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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Great Story on Jack and Carole Bender, and Pauls Valley Restaurant Gets Into the Spirit of Comics

The Benders, creators of the nationally-syndicated "Alley Oop," will be introducing a new character in the strip this May - a character based on a Pauls Valley restauranteur! Read the story of how it came about here.

Related to the above, Michael Vance recently made a suggestion to Pauls Valley residents:

Why not talk your locally owned restaurants and fast food places into naming their sanwiches, etc. after Oklahoma-created/drawn/written comics characters! The Moo Burger. The Broom Hilda Salad. The Smilin' Jack sub! The Dick Tracy submachine sandwich....well, you get the idea.

Indeed they did! The latest word on this from Vance:

Several days ago, I sent you a news story about the Bender's using a restaurant owner as a character in Alley Oop. I attached an idea: how about Paul's Valley restaurants naming their items after our comics characters?

Well, one restaurant already wants to do so. They like my "Dick Tracy submachine sandwich" and now want a name for their spud.

The restaurant is:
Lil Ben’s Italian & American Cuisine
1911 W. Grant Avenue, Pauls Valley

So put on your thinking cap and give me a name or two for this spud using one of your characters!

This could really be fun!

Michael Vance

So, come on readers of Four Color Commentary, you can be a part of this, as well!

Dan Piraro News

A few days ago, OCC member Dan Piraro, creator of the "Bizarro" strip wrote:

My new book is starting to appear in stores nationwide and I'm really proud of it. It's a retrospective of my whole career, with cartoons, fine art, sketchbook stuff, a big autobiographical essay, lots of back stories and extra junk. I'm thrilled to say it's getting rave reviews.

Here's a page from my website about it. Click "Book A."

Congrats, Dan!

Queen & Country: Declassified, published by Oni Press, 96 pages, $8.95.

Paul Crocker is a field agent for British Intelligence, on a mission to help a KGB agent get out of Prague, so he can work as a double agent. The job's been getting to him, however, as he has suffered what his boss labels a "rotten run of luck" as of late. Not to mention what it's doing to his marriage. That's all I'll say about the story, but I will add that if you're a fan of the t.v. show "Alias", or the Movie "Ronin", this book should be on your reading list.

Writer Greg Rucka leads the reader on an interesting and enjoyable international adventure with a wonderful cloak-and-dagger flavor. The story itself is not omplicated, or even particularly complex; it's a fairly straightforward spy tale. It's Rucka's characterization that steals the show. He does a great job giving his characters depth, and making their motivations clear. The dialogue is believable, and it's easy for the reader to empathize with the main character, Crocker, as he seeks to balance his sense of duty with his love for his wife.

Brian Hurtt is the artist on the book. I don't believe I had ever seen any of his work before, but I'll be watching for it from now on. Hurtt is not a strict student of realism, but there is such an element in his work. He balances it well, however, with a hint of "cartoony" expression, in the wider-than-normal chins, hicker-than-normal limbs, and the like. His men are beefy, and, judging from the single female character in the story, his women are attractive, but none of it in exaggerated fashion. A solid style that looks like nothing else I've seen.

Queen & Country: Declassified is not recommended for kids due to some profanity, but adult readers/fans of spy and espionage stories will enjoy it. Find it at your local comics shop, online auctions and retailers, or at

Mark Allen