Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Wow, my first post on my first blog. I know, I know, do we really need another blogger prattling on about comic books? Probably not. But who cares! Comic books are awesome! Also, for someone as computer illiterate as I am, I felt it was a challenge, a fear of technology that needed to be overcome just in order to function in this age of social media. Now I know how my mother felt when I tried to teach her how to use the VHS player. I have also been experimenting with Twitter and you can find me there from time to time at @MentorsCamper. There you can find my random thoughts about comics and retweets of comic book and Doctor Who related news that I find particularly interesting. However, the main reason for starting this blog is that I love comic books. I love comic conventions. I love movies (especially those of the “classic“ variety). I love books. Above all, I love talking and writing about them. And I love meeting people who share that joy.

My introduction to comics started when my dad brought home a brown paper sack full of comic books that he purchased from a garage sale. Most of them were DC’s with a smattering of Dell and Charlton (the wall paper on the blog is taken from a Ditko drawn Charlton back up story called “Killjoy”). But it wasn’t the various Flash, Green Lanterns and Sgt Rocks that caught my eye. It was Amazing Spider-Man 115. This is the comic book most responsible for getting me started on my journey into the wonderful world of sequential art and collecting. I became a huge fan of Marvel and Spider-Man as a result. It changed everything. 

While my father indirectly started me on my journey into a nearly five decades long obsession with comic books, it was my mother who helped launch my love of classic movies by giving me two books. One she gave to me on my sisters birthday (she would always give my sister and I a small gift on the others birthday. My mother was awesome that way). It was my first non kid book. A biography of Abbott and Costello with synopsis of their films. I had seen their movies of course. They were a Sunday afternoon staple. My first exposure to classic movies were through the films of Abbott and Costello, Hope and Crosby and the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes series. But this book was something new and fascinating to me.

The notion that there were books that had background information and details about the movies that I loved was like discovering gold in my backyard. I was sure that I was the only person that had this secret information. Such books were the dvd special features of their day.   The second book was a coffee table book that my mother had bought called Life Goes To The Movies. It was full of great photos, most of them from movies that I had never seen before. I can remember being rather shocked by one photo in particular, that of a nude Shirley Eaton covered in gold paint. But that’s another story best saved for a future post.

So, why “Mentors Camper”? Some of you might even be asking “Who or what is a Mentors Camper”? Well, as some comic book fans might know, between 1974 and 1977 there was a television show called “Shazam!”. Shazam was one of the first live action TV shows to be based on a comic book superhero. It was joined by other live action superhero TV shows such as it’s sister series Isis. There were others that would follow such as Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, the short lived Spider-Man live action TV show and two Captain America television movies. There hadn’t been any live action comic book characters adapted to television in quite a while. It had been about a decade since the original run of the old Adam West Batman TV show and nearly twice as long as that since the original run of the George Reeves Superman show (although both shows enjoyed a long life in syndication). So this new batch of 70s television superheroes was warmly welcomed by a whole new generation of comic book readers.

For those not familiar with the show, Shazam was the magical word that caused a bolt of lightening to strike a young Billy Batson, transforming him into the worlds mightiest mortal Captain Marvel. Mentor was Billy’s friend, an elderly gentleman sporting a white moustache and a safari jacket, enjoyed classical music and occasionally dabbled in archery. Billy and Mentor traveled the country in Mentor’s Winnebago, helping kids deal with such things as peer pressure and car thieves. Mentor was, well, a Mentor to Billy. And when Captain Marvel needed back up, Mentor was there with his trusty bow and arrow (although it was used mostly to launch a rope to help pull a kid with a broken ankle out of a shallow ditch. This might not seem very complex when compared to today‘s television offerings, but when compared to children‘s television of the day, such as Far Out Space Nuts, it seemed positively Shakespearean).

Tremayne in "War of the Worlds"
Mentor was played by the late actor, British born Les Tremayne. Tremayne worked in radio and film and was involved in television practically since it‘s inception. He was in two of my favorite films, Alfred Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest” and George Pal’s “War Of The Worlds”. On radio he played Dashiell Hammett’s witty detective Nick Charles in the radio show series “The Thin Man”. He also starred in many classic tv shows such as Perry Mason, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Ellery’s dad “Inspector Queen” in the 50s Ellery Queen series and My Favorite Martian among countless other appearances.

Then there’s all his voice work in animated shows such as Johnny Quest, Scooby Doo, Mister Magoo and my personal favorite “A Very Merry Cricket“ as the voice of Chester Cricket, a Holliday staple of the 70s. So in Les Tremayne, we have an individual that symbolizes and encompasses practically every level of nostalgia and thus, seems a fitting symbol for this blog (along with the Winnebago). In my younger days I wanted to be a superhero. Now I’m happy just to identify with a nice elderly gentleman who gets to hang out with one.

So there you have it. My rather lengthy explanation for my reasons and inspirations for creating this humble little blog. But enough about me. I also want to hear your stories. How did your love of comic books, collecting, movies, television, etc start? Personally, those stories are fascinating to me and I want to hear them. So, to those of you reading this let me just say...hello! Welcome to Mentor’s Camper!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't only seen a few of those episodes online, but I can understand why they were so popular in their time and to fans today.

    For me, it started with Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter respectively. I grew up in the mid '80s and caught reruns of the '70s show early Saturday morning before the rest of the family awoke. From there, I learned more about the character and other famous DC and Marvel superheroes with my dad and uncles' childhood comic book collection. Great memories of the Justice League, the Avengers, and X-Men.