Saturday, June 29, 2013

Comic Book Continuity And Me

This was something I said in Sean Moore's LiveStream (which you should totally check out when he does them, yo), and it was so perfect that I wanted to preserve it. We were discussing comic book continuity, and how some fans seem married to it above all else. So then, I sez:

I don't mind dating continuity, but I want an open relationship.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

September Gurls

I am about to make a slightly heretical confession. Are you ready? OK, I don't really "get" Big Star. I recognize they are considered (to quote Wikipedia) the "quintessential American power pop band" and "one of the most mythic and influential cult acts in all of rock & roll". I understand this. I own all three of their 1970s albums, and have listened to each more than once. But I'm sorry, for some reason, they by and large don't connect with me.

Ah, but there is at least one Big Star song that speaks to me. I love "September Gurls" a lot, and it's not even because I was familiar with the cover by the Bangles. No, something about this song is so achingly perfect. It convinces me that the fault in my not caring for most of Big Star's music lies not with the band, but with me. My loss.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dr. David's Surprise Post

My mind has been in other places recently, so posting has been light. I haven't even found the time to pull in some older entries from the bullpen and add them to the blog. It'll happen, but I'm not sure when just yet.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to find this touching post on my pal David McRobie's Xenorama. To fill in the details, I'm pretty sure I got to know David via a recommendation from Dan Reed of the much-missed fanzine KAIJU REVIEW. Was it 1993 or 1994? I think maybe the latter, but time has a way of playing tricks on the old memory.

I don't know if all those compliments David heaps on me are true or not, but I really do appreciate them. David's also a very good man, and a good friend. At times when I felt like my spark of creativity was completely extinguished, XENORAMA was the place where I always could count on finding a home. It was like pulling teeth at times, but I was always able to put together something for him. I'm proud of that.

Speaking of XENORAMA (the fanzine), it looks like it will be returning very, very soon. Not sure about you guys, but I can't wait to read it!

Thanks David. It all seems like yesterday to me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

ACEO 101: Il y a quelque chose

ACEO 101: Il y a quelque chose by =KabukiKatze on deviantART

So I'm just going to go ahead and add a tag for Sydney on this blog now. Quite a switch, no?

What you see here is an ACEO I commissioned Kabuki Katze to do as a gift for Syd. You can read more about the particulars of it on the dA page. I'd just like to add that KK did an amazing job on this card, and I'm so grateful to her for helping me brighten Sydney's week!

One entry, two awesome ladies!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sydney Corcoran - In Her Own Words

(Regular readers may recall that I have mentioned Sydney Corcoran previously on this blog. I was reluctant to give out her full name, because I didn't want to feel like I was using that name to get more hits here. Today, that's precisely what I want. It's not for my benefit, but hers.

Sydney has written this account describing some of her experiences during and after the Boston Marathon bombing. It is powerful, moving, and unflinching. She has agreed to let me share it with you, and I am honored to have the privilege.

This is Sydney's story, in her own words. The only changes I have made were to fix a couple of typos. If you find yourself wanting to help her and her family, you can do that at this link.)

April 15th, 2013 by Sydney Corcoran

Everyone was so happy as we cheered on the complete strangers that were running by while waiting for our loved one to cross over the finish line and come back to us. I was trying to see a familiar face on any of the runners but I couldn’t find my aunt just yet. My mother was eager to see her as well; she was using my shoulders for balance as she was trying to pull herself up so she could balance on her tiptoes. My father was right behind us, our family friends were scattered around us. It had the illusion of a beautiful day.

It’s amazing how everything can change from ecstatic and jubilant, to horrifying and gruesome in the matter of mere seconds. The first bomb goes off and everyone is immersed in smoke. Every one of my senses is in use and working in overdrive. I can smell smoke and blood. I can taste the smoke going down my throat and into my lungs. I can see people on the ground but I can’t make out their faces. I can hear screams coming from every angle; each scream being muffled by my perforated eardrums.

I felt the force of the first of two bombs, but I was left standing. I wasn’t lucky enough to walk away unscathed. I felt like half of my right foot was gone. I managed to limp away to a rail. I was clutching onto that rail trying to comprehend what had just happened.

The next thing I know, I’m on the ground laying flat on my back. Men are putting massive amounts of pressure to my thigh and they’re taking off my shoes because they are covered in blood. I lift my head up to look at my thigh and I see something protruding. It’s hard for me to breathe. When I speak, it’s barely above a whisper.

There’s a man with a friendly face that’s holding my hand and telling me to squeeze it. He keeps calling me buddy and tells me I’ll be okay. I’m not sure I believe him. I’m about to be wheeled away on a gurney when he asks if I would like him to stay with me; I say yes. As the people are carrying me towards the medical tent, I think in my head that we’ll be killed by another bomb.

Once in the medical tent, they begin tearing away my clothes and strap an oxygen mask over my face. My entire body feels tingly. I can hear one of the medics say how I’m going white and my lips are purple. I begin to shiver because all warmth is leaving my body. I can hear the medics frantically yelling, “She has a femoral artery break! She has to leave now! There’s no time!”

Once I’m in the ambulance I intermittently close my eyes because the urge to sleep has grown stronger and my will is deteriorating. The ambulance was cut off and the EMT in the back with me is thrown to the front of the vehicle. I was jostled around from the abrupt stop and I feel my warm blood rushing out of my thigh. I don’t think I’ll make it.

In the emergency room, everyone is asking my name and where I’m from and they want me to give them a number they can contact for me. I speak with enormous effort. I ask them when they’re going to put me under, I just want to sleep and not feel the pain. I ask them while on the brink of sobbing if I’ll be able to keep my leg. I also tell them that both of my parents were in the explosion and I don’t know if they are all right.

I could be an orphan. The only person I think I have left is my brother. I want to sob thinking about how my parents could have been violently ripped away from this earth leaving me all alone on this operating table bleeding to death.

When I wake up, I’m intubated and tired. I see my dad and want to ask questions but the tubes prevent me from doing so. I ask for paper and a pen and try to ask him if my mother is alive. He tells me she is alive and in critical condition, he tells me that she no longer has her legs. I feel myself start to cry as I try to write and tell him that I thought that I was an orphan. After he reads what I wrote he begins to sob and kiss my face.

The hospital wanted to bring my mother and I together so they wheeled her bed into my room and next to me. Once we were next to each other we both began to cry and we held each other’s hands.

I didn’t care that my mom had lost both her legs, I wish that I could take away the pain she feels, but I’m just glad she’s alive and that I can still look at her and call her my mother. I know that we both have a long road to recovery.

I now have a hollow hole in my right foot; the bottom of my foot has a crack in it like the sidewalk does. My right calf has two incisions that were made to alleviate pressure because I had suffered from Compartment Syndrome. I have a massive shrapnel wound where a piece of shrapnel entered my thigh and severed my femoral artery. I have two incisions on both of my thighs from the surgeons taking a vein from one thigh and putting it in the other thigh to repair my broken artery. I have two other shrapnel wounds, one on my left lower shin, and the other on the inside of my right thigh.

I’m just glad I’m alive and I’ll still get to go to my senior prom even though it's on crutches and I have to take my Wound Vac so my foot can heal. I still get to see my parents and be able to tell them, “I love you”. In my eyes, every day is a good day to be alive.

© 2013 Sydney Corcoran

Monday, June 17, 2013

Frenchy Tiggler Sketch Card

Yes yes, it's another sketch card from Kabuki Katze. Our subject this go-round is Rene Bond (I'm sure you're all stunned) as she appeared in the film DEVIL'S LITTLE ACRE. The available material for this film isn't great, so Kabu did a bang-up job in visualizing the lovely Ms. Bond in this outfit. Read what we're saying about it over here!

We have one more sketch card coming commissioned by yours truly, and it's going to be a bit of a change of pace. Be on the lookout for it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Dad

Today has been hard. I'm not exactly sure why. It's not your birthday, or the day you left. It's just another holiday I don't usually think about much anymore. But for some reason, it's all as fresh as yesterday.

You drank too much, and didn't take very good care of yourself. I don't believe those things killed you, but they didn't help. It doesn't make me angry - just very sad. I selfishly feel cheated of all the time I would have liked to spend with you as we both grew old. Now I'll never be coerced into playing dominoes with you, like you were with Paw Paw all those days.

We didn't always understand one another. I wonder when it would have dawned on us that it was because we were really more alike than we cared to admit? I see so much of you in the man I grew to be. I often wonder what you would think of the way things have turned out. Would you be proud? Or would you insist I could do better? Probably, it would be both, because that's how I feel.

There's so much I wish I could tell you. I wish you could see all the things I've written and created. I wish you could meet all the amazing friends I've made. I wish you could have seen me fall in love for the first time. I just wish you were HERE.

But most of all, I wish you knew how I've tried to live my life. You always believed in your friends, even when no one else thought they deserved it. You saw the good in people, even when everyone insisted there wasn't any. You were a man who tried to do the right thing by everybody. If I have managed that even once in awhile, I like to think you'd tell me I did alright.

I hope you knew, through it all, I loved and respected you. You were the man who stood in newsstands all over the country while I looked for comic books. You were the man who had to give up the only TV so I could watch some cartoon. Later on, you gave me a ride home every week when I didn't have a car or a license. It took me a long time to understand the sacrifices you made, just because I was your son.

Your example taught me so much. Sometimes, you taught me what not to do, but I think maybe those were the most important lessons of all. You were a mixture of good and bad, humble and egotistical, a maddening yet inherently lovable guy who claimed that he would watch any movie as long as it was a Western, idolized John Wayne even though he was a liberal, and once took his date (and future wife) to see I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW)...and then promptly fell asleep.

You were my father, Jerry Elam, and I wouldn't trade you in for another one if I had the chance.

It's been 15 years, and I still think about you every day. Happy Father's Day, you ol' outlaw. I miss you.

Say hello to Maw Maw and Paw Paw, Rhonda, and Uncle Larry for me.

Your son,

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I'm going to do another one of these obscure musically-themed posts, even though I rarely get any response to them. It can't hurt to try!

One of my special favorite bits of trivia that I like to throw out is that I think the 1970s had more songs mentioning spoons than any other decade. I think you can guess why, though perhaps you shouldn't read any further if you can't. Offhand, I can think of at least three:

  • Fleetwood Mac - "Gold Dust Woman" ("Take your silver spoon / And dig your grave")
  • Billy Joel - "Big Shot" ("You had the Dom Perignon in your hand / And the spoon up your nose")
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - "The Needle and the Spoon" (...kinda self-explanatory, yeah?)

Your challenge - cite other songs mentioning spoons, from any decade.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Origin of Storms

Recently, I have been fortunate to make the acquaintance of a trio of ladies on Twitter. I've already mentioned Sydney here, but her friends Alexis and Katie have also entered my orbit. All three of them are very nice, but I won't even pretend that I know them well enough to tell you much about them. However, one thing I can say with little fear of contradiction is that all of them take their music very seriously.

What you see here is the Blue Öyster Cult box set. It is seventeen discs and signals my ultimate descent into BOC geekdom. I ordered it last night after much foot-dragging, and figure I will be light on human contact while I'm enjoying it. While Syd, Lexi, and Katie are all undoubtedly very serious about their favorite bands (most of whom I don't know - yet), I'm not sure they are THIS serious. But then, that is probably a sign they are saner than I am.

But still, this is the sort of thing that's only possible when both you and your favorite band have been around for awhile. Which is why it's so funny that I can trace one friendship directly to BOC, and it's a person who was born well after "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" first appeared on record and radio. That would be Kabuki Katze, and I'm not sure I've ever told that story here.

2004 began as a very bad year. I won't go into the details, but I was very unhappy and worried about my immediate future. Those issues all ended up resolving themselves for the best. I tend to think one contributing factor that lifted me out of my general malaise was a complicated and convoluted chain of "follow the links" that finally led me one day to Kabuki's LiveJournal.

Understand, I had no intention of ever actually TALKING to Kabu. I just thought she was cool and interesting and a good read. I'm not sure I ever WOULD have talked to her had I realized she was only 17 at the time! Gimme a break, she was already in college - it was an easy assumption to make that she was at least 18! (And she would be a couple of weeks after we "met.")

No, I would likely never have emerged from my lurking had it not been for a strange twist of fate. Shortly after my arrival, Kabu just happened to introduce a custom LJ-theme based on what turned out to be not only my favorite BOC song, but hers as well.

I cannot stress to you enough how profound this was for me. Not only was Kabu a fellow BOC fan, but she loved them enough to code her journal around the lyrics to "Astronomy" and do a piece of artwork based on the song. I have that art in my files, but it's so unlike her current style that I'm not going to include it here. It has sentimental value for the two of us, but I'm not sure it's something that's going to be back on the Internet anytime soon.

I decided that I should bite the bullet and introduce myself to Kabuki. After all, not only was she cool and interesting and a good read, but we had something unusual in common. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. How could I have realized this random person I found through a series of random decisions would become my ally, my collaborator, and most importantly, one of my best friends? I just wanted to talk to someone. BOC was the icebreaker.

If you ever doubt the power of music, well, there you go. I love Blue Öyster Cult's music, but I love what they brought to my life even more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Invisible Avenger

INVISIBLE AVENGER (1958) is a bit of an odd duck. Apparently intended as a TV pilot, it didn't sell, and instead got a theatrical release (or two). I've seen ads that I assume are for it being issued under this title, but the film itself runs under an hour. I guess it was used to fill out the bottom half of a double bill.

What makes this particularly unusual is that INVISIBLE AVENGER is a largely-unheralded film adapting the Shadow. It's apparently the second busted pilot for that noted crimefighter. I actually have no trouble understanding why this iteration didn't go on to become a series. It has a number of weaknesses that undermine its good qualities.

The setting is New Orleans, and it appears the film was really filmed there (especially given the appearance of TV station WDSU). It definitely has a feel for the local color, but this brings up one of the things about this project that puzzles me. The Shadow is a visitor to the city. So, would the Shadow series have relied on location filming across the country? And if not, why shoot the pilot so far off the beaten path?

More of an issue is the unusual set-up. Lamont Cranston is still the Shadow, but he forgoes any sort of recognizable outfit like the slouch hat or the cloak. His identity is ostensibly secret, but he sure goes around turning invisible willy-nilly without a care in the world. And then, there is his mentor. No Margo Lane for this Shadow; he's saddled with a sort of mystic who apparently taught him the secrets of the Shadow. I'm not one who finds subtext in each and every work of fiction, but holy moley, this pretty much screams out "gay couple" whenever they are on-screen together. It's almost like the people responsible sensed this and overcompensated by having Cranston declare his interest in every woman in the cast.

The plot confuses me. I can't say I wasn't (mildly) entertained, but there are parts that just don't make any sense. Like, televising an execution? Really? This is not anything that was going to happen. And even for something that runs under an hour, characters disappear abruptly and the plot shifts gears abruptly. It feels like either some sort of tinkering occurred, or the script just wasn't especially coherent in the first place.

I'm also a bit flabbergasted to see what amounts to product placement in the late 1950s. Besides the appearance of WDSU, both Delta Airlines and Avis are prominently featured. Actually, there's damn near an Avis commercial close to the end, considering how long the camera lingers on their logo. What's weird is that Avis is not exactly depicted in a positive light. Cannot imagine how this would have helped them.

I don't know - INVISIBLE AVENGER is sort of OK the first time, but it's not something I am eager to revisit. However, it appears that at least one other company saw potential in it. The only trailer for it that I have found is this re-release version entitled BOURBON STREET SHADOWS. It includes salacious footage that is nowhere in evidence during INVISIBLE AVENGER. Was it included only in the trailer, or is BOURBON STREET SHADOWS a spicier re-edit? We'll probably never know!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


I'm not going to rehash the tangled and somewhat sordid history of the Heart album MAGAZINE. You can do that on Wikipedia. However, I got to hear the song "Heartless" this weekend, and I realized something kind of poetic about how everything went down.

If you read the link, you know that Mushroom Records, Heart's old label, lost the band. They still went behind their backs and put out a slapdash album, but Heart wasn't coming back to Mushroom no matter what. So I find it interesting that the label loses the band Heart, they issue an album, and there is only one single extracted - "Heartless".

Oddly appropriate, given the circumstances.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Superman Movie Serial

Since I'm doing the movie serial blog thing over at Continued Next Week!, I figured it behooved me to watch some more serials that sounded interesting. One of those was the original SUPERMAN serial from 1948. It's not bad, but I wouldn't call it great either. I do like the unusual structure in telling Superman's origin before we get into the plot itself. I don't really mind the animated effects - it's a rather distinctive and innovative touch that prefigures the CGI revolution, even if it's almost distracting in how jarring it is. And Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill are both top-notch as Superman/Clark and Lois, with Tommy Bond and Pierre Watkin also great as Jimmy Olsen and Perry White (respectively).

It's not the acting or the admitted cheapness of the serial that bothers me. No, it's the fact that people do the most amazingly dumb things in it. I understand this is to some degree inevitable in serials, but SUPERMAN abuses the privilege. Both the good guys and the bad guys are huge morons. I found myself screaming at the TV all the time. If I had one of those foam bricks they used to sell, I'd have thrown it a lot.

Let me give you an example. It is a SPOILER, if you care. The cliffhanger of Chapter 4 finds Lois being placed on the huge electrified web of the head villain the Spider Lady. We have already seen one luckless soul fried on this contraption. The juice is turned on! OH NO! Will Lois be electrocuted?! Find out in the next chapter!

Chapter 5 recaps the pertinent predicament and resolves it by...having the Spider Lady turn off her death trap? Hmmm? Her reasoning is as follows:

Spider Lady: "I don't plan to finish her here. I just want her to realize my power."
Thug: "You're not gonna turn her loose?"
Spider Lady: "Certainly not! Have two of the men take her to the warehouse in the city."

The thug protests this plan, pointing out quite reasonably that Superman can never find them due to the lead walls of their cave headquarters. Spider Lady retorts:

He won't find her at the warehouse either, in time. I'll see to that. Now do as I say!

OK, let's review. The Spider Lady has Lois doomed to a certain death in a lead-lined cave, and Superman doesn't know where they are. The Spider Lady removes Lois from her death trap just to prove she can. Then, she orders her men to drive Lois out in the open to the warehouse. And then to shoot her, I guess. Obviously, this doesn't happen, and Superman rescues Lois from the car before it ever makes it to Metropolis.

Spider Lady, just how dumb are you?!?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What If? #20 (April 1980)

What If? #20 is a comic book that evokes strong memories for me. I purchased it at Dandy Dan's in DeQuincy, which was a store that held a quasi-mystical status for me. You see, whoever did magazines there couldn't be bothered to pull the comics in a timely fashion. It also seemed to be the place where comics that were distributed nowhere else in the area wound up. I would later buy the last issues of both Captain Carrot and Mighty Crusaders off Dandy Dan's racks, months after they disappeared elsewhere and their ultimate cancellation. I also found my Myron Fass-published magazine Star Force at Dandy Dan's.

What If? #20 was the first issue of that series I ever picked up. I had been following both The Avengers and Marvel Super Action (which reprinted old Avengers stories), so the cover caught my eye. I was especially intrigued by the Avengers logo, which was identical to the one used on MSA. I reasoned that meant the story must take place in the same general timeframe. And you know, I was pretty much on the money.

What If #20 was my introduction to the Kree-Skrull War, one of the more famous Marvel epic storylines. It is severely condensed, and lacks the sheer bravura creativity that marked the original. Still, it was my first glimpse at those events, and it prepared me for the day when I'd get the chance to read the real thing.

I sort of get the idea that this particular story more than others in this series was meant to "fix" the original and make it more impressive. I can understand the sentiment, since the ending of that cosmic war left many cold. And admittedly, the assembling of Earth's heroes and the legions of Asgard to confront the aliens is pretty damn thrilling. I can't fault the story for ambition.

However, I also can't ignore the fact that there is some painfully bad dialogue in this story. Yes, even by the standards of the times, it hurts. I'm not even going to reproduce any of it - I flipped to some random pages and each one had at least one terrible line. This didn't bother me as much when I was 7, but today, well, they should have known better.

Another maddening aspect of this story which I don't think I noticed when I was a kid is a gratuitous change from the regular continuity, just for the sake of being different. It is especially jarring and artificial, since it seems to come out of left field and is only spelled out via caption. I seriously question why it was shoehorned into the story, unless somebody just didn't like that particular subplot.

The art is pretty nice all around. I remember liking it back then, and I still do today. Alan Kupperberg had the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Neal Adams, John Buscema, and Sal Buscema. Well, he's not going to make you forget any of those men, but he does yeoman-like work in cramming a lot of characters into a limited number of pages.

I don't regret re-reading this comic book after all these years, but it's definitely not the same anymore. It was my gateway to new and exciting aspects of the Marvel Universe when I was a kid, and I gobbled it up. Today, it is an ultimately flawed and unsatisfying variation on a classic story, albeit one with decent art. Sometimes, you just can't go home again.

Oh, and Dandy Dan's? The building is still there - in fact, I stopped there on Monday to fill up my car with gasoline. But it hasn't been Dandy Dan's in many years. It doesn't even have magazines now. Yeah, you just can't go home again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Invaders From Space

This is a tiny bit of a cheat. You see, I've owned INVADERS FROM SPACE on both VHS and DVD for yeeeeeears. I've even seen one half (I'll explain) of the Japanese version. Still, it came in one of my packs, so I took the opportunity to revisit it.

I'd like to officially go on record here as saying I freakin' love the Starman film series! They are not only action-packed, but quite stylish and occasionally creepy. They're also absurd as all get out, but that's part of their inherent charm. You're not really watching anything close to reality when you watch a Starman movie.

They're also a trifle incoherent, but this is not entirely the fault of the original material. The Japanese films were shorter featurettes edited together for American consumption. INVADERS FROM SPACE takes two separate but connected movies and joins them into a whole. It also loses a little subtext in converting Kappa Seijin into Salamander Men, and honestly, it sounds like the dubbing script was just made up on the fly without any thought to internal consistency.

No matter. INVADERS FROM SPACE is a rollicking good time. I enjoyed myself so much that I had to take a screenshot of this moment near the end of Starman about to kick some Salamander Man ass.