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CSBG Archive

Cross-Hatchings for Friday, September 10th

Bits and pieces. This and that. You know the drill by now.


Last Days of Summer: My school year doesn’t start for a couple more weeks, technically, because the after-school program doesn’t actually kick in until regular school’s been in session for a little while.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. What it means is that I’ve been knee-deep in Annoying Budget Crap for the better part of a week. It’s my least favorite part of the year. I keep thinking of the old Chevy Chase-as-Gerald Ford joke from Saturday Night Live — “Uh, they promised me that there would be no math.” I hate math. You’d think a career in the arts would be a sure-fire place to avoid math. Well, guess again. Between my various freelance contracts and doing these goddamn school budgets I probably deal with more math in a week than your average middle-management loan officer.

On the plus side– yeah, a math expression, see what I did there?– one of our budget items this year is printing the Cartooning Alumni Fundraiser Book. (That’s not going to be the actual title, but that’s what I have to call it in my budget.) Pages continue to come in from my grads and they continue to delight me.

Here’s one of Brianna’s:

It's like looking at the manga version od my own life, honestly. The lyrics may change, but the music is always the same.

It's like looking at the manga version of my own life, honestly. The lyrics may change, but the music is always the same.

And one of Rachel’s:

Even in her younger days Rachel was always commercially-minded. She was one of my first to turn pro, she's been doing a caricature booth at local art fairs for a few years now.

More details as I have them, but I can tell you that we WILL have them for sale at Emerald City Comic-Con in 2011…. and probably available through some kind of mail-order thing as well, though I’m not sure yet how that will work.

Mostly, though, I just wanted you to see the samples because the kids are so awesome.


Around the Internet: I’m always impressed with people who do things well and I’ve told people for years that of all the celebrity types we’ve met at conventions, Erin Gray from Buck Rogers was absolutely the most professional. So I’m not at all surprised that she’s actually taken it to the next level. This was a very cool write-up about Ms. Gray and her savvy marketing of her own minor “nerdlebrity” into a lucrative business.

She really does still look that good.

I saw Ms. Gray in San Diego a few years ago, and I can tell you two things. First of all, she really does look that good and it’s not from Having A Little Work Done, she was all about the healthy lifestyle and protein smoothies and yoga and so on — in fact, she mentioned that she was teaching yoga when she wasn’t doing shows.

Secondly, it was amazing just to watch her work — and she was working that booth that day. Every fan came away feeling appreciated, and not at all rushed, she was not brusque in any way…. and yet somehow she moved all of us through that line with lightning speed. It was an extraordinary display. When it was my turn she posed for a picture with me, chatted about what she was doing these days, inquired after my profession and wished me the best of luck with my Sunday Kid’s Day drawing class; at no point was I made to feel like I was being hustled through the line — and yet the whole exchange took about thirty seconds. It impressed me so much that I hung around to watch her greet the next few folks in line and see if I could figure out how she managed it. I still don’t know her secret, but it was the same virtuoso display of brisk niceness that didn’t feel rushed (but somehow still was incredibly fast) with everyone, and none of us felt slighted. I was awed by her sheer skill in handling all of us.

So, like I said, not surprising to hear it’s now her business. Good on her. We wish her well.

Stuff on the TeeVee: I watched the CW’s new Nikita last night. Back when the original with Peta Wilson was on the air, I did not have cable television and thus never saw it, so I didn’t have much of a basis of comparison.

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I'm told the new Maggie Q NIKITA isn't a patch on the old Peta Wilson one.

My bride did, though, and she said that we would be better off to seek out the DVDs of the Peta Wilson show. In fact, she got bored and went to play a game on the computer, which tells me there was a great deal of deja vu involved if you’d seen the original.

Since I had not, I was interested enough in this new one to stay to the end, but I still doubt that it’s going to be appointment television for us. In a world that has already given us the original Nikita as well as Alias, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, et al, I’m afraid this latest entry probably isn’t going to last long. Nikita feels pretty generic to me — I kept thinking of other shows that had done the same riffs that were more fun to watch.

Speaking of television remakes, I admit to being mildly curious about the new Hawaii Five-O that will be debuting on CBS in a week or two. Although the original was so hysterically awesome in its sheer unadulterated fascism that I think the new one will have a problem simply because any new version will be done with an eye towards depicting real people in a genuine drama. That never happened on the original show and that was what made it so much fun.

I can't think of any living actor who could deliver the insanely bad dialogue of the original Five-O with the gravitas of Jack Lord.

I was home sick the other day and Spike TV was running a marathon of the Jack Lord version, and I have to tell you, even I had forgotten how deranged the original show could be. Especially when Jack Lord is doing one of his patented McGarrett Moments of Righteous Rage. “There’s a man on this rock with bubonic plague and he’s a Red Chinese agent. Now TALK!” is the kind of magnificently bad dialogue I predict will NOT be on the new version this fall. Pity, really.

I could go on, but I don’t have to because Mark Evanier did a wonderful job here of explicating the essential components of every episode of Jack Lord’s Hawaii Five-O. After watching the Spike TV marathon the other day, I assure you that, if anything, Mr. Evanier is understating the case.

I got to wondering if the original Hawaii Five-O was ever a comic, and it was, believe it or not.

No idea who did this, but they sure nailed the authentic vibe of the series, despite the lack of Danno booking anyone.

But not in the United States. It was a strip in Britain’s TV Action magazine for a little while. No idea who worked on it, but from the few sample pages I could find online it appeared that they’d pretty much nailed the vaguely fascist vibe of the series. I suppose it only makes sense, considering that Steve McGarett’s philosophy of law enforcement is a sort of spiritual ancestor to Judge Dredd’s.


Stripped: My big comics purchase this week was the Conan: The Newspaper Strips, volume one.

It's a nicely-designed package, but the production department was having an off day.

I really like it, and I especially love that this short-lived and not-very-successful strip rates a collection at all… but I have one minor caveat.

If you’re going to collect comic strips in a nice hardcover like this one, and reproduce them at a larger size so that — one presumes — we can fully appreciate the art, then for God’s sake, get some decent originals to shoot from. The color Sunday installments don’t look too bad, but the dailies look like they were printed from second or third-generation stats. A lot of the finer lines and detailing just dropped out entirely, and at the larger size it’s really painfully obvious. I understand that the production people had to work with what they could find, and that the chances are that the original art is long gone, but even so, I know high school kids who could have done a better job scanning the things from the actual newspapers than what we see here.

Moreover, it’s a bare-bones collection, a title page with dates and credits and then the comic strips, period, the end. A word of introduction would have been nice, and it’s certainly not as though Roy Thomas has been averse to writing intros to Dark Horse’s Conan collections in the past.

But hey, as long as publishers are collecting short-lived strips that would interest fans, I’d also like to see the Steve Gerber Howard the Duck newspaper strips he did with Gene Colan and Val Mayerik.

Unfortunately, the most I've ever seen of this is the occasional sample, and I've always been curious.

You know what else would be cool to see collected in a book? The Max Allan Collins/Marshall Rogers 1989 Batman newspaper strip that launched in the wake of the first Michael Keaton movie.

This one I DID see -- our local paper carried it -- and it was pretty damn cool.

Hell, they could even throw in the follow-up strips from William Messner-Loebs and Carmine Infantino.

Infantino was pretty clearly phoning it in, but Loebs did some very cool stories.

How about it, Marvel and DC? Are you really going to let Dark Horse, IDW and Fantagraphics hog all that strip reprint action? I’d love to see some of this stuff again. Hell, I’d even forgive you using shitty original stats, just to see it back in print.


That’s all the bits and pieces I’ve got, this time out. See you next week.


Woo hoo. Nice collection of bits. Your cartooning alumni do good stuff.

You’ve got some babe-age with Erin Grey and Las Femmes Nikitas (would that be the plural in French?)

Jack Lord’s wacky hair.

And some cool comic strip stuff.

My guess as to why no one has any decent sources to scan from for comic strips (other than the syndicates not caring about the original art) is that there aren’t ACTUAL newspapers to scan from. From what I understand, in about the 60s or 70s libraries and other archives started switching over to microfilm, and to do that required the destruction of those papers.

Nicholson Baker had a book about that kind of thing, and now I can’t remember the title of it. But he has (or had, dunno if it’s still around) a newspaper archive in New Hampshire, iirc. The idea of old old newspapers, so you can see how earlier generations got to see comics like Little Nemo, Krazy Kat, early Annie and Dick Tracy and so on, it gives you chills.

I’ll admit this now, I had the biggest crush on Erin Gray… While others talked about “Daisy Duke” and her white jeep, I was all abut a gal starfighter pilot and her lasers! Cool “Where is she now?” segment Greg…

I think we missed out on not having a Howard The Duck strip… Imagine that in a newspaper with Boondocks, Bloom County, Pearls Without Swine, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Get Fuzzy…? Talk about anarchy!

I am all about giving Maggie Q a chance in the role… but Peta left big shoes to fill….

Finally, I thought Batman was still a newspaper strip somewhere?

Finally, I thought Batman was still a newspaper strip somewhere?

It may well be, but if it is, I’m not aware of it. And I try to keep up with Bat-news.

Max Allan Collins and Marshall Rogers? On a Batman newspaper strip? I never knew…

I was intrigued enough by the little promo going around to check out at least the pilot of the new Hawaii 5-O (James Marsters is the bad guy!), but it’s on the same time as Castle, and my loyalties lie with The Fillion.

Neat article on Erin Gray. I saw her at a Chiller Con here in New Jersey a few years back. My friend Su saw her and said affectionately, “Aww, she looks like a mom!” I replied, “Yeah, a really really HOT mom!” I love that my three big childhood crushes (Lynda Carter, Cheryl Ladd & Erin Gray) all still look so great.

And a HELL YES on reprinting the Max Allan Collins / Marshall Rogers Batman strip. I got a couple issues of Comics Revue reprinting the strips, and it’s good stuff. It’s be great to have them all in one collection.

Nice selection of topics – enjoyable and informative. I’ll add my own praise for the work by your alumni.
I never even knew there was a Howard the Duck newspaper strip by Gerber until relatively recently – I very much agree that it needs to be collected and reprinted. I’m astounded that it hasn’t been already. Does anyone know how long it ran? I’m asking because I think Marvel could have even included it that Howard Essentials volume. By the same token: HELL, HELL YES on reprinting the Batman strip.
As for the Hawaii 5-O remake, like you, I’m also dubious about the whole idea. Given the nature of the original show (thanks for the link to the Evanier piece, by the way, I literally LOL-ed a few times while reading it), I think a better idea would be a satire, either as a TV series or a movie, because that’s probably the only way they can pay tribute to madness of the original. You know, like actually having McGarett seal off the island every episode…

I saw the Howard strip mentioned on a Bullpen page once, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. How long did it last? I never even heard of a Conan strip. Is that John Buscema art?

your students have talent. as for dc and marvel printing some of those newspaper stripes. think that batman one fits into the stuff dc does not reprint due to the royalties would cost so much that reprinting would make the project un affordable. Marvel given How their parent company hates Howard the duck. sadly that news paper strip will never see print ever again.

I saw the Howard strip mentioned on a Bullpen page once, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. How long did it last?

Had to look it up myself. Here it is, from newspaper strip historian Allan Holtz:

The newspaper strip version of
Howard the Duck began on June 6, 1977 at the height of Howard-mania. At first Steve Gerber and Gene Colan, the creative team on the comic book, handled the strip as well. Colan, however, dropped out after just five months, and his job was taken over by Val Mayerik, who was also occasionally spelling Colan on the comic book.

In 1978 Steve Gerber abruptly left both the comic book and comic strip due to creative control issues with Marvel Comics. Gerber was last credited on the strip in April, and Marv Wolfman took over the writing duties. Shortly before, Mayerik bailed out and was replaced by Alan Kupperberg on art. The strip finally ended in October of 1978.

I never even heard of a Conan strip. Is that John Buscema art?

Yes it is. John Buscema did the first arc, about five or six weeks’ worth, and then Ernie Chan took it over.

I would love a Howard the Duck collection. Most of the strips have been scanned and can be found on the web, but I would like a hardback to go with my omnibus.

It’s always nice to hear about your student’s projects, Greg. Brianna’s made me smile and Rachel’s made me LAUGH. Good look with the fundraiser!

I started watching cop shows regularly a little too late to catch Hawaii 5-O, though I did watch its “sequel” Magnum PI which was completely different in tone. Wasn’t there a crossover between the two once however?

The 70’s had a great collection of good-looking women on TV, and Erin Gray was certainly one of them. I’m SO glad to hear that she’s a nice person in well, person :p and that she still looks so good! ;)

Hey Look! It’s Psylocke! But why are they calling her “Nikita?” ;)

Never heard of the Howard strip. Was it before or after the movie?

And there’s something REALLY wrong in that Batman strip. He stops chasing CATWOMAN to help- hurt drug-user nobodies!? But, but, that’s… HEROIC! Noble!! Isn’t he supposed to be an angsty a*hole? ;)

Even in bits and pieces, your column is always a nice read. Thanks.

I started watching cop shows regularly a little too late to catch Hawaii 5-O, though I did watch its “sequel” Magnum PI which was completely different in tone. Wasn’t there a crossover between the two once however?

No, though a lot of the Five-O actors later appeared on the show. Magnum did, however, cross over with Murder She Wrote as well as Simon & Simon. I’m sort of embarrassed that I knew that, instantly, despite not being a big fan of any of those shows.

The late 1970;s had
• The Howard The Duck strip (my paper carried it, great stuff! Wish they’d collect it)
• Conan The Barbarian (my paper carried this too. I’d love to get a collection of this too, but after reading your review…. no thanks)
• The Incredible Hulk strip (my paper carried this. I remember not liking it too much, I think it followed the TV show version)
• The Amazing Spider-Man strip (yep, my paper carried this and yes, I know it’s still running, but the first few years are the only good strips, IMO)

Also, about Hawaii Five-O, which I watched as a kid, had an episode where a serial killer was killing people because they looked like characters in a local comic strip that were terrorizing the strip’s heroine . So, McGarrett got the strip’s cartoonist to draw Dano into the strip so they could catch the killer.

I watched the CW’s new Nikita last night. Back when the original with Peta Wilson was on the air, I did not have cable television and thus never saw it, so I didn’t have much of a basis of comparison.

Peta Wilson’s version was not the original. In fact, it was the THIRD Nikita.

The original was the 1990 french film La Femme Nikita, the second was the 1993 American remake Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda, and then came the 1997 Peta Wilson series. The Maggie Q version is actually the fourth version.

Also, the original French Nikita was written and directed by Luc Besson, the same guy who did Natalie Portman’s breakthrough moie Leon/The Professional and 5th Element.

I suppose I should have clarified I meant the Nikita series. I had seen both of the movies.

C’mon Greg, don’t be embarassed for knowing trivia about tv shows you didn’t even like. I can’t believe the amount of trivial crap I know about too many shows from the 70s and 80s – many of which I never even watched regularly. And I’ll freely admit: I so loved Hawaii 5-O, and Steve McGarett was my hero, from about the 1st to 4th grade, and I there was period of a few years when I watched Magnum and Simon & Simon almost religiously…

Hey, hey. Magnum PI is awesome. And the Higgins/Jessica Fletcher team is the greatest duo of our time.

Does anyone else think Nikita looks like Psylocke in that picture?

Technically, the tv show was the 4th version of Nikita. There was a movie in Hong Kong, known as Black Cat (in English), which was an unofficial adaptation (rip-off) of Nikita. It uses the basic premise; but not a lot else. I really didn’t watch the Peta Wilson version, as it always seemed like it was heavily sedated. The promos and such for the remake looked like a porn actress in a fetish film. The original had style, wit and charm. You can’t top Anne Parillaud, Tchecky Karyo, Jean-Hughes Anglade and Jean Reno!

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