A Tribute to the of

We haven’t covered a lot of the teen humor titles here at the Silver Lantern because, well, let’s face it, we love our superheroes. There was some formidable talent working on the other titles, too, however and while I actually reviewed an offering from this series quite a while back (Sage #203), it’s time to take another look at Swing with Scooter, the debut issue from June/July of 1966. The on-sale date for issue #1 was April 7 of 1966 and the creative team was a small one. Jack Miller was both editor and writer. Barbara Friedlander was Associate Editor and writer. Joe Orlando did the artwork and Ira Schnapp did the lettering, and the art and lettering goes for both cover and interiors. So, let’s meet the British teen heartthrob Scooter and his pals, who have headshots on the cover.

The splash shows Scooter, on a scooter, being mobbed by the chicks while some jealous guys look on. Flipping the page, we do the introductions. First, of course, is Scooter himself, “The swingingest-go-goingest rocker-in-orbit to hit the town since the Beatles!” Sylvester, “This tubby greenbacks keeps a scrap-book of money!” Kenny, “All this Ringo wants is to get hip with the chicks – but between you and us, he’s only a paper tiger!” Malibu, “The original teenage rage from Finksville!” Cookie, “What’s a nice normal girl like her doing on the same page with this gang of go-go goons?” Penny, “A real rich scene-queen who’s got just about everything – except Scooter, that is!” Cynthia, “A yeah-yeah chick who follows Scooter over from England! Can you guess why?” Aunt Hatta, “She’s got the heart of a teenager—she’s also got the heart of…” Mr. Otis, “Principal of Plainsville High. His life was a breeze until Scooter blew into town!” And now Part I with “Here Comes Scooter!

An announcer with an old-fashioned microphone is on display setting the scene: “Flash! The hottest teen news today is about that famous English singing start, Scooter, who has deserted his British group, The Banshees, to come and live in Plainsville, U.S.A. The big question is—why?

Scooter’s plane is being mobbed by adoring girls and the next thing you know, he’s disembarked, but the ladies swarm him and are removing souvenirs from their dreamboat. After the dust settles, they realize it was a decoy. Sylvester was disguised as Scooter, to give the pop star a chance to escape undetected. Soon Scooter arrives on his two-wheeled transport, dubbed the Super-bike to extricate Sylvester and hit the road. It seems the bike is equipped with some extras ala James Bond’s Aston Martin and emits a smokescreen allowing their escape.

Scooter soon drops Sylvester at his palatial pad and Scooter is more than impressed. It seems Sylvester’s great-great grandfather invented money and left a pile behind, but his descendent is averse to spending it. Scooter takes his leave and is soon at his Aunt Hatta’s home where Scooter is intent on leaving stardom behind and living a normal life.

As he begins to relax, hoping to never again see “screaming chicks trying to tear me to pieces,” the screeching outside alerts him to the fact that he’s been found. A massive mob of admirers is outside while the local lovesick boys look on with despondency. Their glum demeanor soon turns to a desire for revenge on Sylvester, who they blame for bringing Scooter over from England, but the wealthy lad argues that Scooter came to escape his fame and now that it’s seemingly failed, he’ll soon go back to England and they’ll have the attentions of the ladies again.

The guys move their hoopy over to the house and use one of its custom features, an automatic ladder, to help the girl admirers up to the second floor of the house and Scooter. They’re even taking a page from Santa’s book and climbing down the chimney. Scooter instructs Aunt Hatta to keep them busy while he high-tails it to the airport, closing out Part I.

The next page puts “Scooter Scoops,” the pending letter column on display with some hep cat talk and information:

What’s new pussycat? Lots!

Those wonderful Beatles remain tops on the pop charts throughout the world—despite the fact that so many groovy groups have made the swinging scene lately!

Scooter scoops the fab group “THEM” to make it big with the teen scene. The general consensus is that when the Beatles decide to call it quits and retire to private life—John will continue the winning combo of writing books and producing records. John and Paul, as song writing partners, will go on for a long time. George will probably stay close to the recording industry. Everybody’s favorite, Ringo, looks like he’ll take a bigger part in his building company partnership. But as it stands now—this is all pretty far into the future.

Bob Dylan’s great popularity in England has been enhanced by the fact that the Beatles really did this stuff—they wasted no time in letting their loyal fans in on it, too! Lucky Bob!

The amazing Herman and his far-out Hermits really know how to send fans into orbit—they have roared closer than any other group in America as challengers to the Beatles! Dig this—England’s most popular group holding fast and steady are: THE BEATLES, ROLLING STONES, ANIMALS, MANFRED MANN, HERMAN’S HERMITS, FREDDY AND THE DREAMERS, GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS, KINKS, THEM, SEARCHERS and HOLLIES.

The wildest sound going these days is the Motown sound—famous for it are the Supremes, Gene Pitney and Roy Orbison.

Here’s a cool flash—David McCallum (our man from U.N.C.L.E.) was actually the first one to wear his hair in the famous Beatles fashion—even before the Beatles themselves! He was born in Scotland and attended college in London. David drives one of the grooviest cars going—a Jaguar 3.4 saloon with seat belts!

Bet you didn’t know—that…

Gary Lewis was born July 31, 1945

Color hair: Black

Color eyes: Brown

Height: 6’

Favorite Hobby: Playing Drums

Mia Farrow was born February 6, 1947

Color hair: Blonde

Color eyes: Blue

Height: 5’4”

Favorite Hobby: Horseback riding

Elvis Presley was born January 8

Color hair: Black

Color eyes: Hazel

Height: 6’

Favorite Hobby: Touch football

David McCallum was born on September 19

Color hair: Blond

Color eyes: Blue

Height: 5’9”

Favorite Hobby: Gardening and Studying Electronics

Donna Loren was born March 7

Color hair: Brown

Color eyes; Brown

Height: 5’3-1/2”

Favorite Hobby: Sewing

Raunchy Tom Jones was a salesman, a construction worker and a miner before he became a singer—and what a singer he is! Of all the singing groups today, it seems that girls are picking the Dave Clark Five as best looking!

Here’s more about the Beatles—Paul and John went to school to advanced levels (that is until they were eighteen). George went to grammar school and later apprenticed as an electrician. Ringo went to elementary school but had trouble with tonsilitis and stomach pains—and had to leave early.

Donna Loren has been around for longer than you think—she appeared on the famous Mickey Mouse Club—and was a knock-out even then!

Those blond singers—The Hullabaloos, have lost a lot of popularity due to their long tresses! Lots who know say they overcome their far-out appearance, if you stand still long enough to listen! Coming in second on the pop charts over in England are—Nashville Teens, Yardbirds, Billy J. Kramer, Baron Knight, and the Zombies--!

The way out Rolling Stones dislike phonies—they actually go out of their way to avoid meeting anyone who comes on too strong! True blond is really the color of Herman’s hair—and he confesses he doesn’t like combing it!

Well, group, gotta Scoot—I’ll dig you next time with more Scooter Scoops."

I guess it isn’t hard to see what demographic they were shooting for with all the pop culture on display. On to Part II, titled “Scooter go go home!

Scooter appears to be trying to do just that, but there’s a gauntlet of female admirers in his path. Despite his pleading for a right of way, the chicks refuse with some more hep dialogue: “Never! Not till Niagara Falls!” “Not till the kitchen sinks!” “Not till the side walks!” Fortunately for our hapless hero a handy helicopter just happens to arrive complete with grapples to bring Scooter and his bike aboard. It’s Penny and she’s as smitten as the rest.

Nonplussed, Scooter’s other admirers go in pursit of the “rich witch.” They are determined for their piece of the dreamy Brit. Meanwhile, Malibu and the guys are just as determined to get him on his departure flight. They burn rubber for Penny’s pad where she and Scooter have just arrived. The singer is blown away by her wealth, to include a built-in amusement park. Scooter tries to use the rollercoaster to escape Penny’s clutches, but she uses an ejection seat. He quickly boards the Super-bike and hits the throttle.

Soon, the boys arrive and try to aid Scooter in his escape. A quick trip through the funhouse and they get him on his way, but the mob lies in wait. He didn’t count on Cookie Johnson, though, and she drops onto his bike seat from a handy tree branch. He extricates himself from Cookie and barely makes his boarding call when he’s met by Cynthia, much to the other girls’ chagrin, wrapping up Part II.

Part III, entitled, “Scooter’s here to stay!” shows the guys and women getting into a fracas with our scheming men trying to explain their role. Still determined to land their man, the chicks take off on a forced march, resolved to become whatever he sees in the fair English lass.

Their destination turns out to be Madame Pompadour’s boutique and they all emerge with the latest mod fashions to the incredulity of the guys who had followed their march. The women discuss the upcoming beach party while the guys plot and later it’s a collision course as Scooter and Cynthia arrive at the beach where the portable record player is blasting the tunes for the dance party.

Cynthia looks on in amazement at the decked-out chicks and then, just to make things even more strange, the guys soon arrive and are all the image of…Scooter! The chicks say they’re dressed the way they are because that’s what Scooter digs while the guys admit that they decided if they can’t beat him, they’ll join him. The flummoxed Scooter announces to the crowd that, “You chicks and chumps—are you out of it! I came to the U.S.A. to get away from all this!

Stunned, the girls point out how Scooter’s girlfriend is dressed and the singer drops another bombshell. “Girlfriend? She’s not my girlfriend! She’s my crazy sister Cynthia!” Thrilled with the turn of events, the gang strip down to swimsuits and head for the water, wrapping up this mod teen adventure.

A cute little tale, even if it has some parallels to our previous Maniaks storyline. Swing with Scooter would go on to a fairly successful run of 36 issues until finally coming to a close at the end of 1972. By then it was looking a lot like the Archie line of books and let’s face it, Archie and the Riverdale gang tend to hold a solid corner on the teen humor market.

And now, the conclusion to the Barbara Friedlander interview, where we learn that Barbara didn’t really care much for this title, her heart being in the romance lines she worked on and she also clued me in that she wrote the “Scooter Scoops” that I shared earlier:

Bryan D. Stroud: I saw something kind of unique in your body of work, Barbara.

Barbara Friedlander: You’re kidding. (chuckle.)

BDS: You did something I’d never seen before: Romance serial stories.

BF: Oh, I loved doing that. I created those. I loved that because I’m a big soap opera girl. And I figured if I’m a big soap opera girl, there’s got to be a lot of other big soap opera girls out there, and there were! I mean those things went on until the comics folded.

BDS: I’d never seen anything quite like that. So that was your innovation. Good for you.

BF: Yeah, Jack allowed me all kinds of latitude. “If you think about it and you think it might work, then try it. We’ve got nothing to lose. We don’t have to pick it up again.” And he was very creative and he had written plays and directed plays and so he knew good stuff. Mine wasn’t necessarily good stuff, it was just appealing to a certain group of people. And that’s what comic books are. You have to be appealing. And fortunately, they stayed for a long, long time. After I left, I wondered what would happen. I really didn’t want to have to do anything anymore.

BDS: You were listed in several books as the associate editor. What does an associate editor do?

BF: I don’t know.

BDS: (Laughter).

BF: I looked at the title myself and said, “Really?” I don’t know. Honestly. If that’s what they wanted to call me, that’s fine. It sounded very official. It’s just that it would have been the same thing as anybody else. Nelson Bridwell was a marvelous person. Was he listed as anything? Was he ever made an associate editor? He was fantastic at editing stuff. Did he ever have a title?

BDS: I think he did. I believe in several of the titles he worked on he was listed as the associate editor, which I always took to be the person actually doing the nuts and bolts work.

BF: He did.

BDS: …while the editor took credit for editing the book. (chuckle.)

BF: Oh, God. The editor took credit for everything. He (Nelson) was tortured. That man was tortured. He really was.

BDS: I’ve heard that before, and it’s a shame, because it sounds like he was very gifted.

BF: Oh, God yes.

BDS: An incredible memory and creative, but because of his social awkwardness it sounded like certain people just unloaded on him, at least according to a few different sources.

BF: You’re absolutely right.

BDS: What a shame.

BF: He was taken advantage of because he was a small-town genius. He really was. He was a genius. I know, because we shared an office and when the editor came in and tortured him, I was there. I wish I had said something, but you couldn’t. These people were nasty.

BDS: You’ve mentioned several of the people you worked with already. Did you have a favorite collaborator as far as interpreting your scripts?

BF: I loved Scott Pike. He was a gentleman. He really was. A lovely man and he was so talented. There are books that he has done that I wish I could get my hands on about the women that he drew. He and Tony (Abruzzo) were really phenomenal.

BDS: I noticed Bob Kanigher wrote a few stores where you were listed as editor and he has something of a reputation. What were your experiences with Bob?

BF: I never worked directly with him. He was like before and after. But generally, the men did not like me. They didn’t know what I was doing. I never really crossed over into their realm. It wasn’t like, “Gee, I want to write Wonder Woman.” I think they would have crucified me. I never would because I didn’t know anything about Wonder Woman. You had to really know the origins in order to do that. It would be an insult to say, “I’m going to write this,” without the background. I had enough to do with my romance stuff. And I was learning on the job.

BDS: You mentioned how helpful Jack Miller was to you. What else can you tell me about him?

BF: Jack Miller. I’ve done a few comic cons and someone came up to me with one of these books that showed what different people at DC had done and Jack was very modest, even with me. So, there was this listing. It was a ton of stuff that he had done, that he had created. Also, I got an e-mail from Jack’s grandson, Peter, and he said, “Barbara, I’d love to meet you so we could talk about my grandfather. I’d recently seen a movie and at the end in the credits, grandpa’s name was all over the place.”

Now Jack never said, “Oh, I created this or that,” he just went in with the other editors, drummed up a story and then came back and knocked it out. That’s the kind of person he was. He was very well-spoken, he knew all the origins and all the secrets and he was able to knock out stuff 1,2,3. Really good stuff, obviously. And he had created several different things. Before he came to DC, he had an acting group and he directed and he wrote plays. So, there was a lot in his background that I didn’t know about. I knew his daughter pretty well and now I know his grandson. We were friendly. He came to my wedding and I was there in the hospital when he was dying. He’d smoked like a chimney.

BDS: Oh, yeah. Not uncommon for the day.

BF: Yeah, Nelson didn’t smoke, but as I mentioned, Jack smoked like a chimney and at the time I smoked. I gave it up, but it was just the thing to do at the time and it killed Jack.

BDS: I see where there was an issue of Showcase featuring Binky that had you listed as the editor, but all the stories seemed to be reprints. Was that some sort of scheduling issue?

BF: I don’t remember doing anything with those stories, but I did end up doing a lot of rewrites for romance stories. We’re talking about stories that were so old that the artists had to adjust the length of the skirts. So, I had to rewrite and update a lot of that stuff and did some other comic re-writing. So, if I did any writing on those Binky stories, they were re-written re-writes. (Laughter.) I don’t remember them.

BDS: I noticed a few credits where you were both scripting and editing. How does that work?

BF: It’s not easy. At times I was working like crazy and would deal with all kinds of things. I’ll give you an example, even though I probably shouldn’t, but when I would write a story that involved a yacht, it always came out “Yatch.” I just couldn’t seem to type it the correct way, so it ended up being a chore for the letterer to fix, because they knew what I meant. And they knew I was a dope. (chuckle.) But they liked me and they were nice to me and they just took care of me in that way.

BDS: That’s good. We all need allies.

BF: I was lucky. Sol Harrison was a big fan of mine. I wish I had known. But at the time I was just like everyone else and was afraid I was going to get dumped, but that was not true. When they were taken over by Warner or whoever it was back in the day, that even scared me more, but the truth was Warner was the secret word and they were looking for women who did creative things. And Sol kept saying to me, “Don’t leave.” And Irwin Donenfeld really liked me, and Sheldon Mayer, who had a lot to do with DC behind the scenes. Anyway, they sent me away for a weekend to learn a lot of the ins and outs of how things worked with comics. As a single woman they had my mother come along for a chaperone and I learned all these things. She wasn’t thrilled. She kept asking why I wanted to get involved in all of this. She thought it was dumb. She ended up spending a lot of time with the wives, who were lovely to her. Anyway, they did all this stuff because they were grooming me. I only wish someone had said, “Barbara, we’re grooming you.” I had no idea. But with all the effort they were putting forth, I think that’s what was happening. But no one said, “Barbara, don’t get married and leave.” I should have had the courage to stay, but I just didn’t.

BDS: You talked a little bit about Swing with Scooter. It must have been inspired by the British Invasion.

BF: Yes, it was.

BDS: It said that you and Jack shared the scripting credits.

BF: Yes. I wrote the first one. And afterwards, I hated it. (chuckle.) It was not my wheelhouse. It really wasn’t. I enjoyed the romance so much more. I think Jack and I worked on it together until I finally said, “I can’t do this. I hate it.” And he could knock it out in two seconds. So, he did. I’m sure there were other people that worked on it in the writing credits. But he and I knocked out the first, I think it was 10 issues together. I was dating someone who was actually a writer for Newsweek and among other things got to interview Sophia Loren, which was much more exciting than what I was doing. (Laughter.) Then he also got to cover the Beatles and that’s kind of what gave me the inspiration for Swing with Scooter. That and Jack was growing his hair out. He was an audiophile, so he grew his hair out. (chuckle.)

BDS: I noted that Joe Orlando took over editing with issue #12.

BF: Yes, and Jack was gone by then. He was dying of cancer. So, it was uncomfortable for me to stay there without my ally. And I wanted to have babies.

BDS: I found some credits for you a little bit later in that series and this is kind of humorous to me, it looks like they listed the writer as “B. Fried Lander.”

BF: That’s me. I’m a fried lander. I also worked on stuff for…I did Thelma of the Apes. Do you know who did that?

BDS: Oh, yes. Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

BF: Exactly. I worked on that with them. They called me when my son was about two years old and said, “Barbara, we’d like you to write this,” knowing how much I liked to write that stuff. But I did, I sat down and I wrote that and they liked it and they asked if I could do an origin of how it got started, so I did that. And unfortunately, between their distribution trouble and MAD being so hot, it was just, forget about that. I worked on that for them and I was shocked that I did it and they really liked it. I hadn’t done it in so long I wasn’t sure I still could.

BDS: Oh, good for you. It was one of Mike’s big disappointments as he told me that “Up Your Nose” did not take off like they’d hoped.

BF: Exactly. It did not.

BDS: He said they’d poured their guts into it.

BF: They did. They really did and I was so sorry because they were such nice people. They worked for Jack for a while, too.

BDS: That was one of my most enjoyable interviews when I got to talk with Mike. He was so funny to talk to.

BF: He was funny. I spent so much time with all these lovely people and they were. They were fine people.

BDS: Do you remember doing some work on Teen Beam? It looks like there was only a single issue produced, but oddly it looks like it was #2.

BF: Let me tell you about that. There are two issues. Now Teen Beat was a big magazine at the time. I had no idea, because I didn’t read that kind of stuff and I think it was Sol Harrison’s idea. And he said, “Barbara, you’re going to do this and Jack, you’re going to do this.” It was a family thing. For twelve cents you got really top credits of all the best stuff and then you have wonderful people that you interview. So, Teen Beat was already on the stands. I had no idea. And we had put our own Teen Beat [#1 + house ad] together. That was the first issue. And Irwin came screaming in and called us idiots. He said, “You can’t use this. Think of another name.” I said, “Okay. Teen Beam.” I mean, how difficult is that?

So, the first one, I have a copy of, which I had to pay $100 to get, but I wanted it. I knew that was never any place, but it was a very good issue. The second one was a bust, because it didn’t get any promotion. I think at twelve cents, people could have afforded it. I had the same connections as Photoplay and all that. I had called everybody. The agents and everyone. I was being sent all kinds of publicity and stuff like that and the article could write themselves. A lot of people worked on it. And Jack went with me to the Waldorf Astoria where I interviewed Herman’s Hermits. They were always throwing me into doing stuff I had no idea how to do. To ask questions and I had no idea, but I did it. Because that’s what I was supposed to do. (chuckle.)

BDS: We step up where we’re told to.

BF: Yeah. I mean I wasn’t storming the beaches at Normandy, but…I was terrified. But I did it.

BDS: What would you say was your most unusual assignment?

BF: That one. (Laughter.) And going to see Sheldon Mayer. That was completely nuts. It was like the Lost Weekend. Because so many emotions hit me at the same time that I had no idea why I was going there. I thought it was a punishment.

BDS: It looks like they basically bounced you back and forth between the romance books and the humor titles. It sounds like you preferred the romance titles.

BF: I did. I still do. But I just wrote humor for Jack Holder and I just wrote some romance for Ken Wheaton. And as I mentioned earlier, I also did a Jetta, which they said my dialogue was a little old. But that was because I hadn’t written that kind of dialogue for a very long time. I know I can do it. That’s how you learn.

BDS: That’s exactly right. Do you remember working on the Maniaks that came out in Showcase?

BF: I do, but very vaguely. I couldn’t help you much with that.

BDS: Okay, I was just wondering who came up with it. That looked like another inspiration by a music group of the day.

BF: I don’t know. I do remember the name, though. There were so many of those names.

BDS: Right and Showcase was used as a tryout title. Some of the tryouts stuck and some didn’t. Apparently the Maniaks didn’t. There was something like 3 issues in Showcase, but they never got their own series.

BF: Sort of a Monkees kind of thing?

BDS: Exactly. At least that’s the way it looked to me. Did you ever run across Liz Safian Berube at the offices?

BF: I did not.

BDS: Okay. She did a lot of work in production as a colorist, but also did some of the fashion features in the romance books.

BF: I really started those fashion features, to my knowledge. At least no one ever said, “Hey, we’ve done this before.” But Tony (Abruzzo) helped me. I would show him artwork and he would do his thing. He was wonderful with fashion and I recently found out in an article that he actually designed dresses.

BDS: That was actually how Gaspar Saladino started out was in the fashion industry. I don’t know how that led to lettering, but there you go.

BF: He was a wonderful letterer. He did the lettering for my wedding invitation. Wasn’t that nice of him?

BDS: That sounds like Gaspar. He was my very first interview and I can’t think of a sweeter guy.

BF: He was a very practical, good person.

BDS: Very much so. If my information is correct, Barbara, you were with DC about six years?

BF: Yes, but when I left, I did do some freelance work for them on the romance books, but nothing else that I can remember.

BDS: You left in order to start your family?

BF: I did and it lasted 24 years.

BDS: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

BF: I’m just sorry I didn’t get to know a lot of the people at DC better. I’m sorry I stopped when I did, but who knows what you don’t know? I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this interview and I look forward to someone calling and asking me about my time there, because I’m eager to do it now. Because I grew up. (chuckle.)

BDS: Well, I’d like to thank you for your generous help today and wish you great success as you move forward.

BF: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed it.

A huge shout out to Barbara for her time, recollections and friendliness. It was a genuine pleasure to get acquainted with this fine lady and card-carrying member of our beloved Silver Age.

Be sure to join us again readers on October 15th when another review will be posted at this very URL.

As always, your feedback is welcome and encouraged. Just drop me a line at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you next time and...

Long live the Silver Age!

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