Thursday, May 25, 2023

THE GREEN HORNET Radio Program Makes a Comeback

The Green Hornet
makes a triumphant return to the masses, courtesy of Radio Spirits. The company has licensed the radio broadcasts for release in box sets, each containing 20 episodes. Even better news is that most of the shows they have been releasing are "lost" episodes -- recordings never available to collectors for decades. Radio Spirits has been releasing these sets every four months like clockwork and will continue to do so as long as sales are strong. I am proud to say I contribute liner notes for many of these box sets -- including the most recent, pictured here, which gets a general release to the public as of today. 

I am reprinting below the catalog description and the list of episodes included in this set. To purchase this set, and some of the prior releases before they go out of print, visit the link below.


By day, the daring young publisher Britt Reid uses editorials to campaign against corruption. By night, he takes matters into his own hands. Radio's definitive masked hero roams the night once more in twenty exciting radio adventures starring Jack McCarthy!

Racketeers and crooked politicians, corrupt businessmen and underworld kingpins -- none can escape the sting of the Green Hornet! Listen in as he thwarts the evil intentions of international spies, stops schemes to steal jewels, foils plots to nick negotiable bonds, and so much more!

Episodes Include: The Gobbler Gobbler 11-22-49; The Drug Store Robberies 11-29-49; The Chiseling Countess 12-06-49; The Diary Of Yola St. Clair 12-13-49; The Plot Before Christmas 12-20-49; Ring Around Camilla 12-27-49; The Red Glasses 01-03-50; An Assist From The Boys 01-10-50; The Leroy Plot 01-17-50; Catspaw 01-24-50; For Love or Money 01-31-50; The Big Affair 02-07-50; The Hidden Bonds 02-14-50; The Key 02-21-50; Shnooks Warren Gets a Press 02-28-50; Out Of The Fog 03-07-50; Squeeze Play 03-14-50; The Mercer Robbery 03-21-50; Picture Of A Woman 03-28-50; Queer Money Market 04-11-50

Thursday, May 18, 2023

MAVERICK: The TV Series -- NEW BOOK

This book was more than a decade in the making. My publisher, Ben Ohmart of Bear Manor Media, and I flew out to California for the unprecedented access to production files for a number of television programs produced in the late fifties and early sixties, produced by Warner Brothers. The film studio decided to utilize their studios, sets, props, costumes and contract players to produce a number of television programs for ABC-TV, with tremendous success and critical acclaim. Along the way, the studio made stars out of Clint Walker, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Edd Byrnes, Roger Smith, John Russell, Peter Brown, Wayde Preston, Diane McBain, and of course... James Garner.

Maverick was one of those programs and the western remains one of the top ten among fans of cowboy television. So you can understand why it was the one book we wanted to get published. The basic premise of Maverick, a professional gambler who wandered the west avoiding trouble and finding himself caught up in life-threatening adventures, was televised for five seasons over ABC-TV, and spawned a number of comic books, collectibles and sequels. ABC was poised to fire its Sunday ammunition against the competing Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen, with heavy bets to the tune of a million dollars placed by the Kaiser Industries Corp. and Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., its sponsors.


The chief asset of the show was its sense of humor. If an adult Western was to be truly adult, it could not take itself too seriously. Rather than kiss the woman and ride off into the sunset, Maverick could be expected to win a bet by kissing his horse and fleeing out of the county by riverboat. Along the way he cleaned up corruption and disruption of law and order in the unsettled old West.


The goal was not to compete with other fast-drawing hotshot television Westerns, but rather to differentiate from them. That was the Roy Huggins formula. He created and produced the series, ensuring a refreshing take in an era when television Westerns were a variation-on-a-theme. Huggins wanted to avoid the clich├ęs that populated other television Westerns.


Linda Alexander, who wrote the definitive biography of Jack Kelly, jumped on board to help with the book. Then Steven Thompson, a top-notch historian for comic books and pop culture, jumped on board to contribute. The best part of this project was that none of the authors had egos or wanted sole credit -- the finished product was the end game and as a result, their passion became a collective collaboration that makes this book definitive. So you can believe I am not exaggerating when I say this book has been a decade in the making. The icing on the cake is having consulted very possible avenue including production files. (Yes, that means the episode guide includes the dates of production, filming locations, budgets, and more. You won't find that anywhere else!) Fans of Maverick will find themselves wanting to re-watch the episodes once again with all the new behind-the-scenes trivia brought to light.


To purchase your copy, visit here: 

https://www.martingrams.biz/products/maverick-a-history-of-the-television-series


  

Friday, May 12, 2023

Frances Langford: Armed Forces Sweetheart (Book Review)

To date there has never been a biography about Frances Langford in print form, which makes Ben Ohmart's latest contribution to the reference library all the more valuable. She really was the Sweetheart of the Armed Forces, once quoted of saying "God knows I would gladly give my life to help end this terrible affair and send those boys home to their families and friends where they belong." With her vocal talents as both movie star and radio personality, her career has been immortalized in recorded form. Her personal life restricted to the tabloids and gossip columns of the times, she donated everything she owned -- including letters, scrapbooks and photographs to the Martin County Historical Society in Minnesota. Anyone can visit the Elliott Museum and browse through her collection, but Ben Ohmart saved us an expensive trip across the country with this 333-page book documenting her personal life, her radio career, her screen career and more than any other aspect of her career... what she devoted to troops overseas. 

"Frances cared a lot about her war work," Ohmart explains, "and more than anything, I wanted this book to showcase her amazing patriotism." Chapter three focuses on her tour with Bob Hope for the U.S.O. 

I could go on paragraph after paragraph of what this book contains but if you are seeking a biography that covers all aspects of her life and career, this is the book. The most impressive aspect is the fact that this book features hundreds of never-before-seen photographs from Langford's personal collection and are a rare treat. Most biographies have a handful of rare photographs, sometimes as a centerpiece in the middle of a book. Ben Ohmart gave us not just a slice of the pie, but multiple pies of various flavors. The photos alone are worth the price of this book.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

TWILIGHT ZONE: Limited Edition Variant Cover

I am pleased to announce my TWILIGHT ZONE book just received the gold standard of publishing. A limited number of 100 copies were printed in hardcover format with a variant cover. What is a variant cover, you might ask?

In comic books, a variant cover (sometimes referred to as a variant edition) refers to an issue of a comic book printed with multiple covers, each with unique cover art. The first comic book marketed with a variant cover was the 1986 first issue of The Man of Steel, which featured two different covers by writer/artist John Byrne. Fans of Superman who were serious collectors found themselves buying not one issue, but two. Since then, publishing companies look for creative ways to build hype and establish investments by offering limited edition variant covers.

Due to shortages caused by production errors, some variant covers came to be known as "chase covers," as many scrambled to find them. Publishers create chase covers by issuing variants in ratios designed to establish rarity. As an example, attendees at the San Diego Comic Con can purchase an exclusive variant cover, with the convention logo printed on the front cover, and available only at the event. While fans could visit their local comic book store to purchase Spider-Man issue #800 for $4, for example, the San Diego Comic Con variant cover is rare enough to warrant a $40 price tag.

The practice of issuing variant covers spread to some magazines, notably TV Guide, which quickly discovered that collectors who kept one of every issue would buy multiple issues if there were different covers. As an example, in 1996, TV Guide printed four different covers each with a different starship captain in recognition of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. Inside, the contents were the same. But for that one week, fans flocked to the stores to buy all four issues which now sell for an average of $35 for the set.

While my TWILIGHT ZONE book is not a comic book or a magazine, variant covers are not common for reference books. Yet, it seemed a natural choice for a variant cover. Below is a photo of my wife holding one of them. So if you never got a copy of my TWILIGHT ZONE book yet and want a limited edition variant hardcover instead of the standard paperback, grab your copy now at www.MartinGrams.biz before they set out. Only 100 copies were printed and as of today more than 20 are sold... make that 21. I am keeping one for myself.