Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Mighty Thun'da...King of the Congo by Dave Goode

In 1952 serial king Buster Crabbe would make his last chapter-play. He starred as Thun'da,King of the Congo in a serial based on the comic book of the same name from Magazine Enterprises.The Tarzan-like Thun'da appeared in 6 issues during the Atom Age of Comics in 1952 and 1953. The first issue is completely illustrated by legendary artist Frank Frazetta and scripted by Gardner Fox. Issues 2 to 4 were ably illustrated by Bob Powell. Produced by "Jungle" Sam Katzman and directed by Spencer Bennett and Wallace Grissell the serial has the distinction of being the last chapter-play based on a comic book property.

But as much as I love Buster Crabbe I can't help but imagine Gordon Scott in the role. For one thing he looks almost exactly like Frank Frazetta's original drawings of the "Congo King". Of course Scott wouldn't make his first of six Tarzan movies until 1955. Two years after after the Thun'da comic book ceased publication. But then the Sheena,Queen of the Jungle television series starring Irish McCalla didn't appear until after the Sheena comics stopped publication. So I can imagine a big-budget Thun'da flick with Scott based on the first issue drawn by Frazetta that initially had Thun'da adventuring in a Pellucidar-like lost land in Africa. Complete with dinosaurs and tribes of cavemen. And yes the dinosaurs would be brought to life by the special effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen.

And speaking of "jungle kings" below is another comic panel drawn by Vance Capley of the Tarzan of the Squared Circle...Brad King,the Golden Adonis.For more of Brad as well as Dr.Judo,Mr.Incognito and the Phantom Gorilla purchase JUDO COMICS from lulu.com.
If you think this is cool, you can hear us talking about it on DRAW TV!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Man of a Thousand Masks by Dave Goode

I remember the first time that I saw Mil Mascaras,the squared circle's legendary Man of 1000 Masks. I was about thirteen. I had traded a copy of Humorama to a friend for two boxing and one wrestling mag. The wrestling mag had an article on Mascaras. I had seen other wrestling " masked marvels " before. But this guy was different. For one thing he wasn't built like a beer truck driver. He had a physique that would not be out of place in a "gladiator movie". Secondly the photos in the article looked as if Mascaras was posing for action shots for an issue of Daredevil.

In the pre-internet days wrestling fans got all their information about their favorite wrestling stars and champions from wrestling mags. And they never broke from "kayfabe". Mascaras had a great kayfabe. The story was that he was a member of the Mexican Olympic team who for financial reasons left the squad to become a pro wrestler. For years it was implied that he was a wrestler. Either Greco-Roman or Freestyle. Decades later it was revealed he was a member of Mexico's judo squad.

A couple of years later I got to see Mascaras wrestling on television for the I.W.A as that wrestling organization's champ. Wow! He looked just like a comic book hero in action. When I found out that he made movies like el Santo I searched them out on Spanish-language TV. And again he didn't disappoint. His were some of the best Mexiluchahero movies made. I couldn't help but imagine them adapted to the comic book page by the likes of Steve Ditko and Wally Wood or Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. Or John Romita and Frank Giacoia.

Some years back I had created a comic book hero I named after an obscure Batman villain of the 60s. Loosely modeled after Mascaras I referred to as the "Man of Half a Dozen Masks" , the "Poor man's Mil Mascaras" and "America's Cheesiest Comic Book Hero". Enjoy my amigo Vance Capley's Mr.Incognito illustration below and imagine a prequel to the Mil Mascaras movie LAS VAMPIRAS co-starring John Carradine.
Click the HERE to read the first five pages! 

If you dig that, then you need to grab JUDO COMICS! Get yours today! Click HERE for more information!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Copperhead Strikes! by Dave Goode

One of my favorite serials was THE MYSTERIOUS DR.SATAN from Republic. It featured Eduardo Cianelli as the eponymous Dr.Satan. But what really made this chapter-play special to fan-boys was the introduction of the masked hero known as the Copperhead played by Robert Wilcox. The story has attorney Bob Wayne (Wilcox) thwarting the plans of Dr.Satan, his minions and a robot of the renegade scientist's design. Wayne learns in the 1st chapter that his late father was the masked vigilante of the wild west known as the Copperhead. Wayne decides to take up his father's mantle to run Dr.Satan to Earth.

The story behind the story is that Republic was negotiating with National Periodical Publications to produce a Superman serial. When negotiations fell through Republic tweaked their script and created a new hero. One without "powers and abilities far beyond mortal man". Creating another "superman" might have stirred up a hornet's nest. And so a masked mystery man along the lines of the ones in the pulps was created. Someone like the Green Hornet of radio fame.

Now if you watch THE MYSTERIOUS DR.SATAN knowing about the history and connection between the Lone Ranger and Green Hornet you'd come away saying Republic's screenwriters borrowed freely from the Green Hornet's origin. That is until you realize that the Lone Ranger/Green Hornet connection wouldn't be solidified until 1947. Some 7 years after THE MYSTERIOUS DR.SATAN was released. It was in an episode titled "Too Hot To Handle" broadcast on Nov.11, 1947 that Dan Reid Jr. tells his son Britt that his great uncle was the legendary Lone Ranger after Britt reveals that he is the notorious Green Hornet. Dan Reid Jr. would even appear in 14 episodes of The Lone Ranger television series portrayed by actor Chuck Courtney.

In any case like the Masked Marvel and many other Republic serial heroes there were no follow-up adventures in the movies.* More's the pity. But in the alternate universe that runs through my mind Republic put out their own line of comics. Ones that featured the further adventures of their classic serial heroes. One of these titles was Masked Detective Comics which alternately featured the exploits of the Masked Marvel and the Copperhead. Below is two covers of such a comics imagined by my buddy Vance Capley.

*Editor's notes: The Copperhead returned in a full color semi-remake of the serial in the 1973 Turkish film Yilmayan Seytan (aka The Deathless Devil/Copperhead vs. Dr. Satan)....and an unfinished sequel titled The Return of the Copperhead which you can read about here: http://www.rotc.elfess.com/

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How Did This Not Get A Comic Book Adaptation? by Dave Goode

A huge fan-boy favorite from the fabulous 50s was the sci-fi/monster flick 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH. It starred William Hopper,Joan Taylor and the special effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen. Directed by Nathan Juran with a screenplay by Bob Williams and Christopher Knopf 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH featured one of the most unforgettable creatures from 50s cinema...the Ymir. Oddly enough the name Ymir is not used at anytime in the movie. But the movie's working title was "THE GREAT YMIR FROM OUTER SPACE".

The story has a spaceship returning from an expedition to Venus and crashing into the sea releasing an alien creature. Something in Earth's atmosphere causes the creature to grow rapidly to a height of 25 ft. tall and it attacks Rome. Hopper is solid as the hero. And Joan Taylor is good as the heroine proving ,as she did in EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, that she might have been a good June Robbins in a Challengers of the Unknown movie. The true star of the movie though is Harryhausen's stop-motion animation magic. And the highlight is the battle between the creature from Venus and an elephant.

This seemed to me like the perfect movie to be adapted to the comic book page by Dell. With perhaps Gil Kane doing the artwork. Then again I can see the pre-Marvel Atlas Comics doing an adaptation as well. With art by either Ditko or Kirby. Or maybe a combination of the two. But then the Ymir would have been clad in swimming trunks!!!

(Retro comic cover by Vance Capley)

editor note* Bluewater Productions (now TidalWave) in conjunction with filmmaker Ray Harryhausen, made comic book sequels to his films, including 20 Million Miles to Earth. The sequel, 20 Million Miles More, was written by Scott Davis and illustrated by Alex Garcia.