Friday, September 12, 2014


Last weekend I attended Cincy Comicon, held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.  It was a fun, packed weekend of artists and comics!  I talked with a lot of nice folks, found some back issues I'd been hunting for, and having my eyes bug out at some amazing sights.

I guess I need to lose weight if Galactus thinks I'm a planet.

Hulk and Iron Man with their good friend Kelsey.

Matt with Daredevil artist Chris Samnee.

Cincy Comicon's special guest Kelley Jones signing my copies of his Deadman miniseries.

A Leon Trotsky sketch commissoned by my pal Ted from Harvey award winner Chip Zdarsky.

A trio of stunning sketches from congenial Chris Sprouse.

Sprouse's Hawkman was the envy of all onlookers.

Green Arrow and Black at first sight.

A dynamite rendition of Dart from Atari Force!

Matt with Aym Geronimo artist Todd Fox.

A Batman sketch by Fox.

Fooling around at the Cincinnati Museum Center booth.

Making super hero masks in the kids' craft area.

A Lego enthusiast demonstrating his replica of Tony Stark's armory...which he's decided to wear on his head!

The boys are always excited to meet the local members of the R2 Builders Club.

These R2 units are amazing.  Not statues, but rather rolling, turning, talking movie-ready replicas.  Wow!

Me with some new friends.  See you all next year!

Friday, August 22, 2014


Robin Williams' TV character Mork was a pop culture phenomenon.  His wacky, anything goes style fit perfectly with Cracked Magazine's askew take on the world.  Cracked loved Mork, featuring him on the cover of seven issues within 1979 and 1980.  He was so popular he edged out Gary Coleman and Penny Marshall, two other Cracked favorites, for cover face time.  Covers meant be drawn by Cracked mainstay John Severin.  Severin, a legendary comics artist with a knack for likenesses, seems like he had fun drawing Williams' malleable mug.

Severin's original drawing for Williams' first appearance - Cracked #158 (May 1979).

His second regular issue paired him with Coleman, another character who dominated Cracked covers at the time (#161, August 1979)

Pam Dawber gets cover time again with Williams, just two issues later!  I wonder if Severin thought up those pants as Mork's beachwear. (#163, October 1979)

Here he is again, this time cracking up the logo as well (#167, March 1980).

The last time we would see Mork on a cover, in this "Love Boat" parody (#187, July 1982).  The fourth and final season of "Mork and Mindy" ended a couple of months before this.

Here's Williams at the center of this collection of his peers. (Collector's Edition #32, November 1979)

Mork had two "Collectors' Edition" covers all to himself.  The only TV/movie character to do so. (#35, May 1980).

(#29, May 1979)

John Severin's original art for Cracked Collectors' Edition #29.

Cracked Magazine would later do parodies of other Robin Williams' movies - "Hook" (#272, July 1992), "Flubber" (#326, July 1998) and "Patch Adams" (#334, May 1999).  But Williams was never on the cover again.  Those '90s issues are hard to find, so I'm not even sure if Severin ever drew Williams again, but it's a good bet that he did.

While Williams earned his way out of Mork's shadow through stand-up specials and dramatic roles, for millions of viewers who recall being excited by his weekly antics, he would always be Mork.  So, I'll leave you with this parody by Severin from Cracked #164 (November 1979):

Saturday, August 9, 2014


The cover of the latest issue of Comics Revue (June 2014) features Milton Caniff artwork commemorating the bicentennial.  This issue reprints the "Steve Canyon" strips from February 18 to March 17, 1973.  It is the conclusion to of a sequence that has Steve on a mission in Israel.  The intrigue puts him at odds with an early nemesis, Captain Akoola, now robbed of her beauty.

The Famous Artists School is an art correspondence course created in 1948 by illustrator Albert Dorne. Caniff (pictured bottom right) was attached to the school as one of the instructors for a couple of decades, though I'm unsure what involvement he had.  I know his work was part of the instruction courses, but I don't think he was involved in the grading/evaluating of submissions.  The school still exists, and they even have the classic cartooning course available.

Robert and Magdalen Livesey, who purchased the Famous Artists School in 1981, have donated the school's archives to the Norman Rockwell Museum.  The archives are unorganized at this time, so who knows what Caniff artifacts they may unearth!

You can read more about the donation here.  For information about the founding of the school and it's founder, Albert Dorne, I recommend this book.

The Eisner Awards were given out July 25th at Comic Con International in San Diego.  The event had a couple of Milton Caniff connections.  Jenny Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, was one of the judges.  The Library was founded on Caniff's archives.  The Library of American Comics (LOAC) took home awards in three categories.  The LOAC is the publisher of "The Complete Steve Canyon" series.  Congratulations to Dean Mullaney, Bruce Canwell and Lorraine Turner of the LOAC.  You can fine their reaction here.  A complete list of winners can be found her

Speaking of the LOAC, they recently announced a new project reprinting Corto Maltese.  Corto Maltese is considered by many to be the masterpiece of Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt.  Pratt's art was greatly influenced by Caniff.  I'm excited to read some Pratt in English, as all I've read were from the Pratt-edited "Sgt. Kirk" magazine, which is in Italian.  Pratt was apparently comfortable with the comparison, as he reprinted Caniff's "Male Call" strips in "Sgt. Kirk" alongside his own work.

The 12-volume "Corto Maltese" series will be edited by Dean Mullaney, but published under a new IDW imprint - EuroComics, beginning in December.

The National Cartoonists Society (NCS) has launched a digital magazine - the National Cartoonist.  The magazine is available to read online for free at this link.  The issue includes a report on the recent Reuben awards, a profile of Jim Borgman, and an article about the brief return of Bill Watterson to the comics page.  

The NCS published a print magazine - The American Cartoonist - in the late '70s, and an annual Reuben awards magazine - The Cartoonist - for several decades.  Milton Caniff was a founding NCS member, a past president, a two-time Reuben award winner and is the namesake of its lifetime achievement award.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


No reviews this time around, but FYI - the new John Hiatt is a good listen and the new Willie breaks his string of lackluster releases.  And wow, First Aid Kit?  Sing it, ladies...

Recent Releases of Note

  • Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong and His Friends [reissue of 1970 LP]
  • Louis Armstrong - The Complete Satch Plays Fats [reissue of 1955 LP w/ 10 bonus tracks]
  • Bee Gees - The Warner Bros. Years, 1987-1991
    • reissue of the three studio albums they did for Warner Bros.
    • 1 CD of demos and outtakes
    • 1 CD of an unreleased 1989 live concert
  • Johnny Cash - Out Among the Stars
  • Chicago - Chicago XXXVI: Now
  • Eric Clapton and Friends - The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale 
    • featuring Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and Mark Knopfler
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - CSNY 1974 [3 CD/1 DVD live set]
  • John Denver - Take Me Home [reissue of 1994 autobiography in print, Kindle and audio versions]
  • Bob Dylan - Rome Press Conference 2001
  • First Aid Kit - Stay Gold
  • John Hiatt - Terms of My Surrender
  • Jayhawks - separate reissues of post-Mark Olson albums, all with bonus tracks
    • Sound of Lies
    • Smile
    • Rainy Day Music
  • Billy Joel - A Matter of Trust - The Bridge to Russia [2 CD/1 DVD] [from 1987 trip to USSR, includes concert and documentary]
  • Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    • Single disc reissue of John's 1973 smash, or
    • Deluxe edition w/ a disc of rarities and covers, or
    • Super Deluxe edition w/ above + 2-CD live 1973 concert and a DVD documentary]
  • Elton John - The Million Dollar Piano [recent concert on DVD or Blu-ray]
  • Led Zeppelin - reissue of first three albums
    • Single disc reissues of each album, or
    • Deluxe editions for each, featuring live and unreleased material [3 CD for the 1st album, 2 CDs apiece for II & III]
    • Vinyl versions of the deluxe editions
    • Super Deluxe Edition with the CD, vinyl, download & book which Jimmy Page comes to read to you at your home]
  • John Lennon & Yoko Ono - The Smith Tapes: I'm Not the Beatles [8 CDs of interviews]
  • Jenny Lewis - The Voyager [7/29]
  • Paul McCartney - Off the Ground [remastered 1993 album with no bonus tracks]
  • Paul McCartney - iPad appversions of the recent Deluxe Edition box set reissues from Concord
    • McCartney, Ram, Band on the Run, Wings Over America, McCartney II
    • apps include the music, books and video content - all for $7.99 apiece!
  • Mike + the Mechanics - Living Years: 25th Anniversary Edition [2 CD w/ bonus & live cuts][UK only]
  • Willie Nelson - Band of Brothers
  • Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl
    • 1 CD/1 DVD reissue of 1989 album w/ bonus tracks, documentary and music videos
    • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye [7/29]
  • Frank Sinatra - reissue of eight albums from his Reprise years
  • Frank Sinatra - Rat Pack Live [combination of two previous Rat Pack releases as a 2 CD/1 DVD set]
  • They Might Be Giants - Idlewild [compilation album of the last decade's releases]
  • They Might Be Giants - the first album played live [free download at]
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun
  • Neil Young - A Letter Home
  • various - Bob Dylan in the 80s [covers tribute]
  • various - Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver
  • various - Petty's Peculiar Picks [compilation of songs played by Petty on his XM Radio show]
  • various - 2776
    • comedy-music journey through American history at the Bimillennial
    • Will Forte, Aubrey Plaza, Andy Richter, Patton Oswalt, Aimee Mann, Dick Cavett, Triumph, Neko Case, Ed Helms and more

Releases from this past Record Store Day on April 19th
  • ABBA - Waterloo [7" single]
  • Byrds - Straight for the Sun [2-LP 1971 live concert]
  • Johnny Cash - With His Hot & Blue Guitar [reissue of 1957 debut LP, limited to 3000]
  • Sam Cooke - Ain't That Good News [reissue of Cooke's last studio LP]
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival - The '69 Singles [10" record]
  • Everly Brothers - Roots [LP reissue]
  • Everly Brothers - Songs Our Daddy Taught Us [LP reissue]
  • Fleetwood Mac - Dragonfly [7" single from 1970]
  • Genesis - From Genesis to Revelation [LP reissue]
  • Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in the Sky [LP reissue]
  • Idle Race - The Birthday Party [reissue of 1968 debut on gold vinyl]
  • Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown [LP audiophile reissue]
  • Dean Martin - Dream with Dean [reissue of 1964 LP]
  • Randy Newman - Randy Newman [LP reissue of debut album]
  • Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes - Live at the Greek [3 LP on colored vinyl]
  • Jill Sobule - Dottie's Charms [new album that will debut on LP, released on digital and CD in May]
  • Ronnie Spector & the E Street Band - Say Goodbye to Hollywood [reissue of 1977 single]
  • Regina Spektor - You've Got Time [7" single on orange vinyl]
  • Bruce Springsteen - American Beauty [12" 4 song EP]
  • Hank Williams - The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 [10" vinyl EP]
  • various - The Folk Box [reissue of 4-LP box set originally released by Elektra in 1964]

Upcoming Releases
  • Beatles - The Beatles in Mono [14-LP reissue box set of the UK versions of the albums][9/8]
  • Bob Dylan - Shadows in the Night [late 2014]
  • Loudon Wainwright III - Haven't Got the Blues (Yet) [9/9]
  • various - The Art of McCartney [late 2014]
    • tribute featuring Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson, Barry Gibb, Steve Miller Band]

On Tour in the Tri-State
  • America - Louisville - 8/16
  • Beach Boys - Columbus - 7/29; Cleveland - 9/7
  • Mike Birbiglia - Dayton - 9/12; Cleveland - 9/13; Indy - 9/18
  • Chicago - Indy - 8/10; Cincinnati - 8/13
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash - Evansville - 8/19
  • Christopher Cross - Cleveland - 8/1
  • Miley Cyrus - Louisville - 8/9
  • Iris Dement - Cleveland - 9/19; Columbus - 1/16
  • Fleetwood Mac - Columbus - 10/19; Indy - 10/21
  • Jim Gaffigan - Indy - 8/17
  • Herman's Hermits - Belterra - 12/30
  • Indigo Girls - Akron - 8/14; Goshen - 9/13
  • Gary Lewis & the Playboys - Indy - 10/11
  • Jenny Lewis - Indy - 7/31
  • Paul McCartney - Louisville - 10/28
  • Don McLean - Cleveland - 10/10
  • Moody Blues - Kettering - 8/29
  • Willie Nelson - Indy - 8/23
  • New Pornographers - Cleveland - 11/15
  • Katy Perry - Columbus - 8/13; Cleveland - 8/14; Louisville - 8/16
  • John Prine - Cincinnati - 9/19; Indy - 9/20
  • St. Vincent - Cleveland - 9/30; Columbus - 10/1
  • Steely Dan - Cincinnati - 8/12; Columbus - 8/13
  • Styx - Louisville - 8/15
  • Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons - Cleveland - 11/9

Saturday, July 26, 2014


This week is Comic Con International, the largest, most talked about comic book convention of the year.  40 years ago, it was a more low key affair, but featured as guests men who were considered legends even then.  Granddaddy among them was Milton Caniff, then age 67 and over a quarter century into "Steve Canyon."  Caniff did the cover program, which featured Poteet Canyon, Bitsy Beekman, Steve and Summer Canyon.  The costumes are a little far out, but show that Caniff was hip to the scene.

Each guest had their own profile page.  Caniff took the opportunity to spotlight two other members of his cast - Oley Olson (son of Summer) and Stalky Schweisenberger (Oley's girl, who spoke only in one word sentences.  The profile of Caniff includes his bio from "Who's Who in America" as well as a personal account from Con co-founder Shel Dorf.

Dorf appears elsewhere in the program with his message to attendees.  I presume it was this con experience that solidified Caniff's relationship with Dorf, seeing him as more than a fan, but a pro doing his part to run a convention.  Dorf would accept Caniff's invitation to letter the "Canyon" strip in 1977. On either side of Dorf's column are illustrated well-wishes from two artists - "Jeff Cobb" artist Pete Hoffman and legendary Disney Duck comic book artist Carl Barks in a pseudo-self portrait.  "Cobb" would leave the funny papers in 1975.

As a fan of Charles Schulz since I could read, it boggles my mind to think that I could have met him and more recent hero Caniff at the same place!

Ok, throw in Russ Manning, too.  Wow!  Here's a guy who just now seems to be getting his due for turning out solid, clean, dynamic artwork for decades.  Check out his "Korak" and "Magnus Robot Fighter" comic book reprints from Dark Horse, or the Library of American Comics' "Tarzan" reprints.  Volume 3 comes out on Tuesday.

More spot illos and well-wishes from the program.  Fantasy artist Phil Garris and comic/animation artist Doug Wildey.  This Wildey picture confuses me, as I didn't know his Western character Rio predated the early '80s, when he appeared in Eclipse Monthly.  I wonder why he didn't use his then-running strip "Ambler."

Cracked Magazine's Sylvester P. Smythe by John Severin and Will Eisner's Spirit.  Cracked was probably at its peak circulation at this time, and The Spirit magazine was being published by Warren.

An evocative note from Alex Toth that makes you want to leave the con and hit the beach.  Genius, Animated, the third and final part of the Toth biography from the Library of American Comics, came out last month.

I'll leave you with one last illustration - the center spread from the program.  This is possibly the oddest jam drawing of all time.  Russell Myers' comic strip witch Broom Hilda faces off against Jack Kirby's Demon, with Schulz's Snoopy and Linus caught in the middle.  I've seen this one make the web rounds before, but it's so bizarre it's worth repeating.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


photo by Chad Frye

Russ Heath was the recipient of the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Reubens.  The Reuben Awards Weekend is held every year by the National Cartoonists Society.  This year's weekend was held May 23-25 in San Diego.  Heath has had several health issues the last few years, which forced him to cancel a convention appearance in 2013.  Fortunately, Heath was able to attend, accept and be the subject of a panel moderated by Mark Evanier.  Sergio Aragones presented the award to Heath, in recognition of his long art career.  Heath told the Washington Post that he's been humbled and honored to be recognized by his peers.  

Morrie Turner, the 2003 recipient of the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, passed away on January 25th at age 90.  Turner was the creator of "Wee Pals", a comic strip that had an integrated cast of minority and white children.  He began the strip in 1965, growing in readers and papers as his message of racial inclusion matched up with the zeitgeist.  He continued to draw the strip up until his death.  If you're a fan, "Wee Pals" originals frequently turn up on eBay, usually selling for under $10.

Hermes Press finally released "Terry and the Pirates by George Wunder: Volume One 1946-1948".
finally released.  Originally announced for July 2012, the book came out in February.  The dates on the cover and a previous press release were slightly deceiving.  The book does not reprint a complete two years of strips, as in the Caniff Terry volumes from the Library of American Comics.  Wunder's first strip was December 30th, 1946.  So, we get two days of 1946.  Then the book ends on February 15th, 1948 when the third storyline wraps up.

Focusing on the positive, the material that is here is beautifully reprinted, particularly the color Sundays.  There is a brief text piece from comics historian Ron Goulart, as well as pages reprinting examples of Wunder's original art.  As for the stories, Wunder patterns his art and storytelling after Caniff, gradually making the strip his own vehicle.  While he does bring back old favorite characters, the focus is on the new ones he's created.  This is good and bad, as Pat Ryan, once a co-star, becomes an afterthought, and three's a crowd in what's essentially a buddy strip for Terry Lee and Hotshot Charlie.  Overall, I appreciate Wunder's skill in handling a near impossible task - following the greatest adventure strip artist of all time.

No word yet on a volume 2, but there is hope.  Amazon is almost out of copies, so perhaps this was a good seller.

The April 2014 issue of Comics Revue is out.  This issue reprints "Steve Canyon" strips from Jan/Feb 1973.  It's the beginning of a story that takes Steve to Israel to investigate an archaeological dig that may double as a secret military installation.  The issue includes Mac Raboy's "Flash Gordon," Krazy Kat and much more!

Two Milton Caniff originals of "Terry and the Pirates" Sunday pages are part of a new art exhibit.  The exhibit is called Eye of the Cartoonist.  It is at the Wexner Center for the Arts, which is right next to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.  We told you about this exhibit, and it's sister exhibit "Modern Cartoonist: the Art of Dan Clowes" in our last issue.  "Modern Cartoonist" features the work of Clowes, and "Eye of the Cartoonist" showcases artists from the Cartoon Library who had an influence on Clowes.

The first piece is from July 4th, 1943 and it features military nurse Taffy Tucker in a sequence that provocatively features her nude in silhouette.  To read about the (fully clothed) nurse who inspired Taffy, click here.  The second piece is from October , 1941 and is from one of Caniff's most famous Terry story lines - the Death of Raven Sherman.