Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Sphinx, And Why You Should Read It

This began life as a piece for a contest for Bill Cunningham and Pulp 2.0 Press. After finishing it, I realized it didn't quite fit into the stated parameters of the contest. I'm still going to try to put together something for that, but I also decided I like this too much to let it go to waste. Therefore, consider this a bit of early promotion for the SPHINX collection due from Pulp 2.0 Press!

I have a confession to make. While I distinctly remember seeing the ads for Jeff Weigel's Sphinx ashcans in the Image Big Bang Comics #3, I never ordered copies of them. Why? I wish I had a good answer at this late date. When the Sphinx stories turned up in the BB series, I wasn't too surprised, but I also realized I had made a terrible mistake by not jumping on board at my earliest opportunity.

Jeff Weigel's Sphinx had a confidence in both story and art that belied the fact that it was Jeff's first attempt(!) at doing a comic book story. Here was a hero that was at once both classically-styled and excitingly new. The Sphinx wasn't exactly a "retro" strip, but neither was it typical of superhero comics of its time. No, it had a maybe a pinch more heart and soul than a lot of the four color fantasies that were populating the shops of the 1990s.

The Sphinx was and is a fantastic series, with some decidedly unexpected twists in its narrative. It is also beautifully drawn, and demonstrates the love and care Jeff Weigel puts into his craft. If you're reading these words, chances are you already know these things. But if you're the kind who reads the text features first, you have some grand entertainment in store for you.

Yes, I was a loser who didn't order the Sphinx ashcans when I had the chance. However, Bill Cunningham and Pulp 2.0 Press are now making these wonderful stories available all over again. So please join me in welcoming Jeff Weigel and the Sphinx back to our bookshelves. You were missed, gentlemen!

Jeff Weigel
Pulp 2.0 Press
Big Bang Comics

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Cinderella" by Firefall

I heard this song on the radio earlier this week, and was reminded how much I like it. Certainly, it is by no means a positive song. Frankly, it's a bit hard to imagine that the same band responsible for "You Are The Woman" and "Just Remember I Love You" could have created such a profoundly unhappy story. And yet, there it is.

One of the most intriguing aspects of this song to me (besides the arrangement) is the structure of the story it does tell. I think you can draw some obvious conclusions about the protagonist from the first half of it. And yet? If you make it through the second half, despite his inherent selfishness and bad attitude, you can infer that he stayed with her after all. That's not the only interpretation possible, but there is an undeniable tinge of regret about his life. Not necessarily what you might expect.

Firefall has a website, because of course you knew they would. It includes not only lyrics, but also chords and tabs for their songs!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don Simpson and Beau Jocque

Sometimes in my life, two completely divergent threads converge unexpectedly.

Witness the album cover art for Check It Out, Lock It In, Crank It Up!, a zydeco album from Beau Jocque. If that art looks familiar to some of my comics loving friends, that's because it's the work of Don Simpson. Don is the creator of such characters as Megaton Man and Yarn Man. I consider his comics some of my absolute favorites of all time.

While I am not as big a zydeco fan as you'll find, I'm also pretty familiar with it due to living in Louisiana. I especially knew of Beau Jocque, as he was a resident of Kinder, LA (pronounced as in "kindergarten," and if you're wondering how a town in French Louisiana ended up with a German name, you weren't the only one. It appears to be named for a Union solider who homesteaded there after the Civil War.). Kinder is literally the next town over from where I live. I could leave right now and be there in less than a half hour. That might not sound too impressive, but remember, I live in the middle of the country.

If I am to believe Amazon, this album was issued in 1998. Sadly, Beau Jocque died of a heart attack the very next year, at the way too young age of 45. His music still lives on, and that is the legacy that was probably most important to him. As for Don, he has gone on to pursue new goals outside of the comics industry. He recently turned up on the Book of Faces, though, and I am happy to say he is doing well.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Continued Next Week!"...LIVES!

Well, isn't this interesting? I pretty much wrote off further regular updates to Continued Next Week! back in January. Slowly, I found some new enthusiasm for the project, and began working to whip it back into something worth following. Today, I'm officially saying that the darn thing is BACK as a side project for the time being.

I'm not about to predict how long this will (ahem) continue. Theoretically, I could keep it going indefinitely. I mean, I kept it alive when I didn't even want to deal with it. It's all about the visuals and aesthetics achieved in these movie serial images. I find them beautiful in their own retro cool way, and I want to share that.

In addition to maintaining semi-regular updates, I have also launched a Tags Page for it. This was way, WAY more work than I liked, but hopefully, it will be worth it. It currently lists and links every serial covered on the blog, along with the major serial studios and some other related topics. It's not perfect by any means, but I hope it will at least assist people in navigating the site.

The most glaring omission from that page is a list of performers. I wanted to add one, but have elected to leave the page as it is (with new serials added as I post about them, natch). An actor and actress index would have been even more work, and I frankly don't trust my ability to ID everyone in all the pics. My initial solution was to only list the "popular" stars, but then that creates the dilemma of deciding who belongs on the list. Stepping back from a potential headache, I am just trusting that anyone who wants to see more of such stalwarts as Buster Crabbe, Linda Stirling, and Bela Lugosi will know enough about them to be able to find at least one production that features them, and follow their tag from there.

Thanks all for your kind indulgence. Remember Continued Next Week! for your movie serial image blog needs. You don't even have to wait for the Saturday matinee for all the cool stuff!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Doris Hill

Some nights, you want a blog entry, but don't want to go to the trouble of putting together something that involves too much work. That's when you find a picture of a silent film/early talkies actress in your Downloads folder and decide to upload it and write about her. That may or may not have happened tonight.

Say hello to Doris Hill. I can't say I'd ever even heard of her until today, but she was quite the beauty. Hers was not an especially memorable career, but they can't all be. If you'd like to learn more about her:

Screen Goddess

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Black Star and the Golden Bat" or "Golden Batman"

Speaking as we were of Tumblr yesterday, if you don't follow mine, you might not have seen this business. I don't know "Chad Edwards," but can only assume he is a reader of this blog based on his mention of THUNDER PRINCE. You may recall there was a post about that film back in 2010.

So anyway, I was unfamiliar with the movie titles he gave that are now the title of this post. As I mentioned in response to his initial query, I had seen the videos commonly referred to as "Super Batman and Mazinger V" and "Young Gu and the Golden Bat," but never anything by those titles. Well, given the circumstances, it's entirely possible one of those might be called 검은별과 황금박쥐 and the English titles I know are just free translations.

Curious, I plugged the above Korean text into Google Image Search. Lo and behold, what did I find?

Oh nothing, just this dynamite soundtrack(!) record album cover art.

Actually, I learned a bit more. It seems there is a full-fledged cartoon version of this character to go with the live-action one I saw in "Super Batman and Mazinger V." Oh yeah, this is that guy. Despite not wearing Kamen Rider Black RX's henshin belt, and the lack of appearance by Castle Grayskull, I can't forget a dude who wears Batman's cowl matched with a yellow costume.

"Super Batman and Mazinger V" is one of those cartoon/live-action hybrids that is/was commonplace in Korean kiddie cinema. It is pretty terrible as I recall, but memorable in its own way. It sure looks like this 100% animated version has much in common with its brother. I mean, check out the ersatz Mazinger in the upper left corner! And according to Chad, it is WORSE than THUNDER PRINCE!

...Oh dear.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Random Sick Day Post

I haven't been feeling particularly well this evening, which has led to much lying about that almost counted as sleeping. Almost. I'm sure it's enough that I'll be wide awake at 2 AM. But I'd kinda like to have a post for Wednesday, and I just don't have time to gather my thoughts on a subject into something approaching coherence. So instead, let's do some random shots before I call it a night here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My BOC Concert Report, 12 Years Later

The following was originally written July 23, 2012 in response to a query put forth by "I'm Damaged And I Like It" about attending Blue Oyster Cult shows. I've combined two different replies into one, and tweaked things slightly. Thanks to my collection of newspaper clippings, I now know the concert I attended was Sunday, May 6, 2001. Unfortunately, the report I wrote directly after getting home that night has since been lost. Since I'm working on cleaning out my Tumblr account (a story for another day), I wanted to preserve this piece for the record.

I went to an outdoor show in 2001. Amazing night. It was part of the local Contraband Days festival, and I think they were the last band that played as part of it. I wasn’t as knowledgeable about BOC at the time, but I knew I was a fan and I knew I had to see them.

This was when Allen Lanier was still in the band with Eric and Buck, so it was as close as you’d get to the “classic” lineup in recent years. In fact, if you’re familiar with A Long Day’s Night CD and DVD releases, that’s a pretty good snapshot of the band from that time. My show wasn’t as long as the commercially-available one (I wanna say 90 minutes start to finish), and I think they performed “Pocket” from Curse of the Hidden Mirror rather than “Dance on Stilts” (though maybe it was both?). Curse wasn’t even out yet, so whatever came from it was totally new and unfamiliar.

As Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma slow down their touring, and with Allen retired, I’m glad I got to see them when I did.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"Look! Gigan's Come! Just Look!"

In my apparently ongoing efforts to unearth images and discuss them, we have this posed publicity shot of "Kengo Nakayama" (Kenpachiro Satsuma) from the German release of GODZILLA VS. MEGALON. What struck me as odd about it was the bathysphere on the ground. There's no good reason for it to be there, except, as David McRobie suggested, "Hey, we need something else in this picture...oh, let's use that bathysphere..." And admittedly, it does add a certain character to the shot.

At first, I thought this was a leftover prop from SUBMERSION OF JAPAN. This idea got tossed out almost immediately when a simple check revealed that Megalon preceded Submersion by several months. So, maybe LATITUDE ZERO? I asked August Ragone, and he not only confirmed the LZ identification, but also mentioned that the photo was from a press junket for GODZILLA VS. GIGAN. I'm sure it just got recycled by Toho when they were assembling material for Megalon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Zorro alla corte d'Inghilterra

One of the great things about the internet is the fact that I am constantly able to learn new things. Take for example the picture you see here. I discovered it last night while searching for images from Zorro movie serials. It was listed under the French title "Zorro au service de la Reine," but that was irrelevant to me. Under any title, I had never heard of it!

It turns out to be from the 1969 Italian film "Zorro alla corte d'Inghilterra", which has the English title "Zorro in the Court of England." Well, color me intrigued! Why the heck is Zorro in England? I don't know, and not even the Italian Wikipedia offers a clue. So it shall remain a tantalizing mystery for the time being.

I'll probably do further research on this matter in the days and weeks ahead. However, I thought it was worth sharing the very cool picture and the joy that I am still learning about old movies after all these years. I probably will be for the rest of my life.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Like a Cat: Mosi Kiwidinok

Like a Cat: Mosi Kiwidinok by =KabukiKatze on deviantART

The big story here is that I wanted to give some gift art to Synthetic Platypus, ostensibly for her anniversary. I came to Kabuki Katze with the idea of resurrecting Sara's OC Mosi Kiwidinok. You can see the delightful results above. Sara's character is baaaaaack, and ready to show you who's the assassin you should respect!

For more art, check out the gallery pages of these awesome ladies!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thunder Island

Jay Ferguson probably is better remembered for being part of the bands Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, but this song was the first time I had ever heard of him. And I have to admit, I love it. Something about its almost tropical vibe gets to me.

I have an unusual story about my introduction to "Thunder Island" back in 1986. A snippet of it was featured on a morning radio show as the "mystery oldie." Since I was stuck at home rather than school (my memory is that there was flooding due to a storm), I got to listen in fascination as NO ONE GOT IT. People were calling in and guessing, but no one knew the song for a good hour. I knew I didn't know it, but then, I was just a punk kid. I'm not even sure anyone guessed it correctly at this late date. Finally, the DJ revealed all, though whether it was because of a correct guess or just throwing in the towel is lost to the ages.

The upshot to this story is that "Thunder Island" is from 1978. It was already classified as an "oldie" in 1986, and none of the listeners knew it. Now granted, "Thunder Island" is not the biggest hit ever, but it was Top 10. Can you even imagine no one recognizing a Top 10 hit less than a decade old today?

...Y'know, now that I think about it, maybe it's not so far-fetched after all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Super Hero Time!

Spider-Man and Battle Fever J are joined by Doraemon, Kamen Rider Stronger, Ultraman Jonias (“The Ultraman”) and Kamen Rider V3 for Superhero Time at Korakuen Amusement Park, circa 1979.

(via Mondegreenery)

That's the way the post I submitted to the Marvel Age of Comics Tumblr was supposed to look. I didn't realize that HTML was not enabled on the submission screen. When Tom Brevoort published my submission, I am pretty sure I looked like this.

I am grateful to Tom for publishing my submission, and hopefully this entry will make up to Caleb Goellner (the person from whom I got the pic) for botching his link. Meanwhile, why don't you peep out this post of Popy action figures from Will McKenzie? I am pretty sure those are also from 1979, due to the presence of Battle Fever J, Ultraman Joe, and (most tellingly) Eagle Ken. Why do I mention Ken? Because he's branded as being from GATCHAMAN II!

Too bad we couldn't get a Miss America to fill out the Battle Fever J team. Or more Ultras, Riders, and Gatchaman, for that matter.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Goro Naya

Goro Naya has died.

The truest testament to Naya's skills as a voice actor is that it didn't matter if you understood Japanese or not. His voice had POWER! And that power will be missed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Your Bulgarian Galactus

This is another thing that I felt fell through the cracks last year and didn't get the attention it deserved. Your eyes don't deceive you: that is Galactus on the cover of an unrelated foreign science-fiction book. No one seems to know for certain if the image is a swipe or wholly original. At least, I haven't run across anyone that knew.

This came from here, and it turns out to be BULGARIAN. Kabuki Katze did some poking around on it, and it is a collection of SF short stories originally written in English and translated into Bulgarian. The title is "Сборник - Английски фантастични разкази", and Google offered "Corpus - English Fiction Stories" as the meaning for that. So yes, this is your chance to read the likes of H.G. Wells and Michael Moorcock in Bulgarian. Or should I say Хърбърт Уелс and Майкъл Муркок?

The book is from 1986, and the art on the cover is credited to Венцеслав Веселинов (Wenceslas Veselinov). My top Google match for that name is a dentist, so I don't know much about him yet. The mystery of Bulgarian Galactus persists!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He Has A Point

C. Elam: Poison and Great White might as well be the same band.
Gonzo Rev: In an alternate universe, they are...
C. Elam: I can't prove that they aren't.
Gonzo Rev: No one can...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

El Enmascarado con Estilo

Mil Máscaras

Huracán Ramírez

‘Cause every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed luchador!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Wonder Woman, PBR Champion

“AND I stole that guy’s hat! Yee-Haw!”

Comic Cavalcade #17, October-November 1946, cover by Everett E. Hibbard. Image via GCD.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Phantom Empire Trailers

Two trailers for the 1935 Mascot serial "The Phantom Empire." The first trailer appeared at the end of Chapter #2 to urge kids to keep coming back each week for more. They did!

I originally watched this Gene Autry serial one chapter at a time on the late, lamented “Matinee at the Bijou” program on PBS. It made a huge impression on me. An underground kingdom! A death ray! Robots with hats! And standing in their way? A singing cowboy.

It’s really awesome.