Friday, October 30, 2020

Super-Heroes vs. Monsters, Groovy Age Style!

 Happy Halloween, Groove-ophiles! Let's take a trip through the Groovy Age (well, 1972-1980 to be exact) and check out thirteen fearsome and far-out super-hero vs. monster covers (by the talents of titans Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, Joe Staton, Mike Grell, Rich Buckler, Dave Cockrum, and more). The twist, or theme within the theme, if you will, is that all of these classics hit the spinner racks in the month of October during that sensational and sparkling span! To make things even more interesting, it had to be straight-up super-heroes, not supernatural super-heroes (sorry Doc Strange et al), not monster super-heroes (looking at you Thing, Hulk, and company), but out-and-out long-underwear types (or, in Iron Man's case, long-armor?) vs. monsters! Aw, you don't wanna read the rules--you wanna look at the awesome covers! Onward!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Random Reads: "The Man Who Owned the World!" by Sutton & O'Neil

 HowOOOOO's it shakin', Groove-ophiles! Here's a short shocker from Chamber of Darkness #4 (January 1970) plotted and illoed by Tom Sutton and scripted by Denny O'Neil. It's not about undead monsters or things that go bump in the night, but for some reason, Ol' Groove finds this fear fable more haunting than ever before...

Friday, October 16, 2020

Groovy Guest Post! Steven Butler: Fianna McCool And The Hound Of Ulster

Greetings, Groov-ophiles! Here's a very special guest-post from one of Ol' Groove's most very special friends, Steven Butler! One of the best, most professional, most talented comicbook creators to come down grab a pencil! Take it away, buddy!

Hello, everyone!  No, this isn't the Groovy Agent, but a friend and colleague of his who has had the honor of being asked to make a guest post and share a few thoughts about the kind of comics I love, and the comics I'm currently making.  Thanks for this opportunity, Groove!

I'm Steven Butler, a 31 year veteran of the comic book industry. I've worked for many mainstream comic companies in my time, most notably Marvel and Archie Comics, where I had lengthy runs on characters like Silver Sable, Spider-Man, and Sonic The Hedgehog.  I also did work for comic Companies like Dark Horse, DC Comics, Disney Adventures Magazine, and Valiant Comics.

I've had the good fortune to work in a business that I always dreamed about when I was a kid in the Groovy Age, before comic book shops were even a thing(at least in my area)- where the local pharmacy or grocery store carried these four-color wonders called comic books that hooked me at such a young age.  I'm still not exactly sure what it was about them that so attracted me initially- the bold artwork done by legends in the industry- the action-packed storytelling of writer and artist who kept me entertained for the entire story and left me wanting more- the primary colors that beautifully complimented the stories being told- the larger-than-life characters themselves who made you cheer for them, or, in the case of the bad guys, made you love to hate them.  All in all, I think it was a combination of all of those pieces working together that truly captivated me and made me realize even back then in the early 1970's, that this was the thing I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  So, reading comics to me has always been about more than just enjoyment of an entertainment medium as a pastime- it's been a constant study of the form as a storytelling medium that I wanted to work in.

Having worked in the field for a long time now, I can say with all certainty that it's not a career for everybody- it's not even a career for everyone who think they want to do it.  But, if you're good enough, determined enough, not afraid of putting in long hours at the drawing board, and truly LOVE doing this stuff, it just might be for you.  There are no guarantees-  I've had ups and downs in my career just like everybody else.  I've even had to think outside the box and do other things like advertising art, t-shirt design, and caricatures to pay the bills.  I'm a married man with four grown kids, and it just hasn't always been easy- nothing that's truly worth it ever is.  But I'm still here, doing what I love to do for a living, and I said all that to lead into what's currently going on in the Butler Household.
A couple of years ago, when I was going about my "business as usual"- doing commissions for an increasing fan base, and drawing comics and covers for a variety of different indy companies, I was approached by my daughter Lily who asked me a simple question that went off like an atomic explosion in my brain.

Lily has always had the "art bug", ever since she was really little.  It may have something to do with the fact that I used to hold her as a baby while I was drawing the Sonic The Hedgehog comics for Archie.  I also used to read Casper and Hot Stuff Harvey Comics stories to her and her brother Aaron for bedtime stories(along with Marvel Monster comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby- they loved those).  So, her whole life has pretty much been one of being surrounded by comics and cartoons and the storytelling medium in general.

When she was in high school, I started noticing an exponential growth in her artistic abilities, and I started having her come to different conventions with me and to share my booth space with me.  Turns out she was a natural with it, and she started growing her own fan base, completely apart from my influence.  Lily's artistic influences are a bit different from mine-  She's influenced primarily by manga and anime, as well as the cartoons she grew up watching.

Now for the question she asked me back in 2018-  She just simply came up to me and said "Dad, can the two us do our own comic book together?"  I remember completely stopping whatever it was I was doing, because in my head, what she just asked me had a LOT more implications than she was even aware of.  To me, it was like a revelation, and I heard an inner voice in my head saying "Everything you've done has been leading to this.  You KNOW this is what you're supposed to do".  Was that God talking to me, or just my own mind trying to come to grips with the implications of what I had been asked to do?  Whatever it was, I recognized it as THE TRUTH.  After I gained my composure, I just looked at her and said "Okay, let's do it.", without even knowing what "it" was, yet.

Over the next couple of months, we brainstormed ideas that would eventually lead to our idea Fianna McCool And The Hound Of Ulster- a tale based on Irish Mythology, using anthropomorphic characters in a similar vein as my work on Sonic The Hedgehog, which was Lily's favorite growing up.  The Irish Mythology angle comes from our family heritage, as well as our shared love of fantasy literature and movies, and because Celtic lore is some of the most rich-yet-untapped fertile ground for comic storytelling.  We chose it to play up to both our strengths, really.

Fianna McCool is our female version of the Celtic hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill, who was one of the most important heroes of Celtic mythology, along with the mighty Cu Chullain, who appears in our story as Koo-Kullen, the "Hound of Ulster".  Together, these two heroic outlaws wage a desperate fight against the tyrannical Red Witch Queen Maeve of the kingdom of Connaught, and her insidious vermin army.  The story is full of action and intrigue, with some comedy thrown in for good measure.  It's most definitely a labor of love for both of us. It's also a comic that's geared for an all-ages audience.  Our goal is to entertain young and old alike with quality storytelling.  Simply put, we just tried to create a comic that we ourselves would like to read.

We started work on Fianna McCool And The Hound Of Ulster in 2019, and launched our kickstarter at the end of February this year.  The campaign proved successful, so we were off and running.  I handled the scripting and the penciling and inking in the traditional way I've always done it- pencils, pens, and paper, while Lily does the lettering and coloring and everything else on her iPad Pro tablet using the Clip Studio Paint software program.

We're really proud of the work we've done so far on the project, and are really excited about continuing on with it- we've got lots of stories to tell in Fianna's world, and I can't begin to express how great it is to be creating comics with my own daughter, who is doing a fantastic job on the lettering, the colors, and the layout.  In issue #2, she'll even be doing some penciling herself. I don't know if we're the first "Daddy-Daughter" team in comics- surely there have been others- but I know it has to be a pretty rare thing.  I just know that it's a mighty gratifying experience.  I know for a fact that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.

The first issue is now being sent out to all of the Kickstarter backers, with the majority of them having been mailed out as of this writing.  If you missed the Kickstarter, but are interested in acquiring a copy, you can either contact me through my Facebook page, Steven Butler Studios, or you could contact me via e-mail-  We would love to hear from you!

That's about it for this rambling guest post.  Thanks again, Groovy Agent, for giving me this opportunity to share a bit about the goings-on in Butlerville.  Diversions of The Groovy Kind is a blog I've followed now for many years.  It's a great repository for classic comic book storytelling- a treasure trove full of the "good stuff"!
Now, it's time to get back to making comics!

See ya!

Steven Butler

Ol' Groove here, again! I have a copy of Fianna McCool and the Hound of Ulster and it's a five-star affair from cover to cover (as I'm sure the above samples bear witness)! It's gorgeous, it's fun, and if you have kids or (like me) grandkids, they'll love it, too! As Stan the Man used to say, Fianna is an instant classic!


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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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!