Sunday, February 18, 2018

One of My Earliest Memories

Today's post is one of those "just because I feel like it" posts.

I have only three memories from when I lived in my first home, but since my family moved away from there when I was just two years old, I think that's not too shabby.

One of those memories involves the very first toy I can remember getting (shown above). It was called Mr. Joggi. My sister Kathy and I both got one. The toy's hidden wheels, adorned with a series of suction cups, would stick to most surfaces. All we had to do was pull their strings, and then my sister and I would watch the little b@$t@rd$ crawl right up a wall (or, as I can vaguely remember, up a door jamb)!

Mr. Joggi originated circa 1952, manufactured by a company called Tigrett Industries. I've seen three different colors online. There's a blue version, like the one I got when I was roughly two years old, a red one like the one my sister got at the same time, and one that's kind of an aquamarine. I've only seen that last one on eBay.

And speaking of eBay, you know I went on eBay as soon as I thought of it to find the thing, right? I didn't even know what it was called, nor did it look exactly as I remembered it. (I recalled it looking more like Archie Andrews' jalopy in Archie Comics.)

This, of course, is not what Mr. Joggi looked like!

It took a few months, but every so often, I would do an eBay search in the "Vintage & Antique Toys" section, using only the term "suction cup," believe it or not, and eventually, I found the sucker! I bid on the first one I saw, so I ended up with a red one (still in its original package), like my sister had gotten, rather than a blue one like the one I'd owned over fifty years earlier.

Anyone else out there recall any of their earliest favorite toys?

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Letters, I Get Letters ~~ C.C. Beck ~~ Part One of a "Comical Wednesday" Post

Comic "god" Sheldon Mayer (For more info on Mr. Mayer, click here and scroll down a bit!) drew the above illustration to send to those readers who wrote fan letters to his remarkable Sugar and Spike comic, published by DC Comics from 1956-1971.

Sheldon Mayer died in 1991, and I wish I could say that I met the man, or that I owned something autographed by him. Or both. But I can't.

However, I do have several personal letters that I've received from various comic book professionals, and for the next few "Comical Wednesday" posts, I'll be bragging about them telling you about them.

I wrote a two-part post last summer about my attending TerrifiCon 2017 in Connecticut. Here, I told of meeting writer Marv Wolfman and artist Jerry Ordway, and here, I told you how I met writers Steve Englehart and the great Roy Thomas. But I only got signatures from them, not actual letters.

C.C. Beck, co-creator and initial artist of the original Captain Marvel (Yeah, that's right, the "Shazam" dude.), drew Cap from his first appearance until 1953.

And as for other comic work by Beck... Circa 1943, a character called Captain Tootsie started appearing in full-page comic book advertisements for Tootsie Rolls. The Captain's stories were supplied by the C.C. Beck Studios, and Beck had a hand in producing most of them. There was even a Captain Tootsie comic that ran for two issues in 1950, but they were not drawn by Beck. By the mid-1950s, the character was gone.

As told in detail in my post about the original Captain Marvel (linked to above), CM's adventures came to an end in 1953. In 1967, a short-lived publisher called Lightning Comics -- their only other title was called (I swear!) Super Green Beret -- came out with a character called Fatman, who starred in his own title, Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer. C.C. Beck drew the character, whose outfit pretty much resembled the original Captain Marvel's costume, only Fatman's was green instead of red, and he had a flying saucer for an emblem instead of the familiar lightning bolt.

When DC Comics licensed the rights to publish new stories about the original Captain, they hired Beck to draw him once again. However, Beck left the title after ten issues, citing "creative differences." Apparently, he felt that DC's writers were treating Captain Marvel too much like a clown.

C.C. Beck in 1982. Photo by Alan Light.

By 1988, C.C. Beck was writing a regular column for The Comics Journal called "The Crusty Curmudgeon." In it, Beck constantly lamented the tendency of modern comics artists to draw their books in styles that Beck thought were too realistic.

That summer, I wrote Mr. Beck a very nice fan letter, enclosing a copy of The Bird #1, written by me and drawn by my partner Skip Simpson in 1987. Beck's response, polite as it was, was to tell me that he thought the book's artwork was "too cartoonish" to be taken seriously. (Well, after all, it was a humor title...)

I had also asked him why The Comics Journal published his column at all, considering that their editorial viewpoint was more-or-less that comics should aspire to being great art, while Beck pretty much thought that comic books were and should remain a medium for children. He replied that the editors of the magazine and today's "yuppish liberals" were having a bit of fun at the expense of this "relic from the golden age."

His letter was typed, but at least he had hand-written the signature.

Only a few months later, I spent a couple of months with Skip Simpson and his family in Dunnellon, Florida. As it happened, C.C. Beck then lived in Gainesville, Florida, which was just an hour's drive away. Skip suggested I contact Beck and ask if we could visit him, but for whatever reason, I declined.

I wish I'd reconsidered. Charles Clarence Beck died roughly one year later, on November 22nd, 1989, at the age of seventy-nine.

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

My First 10th Anniversary... Huh?!?

Today, February 11th, 2018, marks the tenth anniversary of my first blog on Blogger, David'Z RantZ. If you click on that link, the blog's still there, but when I stopped posting new entries on it, I re-named it The David'Z RantZ Archives.

If you're familiar with the occasional posts I do here on The Lair of the Silver Fox with the "David'Z RantZ" label, you have an idea of what most of the posts on my other blog were like.

This coming October 12th will mark the tenth anniversary of this blog, The Lair of the Silver Fox, and on that date I'll subject you to a more detailed tale about my blogging history.

But until then, I'll be relatively merciful to y'all.

Here (more or less) is the updated look at that old blog 's appearance:

This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh, They Mean Well, But...

First (Imaginary) Scenario: I'm with a friend at McDonald's -- or Wendy's, or Burger King -- and the girl at the counter is... not really rude, just rather indifferent. My friend and I proceed to our table.

Friend: Well, there you go.

Myself: There I go... what?

Friend: There's your next post.

Myself: How's that?

Friend: Your next blog post, your next rant! There you go!

Myself: What are you talking about?

Friend: That waitress, the rude one. There's your next rant.

Myself: She wasn't really rude.

Friend: Well, there's your next rant.

* * * * *

Second (Imaginary) Scenario: A friend and I drive through an area I haven't passed through in over thirty years.

Myself: Wow... I haven't been around here in ages. Maybe even since I was a kid! [pointing] See that store? I must have gone there dozens of times when I was a kid. I'm surprised it's still open.

Friend: You should write a blog post about it.

Myself: What?

Friend: You should write a post about it.

Myself: Nahh... Nothing there to really write about. It's just a random memory.

Friend: You should write a post about it.

* * * * *

Third (Imaginary) Scenario: I'm giving a friend a ride, helping her do a few errands.

Friend: They moved it again...

Myself: Moved what?

Friend: [Names favorite new TV program] They changed its night again. How's it supposed to build up an audience and keep from being canceled if they keep changing the night it's on?

Myself: [shrugs]

Friend: That should be your next rant.

Myself: [shrugs]

Friend: Are you listening to me?

Myself: Yes. I'm also trying to watch the road.

Friend: It should be your next rant.

Myself: [shrugs]

Friend: Well, don't you hate it when they do that?

Myself: When they do what?

Friend: See? You're not listening!

Myself: Yes, I was...

Friend: Don't you hate it when they keep changing the night a program's on, so it doesn't get a chance to build up an audience, and it gets canceled?

Myself: [almost shrugs again, but thinks better of it] Sometimes. It doesn't bother me that much.

Friend: It should be your next rant.

* * * * *

Okay, friends -- and by "friends," I mean just that, my real friends in my real life, rather than other bloggers -- here's the new deal:

I'll write 'em. You read 'em. But you know how I feel about unasked-for advice, right? If it doesn't click for me, I'm not going to write it.

So if you really want to see all these ideas of yours on the 'net... Git yer own blog.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

They (Almost) Never Were a Nickel! ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" AND "David'Z RantZ" Post

I HATE IT WHEN (Comic Book Edition)...
  • Non-comic-book-readers write a newspaper or magazine article about comics, and the theme is either "There's Money in your Attic," or "Comics Aren't Just for Kids Any More."
  • Non-comic-book-readers automatically think FLASH! BAM! POW! or the like whenever they think of comics, thanks primarily to the silly 1960s Batman television show.
  • Non-comic-book-readers respond to any mention of comics with "Holy smoke, Batman," or something similar, thanks, once again, to that damned TV show. (Y'see, Robin, Batman's sidekick, often said "Holy [something]" in response to... well, just about anything. And his holy whatevers were usually pretty weird, if they made any sense at all. For example, in one episode, Batman realizes that three specific letters are missing from a bowl of alphabet soup -- I told you it was a silly show -- and Robin's response is "Holy Uncanny Photographic Mental Processes!" Well, non-comic-book-readers often think to use a "Holy..." line, but never come up with anything interesting or creative like Robin did in any of those episodes. Nine times out of ten, it's just a simple "Holy smoke, Batman," or "Holy shit, Batman!")
  • Some non-comic-book-reader in his fifties or older says he (or a friend) still has comics from the 1960s or earlier that are "all in their original plastic bags." Well, folks, with the exception of some multi-packs put out very briefly by both DC Comics and King Features in the mid-1960s, comic books weren't sold in plastic bags until the mid-1980s or so, when some publishers started including free trading cards or other junk stuff along with certain comics.
  • Older non-comic-book-readers say "I remember them when they were a nickel!"
Well, fellow babies, today's post is about these "nickel" comics.

Comic books in their current form (more or less) were a product of the early 1930s. The very first comic books from that era were promotional giveaways. The first comic book in the modern format that had an actual price tag on it was marked 10¢. Before long, almost all comics being published consisted of sixty-four pages (a count which sometimes but not always included the front and back covers, inside and out, thus the covers added four pages to the count). And they were all 10¢. They were never a nickel!

Well, actually, I should say that they were never a nickel... except for the ones that were.


In 1938, Dell published a one-shot, 512" x 712", 68-page comic book called Nickel Comics (shown at the top of this post). It had a color cover and a black & white interior, and sold for... 5¢.

In 1940, Fawcett (which also published the comics featuring the original Captain Marvel, as well as a lot of other titles) came out with eight issues of a bi-weekly, again called Nickel Comics (shown below). It starred a character called Bulletman. It had 36 pages (32 "real" pages, plus covers) for... 5¢.

So obviously, whenever someone says "I remember them when they were a nickel!" I cannot, in all fairness, reply "No, you don't! They were never a nickel!"

And what makes it worse, from the 1930s until relatively recently, comic books were sold mostly by newsstands on what was called a "returnable basis." Newsstands were supposed to return whatever comics were unsold when the new copy of each title was shipped. But to save work (and lifting) for all concerned, magazine distributors allowed the newsstand dealers to cut the title of each magazine or comic off the book, and send that back to the distributor, which would then give the newsstands credit for all the unsold copies.

The newsstand dealers were supposed to throw the remainder of the magazine or comic away, but a lot of them didn't. Ever see (or own) a comic that looked like the following two illustrations?

Laugh Comics #30, 1946

Batman #34, 1946

Those two -- and millions like them, over the years -- should have been thrown away, but some of the more unscrupulous newsstands put them out for sale at a price naturally lower than 10¢. Sometimes that reduced price was as high as 8¢. Sometimes it was as low as 3¢.

And other times... *sigh*... it was a [razzer-frazzer] NICKEL!

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

So... Where's the Money Going?


From the ages of two to nineteen, I lived in the town of Oxford, Massachusetts. During my grammar school and high school years, I was a patron of what was then referred to as the Charles Larned Memorial Library. (Now it's called the Oxford Free Public Library, but I'm not sure when they made that change.) The above picture shows what the library looked like during most of the twentieth century, before an add-on in the rear, completed during the year 2000, approximately doubled the building's size.

My childhood patronage was back in the good old days -- I refuse to say "back in the day" -- when "SHH!" was the word most heard there, and thankfully, it was also long before cell phones existed, so no one had to listen to idiots carrying on conversations that needed to be taken outside.

But I digress. What else is new?

For the past few years, I've been spending quite a bit of time at this library and the one in nearby Webster, the town in which I now live.

A couple of days ago I was there, reading a brochure about The Friends of the Oxford Free Public Library. Here's a brief section from that brochure:

The Friends of the Oxford Free Public Library was formed and incorporated in 1992 with the purpose of maintaining a membership of people who are supportive of the library, to focus public attention to library services, facilities, and needs; to simulate gifts of books, magazines, collections, endowments and bequests, and to communicate the needs of the community to the staff and the library trustees.

If you read that carefully, maybe you caught what I did, the sentence that includes "to simulate gifts of books, magazines, collections, endowments and bequests".

Uhhh, do ya think they mighta meant to write "stimulate" rather than "simulate?" Cuz if they didn't, that means that they're only pretending to do those things, which means that somebody in the organization is embezzling their funds!

And if that's the case, I wonder where the money's really going?

A relatively recent drawing of the Oxford Free Public Library, from
an angle that shows the building as it's looked since the year 2000.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. ~~ And yes, in all seriousness, I told them about the typo and they promised to fix it.


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