Monday, February 28, 2011

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 26

The Mysta of the Moon series is quickly coming to a close as there are only three original Mysta tales left beginning with Planet Comics #60. Mysta makes further appearances in issue #61 and #62, with her final showing being in issue #68 as a reprint from #40. Issue #73 was the final issue of Planet Comics and Fiction House would cease publishing their entire line of comic books soon after.

It was about this time in the publication history of Planet Comics that material began to be reprinted. It appears that no new material was being solicited as a cost-saving measure, though whatever serials were already completed ahead of deadline and ready to go to press were published in the months to follow.

Unlike in the Futura feature which ended a chapter with her being chosen as the leader of a newly liberated planet (Futura - Chapter 22) the various other Planet Comics series do not really have a resolution to their stories. Many of the features had their finale with no notice to the readers and were indistinguishable from any of their previous chapters. Though a non-ending can work if the reader accepts it as with the Futura feature often readers can feel let down by ambiguous endings. But the ability to successfully conclude a Planet Comics series was probably dependent on if the creative team members knew far enough in advance that their stories would be ending. Also, and depressingly so, the possibility exists that given the perceived disposable nature of comic books of the Golden Age it may have been thought by the creators that a fitting climax to the stories was unimportant as they sought continuing employment elsewhere. Out of the various characters ending their run in the latter issues of Planet Comics it is Mysta that does conclude with something of a definite sign-off though it is abrupt and is something to be expounded upon later when that chapter is featured.

In Planet Comics #60 (May 1949) another mutated race is discovered as they make a play for freedom from their underground existence and threaten those who investigate signals coming from what was believed to be a dead world. Dirk Garro seems genuinely dismayed that there was an entire civilization that needed aid and that no one could help when their ecology failed, driving the survivors underground. I speculate these people were another race abandoned when the interplanetary infrastructure broke down during the Anti-Science wars of years past.

In her guise as a technician Mysta aids the Safety Council and again acts less like a computer repair person and more like a Super-Spy. Her performance in this chapter more than any other lends credence to the idea that the 'technicians' of the Mysta-verse are all about repairing more than un-jam the fax machine. Her entire story this chapter could be easily transplanted into a 1970s Marvel Team-Up featuring the Black Widow.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Like caviar with chocolate bar

Does Everyone Know About This?
Performed by Martha Tilton with Paul Weston & His Orchestra.
Written by Arthur Altman and Charles Newman

While driving the car one day about 6 years ago I discovered the Liltin' Martha Tilton and her beautiful voice when a local radio station played this song as part of a big band/rug-cutter swing/jazz compilation. Been in love with her sound ever since.
Movie aficionados will recognize the tune from the soundtrack of the 2001 film, Focus.

A lazy, really rainy Sunday post.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thank you, IDW

Zombie Tribbles? Old school Gold Key Comics homage cover? As part of their cross-over series Infestation, IDW just stroked my geek bone really, really hard.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 25

Mysta's assistant Bron finally makes a re-appearance in the 24th installment of Mysta of the Moon from Planet Comics #59 (March 1959). While Bron remains stranded on her fortress moon with her robot for companionship Mysta remains undercover as a euphemistically-termed Technician for the Safety Council. Bron acts less disgruntled in his scenes and appears more or less resigned to being exiled to a long-distance professional relationship with his mistress.

When an outlaw uses forbidden weapons to attack the planets in a bid for power Mysta recalls the Spinning Disk from Chapter #21 back into service. Interestingly, Bron refers to the disk or at least the area in which it was stored as having been unattended for some time. It is hard to define how much time passes in the Mysta-verse between chapters since the continuity of Golden Age stories is sketchy at best. There is no telling how old Mysta is either since she probably has access to advanced medical technology that extends her lifetime and vigor that other are not yet privy to.

Rebuilding human civilization from ashes could have taken decades thus far. I would speculate that just removing the anti-intellectual influences from the various cultures would have taken several years of Mysta-meddling and ultimatums after the alien Mars destroyed all knowledge. I would liken it to modern America trying to leave in the past the superstitions that create so much unrest in some political parties and backwards regions. Though I'm sure that the lack of basic services and a food supply may have hastened Mysta's efforts to rebuild. The citizens, wondering where their next syntho-meal would be coming from, would likely have no problem accepting science to provide for them if Mysta dangled it out in front of them. It may have been one of those situations where Mysta declared the people could listen to the idiot telling them science is evil and starve or fall in line and get electricity and running water restored before the next cold snap.

Matt Baker is once again credited with penciling this chapter.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 24

Planet Comics #58 (January 1949) gives readers a peek into Mysta's former involvement with the governmental authorities as a menace from her past returns. When Mysta "convinced" the collected worlds of human society to disarm the opportunistic thief Sindar stole plans for forbidden weapons. He planned to build them on his own and use them to take control of a newly rebuilt and vulnerable civilization. Sindar was sentenced to exile on a prison planet by Mysta, who apparently had some say and position of power in the government. Whatever position Mysta maintained in the government she seems to have relinquished it in favor of a consulting or behind-the-throne role, remaining and monitoring humanity from her fortress moon.

The prison world may have been the same one that the impostor Bron was freed from previously to spy on Mysta. It is interesting to note that the plan of replacing a person of influence was again attempted albeit of a much more publicly known individual.

When Sindar escapes from the prison planet and threatens the peace Mysta again aids the Safety Council, continuing to act undercover as a technician. The term 'technician' may have a different meaning than a mere repair person as the agents seem to operate with a great degree of autonomy during crises. That the technicians seen thus far are mostly female and live in Safety Council headquarters may only mean that they are housed by gender as highly-skilled on-call operatives who maintain a ready and able force that responds and deploys at a moment's notice, like firemen or military squads do today. Mysta does not seem to get along with the other technicians, though and they are highly competitive and threatened by the newcomer.

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Top 5 Love Songs of All Time

Here is my Valentine's Day list of the Top 5 Love Songs of All Time. This list can not be disputed. Eons from now the immortal cybernetic Octo-Wolves that host the digital remnants of humanity via blood-borne nano-bots will gather under the moons of Earth and lift high tentacles to transmit mp3000 howl-bursts of agreement over this list*.

5: Love, American Style theme
Like it or not if you lived during the 1970s this patriotic theme song was being whistled and hummed all over America. Composed by Charles Fox (of The Green Slime theme fame) the song got tweaked a bit from its original awkward arrangement into this snappy tune for a soft-core anthology comedy/romance show. Love, American Style is probably best remembered for hosting a stealth pilot for the long-running television series Happy Days.

4: American Pie
Vomitously covered by Madonna a few years back this 1971 ode to nostalgia was a huge hit for folk-rock artist Don McLean. This song is in the list because it is about a love of music and how it affects people. The song was one long reference to pop-culture.

3: This Guy's In Love With You
Another Golden Oldie from 1968 performed by Herb Alpert and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. This song could probably be credited for getting Herb all the action he could handle and more for the next several decades. The lyrics are a bit of a downer but the score itself is amazing and can't be diluted even when rearranged as elevator music.

2: X Offender
A seemingly shocking song that features the doo-wop styling typical of the proto-punk era by Blondie with vocals performed by Debbie Harry. Originally Sex Offender, the name was changed due to concerns that the tune would receive resistance from radio stations worried over public reaction to the title. True Blondie fans call it Sex Offender anyway and totally get it. The song about a sex worker who is arrested by a police officer is misunderstood by a lot of people who don't understand that cops are people and need love too.

1: Maybe I'm Amazed
A love song from Paul McCartney to his wife, Linda. Maybe I'm Amazed is considered one of his greatest songs and is prominently featured on several albums and is showcased during concerts. Paul reportedly wants this song to be the one he is remembered by. The live version is better than the studio one, of course.

* Frankly, I'm surprised I ever have sex.

Sealed With A...What?

My real-life true Valentine's Day story while at work and my conversation with one of the bakers as they set up a table of holiday cakes.

"So, what is this?"
"I dunno. They told me to decorate the heart cakes like those candy hearts. With words like Be Mine, UR Gr8, Luv You and SWAT."
"Yeah, SWAT. So what does SWAT mean?"
"Dunno. They just said SWAT."
"Maybe that was supposed to be SWAK."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"It does if you are saying Sealed With A Kiss."
"Oh, yeah. Well, they said SWAT."
"Sure they did. Okay, what's done is done. You can discount these tomorrow after Valentine's Day, right?"

Sealed With A...What?

They wonder why everything I say is prefaced with a heavy sigh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I think serial monogamy says it all

Tracey Ullman in 1983 covering They Don't Know, originally released in 1979 by Stiff Records contemporary Kirsty MacColl. Tracey didn't add much to this version except she is a bit more peppy than Kirsty's early-punkish sound though both efforts are tinged with despair.

A lazy Sunday pre-Valentine post.

Tomorrow: A Mysta Monday entry and for V-Day, The Top Five Love Songs of All Time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tie me up, Tie me down

Love Stories #150 (Jun-Jul 1973)

DC Comics, teaching an entire generation that abuse, misogyny and kidnapping was a-okay. Fortunately, we've all grown past that culturally.

Love Stories #150 (Jun-Jul 1973)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New and Improved

Wondered what the customers were giggling about (my first instinct was not to look up) until I looked at the cash register and saw that the product abbreviation for Creamy Supreme frosting had an unfortunate and comical result.

Creamy Supreme

Real receipt with a false header because of humorless bosses.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Art is Food

Great branding

My current dietary choices do not include chips and other snacks these days but I found this store branding of munchies clever and unique. The product is identified on the bag and draws attention by the cute doodles centered around a chip or cheese puff. As marketing goes it is a pretty nice effort and goes beyond what one usually sees for labeling for a generic store product.

There are several illustrations but my favorite is the potato chip mouse being threatened by a venomous snake.

Mysta of the Moon - Chapter 23

Interesting politics are on display in Planet Comics #57 (November 1948) as Mysta becomes involved in economic warfare against shape-shifting mutants. The Science Council is again absent in this Matt Baker penciled tale and the Safety Council remains as the representative administration for Earth presumably controlling the application of potentially dangerous and destabilizing renewed sciences.

When an outer planet is denied the importation of its adaptable and non-sentient workforce the leader does not take too kindly to the economic blockade and makes plans to invade Earth using drones that can assume the shape of any human. While the mutant drones could be a boon to industry they are also a clear and present threat to the security of any world. The drones represent a technology that could be used by the smallest group or individual with access to some funds and technology. Special interests threatened by a cheap, adaptable labor force are probably also putting pressure upon the Safety Council or whatever body governs the planet to ban their import. Assistant Bron is absent entirely from this chapter and is presumably marooned on Mysta's distant fortress moon.

Mysta, remaining undercover as a competent yet mouthy technician in the Safety Council headquarters intervenes with the terrorist plot by the leader of the blockaded world. Unfortunately, Mysta also practices the bent for genocide that Fiction House heroes are known for as she tricks the leader into destroying his own planet with nuclear weapons. This could be excused as the cost of war. However right or wrong economic and security policies instituted by Earth had fomented a war. While in the past Mysta had usually acted at the will of or grudging acceptance of the Science Council this time she acted on her own after judging that the technology to wage nuclear war and infiltrate other planets was in the control of someone she did not see fit to wield it. Though the outcome may have been the same if the Safety Council was involved Mysta took a decidedly singular action and ended the conflict by destroying an enemy's infrastructure and ability to deploy their weapons for the foreseeable future.

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cruel Shoes

Fear shoes

I guess the little girl on these boxes of footwear is supposed to show all the joy and happiness the recipient of shoes will experience but it just seems to convey some sort of horror at what the box might contain.

Gee, Thanks

Buck Owens is a pretty familiar performer to many non-Country music fans, thanks to his years of exposure through the syndicated faux-hayseed television show Hee-Haw. As a youngster I watched that show a lot. Really a lot. Not because I really cared to and was a fan of the music but because in Michigan farm country that was often the only show our television could receive with any clarity other than the early morning Farm Report. This early exposure to urban life lead to my life-long aversion to corn fields and rednecks.

Not as well known though perhaps equally familiar to anyone watching repeats or videos of Buck Owens and his band was musical colleague Don Rich, who collaborated for years with Owens as leader of the back up band The Buckaroos.

This clip from Buck Owens' Ranch TV show displays what a great team Buck and Don were.

Buck Owens was a savvy promoter of his brand of music and if the stories are to be believed had a complicated love life and made hard decisions when it came to the music side of the business. Yet whatever minuses and pluses he had as a person Buck didn't let it get in the way of showcasing the other talent. Don Rich was often in the spotlight through their careers and his contribution was not downplayed.

Don Rich and the gang also had a sense of humor it appears. The following song of the relationship-shy is about as R-Rated as it got back then. While it is clear from Don's expression and delivery he was aware of how inappropriate the tune was for the evening television of the era it isn't as obvious that the phrase "Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am" had much meaning beyond the literal for most of the viewers. Like the infamous Brewer and Shipley song that the Lawrence Welk Singers obliviously covered (to the delight of later generations of online viewers) the tune, however salacious, would be perceived as perfectly innocent by much of the targeted audience. As a kid I myself equated the "Wham, Bam" title to the sound of a door slamming as some hapless guy ran apologetically from the chains of matrimony. The lyrics are probably not real safe for the work environment so be cool before clicking

Here is Don with a song from 1970:

And finally their first huge crossover hit in which legend has it Don Rich had to convince Buck to record:

A not-so-Lazy Sunday post, because I couldn't care less about the Superbowl.