Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Custom Aurora Model Kit Madness! Superman! Hawkman? Flash? Green Lantern?

Before the days of the internet, and before such firms as DC Direct began giving us action figures of every cavorting character under the sun, there was a little magazine called MODEL AND TOY COLLECTOR. Within it's pulpy pages, fans got the latest buzz on upcoming toy lines, figures, industry insiders, and more, such as this fabulous feature on fan customizers! Dig these pics (from a 1988 MTC ish) of rabid fans working hard to make their own 3-D images of the Flash, Hawkman, Electro, and other obscure heroes and villains! Only a handful of vintage Aurora model kits were available for such use, and many customizers added a great deal of extra materials to these figures, but all are quite well-made and exciting! I'm also a figure customizer, so click here to see some of my own attempts! Click to enlarge, model-maniacs!

Customizing a kit meant more than just applying a new paint job! Kits had to
be sanded, parts deleted and added, and, in some cases,
new sculpting was needed!

You can see that fans used the Aurora SUPERMAN kit, as well as BATMAN, HULK, and others!

The SUPERMAN Aurora model kit,
used by the majority of the
customizers seen above!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dave Cockrum X-MEN Original Comic Art! 7-11 Slurpee Cup! Marvel!

Here is some well-remembered X-MEN artwork by "dynamite" Dave Cockrum (from the collection of Dave Mandell)! Drawn in 1976, at a time when the "new" X-Men were truly new, Dave included the older team, and their riotous reactions to the new upstarts (including a runty little under-achiever named Wolverine)! Not only did this piece of sterling art appear as a filler illo in RAMPAGING HULK #2, but it was used on a 1977 7-11 "Slurpee" cup! More recently, you could see it festooning a "Toon Tumbler," a well-made sturdy glass, suitable for display! You can't keep a great image hidden for long! This artwork helped introduce tons of newer 70s Marvel readers to the already-expanding X-MEN legacy! Click to enlarge!

Notice someone missing? Dave drew NightCrawler separately, so he could be placed
elsewhere in the lengthy article in the HULK magazine! Note his inclusion on
the glass below!

The 1977 7-11 "Slurpee" wrap-
around cup!
The recently-produced "Toon Tumbler" X-MEN glass!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Startling 70s SPIDER-MAN Strip! Spidey Makes It Big--in Show Biz?! Marvel Magnificence!

That's right! Peter Parker, soon after acquiring his amazing new Spider-powers, set out immediately to create an eye-catching costume, memorable moniker, and then was ready to tackle a new career as--a show biz celebrity?! In one of writer Stan Lee's more realistic touches, the newly-christened Spider-Man had thoughts only of dollar signs, once his powers dawned! See how he exploits those abilites in this great, thrill-jammed 1977 Sunday comic strip installment, with art by the always-stellar John Romita Sr.! But, a change of attitude is right around the corner for the spry super-star! Click to enlarge, Web-heads!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

THE HULK TV Series! Bill Bixby: "We See The Virgin in Ourselves Through Lou Ferrigno!" 1979 TV GUIDE Article! Marvel!

Another great find from TV GUIDE! In this mid-1979 article, the late (and great) actor Bill Bixby talks about the INCREDIBLE HULK TV series, and his concerns as it rolls into its 3rd season! Bill talks about his co-star, Lou Ferrigno (the "Hulk" personified), as well as his earlier career, his relationship with producer Ken Johnson, and so much more! Read about Bixby hand-delivering autographs to local fans! Even though the show veered heavily from its comics origins, Johnson and company did create a dramatic and exciting show, remembered fondly, even decades later! Click to enlarge!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Incredible HULK! Powerful Painting by Don Newton! Marvel Comics!

Yow! Here is a fantastic original painting of the ever-incredible Hulk, by the late Don Newton! Don was a long-time artist on such comics as The PHANTOM (for Charlton Comics), AQUAMAN, and BATMAN! Don's 80s art on the Bat-books was incredibly moody, dramatic, and very exciting, possibly rating only behind the work of Neal Adams, even! Don did little published painted work, but, looking at this marvelous rendering of the Jade Giant, I sure wish he'd done much more! I assume this was done for a fanzine in the 70s, many of which used and welcomed fan art and commissions! Learn more about the talented Don Newton here! Click to enlarge!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Teen Magazines Get SMASHed! Monkees! TIGER BEAT! 16 MAGAZINE! The Real Story!

Even more goodness from mid-70s issues of SMASH magazine! Dig this exploration of the ignoble inner workings of the teen mags of the day! Sure, many of these publications are still around (16 MAGAZINE, etc.), but this article hails from the day when such pulp periodicals represented a publishing empire, with as much behind-the-scenes cutthroat competition as any other media! Many of the players discussed in the piece (like the late Gloria Staversgo back to the Beatles days, but it seems things were getting more competitive and heavy during this period of the Osmonds and the PARTRIDGE FAMILY! Kinda sounds like SMASH was a little jealous of these mag mavens, huh?  Click to enrage!

Compare the once-shocking goings-on in these 70s magazines, to the "tabloid media" we all live with today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DAREDEVIL #89! 1972 Sal Buscema Original Cover Art! Electro Strikes! Marvel!

Another great one from the "Phase Two" period at Marvel! Gaze upon this simply sensational Sal Buscema art for the front of DAREDEVIL #89! DD's really up against it, with not one, but two of his most hated foes zooming in for the kill! Long-time Spider-man foe, Electro, is even gunning for the blind, brave, battling bruiser! Click to enlarge, True Believer!

Take note on how the composition forces your eyes to the center of the scene,
and the struggling figure of Daredevil!

Monday, January 23, 2012

THE FLASH! 1990 CBS TV Show! Rare Pics and Article! DC Comics!

Here's a terrific article on the short-lived (but well-loved) TV show, THE FLASH! Based on DC Comics' long-running (heh) comics series about a super-fast superhero speedster, this production was a valiant attempt to bring the character to life in an exciting and colorful show! Green-lit after the mega-success of the 1989 BATMAN film, the FLASH show even skewed close to the overall look and feel of the Caped Crusader's silver screen outing! Below, from a 1990 issue of STARLOG, read about the behind-the-scenes planning, writing for the series, costume designing and manufacturing, and the actors' methods and feelings on the series! Read about how the producers strained to make the show very different from the 1966 BATMAN series, and how the Flash almost ended up as a "guy in a gray sweatsuit!" Click to enlarge!

I always thought the large, muscle-laden FLASH outfit, while quite well-made, made the character
look a bit too heavy and bulky, as opposed to unencumbered and sleek!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Super 70s SPIDER-MAN Sunday Strip! "The Way It Began!" 1977 Marvel Comics Triumph!

After the indecisive defeat of the scheming Kingpin (as seen in the last installment), a depressed and downtrodden Wall-Crawler looks back on how his tortured life as a swinging' superhero began! Let Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. take you back in time, as we re-live Peter Parker's first insecure steps as a super-doer! Watch as the tumult-tossed teen discovers an awesome array of new powers! Shrink away as annoying Aunt May once again interferes in, and worries about, the seemingly shy schoolboy's life once again! It's more full-color 1977 comic strip greatness! Click to enlarge!

It was common practice to re-cap a hero's origin, every few years, in order to bring 
new readers up-to-date! But, why is Pete's new "Spider-Sense" warning him of Aunt May's 
approach, when it works only with death-dealing menaces or incoming threats?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vince Colletta! THOR #152 Cover Art! 1968 Marvel Comics Greatness!

Some folks simply do not like the inking of Vince Colletta. They say it's rushed, sparse, thin, and never does the underlying penciller full justice. Not so! Stare at this fantastic cover art, to the front of THOR #152, and make your decision! Vince truly took his time here, inking over the powerful pencils of Jack Kirby, with tons of delicate feathering, shading, and texture! Take a glazed gander at the sheen of the villain's hair! The rough-hewn surface of the rocks and rubble! The folds on Thor's rumpled cape! Sure, Vince could work loose and fast, a valuable skill in those more deadline-centered days, but he did put lots of true artistic effort into many stories and covers, such as this one! Read more about the merits of Colletta's inking here! Click to enlarge, Asgardian!

Friday, January 20, 2012

SUPERMAN! 1953 George Reeves TV GUIDE Pics and Article! DC Comics!

We've all seen the famous cover. We know it's one of the most valuable TV GUIDE issues among collectors. But, have you ever seen the inside of the famed ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN issue? Let's look in, as we peek behind the scenes at the special effects (such as they were in the 50s), actors, stage hands, and secrets of this fondly-recalled series! It's amazing to think of how little the producers had to work with, in those early days of television, yet what an exciting and popular show they came up with! Click to enlarge!

Note the pic of producer (and story editor) Whit Ellsworth, who came directly from a
DC Comics editorial position to helm the TV series in California!

It's a shame that Reeves didn't live to see that he did indeed carve
a prestigious place for himself in entertainment history.

Above: Here's a nice 1987 overview of the show
(from VARIETY), published at a time the series was
being re-discovered as a Nick-At-Nite feature!

Above: A 1956 newspaper interview, with Whit Ellsworth,
about the 2nd season of the SUPERMAN show! Thanks
to Steven Thompson for this one!

Above: Dig this rare 1961 advertisement (directed to TV station programmers),
touting the series' availability as a purchased syndicated program! Thanks to
Fred Grandinetti for sending this in!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jim Aparo Draws--The Monkees?! Rare 1967 Original Comic Art! Davy Jones!

What's this? The work of Jim Aparo, one of DC Comics' greatest artistic talents? The man who worked for over a decade on the famed Batman team-up book, THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (among so many other comics faves)? Jim Aparo, drawing a strip starring the Monkees?! Yes! Done in 1967, for Charlton comics (where Jim first plied his trade on such comics as THE PHANTOM), this strip features the TV power-pop band, in some well-drawn caricatures by Jim! Note how the script (written by his soon-to-be partner on DC's AQUAMAN comic, Steve Skeates) works in the titles to dozens of Monkees songs, too! This was probably done for GO-GO COMICS (and the "Miss Bikini Luv" feature within), a whimsical book Jim drew for during this period, before being snapped over to DC, in the wake of Charlton editor-in-chief Dick Giordano making his move for DC! Click to enlarge!

UPDATE! Thanks to the great Jim Aparo fan, MW Gallaher, its been revealed that the Monkees art was not done for the GO-GO book, but for another pop-related title by Charlton! Read more about it (and see even more Monkees comic art by Aparo) at this fantastic site!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Earl Norem! 1984 Painted FANTASTIC FOUR Original Art! Marvel Comics!

I've covered the fabulous work of Earl Norem here and here on the blog, and we've seen his captivatin' cover for the 1984 FANTASTIC FOUR kid's book, so lets' now take a peek inside the FF book, to see some of his terrific interior art! Direct from the collection of Mark Depolito, here is a fabulous page, spotlighting the whole FF group in action! To the left is Earl's pencil preliminary sketch, including all the figure work and composition! To the right is the final painted image, ready for typesetting and paste-up, then publication! Click each to enlarge!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spidey gets SMASHed! Green Goblin! Doc Ock! Kraven! More 1975 Marvel Marching!

More mid-70s sensations from SMASH magazine! This time, it's all about the ever-amazing Spider-Man, and his colorful cast of cavorting crooked creeps! Dig the devious Dr. Octopus! Gaze at the grotesque Green Goblin! Cower in the company of corrupt Kraven! Most of all, dig that terrific Silver and Bronze Age art by Steve Ditko, John Romita, Sr., and Ross Andru! Click to enlarge!

In the 70s, before comic shops and the internet, kids LOVED
having the "inside facts" on a character's origin, in
addition to seeing early art and covers!

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Batman Dies Big!" 1976 Albert Bigley Original Comic Art! DC Comics?!

Another blockbuster from my artistic past! For some odd reason, I was possessed to re-create the 1968 BATMAN tale, "Die Small--Die Big!" I only had the later 1975 "Super Spec" reprint, but that sure didn't stop me from bogarting the awe-inspiring art (originally by Bob Brown and Joe Giella)! Did I feel I needed practice drawing actual comics pages with real storytelling? Did I have a new twist for the story in mind? Who knows, but it's fun to look at these two pages (all I managed to do before moving on to more exciting pastures), drawn by me at age 11! Not even the first time I tried this, either! Click to enlarge!

Odd how I cut out characters and dialog I musta thought were superfluous! Who has time for
all that extra writing?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spectacular Sunday 70s SPIDER-MAN Strip! "Freedom Can Be Subjective!" 1977 Marvel Comics!

It's all over for the corpulent crime-lord known as the Kingpin!  But, as all things in Spidey's woeful world, even a titanic triumph can seem like a devastating defeat! Looks like our Webbed Wunderkind is back to being the favorite whipping boy of pompous publisher J. Jonah Jameson, the crusading (if severely misinformed) newspaper publisher! Can our well-meaning Web-Spinner ever find happiness in a world that constantly rails against him? More 1977 Marvel mayhem from the minds of Stan Lee and John Romita Sr.! Click to enlarge!

Notice how effective the seemingly simple coloring is on this strip! In panel 2, the single color
 "batching" and "grouping" of objects (in the foreground and background) creates
a real sense of depth and direction! Same for panel 6!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Oddball Marvel Merchandise! IRON MAN Cookie Cutters? HULK Spatulas?

Is there anything Marvel won't take money for? I've yet to find it! Dig these nutty new items (all festooned with fabby Silver and Bronze Age images, natch) that utilize our favorite superhero sweeties in some--er--unique ways! How about some cookies, made to resemble the heads of Iron Man, Spidey, Hulk, and Captain America? At least they look darned nifty! How about, the next time you have to flip your hot waffle or fizzlin' flapjack, you reach for this spectacular spatula and use the Hulk's head to do your heavy lifting? After that hardy breakfast, pack for your trip to the booby hatch, using your mighty Marvel travel case, decked out with some classic covers, front, back, and inside! Check out that lining! Speaking of that, Marvel continues to line their prodigious pockets, accepting licensing fees from any and all comers! Click to enlarge!

Just a wee bit disturbing, huh?

Classic comic art by John Romita Sr.,
Jack Kirby, and--George Tuska?

Al Bigley himself sets out to
demonstrate all the uses of these
amazing spatulas!
Classic art by the usual gang, plus
John Byrne, Johh Buscema, Herb Trimpe,
Marie Severin, and others!

Friday, January 13, 2012

1977 INCREDIBLE HULK Pilot Movie! One Fan's Review! Marvel Comics!

If you recall the late-70s onslaught of Marvel TV movies (due to network and studio heads green-lighting anything even remotely like the highly successful STAR WARS), you also remember the (usually) bad reviews the films received from such "mainstream" outlets like TV GUIDE. But, what about in the fan press? What did long-time HULK readers think of ol' Greenskin's televised tantrums? Wonder no more! Below is a great '77 review by one fan (using a then-topical pseudonym), from an issue of the late and lamented COMIC READER fanzine! The review is dead-on, with most hardcore HULK fans pondering what happened to the gamma bomb, General Ross, and other super-powered staples from the (then 15-year old) comics series! Click to enlarge!

At the time, it was a rarity to see a DC
character drawn by long-time Marvel artist
Jim Starlin! Jim would later work for DC
in the 80s and beyond!

The "extreme" make-up for the Hulk
(as mentioned in the above article) would
later be toned down, once the
series began filming!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

SUPERMAN 2! 1981 STARLOG Review and Article! Chris Reeve! DC Comics!

Salary disputes! Unlawful movie piracy! Lawsuits! Am I talking about a current Hollywood headache? Nope! It's 1981's SUPERMAN 2! Read the entire sordid tale, in this interesting article from STARLOG magazine! Read about the original plans for this and SUPERMAN-THE MOVIE (A campy approach? A six-hour film?)! Wonder about what was cut from this sensational super-sequel! Ponder as to what exactly "PG love making" really is! Click to enlarge!

You needed a scorecard to keep
up with the many writers, directors, and producers
attached to the SUPERMAN films!

Note how the sales success of DC Comics' WORLD OF KRYPTON
      mini-series lead to the onslaught of the mini-series
       format in comics in the early 80s and beyond!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

George Tuska! Rare 1979 DC Comics Posters! Batman! Green Arrow! JLA!

Sure, I've covered the little-seen WORLD'S GREATEST SUPERHEROES 70s newspaper comic strip before, but have you ever seen these great promotional posters? These were published in order to hype and announce the then-new comic strip, and to get new readers acquainted with the Justice League superhero membership! Drawn by long-time Marvel maven George Tuska (with help from Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta), these are some fabulous and handsome images! This successful strip ran in papers from 1978 to 1985, and was originally brought in to being due to the late-70s popularity of SUPERMAN-THE MOVIEand the attention it brought to Supes and his DC Comics brethren! Click to enlarge!

DC was smart
to capitalize on the use
of mega-popular Batman and
Robin in the strip!

Note the inclusion of such lesser-
known stalwarts as Elongated Man and
Black Canary!

Actual original comic art
of a Tuska-drawn 1982 WGSH strip

Monday, January 9, 2012

BATMAN 1966 TV Show! RETURN TO THE BATCAVE! Catwomen Strike Back in 2011! DC Comics!

A whole potpourri of Bat-items this time around, all connected to the breathtaking BATMAN 1966 ABC-TV show! First up: A great overseas TV WEEK publication, with a fab behind-the-scenes (literally) pic of Adam West ("Batman") and Burt Ward ("Robin")! Click all to enlarge!

Below: Various on-set candid shots, taken during the filming of BATMAN!

Burt Ward and Adam West rehearse a scene
on the "Batcave" set! Is that a lighting 
umbrella/hood, or is the Penguin
set to strike?

Adam West always took time to chat
with female actors on the set of BATMAN!

Adam West always took time to chat
with small visitors to the set of BATMAN!
Framing a shot on the "Batcave" set!
 Did Batman forget his trunks?!
A publicity shot involving the first, early
"BatCycle" design! Used in an early episode
in an outdoor scene, the producers
brought the bike to the "BatCave"
set just for this pic!

Now our hero has lost his cape,
mask, gloves, belt, and trunks!
Holy indecent exposure!

Below: The actual "Robin" costume, worn by actor Jason Marsden for the 2003 TV movie, RETURN TO THE BATCAVE! This was a fun film that depicted the glory days (thru some loopy and fast-moving flashbacks) of creating the BATMAN series!

The costume is seen here in
a Florida frame shop, ready
to be put into a customized,
framed display!

Let's wrap up with this recent STAR magazine piece on the '66 series' two Catwomen, Julie Newmar and Lee Meriwether! Of course, Julie embodied the role in the first two seasons of the series, while Lee portrayed the Catwoman only in the 1966 BATMAN theatrical movie...Both lovely ladies are still going strong!