About Me

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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, February 21, 2017

WHAT IF? SO WHAT? The 1979 Fantasy And Science Fiction Journal, Part 4

Continuing entries from the journal I kept for Dr. Calvin Rich's Fantasy And Science Fiction class when I was a senior at Brockport in the Fall of 1979.

# 4: 9/22/79

Let's go back to something I talked briefly about a couple of entries back: comic book superheroes and their relationship to the ideals of fantasy and romance. As I've stated previously, I grew up with these four-color avengers; the twice-a-week televised adventures of Batman in 1966 could well be said to have changed my life significantly, introducing me to the fabled "SENSE OF WONDER" that is the stuff of caped crusader capers. Batman and Robin were my heroes, joined shortly thereafter by Superman, Captain America, The Avengers, The Flash, Iron Man, The Sub-Mariner, The Incredible Hulk, Plastic Man, et al. My imagination was ignited with incandescent fancy--here was a world where justice always triumphed, where all the unspeakably evil schemes of The Joker and Dr. Light were ultimately to no avail, for The Justice League Of America was on the job, crusading for good for no reason other than because it was right.

The reference to a certain "sense of wonder" is neither carelessly nor casually included; I first encountered the phrase several years ago, in a comic book letter column. When the term was brought up yesterday in class, I was immediately drawn back in my mind to the roots of my interest in the fantastic and larger-than-life. Comic books were, for me, the essential "dream factory" that stimulated the growing possibilities of the imaginative mind. Parallel worlds? Common stuff. Extraterrestrial visitation? Just look at Superman and The Martian Manhunter. Time travel? Superboy traveled to the 30th century every month to visit The Legion Of Super-Heroes. Horrible monsters? Well, what could be more horrifying than the image of The Joker, an insane killer whose face was permanently marked with the visage of a degenerate, laughing clown? There were no limitations in superheroic epics; all that could be imagined was not only possible, but expected within the average day in the life of Captain Marvel (who, with ONE MAGIC WORD, was transformed from an eager adolescent into the World's Mightiest Mortal--the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy!)

To me, the exploits of these comic book superheroes were classic romantic fantasy, drawing upon the concepts of the improbable, the implausible and, specifically, the IMPOSSIBLE, elevated to the grand, larger-than-life scale of nonstop adventure and justice-seeking action. As I grew up with the world's greatest superheroes--and as the intelligence and intensity of their lives and loves attempted to grow in turn--I also grew from my desire to be a costumed defender of justice myself, into my desire to chronicle their stories [ahem].

More on that next time, Bat-fans!

DR. RICH'S COMMENT: Dr. Rich underlined my phrase "caped crusader capers" and wrote, "Good."

2017 POSTSCRIPT: Don't listen to my silly 19-year-old self; I have never grown out of my desire to be a costumed defender of justice. Don't believe me? Well, when's the last time you heard of Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom terrorizing Syracuse? Never? Ha! My work is done here--rest easy, citizens!


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