Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 Post-Game Show

Here we are, in the waning hours of the year 2010. That means it's time to review the year that was.

On a strictly personal level, my main goal was to get myself righted to where I didn't feel like my life was perpetually collapsing around me. Happily, I think we succeeded there. I didn't really get as far as I would've liked, but I'll take stability right now if that's the best I can manage. The rest will come in time.

On the creative/blogging front, this year proved exceptionally fruitful. We've discussed the wrap-up of "Return of Jetman" already, and you can read a little bit more in a few hours over on the site itself. But that wasn't even all - not by a longshot. Though oddly, it was a random convergence of circumstances that lead me to the best stuff.

My "big plan" for OWARI at the beginning of the year was to make at least 155 posts and reach a cumulative total of 300. I hit that goal so early that I set the bar higher and decided to try to make 205 for 350. And then, I made it there and just figured I'd see how far I could I ride the train until the year ran out.

A big reason I was so prolific this year was the whole "Captain Satellite" thing. I had always enjoyed the profiles I had written for those characters when I posted them on deviantArt in 2007, so I thought they would make good material for the blog. I deliberately saved them up until 2010 and then intended to roll them out sporadically throughout the year. I knew they'd need some editing, but I had no grand plans.

Well, those characters recaptured not only MY imagination, but apparently those of the people who follow my work, too. When people asked if I intended to do anything else with them, I told them at first that I didn't have any plans. That was true, at least at first. But I started to get ideas. As I rewrote my old profile text, I began to create new characters, too. I drew new pictures. I wrote stories. I commissioned artwork. Now, something that was barely even discussed last year is a big part of this blog, and a big part of where I hope to go creatively in 2011. Very cool.

Now, interestingly, none of this might have happened if not for the single most important entry on this blog this year. That would be this one. Why do I single this particular unassuming entry out from among the 200+ posted during 2010? Well, there is a story behind it that I hadn't really explained.

The year 2010 began, logically enough, as a continuation of what I had been doing in 2009. However, by the end of February, I was feeling burned out with the whole thing. I could still put together a decent enough piece of work now and then, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to convince myself that I SHOULD do it. Faced with a diminished excitement over writing, I took the radical step of putting myself on hiatus.

Understand that the point of that entry was not for you, gentle reader. Oh, it served its purpose for you, but that entry was posted for me. It wasn't a big "Woe!" post or a cry for attention or anything of that nature. As I told some people, if I just wanted to take a break, I'd take one and leave it that. I abruptly dropped out of sight here for about two weeks in 2009 and the world didn't end. And candidly, I don't think a lot of people will fret TOO much about an absence of fresh content here.

No, that post was for me. It was my reminder that I had told everyone I was coming back here. It was designed to shame me into returning to this blog, because I have no intention on ending it with "More to come!" and then never delivering. I had to pick up the baton because I had promised that I would.

A funny thing happened during that self-imposed exile. As I took some time off and devoted myself to just seeing what that would do to my work, the spark came back. If anything, I was ANXIOUS to get back into the saddle and share my damaged thoughts with all of you. And when I got back into gear, I almost couldn't stop myself from posting. The difference has been astounding, and the productivity has continued almost unabated through the remainder of the year.

So, let me bid a fond farewell to the year 2010. It was filled with its share of triumphs and pain, but somehow, the good seems to outweigh the bad in my memory. That's always a positive sign. Now, let's see what 2011 holds for us all.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wichita Lineman

Bob Dylan has been famously quoted as saying, "The point is not understanding what I write, but feeling it." Well, I'm no songwriter, but I carry that quote with me whenever I'm trying to write something. I have been known to obsess over the little details, and have worked hard to make sure everything is just so in my writing. But, in the end, all of that is worthless if I can't properly convey the emotion of a piece. If I can make an impact on a reader, he/she is much more likely to forgive any technical shortcomings in my work.

I use that quote and my own experience to introduce the song "Wichita Lineman" because I am in awe every time I listen to it. If you break that song down, there are less than 20 lines in it. And yet, songwriter Jimmy Webb paints such an evocative picture in that economy of words. Yes, obviously the delivery and the music work in concert with the lyrics to fill in the details. However, there's never a doubt that they are there to better tell the story of the song.

What is the story? Well, on the surface, it's the titular character telling us about himself. But then it's gradually revealed that he's telling the story to someone else - the unnamed second character in his story. By the end, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that it's a love song - especially with the lines that essentially serve as the song's coda. They are almost heartbreaking in their simplicity. I think that simplicity is their strength. You don't just understand them; you feel them.

There are a number of versions of "Wichita Lineman" out there, but I think my favorite is the one linked below. It is performed by Glen Campbell, the man who made the song famous. Accompanying him are Robert DeLeo, Dean DeLeo, and Eric Kretz of the band Stone Temple Pilots, and producer Brendan O'Brien. I find the rawness in this "jam" version to be especially haunting.



"Wichita Lineman"

Jimmy Webb has composed a number of famous songs, including others brought to life by Glen Campbell. Fortunately, I don't have to pick a favorite, but "Wichita Lineman" would be a strong contender.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From Major City to El Oceano

There are two routes you can take when penning fiction in an urban environment. You can either fictionalize a real city, or you can just make up your own out of whole cloth. They both have their own merits. Using a real city gives the reader a sense of familiarity, but you also have people that will not appreciate your diverging from reality or just plain getting stuff wrong (and you will). On the other hand, a fictional city gives you a lot more flexibility, but also can serve to diminish the connection to the real world.

From my frame of reference, it's the DC/Marvel thing. At DC, Superman is in Metropolis and Batman is in Gotham City, and these two burgs can co-exist despite both being analogous to New York. Hey, they can even somehow co-exist WITH New York, which is where even I have trouble rationalizing the matter. Meanwhile, over at Marvel, the main stomping ground for their superheroes was established fairly early as being New York City. Of course, things like Avengers Mansion don't exist in the authentic Big Apple (sadly). In practice, Marvel's New York is only a smidgen more connected to reality than the homes of the Daily Planet and stately Wayne Manor.

I made a decision in the process of defining my personal superhero universe (the "Owariverse", if you will) that I was unconcerned with having any meaningful connection to reality. I wanted a world where I had the latitude to do what I wanted, without having to concern myself with pesky "facts" if they didn't serve my storytelling purpose. I mean, you've seen the sort of characters that I'm using. So I decided that a fictional city was the way to go for me.

I've been using the name "Major City" so long and with such a straight face that I think I have ALMOST been successful in disguising the fact that it began life as a joke. Think about it - the terminology "a major city" has been used forever and a day when the creators want to be vague and generic. I just converted that generic label into a proper name and arrived at Major City. Be thankful I didn't go for "Big City"; Lord knows I am.

As time has passed, I've tried to ground Major City in its own (admittedly far-fetched) version of reality. I even dreamt up a justification for the name by concocting the Major family and positing that the city had been founded by their ancestor Calvin Major. I've filled in the spaces around Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson by establishing such diverse elements as MTI, Lightning Cars, The Major City Courier, the Mando Building (one of my all-time favorite obscure in-jokes), Mayor Rudy Boemer, and the DeKalb Television Network. Oh wait, I haven't actually established the latter two just yet. Don't worry; we'll get to it.

Obviously, in my world, Major City takes the place of New York. But what about the rest of the country? While I had made the decision that the rest of the world was sufficiently "exotic" for my goals (and I'd probably louse up trying to alter such locales anyway), the rest of the United States was still in play. I kind of wanted at least one other fictional city to serve as contrast to Major City. And if Major City was Fake!New York, the logical choice was to create a Fake!Los Angeles.

My first instinct in creating a California city was to make it a west coast Major City, and give it a Spanish version of the name. This led me to Ciudad Importante via Babelfish, and...wow, yeah, I couldn't do it. I tried other options that meant approximately the same thing like Ciudad Grande, but there was just something missing. I wanted a name that rolled off the tongue easily whether you were a Spanish speaker or not, and the word "ciudad" seemed a mite too difficult for a pseudo-comic book name.

I abandoned the search for a western Major City and turned instead to deconstructing the name "Los Angeles". You know, when you think about it, it's kind of strange for a city to be named "The Angels". However, due to the shortening of its original lengthy name, Los Angeles now has a name that seems unlikely when translated. I could work with this.

After a lot of thought, and more than a few attempts, I settled on "El Oceano" as the name of my L.A. counterpart. In Spanish, El Océano obviously means "The Ocean". And really, is that any more absurd than a city named "The Angels"? Plus, it gave me the opportunity for a fun musical reference when I announced in a "Twitter exclusive" that El Oceano had been founded by Spaniards Roberto Planta & Jaime Página. Now really, how did I come up with that?

I'm still in the process of figuring out how I want my world to operate. Are the other cities "replaced", or are Major City and El Oceano the only stand-ins? It seems strange to me that New York might not exist, but (for example) Baltimore would. I don't know how I'll handle it. But it's fun to bat these things around, especially when they open up even more story possibilities for consideration.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ROJ - Mission Accomplished

Since I mentioned "Return of Jetman" yesterday, it seems only fitting to revisit this entry now that a year has passed. Having re-read it myself a few minutes ago, I'd just like to say "Yipee!"

2010 was the year that I finally finished the second series that began in 2005. This was also the year that I transferred the entire site to a new blog set-up, and added text pieces to pages that have lacked them since the site launched back in 2002. It was quite the eventful year for that humble little fanfic.

Despite accomplishing a lot, there is still work I need to do with ROJ. However, I haven't been sweating it. It will come in time, and I strongly suspect that time will be next year.

I'll be going into a little more depth regarding my ROJ plans on the site on Friday. If you're interested, you can check out all the big fun at www.returnofjetman.com! In the meantime, let me bask some more in the glow of finishing that story.

Monday, December 27, 2010

OWARI #2 (May 1996)


When we discussed OWARI #1 back in September, my longtime collaborator Lewis Smith opined that OWARI #2 felt like the "first" OWARI issue to him. Why? He said it was because things started going in a direction in which only the people involved could take them. I had honestly never thought of it in that way, but I must admit, he's onto something.

OWARI #2 was something I had always planned on doing, but it was not a foregone conclusion that it would happen quickly, or that it would take shape the way that it did. However, certain things happened that accelerated its production, and I trotted out my second issue in relatively short order. It is dated May 1996, and I tried to apply the lessons of my first issue to improve my product. The results turned out to be mixed.

We'll begin with the cover, which I remind you is represented here in its layout form. That's why there are no staples and the image looks much sharper than in actual copies of OWARI #2. I've also done some digital correction in a few places, but that's mostly to smooth out some of the rougher edges that are apparent in this raw state.

The first thing you will notice is the brand-new OWARI logo, which I still use to this day. I had already decided to ditch the logo seen on #1, but my replacement for it wasn't appreciably better. You see, I had resolved to retain the hiragana portion of that first logo, and just render "OWARI" in type beneath it - if I included it at all! Happily, Rob Perchaluk surprised me with the gift of a new logo sheet. I have mostly lost touch with Rob over the years, but I've always tried to credit him for his generosity. My only true regret is that I've rarely had the opportunity to use the "big" version in all its splendor. But you'll be seeing it eventually.

The rest of the cover is largely self-explanatory. I elected to go with a photo cover of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE, which reflected my main article in the issue (more on this soon). I've since discovered that my source for this image was apparently "flopped", as all of the posters I've seen have the Rangers on the opposite sides. I'll be honest and confess that I did not notice this at all for years. I slapped the movie's logo on the bottom, just in case anyone was confused. The "#2" and its accompanying circle were also part of Rob's wonderful design work. Oh, and look carefully at the lower righthand corner. Yes, I totally numbered the cover as Page 1!

Sometimes, I don't give the 23-year old Chris enough credit for his foresight. Tucked away in a largely unremarkable editorial is this prophecy of the future of OWARI:
However, I have lots of other interests, so OWARI will likely include things not pertaining to [the Japanese sci-fi] genre. [...] Basically, OWARI is about whatever I want it to be about.
I don't even remember writing this, but it turned out to be the only way OWARI survived at all. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The feature article of this issue is "A Final Look at MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE or The Last Temptation of Chris". This is an extensive review of the MMPR film from the previous year, and it is probably one of the longest pieces I ever wrote during my fanzine days. It is also more or less my farewell to Power Rangers fandom, though I would do a couple of things pertaining to it in the future. There are a lot of jokes and insights in this article that I still like a lot, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of it is its origin, and how it served as the catalyst for OWARI #2 happening so quickly.

My first "break" when it came to this writing thing was when Dan Reed accepted my work for publication in his fanzine Kaiju Review in 1994. I wrote several features for Kaiju Review, and after seeing the Power Rangers film, wrote up a review of it that I sent to Mr. Reed. However, unlike my prior submissions, he chose not to print that piece.

At this late date, my memory is that the review was rejected due to length. I can certainly understand if that was the case. Using that review as it was would have meant devoting more pages to the Rangers than much of the audience would have wanted, and it's entirely possible that editing it down seemed like too much effort for such a piece.

I was, however, undeterred, and decided to repurpose that review (with Mr. Reed's encouragement) into an article for OWARI. But I didn't just print the original, oh no; I opted instead to redo the whole thing from the ground up and EXPAND upon what had already been a sizable number of words to spend on a Power Rangers movie. This sort of thing has always been a hallmark of mine, but I like to think I've gotten smarter in my approach to it.

I rounded out the MMPR coverage with a not-quite exhaustive but very much exhausting credit page for the film. I guess I did this for my own benefit, since no one much cared. Not even I had the patience to transcribe the entire credits, but I did notice a pair of fun trivia notes from them. One was that R.J. Kizer, the director of the American scenes for GODZILLA 1985, served as ADR supervisor for Power Rangers film. The other was even more esoteric, if you can believe it: Robert Simper, who was one of the actors in the Ultraman suit for ULTRAMAN: TOWARDS THE FUTURE (aka ULTRAMAN GREAT), appeared in a small role. How do you like that?

The next feature was the first installment of Lewis Smith's "Return of Jetman" series. We discussed the behind-the-scenes making of THAT little adventure last year, so I'll let you scour the archives if you can't remember the tale. The frontpiece that led off the story can be seen on this page, and the current version of that first story can be read here.

The conclusion of ROJ only took up about a third of a page, so I used the rest to print a stunning portrait of Gigan by Jerry Lange. I am not sure if he is the same artist as this Gerald Lange, but I was thrilled that he offered me the chance to print his work in my cheap fanzine. If that is the same person, he's come a long way since then...and he was already quite good.

I closed out the main portion of the 'zine with an article on GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH, or whatever the hell that movie is called. It was a bit irreverent, with a couple of bits I should think about resurrecting one of these days. I also chose to accompany it with a cartoon I drew during WHEEL OF FORTUNE (I have no idea why I remember that part). This was the first time I unleashed the Elam masterworks on the world, but it would by no means be the last.

Gojira Shizu by ~celamowari on deviantART

That was pretty much it. Oh, there were a few unrelated "O-Factoids" filling out the last page of the MMPR movie review. There was the final page that included acknowledgments and a teaser promising the next issue would include a feature on WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY?, a movie I desperately felt needed to be linked to Japanese sci-fi fandom. There was even the doctored photo that had debuted on the OWARI flier, which was produced between issues #1 and #2 and was pretty awesome except for that part where I neglected to include a contact address on it. But really, that was OWARI #2. And that was the problem.

Of course, OWARI had plenty of problems. I was still cranking it out on a typewriter and pasting it up by hand (in the case of the ROJ story, pasting edits onto the only version of that draft in existence!). I was still printing it single-sided, too. I hadn't figured out the way to maximize my photo material for publication yet, leading to much muddier reproduction of the illustrations for the MMPR and GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH articles. OK, OK, they looked downright awful. I knew all of that. Then it was pointed out to me that, despite going to 20 pages, I covered less stuff than I had in 14 pages in my first issue. And a big portion of this issue was devoted to the intensely polarizing (and widely-disliked in the Godzilla community) Power Rangers franchise.

Oops.

But it was too late to turn back, and really, I don't think I would have done so anyway. OWARI #2 was what it was, and I considered it a victory that I managed to publish it even though my personal life was going to hell in a handbasket at the time. Unfortunately, I didn't get to share that victory with nearly as many people.

Was it the Power Rangers? Was it the fact that I raised the price (out of pure necessity) to $2.00 for #2? Was it disappointment with OWARI #1? Was it my admittedly shaky layout skills (which went into both good and bad directions in #2)? Was it something else? I don't know, but demand for the second issue was much smaller. Based on orders for #1, I "conservatively" printed up 50 copies of OWARI #2. That was in 1996; today, in 2010, I still have a copy sitting next to me. Several other copies went to folks reading this blog. I even burned one out of sheer frustration several years ago. It was clear I hadn't built much of an audience, no matter how many people had gotten their hands on OWARI #1.

It was time to go back to the drawing board. Still, I had published OWARI #2, and that was better than a lot of people probably had anticipated.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Little Bit Extra Via Witless Prattle

Hey there folks! As you might remember, I linked to "The Whole Damn Thing: THE OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE (1983)" by my buddy Kazekage back in the early days of this month, shortly after I had contributed a guest write-up for one of the entries. Well, Kaze has finished this massive undertaking, and I came along to help him out.

If you'd like to see some bonus content from me (which includes the sort of bad words I usually avoid on OWARI), I contributed to the entries for #10, #12, and #15, in addition to the one for #4 discussed earlier. Of course, I commented on EVERY entry, so you'll be seeing plenty of me if you click over and check it out. And believe me, it's worth it!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Morty and Danny

As you might recall from my incessant yapping about my superhero cast, Blue Behemoth and Drone Man are college buddies that embarked on the hero thing at about the same time. When I commissioned Kabuki Katze to create Blue Behemoth's Bulletin Board for me a few months ago, one of the elements I asked her to incorporate was an ID badge for BB's former human identity, Mortimer Kane.


In case you are wondering, the ID is damaged due to the accident that changed little Mortimer into the boisterous Blue Behemoth.

Well sir, I loved the way Kabu captured the unabashed dorkiness I had attributed to Morty. This got me thinking that it would be fun to use the same template for his pal Danny Graham. Recently, I commissioned just such a thing.


Like it? You can comment here, or tell Kabuki yourself right here!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Find This Inexplicably Hilarious

From the entry on THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW (page 808) in The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-Present (Fourth Edition) by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh (1988):

Short, bizarre animated segments aired between the live-action sketches; after a few months these began to focus on a rather strange family.

The part that makes me laugh? They couldn't be bothered to actually mention the name of that "rather strange family". It's not like that's going to be important, right?

(I kid, but this book is pretty amazing. I have no idea if there is a version of it still in print, given the changes in the TV landscape over the years.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lordwormm Strikes Twice

"Lordwormm" is a guy that always surprises you. Just when you think he can't break out any more fab fanart of your characters, he does it TWICE!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Wild Thing Kind Of Night

Back in high school, I spent a couple of years as the video cameraman for our basketball team. It was an interesting experience, and I went to a lot of games all over the place. That meant a lot of time riding the bus. One night, everyone on the bus shared a slightly surreal radio moment.

I don't exactly remember when this was, but you can narrow it down to late '88/early '89 or late '89/early '90. We were returning from a game one night, and it was cold and dark already. As we drove through Lake Charles, the late night D.J. on radio station Bayou 104 made a rather strange proclamation.

I should pause here and tell you that KBIU, Bayou 104, was the rock station in my area in the 1980s. If you wanted contemporary rock, it was where you turned to on the dial. KBIU still technically exists, but it has since changed formats multiple times and does not resemble the station of my youth except that it is playing many of the same songs it did then. It's not even at the same number.

Anyway, as we are toodling along on the bus, the D.J. apparently loses his mind. He says that he is going to play Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" continuously until women in bikinis show up at the station. Don't forget, it's cold, dark, and late already when he issues this ultimatum. "Wild Thing" begins, and we all sort of laugh at this man's insane folly.

We stopped at Burger King to eat, and everyone unloaded and promptly forgot about "Wild Thing". Then, after at least a half hour of Whoppers and paper crowns (we WERE high school kids), we get back on the bus and learn that "WILD THING" IS STILL PLAYING ON THE RADIO.

If you have forgotten, this is "Wild Thing":

Monday, December 13, 2010

My World : The Psychedelic Man


Dr. Clive Frye was considered a maverick among his fellow scientists at an obscure west coast facility. He had become obsessed with the wild idea of tapping into alien dimensions in the search for alternative fuel sources. The other researchers warned Frye of the dangers of tampering in areas he didn't fully comprehend, but he refused to be deterred.

It all went horribly wrong one day, and Dr. Clive Frye paid a terrible price for his hubris. What precisely happened - what Dr. Frye saw and experienced - remains unknown to this day. The result, however, was that "Clive Frye" effectively ceased to exist. In his place was a being that called itself "The Psychedelic Man."

The Psychedelic Man is not human, but rather a type of organic color. His "body" is actually a largely translucent shell that contains his true form - a kaleidoscope of swirling and changing colors. He can alter his physical form according to his whims, and has displayed the ability to stretch and even split off body parts.

Clive Frye's mind was twisted by the process that transmuted him into the Psychedelic Man, and his chief goal now is destruction. He has clashed with the duo of Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson, and with the Invincible Alliance. Though defeated and seemingly destroyed on more than one occasion, the Psychedelic Man always returns.


You might recall that the Psychedelic Man was the spark that ignited my creation of several new cast members for the Captain Satellite world. The problem was the original picture, although pretty much how I envisioned it in the dream that birthed him, wasn't especially effective. There was something about the execution that I felt was lacking, and so I decided to rethink my approach to the character.

The breakthrough came when I elected to try to make my own "psychedelic" background in PhotoShop, rather than mixing crayons for his palette (limiting) or using pre-existing imagery. I spent awhile just drawing in different colors on a transparent background and testing effects. When I was satisfied with what I had, I rendered most of the character's body transparent and laid him over the background. Voila!

The Psychedelic Man owes his existence to the fact that I have always been fascinated with psychedelic music and imagery. Heck, I even like the word, and used it as part of the title of one of my fake comic books back in high school. So it wasn't really a surprise that this character surfaced in that fateful dream.

In fleshing him out, the Psychedelic Man got a human identity named for actors Colin Clive and Dwight Frye, in honor of the characters they portrayed in the 1931 Universal films FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, respectively. The Psychedelic Man himself has liberal doses of such pre-existing characters as Chemo (Metal Men foe), the Infinity Man (Legion of Super-Heroes foe), Metamorpho, and the M.F. Enterprises version of Captain Marvel.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Great Godzilla Hoax

Over the last couple of months, I have learned of the existence of "movies" with titles like ATTACK OF THE GALACTIC MONSTERS and MONSTER KING GODZILLA. There is always some vague tale describing the supposed origins of these cut & paste jobs mixing Godzilla stuff with lesser-known Toho spfx movies. And, in fairness, these films look to be enjoyable for what they are.

The problem is that they aren't real.

These are almost certainly fan edits. Though I won't pretend to understand exactly why they were created, I don't object to their existence. Heck, they can be fun in their own right. Where I do have a problem is when they are presented as authentic movies. This is where I draw a line in the sand. It's OK to make up a story to go with your project, but DO NOT pass it off as "fact". That's completely irresponsible, and does a disservice to both the Japanese monster fandom and film history in general.

Why so adamant? A lot of people (including me!) have spent a lot of time trying to piece together an accurate portrait of the Japanese science-fiction film's history. The last thing we need is to start muddying the waters with spurious yarns tied to something put together by a fan with a computer and some software. It's bad enough already that we're relying on the wildly uneven IMDB for data. I could probably demonstrate two dozen errors related to Japanese productions on that site without really trying. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if someone has tried to slip these two productions onto it at some point.

As I mentioned in the comments over at Xenorama, I once toyed with the notion of writing a hoax film review of the abandoned Toho/Hammer co-production NESSIE. If I had, or do, you can be darn sure it will be an obvious work of fiction. Even then, you just know some people will think it's "real".

On a lighter note, I am most offended that the creator of ATTACK OF THE GALACTIC MONSTERS chose to ignore the title STARGODZILLA for this Frankenstein-like patchwork. I mean, the title is RIGHT THERE for you to apply to your fake movie!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Few Fire-Based Golden Age Heroes

I was doing a little research earlier for a project of mine, and I thought it would be fun to include a few links to characters that fit the title description.

I'm not exactly sure why I have an affinity for vintage fire characters, but I do. Even among their 1930s and 40s brethren, they stand out to me and I go, "Yeah!" It's a dynamic visual, that's for sure.

The most famous fire hero is probably the Human Torch. However, he wasn't even the first. That MAY (and I stress may because I am no historian on such matters) have been the Flame. Man, I love his look.

Other worth mentioning are Pyroman (not actually flame-based!) and Wildfire. All of these guys have found their way into my work, as have the first couple of incarnations of Firebrand. But if you've been paying attention, you can probably tell.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

My World : Rex Coronado


Rex Coronado is the executive director of C.H.I.E.F. (Command Headquarters International Espionage Force). The son of Mexican immigrants, he is deeply proud of the United States, and will fight to defend it with his last breath. He wears sunglasses at all times to disguise the fact that he has a glass right eye. Rex is cantankerous seemingly beyond reason, but has been known to display a sharp sense of humor when least expected. Never one to be underestimated, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission.


Creating this individual profile for Rex Coronado almost feels like cheating. The text is lifted verbatim from his entry in my "Non-Supers Profiles", and one of the points of that piece was that I wouldn't be drawing those guys.

Well, that was the plan. But Rex here has evolved into something a little bit more than just a non-super supporting character. As he kept turning up in other profiles, it only seemed fair to give him his own dedicated entry. So here we are.

An interesting thing happened in the creation of this picture. What you see is my first pass at Rex. I kept trying to improve on it, but ultimately decided that there was too much about this version that I liked. I hadn't intended Rex to be either bald or have such odd proportions, but found myself going along with it the more I looked at him. I mean, nothing is written in stone that a secret agent's suit can't be ill-fitting.

Truthfully, Rex is still kinda boring visually in my style. The shades help, as does the tie, but really - I'm not entirely suited to make "normal" looking people look dynamic. Still, this will do until someone else can take a crack at him someday.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson by Kabuki Katze (2007)


Sara wasn't the only one who did surprise artwork of my characters in 2007. The date on the above image sent to me by Kabuki Katze is May 22, 2007. I have no recollection of her reasoning as to why she set pencil to paper to draw Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson. But boy, am I glad she did!

I have a number of "work in progress" sketches like this from Kabuki kicking around in my folders, but I usually don't post them. I have to make an exception here, because this is as far as this particular piece ever got. Despite the fact that she included a color guide, Kabuki never did anything else with this one. Why? My memory is fuzzy, but I believe she expressed a dissatisfaction with the proportions of the characters? Perhaps she will pop in here and explain. That is, assuming she hasn't hunted me down like a dirty dog for posting it in the first place. See, there was a reason I sought permission prior to launching this nostalgic series! Muhahahaha!

Kidding aside, I loved this picture. It didn't hurt that it was one I got to see live and in person in her sketchbook. The memory of it was so indelible that it led me to commission Kabuki to do the Cap/Shelly pic you previously saw here and here. So in a sense, it is only appropriate to close out the 2010 portion of our review of vintage Cap art with this sketch, since it is in many ways the genesis of all the Kabuki Katze commissions you have seen here at OWARI during the calendar year. Hats off to ya, Kabu! (And I'll be sure to spotlight more of your recent work before we hit 2011!)

But don't think for a moment this is the last bit of pre-2010 artwork I have up my sleeve. There will be more in the coming year. Watch for it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Elders Of The Universe

If you read my brother in battle Kazekage's Witless Prattle (and if not, why not?), you know that he has been going through the original Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe one issue at a time for our perverse amusement. This is doubly amusing for me, since I'm the guy who sent him a full 15 issue run of the thing not long ago. You can read those entries under the "Marvel Handbook" tag right here if you are so inclined. Trust me, it's fun.

Oh, perhaps I should mention that I have guest-written one of these summaries. That would be this one:

ELDERS OF THE UNIVERSE--While these write-ups have done an excellent job of beating these guys with a lead pipe in their individual entries, I just want to point out how impressed I am that SOMEONE decided to gather together a bunch of second-rate characters and make them into a "race" hinged on the high concept that they are eccentric old men...FROM SPACE. What I'm trying to say is that we were this close to seeing Howard Hughes as a cosmic villain dubbed "The Hider".


The more I think about it, the more fascinated I am that the Elders of the Universe exist as a collective at all. I am pretty sure that was not the original intent for the earliest characters grouped under that label. Heck, I haven't really been able to figure out who declared them "the Elders of the Universe" at all! But yes, the high concept is that 1) they are very old and 2) they bring new meaning to the word "obsession" in a way that even the band Animotion couldn't have imagined.

Think I'm kidding? We'll take a look at each individual Elder covered in that Handbook entry. I'm waving off discussing any further members, since eventually it got to the point that they were making up characters just to BE Elders. That sort of diminishes the value of them as a bizarre mishmash of random super codgers.

COLLECTOR - Whereas he started out small, with coins, stamps and the odd superhero team, his mania has reached the point where he now "collects" empty milk jugs and newspaper clippings of celebrity birthday lists.

GRANDMASTER - He's the guy who shows up and always wants to play dominoes, bridge, or (*shudder*) cribbage. Feared throughout the Space VFW.

GARDNER - The one who just wants to tend to his plants, so leave him alone already. Why isn't his weapon a space hose? And you kids, get off his lawn!

POSSESSOR - This clown didn't even rate an individual entry, which is a worse showing than the Gardner. This leads me to the conclusion that even the other Elders try to avoid him. He probably only "possesses" the center of the road as he creeps along at a leisurely 15 miles per hour.

CONTEMPLATOR - He's the one in the group who is always trying to "figure it out", through whatever belief system he discovered in the AARP (Alien Association of Retired Persons) bulletin. Either that, or as Lewis sagely pointed out, the one in adult diapers.

CHAMPION - The workout freak, who insists you're never too old to be in great shape. He'd be even more annoying if everyone wasn't positive he was compensating for something. They just don't want to know what it is, but the empty Viagra bottle the Gardner found in his tulips is probably a clue.

That pretty much sums up everything you need to know about the Elders of the Universe.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Funky Worm

The Ohio Players are primarily revered today for their pair of #1 pop hits, "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster". That is how it should be, because absurd urban legends aside, they are two amazingly catchy funk songs. What is sometimes lost in the shuffle, however, is that the Ohio Players charted EIGHT songs in the pop Top 40, and 21 additional songs on either the Pop or R&B Top 100s. You can't really call them a band that got lucky once or twice. They did it consistently for 20 years.

In 2010, I finally got to hear the song "Funky Worm", which was the first Top 40 pop hit for the Players. It is absolutely delightful. Part novelty record, part funk instrumental, it manages to make you laugh while instilling in your brain a killer groove that just won't quit. I am in no way surprised that it has been sampled extensively in more recent years.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Watch Atomic Rulers Of The World Here!

Are you one of those poor souls who has never had the pleasure of enjoying a Starman film? Starman, if you are unaware, is considered the first true live-action Japanese superhero. (We won't deal with Ogon Batto right now!) The character, originally named "Supergiants", appeared in a series of featurettes that were edited together into four feature films sold directly to television in the United States.

The Starman films are not only massively entertaining, but COMPLETELY INSANE. But this entry isn't about educating you about Starman. Rather, it exists to tell you that now you can fill the void in your life if you have never experienced Starman. As it happens, I recently discovered that ATOMIC RULERS (the first Starman film) is on Youtube in its entirety under its longer title ATOMIC RULERS OF THE WORLD. Not broken up into chapters, but the whole thing in one easy video. It's a golden opportunity to see if you would like Starman! And really, why wouldn't you?

A few things you should know before you watch this:

1)I have not watched this video in full, because I already own the movie on DVD. I have already noted that the opening titles and credits have been deleted, so there could be other issues.

2)This copy is obviously sourced from Sinister Cinema's print, and I do not know if it was done with permission or not. At least I am providing Sinister with a link, which is more than the uploader did.

3)You may have to watch at least one terrible commercial.

Remember this is free, folks. Just sayin'.

So, without further ado, here it is, ATOMIC RULERS OF THE WORLD!



ATOMIC RULERS OF THE WORLD


The Starman films are all on DVD, but I can't guarantee their continued availability. Better snatch 'em up while you have the chance!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

XOXO, Roxy

It is the first day of December, and that means there is a chill in the air in many areas. So let's take a page from our friends in the Southern Hemisphere and look at something that will make us forget those frigid temperatures.


Yep, that's Roxanne Prize, aka Firegirl, as she was seen on Blue Behemoth's Bulletin Board. I've had this larger version of that snapshot for awhile, just waiting for the right moment to post it.

Art by the super-duper Kabuki Katze!