Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dragoncon: The Aftermath (Part 1)

I have a few words to share with you about my Dragoncon visit this weekend; the first time that I've attended the Atlanta, GA-based show this century (I haven't been back since about 1998 or 1999;but I had made several visits between 1991 and then).

Dragoncon is in its 22nd year, and they have definitely worked the kinks out of processing thousands of fans through registration. This frequently irritating process flowed smoothly, quickly, and effectively on the morning of probably their busiest day - Saturday - and the only day that I was in attendance. My small party (four of us) got there pretty early and joined a line that was already said to be around 300+ people long for the 8:00 a.m. opening of registration; although I believe that total was a bit of an exaggeration. Once the line began to move at 7:30am - brother, it moved - so I give the show organizers very high marks for how they got folks inside the show.

The venue was spread across four major downtown Atlanta facilities, the Marriott Marquis hosted the Comics Artists Alley and dealer rooms, the Atlanta Hilton hosted the "Walk of Fame" celebrity guests and dealer rooms, the Hyatt Regency hosted much of the programming tracks and film festivals, and the Sheraton hosted the Star Trek and British media tracks .... and more.

I simply have to mention the godawful amount of humanity that was present on Saturday, lots and lots of people were there, but I didn't detect any major problems occurring due to the sheer amount of fans that were present and the Dragoncon staff seemed to have matters well in hand. I don't doubt that they were all overworked and stressed during the run of the four-day weekend, but the shows organizers and volunteers deserve a well-earned round of applause for their efforts.

Today I'm going to rest my tired feet a bit and then tomorrow I will give my impressions of the celebrity guests who appeared at the show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"Gal" Friday! Morena Baccarin

Morena Baccarin played Inara Serra, a Companion, or high-society courtesan licensed by the Union of Allied Planets (the "Alliance") on Joss Whedon's cult favorite but terribly too short-lived television series, Firefly and the subsequently released theatrical movie sequel, Serenity.

She was also reportedly one of the actresses who were being considered for the role of Wonder Woman.

Morena is slated to appear at Dragoncon in Atlanta, GA this weekend and your humble Catacombs host plans to drool all over her - - - provided security isn't paying too much attention when I make my move.

Malu the Slave Girl in "The Banquet of Thuz"

"The Banquet of Thuz" (cont.)

Here is the second Malu story from Slave Girl Comics #1 and as a special Dragoncon weekend bonus, the text-only "The Curse of Ahmen Ra" story from the same issue.
I will be heading out to Atlanta, Georgia very early tomorrow morning to hobnob with the likes of Edward James Olmos and others from the terrific cast of Battlestar: Galactica, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Hayden Panettiere, cast members from all of the TV series versions of Star Trek, Linda Blair, cool actors from Farscape, Firefly/Serenity & Star Wars, Robert Englund, and Adam "Batman" West; plus hordes of scif-fi, horror & fantasy authors, artists and comics folks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lexington-Style Barbecue

I grew up in nearby North Carolina, but have lived just over the border in South Carolina for seventeen years. Barbecue is probably my favorite guilty pleasure meal and I don't get to enjoy it too often these days without making an extended road trip back home.

South Carolina tends to favor a low-country mustard-based barbecue sauce, which ain't too bad, but when you've been weaned on the "Rolls Royce of Barbecue" ... well ... it's hard to get into any other style. Here is a quick tutorial on that nirvana of Southern meals, Lexington-style Barbecue:

Lexington, North Carolina calls itself the "Barbecue Capital of the World" and since 1984, the city has hosted the Lexington Barbecue Festival, one of the largest street festivals in the Tarheel State. The city has over twenty barbecue restaurants (an average of more than one per thousand residents).

Lexington-style barbecue is made with pork shoulder cooked slowly over a hardwood fire, usually hickory wood. It is basted in a sauce (called "dip" locally) made with vinegar, water, salt, pepper, other spices, and ketchup (a twist from other parts of the state). Actual ingredients will vary from restaurant to restaurant, with each restaurant's recipe being a closely guarded secret. While each is vinegar based, the taste varies widely from tangy to slightly sweet or spicy.

The most distinguishing feature of the "Lexington Barbecue Sandwich" is the inclusion of red slaw (or barbecue slaw). Red slaw is a combination of cabbage, vinegar, ketchup and crushed/ground black pepper. Red slaw is distinguishable from coleslaw because red slaw contains no mayonnaise. Most residents (and visitors) consider red slaw a staple for a quality barbecue experience. Red slaw is also commonly served as a side dish with barbecue, grilled poultry and other meats, and even on hot dogs as a relish. And don't forget the hush puppies, which are small cornmeal breads that are deep fried in a spherical or oblong shape. You HAVE to have the pups along with the "cue" in order to enjoy an official Lexington-style barbecue feast.

If you have never had any of the above, then you don’t know what good eating really is! And it does help if your favorite "chef" prepares the blessed feast in the proper attire, and let me add that, if such proves to be the case, dessert is definitely implied.

She's a cowgirl, baby!

I realized over the weekend that for the very first time since it's inauguration, I totally forgot about posting my weekly "Gal" Friday feature. I guess for once, my mind just wasn't firmly planted in the gutter.

I have already selected someone for this Friday, so to tide us over until then, and to make me feel a little better about the lapse, here is an anonymous young lady (well, at least part of her) from an unidentified source to whet our appetite for some fetching female flesh.

And what a a mighty fine booty it is ... (Damn)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sparks of Life (courtesy of THOIA)

These amusing little "Sparks of Life" panels come from The Purple Claw #3, which was published in May 1953 by Toby Press. Karswell over at "The Horrors Of It All" blog passed them along to Pappy over at his "Golden Age Comics" blog and ultimately to me to complete the daisy chain that brought them to you.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Malu the Slave Girl from Slave Girl Comics #1 (Avon;1949)

Malu the Slave Girl (cont.)

Slave Girl Comics was published by Avon Periodicals in 1949. The series lasted for only two issues and chronicled the adventures of Malu, introduced in the first issue as a contemporary young lady named Sandra Worth who swooned after receiving a mystical ring and then awakened with a whole new life as Malu in the dim past. The artwork is somewhat pedestrian, but there are several panels that are quite striking within the feature. Four short tales of Malu were included in the introductory issue and they will all appear here over the coming days.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

It ain't from a comic book, but it's still funny ....

Sorry for the brief political interlude, but the fiction that the Barack Obama campaign is all about "Change for America" was just blown out of the water with the selection of Joe Biden as the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee.

DNC apologists, media pundits and basically anybody suffering from brain damage, will try to spin this terrible news as a "positive" thing, but please ... some of us can still think for ourselves.

Sad, sad, unfortunate news for the many citizens of this country who had thrown their support behind Obama.

It's the same-old-same-old in Washington, just as it always seems to be.

And no, McCain's impending announcement is not likely to be any better. Neither of these guys deserves a chance to become President of the United States of America, and Hillary would have been a mistake too.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: Final Crisis - Legion of Three Worlds #1

The only "Final Crisis" material that I'm the least bit interested in has finally hit the stands. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1 (of 5) begins with old Legion foe the Time Trapper plucking Superboy-Prime from the time stream to help rid him of his perpetual enemies.

Fans of the Legion and Superman are in for a treat from Geoff Johns and George Perez, as the two have thrown in many aspects from Legion history to whet one's appetite for classic comics which feature not one, not two, but three different versions of the venerable Legion of Super-Heroes.

Playing off of plot-threads from the recent "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" storyline by Johns, which ran for six issues over in Action Comics, Lo3W kicks things of in high style as the now xenophobic Earth population really wants the antiquated Legion to pull up stakes and leave Earth solely for humans. An equal number of the United Planets member world delegates pretty much feel the same way about the matter, and then old supporting character R.J. Brande makes a surprising appearance which ultimately leads to catastrophe.

And that sets up Superboy-Prime's liberation of a certain "alternate" group of Legionnaires for the big conflict ahead.

I recommend this series to all who enjoy good superhero slug fests.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Classic Cutie: Janet Margolin

Since Wednesday is traditionally considered "hump day" during the work week, I thought that I would research one of the many pretty faces that I fondly recall from my wayward youth as a total genre fan.

Janet Margolin made about a dozen motion pictures and appeared in many classic television shows. I especially liked her in Gene Roddenberry's Planet Earth in 1974, which was the second attempt to launch a sci-fi series built around the concept of a 20th century man who was revived from suspended animation in a post-apocalyptic future. Margolin played a character named Harper Smythe, alongside lead actor John Saxon, who was part of an organization called PAX; scientists who were trying to salvage the best knowledge of mankind for the betterment of all. (She took over the role which had been originated by Lynne Marta in the earlier, Genesis II.)

Sadly, Janet Margolin died of ovarian cancer at the young age of 50 on December 17, 1993. Her last movie role was in Ghostbusters 2.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rulah Jungle Goddess in "Plazma Peril"

"Plazma Peril" (cont.)

This fun tale comes from the October 1948 issue of Fox Comics, Rulah Jungle Goddess #19 by Matt Baker (under another spiffy Jack Kamen cover). There are two more Rulah adventures included in that issue that will be heading this way in the near future (or at least until Karswell ships me some more wonky extras from his extensive collection of non-horror stuff).

Yes, that's a hint, Steve! lol

Sunday, August 17, 2008

1970's Flashback: The Rook

The Rook is a time-traveler whose adventures were chronicled in various issues of Eerie magazine published by Warren Publishing in the 1970’s. The character was created by writer Bill DuBay. The Rook eventually proved popular enough to receive his own Rook Magazine which ran for 14 issues between 1979 and 1982 (after its cancellation; he returned to Eerie in #132).

The Rook is actually Restin Dane, from a family of scientists whose members include the unnamed protagonist of the classic science fiction novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Dane got his nickname from the fact that his time machine resembled a giant chess rook. Dane wears Western style clothing and a gun belt. His first adventure was to travel back in time to the Alamo to save his great-great-grandfather Bishop Dane, who then accompanies him on many of his adventures, along with two robots that he built.

In a later adventure, he meets the Time Traveler (who is revealed to be his grandfather Adam Dane) from Wells' book, and helps him in a war between the Eloi and the Morlocks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Gal" Friday! Maria Bello

No, technical difficulties haven't been completely eradicated, but yes, "Gal" Friday must go on.

Fresh from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, comes Maria Bello, who does a good job replacing Rachel Weisz as Evelyn O'Connell. I liked the chemistry between her and Brendan Fraser in the movie, and I also give yummy props to Michelle Yeoh and luscious Isabella Leong.

That's a fine trio of eye candy for movie goers who've already seen The Dark Knight a few times and are looking for another popcorn flick

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Review: The Twelve #7 (Marvel Comics)

If nothing else, The Twelve #7 continues to slowly unravel the mystery of which one of these revived golden age heroes is/or may be responsible for the murder of the Blue Blade. About half of the cast appear in this issue, with a particularly highlighted role for the Phantom Reporter (the series narrator) who has now resumed his costumed identity and is in pursuit of the party responsible for a string of grisly murders.

There is a really effective moment when he confronts whom he believes might be the most likely candidate (the outcome of which won't be seen until a later issue), but appearances can be deceiving and there are a couple of other clues in this issue that may cast some doubt upon this hero as the year-long mini-series winds down.

Captain Wonder also figures prominently this time out, as he is visited by his former sidekick, who has aged in real time while the Captain was in suspended animation, and who demands a restoration of his faded powers. The response that Tim receives from the Captain isn’t to his liking, and after the two former partners sadly bitter exchange, Captain Wonder is left with yet another added emotional wound.

Overall I felt like this issue moved the plot further along than the previous two had, but the pace remains morbidly slow and hopefully things will begin heating up as the final act approaches.

Note: You may not know this, but Joe Straczynski has already moved on to DC Comics despite several more issues of "The Twelve" that are in the can and he is preparing to tackle a reintroduction of the golden age MLJ heroes in his new writing gig on "The Brave and The Bold". I guess Marvel whetted his appetite for such fare.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Captain Codfish" from Punch and Judy Vol.1 #4 (Hillman)

"Captain Codfish" (cont.)

Here is a bonus page from the very same 1944 issue of Punch and Judy Comics (Vol.1 #4) that reveals the secret of "How To Make Your Own Puppets".

Monday, August 11, 2008

Remember the "New" Teen Titans: Jericho

Let's return to our remembering the cast of the 1980's New Teen Titans series by Wolfman & Perez, but patience grasshoppers, more golden age comics scans will be forthcoming. Jericho first appeared during the classic "The Judas Contract" storyline in Tales of the Teen Titans #42 (May 1984).

Joseph Wilson was the youngest son of Slade Wilson (a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator). As a child, he was held hostage by the Jackal, a terrorist who used Joseph in an attempt to blackmail his father. However, Deathstroke refused to provide the Jackal with the information that he wanted because it went against his professional code of ethics. Deathstroke managed to rescue his son, but not before one of Jackal's men started to cut his throat. As a result, Joseph was rendered mute.

As a result of that incident, Joseph's mother Adeline divorced Slade (after attempting to kill him, but she only succeeded in blinding him in one of his eyes), and took her two sons (Joseph and his older brother Grant) with her. At some point, Joseph learned to communicate through sign language in order to compensate for his lost voice.

His ability to take mental control of the motor responses of another human body, after making direct eye contact with them is a result of the biological experimentation done on his father years before, and this power originally appeared during his late teens when he tried to save his mother from an assassin. He has the power to take possession of any humanoid being he can make eye contact with. Once inside, Jericho takes possession of his target's voluntary motor functions for his own use but is unable to control the voice and mind of the target. In addition, if the host is unconscious while Jericho is in control, he can speak through the host's body--but only with that person's accent and vocabulary--and easily control the body physically. Jericho's body changes into an astral form a few seconds before possession. He sometimes uses the American Sign Language symbol for the letter "J" as a subtle signal to his allies that he has taken possession of a person.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

In Memorium: Jack Kamen

Famed golden age artist Jack Kamen passed away from causes related to cancer on August 5, 2008.

Kamen had worked as an illustrator for Western and detective pulp magazines when he was drafted into the Army in 1942. After World War II, he started drawing comic books for Fiction House and Iger Associates, eventually getting assignments from EC Comics to illustrate romance comics. He became one of the most prolific EC artists, drawing crime, horror, humor, suspense and science fiction stories, and was known for his drawings of pretty women.

Shown (right) is Kamen's cover illustration for Fox Comics Rulah Jungle Goddess #18 (Sept. 1948).