Thursday, August 3, 2017

Top 5 at the Harryhausen Exhibit


The smART Space section of Science Museum Oklahoma is committed to showcasing the convergence of art and science.  New exhibits rotate throughout the year and bring unique works of imagination and innovation to Oklahoma city crowds.

The most recent exhibit to inhabit the space is "Ray Harryhausen – Mythical Menagerie" which celebrates the work and innovation of legendary special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen.  If you don't know the name, I can guarantee you that his talent has influenced the work of some of your favorite filmmakers.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the Top 5 pieces on display in this menagerie of monsters:

5.  Skeleton Soldier (Jason and the Argonauts, 1963)

One of the most famous visuals of Harryhausen's work may the the sight of the sword wielding skeleton army in "Jason and the Argonauts."  A few of these guys survived and are on display as well as some partial pieces.  They were a part of an incredibly ambitious action sequence:

4.  Storyboards (Various)

Storyboards are one of the more underappreciated pieces of the artistic processes in film making.  A lot of time, effort and talent go into creating them and then they aren't seen by the movie audience.  This one is from "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" but there are several more on display.

3.  Medusa (Clash of the Titans, 1981)

The incredible details of the Medusa model doesn't fully come across in the movie.  So this is a great opportunity to really get a close look at the work that goes into a piece like this.  Just don't look at her'll turn to stone.

2.  Bubo (Clash of the Titans, 1981)

Our friend Bupo here stands out from the pack since he's not your typical Harryhausen "monster," but instead, he is kind of/sort of a robot.  Or at least he's a mechanical creature created by one of the gods to be comic relief.  This model was used for close ups (something different was used for the flying effects seen below).

1.  This Crazy Walrus (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, 1977)

This is another example of of an uncommon type of "monster" in Harryhausen's body of work but I knew as soon as I saw it that it would be my #1.  Look at this thing.  We typically think of walruses as essentially big sea sloths but when you lay eyes on this guy you know you wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley.

The exhibit runs until Dec 3rd so there's plenty of time to go see Hollywood history live and in person.  Take the kids and show them what movie monsters used to look like before computers took over.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

About a Boy


We all know that portly young lad who hoists a hamburger to the heavens as he beckons travelers to stop and enjoy some comfort food.   Don't ask me why, but Big Boy restaurants (which have various names in various parts of the country) always seem like the place where people eat when they're on vacation or away from home. And that makes a road trip the perfect story for a Big Boy comic:

As you can probably imagine, this 16 page comic packed with coloring pages, puzzles and a kid's menu doesn't have a strong plot.  The story involves Big Boy and his friends Katie and Tripp heading out to camp at an unnamed National Park.  They head there in what I'm calling the "Big Boymobile," which I think is a huge missed merchandising opportunity.  Here's a couple of looks at BB's sweet ride:

Why weren't we all playing with toy Big Boymobiles as kids?  If they ever made any of these things, I never saw them.  So when the gang gets to the park, Big Boy essentially lectures the other two about how great National Parks are and then (I assume the next day) they put out their campfire.  And of course, for Big Boy's more fervent fans, we get this beefcake tease:

That's it.  That's the story.  It may not seem like much to you but I think it's the perfect "keep the kids busy" length for a family restaurant.  And if you were a kid at Big Boy's in 1981 who was perusing this comic issue, what would you be eating?  Well, these were your options:

Looks pretty good to me.  But before we pay the check and pile back into the car, there's one more thing that's worth noting.  In this issue, Big Boy pays a somewhat arbitrary yet seemingly long overdue homage to...sticks:

Yep, sticks are awesome.  You can't deny that.  They can do anything from scratching an itch to holding a venous snake at bay.  Let's hear it for sticks!

So with that, it's back on the road to the next roadside attraction, National Park or restaurant that's just not in your hometown.  Keep an eye open for Big Boy, he'll be holding up that hamburger for ya.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunset in Gotham

Yesterday we lost a legend when 88 year old Adam West passed away.  For many his portrayal of Batman, while unique in its own right, was seminal.  He also helped introduce many of us to the world of super heroes and comic books.

Scores of tributes came through on Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues and I thought I'd share some of my favorites:

Click on any of them to go to each individual social media account and if you have any tributes of your own feel free to let us know.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Free Comic Book Day Wrap Up

 Another year, another stack of free comics!  The 2017 Free Comic Book Day included Wonder Woman, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Barbie, Doctor Who, the gang from Riverdale and a whole lot more of your favorite characters.  I wanted to hit a handful of stores so my first stop was at Titan Comics.

There were several artists lined up outside doing sketches and selling their work.  You can see Jedigoddess above starting a painting of Gamora.  I think she did several Guardians characters but I couldn't stick around to watch.  It was time to hit the next location:

 The local CW station was at Zeus Comics promoting the 800 comic book TV shows that the network has.  They were giving out posters and were sponsoring a CW inspired costume contest.  Among the Jugheads and Firestorms, you could also find Anna and Elsa giving out temporary tattoos:

 After loading up on another stack of freebies, it was time to head to the next location.     At the Mockingbird location of Keith's Comics.  They took they opportunity to have a half off sale on some of their back stock:

 This was my last stop for the day so after I got a hold of my freebies it was time to assess my haul for the day:

 The goal was to load up on kid friendly titles since these guys are going to be given away to the kids of friends and family.  I doubled up on a few titles, especially DC Super Hero Girls since that's my daughter's favorite.

So if you've got some extras from this year's FCBD think about encouraging the next generation of comic book readers.  After all, that what the day is all about.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Batman Top 10 at the Museum

You may remember that one of our shooting location for the Comic Book Literacy documentary was the Toy & Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.  It's a great collection of toys and served as a great backdrop for several interviews.  I recently made a quick stop there while I was on the road in the area.

 They still have tons of great rotating exhibits but, just as before, the biggest collection was of Batman memorabilia which is housed in the museum's very own Bat Cave.  So here's a look at what I thought was the Top 10 pieces in the Batman Collection.

10.  Batman Outdoor Fun Pack

You get a yo-yo, a kite and a "flying disc" (Frisbee is a brand name) in this kit.  Not to mention kite string.  You're going to need that.  What's not to like?  Now go outside and play!

9.  1874 Batman Talking Alarm Clock

Nothing will get you out of bed faster than the stern, forceful voice of the Dark Knight.  You can hear it HERE.  And as a bonus you get the Boy Wonder speeding by in a purple Batmobile.

8.  The Adventures of Batman & Robin Whitman's Sampler

Lots of choices in this candy kit between characters and, I assume, candy fillings.  What will you get?  Robin?  Nougat?  Poison Ivy?  Caramel?  Joker?  Smilex Fudge?  Take a bite and find out!

7.  1973 Batman Paint by Number Set

Let's face it, painting is hard.  Not as hard as crime fighting but, similar to crime fighting, it takes years of study to master.  Or you can just take the easy route and paint by numbers.  I mean, who's gonna stop you?

6.  1969 Big Little Book - Batman: The Cheetah Caper

Lot's of different characters appeared in types of books over the years and, of course, it was only a matter of time before the World's Greatest Detective got his shot.  You can check out some page scans HERE which seem to indicate that this Cheetah is not the Wonder Woman villain but some other weirdo instead.

5.  Batman Returns Happy Meal Display

Every time I see one of these in a fast food place I always think to myself that I should ask the manager if I can buy it once the promotion is done.  And of course, I never do.  When I see one in a collection it reminds me of the shame of my inaction.  That's why it's not higher than #5.

4.  Giant Lego Batman

There's no Batman like Lego Batman and thankfully this one was saved from the sad fate of rotting in a movie theater dumpster.  As a Lego, it falls into both the "toy" and "Batman" categories and a case could be made for calling Lego people "action figures" so this guy is right at home in the Toy & Action Figure Museum.

3.  The Adventures of Batman & Robin Colorforms

No character collection is complete without the obligatory box of Colorforms.  I would have thought the old school toy stopped being made by the time of this TV show but apparently they are still alive and well to this day.  I'm not sure what to do with that little let's move on.

2.  Batman Comics!

This may seem like a no-brainer to you and me but let's not forget that in the sea of toys, movies and cartoons, some of the youngsters might not even be aware that comics exist, much less that Batman is one of their top guys.  It's always nice to have a little reminder of his old school origin.

1.  Batmobile Coin-Op Kiddie Ride

There are a few different types of collectors and what separates the real deals from the wannabes is a piece like this.  I think this is the Batmobile from Batman Forever and it's made its way from outside the grocery store and right into our hearts.  I don't know what usually happens to these things after they are no longer wanted but I think we can all agree that this museum is the right place for this beauty.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sticker Shock

Christmas has come and gone and now we are left with the usual duties of taking down the decorations and playing with the toys Santa brought the kids.  While rooting through various stocking stuffers I came across this pack of seemingly normal Superman stickers:

So apparently it was part of the promotion of the 2006 film "Superman Returns" starring Christopher Reeve doppelganger Brandon Routh.  So, ok, that's not too weird.  You sometimes see older stuff pop up in Dollar Stores and whatnot.  But upon closer inspection (and speaking of Reeve), you start to notice this guy:

Remember him?  (Hint: He wasn't in "Superman Returns")

It's always nice to see the guy but it does seem odd for him to pop up here.  But that's not the weirdest thing.  A few stickers below is this guy:

If you don't immediately recognize him, here's the pic that the sticker was taken from:

That's Tom Welling who spent 10 years playing Clark Kent and about 90 seconds playing Superman in Smallville.  The image itself seems to be a fan art Photoshop that would be found if, say, a bootleg sticker company did an image search for "Superman."

So there you have it.  I prefer to think that these represent a Crisis-type of "Superman of Multiple Earths" sticker set rather than just a lazy bootleg set.  And thus, fantasy become reality. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best of 2016

Yeah, yeah...2016 has been officially declared awful but maybe we can focus on the bright side by looking back at some of the best comics of the year.  I've compiled a list of completely arbitrary categories to highlight what I feel are the best comics of 2016.  Let's get started! (WARNING: SPOILERS START NOW!!!!)

Bets Inter-Company Cross-Over: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW & DC)

Everything gets thrown against the wall in this team-up of legends and a lot of it sticks.   The Turtles do a little universe hopping and pay Gotham City a visit.  When the Shredder and Ra's al Ghul decide to become BFFs to use the residents of Arkham Asylum as a grotesquely mutated army, Batman and Robin must team up with the boys in green to stop them.

There's a lot of fan service and even more goofy fun in the six issue mini-series.  And its success has even spawned a spin-off of sorts.  Now if we could only get an animated version.

Best Updated Version of a Classic Character: Klaus (BOOM! Studios)

Revamping Santa Claus with a new bad-ass origin story could have gone terribly wrong in a hundred different ways.  But Grant Morrison pulled in off in this mini-series that was first released around the holidays last year and wrapped up around midyear.

In what has been described as "Santa: Year One", Santa learns how to become Santa by kicking ass, experimenting with magic, and taking down a tyrannical despot and his evil demon master all while getting the girl and delivering toys to the good little boys and girls.

Best Solo Avenger Title: The Vision (Marvel)

The Vision is a well meaning guy whose life always seems to go horribly wrong.  So he decides to decrease the drama in his life by settling down, starting a family and moving to the suburbs.  And then it all goes horribly wrong.

The series is a mix of faux suburban creepiness and the slow disintegration of the American Dreams of artificial people who can't seem to get away from their very real problems.

Best Team Up: The Lone Ranger/Green Hornet (Dynamite)

Familial bonds are used instead of inter-dimensional shenanigans to bring together two legendary heroes.  The story is densely packed with both real historical figures and various pulp characters and brings an elderly, retired Lone Ranger in contact with his nephew, The Green Hornet in 1936 for an epic adventure with roots in the old west and potential worldwide consequences.

Elliot Ness, Bat Masterson, Jesse Owens, the Cavendish Gang, Al Capone, Teddy Roosevelt and many others get mixed up in the adventure.  There are tons of details and Easter Eggs in the story which are outlined in each issue by writer Michael Uslan.

Best All Ages Title: Scooby-Doo Team-Up (DC)

Imagine if, each month, the Scooby Gang teamed up with various DC Comics heroes to solve mysteries and save the day.  Well, I don't know why I phrased that sentence that way because obviously my next pick involves just such a scenario.

Whether it's Shaggy & Velma getting the powers of Captain Marvel or Scooby and the gang working with other mutts like Krypto, Ace the Bathound and G'Nort, the series always has a fun angle on DC Comics concepts.

Best Indie Title: The Wendy Project (Emet Comics)

A contemporary version of young Wendy Darling grapples with processing her feelings after one of her brothers disappears after a car accident.  While he is presumed dead she uses the journal prescribed by her therapist to help her struggle to separate fantasy from reality.

This is a melancholy version of Peter Pan and an observance of death and life, survival and sanity.  It's a great mini-series targeted at teenage readers.

So those are my picks for 2016.  There were tons of others I could have picked but these are the ones that stood out to me.  What did I miss? What did I get right?  What did I get wrong?