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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.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO



We're gonna have a good time tonight.  We're going to shrug off our troubles, and revel in the defiant glory of...well, whatever the hell it is we do here. We will play a few of the best tracks of 2017, maybe including some we didn't play enough times throughout the year. We will play tracks in honor of a few of the beloved performers we lost this year. We'll commemorate a few 40th and 50th anniversaries that occurred n 2017. We'll play tracks from our own 2017 compilation This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4. And we will pay tribute to the late, great Pat DiNizio with the music of our featured act, THE SMITHEREENS. Raise a single finger high: here's to 2017. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7 FM in Syracuse, and on the web at sparksyracuse.org. A rock 'n' roll catharsis is good for your spirits.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Z Is For....



Santa Teresa could be a typical Southern California town, if we believe there is any such thing as a typical Southern California town. 85,000 people call it their home, some gladly, some reluctantly, their lives accented by the stucco and bougainvillea, the heat of summer, the dull gray ache of West Coast winter. They live and love, work, play, struggle, succeed, fail. They mourn the loss of loved ones. They drink. They couple. They reproduce. They fight. They fall.

Some of them commit crimes. Sins may be venial and forgiven, or mortal and damned. There are crimes of passion, of avarice, of pride and privilege, of convenience, cowardice, desperation. Someone gets hurt. Every time. That's the nature of sins.

Santa Teresa was fictional. It always felt real.

A private investigator named Kinsey Millhone was one of Santa Teresa's 85,000 residents. She was self-employed, an ex-cop, twice divorced. She had no close family, just some cousins that she never even knew until she was in her thirties. She could rightly be called a loner. Well...maybe. She was fiercely protective of her friends. She would face down the devil himself if it meant helping her friends.

The devil had almost taken Kinsey down on several occasions. She'd nearly been crippled. She'd nearly died, more than once. She fought back. She always fought back. Her victories were never absolute. But she was never beaten. She was curious. She was stubborn. She wasn't always right. She would not quit until the case was resolved, no matter what.

Kinsey Millhone lived in Santa Teresa until at least the end of the 1980s. She would have shrugged off any suggestion that she was heroic. She would stop for a drink at Rosie's, or join her landlord Henry for some scrumptious home-made baked goods, or just be by herself, grabbing a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald's or feasting on a peanut butter and pickle sandwich in her studio apartment, curled up with some Elmore Leonard or Ross Macdonald and a glass of Chardonnay.

She killed a guy. It was him or her, and he deserved it. She closed her eyes. And she blew him away. It still wasn't quite as easy to do as it seems in detective novels.

We don't know much about Kinsey after the '80s. It's said she lived on, at the very least until her 40th birthday in 1990, presumably longer. We hope so. But the stories about her stop before that. The 25 known tales of her cases line up, in alphabetical order, from A to Y. Alibi. Burglar. Corpse. Deadbeat. Evidence. Fugitive. Gumshoe. Homicide. Innocent. Judgement. Killer. Lawless. Malice. Noose. Outlaw. Peril. Quarry. Ricochet. Silence. Trespass. Undertow. Vengeance. Wasted. X. Yesterday. Each one is a compelling tale as real as imagination can create. With much sadness, we note that the alphabet ends with Y. Z is for zero. Zero is all that's left.

Respectfully submitted,

A fan

In memory of author Sue Grafton, neither the Dr. Seuss of detective fiction nor the Mickey Spillane of Sesame Street, just one of the greatest writers to ever work within the mystery genre. Hearts break in Santa Teresa.




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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Adventures Of Bob Hope # 109 (with Neal Adams)



Neal Adams' fourth and final turn as artist on DC Comics' The Adventures Of Bob Hope was also the end of the title's long run. Its first issue was cover-dated February-March 1950, and it ran 109 issues, hitting the road to cancellation in 1968. That's a very long and healthy run, but the era of successful newsstand celebrity comic books had passed. Only DC's The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis soldiered on much longer, hitting its quiet finale in 1971.

 

It's unclear who holds the rights to this material, but The Adventures Of Bob Hope is presumed to be copyright the respective owner(s). Its appearance here is intended as fair use. As I said before, it's unfortunate that rights issues will likely prevent DC's The Adventures Of Bob Hope and The Adventures Of Jerry Lewis from ever being reprinted; they're decent humor comics on the whole, and they deserve to be preserved. But right here on this blog, you can read The Adventures Of Bob Hope # 106The Adventures Of Bob Hope # 107, and The Adventures Of Bob Hope # 108. I wish I had some earlier ones to share. But for now, one more time: Thanks for the memories.

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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 


Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 















Thursday, December 28, 2017

Artful Dodger

I very, very much recommend you add a copy of this CD set to your collection.
This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It's separated here for convenience.



Was Fairfax, Virginia's phenomenal pop combo Artful Dodger mentioned in Bomp! magazine's epic 1978 power pop issue? Either way, the earliest memory of Artful Dodger I can summon would be from Cleveland Scene magazine, a tabloid I used to see sometimes when I visited my sister Denise in Cleveland Heights. I think it was a review of an Artful Dodger show (possibly at The Agora), and the review mentioned that Artful Dodger's set included a cover of The Dave Clark Five's "Any Way You Want It." Well! In 1978, one way to get my attention was to cover the DC5. But I don't remember hearing any of Artful Dodger's music anywhere, so I didn't really pursue the matter.

In the summer of '79, I got my first real six-string (bought it at the five-and-dime)...wait, wrong summer, and wrong performer reference. Artful Dodger came to town that summer for a show at Stage East in East Syracuse, with Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse The Flashcubes opening. If I have the story straight, Artful Dodger played a sparsely-attended Stage East gig the previous week; after three albums that didn't sell as well as anyone hoped, the band was nearing the end of its tenure with Columbia Records, but hadn't quite given up on makin' a grab for that damned elusive brass ring. A second Stage East gig was scheduled, with The Flashcubes (who had a large local following) added to the bill; as an added incentive, the first 100 ladies admitted would receive a copy of The Flashcubes' most recent single, "Wait Till Next Week"/"Radio," while the first 100 guys would receive an Artful Dodger EP.  The Flashcubes did radio commercials for the gig, with 'Cubes drummer Tommy Allen referring to Artful Dodger as "one of the great pop-rock acts of our time." The message: Get to Stage East to see Artful Dodger, you lot!



The gig itself hit a snag early on: with so much of the crowd drawn there specifically by The Flashcubes--and specifically there to see The Flashcubes--the fans were reluctant to let The Flashcubes finish their opening set and make way for the headliners. The 'Cubes kept getting called back for encores, until our local lads finally put their collective foot down, announcing that they were done for the night. 'Cubes bassist Gary Frenay all but pleaded with the crowd to get set for Artful Dodger, "a really great band!," as the 'Cubes were finally allowed to leave the stage.

By this time, I guess Artful Dodger had a lot to prove to a skeptical crowd. I wasn't among the skeptical--I was eager to hear AD for the first time--but I was unprepared for the pinpoint accuracy of Tommy and Gary's description of Artful Dodger: A really great band? One of the great pop-rock acts of our time? Yes. Oh God, yes!

Artful Dodger seemed like a perfect combination of the best aspects of The Faces and Badfinger, with lead singer Billy Paliselli's raspy vocals calling to mind Rod Stewart, and the band's rockin' crunch conjuring a meeting of Ron Wood's swagger and the power-pop dynamics of Pete Ham and Joey Molland.  I was mesmerized. Granted, I had a pretty good buzz on by now, after an evening at the bar with my pals, but the Artful Dodger boys delivered on their end of the bargain, with a ready 'n' steady supply of hook-filled rock 'n' roll music. They didn't do any DC5 material--the only cover I remember from that night is Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller"--but they earned my allegiance with their original material. I was particularly captivated by "It's Over," a mid-tempo number, drawn out in its live incarnation by a hypmotizin' extension of its musical intro. From that evening on, I consider myself at home as an Artful Dodger fan.



The next day, I played the Artful Dodger EP that my Y chromosome had awarded me at Stage East's door: four songs from the group's eponymous 1975 debut album: "It's Over,""Wayside,""Think Think," and my favorite, "Follow Me."  I eventually acquired all four of Artful Dodger's LPs, and re-acquired the first two in the CD format, but my Artful Dodger collection began with that EP.




You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 



Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO Flashback: 19 Years Ago Today



On December 28, 1998, my co-host Dana Bonn and I arrived at Westcott Community Center in Syracuse, ascended the stairs, and made our way to a tiny little radio studio tucked away in the corner. Calling it "humble" makes it seem more palatial than it is. Dana had been there before, and I think I had been there, too.

But this was the first visit that counted. After years of effort, our mutant collective Syracuse Community Radio had finally succeeded in getting on the air. WXXE-FM had just begun broadcasting within the past day or two. When we got to the studio that Sunday night, DJ Eric Strattman was nearing the end of his first show (Unsupervised, I Hit My Head), and announcing on-air that listeners should stay tuned for the debut of Dana & Carl on The Kids Are Alright!

We politely corrected him. We'd planned to use my 45 of The Pleasers' cover of The Who's power pop classic "The Kids Are Alright" as our opening title theme--It's Sunday night, and the kids are alright!- but Dana informed me on the way in that the studio's turntable wasn't working yet. So we defaulted to another title. At 9:00 pm Eastern on December 28, 1998, WXXE-FM gave the world the first edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl.

Dana and I had already developed (if that's the word) a format over the preceding seven years or so, beginning with a show called We're Your Friends For Now from January to June of 1992, and continuing with various similar (albeit short-term) ventures through the years that tumbled after. This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio was a continuation of that, and it has somehow endured over the course of 19 years and 903 shows (plus a few special editions). We outlived WXXE, as that weak signal proved ineffectual in actually, y'know, allowing people to tune in and hear us. We outlived our first webcast operation, scuttled as too costly at the beginning of 2007, and replaced it through the will of our listeners (and a few thousand dollars in listener donations) with the independent Westcott Radio. And recently, we returned to the airwaves stronger than ever, with the launch of The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7 FM. The webcast is the same, but it's migrated to a link within Spark's page at sparksyracuse.org.

People in Syracuse can hear us now. I can tune in at home, and I can listen to Spark in the car, cruisin' down the highway to the sounds of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Everyone's Invited with Mark HughsonPlay I Some Music with Papa Andy, The Record Farm with Mike Adams, Old Time Tunes with Darlin' Clementine, and Hit 'n' Mix with Larry Hoyt. It's a vast improvement over the ol' WXXE days, when The Double X's wimpy widdle whisper was heard primary by (presumably) disinterested cows loafin' near our transmitter in rural Fenner, NY.

Much has changed in 19 years, but much has not. We're still in the same cramped excuse for a studio. We're still doing what amounts to a slight weekly variation on the same damned show. We're still there Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern. And we're still The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin' Planet.

This Sunday night, New Year's Eve, we're going to try to close out 2017 with a celebration of some of the year's best music, a celebration of our own essential 2017 compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Raduio, Volume 4, a celebration of a few milestone anniversaries that occurred in 2017, and a celebration of the work of some of the cherished performers we lost in 2017. That latter sad category includes the late, great Pat DiNizio, and we'll salute his life with lots of great stuff from this week's Featured Act, The Smithereens.

19 years. It has been a lot of fun. Year # 20 starts Sunday.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse on The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 
https://carlcafarelli.blogspot.com/

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe FlashcubesChris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 903: A New Wave Dance Party!



In 1977, singer Johnny Rotten told Rolling Stone that his controversial group The Sex Pistols was just a dance band. He added that their goal was to destroy the world, but still: a dance band. Just a dance band.

I think many people outside of that crucible of punk and new wave in the late '70s and early '80s tend to overlook the pure fun aspect of our noise and clatter. There was anger, sure, a rejection of the status quo, a vocal repudiation of stuff we didn't like (from disco to dinosaurs), an embrace of flamboyance and a determined celebration of our own willful square-peggedness. But really, truly, honestly--we just wanted to dance.

We wanted to dance to pop music that felt like it was ours. We didn't want to listen to Saturday Night Fever, or Hotel California, nor anything else we deemed boring. Did we contradict ourselves? We were large. We contained multitudes. And we wanted to dance.

To all of you who remember, and understand: Dance!

NEXT WEEK: If the scheduling works out, we'll bid farewell to 2017 with a celebration. No, the year was not what we wanted it to be, but alongside our usual irresistible TIRnRR fare we'll celebrate some of the great new music of 2017, we'll celebrate the cherished memories of some of the great artists we lost, we'll celebrate our own 2017 compilation This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4, we'll celebrate some anniversaries, and we'll celebrate the music of our Featured Act The Smithereens, in memory of Pat DiNizio. We'll dance. It's what we do. IN TWO WEEKS: THE COUNTDOWN!! And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse on The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 
https://carlcafarelli.blogspot.com/

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe FlashcubesChris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

TIRnRR # 903: 12/24/17

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
THE B-52'S: Rock Lobster (Rhino, Nude On The Moon)
SWEET: Fox On The Run (Capitol, The Best Of Sweet)
M: Pop Muzik (Music Club, Pop Muzik)
THE BUGGLES: Video Killed The Radio Star (Island, The Age Of Plastic)
KATRINA & THE WAVES: Walking On Sunshine (Capitol, Katrina & The Waves)
DEXY'S MIDNIGHT RUNNERS: Come On Eileen (Mercury, Too-Rye-Ay)
--
TELEVISION: See No Evil [alternate version] (Rhino, The Complete Elektra Recordings)
JOHNNY THUNDERS & THE HEARTBREAKERS: Chinese Rocks (Jungle, L.A.M.F.)
THE RAMONES: I Wanna Be Sedated (Rhino, Road To Ruin)
THE NEW YORK DOLLS: Trash (Mercury, New York Dolls)
RICHARD HELL & THE VOIDOIDS: Blank Genration (Sire, Blank Generation)
BLONDIE: One Way Or Another (Chrysalis, The Platinum Collection)
--
PUBLIC IMAGE LTD.: Public Image (Virgin, The Greatest Hits, So Far)
GANG OF FOUR: I Found That Essence Rare (EMI, Entertainment!)
THE STRANGLERS: No More Heroes (Parlophone, Peaches)
THE VAPORS: Turning Japanese (EMI, The Best Of The Vapors)
THE BUZZCOCKS: Whatever Happened To...? (IRS, Singles Going Steady)
SQUEEZE: Annie Get Your Gun (A & M, The Squeeze Story)
--
THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You (Nemperor, The Romantics)
THE RUBINOOS: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (Castle, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Rubinoos)
THE RASPBERRIES: Go All The Way (RPM, Power Pop Volume One)
THE RECORDS: Teenarama (Virgin, Smashes, Crashes And Near-Misses)
THE REZILLOS: Top Of The Pops (Sire, Can't Stand The Rezillos)
R.E.M.: It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (IRS, And I Feel Fine....)
--
THE UNDERTONES: Teenage Kicks (Rykodisc, The Undertones)
PSYCHEDELIC FURS: Pretty In Pink (Columbia, Talk Talk Talk)
SPLIT ENZ: History Never Repeats (A & M, History Never Repeats)
THE GO-GO'S: Our Lips Are Sealed (IRS, Beauty And The Beat)
THE BANGLES: Manic Monday (Columbia, Different Light)
ALTERED IMAGES: I Could Be Happy (Music Club, Happy Birthday)
--
THE FLASHCUBES: It's You Tonight (Northside, Bright Lights)
THE TEARJERKERS: Syracuse Summer (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3)
THE POPTARTS: Jealousy (PlumTone, Fresh...Out Of The Toaster)
JONATHAN RICHMAN & THE MODERN LOVERS: Roadrunner (Once) (Sanctuary, Roadrunner, Roadrunner)
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS: Pump It Up (Rykodisc, This Year's Model)
ROBERT GORDON: Someday, Someway (Razor & Tie, Red Hot 1977-1981)
--
THE PRETENDERS: Cuban Slide (Rhino, Pretenders)
THE ENGLISH BEAT: Save It For Later (IRS, What Is Beat?)
THE NERVES: Hanging On The Telephone (Alive, One Way Ticket)
CHEAP TRICK: I Want You To Want Me (Epic, At Budokan)
THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Epic, London Calling)
NICK LOWE: Cruel To Be Kind (Yep Roc, Quiet Please...)
--
THE CURE: Jumping Someone Else's Train (Elektra, Staring At The Sea)
ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK: Enola Gay (Spectrum, The Best Of OMD)
NEW ORDER: Temptation (Rhino, Singles)
JOY DIVISION: Love Will Tear Us Apart ( Rhino, Substance)
THE REPLACEMENTS: I Will Dare (Rhino, Let It Be)
THE SMITHEREENS: Behind The Wall Of Sleep (Enigma, Especially For You)
THE PRETENDERS: Swinging London (Rhino, Pretenders)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

COMIC BOOK RETROVIEW: My Introduction To Aquaman




This was originally posted as part of a longer piece covering both pop music and comic book characters. It's separated here for convenience.



I don't think I was aware of Aquaman before my Dad bought me a copy of Aquaman # 30 (November-December 1966), which cover-featured Aquaman's funeral. Aquaman would eventually become one of my favorite superheroes, but I doubt that I'd heard of him before getting this issue. But who can resist a cover full of superheroes? Fine, I didn't know Metamorpho or Hawkman yet, but I sure knew Batman and Superman! The thing is, even if Bruce and Clark had been replaced on this cover by some other superheroes that I didn't know--Green ArrowPlastic ManMartian ManhunterThe Hooded Halibut, even--I would still have been intrigued: it was a comic book cover full of superheroes! What more could a six-year-old want?! Perhaps it was a cheat that these heroes only appeared in a single panel in the story itself (with Metamorpho entirely hidden, but The Flash bringing up the rear), but I don't believe that put me off.

Given that the King of the Sea's comic book lasted another 26 issues in the '60s (and has been revived again and again since then), and that he became a Saturday morning TV cartoon star in the Fall of 1967 (and did so again as one of the Super Friends in the early '70s), and that he'll soon be moving into blockbuster Hollywood feature film stardom with the forthcoming Justice League and Aquaman movies...yeah, given all that, it ain't a spoiler to reveal that Aquaman survived his own death in Aquaman # 30. He's resilient.





I think I saw DC house ads for Aquaman #s 31 and 32, plus The Brave And The Bold # 73 (co-starring Aquaman and The Atom), but my next Aquaman adventure was Aquaman # 36 (November-December 1967), with its cover blurb proclaiming, "The King Of The Sea Is Now The King Of TV!" This would have gone on sale around the same time as the debut of the above-mentioned TV cartoon series, The Superman-Aquaman Hour Of Adventure on CBS. The series continued Superman and Superboy's  cartoon exploits from the previous fall's The New Adventures Of Superman, supplemented by all-new animated action starring Aquaman and Aqualad, plus one additional cartoon each week starring one of a rotating line-up of DC superstars (The Flash, Hawkman, The Atom, Green LanternThe Teen Titans, and The Justice League of America).

These cartoons were terrible--hokey, juvenile, formulaic, and strictly by-the-numbers--but I just loved 'em as a kid. Frankly, the comics at the time weren't exactly cutting-edge themselves, but there was undeniable energy, and there was artwork by Nick Cardy, who is possibly my all-time favorite comics artist. The TV show added a pair of black boots to Aquaman's costume, and I don't think it made much use of the comic-book supporting cast other than trusty sidekick Aqualad; the villains were there--I think I remember seeing Black Manta on TV--but there was no sign of Aquababy or Aquagirl. And there wasn't nearly enough of Aquaman's beautiful wife MeraThat was a shame! As drawn by Cardy, Mera was the hottest-looking female character in comics at the time.



But my favorite run of Aquaman stories began in 1968, when Dick Giordano took over as editor with Aquaman # 40. Giordano replaced veteran writer Bob Haney with young turk Steve Skeates, and the series just exploded with imagination, drama, and sensational quirkiness. Skeates' first order of business was a long, long serial involving Aquaman's search for Mera, who'd been abducted by unknown assailants. Giordano took Nick Cardy off the main art chores--Cardy retained cover art duties, and proceeded to knock everyone out with some of the finest covers of his long career--but found a more than able replacement in Jim Aparo. Like Giordano and Skeates, Aparo had come to DC fresh from budget-priced-but-brilliant work at Charlton Comics, a low-rent line we'll be discussing in a couple of days. Aparo's work on Aquaman was stunning, gorgeous--so much so that I still consider Aparo the definitive Aquaman artist, my eternal allegiance to Nick Cardy notwithstanding. This was just a terrific, underrated run, one of my favorite runs of any character at any time.











Sadly, sales weren't sufficient to keep Aquaman afloat. The book was cancelled with its 56th issue (March-April 1971), cover-featuring "The Creature That Devoured Detroit!" The book may have been too off-kilter to survive, but it was a blast while it lasted. Aquaman returned a few years later in the pages of Adventure Comics (inspiring a letter of comment from a certain future blogger in North Syracuse), and he regained his own comic book in the mid-'70s. The current Aquaman comic book is pretty cool (and Mera is still a knockout), but no version of these characters could ever top my affection for the Skeates-Aparo-Giordano era.


Splash page of Aquaman # 56
My letter to Aquaman, Adventure Comics # 444

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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.