Tagged: Terry Beatty

Mike Gold: Worst … Villain… Ever!

Gold Art 130313Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins • Interior illustrations by Terry Beatty • Hard Case Crime • Paperback: $9.95 • Digital: $6.39 • Audio: $9.18

So… Who is the worst, most evil comic book villain ever? Well, if you’re a hard-core comics fan and/or comics professional, the worst comic book villain ever might very well be Dr. Fredric Wertham. He’s the guy who spearheaded the comic books breed juvenile delinquency movement of the late 1940s and early 1950s that led to Senate hearings, state-by-state censorship (Can’t have the word “crime” in the title of your comic book? Really?), massively plummeting sales, and the dissolution of more than half of the comics publishing companies and the jobs that went along with them.

An entire generation of fans grew up loathing the man. His so-called study, which was lacking in any real scientific evidence, was called Seduction of the Innocent. Suffice it to say that a lot of us have had a “thing” about the guy… perhaps none more than massively talented and successful novelist/comics writer/filmmaker/musician Max Allan Collins.

Collins was in a rock band called Seduction of the Innocent that played, among other venues, the San Diego Comic Con pre-show party – his bandmates included Bill Mumy, Miguel Ferrer and Steve Leialoha. It was… loud.

Now he’s repurposed the Evil Doctor’s seminal title in a mystery novel, the third (and hopefully not last) of his Jack Starr private eye stories that revolve around the comic strip and comic book business. Collins writes novels almost as often as I consume barbecue beef sandwiches – for one thing, he’s been co-writing, finishing off, and/or editing the plethora of unpublished material written by his friend, the late crimemaster Mickey Spillane. I wish I could come anywhere near keeping up with his output, but I’ve cut back on the barbecue beef.

But if you’re a comics or a popular culture fan and you only read one Max Allan Collins book this week, make it Seduction of the Innocent. I’d like to say it is one of the best books ever written, but that’s a stupid concept. However, I can say it is one of the most fun books I’ve ever read.

Collins incorporates his massive knowledge of – and enthusiasm for – 1950s popular culture. In addition to pastiches of Wertham and the folks at EC Comics and Lev Gleason Publications, he nods (often with the energy of a bobble-head on meth) towards Dragnet, Mickey Spillane, Al Capp, Dick Tracy, paperback culture, and mid-century culture. Mostly, though, he infuses his mystery novel with a smokepot of comics effluvia – aided by his long-time researcher George Hagenauer. However, if you’re not up on this sort of thing and/or couldn’t care less, it doesn’t get in the way of this clever yarn.

Indeed, I must compliment the author on a great diversionary move. For those of us who are up on comics history, he directs us towards one likely suspect – and then makes a crosstown turn worthy of a Manhattan cabdriver. I won’t spoil this for you, but if you’re curious read Joe Simon’s My Life in Comics.

I must point out that Collins’ long-time comics collaborator Terry Beatty (artist on the current Phantom Sunday pages) supplied the illustrations for each chapter. They are brilliant. Beatty even found an old Leroy Letterer to exacerbate the effect of reading an old (and relevant) EC Comics story.

If you’re looking for a good time and yet want to keep your clothes on, you’ll do well with Seduction of the Innocent. Max Allan Collins’ version, not Fredric Wertham’s.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases



Tarzan ™ ERB, Inc. Cover Art © Daren Bader

New Pulp Author, Martin Powell shared news of his upcoming Tarzan project from Sequential Pulp Comics/Dark Horse Comics.


JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN to be published by Sequential Pulp/Dark Horse Comics. Based on the classic anthology by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Daren Bader, Pablo Marcos, Terry Beatty, Will Meugniot, Nik Poliwko, Antonio Romero Olmedo, Mark Wheatley, Diana Leto, Steven E. Gordon, Lowell Isaac, Tom Floyd and Jamie Chase.

Mike Gold: Funny Books

Gold Art 130109It used to be, when I was about to go home from the San Diego Comic-Con or some other show that required a stupidly long plane ride, I’d drop by the dealer’s area (you know, that ever-shrinking portion of the main floor where people would actually sell comic books at a “comic book convention”) and I’d blow about twenty bucks on stuff to read on the return trip. These purchases were almost exclusively of “funny” comic books.

Sadly, we have come to the point where, in the world of contemporary comics, the phrase “funny comic books” has evolved from a redundancy to an oxymoron and the funniest comic around these days is Deadpool – a title with a death count high on the Tarantino scale.

No, the funny books I’m referring to were, well, funny. One of my favorites was Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye, a somewhat maligned title because the Snoots insist upon comparing it to E.C. Segar’s newspaper creation. Whereas Sagendorf was Segar’s assistant on said feature, they were produced at different times for different audiences and they occupied different landscapes. You tell a story differently in a newspaper strip, usually ending each day with both something resembling a punch line as well as a hook or a cliffhanger to bring the reader back. In comics back in those ancient times, stories were self-contained with a beginning, a middle and an end.

And Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye was brilliant. He certainly got the characters right, employing Segar’s entire cast and adding a few great characters of his own. The stories were as compelling and entertaining as anything on the stands at the time – and we’re talking about a period that encompassed Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge, John Stanley’s Little Lulu, and Shelly Mayer’s Sugar and Spike.

Yes, I just compared Sagendorf to Barks, Stanley and Mayer. If you don’t like that, well, in the words of Mike Baron, you can bite my Twinkie.

Our pal Craig Yoe has brought this stuff back to the masses in IDW’s Classic Popeye series, and I see they’ve begun to anthologize their “early” issues (I think they’ve published six issues so far, so “early” is relative only to Doctor Who fans).

But that’s not why I’m writing this. Fooled you, didn’t I? Opening with a 385-word digression. My journalism teachers would plotz. No, I’m writing about a one-shot comic released last week that, on the face of it, seems like a cheesy exploitation gimmick or, in other words, my kind of comic book.

The aforementioned folks at IDW possess the Mars Attacks license as well as the Popeye contract. People think this is because IDW’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein was a honcho at Topps, the bubble gum people who created and own Mars Attacks. I don’t think that’s the reason. I think it’s because Goldstein has the same strain of arrested development that I do and, instead of growing up, we got into the comics business.

So IDW is doing what every other publisher does with such a property: they’re squeezing the licenses until their eyes pop. Which is why we’ve now got, of all things, Mars Attacks Popeye.

The effort of writer Martin Powell and artist Terry Beatty (yep, the guy who draws The Phantom Sundays and Ms. Tree and Batman and stuff) and edited by the professionally unusual Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni, this is one funny, clever and well-produced comic book. It didn’t have to be that; it easily could have been a stupid cheesy exploitation gimmick. No, in the finest American tradition, it is a solidly amusing and entertaining cheesy exploitation gimmick.

Stylistically, Mars Attacks Popeye is done as a Popeye comic in the finest Sagendorf tradition. It employs almost all of the Popeye cast going back to 1919 (not that I really should give away Olive Oyl’s true age) and they take on the advancing army of bubble gum card fame – this time, under the provocation of Popeye’s very own Doctor Doom, the Sea Hag.

Look, you’ve probably got an extra four bucks on you, but if you don’t roll a school kid or something and check it out. It’s about time we got us a funny funny book.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil Gets In A Crossword



By Max Allan Collins
Illustrations by Terry Beatty
Available 19 Feb. 2013
Hard Case Crime
260 pages
What better book to review following our look at a Modesty Blaise strip collection then one that uses the 1950s anti-comic book witch hunt as its thinly disguised narrative skeleton.  “Seduction of the Innocent,” is the third in a series starring former stripper and newspaper syndicate owner, Maggie Starr and her World War II veteran stepson, Jack Starr.  Both appeared in two earlier comics themed mysteries, “A Killing in Comics,” 2007 and “Strip for Murder,” 2008.  Now Collins wraps up the trilogy with a look at the events that nearly destroyed the American comics industry via the publication of the original, “Seduction of the Innocent,” by Dr. Fredric Wertham.
For the uninitiated, Wertham (March 20,1895 – November 18, 1981) was a German born American psychiatrist who made a name for himself by denouncing comics books as a corrupting influence on the children of that era.  Targeting such publishers as E.C. Comics, he posited the theory that the crime, sex and violence depicted in those comics were the principle cause of delinquency among juvenile boys.  Of course he failed to point out that the titles he singled out were clearly intended for an adult audience though no such labeling existed at the time.  His best known book was “Seduction of the Innocent,” and his criticisms of comic books launched a U.S. Congressional inquiry into the industry and the creation of the Comics Code.
Of course the book is a sham using only the most gruesome examples of graphic art to prove a theory that was never corroborated with traditional scientific sampling.  But the public, already molded by McCarthyism was only too eager to start comic book burning events in their noble defense of America’s naïve youth. 
Author Collins has no difficult task in imagining a scenario in which the hated fictional doctor is murdered and then he lines up a half dozen very plausible suspects, each based loosely on past comic industry personalities from publishers to writers and artists.  And therein lies the fun of this tale for any diehard comic book fan; guessing who it is Collins is rifting off of as Jack Starr investigates.  As ever, Collins plays fair and the clues are laid out within the context of the story for all to see and interpret, mystery fans; the challenge being can we solve it before Jack and Maggie do?
This new “Seduction of the Innocent,” is by far a whole lot more entertaining than its predecessors and has the distinction of being Hard Case Crime’s first ever illustrated novel.  Through out the book there are wonderful spot illustrations provided by the super talented Terry Beatty; all done in the marvelous retro golden age style of art.  They add a really nice visual element to what is already a fun read.  It is hoped that Collins’ legion of fans will demand yet more of these delicious murder mysteries starring Maggie & Jack Starr.  In a literary environment overly saturated with dark, somber and depressing cautionary tales these are truly a breath of fresh air.

Mike Gold: Phantom Survivor

While we’re all busy celebrating the 49th anniversary of Doctor Who and the 50th anniversary of both Spider-Man and the James Bond movies, the daddy of heroic fantasy characters quietly turned 76 way back in February. Or, depending upon how you look at it, he turned 476.

The Phantom was the very first masked, costumed hero in comics, debuting in the pages of the many Hearst papers February 17, 1936. He wore a dark outfit – when the feature added a Sunday page, an unthinking engraver made the costume purple for some unknown reason and the color stuck. He fought piracy and other crimes and handed down his clothes, his weapons, his Skull Cave, his fortune and, most important, his legacy to his son. The current guy – most have been named Kit Walker – is the 21st. This cool concept predated Doctor Who by a generation.

One would think the locals were pretty stupid to believe this dude has been the same guy all these many years. Indeed, given the fact that the base for the Phantom’s stories is in Africa (originally, it was sort of India-ish), one might even think this concept was kind of racist. Creator Lee Falk’s liberal street-cred was impeccable and he built the myth on local folk-lore and the unimpeachable fact that criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot.

As time progressed we saw African civilization modernize as we continued to see its treasures and its history plundered by contemporary pirates and opportunist Europeans. Nonetheless, about 30 years ago I was having a conversation with the features editor of the Chicago Tribune who expressed astonishment that The Phantom polled highest among its black male readership. I told him he wasn’t reading the strip very closely.

What’s remarkable – astonishing, really – is the fact that The Phantom remains in the newspapers to this very day. This is a feat unmatched by Terry and The Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Li’l Abner, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and just about every other continuity newspaper comic strip except Dick Tracy and Mandrake The Magician.

I should point out that Mandrake the Magician was created by Lee Falk as well… two years before The Phantom.

The original artist was Ray Moore; subsequent talent on the strip and on the comic books reads like a Who’s Who of comics: Carmine Infantino, Bill Lignante, Sy Barry, Joe Orlando, Luke McDonnell, Dave Gibbons, Dick Giordano, Don Newton, Jim Aparo, Alex Saviuk, Graham Nolan, Alex Ross, Paul Ryan, Eduardo Barreto, and Terry Beatty… to name but a few. Writers include Peter David, Mark Verheiden, Scott Beatty, Tom DeFalco, and Tony Bedard. Tony DePaul has been writing the strip for the past twelve years; he’s also written many of the comic book adventures as well. Nearly every major American comic book publisher had a turn in creating new adventures, and it remains a top-seller in Australia, Sweden, India and many other nations.

Currently, the dailies are being drawn by Paul Ryan and Terry Beatty – perhaps best known for his work on Ms. Tree – is the Sunday artist. Terry had the awesome responsibility of stepping into Eduardo Barreto’s shoes after Ed’s sudden death last year. He’s doing quite an admirable job.

I continue to be amazed by The Phantom’s enduring appeal. If your local paper isn’t carrying the feature (assuming you still have a local paper) you can read it at King Features’ excellent Daily Ink site, where they carry all of the current KFS strips, including Mandrake, as well as reprints of many of their classics, including The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Buz Sawyer, and about a zillion others. It costs $19.99 a year to subscribe to the whole thing, and I doubt you can spend the same amount on a better mix of comics material.

Every time we read a costumed hero comic of any sort, we owe a debt of gratitude to Lee Falk, an amazingly gifted and singularly interesting man.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


Mike Gold: Bite My Twinkie

Some 30 years ago DC and Marvel produced a series of ads featuring their characters (except Superman) in one-page adventures hawking Hostess products. That campaign ran forever, so when we relaunched E-Man at First Comics I thought it would be fun to get people to do Hostess ad parodies featuring their creator-owned characters. John Byrne did Rog-2000, Max Collins and Terry Beatty did Mike Mist, Lee Marrs did Pudge Girl Blimp, Reed Waller did Omaha The Cat Dancer, and so on.

A few years later I was at DC Comics where I edited (interm-ly; Marv Wolfman was moving to the west coast and had some health issues) Teen Titans Spotlight. Mike Baron wrote a story featuring The Hawk (of the original Hawk and Dove) wherein the lead character uttered the epitaph “Bite My Twinkie!” Whereas it was completely in character, one of DC’s top-most executives took great offense at this. In an act of astonishing courage, our young photocopy-kid – who later became a full editor – demanded said executive to point to his Twinkie. That, I felt, was more salacious than Baron’s original line.

Twinkies became a metaphor long ago. Those childhood memories are exceptionally powerful: we all grew up on Twinkies and Ding Dongs and Zingers and those of us who were baby boomers routinely rediscovered that ancient passion around 2 AM after giving the nation of Columbia a boost in their GNP. In fact, Chicago’s hippie district bordered a Dolly Madison thrift shop (before the company was bought out by Hostess) and, to the best of my knowledge, it was the only said thrift shop to have overnight hours. It was a great place to meet up with friends.

So it is no surprise that last week’s sudden closure of Hostess has traumatized so many people. No matter how unhealthy the product was, those childhood attachments more than compensated. Millions of us who hadn’t eaten much of that stuff in the past four decades felt a genuine loss. My daughter is upset about the prospect of having Wonder Bread-less peanut butter sandwiches and she’s right: it will not be the same.

Sure, there’s a handful of Food Nazis who have been quoted as saying “well, now people can eat vegetables and other healthy stuff.” These people are dangerous lunatics. People who think somebody who can no longer procure a Ho-Ho will now reach for broccoli should not be allowed to operate heavy machinery.

We’d like to think that in comics we’ve progressed past the nostalgia connection, and to a certain extent we most certainly have. But the power of those childhood memories is so great that it would be ridiculous to assume they are no longer relevant. I got over the loss of Ipana toothpaste, but our culture is worse off for the absence of Shinola. It is no surprise to me, at least, that we started making “serious” comics movies when those who grew up with comics as a vital part of their childhood lives started working behind the camera.

So when I went to the local Stop and Stop Saturday afternoon and noted how the joint was totally cleared out of Hostess/Drakes/Dolly Madison products, I chuckled. Loudly.

And then I went over to the comics rack to see what was still on sale.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil



IDW Publishing has revealed the cover for the upcoming MARS ATTACKS POPEYE comic book along with others in the Mars Attacks… line. Mars Attacks Popeye is written by Martin (Halloween Legion) Powell with art by Terry (The Phantom) Beatty. Mars Attacks Popeye will be in stores January 2013 from IDW.


IDW has released the details on their upcoming crossover event between Topps’ MARS ATTACKS property and… well, pretty much every license under the IDW banner.

Spread out over five weeks in January, the full list of planned one-shots includes:

MARS ATTACKS POPEYE by Martin Powell, Terry Beatty, and Tom Ziuko
MARS ATTACKS KISS by Chris Ryall, Alan Robinson, and Tom Ziuko
MARS ATTACKS TRANSFORMERS by Shane McCarthy and Matt Frank
MARS ATTACKS ZOMBIES VS. ROBOTS by Chris Ryall, Andy Kuhn, and John Rauch

IDW Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall is the brains behind the event, and had this to say about it:

“The ‘Mars Attacks’ property is a bit more insane than most of the licenses we have. There’s lots of good carnage in there, so we thought it’d be fun if we could spin that into some of our other books that are more respectful properties. Normally in ‘Transformers’ you don’t get the level of insanity of a ‘Mars Attacks’ comic. We thought it’d be fun to mash that all together.

I wanted ‘Mars Attacks’ to fit into these universes by the rules already established in these books. So if there’s a Popeye story, the Martians can only cause as much damage as you’d see in an old Popeye strip or a Fleischer cartoon. It’s not going to be quite as over-the-top violent as John Layman’s ‘Mars Attacks’ comic. It’ll fit well into the Popeye universe. So every issue is a stand-alone story, and they roll out chronologically by era. Popeye comes first and takes place further back in the timeline around the 1930s.”

You can learn more about IDW and their books at www.idwpublishing.com.


Terry Beatty, artist of the Phantom Sunday newspaper strips is offering some of his Phantom artwork for sale in order to raise the funds to replace the computer he uses to digitally pencil, letter and color the strip.

From Terry’s blog:
The process here is that I print the pencils (done in Manga Studio) in blue (a 50% cyan usually), along with the lettering and borders in black, on 11 x 17 bristol board, and then ink the art traditionally by hand with brush and pen. Some of the blue “pencil” lines can show through — but it’s usually rather subtle and doesn’t detract from the art at all.

This is then scanned for color, which is done in Photoshop. In some cases, repeat panels are digital printouts as well — and the logo panel is always printed — the modern equivalent of a “paste-up” — but without the eventual rubber cement stains or faded photostat! Sound effects lettering — and once in a while, some of the more mechanical background lines, are digital as well.

As an incentive to buy now, I’m going to include with each Phantom page purchased, a randomly chosen page of original artwork from my files of comic book pages inked by me. I’ll also toss in a few surprise extras just to sweeten the deal. Prices include shipping in the US — overseas shipping will have to be calculated and added in, as that can add up a little too much. I’m also dropping some of the prices a little from the prices I’ve had on these at comic book shows.

Art here is all from Sunday strips that have seen print, starting with the first page from the current Power House gang story (sorry, all but one “Shadows of Rune Noble” pages are gone — and I’m keeping that one). I do have pages that have not seen print yet — but can’t show them publicly, for the obvious reason.

Check out the pages and prices at http://terrybeatty.blogspot.com/2012/06/original-phantom-art-up-for-grabs.html

Review: Learn Spanish With Batman

Review: Learn Spanish With Batman

So there I was at the supermarket maintaining a half-century long tradition: hanging out by the magazine racks looking for treasure. Or at least something interesting to read. Nada. As usual.

But there was a dump next to the racks with a trade paperback titled [[[Learn Spanish With Batman]]]. Well, that seemed interesting. I picked one up, flipped though it and found that the stories were reprints from DC’s sundry Batman cartoon tie-ins. Top-rank stuff by top-tier people: Terry Beatty, Rick Burchett, Tim Levins, Scott Peterson, Dan Slott, and Ty Templeton. What the hell; I picked it up.

Truth be told, I took a couple years of high school Spanish. My first teacher would have done better as a guard at Guantanamo Bay. My second, Ron Manger, was vastly superior but it was probably too late. I picked up a lot more Spanish on the Chicago streets. So I approached Learn Spanish With Batman with my typical cynicism.

They reprinted the stories but certain key words in Spanish, lettered in a red color hold. The translation was off to the side in the appreciable borders. The whole thing was done by Berlitz, who have quite a track record when it comes to the foreign language racket.

Reading the 110 pages, I felt a few ancient memory cells being brought out of a coma. I don’t know how effective this process would be for someone without my slight Spanish language background but – to be fair – the book is obviously targeted to kids and pre-adolescents. I only fall into that category for a living.

It was a pleasurable experience; the stories were great fun and some actual knowledge got hammered into my leaden brainpan. There’s two volumes of Superman and another of Batman in the series thus far, and I’ll probably pick up the latter.

If you’re only interested in the stories, DC’s many trade paperback reprints are a better deal. But if you’d like to try a little experiment, or you’ve got kids or young siblings, I’d give this a try.

‘Ms. Tree’ Headed to TV?

‘Ms. Tree’ Headed to TV?

First, the disclaimer. I’ve known Ms. Tree’s Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty since we were all pups down on the farm, I’ve done some research consulting on Max’s Heller series, and I was the editor of Ms. Tree Quarterly. More to the point, there’s this scene at the end of a story where Tree goes back to the scene of the crime strictly to murder the bad guys; that final page was dedicated to me and I’m proud of it. Make what you will of that.

Well, it turns out Our Gal Friday (that’s a joke, but you’ve got to read Ms. Tree to get it) may be headed to the small screen. In an interview with Comics2Film, Collins disclosed the Oxygen Network has "gone beyond an option (and paid) the purchase price." They’ve assigned two screenwriters to the write the first movie, both women, and it’s being regarded as a pilot for further movies and possibly a teevee series.

Obviously, things have been held up a bit by the WGA strike, but Collins took his original treatment and turned it into Deadly Beloved, a paperback novel published last December by Hard Case Crime. Cooler still (since Collins is the author of about a million mystery novels, including the aforementioned Heller boos, and teevee/movie tie-ins, including many of the C.S.I. books) the cover was painted by Ms. Tree artist Terry Beatty.