Tuesday, March 31, 2020


When I first imagined a Mighty Samson movie based on the Gold Key comic book from the Silver Age I stunt casted Clint Walker or Denny Miller as the mutant superman of a post apopaletic future. Largely because of their physical stature. But since this was a fantasy anyway I reimagined Kirk Douglas in the role. After all the paintings on the covers of the comic books have Samson resembling Douglas as he appears in the movie THE VIKINGS ( 1958 ). Peter Cushing would be perfect as the scientist Mindor. And rounding out the cast as Sharmaine , Mindor's daughter and Samson's love interest , would be 60s fan boy favorite Deanna Lund. Of course the real star of the flick would have been Ray Harryhausen's special effect mutant monsters.

Sam Katzman was the type of producer you could imagine making movies based on the stories found in " men's sweat magazines ".The man who cast Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim after the former Olympic champ became too old to be a believable Tarzan would see the potentialof casting Steve Holland as a jungle adventurer. Especially after realizing he could use the covers of the sweat mags as posters. Just write in a scene to match the action of the cover illustration.You could do the same with the WW Two covers Holland posed for as a two - fisted American fighting man.

Steve Holland was also the model for Jason Striker , the martial arts hero for a series of books written by Piers Antony and Roberto Fuentes. The series came out in the 1970s when everyone was " kung fu fighting ". And at the time I thought Jason Striker , the black belt judoka and karateka would have made a good subject for a series of movies. But not starring Holland. Though the covers featuring Holland would make great posters. The person playing Striker would have been American karate and kick - boxing champ Joe Lewis.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Of Universal's classic monsters my favorite was the Wolf Man. Lon Chaney Jr. starred in a series of films during the 1940s beginning with The Wolf Man (1941). This was followed by Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House Of Frankenstein (1944), House Of Dracula (1945), and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). These films have come to be known as the "Larry Talbot Saga".

There was also a novel by Jeff Rovin titled Return Of The Wolf Man that continued Talbot's story. It begins where Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein left off. And if you're a fan of classic horror movies I can't recommend this book enough.

Werewolves are also popular in Mexico's Cinema of the Psychotronic. No where so much as in flicks featuring Mexiluchaheroes. Blue Demon's first starring role was in Blue Demon, El Blue Demonia (1965). It featured the blue-masked luchador battling a scientifically created wolf man. Blue Demon would take on another werewolf in Santo & Blue Demon vs. Dracula & The Wolf Man (1972).

Santo y Blue Demon contra Dracula el Hombre Lobo directed by Miguel Mi Delgado from ascreenplay by Alfredo Salazar is a favorite of fans of the genre. Largely because it's one of the few team - ups where Blue Demon isn't playing second fiddle to a steel guitar. In this one the two anonymous adventurers stand on equal ground. The same can't be said of the relationship between Dracula (Aldo Monti) and Rufus Rex, the Wolf Man (Augustin Martinez Solares). It reminds me of the one between Armand Telsa (Bela Lugosi) and Andreas Orby (Matt Willis) in Return Of The Vampire (1944). With the wolf man as the vampire's slave.

There's plenty of action in this flick. Especially between Blue Demon and the Wolf Man in the movie's climax. But the best remembered scene is the one where the two masked heroes, dressed like the Men from U.N.C.L.E., play a game of chess while standing guard over the movie's heroines.

For this week's blog my buddy Vance Capley and myself did a Mr. Incognito mash-up page featuring some characters that may be recognizable to fans of Universal Studio's movies of the 1940s.

Dig the art?
Then get it on a t-shirt, cup, magnet, and more:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Matt Baker with publisher Archer St. John

I'm old enough to remember when comics covered every genre. And not just superheroes. There were detective comics, westerns, jungle adventures, horror, humor, romance, and space opera. Among others. The ones that I wasn't able to catch first hand were the "grind house" comic books from publisher Archer St. John and St.Johns Publications.
These were romance comics. But with a little extra kick to them. The stories were straight out of a grind house movie theater. They were about wild parties, ruined reputations, good girls led astray, and bad girls on the loose.


My own favorites were the ones that showed the darker side of show business. The stories were as old as Hollywood itself. Some small town girl with stars in her eyes is taken in by a smooth talking sharp-shooter.

The best of these tales were illustrated by Clarence Matthew Baker (1921- 1959). Matt Baker was one of the few African-American artists working in the industry during the Golden Age of Comics. And was an undisputed master of Good Girl Art.

The term Good Girl Art is generally defined as artwork featuring attractive women in comic books, comic strips, and pulp magazines. The term has nothing to do with the morality of the women themselves. Some of the "good girls" were quite bad. Femme Fatales, gun molls, teen delinquents, or whip wielding dragon ladies. And of course damsels in distress. One of Baker's most famous illustrations was of the Phantom Lady and used as an example of "headlight comics" in Dr. Wertham's book Seduction Of The Innocent.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


One of the cool things about growing up in the Silver Age was that you not only had Superman comic books. But you had reruns of The Adventures of Superman starring the great George Reeves. One  of my favorite episodes was JUNGLE DEVIL from the second season. The episode written by Peter Dixon and directed by Thomas Carr featured your standard B - Jungle Movie plot with intrepid heroes in search of a lost scientific expedition in a hostile jungle. In this case it was Daily Planet reporters Clark Kent ( George Reeves ) , Lois Lane ( Noel Neill ) and Jimmy Olsen ( Jack Larson ). And it's one of those episodes that shows just how cool George Reeves as Clark Kent was. Sure Superman gets to fight the " jungle devil " of the title. A runaway gorilla played by veteran ape - suit actor Steve Calvert. But Kent also gets all the best lines and scenes. 

It was also in this episode that Superman performs a super stunt that has became a major part of the Superman mythos since Action Comics No.115 ( Dec. 1947 ) where the Man of Steel squeezes a piece of coal into a diamond. I can say without hesitation that this is the first place that I saw this trick performed. Also in the cast of this episode are Damain O'Flynn as Dr. Ralph Harper and Doris Singleton as his wife Gloria. If you are a fan of 50s television than you'll recognize Doris Singleton as Caroline Appleby , the Ricardo's neighbor on I Love Lucy. Specifically from the episode where George Reeves appears as Superman.

During my 20s and 30s I had this recurring dream of riding the subway to a comic book shop in Brooklyn where they sold rare old comics that you could only dream of. One of those comics that I remembered most vividly was a Sheena Of The Jungle comic that featured photo covers of Irish Mc Calla in a leopard bikini. Sort of like the Dell Comics Tarzan comics with photo covers of Lex Barker and Gordon Scott. The other was an Adventures of Superman comic that was based on the Superman from the television series. With the characters drawn to resemble the actors who portrayed them on the series. Plus you got stories featuring alien invasions and monsters created by mad scientists. Indeed the stuff that dreams are made of.

From the fertile imagination of super-creator Dave Goode and the super-pen of Vance Capley comes this retro comic cover...

Do remember when our hero met Lucy? We do! Artist Vance Capley goes wild on this design now available at https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/2450490-my-hero-2018?store_id=140005

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


I've always been a fan of comic book heroes who didn't posses " powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man ". I found inspiration in costumed athletes like Daredevil from Marvel Comics. Especially from Daredevil. His origin got this former underweight asthmatic exercising. Which led me to lettering in three sports in high school. And making a couple of All - City teams in both track & field and wrestling.

Today , as a fan of masked wrestler movies I get a chuckle out of how when Daredevil first confronts the villain's hired thugs in Daredevil No. 1 ( April 1964 ) they mistake him for a costumed wrestler.  
The thing is the Man Without Fear's original costume resembled the one worn by acrobat / aerialist Jules Le'otard. Le'otard was the inspiration for the popular 19th century song The Flying Trapeze a.k.a The Man On The Flying Trapeze. And oh yes the leotard was named after him.

After taking over the art chores in Daredevil with issue number five , Wally Wood would redesign Daredevil's costume in Daredevil No.7 ( April 1965 ). This would be the iconic costume that the Man Without Fear wears to this day. But I kind of like the original costume. I'm not saying I prefer it. But it is after all something a circus acrobat , or if you will a daredevil , would wear.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020


And now for something visual that's not to abysmal. And I'm not to talking about an old Steve Reeves movies. But close. The other day I was thinking about two of the greatest movie entertainments ever. Gladiator movies and masked wrestler flicks. And how both had some of the greatest posters of any genre. I wasn't thinking about which genre had the best. That's an apples or oranges discussion. But both would make great comic book covers.

This week's blog looks at some of my favorites from the masked wrestler genre. And when I say my favorites I mean just that. Too many times when someone says their favorites what they mean is "the best". I mean "my favorite". If I call something the best I usually follow it with "IMHO".

El Santo made more movies than any other masked wrestler so it follows that his movies would have some of the best posters. How do you not love the poster for Santo vs. The Vampire Women? That would have made a great cover for a novelization of the movie. But there are other great posters from the genre. 

Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras movies had great posters too. 

And then there were the posters from Europe's Superargo series. As well as the Neutron series.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


I've got a very short list of actors who I think would have been great portraying Robert E. Howard's barbarian hero Conan of Cimmeria. There's Charles Bronson who may have been too short to play Conan. But may have been just right to play another of Howard's characters, the Pict king Bran Mak Morn. Then there is Jack Palance who was perfect as Attila the Hun in the movie SIGN OF THE PAGAN (1954). It was his performance as Attila that got me thinking that Palance would have been great as Conan. Or even better as King Kull,yet another of Howard's barbarian heroes. And then there's "Big" Bill Smith, the actor/bodybuilder best known for his roles in action flicks playing both heroes and villains.

Smith did play Conan's father in CONAN, THE BARBARIAN (1982). And most critics thought that his brief performance was the best thing about the movie. Ten or fifteen years earlier he would have been great as Conan himself. And in 1982 he would have been great as the older King Conan of Howard's stories The Phoenix On The Sword and The Hour Of The Dragon a. k. a Conan The Conqueror.

I imagine a younger Bill Smith starring in an adaptation of my favorite Howard Conan story Beyond The Black River. And he would have been equally good in A Witch Shall Be Born. Imagine if you will Vincent Price as the mercenary general Constanius the Falcon. And Barbara Steele as the twin sisters Queen Taramis and Salome , the witch of the title. But more importantly imagine Smith as the pantherish Cimmerian in the most famous scene from the Conan series. Fierce!!!