1.27.2012

Circa 1975 - The Fantastic Four Radio Show



Before reaching adolescence, the age when I 'mutated' into something of an X-Men fanatic, I was a fierce fan of the Fantastic Four. In addition to their monthly comic book exploits, the FF had a Saturday morning cartoon that I used to like to watch–despite a really annoying half-sized robot named Herbie who served in place of The Human Torch. (Were the show's producers really concerned that some dumb kid would drench himself in lighter fluid and strike a match in imitation of Johnny Storm?)

Well, I didn't know it back then, but in addition to the print and TV adventures of the Fantastic Four, co-creator "Smiling" Stan Lee had also made a considerable effort to bring Marvel's first family to kid's radio programming. His little known 1975 production of The Fantastic Four Radio Show featured the nearly word-for-word adaptations of some of the Fantastic Four's first adventures, with narration by Lee himself,

In addition to the voice of Stan Lee, also featured in the production were the voices of Bill Murray (yup, that Bill Murray) as the Human Torch, Cynthia Adler as the Invisible Girl, Bob Maxwell as Mr. Fantastic and Jim Pappas as the Thing. A few of the heroes, and villains, who appeared in these audio adaptations were Namor the Sub-Mariner, Ant-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Moleman and Dr. Viktor Von Doom.

Oh...and speaking of Doctor Doom. Hardcore fans of rap artist MF Doom may recognize at least one segment that was sampled from one of the episodes that bears the metal faced super-villain's name.

Apparently, less than a dozen episodes were produced before the plug on the show was pulled due to anemic ratings. Having been largely forgotten about in the interim years, the copyright protections have lapsed, and these lost bronze age productions are now in the public domain. That's right, true believers, you can own 'em for the pulse-pounding price of free-ninety-nine.

It was well over a year ago that I found the ten known episodes over at archive.org, but I didn't get around to actually playing 'em until recently. After giving 'em all a thorough listen, and because it felt like the naturally nerdy thing to do, I scanned the covers of two 1970s FF comics and banged out a retro-ish 'album cover' for a proper presentation in iTunes (or whichever digital player you use).

Submitted for your approval, The Fantastic Four Radio Show.

Click here to download.
Click here to sample.

1.24.2012

Thanks, Zine World



My previous January posting related to the most recent reviews of KFG zines in Zine World #30.5 (Nov 2011) has been deleted in favor of this revised post. The supplement edition of ZW that came out in the fall actually contains three reviews of my publications (well, four...technically), and it seemed like a good idea to go ahead and share 'em all. I'm not even certain as to why, but last time around I only shared Clint's review, even though the one written by e.war preceded it. The third review, I should point out, caught me unawares.

Since Zine World posts their critiques in alphabetical order, I'm just gonna come right out and confess that I flicked through to the page where publications starting with the letter K could be found and absorbed the reviews of KFG 4 & 5. After that, I flicked back to page one and began reading the reviews of all the other publications. A little more than midway through my reading, I got a jolt from the unexpected realization that an additional review of Octopussy #1 was also contained.

Since publishing the aforementioned, I've been curious as to whether it's as accessible to chicks as it seems to be for dudes. I say this because the majority of orders (and perspectives) have come from guys, including a few from love-starved fucks behind bars. Well, one of my ex's started blowin' up my Facebook after she got her eyes on a copy, and I did take that as a positive sign (haha). But the review of Octopussy turned in by P5! offers a feminine perspective that has snugly tucked my curiosity into bed with a smile on its face.

Thanks, Zine World

–––––

Kung Fu Grip! #4
Historical writings personal and otherwise, touching story about a dying father. A very interesting article titled "Black East" about dark-skinned or even African-looking Phillipinos. Paco discusses [human] origins frankly and with good foundations. Retro ads are splashed throughout, appealing to the kung-fu afro in you.
– e.war

Kung Fu Grip! #4 and #5
Perhaps it's unfair to hand me these, since I gave #3 such a glowing review last time. But I have them and that's that; I have no choice! Everything I said last time about the marvelous mix of pop-culture obsessions and storytelling remains true. Issue #4 includes the moving "A Year to Say Goodbye," Paco's account of his father's passing. Issue #5, twice as big, features an extensive survey of sticker art and a terrific, in-depth feature on Shiro, one of the few high-profile female graffiti artists, including lots of flicks of her work. Money and time well spent here.
– Clint

Kung Fu Grip! Special #1: Octopussy
This zine has a sexy look that immediately draws you in! An intriguing mix of hot girls, octopi, stripper haikus with great accompanying footwear photos, a smutty graffiti gallery, the (incredibly inspiring) art of Katsushika Hokusai (I love that centerfold!), pictures from India's Kama Sutra temple, and more! This zine is original and beautiful. Recommended!
– P5!

1.07.2012

Who in blue blazes is the Golden Blaze?!?!


Last summer I posted the soul-shocking "Crisis in Electric Ladyland" editorial here on the YKFS blog. That particular piece – many of you may recall – was a playful criticism of the double-digit number of African-American super-powered characters whose names and/or powers are redundantly related to electricity. (Those of you who missed out on that electrifying read can find it here.)

Well, despite my encyclopedic knowledge and my additional research into the subject, I was recently hit with the jaw-jolting realization that there is yet another name that could have been included on that already too-long list of ten. Our shocking eleventh addition to the list comes to us from of the 2005 animated film The Golden Blaze.

While doing some last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve, I chanced upon a copy of The Golden Blaze at the local Big Lots store. Prior to that unexpected encounter, I had never heard a single whisper about the film's existence. And despite the $3 bargain price, I could NOT bring myself to add it to the handful of cheap DVDs that I was already carrying. Not even in the endless pursuit of editorial purpose.

Suffice it to say that I was probably more annoyed than curious about the until-then-unheard-of super guy garbed in the regurgitated color scheme of navy blue and gold (à la Black Lightning, Black Vulcan, Static), with an obligatory lightning bolt insignia on his chest. How in the God of Thunder's name could there be another friggin' character like this?, I wondered as I eyed the cover in a mild state of shock and awe.

Quickly adding to my dismay was an iconic movie studio logo that I spotted on the back of the DVD, revealing that Warner Brothers – of all movie studios – was the film's distributor. Hadn't the WB already cornered the friggin' market on electro-powered minorities? Could having characters such as Static Shock, Soul Power, Sparky and Juice in its big corporate toy box somehow not have been enough? I mean...really?

With my eyes rolling towards the white stucco ceiling, I put the movie back in the DVD bin and made way for the checkout counter. I was determined to learn the Golden Blaze's story not by watching the movie, but by reading about it on the interwebs later that night–or sometime after the holiday. Three nights later, I went ahead did my due diligence. What I learned online that evening sent me back to Big Lots the next day.

The Golden Blaze is a kid-friendly feature that boasts the voice acting talents of Blair Underwood (Gattaca, Deep Impact), Michael Clarke Duncan (Daredevil, Sin City), Sanaa Latham (Blade, Alien vs. Predator), and Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along). This G-rated flick is so friggin' kid friendly that it was awarded the Children’s Jury Award for Best Animated Feature at the 2005 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.

And so, an hour after my aforementioned shopping excursion, I clicked off the lights, plopped down on the couch, and gave The Golden Blaze 90-minutes of my undivided attention. And – in full spite of that well-worded complaint against with the redundancy of the electricity theme and black super-powered characters – I was quickly disarmed by the film's faithful and amusing approach to caped crusader mythos and comic book culture.

Like many schoolboys his age, Jason Fletcher (voiced by Khleo Thomas) gets bullied by a kid five times his size and daydreams about having the power of his hero, Golden Blaze. In a kooky twist of fate, Jason's dad, the bumbling scientist Mr. Fletcher (Underwood), gets caught up in a scientific demonstration gone-awry and gains the abilities of the Golden Blaze. But the accident also has a similar effect on his megalomaniacal ex-boss (Duncan), transmogrifying him into Golden Blaze's arch-nemesis, Quake.

With the exception of M. Knight Shyamalan's Unbreakable, which The Golden Blaze brings to mind for me in subtle ways, I really can't think of another motion picture that so earnestly manages to pay homage to comic book concepts–and does so from both sides of the multi-paneled page; from the sloppy comic book shop owner with less-than-zero customer service skills to the Green Lantern-like mantra "Let the light of truth show the wayyyy!," this animated feature doesn't miss a beat.

Now, this isn't to say that The Golden Blaze is a flawless production, because it's not. Directed by Bryon E. Carson (by way of Flash computer animation), it's somewhat apparent that the filmmaker was ballin' on a budget. Nevertheless, a cast of recognizable actors (including Harris as the sloppy shop owner), super clean character design, and some diabolically clever story-telling make up ground for any of the visual deficits.

It's probably also worth noting that this movie was not made with the nit-picky comic-con demographic with two or more decades of fandom under their utility belts–like me! To (badly) paraphrase the ODB, Golden Blaze is for the children. As such, it's something that I would whole-heartedly recommend to the parents of the comic-con attendees of tomorrow.

St. Paco's Verdict: The Golden Blaze's kung fu does not suck.


P.S. I'm still gonna pray to the Mighty Thor and the gods of Billy Batson (Shazam!) that there isn't yet another lightning bolt bearing character out there waiting to be added to the "Crisis in Electric Ladyland" list.

1.04.2012

You Can't Hack the Gee Wiz Tactics



Gee Wiz – The Wu-Fanatic
While the beat-makers of hip-hop have made quite a distinct mark on the music listeners of the past two decades, I don't know of anyone who has inspired more actual music-making disciples than RZA of the Wu-Tang clan. And it would appear that this kid called Gee Wiz, the self-proclaimed "Wu-Fanatic," may well be the sharpest dagger in the velvet sash of RZA beat emulators. I got hipped to this radiant jewel by way of those funk monks at Word Is Bond and simply had to share it. This collection of Wu-inspired instrumentals is so dead-on musically that the "Abbot" had better be protectin' his own neck, 'cause Gee Wiz is one student who seems to not only have studied the soulful styles of the 36 Chambers, but mastered them too.