DigestCast #3 – Strange Sports Stories

It’s the third episode of DIGESTCAST and Shag and Rob take a look at DC SPECIAL BLUE RIBBON DIGEST #13 — Strange Sports Stories! (Sept. 1981) First it’s superheroes vs. super-villains in “The Great Super Star Game” by Bob Rozakis, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin! That’s followed by eight pulse-pounding “Strange Sports” stories, featuring work by Denny O’Neil, Cary Bates, Frank Robbins, Dick Giordano, Curt Swan, Irv Novick, and more! Finally, we wrap up with YOUR Listener Feedback! Batter up!

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31 responses to “DigestCast #3 – Strange Sports Stories

  1. Using cards to play a game was used in the wonderful b-movie, Zone Troopers, directed by Danny Bilson and written by Bilson and Paul Demeo!

    Solid show, maybe I’d prefer Standard Sports Stories.

  2. Such a bizarre trade all the way around.
    Love the basketball game. I wonder what would stop Plastic Man and the Flash from stealing bases all the time. I love that Luthor thinks an android can’t be duplicitous!

    I actually like the tennis story because you are dropped into a completely bizarre situation! Insanity!

  3. I’m not gonna lie. This episode was nothing more than an endurance test for me. Hardly any superheros? Stories about sports? Boring.

    One of the things I appreciate about your podcasts is that they introduce me to parts of comicdom that I wouldn’t learn about on my own. I’m happy to acknowledge that this means I’m not going to love everything, and am happy to sit though episodes like this because it means I’ll still find some gems along the way.

    But that doesn’t mean I feel the need to act like this was one of them. Sorry, but it was a dud.

    1. I know that Rob and Shag work very hard every week to produce a podcast that will entertain you, Mark. On behalf of the entire Fire and Water Network, I’m sorry they wasted your time this episode. Maybe the next time they review a subject you don’t care about they’ll put a little more effort into it.

      1. While I expected some push back given the fact that my comment was less than complimentary, I do feel the need to defend it on one key point. I do not at any point accuse them of a lack of effort. Whatever my feeling about it, I do not wish to accuse them of anything of the kind.

        That said, having put in a significant amount of effort should by no means be sufficient to shield them from criticism if something doesn’t work out. So, I stand by my comment that this one just didn’t work for me.

        If my criticism isn’t constructive enough, I’m happy to refrain from saying anything similar going forward. I’m honestly trying to balance what I hope is constructive honesty with the fact that, as I said, sometimes you NEED to go outside of obvious comfort zones to find topics that “I didn’t know I’d love.” Again, there are some real gems on this network, and I want everyone involved to keep doing what they love.

        1. Dearie Lord, you’re getting hours and hours of free entertainment every week for nothing. Nada. Nobody is asking you to actually stroke their ego, but really, do you have to risk stamping on someone’s morale?

          It’s good that you recognise effort is put in, but the fact you then don’t enjoy something doesn’t mean anyone has let you down; the material isn’t for you, that’s all.

          I’m not into Bob Dylan, or Star Wars, but you know what? I don’t listen. Not everything is for me, I’m very happy to let others have their joy where they find it.

    2. Well, I’m glad you tried it out. Sports stories are a hard thing to get right – even when they’re strange. If you want some bad podcasting guaranteed to try your patience, try the Highlander or High Fidelity episodes of Film and Water. Those are TERRIBLE. I’d suggest downloading and deleting those several times over. The same with the Video Store episode episode they did. Crapfests!

  4. Well, I for one enjoyed this episode, as I did the preceding two – but then again, I was a huge (yuge?) fan of the digests, and had a whole stack of them back in the day. And that included this one, which I quite enjoyed, even though I wasn’t much of a sports fan (liked playing soccer, but that was it for team sports). In fact, after the first, admittedly bonkers and obviously out-of-any-known-continuity initial superhero story, one of my two favorites was the faceless basketball team story. I’m sure if I read it now as an adult, I’d find it completely silly, but back then, at about the age of 12 or 13 when I first bought this digest, I thought it was so cool – I thought it had a sort of Outer Limits or Twilight Zone feel to it. My other favorite was the spaceball story that you guys seemed to like as well. It was just a nicely put-together feature, and I always thought Infantino did his best artwork in the SF stories from the late ’50s and early ’60s.
    Looking forward to future episodes; I’ve since re-acquired a few of the digests of my youth, including Special Blue Ribbon digests nos. 16 (Green Lantern), 20 (Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love), 23 (Green Arrow) and 24 (House of Mystery) so if you ever need any expertise on these, feel free to get in touch.
    I know you’ve mostly excluded the possibility of covering the virtually countless Archie digests (of which I also had a big stack back in the day), but does that also include the two Archie superhero digests – I had the second back when it came out (read it to tatters) and have both now. I’d love to see (hear?) those get covered.
    Also, will you be exploring the Marvel pocketbooks of the late ’70s? I had most of those, and honestly I liked them better than the DC digests…

    1. In my formative comic book years, the X-Men were always playing baseball, and the East and West Coast Avengers had annual games as well. It was a hoot.

  5. This is a digest I still own. Bought it from a local drug store. I love the first story. It is probably where I learned the rules of baseball. The “forced combat” trope applied to the sport, is one of my favorite “goofy moments” in comic books.

  6. I’ve always wondered about this one. I remember seeing a Daily Planet ad for it on the back of World’s Finest or Superman Family. The cover is fantastic! I stand by my statement on Power Records that Buckler at this point WAS the look of DC’s house style in the comics.

    I’m kind of surprised Hanna Barbara didn’t adapt the super hero story into an episode of Challenge of the Super Friends. How perfect would that have been? Of course, as Chuck posted, the B&B crew DID give us the animated version of it, at least.

    The other stories sound bat-crap nuts…but fun. If I recall, Strange Sports Stories was something Julie Schwartz championed off and on over the years. Julie knew that most kids back then played sports AND read comics, so he thought it was a natural fit. Heck, the reason we got the Justice LEAGUE of America was because Julie felt kids knew leagues from baseball better than a “society”. That sounded snooty and boring.

    Great show fellas!


  7. True story: When I was 12, I was cussed out by my assistant coach (dad) for reading this digest during batting practice. For some reason, I was supposed to “learn something” from watching other dudes take BP.

    Loved the goofiness of this book. Once again, you fellas find the joy in even if the stories are out of your wheelhouse (<— That's a baseball reference, Shagg).

      1. The “wheel” is the circular area the bat travels thru when a batter swings at a ball. A batter’s “wheelhouse” is the area where he is more likely to hit the pitched ball.

          1. No kidding? I never looked it up, but figured it had something to do with the manufacturing of wheels.

  8. DC actually did try a series of “ordinary” sports stories in the 1970s in a title called “Champion Sports”, which had even less success than “Strange Sports Stories”. At least they didn’t publish a sports-horror hybrid called “Weird Sports Tales”, where Cain or Abel would show up and narrate the gruesome demise of a jerky shortstop.

  9. I enjoyed this show as much as I did the digest, even though I had all of the original comics except for the “Spaceball” story…

    In addition to the two stories illustrated here (from Strange Sports Stories v1 issues 4 and 5), John Rosenberger also illustrated both stories in Strange Sports Stories v1 issue 6. And you do know who Mr. Rosenberger was, Shag — he was the co-creator of… Lady Cop!

  10. Great episode, guys! And while I realize sports are not for everyone, I’d argue that the stories in this digest are just barely about sports. If you’re a fan of weird sci-fi or horror, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Plus, you both made me laugh out loud more than once! (Maybe that’s why everyone on the train was giving me plenty of space.)

    But! Point of order: Plastic Man DID NOT cheat! He *tricked* Sportsmaster with his foot-as-base gimmick, which — if you use the real-life Hidden Ball trick as precedent — is totally legal. Even Amazo thought so!

    1. Don’t know It seems to me that this might fall under the act of obstruction by Plastic Man. His foot is clearly in from of First base so he is blocking the way to the base. “Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner. “

  11. This isn’t an issue I have so thanks for the image gallery – so many of my favourite artists in this issue. My favourite of the pics you show is the guy vaulting over the Earth, by Dick Giordano, who was a bit of an MVP (hey, sports term!) in this one, what with inking other people as well as doing the full art job here.

    So yeah, sports. American sports. Goodness, not the most promising subject – once Peanuts started a baseball game sequence, that was always me lost and unamused for months – but hey, these are STRANGE sports stories. Dwarfs with skittles? Arthurian American football players? A haunted hockey mask? Oh so very yes, I really do like these short sharp shocks. Themed anthologies such as this and the wonderful UFO collection can contain any number of gems; even the more iffy stories usually elicit something of interest, such as an intriguingly obscure comics creator, or a then contemporary social attitude that surprises us today.

    Any display box for consumer goods in the UK is called a dumpbin. I suppose it’s because I grew up working in our family’s grocery store that it doesn’t sound at all insulting to me.

    I want a Mr and Mrs Menace series set in suburbia, Deperate Housewives with supervillains.

    As well as co-creating Lady Cop, John Rosenberger was the Lois Lane artist for awhile. I really like his smooth line.

    Are the Faceless Five anything to do with the Faceless Creature From Saturn who used to pop up in Strange Adventures with some regularity?

    The dwarf story is my favourite, a proper strange sports story if ever there was one.

    As regards the point earlier in this thread that this book lacks superheroes, DC could have compiled an all-superfolks digest, keeping the baseball story and adding, say:

    Superman in The Phantom Quarterback of Metropolis
    The Flash in Flashing Wheels
    Teen Titans in The Secret Olympic Heroes
    Wonder Woman In Never in a Million Years
    Lois Lane in The Ugly Superman
    Batman in The Park Avenue Kid
    Jimmy Olsen in the King of Marbles
    … and so on. Doddle!

  12. I got some friends and we started a Cedar Rapids Comic Book Club. I remembered that Kevin had this issue because I loved the cover, so I asked him if I could borrow it. It was great to get to read it and hard to give it back. I thought this was a great episode! BTW, I have plugged your network at a meeting.

  13. I had this digest when I was a kid but I don’t remember much about it. The Blue Ribbon digests were great back then as they let me read multiple stories from different titles that I otherwise would never have gotten to read. This is how I read the original “Who is Donna Troy?” and got introduced to teams like the Legion of Super-Heroes (wish I still had the Blue Ribbon digest LoSH volume that introduced Starfinger and has 2 Legion couples getting fake married) and the Outsiders.

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