Men of Mystery 91

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Men of Mystery 91 cover artPrice: $29.95

 

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MEN OF MYSTERY #91 is NOW AVAILABLE!!There’s nothing a true Golden Age fan likes more than finding some “new” character or strip that they’d never seen before. If that fans’ particular area of interest is costumed super-types, this 91st issue on AC’s long-running vintage reprint anthology MEN OF MYSTERY is absolutely NOT to be missed!! We’ve searched through every hidden corner of the Golden Age to find the most obscure, most esoteric and most down-right WEIRD superhero concepts ever to make it into print in the 1940’s!! This book has alien heroes (MARTAN the MARVEL MAN and his girl-partner were from the planet Alterran, SUB-ZERO was another off-worlder); android heroes( The WHITE STREAK is an artificial human); lawyer-heroes (The MOUTHPIECE- need we say more?), heroes-by-proxy (Professor SUPERMINDand SON- you’ll just have to see it to believe it) ;a guy that turns into a red, flaming rock (FEARLESS FLINT); a babe who dresses up as an old hag to fight crime (SPIDER WIDOW); and we don’t even have room to get into trying to explain PHANTASMO, The FLYING FIST and BINGO, BRONZE MAN, GHOST of FLANDERS, ZERO- GHOST DETECTIVE, HOODED WASP, TABU, PHANTOM FALCON, and a half-dozen others who will be on display in MOM #91.20 great vintage stories in all. Some of these concepts were pretty creative, and you might wonder why they never found a major audience. Others will just make you say “WHAT were they THINKING?!”- but all will be interesting. And, for those who are NOT fans of the obscure, we’ve got a couple of well-crafted adventures starring Quality Comics’ first-line stars DOLLMAN and cover feature HERCULES. Artists include H.G. Peter, John Daly, Augie Froelich, John Spranger, Fred Guardineer, Frank Borth, Elmer Stoner, William Kent, Ralph Carlson, Alex Blum, Carl Burgos, Jack Binder, George Brenner and others; with a cover by Lou Fine. It’s over 148 pages of full-story reprints of the WEIRDEST superheroes of the 1940’s, in crisp black and white with full color covers. Standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. released in 2013.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 19

Crypt of Horror Volume 19 cover art

Crypt of Horror Volume 19 cover artPrice: $29.95

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CRYPT OF HORROR VOLUME 19 IS NOW AVAILABLE!! During the horror comics boom of the early 1950’s, the demand for the macbre was high, and an incredible volume of pages featuring spooky material were churned out- in more ways than one. Aesthetic standards varied greatly. On the high end, that era spawned the EC Comics horror line; considered by many to be among the highest-quality comic books ever produced. At the other end of the spectrum were the poverty-row publishers, employing artists with far less skill and experience. Not always the worst matchup, though- grotesquely hideous artwork on a horror story is far more effective than on a romance comic! All of that aside, many of the artistic giants throughout comic book history have done exemplary work in the horror genre, even if we are more accustomed to associating their names with other types of comic books, and Crypt of Horror Volume 19 highlights a selection of great artists that fit that description. Jack Kirby was the unquestioned “king” of illustrating rollicking action on the comic book page, but did you know he could also craft a moody and mysterious missive as well? Then check out this issue’s “Saucer Man”, inked by Al Williamson. Awed my Steve Ditko’s work on the classic Spider-Man ? You ain’t seen nothin’ till you’ve sampled some of the weird chillers he drew for Charlton and other companies a decade before, like “What Happened?”, right here in this volume. Alex Toth- storyteller supreme and master of the tasteful use of chiarascuro? Prepare to be scared out of your WITS by his “Murder Mansion”! Bob Powell, Joe Sinnott, and a host of others are here; great artists all, perhaps better known for their efforts delineating superheroes, adventure, humor or glamor- but never better than when weltering in grisly horror!! Like Dick Ayers on “I Crawl Through Graves”, Bill Everett on “Don’t Bury Me Deep”, George Altman illustrating “You’re Going To Die Yesterday”, Bernard Bailey’s “Lost, One World!”, Sol Brodsky on “The Man Who Moved”; Bernie Krigstein’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Be Reached”, Sid Greene’s “Too Late”, Joe Maneely illustrating “The Iron Door”, Werner Roth on “The Rival”, plus Manny Stallman, Fred Kida, Fran Smith, John Forte, Dave Berg, Myron Fass, BobFujitani, Gene Colan, and half-a-dozen others!! 29 full vintage horror stories reprinted in all!! 140 pages in black and white with color covers, standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Check out Crypt of Horror Volume 19, and see the greatest artists in comic book history in an all-new (and scary) light!!

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Femforce 164

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THIS BOOK IS SOLD OUT AND UNAVAILABLE AT ANY PRICE!!! The FEMFORCE have faced many threats over the past two decades, and perhaps the most difficult to vanquish are those who attempt to play out their maleavalence within the boundaries of the law- and this issue, the FF (In the form of MS. VICTORY, SYNN and TARA) must parry with an old nemesis seeking to use the FF for his own gain. A solo covert mission turns to high-speed action for SHE-CAT as she fights to smash an underground organization bent on death and destruction, and super-scientist STARDUST ends up dealing with demonic manifestations in a pinch when forced to substitute for NIGHTVEIL, still on hiatus with her love interest, the recently-returned BLACK COMMANDO, as NV and BC are off for an extended session of R &R, which will eventually lead the pair into unexpected danger. In the conclusion of Eric Coile’s 1950’s-era retro FF story, the Eisenhower-era FF (Miss Victory, She-Cat, Blue Bulleteer and Rio Tita) team up with Fighting Yank, Yankee Girl and The Avenger to finally give the villainous Red Square his comuppance- but not before they must face the emerald threat of MEGALODONNA!! Guest-stars include YANKEE GIRL, whose accidental time-trip puts her in the right place at the right time to save the life of Merlin in “A Yankee In King Arthur’s Court”; STORMY TEMPEST, as she faces dwarf-sized cannibals and giant Amazon warriors in outer space in “These Boots Are Made For Walking”; DINOSAUR GIRL in the 1940’s-era adventure “The Thing With Two Heads’, and an encore presentation of MISS MASQUE in “The Funny Face Of Death”. Art by Eric Coile, ChrisAllen, Rock Baker, Scott Larson, Mark Heike, Stephanie Heike, Jeff Austin, Scott Shriver, Bill Black, and Mark Dail; stories by Bill Black, Mark & Stephanie Heike, Eric Coile, Mark Holmes, Frank Tra, David Watkins and Stephane Durand.84 pages in black and white with color covers; standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Released in 2013.

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Golden Age GreatsSpotlight Special Volume 13

Golden Age GreatsSpotlight Special Volume 13 cover art

Golden Age GreatsSpotlight Special Volume 13 cover artPrice: $34.95

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 13: The Centaur Chronicles is here!!
Being collectors an enthusiasts for Golden Age comics ourselves, it has long been our goal to try to bring to light some of the rarest, most important and most interesting pieces of comic book history. For many decades, one of the most esoteric and rarely-seen comic book publishers was the storied Centaur line of the late 1930’s/early 1940’s. Often looked at as a sort of “proving grounds” for concepts and creators, Centaurs’ historical importance as THE major client for the Lloyd Jaquet Studios just prior to (and during) the birth of Timely(now Marvel) Comics gives the line a certain “Pre-Marvel” feel, employing as it did most (if not all) of the same creators that produced early issues of Marvel Mystery, Daring Mystery, Red Raven, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner for the company that would become Marvel Comics. When we did a “Centaur-centric” issue of our long-running Men of Mystery title in 2010 (#83, to be exact), we were pretty pleased with ourselves, because it included TEN full Centaur story reprints, and no one ANYWHERE could boast of EVER showing as much Centaur previously in print. In recent months, as our print run of Men of Mystery #83 was selling out, our intial plan was to simply go back to press with the book as-is. But then we reconsidered. We’ve reprinted some OTHER Centaur stories since that volume, and come into possession of yet more that hadn’t seen the light of day. Not to mention the fact that one of our long-time friends (and a preeminent expert among comics historians) Hames Ware knows MORE about the convoluted lineage of publishers and investors that evolved into Centaur than anyone else alive, and has been bursting to tell the REAL story for years. So we decided to redit the Centaur stories from the now-out-of-print Men of Mystery #83, add in most of the other Centaur stories we’ve reprinted elsewhere, add a bunch of NEVER PREVIOUSLY REPRINTED Centaur tales AND top it all of with Hames Ware’s The Birth of Centaur, and REALLY make it THE most pages of reprints, info and coverage of this company EVER fit into ONE publication, and The Centaur Chronicles was born. Because this story was TOO BIG to fit into a regular-format issue of Golden Age Greats, we decided to make this a SPECIAL lucky 13Th issue of GAG Spotlight, with 220 pages of quality reprint in a squarebound, bookshelf format, as opposed to simply being stapled .Hence, the special price for this special volume Comic history mayvens will hate themselves if they DON’T get a copy of THIS blockbuster- GOLDEN AGE GREATS SPOTLIGHT Volume 13: The Centaur Chronicles. 30 complete, full vintage Centaur stories reprinted; features that include: FANTOM of the FAIR, AMAZING MAN, The SHARK, The ARROW, IRON SKULL, MASKED MARVEL, Dr. HYPNO, SKYROCKET STEELE, DIRK The DEMON, The ERMINE, CHUCK HARDY, REEF KINKAID, The FIREMAN, The RAINBOW, SOLARMAN, ZARDI The ETERNAL MAN, LITTLE DYNAMITE, DAN DENNIS- FBI, MUSS ‘EM UP DONOVAN, Dr. MYSTIC, BLUE LADY, The BLUE FLAME, AIRSUB DX, AIRMAN and MINIMIDGET!! Classic early comics action as drawn by: Lew Glanz, Bob Lubbers, Martin Filchock, Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, Sam Gilman, Frank Thomas, Ben Thompson, Joe Shuster, Will Eisner, Bob Kane, Jack Cole, Al Plastino, Frank Frollo, Harry Sahle, Steve Jussen and John Kolb!! Since the square-backed, “perfectbind” system we usedto bind this book is more expensive and requires more labor, it is likely that we will chose NOT to go back to press with this book once the intial print run has sold out. Currently, we have less than two dozen copies set aside for AC web shop sales; the rest of the print run is already presold to our didtributors. So- if you THINK you may want this book someday, we would suggest that you buy it NOW, rather than WAITING with the idea of picking it up off of our web store sometime in future- because at THAT point, they may all be gone- and the book might NOT be coming back.(Released in 2013.)

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Femforce 165- Coming in November, 2013!! by Mark Heike

Femforce 165 cover art by Eric CoileThe FEMFORCE rarely deals in “all-out action issues”, but this edition of the long-running FF series heads in that direction, as one-time FF member, sometimes- villainess and daughter of team leader MS. VICTORY, RAD  finds herself accidentally pulled into the long-running WAMPYR/CIANOSE DJAB storyline while trying to be a responsible “good samaratin”. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, she’s in a donnybrooke with most of the FEMFORCE team. Meanwhile, SHE-CAT; STILL trying to avoid the ire of Ms. VICTORY over SYNN’s romp on the West Coast in FF #163 has talked her way into yet ANOTHER solo mission in a remote location. This time, it’s the mysterious region known as The Dawn World, where ‘Cat must contend with both prehistoric and antidelluvian menaces AND the cat-diety known as BAST. This story guest-stars CAVE GIRL, THUN’DA  and PHA, and is written and drawn by the multi-talented Eric Coile. After decades apart( for various reasons) NIGHTVEIL  and her love Dan (The BLACK COMMANDO) Barton have finally been reunited. With unlimited resources and virtually all of time and space before them, their lives together SHOULD be idyllic- but seeds sown this issue may lead to the greatest adventure that either of these characters has ever faced. ROWENA, the gentle giantess returns, in a story written by R’s creator, Eric Lindberg, and drawn by a talented AC newcomer, Seth Bunke!!  She-Cat makes a return appearance in yet another solo outing- and wait’ll you see WHERE it takes place!!Finally, after last issue’s short “teaser”, interplanetary trouble-shooter STORMY TEMPEST is back, in a feature-length story that harkens to her live-action, Galaxy International/CultRetro video adventures. STORMY and S.H.I.P. must save a sentient alien race from the intergalactic threat known as- The SWARM!!  Stories by   Mark and Stephanie Heike, Mark Holmes, Eric Lindberg, Eric Coile and Frank Tra. Art by Eric Coile, Rock Baker, Scott Shriver, Jeff Austin, Seth Bunke and Manuel Diaz. This issue will also ship with TWO different cover options- a “standard” cover version by regular FF contributor Eric Coile, and a special STORMY TEMPEST cover variant by John Nadeau. John started at AC many decades ago, and  later distinguished himself with a long run as a penciler on various STAR

Femforce 165 alternate cover

Femforce 165 alternate cover

WARS miniseries at Dark Horse Comics, among other high-profile comic book projects. These two versions will be shipped to Diamond Distribution in a 4:1ratio; FOUR copies of the standard Coile cover to every ONE copy of the special Nadeau STORMY version. If you want to be certain of getting the Nadeau variant, be sure that your local retailer orders enough copies.

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Men of Mystery 90- NOW AVAILABLE!!

Men of Mystery 90 cover art

Men of Mystery 90 cover artPrice: $29.95

 

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Issue #90, the latest in AC’s premiere Golden Age reprint anthology series, Men of Mystery, is now available!! Shady publisher Victor Fox’ Fox Features line was one of the earliest comic houses to jump “whole-hog” onto the costumed superhero trend right around 1940; and if not for some questionable business practices and bad decisions, they COULD have made a big success of it. They definitely had the right type of product out there at the right time, but apparently just didn’t quite know what to do with it. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t do some colorful, interesting, and historically-important comic book stuff for a few years. Based on some positive reaction to previous reprints of the Fox Features’ original version of the BLUE BEETLE that we’ve done lately, we’re bringing interested readers even MORE BB this go around. We’re presenting complete reprintings of two issues of Fox’ BIG 3 comic ( #’s 3 and 4 ), their “all star” anthology of the time, and addtional material from BLUE BEETLE #10. Here, you’ll get a chance to see the Sombre Scarab in THREE big stories; two of which are feature-length 18-pagers!! All of these BB tales are rendered by Al Carreno, a Mexican-American artist whose father rode with Pancho Villa!. One of the stories, ( the lead adventure from Big Three #3 ) was reported by the late, legendary comics writer Robert Kanigher to be his FIRST professional swcripting job in comics!! In addition to that, you’ll get a quartet of adventures starring FFC’s mythical strong-man hero, SAMSON, illustrated by Pierce Rice and Arturo Cazeneuve, and a pair of pyrotechnical dramas with The FLAME. Murder. mayhem and destruction on a mass scale are the order of the day in these tense potboilers filled with villainous mad doctors and gangsters with their incredible schemes. Then, get ready for The GORILLA!! Did you think The SUB-MARINER was the BEST anti-hero produced in comics’ early days? Well, maybe he was. But he wasn’t the ONLY one!! Check out a strange “take” on a recurring super-character with The GORILLA !! ALL are never-previously-reprinted Golden Age full-story classics, all straight out of the pages of early 1940’s Fox Features comic books !! A full 140 pages of vintage excitement ! Black and white interiors with full-color covers; standard comic book size and saddle-stitched. Like EVERY issue of MOM, THIS one is NOT to be missed!! Released in 2013.

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Golden Age Glamor- New Title Coming In October!!

Golden Age Glamor Volume ! cover art

Golden Age Glamor Volume ! cover artThe glamorous pin-up style “good girl” art that originated in comics’ Golden Age has been an inspiration to AC Comics from the beginning. In recent decades, we’ve even been able to bring reprints of many of the actual GGA stories themselves before a modern audience,  paricularly when that approach was used on costumed superheroines. We’ve shown our readers “good girl” art jungle stories, science-fiction and even Westerns at times. But we’ve never really had the proper oulet to present examples of great comic book glamor art that did NOT fit into the standard genres we explore, and a lot of the BEST GGA of the 1940’s and ’50’s was in crime, humor, adventure and even romance comics. So, GOLDEN AGE GLAMOR was born! It will be an ongoing, quarterly trade-paperback series celebrating sexy, glamorous females drawn in comic books. No matter WHAT kind of stories they were featured in, we’ll bring them to you. In addition to stand-alone stories from vintage crime, romance and horror anthologies that may feature particularly well-rendered examples of the female form, we’ll be selecting top episodes from ongoing series’ across a broad spectrum. We’ll go wherever the glamor is!! Be prepared to get a healthy dose of Fiction House material in the jungle, science fiction and action/adventure modes, reprinted from Jumbo, Jungle, Planet and Fight comics; teen/humor material like CHOO CHOO, TORCHY and CANDY from the Quality Comics’ stable; reporter/detective/policewoman strips like SALLY the SLEUTH, UNDERCOVER GIRL, SALLY O’NEAL, JILL TRENT, JOAN MASON BETTY BATES  and MOLLY O’DAY; and even costumed types like BLACK VENUS, BLACK ANGEL, LADY LUCK, WOMAN IN RED, PANTHER WOMAN; KIT WEST, CANTEEN KATE and every possible permutation in between. It will be top-shelf vintage “good girl” art across the board, in stories never previously reprinted, in every issue of GOLDEN AGE GLAMOR, as drawn by masters of the form including Matt Baker, Ogden Whitney, Bill Ward, Al Bryant, Bob Lubbers, Jack Kamen, George Evans, Klaus Nordling, Jill Elgin, Frank Bolle, Nina Albright, Ruben Moriera, Harry Sahle. Frank Frazetta and others. One point we might like to make clear at the outset, however: since this is going to be a squarebound, bookself series; additional printings are unlikely due to the added expense of this form of binding. Back-issues may sell out quickly and become high-priced premiums. If you think you may want to folllow this series, we strongly suggest that you order it from your local retailer. Once the initial printing (based on comic shop preorders) is sold, AC Comics may not be able to supply back-issues after the fact. So be sure to order your copy of GOLDEN AGE GLAMOR Volume 1 at you local comic book retailer when it appears in Diamond Previews in the  August,Voume 23, #299 edition, listing products scheduled to ship on October of 2013. The book will be a perfectbound, trade-paperback of more than 200 pages, with black and white interiorsand full color covers, for $34.95.

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Men of Mystery 91- Weird Heroes Coming in October, 2013!!

Men of Mystery 91 cover artThere’s nothing a true Golden Age fan likes more than finding some “new” character or strip that they’d never seen before. If that fans’ particular area of interest is costumed super-types, this 91st issue on AC’s long-running vintage reprint anthology MEN OF MYSTERY is absolutely NOT to be missed!! We’ve searched through every hidden corner of the Golden Age to find the most obscure, most esoteric and most down-right WEIRD superhero concepts ever to make it into print in the 1940’s!! This book has alien heroes (MARTAN the MARVEL MAN and his girl-partner were from Mars, SUB-ZERO was another off-worlder); android heroes( The WHITE STREAK is an artificial human); lawyer-heroes(The MOUTHPIECE- need we say more?), heroes-by-proxy (Professor SUPERMINDand SON- you’ll just have to see it to believe it) multiple heroes (MIRROR MAN); a guy that turns into a red, flaming rock (FEARLESS FLINT); a babe who dresses up as an old hag to fight crime(SPIDER WIDOW); and we don’t even have room to get into trying to explain PHANTASMO, The FLYING FIST and BINGO, The FACE, HOODED WASP, LIGHTNING, PHANTOM FALCON, BRONZE MAN, IRON MUNROE, STEEL FIST, GHOST of FLANDERS, RED DRAGON, ZERO- GHOST DETECTIVE and a half-dozen others who will be on display in MOM #91. Some of these concepts were pretty creative, and you might wonder why they never found amajor audience. Others will just make you say “WHAT were they THINKING!”- but all will be interesting. Interior artists include H.G. Peter, John Daly, Emil Gershwin, Charles Sultan, Fred Guardineer, Frank Borth, H. C. Kiefer, Elmer Stoner, John Celardo, Mart Bailey and others; cover by the legendary Lou Fine. And, for those who are NOT fans of the obscure, we’ve got a couple of well-crafted stories starring Quality Comics’ first-line stars DOLLMAN (by Reed Crandall) and cover feature HERCULES. That’s AC Comics’ MEN of MYSTERY #91; 140 pages of high-quality, full-story Golden Age reprints (in black and white with color covers); standard comic book sixe with saddle-stitched binding. Be sure to look for it in the August edition of Diamond Previews; Volume23, #299, for products shipping in October of 2013, and place your preorder with your local comics retailer.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 18

Crypt of Horror Volume 18 cover art

Crypt of Horror Volume 18 cover artPrice: $29.95

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CRYPT OF HORROR, Volume 18 is NOW AVAILABLE!! More lurid Pre-Code horror, here spotlighting Quality Comics’ WEB OF EVIL title!! The aptly-named Quality Comics line of the Golden Age was synonymous with the very BEST in story and art anywhere to be found on the comics racks. Publisher Everett M. Arnold hired the top artists and writers available, and paid them better rates than anyone in the business. Ranking in total sales and popularity just below DC and Fawcett (and ABOVE Timely/Marvel, really) during their run from 1939 to 1956, the company was best known for producing the super-star features PLASTC MAN, BLACKHAWK and DOLLMAN; as well as dozens of other ongoing characters of all genres. But, when horror reigned supreme in the comic market in the early 1950’s that prime creative staff was put to turning out horror stories as well. And since head honcho “Busy” Arnold wouldn’t accept anything less, the Quality horror comics were among the best of their era, as well. WEB OF EVIL was their one and only “true” horror title, and will be spotlighted here in this special volume of COH, showcasing nine grisly WOH grabbers: “Hangman’s Horror” (drawn by JACK COLE!!), “Return of the Dead” ( by Dick Dillin), “Ghost Ship”, “The Corpse That Wouldn’t Die”, “Make-Up For Death”, “The Fiend Who Lived Forever”, “Terror In Chinatown” and “Avenging Ghosts”, plus a bonus Quality gem originally running in Ken Shannon comics, of all places- “The Corpses Wouldn’t Sleep” (illustrated by Reed Crandall). This material comprises complete reprints of WEB OF EVIL issues # 3 and 17, and THEN some .These offerings are particularly well- written and drawn, in the typical Quality manner, and have not been seen ANYWHERE since their original publication in the early 1950’s!! Big sellers in their day, they are rare gems now, as Quality has been more or less forgotten as a purveyor of horror. Not to mention one of the EARLIEST. In Hit Comics, circa 1940, ran what MAY be THE first ongoing horror feature ever seen in American comic books- a series called “The Old Witch”, wherin the titular character narrated a macabre morsel. Well, in this very volume, we’re reprinting a TOW story from Hit #6, “The Phantom Scaffold”!! Also, we’ll be including a story from ANOTHER forgotten/undiscovered source of high-gloss Pre-Code horror, the Ziff-Davis/Avon Publications title, Nightmare!! Check out “The Soul of Benjamin Sprague” (drawn by Bob Powell) from that venerable tome. Plus, rarities from Jack Kirby (“Dead Man’s Lode”), Dick Ayers (“The Man Who Wasn’t”), Steve Ditko (“The Time Chamber”), Ben Brown & Dave Gantz (“The Final Horror” ) and others, including “The Bat and the Brain”; “Bride of Anubis”; “The Girl Who Died Twice” and “The Dead Speak”. True horror comics lovers CANNOT miss this issue, as you’ll find THESE never-previously-reprinted stories nowhere else!! A full 140 pages of crisp, clear, full-story reprints in black and white, with color covers. Standard comic book size, saddle-stitchrd. Released in 2013.

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Femforce 163

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THIS BOOK IS NOW SOLD OUT AND UNAVAILABLE AT ANY PRICE!! The latest issue of comicdom’s premiere superheroine group book is here, chock full of new stories!! As the FF basks in the glow of happiness from last issues’ reunion between NIGHTVEIL and her long-lost love, The BLACK COMMANDO; evil machinations are afoot on the West Coast. While both NV and Ms VICTORY are absent, SYNN makes a rash decision to act on an apparent monster attack in Hollywwod. SHE-CAT, TARA and STARDUST are pulled in after her, and what LOOKS like an incident caused by two villans out of the FF’s past is ACTUALLY the work of two very new malafactors, in “I Put A Spell On You”, Written by Mark & Stephanie Heike, penciled by Rock Baker and inked by Mark Heike. Then we pick up with Ms. VICTORY in Japan, of all places. While investigating a tip there on the troublesome RENEGADE, Joan finds herself embroiled in a conflict with members of a Japanese super-science defense league. It’s giant robots, oriental masterminds and Asian warrior girls galore, in “V Is For Victory”, written by Mark Holmes and illustrated by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Then, take a trip back to 1956 when the FF team up with YANKEE GIRL and The FIGHTING YANK to face off against a near world-shattering menace created by the evil RED SQUARE, in “The Coming of Megaladonna”; written and drawn by Eric Coile, with inks by Bill Black. Next, TARA FREMONT tells the rest of the FF a tale of jungle(?) adventure and intrigue from her college days in “A Jungle Girl In Jersey”, written by Mark Holmes, with art by Scott Larson and Scott Shriver. Then, an untold tale out of the 1947 volume of the casebook of The BLUE BULLETEER; “Noir”. BB shadows a doppleganger in an unlikely locale to smoke out a killer, and ends up bagging two in the bargain. Written by Mara Grundmeyer and Mark S. Dail, with art by Eric Theriault, Mark Heike and Scott Shriver. Finally, a double-dose of alien giantess excitement with TWO episodes of the GAMMAZON HOUSEWIFE saga. First, Gammazonian giantess emigree Kar’Ri Conquest risks life, love and home against a group of former government elite troops gone renegade in “Alien Combatant”, written by Eric Johnson with art by Dan Gorman and Jeff Austin. It guest-stars SYNN, STARDUST and ROBERTA STROCK. Then, in “Living Like A Queen”; old Gammazonian cohorts invade Kar’Ri and Tom’s quiet suburban neighborhood for a showdown in a tale co-starring  the FF’s own TARA (“Too Tall”) FREMONT!! FF #163 is 84 pages of action, adventure, glamor and excitement. Released in 2013.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 19- Coming In September!!

Crypt ofHorrorvolume 19 cover art

Crypt ofHorrorvolume 19 cover artDuring the horror comics boom of the early 1950’s, the demand for the macabre was high, and an incredible volume of pages featuring spooky material was churned out- in more ways than one. Aesthetic standards varied greatly. On the high end, that era spawned the EC Comics horror line; considered by many to be among the highest-quality comic books ever produced. At the other end of the spectrum were the poverty-row publishers, employing artists with far less skill and experience. Not always the worst matchup, though- grotesquely hideous artwork on a horror story is far more effective than on a romance comic! All of that aside, many of the artistic giants throughout comic book history have done exemplary work in the horror genre, even if we are more accustomed to associating their names with other types of comic books, and Crypt of Horror Volume 19 highlights a selection of great artists that fit that description. Jack Kirby was the unquestioned “king” of illustrating rollicking action on the comic book page, but did you know he could also craft a moody and mysterious missive as well? Awed my Steve Ditko’s work on the classic Spider-Man ? You ain’t seen nothin’ till you’ve sampled some of the weird chillers he drew for Charlton and other companies a decade before. Alex Toth- storyteller supreme and master of the tasteful use of chiaroscuro? Prepare to be scared out of your WITS! Jack Kirby, Bob Powell, Alex Toth, Mort Meskin, Joe Maneely, Nick Cardy, Joe Sinnott, Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko, Joe Certa, Ruben Moriera, Bernie Krigstein, and a host of others are here; great artists all, perhaps better known for their efforts delineating superheroes, adventure, humor or glamour- but never better than when weltering in grisly horror!! Check out Crypt of Horror Volume 19, and see the greatest artists in comic book history in an all-new (and scary) light!! It’s another heaping helping of horror reprints from the 1950’s, including stories like “GRAVE OF DOOM”, “THE SPECTRAL BRIDE”, “VAMPIRE CASTLE”, “MADMAN’S MANOR”, “FANGS OF THE FIEND”, “VOICE OF DOOM”, “WEREWOLF”, “THE COZY COFFIN”, “HORROR HARBOR” and many others!!That’s Crypt of Horror Volume 19; 140 pages of Pre-Code horror comics reprints in black and white with color covers, standard comic book size, saddle-stitched, for $29.95. Order it at your local comic book retailers in the July, 2013 copy  ( V23, #298) of Diamond Previews, for items shipping in September, 2013!!

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Men of Mystery 89

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Men of Mystery 89 cover artPrice: $29.95

 

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Men of Mystery #89 is now available!! Headlined by actual Golden Age adventues of frontline star features from the era (in never previously reprinted stories, of course) including DOLLMAN, AIRBOY, COMMANDO YANK, GREEN MASK, SPY SMASHER, CAPTAIN FREEDOM, SHOCK GIBSON and NEON the UNKNOWN!! Other highlights of this issue include early work from the soon-to-be star artist Mac Raboy on an adventure of Fawcett Comics’ Dr. VOODOO. Raboy would later make his mark on CAPTAIN MARVEL Jr; GREEN LAMA and a long run on the FLASH GORDON newspaper strip, but here you’ll see an excellent example of his early work. One of the most obscure and esoteric, almost legendary comic books of the early 1940’s is the one-shot produced by the Lloyd Jaquet Studio, GREEN GIANT Comics. MOM #89 will present the one and ONLY appearance of a strange costumed superhero from that book known as The MASTER MYSTIC!! We guarantee you’ve never seen THIS one before!! And every issue of MOM we try to introduce at least a few characters from the 1940’s we’ve NEVER reprinted before, and this issue will is no exception, with early Quality Comics stars from Hit Comics; HERCULES and The RED BEE, AND from Cat-Man Comics, BLACKOUT!! Of course, there’s be a lot more, like the further adventures of Dell’s bizarre PHANTASMO, whose saga we started in MOM #88; Harvey Comics’ champions The SPIRIT of ’76 and the GIRL COMMANDOS, Magazine Enterprixes’ The DURANGO KID, and others!! Featuring art by Mac Raboy, Bob Powell, Carl Pfeufer, Ernie Schroeder, Bob Fujitani, Arturo Cazeneuve, Elmer Stoner, Mac Raboy, Victor Pazmino, Joe Certa, Jill Elgin and more. It’s another 140-page, saddle-stitched blockbuster of full-story vintage reprints in black and white, at regular comic book size with a full-color cover, all for $29.95

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Femforce #164- Coming in August, 2013!

Femforce#164 cover art by Eric CoileThe world’s first and ONLY successfull all-female superteam will be back in August, 2013 when AC releases FEMFORCE #164, as the big AC COMICS 30Th Anniversary celebration continues!! Another great Eric Coile cover; another spectacular 80 pages of art and story; AND another great special promotion!! The FEMFORCE have faced many threats over the past two decades, and perhaps the most difficult to vanquish are those that attempt to play out their malevolence within the boundaries of the law- and that is somewhat of a theme for this issue of FF. Even while the supernaturally-powerful team of WAMPYR and CIANOSE DJAB (the vampire queen and zombie king) quietly build their power base through economic growth and political influence, the FF (In the form of MS. VICTORY, SYNN and TARA) must parry with an old nemesis seeking to use the FF for his own gain. A solo covert mission turns to high-speed action for SHE-CAT as she fights to smash an underground organization bent on death and destruction, and super-scientist STARDUST ends up dealing with demonic manifestations in a pinch when forced to substitute for NIGHTVEIL, still on hiatus with her love interest, the recently-returned BLACK COMMANDO. Then, Kar’Ri Conquest hoped to leave violence and destruction behind her when she remained on Earth to try to quietly live as an oversized wife and mother, but rogue elements in the intelligence community won’t let that happen. In the wake of a possible interplanetary war, the FEMFORCE must lend a hand to the GAMMAZON HOUSEWIFE in a story that features the return of Roberta Strock. And as if all this great story and art itself was not enough, this issue will ship with a special “remarked” cover option that will be a real collector’s item. Long-time AC artist (and Associate Editor) Mark Heike will execute a unique, one-of-a-kind, autographed pencil sketch featuring a FEMFORCE cast member on the back covers of a limited number of copies of FEMFORCE #164, so each copy of this special edition of FF #164 will be a distinctive and individual piece of art itself- at NO extra cost!! ALL copies of FF #164, “remarked” or standard; will be the regular FF cover price of $9.95!! The two versions will be shipped to Diamond Distribution in a 4:1 ratio; FOUR copies of the standard cover to every ONE copy of the “remarked” edition containing the original Heike sketch. BOTH versions will feature the great Eric Coile design printed in color on the front cover, but ONLY the “remarked” copies will feature the original pencil drawings. If you want to be certain of getting the “remarked” edition with the Heike sketch, be sure that your local retailer orders enough copies, as the “remarked” version will NEVER be offered for sale directly from AC COMICS; it is a Diamond Distribution exclusive. Look for FEMFORCE #164 in the June, 2013 edition of the Diamond Previews catalog; volume 23, #297- for items scheduled to ship in August, 2013. And speaking of FEMFORCE and things shipping; FF #163 will be ready in no more than 5 or 6 weeks. Of course, the regular edition with it’s stunning Eric Coile cover will be ready for Femforce #163 cover art by Eric Coilepurchase around the third week of May in the accomics.com web shop then (and arriving in your comics shop several weeks later), BUT if you are determined to get a copy with the awe-inspiring Eduardo Barreto alternate cover, you can ONLY get that Barreto cover if you order the book at your local retailer through Diamond Distribution. The Barreto cover version WILL NOT at any point be offered for sale on the AC shop. And, there IS still time to place an advance reorder for FF #163 with your local comic book retailer. Simply tell him you want FEMFORCE #163, DCD item #MAR130759, from the March, 2013 issue of Diamond Femforce #163 Alternate cover art by Eduardo BarretoPreviews; volume 23, #294. The two cover versions will be shipped to Diamond Distribution in a 4:1 ratio; FOUR copies of the standard Eric Coile cover version to every ONE copy of the Barreto cover. This FF cover was among the LAST artwork that Eduardo did before his untimely passing, so it will be just about the last chance you’ll have to see any previously unused art from this all-time great talent.

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 12

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 12 cover art

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 12 cover artPrice: $29.95

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Now Available!! A second giant volume focusing on the most OUTRAGEOUS “good girl” art in comic book history! Our Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 8 proved so popular, those outrageous gals are back here in Volume 12 as Outrageous Good Girls Strike Back! It’s another heaping helping of female pulchritude as drawn by the masters of the female form, with more than 20 full stories spread over 140 big pages, with special focus on three great GGA artists- Wallace Wood, Frank Frazetta and Bob Lubbers!! Contents include a never-previously-reprinted afventure of Fox Features’ legendary PHANTOM LADY- “The Criminal Chessmen”, DAGAR the DESERT HAWK (and his spectacular female friends) from Dagar #14 (actually the first issue) as drawn by Ed Good; the freebooting CORSAIR QUEEN, from Quality Comics’ The Buccaneers; Matt Baker at his best on a pair of Fiction House beauties- MYSTA of the MOON and SKY GIRL; and glamorous espionage with Starr Flagg, UNDERCOVER GIRL from M.E’.’s Mamhunt, as rendered by Ogden Whitney. But there’s LOTS more than that- including GGA stories that PRECLUDE the dawn of comic books themselves, with FOUR actual adventures of SALLY the SLEUTH; comic-style stories (drawn by Adolph Barreaux) that appeared within the pages of the Spicey Detective pulps in the mid-1930’s; the first in-costume appearance of PAT PARKER, WAR NURSE from Speed Comics; Rangers Comics’ star FIREHAIR, AND a LONG SAM adventure, both by Bob Lubbers; and a pair of TORCHY stories- one drawn by creator Bill Ward, plus a second by Gill Fox. PUSSYCAT is back, in a spectacularlay-drawn story by the great Jim Mooney- “Wild Wheels”, as well as BLONDE BOMBER; illustrated by Jill Elgin. There’s also an eye-popping adventure of DAN BRAND and TIPI-you wouldn’t normaly think this strip, with it’s early frontier days theme would be GGA fodder, but when you see the gorgeous blonde that Frank Frazetta draws all through this one, you’ll see why we had to include it; and Wallace Wood’s glamor/humor feature DRAGONELLA speaks for itself. All of this and more surprises make for another great collection of some of the wildest pin-up style art in the history of comic books. 140 full pages in black and white, with full color covers. Standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Released in 2013.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 17

Crypt of Horror Volume 17 cover art by Steve Ditko

Crypt of Horror Volume 17 cover art by Steve DitkoPrice: $29.95

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 Comicdom’s premiere Pre-Code horror anthology is back, with a special Weird Werewolf volume!! That’s right, hirsute howling horrors are on special this issue, from the stunning Steve Ditko cover right through FIVE shaggy terror tales: “A Silver Bullet For Your Heart” from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; “Werewolf” (artist unknown), “A Race To Kill” by Mo Marcus, “The Haunt of the Hyena”, and “Were-fiends of Finland”; plus an article on werewolf tales from EC, Atlas, ACG, Harvey and Comic Media. But that’s just the beginning, as there are 16 MORE great full-story reprints, originally seen in such 1950’s horror gems as Tales of Horror, Mister Mystery, Weird Chills, Weird Mysteries, and other long-defunct scarey mags! Stories include “The Beast From The Deep”, “The Survivors”, “Late Date With Death”, “Dead Man’s Escape”, “The Invasion”, “Fear Has A Name”, “12,000 To 1”. “The Edge of Fear”, “The Bog of Evil”, “Terror On TV”, “The Clock Maker”, “Premonintion”, “SSSSHHH” and others, drawn by such luminaries as Ed Goode, Bob Powell, Jerry Grandenetti, Harry Lazarus, Steve Ditko, Al Williamson, Joe Maneely, Joe Certa, John Rosenberger, Eugene Hughes and others. As always, it’s 140 full pages of great vintage comic book horror in one saddle-stitched volume. Standard comic book size, black and while interiors with color covers. Released in 2013.

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Frederick-How COULD You? by Mark Heike

Seduction of the Innocent cover artAnyone familiar with comic book history is aware of the impact that the 1954 book “Seduction Of The Innocent”had on the comic book industry. Written by a “pop psychologist” of that era, the infamous Dr. Frederick Wertham, this purported “expose” did a great deal to whip up public hysteria against comic books, “proving” that they were a cause of “juvenile delinquency” in American youths. The surrounding publicity over this best-seller led the comic book industry to adopt a self-imposed set of standards known as The Comics Code Authority, and virtually all newsstand-distributed comic books were required to abide by these standards for a period of over 40 years or risk not being distributed. The Comics Code Authority and its’ ubiquitous seal of approval disappeared from all comic books about 15 years ago, and Wertham’s work has long been criticized for being unscientific, but uberwriter Eric Johnson brings our attention to a recent article in Information and Carol TilleyCulture: A Journal of History penned by author Carol Tilley, wherin even the validity of Wertham’s research itself is now being called into question.“Lots of people have suspected for years that Wertham fudged his so-called clinical evidence in arguing against comics, but there’s been no proof,” Tilley said. “My research is the first definitive indication that he misrepresented and altered children’s own words about comics.“He does take some things verbatim from the transcript,” Tilley said, “but then he also would take things from different days, from different parts of a transcript, reorganize them, omit words, make small changes that, in effect, change the kids’ arguments or change their viewpoints. He did this in so many instances that it’s hard to overlook.”Despite these problems, “Seduction” was critically acclaimed when it was published in 1954. The New York Times called it “a most commendable use of the professional mind in the service of the public,” and the National Education Association selected it as book of the year, according to Tilley’s article. Interested parties should read the article in its’ entirety at: http://news.illinois.edu/news/13/0211comics_CarolTilley.html . Today, we’re used to high-profile doctors of all kinds writing knee-jerk books and becoming media darlings as they promote them; Wertham was one of the first to successfully achieve this sort of thing. Of course, outlets were much more limited then, but articles he wrote on anti-comics themes for popular women’s magazines of the day like Ladies Home Journal garned such reaction that he was inspired to write his book. Once it reached print, the movement against comic books began to snowball. He got a measure of fame, sold a lot of books, and helped cripple the comic book industry for some years. Anyone interested inCrime Comics #1 cover seeing the kind of comics Wertham railed against the most may want to check our our Crime Comics #1. These documentary-style stories are chilling, and one might well question the effect they might have on impressionable minds. But finding Wertham’s “reasearch” discounted now points up the biggest harm perpetrated by this sort of media groundswell, and that is believing and acting on incomplete, incorrect or erroneous information leads people to believe they are taking positive action insteade of continuing to search for the real root of the problem. And until that can be accurately assessed, no genuine improvement will occur. Anyone interested in the latest creative endeavor from the talented Eric Femforce 160 cover artJohnson can look for at least one new story coming up in FEMFORCE #163, in May. In the m,ean time, feel free to get FEMFORCE #160, which showcases his great Stardust story, “Satellite Of Hate”.

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Femforce 162

Femforce 162 cover art by Brad Gorby

Femforce 162 cover art by Brad GorbyPrice: $9.95

 

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SPECTACULAR PAINTED COVER BY BRAD GORBY!!

It’s here- the big 30Th Birthday of AC Comics’ issue of FEMFORCE; FF #162!! And we’re celebrating with exactly what our readers love the best- wall-to-wall story and art starring AC’s classic “good girls” and their extended cast of supporting characters!! To start the book, AC head honcho (and creator of it all) BILL BLACK returns to pen the senses- shattering epic titled “The Commandoes Are Coming!” See NIGHTVEIL attacked in her lingerie!! See an old nemesis threaten the team!! See Laura Wright FINALLY reunited with her long-lost love, the BLACK COMMANDO!! See a piece of an alien planet, light-years away, transported to Earth!! See the return of NIKKI LATIMER!! And see the shadow of supreme evil hover over it all, in the start of an epic new chapter in FF history! Starring Ms. VICTORY, SYNN, NIGHTVEIL, SHE-CAT, STARDUST and TARA! Penciled by Eric Coile, and inked by Wild Bill Black himself, aided by Scott Shriver!. And as even as the girls deal with these dangers out of the past, Ms. V’s wayward daughter RAD strikes!! And when she does, it’s up to PARAGON (“Mr. Victory”), The SCARLET SCORPION and COMMANDO D to rein her in as she goes on a rampage over Downtown Orlando. You can be sure that thje result is a knock-down, drag-out donneybrook, but the REAL haymaker is tossed by tiny MYLA CHANG, leaving RAD and PARAGON to speculate on just HOW RAD came to exist, and what it may mean to Ms. VICTORY, in “Golden Years”, written by Mark Heike, with pencils by Rock Baker and Heike, and ink finishes by the great Jeff Austin. Next, the team-up you never thought possible, as NIGHTVEIL and The BLUE BULLETEER must work together to vanquish “The Terror That Time Forgot!” Coming to AC from the world of animation, triple-threat creator Andre St. Amour writes, draws and even letters an instant classic that will have you pondering the nature of time itself. Wait until you see Andre’s fresh and dynamic “take” on the AC/FEMFORCE universe! After that, the trip through time and alternate realities continues with the conclusion of “Team Paragon”!! See the startllng conclusion of the tale writer/penciler Eric Coile started last issue, as the Pre-AC/Paragon Publications versions of CAPTAIN PARAGON, SYNN, Dr. MARA and SCARLET SCPRPION band together to fend off the attack of the STEEL CLAW and his fearsome minions!! A satisfying resolution to this fascinating”elseworlds”-style take on what the AC Universe MIGHT have been like, had it continued as the PARAGON Universe instead. Inked by the man who created BOTH versions, AC’s own multitalented head man, Bill Black himself!! Then, sojourn on into the year 1970, for the conclusion of the FEMFORCE flashback tale set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam conflict that began in FF #161 with “Tin Soldiers”. The FF return from a goodwill tour of Southeast Asia to find tradgedy on a college campus in Middle America. While the rest of the team ponders semingly unsolveable conflicts, SYNN finds a unique solution, to ending tensions. Written by Erik Matthews, with pencils by Eric Coile and inks by Scott Shriver; and guest-starring The BLONDE BOMBER, RIO RITA, CAPTAIN PARAGON, and the corpse of Ho Ci Minh. Finally, it’s the snarling SHE-CAT in contemporary battlefield action as she fights alongside US military forces in the Middle East to stop two new villanesses in “Nosey”, scripted by Mark Holmes, with art by Andre St. Amour. Eighty pages of all-new, never-before-seen graphic storytelling done in the style AC readers have come to love over the past three decades. Standard comic book size, black and white interiors with color covers, saddle-stitched. It’s sure to sell out fast- get your copy NOW!! In fact, as a special anniversary treat, every copy of FF #162 purchased on the AC web shop before March 1st, 2013 will be autographed by Bill Black and Mark Heike at no additional cost!

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Femforce Coverage In 2013 by Mark Heike

Paolo Bodini cover painting sampleNow that we have finally come up with a workable system, AC Comics is planning a number of alternate covers for issues of FEMFORCE coming up in 2013, and the talented artists who will be producing them come from all corners of the globe!!  Italian illustrator Paolo Bodini, who has produced a ton of great comic book cover work on the European series “The Yellow Monadori” is working on his preliminary FEMFORCE sketches even now. Check out the piece at the top of this article for an example of his awesome painting skills. From the Great White North of Canada, the dynamic Eric Theriault (remember the great chapter he drew in the now-classic FEMFORCE #150? He’s also penciled a killer BLUE BULLETEER story that you’ll be seeing shortly) has done a cover piece starring MS. VICTORY and TARA. See Eric Theirault Femforce cover pencilsthe pencils to same below. But, our regular cast of contributors from here in the good ol’ USA are amply represented as well. We have several alternate covers already “in the can” from Eric Coile, a beautiful STORMY TEMPEST by John Nadeau,  a Brad Gorby BLUE BULLETEER, and even a “classic” Ms. VICTORY by the team of Will Meugniot and Jeff Austin.  We also hope to revisit the idea of offering a “remarked” cover option which would be an actual original pencil sketch by an AC artist on the inside cover of a certain percentage of a given issue’s cover. If you fan’s had your druthers, WHICH AC staffer/freelancer would you MOST like to see doing the original sketches? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do!!

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Femforce 162 Nearing Completion by Mark Heike

Andre St. Amour page from FF 162We’re into the home stretch, now; just about 40 days from the release of our big 30Th birthday celebration book, FEMFORCE #162- and excitement around the office is at a fever pitch.  As we coordinate with our various creators around the globe, putting finishing touches on their stories for the issue, there’s a lot of reminiscing going on- but even MORE talk about the future. We’ve told a LOT of great stories over the last three decades, but there are still so many left yet to tell. Here’s a sneak peek at a couple of pages you’ll find in FF #162. Check out the splash page on the MOST unlikely FF team-up story you could ever imagine- it has NIGHTVEIL and The BLUE BULLETEER fighting side-by-side ! That’s the brainchild of dynamic creator Andre St. Amour, who provides script, full art and letters on this soon-to-be-classic yarn. And how about the art on this page from the “Golden Years” story, from our star illustrative team of Rock Baker and Jeff Austin? Has SHE-CAT ever looked better? With a mix of creators that includes Bossman Bill Black and I, veteran FF talents like Baker, Austin, Erics’ Coile and  Johnson, and enthusiastic (relative) newcomers like the aforementioned Mr. St. Amour, Scott Shriver and Erik Matthews, we think there will be something to delight every FF fan to be found in this historic issue. And remember- if you haven’t  ALREADY ordered your copy at your local retailer, there is still time to place an advance reorder. Just tell you favorite shop owner you’d like to order FEMFORCE #163, DVD item # NOV120805, from the November, 2012 issue of Diamond Previews ; Volume 22 #290, and he’ll happily place your order.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 16

Crypt of Horror Volume 16 cover art by Bob Powell

Crypt of Horror Volume 16 cover art by Bob PowellPrice: $100.00

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ONLY TWO COPIES LEFT!!! Hang onto your hats, horror-hounds; CRYPT OF HORROR Volume 16 is here!! Continuing the COH tradition of celebrating the great Pre-Code horror comics classics of the 1950’s, this 16th stanza collects another 21 complete vintage terror tales from such long-defunct publishers as Fawcett (with several stories from the late, great This Magazine Is Haunted title), Charlton, Magazine Enterprises, Minoan/Toby Press, and others. Top-flight story and art come together in treasures like ” Nightmare”, drawn by Joe Sinnott; “The Soul Stealer”, by Robert Pious; “The Thing On The Beach”, rendered by Steve Ditko”; “The Crawling Corpse”, as visualized by Harry Lazarus”; “Sand!”, by Bob Powell; “Third Grave On The Right”, brought to life by Bill Ely; “Close Shave”, by Fred Kida; “The Revolt Of Wilber Bixby”, drawn by Jay Scott Pike; “Weird Wonders”, by John Belfi; “Web Of Horror”, limned by Ben Brown and Dave Ganz, “The Sea Waits” AND “Tortures Of The Damned”, BOTH by Dick Ayers; plus “Out Of Control”; “The Store At The Cemetary”; “The Howling Head”; “The Night People”; “Life Insurance”; “Witches’ Wrath”; “The Devil Stole Her Soul”; “Eyes Of Death”; “The Sunken Grave”; and “Contract In Blood”. Buy this volume and you are sure to be scared senseless, 1950’s-style. Psychological horror, ghosts, vampires, aliens, zombies, walking dead, witches, demons, even mermaids, human she-spiders and shrewish, domineering wives- they are all here!! Chilling cover painting by Bob Powell!! Crypt of Horror Volume 16 is a fat 140 pages in black and white with color covers. It is standard comic book size, and is saddle-stitched. Released by AC Comics in 2013.

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Men of Mystery 88

Men of Mystery 88 cover art

Men of Mystery 88 cover artPrice: $29.95

 

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A FULL 140 PAGES OF NEVER-BEFORE -REPRINTED VINTAGE GOLD!! That’s right, Men of Mystery #88 contains 16 full story reprints of rare, vintage action headlined by some of the most unique and interesting costumed heroes of the 1940’s, not seen anywhere since their original printings !! This issues’ cover star Mr. SCARLET stars in “The Hunted Hunter”, drawn by Jack Binder, from Fawcett Comics’ Wow Comics; followed by an untitled QUICKSILVER story from National Comics #26. The art is signed “Nick Cardy”, but this one is actually drawn by Paul Gustavson. Then, another Quality Comics star, MERLIN (never previously appearing in MOM) rings in, with an untitled story (also from National #26) drawn by that master of magicians, Fred Guardineer. There’s more Quality to come, with STORMY FOSTER, The GREAT DEFENDER, in an adventure illustrated by Rudy Palais from Hit Comics #32, and The UNKNOWN , in a story whose creators are also unknown, again from National #26; plus DOLLMAN faces off against two of his most notorious nemesis, The Undertaker and Tom Thumb in a taughtly-paced spellbinder as drawn by John Spranger. Then, Fox Features is represented with an early BLUE BEETLE episode, from Mystery Men #26, and a GREEN MASK nail-biter, also from an early MM issue. A pair of Eastern Color stars join the fray, as MUSIC MASTER fights a Nazi sabotage ring in a story beautifully rendered by Jimmy Thompson, and MAN O’METAL roots out threats to the war effort in the Black Diamond mine in a story penciled by H. G. Peter; both from Heroic Comics #22. Arturo Cazeneuve’s BRITSH AGENT #99 shows up, reprising his initial appearance from way back in Pocket Comics #1, and Senor Cazeneuve does double-duty, as it his his art that also graces The ZEBRA on “The Man Who Looked Into The Future, from an unkown issue of Green Hornet.” Two newcomers to Men Of Mystery come from Dell Comics’ The Funnies (issue #46, to be exact) in The BLACK KNIGHT- a costumed paladin set in medevil times, and PHANTASMO- a comtemporary( by 1940 standards) superhero who has to be seen to be believed. Cut in the mold of The Spectre, Stardust the Superwizard and Mr. Justice, this nearly-omnipotent student of Eastern philosophy had some very weird adventures, drawn by African-American artist Elmer Stoner. This issue’s story is his first appearance, as is the case on the BLACK KNIGHT story, as well. Plus- two more bonus SURPRISE stories; one drawn by Joe Certa, and a second by Jack Binder. You can’t get MORE perfectly-reproduced Golden Age reprint material anywhere for less! A full 140 pages of vintage 1940’s costumed hero reprints in black & white with a full-color cover. Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched.

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 11

Golden Ages Greats Spotlight Special Volume 11 cover art

Golden Ages Greats Spotlight Special Volume 11 cover artPrice: $29.95

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Charles Biro is one of the great forgotten geniuses of the early days of comic books. Writer, artist, editor and innovator; his profile cast a heavy shadow over the development of the comic book, even though his involvement in the medium ended by 1956. This important volume of the Golden Age Greats Spotlight series showcases some great representative examples of this prolific creator’s best work, as well as spotlighting a number of features he helped direct as one of the co-editors at Lev Gleason Publications. The centerpiece of this stupendous package is a complete reprint of Daredevil Comics #8, from March of 1942, including a classic adventure of the original DAREDEVIL (the costumed hero Biro is most identified with, though he did not create DD) ; written and drawn by Biro, featuring the villainous SNIFFER; a gripping episode of THIRTEEN and JINX; “Of Crippled Vengeance”, illustrated by Bernie Klein; WHIRLWIND by Dick Wood and Bernie Klein; a never-previoudsly-reprinted episode each of NIGHTRO and PAT PATRIOT; REAL AMERICAN starring The Bronze Terror, by Dick Briefer; LONDON in “Who Is The Boar”, by Jerry Robinson; and the CLAW versus The GHOST, written and drawn by Biro’s co-editor, Bob Wood. Other classics to be seen in this missive include DAREDEVIL and the LITTLE WISE GUYS; written by Biro and illustrated by Norman Maurer from Daredevil #53, (the LAST Daredevil story that actually HAD DD in it-as of DD #54, the Little Wise Guys took over his book!) ROCKY X of the ROCKETEERS in “Return of the Claw”, from Gleason’s other long-running title, Boy Illustories # 89- again written by Biro and drawn by Maurer; BOMBSHELL- the boy hero; Gleason’s masked Western star, BLACK DIAMOND in “Reliapon’s Big Race”; and Biro’s ultimate juvenile do-gooder CRIMEBUSTER in a dramatic tale from Boy Comics#4 again written and illustrated by Biro wherin CB meets arch-villain IRON JAW’s son. And no tribute to Charles Biro would be complete without a look at a few examples of his game-changing crime comics. His straightforward, documentary-style approach to the crime genre produced stories with such impact that soon after their debut, EVERY publisher on the market was rushing out crime books to try to cash in on Biro’s success, but few did. His “true crime”stories were so disturbing they lent much weight to the people who thought that comics should be censored for young readers, and had far more to do with institution of the Comics Code in the 1950’s than any horror comics ever did. Here are two Biro-scripted stories from the legendary CRIME DOES NOT PAY title: “The Rise and Fall of “Socks” Lazia, King of the Alky Rackets” (beautifully illustrated by Dan Barry) and “Who Murdered Beautiful Mtry Lawson”, drawn by Fred Guardineer. If you think that wordy, involved stories filled with high drama, voilence and character development are strictly an invention of so-called “modern” comics, buy this volume and get educated. Charles Biro was putting together these kind of comics in the 1940’s and ’50’s and doing it well. 140 pages, black & white with color covers. Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched. Released in 2012.

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Femforce #162 Now in Previews by Mark Heike

FF 162 cover art by Brad GorbyHustle on down to your local comic book retailer, because it’s that time- time to order FEMFORCE #162, the big AC COMICS 30Th Anniversary issue, now listed in the November issue of Previews, offering product scheduled to ship in January, 2013.  You DON’T want to miss THIS one!! In the early stages of planning this historic issue we coordinated with Diamond to discuss a few options. For awhile we were gung-ho about the idea of multiple alternate covers and a full color interior section, which you might have heard about on our websites or other blogs. All of this would have increased the cover price of the book to $12.95, which we ultimately decided NOT to do at this time in our ongoing effort to keep YOUR costs down. Femforce 162 will “hold the line” at our regular cover price of only $9.95, in our standard 80-page format, the best value in comics. There will only be one cover, but it will be a SPECTACULAR cover by one of the all-time Femforce greats- C. Bradford Gorby. There won’t be a color section, but you WILL get top-flight stories and art by the most skilled creators we can find who like to work in the classic AC COMICS spirit. We figured that all of our most die-hard fans tell us THOSE are the things that have kept THEM sticking with AC all these years, so if we’re really going to celebrate three decades of publishing comic books, we should do it by simply doing what we do best. First off, AC head honcho, boss and Creator Of All things Bill Black himself is scripting the lead story, “The Commandos Are Coming”. It will feature the whole team in a fighting frenzy, dealing with the return of Laura (NIGHTVEIL)Wright’s once-deranged love interest, The BLACK COMMANDO, and one of the great villainesses of the past, ALIZARIN CRIMSON!! Art on this soon-to-be classic will be handled by the team of penciler Eric Coile and Bill Black himself (with a liitle help from  Scott Shriver), so you know it’ll shine. While the rest of the team is off dealing with these menaces, events from last issue take an interesting turn as RAD and PARAGON are actually the first to learn of Jennifer Wayne-Burke’s “test-tube” origins, and you can imagine how well THAT will go over, coming on the heels of  RAD having her house leveled by the battle with the FF in #161. “Golden Years” is written by Mark Heike, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin.  SHE-CAT (on a solo mission) must take down a pair of new supervillainesses in war-torn Afganistan, of all places; in “Nosey”, scripted by new writing sensation Mark Holmes, and drawn in a breezy, animation-style by new (to us) artistic sensation, Andre St. Amour. The second part of last-issue’s 1960’s-era FEMFORCE adventure wraps up hgere as SYNN takes an interesting hand in aiding the anti-war movement in “Tin Soldiers”, scripted by Erik Matthews, penciled by Eric Coile and inked by Scott Shriver.  Andre St. Amour strikes again this issue, with an untold story featuring a team-up of…wait for it…NIGHTVEIL and The BLUE BULLETEER!! How can that be- since they are BOTH alter egos of the same Laura Wright”? Read “The  Evil That Time Forgot”, written AND illustrated by Andre!! ANOTHER versatilr creator takes yet another bow this issues, as Eric Coile concludes his “elseworlds” exploration of Paragon Publications’ versions of popular AC/FEMFORCE characters as he wraps up TEAM PARAGON in their struggle to best The IRON CLAW. Written AND penciled by Eric, with inks by Bill Black and Scott Shriver.  There may yet be more surprises, as well- so be sure to tell your comic book reader you want to preorder FEMFORCE #162, in the Diamond Previews for November, covering products scheduled to ship in January; then expect to see your copy sometime in  late February.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 15

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Hang on for another titanic treasury of horrifying happenings straight out of the great horror comic books of the 1950’s. 19 full-story reprints in glistening, crystal-clear black and white reproducing every nuance of the original line art!! This collection covers rare gems originally published by ACG, Harvey, Prize, Magazine Enterprises, Standard/Nedor , Fiction House and Charlton; and includes “The Hidden Horror”, “The Undying Brain”; “The Subway Spectres”, “The Tomb of the Unseen”, “Artist of Evil”, “The Well of Mystery”, ” Lure of the Snake Goddesss”, “The Angel of Death”, “The Wall of Flesh”, “The Bloodstone”, “The Bloody Fangs of Fear” )A Tale of the Haunter), “The Ghost Gallery”, “The Report”, “The Ghost of the Gorgon”, “The Lady and the Monster” (starring the Frankenstein momster), “The Drums”, “Monster of the Deep”, “The Shadow In the Mirror”, and “Numbered For Death”!! These frights of comic book fantasy feature artwork by such stellar stalwarts as Ogden Whitney, Joe Certa, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Bob Powell (TWO FULL STORIES!!), John Bell, Dick Briefer, Steve Ditko, John Celardo and others. If you’ve already collected the first 14 volumes in this series, #15 will be a must-have. If not, this issue is a perfect place to jump on the Pre-Code horror bandwagon asnd see what all the hoopla is about! Crypt of Horror Volume 15 is a BIG 140 pages in black and white with color covers, standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Released by AC Comics in 2012.

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Men of Mystery 87

Men of Mystery 87 cover art

Men of Mystery 87 cover artPrice: $29.95

 

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Check out another heaping helping of rare comic book history in the latest installment of the most important Golden Age reprint anthology ever produced; Men of Mystery #87!
You’ll start off with a never-before-reprinted adventure of the original Fox Features BLUE BEETLE in a story drawn by the underrated Sam Cooper from Big Three #2. Thrill to the dashing Beetle’s duel with the grotesque Porky Hogg! Next, BB’s Fox compatriot from Mystery Men Comics (issue #6, to be exact) The GREEN MASK swings into action to save a beautiful blonde from a gang of spies. Then, it’s a rare treat- a 16-page adventure of one of the STRANGEST costumed heroes of the Golden (or any) Age, The MAD HATTER!! Ruthles ganster Frank Faro’s mind ends up in the body of a gorilla, and it’s up to the poerty-writing ‘HATTER to bring him in, in a weird and disturbing tale drawn by the always-moody John Giunta. Then, it’s one of the few WWII costumed heroes to operate in Europe behind enemy lines, as Standard/Better/Nedor’s short-lived star of Thrilling Comics, The AMERICAN CRUSADER works to save “The Voice of Norway” in a story illustrated by Max Plaisted. Quality Comics’ classy miniature hero, DOLLMAN rings in next, with an adventure set among the Native Americans of the great Southwest, as illustrated by Bill Ward and Al Bryant. Then, Centaur Comics’ one-shot hero, SOLARMAN takes the stage, in a somewhat-wacky tale drawn by “The Real” Frank Thomas. Then, the BLUE BEETLE makes a return appearance; this time from his short-lived revival in the mid-1950’s, in a Ted Galindo/Ray Osrin drawn story titled “Rookie Trouble”!! Then, we leaf through the pages of Harvey Comics’ history, starting with an Ernie Schroeder-drawn adventure of SPIRIT of ’76 titled “Isle of the Monster Ape”, PLUS a Schroeder-drawn adventure of SHOCK GIBSON, originally seen in Speed #34. Finally, we explore one of the most interesting format experiments on the 1940’s comic book world, Pocket Comics, with FOUR full stories originally seen in Pocket #1: The origin of The PHANTOM SPHINX; the origin of The RED BLAZER (as drawn by Al Avison); the origin of The ZEBRA, AND the first appearance of the anti-hero known as SATAN!! (Please note that the art for the four Pocket Comics stories here in MOM are considerably LARGER and easier to see than the versions originaly seen in the color the ACTUAL Pocket Comics #1!!! ) A full 140 pages of vintage 1940’s costumed hero reprints in black & white with a full-color cover. Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched.

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Femforce 161

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Things have been too quiet for the FEMFORCE for too long. Why, it’s been SO long between threats to the world as we know it, that the team members have been able to take some time off. But the holiday is over, and now it’s time to get back to work. And once those “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” essays are written, the order of the day for those glamorous super-gals MS. VICTORY, NIGHTVEIL, SHE-CAT, SYNN, STARDUST and TARA is to find that mysterious trouble-maker from a few years back known as RENEGADE. This seems straightforward enough, until that unpredictable wild card known as RAD gets pulled into the mix. Then, you never know what you might end up finding when you go digging around in other people’s genes. It’s old faces in new places, the crank-up of a couple of new storylines, guest-stars, mystery, revelations, laughs, and even some action in “Hot Fun In The Summertime”, written by Mark Heike; with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Then, the long-talked-about vampiric villainess WAMPYR finally surfaces to start her plan for global domination- in a very different place- and in a very different way than you would ever imagine. And is the shadowy figure who seems to know her a threat or an aid to her master plan? Find out in “See No Evil”; scripted and inked by Mark Heike, with pencils by Eric Coile. Next, it’s SYNN going undercover at the Orlando Municipal Library to ferret out an otherworldly threat in “Book ‘Em, Synn”, written by Mark Holmes, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. After that, we dig back into the casebook of untold stories out of the FF’s past. It’s the summer of 1970, in the steaming jungles of Southeast Asia, and the US military “Welcomes The Femforce”, in a very offbeat tale written by Erik Matthews ( Because Steven Stills, Roger McGuinn and Eric Burdon were unavailable), drawn by (ex-serviceman) Eric Coile, and inked by Scatt Shriver (because he’s a really good inker). But that’s not all. This issue also features ” The Iron Claw of Fear”, starring TEAM PARAGON, in an “elseworlds” type of story postulating ” what if the AC Comics Universe never existed, and Bill Black’s original Paragon Publications line had continued telling stories?” It’s a team up of the ORIGINAL Paragon versions of four AC characters; “Captain” Paragon, Silva Synn, “The Girl From LSD”, alien female powerhouse “Dr Mara” and a very different Scarlet Scorpion. They face the threat of the villain known as The Iron Claw in a story that builds on continuity from the old Paragon Publications line. (Most recently seen reprised in this year’s “Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Story” TPB.) Written, penciled and inked by that creative dynamo, Eric Coile. Also- ROWENA, the gentle giantess of the Middle Ages is back, facing new danger from that necromancing nincompoop Deoban in “Doppleganger”, written by Eric Lindberg, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Finally, this jam-packed issue closes with the latest saga of DINOSAUR GIRL. It is still the early 1940’s; the dark hours of World War II. But this issue Vivian( DINISAUR GIRL) Strand and her husband Rex are stateside, enjoying a little West-Coast R&R; but things take a horrible turn when they decide to spend “A Day At The Zoo.” Written and drawn by Rock Baker, with ink finishes by Jeff Austin. Once again, it’s 80 pages of brand-new, never-before-seen comics thrills, adventure and cheesecake, in the BEST value in comicdom, Femforce #161. Black and white interiors with full-color covers; 80 total pages, saddle-stitched, standard comic book size- NO ADS!! Released by AC Comics in 2012. (And get ready for FF #162, coming in Januaty, 2013!! A special 30th birthday of AC Comics issue with lots of extras and surprises!! More details on it in the editorial in this issue.)

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 10

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Volume 10 cover artPrice: $29.95

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The great Bob Powell is in the GAG spotlight this issue, as we go cover-to-cover with 23 full-story reprints covering a wide range of genres in which this prolific and versatile artist excelled. See some of the very best examples of his strong storytelling and bold brushwork on Western, romance, jungle, humor, crime, super-hero, war, action/adventure and mystery yarns, including features like The Shadow, Nick Carter and Doc Savage from The Shadow Vol. 8, No. 9; Mr Mystic from the Spirit Section of August 8; Enchanted Holiday” from True Brides-To-Be Romances #24; Lady Crime from Kerry Drake #8; Kitty Carson from Kerry Drake #12; Spirit of ’76 from Green Hornet comics, circa 1947; Shock Gibson from Green Hornet No. 38; “The Doomed Patrol” from The American Air Forces, circa 1952 The Man In Black; The Scarlet Arrow from Black Cat No. 5, Atoma from Joe Palooka No.15; Blonde Bomber from Green Hornet No.34, Red Hawk from Straight Arrow comics; Strong Man from Strongman No. 4; Thun’da, circa 1954; Bobby Benson’s B-Bar-B riders circa 1950-1953; Lemonade Kid from Bobby Benson’s B-Bar-B Riders, circa 1950;Cave Girl, circa 1953; The Avenger, from The Avenger No. 2; Jet Powers from Jet No. 1, and “Plane Talk”from Terry and the Pirates No. 14. Much has been written about the horror and science-fiction comics produced by Bob Powell and his studio in the 1940’s and ’50’s, but the truth is they excelled in all types of comic book work. Get this great volume and see. 160 pages of full-story reprints using state-if-the-art reproduction techniques in black and white with full color covers. Standard comic book size with saddle-stitched binding. Released in 2012.

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Femforce 160

Femforce #160 Eduardo Barreto cover aret

Femforce #160 Eduardo Barreto cover aretPrice: $9.95

 

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Solo adventures are the order of the day in the latest big, 80-page issue of FEMFORCE; #160. In a period of rare calm between universe-shattering emergencies, the various members of the FF are following their own interests and fending for themselves- in this era and others!! In the present, SHE-CAT heads to New Orleans for a few days of revelry, but is soon pulled into a macabre murder mystery in “Trail of the Velvet Ghost”, written by Frank Tra, with art by Eric Coile and Scott Shriver. Check out this spooky new villainess! Then, STARDUST is up in Earth orbit, doing a favor for her NASA co-workers when she ends up fighting for her life on the “Satellite of Hate”. Written by Eric Johnson, with art by Chris Allen and Scott Shriver. SYNN ends up in a impossible adventure (with tons of guest-stars and the “return” of an old flame? ) in “Perfect Gentleman”, written by Frank Tra, with art by Rock Baker, Scott Shriver and Jeff Austin; and NIGHTVEIL continues to fret about the possible threat of the evil Wampyr in “Palindrome”, written by Mark Heike- with art by Anthony Conversano, Mark Sheppe, Scott Shriver and Mark Heike. Has another strange visitor given NV a clue to Wampyr’s next move? Then, in a previously-untold story from 1941 (actually BEFORE the formation of the FF), young government research director Joan Wayne dons the red, white and blue costume of “MISS” Victory to face the threat of “The Master of the Lightning”, in one of her earliest cases; as written by David Watkins, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Next, it’s the Post-War year of 1947, as BLUE BULLETEER finds herself tangled up in gangland murder in “Trophy Wife Scorned”, written by Maura Grundmeyer, with art by Scott Larson and Jeff Austin. (This tale is actually a reprint, having appeared some years ago as a back-up in GREEN LAMA #2. It’s some excellent work by Maura, Scott and Jeff; not seen by many FF readers previously, and establishes some back-story for an all-new sequel that is currently being drawn for an upcoming issue.) Then, back in the present; that goofy, gorgeous giantess Marla Allison returns as HUMONGA in “Growing For The Gold”. Peeved that her Hollywood career never rated an Academy Award, Marla and her staff concoct a plan to try to manipulate the Tinsel Town system to get an Oscar-night victory. Written by Eric Johnson, with art by Dan Gorman and Jeff Austin. Finally, an encore STARDUST story, relating back to her Rurian birthing day ceremony, last seen back in FF #26. Dusty THINKS she’s all alone on Earth’s moon, but troublemakers (with a cellphone camera) abound in “Stardust Memories: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, plotted by John Gotschall and Rock Baker; penciled by Rock Baker, with script (yes, that’s right- SCRIPT) and inks by Jolly Jeff Austin. Never before have we had as many pages of actual FEMFORCE story and art in a regular issue of the ongoing FF series as in THIS one!! No ads, no editorials- just 100% great “good girl” art comics!Standard comic book size; 80 pages, black & white interiors with color cover by the late, great Eduardo Barreto. Saddle- stitched. Released in 2012.

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 9

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 9 cover art

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 9 cover artPrice: $29.95

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This issue of Golden Age Greats Spotlight is dedicated to complete coverage on the Golden Age version of the late, great duo of CAT-MAN and KITTEN!! Originating in Frank W. Temerson’s Crash Comics #4 in 1940, and continuing (after a partial revamp) through a six-year, 33-issue run of his own title published by Holyoke Comics; the Feline Fury and his distaff sidekick KITTEN formed one of the most interesting and unique crimefighting pairs of the 1940’s. Never before have this many complete classic CAT-MAN stories ever been reprinted in any one volume; starting with his first TWO appearances (from Crash Comics #’s 4 AND 5 ), drawn by the great Irwin Hasen; through a quartet of tales written and drawn by Charles Quinlan, including “Larceny In Liquid” and “The Eyes of Justice”- plus TWO NEVER PREVIOUSLY REPRINTED Quinlan stories, one each from Cat-Man #2 and #10. Don Rico’s lone CAT-MAN tale(originally seen in Cat-Man #23) is here, too- as well as THREE Bob Fujitani-illustrated gems; one each from Cat-Man comics #’s 27, 29 and 31, two of which feature CM’s arch-nemesis, the evil genius, Dr. MACABRE!! The FINAL CAT-MAN story from the original Holyoke run is here, as well; the untitled showdown with Dr. MACABRE rendered by Maxwell Elkans. The progression of the KITTEN character is fascinating, starting out in the series as a pre-teen “little” girl, evolving into a mature woman by the end of the feature’s run. KITTEN’s second origin (she had one in her first appearance, in Cat-Man #5, and a second, very different one after Fujitani took over the series) from issue #27 is contained in this collection, as well as TWO NEVER PREVIOUSLY REPRINTED installments in the LITTLE LEADERS strip which ran as a back-up in CM. LITTLE LEADERS teamed up a youthful KITTEN with MICKEY, a teenage sidekick from another CM strip, The DEACON. The two LL strips include an untitled, Rudy Palais-drawn story from Cat-Man Comics #26A (due to a numbering error, there were actually TWO Cat-Man issue number 26s!) guest-starring CAT-MAN and The DEACON, and “The Swordsman of Death”, drawn by Lou Ferstadt, from Cat-Man #25. Compared to other 1940’s era super-types, CAT-MAN stories tended to have very complicated plots and a LOT of dialogue, and even though the early, Charles Quinlan stories often ended up with very little CAT-MAN in costumed action, all of the tales were interesting, mature and involving.. Oddly enough, a package of the original Holyoke CAT-MAN stories was licensed to an Australian publishing company known as Frews in the early 1950’s. These American retreads proved unpopular Down Under and were soon dropped. A somewhat more successful “revival” of CM was tried in Australia in 1958; this time in an updated, revamped format, done by the great Australian artist John Dixon. This was really a completely different CAT-MAN character, complete with a male sidekick named KIT. A full-length adventure from that Australian series, “The Phantom Mummy” is included in this collection to round out the package. All of that within a cover rendered by L. B. Cole, originally seen on Cat-Man #32. The CAT-MAN series is an exellent example that shows that not ALL the great costumed characters of the Golden Age came from the biggest companies; even lesser publishers like Holyoke could- and sometimes did- create characters whose stories were consistantly compelling and literate. Golden Age Greats Spotlight Volume 9 is 140 pages in length, featuring 13 full vintage stories, cover repros, and a breif history of CAT-MAN and KITTEN. It is standatd comic book size; black & white interiors with color covers, and is saddle-stitched. Released by AC Comics in 2012.

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Femforce 159

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A supernatural malevolence looms over the FEMFORCE, so when word of strange goings-on in a French castle reaches the FF, Nightveil urges the team to investigate. It’s not the threat NV fears, but Gallic ghosts and continental criminals team up to give Ms. VICTORY, NIGHTVEIL, TARA and SHE-CAT all they can handle in “Thje House of Lost Souls”, a three-part feature written by Chad Halcom and illustrated by Eric Coile, Rock Baker, Frankie Addiego, Scott Shriver and Jeff Austin. Then, a little vacation down-time in the Pacific for Ms. V and PARAGON reintroduces BLACK VENUS to AC continuity. The black-clad WWII aviatrix flies back into action (vintage P-38 and all) to save a Navy pilot from a crazed German cyborg known as The Gryphon bent on destroying Honolulu as the “last battle of World War II”. Written by new literary sensation Frank Tra, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Next, the latest installment of writer/artist Will Meugniot’s N.E.D.O.R. Agents saga sees second-generation heroine PYROGIRL trapped on the Moon in the stronghold of a hostile alien force and the rest of the ‘Agents Earthbound with questionable experimental technology their only hope to reach her. Meanwhile, FIGHTING YANK, Jr. feuds with her spectral ancestor AND her mother, the space-pirate from the future(?) known as Tara. And what’s up with The BLACK TERROR and his feral obsession with ALL the female ‘Agents? More action and intrigue in the world of a fictional 1965 by Meugniot the Master. The conclusion to the longest DINOSAUR GIRL adventure ever ends in satisfying crescendo as DG, The distaff Euroteam known as The War Birds and husband Rex team up stave off an Axis push to control the island where DG gained her powers in a World War II action epic entitled “Fortunes of War, Part II”. Written and drawn by Rock Baker, with ink finishes by Madman Jeff Austin. FANTASIA, the 1-900-GIANTESS heroine returns to face her hostile former boyfriend (who gave her the magical shape-shifting ring that gives her those unique powers) in “Not A Gentelman Caller”; written by creator Eric Johnson, with art by Eric Alan Nelson and Scott Shriver. Finally, ROWENA, the gentle giantess of the Middle Ages is back, hoping to make peace between her “normal-sized” husband’s family and her own economy-sized “little sister” Melina when highjinks ensue. Scripted by Eric Lindberg, with art by the team of Rock Baker and Scott Shriver. Add it all up and it come to 80 pages of all-new, never-before-seen story and art in the BEST value package of “good girl” art in the history of comics; FEMFORCE #159. Standard comic book size, black & white interiors with full color covers, saddle-stitched. Released in 2012.

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Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Story Vol. 1

Bizarre Thrils Paragon Pubs Story cover art

Bizarre Thrils Paragon Pubs Story cover artPrice: $100.00Add to Cart View Cart

 

LAST THREE COPIES AVAILABLE!! This is it- the “non-AC” book that AC Comics fans have been waiting almost three decades for !! If you read & enjoy AC Comics, you’ll want to have this book to understand where it all comes from. In an era before the independent, direct-sales comic book distribution system existed, Bill Black created a line of comic-book style periodicals that incorporated the idea of design and featured his own original characters in ongoing, interconnected stories- a comics universe. No, this was NOT AC Comics; this came before that. This was Bill’s legendary PARAGON PUBLICATIONS. Between 1968 and 1982, PARAGON released more than 40 publications, fueled not only by Bill’s tasteful sense of visuals and impactful storytelling, but also a healthy dose of something woefully rare in the mainstream comics of the day, and that is STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS, styled with Bill’s fascination for the glamorous “good girl art” comic books of the 1940’s. That creative vision must’ve been well-realized, since many of those characters are still appearing today in the AC Comics line; in FEMFORCE and elsewhere. This volume collects some of the BEST of the PARAGON material; 21 full vintage stories in all, starring the likes of SYNN(when she was still referred to as The Girl From LSD), The SHADE (his ORIGINAL origin), TARA, STORMY TEMPEST, NIGHTVEIL(at a point that she was being referred to as “Phantom Lady”), The (original) SCARLET SCORPION, the prototype for STARDUST; the villainous ALIZARIN CRIMSON, Dr. RIVITS, No-NOSE NANETTE and GORGANNA- plus a number of great characters you may never have heard of, including The STARMASTERS, The DEFENDER and SPACE GUARDIAN. See the origins of SYNN and the SCARLET SCORPION, AND THE FIRST FEMFORCE story ever published anywhere!! Although Bill did the writing and art on virtually EVERY story in the PARAGON era, he occasionally had “a little help from his friends” in terms of collaborators like Martin Greim, Bob Cosgrove, Gary Brown, Marc Hempel( and if you’re familiar with his current art style, you’d NEVER recognize him here!!) Willie Blyberg and Steve Vance. Also, pin-ups by the likes of Terry Austin, John Byrne, Howard Chaykin, Dick Giordano, Mike Golden, Gil Kane, Bob McLeod, Don Newton, George Perez, Mike Royer, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Toth and Mike Zeck fill out the book, all behind a striking Joe Staton- Bill Black color cover. In addition, Bill provides a complete PARAGON PUBLICATIONS index, an overview to how it all ran, notes and history; plus comments from fans/readers of the day. Most of this material has been unseen anywhere for more than three decades. When the PARAGON books were originally circulated as a mail-order product sold through fanzine ads, they sold a ridiculously high number of copies-in some cases, more than a number of mainstream books sell today. Whoever bought the magazines back then must have liked them, since despite the fact that they sold in high volume, very few copies find their way onto the collector’s market; hence the inflated prices when they DO show up. Among regular AC fans and readers, few things have garnered more requests than a reprinting of the classic vintage material in this book. But that’s not all!! When Bill started AC Comics at the tail-end of 1982, virtually all of the PARAGON plotlines were “left hanging” and unfinished- even those relating to characters that showed up in AC continuity virtually untouched. This always bothered the Wild One, so especially for this volume, Bill teamed up with ace penciler Eric Coile to produce an ALL NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN 23-page story involving STARDUST, SYNN and the rest of the FEMFORCE in a contemporary tale that actually RESOLVES all of those old plotlines today!! A 2012-era PARAGON adventure!! Who else but Bill Black would take the time and effort to finish up stories more than thirty years old? As a personal aside, the PARAGON line is what inspired ME to attempt a career illustrating comics. Despite it’s long & successful run, AC Comics itself has never really lived up to the PARAGON standard, as none of us other than Bill ever REALLY got it right .The day-to-day demands of keeping a growing company running forced Bill to give up a major creative hand early on, leaving AC art & writing to us lesser lights. Get this book and see what AC should’ve been, had we all had the talent & vision of Bill Black. BIZARRE THRILLS: The PARAGON PUBLICATIONS story Volume One is 260 pages in black & white at 81/2″ X 11″ magazine size, with color covers and perfect-bound TPB binding. It was released in 2012.

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New AC Tee Shirts by Mark Heike

Americomics Tee shirt

Americomics Tee shirtAC comics is rapidly approaching it’s 30Th birthday (I know, we don’t look a DAY over 29) and as we ramp up for that celebration, we’re unveiling a “new” line of officially-licensed tee shirts. We say “new” in qoutation marks, as the initial designs are slightly-updated versions of actual vintage AC tees whose original releases date back almost to the dawn of the company itself. Their is the classic Americomics shirt, drawn by head honcho Bill Black and Mike Machlan, featuring The Darkshade, Bolt and “Captain” Paragon in his original costume; the awe-inspiring Darkshade solo, as illustrated by the late, great Rik Levins and uber-inker Kevin Dzuban; and the 1980’sMs. Victory Tee shirt Ms Victory, parodying the Superman “chest bursting chains” pose, with art by Mark Heike and Bill Black. You can check them all out at this AC TEES link. They are available for purchase right now, in your choice of size, shirt color and style. Prices vary upon which options you choose. Right now, this is a limited time offering. Depending on response, the line may be made available on a permanent basis, or possibly expanded to include other shirts. Of course, you can still buy an AC tee featuring Ms. V in her modern costume right here in the AC web shop, but quantities and Shade Tee shirtsize availability is limited to what we have left in stock.k them all out at this AC TEES link. They are available for purchase right now, in your choice of size, shirt color and style. Prices vary upon which options you choose. Right now, this is a limited time offering. Depending on response, the line may be made available on a permanent basis, or possibly expanded to include other shirts. Of course, you can still buy an AC tee featuring Ms. V in her modern costume right here in the AC web shop, but quantities and size availability is limited to what we have left in stock.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 14

Crypt of Horror Volume 14 cover art

Crypt of Horror Volume 14 cover artPrice: $29.95

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Steel yourself for another heaping helping of horror as the latest installment in the Crypt of Horror series is here, Volume 14!! No collector of vintage Pre-Code horror comics will want to miss this one. Behind a classic Warren Kremer cover you’ll find 18 full story reprints in superbly crisp black and white, including such classics as “The Spell of the Black Gloves”, “Cats of Doom”, “Corpse Convention”, “The Picnic”, “Evil Secret of Black Hollow”, “Vampire Bride”, “The Last Man”, “The Vampire Legion”, “The Specter’s Revenge”, “Vigil Among the Vampires”, “The Monster of Mad Mountain”, “Bum Ticker”, “Second Chance”, “The Deadly Doll of Horror”, “Mountain of Doom” and others. Art by such gruesome greats as Bob Powell, Al Avison, George Tuska, Tony Mortellaro, Charles Quinlan and Jack Kirby. Thrill to comic book frights of days gone by from publishers like ACG, Prize, Harvey and others, not since since originally published in the 1950’s. A full 140 pages of comics’ best from the horror genre. Color covers with black and white interiors, standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Released in 2012.

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Black Phantom: What’s in a Name? by Mark Holmes

What’s in a Name? A tale of the Black Phantom, in the old west.
by Mark Holmes

 

Prologue

Sheriff Gage and RedMask, of the Rio Grande the Southwest’s masked hero, had left town leading two posses  in opposite directions chasing down the Owlhoot gang which had just daringly robbed the Farmer’s Bank and the local Western Union station late last night. Black Phantom was chasing down a female bandit east of BulletArizona. With the peace officers and a good number of the town’s men folk gone, Bullet was practically unguarded.

 

Chapter 1

Rattlesnake Jake was a cruel little man. His six gun had twelve notches on the handle, one for every man he was paid to kill in a “fair” gunfight. Who knew how many had fallen from his gunfire in “unfair” shootings? It was known throughout the southwest that Rattlesnake Jake was faster than the reptile he got his name from.

He loved the name that eastern dime novelist gave him and wore it proudly. He wore rattlesnake skin boots, belt, vest and hatband. A large diamondback’s rattle hung off his watch chain. A six gun hung low on his leg. Jake had taken over the corner booth of the “Naked Spur” saloon in the town ofBullet,Arizona. There was no law in town to stop him from doing whatever he wanted.

Two dancehall girls with feathers in their hair, painted faces and threadbare fandango dresses sat on either side of him drinking warm champagne. The only difference between the two girls was that Claire had red hair and Flo had brown hair. They both talked while Rattlesnake Jake waited. That was the question running through town, who or what was Rattlesnake Jake waiting for?

 

A clear, piercing voice called out from the street.

“Rattlesnake Jake. I’m calling you out. If you claim to be a man, you will come out and meet me in the street right now.”

All noise in the saloon stopped. All eyes in the saloon turned to Jake.

“What the devil!” Jake looked up from the table and looked out the bat winged doors. “Who’s crazy enough to call me out?”

“Git outta my way girlie.” He roughly pushed the girl sitting to his left off her chair; she crashed into Sam the bartender who had a tray full of beers he was taking to some cowboys at the poker table. The girl, Sam and the beers all wound up in a heap on the floor.

The gunman paid them no mind; he got up and walked swiftly to the door and out into the street.

A figure stood in the middle ofMain Street. It was a woman, hardly more than a girl. She was Mexican.

Rattlesnake Jake could not believe his eyes. A girl called him out? He crossed his arms in front of his chest and sized her up, both as a woman and as an opponent.

She was short, maybe a hair over five feet tall with a classic hour glass figure. She was dressed all in black. Black leather riding boots and a black divided riding skirt with the hem well above the knee. The girl was brazen enough not to wear a blouse but her black gaucho vest was tied together at the front with a thin red ribbon stretched almost to the breaking point. A large sombrero with little furry balls hanging from the brim sat on her head, long dark hair spilled out over her shoulders. However the most interesting feature about her outfit was the black domino mask on her pretty face.

A very fancy Colt revolver hung from full hips.

“Just who do you think you are calling me out girlie?” Jake didn’t even wait for an answer. “Do you know who I am? Do you know why I’m here? I’m the fastest gun hand there is or ever will be. I’m here to shoot it out with RedMask. People say he’s the fastest but I know I’m faster. When I kill him my reputation will be solid. No one will ever come after me and I’ll do whatever I want.”

In perfect English with no accent the woman spoke. “I’m RedMask’s better; you will have to beat me first.”

“And just who the devil are you?”

“La Fantasma Negra.”

“I don’t speak Mex.”

Every witness who was there that day said the same thing. Rattlesnake Jack drew his gun first and had almost cleared his holster before the woman moved. She was inhumanly fast. Her gun appeared in her hand, the shot rang out and Rattlesnake Jake got bit. The bullet hit him dead center in his chest and Jake dropped his gun and fell to his knees. He looked up at the mere girl who had just shot him. Disbelief in his eyes.

“I’m the Black Phantom.”

She shot him again, right between the eyes.

 

Chapter 2

Big Mike O’Shay was a strange name for a woman. She wasn’t tall or husky or fat by any stretch of the imagination, a feature that would earn a man the nickname “Big.” She was abnormally strong for a woman her size; years of farm work back inKansaswould have broken most girls. Not having any sons, her father treated her more like a plow horse than a daughter and he called her Mike. She was called “Big” because she was extremely well endowed. A family trait handed down from mother to daughter. A fact Big Mike hated. They were big, heavy and they got in the way. When she was younger Mike used to bind her chest with a long piece of silk she came across to try and make herself look like other girls. It didn’t work and it hurt anyway.

One day when she was 18, years after her mother had passed away, Mike and her father were in town getting supplies when a lady from the dress shop noticed her. The lady took her away from her father and brought her into her shop. She fitted her with a corset and presented her back to her father who was waiting outside the dress shop. Mike had never been happier; at last she was being treated like a girl!

Mister O’Shay was furious when the lady asked for two dollars for the corset. He tore Mike’s shirt off and cut the corset off with his bowie knife. Mike covered her chest as best she could as Mister O’Shay picked her up and threw her into the buck board. They drove out of town.

The town marshal rode out to the O’Shay farm that night to check on Mike and see about the money for the corset. He had a package from the dress shop addressed to Mike.

The marshal found Mister O’Shay in a pool of his own blood, his bowie knife buried to the hilt in his chest.

Big Mike was nowhere to be found.

Years later, stories floated around the west of a hard looking woman who called herself Big Mike who travelled on the wrong side of the law. She robbed and killed men.

 

Big Mike O’Shay had just bent over to pick up the dusty man’s poke. On her command at gunpoint he had just tossed it to her feet. She noticed him gawking as he looked down the front of her dirty, low cut dress.

“Get a good look Saddle Tramp it’ll be the last thing you see.”

The slim drifter was called Uncle Jack, also known throughout the west as the Saddle Tramp, he had left home to fight in the Mexican war back in the 1850’s and never came back. He had a restless foot and could never stay in one place to long. He looked weather beaten and lean. A couple of days beard growth did not cover the scar on his cheek. A shining brass bugle hung from a braided rope on his left hip. Living day to day he traveled from farm to ranch to mining camp to town. Working just enough to get a stake he would then move on. An old lever rifle, saddle and broke Indian pony were his only possessions.

Big Mike cocked her gun, a big Remington cap and ball revolver and leveled it at the saddle tramp. She smiled.

“This’ll teach you to stare.”

From the shadows off the side of the trail a shot rang out and Big Mike’s gun flew out of her hand. Both Big Mike and Uncle Jack spun their heads and looked into the shadows. A figure separated itself from the rock face.

“If ya put your melons on a shelf, don’t you think a starving man’s gonna at least look?”  It was a woman’s voice.

The shooter stepped into the sunlight. Dressed all in black she cut quite a figure. Tight black riding pants were tucked into high heeled Mexican boots; she had neglected to button up her black silk blouse and didn’t seem to mind. A black hat did little to contain long wavy blonde hair. Her gun belt sat on her hips below her wasp waist. The saddle tramp noticed her black domino mask.

“Oh Lord, it’s another pretty lady bandit! What kind of day is this?”

“Relax Mister; I’m on the right side of the law. I ride with RedMask. I’ve been chasing this here trouble maker for two weeks now. Ever since we got word a female bandit was holding up travelers on this here stretch of road.”

Big Mike was massaging her right hand with her left when she spoke up.

“Just who are you.”

“You can call me the Black Phantom.”

Keeping her gun leveled on Big Mike she walked on to the road.

 

 

Chapter 3

La Fantasma Negra had taken over the same booth Rattlesnake Jake had been using. If Jake had been described as cruel, La Fantasma Negra was worse. Waving her gun around her, she chased all the men out of the saloon after firing a shot at a gamblers top hat.

“Not you cowboy;” She singled out a young cowhand.” You are pretty, stay with me.”

“Yes ‘um” was the only thing he could mutter.

The girl cleaned out the cash box behind the bar and shot Sam the bartender high in the left shoulder when he objected.

“What’s your name handsome?”

“Clem.”

“Well Clem, see that painted Jezebel there, she does not stand up straight. Tie a rope around her hands and throw the end over that rafter and pull her up until she stands straight.”

“Yes ’um.” Was all he could say again and he did what he was told. Claire, the red head was pulled up straight until her toes barely touched the floor. Clem tied the loose end to the bar rail.

La Fantasma Negra turned her attention to Flo.

“You go make my supper, and be quick about it or I’ll take my whip to you.”

Flo actually curtsied like she was taught as a little girl back inGeorgia.

“Yes Ma’am, right away.”

 

Chapter 4

The Black Phantom tossed a pair of handcuffs to Uncle Jack.

“Put ‘em on her mister, I got her covered.”

“Name’s Uncle Jack Miss and I’m much obliged for your fancy shooting there.”

Big Mike slowly shifted her position and Uncle Jack unknowingly stepped between the Black Phantom and Big Mike. She held her hands out to be cuffed and then quickly charged Uncle Jack. The unexpected rush knocked Uncle Jack off balance and he fell towards the Black Phantom knocking her gun down. Big Mike pushed the advantage and shoved the off balance drifter into the masked girl. They bumped bodies and Uncle Jack fell hard hitting his head on an exposed rock knocking him senseless. The Phantom landed on her backside, legs in the air. She tried to level her gun at Big Mike but the outlaw hiked up her skirt and kicked the gun out of the Phantom’s hand.

The masked girl kicked out herself and caught the outlaws planted leg in the calf. Big Mike went down.

Both girls crab walked away from each other and regained their feet.

Outlaw and former outlaw now reformed circled each other looking for and opening. Each was unarmed, each ready to strike when the opportunity presented itself.

The Black Phantom did not like to fist fight, she was not very good at it. RedMask had taught her how to punch hard and fast, then back away. The Phantom continued to circle, suddenly a bright  light hit Big Mike in the eyes and she blinked. The Black Phantom punched hard and fast, just like RedMask taught her! Big Mike’s eyes rolled up in her sockets and a stupid smile formed on her face. She dropped to her knees and started to sway. She finally gave up her struggle and went down, laid out flat on her back.

Uncle Jack slowly got up. His shiny bugle, which he had used to reflect the sunlight into Big Mike’s eyes, was in one hand and was rubbing his head with the other.

“Sorry about that Black Phantom, guess I got stunned for a minute when I went down. Clumsy of me to get in the way like that, I never guessed a woman could be so mean and ornery.”

The Black Phantom was brushing the dust off her backside.

“That’s okay; I had my gun on her and was dumb enough to get close enough for her to get at me. Nice use of the bugle, gave me the opening I needed.” She retrieved her gun and checked it carefully.

The Black Phantom smiled.”Well that’s all in the past, I think we better hog tie this kitty here and you can get her back to town. There is a reward on her and you deserve it Uncle Jack, you helped me catch her. I pack a badge now, I can’t accept a reward, shouldn’t let it go to waste. I’ll get my horse, he’s around the bend.”

Uncle Jack got his rope and tied her hands behind her back. He threw a couple of loops around her body and then tied her ankles together. By the time the Black Phantom returned with her horse Uncle Jack had already laid Big Mike across the saddle of her own horse, legs hanging off one side  and head off the other.

“Looks like you’ve done this before. You might want to use your neckerchief to gag her, when she comes too I’m sure you’ll hear an earful.”

The Black Phantom sized up Uncle Jack’s horse, a black and white Indian pony.

“With your reward money you can buy yourself a better horse.”

“Ol’ Crowbait here might not be as big and fast as your white stallion Black Phantom but she’ll go twenty miles further than your horse before she’ll quit.”

The Phantom tipped her hat.

“My apologies to Crowbait.  Tell the sheriff I’m headed back to BulletArizona, you can look me up if you’re ever in town.” With a quick wave the Black Phantom rode off to the west, towards home.

 

 

 

Chapter 5

A dozen townsfolk greeted the Black Phantom when she rode into Bullet. A dozen times she heard the story of the fast draw shooting of Rattlesnake Jake and the takeover of the saloon.

“….and she called herself ‘the Black Phantom!’”

“Some dark haired hussy took my name once before during the shooting contest awhile back and I let her off easy. I wonder if it’s the same girl. Looks like I’m going to have to teach this one a lesson in manners. “Is she still in the saloon?”

“As far as we know Miss Phantom.” The livery boy replied.

The real Black Phantom put her heels to her horse; she never wore spurs, and charged down the street towards the center of town.

Pulling up in front of the saloon the masked girl lightly jumped off her still moving horse and landed on her feet. Two steps brought her to the sidewalk; two more brought her to the batwing doors. She pushed them apart and boldly strode into the saloon. An unconscious Claire still hung from the rafter, Joe had passed out from blood loss and a beaten Flo lay on the floor sobbing. La Fantasma Negra was nowhere to be seen. The masked blonde had a sister who was a saloon girl and she had a soft spot for other women in that profession. Pulling her knife from her boot the Phantom put one arm around Claire and with one swipe of the razor sharp knife she cut the rope and gently lowered the girl to the floor.  After checking on Sam and Flo she spun around and left the saloon the same way she came in. A small crowd had gathered outside.

The Phantom pointed at a young boy, “Tommy, go get the Doc and bring him here.” A quick nod and the boy ran off. She turned to a group of three women. “If you ladies could take care of Joe and the girls inside until the Doc gets here.” Normally the older women in town had no time for the Black Phantom, however now they rushed into the saloon, eager to help in any way.

“All right where is she?”

The question needed no answer. Across the street, La Fantasma Negra had just stepped out of the dress shop, Clem right behind her carrying an armload of dresses. She called out to the Black Phantom.

“Well, well, well if it isn’t the town hag! The slop buckets need cleaning, why don’t you attend to it.” The Mexican girl had an evil grin on her face.

The Black Phantom wasted no time; she went across the street and walked right up to girl who took her name.

“There is only room in the west for one Black Phantom.”

The two women stared at each other, face to face, chest to chest, toe to toe; right hands over pistol grips.

“The Black Phantom is known throughout the southwest andMexicoas a bandit Queen. That might have been you in the past. Now is the time of La Fantasma Negra, The new Black Phantom!”

The Mexican girl was fast, incredibly fast. Faster than the Black Phantom! Her gun had cleared her holster before the blonde’s was even loose. The Phantom lunged at her dark haired opponent and batted the gun away, in the scuffle her gun was knocked loose also. The two girls wrestled with each other as they fell to the ground and rolled in the dirt ofMain Street. Scratching with fingernails, pulling hair, tearing at clothes, the town’s people on the street just watched the battle in awe and silence. La Fantasma Negra kneed the Phantom in the side. The Phantom countered with a chop to the neck.

They managed to break apart and each girl regained her feet. The bandit pulled herself up a hitching rail, the former bandit stood up by a water trough.

Clem had brought his and La Fantasma Negra’s horses up to the fight.

“Come on honey, let’s get outta here!”

“Just a minute handsome.” She ran over to the Black Phantom and quickly punched her in the gut doubling her over. A quick combination right and left knocked the masked blonde off her feet and into the water trough. Arms and legs akimbo she went under the water for a second or ten. Regaining her senses and half drowned she sat upright and spit a mouthful of water out. Just in time to see La Fantasma Negra kick the Phantom’s gun into a mud puddle and grind it in deep with her boot heel. “If you ever want to shoot it out with someone faster than you come after me old woman. There is a new bandit queen and her name is La Fantasma Negra. The new Black Phantom! You are all washed up.” The masked Mexican mounted her horse and rode out of town laughing all the way. Clem followed close behind.

 

Chapter6

The Black Phantom tried to get out of the trough but slipped and fell back in. Several men rushed over and helped her out. Her silk blouse clung to her body like a second skin leaving little the imagination.

“Thank ya kindly fellas, I’m alright now.”

A slick dude with slicked back hair produced a key.

“My dear lady, may I offer the services of my humble room for you to get out of those wet clothes and dry off properly?”

The soaked girl looked right at him. With her wet hair hanging in her face she had the look of a savage.

“You may offer me your pistol, I don’t have time to dry off, I have to ride after that RANNIE!”

The dude pulled a small derringer from his vest pocket a held it out in his palm.

The Phantom blew the hair away from her face and laughed when she saw the derringer.

“I said a pistol not a pop gun.” She ignored the offering and dismissed the dude. The small crowd parted as a teenage girl in pigtails girl brought the Phantom’s muddy pistol to her.

“Here’s your pistol Miss Phantom. My daddy says its bad business to have a dirty gun.”

The Black Phantom took back her prize nickel plated Colt 45 that RedMask had given her after the Governor paroled her for being a model prisoner. She looked it over carefully.

“You’re Daddy is right Janie.” Settling in Bullet after her parole the Black Phantom tried to get to know all the town’s citizens by name. The young people had accepted her as did most of the men; the young women and ladies resented her very presence more than they did the saloon girls and other “loose” women.

“Not a proper young lady.” Was the phrase most often heard.

“Do me a favor Janie, take my pistol to Mr. Jorgenson’s and ask him to fix it up for me. Tell him I’ll pick it up when I get back.”

“Anything for you Miss Phantom!” The girl smiled and ran off to the Swedish gunsmith’s shop.

A cow poke gave her back her black Stetson lost in the fight. She eyed up his gun belt and his new pistol. She didn’t recognize the guy.

The Black Phantom was not a flirt by nature, not like her identical twin sister Jacinta, however she could turn on the charm when she had to. She slowly shook her head and swept her hair back. She smiled at the stranger.

“Say cowboy, that’s a mighty fine looking shootin’ iron ya got there, Can I borrow it for a little while, I’ll make it worth your while when I get back.” The wet girl winked at him.

Without saying a word the cowboy drew his gun and handed it to her, butt first.

The Phantom took the gun, twirled it twice and dropped it into her holster. It did not fit properly.

“I’m off to get that hussy!” With a swoosh the girl ran across the street and fairly leapt on to her horse. The horse reared back on its hind legs and they took off after the Mexican lady bandit calling herself the Black Phantom.

A dirty miner turned to the weaponless cowboy.

“Howdy! A date with the Black Phantom, you are one lucky sonnofagun.”

“Maybe I should have told her that gun is .41 caliber and it’s only got two shells in it?”

 

Chapter 7

The new so called Queen of the Bandits and her handsome cowboy side kick Clem lit out of Bullet so fast they forgot to get supplies for the trail.

That was their first mistake.

Slowing down to look for a side trail to a nearby farm to raid was their second mistake.

Picking the farm of the Jonah sisters was their third mistake.

The Jonah sisters, Jen and Jan were two of the most beautiful farmer’s daughters a traveling salesman was ever going to meet. They were both beautiful in their own right. Long brown hair, tanned skin, pretty faces, they both liked to wear cap sleeved low cut tops. One might think that in a territory with a ten to one male to female ratio every available bachelor would be beating a trail to the door. You might think that, however the fellahs rarely come to call.

The Jonah sisters were looking to elevate their station, and marriage was the way to do it.  Most men that came calling were cowboys or miners or dirt farmers. In other words, they were poor. The Jonah sisters were looking for a man with money or at least with the prospects to acquire large amounts of money.

So when a regular guy came a courting’ he was usually chased away with shotgun fire.

The Jonah sister’s also liked to shoot.

So when La Fantasma Negra and Clem approached the Jonah’s little farm house and she announced herself; “I am the Black Phantom, come out of the house or I will burn it to the ground.” They were met with a shout of “Go to Hell!” and four blasts from two double barreled shotguns.

Fourth mistake: The Jonah sisters were friends with the real Black Phantom.

One evening about a month ago the Black Phantom chased off a gang of bad hats who had besieged the farm house looking for easy prey. Jen and Jan never forget or forgave a debt.

The masked bandit was not hit by the gun fire but was so startled she fell off her horse ducking to get out of the way. Clem a little further away jumped off his horse and grabbed his partner by the hair and dragged her behind a convenient boulder before the farm girls could reload.

La Fantasma Negra was screaming at Clem and she was just about to slap him when another shot gun blast peppered the boulder.

“Sorry honey, it was the fastest way to get you behind cover.”

“It is alright handsome,” she smiled and tried to fix her hair with her hands. “You did the right thing.” She slapped him right across the face. “Just don’t ever do it again. This place is too hot to handle, how do we get out of here?”

Clem was a tough kid and quickly recovered from that little love tap. He also was not stupid.

“Well honey, if we keep this here boulder between us and the house we can pick up our horses and get right back on the trail and find an easier farm to pluck.”

“Good looking and brains too, sounds like a plan. Let’s go.” The girl took a second to adjust her mask. Then she saw a powerful white stallion charging right at her and Clem. The Black Phantom dove off her horse and tackled the bandit girl. Clem jumped away to keep the stallion from running him over.

The Phantom landed on top of her nemesis and punched her twice. A pistol shot rang out and the blonde girl felt and heard a bullet fly by her ear.

Clem may have been handsome, strong and smart but he was not a good shot. He started to close the gap to get closer so he could shoot the masked woman in black off his masked woman in black.

Another shot gun blast came from the farmhouse and all three fighters scrambled for cover.

The Black Phantom found herself behind a small structure; from the stench she realized it was the outhouse, a “two holer” as a matter of fact.

She saw Clem ducking behind a wood pile; the Phantom quick drew and fired two shots at him just to keep him honest. To her right she caught a glimpse of La Fantasma Negra, still behind the big boulder and taking very careful aim at the farmhouse with her pistol.

“She must be waiting for a shot at one of the Jonah girls.”  The Phantom thought. She swung her pistol around and pulled the trigger, intending to shoot the pistol out of the bandit girl’s hand. CLICK. The hammer fell on an empty chamber.

“How dumb can I be not checking a gun before I use it!” she mumbled while she went through the reloading routine. Hammer back to half cock. Open loading gate. Tilt pistol up and use ejector rod to push out spent cartridges, all six. Slip fresh cartridge from gun belt into cylinder. It doesn’t fit. She realized that this Colt was a .41 caliber.

The Phantom stood up and threw the useless hunk of iron at the bad girl and caught her with a glancing blow on the head. She intended to charge out from behind the outhouse and finish the job with her bare hands.

Clem came up behind her and buffaloed her with his pistol butt. The Black Phantom was knocked out and dropped to the ground like a very pretty sack of potatoes. Clem leveled his gun on the Black Phantom intending to shoot her point blank. A shotgun blast from the farm house hit the top of the outhouse and blew a big chunk off the roof. Clem knew it was time to get out of there. He bent over and ran to the stunned dark haired girl, he picked her up like she weighed nothing and ran towards the trail and their waiting horses.

About a minute later Jen and Jan Jonah came out of the farmhouse cradling their shotguns. They ran up to the Black Phantom who had not stirred.

The Black Phantom came to lying on the mattress of a four poster bed in the bedroom of the farmhouse. She was completely naked under a clean white sheet. Her hands went to her face, her mask was still there.

The Black Phantom once wore a mask to disguise herself during her former career as a bandit. She had made a lot of enemies on both sides of the law. Now as a paroled peace officer she continues to wear the mask to protect her identical twin sister Jacinta from retribution should her identity ever become publicly known.

Jen was in the room finishing up a sewing job on the Phantoms blouse; Jan had just entered with her freshly laundered riding pants.

“It’s good to see you wake up sleepy head! It’s tomorrow morning already.”

The Phantom sat straight up letting the sheet fall.

“What! That hussy got away again. Have I got a score to settle with her and when I catch up with Clem, he better watch his backside.”

“Sorry we couldn’t be more help, our shotguns were accidentally loaded with bird shot or we would have finished off those two before you showed up. Jan finally loaded up some deer shot for that last volley when they ran away.”

“My fault too, what kind of man carries a .41 caliber pistol with only two bullets in it?”

 

Chapter 8

“Hope you catch those two.” The Jonah girls waved as the Black Phantom started to ride off.

“Hope you find those rich husbands you’re looking for.”  The Phantom waved back.

“We only need one, we are Mormons you know!”

The Black Phantom was not an expert tracker like some Indians she knew but she was good at it. It didn’t hurt that Clem’s big bronco had a large cut in one shoe either.

The outlaw pair was heading east towardsTexasfor some reason and she was hot on their trail. More than half a day was wasted in the Jonah sister’s bed but she figured that her prey had to hunker down for the night also and if they had gotten distracted last night or a late start this morning she might be only a couple of hours behind them. Her powerful horse was game and more than willing to gallop and chew up the miles between the hunter and the hunted.

Traveling at a steady clip the Phantom once again had a good Colt six gun in her holster. Jen Jonah had given up her father’s for the cause. This gun had been cleaned and checked thoroughly and was the same caliber as her nickel plated 45. The Black Phantom was confident that their next encounter would be their last.

Late in the afternoon she overtook them.

A large herd of wild mustang ponies was bottled up at a choke point in a tight rock canyon. La Fantasma Negra had a long bull whip out and was using it to clear a path through the herd. Clem was right behind her thinking what a legal fortune he could be making if he and some of the boys he used to ride with rounded up these free range horses and sold them to the army or started a ranch of his own. Oh well, he had thrown in with the Bandit Queen and had decided to go down that road.

The cracking of the whip echoed throughout the small valley making it sound like there was more than one whip being used.

The Black Phantom unlimbered her own whip, a holdover from her cattle rustling days. She enjoyed the tool for its multitude of uses. From handling a team of horses to fending off an angry mob chasing you after you liberated their money from a bank. Just two examples of what a whip was good for. Teaching that brunette hussy a lesson was another.

She waited for the right moment and cracked it high in the air sending a clear message to the outlaw couple, “I’m here!”

La Fantasma Negra turned in her saddle when she heard the other whip and its echo. A cruel smile formed on her face. She turned her horse back towards and facing her pursuer. The two masked women started making their way towards each other, their whips cracking and echoing and cracking again.  They were just within striking range when a wild mustang cut between them forcing the two apart. The two whips lashed out and cracked at the same time.

The herd of horses had had enough and scattered to the four winds taking Clem along with it. Both women had some trouble with their own horses until the stampede had cleared away all the wild ponies.

When the path was clear the whip wielding girls charged at each other; each one leaning forward to try to get the first lick in. It didn’t happen. Whips don’t work at close range. The horses collided with each other. The dark haired girl used her whip handle to strike a blow at the Phantom. The blonde popped her foot out of her stirrup and jabbed her heel into the other’s exposed thigh. They broke apart, both fighters started to wind up for a shot at the other. They both lashed out. The Phantom ducked just in time as La Fantasma Negra’s whip took her hat off her head. The bandit had no need to duck, the Phantom deliberately struck at the other horse’s rump. Feeling the whip bite the big black charger reared up and threw it’s rider to the ground. The girl hit and rolled and quickly regained her feet. Her horse had run off. It was now the Black Phantom’s turn to smile.

She brought her horse around and lashed out at La Fantasma Negra. From horseback the Phantom had the advantage; however the girl on the ground could counter with two strikes for every one the Phantom dished out. The whips cracked again and again. The Bandit Queen had maneuvered to the rocks and slipped between two boulders. On horseback the Phantom could not get to her. She leapt off her horse and landed on her feet and pursued her on foot. The rocky ground proved to be no hindrance to the high heeled girl. She was normally light on her feet and well balanced. The blonde chased the raven hair into a small clearing. Both women struck at each other. The whips danced with each other as each girl was stung several times. Wrist, arm, thigh, and belly the mutual whipping was beginning to take its toll on the opponents. La Fantasma Negra caught the Black Phantom sideways and landed a shot on her backside causing the girl to yelp. The Phantom responded by flicking her whip at the other woman’s torso. La Fantasma Negra leaned back and watched as the whip severed the ribbon that held her vest together.

The Phantom took a moment and laughed out loud at the other girl’s state of undress. Her skirt was now no better than a rag and her vest would never cover her charms again. The Phantom’s blouse and pants were in no better shape but she didn’t care.

The two women stared at each other. La Fantasma Negra shifted her whip to her left hand and let her right hover over her gun butt. The Phantom did the same. They both fully intended to finish it right there.

Several gunshots came from an opening in the boulder field as a small group of the herd of wild mustangs charged at the two women. Clem had been busy; he had used his skill as a cowboy to gather a bunch of horses together and forced them into the ravine. He had fired five shots into the air to get them running and tossed a shot at the Phantom. The bullet caught her in the left arm; she spun around and dropped to the ground. Clem rode up to La Fantasma Negra and he pulled her up onto his saddle. They turned around and rode off the way he came in.

The Black Phantom got up and drew her gun, it would be a long shot against a moving target but she was incredibly accurate.

There was a time when the Black Phantom would have shot La Fantasma Negra in the back and killed her. She was not that person anymore.

“I’ll get you next time.”

 

Chapter 9

.

The Black Phantom was hot on the trail of La Fantasma Negra and Clem. She smelled the smoke long before she came up on the campsite. She lightly slipped off her horse and drew her pistol. Moving slowly she approached the camp ready for anything.

She saw Crowbait tethered to a tree and two more steps brought Uncle Jack, sitting against another tree with his blanket by his side into view.

“Hello the camp.  Uncle Jack, it’s me, the Black Phantom.”

Uncle Jack took the surprise of a masked girl wearing a little more than rags walking into his camp quite well.

“Well, howdy Black Phantom. Fancy meeting a pretty thing like you out here in the middle of nowhere. Sit down and have some left over rabbit and coffee. It’s just me, Crowbait and Winnie here anyway.”

“Winnie? Have you got a girl out here somewhere?”

Uncle Jack flipped a fold of the blanket over revealing hisWinchesterrifle.

“May I introduce Winnie?”

The girl took her black duster out of her saddle bag and slipped it on over her shoulders, ignoring the sleeves. She also retrieved her coffee cup and helped herself to a strong black brew.

The man and girl ate and talked, the Phantom told of her encounters with her nemesis, the girl who was bold enough to take her name. The older man talked about turning Big Mike in, he had kept her Remington as a souvenir and now wore it in a cross draw rig whenever he was in a town. He also spoke of his reward money and how for the first time in his life he was thinking of going to find a wife and settling down.

“Well don’t even look at me,” The Phantom flashed a smile, “I’m not ready to settle down. Besides I have my eye on another fellah already.”

“You’ve been favoring that left arm that feller shot, let me look at it.”

The Phantom slid over to Uncle Jack’s side and slipped the duster off her left shoulder,

“It’s a pretty bad crease. Lucky that jasper can’t shoot straight. I’ll wrap it up anyway, don’t want it to get dirty.” Uncle Jack pulled a dry neckerchief out of his pocket. The girl noticed something else fall out of his pocket and snatched it up.

“What’s this?”

“It’s nothing.” Uncle Jack said.

She held the medal up to the fire light and read the inscription.

“Why this is a Congressional Medal of Honor! Did you win this in the war?”

“I’d rather not talk about it, Can I have it back please.” It was more of an order than a question. The awe struck girl handed the medal back to the man known as the Saddle Tramp.

He cut away what was left of her ragged sleeve and washed the wound out with some water from his canteen. He then loosely wrapped the neckerchief around her arm.

“What do you say about getting some shut eye and the two of us chase down that pair of bad hats tomorrow, I’ll bet they are heading to Dry Bean.”

The Black Phantom slipped her duster back on over her shoulder.

“Dry Bean?”

The Saddle Tramp was already asleep.

 

Chapter 10

The ghost town of Dry Bean sat in the dry hills on the border ofTexas. It only took a year for a rumor of silver in the nearby hills to bring prospectors and miners to the area. A small town quickly was built to service the mines. About a dozen buildings lined the one street. A general store was at one end and a livery stable at the other. A hotel, assay office, hardware store, gambling house and a few other buildings were also quickly built. The silver turned out to be a rumor and the town went bust. Now it was empty save for the outlaw group that was hiding out in the town.

After robbing the bank and telegraph office back in Bullet, the OwlHoot gang split up and went in different directions. Traveling fast and light, Lou the brains of the gang, Frank the pistolero, and Sally; known as Lou’s girl, lost the posse led by Sherriff Ben Gage and headed for Dry Bean. When in a couple of days they hoped to rendezvous with the other half of the gang, which had taken a longer route, and split the money.

Having a saddle bag of full bank money kept their spirits high. They were fully confident they were going to get away scot free.

The three bank robbers set up housekeeping in the Dance Hall Saloon and Theatre, right in the center of town. Sally, a pretty gal who liked wearing off the shoulder Mexican style dresses, was upstairs sitting on the terrace when she first saw the figures.

As a girl she dreamed of going west toCalifornia, finding gold and becoming rich. She made it as far asTexaswhen she met Lou and Frank. Lou was a handsome devil and had charmed Sally with slick talk and lots of cash. It didn’t bother her one bit that Lou led a gang of bandits and that his best friend Frank was a cold blooded killer.

A moment later she saw it was a man and a woman riding into town. The man looked like any other fellah you might meet on the trail, however the woman was different. Dressed in black rags and a black hat and wearing a black mask. Sally knew who had just ridden into town.

“Lou! Frank! We’re in trouble.” She called out as she ran out of her room and ran down the stairs.”The Black Phantom just rode into town.”

“Is RedMask with her?” Lou looked up from his game of solitaire.

“No, just some regular fellah.”

“I ain’t afraid of no girl.” Frank came out from behind the curtain of the deceptively large stage, his pistol already out of his holster. “I’m going to meet her in the street and put another notch on my gun butt.”

Sally picked up her sawed off shotgun from the bar.

“Don’t be a fool Frank! Let ‘em ride through town.” Lou said.

“Listen to Lou, Frank. No need to borrow trouble with all this bank money we have.” Sally added.

La Fantazma Negra and Clem had found the town ofDry Beanand were hoping for some rest. They had spent a cold, sleepless night with no fire thinking the real Black Phantom would come charging into their camp and make another attempt to get her revenge.

Not having encountered any trouble last night they quietly assumed they had lost their pursuer in the dark.

The outlaw pair rode into town, down the deserted street and dismounted in front of the saloon.

La Fantazma Negra, adjusted her vest for the tenth time this morning. She was in a bad mood. The rawhide thong she was using to replace her pretty red ribbon the Black Phantom had cut with her whip yesterday was irritating her sensitive flesh. They went inside. The first floor was large and mostly empty, a couple of tables here and there. A long bar hugged the left side and a elevated stage was in the far corner. Two opera style balconies looked out over either side of the stage.

“Why that ain’t the Black Phantom. Everybody knows the Black Phantom has yellow colored hair. This is just some gal wearing a mask.”

The masked girl spun about, Clem turned also. She sized up the two men and the girl with the shotgun. The three had come out from behind the curtain.

“I am the Black Phantom and I know who you three are also. You are part of the OwlHoot gang that raided Bullet the other day. You beat me to the bank money and I was forced to amuse myself in other ways.”

“Like I said you ain’t the Black Phantom.” Frank called out again.

“Yeah, who are you really; we’ll put it on your tombstone.” Lou spoke up.

“La Fantazma Negra!” She drew her gun, almost faster than the eye could follow. One bullet caught Frank high in the chest; he spun around and fell down dead. Fanning her gun, she put two bullets into Lou who doubled over and dropped dead also. Neither man had cleared his gun from his holster.

The masked female gunslinger slowly walked across the floor, up the three steps and right on to the stage. She circled around Sally who just stood there dumbfounded. “That is a pretty blouse you are wearing, drop the scatter gun and give it to me.”

Sally did what she was told then covered her chest with her hands.  La Fantazma Negra untied the rawhide thong and took off her vest and slipped on Sally’s blouse.

“Your skirt is to long; can you find me a shorter one?”

Sally nodded.

“Get it and bring it to me and then show Clem where the bank money is.”

“Yes Ma’am.” Sally turned away to leave the stage.

The bandit queen grabbed Sally by the hair and jerked her back.

“Then put on a pretty dress, Clem likes girls in pretty dresses. Don’t you honey?”

“You bet cha!”

 

From the right balcony, hunkered down, the Black Phantom and Uncle Jack had watched everything.

“Let’s go downstairs Uncle Jack, shows over anyway.”

“That’s the fastest draw I’ve ever seen in my life.” Uncle Jack muttered quietly.

 

Chapter 11

After talking with Uncle Jack early in the morning, the Black Phantom had changed her strategy. She had tried the direct approach the last few encounters with La Fantazma Negra and had almost lost her life a couple of times. This time she had gambled and struck out on a short cut to Dry Bean that Uncle Jack knew about. They had scouted out the town and discovered the OwlHoots early. They entered the saloon via the back stairs and hid in the balcony to keep watch over the desperados. Slipping out the way they came in they made their way around front and practiced a little horse thievery. The Saddle Tramp shushed Clem’s horse and led him away from the hitching rail. The Black Phantom had a little more trouble with the Bandit Queen’s more feisty horse.

The black Mexican charger snorted, neighed and kicked around as the Phantom tried to calm him. The horse, unfamiliar with this new woman finally reared up on his hind legs and tried to stomp the blonde girl.

The Black Phantom backed off but held on to the reins.

Clem and Sally, now wearing a saloon gal’s dress, came outside to see what the fuss was about.

“Honey! The Black Phantom is trying to steal our horses.” He drew his pistol and fired a couple of shots at the girl struggling with the half wild horse.

The Phantom let go of the reigns of the bucking horse and drew her own pistol. She was completely without cover in the middle of the street. Firing a couple of shots high just to keep Clem honest, she started running and zig zagging across the street.

From behind a water barrel, Clem was taking careful aim when he caught a bullet in the chest!

Uncle Jack lowered his smoking rifle which he had named Winnie. He quickly ran across the street and followed the Black Phantom as a hail of bullets from La Fantazma Negra chased them into the Assay office.

The Black Phantom was slumped against a cold pot bellied stove.

“Are you hit?”

“No, but I think my arm wound opened up again.”

“Take off your duster and let me look at it.”

The Phantom slipped off her duster. Uncle Jack refitted the blood soaked bandanna.

“Hey Blondie! I’m calling you out. Come out side and meet me in the street and we’ll finish this once and for all.”

“Give me a minute to reload my pistol and I’ll oblige you.” The Phantom called back.

Uncle Jack took the pistol out of the bleeding girl’s hand and reloaded for her.

“That spitfire is faster than the devil, do you think you can take her?”

The girl shrugged her shoulders and winced with the pain.

“Hang my duster over my left shoulder; I don’t want her to see my bloody bandage.”

From outside: “Send your boyfriend out first without his rifle. I have no hard feelings about him shooting Clem. He was about to throw me over for this painted Jezebel anyway. I’ll be on the west side of the street.”

“Go ahead Uncle Jack; she’s always fought me fair. Clem was the one that bushwhacked me all those times.”

“She’ll have the sun at her back.”

“Big deal.”

The Saddle Tramp stepped outside a surveyed the street. Sally was across the way in front of the saloon, La Fantazma Negra was down the road apiece, maybe 50 yards. He relayed this information inside.

The Black Phantom stepped out into the street. Her entire left side of her body was covered by her duster. Her right thumb was hooked on her belt buckle. Her pistol hung on her hip. She walked to the middle of the street and turned west. The setting sun silhouetted the other girl. Uncle Jack was right, she was about 50 yards away, too far for an accurate pistol shot.

“Once we get in range let’s start shooting.” The dark haired girl called out.

“I’m already in range.” The Black Phantom shrugged off her duster. She brought Uncle Jack’s rifle up to her shoulder, sighted and fired. The bullet hit La Fantasma Negra right in the holster ricocheting off her pistol. The Phantom worked the lever and shot again. This time the pistol went flying out of the torn holster.  Taking aim, she shot again. The bandit queen’s sombrero flew off her head. The Phantom shot it again before it hit the ground. She tossed the rifle to Uncle Jack who caught it with one hand.

The Black Phantom covered the ground between the two girls quickly. To her credit the outlaw girl had stood her ground. Ten feet now separated them. The Phantom quick drew and fired. She shot off the other girl’s boot heel. The bandit was off balance. The Phantom spun twirled her pistol and holstered it. She quick drew again and shot the other boot heel off. La Fantama Negra fell backwards and landed on her rump. Sally and Uncle Jack had walked up and stood on either side of the girl on the ground.

“What’s my name?”

“The Black Phantom.”

“And what’s yours?”

“Delores Bustamonte.”

“You know Uncle Jack, when you turn in these two gals and get the reward money from the bank you’ll be a rich man.”

“Maybe I will find a wife and settle down.”

The Black Phantom smiled.

“I know a pair of sisters you might want to meet.”

 

 

Epilogue:

The Black Phantom had returned to BulletArizonaand was walking downMain Streetwhen a cowboy approached her, hat in hand.

“Miss Phantom, do you remember me? I lent you my pistol when you went after that bad girl back when.”

“Hold on their partner, with an empty gun, you don’t have a shot with me.”

She had just noticed RedMask singlehandedly bringing in the rest of the OwlHoot gang.

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Bizarre Thrills TPB BACK IN STOCK!! by Mark Heike

Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Pubs Story back cover art

 Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Pubs Story back cover artBACK IN STOCK AND AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ON THE AC WEB SHOP NOW!! We KNEW that the new BIZARRE THRILLS: The Publications Story TPB was a very cool book, filled with rarely-seen, historically-important early Bill Black stories and art. We knew long-time fans, completists and afficionados would love it. We knew it would likely sell well. But even WE didn’t expect it to sell THIS well! Customer activity on the AC shop purchasing this book has been virtually unprecedented. We thought we’d printed enough of an overage when we went to press with it to accomodate demand for some time, but we underestimated!! Now, if you placed your advance-order for this book with your comic book retailer months ago when it was in Diamond  Previews, not to worry. All preordered Diamond copies went out, and it will simply be a matter of time before the book works its’ way through the Diamond system and Bizarre Thrills inside front cover artmakes it to your retailer. If you comic shop-ordered it, you’ll get it. Also, Diamond sometimes “overorders” slightly, to take care of some folks who want to reorder just after a book like this ships through them. If you still want to try to get a copy through your local  shop, you can try placing a reorder with your retailer. The DCD number that you’ll need to give your retailer to attempt this is: DEC110767, from the December issue of Diamond Previews. Now, if you HAD intended to simply wait until the book was up on the AC web shop and buy it directly from us (as MANY have over the last few days), you certainly can- though this link. But you may not want to wait too long before you do that, as current quantities on hand are running VERY low.  Once WE sell out of copies, we will almost certainly be going back to press to print more, BUT that process could take weeks- or perhaps even a few months. (And please BT inside back cover artnote that when we DO temporarily sell out of BT:TPPS on our web shop, we will amend the listing there to make that clear. As long as you see the book up on the AC shop WITH a price listed and WITHOUT the words “sold out” at the front of the text, it IS available for immediate purchase online.)  But unless you are prepared to wait, you might want to act now, while a few copies still remain on hand. The images you see around you (taken from the book’s back & inside covers) should be enough to show you why this book is a must-have item for all AC and old-time Paragon fans. Our regulars know that we DON’T normally make any sort of a stink about some product “nearing sell-out”, but this one IS, in less than a week’s time up on the AC shop! So you may want to consider getting yours very quickly, or you may have to wait for a restock.

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Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever #1

Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever #1 cover art

Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever #1 cover artPrice: $19.95

 

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It’s finally here, the special double-thick celebration of AC’s star-spangled second banana! Leading off, a brand-new YANKEE GIRL adventure set in the Fabulous ’50’s, as YG must face the awful onslaught of the combined evil might of The PANDA, LADY LUGER and FRITZ VOLTZMAN, with only guest-star Roger(The AVENGER) Wright to lend a hand, in “Buzz Bomb Blitz”, a comic- book tor-du-force penned by Wild Bill Black, penciled by Earnest Eric Coile, with inks by Stellar Scott Shriver and Wild Bill Himself. It’s chock full of stormtroopers, zepplins, doughboys and V-1 rocket madness!! Then, in an all-new modern-era story, Lauren (YANKEE GIRL) Mason treats herself to a tropical island vacation on the No Trouble atoll that quickly degenerates into a disaster on two levels, in “Can’t Stand The Heat, Kaiju?” ; plotted and penciled by Rambunctious Rock Baker, with ink finishes by Jaunty Jeff Austin and dialogue by Stunning Stephanie Heike. Then, step down memory lane for a selection of YG’s greatest adventures not seen since the 1990’s; including her FIRST AC featured role in an untitled story originally published in the long-out-of-print Good Girl Art Quarterly #7, written and inked by Mark Heike, and penciled by Dave Roberts. See YG and SHE-CAT battle it out (literally) for the role of spokesmodel for BH Industries. Then, as first seen ‘way back in Good Girl Art Quarterly #11, it’s YG in the now-classic “Sugar Cakes”, written and inked by Mark Heike, and penciled by Bad Brad Gorby. YG tries a new job; this time selling “Little Igor” snack cakes. Guest-starring the GREEN LAMA. Next, Lauren Mason bumps into her old fiance’ (from the Golden Age days) Corey Habot in “Old Flames”, written & drawn by Chris Allen, and inked by Mark Heike. This one initially appeared back in FEMFORCE #108. Then, YG runs afoul of the evil plotting of the villainous VULTURE in “The School For Yankee Girls, written and drawn by Chris Allen, with inks by Mark Heike, from FEMFORCE #109. After that, it’s back to the distant past of the 1940’s, for a breif text overview of the actual Golden Age publishing history of YANKEE GIRL at Harry “A” Chesler publications (written by Bossman Bill Black), followed by complete reprints of the ONLY TWO actual Golden Age YANKEE GIRL stories produced in the 1940’s; both of which were drawn by Ralph Mayo. And finally, a reprint of what is perhaps the “lost” Golden Age YANKEE GIRL story, KITTY KELLY, from Chesler’s Red Seal #17, in 1946. To try to understand just WHAT this character has to do with YANKEE GIRL, you’ll have to read Bill’s text piece in this book. Overall, it’s NINE great YG stories total (three of which have never before been seen) over 92 pages, in crisp black and white (in standard comic book size) inside a spectacular, full-color Will Meugniot cover; saddle-stitched. Released in 2012.

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I Don’t Know The Name, But His Face Rings A Bell by Mark Heike

Orlandocaon 1991 photosAs promised, here are the I.D.’s of the people in these two photos: Top Picture (left to right) yours truly, Mark Heike, Howard(who was a friend of  Tillman Smoot’s, and a GREAT AC fan, but I cannot remember his name) Bob Koenig (from The Keys, the band that recorded the Femforce themesong that was included on flexidisc in FF #50). Tillman Smoot- marketing director/writer at AC in 1992; Priscilla Marimon(Billie’s wife) and Billie Marimon, longtime AC artist. Bottom Picture: Jordi Ensign, onetime AC artist, Rebekah Black, Bill Black, Nick Northey (in the foreground) longtime AC artist, and AC writer/artist, (the late) Rik Levins. Thanks to all who participatewd; Mark Holmes was the big winner in identifying six of these folks. Am I the only one who remembers that (the title of this post) as the punch-line to a joke about Quasimodo that PeeWee Herman used to tell? Never mind.  See the two photos at left? I found them out in the AC Comics warehouse as I was moving some boxes. They were taken at a restaraunt (long out of business) circa 1991, at a little-after-the-show festivities during the 1991 OrlandoCon, if memory serves me. Man, that was a long time ago. Of these eleven people prominently shown in these two pictures, eight were, have been, or currently still work as part of the AC Comics operation. Two more are good friends of AC, and one a spouse. Can anybody out there in blogland IDENTIFY these folks by this mug-shot? Let’s make a contest out of it. Whoever can correctly identify the MOST people shown in these two pictures by midnight on March 31St will win a random piece of Mark Heike original art. And if you’re guessing that art piece may be left over from the February Freebies promo, you COULD be right. Feel free to cheat by doing lots of online research to find other photos of AC people if you care to. Email me at femforcehq@aol.com with your list of names. Enter early, enter often!!

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Femforce 161 Shipping August 2012

Retail Price: $9.95
Format: Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched
Page Count: 80 pages
Color: Black and White (with color covers)
Writers: Erik Matthews, Mark  Heike, Mark Holmes, Eric Coile, Eric Lindberg, Rock Baker And Artists: Rock Baker, Jeff Austin,  Eric Coile, Scott Shriver, and Mark Heike .
Cover Artist: Will Meugniot
Synopsis: A shocking family secret comes to light concerning MS. VICTORY and Jennifer Wayne-Burke (the “second” MS VICTORY) , NIGHTVEIL “fesses up” to Ms. V, and SHE-CAT, SYNN and TARA brawl with RAD in “Hot Fun In The Summetrime.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to all, the villainous WAMPYR begins her plan for world conquest, and is confronted by a mysterious stranger who seems to know too much in “See No Evil”. SYNN operates solo as an undercover agent in “Book ‘Em, Synn”. Then, the beginning of an untold story out of the FEMFORCE files- the locale- Viet Nam. The Time: 1969. Get ready for a very DIFFERENT kind of retro FF story , “Welcome The Femforce”. Next- hot on the heels of the smash hit “Bizarre Thrills- The Paragon Publications Story” TPB, writer/artist Eric Coile gives us a “what if” story that teams heroes and heroines from the ORIGINAL Paragon Publications continuity as TEAM PARAGON in Part One of ” The Iron Claw of Fear”!! Finally, DINOSAUR GIRL is back in “A Day At The Zoo”, and ROWENA returns in “Doppleganger!”Special Notes: This issue ships in a 4:1 ratio of standard Will Meugniot cover to Will Meugniot AUTOGRAPHED cover. (meaning out of every FIVE copies of this book, ONE will be personally autographed by cover artist WILL MEUGNIOT at NO EXTRA COST!!) The family dynamic of Joan ( Ms. VICTORY) Wayne, leader of the FEMFORCE is a complicated one. Her current marriage to PARAGON, the “dean” of AC superheroes is her second . Her tempestuos relationship with her daughter Jennifer included Jen’s grooming as Ms. V’s replacement (as FF leader) by the US government while Joan was AWOL; and Jen’s eventual adoption of Joan’s former antisocial personna of RAD. When a mysterios youth (RENEGADE) entered the picture, claiming to be a laboratory-created “son” of Joan and PARAGON, the tension levels increased all around. Starting this issue, Ms. VICTORY and PARAGON are determined to get to the bottom of the RENEGADE situation- but in so doing, uncover something about Jennifer that NO ONE could have suspected, and it COULD rock the AC Universe to it’s very core. NIGHTVEIL has been uneasy since her unwitting release of the vampire/sorceress WAMPYR back in FF #158. The fact that she hadn’t TOLD her teammates about this potential menace hasn’t helped matters- and when WAMPYR mounts a calculated, clandestine attack aimed at global domination, can even NIGHTVEIL’s magic stop her  As always, it’ll be 80 pages of all-new, never-before-seen comic book story and art, blending action, glamor, drama, pathos and humor in the unique AC Comics manner, as rendered by the modern masters of “good girl” art in action- Rock Baker, Jeff Austin, Eric Coile ,Scott Shriver and all the AC regulars. Page for page, the BEST value in comics- FEMFORCE #161. Expect to see this book on the AC web shop on or about August 20; and your preordered copy in your local comics shop about the middle of September.

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A Project That Rocks by Mark Heike

Rock Bakers GN cover sketchAs some of you may have heard, our star artist Rock Baker  is currently hard at work on a mysterious “outside” project. Though understandably tight-lipped about the details (since he has not finaliized negotiations with a publisher yet), Rock has disclosed that it is a graphic novel which he will be writing and drawing, the cover of which can be seen at left. We’re quite proud of the master storyteller and draftsman Rock has grown into (owing completely to hard work, study and dogged determination on his part). It seems only yesterday that he turned in the pencils for that first Marla Allison back-up story (in Femforce # 141), but it has been years now that he’s been turning out stellar work for us. We couldn’t be happier that he’s ready to spread his creative wings and take on a project of this magnitude. Rock has also assured us that work on his graphic novel should not impinge on his AC assignments. Check out the pages he’s just turned in on the BLACK VENUS story  that will appear in FEMFORCE #159, within the body of this post.  For our part, we’re going to try to give Rock assignments with plenty of lead-time to allow him maximum flexibility to make progress on his GN project while still meeting AC obligations. As Rock feels free to divulge them, we’ll pass on details regarding his graphic novel progress right here, including when, where and how to order it. Of course, you can follow this development on Rock’s Facebook page as well.  And don’t forget- if you haven’t already ordered  your copy of FEMFORCE #159 (which ALL Rock Baker fans SHOULD, as it contains not only the BLACK VENUS story mentioned earlier, but also the conclusion of the two-part DINOSAUR GIRL saga Rock started in FF #158; an 8-page ROWENA adventure also penciled by Rock, AND at least one chapter of the FEMFORCE lead story illustrated by the talented Mr.Baker ), you can still place an advance-reorder for it with your local comic book retailer. Simply wander into your favorite comic shop, and tell the proprietor that you’d like to order FEMFORCE #159, DCD item #JAN120781, from the December issue of Diamond Previews. That’s all he’ll need to know to get your copy ordered so you’ll recieve it as soon as the book ships to comic book stores in April.

 

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Old Friends In New Places by Mark Heike

Panthology #2 cover artI got up with an old friend recently, one dating back to fandom days of the 1970’s- stellar artist Willie Peppers. Willie and I go back to the days of  Steve Streeter’s Paige Comics  and Chicagocons at the Pick Congress Hotel  on Michigan Avenue. Willie was an artistic idol of mine, and we had a chance to collaborate on a few projects; Willie penciling and me inking. Willie went on to illustrate a number of features, including The Protectors and The Ferret at Malibu; Seeker  for Sky Comics; Southern Knights for Comics Interview; features for Comico, Caliber, and others. Anyway, after losing touch for too many years, Willie and I reconnected online via LinkedIn. Willie currently works as a Graphics Specialist for Integrated Media Corp, and operates his own graphic design LLC. He continues to develop his explorations of the panelogical world as part of The Pantheon, a Louisville-based group, self-described as “A non-profit organization with future goals  of developing into a community resource and service group which will not only create a new platform from which new writers and artists can launch their careers, but also an educational force which can provide information and guidance to those who are interested in the business side of the comic industry.” Interested parties can learn more at: http://pantheoncomics.org . The group has recently begun  producing an anthology comic showcasing the work of it’s members, and with the (current) second issue of the book (titled Panthology ) Willie has taken over as graphic designer, and has put "The Quick And The Undead" page 8together a very slick package, in addition to writing and drawing a killer lead story titled “The Quick and the Undead”. Panthology #2 is a 64-page Weird, Weird West Issue, squarebound with black & white interiors and a moody color cover rendered by Matt Edmondson.  You can find out about ordering it at the previously-mentioned website. Willie has a bit of an AC connection as well, having penciled a fantasy story we used in Gorganna’sGhoul Gallery #2, “Mortal Gorgann's Ghoul Gallery #2 cover artCombat”,  inked by me.

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Darker Side of the Femforce by Mark Heike

FF159 Page 6 pencils by Eric CoileExpect a breath of fresh air in the upcoming FEMFORCE #159 (shipping in late April) when you see a couple of old friends in new places. Writer Chad Halcom has penned this issue’s lead FF story, “House Of Lost Souls”.  Chad has previously provided script and pencils on the Ms. VICTORY solo story in FF #136, and the GTS tales “Carry A Big Torch” Parts 1 and  2, in FF #’s 139 and 140, and “Growing Feelings” in FF #153. This time he’s paired with returning prodigal son Eric Coile on pencils (with Scott Shriver providing inks) on a story we think fans will soon proclaim a FEMFORCE classic.  Scott’s inks are popping up all over AC-land these days as he makes a bid to challenge Jeff Austin as World’s Greatest Inker Of All Time.  Eric Coile needs no introduction to long-time AC fans. Though out of touch for a stretch FF 159 Page 2 art by Eric Coile and Scott Shriveruntil recent times, he illustrated any number of timeless FF tales in the 1990’s. A particular favorite of mine was FEMFORCE #85.  His depictions of No-Nose Nannette and The Limbo Void therin have become the defining “look” for both, in my opinion. And speaking of Awesome Jeff Austin, don’t fret. AC’s own Court Jeffster  is ubiquitous as always this issue, doing finishes on Rock Bakers’s “Priorities of War” Part II DINOSAUR GIRL epic, the BLACK VENUS reintro story- and maybe more, if we can  pile additional inking work on his broad shoulders. Of course, Will Meugniot’s N.E.D.O.R. Agents will be back in another 10-page installment. PLUS a special 1-page origin of Pyroman, all of which is written, penciled and inked by Wonderous Will himself.  As always, it’ll be 80 pages of all-new, never-before-seen story and art, within a breathtaking Will Megniot color cover .All of you reading this already have your copies preordered- but if there is some Philistine out there who has not, there is still time. Simply saunter into your favorite comioc book shop and tell thye proprietor you’d like to order FEMFORCE #159, DCD item #JAN120781, from the January issue of Diamond Previews, and he’ll make sure you get it.

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Positively The LAST February Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

SORRY- FEBRUARY FREEBIES ARE OVER WITH, AND THIS OFFER IS “OFF OF THE BOARD”!blank generic superheroine drawing Okay- I’m going to admit it- I MISCOUNTED the number of days in February- we end up with ONE MORE DAY than I thought we had this month. So what are we going to do about it? We’re going to add ONE more EXTRA -SPECIAL ABSOLUTELY FINAL February Freebie, and it is this: see the “blank” graphic of a generic superheroine in flight  that I’ve drawn to the left of this post? Well, for qualified buyers who make a purchase of $150.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store, I will complete that drawing (on a 17″ X 11″ piece of 2-ply bristol board) as ANY AC heroine (or frankly ANYONE heroine, period- if you can provide necessary reference) you choose, in ink, as a finished black & white piece of custom, one-of-a-kind, hand-executed original artwork- free of charge. I’ll add the details necessary to turn it into any female character you like, and ink it with the slickest brush-line I can muster, absolutely free.  Just make your qualifying AC shop purchase of $150.00 (or more), then email me at femforcehq@aol.com and tell me WHAT character you want your drawing to be. ( Please note that it MAY take me 1-2 weeks to complete your piece of artwork. I will go ahead and ship your $150.00 worth of merchandise  assortment immediately, and ship the completed artwork later, under separate cover.) But as soon as the ol’calender turns to March 1, February Freebies is over, so if you want in on this  deal, better act soon!!

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

Ms Victory pencil sketch by Mark HeikeSORRY! THIS ITEM IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE!! Todays Giveaway of the Day is an unpublished, original, hand-created finished pencil drawing of the FF’s own MS.VICTORY flying over a stylized cityscape at night, as rendered by yours truly, Mark G. Heike. This piece, done as a study fo a possible cover idea, shows Ms. V sporting her current, “modern” costume and look, designed by AC head honcho Bill Black, that debuted way back in 1993 in FEMFORCE UP CLOSE #6. The drawing fills a 17″ X 11″ sheet of single-ply 20lb bond paper, and was executed with a #2 wood-clad pencil. (If it’s of interest, I switched to strictly working with a mechanical pencil in 1997. Not to many “old-fashioned” grind-it-in-a-pencil-sharpener pieces of mineFemforce Up Close #6 cover art still floating around out there!) Here’s your chance to get this piece of unique artwork!! The first customer today who places an order for  $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original “good girl” art ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free Mark H. Ms. VICTORY drawing !” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the Ms. VICTORYdrawing is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. March 1 rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S Ms. VICTORY original drawing giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

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Today’s Webshop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

She-Cat Chronicles cover art

She-Cat Chronicles cover artSORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON SUNDAY THE 26nd.Todays Giveaway of the Day is another gem for the AC completists- a copy of the early-90’s graphic novel compilation of the 4-issue 1990 SHE-CAT miniseries, THE SHE-CAT CHRONICLES. Not only was this black & white TPB strictly limited to a print run of 500 copies,(and sold out and unavailable for almost twenry years) it was also the ONE AND ONLY die-cut cover book that AC Comics ever produced.  LONG sold out and certainly among the rarest publications AC has ever released, we came across a less-than-perfect but complete copy of this seldom-seen volume, and we are offering it FREE today only to anyone who purchases $25.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store. This miniseries, plotted and drawn She-Cat #3 cover artby Billie Marimon was popular in it’s day, and reprerented the iconic “take” on SHE-CAT at the time. Not only is this a near-impossible-to-find collectible, but it gives you the whole run of Billie’s quirky approach to SC under one cover. The book is black and white with greytones on newsprint on the interiors, with a color “inner” and color die-cut “outer” cover. Here’s your chance to get this  unique piece of AC publishing history!! The first customer today who places an order for just $25.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic TPB ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free SHE-CAT CHRONICLES TPB!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of She-Cat #4 cover artthe items purchased comes to AT LEAST $25.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the SHE-CAT CHRONICLES is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!!

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Vol. 10- The Comic Book Art of Bob Powell Shipping June 2012

Retail Price: $29.95
Format: Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched
Page Count: 160 pages
Color:  Black and white
Intended Audience: All ages
Genre: Action adventure/superhero/history- it is Golden Age reprints of various genres
Writers : Bill Black, Bob Powell, William Woolfolk, Otto Binder, Ray Krank, Paul S. Newman
Artist: Bob Powell
Cover Artist: Bob Powell
Synopsis: Legendary artist BOB POWELL is spotlighted in this volume focusing on his action/adventure features, reprinting classic strips like  DOC SAVAGE, The SHADOW, NICK CARTER, BLONDE BOMBER, Dr. NEFF, SRIRIT of ’76, D-13 SECRET AGENT, Mr. MYSTIC, MAN IN BLACK and JET POWERS  plus POWELL “good girl”art galore; war, sci-fi and romance stories. Look for it in your comic shop around the end of July.
Special Notes: Bob Powell (actually born Stanislav Robert Pawlowski) was one of the most gifted and prolific artists to come out of the early days of comic books. Starting nearly at the beginning in the famed Eisner/Iger shop in the late 1930’s, he drew (and sometimes scripted) a number of features that the art shop packaged, including Sheena for Fiction House Comics’ Jumbo title; the first (but certainly not the last) buxom, Amazonian heroine he would visualize. Through the early Golden Age, his work appeared in comics published by Fox (Yarko, in Wonder World), Timely (on Tough Kid Squad, Captain America and All-Winners), Quality (Loops & Banks, in Military Comics), Fiction House( Gale Allen, in Planet) and Harvey (Spirit of ’76, in Pocket Comics) anong others. After military service, he returned to the drawing board as a freelancer (eventually forming his own small “shop”) working for Street and Smith on The Shadow and other features, and renewing his relationship (it would be a long one) with the Harvey family, working on various strips including his signature Man In Black series, Shock Gibson, Black Cat and others, in addition to drawing Westerns and other types of books at Fawcett.  As the 1950’s would dawn, he expanded his regular clients to include Magazine Enterprises (where he drew Cave Girl, Strong Man, Lemonade Kid, Bobby Benson, The Avenger and many others) Prize Comics and Charlton. During the horror/SF trend of comics in the mid-1950’s, his bold brush line, expressive faces, realistic backgrounds and expert use of shadow made him one of the masters of that genre. As the horror boom went bust, Powell segued into a long tenure with Sick Magazine doing humor and parody material, and a little work on the Archie  Adventure line of 1959 with The Fly. He also did extensive work with Topps on their non-sport and novelty cards, including the storied Mars Attacks card series and Wacky Packs. The mid-1960’s found Powell working for old associate Stan Lee during the Marvel Age of comics, penciling adventures of Giant Man, Daredevil, The Human Torch and The Hulk, before his untimely passing in 1967. A true stylist whose unique art approach is immediately recognizable and inimitable, his work has been collected and prized for years. In 2011, IDW publishing released an excellent book (written by Craig Yoe ) on Powell that covered his life and focused on his excellent horror comic book work of the early 1950’s. But there was so much more to Powell than that- and our Golden Age Greats Volume 10 will explore all those other aspects of his comic book career. If you already have the Craig Yoe book, rest assured, you will see NOTHING that was in THAT book here, as we delve into the heroic action and “good girl” art aspects of the career of this great comic book illustrator.

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Vol. 9 – Cat-Man and Kitten Shipping May 2012

Writers and Artist’s Names: Writers include Charles Quinlan. Artists include Irwin Hasen, Charles Quinlan, Bob Fujitani, Maxwell Elkans, Don Rico, Rudy Palais and John Dixon. Cover by L. B. Cole.
Intended Audience: All-ages fans of Golden Age superhero reprint material; art aficionados, comics historians, collectors of bookshelf compilations and fans of classic action, adventure and superhero material and devotees of the pop culture of World War II America.
Format: Standard comic book size; saddle-stitched, ULTRA-THICK 140 pages, black & white interiors with color covers.
Retail Price: 29.95
Synopsis: Holyoke’s crimefighting duo are covered in depth with more than a dozen vintage story reprints, including CAT-MAN’s first appearance, the “origin” of KITTEN, a selection of the BEST stories from the U.S. AND Australian series’, PLUS never-before-reprinted “Little Leaders” adventures starring KITTEN. Look for it in your comic shops at the end of June
Special Notes: Initially created as a hurried knock-off of BATMAN, The CAT-MAN strip soon developed a unique flavor of it’s own- due to the bizarre menaces he faced and the unique relationship he shared with his partner-in-crimefighting, KITTEN. The original series, published under various house names (TEM, Helnit, Holyoke, Continental) initially gained a fan following due to cover art late in the title’s run by the highly collectible L. B. Cole, but many of the INTERIOR stories ( distinctively illustrated by Bob Fujitani, Charles Quinlan, Maxwell Elkans and others) are quite mature and involved for Golden Age fare, and are quite excellent. A number of the bery best of those (featuring arch-nemesis Mr. Peccary and Dr. Macabre) are included in this volume. When the original American series ended in 1946, it had proved so popular as an import in Australia that a native version went into print, morphing Cat-Man into a slightly different character with a male sidekick known as Kit. Though varying from the original series in tone , these stories were well-done in their own way, and drawn by one of the greatest illustrators to ever come out of the Australian comic book world, John Dixon. This version will be showcased as well. In addition, KITTEN also co-starred (with the sidekick from a lesser Holyoke strip THE DEACON and MICKEY) in another Holyoke series called “The Little Leaders”. Never reprinted previously, this book will contain several “Little Leaders” adventures. This tome should  prove to be THE most in depth look at these characters ever printed.

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Femforce 160 Shipping May 2012

Writers and Artist’s Names: Writers include Mark and Stephanie Heike, Eric Johnson, David Watkins, and Frank Tra . Artists include Rock Baker,  Jeff Austin, Chris Allen,Dan Gorman and Scott Shriver, Mark Heike and Stephanie Heike. Cover by Eduardo Barreto.
Intended Audience: All-ages fans and readers who like Silver-Age style superheroics as well as fans of classic “good girl” art and superhero comics in general.
Format: Standard comic book size, saddle-stitched: TRIPLE THICK 84 page length, black & white interiors with full color covers. All new- NO REPRINTS; all stories- NO ADS!
Retail Price: $9.95
Synopsis: STARDUST is duped by her nemesis PROXIMA in a story from her Rurian days, while SHE-CAT faces a new menace at Mardi Gras; NIGHTVEIL angsts about the villainous WAMPYR and MS. VICTORY meets an old threat.   Cover by EDUARDO BARRETO. Look for this in your comic shop at the end of June.
Special Notes: The late, great EDUARDO BARRETO was working on this issue before his untimely passing late in 2011. Unfortunately, he was not able to complete an intended interior story for the book, but he DID contribute the book’s spectacular color cover. Inside of it, the sexy superheroines that make up the FEMFORCE fight solo this issue, in a series of adventures that spotlight the personalities and backgrounds of the individual members. Readers will get interesting insights on what makes each character tick- who they are, and how they tackle adversity in different ways- STARDUST out in deep space, SHE-CAT in the grimy back-alleys of a teeming metropolis, MS. VICTORY on the “main stage” of public opinion, and NIGHTVEIL within her own mind. As always, the BEST value in comicdom; more than 80 pages of ALL NEW material- no reprints, no ads.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 14 Shipping April 2012

Writers and Artist’s Names: Writers include: Ruth Roche, Robert Farrell, Joe Millard, Richard Hughes, Ernie Hart, Hank Chapman and Carl Wessler. Artists include Bob Powell, Mort Meskin, Charles Quinlan, Dick Ayers, , Bill Everett, Mo Marcus, Ken Battefield and Hy Eisman. Cover by Lee Elias.
Intended Audience: All-ages fans of classic horror comics material; comics historians and fans of vintage reprint material of all kinds.
Format: Standard comic-book size; saddle-stitched, ULTRA-THICK 140 pages, black & white interiors with color covers.
Retail Price: $29.95 (maximum discount 50%)
 Synopsis: 140 pages of the best classic comic book horror of the Pre-Code era of the 1950’s, including stories like “Corpses From the Sea”, “The Hungry Ghoul”, ” The Clinging Corpse”, “The Deadly Doll of Horror” and more. Art by Powell, Meskin, Ayers, Charles Quinlan, Bill Everett and other rarely-seen greats! Look for this in your comic shop at the end of May.
Special Notes: As always, this issue of Crypt of Horror brings fans and enthusiasts a selection of the best, most interesting, most obscure and esoteric comic book stories of the macabre, from the heyday of the genre, the 1950’s- as compiled by that renowned expert on comic book history, AC Comics publisher, Bill Black. And, as a special promotion for this issue, one out of every three copies of Crypt of Horror Volume 14 will be signed and numbered by Bill Black, at no additional charge. That means that any retailer who orders at least three copies of COH 14 is guaranteed of getting one autographed copy out of the three. The number of autographed copies will, of course be a function of the total number of copies sold, so at this juncture we cannot say what the quantity of signed/numbered copies will be, but chances are that the number will be low, making these signed copies a rare and valuable collector’s items.

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THE STONE OF KSY MON by Jim Johnston

THE STONE OF KSY MON by Jim Johnston

On a planet unknown to our astronomy in an dimension unspected by our physics a thief was fleeing across a cold barren alien landscape clutching a small leather pouch
He glanced fearfully back, over his shoulder.

The hellhounds who had slaughtered and devoured his companions were now bearing down on him In the distance he spied his escape – a tall shimmering magic portal, narrow at the ends and wider in the middle. Cursing himself for leading his team into this Godforsaken death-trap he raced towards the mystic escape hatch. Nearly exhausted, fear charged adrenaline powered his limbs as he dove through the Meta physical bolt hole.

Instantaneously, he tumbled out onto a dirty hardwood floor. Glancing back, to confirm he hadn’t been fallowed the mercenary saw to his relief that the portal was closed and he was alone. Standing up and looking around, he saw that he was back in the same dusty rundown ballroom of the dilapidated and vacant sea side hotel from which he and his companions had so recently set out on their mission.

He called out, “Where are you, Witch? I’ve got your trinket, but the price has gone up!” There was moment’s silence, and then a silky sardonic sibilant voice replied “Oh, and why is that? And, what happened to all your companions? “ . Gorganna stepped from the shadows and stood before her hireling.

Even though he was a tough, murderous, fearless mercenary who had taken on jobs in which he had done things that were beyond the abilities of normal people and had seen sights that were beyond the imaginations of most people, he was momentarily un- nerved by Gorganas appearance.

Her shapely body certainly looked inviting and her green skin and bald head did exude a certain attraction, and even those pointed ears created an exotic allure, but her pug nose and that mouth full of razor sharp teeth certainly made for a disconcerting contrast.

Then ,there were those three big blank black eyes ,the third one situated right in the middle of her high forehead They were downright frightening.

Totally shiny and soulless, looking into them always gave him the feeling that he was being drawn down into the pits of Hell!  Struggling to regain his composure, he raged at his employer.” They’re all dead Witch, thanks to you .Every one of them burned or blasted or devoured by whatever was guarding this accursed thing you sent us after.” He brandished a leather pouch and shook it at her.

The Witch smiled and mockingly replied,” But that just means that you can keep the whole fee for yourself. Now you don’t have to share with anyone. You should be happy.”
Slyly smiling, she continued, “But I won’t quibble. I’ll quadruple your fee to make up for the loss of you comrades. How does that sound?”

The thief considered the witch’s offer. Four times the amount of the original fee was an incredible sum .And it was large enough to make him forget about his dead friends. He grimly agreed, but warned Gorgana has he handed over the pouch.

Don’t try to double cross me you freak. I’ve got protection. He gestured to an amulet knotted around his neck.

“This charm is more powerful than you’ll ever be, and you know it!”

“True “replied Gorgana as she extracted a fist sized greenish gem stone from the bag .It was the Stone of Kysmon She had it at last! Breathing deeply she clasped it to her voluptuous breasts. Smiling wickedly she revealed a double row of razor sharp fangs,as she regarded her hireling

“Now” she said “A bonus for a job well done. “With those words the treacherous witch unleashed a massive mystic blast that easily overwhelmed the thief’s magical defenses and reduced him to a sticky puddle.

“You have the honor of being the first one to witness my new power.”

Laughing gleefully she thought “With the Stone of Ksymon finally in my possession, I am truly invincible I’ll easily conquer this entire world! Maybe even this whole dimension! “Then her unearthly features hardened into a frown “but first I’ll settle accounts with those meddling bimbos –the Fem Force!” This time those self righteous fools will be helpless before me!”
Then looking around at her dingy surroundings she said out loud “But first I’ll do a little bit of remodeling.”

A SHORT WHILE LATER

Joan Wayne aka Ms. Victory was flying back to Fem Force headquarters, feeling tired and sore. Her assignment had turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. Originally she had been assigned to act as backup to a joint state/federal task force which was designed to  let various law enforcement agencies work together to better ensure public safety . The objective of this particular mission, code named “Collective Security” called for the arrest of a criminal gang whose members were smuggling stolen high-tech military ordnance out of the country and into the hands of America’s enemies.

It should have been a cake walk, but emboldened by all the high caliber hardware they had on hand, the smugglers decided to stand and fight .Seriously outgunned, the authorities might have been in serious trouble and in danger of being massacred, had not Ms.Victory immediately leapt to the front of the battle, drawing all of the criminal’s firepower onto herself. This allowed the authorities to regroup and successfully counter attack and decisively overwhelm and defeat the criminals.

As the lawbreakers were being taken into custody, Joan conferred with mission commanders in an impromptu debriefing session. Afterwards, though her part in the mission was complete the Patriotic Powerhouse remained on hand to talk with the” rank and file “who crowded around her. The police and soldiers were all very impressed to have worked with a “real super heroine “.Plus they were all grateful that she had been there to “pull their chestnuts out of the fire”. Characteristically Joan downplayed her role in the operation and reminded the men and women that they too were heroes, just as much, if not more as she.

So, it was rather late when she left to head back to Fem Force Headquarters for the official mission debriefing and the regular weekly team meeting .Flying back along the coast Ms.Victory found herself hoping the meeting would be brief .She was looking forward to getting home early and taking a long hot bath, before spending some quality time with Chuck (Charles Starret aka Captain Paragon, her husband)

She mused, “Invulnerable or not, catching a barrage of stinger missiles , fired at point blank range, directly in the chest while getting raked with heavy machine gun fire still hurts”
However she also felt a deep sense of pride and satisfaction at successfully carrying out her assignment. All in all, she concluded in spite of the personal discomfort, there’s nothing like knowing you’ve done your duty and helped to make your country a better and safer place for everyone.

Suddenly , right at that moment ,from out of the clear blue sky , an enormous bolt of green lightning silently slashed through the azure and struck Ms. Victory right between  the shoulder blades Stunned into unconsciousness the heroine dropped like a stone onto the sand and rocks below.
Lying face down in the wet sand, she did not hear Gorgana’s approach as the evil witch, chuckling softly, regarded the helpless heroine and remarked, “So much for the high and mighty Ms. Victory. I’m sure your equally useless friends will be along soon, looking for you. I will defeat them just as easily, when they arrive but in the meantime I think I will have a little fun with you personally, before I dispose of you permanently.

A FEW HOURS LATER

Back at Fem Force Headquarters, it was time for the weekly meeting. Night Veil was the first to arrive and materialized into the conference room directly from a sabbatical in Dark Dhagor where she had been refining her mystic abilities under the tutelage of the wizard Azagoth, her mentor and teacher. The mystic maiden was glad to be back. It had been a long hard session. Her vocation required constant practice and on-going study, and Azagoth was a demanding taskmaster.
Laura smiled to herself as she looked around the room, which was dominated by the large oval conference table inlaid with the Fem Force logo. Gazing at it she felt a familiar rush of pride at being a member of a team of genuine heroines honestly dedicated to the good of all.
She noticed a bank of computer terminals, keyboards and video screens along the back wall. “Must be part of the up-grade program” she thought.
Laura looked forward to these meeting and attended them whenever possible. Her nearly  omnipotent powers and the omnipresent perspective that they gave her tended to isolate the mystic maiden from the mundane day- to- day concerns of “regular “people .She found that these meetings helped to keep her grounded in this “real” world. Plus, she truly did enjoy the time spent with her team-mates who were also her good friends and true comrades.
Just then, General Roberta Strock entered through a side door, directly from her office. She warmly greeted Laura. “Ahh, Nightveil, just in time for the meeting. Welcome back. How are you? And how was your session on Dhagor?
Laura responded,”Hello General, Thank you, it’s good to be back, and I’m well. Dhagor was strenuous but rewarding.
This pleasant small talk was interrupted by She Cat making her entrance, sauntering in through the main doors “Hey General, Hiya Witchee-poo.”
Looking around the room, the Feline Fury continued. “Looks like I’m not the last one to arrive for once. I know that Tara Is off in South America doing her eco-thing and that Dusty is away working with NASA and that bubblehead-I mean Syn is studying for her GED finals ,but where’s Ms. Victory? She’s usually the first one here.”
General Strock and Nightveil were silent .It was certainly not like Ms. Victory to be late. An uneasy feeling settled over the group as General Strock spoke” I’ll make some inquires and see what I can find out “
The General stepped back to one of the newly installed keyboards and, contacting NORAD , she typed in a request for information.  Almost instantly a large overhead screen flashed to life, initially displaying a map of the eastern seaboard, then rapidly magnifying down to an outline of the Florida coast
“That’s the Florida coastline. A NORAD satellite was routinely tracking Ms. Victory has she was returning from her assignment. I’ll bring that up now.
As the General hit another sequence of keys, a red line accompanied by a series of times and coordinates materialized on that screen
“The red line fallows the coastline until it suddenly stops. According to the data, Ms. Victory simply dropped off the radar screen about 2 hours ago at a location roughly 200
miles north of here. I’ll direct the communications department to try and contact her.
General Strock worked the key board again as all eyes were glued to the big overhead screen. A long minute passed, and then NO RESPONSE flashed across the screen.
“I hope nothing has happened “intoned Nightveil .
“Ahh,Joannie’s OK”responded She Cat “She probably just stopped to rescue a kitten from a tree and lost track of time” Jess’s bravado camouflaged the unease they all shared. “We might as well go and get her.” she added
I concur” replied General Strock.”Take the Quinjet to Ms. Victory’s last known coordinates and search the area. I’ll stay on the computer and relay any further information.
The two Fem Forcers immediately set out.

A SHORT WHILE LATER.

The two Fem Forcers stood on the beach before an enormous  mansion,with dark wooden walls and a sharply peaked slate tiled roof. Gable windows set with darkly stained glass offered no clue as to what lurked within .Even though it stood in the sunshine of a late Florida afternoon, the structure seemed to draw the vitality right out of the air, creating a grim and foreboding atmosphere. The effect dampened Jess’s normally brash persona and she spoke softly.
“Jeez Laura, It looks like the combination of every hunted house in every nightmare I’ve ever had! What do you make of it?”
The mystic maiden responded” General Strock’s info said that this location was an old abandoned hotel that went out of business back in 1954. However this structure does not look anything like that however I do detect the presence of a massive concentration of mystical energy permeating the site. That could explain this structure.”
“What about Joan? Any sign of her? “She Cat sounded uncharacteristically nervous and concerned.
Laura concentrated “There’s some kind of mystic fog that is blocking my psychic probes. She tried again, harder.” But I can definitely feel her presence she is in the building and she is alive”.
“Any idea where in the building?” asked Jess.
“Below ground” said Laura “in a basement or a cellar …
“Or a dungeon” stated Jess “We had better get started right away. Joan could be in real trouble!
“I agree” responded Laura “I propose a two pronged attack. I’ll go in through the front door and draw out whoever is responsible for all this, and keep them occupied. Meanwhile go around to the back and quietly enter the building. Find your way down stairs and locate Ms. Victory. Then together make your escape and return to F.F.H.Q.
.I’ll rejoin you there after I have dealt with the perpetrators.
Nightveils’s practical plan of action calmed the agitated She Cat.” Once I have found Joan and made sure she is safe, don’t you want us to join you? You’ll probably need the help.” she asked.
“No” replied Nightveil firmly “I appreciate your offer, but whoever is in back of all this is almost certainly a powerful mage, well versed in the arcane arts. Your formidable fighting skill could not prevail against such power. Besides, your primary mission is to locate Ms. Victory and get her to safety.
Jess saw the wisdom in Laura’s logic (though she hated to be left out of a fight.)”Well,OK  I suppose so” she replied and then added” Good Luck”
“Same to you, and don’t worry. Our Ms. Victory knows how to handle herself in difficult situations. We’ll soon find her and everything will be fine.” Said Night Veil, wanting to reassure her comrade.
I hope so” responded She cat uneasily.” We’d better get started”
“I agree” responded Nightveil.

MEANWILE

Inside the building the object of their concerns ,Ms Victory was indeed in a dungeon. Regaining consciousness shortly after being struck by the green lightning, she found herself elaborately and extensively chained up within a small steel-walled cell with glass door. A little groggy at first, she asked herself “What happened? One minute I’m flying home and then the lights go out. What’s going on? And where am I?
As her head cleared the heroine’s confident character asserted itself. Looking out through the glass door, she saw what looked to be an old fashioned torture chamber, with chains dangling from the ceiling, a genuine Spanish stretching rack, with stocks at one end and a windlass at the other, branding irons glowing red hot in a metal brazier, hand-axes and knives and clubs hanging on rusty hooks set in the stone walls, a whipping post with dangling manacles at it’s top and close by a wooden stand laden with coils of rope and an assortment of whips, some long and thin like bull-whips and others with multiple tails and even an Nuremburg  iron maiden .In the center of the room, mounted on an elaborate wrought iron pedestal, rested a glowing green gemstone.
The arcane object bathed the entire room in an unearthly green light .A single iron bound wooden door at the far end of the room provided the only access.
Ms. Victory was unimpressed. Except for the green gem and its unsettling illumination, she had seen it all before.
“I’ll just free myself from these chains and breakout of this cell, and then I will find and deal with whoever is responsible for all this nonsense.” she thought.
Confidently, she pulled on the chains securing her wrists and ankles to the cell walls while simultaneously flexing her upper body muscles and arching her back to expand her magnificent chest .With this maneuver she expected to shatter the chains that bound her upper arms to her sides and snap the links that held her wrists and ankles.
She had used this move many times in the past and always with impressive results, the chains bursting in an explosion of shattered steel much to the dismay of whatever criminal who thought they had bested Ms.Victory.
This time however, was different .The chains did not yield.
“Hmm,that’s odd” she thought,” These   chains must be made of some new high strength alloy. I’ll just have to try a little harder.
But try as she might the patriotic powerhouse could not break free. She continued to pull and flex and strain but all she got for her efforts were sore muscles ,a lot of bruises and a growing sense of frustration.
As she paused a moment from her efforts, a voice mockingly addressed her. “Give up? you might as well . Those chains are stronger than you’ll ever be”
Ms. Victory looked up. She knew that voice. It was..
Gorgana stepped into view. Standing triumphantly her hands on her hips and her head held high she regarded prisoner as the captive heroine re-doubled her efforts to free herself..The grotesque witch laughed and mocked Ms.Victory.
“All right then, go ahead and keep trying .It won’t do you any good. I’ve cast a spell over your chains. The more you pull, the stronger they become. You’ll never be able to break them.”
Taking in the information, Ms. Victory’s brain worked feverishly, looking for an advantage.
“We’ve dealt with Gorgana many times before and she has never this powerful-or this smart. Is some one helping her?” she wondered?.
Seeking more information the All-American Amazon sought to irritate the ghoul into giving away her secrets by reminding her of her past failures
“I know you haven’t got the power or the brains to come up with this operation on your own Who’s helping you? Or should I ask who is in charge?”
That barb found its mark. “I don’t need any help. I did this all on my own”. The green skinned monster snarled and shook her fist at the helpless heroine. Gesturing to the green glowing gem she continued.
‘I wisely acquired the Stone of Ksymon which has greatly amplified my already formidable powers. Now I can achieve my true destiny as the most powerful mage in this dimension! As a first step I will destroy you and all of your ridiculous Team-mates. Not even that foolish Nightveil will be able to stand against me. “
“That’s big talk for a second-rate loser like you,Greenie  “.responded Ms. Victory, hoping her insulting words and contemptuous tone  would provoke the ghoul into letting her guard down.” The Fem Force has beaten every time you were dumb enough to get in our way and this time isn’t going to be any different. That dime-store novelty found won’t help you at all.”
But Gorgana just laughed” I’ll take care of your useless team-mates as easily as I took care of you .But since you seem to doubt my power I will give a personal and intimate demonstration until they arrive .After all I don’t want you getting bored.”
“Uh-oh “thinks Ms. Victory” I don’t like the sound of that.” and wonders if she might have pushed the green-skinned ghoul too far.
A time of torment and torture began for the captive Fem Forcer. Using her enhanced magical power,Gorgana created an inlet pipe and water began to fill the cell. As the water level rose Ms. Victory re-doubled her efforts, straining to break free.
Initially, the buxom heroine found the water of little concern, as she could easily hold her breath for long periods of time, but she was frustrated that she was unable to free herself. Rather quickly the water filled her cell to the extent that her body’s natural buoyancy left her floating without any solid footing
Nevertheless, she continued to tug and pull on her chains in an effort to break free. Focusing on the task at hand she expended a supreme effort could actually feel several of the links begin to give way, but the length of chain that allowed her to tread with her head above water was no longer sufficient and she knew that that in moments she would have to draw her last breath before becoming completely submerged.
With an agonizing groan ,she made a last desperate ,all-out effort to pull free of her chains before going under ,which left her just shy of actually snapping several of the links “One more pull will do it” she thought .However in the split second that she relented ,in order to gather her strength, and take one last breath before the rising water covered her nose and mouth ,she was dismayed to find that ,pursuant to Gorgana’s spell the links had repaired themselves , leaving her  right back where she started from , only now the captive heroine was also sore, bruised and exhausted.
Now completely submerged the Patriotic Powerhouse faced a daunting prospect. While it was true that she could hold her breath for considerable periods of time Joan knew that her ability to do so was directly related to the amount of her further physical exertion .The strain that had been required to nearly break the magically enhanced chains would almost certainly deplete the resources of oxygen in her lungs and if that final effort, like all the attempts before it, was unsuccessful, she would surely drown!
Deciding to trust in her capacity to remain safely submerged for hours (and confident that her team-mates would be along soon ,looking for her )Joan decided to play a waiting game and look for an opportunity to free herself some where down the line , rather than risk an untimely end if she were unable to burst her chains. Calmly she allowed herself to float effortlessly in her tiny cell, while closely watching her captors every move.
Irritated at her prisoners apparent lack of concern, the witch created a school of piranhas that attacked Ms.Victory in a feeding frenzy .However, though their razor sharp teeth inflicted many painful bites they were unable to penetrate her invulnerable skin, or even the fabric of her Span-Dexxx uniform and so they did not real harm Also ,not wanting to give captor the satisfaction, Joan took care not to show that she was hurting
.Annoyed that her captive did not appear to suffering enough, the green-skinned ghoul tried again. Draining the water from the cell and dematerializing the fish, she created a swarm of viciously stinging wasps. But, once again, thanks to the heroines invulnerability the insect attack was in effectual.(Though Joan did find it uncomfortable when the wasps flew up her nose and in her ears and got tangled up in her hair.)
Inwardly grateful for her captors haste in discarding the water torture,Ms Victory continued to mock Gorgana.’s efforts”Is that the best you can do? Even with the so-called Stone of Kysmon your magic isn’t very effective.
Enraged at Ms. Victory’s cocky attitude Gorgana dispensed with the wasps and created a mini-sandstorm within the cell .The helpless heroine coughed and gagged, and was nearly blinded by the dust and stinging sand. To complete the experience Gorgana raised the cell’s temperature until it was as hot as a furnace, and the heroine was truly suffering. The sight of Ms.Victory’s agonized writhing as she choked and gasped and sweated profusely delighted the vile witch who crowed triumphantly.
All of a sudden the witch became alert, as if she was listening for something. The sandstorm immediately dissipated and the cell’s temperature returned normal as Gorgana addressed Ms.Victory.”My enhanced magic reveals that someone is approaching It looks like your pathetic friends have finally arrived. I’ll let you live long enough to have a ring side seat at their destruction and learn what a powerful mage I truly am.
Gorgana gestured twice in a circular motion and muttered a brief incantation. Nothing happened .The green skinned ghoul cursed and tried again. On the second attempt the greenish shimmering appeared in mid-air that morphed into two side by side images , like disembodied TV screens While mentally noting the difficulty that the witch had in creating the screens and that she stopped the sandstorm to do so, Ms.Victory leaned limply against the wall of her cell and closely regarded each of the screens.

ON THE FIRST SCREEN

Nightveil walked up the front steps flanked by leering stone gargoyles. The ornately craved wooden doors silently swung open at her approach. She crossed the threshold, moved across the foyer and entered through another set of obligingly opening doors into what appeared to be a huge Grand Ballroom., noting that they swiftly and silently closed behind her
Crossing the marble floor, she noted the vaulted stone ceiling and walls hung with garish gaudy tapestries depicting scenes of mayhem and murder “Crude and Tacky” she thought.
Approaching the center of the room she stopped, intent on making an easy target of herself, hoping to draw out whoever is responsible for her friends disappearance and confront them. Her plan is to keep them occupied so that She Cat will have an easier time finding and rescuing Ms. Victory.
All the while, the Sorceress Supreme is psychically searching, looking for some sign of Ms. Victory’s location, and hoping to confirm that she is all right. She believes she can make out a faint presence although her probes are still being effectively blocked.
The she hears a chorus of low guttural moans. Night veil turns and is surprised to see a crowd of classic zombies, all hideously decayed and eyes blazing with an unholy hunger. Arms outstretched they are moving towards her. Their intent is clear .They mean to devour her
“Where did you come from?” Laura wonders as she assumes a classic magic attack stance. Standing at attention her arms extended straight ahead, palms up and thumb and forefinger crossed. She softly speaks a brief incantation confident that this move will easily take care of these undead intruders. But it doesn’t work out that way.
A purple beam of mystic energy flashes from her palms and strikes the oncoming
horde. There is a bright flash upon impact and the front rank of her undead assailants are knocked down, but aided by their living dead comrades, they struggle to their feet and continue onward.
Laura is puzzled. “That beam should have vaporized the lot of them, but it barely slowed them down. Also, they seem to be smarter and more energetic than I would expect, they walk rather than shuffle and help one another.”
As she takes a few steps back to put more distance between her self and her would-be assassins Laura hears a now familiar low guttural moan. Looking back over her shoulder she sees another similar crowd of zombies moving up close behind her.
Reacting decisively the Mystic Maiden turns to face this new and nearer thereat. Extending her right arm while drawing back her left as if pulling back a bowstring; she quietly intoned a much stronger incantation. Instantly a brilliant purple pulse of concentrated mystic energy was let fly against this new threat. Unhappily this move had even less effect than the initial attempt. The pulse stops short of its target and bursts apart into shower of purple globules which rapidly dissipated.
“Something is very wrong here” thought Laura. These zombies have some sort of sophisticated protection against my magic.
Noticing that both crowds are getting closer and are starting to spread out as if to surround her, she decides that a strategic retreat is in order .Raising her arms above her head and bringing them down to her sides in a wide arc, she casts a levitation spell upon her self intending to rise above the oncoming horde and up onto the 2nd floor.
But, it was not to be.
As she rose up ,two the zombies ,displaying more of the uncharacteristic energy and coordination she had noted earlier, leapt up and each grabbed  one of her wrists and held fast, , obviously intent on dragging back down  to be devourerer by their ravenous companions.
They halted her ascent, although Laura was able to maintain her mystic concentration enough to stay aloft. She dealt with her clinging assailants by going back to her roots as the crime fighting heroine, the Blue Bulleteer..Swinging her arms together with a mighty heave ,she sent the 2 undead anchors clawing at her wrist crashing into each other. The impact was enough to break their grips and they fell back down to the hard floor. With her concentration shaken by the physical exertion of that move The embattled mage is unable to maintain or reboot the levitation spell. She instantly decides on another tactic. Dropping lightly back down to the floor she instantly conjures up a small protective dome around her self. And not a moment too soon For the zombies were upon her in a second, surrounding the dome However they were unable were unable to immediately penetrate the magical protection, though they pounded on the sides and attempted to clamber up on top of it as if they were intent on collapsing the dome by sheer undead physical force .
Laura realized to her dismay that they might well succeed. Already bulges and cracks were beginning to appear on the dome’s smooth surface. Her latest tactic had only gained her a brief respite. She needed to come up with something decisive
And Quickly!

 

MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SCREEN.

She Cat watched as Nightveil walked  up the stone steps and disappeared inside the house.
“O.K Laura, You’re doing your part now it’s time for She Cat to get into the act “
Moving swiftly and silently, Jess made her way around the building, intent on finding a suitable rear entrance.
Arriving at the rear of the structure she entered into a small courtyard, strewn with empty boxes. Noting the loading dock she mentally concluded” This must be where they take deliveries”
Noting a window off to one side of the dock side She Cat ponders briefly “Go in through the window or use the loading dock doors?”
Deciding on extra stealth Jess moves swiftly and silently across the courtyard, vaults easily up onto the dock and creeps up to the window. It slides open easily.
She enters In spite of the seriousness of the situation The Feline Fury could not help but wryly observe “Isn’t this typical Laura Wright the debutante makes a grand arrival through the front doors  while bad girl Jessica comes in like a thief via the tradesmen’ s entrance.”
Looking around she finds herself in what appears to be a large commercial kitchen.” Just what I would have expected to find.” she thinks. Spying a side door she opens it and discovers a wooden staircase descending into darkness”. Bingo! “
Knowing that Laura said that Joan was below ground She Cat hopes that these steps would lead to the missing Ms. Victory .Cautiously she goes down into the darkness as the kitchen door swings shut behind her.
The straight wooden stairs soon give to a spiraling  web strewn stone staircase whose tread was deep , illuminated by an ethereal green glow which seemed to have no direct source. This passage way seemed to go on endlessly, but She Cat pressed on resolutely determined to find her team-mate and friend. Suddenly she was aware of a presence behind her. Jess glanced just in time to see a sinewy arm, wrapped in bandages reaching for her throat. Turning she is confronted by what looks like a classic mummy
Responding instantly, the Feline Fury grabs the outstretched arm at the wrist, intending to snap it off and make short work of this distraction. She really wasn’t expecting what happened next. The mummy pulled his extended left arm back, yanking Jess off balance. As she falls forward her ancient assailant brings up a hard right fist and” busts her right in the chops “ knocking her down on her butt.
Spitting blood Jess glares up at her unexpected opponent.
“You’re a lot stronger and faster than I would have expected, but I don’t have time to play”!”
Leaping back up and charging at the mummy with fangs and claws bared, the Feline Fury planned make short work of this strange new assailant ,slashing him down to a pile of shredded rags. The mummy remained immobile, presenting an easy target. Then, at the last possible second he nimbly sidestepped her onslaught, tripping Jess as she charged past.
She fell down hard onto the hard stone steps, but she was up again in a flash.
Confronting her foe, she raised her fists and snarled “O.K. Bandage Boy, lets see how well you do in a stand-up fight.”
Jess let fly with a flurry of stinging left jabs .Each one found its mark, but with no apparent effect. She fallowed up with a hard right cross and a mean left hook. Either blow would have surly staggered any other opponent but seemingly neither one made any impression on the mummy.
Indeed, the fighting feline thought she saw a slight sneer of contempt on his fabric wrapped features. Undaunted, she unleashed a devastating series of body blows, pummeling his chest and stomach.
She was literally trying to pound in him to a pulp, putting all of her strength into every blow, but she found, to her frustration that it was hitting a canvas punching bag as the mummy just stood there absorbing all the punishment she can dish out. Finally she delivered a straight legged kick right between his legs, saying “OK Bandage Boy lets see you shrug that off.”
Jess steps back to catch her breath, looking for some reaction. The mummy’s only response is to slightly incline his head in what she takes to be an infuriating patronizing attitude. It is as if he is asking “Is that all the little lady can dish out?”
Angered at his perceived insolence, Jess charged at him again with fists flying .She threw  a hard  right intending to smash his face out of the back of his head .But now the mummy had decided to stop being a punching bag. This time “Bandage Boy” blocked her blow and responded with a punch of his own that smacked her right in the eye. Jess saw stars but shrugged it off and pressed her attack with mean left hook. The mummy parried the blow and counter punched landing another blow on her already swollen right eye.
“Damn” thinks Jess “You’ve gotten good all of a sudden. But not good enough to best me!” She continued her attack, but now her opponent blocked every punch while landing plenty of his own. The tide had turned against the valiant heroine.
Jess was on the ropes. Her face was bruised and bleeding with her right nearly swollen shut. Her arms were sore from trying, increasingly unsuccessfully ,to fend off his attack and it felt like a couple of her ribs were cracked .She was fighting a purely defensive battle now ,trying to protect herself from a storm of murderously powerful rock hard fists.
A gut punch caused her to drop her guard which left her open to a hammer blow to the face that had her seeing stars again.
Jess tried to step back hoping to gain some breathing space, but the beating she had taken had left her weak and wobbly and she slipped and fell back onto those cold hard stone steps.

The mummy advanced menacingly, clearly intent on finishing her off.

 

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE DUNGEON…

Ms. Victory had watched the “screens “with dismay while Gorgana cackled with glee. The witch bragged to the heroine,” Thanks to my skill and power my mystic minions and magical creations are destroying your pathetic friends. Soon their worthless lives will be over and then I will attend to you.
Though concerned for her comrades Ms.Victory’s bold reply betrayed no fear as she taunted Gorgana
“Is that the best you can do witch?” You’ll have to do a lot better than that to beat She-Cat and Nightveil.They’ll both soon be back up and kicking your creatures butts!
Angered at the Fem Forcer’s fearless demeanor, Gorgana merely snarled as they both turned their attention back to the screens.

 

NIGHTVEIL

In the ballroom within her protective dome, Nightveil coolly considers her situation.
“These zombies seem to be somehow immune to my magic, so let’s just see how they fare against the effects of my magic”.
Creating a tiny opening at the top of the dome ,the mystic maiden unleashed a tiny beam of concentrated complex mystic energy, invisible to the naked eye which shot straight up until it hit the ceiling .Under Laura’s direction it spread in a continuous stream until it coated the entire stone ceiling. Then she concentrates, silently intoning a complicated series of incantations which result in small points of light appearing all over the magically coated ceiling.
The maid of magic carries on, subtly manipulating these multiple concentrations of mystic energy as tiny cracks in the ceiling begin to appear at each point of light. Thanks to a lifetime and hard study and diligent practice Laura has the technical skill and mental discipline to accomplish this complex and delicate maneuver with still maintaining her protective dome, undistracted by the pounding and moaning of the zombie horde.
The cracks widen and deepen as the zombies continue their assault and the dome begins to buckle under their constant pounding, but Laura pays no heed, as she calmly carries on .A long minute passes with no result, then suddenly with a roar the entire the entire ceiling collapses crushing the zombies and burying Laura’s protective dome.
“How in the name of the seven devils did that worthless witch do that?” screeched Gorgana.But before the ghoul can further react Ms.Victory mockingly draws her attention to She Cat’s screen.

 

SHE CAT

Laying flat on her back, bruised and bloodied, on the cold hard stone steps, Jess has decided to switch tactics.
I can’t beat him head on, so it’s time to fight smart.
Ignoring the pain of her previous pounding, the Feline Fury leaps up and charges again, as if to make another fruitless frontal assault the mummy moves forward ready to smash her down again .And this time,permenantly.But then, at the last possible second  she vaults up and over her  assailant .Landing lightly behind him she spins and gives him a shove .He topples over and gravity does the rest. The mummy tumbles down the steps, striking the hard sharp surfaces again and again.
“Hope you are enjoying your trip’ Jess calls out as she strides along, close behind administering a series of hard ,swift kicks ,aiming for his head and spine , to keep her opponent rolling along. When he finally crashed into the ironbound wooden door at the bottom of the stairs, the mummy was little more than a collection of cracked and broken bones wrapped in a mass of torn dusty bandages.
He tried to get up, but could only twitch impotently, like a puppet that has had its strings cut. Though it was plain to see that he would be staying down, Jess stomped down hard on the badly dented skull, shattering it in a personally satisfying “coup de grace.”

 

BACK AT THE DUNGEON

The hideous ghoul shrieked in an unholy rage, as Ms.Victory continued to taunt her “Well Gorgana even with your precious Stone of Kysmon,You’ve failed again. I guess you’re just not a very good sorceress .Gorgana turned to face the   Fem Forcer.
“Silence, you hyper patriotic simpleton. Up till now I’ve just been toying with your do-gooder friends, but no more! I’m going to destroy the lot of you!
Fixing Ms.Victory with an murderous 3-eyed stare she continued.
“You’ll be the first to die. When your useless friends arrive I’ll let them live just long enough to see your bloody and broken  corpse.”
Striding over to the wrought stand the green skinned ghoul snatched up the Stone of Kysmon and clasped it to her thrusting bosom. She breathed in deeply as if to drain more of the artifacts mystic energy into herself.
“Excellent” thought Joan “now’s my chance.”

 

MINUTES LATER

 

Night veil materialized in the dungeon, just as She Cat burst in through the door.
“Well Hi there! Glad you could make it!”Ms.Victory greeted her teammates.
Though disheveled and bedraggled, she stood triumphantly over an unconscious Gorgana, who lay on the stone floor, wrapped up in the chains that had formerly held the heroine.
“Better late than never than never.” replied Nightveil “Though it appears that you have the situation well in hand.”
Just to be on the safe side The sorceress cast a stasis spell over Gorgana, putting her in a psychic coma.
“You had better take charge of this” says Ms. Victory as she handed over the glowing gem over to Nightveil.
“The Stone of Kysmon! That explains where all this mystic energy came from.” replied Laura as she put the gem into a pouch under her belt.
“I’ll make sure that this artifact is kept in a safe place.”
Suddenly there was a low grinding sound as everything seemed to melt and blur around. When their surroundings solidified the Fem Forcers found them selves in what appeared to be the basement of a run down abandoned seaside hotel.
“Some one wanna tell me what’s going on?” asks She-Cat.
It looks like Gorgana’s spells are dissipating” answered Nightveil .Our surroundings are returning to their original state. Only an amateur would waste so much mystic energy on window dressing.”
“It was lucky for us that she spent more time and effort on interior decorating instead of improving her skills” observed Ms. Victory.
She Cat waved her hand dismissively, “Ahh , we would have beat her anyway. She’s a lonely loser .We always find a way to come out on top We’re a team of winners.”
On that note Nightveil applied a levitation spell to Gorgana and guided their defeated foe into the Quinjet as the team made their outside and into their transport for the ride home. Once airborne, with Ms.Victory controls, and after a brief interim report to General Strock at F.F.HQ. ,the  3 friends share the details of their separate adventures and fill in the blanks of the over-all story.
“When I regained consciousness” said Joan “Gorgana helpfully told me all about the stone of Kysmon and explained her plan.”
“Yeah” interjected Jess” They always talk too much.”
‘Yes, well anyway.” continued Joan “I knew that the witch did not have the technical skills and the mental discipline to effectively use her enhanced powers. When her surrogates failed to defeat either of you Gorgana became more and  more angry and frustrated and was so distracted that she forgot to maintain the spell that enhanced my restraints. I was able to break free and knock her out before she could launch another more powerful attack against the 2 of you.’
‘That must have been when the mystic fog suddenly lifted, just after I brought down the roof on those zombies, crushing them all. I was able to psychicly pinpoint your location exactly and teleported there at once  “responded Laura”
“And that’s right when I finished off “Bandage Boy” and came running. Of course by then you were already OK” added Jess, wincing slightly from the pain of her cracked ribs.”I guess I was just a fifth wheel on this mission “
“Not even close “stated Joan firmly “I never would have been able to free myself if the two of you and Laura hadn’t defeated Gorgana’s creations so decisively. Like you said ‘Jess ,we are a team.
Noting her friend’s discomfort and battered appearance Joan added “Jess it looks like you were in the hardest fight of the three of us. Make sure you go down to the Infirmary when we get back and have the doctor’s check out your injuries. “
“ Ahh. I’m OK. It’ll take more than a bandage wrapped bag of bones to hurt me ‘“However the sharp pain of her cracked ribs caused her to reconsider and she added.” Still I could go for some time in the Hyro-Pool and maybe a therapeutic massage treatment from that hot new physical therapist. I’ll head down right after the meeting.
“Good “said Joan as she began the final approach to F.F.HQ.’s rooftop landing strip. She thought to herself” I hope it’s  a short meeting With luck I can get home in time for that long hot bath and some quality time with Chuck. Maybe if I am lucky I can combine the two.’ She smiled at the thought.

 

EPILOUGE

 

Ms. Victory got her wish. The meeting was short. However what happened to her on the way home is another story.

 

The End.(?)

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON FRIDAY THE 24nd.Threeta by Mark HeikeTodays’ giveaway of the day is a piece of  original inked artwork used for the cover design as seen on GARGANTARAMA-  THE COMIC BOOK #6, the flip-book feature with FEMFORCE#142, as drawn by by yours truly, Mark Heike. This shot of the AC gientess heroine THREETA swooping up to nab two lady bank-robbers was used for the figural part of the colorful cover to CTCB #6; as those who own the book know, the background of the shot is an actual photograph of an area of Downtown Orlando. On the printed piece, this drawing was colored by (and comped together with the background photo ) by my talented wife, Stephanie. This hand-drawn, one-of-a-kind piece was rendered in pencil and then finished in India ink via my best #2, Series 7 Windsor-Newton brush.  It measures 8 1/4″ X 12″ on a 17′ X 11″ piece of single-ply bond paper. The first customer today who places an order for just $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original art ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free THREETA original cover drawing!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP. Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the THREETA cover drawing is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S  THREETA original cover drawing giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

Rad graphic novel cover

Rad graphic novel coverSORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON WEDNESDAY THE 22nd.Today’s Giveaway of the day is for all AC/FEMFORCE collectors who THINK they have everything! It is a special “grab-bag” selection of licensed graphic novels from our overseas licensors Universe Comics Unlimited in France; Edicola del fumetto in Italy and Prime Evroznak in Russia! Anyone who purchases at least $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store today will be qualified to recieve SEVEN FEMFORCE licensed graphic novels, including “Timestorm”(reprinting FF Up Close #10, Sentinels of Justice Volume 2 #3 and other stories),

Russian Shroud War GN cover

“Capricorn Chronicles”(reprinting FF #’s54-56) and “Rad vs Everybody”(reprinting FF #’s 21-23)  published in black & white under license by Edicola del fumetto in Italian; “The New Ms. Victory” (reprinting FF #’s 24-26), “Under the Shadow of the Shroud”(reprinting FF #’s 34-46), and “Rad vs Rad”(reprinting FF #’s 47-50)  published in black & white under license by Prime Evroznak in Russian, and “Golden Titans” #1, published in FULL COLOR utilizing Golden Age material originally reprinted bt AC COMICS in various issies of Men of Mystery, in French. These books are on differing paper stocks, in slightly different formats and feature cover coloring (and

Golden Titans cover art

sometimes artwork) NOT seen on the AC original printings or source materials, and can be an interesting addition to anyone’s collection. And for today only, the first THREE  AC web shop buyers who purchase $50.00 or more of merchandise on the AC shop will recieve ALL SEVEN of these foreign-language AC licensed graphic novels ABSOLUTELY FREE! So- make your $50.00 purchase of ANY items on the AC shop that you care to, then email me at femforcehq@aol.comand say “I want my foreign-language licensed FEMFORCE graphic novels grab-bag!!”, and if you’re one of the first three customers today to do so, we’ll include the books with your $50.00 order

Italian Caoricorn Chronicles cover art

ABSOLUTELY FREE! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collectors have taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once the lucky winners have responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item Rad Russian GH coveris gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!!Italian Timestorm GN cover art

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON MONDAY THE 20ThShe- Cat splash page Today’s Giveaway of the day is a piece of original pencil artwork used as the splash page to the SHE-CAT story “Road Trip” in FEMFORCE #148, as drawn by yours truly, Mark Heike. This finished-pencil drawing of SHE-CAT on the lookout for The MACHETEER,  eventually inked by star embellisher Jeff Austin for publication in FF #148, but since much of the trafficing and production in preparing AC COMICS for publication these days involves emailing and electronic files, the inked page Jeff did (that was actually used in the book) was done from a SCAN of this drawing, so that thew original pencils still exist in pristine consdition. This hand-drawn, one-of-a-kind piece is done in HB lead with a mechanical pencil  is 8 1/4″  X 13 1/4″on a 17″ X 11″ sheet of single-ply bond paper. The first customer today who places an order for just $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original art ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free Mark Heike She-Cat original splash page!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP. Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the SHE-CAT splash  is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S SHE-CAT original page giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

 

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Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 8

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Volume 8 cover art

Golden Age Greats Spotlight Volume 8 cover artPrice: $29.95

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“Outrageous” Good Girl Art is the focus of the latest issue of AC’s acclaimed GOLDEN AGE GREATS SPOTLIGHT series; Volume 8, available NOW here on the AC Comics web store. It’s 160 pages chock-full of the sultriest, sexiest pin-up style girls ever to appear in comics, with examples spanning four decades of the medium’s history. 22 full story reprints, plus an overview and commentary by comic book historian Bill Black. This volume features never-before-reprinted adventures starring DAGAR the DESERT HAWK; Frank Frazetta’s teen cutie from Standard/Nedor Pubs, KATHY; SOUTH SEA GIRL: OZARK IKE, KATY of the CHORUS, JAGUAR BOND and Wally Wood’s FAR OUT FABLES; plus spectacular examples of female pulchritude in stories showcasing Fox Features RULAH and PHANTOM LADY and Fiction House’ SKY GIRL (2 stores each); MITZI in HOLLYWOOD; jungle queens JUDY of the JUNGLE and TANGI; more fanrastic Frazetta females in LOOIE LAZIBONES; the Wally Wood latin bombshell CHIQUITA; a pair of Bill Ward’s classic TORCHY stories; the “other” great Quality Comics GGA character, CHOO CHOO and more. Spotlights the lush and sensual artwork of MATT BAKER (SIX Baker stories in all!), JIM MOONEY, BILL EVERETT, JACK KAMEN, ARTIE SAAF, JOHN SPRANGER, RALPH MAYO, BOB POWELL, DAN DeCARLO,RAY GOTTO, BOB LUBBERS and more!! All spectacularly reproduced in sparkling black & white utilizing AC’s state-of-the-art reproduction techniques. If you are a fan of “good girl” art, you can’t miss this book!! Standard Comic book size, 160 pages, saddle stitched, black & white with color covers. ( please note that this is for mature readers only, as it does contain some very minor nudity) Released by AC Comics in 2012.

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM SOON.Today’s Giveaway of the day is the SadLittle.com FEMFORCE Trading Card Set. This beautiful, full-color 50- card set of offocially-licensed, professionally-produced non-sport trading cards was released by SadLittle in 2011, and features SHE-CAT, NIGHTVEIL. Ms. VICTORY, RAD, TARA, STARDUST, SYNN, YANKEE GIRL, NYOKA, and dozens of other AC heroes, heroines, villains and supporting characters, as rendered by AC artists like Javier Lugo and  Ed Coutts, big-name pros like Bart Sears, and a myriad of other great artists. In addition to the colorful standard pre-printed cards, each set comes with an original, hand-drawn, full color SKETCH CARD- an actual, one-of-a-kind piece of original card-sized art- unique to each individual pack. These sets come factory- sealed in shrink-wrap, and are an excellent value on their own, BUT for this special giveaway, we will alsoBlue Belleteer card include 1 copy each of the four special promotional photo cards featuring SmartyPants/CultRetro stars of the live-action AC/FEMFORCE  DVD videos “The Amazing Colossal Womam”. “Stormy Tempest- Attack of the Giantess”, “The Return of Nyoka The Jungle Girl” and “Nightveil: The Sorcerer’s Eye”, NICOLA RAE, BRENNA BARRY and MARIA PARIS!!The first  five customers today who places an order for just $20.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this great card set ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free FEMFORCE Garganta card arttrading card set!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP. Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $20.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item. Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re one of the first five qualifying  respondents, the card set is Nyoka cardyours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once five lucky winners have responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER Stormy Tempest cardgreat giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!!

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

Rad versus Miss Victory by John Nadeau

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON THURSDAY THE 16Th.

Today’s Giveaway of the day is a piece of unpublished, never seen original pencil artwork for a proposed cover design for FEMFORCE #37 (circa 1990)  drawn by cover artist for FF #158 and Crypt of Horror Volume 13, John Nadeau!! This finished-pencil drawing of RAD and the Golden Age MISS VICTORY locked in a life-or-death struggle was done as a possible cover for the issue (in which John N. drew the FEMFORCE adventure), although Will Meugniot actually ended up drawing the cover that was used on the book. Nadeau has drawn a number of fan-favotite FEMFORCE tales over the years, including “Alliances” in FF #31, “War” (the middle part of the Shadow of the Shroud” story arc) in FEMFORCE  #35;  “Shark Bait” in FF #42, “Beauty and the Beast” in #43, and the SHE-CAT story in AC Annual #2, to name a few. John went on to pencil a number of titles at Acclaim/Valiant, and a long run on the Star Wars titles at Dark Horse Comics. He’s also working on a new Stormy Tempest alternate cover for an upcoming issue of FEMFORCE. This hand-drawn, one-of-a-kind piece is done in carbon pencil on 11″ X 16.5″ single-ply Bristol board, and is a great action shot showing the tension in the RAD/Ms.V struggle. The first customer today who places an order for just $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original  art  ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free John Nadeau original drawing!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the John Nadeau drawing is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S John Nadeau original page giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

Femforce Cloisonne rings

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON TUESDAY THE 14Th.

Today’s Giveaway of the day is a set of 8 FEMFORCE porcelain and metal cloisonne rings!! These rings, originally created as a licensed item in 1994 by the Great American Ring Company. originally sold individually at $10.95 apiece. Based on the artwork of Brad Gorby, Will Meugniot, Mark Heike and Mike Zeck, this set features colorful likenesses of RAD, MS. VICTORY, SYNN, RAYDA, STARDUST, SHE-CAT, TARA and NIGHTVEIL, each on an adjustable, one-size-fits-all metal ring. The first TWO customers today who place an order for just $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this collection of quality FEMFORCE related premiums no longer available for sale ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free set of FEMFORCE cloisonne rings!”  We’ll then ship you these great items along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve these rare items. Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re one of the first two qualifying respondants,the set of FEMFORCE cloisonne rings is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!!

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

 

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON SUNDAY THE 12Th.

Singapore Sal by Nick Northey and Jeff AustinToday’s Giveaway of the day is the original, hand-created inked artwork for an ACTUAL PAGE used in FEMFORCE #135, the fifth page of the third chapter of that issue’s FEMFORCE lead story, as penciled by Nick Northey and inked by Jeff Austin!!  This slickly-rendered, sexy and sensual full-page splash of the villainous SINGAPORE  SAL is the very piece of 11″ X 16.5″ single-ply Bristol board that Nick & Jeff worked on, presented here without the word balloons (which were added digitally on the printed version),  which  will make this a superb display piece. Nick Northey has drawn a number of memorable FF stories over the years, dating all the way back to “Monsters” in FF #11, “Gay Deceievers” in GOOD GIRL ART QUARTERLY #6, the Wild Side series in JUNGLE GIRLS 14, 15 & 16, and the TOMBOY back-up story in FF #124, to name a few. Jeff Austin has become the inker MOST identified with The FEMFORCE over the last decade, helping define the look of the team overall, having had artwork in virtually EVERY issue of FEMFORCE since #120, and all will agree that he and Nick make a GREAT FEMFORCE art team. The original art from either of these artists is hard to come by, but an original which is a collaboration of them BOTH- on such a hot-looking display piece is almost unheard of. Here’s your chance to get this piece of unique artwork!! The first customer today who places an order for  $100.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original “good girl” art ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free Nick and Jeff original FEMFORCE page!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $100.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the Nick Northey/Jeff Austin drawing is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S Nick Northey/Jeff Austin original page giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

Sheena DVD box wrapper

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON FRIDAY THE 10Th.

Today’s Giveaway of the day is a FREE copy of the long-out-of-print vintage reprint TPB The Golden Age Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, to the first FIVE buyers who pick up the recently-released QUEEN  OF  THE JUNGLE  live-action SHEENA DVD starring Irish McCalla, at it’s regular AC web shop price of $12.95. Now the QUEEN OF THE  JUNGLE feature is actually a rediting of 4 episodes of the classic (and rare) 1956 Nassour Brothers-produced Sheena TV series.  Statuesque beauty Irish MaCalla made a perfect real-life version of the comic book jungle queen, and the series may surprise contemporary audiences with it’s violence. While a number of the individual TV episodes have been circulated and available for some time, ONE of the episodes used to make this feature has NOT. It is apparently LOST, and unavailable anywhere EXCEPT in this feature version. So if you think you already HAVE all the Sheena TV episodes that can be had, you DON’T without THIS great DVD. And for today only, the first FIVE  AC web shop buyers who snag this DVD can also get a chance to see where this classic concept was taken from, with a free copy of the GOLDEN  AGE SHEENA – Queen of the Jungle trade Cover art for Sheena TPBpaperback, reprinting SIX of Sheena’s most exciting comic book adventures (in black and white) from the acclaimed Fiction House publications original comic book series of the 1940’s and 50’s- plus a text history of Sheena by comics historians Bill Black and Bill Ferret. This book had been out of print and unavailable for some years, until we recently found an unopened box of them in the AC warehouse. So- if you buy a copy of the Queen of the Jungle DVD on the AC web shop today, email me at femforcehq@aol.com and say “I want my free GOLDEN  AGE  SHEENA- Queen of the Jungle book”, and if you’re one of the first  five customers today to do so, we’ll include the book with your DVD  ABSOLUTELY FREE! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collectors have taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once the lucky winners have responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!!

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Today’s Web Shop Giveaway Item by Mark Heike

SORRY, THIS ITEM IS NOW OFF OF THE BOARD AND UNAVAILABLE. LOOK FOR ANOTHER NEW GIVEAWAY ITEM LATE ON WEDNESDAY THE 8Th.

Dave Roberts Femforce Pin-UpToday’s Giveaway of the day is a piece of unpublished, original pencil artwork of The FEMFORCE circa 1991 drawn by legendary FF artist Dave Roberts!! This detailed group shot showcasing NIGHTVEIL, STARDUST, SYNN, SHE-CAT, DRAGONFLY and Ms. VICTORY( with Ms. V in a unique, alternate costume look of Daves’s own design that was never seen elsewhere) was hand-drawn by Dave in carbon pencil on a piece of  11.5″ X 16″  single-ply Bristol board, and has never seen print.  Dave is of course the artist on so many great issues of FEMFORCE , including  #62; the Rur War trilogy of FF #’s 65, 66 & 67; the long-out-of-print GOOD GIRL ART QUARTETLY #7; and FEMFORCE UP CLOSE #’s 1, 2, 3, and 10. Dave also went on to draw MANTRA for both Malibu Comics and Marvel. Here’s your chance to get a piece of his original artwork!! The first customer today who places an order for just $50.00 worth of merchandise on the AC web store can recieve this classic piece of original “good girl” art ABSOLUTELY FREE simply by emailing me at femforcehq@aol.com after placing your web shop order and saying “I want my free Dave Roberts original drawing!” We’ll then ship you this great item along with the rest of your merchandise ASAP.  Now, you can buy any items you’d like on the AC web store, so long as the total value of the items purchased comes to AT LEAST $50.00. If there are AC products you’ve been thinking about getting but hadn’t ordered yet, now will be the perfect time, as your purchase can qualify you to recieve this rare, one-of-a-kind item.Just be sure to email me with your request as soon as you’ve made your order, and if you’re the first qualified respondent, the Dave Roberts drawing is yours absolutely free!! But remember this item- and this offer- is ONLY available today. When tomorrow rolls around, this freebie deal is GONE, whether any lucky collector has taken advantage of it or not. That’s the deal with AC’s February Freebie promotion. Once a lucky winner has responded to today’s deal, I will put a notice on this posting that today’s item is gone. But do check back often, because within another day or two, we’ll have ANOTHER great giveaway going, all through February Freebie month here on the AC web shop!! (Please note that TODAY’S Dave Roberts original page giveaway is ONLY open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico, because of the cost and logistics of safely mailing this rare, irreplaceable item overseas.)

 

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Giveaways In February on the AC Web Store by Mark Heike

Chris Allen She-Cat paintingFebruary, 2012 will be “Giveaway Month” on the accomics.com web shop!! Starting on Monday, we’ll be offering a special free  (usually one-of-a-kind )item for the first customer who makes a qualifying web shop purchase. Sometimes it might be a piece of original AC Comics art (published or UNPUBLISHED) for the FIRST person who orders $50.00 or $100.00 worth of merchandise on the AC shop; or perhaps a rare collectible or freebie for the first 5 or 10 customers who place an order for a specific item- but on ALL accounts it will be FREE SWAG if you are a qualifying buyer!! We will be posting a new “giveaway of the day” every few days here on the site, so be sure to check back often. Now, PLEASE NOTE that EACH giveaway will be offered for a 24 HOUR PERIOD only. Once the first person (or persons, in the event of a multiple-item offering) has made their purchase and emailed me at : femforcehq@aol.com to say they’ve placed their AC shop order  and want to claim the giveaway item, the sweepstakes FOR THAT DAY is over, and I’ll immediately post that we have a winner. If NO qualifying buyer emails to claim the goodie within that 24- hour period, that item is OUT of the February giveaway, and will not return. Every new giveaway will feature a new preimum, so if you see something you want, you’ll need to act on it immediately. The giveaway will run like this: see an item you want in a giveaway post here on the AC blog ; go to the AC shop and make a qualifying purchase (details may vary from one giveaway to the next), THEN email me at femforcehq@aol.com to say you’ve made the buy and want your prize. The cagey collector may want to take a run through the web shop NOW, and compile a list of possible items to consider buying, so that information is ready and at hand should a giveaway item catch your eye. Acting fast may make the difference on some of the one-of-a-kind items. Remember what Edna Mould always says: “Luck favors the prepared.”

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Art Editing and Inking by Mark Heike

Cover art for Femforce #148When putting together a comic book, an editor hopes that every step will run smoothly, and that each phase involves a creator turning in work that is absolutely perfect. Mind you, in the “real world”, that perfection part doesn’t happen too often. Since every creator’s vision is a little different, tweaks must often be made along the way to keep the creative vision intact from starting point to finished product. As one might imagine, the earlier in the process that revisions can be made, the better. That way, the original creator can usually make the changes themselves; the finished product comes out best, and all parties involved (editors, creators and readers) end up happy. Sometimes- for a variety of reasons (usually related to time, cost, or logistics in general) editorial changes have to be made later on along

Page 1 pencils by Antonio Gerardo Ceglia

Page 1 pencils by Antonio Gerardo Ceglia

the process, and the industrious editor must do the best he can. Such was the case involving the artwork for “Shakedown”, a SHE-CAT story that ran back in FEMFORCE #148. We had the pencils (from artist Antonio Gerardo Ceglia) in hand, but they were not 100% of what we wanted for the story, and Antonio was not available for revisions. We at AC Comics typically prefer to work with VERY strong inkers like Jeff Austin. Jeff is a consummate illustrator, and has the all-around skills and judgement to know where to limit his contribution to adding lineweights and a bit of shading, and where to punch-up the artwork and take over as more of a finish artist. In most cases, I

Page 1 inks by Mark Heike

Page 1 inks by Mark Heike

can hand almost anything to Jeff without needing to give him ANY direction, and the finished product is perfection. In the case of “Shakedown”, the amount of revision it needed varied wildly from page to page, even panel to panel, so I felt that this project might be a little too much to ask of Jeff. And, he was also already working on a number of other stories for the same issue- so I decided to handle the finish-off and inking on “Shakedown” myself. It’s always an interesting challenge to go through a penciler’s work when a job has been rushed or completed under difficult circumstances, and see what can stand on it’s own and what needs a little help. On the first intro/prologue page for “Shakedown” the storytelling was really quite solid; everything that was there worked good. In the inking, all it

Page 2 pencils by Antonio Gerardo Ceglia

Page 2 pencils by Antonio Gerardo Ceglia

needed was some crisping-up of the linework, adding solid black areas and making the likenessess of the “bad guys” different enough from each other to be distinctive. When moving onto the second page (which was actually the “splash page” for this story) , I felt that the angle of SHE-CAT’s leap into the room was too static, and her placement in relation to the villains didn’t play up the feeling of violent motion, so I went back to “the drawing board”, as it were, for a re-imagining of Antonio’s original idea, but from a different angle. I change SC’s pose and lunge, and added lots of breaking glass to convey the feeling that she was really barreling into the bad guy’s hideout and posed a major

Page 2 inks by Mark Heike

Page 2 inks by Mark Heike

threat to them. If you want to see how the rest of the story comes out, check out FF #148, available from our web store. This sort of “on-the-fly” alteration and revision is just part of the normal day-to-day work involved in putting out a comic book. An editor is always trying to craft the best stoty experience possible.

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Warren King Revisited by Mark Heike

Warren King Firefly splash pageI made mention of this unheralded but great comic book artist of the Golden Age in a post several months ago, but I feel he deserves a closer look. I was showing some of his most impressive art to my wife Stephanie a few days ago, and once again expressing my bewilderment at the fact that almost NO ONE, not even other self-acclaimed comic art experts seem to know anything about him. Steph opined that since the overwhelming majority of his comics work was in the early MLJ comics, which have been rather pricey for many decades; perhaps he’s simply not been seen. So, we’re presenting just a few of his Warren King Keith Kornell splash pagespectacular pages from the early 1940s (he was very prolific in the MLJ titles), and telling you what little I have unearthed about the man himself.  Born in 1916, he would’ve been in his mid-to-late 20’s when he was working for MLJ, which may account for the fact that his work was more polished than the younger artists that handled most of the rest of the features. He worked at some point as an assistant to cartoonist Rube Goldberg, and started out in comics toiling in the Harry “A” Chesler shop, from whence most of the early MLJ creators (like Charles Biro, Bob Wood, Jack Cole, Mort Meskin, Jack Binder, Irv Novick, Lin Streeter and Bernie Klein ) emigrated once that company Warren King Bob Phantom splash pageput together it’s own editorial staff. Before devoting most of his labors to MLJ, King did work on a few stories for Victor Fox’s line of comics; on The BANSHEE in Mystery Men, and SPIDER QUEEN, in Eagle Comics. We have reprinted one SPIDER QUEEN story here at AC, in the now-out-of-print Men Of Mystery #85, but I do not believe that particular story is drawn by Warren King. Between 1940 and 1944, King drew virtually ALL the major MLJ costumed heroes at one point or another, as well as a number of the non-costumed adventure features as well. He drew  The FOX and  CAPTAIN FLAG in Blue Ribbon Comics;  BLACKJACK in Zip Comics; The HANGMAN in Pep Comics; and The BLACK HOOD,The Firefly by Warren KingWIZARD, BOB PHANTOM, KARDAK the MYSTIC, KAYO WARD, and KEITH KORNELL in Top Notch Comics at various points. Some accounts list him as having drawn The SHIELD, as well- though I’ve never seen an example of his artwork on that character. And though I find no other corroborating accounts, I once owned the last issue of Jackpot Comics, which had a MR. JUSTICE story obviously drawn by Mr. King. His finest work may have been on The FIREFLY, another Top-Notch strip. Originally created and drawn by thre tragic Bob Wood, King took over after the first two episodes and seemed to illustrate every FIREFLY story after that, running from Top-Notch 10-27, the more Firefly by Kingcharacter’s last Golden Age appearance. In addition to his daring, dynamic layouts; bold figure work and dramatic faces, King also must’ve taken a hand in coloring many of the strips he did, as they often had moody, multiple-screen tones NOT seen on other artist’s strips in the same books with his. An artists actually coloring- or even CARING about the coloring of his artwork in the Golden Age was almost unheard-of; but it’s apparent that King did. After his stint at MLJ, King apparently did some work for the very obscure Albrecht Publishing Company, on their title The Conquerors, plus a feature more King Fireflycalled SANDY; then the equally-little-known E. R. Ross pubs’ MISS SHADY strip.  He is also reported to have done some work on the Fawcett comics of the late-1940’s, but it’s not clear on what features. He was apparently active doing covers and interiors on romance books and other non-costumed features for St. John occasionally up until 1954. By the mid-1950’s, he was moving into syndicated newspaper cartooning, and became an acclaimed editorial cartoonist, even winning the National Cartoonists Society Best Edotorial Cartoonist Award in 1968. He was also cheif staff cartoonist and cheif editorial cartoonist at the prestigious New York Daily News.  He passed away in 1978.Keith Kornell by Warren King

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Stardust: BACK On The Moon In 2012 by Mark Heike

Stardust splash by The Count and Mark HeikeWay back in the halcyon days of 1990, legendary AC creator The Count, A.K.A. Richard Rome wrote and drew the now-classic story “Stardust Memories” (with a little help from Your Truly on inks) in FEMFORCE #26. It was in commemoration of the transplanted Rurian’s birthday, and she made a solo pilgrimage to Earth’s satellite to perform a native ritual, which gave a convenient excuse to reprise her origin. Well, Dusty will be making another lunar trip for her birthday THIS year, in an all-new story plotted by JohnJG and drawn by everybodies’ favorite, Rock Baker. This time, the birthday celebration has some party crashers, with an unexpected result. Not sure yet what issue of FF it will run in, but with a team of creative heavy hitters like the Dusty by The Count and Heikeaforementioned pair, you know it’ll be great!!

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Remembering Rudy Palais by Mark Heike

Rudy Palais Stormy Foster splash pageAnother one of my favorite-but-unheralded artists from the Golden Age of comics is the ubiquitous Rudy Palais. Extremely prolific from the early 1940’s through the mid- 1950’s Rudy’s artwork appeared within the pages of almost every publisher’s offerings at one point or another, in a wide variety of genre’s, from adventure to humor, funny animal, teenage, horror and war. ( Rudy also had a brother, Walter by name, who also worked in the comics field in the 1940s; for Fiction House and a few other publishers.) At his best, Rudy’s work was distinctively evocative, filled with slit-eyed heroes, leggy, wide-eyed women, all displaying exaggerated facial expressions and body language. He could spot his blacks generously, used silouette Rudy Palais Magno and Davey splash 1judiciously, and always inked with a bold and snappy thick brush line. The most distinctive feature of his work is that, when things got intense, his characters would SWEAT. Not a lot of Golden Age artists would bother with depicting persperation, but Rudy did. Never a “star” illustrator, he did have some memorable runs drawing costumed characters of the 1940’s; usually finishing up after bigger-name artists left back-up features for the big companies, or drawing the adventures of the marquee stars for the smaller companies. Characters that bore the Palais touch included The BLACK ANGEL, STORMY FOSTER, The BLACK CONDOR, The BOY KING, MAGNO and DAVEY, CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS, Cat-Man and KITTEN, LITTLE LEADERS, The RECKONER, The DEACON and MICKEY, The CLAW, Mr. RISK, Dr. MID-NITE, DOLLMAN, HUNT BOWMAN, MANHUNTER, PHANTOM LADY, The RAY, The RED COMET, The Rudy Palais Mr. Risk splash pageSPIDER WIDOW, The UNKNOWN, and The UNKNOWN SOLDIER are just a few of the heroes and heroines he drew. His work seemed highly affected by the time he spent early in his career working in Will Eisner’s Tudor City studios, with  stylistic influences ranging from Reed Crandall to Lou Fine- all filtered through his own, somewhat wacky approach. Comics historians who only know Rudy from his later work on the ACG and Charlton books (into the 1960s ) usually discount him. In addition, he had an almost 20-year association with Gilberton Publishing working on the CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED line of comics, before he retired in 1969. To be honest, I am NOT familiar with his work during that period, so I cannot give an informed opinion on how much his work might have deteriorated by then. Even in his early days, one can occasionally see the effects of having to complete a rush job, but when he could take his time, his Rudy Palais Magno and Davey splash 2work could be highly effective.  Excellent examples of Rudy’s art have been reprinted in AC books like Good Girl Art Quarterly #15 (on  BLACK  VENUS) ; Golden Age Greats Spotlight Special Volume 6 (on CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS); Men of Mystery #47 (on MAGNO and DAVEY); and Men of Mystery #20 (on The SPIDER WIDOW).  Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to present more great Rudy Palais art in future. I  encourage discriminating panelologists to check out the work of this interesting stylist; you too might find it worth a read.

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30 Years of AC Comics by Mark Heike

Fun Comics #4 cover

Fun Comics #4 coverMovie madman and digital genius JohnJG brought something to my attention within the last week or so, something that had previously escaped my notice. Since THE very FIRST, OFFICIAL AC Comics comic book (Fun Comics #4, by the way ) actually rolled off of the presses in December of 1982; this year of 2012 will mark 30 years of AC Comics. Of course, nothing is EVER what it seems in the AC world, and that includes our history. Since our Fearless Leader Bill Black was actually publishing comic book material starring the likes of Synn, Captain Paragon, Scarlet Scorpion, The Shade; etc for more than a dozen years before that. (Under his pre-AC Paragon Publications imprint, as everyone knows. And if you DON’T know, you’ll have the opportunity to learn all about it in March if you get the big, 200-page, magazine-sized Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Pubs Story coverStory TPB. If you haven’t already done so, order it NOW with your local retailer. Tell him you want DCD item #DEC110766, from the December issue of Diamond Previews.) The AC imprint was launched through the burgeoning comic book specialty store direct-sales market 29 Decembers ago, and has been publishing continuously, releasing new material every month since. Quite a run, if we do say so ourselves. Throughout the entire history of the American comic book, there are but a precious few publishers who have lasted as long as three decades. Obviously, Marvel, DC and Archie Comics, even though they started out as MLJ Magazines back in 1939. Fantagraphics, too has stood the test of time, starting out as a contemporary of Paragon; we congratulate them on their longevity, as well. Among defunct publishers, Harvey Comics had the best run. Starting out in 1941 when Alfred Harvey bought Speed and Champion Comics from their original owner, Harvey produced comics until 1989, with the last issue of Richie Rich Relics. Fawcett actually lasted 40 years. Though they cancelled most of their line along with the Marvel Family in 1953, they DID occasionally release licensed Dennis the Menace comic books into 1980. The venerable Dell comics line of pioneer George Delacorte made it. Their first offering actually appeared in 1936, with the last comic books appearing on newsstands with Dell logos in 1973. If you count the continuation of some Dell properties through the Whitman/Gold Key imprint, you can add another decade on top of that. Charlton almost made it. Although they started life under a different name in 1944, management and ownership remained consistent until they relinquished their comics line in 1983. Although the company remained officially in business for some years beyond that, they were no longer actively producing comic books. EC is not usually considered in this sort of discussion, as their run of producing actual “comic book ” format comics ran from 1946-1956. Mad switched over to black & white magazine format with issue #24, and though it was published officially by EC until bought out by DC Comics in the mid-’80’s, is not usually considered a “comic book” per se, after issue #23. Other venerable publishers that NEVER made it include the American Comics Group. They spanned several eras, running from 1943 to 1967, but didn’t even make the quarter-century mark. Prize Comics might surprise a few, but they came on the scene in 1940, and their long-running Black Magic book actually lasted into 1961. Standard/Better/Nedor technically survived two decades, starting up with the sideways-format Best Comics in 1939, and releasing their LAST comic book under the Pines logo in 1959. Quality Comics lasted less than 20 years, even if you start counting from the first issue of Feature Funnies- actually published by Harry “A” Chesler until bought out by Quality’s Everett Arnold in 1939. They were out of the comic publishing biz by 1957. Hillman, Fiction House and Lev Gleason hung on in the 15-16 year range, with all other publishers lasting for shorter durations. So Eagle Awards logothirty years is a big deal in this business. In most businesses, when you come down to it. We’re not sure what we may do to celebrate this milestone. Getting the Eagle Awards nominations this year is rather nice; don’t forget to go to the Eagle Awards website and look for AC and AC-related creators to vote for, by the way. Any other suggestions from you readers out there?

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Femforce 158 LAST COPY LEFT!!

Femforce 158 cover art

Femforce 158 cover artPrice: $100.00

 

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ONLY ONE COPY LEFT IN STOCK!! Bigger and better than ever, this issue features 87 PAGES OF ALL-NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN story and art!! Beyond John Nadeau’s breathtaking digitally-painted cover, you’ll read the stunning conclusion to the long-running “Living In Synn” storyline, in a 24-page lead feature written by Mark Heike, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Learn the REAL reason behind Synn’s loss of control, and see MS. VICTORY, STARDUST and NIGHTVEIL shrink to microscopic size to deal with it. You MAY be shocked to learn the cause of it all, and who saves the day in the end!! Then, it’s STORMY TEMPEST in the far-flung future, in the conclusion of the two-part adventure started in FF #156. It’s “A Big Hand For The Little Lady”, written by Bill Black, with art by Eric Coile and Scott Shriver. Intergalactic bounty hunter Clayton the Sleeper finally gets his! And in the aftermath of Synn’s rescue, NIGHTVEIL returns to her Everglades sanctum. Unable to leave well enough alone, her mystical meddling brings our world a new meanace, WAMPYR, the vampire sorceress, in “The Best of Intentions”, with a script by Mark Heike, and art by the team of Baker and Austin. And if ONE STORMY TEMPEST story in this issue was not enough, here’s another!! “Time Grows Short” wraps up the serial adventures of STORMY in the present-time, as written by Len Strazewski, with art by Scott Larson and Jeff Austin. Next, the quiet between cosmic adventures is no respit for TARA FREMONT, as she runs afoul of that giant-sized bad girl Marla(HUMONGA)Allison in “Big Temper”, written by Eric Johnson, pencilled by Dan Gorman and inked by Jeff Austin. Then, return to the war-torn days of the early 1940’s as DINOSAUR GIRL and her allies The War Birds must deal with a new threat to the Allied forces- giant prehistoric reptiles, in “Priorities Of War”, the 17-page first-half of an epic tale written and drawn by Rock Baker, with inks by Scott Shriver. And last- but certainly NOT least, Will Meugniot’s smash hit N.E.D.O.R. AGENTS series is back with it’s latest installment, “Lunar Trap For Pyrogirl”. With the ‘lectrical lass headed for the moon straight into an alien ambush, how can the rest of her teammates save her back in 1965? You’ll have to read the story to find out!! Written, penciled and inked by creator Will Meugniot, of course. BONUS- this issue features the first-ever cover appearance of the N.E.D.O.R. AGENTS, as the NA feature is being run as a flip-book with FEMFORCE, the back cover being N.E.D.O.R. AGENTS #0!! Seven stories in all- no ads OR reprints!! Standard comic book size, 92 pages, color covers with black and white interiors; saddle-stitched. Released in 2012.

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Femforce 157

 

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Another superb cover by Will Meugniot!! With Synn’s reality-warping powers seemingly out of control, the FEMFORCE have taken her to The Colorado Project for a medical intervention. But it’s not always wise to leave your health in the hands of a doctor who comes from another planet, with a couple of assistants who happen to be giantesses. The therapy they concoct is definitely “outside of the box”! PARAGON’S sightlessness becomes ever more puzzling, NIGHTVEIL is barred from using her magic, and SHE-CAT goes looking for a mysterious person out of her past, only to end up tangling with ATOMAN, CARBONATOR and SPEEDBOLT of the doltish JUSTICE SQUAD. Meanwhile, SYNN just mopes and waits for whatever is going to happen to happen. All this and more in “Living In Synn, Part 1”- plot by Stephanie and Mark Heike (with a script by Mark Heike), pencils by Chris Allen and Rock Baker, and inks by Jeff Austin.Then- hang onto your hats for the first full-length adventure with the GREATEST new super-team series since…well, since The FEMFORCE was created!! Make way for the New Earth Defense Organization Reserve- N.E.D.O.R. Agents!! In an alternate version of Earth (as is told in this tale narrated by the FF’s NIGHTVEIL)), it’s 1965, and a group of super-powered champions (based on the characters from the long-defunct Standard/Nedor/Better publishing group of the 1940’s ) has spent 20 years in readness for a terrible event, which now is almost upon them. World War II veteran heroes Black Terror, Fighting Yank, American Eagle, Doc Strange, Liberator, Woman In Red, The Grim Reaper, Commando Cubs, American Crusader, Tygra, Princess Pantha and Miss Masque are joined by second-generation heroines (and uber-babes) Candi Future, Pyrogirl and Fighting Tank, Jr.as they learn the truth about what REALLY threatens the world in “Everlasting Battle” a 25-page retro-revisionist epic that’s fast-moving, sexy and action-packed. Created, written and drawn by WILL MEUGNIOT, the feature that we teased in FF #156 kicks into high-gear this issue- and will be soaring to even greater glories in FF #158!! Plus- N.E.D.O.R. Agents pin-ups by Rick Hoberg, Gerry Acerno and Keith Tucker, AND info on a special original art contest giveaway by Will himself! Then, flip the book over, turn it upside down and check out GARGANTARAMA- The COMIC BOOK #20, this issue’s FF flip-book feature focussing (as always) on gorgeous GIANT WOMEN!! Cover feature DINOSAUR GIRL faces off with an Asian giantess determined to swing World War II in favor of the Axis by controlling the Pacific Theatre. If she can prevail against DG, there well may be more titanic distaff terrors created from the “Blood Of The Giantess”; a 17-page battle royale written and drawn by Rock Baker, with ink embellishment by Jeff Austin. Then, turn the clock back to the Middle Ages that never were for another wacky adventure with ROWENA, the gentle giantess. An extreme cold snap turns out to be the work of CRYONIA, another visiting giantess- and ROWENA must find a way to convince her to move on before she and her human-sized charges become icicles. Written by Eric Lindberg, penciled by Rock Baker and inked by Jeff Austin. In total, 84 pages of all-new, never-before-seen story and art- black & white interiors with full color covers. Still the best value in comicdom!!

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Femforce 156

 

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Perhaps THE most-awaited issue of FEMFORCE in years!! NOW it can be told- the true events that led to SYNN’S exile into the Limbo Void decades ago. As NIGHTVEIL frets over SYNN’S spiralling-out-of-control powers, she thinks back to similar circumstances early in SYNN’S FF career, and we finally learn the truth about that incident in “The Lady Who Said She Could Fly”, a 21-page comic novella written by Stephanie S. Heike and penciled and inked by guest-artist extraordinare, WILL MEUGNIOT!! See Synn go-go dancing at Club Paragon! See guest-star BLONDE BOMBER!! See the FF dropped into Leningrad, Russia at the height of the Cold War!!! See a power-mad “freedom fighter” make a hellish alliance with monsters from another dimension!!! See the awful aftermath of an inexperiened SYNN’S attempt to “fix” everything in one fell swoop!! And see some of THE sexiest females ever to have graced the pages of FF as rendered by comics great turned animation master Will Meugniot !! Then, while NIGHTVEIL ruminates on the past, giant-sized jungle girl TARA FREMONT fights to save her best friend Janis Lawson in the present, kidnapped in the mysterious land of Taragonia, in “Jungle Triangle”, a 21-page co-lead feature written by e. t. Dollman, with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. Then STORMY TEMPEST is back- but in the first installment of a whole NEW ST series penciled by another old FF great, Eric Coile; and written & inked by none other than WILD BILL BLACK himself!! That’s right, the ol’ head honcho is back in the saddle again on the creative side of the comic book, helming an ST backup series designed to more closely mirror the STORMY live-action video movies he’s been producing. See STORMY here meet up with Clayton the Sleeper in “Wanted: Dead or Alive!!” But wait- there’s MORE !! Check out the 3-page teaser for a stunning NEW SERIES set for a full-length intro in FF #157: written & drawn by Will Meugniot, it’s N.E.D.O.R. Agents; a great new “alternate universe”superhero team concept putting the Standard/Nedor heroes (of the 1940′s) together on a crimefighting team in 1965!! Miss Masque, Black Terror, Pyroman, PyroGIRL (yes, you read that right) Fighting Yank, American Crusader and others team up to fight- well, you’ll learn WHO they will be fighting next issue!! But that’s not all! A flip of the wrist to turn over and invert the book, and voila- you’ve got GARGANTARAMA- THE COMIC BOOK #19!!! Beyond a great GTS cover drawn by Stephanie and Mark Heike, you’ll find a double-length DINOSAUR GIRL episode wherin DinoGirl battles her own doppleganger in “Mirror Image”, written & drawn by Rock Baker, with inks by Mark Heike, followed by the return of the towering GAMMAZON HOUSEWIFE in “Maternal Insticts”, written by Eric Johnson, penciled by yet ANOTHER old-time AC great- Chris Allen, and inked by contemporary AC great Jeff Austin. What happens when a giant-sized Gammazon marries a normal human male? Eventually, their is a baby. See what that portends in THIS universe!! Finally, the latest installment in the saga of ROWENA, gentle giantess of the Middle Ages-” The Goblin’s Army”, written by creator Eric Lindberg, penciled by Rock Baker and inked by Paul Wills.More than 80 PAGES of all-new, never-before seen material throughout !!Standard comic- book size, black & white interiors with full color covers. Printed in 2011.( Please note, this book has EXACTLY the same contents as Gargantarama #19.)

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Femforce 155

Femforce 155 cover art

 

Femforce 155 cover artPrice: $9.95

 

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This issue,you’ll learn strange new facts relating to Synn’s ever-increasing loss of control, and what the FF may have to do about it, in a story titled “Illusions In G-Major” (guest-starring PARAGON), with script & art by Mark & Stephanie Heike. Then, find out what CAT-MAN and KITTEN did for their anniversary celebration when the US Government WOULDN’T let them use the Time Triangle to go back to 1947 in “Kitten’s Biggest Adventure”, by Rock Baker & Jeff Austin. Next, it’s a previously-untold wartime exploit starring YANKEE GIRL (guest-featuring LADY FAIRPLAY and a NEW heroine, FREEDOM GALE), “The Menace of Baroness Von Schreck”!! See why the death of Hitler might NOT have ended the Axis menace in WWII- if not for YG and friends. Plotted & layed out by Gianluca Ceritelli, Scripted by Eric Johnson, with finished art by Jeff Austin. Then, the latest installment in the ongoing saga of the time-tossed adventuress STORMY TEMPEST, as an old friend from the future returns as a menace in our present in a story written by Len Strazewski, and illustrated by Scott Larson. Then, flip the book over, turn it upside down and read GARGANTARAMA-THE COMIC BOOK #18!! In this big issue, DINOSAUR GIRL stars in a double-length WWII blockbuster, “The Last Giantess”, which introduces a “new” retro all-girl team The War Birds!! Written & drawn by Rock Baker, with ink finishes by Jeff Austin. ROWENA’S naive cousin is in the spotlight this go-around, as the Gentle Giantess must sort out GTS high jinx gone wrong in “Sera’s Day Out”, written by Eric Lindberg, with art by Rock Baker & Jeff Austin. Finally, MARLA ALLISON (a.k.a. HUMONGA ) returns in “Making A Big Scene” as a villainess’ tampering changes the script in Marla’s latest giant-woman movie, with GARGANTA herself teleported onto the set for a battle royal in front of the cameras. Written by Eric Johnson, with art by the team of Baker and Austin. Without a single reprint in sight, FF #155 is STILL the best value in comics, even at $9.95. 84 all-new, never-before-seen pages in black & white, with full color covers. Standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Printed in 2011. (Please note: this book has exactly the same contents as GARGANTARAMA #18.)

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Femforce 154

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Will SYNN have to be permanently banished or will STARDUST’s risky solution be the answer? And where do PARAGON’s “imaginary monsters” fit in? As TARA is called to Jungle Island and NIGHTVEIL and MS. VICTORY face danger fighting solo in this issue’s 4-chapter lead story. Fan-favorite artist BRAD GORBY returns!! Another SUPER-SIZED 84-page landmark extravaganza, as all-time FEMFORCE fan favorite BRAD GORBY returns to pencil a chapter this issue, as well as illustrate the spectacular color cover. Brad’s atmospheric and evocative artwork on the title during the 1990′s is considered the high-water mark of the entire series by long-time fans, and anyone interested enough to look back on those issues will understand why Brad was Todd McFarlane’s first choice to replace himself on Image Comics’ SPAWN series during it’s heyday. After a decade out of the comics business, Brad makes his triumphant return here. But as always, story trumps art in FF as the lead feature begins to tie divergent plot elements together as a previously-dispensed-with menace will return to threaten the FEMFORCE. And with more than 80 pages to work with, fascinating back-up features abound, as STORMY TEMPEST (straight out of Bill Black’s live-action SMARTY PANTS ENTERTAINMENT DVD video series) continues her life undercover in contemprary times; and Mauricio Hunt’s distaff teen avenger KINETICS returns. After that, flip the book over, turn it upside down and thrill to GARGANTARAMA- THE COMIC BOOK #17!! nThis issue, ALI BASTUR and her 40 FT brings back more wild fantasy, the “gentle giantess” ROWENA returns in another wacky adventure, and a double-length DINOSAUR GIRL story takes us back to the war-torn Pacific Theatre of 1943.This issue, ALI BASTUR and her 40 FT brings back more wild fantasy, the “gentle giantess” ROWENA returns in another wacky adventure, and a double-length DINOSAUR GIRL story takes us back to the war-torn Pacific Theatre of 1943. Writers include Mark & Stephanie Heike, Chad Halcom, Len Strazewski, Eric Jonson and Rock Baker. Artists include Gorby, Jeff Austin, Scott Larson, Rock Baker, Bill Maus, and Mark & Stephanie Heike. Almost FOUR TIMES as many pages (84 including both FEMFORCE and GARGANTARAMA- The Comic Book )of all-new, never-before-seen story and artwork than in any standard comic book- not a SINGLE reprint!! The best value in all of comics! Color covers with black & white interiors, standard comic book size, saddle-stitched. Released in 2010 (Please note: This book has exactly the same contents as GARGANTARAMA-THE COMIC BOOK #17.)

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Femforce 153

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The secret mission of the mysterious Calavera is finally revealed, and an awesome new villainess is unveiled to battle MS. VICTORY and SHE-CAT in the 5-chapter FEMFORCE action/mystery novelette “Illusions”, written by Mark G. Heike & Enrico Teodorani, with art by Jeff Austin, Scott Larson, Antonio Gerardo Ceglia, Giacomo Pilato and Mark G. Heike, Then learn how the fates of AC’s TWO time-tossed cowgirls, The BLACK PHANTOM and BUCKAROO BETTY are linked as SYNN and TARA show them the value of “Perfect Timing”, written and penciled by Rock Baker, with inks by Jeff Austin. Next, NIGHTVEIL finds herself bereft of powers, costume, and perhaps even hope in a timeless dimension in “Zombie”, the latest installment in the current NV serial, written and illustrated by Mark Glidden. Then it’s the wrap-up of guest feature KINETICS as the teen heroine manages to ecape the clutches of her mysterious captors, in a tale written by creator Mauricio Hunt and illustrated by Adriano Santos. Then, flip the book over, turn it upside-down, and read GARGANTARAMA- THE COMIC BOOK #16!! Inside a familiar-looking cover, you’ll find the best in way-out GTS action, starting with the conlusion of the latest adventure of ROWENA, the gentle giantess of the middle ages, as she reaches the climax of her pitched battle versus Dagmar the fire-breathing dragon AND her evil stepsister Melina. See how her normal-sized husband Cedric turns the tables on the towering titans and saves the day. A double-dose of ROWENA wraps up this plotline; with both tales scripted by Eric Lindberg, drawn by Rock Baker and inked by Jeff Austin. Then, the too-tall heroine of World EWar II is back, facing down the Axis forces as the edict comes down from Hitler himself- “Kill Dinosaur Girl!!” wriitten and drawn by Rock Baker, with inks by Jeff Austin. Finally, in a most contemporary tale, an on-the-scene cameraman “falls” for a grad student -turned giantess in “Growing Feelings”, written by Chad Halcom, and illustrated by Eric Alan Nelson. Over 50 pages of FEMFORCE fun, glamor and excitement!! In total it’s 80 pages of never-before-seen, all-new comics excitement- the best value in comicdom!! Black & white interiors with color covers, standard comic book size, printed in 2010.

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FEMFORCE nominated for an Eagle by Mark Heike

Eagle Award Nomination slugFEMFORCE has received an initial nomination for an award in the “Favorite American Comic Book- Black and White” category for the prestigous 2012  Eagle Awards, presented annually by British comic book fandom. Established in 1976, The Eagles are actually the oldest awards established to honor special achievment in the comic book industry, beating out the US’s Harvey and Eisner awards by several years.  This year, the winners will be announced at the London ComicCon at the MCM Expo on May 25th. We at AC Comics are humbled to be considered for inclusion among the ranks of the industries finest for this year. The selection process for the final nominees will be ongoing until the last day of February, at which time the nominations will close, and the top five vote-getters among the nominees in each category will be tallied for inclusion on the final Eagle ballots. Voting for nominees is NOT limited to U.K. residents, and is open to anyone going to the Eagle Awards website. It is not necessary to complete a full survey for your nomination vote to be counted, as long as you register with your name and email information, so we encourage all of you to go to the Eagle site, register and place a nomination vote for FEMFORCE by selecting it from the drop-down menu  in the survey category of Favorite American Comic Book-Black and White (survey question #13) and maybe FEMFORCE will make it onto this year’s final Eagle Awards  ballot. And while you’re there, we also suggest you vote for our friends at the FirstComicsNews website in the “Favorite Comic-Related  Website” category, survey question #27.

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Femforce 152

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ANOTHER blockbuster 84-page issue of all-new stories, art and surprises!! First off, a simple trip to the grocery store turns into an all-out brawl between Ms. VICTORY and SHE-CAT when the leader of the FF learns the truth about ‘Cat’s newest conquest. SYNN tries to be the peacemaker, but when her powers go horribly out of control, lives are threatened in “Breakdown”, scripted by Stephanie Sanderson-Heike, with full art by Jeff Austin. Then, a recovering STARDUST returns to her consulting job at NASA, with orders from Ms. V to avoid any unsupervised hero work until she is completely recovered from her recent ordeal offplanet. But, when the lumbering Macheteer escapes from prison, it’s STARDUST to the rescue in “Back On The Job”, written by Mark G. Heik, penciled by Rik(Captain America)Levins, and inked by Jeff Austin. And, when an alien civilzation asks Earth to be diplomatic mediators in a dispute over colonization with another life form; MS. V, Dusty, SHE-CAT, and TARA- along with guest-stars GARGANTA. JET GIRL and MICROMAN go across the galaxy as peacemakers in “A Matter of Scale”, written by Eric Johnson; with art by Chris Allen and Jeff Austin. Then, it’s a blast from the past with a previously-untold “retro” story of the FF from WWII, as they meet up with guest-writer David Watkin’s super-group, The Union Of Justice, in a story titled “And A Vulture Shall Kill Them”, with art by Scott Larson and Jeff Austin. STORMY TEMPEST returns this issue, in the debut episode of a great new solo series, written by comics great Len Stazewski, and art by the aforementioned team of Larson and Austin. After her attemted assasination of Richard Gordon in FF #149, the vigilante from the future is sprung from prison by a mysterious, unknown benefactor in “Living In The Past”. Plus, Mauricio Hunt’s teenage superheroine Kinetics is back, as she loses in pitched battle to an armored, female opponent, and is captured by a mysterious cabal. You’d THINK that would be enough for ONE comic book package, but not for your friends at AC- turn the book over and get ready for the FF’s flip-book companion title. GARGANTARAMA-THE COMIC BOOK #15, which leads off with a return-engagement with Eric Johnson’s professional GTS heroine Fantasia, in 1-900-Giantess: Service Outage. When a hostage situation erupts in a no-service area for Fantasia’s cell-phone, she must get creative with the locals to conjure up enough super-types to save the day. Script by Eric Johnson, with art by Giancarlo Carcuzzo. Then, it’s a double-dose of that gentle giantess, ROWENA as she continues on her quest to return to her homeland of Lornak. In Chapter 2 (with script by Eric Lindberg, and art by Rock Baker and Richard Scott) of “The Eye of Imir”, she makes an ally in the faerie kingdom of Keelah; while in Chapter 3, ( written by Eric Lindberg, with art by Rock Baker and Mark& Stephanie Heike ) she comes face-to-face with the terrifying dragon, Dagmar Ironhide!! Finally, WW II’s most beatiful, giant-sized axis-buster DINOSAUR GIRL uncovers a ruthless gang of Nazi giantesses with a fiendish plot to dust the Allied countries with a chemical powder fatal to all male humans in “South Seas Sabotage”, with story and art by Rock Baker, and inks by Jeff Austin. In total, it’s 84 pages of all-new black &; white story and art inside a pair of full-color covers, standard comic book sized and saddle-stitched. Released in 2010.

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21st Centurions GN In Stores by Mark Heike

21st Centurions GN back coverThe 21st Centurions: New Clear Day color graphic novel has shipped from Diamond Distribution, and can be found in comic shops right now. Why is it worth checking out? Well, online columnist and writer Eric Lindberg had this to say about the 21st Centurions : “This series has a number of innovative and quirky elements that make this comic stand out from the numerous ‘heroes-in-training’ series we’ve seen before, mixing naive heroes with an enigmatic mentor who has questionable motives. The 21st Centurions project is designed to create the new superheroes of tomorrow, taking ordinary but dedicated young people and granting them artificial powers via small wristwatch devices that temporarily channel any superhuman ability, as long as it doesn’t ‘tap out’ their power reserves. This gimmick, along with Tribune’s somewhat pompous and vain focus on photo ops and team merchandising, drives home the ‘anyone can be a star’ vibe of a post-American Idol world.” New Clear Day collects issues 0, 1 & 2 of the series, written and illustrated by Stephanie Heike. If your local retailer is sold out, be sure to place a reorder. Simply tell your shop owner you want a copy of the  21st Centurions: New Clear Day graphic novel, DVD product #SEP110963, from the October, 2011 issue of Diamond Previews.

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Spy Smasher vs. The Purple Monster by Bill Black

Recently I was discussing filmmaker DON GLUT with Chris Casteel. Both Don and I made amateur horror movies when we were in high school… back in the dark ages, pre video, using 8mm cameras with no sound. Although we lived over a thousand miles apart and never knew of each other, our films were very similar and I wondered if Don, a real filmmaker later in life, had ever released his old ama-films on DVD as I had with CARNAGE OF DRACULA? Chris jumped on this immediately and pointed me to youtube where Don has his early efforts there for all to view. Wow! He made a lot of films! Even though they are crude (as were mine) I get a big kick out of watching these as I know from my own experiences what it took to assemble these epics.

First you had to talk your friends into acting in the movies, then because they helped you out you had to live with stiff body movements and the inevitable inappropriate smile that was impossible to edit out. Shooting on film is tricky. So much footage is too dark or washed out. You don’t find this out until much later when the film gets back from processing. But it was too expensive to re-film so you lived with it. Splices where clips are edited together hit you in the face like a slap they are that obvious. Don and I both used models (the spaceship kind, not the babe kind), scratched the emulsion to get “ray gun” effects and even painted effects by hand on to those tiny, tiny frames!

One of the best Don created was his homage to the great Republic serials, “SPY SMASHER VS. THE PURPLE MONSTER.” This is a short action film broken into chapters. Filmed in B&W, Don catches the atmosphere of the old cliffhangers. A big plus to his production here is near bang on perfect costumes for the title characters…. and, he used REAL GUNS!!

Later in my life after finishing college and a hitch in the army, I tried my hand at making a Republic type serial as Don Glut had done years earlier. In homage to such titles as ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE, I titled my effort BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE (available now on DVD or instant download as Bloodfiend from Outer Space).

There’s more to this story of course… but you’ll have to come back tomorrow to hear the next chapter of this thrilling tale in true cliffhanger tradition.

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Femforce 151

 

Femforce 151 cover artPrice: $9.95

 

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ANOTHER blockbuster 84-page issue of all-new stories, art and surprises!! First off, a simple trip to the grocery store turns into an all-out brawl between Ms. VICTORY and SHE-CAT when the leader of the FF learns the truth about ‘Cat’s newest conquest. SYNN tries to be the peacemaker, but when her powers go horribly out of control, lives are threatened in “Breakdown”, scripted by Stephanie Sanderson-Heike, with full art by Jeff Austin. Then, a recovering STARDUST returns to her consulting job at NASA, with orders from Ms. V to avoid any unsupervised hero work until she is completely recovered from her recent ordeal offplanet. But, when the lumbering Macheteer escapes from prison, it’s STARDUST to the rescue in “Back On The Job”, written by Mark G. Heik, penciled by Rik(Captain America)Levins, and inked by Jeff Austin. And, when an alien civilzation asks Earth to be diplomatic mediators in a dispute over colonization with another life form; MS. V, Dusty, SHE-CAT, and TARA- along with guest-stars GARGANTA. JET GIRL and MICROMAN go across the galaxy as peacemakers in “A Matter of Scale”, written by Eric Johnson; with art by Chris Allen and Jeff Austin. Then, it’s a blast from the past with a previously-untold “retro” story of the FF from WWII, as they meet up with guest-writer David Watkin’s super-group, The Union Of Justice, in a story titled “And A Vulture Shall Kill Them”, with art by Scott Larson and Jeff Austin. STORMY TEMPEST returns this issue, in the debut episode of a great new solo series, written by comics great Len Stazewski, and art by the aforementioned team of Larson and Austin. After her attemted assasination of Richard Gordon in FF #149, the vigilante from the future is sprung from prison by a mysterious, unknown benefactor in “Living In The Past”. Plus, Mauricio Hunt’s teenage superheroine Kinetics is back, as she loses in pitched battle to an armored, female opponent, and is captured by a mysterious cabal. Then, turn the book over, flip it upsidedown and get ready for GRAGANTARAMA-THE COMIC BOOK #14!! This issue leads off with a return-engagement with Eric Johnson’s professional GTS heroine Fantasia, in 1-900-Giantess: Service Outage. When a hostage situation erupts in a no-service area for Fantasia’s cell-phone, she must get creative with the locals to conjure up enough super-types to save the day. Script by Eric Johnson, with art by Giancarlo Carcuzzo. Then, it’s a double-dose of that gentle giantess, ROWENA as she continues on her quest to return to her homeland of Lornak. In Chapter 2 (with script by Eric Lindberg, and art by Rock Baker and Richard Scott) of “The Eye of Imir”, she makes an ally in the faerie kingdom of Keelah; while in Chapter 3, ( written by Eric Lindberg, with art by Rock Baker and Mark & Stephanie Heike ) she comes face-to-face with the terrifying dragon, Dagmar Ironhide!! Finally, WW II’s most beatiful, giant-sized axis-buster DINOSAUR GIRL uncovers a ruthless gang of nazi giantesses with a fiendish plot to dust the Allied countries with a chemical powder fatal to all male humans in “South Seas Sabotage”, with story and art by Rock Baker, and inks by Jeff Austin. In total, it’s 84 pages of all-new black & white story and art inside a pair of full-color covers, standard comic book sized and saddle-stitched. Released in 2010.

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Black Venus Returns In 2012 by Mark Heike

Black Venus by Brad Gorby

Black Venus by Brad Gorby The leather-clad aviatrix was always a favorite of the AC staff, and when we “revived” her (along with a number of other actual Golden Age heroes and heroines) in the Vault of Heroes/Shroud War storyline, we had always INTENDED to make her a regular part of the FEMFORCE supporting cast, and be featured as much as YANKEE GIRL, MISS MASQUE, CATMAN and KITTEN, REDDEVIL, GREEN LAMA, BLACK TERROR and all the rest- but we were never really able to find the right time or place. Oh, sure- she did her part in the Shroud War, making cameo appearances in FEMFORCE # 35 and 36, and hanging around in the background with the rest of the Vault Heroes in FF#58 and 59. The only BLACK VENUS solo stories we managed to squeeze out were in Cape And Mask #1 and in the  All Hero Retro Comics Annual #1– and those were both throwback stories set in World War II. The current “super-sized” FEMFORCE format (reminds me of the old DC 100 Super Spectaculars of the 1970’s) gives us enough space to redress this oversight, so this year you’ll see a series of all new BLACK VENUS back-up features in FF. They won’t leave her wartime past Black Venus by Jeff Butlerbehind completely, mind you- but you’ll finally get to see what this 1940’s flyin’ female transplanted into the world of today has been doing since she got out of the Vault.Mary Roche, who donned  black leathers and took to the skies as BLACK VENUS is a different kind of heroine- not operating on the same kind of plain as the more cosmic members of the AC universe, but we think you’ll like her rough-and-tumble adventures just the same. We’ll update you with more details as our plans on this begin to coalesce. And, if you’re interested in BV’s actual Golden Age adventures, we’ve reprinted a couple of those- in Good Girl Art Quarterly #15, and Men of Mystery #82.Cape and Mask #1 cover art

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A Villainess With Teeth by Mark Heike

Wampyr by John Nadeau

Wampyr by John NadeauA mysterious new villainess will debut in Femforce #158.You’ve seen her in living color on the cover, as digitally painted by John Nadeau; now here’s a little sneak peek at what she’ll look like inside the book. Her name is Wampyr, and between that and the closeup (drawn by the incomparable Rock Baker) below you can probably tell what her gimmick is. But fear not, you KNOW the creative minds at AC Comics will put a twist on the character, and she’ll end up a to be a LOT more than she seems. Her introduction will signal the opening of a new chapter in the life and career of Laura Right, AKA Nightveil. Facing off against this new menace will lead Laura down a path that will change her destiny forever. It will be a long and surprising path, but like all journeys, it begins with a single step, and that step in taken in FF #158.  We are Wampyr close-up by Rock Bakerbeginning production work on the book right now, so you can expect it to ship to Diamond Distribution by January 20. It normally seems to take 3-4 weeks from that point until one of our books shows up in comic shops, so expect to see it in your store around mid-February. Thanks to all of you who ordered it through your comic shop, as THOSE are the sales we need to keep things rolling. Thanks ALSO to a number of folks who have already REORDERED it. Apparently, the big N.E.D.O.R. Agents promo from last issue led more than a few retailers to increase their orders for this book. (And remember, the ‘Agents will be back this issue, not only on the inside but starring in their own flip-book back cover, as well!) Wampyr full figure by Rock BakerMind you, if you HAVEN’T ordered FF #158 through your retailer yet, their is still plenty of time. March on down to your favorite comic book shop as soon as you can and tell him you would like to place an advance reorder on FEMFORCE #158, DCD item # OCT110756, from the November issue of Diamond Previews. That’s all your retailer needs to get you your very own copy. (If you are wondering what those “X”‘s all over Rock’s Wampyr art mean, it’s a bit of comics-production “shorthand”. That’s a signal to the inker that the penciler would like a certain “tied-off” area in the drawing to be filled in with solid black. This started off in the old, pre-digital days of comic prepress. When comic books were printed starting with one physical drawing on a piece of Bristol board, filling in the black areas on the drawing could become a tedious and time-consuming chore for the penciler. Not only that, but many times a heavy layer of graphite filled in on a drawing would keep the ink from bonding with the Bristol when the embellisher worked over it. When the inked pages were erased down to remove extraneous pencil marks from the art before printing, large areas of black ink sometimes “erased up” along with the pencil graphite. So this “X-ing” system was developed. Now that much of the preproduction process is done digitally, the original reasons for it are mostly gone, but the custom remains; understood by professionals and insiders.)

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A New Holiday Classic by Mark Heike

Rare Exports box artBefore the season gets too far behind us, I want to revisit the concept of holiday video and movies. We happened to see a new film this year that Steph and I think may have the potential to become a new Christmas classic- for us, at least. No, I’m not rescinding my classification of the Alistair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol” as my favorite Yule movie ever,  but we had a chance to view an unusual little movie called “Rare Exports”, and it brought a new dimension to seasonal movie entertainment. If you can imagine an effective  Christmas-themed horror film that STILL has a happy ending, this is it. It actually effectively combines the heart-warming, Christmas Eve crisis that the cute little kid has to avert with a post-modern “slash”-type horror film (with 99% of the gore offscreen, though) built around a goofy Christmas -legend-that-never-was. Filmed against some awesome winter scenery in Finland, only part of the film is in English, I have to warn you- but it was a lot of fun. It should appeal to people who love Christmas movies- and people who hate them, as well. 

 


 

And just to mention a pair of other excellent foriegn films of recent vintage- the original Swedish version of the vampire story “Let The Right One In”- it’s subtitled but really quite compelling; and a very Hitchcockian Australian film called “The Interview”. It stars Hugo Weaving, the Red Skull from the Captain America movie, as well as the main bad guy from all the Matrix films. And being Australian, there is obviously no language barrier. See any of these movies if you get the chance.

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Countdown to Yankee Girl by Mark Heike

Yankee Girl Page 10That speed-demon inker Scott Shriver  has begun firing in finished pages on his collaboration with Eric Coile for the Bill Black-scripted story to appear in the upcoming YANKEE GIRL: STARS and STRIPES FOREVER one-shot coming early next year. Check out this page for a look at just how awesome this story will be.  In addition, Bill (Big Man) Black has started production work on a special Golden Age feature that will be in this book. We were not sure initially that we’d be able to make it work, but it looks like it’ll be a go. More details on it as we get closer to presstime, but rest assured that it will be a rare treat indeed!. Now don’t forget to toddle on down to your local comicbook retailer and order this book, as there is still time.Simply tell him you want Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever #1, listed on page 224 of the December issue of Diamond Previews, with a catalog product # of STY458154, and a DCD item # of DEC110766. Don’t forget, this tome will also feature another all-new, never-before-seen YG tale written AND drawn by the multi-talented Rock Baker; reprints of out-of-print & hard to find AC Yankee Girl stories from the 1990’s, and maybe even another surprise or two!! Speaking of that art fiend Rock Baker (who is about as fast a penciler as Scott Shriver is an inker- and it’s a good thing, too-) the titanic team of  Baker and Shriver will shortly begin work on illustrating an issue of The Saint for our friends over at Moonstone Comics. Be sure to watch for it in an upcoming issue of Diamond Previews. We’d almost be jealous of the Moonstone gang, if not for the fact that Rock and Scott are already working their fingers to the bone on SO MANY projects for AC, I can’t keep track of them!!

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Happy New Year by Mark Heike

Ms. V holiday image by Rock BakerNew Years is one of those holidays I’ve never really been able to get a good handle on. It just doesn’t have the emotions and memories attached to it that Christmas does; at least not for me.  Still, it does mark the beginning of a new 365 day segment in all of our lives, so it does seem like an appropriate time to look ahead. Here are some New Years wishes for a few individuals in the extended AC family. For those movie-making madmen, Bill(Bossman)Black and JohnJG; may they be blessed with good weather on all the days they plan location filming. For artistic stalwarts Jeff Austin, Scott Larson, Eric Coile, Rock Baker and Scott Shriver; may they all find ways to add two or three hours to every day to comfortably juggle their AC endeavors along with all of their other assignments. For Will Meugniot, may he grow several more arms so that he can keep up with all the comic book and video projects on his plate. For new penciler Dan Gorman, the patience of a saint, to put up with all of my comments, criticisms and revisons. For writers Eric Johnston, lots of quiet late-nights to pound out scripts; and David Watkins, success with his publishing venture- but still enough time to write the occasional AC script or two. For artistic legend Brad Gorby, a more settled work situation, and gorilla-man Chris Casteel a few less family & medical crisis. For Chris Allen, a functioning email, so we can get him working on more AC stories.  And for all of you reading this, health and prosperity for you and yours in 2012. Thanks for being interested enough in us and what we do to read this, and Happy New Year!!

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Stardust In The Spotlight in 2012 by Mark Heike

Stardust by Barretto detailAfter a year’s recovery from her imprisonment by the Old Dark Gods ( from FEMFORCE #s 140-150 ), the FF’s resident alien member will play a prominent role in the saga of the FEMFORCE for next year. Starting right out of the blocks; in the action up to her neck in the conclusion of the “Living In Synn” story arc in FF #158, into playing a pivotal role  in the all-new 20-page story written by Bossman Bill Black (and illustrated by Eric Coile) for the BIZARRE  THRILLS: The Paragon Publications Story TPB early in the year, and rolling through an FF lead-feature delving into her early days (written by Stephanie Heike) for an upcoming  (but as-yet unannounced) 2012 issue of FEMFORCE. Not to mention not one but TWO FF covers starring the lovely Rurian, both drawn by the late, great Eduardo Barretto. But wait ( as they say in the infomercials), there’s more: just this AM ace writer Eric Johnson turned in a bang-up script featuring Dusty in solo action called “Satellite of Hate”. It’s a taught little drama wherin the pointy-eared bombshell…well, it’s a little hard to give you a preview of a story, without giving the whole thing away.  If we had art in on it, I could whet your appetite with a single page- but heck, Eric just finished WRITING the thing; we haven’t even decided on an artist for it yet. But it’ll be good. Take my word for it- I’m picky about these things. Ask Eric, he’ll TELL you. He’s had experience. As far as writers go, Mr. Johnson has probably been “put through the fire” as much as anyone ever has scripting for AC. He’s always had an intense drive to “get it right”, and really puts the effort in to accomplish just that. Writing scripts for comic books is not a simple thing, but in the few short years he’s been working with us, Eric has mastered it. Some people think “the writer” just works out the general events in a story, and decides what order they happen in. Well, that’s part of it, but that’s just the plotting.  Others assume “the writer” just pens the words that go into each characters’ speech balloons; and THAT’S part of it,too; but that’s just writing dialogue. WHILE he’s doing all that, the comic book scriptwriter, ALSO must describe the action that should appear in each panel in a way that is easily interpreted by the artist. Too much description can”lock up” an artist and impede his ability to let the story flow; too little can leave him bewildered as to WHAT to draw. A really good scripter has a feel for what should make for the most visual way to express a panel, and give that information to his penciler in a way that combines the maximum amount of storytelling with the most freedom for the artist to develope each scene in his own way. While all this is going on, the skilled writer must also manage to stage his pages with as much drama as possible- AND not forget the basic rules of panel direction so that he can prompt his artist to break down his continuity in such a way that the art and balloon placement works with the natural up-to-down, left-to-right action of reading a page. Eric has become quite skilled at this delicate literary balancing act, and as a result, he not only writes exciting  and involving stories, but he crafts them into great scripts  that allow artists to turn the collaborations into exemplary creations of comic book storytelling. Eric came to AC scriptwriting from a background in gaming and writing straight prose, coupled with an awesome knowledge of AC Comics continuity. From the beginning, he demanded constructive criticism, took it all like a professional and learned from it. As an example, Eric loves witty, snappy dialogue, and he’s GREAT at writing it. Initially, he had a tendency to write TOO MUCH of it; far more than could be fit in a panel and still leave any room in it for an illustration! Editing it down was always a painful process for the both of us, but because comic books are a mix of art AND story, it routinely had to be undertaken on Eric’s scripts. They’d’ve made spectacular radio plays, but very VERY wordy comic books if left untouched. But Eric recognized this shortcoming early on, and as he has gained more of a comfort level working in comic book continuity, he has conquered it.  His script for “Satellite of Hate” is by far his best yet, and that’s saying a lot, considering his great work on so many features for us over the last five or six years, on strips like “Ali Bastur and her 40FT” in in FEMFORCE #144, “Amazon Housewife” in FEMFORCE #141, 142 and 150; Yankee Girl and the FF themselves in FEMFORCE #147, and Marla Allison/Humonga in too many previous issues to list. Look for more of his work on “Big Temper”, starring Marla Allison and Tara in FEMFORCE #158 (with art by Dan Gorman and Jeff Austin),  on “Not A Gentleman Caller”, featuring Fantasia the 1-900-Giantess (illustrated by Eric Alan Nelson) in FF #159, and “Growing For The Gold”, once again boasting  art by Gorman and Austin. You readers can enjoy his stories when you see the finished product; only those of us on the production end have an appreciation for the top-flight SCRIPTS he writes that allow those stories to come out so well.

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Holiday Family Laughs by Mark Heike

Animal Crackers box artA lot of families tend to gather around the ol’ video at holiday time nowadays. I know Stephanie and I will be doing that very thing with her family in the next few days. We find comedies tend to be the best fare for this sort of event. Who doesn’t like to laugh? My favorite comedic performers made their best and funniest films prior to 1940, believe it or not; but no matter HOW MANY TIMES I’ve seen their films, I still laugh out loud at the best parts. Who am I referring to? The Marx Brothers. If you’re not familiar with their best movies, I encourage you to try them. They ARE an acquired taste, and people tend to either love them (like me) or hate them. Rather than than try to describe what it is that makes them funny, I think it’ll work better just to let you watch some clips.

 

 

I will say this, however- their earliest films were their best. “Animal Crackers”, “Duck Soup”. “The Cocanuts”, “Monkeybusiness” and “Horsefeathers” are their funniest. Starting off in vaudville, then having tremendous success on Broadway, their earliest films were adaptations of two very successful stageplays.

I’ve also learned in recent years that additional film dialogue and gags (material not authored by the brothers themselves) in these early films was written by Nat Perrin. Perrin went on to write comedy films and television shows for another 3 decades, including the 1960’s sitcom “Green Acres”; a show that echoes a lot of the kind of lunacy seen in those great Marx Brothers flicks.Interestingly enough, most of these early films were NOT commercially successful at the time. Into the 1940’s, the brothers moved onto another studio, and appeared in a series of films that WERE box office hits, including “A Day At The Races”, and “A Night At The Opera”, among others. Unfortunately (for true afficianados, any way) these screenplays focused a bit too much on plot, and featured bigger-name performers as the “romantic leads”. This approach brought more customers into the theaters and made everybody money, but didn’t focus nearly enough on the outrageous antics of the brothers and did not allow their madcap humor full sway. Those productions occasionally have some bright moments, but overall are not very watchable today. Most of these movies are readily available today, so I encourage you to give one a try. It’s hard to imagine how films made as much as 80 years ago and filled with pop culture references of the day can be timelessly funny, but to me they are. Be forewarned, though- ALL are musicals. With the wonders of modern video controls, you can mute or fast-forward through the songs & dance numbers if you like- but Groucho’s are usually clever & entertaining enough to leave the sound up on.

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Merry Christmas To All by Mark Heike

Pyrogirl Christmas image by Will MeugniotSome may consider it trite or cliched, but I have great affection for the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”. It remains my favorite Christmas story. I think the lesson that an idividual can choose to change, and that the change can positively affect the world directly around them is very important to remember. For my money, Alistair Sim was the perfect actor to portray Ebenezer Scrooge. This film version, with cameos by Ernest Thesiger, Patrick Macnee and Hermione Baddely is the best, for my money.

 

 


 

To all of us on the AC staff, to all of you out there- A Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.

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2011’s Hot Toy Craze by Mark Heike

Monster High calender artHave you seen this year’s big holiday toy craze, Mattel’s “Monster High” dolls? These things actually crept onto the market more than a year ago, but it took awhile for them to really take off. The concept is this: a group of orginal (mostly female) teen characters who are supposed to be the second-generation offspring of famous monster characters-or at least archtypes. The 12-inch dolls are cute and creepy at the same time, and pretty nicely designed. When I first saw them last year, I wondered if the Mattel folks hadn’t miscalculated badly and come up with something that would miss the mainstream and appeal only to the collector’s market.Ghoulia Yelps doll photo A lot of other so-called “experts” among retail buyers and chain-store magnates originally had the same thought (“Little girls won’t want this SPOOKY stuff.”), but once the marketing machine (starting out with little on-minute animated freebies on YouTube last year to two animated TV specials this year, leading to a live-action theatrical movie next year, but no comic book in sight so far )) got cranked up, all were proved wrong.

 


 

Older (and male) collectors covet these things, but the 6-11 year old girls are snapping them up at an incredible rate. I’d tell any of you who are FEMFORCE fans to go check them out at your local Target, Wal-Mart or Toys ‘R Us, but right about now the shelves are BARE, and most retailers seem to be having a hard time keeping them in stock. We at AC always felt that there was a little more range to the youth female market Spectra Von Geist doll photothan just pink and frilly stuff, and the Monster High franchise seems to be proving it. Now if only some foreward-thinking toy company would bankroll a line similar to this that focuses on SUPERHEROINE characters instead of monsters (maybe some franchise that ALREADY HAS a long-running comic book?), I know a small group of talented creators who could supply the graphics, comics, videos (live-action and animated) and toy sculpts as sweat-equity. Any takers out there?

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Celebrating Great Creators by Mark Heike

Golden Age Greats 13 cover file

Golden Age Greats 13 cover fileTime passes and the old order changeth. Such is the nature of life. Things and people we had come to know grow, change and pass on. We’ve had a number of spirits in the creative world move on in recent weeks. In our world, the field of comic books; we are lucky that a piece of every creator’s heart and soul stays with us forever- their body of work. So, at times like this, we at AC Comics are reminded that their is something important about what we do in terms of preserving the work of those creators now gone. In that way, we celebrate those PEOPLE that produced the stories and artwork forever. And we remember how those PEOPLE touched us personally. The first contact I ever had with the great Jerry Robinson was as an angry voice on the end of the phone, sometime in the late 1990’s. “Who gave you people permission to use MY artwork?”, he begain with, having seen one of our Golden Age anthologies including a Black Terror tale he and Mort Meskin drew from the late 1940’s. Having been a strong and active champion of creator’s rights (in fact personally a big part of the pressure that led to DC Comics settling with Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), we weren’t too surprised by Jerry’s initial bluster. Once we had a chance to explain that our main goal was to preserve & promote the great comics and creators of the past, he turned around completely. He soon partcipated in an extensive interview for our Golden Age Greats Volume 13, and became a big supporter of our efforts. We eventually provided him with quantities of copies of the AC books that his vintage work appeared in for various international trade shows, and consulted with him when he was involved in an independent comic book project around 2000. We hadn’t talked to Jerry in awhile, but we certainly considered him a friend.

Men of Mystery #15 cover art I never had a chance to speak with the legendary Joe Simon myself, as Bill Black, our publisher & head honcho handled all direct communications with Joe and his son Jim. Bill had the joy of doing an interview with Joe that we ran in Men of Mystery #15, and also kibbitzed with the Simons when THEY were considering licensing out a new character for the indy comic book market. When Bill asked Joe what WE might offer to him in return for his participation in the interview and permission to use some of his artwork, Joe mentioned a certain brand of very exotic, very rare South American cigars he was partial to. He had done his research on them, and learned that a tobacco store not 2 miles from the AC offices HAD them!! As you’d guess, Bill went right over there and bought Joe a box to ship to him. There are few bigger figures in the history of comic books than Joe Simon.

All of us at the AC offices we BIG fans of the comic book art of Eduardo Barretto, prolific on features like The New Teen Titans, The Shadow Strikes, Marvel Knights, and MY favorite, the Red Circle run of Steel Sterling. It was quite a thrill just to GET an email from him, which we did for the first time about this time last year. Eduardo was (at that time) coming out of some lengthy health problems, and casting about for some additional art assignments to get back into the swing of things. While we were flattered that he’d consider us, we assumed that their would be no way we could actually get him to do any work on the AC budget. Imagine our surprise when he said that he’d forgoe his usual rates for a chance to work with “The lovely ladies of your FEMFORCE”; in Eduardo’s own words. The two cover designs that he did (one of which will be inked by yours trully) will be coming up on issues of FF to be released in 2012. As creators, we are all only mortal. But the things we create can live on forever, as long as there are others to read, enjoy- and remember.

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What Exactly DOES an Editor Do? by Mark Heike

 

Dan Gorman's original Page 1 rough

Dan Gorman's original Page 1 rough

I’ve been asked that question a few times over the years. At a streamlined operation like AC, an editor’s duties can (and do) encompass ANYTING related to getting the product out. In terms of working directly with creators to try to produce a product everyone is happy with, there are a number of situations that can arise. One of those came up just recently in preparing a Marla Allison/Humonga
story for a future issue of Femforce. Penciler Dan Gorman was finishing up his  thumbnails (rough sketches indicating how he’ll break the story down into panels and indications of “camera angles” and placement of elements within those panels) and expressed some dissatisfaction with the Page One “rough” he had done.  Dan is a very talented fellow with a fair amount of experience in the commercial art field, but not neccesarily in comic books. He seemed to be “stuck” on that opening page, and I felt that a little extra time and input might go along way with him in this situation, not just to improve the opening of this story, but perhaps to help with his overall approach. Dan is extremely consciencious and committed to doing the BEST job he can at all times, and I was sure he’d give serious consideration to any comments I cared to share with him. Always the professional, Dan was kind enough to allow us to make public my emailed comments to him. We hope you (both potential artists and casual readers alike) will find this an interesting insight into how comic books are put together; how an artist interprets a writer’s script, and how an editor can try to facilitate an improvement in the creative process. Here now is my commentary to Dan:
Dear Dan-

Since you seemed to be having a problem with the splash page to “Growing For The Gold”, I wanted to give you some feedback on it. I felt that the design you were the most happy with (as of a couple of days ago) was still not the best  shot to open the story with. True, you can check off most of the “laundry list” of elements that the scripter, Eric Johnson has in his panel description, but getting it all wedged

Eric Johnson's Page 1 script

Eric Johnson's Page 1 script

in is not necessarily the be-all and end-all to good storytelling. An overhead angle as you used has it’s advntages; it can allow you to place all of your elements so that the reader can see them and understand  their locational arrangement;  but it’s not very involving, exciting or dramatic. It comes off somewhat like a diagram or a map, rather than an interesting scene. (Also, in your thumbnail their seems to be  a sort of a change in perspective going on from the background (near the top) toward the foreground (near the bottom). It’s as if the figures directly below “us” (as the readers) are at a more extreme perspective than those receeding away from us. Over the short area this scene
covers, that would be a physical impossibility. I’m allowing for the fact that you MIGHT be going for that “curvolinear perspective ” look; I know that is fairly popular in comics today. I’m not big on that in general as it represents a shot that (in real life) can only be seen through a distortion lens. To actually duplicate the viewing of receeding  real objects in perspective, that perspective should remain consistent in relation to the viewer.  Only the size of the objects should change as they become more distant from the viewer.

I’ve done my own version of a rough for this page so you can see a different approach to translating Eric’s panel description. You can certainly use it as your Page 1 thumbnail, and finish it out/revise it any way you like, or come up with something even better, if you now have something else in mind for this splash. I thought it might be useful  to see a different “take”.  What I’m trying to show you is that their are certain licenses one can take with a panel description for the purposes of making it look more dramatic and cool.  Judgement is the most

Mark Heike's revised Page 1 rough

Mark Heike's revised Page 1 rough

difficult skill for anyone (in any field) to learn, and there is just no
substitute for time and experience in honing it. But you can free up more time and “brain space” for coming up with some neat staging if you start to interpret what IS important in a script/panel description and what is not. It’s not always vital to get EVERYTHING in the description into the scene.  Believe me; Eric (or any writer worth his salt) will MUCH prefer that you interpret his scene into  really COOL page or panel that does cover the most IMPORTANT elements that tell his story, rather than something dull or static that includes EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT in his panel description.  More stuff is not superior to BETTER stuff in a scene.

I get the feeling you’re having a hard time discerning what’s important in this scene and what’s not.  One thing (and I may never have articulated this to you before) unique to AC books is- the babes should ALWAYS look sexy and glamorous. That trumps EVERY other element in an AC story, and if a compromise must be made in rendering a scene, glamor and sex appeal should always come first.  Beyond that (and this is more universal- I think THIS would be true of any character at any company), the recurring character (in this case it is Humonga/Marla) is the STAR of the story, and most panels should be staged to play that up. The lead character should not be “neutral”, getting no more play
or feature than throwaway, background  or one-shot characters, the artist should look for ways to feature the lead character prominently and to good advantage in as many panels as possible. In fact, the only time one should NOT try to do this is in scenes where the character is specifically supposed to be unobtrusive , incognito or trying to hide. The rest of the time, that title character should be the STAR.

Once these general aspects are considered, it’s good to have a discerning eye for what is vital (and what can be dropped) in terms of script/panel descriptions when you are staging a scene. In this splash page description, the IMPORTANT elements are:

-it takes place at a “meet and greet” convention appearance
-the con is at an outdoor venue
-banner(s) indicate the show’s subject
-there are already fans there
-Marla is enjoying interacting with her fans
-Vivian is present
-Marla’s outfit shows cleavage
-picture sign (and location of same, since it ties in with the fan dialogue) and location of “pleading fan” in
relation to the picture sign.

UNIMPORTANT elements (these can be altered or dropped without harming the
panel’s impact)

-the location of booths/tables (one just needs to convey the “con”
 feeling)
-the location of “line waiting to get in”
-specific poses/locations of other fans
-location of banners

-what SIDE of the page Marla is on
-whether Marla sits or stands
-what/how many other booths/booth signs are visible.

 My first priority in staging this scene was a cool, sexy and animated shot of Marla interacting with her fans. Once I had that, set in a good place that draws the attention and dominates the scene, I set up the other elements around that.  I like to use perspective and overlapping to break up the space to best advantage and fit in the most vital elements. One doesn’t have to see an object or element in it’s entirety for it to work in a scene if it’s located logically . Even though I’ve got a number of figures CLOSER to the viewer than Marla, I’ve set the scene up so that they are all obviously still about 1/10th of her 60′ height. I’ve got room directly above the pointing fan in the left
foreground for his word balloon; I’ve got those guys “cordoned off” from the rest of the scene by cyclone fencing to “sell” the idea tht they are NOT ctually inside the event yet, so their balloon makes sense. I’ve got the “pleading fan” directly to the right of the picture sign, with room for his balloon right above him, to the right of the sign. Eric’s gag will work to maximum effect as all elements and balloons will read in the correct order. The guy looking at the Marla DVD MAY not have room for a balloon. I’d put it UNDER his feet, or overlapping some of the chain-link fence, but our letterer doesn’t like to do that. In my opinion, THAT balloon is the least-important one on the page, and if we couldn’t fit it in and had to cut it, I don’t think tht would harm the overall feel of the page at all.  Do you notice the things I’m doing here with the directional lines of  the banners and perspective on the fence and booths, and the flag-ropes?  The vertical banners/poles echo the position of Marla, reinforcing her as design element. Your eye is drawn to her large figure, then to the picture sign. These are ways that you can help to make certain elements dominant even in scenes that are fairly complicated and busy. You may notice I’ve also left room at the top of the page for the story title, logo and credits without impinging too much on other elements in the panel.

I didn’t go into this kind of stuff on your first story as there’s only SO
much anybody can absorb at any one time. But as you develope and do more jobs, you’ll want to try to gain a sense of what’s MOST important in every scene, so you can work on empasisizing that. And in general, look for ways to tell the story in interesting and dynamic ways that keep the “star” the star.  Some lucky guys are born with a sense for these kind of things, I was not. Staging/designing is a long, painstaking process for me . Give my wife Stephanie a script, and she can rough out a page that works in 20 minutes.  For me, THIS thumbnail rough took 6 hours (and five separate pieces of tracing paper), then another hour for the clean-up trace-down in pen. I hope some of this is
helpful.

Watch for the “Growing For The Gold” story upcoming in FEMFORCE #159 in early spring, and see what Dan finally settled on for that opening page graphic.

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Crypt of Horror Volume 13

Crypt of Forror Volume 13 cover art

Crypt of Forror Volume 13 cover artPrice: $29.95

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 The latest- and GORIEST- selection of classic horror reprints in this acclaimed series celebrating the great horror comics of the past. Normally, this title confines itself to the exploration of the Pre-Code scaries out of the comics of the early 1950’s (and there are PLENTY of those here, too), but this edition of COH carries a special focus on the stomach-churning offerings from publisher Myron Fass’ Eerie Publications of the 1970’s. Students of the horror comics genre consider this some of most bizarre, twisted material ever to appear in comic book form on the newstands. Included here is a representative sampling of half a dozen of Eerie’s worst, including “Yeech!”, drawn by Human Torch creator Carl Burgos, and four Dick Ayers-illustrated tales; “I Chopped Her Head Off”, “Corpse For A Coffin”, “The Tomb”, and “The Witches’ Revenge”. Eerie Publications low-rent periodicals were actually magazine-sized black & whites, meant to compete with the Warren Publications and Marvel B&Ws of their day, and were not required to adhere to the standards of the Comics Code Authority (which was in power in the 1970’s, when these stories were originally published), hence they are far more violent and disturbing vthan any four-color fare. Be warned. Of course, if it’s classic comic book horror you’re looking for (as if THAT wasn’t strange enough ), there is a healthy (perhaps that’s not REALLY the right word) helping of that this issue, too. Eerie publisher Fass himself (also an artist) is represented by a tamer (but no less twisted) offering from the ’50’s; “The Thing In The Pool”; two vintage ACG thrillers (both of which are “artist unknown”) “The Floating Coffin” and “The Million-Year Monster”; a Steve Ditko spooky tour-du-force; “Stretching Things”; plus “The Vampire’s Bones”. From Mikross’ Publications Mr Mystery, “Medusa’s Head”; and from Fawcett’s This Magazine Is Haunted #4, “The Blind, The Doomed and the Dead”, illustrated by Bob Powell. There’s also “No Rest For The Dead”, and “The Werewolf of Warham Manor”, drawn by Mo Marcus; Lou Cameron’s “She Stalks At Sundown”, “Satan’s Demon’, “Corpse in the Coffin”, and “Fiend of the Undead”- nineteen spine-chilling stories in all- PLUS a gallery of “Fass’s Fetid Faces”, as drawn by Chic Stone, and rememberances of Fass and Eerie Pubs by Publisher/Editor Bill Black. All new cover art by John Nadeau! 140 pages in all, standard comic book size; black & white saddle-stitched with full color covers. Released by AC Comics in 2011.

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‘Tis The Season by Mark Heike

Tales of Suspense 99 coverI don’t know if comic books and Christmas go together for most people, but I have some memories of a few key moments in my life as a young collector that come back to me at this time of year. Now I inherited my mania for comics from my mother’s step-brother, my Uncle Wally. An avid reader, Wally passed on his comics after reading to the nieces and nephews, and no one appreciated that more than little tow-headed Mark. Wally read EVERYTHING- Marvel, DC, Charlton, Archie, Harvey, ACG- he even had some IW reprints. And I got what I got from him, devoured everything and learned to read from them at an early age. Sadly, Wally died when I was five. Really, I hardly remember him. But the comics- oh, the comics!! Once Wally was gone, I was on my own to feed the comic book fix, but at not even six years old, I didn’t have much mobility. I went wherever my parents went- which was usually the grocery store once or twice a week. Now several grocery chains in Milwaukee (where I grew up) in the mid-1960s sold comic book from vending machines. I know, I know- to most of the world this sounds like an hallucination, but trust me- for a period of time in the Midwest, there were large metal-and -glass comic book vending machines that took a dime and two pennies and gave you the comic book you saw through the “window” in the machine. So when I could wheedle pocket change out of my folks during a grocery trip, I could get my comic book fix. ‘Trouble was, the vending machines had a far more limited selection to choose from than wherever Wally had gotten HIS books. As best I can remember, the machines were almost always 100% DC books where I was, and it was rare to see any other companies’ products in them. Well, every month or two my mom, bless her heart, would throw out the comic books I’d amassed (Believe me, she now REGRETS that compulsive clean-up, considering the thousands of dollars in collectibles she now knows she tossed!), knowing I’d just get new ones. So, it wasn’t long before ALL of the books Wally had given me were long gone, replaced by “new” DCs I got out of the vending machine every month. So I remembered a lot of cool stuff Wally used to get, that I couldn’t find anymore. Among those were the early 1960’s Marvel books. When Marvel Comics bubble gum cards showed up in our local discount stores in 1965, I recognized the characters- but where were the comic books? Not in my vending machines. And later in the year, when the syndicated Grantray/Lawrence Marvel Super Heroes limited animation TV show came on the air five nights a week on our local VHS station (And DON’T get me started talking about THAT show- I’ll never shut up!), I was becoming manic! The cool “animated” stories, shot directly from panels in Marvel books were sometimes ones I remembered reading from Wally’s stash, and others I’d never seen. But I was a little kid, and (hard though it may be to believe today) in my world at that time, NO ONE else was reading comic books. I had no one, adult or child, that could give me any information on Marvel Comics- whether they were dead or alive- or where to get them. Until December of 1967. On a weekday off from parochial school, my sister (in high school at the time)and I went on a big adventure. The two of us took a bus to Downtown Milwaukee (my first trip there ever) to go Christmas shopping. I was already having a helluva good time, getting my first taste of “urban downtown” life having spent my early years in a quiet residential/quasi-suburban area, and now we were prowling the streets of the “big city”. (Can you believe that in 1967, the prospect of a 15 year old girl and here 8-year-old brother spending a day on their own Downtown in a large Midwestern city was NOT a prospect fraught with terror? It really wasn’t, though.) But the best was yet to come. I stopped dead in my tracks as we walked down Wisconsin Avenue near Plankington Road in the snow flurries and late-afternoon gloaming as we approached something I’d never seen in real life- an honest-to-gosh newstand. When I caught site of comic book logos I’d been searching for, I couldn’t help but run the half-block to it. (Later on, my sister told me THAT was her one uncomfortable moment of the afternoon, but I ran RIGHT past the side of the stand that was filled with raunchy skin magazines!) Their were MARVEL COMICS there, EVERY title in the line!! They DID still exist- and I knew if they were THERE in seedy Downtown Milwaukee, they must be in other places! I WOULD have access to those cool Marvel comics again!! My kindly sister gave me a quarter and allowed me to buy two books- and the FIRST one I grabbed was Tales of Suspense #99, since Iron Man was my favorite Marvel hero. I kept that book with me for days, reading & rereading it, and basking in the glow that there WERE more Marvel books coming out Garganta's Thrilling Science Page 8every month, and I COULD find them. By the time Christmas had arrived, I’d tormented my Dad so much that he’d taken me around to a number of drugstores in our area that it turns out sold Marvel books (on spinner racks) after all. I turned my back on the vending machines (which disappeared in our area by 1969, by the way) and became (for a time) a Marvel Zombie. Now, I can only think of ONE AC story that actually has a Christmas scene it it- Garganta’s Thrilling Science Tales #1. I don’t know WHY it worked out that way, that in almost thirty years of publishing, we haven’t had occasion to do a Christmas scene or interlude, but I think that’s the only one. It can be hard to work with anything seasonal in the periodical publishing Garganta's Thrilling Science Page 7game, what with deadlines and the need to meet them. We all love this time of year as much as anyone. And in case I get too busy or forget later on. a happy holidays to one and all!

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Paragon Anew by Mark Heike

The Paragon Pubs story cover art

The Paragon Pubs story cover art It looks as if AC Comics will be starting off 2012 with a bang, based on advance reaction to the planned January/February Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Story TPB! Diamond Comics Distribution executive Steve Leaf has made that book his Staff Pick in the December issue of Diamond Previews, which is at your local comic shop right now.  A long time reader, fan, and friend-on-the inside; Steve did it up right with a quarter-page display and a long paragraph delineating why he is anxiously awaiting this volume in the Staff Picks section in the back of the Previews catalog this go-around. A big thank-you goes out to Steve, not just for the extra promo on this book, but for all the things he’s done for us over the years. A true friend to the whole AC Comics operation. Of course, all of us old enough to remember the Paragon line are anxiously awaiting this volume, whether we’d had the actual original magazines or missed out on them at the time, because Paragon predated AC Comics and introduced many of the characters Fem Fantastique 3 cover artand concepts that the AC universe is based on. But what’s in it for new readers? You may well ask. All this positivity and enthusiasm for this classic material has our publisher and head honcho Bill (Bossman) Black so fired up, he has decided to add an additional special feature to the book that will make it a must-have for all regular AC and Femforce readers. Since a lot of the strips that ran in Bill’s Paragon line were ongoing series that were abruptly halted when the change-over to AC Comics occured late in 1982, Bill has decided to collaborate with penciler Eric Coile to create a totally new, never-before-seen 20-page story (starring the Femforce) that will New Starmasters splash artactually resolve all the cliffhanger endings left dangling in all the major Paragon strips, 30-plus years ago, and tie in Paragon continuity (somewhat) with AC Comics continuity!! It’ll be co-starring Captain Paragon, The Shade, The Star Masters, The original Scarlet Scorpion, Black Commando, Astron, The Phantom Lady, Blonde Bomber and a whole slew of others, so you know it’ll be great!! Be sure to preorder a copy at your local comic book retailer today. Simply tell him you’d like the “Bizarre Thrills: The Paragon Publications Story” trade paperback found on Page 224 of the December, 2011 Previews catalog. It has the product number STK458153, and DCD item #DEC110767. Then, expect the book to be in your hands around the end of February.

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Nedor At The Movies-The Rest Of The Story by Mark Heike

Giggle Comics Superkatt coverOkay, let the suspense come to an end. The Nedor-related costumed hero that made it onto movie screens in the 1940’s was none other than…Superkatt! Superkatt appears in a 1947 Columbia Studios cartoon titled “Leave Us Chase It, and was a headline feature in Giggle Comics, officially published by a company known as Creston. Now pay attention, because things get invovled here. Superkatt and a fair amount of other funny animal material  was produced out of an art-packaging studio started in New York around 1940 by a man named Ben Sangor. Sangor’s best customer was Standard/Nedor/Better Publications, owned and operated by his son-in-law, Ned Pines.

Initially, the Sangor Studios produced all kinds of comic book material, as did all of the early comic production houses like the Eisner/Iger Studio, Harry “A”Chesler, The Bailey Shop, The Binder Shop, Funnies, Inc, and the rest. Most of the others had at least a few different publishers that they serviced; initially it seems as though Sangor had only the Pines group. As the super-hero boom of the pre-war years waned, the Sangor shop decided to specialize in funny animal humor books. As a result, they tended to attract artists and writers from the animation field who were looking to suppliment there income with comic book work and those who were between cartoon jobs, so they soon had far more creators than they had outlets for. To try to take advantage of this, Sangor began releasing funny-animal comics under a variety of house names, most notably Creston, but also Michel, Regis and possibly a few others. During this period, a writer who used the name Richard Hughes was pounding out scripts for much of the Standard/Nedor adventure line, including work on features like The Black Terror, Doc Strange, Fighting Yank and The Woman in Red; Superkatt Page Twoeventually spending some time employed by Pines as an editor. In  1949, Creston and the other imprints were absorbed into a new company called the American Comics Group, with Richard Hughes as it’s editor-in-chief. AGC would have a substantial run, continuing until 1967. The formation of ACG seems to be the logical breaking point between the Pines group of comics and magazines, and Sangor; since both companies produced comics simultaneously (but separately) from 1949 through 1958 – with ACG continuing for another nine years on it’s own. Previous to that, the professional relationship between the Sangor Studio and Standard/Better/Nedor seemed pretty incestuous; likely owing to the family ties by marriage between the principles of each. If anyone is interested in seeing more of the classic Sangor Studios approach to funny animals,  AC has reprinted a Supermouse  (no relation to Superkatt!!) story in it’s excellent Golden Age Greats Volume 10.

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Yankee Girl Art by Mark Heike

Yankee Girl Page 3Yankee Girl fans had better hang onto their socks and get ready for the big Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever one-shot coming in February of 2012. Just take a look at these scans of the first few pages of pencils from the lead story drawn by Eric Coile. If this isn’t the best on-paper rendition of YG yet seen, I’ll eat my hat!! When Eric first came on board with AC in 1995 (in the now-historic Femforce #81) he was a talented storyteller and illustrator, but in the intervening years (including a long stretch out of the public eye) he has really honed his skills to a spectacular degree. Of course readers who have seen his recent work in  Miss Masque Strikes Back #1 and on Stormy Tempest in Femforce #156 (and returning in #158!) know exactly what I mean. But this YG saga looks even better, if that’s possible. This Bill Black-scripted retro lead story will run a full 16-pages, and feature the villainous Panda, Lady Luger, the Avenger, Yankee Girl Page 5and other suprise guest-stars. The 96-page blockbuster volume will feature two more all-new, never-before-seen YG stories , and actually have a higher proportion of new material vs. classic reprints than did the Miss Masque Strikes Back one-shot from 2011. So, be sure to preorder your copy of Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes forever at your comic book retailer today!!  Simply tell him you want Yankee Girl: Stars and Stripes Forever #1, listed on page 224 of the December issue of Diamond Previews, with a catalog product # of STY458154, and a DCD item # of DEC110766. That’s all the information he’ll need to order you the book, so run out and do it now!

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FF Promos for 2012? by Mark Heike

Femforce #122 Joe Staton cover

With the success of the Will Meugniot art contest reorder promotion for Femforce #157, we at AC are looking toward other promotional ventures to increase the visibility and circulation of FEMFORCE in 2012. We are currently examining other ideas for #’s 160, 161 and beyond. One of the possibilities would be trying some form of alternate covers, something that we experimented with back in 2001, with FEMFORCE #120, 121 and 122. (please note that the alternate cover graphics shown here represent cover versions that are now COMPLETELY SOLD OUT and FF 122 American Star coverunavailable, although the regular versions of all three issues are still up for purchase on our web shop at their original cover prices) Another would be a “remarked” edition of FF, which would include an actual original art sketch on the inside covers. We’d like to hear from FEMFORCE fans as to whether either (or both) of these special promotions would be of interest. By all means let us know. Or, if you have a better idea, run it by us and we’ll consider it.
FF 121 Kinetics cover

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Another New Art Star by Mark Heike

Scott Shriver Dino Girl inks Look for another artistic luminary to make his debut in FEMFORCE #158, inker Scott Shriver. Scott is new to the AC Comics lineup, but a veteran of the independent comic book scene, having worked on series like The Holy Knight, Assassinette and The Venger. Scott’s slick and precise inking will debut in #158 over both Eric Coile’s pencils (on Stormy Tempest) and Rock Baker’s (on Dinosaur Girl), which really shows his range. Check out this preview page from #158 and see if you don’t agree. We already have THE best inker/embellisher in comics today working for us in the person of Jeff Austin, and we think that Scott will soon prove to be almost as versatile and multitalented as the great Mr. Austin. Speaking of Jeff, since HE made his AC debut way back in FEMFORCE #120, he has had work (be it inks OR pencils) in EVERY issue of FEMFORCE since- a full thirty-seven issues in a row!! That’s got to be some kind of a record!! Jeff has plenty of fans among avid AC readers, none bigger than those of us on the editorial staff. We’re confident that the same will be true of Scott Shriver in no time at all!! If you haven’t ordered FF #158 with your local comic book retailer, there’s still time. Just tell him you want a reorder on FEMFORCE #158, DCD item # OCT110756, from the October Previews catalogue, for items shipping in December.

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Bill Black is… The Shade!

Most of you know I have been making movies all of my life starting back in high school. A decade later while working at FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY Media Center, several of my buddies urged me to make another. We had been inspired by the old serials being shown on weekends at FSU and decided to make our very own action serial. Many serials were based on comic book characters (ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, CAPTAIN AMERICA, etc) so I decided to make a film starring MY comic book characters (from Paragon Publications… this pre-dates AC Comics) THE SHADE and SYNN- GIRL FROM LSD… eventually released on DVD as Sangor Syndrome: Bloodfiend from Outer Space.

Jump ahead another decade to 1983 and that October we held the very first AC Comics Halloween Party at the spacious AC Offices. Here THE SHADE made a live appearance.

 

Bill Black as The Shade

Bill Black as The Shade

 Actually it was just me wearing the costume from my FSU movie, BLOODSUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE. Notice, too, in the photos, the very first appearance of NIGHTVEIL, that pre-dates Mary Capps Nightveil debut at COMICON. Yes, it’s Rebekah as NIGHTVEIL. Also Karen V. as SINGAPORE SAL, David Mathews as DR. RIVITS and John Beatty.

 

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Femforce 159 Shipping April 2012

Writers and Artist’s Names: Writers include Will Meugniot, Chad Halcom, Eric Johnson, Mark & Stephanie Heike and Eric Lindberg. Artists include Will Meugniot, Rock Baker, Jeff Austin, Scott Shriver, Dan Gorman and Eric Alan Nelson. Cover by Will Meigniot.
Intended Audience: All-ages fans and readers who like Silver-Age style superheroics as well as fans of classic “good girl” art and superhero comics in general.
Format: Standard comic book size, saddle-stitched; TRIPLE THICK 84 page length, black & white interiors with full color covers. All new- no reprints; all stories- no ads!!Retail Price: $9.95
Synopsis: The FEMFORCE find themselves in Europe, pulled into the fight of their lives against an alliance of human and supernatural foes in “House of Lost Souls”, while WILL MEUGNIOT’S smash sensation back-up feature N.E.D.O.R. Agents must face “The Menace From Within”!  84 pages of all-new action!
Special Notes: Superstar creative dynamo WILL MEUGNIOT is in the spotlight again this issue, from his spectacular front-cover rendering of the glamorous superheroines who make up The FEMFORCE, to writing and drawing the latest installment of his N.E.D.O.R. Agents superhero/heroine group series, currently the talk of the internet. What makes N.E.D.O.R. Agents unique? That can perhaps be best summed up in Will’s own words: “I wanted to do a story that I would enjoy as a consumer, and one that my friends, who used to be heavy comics consumers but are not now, could embrace. The medium has undergone a major “deconstruction” over the last 25 years, and I’m intrigued by the idea of doing a story which goes back to classic form while embracing contemporary mores.” Look for this book on sale on the accomics.com web store on or about April 20th; and look for your preordered copies in your lacal comics shop in early May.

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Jim Bannon by Bill Black

Jim Bannon

Jim Bannon

I love old movies and constantly watch TCM to catch rare gems from Hollywood’s past. Lately actor JIM BANNON has been turning up in various noir films (I LOVE A MYSTERY). I met Bannon at a Western film festival in the mid-1970’s. Where I remembered him from my childhood was co-starring in a few WHIP WILSON B Westerns. But he also was featured in a couple of Charles Starrett’s DURANGO KID entries. Jim was told that I was a big Starrett fan so he offered to sell me one of Starrett’s shirts from the series. Bannon had doubled for Charlie as “Steve” and had left Columbia with a “Steve” shirt. I looked closely and he was indeed wearing that very shirt as he spoke to me. Yes, film fans, Bannon was trying to sell me the shirt off his back! I think about that every time I watch a chapter from Jim’s starring vehicle, DANGERS OF THE CANADIAN MOUNTED.

 

 

 

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Art Giveaway Continues by Mark Heike

WeN.E.D.O.R. Agents page FF 158have been thrilled with the response thus far to Will Meugniot’s art contest giveaway tied in with Femforce #157!! If you haven’t thrown your hat into the ring yet in an attempt to snag one of those great original art pieces created by Will, there is still time. You have about ten days left to enter.  Check out the GREAT sign below that reader David Zuzelo did as part of his “I Want My Nedor” entry!! Get in on the fun today, and you may find YOUR sign or photo here on our official site!! Tell your retailer you want to order FEMFORCE #157, DCD item #JUL110775, from the July Diamond Previews catalog for items shipping in September. Your retailer will tell you that particular book has already shipped, which is true, but this contest is for reorders, so simply follow the instructions above and place a reorder for FEMFORCE #157 today. Each copy purchased gives you a chance in the drawing for a piece of hand-rendered original N E.D.O.R. Agents art created especially for this contest. Now Will’s pieces usually go for very high prices, if you can find them on sale at all, so we couldn’t even guess what the dollar value of these giveaway pieces might be. Already got your copy of the book? You can still enter the cosplay contest, or go to your favorite comic book shop with a sign and your digital camera and enter the “I Want My Nedor” sign

David Zuzelo contest sign

photo contest. That’ll get your comic shop a little publicity, too! And of course the cosplay competition is still open as well. Simply take a photo of yourself costumed as one of the N.E.D.O.R. Agents supercharacters, and you may be the lucky winner in THAT category! For complete details on how to submit your entry, (in either of the photo contests), go to the Diamond Comics Facebook page. But hurry, as time is running out!! And, as you look at the spectacular preview page that accompanies this article (from the soon-to-be released Femforce #158, available in late January- and if you do not have THAT book on order with your retailer, you can do so immediately by asking him to preorder you a copy of FEMFORCE #158, DCD item #OCT110756, from the October Previews, for items shipping  in December ), don’t forget that yet ANOTHER  great episode of N.E.D.O.R. Agents will be coming in Femforce #159, in March of 2012. Look for it in the January Previews coming soon, and be sure to place your order!!

 

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Will on Jennifer by Mark Heike

Will Meugniot drawing of Jennifer Wayne-Burke

Will Meugniot drawing of Jennifer Wayne-BurkeHow about this stunning Will Meugniot graphic? Is this a beauty, or what? Will did this for his Facebook page a few weeks back, and has since offered it to us here at AC for use as a Femforce cover. We’re not crazy enough to say “no” to an offer like that, so it will be gracing the front of an upcoming issue of FF, though we’ve not decided which one yet. As long-time readers know, this is the costume worn by Jennifer Wayne-Burke during her run as temporary leader of the Femforce while her mother, the original Ms Victory was away from the team. ( Roughly the span of Femforce #24-74, although the key stories introducing her are all included in Femforce Omnibus Volume 4, still available in our web store) Of course, Jennifer has since followed in her mother’s footsteps in yet another way, and become the antisocial antiheroine Rad, so the character depicted in THIS illustration really doesn’t exist anymore. As you might guess, we’ve had to come up with a retro-story set in the past to go with this cover piece, filling in a missing piece of the story; an untold part of Femforce history from the 1990’s. Can anyone guess what it might be? We’d love to hear some speculation on this, so Femfans, tell us what YOU think the story might be!

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Nedor At The Movies? by Mark Heike

Scarab splash page

 

Scarab splash pageOkay, Golden Age experts- put on your thinking caps- it’s trivia time. What costumed character from the pages of Standard/Nedor Comics made it to the Silver Screen in the 1940s? We’ve discovered something we had not previously seen documented, and we want to let our regular readers in on it. DON’T let the graphic at the head of this post fool you, it’s NOT The Scarab; we just put that there to get your attention.  Now, you might consult any number of AC’s acclaimed reprint volumes that have been almost exclusively focused on the output of Ned Pines’ comic book line, like Men of Mystery #28 or #84; or Men Of Mystery Spotlight Special #’s 1 or 2 to research this query. All are highly recommended-but to be honest you WON’T find the answer to this question in them. Give us your best educated guesses, and let’s see if anyone out there knows. This isn’t exactly a contest, as we don’t have a prize to give away to anyone knowledgeable enough to know, but let’s see how many actually do! We’ll post the answer and the proof in a week or two, so start tossing out those guesses now!

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