And the room exploded with applause

“…And herewith introduce to this body for consideration to render into law Bill H5150, in which any person found to be using homeopathic remedies will be considered a danger to themselves and others and be remanded for psychiatric counseling and physical health maintenance by an accredited medical practitioner until such time as they are no longer deemed a threat to their own person, or in the case of communicable illness or mental impairment of judgment or behavior, to the public.”

Not real but I can dream. Of course, if anything as awesome as dropping the hammer on the billions of dollars a year fake medicine industry ever really occurred Faux News would start shrieking that the Obama administration was trying to outlaw the drinking of water.

New Universities Dictionary Illustrated (1922)

Pages from New Universities Dictionary Illustrated (1922). The book is all but disintegrated from age and weathering but I managed to save the artwork. No artist information can be found in the book though there seems to be a signature on the Plumage page. I can’t determine if that is the artist name or the previous owner of the book.

A woody wagon is a surfin’ goodie

Like most kids of the early 1960s I was an avid watcher of Bozo’s Circus hosted by Bozo the Clown. Similarly like most kids I really, really wanted to win Bozo’s Treasure Box of toys, not knowing I had to be present on the set to have any sort of success in doing so. Millions of kids wanted to be on the show but the bleachers only held about thirty seats so odds were that would never happen for most.

Yet, Bozo wasn’t a mean clown so the show also held contests that the local stations over America that carried the show could attach to the program so the kids at home wouldn’t be left out. Most of the millions of viewing children didn’t have the resources to travel to Chicago to sit on the bleachers under the big tent. Eventually the majority of the children watching would have realized they had no chance of winning anything and would quit mailing in those cards and letters so involving the syndicated stations with contests was a really good idea.

Being typical, I entered one of those mail-in contests, had the post card sent off and promptly forgot about it. Sure, I watched the show but I was a kid. There were plenty of things to do in Saginaw in my youth. Play in the orchard, swim in the creek, explore the cattail swamp forest, try to cajole the semi-wild horses in the neighbor’s field to come up to the fence and climb around the giant cubes of crushed scrap metal stacked in the back of the Eaton plant. We didn’t have hundreds of television channels and computers and video games to play with. Mostly we had nature for that.

Then one day a month or after I had mailed off the entry to the television station I entered my Kindergarten class. Everybody started yelling when they saw me. After Mrs. Hill, the teacher, quieted everyone down she told my classmates and I that I had won one of the local Bozo the Clown contests. I was surprised since I don’t recall seeing the show the previous day but all the kids new. Even my teacher claimed to have watched the show entirely by accident. She had turned the television on but wasn’t wearing her glasses so she couldn’t see what station she was tuned into. Mrs. Hill told us she was turning channels and heard heard my name and hers being announced, saying we had won a drawing from the Bozo show.

The prizes were a corsage for my teacher and a 45 record for myself. I was a kindergarten celebrity! While what we won may not seem like much now today’s equivalent would be like clicking a spam banner on a website and actually winning an ipod instead of a come on or a computer virus. Everyone in the class was really pleased about us winning except for Vicky. She seemed a little jealous and managed to swipe and break my blue pencil that had the square eraser in the white base on the end. I really liked that pencil. Pretty soon the entire class forgot about the news and moved on to other things.

Eventually my record arrived in the mail and I played the heck out of it. I even took it to school to play in the classroom. The recordings on the 45 consisted of surf music, something that was all over the radio in the 1960s. There was a peppy vocal tune on the A side and an instrumental on the flip side of the record. The record was published by the Legend label (LEG-124) in 1963. The A side tune is What Is Surfin’ All About by Jerry Norell and the The Beach Girls. The B side is the instrumental Salt Water Taffy by Morty Jay and The Surfin’ Cats.

Being in Saginaw, Michigan I only had the vaguest notion of what the ocean was really like and exactly what surfing was as an activity. Not many people surfed in Lake Erie. The water, when not whipped up into foaming death swells by apocalyptic storms, had a tendency to melt fiberglass and plastic. Surf movies didn’t play much in that part of the country either and my parents weren’t the sort to take us to that kind of flick anyways. I was aware surf music existed from the radio but my household was usually filled with the sounds of instrumentals and Elvis. My only real exposure to music other than full orchestras and The Pelvis was from television or my uncles. They listened to a lot of the new stuff coming from the emerging rock scene and while I liked it they didn’t appreciate me hanging around because my incessant questions kind of interfered with their weed smoking and listening pleasure.

I kept the 45 as a treasured memento of youth and it moved along with me to California. It still remains in storage though it is heavily scratched from years of use. Still played great though. A copy of the record is extremely difficult to locate in pristine condition and demands a pretty high price for what it is, probably due more to the rarity of the record than the quality of the artists. Information on the production and artists is nearly non-existent and I have no idea how many of the records were pressed. To make a search all the more frustrating many of the available resources routinely get the names of the songs and artists in error. I’m sure this is from a sort of “Purple Monkey Dishwasher” error through repetition. Since fact-checking is difficult the errors were perpetuated through many sources so it is here I set the record straight.

The story of how a copy of this obscure 45 was made available as a prize from Bozo’s Circus out of Chicago is probably forever lost to time, but that’s okay. It’s all about the music, anyways. Today for your listening enjoyment here is a tune that probably hasn’t been heard by anyone, anywhere other than a hard-core 45 collector in more than 40 years.

Cowabunga, Moon-Doggies!

FYI, check the street-view of that map in the Saginaw link. That hedge of bushes? Straight outta Satan’s garden. I don’t know what that plant is called but it is the best natural deterrent to bad guys and revenuers entering a property next to a flaming moat filled with rabid T-Rexes. When I read Sleeping Beauty I easily imagined the impenetrable hedge that imprisoned her castle was somehow magically duplicated at my house. It is that evil. The hedge is dense, tough and sends out long roots that extend for several yards in all directions just under the surface of the earth, from which project upwards wicked, long and nearly unbreakable thorns that easily penetrate the thickest leather. Many people with both nasty intent and good intentions limped away from the property after failing to circumvent The Hedge. My own mother recalls running afoul of them on several occasions in her youth.

How To Read Tea Leaves

It is refreshing to see an Archie Comics feature even as old as this one actively discouraging superstitious belief and practices even though they go about it by insulting the reader in a self-aware “We’re So Stupid We’re Cool” sort of way. This short (probably drawn by Ernie Colon) predates the long period when the Archie cast was used as an arm of the similarly faux-magical Cult of Suffering propaganda division.

From Archie’s Mad House #10 (February 1961).

Futura – Chapter 22

Planet Comics #64 (Spring 1950) marks the finale to the Futura Saga. It took far longer to get there then I originally planned but the Planet Comics issues I was seeking are pretty rare and hard to get a hold of. Fortunately there are friends and other resources that allowed me to fill in the gaps in her story. This issue is one of those online copies floating around.

For those readers not patient enough to click through her entire tale, here is some back story:

Futura’s tale began in Planet Comics issue #43 in July of 1946. Secretary Marcia Reynolds is kidnapped from Earth and enslaved for medical experiments by the Brain-Men of Pan-Cosmos. She escapes, a bit too easily in fact, and steals a ship intending to head back to Earth. Unknown to Marcia Reynolds, now called Futura by her captors, her escape is being carefully monitored to measure her suitability for inclusion into the Pan-Cosmos genome.

Forced into situations that test her mettle, Futura evades her intended fate and gains allies, makes enemies and is a central witness to the fact that messiahs can be dangerous to your health. As her story continues, Futura becomes a wild card and her presence as a destabilizing threat to the status quo could not be tolerated by those in power. Fortunately for Futura the fragmented leaders of occupied space are corrupt, lazy and not used to rebellion from their cowed populace. Futura meets every challenge, fighting back ferociously and without hesitation.

For Futura does not just defeat an opponent, no. She utterly destroys an enemy by erasing their entire culture leaving them without a power base. What remains when she is done renders them in a state where they are no threat for the foreseeable future. While this tactic is not necessarily the action of a hero it certainly is that of a leader of nations. This Geo-political approach on a galactic scale is something that having recently emerged from a devastating World War the readers of the day could easily identify with.

So without further preamble here is the final climactic chapter to the Futura Saga.

Unlike many other of the Planet Comics serials Futura has a definite end to her tale, though some foreshadowing of trouble is evident. Reading the entire story of Futura I was not disappointed. While the series was sometimes the victim of the whims of scheduling, editors and creators and the series had some detours and false starts with the storytelling it was enjoyable and fantastic fun. Most serialized pulp tales, of which Futura is certainly descended from, have some element of empire-building in them and this tale was no exception. The average man, or in this case woman, is plucked from obscurity and thrust into “a world they never made” and by the end of the adventure they are Lords or Kings or Queens. Futura is cast in that mold.

Futura is different, however in that she did not simply storm the castle and sit upon the throne thereby declaring victory and an end to tyrannical rule. She leveled the playing fields of Pan-Cosmos and known space, leaving every culture she came into contact with vulnerable to being rebuilt from scratch by someone else with the strength or character and arm to do so. In this instance, Futura herself. Futura may not have intended to and she often acted for selfish reasons related to her immediate survival but the result was she destroyed a galaxy in order to save it. In her final adventure it is evident she rules Oceania and the stage is set for her to take over known occupied space.

So what does the future hold for Futura?

Fan interest in Golden Age comic books is steady and it is exposure on the internet that is most likely the reason. Forums and blogs are probably directly responsible for some collections of old stories being collected by various publishers, namely the Fletcher Hanks and Boody Rogers strips to name a few examples. These books were collected not only for fans but for those not familiar with graphic art that until recently has been lost and forgotten by even many hard core aficionados. It would be nice to see a hardbound collection of Futura but admittedly the sometimes wandering storyline could be somewhat difficult to present. Taken as a whole the Futura story does not present a particularly cohesive universe and a reader has to suspend their ideas of ‘continuity’ and mentally edit some entries. It could be understood that many modern fans would not appreciate the abrupt shifts in the cultural backgrounds of the Futura universe.

It is difficult to measure if there is enough of a fan base to support a revival of Futura. Often it is easier and makes better business sense for someone to create an entirely new character inspired by an old character than it is to revamp one, no matter how enthusiastic one may be for the project. Any new entries to the Futura story would have to be a personal endeavor at heart, a labor of love for the character like the one that appeared in the 1980s. One that some may not understand but hopefully can appreciate because that admiration was was shared.

So will we see Futura again? Only time will tell. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Coming Attractions

Monday! Final chapter of The Futura Saga. Get caught up with Everything Futura!

Tuesday! An Archie comic that actually discourages superstition? Tuesday must be backwards-upside down day!

Wednesday! Bozo the Clown, surfing and what it all means!

Thursday! Who knows?

Friday! Sleeping in!

Saturday! Can’t plan that far ahead!

Sunday! Probably something lazy from YouTube!

Plus, whatever else I find or get involved in worth scanning or taking a picture of. There’s that device in the original unopened packaging I found in the garage, or that satanic toy from the 60s. Who knows?

In anticipation of posting the final chapter of The Futura Saga, here in order are all the previous entries of the Planet Comics serial up to the penultimate chapter.

Futura – Chapter 1

Futura – Chapter 2

Futura – Chapter 3

Futura – Chapter 4

Futura – Chapter 5

Futura – Chapter 6

Futura – Chapter 7

Futura – Chapter 8

Futura – Chapter 9

Futura – Chapter 10

Futura – Chapter 11

Futura – Chapter 12

Futura – Chapter 13

Futura – Chapter 14

Futura – Chapter 15

Futura – Chapter 16

Futura – Chapter 17

Futura – Chapter 18

Futura – Chapter 19

Futura – Chapter 20

Futura – Chapter 21

Futura – Chapter 22

Original battlefield apocalypse image from Mike Grell’s The Warlord #3 (Oct-Nov 1976).