The Undead Files: Bones

Growing up a comic reader in the 80’s and 90’s, the market was flooded with lots of options with many coming from the big companies like Marvel, DC and Archie, and during this time a powerhouse in the world of comics was Malibu! And like all good independent comic companies, they did a line of Horror Comics and even had some they mixed with humor.  For this Undead File, we will be taking a look at one of their more humorous offerings in a series called Bones! This weird comic series is one that has been in my life since 1987 when one of my Dad’s close friends bought my brother a stack of comic books for his birthday.  The first issue was in that pile, and it quickly became a comic that we both read and I became a fan of. And now in 2018 I am going to revisit that first issue and read the rest of the issues for the first time! So grab your anti zombie repellant as we head into the old bone yard and see what flesh eating ghouls we can find along the way.

First I want to give a crash course history lesson about Malibu comics before we get to all the spooky dead stuff, so sit back and enjoy. Malibu Comics was created in 1986 by Dave Olbrich, Tom Mason and Chris Ulm and was an independent comic company that was trying to get a foothold in the comic industry. They started very small with their releases being creator owned titles that were in black and white.  Their first release was Ex-Mutants with other titles like The Fist Of God, G.I. Mutants to follow, among many others. And very quickly they also gobbled up Eternity Comics, Aircel Comics and Adventure Publications and in 1989 those imprints did the Horror, Action, Drama and Adult Comics while Malibu was just for Superhero titles now. In 1992, Malibu was the company who published the first books from Image Comics and helped lead the fight against Marvel and DC that were dominating comic shops. Before 1993 Malibu had been releasing some great titles under all its imprints, but it was The Ultraverse line of comics that made them truly stand out by delivering cool new high quality hero characters like Prime, Night Man, Mantra and Sludge to readers.  They also upped their paper quality and used a great digital coloring process in order to make them stand out from their competition that now included Image Comics who became self published. Their Ultraverse comics did well for them, and many of the characters became popular with comic readers even getting the characters toys and in the case of Night Man, his own Live-Action TV Show! In 1994, they even opened up a branch called Rock-It Comics and did comic books based on popular bands like Black Sabbath, Pantara and Lita Ford.

But sadly the comic industry was in a decline due to the main two, DC and Marvel, pumping out gimmick filled releases of death of heroes, hologram & foil covers and all other types of cash grabs. Sadly comic buyers were limiting what comics they bought at the time and companies like Malibu suffered as readers dropped them from pull lists and still stayed with the comics of Marvel and DC. Malibu tried to stay afloat by cancelling lower selling titles. By mid 1994 DC Comics had shown interest in buying Malibu to own their characters as well as their coloring style, but by November of that year Marvel Comics stepped up and bought Malibu Comics and barely used the characters and had them mostly in crossover books before they disappeared shortly after 1996. Many rumors have went around comic shops on why Marvel does not use the characters anymore with much of the talk coming down to money as it’s said that for every Malibu title created now in comics, the creators of the characters get 5% of profits.  Other rumors that have been spoken are that the characters just do not fit in the currant Marvel plans all the way to the small hum that something is in the works with Malibu characters coming back to the Marvel Universe. With the character Topez showing up in Thor: Ragnarok, maybe there is hope. I would love to see Night Man in Daredevil comics, Prime join The Avengers and Prototype join sides with Iron Man.  Will this happen in the future? Well, that’s up to Disney and Marvel.

One of the world’s scariest places is said to be in the underground of Paris, France and houses over six million skeleton human bodies that many have been their sense the 1800’s! This place is called the Catacombs Of Paris and is a maze of tunnels with no lights that is filled with the dead and long maze like tunnels that easily a person could get lost in. Being lost in the catacombs I am sure is a nightmare for many of you and in fact this has even been the topic for some horror movies like “As Above So Below” and “Catacombs” showing that this area really is a scary place. In the early 1990’s an explore went into the catacombs armed with his video camera and shot all that he seen down in the tunnels that are forbidden for people to go into, while walking around he finds lots of rooms filled with bones and skulls and even some drawings on the walls from explores of the past. But during his time down their something seems to spook him and clearly as the tape goes on he is slowly building up to a panic as he realizes he is lost and the tape ends with him dropping the camera into some water on the ground and he runs off into the dark! So was this man truly in a state of fear that allowed him to make a terrible decision by leaving behind his camera that had the only source of light for him or was he being chased and possessed by the spirits of the dead? No one know for sure if this man ever made it out of the catacombs as his body nor he has ever been found. This lost explores video can be found on YouTube and aired on the ABC Family show The World’s Scariest Places”.

Zombie Cop is a 1991 shot on video film directed by J.R. Bookwalter that is a cheesy horror film that I really do think would make a great comic book series that mixes the elements of action, horror and camp. So for you readers that don’t know what this movie is about here is the write up from our friends at IMDB “During a drug raid, a narcotics officer confronts a strange Voodoo priest named Dr. Death, who is chanting. The officer and the priest shoot it out and they both wind up dead. Later, the two rise from their graves and return to the land of the living as zombies. Dr. Death is resurrected with a new mission in mind, to take over the world. The “zombie” cop enlists the aid of his old police buddies to stop the mad priest.” yeah it’s as cheesy and over the top as it sounds. My idea for this comic series would be that it would be set in modern times and Zombie Cop is still working for the side for good, but something wicked this way comes when a relative of Dr. Death shows up in town and wants revenge and raises demons to run amuck and take down Zombie Cop. The comic would have the odds against Zombie Cop and the demons would be very mean spirited and brutal in their killing ways and would be more gory than the film. If we did the book at Sparkle Comics I would say that for writer besides myself I would like to see Natalie Claude tackle it and if I had to choose an artist I would say Marc Gras Cotes or Jason Gilmore would be my choice. If another company was to tackle this I would like to see Rough House Publishing or a returning Fangoria Comics do it. Will Zombie Cop ever be a comic book…only time will tell.

Speaking of Horror Movies on April 15 2018 I held another Horror Movie Marathon at my cousins Stephen’s house that was filled with good food, great friends and lots of movie watching! The attendance was small but once more filled with fans who love Horror and love to be around friends and were Stephen Alexander, Theresa Daniels, Juliet Fromholt, Josh Weinberg, Jason Young, Jeremy Hoyt, Todd The Fox, Queen V, Sarah Sharp and Garrison Kane. As always we started this event at 7am with the first film being the 1945 film “The Vampire’s Ghost” that was about a Vampire in Africa that is the target of voodoo and Americans who are wise to his blood sucking ways. The low budget Horror Comedy “Swamphead” was next and about a cursed killing severed head that targets a group of friends out camping. The third film of the day was released by Dead Alive and was called “Mr. Ice Cream Man” about a murderous merchant of ice cream who targets a young man on his birthday. The 2016 film “The Crooked Man” took the fourth film spot and was about a nursery rhyme legend that is real that goes on a killing spree years after a young woman is charged with one of his past crimes is freed from an asylum. The werewolf film “Night Shadow” was next and was about a werewolf on a killing spree that leaves on family and the cops into a world of horror. The sixth thriller of the day was “The Headhunter” as 1989 release about a evil sprit brought on by voodoo on a killing spree in Florida and the two cops that have to stop it from claiming more heads for it’s trophies. “Sweatshop” was next and followed a massive brute in a wielders mask killing some party planers and goers during a warehouse rave. Next we had another Horror Comedy that was called “Bonejangles” that has a supernatural killer along with the cops who captured him being stuck in a small town that is being over taken by an evil witch and her undead minions, oh and did I mention Elissa Dowling stars as the witch! We needed to add some Italian Horror to the mix so “New York Ripper” was next up and is a slasher film about a duck-talking killer who targets women in the streets of the Big Apple. What would a Horror Movie Marathon be without a Fullmoon Entertainment film so I unleashed “Unlucky Charms” a film about a leprechaun and his magical friends being used by an aging model to drain the youth off models on a reality TV Show. Next up was the locally shot creature feature “Don’t F*** In The Woods” about a giant turtle like humanoid that kills any one foolish enough to make love in his woods. And our final film of the night was the 1976 Horror, Martial Arts and Gang movie called “The Devil’s Express” that has a New York kung-fu master taking on a Chinese demon freed in the subway tunnels by the foolish actions of on of his students. Over all another great all day Horror Movie watching marathon spent with good films, great friends and tasty eats.

Like always this was a super fun event and one that I always enjoy doing with friends! Like before I have chosen Stephen to give you his choice for the Golden Turkey of the day as well as his top three films as he was along for the horror ride from start to finish. Me being the host of the event and this fun little blog will go first and for me the Golden Turkey of the day had to go to Night Shadow as I found it to be a very boring and uneventful werewolf movie that sadly barely showed the beast until the very end, this one I had high hopes for and it just didn’t deliver a scary werewolf horror film. I also want to say that Swamphead almost made my Golden Turkey pick as it was really silly, but at least I chuckled a few times and that made it safe from getting the worst pick. The # 1 film of the event for me was New York Ripper as it’s a sleazy Italian Horror flick done by the godfather of gore Lucio Fulci and has a weird duck talking killer and plenty of nudity and gore to please fans of splatter. # 2 for me was The Vampire’s Ghost as I loved the mixture of voodoo and vampire and the African setting helped add to the over all mystery and thrill. I also really liked the bug eyed evil performance of Jon Abbott who played the vampire. My # 3 was a little harder to pick as I enjoyed many of the other films but I think I would have to go with Sweatshop as it was an over the top splatter film that had lots of brutal killings done to goofy raver kids. But to be fair Headhunter and Devil’s Express almost took this spot as all three were close in enjoyment for me and all for different reasons. For Stephen the Golden Turkey of the marathon was Swamphead as he had this to say about it “It was just completely ridiculous and there was so much that just made no sense.”! His # 1 film was The Vampire’s Ghost as he said this about it “I have an affinity for those old black and white horror films”. His # 2 was The Crooked Man as he almost was going to make it his number one. And his # 3 was Devil’s Express! And for a runner up he wanted me to let you readers know that it was New York Ripper. So with another Horror Movie Marathon in the books, I look forward to the next one as they really are a wondering time to be had.

The Golden Massacre award that is presented to the one killer who has the biggest body count of the day went to The Beast from the film Sweatshop as he smashed and crushed a little over 20 people in the movie! One of the best kills in the movie for this Horror fan was when The Beast rams a woman’s head through a metal grate on an elevator leaving her face looking like hamburger meat…really brutal. So here is to you The Beast for being the killing machine of this Horror Movie Marathon!

So now that the dead are all around use we should maybe find some shelter in this old tomb and hope that all the old undead that use to live here are out trying to find some human flesh to eat. So as we close this rusted old door I would like to thank Game Swap Kettering and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. As the sounds of the dead echo off these stone walls I want to also remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So lets take a look at the Undead Files and take a look at Bones!

Bones # 1  ***
Released in 1987      Cover Price $1.95      Malibu Comics      # 1 of 4

Seymour was an advisor to the King of Myrill and was well respected and loved his pampered life. The Kingdom was set as they had technology, food and peace, all was perfect…that is until the King died and with this his loyal soldiers and Seymour were murdered and placed in the tomb with him. Years pass and Seymour wakes up in the tomb rotting and yet alive and surrounded by The King and his Men who as well are rotting and they all have a hunger for human flesh! But things soon get bad for Seymour as he is picked on and bullied by his fellow undead in the tomb and finally decides that he has had enough and walks out of the tomb for good and into the Kingdom that is now in ruin and ran by Trolls! After being caught and beheaded by the Troll King, our skeleton hero as only a head pieces a new bottom together from bones in a body pit and is able to escape the Trolls but during his escape falls into a water well and washes up on shore and found by two young alive children.

This first issue starts off with a bang as we have Seymour’s skull flying through the air and landing in a massive body pit. From their we are treated to his back story of being a man who had the respect of his King and the Kingdom’s people, to becoming an Undead Ghoul who is teased and bullied to becoming a Skeleton on a mission to live and make his own way in the world of chaos around him. And reading this comic again after all these years, I found it still as enjoyable and still as brutal in spots as I did back then with the most gruesome scene being when the guards spear and kill Seymour in order to bury him with the King. Seymour as a man and undead is a peaceful man who enjoys to write plays, poems and stories and is wise and smart when coming to dealing with other people. But because he is such a good guy also makes him an easy target to be bullied by those who are stronger than him, but during this first issue we see him not only use his mind to survive but also his killer instinct as he takes out his anger on two sarcastic skulls stuck in the pit with him using a large rock. Plus at the end of this issue it makes you wonder what adventure awaits Seymour and will he eat the kids that find him to stop his hunger. The King and his Men are just undead ghouls now who just want to eat flesh and stay hidden in the tomb and play cruel pranks on Seymour. The Trolls are large, fat foul creatures who are lazy and as well like to kill the living and anything else including their own kind! Plus they are simple minded and that’s why Seymour is able to trick them and escape their Kingdom. The cover for this comic is very eye catching and I love the fact our hero is pounding on a tomb door for his life as a shadow of a Troll is sneaking up behind him. The interior art is also fantastic and is the style I love for independent Horror Comics of that time and is done by Bryon Carson who I would have love seen do a few comics based on Horror Movies. So to sum it up issue one of Bones is fantastic and really makes me look forward to reading the next issue, and whats cool is this will be the first time I have read the rest of this series!

Bones # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987      Cover Price $1.95      Malibu Comics      # 2 of 4

Seymour awakens and is hungry and wants to scare and eat the kids, but he soon finds out these kids are brats and they rip him apart and fling his skull into a hot water gauzier firing him our like a cannon ball and through the window of Ursula who works for the Boy King Drake in the Kingdom of Spontoon and after Seymour and her chat she takes the skull to the King and his Knight Maddog who want to know the location of Myrill as they want to steal all the gold that has been left behind. Maddog bullies both Seymour and Ursula until he gets the location and after doing so he and his men set out to bring back the riches and Seymour tells Ursula that he has sent them on a death mission as the suns heat and the goblins that await them will for sure end Maddog and his men’s lives. Ursula tells Seymour about the murder of the prior King and that he was beheaded and she thinks Maddog was the murder! Seymour then tries to get Ursula to be on his side to take over the Kingdom and his plan includes killing the Boy King and she does not want to have anything to do with it and plans to smash Seymour with a hammer when Maddog enters the room with an arrow in his forehead and looking for answers to why he was backstabbed.

This second issue has Seymour once more being the victim of bulling as two youngsters rip him apart and torment him for their own amusement. And after this torment he at least finds himself in a Kingdom with what he thinks is a new friend. In this issue Seymour is really loosing his human side as he really wants to eat humans and is going through a weird power hungry rage as he thinks that he should have taken the thrown at least once in his lifetime. I also like that in this issue he uses his mind in order to try and get ride of the King’s right hand man who has also has a very dark side. Ursula is a woman who practices necromancy for the Kingdom who is very bored in her job and hates most of the people in power as she thinks they are the ones who beheaded and murdered the former King. Sadly for her the scheme of Seymour has put a target on her back as the Knights think she was apart of their slaughter. The Child King Drake as well seems bored with being in charge and just wants toys and ponies! The real evil s.o.b in this issue is the head night named Maddog who is calling the shots more than the King and who uses intimidation and death to get what he wants, and he is so strong that even an arrow to the head does not stop him! This issue leaves us on a major cliffhanger as well as Ursula is about to smash Seymour and Maddog has returned and is in a clear rage….wonder who will survive and what will be left of them! The cover of this issue is ok and is nothing special and looks like a number of other independent comic covers that are filling quarter and dollar bins the would wide. Bryon Carson once more does the interior art and it’s as good as the first issue and I must say I enjoy his work. Well this second issue is a solid follow up and proves this series has gas in its tank and makes me look forward to reading issue three.

Bones # 3  **
Released in 1987      Cover Price $1.95      Malibu Comics      # 3 of 4

Maddog is not pleased and wants to kill both Seymour and Ursula and his blind rage is making him charge like a bull, and Ursula uses a spell and makes a T-Rex appear to distract the mad knight. But the T-Rex does not slowdown Maddog who attacks the beats and rips it apart with his bare hands and Ursula pulls a trap door switch that causes her and Seymour to fall into a bottomless pit. The Pair fall for days and finally find that the pit is not so bottomless as they land in a village filled with simpleminded people who believe that they are Gods that have fallen from the sky. Old Coot is their King and he has Seymour and Ursula locked into a hut, were Seymour comes up with a plan to rule the village and build his own empire! In the morning as Seymour speaks one on one with the villagers telling them that they are all now soldiers and not farmers, Ursula goes to Old Coot to try and warn him of the uprising, but the old King admits he don’t care as he himself only uses the villagers for his own gain and as they talk Old Coot is crushed by a fallen horse that is ridden by Maddog who has lead his army into the bottomless pit to get revenge on Seymour and Ursula! The Knights kill most of the villagers and take Ursula prisoner and football kick Seymour into the ocean.

This third issue is a weird one…wait this whole series is weird this one is just a little more odd as the plot is Seymour and Ursula falling throw a pit and landing in a weird village that thinks they are Gods that ends up being under attack from Maddog and his knights who want to take over the village and get cold revenge. Seymour in this issue is more and more power driven as he lies in order to gain power and wants to cause a war and eat human flesh! Seymour has slowly turned more and more evil over the past issues and it’s clear that while he likes Ursula he would turn on her if she got in his way. While Ursula is a good person who is a bad Necromancer and has been stuck in bad situations cause of all the ego driven power of Seymour. King Old Coot is a weird and yet wise man who has himself used his people to make his own life better, very cool and odd character. Maddog is one mean knight who is willing to fling himself and his men into a believed to be bottomless pit in order to get revenge on people who set him up to die, oh yeah and he uses his bare hands to kill a T-Rex! This issue slips a little and is not as horror and comedy filled as it seems more like a comic that had a little more of a message about peoples will to follow something. I do like that this issue leaves you on a cliffhanger as Seymour has been kicked out to sea, Ursula is a prisoner and could be killed by Maddog who has now taken over the village and claims it for his own! The cover of this issue is a little weak and once more screams cheap bin, the interior art by Bryon Carson is solid and good and to sum this one up its middle of the road a good issue but nothing special. So lets move onto the fourth and final issue of this cool Malibu Comic series.

Bones # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987      Cover Price $1.95      Malibu Comics      # 4 of 4

Seymour’s head is eaten by a giant whale and while inside the belly of the beast he meets the skeleton heads of a pirate ship crew as well as see’s their ship and their Captain Long John Ugly who is mean but is quickly smashed by Seymour who finds a new body in the whale and now Seymour is the Captain and he comes up with a plan that frees him and his new ship and crew from the Whale. Seymour is filled with power and rage and wants his new undead pirate crew to help him get revenge on all those who he thinks have wronged him like Maddog, The King, Ursula and the Trolls and while heading their way they come across a small boat that is filled with wise and spiritual men who are all slaughtered by the word of Seymour who in turn feels bad for what he has done and this makes his crew kill him…and this time Seymour is dead and wakes up in Hell! He soon finds that he is on trail for all of the crimes he has done while undead and his being trashed by all those he has killed with the now dead Ursula being the only one to defend him. In the end Seymour defends himself and as this is only his first offense is sent to ghoul training and will allowed to go back to his Undead world, were he will be a better scary creature of the grave.

This final issue in the journey in the life and undead life of Seymour takes us from him building an army of dead skeleton pirates to being killed again and being put in the hot seat while being judged in Hell and while it was a cool idea with some cool moments sadly the send of Bones is a little of a letdown. Now let me explain why I feel this way during this four issue mini series we watch as Seymour was the most trusted right hand man of the King, then in death becomes a victim of bullies who then turns into a power hungry skeleton who wants to be a ruler who later feels bad for all the mayhem he has caused only by the end to be right back to being a power hungry goofy ball flesh eater…so while the character grew in the end it all was really the same for him. I really did like how in this issue all of the people/creatures he killed or lead to be killed all come back to share their story of how terrible he is so the likes of King Old Coot, Captain Long John Ugly and Ursula to name a few are all in Hell at his trail and it made for a great way to cameo all the characters from the past issues. Seymour while kind of a jerk in much of this series still is in his own way a likable main character who does do bad things that ends up hurting himself and others, but seems to really feel bad when he is faced with the horrors he has done…well that is until he is told he will get another chance. Seymour really is a character you find yourself loving and hating at the same time and that perfect for an undead skeleton who’s the star of a horror comedy comic. Ursula the poor Necromancer who meets her fate at the hands of the Knight Maddog is swept up into this twisted web of goofy horror thanks to Seymour and its kind of a letdown as your not really sure how she died. The Skeleton Pirates are a cool touch and were in this comic long before they became cool again in Independent Comics with Captain Long John Ugly and his dead parrot being the standouts. So while this series ends it clear that maybe another mini series might have been in the works as the ending is very lackluster and ends on a “Here We Go Again” kind of joke…pretty disappointing really. The cover for this issue is fun and pretty eye catching with the use of the color orange, and the interior art done by Bryon Carson is good stuff. So while the final two issues in Bones are just ok the first two issues are lots of fun making this a Horror Comedy Comic that I would recommend to fans of this style of humor and indie comics. Check out the art below to see the style of Bryon Carson as well as the glory of Seymour and his friends.

So it seems like the dead are starting to return to their graves and I really had fun looking back at Bones and reading some of the issues for the first time on this update. While doing this update I really did find myself missing Malibu Comics as they did so many great comics from Horror all the way to Superheroes and offered something different from Marvel and DC, but with Marvel owning them and not doing anything with them for many, many years we can only hope that they decide to someday bring the characters back to comics. But for our next update we are leaving the world of the dead behind and will again try to travel to space with Juliet as she takes a look at Forbidden Planet! So until next time read a independent comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. Hope your ready for a space time adventure my next update!

Let’s Go Ghostbusters…Let’s Go!!!

Who you gonna call…Rotten Ink! Okay maybe not, but if you’re a kid of the 80’s you shouted Ghostbusters or maybe even He-Man like the kids at the birthday party did in the film Ghostbusters II! One thing is for sure, Ghostbusters was super popular with kids and adults and became a cult classic that spawned a movie sequel as well as a number of video games, toys, comics and cartoons. But did you know that the Ghostbusters that we all knew and loved might have been the “Real” ones, but they were not the original ones as Filmation made a live action TV Show called Ghost Busters in 1975 that would spin off into a cartoon series in 1986, the same time that the 1984 comedy hit Ghostbusters debuted its spin off cartoon The Real Ghostbusters.  This was a confusing mess for young kids who were fans of Ghostbusters as the cartoon and toys would come out at the same time, and I am sure the mix up of the figures ruined many Christmases. Do you kids of the 80’s remember just how big of a cartoon company Filmation was? I mean they made the likes of “He-Man Masters Of The Universe”, “Bravestarr”, “New Adventures of The Lone Ranger” and “Aquaman” to name a very few! I wonder if friends like Josh Weinberg, Todd The Fox, Garrison Kane and Stephen Alexander would ever be interested in having a Saturday Morning get together where we watch classic cartoons we all grew up with and eat bowls of cereal..hmmmm…if this ever happens I will for sure blog about it. So while we all are winding down from July 4th and all those wonderful fireworks as well as trying to stay cool from the summer time heat, I think it’s time to chill out and take a look at The Ghostbusters!

Masters of the Universe Season 1filmation logoTrix Cereal

In 1975, Filmation made a live action kids show called “The Ghost Busters” that reunited F-Troop actors Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker as Kong and Spencer, two goofy detectives who research paranormal occurrence along with their pal, a trained gorilla named Tracy. They ran business from a rundown office that had a payphone, and they would get their missions via tape recorder left in the general store by a mysterious man named Zero. They would use a Ghost De-Materializer on the monster or ghost they were busting and Kong would scream ZAP as he sent the ghoul away. The ghosts included Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Red Baron, Billy The Kid and The Canterville Ghost, and our heroes would end up defeating them in a very slapstick manner. The series only lasted one season and ran for a total of 15 episodes. The show would later come out on VHS and DVD, but those are now out of print and the DVD complete season set sells for over $200.00!! Growing up as far as I can remember I never saw an episode as I was born in 1979 long after The Ghost Busters had been sent out to pasture. I can remember seeing the VHS tapes at Hearts but never had an interest in asking my Mom to get them for me, and thats odd as I loved monsters and ghosts and this would have been right up my alley! Truth be told, even to this day I have not seen an episode of The Ghost Busters, and I hope to change that sometime soon as I would love to get the DVD set. I should also note that Bob Burns, legendary cult film collector, was the man in the monkey suit as he played Tracy. After the series ended and in the 80’s when Colombia Pictures began working on a comedy film called Ghostbusters, they paid Filmation royalties to use the name showing that this off beat kids show is truly the original Ghost Busters!

Filmation Ghostbusters VHS vol 3filmation ghostbusters live cast 1filmation ghostbusters live cast 2

In 1986 Filmation made a cartoon sequel to their 1975 failed live action kids show and it was clear that this show only was made to cash in on the huge popularity of the 1984 Ivan Reitman film and the cartoon series it spawned as well in 1986. Filmation also made this series out of revenge as they pitched the idea of turning the 84 film into a weekly toon series and Columbia wanted nothing to do with them and went to their rival DIC to make The Real Ghostbusters! Filmation’s cartoon followed the sons of Spencer and Kong who were named Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spencer Jr. who along with Tracy the Gorilla go up against Prime Evil, an evil wizard who had unleashed and united evil sprits from around the world and has kidnapped their fathers! The sons have inherited the ghostbusting business and must learn how to capture ghosts and find a way to free their fathers. The series was not a hit, and while a total of 65 episodes were made, it failed to capture the kids and proved not to be a rating winner for stations that aired it. I only slightly remember it being on and like 99% off the kids of the time, I was too busy watching The Real Ghostbusters and many other cartoons and just thought that this series was cheap spin off. In fact I think the first time I ever saw an episode of this cartoon was at my Dad’s friend Paul’s house when I watched it with his son Will.  I can remember him having a few of the figures, and I was shocked to see that someone owned one. I will get into the toys and my first impressions of them a little later. The cartoon has come out in two volume DVD sets thanks to BCI that make up the whole series and select episodes made it to VHS back in the day. I must say that as a kid I might not have watched it but I did find myself as an adult really enjoying it, and me and my girlfriend Juliet go around singing the show’s theme song.  If you have not heard it, look it up on Youtube and be prepared for it to be stuck in your head. While this cartoon might not be as iconic as The Real Ghostbusters, it still holds an amazing charm and made its mark on the world of toons.

Filmation Ghostbusters DVD vol 1Filmation Ghostbusters castFilmation Ghostbusters DVD vol 2

Schaper Toys, the company who made such classic games as Ants In The Pants, Cootie and Don’t Break The Ice, was the company who also made the action figures for Filmation’s Ghostbusters, and I must say they did an outstanding job on the figures designs. A total of 13 figures were made and each came with different accessories and a mini comic book.  There were also some vehicles showing that Schaper believed in this cartoon series and was hoping that they as well would hit gold with the action figures. Growing up, I only have some small memories of fellow classmates having any of these figures and I didn’t have any until I was much older. While the toyline much like the cartoon was not a super smash hot success they still had an impact of those kids who collected them. I almost wish I would have bought them as I could have had some fun toy cross over adventures with the Real Ghostbusters that could have been one of the most epic spooky toy war adventures for all the ages.

Tracy the Gorilla toyPrime Evil toyFangster toy

I first saw Filmation’s Ghostbusters figures at Cub Foods, a grocery store that was located in Sugarcreek, Ohio that had not only a wicked breakfast cereal aisle but also a tiny cool toy section that had lots of Hot Wheels, Barbies and Masters Of The Universe and yes those Ghostbusters. At the time, my dad worked for the Cub Foods that was by the Dayton Mall, but we lived in Waynesville and we would travel to the Sugarcreek one from time to time to go shopping. Most of the time my brother and I would walk around the store and check out the cereal and chat about comics, movies, cartoons and TV shows and then head toward the tiny toy aisle and see what He-Man figures they had in stock. Well on this grocery adventure what greeted my eyes was figures that said Ghostbusters and the one I saw was not Peter Venkman nor even Dracula but that of a Gorilla named Tracy as well as other characters that I had never seen on the cartoon “The Real Ghostbusters” and I wondered who were these generic characters! Then my brother and I remembered that there was another cartoon that was made that at the time all kids believed was a rip off of the Real Ghostbusters, and then I started to kind of want them as I imagined them being a part of my Ghostbusters adventures and all the Filmation ghosts would have made great additions for Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston to bust. We also were interested because they came with a mini comic and we both loved the mini comics that came with He-Man, Super Powers and M.A.S.K. to name a few. So I went to my mom and dad and asked for one of the figures that if I remember right was Prime Evil, and they told me no.  In my youth I never did get a Filmation Ghostbusters figure; it was not until my late 20’s when I ended up picking one up from the flea market for $1.00 and that figure was Tracy The Gorilla. Sadly that Cub Foods as well as all the others in the area went out of business and while I was not as attached to them as I was Big Bear/Hearts, I still hated to see it close. So this update as well is not only for Filmations Ghostbusters but also all those who worked for Cub Foods over the years.

Cub Foods Logo

So are you ready to bust some ghosts with your specter snare and ghost gun? I know I am, but first I must thank Bell, Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these in stock as well as remind you that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s keep repeating to ourselves “I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts” and let’s get ready to go on a ghost hunting adventure with Tracy The Gorilla and see what First Comics had to offer to help push Filmations busters.

Filmation Ghostbusters 1

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters # 1  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics   # 1 of 4

It’s Halloween time and Jake, Tracy and Eddie are having a party at the office and invite Belfry, Futura and Jessica Wray to celebrate this spooky holiday. Meanwhile in the past, Prime Evil and Mysteria decide to call upon all the ghosts and attack the castle of King Fred! The kingdom’s wizard Morton comes up with the idea of calling in The Ghostbusters from the future to help them chase off Prime Evil and allow the kingdom to have their Hallow’s Eve Feast by the fire! They show up and make short work of Mysteria as they bust her and make their way to the castle where they figure out that if they can crack a code from an old spell book, it will clear out all ghosts and ghouls within 20 miles of the castle and will send Prime Evil and his goons away. Prime Evil sends Sir Trance-A-Lot to stop the Ghostbusters, but with the help of the Princess they distract him and bust him as well.  Morton and Jessica crack the code and send Prime Evil packing! In the end, the feast happens and The Ghostbusters are the guests of honor.

This is a really fun kids comic based on a cartoon that adds puzzles and other activities to entertain the readers. The story is very simple and has Prime Evil showing up in the past to collect ghosts and spirits and the kingdom he has invaded calls in the help of The Ghostbusters from the future.  Together, they chase off the evil and have a good time on Halloween. Jake and Tracy seem pretty together and by all account rush in to help save the day.  They are the ones who bust Ghosts and come up with the plans to set them up to take them down. Eddie is a chubby coward who spent more time figuring out what costume to wear for the office party and wanting to turn back than figuring out a way to run off Prime Evil! Belfry is a tiny little pink bat who has a good heart but is a goof ball much like Snarf in Thundercats. Jessica Wray is a good looking reporter who goes on cases with the guys from time to time and is smart and clearly has a crush on Jake. Futura is a stunning blue skinned woman from the future who also helps and joins the guys on busting ghosts. Morton The Wizard along with King Fred and the Princesses are nice touches to the story and add the drama of people being scared of the unknown who must fight the fear in order to save what they love. Prime Evil, much like all bad guys of 80’s cartoons, has the power to stop his enemies but always puts it into the hands of his henchmen who screw it all up! Speaking of his henchmen I should also give you a run down of the ones who appear in this issue like Sir Trance-A-Lot who is a skeleton knight and Mysteria who is a raven-haired mist spirit that looks like Lilly Munster, Morticia Adams and Vampira got mixed in a blender. Fans of the cartoon I am sure would enjoy this simple first issue, but fans of The Real Ghostbusters would use its simple nature against it to show that it was too childish. I also found it a nice touch that Morton knew Jake and Eddie’s dads as they helped many moons ago to bring down a dragon that was tormenting the kingdom. The artwork done by Howard Bender is fantastic and looks as if you are reading the cartoon, and is some topnotch work for a comic based on a cartoon at the time. I can’t wait to see what issue # 2 holds as I found this one a very entertaining read and a nice way to start off the series. The cover is very eye catching and is just flashy enough to catch the attention of fans of the cartoon as well as those who were not.

Filmation Ghostbusters 2

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25     First Comics    # 2 of 4

Jake, Eddie, Tracy and Belfry get a call to go to the museum by Dr. Brown who has seen Prime Evil along with Scared Stiff, a robot skeleton who falls to pieces easily and can build things, as well as green skin sorceress Apparitia who are using a machine to bring dinosaurs back to life! As The Ghostbusters travel to the museum, Prime Evil brings three dinosaurs back to life that are T-Rex, Brontosaurus and Pterodactyl, and they are all running amuck.  As The Ghostbusters arrive, Tracy and Belfry set up and capture Apparitia as the whole group brings down the Pterodactyl. They trap the Brontosaurus in the lunch room as he is friendly, and they trick the T-Rex with a giant balloon and a machine Tracy made that turns the giant beast into a pile of coal! In the end the museum is happy for the help but a little annoyed with the loss of the T-Rex bones!

This second issue also holds the charm of the cartoon and has even a more simple plot as Prime Evil brings back dinosaurs and The Ghostbusters come to the rescue and save the day by running off Prime Evil and his goons and stopping the dino rampage. In this issue, Tracy the gorilla is the true smart one as he invents the machine to stop the T-Rex as well as comes up with most the plans that work to capture and stop the bad guys. Belfry makes himself useful and helps the gang capture both the Pterodactyl and Apparitia showing that the goofball characters can be heroes. Jake, while clearly the leader of the group, has some ideas and shows he’s brave as he shows no fear in tricking the man eating T-Rex. Eddie is as goofy as ever and even causes accidents by being a bumbling fool, and as always has the spine of a jello mold left out in the summer sun. Prime Evil once more has a good idea and leaves its success into the hands of his minions who amount to a shaking bucket of bolts known as Scared Stiff and a sexy evil sorceress named Apparitia, both of whom try but fail. Speaking of Apparitia I would love to see cosplayers like Ivy Doomkitty or Nicole Marie Jean dress as this character! Kids at the time who like dinosaurs and monsters I am sure got a kick out of this issue and I will say it was a great issue to build up readers. The art is once more done by Howard Bender and is fantastic and makes me ready to read issue # 3 so let’s waste no more time. And oh yeah the cover on this issue is ok and while not as cool as the first issue’s, it does capture the mood of the story.

Filmation Ghostbusters 3

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 3   **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics    # 3 of 4

The Ghostbusters are gearing up for Christmas when they get a call from a family that is having a ghost run amuck in their home throwing around all the presents and smashing the Christmas tree.  As they are leaving, they get a call from a department store who is having a ghost issue in the bike department! Two Christmas ghosts running wild miles apart in places that are over 100 years old and really close to each other. At the family’s home, the sounds of crying can be heard, and at the store the ghost is really mad about bikes.  The Ghostbusters must figure out a way to help both as the holiday is being ruined for many. So Jake, Tracy and Eddie travel 100 years into the past and find out that the ghost in the house and store are connected as the house one is a grieving mother whose son went missing and never returned, and the store ghost is the missing kid who got lost and was locked in the store over night and died from not wanting to talk to strangers. The Ghostbusters save the kid and bring him home and travel back to the future and find that they have solved the issue and have a good home cooked dinner with the family.

The first issue was a Halloween Special, now this third issue is a Christmas one that has the storyline of a family’s past holding the secrets of haunts that are happing in present day and The Ghostbusters must go back in time to set things right and save a child’s life! This issue has no Prime Evil or any of his goons causing the issue and in fact no ghosts are seen at all making for a pretty tame yet entertaining issue. Tracy and Jake seem to be annoyed with each other at the start of the issue but soon work together in order to save Christmas. Eddie this time around is the more focused one and is really in the spirit of the holiday. James is the kid who haunts the store and it makes me wonder how he died in the store after only being locked in it for a night? Then it makes you wonder how dumb is he if death is a better option then asking a store clerk for help! This issue is very cheesy, and the only thing that could have set it over the top and made it a full fledged hunk of limburger is if Prime Evil at the end would have been having Christmas Dinner with them all! The art once more was done by Howard Bender and is fantastic as the others before have been. The cover for this issue is okay, and while it has Christmas themes to it, they should have gone a little more crazy with it. Over all another solid issue and shows that First Comics put time and care into this series, and I can’t wait to read the 4th and final issue to see if it keeps the charm all the way till the end.

Filmation Ghostbusters 4

Filmation’s  Ghostbusters  # 4  **1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $1.25    First Comics    # 4 of 4

It’s dinnertime, and Eddie is making something special as Tracy is making banana soup and Jake and Belfry are ready to eat when they watch a TV Report done by Jessica Wray in the everglades swamp in Florida where local Melvin Loner has seen ghosts in the swamps as well as the alligators dancing to haunting music. The Ghostbusters drop what they are doing and head to Florida.  In the swamps Prime Evil along with Scared Stiff and Float-Zart, a ghost maestro, who all have a plan to take over the swamp and make it their new home base. The Ghostbusters arrive and Melvin acts as their guide.  They are able to bust Float-Zart as he tries to keep them away from Prime Evil, but all things don’t end well for Prime Evil as the experiment Scared Stiff was working on explodes and blows up their base! In the end the swamp is safe, and our heroes return home to a long over due dinner.

This final issue shows that First Comics really knew how to handle this cartoon property and made a good mini series that sadly ended only after 4 issues when 6 was planned. This issue’s story has The Ghostbusters heading to the everglades to stop Prime Evil and his goons and barely have to put anytime in busting as they go down easy, and they once more leave the scene of the haunt as champions of good. Jake, Eddie and Tracy work great as The Ghostbusters and all of them are likable with Tracy being my favorite because who in the world wouldn’t like a hat wearing gorilla who busts ghosts! I also really liked all the side characters as Belfry was not nearly as annoying as he could have been, Jessica Wray is a nice normal straight laced character who helps report the truth of hauntings and Futura is interesting and a time traveler who enjoys busting ghosts in her spare time. The best part of all these sidekick characters is that they are not over used, making each time they appear something special. Prime Evil, while powerful and even frightful, seems to be kind of lazy in his haunting as he always passes off the hard work to his goons who clearly cannot get the job done as they all are beat easily. The one letdown is that the future werewolf ghost Fangster does not appear as I would have liked to have seen him in action and fail. The Ghostbusters is a kid comic series that I could say gave most of Star Comics a run for their money and showed that all the people involved cared about making quality stories with good art and fun puzzles.  I am wondering if First Comics had to pull the plug on the series due to the cartoon and toyline failing or if sales on this issue were too poor to continue. The cover of this final issue also is well done but kind of looks like the 1st issue’s making for an eye catching and fun cover that has a touch of something familiar. The art for the whole series was done by Howard Bender, and he did fantastic work.  I would have loved to have seen him work for Star and on comics based on the likes of My Pet Monster, Go-Bots or Commander USA if he ever got his chance at kid comic greatness. This is a mini series that shocked me as I feel it was way better than I ever could have imagined and lived up to the toon it was based on making a nice addition to fans who watched, and I would say that this is a series worth reading for sure. Below is some artwork from these issues, and you can see how Bender’s art looks just like the cartoon!

Filmation Ghostbusters Art 1

So while these Ghostbusters might not be as popular or as beloved as The Real ones, they still made an impact in the world of cartoons, toys and comics for those who followed their busting adventures! I should also note that the amazing voice actor Peter Cullen did the voice of Eddie Spencer Jr. in the cartoon, and for those who live under a stack of old 90’s comic books, Cullen is best known for voicing Optimus Prime in Transformers.  Speaking of a robot, our next update will be all about The Terminator in honor of the 5th film in the series coming out this summer! So until then, read a comic or three, support your local horror host and don’t be afraid of no ghosts! See you all next time.

The Terminator logo

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

My mother was 7 or 8 when she attempted to watch the 1933 film King Kong with her mom when it aired on TV.  She watched as a group set out to sea to make a movie and landed on an island, and when King Kong showed up just the sight and sound of the beast scared her enough to make her hide behind her mom’s chair! She would peek around the corner and shiver in fright of the sight of the giant ape. Way before the gross out films of the 60’s made by the likes of Hershel Gordon Lewis became the norm in what’s “scary” about horror films, the likes of a giant ape with a love for blondes paved the way and terrified the young and old. While many not consider it a horror film, I have always viewed it as one as King Kong is a giant ape creature that caused panic not only on his home island but also New York, and he does kill and eat humans so yeah, it spells horror film to me. I saw the film when I was about 7 or 8, the same age she first saw it, and I can remember my Mom telling me about her first viewing and this set the bar very high as I sat down on the couch ready to watch it alongside my parents and my brother on a VHS that we rented from Waynesville’s library. From the moment the film started, I was hooked on every word and when Kong showed up I became a fan, and to me every gorilla toy became King Kong. The watch with my family was a great one and was one of many fun family night of watching a flick on the old VCR while eating popcorn and being entertained. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away of the film as that will happen as we review the Gold Key comic adaptation a little later on so I will give you the cliff notes version. The film is about a filmmaker and some sailors who take a fresh faced new actress to an island were the natives take her to appease King Kong, a giant gorilla who rules the land.  They save her and also take Kong to New York as a stage attraction, and he escapes running wild in the city until he is killed in the end. It’s an amazing classic film with special effects that were way ahead of their time.  If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it!

King Kong 1933 1King Kong 1933 PosterKing Kong 1933 2

In the 1980’s Ted Turner owned Turner Classic Movies wanted to do something fresh and new to King Kong so they did the unthinkable…. they colorized it! To be honest it seemed like an odd kick Turner was on, taking old classic black and white films and turning them into color films to air on his classic movie station, and on the top of the list that sparked the most debate was what they did to King Kong. I can remember that my mom and dad were not pleased that they messed with a classic film this way, but being so young I was a little curious to see what the classic Kong would look like in color. I seen the color version after the black and white and still preferred the original to the tampered with version. King Kong was the first movie on VHS that I owned two versions of as I had to own them both, and I would say I watched the black and white more than I did the colorized one that I got dirt cheap brand new at Blockbuster Video.

King Kong 1933 Color 1King Kong 1933 Color VHSKing Kong 1933 Color 2

Now if you look at King Kong as a horror film like I do, then you would have to look at Fay Wray as the original scream queen, and she proves she has a set of lungs as she screams her head off at the first site of Kong. She began her acting career making short films and making westerns for Universal but left once she became a WAMPAS Baby Stars meaning she was listed as an actress to watch. As a teenager Wray was signed to a contract with Paramount Pictures where she made over a dozen films like the failure 1928 silent film The Wedding March.  Wray was able to make the transition from silent to talkie films and left Paramount to make other films for other companies, the most notable being RKO that hired her for her first horror films like Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game and her most famous film King Kong.  She was proud of her work in Kong and that film saved RKO from going bankrupt! During that time as well she was in a few other horror films like The Vampire Bat and Mystery In The Wax Museum. By the 1940’s, Wray retired briefly from acting but came back to make more films and take TV parts being on such shows as Perry Masson and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Wray continued to act for many years and even turned down a part in James Cameron’s 1997 smash hit film Titanic. Sadly at the age of 96 Fay Wray passed away of natural causes in 2004 while she slept.  After her passing, the Empire State Building shut off all its lights for 15 minutes to honor her legacy. Wray was a true beauty, a talented actress and could possibly be the first scream queen of cinema.

"King Kong"Fay Wray1933 RKO**I.V.fay wray 2fay wray 3

Because King Kong was such a huge hit at the box office, a sequel was made in 1933, coming out only 9 months after the original. The film follows the film director from the first film who is now in hot water for King Kong running wild in New York and travels to find that the giant ape might have had an offspring.  That film was called Son of Kong! In Japan in 1962, they made a film called King Kong vs. Godzilla where they pit the world’s top giant monsters against each other, and in 1967 they made another King Kong film called King Kong Escapes that has our lovable Kong fighting a robot version of himself called Mecha Kong. Paramount Pictures in 1976 decided to make a remake of King Kong and added in more modern touches to the film and even trades in the Empire State Building for the Twin Towers as well as the stop motion Kong for a stuntman in a suit done by FX God Rick Baker. In 1986 the remake got a forgettable follow up called King Kong Lives that had the giant ape getting a pacemaker put in to replace his damaged heart and finding a mate who has also been brought to the USA. In 2005 a longwinded Peter Jackson remake of King Kong was made and besides more minutes added to the runtime, it was a good but unnecessary film. With all these spin off films, sequels and remakes this just shows you how much impact this film had on classic cinema, and I agree with James Rolfe who said that film students should watch the original in film school right alongside Citizen Kane. While none of them are as good as the original film, they are all still fun watches that help add to the legacy of Kong and prove that this primate of fright, this ape of terror, is truly a legend of cinema.

Son Of Kong PosterKing Kong Escapes PosterKing Kong 1976 PosterKing Kong Lives PosterKing Kong 2005 Poster

In 1966 America and Japanese animation studios teamed up to make The King Kong Show, an animated adventure kid show that had King Kong befriending the Bond Family and stopping the likes of Dr. Who (and no, not the BBC version) from capturing Kong for his own evil gain. This animated cartoon was teamed with another show about a tiny special agent called Tom of T.H.U.M.B. and the show would last till 1969 with a total of 3 seasons and 25 episodes. This cartoon also helped Toho make the film King Kong Escapes and also was to be inspiration to the film that became Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which Kong was suppose to star in, not Zilla. The cartoon over the years did not hold up well and was mostly forgotten until it got released on DVD as volumes a few years back. I never remember seeing the show when I was a kid, and I think it would have fit perfect on early morning Saturday’s back in the 80’s and could have also found a place on the USA Cartoon Express. I saw the show when I was older and in my 20’s found it to be pretty cool but only from a retro standpoint.

kIng kong Cartoon 1King Kong Cartoon 2King Kong Cartoon 3

So as we all know Toho studios made two films with King Kong in them in the 1960’s, but did you know that there are also two others made in Japan way before this that are now lost films? The first was a short silent film called “Wasei Kingu Kongu” made in 1933 the same year King Kong was released and was a team up from RKO and Shochiku Studios. Not much is known about the film besides RKO asked them to make it and that instead of a stop motion Kong, it was a man in a suit.  It was directed by Torajiro Saito with Isamu Yamaguchi playing King Kong and all that is left of the film is one single picture that was printed. Next was a 1938 film called “King Kong Appears In Edo” that made by Zensho Cinema with permission from RKO and was directed by Soya Kumagai and had a size changing King Kong attacking Edo (Tokyo) during Medieval times! Fuminori Ohashi who some 16 years later would make the original Godzilla costume made the Kong costume in this film.  Just think about that, King Kong was really Japan’s first giant movie monster and not Godzilla like we all thought! Both films are believed to have been destroyed during the bombings of World War II and neither ever showed outside of Japan making all master prints being only stored there. I learned about these missing films thanks once more to James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) when he did a top 10 list of lost Horror Films and the Japan Kong films were his # 1, and I agree with him when he said he hopes all the films he picked won’t always be lost films. Below are some pictures of Japan’s King Kongs, the first being Toho’s with the second being the 1933 version and last being the 1938 one.

King Kong JapanKing Kong Missing 1King Kong Missing 2

Tiger Electronics who are best known for making handheld games in the late 80’s and 90’s also made some console games in the age of Atari 2600 under the brand name TigerVision. And would you know it that in 1982 they made a game based on King Kong that was a follow up to their handheld games made about the big ape the year before. The game was a total rip off of Donkey Kong and had you playing as a guy who was trying to get to the top were King Kong was.  The graphics were bad and Kong was a stiff looking pixel mess. I have played the game several times and even own it and I must say that it really is a bad game. Though I do find it funny that Donkey Kong was a clone of King Kong who in turn had a game made about him that was just a bad clone of Donkey Kong. The game on release only sold moderately well and was by no means looked at as a classic.

King Kong Atari 1King Kong Atari 2600King Kong Atari 2

Ideal made a board game in 1976 based on the remake movie that had 2-4 players trying to get to the top of the Twin Towers before King Kong so that they can capture him, or you can win the game by saving the woman from his right hand via a special mission. But Kong won’t make your trip easy as he is flipping all around trying to knock your player back to the start. I own this game and played it with the fellow members of The Dayton Board Game Society who are Stephen Alexander II, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane on one of our past meetings ,and I can remember that while the game was not all that ground breaking we all had fun trying to knock each other off the building using Kong as our puppet and it was a blast seeing just how competitive it got. If you get a chance and like classic board games based on movies then I would say check this one out, play time to complete is about 20 minutes give or take a few. I should also share we played this game on February 6th 2013 in Josh Weinberg’s basement and we also played the LJN A Nightmare on Elm Street video game for the NES and we ate Wing Zone.

Josh Playing King Kong Board GameKing Kong Board GameUs Playing King Kong

King Kong not only has been made into many video games and board games but he has also had pinball machines based around him, many comic books, novels, magazines, t-shirts, toys, Halloween costumes, soundtracks, stickers, dolls, drinking glasses and so much more. If you’re a King Kong fan, then there is something for you out there in the world of merchandise. Some of my favorite King Kong merchandise that I owned was my Imperial King Kong action figure that I use to make fight my Godzilla figure and even Kong was wrapped up in my epic Toy Wars, also would be my Crestwood Monster Series Book based on King Kong that gave the history of the film as well as some sweet photos. I also really liked my adaptation novel by Delos W. Lovelace and can remember reading it before bedtime many nights. It’s odd looking back at my youth now being 35 years old and seeing just how much of an impact King Kong has had on my life.  It’s a neat feeling knowing that a giant ape with a love for blondes truly means something to me. And for those of you who listen to Alpha Rhythms on WYSO (91.3 FM) on Sunday nights, I have played soundtrack pieces from the original score by Max Steiner as well as tracks from King Kong Lives by John Scott.

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

Before we move onto The Gold Key Comic Review I of course have to talk about a ride I have wanted to go on since I first heard about it; that’s the one and only KongFrontation ride at Universal Studios Orlando that opened on June 7th 1990 and became a major attraction at the park. The ride was based on the 1976 remake as well as a ride Universal Studios had at their Hollywood park called King Kong Encounter that opened in 1986. The 5 minute ride would place you and others inside a tramcar but not before you walked down a mock New York street complete with newscasts playing on TVs to build up that King Kong is roaming the streets.  Once inside the car you are treated to explosions as well as giant animatronic King Kong’s that would roar and knock your little car around given the effect that he was attacking. In the end he would attack while you’re on the bridge but your driver would get you out safe and unharmed. This ride seemed amazing to me and just the thought of being close to a life size version of Kong was enough to make me want to go, but being a kid and having parents that didn’t like to travel out of state put a damper on getting to go. The attraction closed in 2002, and two years later a lame ride based on the terrible Mummy Remake took its place, marking the sad fact that I never got to ride the one roller coaster/attraction that I always wanted to. As far as King Kong Encounter, it had guests on a tramcar as King Kong would knock a helicopter from the sky and would end with you being eye level with the great ape on the Brooklyn Bridge as he tries to break it apart.  Of course you would make it off the bridge and would be safe thanks to your driver. The Kong animatronic was at the time the world’s largest and was so detailed that it’s “breath” smelled of bananas!  This ride as well lasted a total of 5 minutes and was one of the main attractions to the park. Sadly it as well came to an end when in 2008 a massive fire broke out and burnt the attraction up, but in Universal Hollywood they didn’t give up on King Kong and replaced it with an attraction called King Kong 360 3-D. I really would have loved to have ridden these attractions and sadly with both of them gone for good I will never get the chance to do so. But I can watch videos of them on YouTube and hear stories from my friends who did get to experience it…sigh.

King Kong RideSo I think our voyage through the sea of King Kong is over and we looked at the movies, video game, cartoon, missing films, merchandise as well as a theme park attraction but now it’s time for us to take a walk on Skull Island alongside Gold Key comics and see what this 1968 adaptation has to offer to the Kong legacy. I want to think Bell Book And Comic for having this comic in stock, and I would like to remind that I graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s man up and walk through the giant gates into King Kong’s lsland and hope he doesn’t stomp us into the mud!

King Kong 1

King Kong  # 1    ***1/2
Released in 1968     Cover Price .25    Gold Key   # 1 of 1

Carl Denham is a filmmaker who can’t find a lead actress for his top secret next project.  He even has rented a boat called the “Wonderer” along with all its crew and after an agent tells him that he will not supple him with an actress, the director walks down the streets of New York and finds a pretty thief woman named Ann Darrow who was stealing an apple due to hunger.  Denham buys it for her and hires her to be in his new film. While on board the first mate Jack Driscoll falls in love with Ann, and the two start up a relationship.  They find out that they are to port at an unknown island called Kong Island. But while at the island they find that the natives are worshiping and sacrificing women to an unknown “God” and they have set their sights on Ann who they kidnap off the boat and take to the altar where a giant gorilla named King Kong falls for her and takes her deep into his jungle home! Driscoll and Denham lead some crew members on a rescue mission and while in the jungle they find that Kong is not the only giant monster as dinosaurs and sea serpents all blocking their trail to save Ann from Kong’s grip. Kong finds that he is being followed after he beats up a pair of Triceratops and knocks all the crew members off a log killing them leaving only Driscoll and Denham left.  As Driscoll follows Kong, Denham goes back to the ship for more men and gas bombs. King Kong while trying to grab Driscoll from a cave is attacked by a T-Rex and a major battle breaks out between the giant beasts! As Kong climbs to his cave home he must fight off all types of attackers and during this Driscoll saves Ann, and the two escape via the river below. As they reach the gates Kong is in hot pursuit and it’s here that Denham uses his gas bombs to knock Kong out and then takes him to New York to use the giant ape as a sideshow, but when Kong see’s Ann again he breaks his chains and escapes his cage and takes Ann to the top of the Empire State Building where he is attacked by fighter planes that lead to his death as they use machine guns on him while he is distracted by Ann being saved by Driscoll again and he falls to his death. In the end Ann and Driscoll are safe in each other’s arms, Kong is dead in the middle of the street and Denham learns that it was beauty that killed the beast.

This is another amazingly done comic film adaptation of a classic horror film much like Comic Library International’s Edison’s Frankenstein 1910 that holds just so true enough to the source material but still adds its own flare to spice it up. The plot is your simple Beauty and The Beast and follows a young actress who gains the affection of a tough sailor as well as a giant ape and when the big primate is taken away from his home and placed in the big city, his only comfort when he escapes is his blonde bombshell but even love can’t save him from being slain. Ann Darrow is a sweet woman who turns her misfortune of being poor into fame when she takes the part in a movie that leads her to charming King Kong to be put on display. Even though Ann fears Kong she also still feels some affection for him and wishes him no ill will and even tries to save the beast as the planes shoot him down. King Kong is neither good nor bad and it’s clear he is very territorial of his land and very protective of Ann who he has fallen in love with. I love the fact that he keeps not only the natives in check but also all the other giant beasts that live on the island proving he really is the King. Carl Denham, while a money grubbing rich film making geek, still really shows he cares about his friends as Ann’s safety when being taken is a big priority to him, though he does mistreat King Kong by keeping him in chained up and taking him away from his home to be looked at by New York’s rich snobs and press. Jack Driscoll is your very classic tough guy who only cares about the woman he loves and will risk it all for her. The major changes I noticed between the comic and the film is that in the comic the ship is called The Wonderer, while in the film it’s The Venture; in the comic the island is called Kong Island, while in the film it’s Skull Island. I also noticed in the film Jack is annoyed that Ann is on the ship and it takes awhile before he falls for her, in the comic it happens fast. This was the second time I have read this comic and I found that I enjoy it more and more after each read and find something very magical about the whole reading experience. The copy I have is a classic example of Rotten Ink as the smell of the decomposing ink fills your nose when you flip through the pages, while not a beat up copy, it’s still very yellowed on the pages. The artwork is done by ummm….an unknown artist as no credit is given, but I must say the art is perfect for this comic and while Kong doesn’t capture the full look of his movie appearance it still looks the part enough to draw this comic reader in. The cover as well is very eye catching and I am sure drew kids attention to it by using lots of orange and putting a giant ape crushing planes on the cover. If you like the film or like classic horror comics, than this is for sure one you should check out. I am glad I got it and I am sure a few years from now I will read it again.  Below is a piece of art from the comic just so you can see the style Gold Key went for in this comic.

King Kong Art

Really this is a great comic with great classic artwork and really is going to help us kick off our two month long horror comic countdown to Halloween 2014! So on this update we traveled to Skull Island and got to know King Kong and see what that massive beast was about, but how about next time we travel to a black lagoon and celebrate the 60th birthday of the Universal Monster Gill-Man.  So until then read a comic or two, watch a horror film and support your local Horror Host.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2