U.S. Army Preventive Maintenance Monthly

Be All You Can Be With The U.S. Army Preventive Maintenance Monthly Comic Book!

Did you know that the U.S. Army produces a monthly “comic book” and has been doing so for more than 65 years?
Kubert cover
And did you know that several of the artists responsible for creating the comic over the years are considered legends in the industry?
Rust = Bad
My first experience with “PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly” dates to 1977 while I was 8 years old and living at a military base in Schwäebisch Hall, Germany.

I loved comic books, but new issues cost money, and finding popular titles became hit-and-miss during the three years I spent as a guest of the German people. But this “graphic novel dry spell” ended during a spring break trip to visit my father at work.

Dad spent his military career either turning wrenches on various Army helicopters – or leading those who do. Growing up around those whirly-birds was an amazing experience, but the fear of me getting smashed or sliced by a spinning rotor blade usually kept me confined to the main office area.
The AH-1 Cobra helicopter. The bird I maintained while in the Army
I was stuck in that office for several hours before I started digging through the extensive technical manual library found on a large bookshelf behind his desk. These manuals were written so soldiers with varying degrees of reading skills could follow along and work on the equipment as needed.

In between a guide to replacing the transmission coupling on a CH-47 Chinook and a pamphlet explaining how to balance a rotor blade on a UH-1A Huey helicopter, I found “PS Magazine.” It was a full-color guide, about the size of an Archie Digest, and featured art by a comic artist I recognized, but couldn’t think of his name.

The comic format for PS Magazine was created in 1951 by the U.S. Army when it “enlisted” the help of a young soldier named Will Eisner to make a guide for preventative maintenance for soldiers in the field – and in the garrison environment. It used humor combined with life-like art to help the troops keep their equipment fighting-ready in a 25-65 page guide that could be taken anywhere. The going price for this artistic gem? It was free…!
Under the full moon
I was simply amazed. I read through the 6-months worth of back-issues on my father’s shelf and was hungry for more. A few days later, dad brought home boxes full of PS Magazine back issues for me to enjoy. It turns out that the Army suggested that offices only keep the last 12 issues or so on hand.

Each issue came with a central theme that resonated throughout that month’s offering. The best issues are the ones that incorporated current trends from the “outside world.” The creators of the magazine also borrow heavily from pop culture, and evidence of this practice can be found in many covers including a Spider-Man issue and issues with Star Trek themes. Yes, even Commander Montgomery Scott had to perform preventative maintenance on the 1701 Enterprise…!
Page from the Spider-Man issue


The art was amazing. After digesting about 200 issues of PS that next summer, I finally realized that the comic book artist who brought life to the its pages was Joe Kubert, who was responsible for two of my favorite comic books, “Haunted Tank” and “The Unknown Soldier.” Years later, while I was an editor for a military newspaper, I had a phone interview with Kubert about the time he spent on the maintenance guide for the army.

Each issue is full of anthropomorphism with M1-A1 Abrams tanks talking to an AH-1 helicopter at the motor pools with smiles on their faces if an oil change was performed correctly.

The artwork had been co-created over the years by students at his New York art school, but his influence can still be felt today – more than four years after Kubert’s death.

There is a core of characters in the magazine that have lasted – and not aged – for more than 50 years. However, hair styles, fashion and attitudes toward women and other minorities changed through the years in the U.S. military, and these updates can been seen throughout the run of the magazine.
The leader of the PS Magazine troops and my Facebook friend, Master Sergeant Half-Mast


If you want to take a peek at these gems for yourself, a nearly compete list of issues broken down by years and cover art is available at PS Magazine Archive.
There is also a free iTunes Store and Android app available to view new issues and an archive for a couple years back.

Download a few examples from each decade and imagine yourself being 8 years old and stepping into a whole new world…

The X Files - Origins - IDW

The Truth Is Out There With X-Files: Origins!

The X-Files was a pretty huge thing for me when it first debuted on FOX back in 1993…oh wow…twenty-three years ago. I don’t know why but it doesn’t seem that long ago. Now granted I only originally watched The X-Files because it came on right after the Bruce Campbell’s woefully underappreciated – at least back then – The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
BriscoArt
The easiest way I can describe to you about how I felt about the show is how my Father used to talk about the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker television series. He was so faithful to the Darren McGavin series that he wouldn’t go hang out with friends, etc. when he knew a new episode was going to be on, you couldn’t have made him miss it. I too was that way with The X-Files, something about David Duchovny’s character of Fox Mulder struck true to my own personal feelings of being an outsider. Of course I also found myself enjoying the character of Dana Scully, played by Gillian Anderson, as while like Mulder’s poster in his that office declares “I Want To Believe”…I am also naturally skeptical.
The X Files - Fox Mulder - Dana Scully
Now of course The X-Files also won me over with its generally awesome stories that successfully entertained across various genres whether that be Thriller, Sci-Fi, or just straight up Horror…I’m talking about the episode “Home” from the fourth season in particular…where we meet the Peacock Family. I love that episode so much but it ALWAYS creeps me out.
The X Files - The Peacock Family
If you recall, we here at The Retroist were pretty excited about the return of The X-Files back in January of this year albeit only for six episodes and while things had certainly changed from when last we had visited Scully and Mulder it felt very good to have them back. Which brings me to the whole point of this article – IDW has released The X-Files: Origins a new comic series that is a “digital first” book – meaning online only at first…that will switch between following the early years of Mulder and Scully, alternating characters each week for 11 weeks straight.

When I say that The X-Files: Origins is focusing on the early years I do mean the early years as this comic series seems directed towards a younger reader audience – check out the Press Release for the first issue:
“Before the FBI, before the X-Files, they were just two teenagers in search of the truth. On Martha’s Vineyard, a young Fox Mulder investigates something strange happening on the island, while in San Diego, 13-year-old Dana Scully looks into the shocking murder of her teacher. Two kids, two mysteries, one conspiracy that threatens the future of humanity.”

All images courtesy of IDW.

All images courtesy of IDW.


Now if you hop on over to IDW or even Comixology you can get that first issue featuring Fox Mulder absolutely free – so if you are ready to learn a bit more about the early history of two of televisions favorite FBI agents or have some younger comic book readers that you feel need to get bit by the The X-Files bug you can hook them up right this second…because as you already know…the truth is out there.

[Via] Piotrek Bienkowski

Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders - Warner Bros.

New Trailer For Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders Is Simply Fantastic!

Starting digitally on October 11, there will be many Bat-fans like myself shouting at their television sets “To the Batmobile!” as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders – a return to the rather brighter and fun Batman 1966 universe.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


Of course as I mentioned when Warner Bros. released the teaser trailer for the upcoming animated film a couple of weeks back, the real treat is getting to hear Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar return to those characters they made so famous on TV.

From the Press Release:
“Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment take Batman fans on a journey into the iconic past with the full-length animated Batman feature film – Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. The film features the vocal performances of Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman). Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders will be available November 1, 2016 on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders will be available to own on Digital HD starting October 11, 2016.

It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes – Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. The four Super-Villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City. It’s a truly fantastic adventure that will pit good against evil, good against good, evil against evil…and feature two words that exponentially raise the stakes for both sides: Replicator Ray. Holy Multiplication Tables!

Adam West steps behind the microphone to bring Batman to fully animated fruition. Burt Ward joins the fun as Batman’s sidekick, Robin, giving The Boy Wonder his voice in animated form. And Julie Newmar, star of stage (Tony Award winner for The Marriage-Go-Round) and screen (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers), dons her feline ears to bring Catwoman to life.

Rick Morales (LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes – Justice League: Cosmic Clash) directs from a script by Michael Jelenic (Teen Titans Go!) and James Tucker (Justice League vs. Teen Titans).. Tucker and Jelenic also serve as Supervising Producer and Producer, respectively, on the film. Sam Register is Executive Producer. Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan are Executive Producers.”

There is no word yet however if the animated version of Cesar Romero’s Joker will have his “hidden” mustache…

[Videos Via] Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders - DC Comics - Warner Bros.

Are You Well Prepared For Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders?!

Holy Cow! Talk about some news that will get most retro fans snapping their fingers in anticipation – DC Comics and Warner Bros. are releasing Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader later this year! It is an animated feature that is set in the groovy Batman ’66 universe and most importantly of all it features the return of Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar lending their vocal talents to the characters of Batman, Robin, and Catwoman – roles they helped make a household name back in the day.

Batman - Return of the Caped Crusaders

While there isn’t an awful lot of information right now – thanks to this teaser trailer released yesterday we do know that the Dynamic Duo will not just be protecting the citizens of Gotham City in this feature film but also venturing into outer space. It will be available digitally starting on October 11…and I will definitely be picking it up and giving you a review…and on DVD and Blu-ray starting on November 1st.

[Via] LegoFreedom1

Jack Davis

R.I.P. Jack Davis (1924 – 2016)

It was a sad day for fans of sequential art the other day as it was confirmed that the legendary cartoonist and illustrator Jack Davis passed away at the age of 91. While it can’t be denied that he lived a long and fulfilling life – for those of us that loved his art style it still hurts to know we won’t be seeing any new artwork from Davis.

Jack Davis really got his start when he obtained a job with William Gaines of EC Comics – providing illustrations for the covers of Tales from the Crypt from issues #29 to #46. He also provided the art for some of the legendary stories from that comic series like “Foul Play”, “Tight Grip” and “Lower Berth” to name a few.
Foul Play - Jack Davis - Tales from the Crypt
Davis also worked on Gaines’ other EC titles such as The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Two-Fisted Tales, Incredible Science Fiction, Terror Illustrated, Frontline Combat, and Piracy. Sadly Dr. Fredric Wertham helped put a nail in the coffin of EC Comics and Jack found work briefly with Marvel Comics on their title The Rawhide Kid. Although there was one publication from EC that survived the witch hunt that Wertham started and it might be what David is best known for and that was Mad Magazine!

Image courtesy of the Scott Eder Gallery.

Image courtesy of the Scott Eder Gallery.


Of course you probably saw his artwork in your youth and didn’t even realize it – as David also did the toy catalog for Marx Toys in 1975.
Image courtesy of the Ephemerist.

Image courtesy of The Ephemerist.


Numerous TV Guide covers…
Image courtesy of Drew Friedman.

Image courtesy of Drew Friedman.


Image courtesy of Drew Friedman.

Image courtesy of Drew Friedman.


…and even some of the inner artwork for TV specials like 1974’s Out to Lunch.
Image courtesy of the Muppet Wiki.

Image courtesy of the Muppet Wiki.


Jack Davis also did film posters, album covers, and even found his art style being used in TV Commercials like this one from back in 1979 for Chex Cereal!

[Via] D Heine

While it is most certainly a sad thing that Jack Davis has passed away and another reminder just how brutal 2016 has been – we can take some measure of comfort no matter how small that he left us with an amazing amount of work to enjoy as his legacy, work that will entertain for many more years to come.

HeMan - Thundercats Promo - DC Comics - Freddie E. Williams II

In October The Thundercats And He-Man Will Finally Team Up!

It’s taken quite some time but out favorite heroes and villains from Third Earth are finally going to cross paths with the inhabitants of Eternia thanks to DC Comics as they are set to unleash “He-Man/Thundercats” this coming October.

[Via] Zmanstardust
Illustrated by Freddie Williams II and written by Rob David, who happens to be Mattel’s Head Writer for Masters of the Universe and Lead Creative, as well as Supervising Producer Lloyd Goldfine – the comic will be a six-issue miniseries that finds Mumm-Ra the Ever-Living doing his best to obtain a weapon that can match the might and magic of Lion-O’s Sword of Omens. Imagine his delight when he discovers the existence of the Power Sword on Eternia!

Retro Cartoons

Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Image courtesy of DC Comics.

From the DC Comics Press Release:
“HE-MAN/THUNDERCATS #1
Written by ROB DAVID and LLOYD GOLDFINE – Art and covers by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II
Wraparound coloring book cover by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS II
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe team up with the ThunderCats-the epic crossover event you’ve waited thirty years to see! In his ever-living desire to destroy the mighty ThunderCats, Mumm-Ra quests for a weapon that can rival the legendary Sword of Omens: He-Man’s Sword of Power! But his dimension-spanning scheme kick starts a cataclysmic crisis that will embroil heroes and villains-Masters, Mutants and ThunderCats-in a mind-blowing six-part saga!”

A big thanks to Comic Book Resources who broke the story and to fellow Retroist writer Daniel XIII for giving me the heads up on it!

Swamp Thing - Video Comics

Do You Remember Nickelodeon’s Video Comics Featuring…Swamp Thing?!

Okay, I have to admit that the 1979 to 1981 show on Nickelodeon entitled Video Comics or as it was sometimes called Video Comic Book is a program that I absolutely 100% have no recollection of…and considering how huge of a comic book fan I have always been I believe I would have remembered seeing this promo.

I suppose it was quite possible that in my neck of the woods we didn’t get Nickelodeon as part of basic cable until after this show had finished it’s run…or for some strange reason I was watching something else when it aired. Whatever the reason I am so glad that TV Guy 1979 uploaded these vintage pieces of Nickelodeon’s past.
Swamp Thing - Nickelodeon - Video Comics
Video Comics actually began on Columbus Alive! on a cable television service called QUBE before making it’s way to Nickelodeon. I guess you would call the show an early version of motion comics with a narrator who read the comic itself while viewers would get a pan and scan view of the comic panels with also sound effects and additional voice acting by William Hamilton, Charles Pickard, and Diane Disque.
Swamp Thing - Video Comics - Nickelodeon
It seems that besides Swamp Thing there were episode featuring his fellow DC Comics’ heroes like Green Lantern, The Flash, Adam Strange and even The Atom. So whether you remember this awesome TV show from back in the day or like myself it is your first experience with Video Comics, I hope you can take the time and enjoy watching Swamp Thing in Dark Genesis!