By Lee Hester, owner of Lee's Comics of California.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Jonathan winters left us today. He was a great trendsetter in stand up comedy.  Can you think of another performing artist who had album covers by BOTH Frank Frazetta and Jack Davis? I can't. It could be that Winters was the only one with that honor. As great as an artist as Frank Frazetta was, and I think he was one the best artists who ever lived, I think Jack Davis captured his essence the best.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


Today we sadly bid farewell to Annette Funicello, a lovely, talented lady, and the cover girl on many classic comic books.

Monday, April 08, 2013


Get ready for the greatest comic book bacchanal of the year! Free Comic Book Day! It's less than a month away! That's right, you can step into participating comic book stores, coast to coast, and get yourself some free comic books. No purchase necessary! It's like a giant slice of heaven, right here on earth! I'll be back soon to fill you in on all the details about the special events were doing at Lee's Comics, along with an extra special free drawing that we are launching this year. I'll also have a complete visual checklist of all the free comics that are coming out. In the meantime, block the date off, and cancel wedding and travel plans.

Free Comic Book Day at Lee's Comics
Both Great Locations: Mountain View and San Mateo
Saturday May 4th
10:00 am to 9:00 pm
Free Drawing at 11:00 am at both stores.
Great Prizes to be announced soon!


Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert

On the same day we lost the great Carmine Infantino, we lost my favorite movie reviewer Roger Ebert.

I followed him through all of his TV incarnations, including, Sneak Previews on PBS with Gene Siskel, and At the Movies with Richard Roper. I discovered his books, and collections of film reviews and discovered that as good as he was on TV, he was amazing as a writer. He is my favorite kind of writer. He conveys interesting, complex ideas in a friendly, down to earth manner. As a film reviewer, he often championed independent and overlooked films.

In 2002 he developed a cancer that made it impossible for him to speak or eat solid food. Rather than retiring, he devoted himself even further to writing. I found the essays on his website to be some of the most interesting and thought provoking writing around. He was a champion of the common man and he fought always for equality and social justice. He has left us now, but he has left behind a wealth of wonderful reading. If you have not checked out his website, make sure to do so. A veritable treasure trove awaits you, or check out his autobiography, "Life Itself."


By now you've probably heard about the passing of Carmine Infantino on April 4th. He was a fantastic artist and a great innovator. His updated version of the Flash kicked off the Silver Age with the publication of Showcase #4 in 1956.

I got to meet Carmine at a San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. J. David Spurlock was nice enough to introduce me to him. I sat down and had a nice conversation with him. I don't remember exactly what we talked about that day, but I do remember that he was extremely gracious and kind to me. 

Sad to see the passing of such a great talent. Certainly one of the greatest artists in the history of comics. Hats off to one of the great innovators who changed the look of comics.

Sunday, April 07, 2013


Click on any picture on the blog to make it bigger!
Here's a long vacation report. Fear not. It has a couple of fannish cameos to reward the patient comics-centric reader.

I just got back from a great family vacation to New York. We went to celebrate our girls Hannah and Sophie’s seventeenth birthday. Connie loves to travel, and she was studying the details this trip like a general surveying enemy terrain. She secured highly sought after tickets, and made detailed plans. I got to go along for the ride. Connie and I visited New York in 2005 when she was running the marathon there, and we had a great time.  It was quite a whirlwind tour of the big apple! I’m providing pictures and links of some of the more memorable places we visited. If you are planning a trip to New York, this might give you some nice hints.

We got off on a bumpy start. Our American Airlines flight was delayed from 3:00 pm to 7:30 pm, so we were stuck at SFO all day. One nice thing was that they had a terrific display of vintage board games there.

We wound up getting to JFK at 5 am. We took a ride from a man in a jacket who took us in an unmarked van to our seedy hotel. Luckily we didn’t get robbed, and we were able to get a few hours or sleep before the Noon checkout time.

The next day, we took a proper shuttle into Manhattan. We stayed in an apartment on 46th street, also known as restaurant row. It was just 2 blocks from the theatre district. Nearby there were plays staring Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, and Scarlet Johansen. We were staying on the 3rd floor, so it was a bit of a struggle getting all the bags up the stairs as there was no elevator.

We went to Times Square to look around, and had our first New York hotdog. It was on a toasted bun, and curving upward at each end like a smile. It tasted like heaven.

For the first night in Manhattan we celebrated the girl’s birthday with a dinner at Joe Allen Restaurant, right next to our apartment. After that, it was off to the top Broadway show, Book of Mormon. It was fantastic! We loved it. It has lots of great songs, lots of funny moments, and a compelling story-line. I’ve seen a few Broadway shows, and I’ve never seen a better one than this.

We took a NBC Studio Tour. The tour included a visit to the set of Dr. Oz, a program I’ve never seen. It sounded like Oz is a remarkable guy who still performs operations when he’s not on TV. We also got to visit the set of Saturday Night Live. The show is so popular that they have a drawing for the tickets. It’s probably easier to win the lottery than to get tickets. It was fun to be on the set. That’s probably as close as we are going to come to seeing the show.

While we were at NBC, we went up to the "Top of The Rock". This gets you a great view of New York City. Last time I visited the top of the Empire State Building, and I must say that Top of the Rock is a superior experience. There is less waiting and crowds and you get a much better, less obstructed view of the city. It's fun and well worth the expense. 

That night we went to see Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Connie managed to score tickets. That’s one of the only shows that allow people under the age of 18 to attend. While we were waiting in line, an NBC page came along and plucked the girls out of the line. Country singer Blake Shelton was one of the guests, and for his segment, they brought the young girls and boys out on the stage, so Hannah and Sophie were on TV. That was a thrill. Fallon seems like a really nice guy who loves his audience. A couple of days later the world learned that he would replace Jay Leno to be the new host of the Tonight Show. We took a picture of the TV screen. You can see Hannah right by Blake's nose. Sophie is next to hear, hidden behind a cowboy hat.

We hired a lady from Real New York Tours to show us around. It was a 6 hour walking tour, and she took us all around town, including Ground Zero, Chinatown, Washington Square, Wall Street and Central Park. Our guide had an intimate knowledge of New York, and this really helped us get a full feel and appreciation of the city. We bought unlimited subway passes, and the tour got us started on using the subway, which is really the key to Manhattan. We saw lots of places that we hoped to return to during our trip.

After being on our feet all day, but hearing all the fun right outside our window, we went across the street to “Don’t tell Mamma.” Where waiters and bar tenders sing at the piano bar. It was a lot of fun with great singing, Broadway tunes, comedy, and bawdy parodies.

Before we took the subway, we did a quick visit to Midtown Comics, which was just a few blocks from our apartment. It is a 2 story store, and has a great stock, including vintage back issues. I was very impressed, especially at the long line of customers! Midtown Comics has several locations in New York, and they do a great job.

We spent a the rest of the afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a huge building, and covers every possible type of art exhaustively. It’s has got to be one of the finest Museums in the world. I really loved it, and would have enjoyed spending much more time there. I barely scratched the surface. One of the most impressive things I saw was Washington Crossing the Delaware. I didn’t realize how huge it was. It fills up a whole wall, and is in a massive frame. I took pictures of some of my favorites there.

That evening we went to a comedy show.  There were lots of F bombs, but the kids loved it.

We were around for Easter Sunday, so we could not resist seeing the Easter Parade on 5th avenue. It did not disappoint.

Connie was working feverishly to score tickets to her favorite shows, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show. At the last moment she scored a pair for the Colbert Report on Monday.  Sigourney Weaver was the guest. Before the show, Steven came out and answered questions from the audience.  Steven is very talented, and has a rapier wit, so it was a great deal of fun. Someone asked him if he could juggle, and brought some balls. He started off a little shaky, but was soon juggling with great style. Someone else asked him if he would sing the song “Friday” by Rebecca Black. He sang it in fine voice and made it sound good, as the audience clapped with delight.


Here is a screen shot from our TV at home. Colbert is pointing directly at Connie, in the white shirt. I am to her right.
Sigourney Weaver is the seated at the table and you see the back of her head.

On Tuesday, Connie had just 1 ticket for the Daily Show. She showed up early and as luck would have it, she found someone in line that had an extra ticket, so I was able to join her. John Stewart answered questions from the audience as well. Like Colbert, he is extremely witty off the cuff and without script. Someone asked him if he prefers Captain America or Iron Man. Without hesitation he launched into hilarious rant on the subject. "Don't even get me started. Captain America is a real hero. He has the Super Soldier serum. If Iron Man has the wrong suitcase without the suit, or if his battery runs low he's nothing."

After the show was over, he answered a few more questions, including one from Connie. She asked how he found the time to read a book a day. He explained that reading a book was like his apple a day. He joked that he read them fast, and only remembered fragments, like a guy on a psychic show. So when he interviews people it’s like: “I’m seeing a daughter. Do you have a Daughter? No, a son! Yes a son!”

The best way to score tickets to the Daily Show or the Colbert Report is to sign up for something called spiffomatic64 on twitter. They put tickets up for the shows on a random basis, but you have to be really fast. They usually only put a few up at the time, and they go right away. You’ve got to be checking constantly night and day.  It was Connie’s constant obsession for weeks. She just missed out so many times I was worried that she would ultimately be disappointed. She has good karma though and her belief never faltered. She scored in the end, just like she had planned. The tickets are free, but they are really hard to get. We were very lucky to be able to attend both shows during our brief visit.

We wanted to go out with a bang on our last night in town, so we booked a table at “Swing 46”, also right across the street from where we were staying. The have incredible entertainment there. We saw their most popular band, the George Fee Swing Orchestra, a great swing band with 2 fine vocalists, a man and a woman. In addition, they just started a floorshow. The show featured the best swing dancers we’ve ever seen. They were cutting the rug and tossing the ladies in the air. In addition to the floorshow, there were lots of other amazing dancers who were there just to have fun.  People were dressed in their finest and looking sharp. They also gave a free ballroom dance lesson. Everyone was really friendly, and the food was great. Everything was perfect. It was a setting that I had only previously seen in movies, come to life in perfection.

Seated right in front of us, but the stage was a delightful old lady who everyone was going up to. You could tell that she was a very special lady. It turns out that she was Dawn Hampton of the famous Hampton family of singers and dancers. They were featured in a PBS documentary. 

Our evening at "Swing46" was a big highlight of our trip. Make sure to reserve and evening there if you visit Manhattan. Make sure to book a table by the band in the back room. It costs extra, but it’s worth every penny.

This has to go down in the books as one of the most enjoyable, fun-packed trips that I’ve ever been on. I’m glad to be back in California where on most days you can walk around in your shirtsleeves. In New York it was mostly cold. Also, there is plenty of room here. You can walk the streets without people pushing and shoving. You don’t hear cars honking all through the night.

One thing about New York, you’ve got to hustle to make it there. If you are really good, you can make a fortune there. I hope that I have brought home just a bit of that New York hustle that I can apply to my little enterprise. I'll have to work hard to pay off my credit card, that's for sure. New York is an expensive city to visit, but it's A Number One!

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Imagine a World with no comic books. Not worth living.

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