Monday, September 27, 2010


The death of Harold Gould on 9/11 didn't get much press. I didn't hear about it until two weeks later, and I'm usually on top of this stuff. For those hoping for any kind of "Rhoda" reunion, only Rhoda and Brenda are left. Gould appeared as Rhoda's father, Martin Morgenstern, on surprisingly, if IMDb is to be believed, only 20 of the show's 110 episodes. Most of these were in the first two seasons, with eight of them in Season 2, released on DVD earlier this year. I always liked Gould as the sensible counterpoint to Nancy Walker's Ida Morgenstern, the overbearing mother and forerunner to Marie Barone.

Gould's also known for his recurring role as Miles Webber, Rose's boyfriendo n "The Golden Girls". I was no longer a regular watcher of in the final two seasons when he appeared. In the dozen times a day they run the show on WE and Hallmark, you might catch one with Gould.

Gould was a popular guest actor, appearing on dozens of different series from "Dennis the Menace" in the early 60s to an episode of "Nip/Tuck" this year. He also had roles in a few series that never went anywhere, even leading in one of them. Gould starred as Jonah Foot in "Foot in the Door", a midseason replacement for the too short-lived spoof
Filthy RichM
on CBS. Even though it followed top-trated "Archie Bunker's Place", it was cancelled after six episodes. I never saw it because it was on opposite the first season of "Family Ties", and I loved me some "Family Ties".

There is, oddly enough, a video tribute to Gould for his guest role on "Hawaii 5-0" three-parter -

and here's the intro to his show with Stefanie Powers which few remember and even fewer saw -

...though when I mentioned this week's blog topic to pal Jim Alexander, he said, "Oh, Harold Gould from "The Father and Feather Gang"?"

Monday, September 20, 2010


The first ever Cincinnati Comic Expo was held last week on September 18th. Cincinnati has been notoriously bereft of a decent comic show. Even though Wizard World bought last year's lousy show, there has never been any announcement of when we will see Wizard World Cincinnati. They can just pass us by if they want. We've got it covered.

A great time seemed to be had by all. I think having it in the main concourse of the Cintas Center was a creative idea. Dealers and guests were lined up along the wall on both sides and there was plenty of room between. It was a very comic-centric show, void of the media guests that seem to dominate other shows. Those types of guests have their place, but an all-comic show was part of the vision con partner Andrew Satterfield told me about earlier.

The local dealers were out in force, with half of the Cincinnati-area shops having booth space, as well as a shop down from Dayton. Some local businesses I saw were new to me, like Lego dealer Cincinnati Bricks. Even a well-known publisher, Moonstone Books, was there with a special Captain Action comic. Rounding out the show was a large small press presence, very reminiscent of SPACE.

For me, this show was about the main guests - Michael Uslan, Murphy Anderson, Alan Bellman and Russ Heath. Uslan is many things to comics - an historian, a professor, and a writer, but he's probably best known as the man who acquired the movie rights to Batman and worked to get a movie made when everyone else thought it was a bad idea. This may be the reason Uslan always seems to be smiling. I missed Uslan's keynote address at the con, but heard it was entertaining and informative. He graciously signed my copy of the 70's paperback "America at War: The Best of the DC War Comics." Uslan also shined as the moderator of the panel pictured above. He kept the panel and listeners engaged, expertly dividing questions and time among the three guests. Kudos to him for also overcoming the intolerable noise situation coming over the partition from the gaming room next door.

Looking like an aged screen idol, the dapper Murphy Anderson sat calmly with his wife and genially signed comics all day. He had no wares to hawk, rather he had sixty years of comics history there for the asking. I am a latecomer to his work, only recently discovering, through reprints, his large body of work for DC, particularly the heroes of the Silver Age. His soft baritone voice was sometimes hard to discern in the panel. I did hear what to me is a surprising admission, that his most satisfying work is when he had the contract to do "P.S. Magazine" for the military, having taken over from his mentor Will Eisner. Anderson signed my copy of the Captain Action guide. Anderson was the primary box artist for the venerated toy line.

I don't recollect hearing of Allen Bellman before his appearance for this show was announced. He left comics after the Golden Age, and his work has rarely been reprinted, so it's no wonder (though Marvel has been doing more and more in that era). Bellman was a bullpen artist for Marvel, then known as Timely Comics, in the 1940s. After he left comics, he thought that was it. Almost fifty years went by before he was sought after for interviews about his comics work. This opened up a whole new world of conventions and recognition for Bellman, highlighted by a standing ovation as an Inkpot Award winner at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. In Bellman I found a fellow Milton Caniff devotee. "I used to sleep, eat and dream about Milton Caniff," Bellman told the crowd. "He was a god to all the artists." Bellman even started an amateur version of the National Cartoonists Society and asked Caniff to write an article for their newsletter. To his surprise, Caniff wrote him back. "The greatest adventure of my life was getting a letter from Milton Caniff."

I spent the most time with Russ Heath, who I wrote about last week. I brought seven different books to sign, and he not only signed them, he would also peruse them and talk about the work that he did. He did this at length on my copy of "Little Annie Fanny", on which he collaborated with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder and Frank Frazetta. "It's very hard to know who did what," he said, as multiple artists would work on the same page, and sometimes the same panel! He paged through it methodically, telling me who did what. It was a one of a kind history lesson from the last man left to tell the tale. Phenomenal.

Heath is a mystery - seemingly curmudgeonly and unapproachable, but then talkative and humorous. Uslan asked him about pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's swipesof his work. "He made $4 million on it and never even bought me a cocktail," Heath lamented with a smile. But not to worry. "I can relax, 'cause he died. I can't get at him." Heath was asked about why he was a stickler for artistic accuracy, particularly in his western and war work. He brought it back to childhood, when he went to see a Western with his father, a former cowboy. His father complained about the movie's authenticity. Those impressions stuck with him when it came to drawing comics. "I wanted people to think I knew what I was talking about." For example, as he signed my copy of 'Hearts and Minds', his 1990 graphic novel for Marvel, he complained about how they got some of the colors wrong. "I took a long time getting that right," he said, still bothered by it after 20 years.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


In the original post, I reported that Russ Heath would be appearing at Up Up and Away in Cheviot from 4-6 pm on Friday, September 16th. That appearance has been cancelled due to a change in Mr. Heath's traveling schedule. He will still be appearing at the Comic Expo.

Comic book legend Russ Heath is coming to Cincinnati this weekend. He is being brought in as a marquee guest for the Cincinnati Comic Expo being held September 18th at the Cintas Center. The genial Heath has worked in every genre of comics, but is best known for his work on DC Comics' war titles and his stories of Sgt. Rock, the Haunted Tank and the War That Time Forgot. His work may also be on more comic covers than any other, well, back covers, that is. Heath drew two toy ads that appeared on the backs of many comics for years (see above picture).

Heath's career reaches back over six decades, starting out drawing Westerns for Marvel in the late 1940s. When Marvel tried to revive their superhero line in the early 50s, Heath was right in there, drawing the first appearance of Marvel Boy, a character who's been revived in the past few years. Heath also added a steady diet of science fiction and war comics to his resume. While he worked almost exclusively for Marvel, he did do one story for EC in the first issue of Frontline Combat. In 1954, he began drawing war stories for DC while still doing work for Marvel, over the next five years this gradually shifted until he was doing all DC work. His last regular Marvel story appeared in 1959. Heath drew a nice string of Robin Hood stories in the early issues of "Brave & the Bold", but it was the war books where he was the most prolific, appearing in all of their long running titles, sometimes doing five six-page stories a month!

While the war books were mostly anthologies he shared with other artists, for a year he had his own series, "Sea Devils", about a group of underwater adventurers. Also during this time he was assisting Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on the "Little Annie Fanny" comic strip for Playboy. Gradually, the bastions of the war genre that had been his bread and butter fell one by one until only "Sgt. Rock" was left standing in the '70s.

Heath's comics career was sporadic after that. He did some work for the short-lived Atlas/Seaboard company as well as stories for the Warren magazines. In 1989 he came back to Marvel for a couple of Punisher stories. He also did some work for Marvel's war series "The 'Nam" and their Vietnam graphic novel "Hearts and Minds". Over at DC he did a story arc for "Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight". After the mid-90s industry bust we saw very little of Russ Heath.

Over the past decade he's popped up here and there, most recently doing covers for Dave Sim's humorous/historical "Glamourpuss" series. His highest profile project has been "Legend", Howard Chaykin's adaptation of the Philip Wylie's 1930 novel "Gladiator", about the world's first superhuman. Fortunately, publishers have been somewhat reprint-happy and there's some Heath gold in those collections. DC Comics has issued most of his Haunted Tank and Enemy Ace work via their "Showcase Presents" series of black and white collections. Marvel has reprinted some of his 1950s work in their "Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era" color hardcovers. And while he only has one story in it, the Blazing Combat collection is now in paperback from Fantagraphics and has our highest recommendation.

If you're in town, come meet the man who draws this amazing art!