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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

UNFINISHED & ABANDONED: The Notebook Notions (Bonus Interlude)--A Surviving Notebook!

When I was a fledgling teen-aged writer, I filled notebook after notebook with vague notions of things I might like to write some day.  The Notebook Notions is a series of backwards glances at those early glimmers of almost-ideas.



All of my posts in The Notebook Notions have been recollections of things I jotted down in the dozens of notebooks I filled with such nonsense as a teen in the '70s. I haven't seen those notebooks in decades, but my Mom just found one at her house and tossed it over to me. As a pop-culture archeological find, it falls short of discovering a copy of The Marx Brothers in Humor Risk or the ballad version of "Please Please Me" by The Beatles, but I'm delighted to have it.



This particular notebook doesn't contain many real scraps of almost-ideas; most of my notebooks were stuffed with proposed comic book covers, lists of titles for proposed stories, and even the occasional (if infrequent) completed script. Aside from one hypothetical Detective Comics cover and a mess of jumbled sketches on the inner and outer covers, there ain't much of any of that here. A back cover reference to the Cathy Lee Crosby Fan Club would place the date of the notebook around 1974, when I was 14; that was the year the lovely Ms. Crosby starred in a universally-reviled Wonder Woman TV-movie, and I thought she was kinda cute.

Don't make me blush, Cafarelli!
This does contain something else that was a fixture of my notebooks: a list of songs I liked. Often such lists would be in the form of an imaginary K-Tel album called Rock Collection, but here we just have four pages of song titles.

Who the heck are Paul McCartney and THE Wings?!
At 14, my main musical influence came in the form of whatever I heard on WOLF- or WNDR-AM in Syracuse, plus my cousin Mark's Deep Purple cassettes, and whatever records my siblings had around the house. The list reveals some faves that have never changed--The Hollies, Slade, The Who, pre-disco Bee Gees, Badfinger, The Raspberries, The Monkees, Alice Cooper, The Grass Roots, and a whole lotta Beatles--as well as single-song perennials by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Elf (with Ronnie James Dio), Johnny Nash, The Flirtations, Marvin Gaye, The Rubettes (whom I mis-identified as "The Roulettes"), and Fanny. Among the less-expected artists were Chicago, Jethro Tull, Olivia Newton-John, Eric Clapton, Jim Croce, Charlie Daniels, Billy Joel, and Elton John.


Next we have my cover idea for a 100-Page issue of Detective Comics, starring The Batman. I had no story to go with this cover, just an image of craven crooks terrorized by a gigantic image of The Dark Knight. I was a big fan of the DC 100-Page Super-Spectaculars (which will be the subject of a separate blog post eventually); Detective Comics had become a 100-page book at this time, and each issue featured two new stories bookending a choice selection of reprints. This cover indicates my apparent wish that DC could acquire the rights to Golden Age heroes Daredevil (the one who battled Hitler) and Hydroman; hey, my notebook, my notion!

The rest of the notebook contains scraps of story ideas, including:

Camp: a precursor to the current Batman '66 franchise at DC, which tells new stories in the continuity of the campy '60s TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward; the eight-page "Westward Crimes Of The Super-Criminals" would feature those POW! BIFF! Caped Crusaders facing a cadre of campy no-goodniks in a Western setting. The whole thing would turn out to be a dream, of course.

The Batman:  "The Bounty Hunter's Back In Town," a 20-page story featuring a one-off villain who had only appeared in a single issue of The Brave And The Bold (# 101).

Uh--YES! Of COURSE this was my notebook art! I could draw JUST LIKE Jim Aparo when I wanted to!
I also made note of story ideas for Golden Age characters Kid Eternity and The Doll Man, the latter starring in an untold tale from the '30s, wherein our hero prevents the assassination of Benito Mussolini; I don't remember what I was going for there, but the title "A Doll Man Dilemma" likely indicates I was looking at the moral quandary of saving a dictator from a violent death, regardless of whether or not Il Duce deserved to be saved.

The notebook continued with notes on my favorite art teams for specific comics characters, ideas on weekend matinee packages at The Hollywood Theater in Mattydale, and thoughts on casting new Superman and Batman TV series; these included the questionable ideas of Sally Struthers as Batgirl and Jack Klugman as Perry White, and the not-that-bad notions of Lori Saunders (from Petticoat Junction) as Lois Lane, Christopher Lee as The Joker, Raymond Bailey (aka Mr. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies) as Commissioner Gordon, Clayton Moore as Clark Kent's boss Morgan Edge, Chad Everett as The Batman, and--naturally!--Cathy Lee Crosby as Policewoman Pat Powell.



                        Lois Lane? Meet Pat Powell. 'Sup?

There were also several pages devoted to my proposed publishing empire. Based on the notes, it looks like I was planning on taking over DynaPubs, a company which published the tabloid periodical The Buyer's Guide To Comics Fandom and a series of black-and-white Golden Age comics reprints called Flashback; Flashback had been the source of my cherished reprint of the classic Daredevil Battles Hitler. My apparent plans for DynaPubs included switching Flashback to an oversized color format, and a massive expansion of the line, with new reprint series (of both comics and pulp magazines), a new pulp title called Amazing Fiction, and acquisitions of a number of properties held by other publishers (Vampirella and the rest of the Warren line of comics magazines, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Analog, and a long list of others). The flagship title would be a magazine called Comix Criterion, which would mix commentary and reviews with new comics (including The Spirit, Buck Rogers, The Phantom, Torchy, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and Isabella), plus prose fiction starring Billy Jack.  I may return to this subject in a future edition of The Notebook Notions. For now, we'll let this stand as mute testimony to what a geek I was at 14.



Looking at the notebook the other day, taking in its busy, crowded scribbles and claustrophobic crush of image on top of image, my lovely wife Brenda asked if I wrote the names of girlfriends on the pages or in the margins. I could only chuckle and reply:

"Honey, does this look like it was done by someone who had a girlfriend?"