MarvelProbe: When Pixels And Ink Meet

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today I would like to talk about video games; right now on the home console market PS4 is kicking the butt of its competitors, the Nintendo WII-U and the Xbox One and with the Steam Box and even rumored Amazon Game System in the works this generation of gaming is going to be an interesting one. Most modern Triple A titles are like playing a movie as they are heavy on plots and the graphics are top notch.  Games of this style would be like Assassins Creed, Halo, God of War and Legend Of Zelda.  When playing a game like this, you are treated to beautiful breathtaking cut scenes that help draw you deeper and deeper into the plot. Also popular nowadays are the tiny mobile games that kids and adults play on their smart phones and tablets and most of these style games have very little plot and are quick play games that can kill boredom when waiting.  Examples of these games are Planets Vs. Zombies, Minecraft and Angry Birds. But for me mobile games are just kind of bland and when I want to play a video game, I want to pop in a cart or disc and grab my controller and play. In this day and age a player does not have to use much of his or hers imagination like they did back when Atari 800 or 2600 ruled the home game market with wire thin plots and pixels that were kind of in the shape of whatever your character was suppose to be. While I am sure gamers now look at classic video games like Pac-Man, Frogger and Q*Bert as primitive, nothing could prepare them for text adventure games! Yes, in the 1980’s text based games were very popular, and while some of them had some graphics at the top of the screen, many of them did not and looked like just a bunch of words on a screen waiting for simple commands to further the “adventure” along. Think of text games like the book series called Choose Your Own Adventure where by reading and making a decision, you have your character’s fate in your hands, because let’s be honest kids want to read a bunch of text in order to play a video game….right? Text based games have been made about all types of things from Dracula to World War II but some of the most popular ones were based on Marvel Super Heroes and would you know they also made comics based on their text based adventures and that’s what our main subject will be all about! So get ready to have a text not texting good time as we jump into the world of pixels and ink.

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Adventure International was an early video game company run by husband and wife Scott and Alexis Adams who specialized in making games for the home computer market like the Commodore 64 and Apple II that started in 1978. Scott Adams was a big name in the world of video games throughout the early 80’s, and he was mostly known for making top of the line text based adventure games.  This helped his company lock a partnership with Marvel Comics in 1984 to make a text based game series that would focus many of their top heroes.  In fact, 12 games were planned in the line as were comics that would come out alongside the games via Marvel. The first three games to come out were adventures based on The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and Human Torch & The Thing from the Fantastic Four. The main plot had the heroes being studded by a unknown figure called Chief Examiner who would place them in odd places and situations to see how they would react to them. But sadly Adventure International hit a financial snag and closed up shop in 1985 leaving the 4th game,which was based around the X-Men, unfinished and the remaining titles in the line canceled. While his company may have closed shop Scott Adams still continued to make computer games throughout the years and even as of 2013 made a comeback after 10 years of not creating his own game made a text game called “The Inheritance” and remains an icon of PC Gaming.

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Growing up the only text based games I could remember playing were ones that my Uncle Thurman would bring to our house in Waynesville when he and my Aunt Teresa would come visit us as kids. Most of the ones he had were more like dungeon and dragons and were the strict text ones with no graphics and were all for Commodore 64. I can remember one time looking through his massive collection of games all on floppy disks and finding Dracula and asking him if we could play it but after several tries the game never did load.  That’s one of the downsides to Commodore 64, it had lots of issues loading and when it was loading the time to get your game to start was very long. Imagine kids of today who already complain about the install times of modern games trying to play a full game on Commodore where you had to wait for it to not only load the game but also most of the times each level! But I will move on and over the years text games seemed like an oddity to me and captured my attention as I never could wrap my head around why gamers of the past found them to be hours of fun, and I got a reason to buy some when I started to review Video Games on my old website for my production company Bloodline Video a few years back under the name of Xmortis. So after getting a complete working Commodore 64 with the datasette reader and floppy drive from Game Swap, I looked for a text based game that I could review and it came down to one called Wolfman and the other being Questprobe: Incredible Hulk and when a cassette version of Questprobe popped up cheap on Ebay it became the lucky winner. The game is text based but does have graphics that for the time are really fun and try their hardest to look like comic book art.  I have to admit playing the first few times I hated it and was so frustrated by the lame commands that I would get bored and shut the game off or even gasp! Die in the game! How could I let The Hulk, one of my favorite comic characters, die in a lame text game is what I kept thinking, but finally I hate to admit it but I used an online walk through for what commands to give him and beat the game by cheating. The review never made it up on the site, and I hope to someday get back to Bloodline’s site and return it to the review and production glory it once was. As for now how I feel about Questprobe Hulk, I hate to admit it but I do like the idea of it, mostly cause it was the first video game based on Hulk. Below is the cover box for the game as well as some screen shots for you to feast your eyes on and enjoy all the pixel goodness.

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Marvel Comics had a great thing going, not only did they have characters in video games now being written by Scott Adams but they could also get a 12 issue mini series from it that would help boost the sales of the game as also the game could boost the sales of the comics. This team up was truly a time when ink meet pixels, and the team up would have been perfect if not for the game company’s sudden shut down. Marvel during this time I am sure had a tough decision to make as they could continue a comic series based on games that were no longer being made or they could do the unthinkable and just cancel the mini series and leave fans hanging on what and who Chief Examiner was and what he wanted…and Marvel did what they always do they pulled the plug and walked away from the idea and as time passed did kind of wrap up the story in Marvel Fanfare # 33 where they printed the X-Men story and later in Quasar they added in the story of Questprobe. So on this update we are only going to cover the three issues released in the original mini series and will be graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank the vendor at Fright Night Film Fest for having issue # in stock and Lone Star Comics for the remaining two issues. So let’s pop these comics into the datasette player and type in the load keys and enjoy pixels and ink together.

Questprobe 1

Questprobe # 1  ** 1/2
Released in 1984     Cover Price .75     Marvel Comics    #1 of 3

A race of peaceful aliens are preparing for an invasion from other aliens who are war hawks and want to kill them all as well as their planet.  They all turn on Durgan, a member of there council who wants to fight back and not just roll over and die. When Durgan leaves the meeting he knows that something has to be done so he dons a giant helmet and calls himself the Chief Examiner and heads to Earth to steal the powers of some of our top super heroes to use in a fight with the invading aliens. On Earth The Incredible Hulk is facing off with the National Guard and after making short work of their tanks, he heads off to find a place to sleep and does so in a cave on the side of a cannon. When entering the cave, the Hulk sees the Natter Energy Egg and the Blood Red Bio-Gem right as the two explode.  This event makes The Hulk tired and he falls asleep turning back in Bruce Banner and finally getting some piece and quite. Banner’s rest is quickly cut short as Chief Examiner enters the cave and tells him that he needs to have him walk through a door portal so that he can drain his power! Banner fights back and runs from the cave but soon learns that the cave is high and he is fallen to his death! Before he hits the ground he turns into The Hulk as the Chief Examiner tries to force him to enter the door portal, The Hulk doesn’t like to be told what to do and goes on a rampage to smash the dome headed alien into the ground, during this fight a group of white water rafters are knocked over when Hulk goes under water and breaks off one of the sides of the canon and pins Chief Examiner down, but by doing so the huge rock is blocking the river and causes the rafters to fall into the raging water. The Hulk dives in and pulls out all the males and see’s that the female is stuck in a whirlpool! The only way to get to her is by jumping into the portal doorway and he does so losing some of his power yet saving a young woman’s life. The Chief Examiner leaves with his prize the stolen energy as The Hulk waits to make sure the woman is okay and to remain some energy and leaps off into the sky.

This is a fun Hulk adventure that is a cool tie in for a video game and explains the strange world that the Hulk is found in during the text based adventure Game. The plot is pretty simple and has an alien who’s planet is under attack who travels to Earth to steal powers off powerful humans so that he can use it against the attackers, the first one he targets is Hulk cause of his brute strength. He tries to force the Hulk to enter his black doorway that allows him to steal/mimic his power and only does so when he forces The Hulk to make a decision to save a woman’s life and jump through the door or let her die and avoid the door. The Hulk in this issue is the simple minded version who just wants to be left alone and knows that his brute power is the best way to keep everyone away, this is my favorite version of the Hulk as he is the one truly grew up reading and the one that made me a lifelong fan next to the TV Show. I love the fact that while The Hulk is a “monster” in the eyes of humans he risks his own safety in this comic to save the life of one of them and by the end the humans seem to have a new respect for the green skin goliath. The Chief Examiner while not a full bad guy still is going about getting help in his planets soon to be war all the wrong ways, not once does he even try to explain to the Hulk why he needs his power nor does he even tell the power house about his planets upcoming doom or asks if Hulk would come back and help. Plus it’s great when The Hulk pins Chief Examiner down with a giant stone and how easily in the alien’s mind he gave up and knew that the Hulk could kill him with one punch. The comic’s art is done by the amazing Mark Gruenwald and inked by John Romita Jr. making for one powerful team that turned in a great looking comic, and the cover is amazing and is also what’s used for the video game. So in this first issue Chief Examiner gets the power of the Hulk, and now who’s next on his hit list of stealing powers?

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So in this first issue Chief Examiner gets the power of the Hulk, and now who’s next on his hit list of stealing powers? Let’s jump into issue two and see what he has planned for Spider-Man!

Questprobe 2

Questprobe # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     Marvel Comics    #2 of 12

Spider-Man is feeling a little down in the dumps as the city is hot and he has a lot on his mind as his personal life is a mess. Meanwhile in prison, Quentin Beck comes up with a plan to escape so he can don his Mysterio outfit once more and challenge Spider-Man to a final fight! While on a distant planet the peaceful aliens watch as The Black Fleet conquers another planet and is heading their way, as Durgan also known as The Chief Examiner sets his sights now on steal/borrowing the power of Spider-Man to mix with that of the Hulk he already has taken. Tuskar is a student of Durgan and wants to find his old teacher and see if he can help as it’s shown the Black Fleet really just wants the Red Bio-Gem’s cause when put together they hold massive power, and the kicker are the Gems are alive and are kind of evil! Mysterio shows up to the Daily Bugle and holds everyone hostage as Spider-Man shows up to save them and the two fight it out, all the while Mysterio is using cheap and dirty FX inspired tricks on his foe. The Chief Examiner shows up and tries to get Spidey to go through his portal but web-head thinks that Examiner is just a costume change for Mysterio as they both wear domes over their faces, in the end Spider-Man figures out they are not the same person and is forced to dive into Examiner’s portal to escape an attack by Mysterio that leaves our hero weak, and just as Mysterio is to finish off Spider-Man the Red Bio-Gem uses its power to make The Chief Examiner try and steal the power of Mysterio given Spider-Man some breath time and getting his energy back to beat Mysterio and watch as The Chief Examiner disappears.

This issue is a good one and is a fun story to break up the normal story line that was going on in the main Spider-Man comic series at the time, but I will also say that it almost feels as if the writers of this issue in this mini series didn’t talk to the ones who made issue # 1. Because now I am not 100% sure if Durgan is The Chief Examiner or if the Red Bio-Gem on his planet is, as both seem to be in control of the dome headed power stealing loony. The Chief Examiner seems to be a little more polite in this issue and less forceful in making Spider-Man get into his portal than he was with The Hulk, but in this one he seems to be almost a ghost as nothing is under the robe making me scratch my head to as how then in issue # 1 Hulk was able to pin him to the ground and make him fear for his life. I kind of am so-so with the idea of the Red Power-Gems being alive and having the Energy Eggs around them as a way to keep them in line.  Yep, if the egg feels they are in danger it blows up killing the gem and it’s power. Spider-Man is as he was in the 80’s, filled with one liners and drama with girlfriends, but I wouldn’t want the web slinger any other way. Mysterio was the perfect  bad guy to use in this issue as he does look a lot like The Chief Examiner making for Spider-Man to have an almost “Who’s On First” kind of moments as he jumps from room to room. We will have to see what Tuskar is all about and if he will play out as a major player in the next issue. The art is by Al Milgrom and has that 70’s style Spider-Man appeal, the cover as well is just taken from the video games cover box. One smart move they did in this issue is they ask the question want to see what happened to Spider-Man’s power once he entered the portal, cause if you do go buy the game! Over all a good issue two that sadly leads us to the final issue in what was to be a 12 issue mini series.

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So The Chief Examiner has collected the powers of The Hulk and Spider-Man but can he now get the powers of members of the Fantastic Four? Lets read issue # 3 and find out!

Questprobe 3

Questprobe # 3   **1/2
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     Marvel Comics    #3 of 12

Johnny Storm and his blind girlfriend Alicia Masters return to the Baxter Building the base of The Fantastic Four to retrieve some books but while their they get a visit from The Chief Examiner who wants Storm’s powers! Johnny Storm flames on and turns into The Human Torch just in time to fight some robots that are being controlled by The Examiner who has taken over all of the electronics in the Baxter Building. After destroying many of the robots Human Torch is sprayed with water and tuned back into Johnny Storm and he and Alicia try and escape as The Chief Examiner still is forceful that Torch goes through is portal so he can have his power! Johnny and Alicia get onto a secret elevator to try and escape and give Johnny time to dry off to become Human Torch again, meanwhile She-Hulk has returned home from grocery shopping and rushes to Johnny’s aid as The Chief Examiner forces them out of the Elevator he uses a fantasticar to try and kill She-Hulk who knocks it away and it bounces off the wall and heads towards Alicia Masters and Human Torch rushes to save her from being crushed just as The Chief Examiner places his portal in front of them tricking him into going through and stealing the power of the Human Torch and poof he’s gone and they are all safe.  The Power-Gem during this time also overhears that Durgan wants the help of Tuskar to gain more superpowers and to stop the Black Fleet. The Chief Examiner then pops up onto the alien planet that The Thing is on after the events of the Secret Wars and uses a twisted version of The Baxter Building to trick him into going through the portal and stealing his power.

This third issue is good but not nearly as good as the first two issues in the series and almost seems like a filler issue that has a touch of rush feeling. The first target is The Human Torch who The Chief Examiner tricks into getting into the portal by placing it between him and Alicia who was in danger, his intent to kill She-Hulk shows that the character is really at odds with being controlled by The Power Gem who is starting to really be the main villain of the series. It’s clear that The Human Torch is the main focus hero of this issue as the second target The Thing’s brief moments at the end of the issue is kind of a waste and not nearly as interesting as all the others who have been tricked before him. Weird enough as well is the fact the main story of Durgan also seems to be a second thought in the issue, making this one that’s kind of bland to talk about so lets just go ahead and wrap it up shall we. I will also say its odd that The Chief Examiner didn’t want to try and steal the powers of She-Hulk instead his first thought is to try and kill her, I am sure her power on top of Hulks and The Things would make him even more powerful and a force to be reckoned with.  This issues art is done by Ron Wilson and is clearly a Fantastic Four style art. Cover is like the game same as the others and I must say while again a fun read it was also very lackluster and lost the “epic adventure” feel that the other two issues had.

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It’s truly a shame that this mini series and video game series was cut so short as they had so many more Marvel heroes that could have been made into both.  Just imagine this series continuing not only with the already planned X-Men but also Captain America, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Iron Man and Thor to name a few. I truly feel that Marvel let all the fans down of the comic mini series and the video game series by just stopping the story arch before anything was really settled. But I guess that truly was the Marvel way just stop production on series without a second thought about their fans. So next month is September, and it will be the kick off to Rotten Ink’s second Halloween update that will go up on October 31st. For those who remember last year we took a look at comics based on Hammer Horror films well this year will be a little different and something I am super happy to bring all you friends and readers. But our next update will be a secret but I will drop you a giant hint when I say he hates New York! So until then think about it, plus play a video game and read a comic or two.

Horror Host Icon: Dr. Freak

Ohio is a cesspool of creative media and it’s the mecca of horror hosts as the state has showcased such talents as Ghoulardi, Dr. Creep, The Ghoul, The Cool Ghoul, Baron Von Porkchop and so many more. But Ohio also spawned “The Worlds Youngest Horror Host” Dr. Freak! What a great gimmick being the youngest horror host to date, and while many hosts have their kids help on shows, Dr. Freak made and starred in his own show he called “Cult Theater” at the age of 12, and this set him apart from the rest of the youth in hosting at the time. Growing up I watched a lot of public access shows like Moraine Playhouse Theater, A. Ghastlee Movie Show, Media Only, New Shock Theater and Eat More Carp, and I can remember seeing this strange kid with a white lab coat on many of the shows with white grease paint on his face and black grease paint making a thick unibrow.  He even was at many of the Horrorama’s my brother and I attended as well as other events.  If you lived in Dayton in the early 2000’s, than I am sure you had a run in with Dr. Freak! So this update is a quick look at the one and only Horror Host Icon: Dr. Freak.

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Dr. Freak, also known as Freak E. Guy, was a teen ghoul who always wore a lab coat even though viewers never seen him do any thing medical or scientific.  He was a fun loving silly goofball who took joy in hosting cheesy films for the viewers of local access. During his very short time on air hosting Cult Theater, Dr. Freak entertained the masses while hosting some of the best the public domain had to offer and even survived a zombie attack! During this first run Dr. Freak would pop up on other horror hosts shows in the area like Dr. Creep’s New Shock Theater, I, Zombi’s The Witching Hour and A. Ghastlee Ghoul’s Ghastlee Movie Show and spread the word of his Cult Theater.  These appearance helped lock Dr. Freak as a full fledged horror host. I can remember catching his show from time to time and around this time as well I became great friends with the young man behind the grease paint, Henrique Couto, who was a youngster with big ideas and many dreams. Couto, who seems like a little brother to me, around this time also opened up his own film company that he called Couto Films/Freak Productions and began making his own films that he released on DVD and VHS and would sell at horror film conventions. While his first film was called “The Henrique Couto Show Movie,” it was his second feature that would have his film world and his hosting world collide.

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Dr. Freak Vamp Killa was a short 20 minute film made in 2004 that had the young horror host killing a bunch of vampires that were wandering around his hometown causing deaths and destruction because he killed their leader some 5 years back and now the new leader wants this host dead! So armed with wooden stakes and garlic powder cream pies, Dr. Freak swings into action and fumbles and bumbles his way to victory. The film was shot over a weekend and marked Dr. Freak as one of a few horror hosts at the time that were in a film based around them as the character; the other ones that come to mind is Morgus The Magnificent in “The Wacky World Of Dr. Morgus” from 1962 and Elvira Mistress of The Dark in the film of her own name in 1988. The film was put on VHS by Independent B Movie with the DVD-R being made by Dr. Freak in house.  The cover art on the original media release was done by Jason Gilmore and looked pretty dang cool. In an interview some years after the film’s release for Gates Of Gore Dr. Freak talked about two ideas for a possible sequel one that would have him in Da Hood and the other one would have been more of a Kung-Fu film. He also talks about the sales of the film being pretty good.  Sadly the sequel never was in the cards. Dr. Freak also co-starred in a DVD special feature show called “Freak TV” were he went missing and Henrique Couto had to go out and find him. Dr. Freak also had a cameo in the Bob Hinton movie “Joe Nosferatu: Homeless Vampire” where in a graveyard he tries to stake the lead vampire all the while doing a terrible Crocodile Hunter impression. While by no means a movie star, Dr. Freak has made his mark on B-Movie with these appearances.

Dr Freak Vamp Killa

From 2005 on Dr. Freak, while making public appearances and co-starring in others shows from time to time, seemed to be phasing himself out of the world of horror hosting and with only a total of 4 original episodes under his belt.  It became clear that his other side Henrique Couto was wanting to make movies and even music under the name PineappleHead, and by 2006 Dr. Freak was phased out and the character was not seen again….well that is until 2011 when the master of Freak came back to TV to appear on Baron Von Porkchop’s tribute to the late great Dr. Creep, and the one time World Youngest Horror Host shared some stories of working with the Creep and was back home among fellow hosts like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Baron Von Porkchop and Reverend Zealot. This appearance helped spark the hosting bug once more in Dr. Freak who became the host of an event called “Dayton’s Scare-A-Thon” that aired all over the Dayton area public access in 2011 and marked the first new episode of Cult Theater in over 6 years! Even with the time away from the hosting spotlight Dr. Freak didn’t miss a beat as he brought his silly brand of humor to the viewers of this Halloween season event. Then over the course of the last few years Dr. Freak has became a semi-regular returning guest on Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, and he and Baron Von Porkchop have became hosting pals. The character also at this time has changed his look and no longer has the think black unibrow but instead has went for more of a pale face and crazy facial hair. While only one new Cult Theater episode has been made, I have heard rumors that a new one could be in the works in the near future.

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So next I would like to take a few moments and ask Dr. Freak to answer a few questions for all you fine folks who read Rotten Ink, but I am not going to ask 5 questions but 6 cause why not! So I traveled down to his Crypt hideout and waited for a few hours till finally the man showed up so this is my 6 Questions with the one and only Dr. Freak…

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Me: Welcome, Dr. Freak, to Rotten Ink.  My first question has to be what or who got you into hosting and becoming The World’s Youngest Horror Host?

Freak: Seeing Dr. Creep on the New Shock Theater was my sole inspiration in the beginning, other than USA Up All Night he was the only example of horror hosts I had seen at all at that age.

Me: Dr. Creep, a true legend in the hosting world and has inspired many! So out of your first classic episodes of Cult Theater what is your favorite one?

Freak: I think my favorite episode was Night of the Living Dead, because myself and my camera man at the time James were just such big fans of the film, we really just ran with it and had a really fun time making it.

Me: Truly is a great film and a very fun episode of yours indeed to watch, so there is a rumor of a classic episode that is lost any clues what movie you showed and the wacky adventure you got into?

Freak: As awful as it is, I really can’t remember! I was such a young kid back then and we did all kinds of silly gags and videos they sort of run together, but if I ever find anything I wouldn’t keep it to myself for certain.

Me: You always have been a busy ghoul Dr. Freak, and I hope the episode is found someday. So this brings me to my next question with your last New episode being made in 2011 is there any plans for a new episode in the near future?

Freak: You just never know when Dr. Freak will pop up again, but as of right now he is on indefinite hiatus.

Me: So that’s a warning that he is still out there waiting for the word to return! So if you were to host again and could host any film what would you pick?

Freak: I would love to host the original Dawn of the Dead. That would be a blast to do.

Me: Would be interesting to see what ideas you come up with on that film and a great pick, so this brings us to out last question, do you have any advice to future horror hosts?

Freak: Host movies because you love movies and love being in front of the camera. Find people as passionate as you, and go fourth!

Me: Thanks My Ghoul Friend…Wait that sounds odd..Thanks my Pal!

Freak: Anytime! 

I can remember when I was in my upper teens watching Cult Theater episodes on MVCC and enjoying them.  While they were not as well produced as New Shock Theater with Dr. Creep nor zany and crazy like the Ghastlee Movie Show with A. Ghastlee Ghoul, it was a nice third option to enjoy a horror host program on the Dayton, Ohio airwaves. Plus it was always a treat seeing those three hosts at movie screenings or horror conventions showing the bond between them and once more proving that horror hosting is one big strange dysfunctional family. After the Cult Theater episodes aired, they also made their way to DVD thanks to Freak Productions and can still be ordered on the website as can his comeback episode that is also on sale at Game Swap in Kettering.

Cult Theater DVD Collection

So it’s time to write about the episodes of Cult Theater with Dr. Freak I own. I will not be giving them star ratings like I do the comics, but I will break down what he does for the host segments as well as a write up for the film he is hosting that will be taken from IMDB. I want to thank Henrique Couto and Bryan Brassfield for getting me these episodes over the years, and I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed watching and writing about them. So with no more wait, let’s enter the Cult Theater..

Dr. Freak Zombie 4

Cult Theater:  Zombie 4: After Death
Starring – Jeff Stryker & Candice Daly   Not Rated   1989

Host:  Dr. Freak and A. Ghastlee Ghoul sit down in the studio to watch the film Mystery Science Theater 3000 style and cut wise cracks and jokes all the while. Also from New Shock Theater, Reverend Zealot pops in to share a little information out the night’s movie, and by the end A. Ghastlee Ghoul attacks Dr. Freak with peanut brittle and knocks him out, taking over the show for the rest of the episode! By the end Ghastlee is tormenting the boy and gives him a lobotomy, and they wrap the film heckling up.

Movie: A woman goes back to the island where her parents were killed. They had been working on a cure for cancer and accidentally raised the dead by angering a voodoo priest. With the woman is a group of mercenaries and they meet up with some other researchers. They raise the dead again and all hell breaks loose.

Dr. Freak Night Of The Living Dead

Cult Theater:  Night of the Living Dead
Starring – Duane Jones & Bill Hinzman   Not Rated   1968

Host: Dr. Freak is out with his friend when they are attacked by a zombie, and Freak and his cameraman must flee and survive the attack and find shelter in a home. They argue about whether they should stay upstairs or go to the basement, and in the end they get stuck in the basement and then decide to go out and fight the zombies where they are attacked and Freak shoots and kills the undead only after his cameraman dies!

Movie: Barbra and her brother Johnny travel by car from Pittsburgh to the countryside to visit the gravestone of their father in the cemetery. Out of the blue, they are attacked by a strange man and Johnny is murdered. Barbra runs and releases the brake of Johnny’s car since the keys are in his pocket, and flees to an isolated farmhouse, where she locks herself inside. Barbra is in shock and soon she finds a man, Ben, who is also escaping from the inhuman creatures and he reinforces the doors, windows and openings in the house. He also finds a shotgun and a radio and they learn that the radiation from a satellite that was returning from Venus has somehow reactivated the brain of the dead. Then they find five humans hidden in the basement: Harry Cooper, his wife Helen and their daughter Karen that is sick; and Tom and his girlfriend Judy. Harry has an argument with Ben, since he believes that the basement is the safest place for them and Harry goes not agree. Along the night, the tension rises. 

Dr. Freak I Bury The Living

Cult Theater:  I Bury The Living
Starring – Richard Boone & Peggy Maurer   Not Rated   1958 

Host: Dr. Freak is giving a tribute to Albert Band, filmmaker and father to Richard and Charles Band, by showing his film as well as showing Fullmoon Entertainment trailers. This also marks his return to TV after some time off, something like 4 years.  He does some silly stuff like steals a kids bike, plugs websites and gets kidnapped in the end of the episode via a red truck!!

Movie:Through a series of macabre “coincidences,” the newly-elect ed director of a cemetery begins to believe that he can cause the deaths of living owners of burial plots by merely changing the push-pin color from white (living) to black (dead) on a large wall map of the cemetery that notes those plots.

Dr. Freak Horror Express

Cult Theater:  Horror Express
Starring: Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee   Rated R   1972

Host: Dr. Freak returns to TV for the Dayton Scare-A-Thon, a half day Halloween marathon event.  In his new hideout, his crypt hangout, the good Dr. makes a drinking game out of every time you see a shot of the train, take a drink. As the episode goes on, he gets more and more drunk and uses dynamite to fix the bad camera feed and spews out goofy jokes and one liners.

Movie: An English anthropologist has discovered a frozen monster in the frozen wastes of Manchuria which he believes may be the missing link. He brings the creature back to Europe aboard a Trans-Siberian express, but during the trip the monster thaws out and starts to butcher the passengers one by one.

While in Ohio Dr. Freak might not be a household name like Dr. Creep or The Ghoul, he still is one of Dayton Ohio’s originals who has entertained the viewers off and on for many years all the while going from the Worlds Youngest Horror Host to a full fledged adult ghoul whose humor and style have changed along with his appearance. Here is to hoping that a new Cult Theater will grace the TV screens again soon, and I’m crossing my fingers the missing episode will be found for us all to enjoy. Thanks to Dr. Freak for not only being a Horror Host but for also spending some time with us here at Rotten Ink and answering 6 Questions for us.  The next Icon update will be about none other than Dr. Creep! And our next update will be all about Questprobe, the Marvel Comic series based around text video games! So until then, support your local Horror Host and watch a horror film or two.

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Ashes To Ashes Burial By Rats

Well this was suppose to be Ghosts of Dracula, but I misplaced the final issue so you get…RATS….. Thousands…. Millions Of Them! All Red Blood! All these will I give you if you only read Rotten Ink! That might not be the exact quote Renfield gave in the 1931 film version of Dracula for Universal Pictures, but it was close. Growing up I liked rodents, and even had two as pets that I got from my neighbor when they were tiny babies when her pet mouse had a litter. They both were little females; one was grey with a white side strip and underbelly who was called Grey Man while the other was just solid white with red eyes and her name was White Man…yeah for some reason my brother and I decided that little female baby mice looked like little people so they got nicknamed men. They were my buddies, and I used to hang out with them all the time as they were well behaved and when letting them run free in my room they never wanted or even tried to escape. Both of them had things they liked to do with me. White Man loved to fall asleep in my lap or on my shoulder while I read comics, books or magazines while Grey Man was all about me playing NES games and would spend time watching the lights on the screen. Both of them were so gentle, and I never once was bitten by either nor was anyone else I let pick them up.  They were perfect pets and well loved by me and my family. They would even take sunflower seeds from your hand and would be so gentle. Sadly as those of you long time readers remember, White Man passed away from a tumor while I was away at camp and Grey Man passed away a short time later. They both lived a long life, and I loved them both equally and miss them as they truly were perfect. I know you’re probably thinking it’s silly that I cared this much for mice, but to me they were just like the cats and dogs I owned, a part of my family. Some time passed before I got another mouse, and when I did I got him from Jack’s Aquarium and Pets.  He was a black and white male named Ben, and yes, he was named after the film that I had seen a number of times on TBS and was even hosted by Grandpa Munster on Super Scary Saturday. Ben was a good little guy.  While moody, he still never bit me and for the most part was chill.  Ben, however, was always trying to escape his cage and would even climb his water bottle and try and push the lid off the cage…he never got away, but man he tried. Ben was very different from Grey and White as he would not sit still for long and only time he would was when he would be on my bed and get warm and fall asleep. After Ben passed away, my next tiny rodent pet was a Hamster called SPG named after the Hamster from the BBC show The Young Ones, and man he was mean and liked to bite even when he was happy! Below are some pictures I took of White Man and Ben, and while a Grey Man one was taken, it was so blurry that it would not scan well.  Sorry, I know these two are bad as well, but I took them when I was a kid.

White ManBen Mouse

In 1995, New Concorde Pictures released a film to cable TV and video called “Bram Stoker’s Burial Of The Rats.”  The film was produced by Roger Corman, the master of the B-movie, and was directed by Dan Golden.  It was based on a story by you guessed it Bram Stoker and adapted to screen by a total of 4 writers. The film follows a young Bram Stoker as he is taken prisoner by a rouge group of female bandits called The Rat Women who are ruled by a flute playing queen and seven white mice whose tails are tied called The King. The twisted tale is to show how and why Bram went on to become of the world’s most famous horror story writers. The film stars Kevin Alber, Adrienne Barbeau, Maria Ford, Olga Kabo and in smaller roles actresses Nikki Fritz and Linnea Quigley who each played Rat Women. Now I can remember this on VHS sitting on the shelf of K&L Video and the poster hanging on the wall of the video store for awhile and always trying to get my brother to rent it because it had Maria Ford in it who I really liked at the time but I will get into that more later.  My brother always shot it down and said that it looked boring and would then go for films like Deadtime Stories or Don’t Go Into The Woods. So it would be years after it’s release before I would see it, and I found the film entertaining and goofy and must say Maria Ford looks fantastic as a warrior woman. The film performed badly with critics and fans, and as of 2014 it has a 4.1 out of 10 stars on IMDB. But I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the film here, as the comics we will be covering from Cosmic are the adaptation of the film. But before we move on we will take a look at some of the lovely actresses that are in this film.

Burial 1Burial Of The Rats VHSBurial 2

Adrienne Barbeau started her career in entertainment in the 1960’s.  After being a Go-Go dancer, she landed some roles in theater in such musicals as Fiddler On The Roof, Grease, The Best Little Whore House In Texas and even a nudie musical called Stag Movie. She left the theater in the 70’s to become a TV star and took roles in such shows as Maude, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, All In The Family and even participated in The Battle Of The Network Stars. Along the way she married horror film director John Carpenter as well as posed for a high selling cheesecake poster that helped spark her rise as a sex symbol and was a topic for drive in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs who helped the actress gain more attention. In 1980 she starred in her first horror picture when she played the lead role in the film The Fog.  She went on to star in many other horror/sci-fi films over the years that include Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Two Evil Eyes, Unholy and Burial Of The Rats. At this time she also took some roles in comedies that went on to become cult classics like Back To School, Father Hood, The Cannonball Run, Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death and Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island. Barbeau at the time of acting in films still do roles on TV with one of her biggest being the voice of Catwoman on Batman The Animated Series in the 1990’s, and speaking of her voice talent she also lent her pipes to a few video games like God of War III, Halo 4 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. As of 2014, Barneau is 69 years old and shows no signs of slowing down as she is still taking work in movies, TV and video games. Barbeau in acting is known for always playing the tough woman who has the take no crap attitude as well as for her large natural breasts. In the film Burial Of Rats, she plays Queen Rat.

Adrienne Barbeau 1Adrienne Barbeau 2Adrienne Barbeau 3

Olga Kabo is a Russian actress and theater performer who at a young age mastered the English language as well as dance and acting as she got her first major role by the age of 15. As she grew up she got more and more roles and became a very popular actress of Russian cinema and was the star in such films as Lysistrara Comedy, Burial Of The Rats and The Ice Runner becoming a sex symbol with these roles. Nowadays, at the age of 46 she spends most of her time acting on stage and still being a popular draw to fans who come to see her perform. In Burial Of The Rats, she plays Rat Woman Anna.

Olga_Kabo 1Olga_Kabo 2 Olga_Kabo 3

In the 1990’s, one woman’s name stood out to me when it came to being in low budget horror and sleaze films and that name also marked another big celebrity crush for me. I first laid eyes on Maria Ford in the 1990 slasher film sequel “Slumber Party Massacre III” where she had darker hair and played the part of Maria. I quickly became a fan of the beauty and began buying her films from local video rental stores with the second film I saw of hers being  “Stripteaser” with many more to follow like “Showgirl Murders”, “Rain Killer”, “Deathstalker IV: Match of the Titans” and “The Unnamable II” to name a few. Something about the skinny blond haired Maria Ford drew me in and I was taken back on just how sexy girl next door she looked. I even got my friend Jason Gilmore to become a fan of hers and by watching her films he also found an actress that he became a fan of named Nikki Fritz. Around this time I would say one my favorite actress in these style of no budget films would be Maria Ford as well as J.J. North and Ariauna Albright, Charlie Spradling, Denice Duff and my top was Tina Krause. I spent so much time and money buying films that had her name on the cover box.  While many were terrible, it was okay because I got to see Maria do her thing and act well even with poor scripts she was given. As I grew older Maria Ford’s roles became fewer and fewer, and the last major one I could remember coming out was one that was released to VHS when I worked at Blockbuster called “Perfect Fit” and that was a dark comedy. Maria Ford also went on to be in a bunch of Cinemax Soft-Core Adult titles and had small roles in many Hollywood films as the cute girl like in “Beethoven’s Fifth” and “The Addams Family Reunion”. She was also on TV with roles on 7th Heaven and The Drew Carey Show showing that Ford had a lot of talent. While over the years her appearance has changed, I still find myself a fan and would love to work with her sometime in my life.  Could you imagine her being in a Baron Von Porkchop episode…that would be epic! In Burial Of The Rats, she plays the lovely Rat Woman Madeleine. Oh and look at these pics below, and see why the young Matt Brassfield fell in love with Maria Ford! Also I want to say that she is not just an actress but she is also a model and dancer.

Maria Ford 1Maria Ford 2Maria Ford 3

From pet rodents to the beauty of Maria Ford, I think we are ready to tackle this comic series don’t you? Now I am sure your wondering why I did not talk about Bram Stoker and his writings, and the simple answer to that is I am going to really cover his career when I take a look at Topps Comics 4 issue run based on the Francis Ford Coppola film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” and to be honest I am really looking forward to that. Before I do I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I also want to think Lone Star Comics for having all three of these issues in stock.  So with no more wait let’s go see what it’s like to be Buried Like A Rat!

Burial Of The Rats 1

Burial Of The Rats # 1   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #1 of 3

In 1854, a woman slits the throat of her abusive husband and flees into the sewers where she finds a nest of young rats and is happy to become their Queen. Years pass and it’s now 1864 as Bram Stoker and his father are traveling by coach when their driver is killed by rats, and they are attacked by hooded figures.  During the attack Bram kills one of the assailants and is knocked out and taken to a castle where he is to be judged by The Queen and as for the father he is left knocked out in the middle of the woods. While captured Bram finds that his two capturers are beautiful woman.  Anna has dark hair and a mean spirit, and Madeleine, who is blonde, seems to have a touch of compassion in her. Bram is sentenced to death by a pendulum that he is tied to and after each woman takes turns hitting a switch with a hammer he is lowered deeper and deeper into a pit that holds blood thirsty rats! Anna has the honor of the first hit and Madeleine is to deliver the last which she does half heartedly sparing Bram’s life! Bram is thrown back into his prison cell, and it’s clear that both the Rat Queen and Anna want him dead but Madeleine seems to want to spare his life knowing that he only killed one of their “sisters” trying to protect his father. It’s clear that a bond is happening between Bram and Madeleine as she brings him his book and even bathes him with a wet cloth, but Anna and The Queen have other plans as they want Bram to come along on a raid with the hope of him trying to escape so that they can kill him! As Bram is being prepared for the raid, his father who is tired and beat up makes his way to help…

The first thing I want to say about this comic is the mood is just right and has a real sleazy Roger Corman feel to it. This issue follows a young Bram Stoker way before he wrote Dracula or any of his other horror stories as he becomes a prisoner to The Rat Queen, a crazy woman who plays a flute that controls the city’s rats as well rules over a group of warrior women. Bram Stoker, who is the main focus of this series, is by no means a man’s man in this issue and in fact is shocked when he shoots one of the hooded attackers and after doing so is quickly beat down. Even if he is no Lone Ranger or Tarzan, I find myself cheering for him to survive this bad situation. Madeleine, who was once a prostitute who was forced into being one when her family was murdered, is still a pure and loving woman who is clearly hiding behind a warrior’s attitude. Anna however has nothing but hate in her heart, as she was once a slave who was beaten with whips by a high-ranking village official  While she is a bad girl, I really like the character who you know is also clearly in love with Madeleine. The Rat Queen is a crazy old bat who gets joy in killing men and bossing rats around.  She is clearly one of those characters that you hope meets a very horrible end. The Rat King is pretty kick butt as its seven white rats whose tails are all locked together.  They all wear crowns and love flute music. I must say that so far this adaptation is starting off right because this first issue is very entertaining and is making me looking forward to the second issue. The art of the comic is great and has most the characters looking like the actors that played them in the film and is done by Francisco Solano Lopez who should have been hired to do many more horror movie themed comics! The cover is just a blown up image taken from the films VHS cover box and the poster used to promote the film. So let’s get back to the story and see if Bram tries to flee on the raid or it he will stay and try to be with the lovely Madeleine.

Burial Of The Rats 2

Burial Of The Rats # 2   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #2 of 3

Bam traveled along with the Rat Women as they entered the village and killed all the priests inside the church stealing all the gold and letting the rats eat the flesh off their victims. Bram leaves a blood smeared note in an open book for his father and heads back to the castle with the Rat Women. Madeleine steals a pen and paper and brings it to Bram in his cell and he starts to write about his time with them and talks of the raid he just witnessed. The next day as Bram is reading his writings to Madeleine, Anna over hears it and reports it to the Rat Queen who sneaks up on this happening.  To Anna’s shock, the Queen likes what she is hearing/reading and allows Bram to continue his book in hopes that when it comes out it will make all men fear them! When Bram and Madeleine are alone they confess their love for one another and make love, but that night Bram also has a nightmare that has everyone on the castle turning into Rat People! At dinner Madeleine brings Bram to the feast and he talks The Queen into another raid to save a 12-year-old girl who was busted for stealing and as punishment was sent to work at the whore house.  Anna is against the raid as she feels it’s to soon after the attack on the church by they go ahead and do it anyway. Bram enters the whore house and looks for the young girl and when he finds her a fat slob of a man is in with her, he deals with the man as Anna and Madeleine make their way into the room via the window and all together they save the young girl and the rats have a feats on the fat mans flesh. The raid does not go off without it’s downsides as the madam of the house runs to the police and a witness sees the women and hears them call Bram’s name! As they flee back to their home Madeleine is captured, and Bram is believed to be the ruler of the Rat Women by the police!

Oh the horror of watching rats eat the flesh off of dying men…no, really it’s a pretty cool scene for this second issue in the adaptation. This issue’s main focuses are the fact Bram’s writings have saved him, and he is in love with one of the Rat Women.  They do another raid too soon but it’s all for a good reason to save a young woman and Bram proves that he will do the write thing and is a huge help in the raid and lastly that Bram’s father has not given up on finding his son alive. Bram in this issue while still not a tough guy like Wonder Man or STEEL he is very smart and uses what little power he is gaining from respect from The Rat Queen to his own advantages. I love the fact that he could have easily tried to escape during the second raid but knew that saving the young girl was the more important thing to do. Madeleine is truly a warrior with a heart and while loyal to her fellow Rat Women love is also on her mind. The Rat Queen while crazy also seems to know right from wrong and in a weird way by this issue you as the reader start to wonder who the real bad guys are, given the fact everyone they have murdered has been a terrible person! Anna is filled with not only hate this issue but also jealousy as its clear she wants the affections of Madeleine and despises the fact Bram is getting it and not her. The issue is filled with more rats eating the skin off men’s bones as well as has Anna blowing the neck off a priest who has been molesting women in the church, all gruesome stuff that the horror comic fan in me was very happy to see. The art once more is done by Lopez and is fantastic, but his time around the cover is a little weak and kind of generic or better yet I should say is good for a pin up but not a main cover. Well at this point we have one more issue to go, and then we will be at the end of Bram Stoker’s adventures with the Rat Women.  I don’t know about you, but I really can’t wait to see how this one ends.  So let’s not waste time and dive right in and hope we don’t get eaten alive by the rats.

Burial Of The Rats 3

Burial Of The Rats # 3   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #3 of 3

The Rat Queen and the Rat Women return to the castle and are happy about the night’s raid, but word comes quick that Madeleine has been captured and that one of the other Rat Women is dead! Bram is upset by this news and so is Anna, and the two argue in front of The Rat Queen.  To prove his loyalty to the Rat Women he must pass two tests to be one of them: the first test is to drink the blood of Anna and the second one will be decided by Anna after they rescue Madeleine.  They all rush off to do so and clash with prison guards and army soldiers alike, but the rats and The Rat Women are successful.  This rescue also has some downsides as Bram saves Anna from her old “master” by killing him before he killed her and thus robbing her of her revenge, and second Anna, unbeknownst to anyone else, knocks out and kidnaps Bram’s father! Back to the castle Madeleine is weak but still gets up to watch Bram’s final test set before him by Anna, to stab and kill his own father! When he refuses Anna pulls out a gun and is about to shoot them both, just as she pulls the trigger Madeleine jumps in front of her man and takes the bullet! Anna is tore up that she just shot the woman she loves so she commits suicide and as this happens the army has shown up and attacks the castle killing many of the Rat Women and even Rat Queen dies when she kills the Captain and breaks her flute causing the Rat King and his fellow rats to attack and kill her. In the end Bram, his father and the body of Madeleine escape the castle that is burning and Bram knows now more than ever he must become a writer.

It’s a love triangle that is built on blood, teeth and romance and sadly we all know that for one person it’s not going to end well…and that person is Bram as the rage of Anna leads to Madeleine’s death and then the raven haired beauty commits suicide.  He is robbed of his love and even revenge. This issue brings the whole story to an end and focuses on the rescue and untimely death of Madeleine and shows what events cause a young Bram Stoker to write his classic horror stories like Dracula. Bram in the issue also shows that when pushed he will fight back and kill if he has to, his love for Madeleine was strong so strong that he was willing to throw away his old life to become a full member of The Rat Women. Madeleine in the issue is pretty much at death’s door from the start as she starts off the issue a prisoner where she is being tortured for answers and when rescued she is weak and then gets shot! Poor woman, all she wanted was true love with her soul mate. Anna is a sad case as she really does love Madeleine, and it’s clear to me as a reader that they had something going on before Bram showed up and stole her away. Plus I feel bad for her because she so wanted revenge on the man who beat her when she was a slave but Bram as well took that away from her. Mr. Stoker, Bram’s father, is kind of just a pawn in the story and while he plays a part in how the story unfolds, he just kind of was a background player in terms of how much impact he had on me. Rat Queen turned out to be all right, and all she really wanted in life was to be free of man’s world where women were treated lower than the rats she commanded.  It’s a fitting end for her as she is eaten alive by her King and all the other rats she once commanded. By the end of this issue, it seems as if the men of the evil world around them win as the castle is on fire, the Queen is dead as are many of the other Rat Women making one truly wonder if the right side won. The art by Lopez captures the feeling of the low budget film so well you almost wish the series would have continued with more adventures of young Bram Stoker and what’s left of the Rat Women.  The cover on the last issue as well is pretty good and reminds me of some of the covers used by Eternity for their comic based on The Puppet Master films. Over all this series held true to the film and was entertaining enough that it kept my interest during every issue. If you’re a fan of Bram Stoker, horror comics, the film itself and even comics like Red Sonja and Kull The Conquer then I would say you should check this comic series out. Below are some samples of the artwork used in the comic.

Burial Art 1Burial Art 2Burial Art 3

The three issue comic adaptation of the low budget Roger Corman film is packed with blood and gore, a pretty interesting story and characters that are entertaining and capture your interest and for that Cosmic Comics gets a big thumbs up from this comic reader for being able to turn a so-so film into a enjoyable comics. The one thing that is off is while the characters of Madeleine and Anna look like actresses Maria Ford and Olga Kabo, the Rat Queen looks nothing like Adrienne Barbeau as in the comic she looks like a 99-year-old hag! Cosmic also did a few more series based on Roger Corman films like Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race, Caged Heat and Rock N Roll High School and at some point on here I will be sure to cover them.  I would also like to dedicate this update to Roger Corman for being the man when it comes to making and producing B-Movies and to Maria Ford for being a very underrated actress. So next update I am thinking we will take some time away from comics and do another Horror Host Icon, and this time around I think I am going to take a look at the world’s youngest Horror Host Dr. Freak! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure you’ll learn a thing or two about this zany horror host! So until then read a comic or two and enjoy a B-Movie!

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How I Spent My Summer At Camp Candy

Summertime is upon us.  That means lots of sun, swimming pools and vacations for many of us Americans and fine people from around the world, and after the snow filled winter we had this year I am sure many of you like me are ready for some sun time. When I was in school, summer break was also the thing that got me from grade to grade, knowing that at some point I would have a few months off to do what I wanted to do and not be stuck in a classroom. So in this blog update we are going to take a look at some of the fun stuff I used to do in the summer as well as places I have been including camp during school! The comic series we will be looking at is based on the Saturday morning cartoon called Camp Candy that featured the comedian John Candy as the lead counselor and owner of the camp. But first I would like to talk about my first time going to Kings Island with my Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Debbie when I was just a young lad. Most summers my family would not go on a vacation and a lot of time was spent at our house running the streets with friends or just visiting our grandparents. Sometimes my Dad would shock us and take us to Fantasy Farm or Americana Amusement Park in Middletown and those were always fun times, but mostly it was stay at home kind of time. I will admit it was pretty embarrassing when I would return to school and the teacher would have us stand up and tell the others what we did over the summer and I would hear others talk about trips to Florida, Disney World and Kings Island and all I got to do is play Nintendo and toys at my house…pretty sad indeed. One summer however my Dad got some tickets to Kings Island from his work at Cub Foods and gave them to my brother Bryan and I, and instead of him and my mom taking us they gave the other two pairs to my Uncle Johnny and my Aunt Debbie who acted as our guide to the theme park. Before we went to the top amusement park in Ohio, we talked to our cousins Dino and Norman and they filled us in on the must experience rides that included The Vortex, King Cobra, The Racer, The Beast and one of the newest coasters at the time The Adventure Express. I can remember the night before going to the amusement park sitting in my bed restless with my mind racing with all the excitement of what was to come the next day, images of ridding a roller coaster with Yogi Bear and stories of all the large hills and fast speed told to me by Norman echoed in my brain, for this summer of 1992 I was going to Kings Island!  

Kings Island Logo

The next morning my brother Bryan and I were up early and ate up our cereal super fast and waited for our Aunt and Uncle to come pick us up, they arrived right on time and I can remember rushing to get into the car with them so that my adventure of the summer could start happening. On the ride to the park I can remember my Uncle playing Ozzy Osborne’s Dairy Of A Madman from a cassette tape and he and my aunt asking us what we were looking forward to the most. For me I really was looking forward to The Adventure Express and Hanna-Barbera Land because I was a fan of Scooby-Doo and Yogi and looked forward to the rides based around them. I can remember my brother looking forward to The Beast and The Racer as the idea of the backward coaster peaked his interest. As we pulled into the huge parking lot my excitement sky rocketed as I could see the entrance to the park and knew that so much fun rides awaited me inside. As we gave the attendant our tickets and walked in I was amazed as I seen the Eiffel Tower and fountains and knew that I had finally made it to Kings Island! That day was a blast we started the day off by riding The Racer and while I rode the one that went forward by brother rode the one that went backwards, we also rode The Beast and for the first time I became breathless as the speed and the excitement literally took my breath away! The Adventure Express was epic and fun and while not a fast coaster it still was a great gimmick of riding inside of caves with talking stone statues and parts that sprayed you with mist. We rode The Smurf Enchanted Voyage Boat ride that our Mom had ridden before and hyped up and it was a pretty fun experience as was White Water Canyon a boat ride that makes you feel as if your traveling on what its named after. We rode many rides that day and I even got to see the likes of Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound wondering around and taking pictures with kids and adults. I did not get to ride The Vortex as the line was to long that day and we skipped the King Cobra cause we heard it racked ya if you were a male, I know now that it was false but as a kid you believe those type of rumors. We stayed until the park closed and watched fireworks and then headed back home, I must say my Aunt and Uncle were a blast and allowed us to be kids and have the fun we wanted…and while we went to the park a number of times after mostly with Dino and Norman and for me as I grew older with my girlfriend at the time Jennifer this first time will forever remain the most special. I have to admit that the next day after going my legs felt like rubber from all the walking and running we did that day but boy was it worth it! Oh I guess I should pick my favorite ride that first time going and it would have to be hands down The Beast as it was the one that not only took my breath away but also is the one that always stuck in my mind. 

Vortex LogoThe Beast LogoKing Cobra Logo

While during the summer I did get to go to Amusement Parks the one thing I never did get to do was go to Summer Camp and for some reason I always kind of wanted to thanks to the Friday The 13th films. But I did get to go to camp during school when I was in the 6th grade to a place called Camp Joy and let me tell ya all about the wonders of this place. Before I was set to go to Camp one of my pet mice named White Man was sick with a giant tumor that had grown on the side of her tiny body, I hated to leave her in such bad shape but I knew she was in great hands as my Brother, Mom and Dad were all going to look after her. The day of camp I had my bags packed and was ready for some fun in the woods as I was dropped off at the school and got onto the bus that was driving us there. When getting to the camp I was pretty hyped as I loved the idea of having fun in the woods with fellow classmates and boy did we do just that! We did all types of fun stuff and even pulled small animals from the near by stream to be studied and thats when the full outdoor fun ended for me as while carrying a bucket of water I tripped going down some stairs and spilled the water and sprang my ankle bad! By hurting my ankle not only did I heart my pride but it also kept me from doing the wire walk an activity that had you rope walking high above the ground as well as a few other activities. By our last day I was limping around enough to do an activity that had us acting as slaves and escaping via the underground railroad. For me being hurt the main fun came in the cabin were at night we told horror stories, made up what ifs using Jason Voorhees, talked about girls from our grade we liked and we even went into the bathroom and played Bloody Mary in the mirror…you know the legend of Bloody Mary right? Well if not its a legend about a witch who is trapped in the mirror world or in some cases Hell that when you say her name 5 times in a mirror in a dark room she will appear in the mirror infront of you with blood pouring down her face and in some cases is said to pull you into the mirror. I can remember doing this and all us guys trying to spook the others. While I was hurt at camp I still had a blast, but sadly when I returned home White Man lost her battle to the tumor…But I would say if you have kids I would say send them to camp at least once cause I am sure they will have a fun time.  

Camp Joy 1Camp Joy LogoBloody Mary

On Halloween 1950 comedian John Candy was born in NewMarket, Ontario Canada and with this a comedy legend was delivered to the world. Candy began is acting career in 1973 by starring in a tiny uncredited role in the film“Class Of ’44” and throughout the 70’s took roles in film and TV like “The Silent Partner”, “90 Minutes Live” and his most popular role on TV “SCTV” (Second City Television) Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live. But it was not till the 80’s when Candy became the big star with roles in “1941”,“National Lampoons Vacation”, “Stripes”,“Splash”, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Plans Trains and Automobiles”, “Great Outdoors”, “Space Balls” and “Uncle Buck”to name a few all these films made Candy a top name in comedies and an A-List actor. Even in 1989 Candy became a cartoon star with the Saturday morning toon “Camp Candy”. But sadly the 90’s were not as nice to him and while roles in “Home Alone” and “Cool Runnings”kept his star shining he also had a string of flops at the box office like “Nothing But Trouble” and “Once Upon A Crime”making the actors roles coming fewer inbetween he changed it up and took more dramatic roles in films like “Only The Lonely”and “JFK”. His big comeback to comedy film was called “Wagons East!”were he co-starred with Richard Lewis that was released in 1994, but sadly while doing this picture Candy died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Some cool things you might not have known about the comedian are the following Candy won Emmy’s for his writing on SCTV in 1981 &1982, Candy hosted SNL on a 1983 episode, Candy was asked to play Louis in the film Ghostbusters but could not meet eye to eye on how the character should be played so the role went to Rick Moranis, he did however make a cameo in Ray Parker Jr’s Music Video for the hit song from the film. Candy alongside Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky and racehorse owner Bruce McNall owned a Canadian Football team called the Argonauts, his crypt is bellow fellow actor Fred MacMurray best know for his role in the TV Show My Three Sons in California. I can remember growing up and loving John Candy in movies and I cant tell you how many times I have watched The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck! While he may be gone his body of work lives on thanks to DVD, VHS and TV.

Great Outdoors PosterJohn CandyUncle buck Poster

Back in the 1980’s Saturday Morning Cartoons was a huge deal and almost every major station tried to out due the others to get kids to watch their station over the others. NBC in 1989 started to air a cartoon called Camp Candy that followed comedian John Candy as he was the head councilor and owner of a Summer Camp that was always in danger of being closed down by a rich business man named Rex DeForest III who wanted to use the land to develop condos and malls. Candy was joined my Nurse Molly and a handful of boys and girls and they would get into all types of silly adventures. The series ran for a year on NBC and lasted a total of Twenty Seven episodes before going into syndication were thirteen more episodes were made. The series last major TV airings was with reruns on Fox Family in 1998, and with the syndication episodes sometimes live action John Candy skits were attached. I watched Camp Candy when it aired originally and in fact I never missed an episode if I could help it and was a pretty bug fan of it’s simple and fun storyline. Even when Marvel Comics released the short 6 issue run based on this cartoon I got myself a copy of issue # 1 at Big Bear! The series never did get a DVD release and only a few episodes ever came out on VHS making this cartoon series one that you would have to find on the Grey Market in order to enjoy again, it’s a shame that this series never did get the fandom it deserves and even in school I remember very few kids talking about it, but the ones that did were big fans like myself I can remember my friend Jeremy Patton really liked it allot. And I can’t stress enough to the big broadcast stations when I say bring back Saturday Morning Cartoons to the glory it once was and stop just showing terrible Disney Network reruns and terrible Pokemon clone cartoons and bring back the verity and life to that magical time of the week when kids should be putting down their Iphones and Tablets and watching quality cartoons and shows. 

Camp Candy Toon 1Camp_Candy Toon 2Camp Candy Toon 3

So before we move on to the comic series brought to us by Marvel, I should introduce the characters to those of you readers who never got to watch this fun cartoon when it aired. The adults at the camp are John Candy, the lead counselor and owner of the camp. John has a good soul and will do whatever he can to entertain and protect the kids even if he is a coward and not that bright. Nurse Molly is the camp’s nurse and mother figure to the kids; one could even get the slight hint that while she is annoyed with John at times, she also seems to almost have a crush on him. These two are the only adults shown in the cartoon and makes one wonder just how the two of them run the whole camp!

John CandyNurse Molly

The boys of the camp are as follows: Rick is the blonde haired cool kid who is the popular one, Iggy is the tall nerdy type with glasses and is super smart but is also a hypochondriac and last but not least is his little brother Binky who, while short in size, is always ready for adventure. Those are the boys who are attending Camp Candy.

RickIggyBinky

As for the girls attending Camp Candy, it goes as follows: Vanessa is the rich spoiled brat who is into fashion and looking good. Alex is the tomboy who has red hair and loves sports, and last is Robin who is all into nature and saving the animals of the forest. The girls and the boys get along well besides Vanessa, who is the one who gives everyone grief.

VANESSAALEXROBIN

The bad guy of this cartoon was Rex DeForest III, a short man with lots of money and ideas that always have Camp Candy out of business and the land his to develop into condos. His assistant is Chester, a dim witted goofball who goes along with whatever his boss tells him to do. While they always have plans, they of course never win.

REX DEFOREST IIICHESTER

Camp Candy inspired very little merchandise and had no toys or video games made based on it.  Besides the Marvel/Star Comics series, the only other stuff I can think of is a plastic lunch box, VHS tapes of selected episodes and later t-shirts made by fans. It makes you wonder why some company didn’t turn out some cool things for fans of the show.  I mean it would have made a perfect NES game where you played as John and had to rescue the kids from Rex. This poor underrated show has gotten no DVD release and had very little push for other merchandise even in its prime! So if you’re looking for Camp Candy goodies, they are few and hard to find. 

Camp Candy Bear LogoCamp Candy LunchboxCamp Candy VHS

So are you readers ready for Camp? I have my backpack packed with all the stuff I need including some comics and Tiger Electronic Handheld Games, and I have my Incredible Hulk sleeping bag rolled and tied so I think we are ready to enter the cabin and see what Camp Candy has to offer! I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. I should thank Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock, and I really look forward to reading issue one again as I can remember buying it when it first came out at Hearts and really liked it! So no further delay, let’s dive in shall we.. 

Camp Candy 1

Camp Candy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #1 of 6

John Candy is tricked by that no good Rex DeForrest III into believing that he owes 5 thousand dollars to keep the camp safe, and Candy who had proof the camp was paid up lost the papers…well his campers did. Candy doesn’t have the money to pay for the “balance” owed and is bummed out as the camp is set to close the following day, but during the last night around the campfire, Candy tells a spooky story about Headless Harry, a man who found a giant gold nugget in a cave and then left it behind to play basketball with some Native Americans.  When the basketball rolled out of the cave, a witness thought it was his head. Rick gets the idea that in the morning they should go and check the cave for the gold to use to save the camp. Rex and Chester decide to follow Candy and the Campers to make sure they don’t find money to pay for the fake bill, and Chester hides in the cave and scares them away once they find the giant gold nugget, but Candy catches on and uses his own trick to spook Chester away and he calls in an expert to look at his gold. Sadly the gold nugget is fools gold, and just when it looks like the camp is doomed, a tabloid news reporter pays Candy that amount for his story of Headless Harry and his “meeting” with the legend! 

This issue throws in the spooky camp legend around a plot that is very similar to the film “Ernest Goes To Camp,” about a rich butthead wanting to build on the land of the camp. John Candy is a total goof in this issue and seems not to be bothered that his own campers are the ones who lost the papers when they came into his cabin to find paper to use to make a fake skunk and to draw on, but to be honest the fact that he does not mind is what makes me really connect with this cartoon. Candy is very likeable, and I have a feeling he will be done right through out the series. The campers don’t fully get to shine in this issue and while bits of their personalities do, I have a feeling that as we go along each camper might get spotlight. Rex and Chester are those kind of bad guys with one smart one and one goofy one who play off each other and come up with schemes to try to get what they want. The issue is broke into two stories with the first being the longer main story and the second is a quick story thrown in to fill pages. The art in this issue is done by Howard Post, and his style is great for this type of comic based on a cartoon.  The cover is also well done and eye catching. Over all, while this is not ground breaking, it’s still and average fun comic.  Plus it was nice re-reading this issue after all these years! So let’s move on to issue 2 and have more fun at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 2

Camp Candy # 2   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #2 of 6

John Candy is preparing Camp Candy for the safety inspector who is on her way the next day. Rex and Chester hear this and know that if the camp gets so many marks for being unsafe, it will be closed down and leave the land open for him to buy. Rex and Chester dress up and join the camp as a father counselor and his daughter and cause issues so the camp will fail, and fail it does when the flag poll falls on the inspector, the tree house falls apart with her inside and a grizzly bear in one of the cabins chases her from the camp. Before she closes the camp, she allows Camp Candy to join in on the big canoe race among all the surrounding camps and during this Rex and Chester, who are forced as their fake characters, take the wrong path and are about to drown but Candy comes to their aid and this impresses the inspector who allows the camp to stay open. 

Yet another issue that holds the charm of the cartoon and still holds some of that “Ernest Goes To Camp” spirit making this a fun read and perfect for these warm summer nights. Candy in this issue is still a loveable goon who takes pride in his camp and really seems to care that his campers are having a good time.  The one thing that you have to question about the safety of the camp is the fact Candy allowed two fake people who were really his arch enemies to work for him without even checking backgrounds, makes you wonder if Jason Voorhees wearing hockey mask and all wanted a job, would he hire him on the spot? The campers once more take a back seat to the comic comedy and are very much background players. Rex and Chester have the same chemistry they had the last issue with greed being their driving force. The second story in this one deals with a moose and is pretty standard filler stuff. Howard Post once more did the art and once more it looks good.  I should also say Post is doing the main story art and not the back up story. Pretty good standard issue that makes me want to read the third in the series.

Camp Candy 3

Camp Candy # 3   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #3 of 6

Rick’s cousin Trooper is at a nearby camp called Camp Kickboot, and he is feeling like Campy Candy is for nerds as they don’t do half the militant stuff the other camp does. John Candy takes all his campers to visit the camp and finds that its run like a boot camp and its counselor Nayles is like a drill sergeant. During the visit it’s set up that the two camps the next day will play a game of capture the flag to show which team is better.  The Kickboot Campers are hyped as Candy Campers want nothing to do with it! If any camper or counselor gets hit with whipped cream that means they are taken prisoner and must sit out. The next day Binky runs off with the Camp Candy flag to try and win the game as Kickboot makes short work of John, Iggy and Vanessa, and just as they are about to put their flag on Camp Candy’s poll, Rick has climbed the poll and whip creams the whole Kickboot team! Binky makes it to Camp Kickboot and wins the game for his team. Oh yeah, Rex and Chester try to get involved with a real tank shooting fireworks at Camp Kickbutt.  This ends badly as always.

This is a fun issue that reminds me of the show “Hey Dude” when they played capture the flag against each other. Rick takes a front seat in this issue, and while a prankster at heart, he still tries to live up to the macho image of his cousin who he thinks is having more fun at his camp. Of course in the end Rick shows that his camp is the best and kids should be kids and have fun. John Candy is as goofy as ever and once more has pride in his camp and campers and even gets them involved in a “war game”, still a very likable character. Rex and Chester in this issue are a waste and to be honest should not have even been in this issue as they really added nothing to the story. Nayles and his campers are kind of mean and take pleasure in breaking stuff and have an almost bully aspect to them.  So it’s nice to see them lose by being outsmarted at their own game. Plus this is the first issue that had only one story, and to me that’s a good thing as this story was more fleshed out, well minus Rex’s part. The pencil art was done once more by Howard Post, and to me this guy is great at doing kids comics of this style! The cover is cheesy fun and also with this issue we mark the half way mark of this Marvel/Star series.  So far I will say it’s a solid and entertaining kids comic series so let’s get into issue # 4!

Camp Candy 4

Camp Candy # 4   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #4 of 6

It’s open house day at Camp Candy and all the campers’ parents are on their way to visit their kids, but this year instead of showing them boring stuff they made or collected they decide to build an amusement park for them to enjoy. Binky builds a toy horse ride, Iggy builds the worlds lowest roller coaster, Vanessa’s is a house of mirrors, Rick’s is a surfboard on wheels ride that spins around fast, Alex built a fitness ride were the kids are carried in wooden boxes by her dad and Robin has a ride a grizzly bear ride! While preparing for the parents, Binky wants his ride more scary and Rex and Chester dress as workers claiming that John hired them to help. The plan is to make the ride so scary and unsafe the parents won’t trust John and the park will close so Rex can buy it. When the parents arrive all is going well and as Binky is taking his mom to his ride, Chester jumps on it before his mom can ride it and Binky jumps on to stop him, but Chester being a moron, he forgot the track was not complete and that they are headed straight for a cliff! John sees they are in danger and jumps on the wheeled surfboard to try and stop them, and when Rex hears the tracks are incomplete, he rushes to try and help as well. In the end Binky checked his ride early in the morning and placed safety rafts at the end so Chester, John (who jumped on to try and stop it) and himself are all safe and to payback the damage they did. Rex and Chester have to also carry kids in the wood boxes at Alex’s ride. 

It’s cheesy rides and danger all around in this issue as families take turns riding grizzly bears and a toy horse roller coaster almost leads to deaths! Binky gets to shine in this issue, and he is your typical 5 year old kid who wants his ride scary, but who also in the hero by knowing safety comes first and places the rubber rafts down. John is also brave in this issue as he risks his life and safety to save Binky’s and Chester’s all while riding a surfboard with skateboard wheels. The rest of the campers are given little to do as are the parents but yet they all fit in like a glove, adding to the overall. Rex in this issue does not think out his plan very well, and his worse mistake is that he trusted Chester to be in charge on this project. Like the prior issue, this is one long story with the filler story cut out of the issue, and again I must stress I like one story better than two in this series. The best part about this series so far is that it’s stayed steady and has not lost any steam, tho it could also be said that by this point it should also be gaining steam so it’s kind of a catch-22. Howard Post once more does the art and once more does a fine job.  So with that let’s get to issue # 5.

Camp Candy 5

Camp Candy # 5   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #5 of 6

John Candy is taking his campers on a field trip to the camp he grew up going to and speaks highly of the head counselor named Hercules who was so strong and brave. Well when they get to the camp, it’s a ghost town and the cabins are run down and Hercules now is an old man with no campers to look after and worse he has Rex DeForrest II, the father to the III, coming to take his camp away and turn it into a land fill! Rex the II and Hercules make a bet that if he can get to the top of a nearby mountain and set camp that Hercules can have the camp site for as long as he lives. John and the Campers help Hercules who proves in the end all he needed was some joy as he makes it to the top and wins the honor of the camp.

This issue is a fun one.  While not as good as the past 4 issues, it still was entertaining and held the Camp Candy charm. Taking John and the Campers away from Camp Candy was a smart move and allows them to be shown out of their environment and in a new camp trying to help an old man. Hercules is a fun crazy old coot character who still has it even after all these years, and while he is strong willed and physically strong, it’s clear as day where John got a lot of his counseling skills. Adding the dad of the Rex we have all grown to dislike is cool, but really also just made me wish they would have added some sort of new butthead who wants to run a camp out of business. The issue goes back to having two stories, and the second one is about them camping and Binky being the man, more filler stuff really. Howard Post is still doing the art and it still looks good for this kind of comic book. I will also say that this is the first issue not to say “Star Comics Presents,” and I should also point out when the little box that says that was places in an issues it looked like a bad cut and paste job, think glue stick on paper kind of stuff. So let’s get to the final issue here at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 6

Camp Candy # 6   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #6 of 6

A gorilla has escaped from the circus and is on a path to Camp Candy. John does not know this and takes his campers on a nature walk as Rex and Chester come up with a plan for Chester to dress like a gorilla and scare off the campers so you guessed it, he can buy Camp Candy to turn the land into condos. But of course the real gorilla shows up, and the high jinks kicks into high gear. In the end the Gorilla finds his way back the circus while driving a car with Rex who thinks it’s Chester in the outfit! There are three other smaller filler stories in this issue as well, and they are just your typical short subjects.

The final issue loses a little steam as the first of four…yes four stories is the best one and for some reason the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking about Yogi Bear and how this story would have been perfect in a Yogi Bear comic or cartoon. The gorilla on the loose who knows tricks and can drive a car is pure cartoon stuff and adds to the fun theme of the Nature Walk. Neither John nor the kids are the main focus of the issue as they all share about the same importance to the story. One thing I must say is that Rex and Chester being in every issue blabbing about owning the land Camp Candy sits on was wearing thin and new characters should have been added to make more challenges for them all to have to get past. I mean the only other bad guy in the series was Rex’s dad who has the same motives for another camp’s land. The other three stories once more are just filler and that’s a shame when the main story of the escaped Gorilla should have been more fleshed out and given more panels. Howard Post did the art and wrote the main story and did a fine job on both.  It’s also a shame that Marvel being who they were back then didn’t even give this series a final issue as this one just simply ends the series. This issue was alright and was a fun adventure with John and the Campers.

Camp Candy Art

It was nice to see that in 1990 a “Star” comic series was released with this 6 issue series based on the cartoon Camp Candy.  While I would like to think they were just shutting down Star for a re-launch that would have seen more originals and more IPs and this comic was just caught in the middle of that transition, when to be honest I am sure it all came down to when the license for this cartoon was signed over to Marvel it was under the Star branch so they just cut and pasted the logo on the first page of each issue to hold true to that original contract. I found this comic series to be silly and good solid reads that held very true to the source material making it a true treat for a person like me who grew up watching the cartoon. But while this update we had fun at camp, the next update we will be visiting Dracula’s Castle as we take a look at Eternity’s mini series “The Ghosts Of Dracula”! So make sure to join me then and bring some garlic just in case.  So until next time enjoy the great outdoors, go to camp and read a comic or two.

ghosts of dracula logo

Who Are You? A Former CSI Fan Looks Back on the IDW Comics

Greetings, Inketeers!  Juliet once again humbly reporting for duty as your guest writer.  Yes, the promise and the threat have become reality, and despite my prior ramblings on fandom and shipperdom in my X-Files update, Matt’s invited me back to regale you with more of my ramblings….I mean, review the first arc of IDW’s CSI comics.  I was initially a little hesitant to do this one because while it’s easy for me to proclaim my allegiance to the X-files from every hilltop, my fan relationship with CSI is rockier, a bit more complex.  That said, this is actually the perfect time to explore all of that as I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it as of late.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Csi_las_vegas

Before there was Miami, New York, and heaven knows what other cities, there was just CSI.

I suppose I should clarify that when I’m talking about CSI, I’m referring the to very first one that took place in Las Vegas.  The show premiered in the fall of 2000, and I recall thinking the concept looked fun.  However, I didn’t really begin to watch it until the second season was rerun during the summer of 2002.  I wish I could say what made me latch on to the show so intensely.  Yes, it’s got all of the things I like in a show, but to be honest, I think I may have been having some separation anxiety as the X-Files series finale had just aired that spring.  So, in essence, I was on the fandom rebound.

Look, those last few seasons were rough, but you guys didn't have to leave me....

Look, those last few seasons were rough, but you guys didn’t have to leave me….

And rebound I did, with the intensity anyone just getting out of a nine year relationship.  That year, a fellow X-Files fanfic writer and I had started a small fan group on Yahoo.  Given that the show had just ended, the group never really took off in any big way, but it served as inspiration for something that would take off and became a huge part of my life for quite a while, The Graveyard Shift.

I'm kind of surprised any of our graphics were still floating around the internet.

I’m kind of surprised any of our graphics were still floating around the internet.

As I said, when I fell for CSI, I fell hard and of course I landed face-first in a ship.  I pretty much immediately decided that my OTP (for you non-shippers out there, that’s One True Pairing, a term I’m pretty sure hadn’t been invented in 2002 or at least I had never heard the whole time I was running the group) were Gil and Catherine.  I was not alone in this ship, by any means, but interestingly enough, the CSI fandom writ-large was fairly divided on ships: half of us were GCR (Gil + Catherine [the now commonplace practice of combining the names for ships: Pam + Eric = Parric, Susan + Jackson = Sackson, etc hadn’t really taken hold just yet]) and the other half was GSR (Gil + Sarah).  If you watched the later seasons of the show, you know how it ended up, and if you didn’t, well, my team lost.  I’ll get to that in a minute.

Crissom? Grillow?  I think I'll stick with GCR

Crissom? Grillow? I think I’ll stick with GCR

For now, back to the Graveyard Shift.  We were a group of fans and the majority of us were also fanfic writers who shipped Gil and Catherine.  What started as a small core group of co-writers who’d watch episodes together while chatting on AOL Instant Messenger grew into a community of hundreds.  But even as the group grew and we made new friends, there was always a great core group, some of whom I still talk to today even though the Graveyard Shift faded away long ago.  For those first couple of years, I was heavily, heavily invested in the Graveyard Shift.  I was the founder and quickly dubbed the “fearless leader,” and thus felt inclined to lead by example, writing a lot, helping others edit and develop ideas and just keeping the conversation going.  Now a days I find myself doing a lot of the same thing on a daily basis, professionally and personally, but at the time, it was extremely taxing, and I’m okay with admitting that I got burnt out really quickly.

You know, if they aren't going to end up together in the show, maybe don't have them hanging all over each other in every promo shot. I'm just saying...

You know, if they aren’t going to end up together in the show, maybe don’t have them hanging all over each other in every promo shot. I’m just saying…

But the other problem is that the show really took a turn for the worse around season 4.  Sure, we got Lady Heather (who I ADORE) every once in a while, but as the seasons went on, the episodes got increasingly predictable, the characters went in weird directions, there were major cast changes and yes, my ship sank.  It was disappointing to say the least.

For the record: Lady Heather and Grissom...totally okay in my book.

For the record: Lady Heather and Grissom…totally okay in my book….though I don’t know what you’d call that ship.

I could go on about how the sort of collapse of the CSI fandom, or at least my turning away from it, had a weird domino effect in terms of my relationship with fandom, etc, but I’ll spare you that for now.

Just look at Lady Heather so I don't have to tell you the sad story of 10 years of writers block and fandom absence.

Just look at Lady Heather so I don’t have to tell you the sad story of 10 years of writers block and fandom absence.

In my time in the fandom, however, the merchandise was just starting to flow.  There were of course DVDs of the first few seasons, and as the show and it’s Miami and New York spinoffs progressed, there were computer games, board games, all of sorts of CSI everything.  The first soundtrack, containing lots of wonderful post-triphop (yes, that’s a technical term) was released, but in my time in the fandom, the biggest development was what I’m going to be reviewing, the CSI comic series.

This was a backboard for a CSI pinball machine...yes, CSI pinball is a thing that happened.

This was a backboard for a CSI pinball machine…yes, CSI pinball is a thing that happened.

In 2003, IDW, who at the time was known for 30 Days of Night, launched its first ever TV tie-in comic with a five part miniseries based on CSI.  The arc was called “Serial,” and was written by Max Allan Collins, a mystery writer who’s also known for his movie novelizations (including the great novelization of the first X-Files film) and TV tie-in novels.  The artwork was done by Gabriel Rodriguez, who went on to be the primary artist on Locke & Key.

593486-95187_20070605051447_large

CSI: Serial # 1  **1/2
Released in 2003    Cover price $3.99    IDW    #1 of 5

It’s nighttime in Las Vegas, and a young woman’s body is found near a dumpster.  Gil Grissom and his team of CSI’s are called in to gather evidence at scene and find something odd, an authentic reproduction of a woman’s bonnet from the 19th century.  Catherine and Warrick focus on the bonnet and the body while Nick and Sarah question potential witnesses and doing so, stumble upon another body, this one in a dumpster.  In the autopsy room, Catherine observes signature stab wounds before she and Grissom are called to yet another scene.  There’s a dead prostitute who’s been stabbed similarly the other victim, and Grissom begins to compare the cases to the murders of Jack the Ripper.

I had completely forgotten that this series had a Jack the Ripper parallel, which is oh so fitting given that CSI was sort of my last big fandom (in which I was actively participating in said fandom), and Ripper Street is basically my first fandom back in the game nearly 10 years later.  This first issue is a bit slow, but there’s a lot of story to set up and the details are compelling enough to make you eager to read the next one and see how the story unfolds.  The artwork is a nice mix of realistic but still comic-esque work and more abstract, painted looking panels for the flashbacks and/or quickshots that were used in the show as transitions between scenes and coming back from commercials.  So speaking of transitions, let’s get moving on to the next issue and see how our Ripper mystery unfolds.

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CSI: Serial #2 ***
Released in 2003    Cover price $3.99    IDW    #2 of 5

We open with Grissom, Catherine and Warrick at the second “Ripper” crime scene.  Grissom begins to explain the parallels with this murder and that of Ripper victim Polly Nichols, but they note that although staged as much, Gail Kelly (the victim) was not actually a prostitute.  Meanwhile, Nick and Sarah begin to piece together the particulars of the dumpster murder victim, who’s likely not connected to the Ripper murders. They discover the woman’s identity and begin to search her apartment for clues finding garbage packs seemingly full of evidence.  Grissom, Warrick and Catherine discover an interesting link to their case; there’s a convention for Jack the Ripper enthusiasts currently happening in Las Vegas.  Warrick visits the convention and of course everyone there denies everything.  The case seems stalled as elsewhere in the city, a prostitute is ready to meet her end at the hand of the faux Ripper.

Now we’re moving right along…sort of.  I recall my mom complaining that CSI was a bit slow for her liking and if the comic is any indication of the pacing of the show, in retrospect, I can see what she means.  It’s super procedural, which is why I think I lost interest in the show after a few seasons.  You can only watch the same things over and over for so long.  Anyway, that’s more of a judgement on the source material than the comic itself.  Despite being a tad slow, it’s very well written, good artwork.  Hopefully the story speeds up in the next issue so let’s get to it.

 

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CSI: Serial # 3 ***
Released in 2003    Cover price $3.99    IDW    #3 of 5

At the scene of the latest murder, Grissom Cath and Warrick talk through the similarities between this case and another Ripper victim, and Grissom observes a change in motive.  Back at the lab, Nick and Sarah are ready to give up on the evidence collected in the garbage bags when Greg shows up with DNA evidence from 3 different sources, one female (the victim) and two male, one of which was related to the victim.  Later that night Catherine follows up on a lead that Gail Kelly,  one of the victims was HIV positive, while Grissom is visited by Hines, the reporter who’s been following the case.  He’s obtained a recording on the newspaper’s tipline that may foretell the faux ripper’s next move.  Meanwhile Catherine’s got a a lead of her own when she tracks Gail Kelly’s whereabouts through some show dogs, but comes up short.  But Nick and Sarah’s lead begins to pan out.  They find the victim’s brother whose DNA they obtained earlier and interrogate him.  He points to the victim’s abusive boyfriend.  The issue ends with Gil and Brass staking out the neighborhood where they Faux Ripper’s been striking. A suspect comes into view, but gets away…though not before leaving evidence on Grissom.

This issue started off a bit slowly and stayed that way, but a lot of things happened.  It’s kind of the nature of a story like this that it’s a lot of nitty gritty details that go toward solving the mystery.  As I get further into this story, I’ve noticed that I have to keep referring back to the earlier comics to keep the victims straight – that’s not a problem I recall having with the show,but maybe it’s because this particular story has a lot happening between the different CSI’s and the victims each paralleling the Ripper story.  That parallel, by the way works really well for the most part, and I’m glad they chose to do this story in comic form rather than on TV.  I think the harkening back to Victorian England would have been rather cheesy in the typical CSI-style flashbacks, but the artwork lends itself nicely to subtle stylistic differences between the modern and Victorian flashbacks.  I’m very much looking forward to issue 4 because I cannot remember how this story ends…or in this case begins to end.  So let’s go!

1096917 CSI: Serial #4 ***1/2
Released in 2003    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    #4 of 5

We open where the last comic left off, at the scene of Grissom’s stakeout gone slightly awry.  Catherine and Warrick arrive on the scene for backup.  Grissom’s concerned that by letting the faux ripper go, they’ve only played right into his hand and encouraged him to follow the real ripper’s pattern.  Meanwhile, Nick and Sarah interrogate the boyfriend of their garbage dump victim, and while he admits to being violent, he points the finger back at the girl’s brother.  Grissom, Warrick and Catherine find another dog hair at the crime scene and one of the cops radios that they’ve got the suspect in their sites, but he once again escapes, this time leaving another body.  Warrick mentions that the man running the Ripper convention is named Tumblety, meaning he may be a distant relative of an original Ripper suspect.  If the case follows the original Ripper pattern, there’s only one victim left before the killer disappears so Grissom prepares to visit Tumblety.

The story’s progressing nicely in this issue, though I’m wondering how they’ll wrap everything up in only more comic without seeming cliched or contrived.  I actually had to do some research on the whole Francis Tumblety thing because his name wasn’t ringing a bell from my prior Jack the Ripper reading.  Tumblety was an actual Ripper suspect, and based on his biography, I’m wondering if he wasn’t a partial inspiration for Jackson on Ripper Street.  Then again, I could probably link just about anything to Ripper Street if I tried hard enough (obsessed much?).  I’m going to keep this one short as I’m eager to get to our conclusion.  So onward to issue 5.

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CSI: Serial #5  ***
Released in 2003    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    #5 of 5

The media is on to the Ripper story, but the good news is that Sarah and Nick have solved the dumpster murder (it was the brother) and can help the rest of the team with the Ripper murders.  They’re sent to Tumblety’s house while Grissom ambushes him at the Ripper convention in the middle of a panel discussion during which he’s passionately defending his ancestor. Grissom interrogates Tumblety, and it’s looking worse and worse as a knife found in his garbage is proved to be the murder weapon.  So….whodunit? Well dear reader, I’m not going to spoil it for you.  You’ll just have to read for yourself.

If you watched early 2000s crime dramas (CSI, Law & Order, Without a Trace), you won’t be terribly surprised by how the ending of this comic series panned out.  It’s not a disappointing ending at all, and probably the first time I read it, it was really cool.  Now, however, having seen it a million times, the ending feels just a bit cliche.  Ultimately though, this is a really good series. The artwork and story are consistently well done and fit the sensibility of the show.  An ad on the back of the final issue reminds me that IDW had already begun advertising a follow up story called “Thicker Than Blood,” which I also own and remember even less of than this first story.  Perhaps I shall grace Rotten Ink once more to tell you all about it at some future point.

In the meantime, Matt will be returning for the next update and taking you on a delicious trek into the woods as you travel to Camp Candy.

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Enjoy The All You Can Eat Blood Fountain Only At Blood Feast

Welcome back my fellow comic and pulp culture lovers.  Today’s update is going to be a quick one and will focus on a master of splatter film director and comic adaptation of one of his films. A few updates back I spoke about “The Godfather Of Gore” being Lucio Fulci, and some of my friends and readers say that that title really belongs to Pittsburgh born independent filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis who used lots of blood and guts in his films over the ages. At the age of 6, Lewis had his father pass away.  A few years later his mom remarried a man, and they all moved to Chicago where he spent most of his youth. Lewis got a masters degree in journalism, became a teacher, ran many radio stations and worked with a friend to make commercials under the company name Lewis And Martin Films. His first venture into film came in 1959 with the film called “The Prime Time” where he acted as the producer.  This film also marked the end of him not directing his own flicks for his company. In the 1960’s Lewis made more adult softcore style films like Living Venus, Bell Bare And Beautiful and Boin-n-g! making him one of the grandfathers of the modern exploitation films. It was in 1963 that he dove head first into blood soaked horror films with the film Blood Feast, and while after this film he made a few more non-horror pictures, none of them have the cult following as films like Two Thousand Maniacs, Color Me Blood Red, A Taste Of Blood, The Gruesome Twosome, The Wizard Of Gore and The Gore Gore Girls to name a few. In 2002 Lewis made a sequel to his first horror film called Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat and showed that even after all these years he still can pack a gut punch that would turn your stomach.  While over the years Lewis has slowed done on making films, the director, who as of early 2014 is 84 years old, still makes a film from time to time with his latest being Zombificador that is due out soon. I have meet Mr. Lewis at Cinema Wasteland Convention some years back and will say that he was very nice and was swamped with people looking to not only get his autograph but also just to have a few moments to talk film with him. While many of his films are hit and miss with me, I have many friends that truly love Lewis and his work, and one thing is for sure, the man helped make micro/independent movies important for the modern horror viewers like George A. Romero did with Night Of The Living Dead in 1968.

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Considered the first splatter film, 1963’s Blood Feast was a bloodbath that viewers enjoyed and the critics hated. The film is about a food cater who kills woman in order to steal body parts to use in rituals of eating human flesh to please an ancient Egyptian Goddess. The film did pretty well at the box office, bringing in $4 million making it some major profit off the small budget of $24 thousand. The film’s reputation earned it a spot on England’s Video Nasty list, making it the oldest film to make the list.  For those who don’t know what Video Nasty list is, I will explain. In the 1980’s video rental was a major deal all over the world and many horror films were made just for this market let alone.  It was the only way viewers could see many of these films from all over the world. Well in England they didn’t want people to watch many of these films, thinking that the violent acts from the movies were bad for people’s brains and could cause major acts of murder and mayhem across their country. They decided to go in and cut many of the films into poor chop jobs and some films were just banned out right.  These films were dubbed “Video Nasties” and were illegal for people to watch uncut and could even cause a police raid of your house if reported you had copies of some of these films. Films like Blood Feast, Zombi 2, Night Of The Demon, House By The Cemetery, Cannibal Holocaust, Mardi Gras Massacre, Faces Of Death, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and so many more made up the list of films that were cut or just banned. Many films never made it to the Video Nasty List but were also confiscated by the police if found in your home such as Dawn Of The Mummy, Hills Have Eyes, Gates Of Hell, Basket Case, Friday The 13th, Night of The Seagulls and many more. While the list and the punishments for watching/owning these films is still around to this day, it’s enforced a little less and viewers have since been able to watch many of the films uncut without fear of punishment. Wow, I just got way off topic of Blood Feast, but here in the US if you’re looking to watch the film, it can be found on VHS and DVD uncut and uncensored.

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The fans wanted it, so in 2002 Lewis revisited his film Blood Feast and made a part two called Blood Feast 2: All You Can Eat. In this film we follow the grandson of the first film’s butcher as he follows in dear granddad’s footsteps. The film got positive reviews from critics but had trouble finding a distributor causing it to sit a year on the shelf before coming out via Media Blasters. The film is filled with more blood, guts and gore causing fans of the original to enjoy every crimson soaked second of it. Unlike the first film, the sequel never got a major theatrical release and really did find its home on the DVD market. The film also marked the first time in 36 years that Lewis teamed up with his old producer of the first film David F. Friedman, making this sequel as close to the original as possible.  The film also turned up the splatter making it a true follow up that tried to one up the film that came before it.

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So while I will credit Lewis with being a master of Splatter and the Godfather of Splatter films, I would still have to stay with the decision that Fulci is the true Godfather Of Gore! And this does not take away from the fact that Lewis is one of the best America micro budget horror film directors of the 60’s and 70’s and his influences on filmmakers is still seen in many of the films of today. I just find that the effects and gore in Fulci films are better done and have more impact on me as a horror fan and viewer.  Nothing Lewis has done in the gore department has stuck with me like the gut puking and eye ball bleeding scene from Gates of Hell or the splinter in the eye effect of Zombi 2. But I guess the main question is, what director had the better comic adaptation of their film? Was it Fulci with Gates of Hell from Xmachina or Lewis with Blood Feast from Eternity? Well I will soon find out as I am about to tackle Blood Feast…But before I do, I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I want to thank the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics and Lone Star comics for having these issues in stock. So with all that, let’s not be late for dinner and find our spot at the table for this Blood Feast.

Blood Feast 1

Blood Feast # 1   **1/2
Released in 1991     Cover Price  $2.50    Eternity Comics    #1 of 2

It’s 1963, and a young woman returns to her home only to be brutally killed and mutilated in her bathtub by a savage killer.  Her leg is taken in the attack, and the police are baffled by who the murder is as he leaves no clues behind. Fuad Ramses owns an exotic Egyptian catering store and is hired to cook an Egyptian feast for a young woman named Suzette, and he is happy to do so as he has a plan that will restrict the goddess Ishtar with the body parts he is taken from the young ladies he is killing.  Yep, he is the killer! Faud is not done with his killing yet as he attacks a couple on the beach and knocks out the guy and butchers the woman stealing her brain and later attacks a woman in her room and cuts out her tongue! The police are at a loss, and Suzette is upset over the murders but is looking forward to her party.  We end the issue with her going to a lecture about Ishtar and the Pharaoh Ramses.

This comic didn’t waste any time and is filled with lots of blood and murder mayhem and 100% captures the spirit and raw terror of the film it’s based on. The plot of this issue builds that the cops are clueless to who is killing young women around town, that Suzette is a smart woman who likes Egyptian history and comes from a well off family and that Fuad Ramses loves an ancient Goddess and is killing woman in a plan to bring her back to life. The plot is pretty simple stuff, right? It’s the fact it is so simple that makes the whole comic work so well it’s clearly not about plot as it’s about shocking murders. Suzette, who is clearly the lead, is not given much of character development and is hardly shown in the issue, but you know that she is going to be a major player in the second issue. The cops are trying to hard to crack the case of who is killing the woman, but are pretty much clueless and useless. Fuad Ramses is one evil man who goes into a craze when he butchers woman and selectively harvests parts of their bodies.  He reminds me for some reason of Jack The Ripper mixed with Norman Bates of Psycho. Over all Ramses is a great movie slasher that transferred to comics really well. The comic is printed on very cheap paper and the issue I have had ink bleed really bad on many pages, but I can’t hold it really against a company that was smaller and competing with Marvel and DC. The cover I have is called “The Graphic Cover Version” and I will say that it’s pretty bad and really cheapens the comic with a terrible shock image that’s a poorly blown up picture still from the movie. The art is great independent 90’s comic stuff and is done by Stan Timmons & Mike Matthew and for a black and white comic, they are really able to make the gore pop out. This first issue is a solid film adaptation and really makes me looking forward to reading the second issue and seeing just how well the comic series will look and translate.  So let’s get to it cause it’s time for that Egyptian Feast!

Blood Feast 2

Blood Feast # 2    **1/2
Released in 1991     Cover Price  $2.50    Eternity Comics    #2 of 2

After the lecture Suzette meets up with Pete Thornton, an officer who is investigating the murders and is clearly a semi-boyfriend to the lovely young lady. While Pete is giving Suzette a ride home, a call goes out that another woman has been found and while she survived the attack, she was at death’s door as one side of her face had been cut off and one eyeball removed. The cops get to the hospital, and they get a few words out of the young woman before she dies. To make things worse Suzette’s friend Trudy Sanders has been kidnapped by Fuad Ramses and is being whipped to death in order to use her blood for the feast that will bring back Ishtar. At his desk Pete takes what little information he got from the faceless woman as well as info from a professor and puts it all together and figures out that Ramses is the killer! The cops rush to Ramses’s shop and find the body of Trudy as well as many other body parts and rush to Suzette’s party. At the party Ramses asks for Suzettes help in the kitchen and just as he is about to kill her and set Ishtar free, Pete and the cops pull in and chase him to the city dump where he is crushed in the back of a garbage truck as he tries to hide. All ends well as the killer is dead and Suzette’s party can continue.

The second issue is pretty fun stuff.  While a little lighter on the blood and gore, the storyline is more in full swing and we get to know Suzette and Pete a heck of allot better. Suzette is pretty likeable and is your average girl next door type who likes to learn and have fun with her family and friends.  It’s easy to see why Ramses targeted her to be the rebirth shell for his Goddess. Pete is a man with a quick mind as he took small clues and busted the case wide open and got the right man on the first try and saved his girl just in time! Fuad Ramses is out for blood again, and in this issue he skins a woman’s face, beats one to death with a whip and tries to use a giant meat cleaver to kill the comic’s lead gal. Ramses’s death is brutal as well, as he is crushed by a garbage compactor and some how it seems very fitting that the scumbag dies that way. This issue also seems to be filled with little touches of black humor that mostly comes from Suzette’s mom. The cover is very much an improvement over issue 1’s, and the art is once more well done by the team-up of Timmons and Matthew who knew how to capture the feeling of the film with ink. Over all this issue was a nice closing to a b-movie comic adaptation. Below is a look at the art style of these comics.

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So we have covered a lot of horror comics in the past couple of months, and I have not done a Fantasy Warfare since The Predator took on The Cougar back in April, and to me it just seems like it’s time to have another battle! Coming out of the Red Corner is that undead priest of fright, Father William Thomas from The Gates Of Hell! And his opponent coming out of the Blue Corner, naked and ready to snap some necks Goddess from Lust For Frankenstein! And lastly their opponent out of the Green Corner is that master of the butchery, the bug eyed master of disaster, Fuad Ramses from Blood Feast! The battlefield will take place in a graveyard off of a wooded path that has not been in use for over 87 years in the small town of Corwin.  So let’s see what happens in this battle of Demon, Madman and Stitched Together Monster, shall we?

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Maria is a 26 years old jogger and fitness fanatic.  Today she has decided to rundown an old path that runs through a part of the woods that is near an old cemetery that is said to be haunted, the local kids call it the mouth of hell but she has ran down this path a few months back and found the sites very pleasing and never seen a living soul let alone a dead one! Fuad Ramses has chosen this path to claim his next young victim but has been let down when he has not seen a person for the 3 hours he has been waiting in the woods near the path with meat cleaver in hand, just as he is about to give up Maria in her yoga pants comes running by and he knows that she has the left butt cheek he needs for his Feast. Ramses starts to follow her and when the moment is right he pounces on Maria who has stopped to tie her shoe, as Ramses is about to hack his victim, an unknown hand smacks him away and the killer goes flying and crashing through the old gate that leads to the cemetery.  As Maria sees who her protector is, she lets out a scream as standing before her is a naked woman with stitches making awkward and weird faces and let’s out the words “your pretty” as she holds out her hand and helps the jogger up. Maria thanks the woman who tells her that she is called Goddess and just at that moment Ramses sneaks up behind Maria and pulls her into the cemetery screaming “That Butt Cheek Is Mine!”  As Maria screams, Goddess moves towards the cemetery to save her new friend and possible lover from the hands of a killer. Inside the cemetery Ramses swings the cleaver and clips Maria in the leg causing her to fall, he raises the cleaver high and is about to place the sharp metal blade into her skull when Goddess grabs the back of his neck causing him to stiff up in pain.  She turns the killer over to look him in the eye before she snaps his neck, and as Ramses pleads for his life Goddess freezes for a moment and has a dead stare.  She looses her grip on Ramses and her eyes start to bleed and she begins to puke up her guts and falls to the ground dead once again. Ramses grabs his meat cleaver and turns to see Father Thomas standing there.  He then sees Maria who has made it out of the cemetery and is down the path.  He makes a run for the gates to exit and get his intended victim but the gates slam shut in his face.  He turns to see Father Thomas right behind him, and Ramses takes a swing with his cleaver. As Maria makes it back to her car, she sits in the driver seat and hears the last cry of life from Ramses, and she now truly knows why that path is compared to hell.

Winner: Father William Thomas

Like Ramses or Goddess stood a chance against the evil Father who can kill with a blink of his eye! So now I am at the point where I have to pick which series was better in comic form.  While I like the art and story of Gates of Hell, I would have to pick Blood Feast as the better comic series, mostly because the full set was released and didn’t leave me hanging on the storyline. But movie-wise I would say Gates of Hell is way better than Blood Feast so I would guess they are tied. I love the fact that Eternity Comics took a chance and made a comic book version of a 1963 film in 1991 and wish they would have done more comic versions of Lewis films. I would have loved to have had comic versions of Wizard of Gore and Two Thousand Maniacs to read and review on this blog. Wow I have written like a machine as of late and need to take some time away to get some work done on Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre.  So for the next update I am going to turn Rotten Ink over to my girl once again as she is going to talk to you all about IDW’s C.S.I comics! So until then, read a comic or five and make sure to watch a local horror film and enjoy nerd life to the fullest.

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Night Of The Living Monster Bash Vacation (2014)

Have you ever been to Mars? Well I have! It’s not like one would think.  It’s filled with lots of restaurants and hotels and it does have a U.F.O in its downtown, but it’s not as hot nor is the air unbreathable as you’d be lead to think. Okay, I am not talking about the planet Mars but the one in Pennsylvania that hosts the amazing horror convention known simply as Monster Bash! And this update is going to be all about our trip to Monster Bash for vacation and for our comic reviews, I will be covering FantaCo’s Night of the Living Dead comics called “Prelude” and “Aftermath,” and I will be reading them at Evans City Cemetery, the same one that George A. Romero filmed the movie in! So buckle your seatbelt, Rotten Ink is going on the road with Juliet and I as we have one spooky vacation! And for those wondering Blood Feast will be coming up after this one..

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Juliet and I were long overdue for a vacation and after the passing of my grandfather John on June 15th just a few days before this trip, I really needed to go and charge my batteries. So on Thursday June 19th we jumped in our Mazda 3 and hit the road for a fun and relaxing trip.  We first stopped in Columbus to have lunch with our friend Mike McGraner who is the producer/director/editor and even sometimes writer of Nite Owl Theater starring the horror host legend Fritz The Nite Owl.  We ate at the Blue Danube and had great conversations about horror hosting, movies and life! I always look forward to chatting with Mike as we have a lot in common and both know how it is to direct a host. After lunch we hit the road for the trip, and Juliet and I had a blast talking and listening to podcasts like Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast as he talked with classic comedian and F-Troop actor Larry Storch.  We also listened to Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling where he talked to Iron Sheik, Angelina Love and Gangrel, and I must say that both of these podcasts are some of the best going right now. We made one more pit stop at a Burger King so that I could get a Coke Icee, and we hit our hotel late and ordered room service and relaxed for the night.  As Juliet slept, I for some reason couldn’t and watched Pawn Stars almost all night. Over all it was a fun day to kick off what promised to be an amazing weekend for sure!

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The first day of Monster Bash was on June 20th 2014 and the weather outside was in the upper 70’s and at times the clouds came out and made the sky look as if it was about to storm something awful. Juliet and I started the morning off eating lunch with David J. Getz, who was vending at the convention, at Max and Erma’s, and while there who walks in but Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame.  We didn’t bother him as I had all weekend to do that and after lunch we headed back to the hotel for a hour or two and watched some TNT show called “Cold Justice” that’s about two women who travel to small towns and solve cold cases. We then headed to Monster Bash, and I must say that next to Horrorhound Weekend it’s a convention I feel at home at, and the reason I say this is because I am a classic monster fan and this is the place that really is made for fans like me who don’t care about meeting the Walking Dead cast for the 50th time, not that there is anything wrong with that if that’s your thing. Walking in, you’re treated to a very nice staff who all seem to love what they are doing as well as amazing statues of classic Universal monsters like Dracula and The Wolf Man.  This year’s main display was for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and was complete with sound effects and dialogue from the film, and even the crate that the Monster was shipped in! You then walk down the hallway and see the celebrities like Julie Adams (Creature From The Black Lagoon) and Judith O’Dea (Night of the Living Dead) and the ball room is filled with the merchandise dealers and is where the horror hosts are. The first day I was more about shopping and seeing the lay of the land and decided that Saturday would be the grand fun time of chatting with the stars. The attendance seemed a little light but the people who were there seemed to really be into the whole vibe of the classic monsters. While shopping around we ran into our music making pals The Midnight Syndicate, and we had a really good time just shopping around and looking at all the cool stuff at every booth. Below is the cool set up of the Universal Monsters that meet you as you enter the convention.

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I got some great stuff this first day: I found an Imperial Mummy figure from Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy for $6.00 and a Burger King Frankenstein figure for $1.00. Supernaturals # 2 magazine/comic from the U.K for $2.00. The following CD soundtracks (that will be played on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO when I get back): An American Werewolf in London, Phantom of the Opera and Gates of Hell all for $10.00 each. Four Son of Ghoul DVD’s that has him hosting Tourist Trap, Tarzan The Fearless, The World of the Vampires and his 28th Anniversary Special, they were $10.00 each. As well as two wrestling DVD-R’s one being 1991’s WCW War Games and the other being WWF’s Country Boys about Hillbilly Jim and Uncle Elmer, and they as well were $10.00 each. Over all while I am super happy to get more Son of Ghoul episodes, the thing I am most hyped about getting was The Mummy figure!

Day 1 Goods

Dinner the first night came from a place called “Eat’ N Park,” a restaurant that was a lot like Big Boy but is a Pittsburgh original. They were started in 1949 by Larry Hatch and Bill Peters after being inspired by a Frisch’s Big Boy that Hatch had visited in Cincinnati Ohio.  They reached an agreement with Big Boy founder Bob Wain to allow them to open franchise Big Boy stores in Pittsburgh under the name Eat’N Park for 25 years and that’s what they did. In 1974 they decided to break away from Big Boy and made a legacy of food on their own. On our trip to Pittsburgh in 2013, we saw these restaurants all over and never stopped, but this year we decided it was time that we did! We ordered more food than we could eat because we wanted to try a little of everything; we got two appetizers Jalapeño Cheddar Poppers and Fried Ravioli, and they were great and a nice way to start our meal, out of the two I think the Ravioli was the better one. Juliet had the Buffalo Chicken Salad and was happy to see french fries on it; she used the word “wonderful” to describe it. I got what’s called a Original SuperBurger that was much like a mix of a Big Boy and a Big Mac, and it was pretty good.  While the secret sauce was good it had a very heavy super sauce taste. The fries that came with the burger were a little lacking and were not as good as fries served at fast food places like Burger King or McDonalds. I also ordered a smily face cookie that is something they are known for, and I must say I liked it! The taste reminded me of Monster Candy, and that’s a good thing. We also ordered two slices of Oreo Pie that we had to eat way later in the night, cause we were about to bust from all the good food in our bellies. Oh yeah, and their mascot’s name is Smiley, and he is a cookie man!

Eat N Pack LogoDay 1 Eat N ParkSmiley

Right before I left, I got a package in the mail filled with horror host shows to air on the DATV Horror Host Underground block so I decided on the night of the first day of the convention, I was going to watch one on the laptop to add even more chill to the evening as all the ghouls and ghosts who were at Monster Bash were now wandering the night all around the hotel. I turned down the air conditioner to 60 degrees and popped in GraveDigger Grimm of Unearthed Midnight Theater hosting the classic Vincent Price film House On Haunted Hill. I remember GraveDigger who was at many of the early Cinema Wastelands when the horror host gatherings use to be be a big deal there.  He was always a super nice guy, and it was clear he loved the art of horror hosting and horror films all together. GraveDigger Grimm is a caretaker at a cemetery that he has worked at for 40 years, and while there he buried many people with 35mm prints of cheesy horror films and in 2004 he decided that it was time to dig them up and share the horrible horrors of the films with the viewers. The film is classic and always a pleaser when you want to watch something with Vincent Price. GraveDigger Grimm was also pretty good, you could tell he was a little green in this episode that seems to have been his first, but even with this you could still see the raw talent. At some point I would like to find more episodes and maybe even do a horror host Icon update about him. But when the movie ended so did the first day of the bash.

GraveDigger Grimm 1GraveDigger Grimm VHSGraveDigger Grimm 2

On the second day of Monster Bash, I woke up with a nerve in my spine going crazy.  This made moving around very difficult so I hung out in the hotel for a few hours and watched WCW War Games on the laptop and ate Bob Evans carry out that Juliet went to pick up for breakfast. We then headed back to Monster Bash and walked around looking at goods, and I was lucky enough to be able to walk right up to Ricou Browning and get not only an autograph but also a picture with him.  The line for Joel Hodgson was not super long, and Juliet and I got a picture with him and Tom Servo. As Juliet watched David’s table I walked around so that my back would not lock up and while I found a few things there was not as many great finds as there were yesterday. I kicked myself for not buying the Imperial Wolf Man and Frankenstein Monster, cause they would have been nice additions to Game Swap. The day was spent at Monster Bash as well and just relaxing as my back was pretty messed up. One other cool thing about Monster Bash is in the parking lot in front of the entrance, they had a cool Creature From the Black Lagoon green car and The Munsters Dragula car, nice additions to help add to the fun nature of the convention. That night we had dinner once more at Eat ‘N Park, and the second day was kind of a bust due to a injured back, I ended the night watching Halloween H20 on SYFY and hoping for a better back in the morning!

Ricou Browning and I copyCreature From The Black Lagoon Car copyJuliet Joel Tom and I copy

The second days pick ups are a Universal Monsters coloring book by Golden from 1991 for $4.00, Superman’s Metropolis DC comic book for $3.00, the Golem Soundtrack done by Hob Goblin for $10.00 and Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing the cheesy sci-fi classic The Amazing Colossal Man on DVD-R for $10.00. The best pick up on day two for me has to be the MST3K DVD-R because they are always a fun watch. I’m looking forward to raiding the dealer tables one more time tomorrow and seeing what goodies I can find!

Day 2 Goods

Day Three is the final day of Monster Bash, and I woke up with my back feeling way better! We had a little breakfast and headed to the convention where we saw that Joel had added Crow T. Robot to his table and after snapping a picture that turned out blurry and terrible, we headed to the last day of the shopping and monster filled good time. I found some pretty cool stuff and got some great deals on others and even walked around with David J Getz and watched him talk missing planes with Arch Hall Jr.! I even found someone who may have some episodes of Commander USA on VHS that he tapped off TV, and that would be a great for a fan like me to get my hands on episodes I don’t have in my collection already! After a couple of hours we left the convention and headed to The Twilight Zone…

Me and Crow T RobotCritters in a BoxKiss Poster

The last day’s haul was the following The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on VHS from Video Treasures for $2.00, Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing the film Cave Dwellers on VHS for FREE! The Addams Family Halloween Special from 1977 on DVD-R for $10.00. The Werewolf of Woodstock on DVD-R for $10.00. The Creature of The Walking Dead on DVD-R for $5.00. Cheesy horror flick Half Human on DVD-R for $10.00( and to be honest look for some of these films to be on future seasons of Baron Von Porkchop). Halls of Horror All Comics Winter Special Magazine for $3.00. Horror Host Hullabaloo DVD-R that is clips of horror hosts like Morgus The Magnificent and Uncle Ted for $15.00. Dracula 3-D comic book for $3.00. Marvels The Frankenstein Monster # 14 comic for $2.00 as well as Fright Night Part II comic for $2.00 and The Tomb Of Dracula # 35 comic for $1.00. Sadly the thing I am most hyped for is to re-watch the Addams Family Halloween Special again.

Day 3 GoodsJuliet and I had to stop in downtown Mars to check out the Flying Saucer statue that they had for all the tourists to see and enjoy. We then took a walk around the small town and it was like a pure Americana experience as we passed by all the small shops and old time houses.  The best part is that also in downtown they had a working railroad track and this reminded me of Mayberry. Another cool thing we saw was an old fashioned barber shop that had a green plastic alien with a ray gun in the window as well as a coffee shop called Mars Brew House that claimed to be the finest coffee in the universe! Sadly it was closed and we were not able to try a cup, but we were able to help a family take a picture in front of the UFO. While Juliet and I were walking around the town, we both chuckled when I said that the town was given me a Twilight Zone feeling and that when we tried to leave we would always just end back up downtown and that we will find out that all the residents really are from Mars. We spent some time in Mars, and I must say it was a cool old town filled with some very cool business including a tiny diner called Susie Q’s Place, and this is the type of town you would like to raise your kids in.

Alien in Window  copyMars UFO copyMars Coffe  copy

We started our journey back to Dayton on Monday, and we kicked this day off visiting Evans City Cemetery, the place George Romero filmed the opening scene of Night Of The Living Dead so that I could read two comics there just for Rotten Ink! We then hit Moe’s to eat, a great burrito place that puts Hot Head and Chipotle to shame. While on the road we hit a massive traffic jam that held us in the same area for about an hour and when we got to what was causing the jam, it of course was construction where they had one lane closed and all the workers were pretty much doing nothing, including one guy who was just eating a bag of chips….yeah needless to say in 90 degree weather sitting still and then seeing workers being super lazy, I was a little ticked. We then stopped in Columbus at a cool little toy and comic store called Evil Twin where I found a cool Incredible Hulk called The Secret Story Of Marvel’s Gamm-Powered Goliath, a graphic novel that I can remember borrowing from the library when I was a kid, and someday I will also review it for this blog as well as the other Marvel graphic novels from this series. We then made it back to Dayton and had some ice cream from Ben & Jerrys on Brown Street and later ordered wings from Wing Zone and watched Horror Host Hullabaloo. Over all even the drive back home was a fun filled day filled with good times and great memories.

Moes Logoincredible hulk the secret story of marvels gamma powered goliath graphic novelTwin Evil Store

So as all you horror film fans know, George A Romero shot many of his Dead films in and around the Pittsburgh area and these locations have become shrines to fans as they flock to the locations to reenact their favorite scenes and to find the spots the actors stood. Evans City Cemetery is the place he filmed the opening to Night of The Living Dead, you know the place the Cemetery Zombie played by Bill Hinzman attacks young Barbra played by Judith O’Dea right after her brother Johnny teases her about being afraid of the cemetery. Evans City Cemetery in reality is a very small cemetery that is off a long lane surrounded by woods and in the middle of semi rural area just outside Pittsburgh.  The first time we visited it in 2013, it was pouring down rain making pictures and exploring the area impossible, but this changed this years! The day was nice and was in the upper 70’s.  When we arrived the sun was fighting to peek out of a grey sky as we noticed that we were not the only people their to soak in the landmark and to enjoy the fact it was a set for one of the most iconic horror films of all time. It was really quiet from manmade noises as you could hear crickets and watch the groundhogs rush into the woods as you passed by. Words can not express the feeling you get as you think you pass by the tombstones and trees seen in the film and being able to read two comic books written about the film that was shot were I stood was an amazing feeling. If your ever in Pittsburgh I suggest you visit Evans City Cemetery and soak in all its grand spooky atmosphere.

Evans City Cemetery 1 copyMe in Evans City Cemetery copyEvans City Cemetery 2 copy

Okay, so for those who don’t know the plot of Night of the Living Dead here is a quick rundown. Something is making the recent dead come back from the grave and attack the living to consume them like today’s lunch. Barbra and Johnny are at a cemetery placing flowers and such on a grave for their mother when Barbra is attacked and Johnny is killed by a zombie! Barbra runs to a nearby farmhouse were she is joined by Ben, Judy, Tom and the Cooper family, and drama and horrors happen as the zombies want in and no one can agree how to survive this crisis. Now I should also say that if you have not seen this film, what are you waiting for?!! The two comics I have picked to read are the Prelude and Aftermath of the events of the film so they act as the buns of the flesh sandwich that is the film. Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So let’s get going because They Are Coming To Get Me…So I better read fast! 

Night Of The Living Dead Prelude 1Night Of The Living Dead: Prelude   ***
Released in 1991    Cover Price $1.50    FantaCo    #1 of 1

Two satellites are covered in space radiation and are crashing to earth when they are blown up near the atmosphere.  When they do so a rash of murders spread around the USA. The year is 1968, and the dead have come back to life even as far as California as a family falls victim in their own home. Meanwhile in Pennsylvania at the Eastman farm, Mary and Fred have an accident on the stairs that leaves Fred dead for a moment as he comes back and eats his wife’s face! Tom and Judy are walking through the woods when on their portable radio they hear about the rash of murders going on around the world and rush to the near by house the Eastman farm and lock themselves in the cellar. Meanwhile Harry and Helen Cooper as well as their young daughter Karen are lost and needing directions and as her parents argue the young girl gets more and more upset.  Harry finally pulls over to ask for directions when his car is attacked by zombies and his daughter is bitten on the arm! The family escape and run to a near by farm that also happens to be the Eastman’s as well. We end with the family also thinking they are safe now.

If you ever wanted to know how Tom and Judy as well as the Cooper family ended up at the farm house, this is the missing piece to the puzzle. Plus I really like that they show what happened to the old farm couple who lived in the house, the Eastman’s. The downside to this comic is nothing is really fleshed out and its clear as day this was just a quick cash in for you to buy the bigger movie adaptation of the film from FantaCo as the story in this issue is short, sweet and to the point. The plot is this simple: satellites go boom in the sky, radiation effects the dead who come back to life and want to eat the living as two groups of people who don’t know each other end up at the same house they believe is safe. Tom and Judy are not given much but still come off as likable youngsters. On the other hand Harry Cooper is an ass even in the comic book and helps add fuel to the fire for you the reader to hate him even more. This comic, while very short, has zero ads and holds the answers to what the movie left out and takes the focus away from the film’s main characters (Ben and Barbra) and places it with the ones who act as more support to the film’s story. The art is well done and has a sketch book appeal to it, and while at times I find that style very distracting, artist Carlos Kastro does a fantastic job and brings a creepiness and classic horror feel out of the pages. Over all this is worth a read for fans of the film and classic zombies.

Prelude Art 1Prelude art 2Prelude art 3

And now that we’ve seen what happened before the movie, let’s see what happened after, shall we?

Night Of The Living Dead Aftermath 1

Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath   **
Released in 1992   Cover Price $1.95   FantaCo   #1 of 1 

Sheriff McClelland and his men are killing zombies all around the Eastman farm house, but when the zombie versions of Barbara, Johnny and Karen Cooper show up things turn for the worse as the humans become the hunted and all meet a gruesome end. We then cut to New York 1968 as a woman is rushing to get to the airport as zombies and mayhem are going on all around her.  She gets to the plane but is bitten on the neck and is heading to London.

This issue really kind of annoys me as its clear to me that it was used just to try to get people to buy their upcoming Night Of The Living Dead: London mini-series done by Clive Barker, and while thats cool and all don’t tag it as the Aftermath of the film and only have a little bit be about the Sheriff and his men being attacked by zombies. It was cool to see the zombie versions of Karen Cooper who is still using the spade to cut human flesh, and it’s cool to see Barbra and Johnny, the brother and sister duo, back together as flesh eating zombies. The second part of this story with the girl with no name trying to make a flight holds nothing for me as it seems out of place in this comic. Over all this is nothing special and is pretty forgettable. The art work is done by Carlos Kastro again and in spots is very distracting again, and its’ hard to tell what is happening to who in some panels. I would say skip this one.

Aftermath art 1Aftermath art 2aftermath art 3

Reading these comics in the graveyard was a great experience and something I would like to do again with FantaCo’s film adaptation of Night of the Living Dead. I must say that this was a fun time and being able to hang out with Juliet with no stress of our jobs looming in our minds was something I am looking forward to again when vacation time comes around. Plus it was cool seeing friends like David J Getz, Mike McGraner and 42nd Street Pete who all helped add to the vacation! I should also thank Stephen Alexander, Josh Weinberg, Todd The Fox, Garrison Kane and Dan Harkless for running Game Swap while I spent time with monsters. Well I guess it’s back to work for us and not to worry Blood Feast will be coming right up! So until then enjoy life my friends it’s a fun and wonderful thing.

The Real Deal STEEL Of DC Comics!

Welcome back!  It’s been a very long time since I took a look at a DC comic series.  In fact, the last one, and for that fact only one, I did was for Sherlock Holmes back on March 28th 2013. I did talk about some of their characters when I covered the Marvel and DC crossovers that took place in the 1970’s, but that was not all about one of their homegrown heroes so I think its time to give them another look. Growing up I was a comic reader as I am sure you could have all guessed by now, but I always found myself reading more Marvel than DC.  Given the option back then of reading Superman or Spider-Man, I would choose Spider-Man hands down.  It’s not to say I didn’t read my fair share of DC issues, I just couldn’t get into the characters as much as I could Marvel’s. So one year when I was in my mid 20’s I decided to go out and buy a bunch of DC comics to read on a trip I was planning with my then girlfriend, Jennifer, who was from a small village called Oswego in Illinois.  We were going to see her family who all still lived there. So I went to Mavericks and Bell, Book And Comic and grabbed some older issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and found an issue # 1 for a super hero I had never heard of called STEEL The Indestructible Man that was only .50.  So I took the chance on it and packed them with the rest of my luggage and looked forward to a great trip with my girl. I met Jennifer at work as both of us worked for Blockbuster Video at the time.  While at different stores, we met up thanks to the fact BBV wanted to use the actual cover art for the DVDs they were renting out and not just generic logo inserts like they had been.  So they had a team of two employees from every store in the district go from store to store and change them over. I worked at the store on Smithville and was chosen to be one of the team as was Jennifer from her store, and from the start I was considered the MVP of the team because I was a fast scanner and cover changer and hit it off with everyone else selected including Jennifer.  By the end of the change over we went on our first date to see the movie Fantastic Four. But anyways, I always looked forward to our trips to Oswego as the car ride was a fun time that we would make late at night with music on the radio from mix CDs I made and trips to 24 hour Starbucks for a quick coffee fix, all great memories. The town was also a really cool place and had the very small town feel to it were high school sports were important and small locally owned businesses were all over downtown. But it was also in the small town that I read the first issue of STEEL and found myself really liking the character who I would say was DC’s version of Captain America. So in this update I am going to revisit STEEL # 1 and read the other 4 issues in the series and see how in 2014 at the age of 34 I feel about this character. And while Jennifer and I split up we still remain close friends to this day, and I still look at her in great respect and still have great memories of all the trips and adventures we went on.

Jennifer Perkins OswegoStarbucks Drinks

Before I get into STEEL, I have to share with you readers a film I saw for the first time in April 2014 that could be one of the best/worst low budget horror films I have ever seen called Night Of The Demon.  The film is not about Demons at all; it’s about a pissed off Bigfoot who murders anyone who dares get in his way! The film was released in 1980 and was directed by James C. Wasson, who on IMDB only has this film linked to his name, and stars Michael Cutt, Melanie Graham and stuntman Shane Dixon as The Bigfoot. Dixon went on to do stunts for many other great films like Lethal Weapon 1, 3 & 4, Rambo III, They Live, The Hunt For Red October, Maniac Cop 2-3, Death Warrant, Night Of The Demons 2, Godzilla and so many more.  The guy was all over the place in Hollywood but this role as Bigfoot for me is his crown jewel. Sadly Dixon passed away in 1999 from cancer so while he may be gone his film work will live on for the world to enjoy. The film follows a professor and some of his students going into the woods where people have gone missing and a Bigfoot has been spotted, but they should have never have entered those woods because Bigfoot is on the prowl and doesn’t like it when people enter his homeland. The film ends with a clash between the humans and the Bigfoot that will leave you breathless with horror and laughter. The film is so over the top that I found myself drawn into it and truly enjoying every blood soaked bad acting moment. In the film Bigfoot does so many messed up things.  From yanking a person’s penis off to ripping out someone’s guts and swinging them around a room, you realize that this Bigfoot plays for keeps. I don’t want to give away to much of the “plot” of this film because I really think if you like cheesy horror films then you should check this one out.  For those wanting a little more push to see the film, watch James Rolfe’s Monster Madness review of the film for his 2010 line up that dealt with Campy Cult films. At some point I am hoping that I can get a custom comic book made that would act as a sequel to the film, and if I can pull it off, keep your eyes open because I will 100% review it for Rotten Ink. The film was also part of England’s Video Nasty list for all the blood and guts and here in the US can be found on DVD and VHS for those wanting to watch its amazing goodness. So this summer if you’re walking through the woods, for God’s sake please keep an eye out for Bigfoot because if this film has taught me anything, it’s that he hates it when people mess in his woods!

night of the demon logonight of the demon VHSnight of the demon bigfoot

Now it’s main event time. We have talked about Jen and Oswego as well as a killer Bigfoot, but now it’s time for STEEL! As I said I have read issue 1 in the past and found it very entertaining so I am very hyped to read the rest of the series and see how his story pans out. I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. And I want to thank an Ebay seller for having the full set for sale dirt cheap. So with that let’s go and fight the good fight with STEEL. 

Steel the Indestructible Man 1

STEEL: The Indestructible Man # 1  ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35   DC Comics   #1 of 5

Hank Heywood along with his soon to be father in-law Dr. Giles are in Germany in 1939 as part of a medical conference and are run out when Hank saves an old man from Nazi thugs and Giles claim to make artificial organs gets sneers. When returning home Hank finds that his fiancé Gloria has bad news as Hitler’s army has invaded Poland, and this sets Hank off who goes and joins the Marines in order to help out in the coming war. During his time at boot camp Hank stops some Nazi spies but during the attack he is blown up with dynamite. Hank is in bad shape with broken bones, a lung gone and bad burns all over his body. He turns to Dr. Giles and his artificial organs and is rebuilt.  Hank gets a new robo-lung, steel for bones, mechanical joints and even a devices to help his heart. When returning to the military, Hank must keep Giles’ secret that he used him as a test subject and is forced to take a desk job. Hank can’t just sit by knowing that he now has all these powers and makes a red, white and blue steel suit and calls himself STEEL! Meanwhile the Nazi’s have sent over a super powered goofy suited super solider named Baron Death who is to try and see if some new weapons could help defeat the Americans. Hank, dressed as STEEL, sneaks into an armory to take some weapons to upgrade for his one man war on Nazi’s and finds a group that was there to steal from the army as well and makes quick work of them, and by doing this he makes an oath to himself that he will do all he can to defeat Hitler’s crazed army and defeat Baron Death!

I have to start off by saying STEEL is just as good as I remember it, and in fact issue # 1 is even a little better than I remember. The plot in issue one is pretty standard World War II stuff and has an American who wants to do what he can to help in the war with the Nazi’s.  After an accident he is left broken until, by a medical miracle, he is fixed and is better than before cause now he has super human strength. In fact the best way to describe this plot is just mix Captain America, RoboCop, Six Million Dollar Man and a touch of The Weapon X Project into a DC Comic stew and poof, out would pop STEEL. Hank Heywood is a strong headed college student who really wears his heart on his sleeve as he acts when he sees that something is wrong, even after being blown up and is at deaths door he still was more worried about helping in the war than his own health. As STEEL, he is a little more cocky and knows that his body can take all types of damage and almost seems as if when dressed up he doesn’t even fear death. STEEL is pretty strong and can easily lift half a ton as well as hold his breath under water for 30 minutes. Dr. Giles is your typical old scientist/doctor who has discovered a “cure” for many medical issues but is laughed at because it all seems too extreme.  He also clearly loves his daughter Gloria and respects his soon to be son in-law. Gloria is a complainer and seems to be on Hank’s need to be a hero like white is on rice.  She is kind of annoying and my least favorite character. Baron Death is a goofy looking bad guy with a yellow and purple suit on and a black and yellow mask.  He is only in this issue for a few panels, and I look forward to seeing STEEL stomp him into the mud. The comic’s art is done by Don Heck and really has that classic 70’s looking DC comic style, making it feel just right.  Heck’s work is great in this issue as is the cover that I find very eye catching. I can’t wait to read issue two for the first time and hope it holds the charm and old timey feel of this issue.  So with no more wait let’s charge into issue # 2! 

Steel the Indestructible Man 2

STEEL: The Indestructible Man # 2  **1/2
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35   DC Comics   #2 of 5

Lots of things have been going on in Hank’s life since he took on the alter ego of STEEL.  For one he is trying to keep it a secret from Gloria and her father, and second he is trying to show the Army that as STEEL he could help them win the coming war with the Nazi’s. Meanwhile across town a scientist is ambushed by Baron Toten and Bruno, two Nazi spies living in America who shove him into a machine he created that gives animated life to objects like rocks and jewels. After falling into the machine, the scientist is turned into a blue skinned monster that can animate matter all around him into creatures.  His name is The Mineral Master! While trying to impress the army with his skills STEEL is treated as a joke and a showman by the ones he is trying to impress and is left alone with his own angry thoughts, but his thoughts are broken when he finds Mineral Master in a hanger.  The two have a fight that leaves STEEL one the losing end.  Returning to desk work as Hank he hears Mineral Master’s voice over the radio as the crazed miracle maker has taken over a radio show.  He changes to STEEL and rushes to the station and has a battle that in the end leaves Mineral Master weak and STEEL wondering when the time will come when he has to pick war or his love for Gloria. 

This second issue is good but not as good as the original.  While the first issue had a full fledged classic superhero feel to it, this second issue while good seemed a little forced and things changed in a kind of goofy way. Dr. Giles seems to have an issue that if Hank is STEEL, that’s a bad thing,  Now if Giles is as smart as he is supposed to be, I cannot see how he couldn’t know that they are the same person. Plus in this issue Dr. Giles takes a back seat and is barely in it. Gloria is as annoying as ever just whining about war and how she doesn’t want Hank near it. Hank/STEEL is as noble as ever and really wants the green light from the army so that he can go overseas and kick some Nazi butt.  Plus I do like in this issue while he plays the straight laced superhero for a brief time, he is telling jokes and making fun of his foe to anger them. Speaking of foe, Mineral Master is much like Doctor Doom in the aspect that he knows what’s good for us all and what’s good is not fighting a war with The Nazi’s. Mineral also seems to hate the government but yet loves the United States and wants it to live in a perfect world. The first fight between STEEL and Mineral shows just how powerful they both are and how while they both have different strengths they are very much equals.  That’s why the second fight is more suspenseful as it makes you wonder just how STEEL will beat him. The only major downside to this issue is the fact that it’s getting a little eye rolling at this point with Gloria’s anti war feelings and the pro-war we have to stop them speeches of STEEL.  We get it and know how each of them feels and don’t need to be force feed it over and over. I also would like to note that in issue # 2 I had many spots where the words are hard to read due to the ink being smudged and this made for some frustrated reading. The cover is pretty cool and shows action and almost has a monster comic feel to it. The art is done by Don Heck again and looks fantastic. Over all while not as great as the first issue, this one still was a fun and entertaining read. So let’s see what Issue 3 has to offer, shall we?

Steel the Indestructible Man 3

STEEL: The Indestructible Man # 3  **1/2
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35   DC Comics   #3 of 5

STEEL arrives at a building that he has been called to by a newspaper owner named Edward Runyon just in time as a group of Chicago mobsters show up to end the guy’s life! STEEL makes short work of the gangsters that is until their giant fisted boss nicknamed Sledgehammer shows up and knocks STEEL into a bus and leaves as the police come to the rescue. STEEL gets free of the bus and has a talk with Runyon who tells him that once upon a time he and Sledgehammer were friends until the giant fisted freak was arrested for killing another kid on accident. STEEL tracks Sledgehammer to a rundown motel and takes him down and finds out the truth that he was there to kill Runyon because he is the one who turned him into the cops that lead to his arrest. Returning to base, Hank is upset and finds that Runyon is just as scummy as Hitler and questions why he even helped him, but his anger turns to sadness as he finds out the Dr. Giles has suffered a heart attack and he rushes to be by his bedside. Meanwhile Runyon is going on a date now with his girl but once more has caught the eye of a bad guy who has all types of gadgets and calls himself The Gadgeteer who robs him and his girl of all their wealth.  After the crook leaves, it’s clear that Runyon’s woman has a crush on STEEL who she thinks will stop Gadgeteer and get her jewels back. When Hank gets to the hospital and talks to Gloria he finds out that her father had a heart attack while reading a story about STEEL that seemed to upset him and his final words before collapsing was Hank’s name!

Issue 3 is another fun issue that breaks the mold finally of WORLD WAR II drama and focuses on mobsters and home grown super baddies. STEEL this time around shows off some Batman type guns and even questions why he has given so much of his life to being a costumed hero. I love that aspect of the issue seeing how Hank is dealing with all the pressure of being STEEL and knowing that he has to save scumbags like Runyon from punishments they lead themselves to.  I also like how the issue ends with a cliffhanger of Dr. Giles heart attack might be because of him finding out Hank and STEEL are the same person. Dr. Giles and Gloria both take a back seat in this issue and only come into play towards the end when Hank finds out he is in the hospital. Runyon is an ass who is a big shot around town that made his money by ratting out his one time friend for the reward money, and while a bad guy, he is not evil and for the most part has everything he wants money, power and women. Sledgehammer, the mob boss, is a pretty cool character that reminds me a lot of some Spider-Man villains like Hammerhead and Tombstone.  Too bad he is beaten pretty fast and I am sure will never make another appearance in this short lived series. The second baddy is a waste. The Gadgeteer is soooooo lame.  He wears a green spandex costume and has all types of silly little gadgets that he uses….I just can’t even waste my time talking about this goon. Speaking of Spider-Man, even the cover of this issue reminds me of a Spidey comic.  I wonder if in some ways DC was trying to make STEEL a cross between Captain America and Spider-Man…makes me wonder. The issue’s artwork is once more done by Don Heck who does a fantastic job and makes the character come alive. Over all issue 3 is pretty good but nothing special and is getting closer to being just a plain silly comic with stuff like Gadgeteer leading the way to sudden dumbness. Well let’s see what is going to happen in issue four where we are going to find out about Dr. Giles’s heart attack as well as how will STEEL stop The Gadgeteer.

Steel the Indestructible Man 4

STEEL: The Indestructible Man # 4  **1/2
Released in 1978   Cover Price .35   DC Comics   #4 of 5

At the hospital Hank finds out that if Dr. Gilescan make it through the night, he should be okay.  He goes back to the base and gets caught in his STEEL outfit and is attacked by soldiers who think he is stealing government weapons! He breaks away and goes to Runyon’s office and makes a deal with him that if he takes out The Gadgeteer and gets back his and his girls riches, that in his paper he would run a pro-war piece about why America should get involved in the war against Hitler. Runyan agrees but has no intent of keeping his promise as STEEL goes after The Gadgeteer and finds him robbing an armored car.  The two fight for a moment but the gadget using baddy gets away and the Cops blame STEEL for the robbery. STEEL breaks away and chases The Gadgeteer and once more fights him and just as he beats him The Gadgeteer tosses a grenade at our Hero, but things get bad as it explodes on his chest, and while he is alive the massive blows brings the Indestructible Man to his knees.  It’s clear he needs help and his only hope is Dr. Giles who is in the hospital still! 

This issue is a good solid comic, but the problem is that while good, it’s lost the classic hero charm that the first issue set in place. STEEL spends most the issue running around trying to find The Gadgeteer and once more goes to Runyon for a favor that he thinks he will actually honor. I will say that once more it’s nice to see STEEL doing something else besides talking about Hitler and the Nazi’s and focusing on a super villain that is a homegrown terror. STEEL also shows that he truly does care for Dr. Giles and his daughter Gloria as the Dr’s heartattack seems to really bother him. I can’t tell you how much I hate The Gadgeteer.  He is a terrible character who reminds me of the worst Batman or Spider-Man villain whose only power is lame silly gadgets he uses. Even his back story is just so oh hum.  I don’t understand why this character has been in two issues so far but Baron Death has only had a tiny part in the first issue and was never spoken of again. Once more Gloria and Dr. Giles have a smaller role and seem to take a backseat once more.  While they are a big part of the over all story, I am fine with the smaller roles given to them. The art is done by Don Heck again and looks amazing, but this time around the cover is just so-so and not all that eye catching. This issue is good just not as good as the others in the series so far.  The next issue is the end of STEEL’s solo run at DC and I can’t wait to see how they end the series..so let’s get to it. 

Steel the Indestructible Man 5

STEEL: The Indestructible Man # 5  **1/2
Released in 1978   Cover Price .50   DC Comics   #5 of 5

STEEL is injured and hitching a ride on a truck that has Olivia on board.  She’s a young woman he went to college with who has a some medicine that can be used to help not only STEEL with his wounds but also help the now dying Dr. Giles. But the ride is cut short when a giant white furred swamp monster attacks the truck killing the driver, beating STEEL up and leaving him in quicksand and finally kidnapping Olivia. STEEL wakes up sinking deeper and deeper in the quicksand, and after freeing himself, he follows the track of the swamp monster to a mansion in the woods that belongs to the Hawk Brothers.  Once inside, he finds it’s like a funhouse that has dangerous traps. Once he gets to the end of the line, that he gets to once he kicks out the glass to a giant aquarium he is stuck in, he finds that the monster is in fact one of the Hawk brothers who was once a silent film actor and now a mishappen monster and that the doctor down there is the other brother who watches after his brother hoping to find a cure. STEEL tangles with the beast and snaps its weak back with a well places karate chop and saves Olivia as the mansion comes falling down around them killing the brothers once and for all.

Well DC pulled the plug on this series and didn’t give it a full last issue as this one leaves itself wide open for an issue # 6 and nothing is settled with Dr. Giles at death’s door. The issue holds a little monster comic feel to it, and its nice to see a super hero fight a swamp monster and once more this formula reminds me for some reason of Marvel’s Man-Thing. STEEL in this issue is not as unbeatable as he has been in the past issues and for the most part is the underdog in the fight with the Hawk Swamp Monster. I also really liked the idea of him being trapped in the quicksand and having to use his special guns in order to save himself. The Hawk Brothers are more of the sad kind of bad guys as one brother is tormented by the accident that left the actor brother mangled and later a monster.  While they are “bad,” they don’t have evil intentions. While mentioned Dr. Giles and Gloria do not appear in this issue, and by the end of this series all we really know is that he is going to die unless STEEL can get him this medicine. I really do hate the fact that DC just decided not to continue the series after this issue and find that when comic companies do this kind of stuff, it really shows a lack of respect to those fans who have bought every issue and are invested in the characters. I really wonder why they canceled the series.  I am leaning toward poor sales.  I just don’t think kids of 1978 really cared much for old style heroes who had a bone to pick with Hitler. I also find it funny that Baron Death is built up to be the series’ main bad guy and never even meets STEEL once.  Sadly the only villain to show up twice in this series was the lame Gadgeteer. But out of all the baddies he fought in this series I would say my favorite would have to be The Hawk Brother Swamp Monster, just because well he was a white furred monster who put up a good fight till his spinal cord was karate chopped by STEEL. The whole series was drawn by Don Heck.  I find myself really liking his style and feel he was perfect for making this comic come alive. The cover on the last issue is great and could have drawn in not only the super hero fans but also the horror comic kids. Over all I really enjoyed the series a lot and found that issue one really held up well after all these years of my first reading of it and that all the issues that followed while not as good were still very solid and fun. If you’re a fan of older school super heroes and are into World War II comic stories, then this comic would be up your alley, but if your looking for fast pace action and plots than I would say you would probably not enjoy this series at all. Below is some of Heck’s artwork that I find sums up the mood and feeling of the series pretty well.

STEEL ART 1

So I would say that STEEL is a great comic series that holds lots of charm of classic super heroes and is filled with the American Pride and just old school Americana. So for those of you wondering what ever became of STEEL, let me sum it up for you real quick: he went on to join a team called The All-Star Squadron and did indeed made it and fought in World War II and was called Commander STEEL. When Hank retired as the hero, his grandchildren took up the mantel and after one of their deaths he returned as STEEL and died a hero setting off a device that killed the Super Villain Eclipso. So that was the dear old fate of this patriotic super hero. So next up we are going to cover a real life Egyptian feast so make sure you’re not late to dinner because it’s going to be a Blood Feast! Until next time, read a comic or two and enjoy life.

blood feast Logo

Avoid The Noid In 3-D With Extra Cheese

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s update we will be taking a look at that pizza hating mascot of the 80’s, The Noid, and Blackthrone’s two issue series based on the little booger. Growing up my family didn’t order out for pizza very often, and when we did, it was from places like Dagwood’s in Waynesville or we would pick up a pie from Pizza Hut or Marion’s. But most of the time we would make our own. I can remember my mom and dad letting me and my brother pick what ingredients went on our pizza and than watching it go into the oven and waiting for it to bake as the smell of cooking cheese and crust filled the air. I enjoyed eating homemade pizza, and when I was younger I always drank Mountain Dew, Kool-Aid or chocolate milk with my slices…I know the milk sounds kind of gross, but it was good! To be honest though, I have never liked pizza all that much and always found that it hurt my stomach after eating it.  Oddly enough, the only pizza that doesn’t hurt my stomach is homemade or Pizza Hut! Before we really dive into Dominos and The Noid, I should say that I am a fan of just cheese pizza, sausage and only some places deluxe like Marion’s.

Cartoon PizzaRED PLUSchocolate milk

Dominos Pizza started in 1960 when brothers Tom and James Monaghan went in together and bought DomiNick’s, a small pizza joint in Michigan, for $975.00! James gave up his half of the business in trade for a car giving Tom full control only eight months into them owning it, and by 1965 the name changed to Dominos.  By 1967 the first franchise opened sparking it to becomes a major player in the pizza restaurant war. A cool little fact is that the famous logo that has the three white dots on the blue/red domino was supposed to have more dots as they were going to add a dot for each store that opened! By 1978 they had 200 locations and more planned, so in loose terms of the rock band Megadeth: Pizza was their business and business was good! Starting in the 1980’s, they got so big that they were able to open pizza joints all over the world in such places as England and India making them grow even bigger as a Pizza Empire! In 1998 Tom wanted to retire and sold 93 percent of the company to Bain Capital for a billon dollars, and by 1999, they made David A. Brandon the new CEO of Dominos. Over the years Dominos slipped and became one of the lower pizza places.  When it came to the taste tests via customers, it tied for last place with Chuck E Cheeses.  So in 2009 they revamped their menu and used better ingredients to make their pizza better, even taking shots at themselves for making poor tasting pizzas over the years. This marketing has helped them bounce back and become a fighter once more to try and compete to be the # 1 pizza place in town. Dominos doesn’t only serve pizza though, they have added chicken wings, subs and even salads over the years. The only major media issue the company has had was with there “30 Minutes or It’s Free” promise that told customers if you order a pizza from them and it comes after 30 minutes of placing said order, then you got your food free. This pressure on delivery people was high, and many of them were involved in serious accidents as they would run red light to make it on time.  The company was sued for millions by those the drivers hurt making the promise disappear from their marketing. So after reading all this about Domino’s, are you thinking about ordering a pizza?

PizzaDominos Pizza LogoPizza Pie

1986 was the year a strange imp claymation man wearing a red body suit with bunny ears and a chest piece with a giant N creeped his way onto TV screens across America trying his hardest to ruin the pizzas made by Dominos that were out for delivery with the 30 Minutes Or It’s Free promise. The Noid became such a popular mascot with kids and adults that a computer video game was made based on him as was other merchandise. The actor who did the voice of The Noid was Pans Maar who later went on to have roles in films like Return To Oz, The Golden Child, The Blob, Theodore Rex and even played Saurod in the live action Masters Of The Universe film. His TV credits include the popular show Dinosaurs where he played multiple smaller characters. But like all good things, The Noid was put into the mascot retirement home and only gets dusted off once in a while when Dominos sees fit to try and squeeze a dime out of the little guy. I can remember watching the commercials on TV and always being so hyped to see The Noid try his darnedest to ruin the pizza. I kind of always wanted to see him be able to do so at least once just to help his self esteem.  In fact he reminds me a lot of Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote who tries so hard to catch Roadrunner but just can’t. In the late 80’s, The Noid was everywhere including a Michael Jackson video/movie showing he was truly an icon and always was a hit when seen by the young Brassfield brothers. It’s a shame that Dominos didn’t bring him back when they redid their menu as it would have been amazing to see The Noid try and make not only the Pizzas cold and trashed but also chicken wings, subs and cheesy bread! While The Noid has been off TV for many years and not a mascot of the pizza place any more.  His impact on pulp culture is still felt thanks to things like Family Guy, The Simpsons and The Irate Gamer all who have had the little Imp in episodes. While not as iconic as Ronald McDonald or as beloved as Billy Bob, The Noid remains a favorite to all those who remember his fun and zany antics.

Noid 1The Noid Noid 2

In the 1980’s Nintendo was the top video game system a kid could have.  Sure Atari had the 7800, and Sega had The Master System but the classic NES put them all to shame. In 1990 Capcom, the company that makes games like Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Ducktales, released a video game called Yo!Noid that was a side scrolling action game that had you playing as the red suited imp going from town to town in New York to stop the evil Mr. Green (a green suited imp) who is using slime people to ruin the city.  The promise to The Noid if he can save the day..is pizza..yep. The game in Japan is called Kamen No Ninja Hanamaru and has another hero and villain instead of The Noid and Mr. Green.  It was only in the United States that the pizza mascot was used. The game was by no means a classic but was a fun playing experience.  I can remember renting the game from K&L Video years and years after it came out and enjoying it as did my brother at the time. Over the years the game has become a punching bag by many because it’s a tie in to a massive company that sells pizza, but put all that internet B.S. and wannabe Angry Video Game reviewers reviews out of your mind and enjoy a fun silly side scrolling adventure game.

Yo Noid 1Yo! Noid NesYo Noid 2

Besides Yo! Noid for the NES and the BlackThorne comics, some other merchandise that came out included a game that came out for the Commodore 64 called Avoid The Noid, PVC figures of The Noid in all types of outfits like boxing gloves and wizards hat, stuffed dolls, bendable figures, halloween masks, t-shirts and key chains among many other small things that had his goofy face on it. The only thing I had growing up was the bendable figure that I got from a garage sale as a kid, and I can remember eating home made pizza at the kitchen table while acting as if The Noid  was trying to ruin my dinner…that damn Noid. So if you’re a collector of mascot merchandise or just a fan of the claymation character you can find some really cool stuff based on the little nut job.

Avoid the Noid C64Noid PVC FigureNoid BendieNoid Plush Toy 

All my friends can tell you I love old mascot costumes that were used at restaurants and amusement parks and try my best to buy them when ever I can find them. So I wanted to take this brief moment to share some pictures I have found that are amazing and creepy all at the same time. Two are people wearing mascot costumes being silly and the other is a odd Halloween mask that looks as if its melting before our eyes. So sit back and enjoy the wonders of these pictures!

Noid Costume On BikeNoid Costume TreeNoid Mask

Husband and wife Steve Schanes and Ann Fera opened BlackThorn Comics in 1985 after they left the defunct Pacific Comics that closed in 1984. The company started small and was built from the ground up thanks to credit cards.  The first comic to come out from them was based on the classic character Sheena Queen Of The Jungle that was reprints of her old adventures. The company grew over the years and gained attention for putting out comic books taken from old newspaper comic strips from such characters as Dick Tracy and also for breaking the mold and not just selling their comics at normal comic stores as they got their titles into Hallmarks, Spencer Gifts and 7-Elevens making them more distributed than other smaller comic companies. The company also was able to nab some important IP’s for comic series like Battle Beasts, Battle Tech, Rambo, Waxworks and Werewolf based on the FOX TV Show. They also were the masters of making 3-D comics and cornered the market with such titles as Bozo The Clown, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Bravestarr, Gumby to name a few but it was the 3-D series based on the Californian Raisins that proved to be the big hit and money maker for them. By 1987 the cost and low sales of their normal comic lines caused them to cancel those titles and focus only on the black and white reprints of classic characters and the 3-D comics. Sadly they made a very poor choice in 1989 when they over paid to get the license to the film Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker that they turned into a 3-D comic that didn’t sell well causing them to have a huge financial loss for the year. By the start of 1990, the company was on its last legs even though they were the 5th largest comic publisher in America.  That major blow they took at the hands of Moonwalker was too much, and they closed the doors for good. This really bums me out as I respected this company.  Even at a young age as I could recognized they took chances and were not so cookie cutter like many other companies at the time. I for one would have loved to see what they would have made if they would have made it through the 90’s and were still making comics to this day. Some projects have leaked on what they were working on before they closed up that included A Nightmare On Elm Street as well as a WWF comic that would have focused on The Ultimate Warrior…Now I am even more pissed off about them closing and have to say thanks Moonwalker for ruining everything! Below is some of the original art for those two never published comic series that were taken off EBAY that were up for sale. Over all to this long time comic reader, Blackthorn is truly missed.

WWF 3D 1blackthorne logoNightmare Elm Art 1

So now that you have the history of Dominos Pizza, The Noid and even Blackthorn Comics I feel we are at the point now that we are ready to dive into the comic reviews and enjoy a slice of pizza and a part of mascot history. And I must really say I would have loved to have read Blackthorn’s A Nightmare On Elm Street 3-D adaptation as well as see what the WWF 3-D comic would have been about..dang that Moonwalker, it’s a curse on comics I tell you! I need to remind everyone I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with that let’s NOT avoid The Noid but instead see what kind of adventures he is having! 

The Noid 3D 1

The Noid In 3-D!  # 1  **
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   Blackthorne   #1 of 2

The first story is Mondo Rotundo who is the overseer of mischief and mayhem, and he is very upset over the failure of The Noid who has yet to make Domino’s Pizza cold and gross for customers, so Mondo has his little electric ball side kick Fister to bring The Noid to him. Mondo takes The Noid into a room and shows him the past Noid’s and how they succeeded in their quests to be food pranksters and that The Noid himself is the reason he fails as when he was “born” to be a food ruining imp, he lost the one and only Noid handbook.  He then tells The Noid that he will give him one last chance to prove himself, so as The Noid leaves he decided to ruin Mondo’s dinner! The second story has The Noid thinking he is a super hero after he reads his own 3-D comic and wants to join the Super Hero club but is laughed at by all the other heroes.  This hurts his feelings and he decides to play some pranks on them and as well as keep them prisoner and by doing this he is asked to join the super villain club!

The first thing I would like to point out is that the 3-D aspect of the comic doesn’t really work well and for the most point while reading the comic I had my left eye closed and only read with the right.  Why, you ask, cause that’s the only way the comic even looked like it should have! I must also point out that pages in the comic were in the wrong order, showing that this title was not on the top of Blackthrones list of A-List comics. The first story was kind of lame and while very cool seeing Noids of the past, the pay out of The Noid ruining the fat Mondo’s dinner was very ho-hum. The second story as well was lame and had The Noid tricking super heroes in dumb ways.  For instance, he gave one hero who is like Wolverine a glass of milk and that fact it’s healthy knocks him out….yep. I didn’t expect much from a comic series based on a fast food mascot from a small comic company that used a terrible gimmick like 3-D to try and sell it to the masses.  I did however think that it would hold a little more entertainment value than it did. The Noid in the comic is very likable and really comes off as a goof down on his luck that was born to be a prankster who just can’t get it right. The art in the comic (via 3-D) looks a little bland with very little backgrounds and lots of use of white empty spaces. The Noid himself looks good and is how I would picture him in comic book art. I went back and fourth on what star rating I should give this issue, and I decided to go two stars only because while idea and presentation of the comic made me very nostalgic for 80’s gimmick comics and the fact it was all about that loveable goof The Noid, if your removed The Noid from the picture and inserted some Blackthorne made up character I would have given this issue a one star…so with that let’s hope issue two is better! 

The Noid 3D 2

The Noid In 3-D!  # 2  **
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   Blackthorne   #2 of 2

The Noid is sick of being yelled at by Mondo over losing the Noid Handbook and decides to go back to school in order to learn what he couldn’t from the missing book. While at college he pulls some pranks like acting as a professor and tricking students.  He also joins the football team and comes up with new plays that make no sense and he also ruins Homecoming for the elected Queen by ripping her dress off. In the end The Noid is booted from the school once some frat boys learn he never even went to high school. The second story has The Noid and Fister traveling to the jungle to find a Temple of Noids that may hold secrets of the missing handbook, but while in the temple The Noid keeps making the wrong choices and Fister has to keep saving him.  In the end they both find that there is no secret as a note has been left behind that blames The Noid for the missing book!

Issue two is just as lame as the first and only really changes that were made are that the backgrounds are better and the stories are slightly more entertaining than those is issue 1. The 3-D still is bad and really is distracting when trying to read the comic, and I really wish the series would have come out not using this terrible gimmick. The Noid is still likable in both of these stories and is as goofy as ever, When reading these two issues and seeing that he is the verbal whipping boy for a fat slob and that he seems not never make the right decisions, you almost wish he would at least be able to make one of those dang Domino Pizzas cold to boost his self esteem. Mondo Rotundo who is his boss is kind of bland and just seems like a filler character as does Fister who to me seems like he should be in the Kool-Aid Man comics. The better of the two stories in this issue is the more Indiana Jones inspired Noid Temple as we get to see him out of his element and not pulling pranks but just really trying to survive! The art once more is good on characters and better for backgrounds than the past issue.  I should also note that Andy Ice does the art for both issues and I do like his cartoon looking style. To sum it up not much change from issue 1 to 2, and I found it an ok read that I wouldn’t recommend to fellow comic readers. Also below is some 2-D artwork done by Ice from his original storyboards so check em out!

Noid Art 1Noid Art 2Noid Art 3

Blackthrone gave this two issues before the plug was pulled, but I am not sure how many of you readers knew that an issue three was planned and the cover was made! Below is the mock up cover that was planned and it appears as if in the unfinished issue The Noid must have visited Mount Rushmore or had some sort of interaction with the President. Andy Ice did the cover art once more and it looks pretty dang great as did all of his Noid 3-D covers. Even though I was not a fan of this series I would have liked to have read issue 3 and see what kind of odd adventures the little Imp would have gotten into, but I still would have much rather seen the A Nightmare on Elm Street film adaptation and WWF 3-D comic over Noid issue 3. But enjoy a look at what could have been the 3rd issue in the mascot’s comic run.

The Noid 3D 3

On Monday April 14th 2014 while at work me and friend and co-worker Todd The Fox tried the New Dominos for the first time we placed our order online and was treated to Pete the Pizza Maker, a cartoon little guy who acts as the way to track your pizza as its being made placed in the oven and when it goes out to be delivered. On this day we ordered a large bacon cheeseburger pizza, spicy jalapeno pineapple chicken bites as well as an order of stuffed cheesy bread, and I was really wanting to try this new and improved food so that I could talk about it on this blog. The delivery was fast and the driver was a nice guy who even brought us extra plates and silverware just in case we didn’t have any in the store, and I should note he made it under 30 minutes. The pizza was pretty good and was a big improvement over the flat cardboard style they had in the past; the only thing I will say is that it was a little dry. The chicken bites were fantastic and had a rich flavor to them, but the best thing was the stuffed cheese bread that was mouth watering good and even more fantastic when dipped in the garlic sauce. Over all Todd and I both really enjoyed the pizza and we even had to fight off The Noid who showed up to try and ruin lunch…below is photo evidence of that little creeper being around. 

Noid At Game SwapNoid Swap Pizza

While I loved watching the Noid on TV on the classic Domino commercials and even liked my old bendie toy, I am kind of glad that I did not read this series in my youth as I think I would have hated it while the older me just thinks it is ok at best. I also find it very odd that I never even remember Domino’s ever pushing this comic.  In my mind it would have been very smart of them to give the comic out when someone would have bought a large pizza and a 2 liter of pop on carry out or delivery. Another very odd thing is that in both issues pizza is only briefly showed once…why the heck did Domino’s not have Blackthorne make the comic into one giant ad for their product! Major company marketing, who can’t figure it out? Well for my next update we will be leaving the pizza place and heading down DC Boulevard as we take a look at a relatively unknown super hero called Steel…and no I ain’t talking about the metal man one time NBA Star Shaq played in a crappy Superman tie in film.  So come back next time and learn all ’bout Commander STEEL, The Indestructible Man!

STEEL Logo

Lust For Lina Romay…I Mean Frankenstein

Spain has had many great horror and sleazy film directors and at the top of that list has to be the one and only Jess Franco…you do know who Jess Franco is right? Well if not, I am here to fill you in on the man and his legacy. Jess Franco, who was not only a filmmaker but also a jazz musician, started making films in 1959 when he made “We’re Eighteen.”  Throughout the 60’s Franco made many films that would gain a cult status, films like The Awful Dr. Orloff, The Secret Of Dr. Orloff, The Dianolical Dr. Z, Kiss Me Monster, The Blood of Fu Manchu, The Girl From Rio, The Bloody Judge, Count Dracula and many more! But the 70’s was when full-on sleazy horror and sex films came out to play and when he became a mainstay name in the world of Spanish exploitation films with films like Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed In Ecstasy, A Virgin Among The Living Dead, Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein, The Bare Breasted Countess, Jack The Ripper, Zombie Lake and many other nudie horror and thriller films that pleased fans of grindhouses as well as drive-ins. Even in the 80’s he made films that had some major impact with the fans of his work: Bloody Moon, Oasis Of The Zombies, Mansion Of The Living Dead, Faceless among others, but sadly by the 90’s his films lost steam and he was making shot on video films that lacked the charm and raw feeling of his films of the past. Franco was married in 2008 to Lina Romay, an actress that he had worked with for over 20 years and had placed in his films at the age of 17! Franco never stopped making films even after his wife’s passing in 2012, but he sadly passed away in 2013 of a massive stroke.  Most believed he died of a broken heart, while many blamed the fact he smoked over three cartons of cigarettes a week. Franco’s films will live on thanks to DVD, Blu-Ray and even VHS, and his work has inspired many other filmmakers like Andy Copp. This was only a quick crash course on Franco, and for those who want to learn more about the man and his work, make sure to check out books like “Pornodelic Pleasures: Jess Franco Cinema” by Jack Hunter and “Obession The Films Of Jess Franco” by Lucas Balbo, Peter Blumenstock, Christian Kessler and Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog fame! While I myself don’t love many of his films, I do like many and respect the hard work and art that went into his early film work. Rest in peace, Jess Franco. May you and Lina enjoy your afterlife together.

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I first laid eyes on the beautiful Lina Romay in the 1974 film Bare-Brested Countess, better known as Female Vampire, when my brother bought it from Renaissance Music when it came out as part of Image Entertainment’s Euroshock Collection. From the moment I saw her, I was hooked on her beauty.  My brother, who is three years older than me, was already a fan of her’s and I could see why! The whole film she walks around naked…yeah, she is naked in almost every shot.  At the time I saw this film, I was going through my blonde women craze, and Lina changed that back to dark haired women real quick. While at the time I found the film itself very slow paced (I later grew to like it) and forgettable, I was forever marked as a fan on Romay’s. Lina Romay, whose real name is Rosa Maria Almirall Martinez, had acting in her blood as after high school she studied the arts and worked on many stage productions.  During this time she briefly married photographer and actor Raymond Hardy. Her big break in film work came in 1971 when she meet Jess Franco who put her in his films, and a partnership was born. It was upon meeting Jess she changed her name to Lina Romay after a jazz singer and starred in over 100 films, most of which were horror/adult in nature.  In most of her films Lina had nude scenes as well as sex scenes, making her a sleazy icon to fans. Lina and Jess married in 2008, and she continued acting for him until 2010, still getting nude even at the age of over 50. Sadly in 2012, Lina passed away from cancer; her death marked a loss of a true Spanish exploitation actress and ended a long career of entertainment. In her prime Lina was a goddess and could easily be one of the hottest horror actress of the 70’s.  Lina is truly missed by her fans. Below are some pictures of Lina in her prime.  Don’t stare to long…because then it becomes weird.

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Before Lina, Jess’s “IT” girl was the stunning Soledad Miranda, the shinning stare and breathtaking beauty of his films. Soledad broke into entertainment in Spain at the age of 8 when she became a dancer and singer, and by the age of 16 she was in films, only having minor roles and struggling.  She pushed on, making minor waves with audiences, and she was in all types of films from westerns to horror, finally retiring in 1964 for the first time after getting married and having a child. She returned with a roar when in 1969 she started working with Jess Franco and the pair made 7 films together in just that year. Franco saw that Soledad, who was going by the name of Susan Korda, was such a talent he wanted to sign her to a multi film deal. The day she was to sign her deal, she and her husband went for a drive and got into a wreck with a truck.  Her husband was banged up but okay; sadly Soledad was not.  She suffered fractures to her skull and spine and was in a coma.  A few hours after the wreck, she passed away at the age of 27. It’s a shame she passed away so young and to be honest, she had what it took to be a major star not only in Spain but around the world.  Franco went on record as saying the day she passed away was the worst day of his life. Soledad may be gone, but she will never be forgotten. Her key Franco films include Count Dracula, Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed In Ecstasy.

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In the 90’s Franco seemed to have another beauty on tap and that was Ohio born Amber Newman, who was from Tipp City. Her first role in films came with the 1995 film “Vamps: Deadly Dream Girls” directed by Mark Burchett and Michael D. Fox about vampire strippers.  She later did a film called “Satanic Yuppies” for the pair of directors in 96. It was in 1997 that she started to work with Franco and got roles in his films Tender Flesh, Lust For Frankenstein and Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula. Newman than stared in a string of Cinemax style adult films and even spiced in some horror films. I first saw Newman in a VHS copy of Vamps that I bought from West Coast Video, and while the film was pure cheesy, Newman caught my eye.  At the time I was hot and heavy making films for Independent B Movie and thought one day I would work with her on a film….that day never happened. As of 2011 Newman is still making movies and starring in TV shows and who knows maybe one day she will have a cameo on Terrifying Tales of The Macabre.

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The 1980’s was the best time for horror films.  Not only could you go to your local theater and see a chiller, but you could also watch them on cable TV, horror host shows as well as rent them from a video store..the bottom line was horror was popular and was everywhere. The 80’s also was the boom period of what is known as The Scream Queen, attractive women who were always killed in the films who could scream and get naked in the blink of an eye. The Queens of B-Movie Screams at this time were Brinke Stevens (my favorite), Linnea Quigley and Michelle Bauer, all who thrilled horror fans with their powerful lungs and heavenly bodies. The Scream Queen we will be looking at is Michelle Bauer, who later in her career would work with Franco on a few films and would prove that even an aging scream queen still has some life in her career when working with him. Michelle Bauer in 1981 was the Penthouse Magazine Pet Of The Month for July.  This helped her get roles in some pornographic films like Cafe Flesh, Nightdreams and Bad Girls, but during this time she used the name Pia Snow and the story goes she used a double during the sex scenes. But her break in films came when her centerfold for Penthouse segment aired on the Playboy Channel and director Fred Olen Ray spotted her and gave her an audition that lead to her acting in his film called “The Tomb” in 1986. This team up kicked off a film acting boom for the actress as she stared in such films as Nightmare Sisters, Reform School Girls, Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Evil Toons, Vampire Vixens From Venus, Attack Of The 60 Foot Centerfold to name a few. It was in 1998 when Bauer teamed with Jess Franco on a few films that included Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula and Lust For Frankenstein, and after that she went on to be in films like Gingerdead Man 2, Voodoo Dollz, The Naked Monster, Timegate: Tales of the Saddle Tramps and even starring along Paul Naschy in the final Waldemar Daninsky film called Tomb Of The Werewolf! Bauer at the age of 55 is still acting and still thrilling her fans with all her talents. I first seen Michelle Bauer in the film Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and became a quick fan as she ran around in shots topless wielding a chainsaw and looked not only sexy but also zany crazy! Michelle Bauer became one of the actresses that when I went shopping for Horror Films on VHS that if her name was attached I would buy it. Here is to you Michelle Bauer for being an icon in the world of Scream Queens and for all the films that you have made that has entertained us for many years. Below is some great pics of Bauer to show you just how beautiful she is.

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The 1998 Jess Franco film Lust For Frankenstein was a shot on video sleaze horror film that was released on VHS and DVD via Shock-O-Rama Cinema and is about Frankenstein’s Daughter who is getting visited by the ghost of her father who wants her to take control of the family castle and restore honor to the family name. While going back to the castle she sees the sleazy way her step mom is acting and also finds Goddess, her father’s latest “monster” who is a nude female with the body parts of both man and woman! They fall in love and rid the castle of the nasty sleaze. I first saw this film on DVD as I bought it from Suncoast in the Dayton Mall. I thought to myself, it can’t be bad as it was directed by Franco and starred Romay, Bauer and Newman the later two were even on the cover looking all hot….but boy was I wrong as the film was a boring mess that looked like it was shot on a consumer camera that was bought on sale at Wal-Mart that was the display unit. The films acting and dubbing was terrible as was the blood and gore and the sex scenes making this a film that missed at every thing it tried to do. I could forgive the fact that most of the nudity came from the aging actresses Romay and Bauer, but what I could not forgive is the terrible script and the dumb look to the rasta bleeding head ghost of Dr. Frankenstein. It would be safe to say that I downright hated the film and found it to be a film that almost seemed phoned in by Franco and its cast, I even lent the film to my friend Jason Gilmore who also disliked it, in fact I cant think of one of my friends who are into Euro-Sleaze movies that did like it! So you can imagine when in 2013 I found out that a comic book adaptation of the film was made how much shock I had and to add more puzzlement it was a photo comic….why…why was this made and who was to blame…Draculina.

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Draculina is a Magazine in the same vein as Scream Queen Illustrated that showcases the sexy woman of B-Movies in photos and articles. The magazine would also do some reviews as well as interviews with filmmakers and actors. Draculina later also got into making comic books as well as some side magazines like Oriental Cinema and Sirens Of Cinema. Growing up my brother nor I ever had a Draculina Magazine nor do I ever remember seeing them on a news stand, in fact I think now and days they no longer print the magazine they take the lame digital only route. In fact I really don’t know much about this Magazine and I could find very little info on the web to try and learn about it so with that just know they are to blame for the Franco Photo Comics!

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To be honest readers, I am not looking forward to reading this comic and can only imagine it being just as bad as the movie.  But maybe, just maybe, the comic will be good or at least entertaining. Plus when else would I get to talk about Franco and Romay. So I need to thank my friend Andy Copp for this comic, and I want to remind everyone once again I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. So let’s head to Frankenstein’s Castle and spend some time with Goddess and try and enjoy the ride that is a photo comic.

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Lust For Frankenstein # 1  *
Released in 1999   Cover Price $4.95   Draculina Comics   #3 of 4

Moira Frankenstein is the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein, and after his death she is visited by his spirit who tells her that she must listen to his records and find the Goddess to set the family’s name straight. Moria is puzzled by his message but goes to the castle to find that her stepmom Abigail has turned it into a house of decay as she sleeps with everyone from the paper guy to the creepy sleezy gardner! While her mother screws around, Moira sits inside her father’s old study and listens to his records and finds out that Goddess is really a naked female monster who is built with both male and female parts…if ya know what I mean, and I am sure you do. Moira finds out that Goddess is her love slave and that they will work together to clean up the castle and kill Abigail and her lovers.  When killing them, Goddess drains them of their power.  Moira goes out and tricks a stripper to come to the castle to feed her more power, but Goddess has her eye on a woodcutter and Moira finds her checking him out.  The two make love as they watch him chop logs, then go back and drain the life out of the stripper, and this makes Goddess more powerful. The comic ends with Moira tricking her soon to be ex-husband into coming to the castle where he is killed by Goddess, and the two ladies live together happily, in their minds, restoring the Frankenstein name to honor. 

The photo Comic is just as bad as the film and crams an already poor story into photos on cheap black and white pages. Moria, in the comic, comes off as a self centered woman who seems to do whatever her bloody headed ghost dad tells her.  She seems not to care about lives as she shows no remorse for killing her stepmom, a stripper and whoever else stands in her way of love and “honor”. I mean I get the fact she is supposed to be a little crazy as she has the blood of Dr. Frankenstein in her veins, but she just isn’t likable in the comic at all. Goddess is very robotic and just does what she is told by both Moria and Frankenstein’s Ghost.  She could be one of the worst of Frankenstein’s monsters as she really doesn’t do much besides break some necks and make love. Frankenstein’s Ghost is also crazy and also self centered and only thinks mostly of his own legacy. The rest of the characters are throw aways and none of them make an splash on the reader, making each of the side characters’ deaths have very little impact and mean very little. The comic’s plot also just seems very blah and leaves a sense of wow this could have been so much more if the makers of the comic did actual art and added something more to the story. The comic has ZERO art, and I guess I could say that the photos chosen are well selected, but I can’t stress enough that they should have done actual art and made this comic something more and better than the film it was based on.  Instead we just got a half assed comic that by no means is worth the $4.95 price tag placed on it. Over all I would say that this comic was pretty bad and its only charm is the fact it’s based on a Franco film and has pictures of boobs…but those two things don’t make this a good comic at all, I would say skip reading this. 

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I hate to say it, but I think Lust For Frankenstein could be the worst comic I have read here at Rotten Ink thus far.  It just felt so lazy and uninspired. So to get the bland taste of this comic out of my mouth, I am going to order some pizza….thinking Dominos…but wait, that means I will have to try and avoid the Noid who is the topic of our next update..so make sure to check it out.  It will be like we are having one big pizza party! So until next time, make sure to watch a good horror film, read a good horror inspired comic, watch and support your local horror host and just enjoy life. 

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