Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Great Minds Think Alike," Part Two ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

This is the second chapter in an informal series of "Comical Wednesday" posts which began, believe it or not, with a first part posted in December of 2014! Good things these so-called "parts" are all stand-alone articles, innit?

*  *  *  *  *


Okay, fellow babies, it's mind-reading time!

I'm closing my eyes (no, not really) and thinking of a comic book team of superheroes. This group consists of a group of “misfits,” mistrusted by most of the so-called “normal” people – like us – that they are sworn to protect. The characters debuted in 1963 (in “real world time” as opposed to “comic book time”) but are still around today. Their leader is a rather serious gentleman who is confined to a wheelchair.

Can you name the team?

“That's easy,” some of you may be saying, “and I don't even read comic books! It's Marvel Comics' X-Men!”

Good guess. But incorrect.

I was thinking of DC Comics' Doom Patrol. Now, if your knowledge of comic books is spotty at best, you may very well be saying “And who the hell are the Doom Patrol?”

The original Doom Patrol first appeared in DC/National Comics' My Greatest Adventure #80, cover-dated June, 1963. The book's title was changed to The Doom Patrol with #86.


The original members of the group, shown above, left to right, were "The Chief" (Niles Caulder, the man in the wheelchair), Negative Man (Larry Trainor), Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr), and Robotman (Cliff Steele).

Now for the X-Men. They first appeared in The X-Men #1, from Marvel Comics, cover-dated September, 1963.

Their original line-up, shown below, left to right, consisted of Iceman (Bobby Drake), Beast (Henry "Hank" McCoy), Angel (Warren Worthington III), Professor X (Charles Xavier, also in a wheelchair), Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), and Cyclops (Scott Summers). Iceman actually looked more like a snowman in the earliest issues, but changed his look to an icier one in issue #8.


"Splash" page of X-Men #5 -- the first one I ever read -- showing Iceman sporting his original design.

From X-Men #11, after Iceman had adopted his new look. Note Marvel Girl, saying
"Magneto gone! At last! At long last!" (Yeah, right.) This panel appeared in 1965,
back in those innocent times when readers actually believed a character had died
(or that we'd otherwise seen the last of him or her) when the writer told us we had!

Aw, hell, since I'm having so much fun with this Iceman thing, let me show you two more panels from Bobby Drake's early days!

 From X-Men #1. Nice that a carrot and two buttons -- not to mention a
bowling ball -- just happened to be lying around in their training area!

From X-Men #8.

Okay, back to business!

So, there you have it. The Doom Patrol's debut was cover-dated June, 1963, and the X-Men premiered in September of the same year. In other words, the creators of the X-Men (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) ripped off the Doom Patrol, right?

Well...

It's not that simple.

Back then, it usually took about six months to go from idea, to script & art, and then to actual printing and release. So a gap of only three months between the publication of one title and another pretty much tells us that the two similar concepts were being developed simultaneously.

There were other coincidences, too. For one example, DC's Doom Patrol had a group of enemies called "The Brotherhood of Evil." Over at Marvel, most of the X-Men's early issues featured battles with "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants," led by Magneto.

How about another example? The two titles had similar slogans!


Want more? Both teams fell out of favor with readers as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s. The Doom Patrol was cancelled (and its members apparently killed off) in 1968, and The-X-Men became an all-reprint title in 1970, and even suspended publication entirely for eight months in 1975.

And both groups were revamped and revived in the mid-to-late 1970s.

The new Doom Patrol showed up in Showcase #94, in 1977. Showcase was a DC tryout title.


The New Doom Patrol lasted three issues, and didn't show up again for years!

The X-Men had already come back by then -- two years earlier, to be exact -- in brand-new stories that had also introduced a new team.


As you and the rest of the world are probably aware, their new membership did quite a bit better, sales-wise.

And the rest is history, except...

It has been suggested that it's the Doom Patrol that is the rip-off, not of the X-Men, but of... The Fantastic Four?!? Go here if you'd like to read the (not-so-convincing) theory concerning that one!

*  *  *  *  *

Now, before I sign off here, here's a message aimed only at comic book fans. I want to call your attention to two new blogs listed on my blogroll.

The first is Panelocity, which compares similar illustrations from years of comics. No matter what you think they are, whether they're tributes, swipes, coincidences, whatever... These examples are mind-blowing! (This blog -- by Shar -- features a lot of drawings by the late Rich Buckler, who made quite a career imitating drawings by Jack Kirby!)

The second blog is called Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues! What this blog does is show the covers of non-existent comic books featuring "the greatest team-ups that never happened... but should have!" You'll see team-ups of -- or battles between -- characters (and not all from comic books) like Han Solo and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s Napoleon Solo, Galactus versus Godzilla, Wonder Woman and Captain America, Green Lantern and Hellboy, Doctor Who and Judge Dredd, The Vision versus the Terminator, and so much more. Blog author Ross Pearsall posts one of these beauties every single day! (Super-Team Family, by the way, was a real DC title published in the 1970s.)

So check 'em out, willya?

*  *  *  *  *

Okay, now I'll let you go!

Thanks for your time.

Friday, October 13, 2017

What I Did on My Summer Vacation


Hey, wait a minute. I didn't take a vacation!

But you did.

Well, a lot of you did, anyway. (And this past summer, it seems that a lot of the bloggers whom I follow took vacations, or were otherwise really, really busy with other concerns -- like writing novels and/or short stories, or spending time with spouses and/or kids, etc. -- that were naturally more important to them than blogging. Some of them were/are dealing with serious issues or illnesses befalling friends and/or family members. And when faced with things like that, who has time for blogging?)

But I've been here, plugging away. And for The Silver Fox, well-known for going for weeks or even months at a time without a post, I've been pretty regular.

(No, not that kind of regular!)

So maybe today's post should be called "What YOU Did on My Summer Vacation."

So, what have I been writing about? (Obviously, this is directed at those who haven't been stopping by here very often.) A lot of tributes to deceased celebrities, as always, but here's a general rundown, from just before summer began, until just after:

May 17: "Idol Eyes," a rather strange poem which only makes sense when you read it, and not when you hear it!

May 22: My tribute to the late actor Powers Boothe.

May 24: My tribute to actor Roger Moore.

May 30: Gregg Allman tribute.

June 5: "Kind of a Hang-Up," an article about how telemarketers and debt collectors are "making" us listen to their messages.

June 7: A very brief post about the phrase "It's all good."

June 8: "Three New Tributes" to Roger Smith, Elena Verdugo, and Peter Sallis.

June 12: Adam West tribute.

June 19: Tribute to Stephen Furst.

June 21: Bill Dana tribute.

June 26: A rare political post about the USA's healthcare situation.

June 28: "A Fluff Piece" about cute widdle kitties. Heh.

June 30: Another celebrity death, this time Michael Parks.

July 12: A reprinted post about the prediction that someday cash will be a thing of the past.

July 17: When Martin Landau passed away.

July 19: A post about Martin Landau's brief career as a comic strip artist.

July 22: Happy Birthday to Albert Brooks.

July 24: John Heard tribute.

July 27: "Short Shorts" about John Heard, Barbara Sinatra's death, and a movie I'm looking for...

July 28: The unfortunate death of voice-over artist June Foray.

August 1: An anecdote about my misadventures with the word "Ms."

August 9: My reminiscences about the late Glen Campbell.

August 14: Another "Short Shorts" entry about Joe Bologna's death, and some YouTube videos featuring Glen Campbell.

August 16: The fortieth anniversary of the death of You-Know-Who.

August 18: This one's about whether or not Maid Marian ever cheated on Robin Hood. (Well, in a way, it is...)

August 21: A dual tribute to comedians Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory.

August 23: A "Comical Wednesday" post celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of comic artist Jack Kirby (whose birth date is actually August 28th).

August 26: Yet another "Short Shorts" entry about Jay Thomas (R.I.P.), Clayton "Lone Ranger" Moore, Larry Storch, Pat Hatt's post about me, grammar goofs, a Jerry Lewis impression, "smoking a doob," Twitter, and finally, signing your pet's name to greeting cards!

August 30: Part One of a lonnng "Comical Wednesday" post about TerrifiCon 2017, held in Uncasville, Connecticut.

September 2: My revival of "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award! -- Given to the Author of a Single Outstanding Blog Post," won by Bish Denham for a post entitled "The Real America."

September 6: Part Two of my post about TerrifiCon 2017.

September 8: More Short Shorts! This time subjects include Mel Gibson, Twitter, Donald Trump, Confederate flags and shirts, and the misuse of the word "intact."

September 13: A tribute to the late Len Wein, prolific comic writer and editor, co-creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine!

September 16: "Spread Your Wings," a story about a young man's conversation with an angel and a devil.

September 20: What happened when Superboy met Bonnie & Clyde?

September 23: Actors Herbie Faye and Ned Glass, separated at birth?

September 26: My advice on how to write realistic-sounding dialog!

September 30: The death of Hugh Hefner.

October 3: Twinkle, a character from my childhood.

October 7: My tribute to Tom Petty.

October 11: A very brief "Comical Wednesday" post!

Whew! How's that? Not bad for a guy who used to go for months at a time without posting at all, huh?

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why I Blog, Sorta... ~~ A Very Brief "Comical Wednesday" Post (for a Change)


I just haven't gotten the "getting paid" part figured out yet.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ Okay, okay, today's post was a cheat. I told you not long ago that I had several posts ready to go, but unfortunately, only this one was a "Comical Wednesday" post.

Calvin and Hobbes © by Bill Watterson

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Tom Petty, 1950-2017, R.I.P.


Today's post will probably be fairly light, text-wise. (I say that now, as I begin writing it, but I have been known to get carried away, right?)

I'm not sure when I first became aware of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, which was then comprised of Petty, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch (no relation to Yours Truly), and Benmont Tench. It was fairly early, perhaps as early as the release of their very first LP. I can tell you that I sang "Breakdown" from that debut album in my own late 1970s, early 1980s band, Viper, along with "Refugee" from their third LP, "Damn the Torpedoes."

Usually, whenever I sang a cover tune, I tried to sing it as closely as possible to the original singer's performance. (Whenever I couldn't copy someone's style -- for example, I couldn't imitate Mick Jagger's voice when I sang a Rolling Stones tune -- I'd just sing it like "me.") This was the case when I sang "Breakdown" and "Refugee." I even managed Petty's odd, pseudo Desi Arnaz sound when singing the first verse of the former! After seeing my band play both Tom Petty songs, people from the audience would walk up to me and tell me I sounded exactly like Petty during those two numbers... and then went on to request that I not do that.

Okay, so maybe he didn't have the best voice in the business, but he had a style all his own, and I loved it. And I sure wasn't alone in that department.

Interesting. This is Tom Petty's yearbook photo, from the 1968 Gainesville,
Florida, Hurricane. Wikipedia says Petty dropped out of high school at the
age of seventeen. Hm. I suppose it was a last-minute thing...

Tom with a very young Stevie Nicks!

An early shot of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Petty as a member of The Traveling Wilburys, flanked by Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy
Orbison, and George Harrison. With all that vocal talent surrounding him, I always found it
odd that Tom ended up sounding more like Dylan than anyone else on their first LP.

Later in life. Not that my opinion matters, but I never warmed up to his bearded look.

And now, two Tom Petty songs, one that I performed, and one that I wish I'd performed!



Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How I Wonder(ed) Where You Are ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Well, here I am, fellow babies, posting every few days, with a list of celebrity tribute posts piling up in my blog's "drafts" list. I have columns dealing with other subjects, too, which are already written, but they're also staying in with the drafts for now. That's because I know most of my readers can't or don't visit every single freakin' day, so I don't like to post too many articles which would only serve to "bury" the older posts. Having said that, here's my "Comical Wednesday" post... and soon I'll print my tribute to Tom Petty, among others, I promise.

*  *  *  *  *


See that weirdly-drawn guy above with a star for a head? Well, I have vague memories of reading and enjoying his adventures back in the early 1960s, when I was somewhere between four and six years old. He wore a symmetrically divided costume with alternating colors, kind of like some court jesters did, as well as the original comic book Daredevil from the 1940s (see below). And by the way, fellow babies, do any of you know what that kind of clothing pattern is called? It's not "jester costume," it's not "harlequin," it isn't "motley," and since I've looked all over for the term, I'm appealing to you.

The ORIGINAL comic book Daredevil, from the 1940s!

Anyway...

Those "vague memories" also told me that the little dude's name was "Twinkle Loon" -- I presume the "Loon" part was derived from "lunar," seeing how the character came from outer space -- and I could always find him in Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children (pictured below).

This is a copy of Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little
Children... which you can no doubt read for yourself!


Not long after I became addicted to browsing the internet, I decided to look for anything I could find about the little sucker, so I typed "Twinkle Loon" and "Humpty Dumpty" and found... nothing.

Nothing at all!

I knew I wasn't hallucinating it! I was 100% certain that he'd appeared in Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children -- I'll just call it Humpty Dumpty's Magazine from now on, okay? -- and sure that he'd been named Twinkle Loon...

Well... pretty sure about that last one.

You see, I have vivid memories of my friend Scott shouting in a sing-songy kinda way, "Twinkle Loon, the man from the moon!"

It wasn't until I did some research on Humpty Dumpty's Magazine alone that I saw the list of its features, which told me that the little chap I remembered so well as "Twinkle Loon" was actually... "Twinkle." Just "Twinkle." Well, technically, his feature was called "Twinkle, the Star Who Came Down from Heaven." (Not from the moon, Scott! I figured that Scott must have made up the rhyme himself, simply because it sounded good.) The Twinkle feature was (only occasionally) credited on the mag's contents page to children's book illustrator Jay Williams, but the strip itself was signed "Mazin." Were Mazin and Jay Williams the same guy? I haven't been able to find that out... yet.



I was satisfied with that knowledge for a few years, actually. Then, one day not too long ago, I decided to do a little more research, and I found out that Twinkle had been published even earlier, with a completely different (and less quirky) art style, in a comic book title known as Calling All Kids. He debuted in its second issue in 1946. (The cover of Calling All Kids #2 is shown immediately after this paragraph, followed by the first two pages of Twinkle's premiere story.)




No creators were ever credited for writing or drawing this feature!

And it gets better.

Right after learning of Twinkle's 1940s incarnation, I said to myself, "Hey, I've got a copy of Calling All Kids in my own comic collection!"

Which, of course, I did. I had only kept it because it was a Golden Age comic and it was very roughed up, so I'd gotten it really cheap! But because it was a title that was obviously aimed at little tykes, I'd never even bothered to read the damned thing!

So I dug it out of its box, and... Yup! There he was, right on the cover!

My copy of Calling All Kids #24. Note the chunk missing from
the cover. When I said "very roughed up," I wasn't kidding!

Just for the record, I should add that Amazon.com has a review of a book written by an author named Annie Parker with this extra-long title: Twinkle and The Lost Starfish (Twinkle, The Star That Came Down From Heaven).

Hm. Maybe the book pre-dated both comic book series? Worth doing another search, I thought.

But for some reason, trying to find the book itself on Amazon.com by clicking on its title on the review page leads you to a page that says "SORRY, we couldn't find that page!" But the review -- just the freakin' review -- is still there! Frustrating as all hell!

So, for now, at least, I'm done trying to find out more about Twinkle's origins.

But now -- and I promise, I'm almost done -- here's where it gets even weirder:

The same day I discovered that the Twinkle character had started in the Golden Age, I decided to do a search for "Twinkle Loon." Not along with "Humpty Dumpty" this time, just "Twinkle Loon."

And.

I.

Found.

This.


A book. Not a comic book, I hasten to add, but an honest-to-God children's book. And the website on which I found it reprinted the entire thing from cover to cover. Here's the beginning:


But what really freaked me out was that this tiny spaceman looked familiar. I was thinking that maybe I was imagining its familiarity, when this illustration showed up:


A cold chill came over me as I thought, "I recognize this page! And... and... I even made that puppet!"

Okay, okay, I didn't literally think "And... and..." I'm just being colorful. But, as I said above, I was totally freaked out.

So that's what Scott had been singing about.

Why the hell did I remember Twinkle relatively clearly, and totally blank out on Twinkle Loon?

Memory's a funny thing, innit?

Thanks for your ti-- Oh, before I forget, in the pursuit of total truth, I should admit that I probably made that freakin' puppet with considerable help from my mother... But I'll be damned if I remember that, either!

Thanks for your time.

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