Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tales from the 25¢ Bin! Gold Key Comics Edition!

Wow! Did I hit the jackpot yesterday! Well, it's a jackpot to me, anyway, when I walked away $2.75 worth of classic Gold Key comics.

These were my official gateway comics when I was a kid, before my young eyes were opened to the adventure-filled worlds of Batman and Spider-Man, I was eyeballs deep into the worlds of classic after-school cartoon characters up to their usual silly shenanigans within the pages of Gold Key's cheap-o comic books.

These were the types of books that you could find in 3-packs, and for some reason, I always managed to end up with a few every time my family took a road trip, where I would ball up in the back seat with a small stack of these books and while away the passing miles by delving deep into the worlds of the animated goofballs that I knew from my home TV screen.

Later, I would graduate from "silly animal" cartoon characters to more adventurous fare from these publishers (Gold Key, along with Dell, Whitman and Charlton) like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and The Phantom, along with a slew of horror titles.

But yesterday's score was all about well-known, and much beloved cartoon classics...

First up is a healthy serving of Looney Tunes characters with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Proky Pig and Yosemite Sam. I always loved these comics because I would hear their voices in my head when reading the word ballons. I would sometimes get annoyed, however, whenever they would make odd graphic choices like coloring Bugs' gloves yellow or making Daffy's neck-stripe blue.

Here we have an issue of Dennis the Menace. I never had any of these as a kid, but I swear to god that I used to hang out with a kid named Dennis Mitchell (same as Dennis from the comic strip) and he would always walk around with a slingshot in his back pocket (same as Dennis from the comic strip). I'm not kidding. Totally true.

Also, I just noticed that this is not from Gold Key, but from Fawcett Publishing.

Ahhhhh yes... The Little Monsters! These were downright hard to find when I was a kid and I only ever had a couple of issues, but I loved them. They always reminded me of a mix between the Addams Family (I used to watch the classic cartoon) and that creepy family that moved in next door to the Flintstones.

(I'm glad I didn't have the above issue as a kid, because that mechanical shark is the thing nightmares are made of.)

Next up is Tom & Jerry. Now, I adored the old MGM Tom & Jerry cartoons (written and directed by Hanna-Barbera, as a matter of fact), but the comics always left me cold. They always made them talk in the comics. Tom & Jerry don't talk. Spike the bulldog talks. Jerry's little French nephew talks. But Tom & Jerry were mutes, and that's how I like them.

And no stack of old, musty Gold Key comics would be complete without at least a couple of Walt Disney books. Now I loved these and was turned on to many of the old Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge books (by the incredible Carl Barks) from Gladstone comics by my very own mom, who read them when she was a lass, and these old Gold Key issues (although not as great in quality as the Barks stuff) were still a treat.

So, that's it for my latest haul from the 25¢ bin. I'm sure I'll be back again soon, to dive head first into the old dusty bins of newsprint in search of even more gems that can be yours, or rather mine, at the measly price of 4 for a dollar.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Umm... Well... It's... an Eggbot!

You ever randomly buy a toy on a whim and then get home and realize what you've got and think, Why the hell did I buy this?!

Well, such is the case with today's oddball toy, a weirdo wind-up who answers to the name of Eggbot.

Eggbot is one of several little wind-up, egg-shaped critters in the Egg Bods series (what a horrible name), from which you'll find all sorts of different ovoid oddities, in all manner of occupations from ballerinas to soldiers to firemen. Or fireeggs, I suppose. But quite frankly, the robot was the only one that caught my attention, so that's the only one that came home with me after being procured while on a trip with my boss last Christmas. In fact, Eggbot here has been sitting in the package since before the new year, was eventually covered with a stack of comic books and was only uncovered yesterday while I was straightening up the Nerdatorium, at which point I thought, Hey! I need to blog about this guy! and then, Wait. When the hell did I buy this?

I have to admit that once I got Eggbot freed from his plastic prison, he turned out to be quite endearing with his bugged-out eyes, stubby arms and especially DAT RAYGUN.

One of the selling points of the Egg Bods (ugh) line is that they are comprised of interchangeable parts, which I'm always a fan of, provided that I actually like the other toys in the line with which to swap parts. Which I don't, so I won't. But in the meantime, you can see how Eggbot's arms and head come apart in case I ever did get the urge to make a pirate-headed robot with nurse arms. 

One cute side effect of the removable head is Eggbot's ability to look from side to side, which for some reason, I just like. It makes him look like he's just landed on some new planet and is scanning the horizon for enemies, or a side of bacon. And maybe some toast.

Don't get me wrong, I know I sound like I'm cracking (ha!) on this toy line a bit, but I really do think it's an adorable idea and would make quite a splash in the toy world with kids and parents as long as it gets a chance to catch on. I found this guy in one of those "educational" toy stores and quite frankly, these have just the right je ne sais quoi to deserve a larger bite of the toy-aisle-pie in such places as Target or Toys R Us.

Not that I'll be collecting any more of them. My in-born love for silvery robot toys and wind-ups in general was enough to get this guy into my collection, but it ends there for me.

But I'll make sure that Eggbot gets a warm welcome from the rest of my toys. In fact, it looks like he's already making friends...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Look: The Hanna-Barbera Treasury

The very first cartoons that I remember ever seeing were Hanna-Barbera cartoons. In fact, I have to say the the very first cartoon that I remember sitting down to watch was Wacky Race. Later, I would become a dyed-in-the-wool fan of sun classic HB fare as The Superfriends, Space Ghost, Herculoids and at the very top of the list, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Later, I would eventually morph into a full-blown cartoon fanatic, delving deep into cartoon collectibles and various other pieces of production ephemera, like animation cels, style sheets and background art.

With that in mind, this book, The Hanna-Barbera Treasury, was practically made for cartoon-loving geeks like me.

This is basically one of those usual treasury-style books, which are often light on the text, big on the pictures and come with lots of little inserts of reproduction pieces.

Now, I'm not going to go into a long-winded history of  Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, because if you're the type of person to read this blog, you already know who these guys are, but on the off chance that you don't know about these legendary animators, I can pretty much guarantee that you've seen their work; Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, the list goes on and on.

Like I mentioned before, this is one of those big coffee-table books that's simply jam-packed with massive, colorful pictures, which is my favorite thing to plunk down on the couch with on a lazy weekend afternoon, poring through the history of a game-changing animation studio.

One of my favorite things to geek out on is old-school storyboards, like this one seen below from Frankenstein Jr....

A couple of pages were dedicated to the voice talents of days gone by, such as voice-acting legends Daws Butler (Scooby Doo, among countless others) and Mel Blanc (who made a name for himself by performing just about every single Warner Bros. voice, like Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, before moving on to the Hanna-Barbera studios)...

Now for some of the goodies! The reproduction inserts in these types of books get my collector mojo buzzing. Even though the pieces included in these books are not originals, they're very often reproduced with enough care to detail that I can at least pretend for a moment that I'm holding a piece of animation history.

Each flat reproduction comes sealed inside these little translucent envelopes...

And this book has everything! From the Huckleberry Hound collector's cards above, to the reproduction animation cels like this Ruff 'n Reddy one seen below...

Other gems found within (especially from a one-time aspiring cartoonist's point of view) are these shots of original development sketches showing what Yogi bear could have looked like...

Vintage activity book repro pages...

Australian "gum cards"...

Promo animation cels...

Some shots of a vintage line of collectible Flintstone figurines (note the blurb: Painted by Hand by Artists)...

 Flintstones card game...

Jetsons storyboards and background sketches...


But the book isn't all silly animals wearing bow ties. The latter part of the book is devoted to some of HB's "adventure" cartoons, including good ol' Johnny Quest...

And a personal favorite of mine, Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace Ghooooooooooooooooost!

Birdman gets some love, but it's hard to see this character without thinking of the bastardization of the character from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim cartoon.

I'm seriously considering framing these Space Ghost cards...

And of course, no Hanna-Barbera book would be complete without a good long look at that cowardly Great Dane and his gang of mystery solving teens from one of my all-time favorite cartoons, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?...

I have always loved this cartoon, and remember running home from the bus stops in the afternoon to make sure I never missed a second of this classic. I even loved the later Scooby Doo Movies cartoon, where the Mystery Inc. gang were teamed up with such shining stars of Hollywood like Sonny & Cher and the Harlem Globetrotters. But by the time the '80s kicked in, Scooby's cartoons just got too corny for my taste, especially with the addition of that insipid Scrappy Doo. But the original cartoon will always have a place in my heart.

The only downside to this book is that it only covers the animation studio's efforts through the 1970s, and even then, just the major stars, which left out so many of my favorite cartoons from Hanna-Barbera such as The Smurfs (yes, I admit it), Pac Man (don't knock it, it was an awesome cartoon), Jabber Jaw, Superfriends, Speed Buggy, Hong Kong Phooey, Blue Falcon & Dynomutt, Captain Caveman and many more.

Oh well, maybe I can hope for a second Hanna-Barbera Treasury where some of the above mentioned classics could get a little love and where I could get my hands on some reproduction Pac Man cels or Superfriends style sheets.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to any animation nerd, especially if you can find it cheap, like I did in a bargain book store for $15. At that price, it was a steal.

Anyway, I guess I've rambled on enough about this heavy tome filled with classic cartoon goodies. I'm going to go bust out some of my old Scooby Doo and Smurfs DVDs. Yabba dabba doo, everybody.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

League of Extraordinary Bloggers Weekly Theme: Where Are They Now?

This week's topic: The 80′s and 90′s were filled with kids and teens in the movies. Which movie would you like to see a sequel made in 2012 with the original cast members, who have aged the same as you and me.

As soon as I read this week's assignment, I immediately thought of Goonies. But, then I thought that, chances are, so has everyone else. I mean, come on, how awesome would a Goonies sequel be, with everyone all grown up, perhaps passing the legacy down to their kids, who then go on another pirate-filled adventure in the coastal caves of the Pacific Northwest? So, I decided to find something else.

Then I immediately thought of The Monster Squad, my second most favorite kid's adventure from the '80s, but just like the Goonies, I figures that many others would pick this one as well.

So then I reached back into the recesses of my memories and searched for a movie so beloved to me, one that I could always count on to whisk me away on a grand adventure for two hours, plucking me from my drab reality and plunking me down behind the eyes of the main hero, and one that I never felt got its due credit (much less sequel or merchandising), and I came up with The Last Starfighter.

The Last Starfighter was a guilty pleasure of mine. One of those movies that I watched over and over again during summer breaks in grade school. There wasn't a single second of celluloid that didn't spark the old neurons in the more imaginative centers of my young, impressionable noggin. The general concept alone was unbelievably enticing to me (proving your worth as an intergalactic space fighter by playing a mere video game), but I loved everything about this movie; Centauri's freaky space car, the weird language they spoke (reeta - reetana - reetana dox-eyla...), the slimy assassin, the pulsating imposter Alex, but mostly this baby right here...


But what could the sequel be like, you ask? Well, I imagine something along the lines of Alex, having served as a Starfighter for many years, eventually works his way up the ladder to becoming an admiral or something. Also his wife, Maggie (who went with him into space at the end of the first movie) is now some big political bigwig in the Galactic Federation or whatever.

But the real story would be about Louis (Alex's little brother now all grown up) having devoted his life to playing the same video game that won Alex his space wings, only to become a total (loveable and hapless) loser who never did beat the game (see King of Kong for several examples). But he's given a second chance when Alex and Maggie's twins, a son and a daughter, now recent graduates of the Starfighter Academy, come to Earth to help Louis become the Starfighter he was always meant to be. I haven't really thought of a reason why they have to do this, but that's the gist. Maybe we can even give Louis an ex-wife and kid who don't really understand his obsession with this video game but end up being all proud of him in the end when they see him fly off to save the galaxy in his own Gunstar. Hollywood loves that crap.

Anyway, most of the actors are still available, most notably Lance Guest (Alex) and Catherine Mary Stewart...

Sadly, I couldn't find squat on Chris Hebert, the kid actor that played Louis (who, quite frankly, I thought had some of the best lines in the original flick). So whether or not he'd be poised to make a comeback is up in the air.

However, all I would really need is to see those Gunstars flying through space, unleashing a hailstorm of laser blasts upon their enemies (some sort of new enemy, though - Let Xur and the Kodan Armada lie where they fell 30 years ago), and of course, this magnificent bastard...

Maybe then, we'd finally get some of those Last Starfighter action figures that never made it off of Galoob's prototype tables...

(Shamelessly stolen from

Anyway, there's my pick for this week's League of Extraordinary Bloggers theme. When doing a little research (ie. going to IMDB), I found a couple of news blurbs from 2008 about the possibility of a sequel to Last Starfighter actually happening, but, alas, it looks like those dreams were dashed along with so many other ideas that never make it out of the Hollywood whirlpool of death.

Still, one can dream.

Thanks for reading!

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