Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Here's how I recently ended a discussion* with a co-worker who stated she didn't like music by the Divinyls and preferred other 1980s New Wave bands.

"You're an idiot! Christina Amphlett has enough wild talent to incorporate 1950s science fiction movie sound effects into her vocalizations by creating Techno-Scat! Amphlett didn't imitate the usual jazz instruments like traditional Scat artists. Instead she imitated Hollywood's classic representations of alien machinery, lab equipment and suspenseful scene background music and made it all part of the song, effortlessly inserting the unique vocals as emphasis on different words in each verse. Face it, with one tune Amphlett managed to completely humiliate the entire output all those other Road Warrior-inspired novelty acts! How did Dale Bozzio give her singing a New Wave edge? By dressing like Max Headroom in drag and imitating a robot with the hiccups!"
Here's the proof that Christina rules over all others.


Science Fiction - Divinyls (1983)

* Actually, she got in the last words, which were "Whatever. F***k you!" Still, a win is a win in my book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only a brave man would dare

Click the picture to make a big, freaking issue over nothing!

Eyeful #6 (June 1946).

Monday, October 27, 2008

I think people are the endangered species

"So, Dad. What's with that big eagle head you mounted on your dashboard?"

"I like it. It's watching over me."

"Sure. Say, after the car crash who do you think will be watching over you when they pull that beak out of your chest, the Paramedic or the Coroner?"


That bird is as bad an idea as that Visor Angel thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Morbius reads Final Crisis

Just because Morbius is a vampire doesn't mean he isn't also a fanboy!

I dig what Morbius is thinking in the page above. For the record I'm also liking Final Crisis, though I am not as enamored about the NEW GHETTO GODZ as some.

Vampire Tales #7 (October 1974).

Waiting for the DVD box set

One of the aspects of concern to the comic book industry are those fans who, rather than read their funny books piecemeal, prefer to wait for the collected edition to be published. This is done for various reasons but I don't like my comic books that way. I don't want to wait 6 months for an event to be over to read it, I need my weekly fix.

I am however starting to understand that philosophy when it comes to television shows.

Years ago before cable television the Station Identification spot was something done between commercials. Since there were basically only 3 major networks and one or two others in a local market it was more to comply with broadcasting regulations than to remind the viewer what network they were tuned to. Later, as a hundred or more stations became available cable networks were rightly concerned that viewers didn't know, could not keep track or cared what station they were watching. So the channel identifier began to appear. The channel identifier was originally a logo that remained in the picture somewhere and was initially received as annoying and intrusive. It usually hovered in the lower right corner of the screen. It made people angry and also discouraged some people from copying a show on VHS. For a time it was thought the logo would turn off those who watched recorded shows and also served to mark any recording as a copy and not an original tape.

Very quickly providers responded to the complaints that the logo was in the way and was degrading enjoyment of their shows. Of the few channels I watched back then the SciFi network was the most clever in how they used the logos. When a show returned from a commercial break the logo appeared in full view and remained for only a few moments before fading to near invisibility, appearing as a watermark which could be easily ignored. After a few years most providers realized the channel identifier was a wasted opportunity for advertising. Now that people were used to the logo on the screen the companies felt that the opportunity to annoy their customers was something that could not be overlooked. The small logo became once again bothersome and intrusive.

With increasing frequency animated banner ads slide, linger and flicker across the television screen during a show. The amount and style of the advertisements have become ridiculous. In the two examples provided here from the SciFi channel the ads take up about half the screen and each one lingers for a few seconds too long. Formerly a minor nuisance they are now large enough and intrusive enough to ruin the enjoyment of watching a show. There have been instances on some networks and this show that I personally witnessed when a prop or reveal of a dramatic moment has been eclipsed by an advertisement for some upcoming program or appeal to buy items from the show at the official website.

So after watching Stargate: Atlantis last night and getting all cranky I decided from now on to pretty much wait for the season DVD to be issued before watching that show again and a few others I follow. The ever-present channel logo, is for the most part something I can ignore with little difficulty. But now the logos are now routinely used as the anchors for spamming banner ads and pop-ups for various shows and products, something that has caused entire computer companies to be created to combat on our personal computers.

I'm only one ornery dude but there are a lot of people on the fence about turning on their televisions anyway and regular viewership numbers are constantly falling even against new content and more channels than ever before. Maybe these companies need to think about not irritating their viewership and customers any more than they absolutely have to. After all, using a simple browser add-on removes 99% of all advertising and spam from internet sites and people routinely hack past the commercials on their digital television recorders. Given the technology available to the average consumer I'd propose that it wouldn't take much for the Era of Advertising to be entirely a thing of the past.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The New Scarlet Letter

It is too bad that the folksy folks that Republicans court are so anti-science. If the GOP base embraced SCIENCE a bit more the race-baiting scam that John McCain enthusiast Ashley Todd perpetrated may have been successful beyond any campaign managers' wildest, Rove-like power fantasies. Instead, the ill-thought out and poorly executed plan by Ashley to gain support for her candidate by inciting fear, one of the few tactics Republicans understand, backfired and will surely result in some people voting for Obama.

A little bit of SCIENCE would have ensured the hoax would have worked or at least had survived more time under media inspection. SCIENCE is a good part of everyday life in spite of some people insisting everything is derived from a mystical origin. Here are some aspects of SCIENCE that if factored in to the scam, would have prevented it from blowing up in her face like some sort of experimental-thing gone wrong.

BIOLOGY: People were not zapped into existence with interior workings formed of a single uniform substance like wax or, say, clay. People are full of meaty, brothy stuff. One of those things people are full of is the brain. While many people eschew the brain, I assume Ms. Todd possessed one. Too bad she didn't use it that day.

OPTICS: Like brains, eyeballs have been around for millions of years. Todd missed the opportunity to use them effectively. A quick examination by Todd in any mirror would have revealed that something was wrong with her artwork and that the letter B was reversed. Then again, all the Republicans I know don't actually look at themselves in reflective surfaces since they would then have a hard time living with themselves. I wouldn't be surprised to find strips of newspaper strategically taped over much of the mirrors in Todd's home, leaving only enough shiny surface to reflect a bit of her cheek. It's easier to avoid meeting their own gaze that way.

Here's my Ashley Todd joke:

"Wow. The guys who own that company must be totally rich!"
"What company is that, Ashley?"
"Ecnalubma. They must have at least five cars at every hospital in America!"

HISTORY: Morton Downey Jr. tried a similar scam a number of years ago. He got busted for it because of stupidity. Those who forget history are dumb and will repeat it. One of the things I learned over the years about criminals and grifters is that usually more than one person is required to be successful in any shifty endeavor. This is because from the viewpoint of the perp everything makes perfect logical sense because what they plan and execute fits perfectly their preconceptions of how things are. Many crimes are solved simply by someone else observing that the claims or circumstances do not fit in with reality.

TECHNOLOGY: As fallible as the internet can be when performing research a couple of simple search terms like "McCain" and "President" would have returned thousands of pages of wacky results and their content would have revealed to Ashley what a bad idea she was entertaining. Also, ATM machines have cameras now.

Fortunately for America, this time evoking fear ensured failure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Love me not

Art Photography Magazine (April 1952).

Thick As Thieves soundtrack

One of the unfortunate effects of a dismal box-office return is that a studio will decide not to create marketing tie-ins or produce an original soundtrack of the songs featured in the film. While a great soundtrack can get people in the theaters sometimes a studio will decide whatever marketing tie-ins there might be are not worth the financial risk. This has happened with several films over the years, particularly in the earlier-Internet era, when it wasn't so easy to sell items online or push physical items out of the brick-and-mortar stores.

One film that suffered from not having an OST issued was the 1998 Alec Baldwin vehicle Thick As Thieves. For years jazz aficionados have decried the lack of an official soundtrack from the film. The TAT OST is one of the few things I'd ever gladly purchase from the trunk of someone's car in the parking lot of a drugstore if they were selling them as copyright-violating burned compact discs. The music is that good.

The dark crime film, which is likable enough and reminiscent of the later Payback, did not exactly rake in the cash. The follow-up OST was never collected or produced and that oversight in awesomeness has been a sharp spike of agony in any jazz-fanatic's heart ever since. Even those who do not really care for jazz could do worse than have these songs in their collection. Several years ago a fan of the film's music, Brian Chernicky, took the trouble to gather as much information as he could about the soundtrack and put a list of the songs up on his website. Sadly, his site seems to be defunct and all links to his pages are dead.

But then that's where the Internet Archive comes in. The Internet Archive is a large database of films, music, websites, software mostly all royalty-free. I can spend hours going through the old movies and unintentionally hilarious Public Service Announcements. I recommend you support it in some way either through kind words or financially, either personally or by supporting those who would fund it.

When personalities like Rush Limbaugh, John Byrne or Sylvia Browne say something inaccurate, inflammatory or stupid and delete it from their sites so they can deny they ever made an insane statement, the Internet Archive and the usually helpful Wayback Machine is often there to help you recover the proof. Some sites can't back-pedal fast enough in their and try to erase their crazy claims from their websites once they realize their base is turning on them or the media, for once, doesn't play along and pour gasoline on the fire.

So stymied with being unable to get to the list I entered his URL into the Wayback Machine and was pleased to find that the page, last updated in 2007, has been recorded for prosperity. Since Mr. Chernicky did all the original hard work in and research I'm not going to copy his page verbatim. Instead, I'll supply a link to his page via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

If you want some great Martini-time jazz bad enough, and I believe it is worthwhile, many of the tunes can be purchased in various vinyl, CD or digital formats. One of these days someone is going to gather up all the songs featured in the film and make a mint.



Brian's site is still up, just was down for a bit. Here's the link to his site, so stop in and say yo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thick-Ass Thieves

The other night a group of young men entered the store. Of three of them, two entered with shopping carts. We had all noticed what was going on while they filled their baskets and were waiting at the door when the one young man who previously entered without a cart made an attempt to leave with one full of items.

"Hi. Can I help you with anything?"


"Where are you taking that shopping cart?"

"I forgot my wallet and I was going to go outside to my car to get it."

"With the cart?"

"I didn't want anyone to take my stuff while I was getting my wallet."

betcha. Say, why don't you let me watch your cart so no one will steal your stuff and I'll put it over here by the service desk. Just get in any line when you come back in with your wallet and we'll bring the cart over so we can ring it up."


"Do you want us to page your friends so you can meet up with them?"

"I didn't come with any friends."

"Okay. You betcha."

That's basically how it went. The visitor departed and didn't return with his wallet. Not that anyone expected him to. A few minutes later his partners also left the store, leaving behind another set-up cart full of goods down an aisle with a straight run to the door. The items in the carts were itemized and had they managed to get away the store would have lost over $1200 in products. The contents of the carts contained items that represented every department of the store. Some items had little value while others were pricey products like alcohol, DVD's and over-the-counter, yet expensive medicines. This time we recovered the items but it is unknown how many times that day someone else managed to get outside with a loaded cart, something under their coat or just in their hands. Organized Retail Crime is big business and sadly, this scene is probably being successfully repeated multiple times daily at nearly every retail store in America.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Freak from Suckweasel Mountain

Prosthetic creature by the often Gahan Wilson-inspired Ed French for the "film" Geek Maggot Bingo (1983).

Interestingly, I'm told this film featured actress Brenda Bergman as a young woman named Buffy, who fought vampires. I've never seen the film, so I have no idea if that is entirely accurate.

On his throne sat Barly Moque, surrounded by burly pirates

Click the picture to make extra burly!

The Space Pirate from Amazing Stories (May 1938).
Story by Eando (a.k.a. Otto) Binder, who would later work for DC Comics during their Silver Age.
Art by Jay Jackson.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Zing! Zing! Zing!

Click the picture to bring it into your cross-hairs!

Boy's Life (September 1950).

If anyone can ID the artist, that would be groovy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ella and Rex admire their new Neutron Wave Reverser

The Lost Planet (Columbia Pictures, 1953).

It's time to go, Sarah

If these two win in November then we should all just give up pretending what kind of country we live in. I just can't believe that McCain and Palin have any real chance of getting into the White House under any ethical circumstances.

Safeguarding the citizens and protecting everyone from the abuses of advanced technology aside, I don't even recognize the country I grew up in anymore.

I just hope the Fear of a Black Planet syndrome doesn't kick in for any of those on the fence about who to vote for on Election Day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Glamour in 3-D!

If you have trouble finding any 3-D glasses where you live and are hesitant to pay ten to fifteen bucks for your own pick up the recent November 2008 issue of Glamour magazine. It features a "special" six-page section of 3-D advertising and a pair of 3-D glasses comes with the issue. For five bucks you won't have to tear up that precious copy of Superman: Beyond yet.

The ads are not all that special and are just a silly gimmick that will suck in suckers like me.

Niiiiiiiice! High-heeled shoes in three entire dimensions! Can't get that anywhere else! I'm sure the section will satisfy somebody's fetish.

Plus, it has Keira Knightley in a sweater and plenty of new images that will undoubtedly show up in the next comic book drawn by Greg Land.

Communism, Hypnotism and the Invisible Girl

Heinous Ad + Crazy Pamphlet = Awesome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Suggestive Flowers

And could those Golden Age artists draw awesome hair or what?

Love Diary #1 (September 1949).

I didn't realize Photoshop had an "Attention Whore" add-on

Found in various Marvel Comics Group magazines with a cover date of November 2008 are some advertisements for a nice, upbeat and empowering clothing line for young women that could possibly also appeal to non-comic book fans.

Then, insider gag about the Invisible Woman aside, some tool had to go and ruin it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Red and Blue Pulp Art

One of the more attractive aspects of the magazine and book illustrations of the 1950s is the two-tone printing process. A simple highlight of color could really make an illustration stand out and give added emphasis such as lust, fear and danger to the line art. While applying a single hue other than black to an illustration may have its true origin in economical publishing, the printing process itself created an art style that was unique and defined a creative era.

Amazing Stories (April 1953).

Mars Confidential!

The Way Home

Turnover Point

Turnover Point
Imagination (April 1956).

Zero Hour

Prison of a Billion Years

The Forms of Things Unknown

David McCallum as Tone Hobart (May 1964).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


When one thinks of the power fantasy element of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror it usually means a woman is bound and gagged and suffering the attentions of some sadistic villain.

Yet on rare occasions it is the men who get their dials turned up to eleven!

Enjoy the scene while you can, girls! It doesn't happen often.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lilith: The Starter Wife

The legend of Lilith is an old one going way back in one form or another for several thousands of years. While the origin and version of the story of Lilith is open to interpretation in Marvel Comics continuity she was the very first vampire, cursed to be immortal and drink the blood and life of her victims.

This Lilith is not the same one who would later be known as the daughter of Marvel's Dracula character. The Lilith as described in Vampire Tales #4 (April 1974) would make another appearance in Marvel Graphic Novel #20 (1985) as the demon who guided and influenced Martin Greenberg, the novelist vampire.

Read more about Lilith here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Book of Revelation in 3-D!

Nothing says Halloween like shock horror, and for the very best one should look no further than the Bible! In the 1950s one of the art jobs that Basil Wolverton accepted was to illustrate passages from the Christian Bible for Ambassador Press. This project likely came about after the market for the lurid and ultra-violent comic books he was used to illustrating dried up in the wake of parent groups and politicians interfering with subject matter they deemed inappropriate for children. Of all the work he did for that company his illustrations depicting Armageddon from the Book of Revelation have garnered the most attention. Wolverton, a master of stomach-churning illustration outdid himself in this instance.

Presumably the same demographic who got the vapors over a corpse being manipulated by an alien Brain Bat from Venus had no problem with the far more horrifying imagery he created for the Christian market. I never accepted the joyful glee and anticipation of horrible death on a planetary scale that so many fundamentalists embrace. While Wolverton worked on the Bible project for several years usually only a few pages of his highly detailed work are readily available for study. While copies of these pages in color or black and white can be located here and there it is most unusual is to find this art in a 3-D format. While the 3-D panels are an interesting novelty it is the full color versions that are the most horrific. You can read a bit more about Basil Wolverton and view some other illustrations from that project here.

You will need the traditional red-and-blue 3-D glasses that I posted about previously to fully experience the End Times for yourself. Enjoy!

Click the pictures to bring about the Apocalypse!

Ambassador Press (1955).

She's so popular with all the boys

I don't know how oblivious a woman would be to wear these shoes with the highly reflective mirrors built right into the the tops of the toes. Then again, 90% of what this store sells seems to cater to the weekend party-skank crowd so this style may be entirely intentional.

By the way, wandering the Ladie's section of a shoe store with a camera sure gets you some wary looks from the staff.

Found on the rack at a shoe store 10-3-08, San Diego.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

No, but I read the Special Edition

Being awesome, Bully recently sent me the really sweet Ghost Word Special Edition hardcover from Fanatagraphics. For Ghost World fans this is a pretty nice collection that contains some extras that are either out of print or in separate, hard to find collections. One of the interesting additions to this issue is the screenplay for the film. There are also notes, poster art and many other nifty things included. For anyone else not familiar with Daniel Clowes or do not believe how good a comic book format story can be this edition is a good place to start learning. The story also contains mature subject matter that is not unnecessarily gratuitous.

I doubt I can add much in the way of a review for Daniel Clowes' most popular work, Ghost World. Whatever my understanding of it is may be 180 degrees from any other review, essay or article ever written on the subject. I first read Ghost World when it came out in the trade many years ago. Even though I was pretty much disgusted and done with comics back then (Thanks, Marvel!) I was intrigued by the buzz and liked what I read.

To be clear though, Ghost World is not, as Bully would opine, FUN. It is a good piece of work even though it can be emotionally painful to read. Ghost World is full of sad, unhappy and dissatisfied people. At least, it is if you subscribe to Enid's outlook on things. Because how could anyone be happy if Enid is miserable? While consisting of an ensemble cast Enid treats everyone as if they are shadows or constructs that exist only when she is looking directly at them. The stories are also very voyeuristic in nature and the reader is as much attracted as they would be repulsed by Enid's disdainful, hipster viewpoint.

Yet Clowes makes it clear that not everyone is like Enid as much as she believes they are. That is what is intriguing about Ghost World. One almost hates the sense of superiority that Enid displays towards everything and anything. She works very hard in finding a reason to feel contempt towards all things, including herself, but she is loathe to change anything. The story is also about fear. Enid is frightened that the future very well could be great and that all her time bitching, judging and moaning about the state of things was a waste of time and that she is at fault and not the world around her. Ghost World is not so much a story about coming of age but of leaving behind preconceptions and entering maturity. Eventually, even the most unaware individual catches a glance at themselves in the mirror in an unguarded moment and realizes they were almost always full of crap. When forced to accept that she may have to leave her unhappy, though comfortable and unchanging life, Enid artfully avoids any meaningful reflection until she effectively wanders into a hall of mirrors with a hammer concealed in her purse.

While I bought the first collection and read it, I also purchased yet failed to completely watch the film version starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson when it came out on DVD. When I played it the movie was mostly on in the background for noise, much like when I place Serenity in the DVD player. I think I've semi-watched both films about 15 times each, without actually watching them in their entirety.

On an aside, I expect that when the Ghost World DVD is next re-issued I imagine the credit for lead actress of Birch will be relegated to a smaller type size in favor of a blurb stating STARRING SCARLETT JOHANSSON in great big letters (much like the names of Julia Roberts now appear on the slip-case for the Justine Bateman vehicle Satisfaction and likewise Jack Nicholson for The Little Shop of Horrors). It's funny to see movies again when a player was in the beginning of or a lull in their career to be hyped as the star, when originally they may have only appeared in one scene as Victim #3 or something like that. That's marketing, though.

You can get your own copy of the Ghost World Special Edition here at Fantagraphics. Do it. You'll be cooler than all the other kids.

Hemingway introduces Kiki

Galaxy Magazine (June 1951).

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Brain Power in 3-D

Hey, Kids! Time to break out the old 3-D glasses for a trip into the retro-future!

Brain Power is a nifty little science fiction tale published in True 3D #1 way back in December of 1953! If I was alive then, I would have enjoyed one of these in my stocking that Christmas!

True 3-D was an experiment in the "3-Dimensional" experience by Harvey Comics that lasted all of two issues. In the 1950s comic books and the cinema both made attempts during that era to drum up some extra business through gimmicks and bizarre, if not outright fraudulent, stunts. The 3-D craze didn't last long as consumers swiftly realized that the special effects didn't really ad anything to the product other than being a cheap novelty and for the average B-Movie and Grade-C comic book the extra expense of producing the effects may have been prohibitive.

Yet 3-D is an aspect of entertainment that refuses to fade completely away. 3-D has made several temporary resurgences, and comes in cycles. 3-D appeared most recently in the film Journey to the Center of the Earth. The graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier and the Superman: Beyond comic book mini used 3-D effects to further the story. For my money the 3-D experience I've enjoyed the most were those great Viewmaster Donald Duck slides of years past.

Brain Power as I've reproduced it here is best enjoyed using the traditional red and blue 3-D glasses. I used them and the story looked great on the monitor. In some panels the printing process is a bit off but it still an enjoyable read with a surprise, shocking twist ending sure to send a tingle up the spine of the reader! If you don't have the glasses then you can easily make some out of colored plastic. The ingenious could even print out some colored shapes suitable for use if they used the right printing media. FYI, the polarized dark lenses you can get at a movie theater won't work.

Finding 3-D glasses or colored plastic of the correct hue in San Diego was pretty difficult. I was having no luck finding what I needed at various party, craft and retail stores and I was getting disappointed. Also, angry. There was some interactive Hannah Montana thing that had 3-D glasses but there was no way I was buying stuff that expensive just for the cheap spectacles. So I stopped into one of those San Diego comic book shops that sell more stuff than just comics to see if they had any. I asked the proprietor if they had any 3-D glasses and he did not, but ever the sales-person, reminded me that Superman: Beyond #1 was published a few weeks earlier. I checked out the copy to make sure it still retained the special glasses and then purchased it. The proprietor cautioned me not to break apart the cardboard glasses and that I should keep the book intact as is because "the magazine was a collector's item and would be sure to appreciate in value."

Sure, dude. Maybe so, but I just can't take seriously the advice of any comic book store owner that doesn't maintain their own humorous comic book web blog.

Click the images to make them...Well, you know.