Tuesday, August 31, 2010
If I had to pick a favorite among the early Indy publishers it would likely be Pacific Comics, but if I had to pick one I thought would be a success ultimately it would be First Comics. They seemed more than any of the early publishers to have a solid handle on how to make comics for the direct market and how to make it lucratively. They didn't ultimately survive, but for a time First was a mover and a shaker.
Warp was odd but compelling with lush Frank Brunner artwork, E-Man was a classic project and worthy of a larger audience despite Nick Cuti's absence if only for Joe Staton's great artwork, and Mike Grell's Sable was sure-footed and sleek.
But the bonafide hit, at least critically, for First had to be Howard Chaykin's American Flagg. This was a comic that was smart and fun and had a heft of theme that made it worthwhile beyond mere entertainment.
I traded away almost all my First Comics, but in the years since, I've picked up a lot of them out of discount bins as curiosity and nostalgia have indicated. Yesterday I found a near intact collection of American Flagg for small money and despite a big one-time bite and my general desire to not add more comics to the towering bundles in the back bedroom, I scarfed them up.
I wanted to read Chaykin's story again, especially the first dozen issues, the original story that won so many awards and left such a mark in the memory of collective fandom. They are on the nightstand awaiting my further attention. I look forward to it.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Above is a ludicrous image from somewhere, of a statue of the mighty Kong (looks like Son of Kong really) holding up the awesome VW Bug.
Here is the famous commercial featuring Kong for Volkswagen. The stop-motion work on this mini-classic was done by the late Dave Allen, who worked on lots of stuff before his untimely death, but is probably most famous for Equinox.
Here is a wacky commercial featuring Kong and Son. It's kind of funny actually. The expressions are wonderful.
And here is a model featuring the mighty King Kong as a drag racer, in case you were wondering how that might look.
For more views see this link.
What does the mighty King Kong think of all these attempts to merchandise his awe-inspiring image?
The movies on TV yesterday were slight indeed, so I dug out a box full of "Drive-In Classics" and found a little 1972 made-for-TV shocker titled The Moon of the Wolf.
This clearly was made with The Night Stalker in mind. It essentially is the same sort of set-up but with a werewolf rather than a vampire. It too attempts to ground the classic gothic horror elements into a more contemporary setting while keeping the sense of otherness.
Like the Dan Curtis production, this one offers up a grizzled veteran actor as the main focus, but instead of the voluble Darren McGavin we get the grumbly David Janssen. He's pretty good in the role, though his odd hair style and his persistantly unbuttoned shirt are odd bits of characterization. I get the sense they were trying to sell him as a sex object, but it wasn't working. If you take it that the character thinks he's more attractive than he is, then that's a neat kink in the story that adds layers.
The setting is not Las Vegas, but a small swamp town in Louisiana. We have a assorted white trash types played to the hilt by Royal Dano and Geoffrey Lewis, and some white Southern elites portrayed by Bardford Dillman and Barbara Rush. Aside from a one black lady who seems to know the score, there are a few other speaking roles but almost no extras in this one. That hurts the realism a bit, especially later in the story when they try to gather a mob, but only a handful of guys show up.
They recreate scenes from The Night Stalker even, such as when the creature breaks out of the hospital and crashes through the window. There are lots of point of view camera angles to show monster's perspective even. There's a rather lame attempt to make the transformation medical as opposed to magical, but it doesn't really develop enough for me to understand it really.
I liked the mood of this one, the acting is by and large pretty dang good. The settings have potential, but seem a bit slick in places, not gritty enough. Likely they shot this movie very quickly, so the small stuff suffered.
It's an entertaining movie, and one that's smart enough to keep its monster off screen most of the time. That's almost always more effective in these kinds of things.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
I posted Contemporary Pictorial Literature #11 here. Above is the very next, and alas final issue of that fanzine's run. By this time most of the guys behind CPL were working for a professional comics company and the amateur press suffered from lack of time.
In addition to the usual material by John Byrne, Roger Stern and the gang, this issue sports a provocative Paul Gulacy cover, a hilarious Hulk pin-up by Herb Trimpe, and some extensive coverage of highly overlooked artist Mike Vosburg. Steven Grant even manages to get an article done on the blink-and-you-missed-them publisher Atlas-Seaboard.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Here to go along with the F.O.O.M. covers I posted yesterday are the Marvelmania Magazine covers. I have all of these save for the debut issues of both the regular run and the catalog. These aren't as lovely necessarily as the F.O.O.M. books, but they do offer up some real treats such as the Starhawk story in issue three. I posted about that here some time ago.
There are few movies that actually get me off my aging duff and into the filmhouse. Machete starring the ubiquitous and fascinating Danny Trejo might just accomplish it. Trejo has the most compelling puss in all of film and a few seconds of him can steal a movie from even the mightiest star. See Anaconda for proof of that.
Spun out of the faux trailers dreamed up to accompany the Grindhouse movies Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarrantino concocted several years ago, the story of Machete proved compelling enough to actually get made into a for real movie.
It's not a subtle movie as the original trailer shows. I'm only worried that the cameos of so many big stars added since that original trailer might drag the movie down a bit, getting in the way of its gritty atmosphere. Otherwise it looks to be a haymaker of an action flick, one that punches some pretty potent buttons for the audience as any good exploitation flick ought. There's even a comic book.
Here's a new trailer for all who might doubt the power of Trejo.