Friday, September 26, 2008


Collecting comic books is a lot like collecting baseball cards: the pricier your items, the heftier your investment, and the more sought-after your collection. Serious comic collectors -again akin to those in the card genre- spend time and mountains of cash at auctions and on-line distributors attempting (hopefully fruitfully) to out-bid the competition and walk away proud owner of a hard-to-find and costly piece of history. When I collected I didn't have even remotely close to the resources necessary to nab those gems I so desired. However, I did have a few that fit onto the hundreds of dollars range. None, however, compared to these fifteen greats selling for mints a piece. Check out what you or I will likely never have.

15) X-MEN #1 - Est. $ 100.000 +

The team's name is a reference to the "X factor", an unknown gene that causes mutant evolution. Co-creator Stan Lee recalled in his book Son of Origins of Marvel Comics that he devised the series' title after Marvel publisher Martin Goodman turned down the initial name which originally referred to "Xtra Powers", "The Mutants." In addition to this "official" explanation, the X-Men are widely regarded, within the Marvel Universe (as well as by the readers of the series), to have been named after Xavier himself. In Uncanny X-Men #309, Xavier claims that the name "X-Men" was never sought out to be a self-tribute. This has been altered since Uncanny X-Men #1, in which Xavier stated he called the team X-Men "for ex-tra power!"
Features the first appearance and origin of the X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel and Iceman) plus the introduction of Professor X and Magneto. Definitely one of the best and most sought after comic books of all time, and available right now for a whole lot of money!! If you want the absolute best of the best, look no further and save up those ducats.

14) AVENGERS #1 - Est. $ 115,000 +

Loki is angered by his imprisonment to the Isle of Silence and seeks revenge on the being responsible, his brother (half) Thor. He uses his mental abilities to trick the incredible Hulk into destroying a train trestle with the illusion that dynamite has been placed on the tracks. As a train approaches Hulk realizes that with the track down the train will surely crash, so standing on a massive boulder he holds the track on his shoulders allowing the train to pass over the crevasse. The conductor sees no dynamite and only notices the mangled track and Hulk standing below it, his conclusion is that Hulk is rampaging again, and attempting to destroy the train. As the manhunt for Hulk begins, Loki uses his powers to prevent the Fantastic Four from hearing the call to assist in locating the Hulk and instead tries to force the signal to reach only Dr. Don Blake (The human persona of Thor.) While initially the signal does not reach the Fantastic Four, it does reach Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man (and Wasp.) Reed Richard of the Fantastic Four eventually receives the signal on another band but is unable to assist. Marvel's first super-hero group. Many of the early issues were reprinted in "Marvel Triple Action".

Known for their rallying cry "Avengers Assemble!" and the nickname of "Earth’s Mightiest Heroes", the team originally featured Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk, all of whom were established superheroes. A rotating roster has been their hallmark, and the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, Vision, Black Widow, and the team’s leader, Captain America have had long histories with the Avengers.

In Marvel's 'Ultimate' line of comics, the team was known as the "Ultimates".

13) ALL AMERICAN COMICS #16 - Est. $ 165.000 +

All-American Comics was the flagship title of comic book publisher All-American Publications. It ran for 102 issues from April 1939 to October 1948, at which time it was renamed All-American Western. In 1952, the title was changed again to All-American Men of War, which lasted until the series was cancelled in 1966.

All-American Comics was purchased by National Periodicals (DC Comics) in 1946. Characters created for All-American, including Green Lantern, the Atom, Red Tornado, Doctor Mid-Nite, and Sargon the Sorcerer, became mainstays of the DC comics line. All-American Comics #16 (DC, 1940) CGC Apparent VF+ 8.5 Moderate (P) Cream to off-white pages. Green Lantern's origin and first appearance is one of the five most valuable comic book issues, and what put it there is not just the significance but also the scarcity -- it's simply tougher to find than the likes of Flash Comics #1 or All-Star #8. Overstreet calls the issue "rare," while Gerber gives it a 7, meaning "scarce." The Green Lantern story is by Martin Nodell, credited as "Mart Dellon," who created the character and got some help on this issue's script from Bill Finger of Batman fame. The issue's cover is by Sheldon Moldoff. Incidentally, the comic is far from an all-superhero affair -- the backup features include Mutt and Jeff as well as Sheldon Mayer's comic artist character Scribbly.

12) AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 - Est. $ 175,000 +

Amazing Spider-Man is the original Spider-Man title, launched in 1963 under Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and it's still going strong. From January 1999 to December 2003 it was renumbered Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2). Obviously, there's been a few creative changes since Stan and Steve's day. Currently, this title is published three times per month and has four different teams of writers and artists working on alternating story arcs. It is the core title set in the mainstream Marvel Universe, and an absolute must for even the casual Spidey fan. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel, 1963) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white pages. This is simply a superb copy of the very first edition of Spider-Man in his own title. Next to Amazing Fantasy #15, this is the second-most-demanded Silver Age comic. This is the first Fantastic Four crossover into another title, as Spider-Man tries to join their group. The cover is by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, but interior art is all by Spider-Man's co-creator, Steve Ditko. According to the CGC census as of this writing, there is one copy in 9.8, and this copy is tied with one other for the second-highest grade. You've seen the movie; here's your chance to own one of the finest comics on the planet!

11) MARVEL COMICS #1 - Est. $ 205,000 +

Timely's first publication was Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), containing the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero, the Human Torch, and the first generally available appearance of Bill Everett's anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, among other features. The contents of that sales blockbuster were supplied by an outside packager, Funnies, Inc., but by the following year Timely had a staff in place. With the second issue the series title changed to Marvel Mystery Comics.
This is called the 'pay' copy because it's the one used by the Lloyd Jacquet studio (aka Funnies Inc.), which produced the comic in its entirety for Timely, to record how much each contributor was paid, on which date and with which check number. For instance, the notation on the cover tells us that cover artist Frank R. Paul received $25 to draw this now-legendary cover. The existence of this pay copy didn't become known until Jacquet's death, and the inside look that it gives the owner at the very genesis of the Timely/Marvel line is what makes this one of the most desirable single copies of any comic book. Also noted on the interior pages are payments to Bill Everett (for the Sub-Mariner story), Carl Burgos (for the Human Torch story), Ben Thompson (Ka-Zar) , Paul Gustavson (the Angel) , and others, all dating from late July 1939. Yes, this comic is the first newsstand appearance of all four of those classic characters, and it's also the first comic book by Timely (later known as Marvel). As such, this is the beginning of the Marvel Universe and the entire pop culture phenomenon that that entails.

10) MORE FUN #52 - Est. $ 207,000 +

More Fun Comics #52 Larson pedigree (DC, 1940) CGC NM- 9.2 Off-white to white pages. This comic is so sought-after that any unrestored copy in even decent condition brings a hefty sum at auction, and the few such specimens we had seen to date are all easily topped by this pedigreed NM- jaw-dropper. Not only is it tied for the highest grade CGC has assigned to date, it's one of only five unrestored copies graded above FR 1.0! No wonder Gerber's Photo-Journal gave this issue a scarcity rating of "8," or "rare." What earned the book a spot among the ten most valuable comics in Overstreet's ranking is the origin and first appearance of the Spectre, which brought a whole new direction to the anthology title that was DC's first comic book series. The Spectre was an ideal complement to other stars of the DC line - as Overstreet put it, "This frightening ethereal hero... gave DC an exciting alternative to their swelling ranks of wondermen." The Spectre tale was written by the co-creator of one of those wondermen, Jerry Siegel, and drawn by Bernard Baily. The eerie, ultra-powerful Spectre, in addition to starring in this series, was so popular that he was made a charter member of the Justice Society in All-Star Comics. He went on to have his own title in the 1960s, a memorable run in Adventure Comics in the 1970s, and his own series in the 1980s and once more in the 1990s! This debut appearance was the only time that the Spectre wore a bluish-gray cape - it was changed to the familiar green shortly thereafter. This copy is from the collection of a comic-loving Nebraska youngster named Lamont Larson. The hoard he assembled way back when has gained no small amount of recognition thanks to having many major key books in high grade.

9) AMAZING FANTASY #15 - Est. $ 230,00 +

"And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power there must also come--great responsibility!". Probably the most quoted paragraph in the anals of comicdom, the second to last caption of this famous issue perfectly sums up the plight and formation of this brand new hero.
Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel, 1962) CGC NM 9.4 Off-white pages. "And so a legend is born, and a new name is added to the roster of those who make the world of fantasy the most exciting realm of all!" -- Stan Lee Stan's hyperbole strays little from the truth as Spider-Man debuts and reveals his origin in this Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko/Stan Lee classic. Because of the continued popularity of Spider-Man, and the difficulty of finding this comic in the highest grades, Amazing Fantasy #15 has become the preeminent Silver Age comic. This is an outstanding copy, which has the sharp corners and the "look" you would expect of a 9.4. According to the CGC census as of this writing, there are five copies grading 9.4 and one grading 9.6. It sounds like there's not nearly enough high-grade copies to go around, so don't be a timid teen like Parker. But toss a web around it like Spidey. Get it? Good Lord...

8) SUPERMAN #1 - Est. $ 250.000 +

This is it, the comic book Holy Grail, the one that introduced the world to Superman. The cover bears the famous - if somewhat crude - drawing of Superman smashing a car against a rock. Written and drawn by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic introduced Superman as "Champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!" The last survivor of the doomed planet Krypton (duh), Superman could "leap 1/8th of a mile; hurdle a 20-story building … raise tremendous weights … run faster than an express train … and nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin!" Superman was so popular, he became the first character to get his very own comic book. Superman #1 hit newsstands in the summer of 1939. The Man of Steel has held up pretty well, despite Brandon Routh.

7) ACTION COMICS #1 - Est. $ 250,000 +

Action Comics #1 (DC, 1938) CGC Apparent VF+ 8.5 Moderate (P) Off-white to white pages. No comic bestows more bragging rights upon its owner than a copy of the most important issue ever published, the first appearance of Superman. By general consensus, it's the comic that started the Golden Age, and Joe Shuster's cover remains the best-known in comic history.
Action Comics #1 (DC, 1938) CGC VG+ 4.5 Off-white to white pages. Featuring the introduction of Superman, this book single-handedly raised the comic industry from a second-rate medium of strip reprints to a legitimate business whose sales would eventually surpass even the best selling magazines. Action #1 is the holy grail of comic books, lusted after by virtually anyone who considers themselves a collector.

6) CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 - Est. $ 260,000 +

The character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941), from Marvel Comics' 1940s predecessor, Timely Comics[1], and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Over the years, an estimated 210 million copies of "Captain America" comic books have been sold in a total of 75 countries.[2] Within the comics, the title "Captain America" applies to whomever is chosen by the U.S. government (which views itself as "owning" the persona) to wear the costume and bear the shield. For nearly all of the character's publication history, however, Captain America was the alter ego of Steve Rogers, a sickly young man who was enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum in order to aid the United States war effort. Captain America Comics #1 Kansas City pedigree (Timely, 1941) CGC VF/NM 9.0 Cream to off-white pages. Heritage Comics is proud to offer one of the finest copies of Captain America Comics #1 in existence. The ultimate defender of freedom makes his first appearance in this ultra key Timely by landing a right hook on Hitler's jaw. It takes a villain to make the hero, and Cap had the ultimate WWII villains. Not only did he take on Der Fuehrer, but Hitler's protege, the dastardly Red Skull, also debuts in this famous first issue. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Cap is far and away the most recognizable of the patriotic superheroes.

5) FLASH COMICS #1 - Est. $ 274,000 +

Flash Comics was an anthology comic book published by All-American Publications and later National Periodicals (DC Comics). The title ran for 104 issues between January 1940 to February 1949. Although the name of the comic book was Flash Comics, the Flash was only one of many different series featured in the magazine. Many DC Comics characters make their first appearances in Flash Comics, including the Flash, Hawkman, Hawkgirl (as Shiera Sanders), and Black Canary. The Flash was later given a solo comic book series, All Flash Quarterly (later All Flash) which ran for 31 issues between Summer 1941 to January 1948. Flash Comics #1 Mile High pedigree (DC, 1940) CGC NM+ 9.6 Off-white to white pages. One of the most important comic books of any age, Flash Comics #1 also featured the origin and first appearance of the the Whip, and Johnny Thunder. This milestone issue is currently ranked as the eighth most valuable comic book of all, its value appreciating more during 2004 than all but three of the Top 25 Golden Age Books.

4) BATMAN #1 - Est. $280,000 +

Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder. Indeed, it's hard to find any unrestored copy -- on the CGC census, purple labels outnumber blue as of this writing. The issue is #6 on Overstreet's list of the most valuable comic books for good reason, as it's got the first appearances of both the Joker and Catwoman, who are among the very few comic book villains to have attained true "household name" status. Also of note are a retelling of Batman's origin and a classic (and much-imitated) cover by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson. And of course, this is one of very few comic titles to be in continuous publication since the early 1940s, the series is now up to #670 or so!

3) DETECTIVE COMICS #27 - Est. $ 280,000 +

Less than a year aftr the origin of Superman, an artist named Bob Kane decided to create a caped superhero of his own, one much darker, more mysterious, and more "human" than the squeaky-clean Superman. His creation: Batman. Unlike the campy ’60s TV version of the character, the Batman in this first issue was a dark, vengeful crusader who stalked the night (he watches as a bad guy plunges into a vat of acid), presaging the hero’s reemergence in the 1980s in The Dark Knight Returns. Perhaps this darkness was a reflection of the dread of war looming on the horizon in 1939? The cover proclaimed, "Starting this issue: The amazing and unique adventures of THE BATMAN!" and promised "64 pages of action!"

2) FANTASTIC FOUR #1 - Est. $ 425,000 +

The Fantastic Four is a fictional superhero team appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The group debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), which helped to usher in a new naturalism in the medium. They were the first superhero team created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby.

There are four core individuals traditionally associated with the Fantastic Four, who gained superpowers after exposure to cosmic rays during a scientific mission to outer space. Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel, 1961) CGC FN+ 6.5 White pages. Collectors may argue about whether or not this comic marked the beginning of the Silver Age, but there can be no doubt that this is the comic that ushered in the Marvel Age of comics. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee brought readers a new kind of super-team in this issue, which features the origin and first appearances of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing, as well as the villainous Mole Man. Currently ranked #3 on Overstreet's list of Top 20 Silver Age Comics.


The best copy of the first appearance of Superman, the single most important American comic, wins this particular horse race. This was the easiest book on the list to position (although #2 is a virtual tie in that regard.)

A truly legendary comic, speculation about the value and (more recently) condition of this book has been a favorite topic of conversation for hard core (and even some not so hard core) collectors for more than 20 years. The current owner, (hereby referred to as “The Dentist”), famously overpaid for this book in 1985, spending an unimaginable $25,000 on it. At the time, people openly questioned his sanity. Fortune favors the bold apparently, as that $25,000 investment is now worth at least 40x as much. I say “at least” because there is a popular anecdote that “The Dentist” turned down a $2,000,000 offer* from coin dealer Jay Parrino when Parrino was exploring the comics hobby. Assuming the offer was legitimate, and with the vast sums of money Parrino spent on comics I have no reason to doubt it, it would peg the value needed to actually get the book to change hands somewhere north of 100x the purchase price.

Speculation about the book’s condition is also a popular topic in today’s condition-conscious, CGC world. The best estimate of its condition comes from Stephen Fischler from Metropolis Comics. Fischler, certainly someone in position to know, says that the book would be an Unrestored 9.2 (on CGC’s ten point scale) if it were in a CGC holder. Until we see a photo or a high resolution scan, or Steve Borock et al. get their hands on it down in Sarasota, that estimation is as good as we’re going to get.

Of course, regardless of the number attached to the book, it’s generally agreed that this is the best copy and if that’s truly the case the technical grade is practically irrelevant. It’s the best copy of the best book from the best pedigree and it’s in the best collection on the planet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Many moons ago I collected comics for a living. Yeah, you heard me: FOR A LIVING. I was in school, only had a shit-burger job, and spent nearly every paycheck at the comic store. We had a few here in Kalamazoo, namely Scott's, Hocey's, Discount Hobby, Fanfare, and Mad Cat, each and every one of which I frequented at one time or another shelling out ducats for the drug that was comic books. Anyway, I had several titles set aside for me each week, but one of my all time favorites was Spider-Man. I grabbed onto this every-man's hero from the moment I read of his young adult stories. He had tons of books ranging from Spectacular Spider-Man to Amazing Spider-Man and every adjective in between. I was enthralled and an instant follower. However, being the artist that I inherently am, I latched most closely onto the gorgeous artwork. So many different and equally as talented pencillers and inkers have had a hand in Spider-Man's tenure that I'd need a list consisting of at least fifty to cover them all. But, since I tent to lean toward ten's in my lists, I present to you the top 10 Spidey artists of all time.



A couple of years into Marvel's New Warriors run, New Warriors editor Danny Fingeroth became responsible for the Spider-Man line of titles. At the same time, Erik Larsen vacated his spot as penciler on Spider-Man’s flagship title The Amazing Spider-Man.

Fingeroth decided to take a chance on Bagley, who was a relatively inexperienced artist to be assigned what is arguably Marvel’s flagship title. After a rough start, Bagley hit his stride on The Amazing Spider-Man and eventually grew to be considered the definitive Spider-Man artist of the mid-1990s. His artwork was used extensively for licensed material, appearing on everything from plates and cups to credit cards.

Bagley also holds the distinction of being the artist on Marvel’s first web-based comic book, featuring Spider-Man, which appeared on Marvel’s official website.


Jae Lee was born in South Korea and emigrated with his family to the United States at age six. He attended art school, but left in 1990 to pursue a career at Marvel Comics.

Lee first rose to prominence in the industry for his work on Marvel's Namor the Sub-Mariner, Inhumans (for which he won an Eisner Award), The Sentry, and Spider-Man as well as his creator-owned character Hellshock at Image Comics.

Lee is currently working on the Marvel Comics' spin-off of Stephen King's The Dark Tower novels, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born, which is written by Robin Furth and Peter David.


Art Adams was born on April 5, 1963 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and dreamed of becoming a comic book illustrator from a very early age, largely teaching himself the skills he would later use. He became a fan favorite when he penciled the critically-acclaimed Longshot miniseries, written by Ann Nocenti and published in 1985 by Marvel Comics. Adams' highly distinctive and detailed artwork gained him considerable popularity and he found it easy to find further work in the field. However, due to the labor-intensive nature of his detailed art, Adams found it difficult to meet the short deadlines often found in the comics industry. This has led to him to pursue work for shorter projects such as miniseries, specials, and annuals rather than pursuing work for ongoing comic book series. Exceptions to this include a 1989 two-issue run on X-Factor, and a 1990 three-issue run on The New Fantastic Four (featuring The Hulk, Wolvering, SPider-Man and Ghost Rider). He also had a ten-issue run on Tom Strong's Terrific Tales (2002-2004), which being an anthology, required only eight pages from him for each issue. Adams has also created numerous character spread posters featuring nearly everyone in either Marvel or DC's universe.


Eric Larsen replaced Todd McFarlane on Amazing Spider-Man with issue #329, having previously penciled issues 287, 324, and 327). With writer David Michelinie and Larsen the series experienced increasing sales, with stories such as "The Cosmic Spider-Man", "The Return of the Sinister Six" (#334-339), and "The Powerless Spider-Man" (#341-343). He left the title with #350, leaving it to series mainstay Mark Bagley with #351. Larsen again succeeded McFarlane on Spider-Man, where he wrote and drew the six-issue story arc "Revenge of the Sinister Six" (#18-23).

Seeking greater control and profit over the work they created, he and six other illustrators abandoned Marvel to form Image Comics, where Larsen launched a series featuring the Savage Dragon. Though he continues to write and illustrate The Savage Dragon, Larsen has occasionally returned to Marvel to write and illustrate, on titles such as Fantastic Four, The Defenders, Wolverine, and Nova.


Byrne's first encounter with Marvel Comics was in 1962 with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #5. He later commented that "the book had an 'edge' like nothing DC was putting out at the time". Jack Kirby’s work in particular had a strong influence on Byrne and he has worked with many of the characters Kirby created or co-created. Besides Kirby, Byrne was also influenced by the naturalistic style of Neal Adams. Byrne’s first story for Marvel Comics was "Dark Asylum" (plotted by Tony Isabella and written by David Anthony Kraft), published in Giant-Size Dracula #5 (June 1975). He began drawing Marvel’s lower-selling titles, including Iron Fist, The Champions, and Marvel Team-Up. For many issues, he was paired with writer Chris Claremont, with whom he also teamed up for some issues of the black-and-white Marvel magazine Star-Lord (inked by Terry Austin, who soon after teamed up with Claremont and Byrne on X-Men). Byrne is also equally as famous for doing fantastic cover art, including many for SPider-Man.


In the late 1950s, Kane freelanced for DC Comics. There he contributed to seminal works in what fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books, when he illustrated a number of revitalized superhero titles (loosely based on 1940s characters) — most notably Green Lantern, for which he pencilled most of the first 75 issues, and also the Atom. Kane also drew the youthful superhero team The Teen Titans, and in the late 1960s tackled such short-lived titles such Hawk and Dove and the licensed-character comic Captain Action, based on the action figure. He briefly freelanced some Hulk stories in Marvel Comics' Tales to Astonish, under the pseudonym Scott Edwards.

Eschewing that pseudonym, Kane freelanced in the 1960s for Tower Comics' T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, a superhero/espionage title. Kane then found a home at Marvel, eventually becoming the regular penciller for The Amazing Spider-Man, succeeding John Romita, in the early 1970s, and becoming the company's preeminent cover artist through that decade.


After Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee obtained permission from publisher Martin Goodman to create a new "ordinary teen" superhero named "Spider-Man", Lee originally approached his leading artist, Jack Kirby. Kirby told Lee about his own 1950s character conception, variously called the Silver Spider and Spiderman, in which an orphaned boy finds a magic ring that gives him superpowers. Comics historian Greg Theakston says Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference" and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. "A day or two later", Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, and, as Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it. Not that he did it badly — it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic".

Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual motif Lee found satisfactory, although Lee would later replace Ditko's original cover with one penciled by Kirby. Ditko said,
“ "The Spider-Man pages Stan showed me were nothing like the (eventually) published character. In fact, the only drawings of Spider-Man were on the splash [i.e., page 1] and at the end [where] Kirby had the guy leaping at you with a web gun... Anyway, the first five pages took place in the home, and the kid finds a ring and turns into Spider-Man.”

Ditko also recalled that,
“ One of the first things I did was to work up a costume. A vital, visual part of the character. I had to know how he looked ... before I did any breakdowns. For example: A clinging power so he wouldn't have hard shoes or boots, a hidden wrist-shooter versus a web gun and holster, etc. ... I wasn't sure Stan would like the idea of covering the character's face but I did it because it hid an obviously boyish face. It would also add mystery to the character....”

Much earlier, in a rare contemporaneous account, Ditko described his and Lee's contributions in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965): "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal". Additionally, Ditko shared a Manhattan studio with noted fetish artist Eric Stanton, an art-school classmate who, in a 1988 interview with Theakston, recalled that although his contribution to Spider-Man was "almost nil", he and Ditko had "worked on storyboards together and I added a few ideas. But the whole thing was created by Steve on his own... I think I added the business about the webs coming out of his hands"


At Marvel, Romita returned to superhero penciling after a decade working exclusively as a romance-comic artist for DC. He felt at the time that he no longer wanted to pencil, in favor of being solely an inker:
“I had inked an Avengers job for Stan, and I told him I just wanted to ink. I felt like I was burned out as a penciler after eight years of romance work. I didn't want to pencil any more; in fact, I couldn't work at home any more — I couldn't discipline myself to do it. He said, 'Okay,' but the first chance he had he shows me this Daredevil story somebody had started and he didn't like it, and he wanted somebody else to do it". "[He] showed me Dick Ayers' splash page for a Daredevil [and] asked me, 'What would you do with this page?' I showed him on a tracing paper what I would do, and then he asked me to do a drawing of Daredevil the way I would do it. I did a big drawing of Daredevil ... just a big, tracing-paper drawing of Daredevil swinging. And Stan loved it.”

Romita began a brief stint on Daredevil beginning with issue #12, initially penciling over Jack Kirby's dynamic layouts as a means of learning Marvel's storytelling house style. It proved to be a stepping-stone for his famed, years-long pencilling run on The Amazing Spider-Man. "What Stan Lee wanted was for me to do a two-part Daredevil story [#16-17, May-June 1966] with Spider-Man as a guest star, to see how I handled the character".

Coming to The Amazing Spider-Man as successor of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, Romita initially attempted to mimic Ditko's style, but brought his own clean, soap operatic style of illustration to the book, and made the character his own.


McFarlane's first published work was a 1984 backup story in Epic Comics' Coyote. He soon began working for both Marvel and DC Comics. He illustrated several issues of Marvel's Incredible Hulk and DC's Infinity Inc. and various Batman series. In 1988, McFarlane joined writer David Michelinie on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man beginning with issue 298. McFarlane also helped create Venom, a wildly popular villain. (Director Sam Raimi came to McFarlane for the initial sketches of Venom for the Spider-Man 3 movie.)

McFarlane's work on Spider-Man turned him into an industry superstar. In 1990, after a 28-issue run of Amazing Spider-Man, McFarlane told editor Jim Salicrup he'd grown tired of drawing other peoples stories and would be leaving the book with issue 328 to write his own work. Jim offered Todd a new Spider-Man book prompting the launch of a new monthly series, simply called Spider-Man, which McFarlane both wrote and illustrated. Spider-Man #1 sold 2.5 million copies, partially due to the variant covers that were used to encourage collectors into buying more than one edition. Issue 16 saw the replacement of editor Jim Salicrup with Danny Fingeroth. McFarlane wrote and illustrated the first 14 and issue 16 of Spider-Man before leaving the book altogether due to creative clashes with the new editor. Many issues were crossovers with characters such as Wolverine, X-Force and the Ghost Rider.


In 1962, with the success of the Fantastic Four and other stars, Marvel Comics editor and head writer Stan Lee was casting about for a new superhero idea. He said that the idea for Spider-Man arose from a surge in teenage demand for comic books, and the desire to create a character with whom teens could identify. In his autobiography, Lee cites the non-superhuman pulp magazine crime fighter The Spider as an influence, and in a multitude of print and video interviews Lee stated he was further inspired by seeing a fly climb up a wall—adding in his autobiography that he has told that story so often he has become unsure of whether or not it is true.[4] Jack Kirby claimed Lee had minimal involvement in the character's creation, and that the idea for Spider-Man had originated with Kirby and Joe Simon, who in the 1950s had developed a character called The Silver Spider for the Crestwood comic Black Magic, who was subsequently not used. Simon, in his 1990 autobiography, disputes Kirby's account, asserting Black Magic was not a factor, and that he (Simon) devised the name "Spider-Man" (later changed to "The Silver Spider"), while Kirby outlined the character's story and powers. Simon later elaborated that his and Kirby's character conception became the basis for Simon's Archie Comics superhero The Fly. Artist Steve Ditko stated that Lee liked the name Hawkman from DC Comics, and that "Spider-Man" was an outgrowth of that interest. The hyphen was included in the character's name to avoid confusion with DC Comics' Superman.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


About a year ago I did a list covering the top tragedies of musicians in plane crashes and a list concerning those famous musicians who died at 27. Now, as the list of deceased musicians is ever growing with more and more different and sad ways of shuffling this mortal coil, I present you the top 10 motorcycle deaths involving musicians. Share in the desperation.

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This post is from a 1999 obituary: January 25, 1999

Dear Friends,
I'm sure many of you have already heard. We have very sad news. Jimmy Domengeaux was killed early Monday morning, January 25th, in a motorcycle accident here in southwestern Louisiana. For the past four years as guitarist with Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, he was featured in performances and recordings heard around the world. His music career stretched back some 38 years, perhaps most notably with the band "Black Dog." He also performed with Warren Storm, Cajun Heat, The Gumbo Cajun Band, Cheryl Cormier, amongst others.

Jimmy was a gifted guitarist and a happy spirit. His smile and his high voltage solos lit up the stage wherever he played and his dynamic style was an integral part of our sound. He was also a caring friend and a brother on the road. We speak not only for the band, but also the music community, and fans around the world, in sending our deepest condolences to his family in this sad time. He will be sorely missed.

Jimmy was 44 years old. He is survived by his mother and father Mr. & Mrs. Murphy Domengeaux, sisters Letty Darbone, Judy Theriot and Nancy Baham, brother Jackie Domengeaux and daughter Javen Domengeaux, age 9.


Although he only recorded one significant hit, "Sweet Mother," in 1976, which sold more than 13 million copies (and which is recognised as one of Africa's greatest songs), Mbarga played an important role in the evolution of African popular music. With his soulful vocals set to the light melodies of his acoustic guitar, Mbarga created a unique hybrid of Igbo and Congolese guitar playing and uplifting highlife rhythms. He formed his own group, Rocafil Jazz, to perform regularly at the Naza Hotel in the eastern Nigerian city of Onitsha. Prince Nico Mbarga was killed in a motorcycle accident on June 24, 1997, leaving behind "Sweet Mother" as the most popular song amongst Nigerians. Sweet Mother is sometimes called Africa's anthem and has been voted Africa's favourite song by BBC readers and listeners.


Spheeris primarily composed on the guitar and piano. His musical genre was generally in the folk music and singer-songwriter traditions, although later work explored jazz, rock music, jazz-rock fusion and new wave music.

With few exceptions, Spheeris’ guitar compositions employed the use of open tunings, also referred to as alternate tunings. Johnny Pierce (November 30, 1953 – December 12, 2005), worked with Spheeris as a recording session and touring artist from 1973 to 1980, and wrote extensive guitar tablature regarding the tunings Spheeris used throughout his career.
Spheeris died at the age of 34 in Santa Monica, California, when his motorcycle collided with a van at 2 a.m. on the morning of July 4, 1984.


Formed in the late eighties by Wales-born guitarist Haggis (a.k.a. Stephen Harris), who had been a touring bassist for The Cult and member of Zodiac Mindwarp, the Four Horsemen were based out of Hollywood, California, and featured Frank Starr on vocals.

Their first release was a self titled four track EP in 1989, which generated enough interest to get them a full album record contract with Def American.

The second album, Nobody Said it Was Easy was produced by Rick Rubin, and was by far their most popular. The album produced the title track as a single and the hit "Rockin' is Ma Business."
In November 1995, lead singer Frank Starr was hit by a drunk driver while driving his motorcycle down Sunset Strip and was left in a coma suffering from severe head injuries.


Newsboys' original core members, bassist Sean Taylor, vocalist John James, and drummer Peter Furler, formed the band in Mooloolaba, Australia in 1985 along with Furler's guitarist school mate, George Perdikis. The band's original name was The News, but once in the US they changed it to The Newsboys to avoid conflict with another US based band. The band came to the United States in late 1987 after getting signed with Refuge Communications, and released the album Read All About It in 1988. Kevin Mills joined later as a temporary bassist. Mills (1993–1995) — Left the band to join White Heart; Died in a motorbike accident on December 3, 2000.


The Amboy Dukes were an American rock music band of the late 1960s and early 1970s from Detroit, Michigan, best remembered for their hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind", and for launching the career of Ted Nugent. Nugent's old friend from his Amboy Duke days, bassist Greg Arama was killed in a motorcycle accident on September 18th, 1979, at the age of 29.


Richard George Fariña ( March 8, 1937 – April 30, 1966 ) was an American writer and folksinger. He was a figure in both the counterculture scene of the early- to mid-sixties as well as the budding folk rock scene of the same era. In Europe, Fariña met Mimi Baez, the teenage sister of Joan Baez in the spring of 1962. Hester divorced Fariña shortly thereafter, and Fariña married 17-year-old Mimi in April 1963. They moved to a tiny cabin in Carmel, California, where they composed songs on a guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. They debuted their act as "Richard & Mimi Fariña" at the Big Sur Folk Festival in 1964 and were signed to Vanguard Records. On April 30, 1966, two days after the publication of his book, Fariña attended a book-signing at a Carmel Valley Village bookstore, the Thunderbird. Later that day, while at a party to celebrate Mimi's 21st birthday, Fariña saw a guest with a motorcycle and hitched a ride up Carmel Valley Road east toward Cachagua. The bike crashed within a mile or so. According to Pynchon's preface to Been Down..., the police said the motorcycle must have been traveling at 90 miles per hour, even though "a prudent speed" would have been 30 miles per hour. He was thrown from the back of the bike and killed instantly.


Donald Eugene Ulrich, best known by the stage name Don Rich (August 15, 1941-July 17, 1974) was a country music guitarist who helped develop the Bakersfield sound in the early 1960s. Rich's guitar tone was clean and concise and, as a musician, he did not confine his listening to country music alone. Rich enjoyed jazz guitar, he was particularly devoted to the playing of jazzman Howard Roberts. Rich also had an appreciation for pop music styles like The Beatles. Rich was open to new ideas. He created the percussive licks on "The Kansas City Song" by fingering chords as Buckaroos drummer Jerry Wiggins tapped the strings with his sticks. On July 16, 1974, after finishing work at Owens' Bakersfield studio, Rich was killed in a motorcycle accident.


Raymond Berry Oakley III (April 4, 1948 – November 11, 1972), was an American bassist and one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band. With the Allman Brothers, Oakley was known for his long, melodic bass runs underneath Allman and Betts' furious guitar soloing. "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Whipping Post" from the At Fillmore East live album capture Oakley at his best. Oakley was also the band member most involved in establishing domestic unity among the band's extended family. After Duane's untimely death, Berry became the band's de facto leader onstage and was generally credited with keeping the distraught members going.

On November 11, 1972, Oakley was involved in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia with a bus, just three blocks from where Duane had his fatal accident the year before. Oakley said he was okay after the accident, declined medical treatment, and went back to Big House. Just three hours later, he was taken to the hospital and died of a skull fracture.


Howard Duane Allman (November 20, 1946 – October 29, 1971) was an American session musician and lead guitarist of the southern rock group, The Allman Brothers Band. Allman is best remembered for his brief but influential tenure in the band he helped co-found, as well as his slide guitar and improvisational skills.[citation needed]

Alongside of his work with The Allman Brothers Band, Allman was an established session musician performing with many artists ncluding: King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Boz Scaggs, and Herbie Mann. He also had a major role on the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Allman as number two on their list of the greatest guitarists of all time. In 1968, Gregg Allman went to visit Duane, on his 22nd birthday. Duane was sick in bed. Gregg brought along a bottle of Coricidin pills for his fever and the debut album by guitarist Taj Mahal as a gift. "About two hours after I left, my phone rang," Gregg states. " 'Baby brother, baby brother, get over here now!' " When Gregg got there, Duane had poured the pills out of the bottle, washed off the label and was using it as a slide to play "Statesboro Blues," an old Blind Willie McTell song that Taj Mahal covered. "Duane had never played slide before", says Gregg, "he just picked it up and started burnin'. He was a natural." The song would go on to become a part of the Allman Brothers Band's repertoire, and Duane's slide guitar became crucial to their sound. That same sound was later picked up by other slide guitarists, such as Rory Gallagher, Derek Trucks and Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident only a few months after the summer release and great initial success of At Fillmore East. While in Macon on October 29, during a band break from touring and recording, Allman was riding his motorcycle, named Melissa, toward an oncoming truck that was turning well in front of him but then stopped in mid-intersection. He lost control of his Harley while trying to swing left, possibly striking the back of the truck or its crane ball. He flew from his bike, which landed on and skidded with him, crushing internal organs; he died a few hours later, less than one month shy of his 25th birthday. In a bizarre coincidence, bassist Berry Oakley would die less than 13 months later in a similar motorcycle crash with a city bus, just three blocks away from the site of Duane Allman's fatal accident.

Monday, September 8, 2008


So about a year ago, I came up with a little list covering 10 discontinued sodas. You can see it if you click on the little link way at the top of the page on the right. It's in yellow. Well, at the time I also occasionally worked for another site, and it got posted on there, then, subsequently, to my first and only time on FARK... how many people can say that? Yeah, it was cool, and it did a ton for my fan base and traffic. Well, longer story short, since I no longer do work for anyone else but myself, I figured it was time to revisit the old Soda List, since there are just so damn may of them out there that have dwindled into soda pop limbo. So, with I believe only one copy from a previous list (I didn't do it justice before) here are 10 new sodas that have shuffled this mortal coil. Enjoy!



A root beer made exclusively for Red Owl Grocery in Hopkins, MN from the 70's. No, I can honestly say I have never had one of these, and that's too bad, since I thoroughly enjoy a good root beer. Actually, if you held me to it, I'd more often than not go for a sarsaparilla. Now that's tasty!


Originally marketed as a Pepsi product with significantly more caffeine to, supposedly, get you moving in the morning... hence the AM moniker. Anyway, I do remember drinking this at least once and it definitely had that tangy, back-of-the-throat thing that comes with those extra-caffeinated beverages. Think JOLT, but far sweeter. If that's possible.


Coca-Cola did little to promote or otherwise distinguish this disaster. In a market already offering far more choice of drinks calling themselves "Coke" than necessary, the public saw little reason to embrace a product they had firmly flipped the finger to seven years earlier as New Coke, and within about a year, Coke II was largely off the American shelves.


The Jic Jac brand produced by Jic Jac, Inc out of St Louis, Missouri is a rather obscure soft drink. The 12 ounce cone top can was produced about 1953, and a tab top can has been noted from the mid 1970's. Eleven painted label bottle variations have been reported dating from
1953 to 1977.


This is taken from the Dr. Soda Company web site (right here) 'Bubble Up Is Made With Real Cane Sugar! Bubble Up Comes In A 12oz Glass Bottle. Bubble Up....Kiss Of Lemon & Kiss Of Lime'
Now I have no Earthly idea if that's the theme song or what, but it's damn catchy!


Apparently bottled in the Nackard Bottling Company in Flagstaff, AZ, I could find out nothing more about this stuff other than that. Sorry, maybe someone out there can enlighten me. If so, comment to this page. Thanks. Move along.


In 1935, the Whistle Cola Company introduced Cleo Cola, named after the owner's favorite cigar and featured Cleopatra as a trademark. Cleo Cola advertising is classic soda pop memorabilia and is very sought after by collectors. Beautiful paper label and ACL bottles as well as some attractive tin and cardboard signs are to be found.


Whistle originated in the midwest, by Silvester Jones, very popular in the 20s. Jones introduced Vess flavors around 1927, using letters from his name as the product's name. There was a change of ownership because of bankruptcy during the depression, but Whistle continued on.


Unbelievably sweet. This crap has a ton of carbonation and a lot of artificial banana flavor. It tastes like a circus peanut slowly dying in old Lemon Lime Slice mixed with cotton candy and orange-flavored bubble gum. It's a strange amalgam of flavors: mellow soothing creaminess and fierce carbonic sizzle that literally acidically roasts your nose and throat. But I digress. It's ok.


From what I understand, this stuff has 'champagne' sensibilities and such a light and airy flavor that, being a caramel-colored beverage, it is almost too strange. Never had it, but it sounds intriguing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Last year I became something of a sizable Dr. Who fan. It didn't take much really, since it's such a well written, superbly directed, and fantastically acted Sci-Fi show that just so happens to have been around since the 60's. The current Doctor, David Tennant, is so likable and so much fun to watch that it makes the show as a whole infinitely more enjoyable. Here is a bit of history about Dr. Who:
'Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a mysterious alien time-traveller known as "the Doctor" who travels in his space and time-ship, the TARDIS, which appears from the exterior to be a blue 1950s police box. With his companions, he explores time and space, solving problems, facing monsters and righting wrongs. The programme is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world and is also a significant part of British popular culture. It has been recognised for its imaginative stories, creative low-budget special effects during its original run, and pioneering use of electronic music (originally produced by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). In Britain and elsewhere, the show has become a cult television favourite and has influenced generations of British television professionals, many of whom grew up watching the series. It has received recognition from critics and the public as one of the finest British television programmes, including the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Series in 2006.

The programme originally ran from 1963 to 1989. After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production with a backdoor pilot in the form of a 1996 television film, the programme was successfully relaunched in 2005, produced in-house by BBC Wales in Cardiff. Some development money for the new series is contributed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which is credited as a co-producer. Doctor Who has also spawned spin-offs in multiple media, including the current television programmes Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and the 1981 pilot episode K-9 and Company. The show's lead character is currently portrayed by David Tennant. In the programme's most recent series, which ran from 5 April to 5 July 2008, Catherine Tate played the Doctor's companion, reprising her role of Donna Noble from the 2006 Christmas special.[6] Another Christmas special will air in 2008, followed by four more specials in 2009; the next full series has been confirmed for airing in 2010.'

So, as those of you in the know are aware, the Doctor takes on nearly a different enemy each episode, though often ones he's tangled with in the past. In fact, it's those very adversaries that make for the best shows. Here are the top 10 in that particular category.


The Zygons first appeared in the Fourth Doctor serial Terror of the Zygons, where it was revealed that centuries ago, the Zygon homeworld was destroyed in a stellar explosion. A craft escaped and somehow made it to Earth, where it then crashed into Loch Ness. When the Doctor encountered the Zygons, they were led by a warlord named Broton. Broton wished to conquer the world to allow a refugee fleet of Zygons to colonize Earth.

The Zygons have shape-shifting abilities, allowing them to replicate the appearance of another being, but they must keep the subject alive in order to use its body print. This skill was vital in their concealment and in their scheme to seize power despite their small numbers. The Zygons were also accompanied by an armored cyborg creature called the Skarasen, the lactic fluid of which was necessary for them to feed.


The Axons land on Earth, desperately in need of fuel. They propose to exchange the miracle substance they call Axonite for some much needed energy. Axonite is a "thinking" molecule that can replicate any substance... or so they claim. As it turns out, the ship is a single organism called Axos whose purpose is to feed itself by draining all energy through the Axonite (which is just a part of itself), including the energy of every life form on Earth. The deception about the Axonite's beneficial properties was to facilitate the distribution of Axonite across the globe.


Reapers appeared in the Ninth Doctor episode "Father's Day", written by Paul Cornell. Although not named on screen, they were referred to as "Reapers" in the publicity material for the episode. The production team based their design on the Grim Reaper, with their tails shaped like scythes.

Reapers are multi-limbed, flying reptiles similar to pterosaurs, with a large wingspan, sharp teeth both in the form of a beak and a secondary mouth in their torsos, coupled with a rapacious attitude. The Reapers are apparently extradimensional, materializing and dematerializing out of the space/time vortex. They are attracted to temporal paradoxes that damage time, like bacteria swarming around a wound. They then proceed to "sterilize" the wound by consuming everyone in sight.


The Krynoids appeared in the 1976 Fourth Doctor story The Seeds of Doom by Robert Banks Stewart. They are a highly dangerous, sentient form of plant life which are renowned amongst galactic botanists. They spread via seed pods which travel in pairs and are violently hurled through space by frequent volcanic eruptions on their unnamed home planet. The pods when opened are attracted to flesh and are able to infect and mingle their DNA with that of the host, taking over their body and slowly transforming them into a Krynoid. The species can also exert a form of telepathic control over other plant life in the surrounding area, making it suddenly dangerous and deadly to animal-kind. In the later stages of development the Krynoid can also control the vocal cords of its victims and can make itself telepathically sympathetic to humans. Fully grown Krynoids are many meters high and can then release hordes of seed pairs for further colonisation.


Cybermen were originally a wholly organic species of humanoids originating on Earth's twin planet Mondas that began to implant more and more artificial parts into their bodies as a means of self-preservation. This led to the race becoming coldly logical and calculating, with emotions usually only shown when naked aggression was called for.

They were created by Dr. Kit Pedler (the unofficial scientific advisor to the programme) and Gerry Davis in 1966, first appearing in the serial, The Tenth Planet, the last to feature William Hartnell as the First Doctor. They have since been featured numerous times in their extreme attempts to survive through conquest.

A parallel universe version of the Cybermen appeared in the 2006 series' two-part story, "Rise of the Cybermen" and "The Age of Steel".


The Slitheen first appeared in the 2005 series episodes "Aliens of London" and "World War Three", and subsequently recur in later episodes of both Doctor Who and spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. They are creatures of living calcium, hatched from eggs and native to the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius. While, strictly speaking, the name "Slitheen" refers to a specific family, the term has been used by the Doctor and Rose to refer to the Raxacoricofallapatorian race in general.

The Slitheen are a ruthless criminal sect whose main motivation is profit, but they have an almost ritualised love of hunting, being trained to hunt and kill from a young age. The members of the family are convicted criminals on their planet, being subject to the death penalty.


In the episode The Poison Sky, it is revealed that the Sontaran society revolves around the Sontaran Empire, and that they have been at war with the Rutan Host for more than 50,000 years,[2] and which, at a time around 2008, they are losing. However, the war is still raging at least 20,000 years later, in the serial The Sontaran Experiment.

The Sontarans have a highly militaristic culture; every aspect of their society is geared toward warfare, and every experience is viewed in terms of its martial relevance. In The Sontaran Experiment, the Fourth Doctor comments that "Sontarans never do anything without a military reason." Aside from a ritualistic chant (shouting the phrase "SONTAR-HA!" repeatedly while slapping their right fist into their left palm) in "The Sontaran Strategem"/"The Poison Sky", they are never seen to engage in any activity that would be considered recreation, though a few offhand comments by Commander Skorr in "The Poison Sky" suggest they do consider hunting a sport.


Vashta Nerada (literally: the shadows that melt the flesh) are microscopic swarm creatures which, when present in a high enough concentration, are totally indistinguishable from shadows, and use this to their advantage in approaching and attacking prey. They are described as the "piranhas of the air", able to strip their victims to the bone in an instant in high enough densities. The Doctor says that almost every planet in the universe has some, including Earth, and claims that they can be seen as the specks of dust visible in unusually bright light. On most planets, however, Vashta Nerada exist in relatively low concentrations, and are carrion eaters (on Earth, Vashta Nerada are said to subsist largely on roadkill), with attacks on people being comparatively rare (although the Doctor does attribute the seemingly irrational fear of darkness common to many species as a perfectly rational fear of the Vashta Nerada). In the episode "Silence in the Library", an unusually high concentration of Vashta Nerada had completely overrun the 51st century "Library" (an installation covering the surface of an entire planet and apparently containing every book ever written), resulting in the apparent death of everyone inside at the time. Vashta Nerada normally live in forested areas, and reproduce by means of microscopic spores (from which they hatch) which can lay dormant in wood pulp. In the episode "Forest of the Dead", this is revealed to be the reason for their unusual prevalence in The Library, as it is made known that the books and The Library itself were constructed of wood from the Vashta Nerada's native forest feeding grounds.


A would-be universal conqueror, the Master's stated goal is to control the universe (in The Deadly Assassin his ambitions were described as becoming "the master of all matter", and in "The Sound of Drums" he acknowledges that he chose the name "the Master"), with a secondary objective of eliminating and/or hurting the Doctor. His most distinctive ability is that of hypnotising people by fixing them with an intense stare, often accompanied by the phrase, "I am the Master, and you will obey me." The original (and most common before 1996) look of the character was similar to that of the classic Svengali character; a black Nehru outfit with a beard (which the Fifth Doctor called "rubbish" in "Time Crash") and moustache. A favoured weapon of the Master is his Tissue Compression Eliminator, which reduces its targets to doll-size, usually killing them in the process -- although when the Master was brought back in the 2007 series, he was equipped with a laser screwdriver.

In his three seasons beginning with Terror of the Autons, the Master (as played by Delgado) appeared in eight out of the fifteen serials. Indeed, in his first season the Master is involved in every adventure of the Doctor's, always getting away at the last minute before he is captured in The Dæmons (1971), only to escape imprisonment in The Sea Devils (1972). He would often use disguises and brainwashing to operate in normal society, while setting up his plans; he also tried to use other alien races and powers as his means to conquest, such as the Autons and the Daemons. Delgado's portrayal of the Master was as a suave, charming and somewhat sociopathic individual, able to be polite and murderous at almost the same time.

Delgado's last on-screen appearance as the Master was in Frontier in Space, where he is working alongside the Daleks and the Ogrons to provoke a war between the Human and Draconian Empires.


Externally, Daleks resemble human-sized salt and pepper shakers around five to six feet (152 to 183 cm) tall, with a single mechanical eyestalk mounted on a rotating dome, a exterminator arm containing an energy weapon (or "death ray"), which in some episodes fired a gas and can also be fitted with a projectile weapon, and a telescoping robot manipulator arm (plunger).

The death ray possesses incredible firepower for its size. It can kill almost any mortal lifeform, level houses, and destroy entire spacecraft. Under certain circumstances, Daleks are shown equipped with additional weaponry. Daleks protecting the Emperor in "The Parting of the Ways" have an additional energy cannon in place of their manipulator arm. During the Dalek civil war, Davros created the Special Weapons Dalek, a heavily armored Dalek sporting a massive cannon capable of destroying two Daleks and vaporising a human completely. The Special Weapons Dalek is only deployed in rare situations, as (according to the novelization of Remembrance of the Daleks) it is a one-off mutation resulting from the radiation backfired by its weapon, which other Daleks regard as 'the Abomination'.

In most cases, the manipulator resembles a sink plunger, but Daleks have been shown with arms that end in a tray, a mechanical claw, or other specialised equipment like flamethrowers and cutting torches. The arms have a strong magnetic field, a powerful suction vacuum and Daleks have used their plunger-like manipulator arms (the plunger was used because of cost issues for the first series) to interface with technology, crush a man's skull, measure the intelligence of a subject, and extract the brainwaves from a man's head (fatal, although it is implied that it doesn't need to be). Dalek casings are made of a bonded polycarbide material dubbed "dalekanium" by a human in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. The Daleks also use this term for the material.

The lower half of a Dalek's shell is covered with protrusions — "Dalek bumps" — which are spheres embedded in the casing. These are described as "sense globes" or sensors in The Doctor Who Technical Manual by Mark Harris (which is of uncertain canonicity). However, in the 2005 series episode "Dalek", they are also part of a self-destruct system. The casings are vulnerable to "bastic"-headed bullets, and when breached tend to explode. Normal 21st century bullets have no effect, however, and even a rocket does only minor damage. However, during the Dalek civil war, the Special Weapons Dalek is shown to carry extremely tough armour. Whilst scarred and battle damaged, the casing can deflect incoming shots from enemy Daleks with ease. Coupled with amazing firepower, the Special Weapons Dalek can wipe out a squad of Daleks.

This is not to say that Daleks wear explosive armour, but it implies that a lot of destructive power is needed to destroy Daleks. The armour has a forcefield that evaporates most bullets and absorbs most types of energy weapons, though normally ineffective firepower can be concentrated on the eyestalk to blind the Daleks. The shields however can be penetrated by their own weaponry: notably the miniature Dalek guns wielded by human/Dalek hybrids in Evolution of the Daleks. The hybrids outnumbered the Daleks Thay and Jast, and their firepower overwhelmed the shields. In "The Stolen Earth", Daleks created from the cells of Davros appear not to have this forcefield. Bullets, stones and human hands can physically touch the armour casings but with no effect.

The Dalek's eyepiece is its most vulnerable spot, and impairing its vision often leads to a blind, panicked firing of its weapon while shouting 'My vision is impaired - I cannot see!' The later Daleks developed systems to protect their vision. Wilfred Mott attempted to disable a Dalek with a paintball gun by blinding it with paint. The Dalek simply melted the paint off, announcing "My vision is not impaired", ruining the classic parody.