Sunday, April 22, 2018

Contemporary Arts

This weekend is the end of the COMIX OK exhibit at the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center and they are celebrating with their very own comic convention.  ContempCon features the artists behind the comic book work that his been on display at the studio for the last two weeks.
Artist Johnnie Diacon speaking with a fan

I was able to attend yesterday to meet some of the artist, shoot some video and get some interviews for an upcoming project. Both the exhibit and the con highlighted the diverse types of art and artists that call the Sooner State home and featured how the comic book medium can include many different types of content.
 Interviewing Tulsa artist Melanie Gillman

The event included panels, demos, workshops, vendors, a cosplay fashion show and just about anything you could want from a comic convention but with a local focus.  Oklahoma has had (and continues to have) a large amount of comic book creators and cartoonists and it's about time they get their due.
Green Lantern from Tulsa's DC Marvel League cosplay group

The exhibit and the con are over this weekend but there will be plenty of chances to check out Oklahoma comic creators throughout the year.  I'm going to try to hit as many of those types of events as I can so stay tuned...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Got Time For a Quik Story?


About a Boy  - -  Bad Breath  - -  Fish Story  - -  Flash Fried  - -  Next Fry Day

 Some team-ups are inevitable.   They just seem like a perfectly natural pairing that the universe itself could not slow down the natural synergy between a like minded pair.  But some team-ups...are a little more head scratchingly arbitrary.  They may not seem like a natural fit and yet great things are accomplished.  This brings us to the 1987 comic book "Superman Meets the Quik Bunny"!

The story begins with a quick tease of Superman running afoul of a member of the Flash's rogue's gallery.  The Weather Wizard is using his magic weather wand to make things go straight up bonkers in Metropolis.

Meanwhile, we get a "quik" introduction to the members of the "Quik Qlub" as they finish building their tree house while the Quik Bunny supervises.

Of course they celebrate with a round of chocolate milks and in the process we get a good look inside the tree house they built.  It seems to have a surprising amount of sophisticated computer equipment.  But before we can wonder how or why, we get a quik expedited introduction of each of the Qlub members and their specialties:

Seems like some or all of this information might become relevant at some point.  You may notice in the back of that panel that Superman is on the news on their high tech homemade tree house entertainment system.

Well, the gang sees the trouble going on in Metropolis and decided that four kids and a chocolate craving rabbit were exactly what the situation needed.  So they unleashed the first of many of the secrets they built into their tree house:

Yes, the tree house these kids just built is also a helicopter.  It's almost enough to make you forget about the talking bunny...and possibly Superman.  But the Man of Steel, the Quik Bunny and the Quik Qlub kids finally all converge in Metropolis in time for the kids to assume they saved Superman and for Superman to tell them that they didn't.

One of the aspects of the comic is puzzles and brain teasers that pop up every couple of pages.  They're a part of the story and are meant for the reader as well as the Qlub kids to solve.  The answers are typically the location for where the Weather Wizard has gone.  That's why one of the kids is so cocky to Supes in the last panel.

Each puzzle plays into one of the aforementioned strengths/interests of the club members so even if the reader isn't able (or willing) to decipher the clues, the Chocolate Milk Brigade will take care of it.  And that's how they found out the Weather Wizard next target was...

This comic is surprisingly long with multiple altercations in multiple locations.  To save time let's just say they face both puzzles and the Weather Wizard in Washington D.C. and at the pyramids of Egypt before having a final confrontation at the Great Wall of China.  (Also the Qlub House turned into a blimp and boat and all kinds of other stuff.)

In addition to being able to change into various vehicles and containing state of the art computer equipment, the Quik Qlub tree house also has the ability to manufacture a facsimile of the Quik Bunny to use as a decoy to trick weather controlling villains.

And it's just that easy.  After the clean up and dropping off the Weather Wizard at the local loony bin, the only thing left to do is enjoy some of that sweet, sweet Nestle Quik flavored chocolate milk.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Easter Egg Basket #4 - Gremlins Reading Material


I don't have a whole lot of free time to indulge in nostalgic re-viewings of the classics but luckily I found some time over the holidays.  Since I was choking on Christmas cheer, I decided to keep that vibe going by tuning into a true holiday classic: Gremlins!

I don't think I had seen the movie for decades and I had all but forgotten about the Christmas theme but once I started it, it was undeniable.  Everyone talks about Die Hard and Batman Returns as their go-to holiday escapism but Gremlins should be at the top of that list.

Christmas cheer notwithstanding, what really grabbed my attention were a few quick cameos of some classic comic book issues.  Which brings me to our topic today.  Just for funsies, let's see what the actual issues were that made an appearance.

The comics show up in the scene where that nitwit Corey Feldman spills water on Gizmo and the 'multiplying" begins.  As the fur balls start to pop, they land on Billy's comics and the Conan issue was the first to catch my eye.  Here it is in all its glory:

From Marvel, Conan the Barbarian Vol 1 #150 tells the story of the "Tower of Flame" which involves Conan protecting a strange woman who then goes through a bizarre transformation to reveal her true self.  I'd like to think they picked this issue for that theme...but who knows?

Apparently Billy doesn't play favorites with the "Big Two" because the next issue is from DC.  House of Mystery Vol 1 #320 is also in mix while Gizmo screams in pain.

I can't find too many details on the story "Death, Come Rescue Me" featured in the issue but according to the DC Wiki the main character ends up "as a slave on a Chinese junk [sic] where no one ever dies".  A Chinese junk what?  Well, Gremlins starts with a scene in a Chinese "junk" store (kind of) so maybe that's why this one got picked for the set.

Gizmo's mot done with his infarction but before the town gets overrun with murderous monsters we've got one more comic to check out: All-Star Squadron Vol 1 #16.

Don't ask me why this one made the cut. "The Magnetic Marauder!" is essentially a team-up between the Squadron and Wonder Woman against Percival Plazchek a.k.a. Nuclear, the Magnetic Marauder.  So maybe they did just grab an arbitrary stack of comics for the scene.    

But regardless of any intentional or accidental themes, it's always great to see old school comics show up in old school movies.  Keep your eyes open, you never know what you're gonna see next.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

My Spidey Sense is Jingling


Over on one of my other blogs (Texas Pop Culture), I like to look back to when our favorite comic book superheroes visited my home state of Texas to punch, fly, swing and smash their way across familiar landmarks in the search for justice.  With the holidays fast approaching, I thought the most recent issue I looked at would be nice to feature here as well so let's take a trip back to 1983 to when our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man spent "Christmas in Dallas"!

This one was another freebie from the Dallas Times Herald and the once great newspaper gets a cameo on the first page by setting the scene and kicking off the story.  A mysterious and sinister set of hands peruse the news of the day in a conspicuously evil manner...

This issue is a sort of sequel or follow-up to a previous story where Spider-Man teamed up with the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas millionaire Stanley Mudge.  On this particular yuletide season, Mudge is throwing a party to raise money for orphans and wanted to treat his old pals J. Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker to the festivities.  He and his son Mark (also from the previous story) even show up to the airport to greet the traveling New Yorkers.

Don't forget about that anti-gravity might be relevant down the line.  So while the gang heads back Mudge's ranch, those sinister hands from the first page reveal that they belong to none other than the Kingpin!  The sinister crime boss frequently finds himself to be Daredevil's perennial punching bag in Hell's Kitchen but he's come to Texas to pick on someone his own size:

What?!?  He cold cocks Santa?!?  Now that's how you establish evil intent from an antagonist.  Although there is the possibility that the unconscious Kris Kringle is just a Santa impersonator.  The story never really makes it clear.  But what is clear is that he was on his way to the Charity Ball and that the Kingpin (who has been steadily climbing up the rankings on the naughty list for many years now) will be taking his place...and it won't be to spread holiday cheer.

Well things go pretty much how you'd expect them to go.  The Kingpin attacks.  His henchman take hostages.  But before the rich party goers were able to be ransomed off, Spidey swings into action!  Even Mudge pitches in with the help of the new version of his anti-gravity invention (remember that thing from before?).

Looks like the Christmas party can resume.  Alls well that ends well: J. Jonah gets flummoxed, Peter gets a free ride home in Mudge's private jet to spend Christmas with his aunt and, I assume, a lot of money was raised at that charity ball for the orphans and whatnot (remember that thing from before?).

While it was a fun adventure, I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one.  Dallas (and by default, all of Texas) was really only a part of the story in name only.  Not even a quick skyline panel.  But at the time it was free so I can't really be too hard on it.  And in the spirit of the holiday season I'll leave you with a present...the Spider-Man Christmas Tree Word Hunt that was toward the back of the book!  Happy hunting! 

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.