Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Am I Just Gettin' Old?

When I was a kid, I didn't get to town much. We lived out in the country and trips to town were seldom and usually revolved around buying groceries. I'm not trying to give you the impression that we grew up on Waltons Mountain or Walnut Grove, but most of what we ate, we grew, but trips to town were still needed. My parents were smart. I see parents today dragging their screamin', mulin' kids through the grocery stores today and I just shake my head. Dragging your kid along the the grocery store or Walmart and not buying them anything is torture for both parent and child! Why put yourself through that?

I'm getting off the point. When I was a kid, circa 1977, if I was lucky enough to get to ride along (With no seat belt on, I might add!) with the Old Man to whatever store he had to go to to buy oil or a box of 12-gauge shells, for a buck, I could buy two comic books, a candy bar and a bottle of pop, usually a bottle of Royal Crown. Of course, he'd always tell me how much comics were in His Day and how he'd earned that dollar, but as my own kids are getting older and I find myself reflecting on my youth, I totally get where he was coming from.

Once again, I'm off track. The biggest draw back to living out in the sticks and rarely getting to town was the big holes between issues of my favorite comic book titles. Back then, I didn't care so much. I'd read whatever I had so many times that, now, thirty years later, those old books of mine have since crumbled and returned to the elements from wince they came.

Thank God for little comic book shows like the one I attended last week. If you look around, you can find almost all of those great old books for a buck or two and relive those glorious days of yesteryear! As I see it, why buy the crap today for three bucks when, for a buck, you can read comics from those halcyon days when people still knew what the hell a comic really was! Of course, there are still some good "mainstream" titles out there today as well as some fantastic "Indy" books such as those produced by my contemporaries (Yeah, that was a shameless plug).

One of my favorite issues from my youth was Marvel's Invaders #36. I'd originally bought it because of Captain America, but the book's villain Iron Cross quickly became one of my favorite bad guys and served as an archetype for all the armored characters I'd create in my formative years. More so that even Iron Man. Of course, the end of the issue left me hanging for nearly thirty years. As most of you know, finishing my Invaders collection was my big resolution for '07 and, with the help of such little shows as the one I recently attended in South Bend, I just might make it.
Back during WW II, code names like "The Whizzer" conjured up whole different meanings than they would today.
One of my earliest comic book characters I created was an armored guy named the Crimson Crusader, who looked suspiciously like Iron Cross, although I had the good sense to remove the Iron Cross and pointy helmet from his suit. I'd post a picture of him, but that would be embarrassing for all of us. Hey, I was, like twelve at the time.
Finally, after nearly thirty years, I found out the fate of Cap & Company in Invaders #37!

I was also able to nearly complete the nine-issue Bicentennial storyline running through Captain America around issue 200 (what else, right?), written & drawn by Jack "The King" Kirby. The "Mad Bomb" storyline, beginning with #193, marked Kirby's return to the book and offered up a whole new dynamic that makes no bones about being a comic book. The story might come off as a bit cheesy compared to the "ultra reality" of today's books, but if I wanted "reality," I wouldn't read comic books.

Amidst a story of over-the-top action, we have a moment of social commentary between Cap and his buddy Falcon that is as well placed as any roundhouse punch delivered by the Star-Spangled Avenger.
And speaking of action, fergeddaboudit! Nobody did action like The King!
Here's another comic from my youth that was lost in time. Although long-time Hulk artist Herb Trimpe, along with Joe Staton supplied the interior art for this issue, the cover (though uncredited in the Mighty Marvel Manner) was clearly penciled by industry giant Gil Kane. This along with countless other reasons is what's wrong with Marvel Comics today. Covers sell books, it's a fact. Back in the day, a comic book's cover gave you a glimpse of what waited for you inside, although sometimes misleading you on purpose such as the cover to Invaders #35 (posted above). Nonetheless, the covers told a story as much as the interior. Anymore, Marvel's covers are just mini posters of the book's heroes just standing around striking heroic poses with little clue as to what awaits you within its glossy, overpriced pages.
This particular issue pitted Doc Samson in a rematch against the green-skinned Goliath. Samson has always been one of my favorite super heroes who, for some reason, never got his own title. Peter David did some cool things with him within the past decade, but he still never got his own book, until recently, but here's the catch: Marvel, in its infinite wisdom, changed his friggin' uniform! Why would you change that uniform?! I can't tell you how many times I've aped that uniform for some of my own characters! One day, I plan on doing a Doc Samson painting, but more on that later.

And as for other things I'll be doing in the future, with the popularity of my "Dollar Store Cinema" posts (from all twelve of you who read my blog), I'm going to be turning DSC into its own blog.
My first post will be for "Isle of the Snake People," starring the legendary Boris Karlof.

And having said that, all I can say is, see you next time, boppers!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Fangs of the Dollar Store Cinema!

I can't say anything too bad about this movie.
This one delivers, folks. I read a couple of not-so-forgiving website reviews lambasting it for not having a single original idea, but let's face it, it's a friggin' vampire movie. Even back in 1968, there was nothing new under the sun in vampire movies, pun intended."Long life!" toast Italian hotties Diana Lorys (left) & Anita Eckberg as foreshadowing for things to come. At first, Eckberg orders a whiskey but, upon discovering they haven't any, settles for beer. What a woman!
The plot goes something like this...

Sylvia (Eckberg) inherits her family's ancestral home in a remote Italian village. When she arrives to inspect it, she finds it to be full of a handful of Amazon-like vampires, her creepy, metrosexual uncle, who doesn't appear to be any older than she is and one big peeping tom. Sylvia's husband and his friend, whose name isn't really important, attempt to rescue her. There's blood sucking, a little S&M and some humor here and there.
In an unfortunate, libido-driven misunderstanding on Sylvia's husband's best friend's part (see, told you his name wasn't important), when one of the vamps asks him if his blood is hot, he replies, "Hey, I'm Italian!"
Maybe Fangs of the Living Dead wasn't the most original vampire movie ever made, but it certainly wasn't the worst. A buck's a buck, right?

See you soon, boppers.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Photo Album!

As some of you might know, I'm beginning a comic book project I'm particularly excited about with the Mr. Satyr himself, Mike Indovina. Of course, that doesn't mean I haven't been excited about all the other projects I've worked on, but this one is of special importance to me. Not only have I been promising a very patient Mike that I'd get to this project eventually, but ever since I was twelve years old, all I've ever wanted to do was draw superhero comics and in the almost three years I've been getting my feet wet in the Indy scene, this is the closest I've come to doing a "long underwear" book.

So, for the next few months, between working with Mike, working on a handful of paintings, doing more work on Salem, AZ with the Inkslinger hisself and Big 'Fro Brown, I don't exactly know what images I'll be able to post and when, so in the meantime, here's a super sized post. Inspired by a recent post by fellow blogger the Evil DM, I thought I could fill some time with a bunch of photos and images I've amassed over the past few months.

First up, a creepy little dinosaur picture my six-year-old Ayden drew using Microsoft Paint.
Ayden, who turns seven on January 24th, just so happens to share a birthday with Ernest Borgnine and the late Jaded Minstrel himself, Warren Zevon. Not too shabby company if you ask me. I share mine with Jenna Jameson, also not too shabby.
Here's a random 1970s comic image for ya and a perfect example why Marvel's Misty Knight was one bad sister.

Speaking of bad girls, what's hotter than a redheaded Russian spy in a skin-tight Emma Peel knock-off? Nothing! If I'd been writing comic back in the 70s, I'd have teamed her and Misty Knight up in their own book in a second!

I miss you, Maestro.
In a Viking way, of course.
Drop me an email, man!
My wife's probably gonna kill me for postin' this one, but that's what she gets for showing me this picture. Thank God Arlaux takes after you, baby.

And now for the opposite of "cute," Danny "Navajas" Trejo is simply the scariest-lookin' hombre in Hollywood.

Why hasn't anybody done anything with Black Vulcan lately? Talk about a waste! If DC Comics could bring the Wonder-friggin'-Twins from the 70s small screen to comic books, why not a character worth salvaging? And what about Super Chief and Eldorado, for that matter? His magic cape allowed him to teleport, for cryin' out loud! How cool was that?
Speaking of salvaging worthwhile things? Does anybody remember Jackie Brown? There's an old saying that goes Stagecoach made John Wayne a star, but The Searchers made him an actor. In my humble opinion, the same could be said about Pam Grier. Foxy Brown made her a star, but Jackie Brown made her an actress. Don't get me wrong, Miss Grier's made about fifty movies, most of which I've seen and I enjoyed her in each one, but there was something about Jackie Brown that made me wonder why the hell doesn't she have a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame?!

She would've made a helluva Misty Knight too!

Can you believe this bow-huntin', head-turnin' painter, who isn't afraid to get her hands bloody (literally) would have anything to do with a couple of comic geeks like Nik and myself? For any of you living in a cave up till now, Miss Nicole McClain has taken on the likeness of Salem, AZ's gunslingin' witch Kerry Connelly.

"If they move...Kill 'em!"

Remember the good ol' days of comic book ads? This ad sure promises a lot for only $6.98!

The OTF?

Here's a cool dude in a loose mood. If anybody even remembered who he is, I'd say, "Move over, Tone Loc." Hard to believe my little boy's three years old!

Speaking of incorrigible three-year-olds, here's a long-thought lost picture of Arlaux at about that age, turning our old entertainment center into her own hide out. Now that's entertainment!

And that pretty much wraps things up. Keep checkin' back, boppers...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gun Street Girls

"With a head full of bourbon and a dream in the straw.
And a Gun Street Girl was the cause of it all."

--Tom Waits, Gun Street Girl

Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard once said, "
All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun." As much as it pains me to agree with a cheese eatin' surrender monkey (thank you Groundskeeper Willie), he's right. Apparently the late Warren Zevon had similar sentiments when it came to song lyrics. I think it's maybe some sort of "black widow" fixation, beautiful but deadly. As I've been trying to come up with new themed posts for '07, "girls with guns" seemed to be as good a topic as any. And so, our first entry is the totally yummy Yuko Moriyama in a still from the 1993 Japanese horror flick Zeram! I highly recommend this movie for more than just Moriyama's role in it, but film critique isn't exactly the point of this entry. Here's a few more to demonstrate what is.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Project Update for the New Year!

Pass the air freshener because it's time for a big ol' photo dump! Yeah, I know, pretty gross, but I couldn't help it. I'm only leaving this particular post up for a few days, however as it's meant mostly for my contemporaries to see what I'm up to. Posted here are the pencils to Salem, AZ#1, pages 24 to 38 along with the finished cover and a penciled pin-up I did awhile back.

Enjoy 'em while ya can.