Saturday, January 25, 2020

Reading Room WORLD OF FANTASY "Creatures Who Captured Earth!"

Do you know the two famous sci-fi stories' plots that were combined to create this tale?
Hint: one original involves robots/androids,, and the other is about cannibalism...
This never-reprinted story by Stan Lee/Larry Lieber and Don Heck from Atlas' World of Fantasy #18 (1959) was based on two classic sci-fi tales...
"With Folded Hands" by Jack Williamson, which premiered in Astounding Science Fiction...
...and was expanded into the novel The Humanoids, (and a sequel, The Humanoid Touch, over 30 years later)!
Though never done on film or tv, the story was adapted to radio on Dimension X (which you can hear HERE) and the basic plot was re-used in the classic Star Trek episode "I, Mudd".
The other plot point, involving decoding an alien text to discover a secret agenda, was probably taken from the 1950 Galaxy Magazine short story "To Serve Man" by Damon Knight.
(Note that the classic Twilight Zone episode adapting the tale wouldn't appear until three years later.)
Also note that, while the comic tale was never reprinted, it was redone only two years later by another of Atlas/Marvel's major artistic stars!
We'll have that story tomorrow...

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday Fun SPOOF "What If...Celebrities Were the Last People on Earth?"

You know you're a baby boomer...
...if you recognize all the celebs in this never-reprinted tale from Marvel's Spoof #5 (1973)!
 Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip!
 Julia Child, one of the first TV chefs!
 ABC sports announcer (and really annoying guy who deserves his fate) Howard Cosell!
And, finally...longtime comedy icon Bob Hope, whose annual tours to entertain our troops overseas are satirized!
Written by Marv Wolfman, penciled by master (or is that "mistress") caricaturist Marie Severin, and inked by John Costanza (a damn good cartoonist who made more money as one of the speediest letterers in the business), this piece was part of Marvel's failed 1970s attempt to return to the humor color comics market!
After trying three times with Spoof, ARRRGH! (horror humor), and Crazy (reprinting material from Not Brand Ecch), Marvel decided to switch their humor efforts to a b/w book...with the resulting revival of Crazy in that format running  over a decade with 94 issues and an oversized Special!
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

It's 2020, and the Dinosaurs are About to Return...

...according to the sadly OOP series Xenozoic Tales!
Why hasn't this series, which combined the apocalypse, classic cars, and prehistoric monsters along with excellent writing and art, ever been a multi-media, mass-market favorite like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones?
How did all this come about?
This video (ironically, from the video game) explains quite succinctly how in 2020 the world we know will end!

Plotwise and chronologically, this story from Kitchen Sink's Xenozoic Tales #1 (1987), written and illustrated by Mark Schultz, is the first story in the series, featuring Hannah Dundee's introduction to the people of the City in the Sea.
Note: A tale (entitled "Xenozoic") introducing the series to the public, but published a couple of years earlier in Kitchen Sink's Death Rattle #8 (1985) takes place after this story.
When the entire series was reprinted in story-chronological order in Dark Horse hardcovers in 2003, the Death Rattle tale was placed between two stories in Xenozoic Tales #2.
The comic inspired a video game and well-done, but short-lived, animated TV series.
Despite those successes, it still has yet to hit the public consciousness the way other graphic novel properties have.
Perhaps now's the time to revive it?
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wednesday Worlds of Wonder HARSH REALM "Case" Part 1

We've covered alternate realities, the future, and outer space... we go "cyber" as we explore "inner space"!

Is Dexter going to regret taking on this case?
Find Out Next Wednesday!
The comic is far different from the TV series by Chris Carter that it "inspired"!
Without the restraint of a TV series budget, writer James Hudnall, penciler Andrew Paquette and inker John Ridgeway let their imaginations run free in this intro tale from Harris' Harsh Realm #1 (1994)!
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Harsh Realm
Trade Paperback

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Reading Room VIC VERITY "Rocket Rex"

Long before Rocket Raccoon, there was...
Take a handsome hero, a helpless heroine, a sinister villain, add spaceships and ray guns and, you've got classic 1940s-50s sci-fi action!
Except everyone's an anthropomorphic animal!
This never-reprinted story from Vic Verity Magazine #7 (1946) was obviously the first episode of a projected series.
Unfortunately, it appeared in the last magazine the short-lived Don Fortune Publishing ever produced!
Both the writer and artist are, at this point, unknown.
But the other stories in the comic were the work of CC Beck, Otto Binder, and others who worked on the Fawcett Comics line, so the odds are that the writer and artist for Rocket Rex are also from that ensenble.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Monday Madness STRANGE JOURNEY "Captain Kiddeo Space Bum"

Is it humor?
Is it serious?
I can't decide... the tale and judge for yourself!
The title is a variation of "Captain Video", a tv show which had been cancelled three years earlier when this never-reprinted tale appeared in Ajax-Farrell's Strange Journey #3 (1958).
Yet the story itself has nothing to do with Captain Video, not even as a spoof of it, like MAD's superb Captain Tvideo which you can read HERE!
The attempts at humor and wit are lacking in both, and the illustrations have none of the wonderful background detail (Called "chicken fat" by artist Will ElderMAD's artists were famous for!
Plus, the art is so jammed-up, I have the impression the original (perhaps unpublished) story was longer, and re-edited to fit into the 5 page slot in an otherwise average sci-fi anthology.
We do know it's a product of the S M Iger Studio which packaged Ajax-Farrell's books, but not who the particular creatives were...