What if the FantaCo Chronicles had continued?

We did magazines about the X-Men (Dave Cockrum cover, edited by me), Fantastic Four (John Byrne cover, mine), Daredevil (Frank Miller cover, edited by Mitch Cohn), the Avengers (George Perez cover, Mitch’s), and Spider-Man (Byrne cover, mine).

spider-man chroniclesAlan David Doane, who was a regular customer at FantaCo, the comic book store/publisher where I worked from 1980-1988 asked:

If you could have edited five more FantaCo Chronicles volumes, what comics/characters would you have chosen, who would be the main interview subject in each, and who would you have chosen to draw the covers?

First, a review: we did magazines about the X-Men (Dave Cockrum cover, edited by me), Fantastic Four (John Byrne cover, mine), Daredevil (Frank Miller cover, edited by Mitch Cohn), the Avengers (George Perez cover, Mitch’s), and Spider-Man (Byrne cover, mine).

I was happy to get almost anyone good to do the covers. Owner/publisher Tom Skulan didn’t want Cockrum to do the X-Men cover, not out of artistic taste. He believed Dave was also doing that Official Marvel Index cover for the X-Men. We tried getting several others, including Wendy Pini of Elfquest fame.

Byrne was great for the FF front cover, but Perez was late for the back, which is why the front and back were the same, and for no additional charge. Miller was supposed to do Spider-Man but he found that he could not, and Byrne did that cover extremely fast.

After getting chewed out by Marvel’s Jim Shooter, we were steering away from doing any more of their titles. In fact, a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Chronicles (and other “underground” titles) was even announced but never released; that would have certainly been edited by Mitch Cohn.

I was in early conversations with Denis Kitchen about doing something with Kitchen Sink Enterprises, which surely would have been driven by Will Eisner’s Spirit.

To your question about future Chronicles:

The Defenders, with an emphasis with Doctor Strange. Writer Steve Gerber, for sure. Cover by Sal Buscema.

Captain America and Iron Man, who of course, shared Tales of Suspense; this would make indexing easier. Cap writer Steve Englehart; I LOVED that run. Cover by John Buscema.

Characters related to the Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer, the Inhumans and Black Panther, for sure. She-Hulk? Luke Cage? Oh, what the heck – Stan Lee. Cover by Byrne.

The Hulk and Sub-Mariner, who were in Tales to Astonish for a time. Bill Bixby, because I was a big fan of My Favorite Martian. Cover by Herb Trimpe.

Thor plus any Avengers not covered – Ant-Man/Giant Man, et al. The underrated Marie Severin. Walt Simonson turned the Thunder God upside down.

Of course, I have no idea if I could GET any of those artists, save for Byrne. Maybe we would have asked Fred Hembeck, who was friends with a number of artists in the Mid-Hudson. And he could have done a great take on Tales to Astonish #100.

N is for naughty and nice

Knowing what everyone’s doing seems entirely plausible.

Rudolph's Report Card - Imgur.com
Rudolph’s Report Card – Imgur.com
Last Christmas Eve, naturally, the site Now I Know published We’re Gonna Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice. Dan Lewis then proceeded to dissect the adjectives.

“The word ‘nice’ is something you use when a stronger term of affection isn’t appropriate. [It] comes from the Latin word ‘nescius’ which literally meant ‘not knowing’ — basically ‘ignorant…’ It was, unambiguously, an insult, which in a roundabout way, is how it got to this catch-all way to give faint praise today.”

One of the running bits my wife and I enjoy together involves the TV show MASH. Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville) says, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” That this line is given to the most buffoonish character on the show is telling.

Lewis adds, “The word ‘naughty’ has a similarly muddled history, and one which may reflect on how we, by default, often blame those in poverty for their situation. It literally means ‘having nothing’ — someone with ‘naught.'”

One of my pastors noted that his least favorite Christmas song is Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I think it’s the “he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice” bit. When I was a kid, I thought it was hyperbole that “he sees you when you’re sleeping…” But now, with the US National Security Administration, cameras everywhere, plus Alexa and Siri, not to mention Elf on a Shelf and Facebook, knowing what everyone’s doing seems entirely plausible for Claus.

However, my daughter asked a reasonable question. If Santa knows when you’ve been bad or good, how was he unable to recognize the bullying of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Remember that “all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.” Well, until he saved Christmas.

I think it’s similar to the cobbler’s kids going shoeless. Santa was externally oriented, but failed to see the abuse at his own place at the North Pole! I do believe he now has systems in place to avoid a repeat of that toxic situation.

For ABC Wednesday

The legendary Karen Durkot

This year, I spent my birthday with Karen Durkot and about 200 of her friends.

One of those questions I answer on my annual summary of the previous year is “What did I do on my birthday?” This year, I spent it with Karen Durkot and about 200 of her friends.

Back on February 24, she noted that her record company was throwing a send-off shindig in her honor on March 7. “If you can make it, other than my sister Elaine, you’ll be the person there who knows me longest!”

“Longest” as in since kindergarten, going through K-12 together. I wrote about her here and a few other times.

I had already taken off the day from work, as is my tradition. I spent the morning dealing with incredibly boring but necessary processing of health reimbursement funds.

After lunch, I took the bus to the Amtrak station and caught the 3:45 to Penn Station. I walked from 34th and 8th to 26th between 5th and 6th Avenue, getting there about 6:45 p.m. I walked in with a couple who I sussed correctly were music people. The couple was vaguely explaining to the gatekeeper what we wanted to do; he needed more specificity – downstairs, 7 p.m. – so he knew that we knew what we were talking about.

The downstairs was one large room with tables set up, and an open bar. I had brief conversations with a few folks before I found one heroic woman from the label who engaged me in longer conversation. I also found an old Binghamton pal, Pat Cannon.

Finally, Karen and her sister entered. I didn’t find the need to rush the entrance and hung out at the bar. About ten minutes, she sees me. She said later that I had hung back for dramatic effect. I had not, but it did create that result.

Karen introduced me to several folks before engaging in other conversation. Knowing the legendary KD for so long gave me some reflected fame.

Around 8 p.m., they showed a video of a bunch of musicians, including Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes, who was physically present. Also on the recording was Valerie June, one of many folks whose music she introduced me to; some folks from the Stereophonics (ditto); and Jack White from the White Stripes.

The general narrative was the same. When Karen Durkot, who is not a large person, comes to town to promote an act, it is as though she has a metaphorically huge sledgehammer. “Play this record!” she says to radio programmer. “Book this act!” she relays to the venue scheduler.

She expressed gratitude to the people who had hired her , not only at Concord but over the years at Geffen, WEA, and American Recordings. How great it was to represent so many artists, including Johnny Cash. They presented her a blue St Vincent signature guitar, signed by James Taylor and several others.

The mic was open, and I told a couple anecdotes about Karen’s lifelong love of music which people told me they appreciated. I left around 9:30 to take a 10:45 train home.

A couple days later, this got posted in one of the radio/record trades.

“One of the all-time promotion greats, CONCORD RECORDS VP/Promotion KAREN DURKOT was pointed in the direction of her retirement and feted by a room full of her colleagues, family and friends at HILL COUNTRY BBQ in the FLATIRON section of MANHATTAN on THURSDAY NIGHT (3/7).”

It was a splendid evening.

Beauty and the Beast; Sweet Charity

I should note that in Beauty and the Beast, Belle was played by Alexa, my niece – my BIL’s daughter.

Beauty and the BeastMy family saw two high school musicals the last weekend in March, Beauty and the Beast at Catskill HS and Sweet Charity at Albany HS. They both were excellent, so I’ll be rooting for both schools in a competition.

“The School of Performing Arts at Proctors announces the 3rd Annual HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL THEATRE AWARDS for New York’s Capital Region in partnership with The Broadway League. Fashioned after Broadway’s Tony Awards…”

Our family attended the awards event last year. Caitlin Van Loan was nominated as best supporting actress for playing Marion the Librarian’s mom in Catskill’s The Music Man; she was excellent this year as Mrs. Potts.

Annabelle Duffy WON as best actress in AHS’ Hairspray last year, and got to represent “the Capital Region at The National High School Musical Theatre Awards competition in New York City” last June. She played Charity this year. Albany also won three other awards in 2018, including best choreography.

I should note that in Beauty and the Beast, Belle was played by Alexa, my niece – my BIL’s daughter. She’s been in the CHS productions for seven years – and I believe I’ve seen them all – but this is her first lead. My unbiased opinion is that she was very good.

So was the guy playing the Beast, Magnus Bush; Alexa and Magnus are pictured. The performers playing Lumiere, Gaston, Cogsworth, Madame Bouche and many others were also strong. There are far more decent male singers in the CHS productions than there were even three or four years.

While the Albany HS productions have been solid for a while, there has been a real emphasis on its social relevance in recent years. So they’ve taken the historically sexist play, written by Neil Simon, and attempted to give it a feminist spin.

I was unfamiliar with the story of Sweet Charity, though I knew three songs: Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, and the faux religious The Rhythm of Life.

In any case, we’re making plans to attend the High School Musical Theatre Awards ceremony on May 11 at 7 p.m. at Proctors.

Music to drive by, but NOT to drink by

What I “hear” would be almost anything with a good bass line.

drinking,drivingThat 30-day music meme I was doing a couple weeks ago now wants A song to drive by.

When we’re in the car, it’s usually on the classical station. Probably some 19th overture is on, such as Franz von Suppe’s_Poet And Peasant or Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville. The very little I’VE driven, I surely wasn’t playing music at all.

Now when I’m bicycling, I “hear” music, but I don’t actually listen to it/play it, lest it block out cars, sirens, or other traffic.

What I “hear” would be almost anything with a good bass line. A random sampling of same. Chart action is the pop charts in Billboard, unless otherwise indicated.

Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group, #76 in 1966: always the first song in the rotation
(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone – Aretha Franklin, #5 pop, #1 for three weeks soul, in 1968: it has the added benefit of not allowing the DJ to talk over the intro
White Room – Cream, #6 in 1968: “Not THE Cream, Mr. Stone; CREAM!”
I Got a Line on You – Spirit, #25 in 1969
Roundabout – Yes, #13 in 1972: this is the album version
Theme from Shaft – Isaac Hayes, #1 for two weeks pop, #2 for three weeks soul, in 1971: “Shut your mouth.”

Watching the Detectives – Elvis Costello, #108 in 1978
Money – Pink Floyd, #13 in 1973: of course, from Dark Side of the Moon
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac, 1977: written by all five members of the band
Every Time You Go Away – Paul Young, #1 in 1985: that great Hall and Oates cover
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes, #76 in 2003: Jack White is working hard to bring back vinyl

Next prompt:

Songs about drugs or alcohol, which I presume we are NOT indulging in while driving.

Cocaine – Eric Clapton, 1977: “Things go better with Coca-Cola”, to this tune, often runs through my head
The Needle and the Damage Done – Neil Young, 1972: from the Harvest album

Red, Red Wine – Neil Diamond, #62 in 1968: the original
Alcohol – the Kinks, 1971: from Muswell Hillbillies

Don’t Bogart Me – Fraternity of Man, #133 in 1968: from the Easy Rider soundtrack
One Toke Over the Line – Brewer and Shipley, #10 in 1971: Jerry Garcia on steel guitar
and of course,
Along Comes Mary – The Association, #7 in 1966: their first hit