Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hail Hembeck!

I was recently going through my magazines looking for my copies of Fantaco’s Hembeck series so that I could do the following piece, and was disappointed to find only two of the seven or so issues I used to have. That's why the upcoming publication of The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus is welcome news indeed. I'm definitely on board, and you can consider these strips a preview of the Omnibus, as they should all be included in its 900-plus pages. All pages are from Hembeck:The Best of Dateline @!!?# (1980 Fantaco, 2nd printing)

Fellow comic bloggers, I'm gonna propose that Fred G Hembeck is the Founding Father of Whatever It Is We're Doing Here. Fred was basically blogging comics long before there were blogs or indeed, an Internet. I’ve been enjoying Fred’s work on Dateline:@#$% for over 27 years(!), and I think it’s fair to say that he was a trailblazing pioneer in the demanding field of mocking goofy old funnybook covers. Long before there was an Internet or a Grand Comic Database, Fred was goofing on Jimmy Olsen's Gorilla Wedding and Superman's Krypton Crawl, redrawing the covers in his own inimitable, squiggly-elbowed cartoon style:

Long before Fangirls Attacked, Fred decried the Shabby, cruel mistreatment of Lois Lane in Lois Lane #59. Fred always came off as a decent, thoughtful guy, and these strips occasionally showed his own take on many of the same issues bloggers talk about today:

Note his dead-on prophetic words in the last panel about degradation to women becoming a chic movement in fandom.

I've certainly enjoyed reintroducing my audience to obscure lame old superheroes, as have many other bloggers, but we have it easy with our scanners. Again, Fred Hembeck was out there goin' it alone long, long before anyone else. All by hand, hand lettered (and a lot of lettering, as you can see), with a fun and distinctive cartooning style. I never would have known to seek out some of the goofiest silver age comics I've purchased over the years had I not first read about it from Hembeck:

Fred Hembeck was sharing his love of his favorite back issues and artists long before the most senior of us computer guys. He was extolling the sublime appeal of Ditko's Doctor Strange way back before it was even possible for Neilalien to land online:

So let's take a moment and hail Fred Hembeck: Founding Father of Blathering About Old Comics!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great observation Brian! One I totally agree with. I had some of Hembeck's Fantaco issues back in the day, and they always cracked me up, just like many of today's bloggers.

Three cheers for Fred Hembeck!