The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus

You need this book, I kid you not. I've been a huge fan of Fred Hembeck since I can recall, well, at least since I first saw, bought and read his Fantastic Four Roast and the legendary Fred Hembeck Destroys The Marvel Universe. What made Hembeck appealing to me was that as I was buying both books from the Black Hole Book (and comic) Shop* the owners berated me for wasting good money on such crap. I think they'd rather of had me buy something else, but just what else I'll never know. At least they didn't deal drugs openly like another certain Adelaide store**. Still, I bought both books and enjoyed them no end. From there it wasn't a simple matter, but I did manage to buy the complete set of the Fantaco books that reprinted his Dateline Hembeck material - let me just say this, they're some of the funniest and well put together books you could possibly hope to find. They're still a delight to read and it'll be great having them all in the one volume, finally.

Hembeck still produces art, he sells most of it and it's well worth the expense because it's still well done. His classic cover redos always manage to bring out the latent humour that seems to exist on almost every cover ever drawn and remain faithful to the originals. I like buying Hembeck art because of several reasons, but here's the main one: each time a package arrives in the mail my 19 year old daughter will squeal when it's open, "Eeeeeeeeee HEMBECK!!! Coolness!!!" But then again she thinks Hembeck should be drawing the Teen Titans, along with the likes of Norm Breyfogle (now there's a combination!). Fred emailed me a while ago and told me about this book but insisted that I not tell anyone else, but now that the feline has been released from the sack I can let the world know! When this book comes out I'll be buying my own signed copy, complete with sketch, and I'll be telling anyone within earshot to do the same.

The following comes from the on-line pen of Fred Hembeck himself. He knows what's in the book so why not allow him to plug it?

Come February, 2008, Image Publishing will be gearing up to release THE NEARLY COMPLETE ESSENTIAL HEMBECK ARCHIVES OMNIBUS, featuring over 900 (!) pages of material written and drawn by cartoonist Fred Hembeck (who, in this particular instance of shameless self-promotion, is the actual individual typing in these very words), culled from the past three decades.

And all of this fun stuff will cost you (get ready) LESS THAN TWENTY FIVE BUCKS!!

(A single solitary penny less, true, but still, I'm thinking, a pretty gosh-darn good deal!...)

So, what exactly do we have to offer you in this massive volume?

Well, how about every single Dateline:@#$% strip EVER?

That's how this whole thing started out, y'see--my old buddy (and veteran comics embellisher) Al Gordon's suggested I put together a collection of each and every one of those old cartoons, including all the ones that had never been reprinted in a more permanent format previously. Al then proceeded to get his pal--and Image Publisher--Erik Larsen interested in the notion, and once things got rolling along, Erik encouraged me to expand the scope of the book to include a wide variety of additional material as well, some of which had never been seen before and some of which had turned up only in the most obscure of places.

So, divided into seven sections--each with a specially written explanatory introduction by yours truly--here's a quick rundown of the contents of THE NEARLY COMPLETE ESSENTIAL HEMBECK ARCHIVES OMNIBUS (or TNCEHAO for short, or maybe just THE HEMBECK OMNIBUS...):

Section One: "Little Freddy: Growing Up In The Silver Age of Comics". This is the shortest chapter--12 measly pages--but inasmuch as it best offers an origin story of the tome's main protagonist (again, that'd be me), it seemed like a good jumping off point for any uninitiated readers we manage to rope in.

Section Two: All seven of my early eighties Fantaco books, 276 pages worth: HEMBECK: THE BEST OF DATELINE:@#$%; HEMBECK 1980; ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE BRIDE OF HEMBECK; THE HEMBECK FILES; BAH, HEMBECK; JIMMY OLSEN'S PAL, FRED HEMBECK, and DIAL H FOR HEMBECK. People have been asking me for years for a reprint collection of these long out of print magazines--now, finally, those seven people will get their wish! Hey, we aim to please!...

Section Three: This is a hodge podge section bringing together all the Dateline:@#$% strips that failed to make the cut for the Fantaco collections, as well as ones that were done in the mid-eighties following the final Fantaco collection; work for other fanzines such as THE COMIC READER, COMICS SCENE and the like; some early commissions and spot illos, and all of my contributions to the once annual AMAZING HEROES SWIMSUIT SPECIAL (including The Thing in a thong!)--124 pages of art!

Section Four: A carefully selected 60 pages of material drawn from my four plus years as a member of the legendary comics apa, CAPA-alpha, back in the early eighties, including a few lengthy strips showcasing Cartoon Fred in a manner rarely seen in his other venues! Crazy stuff...

Section Five: Fifteen strips, ranging from a single page all the way up to ten, mostly--but not entirely--featuring original characters. Old favorites like The Dog and Mr. Mumbo Jumbo share these 80 pages with never before seen epics like 1985's 9 pager, "A Date With History" (a time travel farce) and "Chancy Encounter", a three pager done for a never published charity collection from around the turn of the millennium. Lotsa fun here, you betcha!

Section Six: The mid-nineties return of Dateline:@#$%! 210 pages collecting ALL the strips done during that period for THE COMICS BUYERS GUIDE, COMIC BOOK ARTIST, COMIC BOOK PROFILES, a special four pager done for AMAZING HEROES #200, and as many of the quarter page cartoons done especially for the CBG Fan Award winners as I could find!

Section Seven: From the nineties to today, another catch all, 64 page collection of goodies: Holiday cards, sketchbook strips, a few pages of KIDZ, several examples of my Classic Cover Redos, commissioned illos, internet art, and even three pages of nature illustration!

And besides all that, there's a Foreword by none other than Stan Lee, an Introduction by Jim Salicrup, and an Afterword by Al Gordon!! Now I ask you--isn't that worth almost twenty five dollars? (Although to paraphrase Jim S--do NOT attempt to read the whole thing in a single sitting, as your head will most surely explode!!)

How then to get yourself a copy of THE HEMBECK OMNIBUS?

Well, you can always request that your local comics store order enough to meet demand!

And then there's, where the book is already available for pre-order--here's the link.

Those of you interested in getting a signed copy will be happy to know that I'll have copies for sale at cover price (plus a yet to be determined Postage and Handling fee), and likewise I'll be offering the option of purchasing a copy including an original, fully-inked, illustration of the character of your choice on an inside page for a fair (but also as yet to be determined) fee--more details as the publication date looms ever closer.

(And if you'd like to check out a larger scan of the book's front cover--as well as an alternate color scheme and the black and white version, follow this link...)

Needless to say, I'm pretty darn excited at the prospect of holding a copy of this massive collection in my sweaty little palms, and I'm sure hoping some of you out there are at least mildly thrilled with the idea as well!


And then stop and take a much needed breath...

* now long gone comic book and sci-fi shop located in Chesser Street, Adelaide. Known for having the good stuff on the ground floor and the comic books in the basement. I think they used to encourage people to steal.

** also long gone. Without naming names, people in the know will know which store. You had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to it and rumour has it that the owner died of a drug overdose years ago.


Anonymous said…
Looks like I was going to the wrong comics shop, then...was that the one in Hindmarsh Square or the one up Rundle St?

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