Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills


Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year's Eve Toast

Anyone else remember when TNT used to have Man from U.N.C.L.E. marathons on New Year's Eve?

Here's wishing the half-dozen or so readers of this blog a very Happy New Year. For myself, I'm working to make 2013 the year that I return to comics in a big way, with the long-delayed publication of Perils On Planet X, a new Femme Noir graphic novel, and more. Have a great time tonight, and celebrate safely - perhaps you can take a cue from Napoleon Solo, and spend the evening at home with a few close friends...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cancelled 2 Soon And It's A Crime

A lot of interesting television series get cut down in infancy, usually because some network is too impatient to stick with a show through its early - and usually inevitable - growing pains and give it time to find its audience. Of course, some shows simply suck, and deserve to be strangled in the crib - to perhaps take the metaphor a bit too far....

Anyway, two cancelled-too-soon TV shows that I thought were pretty damned good right out of the gate and really wish would come out on DVD so I could at least enjoy repeatedly re-watching the few episodes that do exist are: 2003's Karen Sisco with Carla Gugino (sigh) and Robert Forster, & producer Mark Frost's Buddy Faro from '98, with Dennis Farina & Frank Whaley.



Karen Sisco was based on the character from Elmore Leonard's novel Out Of Sight with more than a little inspiration from its 1998 film version, which had starred Jennifer Lopez in the role of Miami-based Federal Marshal Karen Sisco. The short-lived (10 episodes) television series cast the always-gorgeous and intelligent Gugino in the role, and captured the breezy tone of Leonard's writing with remarkable success. Her father, a Miami P.I., was played by Robert Forster (Jackie Brown). The show looked terrific as well, with lots of sunny Florida scenery. ABC really screwed up by not scheduling  the show back-to-back with its then-hit show Alias, as the two programs were thematically similar and, as both had strong female leads, would probably have appealed to the same audience.



Buddy Faro was another breezy crime show with a fantastic, feature-film quality cast. Whaley (Swimming With Sharks) played Bob Jones, a struggling L.A. private investigator who idolizes a legendary private eye - the titular Faro (Farina) - a swingin' Rat Pack-type dick who disappeared in the late 70s on a case. Jones tracks him down in a gutter in Mexico, sobers him up, and takes him on as his partner. The stories were great fun, with Faro portrayed as a sort of fish-out-of-water, still living in the 60s, dealing with the modern world (of 1998) in his own retro-tough guy way.

Obviously, neither show managed the sort of ratings that would have kept them on the air, but man, I loved 'em both. Sadly, I don't think either show is a good candidate for DVD... but then, lots of oddball stuff has been hitting disc lately. Maybe there's still some hope.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hey Kids, Comics!

The FedEx guy just dropped an Amazon box in the door. Since I didn't have any orders pending, I was baffled. Turns out it was a box full of graphic novel goodies - a belated holiday gift from my bestest buddy, author (and occasional writing partner) James Chambers!

Along with some recent Daredevil and Punisher trade paperbacks by creators he knows I like, he included this handsome hardcover collection of vintage Batman comics drawn by the late, great Don Newton. Jim knows how much I admire Newton's work, and guessed that I'd enjoy the book, which collects most of Newton's Bat-art from the late 70s. Just a quick skim through its pages more than confirms my pal's assumption - it's gorgeous stuff.

Not having been a regular comics shop customer for the last ten years or so, the Daredevil and Punisher trades are all new stuff to me, but I do like the writers involved (Mark Waid and Greg Rucka, respectively), so I look forward to reading those, too.

I am so grateful that I have a friend like Jim - and not just 'cause he gives me stuff. (Though it helps!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Cover: Frazetta's BUCK ROGERS

Hope everyone had a terrific holiday! Once again, I present another fantastic Famous Funnies Buck Rogers cover by legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta. This astounding image graced the front of issue #214 in November, 1954!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meet Max

Meet Max (formerly known as Wags). This is how he rode home - quietly - from where we picked him up in from the Dog Transport folks in Kittery early this morning.

He's one exhausted pooch, fresh off two days crated up on a bus, now getting a lot of new stuff thrown at him all at once - new people, new house, new backyard... and two insane felines that aren't quite sure what to make of him, either.


It's going to be good having a dog around the house again.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The First Flash Gordon Story

Well, my first Flash Gordon story, anyway.

Along with the Dark Horse reprints of the Flash Gordon comics and the last two 80's Tempo Books Flash novels by David Hagberg, I recently purchased, I also bought this children's paperback, published in 1976 - Flash Gordon In The Sand World Of Mongo.

Written by Horace Elias, it's basically a Big Little Book, but in standard paperback format. Every other page is a full-page illustration, and the text is in large print, written in very simple language for young children. The artist is uncredited, and the art is, unfortunately, somewhat amateurish. But... I found it for about a buck (the 1976 cover price!).

And here's the thing: I remember reading this back in Junior High. Even then, I was a little old for the simplistic story and prose, but I stumbled across it in the school library, and found the sword-wielding guy on the cover intriguing. So I checked it out and read it during my lunch break.

It may not be a particularly good adventure story (it's not), but it was the first Flash Gordon story I ever read... and the last one I needed to complete my collection of Flash paperbacks.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Get FLINT!

Well, I don't much like the fact that it's a Limited Edition disc, nor that it's so pricey, but I went ahead and pre-ordered the Twilight Time Blu-ray release of Our Man Flint, the first of two Derek Flint superspy capers starring James Coburn. It's supposed to come out in mid-January, with the sequel, In Like Flint, to follow in February. I'll probably pre-order that one, too. Because these discs are only issued in limited numbers, I can't really follow my usual method of buying used discs cheap on the secondary market; when these suckers go out of print, the price only goes up.


So, why did I bite the bullet on this one? Well, first of all, I'm a huge fan of the movie, and even though I have the very nice Ultimate Flint Collection DVDs that Fox put out a few years ago, this Blu-ray has a buttload of new bonus features, including a couple of new documentaries by John Cork - the guy who put together all the great documentaries on the James Bond and Charlie Chan discs. Ultimately, I just couldn't pass it up.

What can I say? I'm weak.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Cover: Frazetta's BUCK ROGERS

Action-packed! Fast-paced! Suspenseful! Another Wednesday in December, another amazing Famous Funnies cover starring interplanetary avenger Buck Rogers, drawn by the late, great fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta. This is issue #212 from July, 1954!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Retro Spaceships Under The Tree

Not only was I able to stock up on retro space adventures in book form this holiday season, but I was also able to order two retro spaceship model kits that I've had on my Wishlist for the last couple of years to place under the Solstice Tree. In this case, they're re-issues of kits that I coveted as a kid, but never owned. The "Interplanetary U.F.O. Mystery Ship" (which I wrote about over on my Space: 1970 blog recently), and the Lindberg "Space Base & Satellite Explorer," which is actually two kits - dating back to the 1950s - repackaged together in one box.

My best friend in elementary school had both the U.F.O. Mystery Ship and the Lindberg "wheel" space station kits, and I always envied him for having them on his shelves. Now I've got them... and maybe someday I'll even get around to actually building and painting them!

The Last Stand Of Arnold Schwarzenegger


Well, here's the new trailer for Lionsgate's The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's action movie comeback (aside from his extended cameo in The Expendables sequel). I don't know about you, but it looks like fun to me, with some terrific action sequences and a nice, self-deprecating wit. Plus, Luis Guzman and the Conan sword. I'll definitely be seeing this one.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Spies No One Remembers.... Except Me

There are a few James Bond knock-offs that I remember watching on TV in the late 70s (& 1980) that I have never heard anyone else mention. One of these was Billion Dollar Threat, a 1979 TV movie that starred Dale Robinette as secret agent Robert Sands, who must foil the nefarious plan of mad scientist Horatio Black - played by none other than John Steed himself, Patrick Macnee - to destroy the ozone layer with a nuclear missile.

I actually taped this one off of TV, so I watched it a number of times. It was a pretty fair - if cheap - little Bondian adventure, written by Hammer Studios vet Jimmy Sangster (Deadlier Than The Male), who seemed to have a penchant for this type of stuff....

Because Sangster also wrote the 1980 ABC telefilm, Once Upon A Spy, which starred a pre-Cheers Ted Danson as a computer expert/reluctant spy who is drafted into a mission to stop another mad scientist - this time portrayed by The Man With The Golden Gun, Scaramanga, in the guise of Sir Christopher Lee - who has a laser cannon (another one?). I remember it as being a bit more deliberately campy than Billion Dollar Threat, in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. sort of way.

Sangster didn't write (I wonder how he missed out on this one), but legitimate 007 veteran Richard Maibaum (Goldfinger, Thunderball, et al) did, the same year's S*H*E - Security Hazards Expert, which starred Cornelia Sharpe as Lavinia Keane, a sort of female Bond in a globetrotting adventure that I remember watching but am unable to recall a single detail of. Omar Sharif played her adversary, an International blackmailer.

None of these are available on DVD, although S*H*E did get a VHS release.I would really like to see all of these again one day....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Kline's Martian Tales

Along with all the Flash Gordon books I've got coming in the mail this month are these two novels of Martian swashbuckling by Otis Adelbert Kline. I've read some of Kline's other "planetary romances" - specifically, several of his Venusian novels - but I've not yet visited his version of the Red Planet.

Paizo Press re-issued these pulp tales a few years back, and I found inexpensive copies of these handsomely designed volumes online. With luck, they'll arrive before the holiday and in good shape. I'm looking forward to adding them to my ever-growing "To Be Read" pile....

For those of my blog readers who aren't all that into space fantasy and are waiting for me to write about hardboiled crime pulp/films again, just be patient. I'm in an outer space state of mind at the moment, but my pop culture passions tend to be cyclical. I'll be back working on the new Femme Noir graphic novel around New Year's and I'm sure I'll be totally immersed in that decidedly more Earthbound genre then!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Holiday On Mongo...

As I noted a few posts back, Brandi let me order the first three of Dark Horse's hardcover Flash Gordon comics collections as my holiday gift from her. Have I mentioned that she's a great wife? Well, she came home tonight and informed me that she'd finished the budgeting for the month, and that I could go ahead and order the remaining two volumes! (Fortunately, I'd found an online dealer offering all five at a HUGE discount - being perpetually broke means I've gotten really good at finding bargains. I purchased all five volumes for the cover price of just one - not counting shipping.)

Plus, she also allowed me a little extra cash to order used copies of the last two David Hagerberg Flash Gordon paperback novels published by Tempo Books in 1980 that I needed to complete the series. Have I mentioned just how awesome my wife is?

So, in a few weeks, I'll be kickin' back on Mongo, enjoying forty years' worth of interplanetary swashbuckling. In fact, I've been totally immersed in the space opera genre lately. Writing it (Perils On Planet X), reading it (Spacehawk), watching it... and if there's one thing I've learned, it's to....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Cover: Frazetta's BUCK ROGERS

Join Buck Rogers' Rocket Rangers! Here's another gorgeous Famous Funnies covers featuring space hero Buck Rogers, as rendered by the legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta. This is issue #213 from September, 1954!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's official. We've got a new dog. Everything went through okay, and we'll be driving down to meet him and bring him home on the 22nd. The folks from the shelter call him "Wags," but I suspect we'll be changing his name once we get to know him a little. He kinda looks more like a "Max" to me....

Pacific Rim

There are several genre films I'm looking forward to in 2013, including Iron Man 3, the next Star Trek movie, and the new Wolverine film. But the one I'm most eager to see is the giant robots vs giant monsters flick from Pan's Labyrinth/Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim.

I think del Toro is one of the great visual stylists working in movies today, and when it comes to cinematic fantasy, I don't think there's a better director out there. Plus, you know: giant robots & monsters.

ADDENDUM 12/12/12: The full teaser trailer went online today. Check this out:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morning Musings

So, let's see... what's been going on here at stately Mills Manor? One cool thing was that Brandi let me order the first three Dark Horse Flash Gordon hardcover collections as my holiday present. This series of volumes collect all of the Flash Gordon original comic book stories (omitting the newspaper strip reprints) published by Dell, King Comics, Charlton Comics, Gold Key and Whitman, from the late Forties through the early 80s. Can't wait for them to arrive - I've read most of the King Comics issues (in Vol. 2) by Al Williamson, but the early Dell issues (in Vol. 1) and the Charlton issues (in Vol. 3) are all new to me!

Now if I could just pick up a little freelance income (or holiday cash), I could get the remaining two volumes....


Along the same general theme: after ten years of distractions, detours and discouragements (almost entirely of my own doing), I'm finally finishing the third chapter of the first story arc of my own space adventure comic, Perils On Planet X, this week. You have no idea how pleased I am to actually be writing the concluding scenes of a story that has been in my head for so long... especially since the art for the damned thing has been more than half finished for, literally, years.

I'm so excited that I really hope POPX will be successful enough to warrant artist Gene Gonzales and I producing the two further story arcs that I have in mind (I've always planned it as a trilogy) - and that it doesn't take another decade (or two) to get around to telling them.

If all goes well, we'll begin serializing Perils On Planet X online, a page or two a week, sometime in 2013, and will probably try a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign to finance an eventual print volume. Stay tuned for further updates, and I'll be sure to let people know when we're ready to launch the new webcomic version.

And, finally, it looks like we may have a new canine companion sooner than anticipated. After losing our girl China last November, we didn't want to rush into getting another dog. For one thing, the loss was so great that honestly, we're still grieving. But in the past few months we'd been talking more and more about adding another critter to the menagerie - we just figured we'd wait until Spring to start looking seriously.

But last week, Brandi was browsing Craig's List, and found an ad placed by an Arkansas shelter/rescue looking for a home for one of their dogs. There were pictures and a video. After checking them out, she showed the ad to me, and we agreed that the dog looked like a good fit for us.

Anyway, Brandi contacted them, then filled out an application, and then had a phone interview, all of which went well... and barring any last minute complications, it looks like we'll be adopting "Wags" (chances are we'll be renaming him) before the end of the month. We just need to finalize a few details - like getting him to Maine - and scrape up the adoption fees, but it all looks good. 

Here's hoping all goes smoothly. Wish us luck. This house needs a dog.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Look, Up In The Sky...

Back when Superman Returns hit theaters, Warner Home Video released the first season of the Illya Salkind-produced Superboy syndicated television series from 1988 on DVD. Reportedly, it didn't sell very well, and that's probably because so few people even remembered the show existed.

Well, also because the first season (the show ended up running for a total of four) was pretty weak.

That first season starred John Haymes-Newton as the college student of steel, Clark Kent, attending Shuster University in Florida (where the show was shot as one of the first series filmed at the Orlando Disney/MGM Studios). Newton looked good in the classic red & blue union suit, but was, frankly, a wooden performer. It didn't help either that the scripts for that first season were generally pretty pedestrian and the shoestring budget was extremely obvious. Pretty Stacy Haiduk (later of Seaquest DSV) was a sexy and likable Lana Lang, though. I also liked the casting of Stuart Whitman as Pa Kent.

Somehow the show garnered good enough ratings (it aired on weekend afternoons in most markets) to get a second season, and things improved considerably. The writing - by a number of actual DC Comics veterans like Andy Helfer, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil and Mike Carlin - got a lot better and more imaginative, and Newton was replaced by the more charismatic Gerard Christopher.


There were some cool guest stars in that second season, too, including George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Britt Ekland (The Man With the Golden Gun) as Clark's Kryptonian parents Jor-El and Lara; Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) as Brimstone; Michael J. Pollard as Mr. Mxyzptik; as well as Keye Luke, Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me), and even Gilbert Gottfried.

The budget was still low, but the producers were a lot more creative with their money, and the show looked much better in the second season, too. The special effects were about what you'd expect in 1989-90; you may not have believed a boy could fly... but it could have been a lot worse.

I guess in anticipation of the new Man Of Steel movie due next Summer, Warners' manufacture-on-demand label, Warner Archive, will be releasing the second season of Superboy on DVD next Tuesday. Those multi-disc MOD sets can be pricey, but I'm hoping to pick it up soon. I really enjoyed the show back in the day, and would very much like to add it to my vast DVD library.

I mean, what the Hell - I bought the first season.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Wednesday Cover: Frazetta's BUCK ROGERS

I'm currently working on a space comic of my own, and I've been turning to classic pulp and comic book imagery for inspiration. I've been enjoying it so much, I thought I'd share my favorites here with you. Every Wednesday throughout December, I'll be sharing these fantastic Famous Funnies covers featuring space hero Buck Rogers, as drawn by legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta. This is issue #211 from May, 1954!

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Lone Wolf Of The Void!

My favorite Golden Age space hero - one almost as bugnuts bizarre as Dick Briefer's Rex Dexter of Mars - was Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk, who appeared regularly in Target Comics from Novelty Press back in the early 1940s. He only appeared on one cover, but his adventures were outright brainbatshit crazy.

Wolverton's art style was delightfully grotesque and meticulous. His work was wildly imaginative and his aliens & monsters were just indescribable. His hero was completely unique, a sci-fi adventurer who didn't follow in the goody two-shoes traditions of Buck Rogers & Flash Gordon. No, Spacehawk was astonishingly brutal - and mysterious (he had no name other than "Spacehawk," and didn't even show his face until the third story!) - an 800 year-old, technologically-advanced, psionic humanoid from another solar system who patrolled the interplanetary spaceways acting autonomously as judge, jury and executioner whenever he detected the "evil thoughts"of cosmic criminals.

After nine adventures in space, the editors at Novelty Press insisted that Wolverton bring his hero to Earth to battle America's wartime enemies. So Spacehawk orbited the Earth in his spaceship, monitoring the planet for evil Axis schemes to violently thwart. These WWII adventures aren't quite as much fun as his planet-hopping capers, but they're still good, and did introduce a continuing archenemy for our hero, the evil scientific genius, Dr. Gore!

Back in the 90s, Dark Horse reprinted some of Wolverton's Spacehawk stories in a B&W miniseries, but didn't finish the run. Now, though, Fantagraphics has released the entire Spacehawk canon in one gorgeous, oversized volume. I received my copy yesterday, and I'm really impressed.

Considering that the art had to have been shot from the ancient printed comics, it looks remarkable. Clearly a lot of work went into the restoration; blacks are solid, whites are white (not yellowed), fine lines (and there's a lot of them!) are reasonably sharp & clear, there's no significant break-up in the lettering... overall, it's a terrific looking book, and I highly recommend it!

Spacehawk (like Rex Dexter) is one of those Golden Age characters that has fallen into the public domain. I don't want to be one of those guys who makes a habit of constantly exploiting old PD characters, but I must admit... I'd like to try my hand at a Spacehawk story one of these days. Just a one-off adventure - a tribute to Wolverton's mad genius and his one-of-a-kind space hero.

You can buy it from Amazon here: Spacehawk

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Godzilla Vs. Biollante!

Next week, Echo Bridge entertainment will be releasing one of the two remaining Godzilla films not yet available in the U.S. on DVD and Blu-ray: 1989's Godzilla Vs Biollante.

I've already preordered my Blu-ray copy, and I'm hopeful that Echo Bridge put in a little extra effort on this title, seeing as they generally specialize in cheap, no-frills "budget" releases aimed at the K-Mart and Wal-Mart consumer. Little things like audio-visual quality and presenting movies in their correct aspect ratios tend to be unimportant to them - at least, based on some of the EB titles I've seen.

Still, they've done okay jobs on some of the other films they've licensed from Miramax, and the advance word on this disc is fairly encouraging. It's supposed to be in the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and includes the original Japanese audio (my preference) as well as the English dub. There's supposed to be multiple subtitle options and even a couple bonus features. I'm hopeful, and eager to add this one to my kaiju eiga library.

Now if only someone would manage to clear the U.S. video rights to Godzilla 1984/1985 - preferably both the original Japanese cut and the American edit released by New World in '85 with Raymond Burr reprising his role from the American version of the first Godzilla film in 1954.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Cover: STAR SLAMMERS!

 
This is the cover of Marvel Graphic Novel #6, Star Slammers, written and drawn by the legendary Walter Simonson, and published in 1983. This is one of the earliest American "graphic novels," which tended to run less than 100 pages and be printed in an oversized, 8 and 1/2" x 11" album format.

Star Slammers, a space opera epic about interstellar mercenaries, was a pet project of Simonson's dating back to before he was a comics professional. In the 90's he wrote & drew a 5-issue continuation, published by Malibu (& Dark Horse Comics). I don't have those issues, but maybe someday I'll track 'em down.

This Just In...


Monday, November 26, 2012

New Old Stuff To Read

Every once in a while, I make a little money off my blogging. Recently, I got a tidy little kickback from the ads on my DVD Late Show and Space: 1970 sites, and decided to use it to order a few older graphic novel/comics collections online.

Having recently enjoyed re-watching the 1938 Universal movie serial Red Barry, starring Buster Crabbe, I became curious about the Will Gould newspaper comic strip that it was based on. After a little hunting around online, I discovered a 1989 Red Barry strip collection from Fantagraphics. I ordered a copy, and am more than halfway through it. Terrific stuff!

I then went through my Amazon wish list to see if anything I had on there had gone down in price. I've long wanted a copy of DC's The Warlord: The Savage Empire trade paperback by Mike Grell & company, but it's long out of print and used copies tended to be prohibitively expensive. Surprisingly, I was able to find a reasonably-priced copy listed and ordered it. It hasn't arrived yet, so I have my fingers crossed that it arrives in the "Very Good" condition advertised by the seller.

Another collection from the same time period that I ordered was DC's Cosmic Odyssey trade paperback by Jim Starlin & Mike Mignola. I missed the original 4-issue miniseries when it came out back in '88 and never got my hands on it after that. But it popped up on my radar recently thanks to Rip Jagger's Dojo, and since I've always loved Mignola's art, I decided to get it. I'm especially looking forward to his handling of Jack Kirby's Darkseid and The New Gods characters.

I also ordered the IDW hardcover edition of The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures, which collects the handful of Rocketeer tales that creator Dave Stevens actually produced in the 80s. I bought all the original comics (& the old Eclipse album) when they came out and have them stashed away somewhere in a longbox, but I figured it was past time to get all the Stevens' material in one nice bookshelf edition. Fortunately, I found an cheap copy online. Should be here sometime this week.

The last of the graphic novels I purchased was the new Fantagraphics collection of Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk comics, originally published in the 1940's as a feature in Target Comics. Back in the 90s, Dark Horse reprinted many of these bizarre and brilliant adventures in B&W comic book reprints, with a few new stories about the character produced by various artists and writers. I have four of five of these issues, but I'm missing at least one, and I'm not sure if Dark Horse actually got around to reprinting the entire run. This new collection is both complete and in color. I love Wolverton's work, and I love the character - he's sort of like Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name" in space, an unfathomable and unstoppable entity with a vast array of weapons and gadgets at his disposable.

Finally, in the non-comics category, I placed an order for an early Andrew Offutt sword & planet papernck novel. Chieftain of Andor. I read a lot of Offutt's fantasy novels in the 80s - primarily his Robert E. Howard pastiches and Thieves World stories - and look forward to reading this one, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Cover:VARIETY DETECTIVE

I swiped this from Paul Bishop's blog. I don't know who the artist is, but it's now one of my favorite crime pulp covers ever! Not only is that fantastic painting dynamic, but the cover copy may have just given me the name for a future Femme Noir villainess - "Lady Loot!"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Go Go Gorgo

One of my favorite monster movies is Eugène Lourié's, Gorgo. The third of Lourié's triptych of giant monster flicks (following The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Giant Behemoth), 1961's Gorgo is a terrific entertainment, with good performances, a solid script. and excellent "suitmation" (man-in-suit) creature effects and miniatures.

The film tells of an English salvage vessel crew that captures a thirty-foot tall reptilian creature off the coast of Ireland. They dub the beastie "Gorgo" and haul it to London and put it on display. Unfortunately, despite his primeval proportions, Gorgo's just a baby, and it's much, much larger mother of a monster is coming to retrieve her purloined offspring... and all the King's forces are no match for her maternal fury.

I watched the film again a couple weeks ago on the DVD released by VCI Entertainment back in 2005, and while the movie held up to my fond memories of it, the audio-visual quality was atrocious. Colors were faded and blurry, contrast was terrible, and there was a fair amount of wear and tear evident on the source print. To add insult to injury, the 1.78:1 widescreen transfer wasn't anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 displays. Fortunately, I've heard rumors that VCI will be remastering the title in HD from new, much-improved source materials for a new release sometime in 2013. I really hope that's true.

Not only was Gorgo a movie star, but Charlton Comics published an ongoing tie-in comic that chronicled the juvenile lizards further adventures. Several of these stories were drawn by the legendary comics creator Steve Ditko. IDW Publishing has announced a special hardcover collection of these tales, to be released in February, 2013.

Here's their solicitation copy:
The genius artist Steve Ditko is a towering monster of awesomeness, and so is the character he chronicled... GORGO! If you love Godzilla - and who doesn't - you'll love Gorgo, who ravages London, New York City, and HOLLYWOOD! Gorgo goes head to head with the British Navy, atomic bombs, Communists, and aliens from the planet Corpus III! This is the complete Ditko Gorgo, 200-pages of comics, including six pulse-pounding covers all drawn during the height of Ditko's prowess concurrent with his Spider-man and Dr. Strange creative explosions. Scripts are by the fan-favorite writer Joe Gill. Introduction by Eisner award winner Craig Yoe with fascinating insight into the comics and the monster movie that inspired them. Every page is lovingly restored and the book is a large format hardcover to showcase the monstrous Ditko art.
 I'm almost certainly going to want to get this book, even though I only remember Ditko drawing a couple of the Gorgo comic books. I didn't think there would be enough material to fill 200 pages...

In any case, it looks like 2013 might be Gorgo's big year.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Wednesday Cover: SHAZAM!

Technically, this is Limited Collector's Edition C35, a "Treasury Sized" collection of Captain Marvel comic book stories reprinted by DC Comics in 1975. This photo cover features actor Jackson Bostwick who portrayed the World's Mightiest Mortal for two seasons of the Filmation Saturday morning Shazam! television series. I've been revisiting the 1974-76 series on DVD this past couple of weeks, and I remembered having this oversized comic when I was a kid. (FYI - I'll be reviewing the newly-released Warner Archive Shazam! DVD set over at my DVD Late Show and Space: 1970 blogs shortly.)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Super Friends To The Rescue!

Amazon had them on sale for less than $10 each, so last week, I ordered the last two incarnations of Super Friends from the early 1980s - The Legendary Super Powers Show and Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians -  on DVD. These two seasons were tailored to tie-in with Kenner's popular DC "Super Powers" action figure line, hence the prominence of the term in both titles.

Both shows featured Jack Kirby's Darkseid as the major villain and had slightly more sophisticated stories than previous incarnations of the Super Friends franchise. In the Galactic Guardians run, Hanna-Barbara's artists switched from the original Alex Toth character designs to new ones by Jose Garcia-Lopez, giving it a fresher look; it was also the first Super Friends show to have full half-hour (well, 20 minute, really) episodes each week instead of two 10-minute stories per installment.

I missed these seasons when they originally aired on Saturday mornings (I was in Art School by then), but I'm looking forward to enjoying some Old School super-hero 'toons over the next week or two.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Three Years In SPACE

My 1970s sci-fi nostalgia (or, as I prefer to call it: pop culture archeology) blog, Space: 1970, just celebrated its third anniversary. Three years of  writing about the science fiction films and television shows - and related memorabilia - of the 1970s and early 80s (closing rapidly on 700 entries now)... and people seem to like it. Stop by if you get a moment.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday Cover: PSYCHO Fall Special

Happy Halloween! October's final Psycho cover is this Prieto Muriana masterwork, which graced the magazine's 1974 "Fall Special."

Today is also the 12th anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful soulmate, Brandi. A dozen years and still together... who would have imagined? Happy Anniversary, hon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Cover: PSYCHO Classic Creeps!

One week until Halloween... and here's another ghoulish cover from Skywald's Psycho comics magazine, this time from the great Ken Kelly. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Cover: PSYCHO Devil Woman

This week, our Wednesday Cover is another blood-curdling Skywald Psycho magazine masterpiece - this time painted by Enrich Torres.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Happy Birthday, 007


Today is Global James Bond Day, celebrating 50 years of Ian Fleming's creation on the silver screen. And this is a video montage of great moments from the 007 films, set to Scouting for Girls' song, "I Wish I Was James Bond."

Don't we all?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Wednesday Cover: PSYCHO Snake Woman

For this first Wednesday of October, we bring you another cover from Skywald Publication's Psycho magazine, also painted by Boris Vallejo. Enjoy!

The First PARKER Trailer


I have mixed feelings about this preview trailer for the upcoming film, Parker, based on the Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) books. I've been a bit wary about Jason Statham's casting ever since I first heard about the project - we all know that I love Statham as an action star, but I suspected from the beginning that the filmmakers would end up adapting the character to his established film persona, rather than get him to play the Parker of the books.

Based on this trailer, it appears that I was right.

The opening scenes of the heist and double-cross certainly have a Stark/Westlake flavor, but the rest of the trailer plays out like every other Statham star vehicle. Which means I'll probably enjoy it as an action movie... but as an adaptation of Stark/Westlake? Probably not so much.

Still, it's only the first trailer, and it may simply be a marketing choice (and probably the correct one) to try and make it appeal to the legions of Statham fans who probably don't have the foggiest idea of who the character Parker is.

I'll try and keep an open mind....

I do love the poster, though. Nice, clean, striking design.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

From Here To Eternia

Poster art by Drew Struzan
I generally don't subscribe to the concept of "guilty pleasures." I've always felt that you should never be ashamed or feel guilty about liking "bad" movies (or anything else, for that matter), because the point of entertainment is to enjoy yourself, and it doesn't matter why you like something, as long as you have fun.

That said, when it comes to the 1987 live-action, Cannon Films adaptation of the Filmation cartoon series, Masters Of The Universe, I do sometimes feel a bit embarrassed. Mostly because I've found that admitting my fondness for the fantasy flick inevitably leads to ridicule. Never mind that the production design (by the great William Stout) is gorgeous, or that the Rob Conti-emulating-John Williams score is big, bombastic and beautiful, or that Frank Langella's portrayal of sorcerer Skeletor is sly and satisfyingly sinister... it's based on an 80s cartoon starring a guy named "He-Man."

And I don't even like the cartoon.

But I do like the Gary Goddard-directed movie, which comes out on a (unfortunately bare-bones) Blu-ray today, and I liked it even when I dragged my then-girlfriend to see it in theater in the Summer of 1987. It's just a fun, fast-paced fantasy adventure with a memorable cast (Dolph Lundgren in his first lead role, a young Courtney Cox, icy-eyed & sexy Meg Foster, and the unforgettable Billy Barty, among others), terrific 80s special effects, and a ridiculous plot that hangs together just... well enough.

It's not a classic of the genre, and it may not even be very good, subjectively, but I like it a lot (for all of the reasons cited above), and will be picking up the Blu-ray edition this week.

ADDENDUM: My local Bull Moose store - where I buy the DVDs and Blu-rays I'm too impatient to order online - actually let me down this week, as they didn't get any Master Of The Universe Blu-rays. According to their computer, all the other stores in the chain got copies, but their store didn't. Oh well, I put one on order. Hopefully they'll get it in by my next trip to town....

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Princess Diary

I hope people won't think any less of me as a man when I reveal that I'm looking forward to getting DC's latest Showcase Presents volume - Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld.

When the series originally appeared back in the 80s, I was reading mostly gritty adventure comics like Jon Sable, Freelance, Ms. Tree, Grimjack and Scout. A book about a teenage girl who magically transforms into the adult princess of a fairy tale fantasy realm - where everything was named after gemstones! - held little appeal for me.

But nowadays, with mainstream comics producing very little of interest for this aging, curmudgeonly old fanboy, I'm discovering - and rediscovering - a lot of good stuff in reprint volumes. And while I never read Amethyst back in the old days, I did read - and loved - DC's Blue Devil, a tongue-in-cheek superhero series written by the same guys who created & wrote Amethyst, Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn. In fact, I followed that book for its entire first run, and really enjoyed and admired the writing team's style and sense of fun.

I've also been a life-long fan of artist Ernie Colon, who drew most of the Amethyst stories. I've especially enjoyed his fantasy and adventure work, so it seems long past time to check out his art on this series. From the various bits and pieces I've glimmed over the decades, it looks like some of Colon's best work.

Anyway, the collection comes out this week, and I plan on getting it. The only sticking point is that it does not seem to be complete - according to what I've read, it includes the character’s preview appearance in Legion of Super-Heroes #298, the original Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld 12-issue limited series, the Amethyst Annual #1, DC Comics Presents #63... but only the first 11 issues of the 16-issue ongoing Amethyst series. That leaves a full five issues uncollected, which is not nearly enough material for a second Showcase volume.  Dammit.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Cover: PSYCHO FRANKENSTEIN!

Getting a jump on October with Skywald's Psycho magazine, featuring Boris Vallejo's interpretation of the Frankenstein Monster.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Cover: Blackhawk

Another terrific Blackhawk cover by my pal Rick Burchett, from the thirteenth issue of the 1989-1990 DC series.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Robert Conrad Double Feature

Two 70's exploitation films starring the great Robert Conrad, Live A Little, Steal A Lot (a/k/a Murph The Surf) and Sudden Death, will be hitting DVD in October as a double-feature disc from Inception Media. I've never seen either movie, but I have seen the trailers for both films, and they look like great B-movie fun!

Here's the full press release from Inception Media Group:
Prepare to go retro for a double dose of action, mayhem and intrigue with the Robert Conrad Double Feature, breaking onto DVD Oct. 16 from Inception Media Group.

Classic TV icon of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Robert Conrad (Black Sheep Squadron, The Wild Wild West, Hawaiian Eye) – and frequent sidekick Don Stroud (License to Kill, The Amityville Horror, The Buddy Holly Story, Joe Kidd) – are at their macho best in these action-packed feature films from the mod ’70s.

Live a Little, Steal A Lot aka Murph the Surf (1975): Based on the true story of the daring 1964 theft of the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from New York’s American Museum of Natural History.  Called the “Greatest Jewel Heist of the 20th Century,” the robbers nabbed 22 precious gems, including the 563.35-carat Star of India sapphire, the 100.32-carat de Long ruby and the 16.25-carat Eagle diamond (never recovered) … stones so famous they would be impossible to sell. Directed by Marvin Chomsky (Evel Knievel and TV’s The Wild Wild West, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Roots), with one of the original thieves serving as a film advisor. Also stars Burt Young (the Rocky movies) and Donna Mills (TV’s Knots Landing).

Sudden Death (1977):  When Ed Neilson’s entire family is viciously murdered, he pleads with retired CIA operative Duke Smith (Conrad) to investigate. He refuses, but relents after Neilson too meets an explosive death. Deception, international intrigue and a ruthless “syndicate of businessmen” intent on raping a South Pacific Islands nation of its resources keep the pace fast. But when the executives hire a treacherous assassin (Stroud), the two are thrown head-to-head in a predestined match of cunning, wit and brute force. Only one will survive. For the other … it’s Sudden Death. Directed by Eddie Romero (The Twilight People) on location in the Philippines.

Robert Conrad Double Feature is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16x9 (1.85:1) and digital stereo 2.0.