Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cool Stuff: Monkeemobile Model!


Perhaps not as inherently cool as the Batmobile, I've always been fond of the Monkeemobile! I wish I still had my reissue model kit... I gave it to my sister-in-law for her birthday, as she's a huge Monkees fan!


This is an Emerald City Comic Con Report?

Well, today, wife Jessi, son Tristan, foster daughter D (9 months) and brother Jeff went with me to the Emerald City Comic Con... and even now, about six or so hours after leaving, I find myself feeling a bit disappointed in how the day went.

It's not the convention's fault, by any means -- it was pure circumstances. Perhaps it was a mistake to try to drag Jessi and the kids to such a big show; Jessi's gone with me there twice before, but this was our first time with two children. Tristan still doesn't really understand what's going on -- he's aware of comics and superheroes, but it hasn't clicked with him yet. Plus D is basically sort of "dead weight."

Anyway, I went there with two definite goals in mind (getting an original sketch of Superman and Krypto to frame and put up in Tristan's room, and buying Wil Wheaton's latest book and getting him to sign it), and a few goals that didn't involve spending money (saying hi to John Munn of Comic Book Ink and John Lustig of Last Kiss, plus meeting Andy Mangels in person, nearly a year after my last transcription work for him). I didn't really have it in my budget to buy much of anything for me, but I thought I might spend perhaps $20 or so if I found some nice deals.

Well... the non-monetary goals were easily met. I enjoyed talking to Andy face-to-face, finally, and he let me know how much he misses my working for him (family priorities have put that volume of work on hold; ironically, it's when I could use that extra money the most), and it's always a pleasure to chat with John and John. I also got a chance to meet Fat Momma from Who Wants To Be A Superhero's first season, as well as The Defuser from the second season (I got a photo with him, too -- the only photo I took in the con, and I'll get that posted in the next day or two). When we arrived, Wil Wheaton's line was way too long for us to stand in first thing, so I figured we'd wait a bit.

It was actually during my chat with Andy that Jessi inadvertantly spoiled one of my goals for me -- across the aisle was an artist selling prints of his paintings, and one of them was a beautiful print of Superman with Krypto. And while I appreciate her trying to help out, and while it was my money that was used to purchase it, I feel a bit cheated out of being able to find that for Tristan.

After taking a break for lunch (the convention center's food service was much, much better than I expected -- the food was good, and the prices were the best I've ever seen in any venue a convention was at), we wandered by Wil's table again, and were told he was supposed to be back in 15 to 20 minutes to put in a very brief appearance before his panel (he was on a lunch break). I'm not sure what happened, but he didn't make it back in that time, and nobody was available to sell his books, so I had to miss out on that entirely... and by that time (2 pm), the kids were both getting way too tired and cranky for us to stick around... so we headed home.

I found myself thinking on the long drive back to Olympia from Seattle that, perhaps, it would've been more enjoyable for me if I had just gone with brother Jeff, and let Jessi have a day with the kids by herself. She seems to think next time around will go better, because the kids will be a year older -- but we don't know if we'll still have D with us then.

Anyway, that's it for local conventions, more or less, until the next Portland comic show, which -- coincidentally enough -- will be on my next birthday! Tristan had gone with us to the last one we went to, and he seemed to handle that one okay, but again, I wonder if perhaps I should just consider asking to just have Jeff go with me. I suppose I have some time to think about it!

Oh, there will probably be one of Steve Minor's smaller comics shows at the Seattle Center, but those get so badly promoted, I'll be lucky to hear about it the day before they happen!

It did appear there were some good deals to be had, and the panels looked like they'd have been interesting to attend -- but like a lot of people, I'll have to wait for Comic Book Resources and other comics news sites to post what went down at the show!


Slideshow: Colorforms!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Movie of the Week: House of Frankenstein!


With House of Frankenstein, Universal Pictures finally joined all their major monsters (sans the Mummy) into one movie...


...well, it's really two movies, in my opinion.


Boris Karloff returns to the Frankenstein saga, this time playing Dr. Nieman, a surgeon who's been imprisoned as a result of his experiments. He escapes with his assistant, a hunchback named Daniel, whom Dr. Nieman has promised to cure his condition, giving him a new, more powerful body.


After their escape, Neiman and Daniel encounter a traveling horrors roadshow, and the two kill the proprietor and take his place!



This horror roadshow features as one of its main pieces the skeleton of Count Dracula, and after Neiman pulls the stake from the chest, Dracula is revived!


Nieman compels Dracula to help him get revenge on Hussman, who was responsible for Nieman being imprisoned, and Dracula does so by seducing Hussman's daughter!


Things go wrong, however, and when Nieman and Daniel flee Hussman's estate, Dracula tries to catch up to them in order to regain his coffin before sunrise, but Nieman betrays the Count, tossing the coffin aside as the wagon speeds along, which dooms the Count, who can't get to safety.


And that pretty much ends the first story in this movie. Dracula never actually meets up with the Frankenstein Monster or the Wolfman!

And now, the second part starts...


Nieman and Daniel run into a band of gypsies, and rescue a girl, Ilonka, who's being mistreated by them. Daniel falls hard for Ilonka, and she appears to care for him, despite his deformity. The trio continue traveling, and come to Castle Frankenstein, where they discover the Monster and the Wolfman frozen in ice, after the townspeople had flooded the castle in "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman."


Nieman thaws them out, and tells Larry Talbot (who reverts to human form after being thawed) that he can cure him of his lycanthropy, but in reality, he wants to revive the Monster to exact revenge on some former associates!


So, Daniel's been promised to be cured of his deformity, and now, Ilonka's falling for Larry! Even after Daniel tells her Larry's the Wolf Man, she still loves Talbot. And while this is going on, the Wolf Man kills a man, inciting the villagers (who weren't happy to see the horrors roadshow to begin with).




This really speed up the next night, as Niemann revives the Monster, and Talbot turns into the Wolf Man! Ilonka shoots the Wolfman with silver bullets, but she's killed while doing so.



This enrages Daniel, who blames Nieman and tries to choke him to death, but the Monster, apparently sensing Nieman was responsible for reviving him, throws Daniel out a window, and carries Nieman outside, where the villagers are already carrying torches and pitchforks.


The villagers set fire to the marsh brush, causing the monster to flee with Nieman, walking right into quicksand, which drowns both of them.

Honestly, I only have two real complaints about this movie... first of all, there's the whole lack of meeting between Dracula and the Monster & Wolf Man, which would be rectified in "House of Dracula" (itself an inferior movie to this one). And secondly, at the end of the movie, when the monster is carrying Nieman into the quicksand, it's way too obvious that Karloff was expecting to be able to come right out of the muck as soon as the director shouted "Cut!" -- but that is really a minor quibble.

The whole feature is very fast-paced, with nary a chance to catch one's breath. In many ways, it almost feels like someone took a movie serial and pared it down to one single movie!

Of course, of all the characters in this flick, only the monsters would go on to "House of Dracula," and later, "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein." And we'll cover the first of those next week!


Friday, May 09, 2008

Quasimodo's Monster Magazine, Part 4!

Next up in our review of Quasimodo's Monster Magazine #3 is "Lugosi, The Man and the Vampire," which starts on page 34!


This article is basically a summary of Artur Lennig's book, "The Count: The Life and Films of Bela (Dracula) Lugosi," published by Putnam.


It's a pretty in-depth article, which talks about Lugosi's start in acting... heck, the pages I've shown so far don't even get up to his start in movies!


Honestly, you'll probably learn as much about Lugosi here as you would reading the aforementioned book... and I suspect this is a much more complete and honest article than most monster magazines ever ran!


And as you can see, the article is profusely illustrated with photos and posters from Lugosi's movies!


The article covers his rise to fame playing Dracula, as well as the degeneration of his career and subsequent problems with drugs.


Now, I have nothing against monster mag articles that focus on the movies... heck, most of my favorite monster mags feature articles like that! But this particular feature really makes me respect the creators of Quasimodo's Monster Mag, because it would've been easy to gloss over the less savory aspects from Lugosi's career, and make it look like Lugosi's film career ended with "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," and not even hint at the later years, so well-portrayed in the movie "Ed Wood" by Martin Landau. It's recommended reading, so far as I'm concerned!

Next time around... monster posters, and an interview with Christopher Lee!

Cool Stuff: Potpourri! Well, some Potpourri, Mostly Major Matt Mason!

Here's a few miscellaneous items!


Check out this bootleg toy offering... Superman, two different Spider-Man figures, The Thing, and a Ninja Turtle! I understand packs like this are often found at swap meets and some Dollar Store-type stores, especially those in a Hispanic neighborhood... I never see this kind of stuff up here in Washington -- at least, not outside comics shows, anyway!


This was a bizarre couple of pieces to sell together... a Mighty Mouse game and a Wonder Woman slide puzzle! For some reason, I'm thinking there's not much of a crossover market for these items Maybe the seller thought they'd get the MM and WW collectors competing against each other?


Another unusual pairing... I remember seeing this Spider-Man game advertised in the comics, probably in the early 80s... but I don't remember ever seeing that Superman ball from Mattel before! I'm guessing it's some kind of Super Ball imitation.


A long time back, I posted scans from either a Sears or Montgomery Ward's catalog which showed some Billy Blastoff toys, which appeared to be akin to Major Matt Mason, but designed for younger kids. Above, you see the rocket ship from that toy line!


Here's a whole batch of Billy Blastoff toys! That one vehicle on the upper left definitely looks like a variation on a Major Matt Mason vehicle, doesn't it?


I don't know about you, but until I came across this, I had no idea there was a Major Matt Mason Big Little Book!


Here's Major Matt Mason's buddy, Doug Davis!

YEah, this potpourri post is turning into a Major Matt Mason toys post, isn't it?


I suspect I may have posted a photo of this Major Matt Mason knockoff toy before... and if so, here it is again!


This Moonsuit has got to be one of the oddest MMM accessories!


Is my memory faulty, or did Mattel reissue Scorpio later, in the 70s or 80s? Shown here is a custom box for Scorpio, in case it doesn't look like what you remember it looking like.


Hey, what's this Sea Devils toy doing in the middle of this?


It may be a bit squashed, but this Space Bubble toy was cool!


Personally, I think this Space Power Suit Pak is cooler than the Moon Suit!


It's probably a good thing that Mattel hasn't decided to reissue Major Matt Mason and all the accessories, because I don't think my budget would take it!


Probably the Holy Grail of MMM items is this Space Station playset!


This Space Travel Pak is pretty awesome, too!


Bought on eBay: Give-A-Show Projector Sets!

OK, I figure this is a good post for Give-A-Show Fridays, even if I've posted these pics before with the last checklist update! Here's a gallery of Give-A-Show Projectors I've bought on eBay that were in the box!


I'm really looking forward to getting into these 1970s sets, which will be full of shows based on cartoons that lasted one or two seasons!


As you can see, this box (the oldest one I have, I believe) is pretty beat up! One of these days, I will have to start upgrading my collection, y'know?

This is actually a set I'm either currently scanning, or just finished scanning.


Hmmm... now that I think of it, I think this all-Hanna-Barbera set is actually the oldest one I have.


Check this one out... not only does the box feature one of my favorite short-lived Hanna-Barbera series of all time, "Valley of the Dinosaurs," but as you can see, there was also a Star Trek show in here! Don't get your hopes up too high when we get to that one, though...


I wonder if "Lady, That's My Skull"'s Sleestak has this toy in his collection, Land of the Lost fan that he is? Amazing how often the package design changed on the Give-A-Show Projectors, isn't it? If I ever get around to designing 'fantasy boxes' for sets that I wish had been produced, I'll have to create templates for every different format they used.


Yeah, I'm jumping back and forth here... this is the "Adventure Time" set that I blogged about recently, that Dave of the "Children's Records and More" blog helped me out with by converting the 45s to MP3s! This may well be the next set of slides that I share, once the current set is done!


I won't get to the Six Million Dollar Man set for quite a while... every single one of the slides is a Steve Austin story, but instead of taking advantage of having 16 sets of 7 slides to tell some decent stories, every set has one single story! It would've been so much cooler if they'd done, say, four stories, each comprised of 28 slides.


Scooby-Dooby-Doo! I think there were actually two different sets that featured Scooby on them. This set also includes slides of Josie and the Pussy Cats in Outer Space, The Houndcats, and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan!

I don't recall that the Scooby story features Daphne in a bathing suit, though.


This set may well be the most awesome one that Kenner ever produced... Superman, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Thor, King Kong and Aquaman slides are included in this set! If I ever start working on those "fantasy boxes" I keep saying I'm going to do, I think the first ones will be super-heroes sets... one Marvel set, and one DC set.

Next up: Board Games!