YARS’ Attacks

Welcome back to the Rotten Ink Arcade.  For our second update of 2016, we are going to take a look at Yars’ Revenge, the super popular game from the early 80’s created by Atari! Like most kids of the 80’s and 90’s, I loved to go to the arcade and hit the toy stores and video game stores, playing video games and shopping for the next pixel quest I could embark on. One of my favorite video game stores was Funcoland, a cool mall chain store that used to sell regular Nintendo games for dirt cheap. I can remember me and my friend Jason Gilmore going to the mall just for this store and leaving with handfuls of NES games as well as Playstation ones. It’s such a shame that Funcoland was bought out by Game Stop (as was EB Games) who closed all the locations and became one of the biggest soulless video game stores in history, that overcharges for used games and drives up the prices on games to warp the market. I can also remember for years going to the arcade in the Dayton Mall with my brother Bryan and playing all types of games from WWE Wrestlefest to Guns n Roses Pinball and having a heck of good time a our arcade of choice, Crazy Cats, by this time sadly had been put out of business by the fine folks who run Kettering, Ohio who gave that poor arcade a hell of a time cause they didn’t want teenagers hanging out in front of Krogers who shared the strip mall with them. Nowadays arcades are making a comeback here in the Dayton area with Hole In The Wall bar, Retro-Media Arcade and Scene 75 to name a few of those popping up and sharing the digital arcade love. Game Swap in Kettering also has its fair share of arcades, and I am proud to say that I spearheaded that and even in my own little way helped bring this popular style of gaming back to the area. Game Swap has many different machines up for play like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong Jr., Popeye, Captain America and The Avengers, Super Contra, Hydra, Centipede, Superman, Marvel Superheroes and so many others! Sometimes, if I get to Game Swap early and get things done and have a pocket full of quarters, I will play of few of the arcade machines before open,  Most of the time I play Superman or Street Fighter II Championship Edition. I miss the days of the classic arcades but thanks to places like Game Swap and Arcade Legacy, the retro arcade will live on for a new generation of gamers to play. Below are some of the arcades that are at Game Swap, so check out the selection and connect with your inner gamer.

Game Swap Arcade Machines

In 1982, Howard Scott Warshaw created a video game for the Atari 2600 that was the console’s top selling original title for the whole run of the 2600, and this game was called Yars’ Revenge. The game started as a licensed port of a game called Star Castle, and after so many changes to the code, it took on a life of its own as Warshaw ended up just making a new game he called Yars Revenge! One video game urban legend says that Warshaw named the game’s home planet Razak basing it around the C.E.O. of Atari, Ray Kassar’s, name and that he did so to see who would be a snitch and rat him out to he boss! The game’s plot has you playing a Yar who must get past a force field and pin point the base of your enemy who must be killed by a giant cannon. The first time I played Yars’ Revenge was at Bard Burn’s house, a neighbor who lived across the street. I can remember being very bad at the game but trying like hell to win. When I was an early teenager, I can remember playing the game again at my Grandma & Grandpa Brassfield’s house and doing a little better while my cousin Nathan watched me play. Now as an adult and thanks to Game Swap, I got the game as well as an Atari 2600 and have relived playing the game many times. When it came out, the game was a hit with fans but many critics were not too kind to it calling is boring and comparing it to a sleeping pill! But love it or hate it, Yars’ Revenge has made it’s mark on the world of Video Games and remains a classic title from the days of cart games.

Yars Revenge screen 1Yars_Revenge_coveryars_revenge screen 2

Besides the Atari 2600 video game and Warner Brothers promo comic, some other merchandise was made around Yars that includes a record that had a radio drama based around the game as well as the game’s “theme” song! A lunch box was made that showcased Yars alongside Missile Command and Warlord among others. Also a Ben Cooper Halloween costume was made allowing kids to become a Yar themselves. Over the years ports, remakes and reboots have been made for consoles like Game Boy Advance, Atari Flashback and Xbox 360. I have even heard stories of fans creating their own Yars arcade machine! So while Yars’ Revenge might not be a household name for modern gamers and also might be forgotten and not yet discovered by others, one cannot downplay its impact on the world of home console gaming as it sparked some cool merchandise.

Yars Revenge VinylYars Revenge Halloween CostumeAtari Lunchbox

Back in the 1960’s, America and Russia had a race to see who could send a human to space and bring them back alive to share what they saw and to have bragging rights on what nation was the first to do so. Many failed attempts were made that cost the nations money, time, machines, lives and lots of poor primates were lost in the unsuccessful attempts. Also in the 1960’s, amateur radios were very popular and many people spent time trying to pick up the messages used by both sides.  The Judica-Cordiglia brothers from Italy did just that on the Russian side and captured the last broadcasts from many of the poor souls who were sent into space and never returned. They heard many sad broadcasts from astronauts who sent out SOS signals as they drifted out into deep space, ones running out of oxygen and suffocating.  It’s sad to think about these poor people who died in a space race between two nations who had a beef with each other. The one audio broadcast that really got to me was recorded in 1963 and was the voice of a female Russian astronaut who was in a shuttle heading back to Earth as it’s catching fire and breaking apart in the atmosphere and she is calling for help and talking about seeing fire and how hot she is inside her metal death prison. Her words are in Russian but her panic frantic tone of voice lets you hear the fear in her voice and makes me sad to think how scary and terrible her last moments alive were. I put myself in her place and a shiver went up my spine as you think about the feeling of being alone and helpless and knowing that your fate was moments away. I should also share that while many people think this recording is real, it does have its detractors who claim that the woman’s voice clearly has an Italian accent and that the brothers hired a woman to make the recording to keep up the local and national fame they got from sharing these broadcasts with the news. I for one don’t know if this recording is a fake or not and will end it by saying if it was real I hope this poor woman’s soul has found rest.

Old School Radio

Moving away from depressing radio use, let’s take a look at a CD that a friend picked for me to listen to. My friend Garrison Kane is a fan of Nintendo and collects all types of products from the games to mini figures based on their characters.  With this update being about a video game, I figured that this would be a good time to listen to a CD that he picked for me to listen to from his favorite band and his favorite album by them, that’s Asia with their 1982 self title release. The first song of this disc was Heat of the Moment, the only song I really knew from the band as it is played on local soft rock radio stations to this day.  This was a nice way to start this listen to this album as this song is pop rock fun with a hint of bands like Alan Parsons Project and Toto. What follows for the next eight tracks is soft rock goodness that is sure to please the ears of those who like catching lyrics and smooth melodies of rock stars who know what they are doing when playing their instrument of choice. The music to the song Time Again is really good and was caught in my mind after hearing it.  The lyrics are okay though a little cheesy, but I would say that this is one of my favorite songs off the CD alongside Sole Survivor, Heat Of The Moment and Cutting It Fine.  To be honest, none of the songs on this one are bad, and I really enjoyed listening to it while I wrote this blog as I felt it was great background music that made focusing a lot easier than having a heavier band’s CD on. I should also say that some songs like Wildest Dreams have messages about war and the way TV covers such events, or at least that’s what I got out of the song! Steve Howe is a very solid guitarist, and I find that his work on these tracks holds up, as does the piano work of Geoff Downes. I will say Garrison picked a really good CD for me to listen to as I enjoyed almost all the tracks and will listen to this one again for sure.

Garrison Andrew Kane aka Dr GakmanAsia - Asia CDAsia

I wonder if Atari in 1982 ever thought about putting music by Asia in one of their games or at the least making a game based around them like they did with Journey in 82.  Wait, Yars’ Revenge, Asia’s self titled album and the video game Journey Escape all came out in 1982…what a year that must have been! Well we are at the point of the update where we will be taking a look at the comic book based on the subject, and I must thank a customer from Game Swap Kettering for giving me this comic to review.  That was super cool of him, and this update is for you, my good sir! I want to remind you readers 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. So let’s plug in our Atari 2600, grab a trusty joystick and see what Warner Brothers has in store for us with this promo comic based around Yars’ Revenge!

Yars Revenge 1 comic

Yars’ Revenge # 1   **1/2
Released in 1982     Cover Price Free     Warner Brothers     #1 of 1

A new Yar recruit enters the office of his commander who decides to give him a history lesson of why they are at war and who they really are. You see their race comes from normal houseflies that hitched a ride on a spacecraft that later crashes in the Razak solar system where those houseflies mutated into Yars. Now this young recruit gets his mission to attack their enemies, The Qotile, and try to bring down their force field so that they can blast them with a Zorlon Cannon and take back their lost land and live peaceful lives once more. It ends with the Commander Yar hoping that this war will come to an end soon and no more lives of his people will be lost.

This war in a galaxy far, far away was not fought by Luke Skywalker or even Captain James T. Kirk and his crew but was fought by a race of super flys called Yars. The plot of this 9 page comic is super simple and is just the plot of the video game for the Atari 2600 as we find out that the Yars, who are mutated Earth houseflies, are at war with an unknown race called the Qotile who blew up one of their planets as well as made a base near it to keep attacking the Yars. The issue ends how the game begins and has you going out into space and trying to fight their base and its force field. The Yars who are this the comic’s main characters seem like a peaceful race until they are pushed to fight, and when they are pushed they put on metal armor and blow stuff up with the help of their massive cannon. The humans, who have a cameo at in the issue, seem clueless and are just fill-ins to show how houseflies made it into space. The Qotile who are faceless and are not seen at all seem like a bunch of buttheads who love war and destruction and seem to be the bullies of that galaxy! I really wish more modern game companies would get behind giving the player a comic based on the game they had just bought.  I mean imagine getting a comic book based on the newest Assassin’s Creed game or one for horror games like Until Dawn or Summer Camp! While comics based on video games are being made, they are full size issues that pack a $3.99 or $4.99 cover price and are coming out via companies IDW and Dark Horse.  While these are fantastic comic series with top notch stories, they are not a free promo comic inside the video game you just bought as I feel most modern game companies are pushing for giving the buyer less with their digital only agenda. The cover for this comic is classic and is taken from the box art for the game.  The inside art and color is fantastic and is done by the team of Frank Cirocco, Ray Garst and Hiro Kimura who make this little mini comic shine for what it’s suppose to do and that’s teach the player the back story of the game. Over all to sum it up, I would say worth a read for fans of the game.

Yars Comic Art

Atari giving out promo comics might be a thing of the past as are video game companies giving away any cool promo stuff with the game you bought without getting a more expensive edition that they can charge you for.  But while things always change, it’s the excitement of what the future holds that keeps this video game player, music listener, comic reader, movie watcher and Horror Host maker & fan hyped for the unknowns of those creative media worlds. Thanks for reading this quick little update as our next update will be about Marvel Comic character Black Goliath! So make sure to come back for that one so until then make sure to play a video game, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host!

Black Goliath logo

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Bugs Bunny The King Of Saturday Morning Cartoons

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a zany place to relive my childhood and remember back the things that made me as well as many others happy and shaped us into the people we are today. Growing up, Looney Tunes was a major part of my childhood as reruns were still being aired on Saturday mornings as well as Sunday mornings, and many times I would rent VHS’s based on the characters from the public library or just buy $1.00 VHS tapes from Dollar Stores. I can remember drawing poor versions of characters like Daffy Duck, Road Runner and of course Bugs Bunny in art class and playing video games like Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blow Out for the NES. Also, when we were younger candy maker Esther Price used to have a big Bugs Bunny doll in their window display in a classic car or doing other silly things.  Sadly they’ve retired him, and modern kids won’t get the joys of watching what Bugs would be up to next in that candy store window. I can also remember reading the Little Golden Books about Bugs as well as reading old comic books on him we would find at garage sales. My mom had a Bugs Bunny cookie cutter and used to make sugar cookies that looked like the famed cartoon character. I can also remember drinking Kool-Aid and chocolate milk from an old Pepsi Bugs Bunny glass. So as you can see, Bugs Bunny was a huge part of my childhood, and this update is all about that crazy grey furred rabbit! So grab a carrot, tune up your sense of humor and let’s have some fun with Mr. Bugs Bunny!

Bugs Bunny 1

So for those of you who are too young, or maybe just lived under a rock, I am going to tell you a little about Bugs Bunny and who he is.  For those of you who already know, sit back and have a good reminiscence with me. Bugs Bunny is a grey furred rabbit who walks on two legs, talks with a New York accent and enjoys pulling pranks as well as snacking on a good old fashioned carrot all the while wearing white gloves. His major catch phrase is “Eh….What’s Up Doc” that is usually said to annoy the person he’s talking to. Bugs is quick witted and always comes out ahead in bad situations. Bugs has many enemies that include hunter Elmer Fudd, cowboy Yosemite Sam, space martian Marvin as well as Taz, a tasmanian devil. One bad guy I always liked was Gossamer, a monster who is covered in red hair and had long yellow and black finger nails and wore white shoes. Bugs Bunny was such a cartoon icon that Warner Brothers used him as their official mascot and places his image on all types of products from microwave kids meals to video games. Bugs was so popular, he even was used to pitch Nike Shoes, credit cards and even Kool-Aid. Bugs Bunny also had movies on the silver screen with such titles as The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie and Box Office Bunny, but his most popular was the 1996 film Space Jam that had him playing basketball along side NBA superstar Michael Jordan against monsters. But I should not forget that he was also in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and shared the screen with Disney icon Mickey Mouse, making for an epic first and last time that the two had shared the screen. He also had many TV specials like Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales and Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet. One special I remember the most was called Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue and was an anti-drug promotion that had Bugs Bunny teaming up with the likes of Alf, Papa Smurf, Silmer, Winnie The Pooh, Garfield, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo and many others to help a young boy whose brother is doing drugs. Before we move on, I want to also tell a few more fun facts about Bugs.  He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being in the most short and feature length films of any Cartoon character, and he is the second animated character to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! So as you can see, Bugs Bunny is truly the main hare when it comes to the world of classic cartoons!

Classic_bugsbunnyclip-art-bugs-bunny-210336bugs-stance-gloveless

Now that we covered who Bugs Bunny is, we should also talk about those people who brought the furry little guy to life.  The first appearance of the rabbit that was to become Bugs Bunny was in a cartoon called “Porky’s Hare Hunt” in 1938 that featured a wise talking rabbit that was given no name.  The cartoon was directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway and Cal Dalton. Hardaway and Cal Dalton were the creators of the character and had the bunny show up in a another cartoon sealing the popularity of the character, and Bugs was finally named by artist Charlie Thorson after several prior appearances marking the year 1939 when Bugs Bunny was used as a name for the rabbit character. All this time Bugs Bunny looked a little different then the Bugs we all know and love as well as he was portrayed more as crazy than quick whited. In 1940 the cartoon “A Wild Hare” directed by Tex Avery features what’s considered the first modern version of Bugs Bunny and is the true kick start to shaping the character that he is to this day. Bugs Bunny was voiced by a legendary cartoon voice actor named Mel Blanc, who also voiced such characters as Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Speed Buggy among many others! So here is a big thank you to Warner Brothers, Ben Hardaway, Cal Dalton, Tex Avery, Charlie Thorson, Mel Blanc and everyone else who helped make Bugs Bunny come to life; this blog update is for you as well as all the fans who have kept the character alive.

Ben  HardawaybugsevolutionhrMel Blanc

Besides home media releases, Bugs Bunny has been turned into all types of merchandise that include Halloween costumes, books, comic books, dolls, action figures, video games, cloths, posters, school supplies, drinking glasses, frozen meals and so much more! If it was a product they could put Bugs Bunny’s face on, they did it! Besides the Pepsi glass that I would drink from, some other things of Bugs I loved was an eraser pencil topper that was green that was of Bugs Bunny’s head, the small Arby’s kids meal toy that had Bugs relaxing and of course I would have to say the Playsation game Bugs Bunny Lost In Time. So I don’t want to spend too much time on the merchandise of Bugs Bunny because we would have to spend the whole update about all the different items, but if you had some sort of Bugs Bunny merchandise, you know how important it was to you in your youth.

Bugs Halloween CostumeBugs Drinking GlassBugs DollBugs Arbys ToyBugs PSX Game

As you readers know, I am a fan of the internet video game reviewer The Angry Video Game Nerd, and I should talk about his feud with Bugs Bunny that has raged on for two episodes! In Bugs’ first AVGN appearance The Nerd was playing Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blow Out for NES, and Bugs himself shows up to annoy him while he is playing. All through the episode The Nerd beats up Bugs, and in the end he ends up beating the Bunny up super badly and poops on his face in a cheesy and fun sight gag. In the second episode, Bugs shows up again and forces The Nerd to play the Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle series all the while this time beating up The Nerd! The Nerd finally gets an upper hand and finds out the true secret of who Bugs is, but I won’t spoil it for you readers. Great work from The Nerd, and they remain funny and entertaining no matter how many times I’ve seen them.

AVGN Bugs 1AVGN Bugs 2AVGN Bugs 3

So now that you know a little more about Bugs I think we are ready to dive into a few issues from the Whitman reprints that I got from Jason Young and his mom.  So I want to say a big thank you to them for making this update possible. Now this is by no means the whole set from them, but these are all the issues I have so I want to remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So if you’re ready, let’s go down the rabbit hole and spend some time with our old childhood friend Bugs Bunny.

Bugs Bunny 173

Bugs Bunny # 173   **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price .25   Whitman   #173 of 245

The Long-Eared Genie” is the first story and has Bugs Bunny helping a young girl named Jennie who has been ripped off by a con man who has sold her a magic lamp that is for her father’s birthday. Bugs tricks him into thinking the lamp really works and tricks the con into paying back all those who he ripped off in order to get fake wishes! “Hare Tonic” has Elmer Fudd wanting to be a rock star with a full set of long real hair and offers Bugs a hundred dollars to help him out.  Bugs goes to an old witch friend of his for a potion and runs around town to get the missing ingredients that includes dust from a Mummy’s tomb! In the end the potion works too well, and Fudd offers him another hundred to make him bald again. The third and final story is called “Two For The Treasure” has Bugs and Yosemite Sam going after a pirate named Singood who is stealing treasure in Sam’s territory.  While on the hunt, Bugs crashes the ship into Singood’s ship, sinking them both! As Sam and Singood sword fight, Bugs takes the treasure chest and buries it.  In the end Bugs makes them carve him a canoe from a log, and he sets out to sea and tells them where the treasure is that turns out to be costume jewelry.

This is a nice way to start off this review of Whitman Bugs Bunny comics as the stories in this comic feel straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon. The best of the three stories has to be Hare Tonic as watching Bugs play a Mummy in a b-horror film as well as deal with a witch who lives in a swamp is a cool sight to see and read about. The weakest has to be Two For The Treasure.  While not a bad story, it almost has a been there, done that feel to it. One odd thing I noticed is that both Elmer and Yosemite Sam seem to be friends of Bugs, not his enemies, which kind of takes away from the overall magic of their classic toon rivalries. I can’t seem to find a name of the artist for this comic, but I must say whoever it is captures the spirt of Bugs Bunny very well, and whomever is the writer also did a good solid job. The issue also had a great rotten ink smell, and sadly a loose middle page but that defect didn’t stop me from enjoying the issue. I’m puzzled why the cover has Tweety Bird, Porky Pig and Sylvester with Bugs watching a Baseball game when the issue has no baseball and none of those other characters! But let’s see what’s up next for Mr. Bunny and see what zany thing he does next.

Bugs Bunny 175

Bugs Bunny # 175  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price .25   Whitman   #175 of 245

The Secret Of Horsefeather Canyon” has Professor Pigfeat of Hamm University sending Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny to canoe down a river that has terrible waves to see if the legends of Horsefeather Canyon being the home of flying horses is true. They crash, sink the canoe and meet Buffalo Bruce who is a cowboy and herds flying cows with his flying horses! Bruce tells them that they are stuck in his valley and that they can never leave because he don’t want his animals in a zoo and wants no scientist in his land. Porky and Bugs steal a flying horse to escape and are caught but make it to safety in time. They make a promise to Bruce not to tell the outside world about his ranch, but they do con him into doing a flying rodeo once a year at Hamm University. The second story called “Fudd Foolery” has Elmer Fudd going to an art museum and Bugs follows along. Fudd takes the radio tour in which he is walked through the museum and told the history of items by a DJ, and of course Bugs get bored and takes over the tour by lying to the DJ. While Bugs has fun toying with Fudd, a thief steals a painting and exits the museum right as Fudd figures out Bugs is being a prankster! Fudd chases Bugs out of the museum.  The crazy rabbit breaks a vase, and Fudd on accident stops the art criminal. In the end Fudd is offered a job as the night security guard, and Bugs has to work as the janitor at night to pay off the vase he broke. The third and final story of this issue is called “Small In The Saddle” and has Bugs and Yosemite Sam being the law in a small western town that is being robbed by a pip squeak crook who always seems to get away with the help of smoke pellets, but when Bugs wises up to the crooks tricks and finds him horsing around by hiding in a plastic horse the town is saved from the tiny terror.

This issue is packed with three solid and good stories.  Each was as entertaining as the last, and that’s a great and rare thing from a kids comic from the 70’s. Bugs is quick witted and is looking for a way to have fun with his friends as well as make a quick buck. The 1st story is pretty fun and has flying horses, and Bugs and Porky dressed in flannel and looking like extras from the Bigfoot horror film Night of The Demon. Not to mention Buffalo Bruce reminded me of the mascot for generic potato chips company Rodeo Bill, who was a cowboy who rode a giant potato! The second story that has Bugs at the art museum reminded me of the movie Bean about the classic BBC character Mr. Bean, and it was fun to see Bugs taking in a little culture…well ruining a little culture for Elmer. The last story is pure cheesy cowboy stuff and should have been a team up between Bugs and Roy Rogers…now that would have been cool. I could not pick a favorite of the three as I feel all of them were as good as the other.  However I must say that the artist did not get credit for his fantastic work again. So far I am two issues in, and I am enjoying these comics and think this far they are great examples of kids comics done right.  So let’s not waste no more time and get onto the next issue.

Bugs Bunny 176

Bugs Bunny # 176   **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price .30   Whitman   #176 of 245

The Search For The Sun Gems” has Bugs Bunny traveling via a blimp with Elmer Fudd and Lord Bertie Brumly to try and trick some island natives so they can steal Sun Gems that were created in a falling meteor.  But when Bugs doesn’t want anything to do with the heist, Fudd knocks him from the plane and his good luck has him landing safely and becoming a God to the natives! But when the natives figure out Bugs isn’t a God and that his pals Fudd and Brumly are there to steal the Sun Gems, he must use all his good luck to get them out alive. The second story is called “In Stew” and has Beaky Buzzard inviting his pal Bugs over for carrot stew, but when Beaky’s meat eating brother Basil shows up for dinner he must save Bugs from becoming part of the menu! In the end Basil is out smarted by his dimwitted brother, finds that he in fact loves carrot stew and they all eat bowls of it together. The third and final story is called “The Cannonball Caper” and has Bugs being stuck between a feud that is raging on between Yosemite Sam and Sagebrush Sarah over a debit that Sam owes her.  They decide in order to pay it all back with interest that they will hold a garage sale. Bugs and Sam go to advertise the sale in town and an accident leaves Bugs riding a runaway cannon and causing mayhem along the way. In the end, Sam sells the cannon to the city gardener for $100 but is fined by the cops for the mayhem leaving him broke.  Worse, Sarah sold all his stuff, and he returns to his empty ship with nothing.

I want to first point out that the cover to this issue has zero to do with any of the three stories in this issue.  In fact Porky Pig does not even have as much as a cameo in it either! The best of the three stories is The Search For The Sun Gems.  It had a real Bugs Bunny cartoon feel to it even though I find it odd that Elmer Fudd is more of an annoying friend to Bugs than an enemy who has wanted him dead for years. Much like in the cartoon when the odds are against Bugs, he finds away to come out squeaky clean and always ahead. The weakest of the stories has to be The Cannonball Caper as I felt it was clearly a throwaway short.  One other odd thing is that Yosemite Sam also comes off as a friend and not an enemy. So between all the bad guys in this issue, I feel that Basil Buzzard was more of a threat to Bug’s well-being and I am pretty sure he would have eaten him if he would have caught him. Over all this issue is pretty standard kid comic stuff and was a solid and fun read that had the classic rotten ink smell of the decomposing ink. I could not find who did the art in this issue, but I do think that it captures the look and vibe of Bugs Bunny! So yeah, those was some zany Bugs adventures.  Let’s see what the next issue I have has in store for us!

Bugs Bunny 209

Bugs Bunny # 209  **1/2
Released in 1979   Cover Price .40   Whitman   #209 of 245

Hocus Pocus Hare” has Bugs trying to learn magic during rabbit hunting season, and when Elmer Fudd comes a hunting Bugs tries to wow him with a handcuff trick that leaves them stuck together as a pack of braindead hunters tries to shoot them! Along the way Bugs uses his magic and all attempts fail.  So what does he do but call on the calvary for help! In the end Elmer and Bugs get free of the cuffs and patch things up for a few moments until Bugs uses his squirting flower to annoy Fudd who starts his hunt all over again. The second story is called “Funny Money” and has Bugs running a hotdog stand for Petunia Pig while she runs some errands and is conned out of the day’s money by the sleazy crook Silky Fleece who replaces what he calls dirty money with counterfeit new bills that have invisible ink on them! Once Bugs figures out he’s been had, he goes to get Petunia’s money back and does so with the help of the cops as they arrest the con man.  Bugs not only gets her money back but also a reward that he uses to buy the hot dog stand and turn it into a carrot stand! The third and final story is called “Cool Head Fudd” where Bugs Bunny claims he is the master of making Elmer Fudd mad but Daffy Duck says he does it better.  So as Daffy goes off to anger Fudd, that quick witted rabbit Bugs tells Fudd to remain calm and that will annoy Daffy instead, but Fudd’s new cool head annoys both Daffy and Bugs who leave his house not liking his new cool as ice attitude. In the end, Fudd waits till they leave and blows his top at how annoying they both are.

This is another fun issue that captures the fun and silly nature of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. So in this issue Bugs learns magic, helps capture a con man, uses Elmer Fudd as a pawn more than once and even almost gets shot and killed a couple of times…so yeah just normal Bugs Bunny activities. The best story in this issue is Funny Money as I love the whole con man tricks a rabbit running a hot dog stand into given him all the money from the register only to have it all blow up in his face. Plus I can’t help but get the vibe that Bugs and Petunia Pig might have a little something going on with each other on the side…poor Porky Pig doesn’t even see it happening before his eyes! I think the weakest story in the issue is Cool Head Fudd.  While it’s cool to see Daffy do what he does best and that’s be crazy, the whole story seems very pointless and really goes nowhere in the end. I also have to say I kind of feel for Bugs as at all times it seems like some hunter or even friends like Elmer want him dead, and he is consistently having guns pointed and fired at him. The cover once more is not connected to the issue unless I guess you could say it’s Bugs annoying Fudd like in Cool Head Fudd, but I think I am grasping at straws there. The artwork is really good again and once more I can’t find a name to the artist! Let’s see if Bugs will almost be shot again as we move onto the next issue I have!

Bugs Bunny 210

Bugs Bunny # 210  **1/2
Released in 1979   Cover Price .40   Whitman   #210 of 245

Our first Bugs Bunny adventure in this issue is called “ The Fountain Of Youth” and has Bugs and Porky Pig travel to the everglades to find the famed fountain of youth and are sent by Professor Pigfeat of Hamm University. While in the swamps, Bugs and Porky get into all types of trouble even sinking in quicksand until an Indian who’s 170 years old acts as their protector. When they find the fountain, Bugs accidentally drinks the water that they were bringing back as proof and turns young again! In the end Pigfeat doesn’t think the world’s ready for the power to become young again, and they leave the young Bugs at a daycare until he grows bigger in the following week! The second story is called “Tall Tale Talk.” Bugs is hanging out with Yosemite Sam on his ship hearing over the top stories when they get a distress call from Sam’s best friend Nick Neptune who has been attacked by Captain Sigh who wants the location of a treasure! Bugs and Sam sail in for the rescue that is short lived when Sam himself is captured and it’s up to Bugs to save Nick and Sam! When Bugs out smarts the pirates and rescues Nick and Sam, they hit the sea again as Bugs is treated to more over the top stories. The third and final story in this issue called “The Bugged Carrot Patch” has Elmer Fudd using boobie traps and a radar to stop Bugs from stealing his carrots until Bugs figures out that he can wrap himself in tin foil to defeat the radar and eat all the carrots he wants after he scares Fudd into thinking he is a alien from space!

Bugs Bunny and Whitman Comics have delivered another fun light hearted kids comic issue that I am sure entertained the kids of 1979 with Bugs being silly. I really loved the vibe and story of he and Porky trying to find the fountain of youth, and the whole adventure truly reminded me of something that you could see on a Looney Tunes episode! In fact all three stories in this issue are really well done and made for a good read. Once more I am a little puzzled to why Yosemite Sam and Bugs are friends in this comic, and this issue even has them hanging out of Sam’s ship as he is telling over the top stories! Shouldn’t Sam be trying to shoot or stab Bugs cause in the cartoons he hates him! Oh well I guess murder in a kids comic is probably not a good thing, let alone in 1979. This issue also adds a character named Nick Neptune who for the most part is useless and only adds to the rescue aspect of the Yosemite Sam adventure. Over all good stuff and once more can’t find the artist! Oh and for once the cover kind of ties in with a story of Bugs stealing carrots from Fudd’s garden. So far we are four issues in to the eight I own and I am having fun, so let’s move onto the next shall we?

Bugs Bunny 211

Bugs Bunny # 211  **1/2
Released in 1979   Cover Price .40   Whitman   #211 of 245

Magic Eye Of Ahni-Kon” has Bugs Bunny helping Sinbad with his magic flying carpet when it starts to rip after his time travel.  For his help Sinbad takes Bugs on a ride, and they end up a thousand years in the past and are being stalked by bad guys who want a magical glass eye Sinbad has and worse a dragon! In the end Bugs uses the eye as well as its other half to stop the bad guys and gets a one way ticket back to his time on a special magic carpet. The second story is called “Flooded Out” and has poor Bugs Bunny’s hole in the ground being filled with water from a nearby creek thanks to work by the city! Bugs gets an idea to talk to the governor to try and get him to stop the water work, but getting time to talk to him is tricky as the guards will not let him in. When Bugs finally gets a chance to talk to the governor, he finds out that there’s nothing he can do to stop the creek from being moved. In the end Bugs figures out that he will surround his house with stone and make his own little island. The final story is called “ Caped Capers” and has Bugs stealing carrots from Elmer Fudd’s garden and only leaving him one. Fudd has an idea to scare Bugs and becomes a masked hero called The Carrot Avenger who scares Bugs. But all good things come to an end when Bugs finds that Fudd is the Avenger.

Man, Bugs Bunny is a thief in these comics and almost takes pride in stealing carrots from Elmer Fudd! At one point he even says he doesn’t want to buy them implying he would rather steal…wow Bugs, just wow! I am sure it started with carrots, then he moved up to candy from 7-11’s and then he moved up to DVD’s selling them to get carrots….it’s a sad day when you have to come to terms that one of your favorite cartoon characters as a kid is a home invasion carrot robber. Plus Elmer in this comic series is one of his friends and really think about it, he steals from his friend. The best story in the issue is Flooded Out as I feel it captured the spirit of the cartoon and my least favorite is the opening story Magic Eye Of Ahni-Kon as I felt it just kind of was bland and pointless. The cover is pretty good and ties in to the fact Bugs is a thief. The comic has cameos by Petunia Pig and Porky Pig, helping addto the Loony Tunes feel. Once more Whitman does a great job of reprinting this Bugs Comic, and I for one once again enjoyed reading it. No artist credit again so let’s get to the next issue and see what Bugs steals next. I am going to guess Petunia Pig’s heart or all her jewelry.

Bugs Bunny 235

Bugs Bunny # 235  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Whitman   #235 of 245

In the opening story called “Hero Hare” Bugs Bunny wins a stay at a fancy resort and finds that his neighbors in the room next to his are there to rob the place! The manager doesn’t believe Bugs and kicks him out into the woods nearby. But Bugs being noble helps save the day when he captures the crooks with stolen money in hands. The second story is called “ Mutiny Of The Bunny.” Bugs is robbed and kidnapped by two pirates who plan on leaving him in the cold dead water. While trapped, Bugs meets a rat named Ripley who tries to help him escape with the help of cold hard cash! Together they learn that the ship is filled with stolen cargo and Bugs outwits the baddies along with Ripley and try to hitch a ride to port! The third story is called “Clowning Around” and has Bugs trying to help two lost clowns who have their car destroyed in an accident, and it’s up to Bugs to get them back on track. The fourth, yeah a fourth story, is called “Between Two Pirates” and has Bugs and his pirate uncle Barnacle Bunny going to visit Yosemite Sam.  Bugs finds out that his Uncle and Sam dislike each other over an old treasure map they each have a part of. So together they go look for the treasure with Sam and Barnacle at each others’ throats the whole time. In the end Bugs loses the treasure in the sea and becomes the target of Sam and Barnacle, making the two old pirates friends.

This one added a fourth story, and while the issue is good, the addition of the fourth story seemed to make the others too short and not fleshed out in any way. The better of the stories has to go to Mutiny of the Bunny, a fun sea adventure with Bugs making fools of this pirate kidnappers. The worst story had to be the very pointless Clowning Around that was clearly just a filler story. The only old familiar face in this issue besides of course Bugs was Yosemite Sam who once more acts as a friend and not a foe. New additions were Ripley the Rat and Barnacle Bunny who both added some level of fun to their respected stories. Once more the art is fantastic and it’s clear that several artist worked on this issue as the styles are slightly different. The cover once more has zero to do with any of the stores and makes me wonder what kind of carrots the designers were eating when they picked it! Over all this is the weakest thus far of the Whitman Bugs comics I own, but I still enjoyed reading it. So we only have two more issues to go and as I stated I am having a good time reading these comics and am looking forward to this next one as well!

Bugs Bunny 236

Bugs Bunny # 236  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Whitman   #236 of 245

In “Royal Pen Pals” Elmer Fudd and a King have become psychic pen pals, and Bugs Bunny intercepts a mental message that the King is in trouble! So he and Fudd fly to his Kingdom and find Red Duke, a one time friend of the King is trying to place an impostor in his place so he can rule the Kingdom! Bugs and Fudd team up and foil this plot and rescue the King. The second story is called “Bunny Talk” and has Bugs and Yosemite Sam jogging in the mountains together, but when Sam breaks off and falls into an eagle’s nest, Bugs must find away to save him from the angry mother bird and must also learn to talk eagle to save his own hide! The third story is called “Wheeling and Dealing” has a motorcycle path being put in next to Bugs’ whole and when his Congressman refuses to move the path, he takes matters into his own furry hands and detours the bikers to Fudd’s house! In the end Fudd and Bugs turn up the heat on the Congressman by telling him he will lose a vote and he reworks the route again…that goes by Bugs hole again! The fourth and final story is simple called “Bugs Bunny” and has Elmer Fudd and Bugs trying to hypnotize each other and of course only Bugs can do it.  But it all comes in handy when they run to an old abandoned house to get out of the rain and meet two brothers who are robbers! Bugs uses his mind tricks and has Fudd save the day when he thinks he’s a pro-wrestler!

This is another four story issue and once more is pretty good and has some fun wacky Bugs adventures. Once more this issue shows that Elmer Fudd is restless about Bugs always stealing his carrots and wants to use mind control to get him to stop! The best story is Royal Pen Pals and is cool to see Elmer and Bugs really working together and saving the day for a King who was in major trouble. The weakest story is Wheeling and Dealing.  It’s funny to think that a congressman in Looney Tune world cares about one vote when in real life they will just buy the election. The cover once more is misleading and has nothing to do with any of the stories, and the art is again unknown but really well done. One thing I can say is that the comics thus far have done a fantastic job of capturing the playful mood and attitude of Bugs Bunny, and I can only imagine how much kids of this time loved to read and collect these issues. There’s not much more to say about this issue.  So we are now on the final issue and I must say that all these issues thus far have that great Rotten Ink smell and that has helped make this update even better as it captures the true meaning of the name of the blog. So with that let’s see what final adventures Bugs gets into!

Bugs Bunny 237

Bugs Bunny # 237  **1/2
Released in 1982   Cover Price .60   Whitman   #237 of 245

Lost Valley” has Bugs Bunny and his Uncle Buckskin find a hole in a cave that leads to a valley that time has forgot.  The people are being bullied by Grugg and his men who want them all to never leave and must mine for gold to make them rich. Bugs and Buckskin unite the villagers and all together they teach Grugg a lesson in respect. “Shipping Out” has Bugs Bunny stopping two bikers who have stolen Yosemite Sam’s ship and plan to rob yachts! Bugs uses his brain and gets the coast guard to the rescue Sam’s ship that he has got stuck in sand, leaving the bikers in their hands. “Well Suited” has Bugs working for a company called Rent-A-Thing where he has to wear a dog costume and pretended he is a dog for Elmer Fudd, but when Fudd finds out he’s been had, he gets mad and Bugs’ boss shows up to save him or is it kill him when the rabbit can’t pay for the rent! The final story is called “Getting Grey Hares” and has Bugs and Porky Pig taking jobs as truck drivers for explosives to get money for Porky to go to Hawaii to visit Petunia Pig who’s birthday is coming up. In the end they make the delivery after some close calls of being blown up only for Porky to fly away, and Petunia to fly in!

This was another solid issue that was a nice way to finish up my look at Bugs Bunny in comics! Bugs in this series is super loyal to his friends and even those he steals from he still feels the need to help them whenever he can. The best story from this issue had to be Lost Valley as it was nice to see Bugs unite a town and get the last laugh on a greedy no good bully! The weakest link story and once more the on that felt like filler was Well Suited as the whole gag is just for Bugs to eat Fudd’s carrots while in a dog suit and to be chased by his new boss for not paying him to dress as a bear…yeah, just kind of weak. It was cool to see familiar faces in this issue as well because not only do we see Elmer Fudd but we also get Petunia Pig, Pork Pig and Yosemite Sam making this final issue I have a nice closing.  In fact looking back at these comics felt almost like a reunion with old friends that you miss. The cover is great but once more is not connected to any of the stories, and as always no artist is credited but the art work is great and captures the nature of Bugs Bunny. These Whitman reprints are really fun and are good classic kid comic stuff, these are the type of comics that I could see parents still buying to this day for this young kids who are wanting to get into comics! It’s also fun to think that the comics I read were the comics my friend Jason and his older brother Joe read many years ago and that they got into comics by reading these type of issues along with the Disney ones. I guess now that I have praised these issues I should also point out a few things I felt could have been done better. The first real puzzler is that they took Bug’s enemies and turned them into friends taking away any real danger and drama.  These classic bad guys and Bugs going at each other is what made the cartoons so special and taking that element away made for cheaper bad guys who fell short in the danger department. The second thing that I found odd is that many of the stories followed the same formula of Bugs getting into hot water mostly with thieves and always out smarting them in no time.  It’s like the story writers passed around the same outline to everyone in the office and they each made slight changes to come up with their version of the story. And the final thing that was puzzling and also kind of funny is something I already touched on, and that’s Bugs stealing from his friend Elmer Fudd, I mean if I were Fudd, I would not invite him around anymore! But all those flaws are pretty minor in my book and don’t change the fact that these are fun comics that were well worth the read. Below is some artwork from this series, and I picked an image of Bugs and Porky on a flying horse because this sums up the silly and fun nature of these comics.

Bugs Bunny Art 1

So there we have it, a look at Bugs Bunny and the Whitman comics based on him and his friends. This won’t be the last update that will cover Loony Tune characters as the box of comics I got from the Young’s had many more so that’s something we can all look forward to! But our next update is leaving the warm safe world of Bug Bunny and finally getting to take a look at a comic series that was supposed to been looked at in mid 2014, The Ghosts Of Dracula!! Be ready to walk the night with Dracula, and until then, read a comic or two, support your local Horror Host and watch a cartoon from your past and as always stay nerdy!

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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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Now I am going to break off from Crystar for a moment and talk about video games again, I have been a series gamer sense the NES days and have been a wrestling fan for a little longer. I grew up watching pro wresting with my dad, Brother and grandfather and have also bought every WWE and at the time WCW game that came out. One series I always buy the day it comes out is WWE series up until this year from THQ. The WWE games of the past 8 or so years have had a great habit of adding legends to the game from Hulk Hogan to Iron Sheik making long time wrestling viewers like myself happy.  I would much rather play the superstars of the past then those of the present. To compare say John Cena of this day and age to Bret “Hitman” Hart of the past is laughable as Hart would work circles around Cena. So in late 2012, THQ gave us WWE 13 which treats gamers to a huge roster of today’s superstars and divas as well as superstars and divas of the Attitude Era that ran roughly 1997-2002.  While many say the true start was in 1998, the attitude started before that. Many great icons of this time period were added like Bret Hart, British Bulldog, X-Pac, New Age Outlaws, The Road Warriors, Vader, Gangrel and more, but some superstars seemed to be snubbed for no good reason.  Many names have made wish lists across the net like Steve Blackman, The Headbangers, Chyna, Raven, Lance Storm and The Oddities to name a few.  There are many who have not made it into the game because they work for rival company TNA such as Jeff Hardy, Al Snow, The Dudley Boys and Rob Van Damn. And yet still some did not make the cut because at the time they were in WCW or WWE just has something against them. May I remind you that THQ only could only suggest what wrestlers made the game; WWE has the final say on who’s in and who’s out.  But here is a list of four wrestlers I think were snubbed and have a place in WWE 13!

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The Patriot (Del Wilkes) was an independent masked wrestler who made a name for himself in the GWF (Global Wrestling Federation) from 1991 until 1992 becoming a crowd favorite and even winning the federation’s world title. After leaving the company, he went to All Japan Pro Wrestling and became a draw even winning the tag titles with partner The Eagle, and returning there off and on throughout his short career. WCW was his next stop as in 1994, he and Marcus “Buff” Bagwell formed the team Stars and Stripes, and they would be multiple time Tag Team Champions.  The Patriot left the company in 1995 and went back to All Japan for a couple of years. In 1997 WWF/WWE brought The Patriot in to feud with Bret “The Hitman” Hart and his new Hart Foundation (British Bulldog, Brian Pillman, Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart) who would slam America and speak of how great Canada is.  The Patriot was the man who bled red, white and blue and took offense to this slander and took the fight to Hart. The feud would have both men fight on Monday Night Raw and PPV’s in single and tag matches. But sadly The Patriot got a serious injury that not only ended his time in the WWE but also his career as a pro wrestler. The Patriot was being geared to be a top babyface in the company and even had action figures made while he was there.

The reason I think he should make it into WWE 13 is because while his time was short with the company his feud with the Harts was a great one.  It struck raw emotions with both American and Canadian fans given the battle’s meaning. Plus he was a solid worker who would at least have the over all game rating of 86, giving this already amazing roster one more competitor for the World Title or at least the Intercontinental. Not to mention that his song in 1997, “Medal,” would later be used as Kurt Angle’s, making the song available to use for anyone’s created Angle character. I should also note that way back when, my Aunt Teresa let some pro-wrestlers use her garage as a training area complete with a ring & weights and from time to time The Patriot was one that would work out, how cool is that! While I know he is not a super popular wrestler, I would be happy to hear that this star spangled hero that is in the same vein as Hulk Hogan and Hacksaw Jim Duggan would have at least been DLC for the game.

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Every guy who watched WWE/WWF wanted to have “Sunny Days,” and I was one of them! Tammy Lynn Sytch, better known, as Sunny was a valet and sometimes wrestler who began her career in 1992 at Smokey Mountain Wrestling as a snooty character named Tammy Fytch managing her real life boyfriend Chris Candido and Brian Lee to winning the tag titles. She and Candido left in 1995 to work for the WWF/WWE.  At first she was used as a backstage interviewer but quickly enough she became Sunny as Candido became Skip, and together they were the Bodydonnas.  Later on they would be joined by Zip, and Sunny would manage them to tag team gold.  She later would dump them and manage teams like The Godwinns and The Smoking Gunns. She would also manage Ron Simmons for a short time who was going under the name Faarooq. Sunny would then host WWE shows like Shotgun Saturday Night and would also manage The Road Warriors who were going under the name LOD 2OOO. Sunny was let go in 1998 after backstage heat between herself and top diva Sable, not to mention she had no showed events and had an addiction to pain pills. Tammy would no longer be Sunny and would join federations like ECW, XPW and even had a very small run for WCW. While Sunny has made some appearances in the WWE and has become a Hall of Famer, she has not worked for the company full time since 98. Sunny was the top Diva for many years and was the first Diva who broke the mold of what a woman wrestler should look like and paved the way for many of the company’s top female talent. Sunny was so popular she had her own home video, was magazine cover girl many times and had a number of action figures. For the longest time, Sunny was my favorite Diva and for the most part still is in my top two.  Sunny brought the sex appeal and attitude that kick started the company into success. Sunny should have been added in the game, if not as a wrestler, at least as a manager.  Oh I should note, I also use to have Sunny posters in my room and still have my ECW Tammy shirt.  Like most teens, I used to think that Sunny was the most beautiful queen of wrestling and while lots of fans have turned their back on her because of her “issues” I stand by how I felt then and say Sunny should have been in WWE 13!

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Dr. Death Steve Williams has wrestled in many federations that include WCW, NWA, ECW, All Japan and Mid South to name a few. Williams has held world titles and tag titles and was considered one of the toughest men to step into a wrestling ring, even becoming one of the first American Wrestlers to be considered a true main eventer in Japan.  In 1998 WWF/WWE hired Dr. Death right when they were having an event called “Brawl For It All” in which wrestlers competed on TV in fights that were much like the Tough Man Contests that had popped up all over the US and became popular. Williams was the odds on favorite, and the WWE was banking on him winning and pushing him as the company’s top heal.  Rumor even has it that he was suppose to beat Stone Cold Steve Austin for the World Title. Williams entered the contest and made short work of his first round opponent (Jean-Pierre LaFitte), but his second round opponent Bart Gunn was another story as Gunn took down Williams tearing his hamstring and then knocking him out. Williams missed several months of action, and his push went up in smoke.  When Williams returned, he was put with broadcaster Jim Ross who acted as his manager and spent his time being a badass bully. But the knock out left the WWE with a bad taste, and they let Dr. Death go in 1999.  Williams would later still make appearances for the WWE but never would be a contender. Dr. Death should have made it to WWE 13 because he was a legit badass who would have fit in perfect with the likes of Brock Lesner and Ryback as a muscle bound brute who would have represented the Attitude Era very well. While Dr. Death didn’t live up to what Vince and the WWE wanted for the time, he still helped make the WWE what it was by showing that truly anything can happen in the ring.  Dr. Death would have made a great addition to the game’s runners for the World Title and would have had the over all game rating of 88. Williams battled cancer for years but sadly lost his battle to throat cancer in 2009. Oh yeah and you better believe if Dr. Death was in the game, he would be Oklahoma Stampeding Ryback’s lame ass!

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Last on the list is not only a legend of the 80’s but also a guy who was a part of the whole Austin 3:16 creation.  That man is Jake “The Snake” Roberts! Now I don’t want to spend much time on Jake’s past, but I would like to focus on his second run in the WWE that started in 1996 and had him returning at the Royal Rumble as a good guy and spreading the word of God. Roberts, who was in real life a born again Christian, would use this for his in-ring character and even spiced up his snake using an albino serpent that he named Revelations and laced his interviews with bible passages and warnings of the evils of drugs and alcohol. In 1997 Roberts would go on to enter the King of The Ring tournament and would beat his first round opponent Triple H and then do the same in the second round when he beat JBL.  In the third round, he faced Vader and won by DQ but took serious injury to his ribs. The final match had him face off with Stone Cold Steve Austin who made short work of the veteran, and during his crowning Austin spoke the words “Austin 3:16 Said I Just Whooped Your Ass,” making fun of Robert’s who was bible thumping. Roberts then would go on to feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler who used Jake’s past against him. In late 1997, WWE wanted Jake to wind down and end his career pushing The Snake out who still wanted to wrestle. While many would count Jake out and say he has no place in WWE 13’s Attitude Era roster, I would be so bold to say he help create it when he lost to Austin, kickstarting one of the biggest phrases in wrestling history! Jake “The Snake” Roberts would have been a perfect addition to the roster and would have added a fun moment in Austin’s Attitude storyline as you had to beat him for The King Of The Ring crown. Jake’s over all game rating would be 83 due to the fact he was on the tail end of his major pro wrestling career. Jake was the cinderella story when he returned and while it was a short return, he still had a huge impact on the Attitude of the WWE.

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So those are four Superstars that I feel were truly left out of WWE 13 and really deserved to be on the roster or at least DLC. But while I am on the topic of wrestling and Sunny, I should note that after WWE and wrestling days, Tammy Lynn Sytch joined up with another former wrestling valet Missy Hyatt who had opened a website called Wrestling Vixxxens and posed nude for the site causing the net to be abuzz about her move to bare all. I will not lie, when the news broke I surfed the net looking for the pics and was not disappointed when I found them! Part of me wonders if her decision to do this site hurt her chances of coming back to the WWE at the time.  I mean I think Vince missed the boat on really using Sunny/Tammy to her full potential. I know she had issues with drugs and what not but so did most of his locker room…Shawn Michaels anyone? It almost seemed like Vince made up his mind that Sable was going to be his top diva and for the most part that was a terrible idea as she turned out to be a pain in his ass as well as a moneymaker. I would love to see Sunny return to this day as a interviewer or manager and I for one will always be a Tammy fan.  

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One other thing:  as of late I have been finding old copies of Mad and Cracked Magazines at stores like Game Swap and Half Priced Books, and this has also reminded me of my youth. When I was growing up not only were comics, ghost stories and movie-based novels the only things that kept me reading instead of just playing NES or watching a film on VHS but so were Mad and Cracked Magazines that we would buy from Big Bear or find at Garage Sales. Back then I found myself getting a chuckle from these magazines as they spoofed popular movies, shows and culture all in a silly over the top way. But after reading through them once more, I found myself not only feeling nostalgic but also really looking deep into which magazine I really liked more then and now.  When I was younger, I would say that for sure I was more of a Cracked fan and owned and “collected” those issues more so then Mad, while my brother I would take a guess liked Mad a little more for I remember him having piles of the magazine and lots of the paperbacks. Take a look at these old pics below of a young me holding his prized Cracked magazines as well as me with an old Mad Spy Vs. Spy paperback in super cool Spider-Man PJ’s.

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Mad Magazine began in 1952, founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gains, and was at first a comic book put out by EC comics the same company that released comics like Tales From The Crypt and the Vault of Horror and switched to Magazine format with issue #24. It was a parody comedy magazine that would poke fun at films, shows and culture and would change hands many times finally being owned by DC Comics (Time Warner). The magazine is still going as of 2012 and has spawned many other products such as a board game, a Saturday Night Live-style sketch comedy show called Mad TV that aired on Fox, a cartoon, toys, masks, shirts and paperback books to name a few. Mad’s spokesman is the silent, missing front tooth, one eye lower then the other, big eared, red headed goof named Alfred E. Newman. Newman is the poster boy for Mad and has sparked the phrase “What, Me Worry?” and truly has become a true American pop culture mascot icon. Most people my age could tell you who Newman is and many would say that Mad was better then Cracked. Mad also offered such great features as Spy vs. Spy, Captain Klutz and the work of Don Martin. 

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Cracked Magazine began in 1958 as the brain child of Sol Brodsky, an artist for hire who later became Vice President for Marvel Comics, and was a inspired by the popular Mad Magazine. Cracked followed the same formula as Mad and spoofed movies, TV and pop culture with an even more silly approach. Cracked had a sense of humor about itself and even had used the tag line that it was there for people to buy after Mad had sold out at the newsstand. Cracked would be sold for awhile but slowly lost its hold in the market in late 90’s and was on life support during the 2000’s before it was canceled for good in 2007. But you can’t stop Cracked now as it’s been reborn as a silly news site that has been becoming more and more popular. Cracked’s poster boy was its janitor Sylvester P. Smythe a blonde haired, wide faced nerd who was a man of few words. While Smythe was not as popular or iconic as Newman, he still has his place in the hearts of those who grew up reading his magazine. Cracked didn’t have much in the way of merchandise besides a stuffed doll and some paperbacks. Some of Cracked’s other highlights included Shut Ups, The Uggly Family, Talking Blob, Sagebrush and busty sexy female reporter Nanny Dickering. 

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So I am sure you’re wondering after all these years what Magazine am I enjoying at this time in early 2013.  While it’s been hard to pick and each have their charms I still find that Cracked is the one I am enjoying more! Cracked has such a simple silly charm that is still putting a smile on my face making me chuckle. Cracked also was the company that used to release Monster Party and Monsters Attack scary, goofy and spooky stories that pleased the Monster Kid in me. So there you go, a quick look at Mad and Cracked Magazines.

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One other thing I would like to talk about (and I will from time to time as this blog moves forward) is the no budget movies I have made over the years.  So I figured I would start with the short film that started it all, “Teen Suicide” and it’s sequel “Suicide 2.” In 1997, I was a senior at Kettering Fairmont High School, and I hated the school with a passion.  While I had friends, I found that many of the staff were not as nice to strange kids who were into horror films and metal music, making my time at the school a bad experience filled with suspensions and detentions. At the start of the school year, the main principal (who was a cool guy) decided that he was going to put me into the media class to see how well I would do at making movies, TV shows and working as a school DJ on the radio station.  The first time he brought me himself as well accompanied by two security guards making the class wonder if Michael Myers had just been put in a room with them as they sat me away from everyone.  Then they took the teacher KB into the hallway. But with time this was probably the best thing Kettering schools ever did for me as I met some of my nearest and dearest friends in this class. Guys like Dave Wean, Matt Hoffman, Rion Neeley and Brandon Womeldorff all made me feel welcome and showed that they had just as many weird interests as I did. The media class also made it so that the rest of my schedule changed and this put me in a sociology class with Hoffman and Brandon. For one of the the class’ big projects we were to make a video about a subject we picked. Hoffman, Brandon and Myself were joined by Scott Harmon and a kid named Chris as the group and at first we picked serial killers (with my push) but decided to instead make a film based on teenage suicide.  So we all sat around class and the library and began to brain storm what was to become our first film.  This is what not only started Fairmont Productions but more importantly my love of making films! Before this I drew comic books and loved to write stories, but I never thought that I could make my own films.  Boy was I wrong. And the film began production in 1998.

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As we hammered out the ideas and plot of the film, we all were assigned roles as cast and crew. Matt Hoffman was cast as Matt, a teenage boy who is picked on every day of his life by bullies at the school.  The film would follow the last week of his life before he decided suicide was his only way out.  Hoffman was also a co-director. Brandon Womeldorff played The Car Thief and also directed, did some camerawork and edited the film.  The Car Thief was a trench coat wearing bully who got his jollies by car jacking Matt and stealing things like CD’s from him. Scott Harmon played the Kung-Fu Bully, a master of the fighting arts who loved to beat on Matt every chance he could get, and Harmon’s fight scenes with Hoffman in this movie could still be some of the worst ever filmed in Fairmont Media history.  Chris (none of us ever got his last name) just played a Bully in the school hallways who would knock the books out of Matt’s hands and try to stuff his face in the bathroom sink. Chris didn’t do much on this production and in fact was suspended during filming and even for the screening in class. I played a bully who would later be called The Silent Predator, who hung around wooded areas and tried to drown Matt in a stream, and I also did camera work, co-directed and picked most of the film’s soundtrack that was filled with bands like W.A.S.P. , Motley Crue and Pantera. The filming of the flick took place mostly at Fairmont High School but we also filmed at Hoffman’s parents’ house, my parents’ house, behind Woodlane Plaza and State Farm Park. During filming we kept talking about how the film’s end needed to make an impact.  We then decided to make the film silent, all but the moment where Matt would read his suicide note out loud to the audience. Filming took about a week with Brandon and I trading off who ran the camera, a giant Super VHS camcorder that weighed about 20 pounds, and each of us worked out our scenes with Hoffman. Looking back on the production of the film, we sure did torture Hoffman with lots of fake beat ups, being shoved around, making him jump on the back of a moving car, ketchup splattered on his head and the final stunt that still makes Hoffman feel like he was a major Hollywood stuntman (we will get to that shortly), and I must say while at the time he bitched a lot, and I mean a lot, he still was a trooper and went along with the “script”. I remember for my scene we chose to shoot behind Woodlane Plaza in Kettering (the same strip mall location that has Mavericks Cards and Comics and Christopher’s Restaurant as residents) right after a big rain storm making the small stream that runs behind the building deeper and faster.  The scene called for Matt to be walking along the stream as The Silent Predator appears from nowhere and shoves him into the water. On set that day was just Hoffman, myself and Brandon, who was running camera, and we went over the scene a few times and at first Hoffman agreed to be shoved into the water, but after watching the fast moving water rush by he changed his mind and the scene was changed to him almost going in but barely being able to hold on. So we all got into place as I wore a flannel around my waist and a Whitesnake band t-shirt I waited for my big scene.  Boom, my cue hit and a huge smile hit my face as I shuffled into frame and shoved Matt a few times toward the stream, and boom, he hit his cue and that was a wrap. But looking back at the scene, we should have shot it again so I didn’t have that goofy ass smile on my face that looked like David Lee Roth at a strip club! We later talked Hoffman into shooting a scene where it looked like he fell into the water, but it didn’t look right because he had different clothes on and the water speed and level were all wrong.  This deleted scenes has long been lost. But all this was leading up to our big pay off, the end of the film where Matt was to kill himself, and this act was one epic scene.  The final scene’s first part took place at my parents’ house in the kitchen as Matt would write his suicide note and speak the only lines used in the whole film.  Hoffman seemed very moody that day and was very argumentative towards Brandon and I and almost seemed like he was in the zone and on par with what the character Matt was doing. Hoffman sat at the table with a notepad and a pen and began to spout off this suicide note that seemed to mirror some issues he was having in his own personal life.  While I laughed then, I should have really taken the time to chat with my friend after this scene to make sure he was doing okay.  From there we went to a near by K-Mart and bought some ketchup to use as the fake blood and headed to State Farm Park to film the final scene atop a big hill that slopes, covered in rocks, small trees, trash and muck.  That’s when Hoffman who was holding his pellet gun told us he had an idea.  So we hurried and filmed his walk across a bridge to get to the hill and then made our way to the site and as we reached the top that’s when he told us “I am going to fall backwards down the hill when I shoot myself!” Brandon and I laughed and mocked him for his “shocking” stunt.  You see Hoffman at times would say and do outlandish things for attention, and we thought that’s what this stunt was just him running his mouth and not really intending to do what he said, but boy were we wrong.  As we set up the scene and filmed him looking at the gun and then putting it into his mouth, pulling the trigger and falling out of frame, we thought this was a wrap after we did a pick up shot of him on the ground with the “blood” on his head.  Then Hoffman sat up and said, “you ready to film me falling down the hill?”  Brandon and I looked at each other and gave a fuck yeah and went down the hill to film this epic scene. As we set up the shot and got the right angle Hoffman sat at the edge of the hill with his back towards us.  We could tell he was second guessing his stunt and seemed like he was now thinking of a way to get out of it. After some coaching and name calling, Hoffman pulled off the stunt and fell backwards down the hill, loosing control of his fall for a moment but catching himself before he got to hurt, making all my group of friends dubbing that hill Suicide Hill. We squeezed the “blood” onto his head and got the last shot of the film.

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For days Brandon edited the film on the AVID system, putting time and care into each scene, I sat with him many times as he worked, other days our pal Rion did. When it was done, Brandon asked Hoffman and myself to watch it in one of the editing rooms, and we all were taken aback by how good the film was.  Looking at it now, I am still proud of the film even with all its flaws and honor it as the first film I ever worked on. Then the day of the class showing happened, and our teacher made us come up and tell the other students what our film was about.  Scott Harmon and I took that job and rushed a quick introduction, and the lights went out.  The film started and had Matt walking down a school hallway in slow motion as the Bush song “In A Lonely Place” played, and we thought we had them. As the film ended and the credits rolled to Motley Crue’s” You’re All I Need,” Brandon and Hoffman stood in front of the class to answer questions about the film or what we learned about teen suicide.  Our classmates seemed stunned by what they had seen, and the only question we got was, “was that Pantera that played when he shot himself?”.  And then it happened; Hoffman said he had a confession to the class, and as everyone got quite he then proclaimed that he had tried to kill himself in the past and ran from the room, as the teacher and students looked on stunned.  Brandon was in the front of the classroom like a deer caught in headlights! While Teen Suicide was not a hit with our peers, a year later in 1999 Brandon wanted to make a sequel that was bigger, longer and filled with dialogue! The film’s plot had Matt (once more played by Hoffman) waking up after his suicide attempt and learning that he could not die and had been given a second chance to get revenge on the bullies who tormented him. Brandon returned as The Car Thief.  Scott Harman came back as Kung-Fu Bully and had yet another stinker of a fight with Hoffman, this time in the school’s radio station.  I returned as The Silent Predator who in this one seemed more demonic and acted almost as the ring leader, and we added Dave Wean as a Crazy Bully, Rion Neeley as the Roof Top Bully, Dan Salter as the Skateboard Bully and Linda Webb as Matt’s girlfriend who is cheating on him with the Car Thief. The film was filled with one Matt beat down after another, until he finally got his revenge on all those who tormented him and having his end battle with me in the woods of Hill’s and Dales Park as a red light shinned on us. Matt at the end of this one blows himself up with a self made bomb. While this film was a favorite to play at the group’s parties, to me just lacked the charm of the original and for the most part was more of a generic action film then a film with a message. When we left high school and continued making movies, we dropped Fairmont Productions and became Independent B Movie (a gathering of many production companies) and began selling our films on VHS at horror conventions like Cinema Wasteland in Strongsville and Fright Vision.  Teen Suicide and Suicide 2 sold pretty well. Years later Suicide 1-2 would hit DVD and match the sales of the VHS. Independent B Movie was riding high, not only the founders (Brandon, Hoffman, Myself) were making movies but so were Josh Weinberg, Dave Wean, Jason Gilmore, Patrick Neeley and my brother Bryan, making this tiny no budget film company seem like something special. We did start a Suicide 3 many, many years back but production slowed when turmoil in the group of film makers started to slow things down, but that’s another story.

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Now for a little horror host spotlight:  In March of 2007, the late night viewers of Kenosha, WI got their blood chilled by a show called Nightmare Cinema hosted by a Werewolf named Uncle Wolfman, who every full moon is locked in an abandoned TV station in the middle of nowhere on Bray Road by his vampire friend Vampiro. To kill time Wolfman shows a bad b-movie, a classic cartoon and TV show episode and waits out his curse in the station that is clearly haunted. Uncle Wolfman is your classic Lon Chaney Jr. style werewolf who speaks with a twisted snarl and raspy voice, drawing you in with every word. His style is very classic and each episode has it’s own mark and facts. Fans of horror host shows from the 60’s and 70’s should check his show out! I first heard of the Uncle Wolfman via the website Horror Host Graveyard and after seeing an episode or two I quickly became a fan. As of 2013 the show is still going strong.

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I took the chance on a full moon night and called the old station’s #, got a ring and an answer from Uncle Wolfman himself, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for you my readers. So with this let’s get onto “5 Questions For The Wolfman”!

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Me – So how is it being stuck in a haunted abandoned TV station every full moon?

Wolfman – Being stuck has to do with my temptation to feed.  So, Vampiro and I have an agreement; Vampiro guards me during the full moon by locking me up. In return, I guard Vampiro’s tomb during the day.  However, Vampiro occasionally forgets to feed me, so I order a pizza, and get the delivery driver as an appetizer.

 Me – What is your favorite film you have shown on your show?

Wolfman – I don’t know if I have a favorite movie from those we can show. I suppose that, being a Mantan Noreland fan, I like King of the Zombies, schlocky as it is. My true loves are the classic TV. We recently had an old episode of “Suspense,” featuring a rare television appearance by Bela Lugosi in an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Cask of Amontilado, and there was an episode of “Tales of Tomorrow,” called “Ahead of His Time,” which starred Boris Karloff. But I suppose my favorite was a cartoon episode from “The Milton the Monster show–the only one I know of in the public domain– called, “Zelda the Zombie.”

 Me – Who are the hosts that inspired you to become a horror host?

Wolfman – I only ever really watched Dr. Kadaverino (Jack LaBlond) on WITI chanel 6, Milwuakee, who was the only one on when I was very young. Later came the Original Svengoolie, Jerry Bishop, and later Son of Svengoolie, Rich Koz, both starting out on WFLD channel 32, Chicago (Son of Sven’s now just Svengoolie, on WCIU, Chicago and METV nationwide).

 Me – Growing up did you read comic books? If so, who is your favorite superhero?

Wolfman – I read many comics as a kid, from Archie to Sad Sack; I really liked the EC magazines, with Tales from the Crypt, The Witching Hour, all of those. I also like the Hulk, Thor and Conan the Barbarian–of which I still have all the comics, mags, graphic novels and the original stories by Robert E. Howard, which I reread from time to time.

 Me – If you could run with a werewolf pack from a horror film or TV show who would you run with?

Wolfman – Serious attempts at TV show werewolves suck. I wouldn’t run with any of those wannabes. Besides, if Uncle Wolfman really wanted to run with a pack, he wouldn’t suffer being locked-up three days a month.

 Me – Thanks Uncle Wolfman for taking your time and answering these questions.

But enough of wrestling, Tammy Lynn Sytch, Danzig,THQ, Remco, Cracked, Mad, Ben Cooper, Teen Suicide and Woolworths, let’s get down to Marvel Comics “The Saga of Crystar” 11 issue run! Remember: I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, its art and story. This review is thanks to a team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Bell, Book & Comic, 2nd and Charles, Half Priced Books and Amazon. And remember these reviews will have spoilers.

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 The Saga Of Crystar # 1  *** 1/2

Released in 1983   Cover Price $2.00    Marvel Comics #1 of 11

Prince Crystar and his brother Moltar rule the kingdom of Crystallium together after their father, the king, was killed in a battle that pits their side (The Order) against the evil of the Chaos. While both share the power, it’s clear that the kingdom respects Crystar more, causing the brothers to have a little rivalry. Lavour is Crystar’s girlfriend and her servant girl Ambara has a crush on the prince as well, but his best friend Warbow has a crush on the servant girl.  The Kingdom’s wizard Ogeode comes to the Princes and warns them that evil is coming and that this time he will be powerless to stop it.  When Zardeth, an evil wizard, enters the castle the seeds are planted, and the brothers have a fight leaving Crystar dead.  His brother Moltar takes over and steals Lavour! But things are not all good as Moltar and his new followers embrace The Choas and become living lava men, and Crystar is brought back to life and his followers are turned into living Crystal.  This leads to a war between the brothers that leaves Moltar’s ego bruised and Stalax with a life threating crack in his crystal body. Crystar hooks up with Ambara as Warbow is heart broken and even looses an eye to Zardeth who shoots him with an arrow! 

This is a great way to kick off a comic book series that is attached to a toy line and really serves as the back story of the characters. Crystar comes off as a likeable and nobel hero who has pride in his family, kingdom and friends and has almost a mix of Prince Valiant and King Arthur feel to him. You get the vibe from this first issue that Crystar will fight to the death to defend his kingdom. His men that include Warbow, Koth, Kalibar and Stalax are all given time tolet their personalities shine. Ambara, who is the love of Crystar, is shown to be a sweetheart who would do anything for her Prince. Feldspar, Uncle to both Crystar and Moltar, is an interesting character as he choices no side and takes both sides curses on himself (top half crystal bottom half lava) to show he respects both nephews.  I hope he is fleshed out more in the series’ in coming issues. Moltar is a man filled with jealousy and is easily fooled by the evil ways of Zardeth and then manipulated by the bitch Lavour. This is a solid comic that really flushes out all the characters and makes me look forward to reading issue 2. The art work is okay, but I wish it was a little better.  It’s odd that the ad art for the Remco toys looks better. The cover is amazing and very eye catching for the time and would surely draw in fans of Conan, Kull and Masters of the Universe. 

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The Saga Of Crystar # 2  ***

Released in 1983   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #2 of 11

Crystar is not pleased when he finds that his uncle Feldspar has removed him from the throne and is now acting as King to the kingdom until he and his brother work out their feud.  Meanwhile Moltar and Lavour are being fired up by Zardeth who wants them to get revenge on Crystar and take the kingdom by force and sends a team of lava men to kill him who in turn fail. Stalax is dying, and Crystar and friends must travel to get Ika, the daughter of Ogeode, who in turn becomes living crystal herself to learn of the secrets of the process.  When Crystar thinks the young woman is in pain, he goes in after her and both disappear.

This second issue is more about Crystar wanting to do the right thing and the brooding ways of Moltar who still thinks he is getting the shaft by not ruling the kingdom. Ika is an interesting character who gives her self to the mirror that transforms flesh to crystal showing that she is loyal to saving human life. Ogeode is kind of a dick in this issue as he forces his daughter to do this heroic act all so he can learn the secrets of the crystal without having to forever be changed. While the Crystar storyline is pretty good, I felt Moltar was not used well in this issue and almost seemed to much like a snot nosed kid who lost his video games for a month. Over all this is a good follow up issue that has better art work and a pretty cool cover.  So far I like where this series is going.

crystar 3 The Saga Of Crystar # 3  ***

Released in 1983    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #3 of 11

Crystar and Ika find themselves in modern New York in the home of Doctor Strange and his butler Wong and are confused by this new world filled with so many things they have never seen. Meanwhile back in Crystallium, Ogeode alongside Koth and Kalibar travel in the portal to find the missing prince and also end up in Doctor Strange’s study. While Doctor Strange and the goofball Ogeode try to find a way to send the warriors back home, Moltar sends Lava Men through a portal.  They also end up in Strange’s house and after a quick fight, they find their way home to Warbow, Ambara and the recovering Stalax.

This was a cool way to tie into the rest of the Marvel Universe.  Crystar and his crystal warriors once more come off a nobel fighters, as Warbow’s secret crush is still in the air as he looks at Ambara. Moltar once more acts as a general and sends flunkies to attack his brother. Ogeode is as brain dead and scattered as ever as Ika shows she is down to help The Order. I am not a huge Doctor Strange fan and only found myself liking the character when he appeared in other comics like Spider-Man or Man-Thing and in the very terrible yet fun 1978 made for TV movie.  So I actually find him a perfect fit for the myth and legend that this series is building for Crystar. Here’s hoping that Crystar and Moltar will meet again in a battle in the next issue to see which brother is better. The art work is good again and has the same style as the last issue, but this time I’m not a super fan of the cover. With that let’s jump into issue # 4.

crystar 4

The Saga Of Crystar # 4  **1/2

Released in 1983   Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #4 of 11

A father is telling his children a bedtime story about Crystar and Moltar and how they each became the warriors they are now.  He also goes a little into the back stories of Crystar’s friends like Warbow and Koth and shows that Moltar has called a meeting with Crystar and his Uncle Feldspar to speak of the unfair way he has been treated.  Moltar doesn’t understand why Crystar and his men get to stay in the kingdom but he and his followers have been pushed out, and if they are to smooth things over they must be even. Feldspar thinks about this matter and decides it’s only fair that Crystar and his men must also leave the Kingdom and are asked to leave by dawn.  Mad about this decision, they still agree to leave. In the end the father is Kalibar telling his own children this story on the night he must leave the Kingdom

This issue is good and solid, and I do like what they did for the twist ending.  Crystar is a little more bullheaded this time around and challenges his uncle’s word over the peace offering his evil lava brother is pitching. In this one, Moltar is just what I love to see in my comic bad guys: a smart brain and the ego of a mastermind. Plus we get a little more of the Warbow loves his best friends girl storyline as well as a little more background on Koth and Stalax. The art is good; the cover is bland.  While this is not the best issue in the series thus far, it still was a good read. 

crystar 5

The Saga Of Crystar # 5  ** 1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #5 of 11

 Crystar is in the Marvel office as the comics editor and writing staff try to figure out a good story for issue 5.  When he is finally taken into his world he is set to meet with Moltar and his uncle. Everyone leaves besides Ika and Stalax who try to use a spell to send the lava people far away from the Kingdom but instead bring the Chaos’ base to the Kingdom. Moltar and Crystar can’t agree on much except that Zardeth and Warbow need to stop fighting and that the base needs to be moved back to its right place. Zardeth teams with Ogeode, and together they use magic to set things right.

This issue starts out dumb, and the whole editor’s office thing is mind numbing.  But once we get back into the comic story line, it picks up. Crystar plays a big part in this story as does his girl’s love for him. Ika steps up in the issue and seems to be filled with rage over The Order being kicked out of the kingdom and wants to use her magic to rid them of The Chaos. Moltar comes off as a badass leader who has his wizard in check and a plan to take over the kingdom. As I said it starts off bad, but becomes pretty good by the midway mark. The art is good, and the cover is good making this issue an average read.

crystar 6

The Saga Of Crystar # 6  ***

Released in 1984    Cover Price .60    Marvel Comics #6 of 11

Nightcrawler of the mutant team the X-Men visits his girlfriend who is a part-time practicing witch, who felt a disturbance earlier and used her crystal ball to open a portal.  When Nightcrawler uses his teleaport ability in the apartment, he is sent to Crystallium where he is spotted by Stalax who thinks that he is a demon sent by the Chaos. Nightcrawler flees the scene and stumbles into the base of Moltar who as well thinks he has been sent to join him in his battle against his brother. Crystar and his men go looking for this demon, and Ika sneaks into Moltar’s base and hears them speaking of this “demon’s” arrival.  She is caught by Zardeth and Moltar who are going to kill her until Nightcrawler steps in and stops them.  Crystar and crew arrive to save her and befriend the mutant. In the end Ika sends him back to Earth where his girlfriend awaits.

Yet another fun adventure that adds a popular main stream Marvel character to the storyline. Nightcrawler fits in pretty well, but unlike the Doctor Strange appearance, this one seems to be more focused on the guest hero than on the book’s main hero, Crystar, who seems to have not much to do in this issue besides search for Ika and briefly chat with his Uncle. Moltar also doesn’t do much besides welcome his new “friend” and capture Ika. Though Lavour is given a little more in this issue, she comes of as a flirt as she tries to get info from Nightcrawler all the while hitting on him. Over all this is a fun crossover issue that really adds nothing to the main story arc but makes for a fun read.  The art is good, and the cover is so-so.  So let’s see if issue 7 explores the mian story more.

crystar 7

The Saga Of Crystar # 7  **1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #7 of 11

The Kingdom is under attack by Malachon and his hill men, and they plan on killing as many people as possible including Kalibar’s wife and kids.  Crystar and his men are told of this attack by Ogeode who sees it in a vision, and they come to the aid of the Kingdom, chasing off the hill men and helping the wounded. All the while Moltar, Lavour and Zardeth watch and plot a way to use Feldspar’s anger to their advantage as he scolds Crystar for coming into the Kingdom. Ogeode & Ika take Crystar and his men across the ocean to their hometown to get answers of why his uncle is acting so oddly, and Moltar strikes a deal with Malachon and his men to become living rock and fight on their side!

 This issue is packed with fighting of sorts as the Hill Men are made look like weak fools to Crystar and his men, and Malachon has an almost Jim Jones thing going as I could see his people drinking poisoned Kool-Aid if he ordered them to. But I’m honestly not sure whether he’s really needed in this issue.  He almost seems like he is just thrown into this mix to add more action and to have more butts for Crystar to kick, but we shall see where the character goes in the next issue. You feel bad for Ika, whose boyfriend in her home town turns on her because of her new crystal appearance, and her father acts as if she has not all ready made sacrifices to help The Order. Speaking of the Wizard’s hometown, not much is flushed out yet and I am not sure what to think of the Warrior Woman Shen who appears to be in charge. This issue is clearly used to build up the next issue that could be the huge battle we have all been waiting for. With that let’s get onto issue 8! Oh yeah, the art is still good, and the cover is pure cheese.

crystar 8

The Saga Of Crystar # 8 **1/2

Released in 1984   Cover Price .60   Marvel Comics #8 of 11

Crystar is troubled by an old memory of a time when the first war was going on, long before he and his brother were at war and long before they were transformed. The memory sends him into a day of mourning every year over the day his friend Captain Heyatt was killed while helping them fight a giant sea monster and chaos demons.  It’s also the day Koth lost his true love in the same battle. It’s also a day of mourning for Moltar, who’s sad over the loss of his friend. While Crystar tells his friends of this day, Ogeode is in a meeting with his fellow hometown council members.

This is a filler issue and once more adds backstory but nothing to the main story line of this comic series. The way Heyatt dies is stuff straight from old sword and sandal films and could easily be the death of Steve Reeves’ friend in some bad Hercules film, as he takes a thrown spear to the gut. Meanwhile, the new bad warrior Malachon who is transformed at the end of last issue is nowhere in sight! Ika and her boyfriend still have some beef with one another, and Moltar cries at the end for his lost friend from years ago. This issue also reminds me of Clash of The Titans for some reason.  I am sure it has to do with the giant sea monster. The art is okay and in some spots looks dull.  The cover is a step up from the last several.  Now that another filler issue is done, let’s hope they get back into the storyline, and we can see some sort of payoff coming. 

crystar 9

The Saga Of Crystar # 9  **1/2

Released in 1984 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #9 of 11

Ogeode is speaking to the Council of The Order about the war that is about to break out and tells his fellow townspeople that they need to help Crystar and his men in this battle when things go south.  The people are not sold on helping the men made of crystal. The Crystal men go around and speak of returning home when the acting King Feldspar shows up and wants to speak to the council of peace talks between the feuding brothers. But the peace talks are fake as Feldspar is really just Zardeth and the guards are Hill Warriors and Lava men.  They attack and kill many of the Council people until Crystar and his men show up and chase them off. Crystar also has a stare down with Malachon before the leader of the hill men retreats. In the end the Council decides to help, and Ika’s boyfriend Beek is turned into living Crystal.

This issue is the final straw for Crystar to go back and reclaim his thrown and stomp Chaos back into the hell pit from which it came. Zardeth and Malachon both show how cold blooded they are as they slaughter many unarmed men, and seem proud of their actions. At this point in the series you are at a fever pitch to have The Warriors of The Order stop the Chaos Warriors, and after every set up and every innocent death, this fever gets higher. Plus at this point in the series you also find yourself wondering why Feldspar is acting the way he is and wonder if he really doesn’t want his nephews to work things out because he is enjoying being king. As far as Crystar, at this point you can see a bullheaded hero who is shaping up to be one hell of a good king.  As for his brother Moltar, you get the fact he is second guessing his turn to the dark side but he still thinks he is the best choice to lead his people. With only two more issues to go ,the War to settle the score is now on! The art is good, and the cover is all right.  Let’s get ready to rumble with issue 10.

crystar 10

The Saga Of Crystar # 10  ***

Released in 1984 Cover Price .60 Marvel Comics #10 of 11

Moltar is not pleased about the attack that left many council members dead and hates the fact that both Zardeth and Malachon seem to have enjoyed the bloodshed. Crystar and his crew decide to go back home to try and end this war.  He confronts his uncle Feldspar about the throne.  Crystar agrees to step down but he also says that Chaos will not rule the Kingdom. As Crystar leaves the Kingdom, his crew tell him that they will fight by his side to bring down the Lava Men and The Hill People. Crystar’s brave warriors include his girlfriend, the Wizard Ogeode, his daughter Ika and her boyfriend Beek, Warrior Woman Shen and finally the Crystal Warriors Warbow, Koth, Kalibar and Stalax.  To his surprise, the local villagers call to arms and join Crystar’s army just in time as the warriors of Chaos come in from the sky and start a battle that leaves Koth missing and believed to be dead as he protects Ambara from attackers. In the end The Chaos Warriors retreat, and the warriors of Order mourn their friend and plan for an all out war.

This issue has it all: a thick good storyline that is an amazing build up for the final issue, Crystar finally reaching his breaking point and wanting his Kingdom to be happy and wanting to end the evil of The Chaos.  The shock of a member of the Order team missing and thought to be dead adds the drama, not to mention it also shows that at this point Moltar is loosing the respect of Zardeth and Malachon who both seem to mock him for not joining in on battles and how week his Lava Men are. It also shows how hotheaded Beek is and how he even seems to take an attitude with Crystar about what he thinks is right and wrong, not to mention the fact he is crystal now makes him a strong ally to have in this war even if he is an ass. Over all this is a great issue filled with a solid storyline, shocking drama and some butt kicking action. The art is well done and while in some spots seems a little rushed, it still looks good.  The cover on the other hand is just so-so and highlights the two lead warrior females Shen and Ika. Can’t wait to see how this saga ends and here is hoping for a great ending.

crystar 11

The Saga Of Crystar # 11  **1/2

Released in 1985   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics #11 of 11

Koth is not dead and is now a prisoner of Chaos warriors who plan on sacrificing him to the Hills once they get some information. Moltar starts to have second thoughts about his turn to evil and even has his girlfriend Lavour second guessing it as he doesn’t want to see his one time friend killed. Crystar and his men are gearing up to take the fight to The Chaos when by accident Ogeode brings in members of Alpha Flight from Earth that include Puck, Shaman and Northstar who decide to fight on the side of good! All this happens after Crystar butts heads with his uncle who is still trying to not pick a side. Moltar goes to Koth and asks him to please share some info so that his death will be quick and gets the cold shoulder leaving him pissed and lost for a direction.  That night Malachon takes Koth to an alter and is about to kill him when the warriors of Order show up and the final war begins! Crystar gets his revenge on Malachon as a member of The Order looses his life being a hero (who you ask, well you should read it to find out). In the end Zardeth is taken down as Moltar and Lavour turn on Chaos and rejoin the brothers, but before the evil wizard dies he takes away the curse of Moltar so that he can never touch his love Lavour again as she is left as a lava person. So the brothers are reconnected, and the Kingdom will now live on happy and chaos free.

This was a fun journey that had an almost rushed ending.  While the end is good, it could have been a hell of a lot better. The good turn for Moltar seems rushed this issue, and the fact they turned him back human shows that after this series, they didn’t have a plan for Crystar to ever return. Moltar was a great bad guy that at times was not used they way he should have been.  In many issues he seems to take a back seat to the evil wizard Zardeth and even the crude Hill leader Malachon. The fact that we never see the brothers in their new forms truly fight is kind of a let down and makes the build up to this final war a let down. Crystar is a great hero and really transforms as you keep reading by the end of this series he reminded me of so many iconic sci-fi heros like Luke Skywalker, Conan The Barbarian and even Optimus Prime in the fact he was strong willed, believed in the right thing and was noble and loyal to his friends and people. One storyline that I wished would have been fleshed out was the Warbow loving Ambara plot that seemed to fall flat the farther we got into the series. Plus, I would have liked to see a little more of Warbow’s as he clearly was Crystar’s best friend. All of Crystar’s warriors and friends were likeable and fun characters besides Beek who really was an ass most of the issues he was in and treated Ika like dirt if she did something he didn’t like. The guest heros in the last issue were a waste.  You could have taken the Alpha Flight goons out of the issue, and they would have not been missed.  They strike out with them but hit homeruns with Doctor Strange and Nightcrawler. The series as a whole is amazing stuff and is worth the read.  It’s was a great way to build up these characters that were created to sell toys that kids had no clue to who or what they were. Marvel should have given this series a little longer to grow, and they should have not rushed the last issue when they built up this payout to be a blow out of good vs. evil. Sadly as of early 2013, Marvel has not done anything with Crystar and company besides put him on a cover as a zombie for one of the Marvel Zombies miniseries. Going into this series, I had very limited knowladge of the character besides a few of the toys I had in my youth and now after reading this series I wish I would have done so much earlier because Crystar would have been a toy and comic series I would have collected then. 

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Man, this was a long update!  I had a lot to talk about from toys to horror hosts to video games to independent movies.  This update was filled to the brim with retro and nerd goodness. So next update we might take it a little smaller as we take a look at Blue Water Comics series for horror film Leprechaun for Saint Patrick’s Day! So see you then for the all green and gold coin loving good time.

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