Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 3

Science fiction arrived on the newspaper comics page in January 1929 with the debut of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century A.D., written by Philip Nowlan and drawn by Dick Calkins. Five years to the day after Buck Rogers awoke from his centuries-long nap, Flash Gordon, written and drawn by Alex Raymond, premiered on the Sunday comics page, halfway through what comic-strip historian Ron Goulart called "The Adventurous Decade." On the road between those two comic strip milestones, in August 1933, Brick Bradford made its debut. Guided by writer William Ritt and artist Clarence Gray (later by Paul Norris), Brick Bradford would last for more than half a century, thrilling and intriguing its readers with storylines that ran on for months or even years.

In 1935, Ritt and Gray introduced an ingenious plot device to their comic strip. Originally a the eponymous device in a Sunday strip topper, the marvelous machine known as The Time Top descended into the Brick Bradford comic strip, and the redheaded Kentuckian went whirling away into multiple dimensions of time and space. Flip Falcon's Fourth Dimension Machine sounds suspiciously like a swipe of the Time Top. That's only one bit of evidence that Flip was based on Brick. Here's the clincher: in his first three adventures, Flip Falcon was called Flick Falcon--Flick to rhyme with Brick, and suitably alliterative for the comics. Don Rico drew the first few Flick/Flip Falcon stories (the writer is unknown), but by issue number four of Fantastic Comics, Flick became Flip, and the character's origin was obscured. And why was the name changed? If you have ever hand lettered a comic book story, you'll know why.

Flip Falcon starred in twenty-one issues of Fantastic Comics, his adventures finally coming to an end in 1941. Brick Bradford, the character that inspired Flip's creation, carried on for nearly half a century, with the last Brick Bradford strip appearing in newspapers in May 1987. The Time Top survives, and you can see it for yourself by making the trip to downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. There you will find a bronze sculpture of the whirling wonder, created by Jerry Pethick. As for new adventures of Flip Falcon, do what your friends are doing and read Five Star Comics!

Brick Bradford by Ritt and Gray in a British comic book. That's The Time Top in the upper left corner and at the bottom center. Brick is on the center left with one of his girlfriends. The alien creature on the opposite side of the page looks a lot like Rapuzzi Johannis' "Little Green Man" from the late 1940s. "Adventures in time and space"--so says the subtitle. You could easily replace Brick Bradford's name with that of Flip Falcon, hero of the fourth dimension!
Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 2

The secret origin of Flip Falcon continues . . .

Comic book writer and store owner Jordan Lowe wrote the first script for the comic book that would eventually become Five Star Comics. Jordan enlisted Gary Gibeaut, creator of The Guard Dawgs, as artist, and after many months of labor, Gary drew his Flip Falcon story to a close. By then, Larry Blake, Tim Corrigan, Terence Hanley, and Matt Marshall were on board and the first issue of Five Star Comics was in the works. Our comic book made its debut at the Mothman Festival in 2011 and has since received great reviews.

So just who is this character Flip Falcon and where did he come from? As I said in Part 1, Flip Falcon was drawn by the artist Don Rico (1912-1985) for the first issue of Fantastic Comics, a title published by Fox Publications. Then in his late twenties, Rico had gotten his start as an artist by engraving woodblocks under the tutelage of Hendrik J. Glintenkamp. In 1939, Rico began working in comic books. His pencils and inks for the first Flip Falcon story must have been one of his earliest efforts in the new art form.

You wouldn't know it to look at the black-and-white version in Five Star Comics, but Flip Falcon was originally a redhead. Unlike Superman and hundreds of other superheroes, he didn't sport a fancy costume, just a white shirt, regular pants, and, as Gary Gibeaut says, "sensible shoes." The thing that set him apart was his fantastic Fourth Dimension Machine. Red hair . . . ordinary clothing . . . a super-science gadget . . . that sounds an awful lot like another character from the 1930s and '40s, a character who was very popular in his day but is seldom remembered now: William Ritt and Clarence Gray's Brick Bradford.

To be concluded . . .

Jordan Lowe's and Gary Gibeaut's "Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension" from Five Star Comics #1.

Flip Falcon script copyright 2012 Jordan Lowe.
Flip Falcon artwork copyright 2012 Gary Gibeaut
Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Monday, June 18, 2012

Secret Origins

Flip Falcon in the Fourth Dimension!
Part 1

Flip Falcon, traveler across time and space, is back after seven decades in suspended animation. Created by writer and artist Don Rico (1912-1985), Flip Falcon appeared in twenty-one issues of Fantastic Comics, from the first issue in December 1939 until the twenty-first issue in August 1941. Using his Fourth Dimension Machine, Flip traveled at will across the space-time continuum, frequently doing battle with a creature known as Chongo and his devilish Demi-Things, inhabitants of another, nightmarish dimension. Now Flip Falcon lives again in the pages of Five Star Comics #1. In an adventure scripted by Jordan Lowe and drawn by Gary Gibeaut, Flip once again goes up against the Demi-Things, aided by his girlfriend, the always able Adele, and defeats them with the help of one of the most powerful forces ever known: American popular music!

Like all the other protagonists in Five Star Comics #1, Flip Falcon is a superhero in the public domain. So what does that mean? Well, after Superman made his debut in 1938, comic book companies popped up everywhere attempting to cash in on the superhero craze. Soon newsstands were loaded with ten-cent epics full of superhero adventures. Unfortunately, after World War II, superheroes went into decline and so did a lot of comic book companies. Fortunately for us, those companies and their successors never renewed their copyrights or trademarks and so hundreds of characters and titles fell into the public domain. Today, anyone, anywhere can use public domain characters without permission and without paying a dime in royalties. That's where Five Star Comics began.

To be continued . . . 

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Friday, June 8, 2012

Larry Blake and Terence Hanley at Tri-Con

Larry Blake and Terence Hanley will be at the Tri-State Comic Con tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, 2012. The convention is on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, home state of the Mothman. Larry and Terence will have their books for sale, including Five Star Comics #1 and Five Star Comics #2. This is the first comic convention to be held in Huntington for years. It has been well publicized and well promoted, so there should be a big crowd. Come on down for some fun and a talk with the many creative people in the Tri-State area.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Self Publisher Magazine Reviews Five Star Comics #1

Self Publisher Magazine, a journal of small and independent press, has reviewed the first issue of Five Star Comics. Here's what the magazine's online reviewer had to say:
What a cool concept here. The creators of these comics have dipped into the foggy past, looking way back to the dawn of comics for characters that have gone into public domain, and they have latched onto the style and feel of those comics, and made new stories. Indeed, these strips are really something, and they deliver solid entertainment with depth and pathos, and bring relevance and freshness to boot. There isn't a clunker in here, every page and every panel has coolness dripping into every fiber of the paper. I read this cover to cover, devouring its insanely clever hooks and delightful nods at history, as it made me want to read more and more new stories of this nature. And as luck would have it, I already have #2 in the review pile for the next round through the box…so I know there is more. Meanwhile, go out of your way to get this. It is worth it. What a great book it is.
Wow! We're blushing! Seriously, though, it looks like we have succeeded in what we were setting out to do when we started Five Star Comics. If you would like to read more small press and independent press news, see the website of Self Publisher Magazine here.

Original text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ratha Con in The Athens News

The Athens News, a locally owned tabloid newspaper, covered the first annual Ratha Con in its May 29, 2012, edition. The article is called "Athens' First Comic Convention: All Characters Welcome." The author is Megan Moseley. You can read her article online by clicking here.

Although small and just beginning, this year's convention was full of spirit. The facilities at the Athens Community Center are great, with plenty of room for vendors and visitors alike. We're looking forward to next year's Ratha Con.

Copyright 2012 Five Star Comics

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reviews of Five Star Comics #2

Tony Isabella Reviews Five Star Comics

Veteran comic book writer Tony Isabella has reviewed Five Star Comics #1 and #2 on his blog, entitled appropriately enough, "Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing." Although his posting is called "I Flirted with Madness" (May 15, 2012), the title has nothing to do with his reading of our comic book. Instead, Mr. Isabella is mostly favorable in his review. His favorite story is "Yesterday and Today," Larry Blake's first entry in the Missile/Silver Streak saga from the inaugural issue of Five Star Comics. Despite a couple of quibbles, Mr. Isabella has this to say: "I think many of my bloggy thing readers would enjoy these two comic books." He also reviewed Lucky Girl #1 by Terence Hanley, calling it "charming."

Steve Keeter, The Classic Comics Man, has also reviewed Five Star Comics #2, and he did it before even reading it! You can see his video review, "Designed to Rot the Brain Fast," dated May 17, 2012, on YouTube. (His title doesn't have anything to do with Five Star Comics, either.) Click here for the link. So what does he have to say? Read on:
"Cool back cover"
"Great stuff like Cave Girl and The Bat-King"
"I love this guy's artwork" (Terence)
"Some crazy, funny, wacky . . . slapstick" (The Amalga-Mates)
"I'm so wild about the artwork"
"This guy is a great pencil artist" (Matt)
"This is one of the best comics around"
You don't have to take Steve's word for it. Find out for yourself why readers love Five Star Comics. Order your copy today.

Text copyright 2012 Five Star Comics