Monday, March 28, 2011

From the Past...The Phantom Shadow

Five or six years ago artist Brent Schoonover and I created The Phantom Shadow, an online comic strip starring a pulp-style crime-fighter operating in Saint Paul and Minneapolis during the gangster-plagued days and nights of the 1930s.

It was lots of fun, then Brent and I became too swamped with work to continue. Kind of sad. I miss this guy, and I loved collaborating with Brent.

Perhaps the Twin Cities Avenger will return someday...?

The Phantom Shadow © Brent Schoonover and Martin Powell.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Great Houdini

Today is the 137th birthday of one of my real-life boyhood heroes -- the one, the only, the Great Houdini!

The Tony Curtis film Houdini literally changed my life as a kid. By the time the end credits rolled I was hooked on magic for life. Not long after I first saw it, my dad gave me a paperback biography of the famous escape artist/magician. Soon I was studying magic very seriously before I was even ten years old. There's still not a knot that can hold me.

One time my mother locked herself out of our house. After I got home from school, I approached the door lock with a few of the tricks and techniques I'd been reading and practicing, and in a few minutes I managed to pick my first lock with a bent piece of old wire from our garage. Mom was completely astonished and told all our relatives, calling me "Houdini" for weeks. I was very happy that she was so proud of me. (My mom had the good sense not to describe our adventure to the neighbors. I doubt many of them would have been very pleased that the fifth grader living on their street could pick the locks of their homes.)

I still practice magic now and again especially for kids, turning their wooden pencils into rubber and making pennies vanish and then appear again behind their ears. In fact, magic helps in my creative writing too, as sleight of hand and mystery fiction are all about misdirection.

So, Happy Birthday Harry, and thanks for inspiring me to make the great escape from the mundane to the magical.

A Tonic for the Homesick

The story you're about to read is the first comic book story I ever wrote, twenty-five years ago.

Artist Seppo Makinen and I became acquainted through an APA (Amateur Press Association) back in the mid-1980s. I loved his classic style and we became fast friends. Seppo illustrated a number of my scripts in those days, but this was indeed the first, adapted from an unsold short story I'd written a year or so earlier.

I think you'll agree that the artist did a lovely job here. He also hand-lettered the story and although English is not Seppo's first language, he may well have accurately transcribed my hastily typed script. So any lingering typos and punctuation errors should really reflect back upon me.

Before receiving these scans, it had been at least twenty years since I last saw this little sci-fi morality tale. "A Tonic for the Homesick" has never been published, mainly because Seppo and I became very busy with Scarlet in Gaslight shortly afterward, and I never sought a home for the story. The writing is a bit rough. I see lots of things I would change if I were to revise this story today. But I will never do that. It is what it is.

I have an affection for our strange little Christmas story. And in the spirit of that season, for the very first time Seppo and I offer "A Tonic for the Homesick" as the sentimental gift we always meant it to be.

A Tonic for the Homesick © Martin Powell. Artwork © Seppo Makinen.
(Click on the pictures for larger, more readable images.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

Very sad news. Elizabeth Taylor, one of the last true legends of the cinema, has passed away at age 79.

She was my late mother's favorite movie star and she followed Elizabeth's life and romantic adventures with great interest and affection. Mom always snatched up a movie magazine from the newsstands if the violet-eyed beauty was on the cover, and she often wistfully reminisced about the one glorious time she met the actress in person and obtained her autograph.

She was, in the words of my mom, "The most beautiful woman in the world. And she was so sweet to me."

Ironically, they both passed away from heart-failure.

Rest in Peace, have a very great and loving fan waiting to meet you again on the other side.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Win an authethic SPIDER Ring!

Enter our first annual
SPIDER Contest! Win an official SPIDER insignia ring!

Okay, for all of you following my new SPIDER comic book series (first issue on sale today!), here is the challenge: Guess the body count! That's right. Whichever reader comes the closest to numbering the SPIDER's fallen prey--after issue # 6, concluding the first year's storyline--will win this cool SPIDER insignia ring, polished up and packaged by Nita Van Sloan herself!

So buy THE SPIDER # 1 and start paying attention to those falling, bleeding bad guys!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

THE SPIDER # 1 in Shops on March 16

Remember, pulp fans -- THE SPIDER # 1 invades your comic shops tomorrow!

"Death Siege of the Frankenstein Legion" is illustrated by Pablo Marcos, colored by Jay Piscopo, cover by Dan Brereton
(alternate cover by Doug Pagacz), and written by me. Published by Moonstone.

Special thanks to the amazing Mark Wheatley for designing our awesome new SPIDER logo!

Are you still wondering if THE SPIDER # 1 is for you? These two reviews may help you decide.

So, visit your local comic book shop and ask for your copy tomorrow.

The SPIDER thanks you!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts and Hopes for Japan

Tsuburaya Productions (the makers of Ultraman): "Everyone in Japan, please do not lose your kindness. When you are uneasy, others around you become so, too. Care for those less fortunate, help each other, and please forgive those who feel that all is lost. This is our wish. Our hearts go out to you and we hope for the best." — The Ultra Heroes & Staff

There's a bit of Ultraman's heroism in all of us. Please do your part.
Japan will prevail.


Friday, March 11, 2011


Hmm. I see there's a new
Red Riding Hood movie coming out. If you're a fan of the story, you might want to check out my re-telling of the classic Fairy Tale. It's one of my favorites of the children's books I've written, available through Amazon or at your local library.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

THE SPIDER # 1 On Sale Now!

# 1
, illustrated by Pablo Marcos, Colors by Jay Piscopo, Cover by Dan Brereton, and written by me. Moonstone has the comic book available and in stock NOW!

The alternate edition cover by
Doug Pagacz is also available NOW!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Happy 80th Anniversary to THE SHADOW

Eight decades ago today, on March 6, 1931, Walter Gibson's original Master of Darkness made his debut on newsstands across America and changed the content of pulp magazines, radio drama, and comic books forever.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The stranger must have been all of seven feet tall, or even more. As the deputy staggered to his feet, the top of his head barely reached the giant’s ponderous chest.

“Th-thank you. Don’t think nothin’s broken,” he gasped, “but I must be in shock or somethin’. I thought I just saw a…a dinosaur kill my best friend.”

An abrupt flash of lightning illuminated the stranger, revealing his weird garment of midnight black patterned with gleaming, white-painted bones.

“You saw it because that’s what happened,” the skull-mask nodded. “Sometimes seeing is believing.”

And Deputy Charles fainted dead away.

The Halloween Legion © Martin Powell. Artwork © Danny Kelly

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Read Across America on Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss, who first made me fall head over heels, passionately in love, with books.

"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."

If all the Dr. Seuss books are already checked out of your local library, I humbly suggest giving my own 2010 Moonbeam Gold Award Winner a try.