Friday, July 13, 2007

Pop Artifact! Zombies of the Stratosphere movie poster

Pop Culture Roundup July 13, 2007

Here's the latest on the UK's Tintin hubbub:

The adventures of Tintin in the Congo will be moved from the children's shelves in Borders bookstores across the country and placed in the adult graphic novels section after the book was criticised for having allegedly racist content.

The Commission for Racial Equality said yesterday it was unacceptable for any shop to stock or sell the 1930s cartoon adventure of the Belgian boy journalist because of its crude racial stereotypes.


BBC Radio, which--before the books, TV show and movie--first introduced the world to "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy," is putting another Douglas Adams creation on the air.

Douglas Adams's much loved detective, the enigmatic Dirk Gently, will be make his UK broadcast debut on BBC Radio 4 this October.

Featuring a star-studded cast with Harry Enfield in the lead role, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency will be produced by the same award-winning team that made the conclusion to The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

Harry is joined by Lord of the Rings actor Billy Boyd, Fawlty Towers' Andrew Sachs, The Golden Compass' Jim Carter and Peepshow's Olivia Colman.

Dirk Gently has an unshakeable belief in the interconnectedness of all things but his Holistic Detective Agency's only success seems to be tracking down missing cats for old ladies. Then Dirk stumbles upon an old friend behaving bizarrely, and he is drawn into a 4 billion-year-old mystery that must be solved if the human race is to avoid immediate extinction.

This first series of six 30-minute episodes is adapted from the book of the same name and directed by Dirk Maggs, himself chosen by Douglas Adams to conclude the Hitchhikers saga.

Considered by many Adams fans to be as funny as, if darker than, Hitchhikers, the Dirk Gently novels reflect Douglas's unique and funny take on matters as wide-ranging as consciousness, conservation, man's place in the cosmos and crime. The first series features everything from quantum physics to missing cats, via Coleridge, Bach and an Electric Monk.

The series begins in October and will also have its own dedicated webpages on featuring trailers, photographs, production diaries, video and competitions. Programmes will also be available on Radio 4's listen again service.

Hopefully, the show will be available via the Beeb's streaming radio site.

September 2007 comics solicitations--more good stuff

Along with DC and Marvel's September releases, here's some more good stuff headed to comics shops that month. Click links to pre-order from Amazon.

In what will be the closest thing Eisner fans will see to an autobiography, the great master and pioneer of American graphic arts presents the most intimate and personal perspective yet on his life as a writer, a professional, and an artist. "The Dreamer" and "To the Heart of the Storm" describe Eisner's gritty early life and career, while "The Name of the Game" chronicles a personal history of his wife's family. Finally, two shorter pieces illuminate the bookends of a legendary career: "The Day I Became a Professional" describes Eisner's first rejection from a potential publisher, and "A Sunset in Sunshine City" provides a poignant portrait of Eisner in old age. HC, 7x10, 496pgs, B&W

by Mark Evanier
Jack Kirby created or co-created some of the comic book world's most popular characters, including Captain America, The X-Men, The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and The New Gods. This book serves as an authorized, visual celebration of the one and only "King of Comics" and his groundbreaking work. HC, 9x12, 224pgs, FC

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, captivating cult phenomenon and one of the most critically acclaimed TV series of the last decade, burst into the comics realm in August of 1998. Nearly every year since, the rich thematic material of good vs. evil, Slayer vs. vampire, friendship vs. isolation, and black vs. the new black has been explored at Dark Horse in over a hundred different issuesXand by the biggest luminaries in the business. The stunning visuals unachievable on a small-screen budget have come to life, realized by Chris Bachalo, J. Scott Campbell, Jeff Matsuda, Mike Mignola, Terry Moore, Eric Powell, Cliff Richards, Tim Sale, and Ryan Sook, among others. Take a look back at the most dynamic and memorable line art and paintings from the first ten years of the Slayer in comics. Featuring the best Buffy art to be found anywhere in comics . . . cherry-picked from the Slayer's first decade at Dark Horse!
SC, 9x12, 192pgs, FC

by Jonathan Bresman
MAD About Star Wars spotlights three decades of classic MAD spoofs, satire, and silliness inspired by Luke, Anakin, Yoda, and the rest of the gang from a galaxy far, far away, complete with all-new reactions and commentary from George Lucas and the cast and crew of the Star Wars films. SC, 8x11, 176pgs

by Lester Dent, with Art by Tom Roberts
Doc Savage: to the world at large, he is a strange, mysterious figure of glistening bronze skin and exotic, gold-flecked eyes. To his unique band of associates X Renny, Monk, Ham, Long Tom, Johnny, and occasionally, his cousin Pat X he is a man of superhuman strength and protean genius, whose life is dedicated to the destruction of evil-doers. Now, Moonstone Books is proud to announce the first printing of new Doc Savage tales in more than 35 years! Written in the late 1940's by Doc Savage's creator, Lester Dent, many of these radio scripts have never been seen before. Their background shrouded in mystery, these incredible adventures have been virtually forgotten for more than half a century! Now, for the first time ever, these astonishing radio scripts are available to his legions of fans across the globe! Assembled together in this single, amazing volume, they are a rare treat for Doc Savage fans everywhere! Cover by Bob Larkin. SC, 6x9, 352pgs, B&W SRP: $18.95

by Jerry Beck
Featuring over 200 full-color illustrations throughout, The Hanna-Barbera Treasury celebrates the cartoon legacy of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera through more than five decades of rare drawings, storyboards, concept art, and memorabilia from studio archives and private collections. Also included are more than 24 removable artifacts and facsimile reproductions, as well as photographs, sketches, comic book covers, brochures, posters, vintage art, and rare merchandising images from such animated classics as Huckleberry Hound, Tom & Jerry, Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Top Cat, and Space Ghost. HC, 10x11, 108pgs,

by Tim Lasiuta
A true living legend, Joe Sinnott has worked in every genre, and for almost every publisher during his 56-plus-year career in comic books. Brush Strokes With Greatness celebrates the career of the versatile artist, as he demonstrates his passion for his craft. Joe shares his experiences working on Marvel's leading titles, memories of working with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and rare and unpublished artwork from his personal files. Also, dozens of colleagues and co-workers pay tribute to Joe and his amazing body of work. Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime celebration of all things Sinnott, which includes a Foreword by Stan Lee, and an Afterword by Mark Evanier. SC, 8x11, 136pgs, PC SRP: $17.95

by Benjamin Holcomb
An obsessive examination of legendary toy company Mego and the extraordinary line of super-hero action figures that dominated the toy industry throughout the 1970's, Mego 8" Super-Heroes: World's Greatest Toys is a lavishly history illustrated with thousands of charts, checklists and color photographs. Featuring a chronological history of Mego, interviews with former employees and Mego vendors, fascinating discoveries never revealed elsewhere, and thorough coverage of each figure and packaging variant, this full-color hardcover is the definitive guide to Mego! HC, 9x12, 256pgs, FC SRP: $49.95

by Mike W. Barr
In the Silver Age of Comics, space was the place, and the Silver Age Sci-Fi Companion critiques and lovingly recalls the classic DC Comics science-fiction series edited by Julius Schwartz and written by Gardner Fox and John Broome! The pages of DC's science-fiction magazines of the 1960s, Strange Adventures and Mystery In Space, are opened for you, including story-by-story reviews of complete series such as Adam Strange, Atomic Knights, Space Museum, Star Rovers, Star Hawkins and others! Learn which series crossed over with each other, behind-the-scenes secrets, and more! Features rare art by Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Sid Greene, Mike Sekowsky, and many others, plus a glorious new cover by Alan Davis and Paul Neary! SC, 8x11, 160pgs, PC SRP: $19.95

This issue of Alter Ego spotlights Captain Carrot and "The Ghost of Milt Caniff!" Behind a new Scott Shaw! cover of the 1980's Zoo Crew, Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! document the creation of Captain Carrot, with art and artifacts, many never before seen, by Shaw!, Thomas, Rich Hoberg, Stand Goldberg, Mike Sekowsky, John Costanza, E. Nelson Bridwell, Carol Lay, and others! Also, there's an incisive interview with Golden Age artist Dick Rockwell (Black Diamond Western) and 36-year ghost artist on Milt Caniff's Steve Canyon! Plus, there's P.C. Hamerlinck's FCA (Fawcett Collectors of America) with Marc Swayze, C.C. Beck, and others, Michael T. Gilbert and Mr. Monster's Comic Crypt, and more! Edited by Roy Thomas! (Twomorrows Publishing) (C: 0-1-2) Magazine, 100pgs, B&W SRP: $6.95

Superstar artist Michael Golden takes center stage in an all-new interview examining "Golden's Oldies": Micronauts, The 'Nam, and Dr. Strange! There's more Dr. Strange in this magic-themed issue: Gene Colan and Paul Smith talk "Pro2Pro" about the Master of the Mystic Arts, Frank Brunner discusses his unforgettable stint drawing the Sorcerer Supreme, and Carl Potts and Kevin Nowlan are among the talents featured in a Dr. Strange Art Gallery! Plus: Bill Willingham's Elementals, a Zatanna history, Dr. Fate's revival, DC's Silverblade and Amethyst, a "Greatest Stories Never Told" look at Peter Pan, and a tribute to the late, great Marshall Rogers! There's also art by and commentary from Terry Austin, Cary Bates, Steve Englehart, Keith Giffen, Craig Hamilton, Mike Leeke, George Perez, and a magical Dr. Strange cover by Michael Golden! Edited by Michael Eury. Includes a free Preview of Rough Stuff #6! (Twomorrows Publishing) (Magazine, 100pgs, PC SRP: $6.95

The "Man of Bronze" battles evil in two expanded novels by Lester Dent and Harold A. Davis writing as Kenneth Robeson, incorporating never-before-published text from the original manuscripts. After Long Tom is arrested on spying charges, Doc Savage, Monk and Ham intervene in an Amazon jungle border war as they battle the mysterious Inca in Gray in "Death of Dust." Then in "The Stone Man," the Man of Bronze and his Iron Crew journey to Arizona and discover a lost race and a strange mist that transforms men into stone. This pulp reprint showcases the classic pulp covers by Walter Baumhofer and Emery Clarke, all of Paul Orban's interior illustrations and historical commentary by Will Murray, author of seven Bantam Doc Savage novels. (Sanctum Productions) SC, 7x10, 128pgs, B&W SRP: $12.95

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows!" Nostalgia Ventures' sales-smashing revival of Street & Smith's iconic pulp superheroes continues as the Master Avenger proves that "crime does not pay" in two of Walter Gibson's most intriguing mysteries. In "Road of Crime," a former criminal attempts to reform his life with some unseen help from The Shadow in this tale of redemption. Then, a series of robberies and murders casts suspicion on two supposedly-reformed criminals. Did the "Crooks Go Straight," or has one of them returned to crime? This classic pulp collection also features George Rozen's spectacular pulp covers, all the original interior art by acclaimed illustrator Tom Lovell and historical commentary by popular culture historian Will Murray. (Sanctum Productions)SC, 7x10, 128pgs, B&W SRP: $12.95

Vintage Aurora model kit ad

Simpsons Movie pictures

Here are a few fresh ones:

Today's video: The Kinks play "Waterloo Sunset"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pop Artifact! Planet of the Apes model kit

Pop Culture Roundup July 12, 2007

An official British watchdog agency is asking UK comics shops to remove a Tintin book from their shelves.

Britain's Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) recommended that "Tintin in the Congo" be removed from shelves after it received a complaint from a member of the public who had seen it in a branch of the Borders chain of book stores.

..."Tintin in the Congo" is the second in a series of 23 books which depict the intrepid travels of a fictional young journalist named Tintin and his dog Snowy. The character was conceived by Belgian George Remi. Remi signed his works Hergé, the French pronunciation of his initials in reverse.

Hergé, Tintin and most specifically "Tintin in the Congo" are no stranger to criticism. Critics have accused Tintin's creator of being a racist and have blasted the Congo adventure for its scenes of violence against animals.

As the report states, this is just the latest flare up of controvery over the book, which should be treated as an artifact of a less-enlightened time--not banned. Indeed, Hergé himself came to regret aspects of the book.

Consider this more even-handed critical appraisal from

Tintin au Congo should still be regarded as one of the more silly and youthful albums of Hergé. At the time he was much influenced by his employer, Wallez. Wallez had decided that the Belgian youth needed to know more about the values of Colonialism. Hergé was instructed to show Belgium how the Congolese natives were introduced to civilisation. Throughout the album we will witness further displays of such Colonialism. Tintin shows a condescending - even despising attitude towards the natives. In 1954, as Hergé re-edits the story this attitude would soften, but not disappear.

Tintin doesn't show much respect for the flora and fauna either; in an ultimate effort to put down a comic scene, Hergé lets him kill 13 antilopes. At an earlier point in the story Tintin even kills a rhinoceros with dynamite (after first drilling a hole in the beast's back, where he could place the explosives!). Later Hergé would very much regret these scenes, and he took a firm stand against hunting and poaching.

This just in: A foundation which protects the rights of Tintin author Hergé leaped to his defence on Thursday after criticism from a British racism watchdog.

...The Hergé foundation said the 1931 "Tintin in the Congo" comic book...should be read in the context of the period when it was published.

...The Hergé foundation said the book is meant to be about fun and jokes and does not glorify the widely accepted notions about imperialism, race and ethnicity which were prevalent in Western society during the early 20th century when the book was written.


Sean Penn and rocker Iggy Pop will add their voices to "Persepolis," the upcoming animated feature based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel.

Penn will play Satrapi's long-suffering father while Pop will voice the role of the young girl's rebellious and politically active uncle.

Work on the English-version dub will begin this summer. Pic will be released Stateside in the fall and producers are trying to ready an English-language version in time for its preem at the Toronto Film Festival in September.


Actress Laura Vandervoort will star as the Supergirl-ish character on the "we're too embarassed to wear superhero costumes" superhero show Smallville.

Vandervoort begins filming next week and will be introduced to the public at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Supergirl arrives in the Season 7 premiere. Her name is Kara and she is Clark's 19-year-old cousin. She was born on Krypton and is the daughter of Zor-El, Jor-El's brother. Kara possesses all of Clark's powers and one he doesn't yet have -- flying.

Kara also has a strong, rebellious streak that puts her at odds with Clark, and puts her onto Lex's radar. In addition, she takes a romantic interest in Jimmy Olsen.


The official Indiana Jones site has posted a video of Harrison Ford once again donning his famed fedora.

Vintage Aurora model kit ad

New and upcoming action figures July 12, 2007

DC Armory action figures, see below

Complete List of Marvel Legends Action Figures
Complete List of DC Direct Action Figures

Here's a look at action figures available via your local comics shop or via the TIP!-supporting links below:

DC Direct Action Figures

DC Armory Action Figures

Superman Last Son Action Figures
--Last Son Superman

Shazam Action Figures
--Dr. Sivana
--Captain Marvel Jr.
--Mary Marvel
--Billy Batson and Hoppy
--Captain Marvel

Superman Vs. Doomsday
Lex Luthor and Robot
Solar Suit Superman

Batman and Son
Ninja Man-Bat
Robin and Daimin
The Joker

52 Weeks
Animal Man
Booster Gold

DC Direct Reactivated Action Figures
--Wonder Woman

DC 13-inch Figures
Green Lantern
Lex Luthor
Martian Manhunter
Classic Batman
Batgirl gray costume
Batgirl black costume

Elseworlds Action Figures Series 2
--Red Son Batman
--Red Son President Superman
--Kingdom Come Jade
--Kingdom Come Spectre and Norman McKay
--Gotham By Gaslight Batman

Elseworlds Action Figures Series 3
--Kingdom Come Aquaman
--Red Son Green Lantern

First Appearance Series 4
--Blue Beetle translucent
--Blue Beetle
--Brave New World Atom
--Brave New World Martian Manhunter
--Brave New World Aquaman

Infinite Crisis Action Figures Series 1
--Earth Prime Superboy
--Alexander Luthor

JSA Action Figures
--Mr. Terrific
--Dr. Midnite
--Golden Age Atom 2-pack

DC Direct Wonder Woman Series 1 Action Figures
--Wonder Woman
--Agent Diana Prince
--Donna Troy as Wonder Woman

DC Direct New Frontier Series 2 Action Figures
--Dr. Fate
--The Flash
--Martian Manhunter

Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer action figures
Battle Stretch Mr. Fantastic
Fire Blast Human Torch
Raging Thing
Force Field Invisible Woman
Silver Surfer
Lightning Attack Dr. Doom
Blast-off Human Torch
Super Strength Thing

Hanna Barbera Series 3 Action Figures
--Fred Flintstone Quittin' Time
--Twinkle Toes Fred Flintstone
--Great Grape Ape
--Huckleberry Hound
--The Jetsons
--Secret Squirrel

McFarlane Lost series 2 action figures
--Crash site box set
--Mr. Eko

McFarlane Lost series 3 action figures

Marvel Figure Factory Sets
--Black Costume Spider-Man
--Invisible Woman
--Silver Surfer

Marvel Legends Action Figures

Hasbro Marvel Legends Action Figures Series 2
--Yellow Jacket
--Quick Silver
--Lord Asgard Thor
--Magneto Xorn
--X3 Jean Grey
--First Appearance Storm

Hasbro Marvel Legends Figures Series 3
--Bucky Barnes
--First appearance Captain America
--Marvel Girl Rachel Grey
--Heroes for Hire Black Knight
--Hydra Soldier
--X-3 Colossus
--Astonishing X-Men Cyclops

Hasbro Marvel Legends Icons 12-inch Action Figures
--The Punisher
--Doctor Doom
--The Human Torch
--The Silver Surfer

Marvel Legends Masterworks Sets
--Spider-Man Vs. Green Goblin
--Fantastic Four Vs. Mole Man
--Hulk Vs. The Thing
--Galactus Vs. Everybody

Marvel Select Figures

Best of Marvel Select Figures
--Grey Hulk
--Ultimate Spider-Man
--Green Goblin

Marvel Sideshow Toys Figures
--Black costume Spider-Man
--White Queen
--White Queen Exclusive

Today's video: The Kinks play "Wonder Boy"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This is Pop Culture! celebrates Batgirl

Today, DC Comics releases Showcase Presents Batgirl--a 500-page collection of vintage Batgirl backup stories from Detective Comics and elsewhere.

So, what better time to highlight that character and celebrate her exploits in popular culture? I know I'm not the only comics fan excited to see these adventures back in print.

The Batgirl featured in the Showcase volume--and highlighted here--is the Barbara Gordon incarnation that debuted in 1967, not the earlier Betty Kane Bat-Girl of the early 1960s. And also not Cassandra Cain, the hideously costumed current Batgirl.

To me, Barbara Gordon is the only Batgirl that matters. So, it's a pity she's essentially been written out being.

Comics writer Alan Moore, in the one-shot (in more ways than one) Batman story "Killing Joke" put an end to Barbara's costumed exploits by having the Joker shoot her in the spine, paralyzing her. Regrettably, DC elected to keep Barbara disabled, reinventing her as the character Oracle in the Birds of Prey series.

While it's refreshing to see a disabled heroine in comics, I'm sorry that it meant phasing out a character many fans loved and enjoyed. Plus, Barbara's fate was too dark, too grim, considering the spirit of the character and the original age of her fanbase. It's another case of comics scripters and editors messing with existing characters when they ought to just create new ones.*

Barbara Gordon as Oracle just ain't the same as Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. And neither is Cassandra Cain as Batgirl.

The real Batgirl had so much going for her: She was Commissioner Gordon's daughter--a great setup for all sorts plots. She was a librarian. She had red hair. She had a motorcycle. She was fun. She was tough and independent (for her day). And she looked great in that costume. I said, it's a pity she's gone. But at the same time, it'll be wonderful having a big batch of her adventures available in one big book with scripts by the great John Broome and fantastic art by the likes of Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino.

But before you head out to the comics shop, or click that Amazon link up above, take a moment to enjoy some of the other Batgirl-related posts here today.

* Word is there will be an All-Star Batgirl coming out from DC at some point, featuring Barbara behind the mask. However, fans of the original version will need to wait and see if it's an agreeable approach. Also, the Barbara Batgirl has been featured in DC's various "animated"-style comics spun off of the recent Batman cartoon series. So maybe she's not as gone as she seems.

Best Batgirl sites on the Web

1966 Batman
A celebration of the 1960s Batman TV series, featuring Batgirl info and pics.

Batgirl at Wikipedia
The entry charts the history of all the Batgirls.

Yvonne Craig
Official site for the actress who played Batgirl on TV back in the 1960s.

The Batgirl Archives
A fan site dedicated to the various incarnations of Batgirl.

Batgirl/Yvonne Craig TV show gallery

Yvonne Craig debuted as the TV Batgirl in 1967, the same year the Barbara Gordon Batgirl first appeared in Detective comics.

Batgirl Artifacts!

Batgirl cover gallery

Here are some of Barbara Gordon's most notable cover appearances: