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Reflections On 2007

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That's it. We now sit on the last day of 2007 wondering where the hell did the year go. I have no answer as to where it went, but I can remember some of the highlights for me, and I'm not interested in the low-lights, so don't even bring them out. Sadly though we lost a few on the way, James Kemsley is still a raw wound in a lot of minds, Marshall Rogers left a void that can't be filled along with others. So, in no order at all, here's some of the things that made 2007 something to remember for me.

IMAGE OF THE YEAR

Without a doubt Ben Cousins. Rarely has an Australian footballer flown so high and fallen so far and with a resounding thud. Still he isn't the only one to screw up, and let's face it, drugs aren't as bad as rape or assault, yet some footballers can do both and not only are they retained on a squad, but are lauded as champions of the game - go figure. Arrested in Perth on drugs charges, Cousins was dragged before the public sans his shirt, wit…

Ageism And Discrimination In Comic Books, or… Whatever Happened to Frank Springer?

This was commissioned as an article by a very well known artist in early December. Once he approached me about the topic I decided to just go ahead and write it. There was no hidden agenda, I was told to write it and publish it, so here goes. Variations on this theme will probably appear elsewhere, but that remains to be seen.

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AGEISM AND DISCRIMINATION IN COMIC BOOKS, or… WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FRANK SPRINGER?

Does ageism and discrimination exist in comic books today? You decide.

Frank Springer is not only a good guy; he’s a very talented artist. During his long career he provided more work than you’re ever likely to know about as he ghosted for more than one person on various strips and books. He drew, uncredited, strips such as The Heart Of Juliet Jones, The Phantom, Friday Foster and many more. He began work as an assistant to the late George Wundar on the legendary Terry And The Pirates strip. Natural progression saw his career go from new…

Merry Christmas

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Forgery for the Holidays

It's been a while between drinks but it's always a delight to wake up and find an email from the Former DC Staffer in the inbox waiting to go. This one is a Christmas themed message.

Enjoy!

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Forgery for the Holidays

During the '80s both DC and Marvel used to have very small holiday parties. There was never very much money for these events but they were always welcome. One year Marvel did exceptionally well and decided to have a staff only party and handed out special invitations to the event. A production staff artist at DC was determined to get in so borrowing a Marvel staffers invite he spent two days in the DC production department constructing an exact forgery. It was positively perfect once completed but most of us thought he’d get caught for sure.

The next day we asked how the Marvel party was and he said it was a BLAST!

Ingenuity at its best. Happy Holidays!

Dave Simons: Commissions

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It was the dinner I missed due to a number of reasons, and I'm still kicking myself - in fact it's going to be one of the biggest regrets of my life. Going around the table we have (from left to right) Norm Breyfogle, Rich Buckler, Michael Netzer, Alan and Pauline Weiss and Dave Simons. Personally I think I'd have been a bit too starstruck to contributed to any meaningful conversation. The dinner is having some offshoots though, in 2008 I'll be working with Michael on a project, I'm still working with Norm, Alan and myself are busy with our creator owned project and Rich and Dave have both gotten back in touch. I couldn't ask for anymore.

Let me break your heart though. All five artists drew on the tablecloth and left it behind. Makes me cry thinking about it.

As there's a lot of people out there who love this kind of thing, this is just to let you all know that Dave Simons is now accepting commissions. I hate to say it but Dave's not been in the best of …

The Meggs XII, April 4, 2004

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I mentioned this photo in my previous post about James Kemsley. This photo was taken in 2004 when I finally caught up with James at a Meggs XI cricket match at Chateau Tanunda. You'd have to go a long way to meet a nicer guy than James, he was a treat to speak to and just brilliant to hang out with.

It was a lovely day all round and a very entertaining cricket match. Much to the amusement of all present Jamie Siddons punished the bowling of James hitting him into a nearby creek so often that some kids eventually stationed themselves there knowing the ball was coming their way. Siddons reached his 50 and promptly walked off the ground in search of a drink. INXS's Tim Farris (who, I must admit, looked like he'd spent a lot of time eating pies) was out at least three times, a first ball duck, another duck and then for three. Lennie Pascoe wasn't much better, standing to full height he threw his (now rather large) stomach out to the world and announced that he'd …

King Size Comic, An Australian Classic

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Aren't these a pair of stunners? I managed to pick them up for a pittance, along with a handful of vintage Panther comic books, and if I told you what they cost me you'd just scream.

I'll freely admit that my knowledge of these books is fairly limited, but here's what I do know. According to Kevin Patrick's excellent article on Buck Rogers, King Size Comic was "a giant 2/- (two shilling) magazine, produced by the Cleveland Publishing Company of Sydney under its Apache Comics imprint. Apart from Buck Rogers, King Size Comic featured reprints of various American and Australian comic book features, ranging from crime (T-Man) to westerns (El Lobo, Tim Holt) and science-fiction (Silver Starr), before it, too, ceased publication in 1959."*

Not much is it? However the best information about Cleveland Publishing comes from John Ryan's excellent and invaluable book, Panel By Panel. On page 207 of that book Ryan discusses Cleveland briefly, and I again quote;

&quo…

Dangers Dozen #1

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Hot off the press and in your store today, well, at least it is if you live in Australia. I've been waiting to hold this little puppy in my hands for months now, and colour me happy because here it is. From the publisher First Salvo comes the first issue in what should be a long line of comic books. Written by Thad Branco and Anthony Cannonier, Dangers Dozen features some of the best artwork to come from Norm Breyfogle in ages. Add to that a back-up story by Mike Baron and drawn by Gabe Eltaeb, well you can see how you can't go wrong with this one.

All six issues have been fully written and drawn, so this is one book that'll be coming out on time, every time. Go into your local store and order it, buy it, read it and enjoy it. It's comic books like they used to be - enjoyment over flash.

Original Art Stories: James Kemsley, Don Perlin & Norm Breyfogle

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What do James Kemsley, Don Perlin and Norm Breyfogle have in common? More than you might think. I first interviewed Don Perlin in 2003 and during the course of the interview he mentioned he that he wanted to use the interview as an on-line ad for his 2003 Tourettes fund raiser. That was more than fine with me, so off we went and each time I plugged the interview I also plugged the web-site where Don would be doing his auctions. Don emailed me later and told me that it'd be a raging success, and that made me feel fairly good, which proved to be important as it was a time when I was feeling fairly bad.

Fast forward a year. In mid 2004 Don Perlin had asked me if I knew any artists that I could approach for donations for his then annual Cavalcade Of Comics auctions. We spoke about the artists I then knew, a lot of them Don already knew and had already approached, with varying degrees of success, but three names came out of the hat - James, Norm and a Legendary Artist who'll remain …

Farewell James Kemsley

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Ginger Meggs cartoonist James Kemsley dies, age 59
© AP
2007-12-04

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Cartoonist James Kemsley, who penned the Ginger Meggs comic strip for more than 20 years, died after a two-year battle with motor neuron disease, friends said Tuesday. He was 59.

Kemsley, who died at his home in the eastern town of Bowral on Monday, was the fourth cartoonist to draw the comic strip about the precocious red-haired boy named Ginger.

He took over production of the comic in 1984, and was widely credited with transforming the Sunday strip to a daily format and expanding readership to more than 120 newspapers around the world, including the United States, Brazil, India and Thailand, among others.

Australian Cartoonists' Association President Peter Broelman said Kemsley loved cartooning and was working on Ginger Meggs right until the end. "He was working on Meggs that morning," Broelman said. "He couldn't draw as such but he was certainly writing ideas and ... involve…

Gredown, Atlas & Seaboard: The Unpublished Bog Beast

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I've covered the Atlas/Seaboard connection with Gredown previously in at least two blog entries because, frankly, it interests me no end. However it wasn't until Spiros Xenos contacted me with the details of a previously unpublished Walter Simonson story that I gave any thought to there being something more to these releases. Since that time I've gone through and indexed a pile of Gredowns in the hopes of uncovering more of these unpublished Atlas era stories. I've always felt that an Atlas story would surface before something from Skywald but until all the material has been waded through we'll never know for sure. I'm very sure that I've uncovered at least two to three unpublished Peter Hypnos stories that should have appeared in various Warren Magazines. You can imagine how I felt when I discovered what I believe to be a previously unpublished Atlas 'Bog Beast' story, as drawn by Badia Romero and I presume written by Gabriel Levy.

The story, titled…

Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction: The Unseen Kelly Freas

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You're not seeing double as these two comics are not exactly the same. What you're looking at is the the rejected Kelly Freas cover to the Marvel magazine, Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction #1 as published by Yaffa* in 1979.

Variant covers on Australian comic books are just one of the reasons why they're in demand. When researching the Newton line (an ongoing concern by the way) I discovered that there existed a variant cover for issue #2 of the magazine, Monsters Unleashed. This cover featured slightly altered artwork and, as near as I can determine, this cover only appeared on the Newton comic of the same name (I have ordered a pile of Yaffa Monsters Unleashed, so I'll be able to determine if the cover carried across). So how did this cover surface on an Australian comic?

It's well known that Marvel would commission covers and artwork from artists that they would then have altered, thus preventing them from being used in their original form. It's an age old pra…

Home, Home Again

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The road trip is finished. We eventually covered over 5,000kms in just under twelve days, with five of those serious driving days - the rest were spent resting up at my mothers place on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. My reputation as a storm repellent was in full flight, all week storms were predicted every evening, none eventuated. Happens every time. It was a good two weeks, much rest and much did we see, and we took photos of most of it.

Yesterday we headed out of a little town called Warren in New South Wales at about 6:30am. I can't enough about Warren as we saw all of it in about five minutes, and that included checking the map to make sure we were in the right place the night before (we covered 1,000kms in ten hours). Once we found out hotel room I spent the evening watching the election coverage (for once it was riveting!) and listening to the other half snore happily away.

This was the scenery between Warren and Broken Hill the next morning (yesterday). For 600kms I dr…

Why I Don't Like Jack Kirby

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It'd be all too easy to title this little article, "Why I Like Jack Kirby", but that's not the point. It's a given that if you're of a certain age then you automatically must like Kirby and his art or you're an idiot. Generations of people grew up with Kirby's artwork in their comic books, be it the Marvel Silver Age or when he crossed over to DC in the early 1970s and attempted to revolutionise the comic book world there. Virtually every artist I've spoken to has sang the praises of Kirby and rightly so. The man was a true visionary. That a company, Marvel, could form an empire on the back of characters that he either created or co-created with Stan Lee (and let's face it, we may never know the extent of each man's involvement) and thrive for over five decades since speaks volumes. The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man...the list is almost endless. However all of that bypassed me.

I first found Jack Kirby in the early…

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