Bright and early yesterday morning, my friendly neighborhood FedEx guy delivered a birthday present, The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus. 900 pages of Fred's illustrated homages to the comics he grew up loving and loves still, currently priced at $16.49 on amazon.com ( what a bargain!). No one is going to accuse Hembeck of being a great comic book artist, and to be sure he has written more than a few cringe worthy jokes in his day, but what makes his work appealing to me is that, through his strips, he vividly expresses the sheer joy that one can derive from being a comics fan. I bet that, like me, he has a special fondness for the smell of old comics. He isn't embarrassed to admit liking Harveys and Dell Four Colors. He knows who Pete Ross is. He's like an old friend, and I know I am going to be treasuring this b-day gift ( with the possible aid of a magnifying glass) for many years to come. Here are a few strips that aren't included in the book, from various DC comics from 1979-81.