Thursday, December 18, 2008

Volume Three, Number Twenty-Two

Well here we are folks, the final E-Dispatches from the Great White North for 2008.

As some of you know I send this column off from the Port Stanley Public Library and each year from December 23, 2008 to January 2, 2009 the library is closed. In some ways that's great for me as it gives me a chance to hide out at my home/office and develop some new projects to work on in 2009 but part of me always misses the daily insanity of hanging out here at the library.

Anyway, with this being the final installment for the year I thought I would take a moment and talk about what my plans are for this column of 2009. I will of course be continuing with the historical overview of the MLJ Magazines/Archie Comic Publications superhero lines and if all goes according to plan I should have it all wrapped up by the end of February at the latest. To be honest I hadn't planned on it running this long but one thing lead to another and, well, here we are.

Once that's all done my next endeavour will be a two to three part historical overview of Blue Moon Comics Group. For those of you who have never heard of Blue Moon Comics Group all I'll tell you right now about it is that it was a small press comics publisher that whose publisher was none other than my best buddy, The Groovy Agent which published comics works by a number of talented people including Dick Ayers, Seppo Makinen, Steve Skeates and Ed Quinby just to name a few. I also did a thing or two for Blue Moon over the years. Some of the series I did that saw print under the Blue Moon slug included Mister Chameleon, Solomon Wyrd and The Aquanauts to name a few. Some series that I developed initially for Blue Moon but ended up being published elsewhere include The Young Immortals, The Hooded Cobra and Captain Sentinel and the Lads of Liberty. Anyway, the full story about Blue Moon Comics Group will be revealed around March of next year so watch for that one.

While your at it be sure to keep your eyes on as beginning in January 2009 I will be doing E-Dispatches that are exclusive to that site. This column will continue to appear of course at , in the electronic version of The People's Comic Book Newsletter and at the Fun_Features yahoo group (where you can also by the way find every installment of the newspaper column I used to write called "Did you know about...?") but from time to time I'll be doing a piece which will appear only at the blog. I haven't as yet come up with a title-and am currently using the E-Dispatches Xtra working title-so if anyone out there has a title suggestion I'd love to hear it.

As for what I'll be writing about in "E-Dispatches Xtra"; so far I am planning to do some spotlight pieces on some of the MLJ/Archie heroes including The Shield, The Comet and the legendary Pow Girl plus some commentaries on comics and the comics industry, past and present. So be sure to keep your eyes open for the new addition to site in 2009 . The first installment will hopefully be appearing in the third week of January.

So those are pretty much the plans for E-Dispatches in 2009. As for what else I am working on over the Holidays I'll fill everyone in come late January or early February once I've finalized a few plans. In the mean time, while you are waiting for me to come back why not take a look at The Groovy Agent's excellent column about comics of the 1970s. It's titled Diversions of The Groovy Kind and can be found at . Tell him Jazzy Jon sent ya.

That's it folks! Have an enjoyable Holiday Season and I'll "see" everyone in 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Volume Three, Number Twenty-One

Sorry for the delay in getting this installment out folks but over the past couple of weeks I've been somewhat busy undergoing medical tests to see how far along my peripheral neuropathy has progressed. For those of you who aren't familiar with my condition and are interested in finding out more you can visit . Now with that out of the way let's get back to...


In 1964 comic book fandom in North America was still pretty much in its infancy. There were no comics clubs to speak of outside of perhaps some kids getting together informally on occasion to talk about their favourite four colour mags. Comics conventions had only just come into existence with the first one taking place in May of that year. Magazines such as Wizard and Comics Buyer's Guide didn't exist and while there were fanzines-the most notable being Jerry Bails' and Roy Thomas' Alter Ego-their circulation most often number in the low hundreds. And as for the Internet, message boards, yahoo groups, blogs and all the other neat stuff we all take for granted these days that kind of thing wasn't even appearing in the most wildest of science fiction tales. So when comics fans-even that term wasn't being used at that point-wanted to find out what was going on with their favourite comics in 1964 the only way they could do that was to hang out at the mom and pop shops, pharmacies, newsstands, etc. every Tuesday and Thursday after school (there weren't any comics shops either, by the way) to see what comics would pop out when the proprietor would cut the wire that was holding the bundle together (and in a lot of cases the kids weren't even allowed to be in premises when this twice-a-week ritual took place).

This was how fans of The Fly realized that with Adventures of The Fly #30 (cover-date October 1964) the adventures of their favourite winged hero and his faithful sidekick Fly Girl were no more. While some fans-mostly those who paid attention to the publication dates in the indica and saw that Adventures of The Fly had gone semi-annual-suspected that that was the direction the comic was headed it was still none the less a shock to the Fly-fans when after hanging out a few months at their favourite haunts no number 31 appeared on the stands. And as there was no way to complain about their favourite comic vanishing from the scene-outside of writing a letter to an anonymous editor which most fans suspected were never read anyway-Fly-fans would just sign and look for something else to replace it on their "must buy" list.

However, those Fly-fans who also read the Archie Adventure Series' remaining title, The Shadow, soon learned The Fly was not in fact gone forever but was to undergo a monumental-some would say absurd-change. In issue number five of The Shadow (cover-dated March 1965), a house ad appeared announcing the return of The Fly with a new name and new powers. To be called Fly Man, as well as possessing his old powers of flight, super-strength, etc. he-and his partner-were now able to shrink and grow in size ala Marvel's Ant-Man/Giant-Man. And if this wasn't enough to excite long suffering Fly fans, appearing in the last panel of the house ad were three shadowy figures which caused Fly Man to gasp in shock as he exclaimed, "Now that I've met you three, I've a hunch things will never be the same!".

Truer words were never spoken as comics fans would find out two months later with the release of Fly Man #31 May, 1965; a title that would result in a line of comics that you had to see to believe. The Mighty Comics Group.

That's it for the historical overview for this year. In early 2009 it will return and begin to explore the wonderful, mind-boggling world of The Mighty Comics Group. That's not it for E-Dispatches from the Great White North though for 2008. There'll be one more installment later this week dealing with some new directions for this column/blog in 2009.