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December 25, 2009

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Supergirl, Planet Terry and Peanuts!

Merry Christmas (or Merry Fishmas as the guy at the sushi bar said to me) and welcome to this week’s edition of From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Luckily thanks to the magic of technology I was able to set up this article to post ahead of time and at this moment I am hopefully rolling around in piles of torn up wrapping paper, gripping boxes of DVD goodness, laughing madly (if everything went right that is). This week we take a peek at DC’s Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In 8th Grade trade paper back collection (that came out this Wednesday), from the back issue bins: Marvel’s Star Comic series Planet Terry and lastly what Christmas would be complete without a peek at A Charlie Brown Christmas?


supergirlPublisher: DC Comics
Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones

About a year ago now, I was hired to design and construct a set of Comedia Del Arte inspired masks for the play Such Foolish Affected Ladies here in Buffalo, that actually our fearless editor-in-chief Andy Liegl was directing.  During the run of the show I stuck around to help out and constantly on the breaks would run to the comic shop and bring back issues to read while I ate dinner (Andy would do this too and we would have these chats about what we were reading, confusing a good chunk of those around us being we were the only two comic guys in the theater). On one of these runs, I discovered the mini-series Super Girl: Cosmic Adventures In 8th Grade.  I never had too much exposure to solo Supergirl stories, the closest I think I ever came was when I picked up the first issue of the Supergirl comic series in the 90s and stopped there for some reason. The mini-series was actually a surprising delight!

super girl 2The basic story re-tells the origin of Supergirl, giving her a quick update and fun factor boost. In the course of the series she goes and saves the day, gets a rival along the way and struggles trying to fit in and pretending to be an everyday human in the 8th grade (and we all remember how hard it can be just to be a human trying to be a normal in 8th grade).

The writing is by Landry Q. Walker (Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Little Gloomy) with the art by Eric Jones (Tron and Little Gloomy). The two made a fantastic team on this title. I really wish this series kept going beyond the mini, however maybe one-day we’ll get another mini (or fingers crossed for an ongoing). Although there are moments when it may remind you of a super-hero take on Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Supergirl is well worth your investment and reading time to have collected in this trade. Once again all age enjoyment by our friends at DC Comics.

Can you dig it (out of the back issue bins): PLANET TERRY #1-12

planet terryPublisher: Star Comics (Marvel Comics)
Writer: Lennie Herman
Artist: Warren Kremer

You know, if you say the following line like a character from 1970s blaxplotation film Blacula, it is an absolutely hysterical sounding statement: “This comic has a Care Bears advertisement on the back, so you know it has to be good!

Ironically, Planet Terry #3 has an advertisement for Care Bears: The Movie on the back. A copy of this issue was also oddly in a box of comic books my eldest brother, James, left at our house when he moved out that I ended up taking. The book stood out to me because his collection was filled with all these great Marvel and DC first issues from the 80s and early 90s, and Planet Terry was the only “kiddish” looking title in the box (not to mention it wasn’t a first issue, it was issue 3. This added to my confusion). Even today, I have never confronted my brother on why he owned that comic…maybe after he reads my column this week I can get an answer.

Now if you dig through the back issue bins at your local comic shop (LCS), there is a lost gem of youth-aimed comics with the title Planet Terry. Published by Star Comics, Marvel’s youth imprint which lasted from 1984-1988, Planet Terry lasted a solid 12-issues before being cancelled. It tells the tale of young Terry who travels the universe in search of his long-lost parents he never met, with his friends Robota and Omnus (and briefly characters name Elfin and Squeet). Along the way he saves the beautiful Princess Ugly, fights an array of aliens, goes to the prison planet Alphatraz and runs into many problems with the evil villain Vermin (who is pretty much Terry’s Green Goblin).

star comicsThe series was illustrated by Warren Kramer, who for years worked on an array of the biggest Harvey Comics titles, from Casper to Richie-Rich. Kramer was brought into Marvel’s bull-pen to help create a handful of original characters for their youth-line, which include Planet Terry, Top Dog and Royal Roy. The artwork is fantastic and 100 percent feels like any competing Harvey Comics title at the time. Writing duties were by Lennie Herman, who story-wise in each issue wove a fun tale, always entertaining with their mix of kid-appeal and science-fiction-love. Creative highlights include issue #7, where Terry and friends get help from a space-detective and the whole issue is written with noir film-like narration.

Planet Terry was a ton of fun but sadly as already mentioned, lasted only 12-issues. At the end of the letters page in the final issue its cancellation was announced but said that it would continue on instead in the same magazine with Star Comic’s Wally The Wizard, which also ran 12-issues. However this plan never seemed to see the light of day in the Marvel Universe. The story was left open and un-resolved, with Terry continuing his quest through the universe to try and find his parents. Recently Terry made a re-appearance, along with a handful of other Star Comics line characters in Marvel’s X-Babies mini-series. If you can find the back issues, it’s worth much more beyond the low cost you’ll probably invest in them.


charliebrownone So my soon-to-be-bro-in-law-ski, Camcorder and I were just sitting there watching some Christmas specials when he looked at me and uttered, “Look at Snoopy eat all those bones, yo! This is way better than Meerkat Manor!”

I turned back to him and simply said “You’re right ‘n right, G. You’re right ‘n right.” True fact: A Charlie Brown Christmas does not have any analogies about lions throwing their cubs off a cliff, like Tekken: The Motion Picture, but for numerous reasons is a lot sweeter.

No other American comic strip has been adapted into as many TV specials as Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas started it all. Debuting on CBS in 1965, the production was feared by its producers as going to be a huge failure due to it not having a laugh track, children doing the voice acting instead of adult actors, and its jazz soundtrack. However as history has told us, when the show premiered over 50 percent of the United States tuned in and it was hailed as an instant classic.

cb2My fiancée and I watched it a few times this season and it is still hysterical after all these years. Worthy of the Emmy it was awarded, the script has both a ton of heart and perfect comic timing. Reading through reprints of the Peanuts strip, A Charlie Brown Christmas is also a great adaptation of the original material it is based off of, nothing was lost from panels on the page to the cells of animation. The animation itself wasn’t overly detailed but visually it’s exactly like the strip (and standard for American animation at the time). Also you just can’t beat some of the one-liners, such as “Out of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest!” The special spawned an army of other Peanuts TV specials, TV series and 4 theatrical feature films.

So today, tomorrow or the day after even, if you haven’t watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, my recommendation is that there’s nothing else better to watch for a quick laugh this time of year.

Drew McCabe



  1. Drew- it was fun talking comics in the chilly ALT Theatre! Good times.

    And in X-Babies Terry dukes it out with the tiny mutants in a ridiculous battle.

  2. Billy

    Charlie Brown Christmas rules. Although, my favorite is ” Race for your life Charlie Brown”.

  3. I actually liked the theme song for that one Billy lol

  4. Drew

    I agree with infinite, however I could never dig ‘Play It Agian Charlie Brown’ where its all about the piano kid playing his piano, same shot animated at same angle over and over, however majority of the peanuts specials are solid

  5. […] book series published by Marvel Comics, under their Star Comics line (same line that published Planet Terry) in 1985, which ran for 56 issues (they also published a spin-off called Heathcliff’s […]

  6. […] comic shops today and pick it up! (And if you also like Marvel’s Star Comics line, check out Planet Terry, you can probably dig it out of your […]

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