AppendSix: Saved by the Bell

Welcome to AppendSix, six literature-related facts and notes about pop culture. In this installment, we look into the cheesy-yet-lovable 80s/90 NBC Saturday morning comedy, Saved by the Bell.

I had the pleasure of speaking with creator Peter Engel about Bell and other topics discussed in his memoir, I Was Saved by the Bell. The first AppendSix item is about him.

Peter Engel, Father of Bell

On 15 November, SbtB fans and TV enthusiasts will be able to read Peter Engel’s memoir, I Was Saved by the Bell. It’s a very good biography on the whole, though Bell fans may be disappointed there’s not enough content about their show.

Listen to the audio interview (MPEG-4 audio format)

Engel’s textual self-portrait is that of personal and professional transformations and triumphs. He, a Jewish New Yorker, sought to make the Great American Sitcom, but became a titan of teen television in sunny Burbank, California. The title and Peter Engel Productions logo on the book will get sales from nostalgic fans, but he’s also saved by Jesus. I ponder whether some Christian bookstores will stock it, but the memoir has adult language and some intense situations.

That mini-review out of the way, I found Peter to be a cool interview subject. Check out my 20+ minute interview where he discusses his showbiz career and some of the TNBC shows, including Bell and its lesser successor, Saved by the Bell: the New Class.

Peter has some amusing anecdotes of star Dustin Diamond in the book and spoke glowingly of him during our interview. Now, here’s an essay of Diamond and Behind the Bell.

Going Behind the Bell

Dustin Diamond Behind the Bell cover

The actor who played Screech Powers is no stranger to being tabloid fodder. At about the same time as I interviewed Engel, a local TV station aired the Dr. Oz interview where Diamond presented himself as remorseful and apologized to his castmates. Peter Engel spoke glowingly of Diamond during our interview. Diamond sure took a very bumpy road to get to that point. Continue reading “AppendSix: Saved by the Bell”

A Brief History of Filmation Ghostbusters Comic Books


Let me get this out of the way: I’m worn down by people raging over the 2016 Ghostbusters movie (Misogyny? Corporate apologetics? You decide!) that I have little enthusiasm for the movie at its release. The hype inspired to take an “ironic,” rebellious take of siding with the Filmation Ghostbusters and looking up their comic book history.


These Ghostbusters were a separate media franchise first established as a live action Saturday morning show about 10 years before Columbia Pictures’ blockbuster. As Columbia had permission to use the Ghostbusters name and had something scorching on their hands, the mega-popular GB franchise soon lauched long-running toy lines and cartoons. Not to be outdone, Filmation also made deals to produce toys and a cartoon.

History bears out that the franchise with a potato-shaped slime specter and a giant marshmallow man was far more popular that the franchise with a humanoid gorilla. Filmation closed down in 1989, eventually sold to Classic Media which itself was sold to Dreamworks becoming Dreamworks Classics.
Continue reading “A Brief History of Filmation Ghostbusters Comic Books”

Crowdfund Corner: This Romance Guide Goes Steady With Kickstarter

What is it?
Sequential Crush Presents How to Go Steady is a book featuring timeless dating advice and artwork from the last major age of romance comic books.

Yes, romance comics: sappy soap operas in print. Ultimately, female readers left and the U.S. comic book industry has been a Boyz’ Superhero Klub since.

This book has a goal of $21,000 with $5,000 being pledged as I write this. Continue reading “Crowdfund Corner: This Romance Guide Goes Steady With Kickstarter”

Last Week's Issue: Steve Rogers and the Multi-Headed Monster

Here are my almost stream-of-consciousness, maybe unfocused, thoughts on the major comic book single issue of the past week: Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 by writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz.

The startling revelation that Steve Rogers had been a Hydra agent all along sparked plenty of conversation over the past week. Cap’s big swerve has gone beyond all artistic critique: whatever resolution to this story won’t generate as much mainstream press as his betrayal. Even Stan Lee, who helped develop Captain America as a “man out of time” in the mid-1960s, liked Cap’s new professed allegiance. Chris Evans, the current embodiment of Cap, was amusingly befuddled.

There was the inevitable Internet Backlash: the sadly standard variety of outrage and ugly threats. The backlash has made inspired think pieces about the nature of fandom and fan entitlement is poisonous. Also, there’s ridiculous dragging co-creators Kirby and Simon into this fan conflict. In my view, such overreaction is a product of the social media age which much intensifies and makes viral hyperbole. Continue reading “Last Week’s Issue: Steve Rogers and the Multi-Headed Monster”