Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kennasaur's Request Raffle

request raffle prizes by *kennasaur on deviantART

You should click that. Full-view it. Trust me here, you want to see it bigger.

I don't know much about Kennasaur, except that she is a talented artist and the sweetest thing. She did a little request raffle a few days ago, and I submitted Amazing Girl for consideration. Well looky that, she made the cut!

Check out Kenna's dA for more fabulous art, and be on the lookout for the other winners of the raffle, too!

A Big Pile of Sci-Fi Mags

What you see before you is exactly what the title of this entry says. I'm not sure of the exact count; I think I may have picked up a few more after the photo was taken. But this is the ultimate result of my ambition a couple of months ago to pick up as many Myron Fass-published sci-fi magazines as I could find.

This spans almost a full decade of cheap exploitation. The earliest dates from 1976, while the latest is from circa 1984-85. Not every magazine in this pile is from Fass's companies, but all of them are of that ilk. They run the gamut from fascinatingly bad to surprisingly good. None of them are exactly boring, though a few are entertaining for entirely the wrong reasons.

At one point, I had intended to review each and every magazine in this pile. I'd still like to do such a thing, but as with most grand plans, it sounds a lot more daunting than when I first conceived it. Plus, I question whether there is that much interest in these obscurities. A big part of their appeal for me is the fact that so little is known about them. I'd kind of like to demystify them and clear up the errors that have sprung up on the Internet about them. Trouble is, does anyone other than me care?

I know, I know: I've never let that stop me before.

I guess we'll see how the winds of inspiration blow as far as indexing the likes of Space Wars, Star Warp, and Star Force. Oh, and speaking of the latter, a copy of Star Force Vol. 2, #5 has yet to surface for me. The search continues!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Galaxy Laser Team

You can blame it on Kirk Demarais if you like. He's the one who put together this blog post about the newly-reissued Galaxy Laser Team. This was a total bombshell to me, because I was one of those kids who had those "space army men" back in the day and loved them.

In fact, I still have some. I unearthed them a few years ago. Not sure where they are right now, but it was fun to find them again. I tried to take pictures, but my photography skills were not up to capturing them in all their tininess.

How tiny? This tiny.

I'm not, as a rule, a toy collector. I'm not sure, does buying random toys out of vending machines count as "collecting?" Be that as it may, I was putty in the face of the pure retro awesomeness of the Galaxy Laser Team's return. I had to have them! Therefore, I made my way to the Amazon page and ordered them. They arrived the day after my birthday, and were a happy late birthday present to me!

Seriously, this is way cool. I am so geeked that I wrote my first Amazon review! There's also a Facebook fan page for the Galaxy Laser Team that you should consider joining. If this reissue is a success, we might get to see more space toys return.

As for me, I have my eye on something else for the time being. Turns out the Galaxy Laser Team is actually VictoryBuy's second reissue of some Tim Mee Toys favorites.

This 'n' That

I had intended to post an update yesterday, but my ISP was acting up for reasons unclear. That means everything I wanted to do online got pushed back to today. Couple that with serving jury duty last week, and you have a recipe for my best-laid plans for a schedule falling by the wayside yet again.

Well, what's up? I do have some things in the pipeline, honest. In fact, there are two entries in draft form that I am bound and determined to get finished. They have been in the planning stages since prior to the lightning incident. I SWEAR, ONE DAY THEY WILL BE ON THIS BLOG.

I've also been very quietly making some updates to a few older entries. Why? Well, I can't tell you just yet. It will be more obvious when the full roll out happens. I just am not sure when that will be. Sigh.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is I have too many ideas and not nearly enough time and ambition to execute them all. Story of my life, really.

In Tumblr news transmissions, I've folded a couple of my older ones. That includes the Naomi Morinaga one. I lost interest in maintaining it, and it became a little bit of a headache in some respects. But never fear! I am still maintaining a healthy Naomi Morinaga Tumblr presence on OWARI 2.0! It's just not exclusively Naomi anymore.

That's all I have today, but there will be more to come. Bank on it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nicky Flamingo's Birthday Feature

I had no idea until just recently that the lovely and talented Nicky Flamingo was essentially a "birthday buddy." Her birthday is July 26th, one day after mine. However, I am reasonably certain she is younger than your humble OWARI major domo.

Since my only online connection to Nicky is via dA, I thought it would be fun to feature some of her artwork and give her a little bit more exposure. You've already seen the pieces she's done for me, but her gallery is pretty awesome.

Happy birthday Nicky! I hope it was a beautiful one, for a beautiful person!

Angelic/Synthetic by *nickyflamingo on deviantART

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Red Taiyo by Sean Moore

Here we have another piece of giftart, this time by the talented Sean Moore. Sean has taken one of the newer characters in my pantheon, Red Taiyo, and given him an astonishingly authentic treatment. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how a Japanese manga of this guy would look. As someone who was inspired by Japanese TV superheroes, and by extension their associated manga, I am beyond thrilled. Red Taiyo looks like he's ready to leap off the page and smash his fist into a rubber-suited monster! For justice!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Amazing Girl by Nicky Flamingo

Gentle reader, I am caught up once again in circumstances beyond my control. Don't worry! It's nothing as bad as my computer getting hit by lightning. In fact, it's not dire at all. However, it limits my attention I can give to this blog. Again. Seems like a theme lately, doesn't it?

There's also the little matter coming up Wednesday, and this actually provides us with some things I'd like to show you in meantime. First up, we have giftart by the amazingly sweet Nicky Flamingo. Nicky's ladies are always beautiful, and I think we can all agree that this pic of Amazing Girl fits the bill.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Antonio Inoki vs. Great Antonio

Since I don't want this to be mistaken for a comics-only blog by any of the 12 people who show up not looking for pictures of Asian actresses, I figured I should add a little variety. This came up with a buddy of mine today, so I thought I'd post it.

Antonio Inoki is a legendary figure in Japanese pro wrestling and a fellow with more than a little interest in legit fighting arts. Great Antonio was neither of those things. He was a "strongman" in the freakshow sense of the word. He was also someone who was a little bit off even by the standards of professional wrestling. Think about that for a minute.

The following match is rather infamous and said to be from 1977. Great Antonio continually clowns Inoki and refuses to work a proper match. Inoki becomes angrier and angrier as things go on, but seems bound and determined to work the match. That is, until Great Antonio decides to start taking liberties by laying in stiff forearms on Inoki's neck and head. That's when Antonio Inoki snaps.

This isn't by any definition a "good" match. But it is a very interesting one.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Allen Parish 134

Allen Parish 134 by ~celamowari on deviantART

I live out in the sticks, and there was a time not that long ago when many rural roads in Louisiana were unmarked. Someone decided to fix this in the 1980s, and we got "Parish Roads." However, no one seemed to do anything with these designations and eventually they just faded away. It wasn't until the advent of 911 in this area that there was a concerted effort to name roads and assign addresses.

Anyway, the Parish Road signs were removed at some point, but this one got missed somehow. It may be the only Parish Road sign left in the state, though I doubt that. It sits alone and forgotten along the road, its purpose lost in the mists of the past. Well, I remember you, "Allen Parish 134."

If you'd like to see more photos, you can find them in this Facebook album.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chris, why do you hate comic books?


Hero for Hire #9 (May 1973)

I bought two comics on Wednesday at Paper Heroes. One was The Mighty Marvel Western #44, discussed earlier. The other was Hero for Hire #9 (May 1973). Now, I've not really been buying so many vintage Marvel superhero books, but this one was irresistible. Perhaps you ask why?

I ask you, could you refuse a book that contains such a panel? Especially when it could be yours for a mere six dollars?

The Luke Cage character was not even a year old in terms of published output by the time Hero for Hire #9 hit the racks. With this story (and the one in the previous issue), you can see Steve Englehart trying to establish Cage as part of the larger Marvel Universe. No, not just a part, but as someone who can hold his own. The interaction with both the FF and Dr. Doom is interesting in this regard. Luke Cage is the new guy on the block, and he has to prove his mettle.

This issue has been written about a LOT, so I don't want to rehash a plot synopsis that has been written several times over. Basically, Luke Cage travels to Latveria to collect a debt of $200(!) from Doctor Doom. There's a lot more to it than that, but suffice to say, Cage gets his money...honey.

This issue was a lot of fun. Englehart's work in the first half of the decade always makes for a good read. Yes, Luke Cage sounds pretty much as if he was written by a white guy who's seen a few blaxploitation movies for research. I can't exactly fault this approach given the times, but it is forced in places (like Cage mentioning prison twice). Dr. Doom also reads a bit odd in places, but y'know, I just take that as Steve's approach to writing in those days and roll with it.

On the art front, the cover is by Billy Graham. Graham is also the inker, and could be considered Cage's primary artist during the characters formative years. I don't think I own any of his other work, but it looks intriguing. The pencils are by George Tuska, and they convey a lot of power. Graham is a nice complement to Tuska, which isn't something you can say about every combo in 1970s Marvel.

Don't really have a whole lot on the ads this time, except there are a lot of different ones for one particular trade school in several different fields (conservation, accounting, veterinary assistant, drafting, surveying). Guess they wanted to cover their bases? There's also this tiny little bit of strangeness buried in the "Market Place" ad alongside the mail stuffing jobs and antigravity device:

HELP WANTED - Vietnam combat vets or individuals willing to train for overseas employment. Send $3 (Guaranteed). Challenge Inc., [redacted], Lafayette, IN 47906.

What sort of pseudo soldier of fortune business do you suppose that was all about?

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Mighty Marvel Western #44 (March 1976)

It's been far too long since I sat down and did a vintage comic write-up. In fact, I'm currently digging through the archives of this blog and still haven't found one in going back a YEAR. Unacceptable. Since I bought a couple of those type of books on Wednesday, this seems as good a time as any to right this wrong.

In surveying the latest box of old comics at Paper Heroes, I noticed there were several 1970s Marvel Western books. I idly mused that it would be cool if one of them would turn out to be the comic which Gil Kane said sported one of his favorites of his own covers. Not 30 seconds later, I flipped to that very book. Needless to say, I have my own copy now of this intriguing comic.

It's The Mighty Marvel Western #44 (March 1976). This title began life in 1968 as an oversized bi-monthly reprint series. As time went by, it got cut to standard size, and with this issue, it was demoted to quarterly. There would only be two issues after this one before The Mighty Marvel Western shuffled off to cancellation. Since even the regular Westerns were strictly reprints by that point, I'm not sure it mattered so much. However, I will have a little commentary on the Western genre via Marvel after we discuss comic at hand.

First, if you didn't click the link earlier, you should correct this mistake and get a load of that cover. It's a nicely done piece of art that manages to overcome all the logos, blurbs, etc. and just burn itself into your memory. I had no idea of the name or the number of the book I was thinking about as I scoured back issues, but I recognized it immediately when I saw it. That's a powerful image.

The cover is sort of vaguely connected to the lead story, but not really. It's more like an "inspired by" rather than a "based on". Honestly, I don't have a lot of comment on the stories in this issue. All three of them (two scripted by Stan Lee, one unknown) are competent but unremarkable. Seriously, they are standard genre tales, especially the origin of the Two-Gun Kid. This Two-Gun Kid, incidentally, is an earlier version of the character, and not the more familiar masked hero who briefly fought alongside the Avengers.

I will say this for the stories in this book - they all have fine art. Rawhide Kid is by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, from a period when both men were just starting to build the "House of Ideas." Matt Slade (who steps in for Kid Colt in this issue, despite the logo set-up that included his name not being used) is illustrated in style by the underrated Werner Roth. And the aforementioned Two-Gun Kid origin is drawn by Joe Maneely, a talent who died much too young. Maneely is possibly the best artist of all from the so-called "Atlas" days.

If these tales are strictly by-the-numbers, you can't fault them for their efficiency. There are THREE stories with only 18 pages of content available! They run 6 pages, 5 pages, and 7 pages. I can't even imagine a contemporary comic book story with an actual plotline and characterization (however rote they may be) running only a scant five pages and being satisfying as a whole. Yet somehow, Werner Roth and his unknown scripter accomplish this.

I am perpetually fascinated by comic book ads, and there are plenty of them. Out of curiosity, I conducted a little survey in this book. If you exclude house ads (including the Bullpen Bulletins hype page), there are exactly two ads in the entire book that aren't for mail order offers. One is a Hostess Cupcakes ad done in the famous comic book story format. The other is for Slim Jim. This tells you pretty much all you need to know about comic books and advertisers in the 1970s. There are plenty of old standbys, though: Johnson Smith Company, Charles Atlas, 100 piece toy soldier set, etc. Looking over the ads is like a visit from an old friend.

As mentioned above, The Mighty Marvel Western #44 (which went on sale December 1975) would not survive 1976. In fact, I'm pretty sure Marvel did not have a single on-going Western comic by the time the 1980s arrived. The same can be said for just about EVERY genre other than superheroes and licensed properties. Heck, I think they had already bailed out of the romance comic biz entirely by 1976. When this is discussed, it's often by people bemoaning the fact that the big companies marginalized everything other than superheroes, neglecting those books so badly that they just died. That's how I understand the fandom meme anyway.

There is some degree of validity to that, but by the same token, I feel like Marvel (which we're discussing today) concentrated where the sales were. Do you think the Westerns would have gone into reprints and then withered and died if they had been selling strongly? I doubt anyone would be that stupid. Marvel had been publishing Westerns for ages by the time they discontinued them.

So, what changed? The audience. Marvel would have probably been shut down eventually if superheroes hadn't happened. Comics fandom was driven by superheroes, so it followed that Marvel grew in esteem with them as the superheroes took hold. Comics fandom as a whole didn't care about Westerns and romance comics, so they died out.

This last development has led to much scolding of fandom over the years, particularly from that contingent who want to see superheroes "stamped out and destroyed." Fandom was never driven by a love of all comics; it was driven by a love of superhero comics. The people who had supported Westerns didn't switch allegiances. No, they had simply STOPPED BUYING COMICS.

Over the years, I've realized that comic books logically should have died in the 1970s like everyone was predicting. The only reason they didn't was because of superhero fans desperately holding onto them and figuring out ways to make them profitable. All the other genres gradually fell by the wayside because the casual buyers deserted the medium. Not all of them, as I'm sure someone will eventually point out. No, but enough that something like The Mighty Marvel Western became expendable.

All was not lost, though. It was only through comics surviving through superheroes that comic books found ways to be relevant again without tights and capes. Something to remember in these modern times, when it seems again like everyone is predicting gloom and doom.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They're Just Taunting Alan Moore At This Point

Hey kids! It's a Special "Let's See How Much We Can Piss Off Alan Moore!" Triple Feature!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Top 40 Songs of the Disco Era

I have to tell you about the American Top 40 rebroadcast from this past weekend. It was one of the more infamous shows in the program's history - the special "all disco" countdown from July 7, 1979. Well, except for Hour #1, that is; due to the format of these retro shows being set at three hours, the four hour shows which began in late 1978 are edited out of necessity. That's a shame, but I'd rather get 3/4th of the show than none at all.

And I did get to hear the whole thing, for once. I usually end up missing the last half hour or so due to having to leave my radio, but on Sunday, my station (for reasons unknown) began the show at 8 am rather than the customary 9. The whole thing was over before 11 am! Whether this was an accident or a deliberate move by someone who hates disco is unclear. But then, it's not as if this edition is a stranger to controversy. Cleveland station WGCL loathed disco so much that they pre-empted the real show and aired a fake one in its place.

All of which is a pity. I get a fair amount of ribbing from people over liking some (not all) disco, but the truth is that disco music never went away. They just changed the name and let the disco moment pass. If you look at that countdown, there are a number of polarizing acts (the Bee Gees, the Village People, Rod Stewart), but also a lot of solid, fun music. "Got To Give It Up" does nothing but enhance Marvin Gaye's reputation. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic would go on to be much in-demand producers. "Dazz" by Brick and "Turn The Beat Around" by Vicki Sue Robinson are just amazing regardless of how you classify them. And so on.

The most hilarious/sad aspect of the whole show is how Casey Kasem offers up quotes about disco and its influence on our daily lives and how it was "here to stay." Little did anyone know while putting together this show that Disco Demolition Night was literally just days away. July 12, 1979 has been called "the day disco died," so it's ironic that AT40 aired such a huge celebration of it in the days prior to that seminal event. And for the record, I think the whole promotion was just dumb.

As for disco itself, there was much that was good and bad about it. I am pretty sure the disco moment would have passed anyway (I've read it was only SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER that extended it as far as it did), but it's genuinely too bad it took such an ugly riot for things to reach critical mass. Still, maybe that's the only way things could have turned out.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Mr. Metal Prize!

This entry has been a long time in coming - nearly a month, as it turns out. To explain, due to circumstances, my man Lewis Smith declared ALL the entries in the 2012 edition of his fanart contest winners. That meant that everyone earned a first place prize of a color piece of art.

Well. I've never gone into these contests with the idea that I might WIN, so this took a bit of thinking. I decided to ask for Mr. Metal, a character inspired in a roundabout fashion by Iron Man (a favorite of Lewis'). Plus, given the nature of Mr. Metal's origin, I elected to give Lewis the opportunity to modify the suit if he wanted.

I am thrilled with the results, and definitely will be taking this design into consideration in the future when Mr. Metal gets another turn in the spotlight. I'm only sorry it's taken me so long to feature this piece, but consider that oversight officially rectified!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Beginning of the End

It occurs to me that I have been using this movie's title for over 15 years and have never featured it. That's partially because I've never gotten around to seeing it.

However, I have seen this movie. I can no longer remember a thing about it, despite having reviewed it in the pages of Xenorama lo these many years ago.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Diddy Wah Diddy

My pal Justin (occasionally mentioned here as "Gonzo Rev") recently discovered a very unusual song from Captain Beefheart called "Observatory Crest" (FB login required, methinks). In the course of our discussion of it, I was reminded of MY introduction to the Captain. I don't think I've posted it here. But first, some background.

Captain Beefheart's first record company was A&M Records. He and his Magic Band managed to get out two singles before departing. Those 4 sides and a rejected B-side make up the sum total of his output for the label, and were later collected on an EP immodestly dubbed The Legendary A&M Sessions.

It just so happens that "Diddy Wah Diddy", the Captain's first and more successful single, mysteriously turned up on the music at my job a few years ago. I was literally the only person in the place who had even heard of Captain Beefheart, though it was from word of mouth rather than experience. I was absolutely enthralled by the growling white blues of this song (a Bo Diddley cover, I later learned), and resolved to find out more about Beefheart and his music.

It took a little while, but I did just that. Of course, "Diddy Wah Diddy" is in no way typical of what the guy did. But man, it's a hell of an intro to the man's music.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Avengers (1952)

Yes, I finally did see the movie version of THE AVENGERS. I quite liked it, too. However, I still sorta wish we could've had something like this:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Obsolete Technology Website

Quick link and run post this time, gang. In the course of doing my reading for the entry on the Atari 1200XL (why yes, I do research my entries), I stumbled across The Obsolete Technology Website. It has interesting profiles of any number of old computers, with a generous helping of pictures. As someone who was just growing up in the 1970s, I find the glimpse at what desktop computers were like in that decade absolutely fascinating. To think so much has changed just in my lifetime. Why, back then, you were just as likely to build your computer from a kit! And monitors? They were strictly optional!

If you're interested in computers (and you're on one right now, so I guess you must be), check it out and marvel.