From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Ghoul School

Ghoul School is one of those lost gems from the early 90’s shot-on-video, direct to VHS releases that seemed to never get the respect nor attention it deserved. The film was a Horror Comedy that had many amazing independent talents working behind the scenes like David DeCoteau, Matthew Jason Walsh, J.R. Bookwalter and Michael Raso, to name a few.  Not to mention that the film was directed by Timothy O’Rawe who did the film The Basement that is also very underrated! Grab your school books and bring some lunch money as Rotten Ink is going back to school and not just any school as this is the Ghoul School! So take your seat and get ready to learn this important From Horror Movie To Horror Comic lesson.

The Flesh Eating Ghouls are our villains of this horror comedy film, and they mean business. These chemically made ghouls are made up of high school students with the first batch of kids to become ghouls being the swim team, and from there it spreads to others that come in contact with the contaminated water and the ghouls. The Ghouls are killing machines that movie quickly, have pointed razor sharp teeth, unlimited stamina, bluish grey skin with some also having a zombie look. Their appearance alone strike fear in the hearts of their victims with their main way of killing being to rip apart their human meal with their bare hands and sharp teeth. Some of the ghouls even can use weapons like guns in order to try and snag their prey for a quick meal. The Ghouls also do not talk but make noises much like crazed animals that is also can shock humans. But while the Ghouls are killing machines they as well can be stopped and killed with multiple gun shots being the most effective way of stopping them once and for all. But while they can be killed they much like Zombies grow in numbers as the water of the town has been infected with the same toxin of the school making them grow in numbers and as we all know packs of any kind of killing hordes is a very bad thing. So in other words The Ghouls are a very menacing ungodly force of nature who want to kill and eat every human they come in contact with.

The Ghouls of Ghoul School are nothing to take lightly and really are a horde of foul creatures! But now we should break down this underrated film of shot on video cinema. This micro budgets film write up is coming from our friends at IMDB and after that I will share my thoughts and memories of seeing Ghoul School for the first time. So let’s take a look at Ghoul School a film that has now been turned into a Horror Comic!

Ghoul School (1990)

“Sex, babes and rock ‘n roll! Two thugs in search of hidden treasure mistakenly unleash a chemical into the school’s water supply, causing everyone it comes into contact with to become flesh-eating ghouls.”

The first time I saw Ghoul School was thanks to Alternative Cinema who sent me a DVD copy for review from their Camp Motion Picture line of releases. I can remember being super excited as I have always been into Shot On Video Movies, and one that featured flesh eating Ghouls and Howard Stern’s own jokester Jackie Martling I knew would be up my ally. I can remember I watched it along with several other releases I had gotten in for review and really enjoyed it. The thing about Ghoul School that I really liked is it felt like the movies Demons and Demons 2 and took place in a school instead of a movie theater or high-rise apartment complex. I can remember also enjoying the film’s gore effects and the characters were fun and funny when supposed to be. After watching the film I can remember giving it 3 stars out of 4 on the website and even showed the film to my friend Jason Gilmore who also enjoyed it. It’s crazy it took me many years after the film’s release to see it, but sadly none of the video stores in my area (Waynesville and Dayton) had the movie for rent and it was not until the DVD that I was able to. I want to also note that before Alternative Cinema released this film on DVD, Tempe did as well. In 1990, when this shot on video micro budget movie was released, it was lost in the shuffle among such titles as Basket Case 2, Bride Of Re-Animator, Child’s Play 2, Exorcist III, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, IT, Nightbreed, Psycho IV, Tremors and many more. So if you love low budget horror films make sure to check out Ghoul School as it’s a fun film from the 90’s that delivers laughs, chills and blood spills. Oh yeah and you can’t go wrong with a film that has a cheesy 80’s Hairband preparing for the school dance that ends up helping our surviving kids against the ghouls…this film is silly spooky fun and really does remind me of a fan film version of Demons.

So as you can see, these Ghouls pack a wicked bite and are true terrors of micro budget horror cinema. And now that we have taken a look at the Ghouls and the film they appear in, I think it’s time we take a look at this comic adaptation of the film that was just released this vary month by Seduction Cinema Comic’s new branch called Camp Comix! I want to thank Alternative Cinema for having this comic in stock and Michael Raso for making this new comic branch possible for Horror Comic readers. I want to also remind all you blog reading Ghouls that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready lets see what these Ghouls have in store for this horror comic school.

Ghoul School # 1  ***
Released in 2018     Cover Price $9.99     Camp Comix     # 1 of 1

Steve and Jeff are the monster kids of their school as they spend class time reading horror magazines.  After school one day, they are going to sneak into the AV room to watch a zombie film as some of their female classmates are going to sneak into the auditorium to meet the band The Bloodsucking Ghouls who will be playing the school’s dance. Meanwhile two thugs have entered the school and have killed the janitor for hidden money he has and by mistake have pushed a button that puts harmful chemicals into the school’s water! This causes members of the swim team to become zombie ghouls.  They attack and kill their coach as well as his assistant and then start to roam the hallways looking for more victims! Steve and Jeff come across some of the ghouls and fight back killing one with an ax and trying to get the principal to call for help as he thinks they are on drugs! Meanwhile the Ghouls have attacked the basketball team, and after killing most of them with the coach escaping, they are now attacking the girls who were waiting on the band! Jeff and Steve meet up with the coach, and they get to the auditorium to save the girls as the ghouls attack and kill the principal and some cops. Now they want to kill our remaining kids! In the end, the ghouls attack and it’s all our war for survival as the coach becomes a meal as does one of the girls. Jeff, Steve and the remaining two gals escape and find that the whole town is overrun, and the military is dropping bombs leaving the fate of our survivors looking not good.

Ghoul School the comic is a little different than the movie and these changes help make this adaptation something of its own and a great read for fans of the film who always wanted a remake or a sequel. The plot of this comic is pretty simple and classic horror stuff as we follow two friends who are stuck in a school while flesh eating ghouls that are not only infecting the school but the whole town. The comic plays up on the comedy aspect of the film and cuts out many characters including the rock band The Flesh Eating Ghouls and comedian Jackie Martling and adds three schoolgirls who are there for sex appeal and comedy moments. Our main characters Steve and Jeff are likable gorehound students who enjoy everything the horror movies have to offer and are clearly best friends who bond over watching a good scary movie.  What’s nice about them is that they are nerds of the school but fight back and save lives showing that these horror fans are heroes. The girls are just around to be sexy and ditzy for the most part as they try and survive and do what they can to help. The Coach, Principal, Thugs and all the other side characters are well done and fit for their roles to further along the horror and comedy. The Ghouls themselves are very bloodthirsty, as they want to eat flesh and are cracking cheesy one-liners and jokes along their murdering rampage. The Ghouls are great villains for this horror comic as there are lots of them and they are brutal in their kills, as this comic does not skip out on the cartoon violence. The cover is very eye catching and brings out the horror and humor of the comic. The interior art is like a twisted version of Archie Comics done with gore and big chested women and is done by the talented Noel Scotch Anderson who has done all the comics for Alternative Cinema at this time. His style is cartoonish and holds a classic comic feel to it, and while the characters he draws don’t look like the actors who played them, it gives them a whole new life of their own as he makes them stand out and be the same yet different. Over all to sum up this comic adaptation, it’s a fun and humorous horror comic that I really enjoyed and I feel fans of this 1990 film will also enjoy. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Camp Comix as I know I will be buying whatever they release. Check out some of the artwork bellow to see the style of Noel.

Camp Comix is a cool new comic branch created by Alterative Cinema that has lots of potential to be a great Horror Comic company that will be great for readers who enjoy comics based on Horror Movies and get issues from Eibon Press and Blood Scream Comics. I for one am really looking forward to what Camp Comix has in store for us with future releases as Video Violence, Slime City, Cannibal Campout, Babysitter Massacre, The Basement and Beauty Queen Butcher could all be possibilities for future comics. If you’re a fan of Ghoul School and love Horror Comics, you’ll eat this comic up so make sure to get your copy from as it’s the only place to have it. For my next update we will be leaving the Ghoul School and heading into space as I turn the blog over to Juliet so she can talk about her all time favorite science fiction film, Forbidden Planet and the comic adaptation based on it! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Camp Motion Picture or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you guys all in space!

War Ready: The Robotic Tale Of Pacific Rim

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  This month at your local cinema, the second film in the Pacific Rim series called “Pacific Rim Uprising” will be released and once more has giant robots taking on Kaiju in order to save the world from destruction.  This film series is a part of the Legendary Pictures Monsterverse world, making these characters in the same world as King Kong and Godzilla! This update will be a quick one and will just add to the excitement of the film’s release. So let’s climb into this giant robot made out of old metal mop buckets and Campbell soup cans and get war ready to fight the giant Kaiju and save this blog from their invasion.

So before we dive too deep into the world of fighting giant monsters with giant robots, we should first take a look at the first film that not only inspired the sequel now in theaters but also the comic mini series that we will be reviewing today. I will be taking the movie’s plot from the good folks at IMDB, and after, I will give my thoughts about seeing the film in the theater and the impact it has had on my friend Jeremy Hoyt!

Pacific Rim (2013)

“When monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes – a washed up former pilot and an untested trainee  – who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.”

When this movie’s trailer first appeared at the theaters and on the internet, I was pretty hyped for it as I love giant monster movies and wanted to see what this film had to offer in the way of destruction and creature designs. And while I enjoy giant robots, I am not a fanatic about them nor am I a super fan of the film work of Guillermo del Toro who I find good but not fantastic like many of my friends do. I went into the theater with an open mind, armed with a blue ICEE and a medium popcorn, and was ready to watch giant robots fight giant monsters alongside my pal Josh Weinberg. After watching the movie, I can remember both Josh and I just thinking that the movie was entertaining but nothing too special. I really did enjoy the look of the Kaiju, and the look of the giant robots were very well done.  What I didn’t enjoy is all the drawn out human aspects of the film that were laced with what I call Independence Day speeches given by characters to unify the troops. While I enjoyed the first film, I was in no way a super fan and am looking forward to checking out the sequel at my local theater. On the other side of things, my pal Jeremy Hoyt loved the movie and enjoyed every second of it. I must also say that some of his favorite comics and cartoons in the world are Transformers so I think he just really likes giant robots! Like all good movies, lots of merchandise was released for fans of this film, including the soundtrack, comics, novel, toys, shirts and posters. Personally, the only merch I got was the movie on DVD and the comics. So while I enjoyed Pacific Rim and the world it created, I would by no means say that I am a mega fan but am looking forward to the sequel.

The major threat of this film series are the Kaiju, who are engineered by beings from another universe and are sent to Earth via a portal with the sole goal of killing all of humankind. So in other words, these giant monsters were created to be a biological weapon to use against the enemies of their creators. There are all types of Kaiju, all with different appearances, powers, and strength, and each are major threats in their own ways. Some of the different Kaiju include Knifehead, Onibaba and Hammerjaw, to name a few. These monsters use their giant size and powers to destroy any thing or robot that gets in their way. But they can be stopped by the Jaeger, who are the giant robots controlled by two human pilots that are Earth’s only hope of survival. While it’s not been made official (and this is just a theory and wild guess by me), I think soon you will see the Pacific Rim Kaiju and Jaeger mixed into the world of Godzilla and King Kong that Legendary Pictures has established. So as you can see, the Kaiju are very dangerous and very much your typical giant monsters that are infused with powers thanks to science. Below are some pictures of some of the Kaiju from Pacific Rim, so check them out.

So as you can see these Kaiju are a force to be reckoned with and thank the heavens that for the Pan Pacific Defense Corps and their Jaeger drivers for keeping the world safe from these threats. But now we are at the point of this review where we will be looking at the comic books, and I chose Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift for my reviews.  While a graphic novel based on Pacific Rim was released in 2013 called Pacific Rim: Tales From The Year Zero years before Tales From The Drift, I wanted to read a mini series of floppy issues and not a GN. I want to thank Mavericks and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock, and weirdly enough I’ve had most of this mini series for years and just now have sat down and read them.  Here is to hoping it’s a solid and fun read! I want to also remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that, it’s time to witness the Tales From The Drift!

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 1  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 1 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are a husband and wife that control the Jaeger known as Tacit Ronin. During a fight with a massive Kaiju, they are injured when the beast continues his attack. We flashback to when Duc and Kaorl first meet when Duc manned a helicopter that saved a sub that Kaorl was in that was gathering data on the breach line that the Kaiju use to enter our world. When we cut back to modern times, Duc and Kaorl are injured, and their robot is being filled with radioactive gas. Their Jaeger Tacit Ronin is being dragged into the breach line, and they are clearly loosing the battle and their lives if they do not get help!

This first issue is a mix of drama, action, horror and romance as we follow a husband and wife team who are in the battle for their lives against a massive Kaiju, who is brutal in his attack. As our main characters are being beaten up, they have a flashback to what looks like their first meeting that lead to their romantic link. Our heroes Duc and Kaorl are likable based on what little we know about them as they both love their jobs, they both would risk their lives to finish their jobs and they seem to really love each other even if their first meeting went bad. The Jaeger they power, Tacit Ronin, seems like a powerful machine but to be honest, it gets taken down and beat up pretty easily and it almost seems like they should not have been sent in to fight the monster alone. The Kaiju himself is big, mean, filled with hate and does what he was created to do, smashes and tries to kill what ever gets in his way. This issue is very thin plotted, and the story is a little all over the place as we go from modern to flashback to modern to flashback and so on with no clear reason or explanation. The characters seem like wooden generic action characters that say silly lines to each other and have over all bland personalities. The battle between Jaeger and Kaiju is one sided and makes our heroes seem like failed fools as they seem lost for the most part on how to repower the robot and get the toxic gas out of their area. Now I know it sounds like I didn’t like this first issue, but I did enjoy it as it had good art from Marcelo Maiolo, who has a very modern independent comic style. The cover is also well done and very eye catching for fans of the film, and seeing a giant robot fight a giant monster is still cool no matter how one sided the fight is. Over all, this is a middle of the road comic that is not terrible and is not amazing.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 2  **
Released in 2015     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 2 of 4

Duc and Kaorl are in serious trouble as they are slowing losing energy from the gas that has filled their control room, and the Jaeger they command Tacit Ronin is taken a beating. The pair drift in and out of consciousness as they flashback to being forced to act as a team in order to fight the giant Kaiju that threaten the world, and how at first they could not stand even being around each other but they ended up coming to respect each other. Back in current times, the Jaeger Coyote Tango comes to their aid so they can retreat and get out of Tacit Ronin as soon as possible so they do not die from the gas. But when Coyote Tango starts to lose the fight with the Kaiju, Duc and Kaorl use all the strength they can in order to attack the Kaiju with one massive blow. But this act of heroism leaves Duc passed out and possibly dead!

This second issue has our heroes at death’s door from not only the Kaiju’s attack but also because the toxic gas is zapping them of life! The plot in this issue is paper thin and has our heroes getting their butts kicked and thinking back to them being brought together to be a team and then risking their own lives in order to help their fellow Jaeger drivers. Duc and Kaorl in this issue are pretty much still cool characters who lack an real depth besides the fact that now they care for each other but in the past they did not. The Kaiju is doing what he does best, trying to kill and destroy,  is just like the last issue. Coyote Tango is there to help, but we really know nothing about him nor do we even get to see who his controllers are. This second issue, while entertaining, is very weak on story and delivers nothing really new to the story as most of this just feels like rehashed plots from issue one just spiced up a little with different situations. The cover for this issue I feel is a little weak and does not really deliver in the eye catching department and the interior art by Marcos Marz seems just slightly more sloppy and rushed in this issue. Over all there’s not much to talk about as this second issue just kind of putts along and delivers another middle of the road comic issue in this mini series.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 3  **
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 3 of 4

Duc and Kaorl have survived the battle, but their powerful blow to the Kaiju has left both Jaegers, the Coyote Tango and Tacit Ronin, down for repairs. While recovering in the hospital, the husband and wife team are told by Captain Stacker Pentecost that they have been discharged from the Pan Pacific Defense Corps as going back in to control a Jaeger would overload their brains and kill them. As Kaorl and Duc try and deal with early retirement, a massive Kaiju starts to attack and destroys the only ready Jaeger, Victory Alpha, with ease. With many of lives of innocent people in the balance, Stacker must reinstate Duc and Kaorl who have volunteered to put their lives on the line in order to wait for back up from Japan to save the lives of many.

This third issue sets up that our heroes Duc and Kaorl all in one day are forced into retirement due to injury that would leave them dead if they try and pilot a Jaeger to, by the end, forcing their old boss to put them back on duty in order to save innocent lives that are now in danger because of a Kaiju attack. The story in this issue is a little better as it gives our heroes a real time to shine as they would rather die themselves than to stand by and do nothing as people die around them. It’s very weird because while they have not flushed out really real personality for Duc and Kaorl, as a reader, I have found myself cheering for them in every issue! Captain Stacker Pentecost is a man with lots of pride and hates the fact that he had to discharge his friends and later has to risk their lives in order for them all to do their jobs. Victory Alpha, the only Jaeger in the area and the only hope for the people around, is truly outclassed as the monster smashes him to bits. A team of a brother and sister are controlling him, and they do manage to escape the robot before it’s smashed! The Kaiju in this issue is called Ragnarok, and he is one bad monster who has multiple arms and is ready to smash and kill anyone that gets in his way. Nice to see that the plot for this third issue at least thickened and seemed to have gone somewhere different and, as I stated before, gave the main characters a little more personality. The cover for this issue is kind of bland and reminds me of some lame space romance title Image Comics would have released. The interior art once more is done by Marcos Marz and is good with once more a few panel and pages seeming a little rushed. Over all this was once more a middle of the road issue in this comic mini series that is nothing too special.

Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift # 4  *1/2
Released in 2016     Cover Price $3.99     Legendary Comics   # 4 of 4

Duc and Kaorl enter Tacit Ronin and go out to face Ragnarok, who is also ready for another battle. Our heroes give it everything they have and battle the giant beast pushing it back to the water and away from the city all the while hammering and cutting the giant monster trying to slow him down. But sadly as they fight the monster, they themselves are taking massive damage and are slowly killing themselves. As they get weaker, they know they have to kill the monster and do just that by cutting him in half, but this brave act also leaves them dead and the world lost some true unselfish heroes. Our tale ends with the pair being buried, and the world knowing what they did for them.

This last issue is just one massive battle issue that has lots of splash panels and fight scenes that are chaotic, and at times you are not so sure what you’re looking at. This final issue’s plot has our heroes going into war one last time and giving their lives in order to save others. I have to say this because it’s really how I feel, Tales From The Drift could have been wrapped up nicely in two issues but seems to have been dragged out so that Legendary Comics could get enough pages in order to do a graphic novel as this mini series plot was super thin and lots of pages seemed to be taken up with filler and plot elements that went nowhere with the flashbacks being the worst for this. Duc and Kaorl are cool character who were great heroes in the story, and while likable, they sadly fell into being generic style science fiction heroes.  While they died heroes, they were just not written well over all. The Jaegers felt like after thoughts in this series with all of them until the last fight getting their butts kicked and all seeming like they would never have stood a chance against the monsters. Another thing I hate to say is while Ragnarok was a powerful Kaiju, his look was super cheesy and reminded me of a Power Ranger baddie. The cover on this issue is pretty cool and looks more like two astronauts looking into the face of Satan in Hell than a moment from Pacific Rim. Marcos Marz’s art in this issue is kind of bland and was nothing special, and while some might think it’s good, it’s definitely not a style I can say I really like. Over all as a long time comic reader who really enjoys comics based on films, I have to say that Pacific Rim: Tales From The Drift was nothing special and was kind of a drawn out bland generic story that was made in order to cash in on the film’s fans and to get a graphic novel in comic and book stores. While I didn’t hate this mini series, I can’t say I was a fan and would only suggest it to diehard fans of Pacific Rim. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Marcos Marz, and see what you think of his work.

While I feel that this comic mini series does fit well into the movie universe that Pacific Rim has created for itself, I found these comic issues to be very slow and have a lackluster plot. But while this comic series was not all that great, I am still very much looking forward to seeing Pacific Rim Uprising at my local cinema. It’s time to leave the Jaegers and Kaiju behind as our next update will be another in my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” series and will feature the newly released comic based on the 1990 film Ghoul School that was released by Seduction Cinema Comics under their new branch called Camp Comix! I am very much looking forward to this update as I have always enjoyed this sadly mostly forgotten shot on video gem! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time as the bell is ringing and Ghoul School will be in session!

Look In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Hawkman!

DC Comics has been in the comic book game since 1934, and for the longest time was the top comic company in the world until Marvel Comics came onto the scene in 1939. Over the years, they have traded places off and on being the top company in the game. DC Comics has brought the world some amazing superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash who over the years have all been on many fans’ top Superhero lists as well as have done their share of bringing in money and readers to DC, but while those heroes are household names, many of DC’s heroes slip under the cracks like Red Tornado, who I covered last year. For this update I am going to cover another hero that I feel does not get the respect and attention he deserves. I am talking about the Justice League Of America and All-Star Squadron member Hawkman, who has always been one of my favorite DC heroes and who I feel has been underrated by comic readers for many years. So let’s travel to the DC Universe and enter that Shadow War as we talk about Hawkman and breakdown his 4 Issue Mini-Series from 1985! I hope you have packed a snack as this one might get a little long as Hawkman has been around for many decades and has lots of cool stuff to talk about.

The DC Universe is filled with many Earths, each with a different history for characters and even in some cases names are changed and even characters have died with new people stepping into the shoes of the fallen hero. But while Katar Hol and Fel Andar have been Hawkman, for me, the only guy to wear the bird mask is Carter Hall! Back in the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was kidnapped and killed by his arch nemesis Hath-Set, and in the 1940’s Khufu is reincarnated as Carter Hall, an archaeologist from America who soon gains the memories of his past life and is able to figure out that his life means more to the world and that his enemy of the past is also wandering the Earth as a scientist who has kidnapped a woman. This causes Hall to become a costumed hero named Hawkman! As Hawkman he wears a mask, wings and created a gravity belt out of Nth Metal. After saving the woman Shiera and falling in love with her, she later becomes Hawkwoman! Hawkman would go on to be a member of the super hero team Justice Society Of America and even joins the Air Force and fights in World War II. Along with the JSA during the 1950’s, he took on Congress when they wanted all the heroes to tell them their real identities causing the bulk of the team to retire for some time. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the JSA comes back and somehow meets with Earth-1’s Justice League Of America, who, for some reason over the years keeps the kids of the JSA members from joining the team and is thus responsible for the creation of the team Infinity Inc. Due to the massive age difference and after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, they explain that Hawkman’s aging has slowed down thanks to a super villain who put a spell on the heroes and their spouses…yep now that’s an evil deed, am I right? Now during modern times both Carter Hall Hawkman and the original Hawkman Katar Hol were active in the same Earth, and over the years Hawkman has died, been brought back, joined teams like the Justice League of America, become a terrorist and so much more! This is just a very brief look at Hawkman as sadly the world of DC Comics is one mixed with lots of silly different Earths and reboots that sadly, for the most part, becomes a tangled mess of nonsense. But one thing I must stress is that Hawkman is one kick butt character, and if you like the brief bio I supplied you readers with, make sure to visit your local comic shop and buy a few comic issues that star this mace-carrying winged hero. Check out the images below to see Hawkman in all his glory!

In 1984, Kenner released the first series of their DC Super Powers toy collection, and in that first wave was Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and others that included Hawkman! When I was a youngster, my brother and I tried our best to get any and every Super Powers we could find at local stores with many of ours coming from Hills or Children’s Palace.  The first figures from this series I owned were Superman and The Joker that I got on the same day! Later on I would get Hawkman, who was one of my favorite figures from that toy line. It’s funny to think that as a kid, even though I read comics with Hawkman in them, I always made him super strong in battlers, like he has Superman level power! In 1991, Kenner, the maker of the Super Powers figures, reused many of the figure molds when they started making figures based on the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and the body of Hawkman was used for the Dark Warrior as well as Little John. In 1990, Toy Biz made a figure that looked like a cheap knock off of the Kenner Super Powers Hawkman, and it stunk up toy shelves. These two figures are only a small amount of toys made based on Hawkman, and for me are the two I remember the most from my youth. Check out the pics below to see what they look like.

Back in 1967, Filmation created a cartoon called “The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure” that featured 6 minute cartoons featuring the likes of Hawkman sandwiched between longer Superman and Aquaman toons. Hawkman would also go on to star in many other cartoons through the ages like Challenge Of The Super Friends, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and Young Justice, to name a few. It’s crazy to think that Hawkman has been a star in so many cartoons that spanned over many decades, and he is not nearly as remembered or loved by comic readers and those who grew up watching these toons. But again,, while he is not as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman the winged hero Hawkman still has made his mark on the world of cartoons.

Besides cartoons, Hawkman has also appeared in many live action shows and showed that while DC might not treat him with that much respect, young fans did indeed like Hawkman. In 1979, two episodes of a show called Legends Of The Superheroes were made that had Adam West and Burt Ward once more playing Batman and Robin. They were joined by many other heroes like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and yes, Hawkman who was played by Bill Nuckols and wore the classic outfit and hammed it up for both silly comedy kid friendly episodes that were called “The Challenge” and “The Roast”. Years later Hawkman would appear in several episodes of the hit show Smallville and was well liked by viewers, but sadly just like in the comics, they decided to kill the character off in Smallville. He was played by actor Michael Shanks. Hawkman, played by Falk Hentschel, would then go onto be in many other modern CW Shows based on DC Comic heroes like The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow and while he has yet to be in any live action films, here is to hoping that sometime in the future he will appear in a Justice League film. My favorite live action version of Hawkman is hands down from Legends Of The Superheroes as it’s super cheesy and his over dubbed loud hawk yell is the stuff of legend when it comes to bad TV from the 70’s, complete with laugh track. Plus while the other actors did a great job in their roles, they did not have the muscles and build to pull off the character right. Below are images from all the actors who have played Hawkman on these TV Shows and each have made their mark on the legacy of the character.

I first discovered Hawkman thanks to old comics that came from garage sales, and I was drawn in as I found the comics weird and entertaining. Besides the comics, the Kenner Super Powers figure was also a very big introduction to the character for me. Much like many of the Superheroes from DC, the main issue is that they have silly costumes and names and always seem dated as they fear making major changes to them and this causes lots of modern comic readers to dismiss some of the characters as out of time. But for me, the outdated look and Boy Scout attitude is what makes DC characters so different from those of Marvel. Over the years of buying comics from all the local shops, I always find myself picking up copies of All Star Squadron or Justice Society from .25 and $1.00 bins if Hawkman is on the cover as I enjoy reading about him trying to save the day. So this update is for Hawkman and Hawkwoman and all the creators behind them from the past and present.  While he might not be an A-List hero, he is a great hero who this comic reader has always enjoyed and it’s because of their hard work that made him so awesome.

So we are at the point of this update where we will be reviewing some Hawkman in the world of DC Comics.  The series I chose was The Shadow War Of Hawkman because I remember reading it when I was a youngster and want to see how well it holds up now that I am in my 30’s. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having all the issues in stock and allowing me to be able to re-read them as it’s been too long. One thing I want to stress to all you comic collectors reading my blog is don’t be like me and sell off your collection at an early age to get money to help a girl you were dating at the time.  While I enjoyed my time with that girlfriend, I also have always regretted getting rid of 90% of my collection. With that, let me also once more remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get your flight wings on, as we are going to war with Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

Mousy Mason is a down on his luck cat burglar who one stormy night is visited by a race of mean aliens who bully him into taking a heist for them to steal the anti gravity units from Hawkman and Hawkwoman and threaten him with harm if he refuses. Meanwhile in the city Hawkman and Hawkwoman stop a gang of crooks who have been targeting the elderly, and after making short work of them, they fly off and chat about their old home planet and whether it’s right to read the minds of humans if it is to help them. The pair change into their human identities of Carter Hall and Shiera and start to go to work as they need to set up an exhibit for Mavis Trent and her press agent Joe Tracy, but before they can start, an alarm goes off that someone has broken into their home.  Hawkman heads home to bust the intruder, and Shiera stays behind to work. As Hawkman gets home, he finds Mousy, and the pair are attacked by the aliens who murder Mousy with their vaporize gun and as quickly as they attack, they retreat. Hawkman figures out that this was just a distraction and rushes back to Hawkwoman’s side at the museum but finds that the aliens have been there and that they have used their terrible vaporize gun on Hawkwoman who is now nothing more than a shadow on a wall!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being and showcases why Hawkman is an amazing character that is underrated! The plot of this issue has Hawkman, who has just patched things up with Hawkwoman, at war with himself over the use of his alien powers to look into the minds of man. As he is dealing with that, a race of aliens with a powerful burning vaporizing gun have targeted our heroes as they want the technology that allows them to fly. Hawkman is a man deep in thought who knows that helping people is the right cause, but hates the fact that he can enter the mind of man and see what they are thinking. He is also very much homesick as he misses his home planet and it’s clear that all of this has been a strain on his relationship with Hawkwoman even though they are both very happy being with each other. While battling his own inner thoughts, when it comes to fighting Hawkman in this issue pulls no punches beating up thugs and aliens alike. Hawkwoman is such a cool character who clearly loves her mate as well as fighting crime.  She also has a sense of humor and sadly while fighting against aliens who attack her while at her day job, she is “killed” by their zap gun or so it seems. The aliens in this issue are true scumbags who use their weapons and powers to try and intimidate and kill those who they think are in their way.  They even kill two people just so they can steal a belt! Mousey Mason is just a crook who makes a living breaking into peoples homes, and he becomes the target of the aliens as they use him to distract Hawkman so they can attack Hawkwoman. This poor guy loses his life trying to help battle the aliens that have forced him to enter the home of Hawkman. Mavis Trent and Joe are great side characters with Mavis being a snob who has a crush on Hawkman and Joe Tracy is her smart mouth press agent who likes to tease her as it almost appears he has a crush on her. The cliffhanger of this issue, the “death” of Hawkwoman, is really well done and leaves the reader wanting to find out if she really is dead, and if so, how is Hawkman going to avenge her! The part that works really well for this comic is the fact that writer Tony Isabella mixes this superhero comic well with elements of drama, action, science fiction and even some comedy making for a solid read for fans of Hawkman. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching and would surely draw in fans of the character as well as first time readers. The interior art is done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is great stuff and showcases the great 80’s DC art style. Over all this is a great comic and held up very well for this comic reader and now makes me very much look forward to reading issue 2 again after all these years.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 2  ***
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 2 of 4

Eddie Hamilton is a young man who dares to dream of one day being a superhero.  He has the power to grow wings and fly if he thinks hard enough about it and even has a name he wants to be known as, The Icarus Kid! While training to control his power of flight in the farmlands of Kansas, those pesky aliens show up and use a new gun to shoot Eddie from the sky, and the blast burns him alive…the aliens have killed yet again! Meanwhile Hawkman is alone in the Museum room looking at the brunt shadow on the wall that was once his wife.  As he leaves the room he asks police Captain Frazier if he could chat with him for a moment, and Hawkman even snaps at artist Mavis Trent as he does not want to speak to the woman who has a crush on his alter ego. Hawkman opens up to Frazier and tells him who he really is and allows him to witness as he disposes of alien tech that he fears is the cause of this alien attack. Hawkman asks the Frazier to keep his men at the museum as he goes off the fight the aliens alone. Hawkman talks to the birds around his house and finds a hint of radiation and is able to pick up the aliens trails that leads him to the side of a mountain that is the hideout for the aliens. As Hawkman enters and make short work of some of the aliens, he soon finds that these aliens are from his own home planet of Thanagar and are working on orders from their government that wants them to conquer the Earth first and then the rest of the universe!

This second issue has the plot thicken as we learn why the aliens are attacking and that they are attacking superheroes in order to get them out of the way before the invasion that’s planned happens! This issue has Hawkman gearing up to avenge his wife’s murder as the aliens are killing and gearing up to attack the planet Earth in order to take it over. The shocking part of this issue is that the aliens are from Thanagar, the same home planet of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and that their home world is now on a path to try and take over the universe! It also is shown that the alien who killed Hawkwoman was not supposed to, he was only told to capture her! Hawkman in this issue is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and wastes no time getting rid of the high powered tech he has hidden and sets out to bring the aliens to justice. Captain Frazier is a good cop who Hawkman respects, and our hero tells him his true identity as well as gets his help to keep the museum safe just in case the aliens come back. Mavis Trent is upset that the superheroes have caused her some delays and bad press for her art showing, but does seem to have something important that she would like to tell Hawkman, but he just blows her off. Joe Tracy in the issue really is a terrible human as he is more worried about bad press than he is that a brave hero just died before his very eyes. The aliens are super cold blooded and are cruel to mankind and even toward each other, and they clearly have lots of high tech weapons that could kill anyone who gets in their way. And poor Eddie Hamilton aka The Icarus Kid is killed before he can truly be a hero of the world. This issue is really great and had enough drama mixed into the action to build the mini series’ story up. The cover is great as is the interior art once more done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala, making this second issue just as good as the first. This issue holds up to my childhood memories, and I can’t wait to see if issue 3 does as well.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 3 of 4

The alien who killed Hawkwoman gets a punishment from his fellow kind as they make his mind and soul bound to a computer, making him a living instrument of information and mind reading. Meanwhile Hawkman is trying to get answer from the aliens he has just beat up and finds that his home world has lost all technology and that they are no longer advanced in the ways of weapons and that’s why they targeted him and his wife. As Hawkman gets his answers, he is attacked by a group of the aliens who beat him down and bind him and just as they are going to steal his anti gravity belt, the aliens are blasted by a stun blast fired by Hawkwoman!! The heroes escape the base and after they are safely away, they take a moment to catch up with each other and Hawkwoman explains that she was not killed in the museum, and it was Mavis Trent who was killed as the artist was the one in the costume, and after she was murdered, Hawkwoman quickly dressed as her in order not to be attacked and killed herself. The pair decided that they can not get any help from anyone as they cannot allow the enemy to find out about their hidden ship and tech and travel to JLA Headquarters in order to erase their history and to do so ,they must stun Aquaman and Elongated Man, but just as they are to erase their history from the computers the screen shows a message from the aliens who have found their old war ship and are on their way to attack and kill them!

Wow, this issue is a roller coaster of emotions as we go from thinking Hawkwoman is dead to finding out she is alive and well! This issue’s plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman attacking and retreating the aliens and having to sneak around and attack fellow Justice League Of America in order to keep the war they are fighting in the shadows and protect the Earth and all the people on it including those with super powers. The aliens meanwhile have figured out a way to read minds and all the world’s computer information and have highjacked the hidden spaceship of the Hawks and are on a path to use the ship to kill them! Hawkman in this issue is filled with rage and wants to not only get information from the aliens but also wants to beat them to death! His mood changes when he finds that his wife is alive, and he is filled with joy but also has the will to save the world from an unknown terror that they do not know is coming. Hawkwoman is alive and is sad that Mavis Trent died in her place, but also knows that she must pull it together and with her husband stop this Shadow War. One cool thing also in this issue is having Aquaman and Elongated Man in cameos, and it’s sad as both Hawkman and Hawkwoman feel bad that they had to stun their friends with guns in order to achieve their goal. This third issue also does a great job of building the story of the Shadow War and makes the readers wonder how Hawkman is going to stand up to a space ship that is hellbent on killing him! The cover for this issue is as well great and has Hawkman fighting with both Elongated Man and Aquaman, and the interior art once more rocks and is done by the team of Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is such great 80’s DC style. With the alien ship heading toward our heroes and this issue as well holding up to this long time comic reader, I think it’s time to read the final issue in this mini series.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The aliens of Thanagar have started their war with earth in secret as they have used their mind reading computer to get the dirty little secrets of people in power and will use it against them unless they go along with what they say. Meanwhile Hawkman and Hawkwoman leave the JLA Headquarters with Aquaman and Elongated Man still knocked out and beam themselves aboard their old ship and are met with aliens who want them dead! Our heroes fight off the waves of gun firing aliens and make their way to the ships second control room in order to override its controls as they find out the ship is going to crash land in Detroit on purpose starting the war and making a statement for all mankind. While Hawkwoman works to overwrite the controls, Hawkman battles an alien and gets stabbed as they also cut off the air supply to the ship. Hawkman wounded takes over the controls and does what he thinks is best to save lives and that is he blows up his own ship just as he and Hawkwoman beam down to Earth and the explosion kills all but one of the aliens as the leader of this task force also beams down, but he meets his fate at the hands of the mega mind reading computer who uses all its last energy to blast it’s one time captain. The bleeding and wounded Hawkman and his wife Hawkwoman have saved the world from a war they did not even know was happing. In the end the new artist hired at the museum is shown to be a spy from Thanagar and the Shadow War has really just began!

The Shadow War comes to an end thanks to the heroic efforts of Hawkman and Hawkwoman who had to put their own lives, friendships and even ever returning to their home planet on the line, and the sad part is no one besides the aliens they beat and themselves will ever really know what they did to save the Earth. This final issue in the mini series plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman beaming aboard their highjacked war ship and beating up some aliens and then blowing up their own ship that has been set to blow up Detroit by the aliens! Hawkman in this issue once more shows that he is a skilled fighter, but also is super smart and can use his brain to also defeat his enemies. Hawkwoman as well shows that she is smart and super skilled in combat and proves why she is not a sidekick but a full fledge equal in the superhero partnership. The Aliens from Thanagar so wanted to kill our heroes as well as start the war full force showing that they were cold blooded and murder and mayhem was what they enjoyed. While they might now have been super powered super villains they still were a major threat to the world as we all know and love it. The thing that works so well about this comic mini series is that at all times the odds seem against Hawkman and Hawkwoman and they seem to be trying so hard not to alert Earth to the battle and war that is gearing up to crash down on them, and all this dread and heroic moments makes this feel really more epic than it should feel. And this is why as a kid I really liked this comic series and even now as an adult I find myself still very much enjoying it. The cover of the fourth and final issue is well done and has our heroes beating up the aliens and the interior art once more is crafted by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and show that they are a pair of artist that work so well together. Over all this is a great read for fans of the character Hawkman as well as those who enjoy 80’s era of DC Comics as this is a cool mini series that showcases why Hawkman is still around to this day in comics, no matter how neglected I feel he is by DC. Below is some cool artwork from this cool comic series, so check it out!

So now that we have witnessed Hawkman win the Shadow War, I think it’s time we walk away from the world of DC Comics and their underrated heroes and into a world with giant monsters that come from the deep where our only hope is giant two person controlled robots….that’s right, we will be entering the world of Pacific Rim! Thanks for spending some time with me here at Rotten Ink, and I really do hope you friends and readers enjoy my updates as much as I do writing them. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as we talk about war ready robots!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Killdozer!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s made for TV films were very popular and were the networks’ way of trying to keep viewers staying at home instead of heading to their local cinemas. And in 1974, thanks to ABC a Horror/Science Fiction hybrid film based on an old 1940’s novel was unleashed on viewers and sparked a cult following…that film is Killdozer! This made for TV movie not only got the comic book adaptation treatment from Marvel Comics but also has been talked about in TV shows like Beavis And Butt-Head, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Tonight Show as well as in the film Planet Terror. In fact, some people think that the real life rampage of Marvin Heemeyer, who used a bulldozer to cause panic and destruction in Colorado, was inspired by this film and even the media used the name Killdozer when covering the tragically ending event. So as you can see, this film really has become a cult film and is the newest entry in my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. So put on your hardhat, as Killdozer is ready to strike fear into our hearts and souls!

Before we get to the film and the comic, we must first get to know and understand our “monster.” Killdozer started out as a normal giant bulldozer that was doing work on an island. It makes the mistake of trying to remove a metallic rock that fell from space, and in turn, the alien rock takes over the bulldozer and turns it into a human killing machine that runs on its own and seems to have a mind as well with one goal, to kill. Killdozer does not talk, does not listen to reason, and almost seems to like to stalk its human prey before going for the kill. Killdozer’s power came from the rock that fell from space and not much is known about its full power and whether the glowing blue life force that left the rock to enter the bulldozer was indeed a living being. Killdozer pretty much ruled the small island it was on and used much of the environment against the humans. Killdozer is massive in size, and his main tools for killing are its large blade plate with its other tools of death being its continuous track that can run over and crush as well as its ripper that can shred human flesh. Killdozer can withstand fire and explosives and even can keep moving without fuel. But while Killdozer might seem unstoppable, it does have some weaknesses like it can be tricked and out maneuvered as it is slower moving, and it as well does not like electricity. So while Killdozer can be stopped, it will take lots of will to live and strategy to do so, and while only a machine with a mind of it’s own, it still is a killing machine that humans should be afraid of.

So as you can see Killdozer! is a several ton terror that is driven by unknown powers from space and almost seems like it could be a prequel character to the Stephen King story and movie Maximum Overdrive! Now we are at the point where we will take a look at the film and its legacy as well as my first time viewing of the film. The movie’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB, and the rest will be written of course by me. So let’s take a look at the film that was inspired by a book that sparked a comic.

Killdozer! (1974)

“Construction workers building an airstrip on a small Pacific Island encounter an ancient non-material lifeform which has lived in the ruins of an ancient temple for millenia. The entity is of course malevolent and commandeers the earthmoving equipment to the general detriment of all concerned.”

Killdozer started out as a novel by Theodore Sturgeon and was released in 1944. Thirty years later, ABC along with Universal Television developed a made for TV movie based on the book in order to scare viewers and keep them from going to the cinema to watch a horror film. The film premiered on February 2, 1974 on ABC and was met with mixed reviews by critics and viewers. It would be many years before Killdozer! made its way to home video when Universal, through their DVD-R on demand service called The Vault, released it. Killdozer! It was released on TV the same year as these other Horror Films scared viewers on the big screen: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, The Bat People, The Ghost Galleon and It’s Alive, to name a few.

I watched Killdozer! for the first time on January 16, 2018 via the Universal Vault DVD-R release…and I must say that while it’s was nothing too special, it had a fun early 70’s cheesy horror film feel to it and was very entertaining. What worked for this movie was the atmosphere as it was set on a very small island that gave our contract workers a very small area to hide in from the killing machine. The film starred Clint Walker who was in other made for TV Horror movies like Scream Of The Wolf and Snowbeast. It co-starred Neville Brand, who was in a number of Horror Films that include the 1977 Tobe Hooper film Eaten Alive, and they, along with the rest of the cast, do a great job pulling off that they are scared of a killer bulldozer. Another thing that shocked me is how good the score for the film was as it added to the over all Sci-Fi and cheesy nature of the film and was done by Gil Melle, who did scores for such other films as The Sentinel, Blood Beach, Frankenstein: The True Story and Death Scream, to name a few. Over all I must say that if you enjoy movies that have machines that running wild and try to kill every living person they see, then Killdozer! is one you will want to watch. I should also note that this film is bloodless, and all the deaths do not show harm coming to the characters.

Killdozer! found itself getting the comic book treatment the same year as the film aired on TV thanks to Marvel Comics and their series called Worlds Unknown that features cool science fiction and horror stories in every issue.  They have covered the likes of The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, to name a select few. And for issue 6, they adapted Killdozer! and even played up the fact it was also a made for TV Movie! I want to thank Amazon for having this in stock for this review. So before we frightfully dive into this comic, I need to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s travel into the comic world and see what kind of mayhem Killdozer! has in store for us.

Worlds Unknown # 6  **
Released in 1974     Cover Price .20     Marvel Comics     # 6 of 8

A war in space that took place long before our written time caused a killer cloud that took over machines and made them act as if they had a mind of their own. And during this battle, one of these machines was blown out of space, and it fell to Earth on an island where it remained for many centuries! Tom Jaeger and six of his workers are dropped off on the island a billion years after the cloud has fallen, in order to make a landing strip for the air force in three weeks. One of the workers finds a temple and after hitting it with his bulldozer, he unleashes the cloud that takes the machine over and kills the worker driving it and turns its attention toward Tom who does his best to shut the machine down. The bulldozer does not stop there and targets and kills two more of his crew, causes Tom’s own workers to think maybe he is the one doing the killing. But once the Bulldozer goes on a rampage again, Tom and his worker Chub figure out a plan to stop it once and for all by making it enter the water and then electrocuting it! As they set their plan into motion, Al the other living crew member tries to sell out his fellow man, but if does not work as Tom’s plan kills the Killdozer.  He and Chub then watch as Al loses his mind.

Marvel Comics tried to take the novel and movie based on Killdozer and make a comic adaptation of them, and sadly, after reading it, they fell a little short. The plot is about seven construction workers on an island who become the target of a killer bulldozer that has been taken over by a cloud alien from outer space, and the humans must stay strong and together in order to stop the dozers killing rampage. The story has elements of the film as well as some of the novel and blends them together to sadly make a mediocre horror comic that does not pack any major chills and all the kills happen off panel. While it is only mediocre, it still is a fun read and it’s very cool to see Killdozer itself as a comic character. I do enjoy that in this comic Tom’s crew start to turn on him and wonder if he is the one killing them off until they finally see the Killdozer roaming around on its own. I also liked the idea of a temple being built around the cloud from an ancient civilization in order to keep it prisoner. The downside to this comic is none of the characters are that likable nor do we really get to know them at all. The pacing is fast and yet still pretty lackluster. Tom is a focused man who tries his best to warn his crew of the Killdozer! and Al is a coward who is willing to throw his fellow man under the dozer in order to save his own butt! The rest of the crew members are throwaway characters who are all manner of generic. The cover to this issue is very eye catching and showcases Killdozer about to kill. The comic interior art is done by Dick Ayers and is well done and has that classic 70’s Marvel look. Over all, this was a fun read and is a cool comic for fans of the film or novel of Killdozer but is not what I would called a must read for Horror Comic readers. Check out the art below to see Killdozer in all its Marvel Comics glory!

So while Killdozer did not set the comic world on fire, it was still very cool to see a comic based on a made for TV horror film. And while Killdozer has a very small cult following, it still made its mark in the world of Horror Films and Horror Comics, no matter how small the mark is. My next update will be about another DC Comic Superhero that I feel is very under used, and that’s Hawkman! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next time for our flying adventure with Hawkman.

The Undead Files: Original The Walking Dead

Welcome back to another Undead File here at Rotten Ink. For this update we are going to dive into a comic series that shares a name with one of the world’s most popular zombie horror comics turned highly rated TV Shows ever made, The Walking Dead! Yes, back in the late 1980’s, a comic series was unleashed at comic shops from Aircel Comics that was about the living battling the dead and was a true independent black and white horror comic! I am sure many of you readers are wondering if this series helped inspire the current series, and once I give these issues a read, I will be able to answer that question. So get your zombie repellent ready as it’s time for us to once more walk among the dead as we truly take a deep look at The Walking Dead.

Before we get to deep into the world of the living dead, I want to share a fun event. On January 20, 2018 another Horror Movie Marathon took place as both Juliet and I wanted a day of sitting back and relaxing while watching the horrors of the small screen since the holidays were over and winter was still with us. So I took off that Saturday, and we stocked up on snack food as well as breakfast casserole and made chicken wings for dinner. We started our marathon at 7am with “Teenage Monster,” a horror mixed with western film from 1957 that has a mother whose son is turned into a monster who kills in anger and she must protect his secret. The shot on video film “Death Nurse 2” was next up and followed Nurse Edith and Doctor Gordon once more killing their patients to collect free money from the government for their care. The sleazy America giallo film “The Rain Killer” was next and was about a killer who killed recovering drug addict women on rainy nights. This film has stared Maria Ford in a tiny role. The spooky Universal film “The Old Dark House” was our fourth film and is about travelers on a stormy night having to stay with an odd family in their mansion in order to find safety. “The Return Of The Ape Man” was next and is about a scientist who found a way to return life to people who have been frozen and makes the mistake of bringing back a caveman. This film stars the great Bela Lugosi! “Amityville: The Awakening,” the newest film in the Amityville series, was next on tap and follows a family that move into the house. Things get weird when the brother, who is brain dead, suddenly starts to get better! The 1986 cheesy horror film “Spookies” was next and is about a group of friends who make the mistake of entering the abandon home of a crazed warlock and his creepy monster friends. The next horror film to try and scare us was “Puppet Master Axis Termination,” the newest film in the Full Moon Entertainment series that follows the Puppets and their human friends trying to put a stop to the Nazi’s and their evil puppets. The slasher film “Silo Killer” was next and was about friends on a desert camping trip being stalked and killed by a masked killer. “Metalface,” a modern slasher film with a snuff film twist was next to try and scare us. The newest film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series “Leatherface” was next and followed a teenage Leatherface and fellow inmates at a youth mental asylum escaping on a quest to get home. We next watched the 1989 slasher film “Rush Week” about a masked killer on the loose at a college that is targeting young female coeds. And the final film of our main day of the Horror Movie Marathon was the short film “Klagger” about an evil undead killer in an abandon factory stalking a worker who is their to get the building ready to sale.

This was once more a great time that I had with my gal Juliet watching Horror Movies in one of my favorite past times, The Horror Movie Marathon. We had some great snack food like chips, hummus and carrots and for meals we had Breakfast Casserole and Chicken Wings! This time around it was hard for both Juliet and I to choose our best films but was super easy to pick the worst film of the day as we both agreed that Silo Killer was the Golden Turkey of the day as it was filled with unlikable characters, terrible dialogue, lame kills, over use of a terrible yellow filter and was too long and boring. The only good highlights of the film was that the killer looked cool and it had lots of attractive naked women. As for the best films of the day, my order went like this: # 1 Old Dark House – this was hands down the best film of the day and is a great Universal film that is filled with great characters, creepy atmosphere and kept me glued to the screen every second. Plus you can’t go wrong with Boris Karloff playing a disfigured mute drunk butler! # 2 Amityville The Awakening – I picked this film as I found it to be a solid Amityville movie with a likable lead character plus is packed in lots of great jump scares, and it’s also cool to see the Haunted House on Ocean Avenue in a Horror Movie. To choose my # 3, it was very hard as I enjoyed many of the films, but I decided to go with Leatherface as it was great to see a new Texas Chainsaw movie. While the middle of the film felt like a Rob Zombie Devil’s Reject knock off, the opening and end of the film felt like a gritty Chainsaw sequel. I do want to say that Metalface and Puppet Master Axis Termination almost made the spot over Leatherface! Juliet’s top 3 films are a little different as she selected for her #1 Old Dark House, #2 Metalface and #3 Spookies! She and I both also agreed that Klagger was a fantastic short film, and we both can’t wait to see the full-length movie when it’s released. So once done for the night Juliet and I chatted about the movies and prepared for the next day’s after party films! As Juliet went to bed, I decided to stay up a little longer and watched the first Killjoy movie before counting chainsaws myself.

For the After Party, we decided to watch six more films. We started it at 10am with our first film being the newest Horror Flick from my pal Henrique Couto called “Devil’s Trail” about TV Show hosts going the Pine Barrens in New Jersey and come across witches and what could be The Jersey Devil! The second fright flick was “Bloody Drama” that as a smile face masked killer stalking a group of women who are having a pool party. “Day Of The Reaper” the 1984 Super-8 slasher film from Tim Ritter was our third movie and had The Reaper killing and eating people that got in his way. The fourth film was “Camp Blood 7: It Kills” and had the Camp Blood Clown Killer once more stalking and killing a group of friends silly enough to enter his killing grounds. “The Houses October Built 2” was up next and has the group of haunted house thrill seekers back at it again and once more run into and are stalked by The Blue Skeleton extreme group. And the final film of the night was to Todd Sheets film “Bonehill Road” that is about a mother and daughter who get stranded on a back road that is swarmed with werewolves!

This after party was lots of fun, and Juliet and I had a great time watching these films and talking about them after.  In fact we enjoyed all of them so it was hard for us to pick our Golden Turkey of the day! But we both had to choose, so I picked Day Of The Reaper as my Turkey, and this film is by no means terrible, it was just the weakest of the lot and was clearly never meant to be a blockbuster horror film. Juliet picked Bloody Drama, and she wanted to stress that it is not a terrible film either, she just felt it was the weakest one on the day’s line up. My # 1 film of the day was The Houses October Built 2 as I found it to be a great sneak peek into haunted attractions and had some great creepy moments plus I dig the character Porcelain. # 2 hands down was Bonehill Road, an amazing werewolf film that had practical effects, great transformations and likable characters…not to mention it has a great plot that also takes place that involves a creepy dude who “loves” women! And my # 3 spot goes to Camp Blood 7: It Kills as it was a solid sequel to the cheesy franchise that had cool kills and along with part 6 helped wash the taste out of my mouth of parts 4-5. Juliet’s picks went as follows #1 The Houses October Built, #2 Bonehill Road and #3 Devil’s Trail! So comes to an end another Horror Movie Marathon that makes me very much look forward to the next! I also want to thank every director, actor, producer, musician and crewmember that made these movies that I got to watch as no matter how great or terrible the movie is, you are doing your part to keep Horror Movies alive for viewers.

Oh I am sure you want to know what master of murder had the top kills from this two day Marathon While many racked up a body count, it was The Camp Blood Clown Masked Killer who took the Golden Massacre Award home with his 11 kills that he won by slashing and stabbing his victims! So here is to you Clown Masked Killer from Camp Blood 7 as your bloodletting was enjoyable and made the Horror Movie Marathon oh so much bloodier.

Back in the early 2000’s while Independent B Movie was hitting its second wind with films like Who Keeps Feeding Grandpa, Razor and Farmer Joe coming out on VHS, we had a slew of films in all stages of production. One that I was working on was to be an epic zombie film that I called “Stairway To Heaven,” and it was going to be the biggest budgeted and goriest film I ever made! The film was one that I had lots of faith in and spent lots of late nights writing the script on my old computer in Independent B Movie Studios while drinking down sodas and pacing the floor with ideas of the plot and kills pouring out of my brain and onto the screen of the glowing monitor. This zombie opus was going to be my shot on video masterpiece, and I had all the faith in it and spent my days off work scouting locations. While all this was going on, we even had students at Fairmont High School design and print us out T-Shirts for our films, and one of the films we choose was Stairway To Heaven and many of the I.B.M family would wear it to help build buzz for this film. I would spend many nights hanging out with my then best friend Andrea Seay and tell her about the ideas for the film, and she was loving it as were other friends like Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore and Dave Wean who I would tell about this undead flick. I also had my friend Patrick Neeley willing to score the film that would have also had an official soundtrack CD release that would have been released at the same time as the film on VHS. While I was placing the final touches on the script, I took the old VHS camcorder out to cemeteries at night and filmed around as test footage as well as for possible trailer usage. I even began casting the film with such names as Matt Hoffman, Zach Prater, Sarah Yates, Josh Weinberg, Andy Copp, Rosetta Workman and many others onboard, and my two main leads were to be played by Andrea and a young lady that worked at Blockbuster Video I knew named Leah and she was nice enough to go around and do a photo shoot in a graveyard so that I could promote the movie in one of our many email updates we sent to friends and fans. The buzz around this film was super thick and many people kept asking about its production as I continued to work on the script and raising the budget.

The film’s plot was to follow multiple people in a small town during the start of a massive zombie outbreak, one was a pregnant woman who was alone at home another was a couple who’s car broke down on the out skirts of town plus I throw in a cheerleader, a homeless vet, a preacher and random town folks and this was the cast of characters who had to survive the undead. The gore effects was going to be done by Andy Copp and myself and was going to be over the top with boobs, blood guts and gore and was very much in the same nature of the Italian Zombie films complete with gut munching and baby eating as the film’s most over the top scene had zombies ripping the fetus out of a woman and eating it as well as her as she had to watch her child die as she herself was being murdered. And just when production of this film was about to start, I was silly enough to allow others in Independent B Movie to talk me out of filming it when I wanted as they wanted to move onto Wolf Hunter 2, Long Dead Winter as well as Suicide 3 and Two Seconds Too Late and I agreed as I figured these films would be better for the group, and not shockingly, most of them during this time were filmed and never finished as the directors of those films dragged feet and lost interest in the direction of their films were going. Sadly too much time has past and this shot on video zombie epic is now in the massive pile of scripts and ideas that Independent B Movie nor Bloodline Video ever got to film, and who knows maybe if I could track down the original script maybe one day it will turn into a comic book via Blood Scream Comics. Below are some pictures that I took on a snowy winter day early this year as well as a pic of Leah as her character. Enjoy this look into a film that could have been if I would have only went with my gut and not what others wanted.

So imagine you’re outside taking a hike along a path that is near a creek, the sounds of the water is echoing and you are having a great time just soaking up nature and breathing in the fresh air. You’re a couple of miles away from your car and to avoid interruption you even left your cellphone in the trunk. But while walking you notice a strange man in a distance he is stumbling around and at first you think he might just be drunk but you soon see that his face is rotten and that he is not alive but the walking dead as you turn to run back to your car you soon are faced with a horde of zombies that have infected the woods and you have no hope of escaping! This scenario is one of many if a true Zombie Apocalypse were to break out that you could find yourself in, and the main questions that you would have to ask yourself is would you be ready for the living dead if they were to rise today? I mean many of us think we would be ready as we have watched movies and TV shows about zombies and have read novels and comics about them…but would what we read really help us to survive? Look around your house, apartment, car or place of work and think is this place safe if the zombies were to rise today? Would you be able to secure the doors and windows from the hordes of the dead? Right as you read this who is at your current location with you, would they be able to help you survive a zombie attack? Just wanted to take this part just to make you think about the possibility of a zombie attack and if you think you could survive it. No matter what we say or how we feel about it, I really don’t think any of us would truly be ready for the undead.

So the world of video games much like the world of cinema is a graveyard wasteland of zombie titles that have flooded the market. Some are fantastic and some are terrible, and I am about to play one that many say is the latter and has been the punching bag for reviewers as being one of the worst first person zombie shooters ever made…that game is called Dead Alliancem and I am about to play it for the PS4! The plot is simple to this mostly multiplayer game and has you and fellow survivors fighting each other in a wasteland of zombies that you can use as allies when using the right weapon. The game is mostly a run of the mill shooter that adds the thrill of zombies to the mix and sadly just falls a little short when it comes to being entertaining. Now the game is by no means bottom of the barrel, but it’s repetitive and very limited in area maps and even weapons and when playing the single player mode it even becomes more simple and lackluster. The game is getting trashed by gamers and has not sold well for parent company Maximum Games. While this game is below average, it still was a fun time waster to kill zombies and shoot other players.

So now that the dead are all around us and we have even took a few moments to chat about a Horror Movie Marathon, let’s see if this original Walking Dead inspired the modern Image Comic Walking Dead series. It’s crazy to think that in my youth I never did pick up an issue of this series or if I did, it must not have made that big of an impression on me as I don’t remember it. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering, Ebay, Amazon and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock for me to cover for this Undead Files update as these were pretty hard to track down. I also want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s fright our way through the zombie horde and hope that Aircel delivers a scary and well done zombie comic that could possibly be the inspiration for thee Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1989       Cover Price $2.25       Aircel Comics     #1 of 4

In space two breed of aliens are at war with each other and when one of them crash lands on Earth while carrying a gas that reanimates the dead, all hell breaks loose as the dead start to rise from the cemeteries, morgues and funeral homes all hungry for human flesh. While some zombies are mindless roaming flesh eaters some are more than that as they also retain their memories and know how to talk and use tools and none are worse than the undead gang called The Kidz From Hell who slaughter their own kind and eat fresh alive victims. They are lead by Jak Krak who has them shooting guns and sharpening their teeth all in the hopes to capture and kill their “meat”, and after a kill and feast the gang of zombies is attacked by ex-cop Joe Barker who kills many of their members before rushing back to his home base were he is greeted by Keith but yelled at by Max and Kris who are mad he went out alone. Our issue ends with Joe telling them he will not stop until he kills Jak and The Kidz From Hell once and for all.

In this story the zombie outbreak is started by a crashed U.F.O that releases gas that makes the dead walk again. This is origin seems like a mix between “Night Of The Living Dead” that states that the outbreak could have been started by a down satellite falling from space with radiation on it and “Return Of The Living Dead” that has it starting from a gas that sweeps around and gets into our air. The plot of this issue is to clearly set up how the outbreak started and mixed in with the different styles of zombies as well as introduces us to the evil Kidz From Hell zombie gang plus their enemy Joe Barker who is our comic’s hero. Joe Barker is a man who is angry at what the world has become as the dead have out numbered the living, he is also clearly brave as he takes on the living dead all by himself! So while all we really know about Joe is that he is fearless and an ex-officer of the law I for one like him and can’t wait to see what he does next to try and kill the undead. The Kidz From Hell are street talking, gun shooting, razor sharped teethed, flesh eating evil zombies who enjoy killing and have no respect for the living or the dead! Jak Krak the gang leader is the most evil of them all and seems like he will not rest until he kills Joe and helps the dead fully take over the Earth. One odd thing about The Kidz From Hell is that while they are dead it seems as if they also still do drugs or so one of them claims after they eat a poor man alive. I also want to see who Max, Keith and Kris are as I wonder if they are also one time cops or just survivors who have created a safe place for the living, I guess only future issue will hold those answers. The comic is somewhat bloody and gore filled, but not even in the same ballpark as The Dead from Arrow Comics with the most brutal kill being a dead husband biting the face off of his widow who is mourning at his casket. The black and white art as well as the story is done by Jim Somerville and is well done with his zombies looking like a mix of classic with punk rock. The Cover is also pretty well done and eye catching as it features a zombie eating the brains out of a skull! This far this original series and the Image Walking Dead series don’t share too much besides zombies and a group of survivors living together and the name. So let’s shuffle our way to issue # 2 and see if Joe can kill even more of the undead punks.

The Walking Dead # 2   **1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #2 of 4

Peter is the President of the United States, and he gives a state of the Union address that the American people need to stay strong during this terrible zombie crisis and hints to even using nuclear bombs as the last resort. But while the President is safe behind think concrete walls guarded by armed solider is poor wife is very sick and near death’s door. Meanwhile back at the base of Joe Barker and his friends they breakdown the possibility of the government dropping nuclear bombs in order to kill zombies, when they are attacked by The Kidz From Hell who attack hard and blood thirsty, in other words they want to end the feud now! Joe and friend fight back they best the can but are out gunned and must flee the base or lose their lives, the issue being for them is the wheelchair bound Max gets trapped and they must leave him behind in order for Joe, Kris and Keith to escape the gun firing undead. As they leave and save their own skins it’s Joe who says they are going back for Max and will bring him home alive or dead, as he doesn’t want the zombies to have him either way.

The second issue in this series loses some steam as many pages are taken up with one art panel per said page showing that they were just killing pages to reach their count. The plot has the President trying to build up the spirit of the American people during the zombie outbreak as Joe Barker and his survival group is under attack by the undead Kidz From Hell who want revenge from the attack on them from issue 1. Joe Barker in the issue is still tough as nails but also is smart and knows when to run when the odds are not in his favor. I think one of the cool things about Joe is also the fact he has the no man left behind attitude and wants to go back for their friend who was left at the base during the attack. Max, Kris, Keith and the rest of the survivors as well do what they can and try with all their might to defend their base but figure out that real fast they are no match for the gun shooting zombies. I feel for Max as that poor guy is left to fend for himself once he and his wheelchair get caught in some rubble. The Kidz From Hell and their leader Jak Krak are cold-blooded killers and slaughter any living person that comes in their way. President Peter is a wild card as he has the power to blow up the world and might do so if he loses his sick wife to the zombie curse. While this is a good issue it really is just an action issue with some small plot thrown in to move the story along, and while that’s not a bad thing it still makes the issue not as good as the first that offered a nice build up. The cover is ok but reminds me more of a cheesy late 80’s action comic than a horror comic and the art is once more done by Jim Somerville and is fitting for this undead romp comic. Over all his is a solid middle of the road comic that should be checked out if you enjoyed the first issue.

The Walking Dead # 3   **
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #3 of 4

Joe, Keith and Kris go back to their old base with the hopes of saving Max but all they find instead is a note from Jak Krak warning them if they want to see Max again they will meet The Kidz From Hell at the playground! When they get there, they find Max dead crucified with his feet cut off and his eyeballs missing, as Joe breaks down from the loss of his friend a zombie attacks Keith with a knife and kills him as Kris fights back it takes Joe a moment to snap to and they pair enter a building that’s clearly a trap being set. While inside Kris as well is stabbed and Joe is knocked back and as he is about to get up and fight the issue ends.

This third issue seems as if they ran out of ideas as again lots of splash pages and even a back up story to boot fill out this issue padding it out so they can squeeze out one more issue and get zombie fans to spend another $2.25. The brief story is this Joe and crew go to get Max who has been taken to another location, once there it’s a trap and Keith and I would guess Kris are killed easy and Joe now stands alone to face the zombie gang. Oh and throw in a quick small part about the President’s wife now being a zombie. Yeah, it’s that deep of a plot in this issue. Joe shows he has a soft side as he is clearly shaken after the death of his friend Max, but it’s also clear by the end of the issue he is going to stomp some zombie butt. Keith and Kris are just in the issue to be lined up and slaughtered, but only after the shoot some slow moving zombies with machine guns. Jak Krak and The Kidz From Hell are as flesh hungry as ever as they eat the eyes of Max and taunt his friends afterwards. The slow Zombies make an appearance but are just being mowed down at the start of the issue by our heroes. President Peter is pretty much wasted and offers nothing besides the fact his wife is now dead and a zombie that he keeps in a cell. The cover looks great and eye catching for zombie fans, but the art inside done by Jim Somerville is hit and miss as at the start it looks as sloppy as the plot of this issue but as it goes on it looks a lot better. Over all this is the weakest issue in the series this far and while it does have blood, guts and gore it seems so rushed it has no real impact and this while entertaining was a major letdown and I hope the final issue is not this sloppy and brings its A Game to end the series right.

The Walking Dead # 4    *1/2
Released in 1989      Cover Price $2.25      Aircel Comics     #4 of 4

Joe is bleeding pretty bad as Jak Krak and what’s left of the Kidz From Hell come circling around, Jak offers Joe a choice to join them as a zombie gang member or to become their dinner! Joe would rather be dinner and just when Jak is about to shoot him Kris with what little life she has left fires her gun and blows Jak’s hand off and then she kills some more Gang Members before herself being blown away. With only Joe and Jak left the pair square off and Joe is armed with an ax and Jak has a switchblade knife! Joe goes crazy with the ax and chops Jak up into pieces and after killing his enemy decides that he himself must die and kills himself with a gunshot to the head.

Splash Page special is what this issue is and that makes me really mad is every page is a single panel with many pages also being one single image filling two pages….this could have been wrapped up with the third issue if they would have dropped the backup story, oh speaking of backup story, this issue has one as well! This issue’s plot is just the showdown between hero Joe Barker and zombie gang leader Jak Krak and what leads to Joe winning and killing himself. This final issue offers a true ending to the series as for some reason they take the route of Joe just ending his own life instead of fighting the fight to take back the world and to be honest he takes down Jak Krak pretty easy and makes me wonder why didn’t the survivors just attack The Kidz From Hell from the start as the whole gang is pretty much wiped out by three people! The Zombie Gang started out as a major threat and for all accounts scary but by the end they seemed like punching bags lined up to be knocked down. Joe Barker was a interesting character to start off but by this issue he becomes nothing more than a man waiting for death who had lead all his friends to the slaughter only to avenge them and then kill himself, the whole suicide thing just didn’t feel right for this character. Kris, Keith and Max in this series once more started off as good side characters but in the end just turned into one sided humans set up to be killed with no personalities shining through. Remember President Peter well writer Jim Somerville didn’t as his storyline goes nowhere and he is not seen at all in this issue and the fact he wants to nuke the world if the zombie outbreak is not under control never comes back up nor does the fact his wife is now a zombie, the character could have had just that character but bad writing and the lack of a follow through story makes him yet another tossed to the side character. The slow Zombies are just around when they need the body count to rise as they only come into play after the first issue to be shot by the two feuding sides. The final issue has lots of blood gunshots and also has some gore when Joe kills Jak with an ax but by this point I was so disappointed with this comic series it took the fun out of what should have been an epic battle and moment. The thing about this zombie series is that it started out really good and the story was drawing me in and wanting me to read more and more but by the end of the second issue on the series took a nose dive as it was clear Jim Somerville had no real idea on where the story was going and just knew he had to fill four issues worth of something. The fact that side stories go nowhere, the art gets more and more sloppy, he does cheap splash pages to pad out the issues makes me not to not track down his other work! The only major plus I can say about this issue is the cover is pretty cool and reminds me of a serial killer comic. For those who think Tony Moore and Robert Kirkman might have been inspired by this comic series when they made their Walking Dead series, I am sure the only thing they took away from this series is what not to do in a zombie comic series! Started out with a big bang but ended on a whisper this could have been the biggest letdown in comics I have read this year. Below is some artwork from this four issue mini series, while I would not say that fans of Independent Horror Comics shouldn’t check this out I would say don’t get your hopes up for an epic zombie bloodbath with a good story.

But wait, there is more Walking Dead from Aircel and Jim Somerville as in 1990 they released “Walking Dead Zombie Special” and I am hoping that this one can redeemed the series by ending with a solid and good issue…here is hoping that they pull it off.

The Walking Dead: Zombie Special # 1   **
Released in 1990     Cover Price $2.25     Aircel Comics     #1 of 1

Scav is a young boy in a town alone who acts as the law as he imagines himself as a western sheriff and the zombies in his mind are the outlaws! Billy and his motorcycle gang enter the small town looking for a place to stay for the night, this was a bad decision as Scav thinks that Billy is Billy The Kid! One by one the bikers are shot and killed by Scav until only Billy is left and with his trusty gun Scav takes out the biker and the young man goes back to living in his fantasy world of read comics and pretending this zombie infested world is the old west. The second story follows the fall into madness from a Preacher who by the end rises the dead from the church cemetery.

Well I want to say that this Zombie Special issue has some zombies but not a lot and none of them are seen eating people and only once is it implied. The fist story is the best of the two as the second story is clearly just a backup story to pad out the page count. What works in the first is the fact its from the point of view of a young kid who has lost all his loved ones and his sanity in the zombie crisis and has turned his terrible situation into a fantasy world that mirrors the western comic books he reads. Scav is a cool character who is handy with a gun and machete and has lost touch so much that he can not tell the difference between human and zombie. Biker Billy and his gang seem like nomads who just stopped in the wrong place at the wrong time and are out gunned and outsmarted by the towns “Law”. The second story is well drawn at the last two pages but is pretty much a waste. Jim Somerville once more did the art and it’s pretty good, his story telling in this special issue is average and the cover is cool and very miss leading as nothing like that is in the comic. Not amazing but good is the best way to describe this final issue in the original Walking Dead series. Here is some artwork from this issue.

So as you can see this series is not all that great, while it is entertaining and really does capture a great late 80’s independent horror comic mood it’s clear as day that they creators just ran out of ideas and needed to fill four issues and a special. The bottom line did the Image Walking Dead take anything from this comic series besides it’s name…well maybe a tiny amount, but Robert Kirkman and his guys have done a way better job with making the name into a quality horror comic book series. And now that all the living dead have returned to their graves I think it’s time to wrap up with update. But while I closed this Undead File or next update will be a “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update and I will be talking about Killdozer! So until next time make sure to read a horror comic or three, visit a graveyard or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Be ready to come face to blade with Killdozer as this one will be a fun update for sure!


Alien Invasion: Alien Nation

Imagine if tomorrow we found out that there is life on other planets.  Now imagine them coming to Earth and working everyday jobs alongside us; how would your mind handle this? Would you fear them because they were different and not born on Earth? Would you embrace them as fellow living beings? What kind of languages, religions and cultures would they share with us? I for one would be very interested to learn about and from them and would embrace them as fellow living beings….that is unless they are like the aliens from Mars Attacks or Independence Day.  Then I would say we as the world would need to come together and drive them from our planet! Today’s update is an Alien Invasion update that brings aliens to Earth who want to become productive members of our very own society and want to be treated with respect.  These aliens are The Tenctonese aka the Newcomers and are from the film Alien Nation that spawned a TV show, comic books and novels, and we will be digging into the DC Comic adaptation of the film as well as explore the world of the film that was released by 20th Century Fox in 1988! So sit back look to the skies and think about alien friendship, as I am proud to bring you Alien Invasion: Alien Nation.

So let’s start this invasion off right and take a look at the film that this comic is based on, as without this film Alien Nation would not be a cult classic film that many Sci-Fi fans enjoy and love still to this day. The movies write up will be taken from our good friends at IMDB, and after that, I will write a little about my first time seeing Alien Nation as well a few more memories of its legacy.

Alien Nation (1988)

“A few years from now, Earth will have the first contact with an alien civilisation. These aliens, known as Newcomers, slowly begin to be integrated into human society after years of quarantine but are victims of a new type of discrimination. When the first Newcomer police officer, San Francisco is assigned his new partner, he is given Matthew Sykes, a mildly racist veteran, the animosity between them soon gives way to respect as they investigate the Newcomer underworld, and especially Newcomer leader William Harcourt.”

I can remember the ads on TV and in the newspaper for the release of Alien Nation. It really piqued my interest as growing up in the 80’s, just like Horror and Fantasy films, for me Science Fiction was a big genre as films like Star Trek, Star Wars, Aliens, Enemy Mine, Blade Runner, Back To The Future, Planet Of The Apes and Last Starfighter were all popular with fans and my generation as a whole. But sadly, I was not able to go to the theater and see Alien Nation as my parents did not want to go to see it, plus it was rated R so could not see it on my own as I was only around 9 years old when it was out. It would be some years later when I first got to see it thanks to a VHS rental from a local video store on a weekend. I can remember the whole family watching it and all of us enjoying it as it felt like it was a film that had a deeper meaning behind it and yet felt like a true modern style science fiction film. After the first time watching it, we saw it a few other times as it would later go on to be shown on paid cable stations we had, and at some point I ended up buying it on VHS. The film had an amazing cast that included James Caan, Terence Stamp and Mandy Patinkin, all of whom were fantastic in their roles with Stamp and Patinkin being unrecognizable in their roles as aliens. After seeing the film I can also remember watching the TV Show Alien Nation that started in 1989, and I remember finding some of the comics from Adventure Comics years down the line at The Bookie Parlor and can remember going crazy when I got to read the cross over mini series they did with Planet Of The Apes called Ape Nation in 1991. But by the mid 90’s sadly Alien Nation had lost its footing in the world of pop culture as the TV Show was cancelled after only 22 episodes and the comic series from Adventure Comics ended in 1992. But while Alien Nation never got a movie sequel or even a more modern comic series, it still remains a classic 80’s Science Fiction film that I think everyone should check out.

The Tenctonese are from the planet of Tencton and are human like in appearance besides their heads, which have no hair on them and are slightly bigger with reddish spots on them that also run down their spines. They are stronger than a normal man as well as smarter as they were born and bred in order to be slaves. They eat food raw and that includes meat and veggies and in order to get drunk, they gulp down soured milk! They can be poisoned and die by such things as chocolate, tobacco and fluoride with salt almost being like acid to them as it can burn their skin. Their nerves and organs are different than ours as is the way they make love and things that can harm humans seem to have no effect on them including many types of poisons. They also look at sex as something special and not taboo and find adult movies childish. So what I am trying to say is that while they can be killed, they are definitely smarty and stronger than us and if they were real and here on Earth we would be smart to work with them and not against them as they could very much be our downfall!

So we have talked about the film as well as the Tenctonese, and I think it’s time to take a look at the DC Comic adaptation of the film and get this invasion going! I also just want to say that one other reason I think I have always enjoyed Alien Nation is the fact besides being a good science fiction film it also is a good buddy cop film! But if you look in the sky, a message has just been written in the stars and it says, “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story”! So let’s get to it and see if the comic holds up as good as the movie.

Alien Nation # 1  ***
Released in 1988       Cover Price $2.50       DC Comics       # 1 of 1

It’s been three years since the Newcomers came down from space on their ship and became part of the populace in America.  This anniversary is all over the news and is causing people to remember where they were when the aliens landed. While on duty, cops Matthew Sykes and Bill Tuggle are involved in a shootout with some robber newcomers who leave Bill dead and Sykes very bitter toward Newcomers. He decides to team up with promoted Newcomer officer Sam “George” Francisco as he thinks he might be able to help him find who killed his partner as a rash of fake robbery murders have been taken place targeting the aliens. Sykes and Francisco follow the leads and find out one of the gunmen from the robbery worked at a gas plant and that’s the connection between the cop killing and the Newcomer killings. The pair of cops go around and uncover clues and even along the way start to build a friendship as they both see that their job and family is what matters in both of their lives. And soon George opens up to Sykes and lets him in on a Newcomer secret that there is a powerful drug that was made that all Newcomers took when they arrived and some got addicted to it.  The drug has side effects, and he thinks that this drug is the reason for all the killings. They finally are able to figure out that Newcomer William Harcourt is the man behind the killings as well as the man behind making the drugs, and when George and Sykes go to arrest him, he overdoses on the drug and turns into a raging hulking alien monster who stalks Sykes down trying to kill him.  This fight leads them to the ocean, and Sykes is only able to beat Harcourt when he pushes the supped up alien into the salt water that acts as acid and burns him up. George is able to pull Sykes out of the water and into a helicopter and they solve the case, destroy all the drug, take down the super powered alien bad guy and still make it to Sykes daughter’s wedding.

This DC Comic adaptation of the film Alien Nation is a great read and holds the magic of the film and even quickens the pace slightly and delivers a great buddy cop science fiction comic. The film’s plot has a cop whose partner is killed by an alien and his next partner is from the same alien race that murdered his last.  He must learn to put aside his hatred in order to solve the case and become a more tolerate person. This comic does a fantastic job of blending all the elements that made the film special together to make for a quick pace comic. Matthew Sykes is a cop who is good at his job but fails in life at being a good person as he has a rough and hateful attitude, but as he goes long on one of his most important cases he learns to try and be a better person and not hate those who are different from him. Officer Sam “George” Francisco is a Newcomer and the first of his race to be on the force and climb the ranks, he is a good cop who is by the book and he as well learns by the end of this case to lighten up and finds friendship and understands its value in life. Our main bad guy is William Harcourt who is as well a Newcomer and is a rich alien who is very slimy and is involved with drug making, selling and the murders of his fellow race! And once he is discovered to be a scumbag he overdoses on his own drug and causes himself to become a hulking mutant alien and does his best to murder our two main characters! This comic is filled with action, drama and even a little dark humor and this helped add to the enjoyment of the read, and proves that many comic adaptations of films can be well done. The cover to this comic is well done and is eye catching for fans of the film, and the interior artwork is pretty good and is done by Jerry Bingham. Over all this is an entertaining and good comic based on a cult classic film and is worth a read for those who enjoy Aliens and Buddy Cop stories. Check out some artwork below and see what this comic has in store for you.

Alien Nation is a great science fiction film about an alien invasion that allows them to live among us and not try and take us over like say Independence Day or hunt us for sport like Predator that I have covered here at Rotten Ink in the past. But I think it’s time to leave this Alien Invasion behind and crank open another Undead File for our next update as we will take a look at the Original Walking Dead series! So until next time, read a comic or three, watch an Alien film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next time for a zombie gut munching of a good time!


January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

In 1989, hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees, aboard a cruise ship filled with high school seniors, slashed his way into Manhattan, New York and took that city by brutal storm. But just five years before, in 1984, a band of goofy stage performs took it by laughter and cheer.  This band was lead by a noble green man named Kermit The Frog and his friends are The Muppets, and yes, they as well took Manhattan! This film and its STAR Comic mini series adaptation are the topic of this second update of 2018…wow, we are in 2018 and this is amazing as 2017 seemed to fly by. But let’s not focus on that; let’s focus on the third Muppet movie that starred Kermit and the gang getting into a fun and wacky adventure. Like many kids my age, growing up I loved The Muppets and saw this movie a tons of time as it played on HBO when I was a kid. I even taped it off TV on Beta when I was younger. My gal Juliet also loves The Muppets, and I almost had her do this update but decided that I also had some things to say about this movie! So let’s travel to New York with our pal Kermit and see why he and his pals decided to take Manhattan.

The Muppet Show was created by Jim Henson and was a variety show that aired on ABC from 1976-1981.  My brother Bryan and I used to watch it in reruns as even our Dad was entertained by these colorful puppets who had great personalities and added humor by interacting with their celebrity guests. Kermit The Frog was the head of this rag tag group of performers that had the likes of Fozzie Bear a terrible stand up comic, Miss Piggy a diva actress and singer, Gonzo a weird big nosed guy who would do stunts and Rowlf The Dog who played the piano and sang, to name a few. Amazing guest stars like Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Mark Hamill added to the enjoyment of this program that would go on to spawn movies, comic books, video games, novels, cartoons and toys, and this is why Disney ended up buying Jim Henson Productions and continues to make Muppet stuff for fans to enjoy. Now I could really get into the history of The Muppets and their creation and such, but I would rather save that for another update that possibly Juliet will handle.  So our main focus for this update is the third movie adventure they had. But to sum it up, growing up I was a big fan of The Muppets and watched the show in reruns, loved the cartoon Muppet Babies and enjoyed the heck out of the movies over the years….so in other words, The Muppets Rule!

Growing up I was lucky that my Mom would buy me lots of toys from stores like Hearts, Hills and Gold Circle and would find also lots of great toys at garage sales.  Besides The Muppet Babies figures that were in Happy Meals from McDonalds, I had the cool Fisher Price figures called “The Muppet Show Players” that they released in 1978 with a total of seven figures in the set that included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf and Scooter. The figures stood about 3-4” tall and had limited movement and came with a stick that allowed you to clumsily move The Muppet around and make your own plays and shows with them. Now keep in mind that these toys were made a year before I was even born and as a kid, I got some of them from Odd Lots, who had them in stock in the 80’s!! I am not sure if maybe if Fisher Price rereleased them or if a large stock of them was found, but my brother and I had many of them growing up. As I said, our parents got us many from Odd Lots and we also found a few at garage sales. I know I owned Rowlf, Fozzie, Animal and Scooter and remember my brother owning Kermit, Animal and Gonzo, and we both really did enjoy them and kept onto them for many years before we ended up giving them to our cousins when our mom “pushed” us to give many of our toys away to them. But I can remember playing with these toys and having them on the side of the Jedi in the toy wars I used to have when I was a youngster growing up in Waynesville. So did any of you readers grow up having these Muppet Fisher Price toys?

To me, the Muppets are as iconic as Looney Tunes and Disney Cartoon characters and seem to have always been a part of my life from watching them on TV all the way to reading comic book adventures about them and everything in-between! I mean heck, one of the first vinyl records I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. My favorite Muppet of the main cast of characters was Fozzie The Bear as I found him to be a lovable goofy unfunny comedian who was funny because he was not funny! The other that comes close to Fozzie in my book is Gonzo as I love the fact he is so weird, had a creative mind and his close friends are rats and chickens! But my favorite minor character always has been Sweetums, a large ogre monster who towers over Muppets and humans alike and looks like a mean son of a gun but is a semi nice guy unless he is pushed or you mess with his friends. Sweetums first appeared in the TV Special “The Frog Prince” in 1971 and was a bad guy and son of an evil witch Taminella and would later make appearances on The Muppet Show becoming more of a cast member in season two. He would also go on to be in many of The Muppet movies as well as video games, comics, books and toys throughout the run of the show and beyond. I think I have always liked Sweetums lots because I have been a Monster Kid for as long as I can remember, and he looks like a giant monster that could have been the main baddy in any G rated horror film of the 70’s. Many actors have played the character, but the one who made this giant Muppet suit monster his own was Richard Hunt who played him from 1975 to 1991 and the original suit actor was Jerry Nelson who only played him once in 1971 for his first appearance. So while Fozzie and Gonzo are amazing characters who are my main cast favorites, good old Ogre Sweetums has a special place in my heart as well. Take a look at the pics below to see why this aging Monster Kid dug him.

Growing up I always thought that the monster used as a mascot for Noble Roman’s Pizza in the 80’s was The Muppet Sweetums, and once older, thanks to YouTube, I was able to finally see that he was not indeed pushing cheep greasy pizza to hungry people in the 80’s but instead the pizza place made their own walk around Muppet who very much looked like a knock off of Sweetums complete with his under bite bulldog like jaw! But let’s be honest, I really do like the fact Noble Roman’s Pizza has a mascot, and while he is not as memorable to many fast food junkies as say Ronald McDonald, The Noid or Colonel Sanders that we have covered here on Rotten Ink, he still made his mark for those kids in the 80’s who remember him…plus it appears as if they still somewhat use him but have changed him quit a bit as he no longer has brown fur like Sweetums and now has blue and purple fur much like the My Pet Monster doll! In my youth I can only remember eating Noble Roman’s Pizza less than a handful of times and can remember eating there with my cousins Dino and Norman. I have never been a big pizza eater and can remember not really enjoying my slices of the pie from them. Just wanted to throw this in as I am not sure when in the future I would be talking about Sweetums or the knock off Noble Roman’s Pizza mascot…check out the pics below to see why younger me thought they were one and the same.

So I think we are at the point of this update where we will be taking a look at the movie that spawned this comic adaptation and was a film that my brother Bryan and I watched many times and even owned on VHS for years until I, like a fool, sold all my VHS off to a second hand store that underpaid for them all. But here is what we will do for this quick look at the film, I will take the write up from our pals at IMDB and then will talk a little about watching it for the first time aka what I can remember and then talk about how well it did at the box office and such. I hope you’re ready to talk about some Muppets cause we are about to dive in their world!

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

“The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”

If memory serves me right, I first saw this film on HBO when I was a youngster and my Mom use to hype up all the big kids movies that came to that paid station (that we would have on and off during my youth) to me and my brother who always were so eager to watch movies as we both loved cinema even at a very young age. There was always something very magical about watching a Muppet Movie as they always seemed like events much like many of the film series from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s did.  When a new Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park or Batman film was released, it was a major deal to many of my friends as well as the film going public and for the longest time The Muppet films felt that way! While The Muppets Take Manhattan is a great family film and was one I liked, it never was my favorite Muppet film growing up as I always loved The Great Muppet Caper as that one was just over the top silly and was one I had seen more often on TV and home video. The film was released to theaters on July 13, 1984 and was a hit for Tristar as it brought in $25,534,703.00 at the US box office on a budget of $8 million and came in at # 39 for the year beating out such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Neverending Story, Children Of The Corn, Supergirl, This Is Spianl Tap and Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai to name a few. So as you can see, in the 80’s The Muppets had box office draw and were favorites of kids and the young at heart. One thing I do want to also say is that as I kid I always thought it was amazing that the cast of Sesame Street was in this film as they are guests at a very special wedding that we will talk about in the comic review…I wonder if they will make an appearance in the comic or if they will be cut out due to rights issues?

Now that we have talked about Muppets Take Manhattan as well as about my favorite underrated b-cast Muppet, I think it’s time we dive into the adaptation comic mini series released by Star Comics! It’s been a while since I did an update about a Star Comic, and it feels good doing one based on The Muppets as they are a fun one to talk about! Also this is not the last time I will have an update here at Rotten Ink about them as sometime this year or next my gal Juliet will do a bigger update on The Muppets in general. So before we get started, I need to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. So let’s take a trip to New York with Kermit and the rest of The Muppets and see just how they take Manhattan with laughter.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 1  ***
Released in 1984     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 1 of 3

Kermit The Frog as well as his fellow Muppets have just put on a musical show the day the graduated collage and the show is such a hit the crowd and his friends push Kermit to go to New York and try and get it on Broadway! Kermit and friends pack up their stuff and head to New York with fame and stars in their eyes and the first day they go and meet Martin Price who claims to love the show and wants it to go straight to Broadway…but only if Kermit and his friends all pay him $300 a piece! The Muppets know this is wrong and before they can say no the police bust in and try to arrest Price for fraud over the years and this criminal tries to take Gonzo hostage but the blue weirdo is saved by Animal and price is brought to justice. Kermit and pals don’t loose their faith in the show even after day after day and meeting after meeting they get told NO! With no money in their pockets they stop at a diner for some soup and meet the owner, his daughter Jenny and rat waiter Rizzo who all befriend the struggling stage actors and as Kermit gets the soup, Scooter talks the rest of the gang that they should split up and make their own way to impress Kermit and themselves! As his friends all leave New York one at a time Kermit goes to the Empire State Building and looks at the city and gets motivation to get his friends back and his show on Broadway.

This first issue in the adaptation is really well done and captures the mood, music and characters of the film very well. The plot of this first issue has Kermit graduating collage and putting on a great musical show that leaves him being pushed to bring the show to Broadway by the audience and his fellow friends. And once in New York he finds that getting the show on Broadway was way harder than expected and he and his friends sleep in rented lockers and in the end his friends split off from him to get jobs and leave Kermit all alone in the Big Apple. Kermit The Frog is a very creative Muppet who believes in his projects and his friends and is chasing his dreams to be around his friends and entertain the world with his production shows. Kermit is just a great frog who has a heart of gold and makes friends wherever he goes. Scooter is a Muppet who pushes Kermit to do this show and is the goof who tells the other Muppets they should all split up and get normal jobs…what a goon…stand by your friend man if you believe in his art. The rest of The Muppets are around and all have faith in Kermit and don’t want to split away from him but it’s the idea of Scooter that forces them to all walk away, so it’s sad to say but I think Scooter is this issues bad guy next to the con man Martin Price! Jenny and the diner workers are all good people who you know will be playing a bigger part in issue # 2! Very solid issue and a great way to start off this mini series, and I must say the cover is amazing and very eye catching for fans of The Muppets and the interior art it top notch kids comic stuff done by Dean Yeagle and is the style that made me fall in love with Star Comics all those years back in my youth. I can’t wait to see how issue 2 brings the story to life.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price .60      Star Comics     # 2 of 3

Kermit is motivated to get his show on Broadway and his friends back in New York and heads to Pete’s Diner and gets a part tome job working in the kitchen as does Rizzo’s fellow rat friends! While Kermit is trying to get his show picked up a weird person in shadow keeps following him! Kermit has Jenny help him by designing cloths that he thinks will make agents pay him more attention and sadly this seems to not help get his show off the ground. The shadow figure following him is Miss Piggy who gets upset when she see’s Jenny hug Kermit and worse when se returns to her job she is fired after getting an extreme make over from her co-worker! Kermit does not give up and this time takes Rizzo and the other rats to a high-end restaurant in order to build up his show but once more he his tossed out and the show is not picked up. After being defeated again Kermit is down in the dumps and runs back into Miss Piggy who has beat up a would be purse snatcher and he gets her a job at Pete’s as a waitress. Good news comes via a letter when Kermit is called to meet a producer who turns out to be the young son of the producer who wants his first project to be Kermit’s musical! Super hyped Kermit calls Jenny at the restaurant and tells her that the show is going to happen and that she can do costumes and to let Piggy know that they are Broadway bound. As Kermit leaves the building to get back to Pete’s he is hit by a car and looses his memory!

Kermit in this issue pushes forward on trying his best to get his show to play in New York as well as get his friends to come back so they can all work together and make something special. Kermit also tries to change who he is in order to get the attention of producers and dresses like a goof and even acts and says things like one. Also Pete’s Diner turns out to be great place for Kermit to work as it puts a little cash in his pocket, is a home base for him as well as he has met lots of new friends. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo as well as the fellow rats are all great people who clearly believe in Kermit and his musical, as they are all willing to help him in his time of need and depression. Miss Piggy while she has walked away from Kermit she still loves him and has stayed in New York in order to keep an eye on him and once they meet back up she ends up working with him at the diner. The young producer is a good kid who clearly has seen the talent and special nature of the Kermit musical and chooses it as his first project even though his father does not share his love for Kermit’s play. This issue is great and builds up more of the will that Kermit has to make his own way and to impress his friends and also delivers us drama in the way of Kermit getting hit by a car and forgetting who he is making the musical’s future in jeopardy. The only down side of this issue is that besides Kermit, Miss Piggy and Rizzo none of the other Muppets make an appearance besides a brief cameo of The Muppet Babies in a two panel flashback and this is a bummer for fans of the other characters. This issue has a good cover and once more fantastic art by Dean Yeagle and is another top notch kids comic adapting a great kids movie. So lets see what issue three the final issue in this mini series has in store for us!

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 3 of 3

Kermit is taken to the hospital after being hit by a car and is a blank slate not even knowing his own name. Meanwhile Miss Piggy, Jenny, Rizzo and Pete are awaiting his return and when hours pass and the producer of the show stops by to say the show starts in 2 weeks they must try and find their missing friend! As they hit the streets looking for him Pete writes telegrams of the good news and The Muppets all come back to town and meet at the diner and all are told of Kermit missing and all hit the streets looking for him and all come up empty handed. Kermit is now going by Phil and is working at an ad firm and just by luck on opening night he and his co-workers stop at Pete’s for lunch and his friends are happy to see him, but he don’t remember them so they kidnap him and take him to the theater to try and jog his mind. After hours of trying they are not able to and the show starts and just before they are to go on without him Kermit laughs at the fact Miss Piggy loves him and she slaps him so hard he hits his head on the wall and snaps back to normal and rushes to get onstage on time for the start of his opening night of his big musical. The show is a hit as the crowd loves it, Kermit has his friends all around him as they do the show and he and Miss Piggy are married live on stage as part of the show and this is how The Muppet Took Manhattan!

The finial issue in this adaptation is just as good as the first two issues and shows just why Star Comics when around was the best kids comic company going, better than Archie and Harvey and all others of that time. The plot of this issue has Kermit with memory loss wondering around New York as Phil as his friends and musical are in need of him. And when all looks lost Kermit remembers who he is and pulls off a massive hit musical and even marries his long time girlfriend Piggy live during the show! I love that Kermit takes on the name Phil and works along side other frogs and creates cheesy ads and slogans for products like soap! I also love as Phil is he kind of rude and laughs in Piggy’s face when she talks of her and Kermit’s plans for marriage…yeah he laughs in her face and gets slapped for his terrible manners! But I love that when he remembers who he is Kermit kicks into creative gear and gets stuff done! Miss Piggy in this issue loves her green skinned man and worries about him missing and does what she can to try and find him, and while she tricks him into marriage she is not nearly as diva acting as she normally is. The rest of The Muppets (Gonzo, Fozzie, Scooter, ect.) are all background players and do what they do well and that’s add fun moments to this comic and story. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo show that they are great friends as they as well get worried about Kermit and do what they can to help find him and make his show a hit. I also love that they did add the Sesame Street characters to the wedding and that through out the issue you get cameos from those cranky old critics Statler And Waldorf who as well add their own brand of humor. The cover of this issue has Miss Piggy and Kermit getting married and is eye catching for fans of The Muppets and once more Dean Yeagle and is great stuff. This three issue mini series is a must read for fans of The Muppets and the film its based on as it is a pure fun all age comic series that is entertaining and just plan fun! I would say that my favorite Character in this mini series is Kermit as how can you not like a guy trying to chase his creative dream and wants to share it with his friends. While my favorite backup character would be Rizzo as who don’t like a rat who waits tables and gets all his other rat friends jobs. So to sum it up make if you dig Kermit and his friends make sure to give this a read. Check out some art from this comic series done by Dean Yeagle below and see just how fun it is.

The Muppets are icons of TV and kid friendly shows, and while they have lost some steam nowadays, they still have a special place in my heart as seeing them they make me think of my youth and all the good times I had with my family watching them on TV and movies. And as I have said, this will not be the last time you will see The Muppets here at Rotten Ink.  Juliet confirmed with me that she will indeed be doing an update about them in the future! For our next update, we will be walking away from New York and The Muppets and head to the world of Horror Hosting and a rundown mansion that is the home of the one and only Ghost Host.  This Maryland Horror Host will be the next Icon we chat about. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update ghost and ghoulies!

A Very Merry NES Challenge Christmas Eve: Dragon’s Lair

Merry Christmas Eve to all you readers and friends, and this year has been a weird and wild ride for me as lots of great things have happened, from moving into a new home to making amazing comics with my friends at Sparkle Comics and even getting to travel to Evans City Cemetery twice this year! But sadly this year has also been a rough one for fans of horror as we lost many of our icons like George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Martin Landau, Michael Parks, Bill Paxton, Umberto Lenzi and Lon Madnight and each loss was very sad. Not to mention the world of entertainment lost many other names like Tom Petty, Bernie Wrightson, Adam West, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, Ivan Koloff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, George Steele and Basil Gogos to name a few. So make sure this holiday season to cherish your family, friends, co-workers and celebrities and anyone who offers something to your life. So let’s get back to the joy of the holiday and our topic at hand: Dragon’s Lair in the world of video games, cartoons and comics, and yes, I will even have an NES Challenge and try my best to try and beat the game! So grab your armor and helmet as we are about to go on a winter wonderland adventure with Dirk The Daring!

The hero of the world of Dragon’s Lair is the one and only Dirk The Daring, a high ranking knight for the kingdom who is selected to save the Princess Daphne from all the evil that keeps trying to kidnap her and do her harm. Dirk is well respected by the Kingdom as he is very loyal and brave and later even becomes the husband of Daphne, making him an heir to the throne! Dirk was trained at a young age to be a brave knight as he was in the Squire Scouts and even earned top badges during this time. When ready for battle Dirk gears up with his iconic armor that includes his orange over shirt and uses his sword as well as his fists, feet and head in order to fight off his enemies. I should also note that Dirk The Daring was only chosen to save the Princess after all the other knights in the Kingdom failed and were killed on this quest! So to sum up Dirk The Daring it would be this, he is a brave, loyal and smart knight who is willing to risk his life to save the Princess from a dragon and wizard and for this selfless action even finds himself the heir to the crown! Dirk The Daring is a very simple character who embodies the classic knight of old lore and is one iconic and yet sometime forgotten classic video game character.

In 1983, arcades were all the rage as machines were all over the place from pizza parlors to grocery stores.  These machines gobbled up many of players’ quarters as games like Pac-Man Jr., Donkey Kong 3 and Mario Bros. had eager gamers waiting in long lines to get a chance to try to get the top score on the machine! And during this early day of arcade machine domination, cartoonist Don Bluth and writer Rick Dyer created an interactive animated laserdisc game that as well took the arcade world by storm and even sparked sequels and many homeports of the game! The arcade game was such a hit that it, along side Pong and Pac-Man, are the only three arcade machines stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.! The game has been ported and remade for many home systems like Sega CD, Xbox, Playstation 2, CD-I, Nintendo DS and so many others including cell phones! In 1990, the game was released by Imagesoft, who made the game more of a side scrolling adventure game and took away the animated character of Dirk The Daring and made him into a 8-Bit hero of the home console generation as the game followed the same plot of the arcade game and turned up the difficulty to deliver a true challenging game. But with this change and the difficulty level came frustration as Dirk can be killed with one hit and almost everything can kill him including closed doors. This made gamers and critics go crazy, and the game was not well received and is considered as one of the worst games for the NES. So now that we have a brief history of this game and we learned about its over all poor reception from gamers, I can’t wait to spend a day trying to beat it on the NES!

Really quick I also need to briefly talk about the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd where he took on Dragon’s Lair for the Nintendo Entertainment System! Back in 2007 for episode 37, The Nerd took a funny and frustrating look at Dragon’s Lair and went crazy trying his best to beat the game for the NES and found out that the game is brutal and unforgiving and nothing at all like the arcade game it was based on. Try after try he ended up losing his character’s lives and losing his cool in the process! This is a very funny episode that has the nerd drinking to try and deal with the brutal nature of the game and ends with him bumping into a close door and dying just like the character of Dirk in the video game. If you like crude and funny humor videos on YouTube, give this one a watch as it’s a good one.

In 1984, a cartoon of Dragon’s Lair was released by Rudy-Spears Productions for ABC and was part of the sadly long gone Saturday Morning Cartoons. The toon followed Dirk The Daring as he once more did his best to save and protect the lovely Princess Daphne from evil such as Singe The Dragon and Phantom Knight and at the end of each episode we are left with a cliffhanger leaving the viewer wondering how Dirk is to escape his approaching doom. The cartoon was short lived and only lasted 13 episodes and would later be replayed in reruns on USA Cartoon Express and Boomerang where it found a new audience. Voice actor Bob Sarlatte voiced Dirk The Daring while Ellen Gerstell lent her pipes to Princess Daphne. While this cartoon was not super popular and never made a huge impact in the world of toons, it was released on DVD thanks to Warner Brothers and now fans can relive it or even discover it for the first time. I remember barely it and know that I have seen episodes on USA Network but sadly don’t remember much about it besides I liked it.

Before I get into the NES Challenge part of this update, I want to also talk very briefly about some of the cool merchandise that has been made based on Dragon’s Lair that included coloring books, picture books, DVDs, comics, video games, stickers, plastic toys, trading cards, lunchbox and even very cool action figures! So what I am trying to say is that if you’re a fan, you can get yourself some cool items or heck maybe even ask Santa for some next Christmas! I think the action figures are pretty dang cool and are something that I feel I must track down.

So I decided to take my NES Challenge of Dragon’s Lair on November 8, 2017 as Juliet had to work all day and I was itching to try and tackle this legendary hard game! So starting at 9pm I hooked up the old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready for the show down of a lifetime! I poured a large glass of water, grabbed my iced coffee and opened a small bag of chips and cleared my head of other projects I was working on and knew that I had to take control of Dirk The Daring, as he needed to save Princess Daphne…so here is what happened in my showdown: upon starting the game up I noticed that the good old RES is starting to have some issues and that the controller has having major issues as it acted like it was not plugged in, and after working on it, I finally got it to work and my first impression was wow this game sucks as the controls seem delayed and this causes you to be open to the attack of the sea monster that is the first baddy you encounter! Plus while bats only drain your energy such things as rocks, doors, fire and most other bad guys can kill you in one hit! After playing for a few moments and lots of frustration, I was able to get into the castle and then that’s when the major frustration kicked in as the slow sloppy controls, one hit kills and random pop up enemies all kept causing Dirk to die and me to start the quest all over! No matter how much I tried, I was stuck in that damn dungeon and was driven to anger on just how terrible this game I was playing really was! After several hours of playing I really built up a strong dislike for the game and quickly forfeited to its suckiness, and I am not ashamed to say I did not beat Dragon’s Lair for the NES as its terrible controls made it a waste of time in trying to play as it seemed like it was fighting you not to advance. Below are some pics of me playing this game….man it was so bad!

So that NES Challenge was a waste as I found myself really disliking the game play and the delay really annoyed me to the point I just needed to walk away. But we are now at the point of the update where we will be taking a look at the comics based on Dragon’s Lair, and we will start with the Cross Gen series and work our way into the Arcana release. So as we sit here waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, the snow man in the front yard would like for me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So grab some hot chocolate or even some eggnog and let’s take an epic Christmas Eve journey with Dirk The Daring! I also want to thank Lone Star Comics, Ebay and Amazon for having these comics in stock so that I could do this update.

Dragon’s Lair # 1  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 1 of 3

The evil dragon Singe has his sights on revenge when it comes to Dirk The Daring, and this revenge has also sparked pure hatred and bloodlust of wanting to see our hero dead for all of the dragons he has killed in the past! Princess Daphne has been asked to run the Kingdom while the King is away, and as she and Dirk are on their way there, they are attacked by Singe and his smaller sidekicks.  Soon Dirk and Daphne find out that this dragon is super powerful as he defeats Dirk and takes Princess Daphne prisoner. After waking up from his defeat, Dirk The Daring heads to the Kingdom and finds a group of heroes that want to help on his quest to get the Princess back that are Leraene, the female Captain of the Royal Guard, and Drake, a young wizard’s apprentice who uses what little knowledge he has to look into the flame and sees lots of enemies and the dark castle that Singe is hiding the Princess in. Dirk tells his friends they must stay and guard the kingdom, and he finds that Daphne is being held in a magical bubble that in two days will warp her mind and cause her to be Singe’s slave and that the only way to kill Singe is by using a magical sword called the DragonFang that is as well in the castle. Dirk has the info he needs and gears up and heads out to save the day as our first issue ends.

The is a very fun and slow burn fantasy adventure comic that does its best to bring the video game characters and universe to the comic book world, and in my opinion they do a pretty good job of doing so. The plot is simple, that the granddaddy of all dragons Singe is mad at Dirk The Daring for killing many of his kind and wants revenge and sets out his plan that includes kidnapping the princess and taking her to a place that will be filled with lots of dangers all with the hopes of ending the life of Dirk! Our hero is Dirk The Daring, a noble and strong knight who does not back down in the face of danger and will do whatever he can to protect The Princess who he respects and loves. Dirk also kind of has an ego but not to the point that he is narcissistic or cruel to characters around him he just is very confident and don’t have time for those who drag their feet around him. Daphne, while a princess, is also very much a skilled fighter, and while she was kidnapped during this issue, she at least tried her best to fight back even biting the dragon, so clearly she is not your typical weak princess kind of character. Singe is a massive dragon who is not only powerful and filled with fire breathing rage but also is super smart and has hatched a plan to get revenge. I really cant wait to see what Singe has in store for our heroes. Drake is a goofball but his limited magical knowledge could come in handy, and Leraene is skilled and a great warrior to be at Dirk’s side in this rescue quest. I also am looking forward to seeing what they will offer in the upcoming issues. While the action of this comic is at the start and the rest is building up the story, I found this first issue to be a solid read and showed that CrossGen understood the folklore and character history of Dragon’s Lair. The cover is eye catching, and I am sure not only brought in fans of the video game but also adventure comic fans. The comic’s interior art was done by Fabio Laguna, and is top notch classic animated looking art showing they hired all the right people to make this comic book work! Over all I am looking forward to reading issue two, and can’pt wait to see what Dirk The Daring and his friends are planning on this rescue mission.

Dragon’s Lair # 2  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen      # 2 of 3

Dirk The Daring enters a creepy swamp, and after finding a Hydra Snake, he finds himself in quicksand and must hope that his trusty horse saves him in time. Meanwhile Singe thanks that Dirk died from their first battle and Princess Daphne soon finds out that the Dragon has many human brides that were once princess as well and that soon she will loose her free will and become one of his brides as well! As Dirk is saved by his lucky horse who is named Bertram ,and they find themselves at a dark castle that belongs to the Lizard King who is helping Singe and wants to do his best to kill our hero! As Bertram leads the alligator henchmen away from the castle Dirk and Lizard King have a fight that leads the evil Lizard King falling out of a window and into the mouths of his hungry alligators who eat him alive, as Dirk The Daring and Bertram head toward the dark castle of Singe.

In this second issue, Dirk The Daring fights the Lizard King (no, not Jim Morrison of the band The Doors!) as well as all the creepy crawlers of the swampland and gets one step closer to rescuing his true love. Dirk The Daring is focused on his quest at hand, and once more proves he is not scared to risk his own life in order to save his Princess. I also really like that Dirk on his quest is really leaning on his trusty horse Bertram for backup and boy does this horse help pull his fat out of the fire a couple of times. Dirk is a great hero in comics just like he is in video games, and in this issue he acts like a true knight! Singe is once more shows that he is cold blooded as he enjoys the fact that he has enslaved many of Princesses and that he killed Dirk The Daring or so he thinks. The Lizard King is a loud mouth little reptile man who tries his best to end the quest of Dirk but is out classed when it comes to battle and finds himself dinner for his very own pet gators! I really like the dingy swamp atmosphere in this issue as it adds a feeling of dread to the quest and is filled with snakes, spiders and killer lizards showing that many sinister things are going to stand in the way of Dirk’s rescue mission. While the first issue was part action and part story drama, this second issue goes for mostly action and only a small part drama making for a quick and fun read. The cover is pretty cool and once more eye catching for fans of the game and adventure comics. The interior art is once more done by the talented Fabio Laguna and is great stuff. This second issue is just as entertaining as the first, and I can’t wait to see what the third and final issue has in store for Dirk The Daring and us the readers.

Dragon’s Lair # 3  **1/2
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 3 of 3

Princess Daphne finds herself stuck in the bubble, and none of the other Princess will help her escape as the mind washing of free will is creeping even closer, and Singe himself has the only key to open the bubble around his neck! Meanwhile Dirk The Daring and Bertram have entered a graveyard and soon find that they are being surrounded by zombies and skeletons that want both man and horse dead as they are craving death and souls! Dirk and his trusty horse fight the horde of the undead and even trick a massive skeleton into destroying himself! After they escape the graveyard they make their way even closer to the castle of Singe.

This issue is lots of fun but also slips a little as I found it to be a little lackluster on the adventure part, and Dirk fighting the undead seemed like it was just him running through them and them exploding into piles of bones…and I never felt he was in danger in this issue like I did in the past two. But while this issue is not as solid as the past two, I still want to stress that it is a very good issue even with this slight flaw. The issue’s thin plot has Dirk The Daring charging through a graveyard filled with the reanimated dead while Princess Daphne tries to figure out how to escape the magical ball she is trapped in as it’s trying to drain her of her own will and mind. Dirk and Bertram in this issue are once more working as a team and do well for themselves in this battle, and Dirk’s sword cuts down their enemies, as does the mighty back kick of Bertram.  They make a great comic duo and are top notch heroes for sure. Princess Daphne, even while captured, proves that she herself is also a warrior as she is not giving up and tries all she can to escape the odds that are clearly against her. It’s a shame that CrossGen lost the rights of Dragon’s Lair comics, and this was the final issue in their series as it leaves the story unfinished and Daphne still in that dang bubble! Singe is a sinister and sleazy dragon as he eats people, bosses princesses and makes them dress sexy and seems to get joy in causing death and destruction. The Undead, while they swarm in masses, they just were outmatched by Dirk, and they mostly just fell apart after one hit making them no major threat. I think what works for me about this series this far is the fact they did a fantastic job of blending the Dragon’s Lair video game and the cartoon together to make a fun and entertaining comic series that brings all the elements that made Dragon’s Lair special together. The cover on this third issue is okay and in my opinion is a little generic, but still also somewhat eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is top notch stuff as he captures the mood and spirit of the characters. I think the downside to this comic series is that CrossGen dropped the ball when they did not finish the story arch as three issues are missing to make this series complete. But lucky for readers, in 2006 independent comic company Arcana decided to finish this series and allow readers to see how the adventure quest ended. I feel its my duty to track those down to give you all a true look at Dragon’s Lair so let’s see what is next of Dirk thanks to Arcana! And not to confuse any of your readers I will number them as if they are part of the CrossGen set, but keep in mind while it will say its issue 4 for Arcana it’s only issue # 2!

Dragon’s Lair # 4  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana     # 2 of 4

Dirk The Daring and Bertram find themselves at a flowing river of lava and must split up in order to get across. Dirk dashes across on boulders and finds that he is not alone as Mud Men appear and attack! Dirk decides instead of fighting them and wasting what little time he has left to save the Princess, he dives below into a river that ends up leading him to the castle of Singe. Meanwhile inside the castle Princess Daphne tries to trick Singe and his slave women into believing that she is indeed wanting to be a part of his harem but soon finds the dragon king is smart and knows she is playing games in order to escape. Dirk meanwhile has entered the castle and finds all types of ghouls and baddies waiting for him that includes small purple ones that are multiplying! Dirk outsmarts them but soon finds himself behind a door that leads to a fire pit and attacking purple enemies behind it!

Dirk furthers his quest as he makes it past the Mud Men, out runs tiny purple knife swinging goblins and makes it to the castle of Singe! While this is a great adventure and continues the quest, I did once more feel that none of the baddies he faces are any threats to stopping him! Dirk The Daring as always is super brave and shows that he is also smart as when time or the odds are against him, he knows just they way to get away safe. Bertram is barely in this issue as he breaks away from Dirk in the lava river and disappears.  I hope they don’t write him out of the series and that he comes back in the next issue. Drake and Leraene also make a small cameo as they can see what the Princess is doing and mostly chat about her sexy outfit…weird. Princess Daphne however is still not giving up the fight and wants to murder Singe with her own bare hands if she can escape the bubble! Singe is getting cocky as he thinks Dirk is dead and that the Princess will soon be mind wiped and his slave forever. The Mud Men and Purple Goblin guys are cool but are easily tricked and are left in the dust for the most part. I do like the idea of Mud People and for some reason it made me think of the Muck Men in the 1980’s horror film Spookies. The cover for this issue is pretty fantastic, and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is topnotch stuff. So over all it was great to see the next issue in this series after Cross Gen dropped the ball withnot finishing it. So let’s see what the next issue has in store.

Dragon’s Lair # 5  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 3 of 4

Dirk The Daring is stuck on a small ledge above a fire pit with the creepy little purple goblins behind him and climbs his way out and dodges a horde of bats before entering a chamber where a beautiful dark haired woman is asking Dirk for his help. The woman is brainwashing Dirk that she is the true one she needs to help and while seducing him, he notices that she is not a hottie but a green skinned witch! Meanwhile Princess Daphne’s will is starting to break as she is down and almost given up as Singe tries to tell her he is not the bad guy that Dirk is as he has killed many of his dragon children and he is doing this for revenge…and that he is evil! Dirk meanwhile fights off the trance, and the witch calls in the Black Knight, an armored killing machine, who throws Dirk around and just as he is about to choke our hero to death the Black Knight gets his arms cut off by a gasping Dirk who then also kicks his armless foe out of a window. The Witch is now very mad and tries to use a spell to turn Dirk into a statue, but our hero is too smart for her and her spell bounces off a mirror and freezes her. As Dirk leaves her room he falls through a trap door!

This fifth issue is really good, and my only major complaint is that for some reason Dirk The Daring spews one-liners like Ash from the Evil Dead movie series, and it’s just not fitting for Dirk. The plot of this one is very simple Dirk is now in the castle where his true love is being held captive while she is being tormented by the evil dragon. Dirk in this issue gets seduced, wises up and hacks up a knight who is trying to kill him…so as you can see Dirk is a man on a mission and will not back down from his quest at hand. Singe is an evil dragon that really does get joy is torturing his captive prisoner and who clearly likes being powerful and in charge. I also like how Singe at first makes it that you feel bad for him as he talks about the reason he is doing this is cause Dirk killed so many of his children and he felt he needed to get revenge for them, and then says plus he is just evil and enjoys all the bad he does. Poor Princess Daphne is starting to loose her strong will as it appears she is stuck with no hope of being rescued before the next full moon and her mind is turned to mush and she becomes another bride of Singe. The Witch is sinister and uses the appearance of a very hot woman to lure Dirk in and when he finds out she is not what she appears she wants him dead and is indeed a threat! The Black Knight as well is very much a threat as he only has one thing on his dark mind and that’s to kill Dirk and even when his arms are chopped off and is kicked out of a castle window he still is silent and its clear he would still fight Dirk until his very last breath! The plus for this issue for sure is the fact The Witch and Black Knight appear as if they could in fact kill Dirk and both at least put up a major fight. The cover is super cool and I am sure caught many eyes of comic readers and the interior once more is done by the talented Fabio Laguna and man its really sad that we only have one more issue to go in this series so lets see how this quest ends.

Dragon’s Lair # 6  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 4 of 4

Dirk The Daring falls hard to the ground after stepping onto a trapdoor and shakes off the effects and finds himself at the gold treasure room of Singe who is fast asleep.  As he makes his way to Princess Daphne, it’s clear the bubble is starting to make her dumber and when all the other slave women freak out over seeing a real man, a screaming match breaks out and this awakens Singe who is ready for battle. Dirk tries all he can to defeat the dragon from his trusty sword, an ax and even a spear and nothing seems to slow Singe down, but this is all a plan as Dirk tricks Singe into melting the stone that traps the DragonFang sword, and he uses this blade to slay Singe and is just in time to get the key from around the dragon’s neck and free Princess Daphne from the bubble, and by shattering the bubble, this also frees the minds of all the other slave women and once more Dirk The Daring is the hero!

This final issue is fast paced and has a good and fantasy final battle between Dirk and Singe that leads to an ending fitting even for the game, as almost the whole issue is the final battle and it ends with a sword to the heart of the dragon. Dirk The Daring shows why he is considered the top knight of the kingdom as he uses both skill and smarts to slay the dragon and free the Princess. That’s one thing about Dirk throughout these six issues he stays as noble and heroic making him a true hero and icon of video games and comic books. While he can also be goofy and stumble around, it was the one-liners in issue five that was the only thing I didn’t like about the comic version of this character. Princess Daphne in this issue is becoming dumb and her will is almost broken, but once save she is the kick butt woman she needs to be and becomes a great character that can also defend herself. Princess Daphne is a great character and while her captive outfit might border on porn star look, she still is a very strong female character who does not play the victim even when she is in trouble. Bertram is a loyal horse who in his own right is a hero as he saves Dirk’s life many times in this comic and is also very brave, the down side is when Arcana took over doing the comic series this horse takes a back seat and only appears at the start of issue 4 (2) and does not show back up to the very end of issue 6 (4) making him a minor player when he should have been major. Leraene and Drake are very much background hero characters and in fact add nothing really cool to the story and could have been cut out and it would have not mattered to the story. Singe is a great bad guy as he is not only a massive dragon but he is also sleazy and dangerous who enjoys all aspects of being evil! I also like the fact he is ready to fight and kill any hero who dares cross his mean spirited path. The other baddies in this comic series are just speed bumps in Dirks quest with The Black Knight being my second favorite villain in this series being Singe. I must say I do think that the creative team behind these comics really did a great job of capturing the fun and epic feel of the Don Bluth’s video game. The cover for this final issue is pretty great and show cases Dirk with Singes image in his sword. The Interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is good stuff as even some of his rushed looking panels are still amazing! I also like how in this issue a panel has golden statues of Orko from Masters Of The Universe as well as one of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker! I also really like the fact that this comic series when dropped by the original publisher was able to be finished three years later thanks to a Publisher who picked up the slack and allowed fans to get the full story. If you’re a fan of the video game and or the cartoon this comic series is for you! Below is some artwork form this fun adventure series.

So as you can see, while the NES game based on Dragon’s Lair is a stinker, the comic series was not. Growing up I never had a full connection to these characters but always did at least find them cool, and I really wished I had read these comics when released in 2003/2006 as I think I would have even enjoyed them back then. But I just finished my last glass of eggnog, and I think I can hear reindeer hooves on the roof so I think we should get some slumber so Santa can do his work. Our next update will be my Best Of Cinema of 2017, and man ,I am looking forward to you readers checking it out. So have a wonderful Christmas, and I will see you all next year!

Do You Hear What I Hear Through The Grapevine

Happy Holidays Rotten Inkers! Tis the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire and visions of raisins dancing in your head. That’s right, raisins..from California. Yes, I, Juliet will be your guide as we explore the 1980s sensations, The California Raisins and their journey from commercial mascots to masters of media and merchandise. I’m sure you’re wondering, other than figgy pudding, what’s the connection between raisins and the holidays? One of the best-loved appearances of the California Raisins just happens to be in William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Special, which we’ll talk about more in depth in just a bit. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the special and of the California Raisins Show, the Saturday morning cartoon based on America’s favorite dried grapes, and I continue to have a formidable collection of California Raisins figures. So come along with me as we travel to Raisinville and learn all about the California Raisins, including the Blackthorne 3-D comics based on them.

As legend has it, in 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board was trying to come up with an idea for a commercial when one of the writers, Seth Werner, said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine'” and thus the Raisins were born. Well, they were born through the claymation work of William Vinton and his Vinton Studios. The four main Raisins commercials were: Lunchbox, which featured the Raisins dancing out of a construction worker’s lunchbox on a high rise. The Late Show featured the Raisins dancing past other, less healthy snacks on a side table while a late night talk show played. Raisin Ray featured the Raisins alongside a claymation Ray Charles, and Michael Raisin featured them with, yes, a claymation Michael Jackson.


In 1987, the Raisins appeared in something very near and dear to my heart growing up, William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas special. It hosted by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs resembling Siskel and Ebert, who actually give some great historic context for the well known holiday carols featured in the program. The songs were done as super elaborate (and time-consuming to create) claymation-style skits, some of which were created in such a way to appear fluid, almost paint-like instead of looking like stop-motion. The songs featured were: We Three Kings, which starts fairly traditionally but get groovy thanks to singing camels, a comedic Carol of the Bells, O Christmas Tree which takes us into ornaments, Angels We Have Heard On High, which features two walruses ice skating in what feels like a subtle nod to the Fantastia Hippo Ballerinas. Joy To the World is a stunning collage of constant motion that celebrates African American culture. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is performed by the California Raisins, putting a little magic into the air after a Christmas eve gig (ala, as the Raisins often were, the Temptations). The hosts get their own story about wassailing, which is mistaken for waffling, waddling, wallowing, etc. This one, upon rewatch, puzzled me a bit. Are the actual wassailers at the end elves or leprechauns? When I was young I thought they were elves, but have they been leprechauns, or perhaps drunken locals the whole time? Weigh in, dear readers. The half hour Claymation Christmas Special debuted on CBS alongside the Garfield Christmas Special and the pair often ran together during the holiday season. I had one night’s CBS holiday lineup (that included Micky’s Christmas Carol, the Claymation-Garfield pairing and A Charlie Brown Christmas) taped on TV on VHS that was yearly, mandatory holiday viewing even after many of these were dropped from regular rotation.


In 1988, the Raisins became fully fleshed out characters in their CBS special Meet the Raisins. This rockumentary mockumentary (think Spinal Tap, but with vegetables and suitable for small children) was produced by Vinton Studios and won an Emmy nomination. It actually wasn’t until this point that the Raisins got their names: A.C., Red, Stretch, and Beebop. The special also featured supporting characters such as Rudy Bagaman, the Raisins’ manager, who would go on to be one of the leading characters in the 1989 California Raisins cartoon, The California Raisins Show. That cartoon had a 13 episode run between September and December – kind of a shocker as my younger self seemed convinced that it lasted much longer. Instead of claymation, this show featured traditional cel animation from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, but William Vinton served as creative director and executive producer so it definitely kept with his vision of the Raisins’ story. Many of the fruit and vegetable characters that were introduced in Meet the Raisins were prominent supporting characters in the cartoon, and many characters that were created for the cartoon (including my absolute favorite Lick Broccoli) then made appearances in the 1990 claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, which, furthering the Spinal Tap metaphor, saw had the Raisins attempting to mount a comeback with a new manager. This would be the last TV show/special for the Raisins, and they wouldn’t have much of a TV presence for many years to follow.


During their short run, the California Raisins got a lot of merchandise created in their wrinkly image, and many of it has ended up in the Smithsonian permanent collection. Perhaps the most ubiquitous were the Raisins figurines that came out in assorted series from Hardee’s between 1987 and 1991, and were also stellar garage sale finds. I’ve been able to piece together a sizable collection of little guys, some of which I’ve had since the late 80s. In addition to the figure, there were Raisins t-shirts, Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, posters, coloring books, music albums, and a Capcom video game that was created but never officially released – though luckily it has made its way into the world via the homebrew game market. You can also check out a good representation of the California Raisins commercials, Meet the Raisins, The Raisins: Sold Out, and the entire run of the California Raisins Show on a two-DVD set called appropriately enough, The California Raisins Collection.

In 1987, as part of their series of 3D comics based on licensed properties, Blackthorne began a five issue run of comics based on the California Raisins, and these books are the subject of today’s comic reviews.  I heard it through the grapevine that here on Rotten Ink, we grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.  So let’s take the boat to Raisinville and get to know our new favorite band, the California Raisins!

The California Raisins 3-D # 1   *** 1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 1 of 5

Under the cover of night, the Raisinville Chamber Orchestra is kidnapped and loaded onto a boat by masked bandits. The next morning, two young Raisins happen upon a flyer looking for musicians to play the mayoral election. As they head into town, they pick up another Raisin as a hitchiker and find their fourth and fifth potential bandmates playing a whistle on the street. As suspicious advertisements for Snax pop up around town, the new bandmates visit the music store to pick up some instruments, but find that the beloved owner has mysteriously retired, all the instruments are gone, and the store is now home to a surly French Fry Man selling Snax. The Raisins move on to the Chamber Orchestra’s headquarters where they and other raisins queue up for auditions, but something’s fishy as raisins are going in, but no one is coming out. The Raisins catch site of a group of Sugar Cubes up to no good and rush to city hall to warn the mayor. The mayor, however, is nonplussed. He’s worried that his opponent in the election, Big Burger, is trying to run him out of town, but he stops mid-thought upon chomping down on some Snax. This is when the Raisins realize that there’s something amiss; the Snax are turning their fellow raisins into zombies and the only cure is music. So they commandeer Big Burger’s campaign vehicle, which is equipped with a loudspeaker and do their thing. Mayor Van Raisin is re-elected and Big Burger and his Snax are run out of town.

This was such a fun read! It threw me at first because the Raisins (the main ones that is) don’t use their names at all in this book, but that’s because this came out before they had names. That said, all of the hallmarks of the developing California Raisins world were present: the power of music, junk food more often than not being portrayed as the villains of the story, and the delightful little details like the picture on the wall of a bottle of wine labeled Uncle Vino. The artwork was really well done by an unnamed artist, especially considering that the majority of the characters were raisins and you could still distinguish who was who. I liked the 3D effect, though quite honestly, I would enjoy this comic entirely on its own merit so it wasn’t necessarily a selling point for me (in fact, I had a harder time reading it, not because the 3D was poorly done, but just because my eyes have trouble focusing with old school red and blue 3D glasses). This five issue run is off to a strong start, so let’s see how the rest go.

The California Raisins 3-D # 2  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 2 of 5

In a prologue, Big Burger looks at Raisinville from afar and vows that the town will be his as his junk food henchmen bring a display of the Raisins, Big Burger’s new sworn enemies. But never fear, our villain has a plan….we cut to the Raisins receiving an invitation to receive their complementary mansion earned by virtue of being the official Raisinville band. The Raisins are, of course, excited to reap the benefits of their newfound and begin exploring the mansion and discovering its various perks and quirks including some trap doors. Three Raisins are captured by the ever bickering Cookie and Candy, and the other two narrowly escape multiple traps looking for their friends. The fourth Raisin gets captured, but the last is able to discover the evil plot against them and devises a plan. Using the house’s recording gear and sound system, he minimicks Big Burger’s radio and lures Cookie and Candy away so he can free his bandmates. Together, they roll Cookie, Candy and some Sugar Cubes into a carpet and dump them into the water. When they float back to Big Burger, acknowledges that the Raisins may be more formidable foes than he anticipated, but the next round is his.

This is another solid comic that capture everything charming about the California Raisins. Interestingly, the Raisins’ mansion in this one does remind me of their house in the California Raisins Show (the cartoon), and an episode where Lick Broccoli’s manager bugs the Raisins’ home to steal the Sweet Currants’ new song. But this remains firmly in the pre-Meet the Raisins realm of issue #1: no names for the Raisins. It does, however, establish Big Burger as our main villain and brings back his henchman for more hijinks. I like the continuity, but I do hope that we get to see food characters in the next issue for the sheer fact that I like to check out the different character designs. The art is once again solid, and it’s easy to figure out who’s who among the Raisins. Onward to Issue 3!

The California Raisins 3-D # 3  **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 3 of 5

This issue feature two stories. In the first, Waisin Wipeout, the Raisins are lounging at their mansion when they get a call to come down to the beach to film a surfing music video. It’s there that they’re introduced to famous fim director Steven Spielbug, his frog assistant, surfing expert Gnarly Cobb and beach babe Cher Pear, who turns out to be a Valley Pear. While the Raisins surf for the camera, Big Burger and his henchmen (decked out, of course, in pirate hats!) lurk below the water in their submarine base. They use their device to create a tidal wave, knocking the Raisins off their boards and ruining the shot. But Raisins don’t let a little water defeat them. They get back on their boards and surf so well they create a whirlpool that knocks out Big Burger’s submarine…and looks super cool in the music video.

Story number two is X Marks the Spot. While out on a picnic, the Raisins find a map, which they assume will lead them to the treasure of Blueberry the Pirate. Of course x marks the spot right under where they were picniccing so the Raisins start digging, and find nothing. They then realize that they were digging in the wrong spot, and after several repeated instances of this, begin fighting amongst themselves. This results in tears until one Raisins realizes that the seemingly shifting x on the map was shifting because it was actually a spider.

While I didn’t hate this issue by any means, this is definitely the weakest of the first three issues. First of all, why two stories? Especially when the second story, for me, was pretty weak. The first story was good, but messed with a few of the things that I love about the Raisins in general and that the first two issues honored: why are the filmmakers bugs and not food characters? Also while I get that Cher Pear is supposed to the typical valley girl/beach bimbo, it took me entirely too long to realize that she was a pear because she was drawn entirely too human. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things as the art is still great, but for me, the fun comes from the food characters. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it? Speaking of messing with things, it looks like the next issue is going to deviate again by being an adaptation of Meet the Raisins. So let’s take a deep breath and dive in.

The California Raisins 3-D # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 4 of 5

The Raisins (there are four of them now) are excited because their show is getting ready to come on. We go into the TV documentary where our host tells the humble origin stories of A.C., BeeBop, and Red (names!) as they formed their first band with bass singer Zoot, who introduced them to his eventual replacement, Stretch. From there we see the Raisins’ slow rise to fame with the help of their young manager Rudy Bagaman. From impressing Ed McMelon and being literal smash sensations to rebuilding their shattered careers by working with quirky director Frederico Rasperini and playing a series of concerts in the arctic. Their eventual, triumphant return comes when Rudy Bagaman nearly crashes a plane, providing an amazing introduction to the band. The documentary concludes there, and the Raisins are pleased with what they saw.

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about this one. I would have preferred an original story as opposed to a straight adaptation of Meet the Raisins, but this was extremely well done and captured the charm of the TV special so I can’t be too mad. As I’m sure you noticed above, the Raisins now have their names, and they’ve gone from being a band of five to a quartet with a completely different back story. I wonder if these Raisins are the next generation of California Raisins, or is there some sad fifth Raisin out there in the word waiting to write his tell-all book about how his band abandoned him. The artwork in this one is the same as the rest of the comics so far: really great! Needing to be able to distinguish the Raisins from each other isn’t as big a deal though, because along with their names come new, more distinct character designs. The cover features our newly revamped Raisins rocking out on the stage. I wonder if the next issue will be an original story or another adaptation (though the next special wasn’t for a few years). Might as well take a look and see….

The California Raisins 3-D # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 5 of 5

Back to multiple stories so: In the Music Mash, the Raisins (there are still four of them, but they’re not the same four from the last issue) are in the studio preparing for a gig and arguing over a new song. They decide to visit their friend Gigo who’s created a new machine that can create hit songs on the spot. Everything is going well, and they bring the device to a gig with them, but when a workman leaves his toolbox too close, the machine malfunctions creating chaos onstage. In the end, the Raisins realize it’s best to go back to basics and sing one of their classics.

In California Battle of the Bands, the Dough Buys and Richter are headed to the semifinals, and the Raisins (all FIVE of them) are late to their recording session. When they arrive, an oddly cartoony Rudy introduces them to three Lady Raisins who are their new backup singers. Back at the battle of the bands, Cookie, and Candy French Fry are sabotaging the competition for their boss, Big Burger. They plan an earthquake device and play a few more pranks on the Raisins when they show up to play. When the Raisins discover the mischief, they interrupt Ratchet’s set to warn them about the earthquake device, and the two bands work together to defeat the bad guys. They celebrate their victory with a concert all together.

I have SO MANY questions. Are there multiple bands performing as the California Raisins? This kind of follows my theory from last issue, and we do learn that there’s a whole Raisinville from which these bands could have been formed. This is all to say that these Raisins are different, unnamed Raisins than the ones we saw last issue. And then there’s the numbers issue. Was Fifth Raisin on vacation for the last story and a half? Also, what is Gigo? He’s not a discernible fruit or vegetable? Is he an alien? That said, there are so many things right about this, like Shrapnel, one of the battle bands that are clearly an homage to Guns N Roses. It was also amazing to see Shirelle, Dixie and Crystal, aka the Sweet Currants, in this issue even though they, like the Raisins this time around, weren’t called by name. I’m also glad we got one more chance to see Big Burger try to thwart the Raisins and thus conquer Raisinville. The art was great, but the latter story was a little more cartoony than anything else we’ve seen in this series. All told, this was an extremely fun and solid comic series that served these classic characters well.

So there you have it, the life and times of the California Raisins with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.  I hope it’s merry, warm and bright for you and yours, and that you’ll join Matt back here on the blog for his big holiday update.  He’ll be taking us from the land of singing fruits and vegetables into animated knights and dragons when he covers the comic adaptation of Dragon’s Lair. In the meantime, make sure you’re well stocked on hot chocolate, support local and indie businesses as you’re able this holiday season, and read a comic or three.

Old Age Green Fighting Gerbils!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  It’s crazy to think that we are in the month of December and that means we are once more approaching Christmas, that wonderful holiday filled with good food, great friends, cool presents and of course time with family and loved ones. I always have liked this time of the year as the cool air, the chance of snow and the fast pace of the holiday is always a magical time. I want you readers to think back to your youths.  Remember back to the holiday season and looking at Sunday paper ads from stores like Sears, Gold Circle and Hearts or even wandering the toy aisle of your favorite store like Toys R Us, Hills or Woolworth’s and seeing all the cool toys, board games and video games that you wanted to put on your list for Santa. Then remember back to the must have toys of the time of your childhood; was it Masters Of The Universe? The Nintendo Entertainment System? Tickle Me Elmo? Cabbage Patch Kids? Atari 2600? Hulk Hogan T-Shirt? or something else that every kid including yourself had to have…I can remember back to many of those times when every kid had to get Thundercats or the NES cart of Adventures Of Bayou Billy but one that lasted many Christmases I can truly remember was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures by Playmates! And even the Archie Comics series called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Adventures” was super popular with my peers and classmates as everyone seemed to have Turtle Mania! With all popular things come the knock offs, and this update we will be taking another look at a comic series that tried to cash in on the popularity of the Ninja Turtles and that’s the Planet X comic series called The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! So sit back, relax and have a fun time with me here at Rotten Ink as we scrap the bottom of the Knock Off Turtle Barrel and pull out the slimy sludge that is these Green Gerbils for this quick and quirky update! Oh and look at this knock off Popeye The Sailor below!

So many companies tried to cash in on the huge popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and in fact I have covered many of them here on Rotten Ink like The Toxic Crusaders, Biker Mice From Mars and The Stone Protectors, all of whom tried to capture the money and fame of the Turtles. Those are just a small few that attempted it and never reached it. But while the above mentioned cartoons/toys/comics at least had a fan base that allowed you to pick up their merchandise at major retail stores, there were some knock off toys that only flooded low end discount stores and flea markets. I mean how could the youth not want their very own Amicable Herculean figure that was nothing more than a normal person that came with a turtle costume and some versions of the figure that was just a turtle head on a normal ninja body…real classy and detailed figures these were not. Or who could forget New Style Ninja Tortoise, poorly made chubby Ninja Turtles who came complete with stickers on their stomachs that read “Tortoise.” These cheapies had no mark of quality. What about the amazing Heroes Of The World Fighter figures that had the turtles pint sized and wearing hoods with huge goofy grins on their faces whose molds were taken from the old Dungeon And Dragons toys. Or even one of my all time favorites Ninja Hero Rider that had frogs with eye patches riding horses with lily pads for shells…yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. And these are just a drop in the hat as I could go on and on with TMNT knock offs like Turtle Warrior all the way to Terror Toad and many more Mexican and Chinese made figures that flooded the market with poorly made toys that ruined many kids holidays and birthdays! But while many of these toys are super cheap and bad, they still hold a charm for many who did have them growing up and many hold some value now when looking to buy them online or from a vintage toy store. Check out some of these toys below, and man, Ninja Hero Rider needs to be made into a comic book and a homebrew NES Video Game…just saying.

But while toy aisles were flooded with cheap TMNT knock offs so were the comic stores with cheap imitation comics that all wanted to capture the success of the original Mirage TMNT black and white comic series that truly started the rabid fan base of the Turtles. Many independent comic companies blatantly tried to make their own series of comics based on some sort of animal that knew a fighting style and was some sort of age while other companies went the route of parodying it and making very silly comedy comics with the same formula. But one thing is for sure, this mass push of independent comics all following the same formula also really hurt the independent comics industry at the time as it flooded the shelves with poorly made and written comics that just burnt too many readers, and the companies just imploded on themselves as readers would have rather picked up an issue of Superman or Spider-Man for a cheaper price than read an animal fighter parody rip off comic that was made for a quick cash grab. Some of the worst offenders of this was 1986’s Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters from Eclipse Comics, as well as from 1986 from Planet X Comics and the topic of our update Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! We also had that same year Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers from Just Imagine, Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos & Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos both from Blackthorne! Now I need to stress that I am not saying all these comics were bad as I enjoyed many of them when I was a youngster, and I am sure we will cover many of them here on my blog in the future. I just wanted to stress that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruled the landscape of comics and toys for many years in the 80’s and early 90’s!

So as you can see, this update we are having a little fun at the expense of generic brand TMNT items as I figured this would also be a great way to combat the stress of this time of the year. Plus I have been itching to re-read the first issue of the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as I used to have this comic back in the day as I bought it at Mavericks Cards And Comics for like $1.00 and can remember reading it in my room in Waynesville. And now in 2017, I found the whole set of this series at Dark Star in Yellow Springs and knew I had to cover it this year. I want to also stress that the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils started out in a comic series called “Prime Slime Tales,” and the creator of the Gerbils claims he is not a copy of the TMNT and that he got permission from the creator of the Turtles to make his own silly and off the way book based on the idea the made popular at the time…I think the laughable part of this all is he almost comes off acting as his rip off is more legit because of this blessing…call it what you want, but sorry Tony Basilicato, it is what it is and you were trying to cash in on the fame of the Turtles and made a knock off universe. So with this, let me remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So sit back and relax and let’s take a trip down memory lane with a comic series that is now in .25 bins far and wide!

Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 1 of 3

At the Grubby Acres Rest Home, some very old gerbils are living the remainder of their lives arguing about the good old days of TV as well as just being grumpy toward each other. Our old and crabby heroes are Zeke, Duffer, Geezer and Codger, and they get a visit from the lovely Dr. Christina Proper who has a letter from their creator Dr. Milton Meltdown about an experiment he made called The Esoteric Rap that is a fake god and is now roaming loose in the world and to make things worse Samurai Sam, a simple minded brute with a massive sword is wondering the land and killing hot dog venders! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils gear up to help stop The Esoteric Rap, and this is their first mission in over 30 years! As they make their way to Dr. Meltdown, the good Doctor is visited by his evil creation The Esoteric Rap who sets a trap for our heroes that will make them come face to face with Samurai Sam in a showdown to the death!

Okay, this comic is super silly and while it is making fun of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it really does have its own style and comedy that makes its own world seem important. The plot of issue one is: a batch of government created gerbils who are crime fighters are brought out of retirement in order to try and stop a created monster with a God complex, but with the time off our heroes are old and out of touch with the modern world of crime around them. Our heroes The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are a team of four very old and grumpy gerbils who are Duffer, Geezer, Codger and Zeke all who have their own weird quirks as Duffer thinks he is still a crime-fighting machine, and Zeke spends every moment sleeping! So while we don’t get to know them all that well, I would say the The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are just old goofs who know how to defend themselves and our short tempered and out of touch. Dr. Meltdown and Dr. Proper are government workers who do weird experiments that create life and while they do so with good attentions it appears that not all they do goes well! The Esoteric Rap is a floating monster who is childlike in nature yet also very ego driven as it views itself as a god. So far we as the reader don’t know what he is capable of, but I am sure it will be reveled in the upcoming issues. Samurai Sam is a massive chubby man who carries a huge sword who for some reason hates Hot Dog vendors and has bad flashbacks that makes him snap and attack them! Is Sam just a confused person or a killer this issue does not give us the answer but I would say he walks the line of both and I almost see him in the end teaming with The Gerbils to defeat The Esoteric Rap! While this is by all means a very silly comic that does not take its self serious it does have lots of heart and the characters and story is things that 80’s independent comics was made of. The cover is fun and eye catching and is trying so hard to get the attention of the TMNT readers of the time, and I for one would say it would have worked on me. The interior art is done by Tony Basilicato and is silly good stuff and is fitting for this kind of a comic and story. So to sum it up, this comic was just as fun as I remember it being from my youth and makes me look forward to reading issue two for the first time and seeing how this adventure of these Geriatric Gerbils plays out!

Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 2   **
Released in 1986     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 2 of 3

The Esoteric Rap has in fact used mind control on Dr. Meltdown in order to lead The Geriatric Gerbils to a trap fight with Samurai Sam who is ready to slice and smash our heroes and with some dumb luck of spitting false teeth in the eye of the raging Samurai, our heroes are able to escape for a short time in order to try and come up with a game plan. But they made one mistake as they left the sleeping Zeke behind who is now been snatched and about to be crushed to death by massive hands of Sam! As Samurai Sam is about to crush Zeke, the sleeping Gerbil awakens and blasts the massive Samurai away with a fart! As the other Gerbils rush to their friend who saved the day, the evil The Esoteric Rap uses his power and turns Geezer back into a normal gerbil and is about to eat him when Zeke aims and fires one more fart at the fake god as his pals hold a match causing a gassy fireball to hit The Esoteric Rap….but we will have to wait till the next issue to see if it worked!

The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are out matched when coming face to face with Samurai Sam and once more its shows these old heroes just don’t have what it takes to be the crime fighters they once were. And to beat their massive opponent they use a fart that levels him…yep, this comic, as you can see, does not take itself seriously at all and the ultimate weapon our heroes have is massive farts! The main thing that happens in this comic besides the fact passed gas defeats both of the issues enemies is that Geezer is turned into a normal baby gerbil, and this could be the end of The Geriatric Gerbils as we readers know them! Samurai Sam while a brute and super aggressive seems to be more than a match for The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as a whole, but was not ready for Zeke and his butt vapor powers. The Esoteric Rap is a egotistical super powerful false God creature who can control life and death it’s self and while he has all the power in the world he as well is no match for poop gas escaping from the backside of Zeke! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are heroes but they not super powerful and by luck is the only way they seem to be winning these fights! Zeke is clearly the MVP of the team as this sleeping goof is the one who has won the fights for them thanks to his gas. While this issue loses a little of the charm of the first, it still is a silly good read that entertained me on the night of reading. The cover for this one is pretty lame and just shows an arm with the Earth on a string and is not eye catching at all.  The interior art was done by Tony Basilicato again and seems a little rushed this time around. So over all this one is kind of one big fart joke and is fun, goofy and silly and worth a read for fans of TMNT knock off comics.

Geriatric Gerbils # 3  **
Released in 1987     Cover Price $1.50     Planet X     # 3 of 3

The Esoteric Rap has been defeated by the flaming fart of Zeke, but the explosion has also left him as well as Duffer and Codger knocked out with only baby Geezer awake! As his friends are knocked out baby Geezer remembers back to when they were all babies and they had to be dropped off at a daycare by Dr. Meltdown that was for gifted mutated youngsters and they meet Dr. Bombastic The Mad Bomber who wants to use all the gifted babies he is watching to join is crime wave. Well this alerts the Geriatric Gerbils to his evil plans, and they try and stop him as he sets a giant robot free on the city and Zeke takes out Dr. Bombastic with a lethal fart and along with the other gifted babies, they enter the city to try and stop the robot who makes the mistake of eating Zeke who once more lets out a fart that destroys the robot. We cut back to present day and baby Geezer is happy in his memories as his friends still are knocked out.

I am sure you noticed this third and final issue had a name change as it was cut down to just Geriatric Gerbils and that it ends with our heroes being knocked out and Geezer still being a baby and all the major baddies have been beat by farts. I think the silly nature of this series was lots of fun but also the over use of all the bad guys being defeated by farts is what lead to this being the final issue in the series. The story of this issue has the Geriatric Gerbils being babies and teaming up with babies of The X-Men in order to beat a crazy mad doctor who is hell-bent on ruling the world. The Geriatric Gerbils even as youngsters are goofy, cranky heroes who are not as skilled as they think but have enough luck and gas on their side to win. The X-Men babies are background players and in order to not be sued they are not said by name and for the most part don’t do anything in the final battle. The Evil Robot tries what he can to cause chaos and destruction but in the end is not match for one baby gerbil’s bad gas. Dr. Bombastic is a conman who runs a mutant baby daycare in order to try and get an army of baby troopers who is outsmarted and defeated when he crosses the path of our hero Gerbils. This sort lived comic series was a fun read, and I would say that this should have ran at least two more issues and then gone to the big comic rack in the sky as while fun it could easily also ran its course with its simple stories and same crude gimmick of farts and grumpy old gerbils. The bad guys never really got to shine as they always seemed to be dangerous until the fight started and each are defeated by the same means…and yes, it’s getting very lame having to keep talking about gerbil farts! The art is once more done by Tony Basilicato and is on par with the other two issues and the cover is pretty cool and shows baby Geezer stumbling around trying to do jujitsu. Over all this TMNT knock off comic series was lots of fun even if it was a one trick pony that’s stories were rice paper thin and the series never got a real true ending and was just one dig fart joke that the creator claimed was not a TMNT rip-off. So if your enjoy silly comics about talking animals that know martial arts this short lived series is for you! Check out the artwork below to see the glory that is the Geriatric Gerbils.

The weather outside is chilly and Christmas is getting closer and I want to say that I hope you don’t get a pile of gifts under your tree that is filled with knock-off toys, games, watches, cloths and comics running your holiday…well unless your odd like me and enjoy the weirdness of these generic knock-off items! And I hope you enjoyed our look at The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils and their three-issue run they had back in the late 80’s and while they might not have been ground breaking like the TMNT they ripped off, they did make their mark on the world of comics and added crude juvenile humor to their approach of showcasing talking animals who are heroes and know how to fight. But with the Gerbils behind us and my work getting busy, I think it’s time to once more bring in Juliet to be a guest blogger for me and have her share some Holiday cheer with you all! So for our next update Juliet will be covering The California Raisins and will share some Christmas memories and her connection to her topic of choice. So until next time stay warm, read a comic or three, watch a Christmas Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time readers and friends make sure to spend some time with your loved ones and take a few moments to remember this time of year from your youth.