A Tribute to the of

Howdy folks and welcome back to the latest edition of the Silver Age Sage. This time around, I’m taking a trip to one of the war books in DC’s Bronze Age. It’s amazing to me how long some of these titles continued. Star Spangled War Stories, in this case, had first been published in 1952 and with issue #178 with a publication date of February 1974, and an on-sale date of November 22, 1973, it was still going strong. Joe Kubert did another of his memorable covers for this edition and the issue was edited by the late, great Archie Goodwin.

The story chosen from this anthology is “A Nice, Warm Bed!” written by Frank Robbins with art by Vicente Alcazar-Serrano. The setting is war torn Europe where the company Sergeant is advising his weary and rain-soaked soldiers to “Dig in—an’ hit the sack!

Two of the GI’s try to get as comfortable as conditions will allow in a mud bog and discuss their simple desires. A warm fire and a house with a nice warm bed. After a fitful night’s rest, they form up and continue the march toward Rome. It isn’t long until they run into enemy fire from a farmhouse. The bazooka team is called up to clear the way.

Fortunately, the inclement weather is now an asset, making the fighting men difficult to spot and therefore hard to target. The projectile finds its way to the Nazi position and the soldier laments that his dream of a house to rest in is juxtaposed by his having to destroy structures as they advance.

There’s still a little of the structure remaining and upon entering the upper level, Sammy and Ricco discover an honest to goodness bed. The weary dogfaces are making their way toward it when they get orders to clear the building. They protest, but the sergeant says it’s too tempting a target for the enemy and therefore too risky.

In the wet, miserable and endless rain, our soldiers again hunker down and try to sleep. Later, the company is startled out of their fitful slumber by the sound of the farmhouse being blasted with artillery. Ricco turns to Sammy to tell him their orders were the right ones, but there’s no sign of his buddy. Then, when the morning breaks, we see our bazooka wielding soldier looking at the destroyed structure: “Ya couldn’t wait, huh, Sammy? I told ya (choke) the rain hadda stop…sometime! Okay, okay, Paisan…ya got your nice warm bed…sleep in it…in peace!” That puts a wrap on this little 6-page story.

It reminds me a bit of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Sammy got what he wanted, but at such a steep cost.

Since I’ve been having a little success with interviews lately, I decided to try to keep some momentum going and dig one out from the archives that I’d not yet used. As my regular readers know, I sometimes do “themed” interviews, i.e. Kubert School instructors, Woodchucks and of course those who spent time at Continuity back in the day, sometimes referred to as Crusty Bunkers. Some of the latter were well known and others not quite as well known, at least to yours truly.

In September of 2017 I contacted Vicente Alcazar and sent him a handful of questions via e-mail. Vicente was kind enough to get back to me, but his comments were brief. Still, I’m glad to add them to the body of work here at the Silver Age Sage and hope you’ll enjoy a few of his remembrances about his time at Continuity.

As for the personal questions I always liked to draw comics and was fortunate to start publishing young in England where I had studied Art. The question of being an artist or not was not for me a mindful decision.

At my arrival to the states, Al Williamson who I had met through a common friend told me to show my work to Neal (Adams) so I got an appointment and went to see him at the 48th St. studio. That day through Neal´s deference I got another appointment with DC editor Archie Goodwin and got my first American comic book commission.

Upon learning that I was to work on it in my hotel room, Neal offered me renting working space in his offices for what I remember was a very good deal.

I guess it was sheer luck to be at the right time in the right place.

Living in Venezuela I would visit NY several times during the year and I made of Continuity my working place. There I attended my business and would collaborate with the Crusty Bunkers with some rush job.

I must say I have very fond memories of those years working along with people that loved doing the same thing I did, all of them talented artists. There I met friends that last up today with special mention to the late Gray Morrow with whom I shared work, laughs, family and travels.

Continuity was the best thing that happened to me. It was the door that opened my work to the world of American comics and gave me the chance to work alongside with the talent of the moment.

Presently I am engaged with English editor DC Thompson illustrating B/W war stories and have a graphic novel in store.

If this tale was any indication of Vicente’s talent, it’s a shame he didn’t do more. I’m reminded of the work of Gray Morrow for realism and authenticity.

For more about Vicente, check out his Wikipedia entry and the accompanying links.

As usual, we appreciate your joining us and hope you continue to find things of interest here at the Silver Lantern. For feedback of all kinds, I can be reached at my handy e-mail, so feel free to give a shout: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Another review and a brand-new interview will be waiting for you on the 15th, so be sure to make your way back.

Until next time…

Long live the Silver Age!

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