Monday, November 30, 2009

Fero, Planet Detective

After a one day delay to visit a secret bunker in England, here is the full story about the guy who fights vampires and werewolves from Pluto. Because they must originate from somewhere. Not sure why Al Bryant used the name Allison, if only because it's a pretty flimsy pseudonym. This story appeared in PLANET Comics.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Secret Nuclear Bunker

I had planned to run that four page story of Fero, Planet Detective as I had promised, but I will instead post photos that were taken by Brian Mickey at Kelveden Hatch in Essex UK. I think we done blowed up all our mannequins at the various Dreamland sites in Nevada, so it was a great surprise to come across these photos as I was checking out the photo galleries of Mickey. Nightmares? Me? Nah...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Providence, 1986

Here's my monthly entry from STORYTELLERS UNPLUGGED. Man, this month just shot into the stratosphere...

Providence, 1986
Wayne Allen Sallee
28 November 2009

I have a road trip, of sorts, ahead of me in a few hours. A zig-zag across the transit system of Chicago. I’m heading up north, but first I have to take the 55th Street bus to an artist friend’s place and drop off a few autographed books. There is a raffle Sunday night near a restaurant off 18th and Halsted where a woman was killed by a hit-and-run drive after leaving work. The money raised will go towards a reward. The neighborhood is still Polish, with the Mexican population a little to the west. So there will be the Pulaski bakery across the street from a ZacaTacos. A KFC that, last I saw, still had an original bucket on a pole that read “The Colonel’s.” I knew the guy, he lived down Route 66 from my Auntie Emma in Shelbyville. True story. Further down, 55th becomes Garfield Boulevard, and its one of those things where you can tell someone’s background by if they refer to the street by either name.

I’ll backtrack from 55th to Midway Airport, take the Orange Line to the Loop, then switch to the Blue Line and head towards O’Hare Airport. Right off the Irving Park stop, at which I’ll hit street level, I’ll walk towards Waveland and Kedvale to visit my friend Joan VanderPutten and her husband Tom. They are out here from Tampa to see their daughter Joy. Married and with a child, I recall when Joy was a peanut. The family used to live in Shoreham, on Long Island, and there were numerous occasions where a carful of writers attending I-Con or the Stoker awards would pile into their home. And Joan was about the third actual person I met at my very first convention, and the six degrees of separation started there. My life in Chicago was different, I knew artists, not writers. And so it is I always think back to that...that newness to it all when I talk to Joan on the phone (she has recently recovered from lung cancer) or every few years up north, as both of us have long abandoned the big conventions.

I was introduced to Karl Edward Wagner by Peggy Nadramia, and he took me under his wing later that first day. Then Peggy, editor of GRUE, introduced me to Kathleen Jurgens, who published THIN ICE, who then took me to task for the violence in my story “Rapid Transit,” which appeared in GRUE#1 and that year’s edition of YEAR’S BEST HORROR. (My father had his first stroke the day my copies came in the mail–directly from Karl, always from Karl–and he thought my story was titled “Taffy Apple.”) Some memories from that year are not good ones, worse thinking my father would then have a second stroke during brain surgery soon after, both at the age of 54.

It was Kathleen who introduced me to Joan, who happened to be talking with DC editor Julius Schwartz and SU alum Elizabeth Massie. I felt in over my head, I had never been anywhere but Shelby County, Kentucky, as my folks never had money back then. Saw my Grandaddy every Father’s Day and that was it. Karl came back and introduced me to my mentor, Dennis Etchison, who gave me a copy of a book he edited, THE CUTTING EDGE. He told me to bring it around during the autograph party later that night. I kept bouncing back and forth between the pros and those I felt more comfortable with, the small press bunch. Imagine that? Beth Massie not even a breakout writer in Dave Silva’s THE HORROR SHOW yet. Hell, Joe Lansdale wasn’t even that well known yet.
Funny story time. I have my book, which Dennis had already signed. The big line was for GoH Ramsey Campbell, so I got to talk with Richard Matheson and his son, Joe, Karl, Tom Monteleone, it’s hard to remember who all was around back then, and then I came up to Peter Straub. He had an old-timey quill pen. And when he went to sign my book, the one with ten or signatures in it already, a huge blop of black ink about covered the page. I let it dry behind Karl’s table, so the pages wouldn’t stick, and Ramsey Campbell, feeling sorry for my predicament, stopped signing, came over, and signed the page opposite the blop, which was no crazier than half the stunts I pulled in those days. Memory lane, as they say. I’ll bet Dave and a few others might recall some of those small press mags. And I found it strange that, for that first year, I had only known female writers, to add to the male artists I knew. Funny thing, that. I met Brian Hodge the following year, and that was the year I actually talked with Etchison and Karl at the bar or near the piano, as they knew me, the scrawny punk with the Tweety Bird receding hairline and the Larry King glasses, from the previous year.

I’ve been to conventions as recently as Toronto in 2007, but I’ll say this to you all, I can remember Providence of October 1986 in its entirety. Times past.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Peace Out at Two O'Clock

The first photo I had so I could send it to my niece Ashley. The second one is of Piers Angeli(?) the actress (as opposed to what I almost typed, Piers Anthony, the writer). Good way to move past yesterday's post. I suppose it is true that some Democrats are like that dude who wrote the letter, because when it comes to money, there are plenty of asshats out there who will brag about it. I think the letter was posted because the guy in effect was talking about the length between issues. These days, it is more the norm for books to be late, though most are guilty of coming out maybe every five or six weeks than monthly. Sucks, but what can you do? Anyhow, to offset the stupidity of 24 hour Walmarts and all the other crazy crap that we'll see on the news later today (and hopefully no one will get trampled and die this year), I offer up peace and Piers Angeli reminding us that somewhere in the world it is two o'clock.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be Thankful For Not Being A Dick

I've been saving this one. Kurt Busiek has been writing ASTRO CITY for almost fifteen years, its his own creation. Characters mentioned that we've yet to see, heroes from the 70s and 80s. Streets and neighborhoods are nods to various Golden Age writers and artists, as are subway station entrances. Best of all, Mount Kirby rises nearby. Plus: there's a guy named Steeljack who looks just like Bobby the Mitch. Since it is Busiek's book, it has been published erratically over the last few years, but has regained its footing.

Which brings me to the letter I posted above, in the Astro City special about Astra, an analogue for a member of the Fantastic Four; AC is about the only comic that still has letter columns. The guy in question--let's call him Mr. Asshole, just to be nice--maybe never thought to see his letter printed and was pissed as he listed his accomplishments. His point was that all this fantastical shit happened to him over about sixteen months. It didn't really bum me out reading a bunch of bullet points written by an asswipe who is A/mostly certainly not a Democrat and B/someone Brett Easton Ellis should meet if he is ever going to write a sequel to AMERICAN PSYCHO.

I gave it a few days. Then I emailed Kurt with my own list of accomplishments in the same time frame, being laid off after 21 years, selling books and blood to eat, working for ten dollars an hour and now being on unemployment. I want to see that letter in print, I really do. I wasn't countering the--what was the name I came up with? Oh, right. Mr. Asshole--other guy's deeds, shallow as they are. My point was to tell Kurt, and hopefully the readers, that its not about being rich or being poor, the very reason people buy ASTRO CITY is because they want to forget their lives for awhile and look up in the skies to see a flowing cape. Sadly, certain people will only be looking at their cars, other women, or the inside of his pants, to see if the Cialis has kicked in yet.

And this is how I write my day before Thanksgiving post. Most of you know how much I despise the coming month, and the sheer gluttony of the holidays. I'll try to stay on my meds for the duration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In Grant Park, No On Can Hear You Scream

This photo was posted on Facebook, but I'm not sure how many of you saw it. Every summer, on Tuesday nights, old-fashioned movies are shown in Grant Park, just south of the Loop. I do not know who took the photo, but all I can say is holy crap!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Clock, Cosmic Carson, & Paul Karasik (Our Mystery Guest)!

After you read these words, you must all--each and every one of you--go back to my previous post. Paul Karasik, the keeper of the Fletcher Hanks Torch, commented on Sunday's post, adding some juicy info about secret stuff to be found at I so miss Mystery Guests. The last one was some guy who really, really thought he would "learn something" from my blog but that I should also buy Cialas from a dead Nigerian.

Onwards! I just added the first two panels, I forgot all about Siegel & Shuster's Dr. Mystic. He'd pretty much become Dr. Occult once they got the concept going. Everyone was starting out in trench coats, as Occult was very dapper. The Clock was arguably the first costumed hero, though I doubt he spent much on the costume OR the business cards he used. But there he is, the second story in SUPERMEN after future-Superman creators had a giant walk into a huge city. And then start a fight.

Two other things posted here, Cosmic Carson was drawn by Jack Kirby, gang! And Rex Dexter was a series by Dick Briefer, of whom I'll be discussing in the near future now that I have read the Frankenstein volume. Bob mentioned the similarities in Hanks' and Wolverton's styles, and I saw it, too. Without pages in front of me, I know it is because it seems as if some of the illustrations look as if the artist kept poking his pen at the page, if that makes any sense.

Now go to the previous comment page. And read up on Paul Karasik and buy I SHALL DESTROY ALL CIVILIZED PLANETS for everyone you know for Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fletcher Hanks, Fantomah, and Stardust

Well, I posted more panels of art than I expected here. Bob had reminded me that Fantomah was the work of Fletcher Hanks, as was Stardust. I was going to mention the latter in this post, along with a few others. I'll stick with just the two tonight. And it should be mentioned that Fantomah preceded Wonder Woman by a few months as the first female character in comics. Check out the bad luck of the guy she'd end up killing by being engulfed in a tidal wave.

Hanks was an alcoholic and a wife abuser, but he seemed, by all accounts, to have left his family behind in the 1930s. As Bob mentioned, he was found dead in NYC, frozen to a park bench in February of 1976. (Things have changed, but it was not uncommon to see the homeless found frozen here in Chicago during the blizzard years of the late 70s and early 80s.) There's no way to connect the dots between 1949 and 1976, but if it involved drink, I'm surprised he lived that long: he was born in 1889. Hanks did use several pseudonyms, perhaps he found work somewhere under a different guise, but his style is quite memorable. And he is violent, but that was the Golden Age's underbelly. You could get away with bondage and beheadings. Siegel & Shuster created The Spectre a few years after Superman, and he did all sorts of things to crooks, he melted them, cut them in half with scissors, you name it.

For all the names he used, Fletcher Hanks was using his own at the end of it all, at least that's who the cops identified on that park bench almost thirty years ago.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vampires and Werewolves...From Pluto!

Yes, from Pluto. I sit here at a few minutes before midnight feeling like I'm on Bizarro-steroids, which is not a good thing. There were times at the printing plant where'd I be using my fingers--even on my right hand--to separate pages on a hot job, and after one long four-hour stint, the other night guy said I looked as jittery as a meth addict. He said it in a compassionate way, and thankfully I can think of only three times in those two years where I needed to do such a thing. Yep, I can lift sixty pounds chest-high, but I try and use my fingers independently and I am fucked. Today reminded me of one of those long-haul days where I broke through that invisible wall several times. Most days it is me dog-paddling and trying to keep my mouth above water, so it is a rare pleasure to be on level ground punch punch punching away. Just before I started typing this, now twenty minutes gone, I took my crazy pill and a diazapam, and Herb Alpert is helping me lose the chest pings. No need to talk of the events of the day, some things stay private when it comes to, well, anyways. Off and on, I feel like I'm in an oxygen bar with cyanide martinis at my side, if that makes sense. If anything, my little monologue is a perfect tell for why I still live in the comic geek world. I know my body is for shit, but then there are the guys who can fly.

But in the 40s, it was batshit crazy. Anything went. I found a copy of SUPERMEN, which has a lackluster cover of some guy in yellow and green beating on, I think, The Yellow Claw. Big card stock pages. I flipped through it with some interest, then I stopped at Fero. When I saw this dude was going after the aforementioned monsters from Pluto, I had to buy it. In fact, there are pages of early Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and two pages from Siegel and Shuster three years before Superman. 1935. I think at one point, I am going to scan the entire Fero story, it is quite short.

I love the preciseness of the panels, considering some of these guys were working for Iger or Eisner in what amounted to sweat shops. Characters created on the fly. I have a few issues of PLANET and they are neat, the art is sleek and full of robots and girls with ice cream cone breasts. Fantomah is bisexual. Really. Well, you live in the jungle...

The Face is one cool cat. He pulls off the perfectly-molded mask and becomes Tom Trent, newspaper guy. I love how this chick screams upon seeing him. Comet was a guy like I was talking about, no one knew if they'd do another story with him or not. He could blind people or set them on fire with beams from his eyes--like Cyclops in X-MEN, but we wouldn't want to think Stan Lee ever stole from anyone, right?--and, to be honest, several stories were outright brutal. One hero needs to climb in a window, so he just tosses a bad guy to his doom.

And then there is Spacehawk. I am including him here for Capcom, more than anything else. Discussing a 1950s comic called Mystery Tales last summer, I tried to describe Basil Wolverton's artwork. Well, here it is. I'll be posting more from the book over the next week.

This Tijuana Brass is great. You'd think I was boozing it up again. April will be four years. Wish I could say I've saved money from not buying $4.00 Bud Lights as I sat hunched over my notebook at the Delta Lounge at 87th and Major. Curse you, recession. Damn you, unemployment. But then there are the guys and gals from the 40s, in their primary colors and square panels, keeping me happy, like a hemorrhage that gently bathes my brain...

Friday, November 20, 2009

e. e. cummings redux

I wanted to subtly move away from my last post because I'll be talking about a great collection of Golden Age comics I bought. One of my favorite pieces of writing EVER, I feel that the poems goes as much as for me as it does Pete, my doppelganger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Quarter-Century of Pete

I've mentioned Pete before, and what seems to be the biggest mystery in my life. At times I think I am him, an extension of myself when it seems my spasticity cannot be held inside just one body. Saturday evening, as I waited for the last bus home, I talked with Pete in a one-sided way. He literally looks like a human tree, and I'm not saying that in a snide or pitiful way. This cop named Rick gave me a bit of info, something about Pete having been beaten up as a kid. I suppose that might account for some sort of paralysis, because I would think he'd be more mobile even if he had Parkinson's. So I talked to Pete, looking at his eyes for recognition, as every sound he makes, every single one, is like hearing wind in a cave. For those not familiar with Pete, I used to see him begging for money on buses back in the 1980s. Another survivor. He let me talk with him, most times he is shy, and I gave him all the singles I had in my wallet. All of a sudden he motioned, I turned and saw a stubby little PACE bus meant for the handicapped. So I now know he does go somewhere, but I can't figure why Pete is abandoned for most of the day. Maybe he just can't stay at home in a little room. I bought a Superman action figure yesterday, its in my backpack. Next time I see Pete, its his. The universal sign of friendship.

Now, back to the shoe. Bob might be right. Hell, he likely is. I mentioned that the shoe likely was lost, it was near a Salvation Army truck, I've seen lots of what I call halfies in my time. But today I was coming back from getting my Frankenstein shots in my neck and back, plus my typing finger, dammit all. It is hard to describe unless you are a true pedestrian, but I found myself on that same stretch of curb, only a dozen feet down. I had placed my hand on a street pole to balance myself, the after effect of the shots in my neck (right behind my left ear) gets me dizzy at all the wrong times. This time, it was right. There was an odd hanging thing of paper flowers around the poles metal band. You see those for only one reason, because a kid died there. Nothing on the Burbank news, but its rare that there is a slow news day because of the Chicago feed. I have a photo of the remembrance thing on my current role of film.

Odd. I somewhat solve the story of the shoe, but I also now know, like, 85% more about Pete than I ever have in the last quarter-century. If he doesn't shy away as he often does, I might offer to read to him from the paper, or a comic or story. When I'm done here, I've always said that I'd be arm-wrestling my Creator over why I was made into this monster. In the case of Pete, I think I'll kick my Creator in the ass, just for good measure. PS See how much I can type (and quickly) when I'm full of the crazy injections. But they fade away within a week, oh fucking well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Full Moon Pig, Empty Shoe

More from the last roll. Even though Twilight Tales is on hiatus for a few months, a few of us have still been getting together at the Bourgeois Pig, and I took advantage of the Hunter's Moon in October to take this photo, if only to see if I could actually get the full moon to show up in complete darkness. The other lights are from Burling Street, right past the hanging pig. The bottom two photos were from downtown around Washington Street. The one with the fire escape came out great, and the other is cool enough that I posted it as well. The second photo is quite a mystery, it was the last photo on my roll, from this past Saturday. This is right on 87th Street, before residential housing and near a bus stop. Most likely, it fell from a stroller. I'll never know.