Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gumby Returns!!

So you're still not finding enough family-friendly titles to share with the kiddies these days? That's about to change, as a classic character returns to comics shops in September 2011.

The acclaimed Harvey nominated team of Christopher P. Reilly & Jorge Santillan (Punch & Judy) debut an all new Gumby and Pokey adventure like you've never seen before!
Thanks to Stefan Blitz for forwarding this neat mini-interview with writer Chris Reilly:

Q) What was the genesis of the book?

My buddy, Bob (Burden) was no longer writing the book and I thought there should be a Gumby book out there. As a creator, it’s possibly one of the greatest opportunities because you are literally working with a ball of clay; your imagination becomes the only limit to the sorts of stories you can. I approached publisher Mel Smith at San Diego Comic-Con last year and expressed my enthusiasm for the character and asked if I could pitch him a Gumby book. To my delight he said “yes” and even more delightful, he absolutely loved the script and let me pick the artist I would work with which was my friend and long time collaborator Jorge Santillan who delivered some of the best work of his career. I am always honored when an artist of Jorge’s caliber will turn my words into pictures.

Q) Were you a Gumby fan prior to writing this?

Yes, I have been a fan of Gumby since I was a kid and never stopped enjoying the animated shorts. I watched every episode ever created in one weekend when I got this gig and was amazed that for 3 days I could tell people that my job was watching Gumby shorts. I think what revealed what a huge fan I truly am when I went comatose when I was told I would get to create Gumby’s grandparents, Gumbert and Gumbasia.

Q) Who or what are the biggest influences on your work?

My list of deserving influences is enormous. I am constantly inspired by books, comics, music and film and am always discovering new influences. I should mention Michael Weldon’s Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film for being my dog eared wormhole to 2/3 of the amazing B movies I never would have seen if Michael hadn’t written about them, including my favorite horror film, 1957’s The Monster That Challenged the World. Suffice to say that if my influences hadn’t existed, I never would have written this story. Kind of a Back to the Future scenario.

Q) You and Jorge have collaborated before. What does he bring to the project?

Jeeze, what doesn’t Jorge bring to the project? He is the perfect collaborator. I write very long scripts, but I tone that down with Jorge because my elaborate panel breakdowns make me feel like I am telling Picasso how to paint. Jorge is an amazing talent. I would love to read a Gumby comic written and illustrated by Jorge, it would probably be a humbling experience for me. Jorge makes my job easy.

Q) In ten words or less, why should people read this book?

Gumbastic-fun-Adventure, chocolate igloos, Blockheads, not a zombie in sight.

I've seen the complete first issue (thanks again, Stefan) and it is really well-drawn, lots of fun, and just plain terrific. Highly recommended!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Gal" Friday! The Girls of Pizza Babe

Make no mistake, this weeks pair of Bulgarian Beauties were chosen primarily as a cautionary tale. It seems that these girls were promised restaurant jobs while visiting the United States for the summer and ended up in a real nightmare scenario.
Ralitsa Dzhambazova and Vanya Samokovareva, both of Bulgaria, were renting an apartment in Tampa, Florida. Unfortunately, after living there for three months, the girls discovered cameras hidden in their bathroom and bedrooms. The cameras had been wired to a router that was located in a locked closet, and were disguised to resemble motion detectors for a security system and smoke detectors.

Upon arrival in the states, they had sublet the apartment from Florida businessman Raj Armani. Armani claims to be in showbiz and owns a production company, an Indian restaurant (where the girls were first promised work) and a former cell phone store. However, Armani leveraged the young ladies into posing as models for his new business "Pizza Babe", featuring Ralitsa and Vanya in commercials, advertising, and an online website.

The two girls weren't the only ones living in that apartment either. There were originally six other girls living there [all of them foreign] and then one-by-one they started moving-out with no explanation. Now Ralista and Vanya believe they know why! Sheriff's deputies are currently investigating Raj Armani, who has not been charged with any crime. I say that the temporary lack of formal charges doesn't mean that he's not a sleazeball.
Ralitsa Dzhambazova
Vanya Samokovareva

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wild Boy in "The Invaders" (Ziff-Davis;1950)

It has been more than a year since I last posted a Wild Boy story. Consider this a teaser too, since I've chosen his adventures to displace Cave Girl on Tuesdays for the entire month of August. As a reminder, a young boy named David escaped from his sinister uncle, who had hired natives to kill him, and that boy later became known as "Wild Boy".

This story is from Wild Boy, Prince of the Jungle #10 [actually #1] (1950); originally published by Ziff-Davis. The artwork is credited to Paul Hodge. In "The Invaders" Wild Boy and his panther, Daro, are pitted in battle against two men of evil and violence who've come trailing into their Lost City seeking an easy fortune.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top 10 Defunct Comic Book Publishers: Fiction House

Jumbo Comics #1 (Sept.1938)
You've seen tons of this company's stuff in the Catacombs and we're all the better for it, trust me. Fiction House enjoyed a thirty year run publishing pulp magazines and comic books between the 1920s and the 1950s. Thurman T. Scott first expanded into comic books in the late 1930s, when that emerging medium seemed to be a viable alternative to fading pulps sales. Will Eisner & “Jerry” Iger, premiere "packagers" of complete comic books on demand for publishers looking to enter the field, convinced Scott to release Jumbo Comics #1 (Sept. 1938), featuring the company's most popular character, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Trivia: Jack "The King" Kirby cut his artistic teeth on a couple of that issues strips. Fiction House quickly became known for pinup-style good girl art in such series as Cowgirl Romances, Fight Comics, Firehair, Jungle Comics, Ka'a'nga, Jungle King, Planet Comics, Rangers Comics, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, The Spirit (five issues, 1952-54), Wambi and Wings Comics. Most of these series took their titles and general themes from the earlier Fiction House pulps and this model proved to be a hit.
Fiction House employed in-house or on a freelance basis such ground-breaking artists as Mort Meskin, Matt Baker (the first prominent African-American artist in comics), Nick Cardy, George Evans, Bob Powell, Lee Elias, and a contingent of rare female comics artists including Ruth Atkinson, Fran Hopper, Lily RenĂ©e, and Marcia Snyder. In fact, Fiction House's pulp-action stories predominantly featured strong, beautiful, competent heroines as nurses, pilots, detectives, spies and jungle queens; and they didn’t stand in any need of rescuing by the guys. These tough gals would just as soon sock the baddies in the chops themselves, as look at them.

Fiction House was one of the publishers specifically targeted in psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which partially blamed comic books for a rise in juvenile delinquency. In addition to horror comic books from other sources, Wertham cast blame on the sexy heroines of Fiction House, Fox Comics and others. As a result of this wide-ranging investigation by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, a public outcry by parents, a downturn in comics sales (along with the demise of the pulps) and the popularity of television and paperback novels competing for readers leisure time, Fiction House faced an increasingly difficult business environment, and closed shop. It’s easy enough to see that they just don’t make ‘em like Fiction House any more. Trying to buy affordable copies of these books on eBay is a challenge, but highly worth the effort!
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle #8 (1950)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cave Girl in "The Mau Mau Killers!" (ME;1954)

The sultry Cave Girl uses all of her nifty jungle-fighting skills to save a baby boy from a tribe of savages in a story written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Bob Powell called "The Mau Mau Killers!" from Cave Girl #13 (Jul-Sept;1954); originally published at the dawn of the Silver Age by Magazine Enterprises.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Vote for Female Commander Shepard!!

The friendly folks at Bioware staged a nice presence throughout Comic-Con this year with presentations devoted to the launch of Dragon Age 2: Legacy DLC (available online tomorrow), Star Wars: The Old Republic, and of course, Mass Effect 3. Although its been announced that ME3 has been pushed back until March 2012 to allow the developers more time on this high dollar franchise blockbuster game, that hasn't dimmed the expectations of gamers everywhere.

Now, the very vocal fans who've long been trumpeting their preference for Female Commander Shepard have earned a terrific perk. Bioware has posted six possible FemShepards on Facebook [here] to allow fans to choose the "official" version of the lady, with the winning option featured on promotional material for Mass Effect 3, on the game cover itself (alongside default Male Shepard) AND in her own game trailer.

Visit the Facebook link (above) and choose. Currently the voting breaks down as follows: #1 has 7,893 votes; #2 has 5,228 votes; #3 has 11,276 votes; #4 has 12,756 votes; #5 has a whopping 30,961 votes (the largest margin by far) and #6 has 3,579 votes. Number 5 seems to be the runaway favorite, but I couldn't find information for how long the vote will remain open, so that may change. Sadly, #6 is closest to my own customized in-game FemShepard, so I voted for that one. Just "like" the one that you prefer, and follow the results here as the tally will be updated regularly!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

At the Movies: Captain America: The First Avenger

Director Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer) and screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely have delivered a "note perfect" movie rendition of the origin of Captain America: The First Avenger. Actor Chris Evans absolutely nails the role of Steve Rogers, the skinny but plucky reject who repeatedly gets written off as being unfit for military service, and then volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into the star-spangled superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals during World War II. It's the key aspect of this particular character that Steve Rogers was "Captain America", before he underwent the super-soldier transition, and that's why this film works as well as it does. The inner quality of the man informs the character of the hero. This is the very thing that Dr. Erskine saw in him to begin with. Evans is topnotch, and damn, do they really work wonders in the CGI-process that altered his physical appearance into a 90 lb asthmatic. Wow!

No matter how much box office this flick banks, in a month chock-full of potential blockbusters, Captain America is yet another outstanding effort from Marvel/Disney Studios. Man, that Avengers movie is going to be something to see, and I hope they manage to blend all of these performances together come next May. The strong cast here really embodies many iconic roles from Marvels fictional universe, which is nice considering that certain inevitable changes were made to the Howling Commandos. Still it is ridiculously awesome seeing a version of those guys kick-ass on the big screen. The quality of the work done by Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones and the rest knocks this movie right out of the park. British actress Hayley Atwell WILL break your heart in her role as Agent Peggy Carter. I loved how this relationship was less love interest and more romance. My god she's good in this film, and tough, and beautiful. Don't take my word for it either, news stories are already pointing out how much search engine activity she's generating online. I know that I'm in love with her!

Trailers have clearly established that the bulk of Cap's origin and story occur during the "big war", but the framing sequence set in the modern era is ideally realized too. Everything from the score, to the special effects, costuming and performances just gets it "right" from start-to-finish. And I've got to say that the ending is PERFECT. Look for cameos, both expected (Samuel L. Jackson) and one subtle glimpse at a character who was originally a WW2 ally of Cap's.

I could ramble on, but doing so would likely veer far into spoiler territory, so just go SEE this terrific movie and enjoy it for yourself. Captain America: The First Avenger is easily one of the best superhero films ever made. I'm really proud of Johnston and the guys for not screwing this one up. The "King" would be proud. Highly recommended!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Samar in "Captured by the Amazons" (Quality;1940)

Samar returns to the Catacombs today in a short adventure tale called "Captured by the Amazons" from Feature Comics #36 (Sept.1940); originally published by Quality Comics and illustrated by John Celardo (aka "John Charles").
The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.



Friday, July 22, 2011

"Gal" Friday! Katy Perry

As a singer-songwriter and actress, Katy Perry is known for her unconventional style of dress. Her attire is often humorous, bright in color, and reminiscent of different decades, and she frequently uses fruit-shaped accessories, mainly watermelon, as part of her outfits.

Her rise to fame began with the release of her second single "I Kissed a Girl" in 2008, which went on to top international charts and an engaging slate of hits such as "Hot n Cold", "California Gurls", "Teenage Dream", "Firework", "E.T." and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" have cemented her status as a Queen of Pop.

It doesn't hurt that she is absolutely smoking hot, too! Perry lends her voice to the role of "Smurfette" in the upcoming 2011 film The Smurfs. She married British comedian Russell Brand on October 23, 2010. Oh, and please click on the smaller image (above; left), for an eye-popping look at the mighty fine assets of this weeks sexy "gal" Friday selection. Sheesh, talk about fireworks. Damn!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

SDCC: San Diego Comic-Con International!!

The biggest trade show of the comic book industry really gets underway today after last nights blowout preview. By the way, I'm not there. (Too big a crowd for little old me).

Any merciful visitors attending this west coast event who happen to acquire any promotional stuff from Bioware for Dragon Age 2 or, even better, Mass Effect 3, can trade it to yours truly for some cool stuff too.

Just say in!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top 10 Defunct Comic Book Publishers: Harvey Comics

Casper's Ghostland #12 -1959 series]
Alfred Harvey founded Harvey Comics in 1941 (after acquiring Brookwood Publications) and featured a combination of characters it inherited from Brookwood, licensed characters such as the Green Hornet and Joe Palooka and its own original characters. It was Harvey’s stock of licensed characters which became the bulk of their output. These included Famous Studio staples Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, Herman and Katnip, and Little Audrey. Harvey also licensed characters from popular newspaper comic strips, such as Mutt and Jeff and Sad Sack. Additionally, Harvey developed original properties such as Richie Rich, Little Dot, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, Stumbo the Giant and Little Lotta. Many of these classic titles were created by their most prolific artist, Warren Kremer. Trivia: Harvey's well-known mascot was "Joker" a jack-in-the-box style character.

While the company tried to diversify its line with brief forays into superhero, suspense, horror, western and other genres, kid comics ultimately were their true forte. In 1959, Harvey purchased rights for the entire Famous Studios roster, then repackaged and distributed these shorts to television as Harveytoons, even as the company continued production on new comics. Casper the Friendly Ghost, who had been Famous' most popular original character, now became Harvey's top draw and associated characters such as Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, The Ghostly Trio, Casper's horse Nightmare and Wendy the Good Little Witch were added to the Harvey line.
Richie Rich #32 (Apr.1965)
Due to a declining children's comics market, Harvey ceased publishing in 1982 and founder Alfred Harvey retired. Diamond Comic Distributors owner, Steve Geppi, paid $50,000 for Harvey's entire archive of original art from the Harvey comic Sad Sack, plus additional properties in 1984. Since then the entire Harveytoons media catalogue has been passed around through a variety of entities, but for generations of youngsters, their classic lineup of family-friendly characters remains timeless.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cave Girl in "The Amazon Assassins!" (ME; 1953)

It's Tuesday, so as promised here is another Cave Girl story from Cave Girl #12 (1953); originally published by Magazine Enterprises, once again written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Bob Powell.

This is the last story from this issue, and in it you'll see Cave Girl defending the Wambooli people against attacks by the Amazons. Sadly, she gets captured and is forced to fight lions. And here I thought that sexy Amazon warriors always stripped down there prisoners for some neat one-on-one time. Oh well, I hate to see that bubble burst.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: the copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Monday, July 18, 2011

At the Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Short and sweet is going to have to suffice, since I just realized that I had forgotten to go back and actually post my intended review of this film. Fans of the books shouldn't be too disappointed with the final installment of this blockbuster franchise, as it is a faithful adaptation of the novel. Changes are evident from the source material, but minimized for the most part. Great acting, and a satisfying conclusion make this one not too miss.