Sunday, July 31, 2011
So what, right? Well, for me, that's huge. I had never done it since I launched this blog. I've tried to pick my spots and not force myself to post an entry unless I thought it had at least some minor value. As a result, I have skipped posting entries if I didn't feel like I had anything in the tank.
I came close a few times. December 2010 had 29 entries, and that was because I skipped a weekend in the middle of the month. If I had known how close I would wind up being, I might have found something for those two days! Similarly, I missed two days in the first weeks of February 2011, and I came up short as a result then, too.
The difference this time was that I realized fairly early in the month that I had the opportunity to make this happen. Ironically, it came because Blogger went down on me at the end of June and pushed a late night post into the next day. I had ORIGINALLY intended to hit my 500th entry (remember that?) on Friday, July 1st, and then possibly skip a day or two. When that entry got pushed back to Saturday - and when a lengthy post examining my superhero universe's continuity managed to get finished on July 4th - we were well on our way to reaching a goal I had never intended to pursue in July.
I consider this a one-off deal, by the way. Though it was fun to concoct 31 separate entries in July, it necessitated putting some other things on the backburner for a bit. This is likely what it would be like if I were 100% committed to doing a review/observation blog and nothing else, but I just like to work on my own stuff, too. That's why I'll probably never worry about doing this again now that I have done it once.
My one regret about being so prolific in July is that I fear some entries got less exposure than I would've given them in a typical month. I managed to turn out a lot of entries that fascinated ME these past 31 days, and I thought I'd give you a list of a few that you might want to check out if you missed them the first time. Though, if you want to read the whole month again, I sure won't stop you...
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Now, I have a dilemma. I think Trout Mask Replica is brilliant and a work of mad genius. But there is no way in good conscience I can recommend it to most people I know. Trout Mask Replica is also the single weirdest collection of music I have ever listened to in all my years.
On my first listen, Trout Mask Replica sounds for all the world like a bunch of people who can't play. That is as far as some folks get. Even if they finish it, they are convinced it's just bad playing. On the contrary - if you listen carefully, you realize that the band isn't playing poorly. No, there is no way you could keep hitting the same mark over and over if you couldn't play. It's just the music is not what we generally expect from music.
In attempting to explain it, I told someone it sounded like organized chaos. I realize that sounds like an oxymoron, but I can't think of a label that fits better. It's a challenge to listen to playing that is so discordant, but it can become strangely compelling if you can get it into the right frame of mind.
There's also the lyrics. They are almost like free association instead of standard phrasing. The wordplay is clever and it paints pictures in your mind. It's just that, instead of something people can understand, they get surrealism in its place.
Perhaps my favorite moment is the seemingly unplanned interlude at the end of an instrumental piece. It was apparently one of the numbers the band was performing outside, and the performance concludes with a pair of innocent passers-by wandering up. Beefheart engages them in a conversation as a dog barks in the background! The moments when we get glimpses into the making of the album and realize that real life was just as freaking weird as the music being recorded are the parts I think I like best of all.
Trout Mask Replica is a confounding work even 40 years after the fact. I personally loved it. You might find it the CD equivalent of nails on a blackboard. If you are feeling adventurous, seek it out and see how you react.
Friday, July 29, 2011
To answer my own question, Captain America: Rebirth #1 is a collection of old Silver Age Cap stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, recolored and linked via a new framing sequence. The fabulousness of the Lee/Kirby material is not in question - the only question is whether you need it in this form. To which I reply no, but it's a cheap sampler if you don't own any of them.
I am not opposed to modern coloring techniques on old comics. Quite frankly, such an approach made much of Marvel Comics #1 from 1939 bearable to me. However, the advances mean that it's a lot more complex than just picking colors. That's why I can say I wasn't crazy about the coloring on the Cap origin, but was OK with the rest of the reprints. Different colorists, different styles.
As for the framing sequence, Karl Kesel is back, and no, you aren't the only one to notice I seem to buy a lot of comics that he has a hand in producing. The framing story is a nice idea, but it suffers considerably from the fact that World War II ended over 60 years ago. Now, I realize WWII will always be a part of the Cap mythos, and that is how it should be. My credulity suffers when we bring in all these other, seemingly unrelated people to tie into the war.
The fact that Kesel has to make Cap's co-star in the framing story the great-granddaughter of the military brass who serves as the topic of discussion really underscores this point. The generational distance really lessens the impact for me. She's still worried about something her great-grandfather did? People are still talking about it over 60 years later? Really? It was kinda pushing it to make this sort of thing work by the 1990s, and sadly, it will only get worse as time marches on. I have joked in the past that, as far as modern comics are concerned, World War II will ALWAYS be "twenty years ago". I sometimes think there is more truth to that than I fully grasp.
The reprints included are one of the main culprits of this mindset, because they are such crackling good yarns of WWII as written and drawn in the 1960s. The origins of both Captain America and the Red Skull are on display, and are wonderful examples of storytelling. The Silver Age Cap series is among my faves from Sixties Marvel, and these examples are as good a reason as any to plunk down five for this book.
It's a good book. The coloring is hit and miss for me, but isn't too distracting. And despite my quibbling, Kesel's framing sequence is professional and sets a proper tone for the reprints being showcased. I hope I'm not being too picky above, since it's a nicely-drawn and written batch of pages. I just have a lot of trouble getting over that particular hurdle.
Captain America: Rebirth #1 should still be on sale from your friendly neighborhood funnybook dealer.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Flashback to 1986, if you will. I was a teenage boy and I loved rap music. No, seriously! I've often said that the only thing I really remember from the 1980s is rap lyrics. Yes, I was a white kid who lived in the middle of the country in the south in the mid-80s and I loved rap music. So I guess I am one of those people who propelled the genre to its heights today. (I don't follow it that much now, but that's a whole other story.)
Rap was still not accepted as anything other than a novelty at that time. Believe me, I was there. Calling in a request for even Run-D.M.C. - by then one of the biggest rap groups around - was a surefire ticket to getting ignored. Until, that is, "Walk This Way" came around.
"Walk This Way" really and truly opened doors that had been closed to rap music on Top 40 radio. You can credit Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for making that possible. Their presence made that record hard to ignore for even the most steadfast rock curmudgeons, and helped it reach #4 on the charts. That's higher than Aerosmith's original even reached.
Ironically, I had missed out on Aerosmith during their heyday, so I had no idea who they were! All I knew was that "Walk This Way" was amazing. Later, Aerosmith used the momentum they had received from Run-D.M.C. to make themselves relevant and successful again. Win/win!
The video, to me, is rich with symbolism. The first half illustrates the lack of acceptance between rap and rock, and the second half shows them coming together. When Run-D.M.C. joins Tyler and Perry onstage and an audience that reads as entirely white cheers, it feels like a powerful sign that rap could be accepted by a mass audience. And I'll admit, it gives me a little bit of a chill. Yeah, it's just a fun little video, but is also a critical turning point.
Oh, and I still have my 45 of this song. Beat that!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Contrary to appearances, I have been working on those off and on. It's just been slow-going due to many other projects filling my time. However, I've not forgotten ROJ, and urge you to check it out!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Check it out! Naomi will love you if you do! (not really)
Monday, July 25, 2011
My father passed away in May 1998, and that was probably the lowest point of a period of about two-three years that I would not number as among the great times of my personal life. Still, eventually I had to come back up, and I had already started that climb. It was slow, but it was happening. In this environment, I had a birthday. It was my 26th birthday, for the record.
I had the day off, and I went out with my mom and my sister. We ate out, went shopping, and just had the chance to spend time together. One of my informal presents was receiving a copy of the book Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo! at the bookstore. Since I wasn't driving, I was eagerly perusing my copy shortly after purchase.
I was floored. My name was on the Acknowledgments Page! I had corresponded with Mr. Galbraith a little, but I had never dreamed I had helped him enough to warrant getting my name in a book! And yet, there was "Chris Elam" listed among a great many names I recognized and respected.
I have had many birthdays in my life, and hopefully will have many more to come. The surprise and delight I experienced on July 25th, 1998 when I first learned that my name was in an honest-to-goodness book will probably rank it as among the most memorable. The book thing was shocking enough, but to find out on my birthday? Crazy!
Thank you, Stuart Galbraith IV, for unwittingly making my day 13 years ago. Thank you Mom and Amy for being there to share it with me. And thank you to all my friends and readers, for sharing this birthday with me.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
- "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" - Reunion
- "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" - Mac & Katie Kissoon
- "Mr. Heatmiser" - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
- "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line" - John Doe
- "The Rapper" - Jaggerz
- "Dancing In The Moonlight" - King Harvest
* "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" is possibly the most embarrassing song I will ever buy. I'm sorry, it's damn catchy! Also, I got it for free, so that helped.
* The "Mr. Heatmiser" incorporates both the songs of Heatmiser and Snowmiser from THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS. It's freakin' awesome.
* The John Doe song is from a Waylon Jennings tribute album. Yes, that is the same John Doe that was bassist in the legendary punk band X.
What looks good (or alternately, doesn't) to you?
Saturday, July 23, 2011
According to sources, it was the December 9, 1989 episode of Saturday Night Live. Robert Wagner was the guest host, and there was one sketch in particular from that show that burned itself into my cerebral cortex. However, I never saw it again, and it seemed as if I was the only person who remembered it.
Well, I'm not. Turns out, the sketch supposedly made advertisers nervous and some pulled out. Not sure if THAT part is true or not, but I get the feeling that the assertion it was barred from ever being broadcast again is fact. There's also the meaningless to most everyone at the time revelation that the sketch was written by Conan O'Brien. Y'know, knowing what I know now? I see it.
You can, too. Someone uploaded it onto Funny Or Die. The sound isn't the greatest, but what can you do? It still holds up pretty well, but fair warning - this is probably both NSFW and not something for those easily offended. Yes, even though it was on network television over 20 years ago.
One of my favorite SNL sketches of all!
Friday, July 22, 2011
Bone Ghidorah by ~celamowari on deviantART
Back in early 1996, Toho Company was preparing a new Mothra film (called REBIRTH OF MOTHRA in the U.S.) for release later in the year. Mothra's opponent in the movie was to be a variation on the classic monster King Ghidorah. Ultimately, the monster was revealed to be called "Death Ghidorah" (or "Desghidorah"). Early rumors said the name for this beast might be "Bone Ghidorah."
Now, that was a joke too good to pass up. You see, Cartoon Books' comic book Bone was a super hot commodity in those days. And there are three Bone cousins. And King Ghidorah has three heads.
From left to right : Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone, Fone Bone.
This piece was intended for publication in OWARI #4 in 1997, but fell by the wayside when the fanzine went on hiatus for a couple of years. It made its first public appearance in 2005.
Bone ® & © Jeff Smith. King Ghidorah ® & © Toho Company Limited.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Marvel has sure been thrifty lately. They've been releasing various inventory stories that, for one reason or another, never saw print. Instead of going the Marvel Fanfare route and establishing an ongoing series, they've instead been putting them out as one-shots. I have to admire the ingenuity, in that it generates lots of first issues.
Most of the inventory tales either released or solicited have been from the last two decades. The glaring exception is Incredible Hulk & the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault #1, which utilizes an inventory story done for Marvel Team-Up in the early 1980s. The GCD says 1984, but I'm not even sure that's right. MTU ended that year (cover date Feb. 1985), and the last time the Hulk was replacing Spidey semi-regularly as the star of the book was 1981. Still, stranger things have happened, so the date could be accurate after all.
There is literally nothing special about the original story - at least, the evidence of it that remains. Jack C. Harris' turned out a workmanlike story, and Steve Ditko did a competent enough job in pencilling it. I realize I am not exactly being effusive here, but gosh, this is an inventory story that's been in a drawer for close to 30 years. It's not going to be a lost masterpiece.
That's not say Karl Kesel didn't try. He supplies both dialogue and inks and remakes the story into something a touch more contemporary. I have no idea how faithful he was to the basics of Harris' original script (I assume it was written full script, being an inventory story), but he added a glib tone that I suspect was not originally present. It's OK, but way too familiar nowadays since Mark Waid started doing it with Wally West so long ago. The inking works better, though I will always feel that Ditko is best over Ditko. Of course, that wasn't really an option here.
This comic is basically two approaches at war with one another. The plot and pencils are firmly entrenched in the early 1980s, oblivious to all the new things just on the horizon. Everything else, including the lettering and coloring, is fully 2011. It doesn't exactly work, but it does create a perfectly inoffensive hybrid book that is worth a look if you are a Ditko or Kesel fan or liked comics in the early 1980s. I would probably feel even more charitable if it were priced at either 50¢ or 60¢ like it would've been when originally conceived, but $2.99 isn't bad for today's prices
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
OK, you'll have to click that for the full-size image to get the effect. Suffice to say, it is an ad selling subscriptions to two new music magazines (Planet and Words and Music) and it lays it on quite thick in its attempt to appeal to teens. Problem is, how many teens were reading DC Comics in the early 1970s? Might this be more successful if it were in Marvel Comics? At least they had anecdotal evidence to back up the notion that an older crowd read their comics.
Then I noticed this, and it answered that question. It also opened up a whole new can of worms:
If you are unaware, "NPP" stands for "National Periodical Publications". That was the legal name of the entity we know as DC Comics until the late 1970s.
So, wait - DC published rock magazines? I...I don't think it's quite that simple. You see, while looking up info on these magazines, I stumbled across a full issue of Billboard on Google Books that includes a story on their launch. You can access this August 21, 1971 issue via this link OR you can navigate via the following embed. For the record, the story in question begins on the front page and concludes on Page 50.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
RE : "Hot Girls In Love" - "Although one of our goofier, tongue-in-cheek songs..."
...How does one decide which Loverboy songs are "goofier"?
Monday, July 18, 2011
Yes folks, here it is - the poster for the apocryphal but highly entertaining film KING KONG VS. FRANKENSTEIN, straight out of the Owariverse! Be sure you click for a look at the full-size version to get the details of the credits! You might find some aspects of them oddly familiar.
Once again, another knockout commission by Kabuki Katze requires an explanation. It actually dates back to our discussions regarding the "Shelly After Midnight" picture. Kabuki was entertaining the notion of including a background element on the wall and ventured that perhaps Captain Satellite might have a poster for a fictional sci-fi movie hanging in his mansion. Her concept was actually "King Kong vs. Godzilla", not realizing this was an actual movie. However, this suggestion led me to offer "King Kong vs. Frankenstein" in its place.
As it turned out, the poster got squeezed out of the Shelly picture. I hadn't forgotten the idea, especially since Kabuki had indicated she had long been wanting to try something along those lines. Knowing how her schedule gets, I figured that it might never happen if I didn't make it happen. Thus, a few months later, I commissioned her to create a KING KONG VS. FRANKENSTEIN poster. There was a catch, though - I was only asking for the name and a couple of other details. The rest was solely at her discretion.
Why? Well, this had originally been HER idea, so I wanted her to have the freedom to take that idea in whatever direction she wished. I thought of myself more as a facilitator for her vision than a commissioner in this instance. If there was going to be a KING KONG VS. FRANKENSTEIN poster, I wanted it to be the one she really wanted.
What you see above is the result. She chose a more graphically-oriented, minimalist approach that is truly fascinating and eye-catching. And believe it or not, it was HER idea to render the title in Japanese! She even wrote the "対" kanji herself!
The input I did desire on this poster was to put together the credits. I wanted a listing that reflected a largely-fictional world - theoretically, the world of Captain Satellite. As a result, the cast and director are parodies/homages to those of the movie A*P*E! I included Willis O'Brien as a token of respect for the man who actually came up with the original "King Kong vs. Frankenstein" story. And as for the producer, I threw in a little in-joke that tied into PART 2 of this commission.
Do you recall the logo I commissioned KK to create for my buddy David McRobie's Xenorama? Well, adding "Xenorama Pictures" and "D.E. McRobie" to the poster just wasn't enough. I ALSO wanted to take the poster and use it to create a faux cover for Xenorama as it might exist in the world where KING KONG VS. FRANKENSTEIN is real. This is the delightful result!
Besides the necessary modifications to turn poster into cover, you will notice the addition of a tagline. This was courtesy of Kabuki and is derived from a tagline in the trailer for A*P*E! She is a clever one, she is.
As always, a big thank you to Kabuki for her exemplary work in bringing crazy ideas to life. Why not go tell the lady yourself if you like this picture? I am sure she would be delighted to hear from you!
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Looking back, that was the Jack Webb influence in the show. It is difficult to watch the intro to Season 1 and not think "DRAGNET but with flying saucers". Season 2 opens a bit more ominously AND dramatically (and adds Col. Flagg from M*A*S*H to the cast), but I imagine it was more of the same. Still, you have to give them credit for sticking to their format a lot better than most science-fiction programs of the era did. I am sure the second season of PROJECT U.F.O. was more of a success than GALACTICA: 1980.
It looks like there are a couple of full episodes (in parts) on the video sites. Should I? And do you have any memories of the series, fond or otherwise?
Saturday, July 16, 2011
But how even a production company completely devoid of taste and talent could have produced blunders so numerous and broad in scope as those of the TV "Green Hornet" is virtually inconceivable. From the frivolous mood-destroying jazz opening (as opposed to the awesome introduction of the radio program), to the use of a mask which could in no way believably conceal the identity of the hero, to the cheap-looking gas gun, to the miscasting of every character (with the possible exception of Bruce Lee as Kato), to the dreadfully DULL scripts, to the lack of attention to such important elements as mood, characterization, and The Hornet's motives, the TV program was in NO WAY an accurate representation of the exciting Fran Striker creation.--Larry Ivie, Larry Ivie's Monsters and Heroes #7 (May 1970)
A few observations:
* That is one amazingly lengthy sentence.
* If you thought the Internet created this sort of thing, guess again. It just provided an easier medium for expressing it.
* Considering Al Hirt's theme to THE GREEN HORNET ("Flight of the Bumblebee", OK?) is regarded as a classic TV theme, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised it takes it on the chin here. Still, "frivolous"? "Mood-destroying"?
* The mask thing puzzles me. Sure, it's different than the old mask, but how was it any less believable than the mask the Lone Ranger wore? Or was this just an instance of "It's new and therefore bad!"? (don't answer that)
* LOL @ "with the possible exception of Bruce Lee as Kato".
* The paragraph preceding this one pays the TV show THE AVENGERS a very back-handed compliment, calling it a "totally dull idea" that produced "an endless number of interesting and entertaining episodes." Hey, thanks! (wait...)
* Billy Preston was right - it does go round in a circle.
Friday, July 15, 2011
I do remember there being considerable huffing and puffing at the time because the album won Album of the Year against releases by Paul Simon, Beck, Radiohead, and (most famously) Eminem. Wasn't there talk that they gave that award to Steely Dan as a "safe" choice? To which I can only wonder: when exactly did Steely Dan become the safe, predictable choice? BUZZ! The answer is, in fact, "Never."
C'mon, if the Grammys wanted to play it safe, they would have just mailed that award to Paul Simon. I tend to think there was a lot of mixed feelings as far as those nominees, and that likely split the votes up pretty well. Steely Dan won because they were established, they had never won before despite making excellent music, and *gasp* they actually put out a good album.
(As an aside, if we're picking which of those should have won as far being important in the long term, it was Radiohead's Kid A. And I'm not even a big Radiohead fan. But hey, the Cars and Elvis Costello lost out for Best New Artist to A Taste of Honey in 1979, so hindsight is a funny thing.)
Getting back to Two Against Nature as a piece of music, it's quite remarkable in that it maintains wonderful continuity to Dan's prior studio album from two decades earlier. I wouldn't call it flawless, but it definitely holds up well compared to 1970s favorites like Pretzel Logic and Aja. The most memorable track for this listener was "Cousin Dupree", later the source of some good-natured controversy due to a movie I never saw.
Two Against Nature is an energetic and enjoyable return to classic form if you like Steely Dan. And if you don't? Yeah, this probably won't change your mind.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Last night, my mind was idly wandering, and I somehow got to thinking about the sentai series LIVEMAN. Specifically, I found myself wondering about the process that went into the mecha Land Lion (pictured). I'm not sure anyone realized it, but Land Lion was something of an innovation. In fact, it was the precursor to a whole new type of sentai machine.
I'm not so much talking about the Land Lion toy (seen here), but more the portrayal of Land Lion in the show itself. Prior to LIVEMAN, the component vehicles were portrayed strictly as vehicles. They might have been vehicles of questionable practical design, but they were recognizably vehicles. Land Lion is the first time I can recall where one of the sentai component mecha was presented as something that blurred the line between vehicle and robot.
Think about it. Land Lion has legs. Instead of moving on wheels, it runs. It was also capable of a range of motion not previously seen. I'll bet it was quite the challenge for Nobuo Yajima and his crew!
What's funny is that this radical new approach was not immediately followed up on in subsequent sentai. TURBORANGER, FIVEMAN, and JETMAN returned to mecha motifs that were strictly vehicle-based. It wasn't until ZYURANGER and its Guardian Beasts that the idea of component mecha that were ALSO robots reappeared. The Saber Tiger was realized in a method very similar to Land Lion, while the Tyrannosaurus was a straight-up man in a suit.
You can point to ZYURANGER as the series that truly changed the approach to sentai mecha for good. However, let's remember that it was Land Lion that blazed the trail. I wish I could have seen the meetings leading up to his creation.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I briefly maintained a fansite devoted to Big Bang Comics in the mid-00s (OK, that was weird to write). When I wrote to BB editor/writer Gary Carlson to show him the early stages of the project, he wrote me back to tell me that he enjoyed the site. He also had a rather unexpected request.
At the time, the next issue of Big Bang due was the one-shot Ultiman Family #1. As it turned out, Gary wanted to do a riff on those old "reader submitted costume" features like this one showcased at Gone & Forgotten (go read that, really). So, Gary asked me to submit a costume design for Thunder Girl which would be drawn by one of the artists for Big Bang.
Well. As I am sure you remember, I'm not much of an artist. Still, this sounded like a lot of fun! I pulled out some old Supergirl issues of Adventure Comics for reference and went to work on November 12, 2004. I started by mimicking a couple of Art Saaf poses, then moved away from that a bit. I decided I wanted it to look kind of silly, but without too many extraneous details. In the end, after making two or three passes, this was what I sent Gary:
Thunder Girl Costume Sketch by ~celamowari on deviantART
Gary said that was perfect. Flash forward a couple of months and we arrive at the day Ultiman Family #1 came out. In the back part of the book was "Thunder Girl's Fashion Show". And lo and behold, here is one of the costumes drawn by Jeff Austin:Ultiman Family #1. I've had many letters of comment printed over the years, but this is still one of the coolest things ever.
Monday, July 11, 2011
As you may recall, I march to the beat of my own drummer. Of all the films on that list, I am sure that THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN (電送人間; Denso Nigen - "The Transmitted Man") is the least well-known. I have a soft spot in my heart for this minor leaguer in the Toho pantheon. Still, it's not hard to figure out why it suffers outside of Japan (and maybe inside too, for all I know).
THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN is a suspense thriller with SF overtones. As such, it's not nearly as epic as most Toho spfx extravaganzas. It is neither directed by Ishiro Honda nor scored by Akira Ifukube, and though the men who take those jobs do fine work (Jun Fukuda and Sei Ikeno, respectively), I am sure the absence of Honda and Ifukube colors people's opinion at the outset. And then there's the little matter of the way the film came out in the West.
THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN was released in the U.S. in a truncated version, which is bad enough. However, it seems that all English language release prints were struck in black and white. While the B&W is moodier, it mutes much of the majesty of the teleportation effects that serve as the movie's centerpiece. As such, it is easy to find the movie disappointing.
(I do, however, reject the notion that the lead hero is responsible for this disappointment. Koji Tsuruta might be unfamiliar in tokusatsu circles, but that doesn't make him some sort of second-rater. The rest of the cast is populated by more familiar faces, so to lay any failings of TELEGIAN at the feet of Tsuruta seems ludicrous to me. Most people do not go into these movies to pick out the performers anyway.)
The good news is that a nice DVD release of this movie would just be a matter of licensing it. The only English track known is the one prepared in Hong Kong, which I do believe makes THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN the first Asian film released abroad with such a dub track (early 1960s). The bad news? No one appears interested in making this happen. There was a slew of Toho DVDs for awhile, but TELEGIAN was not one of them. It never seems to come up in the discussion, either. GORATH? Sure. THE HUMAN VAPOR? Absolutely. THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN? Nada.
C'mon, I think this would do just as well as some of the other marginal Japanese SF releases. There's a built-in audience, which is more than you can say for a lot of "cult" items that come out on disc. I mean, I, would buy it, and that's a pretty strong statement right there.
Besides, I long for the day when I can watch and listen in crystal clarity for the moment when the dubber messes up and refers to an I.D. tag as an "I.T. dag."
Sunday, July 10, 2011
However, I have gotten his e-mail on more than one occasion.
(True. In fact, one of them was from Procter & Gamble regarding this position! I contacted the lady at P & G because I didn't want this Chris Elam to lose out on a job opportunity due to a mix-up over his e-mail address. I'm glad to see he got it!)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
I have a good friend who is absolutely nuts for I LOVE LUCY, and adores collecting stuff related to the show. Because she does not travel in the same online circles as me, she was unaware of the Lucy figures that were produced several years ago by Classic TV Toys in the famous Mego style. No surprise - a quick check reveals they were only sold online and through Diamond Comics Distributors.
Ever since I learned of the existence of these figures, I had decided I would get them for her as a gift if I ever a) had the money and b) found the set. As you probably have guessed, that happy convergence of circumstances recently came to pass. So, that's another thing I can cross off my list.
Friday, July 8, 2011
I mean, really. This is an amazing video.
Ah, but if that's all there was to this entry, I'd have stopped typing. I haven't stopped because I made an interesting discovery. There is a SECOND video for "Freak-A-Zoid". And it's...well, somewhat different.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
- "Homosapien" - Pete Shelley
- "Lady Marmalade" - LaBelle
- "Too Shy" - Kajagoogoo
- "Sweet Surrender" - Sarah McLachlan
- "Missing" (Todd Terry Club Mix) - Everything But The Girl
By the way, I intend to do a "preliminary" entry in this series listing the handful of mp3s I got prior to launching this orgy of digital music.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
As you probably have ascertained, that site is hosted by my ISP. In 2001, 5 MB of storage sounded like plenty to do something cool. I built the first incarnation of that site using (I swear!) a Cliffs Notes book. Actually, that book served me well for years, but it's why my coding prowess dazzled no one.
The chief lesson I learned from the original OWARI site is that I had no interest in maintaining an expansive website. I like a lot of stuff, but not really enough to devote the time to a site. I've learned that a time or two since then, and I think it's finally stuck. I eventually used the site primarily to promote the OWARI fanzine. When the 'zine went away for good, it became a gateway for other sources of my work. I have updated it periodically over the last few years to keep it reasonably current.
The glaring exception to the above paragraph's mention of "no interest in maintaining an expansive website" is, of course, Return of Jetman. I began ROJ as a sub-site in 2002, and it ended up growing beyond my expectations. I did my first truly serious Internet work with ROJ on that sub-site, and finished the entire original 14 episode series before moving the whole kit and kaboodle to its own domain. I have left the original Return of Jetman homepage standing since the move. This was partially done out of sentimentality, and partially because there were a few very popular links that still listed it rather than the domain name. I think those have all evaporated, but the page is likely to remain until/unless the site goes away. As an added bonus for sharp-eyed followers, I left the old version of the logo sitting there. Compare it to the one on the current site.
Other than that, the original site mostly just hosts a couple of image files for me that I've been using on message boards forever. I'll move them if it ever becomes necessary. In the meantime, I'll just continue to sit on the old site and remember the numerous false starts and poor webpages it included. Still, they say you never forget your first...
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 5th, 2011
Pulp 2.0 Press
Pulp 2.0 Press Acquires Publishing Rights to Big Bang Universe
Pulp Publisher to reprint classic Big Bang Comics as Collector’s Volumes
Los Angeles, CA - Pulp 2.0 Press CEO Bill Cunningham today announced that the company has acquired the publishing and media licensing rights to the library of work by creators Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker under their Big Bang Comics imprint. This deal signals another expansion for the company’s library of graphic novels. “I’ve always loved the history and the classic sensibility of the Big Bang Comics characters like Knight Watchman, Ultiman, Thunder Girl and others that Gary and Chris have created. I’m very pleased we have a chance to bring their work and the work of celebrated giants like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Shelly Moldoff, and Marty Nodell out in collector’s editions that capture that four color fun we all enjoyed when we were kids.”
The company plans to issue their editions as showcases to each individual Big Bang Comics character by collecting all of that character’s work under one cover, and adding historical reference, essays and rare, behind-the-scenes photos, sketches, covers, and memorabilia. Formerly published by Image Comics, Big Bang made a reputation for itself as the place where comics were fun again by creating the classic comics work of BB giants like Tom King and Jack Kingler. “Big Bang Comics is an example of the kind of of fun we want to inject back into book publishing,” said Cunningham. “I grew up reading books like The Great Comic Book Heroes and Batman: From the 30’s to the 70’s. Each Big Bang character deserves the same sort of presentation so fans old and new can read and appreciate both the comics and the history behind the company just like I did.”
“Big Bang Comics began in 1992 when Chris Ecker told me that he was tired of comic book publishers and art directors telling him that he drew like an “old guy” and that he was going to sit down and draw an old style comic book story and that I was going to write it. We talked his idea over at a small comic convention in Elgin, Illinois where we both lived. Then we got Gary Reed at Caliber Press involved as our first publisher and the rest is history. With Big Bang I got to write stories about the characters I had loved and even got to work with some of my favorite creators: Shelly Moldoff, Mart Nodell, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (they even signed it “Swanderson”!), Dave Cockrum and Rich Buckler,” said Big Bang Creator Gary Carlson.
Big Bang Co-Creator Chris Ecker adds, “If the Golden Age and Silver Age creators had the opportunity to see their work available on "space aged" digital devices (like, say a Kindle or Nook), they'd have jumped at it. With Pulp 2.0, we're able to do things with our "vintage" comic universe that they could only dream--and write or draw--about. I also think there's an untapped group of potential fans that aren't familiar with Big Bang out there, and the digital and print on demand capabilities that our Pulp 2.0 partnership presents will allow them total access.”
Individual editions in Pulp 2.0’s Big Bang Comics Collector’s series will be announced as they become available. The first editions are scheduled for 2nd quarter 2012. For more information on Big Bang go to: www.bigbangcomics.com
About Pulp 2.0:
Pulp 2.0 is a publishing and media company that creates and distributes quality pulp entertainment media in every manner possible for its audience all over the world to enjoy. The company licenses, redesigns and republishes classic pulp, exploitation paperbacks and magazines through a variety of print and digital media; breathing new life into many of these ‘lost’ properties.
The company also creates new pulp entertainment for its target audience including the original vampire blaxploitation novel Brother Blood by Donald F. Glut, the internet radio adventure serial “The Murder Legion Strikes at Midnight” (produced in association with Toronto’s Decoder Ring Theater), and the tribute to legendary radio adventure historian Jim Harmon, Radio Western Adventures that features a lost western tale by Doc Savage creator Lester Dent. In addition, the company is developing the re-release of Glut’s widely acclaimed horror-adventure book series The New Adventures of Frankenstein in collectible editions for print and digital. For more information go to: www.pulp2ohpress.com
Monday, July 4, 2011
It's important to understand that, while I have been using the term "Owariverse" for my li'l world, Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson are intended to be the central figures. This has been the case since I settled on that duo as my favorites for weaving tales of adventure. Everyone else is meant to be part of the supporting cast. That includes the other superheroes.
The thing is, I wasn't always sold that there needed to be other superheroes in Cap's world. I wanted to preserve his uniqueness, and adding a bunch of extra heroes seemed to run counter to that notion. I've since come around to the value of having at least a few around, but there was no guarantee that they were ever going to be included in a "definitive" version. In fact, it was probably my strong desire to retain the dynamic with vigilante Urban Nightmare that led me to entertain the notion of contemporary heroes at all.
"Contemporary" heroes? Ah yes. The Invincible Alliance existed as a concept even in the 1990s, but in a slightly different fashion. For a long, long time, I envisioned the IA as a relic of the past in Cap's world - a group that had existed from the 1940s to the 1980s but had broken up. This version lasted long enough that I dreamed up a really great line: "And yet, they keep reuniting like an over-the-hill rock band looking to recapture their faded glory." Shame it doesn't work in context anymore!
At any rate, this particular Invincible Alliance would have included versions of Ultimate American, Blue Behemoth, Drone Man, Firegirl, and...Thunder Man. Wait, Thunder Man? Yep; in fact, he was the centerpiece of that incarnation. There were a few other heroes that wound up not making the cut at all, though none of them have been posted as near as I remember. Cap and the Nightmare were NOT part of this grouping at all, and Elektroid hadn't even been drafted into the Cap mythos by that point.
When I set out to commit myself to certain things in 2007, I decided to abandon the notion of the Invincible Alliance as retro heroes and elected to make them current associates of Captain Satellite. This decision led directly to the origins and backstories for those characters that still serve as the basis for what I'm doing with them today. As it turned out, I got busy doing other stuff as the year went on, and found I didn't have time to devote that sort of treatment to a few characters. Among those was Thunder Man.
When we rolled around to last year, I began to tinker with the profiles already written AND (finally) write those that had never happened. By that time, I had decided I didn't want a hero like Thunder Man wandering around Cap's world on a regular basis with his lengthy history and superhuman powers. But I also didn't want to convert him into a villain. The compromise I reached was that I did make him a Golden Age/Silver Age hero, but assigned him to his own parallel Earth. That meant I had the opportunity the play with those conventions, but in such a way that didn't interfere with the specialness of Captain Satellite.
The Thunder Man brainstorm had some unintended consequences. One, it threw a monkey wrench into the admittedly-thin backstory for my villain Devil Dynamite. It would be almost a year before I resolved that to my satisfaction. The other was much more subtle, and it involved Ultimate American.
I developed for Ultimate American a profile that relied heavily on a line of succession to maintain a long career for the character. I wish I could say I was influenced by the Phantom, so simple and elegant in how the idea is supposed to work in that comic strip. In reality, I drew instead from the convoluted continuities of both Marvel Comics' Captain America and Archie Comics' the Shield in crafting my own involved ideas.
I later took this all one step further, and wrote out the Ultimate American Chronology for the not-quite panting public. I had a lot of fun with that piece, but I don't think it translated in the final product. It sure is serious, isn't it? And yet, I laughed a lot while writing it. Strange how that works sometimes. I lifted some of that stuff for the profiles, where it seemed to work better. And I also included a revised version in Captain Satellite: Number Zero. It just never captured people's imaginations in quite the way it did mine.
In all of this, I think I missed out on something fundamental that was nagging at me. I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then one day, it dawned on me what I had done. The Invincible Alliance was now part of the "modern" setting (more on this in a bit). Thunder Man was safely ensconced on his own separate Earth. This meant that Ultimate Americans I and II were now the only superheroes prior to Captain Satellite on their world.
This wasn't exactly what I had in mind. To me, there were two approaches that I liked in dealing with the past. One was that there were no superheroes prior to Cap; the other was that a superhero community had once existed but gone away, leaving Cap as the first of the new generation. The compromise I'd worked into things did neither of these. I worked with it for awhile, but I just wasn't happy with what I had inadvertently done.
Then came the little matter of the backdrop for all this hero business. I have long imagined the Major City stuff as taking place in what I refer to as a "retro future" - a future as postulated in the past. I had even explicitly stated that the time period was "the 1990s - the future" in things I had done for myself. But as the public stuff came out, it became increasingly clear this was not something that would gain a lot of traction. I decided instead to be somewhat ambiguous about dating things, to give myself more leeway. I have done stuff that seems to clearly use elements from the 1960s and 1970s, but I never actually mention anything specific. That gives me plenty of wiggle room as far as when "today" might be.
...Except the Ultimate American torpedoes that. I tried to compensate by making the original exceptionally long-lived, and intentionally murking up portions of his timeline. And yet, there was no escaping the fact that, as it existed, the Ultimate American was very clearly tied to specific events. Again, not happy.
It may or may not be a coincidence that I reached this decision at the time of the much-ballyhooed DC reboot press, but I finally decided I needed a retcon. I had put together the book specifically to avoid this, but I was just too bothered with the status quo to continue it. I loved the related characters, and big heaping portions of the backstory, but the Ultimate American deal was threatening to be a problem if not addressed. I needed there to be just one claimant to the name, and I needed Cap to be the first hero in his world.
I've just recently finished revising the profiles that accomplish these goals. Tex Truman and Joe Truman have been preserved, but they are no longer former superheroes. Honestly, I think I like them better now without the costumes. There is only one Ultimate American, and he came into existence after Captain Satellite. Other issues small and large have been handled, including a solution that involved Thunder Man's world.
I've salvaged a lot from the Chronology, but it is going to be declared apocryphal when this is all said and done. However, I'm not just decreeing this to be so. I plan to write a story that will serve this function and introduce the "new" timeline. Ironically, this is based on the story idea that the Chronology originally replaced. When the story is finished, I plan to publish it here. I'll also put up some of the new profile information to supplement it.
I don't like doing a retcon so large at this stage in the game, but I don't feel like I had any choice for the integrity (such as it is) for my fictional universe. I'm trying to think of it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, but the fanboy in me will never cotton to such stuff. Hopefully, everyone else will accept it.
Wow, I have pretty much guaranteed few people will get this far in this entry by its sheer size. If you are reading these words, congratulations on finishing a huge essay by an author regarding his self-published fantasy world. Surely, you deserve some kind of medal.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
From July 1, 1978, our AT40 flashback was Top 40 Acts of the 70's. According to Casey Kasem, points were assigned for every single an act had on the Billboard Hot 100 (not just Top 40 entries - he specifically mentioned the Hot 100) from 1970-1978. The results were tabulated and then the Top 40 were listed on the show.
Since that listing I linked is not entirely specific, here are the Top 40 Acts of the 1970s as listed during the program:
40) Earth, Wind, and Fire
39) Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)
38) Grand Funk [Railroad]
36) Steve Miller Band
35) Ringo Starr
34) The Captain and Tennille
33) The Stylistics
32) Carly Simon
31) Donny Osmond
30) Linda Ronstadt
29) Rod Stewart
28) Roberta Flack
27) The Temptations
26) James Taylor
25) Paul Simon
22) Olivia Newton-John
21) Elvis Presley
20) The Spinners
19) Marvin Gaye
18) Barry Manilow
17) Aretha Franklin
16) Neil Diamond
15) John Denver
14) The Eagles
13) Al Green
12) Diana Ross
11) Tony Orlando and Dawn
10) Helen Reddy
9) Gladys Knight and the Pips
8) Three Dog Night
6) Jackson Five
5) Stevie Wonder
4) The Carpenters
3) Paul McCartney and Wings
2) The Bee Gees
1) Elton John
Quite the impressive 1970s juggernaut, isn't it? I'm proud to say that I correctly guessed the artists in the Top 5 positions, though I had no idea what order they might take. I DID surmise that Elton John would be the winner, though.
And how about the Bee Gees coming in at #2? I guess that answers the question as to whether they were the band of the decade as far as singles. What makes this showing even MORE impressive (if such a thing is possible) is that they had THREE MORE #1 songs in the 1970s ("Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy", "Love You Inside Out") after this show aired. If the point tabulation had occurred a year later, would they have surpassed Elton John? Seems like it to me.
There were some surprises on the list, too. Part of this came from it encompassing the entire decade. It's a little jarring to see the likes of Ringo Starr, the Temptations, and Three Dog Night so high, but that's a function of knowing now that their Top 40 hits were mostly over when this show was produced. They most definitely belonged when you consider the first half of the decade. So did the Stylistics, though I was not expecting them at all.
Part of the fun in lists like this are the arguments about the omissions. Since the AT40 staff assigned positions by a point system, a case can't necessarily be made that anyone was snubbed. But let's take a look at acts that didn't make the cut and why:
* Premiere Radio Network includes two extras for each AT40 show. For this edition, they were songs by Barbra Streisand and Fleetwood Mac. I can only guess they simply didn't have enough songs to make the Top 40 list. Similarly, Foreigner ran off a string of Top 40 hits in the decade, but only three by the time of this show.
* I jokingly wrote a note to myself during the show that read "No Zep or Floyd LOL", and that was 100% accurate. I didn't expect either Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, two bands active in the 1970s that are still popular across the board, to be on this countdown. Why? Because this was a listing for SINGLES, and both Zeppelin and Floyd really made it count with ALBUMS. Yes, both of them placed singles on the U.S. charts, but it was nothing remarkable. It was their LPs that made them legendary. Same reason KISS is absent, despite making a truckload of money in the 1970s.
* Disco gets some acknowledgment in this list, but perhaps not as much as you would imagine. I think it owes to the fact that disco didn't really have a lot of acts with any kind of staying power. I mean, KC and the Sunshine Band had a fair number of high chart singles compared to most, and they didn't have enough to get on the list. Even Donna Summer, one of the names most associated with disco, had only released a handful of the songs that made her reputation. If you refigured this list to include the rest of '78 and all of 1979, I bet she makes it.
* And lastly, the one act that surprised me by being M.I.A. throughout the show was none other than the Rolling Stones. True, they weren't really in the same ballpark as the 1960s Stones, but they charted a number of songs during the 1970s. They even had three separate #1's. All I can figure is that the others didn't rank highly enough to get the Stones over the hump. Hard to believe, but the Rolling Stones came up just short for the 1970s.
Anything that jumps out at you from this list?
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Once again, I reached a goal much more quickly than I would have figured. Less than two years later, we have arrived at entry #500. This was due in no small part to a bit of a renaissance when it came to my personal work. Trust me, when I was in the middle of crafting a bunch of that superhero stuff last summer, I didn't dream I would be sitting here today with one book already available and another in the works.
The readership has grown a bit since entry 100, too. I've had at least two periods of much-higher sustained interest, including a week or so last month. It never seems to last, but I am grateful and appreciative of anyone who chooses to read this blog at all.
Here's a list of five entries you might have missed from the first two years:
1. Some words of wisdom when it comes to comic books.
2. You can't unsee this cartoon by Terry Beatty.
3. An exhaustive review of the 1970s Metal Men comic. (And a follow-up)
4. An unexpected discussion of the Japanese science-fiction film THE H-MAN.
5. This satire of Internet discourse is one of my favorite pieces I've ever written.
Now, we begin the process of writing the next 500 entries. Onward and upward!