Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trick or Treat

Ding Dong

Trick or Treat!

(Ok, no tricks, alright...)


Johnny Quest Documentary Part 2

Johnny Quest Documentary Part 3


Ding Dong

Trick or Treat!

(Is that the Flintstones?  Ok, no tricks tonight, okay?)


Forbidden Planet Documentary Part 2

Ding Dong

Trick or Treat!

(Spider-Man, Batman, Colonel Sanders??  Ok, no tricks, and be safe.)



(These kids these days.)
 
 



Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween reading - William Hodgson





William Hope Hodgson was a major influence for H.P. Lovecraft, and the greatest author of horror at sea.  He was a UK writer who ran away to sea in his youth and was deeply affected by his experiences aboard ship, never losing his fascination, reflected in all his poetry and most of his stories and essays, for the mysteries of the sea.  

His fantastic sea stories, the first was From the Tideless Sea, owe a debt to the traditions of the supernatural fiction, but he derived his horrific imagery mainly from the scientific imagination, most notably his, "The Voice in the Night"  (1907).   In it castaways are transformed by a fungus they have been obliged to eat, and also his "The Stone Ship" where a volcanic eruption brings many weird creatures with it.  

In his first novel, The Boats of the Glenn Carrig, a ship's crew is marooned on an island near a land of floating seaweed inhabited by bizarre and terrible lifeforms.  His second novel, The House on the Borderland, is a visionary fantasy in which a man living in a house which apparently co-exists in two worlds undertakes an allegorical spiritual odyssey through time and space, witnessing the destruction of the Solar System. 

The allegorical aspects of Hodgson's novels embodies a conviction that horrid evil forces move beneath the surface of reality, sometimes becoming vilely manifest in creatures such as the spirit which possesses the scientist.   

You can read his story, The Voice in the Night, here. 

Here's a PDF for his story, The Derelict.    Also here's a podcast of The Derelict.

Here's  PDF and audio for Out of the Storm. 

Here's House on the Borderland.    A lot of these audio books don't work for me as well as reading them myself, as I comprehend more or it's easier, but you might like to hear it.  There are some audio book versions, that are done bigger budget with full cast and sound effects, now those I can get into.  



Over the weekend, I watched the Sci-Fi movie, Snowpiercer,  directed by Korean director, Bong Joon-ho.  He also directed the monster movie, The Host, which is another good film, worth a rental. It was really good.  I won't say much about it, as you can experience it for yourself if you rent the film. I will say it's a dystopian allegory taken from a French graphic novel on the social classes, and totalitarian governments.  Plus it has John Hurt in it, woo hoo, I've always enjoyed him in films.  Also the main actor in the film (the guy holding the axe above is Chris Evans--he plays Captain America in the Marvel/Disney films).  I didn't even know it was him until the bonus features brought it to light.   If you like, you can just watch it as an adventure, action tale too, and it works that way as well.  Yes, you have to suspend your imagination somewhat.  I've read a lot of viewers criticize it saying, how could this and that such happen?  Well, if it's an allegory it's easier to swallow for those reasons, but I'd also add:  How does Godzilla happen or Transformers, or a lot of other SF or fiction in general?   You just have to go with the narrative.  

Also I thought the Bonus Features on this one are worth checking out as they do shed light on many facets of the film, and add to the overall experience of the film--but watch them after you have seen the movie. 

 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Constantine


Did you catch NBC's premiere of Constantine last night?  It aired at 9pm here, in the central time zone. I liked it a lot of all the current comic-to-tv series spinoffs I've seen lately, which included, the CW's Arrow, Fox's Gotham (more or less the early days of Batman as a boy), CW's The Flash,  which is watchable, but doesn't exactly hit the sweet spot for me, and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (which for me is pretty mediocre).   Ok, I guess I should mention AMC's The Walking Dead, which I still enjoy. 

John Constantine  first appeared in the comic, The Saga of the Swamp Thing written by, Alan Moore, more or less in a cameo and later, due to the popularity of the character, part of the cast   Not much is known about him, other than he has mystical origins, he had a cruel wit and elusive personality, and that's about it.  Later, he got his own title on the Vertigo imprint of DC, called Hellblazer written by Jamie Delano, and art by John Ridgway and Alfredo Alcala.   He became more of an insouciant, somewhat amoral occult-dabbler and psychic detective, with a British working-class background.


I'll go out on a limb here though, and say Constantine will be a hit series, IF they can continue with  good storytelling, and yes, it already hooked my attention that well.  For starters, the actor that they've gotten to play John Constantine, energetically played by Welsh-born Matt Ryan, so fits the mold of the character from the comic much better than Keanu Reeves wooden approach to the character, in the movie version. (Just my opinion here.  I know a lot of people that enjoyed that movie, but I was disappointed.)  Constantine is a self-described exorcist beset by demons both within and without him.  The first episode opens in a Northern England sanitarium, as he is undergoing shock treatment. This doesn’t seem to help, causing him to blow up at his therapist before he subdues a possessed young woman who’s painting a bloody masterpiece amid thousands of creepy crawlies.

He's troubled which the episode hints at, which involves him loosing a young girl, Astra,  to the dark forces of hell, which haunts him.  He's brash, and people that have known him in his past  react to him with a certain amount of intimidation.   In the first episode, he is called to help a young woman, Liv, whom is targeted by diabolical forces that want her dead.  You see, Liv, whose late father, Jasper, was a fellow demon-chaser as well and mentor to Constantine, has left her with the same power to “see the world for what it really is.” Which is why the evildoers want her dead. Which means that Constantine must use her as “bait.” 

What I like about the series setup is that we are introduced to several characters from John's past.  We don't quite know the connection or the history of them, but you figure  that we'll find out more history on them as the story unfolds.  All sorts of stuff starts to happen to Liv before Constantine meets up with her, and when they do meet, even more evil things starts to occur.  She later figures out, there's is more to this world than meets the eye - there are parallel planes of existence, ghost trapped on our world hoping to get on to the next world, demons, unexplained phenomena, and she has inherited a powerful sixth sense from her father that she didn't know she had, and is just beginning to grapple with it. 

There seems to be a longer story arc, wherein we'll learn more about other characters, and I suspect at some point, Constantine will rescue the young girl, Asha, from her torment in the dark realm.  It seems like the setup is similar to the X-Files, in that there's short stories or episodes each week, but a long story arc for the season.  At any rate, I liked it a lot, and it's in a perfect time slot on Fridays. 

Oh, and the first episode does have a conclusion where Constantine does help Liv, but I don't want to spoil that for you.  Paired with NBC’s like-minded Grimm on Friday nights, Constantine doubles down on both shape-shifting and puzzlements. Its whiz-bang-boom special effects also might serve as ample enticement.

Constantine make you this pledge:  “I’ll drive your demons away. Kick ‘em in the bollocks and spit on ‘em when they’re down. Leavin’ only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack.” 

 





Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Solarnauts


 I'm going to dash something off today on ye ole blog as I have a few other things I need to do today.  I re-watched Blood, Boobs, and Beast last night, the documentary on Don Dohler, which I posted about earlier on this blog,  as the first time I saw it I dozed a bit, not because it is by any means a boring documentary, quite the contrary I find it pretty absorbing.  But the first time I watched it, I had eaten some warm soup, and that will make me drowsier than greased lightning.  At any rate, if you are interested in film making, amateur films, or making films on a shoestring budget, you need to watch that.  It's actually quite poignant in certain areas of the film.  Glad I found it on Youtube.

I ran across another thing today that I'll share, but have yet to watch.  I've never had heard of before.  It is Solarnauts.  The British show was created by Roberta Leigh, and I've culled this info off Wikipedia.
 
Roberta Leigh is an assumed name for Janey Scott Lewin (born 1927 in London, England), a British author, artist and television producer. She wrote romance fiction and children's stories as Roberta Leigh, Rachel Lindsay, Janey Scott, Roumelia Lane and Rozella Lake.  She published her first novel in 1950 and is still actively creating new titles. She created the puppet television series Sara and Hoppity,  Torchy and the Battery Boy,  Wonder Boy and Tiger,  and Send for Dithers.   She created, wrote and produced a children's fiction series about space; titled Space Patrol (Planet Patrol here in the States), which chronicled the adventures of Captain Larry Dart aboard his spaceship Galasphere 347. This was followed by Paul Starr (1964) and a live-action color space adventure series, The Solarnauts (1967). For these two later series, however, only the pilot episodes were filmed.

Though made in 1964, Paul Starr appeared to be a decade ahead of Space Patrol. A 25-minute marionette puppet series in the same vein as Space Patrol, it was produced in color. Agent Paul Starr and his crewman, Lightning, work for Space Bureau Investigation (SBI). They have a squat rocket, SBI-5, which can travel through space, in air and underwater (SBI uses an undersea base). While jets propel the craft through the air, in space it is powered by "solar energy". It is armed with various weapons, including nuclear missiles. The robots of Paul Starr appear more developed and fans of Space Patrol will notice the similar sound effects used. The movements of the puppet characters are "less wooden" and there is no sign of strings.

(I'll interject here, that if you're a fan of Gerry Anderson, and this sounds like it shares some kinship to some of his projects, it did to me as well, which was one of the attractions.)

The puppets were made by Martin and Heather Granger who, with Joan Garrick, also operated them. Realistic mouth movements were used long before the arrival of Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks in the 1980s. Actor Edward Bishop provided the voice of Paul Starr; other voices were provided by Patricia English, Dick Vosburgh and Peter Reeves. Besides creating and scripting the series, Leigh also wrote the title song and lyrics (sung by Jerry Dane). Arthur Provis served as director of photography and co-producer.

In this adventure, Starr's boss sends him to Mars where five atomic power stations (used to pump water) have been destroyed by fire. Starr and Lightning work as security guards to try to uncover the cause. The chief suspect is General Darynx. The Martians are shown as non-human fish people.

The Solarnauts was a live-action space adventure TV series, produced in 1967. Like Paul Starr, its filmed material survives.

I thought if you were a SF fan and like-minded you may want to check it out as well.


Below is the pilot for Paul Starr (1964), which is very much in the mold of some of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, Supercar, etc.




 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Automata (no spoilers)


 (I'll try and not drop any spoilers here, but will talk about some of the plot and such, so if that bothers you, you might want to read it after you've seen the movie.)

Automata is a SF noir film starring Antonio Banderas as Jacq,  Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffiths, Robert Forster, and others. It's set in a dystopian future where mankind has lost a large amount of its population, and basically ruined the environment of the  planet, which now, basically lays in a desert waste, except for a few populated areas.  A lot of people are going to compare this to Bladerunner or maybe even Mad Max in the second half or maybe even I, Robot, which may frustrate them even more. The thing about Automata is that it's a bit all over the place with its SF tropes, but that didn't bother me.

I can't say the movie didn't frustrate me a little bit, however I can still give it a thumbs up (maybe not both thumbs) if you enjoy SF and aren't too critical.  It was shot and acted well, and held my interest throughout, but in the end left me scratching my head a bit.  There were a lot of things in it that made me question the director's motivation on certain details like why would a robot have boobs?  I know it's a sexbot in the film and probably used to differentiate between the male and female robots, but just seemed odd--why would robots need a gender? But that's small details.

Automata is basically similar to Bladerunner somewhat in style though not done as well.  But also in that they are SF detective fiction, in that it follows Jacq, an insurance investigator, who is assigned to track a robot that murdered a dog.  These robots have the same protocols similar to the Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, but in this film, there's just two:  they cannot harm any form of life and they can neither repair themselves nor alter another robot in any fashion.

So Jacq (Banderas) starts tracking this robot that has killed a dog. The death of the dog suggest that the second protocol has been breached.  So like Bladerunner and the movie, Soylent Green, there appears more beneath the surface with office politics, lethal corporations cover-ups, and so forth. Jacq's trail leads him to a pleasure robot, Cleo, and Melanie Griffith's character.  It appears that Cleo is trying to break protocol and not taking orders, being a stubborn robot. 

Eventually Jacq is taken prisoner by the robots, and taken out in the desert wasteland.  This is all leading to uncovering the mystery or does it?  The premises hinges on A.I. and robots becoming self aware, and overcoming their protocols of robotics.  Was there an allegory here?  Probably, but I must admit I missed it.  I enjoyed the journey of the story, but left me scratching my head--what was this movie trying to say? A lot of SF uses allegories in their stories to address other problems, but I wasn't really sure what the movie was aiming at: fear of technology or science, ecological, freedom in general for the robots too?  Maybe a little bit of all of that.  I also didn't quite understand what the robots wanted to gain out in the desert.  Yes, there was one reveal there in the desert, but they seemed to have other motives that weren't addressed, something they seemed to want to build on a grander scale (or maybe I'm reading more into the film than what was there).

So I got up the next day and checked around on the web, and I guess I get it now, but it wasn't clearly brought out in the film ie. technology overcoming mankind, free will, etc.  At any rate, the ending was a little bit unsatisfying for me, while others may think the whole film is a waste of time.  Personally,  I enjoyed it for what it was: a SF noir unraveling a mystery that kept me thinking where it was going.  It wasn't a prefect film, but at least gave me something to think about, which is more than a lot of SF these days, and the effects were done pretty well.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Death of the Valiant

Death of the Valiant is a short fan-made animated film based on the Star Trek universe as far as I can tell.  I don't know anything beyond what's presented on Youtube, but I thought it was pretty interesting and well made.




The Greatest Comics

Ever so often I run across other stories, articles, and such on the web that I have to share.  I've always been a list person, and  like to see what other people think are the "Best of" something, whether it be top  movies, TV shows, comics, books, SF films, music albums, the top Dr. Who episodes of all time, or the top Star Trek episodes, heck, I'd probably be interested to knowing what the Top 10 tooth paste are if it was on the web somewhere.  So I recently ran across some "Best of" list on comics that were over at the Comicbookresources.com site where they polled their readers on what they thought were the top stories of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, and a few other related list, like the Top list of X-Men related family stories, ie. Wolverine, or team-up books, New Mutants, and so forth.

Here's a link to the Top 3 Batman books.  I don't think The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller would be a big surprise to anyone is on the list that has read or followed Batman for very long, or The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, or Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli or the Arkham Asylum graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.   Those were all pretty big books, fairly contemporary, and have remained fan favorites for a while now. 

Shortly after I'd started reading comics again around 1985, Miller's The Dark Knight Returns came out and it was a big splash, and there was a fairly big media frenzy over it.  Shortly after that in 1989, Tim Burton's Batman film came out with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and it was a pretty big hit at the box office as well, so Batman became a pretty hot franchise.  The toy market made a lot off of the Batman franchise, as did the people that make T-shirts, and whatever spinoff items were produced at the time.  As one might expect publishers got wind of the fan hysteria and made more Batman books.  There were collected reprint books of older Batman stories, team-up with other off-the-wall characters like Batman and Grendel (which was actually pretty good), Judge Dredd, the British character, and Spawn.  There were Elsewhere books, which is sort of alternate story tales, like what if Batman met Dracula, or Sherlock Holmes, and that sort of thing.  Some of those were pretty good too.  But they kept churning out more and more titles like Shadow of the Batman, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman one-shot books and mini series as well, so many in fact that it actually had an adverse effect on me, I got pretty Batman burned-out pretty early on.  I felt we were getting a little bit too inundated with Batman stuff, until, well, the next big thing came along.

The same thing is true for the X-Men books in the 90's.  I'm not sure what instigated that frenzy, maybe it was the X-Men cartoons at the time, or the Wolverine character was a hot title, or that the X-Men books were always pretty hot, as it was a bit before the actually X-Men movies came out.  But within the comic market, more is more, so they created more X-Men titles, spinoff books, and created more mutant characters, of course, not all of it good, and they over-saturated the market. 

Back to the list though, I was surprised by the Number 3 Batman entry, however, as I had never heard of it. There must have been some diehard fans that entered their poll questionnaire.  It's called, “The Career of Batman Jones” (Batman #108),  and they have a bit of the storyline up on the site for you to read, which is pretty cool.

At any rate, here's a link to the full 75 Greatest Batman Stories.   


Not only do they have the 75 Greatest Batman Stories of All-Time, but also the 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time.  

I don't know if the same scenario existed when the Christopher Reeves' Superman movie came out in 1978.  I suspect there was, just on a lesser scale.  I wasn't reading comics at that point in time, but I remember the movie did pretty well at the box office and with fans.  In the West Texas town I was living in at the time, we didn't have any specialty comic stores, so about the only way you could purchase a comic was still at a convenience store. It was also before everyone had a personal computer and web access, so the success of the movie was basically word of mouth, and just whatever media source you ran across at the time.

I figured that the Alan Moore story of Superman, For the Man who has Everything from Superman Annual #11, would make it on the list, and probably a Mr. Mxyztplk story, and a Bizarro story.  Also the above storyline, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross is a great story as well.

 Also I figured the Death of Superman would be on the list  as well (which was the one that stirred the media frenzy as I recall).  The storyline led up to a confrontation with a villain called Doomsday, and the newspapers at the time published small articles about the storyline.  The final issue in which Superman gets killed, Superman #75, came bagged in a black plastic bag, known as the Memorial issue with some miscellaneous items inside like a poster, a card, some stamps, and a black armband, etc.  Some comic shops would only let you purchase so many issues or they would allow you to  purchase one, and then have to buy the others at a marked-up price (or some nonsense).   It was just a way the shops could gouge their loyal customers or speculators, dim enough to fall for the marketing scheme.  At any rate, I had a friend working in a comic shop at the time, and he told me a tale about how some comic dork comes walking in his shop around that time wearing one of the black armbands from the "black Memorial issue" and buys more copies of the issue.  His story makes me smile even today.  Ah, memories...

At any rate, there's also the 50 Greatest X-Men and Spinoff Stories.  

As well as 50 Greatest Spider-Man Stories.  

So go take a look if you are so inclined.  




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blood, Boobs & Beast!

I feel like I should have one of Johnny Carson's characters, The Great Carnac,  respond here:  "What will the new Troma film be about?"  That's about the best I can come up with for now. 

I ran into this documentary, Blood, Boobs & Beast! on Don Dohler who was associated with Troma films, and I guess the title says it all.  Their lowbrow films have a certain cult status.  I can't say I'm a huge fan or care too much for a diet of such fare, but they have their place. I watched the Toxic Avenger way back when they were popular on HBO or on one of the other paid cable networks.  They were fun and goofy, and just something out of the ordinary.  I haven't watched this entire film yet, but have saved it on my YT to watch later.

Blood, Boobs & Beast! from what I have found is the life story on Don Dohler, whose low budget science fiction and horror films have been called everything from "oddly brilliant" to "some of the worse films of all time."  (Remind you of anyone?)  Following Dohler through the last few years of his life while he was making his last film "Dead Hunt."  It also mentions his underground comix character ProJunior (sort of like Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman) and his film making how-to magazine, Cinemagic.  It also features several interviews about him and his work by other people in the film and comix community.   easttthh

At any rate, with Troma you knew you weren't watching anything trying to aspire to high art, it was just campy fun, escapism, and I always suspected they were inspired by directors like: Roger Cormen, Ed Wood Jr., and others like that.  At any rate, they carved out a niche for themselves, and I don't expect their films to appeal to everyone, but they are what they are.  At any rate, I found this documentary on Dohler, and thought I'd post it here.  Some of the movies he directed were The Alien Factor, the sequel, Nightbeast, The Galaxy Invader (also parodied by the RiffTrax crew), Fiend, and others.


Also I found some of his film magazines, Cinemagic, over on the Internet Archive site if you are interested in reading or downloading them. Once you get to the Archive site scroll down to get to them.  I barely looked at them, but they looked like they'd have some interesting articles in them if you're interested in special effects, movies, and behind-the-scene stuff.  Here's a link for that. 

While on the subject of films, I ran across this site that had free movie scripts to read.  It's over at SimplyScripts.com  so check the link to that.  There are a lot of scripts over there to peruse. 

Tell Me a Scary Story



Monday, October 13, 2014

More comics and nostalgia

Woke up early this morning early because the skies let loose a big gullywasher.  This is the second day for a big rain storm, as it rained yesterday a great deal as well, so the ground is pretty saturated at this point.  But as long as we don't experience any flooding, I'm fine with it.   I live up on elevated land, so I should have too much to worry about, but you never know. 

When I finally did get out of bed, I browsed on the computer a bit.  I generally check in over at Chuck's site (comicoftheday.blogspot.com) on comics, which is here.    He reviews a new comic he read recently, unless it's Thursdays, I believe, where he post a review on an older classic issue. I don't keep up with comics the same way I used to, they are just too darn expensive, and I don't have the storage space for them either.  However, I still enjoy keeping up with them somewhat and I'll buy something occasionally as well.  I don't buy very much though, and when I do prefer to pick it up in a collection of some sort.  I don't buy very many monthlies though, unless I run into a great bargain box full or find some used comics in a used bookstore or somewhere like that.

Anyway, I'm doing laundry now, and I'm fixing to set my VCR for the  Fox Channel's Gotham series.  I'm still a bit on the fence of whether or not I'm a fan of this show, though I keep watching it, so I guess you could say I think it's watchable.  For the past Monday nights for as long as I can remember though, my default program is The Antique Roadshow on PBS, which is why I have to set up the VCR, although I see for the past couple of weeks they've re-aired Gotham on Friday.  I don't know how much longer that will last, but works for me too.  Between Arrow, Gotham, and Flash,  so far I enjoy the Flash best, but it's still a bit too early to tell.  I haven't been that keen on the CW's Arrow, but I'm making an attempt to give it more attention this season and see if it clicks.

At any rate, staying with the nostalgia, comic book theme I ran into this podcast with these two guys.  They talk about buying comics in their youth and a lot of other topics, but you might want to listen to their podcast.  I downloaded it so I can listen to it again later. 


Episode 10 MitchMan meets MatMan - The Greatest Podcast Team-Up EVER

Sunday, October 12, 2014

X-Men

The X-Men have been around for ages.  I didn't know anything about the comic book related team until around the mid-80's when I met a guy that was a big fan of the book.  I think he may have been collecting them somewhere around the 70's, and also followed other Marvel titles.  He'd read the Dark Phoenix saga way before it became popular with the mainstream comic buyer.  So I got a quick introduction to the team through him. 

There's a new movie out about the super heroes called Days of Future Past, which I haven't seen, but judging from the critical and fan response it should be pretty good.  Once it makes it to DVD I'll certainly give it a shot.  While on the subject talking about super heroes on film (at least the small screen), did you catch The Flash on the CW channel last week?   I thought it was pretty decent.  It's been a while since I've read any Flash comic books, so I couldn't tell you very much how they've changed up that cannon, other than Iris West, is played by a black actress.  That's neither here nor there, just that the last time I read the Flash, ages ago, Iris was Caucasian, and I don't even remember if they were married.   Overall though, I thought it captured the essence of the Flash, and I could appreciate the added special effects, and that it fits firmly inside the super hero universe--something that Marvel's Agents of SHIELD lacks.   I've also enjoyed watching Gotham, the prequel, more or less of the Batman universe.   Anyway, I digress.

So with the new movie coming out on DVD I was interested in reading something about the X-Men, and just randomly picked something from their classic era.  I ended up reading Classic X-Men #10.  I like these reprints, as they are in color, and have a new cover on the front, but also give you the original cover inside the book as well, along with some extra pin-ups, and contain an additional new short story inside the book as well as a back up story.  By the way, it's hard to beat the teaming of Chris Claremont with either John Byrne or Dave Cockrum as artist.   I tend to favor Cockrum, maybe by only a half star or so, because I think both are great artist with strengths, but I tend to find that Byrne draws facial features a bit too much the same, whereas Cockrum can differentiate them a bit more.  Cockrum is great with action poses and  sequences as well.  But like I said, I can appreciate and respect them both.

 Classic X-Men #10 also integrates about 3 new pages into the reprint of Uncanny X-Men 102. "Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?" Script by Chris Claremont, new pencils by John Romita, reprint pencils by Dave Cockrum, new and reprint inks by Sam Grainger. It also contains a New Wolverine back-up story: "Tag, Sucker." Script by Claremont, art by John Bolton. (John Bolton was never on the regular X-Men titles, but I've always enjoyed his art work, and found when he did a back-up story, a special treat.)  New Arthur Adams illustration; new Adams/Terry Austin front cover; new John Bolton back cover. Cover price $1.00.  What?  $1.00?  All that for a buck?  Yes, hard to believe at the prices of comics these days.  Granted it's on pulp newsprint, and not on slick paper, but that doesn't bother me one iota.  At any rate, if you run across any of these in a used bin or used book store or wherever, pick them up, as they are worth the price of admission, and contain some of the classic tales as the cover implies.

One of the things about the X-Men group, is that the team has gotten so dang big, it can be overwhelming for a novice comic reader or fan.  So where to begin?  You've got Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, All-New X-Men, Astonishing X-Men.  You have the early years with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the revamped team, and then once they got popular, they had new teams like The New Mutants, X-Factor, solo adventures and titles, team-ups between characters, etc.  To give you some idea check out the info graphic below, and I don't think that covers all the mutants.

Hopefully you'll be able to enlarge this graphic.  Actually I think it would have worked better had the artist made better depictions of the characters.  It would be nice to see it done in styles akin to some of the classic artist that have worked on the book throughout the ages as well.  However, with the info graphic above the art is hard to distinguish between who is who.  Below is a legend for the above.
Hopefully the legend will enlarge as well, so you can see a who is who.  It starts out with Professor Xavier and Magneto at the top, and then the second tier, begins the silver age team: Angel, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, and Ice Man, and so on.

As long as I'm on the topic of the X-Men, I wanted to include a couple of printed interviews that I found on the web with Dave Cockrum, one of X-Men's artist.  He passed away a few years ago, but I considered his art to be identifiable or definitive to that book.   Both interviews seem to come from TwoMorrow publishers, but are two separate interviews.  One is a straight interview, and easier to read, and the second contains some of his art work, but the printed part of the interview won't enlarge (at least on my computer, which I found a bit frustrating), but I think it's worthwhile to squint and read it, if you're a fan of Cockrum. 

Link to interview Number One. 

With this second Cockrum interview, you'll probably have to scroll down past a few pictures, which have been added to the blog where the interview is found.  It's found on thedorkreview.blogspot.com to get to the article, but I think it's worth checking out.  Link to interview Number Two.  

If you aren't burned on the X-Men yet, there's also a podcast devoted to the X-Men.  One of the things I enjoy about the previously posted Superman podcast is that it's generational or family friendly ie. no offensive language at least from what I've listened to.  However, that's not true with the X-Men podcast.  They don't overuse profanity, but they use some, so be advised.  Why bloggers  or podcasters resort to limit their audience in that  manner is beyond me.  I know people talk like that in high school and younger and real life as well, but if I had a kid, I would try and steer them clear of such.  Oh well, that said, you might want to give it a listen.   The X-Men podcast can be found here. 


 







Friday, October 03, 2014

Just for fun

 When I was a kid growing up one of my favorite pastimes was making models.  I had a friend that lived adjacent to our house, and he built them and got me into them.   I started out making plastic planes and cars, and gradually, when they came out, built some of the Universal monster kits, like Dracula, Wolfman, and so forth.  For some reason, I don't think my mom liked those very much.  She also had a disdain for me reading Mad magazine.  I also, once they came out, built some of the Big Daddy Roth models, and spinoff type models like Rat Fink, the Werid-O models, and so forth.  I don't think she like them either.  When we moved from East Texas to West Texas the models were one of the things that had to go.  I have to hand it to my parents, however, they got rid of them discreetly, and I never knew they were missing until many years later.  And to tell you the truth, by the time we had moved, my interest had switched pretty much to music.  I wish I had kept up with buying a few comics back then as well, but for whatever reason, that wasn't within my area of awareness at the time either.

If you are a comic or more specifically a Superman fan, you should check out the podcast called thesupermanfanpodcast.blogspot.com  They have podcast-a-plenty on the Man of Steel, and can be pretty fun to listen to from time to time.
Here's a quick link, if you are interested. 

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Whack a Mole or Bee

It's been a bit slow around here, and that's fine.  I get involved in one thing or another, and have to drop that and do something else.  I guess life is like that.  I was out walking around my property in the front yard yesterday, and noticed that it looked like some wild animal or perhaps a dog had been digging around in an area of my yard that is an offset island from my main yard.  There are some bushes and greenery in it, but there's also a nice purple crepe myrtle tree there that I don't want destroyed, so I investigated it further.  I noticed though when looking into one of the deeper holes there were bees inside the hole,  so I don't know if they dug the hole (I can't imagine that) or a wild animal did and they decided to make a home there.  Either way, sort of a pisser, but I guess that's life.  As my dad used to say, there's always something.  I tried spraying some hornet's nest killer into their colony, and was ready to run in case they turned out to be some sort of aggressive bee, however, I'm not so sure that that's going to do the trick entirely.  I got up today and turned on the sprinkler system to the island as I read they do not like moisture, hoping that that might encourage them to find a better home and move on as well.  But once some of these bees and wasp find a home they can be hard to get rid of, so I'll just have to monitor their activity over the next few days, and hopefully they'll move on. 

I watched Xtro last night, which I found on Youtube.  I remember the cover of it back in the days of VHS, and being a SF fan was always a bit curious about it.  As the cover implies, it's a SF horror film in the mold of  the Ridley Scott film, Alien, but with their own take on the genre.  It's also an alien abduction type story.  To be sure, it's a B-grade, low budget film, but as the same time I thought had a few things that were interesting about it.

For one, at least the film kept me thinking or at least wondering what and where the plot was headed.  I also liked that it was a British production. I'm a monster fan, so they had a pretty interesting take on the alien, and also it used lighting to good effect in some scenes.  Much like Alien, the creature that they created goes through a metamorphosis, and though less clear in some of the alien's changes or even motives, I thought that was okay.  I made it seem more alien-like.  There's a weirdness or unsettling nature to the film, that reminded me at times of something like Hellraiser or something along that line.  Also though the score was lean and sparse, and I enjoyed the old analog synthesizer soundtrack and the atmosphere it added.   There's a bit of gore here and there, and the story is a bit inconsistent at times, but overall for a B-film, it held my attention. 


The next movie I watched, although it was getting late, was an adaptation of a film taken from Jean M. Auel's book, The Clan of the Cave Bear.   I've seen this series of books in used book stores and sales, and have picked them up and looked at them and thought, hum, that sort of appeals to me as I'm a prehistoric and dinosaur fan.  I think I've even run across the DVD from time to time in pawn shops, but I think I confused it with the movie, Quest for Fire (which is another pretty good prehistoric film), so I've overlooked watching it for years.  But I have to say it really engaged me and I can see why it became a bestseller back in the day.  I don't recall how this movie did at the box office or what critics thought of the film because for whatever reason, it flew under my radar.

It's one of those films that within a few minutes sets up a whole new world, wherein my attention was drawn right into it.  It's basically about a wandering Neanderthal tribe in search of a cave as winter is coming on, and they need a home for the cold weather.  On their journey they find a young abandoned blonde child called Ayla, a Cro-Magnon, that is adopted by one of their women.  She's not totally accepted into their tribe due to looking different, and perhaps other reasons, but over time we go along with her journey into adulthood.  One of the questions I had about the film is the woman that adopts the child is pregnant at the time, but the movie doesn't address what happens to that woman's child.  Maybe they did, but it wasn't clear to me, or I just didn't catch it.

At any rate, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It had great scenery shot up in Canada, which really gave it the atmosphere it needed, and the score to the film worked really well too--reminding me of some of the music Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, etc.) did many years ago or maybe something along the lines of Vangelis.  Perhaps, the film is oriented more towards fantasy, but I think Jean Auel did extensive research on her series of books, so that it's grounded in scientific findings as well.   It really made me more curious about her books, which I'll have to keep an eye out for at book sales.  It would be nice to find the second book in the series, The Valley of the Horses.

If interested I found this older, short interview with Mrs. Auel.  I thought it was interesting to hear her talk about her work.  You can find it here.  Click on the bottom link that says 1985, mp3 file.