Monday, February 20, 2017

MAN OR ASTROMAN

Man Or Astroman? started in the early 1990s with a fun cocktail of blistering surf-punk guitar and frequent nods to classic sci-fi. Fans of MST3K might remember the band's cover of the main theme, not to mention many of the group's recordings begin with sound samples from cheesy MST flicks. Here's one I always enjoyed called Maximum Radiation Level from Deluxe Men in Space (1996). Seems like the Cold War is heating up again, so maybe it's timely. Duck and cover (and enjoy)!

Friday, February 17, 2017

SPIDER-MAN JAPAN

Spider-Man holds a special place in the hearts of fans of live-action Japanese classics (tokusatsu). Supaidaman was Spidey on Turbo! The series even included a giant robot, which appeared in Ernie Cline' awesome Ready Player One. I sure hope Steven Spielberg will be able to license all the cool references in the novel for his current movie adaptation. Here's the intro to the Japanese show. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

READY PLAYER ONE NEW EDITION

My favorite book of the last few years has been Ernie Cline's Ready Player One. Not only is it a fun sci-fi take on the Willy Wonka premise, but all of the trials and riddles the protagonist must solve are steeped in 1980s pop culture. Ernie, who also wrote the Star Wars-inspired movie Fanboys, struck gold when he sold the book (his first novel) and Steven Spielberg snatched it up as his next project. They are filming right now! And if that's not awesome enough news, John Williams will be scoring the film! I've been so excited for Ernie. And as a huge fan of the book, I've collected editions from all over the world (Space Invaders are a common cover design motif). I even have a special copy of the first edition that has been signed by many people referenced in the novel- my own personal quest to celebrate the book and connect with the culture of my youth. Now that I finished writing my 1960s spy novel,  I'm inspired to write my next book about the late 1970s and 1980s. Meeting up with my heroes through RPO has been super fun and good preparation to write. So why bring this up now? Ready Player One was just released in a new Large Print edition this week. Check it out at Amazon. Congrats to Ernie Cline on the continuing success of his badass book. Enjoy! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

RICHARD HATCH R.I.P.

Battlestar Galatica star and Golden Globe nominee Richard Hatch passed away today at the age of 71. Hatch originated the role of Captain Apollo in the classic 1978 sci-fi series- a main TV staple of my youth. Surrounded by an ensemble of salty pilot characters, Hatch's Apollo was the cool adult in the room. Dashing and heroic, he was also the sweet, responsible guy who adopted the orphan boy, Boxy, after the human race was almost wiped out by the robotic Cylon invaders. He played a great leader and role model, who was in turn being mentored by his kindly admiral father, Adama (portrayed by Bonanza's Lorne Greene). I really looked up to Apollo as a kid! And I think every boy in my class that year sported his haircut. Hatch kept one foot in the Battlestar Galactica universe over the years, penning five novels, developing a new series, and starring as the dark criminal-turned politician, Tom Zarek, in the the 2003 re-boot of BSG. When I met Hatch at a convention a couple of years ago he was excited to talk about his continuing efforts to produce new material based on Battlestar Galactica and on his Star Trek character, Anaxar. Most recently I lobbied for him to visit an upcoming convention in northern California. BSG creator Ronald Moore tweeted: "Richard Hatch was a good man, a gracious man, and a consummate professional. His passing is a heavy blow to the entire BSG family." And BSG co-star Edward James Olmos tweeted: "Richard Hatch you made our universe a better place We love you for it. Rest In Peace my friend @SoSayWeAll the Admiral!" So sorry to hear about the loss of one of my childhood heroes. He is survived by his son, Paul.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

FRANK MILLER

It's hard to imagine what path my life might have taken if I hadn't been exposed to the work of writer/artist Frank Miller in the 1980s. During his creative explosion Miller redefined Daredevil as a dramatic Noir saga with Japanese-influenced Ninja and panel design. He also wrote an epic Samurai sci-fi adventure called Ronin, inspired by the work of Moebius and Goseki Kojima. Fans also included Kevin Eastman, who went on to co-create the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My deep interests in Japan (I lived there in '85 and then between '88-'91) and in the comic arts were really fueled during those bus rides back to boarding school from Moondance Comics in Brattleboro, Vermont. Tucked under the arch in Harmony Parking lot back in the day, Moondance was my oasis and steady supplier of glossy bliss. I never knew when issues were coming out, so every Saturday I signed up for the "Bratt-trip," hoping to follow up on Miller's cliffhangers. I have so many vivid memories of reading his comics on the bus back to school. We weren't allowed TV back then, and these comic characters really came to life and inhabited my imagination for years. Each episode in his stories was incredibly dynamic and thrilling. And by the time I got back to school, I was already thrown into great suspense and eager for the next installment. These were the days before binge-consumption, when we could keep stories alive and vital for months and months. The death of Elektra and the first chapter of Ronin are forever imprinted in my inner landscape. My mind can replay the images in total, as if I had watched Miller's stories up on the film screen, rather than as a series of panels on paper. He was a genius! Of course, his Batman book, The Dark Knight Returns, was yet another masterpiece, and it changed the direction of Batman for all time. Miller is currently publishing a new installment in his growing series of Dark Knight sagas. I got to meet Frank Miller twice. The first time was rather rushed, but it was at the height of my Miller-mania. He stopped by Mort Walker's Cartoon Art Museum when in was in Port Chester (a cool castle location!), and he spoke to a small audience about his various projects. I had some copies of his books to sign, but Brian Walker whisked him out of the room at the end. It all worked out well, though. Brian and I eventually became friends and I wrote the Conversations series book about his dad, Mort. And I met Frank Miller again at the first MoCCA festival in NYC. Although I spent most of my time there with Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), I also had a drawing made by Klaus Janson, which both he and Miller signed. I've recently been looking back at Miller's Daredevil and Ronin covers and letting my mind sift through the memories. I have so much to thank him for! Below: some iconic images from Daredevil, Ronin, and Wolverine (art), and Frank Miller talking about his work in 1987. Enjoy!












Wednesday, February 1, 2017

STAR WARS STRIPS

The classic Star Wars newspaper comic strips by Russ Manning have been collected into a new hardcover edition by IDW and Marvel. From the press release: "The first of three volumes that present for the first time ever the classic Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979-1984 in its complete format--including each Sunday title header and "bonus" panels in their meticulously restored original color. Initially the color Sundays and B&W dailies told separate stories, but within six months the incomparable Russ Manning merged the adventures to tell brand new epic seven-days-a-week sagas that rivaled the best science fiction comics of all time. Volume One contains 575 sequential comic strips from the strip’s premiere on March 11, 1979 to October 5, 1980." Coming April 25th! Pre-orders at Amazon and at your local comic shop. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

REBEL GIRL

Here's a cool homage to Carrie Fisher and her Star Wars character, Princess Leia, featuring "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

PRINCESS BRIDE SIGNING

Princess Bride signing: A number of cast members from this cult classic will be at the FanX Comic-Con in Salt Lake City in March, 2017. Fans in the area will be able to meet up with Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, and Wallace Shawn! Stan (the Man) Lee and Weird Al will also be there! More info here


Sunday, January 8, 2017

BOWIE MTV CHALLENGE

Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. Although he's been gone for almost a year now, I still have difficulty finding the words to express just how important he was to me. Creative, diverse, and inspiring, DB was like a favorite cousin I never met, though I did see him perform five or six times over the years. I used to write a site called Art Pioneers and the last entry was to announce the release of Bowie's album, Lazerus. Little did I know he would pass away the very next day. I wanted to celebrate his birthday today as a hero of the Atari Days era. I may post more clips later, but I want to begin with this interesting interview he did with MTV's Mark Goodman in 1983, where he challenged them to come clean on their lack of coverage of black artists. I like how he continued to press the issue- a cool moment of criticism for the medium within which he was operating. Rebel Rebel. Check it out.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

ERIN GRAY

Happy Birthday to actress Erin Gray! Born on this day in 1950, Gray rocketed on my radar in 1979 when she was cast as Colonel Wilma Deering in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I loved how she portrayed a strong female role-model on that series. Much like the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman, Deering was an independent and powerful character who reminded me of the real women in my family. It was a cool age that started to show some evolution in regards to gender. Gray once said, "I was the first female colonel. I enjoyed being that kind of role model for young women watching the show. A woman can be a colonel! A woman can be in charge! Those were new ideas then." Despite advancements in the culture, many people have continued to suffer from power struggles and abuse. Gray courageously shared her story of domestic abuse with Stand! here. This reminds me of a documentary I once helped get made called Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines. We heard from many great minds in the film, including Lynda Carter, Gloria Steinem, Trina Robbins, Lindsay Wagner, and Kathleen Hanna. And as they discussed the various female action characters in films in TV shows through the decades, it was shocking to see how many were sacrificed, tortured, or were simply patterned on male power symbols. The culture still has a long way to go, but I want to give a heartfelt salute of gratitude to Erin Gray (and Lynda and Lindsay) for showing us our better potential back in the 1970s. We can get there! Celebrate by re-exploring the Buck Rogers TV series on DVD or Blu-ray. Reprints of the TV comic book were published recently by Hermes Press. Enjoy!