Tuesday, August 30, 2016


But then while watching SAMSON'S MIGHTY CHALLENGE again a couple of years back it hit me. In this flick Steel was playing Hercules, to great comic effect,as a vainglorious, ego-maniacal, pleasure-seeking hedonist. In short the Hercules that appeared in Marvel Comics. Only a bit shorter. After that it became easier for me to enjoy movies in which he appeared as a hero.

Another thing I enjoyed about Steel was his athleticism. As mentioned before he looked more like a weight-lifter than a bodybuilder. And as such he looked more than capable of performing the feats of strength he was doing on screen. And he was able to hold his own in fight scenes with Brad Harris and Dan Vadis, two of the genres more athletic stars. No he wasn't the "prettiest" of the sinew & sandal stars. But he made for a convincing Hercules.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sky Marshall of the Universe by Dave Goode

I remember when I got my very first leather jacket as a kid. I didn't pretend to be Brando in The Wild One cool. Or even Eric Von Zipper cool. I imagined being Commando Cody cool. For those of you who might not be old enough to remember, Commando Cody was the hero in two 12 chapter serials from Republic Pictures. Actor George Wallace played him in Radar Men from the Moon(1952). And Judd Holdren portrayed the character in Commando Cody:Sky Marshall of the Universe which was originally shot as a television series in 1953. Judd Holdren portrayed a character named Larry Martin in another serial titled Zombies of the Stratosphere(1952) in which he was more or less playing Command Cody. Zombies of the Stratosphere is best known for featuring the original Mr.Spock from Star Trek,Leonard Nimoy, in a small role as a Martian invader. Commando Cody:Sky Marshall of the Universe would be released in theaters in 1953 as a serial. No doubt confusing young serial fans. And would eventually find it's way to television syndicated by NBC television as a 12 episode TV series.

The "Rocket Man" suit that Commando Cody wore made it's first appearance in an earlier serial King of the Rocket Men(1949) starring Tristram Coffin as Jeff King.And despite the chapter-play's title there was only one "rocket man" in this movie.Still the image of the Rocket Man has become almost iconic to sci-fi and movie serial fans.A black leather jacket with a rocket backpack and an aerodynamic bullet-shaped helmet. Obviously an inspiration for Dave Steven's Rocketeer character. Shots of Rocket Man taking off,flying and landing would be reused in the Commando Cody serials.

One of the things I remember most about the Commando Cody television series was the hero's futuristic military costume. It looked like something that a comic book reading kid in the 50s and early 60s could imagine a military uniform of the future to look like. Commando  Cody even wore a mask which gave him an air of mystery. Years later I read an article where Judd Holdren said the producers had the actor wear the mask so he'd be easier to replace with another actor if he asked for more money.Of course I was wondering why there wasn't a Commando Cody comic book.And for anyone else who might have wondered what one might have looked like here's a faux page illustrated by my buddy Vance Capley.

See Vance Capley at work! Click here :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


When I was a kid I loved the Gerry Anderson produced television series FIREBALL XL-5. Classic space opera with a catchy theme song. But my favorite Gerry Anderson series was CAPTAIN SCARLET AND THE MYSTERONS. Set in the year 2068 the series focused on the struggle between Spectrum,a global security organization and the Mysterons of Mars. What was interesting about the series was that the Mysterons hostilities against Earth wasn't because that's what aliens do in science fiction. You know? Attack Earth.One of their cities on Mars was destroyed when Captain Black panics on Earth's first encounter with the Martians.

Captain Scarlet was Spectrum's primary agent against the Mysterons. Scarlet would acquire the Martian healing power of "retro-metabolism",giving him the ability to recover from injuries that would otherwise prove fatal. All of Spectrum's agents were given color-coded names. Aside from Captain Scarlet and Captain Black there was Captain Blue,Captain Magenta,Lt.Green and Colonel White.

The coolest thing about the series to me was the end credits that featured illustrations by Ron Embleton(1930-1988). These illustrations put Captain Scarlet in a series of cliff-hanger situations. Embleton was a noted historical illustrator as well as comic book/strip artist.

But his most famous work outside of the Captain Scarlet illustrations may have been on the Oh,Wicked Wanda feature in Penthouse magazine that he worked on from 1973 to 1980.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Yellow Claw and Jimmy Woo of the F.B.I by Dave Goode

I was introduced to the Yellow Claw and Jimmy Woo in the 60s through Jim Steranko's run on the Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D feature in Strange Tales from Marvel Comics. A few years later I found out that the Yellow Claw was the star of his own comic book back in the 50s that had a brief four issue run. In these stories Jimmy Woo played Sir Dennis Nayland Smith to the Claw's Fu Manchu. Woo would thwart the villain's latest scheme for world domination. But he could never quite stop him completely. Or capture him. The Claw was aided by his right-hand man escaped Nazi war criminal Fritz Von Voltzman. The first issue was written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Joe Maneely. Jack Kirby would take over the stories and art from the second issue on with covers by Bill Everett and John Severin. Kirby being Kirby the stories took on a more science fiction tone.I prefered that first issue cover-dated October 1956 by Feldstein and Maneely.

That first issue by Feldstein and Maneely had the feel of a Monogram mystery movie. I could easily have seen that studio producing a movie version.When I read those stories it isn't hard to imagine Victor Sen Yung famous as Hop Sing on the legendary TV western Bonanza as Jimmy Woo.Yung had portrayed Charlie Chan's No.2 son in a number of mystery films in the 40s and he looked to me like Jimmy Woo come to life.

Actress Gloria Talbot who seemed to be always cast as "exotics" might have made for a good Suwan,niece of the Yellow Claw and Jimmy Woo's love interest in the comic book. She had played Milton Caniff's Dragon Lady on the Terry and the Pirates television show. Fritz Von Voltzman could have been played by Gene Roth. 

As for the Yellow Claw himself?Hmmm. How about Henry Brandon who did such a bang-up job as Fu Manchu in the serial The Drums of Fu Manchu?

NOTE: Watch me, Vance Capley, draw this on the latest Draw TV with special guest Dave Goode