Friday, April 11, 2008

Comic Book Cover Conventions: Let's get small!

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Pop links

Golden Age Comic Book Stories presents some lovely illustrations "Prince Valiant" artist Hal Foster did for the Union Pacific Railroad.

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I'm Learning the Share celebrates Marvel Comics' "Millie the Model."

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And Dial B for Blog pays homage to DC's "Inferior Five."

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"Doctor Who" spin-off "The Sarah Jane Adventures" makes its Sci Fi Channel debut tonight.

The show is decidedly aimed at a younger audience, with the idea that families would watch together. This probably won't appeal to the fan who only kind of likes Doctor Who but really digs Torchwood because of its "more adult" themes. Sarah Jane goes in the other direction with its 13 year old protagonists and toned down action. There is little violence, the monsters aren't quite as convincing as those The Doctor faces and things are a bit more simple and tidy than the other two shows in the "Whoniverse."

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pop links

Pixar is at work on an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter: Warlord of Mars" right now, but this won't be the first animated attempt at bringing the book to the screen, AMC reports.

...in the early 1930's animation pioneer Bob Clampett...approached Burroughs with an idea for an animated film about one of his favorite characters: John Carter.

Here's some footage from the 1930's showing Clampett's early work on the project...




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DC Comics plans a deluxe hardcover of "The Watchmen" to coincide with the movie version of the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel, IVC2 reports.

The new hardcover edition will provide a deluxe presentation of the graphic novel classic at a lower price point than the $75, 464-page Absolute Edition.

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Did Steve Ditko create the Skrulls back in 1960? Again with the Comics investigates.

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Speaking of Ditko, Blake Bell's long-awaiting Fantagraphics book on the artist is due out in June and a new graphic novel by the artist himself is on the way too.

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The CW will begin airing back-to-back episodes of the new "Spectacular Spider-Man" animated series starting this Saturday.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Shout Factory collects treasure trove of 50s kiddie TV in new DVD set

Here are details on Shout Factory's awesome-sounding four-DVD set "Hiya Kids! A 50's Saturday Morning Box," due out May 6. You can order it now via Amazon.

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Some dreamed of a chance to be in the “Peanut Gallery” of Howdy Doody. Some begged their parents for a dog just like Lassie. Many wore cowboy hats to watch The Roy Rogers Show. In the 1950s, television was new and thrilling. Looking back, these shows had a significant impact on the children of the first television generation and helped to shape the medium as it increasingly became a part of our culture.

Hiya Kids!! A '50s Saturday Morning is a collection of the best kids' shows from the infancy of the genre. Each disc is designed like a Saturday morning programming block.

DISC 1:

Episode from Kukla, Fran And Ollie 1948 - 1957
Kukla, Fran And Ollie debuted as a local Chicago show entitled Junior Jamboree and was renamed in 1948 when the installation of a coaxial cable linking the East Coast to the Midwest expanded its broadcast range. Established radio star Fran Allison played herself on the show as the perfect counterbalance to the antics of the puppets, and her uncanny ability to ad-lib allowed the show to run completely unscripted and unrehearsed.

Kukla, Fran And Ollie featured the creations of Burr Tillstrom, considered one of the greats in puppet history. He voiced and performed all of the puppet characters on the show and is credited with creating the puppeteering technique of watching the action on a small monitor while performing the characters, a practice still in use today.

Episode from Howdy Doody 1947 - 1960
Howdy Doody evolved from The Triple B Ranch, a radio program that featured the voice of "Buffalo" Bob Smith as himself and a character named Elmer who opened the show by saying "Howdy Doody." When Howdy Doody premiered on television it was an hour-long series that aired on Saturdays, but in 1948 it became the first network children's show to run five days a week, and eventually was broadcast in color in 1955. "Buffalo" Bob Smith created and hosted the show, as well as providing the voice of Howdy Doody.

For the show's final episode, Clarabelle the Clown--who never uttered a word throughout the program run--finally spoke the series' very last two words, saying, "Goodbye, kids."

Episode from Lassie 1954 - 1974
Originally created in 1938 by Eric Knight for a short story published in the Saturday Evening Post, Lassie became an immediate sensation that spawned a full-length novel, a feature film starring an 11-year-old named Elizabeth Taylor, a radio show and, in 1954, the Lassie television series.

The series--which ran for an amazing 20 years and won two of six Emmy Awards for which it was nominated--originally starred 13-year-old film veteran Tommy Rettig as Jeff Miller, Lassie's faithful owner and best friend for 110 episodes.

Episode from Annie Oakley 1954 - 1957
The real Annie Oakley, on whom this character was loosely based, was a sharpshooter with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the late 1800s. As a television series, Annie Oakley hit the entertainment bull's-eye every week for three years in the mid-1950s.

Having appeared in dozens of both big- and small-screen Westerns, including 14 features with Gene Autry, Gail Davis was a natural to play the title role in the television series. In fact, Autry's own Flying `A' Productions coproduced Annie Oakley's syndicated 81-episode run.

Episode from Flash Gordon 1954
Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon comic strip, which debuted in 1934, has been translated into radio serials, animated television series, numerous feature films, comic books and novels over the past 50 years. This incarnation--filmed in Germany less than a decade after the end of World War II--was the first, and only, live-action television series up until 2007 and starred chiseled Steve Holland as Flash Gordon, operative of the Galaxy Bureau of Investigation.

DISC 2:

Episode from Ding Dong School 1952 - 1959
Dr. Frances R. Horwich, known simply to audiences as Miss Frances, took a leave of absence from her position as chairman of the education department at Chicago's Roosevelt College to host Ding Dong School, which became monumental in paving the way for preschool television.

Originally filmed in Chicago, and later in New York, Ding Dong School was so popular that after just six weeks it was picked up by NBC and was soon seen by millions of children throughout the United States.

Episode from Time For Beany 1949 - 1954
While viewers may be more familiar with Bob Clampett's Beany And Cecil in their cartoon incarnations, the public was first introduced to the silly, seasick serpent and his beanie-topped companion when they premiered as puppets, voiced by the talented Daws Butler and Stan Freberg. Though the series began as a local show in Los Angeles in 1949, by the following year Time For Beany had gone national and continued with much success through 1954.

One of the most famous fans of Time For Beany was none other than Albert Einstein.

Episode from The Paul Winchell Show 1956 - 1960
In 1956 self-taught ventriloquist Paul Winchell starred in Circus Time, only one of his many television series. After a year Circus Time was revamped and renamed The Paul Winchell Show, a moniker it retained until the show ended in 1960.

Giving voice to his own Jerry Mahoney puppet, Gargamel on The Smurfs and Tigger of Disney's Winnie The Pooh animated films, Paul Winchell brought heart to the characters he created. A true renaissance man, Winchell was also an inventor who held 30 patents, including one for an early model of an artificial heart he built in 1963. He also studied and practiced acupuncture and hypnosis and wrote widely on theology.

Episode from The Roy Rogers Show 1951 - 1957
The "King of Cowboys," Roy Rogers was no stranger to America by the time he starred in The Roy Rogers Show, having already appeared in over a hundred movies by 1951.

In 1947 Rogers married Dale Evans, who became the "Queen of the West." Together they were one of America's most beloved couples. Along with many honors, they have the distinction of being the only married couple to serve as Grand Marshals of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.

You can't think of The Roy Rogers Show, which ran from 1951 to 1957, without remembering "his golden palomino" Trigger and Bullet "the wonder dog." Visitors to the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri, can actually see a taxidermist-prepared Trigger, stuffed and mounted, rearing up on his back legs, as one of the museum's most popular exhibits.

Episode from Captain Z-RO 1951 - 1956
Captain Z-RO came to us from a remote, uncharted region of a planet called Earth. When Captain Z-RO debuted in 1951, it was a 15-minute local show from San Francisco. In 1954, however, the show became syndicated and went national, switching to a 30-minute format and continuing with original episodes until 1956. It stayed on in reruns through 1960.

Captain Z-RO received much praise for its outstanding educational value, including honorable mention at the Twentieth American Exhibition of Educational Radio-Television Programs in 1956.

Roy Steffens, who also created and wrote the show, portrayed the title role of Captain Z-RO.

DISC 3:

Episode from The Rootie Kazootie Club 1950 - 1954
Created by Steve Carlin, who at the time was in charge of RCA's children's phonograph records, The Rootie Kazootie Club met over the airwaves from 1950 to 1954 with "Big Todd" Russell, Mr. Deetle Doodle and, of course, Rootie Kazootie!

"Big Todd" Russell wasn't just comfortable with the juvenile members of The Rootie Kazootie Club. He also hosted quiz shows on radio such as Double Or Nothing and Strike It Rich and is perhaps best remembered as the creator and producer of The $64,000 Question.

Rootie Kazootie was extremely popular and led to a series of Rootie Kazootie Golden Books.

Episode from Winky Dink And You 1953 - 1957
Get out your Winky Dink kit, because it's time for Winky Dink And You--a show you didn't just watch . . . you actually got to play! Winky Dink And You was the first interactive television show, allowing children the opportunity to be a part of the show by placing a clear "magic window" on the television and drawing on it with crayons.

Jack Barry, who already had a successful run with Juvenile Jury, hosted the show. Barry later went on to emcee the 1970s game show Joker's Wild, but is perhaps most famous as the host and coproducer of the wildly popular Twenty-One, which created a great scandal by providing answers to contestants, nearly ruining Barry's career and prompting Congress to develop new laws that prohibited the fixing of quiz shows.

Winky Dink And You ran from 1953 to 1957, and if Winky Dink sounds a bit familiar, it's because the voice was provided by Mae Questel--best known as the voice of Olive Oyl and Betty Boop.

Episode from Super Circus 1949 - 1955
From 1949 to 1955, the small screen was transformed into the big top during Super Circus featuring Ringmaster (and former radio announcer) Claude Kirchner.

Ringmaster Kirchner, clowns Cliffy, Nicky and Scampy, and the various circus acts thrilled the kids. But it was bandleader Mary Hartline who became the real attraction.

Mary Hartline had a certain appeal, and suddenly fathers were happy to watch television alongside their kids. Hartline wasn't just popular with the dads, however. Kids adored her, which led to an abundance of merchandise such as Mary Hartline dolls, paper figures, apparel and books--even comic books titled Super Circus Featuring Mary Hartline.

Episode from Andy's Gang 1955 - 1960
"Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!" Andy's Gang was an immensly popular variety show for kids starring Andy Devine ("Cookie" in over 400 Roy Rogers Westerns, and "Jingles" in The Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickock). Along with Froggy the Gremlin, Midnight the Cat, Squeaky the Mouse and some other oddball regulars, there were skits, book-readings and weekly serials such as Little Fox (included in this episode) and Rhama Of The Jungle.

The show, the format, even Froggy the Gremlin all derived from Ed McConnell, who had been a children's radio host since the 1920s, and his 1943 program Smilin' Ed McConnell And The Buster Brown Shoe Gang. In 1950 Smilin' Ed brought the show to television under the title Smilin' Ed's Gang. When Ed died unexpectedly in 1955, Andy Devine took his place, and the show became Andy's Gang.

Episode from The Cisco Kid 1950 - 1956
"Here's adventure! Here's romance! Here's O. Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West--The Cisco Kid!" While each episode of The Cisco Kid began with those words, very little about the television Cisco Kid harkened back to O. Henry's version.

In his 1907 book of short stories, The Heart Of The West, O. Henry introduced the Cisco Kid in "The Caballero's Way." The character was not Hispanic, he had no sidekick and, according to O. Henry, the Cisco Kid " . . . killed for the love of it--because he was quick-tempered--to avoid arrest--for his own amusement--any reason that came to his mind would suffice."

There were numerous films about the Cisco Kid as early as 1914 and even a radio series, but in the 1945 film The Cisco Kid Returns, Duncan Renaldo was introduced to audiences in the title role. He continued to make Cisco Kid films and was paired with Leo Carrillo as Pancho in his last five features.

In 1950 Renaldo and Carrillo reprised their roles for the Cisco Kid television series, ending each episode with the exclamations: "Oh, Pancho!" "Oh, Cisco!"

Episode from Sky King 1951 - 1959
"Out of the clear blue of the Western sky comes Sky King," a '50s television series about an Arizona rancher and pilot who stumbles upon danger in every episode and then saves the day. Kirby Grant, who played as Schuyler "Sky" King, had appeared in dozens of films and was an accomplished aviator, which contributed to the believability of the show. The plane Sky flew was the Songbird and his ranch was called The Flying Crown.

Gloria Winters played Sky's niece, Penny. Winters was a well-rounded actress who appeared in many films and onstage. In 1964 her book Penny's Guide To Teen-age Charm And Popularity was published as an etiquette guide for teenage girls.

DISC 4:

2 Episodes from The Magic Clown 1949 - 1954
The Magic Clown was definitely sponsored by Bonamo's Turkish Taffy. The live and at-home audience sang the Bonamo's theme song, they said the magic word ("Bonamo"), and if they wanted the magic face kit, they could send in 20 cents . . . plus a wrapper from Bonamo's Turkish Taffy (which everyone in the studio seemed to be chewing). The Magic Clown might even make Turkish Taffy appear as part of his magic tricks.

The two ostensibly Turkish men making taffy on the wrapper of Bonamo's Turkish Taffy wore fezzes, so everyone on the program donned the headgear as well: from the Magic Clown--portrayed by several actors throughout the program's run--the audience, and even the puppet, Laffy (rhymes with "taffy"). Ironically, in 1925, the fez was banned in Turkey and to this day is not usually worn.

In 1971 internationally renowned magician James Randi revived the series as The Magic Clown, but while the clowns may have changed, Bonamo's Turkish Taffy certainly did not.

Episode from Kids And Company 1951 - 1952
Originating in New York, this 1950s American Idol of the moppet world showcased kids with various abilities, but if you didn't have a great talent it was no matter. If you rescued a kid from quicksand or from the jaws of an alligator, there was a good chance you'd get your few minutes of fame on Kids And Company as well.

Kids And Company was hosted by Johnny Olson, who went on to become the announcer for successful game shows such as Match Game, To Tell The Truth and What's My Line? and, in 1972, went on to popularize one of the greatest catchphrases in game show history: The Price Is Right's "Come on down!"

Episode from Juvenile Jury 1947 - 1954
Before Joker's Wild, and even before Winky Dink And You, Jack Barry hosted Juvenile Jury. Beginning on radio, the jury made their first televised deliberation in 1947 and continued offering their unpredictable verdicts until 1954.

A panel of five children between the ages of three and 12 appeared on the program every week to make pronouncements on dilemmas posed by viewers and audience members. Questions ranged from simple matters of opinion to advice on everyday problems of interest to children, with Barry skillfully managing to keep the participants at ease. Aside from the obvious entertainment value of the cast's candid responses, Juvenile Jury is also notable as the first commercially sponsored network television series (in this case, by General Foods).

Juvenile Jury was revived twice, in the 1970s (with Jack Barry returning) and again for a short time in 1983 with host Nipsey Russell.

Episode from The Pinky Lee Show 1954 - 1956
Pinky Lee was doing a show with Vivian Blaine called Those Two when producer Lawrence White found himself in need of a new host for a children's show after The Gabby Hayes Show was dropped. White's son begged him to hire Pinky Lee, and thus Lee was able to add "children's show host" to his résumé.

The fast pace of The Pinky Lee Show, which aired from 1954 to 1956, was quite ahead of its time, more comparable with the shows of today. A former burlesque performer, Pinky Lee brought a squeaky clean version of burlesque to his children's show.

Although the show ran until 1956, an illness caused Lee's absence from 1955 until the end of the show's run.

Episode from Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle 1955 - 1956
Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle first swung onto television screens in 1955, but Sheena's history jumps back to 1937 where the character was introduced in Wags, a British tabloid magazine. The following year Sheena appeared in Jumbo Comics, and that's when her popularity started to grow. She appeared in each issue and was even spun off into her own comic book, making her the first female to be a title character, three months ahead of DC's Wonder Woman.

Former model Irish McCalla played Sheena, despite never having done any acting before she was asked to audition for the part while pregnant with her second child.

Upcoming DVDs of interest

Click titles to order from Amazon.

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Bewitched - The Complete Sixth Season
The magic on Morning Glory Circle continues as Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), Darrin (Dick Sargent), and Endora (Agnes Moorehead) return in Bewitched - The Complete Sixth Season. Notable for being Dick Sargent's first season as Darrin. Samantha, a powerful member of the society of witches that has lived apart from (and disdained) humanity for many centuries, falls in love with a mortal, Darrin Stephens. Much to the disgust of most of her family, she vows to give up witchcraft and become an ordinary suburban housewife, raising a family (bearing Tabitha and Adam). Never able to give up her heritage completely, the friction between the matriarchal, moneyless society of her birth and the patriarchal, capitalist society of modern advertising drives the comedy over eight seasons and 256 episodes, from 1964 to 1971.

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The Thief of Bagdad - Criterion Collection

Legendary producer Alexander Korda's marvel The Thief of Bagdad, inspired by The Arabian Nights, is one of the most spectacular fantasy films ever made, an eye-popping effects pioneer brimming with imagination and technical wizardry. When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (the incomparable Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place, as well as the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual wonders, The Thief of Bagdad has charmed viewers of all ages for decades.

Special Features
* - SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET FEATURES:
* - New digital transfer, from restored film elements
* - Two audio commentaries: one featuring renowned directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, and one with film and music historian Bruce Eder
* - Visual Effects,, a documentary about the technical achievements of The Thief of Bagdad
* - The Lion Has Wings (1940), Alexander Korda's propaganda film for the English war effort, created when The Thief of Bagdad went into production hiatus
* - Excerpts from codirector Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography
* - Excerpts from a 1976 radio interview with composer Miklos Rózsa
* - Stills gallery featuring rare images of the film's production and photos shot in Dufaycolor Optional music and effects track
* - Theatrical trailer
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Andrew Moor and Ian Christie


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Saludos Amigos / Three Caballeros
Embark on thrilling adventures to South America and Mexico in two full-length movies, Saludos Amigos and its sequel The Three Caballeros together for the first time in one DVD collection! Join Goofy, Donald Duck and Walt Disney himself as they experience all the music, beauty and excitement Latin America has to offer.

Walt and his team of artists, musicians, writers and animators say Adios! to the U.S. to explore the heart and soul of Latin America. In Saludos Amigos they travel to fun and exciting places and capture their adventures along the way. Next, it s Donald s turn to take a fantastic journey through these colorful lands with his friends Joe Carioca and Panchito in The Three Caballeros. With lighthearted dance and lively music, it s a celebration the whole family will enjoy!


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Popeye the Sailor: 1938-1940, Vol. 2

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The Richie Rich/Scooby Doo Hour: The Complete Series, Vol. One

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The Invaders - The First Season
David Vincent (Roy Thinnes) knows that The Invaders, alien beings from a dying planet, have arrived to take over the Earth! To make matters worse, the aliens know who he is, and most of the time where he is. Somehow he must convince a disbelieving world that the nightmare has already begun.

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The Rat Pack Ultimate Collectors Edition (Oceans Eleven / Robin and the Seven Hoods / 4 for Texas / Sergeants 3)

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James Stewart - The Western Collection (Destry Rides Again / Winchester 73 / Bend of the River / The Far Country / Night Passage / The Rare Breed)

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Cartoon Commercials!
From Thunderbean DVD. Step back into Television history with this great collection of animated 'cartoon' commericals from the 50's, 60's and 70's! From cereal to hair cream to cigarettes, animation has helped sell products to a Television audience from its very beginnings. Included in this collection are ads from both large and small studios, featuring famous, little known and even forgotton characters, created by some animation's most talented artists, animators and directors. Commercials featured include: Wild Root Cream Oil (lots from various studios, including Shamus Culhane productions), Kelvinator, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Phillip Morris, Twinkles, #7 auto polish, Jello, Butterball Turkey, Tootsie Rolls (with Farmer Al Falfa), Rice Krispies (with Woody Woodpecker), BrylCreem with Lou Bunin's puppets, Tang (with Bugs Bunny), Frito Bandito (By Tex Avery), Hamm's Beer, Carnation (Carnation Rabbits), Colgate with Mighty Mouse, Start-Kist Tuna, Kool Aid (Several -Tex Avery, Rod Scribner, Ben Washam), Shasta Cola, Quisp ads by Jay Ward productions, Trix, Co Co Puffs, Pink Panther Flakes, Co Co Wheats ...and many many more! This new collection has been entirely mastered from original 16mm and 35mm original film prints, for excellent quality. Special features include: *"Industry on Parade" showing a commercial studio in Colorado * A special subtitle feature with information about the commerials, the production companies, actors/ voices, animators and directors. *Still Gallery "how to design an animated commercial" from 1960. B/W and Color, 100 minutes.

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Square Pegs: The Complete Series

Comic Book Cover Conventions: Holy Bat Confusion!

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My brain hurts...

Upcoming DC Showcase Presents books -- including Strange Adventures!

A Strange Adventures collection? Right on!

Here's a look at upcoming DC Comics Showcase Presents books for 2008. Click to pre-order from Amazon.

Showcase Presents The Atom Vol. 2 (August)
Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 4 (September)
Showcase Presents Metal Men Vol. 2 (September)
Showcase Presents Blackhawk (October)
Showcase Presents Wonder Woman Vol. 2 (October)
Showcase Presents World's Finest Vol. 2 (October)
Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Vol. 2 (December)
Showcase Presents Supergirl Vol. 2 (December)
Showcase Presents Brave and the Bold Vol. 3 (December)
Showcase Presents Strange Adventures (December)

Other items of interest:

DC Goes Ape! (September)
The Spirit: Femmes Fatales (October)
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 4 (October)
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 3 (October)
Spirit Archives Vol. 26 (December)

Upcoming Marvel Essentials books -- including Sub-Mariner!

At long last: Sub-Mariner!

Peeking ahead, here's what else Marvel has coming up Essential-wise later in 2008. Click the title links to pre-order from Amazon.

Essential Defenders Volume 4 (July)
Essential Fantastic Four Volume 7 (August)
Essential Man-Thing Volume 2 (August)
Essential Sub-Mariner Volume 1 (September)
Essential Classic X-Men Volume 3 (September)
Essential Spider-Man Volume 9 (September)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Comics shipping April 9, 2008

Click highlighted titles to order from Amazon.

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WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT

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COMICS

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MAGAZINES

DEC074066 AMAZING FIGURE MODELER #41 $8.00
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FEB083570 SIMPSONS CLASSICS #1 (O/A) $3.99
FEB083571 SIMPSONS CLASSICS #2 (O/A) $3.99\

NOT on DVD: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," which ran from 1967-69, should be on DVD on the basis of historical interest alone: It was one of the most controversial and groundbreaking programs ever aired on U.S. television. But there is loads of entertainment value, too.

Steve Martin made his debut on the show and comedy regulars included Don Novello (later Father Guido Sarducci on "Saturday Night Live"), the so low-key you may wonder if he has a pulse Pat Paulsen, Rob Reiner and others. And just check out some of the YouTube videos below for the mind-boggling array of musical guests. (Trivia: That Who performance, with the huge explosion at the end courtesy of Keith Moon overfilling his bass drum with explosives, permanently damaged guitarist Pete Townshend's hearing.)

One of the most prominent of these is Pete Seeger. The folk star had been kept of television for years as a result of McCarthy-era blacklisting, but was booked onto the show at the Brothers' behest (Johnny Cash also bravely booked Seeger on his show).

And, not only did Seeger get airtime, he controversially used it to sing his tune "Waist Deep and the Big Muddy"--a scathing indictment of the Johnson Administration's Vietnam policy. The song was censored on Seeger's first appearance, but he was allowed to perform it during a subsequent visit. The tune still has a lot of resonance today, as the U.S. finds itself in another quagmire. (Interestingly, I just paid a visit to the Smothers Brothers' official site and saw that they are supporting an effort to nomintate Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize.)

It was that anti-war stance, and the regular criticism and poking-fun at Johnson and Richard Nixon that ultimately got the popular show canceled

I don't know what sort of behind-the-scenes rights/business shenanigans are keeping this show off disk, but they need to stop!

In the meantime, I guess all we've got are bootleg snippets like those featured below and "Smothered," a 2002 documentary about the show's colorful history.

Pete Seeger


George Harrison


The Who


Harry Nilsson


Peter, Paul and Mary/Donovan/Smothers Brothers




Buffalo Springfield



The Hollies


The Byrds


Simon And Garfunkel


The Association


Steve Martin


Cream


Addendum!

Pete, in his comments to this post, mentioned the Mason Williams' hit "Classical Gas," which had its debut on the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Williams, also a comedian, was a writer for the program and helped launch Steve Martin's career. "Classical Gas" became a hit record after it's debut on the Smothers' show, and you can see a video of it here:

Pop links

The original lineup of British ska band The Specials is reforming.

MC and vocalist Neville Staple has confirmed that the band have been rehearsing together and plans could be in the pipeleine for a UK tour later this year.

"A couple of months ago we [all] started talking," he said. "We had to talk first to see if we could get on, but we got past the talking stage. Then we said, 'Okay, let’s see what we're like in a room together rehearsing with instruments'."


One of my favorite groups back in high school...

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Evolutionary biologist and best-selling author of "The God Delusion" Richard Dawkins will make a guest appearance in the fourth season of "Doctor Who." (Don't click the link if you're worried about spoilers).

"People were falling at his feet," says [Doctor Who producer Russell T.] Davies, creator of the BBC's flagship show. "We've had Kylie Minogue on that set, but it was Dawkins people were worshipping."


Interesting tidbit: Dawkins' wife is Lalla Ward, who played the Doctor's companion Romana back in the Tom Baker days.

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Via Robot Wisdom: Is this the first misspelling in 83 years of New Yorker cartoons?

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From Scans Daily: The many disguises of Captain America and Bucky.

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"Watchmen" artist Dave Gibbons has penned a companion volume to the famed comic book mini-series.

Titan Books is to shed new light on this seminal work with WATCHING THE WATCHMEN by Dave Gibbons. Providing the ultimate companion to the comics masterpiece, artist Dave Gibbons gives his own account of the genesis of WATCHMEN in this dust-jacketed hardback volume, opening his archives to reveal excised pages, early versions of the script, original character designs, page thumbnails, sketches and much more, including posters, covers and rare portfolio art. Featuring the breathtaking design of Chip Kidd and Mike Essl, WATCHING THE WATCHMEN is both a major art book in its own right, and the definitive companion to the graphic novel that changed an industry.

“I’ve had a great time, re-visiting the very beginnings of Watchmen and unearthing material I haven’t set eyes on for many years. As a fan myself, this is the kind of stuff I eat up and I’m sure the many devotees of the graphic novel will do the same!” says Gibbons.


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Bob Dylan has been awarded a special Pulitzer Prize. The Bard was...

....cited for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

It was the first time Pulitzer judges, who have long favored classical music, and, more recently, jazz, awarded an art form once dismissed as barbaric, even subversive.


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From Jon's Random Acts of Geekery: A board game based on the Archie/Mighty Comics/MLJ super-heroes.

Lost April 24, 2008, episode preview

Hey, "Lost" is back in a couple weeks! Scroll over the hidden text below for details about the ep.

LOCKE'S CAMP COMES UNDER ATTACK, AND JACK ATTEMPTS TO IDENTIFY A BODY
THAT WASHES ASHORE, ON ABC'S "LOST"
"Lost" Moves to its New 10:00 p.m., ET Time-slot, Thursday, April 24
"The Shape of Things to Come" - Locke's camp comes under attack, and Jack tries to discover the identity of a body that has washed ashore, on "Lost," THURSDAY, APRIL 24 (10:01-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

"Lost" stars Naveen Andrews as Sayid, Henry Ian Cusick as Desmond, Emilie de Ravin as Claire, Michael Emerson as Ben, Matthew Fox as Jack, Jorge Garcia as Hurley, Josh Holloway as Sawyer, Daniel Dae Kim as Jin, Yunjin Kim as Sun, Evangeline Lilly as Kate, Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet, Terry O'Quinn as Locke and Harold Perrineau as Michael.

Guest starring are Ken Leung as Miles, Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday, Rebecca Mader as Charlotte, Sam Anderson as Bernard, Tania Raymonde as Alex, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Marc Vann as doctor, Kevin Durand as Keamy, Yetide Badaki as desk clerk, Kaveh Kardan as merchant, Faran Tahir as Ishmael Bakir and Sean Douglas Hoban as Doug.

"The Shape of Things to Come" was written by Brian K. Vaughan & Drew Goddard and directed by Jack Bender.

"Lost" is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1-channel surround sound and Spanish audio via SAP. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.

This episode of "Lost" will be available on ABC.com the day after airing on the network for users to watch online.

Also see:

Lost Season 4 Episode Guide
The Best Lost Sites on the Web
Lost: What we STILL don't know

Monday, April 07, 2008

CD new releases April 8, 2008

B0014DBZT2 Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! By Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Buy New: $9.99

B0013FCYGE Boo! By Was (Not Was)
Buy New: $13.99

B0013P6TK6 Colin Meloy Sings Live!
Buy New: $12.97

B0014I4KNU Because Her Beauty Is Raw & Wild By Jonathan Richman
Buy New: $16.98

B00110YOEQ Inside Folk Songs By Shel Silverstein
Buy New: $14.99

B00110YOEG Hairy Jazz By Shel Silverstein
Buy New: $17.98

B0013XZNA0 The Impulse! Albums, Vol. 2 By John Coltrane
Buy New: $39.97

B0012CJM8Q To Sir with Love/It's Lulu By Lulu
Buy New: $19.98

DVD new releases April 8, 2008

B00104QSOM There Will Be Blood
Buy New: $22.99

B0012IWO0I The Water Horse - Legend of the Deep
Buy New: $18.99

B0011FDVEK Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, Vol. 3
Buy New: $48.99

B0012EM5F6 Perry Mason 50th Anniversary Edition
Buy New: $34.99

B0012KSUTK Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection
Buy New: $36.99

B0012OSGJK Houdini
Buy New: $29.99

B0012EBV9C Mythbusters - Collection 3
Buy New: $22.49

B0012KSUTU All About Eve
Buy New: $14.99

New and upcoming books of interest to pop culture fans

Click titles to order books from Amazon.

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Fear Of Music: The 261 Greatest Albums Since Punk and Disco
If there had been a music book of the year award in 2002, Garry Mulholland’s This is Uncool: The Greatest 500 Singles Since Punk and Disco would have walked away with the honors. Not only did it receive impressive reviews, but Mulholland simply has the knack of writing about music with such clarity that you can practically hear the song playing in your head. With his newest guide, he moves on from the single to the album format and produces an equally fantastic volume. Fans will be thrilled to discover that Fear of Music features all the witty, irreverent, and insightful criticism they expect from Mulholland. He takes on classics from the last 30 years by everyone from Iggy Pop (The Idiot), Television (Marquee Moon), and David Bowie (Heroes) through the Rolling Stones (Some Girls), Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP), Madonna (The Immaculate Collection), Outkast (Speakerboxx/The Love Below), and The Prodigy (Music for the Jilted Generation). Of course The Talking Heads, whose Fear of Music gave the book its name, are here too. It’s the perfect gift for everyone who loves popular music, and readers will have a blast debating the selection.

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The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion
Quite simply, the greatest albums of all time—and how they happened. The smartest, most keyed-in music critics from London’s best rock magazine provide opinionated, funny, insightful portraits of the best pop music records ever made. Redesigned and updated to include the most recent releases, and with a new section of artists contributing their top-five albums of all time. Informative, gossipy, and wide ranging, The MOJO Collection is an essential purchase for those who love and live music.

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Beatles for Sale: How Everything They Touched Turned to Gold
Beatles for Sale is a brand new way of looking at a story you may think you know inside out. Author John Blaney shows for the first time how the group and their inner circle invented so much of what we now recognize as the modern business of making and selling rock music. This was certainly not because Lennon, McCartney, Epstein, and the rest had a clear vision of the way things ought to be. Very often it was simply down to making things up as they went along - because no one had been there before and no one knew how to do these things. The book details the ups and downs of the group as they promoted, advertised, and sold records, played concerts, sold merchandise, made films, and set up publishing and record companies of their own. It is a story of naivety and greed, inexperience and luck, gullibility and ingenuity. It is the story of every aspect of how the Beatles made money - and how virtually every group since then has followed in their footsteps.

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Rock 'N' Roll 39-59
Snare drum backbeat plus electric guitar: the simple formula that launched the rock star, and contemporary teen culture along with it. Today rock 'n' roll seems to define postwar American culture, especially in its impact abroad. Though its inception is often imagined as sudden and seismic, it was of course a gradual and complex transition from boogie-woogie to the stardom of Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. A thorough survey of rock 'n' roll's bloodline would even reach back as far as 1939, a time when the electric guitar's role was mostly played by piano or saxophone. Rock 'n' Roll 39-59 does this, with the assistance of some of the genre's finest photographers. Bruce Davidson, Wayne Miller, Robert W. Kelley, Esther Bubley, Eve Arnold and Ernest C. Withers are all here, amid a wealth of visual props, including priceless period posters, records, rare souvenirs, photographs and film stills, and indices of the movement's key venues, events, artists, producers and people. This book describes a lively mess of genres, from boogie-woogie to blues, gospel, big band jazz, country and most of all rhythm and blues--interbreeding against a backdrop of colossal social change, and culminating in the rock 'n' roll explosion of the mid-1950s.

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Simpsonology: There's a Little Bit of Springfield in All of Us
In this amusing and informative appreciation of The Simpsons, sociologist Tim Delaney looks at the many ways America's longest-running sitcom and animated TV program reflects American culture. For more than fifteen years, the Simpsons have touched upon nearly every aspect of the American social scene--from family dynamics and social mores to local customs and national institutions. With over four hundred episodes aired so far, Delaney finds a goldmine of insights couched in parody on any number of perennial topics:

· On television's influence on American culture, Krusty the Clown says, "Would it really be worth living in a world without television? I think the survivors would envy the dead."

· On New Age religion, Homer says, "To think, I turned to a cult for mindless happiness when I had beer all along."

· On the thorny issue of gun ownership and home security, Homer purchases a pistol at "Bloodbath and Beyond" and then tells Marge, "I don't have to be careful, I got a gun."

· On the theme of community spirit, Bart thoughtlessly signs up with a local Boy Scout troop while on a sugar rush from eating a "Super-Squishee." The next day he realizes what he has done: "Oh, no. I joined the Junior Campers!" To which his sister, Lisa, responds: "The few, the proud, the geeky."

Delaney finds many more episodes relevant to major sociological issues such as environmentalism, feminism, romance and marriage, politics, education, health, aging, and more. Students of popular culture and laypersons alike will learn basic sociological concepts and theories in a refreshing, jargon-free work that offers plenty of entertainment.


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A Complete History of American Comic Books
This book is an updated history of the American comic book by an industry insider. You’ll follow the development of comics from the first appearance of the comic book format in the Platinum Age of the 1930s to the creation of the superhero genre in the Golden Age, to the current period, where comics flourish as graphic novels and blockbuster movies. Along the way you will meet the hustlers, hucksters, hacks, and visionaries who made the American comic book what it is today. It’s an exciting journey, filled with mutants, changelings, atomized scientists, gamma-ray accidents, and supernaturally empowered heroes and villains who challenge the imagination and spark the secret identities lurking within us.

From the Back Cover
"One part history and one part how-to add up to a book that really puts the ‘Pow’ back into comics." —Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief, Marvel Comics

"Shirrel Rhoades reflects on his journey through the world of comics as a reader, collector, and executive, offering a very personal perspective on a unique American art form and industry." —Paul Levitz, President and Publisher of DC Comics

"It’s a rare treat to read a book on this peculiar medium by a man who knows it as well, from the inside, as Shirrel Rhoades—and a fast, fun, crystal-clear book it is." —Gerard Jones, Author of Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangster, and the Birth of the Comic Book


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Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture: 1875-1945
“The definitive history of youth in revolt, from the gaslight age to the dawn of rock.”
—David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“Compulsive reading . . . Teenage is a rich, rewarding book that makes an important contribution to cultural history.”
—Camille Paglia, The New York Times Book Review

“Resonant . . . Savage explores . . . [an] array of teenager types, from the wild, sensational precursors to juvenile delinquency to the straight-laced good-citizen proto-preppie. It’s Savage’s claim to being a great historian, and it’s mighty convincing.”
—The Onion

In his previous landmark book on youth culture and teen angst, the award-winning England’s Dreaming, Jon Savage presented the “definitive history of the English punk movement” (The New York Times). Now, in Teenage, he explores the secret prehistory of a phenomenon we thought we knew, in a monumental work of cultural investigative reporting. Beginning in 1875 and ending in 1945, when the term “teenage” became an integral part of popular culture, Savage draws widely on film, music, literature high and low, fashion, politics, and art and fuses popular culture and social history into a stunning chronicle of modern life.


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Wacky Packages
Wacky Packages—a series of collectible stickers featuring parodies of consumer products and well-known brands and packaging—were first produced by the Topps company in 1967, then revived in 1973 for a highly successful run. In fact, for the first two years they were published, Wacky Packages were the only Topps product to achieve higher sales than their flagship line of baseball cards. The series has been relaunched several times over the years, most recently to great success in 2007.

Known affectionately among collectors as “Wacky Packs,” as a creative force with artist Art Spiegelman, the stickers were illustrated by such notable comics artists as Kim Deitch, , Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, and Norm Saunders.

This first-ever collection of Series One through Series Seven (from 1973 and 1974) celebrates the 35th anniversary of Wacky Packages and is sure to amuse collectors and fans young and old.


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Working with Walt: Interviews With Disney Artists
Walt Disney created or supervised the creation of live-action films, television specials, documentaries, toys, merchandise, comic books, and theme parks. His vision, however, manifested itself first and foremost in his animated shorts and feature-length cartoons, which are loved by millions around the world.

Working with Walt: Interviews with Disney Artists collects revealing conversations with animators, voice actors, and designers who worked extensively with Disney during the heyday of his animation studio. The book includes fifteen interviews with artists who directed segments of such classic animated features as Dumbo and Fantasia. Some interviewed were part of Disney's famed team dubbed "The Nine Old Men of Animation," and some worked closely with Disney on Steamboat Willie, his first cartoon with sound.

Among the subjects the interviewees discuss are the studio's working environment, the high-water mark of animation during Hollywood's Golden Age, and Disney's mixture of childlike charm and hard-nosed business drive. Through these voices, Don Peri preserves an account of the Disney magic from those who worked closely with him.


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Radio Drama: A Comprehensive Chronicle of American Network Programs, 1932-1962
Grams (CBS Radio Mystery Theater) has unearthed a mother lode of information about old-time radio. Over 300 programs are alphabetically arranged by title, not just drama and genre programs but documentaries, variety shows, and musical comedies. The titles of individual episodes are listed with air dates and cast members. Directors, producers, writers, and musical personnel are credited, and meticulous care is given to title changes, sponsor, and the day and time of broadcast. Sometimes, though, attention to minutiae obscures more important facts. The entry on The Return of Nick Carter, for instance, notes that the first two episodes were called Nick Carter, Master Detective but neglects to mention that after a three-year run the program used this title again for another eight years. Better use of cross references (only one now appears) would help clarify connections among various programs. Also, some popular shows are inexplicably omitted, notably Little Orphan Annie, The Lone Ranger, and The Shadow, and the 39-page three-column index gives ample access to the people involved but doesn't refer to program titles, sponsors, or networks.

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Captain Kirk's Guide to Women
Casanova, Don Juan, James Bond -- these are men of legendary romance, but only one man can boast that his seductive powers take him boldly where no man has gone before: James T. Kirk.

Captain Kirk's status as an interstellar stud is proven by his ability to seduce any woman, in any situation, in any part of the galaxy. From high-society princesses to unbalanced Orion slave girls, from gender-switching shape-shifters to emotion-deprived androids -- they all swoon, acquiesce, and malfunction from just one kiss.

But a single question remains in the minds of millions: How does he do it?

Captain Kirk's Guide to Women is the first book to answer this question by probing deeply into Kirk's character, charisma, and seductive techniques, making it possible for any man to model himself after the Casanova of the Cosmos. It is also the only warp-powered romance manual written with enough wit, charm, and humor to help the female of the species make first contact.

Employing meticulous research, along with fanatic-level detail and the kind of pointy-eared logic even a Vulcan would find fascinating, Captain Kirk's Guide to Women shows you how to be as effective as Captain Kirk.