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!