Friday, January 20, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 20: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Hey, remember the time that Luke Cage got really Sweet Christmased-off at one of New York City's most self-entitled real estate developers because he wouldn't let his limo driver get out of the way of an ambulance?

Panels from New Avengers (2005 series) #47 (January 2009), script by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils and inks by Michael Gaydos, colors by Justin Ponsor, letters by Albert Deschesne

I do too! You could, honestly and accurately, describe that guy as one of the Celebrities in Comics.

But you know what? I'm in charge here, and he doesn't get a spotlight today. He doesn't get to appear in this blog which celebrates heroes, justice, and fun. Not on my blog.

You may have noticed that I set this series of posts each day to appear at high noon (unless I'm late) so that y'all have something to look at while you have your delicious tuna sammich, bag of Barbecue Fritos, and that delicious lookin' chocolate chip cookie hey are you gonna eat alla that cookie? But I set this here post to go off at 11:00 AM. My point (and I do have one) is that at least at the time this piece posted, that guy above is not anything more than an ordinary American citizen.

Let's look at somebody else in a different comic book, like, say, Amazing Spider-Man #583. There's quite a handful of celebrities in ASM #583. Here's the very first Marvel Universe appearance of Diamond Joe Biden. This portrayal of Biden as America's Favorite Cool Uncle is definitely a G-rated version of the Onion's hilarious ongoing coverage of him as a hard-drinkin', hard-driving', hard-lovin' ramblin' man.

Panels from "Spidey Meets the President!" in Amazing Spider-Man #583 (March 2009), script by Zeb Wells, pencils and inks by Todd Nauck, colors by Frank D'Armata, letters by Jared K. Fletcher

Also appearing: Senator John McCain, America's favorite frozen French fry, second-place, first-runner-up in 2008's popular "Who Wants to Be Blamed for Everything That's Wrong in America?" reality show.

Nope. Today's Celebrity in Comics is a man I'm standing up tall and proud on both hooves to salute with the honor and support he deserves: President Barack Obama. Sure, he never saved us from Galactus, and he wasn't a perfect leader of our country, but who among us can say that? Sit down, Victor.

Turns out that ersatz Barack is actually the Chameleon. Remember yesterday when I promised you a supervillain today? Her he is, the Chameleon! (Why, who did you think I meant?) This perennial Spider-foe is impersonating Obama and trying to step his tiny little shape-changing feet into the big shoes of the U.S. President. That trick never works!

Yes, as the clock clicks closer to noon, I can sit back and daydream that the above ranting dialogue somehow happens today...

But it's not gonna happen. And moments like the World's Greatest Fistbump in Comics Magazine now become just another back issue. We shall not see its likes again...


I think one of the ways Obama has affected me, a little stuffed bull, the most, is his constant and earnest inspiration message: that we are all Americans, that we must strive to be better people, better citizens, better Americans. We must teach and learn and speak and listen and work and play together. We must be Americans. YES WE CAN.

Panels from Action Comics (1938 series) #901 (July 2011), script by Paul Cornell, pencils and inks by Kenneth Rocafort and Jesus Merino, colors by Brad Anderson, letters by Rob Leigh

Now it's probably after noon, and Barack Obama is no longer our President. To ladle on the hurt, there's no Superman in our world. So we have to be the heroes the President is calling for here. We have to teach, and learn, and speak, and listen, and be heroes for ourselves. And our communities, and our country, and our people. The power is in our hands — now, as always — to band together, to speak truth to power, to put out a hand not in anger but to lift someone else up. To fight injustice, to right that which is wrong, and to serve all mankind.

Together, no Orange Kryptonite can stop us.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 19: Felicia, Felicia, Felicia

See if you can guess today's Celebrity in Comics before...before somebody else who hasn't read the comic does! So here's some panels from Amazing Spider-Man #246 (only one issue before they introduced the Legion of Spider-Heroes!).

Panels from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #246 (November 1983); script by Roger Stern; pencils by John Romita Jr.; inks by Dan Green; colors by Bob Sharen; letters by Joe Rosen

‹web-1.0 blinky HTML tag› Clue!: ‹/web-1.0 blinky HTML tag› Have you noticed the amazing Spider-Diction? Does that sound like the Peter Parker we all know and love? Uh uh uh uh, you're not allowed to answer that question, Joe Quesada.

Why, it's star of stage, screen, radio, and flip books, Cary Grant! He's made one or two films, but what' being riffed on here is perhaps one of the greatest cat burglar movies of all time (after Disney's "That Darn Cat Who Stole the Pink Panther Emerald"): To Catch a Thief!

Sadly, this is not the debut of, as the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe would put it: SPIDER-MAN II (Archie Leach), but rather a romantic — and knowin' the Black Cat, probably about to get pretty adult-oriented — daydream. But it still counts because hey!: Celebrity!

Tomorrow: a major supervillain!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 18: Ty's a Wheel Watcher

It's TV's Pat Sajak in today's "Celebrities in Comics!" There's also Vanna White, but I'm not allowed to put her name in bold because it's not really her who's portrayed! Amnesiac Cloak is seeing Dagger's face instead of the features of Ms. White. Also in these panels: Cloak tries to eat the next issue box.

Panels from The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger #7 (October 1989), script by Terry Austin, figure pencils and inks by Mike Vosburg, background pencils and inks by Barb Rausch, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Ken Bruzenak

Today in Comics History: Foolkiller clips store coupons, saves over $1.35 on his groceries. Now who's the fool?

Panel from Foolkiller (1990 series) #8 (July 1991), script by Steve Gerber, pencils by Joe Brozowski, inks by Vince Giarrano, colors by Greg Wright, letters by Phil Felix

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Today in Comics History Future: Bring it on aliens, we've had worse this week

Panels from "The Rulers of Earth" in Astonishing #30 (Marvel/Atlas, February 1954), pencils and inks by Joe Sinnott

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 17: Oh, Bwunehiwda, you're so wuvwee

Hey, look who's here today: Renaissance man chat show host, radio presenter, film critic, comics scholar and creator, and radiant representative of Rhotacism, Jonathan Ross!

Panels from Knight and Squire #5 (April 2011), script by Paul Cornell, pencils and inks by Jimmy Broxton, colors by Guy Major, letters by Steve Wands

Monday, January 16, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 16: But Björk Can Hurt You!

Well, this one spiraled a bit out of control. I was originally going to just post the panels immediately below and comment "Hey, it's Icelandic pop pixie (and perennial favorite in the Bull household) Björk!" and call it a day.

Panels from Hawkeye (2012 series) #18 (May 2014), script by Matt Fraction, pencils and inks by Annie Wu, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Of course I've spent some time looking for more appearances of Björk in comics, but except for a couple album cover depictions in MAD magazine, she hasn't. (And for the purposes of 365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, MAD doesn't count.) But didja know that in addition to providing the song "Army of Me" to the soundtrack of the well-I-liked-it 1995 movie Tank Girl, Björk was also considered to play the part of Jet Girl in the film? She turned it down, so our loss is the Naomi Watts's gain. Here, from the original T.G. comic, are (L-R) Jet Girl, Sub Girl, and Tank Girl. Oh man that coulda been Björk!

Panels from "The Australian Job, Part One", originally published in Deadline circa 1989 (could be in issue 7, 8, or 9), script by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, pencils and inks by Jamie Hewlett, letters by Alan Martin. Reprinted in Tank Girl (1991 series) #2 (Dark Horse, June 1991). Color edition published in Tank Girl Graphic Novel (Penguin Books, 1991), new color by Chris Chalenor.

By the way, I suppose you're wondering who's narrating that flashback in the Hawkeye panels above, or to put it more directly, which Marvel character was lucky enough to meet Björk? Why, that's one of my favorite Earth-616 long-time supporting characters, Harold H. Harold.

Matt Fraction didn't invent Harold, though — he was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan back in the funky-bad seventies in everyone's favorite blood-sucker of a comic classic, Tomb of Dracula!

Panels from Tomb of Dracula #37 (October 1975), script by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Gene Colan, inks and colors by Tom Palmer, letters by Joe Rosen

Harold's a hack hwriter (okay, I'm gonna nip that joke in the bud before it gets any further) tapping out supernatural stories for a pulp press editor, to whom he promises an (ahem) Interview with a Vampire!

And yes, this comic was published nearly a year before Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice's first Lestat novel. Once again: Comics Did It First!

Hey, that is a good question, HHH. Where do you get a green suit vampire to interview?

Well, you're not just gonna run across one...oh, wait, yes you are. Then he can shove the Prince of Vampires into his car and take him home, just like a Little Caesar's Pan Pizza with free Crazy Bread! (Free Crazy Bread may not be available at all locations.)

Do you want Draculas, Harold? Because that's how you get Draculas.

Later, Harold H. Harold becomes a hvampire, but I think you coulda seen that one coming up the winding, cobbled ancient street of downtown Transylvania City.

In conclusion: Björk was once in one comic book! And if you've haven't figgered out what the meaning of the post title is more Silver Age Batman!

Cover of The Brave and the Bold (1955 series) #81 (December 1968-January 1969), pencils and inks by Neal Adams, letters by Gaspar Saladino (?)

Björk, won't you?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 15: Midnight and the kitties are sleeping

Midnight is goin' to Hollywood! Along with his sidekicks Doctor Wackey and Gabby the Talking Monkey (currently off-stage inside the suitcase). Sheesh, with characters like that, we may not need any celebrities! But look, there's already some: the lovely Veronica Lake and the vivacious Ann Sheridan!

Panels from the Midnight story "Murder Tunes In Unexpectedly" in Smash Comics #34 (Quality Comics, July 1942); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Jack Cole

And then on page two already, we've got Myrna Loy, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Hedy LaMarr! Va va voom! Not only that, but Midnight's civilian identity is Dave Clark, whom we oughta know from his hit single "Over And Over", recorded with His Five. Hold on, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. Dave Clark is not related to the British Invasion musician. But wouldn't that be a great cover for a secret identity!

You may have noticed that Midnight's costume (blue suit, easily obtainable from any traditional tailor, matching crown fedora, and black mask) depicts him as eerily similar to The Spirit, Will Eisner's iconic crimefighter with a blue suit, fedora, and mask. That ain't coincidence. When Eisner reclaimed the comic book rights to the Spirit from Quality Comics, Quality Comics publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold told Quality artist Jack Cole (a tragic figure who ironically also created one of the most fun comics characters ever, Plastic Man) to dream up a similar character. Well, you can't get much more similar to the Spirit than that! Except Midnight's accomplices were less problematic than the Spirit's sidekick Ebony.

There's lots of Eisneresque touches in this strip by Cole, too. He was pretty adept at a Spirit pastiche without being a sheer copy. Note the creatively designed splash page, this hectic and fun final page wrap-up, and the conceit of lettering starlet Joy Devine's name in cursive every time, which suggests it's just absolutely lilting off the tongue in the dialogue.

Midnight! Come for the sexy Hollywood starlet guest appearances, stay for the talking monkey!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

365 Days of Celebrities in Comics, Day 14: The Public Life of the American Teenager

And now, a whole lotta celebs for your Saturday! Bob "Spay or neuter your pets" Barker! Super CONTROL spies Don Adams (or maybe Humphrey Bogart?) and Barbara Feldon (not pictured, but hey: mentioned)! Mustachioed muchacho Robert Wagner! And all on just one page! Who says this isn't the bountiful age of boistrous!

Panels from "Princess...American Style" in Girls' Romances #134 (DC/National, July 1968), pencils by John Rosenberger

And what the heck, we can even properly count real-life Miss American Teen-Ager Michele Patrick, especially since she actually made a comment about appearing in the comic over at Sleestak's excellent Lady, That My Skull blog! Here's the glamorous Michele and her big-ass trophy, along with a cool-ass vintage Dodge Charger!

Michele Patrick, 1968 (Photo: Alden Jewell/Wikimedia Commons)

Congrats, Ms. Patrick! I hope you said "hi" to Agent 99 for me!