided to change my signature on the cartoons. I recalled the fannish “h” and added it in my signature. When I later did fanzine drawings in 1960, the NY fans just began using the signature as my name.

Stewart came from Kirbyville, Texas, and later lived in Missouri and New York.

Working in New York’s comix scene in the late Sixties, Stewart succeeded Vaughn Bodé as co-editor of Gothic Blimp Works, beginning with #3 which sported an R. Crumb cover.

And he is credited for coining the term “underground comics” while on a panel at a 1966 comics convention.

He wrote comics for Byron Preiss, Marvel, Warren, Charlton, and Heavy Metal, and edited and designed magazines Castle of Frankenstein and Flashback.

GreenChant1Bhob Stewart devised Wacky Packages and other humor products for Topps.

He wrote the book Scream Queens with Calvin Beck (1978). He helped Bill Gaines select stories for The EC Horror Library of the 1950s (1971), edited Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (2003) and the Mad Style Guide (1994).

From 2005 until late last year he posted regularly on his blog Potrzebie about his experiences in the field, such as time time he helped Wally Wood knock out an issue of Jungle Jim in 48 hours.

Juggling jobs and temporarily minus his regular assistant, Ralph Reese, Wally Wood faced a sudden two-week deadline on a Jungle Jim comic book for King Comics. Nothing had been done. His solution to the problem, I was told, began with me. I was to write three Jungle Jim stories in two days, he told me. In 15 minutes, he outlined how to do it: Draw roughs on typing paper, begin each story in the middle of an action situation, write as few captions as possible (so the pictures tell the story) and use conventional panel layouts rather than sprawling, tricky page designs.

With no time to research the original Alex Raymond characters, I resorted to a near-satiric approach based on a hazy, half-buried recollection of the early 1950s Johnny Weissmuller Jungle Jim film series…

[Thanks to Bill Warren for the story.]

Richard Battin (1925-2014)

Richard Battin, who developed and led the design of the guidance, navigation, and control systems for the Apollo flights, died February 8 at the age of 89.

“Dick literally wrote the book for much of the algorithm wok in the field and guidance and control,” Jim Shields, president and chief executive of Draper Laboratories, told a Boston Globe correspondent. The AIAA’s obituary adds —

Battin was noted for his teaching abilities… Three of the Apollo astronauts were his graduate students. To honor his teaching abilities, the students of MIT’s Aeronautics and Astronautics Department honored Battin with their first Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1981.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock for the story.]

Harold Ramis (1944-2014)

harold-ramis-talks-ghostbusters-3-00Harold Ramis, screenwriter and director, died February 24 from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. He was 69.

Ramis wrote four of the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies: Ghostbusters (1984) at #28, Groundhog Day (1993) at #34, Animal House (1978) at #36 and Caddyshack (1980) at #71.

He acted in 19 movies, his best known role being that of Dr. Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters and its sequel. He also directed 11 feature films.

Several of his most memorable projects featured actor Bill Murray. However Ramis said in an interview that his working relationship with actor Bill Murray ended while they were filming Groundhog Day, which Ramis wrote and directed. They had differing views on what the film should be about — Murray wanted it to be more philosophical, Ramis wanted it to be a comedy.

Kickstarter Funds Comic-Con Book

Alan Moore and Jack Kirby in 1985.

Alan Moore and Jack Kirby in 1985.

Jackie Estrada needed $18,000 of pledges to publish Comic Book People, a hardcover photo tribute to 40 years of Comic-Con. Her Kickstarter appeal was a complete success – by yesterday she’d received $28,360 in pledges from 438 backers.

Estrada has been taking photos at comic book conventions for decades. Comic Book People will publish 600 shots of comic creators and other notables from the 1970s and 1980s. Most will be in black-and-white, but there will be a 16 page color section.

Here are just a few of the people she plans to include:

Golden and Silver Age greats like Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Carl Barks, Bob Kane, Harvey Kurtzman, C. C. Beck, Murphy Anderson, Jules Feiffer, Gardner Fox, L. B. Cole, Alex Schomburg, Mike Sekowsky, Curt Swan, Jack Katz, Joe Kubert, John Romita, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Bill Woggon, [and] Wally Wood…

SF & fantasy authors, such as the great Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Leigh Brackett, George R. R. Martin, Theodore Sturgeon, Clive Barker, Douglas Adams, Larry Niven, Walter Gibson, Jerry Pournelle, and many more…

Her goal is to have the 160-page book ready for Comic-Con this July.

Robert M. Fresco (1930-2014)

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Robert M. Fresco died February 14 of cancer at the age of 83.

He began his career as a screenwriter on pictures like Tarantula (1955), and The Monolith Monsters (1957), The Alligator People (1959).

Fresco and his co-producer, Denis Sanders, won an Academy Award in 1969 for the short documentary Czechoslovakia 1968 which explored the background of the Prague uprising of 1968.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

2013 Bram Stoker Awards Final Ballot

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has released the Final Ballot for the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards. Voting members of HWA have until March 31 to make their selections. The winners will be announced at the World Horror Convention in Portland, OR on May 10.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Joe Hill – NOS4A2 (William Morrow)
Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)
Lisa Morton – Malediction (Evil Jester Press)
Sarah Pinborough and F. Paul Wilson – A Necessary End (Thunderstorm/Maelstrom Press)
Christopher Rice – The Heavens Rise (Gallery Books)

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Kate Jonez – Candy House (Evil Jester Press)
John Mantooth – The Year of the Storm (Berkley Trade)
Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)
Jonathan Moore – Redheads (Samhain Publishing)
Royce Prouty – Stoker’s Manuscript (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Patrick Freivald – Special Dead (JournalStone)
Kami Garcia – Unbreakable (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Geoffrey Girard – Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)
Cat Winters – In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Harry N. Abrams)

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Ed Brubaker – Fatale Book Three: West of Hell (Image Comics)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)
Brandon Seifert – Witch Doctor, Vol. 2: Mal Practice (Image Comics)
Cameron Stewart – Sin Titulo (Dark Horse Comics)
Paul Tobin – Colder (Dark Horse Comics)

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Dale Bailey – “The Bluehole” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2013)
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Benjamin K. Ethridge – “The Slaughter Man” (Limbus, Inc., JournalStone)
Gregory Frost – “No Others Are Genuine” (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2013)
Greg F. Gifune – House of Rain (DarkFuse)
Rena Mason – East End Girls (JournalStone)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Michael Bailey – “Primal Tongue” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
Patrick Freivald – “Snapshot” (Blood & Roses, Scarlett River Press)
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)
Lisa Mannetti – “The Hunger Artist” (Zippered Flesh 2, Smart Rhino Publications)
John Palisano – “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)
Michael Reaves – “Code 666” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2013)

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

Fabien Adda and Fabrice Gobert – The Returned: “The Horde” (Ramaco Media I, Castelao Pictures)
Brad Falchuk – American Horror Story: Asylum: “Spilt Milk” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Bryan Fuller – Hannibal: “Apéritif” (Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production, Gaumont International Television)
Daniel Knauf – Dracula: “A Whiff of Sulfur” (Flame Ventures, Playground, Universal Television, Carnival Films)
Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

R.J. Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (ed.) – Horror Library: Volume 5 (Cutting Block Press)
Eric J. Guignard (ed.) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)
Michael Knost and Nancy Eden Siegel (ed.) – Barbers & Beauties (Hummingbird House Press)
Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (ed.) – The Grimscribe’s Puppets (Miskatonic River Press)
Anthony Rivera and Sharon Lawson (ed.) – Dark Visions: A Collection of Modern Horror, Volume One (Grey Matter Press)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Nathan Ballingrud – North American Lake Monsters: Stories (Small Beer Press)
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)
James Dorr – The Tears of Isis (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)
Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories (Subterranean)
Gene O’Neill – Dance of the Blue Lady (Bad Moon Books)
S. P. Somtow – Bible Stories for Secular Humanists (Diplodocus Press)

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Barbara Brodman and James E. Doan (ed.) – Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic (Fairleigh Dickinson)
Gary William Crawford (ed.) – Ramsey Campbell: Critical Essays on the Modern Master of Horror (Scarecrow Press)
William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)
Jarkko Toikkanen – The Intermedial Experience of Horror: Suspended Failures (Palgrave Macmillan)
Robert H. Waugh (ed.) – Lovecraft and Influence: His Predecessors and Successors (Scarecrow Press)

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Bruce Boston – Dark Roads: Selected Long Poems 1971-2012 (Dark Renaissance Books)
Helen Marshall – The Sex Lives of Monsters (Kelp Queen Press)
Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca – Dangerous Dreams (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)
Stephanie M. Wytovich – Hysteria: A Collection of Madness (Raw Dog Screaming Press)

Problem Solved

Perhaps you spent the weekend agonizing over what to give an immortal science fiction writer on his 80th birthday? May is just around the corner, when young Harlan Ellison will be immolating a cake with that many candles. And it’s not easy to pick a gift for a man who says “I have ten of everything I want.”

Of course, it’s precisely at these moments which beggar the imagination that we expect the geniuses of science fiction to fill the void. And Harlan has come through.

He told readers of his Forum

Boy, am I gonna make this EASY for you.

I have ten of everything I want. I don’t need, or WANT, your goodhearted, heartfelt, appreciative, wandering “gee, wouldn’t Harlan like this…” re-gift SWEET BIRTHDAY GIFT that I will either immediately toss, or stuff into an already-bursting-seams cubby.

Here’s what I want…if you are so obsessively driven to ignore the above…and absolutely MUST MUST MUST show your love or your hate or your cleverness or your imbecile internet twittwerflux need to respond…

I am besotted with hunger for, love of, and admiration for…


Netsuke are miniature sculptured toggles invented in 17th-century Japan to secure a pouch or small basket attached by cord to a sash.  They were most popular during the Edo period in Japan, around 1615-1868. They can command high prices. (See examples here.)

Harlan has three – not more because they are so expensive.  He spent half his annual income to buy one of them.

So. If you will not heed my gardyloo… then spend your asses off, and buy me one or more netsukes that will send your exchequer spiraling into the abyss.

To the Seventh Power

By James H. Burns: A few months ago, when Lou Scheimer, co-founder of Filmation Associates, died, I mentioned the tale, in passing, of when I first met Lou and his partner, Norm Prescott, at their Los Angeles office. Norm was trying to get Harlan Ellison interested in one of their series, and it was around that time, roughly, that it was announced that he was writing a feature length script for the studio… Seven Worlds, Seven Warriors was to have been a science fiction take on The Magnificent Seven

HARLIN-Chaos-CoverA quality live action movie either on prime time or in the theatres could seriously have changed the fate of the plucky studio. What I didn’t know, sillily, was that just last summer DC Comics released Seven Against Chaos, a graphic novel from Ellison and the estimable Paul Chadwick.

Nowhere on the net, though, can I find mention of the seeming Filmation connection, and origins.

One blurb does mention that the plot contains some of Ellison’s pitch for the very first Star Trek movie: a scenario in which "contemporary" 23rd century life shows signs of falling apart (literally) as an AMPHIBIOUS race challenges the evolution that gave Earth to the mammalians. (Perhaps Jon Pertwee would have made a cameo?)  I don't know if the Trek-pitch elements were always a part of the Filmation project -- which might have made it even more interesting to have seen in the late 1970s/early '80s -- or if the DC volume has a different provenance entirely.... But certainly, a curiosity!  

Hope Alive For SF Author Stamps

A secret list of future USPS stamp issues obtained by the Washington Post shows a set of commemoratives about science fiction writers is still under consideration for 2015.

The list is a collaboration between the USPS marketing staff and the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee appointed by the postmaster general to recommend ideas.

The Steve Jobs stamp is getting the most publicity but science fiction writers appear just a couple slots above him on the list of approved stamp subjects.

stamp list Jobs_StampSusan McGowan, the Postal Service’s executive director for stamp services and corporate licensing, warned the subjects “are subject to change” at any time.

2014 Philip K. Dick Award Judges Announced

The five Philip K. Dick Award judges for the 2014 award year are Jon Armstrong, Ritch Calvin, Ellen Klages, Laura J. Mixon and Michaela Roessner. The nominees will be announced in January 2015.

The annual award is given to the best paperback original sf book by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust.

This award for work published in 2013 will be announced at Norwescon 37 on April 18. The list of finalists is here.