ON THE BOARDS
CBR's "Citizen of the Month" survey for the month of May has begun, voting for the CBR resident who has contributed the most during the past 30 days to bettering the CBR community.
Today I updated the top of my Golden-Age/Silver-Age board, showing items of possible interest to fans of old comics which arrived in comics shops yesterday, and ones scheduled for release on June 5th. I also posted an item on the board about similar items that are being solicited in the current Previews catalog for release in August. Of particular interest to me is Archie Comics' upcoming trade paperback reprinting the first several stories of their Golden-Age superhero, THE SHIELD, from 1940. I hope that lots of people order that book so that Archie will be inclined to publish more reprints like that.
Michael Ambrose, publisher of the fanzine CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT, posted an item yesterday on the Charlton mailing list about the second issue of the magazine being available. I copied his announcement onto the GA/SA board, and you can read it there. You won't find Charlton Spotlight in the Previews catalog or your local comics shop, so if you want to read the magazine, I suggest ordering a copy from the publisher. I'm a longtime fan of Charlton comics, so it's great to see so much renewed interest in them lately. For more info, see the Charlton Spotlight website.
The Billboard Top 100 Albums Chart was put up on the Billboard website on Thursday. Not surprisingly, Eminem has the #1 slot, although the album was not officially released until Sunday, and not the usual Tuesday release that most albums have. We had plenty of copies at my local store on Monday and Tuesday, which makes me suspect that demand is lighter this time than it was for his previous album. Although I did notice that my store was totally out of the Edited version (if there is an Edited version) and only had the Unedited version (the one with a Parental Advisory stamp).
Amy Grant's new hymns album debuted in the #21 slot. (Compared to Michael W. Smith's "Worship" album which had debuted at #20 last year and is still in the Top 100.) She reportedly has a pop album scheduled for release later in the year, which will probably get a bigger mainstream push than this one. Amy did appear with husband Vince Gill recently on the cover of the semi-cool mag Country Weekly. Other Christian artists in the Billboard Top 100 Albums chart this week are P.O.D. (#49), Kirk Franklin (#75), MWS (#84), and new group MercyMe (#95). It seems like there's usually always five Christian albums in the top 100 each week. Which is pretty good considering the lack of mainstream coverage the genre receives.
Speaking of which, I noticed a recent segment on the "TV Guide Channel" about Mary Mary, who have a new album coming out on July 16th. It will be interesting to see what spot on the chart that debuts in.
Martina McBride's Greatest Hits album jumped up to #71 (from #121 last week) for some reason -- "an 80% sales boost," according to Billboard. I've been thinking of getting this album eventually from my record club.
Billboard's website had a recent news item about the record industry taking action against music sharing service Audiogalaxy.com. It's funny because recently whenever I'd go to that site, I'd think, "Hmmm, I wonder how long this site is going to be here?" This news makes me want to hurry up and download more songs just in case Audiogalaxy isn't around much longer...
-- May 31, 2002; 9:10pm
One of the reasons that I haven't added more comments to this starting page lately is because I've spent the past few days updating the other pages on this site. For instance, I spent most of Sunday updating my comics links, and then Monday I added a personal page about me (see the link "bio" on the right), including some old childhood photos, and today I've been adding pages for my songs and poetry (see the "Library" link for that). I'm also going to put up a "Superman Family" section for all my Super-related articles and a "Tune In" page which will eventually function as an online version of my defunct OTR fanzine. So, stay tuned!
-- May 28, 2002; 6:15pm
KEVIN MAX, RACHAEL LAMPA ON TV LAST NIGHT
I usually check out (and sometimes record) "Cafe Video" on PAX TV Saturday nights at 1:30am. Last night I happened to be taping it right from the beginning and who should be the host, but -- Kevin Max! Can you believe it? I think this is the first time I've seen a host repeated, especially so soon after his previous appearance. (For those who don't know, Kevin Max -- or Kmax for short -- is a member of dc Talk whose recent solo album was my favorite album of 2001.)
I have to say that it was one of the funniest "Cafe Video" episodes I've ever seen. Usually that program is pretty bland IMO -- the words "antiseptic" or "sterile" come to mind. I think they got celebrity hosts to kind of give the show some personality, but the stars usually look like they are just reading off of cue cards. Even Kmax's previous appearance a few months ago looked kinda awkward, like he was trying to be funny but nobody was laughing at the jokes.
Anyway, last night's episode was much better. Kmax looked a lot cooler with his glasses and black leather look. He seemed more relaxed and made references to the makers of "Cafe Video" wanting him back on, which gave the show a little "behind-the-scenes" personality. Kevin made a comment about the mustache he had on his previous appearance, which gave the show a feeling of some continuity that regular viewers like myself would recognize. But the best thing about it was Kmax's cooler look, Kmax's more relaxed demeanor this time, and the overall light-hearted humor of the show, with even the anonymous narrator who opens the show making a crack about Kevin being back.
Also, they showed a preview of next week's episode at the end (Ginny Owens will host and videos will include one by MercyMe, a video which I've not yet seen on TV) which was much appreciated by me because I'd like to know in advance who will be appearing on CCM video shows, so I can know which ones I want to tape (since PAX and TBN's CCM shows come on at the same time Saturday nights at 1am). I hope Kevin uses the mass media more to get word out about his album (Stereotype Be), book (Unfinished Work), and website (all of which he mentioned on the show); he may not watch PAX, but lots of other people do, including many people who don't even know who dc Talk is, let alone Kmax. I hope he uses more opportunities like that wherever they present themselves.
I woke up around 2pm today (later than I'm used to waking up these days) and checked the tape. I think the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon episode that ABC Family played was the first Spider-Man cartoon episode ever. It consisted of two stories, the first concerning Spidey vs. Doctor Octopus, the second story about Spidey fighting some icemen invaders from Pluto who were turning New York icey. It was interesting to see how Ditkoesque the characters looked (especially Doc Ock, Peter Parker, and Betty Brant), and one of the new "Spidey trivia" commericals that ABC Family played during the marathon mentioned that Steve Ditko had originated Spidey's look (credit that you don't often see acknowledged in the mass media). The 1960s cartoon's ending credits listed Stan Lee and "Jazzy" John Romita as story and art consultants.
The 1980s Spidey episode that they aired concerned the origin of Firestar, with guest-appearances by the X-Men. The villain was the Juggernaut. Wolverine had an Australian accent rather than a Canadian one. I could sense more of a fannish influence in this 1980s story with its emphasis on superheroes vs. supervillains, actions, and origin explanations. This fannishness was further developed by the 1990s Spidey episodes that followed, which practically co-starred the X-Men (Wolverine now far more prominent than before) and being like Part 4 of a multi-part storyline with more than one villain involved (Hobgoblin, Kingpin, etc.). Comics writers J. M. DeMatteis and Steven Grant were listed in the opening credits as having contributed the story (the original comics version from which the cartoon adaptation came?). Anyway, I recommend setting your VCR tomorrow, at least for the 7am to 8am time slot for the older (1960s & 1980s) Spider-Man cartoons. I decided to record them in SP speed for best quality since who knows when we'll see these shows on TV again. I can't remember the last time that I saw the 1960s Spidey cartoon on TV.
-- May 25, 2002; 3:45pm
AN INFOMERICAL WORTH WATCHING
Going to be hitting the sack tonight, but just wanted to mention that if ever you're up at 3am (like I am now) be sure to check an infomerical making the rounds of late-nite TV for a Time-Life 1960s rock CD collection, co-hosted by Davy Jones of the Monkees. The half-hour commercial contains a lot of short (too short, IMO), fascinating clips of many 1960s artists performing their hits, taken from the variety shows of the time (although some also look like music videos, or promo clips as they were called back then). I was halfway familiar with some of the songs just because they are always on the radio, but it made the songs more interesting to me to see what the artists looked like. Plus, some of the bands' names I'd never heard of before (even if I had heard the song before) such as Harpers' Bizarre, We Five, and others. I wish that there was a show on TV playing "closet classics" like these vintage performances/videos. A couple weeks ago, the Learning Channel (if memory serves) aired a show like that, narrated by Grace Slick, which also included short new interview bits with musicians to provide context. It looked like the show was from the late 1980s, since the interview segments looked similar to the kind shown in the Quincy Jones-produced "History of Rock & Roll" documentary series. I checked TV Guide's website for the show a few days ago but a search turned up nada. Anyway, time to hit the sack...
-- May 25, 2002; 3:30am
BEST COMIC OF THE YEAR?
My vote so far goes to Joe Matt's PEEP SHOW #13. This issue came out last month, but I only got around to reading it last week. The cover price ($3.95) is high, but worth the cost (and I say that as a notorious cheapskate) because it invites many, many re-readings.
If you haven't read PEEP SHOW before, it's an autobiographical comic of Joe Matt's life drawn in a somewhat cartoony style. The plot this issue is simple: Seth, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt have a lunchtime conversation at a restaurant. I recommend getting this issue as well as #11 (which came out way back in 1998!) wherein Joe and Seth talk, since #13 relates back to that conversation. (#12 is somewhat forgettable, IMO, and so you can skip that one. Just buy #11 and #13 and that's all you need.) Cerebus creator Dave Sim has a letter in #13 -- which is fitting since Joe Matt recently had a postcard printed in Cerebus.
Hopefully we won't have to wait another year before another issue of PEEP SHOW comes out. I think they are worth the wait, but I'd love to see it come out more often. I think that readers tend to forget about or lose enthusiasm about a series, even ones they love, if they don't come out regularly.
MISS ANGIE AND DC TALK FOR $3.99 EACH
Check out my recent post with my recommendations for inexpensive Christian rock. I ordered some stuff from Musicforce.com and was impressed by their low prices. I'm thinking of ordering again from them soon.
BLACK AND WHITE AND READ ALL OVER
Happened to stop at a local used record store today and noticed they had around 4 or 5 boxes of comics and other magazines, with a sign saying "Buy 1, Get 1 Free." Most of the stuff was 99 cents each. They had some oddball stuff in there, like issues of "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Krofft Supershow."
I ended up getting 4 mags (one of them a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly for 99 cents), the comics-related ones being:
So, the 4 mags together cost me only $1.49. Pretty cool, huh?
The Sherlock Holmes mag is not a comic, but a text magazine with lots of illustrations, many of them by Luis Dominguez who did many horror covers for DC in the 1970s (often signing them with his initials). There are 8 full color, full page illustrations (paintings?) by Luis (including the front & back cover), and 4 full page B&W illustrations, accompanying a new Sherlock Holmes prose adventure in the issue. It also reprints some items from The Strand Magazine from 1892.
It seems to me that these type of B&W magazines are often overlooked by fandom simply because of their different format. Also, it seems to me that they were a good way to reach beyond the regular comics-reading audience, perhaps to an older audience who was embarrassed to be seen reading a color comicbook. They also avoided the (supposed) stigma of the comics spinner, since they would be placed next to regular magazines on the magazine shelf, not next to the superhero & Archie comics. A publication like the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes mag is nearly like a modern-day (or 1970s, anyway) equivalent of an old pulp magazine like The Shadow.
I wonder why companies (or anyone) no longer publish magazines like this today. The last B&W comics magazine I remember seeing on the magazine shelves was DC's "100% Weird" which contained reprinted "strange but true" short stories from their "Big Book of..." trade paperbacks. There must be some reason that the format is no longer being done because even Love & Rockets, which was revived last year, is now the size of a comic instead of a magazine as it used to be.
Of course, MAD and Cracked magazine are still being published, although both titles now use a lot more color pages than before. Cracked was on hiatus the past several months, but a new issue finally appeared on the magazine shelves this week. (For background on Cracked's problems, click here.) The current issue of MAD contains a Spider-Man parody, with a Mort Drucker illustration of Alfred E. Newman as Spidey on the cover.
-- May 24, 2002; 7:40pm
As you can see, I'm doing a complete overhaul of my website. Taking stuff down and putting stuff up. Trying to make it simpler, easier to figure out, and maybe a little more stylish than it has been. Also, I'm going to try and make it easier for me to keep a journal of sorts (probably a lot shorter entries than I normally write) right here on the main page, in the style of Andrew Sullivan's website (which I check out a few times per week). Check in later tonight for some more writing by me.
-- May 24, 2002; 6:00pm