Monday, January 31, 2011

Elvis Is On The Building!

This cover for the second issue of the Revolutionary Comics trilogy Elvis Shrugged cracks me up. Clearly it's a swipe of the classic poster for the lamented but still memorable 1976 King Kong remake.

Here's the original for comparison's sake. This is a good post to close out the King of Rock 'n Roll's birthday month.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Hands Of The Shadow!

I was checking out a bunch of covers for the Street & Smith pulp The Shadow and I was struck how many covers featured only the hands of the mysterious protagonist. I knew there were some, but I didn't know it was a regular thing. The signature girasol ring is prominently featured in all of the covers. I suppose many if not most of these are by regular cover artist George Rozen, but I cannot confirm that.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Steranko Redux!

Jim Steranko

Jim Steranko's influence on modern mainstream comic books is immense, and actually staggering when you consider the relatively tiny number of books he actually worked on. His stint on SHIELD is his most famous, but he also had short runs at Marvel on Captain America and X-Men. He dabbled in genre stories contributing both horror and romance stories. But that's about it, save for some exotically beautiful covers he did. Some of those are gorgeous.

I want to focus on a couple. Above is arguably his finest cover featuring the H.G.Wells creation "the Invisible Man" for Supernatural Thrillers #2. That in fact is argued at this site.

Dan Adkins

But here's that cover again, this time rendered by Dan Adkins, clearly cleaving closely to Steranko's original. The similarity is so close, that I assumed Steranko painted until recently.

Rafael Lopez Espi

Here's that cover again in a foreign edition where an unknown artist has once again "adapted" Steranko's original design. UPDATE: I was informed the artist of this work is a Spanish artist named Rafael Lopez Espi. Thanks for the info.

Jim Steranko

This cover for Supernatural Thrillers #1 is another beaut.

Gray Morrow

And here's another version of this Steranko classic by Gray Morrow.

As I said, Steranko's influence on comics is immense. He was able in a tiny number of outings to leave a lasting impression on the lucky fans who were able to sample his exquisite renderings.

I got to be one of those lucky ones.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Crater Lake Monster!

Great poster! Humdrum movie!

The Crater Lake Monster is a movie meant to capitalize on the glamor of the Loch Ness Monster, which when this movie was made in the late 70's was at its height.

We have a remote rural town with a population of dozens which finds itself next to a lake with a giant creature which from time to time lumbers out and attacks some random person or other. The Sheriff and some local scientists typically plumb the mystery and eventually they and couple of town goofballs battle the beast with a rather predictable result.

First the good.

The setting is gorgeous. Often the movie will isolate on shots of the surroundings and its absolutely lush and beautiful. I'd like to visit this place.

The basic story of a meteor landing in the lake and the resulting heat causing a forgotten egg to hatch releasing the monster seems almost plausible.

The early sightings of the creature are pretty good given the time this movie was made. The movie makers are wise (or perhaps forced by limited footage) to keep the creature off screen and that is usually a smart thing for a monster movie. Too much critter gets boring, whereas the anticipation of a critter never does.

The creature effects are pretty good, and the main reason for any monster lover to check this movie out. David (Equinox, Flesh Gordon) Allen does the work here, and he's a solid talent in this field.

Now the bad.

Not enough creature. Yes they kept it off screen, but they did it too long and when in the end of the final reel it does appear for a visit we don't get enough to satisfy the long set up. Again, I'm sure budget was an issue since the creature was stop-motion.

The key to a good monster flick is that in addition to a decent monster you whip up story that will compel the audience to the ultimate clash. This one lacks that essential element. The story rather meanders, often going down cul de sacs introducing unimportant characters who never really pay off. They seem to be filling up screen time and of course they are doing exactly that.

The acting is uneven. Some of it is pretty good, some of it is painful. The lack of a decent voice over track hurts this detail I suspect.

All in all this is an interesting monster movie. I got it in a Mill Creek collection that offers up other off beat flicks. So I paid less than seventy-five cents for it. That's a good price, not much of an uptick from a ticket price if I'd gone to see it at the drive-in when it first opened many decades ago.

If you don't mind spoiling the ending here's a clip with most of the creature effects.

That is one great poster. Though the creature looks nothing like that.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Upon Reflection - Eyes!

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." As it turns out, on a comic book cover it can show much, much more.

Enjoy this small gallery of "reflective" covers.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sign Of Gemini!

I touched on this subject before in this post. But I found this wonderful two-page spread from Charlton Bullseye #2 at this location. Captain Atom is beautifully rendered here by the "Gemini" team, specially Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom. The signature is a pun on "Jim-and-I" as signed by Milgrom.

The "Gemini" team also rendered this wonderful reprise of their own dramatic layout for Captain Marvel #29 for a reprint of Captain Marvel's adventures.

And here's an overseas reprint of the cover I found just this morning at GCD.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flame Off!

I'll let you read this article to get the tragic news.

Marvel Reveals FF Death

Now a moment to digest it.

This is horrific news! First they insist that one must die, then that the FF as a team must break up. I don't know what to make of these truly shattering details. Life as we know it in the comics world is crashing to ground as the creation of Stan and Jack are brought down! What will replace them? Can anything?

Does this in fact signal the end of not just one comic book, but the end of an entire company? Will this be the end of Marvel Comics? If so, can DC and Archie be far behind?

The Comics Code has been demolished only this past week. Wizard has ceased to publish. And now we have to confront the very real possibility that the American comic book as we know it is coming to an end.

So sad!

So tragic!

So full of crap! (Signaling ironic transition)

Was I born yesterday? Wasn't it only a few years ago that a clamor was made over the "demise" of Captain America? Does anyone not in the comic book world realize that his death was just a stunt, to attract attention and that Steve Rogers, the Captain America in question has been back a while and that Captain America the iconic figure never left?

It's inane to make a big deal over this, and it's actually pretty much just as inane for me to carry on about it even to the extent that this post does.

Marvel does get some publicity, but this pretty much has to be the last time they play this card in the big media. Cap went big, this might get some traction, but I can't see it working a third time.

You know what's really crazy. I think they should have killed off Ben Grimm. He's the heart and soul of the team and his death would have had some real potency through the Marvel Universe, both here and otherwise.

Here's a link to a post I did on the Human Torch several months ago.

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Werewolf Of Washington!

Werewolf Of Washingtonis not a very good movie. But that said, this rather dull clunker does offer up a few core comparisons that cut a bit.

The story is that a former Washington reporter (Dean Stockwell) to avoid the fallout from a failed romance with the President's daughter goes to Eastern Europe and gets himself bit by a werewolf. He returns to become the President's speech writer, but demonstrates little if any capacity to do this job and becomes more and more eccentric as the curse of the werewolf overtakes him. The President (Biff McGuire) and many of this aides remain remarkably unaware of these changes, and that's the point of the story I guess.

There are some jibes about racism, but little is done with that notion. There are also some pointed jabs at the Watergate scandal, but frankly I couldn't work out what the satire (if it rose to that level) was trying to suggest. The story ends as it must with the werewolf's demise and the hint that perhaps roaming the halls of the White House the curse might just still exist.

Michael Dunn (Dr.Loveless from Wild Wild West) shows up about halfway through and his peculiar nature adds some zest to a flagging effort, but his pint-size Dr.Kiss (a sort of mad scientist beneath the underbelly of Washington type) doesn't end up doing much and disappears before the end of the flick.

This is not a very good movie, though it has minutes where it gets sort of interesting. The werewolf stuff ain't all the bad actually as they turn Dean Stockwell into a somewhat humorous werewolf vaguely reminiscent of the Teenage Werewolf make-up. He chases mostly women around and that can be almost creepy for moments but it rarely lasts.

The print I endured was so dark that many scenes disappear into the gloom. The sound was pretty dank too, having that recorded-on-the-set feel to it. This one seems to be a failure of direction, as there seems to be sufficient script to make more of the movie work, but the pacing and shooting choices are not up to the challenge.

Too bad really. This is an offbeat notion. This movie is only recommended if you can get it for almost nothing, which you might just be able to do.

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