M.V. Carey Was Kind to Me When I Was Young

M. V. Carey was kind to me when I was a boy

(this was written in 2008 for an old blog, but I wanted to preserve it here)

Cleaning up the basement, I just stumbled across a letter written to me many, many years ago by author M.V. (Mary) Carey.

As a kid, I was a fanatical fan of several series (the continuity of series books always greatly appealed to me): Notably Lloyd Alexander’s High King (or Black Cauldron) series, Hugh Lofting’s Dr. Doolittle books, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and Willard Price’s “Adventure” series. While I could never get into the Hardy Boys, I was a monster fan of the Three Investigators books, created in 1964 by Robert Arthur, but primarily written during my childhood by Carey.

When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my class was given the assignment of writing a letter to our favorite authors. Most kids wrote to Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, but I wrote a heartfelt letter to Carey, explaining that I loved to write and draw, and that I one day hoped to write and draw comic books and maybe even write real books.

Virtually every kid in the class received very nice form letters from the authors they chose, but I received a lovely typed response directly from Ms. Carey, with specific advice on the craft of writing, and inquiries as to my hobbies and about the town in which I lived. Over the course of a couple of years, we exchanged three or four more letters, and each time she wrote to me without condescension, in a leisurely manner, sharing her impressions of the places I lived based on their names (we moved from Iowa to Texas during this period), and wishing me success with the detective agency I started with my friend Troy Petrick (C.L.O.Y. Investigations).

Over the years I’d occasionally stumble across one of Carey’s letters, and each time I’d make sure I tucked the letters away in some corner for preservation. Finding this letter tonight spurred me to search for information on her life after she stopped writing the Three Investigators books (her last book was published in 1987), and I found what I was looking for:

1925 – 1994

Personal: Born May 19, 1925, in New Brighton, England; brought to the United States in 1925, naturalized citizen in 1955; daughter of John Cornelius (an engineer) and Mary Alice (Hughes) Carey. Home address in 1993 was 3748 Birch St., Ventura, CA.

The entire entry can be found here: http://www.threeinvestigatorsbooks.com/MVCarey.html

Along with much biographical information, the entry includes this lovely quotation from Carey:

“Young people ask why I became a writer, as if it were something I decided. I didn’t decide; it grew on me like ivy. When I was a child I liked to read to my friends, or to tell them stories. When I grew up I had several false starts before I found a job on a magazine and discovered that people who read and write are more fun than people who don’t. I first wrote for profit at the Disney Studio. I worked on the Mickey Mouse Club magazine there. Suddenly I felt that I was ten again, sitting on the front porch telling stories to the other kids. Now that I am a free-lance writer, the sensation of reliving younger days is even stronger. I remember how it was when my brothers and I were small. We had no money because of that thing called a depression, but we had freedom. If there were wicked people on Long Island in the 1930’s – people who might harm kids – we did not know of it. On summer mornings my mother could open the door and send us out to wander through the neighborhood and she did not worry. So long as we came back in time for lunch – and relatively clean and undamaged – everything was fine. We explored all empty houses, and all empty houses were considered haunted. We went out on the sound in a tiny boat which my second brother had salvaged from the beach after a storm. We had clubs with secret passwords. We watched the older people of the community come and go and I think we knew quite a bit about what they were up to – probably including things we were not supposed to know.”

“And we read. We read everything we were supposed to read, and much that we weren’t supposed to know about. We fished pulp magazines out of the neighbor’s trash and learned all about Dr. Fu Manchu and Tarzan of the Apes and other super heroes. We also plowed through Dickens and Jules Verne and the Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s and everything the librarian would let us carry home from the library. Today all of the reading and the roaming stands me in good stead. So does my habit of being not especially practical or brisk. People ask if I work for a certain number of hours each day. I admire people who do, but I must admit that I don’t. Some days it seems more important to wander and watch, or to read. There is only one brisk rule that I do observe; if I plan to write today, I do not leave the house until I’ve written. I know that once I go out, I will stay out until dark, and then I will come trailing home, tired and probably hungry. I will have lost the day.”

It’s now been over ten years since Ms. Carey passed away, and I regret not being able to thank her for her kindness, and for the small part she played in shaping my own life.


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Zoop has recently completed their campaign for the special edition hardcover of THE WHISTLING SKULL, originally published 2012-2013 by DC Comics. Very grateful to those guys for doing every bit of heavy lifting while Tony Harris and I basically just cleaned up and tweaked some files.

Below is a little introduction to the Skull Universe (the Skullverse!) from its original run with DC Comics, with some insight into our world:

The Whistling Skull is a generational hero. The mantle of the Skull is passed down from one adventurer to the next. The current Whistling Skull, William Massey, possesses the ability to draw mentally upon the experiences of his predecessors, allowing him to learn from their history as he navigates his legacy.

One of the memories William accesses is of his predecessor battling alongside an early twentieth century group of combat rogues called the Broken Hearts Club.

The Skull and his partner, Nigel Singleton (Knuckles), have been friends since childhood. They travel Europe in a medical waste van that houses an extraordinary mobile laboratory.

The previous Whistling Skull, John Singleton, seems to have vanished somewhere in Japan. His fate remains unknown…

Agent Nash, an associate of the Whistling Skull’s support network, the Skeleton, was dispatched to Japan to find the missing Skull’s body.

Back in London, the lineage of the Whistling Skull is tended to by the law firm of Teagle & Sons. Michael Keene is a mysterious associate of both Teagle & Sons and of the loose international crime fighting collective, the Wheel of Justice.

At the “hub” of the Wheel of Justice is a group of mystery men called “The Company” (which is short for the name established at their founding during World War I, the Costumed Seekers of Adventure in Good Company). Two prominent members of the Company are Simon Daye and Dexter Fields, otherwise known as Dayknight and the Night Surgeon.

The man tasked with assuring the Whistling Skull is operating at the peak of his physical and mental abilities is the very weird and very strange Doctor Archibald Moon.

Another associate of the Skull’s, and longstanding member of the Skeleton Network, is Johannes. Like so many other members of the Skeleton Network, Johannes possesses a freakish affliction. In his case, an encounter with an unnatural gas-based weapon during the first World War has left him partially invisible.

(these unusual members of the Skeleton are researched and recruited by a department of Teagle & Sons called the Skeleton Key)

One weapon of the Whistling Skull’s is the Wormwatch. Before using it, he must have it rewound by its creator, the dimensional hermit, Fagan. Fagan only appears in this plane of reality at particular times, and his workshop is found inside London’s Big Ben clock tower.

The Orphans are a particularly savage group of adolescent boys who’ve been left homeless due to the war. They operate in the European war zone, rejecting much adult supervision. They are still considered a part of the larger Wheel of Justice.

The first adventure of the new Skull and his partner, Knuckles, involves dealing with unhinged renegade Nazi scientist Dr. Hellman and a disturbing group of seemingly augmented freaks (Der Karneval).

Tony Harris’s newly painted cover for the hardcover.


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Joan Didion on John Wayne

In our rush to re-calibrate the misdeeds and flawed personas of popular public figures from the past, I think we often lose sight of the reasons these people achieved the status they enjoyed, and of the deeper impressions they left on the world at large. Before the internet and 24/7 mass media, it was easier to love a public figure for the things they projected, without having to deal with the realities of their darker moments or the truth of their demeanor when the cameras weren’t running. There’s a reason an older generation struggles with efforts to tear down the icons of their past. These icons informed their lives, and in many cases helped shape their character in positive directions. Whether the positive influences outweigh the hidden negative realities is a debate for someone else to have.

John Wayne has certainly been posthumously dragged for his arch Conservative nature and his views on race and gender. But for generations of Americas, John Wayne was a towering, compelling figure, for reasons that, I think, begin to drift away from the public consciousness as he is casually dismissed by younger generations. One of the hard truths I try to keep in mind is that perception is reality. And, so, the perceptions of those who exist generations apart are always going to inform the clashing senses of reality, which will have been well established long, long ago for some.

With all of that in mind, I recently stumbled across a quote from the great American writer Joan Didion, who passed away recently. Didion is one of those women I imagine I would have been staggered by had I existed within her circle. Beautiful, fierce, brilliant, unapologetic, versatile, awkward, tragic. She often used her writing to sort through the events, some tragic, of her life, and was always clearly working toward a better understanding of who she was and why.

Of John Wayne, Didion wrote:

We went three and four afternoons a week, sat on folding chairs in the darkened hut which served as a theatre, and it was there, that summer of 1943 while the hot wind blew outside, that I first saw John Wayne. Saw the walk, heard the voice. Heard him tell the girl in a picture called War of the Wildcats that he would build her a house, ‘at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow’.

As it happened, I didn’t grow up to be the kind of woman who is the heroine in a Western, and although the men I have known have had many virtues and have taken me to live in many places I have come to love, they have never been John Wayne, and they have never taken me to the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow. Deep in that part of my heart where artificial rain forever falls, that is still the line I want to hear.

from John Wayne, a Love Song (1968)

Beyond her lovely writing voice, I think this quotation says so much about so many things, and while it isn’t really explicitly about John Wayne, it explains how the perception of a figure like John Wayne could bury itself in someone’s heart and establish an ideal that may never be met, but never fully escapes. You can argue against clinging to idealism, but I believe the human experience is enriched by embracing the search for things that exist just beyond our reach.

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Tubi discoveries: The Monkees’ Weird Good Time Hour

Mike considers Micky’s despair

One of the more overlooked streaming services is Tubi, which features a ridiculous amount of free content. I was browsing their selection of old television shows last week, and discovered The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour there. This was a variety show hosted by the then massively popular (and always massively talented) Campbell, which ran on CBS from early 1969 through the summer of 1972.

Good times promised, for at least an hour (minus commercial breaks)

The first thing I stumbled across while investigating was an episode from February of 1969, featuring one of the stranger Monkees appearances I’ve seen. Peter Tork had left the band in 1968, so the spot featured the remaining members of the “prefab four:” Micky Dolenz on drums, Mike Nesmith on guitar, and Davy Jones, also (surprisingly) on guitar (as opposed to his normal tambourine workout). This trio recorded two albums without Tork before the band called it quits (for a while anyway), and this appearance would have been in support of the first of those, Instant Replay, which was released the month of this appearance, and reached #32 in the charts, and the lead single, “Tear Drop City,” which hit #56, and would be their last single to chart inside the top 60 until 1986.

After an introduction from Campbell (in which he awkwardly refers to the band as “one of the hottest groups and most professional groups to ever hit show business”), the clip begins with a super brief (as in under two minutes) medley of Monkees tunes. They begin with a snippet of “Last Train to Clarksville,” segue into a bit of “I’m a Believer,” sidestep briefly into Nesmith’s “Salesman,” and then wrap up with a “Clarksville” reprise. At about one minute, thirty seconds, it’s not only disjointed, but seemingly pointless. Still, the producers did add the requisite psychedelic gloss to the proceedings:

From there, Campbell invites the group over to engage in one of the weirdest segments I’ve ever seen. The band clowns around in front of a green scene, singing lamely written odes to Twentieth Century history (“I’ve Got a Brand New Stanley Steamer,” “The Rage Dance Craze,” etc.), the gag being that the band had been around since the turn of the century, and … whatever. The fellas have a hard time hiding their lack of commitment to the bit, and Micky’s energy level is best described as “amphetamine-fueled.” The performance is aided and abetted by some professional dancers and bad graphics.

After that painful bit, the band gets to do what they presumably signed up to do, which is badly lip sync their latest single, “Tear Drop City.” Not a hit, but not a bad tune.

The clip below starts with that segment and rolls through the rest of the episode, which does include a couple other brief moments of Monkee comedy (such as it was by 1969):

Here’s the isolated performance of “Tear Drop City:”

It’s a minor bit of pop culture ephemera, but it is kind of interesting in the context of the group’s history. The band had torched any lingering teen idol residue with the Jack Nicholson/Bob Rafelson-penned film Head (now regarded as something of a minor classic artifact of the era) and subsequent album (also regarded as something of a neglected classic now), and the three remaining members were determined to forge their own path, controlling their own artistic destiny. It’s sort of remarkable they were ever able to wrangle that opportunity, considering the fact that they were literally assembled as actors playing a role. It’s also remarkable that the band did produce some fine music once given that opportunity, even if the public had stopped paying attention.

“Boys, let me set up a lame joke and get the hell out of here.”

But I think this appearance, kicking off with a mico-medley of two hits and a non-hit, moving into a nonsensical overlong clowning session, and culminating with a chance to promote a new single very few people would care about, and one you’d assume their label had little interest in promoting, demonstrates how steep the hill was they had to climb to regain anyone’s attention. No shock that they floundered around for a little over a year, ending their first and most successful phase with a Dolenz/Jones only “Monkees” album that once again turned most of the songwriting and production over to outside producers and writers.

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Cocaine and Colitas: Hotel California Reconsidered

Hotel California poster insert: Walsh, Felder, Frey, Meisner, Henley. Photograph by Norman Seef.

Hotel California, by the Eagles. 1976

The Eagles’ classic is ubiquitous, but it is it essential?

The Eagles (or, more specifically, Don Henley and Glenn Frey) were often viewed as cocaine-fueled El Lay misogynists. I think the cocaine-fueled and El Lay are indisputable, but is the misogynist tag a little unfair? Could be.

I’ve always been fascinated by Hotel California, the Eagles’ bazillion selling magnum opus, and how it plays with that perception in mind.

Hotel California is the Eagles stretching their powers as far as the rubber band will allow before it snaps or loses its shape forever, leaving them nowhere else to head but down. No surprise that their only subsequent release as an active band was the lackluster The Long Run, a collection of half-assed disco shuffles and by-the-numbers rockers. (Aside from barely an Eagle Timothy B. Schmidt’s heartfelt soft rock gem “I Can’t Tell You Why,” and barely upright Eagle Joe Walsh’s catchy as hell guitar rocker “In the City,” which also closed Walter Hill’s late 70s schlock classic The Warriors.)

For what it’s worth, the stretched rubber band theory is one I apply to most great rock acts who spend any time working under the Album as Art theory of record making (acknowledging that there have been many, many Not Great bands operating under this theory). The Beatles wisely realized they’d reached that point with Abbey Road, and packed it in before the slope slipped. The Stones began that climb with Beggar’s Banquet, and went from strength to strength until they reached their apex by plunging back down through the depths with Exile on Main St. The Kinks bucked the trend to some degree by releasing one pretty brilliant and one almost pretty brilliant album after their ultimate statement of intent, The Village Green Preservation Society. The Who … well, the Who never really got there. They fooled the world into believing Tommy was their Everest flag-planting, but the truth is Quadrophenia was a better album. All of which obscures the fact that the Who’s greatest album is Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, a perfect collection of classic singles, few of which managed to tickle the U.S. charts.

And then there are the Loves (Forever Changes) and Zombies (Odessey & Oracle), who strayed outside their comfort zones long enough to produce single discs that stand up to the greatest of the Greatest, despite neither band ever really being truly among the Greatest. (And, yes, both bands were otherwise very, very good at times.)

Whew. I digress.

Let’s start with this: Is Hotel California a great album?

I’d like to say it is, but it might not even be the Eagles’ best album. I think, assuming assessing a “best” of anything Eagles-related doesn’t make your stomach clench, an argument could be made for One of These Nights (the album that immediately preceded this one — which easily wins the battle of cover art, anyway). But Hotel California is the most Eagles of Eagles albums, and stands as the best summation of their moment in the sun. And, it marks that moment when tuneful music produced by strong personalities could dominate the American pop culture landscape like no other medium.

In hindsight, Hotel California, riding shotgun with Fleetwood Mac’s equally mammoth Rumours, stands as a signpost in a pivotal moment in pop culture’s de-evolution from artist-controlled playground to complete corporate takeover. The suits always knew there was money in the music, but, holy shit, this much money?

Hotel California is an arrogant, confident, pretentious, calculated work of fiction, and you can hum along to it. It’s dominated by Don Henley, but it’s the input of the other band members that prevents it from completely collapsing under its own weight.

So, in review, let’s start with the title track, which can almost definitely be tuned in somewhere on your terrestrial radio dial at this very moment.

“Hotel California” started as a killer guitar riff by lead guitarist Don Felder. (Fittingly, Felder, who primarily kept his head down and played the shit out of his guitar throughout the Eagles’ history, eventually became estranged from the band.) Once Don Henley grafted his lyrics to the music, the song became the ultimate distillation of the Eagles’ Desert Cocaine Tableau. Most of the group’s biggest hits were pretty direct, lyrically. A woman either pissed them off, or a woman was invited to lay down in the desert with them. Or sometimes the women were left behind while the band wrote their own desperado inspired mythology. But the fragmented imagery in “Hotel California” could only really make sense if the listener has a straw permanently lodged up his nose. The Witchy Woman of the past becomes the hostess of a demonic hostel where pink champagne replaces wine and pretty boys dance endlessly in sweat drenched courtyards. It seems as if the Hotel California is a place to run to and to run from, and we’re pretty sure Henley is only lamenting the “mirrors on ceiling” because all of his coke is now going to wind up on the floor.

With all of that said, the interplay between the guitars is deathless, and even vague descriptions of driving through the desert at night are enough to conjure up personal imagery for anyone confused as to what “colitas” is (are?). (The fact that the Eagles played an acoustic version of this live is either proof that they’re assholes, or that, like Eric Clapton’s tedious acoustic return to “Layla,” they just don’t quite understand the reasons for their own success — Felder trumps Henley here, and that’s that.)

With that out of the way, we catch our breath and listen to the gang take it down a notch (with the help of JD Souther — the Eagles were never lacking for talented SoCal co-conspirators, starting at the beginning with Jackson Browne) with “New Kid in Town,” which, damn it, is pretty unassailable, musically. It’s got hooks for days, lush production that never swamps the tune, and a sincere, understated vocal performance from Glenn Frey, backed by great group harmonies. What? The lyrics? Well, okay. The woman is doing him wrong (in the third person, for some reason — maybe it’s not manly to admit you’re the one being cuckolded?), and she’s not living up to her end of the bargain, and…

Okay, you get the point. It’s a Henley/Frey lyric.

“Life in the Fast Lane” (it’s interesting to note the band led the album off with Hotel California’s only three single releases — all smash hits, of course) kicks in next, and we’re reminded overtly of the cocaine. It’s a great radio rocker — guitar licks weaving in and out, featuring maybe the slickest production on the album, and Henley doesn’t spare the dude in the equation this time, letting us know that both parties are feeding each other’s sinful excesses (sex and drugs). It’s a tale as old as Los Angeles, and the spoken “are you with me so far” dropped in by Henley manages to insult the listener almost by accident. (Yeah, we’re with you, Don! Sex and drugs go hand-in-hand with rock and roll, brother! Revelation!)

And then we roll into “Wasted Time,” in which Henley (boy, so far, this is really a Don disc more than a Glenn disc) strains to let the poor dumb broad who left him know that she’s done nothing but fuck up her love life by fucking the wrong dudes, and, most importantly, by leaving Henley. It’s definitely this type of sentiment that allows critics to glue the MYSOGYNY label on our heroes. It never occurs to Don that this girl might have made the right choice in leaving a dude who not only plods through an orchestrated piano ballad about the terrible decisions she’s made, but backs it up with an orchestral reprise to hammer the point home. (The reprise actually originally opened side two, just to make sure you couldn’t escape the sentiment by flipping over the album — the fucking Eagles led off side two of their biggest album with an orchestral reprise. Admire their balls.)

The sequencing of Hotel California comes across as pretty messy in the era of the compact disc/digital album, with the “Wasted Time(s)” dropped right smack into the middle of things, and “Life in the Fast Lane” book-ending the song(s) with the next track up …

And it’s another Henley rocker (what demons was Frey battling in 1976 that allowed him to take such a backseat to his his white ‘fro-sporting partner?), “Victim of Love.” It’s a catchy kicker about … some poor dumb broad. I hate to harp on the cocaine (obviously not true), but how much of it was Stevie Nicks doing to think Henley was a fun dude to party with? Anyway, this one is another radio staple, despite never being released as a single. Truthfully, all the album really needed was “Life in the Fast Lane” to remind us the boys could rock a little. But here they slowed it down a notch in case you had trouble keeping up with them the first time.

And then, out of nowhere, we’re dropped into Joe Walsh’s melancholy reflection on life, “Pretty Maids All in a Row.” I can’t say exactly what the Eagles were thinking when they pulled Walsh into the band (”Hey — this dude makes us look sober!”), but I’d be hard-pressed to believe they anticipated his first recorded contribution would be such a beautiful, naked sentiment, punctuated not with his trademark guitar rips, but by piano and synthesizer. It’s a jarring shift in tone, helping the album achieve an eclectic vibe it was struggling to achieve with Henley dominating the proceedings, and all the more powerful for it.

Anyway, great track. And it’s followed by another great track.

Backing up “Pretty Maids” is, for my money, the best track on the album, and one of the most overlooked songs in the band’s catalog. No coincidence it’s a Randy Meisner song. “Try and Love Again” is a soaring, hopeful rocker, punctuated by Meisner’s upper register, and some truly uplifting guitar soloing. It’s a mystery why this track wasn’t released as a single, unless Henley and Frey were still annoyed that Meisner’s “Take It to the Limit” was the band’s first number one single. But it’s the one track from the album I find myself revisiting most often, without apology. It’s also worth noting that while Meisner’s lyric is treading on self-pity, he’s not blaming a chick for his problems.

At this point we’ve wound our way through a collection of hit singles, timeless riffs, and a couple of contributions from lesser used band members that stand up to the hits. It’s hard to say there’s a definite theme at play here, although California and Los Angeles are definite players on the scene. So it’s up to Henley, again, to hammer things home with the most pretentious track in the Eagles’ entire catalog.

“The Last Resort” answers the question, “What if Randy Newman didn’t have a sense of humor?” A confused history of California (and over seven minutes long, to punctuate its importance as a statement), complete with references to the “Red Man” and Malibu and all of those bright lights that sullied the landscape, presented by a group that pretty actively moved closer and closer to the neon the further their hitmaking prowess ascended. The song starts as a literal travelogue about a girl from Providence (“The one in Rhode Island”), and then slips into a reminder that California has really succeeded at excess, which is evidently a bad thing.

In the end, it’s all the preacher’s fault, anyway. One suspects that Henley (and Frey?) realized he wasn’t really headed toward any logical conclusions with this one, and the lesson we’re left with is that the missionaries traded the Red Man’s peace of mind and started us on the path toward…well…all of that cocaine and colitas, I guess. (It is a pretty tune, though.)

And that’s it. Nine songs (split into ten tracks), three hit singles, and 38 million copies sold.

Is Hotel California essential? In terms of understanding the “evolution” of pop culture, it’s an essential landing point for those curious how Los Angeles went from acoustic canyon-dwelling hippie haven to the paranoid personal driveway for limos filled with coke-addled celebrities wearing sunglasses at midnight because the lights fuck with what’s left of their peripheral vision.

But in the battle of juggernaut Los Angeles pop albums, Rumours creams Hotel California because Fleetwood Mac can be heard shutting out the world and wrestling with their relationships while coincidentally at the peak of their songwriting and performing abilities, whereas the Eagles were trying to make statements without much to state. Rumours is essential. Hotel California sounds good when you’re not paying attention too closely.

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Summer Soundtrack

Sharing my soundtrack as spring slid into what looks to be a long summer. Vintage soul, African grooves, a slash of disco and a drop of reggae:

This playlist:

  1. If You Want Me to Stay by Sly & The Family Stone
  2. Tired of Being Alone by Al Green
  3. When You Were Mine by Prince
  4. Strawberry Letter 23 by Shuggie Otis
  5. Can You Get to This by Funkadelic
  6. Didn’t I by Darando
  7. Come On Home by Lijadu SIsters
  8. Les Fleurs by Minnie Ripperton
  9. It’s Not Easy by Ofege
  10. You’ve Got a Woman by Lion
  11. You Can Have It All by George McCrae
  12. Jezahel by Shirley Bassey
  13. The Time for Peace is Now by Fantastic Shadows
  14. Like a Ship by Pastor T.L. Barrett and the Youth for Christ Choir
  15. Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield
  16. House of the Rising Sun by Idris Muhammad
  17. Take Yo’ Praise by Camille Yarbrough
  18. Gentle Persuasion by Doug Hream Blunt
  19. Aretha, Sing One for Me by George Jackson
  20. Where Did We Go Wrong by The O’Jays
  21. She’s Gone by Bob Marley & The Wailers
  22. Never Can Say Goodbye by Isaac Hayes
  23. Lay Lady Lay by The Isley Brothers
  24. Everybody Was Rockin’ by Betty Wright
  25. I Like What You Give by Nolan Porter
  26. Nantucket Island by Willie Wright
  27. Keep It Comin’ Love KC & The Sunshine Band
  28. What Is Hip? by Tower of Power
  29. I Dig You by Demis Roussos
  30. There’s One Thing That Beats Falling by Bobby Womack
  31. Trouble, Heartaches and Sadness by Ann Peebles
  32. Summer Breeze by The Main Ingredient
  33. Here Today and Gone Tomorrow by Ohio Players

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After years of working to get it out the door, the graphic novel ENDLESS SUMMER: DEAD MAN’S CURVE has been solicited to appear in shops in June. It’s actually available for preorder just about anywhere you can order books. So have at it!

Written by me, all art, color and letters by Shane White:

On the 1960’s California coast, rogue FBI agent Scott Ivory is determined to root out any threats of potential espionage and recruits a group of young misfits to further his covert government agenda.

Former FBI agent Scott Ivory gathers a group of young kids to counter communist and criminal activities on the streets of the California coast. With a modest budget and a loose agenda, his simple counterintelligence program quickly becomes an outlet for Ivory to use for his own designs, and the kids become pawns in a game of tug-of-war between government agents.

A dark spin on early sixties pop culture, Endless Summer, Vol. 1: Dead Man’s Curve is based on 1960’s Huntington Beach, California–a thrilling sunshine-noir graphic novel rampant with drugs, murder, and government espionage.

On the 1960’s California coast, rogue FBI agent Scott Ivory is determined to root out any threats of potential espionage and recruits a group of young misfits to further his covert government agenda.

Former FBI agent Scott Ivory gathers a group of young kids to counter communist and criminal activities on the streets of the California coast. With a modest budget and a loose agenda, his simple counterintelligence program quickly becomes an outlet for Ivory to use for his own designs, and the kids become pawns in a game of tug-of-war between government agents.

A dark spin on early sixties pop culture, Endless Summer, Vol. 1: Dead Man’s Curve is based on 1960’s Huntington Beach, California—a thrilling sunshine-noir graphic novel rampant with drugs, murder, and government espionage.


Insight Comics

Page from ES:DMC.

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MILES TO GO #4 – April 7th

Due to an unexpected death in the family, MILES TO GO #4 was delayed a bit, but will be on stands April 7th.

These things are hard to avoid, as the physical work that goes into creating the book is handled by a small number of people. I write the book, Stephen Molnar does the very heavy lifting and pencils, inks, and, with assistance from Nova Lee-Fortier, colors the book. Following the departure of Thomas Mauer, the book is lettered by Dave Sharpe. Gracious editorial support is provided by Mike Marts, along with Christina Harrington.

Here are the cover and a few preview pages from the issue:

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MILES TO GO #1 is out…

…and receiving fantastic reviews! Very gratifying to see so much positive response. Issue one dropped on 9/24. Issue two out in late October.

“This is one of those books where you get to the end of it and realize what a great read it was, that you want more, and that a re-read is necessary right now. ” – The Fandom Post

“‘Miles to Go’ rises above the usual tropes and delivers a suspenseful, smart, and sincere crime story full of pitch perfect characters.” – Multiversity

“Masterful, clean, and attention grabbing. Miles To Go #1 seems like the perfect thriller to usher in the Fall, and I encourage any fan of Crime (with that big ol C) stories to pick this series up before it takes off.” – Comics Bookcase

“Where it all goes after this debut, I seriously have no idea. But, it has me excited and intrigued to find out. That’s the measure of a successful comic, do I want to come back for more? Miles to Go #1 nails that down and then some.” – Graphic Policy

“Once again we see why Aftershock is a go-to publishing house. The writing here is spectacular and the interiors are gorgeous. Did you get yours?” – Reading with a Flight Ring

“Based on just this one issue, it seems like it’s going to be an incredible ride. It did what great comics are supposed to do; it left me wanting more.” – Scoop at Previewsworld.com

“A synopsis of Miles to Go may make someone mistake it for a more generic story of sordid pasts and redemption, but the characters we’ve met so far do wonders to break the series apart from others.” – Comicbook.com8

Here’s a look at the covers for MILES TO GO #2 (out at the end of October!). Standard cover by co-creator Stephen Molnar, and a variant by Jeremy Haun:

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It’s been two years since I posted anything new here, but I’d like to keep it better updated for anyone who drops by.

Last month saw the release of OUR FIGHTING FORCES GIANT #1, in both a comic shop and a mass market (Walmart) edition. The book features a reprint of a story I wrote, drawn by Paul McCaffrey, for MEN OF WAR #4 several years ago.

I had no idea this was happening, but it was nice to see. The story is a small personal favorite of mine. (although I made the mistake of reading a new review, which wasn’t exactly positive. It was well-reviewed at the time, and I like it, anyway) Paul’s style isn’t exactly typical of DC, especially for a war book, but that’s fine with me.

The story features the debut (and only appearance, I think) of “Skull & ‘Bots,” which we’d originally intended to call “Skunkworks” before DC legal said no-no. I still quite like the concept. Some geek types designing special military hardware for the armed forces, under the watchful eye of their handler, who also procures their budgets…


It’s one of two war stories I did for DC. The other being an earlier stand-alone issue of OUR FIGHTING FORCES, featuring the Losers. Art by Chad Hardin and Wayne Faucher. I haven’t looked back at that one in a while. (Nifty Mark Schultz cover below)


Anyway, if you’re near a Walmart, look for it! It’s one of the better 100-page Walmart books I’ve seen, beyond our story.


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