More MARS Patrol Frogmen at work

September 03, 11

MARS Patrol Comic Here’s the whole MARS Patrol team suited up for an underwater strike attack on the position held by the bald purple costumed aliens.

Check out the football shaped re-breathers popular in the 1960’s! I always especially admired the accuracy of the technical illustration for the MARS Patrol covers and the precise rendering of their suits and equipment.

I love the way the tanks and supply trucks are roving on the sand berms trying to get into position to defend.  Explosive bolts are fired by the MARS Patrol’s nuclear powered spearguns with a scattering of enemies consumed in the blast front and center.

The ever popular ascending pancake stack architecture, popular with aliens,  forms the only thing outside of the blast radius that we are allowed to see.

The frogmen of MARS Patrol are in command.

The Cotton Candy Blob

May 16, 11

There has been a devastating accident at the local ballpark.  An evil spirit has overtaken the cotton candy machine. It’s alive… growing… deadly.

Torrents of cotton candy absorb and assault the land.

State police are called immediately, but helplessly fire Thompson sub-machine guns at the out of control snack food.

One officer, already disgusted by the pink tidal madness, stands on the roof of his squad car shooting like he’s trying to put down a horse.

Another fires in the direction of his squad car’s headlights. There is only sugar and confusion.

Dinner at the Moreno Ranch

May 10, 11

The Morenos were enjoying a fantastic meal at their ranch in Cordoba, Argentina when aliens landed intent on ruining the homemade chimichangas.

Steaming hot bolts of light are fired randomly at the ranch house inhabitants.

These bolts end up burning the Elder Moreno as he runs to get a solitary street cop. An Irishman versus an armada of aliens.

Elder Moreno quickly surmises that the ancient lost cities in the unexplored jungles of South America have become breeding grounds for these visitors.  Specifically, the lost city of Lemuria is mentioned near the top of the suspicious regions list.

Chickens scatter and dogs howl while the chimichangas go cold.  The plants go unwatered and the goats commiserate in the moonlight.

Long Gone John’s Eugene the Jeep

May 04, 11

If there’s one thing collectors enjoy even more than their own collections, it’s something another collector has managed to obtain somehow on the sly.  Usually rare, and definitely interesting.

Sure, I have my Six Million Dollar Man pinball machine and my Count Chocula cels, but I don’t have Long Gone John’s Eugene the Jeep.

The Jeep was my second favorite character on Popeye after Wimpy.  Just look here how he holds that corner together.

I’ve never seen another one remotely like this one. Pops right out against the brilliant purple wall.  I’m sure it’s close to one of a kind.

The Land That Time Forgot – George Akimoto

April 28, 11

This one has it all.  Prehistory collides with oceanic terror.  Exploding volcanos on land, with a Manta Ray and T-Rex attacking a submarine fixing a glide over a Giant Octopus below. 

Power remains, the ship’s searchlight beams forward, but the control room is chaos with officers jarred to the floor by the Manta pulse blast.  Computers malfunction. Is oxygen starting to go out on the dive helmets? I love that we can see into the control room.  It adds everything.

Let’s not forget the story or the work of artist George Akimoto.  The spherical dive vehicle is tenuously attached to the submarine and has a singular robot arm front and center, the navigators are framed perfectly in a television screen cutout.

An Ape’s Thread in Time

April 25, 11

Long before the pop culture thread that runs straight to the Planet of the Apes, there was the War of the Giant Apes in Fantastic Adventures. 

Apes have always figured prominently as an expression of the uncontrollable, the unpredictable;  a large scale foe of great physical strength, limited mental power, and plenty of fur.

They obviously appear frequently in jungle and adventure comics and pulps, but they make suprising and frequent crossovers into the sci fi realm — often involving brain dissection, mind transfers, complete lobotomy, hypnosis, or mind control. 

This time around we have a flat bed truck hauling sophisticated mind manipulation machinery in the hope of ending the ape war.  The hapless scientist trying to control our giant ape has left his chair behind in an attempt to leap off the truck to safety.

Mess with a monkey’s alpha waves at  your own peril. 

Stunned to have his mind machine go wrong, we aren’t quite sure how the ape has come to wear the conductive helmet necessary to get him under control and stop tossing boulders the size of a Smart car.

We learn again that the hazards of mind control are endless.

The Pop Culture Value Step

April 24, 11

So much has been written about how to properly define the context for understanding pop culture.

Some argue endlessly about the impact and/or intersection of the high versus the low. This gets you into category trouble pretty fast. 

Others believe that the material that bubbles to the surface on the pop culture radar screen is now, or has always been, just a measure of an entity’s marketing success or savvy, and that the content itself is moving more and more towards the completely irrelevant. 

This is a version of the idea that anything can influence the pop mindset if it is broadcast continually and mirrors or helps to create the mood, motivation and values of the observer. 

If you market a cute purple worm as your icon, and people embrace the cute purple worm, then the cute purple worm is added to the collective pop vault and its story helps to start other stories for future pop offerings. Each character then becomes like a barnacle bed helping to form a foundation for the next offering. 

Values are embedded and expressed by each eras pop offerings. In fact, some would say the values are created by the offerings themselves.

Mad magazine was once considered subversive and even harmful, but now it mostly gets kudos for helping deflate the pompous and authoritarian across the past several decades. 

Did it create more values than it accepted, and is that the important difference? Put another way, to resonate and appeal do you have to create values?