March 20, 2003 · 10:00 AM PST ·
STILL BUSY but I wanted to post a link to this
article over at a terrific website called Spinsanity. It lists myths, misconceptions and some outright lies relating to the war on
Iraq, and may come in handy for folks who want to know the truth of what's going on. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be everyone.
Okay. Back to being busy...
March 19, 2003 · 10:00 PM PST ·
ONCE AGAIN, I have posted a picture of a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, the traditional* signal that the proprietor
of a website is too busy to update it. In this case, it also means that said proprietor may be too busy to respond to all but the most vital
e-mails for a few days. But things change, life goes on (unless you live in Baghdad) and schedules free up. When mine does, I'll be back
to regular Internet participation. And thanks to all of you who sent money just because I posted a picture of Julie Newmar.
*Well, at least it's a tradition I'm trying to start. All traditions have to begin somewhere.
March 19, 2003 · 1:30 AM PST ·
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE WHOLE PANEL
COMIC BOOK ART is usually drawn in pencil by one guy and then, after the page is lettered, the work is "inked" by another.
The inker interprets and embellishes...and since it's his linework that gets reproduced in the finished publication, he can go a long way towards
improving or ruining or just preserving what the pencil artist did. Throughout his career, the late, great Jack Kirby had his pencilled pages
inked by a wide range of great talents and a few of the lesser variety. The efforts of one inker, Vince Colletta, remain especially
controversial, long after the work was done and both men have passed on.
To be fair, Colletta has his fans and his work was loved by many readers of the day. But some of the artists whose work he inked
felt he had minimal talent and all felt he expended minimal effort. (Again, to be fair, he was often paid minimal money — but so were a
lot of guys who put in more time.)
One of the big complaints about Colletta was that he would simply leave things out. The panel above, which was scanned from a
piece of Kirby/Colletta original art for The Fantastic Four, gives us an example. If you click on it and enlarge the image, you'll see
that Jack drew in a figure of Mr. Fantastic that Vince and/or his staff of lowly-paid assistants just ignored. I've occasionally seen inkers do
this for creative reasons because they felt it improved the composition, but Colletta tended to decide this any time a page took him more than about
Anyway, folks sometimes ask me why so many artists disliked Colletta's inking and there's one of the reasons. Thanks to Tom Field
for the scan, and to Glen Gold who first noticed this omission.
I MADE THE MISTAKE of driving through Hollywood and Highland this afternoon and found myself smack-dab in the middle of
heightened security measures for the upcoming Academy Awards. I warn all my friends in L.A. to steer clear of the area until the Oscars have
come and gone. (By the way: A friend of mine who's going to the ceremony said, "Never mind the threat of terrorism. I'm just hoping they
can protect me from Joan Rivers.")
EVERY YEAR, the Comic-Con International in San Diego fills every hotel room, motel room, suite, lodge, hostel and pup-tent for
miles around. This year will surely be no exception so if you're going, book now. You can do so online at the convention website, www.comic-con.org — but hurry. Rooms are disappearing even as you read this.
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, sci-fi legend Forrest J Ackerman went to court against publisher Ray Ferry. The two had worked
together to revive Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine Ackerman edited for Warren Publishing in and around the sixties. The new
venture ended in bitterness. Ackerman quit or was fired, depending on which version you believe, and Ferry claimed ownership of the publication
and various trademarks (like Ackerman's nickname, "Dr. Acula") and assets. As explained here, Ackerman won the suit in 2000 and if we are to believe the press release he recently issued, he has now won the appeal.
Forry (aka Dr. Acula, aka Mr. Sci-Fi) has had a few rocky years lately.
Less than a year ago, all the newsfolks who cover science-fiction were reporting that he was hospitalized and expected to check out before he
checked out. Soon after, he proved all those reports wrong and not only got out but presided over the sale of most of his infamous collection
of horror and science-fiction memorabilia. He is now living in a small bungalow not far from the site of the old Ackermansion, welcoming
visitors, working on memoirs and still going out to attend conventions and do cameos in movies. The Mummy hasn't come back from the dead half
as many times...
March 18, 2003 · 12:45 PM PST ·
ONE OTHER oddment from the Michael Larson sweep on Press Your Luck: As the man was racking up cash, the program's
scorekeepers got rather flustered. After his 17th spin, Larson was at $40,601. On his 18th, he hit a thousand-dollar space and they upped
his total to $42,601. The error wasn't caught at the time, and apparently Larson collected his grand total of $110,237 even though he actually
won $109,237. This does not mean the producers never noticed it. They probably caught the mistake later but decided they didn't want to
risk hearing more from Larson or his lawyers.
TONY BLAIR offers what is essentially the rebuttal to Robin Cook's speech. You can read it here.
I PROBABLY don't need to say this but I vacillate between whether I should post political/war stuff on this page or leave that
to the experts and confine myself to trivia. I keep changing my mind and probably always will — so don't expect consistency in that
regard. I post what's on my mind...and my mind, like yours, cycles through periods of not wanting to focus on what's going on in the world and
other periods where it must. That's how it's got to be.
March 18, 2003 · 9:45 AM PST ·
G. W. BUSH maintains that no second U.N. resolution is necessary. Other nations believe it is. How did grown men who
represent whole nations wind up in such disagreement? Joshua Micah Marshall has an explanation.
March 17, 2003 · 11:30 PM PST ·
AND FOR those of you who don't have RealPlayer (which can be a very intrusive program if you don't watch out), here's a link to a text version of the Robin Cook speech.
But hearing it is even better.
March 17, 2003 · 10:30 PM PST ·
HAVE YOU got eleven minutes? More important, have you got RealPlayer installed? I just watched and would like to
share with you the 11-minute resignation speech delivered by Robin Cook, the British government's highly respected leader in parliament. He
quit yesterday to protest Prime Minister Tony Blair's position stance on Iraq.
I have, as visitors to this website well know, next-to-no respect for the folks in Washington on either side of the aisle. In
fact, I tend to take the position that those who seem to have more integrity are merely the ones who haven't gotten around yet to disappointing
me. Maybe I'm so desperate for sincerity that I've fallen for a reasonable facsimile, but Mr. Cook impressed me. I don't know that I
believe everything he says in this speech (there's
your link to the video clip) but I believe our political system would work so much better if its participants could deal in this sort of
Give it a look. It starts slow, and some of you may disagree with his position. But it's always worth seeing an argument
stated with such eloquence and sincerity.
SPEAKING OF Brits and Iraq, a funny essay called "Other Axis of Evil Wannabees" is making the e-mail rounds, generally
identified as the work of John Cleese. Apparently, it is not by Mr. Cleese but comes from the SatireWire website. Here's a link to their posting of the piece.
March 17, 2003 · 8:00 PM PST ·
IS THERE A SUPERMAN CURSE? A number of "news" stories currently moving about the wires are asking if actors are now
shunning the role because of what it's done to those who've accepted it. And I guess it's a good story — but even if one believes in
curses, this one doesn't measure up too well. Yes, George Reeves died a shocking, unexpected death...but Mr. Reeves was (a) drinking
heavily to ease the pains from an auto accident and (b) fooling around with a mobster's lady. Either or both can make you pretty dead
pretty fast, as has been proven by a number of folks who never flew around in a cape. Yes, Christopher Reeve suffered a paralyzing accident but
— and I don't mean to make light of it — these things do happen among other folks who jump horses.
The first film Superman, Kirk Alyn, also died — though 49 years after he last put on the Superman suit. Kind of a
slow-acting curse. Bud Collyer, who voiced the character on radio and cartoons also died a few decades after he stopped portraying the Man of
Steel. (Actually, he had returned to the role after a 20 year absence and voiced a few more cartoons. I guess one could stretch and say
he got cocky, defied the curse...and it finally got him. But that's a bit of a reach.)
Some have suggested that it isn't that The Superman Curse takes your life; it's that it does something equally-awful to those in show
business: It destroys your career. There might be something to this but, if so, it probably has more to do with the fact that portraying a
cartoon character — wearing a garish costume on screen that overshadows its wearer — has never been a major boost for anyone's
career. It may not hurt but it sure doesn't help. Years after The Wizard of Oz, Bert Lahr reportedly said, "Everyone told me it
was one of the greatest performances in the history of film, but it was kind of like, 'We'll call you the next time we need a guy in a lion
Thus, Kirk Alyn's post-Superman career was pretty much the same as dozens of other actors his age who'd starred in cheap serials and
B-Movies. Kirk was a charming gent who was a fixture at comic conventions until his death in 1999. But I'm afraid I don't recall anyone
suggesting that a great actor had been stifled. Bud Collyer was enormously successful as a game show host. George Reeves, despite urban
legends to the contrary, had offers of work as both a writer and a director at the time of his death. Christopher Reeve certainly had a lot
more success as a film actor after Superman than before. And as for the more recent wearers of the costume, it's too early to tell.
What I'm getting at (and what I was trying to say when quoted in this article over at E!Online) is that all these careers pretty much went as might
have been expected without playing the guy from Krypton. If any, the role helped — though not much. And if a lot of actors are
turning it down now, as has been reported, it's probably not because they think it'll kill them or their careers. It's that the stardom of
leading men these days gets judged from movie to movie, and playing that part can seem like a lose-lose situation. If the film's a flop,
everyone will say the star has no following and that he isn't hot anymore. But if it's a hit, the star won't get much credit. Everyone
will say it's because people love Superman.
March 17, 2003 · 6:00 PM PST ·
ALL RIGHT, everyone say it with me in unison: "Boy, I hope George W. Bush knows what he's doing."
DISNEY COMICS are coming back. Here's a
link, thanks to Ken Plume, to a good interview with Steve Geppi about the marketplace and how mice and ducks may fit into it.
March 16, 2003 · 1:00 AM PST ·
WELL, I HOPE those of you who caught Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal based on my endless hyping thought it was
worth the build-up. (If you didn't see it, Game Show Network is running it several more times.) The folks who put the documentary
together did a good job, I thought, of telling the story and I really appreciated the fact that, though they interrupted the action for annotations,
they pretty much allowed the videotape to speak for itself.
This morning, though I had nothing whatsoever to do with the program, I found myself on two different radio shows discussing it.
One host asked me why, in the era of "All Reality Shows, All The Time," I found this ancient bit of reality interesting. I think the answer is
that, first of all, it's your basic David/Goliath story. Who could not like a story where a little guy came in and outsmarted a big-time TV
network? Secondly, today's Reality Shows are really Controlled-Reality Shows. The producers may not know who's going to remain on the
island after everyone else gets voted off...but they know someone will be. They do not wind up standing around with their mouths open,
muttering, "We never imagined that would happen." Michael Larson, who went on Press Your Luck and won $110,000 (plus change) had
just that impact on everyone.
Even supposedly-spontaneous TV shows aren't that spontaneous. If Mssrs. Leno, Letterman, O'Brien, Kilborn, Kimmel and Maher are
on for another fifty years, we'll never see any of their shows spin as wildly out of control as Press Your Luck did for about an hour
there. You will never see the stars, producers, directors and crew as clueless as to what's occurring on their own programs as the PYL
staff was on account of Michael Larson. Some execs at CBS almost didn't air the shows, ostensibly because they didn't want to revive memories
of the quiz show scandals of the fifties. Watching the Game Show Network airing last night, it dawned on me: They weren't really worried about
that. They were just uncomfortable that, for one brief moment there, they lost control.
Changing subjects, but only slightly: Watching Press Your Luck might give you a hankering to test yourself against its
cleverly-configured game board. There was a computer "home game" marketed briefly back in the eighties but it wasn't too good. A devout
fan of the show — a gent I do not know at all — cobbled up an authorized homemade version for the PC that works rather well, at least on
my computer. I don't guarantee it will work on yours, so proceed — as they say — with caution and at your own risk. It does
not contain the question rounds, but you don't care about them anyway. Here's the link to the site where you can download it. You'll need an unzipping utility and no, I
don't know of a Press Your Luck for the Mac. Oh — and don't complain to me if it doesn't work or ask for my help. I have
nothing to do with it.
I ADDED a new page to our TV Tickets section — but just to be annoying, I added it in the
middle and moved a few other tickets around. Over the next few weeks, I'll be adding at least ten more pages of vintage tickets, many of them
sent in by some very nice readers of this website.
March 16, 2003 · 10:30 AM PST ·
WE KEEP HEARING that judgments in medical malpractice suits need to be limited because insurance premiums are driving doctors
out of business or out of certain areas. The case for this seems anecdotal and weak to me, and I'm inclined to suspect that Ralph Nader is
right; that we could solve the problem better by limiting how much profit the insurance companies can make. (Actually, we will probably solve
it some day with some form of national health care, but that will be a long time in coming.) In any case, the issue is currently being tackled
by that greatest of all medicos, Rex Morgan, M.D. Here's a link to a site where you can read the comic strip. And here's a link to a letter that appeared the other day in the
Washington Post telling why the above price quote is bogus.
ONE OF my great friends and colleagues was a wonderful artist named Pat Boyette, who was eulogized in this column here. Another friend and admirer of his (Pat had a lot of friends and admirers) was Don Mangus. Don
has written his thoughts on the man for a fine website called Comicartville. Here's
a direct link to Don's piece on Pat, but you really ought to browse the
MANY OF YOU have purchased and devoured the first book. Some of you even read it. Soon, you'll be able to purchase
and devour the second volume of my pieces about the comic book field. Maybe you'll even read...
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME