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Splish Splash 1

posted on March 9, 2021

The concept behind Splish Splash is exactly what I do with Cover Me except different. Where the job of covers is to get you to pick up a book and part with some coin, splash pages have a similar but slightly different job. They’re your doorway into the story. It’s where you learn something about the story that makes you want to continue, or that piques your interest, or that just pulls you immediately into the story. And there are lots of ways of doing this. I’m of the opinion that splash pages have fallen on hard times lately (and I’ll be getting to that), so let’s start with how the splash page worked in the old days.

I first encountered the term splash page in the letter col of The Flash where the following exchange occurred: Dear Editor, In the story “Danger in the Air”, I noticed that when the Trickster ran off the cliff and continued running on air, the Flash was unable to chase him because of his inability to run on air. Yet in the next story – “The Man Who Claimed the Earth”- on the very first page you show the villain perched atop the Earth with the Flash running through the air toward the North Pole.  To which editor Julie Schwartz replied: The introductory page which portrayed the Flash scooting off the Earth in order to come to grips with the villain is known in the trade as a symbolic splash page. The splash is a “trailer” for the story that follows – and usually depicts an exciting or suspenseful moment that occurs in the story. However, as a change of pace, we occasionally use a symbolic splash – which is representative of the overall mood or subject of the story, and does not depict an actuations scene. Accordingly, the Flash’s running on air in this particular instance was symbolic of his pursuit of the villain in the story. – Editor

So there you have it straight from the horses mouth and the man who began my schooling on cartooning.  In forthcoming Splash Splash posts, we’ll look at how splash pages can do their job, and also post some just beacuse they’re so darn cool. Below is a bonus example of a Dr. Strange symbolic splash.

Poster/Book Reveal

posted on February 17, 2021

Last night’s poster reveal for this year’s Ohioana poster and conversation with David Weaver was a blast. And here’s the poster that was revealed. I’m very honored to have been asked to create a poster this year for the Festival’s 15th anniversary. The Festival is going to be virtual again as so many things still are, but I’m looking forward to the day when we can all safely gather again with our books and fellow readers at the Columbus Public Library.

Also revealed last night was my new book for this year’s Festival, The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10 which I sort of did a sneak reveal of the other day. The new book as well as its predecessors can be acquired simply going to the Books section on this site or directly to The book contains the beginning of the Lisa’s Story arc with behind the scenes looks at its origins and creation including actual sketchbook pages covering its development. It also includes Wally Winkerbean’s tour of duty in Afghanistan, which, sadly, is still as relevant today. Props to The Kent State University Press for creating such beautiful books. As someone once told me: “They sit well in the hand.”, and indeed they do.

Flash Friday – The Flash #266 October 1978

posted on January 15, 2021

Behind one of the dopier covers in the Flash Silver Age run lies a reasonably cool and clever story with one dopey part. Where to begin? Well the beginning seems like a good place. On the opening page we see some third-rate crooks sitting in the dark grumbling about a heist they are about to pull. Then it’s revealed that Heat Wave is in there with them. Then it’s revealed that they are all sitting inside of a faux pyramid sitting on a flatbed truck that’s delivering it to an exhibition of Egyptian artifacts. A Trojan pyramid as it were (he said mixing something or other).

Cut to the exhibit where we find Barry and Iris. Barry has accompanied Iris who is reporting on the exhibit when out jumps Heat Wave and the crooks. Iris sees Barry disappear followed by a cute panel where wife Iris is impatiently wondering where the hell the Flash is already. The Flash does show up and quickly dispatches the third-rate-thugs, and then its to the basement of the building where he battles Heaty in the midst of the building’s mechanicals. During the course of the battle, a Heat Wave blast destroys the huge air-conditioning unit. That blast shoots out chunks of ice, one of which knocks the Flash out. Heat Wave, instead of dispatching the Flash on the spot and making this the final Flash Friday, instead slinks away shivering and fearful amid the mini glaciers that have formed everywhere. Okay, we’ve reached the dopey part. Heat Wave has destroyed the air-conditioning unit causing ice to fly around and form everywhere in the basement. Why is this dopey? BECAUSE HEAT WAVE HAS DESTROYED THE AIR-CONDITIONER! Apparently writer Cary Bates thinks that the way air-conditioners work is that they have big blocks of ice inside. That can happen, of course and I’ve seen it, but not after you’ve DESTROYED THE AIR-CONDITIONER!

Okay, here comes the clever part. The next scene we see is Mick Rory aka Heat Wave lying on a couch discussing his problem with Doc Synett the shrink to the underworld. It turns out that Mick was accidentally locked in a meat locker as a child and that traumatic experience caused him to forever seek out heat and warmth going forward (and possibly become a vegetarian). This is a nice bit of business as Bates reveals the trauma behind Heat Wave’s pathological behavior that drives his criminal activities. Obviously HW has other compulsions as well since he could have solved his need for heat by moving to Arizona. But all joking aside (and may I say here that I could have added that he became a heat seeking misanthrope, but chose not to outside of this unctuous parenthetical, and things in parentheticals, as we all know, don’t count), I like the way Bates provides a very human underpinning for the character. Which raises an interesting point.

At some point it the nineties (I think), I was in my local comics emporium pursing a pool table of comics (I’ll explain that at some other time) when I spotted this stunning Flash cover showing a house in flames and a young boy with some matches kneeling in the foreground. That cover did what a cover is suppose to do (for a fuller explanation, see the Cover Me section of this blog) which is to make you have to have it and grab it off the rack or pool table (never mind, I just explained it). Needless to say, in this story Heat Wave’s obsession comes from the fact that he torched his house killing his family in the process. Don’t know who did the cover or who wrote the story, but I have to tell you that I like this version much much better. Since this cover is a perfect candidate for Cover Me, I have searched for it endlessly on the Grand Comics Data Base (a half hour) with no success. Obviously, I’m probably misremembering the time period, but if this cover rings any bells with any of you Flashinados out there, I’d love to get a scan to post. In return, you’ll get my undying gratitude.

I almost forget, the story we started this post with ends with Heat Wave tricking the Flash and trapping him in a cryogenic chamber (see how just one counseling session can help you overcome your fears?) and turning our hero into a corpsicle. Stay tuned.



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