Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
A long time ago, in a galaxy.... Whoops!! Wrong lead in. Anyway, a while back (actually it was April 2010) in one of my very early blog entries I featured the MLJ character the Shield and mentioned he had a kid sidekick named Dusty, about which I would write more later. I had intended to feature Dusty when I was doing the kid sidekick stream but got off on another tangent - surprise, surprise - so, true to my word, although long past when it might have been reasonably expected, I've decided to finally feature Dusty, Boy Detective and another MLJ sidekick, Roy, the Superboy or also Wonder Boy. Dusty became Shield's sidekick when his father was killed by saboteurs who blew up the factory he was working in. Shield pursued the saboteurs and Dusty went after them as well, helping the superhero to coral the bad guys. Then, after the battle was over we're confronted with the classic Golden Age comic book conundrum - what to do with the orphan kid. Of course the Shield takes the plucky boy on as his sidekick. Roy was also an orphan who, as a shoeshine boy, was discovered by the MLJ superhero the Wizard, who subsequently trained the kid to be his sidekick. The two kids, who obviously didn't get enough bad guy butt kicking with their mentors, would also team up as the Boy Buddies and kick even more baddie butt together. As for the action figures, Dusty was made from a Star Wars General Madine body which I cleaned up a little bit and then sculpted the tops of the boots. The head was from a Voltron figure (I think), but I don't remember which one, with the round ear pieces stamped out from plastic sheet. The Roy figure started with a CHIPS bad guy figure called Jimmy Squeaks and then I used the head from the Lost in Space Will Robinson movie figure head.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Yesterday a friend and I visited Philadelphia and saw the Cleopatra exhibit at the Franklin Institute (museum) and then toured USS Olympia (white cruiser) and USS Becuna (black submarine) at Penns Landing. For those who have an interest in Egyptian history and art I would highly recommend the Cleopatra exhibit. As for the Olympia, it is a potentially sad tale. The Olympia was Commodore Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 during the Spanish American War. That war was the coming out of the United States on the world stage and set the pattern for our emergence as a great power during the next century and beyond. Olympia represents that war and that turning point in U.S. history. However, it is threatened by the twin scourges of disinterest and neglect by the American public. It badly requires a major overhaul to the tune of $30 million, otherwise it may be necessary to dispose of the great ship. It may even be towed out to sea and sunk as an artificial reef. I am saddened by that possibility and hope it does not come to pass. I wanted to be sure that I strode her decks before such a fate might catch up with her. Looking at the fine paneling that makes the ship's interior look more like a yacht than a warship and walking the berthing and working spaces where hundreds of seamen had lived and labored was a joy to an old sailor like myself. She is the oldest steel warship still in existence in the world. I would really hate to see this symbol of America's heritage meet such an ignominious fate as being scuttled as a home for the fishes.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Blue Bolt has the distinction of being the first comic book character that was collaborated upon by the team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, one of the most celebrated pairings of the Golden Age of Comics. Blue Bolt was created in 1940 by Novelty Press - the comic book subsidiary of Curtis Publishing, which was responsible for the Saturday Evening Post. He began life as football star Fred Parrish, who crash lands so hard that he burrows into an underground world. He's nursed back to health by Dr. Bertoff, who treats him with radium which - as is typical in the world of comics - rather than killing him, bestows great powers on the young man, now known as Blue Bolt. But the underground world - like the one above - is at war and the forces of Dr. Bertoff are under attack by the Green Sorceress and her Green Army. Blue Bolt of course thwarts her at every turn, and a strange love-hate relationship develops between them over time a little like the relationship that emerged between Batman and the Catwoman in later years. Eventually the stories moved above ground, the Green Sorceress even taking up with Hitler at one point, and Fred's brother Kit appearing as an American pilot flying for the RAF. By issue 27 Blue Bolt disappears from the pages of his own magazine, which continues on with adventure and horror stories for a while until the book and Novelty Press fade into comic oblivion. The character of Blue Bolt was revived by Dynamite Comics for their Project Superheroes. As for the action figures, Blue Bolt was made using the body from a Toy Biz Daredevil and the head from a Kenner Jurassic Park Muldoon figure. I sculpted the helmet from epoxy putty and the little top-knot was made from card stock. The holster at his belt was also from the Muldoon figure. As for the Green Sorceress - she was made using a Toy Biz Dagger figure which I repainted appropriately as she is on the cover of the magazine in the background. I should point out in most of the adventures she wears a mostly dark green outfit, but I rather liked the contrast of the red and used that instead. Call it artistic license.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I went on a rant yesterday so I thought I'd do something a little lighter today. Now I admit that I've seen all of the Star Wars movies and have enjoyed them to greater and lesser degrees. But I never cease to be amazed at who the people are behind some of the costumes and makeup. Case in point is the young lady I'm highlighting today. The Jedi Master Shaak Ti appeared in Episodes 2 (Attack of the Clones) and 3 (Revenge of the Sith) - if you look at the extras part of the DVD you can watch her being knocked off. I had no idea what she looked like under all that makeup and then - low and behold - I actually met her at the Motor City Comic Con in May 2004. Turns out the person beneath the mask was Orli Shoshan, a drop-dead-gorgeous young lady born and raised in Israel, who served in the Israeli army for a couple of years and then worked security for the airline El-Al in Chicago. Apparently very tough and adventurous she then went on a motorcycling tour of India and Thailand. In 1997 she moved to Australia where she pursued a modeling/acting career. In 2002 she started her own fashion line named - ironically enough - Orli, which marketed fashionable, comfortable, up-market sports and street wear. In 2005 she was modeling in Japan and in 2006 studied acting at "The Studio" acting school in Israel. She got married in 2008 and in 2009 had a baby daughter named Mikela, the family now settled in Chicago. It was very nice meeting her and placing a "face behind the mask," and I personally wish her all the best in all of her future endeavors.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I hadn't planned to do this but I've become a bit emotionally aroused by some recent events and I'm going on a little rant, so please bear with me. Today, of course, is the ninth anniversary of 9/11. Make no mistake, I lost friends in the Pentagon and had friends who survived that terrible day, some of whom were permanently scarred, emotionally if not physically. In recent days and weeks the media has been abuzz with stories of the mosque people don't want built near Ground Zero and this preacher who wants to burn the Koran and how the Moslim world is rising up in reaction. The Moslim world can't even understand why the U.S. government doesn't just step in and prevent the burning because they don't appreciate that we live in a country where such expressions are protected under our (secular) constitution. In my life-time I've seen the Vietnam War and how that tore the country apart. I've witnessed the various foreign entanglements we've gotten involved in around the world, including Beirut, Panama, Grenada, two campaigns in Iraq and one in Afganistan. I had hoped that the internet and this shrinking world of ours would have brought people together and let them see how others we share this world with live and think but that doesn't seem to be the case. Better communications have only served to spread the hate even faster around the globe. We are talking AT each other and not TO one another. Mostly what I hear as we observe this anniversary of 9/11 and in the run-up to the mid-term elections is a voice of hate and fear and loathing. It's become a world of us and them with only a lonely sentinal left to survey the aftermath and ask why we can't listen and learn.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Today another character from Fiction House, but not a jungle character this time. Super-American was a bona fide superhero, appearing in the pages of Fight Comics beginning with issue 15. In that first story a genius inventor from the 20th Century, Allan Bruce, creates his Chronopticon, which can see into the future and communicate with people living there. He finds the America of the 23rd Century filled with vibrant, super-powered men of action (apparently they didn't go all flabby and lazy like they are today) and appeals to them for an army of heroes to counter the threat of totalitarianism. They agree to send along one guy, who's given an appropriate super-hero suit and sent into the past to uphold the American ideals of peace, honor and freedom. In the story America is being invaded, the president has been taken hostage and congress is about to be lined up against the wall and shot (sounds like a tea party rally to me). Of course the Super-American saves the day, and the president, and brings down the forces of evil. Super-American had most of the powers of Superman, including flight, invulnerability and super strength. He did not have staying power, however, lasting only four issues before disappearing into comic limbo. He was, more recently, revived by Dynamite for their Project Superpowers story-line. The action figure was made using a Hasbro JLA Atom figure and the head from Toy Biz X-Cutioner figure. The stars on the cape I found in a party store as confetti or something and glued each one on individually after I had cut the cape to fit. The wings on the side of his helmet were made from sheet plastic or card stock.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I had already presented a couple of Fiction House characters - Sheena and Tabu, both jungle characters - so today I thought I would present a superhero from the same publisher. This one is also a jungle character but at least he's dressed for the part of a superhero. Red Panther appears in issues 2-26 of Jungle Comics. initially in sort of fur shorts and a cowl, but later he adopted more traditional superhero garb. He was an un-named person who decided to right the wrongs in the jungle with nothing but his fists and a bow and arrows to help him. Interestingly enough he didn't seem to have a quiver of arrows or a bow in hand but they just sort of appeared when he needed them. He went through several variations of costume, including yellow gloves and boots and blue gloves and boots, but this particular version is from the one story I have (Jungle Comics #15, March 1941) so I preferred to configure the character accordingly. I am aware of no attempts to revive this character in later years. In the first issue of Jungle Comics there was a character named White Panther and some commentators have commentated that Red Panther was a follow-on of the white one - however, there doesn't seem to be anything that clearly connects the two story-wise and the connection may just be an attempt to connect dots where no connection exists. Anyone who reads this and has any insight is welcome to chime in. The action figure was made using parts from three Toy Biz figures - the body and legs from a Daredevil, the arms from a Captain America and the head from a Professor X.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Yesterday I ran a scantily clad jungle girl so before I had any complaints of favoritism from my female readers I thought today I'd run a scantily clad jungle male. No one can accuse me of not catering to my constituency. At any rate, Tabu is also from Fiction House, as was Sheena yesterday. While most people may never have heard of him, Tabu had a pretty good run, appearing in Jungle Comics 1-41, 43-56, 58-117, 119-139 and 141 as well as Taanga Comics No. 9. Out of all these stories I've only seen a few. Apparently he starts out as a jungle boy but matures pretty quickly. He is advertised as the Jungle Wizard, granted certain powers by a jungle witch doctor who's life he saved. Basically he has a sixth sense that enables him to excel over all the animals of the jungle - faster than an antelope, able to climb trees better than an ape, stalk more swiftly and quietly than a panther, leap higher than a leopard, soar higher than an eagle and swim better than a shark (although I'm not sure how many sharks there are in the jungle). In one of the stories I have read he can even Jumps on the back of a leopard and then they fly through the air like Bellerophon riding Pegasus. He also splits himself into three Tabus to beat up on the bad guys. Then he shrinks the bad princess' castle so he can show her his power. In another story he can also transform himself into various creatures. No wonder they call him the jungle wizard! In some of Tabu's stories he's a blond and sometimes he's a brunette - I sort of liked the dark hair better so that's the "look" I went with. For this action figure I used the body from a Toy Biz Savage Land Ka-Zar and the head from a Hasbro JLA Superman.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Today I feature one of the all-time original super heroines - one who established an entire genre of comics during the Golden Age - Sheena, Queen of the Jungle! Initially created by the Eisner-Iger Studio in New York, Sheena first appeared in a British tabloid called Wags in 1937, predating even Superman, Batman and certainly Wonder Woman. By 1938 she was back in the U.S., packaged into the new comic book medium and presented in the first edition of Jumbo Comics from Fiction House, a publisher renowned for its jungle comics. Sheena went through a couple of origins (either the daughter of an explorer father or missionary parents), she also had a changing supporting cast over time. It didn't really matter - the only thing that mattered was Sheena. Conceived as a female version of Tarzan with elements of H. Rider Haggard's "She" - hence the name - she became the prototype of all the fair skinned jungle princesses who followed her, throughout the Golden Age and continuing through today. She got her own title in 1942, the first female character to do so, successfully running through 1953 (Fiction House stopped publishing comics in 1954). She was converted into a TV character in 1955-56 with Irish McCalla in the title role, then a movie character in 1984 starring Tanya Roberts, and back to TV in a short-lived series with Gena Lee Nolan cast as the jungle queen in 2000. There have also been a couple of other comic adaptations as well and I suspect the various media are not finished with the character yet. The action figure presented here today was made using a Savage Land Storm figure and the head from an Invisible Woman, both from Toy Biz. And don't even ask how that upper part of her costume was suppose to stay together with her swinging through the trees - I don't even want to go there.