Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Power Nelson in "Project: Radium!" from Prize Comics #3, 1940

Life is, indeed, like a book. As one chapter ends, a new one begins. Themes mesh and meld and blur together, and only in retrospect can we look up from the murk of our liveaday lives and see these transitions with any clarity.

Hurrah! I am "back on my own true feet" again! Traces of pain still plague the gouted foot. But the "digital phase compressor" was removed today. Dr. Doynter gruffly approved of my foot's condition.

He did, however, issue me a bit of a dressing-down. It stuck to my memory, and, thus, I repeat it here:

"Go on. Return to your desserts and buttery toast. Guzzle your half-and-half. Eat slices of moist cake and pie. See if I care. But, mark my words, Mr. Moray, you are lining your coffin with a shroud of saturated fats and sweets! If your life is at all precious to you, attempt to eat roughage. Try to eat the occasional vegetable. I can't do it for you. I wish I could. I... wish... I... could..."

With those words, he patted me on the right knee, sighed, and left the examination room without his eyes meeting mine.

I sat in that claustrophobic room for two hours--literally afraid to move. Dr. Doynter's words haunted me. Was I, indeed, killing myself with kindness? Was each dessert spoon, in reality, a saber of death for me?

The gloom of autumn had already darkened the afternoon sky as I hobbled out to my "loaner" car, a "green-friendly" vehicle called, I believe, the Priapus. It is a metallic bug of a car. It runs, in part, on electricity! Will wonders ne'er cease?

To my delight, the local "oldies" station chose that moment to play a "three-fer" of Peter and Gordon--easily my favorite of the "British Invaders" of the mid-1960s. Oh, how I idolized those harmonizing lads in those days! I was something of a dead-ringer for "Peter"--albeit a bit more heavy-set.

In fact, I formed a duet with a high-school friend, Russ "Rusty" Gortner. "Mason and Rusty" never got beyond a couple of high-school talent contests, but we enjoyed our attempts to re-create the delightful sounds of our English idols.

A wave of melancholy crossed my soul as I drove home. A tear rolled down my cheek whilst the sweet strains of "Nobody I Know" played over the radio. Perhaps I had mortality on my mind. The doctor's words stuck with me. As well, I realized I hadn't seen "Rusty" in over 30 years. For all I know, he could be dead and buried.

How many friends, teachers, celebrities have I outlived? And who amongst those demogratical groups shall outlive me?

To cheer myself, I quickly thought of the names of 10 pioneer panelologists. Last on the list was Richard Sprang. I hadn't thought of Mr. Sprang in years. He is best-known for his popular berth on the "Batman" feature of the 1950s.

His work was quite slick and sleek by that time--at the expense of much of his artistic and panelological "soul." I thought back to his earliest work in the comic-magazine medium. Today's remarkable tale came immediately to mind.

The trouble was, my early issues of Prize Comics are in box W-21. To get to these panelological gems would mean an hour of strenuous lifting, moving, sorting and yet more lifting.

I prefer that my trips to "The Pantheon" be short and sweet. Should I linger too long in my backyard, I risk attracting the attention of Burt Liffler, my well-meaning next-door neighbor.

Mr. Liffler is the coach of a local middle-school basketball team. He lives alone, and is, I assume, a widower. Perhaps he has never married! Whatever the case, he is desperately in search of human contact and attention.

Once I am seen, I can rarely escape without 90 minutes of small-talk. The poor man! So alone in this world! He wears shorts every day of the year, and tends to overdo his cologne. I can smell Burt Liffler before I see him.

This is, sometimes, a boon. If I am able to catch the scent of his cologne in time, I can quickly slide shut the doors of The Pantheon, with myself inside the structure.

When this happens, I am in for a long wait. Mr. Liffler is content to spend a solid hour calling out my name: "Mason? Are you there? Mason? Is that you?" Over and over and over again! It is exhausting.

As well, Mr. Liffler typically wears his coach's whistle at all times. Perhaps out of instinct, or habit, he will punctuate his pathetic calls with pert bursts from that whistle.

I feel like a heel for avoiding Mr. Liffler. But he is in too much need. I don't mind a chat of, say, 15 minutes' duration with him. But he fails to understand that I might "have a life" and, thusly, need to go back into my house.

This very scenario played out this evening. I simply had to lay my hands on the early Prizes, Burt Liffler be damned!

I must move four layers of archival boxes, then another three, to obtain access to box W-21. It is nigh impossible to achieve this goal without a great deal of thumping and bumping. The boxes' pounding against the metallic walls of "The Pantheon" are a clarion call to the lonely soul of Mr. (or, should I say, Mister?) Liffler.

Before I could prepare myself, I heard that loathsome whistle blow. "Mason?" Then a silence. "Is that you out here in the dark?"

I sighed and steeled myself for the worst: "Yes, Mister Liffler, it is I."

"Oh, call me Burt. We're neighbors."

"Burt. Yes, I am here."

Three-quarters of an hour later, having gone through such topics as the price of oranges, sock repair, poor cable reception, a sale on cement and pottery at a local hardware store, a knee injury of his star player, and its comparisons to my recent attack of gout, his disappointment in a new brand of soda pop, the death of a beloved middle-school janitor and something about the phenomenon of "Howard, the Combined Kitten" (the latter which he found on the Internet), his telephone rang.

"Oh, dear, I'm expecting this call. I've got to go." And off went lonesome Mister Liffler.

I could scarcely believe my luck, nor properly count my blessings. I had been spared a good hour of additional small-talk!

My main difficulty in our "friendship" is that I am seldom allowed more than two syllables of response. Liffler clearly enjoys the gift of speech. As "groucho" of the Marx Brothers might have quipped, he was vaccinated with a radio!

I held in my hands the third issue of Prize. It is my profound pleasure to share this early gem by Richard Sprang with you today. It's quite a hair-raising tale, so hold onto your seats and hats!

The majesty of "Power Nelson" never seemed brighter than in this superlative story. In its 15 breathless pages, Richard Sprang crafted a panelological pleasure of epic scale.

I hope you don't mind if I cut short my post-story analysis today. I have one more item of concern. I haven't discussed it with anyone else--yet. I open my heart to you, my esteemed readers.

Should I seek "help" for my wife, Dorrie? She is, of late, given to wandering around the kitchen, day and night, muttering to herself as she consults cook-books and pretends to prepare her justly famous treats and goodies.

These episodes occur usually after I have dozed off. I am a light sleeper, and the clanks and creaks of her nocturnal kitchen activity easily rouse me.

More than once, I have stumbled down the hallway and peered into the kitchen, to see my wife measuring imaginary draughts of flour, sugar and salt; stirring pretend batches of frosting and batter; bringing unseen pots of water to an alleged boil.

During daylight hours, Dorrie is her old self. She has recovered, it would seem, from the embarrassment of her attempted "trial seperation." Is this night-time secret behavior something worthy of my concern? Or is she just "bowling off steam" while she awaits my full return to health?

Again, I am sorry to cut short my comments on today's panelological presentation. I feel that each of you is my friend, though we have not met in person. I solicit your opinion: what am I to do?

Awaiting your counsel, I remain your friend,

Mason Moray

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Minimidget in "They Called Him... Big Boy!" -- from Amazing-Man Comics #16, 1940

Salutations, dear friends. I am overjoyed to report that I'm--quite literally--back on my feet! The modern breakthroughs and conveniences of science and medicine continue to astound me.

Bound to my ailing, gouty foot is a fantastic device. I believe Dr. Doynter referred to it as a "digital phase compressor." He said the phrase once, rather quickly, and patently refused to repeat it. "Don't get it wet" was something he told me, over and over again.

I am not sure if Dr. Doynter really likes me as a person. I suppose that isn't the most cogent point of reference between physician and patient. Doctors have every right to like--or not like--their subjects.

He is rather remote--as said earlier, he despises small-talk. His favored modus operandi is a funereal silence, punctuated by his harsh exhalations of breath. It's something akin to a teapot's whistle--perhaps pitched an octave lower, but just as sharp and arresting.

Its tone becomes quite staccato when the Doctor concentrates most heavily. At this time, he chuckles to himself--as if recalling the macabre punch-line to long, gruesome shaggy-dog story.

I'm not quite sure that I like Dr. Doynter. But he is a "pro," and I am but a humble patient.

While the Doctor attached the "gizmo" to my foot, I recalled today's story, and chuckled my own private chuckle. Dr. Doynter looked at me--his eyes reading a mix of contempt and curiosity--and then returned to the focus of his work.

Let me describe this apparatus while my memory is still fresh. It consists of a series of blue-hued "gel-packs," which are molded to conform to the contours of my afflicted foot--and to the dimensions of each toe.

The sensation to my feet and toes is warm and squishy--akin to a hot, wet towel. Apparently, these "gel-packs" suspend my foot and toes, and isolate each "digit" to reduce stress, chafing and abrasion.

The packs are enclosed by a translucent plastic shell, which has a pattern of sea-shells and starfish printed on it. On the bottom of this casing is a small, lubricated wheel. By simply scooting forward, while using a cane for balance, my foot is free of pain and stress.

It does make driving difficult. My foot tends to stick on the gas pedal, which has caused numerous unwanted accelerations at red lights, busy intersections, and has frightened more than a few pedestrians.

To help warn others of my state, I made a sign, which I've affixed to the front of my car. BAD FOOT, it reads. MAY PRESS GAS PEDAL. PLEASE PARDON ME.

Dr. Doynter said that, if I can successfully keep this gadget water-free for one week, that it may do the trick for my gout. As well, I have stuck steadfast to a no-goodies diet. Friends, it is like eating straw, pebbles and sticks. I do not recommend it unless you are an antelope or gazelle!

It was my errant driving that brought today's story to mind. Shockingly, for its era, this tale depicts a cold-blooded hit-and-run automobile attack--in which a small child is slaughtered. This story has brought tears to my eyes more than once.

It is a reminder that I must remain vigilant--I must learn to control the gas pedal whilst still I wear this device. How bitterly ironic, if this object, designed to heal, should lead me to kill another!

Some good news: Dorrie is back home! The trombone symposium proved too much for her nerves. As well, my insurance has agreed to pay for a new car! I shall miss my old faithful Dodge Dart. It's deeply interwoven with my panelological findings and passions.

But the old girl doesn't get good gas mileage, and she's begun to rattle and clunk in her dotage. The check should arrive any day now.

And, if the "Digital Phase Compressor" does its magic, I shall return to my office next week. I can only imagine the disarray of my desk! Other employees tend to use a vacant desk for their "home-away-from-home." It will be covered with sandwich crumbs, old coffee cups, abandoned note-pads with pornographic doodles, and such. I've come to expect these "glad tidings" from my "team members." I try to set a good example by not sullying the workspaces of others... but one can only do one's best. After that, 'tis said, the devil with the rest!

And, on that note, here is an outstanding episode of the highly imaginative, unpredictable Golden Age gem-- MINIMIDGET!

As with any work excerpted from a longer narrative, this "Minimidget" tale may contain some puzzling references. Writer-artist John Franklin Kolb favored lengthy, byzantine plot-lines that, in some cases, casually extended across a dozen issues!

This story well displays his love of combining story genres. Here, in its seven pages, we encounter the following:

Robots! Gangsters! Color-changing automobiles! Scientists! Bank robberies! Burning houses! One could easily fashion an acceptable story from any single element on this list. Mr. Kolb believed "the more, the merrier" in his narrative style. He accosted the lucky reader with everything but "the kitten sink." His seven-page stories read like a full-length graphic novel to this reporter.

Poor Kolb did not last long in the panelological realm. Wartime duties called him--not as a soldier or sailor, but as a machinist. Kolb went to work for Lockheed, where his imaginative skills helped devise several war-winning gadgets.

Kolb paid the price for his ingenuity--he made the panelologists' ultimate sacrifice. Both his arms were severed at the elbow during a factory mishap, in which a poorly-installed buzzsaw blade flew loose of its housing. The unfortunate man was in the blade's vicious path.

Kolb learned to draw with a pencil or pen in his mouth, but the results did not match his earlier "Minimidget" work. He attempted to return to the comic magazine trade. It took him, on average, 11 months to complete a six-page story. He could not generate sufficient income to survive.

Kolb became a screenwriter for television. His scripts adorned such classic series as "Lassie "Ironside" and "Rawhide." A mind such as his could not cease its imaginative paths. Even in the heavy restrictions of television, Kolb produced solid, satisfying plays. I haven't seen any of his "boot-tube" work in years, but I recall it as fondly as his panelological efforts of yore.

I just peeked in on Dorrie. Poor dear! She is apparently pretending to make some brownies. Old habits die hard. I await the day when I can, once again, savor the rich rewards of her culinary clarity!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"Magno the Magnetic Man," from Super-Mystery Comics 2, 1940

'Tis food for thought, how quickly a man's life can change.

One day, a fellow might find himself in a hospital bed, beneath crisp, unfamiliar sheets, a acid-measuring device embedded in his great toe.

The next day, this same person might find himself sitting in a dimly-lit, remote motel room, out on a lonesome highway, as dusk tinges the sky with the shades of night.

In said room, with its faint but pervasive smells of ammonia and mildew, many nights and many lives have passed. Moments of joy have been experienced here; eons of sadness and desolation have set the scene most often.

In was in such a place--Lex's Econo-Tel, out on Highway 32A, that I found myself, last night. It was not my room. It had been rented by Dorrie.

Illumed by a single reading light, the room had an ancient gloom. The sighs and roars of passing cars and trucks could be heard--intrusions of the outside world.

Within the room, a small drama unfolded. "I've only been hurting you, Mace," Dorrie said, her voice faint. "I've tried to please you, but all I've done is to hurt you."

I'd been released from the hospital the day before, and was given hope by Dr. Doynter that I could be on the mend. The trick: it was imperative that I avoid unnecessary fats, sweets, and all rich foods.

You'll recall a dressing-down Dr. Doynter gave Dorrie, in my previous post. The doctor is a no-nonsense man--you can tell this by the scent of his after-shave. His is not a grab-bag of forced jollity, or idle chitter-chat about sport teams, the weather, or the latest "pop" fads.

He realized that my dietary needs were not being met. They were, in fact, being subverted by every creamy, fudgy, tangy, chewy delight that issues forth from Dorrie's kitchen.

True, I was getting some green, leafy vegetables, some sensible starches and "carbos" and good proteins. But there was a great deal of Ranch dressing, croutons, Baco-Bitz and cheese cubes added to the mix.

Dorrie is quite sensitive about her culinary arts. She took Dr. Doynter's wake-up call as a total repudiation of her self-worth. Thus, she announced to me that she wanted a "trial separation" from our marriage.

She rented a room at Lex's for one week. She told me that, after one week, if I felt I could do without her in my life, that she would leave.

This is, of course, poppycock. I need Dorrie like a blind man needs a cane. She makes a positive difference in my life. Her way of showing friendship and love is to make delicious things.

I tried to tell her that, perhaps, she might be offering too much of a good thing. I honestly wished to follow the doctor's orders. I didn't want the gout to worsen. I'd not adjusted well to this preview of affliction. It lessened my life.

For example, my once-daily visits to The Pantheon were now dwindled to one a week. With great discomfort, I would hobble, using an umbrella or croquet mallet for an ersatz cane, and select a handful of precious panelological gems from a random box. The trip back to the house would almost seem to do me in. And I'd usually find, to my disgust, that I'd grabbed some filler comics--things I was not entirely in the mood to peruse.

Why, I asked myself, did I hang onto such uninteresting titles as Here's Howie and Big Town? I suppose it is nigh-impossible for me to cruelly discard a vintage comic magazine, no matter how dull its contents. These zircon stones were no substitute for the true gems in my gatherum.

I hit the jackpot this morning with the second issue of Super-Mystery Comics, from 1940. I traded a three-foot stack of assorted war, romance and racing-car comic magazines to obtain this trail-blazing gem, back in 1974. Seeing it again, especially in the frame of reference of the emotional and physical strain that has plagued me, was tantamount to running into a beloved old friend, after having not seen them for decades.

But I digress. Dorrie was having a terrible time of it at the Econo-Tel. In all the other rooms were visitors from out-of-town--all of them trombone players, here for a "sliphorn shindig"--the 33rd Annual Tri-State Trombone Rally.

Day and night, trombonists of all skill levels played scales, in every key known to music, or repeated sliding, sloppy "riffs" from their song-bag of Dixieland "toe tappers."

These musicians were unconstrained by city noise regulations--the Econo-Tel is outside our city limits. They were free to play their hearts out, around the clock.

Last night, I tried to convince Dorrie that she has the wrong idea--and that this 'round-the-clock tromboning will take a deadly toll on her sanity. "Come home, dear," I said in all sincerity. "Our house is just an empty shell without you there."

Dorrie said she would seriously consider my suggestion. All around her, sliding glissandos and horse-laugh effects filled the air.

I gave Dorrie a goodnight hug and left the room. As I walked down the long breezeway, a trombone fell from a window above. It hit the windshield of my car, and cracked the glass. Thank the stars for my insurance! This "sliphorn king" will regret his idle disposal of an instrument. Talk about your "play and pay!"

I hope Dorrie will rid herself of this implausible notion that she is a fifth wheel and come back home. Just a few more weeks of salads and broccoli and I might return to her cream-cakes and toffee bars.

And now, onto our story of note. This is another pioneering panelological epic--15 full pages of adventure, mystery and suspense. courtesy of artist-writer Harry Lucey.

"Magno" continued for several years, but was rarely as good as in its first few appearances. This tale of mystery-men in inflatable rubber suits, who imperil the world with their drill-car and hypnosis ray, will no doubt leave you haunted and of the need to look over your shoulder in fear and surprise.

To this day, the sound of a tire inflating sends a small chill down my spine... but I fear I've given too much away! Read this savory gem and see for yourself!

Harry Lucey is among the unrecognized geniuses of early panelology. He wrote and drew with a drive and fire seldom equaled by even the best of his peers. Yet Lucey did not aspire to be a cartoonist!

Lucey was a trained orthodontist, living in British Columbia during the Great Depression. He sold home-made clocks by mail to augment his meager income. Indeed, the "Lucey Time-piece" is now a sought-after collector's item. His attention to detail on his clocks--which typically depicted an event from American history--was often stunning.

How did he get into the world of panelology? For years, fellow historians and collectors pondered this mystery. Lucey died in 1953, long before men such as myself cared to learn more about the creators of the beloved comic magazines.

I stumbled upon the answer to this panelological riddle quite by accident one day in 1977. I was in upstate New York, in a secluded barn that doubled as a sort of rural thrift store. At that time, I had an almost-infallible "sixth sense" with vintage comic magazines. I could pass a place, quite at random, and get a strong feeling that, within its walls, lurked the fragile objects of my dreams.

This barn, strewn with toddler clothes and old parachutes, contained one battered steamer trunk. Within this trunk, carefully wrapped in vintage newspapers, were over 100 choice comic magazines.

One bundle was concealed 'neath a 1933 edition of The Tacoma Times. An item on its front page intrigued me. The headline read, in large bold type:


The story told of a young man who had apparently been involved in a vicious fist-fight at the Vancouver rail yards. His assailant had tossed the body of his victim, knocked cold, into an unused cold-storage car.

The train made its way to the Tacoma train yards. There,a "railroad bull," making a routine check of the incoming cars for hobos, discovered the still-breathing but bruised form of one Harold D. Lucey.

When roused, Lucey gave his profession as "orthodontist," and claimed he was the victim of a card game gone wrong.

The story made no note of Lucey's future plans. It would appear that he made his way to New York. How he became a cartoonist is anyone's guess. Perhaps his Canadian medical degrees were worthless in "the States." Perhaps Lucey had seen enough overbites and jaw defects to last him a lifetime.

He was a natural-born artist and cartoonist. The elegance of his brush-line suggests an Alex Raymond--but a Raymond of a less formal bent. One detects a surgeon's eye for detail in his meticulous yet organic illustrations.

His imagination was as vivid as any pioneer panelologist. What visions! What thrills! To this day, this "Magno" tale remains my favorite of Lucey's work. I hope you have enjoyed it, as well.

Now, if only Dorrie will come home and let bygones be bygones. In the meantime, I'll eat some spinach and carrots, and hope for the best. How I miss her sour-cream crumb cake...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Flip Falcon In the 4th Dimension from "Fantastic Comics" #20, 1941

Greetings, my comrades in the comic arts. I write to you today from a most unusual spot: a hospital bed.

My gout has not improved. Thus, Dr. Doynter asked me to stay at the Emberton Memorial Medical Center for an overnight check-up. Thank heavens for my insurance coverage. I believe they charge patients by the breath in this place.

This hospital has "hi-fi" Internet service. That means that I may access the Web, and its sundry wonders, from this none-too-cozy hospital bed.

Dr. Doynter seems confident that this bout of gout can be vanquished. I am quite ready to return to my normal workaday life. I am sure the office is a lesser place without my presence. I am, if anything, a "den father" to the others at the office. Without me, I sense my "team members" drifting, unable to fend for themselves--even worried.

Dorrie had a consultation with Dr. Doynter, after she dropped me off for registration. I was privy to the better part of it. Dr. Doynter's tone of voice became quite heated. I heard such phrases as "no marshmallows," "keep your butter to yourself" and "egg nog is poison to this man!"

Dorrie seemed downhearted as she left the consultation. She could not bear to look me in the eye.

Finally, she sat beside me on the hospital bed, and took my hand. "Mace," she said, in a stage whisper, "I didn't mean to hurt you. I know how you love my cooking. It makes me happy to fix treats for you. But the doctor says--"

I squeezed her hand and smiled. "Dr. Doynter just doesn't understand me the way you do. Soon enough I'll be back on my feet--"

"Oh, Mason." Dorrie looked downcast again. She has me pegged as an inveterate punster. I do not consciously plan such answers. Nor do I intend them to be puns of any kind. It rather miffs me when Dorrie reacts this way. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and remain calm.

"That is to say, when my gout is cured and I am able-bodied again. When that day comes, I shall welcome any and all treats from your cookbook."

Dorrie smiled: at last she saw my sincerity. All was well again.

That was two hours ago. In that time, I began to get bored with the stasis of hospital life. I'd despaired of the fact that I didn't have any new scans with which to compose a posting here.

Who should come to the rescue but good old "Sparks" Spinkle. Today's story arrived in my Gmail box some half an hour ago, along with this e-mail. I'm sure "Sparks" won't mind my sharing it with you:


From: Wallace Spinkle [sparkgun@gmail.com]
Date: Tue, 3 Nov 2009 13:40:05 -0800
Subject: Flip Falcon
To: macemoray@gmail.com

Mason, you old rutabaga!

Just serving my time here at the "coo-coo chalet." Today's my turn to
run the library here. Nothing much to read, but I do get to use the
library scanner.

Thought I'd treat you to another top tale from the old funnybook
vault. Remember how we used to talk about "Flip Falcon" back in the
day? The fella could just leap into his screen and visit the fourth

I still laugh about the time I tried to do that with my TV set. Guess
I'd had too much beer or something! All I got was a sore head, and my
Magnavox never quite worked right after that.

You know, "Flip" was one of the few Fox characters who got better
later in the game. The rest of 'em are dull as crackers by this time.
Not old "Flip." He kept his edge.

Tell your wife that anytime she feels like baking me some cookies, or
some of that fudge pound cake, that it's always welcome. The desserts
here taste like school paste.

Come to think of it, everything here tastes like school paste. Except
for the school paste! It tastes like filet min-yoan.

Maybe you can run this "Flip Falcon" story on your almighty blog. Just
mention my name and make with your usual brilliant comments.

Oop, gotta go. Some nut's waiting to check out "The Story of Mankind"
in an EZ-Eye edition. Should I tell him how it ends?

Cordially yours, warmly,



Here, then, is "Sparks"' gift to us all: "Flip Falcon in the 4th Dimension." Enjoy!

"Flip" did indeed improve as it went onward. Writer-artist "Orville Wells" was, in reality, a shy substitute teacher named James Mannings Jr. Mannings served at a Catholic grade school where comic magazines were considered the anathema to clean living.

Thus, Mannings wrote and drew "Flip" on the fly. He would rent a hotel room some 75 miles away from his apartment for one weekend every month. There, he would feverishly create a new "Falcon" adventure.

The finished art boards were mailed to a laundry near Times Square. Once received, they were ferried to the Fox offices by an elderly woman who rode a tricycle. Most Fox staffers vividly recall these deliveries. They marked the only times a female ever entered the Fox premises!

This is, indeed, a particularly choice episode in "Flip"'s career. Herein, he battles Lucifer himself, is tricked by a false show of cowardice, and nearly gobbled whole by snake-like "death plants"--all vividly, thrillingly rendered by Mannings.

Sadly, this story "outed" Mannings to his superiors. The story was the subject of a highly negative sermon one Sunday morning, soon after its publication. Mannings' intent had been to incorporate Lucifer into the fictive world of "Falcon" to prove his evangelical zeal to his readership.

The minister chose to interpret the story as "devil worship," foisted upon innocent, unknowing youth by sinister miscreants.

This provoked Mannings to stand up before the congregation and announce, loudly, "I am this sinister miscreant!"

Mannings was fired on the spot. Alas, "Flip" was soon cancelled. Mannings was drafted, and saw some heavy action via the Merchant Marines.

At war's end, he became America's most distinguished biographer of birds. His illustrated books, Confessions of a Thrush and I, Woodpecker remain in print to this very day.

Touches of the "Orville Wells" style abound in his generous, full-color illustrations. Mannings sought to depict avian life as it really happened. By giving voice to our feathered friends, Mannings won many accolades, in public and print alike, before his untimely death in 1970.

I hoped to interview Mannings, but missed that boat of opportunity.

I now await the results of Dr. Doynter's tests on my foot. He has attached some sort of hose to my big toe. Its constant humming and vibrating has been a distraction while I composed this post. But if it means I walk away a better man, so be it.

Ah, my health salad has arrived! I must sign off. Perhaps, when next we meet, I will be cured!