Friday, 30 June 2017

It Happened At Woodstock!

Here's a great little counter-culture romance tale from Gary Friedrich & Gray Morrow, set at the Woodstock Festival. Friedrich was in his early 20's when he wrote this, so it has much more the ring of authenticity than if Stan had written it, as he warns his young readers of the perils of free love ie. Of men who use the philosophy solely to get laid, and of naive women who fall for it.
What'd probably happen in reality, of course, is that wide eyed hippie chick Jody would've ended up pregnant and a single mother, but as this is My Love, it's not quite that harsh, and we do get a happy ending.
Newsflash, girls: Never trust any guy calling himself 'Flowers'.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Robot Archie vs The Spider

We're indebted, once again, to pal of this blog Nefarious Neil Hansen. Neil, who probably spends as much time as I do trawling the net for obscurities, sent me a link to this, a British comics super-being dust up I was previously unaware of.
The Spider we've covered before, and if you haven't checked out the arch-villain turned sort of hero, just scroll down the archives till you see him glaring at you.
But Robot Archie deserves a bit of explanation, if only for the benefit of our chums across the pond.
Archie appeared in the very first issue of Lion in 1952, and was hugely popular in the UK, as well as in France and the Netherlands.
I'm bound to say that, although I liked him well enough as a kid, I did find him a bit old fashioned, and much preferred weirder, spookier heroes like The Spider, Janus Stark & Adam Eterno.
Plus, he had his name emblazoned on his chest like his mum had written it there for his first day at school.
Still, he had charm, and was certainly much more likeable than his owners, Ken & Ted, who pretty much treated him as their personal slave. I'm amazed he didn't corkscrew their heads off.

This piece is sadly, not the best scan in the world, but it's still worth a look. There weren't enough of these kind of team-ups in British comics for me.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Dark Shadows

We never got Dark Shadows here in the UK, though let's face it, the idea of a daytime soap opera that happens to feature a vampire in it's cast is an easy sell for people like us, so I'm sure we would've loved it.
The newspaper strip came in 1971, and it's a solid piece, with lots of space given to the show's standout character, tortured vamp Barnabas Collins.
For those who missed the show, or who've yet to try it out on youtube, the Collins' family are a well-to-do matriarchal clan, lurking in their gloomy mansion of Collinwood, on the suitably windswept coast of Maine, New England.
Every one of them seems to harbour a terrible secret, including Barnabas of course, who tells everyone he's writing a history of the family and therefore mustn't be interrupted during daylight hours. It's he who can sense all the ghosts and ghouls wandering around Collinwood, and who must do something about all the weirdness surrounding them all.
The scripts are fine, if a bit slow, while the art is by Ken Bald, and is nicely grim and spooky in an early Bill Sienkewicz way, although it's obvious he was only supplied a handful of reference photos of actor Jonathan Frid as Barnabas, as the same poses show up again and again. Here's the intro story.

Friday, 23 June 2017

What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen?

The 1976 Dr. Strange annual was, I think, one of the last things Craig Russell did during his initial time at Marvel, and like pretty much every piece of his ever, it's a tour de force.
Not that Craig was overly pleased with it, over the years trying to convince Marvel to reprint it with better production values.
Getting the go-ahead in 1997, Russell initially tried adding 12 new pages to the piece in order to reprint it as a graphic novel, before realizing how much his style had changed over the years, and sitting down to do the whole thing from scratch. It was released as Dr. Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You, Stephen? and I obviously recommend it massively.

But here's the original. If I'm honest, having read both versions, I'm still not 100% sure what the story ( co-written by Craig with Marv Wolfman ) is actually about, and what really happens, but what I can't resist about it is that it looks, in places, like it's taking place on Killraven's Earth, Russell being fresh from that strip at the time.
What I also like is the same thing that occurs to every single person who reads it: None of what happens to Doc would've been necessary if he'd just realized one simple, eternal truth.
When your hot girlfriend from another dimension tells you you're not paying her enough attention, the one thing you don't do is 'turn inward to study her words, and understand yourself'. That's exactly why she's pissed off at you, dude.