Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bananas Magazine

Does anyone remember "Bananas" magazine by Scholastic? It was one of my favorite humor magazines growing up. It was edited by "Jovial" Bob Stine, who later went on to write the long-running and very popular "Goosebumps" book series under the moniker of R.L. Stine!

Anyway, "Bananas" lasted from 1975-1984 and published 72 issues, but about 15 or so assorted pocket-sized paperbacks, and annuals and specials.

"Mad" magazine Art Director Sam Viviano worked at "Bananas" before graduating to "Mad" and said that it was a fun place to work. When they canceled "Bananas", Scholastic allowed the magazine to return briefly as "Maniac", but the momentum was gone and "Maniac" was gone after six issues, even though it was basically the same magazine, albeit in black and white.

Scholastic of course produced a few other popular magazines including "Dynamite" and "Wow", but "Bananas" will always be the favorite of mine.

Elmer Gantry

When I saw Shirley Jones last week at the Castro, it was part of a TCM series about classic movies. That night, they showed "Elmer Gantry". I had seen the film before, but never on the big screen and the added dimension of the film really helped the film pack a wallop.

Everyone did an excellent job in the film from Burt Lancaster to Jean Simmons to Shirley herself. Even Edward Andrews who typically does a one-note character of a blustery, flustery guy in the best Fred Clark or Joe Flynn fashion, actually turns out a much meatier, slimier performance than is typical for him.

The basic story is about a con man named Elmer Gantry (Lancaster) using his wiles as a mock preacher in order to attain the affections of any number of women. Simmons is the latest in the long line of his conquests who happens to lead a traveling sermon group. Meanwhile, a prostitute (Jones) knows the true Gantry and is determined to expose him as a fraud. You have to watch the rest to see how it turns out.

I highly recommend seeing this film even if you can't see it on the big screen, it is still well worth watching.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Harveyville Fun Times! #75 is Ordered!

After a too long delay, I just ordered the approved copies of "The Harveyville Fun Times!" #75. This is my final issue as Editor and Publisher as Ben Samuels will be taking over with #76.

If you were a subscriber up through about issue #72 or #73, you will receive this issue automatically some time in late May or early June. And, if you purchase this at Lee's Comics, I will be bringing copies by as soon as I get them. Otherwise, let me know if you want this final issue. It will be $10 post-paid.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No Doubt

I've always liked the band No Doubt ever since I heard their breakout hit "Don't Speak" from their "Tragic Kingdom" album. For some reason, in later years, I sold all of their CDs (although I only had a couple of their albums) in favor of their greatest hits CDs.

For those familiar with Rasputin's, they offer a lot of CDs by good artists many times for only $2 or $3, so in this age of digital downloading, I have been securing entire albums for almost nothing. They also have this deal that if you buy 3, you get the 4th one free.

So, that's where No Doubt comes in. Guess who has all of their albums for only $2 each (including the Gwen Stefani solo albums)? That's right, it's No Doubt! So, I bought them all and was soon back in ska and hip-hop heaven....

I hope they finally do decide to record and release another album soon. Even Gwen's last solo album came out five years ago....

I saw them perform the Beatles medley in their Beatles suits on the Kennedy Center Honors late last year for Paul McCartney and they were as excellent as ever, so come on guys (and gal)....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back to the Future, Part IV?

I have been rewatching the "Back to the Future" trilogy that I've recently purchased on DVDs. Although flawed in its logic somewhat, it's still a vastly entertaining set of movies. I like every one of them. The first one was and is still probably the best, but the second and third ones aren't too bad, either.

When the first movie came out in 1985, I did not want to see it. Not because I don't like time travel movies or science-fiction movies or comedies, but because of Michael J. Fox. Fox at the time to me consistently played a series of assholes and jerks and I just didn't particularly care for his personality. For examples of this personality, check out the movie "Midnight Madness" or the episode of "Night Court" where he plays a teenage hoodlum. Even his role in "Family Ties" was somewhat jerky and I was not a fan of the series at the time.

My friend Bob from high school had seen "Back to the Future" upon the first day of release in 1985 and absolutely loved it, and insisted that I see it. I resisted at first, but then agreed, figuring that I liked Christopher Lloyd from "Taxi", so I'd focus on him. We saw it together (he for the second time) in 1985, and of course, the rest is history. I wouldn't be owning the DVDs or writing about it now if I didn't love these movies.

Leonard Maltin proclaims the second movie the weakest of the trilogy, but I still love it. What's interesting about this film is that it's speculative future, set in the year 2015. Amazingly, some of the futuristic gimmicks actually exist now! There is a version of the flat-screen TV, and a 3-D hologram.

Some things didn't come true, like we still don't have hoverboards, nor did they make 19 "Jaws" films, but since the films established that the past and the future could be altered, it doesn't really matter.

Now, since this film is set in 2015 (and you probably already know where I'm going with this), they should do a fourth film to be released in 2015!!! I know Michael J. Fox is not in optimum health these days, but I think he could do it (or at least peripherally, and then hand it off to a younger actor), and of course Christopher Lloyd and virtually everyone else from the original cast is still around. Unfortunately, Wendie Jo Sperber is no longer with us.

If they don't make it, it's no great loss, especially if they have a lousy story, but with the advancements of special effects since 1990 (the year of the third film), think of the things they could do. They could go even farther into the future or just really jump around to the 60s, 70s, 90s or whenever...

I found this "Part IV" logo online because I know I am not original in thinking of a fourth movie, but the 2015 thing is an intriguing reason to finally do one....we shall see....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Castro Theatre Photos

Since I took pictures of the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, I figured I'd post them here. The Castro is one of least three great theatres in the San Francisco Bay Area. The other's being the California in San Jose and the Stanford in Palo Alto.

Rather than blather on about it, I'll just post the photos here of the interior and the exterior to give you a flavor of how great this theater looks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shirley Jones

I saw Shirley Jones last night at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. I have always been a fan of Jones since the "Partridge Family" days and love her film and musical work. The event at the Castro was put on by TCM and featured a free showing of "Elmer Gantry", an excellent film that Jones won an Oscar. If you think of Jones just as Mrs. Partridge, you might be in for a biiiiggg surprise when you see this role...

Anyway, Jones at once was elegant, friendly, conversational and really engaged her audiences with great stories about this and a few other of her movies. At 77 years of age, she is still strikingly beautiful. I am posting the best two photos I took for now and may be posting a few more in the next few days.

I hope that there are more of these types of events and I highly recommend you attend events like these that truly do feature living legends.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quality is Hard Work!

Longtime fans and friends know that I have a tendency to churn out a lot of material on my own. I published 75 issues of "The Harveyville Fun Times!" in 20 years. In recent times, I have been trying to be more conscientious about quality vs. quantity. I am an impatient person at heart and like to get things completed. I hate doing things twice, but I've realized that sometimes the best projects need to be worked on more than once or more than a few times before completion.

Later issues of "The Harveyville Fun Times!" attest to this. The early issues were black and white, poorly laid out and had no explicit formatting other than cramming the width of the page with as much information as possible. The final issues were actually laid out properly by a trained graphic artist and were in color.

I've had the same struggles recently with my Beatles book. I printed up a sample copy with the intention that if everyone seemed to have liked it, it would be what I would issue. Comments were raised about the cover image and also the interior formatting. While I tend to get argumentative on the subject when criticized, I know deep down that many of these critics are right.

That's not saying I'm a pushover. There are some changes I won't do, such as on the revised cover, I put the title "Mark Arnold Picks on The Beatles" in the same font, look and style as The Beatles' "White Album". For some reason, some people don't like this. My argument is that I'm not a known enough quantity to put out a book yet without my name on the cover. In fact, this is the first time my name is in the title of the book!

I did with reluctancy redo the cover and recolored it with help and now it looks like this version. I must say that if you kick me in the pants, sometimes I do a much better job.

Now I'm working on the interiors. reformatting it into two columns. A lot of work, but it will pay off in the end. I'm so anxious to get things done, but now I am striving for quality, not quantity, and if it takes me longer to do to get it right, so be it...

Archie Book Out Today?

I was told yesterday that this book was coming out today. This is the Archie book that Craig Yoe has been working on that I helped out with on various information. Now Amazon says it's not out until July 12th. Hmmm.....

What I suggest is to go to your local comic book shop and demand this book! Tell them you want to see it, and you never know, they may pull it out behind the counter...

...or you might have to wait until July.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Band On the Run Remastered AGAIN

I finally purchased the newly remastered version of Paul McCartney's "Band On the Run" that came out last year. I delayed because this is now the fifth or sixth time I have purchased this album on CD, even more if you count the LP version and of course, there's the three singles from the album ("Band On the Run", "Jet" and sometimes "Helen Wheels").

I hesitated because I hate buying the same album over and over and over. These artists love reissuing everything and adding extra tracks and/or remastering them. So, the big to-do about this version is that it has a second CD with some demo versions and a DVD that has the until-now-unavailable "One Hand Clapping" film.

Was it worth the wait? Probably not, but here it is. They also tacked on the videos associated with the album, but still have them cropped as they did on "The McCartney Years" DVD collection from a few years back. Oh well.

The CD has a small flyer promising revamped versions of "McCartney", "Venus and Mars", "McCartney II", "Ram", "Wings at the Speed of Sound" and "Wings Over America". These better be chock full of goodies as the single b-sides associated with these albums have already been issued as bonus tracks before. It would be nice if "Wings Over America" had the complete "Rock Show" movie, but we'll see. Of course, there are plenty of outtakes from these eras like "Indeed I Do", "All You Horseriders", "Mr. H Atom", "Blue Sway" and more. Not that all of these songs are necessarily worthy of release, but at this point they should be anyway...

The photo above features all the different variations you can buy...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dick Tracy Interview for "THFT!" #76

Although I have stepped down as Editor and Publisher of "The Harveyville Fun Times!", I am still going to write for future issues including this article about "Dick Tracy" for "THFT!" #76, the first issue edited and published by Ben Samuels.

Longtime fans of "THFT!" should know who Mike Curtis and Joe Staton are. Both have been interviewed in previous issues. Curtis was a writer for Harvey Comics during the 1980s during the Alan Harvey regime through the beginning of the Jeff Montgomery era. His most durable contribution was his "Map of the Various Harvey Lands" among many "Richie Rich" stories.

Staton is not a Harvey veteran, but was interviewed in "THFT!" for his tenure as artist on the DC version of the "Scooby-Doo" comic book. "Scooby-Doo" was published by Harvey at one time, but it consisted entirely of reprints from Charlton save for brand new covers drawn by Scott Shaw!

"Dick Tracy", the comic strip by Chester Gould, made its debut in the newspapers in October 1931. Gould continued with the strip until 1977 and a few different hands have worked on the strip over the years until March 14, 2011, when Curtis and Staton took over. Staton and Curtis are assisted by Shelley Pleger and Shane Fisher, who respectively ink and color the Sunday strips.

"Dick Tracy" has also been a comic book published by many publishers over the years, including a lengthy run at Harvey from 1950-1961; a run lasting over 100 issues. Most recently, Gladstone reprinted "Dick Tracy" in 1991, but comic book reprinting has given way to IDW's masterful treatment of reprinting every strip in chronological order from 1931 in hardbound volumes since 2007. Currently, they are up through the mid-1940s and show no sign of stopping.

Curtis and Staton recently spoke with me about "Dick Tracy", how they got the assignment and their plans and it will appear soon in "THFT!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Steve Ditko

I tried to interview Ditko for my upcoming "Cracked" book. I figured that maybe Ditko didn't like to be interviewed about Spider-Man, but probably didn't care about
"Cracked", so he'd talk about that.

He sent me back a hand-written postcard stating: "I'm sorry, I can't provide the information you are looking for. S.D."

For those who don't know, Ditko drew "Robot Wars" for "Cracked" for about 3 years in the late 80s when Mort Todd (Michael Delle-Femine)was editor. Todd told me that even though Ditko gives the appearance of not talking and being reclusive, he in fact, is quite opinionated about things (including Spider-Man) and basically wouldn't shut up
when provoked into stating his opinions. He just does not relish the spotlight and feels that his artwork speaks for itself.

Actually, Todd regrets that he never recorded these conversations and that he never got Ditko to do a cover for "Cracked" at the time. He might have convinced him to
do a Spidey cover...

He just never wanted to piss Ditko off for fear that Ditko would walk. Once Todd quit "Cracked", Ditko did as well, and that was the end of their association there, but he did get Ditko to draw a cover for Marvel's "Curse of the Weird" and "Monster Menace" reprint series.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Stan Lee Photos

Here are photos of Stan Lee, the line and Todd P. Emerson from last Saturday...enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Me and Stan Lee!

Thanks to my friend Todd P. Emerson for snapping this quick pic of me with Stan Lee while he's signing my Marvel book at Comic Collector Shop. I didn't really have time to converse or anything as there were hundreds of fans behind me. It was really an assembly line sort of thing.

I don't regret it, because it may be the last time I see Stan Lee, but man he has great energy for someone whose 88!

Anyway, if you do get a chance to Lee is The Beatles of comics.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Captain America is 70

So, I saluted Joe Simon for being 97, but I forgot to mention that his co-creation, Captain America, turns 70 this year!!

Simon created Cap with artist Jack Kirby, who is considered comic book artist par excellence among comic book collectors.

Marvel did a nice thing this year by reissuing the first issue of "Captain America" from 1941 in a nice, recolored version that makes it look like a modern comic book! Some may quibble about this upgrading, but you can seek out an original if you want. It's only worth about a quarter of a million dollars in mint!

Anyway, the comic also is complete with recolored versions of the long forgotten backup features as well: "Hurricane" and "Tuk Caveboy"!

I like these redone versions and I hope that it starts a trend. It makes something old look new again!

Here's Joe Simon

Yesterday, I blogged about Mr. Peanut's 95th birthday and I made a reference to Captain America co-creator Joe Simon, that he turned 95 last year. Well, here he is, truly the elder statesman of comic books. Simon is now 97 and will be 98 on October 11, having been born in 1913!

I'm seeing Stan Lee today, but he's a virtual youngun' at a mere 88 years old!

PS There is, of course, another Joe Simon who's an R&B relation, and he's only 67!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Look Who's 95

You know who turns 95 this year? No, it's not Joe Simon. He turned 95 last year. Why, it's Mr. Peanut, the mascot from Planter's Peanuts. Yay!

As a child, I LOOOOVVVEEEEDDD Mr. Peanut. My mom used to buy the small baggies of nuts and then send off for various items with Mr. Peanut on them: coloring books, banks, cups, pens, whatever. I enjoyed them all and still own most of them. Some I had to throw away as the plastic wasn't the strongest and they broke or I drew in the coloring books so hard that the pages fell out.

So, anyway, Happy Birthday, Mr. Peanut! What is your first name, anyway? Bertram?

Giants Home Opener Today

Normally, I don't get so excited about stuff like this, but the Giants DID win the World Series last year. Now, the likelihood of them repeating is somewhat remote given that even the best of teams (Yankees) rarely have back-to-back winning seasons anymore. In fact, it was the Yankees who did. The last National League team that did was the Reds way back in the mid-70s.

Now, what I remember from my childhood is the A's having back-to-back-to-BACK championships (72-73-74). I loved that team, and then free agency came in and ruined it. It's funny because many Giants fans are not A's fans, even though the teams play a stone's throw away.

In football here, there's the ongoing 49ers/Raiders rivalry. You are always considered weird if you like both or one over the other.

Liking sports teams is weird anyway, because there is absolutely no loyalty on the player's behalf. You would think that if you had just won the World Series, you would want to stay with a winning team, but no, the player's leave for more money at some other team and ruin a team's chances for a repeat.

Anyway, I'm rooting for the Giants no matter what they do this year, but I still like the A's too, so there...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Stan the Man in the House! Woop-woop!

It's the great Stan Lee, the co-creator of some of today's most popular superheroes including Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. Stan will be making a rare appearance this Saturday. April 9 at Comic Collector Shop, 568 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale. Call (650) 956-8272 to purchase your $35 autograph ticket. I will be there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Wondercon Aftermath

I was too tired to write anything yesterday. My brain was fried from Wondercon after working there all weekend. I worked at Lee's Comics booth and also had books for sale at my friend Greg Beda's booth. I actually sold 3 copies of my TTV book!

I went around with my Beatles book and the consensus opinion is that the original Bill Morrison cover was much better than the replacement I put on my proof copy. After agreeing to this, I will reinstate the original cover, but will use assistance in the coloring by Greg mentioned above.

I want the Beatles book to look the best, so delaying it a little longer to get it right is ok...

At Wondercon, I bought some very cheap Archie original art by the recently-retired Stan Goldberg who has been at Archie for over 50 years. I also got a few more signatures for my Marvel book including Lou "Hulk" Ferrigno. He was very gracious and has a (expected) monster grip in his handshake.

I also saw friends, but was really busy over the weekend. What surprised me is the return of people actually buying comic books after about a 3-4 year hiatus. Lee's has always had fair grading and prices, but sales had slowed significantly over the past few years. Not anymore. People were snapping up many of the higher-priced wall books including many "Journey Into Mystery" books, probably in time for the upcoming "Thor" movie.

Next, is the Stan Lee signing this Saturday at Comic Collector Shop. More on that later.

Saturday, April 02, 2011


I will be at Wondercon all day today and tomorrow. If you are going, I will be working at Lee's Comics booth, so stop by and say hi...

Friday, April 01, 2011

Alter Ego #100

I suggest going out and getting a copy of "Alter Ego" #100. It has a great tribute to the living legend Roy Thomas, with some comments provided by yours truly.

My friend Jerry Boyd has really gone over the top to bring you this classy article.

"Alter Ego" is on sale now at better comic book stores everywhere.

My New Beatles Book is In!

I got my proof copy of my Beatles book last night. Although, there's still a few technical glitches with the cover and I have to get the bar code and ISBN number, overall (if I may say so myself) it looks great!

To order an advance copy of "Mark Arnold Picks On The Beatles", you can get it for the special advance price of $30, and I will even sign it! The 425-page book will retail for $39.95.

To get your advance copy, Paypal me at

Please mention that it is for "Mark Arnold Picks On The Beatles" in the subject line.