Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Career of Jack Kirby, One Month at a Time


As I write this, one of my auctions on ebay is for 1948's Detective Comics #136. I always look up details on The Grand Comic Database to include in my item description, and that site indicated that the Batman story in that issue was by the great Dick Sprang and that the Boy Commandos story was by Jack Kirby. Hm.

As I looked at the panels of the Boy Commandos, I was doubtful. A hand here, a face there, the artwork just didn't shout "Jack Kirby" to me. Both Curt Swan and Louis Cazaneuve drew many stories in a Kirby style and I felt this story may have been by one of them. I have found errors previously in the GCD (and corrected them), and I wrote this off as another one of those mistakes.

But the matter kept nagging at me and I felt the need to dig deeper and double-check. I remembered that a few years back I had stumbled across a website that listed what comic books featured Jack Kirby artwork for every single month of the gentleman's career. I had tried and failed to relocate that website over the years, but I'm pleased to say I had no difficulty whatsoever pinpointing it this time.

Jack Kirby - A By-the-Month Chronology is the name of the website. Click right here, and if you scroll down to 1948 you see that Detective Comics #136 is listed. Jack Kirby did indeed draw the 12-page "Tale of Two Brooklyns." But let's look at what other information is provided, and this is what makes the Chronology so much fun for me. Mr. Kirby drew a total of 39 pages that month; the cover of Charlie Chan #1 that I show above and the cover and stories for Headline Comics #30 are listed.

What a wonderful resource Jack Kirby - A By-the-Month Chronology is! I will study it and enjoy it and refer to it over and over again in the future.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Superhero Fight Club


Arrow and The Flash on the CW Network are must-watches every week, but are you also enjoying the new iZombie series? It's another good show that I'll say more about another day, but it was during a recent episode of iZombie that the above three-minute treat from the CW debuted. It's a fun bit of fluff apparently intended to try to entice iZombie viewers not to miss out on the network's superhero shows. I hope you like the video as much as I do!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thor and The Kingpin


Thor and The Kingpin have an interesting connection. Do you know what it is?

Last week I watched 1987's Adventures in Babysitting for the first time. It was horrible. Please don't waste your time. But I've known since its original release that that movie's storyline somehow involved the Marvel Comics Thor character and I was ready (after 28 years) to find out just exactly how. It turns out that one young character in the film is the biggest fan of Thor in the whole wide world; she always wears a Thor helmet and she even has a Jack Kirby Thor poster hanging in her room. And, near the end of the movie (no spoiler alert here, the thing is 28 years old), the character above shows up in the adventure and the girl is convinced he is the real-life embodiment of Thor. The end.

But wait. Now I'll tell you the interesting part.

That "Thor" character was played by Vincent D'Onofrio. Mr. D'Onofrio made a bigger splash the same year for his role in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket and, 14 years later, he would star in Law and Order: Criminal Intent which I enjoyed for its entire 10-year run. (Do you know that Criminal Intent had as a writer and producer Mr. Gerry Conway, the same Mr. Conway who wrote many comic books featuring Thor? And many comics featuring The Kingpin? But this still isn't the connection I was going to mention. Keep reading!)

Just this past weekend, Netflix released a full 13-episode streaming season of Marvel's Daredevil. Who do you think plays The Kingpin in this series? Take a look at the photo down below and see for yourself that it is none other than Vincent D'Onofrio. Okay, now I'm done.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Superdawg and Comics


Superdawg is a Chicago institution and I've been going there since I was a kid. Do you realize the eyes of those rooftop statues light up at night? The restaurant is even listed in a book of 1000 Places To See Before You Die so you'd better get a move on!

It was a pleasant surprise in my email inbox a month or so ago to receive a birthday certificate from Superdawg for the sandwich and large soda of my choice! These health-conscious days I far more often ride my bicycle right past Superdawg than go there to eat, but I was not about to miss out on using that excellent certificate. I relished my Supercheesie with grilled onions and my large iced tea. Thank you, Superdawg!

I wondered how I could tie the experience in to comics to make it blog-worthy, and the answer was right before my eyes as I waited in line. I noticed that one of the many items hanging on their wall was a Bill Griffith newspaper strip of Zippy the Pinhead visiting Superdawg. Bingo!



Monday, April 06, 2015

Those Batman "Stickers"


Jerry Sinkovec wrote in recently to clarify something I had written back in my article about the Batman postage stamps. The floor is all yours, Jerry!

about the Bat-signal "stickers" on the sheet. Those are not stickers! They are four more stamps that you paid 49 cents each for! When I bought a sheet of those, the counter person pointed this out to me.

 

How about that! My postal clerk was not as well informed and/or not as helpful but I'm glad to find this out now. Corrections and clarifications are always welcome in the hayfamzone!


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Let's Rap about Continuity!


As I look back at my recent posts about Archie and Jimmy Olsen I realize that design of the New Archie character is basically the same as the 1970s design of Jimmy! I guess Archie Comics decided if DC wasn't going to make much use of Jimmy that they may as well go for it. And that's not the only thing Archie has appropriated from DC over the years. I'm talking about The Imaginary Story.

Of course I know that every story in a superhero or Archie comic book is an imaginary story, but I'm referring to the stories that fall outside of accepted canon. How many times has Lois Lane married Superman, after all? Sometimes it was a dream and sometimes it was a hoax, but sometimes it was an imaginary story. Oh, and there was that time it was a then-canonical story (and also that other time when it was the Lois and Superman of Earth-2!) Likewise a couple of years back, Archie married Betty. I mean, Archie married Veronica. That's the thing, it was never stated that those were imaginary stories or what, they just printed the things for the reader to do with them whatever he chose.

DC did this themselves in the early 1970s with the "Super-Sons" of Superman and Batman. Who were they and where did they come from? No explanation, and no labelling as imaginary stories. I found those issues of World's Finest Comics very confounding as they were being published!

I forget if it was Murray Boltinoff or Robert Kanigher (or both) who said that continuity would not rule out the telling of a good story. But then Kanigher himself worked himself up into a tizzy that a post-war Sgt. Rock was running missions with Batman over in The Brave and the Bold because creator Kanigher had not given the word that Rock would survive WWII.

Fast-forward to present day. It seems that both DC and Marvel are blowing up their respective continuities so they can tell whatever stories they want with whatever characters they want. I'll be watching and reading with interest and hope that the two companies don't go too far. Longtime readers might well feel cheated if something they like about a universe does not return; for example, the Green Arrow 'character' that debuted in DC's New 52 a couple of years back was a charmless cipher bearing no resemblance to the Green Arrow I had known for decades.

Anyway, rest assured that we have NO INTENTION of blowing up hayfamzone continuity. Whew!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jimmy Olsen is Now a New God?


I found out while reading newsarama today that Superman's friend Jimmy Olsen has been elevated to the status of a New God. I wholeheartedly approve! I had thought previously that an individual could be a New God only by birth, but this is a fine twist on the Fourth World mythos.

I wonder if you agree with me that Jimmy's role in the DC Universe has been on a parallel track with that of Rick Jones in the Marvel Universe, what with them both starting out as sidekicks but ultimately becoming so much more? Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if Stan Lee said to himself that The Hulk needed a Jimmy Olsen of his own as he created young Rick.

All this talk of Jimmy seems like a wonderful opportunity to take another look at Jeanette's animation of the Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen splash page that I am very pleased and proud to own!