(Not just a) Woody Allen autograph

I have the best dad ever. (This is so cool that it almost makes me willing to forgive him for making me go to bed early during the 1986 World Series.)

Two months ago, I blogged about my dad’s new book called Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip. Remember? Here’s what the cover looks like:
Five days ago, when my parents came over for dinner, I asked my dad to sign my copy of the book. But I didn’t want any old signature. I asked him to draw an original comic strip for me — and I told him to sign it “from Stu Hample, his dad” instead of simply writing “from dad.” (It’s nice to have an informal/loving inscription every now and then, but this time I really wanted it to look official.)
Here’s what he came up with:
How AWESOME is that?!
But wait, it gets better…
My dad asked if I wanted Woody to sign it, too.
“Seriously?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’ll messenger it over to his assistant tomorrow,” he said, “and you’ll have it back in a few days.” (Random sidenote: Woody’s assistant is this man‘s daughter.)
He was right. The book was delivered to me this afternoon. Check it out:
All I can say is…wow.
Here are some close-ups, starting with the first panel of the strip:
Here’s the second panel:
Do you see how my dad signed the strip? He signed it “Joe Marthen.” Let me explain…
When my dad first started doing the strip in 1976, he had another strip going with a different syndicate, and he was under some type of exclusive agreement with them. For legal purposes, he had to come up with a fake name for the Woody strip. This was one year before I was born; his three kids at the time were named Joe, Martha, and Henry. So he combined their names into…Joe Marthen. Cool, huh? (My dad explained this story and many others in the book’s introduction, including a detailed account of what it was like to work with Woody, and how the syndicate kept trying to censor him and dumb down Woody’s jokes so that they’d appeal to the masses.)
Here’s a close-up of Woody’s inscription:
I have a lot of signed books. (That’s what happens when you’re a writer, and your dad is a writer, and your mom owns the best book store ever.) Before today, the best signed book I owned was probably a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth, personalized to me by both Norton Juster (the author) and Jules Feiffer (the illustrator), who drew one of the characters for me. Or maybe my two-volume set of Maus, which Art Spiegelman (author/illustrator) inscribed…how do I describe it? He did a major drawing which spans both copies. Half is on Volume 1 and the other half is on Volume 2. In order to see the whole thing, you have to open up both books and hold them together.
But those are nothing compared to this.
Finally, in case you’re thinking of buying a copy of this Woody book, here it is on Amazon.


  1. thekmac

    WoW – your dad is awesome! Have him get Woody to write the foreword of the new book! ;) That is SOOOOO cool! Seriously though, do you have someone writing it? Can you tell us?

  2. hulahonkahula@yahoo.com

    Are you or your father at all concerned by the fact that the man married his daughter? I’m not trying to be a jerk, legitimately curious.


  3. zackhample

    Thanks. Not sure if I’m gonna have a celebrity forewordist (if we can make that a word), though. That remains to be seen.

    It’s a fair question. Am I concerned about it? No. But I’m not supporting it either. The way I see it is: it’s none of my business and doesn’t affect me in any way, and I respect the man’s professional talent. (I’m much less forgiving when it comes to hate and/or violence.)

  4. rjmac1@gmail.com

    Was it even really his daughter? From how it sounds, he was never a “father figure” to her in any way, and isn’t the biological father either.

    The way I always saw it, calling him her “father” was a way for the media to sensationalize it so they had copy.

    Other than that, sweet art and autos Zack. Truly one of a kind.

  5. vegantemp@hotmail.com

    Who knew Woody had such horrible handwriting. Yikes. I still adore him, though. I think he’s just brilliant. And your dad? Well… he’s the bee’s knees (and elbows) for shizzle. What a talented family! Kah-rye-sssst!

  6. zackhample

    Oh Lordy, I don’t even know what the real deal was with that whole situation, which is part of the reason why I’m staying out of it.

    Bee’s knees? Whaaaa?

  7. angelsgirl012

    WOW! Your family is just so amazing!! I am such a bookworm and a big fan of writing as well. It’s great that you have so many signed books and your father is very skilled! I didn’t know there was a comic based on Woody Allen. I’m gonna have to check it out one day :)


  8. zackhample

    Thanks so much! Your comment is so nice that I thought you were being sarcastic for a moment when I first started reading it.

    Yep, pretty much.

  9. padreleigh


    That is a cool, signed book. I love getting all my military biographies signed by the generals and fighter pilots that wrote them, etc. I bet you have a great collection. Now, if you got Soon Yi to sign it too, you’d be my autograph hero. On a side note, Jay Leno is doing a benefit gig at my hotel tomorrow (Saturday). I’m going to try and name drop your name when I see him and see if he remembers you. Think he will? I hope so….


  10. zackhample

    He’s “sorry” about his rude suggestion at the end of the cartoon strip. :-)

    If you insist.

    If you include “the guy who has snagged thousands of baseballs” after you mention my name, then yeah, I would think that he’d remember me. Or…just imitate my “Cabbage Patch” dance move (the one that I did after catching those home runs at Yankee Stadium), and that’ll get his attention.


  11. sammywu17@hotmail.com


    I am in Taiwan still alive and prospering. It has really been a long time since I post on your blog. I still miss my good old days of houding for autos. I just wanna say I bought a ticket to the Dodgers game in Taiwan that the Dodgers will be playing 2 exhibition game during ST. The tickets are ungodly expensive (My ticket costed me 85 US dollars, for a seat behind foul pole area), but I think it will be lots of fun regardless.

  12. sammywu17@hotmail.com

    Almost forgot to mention, after I got the ticket, I did something else today in Taipei City that is really cool (I will write in my blog). You will like it tremendously. I GURANTEE IT!!!!!!

  13. padreleigh

    Hey Zack……

    Jay straight up dipped after his show and didn’t even use his suite that the charity bought for him. He was gone before I got to work. I’ll have to catch him next time. The good news was that I got to chow down on the amenity they had for him in his room that he didn’t use. Don’t want good food to go to waste! I second Puckcollector on the Cabbage Patch Dance…..NEVER AGAIN. I’m working on a celebration type thingy for when/if I catch a HR this year. Details on that later. Is anyone going to Spring Training in AZ? I’ll be there from 3/13-17. Say hello if you see me. Talk to you later…….


    Sammy Wu….

    Good to see you’re alive and well in Formosa. That’s cool about the Dodgers games there. When I heard about those games I KNEW you’d be there. Be sure to snag some balls.


  14. zackhample

    Wussa matter, you don’t like it?

    Yo!!! It’s good to hear from you. Glad you’re “still alive.” That’s so cool that you’re going to be at the game in Taiwan. Please share a link to your blog so we can all see the photos.

    Sorry Jay bailed, but hey, at least you got some good free food out of it. I will definitely not be at Spring Training (on those dates, if at all), but hopefully I’ll see you during the regular season.

    Thanks. I noticed that a little while back. Whoever runs that page is obviously not THAT big of a fan because he/she isn’t updating my snagging stats. Meanwhile, I’m so cool that I jumped straight from MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/zackhample) to Twitter (http://twitter.com/zack_hample) and skipped Facebook completely.

    Thank you so much. Sometimes I’m guilty of excessive complaining, but yes, overall I do realize it, and I often remind myself not to take anything for granted.

    I’m going to post a new entry within an hour, I think…

  15. jgk363@comcast.net

    Yes, Zack– Stu Hample is one in a million (i’ll never forget how he surprised even YOU by having beer in the fridge for my unexpected visit a few years back). But until the DNA or blood test results are in, one can never know about fatherhood. . . just ask Booker.
    i need a copy of that book. As i’ve told you before, i remember that strip from when i peddled the “Detroit News” back in the mid-late ’70s. i preferred “Bimbo’s Circus” (how can one be a fourteen-year-old lesbian and NOT be interested in a female character named, “Legs Akimbo”?). Now that you’ve pointed it out, i probably remember the strip being credited to “Joe Marthen”, rather than “Stu Hample” (about whom i knew nothing, until 1995).
    Two things:
    What was the other strip he had underway at the time?
    Take my love (as always) and share some with your Mom and Dad.
    i miss you all–

  16. zackhample


    I can’t wait to ask Booker…anything. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen him, and you. The other strip was called “Rich and Famous.” (My dad jokes that that strip made him neither). I miss you like crazy. It’s always great to hear from you. I’m still hoping to make it out to Seattle and/or Portland for a few days this year. My schedule’s really uncertain because the work for my new book is likely to drag well into the baseball season, so I’m not sure when I’m gonna be free, but you remain on my mind often.


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