The Forgotten Dusty Vault Of Doomnation

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Lately I have been thinking about the new boom of independent comic companies who’s issues have found life not only at your local comic shops but also online on their official websites as well as crowd funding sites like Kickstarter and Indie Go-Go giving us more selection to choose from besides Marvel, DC, Image, Archie and Dark Horse Comics, all of whom have been around for the long haul of the rise and fall of comic book popularity. I mean companies like IDW, Boom and Action Lab, among many others, have their issues in Diamond Previews while companies like Eibon Press, Rough House Publishing and Digital Phantom Press all deliver their comics directly to the reader and cut out the middle man. Even Jason Young and myself have gotten into the act when we opened Sparkle Comics and its sub branch Blood Scream Comics as we also wanted to deliver high quality comics to our readers and be creative with our friends. But back in the mid 80’s – early 90’s, lots of independent comic companies popped up and tried to deliver black and white comic books to cash in on the 1985 success of Mirage Studios who had a huge hit with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Many of the companies had their own mutant animal books who knew Kung-Fu or were like elite task force fighters.  Many Horror books were made during this time, and while some companies were made on the spot to try and cash in, many others suffered as the market began to be flooded with poorly made and drawn comics that filled comic store shelves and burnt readers with their terrible stories. With such titles as “Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils”, “Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters” and “Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos” being pushed upon readers, the independent comic company bubble burst in the late 80’s, and as quickly as the boom happened, it imploded on itself and many companies folded up or were bought out by the other companies while others just faded away to have their issues end up in dollar bins. This update is about one of those comic companies that I knew about when I was a teenager thanks to a local comic shop that had them in stock and my favorite comic in their short-lived life called The Vault Of Doomnation.  So sit back and enjoy this quick “looking back” update, below is my tribute to some of the comic companies from the past that left the comic racks way too soon.

One of those pop-up companies was B-Movie Comics, who started in 1986 and by 1987 was out of business with only four titles under their belt with only two of those titles having more than one issue! The company’s titles were “B-Movie Presents,” a series that lasted four issues and was about fake movies like Tasa Congo Queen and Matrix The Accelerator. They also had “Vault Of Doomnation!” a horror comic anthology much like Marvel Comics series Dead Of Night that very sadly only lasted one issue. And they had “Eric Preston Is The Flame,” a generic Superhero comic that lasted one issue. And lastly another Superhero comic called “Reacto-Man” that appears to have lasted a total of three issues. From what I can gather, B-Movie comics was based out of Indiana and was a creator owned company that had Mark Paniccia as owner and maybe editor in chief, and they were a company that tried to make it big with the black and white independent comic boom of the mid-eighties but could not compete with all the competition. Mark Paniccia, later in his comic career, would go on to work for Malibu Comics, TokyoPop and Marvel Comics where he still works as an editor as of the time of this update. It’s been hard to find direct info on this company as they did not last long enough to make an impact and many websites, blogs and chats I have read all have different information on what comics they released and how long they stayed in business. Their logo was white and black and had a man behind a camera, and this logo, while not all that eye catching compared to other companies, always stood out to me as I was always mesmerized by shot-on video-films and shows like “Moraine Playhouse Theater” on MVCC and other horror and science fiction movie stuff, and their logo reminded me of the small guy trying to make big entertainment. I first learned about B-Movie Comics thanks to Mavericks Cards and Comics when I was a teenager and started shopping there. While going through the back issue boxes looking for old Horror Comics, I stumbled upon the comic Vault Of Doomnation! and can remember buying it for $1.85 and taking it home and reading it in my room in Waynesville and enjoying the horror stories, and if memory serves me correct, I read it during a thunderstorm! While gone and by most accounts forgotten, I for one enjoyed B-Movie Comics and thank them for making their tiny mark on the world of comic books. Below are some comics they released as well as the company’s logo.

While working on this update back in October 2016, I was feeling very nostalgic for the past and with a slow day at work on October 7th I left work early around 1:30pm and along with pal Josh Weinberg we headed to my true hometown Waynesville to check on a rumor that the old Dairy Corner was torn down and a new Dominos Pizza was up in its place.  Sadly enough, the rumor was true and a place I loved as a child was gone and a soulless major chain restaurant was in its place.  I’m really letdown that the Waynesville board let this happen. We could not stop at the antique stores in Waynesville as Main Street was blocked to get ready for the Sauerkraut Festival that was gearing up to take place the next day. So we drove to Lebanon to visit Peddler’s Mall as Josh had never been there and I wanted to soak up the past again of being in the old Big Bear and Hearts (Big Bear Plus) and walking into that place always reminds me of toys, comic books, Cracked and MAD Magazines and breakfast cereal as at the time the had the largest selection I had ever seen, and this is where we would get these items growing up. Walking around that place, I shared a few stories with Josh about when it was the iconic grocery and department store as we looked at vintage antiques and collectibles. As we left, I wanted to see if maybe behind the building if the original Big Bear Plus store signs were left behind as in the main lot the only thing left to show Big Bear was even there is a parking lot sign. While driving behind the building, it was clear that sadly the signs were gone but we did find on one of the loading docks they had signs for each department like meat and dairy, and after getting out of the car to snap a pictures, I noticed that the dock must have been a hang out for kids as broken beer bottles and pill bottles littered the ground. As we left the parking lot, it hit me that it really is a shame that Big Bear went out of business and that stores like Kroger and Wal-Mart were the ones who put the nail in its coffin as they did with other stores like Cub Foods in my area, but as they say, you can’t live in the past you must live for the future, and while I know I have chatted about Big Bear on here before I wanted to also share the pictures I took that day with you friends and readers, so enjoy.

So I am sure you’re wondering if I found anything at the Peddlers Mall in Lebanon on that trip, and I must say I sure did as I found a big Imperial Godzilla just like the one I got from my Aunt Laverne and Uncle George for my birthday when I was a kid for $25.00. This toy also triggered memories of the past from having Godzilla fight with my 12” Incredible Hulk Mego figure during my Toy Wars to Sarah Fix hanging out in my house on Pittsfield chatting about it while looking for a Horror Movie to watch when I was a teenager. The other item I found was an old rubber caveman figure that looks lots like a Jiggler from the late 60’s that was only $2.50! The one items I regretted not picking up was the Starting Lineup figure for golf legend Arnold Palmer as I had been on a kick of drinking the drink named after him that’s a tea and lemonade mix as it was only $4.00 and a Blue Falcon and Dynomutt metal lunchbox that was $25.00. Below is a picture of Godzilla and The Caveman I took on the day I bought them both.

When leaving Peddlers Mall, we decided to drive once more through Waynesville, and we ended up driving down the old street I lived on Royston Drive where I really realized that I 100% really do miss that neighborhood and all the kids that my brother Bryan and I use to run around with in our youth. So many great times of playing baseball, football, basketball, ball tag, Nintendo games and toys were had on this street. 645 Royston Drive was the only home that I have ever lived in that felt like just that home.  My old room on the second floor just above the garage with the terrible white wall paper with flowers was a place that I played with toys, read comics and paperback novels, worked on my own short stories and drew up my own comic book characters and monsters. The walls of my room was covered with posters of Bart Simpson, The Joker, Pro Wrestler The Great Muta and many more pop culture characters, I also had a very old and vintage blackboard that was in my room that I would draw pictures of Swamp Thing and Spider-Man on with colored chalk and even made fake boxing and pro wrestling event brackets. A hallway and a bathroom separated my room from my brother’s and I always knew that he was close if ever an emergency were to happen. So many great memories is in that house from watching Commander USA on TV to playing Nintendo against my Dad to even hanging out with my pet mice Grey and White and all the fun times of making crafts with my Mom and even reading comics in my brothers room, this truly was my favorite house I have ever lived in. I can’t really express just how magical that house and the neighborhood were to me, and no matter were I live I will always be a Waynesville Spartan! Below is a picture that my Mom took of the house just after my Dad bought it and I am proud to share it with you my readers and friends, and I will have to end this little segment that if it ever went back up for sale and I could afford it I would love to buy that house and live their again!

I have worked a number of jobs over the years and many of them were lots of fun, and I have met friends I still have at many of those jobs like Odd Lots, Krogers, Replay Media, Mavericks Cards And Comics, Buy Backs and Hotel Liquidations to name a few, but the one I miss the most hands down over the others is the video rental store Blockbuster Video on S. Smithville Road, a place I worked when VHS was still the king and was even around when DVD pushed them out of the stores and into the dumpsters out back. I was there for the roll out of the Rewards Project as well as when they started to take in trades! I meet many of wonderful women that I was able to take out on dates that were employees and customers and I had many of weird moments from grown women flashing me their boobs for free rentals to weird prank calls for films that never were made. It was a place I worked mornings as well as many late nights and was a place that always seemed fun even during the busiest of days and with most annoying customers. It was also a place I worked that acted as the set for many of the shot on video films I made from “Werewolf Of Ohio 2: 10 Years Before” and “Cocktober Blood” and even though Blockbuster policy was to not allow filming, my bosses always were cool about it. I was never a manager and was a full time CSR that was paid well and even had 2 weeks of paid vacation a year and won many bonuses from winning contests as well as was one of the fastest movie scanners in the area. I can remember around Halloween time one of my managers would allow us to watch Horror films instead of the Blockbuster TV tape/disc that we were supposed to play at all times, and when we would leave, I would hit play on the player and with store dark and at late at night movies like Phantom Of The Opera would be playing on the TVs. I really do miss this job and also really miss the world of Video Rental stores.  No matter what people tell me, scrolling through Netflix’s very limited horror selection will never take the place of walking through a video rental store’s Horror section! The Blockbuster Video I worked for was one of the last to close in the area, and when they finally closed the building sat empty for a while and within the last 2 years it has been split into three smaller stores with a pizza place on one side and on the other end is a pharmacy with the middle still empty and most of the Blockbuster shelves and counters still in there. Here is a pic that Josh and I took on January 11th of the middle section of what is left of Blockbuster Video that was a big part of my working life. As well as one of my old name tags I found in the old Independent B Movie studio!

Also on January 11th Josh Weinberg and I decided to visit some of the top locations that we used for some of our most “popular” shot on video films! It was a perfect day for it as the weather outside was chilly and rain was in the forecast, and we selected to start a look back at a location that we at Independent B Movie called “Suicide Hill” as it was the final place we used in our first film Teen Suicide that was shot back in 1998 where the character Matt played by Matt Hoffman killed himself after being bullied by cruel classmates. This location is in a park in Kettering, Ohio and was also used in such films we made as Werewolf Of Ohio, Tree-Man Christmas, Cocktober Blood and Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast among many others and I must say the location has changed very much as the hill is now over grown with weeds and tree branches and the amount of trash near it was saddening, we stood around for a few moments and chatted about Teen Suicide and just how overgrown the area had became. After a few minutes we left and started to our next location. Below is a picture still from the movie as well as one taken on Jan 11th to show you just how much the area has changed.

The next location we went to was used for the 2003 supernatural ghost flick Farmer Joe directed by Mike Ritchie that we all called “Farmer Joe’s Barn” that acted as the cursed area that the killer farmer would stalk his prey as well as have the powers to change the weather. And as we pulled up, we were saddened to see first hand that the barn had been torn down by the church that owned the land it was on and in its place was now just grass and four basketball hoops.  Worse, the land that was behind the barn had been sold and over priced giant homes now sat where the characters’ cursed crop fields used to be. Josh and I did our best to try and figure out just where the barn and its green doors used to sit on the now blank land and chatted about the production of the film and funny moments of filming under Mike Ritchie’s direction. Josh had to take a business call, and I just walked around not only remembering the filming of Farmer Joe but also the fun filming day of Vigilante C: The Hunt For Man-Beast that took place on that land, I also remember fun times hanging out at that barn with Jennifer Perkins and Misty Altick looking up at the stars in the sky. As the weather got colder, we headed to our next location and chatted a little more about Farmer Joe and the comic in the works from Blood Scream Comics being done by Jeff Potter and Juliet Fromholt. Below are pictures of the barn from the film to that day of our visit.

Our next stop was in Bellbrook for one of the main locations used in my first film, the 1998 classic Werewolf Of Ohio.  It’s a small little park near Dot’s Market. The site was supposed to be the location where the main character Josh played by Josh Weinberg’s family lived and in the shelter his sister wrote her name in the wood with the name being Kanny.  It was already there when we decided to film the found footage style shot on video horror film, and I was shocked to see the white painted name still there on the second to last beam; while it was faded it was still there! Josh and I laughed about a scene from the film that was shot in the shelter that had his character Josh having a breakdown that had him almost trip over a trashcan he was kicking! Behind the shelter was also another location from Werewolf of Ohio, a stream that acted as the characters’ backyard, and this location had changed as all the woods near the entrance have been removed as was the old muddy and gravel path that was near it. This location, while different, really did bring back memories of the good old days of Independent B Movie when me and my friends had no money but big ideas for horror movies. Josh and I chatted about the idea of doing a Werewolf Of Ohio 3, but we knew that if it is ever to happen, it would have to be now made as a comic book. After walking around for a while, the sky became darker and we decided to head to our final location and stop and get some lunch. Below is the stream from the past as well as the present.

Xenia was our final location visit, and after stopping at Roosters for some chicken wings, we headed out to what we have always called “Malice’s Bridge,” the main location for the final fight between The Wolf Hunter and Malice in both the 2003 film The Wolf Hunter and its sequel, the 2006 film Wolf Hunter 2. The rain was starting to come down as we made our trip to the bridge and all the way there we chatted about all the films and TV shows we had filmed at the bridge and memories of Wolf Hunter and Wolf Hunter 2 mostly. As we pulled down the street that lead to the bridge, we got a bad shock as the bridge was being blocked by road workers who looked annoyed that we were coming down the road! We turned around and decided to get some drinks at a gas station in Xenia and wait to see if the rain that was now really coming down would make the road workers leave, and we got lucky as when we got back to the bridge the workers were gone! Josh decided to stay in the car as the rain was coming down pretty heavy, but I did get out and noticed that the area around the bridge had been stripped of the grass and brush and was now just mud, I also noticed that much of the bridges wood was new and it appeared as if maybe some one set it ablaze as wood on some of it had scorched marks! Clearly this classic covered bridge has been the target of some arson and that’s a shame as the bridge is pretty damn cool and holds history as well as shot on video history. I quickly stepped on the bridge and had to laugh as some one spray painted on a support beam “I Love Matt” and I just imagined a fan of Matt Hoffman aka The Wolf Hunter painting that hoping that he would see it. After getting back into the car, I reflected on this day of visiting the old filming spots of Independent B Movies and realized that many of the classic set places have changed and many are now just gone, but it also made me miss the days of making movies with friends as being creative is something I have always loved to be. I want to thank Josh Weinberg for coming along for the ride on this look back and I think he as well had a great time looking back and slightly misses making SOV films as well. Below is a pic of Malice’s Bridge from the past falling apart and the second is from the present.

I am having such a great time looking back at the past and thought, hell, let’s also cover a Horror Movie Marathon that was held on July 23, 2017 at my cousin Stephen’s house! For me, the Horror Movie Marathon is very special and is an event that has brought many good times to my life hanging out with family and friends while watching the scares on our TV screen. This event was semi well attended and many of my friends showed up to enjoy the blood, guts and scares that was selected to show as Stephen Alexander, Theresa Lopez, Josh Weinberg, Juliet Fromholt, Jason Young, Todd The Fox and Garrison Kane all showed up throughout the day. The first film of the day was “Dark And Stormy Night” a modern flick that has a classic retro feel about a mansion under attack on a stormy night by two hooded killers during a will reading. “Dangerous Worry Dolls” was the second film about a woman in prison who is possessed by a worry doll that causes her to kill those who stand in her way. The shot on video film “The Dummy” was next up and follows a killer doll that is making short work of a group of friends thanks to a voodoo lady who put a curse on them. The 1991creature feature “The Runestone” was next up and was about the Norse wolf Fenrir running wild in modern times to try to bring on the end of the world! The low budget slasher film “Hayride 2” was up next and brought back the killer from the first film who still has lots of blood to spill and even targets a hospital on his rampage. The creepy film “Child Eater” was next in line to scare us and was about a freak that lives in the woods that kills, eats and steals the eyes of children! Finally got to watch the female slasher film “Blood Widow” about a crazed masked female killer who lives in an abandoned house and has targeted the new neighbors and their friends. The 2017 creature flick “The Raking” was next and follows a group of collage kids looking into a creepypasta creature that turns out to be real! The retro style film “Beyond The Gates” followed and is about two brothers having to play an old VHS Board Game in order to save their souls and their dead fathers. My cousin Stephen picked the next film called “Pitchfork” that follows a crazed masked killer who has a pitchfork for a hand as he kills a batch of partying youngsters. And the final film of the night was “The Slayer” about a creature on the loose on an island who wants lots of death and no happy ending.

This marathon was lots of fun even if the turn out was not packed and was filled with good food and great drinks and great horror movie talk with amazing friends. For me the worst film aka the Golden Turkey of the night was The Raking as I found it to be a very boring slow paced film with dorky characters and a monster that was way under used. Now as for my top three favorite films of the night, I would have to say my # 1 was Blood Widow as I enjoyed the killer and the atmosphere reminded me of the independent horror films of the 80’s not to mention it also had some pretty brutal effects with a leg snapping being the stand out…you should have heard all of us when this happened. The # 2 film for me was Beyond The Gate as I loved the retro feel to the film and it was short and sweet and filled with some great bloody effects. And # 3 was Dark And Stormy Night a great throwback parody film of the 30’s and 40’s haunted house films! I need to also say that I enjoyed The Slayer and The Dummy as well. Another great Marathon was in the books and here is to many more to come!

The killer of the marathon was Fenrir from Runestone who had a body count of over 30 people with many of them coming from massacring a whole SWAT Team! He was brutal in his killing nature and showed no mercy! So the Golden Massacre Award proudly goes to Fenrir for his over 30 kills.

So while we cannot live back in the past, we can indeed remember it and share our memories with family and friends keeping those adventures alive and well. So now that we looked at old film locations from the past, I think it’s time for us to travel back into the world of B-Movie Comics and to their spooky Vault of Doomnation that is filled with chills and thrills and aims to scare with the terror it holds within. Not sure if you notice, but this Vault is super cold and the walls have slime and it looks like this message is etched into the stone “Remind Your Brave Readers That You Grade These Comics On A Scale Of 1 to 4 And You Are Looking For How Well The Comic Stays To The Source Material, Its Entertainment Value And Its Art And Story…The Have Been Warned!” weird I wonder what ghoul from this comic left this message for us. I think we better just all sit together and share in this comic that was a favorite of mine in my youth and avoid the monsters that await outside.

Vault Of Doomnation! # 1  ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price $1.70     B-Movie Comics   # 1 of 1

“Zombi” in a graveyard a grisly murder has taken place and the grave of John Smith has now open and appears like it was opened from the inside.  Around the grave, two bodies are found that have been murdered. Jenell Adams is one of the investigating officers, and she and the cemetery caretaker go to look up the history of John Smith, as across town on the stormy night a Zombie is roaming around and kills the mayor and his wife. After this second murder, the Commissioner takes her off the case and Janell’s mind is working over time as she uncovered that John Smith was a fake name and the young man in the grave is an unknown person. And after another murder, Janell notices that many of the victims are wearing a strange ring with a lightning bolt on it and finds that it’s the symbol of an occult and that the Commissioner is in fact a member of it and that the zombie was in fact the son of two of the occults victims and he has come back from the gave for revenge! “Valentine’s Day” is the story of Nick Wheeler who is a playboy who has married rich older woman Ellen Hayes as he thinks she will die soon and he will get all her estate. Nick is annoyed when the older woman does not die fast enough from old age as he wants to be with a younger woman named Liz and needs the money to do so and his wife to be out of the way. After pushing her down the stairs Ellen dies and Nick is able to be with Liz…but love never dies as Ellen returns from the dead and wants what’s hers and that’s Nick’s heart! “Something Evil” is about a family who’s TV grows and evolves and becomes a living gross ooze life form that attacks the family and the world with monsters and characters from TV and Movies that are playing on the stations. In the end, the world is over run by the gross TV goo and a TV is born from the goo. Our final story is “That’s My Boy” and is about a father and a hired private investigator find the house of his estranged wife and have the goal to get his son back, but soon they find the wife had killed the son who now returns from the dead in order to tell his dad he loves him and to avenge is death by killing his own mother.

The Vault Of Doomnation is a horror anthology comic that I feel is often overlooked by Horror Comic readers who often just write it off as a generic independent comic that is found in the cheap bins at comic stores and conventions for a $1.00 or less, and while this comic is not ground breaking or blood chilling scary, it is a good classic style horror comic that is filled with four creepy tales that mostly deal with the dead coming back to get revenge on the living. The first tale Zombi seems like it might have been inspired by the 1986 film Zombie Nightmare as it has a young man who was wronged coming back to get revenge for himself and his family. I should also note it oddly also feels like The Crow that was released in 1989 but done with way less backstory, could this story have inspired both The Crow and Zombie Nightmare…I doubt it. Valentine’s Day is also about a murdered victim returning back from the dead to get revenge, and this tale seems like it could have been right at home in an issue of The Vault Of Horror. Something Evil takes always the zombies and ads in a Goo that is created by a TV that torments a family and later takes over the world.  This one is a cool story but kind of feels out of place art-wise. The final story That’s My Boy brings back the undead and has a Dad having to find the body of his son who was murdered by his ex-wife who in turn is killed by the zombie son! This one as well could have been at home in an issue of Vault Of Horror or even Twisted Tales. Some of these stories have blood and violence with the first two stories bringing the most to the readers and the last two stories more play on fears and shocks. The art varies from cool independent comic style to more armature punk rock style doodles, with the best art for me being Paul Fricke who did the art in That’s My Boy and the weakest for me is Scott Barker who did the art for Something Evil. My favorite monster of this issue is the zombie of Ellen Hayes the old bride who was murdered as she reminds me of the zombie bride from The Video Dead. The cover for this comic is very cool and is eye catching for independent horror comic readers and over all this is a fun comic with cool classic horror stories that will entertain those looking for a spooky good time. Vault Of Doomnation might not be a must own comic for readers, but is one that I think fans should read. Check out some of the art from this comic below and see some of the horrors that await you in this Vault.

Vault Of Doomnation # 1 is one of those comics that really does make me think back to my youngers days and shopping at the local comic shops like Bookie Parlor and Mavericks and how amazing it was to uncover Horror Comics and Superhero Comics that I have never heard of and buying them to rush home to read in my room or in the living room next to the fireplace. But again, you can’t live in the past, and I still very much enjoy going to a local comic shop like Bell, Book And Comic and finding new comics that I have never heard of. For our next update we are leaving the dusty old box of Horror Comics and looking at another character that is overlooked and underused by DC Comics, Jonni Thunder! So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a horror movie or two, make your own shot on video movie and as always support your local Horror host! So see you next time as we go on a case with DC Comics most underused detective!

The Old Time Defenders Of The Planet Earth

When the world thinks of super hero teams, many come to mind like The Avengers, Justice League of America, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and of course at the top of that list are the Defenders of the Earth, right? Okay, I know most of you have never heard of them or if you have, I am sure you have forgotten about them until now. So let me tell you who the Defenders of the Earth are, and I can guarantee that you will know most the names mentioned. King Features Syndicate made comic strips, and some of their most popular ones were Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake The Magician.  In 1986 they decided that it would be a great time for them to put these characters together in a cartoon that would spin off into toys, video games and comics. Flash Gordon of course is the star football player who got lost in space and became a hero when he went up against the evil Ming The Merciless.  He was so popular that the character had toys, film serials and films made about him.  He was created in 1934. The Phantom was created in 1936 and is a costumed crime fighter in Africa.  His costume is a purple skintight body suit that covers most of his skin besides his face, he also wears a small mask that covers his eyes making them seem solid white. His costume set a standard in super hero history. Mandrake The Magician was created in 1934 and is a crime fighting magician who used his tricks to bust gangsters and other forms of low life. Throw in Mandrake’s assistant Lothar and all or their kids, and you have The Defenders of the Earth! And guess what, Star Comics did a four issue run about this “amazing” team and in this blog entry we will be taking a look at them.

flashgordonthe-phantommandrake

The 1986 cartoon was an action adventure series that ran for 1 season but had 65 episodes. The cartoon’s plot was that Ming The Merciless had used up his home planet of Mongo and has set his sight on Earth in the year 2015 with the help of ice robot Garax and his ice robot men. Flash Gordon’s wife Dale Arden has been kidnapped and killed leaving Gordon mad with his teenage son Rick Gordon goes to Earth to protect it from harm and along the way they team with The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker, Mandrake and his adopted son Kshin, Mandrake’s strong and loyal assistant Lothar and his son L.J and all come together to forum The Defenders of the Earth.  The group’s headquarters also has a super computer that has the sprit of Flash’s dead wife inside called Dynak-X that helps them on the way. The cartoon was on when I was a youth, and while I watched it I never found it to be as exciting as other cartoons based on super heroes. The Phantom was the only one in the series that I was a fan of, and I am sure most of that came from his kick ass ways.  Plus it’s funny how they changed the character to give him super powers when he chanted, this changed who and what the Phantom really is from a normal guy trying to do good in an area that’s plagued with crime. While I was a fan of Flash Gordon thanks mostly to the live action 1979 film that had the rocking music by Queen, he was just not a drawing power to get me to tune in every episode. As for Mandrake, I had no clue to who he was, and while a classic character, he just didn’t make a fan out of me.  Plus adding a bunch of teenagers and kids is a sure way to lose me in any series. And to spice things up, Ming was not the only bad guy in the series but most of the others did not have the evil nature like him making them feel like filler, only there to fill up time and episodes. Again, the cartoon was not bad, it just did not, in my opinion, have that special something that made me want to catch every episode and draw me into buying the other products of the show. BCI and now Mill Creek has released the series on DVD so if you were a fan of the show, the characters or want to check it out, it is out there.

defenderdefenders season 1def3

The show’s toy line was put out by Galoob in 1986, and the figures had a dial on their backs that when twisted made them perform fighting action and came with a weapon. The line consisted of Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician, Lothar, Ming The Merciless and Garax. Not only could fans get the figures but also vehicles were made such as Defenders’ Claw Copter, Phantom’s Skull Copter, Flash Sword Ship, Garax Sword Ship and Ming’s Serpent Monster Mongor. The figures were not bad, and while I only had two I found them to be fun and for the most part well made toys.  My only issue with them is that the joints seemed to become very loose on one of the ones I owned. The first figure I ever got was The Phantom, and I got him at Odd Lots brand new for $3.00.  A year later I got Flash Gordon at a garage sale for under a dollar. One summer when we were moving from Waynesville to Kettering, we stayed at my aunt’s house while she and her family went to Greece and we waited for our house to be cleared to move in.  Behind their house was some small woods, and one day I went back there to check them out and found a lot of broken toys behind there.  I was older at the time like 16 or 17 and laughed as I found many broken Power Rangers that were missing arms and legs, and found a few that seemed to have been set on fire and this brought back memories of The 4th of July.  But one thing caught my eye as I saw a broken Flash Gordon who was missing his legs and arms and was faded from the sun.  I took the torso and later made it into a wheel chair bound Captain Pike (Star Trek) style figure for the fun of it.  Yeah, I had a sick sense of humor.

Flash Gordon toyphantom toyming toy

Like all cartoons of this time, more merchandise came out besides the action figures that included lunch boxes, VHS tapes. kids books and of course a game for Commodore 64. When all this came out in 1986, I could not think of one kid I knew who owned anything Defenders of the Earth, or if they did no one talked about it or brought it around the school yard. I think one of the things that worked against this cartoon and its products was the fact the heroes were too dated for many kids to get behind. 

Defenders bookdefenders c64defenders vhs

So now that you know who and what Defenders of the Earth is all about, are you ready to look at Star Comics 4 issue run? Oh and guess who helped write issue one, the one and only Stan Lee! While Lee has done a lot for the comic industry, I also feel that he takes credit for a lot of things he didn’t or had really very little to do with, but with that said ya still got to respect the guy for all he has done.  So here is to you, Stan The Man Lee! Oh and after our look at Defenders I thought a cool little bonus review was due for all you great readers out there! I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 Star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.

Defenders of the earth 1

Defenders of the Earth # 1  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #1 of 4

 Flash Gordon crashes on Earth at the home of Mandrake The Magician, his adopted asian son Kshin and strong as an ox assistant Lothar and his son L.J.  Gordon is knocked out from the crash, and Mandrake uses his magical power to hide Flash from a race of ice robots lead by Garax who have been sent by the evil Ming The Merciless. When Flash comes to, he tells Mandrake that Ming has kidnapped his wife and son and is coming to Earth to take it over and that they must stop him! Flash, Mandrake and Lothar go to the jungles of Africa and meet The Phantom and his daughter Jebba Walker and they join the group to save Flash’s family and to stop Ming. The kids are left on Earth as the heroes head to Mongo. Dale Arden and son Rick Gordon are captive.  Rick escapes with the help of a strange creature named Zuffy, but her son’s escape leads to Ming torturing and killing Dale.  When the heroes get there they save Rick, and Flash learns of his wife’s death.  Before they can capture Ming, he and his son Kro-Tan escape and land on Earth and make a base in the Arctic. Zuffy finds a crystal and gives it to Flash that holds his wife’s spirit. With Ming loose and on Earth and to avenge the death of Dale our heroes Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician and Lothar decide to stay as a team called The Defenders of the Earth!

I must say this is a great first issue and did a great job of keeping old heroes exciting for the younger reading crowd.  I am sure that this was mostly thanks to Stan Lee who wrote this issue, and while I hate to say it, Lee does have a way to make characters interesting to kids. The plot is the set up of how the team Defenders of the Earth came together and was a way to add some major drama with the death of Dale Arden.  I am sure that for long time Gordon fans it was shocking to see a beloved character killed off in a kids comic/cartoon. Mandrake The Magician is the only one that in the comic still comes off dated, and they try so hard to get him over in this issue, even with being dated I found myself liking him. The Phantom is clearly the star of the comic and it’s so obvious that Star Comics knew that he would be the one kids would flock to. The big change for The Phantom is the fact they gave him supernatural powers that he gets from the jungle.  I am sure they did this in order to spice him up and make him appealing to kids who like heros with power like Spider-Man and Captain America. Lothar seems like a waste and really isn’t given anything to do in this issue besides be a body and an extra hero for the new team. The kids of the heroes are a waste and are very much not needed and seem to be thrown in just to make it so young readers can identify with them.  If they have more time in the following issue it could be what takes me out of the series. Like any good 80’s cartoon/comic there is a little sidekick, that while annoying always seems to be there and fall ass backwards into saving the day, and in this series it’s Zuffy, a strange tiny purple alien with a mop top hair style who can’t speak but sure as hell get his message across via movements. This issue also does a good job of making Ming the Merciless come off as a complete and total evil S.O.B and does so as he murders Dale and then comes to Earth to kill us all! Good work on keeping this close to the cartoon and good work with the art that is clearly done by some of Marvel’s top artists.  The cover is super eye catching. Can’t wait to see how issue 2 is! 

Defenders of the earth 2

Defenders of the Earth # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #2 of 4

The Defenders of the Earth need a base, and Mandrake’s mansion just wont do.  So Flash calls in an alien race called the Cryl lead by Morbius to help build a headquarters, and the crystal with Dale’s soul in it has been put into a super computer made by Rick called Dynak-X. Ming The Merciless has picked up on the area of the base and sends out Garax and his men to ambush the Cryl and kill all of the Defenders of the Earth. Flash goes up to meet his friends and takes his place in the battle as the ambush happens.  Mandrake uses his magic to make an illusion to save his friends as Kshin and Zuffy find an opening in the side of a volcano near the mansion. After outsmarting Garax and his men, The Defenders of the Earth and the Cryl turn the volcano into their new base, and use the lava to power it. Ming is very upset and sends Garax and his men to bomb the Mansion and everything around it, and as they do so, the blasts trap the Defenders inside.  With the help of Dynak-X and a well placed bomb by The Phantom, it appears as if they all die and Ming basks in his winning glory. But this of course just gives them more time to come up with a plan to bring down Ming once and for all.

This second issue is average and seems to be way more talkie than issue one.  It doesn’t keep the total action pace up, giving moments that drag. The issue’s plot is just that The Defenders need a base and while trying to build it they come under attack. The Phantom in this issue is pushed more to the back, and Flash Gordon seems to be more of the focus.  Once more Mandrake is used a lot and does the same tricks as he did in issue 1. Lothar again is wasted and just is filler, but this issue also has the teens and kids as more of a major part of the plot.  While most are okay, Kshin is an annoying little turd who I can tell is going to be a character I will hate. One thing they did in this issue is play up on the hurt and sorrow that Flash and Rick are feeling about losing Dale.  This aspect adds some deep drama that is pretty shocking for a kids comic. This issue also builds up that Kro-Tan is plotting to over throw his father and be the new ruler of Mongo and every other planet they conquer.  I hope this subplot goes somewhere and is played out. The comic’s action is spaceship battles and not nearly as cool as hand to hand. The art and cover is great again and both very much eye catching.  The plot is as stated before very average. Let’s see if issue 3 is any better. 

Defenders of the earth 3

Defenders of the Earth # 3  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   #3 of 4

Everyone is trying to make the volcano hideout feel like home, and Jebba along with The Phantom have made their own little African jungle in one of the caves. But in Africa the Bandar tribe is under attack from Kurt Walker (The Phantom’s brother) and two of his goons.  Kurt is trashing The Phantom and claims he should be their ruler, and when they refuse him and his men storm off. Kurt makes the mistake of telling the goons where the tribe hide their jewels and gold and is attacked and thrown from a bridge by those who now want to rob the tribe.  The water carries him to a cave where he finds a strange suit and hood, and after putting them on he becomes a weather controlling wizard/demon named N’Dama! N’Dama returns to the tribe and freezes his two goon friends to death ushering in a huge snow storm with a threat to the tribe to take him as his ruler or die.  The Phantom and Jebba rush to their jungle home, and The Phantom must come face to face with his brother who is now more demon than brother.  In the end The Phantom watches as his brother is consumed in fire caused by his own new power, and Ming has created Frost Men who he is ready to unleash on Earth.

This is back to being a good solid issue and goes back to the meat and potato of an action comic.  This issue’s main focus is The Phantom and his daughter Jebba returning home to take on a family member who is corrupted with extreme power. The action of the comic is when The Phantom goes toe to toe with N’Dama, and while not a slugfest like a Spider-Man vs. Kraven The Hunter fight it still makes for the most exciting part of the issue. This also makes for most the drama as it’s brother vs. brother and family issues come out. Another plot that seems to be starting up is the tension between Rick Gordon and Jebba Walker who both seem to be crushing on each other but neither making a move. It also surprises me that Rick, Jebba nor L.J. get on my nerves given my track record when it comes to unnecessary teens and kids being in media for no reason. I still do however dislike Kshin and thank God he gets very little panel time in this issue. It’s clear that with this issue Star Comics knew that doing a full issue around the most popular member of the team, The Phantom, would drive up sales with kids.  I am not sure how well this plan worked but it did make this now 32 year old reader happy. Another nice thing to see is that Ming nor Garax are the main bad guys, and this gives a breath of fresh air to the series and makes it so the two main villains aren’t played out. This one also has it all: a good plot, great art and an eye catching cover, and this one is what action kids comics should be like! Let’s see how the 4th and final issue holds up.

Defenders of the earth 4

Defenders of the Earth # 4 **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #4 of 4

Mandrake thinks it’s time that he starts to teach Kshin the art of being a master magician and takes him to a special room in the now destroyed Mansion. Mandrake tells his young son of how he gained the magic that involved the death of his parents via an avalanche and being rescued by a group of magical monks. But in another dimension Dr. Dark, an evil magician, is deep in thought of revenge upon the one who trapped him there :Mandrake.  Ming picks up on the evil power he has and frees him to Earth,  Ming tells his new ally that Mandrake and all The Defenders of Earth are dead, and Dr. Dark busts his bubble with the fact they are not! Dr. Dark goes to the mansion and has a magic fight against Mandrake, as Rick and Jebba see some of Ming’s Frost Men at a rock concert, and it’s shown Jebba can read minds. Mandrake is whooping up on Dr. Dark until the evil one uses Kshin as bait and leads to Mandrake’s life ending when nearby candles burn out.  Dr. Dark leaves to get his army to team with Ming’s to battle the Earth as Kshin uses all he has learned to save his dad. In the end The Defenders of Earth know that War is coming against both Ming’s Frost Men and Dr. Darks evil servants.

Star Comics has done it again, much like Inhumanoids this series ends in the middle of a storyline, making you wonder what was to happen during this major war.  This makes me very annoyed with Marvel for pulling the plug on series from Star that should have played through. This issue’s main focus is Mandrake and his son Kshin as he teaches his son magic.  Father and son must team to undo what their main nemesis Dr. Dark has set in motion. The magic battle reminded me a lot of Dr. Strange and for the most part I am okay with that. Again it was nice to see a new bad guy (Dr. Dark) who unlike N’Dama is teaming with Ming to rule the Earth.  Plus Dark’s Phantom of the Opera face is pretty sweet. Flash Gordon and The Phantom take the backseat in this issue as Mandrake takes the wheel and Lothar has a little more panel time then normal. I also like the way this issue builds up that Ming will turn on Dr. Dark to gain his raw power. Over all this issue was an average romp that was a fun read but a terrible way to end a series.  Worse, it leaves you hanging for an issue 5 that never came.

The Defenders of the Earth Star Comic series was a good fun adventure comic that despite flaws and some annoying characters still held entertainment value. As a youth I more then likely would have judged this comic a little harder for the lack of major action and way too much dialogue, but now I can see that the comic was trying to build up a story and flesh out the characters. I find this 4 issue run to be thus far some of Stars better written stuff, but the lack of respect that Marvel gave us the readers by just ending the series is very fitting for a company who tries to over charge for issues nowadays. Plus it’s nice to see that while it follows the source martial, this series also created its own, with the only major change coming from Ming’s daughter being MIA. If you like any of the characters on the team, loved the cartoon or love Star Comics then I would say check this series out.

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As an add-on bonus, I am going to be looking at a comic that was a free give away on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2010, and cost me a dollar at The Gem City Comic Con based on Michigan horror host Wolfman Mac and his Chiller Drive-In! Chiller Drive-In (formerly Nightmare Sinema) hit TV airwaves in 2007 on public access and became such a hit that by 2009 it had been shown on RTV, a national station. Wolfman Mac is a werewolf from the 1930’s who while being chased by angry villagers stumbled onto an abandoned drive-in theater, and being a lover of bad cheesy flicks, he decided that it would be a good idea to re-open the drive-in once more. Wolfman Mac is an all around good guy (or is that creature?) who seems to worry about the viewers and tries to stop others from bad ideas.  He is a great classic style host who seems to be very much kid friendly. He is joined by Boney Bob, a 1920’s actor who died in order to avoid taxes.  In the 30’s he spent time back in Hollywood as a skeleton extra on the set of horror films, but when work dried up he was downgraded to school room skeleton at a local college.  He left the job and hid out at that same drive-in that Wolfman Mac stumbled on. Boney and Mac are business partners and now spend time rebuilding and running the drive-in. Boney, while a good skeleton, is a con man and will do anything to get money. The show also has many other characters that pop in that include Son of Froggy, Trog a robot, Professor M. Balmer, Undead 50’s Sex Kitten Rebulla, Scarlett LeFever Wolfman Mac’s dead girlfriend and many more great silly off the wall characters. Fans of horror hosts of the 70’s and 80’s will really dig the style and show of Wolfman Mac. 

Wolfman Mac 1Chiller Drive In LogoWolfman Mac 2

I have never gotten to meet Wolfman Mac in person but have spoken to him via Facebook, and he seems like a werewolf who loves his craft. While at Horrorhound Weekend in March 2011, Baron Von Porkchop and I were able to meet Trog and The Son of Froggy from Chiller Drive-In and that was a fun time to be had by all! And we then ran into Son of Froggy again at Cinema Wasteland in October 2011 during “A. Ghastlee Night at the Movies”. That’s one thing I will say about all my horror host friends is that they are more like family.  They understand and get The Baron and I, who are both goofy horror freaks. Baron has it rougher then me being a ghoul from the early 1800’s who I dug up in late December 2010.  He is way out of touch with most normal folks. But here are a few pictures I took of Baron along side cast members of Chiller Drive-In. 

Baron and Son of FroggyBaron and Christmas Robot

So now that you know a little about Wolfman Mac & Boney Bob, let’s take a look at this comic book version of the show. Remember I am going to grade this comic on a standard one to four star rating.  I am going to be grading the story, the art, how true it was to the source martial it was based on and its entertainment value. So let’s see if this chills my blood!

Chiller Theater 1

Wolfman Mac’s Chiller Drive-In # 0  ***
Released in 2010   Cover Price Free   Chiller Drive-In Comics   #0

 Zombies Gone NAG” All the zombies that work for Wolfman Mac and Boney Bob at the Chiller Drive-In have gone on strike and have formed a Union called N.A.G. (The National Association of Ghouls) and have demands before they get back to work that include Brain Breaks and an extra half an hour for lunch.  They use a Gravedigger to work on the deal that Wolfman Mac agrees to and rolls into the issue’s main story called “Return From The Grave.”  At a funeral a vampire pops out of his coffin and attacks all who are attending and is about to feed but before he can T. Stone McAllister, Monster Hunter, comes and saves the day. Back at the Chiller Drive-In all the Zombies are on break and Wolfman Mac is down because no work is getting done. And so ends Issue 0 for now!

 This is a nice free little comic that was a nice way to promote the show and the artist involved, and I would have loved to have had this comic to give out when I worked FREE COMIC DAY at Mavericks. The downside is that this is a very quick read and the main story seems very rushed and not as big of a build up as one would have wanted. The Chiller Drive-In parts are fun and really cartoonish and is clearly geared towards young readers as it even has an anti-smoking spot. The only two characters used in this issue is Mac and Boney Bob, and this gives it a nice feel, like part of the show’s universe. The art in both The Wolfman Mac and Return From The Grave is well done, and sticking close to the source material this is a nice fun very quick read that is worth a check out for fans of Wolfman Mac and Horror Hosts. This issue also teases a full issue # 1 in the summer of 2010, and it seems that this has not happened.  That’s a bummer; I feel that this could have been a fun read for those of us that enjoy this type of book.

wolfman mac

While we are on the subject of werewolves, this would be a perfect time for me to talk about the first no budget film I ever directed called Werewolf of Ohio.  After high school I worked as a bagger for Kroger in the now shut down Van Buren Shopping Center and made lots of great friends like Sarah Boian, Jason Shivadecker and Jason Gilmore, not to mention I worked with already friends of mine Josh Weinberg and Garrison Kane.  At my work is where the legend of The Wolf Man of Ohio began! While working at Kroger at Halloween time we got in a shipment of Universal Monsters Halloween masks, and I was drooling looking at them, in particular The Wolf Man one due to the fact that it is one of my favorite movies of all time. I went around all day talking about how I could make a movie based around that mask, and even spouted some nonsense about putting The Wolf Man in a “Suicide 3” movie if we made it.  After hours of hearing me talk about the film ideas I had for that mask, the cashiers and baggers did something super cool when they bought me the mask and told me to make some movie magic.  And that’s what I set out to do with Josh Weinberg who had left Kroger at this point and was working for Click Camera who loaned him a VHS Camcorder! 

Werewolf of ohio VHS

In late 1999 Josh and I, armed with our on loan camera from Click and our werewolf Halloween mask, set out in his beat up stick shift truck and hit the roads thinking of what my new Wolf Man film could be about, and while driving the story just popped into my head! Josh would play a young man who is on a quest to hunt down The Wolf Man (played by me), a werewolf who terrorizes Waynesville, Ohio and killed his parents and younger sister some years back.  Now he, alongside a camera man (originally cast as Kevin Kinsley but turned out to be played by Brandon Womeldorff), sets out to get evidence that the beast is real and to document its death at the hands of Josh.  We loved the idea and went out to film this twisted sad tale.  We drove around during and after a huge rain storm and filmed moments after the rain stopped around Bellbrook and Kettering (State Farm Park again).  It was just the two of us.  I would act as the Camera Man and Josh would talk about his anger, sadness and need for revenge.  When The Wolf Man was on screen, Josh would run camera. The Wolf Man wore a hood and robe and walked around in daylight and night, making this beast a bigger danger then most werewolf legends. We even drove to Waynesville to film the town’s sign just to add that “real” feel of this “found footage” film. We filmed the climax at State Farm Park and filmed at night as Josh spots The Wolf Man who in turn chases him and the camera cuts off ending the film, or so we thought. After looking at the film we found some scenes just didn’t fit like a talk show interview with Josh that just came off to goofy. Some just were shot bad like the ending were Josh didn’t get The Wolf Man chasing him in one frame making the film’s total runtime about six minutes. I was really disappointed in the film and knew we had to film more to save the film from being a total waste, but the film did fall onto the back burner for almost two full years. By the time I got back to the film I had worked on a few more films and was ready to “save” this film from the trash pile, so I sat down and watched the footage and wrote out a script to finish the film out, Josh was back on board, and Kevin Kinsley was going to step into the role of The Camera Man making it easier for The Wolf Man to interact with them.  In 2001 we started the process of wrapping up the film. Things were going smoothly, and then Kevin was fired for over sleeping on the first day of shooting and Brandon Womeldorff stepped into the part and proved to be a better choice as he also offered ideas and angles. The second part of the film has Josh waking up after the attack covered with blood (yep more ketchup) and buying himself a gun and once more rants and tries to kill The Wolf Man who now wears a red flannel. After the last day of filming, it was rushed into editing at Fairmont High School and Brandon had it cut and ready in one sitting! It then was packaged and ready to be sold at our first horror convention called Fright Vision. While the film sold like hotcakes on VHS and has even gotten a cult following, I have always loved the film for being my own first film but also always find flaws in it after every viewing. I also found that The Wolf Man is my favorite character I have ever played, and one day hope to step into the mask for a new film. The film was followed by a sequel and has made it to DVD in a way but that’s for another update.

Josh and Camera ManWolfmanCamera mAn

Here are some fun facts about Werewolf Of Ohio:  Local filmmaker Andy Copp once wrote about Werewolf of Ohio in the local paper as low budget films/makers you should keep an eye on. Chris Seaver of Low Budget Pictures (LBP) put The Wolf Man in his film “Mulva 2: Kill Teen Ape”. The original title of the film was Wolf Man of Ohio.  Werewolf of Ohio is the second best selling VHS release in Independent B Movie history.  At a number of conventions horror host icon Dr. Creep of Shock Theatre and New Shock Theater helped push the product to buyers,  Centerfold frontman Patrick Neeley did the end theme to the film, and its title was “An American Werewolf in Dayton. The film’s original release had random girls running and a number of other girls in the deleted scenes they were added as filler from stock footage found at Fairmont High School. My brother Bryan once said Ohio should use Werewolf Of Ohio as a travel video, due to all the scenery shots and drive scenes. I hope you enjoyed this look at my “classic” film! Below is the master tape with the original title.

WOO vhs

Well, we have Defended the Earth for 4 issues along side Flash Gordon and friend,s and we took a quick pit stop at the Chiller Drive-In to visit Wolfman Mac and took a look back at some fun young moments of my life and told a tale of the Werewolf of Ohio.  So what is next, you ask.  Next update we will take a look at an epic action star who had a cartoon and toy line and lead a group of Karate fighters.  This 4 issue series from Star Comics is CHUCK NORRIS AND THE KARATE COMMANDOS! So I will see you then.

chuck norris karate kommandos LOGO

The Wonderful World of Warlock Home Video

While I decide about the next update, Crystar or horror video games, let’s take a look at a filmmaker friend of mine.  Chris Seaver is a low budget filmmaker from Rochester New York who has not only been a friend of mine for over 11 years but is also one of the people who inspired me to keep making films.  I first heard about Chris Seaver way back in 2001 when my brother Bryan and Andy Copp went to a horror film convention.  While there they met a low/no budget film maker named Chris Seaver who sold his films on VHS.  So my brother, being the cool guy he is, bought me one of the films knowing that I love watching a good shot on video film as well as making one. He returned home with many cool things for me that included a VHS of a film called “Friday The 13th Halloween Night” by a company called LBP (Low Budget Pictures).  The film was about a group of kids having a Halloween party as Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th) and Michael Myers (Halloween) murder and battle it out to see who is king of the slaughter, only for both to be outsmarted by the host of the party who sends them both to Hell.  The film was packed with over the top acting and some fun backyard gore effects, and I found myself becoming a fan of this silly little flick and showing it to friends like Josh Weinberg, Brandon Womeldorff and Jason Gilmore, telling them this is the fun kind of film we should be making. After a few weeks, I found the director Chris Seaver’s email address on his company’s website and wrote to him telling him how much I enjoyed his film.  Then told him about the films I had directed Werewolf of Ohio 1-2 never expecting much back besides a generic “oh thanks, here are some other films I made you should buy em,” but what I got back instead was a down to earth response taking the time to thank me for watching it and mostly talking about my films and how he would like to see them.  After chatting via email for months, a horror convention called Fright Vision was coming close to town and Seaver was going to be there and told me that my crew of guys (Independent B Movie) should go and sell some of our films.  We all talked about it as a group and decided it was a great idea and hurried and made VHS copies of our films Teen Suicide, Suicide 2, Twisted Batman, Werewolf of Ohio and Werewolf of Ohio 2, and lucky for us Andy Copp, my brother and Dr. Creep had got a table to sell hard to find films and Shock Theater merchandise and shared a small section with us.  Our crew was Dave Wean, Sarah Yates and myself, and we had a blast meeting celebs like David Carradine, Donald Shanks, Bill Chapman, Lilith Stabbs and Robert Z’Dar, but most important to me was the time I got to hang out with Seaver who bought copies of my films and spent the weekend talking about productions and pushing me to make more films. The weekend was a bust for sales but the experience was amazing, and Seaver’s words that weekend made him a friend for life.  Seaver and I remain friends to this day, and I still am a fan of his work.

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The main reason for this update is to showcase Seaver’s new company WARLOCK HOME VIDEO, but in order to do that we must start with his roots at Low Budget Pictures or LBP as fans call it.

LBP%20logo

Chris Seaver began making films at the tender age of seven when he begged his parents for a camcorder for Christmas ’84 and quickly began making mini epic films with friends. Low Budget Pictures officially began in 1991 with the film Commando Kids, and grew into a cult film company in no time with films like Anal Paprika, Scrotal Vengeance, Mulva Zombie Asskicker, Flilthy Mcnasty, and From Almost Night Till Almost Day. LBP became so popular that companies like Tempe Home Video and SRS Cinema started to pick up and release titles that were coming out.  LBP was running like a well oiled machine and had many films released every year that entertained with in your face humor and over the top characters. But like all good rides this zany film company came to an end in 2011 when Seaver decided it was time to walk away and start fresh, and boy did he! When speaking to Seaver I found out that is favorite film from the LBP years was Geek War, a film about a high priced VHS tape at a comic book shop that starts a war between geeks who must own it and impress a local hot chick. This film is closely followed by The Heather and Puggly series that follows two twisted sisters who fight the devil among other baddies. Some of my favorite films from the company include Deathbone, a funny barbarian spoof film that combines all the silly elements of Conan, Deathstalker and Beastmaster.  I also like Scrotal Vengeance, a vampire film about Razor McBleed and an unlikely vampire hunter, and Carnage For The Destroyer, a film about a viking rock god coming back to kill a group of friends at a haunted house. This small write up for LBP could not give this company the epic amount of time I could spend talking about them but for now it will have to do, cause we have a Reading Rainbow date with a Warlock!

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But before we meet The Warlock, we should take a few moments and talk about LBP’s most iconic character and all around #1 primate that all the chicks dig, Teen Ape! Teen Ape is a walking talking ape man, who has the attitude of a 70’s pimp and the foul mouth of a docked sailer.  He not only fights crime but also has time to make it with the ladies and even smack them around a little. Anal Paprika 2 was his first full film appearance, and he was more toned down and was more of a breakdancing hero who didn’t even talk.  But what many fans may not know is that in 1991 Teen Ape made his first ever appearance in a short film called “I Was A Teenage Ape” that is locked in the vaults of LBP and has not been seen by the fans and never will! In his many film adventures Teen Ape has fought vampires, goblins, zombies, demons and even Mulva in a sword fight! Teen Ape’s final public fim appearance was in 2007 in the film Wet Heat where he is sent in to save the president of show business from a post apocalyptic gang of weirdos, but his real final flick was one produced by Troma in 2009 that is sitting in their vault called “Teen Ape vs. The Monster Nazi Apocalypse” in which Teen Ape teams with many more LBP favorite characters as the fight a resurrected Hitler and his new army. But good news for Teen Ape fans like me, Seaver has talked about doing a new film that’s 100% fan funded called “Teen Ape: Balls Deep.”  So if you’re looking at wanting to help Teen Ape come back to your home TV screens then you should help donate to the films budget at http://www.warlockhomevideo.com/projects.html.

-1Now it’s time to dive into the world of shot on video horror and flash back to walking down the horror aisle of your favorite video rental store checking out the amazing VHS cover art for films with titles like “Igor and The Lunatics”, “Don’t Look in The Basement” and “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” and then reading the back of the boxes with descriptions telling you just how epic the film you could be renting is. Nothing can take away those memories of the horror section at places like K&L Video, Accent Video, West Coast Video and even Blockbuster and renting films on the weekend and watching them with friends or my brother and finding gems among laugh out loud turkeys. VHS Horror films will always have a special place in my heart.  Not only in my teens did I have one massive horror tape collection but I used to also have a yearly event called “Horror Movie Marathon” that had me and friends watching horror films all day and night! One of the first Marathons I ever held was at my parents basement (aka Independent B Movie Studios) and early that morning Brandon Womeldorff and I drove around to second hand media stores Replay Media and Second Time Around and bought tons of cheesy horror films on VHS stuff like Demonoid Messenger Of Death, Terror on Tour, Devils Gift, Christmas Evil to name a few and then bought tons of potato chips, cookies and pop and invited over Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Jason Gilmore and Dave Wean and we all sat up all night eating junk food and watching bad horror films, oh the good old days. No matter how much the world tries to tell me Netflix and streaming movies will never take the place of late night tape/dvd switching with a group of your closest friends. VHS holds a lot of magic for many people my age not only with rentals it also sparked the boom of shot on VHS horror films that swept the nation when camcorders became more available to the masses and falling into the hands of people who just wanted to make their own movies. While many were bad their was an equal amount that were fun watching experiences. And for those who long for the days of amazing shot on Video Horror films, one company has come to the rescue and unleashed the flood gates of retro and nostalgia VHS goodness and thats Warlock Home Video!

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After the closing of LBP a little over a year went by and the Seaver camp was quite the fans had no news of a new Teen Ape, Bonejack or Deathbone adventure…all we got was quite time. Then in 2012 the TV screen lights shone as news of a new retro shot on video company was opening up (or is that back up?) and that the company was releasing titles both on DVD and VHS! At first a character called E.W Swackhammer appeared as the one time owner of Warlock who wanted to bring back the glory days of 80’s and 90’s shot on video films and into the hands of fans the world over, but he quickly went to the waste side as it was clear as day that this company was the brain child of Chris Seaver with the help of The Warlock (a hooded mastermind of the macabre) they set out for VHS domination! At launch they had amazing titles from the past like Death Metal Zombies, Evil Night and Amerikill and then also had some new retro style films with Death O’Lantern and Die-B-Que, and fans ate these titles up buying them on both VHS and DVD! Warlock traveled around the convention circuit and had films not only for sale but also screening, spreading their message. Many titles were to follow some new retro shot and many original old school flicks marking this companies spot in VHS collecting history. In 2013, they plan on not slowing down and when speaking to Seaver we got a little sneak peek at whats to come with titles like Phantom of the Grind House, Blood From A Minotaurs Skull, Sexsquatch 2, Death O Lantern 2, Dracula Vs Frankenstein and more retro titles are planned the coming years seem promising for fans of shot on video epics! Oh and one other thing I should say is that the cover art for Warlock releases are top notch and some amazing stuff, so make sure to take a look at them as well.

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Before we take a look at the films released by Warlock, I had the chance to speak to The Warlock himself and ask five questions….and no more, for he is a busy man looking through the vaults filled with old VHS & Beta tapes and unused scripts, and trying to pick the best ones to bring to the fans. So with this in mind let’s call this “5 Questions With The Warlock” and begin shall we? 

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Me: How Does it feel to be back, after Warlock’s long hiatus from distribution of films?

Warlock: After being unearthed from my crypt, I felt putrid, wretched and full of maggots. As for the release of the films it felt like bringing a former deceased lover back from the grave!

 Me: What are your three favorite films that have come out so far during Warlock’s rebirth?

Warlock: I cannot choose my favorite. It is like choosing your favorite way to die. They all are delightful. If I must choose I would have to say Die B Que because it was our earliest effort, Death O Lantern because it really captured the spirit of the season, and Sexsquatch because I am the star.

Me: So what do you think about this new interest in shot on video films and VHS collecting?

Warlock: I feel that VHS collecting is the most brutal of all hobbies. It is not for the weak at heart. Everything old becomes new again at some point in time.

Me: So what do you know of Teen Ape?

Warlock: I know that he is an enigma. A man of few words and all action. quite possibly the only mere mortal capable of being on the same level of brutality and carnage as the Warlock.

Me: What do you see in the future for Warlock? And can you give us any sneak peek of any upcoming titles?

Warlock: The Warlock does not divulge and secrets from his future. As far as future titles, keep up to date with upcoming releases at www.warlockhomevideo.com.

So after those brutal answers form the master of the macabre, The Warlock, let’s take a look at the films of Warlock Home Video! I will give each film’s plot a quick write up, tell you a little about the killer, compare it to some other films and tell you the director. So let’s get ready to dive into the wild world of shot on video films!

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Evil Night (1994)

Jimmy is a geek who is being picked on by the cool kids led by Peter, who on the night of his big party plays a mean prank on Jimmy that leaves him humiliated and injured thanks mostly to Jennifer who is the bait and is the one who leads him to his head trauma.  Jimmy returns home and with his chem set decides to make a toxic drink that will make him slip into madness and make him ready to get REVENGE on all those who have made him the fool and the butt of jokes. But revenge does come with a price when your main target is as smart as you. The killer is Jimmy a crazed drugged up nerd who is wearing a long black rode and a giant smiling evil clown mask. Fans of films like Slaughter High, Horror High, Prom Night, Toxic Avenger and other films of nerds getting revenge will enjoy this film for the fun back yard splatter effects, over the top acting, and a clown masked killer.  Best Kill is the exploding cigarette that takes off the top of its victim’s head that then splats on the wall! Directed by Todd Jason Cook. 

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Death Metal Zombies (1995)

A small town is being stalked by a serial killer wearing a Richard Nixon mask who is killing at random. Brad Masters is a metal head who is in a small band, has a hot blonde girlfriend Angel and is a super fan of the band Living Corpse who is doing a special one of a kind song give away on the radio.  Brad wins the contest and listens to the special song with a few of his friends.  The song has a message in it that turns them all into flesh eating zombies and are ruled by Living Corpse! Now Angel must find away to survive, find a way to save her friends and stop Living Corpse’s plan to destroy the world. The villains in this film are the zombies,Nixon Killer a masked madman who wears a suit and a Richard Nixon mask and Living Corpse a rock band who’s lead singer is some sort of demon. Fans of Toxic Zombies, Hard Rock Zombies and Red Neck Zombies should like this no budget zombie romp for a rocking metal soundtrack, great backyard gore effects, boobs, satanic band members, zombies and a masked killer make this one a fun watch for no budget fans. Best Kill in the movie has a guy get stabbed in the butt as he sits down then has a zombie punch through his chest. Directed by Todd Jason Cook. This is a Chris Seaver recommended film!

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Amerikill (1999)

Woodbridge Valley is a small town that has a killer on the loose called Jester Face! A group of High School friends who are horror film fans and filmmakers are shocked by the killings, and these real life deaths are affecting the group’s next movie when lead actress Natalie starts to question if she should act and watch horror flicks.  And when Jester Face sets his sights on the group of friends, what is to come of them and the group’s next epic shot on video film? The killer in the film, Jester Face, is a white masked killer who wears a jester hat and a long black robe. Fans of Scream, Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, My Bloody Valentine and other who’s the killer films should enjoy this flick for its quick wit characters, blazing punk/ska soundtrack, fun backyard gore effects and a fun plot. Best kill is a girl who falls face first into tree limbs while trying to escape the killer and pokes her eye out.  Directed by Chris LaMartina.

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Death O’Lantern (1986/2012)

Sleepy Hollow has a legend about a pumpkin headed killer named Stingy Jack who must steal five more souls before Halloween night after he takes the life of a teen.  Phoebe, a horror fan and her friends from Sleepy Hollow High get the news and are amazed by the death and spend time talking of horror films and death.  As Jack claims more lives, Phoebe finds the truth of his legend and must stop him from freeing himself of his curse by killing six kids and being able to walk the Earth.  But will Phoebe and her horror club be able to stop this supernatural killer or will they just become one on the unlucky six?  The killer in the film is Stingy Jack, a unworldly killer with a pumpkinhead and robe. Fans of Sleep Hollow High, Pumpkinhead, Ernest Scared Stupid and Monster Squad will love this nice throw back film with a fun plot, great one liners, zany characters, top notch retro backyard effects and a cool killer. Best kill in the movie is when Jack rams a lit candle stick through the back of a guys head and it pops out his eye.  Directed by Rudy Bellafonte. This film is recommended by Chris Seaver and Myself!

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Die-B-Que (1986/2012)

Party animals DJ and Rick are throwing a huge BBQ party and have invited all their friends over for some fun times. Moonbeam and her boyfriend Brody are deep in love and don’t really want to be at this get together.  When a sick rat takes a leak in the beer and on the meat at the cook out, the hosts and the rest of the party goers turn into flesh eating zombies! Will the lovebirds escape with their lives? Killers in the film are zombies and an infected rat. Fans of Marion Playhouse Theatre, Frankenstein Stalks and Dr. Freak Vamp Killa will enjoy this film for its on purpose bad acting, silly make up and gore effects and goofy plot. Best kill scene in the movie is when the party guests are infected and puke up nasty green goo and then all die only to return as zombies.  Directed by Jackson Furley. 

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Happy Helladays (1987/2012)

The year is 1987, and 12 year old orphan Alistair is being raised at Omega Pi sorority house and is made fun of by the sisters for his weird appearance with huge pop bottle glasses, greasy slicked back hair, annoying voice and short stature. But things get out of hand on Christmas Eve when the sisters shove a slice of pizza in his face and then boo him off the stage at his Christmas recital. These actions drive the little creep over the edge and he decides that its time for revenge as murder is his answer to his bullying. How many PI sisters will live and will his mother Nikki be able to stop his rampage?  Killer Alistair is a short nerd kid with huge glasses and is wearing a Santa suit. Fans of Silent Night Deadly Night 2, Black Christmas, Christmas Evil and Santa’s Slay will enjoy this flick for its killer holiday theme, creepy weird killer in a Santa suit, funny dialogue, wicked backyard effects and fun soundtrack. Best kill of the movie is when the killer sings in a high pitch making the young woman he is tormenting bleed from her eyes, mouth, ears and nose and then puke up her insides.  Directed by Rudy Bellafonte. This film is recommended by Chris Seaver. 

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Werewolf Of Ohio (1999)

Josh is a young man whose family has been killed by a werewolf called The Wolf Man causing Josh to become obsessed with getting revenge.  So he hires the help of a film student to follow him around and video tape his quest/  He also gets the help of The Wolf Hunter a man who kills werewolves for a living, the spirit of his dead sister who speaks to him via his mind and an all seeing gypsy who knows the secrets of the beast.  While the heroes search for the Wolf Man he spends his time killing townspeople, will Josh and friends be able to stop this blood thirsty monsters rampage or will they become just more victims?  The film’s baddie is The Wolfman, a werewolf who wears flannel and a robe who stays a wolf forever. Fans of Blair Witch Project, The Wolf Man, Silver Bullet and Werewolf will like this film for its classic looking werewolf mask, its found footage style flow, its backyard effects and its hammy acting. Best kill in the movie is when one of the lead characters has his guts ripped out by The Wolf Man. Directed by Matt Brassfield.

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The Dingleberrys (1987/2012)

Phoebe and the Sleepy Hollow High Horror Club are at it again when some unknown object crashes to Earth.  Inside are four nasty little talking turd monsters who kill victims by pooing on them.  Phoebe and friends are not alone when they get the help of a intergalactic bounty hunter named Quasar who is armed with piss shooting pistols. Can they stop these stinky poo monsters or is the whole world going to be a toilet bowl for these nasty little critters? The monsters is the film are four poo monsters all with different looks that range from Woody Allen to a wise Chinese Master. Fans of Ghoulies, Critters, Munchies and Troll will love this film for its tiny puppet creatures, over the top plot, poop jokes, fun Ed Wood like sets and over the top deaths & acting. Best kill in the movies is when the four Dingleberrys attack a goof metal head in his kitchen and poo him up. Directed by Rudy Bellafonte. 

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The Sadness (2006)

A young college girl finds the murdered body of her neighbor and sees the killer exit the house.  The next day she makes the mistake of talking about the killing on her two best friends collage radio show drawing the killer out to of hiding and slaughtering a path of brutal murders to silence them once and for all in the late night hollow hallways of the school. Oh did I mention he films the dead bodies of the females he murders and keeps the tape as a reminder of the act? Will the friends be able to survive the killers rage? The films killer is The Sadness, a tall man who wears all black, wears a red and black mask and a black wig. Fans of See No Evil, Halloween 2 and Cry Wolf will like this film for its creepy late night collage setting, solid backyard gore effects, cheesy acting, boyfriend & girlfriend drama and a 80’s style killer. Best kill in the movie is when The Sadness sneaks into a woman’s house wakes her up and stabs her in the bathtub, then video tapes the aftermath. Directed by Matt Brassfield. 

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Sexsquatch (2012)

Joe is a young man who’s friends and family are throwing a lake party for so that he can loose his virginity and his dream girl Jennifer is his choice. But in the woods around the house lurks Stinkfist, a Sexsquatch from another world who has an appetite for butt rape and murder.  One by one the friends are dying & being raped but the party continues, until Joe and his remaining friends must have a showdown with one horny Stinkfist. Do they stand a chance? Will Joe get laid by Jennifer? And what surprise character joins in the final fight? The killer is Stinkfist a bigfoot like creature who is covered in brown fur and talks like a hip foul mouthed teen. Fans of Night of the Demon, Shriek of the Mutilated, Capture of Bigfoot and Bigfoot will love this movie for its fun characters, over the top sexual nature, returning characters from both Warlock and LBP films and gut wrenching gore. Best kill in the movie has Stinkfest rip the intestines out of a dude and chokes him with it.  Directed by Chris Seaver. This is the first official new Warlock film. 

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An Evening With My Great Aunt Bedelia (1993/2012)

Edith is a small thrift store owner who finds out that her rich grandma has just passed away and the reading of her will is being held at the family house. When she arrives with her boyfriend, she finds that she is only left a book while her creepy Great Aunt Bedelia is left the money and the house, and when she meets the lover of her Grandma she learns that her Great Aunt is really a demon who feeds on human souls.  Now Edith must find the clues and power to put an end to Demon Bedelia once and for all. The films monster is Great Aunt Bedelia who is a hairy chested woman with curly black hair and a black dress who transforms into a demon when she needs to feed. Fans of films like Night of the Demons, Rabid Grannies and Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare will enjoy this film for its amazing soundtrack, fun backyard effects, demon killer, landmark sets and cheesy acting. Best kill in the film is when the Demon plays games with a young child then chases him home only to pop his eyes out! Directed by Tobe Lerone. 

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Bloody Red Lips Of Blood (1989/2012)

Two lesbian vampires pick up girls at the local rock club and drain them of their blood. But they make the mistake when they kill the daughter of Professor Bartel who now is working on finding out who his child’s killer is when he don’t think the police are working fast enough. With the help of his daughter’s friend Amy they track down and want revenge on those who took a loved one away from them, but will they succeed or will they find out that revenge has a price? The film’s killers are Karen and Lisa who are vampire lovers who wear 80’s style outfits and have long sharp fangs! Fans of Titanic 2000, Embrace Of The Vampire and To Sleep With A Vampire will like this film for its lesbian vampire themes, bloody boobs, use of a NES, fun storyline, backyard gore and no budget acting. Best kill in the movie when one vampire bites her female victim in the shower. Directed by Nigel Cheeseball.

Warlock has a little something for all horror fans from zombies, slashers and vampires to demons, bigfoot and aliens making sure that fans of no budget shot on video horror have many baddies to choose from. This company has quickly became one of my favorite no budget companies, and I always look forward to new releases being added to the list. Plus it was an honor when they asked to release two of my older films Werewolf of Ohio and The Sadness both on VHS and DVD, and I hope more films of mine from the past to present will come out from this fun company. Not to mention the fact when Warlock rereleased Werewolf of Ohio convention Fright Night Film Fest who had booked Baron Von Porkchop all ready also added me as a director to the guest list! 

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While I have been very productive on making the TV show Terrifying Tales of The Macabre, I have been behind on my film making.  In fact the last film I was making was called “It’s In The Crawlspace,” and a few production issues has set it back to the point of years being on the shelf.  The film started in 2009 and just as of late looks like it might see the light of day in 2013. So to keep myself still in the film making world I have set my sights on producing and have put money in such films as Filthy Mcnasty 4, Church of the Eyes, Depression The Movie, Babysitter Massacre, Return to Blood Fart Lake, Consumption of the Heart, Sexsquatch and even Wolf Hunter 2. Doing this helps keep my creative mind fresh and I get to see films of my friends like Henrique Couto, Chris Seaver, Andy Copp and Matt Hoffman come alive and makes me feel good helping these guys make art. I have been speaking about coming back and filming a few new films but only time will tell if this really happens, so keep your eye to this blog for any update on that.

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I hope this entry found some of you wondering about Warlock Home Video, and I hope many of you will take the few extra moments and check out their website and maybe even order a DVD or two of these fun shot on video horror adventures.  While they are not Citizen Cane they sure as hell all deliver on a fun cheesy watch, until next time stay creepy my friends.

Marvel Smurfs

I was born on September 8th 1979, and I was lucky to be a kid through both the 80’s and 90’s. Much like every kid from my generation, I loved toys, video games, horror films, Saturday Morning Cartoons, horror hosts, surgery breakfast cereal, pro wrestling and of course comic books. I grew up in a small town (Waynesville, Ohio) that was dubbed the antique capital, and from day one I was the strange kid who spent his time drawing demons, the rock band Kiss and Frankenstein’s Monster and never making the move on the girl of my dreams who just so happened to be good friends with my next door neighbor who at that time was basically my best friend. I know you’re all thinking wow what a wuss, but if you would have seen how beautiful this young lady was and how she could make your heart skip a beat you would understand why a oddball like me in my Ultimate Warrior or Alice Cooper shirt never made a move.

On Saturdays my mom would take my brother and I to the neighboring town to a store called Big Bear & Hearts and for grocery shopping/ The store was one half food (Big Bear) and the other half department store (Hearts). Cool things in this store included not only the Street Fighter II Arcade Machine but also the giant stuffed bear that was like your greeter. The toy department was magical in my eyes and was always packed with the newest G.I. Joe, Transformer, Battle Beast, WWF wrestler and every other new figures. If we were good we would get a toy and usually along with it a comic or a Mad or Cracked Magazine. I was always into The Incredible Hulk and Captain America and most of the time that’s what I would pick to go alongside my new Monster in My Pocket, G.I. Joe or whatever toy I was into that month. Then we would be off. After we checked out and would stop at the store’s snack bar for an Icee (Blue Berry or Coke) and sometimes a soft pretzel or nachos, we would get home in time to watch Commander USA’s Groovie Movies or sometimes Grandpa Munster host his Super Scary Saturday film on TBS.

Comic Books were a fun way to leave reality and to step into the boots of your favorite hero or villain, leaving behind all the annoying life drama just for the brief moments it took you to read the issue. DC had some great heroes like Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman and Flash. While they had some great issues and characters, I have always been a Marvel man due to amazing characters like Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Man-Thing, Iron Man and Thor. Marvel also had great comics based on toylines like Transformers and G.I. Joe. Comic books have always been apart of my life thanks to my Mother who bought them for me, my older brother Bryan who read them to me when I was younger, my Uncle Thurman who gave me many of his older issues and my cousin Chris Jones who got me one of my first new Hulk issues off the newsstand when we has babysitting me.

Comics and other things from my youth made me more creative and lead to me to making my own comic books with such characters as Benny the Squirrel, Robo Raccoon, Fred The Mole, Mr. Emo and many more. Most of the comics I made were to amuse myself and sometimes my Mom and friends. But even without any real talent for drawing, my Mom and Dad would encourage me to keep up the good work. I was never really good at art so the hobby faded, but the creative bug stayed with me and lead me into the world of films and TV shows. To this day I am the proud owner of two small film companies, Independent B Movie and Bloodline Video, and have made such films as Werewolf of Ohio, The Sadness, Cocktober Blood, Bark at the Moon: Scars and am currently making the popular horror host show Terrifying Tales of the Macabre hosted by Baron Von Porkchop. So for all those people that were told comics will rot your brain, that’s in no way true…well maybe not completely true.

One off the wall brand that always peeked my interest even before I was in school was Star Comics, the kiddy branch of the mighty Marvel Comic juggernaut. They would make comics about popular cartoons or toy lines and were be a cheap way for parents to keep us youngsters happy till the next episode. One of the first times I discovered Star Comics was when I was really young and a cereal company gave away free issues with a mail-in. Oh the good old days of amazing and cheap prizes in your cereal! So this little blog is about re-living my youth, looking back at Star Comics, Topps Comics and other wonderful Marvel Comics that have always peeked my interest that are not normally what you would think of when someone says Marvel. And who knows, maybe I will review some other comics based on cartoons, toys, video games and TV shows from other companies. So let’s start this off with looking back at The Smurfs’ short run at Marvel.

I am going to grade these comics on a standard one to four star scale. For each issue I am going to be grading the story, the art, how true it was to the cartoon or toyline it was based on and its entertainment value. So with that said, let’s look at The Smurfs!

Smurfs #1  **

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #1 of 3

The premiere issue is filled with three major stories and a few small fillers. Major story number one is called “ The Smurf Plane” and shows a Smurf building an airplane to impress the other Smurfs and later using his plane to save Smurfette from the evil Gargamel. “Nearer. My Smurf, To Thee!” is the second and has a Smurf who is trying so hard to hit the bullseye on the target with his bow and arrow. The third major story “The Smurf of Youth” has Smurfette fearing she is getting old and ugly and conning two other Smurfs into following her and a strange map she found to the fountain of youth, that really is just another sinister trap from Gargamel. Once more they don’t fall for it and escape unharmed.

The first thing you notice upon opening up this issue is the so-so art work that almost seems more of an amateur’s drawings for a youngster in their family. While it’s not that bad, it’s still puzzling to me how the Smurfs in this issue just don’t seem to look right. The sub par artwork aside, for a premiere issue it seemed very dull and rushed with the third major story “The Smurf of Youth” being the best in the book and keeping a silly fun shallow vibe throughout. I am puzzled as to why no one besides Papa Smurf questioned Smurfette as she vainly insulted herself by saying that because she’s older she is ugly, so one can only imagine just how foul Papa must be in her eyes. Smurfette does not come off as a good person in this issue and like I perviously stated seems self-absorbed. The first story is fun yet really anti-climatic. And the second story while “cute” still is just a filler entry. The best moment in this part being a Smurf using bees as darts. Most of the smaller stories also seemed like page filler and while fun and silly, they really just left you wishing the writers would have just made one solid story. Oh and a really odd thing is that Gargamel keeps calling Smurfette “The Smurfette” making for some odd reading. I mean is there some fake Smurfette running around as well? This comic doesn’t capture the good natured heart and soul of the cartoon and almost seems like a strange fan made comic. This issue # 1 didn’t impress me, and really gives a person nothing to talk about besides Smurfette’s shallowness sticking out like a sore thumb. I am sure even in my youth I would have found this issue to be a bland way to bring the Smurfs to comics. The cover on this one, while okay, should not have been used for an issue one. This looks like it should have been the cover for an issue after # 6! And man look at the Smurf in the plane he just looks super pissed off to see Gargamel!

Smurfs #2  **

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #2 of 3

This second issue is much like the first and has three major stories and a handful of small fillers. The first major story is “The Smurfs and the Evil Bird,” in which Gargamel turns himself into a bird to sneak into the Smurf village to kill them all while they sleep. But his plan is discovered by Papa Smurf who runs him out of the village but not before he takes a hostage! With the help of Mr. Crane, they get the Smurf back and Gargamel gets his. Second is “Smurf the Birdie” where Farmer Smurf wants to protect his corn seeds from the birds and must find the perfect scarecrow. After a failed one, he gets a statue of Smurfette that keeps the birds away because of all the Smurfs are just staring at the statue! This leads also into a few pages of Smurfs trying to win Smurfette’s affections. The final story is “Sticky Smurf” in which Gargamel uses a sticky sundae to capture a Smurf but the treat turns out to be so sticky that he also gets stuck in the desert! And of course it’s up to Papa Smurf to come up with a position to free his trapped friend.

This is not an improvement over the disappointing issue one and still has the same bland art inside. This time around also rocks one hell of a lame cover, I mean take a good look at the cover. While the bird and the background look okay, the Smurfs on the ground look terrible. In this second issue the best of the main stories would have to be the opener “The Smurfs and the Evil Bird.” This seems like it could have easily been on the cartoon and also makes for a shocking moment as Gargamel tries to smother the Smurfs with smoke as he clogs the chimney of Papa Smurf hoping to kill him. Also I should state that in this issue it’s shown that the Smurfs drink Brandy! Wow, these Marvel Comic Smurfs are badass party animals! That’s one thing I have noticed so far, Marvel has changed some of this happy go lucky kids cartoon’s concepts into a little more sinister and sly ways to work in some adult style shockers from drinking to narcissism to even murder, making the issues a little more enjoyable to see just how much they will push the limit. The best moment in this one comes when a Smurf wins a kiss from Smurfette after he brings her was she thinks is a fur scarf, that turns out to be really a pet caterpillar! Smurfette being the classy woman she is throws the insect out and is mad for not getting a real fur like she thought. Wow, what a Smurfy Bitch! Issue two is only slightly better than issue one and still does not bring the charm of the cartoon to cheap comic paper. Maybe issue three, the final in the Marvel Smurf series, will be just the right amount of fun this series needs.

Smurfs #3   **1/2

Released in 1982     Cover Price .60     Marvel Comics     #3 of 3

This is the third and final issue and once more it semi-follows the formula of the past two issues with this time only two main stories and a few filler ones. Story one “ Monster Smurf” shows how all the other Smurfs get sick of Jokey Smurf’s pranks and decide to pull an ultimate prank on him in return. Then up is “Smurf Ball” were Hefty Smurf is two strong to play smurfball with the others so Handy rigs up a ball on a rubber band that Hefty can play with on his own and it leads to him on accidentally leading Gargamel to the village. It’s up to his quick thinking to save the day.

This third go around is still a major let down. While this issue is closer to the cartoon, it still lacked something to make it rise above and pull it out from being a two and a half star issue. This issue’s best offer is “Monster Smurf” just due to the fact it showed Jokey Smurf being the prankster we all knew and loved from the cartoon. This one also took out the third story and focused more on short stories that mostly dealt with Harmony Smurf and his lack of ability to carry a note. It was also nice to see an issue that focused on other Smurfs beside Smurfette who seemed to be a huge part of the past two issues. Like I said earlier, this one is the closest out of the comics run to capture the lighthearted fun tone of the cartoon and is the best issue in the series for doing so. The cover is also an improvement and is more eye catching and better drawn than the issues that came before it. So it seems just as the series seemed to be changing for the good, it was cancelled never to fully redeem itself.

My connections to the world of the Smurfs in my youth was very loose. While I watched the cartoon and enjoyed it, I only had a few of the small figures and they acted as the wussy background characters the good guys had to protect when I would have my all out toy wars. I also remember my Grandmother had a few on a shelf that when we would visit she would let us play. She also had glasses we drank from. My aunt also had a few, but again the toy line was never my thing. The cartoon and toys were always thought of more as a girl items with all their positive messages, cheesy romantic figures and no beat ’em up action or moveable parts so I am not sure why Marvel, who mostly made comics for young males, decided to make this short comic series. It also makes me wonder why only three issues – were the sales that bad they pulled the plug on it fast? Or were the people who owned the rights to the Smurfs that hard to work with? I tend to think that it probably started out as a trial run with only three issues being made with the option of more, but sales were most likely mediocre at best and the deal was just not in the cards. I happened to get these issues at Maverick Cards and Comics run by Jack Maverick in Kettering, Ohio in 2008 in a brand new sealed three pack that someone before me bought at K-Mart for a dollar when it was released. I paid three for the set! Not a bad pick up at all and they sure did come in handy for this blog. But now I am off topic. Over all Marvel’s Smurf run was a mediocre outing with some odd behavior coming from the pint size blue little bastards. The issues did not wow me now and I would be so bold to say that even in my youth I would have not been impressed.

On a fun side note in 1982, a Smurf game called “Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle” was released for both Coleco Vison and Atari 2600 and marked the first time the characters would be in a video game. The little blue mushroom house living icons would also have games on many of the top systems such as Playstation, Nintendo DS, Wii, NES, PC and many more home systems!

One thing I have noticed about Smurfs as well is that almost every one of my girlfriends (past and present) have loved them! I am not sure what the appeal is to women but they seem to really have a bound to the Smurfs. In fact here is a pic of my current girlfriend’s Smurf Collection and this is a drop in the hat compared to how many she really has.

Another thing I would like to briefly talk about is “The Smurfs Enchanted Voyage,” a boat ride at Kings Island Amusement Park here in Ohio. The ride would have you sit in a boat and travel down a path that had scenes all around you and voices and the theme song would play throughout. I first heard about this ride via my mother who went to the theme park for a Christmas celebration with her friend and was able to ride it. Many years later my brother and I went to the park with some family members and were able to ride it and I must say, being young the ride was pretty sweet! I remember being amazed by the Smurfs from around the world. Sadly the ride is no longer running and has been changed to many different things that included “The Phantom Theater”. Below are some pics of the ride. Sadly I did not take these myself – I was able to find them online, so thanks to whom ever shared these pics with the world.

In 2011 the Smurfs came to the silver screen for the first time and guess what? It was not an animated feature film but a CGI live action one! I have not seen the film nor do I have any desires to, but it did do well at the box office showing that these little blue forest dwellers still pack a punch in the eyes of the youth.

So my next update I think we will look at Marvel’s A-Team run that also only ran for three issues, and I will share some of my fond memories of Mr. T and the A-Team.

Oh yeah, and this blog is a work in progress and I am still working out the bugs of how I want things set up, but I hope you enjoyed this entry and I hope reading also helped trigger some past fun memories for you.