Monday, November 20, 2017

An Open Secret, Part 1

An Open Secret
by Mark Alfred

            In 1969, a reader wrote to DC asking for a story on the people who knew Superman’s Secret Identity.  In the letter column of Superman #219, the editors replied:  “We assume you mean those who live on Earth in the present time.  If we were to include people of other worlds, the inhabitants of Kandor, the Phantom Zone villains, people of the future, and so on, the result wouldn’t be a story, but a whole library!”
            Before riffling through a few pages of that library, let’s briefly review the reasons given by Superman for so jealously guarding his secret.
            The most commonly heard reason is, he’s protecting his family and/or associates.  Many’s the time when the Man of Steel has “regretfully” told Lois Lane that he dare not marry her, for fear that criminals would harm her to get revenge on him. 
            Frankly, I wouldn’t want to run the actuarial tables on ANY of Superman’s near-and-dear.  They’re constantly being threatened, kidnapped, and so on.  Is Lois more safe from a wrathful underworld by virtue of being only Superman’s “girl friend,” not his wife?  Doubtful.
            Another handy use for Clark Kent, the guy who is DEFINITELY NOT Superman, becomes plain when a character tells the reporter something which they wouldn’t pass along to Superman.  This is similar to the concept that there are things you’d tell your barber, but not your wife.  One example of this practice is in Action #306, when Clark feigns amnesia to uncover “The Great Superman Impersonation.”
            I have always held that the most important benefit for the Clark/Supes split is that the Daily Planet reporter may interact with people on the same human level.  Kent is allowed preferences, likes and dislikes, and leisure time; a 24-hour Superman would encounter many problems trying to express such views.  Clark can relax with his friends as peers, freed for a moment from (dare I say it?) the world’s dependence on him.
            For a well-written and absorbing look at the Secret Identity question, read the fun, in-depth “Why Superman Needs a Secret Identity,” in Action #305.  (You may read my page-by-page posting and discussion of this classic Silver Age comic book, beginning here.)
            What a secret it has been, come to think of it.  One riff on the Kryptonian ode to duality is narrated in Action Comics #371-375.  Not even Superman knows his civilian identity, after he’s been zapped by an alien computer-ray machine.  After finally latching onto his own resemblance to Clark Kent, an exposure to Bizarro Amnesium restores his memory.

            With an eye to balance silliness with existential angst, in this article we'll survey a Bizarro’s Dozen (and more!) of my favorite Secret Identity stories and situations.

 End of Part One
See you next Monday for more!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Super Clothes #5

In this instalment of Super Clothes, we’ll take a look at some super PJs.

This long-sleeve flannel-esque getup is size 3T.  It’s by Billy the Kid, from the 1980s.  As an aside ... did you know that the first time the real Billy the Kid was arrested, it was for stealing clothes from a laundry?  Perhaps that story inspired the name of the clothing line!

This Superman pajama set has Velcro tabs for a cape.  No manufacturer label survives.  It’s size 7.  I like the depiction of Superman’s belt across the front of the shirt, don’t you?

Here’s something similar, also with cape tabs, but no belt art.  For a little more creativity, check out ...

This set is from PCA, size 5.  For the life of me, I’m not sure if the “fly back in time” is an attempt to reference the Back to the Future films.  To me the Super Phizzog is reminiscent of the work of Ross Andru, for instance this page from 1968’s Superman 204.

That’s all for this week, friends.  Come on back next Monday for who knows what!

Monday, November 06, 2017

New Book on "X-MEN: The Animated Series" Is Coming

This info is for everyone who likes superheroes, cartoons ("animation"), pop culture, or grew up watching FOX Kids Network in the early 1990s.

Previously on X-Men

Pre-Sale begins Oct. 31st

Previously on XMen by Eric Lewald
Previously on XMen by Eric Lewald

  Jacobs Brown Media Group/Jacobs Brown Press is pleased to announce Previously on XMen, The Making of an Animated Series by Eric Lewald is available for pre-sale beginning October 31, 2017.

    Previously on X-Men is Eric Lewald’s personal, inside account of how the series got on the air, the many challenges that were overcome, and how the show prevailed. The head writer interviewed 36 of the artists, writers, voice cast, and executives who helped make this game-changing series a worldwide success. This book is an authoritative look into the creation of the animated series that nobody expected to succeed. Lewald offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at the beloved Saturday-morning cartoon series.

   The hard cover book, over 460 pages and 300 images, is estimated to begin shipping November 10, 2017.   And, when you purchase through the Jacobs Brown store, will be autographed by the author, Eric Lewald.

To interview the author, or for additional information,


Folks, I edited this book.  It's a top-to-bottom chronicle of the step-by-step development of the X-MEN: TAS show, by the guy who done did it.  Or, at least, he brought together all the people who HELPED him do it.

There's also interview material with Wolverine creator Len Wein, especially notable since Wein's passing earlier this year.

I know that lots of you guys are interested in this kind of stuff.  Believe me, this book is chock-a-block full of insights and interviews.  It lays out the step-by-step processes which brought the show to your living room.

Author Erich Lewald, my temporary email buddy for this project, has done a great job giving YOU the straight poop on how things assembled, shook together, and grew.  I love the little reminiscences about struggles with animation companies, the saga of the different cast voices, and the struggle to get stories onto the air when aspects of a story might scare the "Standards" department.

Buy the book, and learn while having fun!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

2017 Blog-o-Ween Art Source

Here's the original source for this year's Blog-o-Ween image:
It's from Captain America #24, cover-dated March, 1943.

And the resulting image was:
As you can see, I performed the sacrilege of replacing the moon and the vampire's wings.

See you here on Monday for an exciting announcement of a new book!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Hallowe'en for 2017!

For our final trip to Halloween's magical land of memories and chills, some not-chilly photos from a long-ago scary evening.

 You might call the above photo "Frankenstein."
Which would make this one "Son of Frankenstein."  Not too spooky, but plenty of fun.

That sentiment is my wish for you, Fiends and Slaybors, Boils and Ghouls ...

Happy Halloween!

See you back here on Thursday with a brief note about the Blog-o-Ween header art.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Poem: "Mephitos"

This sonnet was inspired by Robert E Howard’s story “The Black Stone,” in which a foolish visitor to a mid-European country imperiously decides to investigate the horrific rumors about a certain standing stone.  This sarsen is rumored to have been the site of human sacrifices and the unholy worship of evil entities.


Engirded on each side by liches robed
In tattered cerements, you stand alone.
Your soul is penetrated, your eyes probed
By theirs as you reel stumbling from the stone.
The tale of how you came here flees your mind,
As reason’s tatters creep and drool away,
Until appearance only stays behind —
Although the watchers fade before the day
No trace of your volition lies intact:
The others with the sunrise have arrived
But you are no more theirs, in simple fact.
Your mind knows not that it is now deprived.

     You visited the Black Stone, as your right,
          But you trespassed upon Walpurgis Night.

copyright © 2017 by Mark Alfred

See you back here on Tuesday, the 31st, for the wrap-up to this year's Blog-o-Ween!  But in the meantime, head on over to Spock’s Record Round-Up for musical fun during Spooky Spock-Tober!
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© by Mark Alfred