Thursday, November 01, 2007

Monsters Today, 3-Part Thursday Next Week!

Whew! I'm pooped. Hallowe'en is over for another year, and I'm regrouping my mental forces.

Unlike previous years, last year the visitors were pretty slim. In 2006, for instance, we had 85 ghouls, goblins, and other critters shamble to our door Trick-or-Treating.

This year, only 35.

Anywho, another fun thing about Aurora's monster models was the "Monster Customizing Kits' -- I think there were two instalments -- you could buy to "dress up" your models. The kits included spiders, rats, skulls, bones, and the like, to ceate your own diorama of deviltry.

The ad shown here was printed on the back of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #75, featuring a monster customizing contest.

Ah, the pleasures of childhood, when we knew that the worst monsters were imaginary!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have a Weirdo Wednesday Hallowe’en!

Our final Weirdo Wednesday entry of 2007 features a story written by Big Blue’s co-creator, Jerry Siegel; penciled by the Action Ace’s best penciler, Curt Swan; and inked by a great scribe, George Klein.

Yes, it’s “The Voyage of the Mary Celeste II!” from Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #75, cover-dated March, 1964.

After Mr. Action writes a hit feature article about the mystery of the abandoned Mary Celeste, found adrift in the Azores December 15, 1872, he’s contacted by a rich industrialist, Jeff Conway. “The Mary Celeste mystery has always fascinated me,” Conway tells the reporter, “and so, I built this duplicate ship! It’s an expensive hobby, which I can well afford!”

Yes, it’s a full-scale replica of the famous ship, but also loaded with sonar and radio. Conway’s dream is to sail the replica along the same course as the original, just to see what will happen!

But Conway hasn’t been able to scare up (ha ha) a crew amongst the superstitious seamen of Metropolis Harbor. So it’s up to Conway’s appointed skipper, “Captain” James Bartholomew Olsen, to find a crew. Five seadogs volunteer, and the voyage sets out just fine, until …

Jimmy finds out that his five brave sailors are on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, and were maneuvered aboard the ship by Conway, whose shipping concern doesn’t mind a little smuggling (human and otherwise) on the side. And when the lugs make it to the nearest foreign shore, then it’ll be lights out – for good -- for Mrs. Olsen’s favorite son. They take his signal watch and set him to swabbing the decks.

Their plan is to hide in a secret compartment belowdecks so that it’ll seem that they, too, have fallen victim to the Mary Celeste’s curse.

But resourceful Jimmy turns the tables, grabs a gun, and orders the quintet topside, just as the ship crosses the last known coordinates of the original Mary Celeste. Then … a giant sea monster rises from the deeps and snatches the criminals with green scaly tentacles. Superman arrives, just in time, to rescue Jimmy from the gruesome creature.

The only thing that makes this story less than delicious is Superman’s inane word balloon, “No, no! Mustn’t touch! Leave Jimmy alone” I mean, really. Five other men have just drowned at this critter’s tentacles, and Superman talks to it like he’s scolding a three-year-old?

Still, Jimmy theorizes that this critter must have been aroused nine decades before by the original Mary Celeste’s passing, and was reawakened by her sister ship. Of course, how a sailing ship could make enough racket to awaken a creature that lived in a fissure at the bottom of the sea – I just can’t “sea” it!

Still, when I was seven, this tale made a deep impression. I remembered it for years, because of my anti-authoritarian interest in unexplained things – UFOs, sea serpents, Bigfoot, Atlantis, and strange disappearances.

It took twenty years or more before I discovered this story again, tracking it down in this here comic book.

Thanks for sharing some Weirdo Wednesdays with me. And, on this All Hallows’ Eve, remember what the butcher told me when he sold me the empty hot dog:

“Happy Hollow Weenie!”

Monday, October 29, 2007

That Purple Bench!

When I was a wee tyke (maybe six or so), I was in the second grade and reading on about a fifth-grade level.

We had one of those families that are so mocked nowadays, but so wonderful to grow up in. Dad worked all day (and a few evenings on a side job). Mom stayed at home and raised us with love, discipline, pride, and frustrations too I bet!

Anyway, when we went to the local IGA store for groceries, there was this padded bench, about the size of a modern-day minivan bench seat. The bench was covered in purple vinyl, its original shine worn dull by thousands of butts sliding across it.

The grocery store also had a metal-wire comics spinner rack.

Whether intentionally or not, when we went to the grocery store, a few comics seemed to be on that bench, having migrated from the spinner rack twenty feet away.

Now we tie it all together: Most of the times I went with Mom to the grocery store, I would park on that purple bench and read comics.

So family folklore goes, one time Mom loaded up the groceries into the car and went home. She was bringing in the paper bags of groceries when she realized that I wasn’t with her! She drove back to the grocery store (maybe a mile or so) and there I was, still blissfully reading comics on the bench.

I sure didn’t feel abandoned!

For our final Weirdo Wednesday, we’ll look at one of the comics that I read on that bench, and didn’t find again for more than twenty years!
Stay tuned, kiddies!

Super Movie Music History

If you love movie music, it's hard to beat Film Score Monthly. It's a magazine about ... you guessed it!

Their website is -- check out their clearance sale. That's where I bought this back issue for 95 cents. It's crammed with info and interviews about the music for the first Christopher Reeves Superman films.!
PS our last Weirdo Wednesday is coming, and it's MONSTROUS!
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© by Mark Alfred