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!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Super Sentai and Marvel Comics

Well, drat. I have a lineup of posts I intend to write, but I've been working on some file management tasks that have been diverting my attention from them. However, I spent some time this afternoon writing the following for a reblogged photo on Tumblr. Why not use it here?

What follows assumes you know that BATTLE FEVER J (the third sentai series, and the one which kicked off the current cycle of shows in 1979) began life as a collaboration between Toei and Marvel Comics. The original idea between BFJ was along the lines of "Captain Japan," and evolved into something resembling the Avengers before it mutated into its current form. That's where our story picks up...

Here’s a fun fact about super sentai: In addition to BATTLE FEVER J, both DENZIMAN and SUN VULCAN were also considered collaborations between Toei and Marvel Comics Group. I don’t know how much actual involvement Marvel had with DENIZMAN and SUN VULCAN, but you can still find old merchandise that includes “MCG” alongside Toei and TV Asahi in the copyright information. The Marvel connection was dropped after SUN VULCAN, and subsequent sentai series don’t include it. In fact, it appears to have been retroactively eliminated from DENZIMAN and SUN VULCAN.

Another fun fact: Yukie Kagawa (“Amazoness” in Toei’s SPIDERMAN series) played “Amazon Killer” in SUN VULCAN. As you might gather, the two roles were somewhat similar.

Here's the Japanese Wikipedia page for Marvel Comics, and here's the (imperfect) Google translation.

To see the original entry that prompted this, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Naomi Morinaga Is Not Dead

Since the Internet has apparently elected me an "authority" on Naomi Morinaga, I want to clear up something that has been showing up in my dropdown menu for her on Google. Namely, "naomi morinaga death" and "naomi morinaga cause of death" keep showing up among the top matches for the lady. As you can imagine, I find that somewhat upsetting.

Let me assure all the Naomi Morinaga fans out there that, as far as anyone knows, Naomi Morinaga is alive and well. Here is her Japanese Wikipedia page. Notice there is no date of death. If anyone would know, it would be the people who administer the Japanese Wikipedia. The American one is usually updated within minutes of the reports of a celebrity's death.

Here is the pertinent portion of Naomi's entry:


I won't pretend to be able to translate that precisely, but here is the gist of it:

She retired from public life in 1998 after her marriage. She is currently the mother of 1 child.

I know Naomi's fans miss her, but she decided to leave the spotlight after she got married. Considering the trajectory of her career, I can understand her decision. It doesn't look like she was involved in the recent Space Sheriffs video game, and I suspect she won't be appearing in the new GAVAN movie either. Though I have to say, Annie making a cameo in that film would be a nice touch.

I think what happened was that the very real death of Naomi's SHAIDER co-star Hiroshi Tsuburaya in 2001 coupled with her retirement has led to confusion among her fanbase. Well, as of this moment, Naomi Morinaga is alive and well. I sincerely hope that she has found happiness and contentment in retirement.

Man, I need to add a "Naomi Morinaga" tag to this blog. Meanwhile, enjoy the revived Pictures of Naomi Morinaga! You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Rene Bond

According to the sources I've seen, today would have been Rene Bond's 62nd birthday. Now, you're forgiven if you have no idea who Rene was. I appear to have only mentioned her once on this blog, and that was earlier this year. But if you follow my Tumblr account, you are probably well aware of my fondness for Ms. Bond. There is a (NSFW) Rene Bond tag on OWARI 2.0, and it has gotten its share of use.

Like a lot of people, I first became aware of Rene Bond through Something Weird Video. For whatever reason, Rene's picture in their catalog (from the same photoshoot as the above, oddly enough) captured my imagination. I really needed to see this "Rene Bond" for myself, live and in color on my TV screen.

Before I got that opportunity, I learned something I probably should have realized all along. I had assumed in my youthful naïveté that Rene Bond had been a B-movie actress - one who shed her clothes frequently, of course. Well, she was, but that was only one facet of Rene's career. She was also a model. A nude model. Fair enough. Oh, and an adult film star, too.

...I don't think my 25 year old self was quite prepared for this revelation. The actress I had been fantasizing about off and on for about two years...had gone all the way? Well, that settled it - I needed some Rene Bond films in my life!

It would be years before this ambition was fulfilled. In 1997, I had no money to investigate Rene's career. Time passed, my interests shifted, and my Rene Bond crush faded into memory. Well, until a few years ago, when I inadvertently stumbled across one of her films on DVD in a local store.

Naturally, those old memories resurfaced and I was compelled to buy the movie. As I watched for the first time, I really did fall for her. I knew she was cute in an appealing way that seemed at odds with the sort of thing she was doing on-screen. Yet there was more to her allure than just beauty. She had a charisma and likeability that really transcended the role she played. There was just something about her that struck a chord in me.

I have picked up a number of Rene's movies since then, including such worthies as COUNTRY CUZZINS, FRANKIE AND JOHNNIE... WERE LOVERS, and NECROMANIA (the last an Ed Wood film!). Rene turned out to be a surprisingly decent actress for her material. This wasn't always in evidence, but certainly, her performances were a cut above most of the folks surrounding her. She was also a singer, and again, better than I would have expected in that capacity.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Not the Beatles, but an incredible simulation"

The Beatles and Marvel Comics are sort of linked inextricably. Beatlemania and the Marvel Age of Comics coincide so neatly that it's almost hard to believe. The Fab Four made an appearance in a Thing/Human Torch story in Strange Tales, and there were later some Marvel Beatles books after the success of the KISS comic.

However, I wasn't quite prepared for what I saw when I looked up the trailer for the film version of BEATLEMANIA (the stage show based on the Beatles):

Did you catch all the Marvel characters beginning at about the 43 second mark? What makes it so odd is that the film version didn't come until 1981, and yet the art used is clearly of 1970s vintage. I can definitely identify The Human Fly #1, What If? #4, Ms. Marvel #9, and Marvel Two-in-One #31 in the lineup.

Uh, what's the story here? I have the vaguest of recollections of BEATLEMANIA getting mentioned in a 1970s Bullpen Bulletins, but there were no Bullpen Bulletins pages for the majority of 1981. If anyone has any information on this online, it's well-hidden. I couldn't find a darn thing besides the IMDB noting the appearance of the Sub-Mariner in the film.

Anyone got any ideas? Or even better, some facts?

Monday, October 8, 2012

15 Minutes of Tumblr Fame

Well, this is interesting. It started on Thursday night when Tom Brevoort published this request on his "Marvel Age of Comics" Tumblr. Based on his response, Tom had never heard of Kaliman. I had, but just barely. Kaliman is a Mexican superhero. But what was this Kaliman/Galactus business?

Well, a little web searching yielded the surprising answer. It seems a few Kaliman comic book covers depict him fighting Marvel characters. There's not only Galactus, but also Doctor Doom and a trio of Things! I have no idea what's going on inside those books, but the covers are pretty wild.

As you can see, I decided to upload those covers to Tumblr myself after dropping Tom a line about them. Well, Tom reblogged them, and my Tumblr dashboard subsequently EXPLODED with activity. I've been reblogged by that account many times, but never on a post I'd uploaded myself - much less THREE. What makes it even funnier is this all happened over the weekend. I'm curious to see what happens now that the work week has begun.

In other Tumblr news, I have resurrected Pictures of Naomi Morinaga from the grave. Same URL, different blog. This one is labeled a "secondary" blog, so it cannot follow people or like posts. However, you Naomi fans may bookmark it to keep up. Considering all the hits the post about it here still gets, I figured I should include SOMETHING there. Whether it does anything more than reblog, well...we'll see.

Speaking of secondary blogs, this feature so fascinated me that I launched another Tumblr - Continued Next Week! Since there are apparently ZERO movie serial-specific Tumblrs (despite things like The Same Picture of Dave Coulier Every Day existing there), I decided to fill that void myself. The same rules apply as with the Naomi Tumblr - it cannot follow people or like posts itself. I really love serial imagery, and this will allow me to consolidate my posts about them in one spot.

I know this sounds like a lot, but it's all as easy as a dropdown menu after a single login. I don't expect either of these to have as big a volume as I've been maintaining on my regular Tumblr. In fact, I'm leaning toward easing off a little there. I mean, it's not as if I post as much as some people I know there, but some of the luster has been wearing off. I'm sure I just need to concentrate on what is inspiring me at the moment.

Finally, this will not be important in any way, but this exists now. There used to be a spam account at that URL many moons ago, and I believe it was Kabuki Katze who suggested registering it for myself just to claim the name. That sounded like a good idea to me, and since this was apparently my weekend for starting new sub-blogs, I just did it. There are no plans for any posting there, but then again, I didn't plan to post on THIS blog when I first created it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

OWARI #9 (December 2000)

My secret in getting this issue out as quickly as I did was that I was working on OWARI issues #8 and #9 more or less simultaneously during the interim between #7 and #8. Ergo, by the time #8 was ready to roll, a lot of the heavy lifting had been done for this issue, too. It's only "December" because I wanted to give the previous issue some time to get out there (as if!) before coming out with a new one.

All this, and I still went with the most egregiously bad headline I ever used. No accounting for taste, I guess.

After all the jibber-jabber I did in OWARI #8 about writing longer, better articles, even 2000 me realized OWARI #9 was "potentially problematic." My dissatisfaction over the actor/actress gallery in THE KAIJU DETECTIVE proved to be so great that I put together a new one from scratch! This one tried to apply the lessons I had learned from my first attempt's failures, and even expanded the gallery's purview to include all Toho SF films from 1954-1977.

Unfortunately, I don't have much to add to what is essentially a bunch of pictures, albeit still reproduced via photocopier. My introduction does admit that THE KAIJU DETECTIVE didn't catch on, and says the publication will go out of print when all copies are gone. I say there are "only 3 copies currently remaining" as of that writing, so apparently 2 of them found new homes after the fact. That means my little booklet's circulation in its first year was whopping eleven copies. Whee!

Changing pace about as much as possible, I mentioned Charlie Benoit in our last installment. Charlie was a coworker of mine who lost his life in a wreck in 2000. This was a pretty shocking thing for a lot of people to deal with at the time. One way I coped was to write a little thing about him that I gave to my friends. This wound up being read at his funeral, which was...very strange and touching.

Since it meant so much to me, I chose to include this piece in OWARI #9. Due to its highly personal nature, I wonder if this was the best decision. It makes it feel almost like a filler, and I never meant for it to be. However, due to the fact that so few people were reading OWARI, I was starting to do stuff that was more directly aimed at those local folks.

The last page of the issue was the return of Tara DeVeau's column, and this one was actually created by the lady herself (other than my stripping in my intro at the top). This was the first time I had included someone else's layouts in an OWARI since #1. Of course, a typo managed to sneak past everyone, and that made all of us sad.

I almost forgot that there really WAS a filler in OWARI #9, and it was this Godzilla collage I posted a couple of years ago. Everything I remember about it is in that entry.

There's not a lot to say about OWARI #9, as you may have noticed. I don't recall there being much reaction to it in any quarter. It was...another issue of OWARI. I went back to work on my next issue almost immediately, and that one would have a little more content we can discuss.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do The Batusi! With Kennasaur and Doppelgirl

You might recall I featured artwork by the lovely "Kennasaur" not very long ago. Well, as it happens, Kenna has just started taking commissions. Among her first is the awesome rendition of Doppelgirl you see here! My major contribution was asking that she be doing the Batusi.

If you like what you see, why not stop by Kennasaur's page? Her commission prices are very affordable, she's quite talented, and super sweet. Try it; you might like it!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

OWARI #8 (September 2000)

Haha, oh man, reaching five years of OWARI was such a big deal to me in 2000. Little did I know that I'd be writing a review of that fifth anniversary celebration on my blog (a what?) on the Internet some twelve years later. Still, I had undergone a lot of turmoil and personal growth from 1995-2000, so it all seemed appropriate. You can sort of see that I went through a litany of names to thank up top. Alas, I wish I could tell you I am still in touch with all of them, but such is not the case.

In addition to giving a history of OWARI up to that point and a chronicle of the guy who created it, I also fell on my proverbial sword in this introduction. As I've outlined in prior installments, I was unhappy with the direction of OWARI's contents, and that all comes to a head in this issue. I really think I was perhaps too hard on myself, but that was just me trying to put out something that personally satisfied me and failing. I pledged to "write longer articles and present exclusive material." So I guess recycling that XENORAMA column in the prior issue was a sore spot for me.

However, I did live up to the promise to write longer articles in a BIG way in OWARI #8. This was the issue which included "The Big Bang Explosion," a lengthy piece on BIG BANG COMICS that I spent a good portion of the summer putting together. Yes, this was the long-promised coverage of BBC that I had originally envisioned as a standalone fanzine. I really don't think I would have done a better job than what wound up seeing print in this issue.

Y'see, "The Big Bang Explosion" was the longest article I ever created. What's more, I laid the silly thing out, and while no design masterpiece, I had clearly learned some lessons in five years of fanzines. The article has a few errors, and is a little bit all over the map, but by God, I was PROUD of it. Twelve years hence, I'm still pleased with it. I'm also happy it met with the approval of writer/editor Gary Carlson and other folks in the Big Bang firmament. That article was really my love letter to the book that helped me retain my sense of wonder.

I also included a cartoon of my own.

2 Watchmen by ~celamowari on deviantART

While "The Big Bang Explosion" was perhaps my greatest triumph in the pages of OWARI, that came with the price that there was scarcely any room to include anything else. However, I did inaugurate "The View from Godzilla Tower" on the last page. This was my effort to create a column for OWARI devoted strictly to kaiju/tokusatsu stuff, and was envisioned as being one of several rotating features that would appear when I had the material. This particular installment focused on a dubbing mystery that I am not sure now I answered correctly and the fake "nude scene" from TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.

And that, as they say, was that. Between my anniversary introduction and my article on Ultiman, Knight Watchman, Thunder Girl, and the rest of the Big Bang Gang, there wasn't space for anything else in 8 pages. Still, I felt like I had turned a corner and was on my way to making OWARI something memorable. I even held out the hope that I might be able to pick up some new readers.

That did happen, but not as much as I would have hoped. Gary promoting the 'zine in the BBC lettercol garnered some new eyes, but alas, not many. The bitter taste of THE KAIJU DETECTIVE being mostly ignored was still fresh in my mouth, so while I was encouraged, I wasn't exactly doing cartwheels. Finding readers was an uphill battle.

Oh, one more thing. Stripped into the layout of Page 2 at the last minute was this simple statement: "This issue dedicated to the memory of CHARLIE BENOIT, a good guy who was taken too soon." I'll tell you more about Charlie when we get to OWARI #9.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Zen Pencils

This one's going to be short, because you're going to have some reading to do after I'm done. Sunday night, I saw this comic on Tumblr. It's at once hilarious and poignant. Every time I look at it, I can't decide if I should laugh or cry. Often, I find I'm doing both.

Zen Pencils is a webcomic of a sorts. It's described as "Cartoon quotes from inspirational folks," and that's a good shorthand. The quotes are all meaningful (even if you don't always agree with them), but it's cartoonist Gavin Aung Than's ability to tell a story around them that makes Zen Pencils worth your time.

As it turns out, I'd seen an earlier example of Zen Pencils and been struck by it: this one. I suppose I chalked it up as just a one-shot thing. I was very wrong, and I urge you to discover just how wrong I was. Zen Pencils is worth the time it will take to peruse the archives. Don't be surprised if you find something that speaks to you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bo, Don't Be A Heywood

Things I learned about Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods on Sunday, thanks to Casey Kasem circa 1974.

1)"Billy, Don't Be A Hero" was not their only chart entry. In fact, "Who Do You Think You Are" made it as high as #15 on the Hot 100. Upon further reading, they even charted a THIRD song titled "The Heartbreak Kid."

2)One of the band members married the president of the Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods Fan Club, who just so happened to be Donaldson's sister Vicki. Furthermore, an invitation was printed in the Fan Club newsletter for all the members, and something like 200 showed up at the wedding.

3)Most amazing of all, there really was a Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods Fan Club.