Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Post No. 517"

A SHORT REVIEW OF: Wormwood the Gentleman Corpse: Birds, Bees, Blood & Beer trade paperback collection, IDW Publications, 2008, written and illustrated by Ben Templesmith, collecting the original limited series.

"Wormwood" (the name is from a reference in the Biblical book Revelation, written by St. John) is certainly a character not meant for everyone to enjoy. He's actually a worm who inhabits and animates a well-dressed corpse, and has a couple of buddies, one of which ("Trotsky") closely resembles occultist Guido Von List.

This character and his entourage investigate a case where a demon has left a wake of mutilated corpses, all of which had been "seeded" (much like in the "Aleins" films), causing them to burst apart with NEW destructive creatures.

It's gory, a bit nasty, and fun as hell for those who are into this sort'a dark and goth-type of humor, but nothing meant for the whole family (unless perhaps you have an uncle named "Fester").

Templesmith is well-known for his painted graphics and made quite a hit previously on the series "30 days of Night" of which was made into a so-so alright horror flick.

Definately a PG collection. :^D

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Post No. 516"

In 1986 I was still deep into the small press publishing biz', trying to get my work out there "somehow" and let people see it, with dreams that I may someday make it as a comic book artist once someone took notice of my ambition.

During that time I started a 10 issue digest-sized limited series called Kelpie, which was all about the quest of a Celtic demi-elemental attempting to travel back to the time of the crucifixion of Christ to stop it from happening, as that was the beginning of the end of the faeries existence on Earth ( see above scan of the cover to issue #2) .

Unfortunately, although this series opened to some rave reviews by Small Press Comics Explosion magazine publisher, Tim Corrigan, the story sort of played itself out too quickly and I discontinued and tied up the series with the final issue of #7.

Now, a "kelpie" is based on the ancient Scottish legend of water elementals which took the form of a horse ( in Ireland they were known as Aughisky) . In Scotland they were a bit of a prankster, luring people to ride them where they'd take off in a start and then dunk them in a lake. The Irish version was less admirable as they'd drown their victims and then devour them all save for the liver!

But, digressing aside...
I watched a recent flick called The Water Horse, upon which legends of kelpies are based. Today we call the same legendary creature the lochness monster", or, "Nessie", and supposingly it still dwells within the deep inland loch in Scotland, and is claimed to occasionally be seen rising from those depths.

This movie deals with a small boy who lives next to the loch during World War II, who finds this egg which hatches into a baby "Nessie", and the tales the locals have about this is that once in every lifetime of such a creature it lays a single egg then dies, and that egg hatches to grow (very quickly in fact) into a new "Water Horse".

This story about a child and his friendship with this creature is one of the best written family films I've seen in a long time. It's not one of those tear-jerkers, but has a decent script and the acting is fine. The background scenery is breath-taking at times, and the realism of the Scottish army and their uniforms, machinery, etc., has all been well researched. The special effects are outstanding.

It's the sort of film that anyone in the family at any age can enjoy and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Post No. 515"

Preceeding the modern paperback book, there were these magazines, roughly the width and height of a comic book, filled with a couple hundred pages of text, and printed on very cheap paper, and they usually had lurid and colorful covers. They were called: pulp magazines.

And, as with paperbacks and comic books, pulp magazines had various themes; western, romance, detective, adventure, heroic, etc., etc., and, of course, science-fiction and fantasy.

In the pages of one such title in the 1930's, in a pulp titled, Weird Tales, there appeared some horror stories written by one H. P. Lovecraft, whose main theme consisted of tales regarding "elder gods" and the old magics and the like. In his various stories he refered to an archane tome of magic spells and enchantments which he called The Necronomicon. The problem was ... Lovecraft was so good and convincing a writer, that people started hunting for a copy of said book supposingly written by the mad arab, although it actually didn't exist. Lovecraft had just made it up to make his stories more interesting.

But with demand, comes supply, so other writers decided that if there was indeed no such book, that one should be created. Thus over the years we've seen various incarnations.

As I recall, in the 1970's, the scifi publication, Heavy Metal, even offered a limited hardcover of this for sale, illustrated by the great H. R. Giger (of "Aliens" design fame, as well as many l.p. jackets). And thus, in the year of 1977, so did Avon Books publish their own version in paperback format.

218 pages in length and originally priced at $3.50, this paperback contained what was supposed to be ancient magical symbols and spells and the testimony of the mad arab himself, cashing in on the growing trend of the time of those poor, pitiful, low self-extemed souls who believed in such (mostly I would assume that by reading it, it'd give them some power and abilities far beyond those of mortal men and control over those who made their lives miserable) who had turned to black magic or escaping reality into The New Age Movement.

"Whatever"... there were those who did believe in such things and still some that very heavily believe in such nonsense to this date much to the joy and fattening on the pocketbooks of publishers who want the general public to except such hogwash as something real.

This book should be placed in the fiction catagory, and would make a good companion book to your collection of fiction by Lovecraft. Or use it to impress your friends that you own such a book of terrible power!(*heh*)

And when they ask, "You mean such a thing full of archane knowledge is available to ANYONE in a widely distributed paperback volume??!!", simply reply, "Well, sure. They sell paperback volumes of The Holy Bible, don't they?"

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Post No. 514"

Rest easy George Carlin. I'm sure God is telling you the 7 words you can't say in Heaven.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Post No. 513"


New Rating System:

X^D = Best book I've read this week.

:^D = Not the "very" best book I've read this week, but really good.

:^) = Entertaining enuff for the cover price.

:^\ = Worth about 1/2 of the cover price to read.

X^( = Crap.

Fantastic Four (Marvel) #557 The team of Millar and Hitch doing this title suits me fine. Hitch's artwork has a lot of realism and detail, and usually Millar's scripts are pretty fast paced. The story this issue was just a tad too fast-paced however in the battle scene. The next issue promises better with the return of "Dr. Doom"./$2.99 :^D

Futurama Comics (Bongo) #37 The usual kraziness of the Groening creation. Each issue is always full of some silliness, where in this one it begins with the Futurama gang being chased by a living planet which resembles a "Pac-Man". As usual there's plenty of larceny by "Bender"./$2.99 :^D

Giant-Size Incredible Hulk (Marvel) #1Entertaining enuff tale of a reporter, writing a book about the misunderstood Hulk, and his adventure while going around interviewing other people who have had "close encounters" with the jade one. Nice reprint in the back of the issue from HULK ANNUAL #7(1978) featuring "The Angel & iceman" with John Byrne artwork from his prime period./$3.99 :^)

Hulk VS Hercules (Marvel) #1one-shot I think I liked the way Hercules was portrayed in this one-shot better than I did The Hulk, but there is a nice silver-age reprint from Tales to Astonish #79 (w/Bill Everett artwork) as a backup./$3.99 :^)

Justice League of America (DC) #21 in which an old adversary of "The Martian Manhunter" called "The Human Flame" is invited to join the newest version of "The INJustice League". Not the usual good quality I've come to expect from this title./$2.99 :^\

Marvel Spotlight: HULK Movie one-shot (no #) is pretty much just a waste of time unless you're really into The Hulk./$3.99 X^(

Supergirl (DC) #29 Continues to be pretty well written and illustrated, but there's just not enuff "meat" to the current storyline and it reads way too fast./$2.99 :^)

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Post No. 512"

Watched a couple more recent flicks, "The Golden Compass", and "10,000 B.C.".

You know..., had these movies been capable of being produced as they are say, 25 years ago, they'd been hailed as some of the finest achievements in films, even far above what the original "Star Wars" was in its ground-breaking special effects...but---

Here in this day and age of special effects being common place (and, yes, perhaps I'm just being a bit jaded by saying this), these flicks seem to be nothing really special or memorable.

It's not like the special effects weren't excellant in each of these movies. In "10,000 B.C.", we could believe the Woolly Mammoths, Smilodons and other gigantic prehistoric animals, and the pyramids and costuming, etc., etc. looked great. In "The Golden Compass", as well, all of these computer-generated effects appeared believable. But now we've all come to expect that in every new film which deals with fantasy adventure.

Much the same way we now expect that highest of quality in every animated film that's being produced. No longer are we the children of the 1960-70's that were happy with the rather clumsy animation of "Super Friends", or the low-tech effects of "Ultraman". It's not that we don't think still that these shows weren't classics of their times any less than we still think that such serials as "Flash Gordon" of "Captain Marvel" were just downright terrific. But. Compared to what can be achieved today, these products are primative.

Perhaps I would be much more impressed if Hollywood didn't use computers to make their special effects at all. Ray Harryhausen didn't use them in any movie he worked on, and they are all indeed classic films for the time and effort in which went into their production. The original 1933 "King Kong" didn't use them. "The Posiden Adventure" didn't use them. "Gone With The Wind", "The Ten Commandments", etc., etc., didn't use them. Why must film producers reply so heavily on them now?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Post No. 511"

The above pictured comic was a giveaway produced back in the 1950's by an accordion company trying to get young people interested in learning how to play one of them. It was a time of shows like Laurence Welk, and a time of polkas and clean cut looking kids having parties filled with that krazy new music called "rock & roll", and refreshments were punch in mom's cut-glass bowl sitting on an adorned table covered with white linen.

Guys wore ties and gals wore petticoats, and naturally if one could learn how to play "Lady of Spain" he was more apt to get to second base than even the jock who hit the winning homer against Central High.

I can only imagine a scene from this comic going:

"Gee, Bob! That looks like fun!"

"And easy, too, Barb! Just hold it in your hands and squeeze it together!"


"Gosh, Barb'! Don't hold the accordion so close to your chest!!"

Moving right along...I watched Will Smith in "I Am Legend", which was an okay flick even if it did use that the same old theme of "last man on Earth and everyone else in a vampire". Dare I say it? Smith actually looked like he was showing a little emotion in this movie for a change. It's certainly not something I give a real high rating to, but good for that .99 rental sometime when you have nothing better to do.

In an auction win I copped a copy of the 1969 DC Sugar & Spike #85, which was the first of the S&S Giants and the only silver-age Giant in this title. I think I only need a couple of SA DC Giants having all of them (both humor titles).

Another interesting book I picked up at the local flea market was a British X-Men album which reprints (in color) Uncanny X-men #'s 56 & 57 with artwork by Neal Adams. The Adams issues were the last highlight of this team in the 1960's, soon back to mundane stories for a handful of issues before the oblivion of many a reprint before finally the new team was introduced in issue #94. Odd how the sales on that title were so bad that it faced total cancellation "back then", but later became one of the hard cornerstones of Marvel's capital.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Post No. 510"

My Cacti Garden survived yet another cold Ky. Winter and has returned with a vengence! There's so many blooms this year you can't hardly see the cacti themselves! I don't do a single thing special about making anything grow in this yard; just seems like things sprout up naturally around me. All of our flowers and bushes are in bloom this year giving the yard a variety of color.

Well...I watched the "Iron Man" flick. No, I won't give out any "spoilers" for those who haven't seen it yet, but I really do recommend that you do if you like the character. It's very true to the comics (save for the necessary updating of the origin), and has some nice tie-in lines for other Marvel characters from the title.

(Stan's cameo this time is pretty short so look quick!)

And today since my wife and I were both off from work, and she wanted to go see a craft show set up at Park City, Ky. (about 12 miles South from where we live on HWY 31W). It's location was at a historic site there called "Bell's Tavern, a large tavern and boarding house which was built in the 1800's, but now which stands in ruins.

I hadn't been there for a good 25 years and was amazed at how much larger it was than I remembered. This was a stagecaoch stop for many famous visitors of Mammoth Cave back in those days.

Besides craft and food booths set up, there was amusements for the kids, bluegrass music, and a large display of antique tractors (probably 50 of them) ranging as far back as the 1930's. We didn't stay too long; maybe an hour. My wife bought a couple of little craft items and I walked around the tavern, looking it over, and back home for some lunch.

Changing the subject back to comics for a moment, I was looking over some listings on eBay in their graphic novels and trade paperback section and noticed that there's not a single collection listed of DC's great silver-age series The Sea Devils. This is one of those old titles that I remember buying a lot of issues of as I did many of the other DC non-superpowered character teams like Blackhawk and Challengers, and I'd really like to see a collected volume ( or two ) of these, especially in color since most of the scenes dealt with action under water. There was a lot of really good artwork by Russ Heath who did all three of the Showcase tryouts as well as all of the artwork for the first ten issues, and the covers all the way to #16. Sort'a sad that there's not enough appreciation of this work to warrent such a collected volume.

And finally...

Today we got in our tax insentive rebate check. Why---there's enuff there for me to retire! (Yeah...sure...) 'Course, my wife will still have to work the rest of her life (*heh*).

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Post No. 509"

REVIEWING: Kirby:King of Comics, by Mark Evanier, 224 pages, $40.00, over-sized hardcover with color dust jacket, Abrams Books, 2008, Introduction by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated.

Anyone that doesn't like the work of Jack Kirby is a communist.

Alright. I guess that's a bit too strong, but anyone that can't appreciate the life's work of an artist such as Kirby, truely can't appreciate comic books.

Mark Evanier has done a very fine job compiling this material which covers every aspect of the life and work of the late and great Jack Kirby, from his early years growing up, to his work at various companies through the Golden Age of the 1940's, the "atomic age" of the 1950's, all of his silver-age and various characters he either created or co-created for Marvel, his 4th. World stuff for DC in the 1970's and all the way up until his final days. It is truely an awesome summary of a man's life and work.

The volume contains hundreds of color and B&W illustrations from Kirby, plus many photographs, covers, newspaper strips, raw sketches and unused cover illustrations, etc., etc., as well as a lot of information regarding the creator and even Mark's own relationship with him. I really can't praise this collection enough except to say that if you love comics, then you'll want a copy.

Of course I give it a A+ Rating.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Post No. 507"

REVIEWING: Fray, written by: Josh Whedon, art by Karl Moline & Andy Owens, Dark Horse TPB reprinting the 8 issue limited series, 2003, 180+ pages or so, softcover, color, $19.95..

I know there's a LOT of fans of "Buffy the Vampire", and even I will admit that I enjoyed, and have even watched more than one time, the original movie. But when it came to the television series I simply was not a fan. So perhaps my opinion regarding this series by Buffy creator, Josh Whedon, leans a bit towards the negative. Because, "Fray", to put it simply, is just Buffy set in the future.

The origin of this Fray character is that she's a chosen slayer (of vampires, of course). She doesn't know this at first. In fact, Matilda Fray is a professional thief who in this story is confronted by a demon named "Urkonn" who tells her of her heritage. The reason she doesn't know this is because she was born of twins and her brother had the ancient memories while she had all of the fighting prowess and strength and agility.

Fray's tragedy was that in the past she and her brother were attacked by a master vampire whom she thought had killed her brother, but in fact, had turned him into a vampire. In a way...

Her brother realizing that the vampire was going to kill him, bite the vampire himself and fed off of his blood, thus saving his "undead" life and giving him the vampiric transmutation.

She doesn't know this though. Both Fray as well as her older sister (who's a member of the police force), both think her brother's dead until the time of this tale when they discover that he has become the new leader of the undead and is trying to usher in a new age of dark majicks.

The story relates the origin of "the slayers", in that in early days of Earth's history, magic ruled, but eventually the human life overtook it and the demons all went into another dimension, save for the vampires who were looked upon as "the cursed". So a few of the humans had learned magic enough to create a slayer that would reincarnate in any time era when the need arose to defeat an over-powering vampire menace. Buffy was just one in a long line of such, and Fray was the current slayer.

The artwork is passable enough by Moline and Owens. It even reminds me a little of Matt Wagner's from time-to-time, but the story itself was just sort of run of the mill "kill dem vampires stuff" that I've seen used way all too often.

I'd only give it a "C" trying to grade this, but I'm sure Buffy fans would give it an "A+".

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Post No. 506"

REVIEWING: Michael Moorcock's Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer trade paperback collection, DC Comics, 2006, approx. 200 pages, Illustrated by Walter Simonson, color by Steve Oliff and Lettering by John Workman.

This trade paperback contains the compilation of issues 1 thru 4 of the 2004 lmited series by DC. Each issue revolves around a Dream-Quest, four of which that "Elric of Melibone" must survive before he's worthy to one day become the new ruler of his land.

For those unfamiliar with the character, "Elric", he's the creation of writer Michael Moorcock and is the star of a number of sword & sorcery paperbacks.

The difference between say Elric and Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian", is that Elric was born very weak and an albino. Just the act of birth killed his mother, the Queen of Melibone. So Elric studied various majicks and sorcery to gain his power, rather than the pure force of brawn.

Elric's curse, however, was an ebody blade called "Stormbringer", which was a gift from the god of choas, "Arioch", and the blade not only killed his enemies but gained strength and power by stealing its victims souls. In the Elric books, it was eventually his downfall.

This collected series of comics deals with Elric's life before all of the paperback adventures began, and is the origin of how he first came by this cursed blade as well as his first encounter with the god of chaos.

In each of the "Dream-Quests", he lives a different life in the form of one of his ancestors, and it is through these various dreams that, on the subconscious level last from one to several years, he gains new knowledge to eventually make him capable of being a leader of his people.

Unfortunately for Elric, his evil uncle also has this as a goal, and attacks Elric in various guises while in a dream state of his own.

It's probably been a good 30 years or better since I read the original Elric series, as well as other series written by Michael Moorcock, but I found this trade paperback adaptation of his work very good and faithful in both appearance and character of "Elric".

Walt Simonson's artwork reminded me a lot of the late Cara Sherman-Tereno (see Tribute in my "links" column), with the fine line work needed to make a believable Elric, and Oliff's coloring combined with Workman's fine lettering made this whole collection a smooth and easy read.

Although it's been many years since I seriously enjoyed anything with a S&S flavor, I still would give this a B+ to A- Rating and a good recommendation as an action-packed adventure story.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Post No. 505"

REVIEWING: Batmobile Owner's Manual, by: Mike McAvennie (31 page hardcover, DK-DC Books, 2008, $19.99).

I admit it. I'm a real sucker when it comes to anything to do about The Batmobile.

I have a large personal collection of various Batmobiles; at least 60-75 different ones that range from the 1960's on up. I have die-casts, and remote controlled ones, plastic models, Mego and Hot Wheels. They're from every time period imaginable that represent this legendary vehicle. (I have one scarce RED battery-operated one worth a couple of C-Notes!) I've even gone to see two of the original Batmobiles that were used in the 1960's t.v. show. So right off I'm very biased to enjoy this book.

And it didn't let me down.

It begins with a 3-D cover, then contains all sorts of extras within its pages. Such as a blueprint for the vehicle, color swatches, foldouts, diagrams of both the entire car as well as the dashboard instruments, listings of weapon and anti-thief systems, the forensic laboratory, the engine diagram, a complete detailed lay-out of The Bat-Cave where it's kept, plus designs of the various models that have been used since its inseption in 1940.

The artwork is by Richard Chasemoore, EJ Su, Mathew at, John Mullancy, and Matt Dartford did the modeling for the front cover.

It's gaudy, over-sized, and over-priced for its content, and it's just simply wonderful! An "A+!" Rating from me.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Post No. 504"

REVIEWING: The Complete Persepolis, written & illustrated by: Marjane Satrapi (2007, Pantheon Books, 341 pages, B&W, softbound TPB, $24.95).

Recently I sat down over a few nights of reading and finished The Total Persepolis.(Click Here to get a historic reference to the name Persepolis.)

This is a true account of the life of Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian woman, from the age of 10 to 24 years of age. It's the tale of her growing up in Iran in the 1980-90's, her friends, the Iranian government, her travels abroad, her education, her family, and her growth as an individual.

It is a book that should be read by everyone that lives in a free country and enjoys (and mostly takes advantage) of their many liberties.

In this country we seldom consider these precious liberties. Get awake every morning to dress as we please, eat what we wish, worship as we like, and say what we will. If these liberties we suddenly taken from us, most would go mad. What must it feel like to grow up within a society where such rules are dictated by their government?

We think we have it "bad" here in the U.S. what with high gasoline prices and groceries more costly every week. How would it feel to go to the grocery and have the store empty of food?

And, if you're a woman, what would it feel like to have to cover every square inch of your body with a heavy frock? To be considered a woman of very loose morals if you got divorced? And if you got divorced, the husband having all the power he wishes to take your children and property?

How would it feel if you were told what you could study in school? There are so very many freedoms that those who live in a democratic society take for granted all the time.

This book tells you how to appreciate the freedoms you have, and not in a preachy sort of way. It shows you how much they can mean to a person that has lived in a society where freedom is very limited.

We here in the states tend to group everyone together. We think that if we have a war going on somewhere in the world (and usually, that's the case), that everyone in that country hates our guts, loves their "Godless leaders" and the live-styles which they have with that country. They never consider how the common person, the one who goes out everyday just to work and make a living for their families, to eat and have a roof over their heads, may feel. They don't consider that people everywhere, are actually very much alike.

And no, not everyone feels that way. There are fanatics everywhere in this world. We have very many of them right here within our own political system. We all basically believe the same way: that whichever god we worship has our backs.

Many have put this material alongside of Art Spiegleman's Maus. They are similiar in some ways. Both Maus and Persepolis involve the common person trapped within war situations and both regard the fate of their families and friends. The difference between the two is that the tale of Maus is one that was lived and then retold to another. The tale of Persepolis is one that was lived by the author.