Friday, December 31, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Crystal Harris

Hey, folks, this is Hef's new fiance! (hint: he's 84 & she's 24) There ain't no justice in the world!!

Crystal Harris was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for December 2009. She was born in Arizona, but grew up in San Diego; so maybe it's something in the water out there. I mean come ON, even if your ticket to celebrity status requires you to sleep with an octogenarian, why in the hell would a chick with her assets choose to opt out of the dating pool already - in her sultry prime - for a drooling codger, who has long gone on record as relying on Viagra to get his business done, and when in all probability every other male celebrity lounging around the pool at the Playboy Mansion is likely interested?

No, it doesn't make sense. Even for a mountain of cash, and a bacchanalia-infused lifestyle at the all-you-can-squeeze buffet.

In fact, the line of hotties who've been willing to get into the sack with Mr. Hefner grew extremely creepy way back when he hit his sixties, but "eighty-four" years old, and this perpetually juvenile delinquent still can't make a love connection with a more age-appropriate woman? By the way, Hefner turned sixty the year that his new fiance was actually born. [That's so sexy isn't it? Yucky!] This from the man who divorced former Playmate of the Year (1989) Kimberley Conrad in March 2010. Yeah, I know that they had been separated for more than a decade, but heck, she lived right next door to him and at forty-eight, she remains very striking. For shits & giggles, let's just ignore the group of dim bulbs who've parlayed their own roll in the hay experiences with the famous fossil into media careers based on the "The Girls Next Door" reality ("ha") cable series.

Listen, I'm a "having his cake and eating it too" kind of guy myself, but this news is way beyond ridiculous. The pile of evidence that an army of Playmates really is that stupid gets larger, no matter how hot they appear to be. Oh well, it is good enough to earn Crystal a quick mention as the last "Gal" Friday of 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sgt. Bell, R.A.F. Demon (Chesler;1941)

Man, it was really hard to tear myself away from Pandora tonight in order to get this final story from Chesler's Dynamic Comics #1 (Oct 1941) posted.

I was chilling out listening to the likes of Sinatra, Martin, Bennett, Darin, Presley, Cole and well you get the picture. Classic tunes, classic entertainers....ah, bliss!

The short and sweet version: This is the origin of Sgt. Bell, R.A.F. Demon, who is a fighter pilot, how he manages to be an enlisted man and rate that lofty duty is beyond me? The back cover reproduces the covers of all four of Dynamic Publications, Inc.'s titles that started anywhere from a month before this issue to two month afterwards.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mass Effect 2

Courtesy of my large new flat screen television, and a nifty XBox 360 game system, I've been enjoying a thrilling game called Mass Effect 2, a sequel to the original Mass Effect.

The story of Mass Effect 2 begins in the year 2183, not long after the events of the first Mass Effect game take place. While on patrol to locate and destroy any remaining Geth (a race of sentient machines) the SSV Normandy, and its commander and main character, Commander Shepard, come under attack by an unknown assailant. The ship suffers extensive damage, forcing the crew to evacuate with escape pods. Unfortunately, the helmsman, "Joker" continues to pilot the ship despite the damage that the Normandy is sustaining and must be rescued by Shepard. The Commander drags Joker out of his seat and pushes him into an escape pod, but before Shepard may board the escape pod, the Normandy is attacked once again and a particle beam weapon slices into the hull.... sucking Shepard into space. If not for his EVA suit, that would certainly have been his end, but wait... debris from the exploding Normandy suddenly slices open Shepard's air hose, and he falls into the outer atmosphere of a nearby planet; and is apparently burned up during re-entry.

Friends, that is just the opening moments of this outstanding science fiction gaming adventure.

Mass Effect 2 is exactly the kind of game that systems should be producing for geeks like me who are tough sells. I've only just started playing the game, and I'm already quite hooked by the elaborate settings, highly detailed characters and environments and dense back story that makes every choice you make count towards how the game will ultimately end. The impressive voice cast adds another level of appreciation to ME2 as well, with sci-fi genre veterans from all over the map lending their vocal talents, including Martin Sheen, Yvonne Strahovski, Tricia Helfer, Carrie-Ann Moss, Michael Dorn, Seth Green, Adam Baldwin, Claudia Black, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Keith David and Michael Hogan among those featured.

I'm playing my Shepard character as a blonde female (above, top-left), and she is pretty awesome. Give this game a try and good luck, because danger lurks around every corner.... of the universe.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wambi the Jungle Boy (Fiction House;1940)

Wambi was one of the most successful characters to come out of Jungle Comics #1 (Jan. 1940); originally published by Fiction House. Wambi the Jungle Boy was created by an unknown writer in collaboration with pulp magazine artist Henry Kiefer, who later did a lot of work on Classics Illustrated. Kiefer stuck with the character throughout his run, although others occasionally worked on Wambi over the years. Kiefer's retirement in 1953 also coincided with Wambi's cancellation, a mere five issues before Jungle Comics itself called it a day.

With his trademark red turban and matching breech-cloth, Wambi looked more like a refugee from the Indian jungle, rather than Africa, but most things around him, from the native villages to recognizable fauna such as zebras, still looked African. The occasional tiger, which is not native to Africa, was simply an anomaly and no explanation was ever offered for these discrepancies. Wambi's presence in the jungle wasn't really explained, nor was any information about his family background ever given. Wambi had an inate ability to communicate with the lower orders, even when the animals made no sound at all. In fact, Wambi's best friend was an Indian-variety elephant named Tawn, and other continuing characters were Ogg the Gorilla and Hyda the Hippopotamus.

Aside from his Jungle Comics venue, Wambi also appeared in his own title for eighteen issues, published between 1942 and 1952. His last official appearance was in Jungle Comics #158 (Spring; 1953). However, he turned up one final time five years later, when IW Enterprises issued an unauthorized single issue reprint. After that, Wambi the Jungle Boy vanished forever.

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, December 27, 2010

Rayboy's 2010 Year End Recap!!

Before it becomes time to close the books on the final year of the first decade of the 21st century, I would like to humbly say "thank you" to those industry writers & artists who took the time to visit the Catacombs in 2010. Tom Scioli, Rebekah Isaacs, Chuck Dixon, Sergio Cariello, Joe Jusko, publishers Ed Catto & Joe Ahearn, Jay Piscopo and Reno Maniquis all provided interesting chats and/or promotional material this year and I very much appreciated their participation. Some nice 2011 guests are forming up even as we speak, so keep tuning in.

I would also like to thank the stunning young ladies who allowed me to profile them as official "Gal" Friday selections in 2010: Jolynn Carpenter, Jasmine Sinclair, Jessica Palette, Christy Marie, Marie-Claude Bourbonnais and Raven Steele, all brightened the halls of the Catacombs with their portraits. This is a trend that I plan to continue into the new year!

As a reminder, the world of entertainment lost several iconic performers this year including Peter Graves, Fess Parker, Robert Culp, Tony Curtis, Johnny Sheffield, James MacArthur, Ingrid Pitt, Leslie Nielsen, director Irvin Kershner and Kevin McCarthy (pictured; above, left) who passed away on Sept. 11, 2010; and who I unintentionally failed to mention for his classic turn in the 1956 science-fiction film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The comic book industry also lost more than a dozen talented professionals in 2010 including Henry Scarpelli (Archie Comics), Dick Giordano (Charlton/DC Comics), Bill DuBay (Warren), Peter O’Donnell (Modesty Blaise), Frank Frazetta (fantasy artist), Howie Post (DC), Al Williamson (EC/Warren/Marvel), Rik Levins (AC/Marvel), Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Mike Esposito (DC/Marvel), Don Donahue (Underground Comix), Jon D’Agostino (Archie Comics) and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics).

Who knows what 2011 will bring, but this year was certainly a memorable one. Art (above; clockwise-top) Henry Scarpelli, Dick Giordano, Howie Post, Al Williamson, Harvey Pekar & Frank Frazetta.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Dangerously" Johnny!!

Chilling out today in the wake of the South's first "white" Christmas in many decades. Yesterday would have been an awesome day overall if not for the gut-buster of a headache that I was sidelined with. Thankfully my three grown children visited their mother across town for a few hours while I crashed into a drug-induced fog, snuggled up with my pug Bandit, in order to salvage the latter part of the evening with them as the snow really began to fall.


January's issue of Fantastic Four supposedly kills off one of the founding members of the classic Silver Age team that kick-started the Marvel Universe. Bummer!!

I'm going to fall on the pungee stick and "guess" that the Human Torch is the upcoming fatality. I've read some speculation online that makes a good case for Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards, Sue "Invisible Woman" Richards or Ben "Ever-Lovin, Blue-Eyed Thing" Grimm being the intended casualty, but all three seem to be poised to die - based on current story lines - and that has me "guessing" if that is nothing but smoke & mirrors on the part of the writer. Therefore, right or wrong, I'm out on a limb here for a few weeks in my pick of Johnny Storm being the team member getting killed; plus I'll even go a step further and make an actual prediction.

Johnny is going to die saving the life of the temporarily human, Ben Grimm. There I said it!

Art (above; right) by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Science Fiction/Double Feature Presents: Wedding Gift & The Steel Monster (Ziff-Davis;1951)

The Catacombs brings some holiday goodies with a double dose of stories from Amazing Adventures #2 (May 1951); originally published by Ziff-Davis. The talented silver age artist, Murphy Anderson contributes the artwork for the first tale, "Wedding Gift", a story set in 1999 and concerning the most unusual wedding gift of all time.

The second riveting adventure "The Steel Monster" has an original concept that was actually swiped from Theodore Sturgeon's famous science fiction story "Killdozer," which first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction pulp magazine in 1944. That story also later inspired a 1974 TV-movie and Marvel Comics published a bronze age version too, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Dick Ayers in Worlds Unknown #6 (April 1974).


Friday, December 24, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Christmas Girls

I began this months "Gal" Friday series with an anonymous "Cowgirls" post and today I'm offering up a little random holiday cheer with an impromptu assortment of images ala The Twelve Dames of Christmas, but who's counting?

The featured photos (culled from the web) range from naughty to nice, so there's bound to be something for every ones taste. Let's face it, if you're actually spending a few precious moments in the Catacombs on Christmas Eve, this is exactly what you were looking, "Merry Christmas, Pervs".

I love you guys!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

K-9 (Chesler;1941)

Last Thursday the Catacombs presented "Calling All Cars", a police strip from Dynamic Comics #1 and yesterday I promised a golden age story that howled from the same comic. "K-9" presents the introduction & origin of a police dog and his handlers.

Okay, sue me!

It ain't the title character that will make you "howl" at this tale. It's the ridiculous names of the other two protagonists in this adventure. Tip Starr and Dick Starr. Maybe it's just me, but knowing that supporting characters often had lousy names back in the 1940's didn't really keep me from tittering at this pair of losers. The porn industry should adopt these as aliases in my opinion.

The uncredited writer and artist must have been on something, so we'll just bust the behind the scenes guys; editor Phil Sturm, art director Charles Sultan and publisher Harry "A" Chesler, Jr. Today you're also getting to read the one page text filler, Smoke.

A single strip remains from this classic issue and that one hits next Thursday. Afterwards I'm returning to a double weekly dose of jungle action, and if I forget to mention it during tomorrows "Gal" Friday featurette, Happy Christmas.