Saturday, November 28, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Seems that the artist of that particular run of Animal, Chas. Truog...the creator of Warhund.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Josie and the Pussycats recordings were produced by La La Productions, run by Danny Janssen and Bobby Young. They held a talent search to find three girls who would match the three girls in the comic book in both looks and singing ability, and, after interviewing over 500 finalists, settled upon casting Kathleen Dougherty (Cathy Dougher) as Josie, Cherie Moor (actress Cheryl Ladd) as Melody, and Patrice Holloway as Valerie.
Janssen presented the newly formed band to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera to finalize the production deal, but was in for a surprise. Hanna-Barbera wanted Janssen to recast Patrice Holloway, because they had decided to portray "Josie and the Pussycats" as an all-white trio and had altered Valerie, who was African-American in the comic book, to make her white. Janssen refused to recast Holloway and threatened to walk away from the project. After a three-week-long stand-off between Janssen and Hanna-Barbera, Hanna-Barbera finally relented and allowed Janssen to keep Holloway, and changed Valerie back to being African-American.
Despite the popular belief that Valerie was the first African-American cast member on a regular animated series, the first African-American character was actually from another animated series about a rock band. Filmation Studios short-lived Hardy Boys series featured an African American drummer named Pete Jones (portrayed by real-life session drummer Bob Crowder in live segments), and it aired in 1969, a year before Josie and the Pussycats. However, Valerie was the very first female African-American cast member on a regular Saturday morning cartoon.
The show’s theme song, titled "Josie and the Pussycats", was written by Hoyt Curtin, William Hanna (under the pseudonym "Denby Williams"), and Joseph Barbera (under the pseudonym "Joseph Roland"). Patrice Holloway, the singing voice of Valerie, sings the lead vocal on the recording. A cover of "Josie and the Pussycats", performed by Juliana Hatfield and Tanya Donelly, is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
In 1980, an animated television movie based on Marvel Comics' Tomb of Dracula was released. Much of the main plot was condensed and many characters and subplots were truncated or omitted. The film was animated in Japan by Toei and sparsely released on cable TV in North America by Harmony Gold under the title Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, and has been released on VHS as The Tomb of Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Figured I'd take a break from the Halloween festivities and share somethings that's been giving me alot of laughs over the last few days....Italian Spiderman!
"Italian Spiderman is a film parody of Italian action–adventure films of the 60s and 70s currently being developed by Alrugo Entertainment, an Australian film-making collective formed by Dario Russo, Tait Wilson, David Ashby, Will Spartalis and Boris Repasky. The film is a reference to foreign movies that misappropriate popular American superheroes such as: the Indian version of Superman (1987), I Fantastici Tre Supermen (3 Fantastic Supermen) (1967) and La Mujer Murcielago (The Batwoman) (1968).
As of 23 July 2008, ten mini-episodes of Italian Spiderman have been released.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sadly, I just discovered (about three weeks too late) that veteran stuntman Dick Durock passed away. I came across the information while trying to figure out a way to work a DC property onto the current Mighty Marvel Monsterbash I have going one here and over at our sister blog, Attack of the B-Movie Muzak...I was thinking about doing something along the lines of posting about the odd coincidences surrounding the Marvel character Man-Thing and Swamp Thing...
Here's some info on Dick, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Richard "Dick" Durock (January 18, 1937 – September 17, 2009) was an American stuntman and actor who has appeared in over eighty films and over seven hundred television episodes.
He was known for playing Swamp Thing in both the feature films Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the subsequent television show.
Durock also played a Hulk-like creature on the television series The Incredible Hulk, two part episode titled "The First", where it was revealed that David Banner was not the first man to become a creature; another scientist accidentally created one "about thirty years ago" while similarly seeking a way to use radiation to increase strength. Durock also appeared in the Clint Eastwood films The Enforcer (1976) and Any Which Way You Can (1980) as well as Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975). Durock was born in South Bend, Indiana to Sadie (Medich) and David Durock. He resided in Southern California and appeared at fan conventions. Durock died from pancreatic cancer at his home in Oak Park, California on September 17, 2009. He was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Above: Dick Durock - Imperious Leader from the "classic" Battlestar Galactica
Swamp Thing Green Peace PSA (1989)
Recently, the website Dread Central conducted an audio interview with Dick (around the time the first Swamp Thing TV series season box set hit DVD...you can find that interview here.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Y'know...whenever I think of the early Halloween "beggar's nights" I participated in during my youth (or at least the part of it spent in the late 1970s), my memories are filled with imagery connected to the band KISS....
Hell, I'm pretty sure that I went dressed as Peter Criss at least twice prior to my seventh birthday....
Anyways, I figured now would be as good a time as any to share scans of one of the more oddball pieces of my comic book collection: Marvel Super Special #1: KISS....
Here's a little background on the book, courtesy of Snopes.com:
Claim: Blood from KISS band members was mixed with the red ink used to print the first KISS comic book.
Origins: Given that the concept for the band KISS drew upon comic book superheroes almost as much as upon music itself, they were a natural to feature someday in their very own comic. Sure enough, that came to pass in 1977 when Marvel Comics issued the first Super Special KISS comic book.
Never one to pass up a good marketing opportunity, KISS willingly went along with a promotional gimmick invented to spur sales of the first edition. As Gene Simmons recalled:
As the KISS comic book project moved along, someone came up with the idea of putting real blood in the ink. It wasn't me — maybe it was Bill [Aucoin] or Sean [Delaney]. We got into a DC3, one of those big prop planes, and flew up to Buffalo to Marvel's printing plant, where they pour the ink and make comic books. A notary public actually witnessed the blood being drawn.
Sure enough, KISS members allowed their blood to be drawn during a concert stop, and they later flew up to New York to be photographed adding their vials of donated blood to a barrel of red ink. A notary public duly certified the authenticity of the process, and the notarized document was made available as the "KISS comic book contract":
This is to certify that KISS members, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss, have each donated blood which is being collectively mixed with the red ink to be used for the first issue of the Marvel/KISS comics. The blood was extracted on February 21st, 1977 at Nassau Coliseum and has been under guarded refrigeration until this day when it was delivered to the Borden Ink plant in Depew, New York.
A subsequent rumor maintained that, due to a mix-up at the printers', the batch of red ink containing the blood of KISS members was actually used for a print run of Sports Illustrated magazine and did not end up in the Marvel Comic as intended.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
We start off this year's Mighty Marvel Monsterbash a few days early this year with this post spotlighting one of the best vampires ever to grace a comic page: HELLCOW!
Hellcow first appeared in Giant-Sized Man-Thing #5 from 1975....and the rest is history. I guess...
Above: Hellcow bio (click to enlarge)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
In 1931, Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett approached Edgar Rice Burroughs to adapt A Princess of Mars into a feature length film. Burroughs responded enthusiastically to the idea, recognizing live action would have limited where an adaptation could go visually, but advised Clampett to write an original adventure for Carter. Working with Burroughs' son John Coleman in 1935, Clampett used rotoscope and hand-drawn techniques to capture the action, tracing over the motions of an athlete who performed John Carter's powerful movements in the reduced Martian gravity. Clampett designed Tharks, the Green Martians of Barsoom, which he attempted to give a believable appearance, and produced footage of them riding eight-legged thoats at a gallop, which showed all eight legs in coordinated motion. He also produced footage of a fleet of rocket ships emerging from a Martian volcano. MGM was to release the cartoons, and studio heads were enthusiastic about the series.
Unfortunately, the footage received negative reactions from exhibitors across the US, especially in small towns, many of whom opined that the concept of an Earthman on Mars was too outlandish for Midwest American audiences. The series was not given the go-ahead, and Clampett was instead encouraged to produce an animated Tarzan series, an offer which he later declined. Clampett mused that there was irony in MGM's decision, as the Flash Gordon series released in 1936 by Universal Studios was highly successful, and speculated that MGM thought that serials were only played to children during Saturday Matinees, and the John Carter tales would be seen by adults during the evening. The footage Clampett produced was for many years believed lost until Burroughs' grandson, Danton Burroughs, found some of the film tests in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. archives in the early 1970s. Had A Princess of Mars been released, it would have beaten Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to become the first American feature-length animated film by five years.
John Carter of Mars test (1935) mpeg
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Y'know what I really love to do when I'm terribly depressed and blue? It involves comics...and, well....I'm an odd guy.
One thing I love to do, and trust me, it's hilarious even if it might be considered blasphemous, is go to my local comic shop and pull out four or five issues of The Incredible Hulk, circa 1970s, out of their quarter boxes (because condition doesn't really matter), read 'em...and while reading them, take an ink pen and magic marker and replace the word "Hulk" with "Jesus" wherever it might appear, and draw a little beard on the Hulk. Then, go back and read it again.
This exercise is priceless, I assure you. Try it sometime.
The other is go to whatever public retail venue that might be near that sells comic books that isn't a comic shop (the grocery store, Wal-Mart, gas station) and buy an Archie comic book. This is actually quite a chore, because if you haven't noticed, comics have lost their foothold on the American newsstand, and Archie Comics is one of the few left that's actually stuck it out and is still hanging in there.
Now, I do this because Archie Andrews and his world of Riverdale is comfort food for the fanboy. Over the last nearly 70 years of publication, Archie and the gang have stayed stagnant. Nothing really changes for them except clothing styles and slang. No matter how hectic your life has become, or what troubles you may be facing, the Riverdale kids and their supporting cast remain the same. Sure, within the last few years, Archie Comics has begun experimenting with concepts that seem completely foreign to them, yet common place with all other publishers...i.e., continuing storylines, cross-overs, and the occasional change of pace from the Archie "house" art style....an art style that was pretty much defined by one man in the late 1960s: the late Dan DeCarlo...but pretty much things are how they've always been in Riverdale. And, I find that comforting and endearing...it's nice to go someplace where (much like the fictional bar "Cheers") everybody does know your name...and they're happy to see you again...just like the last time you were around. It's the comic book fan's equivalent to going back home again...
So, to celebrate the works of DeCarlo, I figured I'd dig deep and drag out some really obscure stuff...
Homer the Happy Ghost, as you can probably already tell, was Atlas/Timely/Marvel's none-to-subtly veiled rip-off of the incredibly successful Harvey Comics "Casper the Friendly Ghost" property, which was written by Stan Lee and illustrated by DeCarlo in the 1950s. In 1970, Marvel decided to revive the series, which was basically reprints of the 50s material that lasted around 5 issues...
Homer the Happy Ghost was published by Atlas Comics in the 1950s. His first issue was dated March 1955. All of the issues were written by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo. The title lasted until 1958.
Willie Lumpkin, has a much more amazing tale, as told again by Wikipedia:
The character was originally created for a syndicated, daily comic strip by writer Stan Lee and artist Dan DeCarlo. Lee had initially submitted samples of a strip about a New York City beat cop, but was told by his editor that it was too "big city-ish" and that he wanted a friendly mailman to better appeal to mainstream America. Willie Lumpkin, which was only published in 1960, drew humor from the people and situations Willie Lumpkin would encounter along his mail delivery route in the small town of "Glenville."
Lee and artist Jack Kirby then introduced their comic book version of Willie Lumpkin in Fantastic Four #11 (February, 1963). The comic book Lumpkin is depicted as significantly older than in the comic strip, though the character's good nature was retained, as were references to his past as a mailman in Glenville, which the comic book located in Nebraska.
In his first comic book appearance, Lumpkin is represented as having befriended the Fantastic Four, to whom he makes regular fan mail deliveries at their Baxter Building headquarters in New York City. He half-jokingly requests to join the team on the grounds that he has the "power" to wiggle his ears. He serves as their mailman for many years, and on occasion falls into the zone of danger that typically surrounds the adventuring heroes. Examples include a story in which he is forced to spend Christmas Eve locked in a closet while the Fantastic Four fight the Super-Skrull, when he helped to save the team from the Mad Thinker, or when he is mind-controlled into accessing Doctor Doom's time machine by a minion of Immortus. An alien Skrull also impersonates him in another story to infiltrate the Fantastic Four's headquarters. Willie Lumpkin also crossed over into Spider-Man comics, where he briefly dates Spider-Man's Aunt May.
Willie Lumpkin appeared in his own solo feature in Marvel Comics Presents #18 (May, 1989). The fan-favorite story was a parody of A Christmas Carol in which Lumpkin is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, who had intended to haunt cantankerous Spider-Man nemesis J. Jonah Jameson but couldn't find his address. The story concludes with the normally amiable postman deciding that he hates Christmas.
Above: Willy's niece- Wilhemina "Billie" Lumpkin
Willie appears in Fantastic Four #543, being interviewed about the FF on the news show 'Lateline'. He talks about how, though the group took on cosmic menaces, they always found time to greet him.
In a lovely little bit of comic book geek fan service, none other than Lumpkin co-creator, Stan Lee, portrayed the mightiest mail carrier of the Marvel Universe in the 2005 Fantastic Four film...
Homer the Happy Ghost #1 (1970) CBR file
Willy Lumpkin CBR file..
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I love Snuffy Smith....it comes from the fact that I grew up in a rural farmland region, and have been tagged with the label "hillbilly" in the past. Regardless of the fact that I'm a college graduate with three degrees, the first reaction I get from folks when they discover the area that I grew up in is that one of ,"Oh.....you're from the sticks....." and immediately they seem to pass judgment on my educational background and intelligence. I soooo love the moment that tends to happen later when they realize they're fuckin' with someone who's probably smarter than them, and possesses a quick wit and a wise-acre smart mouth, to boot. I tend to cut people like that to ribbons verbally, showing no mercy or remorse for their feelings.
It's the little things that bring me joy....
Anyways...I love so-called cornball hillbilly humor. Not so much the current variety that has peaked in popularity (the whole Blue Collar Comedy Tour can kiss my ass with their collective unfunny lips), but the old school stuff.....Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Li'l Abner (Al Capp was a genius), Lum n' Abner on the radio, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard on the movin' picture box and such....I just find the stuff endearing. So sue me.
Private Snuffy Smith is a 1942 American film directed by Edward F. Cline and starring Bud Duncan as Snuffy Smith.
Snuffy Smith has been for many years the predominant character in the syndicated newspaper comic strip Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, created by Billy DeBeck and later drawn by Fred Lasswell from 1942 until 2001 (when Laswell died). The strip is currently drawn by John Rose.
Snuffy is a stereotypical hillbilly. He lives in a shack, makes moonshine, is in constant trouble with the sheriff and is very shiftless, occasionally doing a small amount of farm work but primarily working his still and loafing. He also has some proclivity toward stealing chickens, which led to a brief but effective use of his character in a marketing campaign by the Tyson Foods corporation in the early 1980s.
He is very short, wears a broad-brimmed felt hat almost as tall as he is, has a scraggly mustache and wears a pair of tattered, poorly patched overalls. He constantly cheats at poker and checkers. His speech is ungrammatical in the extreme. In fact, almost all of the characters in the strip (except of course for the occasional visiting "flatlander") have been stereotypical hillbillies – sharp-tongued gossipy women such as his wife Loweezy (Louisa); his baby Tater; his nephew Jughaid (Jughead); his neighbors Elviney and Lukey (Lucas Ebenezer); the sanctimonious (but nonetheless ungrammatical) Parson; Silas, the owner of the General Store; the ostentatiously badged Sheriff Tait and others. Vehicles were rundown jalopies of a seeming 1920s vintage, even in the 1970s and beyond.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
1.) This weekend, the talk of fandom was the 40th annual San Diego ComicCon
2.) I'm a HUGE Jack Kirby fan, especially of the character being presented here: Etrigan the Demon.
3.) I'm a fan of the country and western music (not so much the contemporary stuff, but the music that tends to fall into the current category of "classic country"...basically anything recorded circa late 1940s to the late 1980s...
Out of boredom, I pulled out an old issue of the publication THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR I had laying around...issue #44, from 2005, to be exact. Thumbing through it, I came across an article entitled, "Witchboy, All Grown Up" by John Morrow which was an interview he conducted with Barry Alfonso, the guy who served as the visual inspiration for the character Klarion the Witch-Boy, a villain from Etrigan's rogues gallery...
Pictured Above: Klarion as he appeared the recent Grant Morrison-helmed Seven Soldiers mini-series, the Witch-Boy from an episode of Justice League Unlimited (if I remember correctly) and a circa 1970s pic of Alfonso (center) with Carmine Infantino and Jack Kirby...
It seems, according to this interview, that Alfonso was good friends in 1968 with comic book dealer Shel Dorf, and that Barry led to the eventual meeting of Dorf and another California comics deaer (and mutual friend) Richard Alf. As Alfonso recalls:
"I recall putting Richard and Shel in contact with one another, and that led to the first meeting of what became the founding group of the San Diego Comic Con (Others attending were, I believe, Bob Sourk, Dan Stewart, and Mike Towry)."
What did the Witch-Boy do when he grew up? Well, he's credited as the co-writer of the Pam Tillis (the daughter of stuttering Mel Tellis, a man best known by film fans for performing "I'm Just a Coca Cola Cowboy" in the Clint Eastwood film, EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE) 1995 country hit, "In Between Dances" and he's a Grammy winner, for his liner notes to a collection of Peter, Paul, and Mary tunes...
It's a small world, after all...especially when playing "Six Degrees of Jack Kirby"....
THE DEMON #7 CBR file
Bonus: Witchboy Extras! The aforementioned interview from The Jack Kirby Collector #44, and an mp3 copy of "In Between Dances" by Pam Tillis
Monday, July 6, 2009
Like most folks my age, I discovered the amazing works of the legendary Frank Frazetta via the covers of various Warren Publications, such as CREEPY, EERIE, etc, and his paperback cover artwork, specifically his iconic pieces done for characters connected to the works of Robert E. Howard, such as CONAN the BARBARIAN...
Don't even get me started on the Molly Hatchet album covers...being an unsuspecting and naive young metalhead in the early 1980s, I mistakenly thought that the tone of the fabulous Frank Frazetta "Death Dealer" covers of the albums reflected the sound of the music. My first experience listening to "Flirtin' With Disaster" proved that to be a mistake...LOL!
Anyways, here's a delightfully insane little piece of history, Tally Ho! Comics from 1944 featuring Frazetta's first published comics artwork....it's the Snowman, a wooden idol (who resembles a snowman, naturally) who comes to life to combat the evil machinations of standard issue bad guy The Fang. From what I've been able to gather, this was the Snowman's first and only appearance...and the world is just a little bit sadder because of it....
Tally Ho!- Frazetta's Snowman CBR file
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Green Hornet (1940) is a Universal movie serial based on the The Green Hornet radio series by George W. Trendle.
The Green Hornet, secretly newspaper publisher Britt Reid, and his Korean valet Kato stop and expose several seemingly separate crimes. This leads them into continued conflict with The Leader, the criminal mastermind behind The Syndicate and the individual crimes.
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The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1941)
The Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato return to face Boss Crogan and his varied rackets across the city in The Green Hornet Strikes Again!
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Monday, May 18, 2009
While I'm still out on the fence as to what my opinion about Miller's movie is, I figured it'd be a good time to share how I discovered the character with my blog-reading friends...
Like many fans my age (who grew up in the late 1970s and 1980s), I first discovered both Eisner's work and his creation Denny Colt in the Warren Publications magazine of the mid-1970s.
Again, with the Wikipedia stuff:
Warren Publishing and later Denis Kitchen's Kitchen Sink Press published extensive reprints, first as large black-and-white magazines (the Warren part of the run eventually having a color section), then as trade paperbacks. The magazines often featured new Eisner covers.
Two new stories were written during this period "The Capistrano Jewels", a 4-page story published in the second issue of the Kitchen Sink reprints in 1972; and "The Invader", a 5-page story (reprinted in The Will Eisner Color treasury).
In 1976, an oddity called "The Spirit Casebook of True Haunted Houses and Ghosts" was published. The Spirit plays the EC host, introducing "true" stories of haunted houses. The Spirit makes a cameo in Vampirella #50.
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The Spirit Magazine #1 CBZ file
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Being a big fan of the funny animal superhero parody/ satire, this book became a favorite during my youth. During the last few years, I've been working towards tracking down a complete run of all 74 issues. The final issue, #74, holds the distinction of being one of the last Disney licensed books that the great Dell/GoldKey/Whitman empire published prior to ceasing all comic book publication in April 1984.
Super Goof (also Super Pippo) is a fictional character, the Disney character Goofy's superhero alter ego. He gets his power by eating Super Goobers (peanuts). His powers are similar to Superman's. Goofy became the first Disney character to get a career as a superhero, but several would follow — notably Donald Duck as Paperinik, whose reliance on gadgets and the night made him more of a Batman figure.
Super Goof first appeared in The Phantom Blot #2 (February, 1965) by Del Connell (story) and Paul Murry (art), where he was just imagining that he was a super hero. He made his first appearance as an actual superhero in Donald Duck #102 (July, 1965), in the story "All's Well that Ends Awful", also by Connell and Murry. In his third appearance, "The Thief of Zanzipar" from Super Goof #1 (October, 1965), the origin of his powers is meteor-irradiated peanuts. In later stories, Super Goof not only encountered the Phantom Blot, but also such adversaries as Black Pete, the Beagle Boys, Emil Eagle, and Mad Madam Mim.
Super Goof's secret identity is known only to his nephew Gilbert who also calls himself Super Gilly on occasion. His favourite "shout" is Ta-Dah. Comic relief in the stories would spring from the fact that Super Goof's powers would "wear off" at the least opportune moments, such as when he was flying or in need of super strength. Goofy always kept a few Super Goobers in his hat, but would occasionally forget to restock, leading to situations in which he would have to get out of trouble without the super powers. In a crossover story, Huey, Dewey and Louie found a Super Goober plant sprouted by a dropped goober, and "borrowed" Super Goof's powers; after doing a round of super deeds, the ducks' powers faded, and they had to be rescued by the Junior Woodchucks.
Super Goof had his own comic book series from 1965 to 1984 with a 74-issue run from Gold Key Comics. Reprints appeared in Walt Disney Comics Digest, one of the Dynabrite deluxe comics issued by Western in the late 1970s, and Disney Comic Album #8 (1990) from Disney Comics. The first release in the German-language Heimliche Helden book series by Ehapa published Oct. 2005 was devoted to Super Goof. Gemstone reprinted a story drawn by Jack Bradbury for the Studio Program as a backup in their 2006 release Return of the Blotman with the rescripting handled by longtime Super Goof aficionado Joe Torcivia. He also appeared in one episode of House of Mouse.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009
Excellent BBC production hosted by Jonathan Ross...I absolutely adore the Alan Moore interviews....
I've been a HUGE Ditko fan since discovering his work as a child in the Marvel reprint title Marvel Tales during a period in the early 1980s in which they were reprinting the entire Lee/Ditko run of Amazing Spider-Man....
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Monday, April 27, 2009
• 01 - Fantastic Four meets the Mole Man
• 02 - Menace of the Miracleman
• 03 - Coming of the Submariner
• 04 - Dreaded Dr Doom
• 05 - Prisoners of the Puppet Master
• 06 - Fantastic Four meet the Incredible Hulk
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FF Radio Show Ep. 1-6
• 07 - Spell of the Hate Monger
• 08 - Return of Dr Doom
• 09 - In the Clutches of Dr Doom
• 10 - Super Skrull Walks Among Us
• 11 - At the Mercy of the Red Ghost
• 12 - Menace of the Red Ghost
• 13 - Submariner Strikes
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(Link down....coming back soon)
Sunday, April 26, 2009
WTF?!? John Wayne as Genghis Khan?!? UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY GOLDMINE! Plus, the backstory and the aftermath of the filming is a priceless bit of madness...
Take it away, Wikipedia:
The Conqueror is a 1956 CinemaScope epic film produced by Howard Hughes and starring John Wayne as the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. Other performers included Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and Pedro Armendáriz. The picture was directed by actor/director Dick Powell. The film was principally shot near St. George, Utah.
The picture was a critical and commercial failure (often ranked as one of the worst films of the 1950s), which is remarkable given the stature of the cast. Wayne, who was at the height of his career, had lobbied for the role after seeing the script and was widely believed to have been grossly miscast. (He was so "honored" by The Golden Turkey Awards.)
Reportedly, Howard Hughes felt guilty about his decisions regarding the film's production (see Cancer controversy below) and kept the film from view until 1974 when it was first broadcast on TV. The Conqueror, along with Ice Station Zebra, is said to be one of the films Hughes watched endlessly during his last years.
The exterior scenes were shot on location near St. George, Utah, 137 miles downwind of the United States government's Nevada Test Site, Operation Upshot-Knothole, where extensive above-ground nuclear weapons testing occurred during the 1950s. The cast and crew spent many difficult weeks on the site. In addition, Hughes later shipped 60 tons of dirt back to Hollywood for re-shoots. The cast and crew knew about the nuclear tests, there are pictures of Wayne holding a Geiger counter during production, but the link between exposure to radioactive fallout and cancer was poorly understood then.Powell died of cancer in January 1963, only a few years after the picture's completion. Hayward, Wayne, and Moorehead all died of cancer in the mid to late 1970s. Cast member actor John Hoyt died of lung cancer in 1991. Pedro Armendáriz was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1960 and committed suicide after he learned it was terminal. Skeptics point to other factors such as the wide use of tobacco— Wayne and Moorehead in particular were heavy smokers — and the notion that cancer resulting from radiation exposure does not have such a long incubation period. The cast and crew totaled 220. 91 developed some form of cancer by 1981 and 46 had died of it by then. Dr. Robert Pendleton, professor of biology at the University of Utah, stated, "With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you'd expect only 30 some cancers to develop...I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law."
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Dell Movie Classics #690 CBR file
Monday, April 20, 2009
I've held a long-time fascination with the pulp and radio heroes of the 1930s and '40s, for which I have my paternal grandmother and aunt to blame for. Now, hindsight is probably heavily embellished, so forgive any discrepancies that might follow, but as a small child with both parents working...I spent several afternoons with the two above-mentioned women pre-kindergarten in a household that still held to the values that the television was a device that shouldn't be turned on until 6 p.m. at the least. Hell, the first color set my grandmother ever owned was purchased by my father after my grandfather's death....in 1991.
So, to keep me occupied as a wee lad, my grandmother, who was a HUGE fan of radio drama during it's hey-dey, would literally (and remember what I said earlier about hindsight) verbally relate episodes of her favorite shows to me, verbatim. It wasn't until I was probably around the age of 6 or 7 that I came to the realization that The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Fibber McGee (and Molly), Amos n' Andy, and a whole slew of fictional characters were just that: fictional. I just thought they were folks that grandma knew....
So, when I came to discover that there were comic books produced about these heroes, it's a no-brainer I would take an interest. One of the first I came to discover during those early years of collecting in the early 1980s was what would become quite possibly one of my favorite DC Comics series of all time, Denny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta's excellent interpretation of The Shadow.
At some point later, while in high school, I would disocver Walter Gibson's other work, The Avenger, via ancient Bantam paperback reprints from the early 1970s and the short-lived DC Comics series Justice, Inc.....
I lucked into an entire run of the 1970s DC title around that time. I actually like the latter half of the book in which Jack Kirby was handed the reigns on the character...
Around this time, in the early 1990s, DC revisited the character (for much the same reasons they did took any interest the first time: they were experiencing some success with a new book based upon the more popular Lamont Cranston, The Shadow) in a two issue prestige format mini-series illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Kyle Baker. This take learns more towards the Avenger being involved in shadowy covert operations during the Cold War, but is still an interesting read...
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Justice Inc #1-#4 (first series) RAR file
Justice Inc #1-#2 (second series) RAR file