Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back To The Late Show

Yeah, I know. I was laid up for much of July and that really knocked my schedule and plans all out of whack. Anyway, I'm posting reviews again over at DVD Late Show, and I'd really appreciate it if you clicked over there and took a look. So far this week, I've posted reviews of 1978 The Invisible Man television series DVDs and the incredible Twins Of Evil Blu-ray from Synapse Films.

I'm hoping to get a couple more TV series DVD reviews posted this week (Harry O and Federal Men), along with coverage of a bunch of recent Asylum flicks, and posts on several new cult film Blu-ray releases, including the original Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Barbarella, Outland, and Robert Rodriguez' The Faculty. Stay tuned... and wish me luck!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Good Old Stuff

I'm quite certain I'm repeating myself, but I very rarely buy new comics. As much as I love the medium, I just can't afford to keep up with the books that might interest me, and with the costs of today's books, I usually find that what little money comes my way is better spent on my DVDs/Blu-rays. Just seems like more value for my money.

I do, however, like DC's Showcase Presents line of vintage reprints. These black & white, telephone book-sized collections usually run less than $20, and with some careful internet prowling, can even be found new for less than $10, sometimes. My most recent purchases were Showcase Presents: The Spectre (600+ pages) and Showcase Presents: Sea Devils (500+ pages). The Spectre volume collects the majority of the supernatural avenger's solo adventures (as well as a few team-up stories) from the late Sixties through the early Eighties, with lots of gorgeous artwork by the likes of Murphy Anderson, Jerry Grandenetti, Neal Adams and Jim Aparo.

The Sea Devils book collects every undersea adventure of the titular team of explorers, nearly all of which were drawn by the astounding Russ Heath. The stories are silly stuff, but a lot of fun.

Best of all, with around a 1,000 pages of great, classic DC comics between these two books, I should have plenty to read for a good long while...

Friday, July 27, 2012

BangPop 2012

The only convention I'm attending in 2012 is coming up - BangPop 2012, in Bangor, Maine. I'll be attending on Sunday, September 23. I don't really have anything much in the way of new stuff this year, but I will have copies of Femme Noir, Kolchak, and Captain Midnight (the prose anthology) on hand, plus whatever else I can dig up around here....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Covers: JUNGLE ADVENTURES

In 1971, publisher Sol Brodsky's Skywald Comics published three double-sized issues of Jungle Adventures, which reprinted a number of Golden Age jungle hero comics featuring such luminaries as Jo-Jo, Taanda, Rulah The Jungle Girl, and the original Sheena. But each issue also included a new adventure of a new savage hero: the crimson-maned Zangar - presumably created by artist Jack Katz, although the great Gardner Fox is credited for scripting the first issue. I have the first Zangar adventure above, and would like to get the other two.

I always found Katz's artwork interesting, appealing and a bit eccentric. A few years after working on this comic, he would create one of the very first independent comics (as we know the term today), a very personal, 24-issue science fiction epic called The First Kingdom, which he would write and draw for over a decade. I've only seen tantalizing excerpts from that series, and I keep hoping that IDW or some other publisher will get the rights to reprint it in a collected format.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

More Summer Reading

It's not quite the same as coming across previously-unknown treasures while browsing through an actual used book store, but there's still some joy in discovering the existence of books you were unaware of while surfing online. Last night, for example, I came upon a blog where The Goddess Of Ganymede, an early Burroughs pastiche written by well-respected science fiction author Michael Resnick, was reviewed.

Being somewhat familiar with Resnick's later work, I was surprised to find that he had dabbled in the interplanetary swashbuckler genre at the beginning of his career, and it piqued my interest. The review of Goddess was fairly positive, and a little research soon found that there was a sequel to the book, Pursuit On Ganymede. From what little I've detremined from my Googling, it looks like there might be a bit of sword & sorcery in the mix, too.

You all know that I love this sort of stuff, so I went ahead and ordered copies of both books tonight. I expect that I'll enjoy them - after all, I genuinely like Lin Carter's and Gardner Fox's "sword & planet" novels, and if nothing else, those lovely Jeff Jones (I think) covers are worth having on my shelf.  Hopefully, they'll show up soon and in good condition...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Reading

These are the two books that I got this week. What does that say about this 48 year-old man?

The Superman novel was recommended to me by my pal, Martin Powell, and the Jason Of Star Command book... well, c'mon. Once I knew it existed, I kinda HAD to have it, right...?

(Of course, if someone would let me, I'd happily WRITE Jason of Star Command novels forever. I've had an Ark II/Space Academy/Jason expanded universe and timeline mapped out in my head for years. If only...)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Atomic Hotties: Rosario Dawson

My pick this week for Atomic Hottie is the always-smokin' Rosario Dawson. I can't honestly say that I've seen everything she's been in, but I can say that I've been impressed by both her smoldering, exotic sexiness, genuine dramatic talent - and flair for comedy - in most everything that I have seen her in. From Sin City to The Rundown to Tarantino's Death Proof and Kevin Smith's Clerk's 2, she's been a genuine pleasure to watch - and in a couple of those examples, she was the best thing about the movie.

I really need to see more of her movies....

THE PUNISHER: DIRTY LAUNDRY


Has anything like this been done before? The star of 2004 Lionsgate feature film version of Marvel's The Punisher, Thomas Jane, reprises the role in a self-financed Punisher fan film. And... it's pretty damned good. Check it out (also starring Ron "Hellboy" Perlman!)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Buck Rogers Returns... Again

Well, I know absolutely nothing about this new, forthcoming comic book incarnation of Buck Rogers except that writer/artist Howard Chaykin is involved, and that this Chaykin-drawn poster made its debut at Comic-Con this past week.

From the outfits, it looks like the project is going to harken back more to the original 30s comic strip than the recent Dynamite Comics series did -- which is a good thing in my book. It's been a long time since I had much interest in any new comics (even ones based on favorite characters, like Buck), but I used to be quite the Chaykin fan, so.... color me intrigued.

I look forward to hearing/seeing more... hell, I even broke down and bought the first Dynamite Buck Rogers trade, eventually.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

King Of The Jungle

The best thing about my birthday this Summer was that between the generosity of my wife and my mother-in-law (hey, Cathy!), I was able to finally get all of the Lex Barker and Gordon Scott Tarzan films for my collection. Since these particular titles were issued by Warner Archive as manufactured-on-demand product, the prices were somewhat steeper than your average DVD. There also weren't many options out there for buying them used (one way I manage to keep building my video library is by buying things second-hand and as cheap as possible, when possible). This meant that I hadn't been able to pick them up before. But now I have them!

Unlike the Barker films, most of which were new to me whole or in part, I'm more familiar with most of the Scott Ape Man movies. I taped many of them off of AMC back in the 90s, when that was still a "classic movie" channel. My favorites are the last two films that Scott starred in (and the first two produced by Sy Weintraub), 1959's Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (with Anthony Quayle & Sean Connery among the villains) and 1960's Tarzan The Magnificent (with Jock Mahoney and John Carradine as the bad guys). Unlike most of the Tarzan movies up to that point (specifically excluding MGM's first two films with Weismuller in the role), these last two Gordon Scott vehicles were written for adults and were shot, in large part, on location in Africa. Scott plays the Lord Of The Jungle role with intelligence and a no-nonsense, moral conviction/ badass attitude that works astoundingly well, and Cheetah is all but absent from both of these installments, so there's none of the usual pandering chimpanzee antics.

They're terrific, grown-up adventure films, and I'm grateful to have widescreen copies in my DVD collection at last. My only disappointment is that the bean counters at Warners didn't authorize digital restorations of the movies; they all looked pretty beat-up. I wish these short-sighted, short-term profit-motivated corporations realized the inherent artistic and historical value of these films (and genre movies, in general) and invested in prolonging the existence of these pop culture artifacts. The restorations would pay for themselves over time.

Anyway, I'm pretty much where I want to be now, as far as my Tarzan DVD collection goes. I still have a few titles to get (the last two Mike Henry films and a couple of the early silents, for example), but I'll pick them up eventually....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Harry O Returns

The David Janssen private eye series from 1974-76, Harry O, is now available (at least, the first season is) on Manufactured-On-Demand DVD from Warner Archive. Highly regarded as one of the best - and best-written - private eye shows of its era, Harry O was an unusually melancholy and realistic crime show, with Janssen's Harry Orwell pretty much defining the term, "weather-beaten detective."

I was too young to care much about it when it originally aired, but in the 80s, when I was really getting into P.I. fiction - especially authors like Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Robert J. Randisi, and Rob Kantner - I managed to catch the pilot film, Smile Jenny, You're Dead one afternoon on TBS and loved it. Somewhere around the same time one of the cable channels (maybe A&E) ran the series, and I watched it whenever I could. I like The Rockford Files better, but Harry O is probably the more sophisticated show.

The new DVDs from Warner Archive are admittedly pricey - as burned-to-order discs almost always are - but I'm going to try and find some way to add the set to my library eventually. According to the website, this first season set includes the first pilot film, Such Dust as Dreams Are Made On, which had some significant differences from the subsequent series. What's less clear is whether or not the set includes the second TV movie pilot, Smile Jenny, You're Dead - as Warner Archive has already released that title separately. I hope it's included; otherwise it'll cost another twenty-five bucks to complete the set....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Back For War

Love this new retro-styled poster for The Expendables 2. Only a month and half or so to wait....

Monday, July 09, 2012

Way Out There Blu-rays

I'm currently laid up with the gout, but I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll feel well enough to trek into Waterville and visit Bull Moose Music. One of my favorite Space Westerns, Peter Hyams' Outland, is available on Blu-ray this week, and they're supposed to have a copy of Roger Vadim's comic strip-inspired Barbarella waiting there for me, as well. I've been looking forward to visually-improved versions of both movies for a long time...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Salute To The Original Patriotic Super-Hero!

After posting all of those patriotic super-hero comic covers here yesterday for the 4th of July, I remembered that, a few years ago, Archie Comics published a trade paperback collection of the earliest Golden Age adventures of their star-spangled sentinel, The Shield, from Pep Comics. Created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick, The Shield predated Joe Simon & Jack Kirby's Captain America, making him the first "patriotic" costumed hero in funny books.

When the book came out, I made note of it, because the cover art was by my friends Mark & Stephanie Heike, but for wahtrever reasons, I didn't pick it up. (Most likely, those reasons were price and/or the fact that I was nowhere near a comic shop when it came out).

I've done some prowling around online, and it looks like I could probably snag a copy pretty cheaply, and I'd like to, but as I've never actually seen a copy, I'm wondering how the actual reproduction of the original comics looks. I don't know if the pages were scanned from old comics, or reproduced from original line-art with new coloring. With money as tight as it is these days - and thus, my comics buying more limited - I'd really like to know how it looks before I order it. If any of you out there have the book, maybe you could post a note in the comments and advise me. I'd appreciate it.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Space: 1970 in GEEK Magazine

One of my other (and more popular) blogs, Space: 1970, has received a positive, brief write-up in the latest issue of GEEK magazine, a very slick publication on newsstands now.

I find it interesting that they refer to the "retro-hipness" of the site, when the material I cover over there certainly wasn't considered very "hip" or cool when it was new. I got called lots of unpleasant names ("geek" being among the least offensive) back in the 1970s for liking that stuff. I also got beat up on occasion and had lots of comic books, Star Trek paperbacks and Starlog magazines stolen from me and torn up in my face. More than a few adult authority figures berated me for my interest in science-fiction and other escapist entertainment, calling me stupid for wasting my time with it.

It's nice that I've lived to see a day when there is such a thing as "geek culture," when Star Wars and Star Trek are undisputed mass-market, mainstream entertainments and big-budget super-hero films have become Hollywood's most anticipated blockbusters. And it's way cool that my own silly little ramblings online are considered a notable (or foot-notable) part of that pop cultural shift.

Still, it would be nicer if I hadn't had to get beaten up so much back then....