Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dave Cockrum Collection - Half Price Sale

Tonight, Dec. 26, only -- half off any comics from Dave Cockrum's personal collection. Serious chance to own a piece of history cheap! Click here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Original Gene Colan Sketches...Going Fast

Aardwolf Publishing reports that the Lettered Edition of THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN is sold out but you can still order one of the Ltd. Numbered Bookplate editions -- these come with unique original sketches from Gene Colan. And, as you can see, they are exquisite. Don't be dopey and miss out on this opportunity. Click here for more details.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My New Book

Times are tough, yes, but we must keep reading and reading real writers or we are no better than the people who ruined this country, poisoned the planet, and failed to save rock & roll.

Please order my new book directly from me. It will put the maximum dollars per sale in my pocket. And I need that at this moment in time.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

And Then The Locusts

A brief note.

I am still recovering from a kidney infection and brush with pneumonia. My stent was removed Friday and three hours later I was beset by bladder spasms, which caused fever and agony to rival the kidney stones. Thank G-d for Codine; I ate three-times my prescribed dosage. It was either that or a 9-mm bullet.

This evening, I began urinating baby blue, a side effect of the Prosed TM I find this curious after seven days of urinating, exclusively, crimson (and the 48 years prior of, exclusively, yellow).

The Levaquin TM continues to turn my stomach to puree of bat feces.

My oldest son tells me to eat yogurt. He says this while drinking beer.

Kelley, an old friend, keeps sending me smart-ass text messages, reminding me that it could be worse--after all, there's a new collection out from my old friend Kurt Vonnegut and in another time and place there will be government regulated fiction.

And tomorrow, the locusts.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stone Free

It is a statement of these parlous, Tofleresque times that, following my recent medical episode, I would forgo phone calls and reach back out to my many well-wishers through this web log in conjunction with the pop-tech of Twitter. (These days, I suspect, a woman no longer responds to a would-be paramour with “I’d rather be friends”—she rebuffs the invitation to cyber with the stranger incantation “I’d rather be FaceBook friends.” But enough e-Freud for one evening).

I have been through an ordeal that might not be fairly compared to Senator John McCain’s stay at the Hanoi Hilton, but it was miserable, I assure you—the worst physical pain I’ve dealt with, and that includes blowing out an ACL, tearing my meniscus, a chronic swollen lumbar-3, and that working over I saw my brother Dave administer to that arrogant fool who thought it wise to rob Clobbering Time, my Union, N.J., comics shop in 1990.

You go to the hospital with one thing, you come home with two. I felt a pain in my stomach on the eve of Wednesday, December 9, which promptly woke me. When I noticed that I was pissing blood, I grew concerned. A stone, said Chantzie. How do you know? I asked. It seems like a stone.

Soon the pain moved around to my right side. And then there was no right side—only pain. By 1:35 am I had checked into the Emergency Room at Saint Claire’s Hospital in Denville, N.J. They couldn’t get me a vomit bag fast enough.

“What’s wrong?” asked the triage receptionist?

“I’m dying,” I cried, dying. “And pissing blood.”

“It’s peeing blood,” she replied. (Pay heed, my friends, to the future voice of nationalized health care).

Despite Ms. Charmschool's semantics lessons, I was admitted shortly thereafter and shot full of meds via an IV in my left arm. This eventually made most of the pain and nausea subside. And then, three hours later, I was sent packing, with three prescriptions to fill and a hearty good luck. I was told I’d be better off passing the stone myself in the comfort of my home. Hard to argue with that.

I fell asleep that morning at around 4:45 am. By 6:45 that morning I was back in the ER. This time, a urologist saw me, though not until the next morning (Friday, December 11, my daughter’s 2nd birthday, for all that was worth). At this juncture, I was given a choice:

“We can go get the stone,” said the man, a nice man, a smart man, a doctor, “or I can give you meds and you can go home and try to pass it. You’re better off passing it yourself—it’s not invasive and there’s less chance of complication. Your stone is only 2-mm big—should pass easy. The CAT scan says it’s almost there now.”

I called my brother Dave and said, “Come get me.”

Dave had had one of these stones before. “How you holding up?” he asked as I climbed into his car.

“Worst pain I've ever had,” I said.

“But you haven’t blown it out your crank yet?”

I shook my head.

“Well,” he said, that Marine Corp. smile locked and loaded, “then you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

I was in my house hugging my children by 3:30 pm.

At 10:15 pm, I was back in the ER.

I’ll skip the other details for now. I’m just too exhausted to write anymore. It ends with the doctor doing an emergency procedure, fishing out a calcium stone with a “hook” on the end of the stone (see picture); the stone had nested in my kidney and wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, if ever. The puss around my kidney was alarming, too, said the urologist. “Good thing we got it when we did.” You're telling me.

In addition to the kidney infection that I'm now dealing with, I developed what’s known as hospital pneumonia. Was it from lying around for days or aspirating some of the anesthesia? No one can say for sure and, if they can, they’re not saying it to me.

Regardless: I am grateful.

I am grateful to be alive and back with my children once again. I’ve been home since early this evening. I think I missed the entire one-year anniversary of the confession of Bernie Madoff. I didn’t miss it at all. And I see you’ve all tallied up another half-dozen Tiger Woods’ mistresses. You go to the PGA Tournament with one thing and come home with 12 more.

I am grateful to be beyond the pain, if you don’t count that burning sensation I get every time I pee cherry juice (the likeness is exact!) This relative discomfort is a welcome gift compared with the death knell of an infected kidney.

I am grateful to those of you who reached out to me and offered small comfort, and sorry that I didn't return most calls or texts. Even now. My suffering was immense and my exhaustion is genuine.

Did I learn anything? You bet. I phoned my ex-wife of 12 years and begged for her forgiveness for anything I did pre- or post our divorce (“Cliff—We’ve been all through that! We’re friends now!” “I just need to hear it Staci,” I said with tear-filled eyes). And I called each big child to tell them I was proud of them and that no matter what happens (because you go to the hospital with one thing and come home—if you come home—with seventy-two). And I decided to maybe, just a little bit, let loose of some grudges in my anxiety closet that have grown beards and put in for pension plans. Life, as they say, is too short.

In all, it was the best Chanukah (with a “cha”) present I’ve ever received.

Speaking of Chanukah: Seeing the electric menorah in my room, which one kind soul was thoughtful enough to deliver, one nurse—noting my learned demeanor—asked me if there was a difference between orthodox and acidic Jews. “It depends upon the Jew’s ph balance,” I assured her.

Another woman, a Jew from Parsippany, asked if it was true that observant Jews don’t believe in Israel. “Yes, that it so,” I explained. “We believe that Israel is a hoax invented by the goyim to trap the Jews they didn’t get during the Holocaust—that it’s really a great hole in the map and if you attempt to go there, your vessel will fall off the face of the earth.” She looked at me aghast.

“So,” I added, “when does your flight leave?”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bru-Hed Joins First Wave On Kindle

This news just in on one of the better cartoonists still tromping about in the comics industry, my pal Mike Pascale:

Traditional comic books have finally joined the thousands of books available on Amazon's popular Kindle e-reader. However, the largest players, Marvel and DC (publishers of Spider-Man and Batman, respectively), are so far nowhere to be found. Instead, readers can find a small selection of alternative publisher fare, a few even produced by a single individual rather than the usual "assembly line" of mainstream comics.

One such comic that just became available is Bru-Hed's Guide to Gettin' Girls Now! by Mike Pascale and his Schism Comics imprint, celebrating its 10th anniversary of last publication. The comedic B&W, 28-page (including covers) comic books, first published in paper form in 1997 (volume 1) and 1999 (volume 2), are now uploadable to the Kindle for a fraction of their original $2.50 cover price.

"This was a no-brainer," explains writer-artist Mike Pascale. "I was alerted to the possibility by Pete Bickford of the dominant online comic-book marketplace, who educated me about the format and inherent opportunity. Since the big mainstream publishers' titles are in color, they're probably waiting for a color version of the Kindle. But for independent black-and-white comic creators like myself, this is an ideal way to get my characters and comics to the masses on a level playing field at an affordable price."

The "e-comic" features various single- and multi-page gags showing the big-headed, beer-drinking sexist Bru-Hed offering advice on picking up women, which often lands him in various stages of trouble. The character appeared briefly on MTV, the Sci-Fi Channel, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Contact Mike at

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who Wants To Be A Comic Book Artist?

Courtesy of Adam Kubert, here's some photos from last year's (May '08) scholarship presentations at The Joe Kubert School for Cartoon & Graphic Art. I was honored with awarding the Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship to second-year student Ian Ayala and am pictured here with living legend Joe Kubert who thanks me for wearing a blue shirt.

The scholarship is funded by sales from Dave Cockrum's personal comics collection.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dave Cockrum Estate Blowout

Dave Cockrum's personal collection of comics are now 35% off. Have a look.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Didja hear the one about the Italian, the Irishman and the Jew?

At WDHA studio with Pat DiNizio (the Smithereens) and radio's Jim Monaghan. Pat & Jim did a few Buddy Holly numbers.

The Smithereens will be rocking The Morristown Community Theater this Saturday night. The Jew is skipping the fights to go see them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Smithereens, Live in Morristown

It's only one of the best garage bands you'll ever see. And Mr. Meth will be there. Do yourself a favor and catch The Smithereens performing their hits like “A Girl Like You,” “Only a Memory,” “Blood and Roses” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep” this Saturday night in Morristown, NJ.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

At 46, Randy Couture Will Clean Your Clock

At 46, Randy Couture (17-10) is still the best, classiest, most important fighter in the game. Following a brief stint in the heavyweight queue, he returned to the light heavyweight division tonight and scored a decision over Brandon "The Truth" Vera (11-4) by a unanimous 29-28 in the UFC's main event. Couture's grappling style beat the younger, bigger, better striker.

"I controlled the tempo of the fight," said Randy. "It probably wasn't the most exciting thing to watch, but Brandon's dangerous; he kicked me twice in the body in the second and third rounds." You could see Randy was hurt, so he used his head, closed the gap, and won the fight.

Funakoshi Sensei wrote, "Karate-do without courtsey is not karate-do." Sadly, scumbags like Brock Lesnar and Tank Abbott are an embarassment to MMA.

At the other end of the spectrum, a gentleman and a warrior: Randy Couture.

Dave Cockrum's Personal Collection: Sale Continues...Books Added

If you haven't seen this collection yet, do yourself a favor: Here's a chance to own a piece of comic's history. And if you have visited, look again--more comics have been added--and more will be added later tonight, including file copies of Dave's.

The prices are right and will be further discounted if you purchase a handful... and the proceeds help his widow. Click here.

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Joe Jusko Weighs In On Marie Severin

Mentioning Marie Severin always seems to bring in the email. Everyone loves her and adored her art and was more than eager to participate in my stalled book (I have Stan Lee's foreword to the volume in my drawer gathering dust... for shame!)

Joe Jusko, the premiere painter of covers and cards, dropped me a note that shouldn't be buried in the fine print of comments:

Marie is an incredible talent and one of the nicest people I've ever met. She did the layout for my very first Marvel cover (which in my 18 year old arrogance I altered to a much weaker composition). To have the chance to do that over!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Marie, Wherefore Art Thou?

Marie Severin and I were still at the fairly early stages of her visual bio (text meets art portfolio) when, sadly, she took ill. Now she's harder to find than J.D. Salinger, so folks occasionally send me letters intended for her. Here's excerpts from a recent one (yes--I'll pass along the letter to her in its entirety):
Dear Mrs. Severin: Like a lot of other fans out there, I feel like I owe a debt of gratitude to you that I can never repay. I wasn't around when you were first drawing all the great issues that I've come to love. I didn't read all your issues of The Incredible Hulk 'til later on or know who to thank... At the time, I was a little kid with dirty knees reading much-loved copies of his dad's comics. Most of 'em were in pretty okay shape, but several were pretty shredded up after narrowly escaping a tornado in the 1970s... I didn't know growing up that it was your vision of these characters that did and still continue to thrill me and give me touchstones of happy times from my life as I grew up.
I think of all the work you've done, the stuff I got a kick out of the most was your work on Not Brand Echh... [It] remains a special memory to me of my childhood afternoons with my grandmother in the house my dad grew up in, reading his old comics... I'm constantly hoping that Marvel will release those stories as a nice hardcover in their Marvel Masterworks collection, or some other nice format. It's been way too long since fresh eyes have gotten to see those wonderfully silly stories.
I'll likely never meet you at a convention since I live in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and it isn't the vast metropolis it sounds like, so I'll never get a shot to thank you personally for your wonderful body of art. It saddens me that I won't get to shake your hand and look you in the eye with a dopey grin on my face and say thanks. This is the best I can do for now. But I have to thank you, all the same. All the journeys your stories have taken me on have given me many a happy moment reading and imagining. You're one of the maybe dozen people in your field that I can repeatedly re-read and re-read...knowing what'll happen when Hulk fights Sub-Mariner... or that Charlie America has a trashcan lid for a shield (of course!). And [on] the occasion when I find something by you I've never seen before, I'm thrilled that I get to see a whole new unearthed gem for the first time. You have such versatility in your work... zipping from humor to heroes to some stories that show how great a horror-feel you could have... Your moving, twisting, living characters practically make my own muscles stretch just by looking at them. You have continued and will continue to inspire and entertain people like me in all walk's of life by your herculean talent. I really do think that you're the greatest and I had to stop putting off writing this letter... Luckily I was put in touch with Clifford Meth who graciously offered to send this letter along to you for me... I dearly do hope you're enjoying your much-deserved retirement. For everything that you've done, some of which you may not realize you did, I just wanted to say thanks. --Matt S.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Neal Adams Remains Cutting Edge

Spoke briefly with my friend Neal Adams this morning. His Continuity Studios recently finished the first genuine motion comic for Marvel Entertainment. If there was ever a comics pioneer, it's Neal.

I took a gander at the Gifted Astonishing X-Men graphic novel on Neal's site. John Cassaday and Neal (who co-produced) take the concept of those old Jack Kirby "Merry Marvel Marching Society" cartoons I used to watch as a kid and put them on steroids. And LSD. Have a look.

Aardwolf Discounts The Invincible Gene Colan

Aardwolf Publishing reports that The Invincible Gene Colan remarqued editions are selling quickly. If you want one, better move on it.

Members of the Gene list (you know who you are) and readers of my blog can take an additional 10% discount off of the signed/numbered edition only. Send just $45 per copy via PayPal to (add another $5 for total shipping). Offer good this week only.

It's My Blog & I'll Cry If I Want To

Today, November 11, would have been Dave Cockrum's 66th birthday. Salute, old friend!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Friend Dave Cockrum

I am home with fever and achy and miserable and spent most of the day under a blanket re-reading Bukowski and a book about mobsters. Then something made me pick up The Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10. Published in 2000, the book opens with a genuinely wonderful foreword from my pal, Dave Cockrum, where Dave talks about his early career; how he ended up inking for Murphy Anderson and lucked onto a book like Superboy in the first place and what he was thinking and feeling and doing every panel of the way. It's a great story guest-starring Cary Bates and Neal Adams and Murray Boltinoff and Jim Warren a not a single note of ego. Not a peep of bravado. More a how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation by someone who loved life, loved comics, loved what he was doing and why... And then there were the comics with all those marvelous SF designs. Made me miss the hell out of him.

And then I decided to go back and re-read The Uncanny Dave Cockum and I missed Dave even more. The art is stunning, and then there's those memories from Dave's many peers... and the Harlan Ellison piece, which is milk-through-your-nose hysterical, and I so didn't want to laugh because my ribs hurt from fever... And then the end, that tragic end, and I hurt from crying.

He was one of a kind, that Dave. Just as sweet and funny and decent as they come.

Aardwolf Publishing is running a special on Dave's book right now. That's not why I wrote this, but you should know. If you don't have this book you should get one. Dave is worth spending time with--his art, the man, all of it. I'd pay good money to have my friend back again.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Invincible Gene Colan...Order Now!

You're hearing it here first...

Marvel Entertainment will release my 128-pg. THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN in February, 2010, a visual biography of one of the most brilliant, sublime and influential comic artists in the history of the genre. Includes observations from Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Neil Gaiman, Walter Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Tom Palmer, Steve Gerber, Tom Spurgeon and John Romita Sr., and beautiful, eye-popping art from the Shadow Master himself.

Aardwolf Publishing will have exclusive signed/numbered copies as well as an extremely limited double-lettered remarqued, book-plated edition (containing a unique Colan sketch). If you want one of these, I urge you to order it immediately. Here’ the details:

* Signed/numbered: $60 plus $5 shipping

* Double-lettered remarqued edition (contains Colan sketch; only 52 will be created): $140 plus $5 shipping

* Special offer: With any order, add another $15 and receive THE UNCANNY DAVE COCKRUM hardcover numbered edition ($40 retail value).

Make checks payable to Aardwolf Publishing and mail to: Aardwolf Publishing, 179-9 Rt. 46 West, Box 252, Rockaway, NJ 07866

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dave Cockrum Estate Offers 35% off DC Comics

Thanks to some (ahem) small efforts on my part, Paty Cockrum finally received her Marvel royalty check (it comes twice/year for Dave Cockrum's share in Nightcrawler) but I am still raising money to help her defray an unexpected tax bill. So today only we are offering DC Comics from The Estate of Dave Cockrum for 35% off. Click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stan Lee Still Makes Me Smile

I turn 49 in just four short months, but I become a child again when I get a note like this one:

Hey, Cliff,

Even sight unseen-- thanx for your Stan Lee quotes in your Colan book.

I hope it's a best seller and Gene gets a lotta cash and you get a lotta cash and glory!

Excelsior, Mr. Biographer!


The Invincible Gene Colan is scheduled for release from Marvel Entertainment in February, 2010.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Whorehouse Madrigals

Review copies of The Whorehouse Madrigals by Hank Magitz recently went out to selected writers and friends. Then I received this lovely note last night:

We're convinced that Clifford Meth is 1,000 years old at the very least. You step into the world of his fictional creations within the first paragraph of everything he's ever published; and his worlds are never ones we're familiar with...yet we are. It's the humanity, the truth of human nature he observes so keenly as to put Shakespeare on alert. We want to cry, even when the sadness is not overtly expressed, or bust out laughing, even though a moment is bitter. It's impossible to articulate why or how Cliff does this to his audience. It's impossible to know how he, in his one singular life, can so deeply know and express the lives of others... You marvel at his genius at turning a phrase and virtually creating new words by complimenting them and combining them with others, but he never fails to sweep me away and leave us humbled and awed by his talent."
--Gene & Adrienne Colan

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CGC'd Silver Age Comics Added to Cockrum Estate Sale

CGC created the "Dave Cockrum Estate" pedigree specifically for this collection. Take a look here. And please contact me if you want three or more books--we are ready to deal. Paty Cockrum needs the money now. Let's help her.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dave Cockrum's Garage Sale

She'll be annoyed at me for saying anything, but that's what are friends for: Paty Cockrum--Dave's widow and retired Marvel Comics Bullpen colorist and penciller (as Paty Greer)--had an unexpected tax bill courtesy of Uncle Sam that's more than she can handle at the moment. To help offset the burden, I'm lowering the already low prices on Dave Cockrum's personal comics collection, which I sell for the estate (proceeds typically benefit a scholarship at the Joe Kubert School; this time they benefit Paty).

Please click here to see what's for sale, make a list of the books you'd like, and drop me an email at -- I'll make you an offer you can't refuse.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Something for Nothing

Stop fooling around and subscribe to this blog already. It's free. It's doesn't cost money. In fact, it saves money, if time is money. Perhaps time is trading stamps. Either way, you'll never have to check back again because you'll get an alert when I update this site. Isn't technology aces?

What will you find here? Bits about musicians, comics creators and entertainers I fancy or pal about with; news regarding projects I'm working on; an occassional, uncomfortable truth; tales of revenge; opportunities to buy art or comics at great prices while helping a creator down on their luck; occassional appearances or interviews with celeb friends like Harlan Ellison and Marv Wolfman and Herb Trimpe and Gene Colan and Marie Severin and Peter David and Walt Simonson and Jim Steranko and Jeff Jones and Bob Silverberg and Ian Anderson and Pat DiNizio and Steve Forbert and Peppi Marchello and Stan Lee and Roy Thomas and Handsome Dick Manitoba; occasional references to things you ought to know about but don't yet...

Just scroll down on the right-hand column of this page and click on Subscribe To. It's free, you cheap bastard.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sick Again

If I've been cranky or unresponsive it's a combination of the flu (for days, apparantly) and an inner ear infection that the doctor told me I caught in the nick of time, but may still end up rupturing my eardrum. Just in time for the October Classics.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meet The Good Rats

As Dr. Bristol points out, had they started in the age of the Internet and You Tube, the Good Rats would be a household name, but they arrived too soon. Or they were too good. Or too hairy. Too something. Peppi Marchello and The Good Rats headlined arena shows in the NorthEast and got airplay, but they just didn’t explode like they deserved to. No one I know can figure it out. Everyone in NJ, NY--every Met fan, Yankees fans, Giants fan--was a complete Rathead. Anyone who saw them play was hooked forever.

But the old, original Good Rats are still alive and well, still playing reunion shows and making people crazy. And Peppi Marchello and his new Good Rats are still knocking people out as they make the rounds at local clubs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Does this bomb make my ass look fat?

Snaked, Sylvia Plath, and why Harlan Ellison is like Jesus Christ

The following interview appeared several years ago at

What are you working on these days?

Getting more sleep. People don’t realize how important sleep is. I was just having this conversation with Howard Zimmerman the other day. Howard’s the former head of iBooks and an excellent editor. I’d gotten into a dust up with somebody the night before and Howard asked if I’d been drinking at the time and I told him I was sober as a judge but terribly sleep deprived and he said, "That’ll do it."

I meant what projects are you working on?

Why didn’t you say so? I’m working on a few top-secret things for IDW Publishing and a treatment for the proposed "Snaked" film.

I thought I’d read that deal was signed.

It was. "Snaked" was optioned by Richard Saperstein and Elysium Films, but I’m under contract to turn in a treatment and if that flies then I’ll do the screenplay. And if it doesn’t fly, I’ll go catch up on my sleep.

Assuming you get to do the screenplay - or at least the first draft - how hard will it be to let it go to the inevitable Hollywood rewrite and potential bastardisation of your creation?

It’s not like raising children, no matter what Sylvia Plath said. Crazy bitch wrote that seeing her poems edited was like watching her children get raped. What a fucking poseur thing to write! Spoken like a woman with an infertile womb…"Snaked" was a short story and then it was a comic and then it will be a screenplay and then, if the stars are aligned, a movie. Different stages in the lifespan of a creative embryo but it ain’t a child. It’s not even a puppy. Which is not to say I don’t care about it because I do care about it. But by the time anything reaches a big screen, it’s rarely a singular vision. You have to be Copola or Tarantino to get that, so I have no illusions. The "Spider-Man" you see on screen isn’t Stan Lee’s Spider-Man, and it’s 180 degrees from Steve Ditko’s twisted brainchild. But it’s cool.

How has Snaked gone over with readers? As well as you expected? Do people "get" it?

I think readers liked it better than I did. I’m rarely satisfied with anything I’ve written. I still like the poetry section of Perverts, Pedophiles & Other Theologians. I think that might have been my best work. That or Wearing the Horns, which was a novella I did about the divorce culture, or about a man with a tiny penis, depending upon your vantage point. "Snaked" the short story, which preceded the comic by about ten years, was something I’m still comfortable with, but the comic book was an experiment and I didn’t have time to percolate it as long as I like to. Ask me in five years if I like it. But yes, I suppose readers liked it. The first print sold out.
That says something, I guess. Any other books in the works?

Aardwolf is preparing my Comic Book Babylon, which will collect my "Past Masters" columns and some interstitial material. I began that column to help Dave Cockrum get his missed X-Men royalties from Marvel and ended up developing a sort of gonzo, behind-the-scenes look at the comics industry. There’s guest appearances by Harlan Ellison, Alan Moore, Neal Adams and quite a few others. And me getting drunk with Mark Texeira. Stan Lee wrote the introduction.

What’s with you and Harlan Ellison?

What does that mean?

He’s somewhat controversial yet it seems in your eyes he can do no wrong. He seems to be a father figure to you.

None of those statements are true. Harlan is not controversial; he’s a man of impeccable integrity who won’t be pressured by society or individuals or money or terrorists or the unraveling of the fabric of the universe to do things he doesn’t believe in… or to shut up. And I’ve seen him do plenty wrong—he makes the same kinds of mistakes everyone makes, like putting too much sugar in his coffee or eating things that doctors say he shouldn’t eat or taking the wrong exit on the FDR. Don’t kid yourself—those are serious mistakes! But the types of mistakes others might claim he makes are not things I would call mistakes… Harlan isn’t a father figure to me. I had a perfectly wonderful father who gave me the best guidance a father could offer, and a terrific education and unconditional love; a father I adored more than anything in the world, and he was old enough to be Harlan’s father... Harlan is more like a big brother. After awhile, I tend to forget that he’s one of the century’s great writers. He’s just a dear friend I admire and love and find terribly entertaining… But, do no wrong? Of course he does wrong. Jesus did wrong! You think Jesus was happy with himself after he tipped over that table in the Temple? No one wants to go home feeling like a klutz.

Tell me about your children.

The oldest two are already better fighters than most men will ever become.

And that’s important to you?

Of course. That's why I trained them. My boys started in my dojo learning Shotokan, then graduated to mixed martial arts, which is the trend these days, thanks to the UFC.

Is that a good thing?

No—that’s a great thing. MMA was the natural progression for anyone who took competitive fighting seriously. My teacher, Grand Master Richard Sensei Lenchus, always stressed the practical aspects of street fighting in our dojo. If you concentrate on sports fighting—on speed tag for points—you lose the entire reason for martial arts. The arts were designed to protect individuals from attackers, not to win trophies. MMA is serious, real-world martial arts. In a one-on-one situation, you’re almost always at an advantage if you have grappling experience; if you have a ground game. But in a bar fight, where if you land on someone his buddy might clock you in the back of the head with a beer bottle, well you’re a damn fool to take it to the ground. My sons, who are excellent wrestlers, can single-leg or double-leg you in the blink of an eye and you’re on your back before you know what’s flying. Then it’s ground and pound and you’re waking up with a crowd around you. Their years of competitive grappling are the perfect arsenal for one-on-one, even against opponents 30 or 40 lbs. heavier. But my game is stick and move. I was trained to tag the first guy and move on to the next guy before the first one hits the ground. It’s a different approach. One-on-one, my sons can take me down now. Three-on-one, you’d pick me. Even at 47 and out of shape, that’s what my training was all about… So, to answer your question, yes, that’s a good thing. Men need to teach their sons to fight. They need to teach their sons other things, too, but that’s one of them. You don’t teach them to pick fights, but you teach them not to fear fights. Big difference.

It’s almost a taboo subject to broach, but there’s a real feeling among black comics creators that there’s a racist undercurrent in comics, even if subconscious, on the part of readers and bosses. Do you have any feeling or evidence of that in your experiences?

Nope. Talent makes it. Talent gets discovered. Shitty writers get work, too, but there’s no holding back quality.

You often write about Jewish topics.

Sure. That’s what I know so that’s what I write. All writers do that. Your life and experiences create a confluence of material that you draw upon. I’m rock-and-roll culture. I’m 1970s post-Nixon mod. I’m Marvel Comics and New Wave science fiction and 20th Century literature and Beat poetry and baseball and Northern New Jersey. And I’m an observant Jew. Add a little salt, it goes down fine with a good tequila.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Of all liars, memory is sweetest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Still Handsome After All These Years

Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators (and late of the MC5) will be writing the introduction to THE WHOREHOUSE MADRIGALS. I am choked with delight. The book, from Aardwolf Publishing, will feature a cover by award-winning fantasy painter Kelly Freas. It is scheduled for February 2010.

I will have a handful of lettered copies, signed by Dick, artist Mike Handerson and myself. Want one?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Avram Davidson's ROGUE DRAGON Flies Again

Avram Davidson's ROGUE DRAGON returns to print this month in the NEW CLASSICS OF THE FANTASTIC series that I had the honor of editing. Harlan Ellison provides a warm and wonderful new introduction to the book.

I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Avram while he was alive. I only know this great man, this great writer through his startling work and through his generous widow Grania Davis, and through his friends and students who loved him so and raved about him, including Harlan and Bob Silverberg and Jack Dann (who edited the enviable Wandering Stars and Avram's Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven).

And I am one of them now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gene Colan Returns Home

Gene Colan, who turns 83 in a few weeks, came home early in the evening yesterday. There’s still medical issues that need to be addressed regularly but Gene sounded nothing short of chipper on the phone this morning and continues to blow kisses and send everyone his love and gratitude for their prayers and support.

Gene and I hope to wrap up interviews for THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN this week. To clarify (for those who have been asking or not paying attention), this is largely an art book--a gorgeous art book with lots of previously unpublished art--that will contain a narrative based on my interviews with Gene and many of his peers, including Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., Tom Palmer, Walter Simonson, Marv Wolfman, David Lloyd and Steve Englehart. Tom Spurgeon, the finest journalist covering the comics medium also contributes. The book is designed by Richard Sheinaus, who has done masterful work for Aardwolf Publishing and IDW.

Published by Marvel, all proceeds from the book’s sale will directly benefit Gene.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gene Colan: The Secret Was the Eraser

As we await Gene's return home tomorrow, let's return to my interview notes with Gene, which were done in preparation of Marvel's forthcoming INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN:

Your Iron Man was more emotional than Steve Ditko's, Jack Kirby's, and Don Heck's earlier versions of the character. Was that difficult to portray?

Gene: I thought the eyes and the mouth were the most expressive part of Iron Man's emotions. I felt something had to be left out [of the mask] because of the fact that his face was mostly metal. He has to see and in order to keep a sort of masculine, heroic look, I would have to put the eyes in.

I played down any protrusion of what would indicate his nose. See, the eyes and nose are the things that complete a face. I didn't want to "complete" the face. So I had to leave something out. By eliminating his nose, the eyes would tell it all: whether he was angry, sad...whatever the emotion, it would be revealed by the eyes and mouth. I left an ever so slight opening on the mouth. Actually (laughing) I no longer remember how I did it! But it certainly was a challenge! And thank God for the eraser! I developed his face with tremendous help from the eraser as I went along with the plot by adding and subtracting facial expressions until I got what I wanted.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whorehouse Madrigals features Mike Henderson

Mike Henderson, a wild talent and former Kubert School alum, will be doing illustrations for my forthcoming Whorehouse Madrigals (Aardwolf Publishing). I am delighted to introduce this terrific young artist to my readers. As previously noted, the book's cover will be an original by Kelly Freas and Christian Krank.

Gene Colan Update: More Good News

Adrienne Colan writes me this evening, "Good news: Gene is being discharged Monday. The infectious disease doctor has decided to send him home with a 'feed line'. He'll be visited daily by a nurse for one month. She'll inject the antibiotics into the feed and it will go more directly to his heart. This bug typically lies dorment and hides in the heart valves so he's taking no chances and I'm thrilled. His care has been outstanding and we're so grateful. God has been so good to us! Thanking you for your support and prayers...Gene's spirits are up as they had been all along. You've all meant so much to us throughout this ordeal. We take not an ounce of it for granted."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gene Colan Update: Heading Home Soon

Adrienne Colan tells me that Gene has an infection in his heart. He will be staying at the hospital at least through the weekend but doctors hope to release him on Monday or Tuesday if he continues to improve. The neck pains that he complained of earlier are arthritic. I expect to finalize editorial with him by the end of the month for THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN and to turn the book over to Marvel by mid-Sept., just after Gene's 83rd birthday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gene Colan: Update

This just in from Adrienne Colan: "Gene's developed an infection in his blood. He still can't speak right and hard to stay awake. so much pain in his neck they've gone from percocet every 8 hours to every 6 hours which could be the reason why his speech is off and [he's] tired. They're not sure that the pneumonia is responding to the antibiotic. Fever down, but still coughing and blood infection now. They're not not promising a date as to when he'll be home. His spirits remain happy and enthusiastic."

Adrienne asks that people don't bother her today; she's exhausted and has too much on her plate.

Gene Colan Update

Just hung up with Gene who sends his love to friends and fans who are thinking of him at this time.

Gene is still in the hospital but his spirits are high. He complained of a stiff neck but other than that he's encouraged by his doctors. As usual, he was more interested in hearing about me than talking about himself.

"I had pneumonia once before," he recalled. "Back in the '40s. They filled me up with penicillin and I was coughing so much I kept the whole place awake. But they were very nice to me. One of the nurses brought me a stack of paper and a whole box of pencils." Which, let's face it, is all this man needs.

Gene Colan Hospitalized

Gene Colan is back in the hospital, which is always serious for someone his age. He was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital yesterday morning and may be home by late Wednesday-early Thursday. He has pneumonia in his right lung behind his heart and there's the possibility of infection.

I am announcing this so you can add your prayers to ours, but I must insist that his wife Adrienne NOT be inundated with emails and phone calls right now. Post messages to the Gene Colan board at Yahoo but do NOT start calling her now--she is exhausted and has enough to deal with.

Well-wishes can be sent to Gene Colan, 2240 Burnett Street, #5D, Brooklyn, NY 11229.

I will vigilantly update this blog with further news.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the Origins of Adam Austin

An excerpt from my forthcoming THE INVINCIBLE GENE COLAN (Marvel Entertainment):

By the mid-Sixties, both DC and Marvel were vying for exclusivity of Gene's talent. This led to Colan using the pseudonym “Adam Austin” on some of his Marvel work. Legend has it that Stan Lee, who had a penchant for alliteration, invented Colan's nom de plume--after all, Adam Austin was so Peter Parker-like. But Adrienne Colan sets the record straight:

"At the time, I was pregnant with our son Erik," Adrienne recalls. "Gene and I both loved the name Adam and we were considering naming our baby that. But then Gene decided on Erik. So when we felt we needed a name that would allow Gene to work for both DC and Marvel without either finding out, I suggested Adam Austin and that's what we went with.

"Part of the dilemma for Gene was trying to make a living. Gene was trying to hold onto his freelance status by keeping the knowledge that he was working for both DC and Marvel away from each other. Went over like a lead balloon. First crack in our plan was a call from Dean Mullaney. 'Hi Gene. Don't bother trying to fool me with that Adam Austin bit--I'd know your work anywhere just based on your panel design and composition.'

"The Second crack in our plan—and the death knell, so to speak—was when Gene was leaving DC one afternoon having just delivered a job. As he neared the elevator, who should be getting off the elevator? Martin Goodman! 'Hi Gene!' he said. The end!

"Stan [Lee] called the next day and offered Gene a $5 per page raise to come over exclusively. Although unplanned, it was exactly what Gene was praying for. He was dying to work for Marvel."

Adam Austin made his Marvel super-hero debut in Tales to Astonish #70 when he introduced the Sub-Mariner strip to the book.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bitter Meth?

Fanboy Planet has this to say about my new book BILLBOARDS:

Meth's special blend of bitterness and hope makes his dystopian tale intriguing, disturbing, and vaguely uplifting... In a future where America has fallen to off-shore corporate interests, the best career path for a young man and woman is to be beautiful...Though beauty may be only skin deep, it turns out that the advertising tattoos Meth's protagonists sport go further than anyone knew...Supported by spot illustrator Dave Gutierrez, the writer questions if true love can survive, even flourish, in a society so inundated by messages that everything has become meaningless.
Read the full review here.
And for those interested, I now have numbered copies.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Original Good Rats Reunion

At long last... October 24 at The Crazy Donkey in Long Island.

The only question is how do you fit all of Long Island in one room?

And if you haven't seen Peppi and the Good Rats new commercial yet, you should click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curb Reunites Seinfeld

For more than a decade, Larry David has said a "Seinfeld" reunion wouldn't happen. Now it's here--but only within the fictional universe of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

The seventh season of "Curb" returns on Sept. 20 and will center around Larry finally "agreeing" to do a reunion of the defining '90s sitcom. All four "Seinfeld" cast members will play themselves in multiple episodes, and the season finale will feature extensive snippets of the show-within-the-show. Can't wait!

Marv Wolfman Tweets (It goes with the sweater)

He created Blade and the Teen Titans. And although he'll never admit it, I taught him to Tweet. You can follow him here.

Harlan Ellison vs. Frank Sinatra

I've heard the story from Harlan but just came across this. Gay Talese remembers the incident:

That night I’m sitting at a bar around ten o’clock, watching people, and sure enough I notice Frank Sinatra sitting down the corner of the bar with two blondes. Sinatra goes to play pool and I witness a scene between Sinatra and a guy named Harlan Ellison, and I write it down on a shirt board. But I don’t get it all, so I go up to Ellison and ask him if I can talk to him the next day. He gives me his phone number and address. When we speak in person I ask him not just what everyone said, but what he was thinking. I always ask people what was on their mind. Were you surprised by Sinatra? Had you me him before? Did you think he was going to hit you, or did you want to pop him?

From what I recall, Sinatra made a Jew crack at Harlan. From what I recall, no one created a petition to protest the matter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gene Colan: Trying to Top Jack Kirby

Everyone's back from SDCC now. The phone keeps ringing. Where were you, they ask?

Gene Colan, who arrived home Monday, says he felt Hollywood had encroached too much on the con for his taste. "Kind of takes away from the whole experience," he said. "They trot in stars and it's no longer about comics... But I still had a great time!"

Gene's new Captain America #601 has apparantly sold out. This was the first comic I've bought in many years. Really brought me back. Gene may be 80+ years old now but he's never looked better on paper.

Recently, I promised more of Gene's unedited thoughts on the characters/books that he worked on. Here's Gene on Captain America:

Cliff: Was it particularly challenging following Jack Kirby on Captain America?

Gene: I certainly admired Jack Kirby's work tremendously. I really was weaned on his work. His work prepared me for the comic book world in a significant way. His action was very compelling and dynamic and I wanted to use it as a springboard to do even more--to see how much further I could take my action... beyond where Kirby took his. Certainly, it was a big challenge. Like if he had bricks and rocks coming at the reader, which he did very often and very dynamically, I tried to will the rocks to actually hit the reader (laughs). I wanted the reader to actually feel the blow from the rocks and fists... Of course, I couldn't really do that, but I tried.

I was intimidated by Jack's work, yes, but it made me a better artist. I became more of an artist and less of a cartoonist by trying to top Jack.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Harlan Ellison: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

His entire career and the body of his work have been about taking responsibility and the gold-standard of human decency and the quest for personal justice and the pursuit of bald truth, regardless of how it feels when you find it. And those of us fortunate enough to know him have experienced these things along with the colossus of his charisma, for better or worse. But some folks who don't know him, who are ignorant of his important life's work and his genuine character, can't fathom these multitudes, so they join the hanging party in an attempt to still a great voice. How silly they look when the lights are turned on.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Help Save John Ostrander's Eyesight

I'm not hard-wired into the comics community like I once was, alas, so apparantly this news made the rounds and I missed it. But my friend, writer Gail Simone, just clued me in and in the event that you're also in the dark:

Writer John Ostrander recently underwent numeroues surgeries for his Glaucoma--procedures that were an expensive, however tentative solutions. To make matters worse, his costly health insurance didn’t cover all the costs of saving his eyesight--not even near. The procedure was done in Boston, requiring two separate week-long trips to Boston, as well as repeated follow-up trips to track his progress and make adjustments. I remember when Gene Colan went through this some dozen years ago. It was miserable and frightening.

Once again, the comics community is rallying to help one of its own. "Too often in the comics world we find ourselves holding events after we’ve lost a creator who has given us so many years of joy," says the website Comix4Sight. "Now we have a chance to help one before its too late--after all, it would be terribly hard for John to write dialog for pages he cannot see."

The goal is to raise sufficient funds to help cover the costs of John’s treatments. Please visit this site for more information. I'm in. Please do something, small or big, but something.

Dog's Best Friend

David Grounds, a man with real guts, went after an alligator that was holding his 45 lbs. Wheaten terrier Mandy in its jaws. It cost him but he's fine with that. "It wasn’t a bad trade," says the 66-year-old Foridian. "Mandy for two fingers." See the video here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gencon, for you Game Geeks

My 14 year old plays games. Me? I prefer to put the gloves on. But Matt Fobeck will be there, and that's worth the trip. And Katrina the official "GenCon Girl" (pictured) asked me to say something, and I'm a sucker for pretty gals. Which is why they hire them. Have a look.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gene Colan: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This just in from da horse's mouth (so to speak): Despite blogged rumors to the contrary, Gene Colan and his lovely wife Adrienne (Guest of Honor at this year's FaceBook ComicCon! woo-hoo!) will be attending San Diego ComicCon.

There were some health concerns but the Dean has been cleared by his doctors and is good to go. When you see him, send my love.

More of Gene looking back on his Marvel character runs later tonight.

(art montage courtesy of Michael Netzer)