New Music Friday: Guided By Voices; Petra Haden; Bill Evans, more

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Pop Culture Roundup: Charles AtlasJack Kirby; Dick Tracy; Jonny Quest

See a selection of Charles Atlas parody ads.


A new Canadian theatrical production, "King Kirby," tells the tale of Marvel Comics genius Jack Kirby. There's a review here.
The scene in which Lee robs Kirby of his credit, royalties and dignity is powerful because we see the result of the shift in status these two men went through in their relationship as Klein melts into himself and LeReaney puffs up.
As Roz Goldstein, the woman who became Jack’s wife, Cheryl Hutton is one feisty broad as well she needs to be to keep bolstering Jack’s resolve and shielding him from all those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.


The crazy goodness of Dick Tracy.


Listen to a vintage Jonny Quest kids LP.

Surviving Monkees get heavyweight help on new LP - out May 27

Good Times, a new LP by suviving members of the Monkees Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith is out May 27. You can pre-order it from Amazon here.

Here's the skinny:

The Monkees can now reveal the full track list for their highly anticipated new album GOOD TIMES!, their first new album in 20 years, tied to the group's 50th anniversary and extensive North American tour.

All three surviving band members (Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork) have written new songs for the album as well as providing vocals and music performances.

The unmistakable voice of the late Davy Jones is also included with a vintage vocal on the Neil Diamond-penned "Love To Love." To produce the new album, the band found the perfect musical co-conspirator in Grammy® and Emmy®-winning songwriter Adam Schlesinger (Fountains Of Wayne, Ivy).

Much like The Monkees' early albums, GOOD TIMES! features tracks written specifically for the band by some of the music world's most gifted songwriters, including Rivers Cuomo of Weezer ("She Makes Me Laugh"), Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie ("Me & Magdalena"), Andy Partridge of XTC ("You Bring The Summer"), as well as a song co-written by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller ("Birth Of An Accidental Hipster").

GOOD TIMES! finds all three band members taking turns on lead vocals, playing a wide range of instruments, and sharing new compositions, including Nesmith's "I Know What I Know" and Tork's "Little Girl." In addition to producing the album, Schlesinger also penned "Our Own World" and co-wrote the album's finale with Dolenz, aptly titled "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had A Good Time)."

To help bring the 50th anniversary full circle, The Monkees completed songs for GOOD TIMES! that were originally written and recorded for the group during the 60s. Harry Nilsson wrote the title track "Good Times," which he recorded at a session with Nesmith in January 1968. The production was never completed, so the band returned to the original session tape (featuring Nilsson's guide vocal) and have created a duet with his close friend Dolenz. "Good Times" will mark the first time Dolenz and Nilsson have sung together since Dolenz' May 1973 single "Daybreak." GOOD TIMES! also includes the Neil Diamond-penned "Love To Love," the Carole King and Gerry Goffin collaboration "I Wasn't Born To Follow," "Whatever's Right," written by legendary songwriting duo Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who were responsible for many of the classic Monkees hits, and "Gotta Give It Time," by Jeff Barry and Joey Levine.
 Track Listing
1. "Good Times" (Harry Nilsson)
2. "You Bring The Summer" (Andy Partridge)
3. "She Makes Me Laugh" (Rivers Cuomo)
4. "Our Own World" (Adam Schlesinger)
5. "Gotta Give It Time" (Jeff Barry/Joey Levine)
6. "Me & Magdalena" (Ben Gibbard)
7. "Whatever's Right" (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
8. "Love To Love" (Neil Diamond)
9. "Little Girl" (Peter Tork)
10. "Birth Of An Accidental Hipster" (Noel Gallagher/Paul Weller)
11. "I Wasn't Born To Follow" (Carole King/Gerry Goffin)
12. "I Know What I Know" (Michael Nesmith)
13. "I Was There (And I'm Told I Had A Good Time)" (Micky Dolenz/Adam Schlesinger)

Pop Artifact: Batman trading card box

Good deal: Upcoming Doctor Strange Omnibus from Marvel for $45

Amazon is currently listing Marvel's Doctor Strange Omnibus, out in October, for $45.46 - nearly $30 off the list price.

The 456 hardcover collects the entire run of Stan Lee-Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comics, and then some.


Pop stuff: The legendary John Peel; Batman v. Superman

What I'm reading, hearing, watching, etc.

Good Night and Good Riddance: How Thirty-Five Years of John Peel Helped to Shape Modern Life. From psychedelia to Sonic Youth, John Peel was always a few steps - and sometimes years - head of his fellow disc jockeys.

In numerous cases, he was the first person in Britain - and, often, the world - to play music by now legendary acts. The list stretches from the mid 1960s, when he was a disc jockey on pirate station Radio London, through his long tenure on the BBC's Radio 1, and it includes everyone from Elton John, Davie Bowie, T. Rex and the Faces up through the Ramones, the Sex Pistols and his beloved Undertones, to Joy Division, the Smiths, Nirvana and the White Stripes.

And those are just the big names. Peel's wide-open ears and broad tastes also exposed audiences to world music, electronica, jazz, avant garde, comedy and numerous other, often uncategorizable, sounds. If Peel hadn't died in 2004, who knows what he'd be playing us now.

Today in Britain and even the United States, where listeners tuned into his shows on the BBC World Service and are familiar with releases of his "Peel Sessions" featuring live-in-the-studio performances by numerous acts, Peel is seen as an icon.

There's an annual John Peel Lecture in Britain, which has been delivered Pete Townshend, Brian Eno and Iggy Pop, and the BBC's eclectic Radio 6 Music was built on the Peel template, delivering sounds of all sorts 24 hours a day.

Yet, during his long radio career, as this book by David Cavanagh details, Peel was largely taken for granted and often shabbily treated.

The BBC allowed Peel to say and play essentially whatever he wanted for more than 30 years, yet the network confined him to the wee hours of the evening, often cutting back the length of his shows and bouncing him around the schedule to make more time available for safer and more predictable fare.

In numerous cases, daytime jocks got credit for introducing hot new acts that Peel had played on his show, late in the evening, months before.

Yet, he persevered, listening to the thousands of records and cassettes unsigned and otherwise unheard of musicians sent him in the mail and playing those he liked best on the air.

Cavanagh's book isn't a biography, but a tour through Peel's nearly four decades on the air. Rather than conventional chapters, we're presented with chronological entries in which the author details highlights from Peel's shows, including his remarks and some of the music played, and contrasts these with a news story from that particular day.

Through the Irish Troubles, the 1970s energy crisis, the British miner's strike and the Falklands War, we see how Peel's musical choices reflected the temperament of the times.

The book also highlights some of Peel's most legendary exploits on the air. He wasn't a wild, frenetic U.S.-style deejay, but a soft spoken, self-deprecating, often mordant, wit. And full of nerve.

When the BBC banned the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax," Peel played them anyway. And when he got excited about music, he let it show. He once played five Chuck Berry songs in a row and, upon playing the Undertones "Teenage Kicks" on the air for the first time, wept with joy and immediately played it again. The tune's lyrics are on his tombstone.

As Cavanagh makes clear, we'll be scrutinizing Peel's set lists and gaining a better understanding of his huge influence for decades to come.

It all goes to show that, sometimes, its not just the players who make music history, but the fans as well.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has been roundly trashed by critics and crowds alike, but I had to give it a look. After all, World's Finest was one of my favorite comics titles as a kid and I've been a Batfan since nearly birth - I had see who won!

Nobody, it turns out. Unless you count Wonder Woman. I agree with the many viewers who thought Gal Gadot's portrayal of the Amazonian princess was the highlight of the movie. So there's five minutes.

The rest of the film is nearly three hours of humorless, joyless set-up and execution. We need to get these two guys at odds, have them fight for a bit and then team up. But couldn't it have been done with a bit of fun and pizazz?

There's not one laugh in the picture - nothing to diffuse the overwrought, soundtrack-fed tension and let us know this is all for fun. No "you're light, I'm dark banter" that might provide either of the title characters with a little (super) humanity or character. By the time the heroes finally battle, you don't really care who wins, because both are so glum and cardboard it's tough to muster up much emotion over either of them.

Director Zack Snyder and the film's writers take it all so seriously. The intention, it seems, is to make this improbable story as "real world" as possible. But doing so just highlights how ridiculous it all is.

The movie is distractingly full of real people: Charlie Rose, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Anderson Cooper, Nancy Grace - it's like flipping through cable channels. And the film's efforts to amp up it's real worldiness via scenes of terrorism, including blowing up the U.S. Capitol, are outrageous and tasteless.

The perpetrator of all this destruction is Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg), though he might as well be the Joker - he's more unhinged chaos agent than scheming super scientist.

After the whole bombastic, predictable ordeal of watching the film - seriously, the soundtrack nearly pummels you with pounding percussion - I came away thinking about how much Marvel does this stuff than DC.

Marvel's films, while full of high-stakes action, are always winking at the audience. The characters joke, falter and triumph. Unlike this Batman and this Superman, they are identifiable and full of personality. You want to hang out with them - maybe not for three hours, but for two. I wouldn't want to chat with this film's Batman or Superman for two minutes at a cocktail party.

The comparison between Marvel's and DC's films today is much like the one between their comics of the 1960s. Back then, Marvel came along with books that were fun and full of interesting, flawed, "human" characters. And, until they started copying Marvel, DC's heroes were old-fashioned, dull, interchangeable cardboard cutouts. Hasn't DC learned anything in 50 years?

Before they screw up a could-be-great Wonder Woman movie and fully launch a Justice League franchise, DC should take a close look at what Marvel's been doing - and copy like crazy.

June 2016 comics solications - highlights

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Daredevil Epic Collection: The Man Without Fear
Born to a past-his-prime prizefighter, Matt Murdock's luck always ran a step behind his good intentions. When a daring act to save a man's life blinds young Murdock, he finds that the same accident has enhanced his remaining senses to superhuman levels! He becomes Daredevil, a gritty hero born from murder but tempered with the desire to protect the downtrodden. 

Howard the Duck Complete Collection Vol. 3
Discover rare, never-before-collected tales of the duck with delusions of adequacy as Marvel's trawl through the annals of Howard history plunders the magazine era! As rendered by legends like Gene Colan, John Buscema and Michael Golden, Howie has never looked better, while his adventures get wilder than ever. As for the stories, who could resist epics like "Of Dice and Ducks," "Captain Americana" and "Duck Soup"? Howard will reunite with muck monster Man-Thing and meet Santa Claus, and one of horror's greatest icons may leave a lasting impression: prepare for Drakula, the undead duck! It's enough to make a furious fowl head back home to Duckworld - and Beverly comes along for the ride! Plus: In the name of all that's decent, Howard puts on some pants!
COLLECTING: Howard the Duck Magazine 2-7

Black Panther Masterworks Vol. 2
Jack "King" Kirby returns to the character he made history with as Marvel Masterworks presents his complete Black Panther series and its never-before-reprinted conclusion in one massive volume! Kirby's limitless imagination unfurls before you as T'Challa unlocks the secret of King Solomon's frog, encounters alien races, battles eternal samurai warriors and much, much more. The history of the Wakandans, their majestic city, their amazing technology and the origins of Vibranium are all explored with a power and passion that only Kirby can offer. 

Batman: Brave and the Bold Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1
Throughout the 1970s, Batman fought evil month side by side with DC Comics' greatest - and, occasionally, strangest - super-heroes. Guest-starring Wonder Woman, the Phantom Stranger, Adam Stranger, Black Canary, the Teen Titans, the Flash, Metamorpho, the Metal Men, Green Arrow, the Atom, Aquaman and many others, this title features gritty artwork by Jim Aparo and fun, fast-paced stories written by Bob Haney and are collected in a single, massive hardcover for the first time.
Collects THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #87-122.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan: The Complete Joe Kubert Years Omnibus
Writing, drawing, and editing the monthly Tarzan comic-book series in the 1970s, Joe Kubert was able to illustrate the adventures of his childhood hero and produce some of the most inspiring pages of his career. This beautiful archival collection-featuring several Tarzan essays and original page layouts by Kubert, along with collaborations with Russ Heath and Frank Thorne-is a must-have for fans of timeless adventure tales and Kubert's undeniable intensity and skill.

Complete Elfquest Vol. 3
The legacy of Wendy and Richard Pini's ElfQuest continues! Experience the dreams of the Wolfriders during their deep sleep as they await the passage of ten thousand years to reunite the tribes--and enjoy the lavishly colored stories of the tribe's history.

Creepy Archives Vol. 24
Uncle Creepy--your favorite cackling comrade--has put together an impressive assembly of creators for Creepy Archives Volume 24! Stories by Archie Goodwin, Bruce Jones, Larry Hama, John Severin, Alex Toth, Al Williamson, Walter Simonson, and many others are collected in this horrifying hardcover, featuring issues #112 to #116 of Warren Publishing's groundbreaking and experimental horror title. This tome is overflowing with classic collaborations, timeless terror tales, bizarre creatures, and strange settings!

The Dark Horse Comics/DC: Superman
"This volume collects issues #1-#3 of Superman vs. Aliens, originally published in 1995; issues #1-#4 of Superman vs. Aliens II: God War, originally published in 2002; issues #1-#3 of The Superman/Madman Hullabaloo, originally published in 1997; and issues #1-#3 of Superman/Tarzan: Sons of the Jungle, originally published in 2001 and 2002; all from Dark Horse Comics."

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Ultimate Newspaper Comics Collection Volume 3 (1981-1982)
New artists offer a new look, but the wall-crawling adventure is as exciting as ever! Doctor Octopus and Aunt May a couple? Not if Peter Parker can help it! Mary Jane’s stage debut may be spoiled by the mystery man known as―The Assassin! As the campaign for president heats up, millionaire Thurston Thruwell shows us where creatures roam, while Spidey invades Latveria just in time for Dr. Doom and his captured spaceship to show the world where monsters dwell! And that’s just to start! Edited by Bruce Canwell, this book includes more than 700 sequential comics―the complete run from January 1981 through December 1982!

Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Daily Newspaper Comics Volume 3
From the Disney Vaults! The early Donald Duck daily strips are collected for the first time ever! This third volume includes 750 sequential daily comic strips from 1943 to 1945 drawn by Al Taliaferro and reproduced from pristine original material in the Disney Vaults!

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 9: "Rise Of The Rhyming Man" (Vol. 9)
Mickey and Eega team up to save Mouseton from the Rhyming Man... a poetic master spy with an arsenal of chemical weapons! Black and white illustrations with some color.

The Living Mummy And Other Stories
When Jack Davis took up his pen for EC Comics, he made his innocent victims more eye-poppingly terrified, his ax-murderers more gleefully gruesome, and his vampires and werewolves more bloodthirsty and feral than any other artist. These horror and suspense tales ― from the pages of Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, and Shock SuspenStories ― offer everything a horror fan could ask for: re-animated bodies and body parts, a ghoul who stores bodies like a squirrel stores nuts, a vampire who moonlights at (where else?) a blood bank, greedy business partners, corrupt politicians, jealous lovers, revenge from beyond the grave, and a healthy complement of vampires, werewolves, and assorted grotesqueries. All leavened with the cackling, pun-laced humor of scripter Al Feldstein and illuminated as only the virtuoso brushwork of Jack Davis can present them. Black & white Illustrations throughout.

Wally Wood Jungle Adventures - Animan
Before Marvel's Wolverine, before DC Comics' Animal Man, Hall of Fame comics creator Wallace (Wally) Wood created Animan! After years of evolution, shortly after leaving Marvel's Daredevil (where he added significantly to that character's creative development), to launch his creation, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents; Wood unveiled his Animan masterpiece in early issues of his ground-breaking self-published magazine, Witzend. Vanguard continues their Wood Classics series, following Wally Wood Strange World, Wally Wood Eerie Crime & Horror and Wally Wood Torrid Romance, with nearly 200 pages of Wood jungle comics spanning from the Golden Age through the 1960s including Animan, Jim King, Sabu, and much more. This book is authorized by the Wallace Wood Estate