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Allen Bellman

posted on December 11, 2020

The Flash Friday feature is stepping aside today so I can talk about the passing of Allen Bellman. Apart from being one of the true gentlemen in comics, Allen was one of our last remaining living links to the Golden Age of comic books. He actually worked in the Timely bullpen with Stan Lee. It makes me sad to think about no longer seeing Allen’s and his lovely wife Roz’s smiling faces from behind their table at future comic cons.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought these days to the young men (and a few women) who recognized the power of that nascent art form and who wanted to devote their lives to nurturing its existence. It’s hard to capture that feeling with mere words, but I know that as a kid, even before I could read I recognized the power of comics on the page. I would have been at a loss to explain what I found there, but I knew it was magic… and magic I got. Allen was one of the magicians.

Match to Flame 135

posted on December 10, 2020

Later, when Chuck came on board, we would meet at Luigi’s to go over scripts. And that’s when we started to steal the place. Not all at once, but one piece at a time. The first thing we copped was the bandbox, which was followed in short order by the Tiffany-style lamp over the cash register, then the cash register itself, and on and on until we had stolen everything down to the nails in the floor. Even then, we weren’t finished. We soon added the sign and awning out front to my original street view to finally complete the picture. The space above Montoni’s in the strip would be split into an apartment that several of the characters would move through over time and another space that would house Lisa’s law offices and later the Komix Korner. The sidewalk level space next to Montoni’s would at various times be a coffeehouse, a deli, and a Chinese restaurant; but, in the end, only the comics shop and pizzeria would remain, a testament to those long ago guys’ nights out. (On a side note, Luigi’s would one day take on near mythical stature in the real world as well when it became the site of the Lisa’s Story book launch event, and still later when it would host a surprise 40th wedding anniversary bash for Cathy and me. If you’re ever in Akron, Ohio, and you want to visit Montoni’s, all you need do is stop by Luigi’s. Be sure to say hello if you see Cathy and me, Brian and me, or Chuck and me there.)

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 8

Match to Flame 134

posted on December 9, 2020

The name Montoni’s came from a pizzeria in Kent that I frequented as a student at Kent State. The exterior appearance came from Frank’s Pizza, a pizzeria in nearby Oberlin that I remembered from some apartment hunting I’d done right out of college and that I later went back to for reference pictures. The inside initially was a rather generic setup with simply a pizza oven and a counter. Later on, I would add some video games and tables as needs arose. Montoni’s soon became a major set piece in Funky where events of consequence would take place. A pregnant teenaged Lisa went into labor there and was driven to the hospital by Tony Montoni in the Montoni’s pizza van. In fact, she was the first delivery that night (see what I did there?). Montoni’s also became the wedding chapel of love with numerous weddings taking place there, my favorite of which was when Les and Lisa got married on Halloween dressed as Batman and Robin. Montoni’s would continue to grow in both importance and size. In the late eighties, a friend of mine who was a musician introduced me to a pizza restaurant in Akron called Luigi’s. Musicians know all of the great places to eat, especially late at night, and Luigi’s was certainly that and more. They had an old jukebox you could play from the tables that was connected to a Chicago Coin music box over the front door, which had a curtain that would open to show a band playing to the music from the jukebox. Okay, that was too cool not to share, so I began taking our son Brian on a guys’ night out once a month where we would have some pizza and then visit a comic shop, followed by book and record stores in a noble attempt to inculcate Brian with a little culture.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 8