Saturday, March 29, 2014


Albie's Note:  When I was a kid in the early '70s, there were basically 3 humor mags aimed at our pre-adolescent, rebellious funny-bones:  MAD, [of course] CRACKED, and CRAZY.   The last one was Marvel Comics' late-in-the-day shot at this market, and it always seemed to be our third and last choice for "late-night-flashlight" comedic reading.   Still, it had it's moments, and this satire on the classic drama THE WALTONS-- a huge, and I mean HUGE TV hit at the time--  is about as laugh-out-loud funny as anything I've ever read.   I actually love THE WALTONS, but this devastating parody really cracked me up!
"First, John-Boob, can you help me short-sheet the north 40?"


Sunday, March 23, 2014

RANGER AL'S WESTERN COMIX THEATRE #7: THE REBEL Johnny Yuma in "Black Eagle," 1960 [Fixed]

Albie's Note: I truly wish I had gotten to watch this show growing up.  The people who remember it always seem to do so fondly. The episodes I have managed to see on Youtube are pretty dang cool, and so are the 4 Dell Comics magazines published during the show's original run [1959-1961.]

With a hero often described as an "ex-confederate existential wanderer," THE REBEL starred Nick Adams [July 10, 1931 – February 7, 1968-- a sad drug casualty at only 36] as Johnny Yuma, a journal-keeping, sawed-off shotgun-toting, Civil War vet who, according to the classic Johnny Cash theme  song, "was panther-quick and leather tough/ 'cuz he figured that he'd been pushed enough!"  

[Somehow I can't see this premise being produced today.  Something very... er... "non-PC" about the whole thing, don't you think? Only makes me like it more , o'course!]

In this story, Johnny gets caught between a step-father's hatred and some vengeance seeking gun-thugs.  From Four Color #1138, 1961, here is "Black Eagle":

And how could we not hear that classic theme song to go along with the cool comic? 


Saturday, March 22, 2014

SATURDAY COMEDY SHOWCASE #4: Connie Stevens on SHA NA NA, 1979

Albie's Note:  OK true confession time. I really didn't fit into any "cool" groups back in high school, although I was never mistreated or bullied. [I was always a big guy, for one thing, and a natural comedian... I learned early that  those 2 things let you slip through a LOT of cracks socially!]

I just simply couldnt find my "place" among any of the established "cliques"-- like Pink Floyd-listening hippies-in-training, Disco fans or D-and-D players.  I loved comedy, and I loved music, but even then my taste was mainly for pre-seventies popular music, especially old country and early rock music.   The old records at home had spoiled me.  I guess today I would be called a "roots music" fan, but we had no such classification then. 

To give you an idea of how oddball I was, my favorite show in 1979-- hands down--  was one I would never have admitted watching to any of my fellow 9th graders:  SHA NA NA.  Shown each Sunday afternoon in southern AZ, basically it was a variety show with a bunch of greasy song-and-dance idiots doing a tribute to an overblown "1950s" that on many levels never existed in the first place.   It was goofy, corny, full of decades-old jokes and musical numbers... and I never missed it.

It wasn't even that I thought the show was GREAT... although I did find it entertaining.  And the guests were sometimes great:  I remember seeing Bo Diddley, Gary US Bonds, John Sebastian, Chcuk Berry, Dion DiMucci, The Ronnettes, Brenda Lee, and Del Shannon, just to name a few.   Still, though, the main appeal I think was that it all at least hinted at something.... something... at least different from the world I lived in!   There was this feeling... a greasy, goofy, well... cool-ness if you will... one that wasn't tragically cool... one that sort of managed to-- all at once-- lampoon and celebrate America and all its crassness.  In short, a more care-free, non-pretentious... well...  a more '80s kind of stance.

Now,  remember, this was the  1970s... a decade that for some reason took itself SOOO seriously... even in it's entertainment!  I mean... have you ever sat and watched the so-called  "defining" '70s movies?  Like LOVE STORY or FIVE EASY PIECES or ANNIE HALL??   Classics I suppose, but what do they really have in common? People just talking and whining and brooding like there's no tomorrow...

No wonder we all went nuts for STAR WARS!

Well... I hadn't seen SHA NA NA in years when I discovered all these clips on Youtube.  To most folks they would be goofy cultural artifacts at best. And they will be probably never be on DVD [one message board I found says the licensing headaches would be insurmountable, as the shows were about 60% performed music] and probably the only people who search these clips out are guys like me... pushing 50 and remembering the escape these simple shows once offered for stolen minutes of our disaffected adolescences. 

Still... watching this typical clip did one great thing for me... Doggoned if it didn't make me laugh!

"What would Connie be doin' in this neighborhood?"
"Maybe her brother's a wino!"

Grease for 


"Speak Gently; Sorrow may be Hereabouts."

A train was hurrying along one of the main lines of the Western States of America. In one of the cars sat a young woman nursing a little babe, whose restlessness greatly annoyed some of the passengers.

Amongst these was a portly-looking farmer, whose appearance betokened comfort and plenty. Looking up from his paper, evidently irritated by the child's continued cry, he said, “Can't you keep that child quiet?” His eye met the gaze of the young woman, and he then noticed that her dress told of recent death. She looked toward him, and through her tears said: “I cannot help it. The child is not mine. I am doing my best.” “Where is its mother?” the farmer inquired, relenting somewhat in his tone. “In her coffin, sir; in the luggage car at the back of the train,” said the young woman, in her deep grief.

The big tears fell unbidden from the farmer's eyes. Rising up from his seat before all the passengers, he took the babe in his arms, kissed it, and, walking to and fro, did his rough best to soothe the motherless child, and make some reparation for his cold hard words. How many words and looks of unkindness would be changed into actions of sympathy and help did we but know more of others' sorrow!

From  Terse Talk on Timely Topics,
By Henry Varley; London: James Nisbet & Co., 1884, pp. 22-23.




Albie's Note:  I love old DELL Comics and most everything about them, including those "Info-Pages" we skimmed past when we read comics the first time as kids.   Recently, while perusing the great COMICBOOKPLUS website, I came across some Info-pages from old issues of THE UNTOUCHABLES and MICHAEL SHAYNE, PRIVATE DETECTIVE, that were a little heavier than the usual "make-your-own-log cabin" kinda stuff! 

These were uh... the "hard-boiled" Info-Pages.  Informative they were, however...

Yikes!!  Remember... crime does NOT pay!


Albie's Note:  Although I was born in 1964 when it was already canceled, and never saw it once growing up, I have been curious for years about FRACTURED FLICKERS.  By all accounts this early example of what today would be called "digital dubbing" was a little-seen laugh riot from one of my true heroes Jay Ward [J Troplong Ward, September 20, 1920 – October 12, 1989] creator of Bullwinkle and George Of The Jungle.  Now the whole shebang is available on DVD, and yes it is HEE-lair-ee-ous!

Hosted by the great Hans Conreid [a familiar voice to any Bullwinkle or Dudley Do-Right fan] FLICKERS featured silent film footage overdubbed  with newly written comic dialogue and music. Here Harry Houdini's actual 1919 serial "The Master Mystery" is given the FLICKERS treatment, and the ensuing hilarity  takes us to a simpler, more unpretentious time in American humor. Enjoy.

Read the Wikipedia article on this great show HERE


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SONGS THAT TELL A STORY #8: "The Ballad Of Bonnie and Clyde" by GEORGIE FAME, 1967


Albie's Note:  One of the odder American Top Ten hits of the 1960s [a decade known for wonderfully odd fare to begin with--  just sayin'] was this classic "Early American Jazz"-style number from a young English keyboardist called Georgie Fame (born Clive Powell, 26 June 1943 and still swingin' today, I'm told.) 

Written-- no doubt-- to cash in on the brief Bonnie and Clyde craze going on at the time, the song is notable not just for a really unusual, downright coolness in it's jazzy musical approach [Fame may have been part of the so-called British Invasion, but his models and heroes were obviously more along the lines of Mose Allison and Hoagy Carmichael than the more usual hoarse old bluesmen!] but also for a real historical honesty in the lyrics!  It's a song about sociopaths, after all, and ol' Georgie, to his credit, doesn't romanticize these hoodlums one bit, which makes the song even more refreshing today than when I first heard it years ago on AM oldies radio as "a mere boy and a beardless youth."

In any case, here it is: a #1 hit in England, #7 in the USA...

Check it out!

The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie and Clyde
Were pretty lookin' people
But I can tell you people,
They were the devil's children!
Bonnie and Clyde
Began their evil doins'
One lazy afternoon
Down Savannah way
They robbed a store
And hightailed out of that town
Got clean away in a stolen car
And waited till the heat died down.

Bonnie and Clyde,
Advanced their reputation
And made their graduation
Into the banking business
"Reach for the sky!"
Sweet-talkin' Clyde would holler
As Bonnie loaded dollars
In the "Dewlap Bag."
Now one brave man,
He tried to take them alone
They left him lyin' in a pool of blood
And laughed about it all the way home.


Bonnie and Clyde got to be public enemy number one
Runnin' and hidin' from every American lawman's gun

They used to laugh about dyin'
But deep inside them they knew
That pretty soon they'd be lyin'
Beneath the ground together
Pushin' up daisies to welcome the sun and the morning dew.

Actin' upon
Reliable information
A Federal deputation
Laid a deadly ambush
When Bonnie and Clyde

Came walkin' in the sunshine
A half a dozen carbines

Opened up on them

(firearm noises)

Bonnie and Clyde,
They lived a lot together

And finally together
They... died.

"Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."
--Psalm 34:14

Saturday, March 8, 2014



Albie's Note: I immediately thought of posting this old comic when I read my on-line pal Oscar's BLOG about western writer Luke Short [actually Fred Glidden  November 19, 1908 – August 18, 1975] This one is a real treat if you have certain interests.... I mean, here we have an adaptation of a pulp story by Short and  fine early comic art from John Buscema [1927-2002] all packaged together by the most successful publishing house in comics history: Mighty DELL!

The original story is one I have never been able to find called "Test Pit."  Apparently it was printed originally in the pulp Western Story Magazine back in 1938.  I am a big fan of Short's fiction so I would love to read the novella behind this comic classic, but so far I have never found it collected anywhere. I would to read Short'ss pulp version and compare the two... but just having this one is great enough! I think you'll agree with me it's a great story, and one that would have made a fine movie in the right hands.

Interestingly, DELL actually printed dozens of these comic one-shots from the fiction of western writers like Short, Zane Grey,  Max Brand and  Ernest Haycox.  They are worth looking around for, and the REALLY cool thing is that you can often find these comics dirt cheap even today! 

[I have read that DELL basically kept doing these westerns in the "four color" line because they concurrently held the rights to the paperbacks of the same titles... the idea was to get rural and hinterlands kids started on these sagebrush authors early. I bet it worked well... Heck, like I say, I have been trying to find TEST PIT for years because of the comic treatment!]

In any case here is TOP GUN from 1958... enjoy:





Fred Glidden

John Bucsema