Friday, February 06, 2015

New Thunderbirds are Go! teaser shows off Tracy Island

A peek at the upcoming Thunderbirds TV show.

The world of Thunderbirds Are Go, Tracy Island, miniature sets and craft have been lovingly made by none other than WETA Workshop - the model makers behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and Avatar. The series music has been specially composed by Ben and Nick Foster, best known for their work on Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Vintage ad: Hires root beer

Pop culture roundup: Tintin; Louis Armstrong; Great Books 1965; Shout! streaming channel

The cover of "Tintin and the Shooting Star" by Hergé sold for $2.8 million at auction this week.


Lost recordings of Louis Armstrong, Diana Rigg and first "Doctor Who" William Hartnell appearing on BBC Radio's long-running "Desert Islands Discs" program have been recovered. The shows are available for streaming via the program's online archive.

Each episode of the show asks guests to name  eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item they would want on a desert isle. The show has been on the air since 1942.
"Louis Armstrong's appearance on Desert Island Discs is the next best thing to hanging out with the legendary trumpeter," said Ricky Riccardi, archivist for the museum.

"Armstrong's in a frisky, quick-witted mood throughout the broadcast, tells some of his favourite stories about his rough upbringing in New Orleans and spins some good music - namely because he chooses so much of his own!"

Armstrong's favourite piece was his own track, Blueberry Hill. He also chose to take his own autobiography, while his luxury item - predictably enough - was a trumpet.


Turns out 1965 (year of my birth!) was a great year for children's adventure stories. Here's a wide-spanning look, including everything from Lee-Kirby's Inhumans, Moomin, "Asterix and Cleopatra," "The Mad Scientists' Club," "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and more.


Shout! Factory, which turns out DVDs of cult classic movies and TV shows, along with an array of music documentary and concert videos has started a streaming TV station featuring free content.

It looks like the aim of the channel, which is available online and via Roku and other devices, is to promote the company's physical wares, but more than 1,000 hours of content is currently available for streaming with more reportedly on the way. Programming now available includes:
•     MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 (beginning with over 30 episodes)
•     HOME MOVIES animated comedy series
•     Gerry Anderson collection (hand-picked episodes from Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Fireball XL5, Joe 90, and Supercar)
•     Werner Herzog movie collection, featuring 16 acclaimed films and documentaries
•     Roger Corman’s Cult Classics (select movie titles)
•     The Marx Brother’s A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA
•     A ROOM WITH A VIEW (Oscar®-winning film by James Ivory)
•     DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Golden Globe® and Emmy® winning film by Volker Schlondorff)
•     HOOP DREAMS (A film by Steve James)
•     Award-winning films such as  THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (John Wayne), THE STUNT MAN (Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey), STAGECOACH (John Wayne), Bruce Beresford’s BREAKER MORANT (Jack Thompson),  THE RULING CLASS (Peter O’Toole)

Fab Fiday: Richard Avedon Beatles posters and display

More Beatles posts at The Glass Onion Beatles Journal.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Vintage pics: Brigitte Bardot

Pop stuff: Origins of the Inhumans; Aces High by George Evans; Paddington

What I'm reading, watching, hearing, etc.

"The Origin of the Inhumans" is a 420-page color paperback that collects the earliest appearances of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's outcast family of superhumans from the pages of Fantastic Four and Thor.

This is mid-1960s Marvel. Lee is at his most entertainingly hyperbolic, humorous and dramatic and Kirby is in full creative flight. There are great characters, situations and creations galore.

Not only do we meet the mute but mind-bogglingly powerful Black Bolt, his living-haired girlfriend Medusa, the time/space-shifting dog Lockjaw and the rest of the Inhumans, but we're also introduced to the alien Kree race, Johnny Storm's college pal Wyatt Wingfoot (an early, respectfully treated Native American character), Blastaar the Living Bomburst and more.

Like the X-Men or Spider-Man, the Inhumans are misunderstood outsiders - metaphors for teenagers. They live apart from society, hiding in their Great Refuge or, during much of this storyline, trapped in a barrier of negative energy. They yearn to break free to express their power, to experience what the world has to offer. The tension between staying hidden, because it's safer, and becoming part of the wider world gives the stories their drama.

Though not branded as one of Marvel's new "Epic Collections," this book follows the same model: All of the Inhumans storyline from the comics is collected. Sometimes that means only excerpts of FF issues appear. But it's a smooth read, standing on its own in this form as a lengthy graphic novel. The reproduction is excellent.

It's all a great ride, almost as if you're being transported inside the Inhumans' Magna Ship or on the Fantastic Four's Jet Cycle or Pogo Plane, or any of other cool Kirby-tech vehicles on display in these pages.

"Aces High: Illustrated by George Evans" is a recent volume in Fantagraphics' artist-focused collections of classic EC Comics. It's in hardcover with black and white art supplemented by biographical essays and looks great.

Evans isn't generally mentioned when folks are listing the usual gang of EC geniuses - Kurtzman, Wood, Davis, Severin, Ingels et. al., but he is a peer to these greats.

As the title of this collection suggests, Evans strong suit was planes, and he was brilliant at them. He could adventurously aviate and dogfight with the best of them - Noel Sickles, Alex Toth and the rest. And he was fairly prolific.

Most of the stories here are set during the first World War and Evans' depictions of biplanes in battle are cinematic. He had an amazing sense of perspective. Planes are often depicted from above, so we can see the ground far below. You really get a feeling of being thousands of feet up in the sky, twisting and turning away from machine gun fire.

In the EC mold, many of the stories feature ironic twists and O. Henry endings. The war stories, from the pages of Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales are balanced out by yarns from EC's crime and suspense comics. Not overly gory, as were the horror stories that got EC in so much trouble in the 1950s, these pieces are dark and grim, and also twisty, but more psychological in nature. Spouses plot against one another, criminals looking to live on Easy Street end wander into black alleys. There are no happy endings.

Though entertaining, the suspense entries aren't as captivating as the flight stories. Evans' art is expressive and dramatic, but he's not as good at this stuff as others at EC were. His figures can be a little stiff, the faces sometimes a little frozen. Up in the air, though, nobody from EC's stable could match him.

"Paddington." My wife and I have fond memories of reading the adventures of  Michael Bond's marmalade-loving Peruvian bear to our two kids, and they of hearing the stories. So, a couple weekends back, all four of us trekked out to see this new live-action adaptation.

Though the situations our bear faces on screen are far more perilous than those in the books, "Paddington" is quite successful in capturing the whimsical and lightly subversive tone of Bond's stories. I guess even in kids' movies these days, thing must be about life and death, and a story focusing on Paddington's visit the Portebello Market with Mr. Gruber just wouldn't cut it. Oh well, the gist of things on screen remains mostly the same.

As in the books, Paddington is cute, cuddly, gentle tornado -- basically a fuzzy toddler who's always getting into one sort of inadvertent mischief or another, damaging all sorts of property along the way. You don't want to let him take a bath in your house. But you can't hate him the problems he creates. He's just too sweet. Just like that marmalade he's trailed all across the carpet.

Fortunately, the Brown family manages to tolerate it all - to varying degrees. Hugh Bonneville, who also heads up the household on "Downton Abbey," shows great comic chops as Mr. Brown, an uptight, stiff-upper-lip type who'd just as soon leave Paddington at the railway station he's named after. But Mrs. Brown, delightfully played by Sally Hawkins, is a bright-eyed eccentric who  thinks having a bear in the house just might be what the family needs. And, as you might expect, she's right. The kids come out of their shells and mature in healthy ways, Mr. Brown relaxes a bit and Paddington finds a loving new home.

Of course, before any of this happens, the Browns must rescue their new friend from the clutches of a Cruella De Vil stand-in played by Nicole Kidman who wants to stuff Paddington and stick him in the Natural History Museum. Kidman has fun with the part, as unimaginative as it is, and she's entertainingly aided and abetted by current "Doctor Who" Peter Capaldi, the Brown's cheap and snoopy neighbor. Julie Walters is also fun as the Brown's no-nonsense, unflappable housekeeper, Mrs. Bird.

It's a great cast and a pretty good movie - one of the better modern children's films I've seen in a while. There's a theme that runs gently throughout - celebrating differences and the contributions of immigrants - which is a nice message for our times, too.

Vintage pic: Dick Van Dyke and Janet Leigh

From "Bye, Bye Birdie," I think.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Daredevil: First full trailer for Netflix show

Vintage ad: Have a Coke

New comics Feb. 4, 2015: Elfquest; Spider-Man; Archie

Collected editions of note out this week. Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

The Complete Elfquest Volume 2
Over thirty-five years after its launch, ElfQuest remains one of the most beloved comic series in history! The elves have reclaimed the Palace of the High Ones, but it is not the safe haven they believed. New threats loom as Winnowill, lord of Blue Mountain, vows to destroy all trace of the Wolfriders, and Cutter's rival Rayek is overcome with power.
This second volume boasts 552 pages, collecting the entirety of The Siege at Blue Mountain and Kings of the Broken Wheel in stunning black and white, including an extensive art gallery with commentary from series creators Wendy and Richard Pini

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 (New Printing)
In 1962, in the pages of a comic book slated for cancellation, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave birth to one of the most enduring icons in American popular culture - the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! Turning the concept of a super hero on its head, they imbued the young, guilt-ridden Peter Parker with the fantastic powers of an arachnid and the unbearable pressures of an everyday teenager...and the combination was pure magic! So come experience Spidey's adventures from the very beginning - including the first appearances of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, Dr. Octopus, the Sandman, the Vulture, Electro and more!
COLLECTING: Amazing Fantasy 15, Amazing Spider-Man 1-10

Archie's Favorite Comics from the Vault
Celebrate 75 years of Archie Comics with this treasure trove of great RARE stories! Features over 400 pages of VINTAGE comics from Archie’s VAULT!
The ARCHIE’S FAVORITE COMICS series gathers some of the most beloved COMIC BOOK stories ever for fans of all ages!
ARCHIE’S FAVORITE COMICS FROM THE VAULT collects excellent, RARE full-color Archie stories! The stories included in this volume were hand-selected from a VAST ARCHIVE of VINTAGE comics and feature special behind-the-scenes anecdotes. This is a must-have for all Archie and comic book fans everywhere!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

On the way: Adam West action figure

Info here.

New pics from Avengers: Age of Ultron

Teaser for upcoming "Daredevil" series from Marvel

Jack Kirby original art for Captain America button

New music Feb. 3, 2015: Bob Dylan; John Carpenter; The Church; T-Rex; Soft Machine; Elton John; Tony Joe White, more

Click the links to order discounted CDs, vinyl and downloads from Amazon.

Shadows In The Night by Bob Dylan