July 22, 2014

COMICS WEEK: SPYMAN

Spy Vibe Comics Week: SPYMAN. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection. Today we look at images from a three-issue series developed by Jim Steranko (S.H.I.E.L.D.)! Details below. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here


By the summer of 1966 Pop Art elements were finding their way into fashion, graphic design, film, and television. The Batman TV series was in full swing, and creators in various media hit a stride thinking outside the box and pushing Space Age technology and the Cold War climate to the forefront of Pop Culture. Before he began to work with Jack Kirby and influence Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Jim Steranko helped to create a number of books for the new thriller imprint at Harvey Comics. The most notable was Spyman. Steranko apparently wrote the first issue and drew the title page. His schematic of Spyman's techno-hand was then used on the covers and inside each of the three issues. Interior art was handled by George Tuska, Dick Ayers, and Reed Crandall. Writing duties of the remaining two issues seems to be a mystery, but it has been suggested that series editor and Captain America co-creator Joe Simon supplied the scripts. Story continues below.



Spyman centered around an agent named Johnny Chance. In the origin issue, he struggled to diffuse an atomic bomb, but lost his hand when the detonator exploded. Like a proto-Bionic Man, he was given a new mechanical hand filled with useful spy gadgets. It has been suggested by Dial B For Blog that the premise was inspired by the 1964 Outer Limits episode "Demon With a Glass Hand" starring Robert Culp (I Spy). What I enjoy most about looking at panels from Spyman is the wonderful use of classic conventions from mystery adventure, cliffhanger serials, and the Pulps. We get to feast on secret societies, diabolical masterminds with death-ray beams, traps, and daring escapes. I love any comic that includes a hooded baddie dispatching order with the line, "You know the penalty of failure." I always hear Blofeld's voice when I read that.






Cold War paranoia about mind control also crept in with a story about an ID machine. Like Prospero's dangerous instincts manifested as a monster, the ID machine threatened the lives and free will of our heroes. The tag line on the cover read, "Can the agents of liberty resist the machine that controls men's minds?" The era was gripped in a war of ideology, and stories like Invaders From Mars, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Spyman illustrated the creative ways writers and artists smuggled the political climate into their work. Despite the fact that Steranko did not draw these comics, the panels- especially in the The Psycho Known as Cyclops- contain examples of Steranko-like use of surreal imagery and bold colors.  






Cold War and Spy Boom influences were also included in the ad pages of Spyman. A brief look through the issues revealed ads for signed photos of David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), as well as ads for an "electronic computer brain" that included the atomic symbol for some reason. There was also a polaris nuclear submarine toy- because nothing says "fun" like nuclear war! This ad read, "How proud you will be as commander of own POLARIS SUB- the most powerful weapon in the world! What hours of imaginative play and fun as you and your friends dive, surface, maneuver, watch the enemy through your periscope, and fire your nuclear missiles and torpedoes!" There was also an espionage supplement story for younger readers called Eye Spy and His Gal Friday Jane Blond: Agent# 00 1/4, which echoed the paranoia that enemy spies were lurking off-shore in their deadly subs. Stay tuned for more Cold War thrills during Spy Vibe's Comics Week. Enjoy!





Recent Spy Vibe posts: Comics Week: Jimmy OlsenDiana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 21, 2014

COMICS WEEK: AGENT DOUBLE 5

Spy Vibe Comics Week: AGENT OLSEN. Spend the week in our secret lair as we share images and stories from the Spy Vibe collection. Today we look at an issue of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen that was inspired by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and James Bond! Details below. Spy Vibe's archive of vintage photos of people reading comics here


Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #89 hit the newsstands in October 1965, two months before Thunderball was released, and just six months before US viewers were introduced to The Avengers. Produced by DC Comics during the second season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the issue directly capitalized on the Spy Boom with the cover tag-line: "Even Superman cries U.N.C.L.E. when he sees how agent Double-5 Olsen swings with spies and their chicks in… Olsen's Super-Survival Kit!" The spotlight on spy gadgets probably hooked kids into handing over their twelve cents, but the story itself contains some popular spy conventions you might not expect from a Silver-Age Superman book. Our Agent Bensam has reported the issue was credited to Otto Binder, a writer who cut his teeth on Captain Marvel and other Golden-Age comics before joining DC (National Periodical Publications) in 1948. DC editor E. Nelson Bridwell also credits Binder with the early Bizarro tales! Story continues below.



The set-up for the story involves Jimmy and Lucy Lane's viewing of a movie called Agent .003 starring Sam Connolly. "I read the book!" Jimmy says. "Wait'll you see the clever tricks .003 uses against spies… When assassins ambush him, .003 uses his car's ejector seat to escape!" Goldfinger is not the only Bond reference; they also watch a scene with a trick briefcase inspired by From Russia With Love. The story takes off as Jimmy witnesses the assassination of man whose dying words are a plea for Superman to help a Professor Juarez in Andulia. Encouraged by the spy movie, Jimmy decides to tackle the "cloak and dagger" stuff himself.



Jimmy, now Agent Double-Five, introduces his various spy gadgets and takes off the following day for Andulia. The action picks up with a two-page sequence where he is met by a femme fatal named Carmenita, who tries to kill him by dropping him through a trapdoor in a monorail. His flashlight-parachute saves the day! But then the story take a dark turn. Carmenita checks for his corpse, and it is revealed she is after his Superman signal watch! Jimmy gets the drop on her, but not before she bites down on a coin. With her dying breath off-panel, Jimmy says, "Holy smoke! The odor of almonds… These false coins contain cyanide! The code of the spies forced her to take her life rather than reveal any secrets!" Jimmy then goes on the run, disguising himself with a trick comb that changes his hair color. The plot unfolds with the introduction of new characters, capture and narrow escape, more gadgets, more betrayal, the apparent suicide of a major character, and then the ultimate protection of Professor Juarez's new heart transplant technology. In a particularly Cold War moment at the end, Superman tells the baddie, "Your regime will collapse! With your secret police and spy apparatus gone, the people can establish a democratic government!" I picked up this copy of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #89 in fair condition for a few bucks, but it's a priceless time capsule that offers a window into the spy craze and political climate of the era. Stay tuned for more examples during Spy Vibe Comics Week.




Recent Spy Vibe posts: Diana Rigg at 76Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 20, 2014

DIANA RIGG AT 76

Happy Birthday to Diana Rigg. Born on this day in 1938, Rigg spent her early years in India. She returned to England at age eight and began her training at RADA in 1955. Her first big break on television was in a 1963 episode of Sentimental Agent. Broadcast two years prior to her debut as Mrs. Emma Peel on The Avengers, the young actress already displayed her trademark gravitas and irresistible intelligence and charm. Following her seasons on The Avengers (1965-1968), Rigg has appeared in numerous stage productions, films, and television shows, including her own series, Diana (1973-1974), and her famous role as a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). She has appeared most recently in Game of Thrones and Doctor Who, and has expressed an interest in returning to the Royal Shakespeare Company. At age  76, she shows no signs of slowing down. "I don't want to retire," she said. "I never want to retire. What's the point of it?" She published a book, No Turn Unstoned, in 1983, and her biography was published in 2004 by Kathleen Tracy. See Spy Vibe's post about Diana Rigg's Shakespeare productions here. Many Happy Returns! 


Recent Spy Vibe posts: Gerry Anderson Box SetGerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 19, 2014

RICHARD SALA: IN A GLASS GROTESQUELY

The new book by the maestro of macabre mystery, Richard Sala, will be released in November. In a Glass Grotesquely features the serialized exploits of Super Enigmatix, and channels Spy Vibe faves like Fantomas. I recently met with Richard Sala in our virtual secret lair to discuss great villains, James Bond, classic horror and illustration, Emma Peel, and the conventions of mystery adventure stories. Read our new exclusive interview here. Amazon pre-order page for In a Glass Grotesquely here. Book description below.


From Amazon: "A series of villain-themed interrelated short stories, told in vibrant watercolor art. This graphic novel is a selection of related short mysteries and thrills, all depicted in Sala’s trademark colorful watercolor washes and sharp, detailed line-work. Rising from the crumbling pages of some forgotten (and nonexistent) pulp magazine comes the diabolical villain Super Enigmatix. Following in the bloody footsteps of master criminals such as Fantomas, Fu Manchu, or Professor Moriarty, Super-Enigmatix is ruthless, cunning, and thoroughly evil. His only goal is to spread fear and cause chaos—but does he want to destroy civilization, or save it? Not even his loyal army of female commandos can guess his real motives, or his true identity. Will he fall at the hands of the unhinged music professor turned homicidal fiend who calls himself Phantasmiac? Or Quadrummando, the Undead Shaman?" Full color. 136 pages. Fantagraphics. Sample pages below.


Recent Spy Vibe posts: Gerry Anderson Box Set, Gerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

July 18, 2014

GERRY ANDERSON BOX SET

Following up yesterday's announcement about the new Gerry Anderson documentary, Network has just posted exciting news that they are releasing a limited-edition Supermarionation set. This is being hailed as the ultimate box set for aficionados of Gerry Anderson’s iconic Supermarionation series. Limited to just 2,500 copies, it includes the new documentary film and a selection of key episodes from the Supermarionation spectrum, all painstakingly restored for the first time from the original film elements. The multi-disc Blu-ray/DVD set includes 22 restored episodes of Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, and Secret Service. Special features in the box include an expanded slip-case edition of Stephen La Riviere’s book, as well as an exclusive one-off TV21 comic, and a wallet of postcards featuring newly created artwork based on the film’s graphics- all presented in a beautifully crafted box. The limited-edition TV21 comic will feature contributions from original 1960s illustrators Gerry Embleton and Martin Asbury, as well as a host of contemporary talent. I have not heard any news about a US/NTSC release. Pre-orders start on August 1st at Network.  


Recent Spy Vibe posts: Gerry Anderson DocMr. Hulot's Box SetRare Avengers ScriptsMan From Uncle UK ComicsMattel X-15Thunderbirds ComicsShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IBatman NewsMonty Python Fathom SpiesMonty Python Returns!Rodney Marshall Avengers InterviewAvengers Book: Bowler Hats & Kinky BootsGeorge Lois Design & Mad MenRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixThe SpotnicksModel Secret AgentsRemo Williams Blu-rayBunny Yeager and Ursula AndressDanger MouseLost Avengers EpisodesBig Fun ToysDanger Diabolik SoundtrackMother's Day (Avengers)Mod Fashion DollsCold War ArchieNew Avengers ComicIpcress File Blu-rayPlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese BooksThe 10th Victim German EditionUNCLE GunThe Saint books returnTrina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.
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