Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Third World Agent by Sean Moore

Now really, haven't I convinced you that Sean Moore is an awesome artist? Here's the latest finished commission from the Owariverse files - it's one of those rotten Third World agents that are always hassling Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson!

It's always exciting to get art from Sean, but this particular design is something that has been kicking around in my head for something like 20 years. This is really the first time it has appeared in a full-fledged picture. Sean had previously done a card of one of these guys, but now -- well, this is the whole enchilada. The Third World agents have not changed appreciably in my head since I settled on their design back in college. And here is how they look when drawn by someone other than me!

Go visit Sean's page and tell him what a great job he did. Oh, and in other news, one of Sean's pictures was featured on the Famous Monsters of Filmland Facebook page! Recognize!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dress-Up Doppelgirl

And now, for something completely different...

We've talked about my OC Doppelgirl, we've talked about my friend Kabuki Katze, and we've talked about how the former drew inspiration from the latter. Today, we debut a brand-new commission that mixes things up in a lot of fun ways.

A few months ago, Kabu did a piece of giftart for mutual friend Sean Moore that was in a paper doll style. This led me to think "I want one of those!" Quickly, I decided Doppelgirl and her multiple identities would be the perfect fit. But I decided to bide my time and do a couple of other projects first.

Well, it was eventually this commission idea's turn at bat, and it was finished in record time! It brings me a lot of joy, with Doppelgirl, Spookette, and Madame Troika costumes for the erstwhile Judy Gourrier. And of course, Kabu was a great sport about the whole affair, since she was essentially drawing herself in her underwear!

Kabu's page is here, and includes a link to a PDF if you'd like to print this out for yourself!

Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones

The most amazing thing about George Jones is that he lived to be 81. I mean no disrespect to the man or his musical talent and legacy when I say this. But really, who saw that coming? When you realize how infamous Jones was for his extracurricular activities for ages, I consider it a triumph for the Possum that he managed to clean up his act and live a long and fruitful life.

I could post a George Jones song as a tribute to the man and his work, but if you know him, it's something you would already know by heart anyway. I choose instead to post this ultimate show of respect from Alan Jackson at the 1999 CMA Awards. As some background, Jones declined the chance to perform on that program when he was asked to sing a severely-abbreviated version of his single "Choices". That led to this moment.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Eternal Naomi Mystery

One of the most puzzling aspects of this blog since I opened it is how people looking for Naomi Morinaga constantly wind up here. Well, it's a lot less puzzling now that I have a specific tag for her and an image blog that is linked in the sidebar. But that was done at least partially because people kept winding up here anyway. I figured I should help them out a little.

I like Naomi Morinaga. I like her so much, I have even periodically collected images of her over the years. That collection serves as the foundation for Pictures of Naomi Morinaga (NSFW). But the truth is, I don't have either a wealth of knowledge or opinions about her. That's why this blog was active for over a year and a half before I ever got around to writing about her in-depth. Almost everything since that initial entry is either a supplement or a discussion of the image blog.

So, what gives? Beats me. I knew Naomi Morinaga was a cult figure, but the volume of traffic I receive seeking her stuns me. Literally at least half of my daily hits pertain to her. There is clearly an audience for Naomi content, and apparently, I fill the bill. Which...well, why me?

I still am not sure why I have become such a destination for Naomi fans. However, if I'm going to be remembered as "the Naomi Morinaga guy," I decided I should at least do justice to her and not perpetrate the hack jobs I've seen that try to spread opinions as facts. The lady deserves better than that from people who identify themselves as fans.

"Pictures of Naomi Morinaga" exists partially out of whimsy and partially out of responsibility. I don't take it especially seriously, and would caution everyone to do the same. At its core, it's about posting images of a pretty girl. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I've tried to bring a sense of fun to it. My earlier attempt felt more like homework, but now...well, I'm enjoying it. I guess other people are, too. I don't have proof, but I have the suspicion it is the most popular site I maintain by a wide margin.

By the same token, I am also trying to get across the fact (occasionally lost on people) that Naomi deserves respect alongside the adulation. I've tried to cover the entirety of her career instead of glossing over bits of it. All too often, I've seen sites that either whitewash her later projects in favor of the superhero stuff or focus exclusively on anything depicting nudity. Both approaches do a disservice to her. She was both a superhero show star and a sultry sex symbol. I'm not sure why one aspect must be ignored? Well, I do know the reasons, but it's not a path I choose to follow. If we're going to celebrate Naomi Morinaga, let's give equal time to all aspects of her.

Anyway, that's enough of the soapbox. Pictures of Naomi Morinaga is about fun! If you like Naomi, pop over there and see what all the fuss is about!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Herbie Mann - "Superman"

Here's another find from the AMERICAN TOP 40 archives. I'm not sure how I went all these years without hearing of a comic book-themed song that actually made the Top 40. Yet "Superman" by Herbie Mann was completely new to me when I heard it this weekend on a 1979 countdown. I'll go out on a limb here and assume the song was inspired by the release of SUPERMAN in late 1978.

Monday, April 22, 2013

This Past Week

I try to shy away from discussing both my own life and current world events on this blog. It's not that I deem them unimportant, but my thoughts on such matters are usually something I consider private. However, things occasionally get to a point where it would be foolish to not talk about them.

If you were paying attention, you know that last week was a tumultuous one. There was the bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday and the subsequent confrontation and capture of the alleged perpetrators on Thursday/Friday. This was something that changed a lot of lives, and I have already linked to a fundraising effort for two of the survivors. On a personal note, this tragedy hit me on a personal level due to my friend Sara having embraced running in recent years. That could have been her and her immediate family and friends. That's the sort of sucker punch level of identification that gives you pause.

That wasn't all the week had in store. There was a horrific explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, TX that took out a good part of the town. As I have alluded to from time to time, I live in a small town. My sister is a volunteer firefighter. So what happened in West really hit me in the "that could have been us" way. It's something that is going to haunt me for a long time, and all you can do is support those who have to pick up the pieces. My heart goes out to them.

And then, on a far more personal level, a dear friend of mine lost someone very close to her quite unexpectedly. Part of why this blog post is so late tonight is because I was emotionally spent after paying my respects at the funeral home. My heart breaks for all of those folks - most of whom I have never even met before today. But I did get to catch up with my friends, and maybe make some new ones, too. Not the way you'd like, but in my experience, sometimes you only get a chance to really talk to people at these sort of things.

The funeral is tomorrow. I live a bit of a distance to try to make it, and besides, I think it should really be for those people who were truly close to the person who passed away. But I know where my heart will be tomorrow. If you could spare a thought or prayer for these people going through a sad and difficult time, Internet, I would really appreciate it. I am sure they would, too.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Akiko Fuji of the Science Patrol

Is there anyone who watched ULTRAMAN who didn't have at least a little crush on Fuji?

(Pictured: Hiroko Sakurai as "Fuji")

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celeste and Sydney Recovery Fund

Like a lot of people, I've been riveted by the unfolding human story of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Maybe you have seen this photo.


Or this one.


Or some variation thereof. The first even went viral with the story that it was a boyfriend who was going to propose to his dead girlfriend. Well, they weren't dating - he was just a person helping a stranger in need. More importantly, she's not dead.

Her name is Sydney. If not for Good Samaritans, she would have died from her injuries. Her mother lost both her legs in the attack. And this is after Sydney suffered a fractured skull in a car accident two years ago.

Sydney's family was featured on NBC's ROCK CENTER tonight (April 19th if you are reading this later). There is a page where you can donate money to them. I have, though it sadly wasn't much. If you can, give them a hand.

Here's the link. -->> http://www.gofundme.com/CelesteandSydney <<--

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sailor Meo by Kennasaur

commission: meo by *kennasaur on deviantART

Sailor Meo here is a newish original character of our friend Kabuki Katze. But this isn't drawn by her. It is instead by Kennasaur. The explanation for this is I wanted to give Kabu a gift, especially since she has helped me in putting together gift art projects for other people. I chose Kenna to help me pull this off because she has a wonderful art style and is literally just the sweetest person imaginable.

I love both these ladies, and feel like you will, too. You should follow their art! A big thanks to both of them for being so fantastic! Oh, and for more Kenna art on OWARI, check out this entry!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

OPUS: One Panel U Submit

I think we could all use some good news, so here's a new blog I've been following recently. Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort, who already maintains one of the must-read Tumblrs with his "Marvel Age of Comics" strikes again with OPUS: One Panel U Submit. The concept is simple - a single comic book panel that tells a story in its own right. And based on the name itself, it should be obvious that submissions are welcome.

I am not certain, but I may have made the first outside submission to OPUS. That would be this entry, featuring an image that had previously appeared on this blog. It is still one of my favorite comic book panels.

OPUS - Try it! You'll like it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hakaider: "If You Are Justice, Then I Am Evil!"

I was chatting last night with Sean Moore, and before our talk was truncated due to bad weather and spotty Internet on my side of things, we discussed MECHANICAL VIOLATOR HAKAIDER. Sean hadn't realized that HAKAIDER was not only a theatrical release, but also the anchor of the third (and final) "Toei Super Hero Fair" kiddie matinee show in 1995. Of course, one reason for that is that the "Director's Cut" has largely superseded the original edit, which was under an hour like both KAMEN RIDER ZO and KAMEN RIDER J (the centerpiece films of the earlier Super Hero Fairs). There's also the little fact that HAKAIDER is wildly inappropriate as a film aimed at children.

Seriously, what was everyone thinking here? Well, I know what I was thinking, as I was all of 22 years old when HAKAIDER came out - "Cool! This looks awesome!" And yes, HAKAIDER is pretty cool and awesome. But c'mon, it's also downbeat as heck, especially for a crowd of kiddos that had just sat through preliminaries of OHRANGER and B-FIGHTER as a warm-up. HAKAIDER is dark in tone and it's just a dark LOOKING film. I think Keita Amemiya is supremely talented, but I also think HAKAIDER was a case of miscalculating an audience. I would be totally unsurprised if it killed off the Toei Super Hero Fair entirely.

(As a side note, I remember Roy Ware mentioning to me once back when this was all contemporary that there were rumors of an updated HENSHIN NINJA ARASHI for the 1996 Toei Super Hero Fair that never happened. Was this ever anything more than just a rumor? Did it get to any kind of design stage? I'd personally love to see Amemiya's sketches for a mid-90s Arashi.)

Artistically, HAKAIDER has endured and even thrived in a manner its more kid-friendly predecessors ZO and J have not. Which isn't to say that any of the trio fails, but HAKAIDER got much more of a release outside of Japan. Amemiya was a hot property, and HAKAIDER fits in well with the rest of his filmography and doesn't involve the all-important "Kamen Rider" name. HAKAIDER got more than one release as a standalone entity, while ZO got incorporated into Saban's MASKED RIDER. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which of the two will be better remembered in the States as a result.

(Yes, I know there was also a ZO game. I believe it was mentioned in the very first letter I ever received from Lewis Smith!)

One of my personal favorite aspects of HAKAIDER is the tagline. This may seem weird, especially since I didn't even know as much Japanese in 1995 as I do today (and I'm no master linguist now). Yet, it was not only stirring, but the translation was so perfect that both Lewis and I decided we should rip it...er, "homage" it in Return of Jetman. I am working from the Japanese Wikipedia here, so excuse me if I get this slightly wrong. But the tagline was:


Literally, this is "Kisama ga Seigi nara, ore wa...Aku da!!!" The translation I have seen (and love) is the one in the title of this entry: "If you are Justice, then I am...Evil!!!" Really, that sums up the movie's viewpoint very nicely.

I stumbled across something interesting last night while reading about HAKAIDER, and it's the main reason I was motivated to write about it. Now, it's well-known among tokusatsu fans that there are often layers of meaning that casual viewers might never catch. Like, for example, the fact that Space Sheriff Gavan is named for French actor Jean Gabin. Well, you can thank Google Translate for pointing out an obscure example of this to me in HAKAIDER.

If you've watched HAKAIDER, rife with its symbolism, you could probably guess that the character of "Michael" is named for the archangel Michael. That doesn't change even if you prefer the HAKAIDER character's name to be "Mikhail". The katakana is ミカエル, so whatever makes you happy. The part I hadn't realized was that his boss in the movie is named for a real person.

The Wikipedia entry for MECHANICAL VIOLATOR HAKAIDER gives this character's name as Gurjev. I will assume this comes from a translated version of the film. But I noticed something in reading the translated Japanese page - it spelled his name グルジェフ as "Gurdjieff." This seemed oddly specific to just be a flaw, and it rang a bell for me anyway. As it should have - it's based on the name of George Gurdjieff. I don't know if Amemiya or screenwriter Toshiki Inoue is responsible for this, but it's a nice touch.

Oh, and for the record, I just noticed someone mentioned this on the MECHANICAL VIOLATOR HAKAIDER Wikipedia talk page back in November. Unsurprisingly, nothing has been done with this information.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Buster Crabbe Conquers The Serials

I've been naturally thinking more about movie serials since I started Continued Next Week! - probably more than I ever had in the past. Thanks to pal David at Xenorama, I've recently been watching THE LOST CITY. I'm debating whether I want to write about that little gem when I finish it. Point is, I've been taking time to consider the genre as a whole a lot lately.

I was recently struck by a surprising realization about serials. Republic Pictures is the studio synonymous with movie serials, and they produced 66 of them (or 67, depending on how you count) from 1936 to 1955. Meanwhile, one man is identified with serials above all others. That's Buster Crabbe, and he appeared in an amazing nine different ones. But would believe it? Crabbe never made a single serial for Republic!

Buster Crabbe's nine movie serials:

TARZAN THE FEARLESS (Principal, 1933)
FLASH GORDON (Universal, 1936)
RED BARRY (Universal, 1938)
BUCK ROGERS (Universal, 1939)
THE SEA HOUND (Columbia, 1947)
KING OF THE CONGO (Columbia, 1952)

It seems very counter-intuitive, but the actor most identified with serials never appeared in one for the studio most identified with the form.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tout Sweet

We here at OWARI love the band Sweet. I don't know if that comes up often enough to be established, but it's true. So it should come as no surprise that I take a keen interest in the fact that Sweet had some pretty big hits to go along with being a great band (glam and otherwise).

In fact, Sweet hit the Top 20 (not just the Top 40) a total of 5 times. Even a casual fan could probably rattle off four of those songs with ease. "Little Willy" made it all the way to #3 on the BILLBOARD chart in 1973, and both "Ballroom Blitz" and "Fox on the Run" got as high as #5 in 1975. In 1978, with a much different sound, "Love Is Like Oxygen" ascended to #8. All of those songs still get airplay to this day.

But what was Sweet's fifth hit? The answer is either after the cut, or just ahead, depending on how you read this blog.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's No "Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy"

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am to learn that the line is NOT "Do ya, do ya want my love, commander?"

Saturday, April 6, 2013

DC Comics Heroines by Kabuki Katze!

Well, I did say I was going to link to this project again, and so I shall. The latest Wallpaper series from the mega-talented Kabuki Katze is DC Comics Heroines! And in an accidental sub-theme that I am taking credit for subliminally planting in her brain, all 4 ladies represented are also card-carrying members of the original Justice Society of America. Check it out - Wonder Woman is even sporting her eagle look!

Kabu just announced that she is drawing the curtain on her Weekly Wallpapers for the time being. That's not as surprising as it might sound, as she has been doing them for almost a year! I think she has more than earned a respite from her self-appointed task. Meanwhile, get thine hindquarters over to her site and check out all that you've missed (if indeed you missed it). Why not show the lady a little love while you're there, huh?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Good Things, Bad Things

I was planning to post an entry tonight, but now those plans are bittersweet.

First, I was surprised to discover yesterday that I was linked by the Comics Reporter. I assume that link was also responsible for the upswing in comments I got on several entries. I have a deep respect for what Tom Spurgeon's site does, so I am very appreciative that he pointed people in this direction. Of course, I'm sure the very unusual item I posted didn't hurt.

Second, as you may recall, I reviewed Crypt of Shadows #19 last time. I discussed my confusion over the story "He Never Reached The Ground!" and this prompted Michael to offer a copy of the original story. Besides the myriad coloring differences, the chief disparity is that yes, the original is indeed four pages. Examining it closer, I see my suspicions that the story was reworked were correct; it's not just a matter of dropping the last page. Rather, the top tier of panels from Page 3 are eliminated, and the top tier from Page 4 are shifted to the bottom of the sequence. That leaves the bottom two-thirds of the last page chopped, too.

I'm rather charmed that some staffer actually had to go to all this trouble for a throwaway story. The ending does offer the "Tibetan mystic" explanation, and while it still seems more than a little abrupt, at least it is an explanation. However, the anonymous Marvel Bullpen person who had to fit this story into its allotted pages went so far as to transfer the original "The End" box from the actual end of the tale to the new, shortened ending. Crazy. A huge thanks to Michael for sending this story to me, and giving me the chance to compare the two versions!

That was originally all there was going to be tonight, but news today in fandom circles hasn't been good. Three great creators have died in the last 24 hours: George Gladir, Roger Ebert, and Carmine Infantino. It's possible you might be familiar with only one of those names, or maybe two. Trust me, you should seek out information on all of these men. They did great work, and our world is poorer for their loss. As I opined on Twitter, I am not a big fan of today.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Crypt of Shadows #19 (September 1975)

This is a nice, eye-catching cover, isn't it? It's what motivated me to spend $3 on a somewhat less than mint copy of this book I fished out on one of the boxes on the floor at the comic shop. Crypt of Shadows is not exactly well-remembered today, even among aficionados who collect this sort of thing. It appears to have been solely a reprint book, and was probably just another title designed to take advantage of the horror comic boom in the first half of the 1970s. Issue #19 is from near the end of its run. The series wouldn't make it to a 1976 coverdate.

Now let's take a look at the contents. The first story does feature a giant robot similar to the one on the cover. Of course, the 70s covers are a bit more...aggressive than even the originals. Witness Strange Tales #72! This is a Jack Kirby drawn tale that is possibly a bit predictable, but still pretty relevant.

The second story fascinates me, in that the "villains" (Martians) are portrayed as essentially being justified! The very first panel makes it clear that the human race are the jerks. Two panels later, we see that the Martians "...hate us because our people exploited them and took over their planet!" WOW! There are also some surprisingly subtle things going on in a story from 1953. Impressive.

Our third tale is drawn by the masterful Steve Ditko. The leader of the planet Gorgon is a classic Ditko alien. Man, I just love this art, even with the poor printing of the decade making it all muddy. The plot is one we've seen hundreds of times, but the nuances are kinda clever.

Lastly, we have the most vexing segment of this comic book. It's a three page "story" (more like a vignette, really) about a window washer who falls off a building. I'd give you a spoiler alert about the ending here, but 1) most of you won't care and 2) the story's flippin' title is "He Never Reached The Ground!" Trouble is, there is no justification in the version I just read! The guy falls, people panic as he does, he disappears, the end. What?

According to the GCD index, the man is "saved by a Tibetan mystic indebted to his great-grandfather." That's all well and good, but there is not a hint of this in the comic. However, a quick pop over to World of Fantasy #11 indicates the story was originally FOUR pages. Either an entire page was omitted, or the story was reworked entirely to reduce it to three. I can't tell for certain.

Why do something like this? You need to go back a few months to discover the answer. Earlier in the year, Crypt of Shadows was running 20 pages of content. It was reduced to 18, to sell more ad space. I'm guessing this story was the candidate for trimming, and it's possible the book was already assembled ahead of time when the change occurred. Incidentally, this was not unique to this title - I am pretty sure both Marvel and DC reduced their story pages across the board in 1975.

Speaking of the ads, this comic is like 1970s comic book advertising in a nutshell. I notice Marvel has fewer house ads than DC did at this time, which may speak to which way the wind was blowing in terms of circulation. But gosh, there are lots of tiny ads on the Marvel pages. By this time, plenty of comic book dealers were in business, and though there are many familiar names, I don't think any currently active dealers are among them by this point. But such old stand-bys as Charles Atlas and the Johnson Smith Company are still there.

In closing, I'll just say that Crypt of Shadows #19 would have been a good investment of your quarter in 1975. It's not outstanding in any respect, but if the cover sucked you in, you'd probably enjoy it. However, it is a trifle confusing, and if anyone can shed some light on the rest of that edited story, I will be grateful!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Who Is Christopher Elam?

Remember Googlism? I was reminded of it today, and thought it would be funny to search my own name. The results were disappointingly skimpy, but filled with even more questions.

christopher elam is the editor in chief and a co
christopher elam is printed as #1797

Undaunted, I then searched for just plain old "Chris Elam."

chris elam is fast on the sack but also has good interception hands for
chris elam is trying to define himself as a dancer and citizen of the world
chris elam is only 26
chris elam is a new member of the usa funds® services team
chris elam is dancing and presenting work in fringe festival and brazil festival
chris elam is in upt at reese

The conclusion we can draw from this is that even Google doesn't know what to say about me.