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Cover Me 127

posted on October 10, 2020

A cool cover for a very cool story that, like so many other things sandbagged by the shutdown, will probably never be wrapped-up.

Flash Fridays – The Flash #260 April 1978

posted on October 9, 2020

This issue features a rather nifty bit of story telling that touches base with one of the more outre´elements of the Flash cannon. It’s narrated by Eric Russell, who along with his wife Fran, are the birth parents of Iris West/Allen from the year 2978 (For the full story on this, I direct you to the post on issue #203). During a visit from Barry/Flash and Iris, Eric does some akin to internet surfing and discovers that one of his ancestors, Philip Russell, died, committed a crime and got married all on the same day. If this is one of those stories that sprang from a Julie Schwartz cover idea, then Cary Bates did a masterful job of pulling it off in a truly genuine and entertaining way.

To solve the mystery, Eric suggests that he and Fran accompany the Allens on their return to 1978. When they get there, Iris and Fran go shopping leaving Eric free to track down some answers. The Flash follows Eric, and, once Eric has filled him in on his dilemma, Eric says that he could cure his renegade relative with something called a psycho-healer, but that he’s leery of tampering with time and the forces of destiny. The Flash assures him that he tampers all the time with time with no ill effects (Can I hear a Holy Flashpoint from you, cousins?). So they fix the fugitive family member, getting him to his wedding on time, thereby fulfilling the family’s future. Given that the current Flash book is filled with little else but how the Flash with his temporal tinkering has screwed up the timeline beyond all hope of repair, an ironic smile is hard to avoid. But those were simpler times when good, simple and clever story telling was all you needed to create a good comic book. Perhaps that’s why I’m reading so much Silver Age stuff these covid days.

Match to Flame 129

posted on October 7, 2020

The signature image of the story, the working handle of which would become “the teen suicide story,” was the Sunday strip where Susan is lying facedown on her bed with a bottle of pills at the end of her outstretched hand. It would not only be unlike anything I had ever seen on a newspaper comic page, but it would be sitting right there alongside Nancy, Blondie, and Snoopy. A pretty tall ask. So, in order to make that happen, I would once again need my syndicate’s help in taking my work to the street. Another advantage of being way ahead of deadline is that it afforded my editors at King Features the chance to do the necessary spadework to prepare the ground for this story arc. The work was previewed with groups that dealt with teen suicide to garner information and support. Extracts were created for editors so they could review the entire story. Sidebar pieces providing contact and support information were prepared to accompany the strips as they ran in papers across the country. These efforts included a special guide on suicide prevention that was prepared and presented to editors so they in turn could offer it to their readers. However, at one point, in spite of our best efforts, the Sunday strip with Susan came perilously close to not running in almost half of Funky’s papers around the country. The color comics printers in the West initially refused to print the strip, and it began to look like this idea, on a scale of one to “Hey, let’s fill up the Hindenburg with hydrogen,” was tending more toward the latter and wasn’t going to fly (bad zeppelin pun not intended . . . well, maybe). In stepped King Features’ managing editor Jay Kennedy, who told the parties involved that if they didn’t run the strip, the next people they would be hearing from would be King’s lawyers. They ran the strip.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 8