Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It Came From The Atomic Age Trading Cards

A retro style 18 card set in the style of Red Menace and Wild Man, featuring the best of the 1950's, from Roswell to the Red Scare.

The classic 1950's Topps / Bowman card set that never existed - but should have!

If you asked most people what images spring to mind when you mention the 1950's, they would probably say ElvisJames DeanHot RodsGreasers and SocsMarylin Monroe. Maybe even Bettie Page.
If you asked me, I would say fringe Orgone scientist Wilhelm Reich, Shaver Mystery founder Richard S. Shaver,  and Jet Propulsion Lab founder / alchemist / occultistJack Parsons. Even Dr. Fredric Wertham, who almost single handedly destroyed the comic book industry in the early 1950's. Since i'd be thinking of comics i'd then mention Blackhawk and EC Comics short lived hosts, The Vault Keeper, the Old Witch, and the Crypt Keeper. Or perhaps the frighteningly inaccurate psychic The Amazing Criswell and his PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE co-stars horror hostVampira, and wrestler Tor Johnson. I'd probably also have to say Indy filmmaker Ed Wood Jr.,Republic Pictures' rocketman Commando Cody and Columbia Serials'Superman played by Kirk Alyn. And of course, I couldn't leave out the Gray Aliens that crashed at Roswell in 1947 or the Detrimental Robots (Deros for short) from underground that Richard Shaver warned us about. Since i love vintage sports I'd have to say Washington Redskins Slingin' Sammy Baugh. And of course, last but not least,Joseph Stalin, who got the Cold War off to an icy start. By this time you, who asked me the question, would have wandered off dazed, having  stopped listening minutes previous, and I would be thinking about a new card set.
Originally I had an idea for a comic book, sort of a modern League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with Reich, Parsons, Shaver and stripper Blaze Starr solving UFO abductions (that's a future Kickstarter) At the same time I became interested in the early 1950's releases of some of the major gum card companies of the time, and thought it would be nice to create another alternative set of people that never made it onto gum cards in their era but should have.(Stalin and Sammy Baugh aside)
Prototypes / Mockups shown. Actual cards might vary slightly in color and detail.
Prototypes / Mockups shown. Actual cards might vary slightly in color and detail.
The style I chose for the the artwork for this set is based on some of the more colorful movie posters (mostly Italian)  and pulp covers (Hubert Rogers) of the time rather than what was mostly gouache on board illustrations for cards of this period. I debated color correcting the set to make it look older and faded, but decided to keep the fronts vibrant. Only the promo card is vintage style. I also tried color tinting black and artwork, like the Lone Ranger and Three Stooges sets from the 1950's, but those ended upreally looked horrible.
As with my other sets, cards will not be glossy or UV coated in keeping with the production methods of the era
Example of reverse design. Prototype/mockup shown, actual card may differ slightly in colour/detail.
Example of reverse design. Prototype/mockup shown, actual card may differ slightly in colour/detail.
Other company's sketch cards look they have been scrawled by a diseased wombat
Other company's sketch cards look they have been scrawled by a diseased wombat
Mockups of Atomic Age sketch cards based on my previous releases
Mockups of Atomic Age sketch cards based on my previous releases
Included with the base set, for all pledges $27 and over is a randomly inserted original hand-drawn sketch card of one of the 18 subjects in the set, and maybe even a few others!
Prints for this series will be printed on tan pulp-style paper and arranged into two sets. They really look old! I have given some of these away in the past and they were well received. This will be the only time these prints will be available, as I am not in the print business. Some of the prints have a much larger image area than the images on the cards, as they are un-cropped. Hang these stunning 8 1/2 by 11 inch prints in your home, office, den, bomb shelter, or abandoned nuclear missle silo with pride!
Availabe for tiers $35 and and $75 and over.
Availabe for tiers $35 and and $75 and over.
An array of rewards is offered for this project. Like my last project, prints will only be available through Kickstarter and will not be available for retail. So pledge now if you want them!

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

The artwork is 95 percent complete, aside from color, contrast, brightness correction, correcting eye and hair color, spelling corrections, and minor details of that nature. There is always some frustration and delays from dealing with a commercial printer, but once the funds are released, essentially all there is to do is click a few buttons to send printing orders off. I've been doing this sort of thing for over a decade now, and shipped to every continent except Antarctica. (For some reason they don't like my work there.


    Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Captain Marvel

    As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I discovered comic books in 1947 when my family moved to Wichita Falls, and my first heroes were Superman and Batman. I wasn’t aware of Whiz Comics until much later, but when I found Captain Marvel I had less interest in The Man of Steel.

    Captain Marvel first appeared in Whiz Comics #2, February 1940, from Fawcett Publications. Affectionately called The World’s Mightiest Mortal and The Big Red Cheese. But for me, his costume completely outclassed Superman from the very beginning.

    I really loved The Marvel Family: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr. When I had a choice of comics, it was The Marvel Family that I picked up.

    I wasn’t aware of the 1941 12-Chapter serial from Republic until after I had grown to adult hood. For some reason I never saw it at the Gem or Tower Theaters in Wichita Falls. But that isn’t surprising. There was just too much to offer for young boys back then, and maybe a double feature western was playing at the theater I chose on those Saturdays. But I did buy the serial and watched it about twenty years ago. Tim Tyler played The World’s Mightiest Mortal, and he didn’t turn into a cartoon image when he flew, like Superman in his two serials. But to be honest, it was the 1948 Superman serial that made me a serial fan, and I will always love that one.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

    Gail McAbee's Guest Post Boston Blackie

    Today, we are honored to have K.G. “Gail” McAbee on board to talk about one of her favorites, Boston Blackie. Gail is an award-winning author, and just happens to be my favorite writer of fiction. We’ve even coauthored a fast-paced action story in the pulp tradition of heroes. SHADOWHAWKE: First Flight is still available from the authors. She also writes Blog entries like this one on her own Blog Be sure and check it out. Now, without further ado, the lovely and talented, Gail McAbee! (Note: Boston Blackie can also be heard three times on Sunday at this url )

    Boston Blackie

    "Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend."

    This was the opening line for The Adventures of Boston Blackie, a TV series syndicated in 1951. Since I personally wasn't syndicated until late 1950, it seems strange to say that this was one of my earliest favorites on television, being still in diapers when it began, but it was. Luckily, there were 58 episodes and they were repeated throughout the 50s, so as I grew up and out of diapers, I got to know Boston Blackie well. I also got to know Superman, the Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger and Tonto and lots of guys with six-guns.

    But Boston Blackie was my first love, and we never forget our first. Here's a list of things I learned from him and which have influenced me throughout my misspent life full of pulp, comics, movies, science fiction, horror, fantasy and such like fun things:

    One: Men in thin mustaches are cool. Corollary: what happened to thin mustaches?
    Two: Reformed bad boys are the best kind of bad boys.
    Three: A good character name is worth its weight in rubies.
    Four: Dogs are everyone's best friends.
    Five: Solving crimes and punishing evildoers wasn't just for Doc Savage and crew.

    If your parents stuck you with a name like Horatio Black—my apologies to any Horatios out there—wouldn't you rather be known as Boston Blackie? Of course you would. Blackie was a jewel thief and safecracker in the original stories by Jack Boyle written in the early 1900s. By the time he got to movies and radio, Blackie was areformed safecracker and thief who often had to solve a crime to clear himself from suspicion. This state of affairs continued from silent movies, to the string of 14 talkies starring Chester Morris, to the brief radio series.

    The TV series, however, was a different matter. Blackie had deserted his former East Coast environs and moved to LA. He acquired an assistant and girlfriend named Mary Wesley, a seriously smart dog named Whitey, and a string of awesome convertibles. He also had a tenuous connection with the LAPD through Inspector Faraday. Kent Taylor starred as Blackie, with Lois Collier as Mary and Frank Orth as the perpetually irritated Faraday.

    A scene which perfectly captures Inspector Faraday's opinion of Blackie is early in Season 1, Episode 2, called "Cop Killer." Faraday is in his command center, sending out messages to his patrol cars about an emergency concerning a robbery, when Blackie and friends enter. Faraday say something like, "Hi, Mary. Hi, Whitey." Remember, now, Whitey is the dog. Then the inspector seems to finally notice Blackie—who is holding Whitey—and says, "Oh, it's you, Blackie."

    I love that!

    The beginning of every episode started, as many early TV series did, with an announcer shouting out the title and the aforementioned "Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend" as Blackie's shadow appears, looming on the wall of what looks like an alley. He walks forward, lighting a cigarette in the nonchalant fashion of the time, and saunters past a news stand…where the announcer is revealed in a ball cap, looking admiringly at Blackie as he ambles by. So cool! It can still bring a chill to my spine. I assume the need to shout out the promo—common to other of my favorite 50s TV shows such as Captain Video, Captain Midnight, Captain Z-Ro and more—was a holdover from radio days—which were still going strong, of course.

    Here's a link to an episode guide for Boston Blackie:
    And several episodes are available at Youtube.

    Go watch some now and return to those thrilling days of yesteryear…wait, wrong series. Sorry. Just go watch some Boston Blackie. I think I'll do the same….