Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ultimate American Chronology

1914: Tex Truman (his legal name) is born in west Texas.

1928: Tex is caught up in a fiery meteorite impact that leaves scorched earth for a radius of 150 feet. Miraculously, he is uninjured, though he will have flashbacks to the event for decades to come.

1932: Tex enrolls in the United States Military Academy at West Point following his graduation from high school.

1936: Tex enters service in the U.S. Army after graduation from West Point.

1937: Tex marries Anna Malone.

1939: Tex and Anna Truman have their only child, a son named Joseph ("Joe" for short).

1940: Having risen to the rank of captain, Tex Truman is chosen as the ideal candidate for the government's top secret Ultimate American Project. The Ultimate American, dubbed "the Faceless Defender of Democracy", is created to combat U.S. enemies at home and abroad and to inspire the American public.

1941: Tex, as Ultimate American, encounters his arch-foe the Masked Menace for the first time. The United States officially enters World War II later that year, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7.

1945: World War II officially ends with victory for the Allies. Ultimate American is still the public face of the U.S. Armed Forces, but has privately grown disenchanted with his role in the military.

1946: Tex Truman officially leaves active duty with the Army, but continues his career as Ultimate American through the offices of the newly-formed C.H.I.E.F. (Command Headquarters, International Espionage Force).

1948: The Masked Menace apparently dies after being gunned down by his own gang during a battle with Ultimate American.

1949: Ultimate American vanishes for two weeks during a case which is still classified. When he is finally found, tests reveal that his body chemistry has been altered and his aging process greatly slowed. The practical result is that he will age approximately one year physically every 10 years.

1950: Tex Truman puts his Ultimate American identity into temporary semi-retirement to spend more time with his family.

1953: Ultimate American returns to full duty to battle the forces of Third World, which has became a major threat to U.S. security since its formation after WWII.

1954: The Masked Menace inexplicably reappears to challenge Ultimate American, despite being killed six years earlier.

1956: Joe Truman graduates from high school at the top of his class and enters the U.S. Military Academy.

1959: Ultimate American seemingly crushes the forces of Third World. In reality, he has only dealt the organization a setback, and it will return stronger than ever by 1965.

1960: Joe Truman graduates from West Point and enters the U.S. Army.

1966: Weary after 26 years of fighting, and his marriage becoming increasingly strained, Tex Truman passes the mantle of Ultimate American to his son Joe. Joe is reassigned to C.H.I.E.F. by the White House, where he will be supervised by his father.

1967: Joe Truman as Ultimate American II defeats King Zaur, emperor of the Reptile People, in an important triumph for the still-new hero.

1968: Tex Truman's "permanent" retirement as Ultimate American I is short-lived, as Ultimate American II is captured by the resurrected Masked Menace. Tex rescues Joe from the clutches of his old enemy, and the pair teams up to foil the Menace's latest scheme. Tex hangs up his costume afterward, but the younger Truman resents his father for "horning in" on his case.

1970: Citing irreconcilable differences, Anna Truman files for divorce. Tex does not contest it, and their marriage ends shortly afterward.

1971: Ultimate American II brings down the El Oceano branch of Third World, dealing a major blow to the subversive organization.

1973: Tex Truman is part of a contingent that uncovers a raft of Third World double agents in C.H.I.E.F.'s ranks. For meritorious service, Tex is promoted to director of the bureau when the previous director steps down.

1974: Becoming uncomfortable with the government's role in his career, Joe Truman resigns from C.H.I.E.F. and continues as Ultimate American II as a private citizen. His activities are tacitly approved so long as they do not run counter to the best interests of the United States.

1975: Tex and Joe Truman have a major falling out for still-undisclosed reasons. They will never speak to one another again.

1977: Ultimate American II and the Masked Menace meet in a "final" battle. The Menace accidentally stabs himself with his own knife and plummets from the top of the Mando Building. His body is not recovered.

1979: Having reverted to her maiden name, Anna Malone dies peacefully of natural causes at the age of 66. Her son Joe is by her side at the end. Tex pays his respects at the funeral, but father and son make a point to avoid each other.

1981: King Zaur is trapped in an iceberg off the coast of Antarctica during a showdown with Ultimate American II.

1983: Tex Truman steps down as director of C.H.I.E.F., and limits his services to that of consultant and liaison. For all intents and purposes, he has finally retired.

1984: The Masked Menace returns yet again, still claiming to be the original from 1941. Ultimate American II bests him in a savage duel to the death, and the Menace crumbles to dust after he expires. He has not returned to date.

1985: Internal C.H.I.E.F. reports indicate a renewed strengthening of Third World, but Joe ignores all attempts at communication from his father to report this development.

1986: Joe Truman, a.k.a. Ultimate American II, disappears under mysterious circumstances on March 22. He has not been seen or heard from since that date.


30 years ago: Tex Truman marries Gabrielle Fitzgerald, a C.H.I.E.F. codebreaker. She retires from active duty just prior to their wedding.

25 years ago: Tex and Gabrielle Truman have a son, Dean.

14 years ago: Tex and Gabrielle Truman have a daughter, Deborah ("Debbie").

7 years ago: Dean graduates from high school firmly in the middle of his class, and enrolls in El Oceano's Magnifica University.

4 years ago: After the public debut of Captain Satellite, Dean Truman quietly drops out of Magnifica and agrees to undergo training with C.H.I.E.F. to become the third Ultimate American.

3 years ago: Dean Truman as Ultimate American III makes his first appearance by assisting other heroes in stopping Third World's Macro Warrior attack on Major City. The Invincible Alliance is subsequently formed, and Ultimate American III is elected leader, despite having the least experience. Tex Truman is brought out of retirement to serve as liaison to C.H.I.E.F. for the group, due to his expertise with such matters and his personal stake in his son's career.

TODAY: Dean Truman has grown into the roles of both Ultimate American III and leader of the Invincible Alliance, though neither is ever easy. Tex continues to work with the Invincible Alliance, and helps his wife Gabrielle raise their teenage daughter Debbie. Joe Truman's fate is still unknown, but Ultimate American III has sworn to one day uncover the truth.

My Captain Satellite stories rarely, and I do mean rarely, get comments. But that's OK, because I do them for precisely one reason - I have a story to tell. Hopefully, at least a few people will eventually read them.

When I cooked up the backstory for my character Ultimate American, I made the point to attach real dates to certain events. I rarely do that in an effort to keep things "timeless", and I wasn't really sure it was a good idea. But, I had committed myself a bit more strongly than just a random date or name that could be changed in my write-up, so I chose to make the best of things.

I've had the idea that I'd like to supplement Ultimate American's story, but I couldn't decide on an approach that appealed to me. Then, the one and only Lewis Smith rekindled my interest in the old Marvel Universe Handbooks of the 1980s and 1990s. After reveling in those outdated but gloriously nostalgic tomes, I got the idea that I'd like to try, as Lewis put it, "doing my Peter Sanderson thing" and build an honest-to-goodness timeline for the Ultimate American characters. I mean, I've been doing a smarty-pants profiles for awhile, so it was only a hop, skip, and a stumble to something a little more straight-faced.

But only a little, mind you. Writing this was the best laugh I've had in a couple of weeks. It was a ton of fun to devise details and allude to stories that have never been written. I came away from it feeling like I knew all these characters a bit better, and wanting to play in this corner of my sandbox again someday.

I fudged on the latter half's dates, in the name of not tying the contemporary storyline down to specifics. You can fit those events into the regular chronology from today's perspective if you like, but they are subject to the famous "sliding timescale". Just so you know.

Will we learn more about the stories of the Ultimate Americans and their friends and foes? I guess we'll just have to see!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Baker's Dozen Of Great Old Songs

Recently, on the Book of Faces, Kabuki Katze posted the following message :
I'm on a mission to find 60's-70's rock tunes for [the Koala], any suggestions of your faves? Either side of the Atlantic is fair game.
Well, that time period and genre is right up my musical alley. There was, however, the slight hitch that Kabu is a lot more versed in the so-called "classic rock" period than your average 20-something female in 2010. I mean, we met through a mutual love of Blue Öyster Cult, and she has an undisguised affection for bands like Traffic and Uriah Heep. So to find rock tunes from that era that were new to her, I would have to dig a little deeper into the vaults of my mind.

I wound up posting nine songs, guessing that at least some would fit the bill. Afterward, I started musing that this would be a great list to put on the blog, too. To spice things up, I added four "bonus tracks" that were not in my original suggestions. That is entirely due to the fact that I did not think of them at the time.

This is by no means a complete or ordered list of anything, and I reserve the right to discuss any of these in the future. But for now, here are 13 cool songs you should check out!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Turbo Boosted

The other night, I was watching the 1987 theatrical movie of the Japanese sentai Maskman (y'know, like ya do) when I was reminded that their big carrier ship is called "Turboranger". That's the thing on the linked page that is directly below the team on their motorcycles. No big deal, right? All that stuff has wild names. Well, if you're vaguely familiar with 1980s-era sentai (and believe me, you're excused if you're not), that name might sound familiar to you. Specifically because Turboranger is also the name of the 1989 sentai series.

I still find this kind of odd. Toei does recycle names here and there in their tokusatsu series . I mean, with 50 or so years of the genre under their belts, some duplication is inevitable. What's striking is to use almost exactly the same name for two different things (vehicle vs. team) in two series that are so close together in the same subgenre.

Whoa, wait a sec, hold on. Almost the same? I thought I said they were both called "Turboranger"? Well, they are - in English. However, in Japanese, it's a whole other story. The Maskman vehicle's name is written ターボランジャー in Japanese, while the 1989 team's name is written ターボレンジャー. There is a subtle difference of exactly one kana between them, but they both still say "Turboranger".

I had a theory regarding this. Occasionally, Toei has included a KANJI spelling of "ranger" in sentai. Rather than the phonetic katakana レンジャー (defined as "ranger" in the dictionaries), they put forth the alternate rendering of 連者. These two kanji together could be roughly defined as something along the lines of "group member". So suppose the レンジャー (renjâ) was reserved for a ranger that was a person while ランジャー (ranjâ) was a ranger that was a vehicle. It was an intriguing solution.

Except the evidence indicates that it's not true. One trip to the Japanese Wikipedia netted me an entry dedicated to the Ford Ranger.

Click Here!

If you are attentive, you'll notice they write the vehicle's name with the レンジャー (renjâ) spelling.

Therefore, I am stumped, and I put forth this mystery to the Internet at large. Is there any reason why Toei used the same name, with a slight kana variation, in two almost consecutive sentai series for two completely different things? Or was it just one of those "Well, why not?" sort of deals?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kimber Rachelle - A "Special Friend"

Kimber Rachelle is a bit of a first - she's the first Captain Satellite character to be realized WITHOUT a drawing from me. In fact, I never intended there to ever be a picture of her. But when Kabuki Katze (links coming in a paragraph or two!) began offering bust commissions, I realized this would be the perfect vehicle for some of my supporting cast that might not merit a full profile pic. Kimber just happens to be the initial foray into this realm.

Kimber Rachelle is the movie star who is very important to the robot Elektroid. (You can see a more "realistic" rendering of Elektroid here.) I came up with her distinctive screen name by mashing together the names of earlier Shelly Ericson types from my writing. I asked Kabuki to use Veronica Lake as a starting point for her design, as that woman just epitomized the glamorous starlet look.

Be sure to give Kabuki's entries on her blog & her dA some love, too!

Friday, September 24, 2010



You have heard much about EL BEARDO through OWARI, gentle reader, but EL BEARDO is certain there is one question that is on your mind. Namely, when can you know more about the sex god that is EL BEARDO? That day is today! Though EL BEARDO needs no introduction, you will get one anyway!

EL BEARDO, OWARI's erstwhile mascot and devil-may-care bon vivant, first came into the public eye in 1996. Since then, it has been one big party, much to the chagrin of OWARI's honcho, the evil mastermind some men call Chris Elam. EL BEARDO continually brings all of you the greatest thing you will ever see in your lives. Yes, it is EL BEARDO in the rugged manly flesh. Marvel at the chiseled features and sheer sex appeal that threatens to overwhelm you.

EL BEARDO whiles away the idle hours, of which there are many, cruising the wild streets of Lake Charles, Louisiana in the famous lavender 1973 AMC Gremlin emblazoned with the "I Brake For Monster Booty!" bumper sticker. Tomfoolery is EL BEARDO's stock in trade and it is never in short supply in the LC.

What does EL BEARDO enjoy more than tomfoolery? WENCHES! In fact, if you are of the female persuasion and promise not to be carrying any mace or pepper spray-like products, EL BEARDO would be more than happy to invite you up to see EL BEARDO’s etchings. They are legendary!

EL BEARDO has much enjoyed this “Internet” device, especially when EL BEARDO learned it was not just a net for catching interns. (NOTE : this is a good use for it as well, though) EL BEARDO delights in tormenting assorted, rogues, varlets, and of course the Polyester Pimpernel on those occasions when EL BEARDO is not too drunk to plug in the computer.

EL BEARDO enjoys making havoc in the playgrounds of OWARI’s evil mastermind. Of course, EL BEARDO frequently is foiled in his jests and ends up paying the penalty. But still, as long as there are Doritos and pictures of Naomi Morinaga in the world, EL BEARDO knows that the evil mastermind can be subjected to further punishment.

EL BEARDO is tired now, or perhaps drunk again. FEAR THE BEARD!

Based on the article appearing in OWARI #12 (Oct.-Nov. 2005)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Those Whimsical '70s Reprint Editors"

I did not start the message board thread that gives this entry its title, but I contributed to it and think it contains some interesting comics knowledge that is in danger of being ignored. So with thanks to the poster going by the handle "bettybrant" (I think this is actually a fella, by the way) for getting the ball rolling, we'll outline some revelations here.

It began with the revelation that Marvel Triple Action #45 does NOT contain excerpted panels from Avengers #52 as noted in the GCD index, but rather three completely new pages. This led to some discussion as to the reasons why this was done and who might be responsible for these new pages. At this point, I'd say MTA editor Jim Salicrup is the best candidate for scripter, and Sal Buscema seems the popular choice as penciller.

It could have ended there, but happily, it didn't. The discussion turned to other 1970s/early 1980s Marvel reprints, and more specifically, to new material prepared for them. Among the goodies that were posted were a number of new covers, some retooled covers, and a brand-new splash page used in Marvel Super Action #17.

By this time, the link to one of the best resources for these books on the net, Arthur's Marvel Comics Reprints Website, was posted (though sadly, it has not been updated in several years), and I figured the revelations were drawing to a close. Then "Urban" posted the "Avengers Hall of Fame" features that ran in the final three issues of Marvel Super Action, and in the middle of people trying to guess who DREW them, Roger Stern himself popped up and told us that he WROTE them. Wow! He also said that he believed they were pencilled by Bob Budiansky (a name that is not usually mentioned in these situations) and possibly inked by Josef Rubinstein.

(Uncle Roger also confirmed my long-held theory that Marvel Super Action #4, the "Marvel Boy" issue, was a tactic to maintain a trademark on that name. It was simply easier to slot reprints into MSA than it was to prepare a new story for a character with that name.)

There were a couple more cool things that subsequently turned up : proof that the cover to Marvel Super Action #32 was actually by Marie Severin, and a side-by-side comparison of the Hulk back-up that ran in Marvel Super Action #34 and the pages from the U.K. strip that served as its basis. Crazy, wild stuff that I never would have dreamed of learning when I was buying these books new off the newsstands!

The thread has quieted down now, and is probably done. But I don't want to lose the knowledge that I gained from it, so I wrote this entry to both link to the thread and summarize what I consider its most important points.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

OWARI #1 (October/November 1995)

I know the date above says "October/November", but my admittedly sketchy memory of things is that I finished putting together the first issue of my fanzine earlier than I'd anticipated. Hence, I am pretty sure I shipped out the earliest copies of OWARI #1 in September. That would make this month the 15th anniversary of OWARI.

Oh, and I should tell you that I don't have any more copies of this issue, or most issues of OWARI. I never felt any great attachment to the printed versions, since I knew I'd have the layouts for my files. This retrospective will be based on those layouts.

We'll look at the cover first, seeing as how I've uploaded a scan of it and everything. Your clue that it is from my layouts and not a printed copy is the faded "#1" which I wrote directly on that bullet glued to the cover. Let's just say that the ink pens I was using in those days turned out to have some long-term issues with the ink gradually turning a greenish hue.

I created that "OWARI" logo, but I was never very happy with it. The idea of a bilingual logo was sound, but I didn't have enough artistic skill to make it work properly (a recurring theme in OWARI's fanzine days). The calligraphy of the hiragana for "owari" came out well, and the matching of the syllables looked decent. I even managed to create proper-looking circles by tracing the shapes of coins (same method as for the "#1" slug). It's just in the English lettering that everything fell apart. I decided to junk it entirely after this issue, but fate intervened in a most pleasant way.

The cover is by Lewis Smith, but don't expect to see it in any of his online galleries. Point of fact, he NEVER intended that art to be the cover of anything. It was a whimsical drawing he had done for his own amusement and then sent to me. I don't THINK he ever expressed regret over that decision, but he got a fair amount of static from some quarters when I chose to use it as the cover to my first issue.

Look, let me say that if anyone deserved grief over the cover of OWARI #1, it was me, and not Lewis. Trust me, he was just as surprised as anyone to see it up front, much less carrying the hand-lettered (by me!) title "Rangers on Vacation". In retrospect, I think I could have represented his artwork better than by going with my oddball sense of humor and running a swimsuit cover. However, after seeing early covers for the venerable Japanese Fantasy Film Journal fanzine, I am wondering why my cover caused such a fuss.

The editorial page was pretty standard fare, though I am still proud to this day of the masterstroke that led me to title it The Beginning of "The End". The indicia at the bottom of the page is possibly more interesting than anything I had to say in my editorial. First, it is a paste-up, though why I covered the original version is something I no longer recall. Second, it is the only place where I listed the price of the 'zine ($1.50). Third, it is where I coined OWARI's original subtitle - "The Fanzine For People Entirely Too Interested In Japanese Sci-Fi". Having to lose that tongue-in-cheek label was one of the only downsides in broadening OWARI's horizons in later years. Finally, OWARI is listed as being published by "Captain Satellite Productions"! Yes, this was probably my first public use of the name of my favorite homemade hero. I'm just lucky no one ever tried to make out a check or money order to that non-existent publisher!

Next came the acknowledgments page, which puzzles me now. Why didn't I put this at the end to wrap up the issue? Learning curve, I guess. There was a special thanks to Lewis for his many contributions, because he put together almost half of the issue's contents himself. I also thanked a number of other people and a few companies, and gave a "recommended reading" list. I seem to recall this generated some unhappiness because I failed to give contact info for any of the publications on the latter list. Probably a fair point, but I did feel I was too obscure for such things to matter.

The page was rounded out, such as it is, by possibly the nadir of my self-publishing efforts (other than that one thing which doesn't count) - a hand-scribbled video want list. This somehow seemed appropriate in those video trading days, but the execution of it looks downright embarrassing now. Oh well. There is also a B&W version of this picture, which almost redeems the page's shortcomings by being both endearing and ridiculous simultaneously.

At long last, we arrive at the content of the 'zine itself and it's...not bad, all things considered. The lead article was titled "Varan The Unbelievable : Facts Vs. Myths" and ran approximately two and a half pages. The purpose here was to clear up some misconceptions about the 1962 U.S. incarnation of this 1958 Toho film. I think I acquitted myself decently, despite the fact that I had not yet even SEEN the Japanese version. As a result, I made a couple of mistakes, and failed to outline some of the trivia points that worm their way into the "Americanized" Varan. This is one I'd like to take another crack at someday, though the version of the film it discusses is threatening to fade into total obscurity.

The remainder of the third page of the Varan article was filled out by a piece on YOG - MONSTER FROM SPACE. Rather than telling you about it, I'll just point you to the updated version I posted here in January. I had hoped this would prompt some sleuthing by people with more resources, but so far, that hasn't happened.

"Two Mecha In Every Garage" was a collection of Japanese monster toy reviews done by Lewis Smith, and it ran 3 pages plus some change. Truthfully, my interest in the toy collecting side of kaiju fandom (and toy collecting in general) was pretty minimal even then, but this was part of my effort to give Lewis a chance to write about things that interested him in the pages of OWARI. Covered in this article were Bandai's Serpentera toy from the Power Rangers line, and Trendmasters' Garuda and 10" Mechagodzilla.

Lewis' article ran a few lines past three pages, so I needed to find something to complete the rest of that fourth page. This led me to put together the feature that was probably the most popular thing associated with that first issue. I wrote a spirited though brief defense of the monster King Seesar from GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974) and illustrated it with a pair of images to cover the fact that the write-up wasn't very long. Ah, but those pictures probably only added to the interest. You see, I made the point to link the monster with the shisa of legend that inspired him, and included a shot of one of the statues from a Japanese guide book I owned. I also cobbled together a rendering of キングシーサー, the katakana for King Seesar's name.

I probably will rerun this article someday on the blog, but only for historical purposes. The King Seesar/shisa connection has been made numerous times since its publication, but it was a unique insight (it seemed to me) in the Western Godzilla community circa 1995. Or maybe I had just missed the previous attempts?

"Where In The World Is Kenji Sahara?" most plainly reminds us of the time period that birthed OWARI, because a Carmen Sandiego reference was topical then. Now, it just sounds quaintly dated. Pop culture can be fickle that way. Anyway, this 2 page overview of Kenji Sahara's career might be the first such dedicated article for Sahara, or in fact ANY tokusatsu film actor, in the English language. Certainly, I don't think there were many prior to this. There are omissions out the wazoo, owing mostly to my limited knowledge base and source material at the time. There's also a rather annoying error that snuck in due to my repeating faulty information from one of my references. Even so, this article established the OWARI policy that the actors and actresses in Japanese monster movies were of equal importance to the monsters and hardware. That was, and is, pretty bold.

Lurking at the bottom of the Kenji Sahara article was the debut of "O-Factoids" - brief bits of information, or sometimes silly jokes, that I wanted to share, but didn't feel like merited an article. People usually liked these, even though they were mostly filler. In fact, I totally missed them the first time I reviewed the contents of this issue!

"Mysterious Shadow : Guyver 3" was a two page fanfiction authored by Lewis Smith that follows the continuity of the film GUYVER 2 : DARK HERO. In it, Lewis brings in some elements from the manga and/or anime (I'm no Guyver expert,folks!) and applies them to the movie version. I'm unsure now, but this may have been the first time Lewis' fiction had been seen by a wider audience. Of course, he's done a fair amount of that sort of thing since with Gunmetal Black and Seven Spheres Legend.

And that, as they say, was that, though you can read about behind-the-scenes stuff here and here. OWARI #1 was 14 pages all told, and they were all single-sided, too. Why? Well, my layouts were ridiculously flimsy and I feared they wouldn't hold together if I gave them to someone else for printing. Besides, I just couldn't see moving enough copies to warrant a mass-printing. It turned out I was correct, though OWARI #1 was probably seen by more people than any other issue. As you can imagine, that was a double-edged sword.

Looking back, I am impressed by the energy and enthusiasm on display in that first issue. The writing needs some fine-tuning, but that would come with experience. If there is truly a downfall, it's that the whole package just looks crude. Part of that is due to a sheer lack of ability, and I learned and improved as I went. But another factor that can't be discounted was a lack of resources. I created my portions of OWARI either by hand or via typewriter, and it shows. Lewis' pages were computer printouts (dot matrix, in fact) and therefore appear a bit more "modern". The rest of the issue looks suspiciously as if it fell out of a time warp from the 1970s.

Still, everything has to start somewhere, and this was where OWARI started some 15 years ago.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

K! K! Robotto Keiji!

Say, you remember yesterday's post about Sean Moore, right? Sure you do! Well, I scheduled that post well in advance without realizing that Monday was also Sean's birthday! Hope it was a happy one, sir!

Also, I want to show you something I swiped from Sean's page. But it's OK, because I paid him for it!

That, friends and neighbors, is a sketch card of the Japanese superhero Robot Keiji. He was the winner of one of the polls Sean has been running on his page regarding subjects for pre-made sketch cards. When I saw him, I knew it would be awesome to own him, too.

Sean has other pre-drawn cards up for sale, at bargain prices. Check 'em out and see if one strikes your fancy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

PSC Wave 3 - Part 2

We're back with another look at Personal Sketch Cards of Captain Satellite characters done by Sean Moore!

This batch is a little different than the last one, because I asked Sean to use other folks' interpretations of Hugo Beaumont, the Phantom Rogue, and Thunder Man as a guide, rather than my own. I pointed him to this picture by Kabuki Katze for Hugo and the Rogue and this picture by Lordwormm for Thunder Man. I feel like Sean really captured all three of them nicely. I especially like the retro hero feel to Thunder Man.

More to come!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just A Friendly ROJ Reminder

After letting the narrative take a week off, has come roaring back this week with the return of "New Return of Jetman". NROJ is a 7 episode sequel to the 14 episode original ROJ series. It is filled with plenty of old favorites, together with some surprising newcomers.

NROJ has been a bizarre journey for me personally since I began it in 2005. Now, the conclusion is just a few weeks and a few edits away. That's really exciting! Keep your eyes peeled because, as I keep mentioning, the power-packed end is due on October 26, 2010!

Join us, effendi?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Mother Has A Way With Words

Upon seeing an allegedly famous person on TV that I didn't recognize (a common occurrence these days), I asked my mother who this person was. Her answer?
She's some floozy that turned her life around.
Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Atlas?" I Shrugged

I am usually not on top of breaking news, but it caught my attention yesterday that Atlas Comics has been announced as relaunching. This is the line Martin Goodman ran briefly in the 1970s, using the old "Atlas" moniker that had been associated with his Magazine Management. And if you are familiar with comics lore, you recognize several of those names from the history of Marvel Comics.

I own a number of those 1970s Atlas Comics and they are...interesting. Usually not great, but I can see where an enterprising soul might look to them as properties that have potential. If you'd like to learn about the history of the original Atlas/Seaboard endeavor, I can think of no finer resource than The Atlas Archives. It has a ton of material on the ill-fated first incarnation of this Atlas.

It is a tough marketplace today, so I wish these guys a lot of luck in making this happen. And if they choose to revive the immortal title Police Action, I have a suggestion for the perfect person to write it. Seriously, Atlas, call him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)

You can thank Mr. David McRobie at Xenorama for my introduction to "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)" by the studio group Reunion. It was on a vinyl record he sent me (remember those?), and it sort of dazzled me from the get-go.

By now, surely you have clicked the link to the fan video for the song. It's a nice little montage related to the song's content, which is chock-full of all sorts of references delivered in rapid fire style. Some writers have compared this to the rap music which was just in its embryonic development in clubs, but I just don't see it. Blondie's "Rapture" was definitely influenced by the hip hop scene, but this tune sounds more like just a coincidence to me. 1974 isn't too early for rap, but it sounds way too early for either that movement to influence "Life Is A Rock" or for the song to influence the development of the style.

Listening to this now, it strikes me as a little poignant in our day and age. More music is available than ever, but you wonder if it will ever achieve the widespread cultural status that it did back in the times the song celebrates. Will today's pop stars earn their place alongside the icons namechecked by Joey Levine in "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)"? What will the music scene be like in another 35 years? And will there be a radio to roll you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lady of Larceny

It probably will come as no surprise to those of you who follow this blog that I enlisted Kabuki Katze in my efforts to bring Sultura to life.

I gave KK a lot of free reign with Sultura, to take my drawing and extrapolate it into something even more colorful. I did suggest the addition of a corset in there, since a) it fit the character and b) it fits the sort of thing she likes to draw. I also suggested she be lounging amidst loot, and specifically asked that she have grey eyes. There are many elements that carry over from my design, but they've been tweaked. And the suit is shiny because, as Kabuki put it, she does love shiny.

This one was a lot of fun, because Sultura is just so BAD but so good at it. Be sure to check out Kabuki's page for it on dA, too!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My World : The Scary Metal People

The Scary Metal People are one of the richest and most esteemed rock groups in history. Unsurprisingly, they are also a bunch of nutters.

Scary Metal People lead guitarist, vocalist, and de facto leader Arthur Crudlip first came into the public eye as "Arthur Shoe Leather", using the gimmick of a singing shoeshine boy. He scored a smash hit on the U.K. music charts with his debut record, "Shine Your Shoes (For Tupence)". Subsequent releases under the Shoe Leather moniker were unsuccessful, and Crudlip abandoned both it and the act itself, later calling that phase of his career "a giant cock-up".

Left to his own devices (a dangerous proposition if there ever was one), Crudlip recruited Smythe Niblett (rhythm guitar), Geoffrey Toober (bass), and Nigel Null (drums) to form a band. This quartet dubbed themselves "The Scary Metal People" for reasons which are lost in a drunken haze, and went on to perform in the sessions that led to the Scary Metal People's classic debut album Wampeter For Trouble. Among the favorites on this strong maiden effort are "The Bees That Sting Me (Ouch)" ("Beeeeeeees are upon me/And they're stiiiiiiiinging") "Big Ol' Brain" ("MY BRAIN!" x 6), and "Kill Them All And Fall Asleep" (unintelligible except for the chorus).

The line-up of the Scary Metal People (gleefully dubbed "The World's Most Obnoxious Band" by the rock press) has remained intact and unchanged since their formation, unusual for such a durable group and downright confounding considering their often peculiar life choices. They have recently been on tour promoting their latest album, Billion Pound Bootblack and its single, the fourth new version of "Shine Your Shoes (For Tunpence)" in the Scary Metal People's catalog. Crudlip insists that the album's title is a reference to all the money he has generated through his music career, and not to his burgeoning waistline.

During one particular stop of their tour, at the Indigo Mollusk in Major City, the Scary Metal People were attacked by one-time associate Zoragaza the Mystic. Fortunately, the Blue Behemoth was attending the show and subdued the mad magician with the aid of his allies in the Invincible Alliance. Grateful for the save, the Scary Metal People invited the Alliance to appear on-stage with them two months later at a benefit show organized by Paul Mann and Pat August at Miles Major Memorial Stadium. Blue Behemoth (playing guitar on his custom-made Fender Stratocaster), Drone Man (keyboards), Ultimate American (cowbell), Firegirl (tambourine), and Elektroid (triangle) accompanied the Scary Metal People on the brand-new song Crudlip wrote especially for the performance, "Wizards Are Wankers".

Wampeter For Trouble
Matzahs Moody
Hardcore Bragging
Beware The Bowered Blowfly
Sextain Tacit
Hyena Thwack!
Dazzled By The Microdot
Billion Pound Bootblack

I first ran across the term "scary metal people" in the magazine Hero Special Edition : The 100 Most Important Comics of All Time! (Warrior Publications; May 1994). It appears in a write-up for Brain Boy #6, and if this confuses you, rest assured that comic is not on the list. No, it shows up in a feature on "The Doofiest Books of All". None of the individual pieces in this article are credited, which is a pity. An inquiry to Frank Kurtz, one-time editor of the main Hero Illustrated yielded the possibility that it may have been Special Edition editor Mike Stokes who penned the review that added "scary metal people", "wampeter for trouble", and "MY BRAIN!" to my personal in-joke lexicon.

Anyway, as you've certainly guessed, I found "scary metal people" inexplicably hilarious. I used it as part of the title of my old GreatestJournal account, and even filled out a "make a band with your friends" LiveJournal quiz where I utilized it as the name of my fake band. The latter supplied many of the album titles listed above, though I freely mixed and matched the words for my own devious purposes.

In coloring in the world of Captain Satellite, I thought it would be funny to take the plunge and make the Scary Metal People into a "real" band. After all, I had been saying for years prior to the LJ quiz that it would be a great name for a band. This profile incorporates a number of notions that I thought would be humorous and help the Scary Metal People better fit into the wild and wacky world of super-doings.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Invaders #41 Rarities by Alan Kupperberg

I've been remiss in discussing comics here lately, which is odd considering the fact that I'm certainly reading a lot of them. I have no doubt I'll be babbling about some of the stuff currently sitting on my shelf for months to come. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

One book that I made it through in record time was Invaders Classic Vol. 4. Boy, did it take me back. Though my appreciation of Frank Robbins has skyrocketed in the last decade, I still consider those later 1970s issues of The Invaders drawn by Alan Kupperberg to be among my favorite Marvel Comics. It definitely helps to have both Roy Thomas and Don Glut, two writers I enjoy, masterminding the plotting and dialogue.

A story in this volume that holds particular sentimental value for me is the one from Invaders #41. That double-sized issue was the last of the series, and I still can tell you the exact location where I bought my first copy. I didn't know that the book was already dead, and that this issue was merely a special to wrap up dangling plot threads. In my innocence, I waited to find another one, until I learned there would be no more.

This particular stroll down memory lane is not meant as a review of either Invaders Classic Vol. 4 or Invaders #41. Rather, it is a set-up to links to original art from the latter comic. I am in awe of collectors of original comic art, as this is something I can probably never do for a variety of reasons. But I love to admire from afar, and the Comic Art Fans site affords me plenty of opportunities for that. Two such treasures that I discovered there are from Invaders #41, and so it means a lot to me to able to see the originals.

Invaders #41 p23 does not look like this in the published comic. This is how the page was originally drawn, when it was meant to be the splash page for the never-to-be-published Invaders #42. When I figured out that the comic was really two issues merged into one, I decided that this page must have been the original splash. It's really cool to see it in its intended form at last.

Invaders #41 p46 & 47 DPS just kills me, and is one of those pieces that I sort of envy a little. This double-page spread concluded that final issue, and absolutely knocked my socks off as a proto-superhero fan. I knew many of those characters from my earlier issues, but I had never seen a few before. And just why were some of the "modern" Avengers depicted with all those 1940s-era types?

Gradually, I learned the answers to my questions. But this mini-poster has never left my memory, and remains one of my favorite images from one of my favorite comics.

What's Alan Kupperberg up to these days? Well, check out to find out!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What I Learned From Thunder Prince

As someone out there might recall, I mentioned in December that I intended to write about Korean cartoon DVDs I own this year. Well, I did manage to sit through DEFENDERS OF SPACE in March. Since then, I weep softly every time I contemplate making a stab at the copy of RAIDERS OF GALAXY that has been sitting on my player for months. So I think it is safe to say that I am waving the white flag on this goal, at least for the near future. Which isn't to say I won't inflict more reviews of them on you - you just won't see it coming.

However, this post isn't entirely about me wussing out on watching terrible animated movies for your voyeuristic amusement. No no, when I first bought these back in 2006, I took some screenshots of the martial arts one entitled THUNDER PRINCE to better illustrate the "lesson" which it taught me. Today, we shall review that lesson.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Johnny Lee VS. The Grass Roots

The Grass Roots are a band that I discovered relatively recently, and I still find that a little odd. They put out a number of enjoyable pop songs, such as "Temptation Eyes", "Midnight Confessions" and "Two Divided By One", that really hold up well all these years later. And yet? They are largely forgotten by the public at large. This is despite the fact that they were reasonably successful and popular in their time. I don't get it.

Perhaps my favorite Grass Roots song is "Sooner or Later", which you can hear in this homemade video. It's a great little tune, but it struck me as a curio the first time I heard it, and I still think that every time I hear it. Check out at approximately 1:17 in that video, when the tempo changes and these lyrics are heard :

You've been looking for love
In all the wrong places
You've been looking for love
All the wrong faces

Is it just me, or does that sound kind of familiar?

Yes, the Grass Roots song "Sooner or Later" anticipates Johnny Lee's "Looking For Love" (most famous from URBAN COWBOY) by something like 9 years. And while I don't doubt the veracity of the story Johnny Lee tells of the origin of his signature song, I really REALLY wonder if those two schoolteachers from Gulfport, Mississippi who wrote "Looking For Love" had ever heard the Grass Roots.

It's just one of those interesting little things I've noticed over time. And for the record, if I'm looking for some Johnny Lee, I usually prefer "Cherokee Fiddle" myself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

JR's Titan Khan Commission

I have known JR The Monsterboy since 2005, and he has done a number of awesome pictures for me for the Return of Jetman site. Not too terribly long ago, he made a post over on Ye Olde deviantArt seeking potential commissions to offset some unexpected expenses. Well, I had been considering hiring JR for a little thing I had in mind anyway, so that sealed the issue.

This is JR's interpretation of Titan Khan. I have a pretty good handle on subjects JR likes to draw, and I though this guy would be right up his alley. As you can see, I totally called that one. JR brought his "A" game and created a powerful image that I think will really serve the character well.

Thank you, JR! Interested parties can also check out the dA page for this picture.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Denjin Zaboga


I've seen the name of the show 電人ザボーガー transliterated a number of ways, but we'll stick with the literal "Denjin Zaboga" for our purposes. It can't confuse people anymore than usual!

I've only seen the first episode of DENJIN ZABOGA, so I won't pretend I can offer a critique on the show as a whole. That first episode was quite good, and even features a baddie that looks unsettlingly like Silvar from THE SPACE GIANTS gone wrong. It's just I've never taken the time to track down and/or watch further episodes. One day, I may have to remedy that. (And yes, I am aware of their presence on Youtube.)

Zaboga itself is a marvelously illogical robot that is at once extremely toy-friendly and functionally impossible. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking it. No, if anything I'm impressed that they got away with it so flagrantly. The robot into motorcycle conceit is one thing, but how does that helicopter in the head contraption even work? Ah, as Jack Kirby once said, "Don't ask, just buy it!"

Akira Yamaguchi toplines as hero Yutaka Daimon. Yamaguchi is primarily revered in tokusatsu fandom for his relatively few but quite memorable appearances as Riderman in the KAMEN RIDER franchise. He's a guy who would probably still be in demand to this day, but his life was cut far too short by lung cancer.

If you click over to this video, you'll see the opening for the later episodes of the series, when the whole thing got revamped. By then, Zaboga merged(?) with another motorcycle(?) to become something I am told is called "Strong Zaboga". This bit is all I've seen of that incarnation.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Adorable Is This?

Recently, my esteemed colleague and bestower of art goodness Kabuki Katze delivered to me a pair of slightly belated but extremely wonderful birthday gifts. What were they?