Welcome, readers, to this installment of "Cover Stories!" I'm your humble host, Jon B. Knutson!
This week, a departure from the norm, as I present a pair of Beatles comics that were never published in our reality!
Ever since I saw on Mark Evanier's website some faked-up Gold Key Dick Van Dyke Show covers (at www.newsfromme.com), I've been interested in creating some of my own! After all, it's a fun idea... what properties weren't made into comic books, but maybe should have?
So, using my own graphics talents, judicious work with Photoshop, and searching high and low for source materials, I've created a few dozen of them so far! Once a month or so, I'll feature a few of these covers under the sub-heading of....
When you see that additional heading on this column, you'll know we're delving into comics that don't exist in our world, so don't look for them in your copy of Overstreet, don't even think about searching for 'em on eBay! They don't exist!
But I'll talk about them as if they do! So strap yourselves in as I set the Kurtzberg Alternative Reality Device, and let's see what we find in the back issues!
One of Dell's biggest-selling comic books for this year was their comic book adaptation of the Beatles movie "A Hard Day's Night."
I'm not sure who did the artwork on it... but whoever it was, they captured the look of John, Paul, George and Ringo very well... probably working from photos of the Fab Four taken both before and while the movie was in production. However, the other characters (i.e. Shake, Paul's Grandfather, etc.) don't bear much resemblance to their movie counterparts!
This is kind of surprising, considering there was a paperback book based on the movie, with loads of photos (been a while since I've seen a copy, but I seem to recall it was kind of fumetti style).
The movie is adapted faithfully... although whenever the Fab Four broke into song, instead of breaking it up into panels, the lucky reader was treated to a single full-page panel (these must have been drawn from stills taken during filming -- the cover image of the Beatles performing on TV is almost exactly duplicated in the drawn interiors), with the lyrics to the song being printed (yes, printed -- all typeset nice and everything) above the illustration.
Some bits of the movie were more or less dropped... i.e. John Lennon's visual pun on snorting Coke (Coca-Cola, to be exact), but overall, a very fine presentation of the movie in comics form!
Flush with the success of their adaptation of "A Hard Day's Night," Dell produced this follow-up issue about a year later.
The artwork seems to be by the same unknown artist who adapted the movie the previous year.
Note that the cover doesn't refer to any specific story within this issue -- My guess is that the covers for this projected series would've stayed pretty generic, so they could put whatever stories in the books they wanted.
There were two stories in this issue. The first one, "The Beatles Visit Las Vegas," was really bizarre in many ways -- we're all familiar with how DC Comics would pun on names of real-life places and people? Well, this was very much the case here -- all the casino names were either puns on existing casino names, or alluded to them somehow (for example, instead of the Aladdin, it's the Sinbad, keeping with the Arabian Nights idea).
The story itself? The Beatles are to perform a concert in Las Vegas (something I don't believe they ever did for real), and shortly after arriving, they are mistaken by police for a group of four criminals who are doing their own variation on "Ocean's 11" (the criminals also look a little like the Beatles, except that, naturally, their hair isn't in a Beatle cut, and they don't speak with a British accent!). In order to make it to their concert on time, the Beatles have to first talk their way out of being held by the police, and then find and capture the bad guys who look like them!
The funniest bit for me in this story was the name of the criminal who looked like Ringo... this guy was the leader of the group, and was named "Big-Nose Starkey" (which was evidence to me that the writer was at least familiar with the Beatles history). "Big-Nose" received his nickname not only because he had a big nose, but also that he liked to claim he could smell a good crime from miles away! He was also in the habit of buying and wearing an additional ring after each crime succeeded!
The second story was a bit more prosaic... "The Beatles Out West," which almost sounds like a Beatlesque version of the Marx Brothers movie, but which is a bit different. In this take, the Beatles are taking a brief break between concerts, and decide to spend a week at a dude ranch out in the middle of nowhere to relax. (As an aside, another sign the writer was somewhat familiar with the Beatles history pops up here, as in the sequence when the Beatles decide to take a break, John picks up a phone and calls "Brian" (apparently Brian Epstein) to tell him they're changing their travel plans.
The dude ranch is one of those typical dude ranches that crop up in stories like this... they're barely making ends meet, the bank's getting ready to repossess the property because they can't pay their loans, etc. The Beatles decide they need to help save the dude ranch, which they do by the logical means of...
... you thought I was going to say hold a benefit concert? Perish the thought! This is comics, after all! (Besides, their instruments were already on the way to the next concert site, which isn't mentioned). The Fabs decide that since the dude ranch needs $10,000 to pay their loan off, and since the local rodeo is offering a prize of that exact same amount to the winner of the rodeo, that one of them has to train for a week and win the rodeo.
Anyone want to guess which of the four gets chosen to become a cowboy? Ringo, naturally -- who gets trained by the sexy rancher's daughter (there's always a sexy rancher's daughter -- Paul initially makes a play for her, but she admires Ringo's stick-to-itiveness when it comes to learning how to ride a bucking bronco, and so forth).
Naturally, Ringo does manage to win the rodeo, thanks to some "fancy trick riding" (which naturally, means that Ringo was hanging on for dear life and accidentally doing all the trick riding).
You haven't lived until you've seen Ringo all duded up, with 10-gallon hat, vest, chaps, etc... but still wearing his Beatle boots!
Apparently, sales weren't quite so good on this issue, although rumors persist that a second issue was indeed created and printed, but was only sold overseas.
The Kurtzberg Alternate Reality Device is being reversed... you are now returning to your own reality!
Time for a short dip in the Cover Stories mailbag (which is very empty, but what can ya do?), for a short note from Jack Applin, who took exception to a rather egregious error on my part in last week's column...
I'd written about The Sandman, "...when Simon and Kirby took over the series, they redesigned the Sandman almost completely from the ground up, not only coming up with this purple-and-yellow costume, but also adding boy sidekick Sandy and a nifty "Wirepoon" gun that facilitated swinging around the city!"
Jack, obviously a very well-read person (and fan of this column), wrote me to say, "A common belief, but false, I'm afraid. The GCD (www.comics.org) states that the new outfit appeared in Adventure 69, but that Simon & Kirby started in Adventure 72."
He even forwarded the appropriate links to those issues from the GCD:
Sheesh... and you know what? I knew this... I swear I did! But somehow, some neurons misfired when I wrote the above statement... I'll be more careful in the future... and thanks for your email, Jack!
I hope you'll join me for next week's "Cover Stories," in which I'll present a trio of covers in which dogs behave badly... so roll up a newspaper, and get ready to shout out, "Bad Dog!" If you want to comment on this column, you can write me directly at .