Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hang Loose Heroes!

This is one of the great images created by Big John Buscema featuring the Assemblers. His bold approach here is impressive and the dynamics of these characters as they blast into view is intoxicating. Heroic figures swinging at the viewer, all beautifully interlaced.

The drawing appeared as a two-page spread in Avengers Annual #2.

But as this scan reveals, there is a slight change to the original. If you look in the corner, you'll see another hero has been added to this awesome assembly. Hercules, the Prince of Power makes the scene, but he seems oddly out of joint here.

Buscema did a magnificent job of fusing these heroes together, but sadly the last minute interpolation of the Hercules figure has him jumping furiously but in the wrong direction.

Still and all, it's a mighty impressive picture.

There's a suggestion that Bill Everett inked this image. If so, I think it's most evident when you look closely at Quicksilver's feet. I see Everett's influence there for sure.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Cockrum's Conan!

This lively rendition of Robert E. Howard's classic barbarian hero is from a 1971 fanzine. Cockrum seems to my eye to be deriving his inspration from Frazetta who defined the hero before Barry Windsor-Smith's deft hands refocused everyone.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kryptonite Nevermore!

When this volume debuted a several years ago, I was both excited and annoyed. I've long wanted to have this series of Superman stories in a volume, but never really thought it would happen.

When Jack Kirby left Marvel and arrived at DC, the startling news caused my Marvelite eye to turn to those parts of the spinner rack I'd ignored for a few years, and I discovered that much of the DC Universe was a bit different than when I last looked in.

Green Lantern and Green Arrow stomped across an exceedingly relevant geography. Wonder Woman was all in white with a feminist edge. Batman was actually a bit scary. And Superman was rather exciting, with his world having undergone a change both thematically and tonally, along with some more vibrant artwork by the Swanderson team. I picked up a few issues here and there of this saga, but never found them all, especially the finale. So this story of the end of Kryptonite and the mysterious Sand Creature are all unfinished business for this comic book reader.

So you'd have thought I'd have snatched up this volume in a heartbeat. I would've too, but there was a sticking point. DC wanted to damn much money for it. They wanted to charge forty bucks for nine comic book issues, none all that old really and with suspect printing techniques. I just couldn't bring myself to pay for it, and so I waited for the eventually trade paperback, but it's never come and I despair it ever will. I waited to catch it discounted, but it's never happened, even on Amazon, they don't cut it that much. So yesterday with some store credit burning in my wallet I expended it on this volume of magical tales by Denny O'Neil, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson. It cost me "nothing" in that way technically, so I can soothe my consumer anxiety, but still it rankles me a bit.

So I'll be laying up with these fantastic stories a bit later today and finally finishing what I started over forty years ago. That feels good though.

And now that I've gone and bought it, I'm sure a cheaper trade will be announced in a few weeks. Lordy!

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

But They Should Watch Where They're Going!

These crack me up. They are magnificent riffs on a theme, variations which always deliver. Rocky and Bullwinkle might well have the best timing of any cartoon pairing ever.

Here's a television example of this classic campaign.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reptilicus Redux!

Once upon a time in the late 50's and early 60's, giant monsters were all the rage. Denmark feeling that it too wanted to contribute its unique flavor to the monster surge of the time initiated by Japan's Godzilla, unleashed the prehistoric might of Reptilicus on the the city of Copenhagen and film-going public has never been the same since.

Great Poster! Who did it? Anyone know?

I've certainly never been, since I lensed the movie as part of an all-night Halloween film fest when I was youngster. The first few scenes scared me pretty well, though even as a kid I found the big monster's romp somewhat regrettable. Here's the trailer.

Sidney Pink produced this flick and thought the way to go for special effects was puppets. Puppetry was a classic approach, and one only has to look back to the very first giant monsters created by the master special effects kahunah Willis "Obie" O'Brien, to see the stop-motion mastery of that form. That's not the way they went with Reptilcus.

They went with a marionettes and hand puppets. Take a look.

Reptilicus does have one advantage over Godzilla and Kong, he can fly. But for some reason those scenes get cut from the American version and so his little wings seem attached to the big lizard for no good reason. Here's a look at him on the fly.

And here's a scene with him flying from the Danish version.

Needless to say Sidney Pink was interested in maximizing his profits from this creation, so he licensed the creature to comics, in particular Charlton Comics. They had a history with these kinds of things, having done Konga and Gorgo.

They created two issues of Reptilicus in 1961 and both sport outstanding covers.

Rocke Mastroserio

Dick Giordano

But Charlton also was associated with the paperback imprint Monarch and they too adapted Reptilicus using the writer David Owens. Pink took issue with some of the scenes created for the novel version which are reputed to have a somewhat lascivious quality. I've never read it, so I cannot speak first hand about it. But apparently it upset Pink who pulled the license from Charlton.

But Charlton must've seen some good numbers from their monster book, so they just kept on publishing it under the new name "Reptisaurus". It ran for six more issues through 1962, and a 1963 summer special edition to boot.

Sal Gentile & Vince Alascia

Joe Sinnott & Vince Colletta

Joe Sinnott & Vince Colletta

Charles Nicholas & Vince Alascia

Bill Montes & Ernie Bache

Bill Montes & Ernie Bache

Bill Montes & Ernie Bache

A few years ago an independent science fiction movie was made using the "Reptisaurus" name. I've not been able to see most of this movie, but I have seen the trailer and for this kind of Indy stuff it looks typical. I'd love to see it full length.

Here's the trailer.

So we are faced with the odyssey of this monster character who begins life in the cinema and then tumbles into comics only to return under his new name to the screen again. There is an irony here somewhere.

For more details on this offbeat tale of monsters and comics, see this link at Stephen Bissette's rather scholarly blog.

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Monsters In Love!

Our story begins with bewildering news reports from across the ever-spinning globe.

The monster Reptisaurus is seen cavorting in the air over the simmering heat of the Equatorial desert while a similar monster is sighted in the snowy wastes of the frosty Arctic.

The monsters meet at last in Miami and mingle in ways which befuddle the minds of simple children who behold this natural wonder. Parents rush to protect their curious charges from knowing more about this cataclysmic conjunction, suspecting the shattering truth all along.

The monsters are merely mating, performing that which Mother Nature demands to extend and expand the species in all living creatures.

It's a monster miracle Morton!

This tale from the wide world of woo was brought to you in the pages of Reptisaurus #4 from the Derby company Charlton Comics. Reptisaurus is the comic title which continued the adventures of the movie-monster "Reptilicus".

I daresay this tale illustrated by Joe Sinnott and Vince Colletta might've been better suited to another comic from that company which was on the stands at the same time. "First Kiss" indeed!

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