Friday, December 12, 2014

Geek TV: Krypto the Superdog!

krypto animated 1Concept: The adventures of Superman's dog, Kevin (the earth boy Krypto lives with), Streaky the Super-Cat, Ace the Bat-Hound, and the entire Dog Star Patrol (based on the Space Canine Patrol Agents) in an animated series that may or may not be part of the bigger DC Animated Universe (see notes).

Total Episodes: 39 (two stories per episode)

Original Air Dates: March 25, 2005 - December 15, 2006

Original Network: Cartoon Network


Krypto (Samuel Vincent): Portrayed as a white Labrador Retriever, Krypto has all the powers that Superman does, although some are naturally heightened due to his being a dog (such as super-smell and super-hearing). When his rocket from Krypton landed on Earth, he was found by Kevin and taken in, where he poses as an ordinary dog until trouble looms, and he goes into action as Superdog!

Streaky (Brian Drummond): The cat next door, Streaky is owned by a girl named Andrea. He is an orange cat with a yellow streak on his back that resembles a lightning bolt, like his comic book counterpart. Streaky makes friends with Krypto immediately (all animals can talk to each other in this universe), and when a duplicator ray bounces off of Krypto and strikes Streaky, it gives him similar superpowers. Streaky doesn't take super-heroing as seriously as Krypto, and is much more oriented towards getting food.

Kevin Whitney (Alberto Ghisi): Krypto's earth owner (with permission from Superman). It's Kevin who convinces Krypto to take on the superheroic identity of Superdog, although at first he tries to disguise Krypto as Superman himself! Kevin can understand Krypto and the other animals thanks to a space communicator from Krypto's rocket that acts as a universal translator.

Mechanikat (Mark Oliver): The main antagonist of the series, Mechanikat is a cyborg intelligent cat from outer space who plans to conquer earth. He's usually defeated either by Krypto himself, or with the help of the Dog Star Patrol. He rarely takes action directly, but prefers to use others to do his dirty work, such as Snooky Wookums (Nicole Bouma), a kitten who uses his cuteness and smarts to cause trouble, and Delilah (Kathleen Barr), another feline agent of Mechanikat who is a master of technology.

Ace the Bathound (Scott McNeil): Batman's pet dog (although Ace insists he's Batman's partner), Ace is a Great Dane (he was a German shepherd in the comics) who uses detective skills as well as a utility collar and a personal flying Batwing. He considers Krypto an ally. His nemeses are the pets of Catwoman, the Joker, and the Penguin.

The Dog Star Patrol: A superpowered group of dogs, based on the Space Canine Patrol Agents from the comics, in which each member has their own unique power. The leader is Brainy Barker (Ellen Kennedy), who has telepathic and telekinetic powers. Other members are Mammoth Mutt (Kelly Sheridan) who has powers like Bouncing Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes; Bull Dog (Michael Dobson), a bulldog with bull-like horns; Paw Pooch (Dale Wilson), a basset hound with eight legs that can grow, and give him super-speed running; Tail Terrier (Peter Kelamis), a Scottish Terrier who can stretch his tail and use like a lasso; Tusky Husky (Terry Klassen): A Siberian Husky who has a giant front tooth that can be used like a drill; and Hot Dog (Trevor Deval), a Dachshund who can generate incredible heat and breathe fire.

The Villain's Pets: Most of the other villains on the show are the pets of super-villains. Ignatius (Scott McNeil) is the green Iguana belonging to Lex Luthor; Bud and Lou are a pair of spotted hyenas that belong to the Joker (although on Batman: The Animated Series they belonged to Harley Quinn); Isis (Kathleen Barr) a Siamese cat who belongs to Catwoman; and the Bad News Birds (Arte the Penguin, Griff the Vulture, and Waddles the Penguin) who belong to the Penguin. 

Geek Pedigree:

The series was directed by Scott Jeralds, who has had a fairly long career in TV animation. You might know his work from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Muppet Babies, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Fish Police, The Addams Family (1992), The Pirates of Dark Water, Static Shock and other shows, including brief stints on Superman: The Animated Series and the later Legion of Super-Heroes. Among the writers were: Alan Burnett, who wrote a lot of episodes of the previous DC animated shows, including Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond; Paul Dini, who of course worked on all those same wonderful shows and more; and Rich Fogel, who has similar credits.

The voice actors, naturally, had worked prior to the show. Sam Vincent voiced AFC Blinky in Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars, Forge on X-Men: Evolution, Edd on Ed, Edd, 'n Eddy, and later credits include voicing HERBIE, Peter Parker and the Trapster on Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, but he's done lots of other voice work as well as a few on-camera appearances. Brian Drummond previously voiced Vegeta and others on Dragonball Z, Venom on Spider-Man Unimited, as well as many, many other voice roles both before and after Krypto the Super-Dog. Scott McNeil was the voice of Piccolo on Dragonball Z, did a few voices on Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars!, Wolverine in X-Men: Evolution, and also many other voice roles before and since. Kathleen Barr's most geeky voice role prior to Krypto was probably voicing Dot Matrix on ReBoot. Trevor Devall had voiced Pyro on X-Men: Evolution. 

DVD Release: There have been two DVD releases of episodes, but a complete series set hasn't happened.

Website: seems to be the only site with a page dedicated to the show, and includes online games and more.

Notes: As indicated at the beginning, it's possible this show is intended, however tenuously, to be connected to the wider DC animated universe that began with Batman: The Animated Series and continued through to Justice League Unlimited and later direct-to-video movies. The reason I suggest this is that Superman, Lex Luthor, and Lois Lane (who all made at least single appearances on the show) are all more or less on-model with their Superman: The Animated Series versions... plus there's the fact that Bud and Lou as well as Isis had previously appeared on Batman: The Animated Series, although they were altered a bit for Krypto the Superdog. I enjoyed this show a lot, even if it was intended for younger viewers (gee, can you guess why I liked it?), and still have a lot of the toys that came out based on the show to this day.

Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown, Day 12!

And today, we're back to movie posters I'd love to have!
More after the jump!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Comic Reading Library: Barbie and Ken #2!

Yes, dipping back into that well again... at least it's appropriate to post a comic based on toys during the month of Christmas, right? And if you're not interested in perusing this, at least you still have today's installment of "Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown" to check out!

Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown, Day 11!

Today, it's all about the Megos! Yes, I'd love to have every single one of these wonderful toys in my collection (in some cases, for the second or third time)!
More after the jump!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Essays on Comics Characters: Popeye!

Hey, the title just says "comics" -- it doesn't differentiate between comic books and comic strips, right? Besides, the one-eyed sailor has been featured in comic books almost as long as he's been around!

Popeye was created by Elsie Segar originally as a "guest" character in Thimble Theater, his daily comic strip which featured Olive Oyl, her brother Castor (and the other Oyl family members) and a bunch of other oddball types. The plots were sort of parodies of melodramas of the day, and while the strip was popular, it was still missing an element.

And lo, there came a day when Castor needed to find a sailor for an adventure he and others were going on, and at the docks of Sweethaven, he found Popeye. Unnamed at first, and looking a bit different than we are accustomed to today, Popeye was asked if he was a sailor, to which he replied, "Ja think I'm a cowboy?"

To be fair, it was an appropriate response, given that he was dressed then, as now, in his sailor attire.

Obviously, the one-eyed sailor with a "face like a shipwreck" (as Olive herself described him once) must have been an immediate hit with Thimble Theater readers, as Segar brought him back, and he basically took over the strip, quickly becoming the central character. Think how Fonzie took over Happy Days, but even more so, and you'll get the idea.

Popeye proved to be a most versatile character. For someone who was a sailor, he didn't spend all his time out at sea. He could spend months on an adventure entirely landbound, such as when he helped a starving homeless girl out.

Popeye found himself surrounded with more oddball characters as time went on. Of course, there was J. Wellington Wimpy, who would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today (something he actually said more often in the cartoons than the comic strip... there he'd often invite someone over for a duck dinner... if they bring the duck; when confronted, he'd often claim his name was Jones, "One of the Jones boys"), and Alice the Goon, the Sea Hag (who appeared in a couple of long stories), Swee'pea, and many more. Sometimes characters would go years between appearances!

Much has been written about how the cartoons used spinach much more than the comic strip did. Certainly, the strip didn't have Popeye gulping down a can of spinach for instant power, like in the cartoons, but he certainly ate his fair share there (and he attributes his strength to it, as well)! Bill Blackbeard, in his essay on Popeye reprinted in All in Color for a Dime, attributes Popeye's near-indestructibility to rubbing the head of the Wiffle Hen for luck, and he's probably right there. But one can't discount the possibility of good DNA! His father, Poopdeck Pappy, was certainly spry, strong and tough for a man of his advanced years, so Popeye had to have had it in his genes to an extent.

To many people, Popeye is seen as a very violent character, and certainly, he commits a fair amount of violence in the strips, but more often than not, this violence is done to right a wrong he's seen. He doesn't make a habit of just beating on someone just for the heck of it, but if they deserve it, he'll smack him one! To be honest, most foes require just one punch.

As many of you probably already know, Bluto was never a main character in the original strips. He was used in one storyline that happened to be running when the first cartoons were being developed, so that's how he was chosen there.

The Fleischer cartoons didn't really make much use of the various characters... aside from Popeye, Olive, Wimpy, Swee'pea, and Pappy, nobody else really appeared (well, Eugene the Jeep did in a few of them). The later Paramount Popeyes used even fewer characters, obsessed as they seem to have become with Popeye's nephews (who were never in the comics). I seem to recall the later made for TV Popeyes did at least use the Sea Hag, but I haven't seen those since I was a kid.

Honestly, I don't know if the current Popeye comic has any new stories, or if they're all reprints (the Free Comic Book Day edition I saw reprinted some of the newspaper strips, and I seem to recall reading that the comic's reprinted some of the older comic books). You'd think with a Popeye CGI feature in development that new Popeye books would be coming, but we'll have to wait and see.

So, here's how I view Popeye and several of his supporting cast members:

Popeye is the toughest guy around, bar none. If he were crossing the street and a car happened to hit him, the car would be totaled while Popeye wouldn't be harmed at all. He defends the weak and helpless, especially those who are being taken advantage of by others. He will try to do things the right way, but if those efforts prove futile, he'll resort to using his great strength. He mangles the English language like nobody else, but is still quite understandable. Eats spinach for at least one meal a day.

Olive Oyl is Popeye's "sweet patootie," and he is devoted to her... possibly a little more than she's devoted to him. She can be insanely jealous, and often accompanies Popeye on his adventures, especially if she thinks there's a chance he'll meet a woman who will try to steal him away from her. As much as she acts like a damsel in distress, she can still hold her own in a fight, especially if it's against someone she thinks has harmed Popeye or her relationship with him. If she and Popeye disagree on something, she tends to get her way, to Popeye's eternal grief.

Wimpy is Popeye's best friend, although sometimes Popeye wonders why he considers Wimpy a friend. He's unreliable, and tends to let his stomach do the thinking for him. He's a con artist supreme, especially where food is involved. He can butter up even his worst enemy to the point where that enemy thinks of Wimpy as a friend... until Wimpy's cheated him out of something.

Swee'pea is Popeye's adopted child. He's a boy, and as tough as his adopted father. He's a lot smarter that most anyone gives him credit for (except for Popeye, who thinks Swee'pea is a genius, naturally). While he's usually portrayed as an infant, I wouldn't mind aging him a little bit, and getting him out of the nightgown and into some proper clothes, perhaps putting him into kindergarten. He's the only person who can get Popeye to see things his way easier than Olive.

Poopdeck Pappy is an ornery cuss who refuses to act his age. The way he behaves, you'd think he was a wild college boy instead of a man who's well over 100. He has very old-fashioned ideas about everything, especially women (who find him adorable... often getting engaged to him before Popeye sets things straight). He doesn't seem to stick with any one thing for very long, except for adventuring.

The Sea Hag is one wretched woman. She hates Popeye and his friends with a passion (especially Wimpy and Pappy, who each refused her affections). She has no fear of Popeye, even though she probably should. She likes to keep her plans mysterious, and often uses her magic to change her appearance to a beautiful woman. She probably still has a soft spot in her heart for Wimpy, the only man she's ever given a second chance to.

If new Popeye stories were to be produced, I'd love to see the whole cast from Thimble Theater brought in, from Roadhouse (who runs the burger joint Wimpy often goes to, especially when he has money) to Geezil (who hates Wimpy) to Alice the Goon, Toar, Eugene the Jeep, and everyone in between. While I liked Bobby London's approach to Popeye, I think that it missed the spirit of adventure that the original strips had. Popeye's a sailor, and he should go sailing on a regular basis, discovering new lands that don't appear on any map of the world. The beauty of Popeye is that his adventures can take place pretty much anywhere (and usually have), with about the only realms left for him to explore are the past (I'd love to see him cross over with Alley Oop, whose forearms and lower legs are similarly shaped to Popeye's), outer space, and even under water (did Popeye ever find a version of Atlantis? I know he's met up with a few mermaids, although he never romanced them like Pappy did). It would require a writer who can keep the humor going as well as the adventure, and an artist who can keep the cast looking like themselves, if not necessarily slavishly copying Segar's style (there were a few black and white Popeye books which featured Popeye looking not unlike Robin Williams' portrayal of him, and those didn't work for me).

Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown, Day 10!

And for Day 10, it's all about the board and other games I'd love to own!
These two Batman card games feature some neat art, which is a big reason I'd like to have them!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Feedback Requested!

Once again, it's that time when I ask you, my readers, about your thoughts concerning the Random Acts of Geekery. It's pretty simple: Just leave a comment, and let me know what features you read, what features you don't read, if there are any features that have been discontinued or put on hold you'd like to see returned, and any other comments in general that you'd like to leave.

Just as a reminder, here's the features I currently run:
Cool Stuff - Geeky toys, movie posters, and the like, all photos saved from past eBay auctions
Monster Stuff - Same as above, but with a monster/horror theme to them
Children's Book Theater - Scans of children's books of the past with licensed characters, usually superheroes or cartoons, sometimes including coloring and activity books
Monster Magazines - Complete scans of vintage monster/horror magazines
Comic Reading Library - Complete scans of vintage comic books believed to be in the public domain
Fandom Library - Complete scans of old magazines, fanzines and other publications of the past I believe may be of interest to you
Kirby Kovers - A gallery of comics covers by Jack "King" Kirby. When I run out of covers for this, it will be replaced by "Kane Kovers," with covers by Gil Kane
Covers Redux - Where I compare the original Marvel Comics cover with the book it was reprinted in
Julie Newmar Gallery - Photos of the gorgeous Julie Newmar, assuming I can still track down ones I haven't posted before
Sci-Fi Magazine Cover Gallery - Galleries of vintage sci-fi magazine covers, from what I've been selling on eBay (another feature that may run its course before too much longer)
Comic Book Ads - Vintage ads from comic books, currently focused on ads from Golden Age Fawcett titles, usually grouped by category
Ape of the Geek - Simians from TV, movies, cartoons and comics
Geek TV - A brief article about a geeky TV show, usually of the past, going over the cast members, writers, directors and so forth, looking for links with other shows
Puzzle Time - Pages from Marvel Fun & Games Magazine or other puzzle books
Geek Memories - My memoirs of my geeky history
My Characters - Essays on superheroes and supervillains I've created that I don't have an outlet for
Government Comics -  Scans of old comic books commissioned by government groups to provide information about a subject
Essays on Comics Characters - Where I go on a bit about the history of various comics characters, what I like about them, and how I feel they should be portrayed these days
Book and Record - Videos from YouTube created from old Book and Record sets, with audio
My Favorite Movies - Where I write about my favorite movies and why I like them

I think that covers the current crop. Some of the features I've discontinued or put on hold have been:

The Monkees - Episode by episode review of the classic series, with information on where the guests might've otherwise been seen in
The Beatles Animated Series - Episode by episode review of the cartoon series, pointing out where lyrics were presented wrong on-screen
The Fleischer Popeyes - Summaries of the classic Fleischer Popeye cartoons
The Indexible Hulk - A chronological review of the Incredible Hulk in the comics, with commentary
The Way of the Geek - Interviews with fellow geek bloggers (discontinued when I stopped getting responses from potential interviewees)
10 of a Kind - A list of 10 things in common, usually things I like
Trivia Time - A group of 10 related trivia questions drawn from my own knowledge
Comics They Never Made - Mocked up comics covers for licensed properties that never had their own comics in the USA.

There are probably others I've forgotten over time!

Monster Stuff!

This installment of Monster Stuff begins with a few Frankenstein iron-ons!

Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown, Day 8!

By this time, you know the drill, right? You're probably also thinking, "Man, if Jon did have the money, he'd need a veritable museum to store all this stuff he'd like!"
Here's two Spider-Man toys that I always thought needed to be combined together somehow to make a real web-shooter! The first is probably the closest anyone's ever going to get, being a wrist-mounted version of a dart gun, while the second was basically a glue-like substance you'd touch on one spot, and then to another, stringing a thread of stuff between them!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

This N That Time!

Time for another round-up of stuff!

ITEM! Of course, the holidays are here... and with the holidays comes added stress for me, both at home and at work. The home part is mostly when it comes to presents... every single year, I have no idea what to get my wife, Jessi. What makes things worse there is that her birthday comes up two weeks after Christmas, and then it feels like Valentine's Day is just around the corner from there, so I keep having to come up with ideas! At this point, I'm looking at getting her the seasons of Sherlock on DVD, with one season for each of those holidays... but of course, the kids need to have presents for her, as well. And then there's the kids themselves... while we have their presents from us, we don't know yet what they want from Santa... and of course, they always ask for those items that are nearly impossible to find in the stores by that point!

At work, it's a different story, as you can imagine. As you probably know, I work for a big retail store in the back room, and on the nights I work, my tasks are to first get all the items pulled from the back room that are needed on the sales floor, and then to get all the overstock stored in the back room so it'l be available to pick the next time it's needed. Unfortunately, as always happens this time of year, the moron in charge of ordering groceries goes way overboard in everything, and instead of ordering stuff as needed, they think they need to stockpile merchandise... and a lot of it is seasonal. We have so many cases of pumpkin, chicken broth, canned yams (or maybe they're sweet potatoes, the can says both, even though they're two different items), canned cranberry sauce, and of course, at least a few pallets of soup... most of which will significantly drop in demand after December 25th, and not all of which will sell by then, either. We must have about 50 pallets in the back room just sitting on the floor of all these grocery items, and every night, after our lunch break, I and the other back room associates try to get as much of this binned as possible... but there's just not enough time or space. We already lose a significant amount of time every night moving those pallets out of the back room so we have room to get to the picks, and then moving them all back at the end of the night, plus there's always some stupid thing that we're asked to do that doesn't help. Naturally, every night we're told we need to have a pallet reduction, and then we get more overstock coming back to us than we send out each night, because people are stupid and lazy. It's gotten to the point where I just try to do what I can do, despite the moronic decisions that get made, and hope that what I've done helps.

God, I'll be glad when this is all over for the year, and then we can get things back to what passes for normal around there.

ITEM! I've been trying to catch up on a few things here and there, such as movies. I finally got around to watching X-Men: First Class as well as X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I'd have to say that I liked them both. I'm not sure what the big problem is with most people not liking the first of those, because it worked for me. Perhaps it was the lack of the original cast members involved, but it does seem like they are trying to keep the franchise going, and the only way to do that is to get some fresh faces in there. I've watched most of Godzilla, but it's been in so many pieces here and there I feel like I need to just start at the beginning and watch it in one shot to really get a feel for it. Guardians of the Galaxy is still on my "to watch" list, as is Captain America: The Winter Soldier (we started watching the latter, but our DVD player refused to show anything past the halfway mark). I'm also trying to get caught up on TV shows. So far, I'm enjoying the current seasons of Arrow and Agents of SHIELD, as well as Avengers Assemble (still don't know why they had to start a new Avengers animated series, as this one isn't so different from Earth's Mightiest Heroes that they couldn't have just shifted to the set up for the current show). So far as new shows go, I love The Flash, but I'm still iffy on Gotham.

Other stuff I've been watching? Well, after doing a Geek TV post on Cowboy Bebop, I got inspired to watch that entire series, and I've also just finished watching Outlaw Star for the first time in a long time (expect that latter show to appear in a future Geek TV installment).

I'm still watching The Big Bang Theory, and enjoying it (I know it's had its detractors, but I'm definitely not one of them). This season's focus is a lot on Sheldon and Amy, although the other characters are getting their due as well. I'm not sure how much longer they'll be able to keep the show going and keep things fresh... I only hope they don't dip into the "Penny and Leonard break up again" well, because that's gotten old, and it would be nice to see them get married (I'm guessing that'll be a season finale, possibly with something happening that makes it look like it won't go off after all). I'm still waiting to see what will happen with Howard's mother on the show, since the actress who provided her voice has passed away. Will they recast the part? The actress who plays Bernadette certainly can do the voice pretty well, but there's also the possibility that they'll have Mrs. Wolowitz pass away, and have an episode with Howard dealing with that (maybe this will lead to Howard's father finally making an appearance on the show). And of course, there's the whole "What's Penny's last name?" mystery that has yet to be solved.

ITEM! In other news, son Tristan's diabetes continues to be a challenge for us. It's not fair, but I keep expecting that at age 11, he's going to remember to check his blood sugar before every meal, as well as to log that (as well as the carbs from his meals and the amount of insulin he needs to take to offset that) on the log sheets I print out for him. He is in what's called the "honeymoon stage" of his diabetes, where now that he's getting treated for it, his pancreas has decided to start working somewhat, and so instead of dealing with high blood sugar, we occasionally hit a low that's unexpected. In order to try to help us identify these lows (since Tristan's not always aware of how he's feeling and how it's related to the low blood sugar), we've been looking at getting him a Diabetes Awareness Dog, which would be trained to identify by scent when his blood sugar is low and alert us or someone nearby him. This is an expensive process -- getting a dog that's already trained costs about $25K, and even paying someone to train a dog that we've acquired still runs about $3-4K, plus the cost of the dog itself. Of course, there are certain breeds that can be used for this (boxers aren't one of them, unfortunately), and trying to find a breeder that's reputable but not too expensive is a challenge. We will continue to work towards this goal, as well as do what else we need to do in order to get a handle on this, so that Tristan won't feel like he's a victim here. It's a challenge.

Best of Cool Stuff Christmas Countdown, Day 7!

Today's post is all about the posters! Yes, these are the movie posters that, if I had the money to purchase them and the space to display them, I'd love to have in my home! Well, I'd also need the permission to have these all over the house, as I clearly don't have the space in my home office to display even a small portion of these!
ac meet frankenstein