Monday, December 31, 2012

Baby did a bad bad thing

Imagine my surprise when I logged on for a few minutes on Christmas morning and discovered this waiting for me. That's a gorgeous picture of my femme fatale Sultura, as drawn by the wonderful Nicky Flamingo. It was a surprise gift commission paid for by the equally wonderful Kabuki Katze. Both of them are fantastic artists as well as good friends. 'Nuff said?

On that note, let's bid 2012 farewell here at OWARI. See all of you in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"And he wore a stupid hat!"

NO SOAP, RADIO was a short-lived (4 weeks, I think) 1982 TV series that aired on ABC. It was a wacky blackout sketch comedy with a bit of linear story. Honestly, I don't remember a lot about it. I loved it during its brief lifespan, but I was only 9 years old. I'm not sure if it would hold up today.

However, one thing I did remember was the "Yukon Dan" sketch. The line that serves as this entry's title in particular has always made me laugh. Well, a kind soul has recently uploaded clips from NO SOAP, RADIO. Among them is the long-lost "Yukon Dan" segment. I am pleased to include it here for you.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Elam Rogues Gallery

This portrait hangs on a wall in our house. It depicts the three children of Lee and Rhea Elam, or Paw Paw and Maw Maw as I called them.

In the center is the youngest, my Aunt Georgia Beth. She is still going strong, and is probably as full of mischief as ever.

On the right side is Jerry, my father. I think you can tell just from this photo that Dad could be a piece of work sometimes, but we loved that man. We lost Dad in May 1998, and I think of him every day. No man had a bigger impact on my life, and I learned so much from his example.

On the left side is my Uncle Larry, who left us on Christmas Day. It's not my place to eulogize him, but that night I called him "one of the greatest men I've ever known." And really, what more can I say about him if you never had the pleasure of crossing paths with him?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bridgette in Space!

...Or should that be "Bridgette in Spaaaaaaaace!"?

As you might gather, this is a follow-up/companion piece to this little lady, courtesy of the always-awesome Kabuki Katze. Our subject this time was Bridgette Monet, one-time model, adult film actress, and (as "Dana Cannon") star of a Playboy pictorial that had a deep and lasting impact on yours truly. If you explore the (NSFW) Tumblr tags for her, you will see the decision to portray her as an astronaut did not appear out of thin air, but was rather inspired by a photoshoot that is more whimsical than anything else.

I think Kabuki not only captured the whimsy I had in mind for this picture, but improved upon it. Her page for it is here. Why not tell the lady yourself how much you love her work?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hyperion Icarus by Lewis Smith Appears!

This is pretty exciting to me! If you click over to the Return of Jetman site, you will see something not only awesome, but completely unexpected. My friend and ROJ creator Lewis Smith has returned to the fold with a brand-new mecha of his own creation. It never appeared in any story, but I don't think anyone will care a whit given its inherent "WOW" factor.

I present to all of you Hyperion Icarus by Lewis Smith! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas With Devo!

Well, today is the day. I'm not here right now, but off doing something else. However, thanks to the miracle of scheduling posts, I am still able to offer you a warm holiday greeting across the Internet. And really, who BETTER to deliver this message than the boys of Devo?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 6

And now, as we stand on the verge of Christmas, let's change the pace up just a mite. Here are the Ramones with "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)"! A sentiment I think is desperately needed in this day and age.

Uncanny X-Mas No. 5

Here's another little ditty from Bob Rivers with the imaginative title "Jingle Hells Bells".

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 4

Bob and Doug McKenzie bring you "12 Days of Christmas". There's lots of ideas in here, so listen and don't get stuck.

Uncanny X-Mas No. 3

Let's turn to the classics. Here's one you should know, and if you don't, now is the time to learn about it. Cheech and Chong share with you the story of "Santa Claus And His Old Lady"!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Uncanny X-Mas No. 2

Every year, people think I am making up this song. It's the one, the only, "Walkin' 'Round In Women's Underwear" by Bob Rivers!

Uncanny X-Mas No. 1

As we close in on the Christmas holiday, let's take some time for festive seasonal tunes. First on our playlist is "I Am Santa Claus" by Bob Rivers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Naomi Morinaga vs. Yuriko Hishimi

Since Yuriko Hishimi has come up twice this month, this seems like as good a time as any for me to ask a question which has bothered me for some time. As you might have gathered from my provocative title, it also involves Naomi Morinaga. Now, these two ladies have never fought, and I don't think they have ever appeared in anything together. Heck, they may not have even met, though such an occurrence would not be out of the question. No, this is more about how the two of them have oddly parallel careers, and the different reaction they have generated as a result.

Understand, both Naomi and Yuriko garnered their greatest fame with roles in superhero shows - Yuriko in ULTRASEVEN in 1967, Naomi in SHAIDER in 1984. Both were 19-20 while shooting those series, and both played characters with coincidentally similar names ("Anne" for Yuriko, "Annie" for Naomi). Both later had other prominent tokusatsu parts (for example, Yuriko was GODZILLA VS. GIGAN and Naomi a regular on SPIELBAN), but nothing that eclipsed the characters that initially earned their recognition. And most tellingly for the question I am asking, both would later do racy photoshoots and appear in films that run counter to the image of the superhero shows.

My question is, why is there such a difference in perception between what these two ladies did in their careers when they did essentially the exact same thing? Both are revered as cult figures, but Western fans seem to give Yuriko Hishimi a pass for her nude photos and movies like "Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight" (aka "Porno Jidaigeki"), whereas Naomi Morinaga is lamented as having "done porno" for her nude pictures and movies like "Toriko."

To clarify, neither woman did what we would term "pornography" in this day and age. It was softcore, not hardcore, and their photo books and movies are sold through dealers that would not carry explicit material. It's not any different in terms of exposure than those erotic thrillers that were so popular at one time in this country. It's just that Western fans don't seem to care so much about Yuriko Hishimi's colorful resume, while there is always some sort of hand-wringing and sorrow over Naomi's choices. I don't get it.

Both women were adults - in fact, Naomi was older when she did her first film nude scene (in a Toei production, no less). Neither was exploited in any way I can determine - their photos are all beautiful and tasteful, and while many of their films are not my cup of tea, they certainly don't cross any line. Both women made choices that they felt were best for their careers, and more power to them. I just sometimes feel like there is some sort of double-standard at work, as if Naomi is put on a higher pedestal for some odd reason.

I am a big fan of both Yuriko Hishimi and Naomi Morinaga. I am in no way judging either one of them. Heck, I applaud them for carving out long careers for themselves in a culture where that is not always encouraged for women. I just wish some tokusatsu fans could move past their small-minded attitudes and stop acting as if they have been done a disservice just because their childhood idol took her clothes off in front of a camera. Get over yourself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Anne?

You might recall my wondering if Anne Mari was originally supposed to play "Anne Yuri" in ULTRASEVEN, rather than Yuriko Hishimi. Well, I was recently perusing Yuriko Hishimi's Japanese Wikipedia page (like you do) and came across a stunning fact. It appears that Hishimi was not the first choice to play Anne Yuri after all! The twist is that the other actress wasn't Anne Mari either!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Behold the Viewing Globe!"

Back in September, I wrote about Amy Jo Johnson's film BENT and casually mentioned that I had discovered it because I had been wondering about her "[f]or reasons which will become clear soon enough." And then? NUTHIN'! I've been meaning to follow through on that statement, and it just kept getting pushed back. Well, today is as good as any to explain a little further.

If you know me, you have probably guessed. It's all about the Power Rangers, baby.

If we flash back in time to when I began writing seriously (that is, for public consumption), it was the Power Rangers that got my foot in the door at KAIJU REVIEW. Even earlier, it was as much my disagreement with Roy Ware about the merits of Power Rangers as it was my admiration for his work that led me to write to him care of HERO ILLUSTRATED during the time when he wrote a column for that magazine. Roy graciously chose to ignore any youthful obnoxiousness on my part and generously offered to help get me started in a fandom that had long seemed an impossibility for someone like me to enter. As I have told him, I owe a great deal of who I am today to Roy Ware. And, indirectly though it might be, I also owe the Power Rangers for driving me to write him.

The thing is, I lost interest in the Power Rangers early in the process. In 1996, I declared myself pretty much over them. In print, no less! Since then, I've occasionally checked out episodes here and there, and even endured TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE in the theater. But I've never felt the need to return to the fold and the fandom I was part of before it even was a fandom.

Recently, Shout! Factory has licensed many of the Saban shows for DVD. This has led me to being confronted by 2 separate volumes of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS marketed as being "Season 1." Of course, I was helpless before the allure of the shows that had actually intrigued me way back in the day. Of course, I had to buy them. It wasn't even a question.

The first thing that struck me in revisiting these episodes almost (gulp!) 20 years after I first watched was how much I actually remembered. There were many, many things that I hadn't thought about in a long time that all of a sudden were as clear (and silly) as yesterday. Oh, I had forgotten plenty, and that was to expected. But it was a little surprising how much about Power Rangers was still lurking in my brain.

What was almost as surprising was how entertaining the show was. Now, I won't argue with you that it is classic TV, and I sure hope I never made that argument back in 1994-95. But it moves at a lightning clip and has a surprising amount of action. I know the usual busybodies protested this, since we must NEVER EVER have anything resembling action in a children's show. I am sure that is still an ongoing discussion, though not as much since those people can't get noticed by going after the Power Rangers since it's not as popular.

You can analyze it all you want, but the reason Power Rangers was such a sensation when it made the airwaves was because it was fun. It didn't hurt to have the dinosaur tie-in right when JURASSIC PARK was hot (a lucky coincidence!), but that wouldn't have mattered if the show hadn't been able to capture the imagination of kids. Yes, it was goofy, sometimes preachy, often incoherent, and the American footage is so cheaply shot that it almost physically hurts. All of that is immaterial when you consider the video landscape when the show premiered. It's not fair to compare it to its Japanese counterparts, or even the still-new BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. No, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is the spiritual brother of fare like ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL and SHAZAM! - the 1970s live-action Saturday morning adventure shows from the Kroffts and Filmation. Compared to them, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is the pinnacle of excitement.

The Power Rangers franchise was also capable of doing clever things that injected a genuine sense of suspense. Surely no one saw the Green Ranger coming, right? I don't think even Saban anticipated that popularity explosion, as they had to scramble to find a way to write him back into the show. Still, he was the lynchpin of the most memorable stories of both halves of the first season.

Ah yes, both "halves" of the first season. This is not even accurate, since they don't divide equally, but it's the most elegant way to phrase it. But what is commonly forgotten/not known among the general public is that MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS only had an initial order of 40 episodes. In case that was all there was, the 39th and 40th episodes form a nice wrap-up for the series. It's even heavily implied that Rita Repulsa and her gang had been permanently defeated!

The demand for new episodes was too strong to leave this sit for long, so Fox and Saban brought us 20 more that conclude the first season. It is sort of amusing to see the production team scrounge around and try to figure out what they want to do. Toei was even commissioned to film new Power Rangers-exclusive footage that integrates into the stories a bit better. It's a fascinating glimpse into what might have been. I tend to think of this batch as weaker than the original 40, and that was a feeling that continued as the show progressed. Still, they ably restore the status quo before having to blow it up every year thereafter.

The acting of the Rangers themselves has taken a lot of heat over the years. Some of it, I am sorry to say, even came from me. The revelation in watching the show with fresh eyes is they are all pretty good. None of them deliver embarrassing performances; they are simply doing the best they possibly can with material that is honestly ridiculous. Also, when it came to the fight scenes, each and every one of them works their butts off. Remember, no stunt doubles for these kids! I still think Amy Jo Johnson was the best actor of the bunch, and this seems to be reinforced by her appearance in any story that comes across as particularly "challenging." But, all of them did a fine job, and don't deserve to be heaped with the bad acting scorn. Reserve that for the scripts they got if you must.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bulk and Skull here. Much of what these poor slobs were charged with doing was incredibly juvenile and physical comedy at its most obvious. Still, you have to admire the gusto and skill they brought to it. They hung around for a long time for a reason, and turned in some genuinely funny stuff during their time on the show.

I've had friends who grew up with this show express to me disappointment when revisiting it as adults. I can understand that, but they are approaching the show all wrong. They want Power Rangers to be just as awesome as they remember it when their age was in single digits, and the problem is that IT WAS NEVER THAT GOOD. Some shows, like the Adam West BATMAN, work on multiple levels. MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is not that show. It is aimed squarely at the kiddie demographic, and if you don't factor that in before you rewatch it, you'll be shocked to learn that your childhood favorite is kinda cheesy.

Sure it is. But it always was. It helped that I was already a (technical) adult when it came on the air. I never expected it to appeal to me on a gut level, and was startled when it came close a few times (like the Green Ranger 5-parter). MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS is fun and fast-paced, but it's not some sort of lost classic. If you can take it on its own merits, it's enjoyable. But if you demand it be something more than a low-budget 1990s kid's show with recycled footage, it's probably for the best to leave it an object of nostalgia and fond memories.

I don't know if I will be purchasing any further Power Rangers volumes. I did like some of the episodes that came after the first season, but my gradual loss of interest back in the day is something I cannot ignore. Still, for the first time in many years, it was good to welcome the Power Rangers back into my imagination.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section III - Civilians (Update 1)

Jeff Allie: Jeff Allie is the fast food mogul behind the Burger Jeff franchise of restaurants. Starting small with just a single location, he has built his business into one of the most successful in the world. It has been rumored for years that he also harbors political aspirations, which might even include a run for the Presidency. So far, nothing has come of such talk.

Russell Brown: Russell Brown is the lead anchorman for Major City Supernews on WMC-TV Channel 5 (Major City’s DeKalb Network station). In fact, he had held that position for so long that he's become something of an institution in the town. It's been said that he's the most famous and trusted person in all of Major City, which is an achievement no matter how you slice it.

Lee R. Falgout: General Lee R. Falgout is a highly-decorated war veteran, and is considered one of the finest military minds in the world. He currently serves as Secretary of Defense in President Howard Fein's cabinet. Though he has been off the frontlines for a number of years, the general is still capable of charging into battle on a moment's notice - and is just crazy enough to do it.

Lauren Gregory: Lauren Gregory is a political activist and self-described "hippie." She can often be found in downtown Major City with a protest sign denouncing the state of world affairs. When not editing her underground newspaper, she moonlights as a waitress at the Chez Café.

Alan Norby: Best known to audiences worldwide for the role of "Dr. Macabre" in the Cat-Man TV series, Alan Norby has always been a bit eccentric even by actor standards. He practices a very unusual form of method acting that causes him to sometimes get too caught up in the parts that he plays. Being the bad guy on-screen can make him quite unmanageable in real life.

Abbie Norman: A raconteur and political gadfly, Abbie Norman was perhaps a surprising choice of running mate for Howard Fein's presidential campaign. Prevailing wisdom is that Fein picked Norman as his Vice-President to keep him in check. That hasn't exactly worked out, and Abbie Norman refers to himself as the Fein Administration's "resident gonzo."

Althea Quinby: Althea Quinby is Secretary of State in President Howard Fein's administration. She has a keen analytical mind and is perhaps the most politically savvy member of Fein's cabinet. It is a constant struggle for her to be taken seriously in the political arena as an African-American woman, but it's also a challenge she has gladly accepted.

Benson Wong: Dr. Benson Wong is a noted medical professional currently practicing in Major City. He serves as Paul Mann’s physician, much to their mutual consternation. It's not that the two dislike one another - it's just that Mann isn't always the sort of patient who listens to his doctor.

Monday, December 17, 2012

ROJ News, And If This Post Seems Familiar...

...There's a good reason for that.

Yes, we've now reached the point in updating the new Return of Jetman site that I'm reposting a set of notes that I first reported when they were added to the OLD site. Specifically, it's New ROJ Episode 6's Production Notes. Of course, like everything else for on the site, they've been re-edited somewhat since their original publication.

I had kind of figured this would be the last ROJ site update of the year, if I even managed to get it finished before 2013 arrived. As it turned out, something else has come up that will be added to the site in short order. Keep watching this space!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Johnny Sokko Is On His Way!

Well, this is pretty exciting news! JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT, one of my favorite TV shows of all time, is getting released on DVD via Shout! Factory! Woo-hoo! August Ragone has more details at the linked blog post!

The agents from Unicorn will be on the case on March 26, 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Golden Age Comic Book Dream

Some time ago, I was chatting with David McRobie about comics and he mentioned how cool it would be to own a comic book from the Golden Age. It didn't have to be any specific one, though some were more obviously more interesting to us than others. I agreed with him, but frankly, the thought seemed like a pipe dream to me.

Oh, I've considered it a few times. There have even been a handful of occasions where price and opportunity seemed to intersect enough where I could make it happen. Alas, I always missed my chance. Usually, it was because someone got to the book before I did. I didn't worry that much about it, figuring it was one of those things that was fated to never happen.

Well, I'd like to thank Kevin Cinquemano at Paper Heroes for allowing me to realize a very small dream of mine. For the modest price of $10, he sold me a copy of Famous Funnies #153. It's not in very good shape, and it doesn't feature any characters or artists I usually collect, but it's still a milestone for me. Why? Because it is dated April 1947!

For the first time in my life, I own a comic book from the 1940s. Thanks Kevin!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Chaos Theory IV

You might remember our discussions the last couple of years of the Chaos Theory art show in Sulphur, LA. In fact, Friend of OWARI Kabuki Katze even had some pieces included in last year's show. However, I was unable to take many shots of the rest of the show before it finished. Kind of a disappointment, especially since I had snapped a lot in 2010.

Well, Kabu's busy itinerary this year prevented her from submitting for Chaos Theory IV. That didn't stop me from setting out to record every single piece in the 2012 edition. Which I did, turned out to be more work than I anticipated. Now, two months after the show wrapped up, I finally have everything uploaded.

Here is the gallery for "Chaos Theory IV" (2012). As stated in the description, Chaos Theory IV ran from September 13, 2012 to October 11, 2012 at the Henning Cultural Center in Sulphur, LA. If you saw it, here's a look back. If you didn't see it, here's what you missed.

The Chaos Theory Art Show has a Facebook fan page. Chaos Theory and the Henning Cultural Center are both part of Brimstone Museum. Support the arts and culture.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mark Jewelers

Among the more obscure chapters in comic book collecting are the special advertising inserts included in comics shipped to overseas military PXs. I have several books with Mark Jewelers inserts myself, and didn't know what to make of them for the longest time. Like a lot of ads in the 1970s, they were geared toward adults, and not the children that are stereotypically the audience for comics. I eventually had them pegged as military base exclusives, but the "outside of the U.S." aspect was a wrinkle I hadn't considered until recently. It does make perfect sense.

In looking into Mark Jewelers, I discovered Military Insert Mania via this message board thread. I learned a whole lot more about these inserts from those two sources than I had in all my years of collecting and stumbling across them by accident. But there are still plenty more mysteries about these shadowy, hidden "variants." Chief among them for me is how the military insert arrangement came about in the first place. I'm also curious as to why it was Mark Jewelers that carried the banner for something like 20 years.

Mark Jewelers (also H & R Sales, but apparently the same company) was located at 9041 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. I stress "was" here because it looks as if that location has been swallowed up by Bais Chana Chabad High School, a private, Jewish, girls-only school. I can't find any record of "the" Mark Jewelers still existing, though it's certainly possible that they do. Considering the ads disappeared in the early 1990s, I wouldn't be surprised if they gave up the ghost around that time.

Regrettably, that's all I know for now. I'll probably be making further inquiries as time and interest permit. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'd love to know more about Mark Jewelers and why they considered comic books an effective tool for reaching their customers for two decades.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Rolling Truck Stones Thing"

Surely you know the story of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" by now, right? If you don't, go ahead and read this bit of history on the subject. What you may not know is that the band thought the song had no commercial potential and it took a year after the release of the album Machine Head for a single to be issued. This seems amazing in retrospect, but there's at least one bit of evidence in the song itself.

I'm referring to the line that serves as this entry's title: "Rolling truck Stones thing." My capitalization there may give you a hint that it refers to the Rolling Stones, and more specifically, the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. The "mobile" has a story at least as interesting as that behind "Smoke on the Water" itself. That phrasing, though - it's a bit odd, isn't it? The Rolling truck Stones thing?!?

I tend to think Ian Gillan was originally supposed to sing "Rolling Stones truck thing." I mean, that's logical, isn't it? Maybe he transposed the words in singing it, and since nobody considered the song anything other than a bonus, this was left intact. Why go to the trouble of fixing it?

What Deep Purple couldn't have known was that "Smoke on the Water" was their ticket to immortality. And as a result, the phrase "Rolling truck Stones thing" has become the correct version. I am sure it will confuse listeners for many generations to come.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mike Boyette

As I think I've mentioned in the past, I don't write up entries for every single death that occurs in my fields of interest. My feeling is that there are people out there far more capable of writing those than me. However, there comes the time when a passing affects me personally, and that's when you see a discussion. Regrettably, that time has come again.

Last week, Buddy Roberts of the pro wrestling team the Fabulous Freebirds passed away. I grew up watching Buddy, and it's only a quirk of timing that I missed his earlier stint as half of the Hollywood Blonds tag team. Now only a week later, another wrestler I watched in the glories days of Mid-South/UWF has passed away. That would be Mike Boyette.

You're excused if you have no idea who Mike Boyette was, even if you were a wrestling fan. In the UWF, Boyette was portrayed as a perpetual loser, albeit a memorable one. Years later, I learned that Mike Boyette had been a star. The "losing streak" was probably setting up an angle that would never come, like the one that Jack Hart (Barry Horowitz) had once suffered in Florida.

Mike Boyette was a guy who could put on a terrific match. Though never called on as the one to sell tickets in "my" wrestling, his job was just as important - he was there to make his opponents look good. He did this beautifully, and was able to be good enough in the role to make an impression without ever overshadowing the men he was putting over. I have a lot of respect for a guy who can maintain that kind of balance.

Mike Boyette was also reportedly a great guy, and a huge asset to the wrestling business. I wish I could have seen him in situations where HE was the focus, but I was still a fan of him regardless of whether he was a "jobber" or not. Mike "The Hippie" Boyette was a favorite of mine, and I'm sad that he has died. With the recent passages of Roberts and Boyette (who I am sure I saw wrestle each other), it seems like more and more of my childhood wrestling heroes (and villains) are leaving us. R.I.P., gentlemen...and thank you for the memories.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


So, why exactly was "Candy-O" by the Cars never released as a single? I mean, if it had been and just wasn't a hit, I could understand. But gosh, this song just cries out that it's a hit record. According to sources, it's since become a Classic Rock radio staple. I can't verify that part, because I don't hear it on my usual stations. However, it turned up on the station I can sometimes catch and immediately brightened my day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yuriko Hishimi Says "Hi!"

...And so do I.

Whatever passes for normal services around here should resume in a day or three. Meanwhile, enjoy this photo of the lovely Yuriko Hishimi found here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Hibernation, Quite Unwillingly

Hello all. I had every intention of keeping this blog updated, but circumstances are currently conspiring against me...again. This time, it's not a failure on my end, but an ISP that has apparently been suffering from poor performance since Thursday. I have not been able to secure an Internet connection since Friday. I'm currently appearing via the good graces of my sister's Internet.

I will be back, but have no timetable as to when that will be. Keep the home fires burning for me!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

UFO Encounters (1978)

Well, this is interesting. When I bought UFO & Outer Space #23 a little while back, I also purchased UFO Encounters. There appears to be a certain degree of confusion about this title, and no solid information on the GCD, so I figure I should post about my observations.

First, the GCD lists two different "books" in this series, with this as the second. I am almost 100% certain this is inaccurate. This book appears to have been published in 1978, and I would wager it is the UFO Encounters mentioned as being listed in a March 1978 issue of The Comics Reader. For one thing, it is cheaper than the other "issue" - $1.00 vs. $1.95. Yes, it has a higher "number" than the other book, but I don't think this Golden Press code is indicative of which book came out in what order. I mean, UFO Mysteries is promoted on the back cover of my book as the "Volume II" of UFO Encounters and yet it has a code number that PRECEDES Volume I.

Without having it in front of me, I can only assume that the other UFO Encounters is either a second printing of the first edition or a repackaging of the earlier book with UFO Mysteries. In any event, these are books from the Golden Press side of Western Publishing that reprint material from UFO Flying Saucers from the Gold Key side. Given the timing, you can only imagine how they arrived at the title.

I'm curious if this was marketed as a kid's book or if it was more of a general interest SF title. I mean, sure, it's comics from Golden Press, but it's not really obviously a "kiddie" book. I almost think this MUST be a children's title given the era, but would love to know more about how it came about. It's very intriguing in that it's an ancestor to the "trade paperback" that is so ubiquitous in comics today. It even presents the reprints in sequential order!

About those reprints - as I alluded to earlier, they are all from the UFO Flying Saucers run. More specifically, they are from #1-#3 in their entirety, with the first two stories from #4 thrown in at the end. Why? Well, the contents page gives the explanation - it includes the contents of both this book AND UFO Mysteries. That volume seems to finish off #4 and go through #7 of the comic book series. Of course, I wasn't able to score a copy, so I cannot confirm this.

The reprinting is kinda fascinating, in that you have to figure Golden Press had access to the best available materials possible. And yet, comparing them to the original comics (I own a copy of UFO Flying Saucers #3), the collection comes up short. That may be due to the cheapening of comics printing in the intervening years, but who knows for sure. The indicia has been eliminated, replaced with amusing alarmist blurbs. And there is a whole lot of redundancy, as when the Tunguska event of 1908 gets covered twice within 12 pages or when we see multiple versions of Ezekiel. It's probably amazing it didn't happen more, to be honest.

The stories start out as straight dramatizations of UFO reports, but then in subsequent issues begin to slide even further into hysterics. They are all kinds of entertaining as a result. I may discuss a few in the future, but suffice to say, this book is worth some cash if you spot it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Now That I've Got It, I Don't Intend To Lose It"

Pirate Red- Contest Entry by ~Sarapuu on deviantART

I was on my dA account earlier tonight, and this older piece popped up in my Random Favorites. It is by my friend Sara, and depicts one of Lewis Smith's characters from GUNMETAL BLACK. I cannot recall if this won anything or not in the 2008 GMB/7SL contest, but I remember thinking at the time that it was a marvelous "level up" for Sara's art. Of course, she had a lot of those during 2007-2008. I still really love this piece.

This is from Sara's old art account. You can see her more recent work at Synthetic Platypus! Lewis and his vast array of characters can be found there at his Gunmetal Black account!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Captain Satellite Sighting

A familiar face made a cameo tonight at Five Guys. Photo courtesy of my dinner cohort/sister Amy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Escape

This story popped up in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago. Ever since, I've been trying to think of how to articulate my feelings on it. Because it elicits some mixed ones from me.

I guess I can see why you might find it funny, as it is one of those stories that sounds almost like it must be fabricated because it's so absurd. But going deeper, this is part of a larger change in our world. It has become increasingly difficult to hide things. You can thank the Internet for that.

I'm sure 1972 Mark Suben didn't give a lot of thought to the potential future ramifications of appearing in adult films. And really, even if he did, he couldn't have foreseen this future. At the time, you could reasonably have expected films of that nature to play for a time in their venues and then disappear, never to resurface. Times have changed, and all sorts of cinematic flotsam has been deemed worthy of rescue. That includes at least some of the films that featured Mark Suben.

I don't have the objections to pornography that some people do, though my feelings on it are complex and not easily explained. I do think the stigma that is attached to every single person involved in that industry by parts of society is hypocritical and wrongheaded. But the fact remains that the stigma still exists. And it's now so simple to dig up someone's past and judge them.

This is what galls me. People seek out these opportunities to try to tear people down and make themselves feel better about their own sad lives. That's what happened to Mark Suben. Then he compounded the problem by initially lying about it. If he gets into trouble over this matter, it should be for the lying and not the adult films. Even then, it's totally understandable. That was 40 years ago, and certainly not something he was planning on addressing.

I have known people who have worked in various adult businesses. Some are beautiful, wonderful people; some are not. That's based on who they are, not what they have done or even still do. I think it's really time we grow up as human beings and acknowledge the fact that these people don't deserve to be scorned for the rest of their lives based solely on what they have done for a living. Let's instead treat people with respect. I know, it's tough, but we can do it.

Here are some other thoughts on this subject. Please note there may be some NSFW content at that link.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Chibi Dom Rene Bond

Friend of OWARI Kabuki Katze has been running a special sale all this month - $10 chibis! In fact, if you act now, you can get in on this sweet, sweet cute character action. Don't say you weren't warned!

Anyway, I had just finished up a chibi commission before this sale opened, so I was understandably at a loss for an idea. Then, I was struck by inspiration so Wrong that I had to act on it. Namely, I commissioned "Chibi Dom Rene Bond."

I wrote about Rene Bond not very long ago. My inspiration here was some of her photo layouts that involved her dressed up in leather gear brandishing a whip. Why not do an adorable cutie version of Rene dolled up in just such an outfit?

This was my challenge to KK. Did she deliver? Oh yeah. I'm really thrilled with this, and am still kinda amused that she managed a fair likeness of Rene, albeit in chibi form. All of my Wrong Ideas should turn out so Right!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Roy Thomas

I wasn't going to post today, but just realized something and am sliding in under the wire. On November 22, 1940, Roy Thomas was born in Missouri. Roy is one of my favorite comic book writers and a huge personal influence on me. So I'd like to take a moment to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROY THOMAS! May there be many more birthdays to come!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Useless S. Grant

The long and the short of it is that this was a joke name I devised a few years ago that I asked Kabuki Katze to bring to life in cutesy chibi form. Which, of course, she did beautifully. Now, I feel like other names from my roll call of silliness may get a similar treatment. Consider yourselves warned!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Good Girls Don't by the Knack

If you want proof there was a significant backlash to the Knack, you need look no further than the fate of "Good Girls Don't." "Good Girls Don't" is a GREAT song, and yet it is largely forgotten today. True, it's not as memorable as "My Sharona," but then, what is?

"Good Girls Don't" came out while "My Sharona" was still on the charts, and that certainly could have affected its momentum. It's hard not to notice that it sort of creeps up the charts before it plateaus at #11, and then tumbles down and sinks into oblivion.

Which is a pity, sez I. "Good Girls Don't" deserves to be remembered.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fun With Plastic

She sees you checking out her friend, Geiger counter guy...

...And she is not amused.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

10 Years of Return of Jetman Online

On this date in 2002, I posted this story on the very first "Return of Jetman" website. Therefore, despite the fact that the index page had already been active for a couple of months, I usually think of November 18 as the "official" launch of the web presence of Return of Jetman. That means today marks the 10th anniversary of this milestone.

My reaction to this is, "Where did the time go?" Frankly, it seems like just yesterday that I was trying to figure out how to upload these things to my ISP webspace. ROJ was one of my first opportunities to carve out my own Internet identity, rather just contributing to things maintained by others. I like to think it holds up reasonably well, even if it sometimes (many times) wears my growing pains as a creator on its sleeve.

Though the ROJ stories concluded in 2010, the site will continue. I still have bits and pieces that I would like to finish, even if the actual demand for them is minimal. Beyond that, I want to preserve the contributions made by everyone to this modest little enterprise. I am proud to not only showcase my own work, but work by many other folks I respect a great deal.

No acknowledgment of ROJ's legacy would be complete without the name of Lewis Smith. Lewis was the guy who created ROJ and formed the basis for everything I subsequently did with the project. He graciously gave his blessing for me to not only continue where he left off, but steer things in my own direction. In a very real sense, I owe pretty much every piece of fiction I've written since then to his generosity. Thank you, Lewis.

And thank you all, both contributors and readers. I don't think ROJ would still exist as a destination in 2012 if it weren't for the enthusiasm you folks have shown. It has at times outstripped even my own, and that blows my mind. It is not a part of my daily thought process like it was back in its heyday, but ROJ laid the foundation for a lot of things I do. If that's not a valuable learning experience, I'm not sure what would be.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Gas Gang by Lordwormm

Gas Gang by ~Lordwormm on deviantART

Lordwormm is a chap who did some fanart of my characters many a moon ago. He's also a guy with a wide and varied interest in all manner of crazy characters. Here's his interpretation of classic Metal Men villains the Gas Gang! You can see more such awesomeness on his dA page!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Toei Eigamura

Like a lot of fans of stuff from Japan, I have dreams of visiting the country someday. Not sure if it will ever happen, but dreaming is free. Or so I heard, anyway. If I do make it there, my #1 dream destination is Toei Eigamura.

Why Toei Eigamura? Did you look at it? It's the chance to visit a theme park that's also a working film lot. There are exhibits devoted to Toei's various and sundry properties like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. Plus, it has plenty of goods to buy if you are of the mind. In short, Toei Eigamura is one of the places to go if you are a fan of Toei Company, Ltd.

My pal Igadevil has been to Toei Eigamura, and this is one more reason why I must destroy him. Just kidding, Iga! If you'd like to learn more about Toei Eigamura and are Japanese-impaired, here's the English site. The current official English name is "Toei Kyoto Studio Park," but whatever name you call it, it looks like a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Observations Made While Watching GODZILLA VS. GIGAN

  • The art direction in this movie is just sensational. Toho's films are among the most beautiful-looking "exploitation" movies ever made, but this one just knocks my socks off. The sets and color choices are pure eyecandy.

  • That bit where Gengo refers to his girlfriend/agent/whatevah as a "hard bitch" in the English dub is possibly even funnier in Japanese. Why? Because what he really says is "Mommagon," which is the same name as one of the monsters he designs later - a monster patterned after her. I think Mommagon might mean something like "demon momma".

  • I am sort of boggled that NO ONE that translates Godzilla movies bothers to sit down and think things through. OK guys, time out for a second. In Japanese, it is "Hanta Seiun M-sei," right? Right. That does not translate as "Nebula M Star Hunter," "Space Hunter Nebula M" or even "Star Hunter Universe M" like in the dub for GODZILLA VS. MEGALON. It is, quite simply, "Hunter Nebula, Planet M." In other words, the planet M in the Hunter Nebula (real or not?). Given the fact that Japanese sci-fi has both a Planet R and a Planet E, I don't think Planet M is too much of a stretch.

  • How odd that the character of Kubota is referred to as possibly being a "nisei," or Japanese person from outside the country. Even odder that the subtitles refer to him specifically as an English teacher. I should go back and check to see if that's right. The actor that plays him (Toshiaki Nishizawa) is definitely a native Japanese, so it's not as if they needed to explain away anything unusual about him.

I actually like this movie a whole lot. It's likeable and goofy and the characters are somewhat offbeat. It takes more shortcuts than it should, and it's clearly absurd even by Godzilla standards. Yet, it's a reasonable and painless way to kill 90 minutes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Radio Silence

I wanted to take some time to just update this blog. I hit a bit of a dry patch recently as I worked on some other things, and this blog's content has suffered. Weird, because I have a folder of potential entries in case this very situation arose. I never even found the time to dip into it and post any of those entries. Sorry 'bout that.

I had hoped to be back in the saddle again today, but realistically (considering I just crashed for a couple of hours) it's not happening. At the least, my plan is to look into that fabled folder and work on that stuff. But tonight, I should go to bed early.

Oh, and since we're here, I want to point out that this Sunday is an important date in the OWARI chronology. I absolutely need to think of something to say about it. What that "something" might be is still up in the air.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Takin' Care Of Business

If I wanted to put together a presentation that most people only pay attention to the chorus in popular songs, Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care Of Business" would be Exhibit A. (Exhibit B would be Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." by the way.) Seriously, that song gets used over and over and OVER, but I don't think people are actually listening to it. Sure, BTO says they will be "takin' care of business," and that sounds like a hardworking sort of ethic. But is it really?

Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day

If it were easy as fishin'
You could be a musician

It's the work that we avoid
And we're all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day

No, "Takin' Care Of Business is really about being a lazy musician and loving it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

First There Is A Mountain...

I'd like to inform all of you of two exciting new products now available on Amazon from our friends at VictoryBuy. Much like the M16 Army Men and Galaxy Laser Team, these are reissues of classic toys from Tim Mee. I also just received mine this week and feel safe in raving about them to you.

First, we have Tim Mee Cavemen Figures!

Next, we have Tim Mee Battle Mountain!

If the army men and space men looked good to you, I can assure you that just as much fun can be had with these guys. In fact, Jeff over at VictoryBuy even put together an awesome photo to demonstrate just how much fun you can have!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blinded By The Light

So "Blinded By The Light" came up at work today. I was asked to identify the artist (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) by someone. I also cleared up the commonly misheard lyric in the song. No, it wasn't the "deuce/douche" problem - they got the deuce part right; rather, it was the "revved/wrapped" part of that line. In any event, it's worth noting that it refers to a 1932 Ford coupe, or "Deuce coupe." That derives from the Deuce coupe's rep as an ideal hot rod car.

What's interesting is that this lyrics was changed from the Bruce Springsteen original. Bruce's line was "cut loose like a deuce." Maybe they changed it to "revved" to make it clear that it was referring to the car? If so, they failed miserably thanks to Earth Band vocalist Chris Thompson's poor enunciation. But then, wasn't it that very thing and the childish snickering it generated that pushed the song to #1?

I don't know how Bruce feels about the Manfred Mann version now, but I recall him having gone on record as hating it more than any other cover of one of his songs. I don't think it's the radically different arrangement that made him feel this way. I suspect it was primarily how garbled the hit version was that irked him. He might have been upset about the omission and alteration of some of the lyrics, but since he has commented that the song didn't become popular until it was about "a feminine hygiene product," I don't think it's a stretch to imagine the vocals themselves are/were his problem.

But then, I wouldn't call Bruce's version of the song a classic. I just read he wrote the words before the music, and it kinda shows. I have this feeling at least part of the song is autobiographical, but wrapped up in obscure phrasing to disguise its meaning. Here, have a listen.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ruth Roland

Who is, or rather was, Ruth Roland?

Ruth Roland was a rather substantial film star in the first three decades of the 20th century. She was even credited at the time as being one of the smartest people in Hollywood. Certainly, it must have been unusual for a woman to form her own production company during that time period. Yet Ruth Roland did exactly that.

Unfortunately for her legacy, Ruth Roland died young. She passed away from cancer in 1937 at the age of only 45. Furthermore, since the vast majority of her films are from the silent era, her filmography is woefully incomplete. I'd imagine only a fraction of her work actually survives.

Ruth Roland was feisty on the screen, and it sounds as if she was feisty off the screen as well. Her movie career wound down not because she was ousted due to the advent of talkies, but because she lost interest and had plenty of money. One magazine of the era claimed she was making a killing in real estate, too. Not too shabby for a woman in that day and age.

Here's Ruth Roland's memorial on Find A Grave. Embedded below is a small sample of her work. I suspect I'll be looking into more of it, in addition to featuring her on the movie serial image blog "Continued Next Week!".

Sunday, November 4, 2012

American City Suite by Cashman & West

Casey Kasem's AMERICAN TOP 40 often had those tantalizing teases to keep your interest between commercial breaks. Well, as I was listening to the November 4, 1972 edition this weekend, Casey mentioned that the artists coming up had charted twice before under different names, but were now recording under their REAL names. Oh, this had to be good. And when it came time, I learned Casey had been speaking of none other than...CASHMAN & WEST!


Yeah, I had never heard of Cashman & West either. Ditto for "The Buchanan Brothers" and "Morning Mist," which were their earlier combos. So "American City Suite" was wholly unfamiliar to me. That was their song that was on the chart the time.

I wasn't really adequately prepared for "American City Suite." Talk about a song that changes direction a few times. It's really three songs in one. What made this even more remarkable is that AT40 (then only a 3 hour show) played almost the entire thing. It clocked in at something like 8 minutes during the program, and the "album version" you will find elsewhere in this entry is over 10. Devoting that much time to such an obscure song blew my mind.

Terry Cashman and Tommy West have rather interesting bios. Cashman is responsible for at least one other "famous" song that is completely off my radar. The things you learn because of syndicated countdown show reruns!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dare Devil Trik-Trak

It's a great commercial that still makes you want to buy a product long after it's gone off the market. This is how I feel about Transogram's spot for their "Dare Devil Trik-Trak." I want to rush out and get one every time I watch this ad.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

International Movie Serials

Say, have you been following Continued Next Week!, the movie serial image blog I started about a month ago? If you have even a passing interest in that sort of aesthetic, it's something I'd suggest strongly. It's pretty rare that I start a project like this and realize it's not only coming together exactly the way I wanted, but it's broadening in exciting new directions.

Case in point: the theme of this li'l Tumblr is supposed to be American movie serials. I originally was going to concentrate on sound pictures, but the silents crept in before long. And now, we're looking past U.S. borders, too. You see, movie serials existed in other countries. I want to expand my scope to occasionally spotlight these productions. To help identify them, I've added a helpful "international" tag to those entries. There are already two that were added tonight!

Of course, the focus is always going to primarily be on American serials. But now and then, it will be fun to post a few pictures from the cliffhangers of other countries. That will only be as time and resources dictate, natch (much like that blog in general).

One serial I would desperately like to feature on Continued Next Week! if I can find some photos is Las Calaveras del Terror ("The Skulls of Terror"), a 1943 chapter play that is supposedly the only Mexican-produced serial of the 1940s. It stars Pedro Armendáriz and is said to have also been released as a feature film in 1944. According to what I read, promotional material for it is scarce, and I can say I've barely seen anything for it despite putting forth a fair amount of effort. Hopefully, something high quality will eventually turn up.

Meanwhile, enjoy this clip from Las Calaveras del Terror I discovered in my searching. I think it stacks up pretty well against American serials!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

OWARI: The Fanzine Years In Review (1995-2005)

Do I miss it?

People have asked me that occasionally since 2005. Do I miss doing the fanzine? It's a fair question; after all, OWARI ran for a decade (even if it really was only 7 years). Anything that lasted so long must have been an important part of my life, and there's no doubt that OWARI was just that. I mean, I just spent over two years writing a retrospective on it! Was that whole exercise just a nostalgia trip, with me pining for "the good old days?"

Actually, I have a much deeper reason. There's an old saying that history is written by the winners. If defined by success and popularity, OWARI was not a "winner." With its relative obscurity and miniscule circulation, not a lot of people saw OWARI or were even aware of its existence. I am sure there are literally thousands of fanzines out there that are identical in one important respect - they are almost (if not totally) forgotten. If I don't chronicle the history of OWARI and ensure that it's remembered, who will?

Was OWARI a failure then? I don't think so. Oh, there were many instances of me thinking that over the years, but I'd like to believe time has allowed me to gain a better perspective on it. OWARI gave me a place to learn and grow as a writer, an editor, and a creator. It allowed me the chance to write about whatever I wanted, regardless of my audience's interests (since I didn't have much of one). It gave me the opportunity to figure out what did and didn't work and the luxury to screw up (which I did often). It even afforded me the ability to give other people a place to hone their craft and find their way into print. OWARI served as the blueprint for all of my subsequent work, and paved the way for everything that has happened since it straggled into print in 1995.

In reality, "OWARI" is not a fanzine. There was a fanzine named OWARI, and it was the first permutation of that concept. But really, OWARI is the name I've given to the vehicle for expressing my opinions, ideas, and interests. OWARI isn't about glue sticks and typewriters and a pile of a zillion photocopies; OWARI is about Japanese monster movies, comic books, superheroes, music, and a zillion other TOPICS. Whether it exists as a fanzine, a rudimentary website, a message board, or a blog, there is one common denominator uniting all versions of OWARI. me. The history of the fanzine OWARI is a glimpse into the evolution of Christopher Elam as a person.

Do I miss it? I sometimes miss having something tangible I can hold in my hands and being able to say, "I made that!" But missing OWARI itself? Hey, it never went away.

Since my reminiscing about OWARI did take over two years, here is an index of each individual entry that is part of the story of the fanzine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

OWARI #12 (Oct.-Nov. 2005)

They said it couldn't be done! They said it shouldn't be done! Wait...I was the one that said those things. Anyway...

In celebration of OWARI's 10th anniversary, there will be a new issue of the fanzine! Yes, OWARI #12 will be coming out in the latter half of 2005. This issue promises to be the best one ever. Why? Check out these contents :

Plus more surprises! So be on the lookout for OWARI #12, coming to a mailbox near you! Assuming you want it, of course.

                --The promotional blurb for OWARI #12 from 2005.

Before we begin the review proper, I would like to yield the floor to the 2005 Christopher Elam. This is what was written in the final installment of The Beginning of "The End" in OWARI #12. Take it away, 33 year old me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

UFO & Outer Space #23 (October 1979)

First, a bit of background on this series. It began life as UFO Flying Saucers in 1968 and ran off and on until its thirteenth issue dated January 1977. The original premise appears to have been utilizing an anthology/mystery book format to dramatize "true" UFO cases. Since the scripting on the first issue is credited to Leo Dorfman, who is also supposed to be the person who brought Ghosts to DC (the same kind of thing with "true ghost stories"), we'll assume it was his idea unless someone tells us otherwise.

Gold Key Comics/Western Publishing must have felt there was further untapped potential in the title, because it was revived with a June 1978 coverdate as UFO & Outer Space. I guess the new title was to make it sound more "scientific"...or something. I can't vouch for the entirety of the run of its previous incarnation, but there is definitively-labeled fiction in the pages of this second series.

I recently bought some issues of UFO & Outer Space, as it is a sentimental favorite of mine and I'm a sucker for vintage UFO casebooks. Our subject is UFO & Outer Space #23 (October 1979), which is from the near the end of the book's run. It leads with a cover by Art Saaf, which fascinates me right off the bat. I didn't even realize Saaf was still working in comics as late as 1979.

The first story is this 1956 case in 5 page abridged form. I'm not sure if it had made it into the popular literature, so it's possible whoever wrote the comic script (Arnold Drake, maybe?) may have been a member of NICAP. On a more concrete note, I can tell you the GCD credit for Al McWilliams here is incorrect. This first story is pretty obviously Dan Spiegle.

A three page "Reader's Report" is next, and this feature was a staple of this run of the book. I suspect most (if not all) of them are based on actual reader submissions, but I cannot verify the veracity of any of them. The art on these varies, and they all look to be by younger freelance artists trying to get a break in the industry. I haven't had any luck in identifying any yet, but several look amazingly familiar.

Oh man, here's the gratuitous text pages to qualify for the special mailing rate. I haven't made myself read this yet. Does anybody read them willingly? Moving on...

Oooh, here's the Hoaxmaster. This was another recurring feature of this comic, and it casts a critical eye on the fact that (*GASP*) sometimes UFO reports are fake. These were sometimes true stories, but this particular installment about a barber using his hat to impersonate a UFO sounds fictional to me. I do like the panel wherein the Hoaxmaster leads the barber to the police station, as if to imply the poor fool was going to jail. This story is not by Al McWilliams either (what's up with that, GCD?), but rather Winslow Mortimer.

Two Reader's Reports end the issue, but sandwiched between them is a "What If...?" story that I suspect is unrelated to the Marvel book of the same name. This is also the only story in the issue to carry credits, for writer George Kashdan and artist Al McWilliams (finally!). It's a weird tale set in 1890 involving a benevolent saucer and folks who (of course) abuse its benefits. It is written in the same vein as the "true" stories, and I'll guess the decision was made to supplement actual reports with something a bit jazzier and alien-filled. Well, there are no aliens in this one, but you get the idea.

I really enjoyed this comic, as I thought I would. The art is fun, but not really flashy. The actual reports and the fiction mesh pretty well. It might be the equivalent of paint drying for some, as nothing truly outstanding happens. But if you like buying old UFO books for spare change at the used bookstore, it will be right up your alley.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

OWARI #11 (August 2002)

Here's something you never want to think when you're reviewing your past work: "Wow, I really half-assed that one." Yet, that is my first reaction whenever I look at OWARI #11. I don't think that was ever my intention, but the results are kind of inescapable. Not a good sign right off the bat.

Thanks to my archaeological expedition into the long-forgotten folders of old Zip Disks, I have the promo piece I wrote about this fanzine in 2002 for the old OWARI site and message board. Here it is:

I'm not sure if it can be scientifically proven that CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE is the worst film ever made, but it's certainly a strong contender for the title. Whoa, that movie is something! On the surface, it appears to be just a film about a college professor trying to create the Philosopher's Stone. But it's more, much more. Here's a movie so demented that I felt compelled to write about it.

Remember those glory days of OWARI Vol. 1? Me neither. Lewis Smith does though, and in the latest installment of the column MORE TRUTH THAN REALITY, he reflects on the single biggest project we had going during that time. Yes, it's time for more RETURN OF JETMAN nostalgia, but with a twist courtesy of li'l ol' me. (Insert cryptic laughter here)

OWARI #11 begins Volume 3 of the OWARI fanzine series. It is 6 single-sided pages and features a cover by Lewis Smith depicting his original RETURN OF JETMAN character Green Wyvern. OWARI #11 can be ordered FREE (yes, FREE!) by sending your name, address, and two (2) regular first class stamps to: [snipped address went here]

Well, that certainly makes it sound good, doesn't it? Let's take a look at this issue one piece at a time. Only then can we fully understand how it really came together...or didn't, as the case may be.

First, we have the cover. This is the first time I ran a cover image on OWARI since #3 back in 1996. Though Lewis Smith's rendition of his Green Wyvern is amazing, my using it as the cover is a bit of a cheat. That particular piece of artwork was originally done as the cover for one of the "Return of Jetman" books that by 2002 were obviously never coming. Of course, my re-purposing the image for OWARI #11 did fit with its contents. More on that soon.

The contents of OWARI #11 proper kick off with an editorial wherein I admit it took me far longer than I'd anticipated between issues. I even confess that I had considered scrapping the fanzine entirely. It was only my inability to develop a satisfactory website in 2001-02 that led me back to the 'zine format. There's an "uh oh" right there.

I admitted that I downsized from previous issues, but make no attempt to rationalize why. I...really don't know what to say about this. Technically, the five pages of material are equal to #4 and #5. In practice, with my decision to go with a bigger (i.e., more readable) font, there's really no contest. For the kickoff of OWARI "Volume 3" (#1-#3 were Volume 1 and #4-#10 were Volume 2), this is a very inauspicious way to start.

It didn't help matters that this issue was plagued with production problems. The layout pages look much different than usual, and that's because the word processor was out of black ink. I solved this problem by simply printing the pages in color! After all, since everything would be in B&W, it wouldn't be an issue, right? Well, it did make things look less crisp, but maybe that was just obvious to me because I was the one behind the curtain. A much bigger (and even less obvious) problem occurred with my review of CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE.

CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE is a terrible movie that I bought on used VHS in 2002. One day, I may inflict its horrors on all of you all over again. But it had traumatized me so much in 2002 that it was a prime candidate for a review. This particular piece is on the one hand kinda humorous, as I am both enraged and exasperated as I discuss this awful videotape. On the other hand, it makes me wince whenever I remember what happened with regards to it.

You see, I had written this entire article out, and then because of now-forgotten circumstances, I lost the whole thing due to some blunder on my part. This led me to have to reconstruct it from memory, and unfortunately, both my passion and coherence were lessened in the rewrite. I even had to attach an addendum after the review itself because I had forgotten a key component and couldn't bring myself to try to figure out a way to seamlessly incorporate it into the body of the article.

I mentioned above the word processor. Yes, I was still using it to put together the fanzine, because I hadn't put any thought into how to utilize a computer for that purpose. However, this old dog did learn at least a few new tricks.

That is the actual image of the CURSE OF THE ALPHA STONE clamshell video case used in OWARI #11. It's a scan of my copy, and this is the only version of it that exists in my files. I suspect I may have scanned it in grayscale since I knew it wouldn't be in color. But if there was a color version, it is lost to the ages.

Our next (and last!) feature is another installment of Lewis Smith's "More Truth Than Reality." This column is entitled "Whatever Happened to Return of Jetman?" and was actually written in 2001. It was Lewis' fond reflection on ROJ and was intended as our final farewell to the project after determining that our much-planned revival of it wasn't going to happen.

...So it's ironic that when the column finally saw print, I had to add an update informing the readership of the impending debut of the very first version of the Return of Jetman Homepage. I did manage to finish that first story, and with more than a little input from Lewis in the process. Sometimes, I get things right.

OWARI #11 was not one of those times. That's all that was in the issue, folks. I had been working on something about the Blue Öyster Cult concert I attended on May 6, 2001, but it never made it to the typing stage. I'm not sure I even finished it. It would have rounded out the issue into something a bit fuller, but I was apparently set on it only being 6 pages.

I alluded to having a plan for OWARI #12, but that "it may be awhile." That plan, whatever it was, would not come to fruition. Even with how little I put into the issue, the production problems killed my enthusiasm. Besides what I've already mentioned, getting suitable copies made at my formerly reliable copy shop was a nightmare. I never managed to get a single cover for the issue that didn't have a line running across it. I went to all the effort to add a cover to my issue and I couldn't even present it the way I wanted it?

The reaction to OWARI #11 was predictable. That is to say, there was little to no reaction. By this point, I had an audience, however modest, on the web. You'd think there would be interest in receiving a free fanzine. You'd THINK that, but you'd be wrong. I was optimistic in my printing of the issue, and I ended up unloading about as many as usual.

That was all the proof I needed that it was time to go. I made the announcement in the thread "The past, the present, the future..." on the old OWARI Message Board on December 31, 2002 that OWARI #11 was the last issue of the fanzine. You'll notice that many of the reasons I've cited in past installments are brought up there. I should hasten to point out that I actually didn't go back and read that prior to starting this series. That's really what was on my mind after THE KAIJU DETECTIVE went nowhere back in 2000.

Considering how disappointingly meager my contributions were to OWARI #11, perhaps it's just as well I pulled the plug when I did. I'm not sure I could justify a string of issues this skimpy. So it was that OWARI "Volume 3" ended as it began and brought a close to the fanzine era of my little enterprise.

Except not quite.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drone Man and Nicola Tanihara

There's not a lot of backstory that goes into this one. It had been a little while since I'd gotten a commission from Kabuki Katze, so I came to her with one of the ideas from my list. My choice was Drone Man and Nicola Tanihara. There hadn't been a lot of outside art of Drone Man, and none of Nicola since I'd created her. They seemed like a good bet.

Well, you can see the fabulous results here! I hadn't been originally set on making this one a faux comic cover, but Kabuki went with her instincts on the matter. It really paid off! You can find her upload of this piece right here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Dizzy Droid Drag Cantina

As seen in MAD STAR WARS SPECTACULAR (1999). Written by David Shayne, art by James Warhola, colors by Matt Milla and Justin Ponsor.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Third World Leader by Sean Moore

Your eyes do not deceive you! This is indeed my very own Third World Leader by the inimitable Sean Moore! The design has been tweaked a little, and I think improved immeasurably. Couple that with a great, sinister pose, and you have a surefire winner!

So much to love! You can tell Sean yourself right here if you'd like!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

OWARI #10 (March 2001)

The single most momentous thing about this particular issue turns out to be in the introduction column "The Beginning of 'The End'" itself. Therefore, we'll save it until the conclusion of this entry. Suspense!

I can't quite pin down my thought process here. I'm pretty sure it was just a matter of trying to continue the changes I'd instituted in #8, especially since #9 was so unusual. You can see me going in that direction and possibly trying to position OWARI as something a bit more substantial. As for my success, well, that's debatable, but I'm clearly making an effort.

I opened with a review of Pioneers Who Got Scalped, a two CD anthology of the band Devo issued by Rhino. This review is valuable to me in that it gives an overview of how I got into Devo in the first place in 2000, less than a year after it happened. This isn't a bad piece of writing at all, and I'm impressed that I thought to link Devo with the likes of Kiss and Gwar. The music may not be similar, but the creation of a unique mythology around those groups certainly is.

"The View From Godzilla Tower" returns with my musings on the connection between THE MYSTERIANS and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE. Mainly, I discuss how the latter is essentially an unofficial sequel to the former. They even share characters, though this isn't obvious since only Harold S. Conway plays the same part in both films. Finally, I pointed out that "Atsumi" (the name of the hero in THE MYSTERIANS) is hiding inside the name "Katsumiya" (the name of the hero in BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE). Just chance?

Oh. "'Twas The Season!" takes my goal of including more personal stuff to its apex by being a photo essay detailing my doings around Christmas. The captions on the pictures are sort of reminiscent of what you might see on Facebook today. But really, this was probably not something that should have seen print in a fanzine I was sending all over the country. Moving along...

Lewis Smith returns with another installment of "More Truth Than Reality." Sonuvagun, it's a retrospective on the first five years of OWARI from his perspective. He says some nice things about me in this, so I hope I paid him off handsomely. I'm glad OWARI and its sometimes flaky editor made him believe in his own abilities, because he's a talented guy.

I rounded out the issue with the first installment of "I Remember...Earth 2!", which I subtitled "A Column of Comic Book Nostalgia." Yes, even in 2001, I was already looking to the past more than the future when it came to compelling comic book content. My subject was Metal Men #48 (Oct.-Nov. 1976), which was the comic book that ultimately led to my passion for superhero comics and all comics in general. I called it "pivotal," because, "[t]he day I rediscovered METAL MEN #48 was the day I became a comic book fan for life."

I promised the most momentous thing about OWARI #10 is mentioned in the introduction. Here it is:
Yes, it's true. The latest addition to the household is a sparkling new computer. [...] Let me reassure everybody that this doesn't affect my commitment to doing OWARI in its current format.

Despite what I might have said, there wouldn't be another issue of OWARI for over a year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Remember When You Were Young?

I suppose I should explain what last week was all about. Don't worry, there'll be a prize at the end.

Recently, in my attempt to sort through DVD-Rs and CD-Rs, I ran across a disc containing files I had saved circa 2003. Some of it was corrupted, but most of it was still intact. It was a little like getting a letter from the me of 10 years ago. It made me reflect on my only other file storage "artifacts" - a passel of Zip Disks. I had transferred what I had termed the important stuff years earlier, but there was still a bunch of other things sitting on them. I wasn't even sure what anymore.

I had a brainstorm about a week and a half ago: Why not copy everything to a flash drive? I certainly have more than a few lying around. I reinstalled the Zip Drive on my old laptop, and after it crashed the OS the first time (no joke), I was able to salvage the contents of 11 Zip Disks and 1 CD-R onto a single flash drive. This led to me going through all my various flash drives, too. Finally, I am...well, not done, but much closer to have everything organized how I want it.

This has been both tedious and fun. Tedious because it seemed it would never end, but fun because I kept uncovering things I had forgotten. Today, I am going to share one of those forgotten files with you.

This is an icon I made in 2004 for a LiveJournal clone site. Later, it found its way to my LiveJournal itself. It was even one of the causes of my return to my "art" roots on deviantArt, but that's a story for another day. The art is by Owen McCarron, and is from Fun and Games Magazine #5 (January 1980) from Marvel Comics. The character is Blue Diamond, and the caption is adapted from Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" from the album WISH YOU WERE HERE.

Now, I have kept track of this icon in my "graphics" folder. I thought it was pretty funny, and people liked it. So imagine my surprise when I'm going through the folders from an old Zip Disk and discover a much larger "test" version with the caption in a red font. I am stunned I saved it. But even more stunning, I also saved the original template I used for the icon. It has been sized-down from the original scan, but it's still large enough to make anyone happy.

Internet, I humbly offer to you this image of Blue Diamond playing the guitar. I'd appreciate credit if you use it, but I understand that probably won't happen 85% of the time. It's still worth it to me to have it out there. But please, try to include the name of the late Owen McCarron, huh? He's the genius who came up with this madness, not me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Top Secret Origins: Ultiman Family

2012 INTRODUCTION: This article was originally posted on February 2, 2005 to The Big Bang Gang, a short-lived fansite devoted to Big Bang Comics maintained by yours truly. After closing that site down, I submitted it to the official Big Bang Comics site. It may still be there; I haven't checked lately. However, I made one crucial oversight - since I was the sole writer for BBG, I left my name off the page. When it got posted to the official site, I had neglected to add it to my submission. Ooops.

I've made a few minor edits for this version. I've also omitted a small image of MEGATON #1's cover. The reasons why will be found in the postscript. For now, enjoy a little retro, retro comics history. Also, please excuse my ancient GIF image at the end.

Top Secret Origins: Ultiman Family

Ultiman is considered one of Big Bang's top tier characters, so it's easy to forget that his first appearance predates Big Bang by 10 years. What's more, he wasn't even a star back then...and his name wasn't Ultiman!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Overheard In Chat One Night

celamowari: I have no idea what prompts much of this
celamowari: but I'm blaming a childhood of secondhand smoke

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Chief Jay Strongbow had a time machine y'know."

Yes. He used it to go back to the caveman times and scare them with his mastery of fire.

This comment may be one the funniest things I've ever read on the Internet. Over two years later, I'm still laughing. I even had to dig it up to show a friend, so here's a permanent bookmark.

Kudos to "Martin Tori," for creating a new inside joke catchphrase for me!

(Whatever passes for "normal" blogging service around here will hopefully resume tomorrow. But hey, it might not be until Monday. Guess we'll have to find out together!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"You Won't Believe Your Mind!"

Who dares to battle the deadliest creatures of the universe?
Watch out! Because nothing can stop...
He's six million years beyond bionics!
Beyond the time barrier!
Beyond your wildest imagination!
The ultimate adventure, with the ultimate super-hero!
An explosion of excitement with...


Created by science, powered by nuclear energy!
The man beyond bionics!


A motion picture that will stagger your imagination!
The ultimate in science-fiction!


So spectacular, you won't believe your eyes!


Science creates a man beyond bionics,
Powers him with nuclear energy,
Equips him with Thunderbolt Fists,
And sends him on a mind-bending adventure in the motion picture that will stagger your imagination!
The ultimate in science-fiction!


This is tomorrow!
The last day of the world! tomorrow's bionic man -
A motion picture that will stagger your imagination!
The ultimate in science-fiction!


Created by science, powered by nuclear energy!
You won't believe your eyes!
You won't believe your mind!
The man beyond bionics, in a motion picture beyond your wildest imagination!

---Transcriptions of 1970s TV spots for the film INFRA-MAN.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Anne Mari Gallery

I am still buried under a lot of virtual paper shuffling, and have thus still not had the time to compose any of my planned entries here. I'm sorry; I suck. To make it up to you, I offer another low maintenance Tumblr entry. That will make it better, I hope?

This time, we have a a gallery of small images of actress Anne Mari. You may recall her from this entry back in 2010. She is a favorite of mine, and since none of these pics were big enough to merit posting on their own, I made a photoset. There are also links if you'd like to know more about her!