Thursday, April 30, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Senate of the Apes!

...And the rest of the government too!

Kamandi, as envisioned by Jack Kirby, put forth a future that may or may not be true, after a "Great Disaster" has struck.  

Kirby has long been considered a visionary, but could even HE have so accurately envisioned the truth in his cover caption for KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH # 15 (DC Comics, Cover Date: March, 1974)... as it applies to 2020? 


Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Phantom Blot Visits Joe!

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity...  

THE PHANTOM BLOT, my all-time favorite comic book villain, came all the way to New York to visit my home!

...AND I WASN'T THERE TO GREET (and probably have been taken prisoner by) HIM!

Lucky for me - and my comic collection - according to this wonderful comic by Achille Talon, some other familiar faces (from the many "Secret Societies" who inhabit my Comments Section and, apparently my house as well) were there to give him a warm "Secret Society Welcome"!

Click to enlarge - or I'll just break it out into panels below...

Oddly, I feel honored - in the same crazy way Scrooge McDuck must feel honored by The Beagle Boys! 

But I'm still glad he didn't get away with my PHANTOM BLOT comic collection!

There they are... all EIGHT of 'em! 



It looks like he might have gotten away with my copy of PHANTOM BLOT # 7 after all!  

Well, at least he didn't get my copy of the very rare PHANTOM BLOT # 8!  

I would REALLY hate to lose THAT ONE! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Watching Too Much TV Can Be Hazardous to Your Health!

Here's a little gem hidden away behind the main Batman story of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD # 88 (DC Comics, Cover Date February-March, 1970 - cover below)...

...Aptly titled "Death Turns the Dial!"

Written by the issue's editor Murray Boltinoff, and drawn by George Tuska.  We'll break it down by panels.

Henry gets lost in TV, as some of us tend to do in these trying days.

But, it gets to be "too much" for Henry - just as the relentless onslaught of cable news is getting to be for me.

Henry pays the price... and I don't mean his cable bill!

But, at least he was watching a western - and not a daily parade of federal officials being forced to act "optimistically" and to minimize the scope of this tragedy while people (that could include you and me) are dying in horrific numbers every day!  If given a choice between the two, I'd prefer to die to the western any day!

The last line is TRULY magnificent!

You might "hear" that line being spoken by Rod Serling... And, if so, you wouldn't be off one bit!

But I hear it as being better delivered by Alfred Hitchcock, as he might have done on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS!

I read it aloud in my best impression of Hitchcock (which some of you have actually heard), and it's perfect!  Not my impression (which is still pretty good), but the combination of the line and the (imagined) voice of Hitchcock!

Finally, in the true spirit of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, we present the following closing bit - as it might have been read by Hitchcock... 

Perhaps Henry would still be alive...

...If he had chosen to watch THE FLINTSTONES instead!  


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Separated At Mirth: Let a Smile... or Bird... or Bat... Be Your Umbrella!

Why be "All Wet" when April showers come your way, to bring the flowers that bloom in May?  

Reach for your umbrella... and, if you misplaced it, you can always reach for a Prehistoric Bird, or a Vampire Bat!

As in THE FLINTSTONES # 38 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: February, 1967)...

...And its "Matching-Number Mirth-Separation Mate" THE LITTLE MONSTERS # 38 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: February, 1977)!

Bird-wings, bat-wings, who cares... as long as you stay safe, warm, and dry!  

Bonus original cover image!

The cover illustration for THE FLINTSTONES # 38 was reprinted from THE FLINTSTONES # 4 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: March-April, 1962). (Art by Harvey Eisenberg!) 

But, we kinda like having the link of "living-creature-umbrella" AND respective issues numbered 38... AND being TEN YEARS APART in cover date (February, 1967 and 1977)!  

There you have THE FLINTSTONES # 38 and THE LITTLE MONSTERS # 38... Separated At Mirth (...and by a few million years) - yet oddly united by issue number and cover date

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Unconventional Self-Quarantine Looong DVD Review: "The Return of the Living Dead" (1984)

Dear Readers... Please indulge me a bit of "Self-Quarantine Blog Therapy" during these strange days, and bear with what follows.  More of our regular and more typical content will be back next post. 

As many of you know, I attend a "Thursday Night Film Group", in the basement of a friend and independent film maker, whom Esther and I met as a adult-ed college lecturer.  

Those sessions, which I've attended since 2012, are presently suspended in view of... Aw, you know what!     

There, we gather (Oops! Can't do THAT anymore!) to watch a film, with background provided by our host, and later go around the room to critique it.  The primary genre of focus is "Horror/Sci-Fi", with side trips into "Spaghetti Western", "Giallo", and "Film Noir".  You can see, this is right up my alley! 

It's been a few weeks since we've done this and, as I see it, it will be MANY weeks more (perhaps  even many months), before I'm willing to return in safety to this communal activity I've enjoyed so thoroughly!  

But, in the spirit of "this Thursday thing", I did the following and e-mailed it to the group.  Others have since followed suit.  

Here are the basic ramblings I sent, posted here as I sent 'em, with no cleaning up, and no more background detail than was required.  In other words: The OPPOSITE of my old standard "Looong DVD Reviews"!  

But, I've wanted to get back to DVD reviews for a while - but comics related posts are both fun and easy to do, and so they tend to dominate.  Some of you have also asked that I return to DVD reviews, so why not just turn this post into a great big "Self-Quarantine Blog Therapy" session!  

And did I every pick a doozy of a DVD (Blu-ray, actually) to share with my film group - and now with you!  Ready? Set? Go!  

So, what did I do on a Thursday night?  Decided to watch a horror film, of course.  

Looking through my shelves for something I bought a long time ago, but never watched (I've got quite a few of those!), I stopped on "The Return of the Living Dead" (1984), and popped it in the player.  

Okay, so it's NOT "Night of the Living Dead" (1968)... but, then again, WHAT IS?   

What we have here is a film heavy on the comedy, yet still with its gruesome moments.  

It is an odd melding of many different things, but primarily The Three Stooges (as warehouse workers) meet (actually they inadvertently resurrect the...) zombies, meet Scooby-Doo (if there were no dog and the kids were freakish, punk-like, sociopathic '80s misfits).  

The Three Stooges and their '80s horror-film counterparts

Freakish, punk-like, sociopathic "meddling kids"!

Not exactly "The Mystery Machine", is it? 

There's a lot of bumbling by the warehouse workers, a lot of running, jumping, and screaming by the kids (hence the Scooby-Doo influence) , and a lot of brain-eating by the zombies - all done to a (Shudder!) '80s synth soundtrack.  Though, the tune "Surfin Dead" was kinda fun!  

...I mean, how do you not love a song called "Surfin Dead" ?  Huh?   

Oh, and there's a good part for a funeral director - with the twist being that the dead now walk in on their own, without an appointment!    

Left to right: Matthews, Karen, and Gulager

Steady veterans Clu Gulager and James Karen are quite entertaining as the two head warehouse guys, with Thom Matthews thrown in as the warehouse newbie and "third stooge", and just as good was Don Calfa as the funeral director. 

 Don Calfa 

The kids?  Ehhhh?  But there was one female punker that spent most of her time running around nude - even before she became a zombie, so props to her.  

"Daphne warned me about messing around in graveyards... But, did I listen?  Noooo!"  

Gulager and Calfa's characters were old friends and business associates called "Burt" and "Ernie", respectively.  Bringing the chain of character-naming events full circle from "It's a Wonderful Life" - to "Sesame Street" - to "The Return of the Living Dead"!  

Some of the movie looked more like video tape than film, and maybe that flaw was enhanced by Blu-ray.  (Yes, "Blu-ray"!  You don't thing I streamed the thing, do you?)  And the '80s style credits looked typically cheap 'n' cheesy. 

"Send More Cops!" (A zombie delivers the film's iconic line!)  

With the synth scoring added to the general look of the film... if you played this straight, and dumped all the comedy bits, this could actually pass for an Italian horror film!  

Characteristically, there would be a lot of things for me not to like, if we were to do a "paper checklist", but that's not so!  I liked it more than I expected to for an '80s film, scored by synthesizer, with an inconsistent narrative that veered between horror and comedy.  

I give it my genre-solid-like rating of 9.8!  

I may give this a try every Thursday night... until we meet again in 2024!  That's a lot of unwatched DVDs to catch up on!  :-) 
PS:  It this where the Zombie-cry of "BRAINS!" came from, or was that one of the later Romero films?  (Joe's Note: Yes, it was!)  

Maybe I should look into the sequel?  (Joe's Note: Yes, he will!) 

On the other side of things I should also mention that "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) is my all time favorite horror movie!  Essentially the "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane" of the Horror genre.  

Add Scooby and Stooges influences to the mix, and I was predisposed to liking this more than your average '80s horror flick.  

Will I do this again on other Thursday nights?  Still undecided... But, perhaps my decision will be revealed in the form of another "Self-Quarantine Looong DVD Review"!

Additional Note: Sean Murray, another member of the film group, offers a correction to my description of the freakish kids as "Goth".  They are not "Goth" despite my concentration on some of the black attire.  I have substituted the term "Punk", hoping that to be a more suitably accurate description.