A Tribute to the of

There have been a few notable things happening in the world for the Silver Age enthusiast of late. The Flash series had it’s debut and while I admit I’ve only seen most of the pilot, it looked pretty good and true to the Flash we know and love. (Barry Allen…accept no other. Well, Jay Garrick is fine, too, but you know what I mean.) I understand Simon Stagg appeared in a recent episode and those sorts of things give me hope.

Unless you’ve been under a really big rock, you know that a settlement (undisclosed, naturally) was reached with the Jack Kirby estate.

The wonderful Gaspar Saladino, my very first interviewee, went to his very first comic con at NYCC and by all accounts from Clem Robins and Todd Klein had a ball. No, he didn’t have a table, he just attended and met up with Clem, Todd, Tom Orzechowski and others in the lettering field and got to see Neal Adams and Len Wein among others. It was a ball chatting with him about it afterward. Also, I presume due to my minor contributions, I recently received what you could possibly call a galley copy of Eddy Zeno’s biography of Al Plastino. He is still in search of a publisher, which would explain why my copy lacks a bar code, but in all ways it looks like a wonderful publication and Eddy did a great job, on a par qualitatively with his bio of Curt Swan.

Among the morsels in there was some evidence of Al’s ability to drawn literally anything or anyone with great precision and one I’d been completely unaware of, so I got myself a copy and decided to cover it.

The story is a brief little 8-pager hidden in the back of Jimmy Olsen #56 from October of 1961. “Jimmy Olsen’s Sweethearts!” was written by Robert Bernstein, creator of the Phantom Zone and its most infamous resident General Zod and penciled and inked by Al. Editor Mort Weisinger was doubtless on hand to make sure everything ran like clockwork.

While the tale is pretty formulaic, i.e. Jimmy continuing to pursue Lois Lane’s sister Lucy and being rebuffed in favor of the debonair Mr. Ned Krayle, who is driving a beautifully rendered red convertible Thunderbird, this story has a couple of very intriguing guests.

Jimmy, you see, had made a date with Lucy when she shows up with Krayle and she’s completely unrepentant about it, explaining that she met him on the plane and that he’s an owner of hundreds of oil wells and he’s about to produce a motion picture. So, they’re off to a swanky joint called El Mexicho. Jimmy blows a gasket and tells Lucy off, but she continues to care less.

After she leaves with Krayle, the doorman, witness to the little fracas, says that if it were him, he’d show up at El Mexicho with another girl. Jimmy warms to the idea and shows up with a beautiful blonde on his arm: Marilyn Monroe!

A slack-jawed Lucy looks on when one of the staff asks Marilyn to sing and she obliges, but only if she can dedicate the song to Jimmy as she nestles herself in his lap with the microphone.

The next day, Lucy is out shopping with her sister when they run across Jimmy at Niebold’s Department Store where none other than Tuesday Weld is asking his opinion on a dress she’s thinking of purchasing. Once again, Lucy is completely flummoxed about Jimmy’s lady friends and she’s beginning to regret how shabbily she’d treated him.

Lois later decides to try to intervene and mentions that Lucy is probably available if he needs a date for the studio press party, but he assures her he already has one and arrives with Gina Lollabrigida on his arm. Lucy and Ned are there, too and the incredulity on her part continues. Soon Jimmy and Lola have hit the dance floor when Rock Hudson tries to cut in, but he is refused by the Italian lovely.

As if this isn’t enough to blow Lucy’s circuits, Brigitte Bardot arrives and asks why Jimmy hasn’t called her. Gina then tells the “French poodle” to push off and then it’s a full blown cat fight. Jimmy walks away, telling them he cannot tolerate such jealousy, despite their pleas for him to ride home with them.

The next day, the Lane sister’s spot Jimmy having lunch with Jayne Mansfield, who insists on a kiss from her date.

By now, she’s had enough and is intent on earning Jimmy’s affections, but he is aloof to say the least, insisting he doesn’t need her with all the other sweethearts he is enjoying. During the ultimatum, though, the girls arrive and ask if their act was good enough to make Lucy jealous.

Jimmy tries to squelch it, but the truth comes out: “We showed up wherever Lucy could see us put on a performance! We even rented gowns and cars to impress her! Now will you give us the publicity you promised up in the Planet about our look-alike-club? We want everyone to know about our look-alike-club where our members, male and female look exactly like the great screen stars! Why, lots of times the studios hire us as stand-in doubles for the stars!

Lucy has had enough and decks Jimmy while calling him out as a cheat, liar and low-life that she never wants to see again, leaving the red-headed reporter without a sweetheart again.

You need to see this issue for yourself to really appreciate how well Al drew all these celebrities, but then again, most of you have seen how well he portrayed John Glenn and President Kennedy, so it should come as no surprise. Al’s artistic talents were wonderful and I can’t believe this month marks a year since he left this world. I’d give a lot for another conversation with my buddy.

You got quite a lot for your dime with this issue. That Curt Swan drawn cover was just the start. There were three stories altogether and the featured imaginary tale was drawn by Kurt Shaffenberger. Interestingly the middle story, “The Jinx of Metropolis!” (drawn rather flatly by John Forte) also had a brief meeting between Superman and President Kennedy.

Again, not the most original story, but it was a lot of fun. I’ll give it a 6 on the 10-point rating scale.

The Silver Lantern is your best source of DC Silver Age goodness, so keep coming back for the latest. This feature will be updated on the 15th of November with another review and as always, don’t forget to send a note to professor_the@hotmail.com. We love to entertain your feedback.

See you in about two weeks and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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