Stuck at home sick, I pulled myself together enough to write a column on a passion of mine: comic books. Namely how, 50 years ago this month, I bought my first Marvel comic. Did I like it? Not exactly. Eventually, though, I became a fan. That’s the subject of my Wednesday column.
Mention in a couple of recent columns of the 1963 Bugs Bunny short “Transylvania 6-5000” prompted a note from reader and jazz musician Carl Schafer, who asks: “Did you at some point in your columns explain that it’s a play on words from the Glenn Miller instrumental ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’?” I didn’t, but I’m hep to the 1940s song and got the joke. If you didn’t, now you do. That link takes you to the history of the song; this one takes you to the recording.
Who says cartoons are stupid?
I pay tribute to Stan Lee, whose work I’ve followed for decades, in Wednesday’s column.
Christmas-themed comic book covers are the theme of a display at the Pomona Public Library, all from the collection of John Atwater of Rancho Cucamonga, whose extensive holdings have also been shown at the L.A. County Fair and the Cooper Museum in Upland. Pardon the glare, but the comics are bagged and under glass. If you’d like to see the display in person, they’re set to be there through January. The library’s hours are 1 to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday — but it’s closed Christmas Eve through Dec. 27; thanks to Allan Lagumbay for the clarification.
After a luncheon talk in Pomona last week, I was approached by an older gent with a mustache who came prepared for our encounter with a certain Wikipedia page loaded on his phone. He showed me Stan Lee’s photo and smiled a crooked smile with crinkly eyes.
Steve King of La Verne did indeed resemble Stan Lee of the Marvel Universe, only with more hair and a slightly more youthful look. King is 75 and Lee is 92.
Until a couple of years ago, King didn’t know who Lee was, having missed all the Marvel movies.
“I would go hiking and people would say, ‘Are you Stan Lee?’ I thought, ‘Who? Stanley?'”
King soon figured out who they were talking about — Lee was the man who teamed with artists in the ’60s to create Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers and more — and had to admit, “I do look a lot like him.” He still hasn’t seen a Marvel movie, though.
A young comics fan from Montclair had a letter published in The Avengers’ issue 11, cover-dated December 1964. Tom Conti and his pals wanted to see Thor and the Hulk really go at it, a request that editor Stan Lee was able to say was coming the very next month in a different comic.
It’s not much of a letter, but you have to smile at Conti’s youthful enthusiasm. This is the second Inland Valley fan who had his name in the early days of Marvel Comics, the earlier one being Upland’s Mark Carey, who’d started a Fantastic Four fan club in 1963.
Here’s the cover of the first issue of The Fantastic Four, published Aug. 8, 1961, and the subject of Sunday’s column.
The image is from the Marvel Wiki site.
And here’s a link to the Hallowed Ranks of Marveldom, mentioned in that column.
* Marvel has posted the entirety of FF 1 on its website as a free digital comic.