Gross For One….Gross For All….Madballs!

Growing up most kids I knew had a baseball to play with, but some of us kids of the 80’s had something better to toss around with friends; we had Madballs!! And that’s the topic of today’s update, those monster and gross balls that swept the nation of must-have toys on the playground for a short time. Growing up, I can remember seeing kids on the playground tossing around the Madball of Screaming Meemie.  My friends and I even tried to play baseball with it, but it was a very poor ball to use in a game as hitting it never seemed to equal a home run. I can remember being at my cousins Dino and Norman’s house playing in the pool and throwing Madballs at each other, and as they would hit they would make a splat sound.  We also used Touchdown Terror at their house to play football on Thanksgiving one year. For my birthday one year I can remember getting a Madball birthday card from my parents that also included a metal button of Slobulus if memory serves me. It’s weird, in my youth I never owned an original Madball, but my brother and I did each have a Head-Popping Madball that our dad got for us from Hills Department Store one winter night as a way to keep us entertained when my parents took us to one of my dad’s work friend’s houses. My brother got Wolf Breath, and I got Lock Lips.  They were very cool, and I can remember our Mom yelling at us to stop shooting the heads at each other! We both had these figures for years, but sadly, like some of the other toys of my youth, they were given away or sold at a garage sale. Weirdly enough, in my 30’s I now own two Madballs, with Mavericks Cards and Comics selling me Slobulus and Horn Head for cheap prices about 3 years ago as well as my friend Max Ervin who gave me Screaming Meemie around the same time. It’s odd to think that while I never owned any of the original Madballs in my youth, they remain one of the most iconic toy lines in my mind.  Below is a picture of the original Madballs I own now as I hope you enjoy this update as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  • Note From Matt – In April 2016 Roar Comics started up a new Madballs comic series!

My Madballs

American Greetings is the company who created and produced Madballs.  They were started in 1906 by Jacob Sapirstein and are the 2nd largest greeting card company in the world, and to this day they are still run by the Sapirstein family! Over the years they continued to make greeting cards and also became sponsors for TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and Dragon Tales and ventured out into toys and cartoons. American Greetings has created iconic toy characters like Madballs, My Pet Monster, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Lady Lovely Locks and Popples, and after owning many of them for so many years, they sold Strawberry Shortcake in 2015 to Iconix Brand Group for $105 million. I should also point out that American Greetings is an Ohio founded company showing that we Ohioans really are creative people. I wanted to share a brief look at the company that created Madballs and show them some respect before we move onto the fast pitch of this update.  So here is to you, American Greetings, for making some amazing characters who helped shape many kids’ childhoods!

American Greetings Logo

Madballs hit toy shelves in 1985 and were aimed at capturing the attention of young boys who loved horror films, horror hosts and monster comics. The gross balls were made of rubber and foam and were supposed to be used to scare your friends as well as play sports with them. The commercials for these toys flooded Saturday Morning Cartoons and started a wave of kids begging their parents to get them one.  I will admit that my brother Bryan and I were those kids that they marketed them to, and sadly and strangely, as I noted above, my parents never got us any! Series One consisted of 8 characters that included “Screamin Meemie” a baseball with a face and a large Rolling Stone’s logo tongue, “Slobulus” a green creature who’s got one hanging eye and slobbers, “Aargh” was a blue skinned Frankenstein Monster also with one eye, “Horn Head” is a purple skinned Cyclops with a nose ring, “Skull Face” is a skull, “Crack Head” a cracked head with his brain exposed, “Oculus Orbus” is a giant eyeball and “Dust Brain” a green skinned Mummy! The original Madballs were a huge hit with the kids in Waynesville and were a major talking point between my brother and me for a short time. Parents flipped out over the toys, saying they were too gross and had terrible names, and this changed Crack Head’s name to Bash Brain due to the slang use of the term crack head being used for drug addicts. The worst part about Madballs was that they cracked and parts of the paint would fall off and expose the foam underneath, very annoying and one of the flaws of this toy line for sure.

Madballs Series 1

The popularity of the toyline sparked a second series that showcased “Wolf Breath” as Werewolf, “Swine Sucker” a mutated looking boar, “Bruise Brother” a messed up looking biker, “Freaky Fullback” a freak football player, “Snake Bait” a Gorgon, “Lock Lips” a monster with locks over one eye and mouth, “Fist Face” a hand holding a eyeball and “Splitting Headache” a half peeled face monster! The second series was popular but also was at the point where I noticed the kids at school had shifted towards other toy lines.  Madballs were cool but no longer the must have toy. This second set has many great characters that I would love to have had back in the day as well as even to this day: Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker and Lock Lips! Below are some pics from the second series that will show you also how the designs of the characters got better and how they dipped into the pool of classic monsters (Werewolf & Gorgon) as well as real life goons that scared people (the jock & biker). Also, in the 2000’s Madballs made a small comeback and were brought back to toy shelves as squishy toys.  They made a small impact before once more being sent off to toy heaven.

snakebaitwolfbreathswinesucker

Super Madballs were bigger and were not in the shape of a baseballs but the sport they were named after.  They were “Goal Eater” a soccer ball with teeth, “Touchdown Terror” a football missile monster and “Foul Shot” a basketball with a face and worms in his eye! These were big and bulky, and my cousins were the only kids I knew who had one of them. By the point Super Madballs were released, the steam was out of the line and over time Madballs faded into the world of forgotten toys.  I was not a fan of the Super Madballs back then and still don’t really have a soft spot for them. So let’s move on past, them shall we?

Super Madballs

Head-Popping Madballs featured the popular characters from the toy line, this time with bodies and the ability to launch their heads off as well as swap with other characters. The bodies were made of hard plastic with movable arms and legs, while the heads were rubber and detailed. The line had Screamin Meemie, Horn Head, Oculus Orbus, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Skull Face, Wolf Breath, Bruise Brother and Lock Lips who I had as a youngster like I said earlier. While the original Madballs were really cool, these figures were the ones I really liked, and I can remember playing with Lock Lips alongside my Masters Of The Universe figures. You see the Head-Popping Madballs were action figures, while the Madballs were, well, just balls! For a long time at GameSwap, the body of Skull Face was floating around, and many of us dug through a bin of old toy parts hoping to find its head that we sadly never did. Below are some examples of this series of Madballs, enjoy!

Head Popping Lock LipsHead Popping OrbusHead Popping Wolfbreath

Besides these toylines, over the years many other cool merchandise has been released based on The Madballs like greeting and Valentine Cards, stickers, wind-up toys, t-shirts, VHS tapes, comics and video games! That’s right, Madballs had a video game in 1988 that was made by Ocean for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum that had you playing a Madball rolling around a maze and collecting your fellow Madballs. The game got very poor reviews and never made it to the NES. In 2009, a game for the X-BOX Live Arcade called Babo: Invasion featured two Madballs as characters, Horn Head and Oculus Orbus! So while a modern generation of kids might not know what a Madball is, for us kids of the 80’s there was lots of great merchandise to choose from back then and even a little now!

Madballs Wind UpMadballs Video Game (C64)Madballs TShirt

In 1986, Madballs got the cartoon treatment, and oddly enough, the toons were not made for TV viewing but only for the home video market by Nelvana on VHS. The first cartoon was called “Escape From Orb” and has the Madballs living on Orb, a place that music is banned.  They want to escape to Earth so they can tour as a band, but Commander Wolfbreath and the Badballs want to stop them. The second tape was called “Madballs: Gross Jokes” and had our stars acting out silly skits. I can remember renting the Escape From Orb cartoon from Mary L. Cook Public Library and being super hyped to watch it and rushing to pop it into the old VCR.  After the cartoon I was so disappointed at the back story given to these characters and hated the fact that they were aspiring rock stars…so lame and to me it came off as trying to cash in on the popularity of The California Raisins who were singing their way into hearts around the same time as well as cashing in on the success of bands like Bon Jovi and Poison who were as well very popular at the time with youngsters. Plus I was not a huge fan of the personalities they gave some of the Madballs as they should have been a little more gross and a little more mean. But while I may not have liked the story of the characters, I did find that animation to be pretty cool and it made me wonder why they went the home video route and not the Saturday Morning Cartoon one that could have given the series a shot in the arm and made them last a little longer on the must-have toy list. And before you ask, no I never did own the VHS tapes as a kid and only did get them when I got older and found them dirt cheap at a thrift store.

Madballs VHS 1Madballs CartoonMadballs VHS 2

While Madballs became popular, they also sparked knock-off toys like Bonkers The Ugly Ball, a grey skull face with a grin, and even Odd Balls, a series that had a Devil and even a Mummy as part of its line. Now I must admit that I did have two Odd Balls growing up as I can remember that they were very generic rubber balls that stung when being hit with one during a came of ball tag. The ones I had were Dirty Devil, a goofy very generic devil complete with evil twisted mustache goatee combo as well as buck teeth, and the other was Evil Knievel, a Mummy with purple skin and blood stains on his wrapping. Evil Knievel is the one I played with most, and I can remember tossing him around the backyard, rolling him off the roof of the house and shed and even tossed him over in the neighbor’s yard when my school crush was visiting her just so I could come over and say hi to her…yeah, I was such a monster kid dork back then that I used a Odd Ball to talk to a crush. Below is Ugly Ball as well as the two Odd Balls that I used to have when I was a kid.

Ugly BallOdd Balls - Dirty DevilOdd Balls - Evil Knievel

So we are at the core of this update, the Star Comic reviews! My brother and I had the first three issues of Madballs growing up, and I can remember that we both thought that our issue # 1 was going to be worth a fortune when we grew up.  To no one’s shock, it’s only worth a few dollars and is really common to find in local comic store’s dollar bins. Star Comics was so cool in the 80’s and made so many amazing comics based on toys and cartoons of the time, and Madballs was one of the lucky few that were chosen to be a three issue mini series and went on to be a total of 10 issues! I am pretty hyped to see if the final issue is a true final issue or if it will just end like so many other Star Comics at the time, quickly and dirty with no respect for the readers. Before we go bouncing around with The Madballs, I need to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Mavericks, Bell Book And Comic, Lone Star Comics and 2nd And Charles for having these issues in stock for this review. So let’s get ready to get totally gross with Star Comic and The Madballs!

Madballs 1

Madballs # 1  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 1 of 10

“The Evil Dr. Frankenbeans” A delivery truck loses 8 rubber balls from the cargo it’s carrying.  They bounce down the road and land in a pond of chemicals at the R.U.I.N. laboratories and turn into Madballs that include Screamin’ Meemie, Horn Head, Dust Brain, Crack Head, AARGH, Skull Face, Slobulus and Oculus Orbus.  They find a nearby park and meet some youths led by Tommy playing baseball, and the two groups quickly become friends. Meanwhile R.U.I.N. head scientist Viktor Frankenbeans and his dim-witted assistant Snivelitch spot the Madballs and want to capture them as Frankenbeans thinks they will lead to him winning a Nobel Prize! When Snivelitch fails to capture them, Frankenbeans plays dirty and uses free drinks to give Skull Face everlasting hiccups and tries to kidnap the Madball but is stopped thanks to Slobulus who uses his slime to trip up Frankenbeans making him fall into his own chemical pond and swearing revenge on our round heroes. In the end, Skull Face is cured of his hiccups with a look in a mirror that causes him to scare himself. The second story is called “Corn-Ered!” The Madballs are playing hide and seek with Tommy and the kids when the corn comes alive and takes the kids captive to an old barn where the Madballs come face to face with Colonel Corn who was once a normal piece of corn until he fell into the chemical pond of R.U.I.N. and now wants to take over the world! Colonel Corn uses puns and a floating ball of kernels he calls Cornball to defeat The Madballs, but they are not down for long as Screamin’ Meemie gets so mad the heat from his anger turns Colonel Corn and Cornball into popcorn!

This first issue was just as cheesy and fun as I remember it to be way back in 1986 when I first read it! This issue shows how the Madballs came to be and uses the chemical pond as a way to turn normal rubber balls into talking scary and gross living creatures who have hearts of gold and befriend the local youth as they just want to have fun. None of the Madballs stand out as the leader and each are just filled with bad puns and really silly bad habits like drooling and screaming. It’s pretty amazing seeing a kids comic use the name Crack Head as the character is used in many spots and gets his time to shine. Dr. Viktor Frankenbeans is a mad scientist who is working for R.U.I.N. and is making terrible chemicals that not only smell bad but also are causing harm to nature and people.  He seems not to care as he is only seeking fame in this issue. He reminds me of a cheaper version of Gargamel from The Smurfs as his look and attitude are kind of matching. Snivelitch is a goon who is shown to not be very bright and is the whipping boy for Frankenbeans who jumps at any chance to put his goof assistant down. I am sure Snivelitch will act as the comic relief as I can see him screwing things up in the coming issues. Colonel Corn is the master of puns and with his play on words is able to beat down The Madballs, but when he is defeated and his head kernels are popped and turned into popcorn, he is just a husk head of a man watching as the kids and The Madballs eat what was once his face…. I want you to think about that….it’s like being weak and defeated and watching as zombies ate your face flesh meat while watching the Care Bears…sick twisted stuff. The cover is top notch and fantastic and I am sure caught the eye of many kids on the newsstands.  The art inside is also well done for this style of kids comic and was done by Howie Post (Howard Post) who is known for his comic strip The Dropouts as well as his work for Harvey Comics. He also did the artwork for some issues of Wally The Wizard for Star as well as the Centipede promo comic from DC, both of which I’ve covered here on Rotten Ink. An A-list artist for kids comics was on board for this one! Over all I can say I enjoyed this comic back when I was a kid and still did when I read it again.  So let’s see how issue two holds up.

Madballs 2

Madballs # 2  **
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 2 of 10

“Dr. Frankenbeans Returns” The Madballs are having fun with the kids when Oculus Orbus decides to go bird watching and goes on an adventure of his own. Meanwhile Dr. Frankenbean has come out of the chemical pond and comes up with a plan with Snivelitch to get The Madballs under his control.  It includes getting the help of Miss Tic The Mystic who hypnotizes The Madballs to be under Frankenbeans’ control so he can have them turn on the kids! In the end Oculus Orbus returns and reverses the spell and has Frankenbeans, Miss Tic and Snivelitch thinking they are ducks and swimming in the pond. “Meet Weirdbeard The Pirate” Tommy and the kids are fishing with The Madballs.  They enter a fog bank that takes them back in time where they are kidnapped and forced into slavery by Weirdbeard and The Madballs are tossed into the sea. Weirdbeard needs this crew as he wants to find the hidden treasure of Peg Leg Peg.  On the Island The Madballs with the help of a octopus save the kids and find the fog to get back to their time.  As for Weirdbeard, he gets himself gets captured by Peg Leg Peg who makes him her slave!

This second issue is good but did slip a little as it’s not as fun as the first issue.  In fact, the stories in this issue seemed a little rushed and both would be better as backup stories in an issue with better plotted stories. The return of Dr. Frankenbean is a letdown as his plan to get revenge is taken apart in moments by Oculus Orbus who turns the table on him and once more places him in the chemical stew pond. Miss Tic is a goth woman who has the power of hypnotizing the weak of mind and can also read minds, funny thing about that is Snivelitch has dirty ideas in his mind when it comes to Tic! The atmosphere for the first story’s castle of Miss Tic is well played as it reminded me of a set used on a Horror Host show from the 70’s. The second story of Peg Leg Peg and Weirdbeard was not my thing and for the most part I was bored reading it as it had a very generic feel. Here is to hoping we won’t see Weridbeard or Peg again but that we will see Miss Tic again as I could see her joining the fight against The Madballs more often. Oculus Orbus is the only Madball who stands out this issue as he uses his power of being a big eye to reverse the hypnotic spell and save his friends from being mindless slaves. The rest of The Madballs all kind of do what they do and that’s deliver puns and have fun doing things with their friends Tommy and his crew. The cover is well done and once more eye catching with the first story’s art by Howie Post and the second one by Roberta Edelman.  Both do a great job with the art even if the stories are a little lackluster. I’m going to move on from this issue to the third one and hope that it has better stories.

Madballs 3

Madballs # 3  **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   # 3 of 10

“Attack Of The Bad Balls” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch hide and listen to The Madballs and the kids talking about how the chemical pond turned 8 regular balls into their gross friends they call The Madballs. Frankenbean returns to R.U.I.N and tries to make his own version of talking gross balls.  Only after nearly giving up and using bowling balls does it work and out come The Badballs who are Smasher, Crasher and Trasher.  They have a rumble with The Madballs that leaves our heroes having to make a run for it! But once more Crack Head comes up with a plan that leaves the Badballs falling back into the chemical pond and turning back into boomerang balls that knock out Frankenbean and Snivelitch as the Madballs spin some more puns. The second story is “Now Museum, Now You Don’t” that has The Madballs running loose in a museum and the security guards are trying to stop them as hijinks run wild that leaves them all crashing into a big gross mess and being mistaken for art! The third story is “ Spaced Out” The Madballs bring down a U.F.O as they fear it might attack Tommy and the gang.  Inside is Rojad who came in peace but feels The Madballs are attacking him so he uses his shrink gun and turns them to the size of peas! As he grabs them, they muster all their power and take Rojad for a quick ride.  The alien and The Madballs patch things up, and they soon find out that his ship is out of fuel and the fuel he needs is the drool slime of Slobulus who he tries to kidnap. The Madballs must tangle with Rojad again, but after the fight they become friends as Slobulus fills his tank up and even gets a gold tooth as payment!

This third issue is a fun goofy ride and, like issue one, captures the gross nature of The Madballs and adds in some trouble for them to face that seem like actual threats. This issue also has three stories instead of two, giving you more silly adventures for the 75-cent price tag. The best story of the three has to be “Spaced Out” as I like the idea of The Madballs fighting an alien who wears yellow and has a robot like face.  The idea that drool slime fuels his ship is also classic 80’s toy and comic stuff. The Madballs in the issue are shown to be fighters and thinkers as they outsmart not only The Badballs but also Rojad and do so with smarts and might. They are also very protective of their human friends.  If they think they are in danger, they will attack and defend with all their round might. Oh yeah, Crack Head once more shows that he is smart as he comes up with a plan to defeat the Badballs that works! Like in all of the issues up to this point, the Madballs spend lots of time spewing out cheesy puns that young kids would laugh at. The Badballs are three tough as nails bowling balls who are bullies, but soon find out that their heavy nature helped them in the fight but also was their downfall. Rojad was not really a bad guy but did have The Madballs on the ropes with his shrink gun.  For an alien that came in peace he sure did turn evil when it came to kidnapping poor Slobulus! Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch once more come up with a plan to get revenge and as always fail at that mission. The cover is great and would catch the eye not just of Madball fans but also Monster Kids as it has a very Frankenstein feel to it, or at least I think so. The art is once more done by kids comic legend Howie Post and shows why he was a go to guy for these type of comics. I’m glad to see the series back on track with this issue, and I hope the fourth keeps it up! Plus, this is a Star Comic that went on after its 3-issue mini series, now let’s take bets if it has a true final issue.

Madballs 4

Madballs # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 4 of 10

“The Madballs Meet The New Madballs” Dr. Frankenbean is depressed about not being able to get his revenge on The Madballs, and this has taken over his life until he and Snivelitch come up with a plan that has them throwing eight more rubber balls into the chemical pond.  Out comes eight new Madballs that are Wolf Breath, Swine Sucker, Snake Bait, Lock Lips, Fistface, Freaky Fullback, Splitting Headache and Bruise Brother! Frankenbeans tricks his New Madballs into going to the park and rumbling with the old ones, and boy do they, as each team has members fall.  It comes down to Horn Head and Bruise Brother clashing head on that causes the ground to crack, and Tommy falls in! When all The Madballs and New Madballs awaken, they figure out they are all brothers and they save Tommy and chase off Frankenbean and Snivelitch and all sixteen Madballs make their home in an abandoned dance hall. “Anchors Away” Tommy and the gang along with Madballs Screamin’ Meemie, Slobulus, Dust Brain, Wolf Breath, Snake Bait and Fist Face are rush home to watch the news, but before it comes on Wolf Breath along with Snake Bait and Slobulus all go for the kitchen for a snack and don’t see that news anchor Ben Defax has hypnotized his viewers into giving him all their wealth.  He’s also begun wearing a mask in the shape of a boat anchor and calling himself Anchor-Man! His power comes from his microphone, and the three Madballs figure out a way to defeat him and break his hold on the viewers when Wolf Breath’s bad breath breaks the hold on the fellow Madballs and Snake Bait uses his snakes to crush the microphone.

This issue is the first for The Madballs to break the mini series banner and become a full series as Star Comics listened to the readers and gave them more gross out adventures than what was planned. Plus this issues adds in the eight Madballs that were released in series two into the plot and has them joining the others as well as Tommy and his friends in having fun and foiling the plots of Frankenbeans. I must say that adding the New Madballs to the cast was really cool as seeing Wolf Breath and Swine Sucker in action is cool, but it also dilutes the cast as now some Madballs seem to take a backseat and others seem to be the focus as Snake Bait is showcased more in this issue than Oculus Orbus, AARGAH and Crack Head (who is now being called Bash Brain) combined! It’s nice to see Frankenbean and Snivelitch come back to the now on-going series, and they and the R.U.I.N. Lab are great as the major bad guys to the series. The main baddie is Ben Defax aka Anchor-Man, who wants to use his fame of being on TV and his hypnotizing microphone to steal from his fans.  He’s a real ego driven jerk who wears a dumb giant boat anchor mask to add fear to his life in crime. In this issue we also find out that The Madballs are make home in an abandoned old play theater and this run down setting is great for their gross home base. I enjoyed both stories equally, and it was nice to see The Madball rumble in the first story as it’s clear only a Madball can defeat a Madball. The art in this issue is done by Howie Post once more, and it’s fantastic and the cover is good.  Over all this is a solid kids comic based on a toy line, and so far I am enjoying it as much as I did when I was a kid and first read them.

Madballs 5

Madballs # 5   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 5 of 10

“Plus 3 Makes 19” Dr. Frankenbean is very upset over the 16 Madballs and how they have foiled his evil plans.  When Tommy and the gang go to get ice cream, he steals their soccer ball, football and basketball and tosses them into the chemical pond and out pops The Super Madballs named Touchdown Terror, Foul Shot and Goal Eater.  He sends them out to beat up The Madballs, and the rumble starts and ends soon as Freaky Fullback and Touchdown Terror find they have lots in common and they discover that they are all one big gross family! The Super Madballs chase down Frankenbeans and Snivelitch and toss them into the chemical pond, and all ends well for the ever growing Madball family. “Veg Out” has Dr. Frankenbean getting help from a hypnotist after his last defeat at the hands (or is that heads?) of The Madballs that has him now focusing on growing vegetables.  After a mistake made by Snivelitch, instead of water he sprays his garden with liquid from the chemical pond and out comes The Vegeterribles that include Rotten Tomato, Crushroom, Paul Onion, Spud-Nick, Pea Shooter and Iceberg Lettuce who he wants to send after The Madballs! The two groups rumble in the old Abandoned Theater, and Frankenbean and Iceberg Lettuce freezes Tommy and the kids in blocks of ice making The Madballs surrender. In the end Horn Head and Swine Sucker rush to the R.U.I.N Lab and save The Madballs, and Swine Sucker eats The Vegeterribles and they bury Frankenbean and Snivelitch as if they are vegetables!

This is another good issue but I must also point out that this comic series is also becoming very paint by numbers as many of the stories has The Madballs having a run in with some sort of bad guys who they beat is some cheesy pun filled way.  Frankenbean uses the chemical pond to create new versions of the Madballs who turn on him in no time and so on and so on. But with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this issue as both stories have select Madballs fighting against another group of mutated baddies with the first ending in friendship and the second with victory as their enemies are eaten alive! Dr. Frankenbean is becoming more and more mad with revenge as this series continues and he is even willing to put children in harm’s way in order to destroy The Maballs.  If he continues down this path, by the final issue it looks like he will have a collection of bodies buried in the basement of R.U.I.N Labs all the while thinking the clock on the wall is telling him when it’s “Revenge” time….In other words, he is going crazy! None of The Madballs really stand out as at this point, there are just too many of them and they are having to be split up just to try to work them into the plot.  Some are so loosely in the story that they don’t really add much. The Super Madballs are cool to see, but I really hope this issue is the only one they appear in though I have a bad feeling they will return and clog up the weakening stories even more. The Vegeterribles are cool but kind of a waste as they are killed, and I mean murdered, by the end of the second story. The cover is great but shows you just how clustered the characters are getting with the art from the first story being done by Howie Post and the second done by Michael Gallagher.  Both are good stuff. Over all I am being a little generous with this issue’s star rating as it’s more like a two, but I did have fun reading it.  However, if things don’t change up in the next issue I will not be as kind.

Madballs 6

Madballs # 6  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 6 of 10

“Mad Love” Dr. Frankenbean and Snivelitch find one last rubber ball near the lab and along with some make-up they toss it into the chemical pond and out comes MadBelle, a gross female who causes Horn Head, Foul Shot, Fist Face, Swine Sucker and Bash Brain to fight amongst themselves to win her heart when he tricks them to come to the lab for a party. Just as they are about to ram themselves into a tree to see who wins a date with her, Madbelle stops them and tells them she is in love with Snivelitch, and The Madballs figure out they have been set up and turn the tables once more on Dr. Frankenbeans. “Maiden Hong Kong Blues” Chin, one of Tommy’s friends, is shocked when he finds that his dad’s restaurant has been wrecked by Maiden Hong Kong and her bodyguards sumo wrestler Topknot and ninja Ninjun Joe who want bad fortune cookies given out! In the end The Madballs, come up with a plan to stop Maiden Hong Kong from getting her request and send her to jail.  After the victory they have a great Chinese food meal.

Once more Frankenbean tosses a ball into the Chemical Pond to create something to get his revenge on The Madballs.  By this point I am getting pretty sick of this format and starting to wonder why they are doing this plot over and over again. I mean, I get the comic is based on a toy and that they are trying to do a cartoon style format with it, but good God enough is enough! Madbelle is lame and her whole reason to help bring down The Madballs is thrown out the window as she is just used to deliver dumb puns and fall in love with Snivelitch. Speaking of Snivelitch, he and Frankenbeans once more are just around for blah revenge and in the end both get what’s coming to them. The second story is the better of the two by far and has select Madballs having to tangle with a sumo wrestler and ninja all in the name of fortune cookies! But still nothing new over all and in fact it’s as stale as the last issue.  While enjoyable, the been there, read that feeling creeps into your brain and makes it slightly less enjoyable. If not for the second story, this one would have been rated lower. The cover is okay, and the art is done by Howie Post and Michael Gallagher again marking at least good art quality making up for the lack of story in the first segment. Also I am pretty sure we have not seen the last of Maiden Hong Kong and her goons as I think they will be out for revenge soon, but I hope this is the end of Madbelle as she was kind of a waste. Let’s just move onto issue seven and hope it steps it up next issue.

Madballs 7

Madballs # 7   **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 7 of 10

“Body Builders” Madballs Skull Face, Dust Brain, Slobulus, Snake Bait, Lock Lips and Wolf Breath are feeling down that they do not have bodies and come up with a plan to trick Frankenbean into making them bodies! After a trick that has them breaking down a old building, Frankenbean thinks they have turned evil and shares with them his new invention the FrankenTank that will be used to cause panic and help him take over the world! With the help of the chemical pond and the bodies of dolls, The Madballs now have bodies and rush off to test them out. Unbeknownst to Frankenbeans, they are really building vehicles to combat his and in the end they are able to destroy his tank and save the world from his evil plan. “Tourist Trap” has select Madballs like Screamin’ Meemie, AARGH, Goal Eater, Fistface and Bruise Brother all going on a vacation to an island where they meet the scum bag Bermuda Schwartz The Terrible Tourist, who uses his cheap cigar smoke, freezing camera and tacky shorts to rob people and places, but with the help of a cheap mirror and luck, Fistface is able to turn the tables on this terrible man and send him to jail while they enjoy the rest of their vacation.

Finally a slight change of pace that kept lots of the same feeling but added a little seasoning to spice it up. The first story has select Madballs getting bodies and tricking and defeating Frankenbeans as the second story has select Madballs stopping a terrible tourist from robbing banks, hotels and people! The second story is short and is a nice backup to the first, even if it lied and used the name Tourist Trap as I did not see Chuck Connors as Mr. Slausen from the film of the same name.  But really it’s a cool fun short story with a funny baddie set up for them to knock down as Bermuda Schwartz is the perfect example of a person who takes the fun out of being places with his only-me attitude. Frankenbeans in this issue goes from hating Madballs, to loving Madballs like they are his children to hating them again! He is who he is and while paint by numbers, I will say he is the perfect 80’s kid comic/cartoon bad guy! None of The Madballs stand out once more and share about the same panel time, but the stand out in this issue for me has to be Fistface, who is the one who beats Schwartz at his own annoying game. The art is done by Post again, and the cover on this one is pretty cool even if it misleads a little as Frankenbeans never rides a cycle and Horn Head is not in the issue at all. Over all, it’s good standard kid comic stuff that for the most part is doing these toys justice.

Madballs 8

Madballs # 8  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 8 of 10

“Younger Than Springslime” Our story starts with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch running up a mountain from Touchdown Terror, Wolf Breath and Horn Head who caught the R.U.I.N Lab workers trying to blow up their home! But while hiding in a cave, Frankenbean finds the fountain of youth and comes up with a plan that leads to the three Madballs diving into a small pool of the water and turning them into Baby Madballs! But he soon finds that the toddler Madballs are driving him crazy with trying to win his attention, and after a dip in the Chemical Pond, they turn back into adults and decide to drop Frankenbeans and Snivelitch into the youth water giving them a taste of being young all over again! “Weather I’m Right” is the second story and has Skull Face, Goal Eater, Lock Lips, Snake Bait and Screamin’ Meemie heading to the TV Station to yell at weather lady Gail Warning who reported it would be sunny but in fact it’s a severe thunderstorm! They meet up with reformed former bad guy, Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man, who tries to warn them but it’s too late as Gail is indeed evil and she controls the weather! After freezing them and sending them to the North Poll, The Madballs find away to return to town and thanks to Snake Bait’s snakes they are able to get her weather wand and break it and safely deliver her to the cops as she is booked on crimes against nature.

The Madballs in this issue turn into babies and fight the weather, and readers are treated to these two silly stories that are pure kid comic gold.  This is a fun way to showcase The Madballs as they do good and in some odd way are teaching some sort of lessons like don’t mess with nature and be proud of your age. The Madballs that stick out in this issue are Goal Eater, who saves his fellow Madballs from freezing to death, and Snake Bait, who uses is snake like charm to rid the world of the weather wand. Frankenbeans and Snivelitch are pretty much the same as every issue as revenge is on their minds, and they know that their plan will end badly but they still take the chance. Nice to see Ben de Fax aka Anchor Man back in a cameo and that the TV Station didn’t fire him even after he robbed viewers. The new TV Station evil on air personality is Gail Warning, and she is a hot to trot blonde who for some reason gets joy in reporting the weather wrong…yeah, what an odd motivation. The best story of the two I would say is Weather I’m Right as I liked the flow a little better and the story moves at a wacky and fun pace. The art for the first story was done by Post and the second one was Gallagher, and like I broken record I will say it was fantastic and fitting.  The cover as well is pretty dang cool and showcases the Madball Babies! On a side note before we move onto the next issue, this marks the final issue under the Star brand name as the next two will sport the Marvel Comics logo.

Madballs 9

Madballs # 9  ***
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 9 of 10

“The Return Of Everyone” The twisted mind of Dr. Frankenbeans comes up with an idea to free Miss Tic The Mystic from jail, and when he and Snivelitch do so, they also free some of the other Madball baddies like Anchor-Man, The Bad Balls, Weird Beard The Pirate, Maiden Hong Kong and Colonel Corn.  Their plan is to attack five locations unless money is paid to them! The city calls on The Madballs for help who break into five groups to try and stop the madness and return these bad guys to jail. The first group goes to the Midwest, and they are Goal Eater, Snake Bair, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie as they take on Colonel Corn! While in China, Dust Brain, Lock Lips, Bash Brain and Swine Sucker tangle with the sinister Maiden Hong Kong! In L.A. Wolf Breath, Splitting Headache, AARGH and Horn Head find the wicked Anchor-Man up to his old tricks, while on the Atlantic Ocean Skull Head, Fist Face, Freak Fullback and Touchdown Terror battle on a ship with Weird Beard who has kidnapped Tommy and the gang of kids! While at R.U.I.N Lab, Foul Shot, Slobulus and Bruise Brother must come face to face with the team up of The Bad Balls, Dr. Frankenbeans, Snivelitch and Miss Tic! And with the readers help to solve puzzles like cross word, connect the dots and word find The Madballs defeat their enemies and make them all jump into the Chemical Pond.

This issue is hands down one of the best in the series and tells one story that brings back almost all the series’ main bad guys for one final battle! Plus it also showcases all The Madballs, New Madballs and Super Madballs making it feel like a one issue Madball version of Secret Wars. Miss Tic The Mystic is the brains behind the newly formed team of haters, and she is also one of the last to fall in battle.  It was great seeing her again as well as all the other baddies. While the fights are not fully shown as the puzzles act as your way to defeat them, it was nice for many of them to get that one last shot at being in the comic and trying to get revenge on those dang Madballs. Once more none of The Madballs stand out as they all play a part in trying to save the world from paying these goons to not do evil deeds. I like the idea of the puzzles being the way for The Madballs to win as it gave kids a challenge and made their minds work to solve them to further the story. My favorite bad guy who returns has to be Colonel Corn who uses his corny puns to defeat his enemies, and like before The Madballs pop his head into popcorn! Plus is clear that Snivelitch wants some Miss Tic booty and even dresses up to try and impress her. The cover is great and showcases some of The Madballs as well as some of the Bad Guys and is eye catching for fans of the series. As always Post does the art and rocks it! For the first issue being done under Marvel, this one is better than almost the whole Star Comic run and that’s because this one has action, fun games and a solid story.  Let’s see how the final issue holds up!

Madballs 10

Madballs # 10  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   # 10 of 10

“Fantastic Voyeurs”  While walking in the field near R.U.I.N Lab,Dr. Frankenbean finds the shrink gun of Rojad and wants to use it to shrink The Madballs into micro size terrors he can deal with but Touchdown Terror, Bash Brain and Fist Face come crashing in and cause Frankenbeans to have a breakdown and a virus called Unchained Melody is running rampant in his body! Snivelitch begs them to let him shrink them so they can save Frankenbean from death’s door and after thinking about it, they agree and enter Frankenbeans throat to save his life! But they only have 20 minutes to do so as the effects of the gun will run out and they will grow normal size stuck in his body! But in the end they beat the virus and escape his body and all things go back to normal. “Compose Yourself” this last adventure has Swine Sucker, Freaky Fullback, Oculus Orbus and Screamin’ Meemie going up against Grammar Moses, an old lady who uses a grammar stick to beat people who abuse the words! After being knocked around by her, thanks to giant question marks and quotations Screamin’ Meemie uses his loud words to bust her hearing aid and is able to defeat her, but they see she is a good person and it ends with her being a tutor to them so they can speak better.

The final issue is not a farewell issue, and the series does not get its ride off into the sunset instead it just ends like so many other Star Comics and Marvel titles before it. The first story is like the film Innerspace and has The Madballs entering a human body to save a life, dumb silly and a fun read for sure. The second story is a grammar lesson and has them fighting an old lady with her board that she has dubbed the board of education. The Madballs final battle with Frankenbeans and Snivelitch is really more of a rescue mission, and I am okay with that as in my head this could be the moment the feud ended between them. Grammar Moses is pretty silly but fitting when used to educate about the use of words and grammar. Touchdown Terror is the standout in the series as he seems to be calling the shots in the first story when some of The Madballs are shrunk. Would you like to know my top four Madballs that appeared in this series? While I liked them all in my own way, I would have to say my favorites in order are Horn Head, Swine Sucker, Wolf Breath and Crack Head (Bash Brain) with Dust Brain and Fist Face also coming in very close. The art is done by Howie Post again, and I will say that his work shines in these kind of kids comics, and he would be the artist I would have loved to have seen make a Commander USA comic for Star. The cover for the final issue is okay, nothing ground breaking but would for sure get the attention of fans of the series and toys. Again to sum up this series, it was pretty good and I would say it’s on the level with such other Star Comics we have looked at like Inhumanoids, Foofur, Hugga Bunch, AniMax and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos but not as good as Thundercats, Wally The Wizard and Defenders Of The Earth. If you grew up with the toys and enjoy comics based on toys check it out, if you like Star Comics and kid comics in general check it out. Below is some artwork from the series that showcases select Madballs in action, enjoy!

madballs art 1

Madballs is a good average kid comic series based on a toy line but it’s also very limited as they are just flying balls who can only really fight with the power of being gross and headbutting…so He-Man or G.I. Joe they are not, but entertaining they were. For our next update, we are heading back to the old theater as we take our third look at Marvel At The Movies! So make sure to come back for that one as we will be covering some fantastic adaptations in it. Until then, read a comic or three, collect your childhood toys and support your local horror host! And make sure to bring enough popcorn to share with others for the next update.

marvel-at-the-movies-3

Should Have Beens From My Friends


Welcome back to part two of the wish list of what should have been made by Star Comics/Marvel.  With my top 10 picks done, let’s take a look at a few others people’s thoughts and wants. This is going to be a long update, so sit back, scroll down and have fun looking at these picks down memory lane!

Bryan Brassfield

First up is my brother, Bryan Brassfield who is only three years older than me and also grew up through the 80’s and 90’s. Bryan is a collector of movies and toys and also enjoys a good comic. In fact, when we were younger he used to make his own comic called “Weird Tales of Waynesville,” a fun horror comedy look at our home town. Bryan has also directed a few no budget films that include Twisted Batman and Nightmare.  He also was making a film called The Kenny Rogers Project that fell into development hell. Bryan also has acted in many Andrew Copp films that include Black Sun, Atrocity Circle and Quiet Nights of Blood and Pain, and played a drunken abusive father for Josh Weinberg in his One Second Too Late series. Bryan now is married and lives peacefully with his wife and daughter in Germantown, Ohio. So without further ado, let’s get on to his top 5!

#5

suckerman logo

Most people wouldn’t give a shit, but I would have loved to seen a Sucker-man comic book with him being a crime fighter!

suckermansuckerman in boxSuckerman 2

#4

AWA

Hey WWF and WCW had their own comic books, why not the AWA! Imagine Sgt. Slaugher, Rick Martell, and Greg Gagne battling the likes of The Road Warriors and Baron Von Rashke.

Sgt SlaughterAWAOfficialLogolod

#3

Garbage Pail Kids Logo

Gross out humor comic that would be a combination of Mad/Cracked magazines with the Garbage Pail Kid gang. This would have been really cool.

Evil EddiePail Kids PackBrainless Brian

#2

Battle Beast Logo

Another comic book that would have a good cast of characters who could have dealt with the mythology and back story. If I’m not mistaken, I think it also had a Manga based on it.

 Note From Matt: Small Publisher BlackThorne had a 4 issue run of Battle Beast in 1988.

battlebeast1BATTLE BEASTSBattle_Beast_Loose_Sloth

#1

Muscle logo

They probably made a Magna out of this, but I think they could have done one for American audiences that would feature Muscle Man and his “Thug Busters” battling Teri-Bull and his “Cosmic Crunchers.”

Muscle ManMUSCLE BATTLETeri Bull

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Stephen Alexander

The second to share his list is my cousin Stephen Alexander II, who just so happens to also be one of my best friends.  At a young age Stephen lived for Bon Jovi, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Horror Films, and Nintendo, but he was terrified of Chucky from Child’s Play that lead to many pranks that I am sure warped him to this day. Nowadays Stephen is one of the founders of a beard & mustache club in Dayton called the Gem City Gentlemen of the Guided Beard who have been seen on the IFC show Whisker Wars. Stephen also is a no budget actor who has starred in such films as Wolf Hunter 2, Vampire Peeper of Greene County and Bark at the Moon: Oliver to name a few. He also enjoys a fine glass of beer and repairing old smoking pipes. He also is responsible for helping me to find and dig up Baron Von Porkchop to host the show Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. So let’s get to his top 5 list!

#5

gpkn6bi1 copy

To me this is a no-brainer, you have just the right amount of disgusting mixed with a cast of crazy characters to make a great comic.  They could have literally done anything with this (besides make a crappy movie).  A comic would have been a perfect route for this franchise.

adam bombles vegasStuffed Stephen

#4
Pog Logo

This one may take a little bit of imagination, but it could be done. The way I picture it is you follow a main character or several main characters that are on a quest to defeat arena Pog masters all over the world to be crowned Pog king or champion or whatever. While he/she/they are on their quest they run into all kinds of insane Pog warriors. I think it would have made a great series of comics, and hell I probably would have owned the whole set.

pog_classicpog-fire-sticksPOG-The-Game

#3

Creepy Crawlers Logo

I think this was another huge missed opportunity on it’s creators part. This could have been an epic journey through the mind. As a mad scientist creates these nasty Crawlers to take over the world, but one hero/heroes stands in his way. Every edition could have different ways the mad scientists makes new Creepy Crawlers, and the hero/heroes have to find a way to stop him. It would have been comic gold!

creepy_crawlerscreepy playsetcreepytoon

#2

MST3K

I loved this show as a kid, and it would have translated into comics amazingly. They could have just continued the travels of Mike and the robots through space, and we could have caught a glimpse of what happens when they don’t have to watch a terrible movie. Every comic could even be a continuation of one of the shows even. It would have been something I would have owned for sure.

mstMST3K-hoststhe-mystery-science-theater-3000-collection-volume-xviii-20100618033053045

#1

are-you-afraid-of-the-dark-LOGO

One of my all time favorite Nickelodeon shows. This could have easily translated into a comic. They would just take the Midnight Society and make them do what they do best, tell ghost stories. It practically writes itself, and they could do more with the comic that the show maybe wouldn’t allow, effects and that kind of jazz. Drawing it the pages of a comic would be much more cost effective I would think and it would have been a great comic book line for kids of all ages.

areyouafraidofthedarktaleofthelongagolocketAre%20You%20Afraid%20of%20the%20Darkareyouafraidofthedarkthetaleofthefinalwishs02e01

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Matt Hoffman

Next up is Matt Hoffman a friend of mine since high school and one of the co-founders of our no budget film company Independent B Movie. Matt is a comic fan and some would say a super fan of Superman.  Matt used to have a crush on Britney Spears and is one hell of a good cook.  Matt, known to his friends as Hoffman or Hotch, has been in many no budget films like Teen Suicide, Vampire Peeper of Greene County, Werewolf of Ohio 2, Bark at the Moon: Scars, Farmer Joe and is known for playing The Wolf Hunter in numerous films as well as writing and directing two films so far in that series. Hoffman no longer lives in Ohio but is still hunting wolves in Colorado. He also worked at Mavericks Cards and Comics as an early teen. Hoffman is a great friend and has picked some franchises that have had comics, and some odd choice ones for kid comics, but who am I to cross the Wolf Hunter! 

#5

starcraft_logo

I would have love to see this in a comic book form because it really reminds me a lot of a mix between Starship Troopers and Avatar.  Both has its own merits , but if you took both those concepts and visual graphics, it would have been a cool concept to make as a regular series. Imagine the story would continue from the first game that then leads into the second game where its a terran all out battle. The last remaining of the hive enslaves the photos to destroy the terrans last stronghold before total annihilation.

Note From Matt:  Publisher WildStorm had a 7 issue run of Starcraft in 2009.

Starcraft-2-1starcraft-logostarcraft-2-1216

#4

matrix_logo

The movie left out a lot of details and information as of how things really happened and what happened there after the peace between man and the machines. I would have loved to seen the different aspects of the creation of it to the total enslavement of all humans as batteries. I see the comic story breaking into several different titles given focus on certain characters like Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus along with Agent Smith. I can see one off branch giving the pre-story while others follow each character as it leads into the movies while even finishing the story after the movie series end.

Note From Matt: Small Publisher Burly Man had a 2 issue run of Matrix in 2003.

The-Matrixthe-matrix-neomatrix01

#3

2012

Hear me out on this one. With all the folklore and myths about the end of all supposed humanity and life will never be the same again based off of 1000 years old testimonies of a forgotten tribe, you could really have played with in so many ways. The movie was okay , but the comic could show different parts of the world or even how the world gets destroyed. The story could involve characters from all parts of the globe and how their civilizations and countries are preparing for an unknown disaster and not knowing how to prepare for it. Mass chaos would erupt and violence and devastation would rule the land. And it comes down to the exact moment, and the series ends just like that. 

los-angeles-sinking-ocean2012-the-end-of-the-world-291x300BOOOOMMM

#2

Resident_Evil_logo

Now tell me that isn’t self explanatory . The story is awesome, you can go with different stories, different levels. The action and the graphics are killer and just overall it’s my favorite game of all time. I don’t really have to create to much imagination just to have it continue on where the games and movies have left off. I would love to have known more about Leon and Claire and the town of raccoon city before it got hit with the T-virus to during the initial onslaught of the zombies. Kind of like The Walking Dead but with those characters instead.

 Note From Matt: Publisher Marvel had a 1 issue run of Resident Evil in 1996 that was a free give away. In 2009 Wildstorm had a 4 issue run and then a 6 issue run that started in 2000.

Lickers_resident_evilre legendsnemesis

#1

wolf hunter loo

Now I know you expected this one to pop up. The story behind the movies are so in-depth that they really can’t be translated to film as well as into a comic form. The vast amount of characters and villains would be ample amount of writing material to create a graphic novel/comic series. I see it picking up from after Armageddon to find that The Wolfhunter has been left blind in one eye and one of his hand has been ripped off from his battle with Ravenger. Malice has been killed and Ravenger disappeared.  The government has created a lethal army to hunt down and kill all remaining werewolves and to capture the Wolfhunter. Oliver was able to transform back to human form and is aiding in the capture efforts of the Wolfhunter. Duke and the Wolfhunter guild are in hiding while trying to regain forces to make one last stand against the Werewolves den. The Wolfhunter trains his apprentice to carry on his legacy as he fights his last battle.

MaliceDuke and The Wolf HunterOliver

Note from Matt – In 2008 a Wolf Hunter comic book was in the works and was being worked on by local comic artist Justin Wasson. The series while not fully dead in the water, is on the back burner and has been there for many years now. But never say never that this series might see the light of day, below is some art for the comic, so enjoy!

WH PromoPanthorHeaven

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A Ghastlee Ghoul

Now it’s time for a dear friend of mine named A. Ghastlee Ghoul, a local horror host from Dayton, Ohio. Ghastlee has been hosting his show “The Ghastlee Movie Show” since 1989 and has tickled the funny bone of late night TV viewers. Ghastlee also has appeared on many other shows such as New Shock Theater, Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, Media Only and many more. Ghastlee is the godfather of the Horror Host Underground, a show trading network that allows hosts to show fellow hosts in their area. He also hosts Weird Web Theater, a YouTube horror host show, and has done Friday Monstercasts on The Monster Channel. He’s also been nice enough to have me on his show to play his “son” or a crazed guy who says he is his son! Ghastlee has also directed movies like “Joe Nosferatu Homeless Vampire” and starred in films Black Sun, Songs in the Key of Satan.  He’s written books and short stories and plays music in two bands! His band Splattertude is also the official band of Cinema Wasteland Horror Convention. Ghastlee also loves a good cigar and is a master of the Karaoke arts.  I call Ghastlee Father and great friend, and a man who has inspired me in ways to create.  So let’s get into his top 5 because I could go on forever on the legend A. Ghastlee Ghoul!

#5

rock_em_sock_em_robots

One of my favorite games as a kid. Robots punching each other until their heads pop off. How cool is that? Long before Robot Jox or Real Steel, the Marx toy company knew how cool it is!”

rockem_sockem_robotstoyrockemartred robot

#4

Here Comes The Grump logo

A bizarre late 60’s/early 70’s cartoon by Dave DePatie and Friz Freleng. Vibrant, surreal art and smart writing. The show only ran for seventeen episodes, but the concept has so many possibilities. In the right hands it could still make a great comic book series today. Maybe they could write in a robot.”

666_500_csupload_36314628herescomesGRUMPchar_27842

#3

forbidden-planet-original

Classic sci-fi. I’m surprised it was never turned into a comic. The Krell, monsters from the Id AND Robby the Robot?! Yes, please!”

 Note From Matt: Small Publisher Inovation had a 4 issue run of Forbidden Planet in 1992.

forbiddenplanetRobbie the Robot, from the film 'Forbidden Planet', 1956.Robby+and+Altaira

#2

academylogo

It’s a concept you could have as much fun with today as we did on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. Pre-Power Rangers stories where the kids are heroes…and, oh yeah, there are robots and things blowing up!”

spaceacdemy3SpaceAcademy_l238352618_3713c94062

#1

Shock Theatre logo

A given for me. My childhood hero! I could see Creep as your gentle, wry guide through the world of the macabre, and then at the end of every vignette he shows up and kicks the bad guy’s butt with a mighty HOO-HAH-HAAAAA!!! The best of all worlds! And Big Robot from Clubhouse 22 could even make a cameo!”

DrCreepmysteria Creep DuffyDr Creep 3D

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Louie Lerma

Next up is my pal Louie Lerma who is known around here in Dayton for being a founding member of the lucha surf rock band Team Void and for also being Retina on Horror Host show Mondo Smash A’ Go-Go! Louie is one cool guy, and we have worked on many TV shows and concert events together. In fact Louie is also the uncle of one of my friends, Bruce.  So without anymore wait, let’s get to Louie’s List!

#5

RAY!

1960’s – Starting with one of my heroes Ray Dennis Steckler. He was an actor/director/ camera man/writer/ producer. He worked on low budgets. Ray Dennis Steckler was inspired by and used what was around him: friends/ family/ location/ costumes. He believed shooting without a script freed up the storyline which made his movies better. Scripts and props especially crippled movies because once you chase a script and must buy certain props you have stopped the movie’s creativity.

Ray’s Movie List: Wild Guitar. Thrill Killers. Incredibly Strange Creatures Who died And Became Mixed Up Zombies. Lemon Grove Kids. And so many more…

I would like to see this comic based on him as he is making one of his crazy movies. Each movie that he made is the issue title. Depict Ray putting together his movie and convincing other people to become part…. as the comic unfolds you will see the full feature itself. Just like in Ray’s movies such as the “Thrill Killers,” it starts out as an intense thriller and ends as a cowboy chase on canyon roads… wild ride plot twists always surprising and fun!!

One of my favorite Ray Dennis Steckler movie is “The Adventures Of Rat Phink And Boo Boo.” It starts out as a hostage movie, then the characters become superheroes by jumping into a closet to save the day! Leading up to the “Incredibly Strange” issue that would be a monster musical. You never know where each adventure will take you, loose storyline written as we draw up this comic using his stan!

Rat Finkblood+shackWild GUITAR

#4

svengoolie

1970’s – A comic based on horror show host, Svengoolie from Chicago on his show Screaming Yellow Theater. The comic would be drawn in R. Crumb style and follow Svengoolie as he hosts a mondo crazy movie. Each issue would open up with a special guest sneaking over to his coffin -knocking ever so gently to wake the star up!

The comic must highlight Svengoolie’s quick wit one liners firing off to the audience, draw them in left and right directions across the page, go wild with the comic like his style joke delivery. It would have to have him waving around a rubber chicken and having fun while having a blast with his guests, sketches sick parodies breaking out. Include commercial page inserts of products to use during his movies as funny jokes for breaks…

I would like to see this one made because I’m a horror show host myself and love Jerry G. Bishop as the original “Svengoolie” funny cool style.

svenhorror_svengoolie_old2sven rules

#3

reanimater logo

1980’s – A fly-on-the-wall comic based on H.P. Lovecraft’s “Herbert West” and drawn Brian Yuzna style. Lead character likeness of 80-s actor Jeffrey Combs. The issues would be printed black/white using textured highlights in Re-animator neon green and bloodiest reds.

Issues begin at private research laboratory as Professor Grubber goes all through West’s career coming to experiment at America’s unsuspecting colleges. Feature his curt wit working through daily wicked routines. A day in the life of Re-animator: who he befriends to conduct experiments and his enemies due to his demoralized ethics. Have to feature taking off the Dean’s head; the head becomes a voice for devils advocate to West’s gruesome fun.

 Note From Matt: Small Publisher Adventure Comics had a 3 issue Movie Adaptation in 1991, and a 4 issue run in 1992 followed. Dynamite Comics had a 1 shot issue in 2005.

reanimatorwestherbert-west-large

#2

twinpeaks1

1990’s – Twin Peaks -The Comic Saga. This was one of my favorite shows through early 90s. I love mysteries but I do believe David Lynch and the writers were messing with everybody! In this series the comic will explore Laura Palmer’s death affecting all Twin Peaks neighbors: quirky characters that knew and loved her.

The comic would be taking place in Twin Peaks after Laura’s death, narrated by Special Agent Dale Cooper, FBI speaking into his voice recorder to his secretary, Diane. Interjections by D Lynch via intercom speaker, telephone, one final cameo in front of the camera.

Twin Peaks soundtrack brings the dark mood: reverb resounding echoes of everyone’s life and thoughts. Too bad you cannot hear the music while you read the comic! (2012? Yes, easily the comic cover would have a CD insert/i Phone code/ recommendation for the reader to listen to the score by Angelo Badalementi as you feel this twisted story.)

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#1

logo_crypto

2000’s – Based on true facts for paranormal and supernatural unexplained phenomena. Name this comic “Uncovered True Paranormal; Ghosts, UFO,s USOs, Mothman, Bigfoot, Sea Creatures, All Strange Creatures And Mysterious Landmarks As We Discover Them.”

Each issue would follow three cases/ encounters and their witnesses in regional proximity to each other. Maybe discover links as the comic explores the topics.

Each situation would feature experts to the scenario and bring the reader knowledge about each witnesses experiences. I would really love to see this comic use all new, latest technology invented to investigate these claims. A compelling comic series dealing in facts that keep growing as people learn more about all these phenomena and our world.

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If anybody wants to take on these comics with me, please do. Thank you for reading my thoughts about the 5 decades of my life for comic books. This goes out to my buddy Matt Brassfield who inspired me to write this page.

Yours truly,
Luis Lerma

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Bizcut

Chris “Bizcuit” Corwin is next up, and I have know this man since I was in my late teens when he was one of my managers at Blockbuster Video, and one of my favorite co-workers. Bizcuit nowadays works for a movie theater in the Greene and is also a stand up comedian that can been seen on the stage of The Funnybone Comedy Club! Bizcuit is a film lover and a comic book reader who has also was an extra in the Sylvester Stallone film Driven. So with that in mind let’s get onto the funny man’s picks for his top five should have been comics in his youth.  Oh yeah, and he was a rebel and could not keep his picks to 5.  So he did 8, and I am okay with that!

#8

MacGyver logo

I think this would be great because there were so many more stories that are to be told and situations to get out of using everyday objects, gum, and paper clips. It would be like a “How To” guide if you were ever held hostage or had to defuse a bomb with only 30 seconds left.

 Note From Matt: Publisher Image had a 5 issue run of Macgyver in 2012.

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#7

Sheriff Lobo logo

Crooked small town sheriff and his inept deputy who moves like a jungle cat (watch the show to get that joke) and their misadventures solving crime. With guest appearance occasionally by B.J. and the Bear. I liked Lobo even though he was flawed he tried to do good.

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#6

Magnum P.I. logo

This just screams comic to me. Writers could delve in to Magnum’s history and his time in Vietnam. What is Higgins’ background? He could be a super badass and you would never know. How about Rick and CC? Plus as an added bonus it is set in Hawaii so comic book girls in bikinis.

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#5

Pennywise the Clown Logo

Stephen King’s IT terrified me as a novel but as a movie not so much. IT took the form of Pennywise more than once over its lengthy existence. I want to know what that tale is. What is IT? Where does it come from? Why the clown? I feel there is way more horror to be expounded upon.

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#4

The Shirt Tales Logo

The what? The Shirts Tales. It was a cartoon from the 80’s that starred a panda (Pam), tiger (Ty), mole (Digger), raccoon (Rick) and an orangutan (Bogey- who was voiced with a Humphrey Bogart impression) and were a group of super agent spies with all the gadgets that lived in a tree in Central Park. Seriously, do I have to say more?

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#3

Last Starfighter logo

Aliens use a video game as a test to find the ultimate fighter pilot and then come to Earth to take him back so he can save their world. Spoiler alert: he totally wins. Is that it though? I mean there are a lot of bad guys in the universe. There is as many stories as there are stars.

 Note From Matt: Marvel Comics Did a three issue movie adaptation of the film in 1984.

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#2

Goonies logo

Perhaps the greatest kids movie ever made. My apologies to Surf Ninjas but you know it is true. I wanted and STILL want more Goonie adventures. They live in a coastal town there has to be more treasures find and bad guys foil.

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And the number 1 thing I would have like to seen turned into a comic book is…..

#1

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The French Chef with Julia Child! I know you just read that and said WTF?! Yes, I said Julia Child. Why? Well quite simply I loved watching that woman cook. Yes I know they mad a crappy movie about her. Do you know what they left out of that movie? That Julia Child was a spook, a spy if you will for the Office of Strategic Services which in WWII was the forerunner to the CIA. She was Jane Bond and she could handle a knife and she could cook. She travelled the world under the guise of THE celebrity chef and was spying on people when she did it and no one saw her coming. Would anyone suspect her? Um no, because she is Julia F’n Child. It practically writes itself. Julia travels, cooks and spies. Throw in a bad cooking pun for some comedy whilst she is killing a bad guy or two and pesto! ( see what I did there) instant comic book heroine. You also get a positive role model for young girls. For those who like to cook you can put a recipe on the last page or two.

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So, that is my list. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks to Matt for asking me to do this. I had fun.

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Jason Young

I have known Jason Young for a very long time and met him via Mavericks Cards and Comics in Kettering Ohio.  He was always trying to help me to find classic back issues and Topps comics when I was a teen shopping at the store. Jason is an award winning comic book artist who makes his own bio comics called Veggie Dog Saturn that comes out via his own comic company Buyer Beware Comics. Jason is also a no budget actor and has been in many films like Werewolf of Ohio 2, Slashers Gone Wild, Wolf Hunter 2 and Cocktober Blood to name a few. Jason also loves the 80’s hairband Poison and even has the band’s logo tattooed on his arm! Jason also does a podcast with our friend Eric called Gutar Trash. I also lived with Jason for a few years, and he was a great roommate and a good cook of tofu and eggs! Jason is a man who loves comics and movies and hates Magic the Gathering and with that let’s take a look at his top 5!

#5

highwaymen logo

This TV series from the late ’80’s was more like a cartoon than the live action show it actually was. It featured not only a semi truck that could turn into a helicopter (I know right?!?) but also the Australian bodybuilder “Jacko” who used to do commercials where he screamed at the top of his lungs and burst through walls all in the name of selling Energizer batteries.

I would have bought this comic. It would’ve been drawn by Rob Liefeld and featured foil embossed covers. It maybe even would’ve included a trading card bagged in issue #1. It would’ve been so bad that it would’ve been amazing. So, so amazing.

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#4

Eagle Force logo

This was a super short lived toyline that me and my brother went crazy for… and then it disappeared. It was like a cross between M.U.S.C.L.E.S. and G.I. Joe. They were tiny little metal army guys each one with distinct personalities (the fat bearded Harley was my favorite). Although Wikipedia says there was a comic I don’t believe it. I’ve worked at a comic book shop for more than two decades and have never seen one. There were six panel comics on the back of the action figure packages and those made me long to see a full length book!

The comic would’ve been pretty much like the ’80’s G.I. Joe comic. I mean let’s be honest here… Eagle Force was a G.I. Joe rip off pure and simple (they fought a terrorist organization called RIOT which featured soldiers and ninjas and was led by General Mamba) but it still remains one of my favorite toy lines ever and I would’ve absolutely loved to read a comic book about them.

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#3

Ed Grimley logo

This was an amazing cartoon from the late ’80’s based on Martin Short’s character from SCTV and Saturday NightLive. It was bizarre and subtle at the same time and featured science lessons by the Amazing Gustav Brothers and the live action horror host Count Floyd. This show could be an adult swim show… truly ahead of it’s time this thing was.

 The comic most likely couldn’t have captured the vibe of the show but I still would’ve bought it. I definitely would’ve wanted all the different segments from the show as those were some of my favorite parts (The Gustav brother are responsible for my to this day only using unwaxed dental floss).

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#2

Garbage Pail Kids Logo copy

What young man in the ’80’s didn’t love the Garbage Pail Kids? The grossest, weirdest most hilarious trading cards ever to exist would’ve been great as a comic book! I mean, look how sweet the movie turned out? Okay, so the movie is kind of hard to watch but a comic could’ve been great especially since Art Spiegelman (a brilliant comic book writer/artist) came up with the series!

 In my mind the comic would’ve been a series of short stories involving no more than a handful of G.P. Kids at a time. Maybe like those old Richie Rich, Casper and Hot Stuff comics where you’d get a few stories each issue. That way they’d be short and sweet… and hopefully gross and hilarious!

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#1

Muscle logo copy

(Millions of Unusual Small Creatures Lurking Everywhere) : This would definitely be the ’80’s property I’d most liked to have seen made into a comic book. There were just so many great characters (like the evil Michael Jackson glove!) that it was mindblowing! When I was a kid I loved wrestling, monsters,robots and toys so this line was a no-brainer as it included all of those things. It was basically a toyline of two inch tall characters that would be right at home in a GWAR stage show… simply amazing.

I guess what I’d like to see in the comic would be quite simply: Mondo Violence! Sure you could throw in some comedy and perhaps some allegiances between some of the characters but I have to say the violence would be key. Since their name suggests they’re tiny little creatures maybe the intergalactic wrestling could take place under kids’ beds as they watch in delight while they should’ve been going to sleep… I don’t know. As long as it was uber violent and funny it would’ve been great to see.

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Eric Shonborn

Eric Shonborn is an amazing artist who back in the day worked on books like Razor Baby, and nowadays has his website Shonborn’s Carpal Tunnel where he gives his thoughts and shares a sketch a day. Eric has tried his hand at acting as well and has been on episodes of Terrifying Tales of The Macabre and starred in a movie called All The Marbles. He has also worked on many DVD covers that include Werewolf of Ohio for Warlock Home Video, Vampire Peeper of Greene County for Independent B Movie and did many covers for the releases of New Shock Theater on DVD. He also has three podcasts that include Gutter Trash, The View Masters and The Stupid Sexy Podcast in which he and his co-hosts talk comics, movies, TV shows and many more fun topics. I met Eric via Mavericks and became friends with him thanks to Jason Young and am proud to call him a friend! So with that let’s take a look at his top 5 picks!

#5

Night Court logo

My favorite sitcom as a kid, and quite frankly, as an adult. I still find it to be an absolute delight. I don’t think it’d be a great comic, but it’d be a weird comic, and 8 year old me would be all over it. During the later seasons, Night Court got more wacky and over the top and was almost like a living comic book anyway. In an actual comic, the sky would be the limit and nothing could be held back. The comic book adventures of Harry Stone and The Criminal Court Part 2 could be in session anywhere, anyway, anyhow. 

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#4

Max Headroom logo

Max Headroom was such an oddity. An ad campaign for Coca-Cola that took on a life of its own as a weird Britishy/American 80s vision of the post-apocalypse sci-fi tv show. Admittedly as a comic, Max would lose it’s greatest asset – actor Matt Frewer. But like Night Court, with comics there’s no budget or human limit to adhere to. The comic could up the ante in the sci-fi and apocalyptic imagery and go places the show could only have dreamed of.

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#3

Starman logo

It’s weird. I’ve never thought of myself as a sci-fi fan, and yet so much of what I loved as a kid was rooted in it, much like John Carpenter’s rebuttal to his own earlier movie, The Thing. He wanted to create a positive, friendly alien movie and in the process created the sympathetic and heroic Starman. There was a short-lived TV show that followed the movie. I’d imagine the comic would pick up from that, and maybe even gear the lead character to be a stripped down, low-level superhero of sorts while still playing with the Stranger in a Strange Land themes.

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#2

turbo teen logo

Man, this cartoon is so dumb and ridiculous. Even as a kid, I’m pretty sure I thought that, but I still loved it. I remember watching it all the time, but can barely remember it outside of the origin of the character. A young kid gets in an accident and fuses with his car, which he then can transform into. It’s so weird. The comic would just be a continuation of the cartoon, and it would be weird and make no sense and I would devour every issue and beg for more.

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#1

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This is one is kind of a cheat. There was a three issue comic released in 2008 written by William Katt himself. There’s also a great parody/homage comic from the early 2000s called “Truth, Justin and the American Way”. The show was itself a sort-of knock off of Green Lantern. Aliens give a worthy human a powerful tool to save the world, but he loses the instruction manual. Wackiness ensues. The comic would be the show, but bigger and bolder. More comedy, more action, more emphasis on the haphazard superheroics of Ralph Hinkley and his friends and perhaps more superpowers. So like I said, there eventually was a comic, but not when I was a kid – when I wanted one and when I would have loved one.

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Jeremy Hoyet

Next up is my good friend and fellow co-worker at Mavericks, Jeremy Hoyt, who is a man who loves almost everything from Japanese culture that includes everything from Godzilla to Manga. Jeremy also is a super fan of Voodoo from the super hero team Wild Cats and also is a man who loves the Muppets and owns a few life size replicas. He is also a fellow member of the board game club I belong to and is a fellow PS3 player that has helped me beat such games as Resident Evil 6, Lost Planet 2 and Aliens Colonial Marines. He has also acted in a few no budget films that are not completed like Long Dead Winter and Frankenstein vs. The Werewolf. Hoyt is a living legend and one cool guy to call a friend, so let’s take a look at his top 5! 

#5

RushnAttack logo

This was a great action game on the NES back in the 80’s and would make a great “period piece” comic series. I enjoyed the game and the art sensibilities of those 80’s video games would really make it stand out in the market today. A smart licensor could pair it with promotion of that show “The Americans.”

I see the story developing as a cross between political intrigue and all out action, think “Ghost in the Shell” meets “Rambo.” A group within Russia makes the calculation to launch a covert war against America and our allies and only one man, and his team of tactical advisors and espionage experts, can stop them.

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#4

The Mysterious Cites of Gold logo

This was one of my absolute favorite cartoons back in the day, mid 80’s. I and my little sister would stop whatever we were doing when it time for the show, and it dominated our lives for an entire summer.  Fantasy adventure with a hint of a history lesson thrown in, what’s not to love.

The comic adaptation could follow the adventures of some of the secondary characters or maybe take place years before the show as a prequel. Fantasy and ancient technology merge in the midst of the Spanish conquest of South America and the subjugation of its people. Add in a possible alien invasion and boom instant classic.

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#3

Metroid logo

This is one of those no brainers that I’m amazed never came to be. Yes, there were Metroid villains in “Captain N” and Metroid manga in Japan, but here in the states in the 80’s we got left out in the cold by Nintendo when it came to Metroid merchandise.

I don’t really need to say why this would be cool do I? Bad ass bounty hunter Samus Aran combs the galaxy fighting space pirates and monsters while in search of lost alien technology and the truth behind the living weapons known as Metroids.

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#2

Robotix logo

To be honest I don’t remember too much about Robotics other than its amazing theme song…ROOOBOTIX, robotix… Anyway, it was a cool build it yourself toy line of giant robots.  Transformers meets Legos. Yes, there was one issue made back in the 80’s but that was it, no series, no resolution.

Simply put I love robots, kids love robots. The possibilities of launching a franchise on the scale of Transformers would wet any executives’ appetite. Technology run amok, terrorists with giant robots to back them up, and a rag tag group of heroes working with sentient machines for the good of Earth. Oh, and a killer theme song… uhh, comics don’t have theme songs you say. Well, as a bonus the first issue could come with a soundtrack CD.

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#1

Final Fantasy logo

Yes, there have been manga, but as with Metroid, back in the 80’s we got none of that here in the states, and to be honest, there isn’t a Final Fantasy presence in comics today. It’s a huge franchise with limitless possibilities.

The story could literally go anywhere. Medieval fantasy epic, check, futuristic cyberpunk, check, alternate reality hoping, check, time travel, check.  You name it, and it could happen in this book. It could even be an anthology series with different creative teams and different worlds for each story arc.

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Bruce O Hughes

Bruce O Hughes is a local comic artist who I met via Mavericks Cards and Comics thanks to my friends Jason Young and Eric Shonborn.  I quickly became friends with this talented man. Bruce has worked on many great local comics like Clobber Vance, Iron & Ink and Razor Baby, and has done many great DVD covers that include Terrifying Tales of The Macabre, Goatman of Maryland and episode 4 of The New Shock Theater. Bruce also does a comic podcast called The Break Ins where he and fellow local comic artist Justin Wasson talk about all things nerdom. Bruce has also tried his hand in acting and has been in All The Marbles and Missing. Bruce works for a local TV Station and also does some animation for Minor League Baseball Teams.  So in short Bruce is your go-to guy when it comes to your artwork needs! So let’s get a few words from Bruce and then go into his top 5.

I was born in 1978 & prone to reading comic books on the many 4 hours drives to see my Granny in Kentucky once a month so I am no stranger to Star Comics. Many of its short lived titles such as Silverhawks, Heathcliff, Madballs & Count Duckula were right up there with Spider-Man & Batman for me. I loved being able to take their adventures with me where ever I went & having the oppurtunity to sit down & study exactly what they looked like as well as the world around them. Truth be told, I probably make my own comics because of the comic books that my dad bought me at the Hook’s corner drug store before every car ride down south. Thank Gawd I was an impatient child!

#5

Flight of the Navigator logo

This is a movie I watched many times in school for some reason. I think it’s one of the few VHS tapes that the school owned so anytime we could not go outside for recess this, got crammed into a tape deck & rolled out in front of us. The story is simple in an unnecessary kind of way. There is a reason for the characters to spend some time together at odds with one another, then once they have achieved their goal they move on… but what if this was made into a Star Comic back in 1986, what would have happened after the credits rolled? I’d like to think the comic would have ignored the second half of the movie where David gets to go back in time & live a semi-normal life with his family & new alien pet. I’d like to see the comic start with Max & David showing up in the future, or an alien world, anywhere but where they wanted to go. The stories could have been about them trying to get David back home or Max completing his mission or even them returning all the other aliens on the ship to their homes. Each issue a different planet, a different problem. I would have bought this on sight!

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#4

Bravestarr logo

What started out as a spin off of the Filmation Ghostbusters gave me an appreciation for not only westerns but also good old fashion sci-fi! I remember coming home from school to see the namesake Marshall & his horse, Thirty-Thirty, keep New Texas safe from Tex Hex & all the other no-count outlaws. It was perfect. There was that sense of old-timey home spun morals mixed with robots, aliens & even a time traveling Sherlock Holmes! These stories ended after 65 episodes & a failed movie… but what if they continued? There was a BraveStarr comic series but it didn’t last long & was in 3D. I’m talking old school blue & red 3D. Who liked that? Yuck. I like to imagine that the adventures of Marshall BraveStarr, Thirty-Thirty, Deputy Fuzz & JD would have translated to a universe spanning epic. There could have been other Marshalls, more of the legal system could have been explored, what happens when all the ore has been mined? It’s such a broad canvas to explore.

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#3

Doogie houser logo

The teen drama that should be given credit for almost every CW show! Doogie was a super smart teen doctor. That’s it. The show had a straight forward concept but it used it to explore so many social issues… such as racism, sexism, insurance & its prices, aging, losing your virginity, spousal abuse, etc. This was a much deeper show that we would all like to admit & it ended abruptly. The last thing we ever saw was Doogie quitting his job & heading off to Europe. He was unhappy with the direction his life was going & had made the decision to leave it all behind & see what he could do with his natural talent besides make money & save a few while a majority suffered. If this story ever continued it could be the equivalent to “a hero’s journey” tale. Our young, once doctor, could travel around the world looking for something bigger than himself, stopping here & there to improve the lives of others along the way. It lends itself well to a monthly comic but even better a series of graphic novels. Hell, this may be the one idea on my list that could come back on television if done right!

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#2

Teen wolf logo

First Teen Wolf was a movie, then a cartoon, then a TV show… why not a comic book? The cartoon differed a bit from the movie.  For one, Scott Howard was still hiding his Wolf-ness from the town.  The second big change was that he had more family, two grandparents & a younger sister. The cartoon only lasted two seasons & none of the episodes pushed the envelope when it came to new or original ideas. But… if there had been a comic I’m sure someone would have seen this for what it could have been; awesome! Think of a world that already has Werewolves, now why not other “monsters”? Vampires, ghosts, zombies, etc. could have all made appearances in the Teen Wolf world. This was ripe for new stories!

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#1

Back to the future logo

What can I say? Michael J. Fox was a big part of my childhood! We’ve all seen the movies, we all know the characters, there was even an animated series for a few years. Time travel will always lend itself to endless stories & in comics the budget is a lot less for a lot more than you could get out of a movie. Imagine if the story continued after Doc Brown & family drove off on their flying train (ignoring the animated series for a bit). Where did they go next? What did they do? Who did they meet? Why hasn’t there been another movie already?!?

Note From Matt: Publisher Harvey Comics had a few issues of the animated Back To The Future in 1991.

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Garrison Kane

Garrison Kane is a friend I meet via Fairmont High School who was in the media class ahead of me, and one the the first times I met him, he was doing a prank call on the school radio station’s phone! After school I worked with Garrison at two jobs: Krogers and Blockbuster Video, and he works with me again currently. Garrison is a man who collects Nintendo products, Legos and Masters of the Universe vintage figures. Garrison is also known as Dr. Gakman to his friends and many video game forums, and has also been in many low budget films like The Sadness, Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast and Wolf Hunter 2. Gakman is also a member of the board game club and has been a great friend for many years so before we get to his top 5, here are some words from the one and only Dr. Gakman.

Hello, my name is Garrison Andrew Kane, and I’m here with my list of 5 franchises that never had a comic book series. It’s not really a “top 5” for me as I just came up with these rather quickly to put together for a friend upon his request on short notice. Also, as such, this isn’t going to be a comprehensive/descriptive list of what I’d personally want or think is needed to become a comic as most things that I really would want to be on a “top 5” list is probably already a comic.

#5

Garbage Pail Kids Logo copy

This one is kind of a throw away which is why I list it first (I guess #5). As an ‘80’s child I can tell you it was HUGE for me and a lot of kid’s back then. As with anything that kids like and makes money it was a target for persecution by the powers that be (the “we hate _____ ‘cos it’s ruining our children” police, the media, hell…parents). Eventually they put an end to the fun, but not before Topps continued with GPK series’ reaching double digits, responding with an even more radical (and more violent) “Dinosaurs Attack” trading cards set to the theme of the old “Aliens Attack” cards before them (both of these also deserving of a comic) and then finally a Garbage Pail Kid’s major motion picture. If anyone remembers this would’ve been an easy conversion to comics as many cards had comic-book like panels on the back featuring silly stories about the gross characters from the universe.

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#4

Ronin Warriors logo

If you know me you know I had to put in a Japanimation-themed franchise up for an American comic. There are TONS of Japanimation franchises, but I wanted to limit myself to one for this list. I looked up whether or not there was a Robotech (AKA Macross) comic (mind you, back when the cartoon first made it’s way to American TV circa ’85) in America and there actually was so I went with something less-known and Ronin Warriors (AKA Samurai Troopers) popped in my head. Now there certainly is a Japanese manga of this series, but nothing adapted into an American comic like was done for the Robotech cartoon. I think this one could make a cool comic mainly ‘cos of the armor and weapons…I imagine a really good artist could get lost on the details there. 

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#3

Skysurfer Strike Force logo

Speaking of detail SSSF had amazing detail in the animation and character designs and again, this would translate best in comic for with the right artist. This entry is probably very obscure/unknown to most, but it was a short-lived (and equally short-loved) ‘90’s American toon that appeared soon after the “Con: The Adventurer” cartoon series was done and featured many of the same people (including voices) from said Conan cartoon. It seemed to follow the ‘80’s toy/cartoon formula much like say…He-Man or TMNT and the like, but it didn’t work as well. It was mean to be deeper, darker…more grown-up than those cartoons before it, but just never was a hit.

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#2

Neutrinos logo

Mentioned TMNT already and that started as a comic and had the Casey Jones & Usagi Yojimbo spin-off comics too…but never a Neutrinos spin-off. So yes, I would like to find out more about these hot rodin’ teenagers from Dimension X (in fact, that should be the name of the comic, hmm: HRTFDX or maybe HTDX?). In this case it wouldn’t be so much about the art or even detail…but just to read what these far-out futuristic ‘50’s inspired daddy-o’s would say and where a hover car & dimensional portal would take them!

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#1

Metroid loggggoo

I’m a Nintendo nut…and my favorite franchises from them or…from anyone, is Metroid! Yes there was a Super Metroid comic in Nintendo Power magazine and there was a Japanese manga, but I would like more. But not too much more really…sometimes certain things are better left to mystery…so we can use our own imagination. When it comes to the Metroid games, I think it is better when there’s not too much story in it and likewise if they were to adapt it into a cartoon, movie or comic I would say just show the action…less story please! Too many sci-fi themed franchises spend too much time explaining everything and look ridiculous or boring as a result, with something as precious as Metroid is to me…I’d want the opposite. Metroid is at the top of any list you throw at me, but at the same time, I’m torn as to whether I’d want something like a comic or movie based off my favorite franchise ever to tarnish it. If either were a go, art (great special effects or 3D if a movie) like lenticular pages, holographic images implanted into certain panels of the comic or add glow-in-the-dark ink to find “secrets” while reading the comic in the dark would be what I’d want along with very detailed art. Action and art being the focus NOT story…leave that to mystery…which is part of Metroid’s charm.

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Juliet Fromholt

Next up is my girlfriend Juliet Fromholt, a young lady who puts up with all my weird loves in all that is nerdom and who also loves all this geeky stuff! I meet Juliet at a used media store where she worked called CD Connection, and after a few years of being friends we ended up dating and are going on five years now.  Juliet is a bright young lady who got a degree from Wright State and ran their Radio Station for 2 years. Juliet now works for a local NPR station as a reporter, DJ and webmaster.  She can also be found as a movie and video game reviewer for Bloodline Video, and also acting in local no budget films like Quiet Nights of Blood and Pain and episodes of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. Juliet is a great friend to the local media art scene and is a supporter of all things local, and a lover of theater arts. So with that let’s take a look at her top 5 picks. 

#5

poundpuppieslogo

They’re lovable; they’re huggable; they’re Pound Puppies! I was the proud owner of several Pound Puppies and Pound Purries (their feline counterparts) as a child. My 4th or 5th birthday was actually Pound Puppies themed complete with a pin-the-tail-on-the-Pound-Puppy game and a cake topped with figurines of Cooler, Nose Marie and the rest of the gang. I also still own the VHS of 3 Pound Puppies cartoon adventures including The Newborns at Camp Okay Boney. That story alone would make a great comic book, but really there are so many things they could do with the Pound Puppies characters all the while helping make a case for adopting shelter pets (and of course, the non-profit employee in me even envisions the proceeds going to help real-life shelter animals).

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#4

Count Chocula

Based on the classic Universal Monsters, Count Chocula & company have become pop culture icons in their own right. They’re so iconic in fact that I can recite many of the commercials that aired during my childhood, without having actually eaten the cereal until I was well into adulthood. I was actually really surprised that there was never even a single-issue, prize in the box/mailaway comic created for these characters. When Matt asked me to make my Star picks, this was one of the first franchises that came to mind and it’s because of one particular commercial. In 1988, the Fruity Yummy Mummy and his accompanying cereal were introduced. The Yummy Mummy was, of course, another try at a mixed fruit flavored cereal, the first mascot thereof being the Fruit Brute. In the commercial, we see Count Chocula and Frankenberry exploring a pyramid. They fall through a trapdoor, into the tomb where the Fruity Yummy Mummy emerges from his sarcophagus and sings to them about his cereal (and yes, you can see this on YouTube). An expanded version of this story alone would have made a really fun comic – it’s like Indiana Jones meets Universal Monsters meets a well-balanced but sugary breakfast. While I don’t particularly think a series based on Count Chocula would have lasted more than 3 or 4 issues, I could dream up a wealth of story lines to keep it rolling for a while including sugary parodies of each monster’s Universal film/legend and the traditional Addams Family/Munsters-style haunted hijinks. 

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#3

california-raisins

The California Raisins were born in 1986 when a member of the California Raisin Advisory Board exclaimed in a marketing brainstorm session, “We’ve tried everything except singing, dancing raisins!” So what did they do? Created singing, dancing raisins. The first appearances of the California Raisins were in claymation commercials and the Emmy-winning Claymation Christmas special, which is still one of my favorite TV holiday specials of all time. The Raisins made a few more claymation appearances as the individual characters were developed, and then they made the leap to Saturday mornings with their own cartoon. The cartoon only lasted 13 episodes, but it certainly made an impression on me as my mom and I still talk about the episode where the punk rocker Lick Broccoli (who was a guitar slinging stalk of broccoli) tried to steal the girl Raisins’ (The Sweet Currants) new song. Like that episode, most of the cartoon’s plots were based on the musical adventures and mishaps of the Raisins, and a comic based on the characters could certainly do the same. One of the things I always remember about the cartoon was the clever use of other fruits and vegetables for the supporting cast of characters. I think that would be so much fun and could have been done so well in a comic. One relic from the California Raisins brief media saturation is a really great line of Raisin figurines, similar to the Smurf figurines that made their way from Europe to the US in the 1980s. I have a fairly decent collection of the Raisins, but just learned that some of the side characters from the cartoon are also lurking out there somewhere. But that’s probably an issue to take up in a different blog.

 Note From Matt: Small Comic Company BlackThrone Did a five issue 3-D run of the raisins in 1988.

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#2

shera logo

It was just a given in my mind: there are He-man comics, therefore there are She-Ra comics. But we all know what happens when you assume….you’re wrong and you get no She-Ra comics because they don’t exist. Someone was seriously missing the boat on this one. I could actually see a comic version of She-Ra being almost like Sailor Moon in terms of franchise: a multi-arc book based on the title character and her universe with plenty of room to explore side characters either in their own arcs or even their own books. While there are certainly more female comic characters, especially in the hero’s role, today than ever, I still don’t feel like there are necessarily a lot of comics geared towards girls, and this franchise could have easily filled that void. I could see the series following the cartoon closely to appeal to younger readers, or, again, following the Sailor Moon model, it could taken the base action/adventure/fantasy storyline a bit deeper to appeal to teenage/adult readers. They could even follow DC’s Teeny Titans model with super kid-friendly stories about Adora, Glimmer and Madame Razz for the younger set and then a regular, more adult series. There’s of course, crossover potential with He-man characters and stories, and I could even see some of the She-Ra side characters getting their own mini-series/one-shots. A smart comic company with good writers could actually probably still make this happen with some success today – banking on nostalgic young ladies of the 80s like myself and then introducing the She-Ra characters to a whole new generation of young women. There’s such a wealth of stories to be told….if anyone needs me, I’ll be re-watching the cartoon series and taking notes.  

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#1

jem logo

Glamor and glitter, fashion and fame – Jem is truly outrageous…and much cooler than Barbie. The dolls were incredibly fun and each came with his or her own cassette tape featuring original music “performed” by the characters, and if you were super lucky, you’d play those cassette tapes in the built-in player in Jem’s toy limo. The cartoon series, which was recently released in its entirety on DVD, was also really fun and so of its time with lots of 80s rock and roll fashion and the popstar vs. punk rock vs. new wave story arc. As with the aforementioned ideas for She-Ra, a Jem comic would have been an awesome way to get more young women reading comics from an early age. The lead character has your classic comic trope of the alter ego – Starlight Music owner Jerrica Brown is really international rock sensation Jem. How does Jerrica balance her two lives and with whom does she share her secret? Throw in some amazing villains who are as loveable as the heroes in the form of the Mistfits and the Stingers, super computer/holographic helper Syngery and poor confused Rio who can’t decide if he loves Jem or Jerrica, and this book writes itself. It’s crazy that this wasn’t a comic, and even crazier when you consider that Marvel Productions had a hand in the cartoon.

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Josh Weinberg

Josh Weinberg has been one of my best friend since I moved back to Kettering when I was in the 9th grade and was one of the first kids to go out of his way to be friendly to the strange guy in his Evil Dead T-shirt. Weinberg and I have worked many jobs together that include Krogers, Blockbuster Video and Game Swap and have worked on many films as well that include Andy Copp’s Black Sun, Matt Hoffman’s Wolf Hunter, and he has starred in many of my own films like Werewolf of Ohio, The Sadness and Cocktober Blood. Weinberg has also made his own films that include One Second Too Late, Two Seconds Too Late and Bark At The Moon: Oliver. He also spends holidays around Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny as he works the photo sets located in the malls around here. He is also a sports nut and loves both the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals. He also loves to hunt ghosts and Bigfoot and doesn’t mind roaming the backwoods of Ohio trying to find the legends with me. He also is a fellow music lover and has been to many concerts with me that include seeing bands like Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Cinderella, Poison, Dokken and Kiss to name a few. He is married to his wife Lisa, and I was his best man in the wedding.  Josh is a kick ass guy that I am happy to call friend and with that let’s get into his top 5.

#5

frosted-flakes

Number five on my top five would have to be Tony the Tiger. Growing up I would always love to see that tiger come on the screen to advertise his cereal. Nothing wrong with sugar coated cereal in my opinion. I think it would have been cool to make Tony the Tiger a super hero. Kind of like Batman or Superman in the sense that he would have an alter ego as the cereal selling tiger but by night he would be out fighting crime. He could even team up with other mascots to aid him in this. The possibilities for this are endless as far as story lines.

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#4

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Number four on my top five list would be Secret of the Nimh. Growing up this was one of my all time favorite movies. I used to watch it over and over again just to see what would happen. As if anything would change each time I watched it. I think it would have been cool to see maybe some adventures that the characters could have had exploring the world of Nimh after the second movie. They would just go off and explore the rest of the world. Mix in maybe some more back story into the main characters of the first film that did not survive.

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#3

Willy-Logo

Number three on my top five list would be Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Same thing as Secret of the Nimh, this was another childhood favorite of mine. To this day I still love this movie and hated to see it remade. The movie portrays all the diferent types of people that are in the world all the way down to your average good person that may or may not have everything they want but make the best out of everything. Proving that hard work and dedication as well as some morals really do pay off. If I was writing the comic, I would love to see where Charlie takes the chocolate factory after he takes over. To see if he would open it up more or keep it just as secret as always.

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#2

Montezumas_Revenge_SMS_ScreenShot1

Number two on my top five would be the video game Montezuma’s Revenge. I remember this game growing up because it was on the first video game system that we had, the Atari. It was contained on the floppy disk. I just remember sitting there for hours playing this game and not getting bored but somewhat frustrated with it, trying my hardest to beat it. The comic for me would be simple; just show the adventures Panama Joe would have while trapped in the temple. The whole goal would be to escape the temple and free himself and his people.

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#1

706

Number one on my top five list would be the Cincinnati Reds, especially the 1990 squad that went wire to wire. Growing up I was like most kids, loved sports and playing outside. Then came the 1990 Reds. They are the reason I still love the Reds to this date. They had so many characters on that squad that just made you want to watch. Everyone from Chris Sabo (which I had a book as a kid where he was my coach) to Eric Davis, Paul O’Neil and of course Barry Larkin. I would have loved to be able to have read a comic based on that year. Then going on into Reds history in general. There is a lot of rich baseball history in Cincinnati. Even though most of those players did not last very long in the majors. That year and that team to me remain one of the best in baseball history.

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Kipp Poe

Kipp Poe Speicher is a fellow no budget filmmaker that I met in my days of traveling to horror film conventions, and we quickly became friends. Kipp Poe has made the short film Dreadful and has worked on many other films that include Werewolves of the Relic, Cult of the Jester and Church of the Eyes. Kipp is also an author of digital books now and is one all around great guy. Kipp also is the man who filmed Josh & Lisa Weinberg’s wedding! So with that in mind, let’s get to Kipp’s Top 5!

#5

Max A Collins logoMax A Collins Nathan Heller series made into comic form as the Private Eye revisits popular True Crimes of history and gives us an alternate reality of them as he tries to solve them.

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#4

Universal Monsters Logo

Universal Monsters was a big influence on my childhood I didn’t watch many cartoons but always loved it when Super Host would have on any of the Universal Monster shows on. I think a comic book of them teaming up would have been a cool read.

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#3

The Wall Logo

It was an album that formed my life and I could see a series based on it as a youth and being alienated and building a world around you of Art and noise.

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#2

Manos Logo

Manos The Hands of Fate …Why because it would have to be incredibly awful and a total trip.

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#1

Dragnet logo

A comic book series geared towards crimes that happen in today’s world and the steps that Law Enforcement takes to put an end to it. The series would give insight to children what cops do and hopefully bring social acceptance between youths and Police. This would also work with Adam 12.

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Blood lineRick Martin

I meet Rick Martin via my brother Bryan and friend Andy Copp and quickly became his friend. Rick is the owner of RMM Agency that put out Ultra Man, Cannibal Ferox and Best of Shock Theatre on VHS.  He is also one part of the team that brought Dayton horror host icon Dr. Creep back to TV with The New Shock Theater. Rick was also Dr. Creep’s manager and close friend. Rick Martin loves board and role playing games as well as horror films, Godzilla, Samari Cinema and the hit BBC show Dr. Who. He also is one of the original team members who put on Horrorama, an all night horror movie marathon for charity! Rick also taught classes at Sinclair Community Collage about classic horror films and is currently teaching classes at SWORD about the films of Kurosawa. I am proud to call Rick and friend and with no further ado here is his top 5.   

#5

hamiltons-invaders logo

The action figure and toy line called Horrible Hamilton. These toys were of giant space insects and the humans who are fighting them off from world domination. They toys were amazing and a comic would have rocked!

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#4

King Zor  logo

King Zor was a giant space dragon toy from my youth. A comic series about his exploits, conquests and battles would have been a child of the 1960s dream!

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#3

Rat Patrol logo

I would have loved to have seen a comic book of the Rat Patrol TV series. Watching those soldiers fight Rommel’s Africa Corp on TV was fantastic – a comic could have been even more so!

 Note From Matt: Publisher DELL had a 6 issue run of The Rat Patrol in 1967.

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#2

Universal Monsters logo 2

I always wanted a comic series following the exploits of the Universal Monsters. It would have been cool to see them all meet up and fight!

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#1

Hammer Frank logo

Last but not least, I always wanted to see a regular comic book series following the adventures of my favorite anti-hero of the movies – Peter Cushing’s Dr. Frankenstein from the Hammer film series! Imagine him moving from town to town trying to perfect his perfect creation while the church and the judicial authorities try and catch him and make him pay for his unholy experiments!

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Blood lineThe Warlock!

The titan of no budget fright, The Warlock is next! I met The Warlock thanks to Chris Seaver and came to respect him for his love for low budget cinema. The Warlock, for those of you who don’t know, is the spokesghoul for Warlock Home Video, a company that puts out shot-on-video films on both DVD and VHS. I have even had the honor of being interviewed by The Warlock about making Werewolf of Ohio and The Sadness! Now be warned, The Warlock lives and grew up on the darkside so his picks are a little more sinister than most! So here is a few words from the man and then let’s take a look at this cool ghoul’s top 5.

Greetings Horror Fiends, The Warlock here from Warlock Home Video. While resting in my crypt, I came to contemplate why so many amazing things in this world have not been turned into ghoulish comics. Here is the Warlocks Top 5 list of things that should have been comic books:

#5

henry portrait of a serial killer logo

Who wouldn’t want to read about the comic misadventures of one of the most beloved psychos of all time?

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#4

Night of the creeps logo

Invading naked aliens dropping weird space slugs on to earth, creating zombies out of college kids+Atkins= MAGIC!

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#3

Monster Sqaud 1

Our hero’s come back to try and take over the world from those pesky kids that get in the way.

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#2

Night of the demons logo

Angela throwing more parties from hell would be a charming bedtime read for any young goblin.

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#1

Warlock logo

The Warlock! There has yet to be a comic of the most feared and revered member of the occult. I would be a perfect fit for the pages of a devilish comic. Eat your heart out, Archie. I am coming for you!!!!!!!!

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Mike Ritchie

Mike Ritchie is a legend and is one of my only friends that when you speak of him we all use his full name. I met Mike Ritchie some years back when I was a teenager and he worked at Blockbuster Video.  Later I also became an employee, and we worked the same store for a short amount of time.  We became friends over the fact we both love old school pro wrestling and horror films. Mike Ritchie has also done a few acting bits for such films as Wolf Hunter 2, The Sadness and Farmer Joe, a film he also wrote and directed. Nowadays, Mike Ritchie writes concert reviews for Dayton Most Metro and a few other news websites.  He also works a factory job and looks a lot like The Son of Hercules from the horror host show Terrifying Tales of The Macabre. Mike Ritchie is a good and loyal friend and has picked a few odd choices and some modern ones, but no one tells Mike Ritchie about rules! So with that let’s look at his top 5 picks. 

#5

The Ring Logo

The Ring with a Grudge tie in-two rare movies that creeped me out, maybe have characters encounter each other and have a final battle ala Freddy vs Jason. The video could be watched in the grudge house to start things off.

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#4

Alcatraz logo

I was really disappointed when this got cancelled leaving lots of unanswered questions. I don’t know if they had already written out the reason the prisoners were coming back without aging or not but I’d read them if the series continued.

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#3

F13TH SERIES LOGO

Some people hated this show (which had nothing to do with the movies) but I really liked it and thought it was cool and spooky. Each issue would be based on an episode and they could continue where the series stopped. As a wink wink joke the comics themselves could be put into a vault.

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#2

Dexter logo

Two potential versions 1.Satisfying his dark passenger Dexter travels through time stalking and killing histories most infamous mass murders and serial killers either before, after or during their storied kills. 2. Dexter imprisoned for life trying to avoid being shanked, having no choice but to control the urge as well as he can, must resort to imagining/dreaming his kills, spending time in the library reading about histories greatest serial killers. He could get so obsessed he starts imaging prisoners as these killers or use the code to figure out which inmate deserves to die the most.

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#1

The Boogie Man logo

The Boogie Man-WWE-he wasn’t a great wrestler but I liked his makeup, entrance and character. He’d make a great comic guy, good or bad. The worms could be the symbolic swallowing of souls if he was a bad guy.

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Count Gregula

Next up is Chicago area Horror Host Count Gregula, who besides the hometown hosts like A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Dr. Freak and Dr. Creep welcomed Baron Von Porkchop and myself into the horror host family with open arms and blood soaked fangs. Count Gregula began his show “Count Gregula’s Crypt” in 2005 and continues to film episodes from time to time. Gregula is a huge fan of all things Grandpa Munster, Svengoolie and cheesy horror films.  He lives and stalks the streets of Illinois and is an all around cool undead blood sucking ghoul! One fun time I had with him was when at a Horrorhound Weekend Baron Von Porkchop, Viola Poison, Susie The DJ and myself had dinner at a small diner with Count Gregula, and the looks he got for his full-on vampire appearance were the stuff of vampire folklore. So with that, let’s get to this vampire horror host’s top 5 picks!

#5

Rockfire logo

Loved them back in Da Day! These characters from my favorite animatronic band of the 1980s could have individual lives in the comics along vith a background story of how they met to form their famous band!

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#4

Inspector Gadget logo

I loved this cartoon as a little vamp! Read the comic adventures of Inspector Gadget panel by panel and see in living color all his gadgets go crazy in the process!

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#3

The Monkees logo

The 4 band members of this show are comics so for them to be made into a comic is just the next step. The comic can even be more of a lampoon than the show and maybe include an actual monkey in the mix!

 Note From Matt: Publisher DELL had a 17 issue run of The Monkees in 1967.

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#2

son Svengoolie

He is a perfect living character to make a comic because he defends the earth vith his ever present rubber chicken by his side. FYI, Alex Ross actually did put Sven in the Justice League graphic novel JLA: Liberty and Justice.

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#1

Munsters Logog

Comic Munsters vould be right up my dark alley! The misadventures on my favorite Family of Fright in print!

 Note From Matt: Publisher Gold Key had a 16 issue run of The Munsters in 1965 and in 1997 TV COMICS! had a 4 issue run.

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Todd The Fox

Todd The Fox is a great friend who happens to also be one of my favorite local musicians! I met Todd via my friend Henrique Couto, and this led to a friendship that has had us working on a number of projects that include concerts like The Baron’s Ball and A. Ghastlee Night at Gilly’s, both at Gilly’s Jazz Club in Dayton as well as in-store shows at Game Swap in Kettering. Todd has also acted in and been interviewed on Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. Todd is a man of a thousand talents as he is also a Civil War re-enactor and hosts open mic nights at a local bar. Even though he is a busy man, he always makes time for his friends and that’s why I say Todd The Fox is one hip cool cat to have as a friend! So let’s take a look at his top 5 picks.

#5

Encyclopedia Brown logo

A series of children’s books based on the adventures of Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown were released beginning in the 1960s. Brown is a boy detective Leroy Brown known for his intelligence and knowledge of many wide-ranging topics. This allows him to open a neighborhood detective agency and solve crimes for “25 cents per day, plus expenses – No case too small.” He is aided by partner and bodyguard Sally Kimball.

The mysteries range from finding lost items, helping other children outsmart bullies and con men, and even helping his father (the police chief of Idaville) solve crimes while at the dinner table. The books usually had ten or more mysteries divided into chapters. The stories always contained enough clues to allow the reader to solve the puzzle the same way Encyclopedia would. A graphic novel series could introduce a whole new level of sleuthing by adding visual cues to the various crimes.

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#4

Time Lord logo

Released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990, “Time Lord” was a side scrolling action game. Set in the year 2999 Earth has been attacked by an alien race called the Drakkons. They have sent their armies to various historical time periods and you, the Time Lord, must travel back and defeat them using weapons of the time; also you must collect five power orbs to return to the future and defeat the Drakkon leader. Since the game features 4 different times in human history it would make a great four-part mini-series comic book.

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#3

Native American legends logo

I always thought it would be interesting to follow the legends of various tribes and nations of Native Americans. If this was turned into a comic series we could use the artwork to tell the story. Powerful, vivid images with no dialogue would lend a certain sense of timelessness and power to the stories while allowing a stylistic interpretation.

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#2

Q logo

How cool would it be to see a comic that follows the early career of the man who creates all the gadgets that allows Comdr. Bond to survive and overcome the most extreme situations. The genius with the code name Quartermaster (or Q for short) heads up Q Division, but we never really knew much about his past. How cool would it be to have a graphic novel to flesh out his history?

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#1

Blind Willie Johnson logo

An interesting comic could be made from the details, stories, and tales surrounding legendary bluesman Blind Willie Johnson. Blinded by his mother at age 7 during an argument, Johnson went on to pioneer a style of music that influenced the blues, folk, and even rock ‘n roll. Artists such as Son House, Led Zeppelin, The White Stripes, Depeche Mode, and many others have covered his songs.

Although very influential Blind Willie remained poor his entire life. After his home burned down he had no place to go. He eventually died from a fever contracted by sleeping in what was left of his bedroom.

The story could even take a sci-fi turn since Blind Willie’s song “Dark was the Night” was included on the Voyager Golden Records, which were mounted on both of the Voyager I and II spacecraft. Currently they are just outside of our Solar System. That means his music is part of the farthest man-made object ever sent into space.

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Brett Prescott

Brett Prescott aka Felix Wussington is a fellow Waynesville townie who happens to also now live on the street I grew up on! Brett as Felix plays punk rock horror pop and travels around spreading his music. Brett is a shopper at Game Swap and that’s how I met him because he has a love for classic gaming and loves himself some NES game carts…in the box complete. Brett also loves cartoon character Felix The Cat and works more hours at his job than any other human I know! So let’s take a quick look at his Top 5!

#5-1

Rick Logo

There were an unlimited amount of things that I got myself into as a child, and if I had to sum it up to 5 things for some reason…… I’d probably have to start with the few things that I did every week.  Which was dig holes, play 8 bit Nintendo, watch a lot of media, take things apart, and drink a lot of soda.

 So, let’s say someone had asked me how I would have combined these amazingly fun things into one entity. Now to start, obviously, I’d have to figure up a character, that was all these things.

 So I know this guy named Rick that in his day to day life, you know, his 9-5 life. Rick is a grave digger, and in his spare time loves to fix old electronics and other types of manly things. All of his friends and family always call him when stuff doesn’t work. And, being such a swell guy, always comes through on fixing anything that’s broken. Lucky enough for everyone else, Rick never asks for anything in return.. because he loves doing it in the first place. People always ask him why he doesn’t just get out in the world and fix things for a living, you know… get out there and be a handyman! Well.. Rick is addicted to digging up the earth, and he found his profession already.

Now Rick himself hates coffee.. But he has an amazing need for different types of cola. You could say he is a Cola Savant. He loves them all, but goes to ridiculous lengths to import home brews and oddities from around the world. If it comes in a bottle or can, has a high sugar and caffeine count.. Rick is in. You might say.. without it.. Rick can get a bit on the “Hyde” side of life.

 But! What Rick doesn’t know, is that he also has the power of none other than Gumby Himself. And I know you are all thinking.. oh he is rubbery and claylike. WRONG! Rick will soon find out that he can travel into any sort of multimedia and live out the experience of a new character in the world.

So what worlds will this grave digging, cola-holic, media junkie get into?

 EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE.

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Wow, is your mind in overload with all these ideas and missed opportunities from comic companies to cash in on what the youth of each generation would have loved to read ongoing issues about? I noticed that many of my friends and family picked Garbage Pail Kids and a few picked M.u.s.c.l.e, Metroid and Universal Monsters, making them the winners when it comes to impacting a childhood. I Also noticed that only one of my friends picked a same choice as me when Count Gregula selected The Rock-A-Fire Explosion, and while the same pick, we had different ideas on what the comic would have been about. I want to thank all my friends who took time to send me top 5 lists and would like to hear from you the readers: whose Top 5’s did you like and which ones mirrored your youth? Our next update we will be taking a look at Star Comics Defenders of The Universe! Until then. pick up a comic or two and enjoy whatever adventure awaits inside.

Defenders of the earth logo

Top 10 Should Have Beens In The Star Comics World

Welcome back to my blog, and thank you for reading my trip down memory lane mixed with pulp culture and things that still fascinate me to this day. Last blog I mentioned that Marvel pulled the plug on Star Comics after only a four year run, and I then mentioned that during that time they missed lots of great stuff that could have made some some great comic adventures.  What if they were still around to this day; what great stuff might have come from this?  After thinking about this, I decided that this blog entry will be my top 10 properties that should have been turned into a Star Comic.  Then Part 2 will show some friends and family’s top 5 picks, so sit back and enjoy!

#10 

Adams Family Logo

They are spooky, kooky and an all around fun time for the young and young at heart.  This off the wall family have been around for many years and have been in every kind of media from comic strip, TV, movies, games and books.  In 1938, Charles Addams created The Addams Family (Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Puggsly, Fester, Gramama, Lurch & Thing), and the comic strip was published in the New York Times and was a popular read for the masses. In 1964 ABC aired The Addams Family in which live actors like John Astin, Coralyn Jones, Ted Cassidy and other actors played the parts of the family. The series ran until 1966 and had good solid ratings. Then in 1973, Hanna Barbara made an animated series that ran for a year and featured silly adventures of the family done in the style of Scooby-Doo.

the_addams_family_1964-showAddamsFamilyAnimatedDVDAddams-Family-cartoon

In 1977, a new live action special was made called “Halloween with the New Addams Family,” and while John Astin and most of the original cast returned to play the characters they did many years before, the magic seemed to be gone and the special was only so-so. In 1992 they tried an animated series again that only lasted one year, “The Addams Family: Animated Series.”  This series also inspired some action figures from Playmates. The kooky family’s next major break was the 1998 film starring Raul Julia, Angelica Houston, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd.  The film was a hit and made The Addams Family a household name once again. The film sparked two sequels, video games, novels, pinball game and lots more merchandise. While many other small Addams Family specials and such were made, the two most impactful were the 1964 ABC show and the 1998 Paramount film, but the 1992 cartoon series also holds a special place in my heart.

halloween-with-the-new-addams-family2The_Addams_family_cartoon 90sMovie Poster

Now let’s talk the merchandise for a moment to show the popularity of the Addams Family.  Many amazing products were made including a fun kiddie board game from Milton Bradley based on the 1973 Cartoon.  In 1965, Ted Cassidy made a song and dance craze called The Lurch.  The amazing NES Video Game System had several games including the very hard “Festers Quest”, and even a breakfast cereal was made to go along with the 1998 movie. All this was in addition to toys from Playmates, and many more fun and silly products. I used to eat the cereal and was always happy to get a box because they used to give away free mini flashlights as a prize! I still have my Lurch and Fester flashlights to this day. I also spent many hours along side my brother Bryan and friend Mike Cessna playing Festers Quest and never beating it. As for the Play Mates toys based on the 1992 Cartoon, the only one I ever owned was Lurch and he came with a old pair of sheers.  It was a cool toy for the time.

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But before I go into why Star Comics should have created a comic based on The Addams Family, I do need to touch up on the fact that a mini series was made by Gold Key Comics based on the 1973 cartoons. The 3 issue run came out in 1974, the year the toon was canceled, and featured silly very kid friendly stories. As always the people at Whitman comics always republished what Gold Key had released the same year. I’m not sure why the comics only lasted three issues, but it might have had to do with the fact the cartoon was canceled within a year, leading me into my pitch of what Star could have done.

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If Star Comics were around in 1992, the issues would be based on the cartoon and would follow the family doing all types of silly stuff from going to the beach to having normal yet odd holidays such as Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. While the main stories would follow Wednesday and Puggsley to gain the kid crowd, it could also follow Lurch and make the silent and hulking butler a main focus.  As an example, he goes to camp with the Addams kids, and they get lost in the spooky woods,  While other kids are scared, The Addams kids and Lurch are having a blast. The rest of the family would be shown and highlighted as well. Say what you want about the Addams Family, but they are nice spooky kid-friendly characters that would been pleasing in a comic series from Star. I am guessing if this comic would have been made it would have run for at least 3-4 issues before the plug was pulled like so many before it, but I guarantee that those issues would have been a fun time for those who enjoyed the cartoon.

#9 

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Hey Dude was a popular live action show on Nickelodeon in 1989 that followed workers at a dude ranch called the Bar None owned by a city slicker named Mr. Ernst and his young son Buddy. Workers included Ted, a smooth talking ladies man and Danny, a local Native American.  They were joined by blonde cutie Melody and rich horse trainer Brad.  All the staff are in their teens and are joined by Lucy who is the overseer of the workers and is in her late 30’s/early 40’s. The show revolved around the Ranch, and the silly wars the boys and the girls would get into over petty things.  The show also built up sexual tension between Brad and Ted adding some teen drama to the mix. In my youth this was one of my favorite shows and was one of the best live action shows of the time on Nick. It also sparked my second major celebrity crush as I had the hots for Kelly Brown who played Brad.  I also found Christine Taylor really hot!   But my first major crush (that I still have to this day) is Danielle Harris, but that’s for another entry.

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Hey Dude ran for five seasons and was canceled in 1991.  During that time, the Ted character came and went and Jake was introduced who was Mr. Ernst’s nephew from L.A. who was also kind of after Brad.  The show was a staple of my youth, and I can’t count the times I watched the same episodes over and over, having a blast doing so. I was so bummed when the show went off the air and was shocked by the little merchandise the series got. To this day besides the DVD season releases by Shout Factory, the only item I can think of was a novel called “Hey Dude: Show Down at the Bar None”.

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Besides the stunning Brad, one of my favorite characters from the show was Danny Lightfoot, a Hopi Indian who was not only wise but also a total goofball who loved to fuel the fire of Ted’s numbskull ideas and bets. But during many episodes Danny would always explain that his people were the ones who created a custom or food item, and this sparked my brother to always walk around and make fun of the character by asking if “Danny and his people created that.”  It was all in good fun, and just the other day on the phone he even referenced it again! I am sure that one of the reasons I really liked the character is because both my Grandfather and Grandmother are part Native American, as were my great-grandparents and so on before them.

Danny

If Star Comics was still active in 1989, they could have reached out to a teen audience and did some issues about the Bar None Ranch and its workers. The comics could have followed Ted and Danny (and maybe Jake depending on when the comic was made) as they got into trouble and adventures in and around the ranch. It could also have built up the flirting of Ted and Brad giving female readers some romance to keep them interested as well. Another fun aspect that they could have played up on in comics would be cowboy ghosts and Native American spirits and beliefs, giving it a little more action and adventure. But with this show airing a year after Star was shut down, we’ll never get to know if this show would have gotten the Star treatment. I will say in closing that it’s about damn time this show saw a DVD release, so a big thanks goes out to Shout Factory. And my guess it would have lasted at least 4-5 issues.

#8

Tales From Cryptkeeper

In 1950, EC Comics was making horror comics called “Tales from the Crypt,” “The Vault of Horror” and “The Haunt of Fear.”  Each issue was hosted by a grim yet tongue in cheek host such as The Crypt Keeper, The Vault Keeper or The Old Witch. The comics were filled with ghouls, blood and grim stories and were crowd pleasers to young readers. But much like many things over the years, parents hit the roof when they found that their children had been reading comics about murder, death and ghouls. So like any good crazed, tightly-wound parent would do, they protested the company and the comics and had a massive bonfire in which hundreds of copies of the classic comic were burned making original copies highly collectible.  EC also sparked the comic code, that tried to ban comics that found unsuitable for children and eventually causing the demise of EC in 1955 after dipping sales and the overly huge backlash of parents, teachers and the comic code.

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But the Crypt Keeper came out of the ashes in 1972 when a live action movie starring horror legend Peter Cushing was made, taking many of the comics’ old stories and adapting them to film.  The film’s plot had a group of strangers who were on a tour and get lost and end up in a tomb like area where the Crypt Keeper tells them strange and brutal stories with each person as the lead.  Of course, this all has a twist ending. In 1973 a sequel was made called The Vault of Horror, and it followed the same formula as the first but this time the guests are trapped in an office building. In 1989, HBO made a hit TV series out of the comic that ran for 7 seasons and had the Crypt Keeper acting almost as a horror host, introducing each episode with a touch of comedy and skits. With the HBO series came films based on the show like Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood and Ritual, making this the most popular version of the comic to come alive. In 1993, a Saturday morning cartoon was made for ABC called Tales from The Crypt Keeper that featured kid-friendly horror stories hosted by an overly silly Crypt Keeper who still had a mean streak. In season two, the Keeper also found himself at war with old rivals the Old Witch and Vault Keeper, and this was the formula for that whole season. After season two ABC pulled the plug on the series, but it was only gone a short time as NBC picked up a third season in 1997 and changed the format and animation.  This only lated one season.

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Both the live action HBO show, and the cartoon sparked merchandise for kids and collectors.  There was a pinball machine, talking dolls, action figures, shirts, Halloween masks and decorations and of course reprints of the old comic. My brother had one of the talking dolls, dressed in a tux who said a few hammy lines from the HBO show, and he of course got the reprint comics. I didn’t get any merch until many years later and own a few of the toys based on the animated series and also own a Halloween mask of the Crypt Keeper. Like all merchandise, these things helped keep the Crypt Keeper in the minds of the masses.

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So again in order for Star Comics to make issues based on the 1993 cartoon, they would have had to hang on and been given a better chance by Marvel. But this would have been a no brainer and would have just followed the formula of the cartoon and the original comic series and could have had The Crypt Keeper telling cheesy kid friendly stories that all ended with a lesson learned, never really pushing the envelope to cross the line into making them too gruesome. I know as a kid I would have eaten this up.  I grew up watching horror films and horror hosts, and this would have been a series that I would have bought like clock work. The animated version of the Crypt Keeper was green in color, and his attitude seemed to be that he was your friend telling you a spooky story to have fun alongside you.  This would had transferred perfectly to comic. It’s a shame that Tales From The Crypt Keeper never did get a comic, and Star would have been the perfect company to do so.

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On a side note, back in the days of Waynesville I owned one of those mini black and white portable TV’s, and FOX got the rights to rerun the HBO series.  So I would turn off all the lights in my room and shut the door and would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and then Tales From The Crypt. It was a fun time at night that allowed me to see the show.  I am sure many of you readers remember this showing and have fun memories of watching. Oh yeah, and if Star were to have done comics for Tales from the CryptKeeper, I would have guessed a 5 issue run.

#7 

Conan Adventure Logo

In 1932 Robert E. Howard created Conan The Barbarian and wrote his adventures for Weird Tales Magazine, and the character became a hit with the fantasy world. In 1950 his stories started to be turned into paperback novels and were taken not only from Howard’s writings but also other authors who wrote of his journeys. In 1970 Marvel Comics began the comic series “Conan The Barbarian” that spawned spin offs like Red Sonja, Kull and King Conan. The main series ran for 275 issues and stopped being made in 1993. For many years no comics came out based on the raven haired brute, then in 2003 Dark Horse Comics picked up the licenses and Conan is still coming out as of 2013. This is only the literature part of Conan’s vast history, and this is only a quick sampling.  This part could have gone on and on!

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Conan was such a hit that for years many other merchandise came out including video games, t-shirts, board game, toys and statues, all these making fans of Conan very happy. Some of the most popular ones are the Remco 5 ½” action figures that were just generic Masters of the Universe cash-in’s that came out in 1984.  To this day, they fetch lots of money on Ebay and toy conventions.  Of course the video games that have been made for systems such as Commodore 64, PC, NES, PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360. While none of the games did well critically, I found the PS3 game to be very fun and the NES game, while crappy, is still a fun goofy play. It’s a shame that the PS3/Xbox 360 game did not sell well because this caused THQ not to give it a sequel.

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Now for Conan in film and TV, a fun journey for all! In 1982, a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was released.  The film was a blood bath that had Conan going after Tulsa Doom, the leader of Set worshipers who was responsible for his parents’ death and him being sold into slavery. The film follows Conan as he grows up and gets revenge. The film is amazing and is in my top 10 films for sure.  In 1984, a sequel was made called Conan the Destroyer, and sadly this film took a PG-13 route and took out all the over the top blood shed of the original and tried to make it more kid-friendly and has Conan trying to protect a young princess from a wizard.  While not called by name, Schwarzenegger once again played a Conan-like character in the 1985 film Red Sonja. In 1992 Conan The Adventurer,the animated adventures aired, early mornings and followed Conan and his friends as they try and stop the evil Wrath-Amon who was the priest of Set who needs the star metal to be free once more.  It lasted 65 episodes and also spawned a second animated series that flopped called Conan and the Young Warriors that only lasted 13 episodes. Then with the success of Hercules and the Legendary Journeys TV producers thought why not try a show that’s hammy and base it around Conan, and thats what happened in 1997 with a show simply called Conan.  German bodybuilder Ralf Moller played the title role, and the show followed him and his friends’ adventures through 22 episodes. Finally in 2011, the Conan movie franchise got rebooted with Jason Momoa as the Barbarian. Although some were not as good as others, Conan has had a good run in film and TV.  The TV shows and the 2011 film were not well received, but still gave fans something new for the iconic character. In my younger days, I spent many hours watching the 1992 cartoon and watched the original 1982 more then any kid my age should have. 

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The 1992 cartoon is our focus and would be the best bet for Star to base a comic series around.  But before we get into that, let’s talk the terrible toy line that went alongside the cartoon. These things were large clunky pieces of plastic with terrible sculpts and bad paint jobs! I felt that way now and I felt that way then. I was and will always be a Conan fan and when the cartoon and toys came out, I was super hyped to see both. The cartoon lived up to my expectations and was a fun adventure cartoon, while the toys just sucked.  I only bought one, the Skeleton warrior Skulkur, and man what a disappointment.  From the moment I took it out of the package, I knew I was in trouble as the figure was stiff and had this terrible spin around action. No one else I knew in school had one of these figures making this one a school yard dud. To this day I do not have any of these figures laying around Independent B Movie studios (the place all my old toys are) nor will I ever get one of these abominations again. Oh yeah and the main Conan figure looks like a generic toy you would find on the shelves of Odd Lots/Big Lots.  In fact, I remember when these toys did flood those shelves.

Conan ToyHorse ToySkulkur Toy

Much like Tales From The Crypt Keeper, this would be a no brainer run of comics.  The fact that Marvel was all ready putting out comics based on the Barbarian would have made this one an easy sale. The comic would have followed the same formula as the cartoon and would have Conan and his friends fighting bad guys like Skulkur and Wrath-Amon and trying to find hidden treasures, protect the star metal and such. Plus they could have used Needle, his Phoenixx sidekick more and made him just like Snarf in Thundercats or even Orko in Masters of the Universe.  Many more of the side characters like African Warrior Zula and Jezmine the female circus performer could also be showcased, and the characters could be fleshed out and given time to really shine . While the main Marvel book was geared towards teens and adults, this series could have captured the younger crowed. The issues could also have an underlying meaning like don’t steal or be nice to others and do it so slyly that the readers wouldn’t pick up on the fact they have just been taught a lesson in manners. I could see this series running 10 issues for Star before they pulled the plug on the series.  I think this one would have had a little life even after the cartoon was canceled.

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#6 rockafire explosion logoIn 1980 a pizza chain was born that was the rival to McDonalds in getting kids hyped up to go out to eat.  That place was Showbiz Pizza Palace. The restaurant had many gimmicks that were used to bring kids in such as arcade machines, ticket prizes, toys, and most famous was the animatronic band The Rock-A-Fire Explosion who would bring young and old there to see them perform. Showbiz became so big that they started to buy other pizza chains that were going under including Chuck E. Cheese. But the fun times came to an end in 1990, as Showbiz had some major changes in its business including a rebranding campaign.  This led to The Rock-A-Fire Explosion getting the boot and Chuck E. Cheese becoming the star of the show. While Showbiz and The Rock-A-Fire are gone they are not forgotten. I have many fond memories of Showbiz and going to birthday parties there and watching The Rock-A-Fire show and only somewhat liking the pizza.  I have never been a pizza fan, and I remember thinking that the pizza was mediocre at best. My younger cousin Steve, who I now work on many movies and TV shows with, was scared to death of the band and I think Fatz Geronimo was the one that terrified him the most.

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The Rock-A-Fire Explosion had many members that included Billy-Bob, a hillbilly bear with a great heart and who played bass guitar for the group.  He is the most popular of the members and was the pizza chains mascot.  Fatz Geronimo was a gorilla who sang and played piano for the group; at one time he was to be the main man of the group.  Beach Bear plays guitar and sings and is a surfing polar bear.  Looney Bird lives in an oil can and offers vocals.  Mitzi Mozzarella is a teenage mouse wearing a cheerleader outfit and sings.  Dook LaRue is a dog who wants to go to space and plays drums.  Lastly while not part of the band but acting as a warm up act was Rolfe deWolfe & Earl, a stand up comic wolf and his puppet. The band was huge and drew many people to the restaurant. While the stage show was animatronic, at times a man in a costume would walk around as Billy Bob and greet the guests in the arcade area. To this day people who grew up in the 80’s and have been to Showbiz Pizza have a special place in their hearts for The Rock-A-Fire.

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The company made lots of merchandise based on the band in order to make that extra dollar off the guests that included glasses, mugs, vinyl records, dolls, small toys, posters and so much more. In 2008 a documentary about the band was also made and showed just how in love people still are with the band and the idea of Showbiz Pizza. All the classic vintage items are huge collectors’ items and go for high prices on Ebay and conventions. In 2011, I was lucky enough to find a classic mini Fatz figure for only a $1.00!

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If Star Comics would have jumped on this popular kids attraction, they could have had a fun and silly comic on their hands and could have got major push by selling the comic at the pizza place.  Showbiz could have used the comic as a tool to try and draw more guests in. The concept of the comic could have followed that band as they toured the world and got into many off the wall adventures, I mean could you imagine Billy Bob in Japan or Russia?  Chuck E. Cheese also would be used and could have been written in as the bands manager giving that hat wearing rodent a push as well. Plus with all the band members all with different personalities, they could have had many funny moments just with the in-band fighting. But for some reason Star Comics just must not have seen how easy this comic would have been to make and how kids at the time would have eaten it up. Given Stars track record I would guess that this would have lasted 3 to 4 issues if it was made and would not have had a clear cut last issue. Here is to someone who I hope some day will make the comic based on these amazing characters that meant so much to so many kids of the time.

Billy Bob on The BeachChuck E CheeseMits

#5

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In 1983, Tonka Toys brought out a line of changing robot toys called The GoBots.  The toys were simple and would change from robot to some sort a vehicle and were geared towards younger kids. At first, the toys sold really well and seemed to be building up steam even without the backing of a cartoon or comic to push it. But this ride at the top of changing robots came to a quick end when in 1984 Hasbro released The Transformers toy line in the United States. Fans flipped for Transformers and loved characters like Optimus Prime, Jazz and Bumblebee as well as the superior designs and tranforming abilities of the new figures. Gobots tried to fight back and in 1984; an animated TV mini series made by Hanna Barbera was released to compete with the Transformer cartoon called Challenge of the GoBots. While the cartoon did not do as well as its competitor, it did get full seasons starting in 1985 and ran for 65 episodes. In 1986 a theatrical film was made called GoBots: Battle of the Rock Lords and released 3 months before Transformers The Movie.  The GoBots film was a flop and performed poorly at the box office and with critics. The toy line came to an end in 1987, ending the legacy for a short amount of time, until Hasbro bought the rights from Tonka and turned them into toys for kids under 5.

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Many people seemed to think that the GoBots toy line was the K-Mart version of the Transformers, and most think that they just followed the trend, but this is not the case.  While the toys were very cheaply done, they were still out a whole year before Transformers. The main bad downside to the toys was the fact that the joints would become super loose and your figure would lose an arm here and there.  I cannot count how many Cy-Kill toys I had that one of the arms would fall off. One of the other terrible aspects of the toys was the fact that most of their transforms were terrible and would be just a bend here or there, making them seem like bulky silly robots. Growing up I had many GoBots and used them when I played with Star Wars as other robots that would join in on battles or be at Jabba’s Palace. I think my two favorites in the toy line are the most popular characters, Cy-Kill and Leader One.  While they were nothing special, I found them to be pretty bad ass toys at a cheap price. I still find loose GoBots at Mavericks Cards and Comics and get a chuckle at seeing them.

Leader one ToyCy Kill ToyScooter Toy

Besides the toys, cartoons and movie, many other merchandise was made based on the series that included a game for the Commodore 64, lunch boxes, Halloween costumes, magazines, coloring books, stickers and many more items. It’s odd that this property never did get a comic run from either Marvel or DC. It’s also odd much like the back lash of the toys many of the other items made based on the characters have negative vibes around them.  The Commodore 64 game is always ripped apart and is considered a turkey of a game.

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This is yet another easy one to make into a Star Comic and would have fit in with the rest of the properties that they all ready put out. Marvel Comics was already making Transformer comics for the older teen reader, and GoBots would have been a perfect way to get younger readers drawn into Marvel and to maybe push them towards books that were only a few years away. The plot of the comic would be the same as the cartoon and would have had Leader One and the good guys battling Cy-Kill and the evil robots. It could be a pretty cookie cutter format and could have relied on mindless robot battles with normal recycled plots. I know it’s sounding like I am saying that Star should have made a half ass comic series, but that’s not what I am really meaning at all. All I am saying is that this could have been a fun cheesy comic that was geared towards young readers.  I am sure I would have eaten it up even with tame and generic story lines, as would many other kids of that time. I think this would have lasted for about 12 issues if Star was to put it out and would have gotten a clear cut last issue. It’s a sad world we live in when Leader One never made it to a comic book in his prime.  What makes it worse is the ad below for the cartoon that is drawn in your typical Star art style, making me wonder if something was in the works and fell through when the film bombed and the toy line was on a decline making Star cancel the deal.  I guess we will never really know.

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#4

mad scientist logoWhen you were a kid in the 1980’s, lots of things came out that were related to horror and monsters.  In 1987 Mattel released a toy line that claimed to be Too Gross! Mad Scientist allowed you to be your own Dr. Frankenstein or even a Egor, if you owned a bendable Mad Scientist figure, and would allow you to create, dissect and melt your own creations. The line of toys also had dress up kits to become a crazy doctor yourself. In 1988 as well a very short lived animated cartoon was made that lasted two episodes called “Mad Scientist: Experiment of Error” and was only released on VHS. Weirdly as fast as it came, the Mad Scientist toy line disappeared in less than two years, making it one of those toy lines that made you wonder what just happened.  Many blame the NES for the death of this toy line that seemed to be gaining more attention than action figures.  Some also blamed the price of the playsets claiming that they were too expensive for parents to get for their kids.  All I can say is that it was a fun toy line that had some amazing animated/ live action commercials.

Monster Lab

My first introduction to this toy line was of course the commercials that aired during Saturday Morning Cartoons.  While they got my attention, I was not so hip to the whole chemistry set aspect of the toy line making me at first blow the whole line off as just another silly creepy toy. But then one day at school someone had a few of the figures on the playground.  They had Dissect an Alien where you removed the guts of a monster alien with slime in his belly and a bendable Mad Scientist figure.  I played with them both and really found the toys neat and offered to trade to get the Scientist figure.  To my shock, he did not want to trade but instead sold the figure to me for a dollar! This made my day and for weeks at home I would do odd little science experiments alongside my new figure. Next at KB Toys, a now dead toy store that was in the Dayton Mall, I found gummi bear style molds of creatures from the lab of the Mad Scientist and bought those and made plaster molds from them and spent time painting them to give to my Mom. Sadly I never owned any of the major play sets, but what little I did have from the toy line I enjoyed a lot.

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I know what you’re all thinking why, did he pick a toy line that for all accounts failed,  had a cartoon that never even made it to TV, as his # 4.  Let me tell you why. I think that one of the big reasons this toy line failed is the lack of real push from Mattel.  I think they lost interest in it fast and never fully saw the potential in its appeal. If Star Comics would have made this into a comic, I think that it would have kept the line a little fresh in kids’ eyes and might have made it last a little longer. The comic could have followed The Mad Scientist and let’s say a every day normal boy who helps him in all his wacky experiments that of course go wrong! You could have issues where monsters escape and they must round them up, a potion that makes The Mad Scientist normal and his young friend must find a way to return him to his crazy self and many more plots like that. Not to mention think of all the monsters you could add.  As far as bad guys, you could have the town mayor be the one who wants to lock up the Mad Scientist and throw away the key. But sadly Star Comics was all ready on the verge of closing up, and this series never did make it to the light or I should say was never even considered. If this was a Star Comic though, I could almost guarantee that much like its shelf life on toy shelves, its comic stand life would also be short.  I see it only lasting for about 4 issues. It’s a shame this never happened I would have loved to read the adventures of a lunatic Mad Scientist!

mad scientistmattel logoMad Alien

#3 

commander usas groovie movies LogoI have always been a fan of Horror Hosts, being young and watching scary films alongside them always seemed to make the film less scary and you felt protected by the hosts’ silly antics. Saturdays were always a fun day for me.  I would spend the mornings watching cartoons and eating cereal.  Every other week we would go shopping at Big Bear & Hearts, and then we would get home in time to watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies on the USA Network! After the Groovie Movie was over, I would go to my room and play with toys or go out side and play ball tag (where we would play tag with a soccer ball that we would throw at others in the game) or even possibly record my own radio show via a tape deck and then at night it was time for USA’s Saturday Nightmares! Commander USA was a retired super hero that rented space under a shopping mall in New Jersey and would host a movie or two and would have some sort of crazy thing going on in his Video Vault. He was joined by his best friend and sidekick Lefty who was really just Commander’s right hand with a cigar ash smiley face drawn on. The show started in 1985 and ran until 1989, switching from Saturday to Sundays and was a staple of my youth. The thing about Commander USA, who was played by a great stage actor Jim Hendricks, was that during the movie you felt as if he really was watching the film along side you.  That’s something a really good host can do, is make you think he or she is watching whatever turkey they are showing this week. It’s odd looking back over my life and seeing just how many horror hosts motivated me to be the creative person I am today, hosts like the late great Dr. Creep, my “Dad” A. Ghastlee Ghoul, Joe Bob Briggs, Grandpa Munster, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, Son of Ghoul, Sammy Terry and many more.  So to all of you hosts out there, thank you for doing what you do and inspiring people like me with your antics.

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Commander USA had very little merchandise, but what he did have was pretty cool as you could join his fan club that came complete with a membership card.  Also an official fanzine was made called ” Commander USA’s World of Horror”. Over the years his show has shown up on sites that offer his show on DVD-R’s and are worth getting if you want a nice flashback to a great era of the USA Network. Also Jim Hendricks is talked to in an amazing documentary about horror hosts called American Scary.  If you like horror hosts, this is a must-see.

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A comic book based on the adventures of Commander USA still needs to happen! Star Comics could have drawn in the horror kid crowd like myself by making issues about the Commander’s super hero ways in and out of the Video Vault! This comic series could have been played two ways, and both would have been good,  One could have followed him as he is retired and is forced back into action to save the day, like to find a purse snatcher that has been running wild in the mall above the Video Vault, or say stop an ice cream monster that has been made by a mad doctor who was mad when a store ran out of his wanted pair of gym shoes.  The second route they could have taken was to follow the Commander in his prime and to show him doing amazing feats like fighting super villains or going up against famous monsters like Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster. This comic would have made me so happy and would be a series that I would have bought every issue back then and even to this day.  But if I know Star Comics like I think I do, I would say that if they did take a chance and make this comic, it would run 3-4 issues before they got cold feet and ended it. That’s one thing I will say, more horror hosts need comic books based around them.  At this time the only ones I can think of that have their own is Indiana’s icon Sammy Terry, Elvira and one about Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Theater . I think that a Baron Von Porkchop Comic will be coming your way soon, and I hope that these four books will trigger more comics about Hosts. With that to quote Commander, “Keep your nose in the wind… and your tail to yourself…”

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#2 

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In 1986 a plush doll that was aimed toward boys was released by American Greetings.  This doll was named My Pet Monster and was a blue furred, devil horned, sharp teeth, big nosed creature who was bound by bright orange handcuffs, and if those handcuffs came off he was said to come alive. The toy was one of very few plush dolls that was geared toward boys and to many people’s, surprise it was a huge success! The doll was so popular that many more were made in the line that included such beasts as Gwonk, Rark and Wogster. My Pet Monster warmed his way into hearts up into the early 90’s before the line went silent. In 2001 he came back for a second run but went through some changes.  While most of him looked the same, his nose and snarl looking teeth were way more tame, and this change was to please kids who found the original too scary. The rebirth was short lived but the doll now is a collectors item that kids of the 80’s will search for it to relive their youth. I never owned one of the original dolls but I do remember that a classmate had one, and he was a hit for the day on the playground when he came to school with his owner. I remember many of us going down the slide with him and spinning on the merry go round was a blast with our friend, My Pet Monster. The one I own is the 2001 rerelease that I found at a thrift store some years back.  It was in perfect shape and now even as I write this, he sits in an old vintage chair in my apartment looking at the TV. 

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My Pet Monster was so popular that is spawned many other merchandise and came to life in films and cartoons. My Pet Monster was made into kids books, coloring books, puzzles and a lunch box. In 1986 My Pet Monster also was made into a live action direct to video film, and had a young boy who when he got hungry would turn into the monster and get into all kinds of silly messes. The film was only moderately successful and has never made it to DVD or Blu-Ray. In 1987 ABC picked up a cartoon based on the toy line that followed a young boy named Max who was the keeper and best friend to the My Pet Monster who was more silly than scary. The cartoon ran for one season and had 16 episodes that can be found on DVD.

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If this were turned into a Star Comic, I would have skipped the film and cartoon and focused on the toy line itself.  The charm of the My Pet Monster was that when the orange shackles came off, he was free to act wild and crazy making the comic being able to go above and beyond with him going crazy in all types of areas. Like say he wanders to a school where a young man is picked on and watches as bullies keep making fun and shoving the kid around.  So My Pet Monster sees enough and talks the kid into un-shackling him and letting him show the bullies that it’s wrong to pick on others by pulling pranks and scaring them half to death.  Each issue could be a new kid with new issues and each time My Pet Monster is the problem solver, and while he is doing good things, he could still have a mean streak. This would have made many kids happy to see My Pet Monster in comic forum, and I am sure would have made Star a lot of money. I give this an 11 issue run with Star and I think it would have gotten a real final issue. It’s odd that this was never looked at to become a comic, and I believe that not only did Star/Marvel drop the ball on this, I think DC and Archie did as well.

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#1

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Now before you get all huffy and say that The Incredible Hulk is already a long running series with Marvel Comics, you should take another look as I am saying that one should have been made based on the 1978 live action TV show. So with that let’s look at the Hulk’s history

The Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1962.  Issue # 1 that shows how scientist Bruce Banner was hit with gamma rays trying to save a young hot shot Rick Jones.  When the moon was full Banner would turn into a super strong brute called the Hulk and became wanted by General Thunderbolt Ross and the US army. Originally the Hulk was grey skinned, and as the series matured a few issues they changed him to green and instead of the moon triggering his transformation, it happened when he was angry . The comic series was and is Marvel’s top comic based on a monster type character out lasting the likes of Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Man-Thing, Godzilla and Monster of Frankenstein.  The Hulk has many great enemies that include the Leader, the Abomination, the Glob, Wendigo, the U-Foes, Absorbing Man, Dr. Samson and many more. In fact as I am all sure you know, Wolverine’s first appearance was in a Hulk issue (#181). The character became so popular that he even got his own comic Magazine called The Rampaging Hulk in 1977. The comic is still going strong to this day and doen’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.  I could spend pages and pages talking about this because the Hulk is my all time favorite super hero and the series is just so rich with plots and characters.  But I am here to get to the point of why Star should have made comics based on the TV show so let’s move on shall we.

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The Hulk was a fan favorite of kids who read comic books.  So they thought, hey why not make some cartoons based on the giant green monster and they did just that in 1966 as part of The Marvel Super Hero’s show that lasted 13 episodes. The 1966 series animation was based on the comic panels and was very crudely done, but still was a solid toon. Then in 1982, they gave it another go around this time the cartoon was just simple called The Incredible Hulk and was played along side Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  The animation was better, and the plot’s were silly fun adventures but this one only lasted one season and 13 episodes as well. Many years would pass before they gave him another chance at the animation world, and 1996 marked his return to TV in animated form.  This one was called The Incredible Hulk as well and lasted two seasons and 21 episodes making it the longest running cartoon and had Lou Ferrigno come back to voice the Hulk. While this one was more up to date, I think it lacked the charm of the 1982 show which is my favorite. Sadly, none of the cartoons are out in the USA on legit DVD’s, and the only way you can see them is on Netflix, PAL Region 2 DVD’s or on Bootleg DVD-R’s. But I hope in 2012 they will be released for US fans.

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The Hulk has also had many action figures, and while some are based on his film appearances, other great old school ones have been made based on the comic and loosely on the live action show. My favorite one has to be the Mego Hulk.  While he is way off scale compared to the rest of the Mego collection, he still has a simple charm to him.  Plus fans of Wizard Magazine’s Toy Fair Issues will always remember him in their stop motion comics as a lunk head. Both small and large versions of the Mego dolls are worth tracking down and owning if you are a fan as well. I also really liked Mego’s Pocket Hero version of the Hulk because he was in scale with Star Wars and G.I. Joes. Lastly I have always had a soft spot for Toy Biz’s first Hulk toy that actions such as him bending a bar and smashing a soft rock. These four are just a drop in the hat of all the badass Hulk toys out there. One thing that always let me down is the fact Mattel never produced their Hulk figure for the Secret Wars line.  Many rumors say that he and The Abomination would have made it to series 3, and it’s a shame the line folded before then.

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The Incredible Hulk has also made his way into the video game world like in 1984 when “Questprode:Hulk” that was released for Commodore 64 and Atari Computers.  It was a text adveture game and marked the first video game to be based on the character. In 1994, a side scrolling action game was made for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo called “The Incredible Hulk.”  While the game is by no means a masterpiece, it still is a fun button masher, and let’s you face some of your biggest foes like Abomination, Rhino and The Leader. In 1997 “The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga” came out for the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn and was a terrible action game plagued by bad controls. Next up was “Hulk” a 2003 game based on the movie by Ang Lee and was made for Sony Playstation 2, Xbox, PC and Nintendo GameCube. Then in 2005, a pretty badass game came out called “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction” and was an open world mission based game that allowed you to go as rampaging as you wanted.  It came out for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Last on this list for now is a 2008 game made by Sega and based on the film starring Edward Norton called “The Incredible Hulk.”  It takes the same idea as Ultimate Destruction and just ties it into the move. On a side note an Atari 2600 game based on the Hulk was in the works but was never finished by Parker Brothers due in part to the video game crash of 83. The story goes that the game was almost done and this gives hope a ROM of it will be found soon because the cover box has been discovered. While none of the games above are groundbreaking, I did find each and every one of them a fun play through even if some of them made me want to scream.

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Many more great merchandise items have been made that include coloring books, lunch boxes, stickers, Halloween masks and costumes, banks, Halloween pales, board games, Colorforms, candy, toy boxes, shirts, shoes, hats and so much more. One of my favorite things as a kid was my brother’s and my Hulk toy box that was a purple base and the lid was a giant Incredible Hulk Head! We use to even take it outside and play with it putting it over our heads and stumbling around like little fools. Sometimes we would fill it with water and drop the figures inside it and act if it was a deep dark abyss. I miss that damn thing! Oh and my mom still has pages of an old Hulk coloring book I colored for her when I was like 4-5, showing that I have always loved The Hulk.

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We still have one more thing to cover about The Incredible Hulk and his impact on our culture and his popularity, and that’s Hulk at the box office. Hulk films have been made before the ones that made it to theaters but those will be separate from this due to the fact they tie into the TV show that I think should have been continued in Star Comics. The first film in theaters was Universal & Ang Lee’s 2003 film called HUL.  This film had Eric Bana playing Bruce Banner who as a child was given Gamma radiation by his father who worked for the government, who also happened to be The Absorbing Man.  The film’s Hulk was CGI and looked like a dated video game graphic.  This film was more drama then action and while it made money at the box office, it left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. In 2008 Universal tried to reboot the film and made THE INCREDIBLE HULK.  This time amazing actor Edward Norton played Bruce Banner, and while the Hulk was CGI, they got Lou Ferrigno to voice him. The film has Bruce on the run from the government and trying to learn to control The Hulk.  Oh yeah, throw in The Abomination for fun, and you have this fun smash’em up movie. Again this one did well in the theaters but not well enough for them to do a sequel.The Hulk was also in 2012’s Avengers the movie and steals the show as he smashes his way throughout the film.  While he only had two solo theater movies, many fan-made films have been made as well.

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In 1977, a movie pilot was aired on CBS based on the Marvel Comic called The Incredible Hulk and followed David Banner (they thought Bruce didn’t sound manly enough) who during a test overdosed his body on Gama Radiation.  When he becomes angry he grows into being a muscle bound green skinned monster know as The Hulk. David goes to his friend and fellow doctor Elaina, and together they try and find a cure, but when a snooping reporter named Jack McGee gets involved, an accident leaves Elaina dead.  David is thought to be dead as well, and The Hulk is blamed.  This was such a hit another made for TV movie was made, and in 1978 it became a full series that followed the same formula: David would go town to town changing his name to find work or to get one step closer to a cure, and Jack McGee would be on his heels looking for the big news story of The Hulk.  Bad things would happen, and The Hulk would come out and save the day.  Then David would be forced to leave in order to hide his secret. This show ran for 5 seasons and a total of 82 episodes. After the show was cancelled, made for TV movies were still being made. The show was one of my favorites, and I found myself glued to the TV whenever it was on.  I remember coming home from school and skipping the after school Disney Shows (Duck Tales, Gummi Bears, ect.) and trying to tune in a fuzz station on the kitchen TV that would show reruns of The Incredible Hulk.  To this day, the show remains my all time favorite! Lucky enough Universal, who owns the show, has released all seasons on DVD! I think the show was amazingly acted with Bill Bixby playing David Banner being one of the best portrayals ever in TV and film, and bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno was perfect painted green and playing The Hulk. Growing up Ferrigno was one of my heroes because of this show.

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A total of 5 made for TV films were made.  The first was the pilot that kicked off the series, and the second film “Return of the Incredible Hulk” quickly followed and had David/The Hulk having to help a young woman who is crippled and getting bad medicine from the family doctor and her step-mother. The first film to follow the end of the series was the 1988 film, “The Incredible Hulk Returns” and has Hulk teaming up with Thor to stop organized crime. Then in 1989 came “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk” in which David Banner is framed for a crime and becoming The Hulk, he and Daredevil must clear his name and stop The Kingpin. Then in 1990 came the final film “The Death of The Incredible Hulk,” and it involves spies and the Hulk falling to his death in the end. Another film was planned, but sadly Bill Bixby lost his battle to cancer in 1993. When these movies were coming on, I know I drove my Mother and Father crazy.  That’s all I would talk about and when they would finally air the whole family would gather in the living room with a big bowl of popcorn and we would all watch the film. Times like that will always be an amazing memory of my youth and how great my family was. I remember also being so sad when in the final film The Hulk died.  While the way he died was pretty lame, it was sad because I knew that this was the end.

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Now let’s get down to it.  This live action show was made for comic books and should have continued in comic books.  Star Comics would have been the perfect home for it. The issues could have followed the style of the show and could have had David Banner going from town to town finding people in need and turning into The Hulk to save the day only to have to restart over again in the next issue. They could have picked kid-friendly issues and topics and tackled the “Just Say No To Drugs” attitude that was big at the time. The Hulk of the show was perfect for kid’s comics because he was never smacking animals or flying off the handle, he seemed to have a good childlike nature that showed him who was bad and who was good. Plus they could have had some of the better artists of Star work on the book and have the comic versions look just like the actors, making this truly fit in the same storyline of the TV Show. Plus they could have turned the planned yet never made film into a comic and gave us the fans young and old the real closer we needed for the series. While this doesn’t stand a chance I wish Marvel would even consider doing this now! This was a no brainer for Star Comics to do, but they really missed the boat on this one, due to the fact they owned the characters! I would say that if made this would have had a pretty long run for them something like 10-12 issues.

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So there you have it from Commander USA to The Incredible Hulk, you see what comics I would have been lining up for if Star/Marvel would have made.  In the next blog I’ll let some family and friends give you their top 5 choices! See you all next update.

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CrystarMeth: The Saga Unfolds

Welcome back friends and readers.  Today’s update is going to be my look at the 11 issue Marvel run of The Saga of Crystar, but first I will tell you a little about how I got to know what Crystar was. One of the stores that used to be a great place to get toys and halloween costumes when I was a kid was Woolworths, an odd five and dime store that carried off the wall merchandise for very cheap prices. The store in the Dayton market was located in Kettering in a strip mall called Van Buren Shopping Center along side grocery store Krogers, video arcade Krazy Kats, Noble Romans Pizza, The Post Office, Fashion Bug, Ron’s Pizza and a handful of more shops. From a very early age (kindergarden age) the one thing I could remember was going to Woolworths with my mom and brother, for I am sure I mentioned it before I lived in Kettering up until first grade when we moved to Waynesville.  These trips to the store would always lead to me getting a toy, candy or a pack of trading cards. The store, as I remember it, was very poorly lit with stained titles not only on the ceiling but also the floor, and the merchandise always seemed to be a mess on the shelves. The candy isle was filled not only with name brand sweets but some pretty generic ones too. While the store was a dirty mess and the merchandise cheap, this was still a very cool place to get your hands on some great none-mainstream toys.  The toy department at this store always seemed to be filled with Remco toys based on AWA Wresting and generic Masters of the Universe knockoffs as well as Spider-Man parachute figures, but this is also where I would first see Crystar and his made-of-glass warriors. But before I get into that, I need to address Halloween Costumes at Woolworths.  I should also state that sadly Woolworths closed down, Krogers moved out of the shopping center and many businesses closed down for good like Krazy Kats and Ron’s Pizza. What was once a mighty shopping center became a mostly empty eyesore that some years ago got torn down and homes were built in its spot.  While one half of the center is still around, the once powerful Van Buren and its many stores are now just memories.

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Halloween has always been my favorite holidays, and Fall is my favorite season.  Back in my very younger days, Ben Cooper Inc. was the company that made almost every costume that you and your friends wore for Halloween.  Ben Cooper originals were made up of a cheap plastic face mask and a vinyl body suit that was based around horror characters like Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster or cartoon/comic characters like Yogi Bear, He-Man, Casper, Batman and Incredible Hulk.  Sometimes you would also be able to get movie characters like Alien, Darthvader or Jaws. Ben Cooper Inc. were the juggernauts of Halloween costumes ruling the market from the 1950’s all the way to the 1980’s, but all things must come to an end as in 1988 they filed for bankruptcy for the first time as many of the companies like DC & Marvel took their characters elsewhere. Ben Cooper Inc. bounced back in 1989 but sadly lost the battle to other companies when in 1992 they closed the doors for good. Ben Cooper masks are now very collectible and many people my age and older have good and some bad memories about wearing these costumes.  One thing’s for sure Halloween and trick or treat lost a major player when the company went belly up. Woolworths always had many of the Ben Cooper costumes for very cheap and would have the boxed ones as well as ones that hung on the shelves, always making it a fun time looking through all of them and choosing what character you were going to be.

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For Halloween one year my mom bought my brother and I costumes based on the film Krull.  My brother got to be the lava demon The Beast, while I got to be the cyclops Rell, and man we both thought we were cool in these cheap costumes. For Kindergarden I went to Beavertown Elementary, and we had a thing called a Halloween Parade where we all would walk through the higher grades and show off our costumes to kids who were older. Well there I was walking from classroom to classroom in my Rell outfit when all of a sudden some smart ass kid says “Hey Cyclops only have one eye, why do you have three?” and then he and his closest classmate had a chuckle.  I felt terrible and being so young I just couldn’t think of a comeback and I spent the rest of the parade without the mask on.  That one student had ruined it for me. Looking back on it now, it was silly for me to be that heartbroken over one dipshit kid’s remarks but for some reason it bothered me, enough so that I remember it to this day. Damn you, Ben Cooper Inc,. for adding three eyes to the mask!

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Remco was a toy company that was founded in the 1940’s and became a major player in the 50’s with such toys as Big Max, Coney Island Penny Machine and Movieland Drive-In Theater play set. By the 1960’s, they were making toys based on Batman, The Beatles, The Munsters , Star Trek and Lost in Space. The 70’s brought toys of The Monkees, Partridge Family, Spider-Man, Micky Mouse and Ronald McDonald, not to mention a makeup kit based around rock band Kiss. But the 80’s is when they really boomed with action figures based around The Universal Monsters like Creature From the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man all in scale with Kenner’s Star Wars toys, not to mention they also got a lab playset. They also made action figures based around Conan The Barbarian, AWA Wrestlers like Ric Flair and the Road Warriors, DC’s Comic characters Warlord and Sgt. Rock, Archie Comic superheros The Mighty Crusaders and even The Karate Kid got a toy line that covered parts 1 and 2 and of course Marvel Comics own Crystar. In my youth I had some Remco toys as I had many of the AWA Wrestlers, some of the Karate Kid figures and a small amount of the Mighty Crusaders. The 90’s were less kind to Remco as action figures based on the cartoon Swat Kats was one of the only semi major hits for them. Many people don’t know that Remco was broke in 1971 and became a sub company for Azrak Hamway International in 1974 who later sold Remco to Jakks Pacific in 1997. While Remco for the most part is a company of the past, its legacy of cheap made toys still lives on for collectors, and yes I collect them.

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On the piled up toy shelf of Woolworths, Kettering many moons ago I first laid my eyes on the Crystar toy line and was taken aback by these fantasy figures. I owned lots of 3 3/4″ Star Wars, G.I. Joes and a few Battle Star Galactica and Indiana Jones figures and thought they would make great additions to the intergalactic battle my figures were fighting in my bedroom, in between playing with He-Man and LJN WWF Wrestlers. But for some odd reason, I went and found some other generic figure and it was my brother Bryan who ended up getting one when he picked up the evil wizard Zardeth, a character with a black hood on and only one eye. My brother kept the figure for a short amount of time and then passed it down to me.  By this time he had no weapons and his cloak was gone. Not knowing much about the character, he just became a henchman of The Emperor and just another knucklehead for Luke Skywalker to kick around. Besides the Marvel Comic series, the toy line had no other way to reach us kids making these toys almost a mystery. Most action figures around that time had solid source material like a cartoon, movie, TV show to push the toy or at least an A-List comic book.  So it was a strange move for Marvel to go the route of a comic series a year after the toys hit and pick a cheap company like Remco to make the figures of what they were hoping would be a major player in the kids media market. Growing up I only knew of one other group of kids having Crystar figures and that was the Vietnamese neighbors we had next door, who by the way had one bitching cool toy collection. Years later I would get a Moltar figure (the lava king) and he also just acted as a punching bag for Luke. So while I knew Crystar as a toy line, I didn’t pick up it was a comic series until years later. Now with many years passed I do own some Crystar figures and have grown to love them as well as Remco as a company.  So going into this comic series is a first time read for me and I am really looking forward to learning the characters’ history.

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In 1982, a line of fantasy action figures hit the market by toy company Remco with very little fanfare and with no real push, making the seven figure, six mini playsets and two dragon toy line to be lost in the shuffle of action figure toys filling shelves at the time. A year later Marvel Comics released issue one of The Saga of Crystar that was to act as the back story to the action figures. Now the way this is sounding, one would think that the comic was based on the toy line when in fact it was the opposite; you see Marvel Comics created Crystar to license out to a toy company and use the toys to sell the comics! Marvel had a master plan to get a bigger slice of the toy market with a new creation.  Sure, they had toys made of Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and Captain America, but they wanted more.  So a new world was created with Crystallium and its new fantasy hero Crystar who lead the good named The Order and with all good guys.  They needed a bad guy, so why not his own brother who is called Moltar, the leader of Choas.  And then they thought well horses are over done in fantasy worlds, so let’s let them ride dragons and instead of our heros and villains looking normal let’s let The Order be living crystal and The Choas living lava! They then came up with a back story and shopped the idea around to toy makers and found Remco who wanted to take on the license even without any source to push it.  So the toys came out and again, as I have stated, very few kids had any that I knew.  A year later the comic was released and I knew no one who read it.  Even though the line of toys and comics almost seem that they were failures, I for one have grown to really like the figures and you shall see what I think of the comics below.  I will also say Marvel and Remco really did push this series with amazing ads and things to draw attention.

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I have been a huge fan of the band Danzig since I can remember.  I even remember getting a Danzig cassette tape in my Easter basket one year! So it was a pretty cool when I found out that the skull both Danzig and Samhain (both bands fronted by Glenn Danzig) use as a logo is from the cover of issue # 8 of The Saga of Crystar! I found that to be an interesting fact so it goes to show you that Danzig must have been reading Crystar.  So check out the skull from the comic and then the one used in the logos below.

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