Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer

That photo is the Destroyer (Dick Beyer) vs. Victor the wrestling bear in California (probably Los Angeles at the Olympic Auditorium in 1965).

In my Tumblr misadventures (more on these eventually), I stumbled across a phrase that I am still having trouble parsing. The writer referred to the Destroyer as "a rare American masked wrestler." Huh? I know lucha libre is trendy and all, but I'd say there have been hundreds of American masked wrestlers over the years. In fact, the first masked wrestler ever was allegedly American Mort Henderson, who donned a mask as the Masked Marvel in 1915. That's right, 1915.

I think it was a perfectly innocent remark, but the only way it reconciles with fact is that the Destroyer was the rare American masked wrestler who "got over" outside of the States. Other than the Zebra Kid (George Bollas), I can't think of another American masked man to have such success away from U.S. soil. The Destroyer is probably even more legendary in Japan than he is here. Heck, the man is a bona fide TV star in that country!

The Destroyer's story is a fascinating one, and you can learn more about it (including info on his book) at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Old L.A. Restaurants

Mark Evanier doesn't need any plugs from me, as he has more readers than I can even imagine. However, I'd like to point up one of my favorite parts of his website. Old L.A. Restaurants is an informal survey of now-defunct eateries in the Southern California area. I was a fan of the old version of this sub-site, and I'm kind of jazzed by this new Wordpress incarnation. There are new entries to go alongside the old ones which are being added, and there are even comments!

I'm hopeful for some reader submissions, which Mark has solicited for this project. I love his writing, but I'd like to read even more of these anecdotes. Fascinating stuff! Well, at least to me. The only downside is that I always get hungry while I'm perusing these tales.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Surely I Am Not The First Person To Notice This There

Spotted on the customer comment bulletin board at my local Five Guys. If you don't know what this means, just move along. You'll be happier that way.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dig Dug: The New Adventures!

DIG DUG vector art by *DaneRot on deviantART

I'm not a huge video game fan, but I have a fondness for those 1970s/80s ones that I was so bad at when it mattered to me. I was really taken in by this "realistic" interpretation of the game Dig Dug by comic book artist Brian Denham. It makes me want to go tunneling again!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"The Intercollegiate Dark Secret"

$20 Pinup: Sailor Asteroid by =kabukikatze on deviantART

Some of you out there might know that "Intercollegiate Dark Secret" was a masked identity used by wrestler George Bollas, better known as the Zebra Kid. I'm sorry, but this entry is not about George Bollas. "Intercollegiate Dark Secret" was the codename I choose for a very special commission project to disguise my true intentions.

As we saw last month, our friend Kabuki Katze was running a sale for $20 commissions. The sale is over now, but before all the slots filled up, I snagged a second one. For myself? No, I elected instead to pay for a commission for Nickyflamingo, since her new job wasn't starting until this month. I thought a little giftart for a sweet and generous person was in order.

I came to Kabuki with my plan, and "Intercollegiate Dark Secret" was placed on her list as the mysterious name of my new commission. In reality, I asked her to pick a character for Nicky (she knows her better than I) and put something together for her. Kabuki's choice was Nicky's Sailor Moon OC Sailor Asteroid, and you can see the results of this commission above.

I'm really pleased with how everything turned out. I got to do something nice for two different people, and a great piece of artwork was the result. Drinks all around!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Phantom Rogue's Ten Dollar Heist

I've been a bit lax in doing things with my Owariverse characters the last couple of months, but they are never far from my mind. Here's an example: a sketch commission of the Phantom Rogue created by Sean Moore! Isn't it a beauty? I love the perspective on it, and those guns are pure awesome. I feel like he really captured the movie serial villain thing I have going on for the Rogue.

Sean's dA page for this piece is here. If you'd like to get your own sketch commission for a measly $10, here are the details.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Fickle Finger Of Doctor Fate, Part 2

(Since it's been something like 2 months, Part 1 can be found here.)

When Roy Thomas' All-Star Squadron premiered in 1981, I can tell you that at least one aspect rankled fans right from the outset. I distinctly remember the letter page complaints about Dr. Fate's half-helmet in the book. And you know, I didn't like it either, though I gradually came to accept it as a novelty. Still, I was glad that the full-helmeted Dr. Fate was still running around in contemporary times.

Roy Thomas didn't invent the half-helmet; he merely utilized it in All-Star Squadron because that was what Fate was wearing during WWII. Jim Steranko in his History of Comics theorized the half-helmet came about to allow the artists to depict Dr. Fate's facial expressions. Maybe that was the thinking, but chopping his helmet in half coincided with cutting off Dr. Fate at the knees.

More Fun Comics #72 heralds the arrival of half-helmet Dr. Fate by plastering him on the cover tackling the crew of a Nazi U-boat, in a scene that does not occur in the interiors. The copy trumpets him as "Startling!" and "Different!", which is irony in advertising if I ever saw it. This issue marks the point where everything that made the character "startling" and "different" is jettisoned, and we're left with something that is neither.

One gets the idea Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman knew and set out to make it plain that everything was different. The story has Inza journeying to the farmhouse of previously unmentioned rural relatives and Dr. Fate having his hands full with a gang of ordinary crooks. It's a far cry from the mysterious and urban tales that had previously been characteristic of the feature. Suddenly, Wotan and Ian Karkull seem out of place. It's almost as if this story takes place in another world altogether from the previous ones.

Things settled into a comfortable rut at this point. Mr. Who, Dr. Fate's new arch-nemesis, debuted in #73, and brought with him some degree of the fantastic. There were other weird criminals, and even a story that recalled the early days of the strip with a world within a painting. However, there was no escaping that there was absolutely nothing special about Dr. Fate. In fact, he had even surrendered the cover slot he had usurped from the Spectre. Green Arrow had replaced him, and while GA didn't keep the spot to himself for very long, Dr. Fate would never again get the spotlight in the magazine that birthed him.

Whether it was an attempt to counteract this perceived staleness or just a weird brainstorm, readers were promised in the blurb at the end of #84's installment the chance to "meet a new Doctor Fate!" in the next issue. What, another one? While I had hoped to keep this review at two parts, this seems like the point where I should stop in the interest of actually finishing this entry. In our concluding chapter, we'll look at how Dr. Fate's journey through the Golden Age ended.

Friday, February 10, 2012

K-Tel's "Hot Tracks"

Not only do I own a copy of K-Tel's Hot Tracks on vinyl, but I bought it in the 1980s! Specifically, it was purchased at the late, lamented Kinder Wal-Mart in the era before that company became a sprawling behemoth threatening to consume all. But, I digress.

Most of the K-Tel I picked up back in the day was either on cassette or (gasp!) 8-track, so having the record for Hot Tracks was something of an anomaly even then. My best guess is that I wanted it, and vinyl was my only option. Still, that's not too bad a compromise, all things considered.

Well, as it turns out, it was. I've read that K-Tel records are notorious for being easily damaged, and I can confirm that mine developed a skip relatively early in its life. I don't think I ever had another LP get damaged on that reliable old record player I was using, so I will blame K-Tel for this. It was pretty galling at the time, but needless to say, I got over it.

Track List:

Side A
1. "Maniac" - Michael Sembello
2. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Eurythmics
3. "Human Touch" - Rick Springfield
4. "White Wedding - Part 1" - Billy Idol
5. "Mr. Roboto" - Styx
6. "Don't Pay The Ferryman" - Chris DeBurgh
7. "The Night" - The Animals

Side B
1. "King of Pain" - The Police
2. "This Time" - Bryan Adams
3. "Rock of Ages" - Def Leppard
4. "Mexican Radio" - Wall of Voodoo
5. "Promises, Promises" - Naked Eyes
6. "So Wrong" - Patrick Simmons
7. "Dead Giveaway" - Shalamar

Like any good K-Tel album, this one has a couple of songs that have been nigh-forgotten since release. I mean no disrespect, but when was the last time you heard or even thought about Patrick Simmons' "So Wrong" or the Animals' "The Night"?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

OWARI #5 (July 1999)

One of the advantages of the long gap between issues #3 and #4 was that I had a surplus of things I wanted to write about. That was the chief reason why OWARI #5 followed in relatively rapid succession compared to my previous schedule. I was just bursting at the seams to publish another issue of my fanzine!

This is why I find the actual OWARI #5 to be so maddening. Oh, the content is perfectly fine, and we'll get to that in short order. No, my problem is with the fact that I spend so much time in it talking about what I'm going to do and future plans instead of concentrating on the issue itself. This was exacerbated by the fact that I was literally changing my mind every single day about what form those plans might take. It would have been better to keep those thoughts in the background and focus in the 'zine on what was tangible. But I let my enthusiasm get the better of me for neither the first nor the last time.

The issue opened (as you may have gleaned from the scan) with the article on GODZILLA'S REVENGE originally submitted by David McRobie for #4. This was one instance where the delay in printing a piece proved beneficial. My original plan had been just to print David's work as it arrived, with no editing whatsoever. Well, I still didn't do a lot of editing to his work, but I did painstakingly retype it so I could format it to include pictures. Did I mention my earlier intention to just forgo them entirely? I tend to think David's appreciation of one of the more unloved chapters in Godzilla's career came out well in its final version, so it's a pity more people didn't get to read it. He has threatened to resurrect it someday, and I for one hope he does.

Considering how pleased I was with David's article, I was that aggravated at how I botched something I had promised him. David specifically mentioned in it that I would be adding a detailed list of credits, because I had told him I would. And I did have just such a list - imperfect, but more extensive than any available in English up to that point. Maybe a little too extensive, as I couldn't fit it into the space allotted without rendering it unreadable. I was already using a pretty small font, and after the misadventure with #3, I had no desire to push my luck even further.

If I had not spent so much time blathering about future projects of mine, I might have been able to slot the credits into the issue somewhere. Instead, I just dropped them and included in their place an attempt at self-effacing humor regarding the whole fiasco. I did promise to find a spot for them in a later issue, and that was one I did follow up on.

The fourth page of the issue leads off with the introductory editorial, rechristened "The Middle of 'The End'" for one issue only. I only review one thing myself in the issue, and that is the DC Comics story "The Justice Society Returns". This was a much bigger deal to me then, considering how abused those characters had been during the preceding 15 years. At the time, I was super-enthused about this first signal of a newfound respect for them, but I suspect all that has happened since then might affect my reading of those books.

Alright, so my "humorous" little apology, my introduction, and the next segment largely sum up both the historical context of the issue and my subsequent frustration with myself over it. It all blurs together in my recollection, so I'll just summarize it here. I announce my intent to publish The Kaiju Detective as a separate publication and then backtrack and pull the plug on it a few paragraphs later. I give a name to the "Big Bang manuscript" alluded to in #4 - The Big Bang Explosion - and also mention my intent to publish it as a standalone fanzine. This may have been one of the sparks in reviving OWARI in the first place, but I hadn't made significant progress on it. And then there was Return of Jetman, which I ALSO wanted as a separate series. Whew!

It got so bad, the final block of text on page 4 has been replaced with a paste-up. No, I don't remember the specific reason anymore, and I'm not keen on peeling it off to investigate. Suffice to say, I understated matters big time in the replacement when I wrote of "the volatile nature of my publishing plans." No, you think?

I ended the issue with another "Tilting At Windmills With A Toothpick" editorial opinion column. In my notes, I refer to this as "editorial typos and anger!", which is a good Reader's Digest version. This was my soapbox about typographical errors, but more importantly, fact checking. It includes the following:

WIZARD has really legitimized idiocy in comic book coverage, and they've given it a glossy finish to boot. They are emotionally stunted perpetual adolescents that have inflicted upon us perhaps the single most vile publication devoted to comic books in history.

Gosh, tell us how you really feel, Chris!

OWARI #5 was a worthy follow-up to the landmark (for me) prior issue. However, cracks in my approach were already starting to show through, and it didn't quite make me as happy as it should have. Still, I resolved to solider ahead and keep flying the OWARI banner.

If only I had just shut up about what I was thinking about doing...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"The Ultimate in Science-Fiction!"

I want to spend a moment to comment on how sad it was that Joseph Brenner and Image Entertainment couldn't reach some sort of mutually beneficial agreement several years ago to allow a definitive release of INFRAMAN in the United States. I can't complain (much) about what we got, but I would've loved the opportunity to buy a 2-disc special edition of both the U.S. and Hong Kong versions of the movie. It could've included the Brenner promotional material in addition to stuff ported from the H.K. release. Instead, the Brenner version is solely represented by a less than pristine mono version of the stereo track. And that was only because the mono dub apparently fell out of copyright.

The window for affording such a deluxe treatment to that movie on physical media is probably rapidly closing. But a guy can dream, can't he?

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - "Fire"

If there was any justice in this world, Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley from KISS would all send Arthur Brown checks every month. I mean, I like those guys just fine, but they became rich and famous by copying his act. Remember, this is 1968.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Devin Townsend Band - "Vampira"

I'm not exactly hip, so I'd never heard of the Devin Townsend Band or the song "Vampira" until I got linked to this video. Great tune, and a clever clip with a comic book motif. Nice to see some musicians have enough of a sense of humor about themselves to do fun stuff like this.

And how did I learn of this video, perchance? Why, I got pointed in that direction by Johnny Segura, a talented artist from around these parts. Seriously, the man can DRAW like you wouldn't believe, and he's even got the books to prove it to you. Take a look around his profile and consider throwing some money in his direction!

Devin Townsend Sketch Card by *Auronasia on deviantART

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vas Ist Das Tumblr?

I resisted the siren call of all the random neat things on Tumblr for a long time, but recently succumbed to its charms. This has coincided neatly with a block on some entries I've been wanting to post here. This begs the question, are the two developments related?

Nah, but it might look that way. Tumblr is currently a bit of a minor addiction, but that is only because it is my new toy and I'm playing with it. I'm sure that as the newness wears off, it will settle into its own comfortable groove. My biggest concern with it is to not go overboard right at the outset. It hasn't even been operational for a month and I'm closing in on 100 posts already.

As for its use, OWARI Tumblr Annex has become my clearing house of cool. I've been reblogging (and occasionally, posting) items that I am passionate about and that inspire me. Some of it is familiar ground for readers of this blog, while some of it hasn't even come up. It's a place where you can join me in reveling in the sort of things that fit my personal aesthetic of awesome.

If that sounds appealing to you, click the link and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love, Peace and Soul

I was saddened to learn today of the sudden and violent death of Don Cornelius, creator and host of SOUL TRAIN. I've been watching reruns of SOUL TRAIN sporadically over the last few months and had rediscovered my admiration for his work. It is unfortunate that his legacy will always have to include how things ended, but it doesn't tarnish the amazing achievements of his life.

Rest in peace, Don Cornelius.

Here's a flashback to happier times: