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


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Cover: Space Western!

Two great tastes that taste great together - Charlton Comics' 1952 Space Western! This book ran six issues and featured Spurs Jackson and His Space Vigilantes, who battled alien invaders, Commies and Nazis (in space)! And that's all I know - except that these covers were drawn by Stan Campbell - because I've never read an issue! Looks like fun, though!

I'm going to have to check out the public domain comics archive, Comic Book Plus, and see if I can read some of these Spurs Jackson adventures...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Stand by for Adventure... PERILS ON PLANET X!

Back in February, I launched the Perils On Planet X webcomic, with new, free, full-color comics pages posted every Friday. The first chapter of that swashbuckling space saga ("Captives Of the Corsair Queen") concluded after 24 weeks (with nary a missed update!), on July 12th. (The whole first chapter is still available, by the way, if you want to catch up... and it's free, as always!)

Chapter Two, "Flight Into Terror," will begin on August 2nd. The creative team remains the same: Yours Truly, writer; Gene Gonzales, artist; and Ian Sokoliwski, colorist.

In "Flight Into Terror," time-tossed Earth astronaut Donovan Hawke and the beautiful Xylosian princess, Odyri, make a daring escape from the aerial city of the savage Strato-Pirates, only to find themselves lost in a vast, untamed, alien jungle. "Flight" will run for 28 weeks, and is packed with action and excitement, including raygun battles, aerial dogfights, giant monsters, jetpacks, lost cities... and savage, sanguinary simians.

I hope you'll join us next Friday, and even more, I hope you'll enjoy the adventure enough to share the comic with your friends (and your enemies - I'm not picky!).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Return of Charlie Chan

It's been about three years since the last DVD release, but four more late-period Charlie Chan mysteries from Monogram Studios are coming to DVD in a couple of weeks (August 6th), courtesy of Warner Home Entertainment's latest Charlie Chan Collection

I've never seen any of these four particular crime capers - Shadows Over Chinatown, Docks Of New Orleans, Shanghai Chest and The Golden Eye - which were produced on a shoestring by the legendary Poverty Row studio, but as an unrepentant B-mystery & Chan fan, I'm looking forward to adding them to my collection. (Even if three of them star the somnambulant Roland Winters, by far the least-interesting of the actors who portrayed the Honolulu detective.)

They're arriving right in the nick of time, too, as I've just finished watching the last of the Falcon mysteries, starring Tom Conway, and produced by RKO, and I'll be needing some fresh material for my nightly Late Movies.

Pre-order from Amazon: Charlie Chan: Collection

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Boy Of Steel

The fine folks at Warner Archive have recently released the third season of the 1989-1992 syndicated (The Adventures of) Superboy television series on manufactured-on-demand DVD. I've written about the series here on the blog before, so you already know that I'm a fan of the show. I dig it's Silver Age-styled stories (the writers understood Kal El's character a lot better than his current corporate and creative custodians, that's for sure) -- honestly, I'd rather watch this show over Smallville any day.

The third season was - as I recall - the best, with college students Clark Kent (Gerard Christopher) and Lana Lang (Stacy Haiduk) going to work as interns for a government agency known as the Bureau For Extranormal Matters. The tone (and cinematography) of the series got a lot darker (probably influenced, like the prime-time Flash series of the same vintage, by the success of Tim Burton's Batman the year before), and the stories were a lot more interesting, including a few where Superboy travels to alternate Earths and discovers different paths he could have taken - in one, he's killed Lex Luthor (Sherman Howard) and in another, he rules the Earth as the tyrannical "Sovereign." He also encounters an adult version of himself, played by Ron Ely (TV's Tarzan and the big screen's Doc Savage)!

The picture quality on the DVDs is pretty good, but suffer from the late-80s production methods of shooting on film, but transferring the footage to video for editing and post-production special effects. This results in an unavoidably soft image overall. Still, it's great to see these shows again, since, due to a bunch of legal wranglings in the 90s, these shows never aired in U.S. after their original run.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dennis Farina R.I.P.

I am saddened today to hear of the passing of actor Dennis Farina. Farina died Monday morning in a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital after suffering a blood clot in his lung, according to his publicist. He was 69.

Like just about everyone else, I first witnessed his talent and screen presence when he played hardboiled police Lieutenant Mike Torello on Michael Mann's seminal period police drama, Crime Story series back in 1986. A true-life ex-Chicago cop, Farina brought hard-earned verisimilitude to his mob-busting, tough guy role.

Farina went on to play a wide variety of tough cops and criminals - sometimes comically (as in Get Shorty) - in dozens of television shows and films, including Code Of Silence, Manhunter, Snatch, and Midnight Run. He was well known for his recurring role on Law and Order, but I most fondly remember him as the titular character in Mark Frost's short-lived 1998 private eye series, Buddy Faro.

I'm definitely going to miss the guy. Rest in peace, sir.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Cover: STAR TREK

I recently came across a bunch of scans of George Wilson artwork for Gold Key comics. Wilson was a highly prolific illustrator who was Gold Key's go-to guy for cover art. He produced hundreds of cover paintings - for comics, paperbacks and magazines - in his long career, and every single one of them was exceptional.

The scans, which I've been posting occasionally on my Facebook page, included original art for titles like Tarzan, Space Family Robinson, Magnus, Dark Shadows, Turok, Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff, and Doctor Solar. Among them was this painting for Issue #15 of the company's Star Trek comic book.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Strange Adventures On Other Planets

I love this Fox Features in-house ad trumpeting the then-forthcoming Rex Dexter Of Mars solo title - 64 pages in full color! I've got a soft spot in my comics-lovin' heart for old Rex because, compared to cosmic heroes like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and John Carter, Dick Briefer's interplanetary adventurer was basically a big screw-up!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pulp, Atomic-Style

It's no secret that as a writer I've had a few rough years, and haven't been nearly as prolific/productive as I'd like. There are a lot of reasons for that - many (if not most) of them of my own making. As per my New Year's resolution, 2013 has been all about the Atomic Pulp brand - i.e. finishing up the creator-owned comics projects that had been languishing (Gravedigger & Perils On Planet X), reviving older properties (Femme Noir), and getting started on some new projects that have percolating in my brain for a long, long time (Skorpion, "The Issue #200 Project," Star Busters, Young Felons In Love).

With half the year already gone, I haven't made quite as much progress as I'd hoped, but with the Gravedigger and Perils On Planet X comics running weekly online, I've at least made real headway on those particular projects and have raised my profile a tiny bit. I'm currently working on a new Femme Noir graphic novel, which I'll be sending to artist Joe Staton around the end of the month (I hope!) and have started plotting a new Gravedigger caper that both Rick Burchett and I are quite psyched about.

I also am working on plans to re-present the already-existing Femme Noir comic book material, and should have some news on that front shortly.

If I can keep my shit together, I should be able to get to work on new stuff by mid-Autumn (the above-mentioned "Issue #200 Project," Star Busters and Young Felons In Love), and maybe, in 2014, I can start looking for freelance comics work again (assuming anyone would be interested in hiring me).

In many ways, I'm my own worst enemy, allowing myself to get discouraged too easily, and letting that discouragement paralyze me for ridiculously long periods of time. I'm working hard to get past that, though. I just turned 48 years old this week, and there are so many stories I still want to tell....

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gravedigger's Gold Key

I had so much fun mocking up that Gold Key Comics-styled Femme Noir cover yesterday, that last night I dusted off the terrific, painted Gravedigger: The Scavengers variant cover by my friend Fred Harper, and knocked out this retro/faux Gravedigger piece. There's something kinda subversive about seeing the squeaky-clean Gold Key trade dress & logo on this hardboiled title...

Don't forget, Gravedigger is available to read free online every week (new pages on Mondays) at www.gravediggercomic.com!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Noir In The Key Of Gold

My pal Steve Bryant was sharing some faux-retro, Golden Age Athena Voltaire covers on his Facebook page today. It made me want to play around in Photoshop, too, so I whipped up this variant of the second issue of the Femme Noir miniseries from a few years back, in the style of old Gold Key Comics.The art is by Joe Staton and Alfredo Lopez Jr.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Adventures On Other Worlds

My birthday was earlier this week, and I was fortunate to receive a little cash as gifts from various family members. As I usually do around my birthday & Christmas time, I decided to pick up a few graphic novels. This year, my focus was almost entirely on the interplanetary adventure genre.

I ordered two John Carter Of Mars comics collections from Dark Horse Comics. The first of these, Weird Worlds, collects all of the Carter stories published by DC Comics in the early 1970s, while the other volume presents nearly the entire run of Marvel Comics' series from the latter half of that decade. The Marvel John Carter, Warlord Of Mars book was one of my favorite comic book series of all time (along with their Star Wars series of the same vintage), and I've long wanted a square-bound collection of those Barsoomian chronicles for my bookshelf.

The other two trade paperbacks I sprung for were from Dynamite Comics, a company that I've had mixed feelings about in the past. Exploiting the public domain status of Burroughs' early novels, they've been publishing their own Carter comics for the past few years. I've never read any of their Mars books, but I took a chance on Warriors Of Mars because I was intrigued by the premise. In this book they've dusted off Edwin Arnold's Gullivar Jones (protagonist of Lieut. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation, a Martian adventure novel published more than a decade before Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess Of Mars), and introduced him to John Carter's milieu. Scholars have long noted the similarites between Arnold's novel and Burroughs' subsequent Martian tales, so I'm intrigued by the idea of seeing the two works/characters combined.

I also picked up the collection of their Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist miniseries, because I've read that the Alex Ross-plotted tale incorporates a lot of story elements from the 1980 Flash Gordon movie and the 1979 Filmation animated television feature. I happen to like both of those versions, and I know that Ross is a huge Flash fan, so I'm curious to see how that series turned out.

With luck, most of these books will be here by the weekend! 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Get Ready...This is For Real!


Booyah! This is the best Pacific Rim trailer yet! Apparently, it's not testing well with mainstream audiences, who see it as a "Transformers rip-off." I feel very sad for anyone whose pulse doesn't race in anticipation of witnessing giant robots battling giant monsters on the big screen. Poor devils.