Working Wonders

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1256)  I haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman (P. Jenkins dir. 2017).  I hear Anna Feruglio Dal Dan sat through some of it having misheard WW would fight Eris (goddess of discord), not Ares (god of war).  That’s an inspired misconception.  I agree with Nancy Lebovitz it seems potentially more interesting than the usual combats.  One thinks of the anecdote about Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933; United States President 1923-1929), to whom at a dinner (when asked “Why do you attend such affairs?” he supposedly answered “Must eat somewhere”) his effusive hostess said “I have a bet you’ll say more than two words tonight” upon which he replied “You lose.”  Wonder Woman meets Eris.  Each raises up her Aspect and takes on her Attributes.  Lightning.  Thunder.  Wonder Woman cries “Eris, I am here to fight you à outrance.”  Eris answers “You lose.”  Or just “Aha!”  A while ago – before the 2017 movie – in the company of Len Wein and others who were singing “Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!  All the world is waiting for you…. and the wonders you can do….  Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love” (C. Fox & N. Gimbel 1975, from the L. Carter television series – note WW’s antipathy to Eris in that version – also older ones– if not by name; the question is, what to do against discord) I had clean forgot Len’s involvement with her.

Horror Comic “Box of Bones” Coming from Rosarium

Box of Bones is Rosarium Publishing’s latest comics project, by Ayize Jama-Everett (The Liminal People, The Entropy of Bones) and Eisner Award winner, John Jennings (Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred, Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road). With a mix of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi writers, Box of Bones will lead readers on a fantastical journey to the depths of the darkest parts of history.

Described as “Tales from the Crypt Meets Black History,” Box of Bones is a supernatural nightmare tour through some of the most violent and horrific episodes in the African Diaspora.

When Black graduate student, Lyndsey, begins her dissertation work on a mysterious box that pops up during the most violent and troubled time in Africana history, she has no idea that her research will lead her on a phantasmagorical journey from West Philadelphia riots to Haitian slave uprisings. Wherever Lyndsey finds someone who has seen the Box, chaos ensues. Soon, even her own sanity falls into question. In the end, Lyndsey will have to decide if she really wants to see what’s inside the Box of Bones.

Jama-Everett and Jennings have assembled a talented group of artists for this ten-issue project, including cover artist, Stacey Robinson (I Am Alfonso Jones), David Brame (MediSIN), Avy Jetter (APB: Artists against Police Brutality), and Tim Fielder (Matty’s Rocket). The first issue (penciled by Jennings) will appear digitally later this fall with the first five-issue trade paperback appearing in late summer 2018.

How To Draw Superheroes in Six Easy Steps

Have you ever wanted the great power and responsibility of drawing Spider-Man? Do you look at the pages of Black Panther and wish you could draw a Wakandan king? How often have you been tempted to break the fourth wall and draw Gwenpool?

Now fans can learn how to draw like a super hero with How To Draw Variant Covers by Chip Zdarsky (Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Howard The Duck, Star-Lord.) First appearing on the back of a blank variant cover on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1, HOW TO DRAW VARIANTS will debut on the covers of select Marvel comics this fall. Each custom cover features a step-by-step process for drawing one of Marvel’s iconic characters – along with some helpful “Zdarsky Advice” for good measure.

“I don’t really know how to draw so this whole thing feels quite irresponsible,” said Chip Zdarsky, who must know how to draw. Right?

“I don’t know about everybody out there in Mighty Marveldom, but when I first started collecting comics, one of my hobbies was trying to draw my favorite Marvel heroes and villains,” said editor Devin Lewis. “Carrying on the grand tradition of the classic HOW TO DRAW COMICS THE MARVEL is this series of HOW-TO Variants by Chip Zdarsky, one of the most… unique?… voices in comics today. In addition to giving REALLY ACCURATE instructions about how to draw each of these characters, Chip’s bringing his brand of humor to each and every piece, and we can promise that whether you’re a Marvel fan old or new, at least ONE of these ‘em will give you a chuckle!”

Marvel will publish HOW TO DRAW VARIANTS for these titles this fall —

  1. ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #11
  2. ALL NEW WOLVERINE #25
  3. BLACK PANTHER #166
  4. CABLE #150
  5. CAPTAIN MARVEL #125
  6. CHAMPIONS #13
  7. DAREDEVIL #27
  8. DEFENDERS #6
  9. FALCON #1
  10. GWENPOOL, THE UNBELIEVABLE #21
  11. HAWKEYE #11
  12. INCIVIBLE IRON MAN #593
  13. MIGHTY THOR #700
  14. PUNISHER: THE PLATOON #1
  15. ROYALS #9
  16. SPIDER-GWEN #25
  17. SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE #1
  18. THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #25
  19. VENOM #155
  20. X-MEN: GOLD #13

Who Are The 1,000,000 BC Avengers?

[Based on a series of press releases – because I love the art.]

MARVEL LEGACY #1 introduces the AVENGERS OF 1,000,000 BC – and that’s only the opening of the most important comic story of the year!

This fall, MARVEL LEGACY #1 will guide you through the pages of time, back to the dawn of 1,000,000 BC – when the very first Avengers took up the responsibility of being heroes. And this action-packed 50-page issue is just the tip of the iceberg for the coming MARVEL LEGACY, which finds all of Marvel’s heroes on journeys that will change them forever.

MARVEL LEGACY #1 provides the starting point for more than a year’s worth of stories. Mysteries, returns, and infinite possibilities await Marvel readers. This is the one comic no one will want to miss, and what better way to debut it than with a party!

FOOM Magazine also returns, and will be presented in a format similar to the fan favorite magazine of the 70’s. Included within its pages are in-depth articles about the creation of MARVEL LEGACY, an overview of the many EIC’s that have forged Marvel Comics over the years, an examination of the Marvel bullpens of the past, a spotlight on the Infinity trilogy, a guide from Deadpool that looks ahead to his newest Legacy book – and so much more!

PLUS!

WHO SENT THE CALL FROM PLANET HULK?

WHAT IS HUNTING FOR THE INFINITY STONES?

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CAPTAIN AMERICA?

WHEN WILL THOR FIGHT THE WAR OF REALMS?

WHY DOES JEAN GREY JOURNEY TO CANADA?

and…

HOW HAS THE BODY OF IRON MAN DISAPPEARED?

Featuring THOR, IRONHEART, CAPTAIN AMERICA, JEAN GREY, IRON MAN, DEADPOOL, THE THING, ODINSON, DEADPOOL, LOKI, GHOST RIDER, DOCTOR STRANGE, THE HUMAN TORCH, GAMORA, IRON FIST, AND PRACTICALLY EVERY MARVEL CHARACTER EVER.

Journey Planet 31, Something Good To End 2016

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James Bacon invites one and all to download Journey Planet #31, co-edited by James, Christopher J Garcia and Pádraig Ó Méalóid.

In December 1966, fifty years ago now, a 15-year-old Irish teenager called Tony Roche did a remarkable thing. He published the first issue of a comics fanzine called The Merry Marvel Fanzine.

What was remarkable about this was that this was the first comics ‘zine on this side of the Atlantic. They had already existed in the US, but it would be over six months before the first British comics fanzine, Ka-Pow, produced by Phil Clarke and Steve Moore, would appear, in July 1967.

By producing The Merry Marvel Fanzine, and subsequently Heroes Unlimited, Tony Roche, all unbeknownst to himself, helped set in motion a tradition of ‘zines and communication between comics fans that continues, unbroken, to this day.

Tony went AWOL in the summer of 1969 – like many another – leaving the fan community to pursue an international academic career, culminating in a Professorship in Irish Literature in UCD. But he has now reappeared, and had opened a treasure chest full of unbelievable goodies, some of which he has allowed us to share, including artwork, articles, his Merry Marvel Marching Society membership card, and a previously unpublished Letter of Comment written by Alan Moore, shortly after his fifteenth birthday.

This issue of Journey Planet includes

  • An oral history of the time from Tony, which traces his adventures, including trips to a New York comic con and the very first British comic con
  • Fan artwork by legendary comics artist Paul Neary
  • An unpublished Alan Moore letter, sent to Heroes Unlimited in late 1968
  • Articles on Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, and The Avengers by Tony Roche from Heroes Unlimited
  • Unpublished correspondence from BBC presenter John Peel to Heroes Unlimited
  • A few words from Dez Skinn

And more!

Women in Early Comic Books

By Carl Slaughter:

THE SUPERGIRLS: FASHION, FEMINISM, FANTASY. AND THE HISTORY OF COMIC BOOK HEROINES
By Mike Madrid

madrid-super

Has Wonder Woman hit the comic book glass ceiling? Is that the one opposition that even her Amazonian strength can’t defeat? Entertaining and informative, The Supergirls explores iconic superheroines and what it means for the culture when they do everything the superhero does, only in thongs and high heels.

This much-needed alternative history of American comic book icons—from Wonder Woman to Supergirl and beyond—delves into where these crime-fighting females fit in popular culture and why, and what their stories say about the role of women in society from their creation to now, and into the future.

DIVAS, DAMES & DAREDEVILS: LOST HEROINES OF GOLDEN AGE COMICS
By Mike Madrid

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Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle ruled the pages of comic books in the 1940s, but many other heroines of the WWII era have been forgotten. Through twenty-eight full reproductions of vintage Golden Age comics, Divas, Dames & Daredevils reintroduces their ingenious abilities to mete out justice to Nazis, aliens, and evildoers of all kinds.

Each spine-tingling chapter opens with Mike Madrid’s insightful commentary about heroines at the dawn of the comic book industry and reveals a universe populated by extraordinary women—superheroes, reporters, galactic warriors, daring detectives, and ace fighter pilots—who protected America and the world with wit and guile.

VIXENS, VAMPS & VIPERS: LOST VILLAINESSES OF GOLDEN AGE COMICS
By Mike Madrid

madrid-vixens

Between the covers of Vixens, Vamps & Vipers, fans will rediscover the original bad girls of comics—as fierce and full of surprises as they were when the comic book industry was born. From murderous Madame Doom to He-She, dubbed by io9 as “the most unsung comic book villain ever,” Mike Madrid resurrects twenty-two glorious evildoers in fully reproduced comics and explores the ways they both transcend and become ensnared in a web of cultural stereotypes.

Among the deadly femme fatales, ruthless jungle queens, devious secret agents, double-dealing criminal masterminds, and gender-bending con artists are some of the very first women of color in comics. These women may have been overlooked in the annals of history, but—like their superheroine counterparts in Divas, Dames & Daredevils—their influence, on popular culture and the archenemies that thrill us today, is unmistakable.

 

 

 

Free Comic Book Day Is May 7

On Free Comic Book Day, May 7, participating comic book stores across North America and the world will be giving away comic books to visitors in their shops. Use the locator on the website to search for a store near you.

Click here to see the covers of 50 comics being handed out free – some of the links include preview pages,

There’s also current info on Facebook.

Get a briefing from this video:

And a string of comics creators promote Free Comic Book Day in this video:

Lee Falk’s Phantom of Happy Memory — And Fellini and Falk’s Mandrake!

Phantom Spot 2_0By James H. Burns: Recently, The Phantom, the great comic strip character created by Lee Falk in 1936, celebrated his 80th anniversary.

The Phantom, of course, is “The Ghost Who Walks,” the legendary protector of the wild jungle domain of Bangalla, who hands his mantle onto a son or other descendant, and operates from a cave-base deep within the country’s interior…

The Phantom began his quest for justice against PIRATES, hundreds of years ago, and to the denizens of his world, he seems eternal.

Almost always overlooked, is that he was also the world’s first super hero, before Superman and Batman, (and appearing less than five years after the Shadow, in the pulp magazines), or at least the comic world’s  initial masked and costumed adventurer!

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The Phantom was part of that great newspaper comics pantheon of heroes that included Flash Gordon, Terry (and the Pirates), Mandrake the Magician (also created by Falk, about an expert illusionist who investigates mysteries and intrigues–one of the many forerunners of Marvel’s Dr. Strange!)  and the comic strip adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan.

In the 1930s, when these series debuted, it was before the advent of television, of course, and the vast number of Americans–and others around the world–turned to their daily papers for a serialized jolt of action and adventure , and of course, also comedy, with a wide array of humor series.

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Lee Falk

Falk, like almost all of the creators of the major comic book heroes, was Jewish. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, born in 1911, Falk was only in his early twenties when he created Mandrake (whose debut preceded the Phantom’s premiere, by less than two years)!  (Many artists, over the decades, collaborated with Falk on the comic strips for which, reportedly, he also drew the first installments.)  Ultimately, Falk became a devoted world traveller, as well as a theatrical director and producer.  (The Phantom and Mandrake had over one hundred million readers across the planet, and were adapted into almost all forms of other media.  (The Phantom retains a particularly devoted following, in Australia.)  Falk’s last years were spent in Manhattan, and Cape Cod, before he passed, in 1999.MandrakeLogo

I was lucky enough to actually grow up with the vast majority of classic comic strip characters, thanks to a newspaper that has long been forgotten: The New York Knickerbocker.

knickerbocker

knickerbicker issueDebuting sometime around 1967, the paper (aka, for a while, apparently, The New York Daily Column and The New York Knickerbocker) was a Sunday edition, initially featuring a variety of syndicated feature stories and columns, and also a great selection of comics, highlighting the legendary continuities from decades past, that were still, at the time, being produced:

Suddenly, every week, I was able to follow Flash and Dale Arden, Major Hoople (of Our Boarding House), Joe Palooka (and Mickey Finn), Alley Oop, Captain Easy, Snuffy Smith  (and Barney Google), Popeye, There Ought To Be A Law, and in a sensational center spread, Russ Manning’s glorious work on Burroughs’ Tarzan!  (There were also the Sunday page hijinx of such other old friends as Archie, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones!)

Between the Knickerbocker and The Long Island Press Sunday paper (ultimately to be supplanted by Newsday’s Sunday edition, in the early 1970s), and The Sunday Daily News, virtually the whole world of comics was available to me —

Or a pretty sizable sample!

 

Dick Tracy and Dondi, along with Winnie Winkle and Moon Mullins were in The News, while Mandrake and The Phantom were in The Long Island Press (along with, somewhere, Brenda Starr)!  Relatively new to the scene were other strips I looked forward to each week: Tiger, Eek and Meek, Andy Capp, Fred Basset

(The News‘ comics section was actually a Monday morning gift from my wonderful next door neighbors of the time, Alice and Sam Picker!)

Mine might have been the last generation able to experience new installments of all these great works, while also experiencing the explosion of creativity happening in the world of comic books!

It soon became a cherished part of my week to wait for my Dad to come home with the papers, and sit down to the Sunday funnies… (The earliest issues, in fact, must have helped teach me to read!)  In later years, this terrific repast would occur sometime after coming home from Sunday School.

It also pleased me to know that I was taking a part in what was a great American tradition!

At some point in the early 1970s, The Knickerbocker went under. But within weeks, it was replaced by a new Sunday comics supplement, sold entirely on its own, entitled The New York Comics.  Sadly that too only lasted a short while longer.

But The Phantom remained a constant in the different editions, and was a favorite of mine, as he fought crime and other menaces, often accompanied by his wolf, Devil, and his sturdy mount, Hero! Once in a while, Falk would tell a tale of one of the earlier Phantoms, and you’d suddenly be transported to yet another fantastic time.Phantom-68-00

In the later 1970s, I also became enamored  by the wonderful Phantom comic books from Charlton, illustrated by the supremely talented Don Newton.

So, it was with great glee that I discovered that Falk was going to be a guest at one of Fred Greenberg’s Great Eastern Conventions’ first two-day affairs, (after years of running one day events), at Manhattan’s Penta Hotel (aka the  Hotel Pennsylvania,and the Statler Hilton, just across from Penn Station).

11 Apr 1986 --- Original caption: Lee Falk stands in front of painting of two of his creations-Mandrake, the Magician and Lothar, the magician's black companion. Falk brought them to life on comic pages in 1934. On 4/11, a new era will begin for Mandrake, Lothar, The Phantom (also created by Falk) and Flash Gordon. They'll be in a special cartoon preview of "Defenders of the Earth." --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Lee Falk in 1986.

And a little bit of history may have been made that day, or at least an element of the Phantom’s chronicle discovered, that should be more widely noted.

First up, was the beginning of a mystery, one which perplexed even Falk.

I was sitting with my friend, Douglas Aleksey, the late, long time comics fan  who, during the question-and-answer session, asked Falk about a film clip he had once seen, in a montage-tribute to Marcello Mastroianni, where the legendary actor was dressed AS Mandrake!

Falk was stunned, and was as curious about the appearance as Doug was!

The answer to this conundrum came over a decade later, when I was watching 1987’s Intervista, Federico Fellini’s kind of fake documentary, about his making of another feature film!

Suddenly, as Fellini’s in his office having a production meeting, Mastroianni comes floating up to the window, dressed as Mandrake (and standing on a rising platform)!

In a film within a film (within a film!), Mastroianni is making a commercial on the studio lot, starring as Falk’s legendary prestidigitator!7780aeee220ce41e9b35b0af012b7ae7

Falk certainly knew Fellini.  According to some sources, in 1971, producer Dino De Laurentiis flew Falk to Italy to meet with the director, hoping to foster a Mandrake movie. Fellini was a long time comics fan (who once, famously, visited the offices of Marvel Comics, in Manhattan).  At various times, Fellini had apparently stated his desire to make a Flash Gordon film, based on Alex Raymond’s and Don Moore’s comic strip, or other comics related films.

But what Falk may not have known–and which I only discovered when researching photos for this article — is that Mastroianni also played Mandrake in 1972, with the famed film star Claudia Cardinale as his beloved (and later wife), Narda–

Directed by Fellini!mandrake-mastroianni

mandrake 1

According to one source, Fellini was invited to help edit a special issue of French Vogue, when he decided to devise a fumetti, a photo comic, long popular in parts of Europe, starring his associates.

mandrake 2

That’s Cardinale in the white dress, and here, how she might have appeared in an actual Mandrake feature film!

There was one more surprise at the question-and-answer session in New York.

Falk had already mentioned that the Phantom’s home, Bangalla, could be seen, to some extent, as a mythical place, a combination of many jungles from around the globe.

I raised my hand, and as gently as I could put it, said to Falk something along the lines that as great a character as the Phantom is, as many wonderful stories as Falk had written, with all the great efforts he had taken to show people of color with respect and dignity… Through no fault of his own, some could argue that in the modern age anyway, the Phantom could be perceived as the embodiment of what could be called the colonial and prejudiced notion that the people of the jungle needed a “Great White Saviour….”

Falk smiled warmly.  He made reference to the tribute hall in the Phantom’s cave, honoring past Phantoms through the ages, and their families.

“You know, we probably haven’t seen all of the Phantom’s ancestors.”

Quite logically, and subtly, Falk was suggesting that the modern Phantom we’ve all grown up with, could well be multi-cultural.

ADDENDUM:

There was a surprising number of PHANTOM merchandising spinoffs in the 1960s, especially during the latter part of the decade’s super hero years. Perhaps the neatest element of the board game seen below was that it came with a facsimile of the Phantom’s skull ring!292fb39895d5c66f0b6ed7162a5b8b467b0627d70d7e52cf4640cbc3b7fcc717ca_display$_1phantom%20front

In Honor of the New Dr. Strange Trailer

Dr StrangeBy James H. Burns: Some weeks ago, we ran the opening theme songs (and all the lyrics!) for the rather memorable themes from the 1966 Marvel Super Heroes syndicated cartoon television series…

And with all this talk of the Doctor Strange movie, it got me thinking, and I began noodling, what could have been an of-its-era tune for the Master of the Mystic Arts segment of the show….

Master of the mystic arts!
It’s where the doctor’s wisdom starts!
To realms eternal,
And dreams within,
This Doctor Strange, is always in!

With his amulets and charms,
Brave words and a wave of his arms,
He protects dimensions,
A universal range!
Ascetic medic: Doctor Strange!

(ECHO; Doctor Strange!)

Crowdfunding Appeal to Publish English Translations of Chilean Comics

Franko splash COMP 2

The Sofawolf Press Kickstarter Team is raising the money needed to publish English-language editions of the adventures of Franko, a young lion from Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Franko, Fables of the last Earth is a 120 page collection of six comic stories about Franko, a precocious lion living on the Atacama Desert of Chile with his friend Shin, thousands of years in Earth’s future. Theirs is a vibrant world of animal characters, where humans are long gone, along with much of their technology. Life on this desert, the driest in the world, is difficult, but also full of adventures and mysteries. In each fable, Franko and Shin encounter challenges and riddles that they must solve, and in the process they learn a bit more about themselves, and others. Not every fable ends with an obvious lesson, but each one is thought-provoking and full of surprises.

Franko, originally published in Chile in Spanish, was created by scriptwriter Ángel Bernier and illustrator Cristóbal Jofré, who live in Santiago.

Sofawolf’s goal is to have the book ready for sale at Anthrocon (June 30 – July 3) and Comic-Con International (July 20-24).

The Kickstarter has brought in $6,179 of its $9,000 goal, with 17 days to go.

turn this into this

 

[Thanks to Fugue for the story.]