Sunday, May 31, 2015

R.I.P. Mary Torcivia.

Mary Torcivia, with her sons Joe (left) and Bob (right). 

Mary Torcivia, my mother, passed away on Saturday, May 23, 2015, at the age of 88 - following a three-week illness.  

She was an amazing lady, as my eulogy for her reproduced below, will reveal.  And, consider THIS EARLY BLOG POST something of a prelude for what i'm about to say.  

Here is my eulogy for my mother, delivered on May 27, 2015: 

Today, we say good-bye to Mary Torcivia – devoted wife of Joseph P., loving mother to Joseph M. and Robert, mother-in-law to Esther, and grandmother to Kyle, and Joseph III. 

More than a loving mother, she was an amazing inspiration.  For a small and quiet person, she demonstrated great strength – strength that often surprised me. 

From a disastrous full staircase fall slamming into a door in 1979, to her husband’s death in 1992, to an out of control SUV nearly destroying her home in 2007, to fracturing her hip three days before Hurricane Sandy and enduring 11 full days in the dark and unexpected bitter cold that followed in 2012, to her remarkable grace throughout her terminal illness of 2015… she faced it all with the great strength that I will always remember her for.   

To the very end, she fought against the effects of the disease that took her, all the while doing her best to remain as upbeat and cheerful as was humanly possible during her final week at home. 

In the time I spent with her every evening of that final week, she made certain to say how proud she was of her sons, Bob and I, and how well we worked together to make her final wish come true.  To spend her final days in the home she lived-in and loved, since February, 1969. 

In addition, for me, she was a wise sounding-board and a comfort when it came to relationship ups and downs and acting upon life’s necessary choices.   And it is that aspect of our relationship that that provides me with my final story of my mother. 

During an unpleasant personal period for me, we found ourselves alone together in her house one evening.  Oddly, she enjoyed science fiction related entertainment to a degree you might not expect of someone of her gender and age.  But, over the years, we enjoyed things like Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, and Kolchak the Night Stalker.  She was actually watching The X Files and Lost before I was! 

Noting my unhappiness, as only a mother could, she was watching a movie on HBO – a movie about some “dirt-poor desert town”, under which there were giant monster worm-creatures that would spring-up and eat people.  It was called “Tremors”, perhaps you remember it. 

Anyway, she asked me to sit and watch it with her, probably knowing it would somehow distract me from my situation.  And it did.  We enjoyed the film immensely. 

Later in the week, as HBO used to do, “Tremors” was shown again – and again she invited me to watch it with her.  It, and the experience, were better still the second time around. 

I’d not given a thought to “Tremors” in many years since those two nights of fun. 

On THIS SUNDAY, after conducting some additional business for Mary at the funeral parlor up the road, I had some expiring Best Buy coupons and stopped at that establishment on the way home.  

I walked past a huge circular bin of randomly and sloppily strewn Bargain Blu-Rays – and what do you think catches my eye… THIS DAY OF ALL DAYS!   (Take Box out of jacket and hold it up to the audience!)

Yes! It was “Tremors”!  It was “Tremors”!  I had not given a single thought to “Tremors” in SO MANY YEARS!

And, of the hundred or more items in that bin, it was the ONLY COPY of “Tremors”!  And, it caught my eye totally at random!

…Or, maybe NOT so random!  Maybe it was a reminder from Mary of a good time we had!  I dare not say! 

But, there was no way I was leaving it in Best Buy!  I took it home and watched it that night (this time with Esther), and relived a special, forgotten moment shared with Mary.  Though I might have forgotten it, something tells me that she did not!

Thank you, Mom – for everything!  Speaking for Bob and myself – and Esther and Kyle, we love you!   

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gold Key Digest Comics - from Mark Evanier.

As an interlude (...if you define "Interlude" as "Cheater Post"), we have an interesting piece by Mark Evanier on the Gold Key Digest Comics - HERE!  

Don't know if Mark is taking comments on this post, but I sure will.  So, bring 'em on! 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

On Sale May 20: DONALD DUCK # 1 from IDW!

The DONALD DUCK title makes its IDW debut, joining UNCLE SCROOGE, with issue # 1 (Legacy Numbering # 368)! 

And, as with UNCLE SCROOGE, you’ll find it chock full of great work by Romano Scarpa, Jonathan Gray, Mau Heymans, and classic American creators Dick Kinney and Al Hubbard.  Why, there’s so much ducky splendor here, they didn’t even need me for this one! 

In “Shellfish Motives: Part One of Two”, Scarpa introduces Scrooge’s righteous little brother Gideon McDuck!  Now, I daren’t say how Donald’s “Uncle Gid” fits into any previously established McDuck family tree – but, if “Uncle Rumpus McFowl” could show up one day and achieve general acceptance, I say why not the same for “Uncle Gid”! 

Meet Uncle Gideon.  Um, what’s “Bone-Tractor”?  Only Gid and Jonathan Gray know for sure! 

And check out this “Tex Avery-Style Taxicab Action”! 

And, for once, Donald invokes Mighty Mouse, rather than Mickey Mouse! 

Wrecks, Lies, and Videotape” finds Don entering a “funniest video contest” – his Gray-supplied lines are funnier than his fall. 

Click to enlarge for better reading! 
And the boys even bail out on this one to join a DuckTales Adventure, presumably already in progress. 

To Digress: If there's one thing I feel is characteristic of the "New-To-The-USA" stories appearing in the IDW line (certainly so far), it's that, in addition to art and story, there is one added dimension.  

Every page, sometimes even every PANEL, will give you something good to read, script-wise!  It may be a gag or pun, a pop-cultural reference, a dose of "Meta", or even a mere turn-of-phrase, but the reader is nicely rewarded for the time spent between the covers! End of Digression.    

Finally, as much as we and Donald would sometimes like to, who can forget Cousin Fethry, in Kinney and Hubbard’s ‘60s era “Do It Yourself”! 

You’ll “Do [It] Yourself a Favor”, if you run out and grab a copy of IDW’s  DONALD DUCK # 1! 
See you back here to discuss it, okay?    


A quick personal note:  This Blog may, unfortunately slow down for a while, due to personal situations, and more professional comics work!   
I’ll try to keep it up to something resembling normal speed but, if updates are less frequent, this is the reason why.  …And, hey… I still update more than some of those “Other Blogs Out There”, Mark Evanier and Yowp certainly excepted!   

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Sale Today: UNCLE SCROOGE # 2 from IDW!

Set sail for your local comic shop, and pick up a copy of UNCLE SCROOGE # 2 (Legacy Numbering # 406) from IDW!

In it, you’ll find “Shiver Me Timbers”, by Jan Kruse, Bas Heymans, and Jonathan Gray.  And, if that magnificent cover by Jonathan is any indication, this is gonna be a great one! 

As with last issue, I waited until today to read this story so I can experience the fun “as it happens”!  ...And did Jonathan ever leave a few surprises in wait for me! 

No spoilers but, on a purely personal note, I must thank him for THIS...

...and THIS!  

"Super Goof" AND "Moby Duck" references!  A sure way to warm this old "Gold Key-Era" reader's heart!  

Just as before, you’ll find a 10 page back-up titled “Meteor Rights” – by Frank Jonker, Paul Hoogma, and Maximino Tortajada Aguilar, dialogued by yours truly, and featuring Scrooge, Donald and the nephews… and the return of Flintheart Glomgold. 

Click to Enlarge, if you dare!  
A potentially precious meteor has fallen to Earth, in the Dismal Swamp outside Duckburg.  Uncle Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold both want it.  

They get more than they bargain for.  Hoo-Boy, do they ever!  

If anyone enjoyed the way I set Scrooge and Flinty against each other in the “auction scene” in THIS STORY, you’re going to love my polar opposite handling of them in “Meteor Rights”. 

Look for a reference to one of my all time favorite Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge stories, and an "untold incident" that occurred thereafter!  Them's all the hints yer gettin' on this!  

And all of this Scrooge-a-rific Awesomeness (...Um, did I just say "Scrooge-a-rific Awesomeness "?) is edited by Sarah Gaydos and the incomparable David Gerstein!    

Just like last time, once you’ve read the issue, please come back and join the discussion in our Comments Section! 

I said "DISCUSSION", guys! 

I’ll be happy to discuss the lead story, particularly Jonathan’s work, from the perspective of a fellow fan – and my own from the perspective of being part of the creative process.   So, bring your comments and questions, folks! 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

Alternate Cover: Someone tell that "Beagle Boy Octopus" to stop obscuring my name! 
So, rather than merely “set sail”, why don't you “streak like a meteor” to get your copy of UNCLE SCROOGE # 2 (Legacy Numbering # 406) from IDW!

Meet you back here to discuss it!  


HERE is a review of the issue, published the day of release!  

Anyone willing to call one of my gags " of the funniest jokes I've heard in a while", is worthy of a link 'round here!  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Scooby’s Got a Secret!

For some time now, one of my most favorite comic book titles has been SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, especially as written by the great Sholly Fisch. 

The brilliance of what Fisch does with this title is to take the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang and plunk them down into adventures with characters from across the vast Time Warner Communications Empire – meaning DC Comics, Warner Bros., MGM, and Hanna-Barbera. 

In each case, Fisch knows his guest subject well – and trades in gags that revel in the specifics and peculiarities of the visiting property.  DC Superhero gags, Flintstones gags, and Jonny Quest gags all meld perfectly with the expected Scooby-Doo character and continuity gags. 

Issues released so far feature a great number of familiar and beloved guest stars. 

Issue # 2: Ace the Bat-Hound.

Issue # 3: Bat-Mite.

Issue # 5: Wonder Woman.

Issue # 6: Super Friends.

Issue # 9: Superman.

Issue # 10: Jonny Quest.

As extremely enjoyable as these team-ups have been, notice that (to one extent of “realism” or another) they are all “Human” characters.   If an animal character exists, it would be the “pet” or “mascot” of the guest starring character(s), as is Scooby himself. 

Not once have we seen a SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP with an honest-to-anthropomorphic funny animal character, despite the legions of such creations that exist over Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., MGM, and sometimes even DC Comics.

But, take a look at the scheduled pairing for SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 11, scheduled for a July 01, 2015 release! 


Debuting on NBC Saturday Morning during the Fall Season of 1965 – and a direct response to the SPY CRAZE that was ongoing at the time, Secret Squirrel ran for two seasons, and at least one more complete rerun season.     

But the character did not have much of a run in comic books, the exception being this Gold Key one-shot.

I can't wait to see HOW Scholly Fisch reconciles Secret Squirrel with Scooby and the gang! I've been wondering how (or even IF) they would handle a TRUE "funny animal" character - and not one analogous to Scooby like Astro, Dino, Bandit, or Ace the Bat-Hound.

Maybe SS is a REAL secret agent in the guise of a squirrel, because HE'S THAT GREAT A MASTER OF DISGUISE! Perhaps we'll even see Yellow Pinkie!

I'd have really bet on Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, or Pinky and The Brain as the first actual "funny animal" team-ups. But never Secret Squirrel! Wow!

Come, Pinky, we must prepare for tomorrow night.

Why, Brain... What are we gonna do tomorrow night?  

The same thing we do every night, Pinky... Try to team-up with Scooby-Doo!

Maybe it has something to do with the upcoming SECRET SQUIRREL DVD release from Warner Archives, some unspecified time in 2015. 

In any event, it won’t be the first completely bizarre character come-together in a “secret agent” comic book story…

Say, is that "William Conrad as Frank Cannon" teaming-up with Mickey?  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

R.I.P. Grace Lee Whitney.

Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Janice Rand for a mere eight of the earliest episodes of STAR TREK The Original Series in 1966 - yet made an impression with fans to last a lifetime, has passed away on May 01, 2015, at the age of 85.  

That impression would lead to Ms. Whitney reprising her role as Rand in various future incarnations of STAR TREK, including some of the later theatrical films and even a role on STAR TREK VOYAGER.  

Grace Lee Whitney continues her tour with Starfleet. 

Beyond STAR TREK, Grace Lee Whitney appeared in several other TV series of the era that wait faithfully on my DVD shelves, such as Darren McGavin's MIKE HAMMER, BAT MASTERSON, THE UNTOUCHABLES, THE OUTER LIMITS, WAGON TRAIN, BEWITCHED -- and, most notably, GUNSMOKE and BATMAN '66.  I hope to look up many of these in the coming days.  

It's not easy getting your arms around Victor Buono as King Tut!

She even had an uncredited role in the Vincent Price horror classic "House of Wax" (1953).   

And, on a strictly personal note, Grace Lee Whitney was one of my "Big Three", that also included Marta Kristen of LOST IN SPACE and Yvonne Craig of BATMAN '66, all of whom kept me watching syndicated reruns of those shows throughout my adolescence!  

Ms. Whitney's list of IMDB credits can be found HERE.  

Rest In Peace, Grace Lee Whitney, and thank you for memories that have lasted a lifetime!