Ghost Stories - Cover

Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary – Volume II

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is an upcoming graphic novel. An Adaptation of four of M.R. James’ supernatural tales of terror. By the way of Leah Moore and John Reppion, under Self Made Hero in fact but published by Abrams Books. M.R. James has been cited as being an influence on the works of both H.P. Lovecraft as well as Stephen King.

Ghost Stories - M.R. James

The esteemed M.R. James – medievalist scholar as well as writer of ghost stories!

With it being October of course, what better way to celebrate the season than with some of James’ stories? Because with the second volume of Ghost Stories of an An Antiquary you get a nice selection from the author’s work.

With Number 13, illustrated by George Kambadais. We are introduced to a young man named Mr. Anderson. Who has arrived at the Golden Lion inn in Viborg, Denmark. A researcher who certainly uncovers something startling. Whilst checking on his fellow lodgers he discovers there is no room numbered 13 listed in the available rooms. Except if that is the case…why does Mr. Anderson pass a room marked 13? As well as the mystery of the singing and laughing from behind a door to a room that isn’t supposed to exist?

Next up in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is Count Magnus! Illustrated by Abigail Larson it is the tale of one Mister Wraxall. A travel guide writer. Mr. Wraxall is visiting Sweden for research on an upcoming book. However the man instead learns of the bloody handed legacy of the titular Count Magnus. A fearsome man who it was rumored was to be on a ‘Black Pilgrimage’. In addition to causing enough fear to warrant three large padlocks on his place of rest. What might happen if those padlocks were to be opened?

Ghost Stories - Count Magnus

Some doors are not meant to be open!

Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad is the third entry. In addition this is a story by M.R. James that I know well thanks to a television adaptation. This story which is illustrated by Al Davison concerns Professor Parkins, who is on holiday. While the Professor might intend to spend time playing rounds of golf, he uncovers an odd item located in a burial site. What was once a Templar preceptory hides a whistle. Being an educated man and scorning of what some might deem superstitious. Parkins blows the whistles. Twice. Being a ghost story it shouldn’t surprise you that something answers the call, right?

Ghost Stories - Oh Whistle

Professor Parkins is going to learn to keep an open mind!

The last story presented in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II is The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. Illustrated by Meghan Hetrick. In this tale we meet Antiquarian, Mr. Somerton, who follows the trail of a coded message. Which in fact is hidden within a stained glass window in the Abbey of Steinfeld in Germany. Furthermore the reason for this coded message is it is said to lead to a hidden treasure. Somerton and his trusted servant, Mr. Brown – are able to decipher the clues which lead to an abandoned well that once belonged to Abbot Thomas. A well that curiously indeed contains steps that lead down into the darkness…as well as a guardian.

It is the fourth tale that is very much like the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, friends. It is probably my favorite of them all. But each one does represent a wonderful type of ghost story by the way. If you find you need a little something to help you get into the spirit of the season. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – Volume II comes out this Tuesday. Or instead you can order a copy for yourself by following the link to Abrams books.

Now that you now what to expect from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. Why not watch the 1968 television adaptation for Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad?

[Via] Montague James

mickey mouse suicide

Remember when Mickey Mouse decided to commit suicide?

Unless you lived in the 1930s or are a fan of vintage comic strips you might not be aware of the attempted Mickey Mouse suicide. But it was a very real thing that ran in the Mickey Mouse comic strip from October 8th to the 24th of 1930. It is a grim series of strips, with a happy ending, that really demonstrate how culture and entertainment, especially surrounding death, have changed over the years.

The story revolves around Minnie leaving Mickey for another rodent, could be a mouse or a rat, named Mr. Slicker. Mickey is despondent and then attempts to take his life through various methods. Each time failing. Eventually he decides that life is worth living, but it is a pretty wild ride.

The strip was written and drawn by Floyd Gottfredson. In April 1930, Gottfredson started work on the just four-month-old Mickey Mouse daily comic strip. A strip that until then had heavy involvement from Walt himself. But Floyd took to it and he would define the Mickey Mouse cartoon world in the same way that Carl Barks would the world of Donald Duck.

From what I have read online, the story-line did not originate with Gottfredson, but with Walt Disney. If that is true, it is more than fascinating. We are seeing a dark side to Mickey’s life, that came straight from his creator. My guess is that this is not Mickey Mouse canon, but it might be the most “real” I have seen Mickey. So maybe it should be. I will let you decide. Here are the strips for your reading pleasure.

Mickey Mouse Suicide series of Comic Strips

In the first few days of the strip, we meet Mr. Slicker at the Mickey Mouse Miniature Golf Course. This is where he meets both Mickey and Minnie. They go out for food and Mr. Slicker defends Minnie’s honor, which impresses her. Even though Mickey tried to do that same. Sadly he failed.

Like a lot of early stories with Minnie Mouse, she is more of a prop than a real character.

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 1

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 2

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 3

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 4

On Days five through seven, Mickey is pushed out. Mr. Slicker has made his move and Minnie seems to be smitten. Gotta admit, this Slicker guy is kind of…slick.

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 5

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 6

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 7

Mickey is about to do something about it and Horsecollar comes along with some terrible advice. Not saying Mickey should have knocked Mr. Slicker’s block off, but he should have talked to Minnie.

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 8

Now it is too late and Mr. Slicker and Minnie are thing now. Poor Mickey. I really like that sad last frame.

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 9

Now come the Mickey Mouse suicide attempts. Mickey tries via gun, drowning, leaping from a bridge, gas and hanging. Each time he fails with mild comic hi-jinks resulting.

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 10

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 11

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 12

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 13

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 14

The final comic is the one where Mickey decides to hang himself from a tree. While doing so he encounters some happy smiling squirrels. Their natural happiness makes him feel better and he decides that life is worth living. Instead of using the rope to hang himself. Mickey turns it into a swing. Now this is the Mickey I know!

mickey mouse suicide comic strip day 15

This was a fascinating run of a great comic strip. If you are interested in more Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson, please check out the compilations that have been printed of his work.

Retro Comic Book Ads

Old comic books often act as a time capsule.  They’re full of advertisements of products from long ago.  Some are still with us, while others are not.  I often like to crack open the pages of a long forgotten comic book and just browse the advertisements found inside with which to take a trip back in time to another era.  Let’s open one of those time capsules here today.

The “time capsule” for this trip back in time is a copy of Iceman #1, from Marvel Comics in 1984.  It was the first issue of his first mini-series, and I imagine this mini-series was created to capitalize on the character’s popularity from the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon.

The first ad we come across is a real eye opener.  It’s for the Mario Bothers home video game for the Atari 2600 system.  It’s hard to think of a Mario game being on any system besides one from Nintendo, but this is from before Nintendo was launched in the USA and Mario took over the video gaming world.  This version of the game for Atari was an arcade port to the home system.

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Eclipso '66 - Reading Batman

Eclipso ’66…Reading Comics with Batman

Welcome to Best Event Ever, an annual team-up of podcasts and blogs. Last year, we looked at Bloodlines, this year we’re tackling the 25th anniversary of Eclipso: The Darkness Within.
Eclipso '66 - 25 logo

Eclipso: The Darkness Within was the 2nd attempt by DC Comics to turn this little known character into a major villain like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. Believe it or not, DC’s first attempt to make him famous occurred all the way back in the Bat-tastic Year 1966.

There is so much cool Eclipso ’66 stuff, that it has taken three separate posts to cover it. This is my 3rd and final post. My first post looked at some wonderful Whitman puzzles from 1966.
Eclipso '66

My 2nd post looked at an awesome card game from 1966. That Eclipso ’66 post was so big that it ran in two parts – part one and part two.
Eclipso '66 - Batman Cards

In February of 1966, Batman faced off against Eclipso ’66 and The Queen Bee in The Brave and Bold #64.
Eclipso '66 - The Brave and the Bold

This issue was written by Bob Haney and penciled and inked by Win Mortimer. Bob Haney has a reputation for writing absolutely crazy stories. His fans lovingly refer to him as Zany Haney. This story is a classic example of how Bob Haney earned that nickname.

It is night time in Gotham City. A red headed woman is walking alone on a pier, when someone fires an arrow at her. Batman appears on a nearby roof and uses his Bat-rope to lasso the arrow. The woman faints, but thankfully the Dark Knight Detective catches her before she falls into the water. While all of this is going on, the archer escapes.

Batman realizes that the red headed woman is none other than his long lost love Marcia Monroe. That’s not a typo; Marcia and the Caped Crusader are an item, not Marcia and Bruce Wayne. If you think that is odd, just wait.

The couple kisses and we get dialogue that only Bob Haney could write:
BATMAN: Marcia…I can hardly believe it’s you. But…but why was that bow buzzard trying to ventilate your beautiful torso?
Eclipso '66
Ms. Monroe explains that the archer was trying to get the Cat Emerald. The Dark Knight instantly recognizes the emerald, which looks like a cat’s head, because it was stolen. When asked if she stole it, Marcia explains that it was stolen by someone she loved.

Here we get the first of many flashbacks in this story. Marcia and the Caped Crusader have broken up and Marcia is now in love with Nicky Jarvas. Even though they were engaged, Nicky didn’t feel like he could compete with Marcia’s love for Batman, and he didn’t want to live off of Marcia’s wealth, so he decided to take care of both problems by stealing one of the world’s most prized gems. He succeeded, but somehow the international criminal organization CYCLOPS found out that Nicky committed the theft.

The year 1966 wasn’t just the year of The Bat, it was also the heart of Bond and Man from U.N.C.L.E. mania. You’ll see that reflected in this story multiple times. Some of CYCLOPS killers caught up with Nicky and he died in Marcia’s arms. His death wish was that the emerald would be returned, so that no one would know that he died a criminal.

After that flashback, another whole series of flashbacks shows Marcia and Batman’s love affair. Marcia was a rich girl who was bored and liked to live recklessly. The Dark Knight rescued her when she was walking on a bridge’s support system while singing, “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” Batman was the first man Marcia ever met that she looked up to, so she fell in love with him. One night, Marcia, who was a crack shot with a pistol, saved the Caped Crusaders life. They became partners in crime fighting and fell in love. Batman proposed to Marcia and told her that she would learn his secret identity when she took his name by becoming his wife. A few days later, a policeman gave Batman a ‘Dear John letter’ from Marcia. She broke off her engagement, moved to Europe, and resumed her playgirl life.
Eclipso '66

Back to the present. Marcia is in danger as long as she has the emerald, and she wants to fulfill Nicky’s dying wish. She asks the Caped Crusader if he will break in to the museum and return the jewel. Reluctantly, Batman agrees.

Batman breaks into the museum and returns the gem. The next day, Commissioner Gordon arrests him. Gordon has camera footage of the break in and the emerald is missing. Even though they’ve been friends for years and Batman has saved Gotham countless times, Commissioner Gordon automatically assumes that the Dark Knight is now a criminal.

Batman realizes that Marcia set him up. He has plenty of time to think about it, because he is sent to jail. He is still wearing his cape and cowl in jail, but at least they took his utility belt.

While in jail, he hears two criminals talking about The Queen Bee. Batman and the Justice League faced a villain named The Queen Bee in 1963, but this is not that character. This is an all new character who, to the best of my knowledge, only appeared twice – once in this comic book and the other time in the card game I talked about in my previous post.
Eclipso '66

Elsewhere, a solar eclipse has begun and it is releasing Eclipso from Bruce Gordon. Dr. Gordon’s team isn’t worried because they have Bruce strapped to a chair and are going to “hit him with a high protein light blast” which will take care of Eclipso, but two of the Queen Bee’s drones fly in, cut the power cord, and carry off Eclipso.

The Queen Bee has gathered local criminals for a meeting. The meeting is being watched over by the giant green eye of CYCLOPS. Eclipso arrives and the criminals began a crime spree. The police can’t stop them and Batman is in jail. When one of the criminals who was talking about The Queen Bee is released from jail, the Caped Crusader breaks out of jail and tails him. Batman sneaks into the headquarters, a high rise building, but he is knocked unconscious by gas. Eclipso “kills” the Dark Knight by dropping him down a chute which leads to the river. Why a high rise building in downtown Gotham City has a chute that leads to the river is beyond me.

When Batman lands in the river, the cold water revives him. He hitches a ride on a garbage barge. A police patrol boat sees Batman and opens fire. He dives in the water, and the police think they’ve killed him. I love that this river which is downtown is so large that it has barges and ferries and is patrolled by police boats.
Eclipso '66
Bruce Gordon shows up at police headquarters and offers to help Commissioner Jim Gordon (I’m pretty sure the two are related) defeat Eclipso.

Back at the hive, i.e. the criminals headquarters, a man dressed in black climbs through the giant green eye. Queen Bee assumes it is The Agent from CYCLOPS. The agent pulls a gun on Queen Bee and Eclipso. Eclipso blasts the agent with his black diamond. The agent’s cowl is blasted off, but underneath it is another cowl, this one belonging to Batman. I don’t know which is worse, Batman wearing two cowls on top of each other, or that Batman pulled a gun on Eclipso and The Queen Bee!
Eclipso '66

The Queen Bee helps Batman escape from Eclipso because she is none other than Marcia Monroe. This is not a surprising reveal because I never for once thought the Queen Bee was anyone else. Marcia explains that she had Batman jailed so he wouldn’t be part of all the trouble going on. Why is Marcia the Queen Bee? Because her father had gotten involved with CYCLOPS and they were going to kill him. She agreed to become their Queen of Crime to save her father’s life and to clear his name. The Dark Knight and The Queen Bee kiss; she gives him the Cat Emerald, and he escapes.

Eclipso has been listening to everything via a hidden microphone on the Queen Bee’s costume. Batman, Eclipso, and two of the Queen Bee’s drones have a fight on the outside of the high rise. Doctor Gordon arrives on the scene. He climbs up on a fire truck’s ladder and hurls light grenades at Eclipso. In the blinding light, no one sees Eclipso return to Doctor Gordon’s body.
Eclipso '66

The Caped Crusader returns the emerald to Commissioner Gordon, thus proving that he was framed. Batman looks for Marcia but all he finds is her costume.

The story concludes with Batman saying: “Queen Bee’s costume…Marcia’s gone! Some day, she’ll have to pay for her crimes – and when that day comes, she’ll need all my help! Until then – farewell, honey!”
Eclipso '66

To the best of my knowledge, that day never came because Monica never appeared again.

I hope you enjoyed my coverage of Eclipso ’66. In 1966, he and the Caped Crusader faced off in toys, games, and comics. Unfortunately, the one place they never faced off was in the television show!

Want to read or listen to more about Eclipso ’66? Check out the other amazing Best Event Ever members:
Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill
Chris is on Infinite Earths
Coffee & Comics Podcast
For the Non-Discerning Reader
I’m The Gun
The Pop Culture Palace
Relatively Geeky Network
Rolled Spine Podcasts

Eclipso '66

Eclipso ’66…Playing Cards With Batman Part Two

Welcome back to the Best Event Ever, an annual team-up of podcasts and blogs. Last year, we looked at Bloodlines, this year we’re tackling the 25th anniversary of Eclipso: The Darkness Within.

A brief recap from the first post about the Batman card game. Eclipso: The Darkness Within was the 2nd attempt by DC Comics to turn the character into a major villain like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. Believe it or not, DC’s first attempt to make him famous occurred all the way back in the Bat-tastic Year 1966.

There is so much cool Eclipso ‘66 stuff, that it will take separate posts to cover it. It all started in fact with Eclipso ‘66…What A Puzzling Beginning! – looking at some wonderful Batman ’66 puzzles made by Whitman.
Eclipso - Batman

In addition, as a reminder these images are courtesy of Vintage Batman and Willie Baronet. The wonderful Batman card game also featured character portraits for:
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
Batman and Robin out of costume.

Eclipso '66
Their amazing butler, who unfortunately looks nothing like the wonderful Alan Napier.

Eclipso '66
Since Dick Grayson is an orphan, I always assumed that Harriet Cooper was Bruce Wayne’s Aunt. I was surprised to learn that she is in fact Dick Grayson’s Aunt.

Eclipso '66
Unfortunately, Commissioner Gordon’s sidekick Chief O’Hara didn’t get a card.

Eclipso '66
Instead, the boys in blue are represented by this card.

Eclipso '66
The Mayor of Gotham City also makes an appearance. Again, he looks nothing like Mayor Linseed.

Batman has the coolest vehicles around, so thankfully they get their own cards as well.
Eclipso '66

Of all the Batmobiles, the one from this TV series is my favorite. Launchpad McQuack could do a better job flying the Batplane!
Eclipso '66

Eclipso '66
This is probably my favorite card in the whole set. It is so silly. It looks even less air worthy than the Flintstone Flyer. Image from the amazing Cartoon Brew.
Eclipso '66 - Flintstone Flyer

What would Batman be without his rogues gallery? This card game features seven more villains in addition to Eclipso ’66 and the Queen Bee. Batman’s big four – Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler are present.
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
These days, Cat Woman is one word.

Eclipso '66
Did you know that before Frank Gorshin’s wonderful performance as the Riddler, he was a minor Batman villain who didn’t appear in comics very often?

Eclipso '66
Mr. Zero was the original name of Mr. Freeze. But, I don’t think he was ever referred to as Mr. Zero in Batman ‘66.

Eclipso '66
Calendar Man is a really odd choice because in back in 1966, he was a minor villain with only a handful of appearances. It wasn’t until 1996 and Batman: The Long Halloween that he became popular.

Eclipso '66
Blockbuster was a brand new Bat-villain who first appeared in November 1965. While he is still around, he never became a major Bat-villain.

Image courtesy of YvonneCraig.Com My only complaint about this set of cards is that Batgirl wasn’t included. But in all fairness, Yvonne Craig didn’t appear on Batman ‘66 until September 1967. That is a year after these cards were produced. So, I think I can forgive her absence. :)

Remember to revisit The Retroist in a few days for the conclusion of the Eclipso ‘66 trilogy.

Next time out, we’ll be reading comic books together. You won’t want to miss this because one of Eclipso’s relatives and the Queen Bee’s fiancé will be joining us. Hint: they both also appeared in this post. Want to read or listen to more about Eclipso? Check out the other amazing Best Event Ever members:
Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill
Chris is on Infinite Earths
Coffee & Comics Podcast
For the Non-Discerning Reader
I’m The Gun
The Pop Culture Palace
Relatively Geeky Network
Rolle Spine Podcasts