Just as I was about to lose all hope Tom Beland, nee of the auto-bio romance True Story, Swear To God, had any interest in updating his bare-bones Web site, apparently, my forever fanatical 49ers friend has put some of his recent down time away from his wonderful book to good use. And it shows in his newly remodeled site, full of sketches.

Perhaps, it's all the new attention, considering True Story moved to Image last year... or maybe those awesome Spidey one-shots (Web of Romance) or the upcoming Isla De La Muerta, featuring the Fantastic Four in -- surprise, surprise -- Puerto Rico.

My only complaint about Tom's Marvel work: He's been the writer/scripter only on these one-shots, so we haven't seen him rendering Spidey or the FF under the Marvel logo. However, if you've been following True Story lately (find a copy of Tom's latest trade collecting the first six Image issues), Tom made the first of many trips to New York with his lady love, finally getting the chance to put his mark on the "universe."

If you grew up reading comics as a defense against the cruelties of the real world as I did in the mid 60s -- I owe my sanity to Jack Kirby, Doug Wildey, Steve Ditko, Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Stan Lee, Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, Joe Sinnott, Bob Haney, Gray Morrow, Gil Kane, John Broome, Pat Boyette, Gardner Fox, Dick Dillin, Mike Sekowsky, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, Dick Ayers, Jim Aparo and Alex Toth (only a short list) -- New York was a strange and wonderful place where costumed men and women danced around skyscrapers to protect the public from evildoers. It was certainly a universe away from my flat, humid and often boring (except for the occasional rattlesnake or flood) southeastern Texas home.

With that in mind, you'll appreciate why I loved this sequence from True Story #5 so much, I offered to buy the page (actually pull out of Tom's cold, dead fingers)... After a few e-mails back and forth about it ,then meeting up in San Diego, Tom decided to let his baby go, because he knew I appreciated how much love he left on the page for New York, Spidey and his family. Been there, felt that too.


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