Saturday, August 29, 2009

He Moves In Mysterious Ways

One night, my blogger-in-arms Igadevil and I were discussing the TV series JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT for reasons that are now obscure. If you've seen this 1960s Japanese series, you may recall that the intrepid heroes are agents for a group dubbed "Unicorn". Carrying this theme a bit further, Unicorn's agents all have designations like "U3" (Jerry Mano) and "U7" (Johnny). Iga found himself wondering during our conversation - who was the unseen U2? I gave what I thought was the obvious answer.

Now, I want to live long enough to see someone draw a picture of Bono in a Unicorn uniform.

(Tip of the hat to Igadevil & Kazekage for contributing ideas to this entry!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fowl Play

I got a big pile of old comics a week or so ago, and I've been enjoying them a lot. One of my special pleasures with these 1970s books is the wacky assortment of ads in them. I miss those days. But even I must confess to being startled by one of them.

So there I was, reading my copy of Marvel Triple Action #36 (July 1977) when I notice this ad. At first, I think my eyes must be deceiving me.

Chickens by mail

But no. They are selling chickens by mail. Through a comic book.

Ordinarily, I would fuzz out the address of an advertisement this old, since you can assume most businesses are either long gone or have changed addresses. However, one Google search later, I learned that not only is this business still active, but it still has the exact same P.O. Box!

So, uh. If you're in the market for chickens, I guess they have a lot of longevity. I don't think they advertise in Marvel comics anymore. But maybe they should.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Almost all I know about the 1970s tokusatsu TV series THUNDERMASK is contained in the blurry clip from Youtube. It is sourced from a multi-gen VHS tape, which is the best you can do for the show. Confusing rights issues have left it in limbo. That's too bad, as it contains directorial work from Ishiro Honda of Godzilla fame.

Osamu Tezuka is sometimes credited as having a hand in this series. I don't know about that. While he definitely was involved in a manga related to it, I wonder if that was just a paying gig for him. Certainly, August Ragone didn't discuss Tezuka helping create the show when he mentioned him in this blog entry about the series.

It sure looks cool though, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

All-Out Art Attack!

It's (finally) time again for another Return of Jetman update! This time, we're featuring new art pieces in the DX Gallery showcasing the talents of Sara Denny, Igadevil, Kabuki Katze, and Lewis Smith. They're all winners, so check them out and savor the awesomeness!

If you like what you see, drop us a comment and let us know. There will be more ROJ in your immediate future, but more than that, I cannot reveal at this time.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crisis of Multiple Sales

As you might recall, I recently posted an entry where I discussed the upcoming Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5 in glowing terms. I'm not the only person who feels this enthusiasm. Trust me, I'm as shocked as anyone about lots of people being interested in something I like this much. However, numbers don't lie.

Numbers? Well, yes. Mostly to satisfy my own curiosity, I traveled to the invaluable Comics Chronicles to find the pre-order numbers for previous books in this series. What I found shocked even me. I knew these books had to be popular if they kept making them, but I had no real idea. They are really popular.

With the blessing of Mr. John Jackson Miller, owner of the Comics Chronicles, I've extracted the pertinent data to share with you. These are pre-order numbers ONLY for these books through Diamond Comics Distributors ONLY. In other words, these numbers don't factor in reorders or sales outside of Diamond channels. The numbers in bold are each book's ranking on Diamond's list of top trade paperbacks/graphic novels.

  • July 2002 - #2 - Crisis On Multiple Earths - $14.95 - DC - 9,100
  • October 2003 - #5 - Crisis On Multiple Earths Vol. 2 - $14.95 - DC - 5,544
  • July 2004 - #7 - Crisis On Multiple Earths Vol. 3 - $14.95 - DC - 5,619
  • December 2005 - #9 - Crisis On Multiple Earths : The Team-Ups Vol. 1 - $14.99 - DC - 4,566
  • May 2006 - #4 - Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4 - $14.99 - DC - 5,568
  • March 2007 - #12 - Crisis On Multiple Earths : The Team-Ups Vol. 2 - $14.99 - DC - 3,791

It's worth noting that I think those 2002 numbers are probably rounded. Still, ranked number 2? That's higher than even the pre-orders for a collection of Marvel's then-popular title The Ultimates!

Those numbers place the earlier volumes as among DC's best-selling collected editions in recent years. So it's no wonder they would be interested in producing a fifth volume, and hopefully sixth and seventh ones to complete the JLA/JSA team-ups. Ahhhhh, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Will the new volume of Crisis on Multiple Earths bring in similar pre-order numbers? Or will the gap between the last volume and the general softening of the collected edition market drop them drastically? All we can do is wait and see!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Even Though I'm Full Of Sin

There are many things to love about the KISS song "Calling Doctor Love", but perhaps my favorite is the way they emphasize the word "kiss" in it as if incorporating the band's name into the lyrics in such a fashion was the height of clever wordplay.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Most Wanted Reprints : Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5

I have strong opinions about certain comics that I would really, really like to see reprinted so they will have a place on my bookshelf. This sounded like a good idea for an occasional feature on the blog, so here we are. And what better way to kick off this "Most Wanted Reprints" series than a book I have been asking for for ages?

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5 was originally announced in 2006 for April 2007 release, along with Crisis on Multiple Earths : The Team-Ups Vol. 2 for March 2007. Well, those months came and went and Team-Ups was solicited and arrived, but Volume 5 of the "main" series was M.I.A. It was never even solicited! So I waited and waited. But guess what? This story has a happy ending! Before we get there, let's look at what the proposed contents of this Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5 would be.

(For those of you coming late to my nerd party, these volumes collect issues that team the Justice League with the Justice Society. Clear?)

Justice League of America #159 & #160 have our two teams taking on "heroes out of time" like Jonah Hex and Enemy Ace. It's all part of a larger plot by the Lord of Time, the JLA's answer to Kang the Conqueror except with a snappy goatee. It's an odd way to get a third "group" into the mix - possibly THE oddest except for that whole pesky Earth Prime story from a few years earlier.

Justice League of America #171 & #172 is the first story to involve solely the JLA and JSA in a few years. It's also a murder mystery, which is not something you usually see in books with this many people in colorful outfits. I'm not sure it plays entirely fair, but I enjoyed it a lot when I was 6, and actually figured out the culprit. No, really.

Justice League of America #183, #184, & #185 is another three-parter, the first since 1976. It brings our heroes together with the New Gods, in battle with Darkseid. If anyone gave a damn about continuity, I'd tell you this follows directly from the New Gods shortlived revival series in the late 1970s. But they don't, so never mind. #183 was the last issue of JLA completed by Dick Dillin prior to his untimely passing. The story was completed by George Perez, no stranger to drawing crowd scenes himself.

In 2007, I wrote the following :

So, there's your contents, more or less. The announced cover for this volume will be by George Perez, whenever it actually comes to pass. Speculation is that some film from this period has gone missing, perhaps more than was originally known, and the art has to be reconstructed. Hopefully, that process will be completed soon, and I can have this book in my greedy paws.

It took far longer than I would've liked, but according to the George Perez fansite and those friendly folks at Amazon, I'll be getting my wish in April 2010!

Perez in 2010: DC Classic Library - JLA by George Perez #2 and Crisis on Multiple Earths #5

Yipee! I'm sure we can thank a healthy reproduction budget for those "Classic Comic Library" books for making this possible. Which does remind me that I need to look into ordering Volume 1 of that series too.

Next time in this series (whenever there is a next time!), I'll likely discuss a reprint project that hasn't been officially announced. I have no idea which one that might be, and there's always the chance that reality could beat me to the punch again!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Batman's Thoughts On Love

Holy fear of commitment, Batman!

Holy fear of commitment, Batman!

Source : Batman From The 30s To The 70s (Bonanza Books, 1971). Original source : Batman #153 (Feb. 1963). Writer : Bill Finger. Penciller : Sheldon Moldoff. Inker : Charles Paris. Editor : Jack Schiff. Info source : GCD. Batman, Batwoman, & artwork © DC COMICS.

2009 Thoughts : I have been posting this picture online since at least 2002, so it's only fitting that it should appear here. The story in question can currently be seen in full color in the trade paperback Batman : The Greatest Stories Ever Told Vol. 2. Tell 'em OWARI sent ya!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Toei Tokusatsu Hero Box - Bonus Disc

(It's the end of the line today!)

3-D has always been a pain in the neck, or more properly the eyeballs, for me. I can appreciate the effect, but after a few minutes of wearing those goofy glasses, I've had enough. It's just too taxing on my peepers, and I'd like to keep them in good shape. So it's with decidedly mixed feelings that I review the bonus disc in this set.

It's not that the movies aren't good. All three of them are very entertaining, and I'd say they compare well to the other featurettes in this collection. No, the source of my pain, and the reason these movies got consigned to what is labeled a "bonus" disc, is that all of them have several 3-D interludes. These are rather charmingly set up in the movies themselves, in some nice breaking of the fourth wall. When the narrator informs me it's time to don my glasses,though, I know I'm in for some action and some watery eyes.

First up to bat is the 1960s series KAMEN NO NINJA AKA KAGE ("Masked Ninja Red Shadow"), a lively and colorful fantasy action series from when those things were the exception rather than the rule. Things naturally got a lot more elaborate in the years ahead, but the anachronistic delights in this show are pretty nifty. This particular flick is pieced together from episodes with new footage tying it together and supplying the 3-D sequences as well. The patchwork nature doesn't distract from the fun. And hey, did I mention it has ninja?

JINZO NINGEN KIKAIDA ("Android Kikaider") is quite possibly the most famous show represented in this set, due in no small part to the folks at Generation Kikaida keeping the dream alive for those Americans lucky enough to have seen the show on TV. While this all-new featurette is perhaps not the pinnacle of the series, it does a more than adequate job, and has some of the best segues to 3-D in terms of comedy value. Oh, and let's not forget the main villain getting into an argument with the audience! If you are a newbie and would like to sample any of the movies I've discussed in these reviews, this one is your best bet. It's available on Volume 9 of Generation Kikaida's KIKAIDA DVDs, and it even has English subtitles on that release! Warning : completely addictive.

Our last mini-masterpiece is INAZUMAN, which my pal Igadevil (making a triumphant return to his blogging duties, I might add!) informs me is possibly one of the earliest examples of Toei creating a blatant "AU" (alternate universe). You see, this movie is essentially a remake (or did it come first?) of the finale of the INAZUMAN TV series, only with a healthier budget. I'm sure it varies in several additional ways, but I haven't seen those episodes so never mind. What I can tell you is that there is a war between two different groups of baddies going on in addition to the deviltry that our mighty mothman must manage.

And that, as they say, is that. It boggles my mind to realize that I began this series in December 2008 on my journal, before this blog even existed. I've somehow managed to hit my goal of posting one installment of it per month since I began this latest incarnation of OWARI. I hope everyone has enjoyed my quirky journey through this rather amazing collection.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Al Williamson's Flash Gordon

The Flesk Publications book Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic may just be the finest comics/art book I purchase all year.

As you might gather from the title, this tome collects the Flash Gordon artwork produced by Al Williamson. Williamson is justly revered for his talents, and a cursory glance at the samples at the link above will demonstrate why. But Flash Gordon in particular is near and dear to his heart, as it was Flash who started him on the road to his artistic career. So Williamson's work on the character is always truly heartfelt.

The bulk of the art comes from three sources : the 1960s run of King Comics' Flash Gordon title, the adaptation of the 1980 movie published by Gold Key, and a two issue limited series from Marvel in the 1990s. This gives the reader the opportunity to trace the evolution of Williamson's career and talents through his favorite character. It's an eye-opening experience.

In terms of story, none of them are especially distinguished. The 1960s stories are pulpish action, but rather simplistic. The movie adaptation was, to me, almost incomprehensible. Is that a reflection of the movie, or just the condensed nature of the script? The 1990s mini is a bit more rewarding, and was probably the most interesting story of the lot. But Flash Gordon is more about gorgeous, fantastic set pieces than complex narratives, and all of the stories deliver those in spades.

Accompanying the artwork is running commentary by Mark Schultz, creator of Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. His insights are remarkably astute, as perhaps benefits one artist examining the work of another. What's more, the vast majority of the pieces included are reproduced directly from the original artwork. This adds considerably to the ability to appreciate just how good Al Williamson's work was.

I give Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon my highest possible recommendation.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Houston, You Have A Problem

Over the last few months, I've gotten into the habit of reading Craigslist personals. I usually end up on the Houston page, since my local CLs are too small to have much of interest. The ads are often just as horrifying as you've heard, but that's really the appeal. It's perversely amusing to see just how messed up they can get. Take this little gem which I picked up from Houston's "adult gigs" section. I posted about it on my journal when it was still current, but this is the gift that keeps on giving. E-mail redacted, obviously, and adult situations, obviously :

Want free video games/ (Southwest Houston)

Date: 2009-06-02, 8:13PM CDT

To be absolutely short I am offering 8 (eight) PS2, PSP, Xbox 360 and Wii games to any hot, yet average girl who is willing to be a co-star in my amateur pron film.

•Location: Southwest Houston
•it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
•Compensation: 8 (eight) PS2, PSP, Xbox 360 and Wii games-do what you want: give them to family, trade em...pawn em if you want

Wow. I will confess, I'm curious as to whether this...uh...."plan" worked.

Monday, August 3, 2009


How can you tell I'm a child of the 1970s? Because I have a superhero named CONEHEAD!

Yes, Conehead was apparently born in 1978, and was obviously inspired by the recurring "Conehead" sketches on Saturday Night Live. How I got exposed to them is a mystery, but I'm assuming it was because they were part of the cultural landscape and not confined strictly to SNL.

Conehead was super strong, invulnerable, could know, the usual Superman-type schtick. The part about him that absolutely slays me is that I drew him with a MASK. Apparently, that is so he can blend in with the other coneheaded people.

(I have this vague memory that, at one point, the "conehead" was false, and he had a regular head underneath it. That probably wasn't the original idea, and it sure doesn't explain the mask.)

Conehead was a member of my first group of superheroes, which was dubbed "The Secret Society". I was very original with group names, wasn't I? Eventually, the Society was supplanted as my "main" superhero group by the Legion of Heroes. Some Society members were shifted to the Legion, some faded entirely, and the rest were assigned to their own parallel Earth. Conehead hung around for this incarnation of the Society, and the vintage inset drawing of him is from that time. But with all the characters I made up in those days, the remaining members of the Secret Society just got crowded out of the picture.

Conehead and his latter-day Secret Society teammates are rather unique in my stable of characters in that I had color pictures of all of them. Unfortunately, none of those pictures reproduce well. I usually drew very tiny pencil figures in those days, and the only colors I had handy were crayons. Yeah, not exactly ideal. But from this dilemma arose opportunity.

You see, I'd been itching to draw some of these old guys since I started digging them up in 2007. Well, I had color schemes for a few of them, but no color pictures to post. Why not draw a NEW picture or two, add computer color, and post them on the Internet? I could even add in an older drawing for comparison.

So I did. Conehead was such a deliciously surreal character that I knew he had to be in the public arena. And now, some 30 years after his creation, the mighty Conehead is here!