Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday's Favorite OTR

Phil Harris & Alice Faye: "Talented Children's Screen Test" 11/20/49

One of Phil's and Alice's daughters a screen test. Phil is ecstatic, Alice is reluctant, the other daughter is jealous and Phil's friend Frankie decides he'll act as agent. This all sets up some truly hilarious dialogue.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Henpecked Husbands

Apparently, if you live in a fictional universe and you are a henpecked husband, then you will be required to take extreme measures to save yourself from a hellish home life. In most works of fiction, wise marriage counseling simply doesn't exist.

Take poor Rip Van Winkle, for instance. One of the reasons the guy took long walks in the woods was to escape his shrewish wife:

"Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of matrimony rolled on; a tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use."



It's not until Rip runs into those odd fellows in the woods and ends up taking a 20-year nap that he finally gets away from Dame Van Winkle. For most of us, losing 20 years of our lives and missing the opportunity to watch our kids grow up would be an unspeakable tragedy. Heck, Rip even has to deal with the culture shock of discovering that his home was now a part of a brand new country, since he also slept through the American Revolution. 

But Rip manages to adjust to all this with little trouble, because he learned his wife had recently died and:

There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence.

The story even implies that his 20-year long nap was a gift from those silent and bearded men in the woods.

If we jump ahead a few centuries, though, we discover a much-more high-tech solution to escaping a shrewish wife. In the November 20, 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone (titled "Time Enough at Last"), we meet Henry Bemis. All poor Henry wants to do is read, but neither his spiteful wife nor his strict boss will
allow him to do so. But when Henry turns out to be the only survivor of a nuclear war--well, THAT gives him plenty of time to read. Until, of course.. well, the ending of that episode is justly famous, but I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it yet.

Actually, the point of that episode was supposed to be a warning not to get so wrapped up in something (even something worthwhile like reading) that you lose touch with real life. This really is one of Zone's best stories, but I think it fails to make this point and instead works so well because of Burgess Meredith's great performance and the scary twist at the end. Bemis' wife is so mean all you feel is sympathy for him, with none at all left over for her. Bemis' boss has a point about his reading at work when he should be working, but comes across as such a jerk about it that our sympathies once again go to Bemis.

Of course, despite my sympathy for Bemis, it's not as if I've ever had my Kindle app running on my computer at work while I was supposed to be actually working. I'd never do that. That would be wrong. Of course it would be wrong. 




One of my favorite Film Noirs is Scarlet Street (1945), directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G. Robinson. Edward G. is a meek cashier who likes to paint, but who's home life is rather unpleasant. His wife is shrewish because she still idolizes her first husband--a cop who drowned while trying to save someone. In her eyes, Robinson just doesn't live up to that image.

But Robinson falls in with a fast-talking femme fatale played by Joan Bennett. Bennett and her boyfriend (played with a wonderfully sleazy ambiance by Dan Duryea) are playing Robinson for whatever cash they can get out of him. The temporary side effect of this, though, is to give Robinson a little more confidence. So when the supposedly dead first husband shows up, Robinson comes up with a scheme that will allow him to get out of his unhappy marriage and marry Bennett. Because how could that possibly end badly?

Robinson, Bennett and Duryea had teamed up with Fritz Lang a year earlier for a film with a similar plot titled The Women in the Window. But that otherwise great film is spoiled by an "It's all a dream" ending. Scarlet Street's ending, on the other hand, is unabashedly bleak and full of tragedy, but it was appropriate to the story. The movie's theme about the consequences of an otherwise good man making bad moral decisions is a common one in Film Noir, but it's useful for us all to have a reminder of that from time to time.; even if we aren't henpecked husbands.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chase Through Time

Before Otto Binder came to DC to write awesome Superman stories injected with his own brand of quirky humor, he worked for Fawcett Comics, writing awesome Captain Marvel stories injected with his own brand of quirky humor.

If a Captain Marvel story is written by Binder and drawn by the good captain's creator C.C. Beck, then you really can't go wrong. The story IS going to be dripping with imaginative fun.

For instance, The Marvel Family #10 (April 1947) doesn't just drip with imagination, it pours out imagination in a nearly unending flood. 



The bad guys are the Sivana family--the evil doctor and his two equally annoying kids Junior and Georgia. Their plan is to build a machine that will prevent the magic lightning from reaching earth when Billy and Mary yell "Shazam." Or when Freddy Freeman yells "Captain Marvel." So the Marvels will be unable to change into their super-powered alter egos.

But to do so, they need three elements. One element only exists 10,000 years in the past. One exists 10,000 years in the future. The last exists in the present. In fact, it's actually the same element--just in different forms during different time periods because of radioactive decay.

Since time travelling in the Fawcett Comics universe involves zipping around the Rock of Eternity, the wizard Shazam spots the Sivanas as they travel to gather up the elements. He warns the Marvels and what follows are three mini-adventures, all involving the continent of Atlantis (either above or below water depending on when) and all involving scientists who are members of the
same family.

In each case, the Sivanas manage to capture one of the Marvels, who have a bad habit of deciding to transform back into normal humans at the wrong moments. There are times, quite frankly, when the Marvels just weren't that good at their job. Wisdom of Solomon, my foot!

The Sivanas also get the elements to make their magic lightning barrier. Then--because there are moments when the Sivanas aren't very good at
their job--they decide not to kill Billy, Mary and Freddy. Instead, they'll hunt them in a faux "fox" hunt.  

Well, the Marvels can't depend on their super powers, but they can still use their brains. So maybe--just maybe--they can turn the tables on the bad guys.

The story is so much fun that the cliches aren't bothersome at all--everything (including the cliches) flows together nicely into a bizarre story that zips back and forth through time, but still makes sense in the context of the universe in which its set. Thank you, Otto Binder, for your willingness to be both weirdly logical and unapologetically silly at exactly the same time.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Favorite OTR

I'll Fly Anything: "Date with Death" 1/30/51

This is one of just a couple of surviving episodes from a short-lived series about a cargo pilot who'll fly anything anywhere if the price is right. This time around, he's flying in medicine to an island suffering from a typhoid epidemic. But when he gets there, he's soon stumbles into a scheme involving a fake doctor, theft and black-marketeering.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blowin' Stuff Up

When I was a teenager, Alistair MacLean (1922-1987) was perhaps my favorite author. When Christmas approached, I could give my parents a list of MacLean novels I owned and tell them they could get me any not on the list for a present.

His early novels were among his best. In fact, sadly, most of the novels he wrote in the late 1970s and 1980s weren't very good--he'd pretty much lost his mojo late in his career. But when he was on track, he was a magnificent storyteller.

His first book was 1955's HMS Ulysses, an intense tale about a WWII British light cruiser on the Murmansk run, braving horrible weather, intense cold and constant attacks by planes and U-Boats. It is a riveting and (despite a tad too much melodrama in the characterizations) fairly realistic novel, with MacLean drawing on his own wartime experiences for verisimilitude.

I just reread his second and perhaps best-known novel, The Guns of Navarone (1957). Here is MacLean at his very best. The plot seems pretty straightforward--a commando team must infiltrate the German-held island of Navarone in the Aegean Sea and blow up a couple of whopping big guns. This must be done by a certain date to allow a naval squadron to pass by the island without being blown out of the water. The guns are in a cliff-side cavern that is impervious to air attack.

But MacLean introduces all sorts of twists and turns into the story. First, to get onto the island, the commandos must scale an unscaleable cliff (at night during a storm, as it turns out). Then they must dodge German search parties after the enemy gets lucky and discovers they are there. They get captured and have to improvise an escape. They get shot at, dive bombed and shelled. But, by golly, they keep going.

In addition to that, there's even a whodunit element involving exactly how the Germans are getting information about the commandos. All of this added on top of the time pressure to get the mission done make the novel truly exciting from start to finish. Guns is in many ways a template for many of MacLean's novels, with the best of them nearly overflowing with unexpected plot twists and surprises.

MacLean's characters are fun to hang out with as well. The leader is Keith Mallory, given the job because he
is an expert mountaineer as well as an experienced commando. His right-hand man is Andrea, a huge Greek who is both intensely humane and a nigh-unbeatable warrior at the same time. MacLean often includes a supporting character who is big and indefatigable in strength and endurance. Andrea is probably the most memorable of these.

Their explosives expert is an American named Dusty Miller. MacLean really does overdo Miller's Western drawl, but the character is still likable. And one can argue that the drawl helps mask just how smart and capable Miller is, making some of his actions later in the novel an effective surprise.

As with some of his other early novels, MacLean does pile on the melodrama a little too thickly from time to time, but never enough to spoil a reader's enjoyment. For instance, one of the commandos is a young soldier named Andy Stevens, who is constantly afraid that Mallory and Andrea will realize he is afraid; or that he'll fail them at a key moment. On the one hand, Andy's character arc is cliched and predictable to a degree. On the other hand, MacLean presents Andy in a believable and empathetic manner, so we are sincerely rooting for the guy the whole time.

 In the 1961 film, character relationships were changed radically (though the film still follows the basic plot very closely). Mallory and Andrea, for instance, were changed from best friends to deadly enemies--Andrea is planning on killing Mallory once the war is over and they are done killing Germans. It's a complete 180 from their relationship in the book. The film was meant to have more of an anti-war theme, so this change and other character changes were made to highlight this.

The film really is a classic--exciting and visually stunning, but I would argue it doesn't pull off the anti-war theme at all. Francis Truffaut once said that its impossible to make a true anti-war film because movies will invariably make the action seem exciting.


That's particularly true in the film version of The Guns of Navarone. Both the book and the film make strong points about the brutality of war and the necessity of leaders making decisions that will cost lives no matter what. The film adds points about how war can break people emotionally. But in the end, the film succeeds too well in making everything about the mission look awesome. When those guns blow up, we're not thinking "What a horrible experience this must have been!" Instead, we're thinking "Oh, man, that's cool!" and subconsciously wishing we'd been on the mission as well, fighting alongside Mallory and Andrea.

And maybe that's okay. Heck, if real life intruded too far into most adventure stories, then there'd be no sense in telling them. Most of us will never be given the job of blowing up Nazi cannon, which is just as well because most of us would really stink at the job. But there's no reason we can't blow 'em up vicariously through the bravery and cleverness of Mallory, Miller and Andrea--and we can do so via the novel, the movie or even the mind-numbingly cool Marx playset.







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eye In the Sky

Harvy Kurtzman wrote and edited Frontline Combat. A talented artist himself, it's my understanding that he typically drew the layouts for each story he wrote, then obligated the artist doing the pencils to follow his layouts EXACTLY.

EC Comics were employing some of the best artists around during the 1950s, so I understand that some of them were frustrated by this approach. But at the same time, Kurtzman was one of the best storytellers that's ever worked in the comic book industry. His sense of what would make a particular story look fantastic was impeccable.



Let's look at the first story from Frontline Combat #11 (March/April 1953). Like most stories from this book, it's a Korean War adventure. Titled "Bird-Dogs," its a very simple yarn about a pilot and his observer flying a small plane over enemy lines. They spot troop movements or gun emplacements, then call in artillery fire. That's pretty much it.



But it's a great story specifically because of the way Kurtzman had artist John Severin illustrate it. Much of the story is the direct point-of-view of the guys in the plane, looking down at the landscape below them. And this simple approach turns what might have been at best an okay story--perhaps even a dull story--into something visually innovative.



We can't help but get into the story when we see what the pilot sees--troops moving along a road or a machine gun nest (which opens fire on the plane). That birds-eye view draws us into the story and plops us down right next to the pilot.

I reviewed an EC war story a few months ago. Both that story and this one work for similar reasons--the visual layouts are designed specifically to highlight the strengths of the stories and thus elevate the level of suspense and excitement. It was part of Kurtzman's particular genius that he always understood the best way to do that for each particular story.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Fan Commentary.

Here's my attempt at a fan commentary for a movie. This is for The Professionals (1966), starring Lee Marvin & Burt Lancaster. The idea is to listen to it while playing a DVD of the movie. (I make a few preliminary remarks, then tell you when to hit PLAY.) Be warned that I had no idea that the microphone I was using would pick up the sound of my breathing so loudly, so there's a few times when I pause and it sounds like an asthmatic cat is dying nearby. I think the program I used to record may allow me to "silence" these sections, so I might be able to upload a better version of this soon.

PROFESSIONALS--FAN COMMENTARY



Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday's Favorite OTR

Defense Attorney: "Joshua Masters" 4/10/52

Mercedes McCambridge starred in this relatively short-lived series as attorney Martha Bryant. This time around, a client of Martha's apparently kills his own son before committing suicide. Well, the client may be dead, but he's still a client. Martha sets out to prove his innocence.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

One Last Song

Read/Watch 'em In Order #41

There's no denying it: Song of the Thin Man (1947) is the weakest entry in the series. It has several problems, the primary one being that the mystery is just a so-so one that progresses in an often heavy-handed manner, then resolved when Nick sets up an equally heavy-handed deus ex machina to trick the killer into giving himself/herself away.


The plot is potentially good. A band leader is murdered aboard a gambling ship. He was a ladies man with an eye for women both married and unmarried AND he owed a gambler $12,000 dollars, so there's plenty of motive to go around. Nick and Nora become involved when the main suspect asks for their help. All perfectly good stuff with an interesting setting. But the script feels as if it needed one or two more re-writes to polish it up--events play out in a contrived manner rather than flow naturally.

Also, Nick Jr. (played by a young Dean Stockwell) hampers the Charles' style. With a growing son, the couple is more domesticated than ever. In real life, of course, this would have been admirable and appropriate. But in a universe in which married couples frequently stumble over corpses and then try to solve the crime, domestication is never a good thing. We don't want to see them raising a kid and--even though those scenes are done with a fair level of humor--they are disconnected from the murder mystery plot and add nothing to the overall film.

But the movie still manages to be entertaining. This is due in part to the fact that its impossible to watch William Powell and Myrna Loy play off each other and not have enjoy yourself. The supporting cast, including Keenan Wynn as a band member who gets roped into helping the
Charles', is excellent. (Gloria Graham as a singer and Leon Ames as a sleezy promoter are also quite good.) Everyone on screen manages to give the film a lot more class than it might have otherwise had.

Individual scenes stand out as well, such as Nick and Nora trying to grasp the meaning of Keenan Wynn's hep slang. Or the scene I've included here in which the Charles' get an awful lot of information out of a hotel clerk who claims he never snoops on his guests. Also, one character's reaction when the killer is revealed adds a sudden dose of effective drama.

My understanding is that William Powell felt he was getting too old for the role of Nick and wanted to end with series after this film. Perhaps he was right--as Nick and Nora got older, the feel of the movies would have inevitably changed. (Though Myrna Loy was still as much of a goddess as always in the looks department.)

On the other hand, had Song of the Thin Man had a better script (and if Nick Jr. were shipped off to military school), perhaps they could have continued the series longer without a loss of quality.

We'll never know. But at least we got to spend six movies with Nick and Nora. They were indeed a fun couple. If more married couples regularly discovered dead bodies and solved murders, the real world would be an infinitely more interesting place.




So that's it for the Thin Man films. Next, we're going to stick with unusual detectives and look at the first three Hildegard Withers films from 1932 to 1935 (the three that star Edna May Oliver as Hildegard). Hildegard was a spinster school teacher with a knack for solving crimes, so she can't help but be interesting.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clones, Kidnappings and a Museum Tour

To celebrate the 500th issue of Action Comics (cover dated October 1979), DC opted to do the obvious--recounting the life story of Superman. To their credit, though, they did the obvious in a very entertaining manner, merging the biographical information together with an evil plot involving clones and hidden explosives.



Metropolis is opening a Superman Museum. Because a huge amount of the proceeds are going to charities, Superman agrees to be there and take a group through a guided tour, recounted important parts of his life as they pass by various exhibits. Of course, most of his closest friends--Lois, Lana, Perry, Clark (or a robot Clark, at least) are there with him.



The biographical part is done very well. Its fun to see all the key moments in Kal-el's life all presented in Curt Swan's always nifty art work. Everything important (from Krypto to the various forms of Kryptonite to the origin of his costume to the bottle city of Kandor, etc.) is there--Superman even mentally muses about aspects of his life involving his secret identity, so we readers get to see all the stuff he's not sharing with the museum visitors. If you knew nothing about Supes
going into this issue, you'd be reasonably well-read on the subject by the time you finished this 64-page story.

But while Superman is giving his tour, Lex Luthor is up to no good as usual. His plan involves a clever way of actually getting a cell sample from Superman, growing a clone, replacing Supes with the clone and blowing up the museum.

Of course, his plan is foiled. Superman ends up in a cell lit by a red-sun lamp that renders him powerless, but he depends on his brains rather than his powers to escape and get the upper hand on Lex. The finale is a one-on-one fight with the Superman clone.



Writer Martin Pasko ends the story with a nice bit of narration, explaining that it's not Superman's planet of origin that makes him who he is (after all, the pre-crisis DC universe had quite a few survivors of Krypton's destruction running around), nor his powers, nor his intelligence. But rather it's "the ability to use all that God-given power and long-nurtured wisdom in the name of kindness... ethics... morality.. the things men call good... to wield that power in the pursuit of justice and in that pursuit, to vanquish evil."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Problem of Picking a Movie

Just to be able to say that I've done it, I want to record a fan commentary for a movie or a TV episode. But--since this isn't something I'll have the time or desire to do on a regular basis--I'm being very indecisive about which movie/episode to do.

At first, I thought about doing the original King Kong, talking about it as if it were based on a true story and referencing other dinosaur movies (like The Lost World and Valley of Gwangi) as being true stories as well. So I'd be comparing scenes in the movie to what actually happened in "real life." But this really isn't a strong enough joke to run for a 100 minute movie.

I don't have the talent to do a good Mystery Science Theater-style commentary and, besides, I do want to actually comment on the storytelling effectiveness or general coolness of whatever movie I pick.

But which movie? Which one? It's driving me nuts trying to pick one.

Here's my unrehearsed and stream-of-consciousness commentary of one scene from Tarzan and the Slave Girl (1950). Gee whiz, is it really a good idea to make people listen to that voice for 90 minutes? Maybe I should rethink this:


Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday's Favorite OTR

Escape: "The Notebook"  7/26/53

A grim and gripping Western about two men trying to get back to civilization to file a claim on a gold strike. But someone else wants the gold and is stalking them relentlessly.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Submarines and Starships


The 1957 war movie The Enemy Below is essentially proof that a good cliché or trope can be used again and again as the basis for good storytelling—as long as the story is skillfully told.



The movie used what even by 1957 was indeed a cliché—the story of a submarine and a surface vessel stalking one another. And it definitely is done skillfully.

The surface vessel is the destroyer escort USS Haynes, which is tracking a German U-boat. The crew of the Haynes is eager to do their jobs, but they’re nervous about their new captain. Captain Murrell (played with quiet intelligence by Robert Mitchum) just transferred into the Navy from the merchant service after spending nearly a month on a raft after his last ship was sunk. His current crew harbors some doubts about him.

But he soon wins their confidence when he proves himself capable of out-thinking his opponent. But Mitchum doesn’t out-think him every time. The German captain makes some clever moves of his own.

The German is played by Curt Jurgens. In real life, the German-born actor spent some time in a concentration camp for his anti-Nazi sentiments, so it’s ironic that many of his best-known roles after the war were playing soldiers or sailors in the German military. Here he plays a determined professional who simply wants to get his boat and his crew home alive.

Much of the movie counterpoints Mitchum and Jurgens as the two men strive to kill each other while simultaneously developing a mutual respect for one another’s abilities. Both the cast and the effective plot construction are combined to make a tense and entertaining movie.

Mitchum’s executive officer in the movie is played by David Hedison (billed as Al Hedison in this early part of his career). Seven years later, Hedison would transfer from surface ships to submarines when he played Captain Lee Crane in the television version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

In the January 2, 1966 episode titled “Killers of the Deep,” Hedison got to relive the events of The Enemy Below. A sub belonging to a small nation is stealing nukes from underwater missile silos because (as the sub captain explains): “A very small country with a few nuclear missiles suddenly becomes a very large country.”

Crane and Admiral Nelson (Richard Basehart) scout for the enemy in the Flying Sub, but are shot down. Crane ends up a prisoner on the enemy sub, while Basehart is picked up by an American destroyer and leads the effort to destroy the sub.

The episode uses a lot of stock footage from The Enemy Below, but manages to weave this fairly seamlessly into the episode. Though “Killers from the Deep" is a little shameless in how closely it follows the plot of the film (including having Basehart twice use the exact same chains of logic Mitchum uses to predict the sub’s actions), it’s a very entertaining episode. It leaves out the Enemies Gaining Mutual Respect trope, but the villain is played by Michael Ansara, who is always fun to watch as a bad guy.


Of course, the episode adds Captain Crane’s adventures as a prisoner aboard the enemy sub to the overall plot, where he eventually gets loose and leads the enemy a merry chase through the air vents. (Submarines in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea universe had absurdly large air vents.)

There’s one interesting side effect to using footage from The Enemy Below. Voyage was made in the 1960s, but set in the far future decade of the 1970s. But even by the '60s, the World War II-era depth charging techniques being used by Nelson were long out-of-date. Modern warships could fire ASROCS (anti-submarine rockets) from miles away to take out enemy subs. But the stock footage shows depth charges, so Nelson is stuck with that tactic and ASROCS aren’t even mentioned.

By the way, if you watch the clip below, you may notice the ensign being given orders by Admiral Nelson in John Wayne’s son Patrick. In 1977, Patrick would earn major geek cred by starring in both The People That Time Forgot and Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

Anyway, the year 1966 was not yet done with The Enemy Below. On December 15, the starship Enterprise went up against the Romulans for the first time. When a Romulan ship equipped with a cloaking device destroys some Federation outposts, it’s Captain Kirk’s job to track the ship down and destroy it.

“Balance of Terror” does a great job of translating the ship vs. sub situation into an outer space setting and (with Mark Leonard doing an excellent job as the Romulan captain) it pulls off the Enemies Gaining Mutual Respect vibe quite nicely. It is one of the strongest episodes of the original Star Trek series.

So The Enemy Below was based on a clichéd idea, but used that idea so effectively that its plot bled over into at least two television episodes and still remained a strong story. It’s not an inherently bad thing to reuse an old story idea. The only question is simply whether you tell that story well.





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Conning the Bad Guys

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed a Superman story in which the Man of Steel ran a complex con on Lex Luthor. It reminded me of the TV show Mission: Impossible, a series created by Bruce Geller specifically because he enjoyed complex bank heist movies and wanted a format in which the good guys could justifiably be doing the same sort of thing.

It's a great conceit and, like many other tropes of fiction, it's something that can be done over and over again in an infinite number of variations.

It's an idea that writer Larry Hama ran with during the 1980s in Marvel's G.I. Joe Special Missions. This was a spin-off of the main G.I. Joe title, showcasing side missions that the Joe Team might be running at any one time. Often, the villains were still the international terrorist group known as Cobra (their main enemies in the regular Joe book). But Special Missions gave Hama an opportunity to pit the Joes against other bad guys as well. And he often used the "running a con" plot to great effect.

The very first issue (October 1986), in fact, had the Joes running a con right out the gate.



A supposedly Swedish trawler is sailing in the Baltic Sea. Except it's not really Swedish--it's packed full of Joes. Their mission? Well, both the elite Russian commando team known as the Oktober Guard and Cobra think they are trying to recover classified equipment from a sunken American sub.



Both the Russians and Cobra are determined to get to the sub first. This leads to a helicopter dogfight, then expands into the Baroness (Cobra's beautiful but ruthless assassin) leading a boarding party aboard the Russian ship. But while Cobra and the Oktober Guard are trying to kill each other, two Joe frogmen also sneak aboard the Russian vessel. Because the sunken sub doesn't really exist and all this is really part of a plan to carry out another mission entirely...

It's a fun story. Herb Trimpe, the usual G.I. Joe artist from that era, does his typically strong job of presenting the action. And I've always enjoyed Hama's ability to merge complex plot twists together with cool battle scenes.

And it's always fun watching the bad guys get fooled. When that sort of plot is done well and shows real cleverness and imagination... well, as I said--it's a trope that simply doesn't get old.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cover Cavalcade


There's no doubt that Barry Windsor-Smith is a superb artist who helped make Conan's first comic book series successful, but to this day fans still argue about that darn horned helmet.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

An honored spot indeed!


One of my books on the shelf of the Ringling College of Art and Design library. It's sandwiched between The Encyclopedia of Monsters on one side and Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration on the other. Definitely an honored spot.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Whistler: "The Strange Sisters" 1/28/46

It's not easy being a middle child. Especially when your domineering older sister convinces your weak-willed younger sister that they ought to kill you.

Click HERE to listen or download.

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