Saturday, August 20, 2022

Stockton, Comics & National Radio Day


Today is National Radio Day. My professional days in radio at KJOY-AM in Stockton CA are definitely a fond part of my history.

Before the long story, though, let's talk about the awesome t-shirt I'm wearing in the photo here. It's a gift from the good folks at Visit Stockton. It debuted last week at StocktonCon. I was happy to get mine this week.

So what does the cool new tshirt have to do with this being National Radio Day? Read on for the long story!

I worked at KJOY from 1978-1988. While I was supposed to be just an advertising sales executive, I dabbled in other facets of the radio station operations. I wrote a ton of commercials, helped with some comedy bits, gave my opinions to the music director and spearheaded some station promotions. I even did traffic reports from a helicopter once!

During my years in radio, I was also a regular customer at Al's Comic Shop on Pacific Avenue in Stockton. The shop opened in the late '70s and is still going to this day. (Stop in when you visit Stockton and tell them I sent you.)

In the fall of 1985, as the 25th anniversary of the Marvel Age of Comics was approaching, I came up with a little scheme to combine my job at KJOY with my deep comics' fandom. I thought it would be cool if Marvel Comics would recognize Stockton as the "birthplace of the Fantastic Four"... and even better if it meant some good publicity for KJOY, for comics and for Stockton.

It was stated in the first issue of Fantastic Four in 1961 that the FF were from a place called Central City (later amended to "Central City, California"). Marvel characters were based in other real cities-- New York, Chicago, San Francisco... even Palos Verdes, fer cryin' out loud! Since there is no real "Central City CA" I wanted Stockton, the most central city in California, to be officially recognized as the birthplace of the FF.

So I talked with Al and Mike at Al's Comic Shop, asked them if I could post a petition in their shop. They agreed and helped to round up the hundreds of signatures we got on that petition. Once that happened, I took the signatures to a Stockton City Council meeting and asked the city to get behind the drive. After some silly mumbling questions from local politicians clearly embarrassed that I was asking them to get behind a comic book idea, they agreed and issued a resolution asking Marvel to recognize Stockton as the FF's home.

When that happened, it hit the Associated Press and United Press International newswires... and the fun really started. I did scores of interviews and the petition drive was covered all over the country. But the one with the most impact was the report from Charles "Chuck" Hillinger, a very well respected features reporter for the Los Angeles Times. As part of his report, he called Stan Lee to get a response. Stan said "Marvel is in the business of saving universes on a daily basis. This is the least we can do for good ol' Stockton."

And so it went. In February 1986, Stan Lee visited Stockton to deliver Marvel's proclamation declaring Stockton as the "Official Birthplace of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four." The 25th anniversary issue of Fantastic Four was released months later.

Shortly after that, Stan Lee called me to ask if I would consider doing freelance public relations' work for the release of his wife's first novel. I did this while still working at KJOY, but the allure and fun of comics would mean I'd soon be looking to make a professional career move away from radio and into comics. (Although I first tried to combine comics and radio again by creating and writing a short radio feature about comics and pop culture. After close to 20 rejection letters from radio syndicates, that little dream died.)

I then did some freelance advertising and promotion work for a group of Bay Area retailers starting an event that would become known as WonderCon. I loved hanging with those guys, talking comics and trying to produce the friendliest big convention ever. That led to the decision to leave radio and open a comic book store. And in fairly short order, I also became one of the managing general partners at WonderCon.

My shop, Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, is still going strong 34 years later, due to the kind support of so many FlyCo Faithful in and around Concord and all over Northern California.

And even though I live in Concord these days I still have a very fond spot in my heart for Stockton. It's a cool little city I can recommend visiting for a "fantastic" time.

Thank you, Visit Stockton, for the cool tshirt...and for the opportunity to share this story on National Radio Day.

Peace 'n Comics!
Joe "FlyCoJoe" Field

Thursday, August 11, 2022

San Francisco Giants: There's a New Superhero in Town!

Sunday August 14 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, the Giants are hosting HEROES & COMICS DAY. It's the final event of a weekend celebrating the 10 year reunion of the 2012 World Series Champs.

The first 15,000 fans in attendance Sunday will get a FREE comic book with a story featuring players from the 2012 World Series winning team and the debut of a brand new Giants superhero. Published by 10 Ton Press, featuring interior art by Brandon McKinney, story by John Hageman, cover art by Arthur Adams and edited by yours truly, FlyCoJoe! 

Who or what is the new Giants' Superhero?
Find out in GIANTS UNITE: Heroes By the Bay!

Now, let's look back on bits of the Giants long and fun history in comics!
Peanuts comic strip creator Charles "Sparky" Schulz was a big Giants fan, especially in the early years after the team moved to San Francisco when Schulz lived in the Santa Rosa area.

And he was as bummed as every Giants fan when the San Francisco team lost to the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series...

Willie Mays is the greatest ballplayer ever! The Say Hey Kid has been celebrated in comics going back to his rookie season of 1951 when the Giants made it to the World Series courtesy of Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Round the World" pennant winning home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

In 1954, Willie Mays came back from two years service in the military during the Korean conflict...and what a comeback it was! Not only did Willie win the MVP Award that year, the New York Giants also won the World Series in a four game sweep over the Cleveland Indians. The Amazing Willie Mays comic book from Famous Funnies is just one indication of what a huge star Willie Mays was!

Over the years, the San Francisco Giants have been featured in other comics, including one by DC Comics in 2001 (shown below on the right), as well as a Willie Mays unauthorized biography comic in the '90s.

Back in the '70s, the Giants logo was on the cover of an issue of Harvey Comics' Casper, a promotional comic from KTVU Channel 2 (the Giants TV station at the time) and Straw Hat Pizza. I'm sure in other part of the country and for other National League teams, local TV stations and advertisers were featured.

A few months after the Giants won the 2010 World Series, Marvel Comics and WonderCon teamed up for a special variant cover of X-Men #536 featuring the X-Men in black & orange with the WS trophy. Very cool!

More about Heroes & Comics Day!
The event got its start on August 7 2013 when the Giants invited the late great Stan Lee to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. That was also the day Stan Lee did a fantastic event at Flying Colors prior to going to the ballpark. 

Now here we are in 2022... and the San Francisco Giants have led the way with their HEROES & COMICS Day, celebrated every season. It's a great event bringing together baseball fans and comics/pop culture fanatics. Some will even show up to the game in costume as their favorite comics characters.

The new Giants superhero will debut in the full-length comic book FREE to the first 15,000 fans attending the Sunday August 14 game vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game time is 1:10, with the special VIP Triples Alley event hosted by the ever awesome Amy Gutierrez starting at  10:35AM.

In the production of this comic book, at one point we thought we'd have an extra page to fill, so I invited my long time friend (and long ago FlyCo Faithful) artist Jeff Johnson (Marvel's Wonder Man, CrossGEN's Way of the Rat, among many other credits)  to do a special pin up page commemorating the

last out of the 2012 World Series.

I thought it would be a very cool way to finish the comic book, but it got squeezed out at the last minute. I'm happy to share the pencil/ink piece with you here. (Print it out at large size and then color it in with your fave shades of orange and black!)

Bottom line, I'd love to see you at the Giants game Sunday August 14 for HEROES & COMICS DAY. 

I'll close this out by sharing the awesome Brandon McKinney's pencil art for a couple of the pages in GIANTS UNITE: Heroes By the Bay!

Go, Giants! And Go, Team Comics!
Peace, Comics and SF Giants Baseball!

Joe "FlyCoJoe" Field