September 20, 2002 · 12:30 PM PDT ·
THAT THERE fella's name is Bat Lash and he had a pretty good comic book for a short time around 1969 before it went away.
Alas, it was a financial failure...or was it? Maybe, we wonder, it was a potential hit but the publisher simply cancelled it too soon.
This is a topic worthy of further exploration and we go exploring it over in NOTES from me.
AGAIN, we highly recommend a Michael Kinsley column.
September 19, 2002 · 1:00 PM PDT ·
THE TOURING COMPANY of The Producers, starring Lewis J. Stadlen and Don Stephenson, has opened in Pittsburgh. Being
familiar with Mr. Stadlen's formidable comedic abilities, I am even more interested in this than in the announced Los Angeles company which will star
Jason Alexander and Martin Short. I'll probably catch them both...and I still have to get back to New York and see Brad Oscar and Steven
Weber. So I have a lot of probably-great Max Bialystocks still to see.
Here is a link to an opening night review of the
new production. And here's a link to
another review, which does not seem to be based on opening night. It is curious to note the report that the show has dropped the "f" word,
heard in one number on Broadway and on the cast album. Does someone think that audiences who come to see a show about a Nazi musical and a
cross-dressing Hitler are going to be offended by that word? In Pittsburgh? Also, it seems that Lee Roy Reams, who has the showy role of
the drag queen Fuhrer, missed opening night. This is of interest because The Producers is, after all, about stars missing their opening
night performances and life has already imitated art once with an understudy taking over for the star on a permanent basis. Sure hope Mr. Reams
September 19, 2002 · 2:00 AM PDT ·
OUR BUDDY Nat Gertler is reviewing all the new non-Pax TV shows. Get thee to his site and read what he has to say.
JUST DID AN ADDITION to page seven of My Backyard. It's only one new photo
but it's a goodie.
OKAY, so it's a slow news day. Don't complain. The site's free.
September 18, 2002 · 3:15 PM PDT ·
SEVERAL FOLKS IN E-MAIL are assuming that Jim Davis — with whom I have worked for more than ten years — had me in
mind when he came up with a name in today's Garfield strip. I'm assuming that, too.
September 18, 2002 · 1:00 PM PDT ·
OVER IN A NEWSGROUP, someone posted a transcript of Bill Clinton's appearance on David Letterman's show. Makes for
interesting reading. Here's that
A BRITISH NEWSPAPER recaps the tale of the F.B.I. and Mad Magazine which we told you about here. Here's the
link to the new telling, which is not without some interesting details.
September 18, 2002 · 1:00 AM PDT ·
I HAVEN'T SEEN it mentioned anywhere but I have it from a usually-reliable source that Mayo Kaan passed away in mid-July at the
age of 88. Now, who (you may be asking yourself) was Mayo Kaan? That's what Jerry Siegel — co-creator of Superman — was
asking when Mr. Kaan began publicizing himself as the model for the Man of Steel. Around 1970, the Boston-based bodybuilder began selling
photos like the one at left which he claimed were taken in 1936. Siegel and his artist-partner Joe Shuster supposedly hired the gymnasium owner
to model for the new comic character they'd just invented and they even worked with him to fashion a costume. There were a few holes in Kaan's
story, not the least of which was that neither Siegel nor Shuster had ever heard of him, nor had either traveled to Massachusetts anywhere near the
time the alleged modeling was done. (Another problem, noted by a Boston newspaper at the time, was that in one of the photos, Kaan was posing
in front of a building which wasn't built until 1940, two years after Superman debuted.)
Kaan's claim upset Siegel and Shuster, and some of us did some phoning-of press services and reporters and pretty well debunked the
whole story. A few years later, the muscleman surfaced again with ads and p.r. materials about how he'd been the model for Superman, how you
could now purchase a signed photo of him, etc. Again, the forces of Truth, Justice and the American Way descended on the guy and he
retreated...which is, of course, something the real Superman would never do.
Speaking of real Supermen, Jerry Siegel certainly was one and we have a treat for fans of him and his work. In 1940, Jerry
appeared on a promotional recording, along with DC Comics publisher Harry Donenfeld and the radio voice of Superman, Bud Collyer.
The show, which runs a little over 11 minutes, was hosted by Fred Allen and it
was played for magazine distributors to get them jazzed about distributing more
Superman comics. It's one of the very few recordings of Jerry talking
about the creation of Superman and, of course, it's of special interest because
of its date and because it was done under the auspices of DC Comics, back before
Siegel and Shuster were on the outs there.
If you want to download it and listen to it later, right-click on
the link below and pick the appropriate "save" command. If you left-click
on it, you can listen to it right now! It's an MP3 file which should play
on most computers...
JERRY SIEGEL INTERVIEW
GOOD ARTICLE on Conan O'Brien over at The New York Observer. Here's that linky-poo.
FOR THOSE OF YOU interested in the sordid saga of Stan Lee Media (a company for which I briefly labored), a publication called
Insight Magazine has a cover story this month on Peter Paul, the financial mastermind of the operation. I don't guarantee any of its
facts but if you want to read it, here's your
link. Thanks to Jeff Elkins for the tip.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON makes some salient points about the attitude of George W. Bush and brother Jeb about drug use in
America. Here's that link.
September 17, 2002 · 3:30 AM PDT ·
THERE HAS BEEN no funnier actor in the business than the late, great Hans Conried. I only had the pleasure of meeting him
twice. Once was at a Tribute to Jay Ward. Hans was there, of course, because of his memorable voice work as Snidely Whiplash in the
Dudley Do-Right cartoons, and as Uncle Waldo on Hoppity Hooper, as well as his on-camera hosting of Fractured Flickers. He
was rightfully mobbed and when June Foray introduced us, I had just enough time to say, "It's an honor to meet one of my fav-" before someone dragged
him off to be interviewed by a TV news crew.
I had a somewhat better allotment of quality time when I visited a writer-friend on the set of the TV show, Alice, and found
that Mr. Conried was the guest star. While the rest of the cast rehearsed a scene he was not in, I got to finish my sentence, and Hans launched
into wonderful anecdotes about working with Jay, playing Captain Hook for Mr. Disney, portraying Danny Thomas's Uncle Tonoose, etc. It was one
of those "wish I'd had a tape recorder" moments.
At www.hansconried.com, a fan of this fine actor has set up a site full of
photos and biographical material. It's just getting started but it's already worth a visit. If I can manage to recall some of the stories
he told me, I'll try to post them here and offer them to that site, as well.
September 16, 2002 · 3:30 PM PDT ·
OKAY, I GOT IT WRONG: The name of the coffee shop across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater is Ferrara's, not
Ficarra's. I coulda sworn it was Ficarra's. Oh, well. At least, it isn't a Starbuck's.
September 16, 2002 · 12:30 PM PDT ·
THE DAILY HOWLER is a website that cannot be read for more than a few days without an enormous loss of confidence in our
nation's press. Its maker, Bob Somerby, does an amazing job of comparing news items and pointing out where a reporter has tap-danced past a
lack of facts. Today's installment does an especially good job of
exposing all those reports about the faux terrorists discovered in Georgia last week. But read through his archives and you'll find a
lot more that will get you to wondering why more reporters aren't called on stories that don't stand up to even minimal scrutiny.
COMIC STRIP CHARACTERS are drinking less than they used to. Or so says this article in the Washington Post. (Thanx to Jerry Beck, lord of Cartoon Research, for the alert.)
IF YOU'VE NOTICED weirdness on this site the last few days, it's because I made a coding error that caused bizarre formatting
for those using certain screen settings. I think everything's back to normal now...but I've been wrong before.
September 15, 2002 · 4:00 PM PDT ·
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED that I removed from this item the address of the hospital where our pal
Denny O'Neil is convalescing and awaiting surgery. The address was released by someone close to the situation but they've had second thoughts
and would prefer that any actual mail be sent to the offices of DC Comics. In case you don't have a copy of Batman handy, the address
c/o DC Comics, Inc.
New York, NY 10019
Or head over to www.oneilobserver.com and post on their message board.
By the way: This has nothing to do with Denny but I wonder how many people know that the above address (which also houses Mad
Magazine) is directly across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, wherein David Letterman tapes. And I mean right across the street.
You know that bit that Dave does on occasion where they try and see how many guys in bear suits they can fit into a coffee shop? Well, the
coffee shop they usually use is Ficarra's — no relation to Mad editor John Ficarra — and it's in the ground floor of the office
building with DC Comics and Mad. Just another bit of functionally-useless trivia to take your mind off a possible war with Iraq.
September 15, 2002 · 2:00 PM PDT ·
MY LIFE has abounded in incredible coincidences, some of which I wouldn't have believed if they'd happened to someone
else. One of the more incredible occurred when I got the idea of hiring Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, for a
voice job. The whole unlikely tale is told over in the section of this site we call NOTES from me.
And remember: I have witnesses.
A GROUP called America's Helping Hands came up with a novel way to raise cash for charity. They asked 134 celebrities to
place their hands in some sort of clay-like mold. Then the charity fashions replicas of those hands in marble casting stone and mounts them on
a decorative plaque for display. They're presently selling these sculptures on eBay and here's the link. At the moment, the three highest bids are for the mitts of (in this order:)
Barry Manilow, Wayne Gretzsky and George W. Bush. Bush will probably ask the Supreme Court to declare him the winner.
Some time in the eighties, Shelley Winters became disgusted with what she called "baby casting directors." She was talking about
folks who were in charge of hiring actors but were too young to know who she was.
She began carrying a large, oversized purse to auditions. One day, a youthful-looking Director of Casting welcomed her into his
office, then said, "Your credits escape me at the moment. Could you tell me a little about what you've done?"
Ms. Winters reached into the bag, pulled out an Academy Award and banged it down on the desk. "This one was for The Diary of
Anne Frank," she announced. Then she pulled another Oscar from the purse, slammed it down next to the first one and added, "And this one
was for A Patch of Blue. I left the nominations at home."
Then she turned to the stunned casting director and said, "Now, could you tell me a little about what you've done?"
YOU HAVE another chance to hear a great singer if you're in the Southern California area. After a successful engagement in
Great Britain, chanteuse extraordinaire Shelly Goldstein returns to the Gardenia in Hollywood for one night only. That one night is Thursday,
October 17. For reservations, call (323) 467-7444. She sings well, she's funny and she writhes on the piano. What more could you
ONE OF THE BEST comic conventions in America is Roger
Price's Mid-Ohio Con, which occurs the weekend following Thanksgiving in
Columbus, Ohio. The con is big enough that there's plenty to do, plenty to
see, plenty to buy; not so big that you need two rest stops and an overnight
stay to make it across the exhibit hall. I will be among the guests at
this year's, which takes place November 30 and December 1.
Also present will be Sergio Aragonés, Al Feldstein, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Jeff Smith, Tony Isabella, Bob Ingersoll, and many, many
more as you'll see when you visit the con website for more info. That address is
ANOTHER PLACE I'M GOING TO BE: Several times a year, a group called the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters pays an
always-well-deserved tribute to some legend of early television and radio. On Friday, September 27, they're having a luncheon to honor the
incomparable June Foray and the dais will consist of a lot of people who belong in front of microphones,
plus me. I will probably have to follow folks like Stan Freberg and Gary Owens, and will feel like the guy who has to putt after Tiger
Woods. Nevertheless, I'll post a full report here.
should be available at most discerning comic book shops. This handy collection of Evanier's POV columns features funny pictures
by Sergio Aragonés and silly articles about the history of comics and the unique world of comic book fandom. If your store doesn't have
one for you, you can order one over at the website for TwoMorrows Publishing and
we hope you do.
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME