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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 NewsThe Syracuse New Times, Big Stir magazine, and AHOY Comics.  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 19, 2017

THE EVERLASTING FIRST: Quick Takes For O [comics edition]

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.


I first heard of the pulp hero Operator 5 in the pages of Steranko's The History Of The Comics in the early-to-mid '70s, as I poured through that book's intoxicating, intriguing coverage of the bloody pulp magazines of the 1930s. The Shadow! The Avenger! The Black Bat! The Phantom Detective! G-8 and his Battle Aces! The Spider! Captain Future! Among these ten-cent avengers was Operator 5. I have yet to read a single one of his adventures. But I still have my copy of The Yellow Scourge, third in a series of Operator 5 pulp paperback reprints, a book which I picked up during the 1975 Florida vacation mentioned above. I also haven't yet read the Lone Ranger paperback I bought in the same time frame. I'll get to 'em. Don't rush me!


May as well confess this right up front: I was never much of a fan of Batman's subordinate little super-group The Outsiders. Created by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Jim Aparo, Batman And The Outsiders replaced the long-running Batman team-up title The Brave And The Bold upon the latter's cancellation in 1983. The team debuted in The Brave And The Bold # 200, the book's final issue. I loved the first half of that issue, a generations-spanning tale linking the alternate-world Earth-2 incarnation of The Batman from the '30s to the '50s to the then-current Dark Knight in "our" reality of Earth-1. That two-part story was also written by Barr, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, and it was a nice little gift for long-time Batfans. But the Outsiders' debut left me cold, in spite of characteristically superlative art by Aparo. I hated the Batman depicted in that story, a self-righteous dick who petulantly quits the Justice League because the other JLA members are being almost equally dickish. Bah. I didn't care about the new characters Barr introduced as The Outsiders--Geo-Force, Katana, and Halo--and while I did like the two pre-existing characters included in the group (Black Lightning and Metamorpho), the whole thing plainly was not meant for me. I did buy several issues of the new series, but I could never really develop any affection for it. I do like some of Barr's writing outside The Outsiders, especially a very nice 4-issue Green Arrow mini-series he wrote, some of his other Batman work (particularly the 1987 graphic novel Batman: Son Of The Demon), and his own creation The Maze Agency, a nicely-done detective series. But I could not get into The Outsiders.

Dicks. The lot of 'em.

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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. 

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