Sunday, October 31, 2010

A "Magic of the Cards"


Welcome to a
of the
- HALLOWEEN - 2010!

(previous entries can be found at links at the end of this post)


As a change of pace from the previous years' look at Dr. Strange themed Halloween costumes - this year, we're looking at Dr. Strange themed Halloween "merchandise"... of a sort.

Back before cellphones with crazy-unlimited minute plans existed, people still used public PAY PHONES (*gasp!* Oh, Horror!), so there were such things as "phone cards" which would have pre-paid amounts of air-time credited to them, which you could use to make your long-distance phone calls by dialing a special number which was printed on the back of the card.

Similar things still exist, obviously, but back in 1994 this was all new and as such, phone cards were available everywhere, from almost any company that wanted to try their hand at it.

So, it should come as no surprise that of the many characters and properties that were licensed for phone cards, MARVEL characters were no exception.

One of the sets that Marvel made available was for HALLOWEEN of 1994!


Advertisement for Marvel's Halloween edition phone cards.
"And you thought calls to Europe were long-distance...
Marvel Halloween phone cards will let you contact...
the great beyond!"

Each card entitled its bearer to 10 minutes of phone air-time and a special 2-minute "story message" from Marvel characters, which would be available by dialing the special number and entering a secret code (found by scratching off a section of the card back).

Of course, for me to be blogging about it here, there MUST have been a DOCTOR STRANGE card among the assortment... (you all know me too well).


This card featured "Doctor Strange" vs Nightmare, although, truthfully, it is not DOCTOR Strange at all on the card, but one of the two "Strangers" that he magically cloned from himself. (The other being; "Vincent Stevens".)
This one was simply called "Strange", and was preeminent in the Doctor Strange; Sorcerer Supreme title from late 1993 to early 1995, so this would have been the "face" of Doctor Strange during that time-frame.

by Mel Rubi

The Doctor Strange card was drawn by Mark Buckingham, who was the series' cover artist for that 1994 period (also penciling some of those issues and the ones that drew the title to a close).

All of the cards were rendered by great comic artists:
-clockwise from top left-

Dr. Strange - Mark Buckingham
Morbius - Mike Mignola
Spider-Man vs Green Goblin and Hobgoblin - Mike Allred
Ghost Rider - Steve Lightle ???

I have all four of these cards - purchased new at the time - and promptly used the air-time and recorded the Halloween story/messages to a mini-cassette inside my answering machine.

So, while I might include the rest on another installment, allow me to present, for your Halloween entertainment, the "story/ message" on the Doctor Strange card.

Be forewarned, it is BAD.
SO bad that it's almost good.
Watch out for a lot of bad acting, a lame ending and, since it's obviously the same voice "actor" performing (and most-likely a budget that didn't allow for 2nd takes), a screw-up on which voice goes to which character.

(transcript written below the sound clip - feel free to read along)

*sound FX : (GONG/ Howling winds)*


"I am DOCTOR STRANGE; Master of the Mystic Arts!
Don't be tricked though, that doesn't make me a carnival illusionist or some tuxedo-garbed nightclub act...

As protector of this plane, it has been my sworn duty to defend this realm from the dread likes of Dormammu, the manipulative mechanizations of Baron Mordo and the idiot entrappings of the Mindless Ones.

The greatest threat to this world is the being known as... NIGHTMARE!
Dangerous, I say, especially on this night; All-Hallows Eve.
We all enter his realm allowing ourselves to become subservient to his darkness as we close our eyes and stumble into unconsciousness.

The forces are greater than usual, and in his realm, it is possible to dream your own death!"

"Strange?! You'll never escape this time! Even with your cursed Cloak of Levitation. Think of yourself as my guest. The guest of Nightmare!"


"By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth...!"

* SFX: (chains clanking) *

"I'm...I'm covered in chains!"


"And as my guest, I expect certain courtesies, like the key to entering the realm of the conscious, the land of waking day."

(wrong voice used)
"NEVER! Your chains were useless Nightmare! Let's see how a containment spell keeps you!"

* SFX: (Gong) *


"Curse you, Magician! If I can't enter your world, I'll make sure that no one ever wakes again!"


"By the All-Seeing Eye.... NOOOooooooooo!!!!"

* SFX: (Alarm Clock.) *


"Huh? Wha...? Oh... The clock! 
The spell of never-ending sleep. The unbreaking chains of Chinannigan. All-Hallows Eve? It was all just a dream. No... A NIGHTMARE..."

- END -

OK. Let's get it over with right now... that WAS pretty bad.
"By the All-Seeing Eye... NOooooooooooo!!!"

Some of the worst writing / acting in the history of ever.

The Unbreaking Chains of Chinannigan?
More like the Untalented Stylings of Shenanigans!

Sadly, the general thrust of the story makes it seem that Doctor Strange's worst foeman is the by-product of a pepperoni pizza eaten too close to bed-time.
If all you need to defeat Nightmare is to be able to wake up in the middle of the night, then any over-40-year-old man (or late-night beer drinkers) would be adequate defenders of the realm of consciousness since those guys need to (hopefully) wake-up to take a whizz a few times a night.

But still, it is a fairly cool, and VERY rare bit of eclectica from my Sanctum Sanctorum Comix collection.

As a bonus, if you have trick-or-treaters coming to your door, who you feel don't deserve a "treat", play a "trick" on them by making them listen to this little radio-play instead of receiving candy.
Just don't blame me if the tiny ghouls and goblins TP (toilet paper) your house and toss eggs at your car.

"By the All-Seeing Eye... NOooooooooooo!!!"


Previous entries in this series include: 

Featuring: three different variants of the official licensed "Ben Cooper" costumes of Doctor Strange. [HERE]

Featuring: two of my own home-made Doctor Strange costumes that garnered me a "win" in the Wizard Magazine annual costume contest (Wizard mag appearance included). - [HERE]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MIS-Adventure Into FEAR.
A review of TOMB of TERROR # 1

I have a few posts near-ready to go, and timed to post in the days leading to Halloween, so since, due to my new work schedule, I'm not quite able to present my New Avengers # 5 post as of yet (soon, soon,)  I am going to take this time to post a mini-review (aka; rant) of "TOMB OF TERROR" # 1.

Due to my schedule, I've only read the Man-Thing story thus far since my copy arrived today.
If you want a review of the Werewolf-By-Night or Son-of-Satan stories within, maybe there are blogs dedicated to those characters on the web that can help out.
I know they all fall within my "6-Dimensions of Doctor Strange" philosophy, but time is tight these days.


Legion of Monsters - Redux!

MAN-THING: “Descent of The Beast”,
story by Paul Hornschemeier, art by Marc Texiera.

After reading the MAN-THING 10-page story found inside this black-and-white anthology one-shot, I found that I probably couldn't be more disappointed with it if they tried to make it worse than it was.

The solicitation copy described the story to be as thus:

The mal-formed Man-Thing, temporarily in possession of his mind, attempts to save a man from certain death at the hands of racist hunters.

The writer, Paul Hornschemeier, writes a tale of having the Man-Thing come into temporary possession of the mentality of his long-lost human side; Ted Sallis.
Unfortunately for us, it is an uneven, and unoriginal tale.

First, Hornschemeier uses a B.S. premise of having Doctor Strange granting "Manny" the psyche of Ted Sallis - his human side - for awhile. I'll get into why this is flawed, soon enough.

The story starts "in medias res" with neither idea nor clue as to when or what happened prior to this, nor how.
After mystically transporting himself, Man-Thing and an unnamed woman somewhere near the Man-Thing's Florida Everglades home, Strange tells Sallis that he is unsure how long Sallis will have before his mind regresses to the near-blank slate of the muck-monster.

In the time he is alotted, "Ted/Manny" is supposedly to spend it together with a lady-friend (presumably, his estranged wife, Ellen Brandt-Sallis, although, Ellen has always been shown as a raven-haired brunette, and this woman is a blonde - but that's a minor quibble). Yet, he doesn't spend it with his wife/girlfriend like it is suggested, but instead, after quickly driving him to the swamp via the back of a pick-up truck, (not like Doctor Strange couldn't have teleported them to the swamp's edge if that was the intent) Ellen gives "Ted/Manny" a tear-felt touch and sends him off, with his mind slowly slipping away.
In this way, the writer is granted the crutch of 1st person prose to write his story, instead of the usual 2nd person, or altered-state of perception in which most Man-Thing tales are penned.

I'd be willing to allow that concept for one reason:
  • it allows for a seldom-seen glimpse into the mind of Ted Sallis.
However, it is a story-beat that has been used  a few times already over the years - some mystic or scientific "whammy" allows the humanity of Ted Sallis to emerge -albeit temporarily - from the muck and mire of  the mind of Man-Thing before the inevitable return to near-mindlessness.

Another hackneyed aspect to the tale is the basic antangonist/ victim dynamic.
Two stereotypical southern "rednecks", armed with shotguns, chase a single, black male into the swamp and seek to kill him, for reasons unknown except, seemingly for that of race-hate.
This is one of those oft-used story backdrops that Man-Thing stories have employed time and again.
While it isn't always a southern-white/ black-male racial portrayal (other times it was a white male, a woman, a rogue cop chasing down a black man, a ballerina, a clown, etc... on several separate occasions, that white-supremest/ black-male death-hunt has been used), it isn't as though this story sheds any new insight on the problem of hate-relations. It's just a means to an end for the story.

Man-Thing, with Sallis' mind ebbing away, much like the waters at the edge of the swamp, finds that with the free will that he is briefly possessed, he will try to right this wrong, and hopefully atone for some of his past transgressions (either as Sallis or Man-Thing).

In typical modern Marvel-comic style, while routing the two racist rednecks, Sallis actually rips one guy in half (reminiscent of the several times that character; "The SENTRY" tore various foes; Carnage and Ares among them, in twain)!

But all this is all well and good for a stock, 10-page anthology (inventory) tale.
What truly ruins the story is the ending.

While I will give away the end after the warning, I will merely say here that the "twist-ending" wrap-up shows either;
  • a fundamental lack of understanding of the character of Man-Thing. 
  • poor communication / coordination between writer and artist.
  • a lack of editorial insight and control.
  • or, all of the above
But here is the problem with the ending...


Unfortunately, Hornschemeier totally botches the ending (or perhaps the artist; Mark Texiera, misinterpreted the script), because by the end, as the victimized kid emerges safely from the swamp, seeing civilization up ahead, his face reads "relief"... and not "fear".
The fear is washed away in that moment of realization that he has escaped a horrid fate.

Relieved that discovering that he is free of the hunters, that Man-Thing is nowhere in sight, that he is mere feet away from reaching a paved road with cars in sight, the young man has a broad smile and obvious quickened step.

So, there would be NO reason for Man-Thing, now without Sallis' control, to suddenly appear, grab and burn the young man (smoke and flame emitting from his eye-sockets).

Just piss-poor writing, and a story being published that should not have seen print without some serious editorial dictates of rewrite.

I can't tell for sure if it is Marvel-editorial going down the tubes, or the lack of reading skills/ assessment/ expectations of the masses which may be aiding and abetting Marvel in turning in drek in the guise of art.
(I'm more inclined to blame the professionals for their being less-than-so, than blaming the consumer.)


Now, just in case you're reading this, and are unsure as to the specifics of the Man-Thing's modus operendi, and why I seem so down on this piece of work, allow me to give a brief info-dump.

Man-Thing is a near-mindless and mostly mute bog creature, the intellect of the biochemist (Ted Sallis) buried deep inside his dulled mind.

Imagine trying to think through an overpowering dull headache that makes it near impossible to add one plus one.
That's probably even more than the level of thought that Manny possesses.
At times, fleeting thoughts rise to the surface of consciousness. Fading impressions and trace memories that aid him in understanding what things are, but otherwise, no true "mind".

Instead, he is an empath, drawn to the emotions of others.

He reacts in an hostile manner to negative thoughts and emotions.
Hate and jealousy irritate him.
FEAR causes him pain.
When he feels another's fear, he has to do anything he can to stop it.
Due to a chemical process, when he TOUCHES anyone while in that state, their fear causes him to exude a caustic agent that sears them - often times, causing total combustion.

The tag-line; "Whoever Knows Fear, BURNS at the touch of the... MAN-THING!" sits atop the logo of each issue of his old magazines (and is used in almost every other appearance in others' titles).

It takes a decent writer to craft stories wherein the creature isn't just some hand of justice, conveniently meting out a good ass-burning to those who deserve it.
Overall, the best Man-Thing writer was the late, great Steve Gerber, who handled the majority of the "Adventure into Fear" and volume 1 series.
If you have any opportunity to read some Gerber issues, you won't be sorry.

However, if you require but one single issue to read, oddly enough, it isn't Gerber's... but the 1st issue of the 2nd volume, written by Michael Fleisher.
Seriously, it's a pretty good one, with an ending that always tugs a tear from me.
In it, was one of the closest instances of having the mind of Ted Sallis being returned to him - as a by-product of a serum and a loving, hands-on re-education / rehabilitation program.

This is one of the reasons that this story's use of Doctor Strange as the "Deus ex machina" to revive the dormant Ted Sallis persona feels wrong.

Sallis' mind has been kindled briefly by mystical means before. Each time it ended poorly.
One instance, Doctor Strange's oldest foe; Baron Mordo, once returned Sallis' mind to him in exchange for aid in a demonic ritual, only for Stephen Strange to state that it would be impossible to make permanent that retention of intellect. (Doctor Strange v2 40,41, Man-Thing v2 # 4)

Another instance, a demonic touch allowed for Sallis to regain awareness, but only to recoil and wish oblivion rather than have to feel his mind slipping away yet again. (Defenders v1 #98)

So it seems that unless a new, renewed life-affirming sense of hope were to permeate the soul of Ted Sallis, I don't see why he or Strange would try it again.

(Not that it wouldn't be something that you'd at least try every so often, but if the end result is always to feel your thoughts slipping away - to essentially suffer a sort of "death" each time, you'd be less likely to want to suffer through that more than a few times.)

Sadly, more permanent cures has long been discounted as being "impossible" on more than one occasion (as it had been oft-written - and spoken by Dr. Strange - that since the Man-Thing was created by a strange synthesis of science and sorcery that Strange would be unable to grant a return of Sallis' long-lost humanity).

Most Man-Thing stories are bittersweet, in that he never finds the solace he needs, and the few times he comes close to regaining his humanity, it slips away.
The tragic (or perhaps, kindest) cut to it is that since his intellect soon submerges, he will never remember how close he came.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's On The Other Side...

I had hoped to have my in-depth review of New Avengers # 5 up today, but alas, real-world responsibilities (and the post's growing size) prevented that from coming to pass.

However, all is not lost, as this entry really should be made first anyway (and, I was looking to have made this post several days ago, anyway... so, really, I've just shunted the whole publication schedule a little).

The reason for this post needing to come first is that it shows (and I will also be linking back to it form my NA # 5 review) what is to come after the events of that issue, thus helping me in some of my theories.

So, here is what we can expect in a month or so.

And just for the sake of tradition, I'll pull up this hoary old image to create the mood:

"Greetings, my friends.
We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I
are going to
spend the rest of our lives..."
... while reading comics.
"Official" graphic for this feature; "doctored" image from the cover to Strange Tales # 156
(original art by Marie Severin)

Alrighty then.

First, let's see what's looming on the horizon

And by LOOMING, I truly mean that...


INVADERS NOW! #4 (of 5)
Penciled by CAIO REISS
Cover by ALEX ROSS
Variant Cover by HOWARD CHAYKIN
You've seen the Invaders go up against Nazis, super-villains and mutant monsters...but you've never seen them take on an elder god. Shuma-Gorath -- "He Who Sleeps But Shall Awake" -- has set his sights on our world, and only the greatest heroes of World War II can stop him...quite possibly at the cost of their own souls!

For anyone NOT following the INVADERS: NOW mini-series, it seems to have a mystic-menace angle, with the first issue featuring the N'Garai demons and the golden age Vision being all "there is a mystic menace that is tied to our collective pasts"...

So, it is by only a small surprise that by issue 4, the shit really hits the fan with the appearance of Shuma Gorath; "He who sleeps but shall awaken".

Last seen being defeated (off-panel) by Doctor Strange in the "KNIGHTS 4" series (issues 25-27) the ancient evil has again returned.

I have long believed that this is ALL part of a mystical war undercurrent that has been brewing for years (I won't go into it again, but it revolves around a bunch of teaser stories from several years ago, wherein such events as we're seeing now in New Avengers were foretold to be coming).
With events like the Chaos War, the New Mutants in Limbo, Vampires in X-Men and much much more... the Marvel Universe is looking very "magical" as of late.

So, perhaps.
Just perhaps... the baddie behind it all in New Avengers will ultimately be shown to be someone like Shuma Gorath, or one of his emissaries.


As for the New Avengers and Doctor Strange and Doctor Voodoo, we'll see them in the next issue of New Avengers (# 6) but it looks like one -or both- of them might not be the same

Pencils & Cover by STUART IMMONEN
The shocking battle for our dimension comes to a shattering conclusion; and not everyone will survive!! Who will make the ultimate sacrifice to save us? Marvel fans will not want to miss this startling chapter in Avengers history.

My theory is that Doctor Voodoo, having lost his brother's spirit (Daniel Drumm perhaps being the one who makes the "ultimate" sacrifice) will go rogue and be all "Lawful Neutral" or "Neutral Evil" (to use classic D&D alignment terms).
Notice how Voodoo has his face all in shadow? And Strange's face is HALF shadowed?

Doctor Strange is looking to get a bad hand thrust upon him.


After the events of New Avengers, Doc is outed with the rest of the Illuminati and will have to deal with the mess of the Infinity Gems in the pages of the next arc of (adjectiveless - "classic") AVENGERS, starting with # 8.

Pencils & Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
The Story: The return of the Illuminati! Marvel's super-secret brain trust has reunited because someone is trying to put the Infinity Gauntlet back together. Who is it and will the Avengers be able to stop them in time? And what does any of this have to do with the Red Hulk?

This could very well be the tipping point for Doc, and sends him off to that "space adventure" in the HULK titles (as shown here in a previous post entitled; "Strange-us Quo - or- Future Doc"- [HERE]

Because, by the very next issue, Doc is supposedly channeling the evil ZOM energies that he absorbed from 'World War Hulk' - and which started the whole mess of his losing the title of Sorcerer Supreme.

Written by GREG PAK
As the onslaught of the Chaos King threatens existence itself, a terrible secret from the past makes Marlo Chandler, Rick Jones's wife, the most important mortal on the planet. The Incredible Hulks race their most demonic enemies across the country to reach Marlo in time -- but can they handle the revelations she brings? Plus: the return of Doctor Strange's darkest side!


So, if Marvel truly DOES co-ordinate things during their editorial retreats, and it's not just naked slip-n-slide contests, with Quesada and crew butt-sliding across beer-fountain slides of all of our hard-earned money, then perhaps this is a well-woven tapestry, leading to something...

But what that might be... Doc becoming a "ronin"-type sorcerer, masterless and beholden to no one... or slowly ascending to his former place as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme... I have no idea.

All that is for sure is that Doctor Strange isn't being killed off... yet.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The "BEST OF" vol 2: 2009-2010

 I'm not sure quite how, but somehow I managed to make it to 2 years of producing dubious "content" (of varying quality) for this blog!
(This, on top of the prior 10 years or so of my merely being an omni-present commenter/ know-it-all loudmouth on others blogs, message boards and random street corners.)

So, I thought it fitting to revisit a few of the "high-points" of this past year's blog-post entries.
Disclaimer: What might constitute "High-Points" may differ from person to person. I'm sure we can ALL agree that when the average content level is a mere "meh", anything above snore-inducing is a "high-point".

Unfortunately, I didn't DO this sort of thing for my FIRST year, so I'll be quickly working one up and "Ret-con posting" it in the proper place for anyone who wants to revisit Year One.

Who knows how to market himself? This guy!

OK, seriously...
Well... seeing as how I began my blogging on a whim one October day, two years ago, any semblance of a calendar-year can be tossed right out the window. So, we will focus on what I blogged from OCTOBER 11, 2009 to today.

Feel free to use this opportunity to peruse some of these old posts - whether you have read them already or not, there is actually some really good stuff in here.

Let's see:


- How about we start off with a tribute to JACK KIRBY, an anecdote wherein I met the legendary creator, and detail the few instances where he drew Doctor Strange - [HERE]


It seems fitting to recall that I gave extensive publication histories for two of my favorite characters:
- DOCTOR STRANGE (in my 200th Post - wherein I search for what should have been issue # 200 of Dr. Strange) - [HERE]

- Interested in comic-themed apparel? T-shirts? Hats? Ties? Underpants??
Well, then THIS multi-part series is for you. Showcasing my insane collection of comic-themed garb, with plenty of pics and histories of the items and manufacturers (and I even drop some publication knowledge in there) - either follow along in order, or jump to whichever post strikes your fancy:


- part 1 : CAPS and TIES : [HERE]
- part 5 : "THE END" of GARMENTS  : [HERE]
- Supplemental Entry #1 : [HERE]
- Supplemental Entry #2 : [HERE]


- On the subject of super-hero garb, Halloween is approaching, so take a walk down memory-lane with me as I showcased myself photographed (back in 1997) wearing a couple of home-made Doctor Strange costumes that garnered me a "win" in the Wizard Magazine annual costume contest:


- Liked that? Interested in grown men playing dress-up as comic characters? Well, if you're either a cosplay enthusiast or just a weird comic fan, this series, wherein I dressed up as DR. DOOM for a series of vid-shorts will make you laugh, cry and doubt my sanity:
And Now... A Word From DOOM !
- Episode I : "BAH!" - [HERE]
- Episode II : "SNUGGIE!" - [HERE]
- Episode III : "NOG!" - [HERE]
- Episode IV : "PROSTITUTE!" - [HERE]


- Yikes! See that last one? "Prostitute?" What the heck's THAT all about?
Well, if women who have lust on their minds is a big draw for you, then you need to check out the long-running, continuing series that I affectionately call:
- 4th ENTRY -"Dead Can Dance" (the Horizontal Boogie) -  [HERE]
- 5th ENTRY : "OOO + XXX" (hugs and kisses) - [HERE]
- Addendum : Limericks from the Book of Vishanti  - [HERE]

Previous entries were from 2008 - 2009, but can still be found via links in each of these entries.


- And, to give equal time, just to show you that Dr. Strange also goes all-out to score points with the ladies (well... Clea mostly). This is for the young lovers out there... just to show you how high the dating bar has been set by Doctor Stephen Strange.
DR. STRANGE; VALENTINE SUPREME (-or- The Hoary Hosts of Hallmark) - [HERE]


- If original artwork is your lure, I presented a series of posts (which tied into a series from my other "Art-Blog") wherein I showcased some of my own original artwork - all of which feature Doctor Strange.
(with some also featuring Man-Thing, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Clea, Dormammu, Eternity, Nightmare, The Ancient One and The Defenders; Silver Surfer, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Hulk)!

While some are "professional" submission samples, a few go waaaaay back to my childhood and my first attempts at drawing the mystic master.
 Teaser samples are found in these posts, with the full-reveal in posts on the sister site (via provided links).

- 1st in the Series - 4 Wizard magazine cover submissions - from the year 2000 - [HERE]
- 2nd in the Series - 11-Page "Secret Defenders" story- from 1993 - [HERE]
- 3rd in the Series - 6-Page "Doctor Strange" story - from 1989 - [HERE]
(with Stan Lee critique anecdote)
- 4th in the Series - "Doctor Strange" pin-ups - from 1989 back to 1980 - [HERE]
(with John Byrne critique anecdote)
- 5th in the Series - web-site banner headers "Defenders" - from 2002 - [HERE]


Of course, SOME comic-blog readers actually like to read about... oh, I dunno... comics!
So, here are some crazy in-depth reviews:

- STRANGE V2 mini-series # 1 - 4 - [HERE]
- GIRL COMICS # 2 : "Rondeau" - [HERE]
- THUNDERBOLTS # 144 - 145 - with MAN-THING - [HERE]
- WEB of SPIDER-MAN # 6 - with MAN-THING - [HERE]
- DOCTOR AMERICA : Occult Operative of Liberty - [HERE]


- But what kind of blog would this be if I didn't rant and rave once in awhile...mostly against Brian Bendis' treatment of Dr. Strange in the pages of New Avengers:

- Pick a Card... ANY Card... No. Not THAT One. (Muckraking Marvel's Magic Make-Over) - [HERE]
- DITKO, oh, DITKO - Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? (WHY is Bendis allowed to destroy one of the founding fathers of Marvel comics?) - [HERE]
- The EYE of the BEHOLDEN (Review of New Avengers # 4) - [HERE]


- Like to watch TV and films? Like reviews of same? Then these bits of TV-related commentary may be of interest:
- SUPER HERO SQUAD : NIGHT IN THE SANCTORUM - an in-depth (no. REALLY, in-depth) review: [HERE]
- Dr. Strange "Appearance" on 'That 70's Show' - [HERE]
- Dr. Strange in an AVENGERS "PRE-MAKE" Fan-Film - [HERE]


- On my birthday this year, I revisited a subject and solved a 20-year-old mystery about my ROM : SPACEKNIGHT "action figure" - all the while linking to the previous year's birthday post as well, wherein the whole thing culminates. Oh, yeah... and I "dress up" like ROM... sorta. - [HERE]


- And, of course, we here at the Sanctum Sanctorum Comix blog also have our own "Awards Show", the "SANCTUM AWARDS".
I present "Sancty's" to deserving "Best of" and Worst of" categories.
Sometimes this is the only place where I may discuss certain titles, storylines or products.
Other times, I am revisiting older posts with my votes.
Either way, a thorough overview of the year's official product output is reviewed.
The 2009 SANCTUM AWARDS - can be found [HERE]


I would be remiss if I didn't thank the many friends, fans, readers, followers, fellow-bloggers and wonderful souls out there who have helped, inspired, cajoled, cudgeled and commented.
A list of but a scant few (in no particular order) are:

-Howard Hallis-
-Mike Sterling and his "Progressive Ruin"-
-Fox from  "Strange Occasions"-
-Dave from "Blog for ROM Fans..."-
-Plok from "A Trout in the Milk"-
-Sean Aaron-
-John Sisson-
-googum from "Random Happenstance"
-Erick from "Wonderful Wonderblog"-
-waaaay too many awesome blogs and forums-
-numerous "anonymous" commenters-
- soooo many more blogs and people who have been there along the way -
One very special reader who helped keep me blogging - most literally - by giving me an awesome laptop set-up for no other reason than she is awesome.
The tale of that can be found in a post called:
ANGELS on EARTH - Behold... Metatron! [HERE]

And creators without whom this blog would be about my collection of rare molds, spores and fungus':
- Steve Ditko -
- Jack Kirby -
- Stan Lee -
- J.M. DeMatteis -
- Steve Gerber -
- Dan Green -
- Steve Englehart -
- Gene Colan -
- Marshall Rogers -
- Michael Golden -
- Paul Smith -
- Mike Ploog -
- Dan Adkins -
- Steve Rude -
- Bill Everett -
- John Byrne -
- Peter Gillis -
-Roger Stern -
- Frank Brunner -
- Kevin Nowlan -
- Chris Warner -
- P. Craig Russell -
- Gerry Conway -
- Sandy Plunkett -
- Alan Davis -
- Mike Allred -
- Mark Buckingham -
- Howard Chaykin -
- Kurt Busiek -
- Mike Weiringo -
- Al Milgrom -
- Rudy Nebres -
- Tom Sutton -
- Steve Mellor -
- Ian Akin and Brian Garvey -
- Sal Buscema -
- Bill Mantlo -
and many, many, MANY more!

And that should do it.
Sure, there are a lot more entries - but not all of them are merit-worthy, or while they may be good, are just silly hit-and-run style posts.
Some are to showcase new products or comics that were to be released, and others are tongue-in-cheek bits of whimsy, or tips of the hat to various holidays.
I have a lot like that - some quick Photoshop, an Action figure or comic scan and what passes for "wit" = a quick blog post.

But if you like that sort of thing, open up the blog-history drop down lists and just jump around.

I'll catch you all in a few.
Lots more planned for YEAR 3!
Join me, wont you?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The X-X-X Edition!

This post is the sixth entry (not counting a few addendum)  in a series of posts wherein we take a look at Clea's desire for physicality.
- (All entries in this series can be found [HERE].)

Today's entry is a Special XXX Edition!
 Oh... and by XXX I don't necessarily mean "Rated XXX", but instead "X" refers to the Roman Numeral "10".
Since today is 10-10-10, this post would naturally be the X-X-X edition.
(Oh, I'm not proud of the deception... but I do so as a "public service". Those google porn surfers love this series. I'd hate for them to miss this one.)

Remember, clicking on pics makes them XXX in size.
(That's XtraXtraXtra Large).


This entry - from
Doctor Strange; Master of the Mystic Arts # 45,
by Chris Claremont (story) and Gene Colan (art)
not only displays one of the multiple instances of Clea questioning her dual role as disciple and lover, but it does show that when, if made to choose between one or the other... well... CLEA LOVES SEX!


The issue ENDS with this steamy panel.

Clea holds down TWO jobs.
One of those jobs seemingly involves GIVING them.

This sensual ending notwithstanding, the issue shows Clea running more hot and cold than a sneaker-wearing penguin with a flamethrower.


The scene is set, innocently enough, with Doctor Strange meeting Clea for a romantic, fully-posh dress-up lunch at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.

The day starts off well enough, Strange being charming and Clea seemingly in a pleasant state of being.

However, as many can attest from personal experience, such a tenuous, delicate balance is not easily held.

Seemingly from out of nowhere, Clea pulls a dark, angry and accusational mood from her bag.
Much like many "normal" men, Stephen Strange is blithely ignorant of the deeply held concerns of his lady love, and worse still, is clueless to his own failings in the situation.
But, that's why his title isn't "Master of the Romantic Arts".

In all honesty, and to her defense, Clea is suffering with several very serious personal dilemma.
The first of which;
She feels as alien on Earth as one to whom calls home a Dark Dimension of magic could possibly expect.

But that isn't the worst of it...

With Clea essentially at the precipice of a total breakdown, Strange pulls off the best "magic trick" of all:
calming her and managing to open a civil discourse with his beloved disciple.

Ah... but "beloved / disciple" is indeed the very crux of the situation...

You'll note that Clea states that since she feels useless as Strange's disciple, she is willing to stay on as his lover.
Doc knows that her emotions and feelings are at a dangerous place right now, and he has to tred carefully, and with great sensitivity in order to steer this in the right direction.

Of course, for most men, saying "we need to talk more of this" while engaging in a passionate kiss really means; "Let's do anything else but talk more about this. Now give me some sugar, baby".

However, Stephen Strange is a gentleman and a scholar (and not just book-smart either) as he knows that he had best diffuse the situation with some Tender Loving Care.

A long, lazy afternoon with relaxing fun and a romantic carriage-ride home is just what the Doctor ordered.

Guys? Check it. Doc is TOTALLY scoring points here. THAT is how it's done.

So that, when a mystic battle with the demonic N'Garai erupts in Doc's sub-basement, Strange is able to alleviate Clea's fears with some well chosen words.

Words that do more than quell Clea's mixed concerns for the time being.
Words that spur her on to strive to be the BEST, most adept disciple and BEST, most ardent lover possible.

And of course, to make sure he leads the dialogue along with a carefully leading line.
One that Clea picks up the meaning and replies accordingly.

Doc: "You've done work enough this night as my disciple..."
Clea: "...But as LOVER... my work has only just BEGUN!"

Damn. Strange is smooth.
He played that just right - because he knows...


"Tamam Shud!"

Monday, October 4, 2010


We interrupt this blog's usual content for this

*And Look for UPDATED info posted 10/06/2010 at the end of this entry*


A few liberties were taken with this quick photoshop gag. *
That photo was taken over 6 months ago. I'm back to being kempt with short hair.
The job doesn't really require me to do all that much artwork (I think).
I doubt that they'll have "naked and mossy dress-down Fridays".
I can't draw cats as well as that. - OK... maybe I can.

Today marks my first day at a new position - at a new job!
After being downsized from my old job, which I had held for nearly 7 years, (as I blogged about while in full-on panic mode back when it happened [HERE] and [HERE]), I have been unemployed for the past year and a half.
The pickings for employment in my area have been meager to say the least.
Jobs in my field (as an artist/ illustrator etc...) have been slim-to-none.
Of course, aside from some freelance assignments, I was looking to do anything and everything far removed from an art-based job, as well.

Were I to have been more inclined to commute to New York City again, I may have found something sooner, but then a good portion of my paycheck would have gone to the commute, so it seemed best to look in my area for something at a lesser pay, but closer to home.
(Especially, since due to the overwhelming number of applicants-to-job ratio, many positions I was seeing were asking for more experience and responsibilities for far lesser pay-scales than once offered.)

Oddly enough, I almost didn't reply to the ad for this new position, as it is a bit "afield" of my more traditional artist abilities. It's more "art-adjacent".

However, after reading the ad, and quickly researching the company online, I redesigned my resume' to look similar in look and feel to their web-presence.

Sending my resume off on a Wednesday afternoon, which I thought was going to be a day too late to be taken seriously, I was amazed to receive a call the next morning asking for me to come in for an interview.
A Monday morning appointment was scheduled and the meeting went well.
Well enough, in fact, that the next morning I was called again to see if I would be willing to come back to show them what I could do on the computer (Apple Mac) and if I could handle the programs (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator).
So, the next day I went in, and after spending some time learning their processes, ended up pitching in to help them meet a deadline - learning and working (pro-bono) from 11am - 5pm!
With that positive experience behind me, I wasn't surprised that the next morning I was asked to come back in for another meeting - so that on Friday, the job was mine to take.
(The entire process went by so fast, I never had the opportunity to send in the oft-touted traditional "Thank You" letter for the initial interview.)

Supposedly, the ad for the position drew 200 applicants.
50 of which were called in for interviews.
The final pick was between myself and two others.
I won out.

My new position (at a company whose name I won't disclose, as there is a lot of non-disclosure info that I need to swear to) is as a pre-press artist/ designer / technician.
I'll be pre-flighting artwork and designs that are sent in, maybe recreating some designs, or the occasional complete original work-up, and producing printing plates for these - which will grace products and print work that will be seen and purchased by many the world over.

They are also a print-firm in themselves, as they have a full-facility of high-quality over-sized printers, vinyl plotter/cutters, multi-color/station silk-screen machine and more!

With full benefits and a commute time of only a 30-minute drive on rural, tree-lined roads, it is the answer to many prayers.

Not the least of which because it means that my wife and I will be able to save our home.

I was worried that if a position that paid enough was not found, we could conceivably be forced to give up our house. You may recall that in preparation for that looming possibility, we had packed the whole place up to move to a more affordable rental.

What many do not know, is that I had indeed MOVED more than half of our belongings to the new location (including ALL of my comics and a good portion of my "Sanctum"), but within a few days of that - while prepping the rest of our stuff for the journey - I received a call telling us that the rental property was no longer going to be available to us as it was instead going to be sold off.

So, I then had to move ALL that stuff BACK here - and still had to find a job - after losing valuable time which I had spent packing the house and looking for work in the new area.

Anyway, I just finished the last of the re-move this weekend, loading up the basement with every box and bauble (and desperately needing to organize it all again).
The place looks like the warehouse scene from "Raiders of the Lost Arc".
We basically have to move in - all over again.

So, while I AM employed and can try to enjoy blogging - with a lighter heart - once again, I DO still have a LOT of technical stuff to learn at my job (keeping my mind occupied) and a ton of things to organize around the house (keeping my body busy) for the foreseeable future.

I'll still be blogging when I can, and hope to get back up to my pre-downsize ratio of nearly daily entries, but until then, know that I'm "on the job" (both figuratively and literally).


MANY THANKS go out to all of you - my friends and followers on the world wide web for your positive thoughts, wishes and prayers.
The universe has answered.
Thank you.


The original cover used for my self-"mocking" mock-up was of
MAN-THING volume 2 # 1!
With all apologies to Bob Wiacek, the mag's artist.


* UPDATE 10/06/2010 *


So, it seems I spoke a little too soon...
I had mentioned that I wasn't sure if my artistic and illustrative skills would be called into much use for my new position in the pre-press trade.

Well... my first day I was given an extensive project wherein I was to design a complete company identity for a client; logo, mascot, web-site, brochure pamphlet, etc... (although I have a deadline that isn't a killer)... on top of my other duties wherein I am to learn the multi-faceted aspects of the pre-press industry and all the intricate nuances of how art-files are prepped, corrected, produced as print-plates and go off to final printing.

I'm going to be quite the busy boy.

However, do not fret, I have a few posts all lined up for the next few days.

Well... ONE is ready (to go live in a day or two).
The others are in planning and conceptual stages.

With all this training and learning I have to go through, I feel like I'm
"Doctor Strange; Disciple - Year One".

I could REALLY use a man-servant like Hamir or Wong about now.
If for nothing else, but to bring me tea.

* END UPDATE 10/06/2010 *

Friday, October 1, 2010

ROM; Space-Toaster
Half-baked blog-post.

Over at the "BLOG FOR ROM FANS WHO AREN'T DICKS" (no, really... that's the name of the blog - check it out [HERE]), the proprietor posted a snippet for a proposed fan-based anthology to continue the ROM ; SPACEKNIGHT saga.
The specific post can be found at this link [HERE].

While the posted idea for their spin-off story strikes me as "needs more thought", since it would, in essence erase everything that came from issue # 43 to the end of the series in # 75 as little more than a dream-sequence, I thought the very idea of a fan-based anthology to be a fun idea.

Hell... there are FAR worse fanfic concepts buzzing about the intertubes (usually dealing with sexxy furries getting it on with Gambit and Nightcrawler, Rogue, a gay Batman, and Sailor Moon, but I digress).

I tossed out a stupid concept that just popped into my head while reading it and posted it as a comment.
I'd like to share that synaptic misfire with you all.
I mean why should I be the only one to suffer by my dementia.


MY idea for ROM # 76 is for him to save untold worlds by using his "toaster-head" to make satisfying toaster-pastries to satiate Galactus' awesome hunger.

Every issue would see a new world and a new way for ROM to bake wholesome, nutritious goodness into life-saving morsels.
All the while, cosmic entities, like EGO the Living Planet and the SPHYNX try to steal Galactus' lunch.

Think of it as a series of "Hostess Fruit Pie" ads *, but with a lot of punching.


The concept for this ill-conceived bit of stupidity basically arises from my days as a youth, reading ROM and a friend of mine (the one who got me INTO comics' collecting in the first place) referring to ROM as SpaceToaster, due to the shape of his head (ROM's, not my buddy's).

Then, oddly enough, in issue # 50, during the "wacky" issue published during "Assistant Editors Month" ** they ran THIS as a one-page back-up.

Story and pencils by BOB HARRIS. Inks by TERRY AUSTIN. Love by ALL FANS.

Thus, ROM; SpaceToaster made it to the printed page via collected thought-energies from the multitudes.

But, still... the idea for a ROM anthology being made and somehow sold to raise money for the medical bills of creator BILL MANTLO, writer of every issue of ROM (who has been incapacitated since 1992, after a hit-and-run driver struck him, causing irreparable brain-damage) would be a grand idea!
Of course, you need not wait for such a possible dream project.

If you've EVER enjoyed an issue of ROM, or any of Bill's other comics (of which there is too long a list to recap here) feel free to make a donation.
Those wishing to make direct donations may send them to Bill's brother Michael who has long been caregiver of his brother.

Michael Mantlo
425 Riverside Dr #12-E
New York, NY 10025

Of course, if PayPal is more your speed, drop by this link to make a direct donation.
Make a private donation to the SPACENITE - BILL MANTLO FUND directly from your Paypal account. 100% of the funds go to Mike Mantlo.
Or, if money is tight, drop a letter to tell how much you love Mantlo's work.


For those who don't know what a "Hostess Fruit Pie" ad was, they were all the rage and are beloved by comic readers of that 1970's-1980's period as a high-water-mark of the "good-old-days".
There are entire web-sites dedicated to them.
Just google "Hostess Fruit Pie comic" and enjoy.

Assistant Editors Month was basically the one month where the Senior Editors were off on some retreat or convention and their assistants were "in charge" of the publications for that month... thus causing wackiness and hilarity to ensue.
Obviously, it was all just a marketing ploy.
Nothing truly erroneous made it to print and it was all a lot of fun.
Heck, google "Marvel Assistant Editors Month" and see what you find.

I did just that, while forgetting to delete "Hostess Fruit Pie" from the navigation and was reminded that, oddly enough, that same "Assistant Editor's Month" the issue of MARVEL TEAM UP # 137 was an issue-long story of Aunt May (becoming herald of Galactus; Golden Oldie) and Franklin Richards quelling Galactus' great hunger with "Twinkles" snack cakes.

Damn... turns out my ROM idea isn't so "original" after all.
But it IS in good company.

Hmmm.... now I want some Pastry Cake goodness.