Over at my home site, Hembeck.com, I have a sub-category on my catch all More page called “Stuff I Had NOTHING To Do With”, the general concept of which - if not the specific contents - should, I trust, be reasonably self-explanatory.
Of course, if I had nothing to do with the material contained therein, then I really don’t have any, um, RIGHT to post it, now do I? Not wanting to overstep any ethical bounds (at least, not by TOO much), I’ve tried to resist the urge to host online any but the most obscure strips, pages otherwise unlikely to ever again see the light of day.
Okay, admittedly, that description’s a bit extreme - and doesn’t quite cover some of my earlier selections - but friends, it sure does hit the nail square on the head concerning what I have to show you THIS time around!
Anybody out there besides me remember THIS?…
This 15 page story was unceremoniously chopped up into three parts and run in three consecutive early 1972 issues of the RBCC, numbers 85, 86, and 87. As I’ve mentioned here in the past, the main purpose of that once popular zine was the buying and selling of comics, and clearly, any editorial material contained within was likely included mostly to satisfy mailing regulations. The cavalier way this lost gem of a story was treated bespeaks its second class nature, at least in the context of RBCC’s primary mission (in fact, the story’s concluding panel dates the work as being completed in 1968, meaning it sat on the shelf for an agonizingly long period of time before FINALLY seeing publication!).
What exactly IS “The Massacre of the Innocents” you might well ask ? Well, for one thing, it’s one of an unheralded trio of stories that nonetheless perhaps had the greatest impact on my own personal approach to doing comics (I plan to post the other two in due time - in for a penny, in for a pound, I’m thinking…). Back during a time when the very notion of a legitimate Spider-Man/Superman teaming seemed less likely than man walking on the moon, this cleverly constructed tale intermingled characters from both Marvel and DC, all plopped down in a lovingly rendered, richly atmospheric Eisner-like setting. Someone’s killing all the super-heroes, y’see - and though all the names have been changed (to protect the innocent, we’re told - the author!…), the art styles are strikingly familiar…
Ditko, Kirby, Boring, Sprang - they’re just a few of the cartooning immortals whose iconic styles are paid loving homage in this stirring - and in the end, moving - tribute to the costumed crimefighters of The Silver (and Marvel) Age of Comics. As big a comics geek as I was at the time (and yes, remain), there was just no way a story like this WASN’T gonna get to me! And though it was labeled an amateur effort (by the late Bruce Hamilton, who was auctioning off the pages in an ad adjacent to the stories’ very last page, something I never actually noticed until now! Guess it’s a tad too late to get my mitts on a page or six, huh?…), this was obviously the work of someone destined for great things.
Yup, I don’t know who he is either.
Certainly, he didn’t go on to make his mark in the comics field. Happily, though, these days we have a little thing called Google, so once I typed in his name, I quickly discovered what had become of the talented gentleman who’d created “The Massacre of the Innocents” - he went into animation! (Unless, of course, there’s ANOTHER Brad Caslor that likes to draw funny pictures out there, but hey, what are the odds?…).
Fact is, there’s a swell little cartoon called Get A Job posted over at YouTube that was done by our Mr. C, and you animation buffs out there in readerland might want to go grab a peek at that as well! But before you do, take a few minutes - and this link - to zip on over to my site and read “The Massacre of the Innocents,” one of most memorable stories - and maybe the best “insider” tale of its kind ever attempted - I’ve had the privilege to read.
I love this story! I worship this story! I treasure this story! And now, I’ve just gone and completely WAY oversold this story! Pardon my passion, folks, but I’m telling you - you’ll probably enjoy this story, at least a LITTLE bit. Honest.
And if you somehow get wind of this, Mr. Caslor, I hope you’ll dig that I only want folks to share the thrill your delightful tribute afforded me, all those years ago. I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em, and I calls it a lost classic, case closed!
Believe me gang, when all is said and done, you’ll be just like THIS guy…
There won’t be a dry eye left in the house.
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-Copyright 2007 Fred Hembeck
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