Monday, April 25, 2016

Today is a "banner" day!!

Since I've got nothing else running at the moment, I thought that anyone who may not have seen these nifty banners promoting the upcoming film X-Men: Apocalypse would enjoy giving their eyeballs a sample.

Monday, April 4, 2016

SC Comicon 2016

On Saturday I attended the SC Comicon 2016 in Greenville, South Carolina, a new show on the map that is only in its third year, if I'm not mistaken. Given that this convention is held literally in my backyard, it was only my first time going to the show due to committments having tailgunned my participation the other times that it was held.
I was very surprised to see the massive turnout for the event and can only believe that Rob Young of Borderlands in Greenville somehow managed to find that elusive sweet spot on the annual calendar between other large cons in this area (Heroescon in Charlotte, NC and Dragoncon in Atlanta, GA) that appeals to a large contingent of fans between the more established events?
In addition to over a hundred guest artists including Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, George Perez and others, there were celebrity guests from fan favoritie films and TV series such as Aaron Douglas (Battlestar: Galactica), Sean Maher (Firefly), Helen Slater (Supergirl) and more. I picked up a handful of bronze age gems to fill holes in my collection. Chamber of Chills # 6 (Sept.1973); Dead of Night # 8 (Feb.1975); Jungle Action # 21 (May 1976); Luke Cage # 16 (Dec.1973); Marvel Premiere # 47 (Apr.1979); Thor #216 (Oct.1973); and two issues of Warlock #'s 4 & 6 (Feb/Jun.1973). In addition to those classic comics, I picked up almost a complete set of signed autograph cards previously issued by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund featuring Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Larry Marder, and many others within the industry.

I had a great time at this show and plan on making it a part of my yearly "must do's" so kudos to Borderlands and Rob Young for knocking this con out of the park.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review: Batman v Superman

In regards to Batman v Superman, there are tons of highly negative reviews which also still single out an aspect or two for deserving praise (mostly that Wonder Woman is really awesome and some that say Ben Affleck is a good new Batman). Both of the latter are correct, Gal Gadot is exceptional as WW and every precious minute that she is on screen you just want more of her. Thankfully her standalone film is currently in production for release next year! Ben Affleck, perhaps surprisingly, turns out to be a terrific choice to inherit the role of Batman and when his solo flicks come along (also with the great Jeremy Irons as Alfred), I will be more than glad to buy a ticket.

This film is really not very bad at all, general audiences are going to love it, however the sheer weight of the studio bypassing all those separate hero movies in order to quickly bring the Justice League together "Dawn of Justice" remember (as Marvel patiently did with their Avengers), means that this film lays all of that groundwork with one serious side effect as a result. The first half of the film seems over long and plodding; it simply takes its own time to get down to the real nitty gritty. However once it does and the trinity comes together, Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman, things hit their stride in a potent way. Those three classic characters together have as much heft as the entirety of the cinematic Marvel Universe. I’ve been surprised to read so much diverse and often derogatory stuff about the depiction of Superman in this sequel to Man of Steel? He comes off nearly nowhere as bad as some armchair critics are stating and I have to wonder whether most of those reviews were written prior to those critics having even seen the film? Rather in total, the Kal-El that we would all like seems to finally emerge to some degree over the course of the movie - at least to me. The collective media commentary of harsh criticism seems more like an intentional dog pile with everyone expected to just dive in, so let's just give most of those folks what they clearly want ("hey, you're all geniuses and the rest of the audience aren't as smart as you guys"); now the rest of us can move along, whatever.

I still believe that while Amy Adams plays her role quite well, she is sadly miscast and too old [at 41] to portray Lois Lane against Henry Cavill's Superman [he is 32], and it's less their age difference itself and more how they appear alongside one another; but again whatever. The depiction of Luthor did not sit well with me and I regret that the filmmakers chose this route as it is long past time to stop having Lex appear dopey and/or weird on-screen. The original character has been an alpha-male type for decades in the published source material comics, and that version would have been right at home in this movie? Alas. The huge Doomsday fight at the end of the film was fantastic; so in conclusion I say just forget those reviews and give this blockbuster film a chance to win you over!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1970's Flashback: The Tomb of Dracula

Tomb of Dracula #13 (Oct.1973)
In 1971, the Comics Code Authority finally relaxed some of its longstanding restrictions regarding horror comics, such as a virtual ban on vampires. After having recently tested the waters with a "quasi-vampire" character, Morbius, the Living Vampire within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Comics was now prepared to launch a new line of horror books. The Tomb of Dracula was published by Marvel Comics from April 1972 to August 1979. The acclaimed 70-issue series featured a group of vampire hunters who fought Count Dracula and other supernatural menaces. On rare occasions, Dracula would work with these vampire hunters against a common threat or battle other supernatural threats on his own, but more often than not, he was the antagonist rather than protagonist. In addition to his supernatural battles in this series, Marvel's Dracula often served as a super-villain to other characters in the Marvel Universe, battling the likes of Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, and the X-Men.

The series suffered from lack of direction for its first year but gained stability and hit its stride when writer/editor Marv Wolfman became scripter with the seventh issue. The entire run of The Tomb of Dracula was penciled by Gene Colan, with Tom Palmer inking all but #1, 2, and 8-11. Colan based the visual appearance of Marvel's Dracula not on any other familiar actor who had played the vampire on film, but rather on actor Jack Palance (who actually did later portray the Count in a televised production).

Monday, March 14, 2016

1980's Flashback: Groo the Wanderer

Groo #1 (Dec.1982)
Groo the Wanderer was one of the first widely successful creator-owned comics, one of the few successful humorous comic books in the United States during its time, and one of the longest-running collaborations in comic book history. Created, plotted and drawn by Sergio Aragon├ęs, written, co-plotted and edited by Mark Evanier, lettered by Stan Sakai and colored by Tom Luth. Over the years it has been issued by various publishers including Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics.

Groo first appeared in Destroyer Duck #1 (May 1982) as a parody of the brutal sword and sorcery heroes who were popular at the time of his creation in the 1970s. Groo is a large-nosed buffoon of unsurpassed stupidity who constantly misunderstands his surroundings. Possessed of superlative skills in swordsmanship (the only task at which he is remotely competent) he delights in combat but otherwise is a peaceable and honest fellow who tries to make his way through life as a mercenary or by working odd jobs. He is incredibly accident prone, and despite generally good intentions causes mass destruction wherever he goes. Most of his adventures end with him either oblivious to the mayhem he has wrought or fleeing an angry mob. His penchant for destruction has become so widely known that just the news of Groo approaching is sometimes enough to cause chaos among the population. Such is Groo's incompetence that so much as stepping onto a ship can cause it to sink.

Friday, March 11, 2016

In Memorium: Paul Ryan

Comic book artist Paul Ryan, who previously worked extensively for Marvel Comics and DC Comics on a number of super-hero comics passed away on March 7, 2016 at the age of sixty-six. Until his death, he had penciled and inked the daily comic strip The Phantom for King Features Syndicate off and on since 2005.

Ryan had a succesful career in engineering graphic design prior to his entry into comics while still in his early 30s. Some titles that his work appeared in include Fantastic Four, The Flash, The Avengers, various Superman series, Quasar, D.P. 7 and Iron Man. The Catacombs extends its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans.
(photo) Paul Ryan - inset- upper right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Things we lost in the fire ........

Try as I might over the last couple of years, it is often difficult to find the time to make posts here - no matter how much I would prefer to do so!

On February 6, 2016 a fire at my apartment building cost me my home. Oh, I didn't actually lose anything due to fire damage, but my residence was deemed unlivable due to smoke damage - and yeah, that was pretty bad. At this point, I've easily moved elsewhere and have had a professional company take my household furniture to treat and clean it for smoke damage before returning that stuff to me at my brand new domicile. I salvaged my extensive comic book collection and lifetimes worth of collectible ephemera and can breathe much easier than those who lost everything - whether it was insured or not. I'm just waiting for the final pieces to fall into place, so that I can truly relax.

I was awakened by the smell of smoke early on the morning of the 6th [a Saturday], quickly dressed and grabbed my pug and then simply walked out of my home. I spent the better part of an hour watching others carry out armfuls of clothes and personal effects, and some even took the time to pack suitcases? I have no idea why people act this way, as that rather impressive fire was burning away just a few doors down and the choking smoke that filled my entire two floor townhouse was present in theirs as well?

Needless to say, that although many pop culture news items merited my attention over the last couple of weeks, my time was devoted to a situation that uprooted my life. I feel for those who got it worse than I did, but I will rebound. Take care, one and all! I hope to see you back here in the short term.

Friday, January 15, 2016

In Memorium: Alan Rickman

Aclaimed on both stage and screen as an actor and director, the great Alan Rickman passed away yesterday at the age of 69 from cancer.
His acting career had eventually begun after his original success in the field of graphic design, and even then he first entered the acting profession as a dresser for Sir Ralph Richarson and Sir Nigel Hawthorne. His distinctive voice and mannerisms soon made him a standout in such films as Die Hard; Quigley Down Under; Truly, Madly, Deeply; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Sense and Sensibility; Michael Collins; Galaxy Quest; Love Actually and perhaps what will be viewed as his signature role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.

The Catacombs extends its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans. A sad loss of such a talented man!


Thursday, December 31, 2015

"Gal" Friday! Candice Night


The lovely Candice Night is an American vocalist/lyricist, multi-instrumentalist for the traditional folk/rock group Blackmore's Night alongside her husband, legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (Rainbow). After approaching Blackmore as a fan, the pair struck up a friendship over shared interests and then entered into their combined professional and personal partnership in 1997. Seven studio albums feature Night's distinctive vocals on a range of soft-rock and renaissance inspired songs.
I spent most of the post-Christmas period suffering from a rare head cold and turned to her music to while away the hours. I thought perhaps some of you might appreciate my early "gal" Friday post as a nice segue into New Years Eve. Have a great year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

"Gal" Friday! Meg Turney

For those times when a picture just says a thousand words; ......
and all of 'em are quite inadequate to the task!

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Gal" Friday! Jenna Coleman

It goes without saying that the BBC’s Doctor Who series is the longest running genre show on television, and although the series conveniently refreshes its cast by having the lead character periodically regenerate into whichever actor is currently cast as the Doctor, needless to say that is not a conceit that has been extended to the vast accumulation of popular companions to the dozen plus official Who’s.

Now, on the verge of the ninth season premiere, comes confirmation that Jenna Coleman will officially be leaving the role of companion Clara Oswald behind.  She has been part of the cast since 2012, one of the longest lasting companions. Both talented and lovely, there is little doubt that Ms. Coleman will continue to impress with her upcoming role as the young Queen Victoria in an ITV production. The Catacombs bids a fond if regretful adieu to Jenna/Clara (you were one of my all-time favorites). You will be sorely missed!

Monday, November 30, 2015

1980's Flashback: The Rocketeer

Pacific Presents #2 (Apr.1983)
The Rocketeer is a fictional character created by writer-illustrator Dave Stevens. The character first appeared as a backup feature in the Pacific Comics series Starslayer in 1982, and is an homage to Saturday matinee serial heroes of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

The Rocketeer was the secret identity of Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovered a mysterious jetpack that allowed him to fly. His adventures were set in Los Angeles and New York in 1938, and Stevens gave them a retro, nostalgic feel influenced by the King of the Rocket Men and Commando Cody movie serials (both from Republic Pictures), and pinup diva Bettie Page. The title also uses fictional pulp heroes of the period such as Doc Savage and The Shadow, plus real life horror film icon Rondo Hatton inspired one of the books notable villains.

Dave Stevens passed away in 2008 at the age of 52. I’m glad that I had a chance to meet him in person back in the early 1990s.