It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

Animals can be a person’s best friend, but they can also be very scary and can not only kill and eat you but also can spread diseases and wipe out hundreds, if not millions, of people with the likes of plagues and rabies. Today’s update will be a quick one focusing on scary animals, pets, disease and a comic miniseries by Action Lab Comics’ horror branch, The Danger Zone, called The Final Plague. I have to say that Action Lab: Danger Zone has locked itself as a great company for horror comic readers as they not only do original series but they have also teamed up with Full Moon Entertainment to bring us high quality comics based on their films like Puppet Master and Gingerdead Man. The one thing that is really cool about Action Lab is that their Editor In Chief Shawn Gabborin is very interactive with the readers and loves comic books in general, something that I feel is lacking in other companies that are just doing series for money and not with love and the enjoyment to entertain.  I think Shawn and Action Lab are in this comic game for all the right reasons. So get into your hazmat suit as it’s time to walk among the infected animals from the twisted world of The Final Plague!

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The Black Plague spread across Europe from 1346-1353 and infected and killed up to 200 million people all thanks to fleas on rats that infected people through bites and contaminated food supplies. In 1975, the first case of Lyme Disease was diagnosed.  It is also spread from tick bites with symptoms that include fatigue, a bullseye rash and feeling like you have a bad case of the flu.  If not treated, it will cause brain issues as well as infects joints and organs. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease, not only infects cows but also humans who eat meat from an infected cow.  It causes major brain and nerve issues. Swine Influenza, aka Swine Flu, is a virus that infects pigs who can then pass onto humans.  In 2009, an outbreak happened that left around 203,000 people dead. The Bird Flu, or Avian Influenza is a sickness that kills birds and can spread to humans via infected meat and the process of preparing the infected bird for slaughter. And let’s not forget Rabies, a disease that infects animals minds and causes them to go mad with rage before death finally comes for them.  If a human is bitten by an infected animal such as a dog, cat, raccoon or opossum they as well are driven mad. These are just a drop in the hat of the viruses and diseases that we as human beings can be infected by thanks to our animal friends that we share this world with.

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If the fact that animals and their viruses and diseases can infect and kill us all doesn’t have you creeped out, let us not forgot that many animals are also man-eaters and will feast on our flesh with their razor sharp teeth and claws. Over the years bears, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats, alligators, hippos, sharks, hogs and so many others have killed and eaten humans. Let us also not forget that many animals and insects like spiders, frogs, snakes and gila monsters can poison you with their toxins and rancid bites. So in other words, nature is scary!! Growing up, my mother was scared of dogs and hogs, while I was scared of that bison at Fantasy Farm and many other people in the world have fear of animals from spiders to roaches all the way to mice some animals can also scare people to death just by being around them! Growing up I had lots of dreams about being attacked by animals with the most recent being about me in a outdoor shopping mall along with some friends looking at paperback books and music CD’s when all of a sudden the outdoor mall was under attack by grizzly bears! All the people started to run as the bears attacked, and I found myself alongside one of my friends in a metal locker as one of the bears tried so hard to break in and eat us! Almost all my dreams about attacking animals have been about grizzly bears…I wonder if in a past life I was attacked by one….who knows. But one thing is for sure, when you are out in the woods watch out for predator animals as you might just end up being lunch for one.

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While the world is filled with real life animal attacks, Hollywood wanted to also cash in on the idea of when animals attack and has graced both the big and small screen with films based on just that idea. Who can forget such classic animal run wild films as The Birds (1963), Willard (1971), Frogs (1972), The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), Piranha (1978), Cujo (1983), Rats: Night Of Terror (1984) and so many more! Let’s also not forget when Hollywood decided to make the animals bigger because regular sized ones just couldn’t cut it.  So they delivered Tarantula (1955), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Food Of The Gods (1976), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Alligator (1980) and Island Claws (1980) to name a select few. To this day, Hollywood is making when animals attack style horror films, as they understand people’s primitive fears of animals that kill and can’t be reasoned with. Do yourself a favor if you’re into horror films, have some friends and family over and have a Horror Movie Marathon with all killer animal films and then go for a walk in the woods the next day and see if you can spook yourself from the sounds of nature around you.

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Over my lifetime I have had many pets who have added friendship and entertaining moments that will stick with me forever. Droopy was the first dog in my life as he was around when I was really young.  Sadly, he was stolen while the family went on vacation.  You long time readers will remember I spoke about him on my Foofur update. For a short time after Droopy, my dad rescued a little tiger striped kitten from the side of the highway/  Some a-hole put him in a bag and left him to die…he was bitten badly by fleas, and we took him home nursed him back to health and found him a forever home.  Both of these were before I was even in kindergarten and were our Kettering pets. Also in Kettering was Roxanne, a cockatoo bird that we rescued from outside.  She lived with us for many years and even moved with us to Waynesville and was such a sweet bird who loved us all. Moving to Waynesville, we found a baby opossum that was orphaned when its mother was hit by a car.  I named him Baby Chuck.  He stayed with us for a while, and we had to feed him milk via an eye dropper. Baby Chuck would find his permanent home at a nature reserve thanks to a nice older man who allowed him to live on his land and grow old. My neighbor raised mice and after begging and, I am sure, whining, my parents allowed me to have two of them, females that I called Grey and White.  They were my best friends and both of them loved just hanging out with me while I played Nintendo, read books and comics and even watched TV. Sadly, White passed away from a tumor, and Grey passed away from old age…it was a very sad day for me as I loved them both and they were part of the family for sure as my parents and brother as well enjoyed their tiny friendship. Later on I would get another mouse, this time a male that I named Ben. He was also a lovable little guy who enjoyed his life with me as my friend pet. We also had a big aquarium and many fish, but one was very special as we had him for many, many years.  He grew to be the biggest gold fish in our tiny glass pond, and we called him Gil.  He sadly passed away from old age, my Dad really loved that silly fish. My Aunt Laverne and cousin Nick gave me a hamster that I called S.P.G, named after the pet hamster from the BBC show “The Young Ones.”  While most of the time he was friendly, he did have a nasty habit of biting.  He lived a long life that was filled with many blood drawing moments. When moving back to Kettering, my parents bought me a German Shepard puppy that we named Stella.  She was a goofy dog that I had many adventures with as I was the new kid and she was my best friend as by that time both my parents worked as did my brother and that left me home alone a lot.  She was like me always, ready to run around and discover the world around. Stella was a great dog and while she was scared of almost everything, when she thought I was ever in danger she would turn into a protective beast ready for a fight.  I can remember one time some neighbors set off fireworks and she jumped in front of me and was ready to fight the bright sky lights. Stella lived a long life and sadly had to be put to sleep after old age kicked in and she had major medical issues that left her forgetting how to eat and drink…it was a very sad day. When I got older and moved away from home and in with my then girlfriend Misty Altick, I got her a kitten she named Neptune, but I called him Poops.  He was a silly cat who grew up to be a chubby very loving cat.  I used to make up stories about him being wanted by rival cats and how he was this ultimate badass. During this time, I also got an older female cat named Gracie who was on a final sale at a local pet store.  Gracie was very odd but loved me with all her little heart.  Funny enough, she hated Misty and when we first got her she spent many nights hissing at Misty as well as scratching her. Gracie and Poops had babies together later on and each of them found homes, but they lived with us for awhile and they were all very lovable little creatures who loved to sleep, climb and scream at me.  We named a few of them Poops Jr., Grizz, Midnight. Sadly when Misty and I broke up, I had to leave the cats behind and she would later on give them away to her friends.  I wonder what has happened to them many nights. About 11 years ago, while dating Jennifer Perkins, she bought me a kitten from a local pet shop that I named Leslie.  She has been my best pal for so long that I cannot imagine not having her sleeping on my chest at night or sitting next to me as I write these blogs. Leslie is truly my favorite pet I have ever owned! Also about 6 years ago, my current girlfriend Juliet and I took in a stray male cat from around our apartment that I named Streets J. Cat.  He is a Norwegian forest cat who is as goofy as goofy can be and is a well loved addition to our little home, even if Leslie hates him! So while nature can be scary, they can also be very lovable and add so much to the lives of owners who have pets. Below are pictures of Leslie and Streets, the two current goofy balls that share my life with me.

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So as you can see, nature can be scary as well as sweet and brighten up you life, and with that I think, it’s time for us to jump into a comic series that I have been very hyped to read ever since I found out about it in late 2015. As you long time readers know, I am a big fan of horror comics and love to discover and read new series and issues that catch my attention, and The Final Plague did just that after finding it on Action Lab’s website and seeing the cover for issue one with a hooded man holding a rat eating a human eyeball made me have to track down the series.  For some reason it was really hard to find the single issues as the graphic novel was all over the place. But thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Lone Star Comics and Amazon I was able to get the complete single issue run! And while I am sitting here writing, this my cat Leslie wants me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. See having pets sure can be helpful when you have a blog like this as they can remind you to place the star grading for the over 100th time.

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The Final Plague # 1  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 1 of 5

It’s 2012, and for some reason rats and other pets has become more aggressive and seem to be diseased. A lab in New Jersey has found that their lab rats have been bleeding from the eyes and are becoming very violent.  One even spit its own blood into the eyes and mouth of a lab assistant causing her and the mice to be put into quarantine. Meanwhile in New York, a drunk homeless man is attacked by a pack of crazed virus infected rats! In Iowa at the Michaels family farm, they are having issues with these rats in their cellar, and when one goes on the attack Helen, the mother of the family, has to cut off its head to get it to stop attacking their daughter Sarah.  She orders her husband Robert and son Thomas after dinner to go to the cellar and kill off the rats that are scratching at the door. Helen is sick with cancer but is still trying her best to be the backbone for her family and cooks a roast for dinner, and she finds out her husband has invited Alan, the town’s exterminator, over for dinner and help to kill off the rats in the cellar. During dinner Alan is telling the family about how the whole town is being infested with pests and that business is booming as everyone wants these aggressive animals exterminated.  After dinner Alan goes into the cellar to kill some rats when something goes wrong and he screams and comes up stairs covered with rats who are eating his flesh!

The Final Plague’s starting story is this: animals are acting really odd and have gotten some sort of virus that is making their eyes bleed as well as hungry for human flesh and are becoming aggressive and hard to kill.  This is spreading throughout the United States,  but we mainly focus on the Michaels family in Iowa as they have a cellar full of nasty rats who end up attacking the local exterminator! Plus we throw in the lab workers in New Jersey who are gearing up to understanding what this virus is. The Michaels family are good hard working country people who are taking care of their farm, and mother Helen is a strong person who, while ill with cancer, is still doing all she can to provide and help her family including cooking and even bashing rats to death that make an attempt to attack her family. The character who gets the worst attack, besides the drunken bum, is Allen who by the end of the issue is running around swarmed with rats all that are biting and ripping at his flesh. So far I am kind of digging the flow of the story as it’s clear this is just the start of something way worse that will lead to many human deaths and the animals around the globe will be the cause of it! The character I am liking the most at this point is a tie between Robert and Helen both who are hard working people who seem to enjoy farm life as well as family life. The issue is not a blood bath but does have some of the red stuff that helps add to the horror of it all. The cover is amazing and super eye catching. I wish the hooded character who appears on it was actually in it, but sadly he is not and to be honest, he is what made me want to read this series in the first place. The art inside is interesting and while not the style I normally like, I will still say it’s solid and is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown who clearly does have talent. Issue one was pretty cool and a nice build up issue for this story so let’s hope that issue two gives us some more clues to why this is happing and if Alan will survive the attack of the rats in the Michaels’s farmhouse.

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The Final Plague # 2  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 2 of 5

Alan is torn to shreds by the killer rats that now attack the family and bite Robert several times, but he and his son Thomas are able to capture many of the rats in an old toolbox that they now plan to burn in a fire! Alan is dead, and the family is in shock.  The only thing they can do is call 911 in order to remove the body of Alan and tell the local law what has happened. Meanwhile, back in the lab in New Jersey, they find that the rats are almost un-killable and that they have a strange fluid in them as well as give off a foul smell and this worries them as it could sweep across the world and infect many more animals. All around animals are attacking humans, from dogs eating an old woman and then turning on the cops, to the Michaels family cat who is returning to life after being part eaten by the rats! The Michaels Family leave the farm as the town sheriff Frank starts his investigation into the death of Alan and the rats that are crazed in the basement. Meanwhile the scientist are having issues of their own as the army have taken over the lab and have it on lockdown until the CDC can show up, and the lab assistant bitten by the rat is now a crazed cannibal who has attacked and killed a fellow worker!

The plague is spreading in this second issue.  The Michaels family leave their farm as the local law shows up to investigate the death of the towns exterminator while the government is now taking over the lab and want to declare a level 4 emergency! The Michael Family is scared, confused and strong as they do what they can in order to help the dying Alan with father Robert even being bitten several times by the infected rats. The scientists want to do what they can in order to figure out what is causing this plague, but they have a thorn in their side thanks to the army! The animals that are running wild and eating flesh this go-round are rats and dogs.  Plus it shows that a dead cat is coming back and that humans can be infected making me wonder what the fate of Robert Michaels will be as he has been bitten twice. The issue is drenched in blood and gore as people are killed as are animals complete with guts exposed showing that this Danger Zone comic is not pulling any punches. This second issue was the hardest one in the series for me to find, and I am glad I was able to find it and do this review. The cover this time around is an infected animal and is ok but not nearly as eye catching as issue one.  In fact, I am sure it was lost in the crowd of brighter and more appealing covers when it was released. Again the interior artwork is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and once more is good but not what I normally like in my comics as it’s just a little to sloppy. Well issue two is done and the plot is ticking, so let’s see what issue three has in store for the world as the diseased animals are on the loose and want to eat and infect mankind! I also want to note that the hooded man from the cover of issue one does not show up in this one either and that’s a letdown.

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The Final Plague # 3  **
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 3 of 5

At the lab an attempt is being prepared to enter the holding cell to restrain the infected lab assistant who is now being called Patient Zero as she has bitten, chewed and consumed the poor man that was stuck in the cell with her. The Michaels family take Robert to the hospital to get his rat bite looked at and soon finds that it’s a madhouse filled with lots of victims from animal and human attacks.  When news breaks on the TV that those bitten are infected with a more violent version of rabies, Robert has to be quarantined even though he is not showing signs of the infection. Meanwhile all over the world this sickness is spreading, and two drunk hunters are killed by a deer that has been infected! At the lab it’s learned that the animals infected are in fact reanimated corpses and that in humans it speeds up death.  When Patient Zero dies, we will soon find out if she comes back from the dead.

This third issue is very talky and is used to add more light to the plague and what its cause and effects are to humans and animals alike. The lab is where we find out all the information of the plague and with the Michaels Family, we find out that not all who have been bitten turns into a crazed flesh eating maniac. The issue makes you like Robert Michaels and his family even more are they clearly stick together during the bad times and support each other during them. The lab workers and the Army are dragging their feet on really trying to figure out what this plague is and spend more time arguing and chatting than getting down to the dirty work of cracking the code of how to treat and cure it. The issue, while bloody, is nothing too special as we have one infected man shot by the police in the hospital and a deer rams a trucks windshield and impales the hunters inside with his antlers. The cover, while creepy, is not every eye catching, and the art inside done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown once again is just okay and not the style of art I like. This issue is middle of the road, and it took me two sittings just to finish it as I got bored pretty quickly with the lab portions of the issue. So far this series has been okay but not nearly as cool as I was thinking it would be when first seeing the covers.  With that, I am just going to move onto issue four as this third issue was just kind of a filler issue with some long chatting to explain the plague that could have been summed up in about two pages.

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The Final Plague # 4  **1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 4 of 5

In the lab they find out that humans once infected do go into a wild rage of bloodlust, but when they die they do not come back as the virus can not take over mankind’s body structure. While at the hospital Helen Michaels and the kids are watching the news as the world is falling apart and cops and news reporters are being attacked live on air by cats, rats and dogs! The cops at the hospital watch as one of their own outside is killed by a pack of infected zombie dogs that rip him to pieces, and this causes them to lockdown the hospital.  After the dogs bust in through the windows, they are forced to evacuate the hospital and have to leave the infected humans behind, but Robert is taken as he is still not showing any signs of being infected. As the cops clear out the hospital, in Chicago zoo workers Miranda and Austin are still at work protecting the animals when a man who has been bitten enters the zoo and frees the tigers and lions.  The man is eaten by the lions and this infects them.  Now Austin and Miranda are stuck as the infected lions are waiting for them outside.

The action and bloody kills are amped up in the issue as we follow the Michaels Family and the cops who are in the hospital now under attack by crazed dogs who want to kill anything they can get their jaws on. While the lab workers and army know that they must find a way to cure the animals of the world as well as the humans who will die from the bites, but lucky will not come back from the dead. We now add in zoo workers who are stuck at work as giant cats are running wild and infected await them outside. The cops at the hospital are clearly heroes as they are risking their own hides to save people from the hospital.  The down side is they are having to leave some sick patients behind as they are unable to run. The Michaels Family are as likable as ever, but they kind of take a backseat in this issue as they are reunited once the dogs attack the hospital. The lab workers and army also take a back seat and are as bland as before.  While good characters, they are also the ones who sadly have to have the boring talk in order to explain the virus. The zoo workers Miranda and Austin are likable and I hope in the 5th and final issue we get more from them. The best kill of the issue was when the cop outside the hospital is attacked and killed by the dogs that shred him like rice paper in a paper shredder! The one thing I am liking so far about the series is that all the main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering for them to get past all this madness that is happing around them.  I also must say I like the idea of animal zombies on the loose looking for human flesh to eat and infect! The cover on this issue is pretty dang cool and showcases an infected lions around human bones, and for me next to issue # 1, this is what caught my eye and made me want to read this series. The art inside once more is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and looks just like the rest of the issue so far in the mini series. Issue four was leaps and bounds better than issue three, and I can’t wait to see what happens in issue five and how they plan on ending this creepy plague story.

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The Final Plague # 5   *1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 5 of 5

While the lab workers and army are talking about waiting for the CDC and what they can do to try to discover a cure, the facility falls under attack as the animals are freed by a lab doctor who has been infected that leaves rats and monkey that are crazed on the loose and slaughtering any human they can find! The army general and two scientist are the only ones to make it out alive, but they soon find that the world outside is also in bad shape and they are the only ones who have a clue of what the virus is and are the only hope to treat it. While the cops lead the doctors, nurses and Michaels family out of the hospital and get them all to their cars, but the dogs are waiting and kill many of the survivors.  The Michaels family leaves the hospital and soon return to their farm and find that their animals have been killed and infected.  The family’s bull charges wife Helen and son Thomas knocks his mom out of the way and is killed by the bulls horns, as the young man dies in the arms of his family the series comes to an end.

This fifth and final issue is a MAJOR letdown as nothing is answered and there is no real ending to the story as so many questions and characters are left high and dry. The plot of this issue is just to kill off most the army and lab workers during an ape and rat attack that leaves only three survivors, and to get the Michaels Family out of the hospital and away from the dogs and back to the farm and to have the son meet his end by the horns of a infected bull. But here are the things that this final issue left wide open and for this horror comic reader made this series fall apart: What happened to the zoo workers that were trapped by the lions outside? Why is it that Robert Michaels is not being affected by the nasty rat bite to his shoulder, and is he the cure to this outbreak? What is the virus and why is it bringing animals back from the dead? Who is the hooded figure that appears on two of the five covers but never appears in the actual comics? I mean I get it, he is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but come on and put him in an issue at least! And this is just a small amount of issues that are left out in the cold in this final issue and again made this long time horror comic reader very upset and kind of ruined the experience of my read. At the end of the comic they also acted as if the series was going to continue in late 2014, and this never happened as we are now in 2017 and no new issues are slated to be made, making this mini series a dead end read. But I don’t want you all to think that I hated this series as it had some positives: the characters are all likable, the story in the raw is fantastic and could blossom into something really cool if given more time. The characters go through a change as well as The Michaels Family grow together and even have to face heartbreak when one of their own dies.  The cops and army do what they are suppose to do and stand their ground to protect and serve, and the scientists do what they do best, they science and talk about things that bore normal people to tears! The acts of murder and mayhem are well done and the red stuff flows like wine as animals bite and rip flesh and faces are even ripped off! The cover for issue five is pretty great with the hooded plague man holding the body of Thomas Michaels spoiling his death for sure.  The art is once more done by the chaotic style of Tony Guaraldi-Brown, and this wrapped up a comic series I was so hyped to read and even though I feel it let me down slightly I still enjoyed it and would say that fans of films like Day Of The Animals and Wild Beats will enjoy it. Below is some artwork from this series so sit back and enjoy the crazy animals and their killing ways.

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So now that The Final Plague is stagnate waiting for a series to come along and wrap it up, I think we should leave the world of animal viruses behind and step into the squared circle again as we take a look at another pro wrestling icon as we talk about the one and only Kevin Nash! I would also like to take a moment and tell all you readers and friends that if you enjoy comics, make sure to think outside the box of just getting issues from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and give companies like Action Lab, IDW, Eibon Press, Sparkle, Rough House, Boom and others a chance as each company is making some amazing stuff.  So again give the independent comic companies a chance as they are sure to entertaining just as much as the bigger companies. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you back for an Oz of a good time or is that Diesel of a good time?

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Ashes To Ashes Burial By Rats

Well this was suppose to be Ghosts of Dracula, but I misplaced the final issue so you get…RATS….. Thousands…. Millions Of Them! All Red Blood! All these will I give you if you only read Rotten Ink! That might not be the exact quote Renfield gave in the 1931 film version of Dracula for Universal Pictures, but it was close. Growing up I liked rodents, and even had two as pets that I got from my neighbor when they were tiny babies when her pet mouse had a litter. They both were little females; one was grey with a white side strip and underbelly who was called Grey Man while the other was just solid white with red eyes and her name was White Man…yeah for some reason my brother and I decided that little female baby mice looked like little people so they got nicknamed men. They were my buddies, and I used to hang out with them all the time as they were well behaved and when letting them run free in my room they never wanted or even tried to escape. Both of them had things they liked to do with me. White Man loved to fall asleep in my lap or on my shoulder while I read comics, books or magazines while Grey Man was all about me playing NES games and would spend time watching the lights on the screen. Both of them were so gentle, and I never once was bitten by either nor was anyone else I let pick them up.  They were perfect pets and well loved by me and my family. They would even take sunflower seeds from your hand and would be so gentle. Sadly as those of you long time readers remember, White Man passed away from a tumor while I was away at camp and Grey Man passed away a short time later. They both lived a long life, and I loved them both equally and miss them as they truly were perfect. I know you’re probably thinking it’s silly that I cared this much for mice, but to me they were just like the cats and dogs I owned, a part of my family. Some time passed before I got another mouse, and when I did I got him from Jack’s Aquarium and Pets.  He was a black and white male named Ben, and yes, he was named after the film that I had seen a number of times on TBS and was even hosted by Grandpa Munster on Super Scary Saturday. Ben was a good little guy.  While moody, he still never bit me and for the most part was chill.  Ben, however, was always trying to escape his cage and would even climb his water bottle and try and push the lid off the cage…he never got away, but man he tried. Ben was very different from Grey and White as he would not sit still for long and only time he would was when he would be on my bed and get warm and fall asleep. After Ben passed away, my next tiny rodent pet was a Hamster called SPG named after the Hamster from the BBC show The Young Ones, and man he was mean and liked to bite even when he was happy! Below are some pictures I took of White Man and Ben, and while a Grey Man one was taken, it was so blurry that it would not scan well.  Sorry, I know these two are bad as well, but I took them when I was a kid.

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In 1995, New Concorde Pictures released a film to cable TV and video called “Bram Stoker’s Burial Of The Rats.”  The film was produced by Roger Corman, the master of the B-movie, and was directed by Dan Golden.  It was based on a story by you guessed it Bram Stoker and adapted to screen by a total of 4 writers. The film follows a young Bram Stoker as he is taken prisoner by a rouge group of female bandits called The Rat Women who are ruled by a flute playing queen and seven white mice whose tails are tied called The King. The twisted tale is to show how and why Bram went on to become of the world’s most famous horror story writers. The film stars Kevin Alber, Adrienne Barbeau, Maria Ford, Olga Kabo and in smaller roles actresses Nikki Fritz and Linnea Quigley who each played Rat Women. Now I can remember this on VHS sitting on the shelf of K&L Video and the poster hanging on the wall of the video store for awhile and always trying to get my brother to rent it because it had Maria Ford in it who I really liked at the time but I will get into that more later.  My brother always shot it down and said that it looked boring and would then go for films like Deadtime Stories or Don’t Go Into The Woods. So it would be years after it’s release before I would see it, and I found the film entertaining and goofy and must say Maria Ford looks fantastic as a warrior woman. The film performed badly with critics and fans, and as of 2014 it has a 4.1 out of 10 stars on IMDB. But I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the film here, as the comics we will be covering from Cosmic are the adaptation of the film. But before we move on we will take a look at some of the lovely actresses that are in this film.

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Adrienne Barbeau started her career in entertainment in the 1960’s.  After being a Go-Go dancer, she landed some roles in theater in such musicals as Fiddler On The Roof, Grease, The Best Little Whore House In Texas and even a nudie musical called Stag Movie. She left the theater in the 70’s to become a TV star and took roles in such shows as Maude, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, All In The Family and even participated in The Battle Of The Network Stars. Along the way she married horror film director John Carpenter as well as posed for a high selling cheesecake poster that helped spark her rise as a sex symbol and was a topic for drive in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs who helped the actress gain more attention. In 1980 she starred in her first horror picture when she played the lead role in the film The Fog.  She went on to star in many other horror/sci-fi films over the years that include Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Two Evil Eyes, Unholy and Burial Of The Rats. At this time she also took some roles in comedies that went on to become cult classics like Back To School, Father Hood, The Cannonball Run, Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death and Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island. Barbeau at the time of acting in films still do roles on TV with one of her biggest being the voice of Catwoman on Batman The Animated Series in the 1990’s, and speaking of her voice talent she also lent her pipes to a few video games like God of War III, Halo 4 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. As of 2014, Barneau is 69 years old and shows no signs of slowing down as she is still taking work in movies, TV and video games. Barbeau in acting is known for always playing the tough woman who has the take no crap attitude as well as for her large natural breasts. In the film Burial Of Rats, she plays Queen Rat.

Adrienne Barbeau 1Adrienne Barbeau 2Adrienne Barbeau 3

Olga Kabo is a Russian actress and theater performer who at a young age mastered the English language as well as dance and acting as she got her first major role by the age of 15. As she grew up she got more and more roles and became a very popular actress of Russian cinema and was the star in such films as Lysistrara Comedy, Burial Of The Rats and The Ice Runner becoming a sex symbol with these roles. Nowadays, at the age of 46 she spends most of her time acting on stage and still being a popular draw to fans who come to see her perform. In Burial Of The Rats, she plays Rat Woman Anna.

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In the 1990’s, one woman’s name stood out to me when it came to being in low budget horror and sleaze films and that name also marked another big celebrity crush for me. I first laid eyes on Maria Ford in the 1990 slasher film sequel “Slumber Party Massacre III” where she had darker hair and played the part of Maria. I quickly became a fan of the beauty and began buying her films from local video rental stores with the second film I saw of hers being  “Stripteaser” with many more to follow like “Showgirl Murders”, “Rain Killer”, “Deathstalker IV: Match of the Titans” and “The Unnamable II” to name a few. Something about the skinny blond haired Maria Ford drew me in and I was taken back on just how sexy girl next door she looked. I even got my friend Jason Gilmore to become a fan of hers and by watching her films he also found an actress that he became a fan of named Nikki Fritz. Around this time I would say one my favorite actress in these style of no budget films would be Maria Ford as well as J.J. North and Ariauna Albright, Charlie Spradling, Denice Duff and my top was Tina Krause. I spent so much time and money buying films that had her name on the cover box.  While many were terrible, it was okay because I got to see Maria do her thing and act well even with poor scripts she was given. As I grew older Maria Ford’s roles became fewer and fewer, and the last major one I could remember coming out was one that was released to VHS when I worked at Blockbuster called “Perfect Fit” and that was a dark comedy. Maria Ford also went on to be in a bunch of Cinemax Soft-Core Adult titles and had small roles in many Hollywood films as the cute girl like in “Beethoven’s Fifth” and “The Addams Family Reunion”. She was also on TV with roles on 7th Heaven and The Drew Carey Show showing that Ford had a lot of talent. While over the years her appearance has changed, I still find myself a fan and would love to work with her sometime in my life.  Could you imagine her being in a Baron Von Porkchop episode…that would be epic! In Burial Of The Rats, she plays the lovely Rat Woman Madeleine. Oh and look at these pics below, and see why the young Matt Brassfield fell in love with Maria Ford! Also I want to say that she is not just an actress but she is also a model and dancer.

Maria Ford 1Maria Ford 2Maria Ford 3

From pet rodents to the beauty of Maria Ford, I think we are ready to tackle this comic series don’t you? Now I am sure your wondering why I did not talk about Bram Stoker and his writings, and the simple answer to that is I am going to really cover his career when I take a look at Topps Comics 4 issue run based on the Francis Ford Coppola film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” and to be honest I am really looking forward to that. Before I do I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I also want to think Lone Star Comics for having all three of these issues in stock.  So with no more wait let’s go see what it’s like to be Buried Like A Rat!

Burial Of The Rats 1

Burial Of The Rats # 1   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #1 of 3

In 1854, a woman slits the throat of her abusive husband and flees into the sewers where she finds a nest of young rats and is happy to become their Queen. Years pass and it’s now 1864 as Bram Stoker and his father are traveling by coach when their driver is killed by rats, and they are attacked by hooded figures.  During the attack Bram kills one of the assailants and is knocked out and taken to a castle where he is to be judged by The Queen and as for the father he is left knocked out in the middle of the woods. While captured Bram finds that his two capturers are beautiful woman.  Anna has dark hair and a mean spirit, and Madeleine, who is blonde, seems to have a touch of compassion in her. Bram is sentenced to death by a pendulum that he is tied to and after each woman takes turns hitting a switch with a hammer he is lowered deeper and deeper into a pit that holds blood thirsty rats! Anna has the honor of the first hit and Madeleine is to deliver the last which she does half heartedly sparing Bram’s life! Bram is thrown back into his prison cell, and it’s clear that both the Rat Queen and Anna want him dead but Madeleine seems to want to spare his life knowing that he only killed one of their “sisters” trying to protect his father. It’s clear that a bond is happening between Bram and Madeleine as she brings him his book and even bathes him with a wet cloth, but Anna and The Queen have other plans as they want Bram to come along on a raid with the hope of him trying to escape so that they can kill him! As Bram is being prepared for the raid, his father who is tired and beat up makes his way to help…

The first thing I want to say about this comic is the mood is just right and has a real sleazy Roger Corman feel to it. This issue follows a young Bram Stoker way before he wrote Dracula or any of his other horror stories as he becomes a prisoner to The Rat Queen, a crazy woman who plays a flute that controls the city’s rats as well rules over a group of warrior women. Bram Stoker, who is the main focus of this series, is by no means a man’s man in this issue and in fact is shocked when he shoots one of the hooded attackers and after doing so is quickly beat down. Even if he is no Lone Ranger or Tarzan, I find myself cheering for him to survive this bad situation. Madeleine, who was once a prostitute who was forced into being one when her family was murdered, is still a pure and loving woman who is clearly hiding behind a warrior’s attitude. Anna however has nothing but hate in her heart, as she was once a slave who was beaten with whips by a high-ranking village official  While she is a bad girl, I really like the character who you know is also clearly in love with Madeleine. The Rat Queen is a crazy old bat who gets joy in killing men and bossing rats around.  She is clearly one of those characters that you hope meets a very horrible end. The Rat King is pretty kick butt as its seven white rats whose tails are all locked together.  They all wear crowns and love flute music. I must say that so far this adaptation is starting off right because this first issue is very entertaining and is making me looking forward to the second issue. The art of the comic is great and has most the characters looking like the actors that played them in the film and is done by Francisco Solano Lopez who should have been hired to do many more horror movie themed comics! The cover is just a blown up image taken from the films VHS cover box and the poster used to promote the film. So let’s get back to the story and see if Bram tries to flee on the raid or it he will stay and try to be with the lovely Madeleine.

Burial Of The Rats 2

Burial Of The Rats # 2   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #2 of 3

Bam traveled along with the Rat Women as they entered the village and killed all the priests inside the church stealing all the gold and letting the rats eat the flesh off their victims. Bram leaves a blood smeared note in an open book for his father and heads back to the castle with the Rat Women. Madeleine steals a pen and paper and brings it to Bram in his cell and he starts to write about his time with them and talks of the raid he just witnessed. The next day as Bram is reading his writings to Madeleine, Anna over hears it and reports it to the Rat Queen who sneaks up on this happening.  To Anna’s shock, the Queen likes what she is hearing/reading and allows Bram to continue his book in hopes that when it comes out it will make all men fear them! When Bram and Madeleine are alone they confess their love for one another and make love, but that night Bram also has a nightmare that has everyone on the castle turning into Rat People! At dinner Madeleine brings Bram to the feast and he talks The Queen into another raid to save a 12-year-old girl who was busted for stealing and as punishment was sent to work at the whore house.  Anna is against the raid as she feels it’s to soon after the attack on the church by they go ahead and do it anyway. Bram enters the whore house and looks for the young girl and when he finds her a fat slob of a man is in with her, he deals with the man as Anna and Madeleine make their way into the room via the window and all together they save the young girl and the rats have a feats on the fat mans flesh. The raid does not go off without it’s downsides as the madam of the house runs to the police and a witness sees the women and hears them call Bram’s name! As they flee back to their home Madeleine is captured, and Bram is believed to be the ruler of the Rat Women by the police!

Oh the horror of watching rats eat the flesh off of dying men…no, really it’s a pretty cool scene for this second issue in the adaptation. This issue’s main focuses are the fact Bram’s writings have saved him, and he is in love with one of the Rat Women.  They do another raid too soon but it’s all for a good reason to save a young woman and Bram proves that he will do the write thing and is a huge help in the raid and lastly that Bram’s father has not given up on finding his son alive. Bram in this issue while still not a tough guy like Wonder Man or STEEL he is very smart and uses what little power he is gaining from respect from The Rat Queen to his own advantages. I love the fact that he could have easily tried to escape during the second raid but knew that saving the young girl was the more important thing to do. Madeleine is truly a warrior with a heart and while loyal to her fellow Rat Women love is also on her mind. The Rat Queen while crazy also seems to know right from wrong and in a weird way by this issue you as the reader start to wonder who the real bad guys are, given the fact everyone they have murdered has been a terrible person! Anna is filled with not only hate this issue but also jealousy as its clear she wants the affections of Madeleine and despises the fact Bram is getting it and not her. The issue is filled with more rats eating the skin off men’s bones as well as has Anna blowing the neck off a priest who has been molesting women in the church, all gruesome stuff that the horror comic fan in me was very happy to see. The art once more is done by Lopez and is fantastic, but his time around the cover is a little weak and kind of generic or better yet I should say is good for a pin up but not a main cover. Well at this point we have one more issue to go, and then we will be at the end of Bram Stoker’s adventures with the Rat Women.  I don’t know about you, but I really can’t wait to see how this one ends.  So let’s not waste time and dive right in and hope we don’t get eaten alive by the rats.

Burial Of The Rats 3

Burial Of The Rats # 3   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #3 of 3

The Rat Queen and the Rat Women return to the castle and are happy about the night’s raid, but word comes quick that Madeleine has been captured and that one of the other Rat Women is dead! Bram is upset by this news and so is Anna, and the two argue in front of The Rat Queen.  To prove his loyalty to the Rat Women he must pass two tests to be one of them: the first test is to drink the blood of Anna and the second one will be decided by Anna after they rescue Madeleine.  They all rush off to do so and clash with prison guards and army soldiers alike, but the rats and The Rat Women are successful.  This rescue also has some downsides as Bram saves Anna from her old “master” by killing him before he killed her and thus robbing her of her revenge, and second Anna, unbeknownst to anyone else, knocks out and kidnaps Bram’s father! Back to the castle Madeleine is weak but still gets up to watch Bram’s final test set before him by Anna, to stab and kill his own father! When he refuses Anna pulls out a gun and is about to shoot them both, just as she pulls the trigger Madeleine jumps in front of her man and takes the bullet! Anna is tore up that she just shot the woman she loves so she commits suicide and as this happens the army has shown up and attacks the castle killing many of the Rat Women and even Rat Queen dies when she kills the Captain and breaks her flute causing the Rat King and his fellow rats to attack and kill her. In the end Bram, his father and the body of Madeleine escape the castle that is burning and Bram knows now more than ever he must become a writer.

It’s a love triangle that is built on blood, teeth and romance and sadly we all know that for one person it’s not going to end well…and that person is Bram as the rage of Anna leads to Madeleine’s death and then the raven haired beauty commits suicide.  He is robbed of his love and even revenge. This issue brings the whole story to an end and focuses on the rescue and untimely death of Madeleine and shows what events cause a young Bram Stoker to write his classic horror stories like Dracula. Bram in the issue also shows that when pushed he will fight back and kill if he has to, his love for Madeleine was strong so strong that he was willing to throw away his old life to become a full member of The Rat Women. Madeleine in the issue is pretty much at death’s door from the start as she starts off the issue a prisoner where she is being tortured for answers and when rescued she is weak and then gets shot! Poor woman, all she wanted was true love with her soul mate. Anna is a sad case as she really does love Madeleine, and it’s clear to me as a reader that they had something going on before Bram showed up and stole her away. Plus I feel bad for her because she so wanted revenge on the man who beat her when she was a slave but Bram as well took that away from her. Mr. Stoker, Bram’s father, is kind of just a pawn in the story and while he plays a part in how the story unfolds, he just kind of was a background player in terms of how much impact he had on me. Rat Queen turned out to be all right, and all she really wanted in life was to be free of man’s world where women were treated lower than the rats she commanded.  It’s a fitting end for her as she is eaten alive by her King and all the other rats she once commanded. By the end of this issue, it seems as if the men of the evil world around them win as the castle is on fire, the Queen is dead as are many of the other Rat Women making one truly wonder if the right side won. The art by Lopez captures the feeling of the low budget film so well you almost wish the series would have continued with more adventures of young Bram Stoker and what’s left of the Rat Women.  The cover on the last issue as well is pretty good and reminds me of some of the covers used by Eternity for their comic based on The Puppet Master films. Over all this series held true to the film and was entertaining enough that it kept my interest during every issue. If you’re a fan of Bram Stoker, horror comics, the film itself and even comics like Red Sonja and Kull The Conquer then I would say you should check this comic series out. Below are some samples of the artwork used in the comic.

Burial Art 1Burial Art 2Burial Art 3

The three issue comic adaptation of the low budget Roger Corman film is packed with blood and gore, a pretty interesting story and characters that are entertaining and capture your interest and for that Cosmic Comics gets a big thumbs up from this comic reader for being able to turn a so-so film into a enjoyable comics. The one thing that is off is while the characters of Madeleine and Anna look like actresses Maria Ford and Olga Kabo, the Rat Queen looks nothing like Adrienne Barbeau as in the comic she looks like a 99-year-old hag! Cosmic also did a few more series based on Roger Corman films like Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race, Caged Heat and Rock N Roll High School and at some point on here I will be sure to cover them.  I would also like to dedicate this update to Roger Corman for being the man when it comes to making and producing B-Movies and to Maria Ford for being a very underrated actress. So next update I am thinking we will take some time away from comics and do another Horror Host Icon, and this time around I think I am going to take a look at the world’s youngest Horror Host Dr. Freak! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure you’ll learn a thing or two about this zany horror host! So until then read a comic or two and enjoy a B-Movie!

Dr. Freak Logo

How I Spent My Summer At Camp Candy

Summertime is upon us.  That means lots of sun, swimming pools and vacations for many of us Americans and fine people from around the world, and after the snow filled winter we had this year I am sure many of you like me are ready for some sun time. When I was in school, summer break was also the thing that got me from grade to grade, knowing that at some point I would have a few months off to do what I wanted to do and not be stuck in a classroom. So in this blog update we are going to take a look at some of the fun stuff I used to do in the summer as well as places I have been including camp during school! The comic series we will be looking at is based on the Saturday morning cartoon called Camp Candy that featured the comedian John Candy as the lead counselor and owner of the camp. But first I would like to talk about my first time going to Kings Island with my Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Debbie when I was just a young lad. Most summers my family would not go on a vacation and a lot of time was spent at our house running the streets with friends or just visiting our grandparents. Sometimes my Dad would shock us and take us to Fantasy Farm or Americana Amusement Park in Middletown and those were always fun times, but mostly it was stay at home kind of time. I will admit it was pretty embarrassing when I would return to school and the teacher would have us stand up and tell the others what we did over the summer and I would hear others talk about trips to Florida, Disney World and Kings Island and all I got to do is play Nintendo and toys at my house…pretty sad indeed. One summer however my Dad got some tickets to Kings Island from his work at Cub Foods and gave them to my brother Bryan and I, and instead of him and my mom taking us they gave the other two pairs to my Uncle Johnny and my Aunt Debbie who acted as our guide to the theme park. Before we went to the top amusement park in Ohio, we talked to our cousins Dino and Norman and they filled us in on the must experience rides that included The Vortex, King Cobra, The Racer, The Beast and one of the newest coasters at the time The Adventure Express. I can remember the night before going to the amusement park sitting in my bed restless with my mind racing with all the excitement of what was to come the next day, images of ridding a roller coaster with Yogi Bear and stories of all the large hills and fast speed told to me by Norman echoed in my brain, for this summer of 1992 I was going to Kings Island!  

Kings Island Logo

The next morning my brother Bryan and I were up early and ate up our cereal super fast and waited for our Aunt and Uncle to come pick us up, they arrived right on time and I can remember rushing to get into the car with them so that my adventure of the summer could start happening. On the ride to the park I can remember my Uncle playing Ozzy Osborne’s Dairy Of A Madman from a cassette tape and he and my aunt asking us what we were looking forward to the most. For me I really was looking forward to The Adventure Express and Hanna-Barbera Land because I was a fan of Scooby-Doo and Yogi and looked forward to the rides based around them. I can remember my brother looking forward to The Beast and The Racer as the idea of the backward coaster peaked his interest. As we pulled into the huge parking lot my excitement sky rocketed as I could see the entrance to the park and knew that so much fun rides awaited me inside. As we gave the attendant our tickets and walked in I was amazed as I seen the Eiffel Tower and fountains and knew that I had finally made it to Kings Island! That day was a blast we started the day off by riding The Racer and while I rode the one that went forward by brother rode the one that went backwards, we also rode The Beast and for the first time I became breathless as the speed and the excitement literally took my breath away! The Adventure Express was epic and fun and while not a fast coaster it still was a great gimmick of riding inside of caves with talking stone statues and parts that sprayed you with mist. We rode The Smurf Enchanted Voyage Boat ride that our Mom had ridden before and hyped up and it was a pretty fun experience as was White Water Canyon a boat ride that makes you feel as if your traveling on what its named after. We rode many rides that day and I even got to see the likes of Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound wondering around and taking pictures with kids and adults. I did not get to ride The Vortex as the line was to long that day and we skipped the King Cobra cause we heard it racked ya if you were a male, I know now that it was false but as a kid you believe those type of rumors. We stayed until the park closed and watched fireworks and then headed back home, I must say my Aunt and Uncle were a blast and allowed us to be kids and have the fun we wanted…and while we went to the park a number of times after mostly with Dino and Norman and for me as I grew older with my girlfriend at the time Jennifer this first time will forever remain the most special. I have to admit that the next day after going my legs felt like rubber from all the walking and running we did that day but boy was it worth it! Oh I guess I should pick my favorite ride that first time going and it would have to be hands down The Beast as it was the one that not only took my breath away but also is the one that always stuck in my mind. 

Vortex LogoThe Beast LogoKing Cobra Logo

While during the summer I did get to go to Amusement Parks the one thing I never did get to do was go to Summer Camp and for some reason I always kind of wanted to thanks to the Friday The 13th films. But I did get to go to camp during school when I was in the 6th grade to a place called Camp Joy and let me tell ya all about the wonders of this place. Before I was set to go to Camp one of my pet mice named White Man was sick with a giant tumor that had grown on the side of her tiny body, I hated to leave her in such bad shape but I knew she was in great hands as my Brother, Mom and Dad were all going to look after her. The day of camp I had my bags packed and was ready for some fun in the woods as I was dropped off at the school and got onto the bus that was driving us there. When getting to the camp I was pretty hyped as I loved the idea of having fun in the woods with fellow classmates and boy did we do just that! We did all types of fun stuff and even pulled small animals from the near by stream to be studied and thats when the full outdoor fun ended for me as while carrying a bucket of water I tripped going down some stairs and spilled the water and sprang my ankle bad! By hurting my ankle not only did I hurt my pride but it also kept me from doing the wire walk an activity that had you rope walking high above the ground as well as a few other activities. By our last day I was limping around enough to do an activity that had us acting as slaves and escaping via the underground railroad. For me being hurt the main fun came in the cabin were at night we told horror stories, made up what ifs using Jason Voorhees, talked about girls from our grade we liked and we even went into the bathroom and played Bloody Mary in the mirror…you know the legend of Bloody Mary right? Well if not its a legend about a witch who is trapped in the mirror world or in some cases Hell that when you say her name 5 times in a mirror in a dark room she will appear in the mirror infront of you with blood pouring down her face and in some cases is said to pull you into the mirror. I can remember doing this and all us guys trying to spook the others. While I was hurt at camp I still had a blast, but sadly when I returned home White Man lost her battle to the tumor…But I would say if you have kids I would say send them to camp at least once cause I am sure they will have a fun time.  

Camp Joy 1Camp Joy LogoBloody Mary

On Halloween 1950 comedian John Candy was born in NewMarket, Ontario Canada and with this a comedy legend was delivered to the world. Candy began is acting career in 1973 by starring in a tiny uncredited role in the film“Class Of ’44” and throughout the 70’s took roles in film and TV like “The Silent Partner”, “90 Minutes Live” and his most popular role on TV “SCTV” (Second City Television) Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live. But it was not till the 80’s when Candy became the big star with roles in “1941”,“National Lampoons Vacation”, “Stripes”,“Splash”, “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Plans Trains and Automobiles”, “Great Outdoors”, “Space Balls” and “Uncle Buck”to name a few all these films made Candy a top name in comedies and an A-List actor. Even in 1989 Candy became a cartoon star with the Saturday morning toon “Camp Candy”. But sadly the 90’s were not as nice to him and while roles in “Home Alone” and “Cool Runnings”kept his star shining he also had a string of flops at the box office like “Nothing But Trouble” and “Once Upon A Crime”making the actors roles coming fewer inbetween he changed it up and took more dramatic roles in films like “Only The Lonely”and “JFK”. His big comeback to comedy film was called “Wagons East!”were he co-starred with Richard Lewis that was released in 1994, but sadly while doing this picture Candy died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Some cool things you might not have known about the comedian are the following Candy won Emmy’s for his writing on SCTV in 1981 &1982, Candy hosted SNL on a 1983 episode, Candy was asked to play Louis in the film Ghostbusters but could not meet eye to eye on how the character should be played so the role went to Rick Moranis, he did however make a cameo in Ray Parker Jr’s Music Video for the hit song from the film. Candy alongside Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky and racehorse owner Bruce McNall owned a Canadian Football team called the Argonauts, his crypt is bellow fellow actor Fred MacMurray best know for his role in the TV Show My Three Sons in California. I can remember growing up and loving John Candy in movies and I cant tell you how many times I have watched The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck! While he may be gone his body of work lives on thanks to DVD, VHS and TV.

Great Outdoors PosterJohn CandyUncle buck Poster

Back in the 1980’s Saturday Morning Cartoons was a huge deal and almost every major station tried to out due the others to get kids to watch their station over the others. NBC in 1989 started to air a cartoon called Camp Candy that followed comedian John Candy as he was the head councilor and owner of a Summer Camp that was always in danger of being closed down by a rich business man named Rex DeForest III who wanted to use the land to develop condos and malls. Candy was joined my Nurse Molly and a handful of boys and girls and they would get into all types of silly adventures. The series ran for a year on NBC and lasted a total of Twenty Seven episodes before going into syndication were thirteen more episodes were made. The series last major TV airings was with reruns on Fox Family in 1998, and with the syndication episodes sometimes live action John Candy skits were attached. I watched Camp Candy when it aired originally and in fact I never missed an episode if I could help it and was a pretty bug fan of it’s simple and fun storyline. Even when Marvel Comics released the short 6 issue run based on this cartoon I got myself a copy of issue # 1 at Big Bear! The series never did get a DVD release and only a few episodes ever came out on VHS making this cartoon series one that you would have to find on the Grey Market in order to enjoy again, it’s a shame that this series never did get the fandom it deserves and even in school I remember very few kids talking about it, but the ones that did were big fans like myself I can remember my friend Jeremy Patton really liked it allot. And I can’t stress enough to the big broadcast stations when I say bring back Saturday Morning Cartoons to the glory it once was and stop just showing terrible Disney Network reruns and terrible Pokemon clone cartoons and bring back the verity and life to that magical time of the week when kids should be putting down their Iphones and Tablets and watching quality cartoons and shows. 

Camp Candy Toon 1Camp_Candy Toon 2Camp Candy Toon 3

So before we move on to the comic series brought to us by Marvel, I should introduce the characters to those of you readers who never got to watch this fun cartoon when it aired. The adults at the camp are John Candy, the lead counselor and owner of the camp. John has a good soul and will do whatever he can to entertain and protect the kids even if he is a coward and not that bright. Nurse Molly is the camp’s nurse and mother figure to the kids; one could even get the slight hint that while she is annoyed with John at times, she also seems to almost have a crush on him. These two are the only adults shown in the cartoon and makes one wonder just how the two of them run the whole camp!

John CandyNurse Molly

The boys of the camp are as follows: Rick is the blonde haired cool kid who is the popular one, Iggy is the tall nerdy type with glasses and is super smart but is also a hypochondriac and last but not least is his little brother Binky who, while short in size, is always ready for adventure. Those are the boys who are attending Camp Candy.

RickIggyBinky

As for the girls attending Camp Candy, it goes as follows: Vanessa is the rich spoiled brat who is into fashion and looking good. Alex is the tomboy who has red hair and loves sports, and last is Robin who is all into nature and saving the animals of the forest. The girls and the boys get along well besides Vanessa, who is the one who gives everyone grief.

VANESSAALEXROBIN

The bad guy of this cartoon was Rex DeForest III, a short man with lots of money and ideas that always have Camp Candy out of business and the land his to develop into condos. His assistant is Chester, a dim witted goofball who goes along with whatever his boss tells him to do. While they always have plans, they of course never win.

REX DEFOREST IIICHESTER

Camp Candy inspired very little merchandise and had no toys or video games made based on it.  Besides the Marvel/Star Comics series, the only other stuff I can think of is a plastic lunch box, VHS tapes of selected episodes and later t-shirts made by fans. It makes you wonder why some company didn’t turn out some cool things for fans of the show.  I mean it would have made a perfect NES game where you played as John and had to rescue the kids from Rex. This poor underrated show has gotten no DVD release and had very little push for other merchandise even in its prime! So if you’re looking for Camp Candy goodies, they are few and hard to find. 

Camp Candy Bear LogoCamp Candy LunchboxCamp Candy VHS

So are you readers ready for Camp? I have my backpack packed with all the stuff I need including some comics and Tiger Electronic Handheld Games, and I have my Incredible Hulk sleeping bag rolled and tied so I think we are ready to enter the cabin and see what Camp Candy has to offer! 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. I should thank Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock, and I really look forward to reading issue one again as I can remember buying it when it first came out at Hearts and really liked it! So no further delay, let’s dive in shall we.. 

Camp Candy 1

Camp Candy # 1  **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #1 of 6

John Candy is tricked by that no good Rex DeForrest III into believing that he owes 5 thousand dollars to keep the camp safe, and Candy who had proof the camp was paid up lost the papers…well his campers did. Candy doesn’t have the money to pay for the “balance” owed and is bummed out as the camp is set to close the following day, but during the last night around the campfire, Candy tells a spooky story about Headless Harry, a man who found a giant gold nugget in a cave and then left it behind to play basketball with some Native Americans.  When the basketball rolled out of the cave, a witness thought it was his head. Rick gets the idea that in the morning they should go and check the cave for the gold to use to save the camp. Rex and Chester decide to follow Candy and the Campers to make sure they don’t find money to pay for the fake bill, and Chester hides in the cave and scares them away once they find the giant gold nugget, but Candy catches on and uses his own trick to spook Chester away and he calls in an expert to look at his gold. Sadly the gold nugget is fools gold, and just when it looks like the camp is doomed, a tabloid news reporter pays Candy that amount for his story of Headless Harry and his “meeting” with the legend! 

This issue throws in the spooky camp legend around a plot that is very similar to the film “Ernest Goes To Camp,” about a rich butthead wanting to build on the land of the camp. John Candy is a total goof in this issue and seems not to be bothered that his own campers are the ones who lost the papers when they came into his cabin to find paper to use to make a fake skunk and to draw on, but to be honest the fact that he does not mind is what makes me really connect with this cartoon. Candy is very likeable, and I have a feeling he will be done right through out the series. The campers don’t fully get to shine in this issue and while bits of their personalities do, I have a feeling that as we go along each camper might get spotlight. Rex and Chester are those kind of bad guys with one smart one and one goofy one who play off each other and come up with schemes to try to get what they want. The issue is broke into two stories with the first being the longer main story and the second is a quick story thrown in to fill pages. The art in this issue is done by Howard Post, and his style is great for this type of comic based on a cartoon.  The cover is also well done and eye catching. Over all, while this is not ground breaking, it’s still and average fun comic.  Plus it was nice re-reading this issue after all these years! So let’s move on to issue 2 and have more fun at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 2

Camp Candy # 2   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #2 of 6

John Candy is preparing Camp Candy for the safety inspector who is on her way the next day. Rex and Chester hear this and know that if the camp gets so many marks for being unsafe, it will be closed down and leave the land open for him to buy. Rex and Chester dress up and join the camp as a father counselor and his daughter and cause issues so the camp will fail, and fail it does when the flag poll falls on the inspector, the tree house falls apart with her inside and a grizzly bear in one of the cabins chases her from the camp. Before she closes the camp, she allows Camp Candy to join in on the big canoe race among all the surrounding camps and during this Rex and Chester, who are forced as their fake characters, take the wrong path and are about to drown but Candy comes to their aid and this impresses the inspector who allows the camp to stay open. 

Yet another issue that holds the charm of the cartoon and still holds some of that “Ernest Goes To Camp” spirit making this a fun read and perfect for these warm summer nights. Candy in this issue is still a loveable goon who takes pride in his camp and really seems to care that his campers are having a good time.  The one thing that you have to question about the safety of the camp is the fact Candy allowed two fake people who were really his arch enemies to work for him without even checking backgrounds, makes you wonder if Jason Voorhees wearing hockey mask and all wanted a job, would he hire him on the spot? The campers once more take a back seat to the comic comedy and are very much background players. Rex and Chester have the same chemistry they had the last issue with greed being their driving force. The second story in this one deals with a moose and is pretty standard filler stuff. Howard Post once more did the art and once more it looks good.  I should also say Post is doing the main story art and not the back up story. Pretty good standard issue that makes me want to read the third in the series.

Camp Candy 3

Camp Candy # 3   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #3 of 6

Rick’s cousin Trooper is at a nearby camp called Camp Kickboot, and he is feeling like Campy Candy is for nerds as they don’t do half the militant stuff the other camp does. John Candy takes all his campers to visit the camp and finds that its run like a boot camp and its counselor Nayles is like a drill sergeant. During the visit it’s set up that the two camps the next day will play a game of capture the flag to show which team is better.  The Kickboot Campers are hyped as Candy Campers want nothing to do with it! If any camper or counselor gets hit with whipped cream that means they are taken prisoner and must sit out. The next day Binky runs off with the Camp Candy flag to try and win the game as Kickboot makes short work of John, Iggy and Vanessa, and just as they are about to put their flag on Camp Candy’s poll, Rick has climbed the poll and whip creams the whole Kickboot team! Binky makes it to Camp Kickboot and wins the game for his team. Oh yeah, Rex and Chester try to get involved with a real tank shooting fireworks at Camp Kickbutt.  This ends badly as always.

This is a fun issue that reminds me of the show “Hey Dude” when they played capture the flag against each other. Rick takes a front seat in this issue, and while a prankster at heart, he still tries to live up to the macho image of his cousin who he thinks is having more fun at his camp. Of course in the end Rick shows that his camp is the best and kids should be kids and have fun. John Candy is as goofy as ever and once more has pride in his camp and campers and even gets them involved in a “war game”, still a very likable character. Rex and Chester in this issue are a waste and to be honest should not have even been in this issue as they really added nothing to the story. Nayles and his campers are kind of mean and take pleasure in breaking stuff and have an almost bully aspect to them.  So it’s nice to see them lose by being outsmarted at their own game. Plus this is the first issue that had only one story, and to me that’s a good thing as this story was more fleshed out, well minus Rex’s part. The pencil art was done once more by Howard Post, and to me this guy is great at doing kids comics of this style! The cover is cheesy fun and also with this issue we mark the half way mark of this Marvel/Star series.  So far I will say it’s a solid and entertaining kids comic series so let’s get into issue # 4!

Camp Candy 4

Camp Candy # 4   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #4 of 6

It’s open house day at Camp Candy and all the campers’ parents are on their way to visit their kids, but this year instead of showing them boring stuff they made or collected they decide to build an amusement park for them to enjoy. Binky builds a toy horse ride, Iggy builds the worlds lowest roller coaster, Vanessa’s is a house of mirrors, Rick’s is a surfboard on wheels ride that spins around fast, Alex built a fitness ride were the kids are carried in wooden boxes by her dad and Robin has a ride a grizzly bear ride! While preparing for the parents, Binky wants his ride more scary and Rex and Chester dress as workers claiming that John hired them to help. The plan is to make the ride so scary and unsafe the parents won’t trust John and the park will close so Rex can buy it. When the parents arrive all is going well and as Binky is taking his mom to his ride, Chester jumps on it before his mom can ride it and Binky jumps on to stop him, but Chester being a moron, he forgot the track was not complete and that they are headed straight for a cliff! John sees they are in danger and jumps on the wheeled surfboard to try and stop them, and when Rex hears the tracks are incomplete, he rushes to try and help as well. In the end Binky checked his ride early in the morning and placed safety rafts at the end so Chester, John (who jumped on to try and stop it) and himself are all safe and to payback the damage they did. Rex and Chester have to also carry kids in the wood boxes at Alex’s ride. 

It’s cheesy rides and danger all around in this issue as families take turns riding grizzly bears and a toy horse roller coaster almost leads to deaths! Binky gets to shine in this issue, and he is your typical 5 year old kid who wants his ride scary, but who also in the hero by knowing safety comes first and places the rubber rafts down. John is also brave in this issue as he risks his life and safety to save Binky’s and Chester’s all while riding a surfboard with skateboard wheels. The rest of the campers are given little to do as are the parents but yet they all fit in like a glove, adding to the overall. Rex in this issue does not think out his plan very well, and his worse mistake is that he trusted Chester to be in charge on this project. Like the prior issue, this is one long story with the filler story cut out of the issue, and again I must stress I like one story better than two in this series. The best part about this series so far is that it’s stayed steady and has not lost any steam, tho it could also be said that by this point it should also be gaining steam so it’s kind of a catch-22. Howard Post once more does the art and once more does a fine job.  So with that let’s get to issue # 5.

Camp Candy 5

Camp Candy # 5   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #5 of 6

John Candy is taking his campers on a field trip to the camp he grew up going to and speaks highly of the head counselor named Hercules who was so strong and brave. Well when they get to the camp, it’s a ghost town and the cabins are run down and Hercules now is an old man with no campers to look after and worse he has Rex DeForrest II, the father to the III, coming to take his camp away and turn it into a land fill! Rex the II and Hercules make a bet that if he can get to the top of a nearby mountain and set camp that Hercules can have the camp site for as long as he lives. John and the Campers help Hercules who proves in the end all he needed was some joy as he makes it to the top and wins the honor of the camp.

This issue is a fun one.  While not as good as the past 4 issues, it still was entertaining and held the Camp Candy charm. Taking John and the Campers away from Camp Candy was a smart move and allows them to be shown out of their environment and in a new camp trying to help an old man. Hercules is a fun crazy old coot character who still has it even after all these years, and while he is strong willed and physically strong, it’s clear as day where John got a lot of his counseling skills. Adding the dad of the Rex we have all grown to dislike is cool, but really also just made me wish they would have added some sort of new butthead who wants to run a camp out of business. The issue goes back to having two stories, and the second one is about them camping and Binky being the man, more filler stuff really. Howard Post is still doing the art and it still looks good for this kind of comic book. I will also say that this is the first issue not to say “Star Comics Presents,” and I should also point out when the little box that says that was places in an issues it looked like a bad cut and paste job, think glue stick on paper kind of stuff. So let’s get to the final issue here at Camp Candy.

Camp Candy 6

Camp Candy # 6   **1/2
Released in 1990   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #6 of 6

A gorilla has escaped from the circus and is on a path to Camp Candy. John does not know this and takes his campers on a nature walk as Rex and Chester come up with a plan for Chester to dress like a gorilla and scare off the campers so you guessed it, he can buy Camp Candy to turn the land into condos. But of course the real gorilla shows up, and the high jinks kicks into high gear. In the end the Gorilla finds his way back the circus while driving a car with Rex who thinks it’s Chester in the outfit! There are three other smaller filler stories in this issue as well, and they are just your typical short subjects.

The final issue loses a little steam as the first of four…yes four stories is the best one and for some reason the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking about Yogi Bear and how this story would have been perfect in a Yogi Bear comic or cartoon. The gorilla on the loose who knows tricks and can drive a car is pure cartoon stuff and adds to the fun theme of the Nature Walk. Neither John nor the kids are the main focus of the issue as they all share about the same importance to the story. One thing I must say is that Rex and Chester being in every issue blabbing about owning the land Camp Candy sits on was wearing thin and new characters should have been added to make more challenges for them all to have to get past. I mean the only other bad guy in the series was Rex’s dad who has the same motives for another camp’s land. The other three stories once more are just filler and that’s a shame when the main story of the escaped Gorilla should have been more fleshed out and given more panels. Howard Post did the art and wrote the main story and did a fine job on both.  It’s also a shame that Marvel being who they were back then didn’t even give this series a final issue as this one just simply ends the series. This issue was alright and was a fun adventure with John and the Campers.

Camp Candy Art

It was nice to see that in 1990 a “Star” comic series was released with this 6 issue series based on the cartoon Camp Candy.  While I would like to think they were just shutting down Star for a re-launch that would have seen more originals and more IPs and this comic was just caught in the middle of that transition, when to be honest I am sure it all came down to when the license for this cartoon was signed over to Marvel it was under the Star branch so they just cut and pasted the logo on the first page of each issue to hold true to that original contract. I found this comic series to be silly and good solid reads that held very true to the source material making it a true treat for a person like me who grew up watching the cartoon. But while this update we had fun at camp, the next update we will be visiting Dracula’s Castle as we take a look at Eternity’s mini series “The Ghosts Of Dracula”! So make sure to join me then and bring some garlic just in case.  So until next time enjoy the great outdoors, go to camp and read a comic or two.

ghosts of dracula logo