Sunday, October 14, 2018

Artist Pat Broderick rocks!

Patrick Broderick was 17 when he answered a cattle call for DC’s new Junior Bullpen project. How lucky was he to step out of the long line and run into Carmine Infantino? Pat drew early appearances of Iron Fist in Marvel Premiere, and later, Captain Marvel, a flame-headed guy called Ghost Rider in a Marvel Team-Up fill-up, and a good run on Micronauts (succeeding Mike Golden, ending with #34, cover date, Oct. 1981) before he started Firestorm back-ups at DC. He later co-created the Nathaniel Adam iteration of Captain Atom, also drawing Batman: Year Three, a terrific revival of Green Lantern, and the inventive Doom 2099. He’s also been an adjunct instructor at the Tampa Bay Art Institute. Pat returned to draw more Green Lantern and various covers for Marvel, also.

We had an amazing time, talking. (Well, we certainly weren't doing the polka!)
Here's part one. We've focusing on his time on Firestorm, but we also talk about why he left Micronauts, how he got started, discovering Rafael Kayanan, and lots more. We also briefly discuss (anti-) social media! So what's he been up to? Find out!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Tarzan's breath-taking return to new adventures

Hey! Love high adventure?
You're here because you love Tarzan. You just might feel they don't make'em like that anymore! And I'm not the guy to argue THAT!
Tarzan's books began a century ago, with Edgar Rice Burroughs- at a whopping dime per word- captivating imaginations the world over.
Saturday afternoons brought us black and white Tarzan thrills with Johnny Weismuller and Buster Crabbe. (My pal Ron Frenz- who cut his teeth in the Savage Land drawing Ka-Zar- actually shared a theater with Crabbe one night!)
(I love elephants. I want to tell you about the elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka...look it up and I will tell you, later.)

That's the first Tarzan y'boy C Lue remembers. Even to the present day, the legendary Lord Greystroke has entered the Hollywood jungle, with a 2015 entry atarring Alexander Skarsgard that took on modern sensibilities head-on. I feel LEGEND will only grow in cult stature.
Frazetta's ACE Tarzan covers, like all things Frazetta, gave Tarzan a pulp life and new fans after his films had fallen out of style to make.

But the '70's were a great time for high adventure revived in comics and magazines. The much-loved property was graced by stellar artistic talent like Joe Kubert and John Buscema, to just begin the list, which absolutely, to my mind, is defined by Burne Hogarth. Burne's books of illustration belong on the shelf of anyone aspiring to draw athletic figures in action to this day. If you want to learn the Classical style of figure drawing, these are your teachers.
A great way to preserve those adventures through adaptations by masters like Roy Thomas, to be sure. But what in the modern mind is the creative response to this archetypal mythos?

Tom Grindberg, after a feisty career in comics, finally got his dream job illustrating the new novels coming out this year. Take a step back: he became the illustrator of The New Adventures of Tarzan Sunday strip! Here's a 2014 sample of his work before it was colored.
Now, imagine turning this guy loose on the newly-authorized canon novels here in the 21st century! On his Facebook page, Tom's been gracing us with illos for the project, so if you love Tarzan, you should keep an eye out for that!

So, what inspired me to evoke The Lord of the Jungle today?

As a curator of classic adventure, I love passing along the original stories that won the hearts of fans and inspire modern creators world-wide. Just as importantly to me, I love to connect the history of your favorites to the creators still with us, some of whom, like Tom, and the next guy below, using skill and experience to turn in their most senses=shattering career work.

Here: this is from my friend David Anthony Kraft, who wrote the very first NEW Tarzan graphic novel at Marvel! Imagine a modern telling of another time! Breath-taking storytelling with crackling visual detail at today's level of print technique! DAK, Onrie, and a diehard squad bring to life the cinematic epic Yi Soon Shin. It's NOT your daughter's Manga!- C Lue

DAK says:I wrote the first new Tarzan novel in comics for Marvel (Gold Key, DC and, until me, Marvel too had all done adaptations from time immemorial, or at least a couple decades). In so doing, I kicked off a renaissance of original Tarzan stories in comics that continues to this day. For me, it was a dream and it happened yesterday; for those who measure time in mortal years, well, let's not go there. So it occurs to me that some of you devoted Edgar Rice Burroughs fans may find Yi Soon Shin up your adventure alley -- and so, since it is more untamed than once the Comics Code would allow, but a rousing adventure ala ERB, and because you can read the first three issues FREE to see if it's for you while our current Kickstarter campaign is running, I'll include the link in comments below. And if you really want to know more, check out the most recent Rap with DAK on my Facebook page.

(Does he know what he's letting himself in for? A true soldier- C Lue)

Look, I bought those first four issues myself, and now, you can read three for free! I'm just telling you, as a lover of high adventure,
this is a real story brought to dramatic life, and it just might fire you up for whatever challenge comes to your life. If Yi could fight a mighty armada, surely a spirit like that deserves to live on in imaginations today. The Yi team is right there on Kickstarter. Tell'em C Lue sent ya!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Cecil the Hacker!

For kicks, I played along with a status suggesting you type in your first name plus Marvel Comics.

That's how I discovered Cecil the Hacker.

He's a character from The Unbelievable Gwen Pool, which means he is from a set of stories so far outside the Marvel I grew up with, I may have never gotten around to discovering him in this decade.
There's an entire other Marvel world where Gwen got the spider bite that made Peter Parker, Spider-Man. That's fine with me. I understand they've had a lot of fun with the character.
Cecil looks like he's a pretty fun guy, too. I can't judge how inspired he really is without reading the comics.

I tend to put a lot more effort into these posts, which makes them much more rare than if I would update them with a paragraph and a couple of downloaded pictures every day or so. Right now, all my comics-related energies are devoted to Firestorm. I have been editing a Creating Marvels audio file where I talk with Patrick Broderick, who also drew Doom 2099 for Marvel when I was still in school.
Maybe if I just ripped on the comics in a snarky fashion, I'd pull in five times the traffic, rather than preserving this conversation with the classic generation of creators with whom I grew up. But, it's also part of my paying feature work, and besides, I love that material still, too.

But Cecil.
There's really a character with my name.
And you, dear reader who came here 'cause you're into Cecil the Hacker a bit, will find little else for now from me. Lame, I know. But, I have things to do. Feel free to comment away.

Gwenpool's kind of a joke character, but those seem to be doing well overall, for the remainder of the comics crowd. I think more to the point, she's the kind of whacky character- a mash-up of Gwen STacy (but fun) and Deadpool- likely to translate into cartoons, which are where the eyeballs are these days. This comic's been out for a couple of years, but I really only ran across her in a few issues of Slott's Spider-Man where he crossed over the Spider-People. I uhm, didn't quite finish it. It was nice to see Spider-Ham again. I was reading it to see what they did with Spider-Man '67, the hero that's launched a thousand memes. What can I say, soft spot for that old cartoon of his.

So it's probably good to get familiar with ol' Cecil. He's been kicking around a while, and it's not like I get grumpy about anything new for its own sake. I'm preserving the past at the present, but I tutor young people every single day, so I'm open to new things.
Never know. I've spoken with Joyce Chin and Afua Richardson, and I've had every intention of talking to more of the newer creators if I can find a paying home for writing about them. So Christopher Hastings, I may head your way next year! The smell of old newsprint will herald my arrival.

Cecil the Hacker. Now I know. I say, sure, Gwen, I'll give it a whirl.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Gerry Conway's Firestorm! A teaser

Gerry Conway- famed writer for Marvel, DC Comics, and many television shows (Law & Order, Matlock, Father Dowling Mysteries) in the late 80's and throughout the 90s- sat down with me one recent afternoon.
Well, our story begins with CRAP.

We could start with the Kirby-flavored cover- that’s no surprise, when you consider the artist, Allen Milgrom, has been inking the King’s covers for Marvel. But it wouldn’t be Conway-era Firestorm without a few laughs, right?

The Coalition to Resist Atomic Power (Conway's little joke, with the un-addressed acronym, CRAP- thanks, Fire & Water podcast- if you love this character or Aquaman, or just DC Comic-crazy) recruits the new kid in town, an athletically-gifted teenager who’s been bouncing from town to town with his father, named Ronnie Raymond. All Ronnie really wants is to impress this cute girl he’s met named Doreen Day. He’s not really a dumb jock, but his rival for the girl, Cliff Carmichael, is both a brain and a bully, who undermines Ronnie from the start. Ronnie’s constantly over-shadowed by Carmichael in class, since the teacher, Mr. Taubman, has little sense of balanced classroom management. Now, what’s up with the principal who’s keeping an eye on a story tied directly to that town-to-town gyro-vagueness and one day, we’ll know why! He’s easy to get behind, for anyone who’s been the outsider...and we’ll quickly see, he’s in over his head in every way.

So the Coalition bunch presents themselves as protesters, and hey, here’s a way to make a difference! Away Ronnie sneaks into the night, invading the latest nuclear facility, designed by a buttoned-down fellow named Dr. Martin Stein. Along with his assistant Danton Black, he’s created the safest, clean energy facility in the world. But in Luddite fashion, the protesters turn out to be terrorists, who meet Stein’s rebuke with violence. They leave Stein and Black to their fate when they trigger the facility’s destruction. Ronnie Raymond’s left behind to become the proverbial fall guy.

And then...something wonderful happens. Something born in the fervent imagination of Gerry Conway.

I had ten minutes of data left on my podcast for the month, so I thought I'd share this teaser of our talk! Yes, he co-created the Punisher, the revamp of Carol Danvers as Ms. (now Captain!) Marvel, and Power Girl, as well as our subject today, ol' Match Head, the Nuclear Man: Firestorm!

So give it a listen! I'm very busy writing up the interview with many, many Firestorm creators. But here's Gerry and I talking about the first Spider-Man cartoon's Paul Soles and Gerry's inception of Firestorm. Lots more on the way.

BE chill, Cease ill

Monday, September 10, 2018

Celebrating Spider-Man's original 1967-69 cartoon

Along with its pop culture phenomenon theme song, the original ABC run of Spider-Man, and its many reincarnations in syndication around the world (but especially in native-content-loving Canada!), gave the superhero a platform which I think launched his popularity ever skyward! Already a surprise smash hit for Marvel Comics from his 1962 inception by writer/editor Stan Lee and designer/plotter Steve Ditko, the wallcrawler's exposure through the Grantray/ Lawence animated series took him into homes for Saturday mornings- and then, afternoons ever after- to fascinated children of all ages everywhere.

The series debuted on September 9th, 1967, which prompted me to share a bit of my re-discovery of the hero's famous, jazzy, funky and sometimes hilarious adventures. The second regular series writer on Amazing Spider-Man in 1972, a teen named Gerry Conway, told me he was eager to consume any iteration of his favorite Marvel characters. He watched Spider-Man every week, following its (barely) animated predecessor, the memorable Marvel Super Heroes series, with its thirteen installments of half hour adventures of Captain America, the Hulk, Iron Man, mighty Thor, and Prince Namor, the Submariner. Now, some fans of the comic couldn't take it very seriously when it came out, true. My advice is, don't take it too seriously.

Someone at, fifteen years ago after the DVD re-release, described the series once as "a comedy featuring an action hero." Take it in that spirit and you can appreciate both aspects! (That's arguably the approach to Spider-Man: Homecoming!) I eagerly watched and tape-recorded (so long as I had cassettes!) the longer straight-adventure episodes of the last two seasons, too- and they have a charm all their own. Funny- a lot of fans of the first season, with its Marvel villains in preponderance, don't like those much at all! Yes, it did get a little too "swingy" plot wise, and the original villains got more and more strange, culminating in the Rocket Robinhood-originated Infinata. His episode, "Revolt in the Fifth Dimension," is mentioned after a Season Two rehash called Spider-Man battles the Mole Men. That super-eery cartoon, it's often said, was too creepy for ABC to air it originally. History seems unclear on how much of Season Three was aired on ABC and how much went straight to syndication- I don't know why.

Maybe more interesting is the way a definitive cast list of voices eluded us for so long. The voice of Spider-Man/ Peter Parker, Paul Soles, went on to numerous acting jobs, such as Gemini-winning supporting actor turn in 2005's Terminal City on Canadian TV- even the recently-award-nominated web-based comedy shorts series, My Ninety-Year-Old Roommate. (Paul actually celebrated his 88th birthday on the day I made my first post assembling the great score music of Spider-man: August 11th!)

Paul really didn't have much to do with the famous cartoon, which was an extra job he picked up besides his regular day jobs like the afternoon topical series Take 30. A new father, Mr. Soles didn't sit down to watch the debut on September 9th, 1967. He did, however, play a cameo as Stanley the pizza-shop owner in Ed Norton's 2008 Hulk movie. A few years later, Paul attended his first comics convention in 2015, in a Golden Hawks fighter jacket designed by his son, Robert, with a great Spider-Man '67 logo and art! He's embraced the spotlight from the role at long last.

He does, however, recall his fellow thespians on the show, who all came from Canadian radio, a troupe assembled by, and directed by, his cousin Bernard "Bunny" Cowan. Cowan, Paul (J. Jonah Jameson) Kligman, and Peg (Betty Brant and EVERY woman on the show, it seems) Dixon were the few show regulars to receive an end show credit, but I've uncovered many other actors. One that bears notation was part of the troupe's first smash success: Billie Mae Richardson, who voiced Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in the 1964 television Christmas special beloved around the world to this day. Billie Mae played Billy Connors on Spider-Man, as well as the corner newsboy. Extra, extra, read all about this: Hermie the Dentist on Rudolph is...Paul Soles. Burl Ives, the singer, hosted the show as a snowman; Top 40/ Adult Contemporary disc jockey Carl Banas played the spotted elephant. Banas also gave us the voice of Spider-Man foe, the Scorpion!
Here's Vulcan from "Trubble"!

Ed MacNamara (I think, husband to Peg Dixon) played the Rhino, plus Blackbeard from Night of the Villains, and Vulcan from Paul's favorite episode, the mythology-referencing Here Comes Trubble (ep. 20). Len Carlson played the mysticism-loving, Halloween-like Green Goblin, as well wax-creep Parafino, and one of the Patterson twins you might know as STan and Lee, the Fly Brothers! He was also Martian thunder god Bolton. Speaking of Parafino's wax villains, the Executioner of Paris was played by Max Ferguson, who was the Fifth Avenue Phantom a couple of episodes earlier. When you know the cast list, you get an idea of the loose confederation of friends who pulled together to voice the classic cartoon- who had time to drop by and lend a hand!
Trick or Treachery! The last Season One episode under Grantray, with Carlson and Kligman as the Flies.
OH yes, I learned all this and more, including Soles and Kligman's roles on Wayne and Shuster's comedy sketch variety show, something of a Canadian Carol Burnett Show. Wayne and Shuster, according to Paul, were Johnny Carson's most frequent Tonight Show guests, so afficianadoes of that program most certainly saw them and wingman Kligman. I know this because I contacted Edna Talent to speak with Paul Soles, and began researching like mad to be prepared to discuss voice work like The Wonderful Adventures of Professor Kitzel, an educational shorts series written by Kligman with comedy intros and outros of each segment voiced by Kitzel, a.k.a., Paul Soles.
By the way, Paul doesn't take credit for being Dr. Banner. He says he's often mistaken for British actor Chris Wiggins, who played on Friday the 13th: The Series. Chris was also Thor in Marvel Super Heroes- and Mysterio! OH yeah! He's also the sinister Infinata.

I'll dig a bit deeper into the prospective cast list next time. I'll also find you a link to the cool tribute site with Paul's narration!

So, at the risk of attempting a "Best of" that two people could hardly quite agree on (including many cheeky folks who'd say "none of them!"), how about I share a few of my favorites, then pick up that idea maybe later?

We had two Doctor Octopus episodes. I enjoy Spider-Man's wisecracks in the very first episode of the series, and it's got Betty Brant involved in uncovering Doc Ock's hideout (I know, wouldn't it have been cool if she got to do more than be taken hostage? But she DOES run for help. Hey, why didn't that cop who found her looking for Peter stick with her in the first place?). The first Doc Ock is voiced by Vern Chapman, who comes back as Dr. Curt Connor (no 's) and the Lizard in episode three. Yeah, it's got the sort of questionable logic comics stories were partially known for, but that series debut is fun, too, especially if you have a soft spot for the tentacled mad scientist. But I'm going with this one today because "Terrible Triumph of Dr. Octopus" is one of the best for sheer action- AND it's based on Amazing Spider-Man #53! This one features the voice talent of Tom Harvey, who provides the show with its memorable Electro, Dr. Stillwell, The Sandman, and the many iterations of The Master Technician. And more!

Speaking of episodes based on Amazing Spider-Man issues, the first full=length installment of the series, Episode Five, finds its genesis in Amazing #13, from 1964. Spidey gets framed rather a lot in the first season's thirty-eight stories- and JJJ gets in on plans to eliminate the wall-crawler a few time, too. This one really captures the aspect that made Mysterio dangerous and interesting to start: if you don't know he's an illusionist, he's a much bigger threat! His actual ability to go toe-to-toe with Spidey seems much more convincing in this one. Spider-Man can't get the drop on him in their initial showdwon- and that's after Mysterio's impersonation of Spider-Man has made him New York's Most Wanted!
I'm quite fond of a touch that originated with the cartoon: the electronic voice lines that appear on his helmet when he speaks! It's kinda cool!
He comes back a couple more times, and if you're looking for something rather different in a plot, he threatens the seashore in "Return of the Flying Dutchman!" in Episode Twenty-three. Partly because of the full length, I think Mysterio's story is the most awesome of the initial appearances of rogues from Spidey's comic book. We haven't gotten into the seemingly endless stock footage filler, so there's more twists and action.

Now this one's really different: Blackwell the Magician's motives are not quite what they seem, as is apparently true of all we see here! It's not a profound story, but it touches upon a theme with variety from the perpetual good v. evil axis of adventure cartoons. The actresses mentioned at the beginning were real people. I like the resolution, too. Plus, it spawned a silly meme with Spider-Man held captive while his arms are obviously free, but whatever. It's always kind of fun to see a story world where illusionist stage magic is impossible to separate from something like real powers. Captures a child-like imagination nicely, it does.

A later episode that also doesn't get lost in stock footage- at least, not from this series, but probably some from another Bakshi production - is this kinda cool adventure story, "Cloud City of Gold." It's a terrific example of a story outside of what we most often think of as Spider-Man's milieu: for one, none of it's in New York City! Foreign Exchange student Peter Parker crash lands during an expedition in South America that leads to another very action-filled story. No Peter/ Spider-Man identity hassles, though I do agree with the YouTube commenter who suggested they should've parachuted out before the crash, to better protect the connection between Pete and Spidey. I can't say for sure, but I'm inclined to say this one was written by Lin Carter, who created the fantasy barbarian in prose, Thongor, later adapted by Marvel Comics. (Carter also produced work for the Conan the Barbarian paperback series, after its '60's revival under the covers of Frank Frazetta.) I mean, giant spider web in a volcano? Lost tribe in a city of gold? At least something new and different happens in each scene, so it's much more exciting than the more recycled low-budget entries.

The next episode, Neptune's Nose Cone, has some lost-land similarities, plus a gutsy female pilot, Penny. That one also has JJJ at either end, too- though "Cloud City" does have Kligman doing what sounds like Jameson with a quirky Spanish accent. Either one's pretty different than your usual Spider-Man and among the better-produced Season Two entries. IT's the one after that, #52, that stuck out in my mind after many decades though, the science fiction Spider-People of "Home." You finally meet a nice girl and she's from another planet. Parker luck.

Got to give it up for the Bakshi and company take on The Origin of Spider-Man, too. I'll pick it up next time.

John Ostrander: in the nucleus of Man with DC's Firestorm! Part Two

ONe of a series of talks with Firestorm creators- like Gerry Conway, Al Milgrom, Pat Broderick, Rafael Kayanan, Tom Mandrake, even early editor Jack C. Harris, we have a philosophical afternoon with John Ostrander. Writer of the modern Suicide Squad, Star Wars: Legacy, The Spectre, and his own creation, Grimjack at First Comics (a very philosophical, satirical space adventure), John began his career as a stage actor in Chicago, providing his connection with Mike Gold. Brought aboard to craft the Legends line-wide crossover, John's fill-ins on Firestorm won him the job when it was vacated by Firestorm's talented parent, Gerry Conway.

At one point, I posited to John, this:

Firestorm was not generally considered frightening in his earlier incarnation. I think of your Firestorm as a Scary Outlaw-like you said, the danger. There were some questions inside Firestorm himself.
Don’t take for granted that he’s going to do the right thing...he’s got to come to it.

When you have the possibility of the character making a choice that you might not agree with...if there’s a choice to be made, you don’t assume that it’s going to be the right choice. Then, the character’s more interesting...more compelling. - John Ostrander

John, with Joe Brozowski, Tom Grindberg, and finally, long-time partner Tom Mandrake, brought us a very different take on Firestorm. Don't miss part one, where we discuss the geo-political twist of the Glastnost era, the death of Martin Stein, and the Elemental War. Here, we talk about his Africa stories, which generated artist Mandrake's favorite designs from his series work here, the Yoruban god pantheon. John also shares how Theater shaped his craft work, confounding reader expectations, and more personal bits.
HEre's a way to share the podcast link with anyone!

And without further ado: heeeeere's John (ny!)

Monday, September 3, 2018

John Ostrander: Firestorm, Suicide Squad, the Spectre, and writing from the conscience

A conversation with writer John Ostrander and your host, C Lue Lyron!

We chat about breaking in at DC during the Legends crossover; the influence of socially conscious writing by --and vegetarian dinner with-- Denny O'Neil. We discuss how John's always been inspired to mix real life, philosophy and imagination.

Here's the episode link, too: Feel free to copy and share!

Our talk began like so:
C Lue:
What did Mike Gold ask you to accomplish when you came aboard to do Legends?

He sort of laid it out for me. Now, Legends was the first mini-series after Crisis On Infinite Earths,
which was a twelve issue run. He said he wanted to do this one in six. Crisis sort of blew up the DC Universe, took things apart. Our goal was to bring it back more together, and to launch some new books, as well. So Legends would show how the new, single DC Universe worked together.

C Lue:
What were you thinking as Legends opened up the opportunity for you to do Firestorm?

I was surprised! Basically, I was asked to do the fill-ins, because Gerry Conway really didn’t want to get involved with it. Since I had plotted the Legends stories, it was presumed I’d know how to tie into it. I knew it was two issues; that’s what I was promised at the time- but I was glad to do it.

At that point in my writing career, I’d been doing stuff over at First Comics. So this was my first venture into the Big Two, at the time. Of course I wanted to make a good impression- I always want to do good work, whatever I’m working on. I was hoping it would lead to other projects. All I was guaranteed was Legends- and at that point, we knew were doing a Suicide Squad book. Mike suggested we use Legends as a launch platform, so the first time the Suicide Squad appeared was in Legends.

We dig into some of the themes that inspired John on Firestorm; his teamwork with Tom Mandrake; and as a bonus, talk a little about staying true to the nature of The Spectre, a Golden Age hero with a very specific tone.
This is part one- enjoy this hour, and I'll post more soon! This is my uncut interview, much of which will be re-ka-jiggered into the body of the feature story of next year's BAck Issue Magazine #112, with much more things Firestorm, including creator Gerry Conway.

The opening theme music is by Walter Murphy, Emmy-award winning composer for TV's FAmily Guy, with his 70's instrumental, Hocus Pocus.
The closing theme is non-copyrighted "Highway Wildflowers."

Artist Pat Broderick rocks!

Patrick Broderick was 17 when he answered a cattle call for DC’s new Junior Bullpen project. How lucky was he to step out of the long line...