Archive for October, 2020

Posted Saturday, October 31st, 2020 by Barry

Upturned Stone (1993)

It’s time to get scared.

Not just classic Universal Horror-comfort scare or the horror porn from the turn of the millennium, but under-the-blanket, five-year-old scared. The kind of scared that’s almost as good as sex when you get that release.

Upturned Stone (1993)

That’s what Upturned Stone is about. The kind of monsters who are real. The ones not afraid to hurt their victims. For real.

It’s a return to the Ben Cooper Halloweens when orange Jack o’ Lantern heads served as candy repositories. The kinda candy that didn’t need to be checked before eaten.

Scott Hampton pulls the film off a happier era to show shadows were haunted even then. All in a story told in four parts by four reluctant participants who grow up before their time.

An unlikely vessel unleashes a series of incomplete nightmares. Incomplete until told together, through the eyes of the boy buried long ago in a mystery never solved.

Revenge is exacted for the innocent victim against a predator not fearing retribution.

Hopefully there weren’t too many spoilers in the description. This is a title you need to seek out and read for yourself. It’s just that good.

It’s a book I passed on initially. My pull box was a full one in the early 1990s. My wallet was not.

There were too many good things happening below the surface of the comic book landscape. Sandman was still on the stands. I was playing catch up with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis tag teamed on Justice League. Aliens v Predator and their solo titles kept us hoping they would one day unite on the big screen.

To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Business was good and experimentation was allowed. Well, product was needed. The boom before the bust.

If you dug past the dreck, there was a lot of good books on the periphery of the main stream. Upturned Stone was one of the gems and will echo in your soul for a long time.

Mr. Hampton is a journeyman comic book artist and creator. His works include Batman, Black Widow, Sandman and Hellraiser. Upturned Stone was optioned in 2005 by David Foster Productions for release on the silver screen. This never materialized, but the story has been optioned again recently. Time will tell.

Again, happy Halloween. Be safe and check under the bed.

Posted Friday, October 30th, 2020 by Barry

Looney Tunes (1994) 71

Pismo Beach remains as elusive as ever in Hare-A 51.

Bugs and Daffy go astray as they attempt another vacation. Elmer is the foil as the pair spoof the X-Files, cross dress and, finally, enlist the aid of an alien to get them to their destination.

The Shiny is, as you may have guessed, a send up of Stephen King’s The Shining.

Looney Tunes (1994) 71

Looney Tunes (1994) 71

Porky Pig and Sylvester the Cat rehash their roles from the 1948 Merrie Melodies Scaredy Cat animated short; right down to the mouse who incited incidents.

Scribe Craig Boldman even shows the short-lived, self-described “New Magazine of Weird Humor!” Plop! – 1973 to 1976 – some love.

Tazzy-Doo, Where Are You? is a straight up, send up of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

Conundrum Co., made up of Fredhorn, Daphnie-Bunny, Veltunia, Daffy and Tazzy-Doo, are monster hunting in a mask factory Halloween night. Jesse Leon McCann leaves no Hanna-Barbera trope untouched as the writer weaves an abstract adventure.

Who’s the villain? Who is unmasked? Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Gossamer, something unexplainable and, finally, the real culprit. I won’t spoil the fun so go find this issue yourself.

Happy Halloween.

Posted Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 by Barry

Looney Tunes (1994) 167

Happy Halloween.

Or, it should be. Frank Strom offers a candid view of Christmas commercialism and how the holiday is affecting other red-numbered calendar days.

Looney Tunes (1994) 167

Looney Tunes (1994) 167

Only two days to Halloween and Witch Hazel doesn’t have any candy. Simple enough solution. Hop on her broom and head to the local mega-mart.

But, it’s not that easy.

On Oct. 29, instead of Jack o’ Lanterns she finds Christmas trees, tinsel and other Tanenbaum trimmings. Halloween has been usurped.

After a warehouse interval, Hazel heads north – far north – to speak to the man in red himself. When she finally is granted an audience, Hazel has words with Santa. Those words lead to a truth the big man never considered.

Host Felix Faust follows with a one-page Super Friends Super Stumper.

Hazel returns for a romp through the fairy tales in Spell It Out and Bugs helps Porky Pig find a loophole to save his soul from Daffy “Devil” Duck.

Not a bad cover-to-cover read near the spookiest night of the year.

Posted Sunday, October 25th, 2020 by Barry

Super Friends (1976) 28

Masquerade of Madness is a true Halloween story.

Super Friends (1976) 28

Super Friends (1976) 28

Published Oct. 25, 1979, E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon craft some late Bronze Age cheesiness. Basically, werewolf Jimmy Olsen, Jayna and Zan end Felix Faust’s plans to defeat the Super Friends once and for all.

The Super Friends began as Saturday morning fodder for sugar-addled brains starved for a more kinetic version of their comic books. The original series premiered in 1973 after the Dynamic Duo tested on Scooby-Doo and Wonder Woman on the animated Brady Kids.

It was rechristened as The All-New Super Friends Hour from 1977-78. Further name changes included Challenge of the Super Friends from ’78 to ’79, The World’s Greatest Super Friends ’79 to ’80 with a return to simply Super Friends from 1980 to 1983.

Hanna-Barbera finished out its run with Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show from 1984 to 1985 and, finally, The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, 1985-86.

While loosely based on the Justice League of America comic book, Super Friends did not translate into a comic book itself until 1975. Even that relied heavily on the JLA. Super Friends began as part of the Limited Collector’s Edition (C-41) series, reprinting JLA issues 36 and 61 with Bridwell penning a bridging tale to bind the stories together. Alex Toth provided pencils.

DC finally greenlit a Super Friends comic book series in 1976. The title ran till 1981. The comic complimented the cartoon rather than rely on JLA continuity.

Not sure if this is a trick or treat, but if you happen across it in a back-issue bin, enjoy some past history.

Posted Saturday, October 24th, 2020 by Barry

You Can’t Beat This Halloween Treat!

DC rolled out the red carpet for Halloween 1979.

Featured in the house advertisement are Secrets of Haunted House 20, House of Mystery 276, Weird War Tales 83 and Ghosts 84. Showcased was Super Friends 28 touted as a “Hair Raising Chiller!”

According to the hype, “The Super Friends Battle 5-Fearsome Foes…and their Mysterious Master!”

To learn more about the issue, tune in tomorrow for the full synopsis.

In the meantime, continue to dig out DC’s anthology House books and Marvel’s serialized monster soaps with Universally-recognized names. Let them take you back to the days of Ben Cooper costumes, plastic Jack o’ Lantern candy buckets and gobs of sugary candies.

You Can’t Beat This Halloween Treat!

You Can’t Beat This Halloween Treat!

Posted Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 by Barry

Franklin Richards Monster Mash (2007) 1

Franklin sets out to prove his classmates wrong in Ready, Steady, Yeti.

With H.E.R.B.I.E. in tow, the two teleport to Mount Everest. The quickly complete their mission, to find the Abominable Snowman. The results are not what either expected.

Intestinal distress releases a monster no one expected as Franklin tackles his Little Monster; it’s not as dirty as it sounds.

Franklin Richards Monster Mash (2007) 1

Franklin Richards Monster Mash (2007) 1

Not until help from an unexpected source intercedes does Franklin learn to control the forces insides him.

Ghost in the Machine is not only the best album by the Police, but the third story in the book.

Franklin uses one of his father’s machines to turn the tables on his doubting dad. The story quickly degenerates into a Casper clone complete with the Ghostly trio. In the end, it’s Franklin who learns the lesson.

Under the Bed has Franklin taking matters in hand, behind his father’s back. He and H.E.R.B.I.E. return an interdimensional monster back to its home.

Power Trip shows Franklin how dirty the super hero business can be at times.

Another fun trip into the world of the FF’s heir apparent.

Posted Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 by Barry

Realworlds Justice League of America (2000)

Realworlds Justice League of America bears more than a passing resemblance to Stephen King’s Stand By Me. Or, The Body if you are referring to King’s novella from the 1982 Different Seasons hardcover from which the screenplay blossomed.

J.M. DeMatteis’ millennial-prestige edition even manages a dash of King’s It for good measure. But, mostly Stand by Me. Right down to the, “It’s been said that no matter how far you travel in life, you’ll never have friends like the ones you had when you were 10,” line.

Realworlds Justice League of America (2000)

Realworlds Justice League of America (2000)

Stand by Me/The Body is not a bad story to swipe from. Neither is It.

The difference is DeMatteis uses a more mundane excuse to bring the former childhood friends together. Return of the Justice League has no corpse to focus on. Nor does a nigh-immortal evil dressed in clown garb terrorize a generation.

Return of the Justice League just uses longing. A longing to be 10 again. To experience friendship – real friendship – for the first time. To return to a time when whimsy and fantasy were allowed in lives.

One by one, the former gang of Richard Barrison, Nick DiMarco, Michael Riley and Karen Steuben are contacted. Each are flown home to relive a day from their past.

Only when they allow themselves to be immersed in yesterday do they realize what they’ve missed and what they have to look forward to.

Return of the Justice League is a return to youth on Halloween and Halloween eve. For the cost of a costume and imagination Richard, Nick, Michael and Karen are richly rewarded.

Posted Saturday, October 17th, 2020 by Barry

Bettie Page (2018) Halloween Special

Bettie goes undercover in Pickman’s Supermodel to stop a dimensional take over.

Bettie Page (2018) Halloween Special

Bettie Page (2018) Halloween Special

Other worldly happenings continue in Haunting in Hollywood. A rival decides to eliminate competition by inviting Bettie to a haunted house. Any clichés end when the host admits defeat and takes her leave.

Page was a real-life model appearing in bondage and S&M photographs as her stock in trade. She would later become known as the Queen of Bondage.

In the 1950s, Page would become a Playmate of the Month in Hugh Hefner’s fledgling Playboy.

Her risqué modeling career was short lived, but has become the thing of legend.

Page retired from modeling by the 1960s. She would work for Reverend Billy Graham after attending bible college. A divorce kept her from becoming a missionary in Africa.

In the late 1970s Page was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and spent 20 months in the Patton State Hospital in California. She was later arrested for assault and found innocent on grounds of insanity. Page would be placed under supervision. She was finally released in 1992.

She died Dec. 11, 2008.

Her legacy continues as evidenced with this comic book. Minor planet 184784 has been named after Page.

Posted Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 by Barry

The Tick Big Halloween Special 2000

The Orange Teeth of Horror is a welcome return of the Tick to his early days. The humor is as sublime as the story is abstract.

The Tick Big Halloween Special 2000

The Tick Big Halloween Special 2000

Extension Agent of the U.S.D.A. (Undercover Search for Detached Anthropomorphs) comes to aid the maladroit duo as Halloween hatches horrors aplenty.

A government experiment has wronged the gourds that now seek revenge and pumpkins are becoming angry animated Jack O’ Lanterns. Their mission is nothing less than the destruction of mankind.

The trio of heroes are enough to stop the massacre and the trick has been treated.

Halloween is the Christianized version of a pagan ritual. Though hoping to contain All Hallow’s Eve, commercialism has taken the last day of October and made it one for free candy and devilish delights.

It has become the second, only to Christmas, most expensive holiday of the year. It is estimated 175 million Americans celebrated Halloween in 2018. On average, they each spent $86.79 for a total of $9 billion dollars.

About 90-percent of America buy candy. That’s estimated to cost $2.6 billion. Almost 75 percent buy Halloween decorations for an estimated $2.7 billion.

The most expensive part of the holiday are the costumes. Those totaled around $3.2 billion. The top five-adult costumes are a witch, vampire, pirate and Avenger character for 2018.

Children fantasized about being a princess, superhero, Star Wars character or witch.

Retailers use Halloween sales figures to calculate spending during the coming holiday season.

Continue reading for the final installment of the Tick’s Halloween parade.

Posted Monday, October 12th, 2020 by Barry

Tick Big Halloween Special (1999) 1

The Tick gets all alliterative in the 1999 special titled Haunted Halloween Hootenanny.

Tick and Arthur are caught in a haunted house for the night when the bridge goes out. They and half a dozen others all interested in buying the stately, old mansion.

The twist on this spooky, overnight stay is, well, there really isn’t one. It’s straight up, Arthur in the Sylvester the Cat persona trying to warn Tick/Porky Pig about the hauntings a hair’s breadth from overtaking them.

All so the Tick can scope out a new, more stately headquarters with a bit more Bruce Wayne/Batman flourish.

Dr. Skull and Red Eye guest star in the slumber party scare-a-thon.

Tune in throughout the week as we celebrate Halloween Spoon style.

Tick Big Halloween Special (1999) 1