posted on February 21, 2014
As you’ve no doubt already seen elsewhere on this site, Volume three of The Complete Funky Winkerbean is just out and available everywhere, although, personally, I think it’s hard to beat the prices on Amazon. So I’m not going to say any more about it here except to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the charming foreword written by Joe Walsh for the book. Joe writes prose as well as he writes songs and I appreciate his lending his talents to the book. Instead, what I thought I would do would be to give you a sneak peek at the cover of the new Crankshaft book that will be coming out this spring because, well, that’s just the kind of guy I am. It’s a book that collects all of the baseball stories that have taken place in the strip, and there’s even a little story behind it. Crankshaft had been optioned for a movie, actually several times, and, on one of those occasions, baseball was to play a role in the film. The producer had asked me to send him copies of all the baseball strips that artist Chuck Ayers and I had done. On reading through all of those strips, it seemed to me that there was a book-like narrative thread that ran through everything. As I mention in the book’s intro, baseball had provided me with a vehicle for exploring a man’s life and allowed me to examine how only getting his fingerprints on the brass ring shaped the remainder of his life and left him a little… cranky. The fine folks at the KSU Press agreed with me and so the book covering Crankshaft’s exploits from playing with the Toledo Mud Hens to today’s senior league games will be out this April. Spoiler alert: Even I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool book. It might even include a couple of honorary pitches by Mr. Ayers and myself so, with your leave, I’m going to head out to my backyard and start loosening up by chucking a few snowballs at the old oak tree.
The Comic Book Sundays 3 – Strange Adventures #120
posted on February 5, 2014
When I reached the age of awareness, I began making trips to the Rexall drugstore a few blocks from my grandparent’s house. It was there that I found the comic books that would spin my head around. I discovered that there was a party going on and those books were my invitation to the party. On one particular weekend, I found Strange Adventures #120 waiting for me there. It was a Julie Schwartz edited book so I knew that it was going to be right in my wheelhouse. I’d already discovered Julie edited comics such as the Flash and Mystery in Space there and I’d begun to seek out other books edited by him. It was in this particular comic that I came upon the Atomic Knights, a story set in a post World War Three scenario. Julie was a science fiction fan and an intelligent one which showed in the skillful blending of the SF and superhero genres. Despite being a post apocalyptic setting, the Atomic Knights stories always pictured a positive and more hopeful road for humanity. It was much different from the dystopian comics of today which are written for a much different and more sophisticated audience.
It didn’t hurt one bit that the Knight’s stories were drawn by one of my favorite artists of all time, Murphey Anderson. Murphy’s sleek, mannered and polished drawings were the kind of work I aspired to in those halcyon days. Having at one point received some original art from Julie Schwartz, I knew the dimensions at which the work was created, and I spent one frozen Ohio winter copying one of Murphey’s Atomic Knights stories. Pouring over his work in such a detailed way was an inspiration. A little while back, DC Comics brought out a trade collection of all of Murphey’s Atomic Knights work. More about the Knights can also be found in Mike Barr’s Silver Age Sci-Fi Companion published by TwoMorrows publishing. And just when I thought there was no more Murphey Anderson work to be enjoyed, Hermes Press is reprinting his daily and Sunday run on the Buck Rodgers newspaper strip. We’re truly living in a golden age as far as the reprinting of classic comics is concerned.
I’ll have more on the comic book covers I use in Funky in future blogs, but, for now, that’s about the size of it.