Reading and reviewing the 1992-93 launch titles for Image Comics

Posted in comic books with tags , , on September 10, 2014 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics

You may have heard on Nerd Lunch that I set out a goal of reading the original flagship titles of Image Comics’ 1992 launch. I remember collecting comics at the time, but I mostly ignored the Image Comics onslaught because as a comic reader, I wasn’t a fan of most of those guys. Todd McFarlane I knew from Spider-Man and Venom, and I liked him, but Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld I knew from X-Men and X-Force and I was NOT a fan. Back then, Lee and Liefeld had very similar art styles that I hated. Lee has since evolved into one of my favorite artists but Liefeld has not evolved AT ALL and continues to be an atrocious artist. Again, if you listen to the podcast, you may have heard me mention Liefeld a few times.

Regardless, I was waxing nostalgic about that 1992 Image comics launch and regretting that I never really gave those first 6 or 7 titles a chance, especially now that I am a big fan of Jim Lee.  So, I thought I’d revisit those launch titles today with fresh eyes and see if they still hold up.

So, let’s go in the order I read them.

Spawn 01 Spawn splash page
Spawn  (creator: Todd MacFarlane) – Released in May 1992.  This is the big launch release of Image.  It wasn’t first, that award goes to Liefeld’s Youngblood, which I’ll get to, but this title personifies the early days of Image Comics.  And I’ve never read it.  I think I even own the first issue from when I bought it off the comic rack, but I never read it.  Looking over the run of the series the first 20 issues features mostly McFarlane with fill-ins by Greg Capullo on art as well as Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Erik Larsen, Dave Sims and Frank Miller on writing duties whenever Todd had to drop off to do a crossover.  So I thought those 20 issues was a good indicator of the series as a whole.  So that’s what I read, and, for the most part, I liked it.  The story is a little disjointed and all over the place, but Spawn as a concept is pretty cool and it keeps a lot of the mystery of the character alive by not revealing too much all at once.  And McFarlane’s art style is CRAZY.  It’s a very splash page heavy aesthetic with ridiculous amounts of cape porn.  I thought Batman artists like to draw capes, but McFarlane is not only on a different level, he’s playing a completely different game.  Amazing. I’d recommend this, the art definitely elevates this, but the story isn’t that bad either.

Wildcats #1 Wildcats #4
WildC.A.T.S. (creators: Jim Lee and Brandon Choi) – Of all the titles I was planning to read, this was the one I was most excited about.  Like I mentioned, Jim Lee is currently one of my favorite artists.  He won me over with Batman: Hush and his work on the New 52 Justice League.  Since these early Image days Lee has evolved into an amazing artist.  Traveling back in time to 1992 to read the first 13 issues of this title, I remember why I stopped reading X-Men. This book is pretty much garbage. The art is confusing and jumbled.  There are WAY too many characters and WAY too many characters are too similar to each other as well as WAY too similar to Wolverine.  By my count there are at least three overt Wolverine analogs in this book.  And holy sh*t, Lee, stop putting SO MUCH F**KING DIALOG ON THE PAGE.  Check out this splash page (click to make BIGGER).

Wildcats splash page

This is the problem with the entire comic. Too many characters, too much backstory, too much goddam dialog.  It was a monumental chore reading through the first 13 issues.  I’m glad that’s over.  I also acquired a later run of WildC.A.T.S. which featured a redesign by Alan Moore who wrote about 14 issues of the title in the late 90s.  However, I’m going to wait a little bit to read those.  I’m WildC.A.T.’ed out.  Plus, I HATE typing that stupid title with the periods every. single. time.

Savage Dragon 01 Savage Dragon 02
The Savage Dragon (Creator: Erik Larsen) – This was the title I was most excited about trying after WildC.A.T.S. (HATE. Typing. That. Name.).  I’ve never read Larsen’s Dragon comic but I’ve always wanted to start.  This was the perfect opportunity.  It was tough to ferret out where I should begin.  Apparently it started as a four issue mini-series, and then began as a regular title, starting over again at #1.  Once I figured that out, I was able to grab the Baptism of Fire collection with that first mini-series and then also grab the first 6 issues of the regular title.  I also bought a standalone issue #0 from 2009 which featured the never before revealed origin of Savage Dragon that was only printed in one of Image Comics’ anniversary collections.  And it holds up.  This is a pretty fun, creative book.  Larsen has a lot of fun with the characters and introduces interesting villains and side characters you actually want to read about.  There are even some awesome guest stars like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in issue #2.  All in all, a pretty great book that I would love to continue reading from this point forward.  And it’s amazing to me that Erik Larsen has written and drawn the majority of this book since the very beginning.  Keep on keepin’ on, Erik.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2014 is coming!

Posted in Halloween, magazine, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on September 4, 2014 by Paxton

AWESOME-tober-fest 2014

It’s the first week in September!  Which means we are now officially 1 month from October 1st, which is the beginning of my annual AWESOME-tober-fest Halloween celebration.  Needless to say I am hip deep in preparations for this year’s festivities.

Technically, this is my EIGHTH year doing a Halloween celebration as I started in 2007 with a few posts during the month of October.  However, the daily AWESOME-tober-fest as you’ve come to know it wasn’t really born until 2009 when I did Frankenstein.  Which means this is my sixth year of doing the full blown AWESOME-tober-fest celebration.

Since Frankenstein in 2009 I’ve covered; wolf men, vampires, movie maniacs and then zombies.  My original plan was to do ghosts as my theme this year, but you know what, I thought it was high time I paid special attention to one thing that really had an effect on me in my high school days.  And it crosses all these boundaries.  This year I want to focus on Fangoria magazine.

Fangoria

I’ve used scans from old Fangoria magazines throughout each year of AWESOME-tober-fest, but this year I’m going to be doing an entire month of only Fangoria goodness featuring covers, articles, ads, pictures, Scream Greats movie posters, the Video Eye of Dr Cyclops and the Nightmare Library.

Video Eye of Dr Cyclops
Nightmare Library

I’ve got a stack of magazines and I’m going to comb through them all and bring you some of my favorite content from all of my favorite issues of horror’s greatest magazine.

And, as a bonus, every Friday in October is going to be Fangoria Movie Friday.  So it’s not just all scanned magazine content I’m going to review old B-horror movies that were featured in 5 of my favorite issues of Fangoria.  These won’t be the A-listers like a Nightmare on Elm Street or a Friday the 13th.  I’m talking something more along the lines of The Reanimator (which I reviewed last year).  I’m looking forward to those reviews because I’ve picked 5 movies (one for each Friday in October) that I’ve never seen before but have always wanted to watch.  And the movie will definitely have been featured in some way in an issue of Fangoria.  It should be a lot of fun.

So gird your loins, ladies and gents, and head back here on Oct 1 and, you know what, that’s a Wednesday, I’m making an executive decision, AWESOME-tober-fest 2014 will start two days earlier on Monday Sep 29.  Holy crap, I’m starting AWESOME-tober-fest in September!  I hope I don’t get cited by the Halloween police.  The staff here at the blog just looked at me with murder in their eyes.  Oh well, hopefully I’ll see you back here at the end of the month!

And, as always, I’ll be a part of the giant Countdown to Halloween celebration as well.
2012 banner
Check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more information on how you, too, can join in on the fun.

 

Nerd Lunch Podcast Episode 146 plus an appearance on Classic Film Jerks!

Posted in movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week the nerds are joined by Nick from On Second Scoop to talk about pop culture food stuffs. The group assign each other pop culture properties and specific food lines and we have to come up with a bunch of fictional food items based on movies and TV shows.

TMNT Pies
(Via X-Entertainment)

Expect lots of talk about TMNT, Kool-Aid, Lizzie Mcguire, Laff-A-Lympics, Twizzlers and Yoplait Go-gurt. It’s a fun discussion that I think you are going to like.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner. Or listen to it online RIGHT HERE.

Also, this week, I was a guest (for the third time!) on the super awesome Classic Film Jerks podcast.  I was there with Digio and Bloom discussing the 1948 Bogart gold digging classic, Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Riding along with us was Carrie from ClassicFilmFan.com.  We all have a blast discussing how extremely unattractive Humphrey Bogart is, how awkward 1940s CPR is as well as how this movie ain’t no Hidalgo.  Download the podcast from iTunes or head on over to ClassicFilmJerks.com to give the episode a listen.

Thumbing through a SkyMall catalog from 1996

Posted in magazine, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , on August 25, 2014 by Paxton

Right after college I joined an IT consulting firm. Our business was based on clients. So I traveled 100% to client sites all over the country implementing a corporate financials software suite called PeopleSoft.  So, during my eight years as an IT consultant I became very familiar with airplanes and flying across the country.  Because I was flying nearly every week I picked up one of the first commercially available portable DVD players on the market back in 1999, the Panasonic DVD L-50.  I still have it and it still works.  I literally just let my nearly 4 year old son use it a few weeks ago when the family flew to Colorado.

Because I was on planes 50 weeks out of the year I also became intimately familiar with the in flight magazines.  Namely, the SkyMall Catalog.  It offered interesting products the likes of which you wouldn’t see unless you walked into a Brookstone in the mall.  It was fascinating every month to check out what oddball items were being offered that you could order directly off the Airfone.

During my recent family trip to Colorado I thumbed through the current magazine and thought back longingly to the old catalogs from back in the day.  What would they look like now?  Well, I got an old copy of the catalog so let’s take a look at the treasures contained within.

The SkyMall copy I have is from mid 1996 and is stamped Southwest Airlines.

SkyMall cover

Each airline had their own version of SkyMall, the main difference being that there were a few pages in the back that sold clothing and items emblazoned with the airlines’ logo.  But they all had the same awesome merch and (now) vintage technology.

So let’s get started.

Les Concierges
This ad for a concierge company looks like the cover of a 90s video game simulator called something like Rich & Famous where you play as a wealthy CEO.  I imagine it’s a game like Aerobiz.

Health Rider
There are several things that are guaranteed and written into the laws of nature. Death, of course. Taxes. And companies will never stop trying to develop the “perfect” exercise machine. And they’ll all make you look equally ridiculous when you use them (I’m looking at you, Health Rider).

Bolle Sport glasses Auto Tint Sunglasses
Another guaranteed truth. Companies will always try to design new “gimmick” sunglasses that vaguely perform some “new, cool” function but they look like rejected props from a DEVO video.  Or any 60s movie that features people from the future.

Pop Up Hot Dog cooker
This pop up hot dog cooker/bun warmer is STILL sold in SkyMall magazine today. With nearly the exact same picture. Either it’s a best seller or they sold out 20 years ago and just forgot that it was still in the catalog.

Golf Club flask
This is straight up Rodney Dangerfield from Caddyshack awesome.  I would play golf just so I could use this.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 144 – Adventures in Craigslisting

Posted in internet, podcast, pop culture, technology, websites with tags , , , , on August 12, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

And we meet again. This week the nerds are joined by former Atomic Geek and current Classic Film Jerk Andrew Bloom to talk about that ancient bastion of Internet classifieds, Craigslist.

bill_delivers5

We all delve into our local Craigslist Classifieds and find some nerdy and weird ads featuring VHS tapes, compulsively curated comic book collections, the Fun TV portable videotape player and Bill. Who makes deliveries.  It’s a fun discussion with lots of Internet craziness.  Come check it out.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner. Or listen to it online right here.

Nerd Lunch and Expanded Fandomverse Podcasts

Posted in movies, podcast, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , on August 5, 2014 by Paxton

I’ve been gone a week, so things have been a little hectic here. Consequently, I missed this week’s episode of Nerd Lunch. CT and Jeeg fared well without me. They invited Howie Decker from UnderScoopFire and they talked about Man Crushes.

Man Crush

They run the gammut with current men, older men, dead men and even cartoon men. Surprisingly, I am not on any of their lists. A little shocking to be honest.  Check out Nerd Lunch episode 143 in iTunes, Stitcher or over on Nerd Lunch.

How about a podcast that I’m actually on? Two time 4th Chair guest, and my good friend, Jason Collier has joined a new podcast called The Expanded Fandomverse Podcast.

efp01

It’s a Star Wars themed podcast that interviews creative Star Wars fans to discover how Star Wars inspired them. Due to my friendship with Jason and the fact I’m currently a mostly not entirely unsuccessful podcaster, they asked me to be their first guest for a “pilot” episode. The show isn’t on iTunes just yet, so you have to navigate over to the site to listen. But you can listen to the show through your browser.

Check out the pilot episode of The Expanded Fandomverse Podcast featuring an interview with me right here.  They interview me about my blog, how it got started and how that led me to become the famous podcaster that I am today.  And how Star Wars ties into all of that.  I had a really great time with these guys and urge you to check out this new podcast.

Remembering Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

Posted in found footage, Genres, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by Paxton

I’m a fan of the found footage genre. The genre gets a lot of sh*t from people, but honestly, I think some of these movies are scarier than the “splatter” or “serial killer” movies that are currently released. Anyway, I’m prepping for an appearance on the awesome podcast, The Bloke Show, in which we are going to discuss found footage films so I was trying to think of the first examples of found footage movies I remember seeing. Obviously, Blair Witch Project popped in my head first, but that wasn’t it. I remember seeing something else first.  I have a vivid memory of it, especially the ending.  But I’ll get to that.

In January 1998, the UPN Network aired the special presentation; Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.

Alien_Abduction00 Alien_Abduction01

I don’t remember how or why I watched it, but I did. It was presented very similarly as the Alien Autopsy footage, ie it was promoted as being real.  I know we get things like this all the time now, but in 1998, this was, if not unheard of, it was not common.

One thing I want to say to put this in context.  This special is, for lack of a better word, “trope-y”.  It has all the hallmarks of found footage and cheesy horror movies.  However, many of the found footage tropes hadn’t really been established at this time.  This special aired over a year before The Blair Witch Project was released in theaters.  In actuality, the special was a remake of an independent movie called UFO Abduction from 1989.  So in a sense, it was creating a lot of these tropes we now find so prevalent.  And the special created a sort of sensation and controversy when it aired because many people didn’t get that it was fiction. There really was no context for something like this before.  So, just keep that in mind as we go through it.

So, I was recently able to watch this thing again and I simply have to talk about it.  The beginning of the special had several talking head “experts” discuss what you are about to see.

Alien_Abduction03 Alien_Abduction04

Experts like the uber cool, black shirted video EFX editor who, while sitting next to a powered down computer monitor, explains that the things you’ll see in the upcoming video couldn’t be done with the consumer video technology available (well of course not, UPN created the effects). And the “former government agent” who can’t be shown on camera because of the stuff he’s “seen”.  I love how they actually give him a fake name, “Al James”.  Why?

Alien_Abduction05 Alien_Abduction05b

UPN also brought in a nuclear physicist awesomely named Stanton Friedman to help explain “electromagnetic interference” for whenever the footage gets all static-y or to explain to us how this footage is the most important scientific discovery of the millennium (which hadn’t actually happened yet).  Or the “certified” hypnotherapist to explain what everyone is “feeling” during the video.  Lots of heavy hitters in this segment.  To balance out these experts who are clearly actors we have actual alien abductees discuss their experiences as well in sequences which are even more staged and less believable than the “experts”.

So, the footage is setup by these experts.  A young man named Tommy McPherson is filming Thanksgiving dinner with his new video camera.

Alien_Abduction15

It starts off with normal family stuff. Lots of goofing off and bickering. Really boring as balls. I don’t want you to seek this out and waste your time watching it so I’m going to show you the good parts. The alien parts. And then the ending which for some reason had a big impact on me. So, to begin, the power goes out in the McPherson house. Some of “the men” go out to check the fuse box and see a giant explosion in the distance. Of course, they go check it out and find, in the distance, an alien ship. And a few aliens come out of the ship.  The guys keep far back from the action so Tommy has to zoom in on the aliens with his camera.

aa02_10

The aliens spot the guys in the distance and shoot a “laser” towards them. I created an animated GIF for you to see that this incident looks just as ridiculous in the footage as it sounds when I describe it. Below is what it looked like in the “footage”.  The alien is blasting the cow on the ground with a laser, stops, looks up at the camera and shoots it WAY to the left of the camera.  And, of course, the footage is replete with static from “electromagnetism” (Thanks, Stanton).

Alien_Abduction_laser

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