Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jetman: The Magazine

Here's one of those things that probably only interests me. During the closing credits of the sentai series CHOJIN SENTAI JETMAN, the commander (played by Mikiko Miki) is shown reading a magazine. Finally, my curiosity drove me to take a screenshot to see what it said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Third In A Series

This is not me.

I am pretty sure I couldn't contort myself into most of those positions.

(His company is the Misnomer Dance Theater.)

EDIT: Video link replaced.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Divine Dames: Now Available for Ordering!

You read that right, friends! That illustrious illustrator Kabuki Katze now has her SECOND art book available for pre-order! Yes, it's true! Divine Dames can be yours for a mere pittance!

Wait, there's more! Additionally, through a special-limited time offer, you can receive a personalized copy for LESS than list price! Can you believe it? But hurry! This landmark deal absolutely, positively ends at the stroke of midnight on December 9, 2011! The book will still be available, but your chance for an autographed copy is only during pre-orders!

For more information on Divine Dames, please visit this entry on Kabuki's blog!, e-mail now! Operators are standing by!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Don't Be That Way, Firegirl

I'm sure your day will come.

(A bonus doodle that accompanied the recent sketch cards created for me by Kabuki Katze. You can learn more about it here.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Actual Conversation

C. Elam: The All-Christmas music format is bad enough, but Dan Fogelberg is just rubbing my nose in it.
Gonzo Rev: It makes me very angry, sir.
C. Elam: I would pay to never hear "Same Old Lang Syne" ever again.
Gonzo Rev: My man bits tingle at the thought of such a possibility.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Love Greater Than Any Continuity


From All-Star Comics #23 (Winter 1944-5), as reprinted in All Star Comics Archives Volume 5. Writer: Gardner Fox. Artist: Sheldon Moldoff. Hawkman & artwork © DC Comics.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Andrea True Is A War Machine

Those of you out there with long memories may recall my endorsement of Andrea True Connection from last year. One of the lines that I tossed off in that review was the following:

Alas, Andrea's foray into a more punk rock sound (really) appears lost in the vinyl wilderness. One supposes that project is well beyond whatever commercial appeal True's music still possesses.

You'll never believe what I found the other night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

OWARI #4 (April 1999)

Time has a funny way of playing tricks on our memory. Before I actually sat down to examine OWARI #4 for the first time in awhile, I had no recollection that I had been entertaining thoughts of reviving my fanzine prior to taking the plunge with it. Digging a little deeper, I think I can connect the dots and follow my thought process at the time. But that is something of a continuing subplot that will be finding its way into these reviews (he said ominously).

So it seems the thought HAD occurred to bring OWARI back, despite having declared it finished at some point in 1998. Then I remembered what a pain it had been to produce and ship the 'zine, and that killed the idea. Or did it? I distinctly recall being on campus of my old school to pick up my sister and letting my mind idly wander while I waited on her for some reason. As it did, I thought about OWARI and remembered how August Ragone and company's Henshin! had been distributed as a free newsletter. That meant plenty of publicity for the eventual launch of their full-scale magazine (which never happened, but that's a story I don't know).

That was when the thunderbolt of inspiration struck. Why not revive a free newsletter? It had never made any profit, so the goal was mainly to get it out there to the public. With this resolve, I was reinvigorated, and decided the time was right for OWARI to return. I set forth my goal of having it ready for April 1999 by dating it as such at the outset (it was still March) and began my work.

Astonishingly, it took a grand total of ONE WEEK to go from initial idea to finished product. I was never that fast either before or after this issue, but I was inspired and it drove me. The end result is the one time I can say I was truly satisfied with an issue. And it came out a month early!

I opened with the editorial seen on the front of the newsletter above. Yeah, covers were gone in this format switch. I was working on a word processor rather than a typewriter, and that freedom allowed me to experiment. It was far from perfect, but it looked much smoother than the results I'd previously been able to achieve. I explained a little of the whys of OWARI's disappearance and return, and even came clean on that little fiasco in #3. However, I would like to assure you that the sub-headline was solely intended to be tongue-in-cheek.

I opened up the contents proper by reviewing RED DWARF Series 8. Well, more like the first three episodes of Series 8. I'm still not sure the last two series of that show were a good idea, but they have strong points. Next on my list were the two Godzilla CDs issued by GNP/Crescendo, and this write-up recounts a funny story I'd totally forgotten: the trying-to-be-helpful clerk who pointed out to me that they were NOT the soundtrack to the American Godzilla movie. Poor guy, he had no clue why I'd want those instead.

For the first time, I profiled Big Bang Comics, which was still being published by Image in those days. I also alluded to a "manuscript" about BB in this piece, which ties into those pre-revival thoughts and the running subplot. So more on it next time.

Look at that, I talked up a VHS tape on the early career of pro wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler that I'd unearthed in a now-closed video store. Then I scratched my head over the film BRUCE LEE AGAINST SUPERMEN, which needs to happen again one day. I next promoted my friends in spotlighting both Lewis Smith's now-defunct "House of Hardcore" website and David McRobie's Xenorama fanzine. Finally, I did a humor thing on a Superman statue that is probably going to be recycled one of these days.

I closed things out in this brief 5 page newsletter with an op-ed section I dubbed "Tilting at Windmills with a Toothpick". I had latched onto this name in the preceding two years, but this was the first time it made it into print. And that was a wrap for the long-awaited fourth issue.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's easy to see that this newsletter is sort of a proto-blog. It jumps around with little rhyme or reason, but I like to think that has been one of my trademarks here. It hits on most of the subjects we cover now on a regular basis. In many respects, OWARI #4 is still serving as the blueprint for OWARI as a whole, just like it did when I mailed it out into the world over 12 years ago.

There would be more OWARIs to come, and the fanzine version never again would please me as much as it did right at this moment. But for one week, I was on fire, and there was literally no stopping me from creating and publishing my own fanzine. It was an amazing burst of creativity after wondering if that chapter of my life was closing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Secret Fun Blog

Secret Fun Blog is a place I encountered, lost, and then recently rediscovered. It is an extension of the site Secret Fun Spot, and both sites live up to their names. In other words, they are filled with FUN! They are loaded with classic junk culture and Americana of the finest order. In fact, if I haven't added the Secret Fun Blog to my blogroll by the time you read this, it will be there soon.

The whole reason I found this wonderful site is because they are created by Kirk DeMaris, who is also the author of a book called Mail-Order Mysteries. Mail-Order Mysteries is devoted to the stuff that was being made available in old comic book ads, and answers a lot of age-old questions. There is even a trailer(!) for this book, which I've embedded below. I covet this book, and it shall be mine soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Who is Pason? Well, the photo above is Pason, my friend. She is an actress making her mark in the film/TV entertainment field, and I think she has the mix of beauty, talent, presence & dedication to be one of the biggest stars in the business. But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. You can check out the lady's demo reel and see the range of roles she's already tackled in her career. In just under a year, she's wrapped 9 feature films, 3 music videos, 2 shorts, a comedy skit on LOPEZ TONIGHT, the web series “Under the Doghouse” & been featured twice on Nick Swardson’s PRETEND TIME (Season 2). This lady is taking the industry by storm!

My personal favorite of what I've seen so far? Probably the Southern comedy clip. Pason is JUST. SO. SASSY. Plus, as the owner of a genuine Southern accent, it's always a pleasure to hear a real one. Pason is originally from Georgia/Tennessee, you see, though she has a number of accents at her disposal.

Are you intrigued? I think you just might be! Well, your source for All Pason, All The Time is Pason's website Pason Actress. There you will find way more photos, videos (including an interview!), and even a storefront to buy autographed photos. I recommend it highly!

There is so much more to Pason and her talent than I can do justice to in a single entry. She has studied acting for 13 years - privately the past few years with Amy Lyndon - and believes you should always be honing your art. All I can say? Check out what Pason is up to these days, and discover her unique charm. She has a charisma and screen presence that I find unbeatable!

Oh, and a special hat tip to Pason herself, for supplying me with her headshot and a more complete list of credits. Thank you for making this entry even better than it would have been without your help!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Interlude 1

We'll be taking a breather from the Owariverse Encyclopedia this week (and possibly next week) as I work out the order for Section III. This particular portion of the project is especially exciting to me, as it will feature more all-new profiles than Section II. The characters might not be quite as colorful, but that doesn't mean that their backstories can't be intriguing.

This brings up something that I feel I need to remind my readers. Though there is much in the Owariverse Encyclopedia that is familiar, there is plenty of new stuff lurking in these profiles. Give them a read, and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Maybe you'll even discover a new favorite!

Back soon!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Otherside (Revisited)

I've been sort of surprised to discover that this entry gets traffic regularly. I say "surprised" because the search term that leads people to it is almost invariably..."german expressionism in music". Who knew?

Unfortunately, the Red Hot Chili Peppers video for "Otherside" will not play anymore - at least not in the United States. The message I get on it is that it isn't available in my country. This is a bit annoying, since that channel seems to have a degree of authorization (the video is still there; I just can't access it) and "Otherside" was not available at the time on RHCP's official channel.

However, all is not lost. The video is on the official channel now. Therefore, because I think that highly of it, I once again link you to "Otherside" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

(Embedding disabled upon request. Rats!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Evil Maposaurus, Prepare To Meet Your Doom

Say, remember this Garmin commercial that debuted during the 2007 Super Bowl?

I went BANANAS when I saw this loving homage to Japanese giant hero shows in the vein of Ultraman. It's quite the attention getter, and even caught the notice of fans in Japan.

There's also the little matter of the song. I learned it was by Steve Grimmett, a British metal guy probably best known for being in the band Grim Reaper. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that there is a longer version of this commercial presented as a "music video" for Steve Grimmett.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Crazy Horses

My latest song discovery is a little number called "Crazy Horses". The twist is that it is by a group I didn't think interested me that much. Who? The Osmonds, that's who. Here they are, going absolutely mental.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Have You Gone, Duke Mitchell?

A few months ago, I featured a screenshot from a movie called SEX IN THE COMICS. For a variety of reasons, you probably won't be seeing a review of this film anytime soon. Trust me, you should be grateful.

One point of contention that I saw come up in discussions of this flick was whether one of the masked male performers (don't ask) was Duke Mitchell. It seems a couple of folks thought they recognized his voice beneath the latex. But who, you ask, was Duke Mitchell?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Media Blasters' Destroy All Monsters - The Whole D.A.M. DVD

Since I wrote this entry, I've had the chance to finish the DVD. Well, almost - I don't think I need to check out the Japanese 5.1 track since a) I have a regular old school TV, and b) I have already watched the movie four times. I would assume that, for me, 5.1 would be like 2.0, only much louder. So take that into consideration as you read the rest of my report.

First, an observation that may be exclusive to me. Has anyone else had an issue where the disc was not "recognized" by the player? This has happened on every single first attempt I've made with the DVD. However, it always plays on the second attempt. This has occurred both when I ejected the disc and tried again and when I just pressed the Open/Close buttons in rapid succession without removing the disc. My DVD player is pretty old, and prone to being eccentric with discs at times. It is entirely plausible to me that this is an issue with my equipment more than the DVD itself, but I thought it merited mentioning.

All right, so MB deserves accolades for having five separate audio tracks on a Godzilla DVD: the aforementioned Japanese 5.1, Japanese 2.0, two different English dubs (relax, more on this in a bit), and a commentary track. The commentary, by Ed Godziszewski and Steve Ryfle, is quite informative and mostly well-executed. There are a couple of gaffes in it (I'll let you find them), and I think they are unduly harsh when discussing the "International" version. But more on that when we discuss it proper in a paragraph. My biggest complaint is the way that certain quotes from filmmakers are integrated into the commentary. We are introduced to some segments as being excerpts from taped interviews. We briefly hear the beginning (very low), and then a translation is read to us. The problem is that the use of the excerpts is superfluous since they are mostly inaudible. I realize that translation is an issue here, but if the tapes are to be used, it would be preferable to subtitle them so we can hear them. If you're going to talk over them, why bother utilizing them at all?

The default track on the DVD is the English dub prepared by William Ross and his Frontier Enterprises - the so-called International version. This is interesting considering the beating it takes on the commentary track. But, is it that inferior? Well, actually, I would argue that it is not. Most viewers do not care about the quality of the English dubbing; they just want the movie in English. In that respect, the work of Ross and company is perfectly serviceable. The U.S. dub is probably more artistically successful, and has better actors, but dubbing is an inexact science at best. I do not think the average person would notice or care about the differences. Frankly, the mystique of the U.S. dubs owes more to nostalgia than their being wildly better, and I say this as someone who DOES prefer them in most instances!

Ross and company acquit themselves adequately. No one would mistake their dubbing for a work of genius, but they usually get the point across. I watched this dub with the subtitles for the Japanese version, and in instances where the translations diverged, I found the dub script phrasing to be more interesting than the subtitle phrasing at least 50% of the time. Considering how often those scripts get hammered, I think that's pretty good! Things do go off the rails a bit more as the movie wears on, though. The sequence where the dubbing crew is obviously totally at sea is the usage of all the technical terms pertaining to the Moon (probably an addition to the script by director Ishiro Honda). Things like "Cassini crater" and "Montes Alpes" clearly confused them, and they just winged it, leading to at least one reference to "Mount Cassini" slipping into the dialogue. Overall, though, I think their dub is acceptable.

As mentioned in my first post on this disc, the AIP dub was a big selling point. I am happy to report that it is largely fine after a shaky beginning that likely owes to damage in the source print. But honestly, I have NEVER SEEN a copy of the AIP version that wasn't missing at least some minor piece. Yes, the sound is lower than any other track, and yes, there is background noise. Guess what? If you want this dub track, you'll just have to deal with it. At this late date, I would imagine you'd be hard-pressed to find any print that is in pristine shape, and it's not like we'll be gaining access to the original elements.

It is a great dubbing track, with interesting voices throughout. Hal Linden voices the hero, and definitely gives original lead Akira Kubo a run for his money. And I would just like to put this out there right now - narrator Norman Rose was not only clearly blessed with a better voice and delivery than the International version narrator, but I would also rate him higher than the Japanese narrator. He hits the right note on every single word.

Oh, you wanna know about the Japanese track? Very good! The subtitles are well-done, with very few of the missteps that have characterized previous attempts at subtitling such films. I do have a couple of quibbles, and those nitpicks will get a little airtime. One, while "Bonin Islands" is technically correct, I question its use in the one context where EVERYONE refers to that island chain as "Ogasawara". Second, when the board in the defense HQ reads in English "District 14", etc., why would you use Roman numerals in the subtitles? Referring to "District 8" as "area VIII" manages to be simultaneously lazy and too complicated. Still, in the grand scheme of things, these are minor issues compared to the almost startlingly literate and accurate subtitles. Heck, I even learned some things! (Why did Rodan let the SY-3 escape? Because they left the atmosphere, that's why.) After enduring years of sloppy subtitles with misspellings, bad grammar, and full-blown errors, I am always delighted to report when a company does a good job.

(Aside: My "favorite" subtitling head-scratcher came in one of those fan-made efforts when there were repeated references to a "cyborg refrigeration unit". Since there were no cyborgs in the movie that I noticed, and I couldn't figure out why they'd need to be refrigerated if there were, this left me stumped for a little while. Only later did I dope out that the translator had mistaken 細胞 - saibou - for "cyborg". "Saibou" means "cell" in the biology sense, so a cell refrigeration unit makes more sense than a place for cyborgs to cool off.)

The picture quality is excellent, derived from the Japanese print rather than the International print. It does have the somewhat muted color that characterizes Toho's efforts at film preservation, and a cursory check revealed that this particular film has not been released as part of their new masters on Blu-Ray over in Japan. It could probably be improved, but still far and away superior to what we've dealt with in the past.

I discussed the extras in our first post on this subject, and that hasn't been altered. I should probably add that there are also trailers for other Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock releases. Among them is the upcoming GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, though the original Japanese trailer isn't subtitled to explicitly promote that release. Strange, I thought. I understand the Blu-Ray has a handful of exclusive extras, including the English language main titles for the International version. I may end up getting that release too, just for the goodies.

Heck, this is a great release, and one I am happy to own. I mean, isn't it nice to have a DESTROY ALL MONSTERS DVD with an on-screen menu? With chapters? The old DVD was practically obsolete when it was issued, so this is a welcome replacement.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (U-Z)

Ultimate American: The Ultimate American - The Faceless Defender of Democracy! An ordinary young man named Dean Truman was given the identity of Ultimate American by the U.S. government in response to the proliferation of super beings following the debut of Captain Satellite. Truman was considered an ideal candidate to assume the mantle based on the prior service of his father Tex Truman and half-brother Joe Truman in battling unusual threats.

Ultimate American made his first appearance during the case that led to the formation of the Invincible Alliance. He soon found himself elected leader of that group, despite having the least experience of any of the founders. He continues to serve in that role, and does his best to keep the wild personalities of his teammates in check.

In addition to his duties with the Invincible Alliance, Ultimate American seeks to learn the fate of Joe Truman, the half-brother he never knew. There have been few clues since Joe’s disappearance 25 years ago, but Ultimate American perseveres in his search. He has sworn to one day find the answer, no matter how long it takes.

Urban Nightmare: After the debut of Captain Satellite as a very public hero based in Major City, it was perhaps inevitable that a counterpoint to him would emerge sooner or later. Urban Nightmare is that counterpoint. He is a street level crimefighter who stalks the inner city of Major City, referred to as “The Minors” by locals. No one knows his true identity, though there are some potent rumors in circulation. Few suspect that the Urban Nightmare is actually respected civic leader Xolani Shabangu.

Urban Nightmare shuns publicity, and appears in the limelight only with great reluctance. His most famous adventure was his part in combating the Macro Warrior invasion of Major City that resulted in the founding of the Invincible Alliance. Though considered a charter member of that group, he only operates with them when it suits him - in other words, rarely. He is not an active member of the Alliance, but is instead respected and feared as an effective and enigmatic force of justice.

Sandor Varkoff: “Mad science” is still not a recognized discipline, but if it ever is, Dr. Sandor Varkoff would be an excellent candidate for accreditation in the field. Varkoff has a vast body of knowledge in a wide range of specialties, and is unquestionably a genius. Unfortunately, this brilliant man is also extremely twisted, and has a penchant for hatching plans that can only be called “crackpot.”

Dr. Varkoff's career path as a mad scientist has led him to butt heads with Captain Satellite, Shelly Ericson, and the Invincible Alliance. He has never been particularly successful in any of these clashes, but he's persistent. You have probably heard the popular wisdom on doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Dr. Sandor Varkoff's chief claim to fame is being the creator of Elektroid, the robot which rebelled against him and later joined the heroes of the Invincible Alliance. Varkoff was also responsible for unleashing the giant gorilla Gargantua Maximus on an unsuspecting world before losing control of the beast. Notice a pattern here?

Volcano Monsters: No one is quite sure how the Volcano Monsters exist in the first place. They are apparently a small tribe of semi-intelligent, rock-based humanoids that live within certain volcanoes scattered around the globe. The logistics of how this works are mind-bending.

When the Invincible Alliance journeyed to Japan to investigate suspicious activity originating from Mt. Aso, they had no idea that the case would change one of their members forever. But that’s exactly what happened when the Volcano Monsters emerged from the simmering crater. Firegirl took the full brunt of a blast of magma from a Volcano Monster and tumbled into the boiling lava below.

Not only did Firegirl miraculously survive this experience, but she somehow gained the ability to manipulate heat and fire through her body rather than her Pyro Pistol. Blue Behemoth and Drone Man would later theorize that the Volcano Monsters’ magma possesses special properties that interacted with innate alterations in Firegirl’s body chemistry due to prolonged exposure to the Pyro Pistol. Firegirl sort of nodded silently at that explanation.

Using her newfound flame powers, Firegirl aided the rest of the Alliance in turning back the threat of a Volcano Monster rampage, and the creatures retreated back into the earth. There have been no subsequent sightings of the Volcano Monsters since that incident. However, it just seems like a matter of time until they crawl out of another venthole somewhere.

Zoragaza the Mystic: According to Zoragaza the Mystic, he is centuries old. While this may be the case, what has been officially documented is his lengthy career as a con man plying his trade in carnival sideshows, seedy dives, and dilapidated storefront theaters. His first brush with fame came decades ago when he was featured on the album cover Forests of Mind Wizardry for the highly-regarded progressive rock band Solar Cyclops. This indirectly led to a series of concert gigs creating illusions for rival music act the Scary Metal People. Zoragaza later described his services during this time as that of “spiritual guru,” but Scary Metal People guitarist and lead singer Arthur Crudlip calls those allegations “bollocks” and characterizes Zoragaza as “a daft old bugger.” Strong words indeed coming from Crudlip, who is known to chew on glass during his all-night benders.

Zoragaza's entertainment endeavors were short-lived, and he found himself back in his familiar environment. While at the pawn shop looking for money to purchase the cheapest wine that comes in a brown paper bag, he acquired an amulet known as the Green Sun which grants its possessor powers of actual sorcery. Using the Green Sun for malevolent purposes, Zoragaza embarked on a public and flamboyant campaign of crime. That decision has led to conflict with Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson, much to his regret.

Is Zoragaza the Mystic truly an ancient magician reclaiming his lost talents? Or is he just an opportunistic carny with a new weapon and delusions of grandeur?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dick Dillin's Originals - The Freedom Fighters

I've discussed my love of Dick Dillin's artwork here in the past, so it shouldn't be a big secret. Tonight, we'll shine a spotlight on the ORIGINAL ART from Justice League of America #107 (Sept-Oct. 1973). This comic marked the first appearance of the group of old Quality Comics heroes known as the Freedom Fighters.

We start with page 6, then hurtle headlong into 7 and 8 together! Page 9 comes next, and then we skip to page 19. We conclude with the splash page to #108, the conclusion of the two-parter.

There may be more art from this story lurking on Comicartfans, but that was all I found this evening. Still, sometimes the thrill is in the hunt!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Media Blasters' Destroy All Monsters - Initial Thoughts

You could've knocked me over with a feather when I learned that Diamond Comics Distributors would actually be shipping the Media Blasters release of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS the same week it came out. Diamond's usual procedure is to ship movies whenever they happen to get them. Promptness is not to be expected. I am pleasantly surprised.

I'm also pleasantly surprised that the disc does (finally!) contain the AIP English dubbing track. Yes, it is a bit wobbly at the outset, and yes, the sound is not as fine as the other language tracks. But hey, it's not like they had access to vaults for the original masters. It sounds to me as if the source is a 16 mm film print, and good luck finding one of those in perfect shape. I'm about halfway through and it sounds perfectly acceptable to me. Not perfect, but perfectly acceptable.

I think I have managed to work my way through most of the extras, and brother, there are a lot of them. I don't quite get the repetition in the image galleries, but I would imagine there are variations there I'm just not seeing. Kudos for including both the AIP and Japanese trailers on the disc, as well as a French(!) trailer that is beat to hell but still welcome.

I'll try to give my full impressions of this DVD next week. But for now, I'll just say Media Blasters has done a great job so far.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Major City ACEOs

Our friend Kabuki Katze recently took a handful of commissions for the ACEOs that she had previously been creating on her own. "ACEO", incidentally, stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals", and is as far as I can tell just another name for what we've been referring to as PSCs (Personal Sketch Cards). A rose by any another name, and all that.

Anyway, as you have likely surmised, I commissioned a pair of cards of that intrepid pair of mine, Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson. KK chose to do them as a puzzle set that fit together, and elected to use the backdrop of Major City to link them. And hey, get a load of the detail, huh? Sure looks like physical media is working out pretty well for her.

As always, you can take a look over at deviantArt, too. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the next time this type of commission is open if you want some of your own! I know I'M one satisfied customer!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ambassador Dentures

Ambassador Dentures by ~celamowari on deviantART

...I am sure someone is wondering what this is all about.

Essentially, the name "Ambassador Dentures" popped into my head after reading (or misreading) a sign in Lafayette. I filed it away, thinking I might do something with it one day. And lo, I did.

I had originally intended to scan this as pencils only, but it was rendered invisible. Hence, it is inked, but I didn't go to the trouble of cleaning up the scan.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (T)

Third World: The origins of the organization dubbed “Third World” are shrouded in mystery to this day. What is definitely known is that they arose during the years after World War II. Whispers say that among its founders were former Nazis, and the trappings of the group would seem to bear this out. But Third World has followed its own peculiar agenda, far separate from that of Hitler and his ilk.

Third World's goal is complete and utter world domination. This has been complicated by the numerous splinter and spin-off groups that have formed from it. Still, they work tirelessly to achieve their rather lofty goal. What they plan to do after they take over the world is still open to debate, since they don't seem to have a clear idea themselves.

Third World employs a number of super-science devices in their arsenal. They sought to kidnap Paul Mann and force him to aid them in creating more such weapons. These foiled attempts led directly to the birth of Captain Satellite, who is now the biggest thorn in Third World's side. Not good thinking on their part, was it?

Third World Leader: No one has ever learned the identity of the original Third World Leader. For all anyone knows, the current Third World Leader might be the original, rather than a successor. There have been a host of confirmed imposters, so there is no way to be certain who holds the “legitimate” claim to the title at any moment.

Whoever he is, the Third World Leader is the guiding hand behind that nefarious network. As to the question of whether this is a good thing or not for Third World, well, that is a hotly-debated topic in certain quarters. Let's just point out that Third World still hasn't established that dictatorship yet.

Thunder Man: “HE'S THUNDER-RIFIC!” the newspaper headlines proclaimed in 1938. Archaeologist Ray Bancroft announced to the public that he had discovered a survivor of the lost continent of Atlantis in a tomb nestled in ruins that had recently surfaced from the ocean floor. That survivor had proven to be Thunder Man, a super-powered champion who had been unable to prevent the Atlantean disaster. Seeking to atone for his failure, Thunder Man pledged to protect the modern world as he had his ancient homeland. The seemingly-unaging Thunder Man's amazing deeds would go on to become the stuff of legends as the decades progressed.

At least, that's how it went somewhere else.

Thunder Man is from a parallel Earth, not the one that Captain Satellite calls home. The two heroes first crossed paths when Hugo Beaumont hijacked Thunder Man from his proper universe and mesmerized him with the Hyper Hypno Coin. Captain Satellite and Thunder Man clashed until the Captain unwittingly uncovered the truth and freed his adversary from Beaumont's manipulation. The duo then joined forces to foil Beaumont's scheme.

Thunder Man repaid Captain Satellite months later, when he used his Volt Vimana craft to rescue the Captain after he had been stranded in the Unknown Zone. Since that day, the two have become true cross-dimensional allies. There are still occasions when they find themselves on opposite sides, such as the time they had to engage in a cosmic boxing match with the fate of Thunder Man's Earth at stake due to the machinations of the Astro-Giants. But usually, the pair teams up when they are on the same case.

Titan Khan: When C.H.I.E.F.'s Hong Kong bureau chief Bruce Yee (yes, he knows) contacted Captain Satellite asking for assistance about a problem he had encountered, he didn't dare elaborate further. Why? Bruce had uncovered a sinister plot against the hero masterminded by Titan Khan, Asia's newest and deadliest crimelord.

Titan Khan is an enigma. He first surfaced in Macau, but has been sighted all over Asia. He refers to himself as “Khan,” but his garb recalls that of the samurai of Japan. No one knows his true nationality, or whether he is even Asian. He has demonstrated fluency in over a dozen languages, but his “voice” in each is different and clearly mechanically-processed. Shelly Ericson suggested that he sounded like he was “badly dubbed.”

Captain Satellite, Shelly Ericson, and Bruce Yee managed to overcome Titan Khan and his confederates, but it was a monumental task. They even confiscated one of his fearsome Fire Swords, but it's a sure bet that the crimelord has more to go with the vast array of weapons installed in every inch of his armor. Titan Khan's current whereabouts are unknown, but it seems certain he will return one day.

Tregaa the Tree-Thing: Theories abound as to the origin of the being that refers to itself as Tregaa the Tree-Thing, but none have been confirmed. And let’s face it, it’s hard to pry information out of a belligerent ambulatory tree if it doesn’t feel like sharing. All that is known for certain is that Tregaa appeared in western Canada and went on an impressive rampage before being subdued by Captain Satellite, Shelly Ericson, and a new weapon dubbed the Fire Chainsaw.

There was a concerted effort to gather the remnants of Tregaa after the battle, but it seems likely that at least some pieces of wood were overlooked. Will the intelligence of Tregaa the Tree-Thing persist in random splinters? Will the monster find a way to resurrect itself? You probably shouldn’t bet against it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bishojo Kamen Poitrine

So recently over on deviantArt, I've had the chance to talk about the live action magical girls that have come down the pike in Japan. Probably my favorite (based on limited exposure) is BISHOJO KAMEN POITRINE. And the reason boils down almost entirely to star Yuko Hanashima.

Hanashima wins out over many more "mainstream" Japanese superheroine actresses for me because she has a presence that is absolutely amazing. While certainly attractive, it's not her looks that draw my attention; it's her attitude. I have described Poitrine as "arch", and I can't think of many other Japanese superheroines who fit that description at all. Yuko Hanashima is a talented actress, especially considering she was only 18 when this show was filmed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bad Weather Football Games

It doesn't come up as much here, but I find pro football terribly fascinating. And the big games? Why, they are even more fascinating! Especially when you throw in the added dimension of bad weather.

Here from the NFL's website is a list of the Top Ten Bad Weather NFL Games. Even better, they have footage from all of them!

10. "Red Right 88"

9. 1979 Bucs vs. Chiefs Monsoon

8. The Sneakers Game

7. The Snow Plow Game

6. 1948 NFL Championship

5. 1975 AFC Championship

4. 1981 AFC Championship

3. The Fog Bowl

2. "The Tuck Rule"

1. The Ice Bowl

Happy football! Now, back to this Steelers/Ravens game...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Who Is Dawn Again?

Last weekend, my dose of AMERICAN TOP 40 - THE 70s was an episode from 1970. One of the featured hits was "Candida" by Dawn. No, not Tony Orlando and Dawn; they were just called "Dawn" at this point. In fact, I knew the story that Tony Orlando originally didn't want to be credited as vocalist due to a possible perception of conflict of interest. I didn't know that Joyce Vincent and Telma Hopkins were not on "Candida", but it didn't surprise me. However, there was something that did surprise me, and I'm still trying to figure it out.

Casey Kasem of 1970 said that Dawn was four guys: Frank, Ricky, Joe, and Dave. To which my reaction was "Huh?" My best guess is that Bell Records (Dawn's label) toyed with the idea of putting a band out there as "Dawn", whether any of them played on the hit single or not. Plans went in a different direction when Tony Orlando decided to take the credit for singing a hugely popular song, and the rest is history.

Except who WERE "Frank, Ricky, Joe and Dave"? I have yet to find a reference to their identities, and it seems they aren't the actual session musicians who recorded "Candida". Who were these four guys that almost became Dawn?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (N-S)

Neptoids: The Neptoids seen on Earth are part of an advance scout party sent by alien invaders intent on taking over our world. The Neptoids are not actually from the planet Neptune, but maintain a base there to better strike at Earth. The similar name, they insist, is purely a result of our poor Earthling comprehension of their language.

The Neptoids have run afoul of Captain Satellite and the other heroes of Earth on more than one occasion. During the first such encounter, Cap and Shelly Ericson realized they were in love while they were held captive aboard a Neptoid flying saucer. No word on the Neptoids' opinion of the relationship, but the adventure didn't work out for extraterrestrial interlopers that day.

The Neptoids are dogged in their determination to conquer our globe, or at least set the stage for such a conquest. To fail would mean returning home having accomplished nothing. That probably wouldn't go well.

Phantom Rogue: The Phantom Rogue isn't in the super villain game for the power, and he isn't in it for the thrills. He's in it for the money. Cold, hard cash, please. True, he took control of a splinter faction of Third World once, but that was just the means to an end. He's after riches, pure and simple.

The Phantom Rogue has no special powers or gimmicks, though he sometimes leads people to believe that he does. No, his primary abilities are incredible greed, astonishing sneakiness, and an improbable ability to escape from danger at every turn. It's assumed that he adopted his ghost trappings to reflect his elusiveness.

The Phantom Rogue's true identity is unknown. He has impersonated assorted people, both real and of his own invention. Among his best-known capers are the time he stole Miles Major Memorial Stadium using a dirigible and holding the United States for ransom with the Stupendo Death Ray. He has run afoul of Captain Satellite several times, but always manages to find some means of escape.

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

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

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

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

Sultura: She's bad. She's ambiguously European. She's famous for being infamous. She's Sultura, and she's a constant thorn in the side of those who fight for justice.

Sultura is a safecracker, thief, kidnapper, counterfeiter - the list is seemingly endless. The most consistent trait in her career is her vanity. Her motto “I make being bad look damn good!” is not just a catchphrase, but her goal in life. Most people would not go so far as to print up fake money with their own picture on it, but most people aren't Sultura. She may end up redefining narcissism, if anyone ever discovers what the limit of hers actually is.

Sultura has particularly earned the wrath of Shelly Ericson for taunting her as Captain Satellite's “concubine” during one brazen heist. Shelly has promised that there will be payback each and every time she gets her hands on the femme fatale. And Shelly isn't the sort to make such a promise and not fulfill it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Godzilla Tanjo!

On this date in 1954, a little movie entitled ゴジラ debuted on movie screens in Japan. "Gojira", of course, is better known as "Godzilla" in the West, and served as the launching pad for a true pop culture phenomenon - the Japanese monster movie.

I don't talk as much about Japanese sci-fi as I once did, but I never forget that OWARI was originally born in 1995 to celebrate that genre. It's been 57 years, and still Godzilla endures as an icon. Here's the trailer for ゴジラ - the very first glimpse audiences had of the monster that would shake the world. You can even watch it in HD if you like!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Much For Just One Comic Book?

At some point in the last couple of years, I purchased a stack of vintage Overstreet Comic Book Price Guides. The most recent is from 1984, and the earliest is from 1974. To put that into perspective, the latter is only the fourth edition of a book that is now in its 41st edition. It is a fascinating gateway back into what was undoubtedly both a simpler and yet far more difficult time for the hobby I love.

Though I had never gotten around to it before, I'd really like to discuss these artifacts of a different age for fandom. Today, we'll take a look at the 1973-74 era prices for some key Marvel comics in Mint (near perfect) condition. Remember, at this point in history, none of these books were even 15 years old.

Fantastic Four #1 (first FF) - $70

Amazing Fantasy #15 (first Spider-Man) - $40

Incredible Hulk #1 (first Hulk) - $30

Journey into Mystery #83 (first Thor) - $20

Tales of Suspense #39 (first Iron Man) - $15

Amazing Spider-Man #1 (first issue) - $40

Avengers #1 (first Avengers) - $14

X-Men #1 (first X-Men) - $10

Avengers #4 (first Silver Age Captain America) - $5

Daredevil #1 (first Daredevil) - $9

I know those prices were probably outrageous to some in 1974. Still, wouldn't you like to jump in a time machine and go buy some $10 copies of X-Men #1? Or how about scoring a like-new copy of Avengers #4 for the princely sum of five dollars(!)? As of right now, Lone Star Comics will offer you $336 for X-Men #1 -- in FAIR condition. Meanwhile, Avengers #4 could net you $123 -- in VERY GOOD condition. And those are just the prices that a major online retailer is offering for them, not what YOU could expect to pay to BUY them.

Oh, there's also at least one Bronze Age Marvel stalwart hidden in this 1974 Price Guide. In the listing for "Spider-Man" (they didn't recognize the "Amazing" until later), the prices go up through #130. And what is the price for Amazing Spider-Man #129, the first appearance of the Punisher?

20¢. In other words, cover price.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Prism Infra-Man

Here is the clamshell box that housed Prism Entertainment's VHS release of INFRA-MAN. Oddly, this particular tape eluded me the entire time it mattered to me. Oh, I had the short-lived Sinister Cinema semi-widescreen version, and I later picked up the LP speed Goodtimes tape. That one, by the way, included a new sequence in the opening credits that highlighted the monsters right at the outset. I have never quite figured that out. Was it done because Power Rangers mania was in full bloom at the time? Or was it a strategy to establish definitive copyright? The world...may never know.

Prism's INFRA-MAN had no such foolishness, at least as far as I'm aware. It was just a straight full-screen transfer of the venerable Shaw Brothers superhero movie in its English-dubbed Joseph Brenner version. Assuming it is complete, that would make it the closest thing to the original release. Sinister's copy looked great, but it was missing a minute or two. And we've already talked about Goodtimes. I wonder if this particular iteration of INFRA-MAN will see a legitimate release? And by that, I don't mean having a mono version of its soundtrack tacked onto the Hong Kong edit. That was welcome, but it wasn't the American version.