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Flash Fridays – The Flash #224 November-December 1973

posted on April 19, 2019

The book opens with Barry and Iris at a political rally where Iris says: “Isn’t it wonderful, Barry? Your co-worker and old friend, Charlie Conwell, running for district attorney!” Now I can remember at least two prior occasions where we heard Barry refer to one of his co-workers by name. The first was very early in the run (I’m thinking one of the Showcase issues here) when Barry referred to his fellow lab rat as Stan. When it happened a second time, the scientist sidekick had a different name and I’m fairly sure it was Charlie. Now this blog is just for fun and isn’t meant to be homework, and I really don’t have the time to go back through all of those issues and make sure, but, given how Cary Bates is so reverentially restoring the Flash mythos at this point in the run, I’m willing to bet that he did. Which the comic book geek in me finds very cool indeed.

When the Flash is unable to save Charlie from an assassin’s bullet, he vows to do what his friend what planning to do as district attorney and wipe out the Maxel Mob. As he does this, the Flash gets a little bit of ghostly help from Charlie beyond the grave. It’s Bates’s attempt to write another Doorway to the Unknown a la John Broome, but, unlike that former story, it fails to make as much of an impression. What does make an impression is the Irv Novick/Dick Giordano art which just seems to get better with each succeeding issue.

What makes an even bigger impression is the Denny O’Neil Green Lantern tale, again aided by the terrific Dick Giordano art. In this story, O’Neil makes quiet the new loud as he pens a very introspective story about a super hero dealing with a crisis of confidence. It’s beautifully done and is by far the better story in this issue. I remember when I read it at the time, it provided a nice bit of inspiration when I was going through a mild power outage of my own. Periodically throughout my life a comic book would show up at just the right moment to uplift, inspire, or teach me something when I needed it. It’s funny how comic books always seemed to have the ability to do what superheroes are supposed to do. Be there for you.

Pipeline – Rip Tide

posted on April 17, 2019

Here’s a rather deep dive into the pipeline for a premature peek at a preliminary sketch for a Rip Tide comic book cover done by Bob Wiacek. Let me caution that this will eventually appear in Funky, but it’s going to be awhile.


Match to Flame 99

posted on April 16, 2019

My syndicate News America Syndicate was in the process of being absorbed by King Features. These things are never easy, but this transition (there it is again) was a bit more traumatic for a couple of reasons. To begin with, Richard Newcombe, the president of News America, had begun the process of instilling a different culture at the syndicate. For example, in 1985 we had begun receiving subscribing client lists along with our customary royalty statements. From that point on, I would finally know each and every paper that Funky Winkerbean and John Darling were in. Looking back from today’s perspective, it seems a little hard to believe that getting that information wasn’t just pro forma policy, but trust me when I say that it was a big deal back then. My contract, of course, stipulated that I could request such a list at any time, but they weren’t provided as a matter of course. In our fearful and obsequious state of mind, we cartoonists were too timid to ask. That being said, I did request that list once, and, when it arrived, the papers were there, but all of the rates were redacted. It’s a rather cringe-worthy admission, but aside from Funky’s initial launch and my lone request, I never received another list of my client papers. I didn’t know who they were or what they were being charged. Until Rick sent them to me. In a letter to the contributors in 1985, Rick once wrote: “Simply stated, this is a part of the open door policy that will be in effect at News America Syndicate so long as I am President and Chief Executive Officer. It is my sincere belief that all of the Syndicate’s contributors are entitled to know as much as we know about their strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace we serve.” He had me at “simply stated.” Rick Newcombe, of course, had been the one to give me complete editorial control of my work, but Rick also helped instill in me that most ineffable of notions, the idea that the characters I had created for Funky Winkerbean and John Darling belonged to me. I should be the owner of what I create. That just wasn’t the norm at that time, but Rick thought that it should be. And I was beginning to think so too. I had previously gotten in touch with my attorney and, at my behest, he had sent News America a letter saying that I wanted to renegotiate my contract and, failing that, I would take legal action to have the contract overturned. So you can see that the idea of no longer being able to work with Rick once the syndicate had changed hands was indeed traumatic.

In February 1987, Funky Winkerbean and John Darling moved from California to New York, the home of King Features, and along with them traveled the letter from my attorney. Beginning with 1987, Ed Crankshaft, the curmudgeonly school bus driver in Funky Winkerbean, stopped appearing in the strip. On February 13, 1987, Richard Newcombe founded Creators Syndicate.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Six