Time Capsule: Three Dog Night performs "Try a Little Tenderness" on "Beat Club," Aug. 30, 1969

New Music Friday: The Nazz; Frank Zappa; James Carter Organ Trio; Ezra Furman; Poco; Ken Burns' Country Soundtrack

Our picks this week. Click the links to order vinyl, CDs or downloads from Amazon.

Pop Culture Roundup: Bronze-Age nostalgia; Ray Harryhausen; Marvel advent calendar

ITEM! I love it that DC and Marvel are producing some real comic books - the regular-sized, floppy kind - for my age bracket. Out this week is another facsimile edition of a classic DC issue, House of Mystery #92 and next week Marvel has The Amazing Spider-Man: Going Big, a standalone comic featuring three new stories by veteran scripter Gerry Conway.

Most of my comics buying these days is confined to collected editions. But things like this will get me down to the local comics shop on a regular basis, which is great!

ITEM! A tribute to the original special effects whiz, Ray Harryhausen.

ITEM! Funko Toys is releasing a Marvel Comics 80th Anniversary advent calendar.

Time Capsule: Vintage ad - Bob Dylan at the Isle of Wight Festival, 1969

Fifty years ago today.

Review - "American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944"

The Sixties were nothing to sneeze at, but when it comes to American comic books, the Forties were the biggest decade of all.

Comics were new pop culture sensation of the day - selling millions of copies at the newsstand and spawning multimedia tie-ins: radio shows, comic strips, movie serials and decoder rings. Hell, who needs streaming video and the Internet? Decoder rings!

After Superman and Batman socked open the floodgates in 1939, America's corner shops and grocery stores were inundated with a flood of colorfully clad heroes with seemingly more and more of them always on the way.

From DC (then known as National, which also soon swallowed up All-American Publications), you had not just the World's Finest duo, but also Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, the Atom, the Spectre and more.

From Marvel (then doing business as Timely Comics) you had Captain America along with fire/water sparring partners the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.

And over at Fawcett, you had the biggest-selling hero of all: Captain Marvel.

Plus, from all over the place, you had a whole range of other heroes - some great, some terrible: Blue Bolt, the Shield, the Fox, the Green Llama (for real!), etc., etc., etc.

And that's not mention other genres (yes, there were once other genres): Westerns, jungle adventure, sci-fi, funny animals and teen humor (a kid named Archie made his debut in 1941). All in color for dime.

So it's no wonder TwoMorrows is covering this storied decade over two - not just one - volumes in its excellent "American Comic Book Chronicles" series.

This first installment, penned by Kurt F. Mitchell in consultation with the famed Roy Thomas (who knows a thing or two about comics of the Forties. Don't get him started on the Justice Society), is excellent.

Mitchell's writing is clear and engaging and his scholarship robust. He does a great job of setting the stage, detailing where America was as the decade began - just recovering from the depression with a war on the way. Comic books, along with the aforementioned movies, serials, radio shows and more,  provided a lively distraction from it all. The book chronicles the gamut, from great comics and innovative creators to the crap and the hacks.

The decade saw the debut of masterful visual storytellers who became giants in the field: Jack Kirby, Will Eisner (yes, we're counting his Spirit strip as a comic book), Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Mort Meskin, Mac Raboy, C.C. Beck, H.G. Peter and Carl Barks. But the book also makes mention of oddball creators of the day such as Basil Wolverton and the bizarre Fletcher Hanks, who'd like be classified an "outsider artist" if he were around today.

Examples of these and other creators is found throughout the book, which reproduces hundreds of comics covers and art pages - it's a joy to browse.

The emerging war, and America's involvement in it, is a constant, unavoidable part of the narrative throughout the book. By 1941 and 1942, domestic gangsters start to get sidelined as villains; our heroes are now too busy fighting the Axis threat. Jack Kirby's unforgettable over to Captain America #1 depicts the star-spangled warrior punching Hitler right in the face. Violent, yes, but such comics and images emboldened young Americans and fired them up to defend what's right.

Unfortunately, the war also sidelined many top creators for a number of years. Kirby was drafted and ended up fighting real Nazis in Europe, nearly freezing off his feet in the process. Eisner also served in the military, using comics in a new way to teach soldiers how to maintain equipment. A young writer/editor at Timely named Stan Lee was drafted, too, working in the Army's film training division. Part two will presumably cover the return of those creators and others following the war and their continued creative development, which saw the rise of the romance, crime and monster comics that ruled the Fifties (an era already covered in TwoMorrows' series).

This is a vital chunk of comics history, extremely well-captured. You can order it here.

New trailer for Amazon Original "The Aeronauts"

In 1862, daredevil balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) teams up with pioneering meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) to advance human knowledge of the weather and fly higher than anyone in history. While breaking records and advancing scientific discovery, their voyage to the very edge of existence helps the unlikely pair find their place in the world they have left far below them. But they face physical and emotional challenges in the thin air, as the ascent becomes a fight for survival.
In theaters December 6th and available on Prime Video December 20th

New Comics Day: House of Secrets; Orion; Tales of the Batman

Our picks this week:

House of Secrets #92 Facsimile Edition
(W) Len Wein, Jack Kirby, Mark Evanier, Virgil North, Gerry Conway (A) Bill Draut, Alan Weiss, Tony DeZuniga, Dick Dillin (A/CA) Bernie Wrightson
DC's original Swamp Thing made his unforgettable first appearance in this 1971 mystery comic, now reprinted in this new facsimile edition! Now's your chance to experience writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson's first take on DC's most popular monster, along with several other scary tales.

His name is Orion, and this is the story of his greatest adventure! Ranging from the streets of America to the furthest reaches of time and space, this epic saga will uncover long-hidden secrets from Orion's past--and provoke the ultimate reckoning for his future! Only one talent could possibly summon the vision and fortitude necessary to recount such a mighty tale as this--the supremely gifted writer and artist Walter Simonson! 
Orion by Walter Simonson Book One collects issues #12-25 of the legendary storyteller's acclaimed Orion series, and also includes a treasure trove of Simonson's Fourth World-related short stories, covers and sketches.

Illustrated by artists including Gene Colan, Don Newton, Klaus Janson and José Luis García-López and featuring guest appearances by Superman, Man-Bat, and the whole Bat-Family, these classic tales showcase one of the greatest talents ever to write for the Caped Crusader!
Collects Batman #349-359 and Detective Comics #515-526.

Thunderbirds Day 2019 announcement

Get your marianation on with a "Thunderbirds" marathon Sept. 30 on the Century 21 YouTube channel.

New Music Friday: Elvis; The Rubinoos

Our picks this week. Click the links to order vinyl, CDs or downloads from Amazon.

CD set coming Sept. 13

Pop Culture Roundup: Spidey rights fight; Ditko; fascimile comics; Abbey Road

ITEM! Stan Lee's daughter, Joan Celia (JC), is siding with Sony in the current dust-up between that huge congomerate and another huge conglomerate, Marvel/Disney, over the movie rights to the character.

Here's what JC has to say:
“When my father died, no one from Marvel or Disney reached out to me. From day one, they have commoditized my father’s work and never shown him or his legacy any respect or decency," Lee fumed and that's when she dropped quite the bombshell.

"In the end, no one could have treated my father worse than Marvel and Disney's executives."
That's unfortunate.

Personally, I hope Marvel perseveres. Spidey only truly came alive on the big screen once he had the opportunity to interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe. And you'll never find a better Peter Parker/Spidey than actor Tom Holland. Seems to me like it's the fans who have the most to lose in this fight.

ITEM! Speaking of Spidey, a new play looks at the life of his co-creator Steve Ditko.
"Ditko" tells the story of Steve Ditko, a comic book illustrator virtually forgotten by the masses, but celebrated by comic book fans everywhere. Ditko [was] instrumental in Marvel’s success by co-creating two of comics most iconic characters, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange and several of DC’s Silver Age icons: Hawk and Dove, Shade the Changing Man, and the Creeper. Ditko also worked for virtually every other publisher of note including Warren, Charlton, Pacific, and Eclipse, co-creating other iconic characters like Mr. A, the Question and Blue Beetle.

ITEM! Following Marvel's lead, DC Comics is now getting into the game of publishing fascimile versions of class comics. These news comics look just like the old ones, but on better paper (and with a higher price tag). I'm hoping to get this one, which is in comic book shops this week. Thanks, Kid, for the heads up.

ITEM! I do all my Beatles blogging at the Glass Onion Beatles Journal now, and haven't plugged that site in a while. But it's worth highlighting - in case you missed it - that a 50th anniversary box set of Abbey Road is out Sept. 27. You can get all the details here, and I hope you'll continue to check out the site for your daily fix of Beatles news and nostalgia. I'm also a contributing editor at Beatlefan magazine, BTW, which is also well worth checking out.

Coming Up: Marvel Masters of Suspense: Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 2

Available for pre-order from Amazon now.

Details from Marvel Comics:
Concluding Marvel's once-in-a-lifetime Omnibus collection of every astonishing tale of suspense by the inimitable duo of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko! Their collaborations birthed the Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, and in these pages you'll find the concepts, the themes and the very creative origins of those iconic super heroes. They're packed inside tight five-page thrillers, stories covering everything from aliens with outsized agendas to down-on-their-luck gutter bums. Stories that sought to raise the bar for comic book storytelling. Stories that plumb the human condition, expand the language of comics - and shock your pants off . Extensively researched and painstakingly restored, this, True Believer, is the collection you've dreamed of - and a testament to two of Marvel Comics' greatest creators.

COLLECTING: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (1952) 74-96, STRANGE TALES (1951) 92-109, 112-113, TALES TO ASTONISH (1959) 27-48, TALES OF SUSPENSE (1959) 25-44, 46, AMAZING ADULT FANTASY (1961) 7-14, AMAZING FANTASY (1962) 15

Time Capsule: Vintage ad(s) - Billy Preston "That's the Way God Planned It"

Single released on the Beatles' Apple label on this day in 1969.

The tune features George Harrison and Eric Clapton on guitars, Keith Richards on bass, Ginger Baker on drums, with Doris Troy and Madeline Bell on backing vocals. I guess all the good studio musicians were booked on that day.

Time Capsule: Soft Machine performs "Moon in June, " Aug. 22, 1969

Coming Up: Aquaman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1

Available for pre-order now from Amazon.

Details from DC Comics:
The 1950s and early 1960s adventures of Aquaman are collected for the very first time.

Like many DC heroes, Aquaman had a resurgence in the late 1950s with the introduction of new allies and new story elements. Now these tales from the dawn of the Silver Age of comics are collected for the very first time. In these undersea adventures, Aquaman meets an invading force of alien amphibians, discovers an island that is in fact a spaceship, attends the Underwater Olympics, helps a sea captain overcome an ancient curse and much more.

Collects SHOWCASE #30-33, AQUAMAN #1-18, BRAVE AND THE BOLD #51, and the Aquaman adventures from ADVENTURE COMICS #260-280, #282 and #284, DETECTIVE COMICS #293-300, WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #125-133, #135, #137 and #139, SUPERMAN #138 and #148, ACTION COMICS #272, SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #55, SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE #12, 29-31.

Watch: "Shazam!" deleted scene

New Comics Day: Fantastic Four; X-Men; Eerie Archives; Corto Maltese

Our picks this week. Click the links to order from Amazon.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby unveil yet another unmatched Marvel milestone: the first appearance of the world's fi rst African super hero, the Black Panther and his kingdom of Wakanda! And that's just the start! The Thing goes toe-to-toe with the Silver Surfer, the Human Torch faces his 1940s namesake, and the FF must face Doctor Doom - when he's armed with the Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic! Next, it's another instant classic with the first appearances of Blastaar, the alien Kree and Ronan the Accuser, Sentry 456, and that spaghetti-headed wonder, the Supreme Intelligence. If that wasn't enough, the utopian scientists of the Enclave unleash a golden being known as "Him" (A.K.A. Adam Warlock) upon the Marvel Universe.

The series that has critics and fans raving returns for its final installment! The ruination of the X-Men revisited! Re-live the now-classic storylines like Mutant Massacre and The Fall of the Mutants. With appearances by Longshot, Cable, and The Marauders! Out with old and in with the Blue and Gold as the X-Men enter the radical 90s! Revisit innumerous classic storylines like the return of Jean Grey! The trial of Magneto! X-Tinction Agenda! And many, many more! With appearances by Jubilee, Gambit, and The Reavers! Brought to life by the multi-hyphenate master of graphic fiction himself, Ed Piskor!

Collects Eerie magazines #132 to #139.

The protagonist of this tale, actually, is not the 18-year-old Corto, but Rasputin, a deserter from a Siberian rifle regiment, and the writer Jack London, who was a war correspondent in the region at that time. London is already friends with Corto and introduces the sailor to the unpredictable Russian, who even as a young man kills with disconcerting ease and is ready to lie and betray without hesitation. It is, however, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" that continues throughout the series. As a bonus, the book includes additional material that sets up the entire series, as well as several never-before published pages that Pratt intended for a continuation of the tale, in which Corto and Rasputin were to embark on a search for King Solomon's mines.

Coming Up: World's Finest: The Guardians of Earth

Available for pre-order now from Amazon.

Info from DC Comics:
Superman teams up with his fellow members of the Justice League to protect the Earth in these never-before-reprinted stories from the start of the 1970s.

In these tales from the start of the 1970s, Superman teams up with his fellow Justice League team members to protect the Earth. Included in this collection are stories in which the Man of Steel meets the Flash, in a well remembered race around the globe, as well as Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, the Atom and Wonder Woman, in her white jumpsuit/secret agent phase. Collects WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #195-214.