Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day Weekend...

...usually means the annual Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, which traditionally starts Sunday evening. I honestly don't know if the telethon is on this year or not, but I do know that there are MDA fundraising things going on all over the place!

Earlier this evening, I was at Safeway doing some grocery shopping, and I saw at the register these calculators that were designed so they could be clipped onto a belt loop or backpack. I asked what those were about, and the clerk told me they were being given away with a $1.00 donation to MDA. Well, I knew my 3-year-old would love to have one of those, so it was a no-brainer decision to make that donation!

There are probably other fundraising events and things happening in every city across the USA. And yes, I know a buck isn't much of a contribution, but let's face it, if every adult in this nation donated one dollar, that would be a record-setting year for MDA.

In other news, the Labor Day Weekend also means that Jessi and I are having our second-annual Labor Day Weekend Barbeque! Last year it was on Labor Day proper, but this year we decided to do it on Saturday instead. We're providing burgers, hot dogs, brats and smoked sausages, and we're not 100 percent certain how many will show up. I do know that I won't even start the grill until 1:00, and I'll make sure it's properly warmed up before throwing any meat on the grill! Guests are supposed to bring something to share (like a side dish or appetizer or dessert) plus what they want to drink. Family, friends and co-workers have been invited, but we really need to plan these things more in advance, and get some RSVP-ing happening!

We've also been invited to someone else's bbq on Sunday or Monday, I forget which day.

My brother Jeff is coming down early tomorrow to help me with a project. As you may or may not know, Jessi and I live in a duplex. What you probably don't know is that there's not a fence separating our patio from the neighbor's patio -- at least, there hasn't been since our previous neighbors moved in October -- and the landlord's been dragging their feet about replacing it. Since our dogs don't get along with the neighbor's dog, we can't have them all out at the same time.

But tomorrow, Jeff and I are doing something about it... we're going to build a fence separating the two patios, 13 feet 8 inches wide (or thereabouts) and probably at least four feet high. We're not 100% certain how we're going to do it, because we can't really sink any posts into the ground (we'll probably have to attach it to the house and garage directly), but we'll find a way... and I'll attach the receipts to the rent check, which will have that amount deducted from it!

Fortunately, we can do that kind of thing -- I think the landlord's just as happy that we put the effort into this stuff, so they don't have to.


Friday Night Classic Collectibles!

Not too much to say about these... enjoy the pictures!


This is called the "Orbit Explorer," and I think the ping pong ball shot up or floated up and down or something like that.


I really dig the tv camera on this "Outer Space Patrol" toy!



This toy was radio controlled!


The Sonicon Rocket seems to share the radar dish used on the Radar Tank!


Today's Video: Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster Trailer!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Bride of Frankenstein, Revisited!


So, what else can I say about "The Bride of Frankenstein"? Let's talk about the makeup, for starters. Jack Pierce had not one, but two monsters to make up this time... although whether or not one could call the Bride a "monster" is a matter of perspective.

Karloff's makeup was refined from the first movie... in fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the makeup in this movie that most people think of when they think of the Monster!


Perhaps part of the reason the makeup was so much more deluxe this time is that Karloff had a lot more screen time this time around.


The Bride's makeup, on the other hand, was quite a bit different. And I really should've saved some pics of the Bride to accompany this, eh? The hairstyle was reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. The face wasn't nearly as made up as Karloff had to endure, either... the Bride, despite the few stitches and scars you can see, was lovely to look at (I don't know if Elsa Lanchester had anything to say about how much makeup she had to endure, but it's possible).


Karloff's time in the makeup chair might've put a strain on him, but he certainly made it pay off for him. Anyone who has the mistaken idea that a monster doesn't require a great actor to portray it has never seen "The Bride of Frankenstein".


I suppose the phrase "tour de force" gets thrown out a lot when describing acting performances, but you know, I think it fits Karloff's performance here. You feel for the Monster throughout the movie, as he first makes a friend, and then seeks a bride (convinced to do so by Dr. Pretorius for his own purposes)... and then when he finally comes face to face with the woman who was, literally, made for him...


...and she's completely repulsed by him (yes, I know that's not the scene above). She hisses and screams. And the Monster, who can now speak (I don't believe he really speaks much for the rest of the Frankenstein saga, but I could be misremembering), lets us know he's aware of how she feels... and so, in his torment, he decides only one thing can be done.

He goes to the lever and grasps it, and is reminded that if he pulls that lever, they'll be blown to atoms (why did Doctor Frankenstein install a self-destruct lever? Perhaps after the first movie, he figured he needed some insurance in case the Monster becomes a menace again... either that, or he used the same architect hired by all the James Bond villains).

Quick aside -- as I type this, I'm watching Laugh-In, and Alan Sous is in a short bit playing the Frankenstein Monster! How's that for coincidence!

Anyway, the Monster says his immortal line... "We belong dead!" before throwing the lever, destroying the castle, and killing them all.

Well, everyone but the Monster, as we find out in "Son of Frankenstein" (or was it "Ghost of Frankenstein"?).


How DC Can Make Me a Happier Fan...

Well, over on, the "grumpy old fan" posted his list of five ways that DC could make him a happier fan.

Since I can be kind of a grumpy "old" fan myself, I figured I may as well weigh in with my own list... but I won't promise to limit it to five items!

1. TPB collections of All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. They can be Showcase Presents... volumes or color TPBs, I don't really have that huge a preference (save that color TPBs would leave room for Roy Thomas to write some forwards for 'em).

2. Continuing the Crisis on Multiple Earths TPBs. I think there are still some more JLA/JSA team-ups that haven't been reprinted, and I'd like to see the "team-ups" series continued, too (I'm thinking mostly of the 1970s and 1980s team-ups, in particular the Superman Vs. Shazam story that was done in a tabloid edition, as well as some of the DC Comics Presents stories).

3. Uncancelling Justice League Unlimited. Come on, you guys know I'll buy your new Super Friends book for my 3-year-old son, but I was loving your JLU book (more than the regular JLA book, to be honest!).

4. Resoliciting the un-solicited Showcase Presents... volumes immediately. I don't care how you do it.

5. Bring back the Krypto the Superdog kids title as an ongoing series, and don't worry about if the cartoon is still being shown or not. Or just go to TPBs only, in a digest size (you could probably help market these to the kids by enclosing a DVD with an episode or two on it, but that would mean cooperation between the various pieces of Time-Warner-AOL).

6. Do more stuff with your DC Kids website. There used to be downloadable coloring pages with the DC heroes and villains drawn in the Bruce Timm style, and they are no more! I would've been downloading and printing every one of these for my kid!

7. Produce a line of action figures based on the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series. And yes, there has to be a Batmobile, AND a Batcave playset. For fun, make two different Riddlers (Frank Gorshin and John Astin) as well as however many different Eggheads and Mr. Freeze's you need to. And yes, you have to have secret identity figures, as well as Commissioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara. And Alfred and Aunt Harriet.

8. Legion of Super-Pets DC Direct boxed set.

9. Make with the money and legal agreement to settle the whole Superboy issue, so you can produce Showcase Presents... Superboy volumes, and Warners can do a DVD of the Filmation Superboy series.

10. And finally, agreeing with Grumpy Old Fan, a moratorium on crossover events for at least five years.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jack Kirby Interview - Video

I think this YouTube video is from the Masters of Comic Book Art video series. It's introduced by Harlan Ellison. Enjoy!


Happy Birthday, Jack Kirby!

And I may be a day or so late on it, but so it goes.

Jack Kirby is, hands-down, my favorite comic book artist of all time. It's a no-brainer for me. Oh, certainly, there are many other comics artists whose work I love, and would definitely be in my top ten (like Ditko, Eisner, Gil Kane, Sal Buscema - Yes, I said Sal Buscema - and his more-acclaimed brother John, George Perez, Wally Wood, etc.), but Kirby is #1 in my book.

I'm pretty certain that the first Marvel comic book I ever read had his artwork, and was more likely than not either Fantastic Four or a reprint in Marvel's Greatest Comics. Thanks to Marvel's reprint books of the 70s, even though I passed on the Fourth World stuff when it first came out (just as I also passed on Eternals, Devil DInosaur, and 2001; later Machine Man), I was still plenty exposed to Kirby's comic book vision. There were other places I saw his stuff, too, especially in the 1980s, and during the five years I was in the Navy, where pretty much all my income was disposable income.

It was during that five-year period, probably about 1985 or 1986, that I went to my first San Diego Comic Con (my only SDCC so far, by the way), and, all-too-briefly, met the man.

Then, as well as now, there are so many things I wish I had been able to take the time to say to Jack. I'm sure that it wouldn't have been anything that he'd never heard before, but I still would've liked to have been able to say them. How much his work has meant to me. How, these days, working on newspaper ads, I try to use some of the graphic design lessons he "taught" me in his comics work to give ads a special "oomph" when needed.

I remember when I first heard that Jack had passed away. I had been in one of my all-too-common financial difficulty periods, and so I'd not only let my subscription to the Comics Buyers Guide lapse, but I wasn't getting on the internet at all, and hadn't been in a comics shop for quite some time. I was watching an episode of the Superman animated series, and it ended with a dedication to Jack that made me go, "What the hell?" because the tone of it certainly indicated that Jack was no more.

Jack Kirby was, and is, one of the true legends of comic books. It's great that he's starting to get the recognition he always deserved these days, but dammit, I would've liked to see him get that recognition 30 years ago... as well as the financial rewards that he also deserved. Anyone want to argue that he is just as responsible for Marvel Comics as much as Stan Lee is? I didn't think so.

Jack, we miss you... but I'm sure wherever your spirit is these days, you're continuing to dream your dreams.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This 'n That Tuesday!

Not that every Tuesday will be a this 'n' that day... just this time around, since there's a few things here and there I've been meaning to blog about.

Hulk: Grey

I checked out the TPB of this book from the library, since I've run out of Superman collections and other old-school comics TPBs that are available. I don't know if any of you have read it, but it's an enjoyable read, for the most part. Not as good as any of Peter David's Hulk stories, mind you (IMHO), but it was enjoyable.

So long as you don't worry about continuity, anyway.

The main story that's being told (aside from the framework of Banner talking to Doc Samson about it) is supposed to take place right after Bruce got bombarded by gamma rays, and turns into the Hulk for the first time. Except that we already saw what happened right after that, in Incredible Hulk #1. So this becomes revisionist history here, as the grey Hulk is portrayed more like the later green Hulk (especially circa early 1970s), at least personality-wise.

One of the biggest problems I had with the story, actually, was where the Hulk is holding a bunny, and pets it to death by accident. Hello??? You mean to tell me that the Hulk, strongest one there is, is capable of controlling his strength enough to pick up a bunny (as if a bunny is going to just let some seven-foot-tall grey being pick it up)... but when he's petting it with one finger he forgets his own strength, and crushes its widdle head?

I'm sorry, I have to call shenanigans on that.

Spider-Man: The Other

I read this TPB after Hulk: Grey, again courtesy of the local library. Peter David did, indeed, write part of this, but to be honest, I can barely tell which parts he wrote compared to the rest. Maybe that's a tribute to him, that he was able to seamlessly integrate his chapters with the other creators' chapters.

So, basically, in this story, some dude with a mad-on for Spidey comes back from the dead (a dude I've never heard of before, by the way), because he wants to kill Spidey. Also, Spidey (who's an Avenger by this point, living in Stark Towers, Aunt May knows he's Spider-Man, and Mary Jane asks Captain America for advice and stuff) apparently has some kind of cancer that was caused by the original irradiated spider-bite... although I don't believe it's ever really specified if it's a cancer or what... just that his malady is radiation-based.

Well, as weakened as Pete is, it doesn't take much for Morden (or whatever his name is) to beat the living crap out of Spidey, and...

Oh, hell, I may as well just come out and say it... this whole thing felt to me like someone got "Death of Superman" envy 15-20 years after the fact, and wanted to do the Death and Rebirth of Spider-Man, and then had to figure out how to do it. Or maybe they read somewhere about spiders supposedly being able to shed their skin once and be reborn in a way (I haven't looked this up to confirm if it's true or just some made up stuff), and figured, "Why don't we have Spider-Man do this, too?" There's also a lot of overthinking about what other kind of powers Spider-Man "should" have, if he's got all the powers of a spider.

It's all pretty convoluted stuff, and I'm sure the kids these days thought the whole thing was "kewl" (or whatever they say these days). I'm sure the stingers (that shoot out of his arms, right where the web-shooters are) were also thought to be extremely cool.

But you know what? That's not my Spider-Man. Thank goodness I can still read about adventures of my Spidey whenever I want, thanks to TPBs and the like.

Foster Parenting

If you don't read the blog Jessi and I write, "Building our Family," then you don't know that we're down to one child now, the three-year-old that we're going to be able to adopt (to be honest, though, I have no idea what the target date is for the adoption... I was originally told January, but Jessi's been saying December for a few weeks, and suddenly she's saying maybe November; I haven't a clue where she's getting this).

Anyway, the one-year-old is now with a family that's got much more parenting experience (even if the husband, who's in the army, is currently deployed overseas), and there's older kids who will be thrilled to play with him. Hopefully, this will indeed be the best thing for him.

Once we feel we've got a better handle on things with the three-year-old (and you know, I'll be glad when we adopt him so I can just write his name... we've been calling him "T3" on the parenting blog), then we can start getting him ready for the idea of being a big brother, and then we can look into finding him a little brother or little sister.

Secrets of Isis

Haven't watched any other episodes after the first one yet! Got the second Laugh-In DVD from the library, so need to watch that first!

Dollar Store DVDs

Halloween is nearing, and some items for that holiday are starting to appear at the Dollar Stores, but none of the cool stuff I told you about last year.

But there are some new DVDs popping up that I thought I'd let you know about...

Clutch Cargo (one of those bizarrely animated shows of the 1960s) is on one of the DVDs I picked up this past weekend, but the one I have is labeled "Vol. 5" -- and I've never seen volumes 1-4!

The second one I got was Tobor, the 8th Man & Friends Vol. 1. Tobor is one of the old Japanese black-and-white animated cartoons that got limited distribution in the States, from what I can tell. I have no idea what else is on it other than Tobor at this point!

Both these DVDs were manufactured by a company called EastWest DVD, and I'll be checking out their website next!


Today's Video: Mind Your Manners With Billy Quan!

Here's a video from YouTube that I was happy to find... I don't know for sure how long ago it was, probably more than 10 years ago, but Seattle's NBC affiliate KING-TV, used to have a half-hour comedy sketch show called "Almost Live!" that would air, typically, after Saturday Night Live each week. It ran for quite a while, and I found it hilarious. Some of the sketches were pretty regional in nature -- for example, there was a series of COPS parodies that took place in areas near Seattle, making fun of the cliches about those areas -- but for the most part, anyone could watch and enjoy them (some of the episodes were even run on Comedy Central a few years ago).

Among my favorite segments were Bill Nye, The Science Guy (this is where he got his TV break), Speed Walker (a superhero parody), The Worst Girlfriend in the World... and Mind Your Manners With Billy Quan, a parody of martial arts movies! And it's the latter that I'm sharing with you here:

That's host John Keister playing the bad guy in this segment, as he pretty much always did.

I'd love to see some "Best of Almost Live!" DVDs come out, but I'm not sure how big a market there'd be for them.


Monday, August 27, 2007

DC Comics June, 1969 Ads!

And now, a look at advertising that appeared in June, 1969 cover-dated DC comics:


This house ad here is fairly typical of the time... great lettering, about 1/3 of a page... this was a pretty popular ad size (I recall seeing non-house ads in this size, too), and I'd guess that the house ads ran if the space didn't sell.


Like I'd imagine most comics fans my age, when I was a kid, I found it very frustrating that there'd be these coupons for free rides at an amusement park that was nowhere near where I lived... and there were all kinds of these Palisades Park ads, weren't there?


This ad actually appeared above the Palisades Park ad... it's a nice example of how some advertisers used the comic strip format for their products. I don't know if Iverson is still around making bikes these days, though...


Another house ad here, but this one's a full page in size! One thing I've always wondered was how many advertising pages were considered a "must" to fill with paid ads, and how many were "gravy", so to speak, and if they weren't sold, they'd go with a house ad...


I've always liked this house ad... promoting the entire line, not any particular book. When I see ads like this, I always like to look and see how many of those titles are still being published!


Now, I'm not sure about the timing here, but this Aurora ad seems to be for a product that's designed to compete with Mattel's Hot Wheels! Aurora's racing toys usually tended to be slot cars and slot car sets, but these are definitely non-electrical, aren't they?

I don't know that I would've wanted this toy as a kid, though... unless I had lots of cars to "fire" before having to retrieve them all (because you know the first part lost would be the piece that's supposed to stop the cars at the end of the track!).

And yes, I was a Hot Wheels kid.


Oh My God...

Here's a video that I found on YouTube thanks to TV Squad...

Kind of takes "dumb blonde" to a whole new level, doesn't it?


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Foreign Comics Covers Sunday!

OK, so that's not anywhere euphonius enough, is it?

Here's a few more foreign Superman covers that had new art done for them:





If the above issue isn't featuring real Schaffenberger artwork, it's a dammed good copy of it!


And as for this one, I don't ever remember seeing Luthor wearing a turtleneck sweater, ever... but it sure looks like Swan's stuff, doesn't it?


This last one makes me think that, perhaps, the cover art is a blow-up of interior artwork. The guy with the instrument looks familiar to me, but I remember seeing him on a Nick Cardy cover, claiming that he could build a better Superman!


This last one is obviously Adams' original cover from "The Battle That Shook The Earth!", which I believe was the final (or nearly final) chapter of the sand-creature saga of the early 1970s.