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Because I still have the receipt, that’s how I know exactly when.

§ June 2nd, 2017 § Filed under howard the duck, paperbacks § 5 Comments

So from Wednesday’s post, adam asks

“hey mike did you ever read the novelization of the film? i remember it had a nice meta tone to it.”

And the answer is, of coures, I certainly did read the novelization! I even talked about the book (the actual physical object, though, not so much the content) about nine years ago, so I don’t blame anyone for not remembering. But here’s the scan I made of my actual copy of the book, purchased at 4:44 in the afternoon on July 18th, 1986:

I haven’t read it in a long time…I know I’ve read it more than once, but I definitely haven’t read it since maybe sometime in the late 1980s. I know I say this a lot about things I haven’t read or watched or otherwise experienced in a while, but I really should read it again, if only to see if there are maybe some nuances to the novel I missed the first time around or have forgotten about in the meantime. adam notes its “meta tone,” and I’d like to see, or at least be reminded of, what he’s talking about. Add that to the “Future Posts on Progressive Ruin” whiteboard!

Blogging sister Tegan adds

“I’ve been thinking Howard would be perfect for something like a low-risk/low-reward web series.”

That probably wouldn’t be a bad place for him. I thought for a while that a late-night animated series on the televisions might be a good fit, though I suppose if any studio or network is going to have some new thing with the name “Marvel Comics” on it, they’re gonna want it in front of as many eyes as possible. But that desire versus the aforementioned reluctance for putting too many eggs in the Howard basket would probably result in no Howard show at all. So instead, it’s probably cameos and guest-appearances for the near future…but I suddenly just pictured Howard popping up on Marvel’s site as an updated version of Clippy, making acerbic comments about how many times you keep clicking on that one Spider-Woman cover.

However, I would just plotz if Howard started showing up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I know there’s a general “never the twain shall meet” policy, that’s mostly held, between the Marvel TV shows and the Marvel movies, but I can’t imagine they’d be too worried about Howard making the leap between the two.

All this speculation is likely for naught, since realistically I expect Howard is going to stick to Guardians of the Galaxy appearances. …Unless we get that letter-writing campaign started right now, gang!

Jealous of the “writing cartoon books” part, not the “you’ve probably passed away by now” part.

§ July 2nd, 2014 § Filed under cartoons, paperbacks § 5 Comments

Also rescued from that collection I was talking about a couple of days ago were a few of these Flintstones paperbacks from the mid-1970s:

I like the look of these, particularly that moody cover on The Bedrock Connection. Inside, the artwork (usually alternating pages with the prose, but sometimes sharing a page with some text) was…occasionally off-model, one might say. But it sufficed, I suppose, even if they cheated with similar poses and layouts in the images, like when they followed this pic:

…with this one just two pages later:

I think they’re supposed to be in the same place, but the moon has moved farther away, the house suddenly sprouted another tree and a new window treatment, the rocks at their feet have changed positions, etc. “Suddenly, Fred and Barney found themselves in a parallel dimension, just slightly different from their own. ‘Darn you, Gazoo!’ bellowed Fred.”

Here’s the first page of Gentlemen Farmers, to give you bit of a taste of what these books are like:

“A tall, thin who?” you may be wondering? The Thin Whiteschist Duke himself, David Boulderie? No, it’s this terrifying looking gentleman:

…who seems a bit creepily outside the standard Flintstones model, but not as much as this guy from the first page:

…which looks like some freakish proto-Barney who’s somehow escaped the studio’s round file and has entered the fictional world of the Flintstones to stalk and eventually confront his successor. Kinda like that Simpsons episode where Current Bart confronts Tracey Ullman Show Bart which is something that actually happened I’m assuming, and I didn’t just imagine it.

Anyway, I was posting some of these scans to the Twitter when Twitter pal Teresa asked who the author was. I repliced “Horace J. Elias,” and Teresa discovered that the fella wrote a whole lot of cartoon-related books. I’m assuming that’s an actual guy and not a pseudonym used by the publisher for the army of people they had cranking these out, but I didn’t have much like finding any info on the fellow. I did find this page on one of those ancestry sites which could be him, but I have no idea. Anyway, here’s to you, Horace…you had a good gig writing books based on cartoons, and I’m just a bit jealous.

“Pornorobots and video games that kill” — I’m pretty sure that’s just the Internet.

§ December 4th, 2013 § Filed under paperbacks § 6 Comments

So here’s one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelves at home for about three decades now:

I bought it from the local Waldenbooks (R.I.P.), having spotted this blurb on its cover:

…since I was totally in the bag for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and certainly in the market for something similar to read.

From what I can recollect via my vague, age-addled memories of the actual experience of reading the book, it wasn’t quite the madcap zaniness I was primed to expect from the Hitchhiker’s Guide comparison. My sense was that it was certainly a denser book, packed with more information and detail than the casual experience of the Douglas Adams oeuvre, and maybe one I wasn’t quite just ready to experience yet.

Here’s the back cover, to show you what I was up against:

Well, if Coast to Coast AM regular Whitley Streiber liked it, certainly I should give it another go. In fact, I keep meaning to. Every once in a while, I’ll glance at its spine on my bookshelf, and always the quiet half-formed thought “I should reread that” flashes through my brain for the split-second the title registers with me. It used to be that I’d reread books on a fairly regular basis, but now I have a lot more books (and comics!) and more new ones arriving on a regular basis, revisiting old tomes is a luxury I just don’t have much time for. But Terra is different, mostly because I suspect my desire for another Hitchhiker’s may have colored my initial reading, and I want to give it a fairer shake than I did.

And even if I never get around to reading it again, at least I have that peculiar cover to enjoy.

That’s just what I needed…another book to read.

§ April 8th, 2013 § Filed under paperbacks § 14 Comments

So the few of you who are left from about four-and-a-half years ago may remember a series of posts discussing movie novelizations (1 2 3 – sorry for all the dead Haloscan links and minor formatting issues you’ll find there). Well, I have a new one to add to the collection, acquired just in the last week:

I had no idea there even was a novelization of Clue, that fine, underrated comedy from lo all those years ago (i.e. the mid 1980s). But here it is, staring us in our faces, daring us to believe in it.

A couple of notes:

1. Yes, like the movie, the book has multiple endings. However, the novelization has four endings, with Chapter Twenty presented four times as Versions A through D, whereas the film has only three endings. A quick skim through the endings shows that Version C is the one that isn’t in the film, and I’ll reveal in the comments later today who the culprit is and his/her eventual fate, if you’re curious.

2. The novel’s dedication reads “This book is dedicated to Those Who Got Away With It.”

3. When I first glanced at the cover, I briefly thought it said that the author was Malcolm McDowell. For that one very glorious moment, I believed I beheld the greatest book ever produced by human civilization. As it is…well, it’s pretty close.

4. Some comic book connections: the book was a Fawcett Gold Medal Book (published by Ballantine Books), Fawcett having been involved in comic book publishing to some minor extent.

And the film was produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber, who would later produce a superhero film of some note.

And some of the actors were probably in comic-related movies, too, but I’ll let you guys figure that out since I’m sure if I did it, I’ll forget something.

So anyway, that’s my neat acquisition for the week. Now to find time to actually read the thing.

• • •

In some site news, I have now disallowed further commenting on posts older than 90 days, and I’m thinking about reducing that amount of time to 60 days or even less. I’ve had a few too many drive-bys leaving rude or nonsensical comments on older posts, and while I like to encourage commenting here, I’m no longer in the mood to put up with folks causing problems. That hopefully will also cut down the amount of attempted spam comments I get, too.

Anyway, that’s that.

And then there was that time I found out someone wrote a book about my girlfriend.

§ June 8th, 2012 § Filed under paperbacks § 10 Comments

Well, actually, about my girlfriend and her teammates, too, as the book is about her high school volleyball team taking the California State Championship in 1986. (Here’s a contemporary report about the event from the Los Angeles Times that singles (“twinsles?”) out my girlfriend and her twin sister for their efforts.)

My girlfriend found out about this book during a visit to our former high school, and I promptly went into a search for the darned thing, which took me a bit…it’s a self-published tome, and was in seemingly short supply less than two years after its release. I managed to find one seller in Philadelphia who had a copy, and just yesterday it arrived in the mail.

I knew I was in for a good time when I read the first part of the opening line:

“A yellow 1975 Toyota sedan stealth along Oxnard street….”

Yup, that’s “stealth” as a verb, and not a usage with which I am familiar. Also, later on the page the authors make it clear that by “Oxnard street” (capitalization as in the original) they actually meant “Oxnard Boulevard.” BONUS: on the same page a car has a “stirring wheel,” which I guess you use in case you need to do a little cooking on the way to your destination.

So, yeah, this is some book. All the place names remain more or less the same (names of cities, the schools involved, etc.) with the exception of the aforementioned Oxnard Boulevard, while the people all get pseudonyms. The name of our high school’s volleyball coach is so barely changed I wonder why they bothered, and my girlfriend Nora and her sister Maria become “Rosalu” and “Rosalie,” respectively, I think. And before you ask, no, I’m not going to start calling Nora “Rosalu” because she’ll put me in the hospital.

Now I haven’t done more than sort of flip through the book, read a passage or two, and identify a pseudonymous volleyball player here and there (“Oh, ‘Delia’ — that’s Della!”), but Nora’s already endured the whole thing. She informs me there are more typos and instances of questionable continuity to be enjoyed therein, and her response to reading passages about her and her sister’s fictional counterparts was a fairly even mix of bemusement and irritation.

The story of our high school taking the championship that year is a good one, I think, and I can understand the appeal of wanting to tell it. Like the L.A. Times article says, the girls on the team were relatively undersized compared to their much-taller competitors, and their team’s victory was very much Underdogs Achieving Success Against Overwhelming Odds, i.e. Sports Narrative Cliché #1. It doesn’t seem as if this book is the definitive telling of that story, however.

Ah, well. Now, I was actually there for that final game back in ’86, when our high school took that championship. And I attended most of the games leading up to it. And I was friends (or at least acquaintances) with a number of people on the team. And I felt the excitement when our school took the victory. So, maybe, I already have my own definitive telling of this story. And Nora, of course, has her own. How could this book ever compete?

K’ing Kung-Fu #4: The Kak-Abdullah Conspiracy (Freeway Press, 1973).

§ August 8th, 2011 § Filed under paperbacks § 4 Comments

So I was going through this collection when I spotted this paperback cover and I said to myself “that’s certainly a head drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith.”

This isn’t a paperback collection of comics, but rather one of a series of prose adventure novels with, as one might guess, a kung-fu theme. As I’ve not read any of these, I am unqualified to comment on the quality of the writing, but a random flip through the book reveals the lines

“Behind Kak he saw the albino and The Moor whirling to the death.”


“His fist flopped through the folds of K’ing’s pants.”

…so there you go.

For more details about this series, including scans of all the covers (plus the British editions), here is a message board discussion on the topic.

At one point in that discussion, someone suggests that the author of this series, Marshall Macao, is Ron Goulart writing under a pseudonym, but Goulart himself says this is not the case.

The back cover:

There’s really nothing quite like Windsor-Smith’s drawing of a face from that angle, is there? (Well, aside from Dave Sim drawing a face at that angle.)

Also, seeing the “Barry Smith” credit reminds me of this story (about a third of the way down the page) that I told you all, long ago.

Bodé’s Cartoon Concert PB (Dell, 1973).

§ August 7th, 2011 § Filed under paperbacks § 6 Comments

Recently acquired in a collection, a somewhat rough copy of Vaughn Bodé’s Bodé’s Cartoon Concert:

Reprints, in black and white, strips from the adult magazine Cavalier (but different Cavalier strips from the ones reprinted in the Purple Pictography one-shot from Fantagraphics/Eros Comix, as far as I can tell).

The back cover:

And yes, it’s very naughty. The stories are short, presented one panel per page, kind of like some of the Mad Magazine paperbacks, only with more nipples. Kind of amusing to think this paperback was published under the same company name that once was emblazoned on every Disney and Warner Brothers cartoon comic book.

When this book was published, I was only four years old, and my interest in underground comix was still at least, oh, two or three years away from coming into full bloom. So, I don’t know how this was marketed, or displayed, or what. I presume this was an attempt by an established publisher to capitalize on the underground comix movement (much like Marvel’s Comix Book), but I have a hard time seeing this racked along with popular fiction in supermarket bookracks. I’m supposing it was targeted at bookstores near colleges, or maybe just shelved in whatever “adult interests” category your larger bookstores had.

Then again, this was the early seventies, and maybe people just weren’t so, you know, uptight, maaaaan. Basically, I’m picturing that the streets were filled with naked people, flowers in their hair, smoking dope, and freely sharing their underground comix with their whole families. …Please don’t tell me if I’m wrong.

Usually one cruel would be enough.

§ June 26th, 2011 § Filed under adam west, paperbacks, swamp thing § 13 Comments

Here’s another paperback acquired in the same collection as the Batman TV show tie-in book I recently featured here: a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents reprint paperback from 1966:

I hadn’t known this even existed. It reprints the story in black and white, about two panels per page. I couldn’t scan this bit (and the book is already sold, so I can’t double-check it) but one of the text pages inside described this as “camp adventure,” or words to that effect. To be frank, I’m no T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents connoisseur, but I always got the impression it was played more or less straight. Was it knowing high-camp comedy/satire all this time? …Or maybe it was camp because it was unintentionally goofy while still being played straight (case in point: the covers above). Or are superheroes just intrinsically camp, because, you know, c’mon. Or am I reading too much into a blatant coattail-riding of the Batman TV show’s success with its camp formula? At any rate, I know a few T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents fans who wouldn’t care for that characterization.

Let the hair-splitting begin!

• • •

Speaking of that Batman book, reader Pietro sent me a photo he took at a flea market in his home country of Italy, featuring an Italian version of what he believes to be the same book:

Pietro notes that the title translates as “The Three Cruel,” which is grammatically odd if still pretty awesome. Thanks for the picture, Pietro!

• • •

So I was in a Twitter conversation about Superman: The Movie and Superman II with Daniel and Max, and as these things usually go with me, the topic of Swamp Thing found its way into the mix. As a result, Daniel generated this fine piece of Swamp art:

The world is just a little bit more beautiful today.


§ June 11th, 2008 § Filed under paperbacks § 1 Comment

I do have a library in the house, with overflowing bookshelves. Primarily, though, the books tend to be hardcovers or comic strip collections or graphic novels. I have yet to put out my collection of plain ol’ standard issue paperback novels, as I need to build some special shelving for them and I just haven’t done it yet. In the meantime, they languish, alone and afraid in the dark, packed away in boxes and stored in the upstairs closet of horror and lament.

On Monday, when I was goin’ through some of the boxes stored away in that closet, I went through the book boxes as well, and pulled out a few items of some minor interest.

First is this, a first printing of the initial installment of the long-running Wild Cards shared universe superhero saga (published in…well, it’s copyrighted “January 1987,” but I’m pretty sure it was out in late ’86):

Boy, my copy of this is in crappy shape. I read the thing tons of times. And I have a preference for this particular cover style…later volumes (and later printings) would use Tim Truman covers, among others, which is fine. I just liked the…peculiarity of the original images. (You can decide for yourself with this Wild Cards cover gallery.)

By the way, my main purpose for pulling this out of the box is to lend it to Employee Aaron, who’s been jonesing to read this series but has been having trouble getting his hands on the first volume, and who will also face dire consequences should anything happen to my book while it’s in his possession.

I also had a thing for movie novelizations, which is…weird, admittedly, but for several years I actively sought them out, even for films I hadn’t seen and even had no intention of seeing.

Like I said, weird.

I did see this film, on a double-bill with The Goonies, no less (and the novelization for which I also had, ’til I gave it to pal Corey…no relation to any Corey that may have been in the film):

This adaptation was written by George Gipe, who also wrote the adaptations for Gremlins and Back to the Future) (which, ahem, I also own, sadly enough). Just on a whim, I thought I’d look up Mr. Gipe on the interweb, and see what else he may have done…

…and, whoa, turns out he died in ’86, from complications from a bee sting. Wow, that came as a surprise. That’s too bad. Mr. Gipe also worked on a couple of Steve Martin movies, and wrote the novelization for Melvin and Howard.

Now here’s a novelization I’ve mentioned on the site once or twice before, but I don’t think I’ve whipped out a scan of the cover for you. It is the one, the only, the astounding Howard the Duck movie adaptation:


I had a habit of saving bookstore receipts and using them as bookmarks…and it turns out the receipt for this book was still in it, 22 years later. So, here you go, proof someone spent CASH MONEY on this novel:

Exact change, even. Yeah, I was one of those kids.

Other novelizations I have or had: Buckaroo Banzai (liked it much better than the movie…but still sold it for an obscene amount of money on the eBay), Tron (I think I didn’t see the movie for years after I’d read the book…I’ve yet to watch the film straight through from beginning to end, in fact), Raiders of the Lost Ark (mentioned before on the site that this book had “variant foil covers” — really just different colors of covers you could choose from), The Black Hole (boy, I was fascinated with this film, even though it’s crap…well, except for the kick-ass robots), all the Star Trek and Star Wars films (I think it was Return of the Jedi where they actually spelled out all of R2D2’s tweets and whistles: “‘ArooopTWEETwheeee!’ exclaimed Artoo”), the first three Halloween movies (hand-me-downs from the parents…apparently there’s a book for the fourth film, too)…

…and, of course, novelizations for the first Swamp Thing movie (written by Len Wein) and the second, Return of the Swamp Thing, written by Peter David (who included several characters named after assorted Swamp Thing artists and writers).

Any particular novelizations you folks out there have a fondness for? (Or can’t believe you own…I’d like to hear that, too!)
(Updated 6/2017)