Friday, January 12, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Punched Panda!

Don’t 'cha just hate it when something like this happens? 

[Cue "Film Noir" music!] 

Ya order a comic that’s been a longtime nagging hole in yer collection from an online retailer.  Ya choose “GOOD” condition, either because o' th' price or it’s th' only condition available.  Ya expect a “GOOD” condition comic ta be far from perfect in its appearance (…not unlike many comic COLLECTORS) – but ya know yer gonna get a complete an' very readable copy. 

Den… Er, THEN, it arrives, an’ ya find that someone’s put a BULLET THROUGH IT! 

…Okay, okay… Some kid, back in the 1950s simply assaulted it with a HOLE PUNCH!  But, the singular punch looks SO NEAT, going completely through the book, that it LOOKS like a precisely fired assassin’s bullet! 


And, such was the case with the copy of Dell Comics' ANDY PANDA # 16 (Cover Date: November 1952 / January 1953). 

Below is the front cover of my copy.  Note that, while bagged and boarded, this flaw is hardly noticeable to the casual glance. 

It is at the spot where Andy's right glove intersects with Charlie Chicken's right arm.  Look closely... 

Here’s a CLOSE-UP of the area on the front cover.

A clean shot, er… PUNCH, that goes all the way through, mutilating dialogue balloons as it went!

Finally, the exit wound, er… PUNCH, through the back cover!

Fortunately, I have a very good relationship with this online retailer.  They stand behind their products, and their commitment to me as a customer.  A suitable replacement copy has already been received. 
Now, it looks more like THIS! 

Oh, and it’s not as if *I’m* completely innocent of mutilating or otherwise defacing comic books, as this very shameful post describes!

Oh, and let’s not even consider the horrors of something I did in my own immediate-post-toddler and pre-kindergarten years!  ...And, to a Carl Barks story, no less! 

 The horror!  The HORROR!   

...They weren't "lucky, lucky ducks" on that fateful day! 

Then again, maybe they WERE!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

R.I.P. Vic Lockman.

We begin the new year of 2018 on a very sad note…

One of the most prolific comic book writers of all time, and a major influence on my own comics work, Vic Lockman, passed away (sadly unnoticed) in June of 2017, at the age of 90! 

To better appreciate the accomplishments of Vic Lockman, please first read the Blog posts of Mark Evanier, who worked as a writer for Western Publishing’s Gold Key Comics during the 1970’s, and was a then-contemporary of Mr. Lockman… HERE and more HERE

Below is a piece I wrote on Vic Lockman for this Blog’s “ancestor”, THE ISSUE AT HAND fanzine and APA column, back in early 2001 - with all illustrations added especially for this post!  After that, I’ll be back with a few examples of how the unique stylings of Vic Lockman influenced – and CONTINUES to influence – my own comic book work… and another “special treat!”

But, first… please join me in 2001 – already in progress…  

With the release of Archie Comics’ Veronica # 106 (December, 2000), veteran comics writer Vic Lockman finds himself with work published in six different decades! 

Another "Veronica" story by Vic Lockman, from issue # 96, released at the end of 1999! 

Yes, comic book readers of the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70’s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and now the “Oh-Ohs” have experienced the talents of one of comics’ most prolific writers of all time. 

While he has contributed some “art” (in quotes because, frankly, it wasn’t all that great) it was Vic Lockman’s strengths as a WRITER that would carry him from the middle of one century into the beginning of the next!  Perhaps wisely, his art would be mostly relegated to “game and puzzle pages” throughout his prime period of the ‘60s and ‘70s, followed (oddly) by a few isolated efforts for Gladstone Series II’s Disney comics during the later 1990s.   

As the ‘50s gave way to the 60s, and for the balance of Western Publishing’s years as a comics publisher ending in 1984, Vic Lockman would handle the vast majority of “funny” or “animated” character titles to emerge from Western’s Dell, Gold Key, and Whitman comic book lines, with an emphasis on Disney, Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera, and Walter Lantz characters. 

Creatively, Lockman would reach his height during the early-to-mid 1960’s, with such stories of note as:  

Time Jumper”  Huckleberry Hound #  5  (May-June, 1960).  Armed with a mere children’s book, Huck displays ingenuity and heroism throughout history.  With art by the great Hanna-Barbera comics artist Harvey Eisenberg, this tale of historical juxtaposition is a mini-masterpiece for both writer and artist! 

The Flintstones meet Frankenstein and Dracula” (…nowhere NEAR as bad as it sounds!)  The Flintstones # 33  (April, 1966).  Time travel with a twist… the monsters journey back to Bedrock and are mistaken for Fred’s visiting cousins! 

The Battle at Hadrian’s Wall”  Donald Duck # 107  (May, 1966).  Donald struts his stuff as a Roman centurion. 

Og’s Iron BedDonald Duck # 109  (September, 1966).  Released July, 26, 1966.  An historical adventure with (so I’m told by folks who know more about this than I) some Biblical overtones!  Establishes Lockman’s creation Emil Eagle as a full-fledged villain. 

Trapped in Time”  Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories # 323 – 326.  (Aug. – Nov., 1967) The second best of all the Mickey Mouse serials originally produced for comic books.  Mickey and Goofy set out to rescue “time lost” inventor Gyro Gearloose. 

2018 UPDATE:  More recent information would indicate that "Trapped in Time" was actually written by Cecil Beard, and not Vic Lockman.  Though I remain certain of the other stories listed here.  

The Dragon’s Amulet”  Uncle Scrooge # 74  (April, 1968).  The first full-length American Uncle Scrooge adventure not produced by Carl Barks.  Intrigue surrounds a mysterious Asian figurine in Scrooge’s possession. 

In addition, Vic Lockman will always have my eternal gratitude for his handling of the comic book version of the story in which Fred Flintstone meets The Great Gazoo. (The Flintstones # 34 June, ‘66)  Demonstrating wisdom far in excess of that of the producers of the TV series, Lockman sent Gazoo back into space permanently at story’s end!  

Perhaps THE FLINTSTONES TV Series would have run still longer, if Vic Lockman had some say in its direction! 

Go home, Gazoo! 

Stylistically, Lockman’s stories (…though always uncredited during his tenure at Western) are among the easiest to identify, once you learn to recognize the keys. 

Dialogue:  Vic Lockman’s may be among the most unique dialogue in comics.  Here are a few things to look for. 

Rhyming:  While executing a plot to rob Uncle Scrooge, a Beagle Boy would utter the following:  “Yo-Ho-Ho!  We’ll soon be in the dough!” 

Alliteration:  A villain might be described as: “A doer of dastardly deeds”, while a hero could be referred to as “A super somebody or other”.  Cheers may be directed from one character to another as: “Yay for you!”

Regardless of how red-blooded and “male” a character might be, a reaction of distressed surprise will often begin with “Eek!”, and no matter how far from Canada a story might be set, expressions of questioning and puzzlement always begin with “Eh?”. 

Story and Plot Conventions:  Things to look for include:

A device or object, often intended or designed for a specific purpose within the story, being used at the story’s end for a different, more incongruous or more offbeat purpose.  If Gyro Gearloose invents something for someone in a Vic Lockman story, you can COUNT on an ending like this!  In fact, it’s a virtual (…Ahem!) “lock, man”!   

Like this HAMMOCK, for instance! 

The starring character triumphs over adversity… AND (…predating the advent of the Discover Card) gets a cash reward.  This is especially true of the stories Lockman has written for Goofy over the years.  In fact, a running joke I had with my late friend Chris Barat is the line: “But, Goofy, what will you do with the reward money?” 

Given this, Lockman’s stories were far less cynical in nature than those of his contemporary, Carl Barks.  The starring characters almost always emerged “Vic-torious” (Sorry!) and endings were generally “happy” or, at worst, restored the status quo.  

Taking a page (…Literally!) from the DC Comics of the 1950s and 60s, Lockman’s longer adventure stories often began with a splash panel depicting the action to come already in full swing.  

For instance, “The Battle at Hadrian’s Wall” opens with a full page of Centurion Donald Duck being assaulted by the boulders of attacking barbarians.  

From DONALD DUCK # 107 (MAY, 1966)
Lockman’s captioning would usually say something to the effect of: “How did Donald find himself in such a predicamentLet’s turn back the clock and find out”.  Often, this bit would be accompanied by an anthropomorphic “alarm clock” walking backward.  

By contrast, Carl Barks almost always began an adventure opus conventionally in a domestic setting, and moved the story forward from that familiar point of origin. 

Lockman would remain with Western Publishing until their cessation as a comic book publisher in 1984.  Over those years, he would produce a tremendous volume of work, and, in total honesty, a good deal of what followed the period of the mid-late 1960s was average to poor.  

During the Whitman years of the early to mid 1980s, much of it was downright dreadful.  I don’t hold Lockman fully responsible for this, as shorter dictated story lengths and increasing restrictions would have a decided effect on nearly ALL writing to emerge from Western as the tired publisher plodded on toward its demise.

That's one mighty fearsome finger on that Beagle Boy!  Hope it's not loaded!  From UNCLE SCROOGE # 194 (1981).     

As the eighties wore on, Lockman found employment as part of the “Disney Studio Program”, which provided comic book stories for foreign licensees.  Some of these stories found their way into Gladstone Series I’s  Ducktales and other comic titles published domestically.

The nineties saw Vic Lockman producing original story and ( Eek! ) art on a sporadic basis for the Gladstone Series II Disney comic titles.  He even self-published a series of comic art instruction books during the period, which were advertised in those same Gladstone comics.  ( Double Eek! )  

He also saw duty on the new Flintstones title published by Archie Comics during the middle of the decade, joining artist Pete Alvarado with whom he collaborated on The Flintstones during the Silver Age for Gold Key.  
From Archie Comics' THE FLINTSTONES # 15 (Nov. 1996).

After the Hanna-Barbera license was “brought home” to DC Comics, Lockman’s association with Archie apparently led to an occasional assignment on the Veronica title, which brings us to the year 2000 and a sixth decade of his actively working in comics! 

Another Vic Lockman story from VERONICA # 96! 

Good night, Mr. Lockman, and good comics reading… and Yay for you, Vic!   

[ END of 2001 Material ]
Disclaimer: As noted, the above was written in early 2001 when much less about "who-did-what" was actually known - and more was left pure speculation and association with other identified works.  In my desire to present this material "as-written" in 2001, I note that perhaps certain stories could possibly be now-attributed to others.  But, back then, it sure seemed like Vic Lockman wrote these particular tales, based on the identifying criteria I've outlined.  End Disclaimer.

For more of Vic Lockman’s better comics work, go to THIS POST on the Gold Key Comics run of THE JETSONS, which (after the overall comic-book history lesson) discusses three good Lockman Jetsons stories. 

 And, here's another great one I didn't mention in the link!  George gets to relive his life having made the OPPOSITE DECISION on a very critical life choice!  ...Imagine if we could all have such an experience!  

 On the flip side, Vic Lockman was partially responsible for what I believe may be the single worst Disney comic book story ever published! 
For "Bird Bothered Hero", you SHOULD throw stuff!  BOOO! 

I'm GLAD this scan came out crooked! GLAD! GLAD! GLAD!

Though we CAN blame the WRITING on him, we cannot do so for the WORST ART I’ve ever beheld in such a comic – and the unattractive and uncomfortably large LETTERING that come together with said writing to make this story so uniquely bad!  See the panel below – and read THIS POST from GeoX for which I give a full-length lecture in the comments section! 

But, for better or for worse (mostly better), Vic Lockman remains a huge influence on the comics work I do today – particularly when it comes to his trademark alliteration and unusual and quirky turns of phrase.  Here are some examples: 

I named this character after him, in IDW’s UNCLE SCROOGE # 11! 

And, as our regular readers know, it was my great honor to “collaborate” with Vic Lockman, separated by about five decades on this story for IDW’s UNCLE SCROOGE # 29!  More on that HERE

EXTRA BONUS “VICtory Lap”:  We all know that Vic Lockman’s writing got (shall we say) a little “loopy” as we approached the end of the 1960s.  Perhaps that’s even WHY I enjoyed it so much!  Who can say…

 So, presented here, in its 6-page eccentric-entirety, is what I call “The Ultimate Vic Lockman Story” – “The Feast on Planet Fuddo” from Gold Key’s BUGS BUNNY # 117 (Cover Date: May, 1968)!  Penciled by Pete Alvarado, inked and lettered by John Carey, it's got ALL the quirky elements that make Vic Lockman stories of his "later period" the unique experience they are!  Click to enlarge on all illustrations!  

I don’t think ANYONE ELSE BUT Vic Lockman could have come up with THIS! 

...Or THIS, for that matter!  

...Or THIS, and I could go on forever!  

Thank you, Mr. Lockman – for a lifetime of wonderfully unique stories, and for your continued influence on me, as I carry on your legacy!  Yay for you!  ...And thanks a jillion!