Fred Hembeck is my friend. We were friends back in my days at FantaCo. After a long hiatus, we've been friends in my period of blogging. So now that I'm reviewing his book, THE NEARLY COMPLETE ESSENTIAL HEMBECK ARCHIVES OMNIBUS, I feel that I should especially tough on his compendium.
Item 1: it's not in color. Of course much of it was not in color in the first place, and it IS 900 pages for 25 bucks. (Truth is, if that page of the X-Men which was used as an insert in Hembeck #2 WERE in goldenrod, I think I would have suffered flashbacks from my days doing mail order at the 'Co.)
Item 2: those CBG pages, which were hard to read at 11 X 17 are even harder to read at 8 X 10.5 or whatever it is. Strange though - I've been reading Hembeck's work for so long (30 years!) that it's not the problem I thought it'd be.
Item 3: it doesn't have the Marvel and DC copyrighted stuff. Hey, if this is a big success, don't you think Marvel will want to follow the trend and package the Fantastic Four Roast, those Marvel Age pieces, that book in which Fred destroys the Marvel universe (what IS the name of that comic book?), et al., all in one piece.
Item 4: it's not paginated. That IS tricky, but I suppose that's why God created the bookmark.
Item 5: in the introductory page to the last section, the village of Saugerties is MISSPELLED! Shocking!
Ah, who am I kidding? I love this book. I started reading the introductory sections first. I was TRYING to bypass the stuff FantaCo published in the early 1980s, but I found myself stopping to read some of the framing stories, such as when bride of Hembeck Lynn Moss meets Bud Abbott and Elvis Costello. Or the time when Fred was going to blow off FantaCo for a mysterious benefactor. I also got to re-remember the wordless story Fred did with Bill Mantlo.
I've had the book almost a month and I'd be lying if I said I had read even half of this tome. But I'm happy to have it, for I can usually pull it off the shelf and read six or eight pages at a time between other duties.
So, despite my savage criticisms, go to your local comic book store, book store or the website of artiste himself and get it! *** To make up for that brutal review, a short piece featuring one or two of Fred's favorite performers: