Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Black and White Wednesday: John Severin's Cracked Up TV Celebrities

John Severin, one of comicdom's all-time great artists, spent most of the Groovy Age drawing strips for Mad Magazine rip-off Cracked. Because of John Severin, Ol' Groove has tons, I say, tons o'Cracked magazines. His ability to draw any celebrity and make him or her instantly recognizable is waaaay beyond amazing (rivaled only by his sister Marie's talent for caricature, natch!). Just dig these TV-based parodies from Cracked #136 (cover-dated October 1976).

Man, do I miss those old TV shows...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Random Reads: What If Nova Had Been...

Teen Groove loved, loved, LOVED What If? Roy Thomas' brainchild was so cool, yet so simple: combine DC's Infinite Earths with their Imaginary Stories, but do 'em up Marvel style in a double-sized bi-monthly comic (hosted by Uatu, the Watcher, natch!) One of my all-time favorite issues of What If? was ish #15 (April 1979) in which we learned what would have happened if someone other than Richard Ryder had gained the power of Nova. I loved the occasional anthology issues of What If? because it meant we'd be treated more awesome artists than usual, and this issue didn't disappoint. John Buscema and Joe Sinnott. Carmine Infantino and Frank Springer. Ross Andru and Frank Giacoia (showing what would have happened if a dude named Peter Parker had gained the Nova-powers). Best of all were the two versions with art by Walt Simonson and Bob Wiacek (guest starring the Fantastic Four and the Kingpin, no less) and George Perez and Tom Palmer (with a whole passel of vile villains). All of course were written by Nova's creator, Marvelous Marv Wolfman. Check 'em out!


Y'know, in today's comics, those two "Novas" might just be considered run-of-the-mill (anti) heroes. Makes ya think, huh?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Miscellanea

ITEM! Groove-ophile Darran Jordan needs your help, culture lovers! He's searching for a childhood memory that Ol' Groove doesn't seem to remember. Take it away, Darran!

"I am trying to track down a graphic novel I read as a kid but have not seen since. It was a big hardcover book with a spaceship on the cover. The story opened with ac spaceship crashing in a swamp where a father and son are fishing. Inside the ship are relics of an alien race which look something like ancient Greece culture in design. A scientist, young and eager, begins to try to translate the alien language of a book inside the ship, but it is not until he is an old man that he cracks the code and is finally able to read the story of this distant race. What follows are a series of linked short stories telling of this alien race (I think they had blue or green skin) who are mostly a mash up version of ancient Greek mythology, both in look and content, but with sci-fi elements thrown in. One of the stories tells of an old man retiring after years of service who, as part of an age-old custom, floats in a boat down a river into a tunnel where all the old people go to retire and live their lives in peace. But instead within the tunnel he is captured and put to work in a slave gang along with the other old folks, in a Logan's Run style reveal. Luckily some of the youngsters he has left behind investigate and are able to save him and the others. The only other image I recall is of one of the characters being strung up on a really tall flagpole that reached into the upper levels of the sky where fierce birds would tear him apart (which was a form of execution in this world). I have fond memories of the book which was a mainstay in my school library along with Asterix and Tintin. The art was sort of like the Eagle stuff from the 80s, so it might be English, although in retrospect it might be European in origin (not sure). If you have any idea what this book is called or, if not, of anyone else I can ask in hopes of tracking it down, I would greatly appreciate it."

Now is the time for all good Groove-ophiles to come to the aid of his fellow comicbook fiend! If you can help Darran out, please leave us a note in the comments. And may the Vishanti smile upon those who helpeth!

ITEM! I've been meaning to mention Mighty Mark Davis' wonderful Official Red Lion Publications Forum in which he, publisher Jazzy Jon "A" Gilbert, other fans, and even Ol' Groove discuss what's to come in the future of Red Lion. Mark also runs lotsa posts on the happenings here at DotGK. Thanks, Mark!!

ITEM! Hey, we've gotta check out a blast from the past, don't we? Dig this short shocker from Time Warp #1 (July 1979) by Mike W. Barr and Tom Sutton. You're gonna be seeing a lot of Terrific Tom's art coming up in October as we begin the Halloween Countdown for 2009!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Making a Splash: John Byrne's Champions

Dig these glorious splash pages from John Byrne's all-too-short run (issues 11-15, November 1976-July 1977) as penciler of The Champions, Groove-ophiles! Inks by "Baby-face" Bob Layton and "Mighty" Mike Esposito.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shock Theater: "The Demon That Devoured Hollywood!"

When Roy Thomas and Barry (Windsor-)Smith got it together back in the Groovy Age, it wasn't always all about Conan, baby! Sometimes they'd just let it all hang out and lay some good, goofy, gruesome fun on us like this terror tale (to blow your mind!) from Tower of Shadows #5 (February 1970). We've always heard about how some folks would make a deal with the devil to make it in Hollywood. Well those dudes and chicks need to read "The Demon That Devoured Hollywood" before they ever get on a bus... (Oh, and you just have to dig the far-out Marie Severin/Bill Everett cover!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Dagar the Invincible

Marvel and DC weren't the only publishers who could put out cool sword and sorcery comics back in the Groovy Age. Gold Key, famous for (as my friends and I called 'em back then) "kiddie" comics (like Pink Panther, O.G. Whiz, the Disney comics, and all the rest) also put out Dagar the Invincible. Created by Don Glut (inspired by a couple one-off sword and sorcery shorts Glut had written for Mystery Comics Digest) with art by Jesse Santos, Dagar (pronounced "day-gar", though Glut intended it to be pronounced like the knife) was a far-out mish-mash of Prince Valiant, Viking Prince, the Mighty Thor, and Conan. Though combining elements of some of the all-time best fantasy comics, Dagar was also quite original and unique, due mostly to Glut's plots--which he used to create Gold Key's first (and last) shared universe, crossing them over with his other GK mags (Dr. Spektor, Tragg and the Sky Gods)--and his great care in crafting Dagar's savage world. That world was filled with demons, monsters, sorcerers, and beautiful women all brought to life by glorious art of Jesse Santos.

Check out a portion of this awesome interview with Don Glut (from swordandsorcery.org) on Dagar's origins:

"... Sword and sorcery was hot at the time, so I thought I'd try my hand at writing an S&S story. So I pitched a short story for Mystery Comics Digest featuring a hero called with the name "Daggar." It wasn't meant to be the start of a series. The editor bought it and the character was officially born. Then I wrote a second Daggar story for MCD, which the editor also bought. Then he called me up, and this is before either of the stories had yet seen print, and told me he thought an actual book featuring the character was a good idea. There were two problems. First, he didn't like the name. Second, there were still those two short stories that had yet to see publication. He didn't think it appropriate that those two short stories appear in the Digest after the debut of the actual book starring the character, and I saw his point.

"So, while he tinkered around with various other names for Daggar (including Zagar), he changed the name of the MCD hero to "Duroc" which later (because it rhymed with Turok) got changed again to "Durak" who I later had meet both Dagar and Dr. Spektor.

"At one point I wrote a synopsis for the origin story in which I called the character Shaark, a name that was also shot down. Finally, my editor called me up and said the series character would be spelled "Dagar". I kind of liked that because, as I was not yet certain that I'd get name credit in the book, "Dagar" contained both of my initials! By the way, the official title of the book (which I fought against) was TALES OF SWORD AND SORCERY. The Gold Key editors really liked those TALES OF titles. But almost everyone ended up calling the book DAGAR anyway. At last that's what I'd like to believe."

Ol' Groove believes this would be a great time to dig on Dagar's debut story. Here's Don Glut and Jesse Santos with "The Sword of Dagar!"


Dagar's comic (officially titled Tales of Sword and Sorcery DAGAR THE INVINCIBLE in the indicia) ran for 19 quarterly issues from July 1972 through August 1976 (a--very--few of those issues were reprints). That's four years, baby! That puts Dagar up there with Conan, Warlord, and a select few other sword and sorcery characters in the longevity department. Not bad for a guy who was originally conceived as a one-shot character!

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Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!