Sunday, March 30, 2008
Now...if I'm reading Lamont Cranston's exploits via the funnybook page, I've found it hard to beat DC Comics' 1970s run on the character written by Denny O'Neil and illustrated by Mike Kaluta (and later Frank Robbins). As a matter of fact, I'm constantly citing it as quite possibly one of my favorite comic book series runs of all time, and certainly one of the best attempts at bringing the character to the comic book page. Though, I will admit that my admiration for all things Howard Chaykin allows me to absolutely love his 1980s re-imagining of the character in a contemporary setting...alot of purists don't, but to each their own, eh?
And, then....there's this thing from Archie Comics published in the 1960s. For years, I'd heard fellow fans speak of it, and constantly seeing reference to it in various magazines devoted to the hobby as one of the worst examples of cashing in on the superhero craze of the 1960s...well, it made me curious. First of all, they make Cranston the picture of the Germanic dream....blond haired and blue eyed. And they ditch the (still incredibly cool) black cloak and fedora for a standard issue green and blue superhero union suit...this is definitely not how I'd always pictured the character.
Well....as luck would have it, I actually ran across a complete run of this series at a local comics shop a few years back...and actually got the books for a steal (they were having a Silver Age back issue sale). I figured for 20 bucks, it'd be worth a good laugh....
And now...I share my pain with you, Faithful Downloader.
The books actually aren't that bad, though....it shares more in spirit with the more light hearted portrayal of Cranston from the radio show, with a few typical 1960s tweaks to the character....such as revamping Shiwan Khan as a cliched Red China/Southeast Asia type commie menace....which when you think of it was that decade's version of the 1920s "yellow peril" villains that the character was originally inspired by.
I'm offering the downloads in various formats this time around, and will have all the links up as soon as I get them uploaded....
CBR bundle (Hosted By Megaupload)
Scan Bundle- COMING SOON
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The Blue Beetle had a relatively short career on the radio, between May and September of 1940. Motion picture and radio actor Frank Lovejoy was the Blue Beetle for the first 13 episodes, while for the rest of the shows, the voice was provided by a different, uncredited actor. The Blue Beetle was a young police officer who saw the need for extra-ordinary crime fighting. He took the task on himself by secretly donning a superhero costume to create fear in the criminals who were to learn to fear the Blue Beetle's wrath. The 13-minute segments were usually only two-parters, so the stories were often more simple than other popular programs, such as the Superman radio serial.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I have many fond memories from my childhood that involved watching syndicated re-runs of this show with my mother, who was a huge fan. I'm currently working on tracking down a complete set of this book, and am currently only two or three issues away....
Dark Shadows is a Gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis, who tells of a dream he had in which a girl takes a long train ride to visit a large mansion. The story "bible," which was written by Art Wallace, does not mention any supernatural elements. It was considered daring (and unprecedented in daytime television) when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began. The series became hugely popular when, a year into its run, vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, appeared. In addition to vampires, Dark Shadows featured werewolves, ghosts, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, both into the past and into the future, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles and, as actors came and went, some characters were played by several actors. Major writers in addition to Art Wallace included Sam Hall, Gordon Russell, and Violet Welles.
Dark Shadows has the distinction of being one of only two long-running soaps to have every episode released for home video (including a reconstruction episode #1219, the videotape for which is lost). The other is Australian soap Prisoner. Dark Shadows was first released on VHS and currently in progress on DVD. (Episodes were numbered from #1 to #1245, but some episodes were pre-empted due to holidays, news, etc. so the number of episodes actually broadcast is 1225.)Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable story lines and an unusually adventurous music score. Now regarded as somewhat of a camp classic, it continues to enjoy intense cult status among its followers. Director Tim Burton and pop icon Madonna have both gone on record as fans of the series. As a child Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him
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Sunday, March 23, 2008
For years, I have been a fan of the work of Richard Corben, having discovered his stuff as a youth through his contributions to Warren magazines such as Creepy and Eerie. His color work has always possessed a strange, "pastel" or "smooth" look (for loss of better terms) that I've always found pleasing to the eye....a lot of smooth, round lines. Bloodstar is an early work of his, which many consider to be the first example of the "graphic novel" format...
Note: This is the first download I will be sharing in the weird .cbr file extention format that CDisplay seems to love and recognize. For those that do not use CDisplay, it's a simple matter of just renaming the file extention to ."rar" and unzipping the file to view the .jpeg files....
Bloodstar is possibly the first Graphic Novel to call itself a “graphic novel” in print (in its introduction and dust jacket). Based on a short story by Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian, and illustrated by fantasy art master Richard Corben the book was published by Morning Star Press in a limited signed edition. The front flap of its dust jacket reads: "BLOODSTAR is a new, revolutionary concept- a graphic novel, which combines all the imagination and visual power of comic strip art with the richness of the traditional novel."
Two other books published the same year (1976) also called themselves graphic novels, but one is a reprint collection of a serialized underground comic (George Metzger's "Beyond Time and Again") and the other is really an illustrated novel (Jim Steranko’s "Chandler: Red Tide")
Unlike "Beyond Time and Again", Bloodstar is long story that had not been previously published episodically. It was first printed as a luxury hardcover edition and subsequently reprinted in several trade paperback editions.
The story is an adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s original short story "The Valley of the Worm”, which appeared for the first time in Weird Tales (Feb. 1934 issue). This story had been previously adapted to comics by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and Ernie Chan in Supernatural Thrillers #3 (1973). This version gave the name "Helga" to the unanmed character of a "naked tousle-headed girl" described by Howard. In Bloodstar she became "Helva" and is the romantic interest of the protagonist. According to an interview with Corben in Heavy Metal magazine, Will Eisner got in touch with Corben and asked him if he wanted to work on the book. Gil Kane came up with name "Bloodstar" for the hero (It was "Niord" in the original tale) and the design for a star mark on his forehead. Kane edited the book with Armand Eisen. John Jakes expanded the story adding a lot of material to it and then Richard Corben revised, rewrote it and added further content. A latter edition (1979) was rewritten by John Pocsik.
Bloodstar is a post apocalyptic sword and sorcery tale of the life of a mythical hero and his heritage. It is illustrated in black and white in mixed media in startlingly three-dimensional looking images and features some ground breaking narrative sequences. Corben’s adaptation of the story adds humanity and romance to Howard’s brutal fights and action sequences. The artwork took about nine moths to complete, and according to Berni Wrightson, Corben painted the cover in less that 24 hours, while Wrightson and Bruce Jones were visiting him in Kansas City (quoted in the book Flights Into Fantasy).
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