Happy 80th Birthday, Superman!

Action Comics #1 was published 80 years ago today.

Action Comics #1000 is now on the stands.

Wow.

Happy Birthday, Man of Steel. I’ve loved and hated the changes you’ve been put through. You were always my favorite, especially when helping the downtrodden and oppressed – THAT is the real truth, justice and the American way!!

MC

 

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Shout Sister Shout: Rosetta Tharpe and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Sometimes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets it right! Congratulations to them for inducting Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Who!?

Oh, I have loved her work for many years. She did not win on the fan ballot – in fact she came in nearly dead last.  But she was inducted anyway under the “influences” category.

And rightly so.

From Wikipedia:

Sister Rosetta Tharpe; Birth name: Rosetta Nubin, or Rosether Atkins

Born: March 20, 1915, Cotton Plant, Arkansas, US

Died: October 9, 1973 (aged 58), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. As a pioneer of mid-20th-century music, she attained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a precursor of rock and roll. She was the first great recording star of gospel music and among the first gospel musicians to appeal to rhythm-and-blues and rock-and-roll audiences, later being referred to as “the original soul sister” and “the Godmother of rock and roll”. She influenced early rock-and-roll musicians, including Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s; in particular a European tour with Muddy Waters in 1963 with a stop in Manchester is cited by prominent British guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards.

Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her music of “light” in the “darkness” of nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, Tharpe pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel, beginning in 1938 with the recording “Rock Me” and with her 1939 hit “This Train”.  Her unique music left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the pop world, she never left gospel music.

Tharpe’s 1944 release “Down by the Riverside” was selected for the National Recording Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress in 2004, which noted that it “captures her spirited guitar playing and unique vocal style, demonstrating clearly her influence on early rhythm-and-blues performers” and cited her influence on “many gospel, jazz, and rock artists”. (“Down by the Riverside” was recorded by Tharpe on December 2, 1948, in New York City, and issued as Decca single 48106. Her 1945 hit “Strange Things Happening Every Day”, recorded in late 1944, featured Tharpe’s vocals and electric guitar, with Sammy Price (piano), bass and drums. It was the first gospel record to cross over, hitting no. 2 on the Billboard “race records” chart, the term then used for what later became the R&B chart, in April 1945. The recording has been cited as precursor of rock and roll. …

Musically, Tharpe’s unique guitar style blended melody-driven urban blues with traditional folk arrangements and incorporated a pulsating swing sound that is one of the first clear precursors of rock and roll.

Little Richard referred to the stomping, shouting, gospel music performer as his favorite singer when he was a child. In 1947, she heard Richard sing before her concert at the Macon City Auditorium and later invited him on stage to sing with her; it was Richard’s first public performance outside of the church. Following the show, she paid him for his performance, which inspired him to become a performer. When Johnny Cash gave his induction speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, he referred to Tharpe as his favorite singer when he was a child. His daughter Rosanne Cash stated in an interview with Larry King that Tharpe was her father’s favorite singer. Tharpe began recording with electric guitar in the 1940s, with “That’s All”, which has been cited as an influence on Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. Other musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Isaac Hayes, have identified her singing, guitar playing, and showmanship as an important influence on them. She was held in particularly high esteem by UK jazz/blues singer George Melly. Tina Turner credits Tharpe, along with Mahalia Jackson, as an early musical influence. Such diverse performers as Meat Loaf, Neil Sedaka and Karen Carpenter have attested to the influence of Tharpe in the rhythmic energy she emanated in her performances (Carpenter’s drum fills are especially reminiscent of Tharpe’s “Chorlton Chug”). Later artists, such as Sean Michel, have credited her influence with the performance of gospel songs in more secular venues.

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Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnAQATKRBN0

Tharpe.2

She should have been inducted thirty years ago…

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Sir Ringo: Early 2018, I’m (still) the Greatest!

Ringo Starr is now officially Sir Richard Starkey.

March 20, 2018:

Less than three months after the honor was announced, the Beatles drummer received his knighthood from Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, at a ceremony earlier today at Buckingham Palace.

“I’ll be wearing it at breakfast,” Starr told the BBC about the medal he was given. And even with all the money and fame he’s achieved in his career, he said that formal acknowledgment from the royal family “means a lot, actually. It means recognition for the things we’ve done, musically and in life. So I was really pleased to accept this award.” He added that it was “way up there” with all the other awards he’s received over the decades.

Starr said that he and Paul McCartney had dinner in Los Angeles together, where McCartney, who was knighted in 1997, gave his former bandmate a bit of advice on getting through the ceremony: “He said, ‘Keep smiling.'”

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… and smile he did!

Ringo knighted 2

Originally published at http://ultimateclassicrock.com/ringo-starr-knighted/ Thank you for allowing me to republish it on this blog.

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About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

Metal Men #48. November 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

bronze-age

“Who is Bruce Gordon and Why is He Doing All Those Terrible Things to Himself?”

Cover: Walt Simonson; Editor/Plotter: Gerry Conway

Writer: Martin Pasko; Penciler/Inker/Plotter: Walt Simonson

Colorist: Carl Gafford; Letterer: Gaspar Saladino

Assistant Editors: Paul Levitz and Jack C Harris

Robert Kanigher is given a creator credit.

Doc Magnus and the Metal Men meet Mona Bennett, Bruce Gordon’s fiancé. She needs their help: Bruce Gordon is really the evil Eclipso! He was scratched by a black diamond and anytime he is in the presense of any sclipsed sphere of light he turns into the evil spirit! While trying to destroy his alter-ego, Bruce accidentally releases him instead!

Eclipso finds a letter from Gordon’s father saying the data he seeks can be found in a library in West Germany. Mona tells the Metal Men the “data” is ancient Incan parchment saved from destruction by a Spanish monk. The Metal Men fly to the German library to find Eclipso already there! Eclipse fights off the Metal Men and leaves with the parchment.

A dying librarian points to a Peruvian map. The Metal Men deduce this must be where Eclipso is headed and they go back across the Atlantic.

The apparently beat Eclipso to an ancient abandoned Peruvian city, but not by much… Before they can make a plan Eclipso attacks!

Tin counters with the bright light of a welding torch. Eclipso screams and turns back into Bruce Gordon.

Another clue leads our heroes to Diablo Island – where Gordon first became Eclipso. They find Mophir’s cave (Mophir was the sun-god priest who fought Bruce causing his black diamond scratch …). They find an ancient tablet.

Unfortunately, retrieving the hovercraft causes an “eclipse” as it flies past the sun releasing Eclipso! He snatches the tablet and heads to a cliff overlooking the sea. Before the Metal Men can stop him, Eclipso reads from the tablet and releases the ancient god Umbra from his undersea prison!

***

The letter column explains that Gerry Conway has moved on, leaving Walt Simonson and Martin Pasko to finish the story and printed two positive letters.

***

One writer praised Simonson’s art and said it was an unusual style for the Metal Men. I agree. Although his usual excellent workman-like effort fits Eclipso and this grittier-style of story (it would not work with a lighter style of story). He captures the possibility of a grim apocalypse!

Gerry Conway (with help from Martin Pasko) advance the story of one of DC’s most interesting characters in Eclipso – he makes an unusual villain for the Metal Men which makes the story interesting and exciting. I can’t wait to see what happens next issue! Can you?

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Constantine to Join Legends as Series Regular

From Scoop:

“While a fourth season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has yet to be confirmed, Matt Ryan’s John Constantine has already been announced as a series regular. Warner Bros. Television press release didn’t offer too many details, except to say that Constantine would join the main team aboard the Waverider.

Created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, Constantine was first introduced in The Saga of Swamp Thing. The character went on to star in 300 issues of DC’s Hellblazer series.

Ryan previously portrayed Constantine for a short-lived TV series on NBC between 2014 to 2015. He later reprised his role as the cult classic character on a season four episode of Arrow entitled “Haunted.” While this was a one-time Arrow appearance, Ryan has since made a few appearances during the current season of Legends of Tomorrow.

Along with appearing in the season finale, and possible fourth season, Ryan will voice Constantine in the upcoming Constantine series. This animated series will debut this March 24, 2018 on The CW Seed.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs on Monday nights at 7:00 pm (Central) on The CW.”

This article originally published on Scoop:

©2018 Gemstone Publishing, Inc. and/or Diamond International Galleries. All other material ©2018 respective copyright holders. All rights reserved. Scoop is published weekly by: Gemstone Publishing Inc., Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, Diamond International Galleries and FAN, the Fandom Advisory Network, 1940 Greenspring Drive, Suite I, Timonium, MD 21093, 443-318-8467. Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., 10150 York Road, Suite 300, Hunt Valley, MD 21030.

My thanks for allowing me to reprint it here.

***

const LOT 2

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — “Daddy Darhkest” — Image Number: LGN310a_0366b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine and Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary — Photo: Jeff Weddell/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What exciting news! Read my news and reviews of “Constantine” and “Legends of Tomorrow” by using the search engine on my home page.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

With Great Power Comes Great … Debt. Marvel Comics’ 1996 Bankruptcy.

I have a blog where I discuss various legal issues. Sometimes the issues cross over with this more … nerdy-culturally-aimed blog …

Thought you might get a kick out of it …

Celebrity Spotlight: Marvel Comics

Bankruptcy affects people of every age, creed, sex or ethnicity from every part of the country. Even celebrities both loved and disliked have their financial problems and depend on the bankruptcy laws to get out from under crippling debt.

Sometimes even superheroes…

marvel-case-presentation-26-638

From Den of Geek: my thanks for aloowing me to reprint their wonderful article…

Marvel Comics had grown in stature throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s thanks to the often stunning art and storytelling in such comics as Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel’s financial success had reached a peak by the early ’90s. But then a series of bursting financial bubbles and questionable business deals saw Marvel’s stock value collapse; shares once worth $35.75 each in 1993 had sunk to $2.375 three years later. An ugly fight between a group of very rich investors followed, and for a while, the company’s future seemed uncertain.

Yet somehow, Marvel fought through all the corporate intrigue which dogged the company in late 1996 and for many long months afterwards, and emerged from the rubble a decade later as a film industry behemoth.

In 1993, while Marvel and the comics industry as a whole seemed to be in rude health, Sandman writer Neil Gaiman stood before about 3,000 retailers and gave a speech which few in attendance wanted to hear.

In it, he argued that the success of the comic book market was a bubble – one brought on by encouraging collectors to buy multiple editions and hoard them up in the hope that they’ll one day be worth a fortune. This, Gaiman said, was akin to tulip mania – a strange period in the 17th century when the value of tulip bulbs suddenly exploded, only for the market to collapse again.

“You can sell lots of comics to the same person, especially if you tell them that you are investing money for high guaranteed returns,” Gaiman  said. “But you’re selling bubbles and tulips, and one day the bubble will burst, and the tulips will rot in the warehouse.”

The bubble Gaiman described had begun several years earlier, when comic books, once considered disposable items by parents, were becoming prized items by collectors who’d grown up with their favorite superheroes as kids. By the 1980s, comic book collecting had gained the interest of the mainstream media, which latched onto stories about Golden Age comics selling for thousands of dollars.

Publishers were themselves courting the collector market by introducing variant covers, sometimes with foil embossing or other eye-catching, fancy printing techniques. These were snapped up hungrily by readers, but also by speculators assuming that they’d stumbled on a sure-fire means of making money by storing copies up and selling them for a profit in the future.

While the comics were flying off the shelves, Marvel attracted the interest of a man named Ron Perelman. Often pictured with a broad grin and a huge cigar in his hand, Perelman was a millionaire businessman with a variety of interests: in 1985, he’d made a huge deal for cosmetic firm, Revlon through his holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes. In early 1989, Perelman spent $82.5 million on purchasing the Marvel Entertainment Group, then owned by New World Pictures.

Within two years, Marvel was on the stock market, and Perelman went on a spending spree: he bought shares in a company called ToyBiz, snapped up a couple of trading card companies, Panini stickers, and a distribution outfit, Heroes World. All told, those acquisitions cost Marvel a reported $700m.

Through the early ’90s, Marvel was buoyed by the success of Spider-Man and X-Men, which were selling in huge numbers. Sales of a new comic, X-Force, were similarly huge, thanks in part to a cunning sales gimmick: the first issue came in a poly bag with one of five different trading cards inside it. If collectors wanted to get hold of all five cards, they – you guessed it – had to buy multiple copies of the same comic. With the boom still in full swing, that’s exactly what collectors did – as former Comics International news editor Phil Hall recalls, fans were buying five copies to keep pristine and unopened, and a sixth to tear into and read.

Then, just as Gaiman predicted, the bubble burst. Between 1993 and 1996, revenues from comics and trading cards began to collapse. Suddenly, Marvel, which at one point seemed invincible as it grew in size, now looked vulnerable.

“When the business turned,” observed then-chariman and CEO of Marvel Scott Sassa, “it was like everything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

Some in the industry went further, and argued that Perelman’s tactics had endangered the entire industry:

“[Perelman] reasoned, quite correctly, that if he raised prices and output, that hardcore Marvel fans would devote a larger and larger portion of their disposable income toward buying comics,” Chuck Rozanski, wrote CEO of Mile High Comics. “Once he had enough sales numbers in place to prove this hypothesis, he then took Marvel public, selling 40% of its stock for vastly more than he paid for the entire company. The flaw in his plan, however, was that he promised investors in Marvel even further brand extensions, and more price increases. That this plan was clearly impossible became evident to most comics retailers early in 1993, as more and more fans simply quit collecting due to the high cost, and amid a widespread perception of declining quality in Marvel comics.”

Whether Perelman was directly to blame or not, the consequences for the industry as a whole were painful in the extreme. Hundreds of comic book retailers went bust as sales tumbled by 70 percent. Suddenly, the boom had turned to bust, and even Perelman admitted that he hadn’t anticipated the dark future Gaiman had warned about in his speech.

”We couldn’t get a handle on how much of the market was driven by speculators,” Perelman said; “the people buying 20 copies and reading one and keeping 19 for their nest egg…”

By 1995, Marvel Entertainment was heavily in debt. In the face of mounting losses, Perelman decided to press on into new territory: he set up Marvel Studios, a venture which he hoped would finally get the company’s most famous characters on the big screen after years of legal disputes. To do this, he planned to buy the remaining shares in ToyBiz and merge it with Marvel, creating a single, stronger entity.

Marvel’s shareholders resisted, arguing that the financial damage to Marvel’s share prices would be too great. Perelman’s response was to file for bankruptcy, thus giving him the power to reorganize Marvel without the stockholder’s consent.

Marvel filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 27, 1996. Coincidentally, its highest debt of $1.7 million was owed to Disney. Over one-third of Marvel employees were laid off.

There followed a bewildering power struggle which raged for almost two years. A stockholder named Carl Icahn tried to oppose Perelman, and the financial press eagerly reported on the very public spat which ensued. Perelman, Icahn argued, “Was like a plumber you loan money to get him started in business; then he comes in, wrecks your house, then tells you he wants the house for nothing.”

The battle, when it finally ended in December 1998, had a strange outcome which few could have predicted: after a lengthy court case, ToyBiz and Marvel Entertainment Group were finally merged, but Perelman and his nemesis Icahn were both ousted in the process. Other executives with ties with Perlmutter were also severed, including CEO Scott Sassa, whose tenure had, all told, lasted just eight months.

They’d been pushed out by two ToyBiz executives who’d been on Marvel’s board since 1993: Isaac Perlmutter and Avi Arad. With Scott Sassa gone, they installed the 55-year-old Joseph Calamari, who’d been at the helm of Marvel in the 80s, as its new CEO.

With the financial intrigue in the boardroom settling down, Marvel began to turn its attention to a target it had been trying to hit since the 1980s: the movie business. The rest, as they say …

MArvel money

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Please check my legal blog for other famous bankruptcies!

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Cap money

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

Lovely to See You Again My Friends … the Moody Blues in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This is old news, I know.

It took me nearly as long to write about the Moody Blues being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as it took the Moody Blues to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I have been a fan of the Moody Blues nearly as long as I have been a fan of the Beatles. The Fab Four were inducted in the Hall’s third year – it was never a snub considering that the inductees of the prior two years were inspirations even to THEM!), but it has taken many years for the Moody Blues – who in 2018 were first-time nominees despite qualifying for membership since the RRHoF’s inception.

From http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-inducted-rock-roll-hall-fame-2018/

Dec. 13, 2017—The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this morning that rock legends The Moody Blues will be inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.  Current members Justin Hayward (lead guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass guitar, vocals) and Graeme Edge (drums); will receive the honor alongside former members Ray Thomas (flute/vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboard/mellotron/vocals).  …

The 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Induction Ceremony will be televised on HBO, and a radio broadcast on SiriusXM.

Says Justin Hayward: “I’m extremely grateful to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, first for creating the supreme temple to all that has brought endless joy into my life since I was a small boy, and now, after all these years, for including us.  It’s a privilege to be celebrated in the same building, on the same street even, as my own heroes – Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers – and now, at last, with us, my heroine Nina Simone.  But all the thanks must go to The Moody Blues fans for giving us a wonderful, wonderful life in music – our induction has now validated the music they so love, and I’m so, so pleased, for us all. Yippee!”

Says John Lodge: “The fans are the heart of the Moody Blues — their faith, support and love have moved mountains. Their voices have been heard, and I am proud to say, “we have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”  Thank you to American Radio for keeping the faith in the Moody Blues, and to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for our induction.”

Says Graeme Edge: “I want to thank all of my peers who bestowed the honor of voting us in.  Most of all, I’d like to thank all of our fans who have supported us over the years, and have steadfastly stood by us.  I would also like to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame foundation for putting a cap on my career; one that continues to astonish me with its gifts.

Moodies now

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Sadly, Ray Thomas died on January 4, 2018 and had retired from the band many years before.

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The RRHoF faces is usual, albeit justified, criticism when the Moodies were nominated: why it routinely ignores certain genres of rock music, particularly progressive rock. Here’s a great article:

https://www.loudersound.com/features/yes-nomination-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-hates-prog

“You could ask whether it really matters. After all, musicians regularly try to convince us that awards aren’t important to them – usually right up until the moment they’re given one. Well, it matters to us as fans, because it seems to reflect the fact that prog as a genre still seems to be unjustly overlooked in the eyes of the mainstream.

A few more nods of respect towards this neglected wing of the art form from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might go some way towards rectifying that.”

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And it’s not just the Prog Rock problem: I make my annual joke on Facebook and Twitter when the nominees are announced: “I am once again snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Why haven’t I been nominated? I’ve made as many rock and roll records as (Madonna, Abba, Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, you pick…).

But let’s enjoy the honor for our beloved Moodies – and if you are a fan of the Cars and Bon Jovi you should be just as proud and congratulations to your favorite band!

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K