Sunday, May 29, 2011

Might as well plug the Beatles book too

Well, my Beatles book still isn't up yet on Amazon, but not to worry. If you want to order it, it's available now through Just search for the title "Mark Arnold Picks On The Beatles" and it'll be there. This book has a lengthier genesis than the two Cracked books, mainly because I started it sooner (2007) and put it on the shelf as I completed my TTV and Cracked books and my final issues of "The Harveyville Fun Times!" Now, they're all done and I'm bored...not really. I'm starting work on a Disney book and there are other books in the planning, as well as I'm doing commentary for some upcoming Shout Factory DVD releases. Above is the front, spine and back cover to my Beatles book.

It's what happened from the 50s to the late 80s

In the long tradition of this author, I'm going to review my own book. Of course, I'm going to give it five stars. It took so long for me to produce -- 2 1/2 years! I interviewed over 80 creators from the original Cracked, mazagine and indexed every magazine and book they ever produced. So much it had to be split into TWO VOLUMES! The other one is here: If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The History of Cracked Mazagine, Part Too Enjoy! Buy Me! (an old Cracked phrase), and tell me what you think...

It's what happened from the late 80s to the present

In the long tradition of this author, I'm going to review my own book. Of course, I'm going to give it five stars. It took so long for me to produce -- 2 1/2 years! I interviewed over 80 creators from the original Cracked, mazagine and indexed every magazine and book they ever produced. So much it had to be split into TWO VOLUMES! The other one is here: If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The History of Cracked Mazagine, Part Won Enjoy! Buy Me! (an old Cracked phrase), and tell me what you think...

The BEST Archie History Book So Far...

I did help out Craig Yoe with this book, but it is not why it is the best. It would have been the best even without my help. Craig has strived...striven? ok, Yoe has made sure that he gave ample coverage to virtually all of the major Archie artists and writers over the years, something no other collection has done. While I truly regard Dan De Carlo as one of the greats, most Archie volumes give him praise if they give anyone praise, truly overlooking a lot of the other talents including Bob Montana and my favorite, Harry Lucey! Even the writers are covered at great length such as George Gladir. There is not only coverage of the comic books, but of the radio shows, TV shows, and The Archies singing group! Yoe has even created pages of his top 10 favorite Archie covers in various categories. Not an easy feat since there are over 5000 Archie covers at this point, over 600 on the main Archie title alone. So please buy and enjoy. It's a very handsome looking book even if you are only a casual fan. This will make you a fan!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Even More on Richie Rich

Scoop!, the weekly email newsletter from Diamond Distribution reported that the new "Richie Rich" #1 has sold out, and is going into a reprint. This stirred even more controversy on the Richie Rich's Vault as everyone reasoned that of course it sold out because it was a #1, and everyone was curious and print runs on comics are lower than then they used to be.

Of course, none of these publishers really have had any faith in anything Harvey since the early 90s. No Harvey related series has lasted more than a handful of issues, regardless of sales... Let's take a look:

1. Casper and Friends Magazine - 3 issues

2. Harvey, the Magazine for Children - 7 issues

3. Harvey Comics Classics - 5 books (3 books did sell out, but 2 of those were never reissued (Richie Rich and Hot Stuff))

4. Harvey Comics Treasury - 2 books (with a 3rd planned that probably won't come out (Richie Rich), because these sold particularly poorly.)

5. Casper and the Spectrals - 3 issues (with a year gap between issues 1 and 2)

6. Richie Rich (new series) - 4 issues (and a FCBD edition)

and of course, there have been a few one-shots here and there...

I STILL think that they way to reintroduce Harvey Comics to children is to give it over to the amazing Archie Comics and let them produce digest reprints with maybe one or two new stories and distribute them to grocery stores, but who listens to me. I've been saying that since 1994...

I will say that at my local Lee's Comics, the Richie Rich did sell out and I polled a few people that I know did buy and most said that they'd buy it again. In fact, at the Big Wow! Toy Show that I'm at this weekend, most were commenting on how appalling Sid and Ernie's story was, compared to the rest of the book...most were happy with the reboot with the most negative comment being that the new story would be confusing for small children. The old Harveys always had arrows that told you where to go and not too much dialogue.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cracked Book Press Release

Woo-Hoo!!! FINALLY, after 2 1/2 years, here it is...the press release for my Cracked book...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well, Should the Rapture Not Happen This Friday....

Come see me at the Big Wow! Supercon in San Jose at the San Jose Convention Center, Hall 3
150 West San Carlos St. San Jose. I will have a table selling my books this Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and say hi!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thor Not a Bore!

I saw the previews for "Thor", the new Marvel Comics superhero film and was not impressed. It looked as if it would be a boring time. I heard some good reviews, so I decided to chance it and after a requisite space battle, the story settled into a very fun and amusing groove that had me riveted. There were many doses of humor and action and the whole thing held together very well and everyone did a good job. People have said that it's not as good as "Iron Man", but better than "Iron Man 2". Well, I liked "Iron Man" 1 and 2 equally and like this as well. Make sure to stay through the closing credits....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac has been around forever, but I've tended to pay attention to the most popular era of their history, the Lindsay Buckingham-Stevie Nicks years. I have started to check out albums that I've ignored over the years and found two from vastly different eras, that I've really enjoyed. One is "Future Games" from 1971, and the other is "Time" from 1995.

All of them have Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie, but everyone else is different. The main thing that I've discovered is that there is an overall consistent quality in Fleetwood Mac's music, no matter what the era, but I tend to give the nod to the post-Peter Green, pre-Buckingham-Nicks era from approximately 1970-1974. There is some really progressive and great sounding stuff. Other albums from that time include "Heroes are Hard to Find", "Kiln House", "Penguins", "Mystery to Me", "Bare Trees" (another favorite), etc. etc. A very productive time.

In any case, it proves time and again why Fleetwood Mac is a great band. I enjoy the new sounds each time I hear a new album that I've never heard before.

Sharks Win!

What a nail biter. After being ahead 3-0, the San Jose Sharks in hockey screwed up and went into last nights game tied at 3-3!

Fortunately, it was not a repeat of the classic Yankees-Red Sox play-offs in baseball where the Yankees were ahead 3-0, and then the Red Sox won the series at 4-3! (Incidentally, I was rooting for the Sox all the way that year!)

So, the Sharks won, everyone can exhale and they are onto the next level!

More Richie Rich Stuff

Yeah, yeah I know, there's been too much Richie Rich stuff on my blog, lately. Anyway, there's one more thing to report. The first issue as shown the other day is also available in an alternate 70s retro gold cover vaguely resembling the old "Richie Rich Vaults of Mystery" covers. This shows the cover but it is white but the actual issue has a wraparound gold-ish cover that's somewhat hard to scan and reproduce here.

Anyway, if interested, be on the lookout for this. If you already are against the new "Richie Rich" series, this won't help...

"Priest" is Paint By Numbers

Hey kid! You like "The Matrix"? You like movies with vampires? You like 3-D? You like "The Road Warrior"? You like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"? You like the motorcycles in "Tron"?

Then, this movie is for you.

Otherwise, beware!!!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

More on Richie Rich and Change

More from Richie Rich's Vault by me:

Change is NOT always good. For those who wish this series a short life, don't buy it. It will go away. And if it doesn't, you still don't have to buy it. These comics aren't for anyone age 30+. Buy more issues from the past that you're missing, or more original art if you have them all, or re-read your comics and relive fond memories of days gone by of an era that cannot and will not be created again. Recreating Harvey Comics exactly the way they were done in the past is tantamount to getting all four Beatles together for a reunion. It can't be done. There was a time that it could, but now I'm convinced that that time has past. It's a shame, but I feel it's true.

And for those who prefer the Silver Age above all others, then fortunately the comics still exist in original or reprint form for you to enjoy.

I STILL prefer the Richie Rich of the late 60s and 70s even over this new version, but know that it is no longer possible to completely reproduce that era of the past, partially because of reality (many of the creators are dead or elderly) and partially because of the times (we just don't and can't make comics like that anymore).

Hindsight also plays a lot into things. We probably didn't appreciate the Silver Age as it was happening (although it was over by the time I was a child) or Harvey as it was publishing, but we do now, since it's over, and in a finite group of years.

However, if you are going to try something new using old characters, the writing and the artwork must be good. I feel that the redux of Richie Rich works because it's tailor-fit for today's audiences who prefer style over substance, gloss over quaintness. If you don't agree, then like I said, don't read it. It will go away. Compare the two stories in the new "Richie Rich" #1.

And I know that there are people (though probably not in this group), who think today's comics are better and grittier than the stodgy stuff that was produced back then during the Silver Age, and like and prefer the anime/manga look of today's comics. They probably also prefer the glossy pages of today's comics and not the old off-register comics printed on yellowing newsprint.

I STILL like the look and the feel of these new Casper and Richie Rich books, much more so than the Casper of the "Scare School" and the Richie Rich of the Hanna-Barbera "Richie Rich". Is it my favorite version of Richie Rich? No. But I was surprised and did like this "Richie Rich" and "Casper and the Spectrals" better than expected.

And for those of you who might think I blindly like anything Harvey, I do, to a point, partially because I have to. I will say some Harvey things I absolutely detest, in no particular order, though I may have had some kind things to say about them from time to time, due to desperately wanting anything new and good by Harvey, and I may, in time, revise my opinions about these new books, should something better come along later. Yeah, yeah. I'm wishy-washy...

1. Casper and the Angels
2. Casper's Scare School (DVD movie and series)
3. Hanna-Barbera's Richie Rich
4. Baby Huey's Easter Adventure
5. Jack Sparling's and Tony Tallarico's work on the Harvey Thrillers in lieu of using Jim Steranko (!)
6. Jeff Montgomery's Harvey Comics
7. Macaulay Culkin as Richie Rich (though I still like the movie)
8. Harvey, the Magazine for Children
9. Joe Dennett's artwork
10. Starting "Casper" and "Little Audrey" over at #1 back in the 50s.
11. Sid Jacobson's claims that he created everything
12. The unfair treatment to Harvey in archival editions in comparison to Archie (Harvey's truest peer comic publisher)
13. The "It's a g-g-g-g-ghost" version of Casper
14. "Richie Rich and New Kids on the Block"
15. "Wendy and New Kids on the Block"
16. Billy Bellhops
17. Changing the music and the dialogue on the old Harveytoons
18. Hot Stuff fashions and underwear
19. Little Lottie
20. The "Bunny" movie (yeah, I know it was never made, but it probably would have been bad)

Richie Rich and Remakes

I posted this on the "Richie Rich's Vault" Yahoo group, but figured that other people might want to read my views:

I kind of figured everyone would be predominantly against the changes. I've realized many, many years ago, that the reason for the reverence for the old designs of ANY cartoon or comic book character is that they are and were a product of their time, and of each individual's childhoods. As a result, we revere the old designs primarily because they AREN'T being made anymore rather than if the new designs or concepts or stories are any good or not. We feel comfortable with what we are familiar with and are not willing to accept significant changes to "our characters".

I've seen these arguments countless times on blogs and boards with things like the recent CGI "Yogi Bear" film, any other live-action remakes of animated cartoons, and the revising of characters like Captain "Shazam!" Marvel, etc. etc. ad infinitum. I'm sure there were detractors back in the 1940s when Mickey Mouse started wearing more clothes and developed pupils in his pupils.

Overall, my assessment is typical of what has happened to Harvey since 1990, when Alan Harvey sold the company. The constant reinventing of the characters with no real connection to the past. There is this thinking with the powers-that-be that hold the copyrights (in this case, Classic Media), that the reason these characters aren't being purchased in the way they once were, is because children are tired of the older designs and concepts. This is in lieu of truly looking at the fundamental flaw at how these characters are marketed and distributed, and have been for the past 20-30 years.

I suppose to some the disconnect is good, that it does offer a fine line to those who cherish the past, knowing that they don't have to collect any more new stuff and for those who don't like the old stuff, it gives them a "Richie Rich" or a "Casper" ("Casper and the Spectrals") for their age.

Now, do I like the changes? In this case, frankly, yes. At the same time, it's not the Richie of yore and it is a shame that even with the nod to the past with a new story by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon that new talents weren't ever considered to write and draw new cartoons in the "old" style. And, it's a shame that Jacobson and Colon's story wasn't that good, either, making the old style seem especially quaint. Honestly, I liked the new stories better.

In the case of "Spider-Man", as was mentioned, there has been a constant evolution over the years, so it doesn't seem as jarring to some fans. In the Richie case, it is more like the new look Archies which seem to have come out of left field. Although I have to admit, I prefer the Dan DeCarlo based Archie design from the 50s and 60s, better than the original Bob Montana design from the 40s. To each his or her own, I suppose.

With Harvey, I much prefer the Warren Kremer design better than the Steve Muffatti design and in the case of Richie Rich, I much prefer the adventure Richie of the late 60s and 70s, much better than the obsession of wealth gags that predated them, although were the original concept.

In the case of Casper, I much prefer the adventures he had from the late 60s and 70s, much better than the original "It's a g-g-g-ghost" Casper of the Paramount Famous Studios films. I've ready every Casper comic from the start to the end and STILL prefer the stories created from the late 60s to the early 70s. The ones I happen to have read first when I was a child.

That isn't always the case. I used to HATE characters like Little Dot and Little Lotta and didn't understand their purpose, until I read the earlier stuff from before I was born, and found that they were much, much better.

Of course I'm rambling, but overall, I think that every character of any renown has undergone changes and either you accept the changes or you don't. If you like Richie Rich, period, you collect it all, regardless of the changes. If you like Richie Rich of a particular period, you collect that period. In 20 years time if this current version catches on, there may be fans that prefer THIS version to the ones you liked because it is a product of THEIR childhood, not yours.

Your Richie might have "jumped the shark" in 1960 when Richie got his own title, or 1966 or so, when adventure stories were introduced, or 1977 when they expanded to 32 titles every two months, or 1980 when the Hanna-Barbera "Richie Rich" debuted, or 1982 when the original Harvey company stopped published, or 1990 when Alan Harvey sold the company, or 1994 when Jeff Montgomery stopped publishing, or 1994 when the "Richie Rich" film came out, or 1996 when the Film Roman "Richie Rich" came out, or now.

Do that make the "new" Richie better or worse? It's a matter of opinion and not fact.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

It's Free Comic Book Day!

Yes, it's Free Comic Book Day and I will be there today working at Lee's Comics in Mountain View, CA, so stop by and say hi! There are something like 30 titles again this year and this is the 10th year of this annual tradition.

The event if you don't know was created by Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA. He saw that when Baskin-Robbins and Ben & Jerry's had free ice cream days, there were lines around the block, so inspiration struck as this would be a way to introduce new readers to comic books and also customers. Brilliant!

At first there were only about eight titles, but each year it has grown. Now many shops offer not only free comics, but also sales, signings, costume contests and other such stuff the cast of "Big Bang Theory" loves!

Some of the free comics themselves have become highly sought-after collector's items, mainly due to them having first appearances or limited print runs. Although the big ones this year will probably be the "Green Lantern" or the "Batman" one, I'll be looking forward to the new "Richie Rich" b/w "Kung Fu Panda" and the Archie "Pep Comics".

So, support your local comic shop today and every first Saturday in May.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

That's Silly...Now It's More Poignant...

King-Size Cracked #4

I am working feverishly doing final edits on my book "If You're Cracked, You're Happy, Part Too". It's the second volume of the the two-volume set that should be out in June! In the meantime, although I have it indexed, does anyone own and is willing to sell the above pictured magazine (er,..mazagine)? It's "King-Sized Cracked" #4 and it came out in 1970. If you have one of these, please let me know...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Doggie Diner!!!

Doggie Diner was a chain of hot dog restaurants that appeared all over the San Francisco Bay Area from 1949-1986. At its peak, there were over 30 restaurants all sporting a huge dog head affectionately known as the Doggie Diner head.

You can still see one head in circulation in its original location (almost) by the San Francisco Zoo. It has been restored and registered as a Landmark of some sort. The restaurant it sits by is no longer called Doggie Diner, however.

There is also a head at San Jose's Streetlight Records. There used to be a head that was part of the Museum of Modern Mythology, but they haven't been open in years, so I don't know its current whereabouts. And, if you go to Burning Man, they usually truck out three of the heads to the festivities in central Nevada.

I was in San Francisco on Saturday and saw three heads sitting unattended on a flatbed, so I took some photos and here they are. I also took photos with my friend Greg to show you relative sizes.

Dick Gregory

I saw comedian Dick Gregory at the New Living Expo in San Francisco on Saturday. For those who don't know, Gregory was the first black comedian to break into the mainstream, predating Bill Cosby by a couple of years. Gregory made a few comedy albums during the 1960s, but later became more into politics and health and even ran for President once.

Gregory was and is very funny, and he did tell some jokes, but his main point of being here was to give a talk about eating and living a healthy life. It must be working as Gregory is 79 years old and seems very fit.

He had three important keys to living a long and healthy life. 1) Keep physically active; 2) get enough sleep; and 3) drink a lot of water. He said that these are the three leading causes of death over cancer and heart disease.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Lee's Birthday, Dick Gregory and Other Stuff

I took some photos for my friend Lee of Lee's Comics birthday on Friday night and of comedian Dick Gregory at the Whole Life Expo in San Francisco on Saturday. Rather than write about it here without the photos (as my uploading cable is not with me), I will save this for the next few blog entries and give you an enticing preview of blogs of the future with these words.

So, check the blog (or Facebook) soon for more blog entries with photos.