My friends, the authors

I’ve been blessed to know some fairly erudite people. In the last few months, some of them have been published:

My friend Sarah McCue wrote Farce to Force : Building Profitable E-Commerce Strategies.This is at least her fourth book.

Dr. Sarah McCue is manager of the Information and Communications Technology for Development practice at the United Nations Development Program in New York. She also wrote The Federal Role of National Export Development Organizations and drafted the E-Commerce Strategy for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

I first met her when she worked for the Michigan Small Business Development Center, but she is not nearly as stuffy as all of those titles might suggest.

My former library colleague at the NYS SBDC, Jennifer Boettcher, also a prolific author, wrote a book with Lenny Gaines, who I also know pretty well. It is entitled Industry Research Using the Economic Census : How to Find It, How to Use It (How to Find It, How to Use It). I happen to be a geek for these types of data.

Finally, the NYS SBDC has published an award-winning book called “What’s Your Signage.” It was written largely by my current library colleague, Darrin Conroy. The book acts as an introduction for small business owners to the importance that signage can have on their business. Since 1 in 7 Americans move each year, good signage can make a real difference. I started attending a new church six years ago, and I had no idea where the “Rose Room” was, but subsequently, there was great signage provided throughout the building, which made me feel much more welcome.

Don’t know if most of you will find these of interest, but I am proud of each of the authors.

Guru Is His Middle Name

The first time I met Fred Hembeck in person I was disappointed: no squiggles on his knees.
The first time I met Free Hembeck in person, I was relieved: his head doesn’t REALLY look like pair of butt cheeks.
Oh, but I kid.

Actually, the first time I met “Fred Hembeck”, the guy pictured above, was in the pages of the old Comics Buyers’ Guide, where Fred and “Fred” had a regular column.

In 1979, I was in New York City, at a comic book store at the West 4th Street subway stop (Greenwich Village) when I saw a blue-covered book with familiar artwork. It was Best of Dateline @#$%! , published by Eclipse, and while I was by then frequenting a comic store I would later work at, FantaCo, I had never seen the book there. So I bought it.

The first time I met the REAL Fred Hembeck was in February of 1980, when he was doing a signing of his second collection, Hembeck 1980. This was at FantaCo, who published it. I don’t particularly remember it, but in my journal, I eferred to him as Mr. Hembeck.


Even then, he was just Fred. I saw him often for a while, when he came into the store. We saw each other outside the store, too. He wrote to me last year:
“Remember that time you took us to your friend’s party in that trailer park, and the redneckish neighbors shot off rifles at midnight, and then stopped by the party? Whoa! SOME fun! NOW, that’s a memory – the Deliverence-styled moment faced by us erstwhilke hippies!”

But he and Lynn moved away, I left FantaCo and eventually got out of comic collecting, and we lost touch. These things happen.

Then, in October 2004, I run into a mutual friend, Rocco Nigro, who said, “You know Fred has a website?” Why no, I didn’t, and I went to it and liked it a lot. I e-mailed Fred and told him so. We’ve been regular correspondents ever since, exchanging mixed CDs, even Andy Williams, and opinions of the world.

Subsequently, I read pretty much everything on the site, even the posts from the previous year and three-quarters. I even found myself mentioned in one or two of his columns: (see May 14, e.g.)

I started “helping” my old buddy, trying to explain the difference between it’s and its, and pointing out some broken links.

Eventually, I even started appearing in his column (January 17, 18, 23, March 28, 29, 31 and April 2, 2005). I think it was after the last two pieces (Herb Alpert and link to spoof LP covers that I thought about actually doing something like this myself. And a month to the day later, May 2, I did.

Of course, I kept harassing Fred about this and that.

Then last summer, we actually met in person for the first time in a LONG time – you can read about this, Rashomon-style, here at August 9 and 17 and here. It was great!

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRED! Glad we’re back in each other’s lives, and we’ve been able to renew our friendship.

But always remember, and never forget, I’m younger than you are for the next five weeks.

(Oh, yeah, his real middle name is George, but when I send him stuff, I always change it something else starting with a G, just because.)

Sunday Funnies: The Black Comic Book, Pt. 3

More on The Colored Negro Black Comic Book by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon.

Note: in the comic strip tradition all the words in the strip are in capitals, but for readability, I’ve deigned to write in standard English. Also the words that are in bold in the strip are in red in this text.

“Tarskin”, a 4-page response to “Tarzan”

Page 1- Tarskin saves guy with diamond from a roaarr!ing lion

Page 2:

Page 3, Panel 1:
Diamond guy: Amazing! That this great black man should help and befriend a white man!
Tarskin: ?
Page 3, Panel 2:
Tarskin: You- mean – you not black?
Diamond guy: Of course not! Don’t tell me you took my sunburn-…

Page 4:
Diamond guy’s hat on ground in foreground, lion chewing on a bone, going mmrraaarrmm– and Tarskin walking away with the diamond, passing a Pogo-like character.
The chimpanzee Cheetah (looks at lion) Ooh.
Daddy Warbucks (?!) (peeks from around tree): Ooh.

While I do appreciate the fact that the man was trying to rip off our hero, I don’t know how allowing the man to be fed to the animals was supposed to promote racial understanding. Even if he IS “The Man”.


“Laughin’ Black” a 4-page parody of “Smilin’ Jack”, a strip that ran from 1933 to 1973, and which ran in my local papers when I was growing up, as did most of the strips represented.

Page 1: (Three airmen in background, head officer shaking Laughin’ Black’s hand)
Officer: Welcome to our squadron, Laughin’ Black!
Laughin’: Thank you, sir!

Page 2:

Page 3, Panel 1:
Officer (next to Laughin’): We all fight for the same country, wear the same uniforms, and each of us has his very own plane
Page 3, Panel 2: Other pilots running to their planes)
Loudspeaker: Pilots! Man your planes!

Panel 4:
While jets are in the air, Laughin’ is shocked when he comes to his plane (Sign: L. Black), which is a rickety old biplane.
Laughin’: !

In the panel shown, the officer practically says the old cliche, “A credit to his race.” This story did portray some truths about separate but unequal treatment.

I’m reminded how the valor of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II helped finally integrate the armed services.


“Little Ofay Nannie”, a 4-page take on “Little Orphan Annie
The convention in this strip is to underline certain words, rather than making them bold. Since I’m loath to underline – it means hyperlink to me – I will italicize the underlined text.

Page 1:
Nannie (smiling): Oh, Dandy – isn’t it fantabulous that Daddy is coming home for my 65th birthday party?
Dandy (smiling): Arf

Page 2, Panel 1:
Nannie: He’s been on a business trip to wonderful places like South VietNam, the Union of South Africa and Rhodesia!
Dandy: Arf
Page 2, Panel 2:
Nannie (in a classic arm-up “Annie” pose”): It’ll be such fun to see him again!
Dandy: Arf

Page 3

Page 4:
Nannie (angry, pointing finger at Daddy): Turn blue, you @*O!![dagger]@ honky!!!
Dandy (growling at Daddy): Grr!
Daddy (shocked): !

While her anger was, and is, understandable, this rant left me cold, because it seemed to come out of the blue. It’s interesting how the panel before the flaming is the only panel where she does not have those hollow eyes.

I was interested in the citation of South Viet Nam as one of the places Daddy was off exploiting. The African countries’ white-ruled governments were obvious targets. (Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe.) I wonder if South Viet Nam was picked because a disportionate number of black soldiers were kllled in the war? Or maybe it’s that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. suggested, too many people of color, including innocent Vietnamese were dying there.

You’ll note that I’ve added Toonopedia links to the mention of the source comic strip. I did it for “Smilin’ Jack” because I figured many of you wouldn’t be familiar with him. But I’ve decided to add the link to all of the reviews, including those previously completed, just in case you didn’t know who Superman or Blondie were.

Two Ramblin’ Thoughts

1. The State of the Onion is on Tuesday. It’s pre-empting “Commander in Chief”. I think I’d rathervwatch Geena Davis. I’ll tape the speech, and fast forward through all the times the Congress stands up for the obvious applause lines (about our brave fighting forces, e.g.), and grit my teeth as he once again defends domestic spying.

2. Apparently, Jennifer is over Brad canoodling with Angelina, now that she’s living with Vince. Categorize this under: Things I REALLY Don’t Care About, But Discover Standing At The Checkout Line.

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