Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jeremy & Dad

Andrew McMeel Publishing presents a Zits tribute-ish to fathers and sons by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman.
In typical hilarious fashion the often tenuous relationship between boys and their dads is explored through the eyes of Jeremy Duncan- the tousled hair teenager with the knack for always getting in hot water with his parents.
In this compilation of recent and classics comic strips Jeremy and his father Walt find common ground (especially when it concerns Jeremy’s mom and Walt’s wife) and points of contention-specifically Walt’s lack of techno know how.
Speaking as father of a teenage girl (19) and a son, now 23, I can sympathize and identify with Walt.  Both of my kids seem like they're talking a foreign language when they start spewing techno-babble and yet, like Jeremy and his father, there are things both my children and myself can share a common interest with.
It just so happens, like Jeremy, my son loves old Rock and Roll-much of it from the period I grew up in.  And, like Walt and Jeremy, as we grow older we discover that we have a lot more in common than we thought.
Zits is a wonderful commentary about parents and their kids, sprinkled with humor and yet often containing nuggets of truth.  I read it every chance I get in the newspaper.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

X-Men And Iron Man

The fifth and final season of popular X-Men animated series from the early 1990s is presented by Buena Vista Entertainment.  All14 riveting episodes are presented on two DVD discs.
The animated series predated the X-Men movies and set the standard by which the
X-Men would be presented to the world.  Created and shown during and not long after the highlight years dominated by such artists as Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, the series spotlighted many of the popular storylines running through the X-men titles at the time.
Look for such classics as The Phalanx Covenant, The Fifth Horseman and guest spots by Captain America, Magneto, Longshot, Jubilee, Cannonball and a whole host of
X-Men, their friends and foes.
I especially enjoyed the Old Soldiers episode starring a pre-claws Wolverine and Captain America story set during World War II.  And get ready for a whole boatload of surprises in the very last episode the winds up the series: Graduation Day.  Don’t miss it!
Also from Buena Vista comes the full first season of the Iron Man animated series released in conjunction with upcoming Iron Man movie.
In this mid-1990s animated series Tony Stark as Iron Man and a few fellow Avengers fight the Mandarin and his cohorts who each episode try to steal Tony Stark’s technology.
Look for Modok, the Gargoyle and other classic Iron Man villains as well as guest spots from longtime Marvel superheroes and Iron Man’s fellow crime fighters: War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Spider Woman, Nick Fury and Hawkeye.
It’s high-tech adventure and suspense as Iron Man battles against the Mandarin and his partners in crime.
Key episodes include the origin of Iron Man and the Mandarin.  It’s classic Marvel mayhem brought to life via cutting edge animation.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Archie And Jughead

A couple of Archie Comics titles you need to check out this month will keep you singing and eating.
In Archie #607: Archie Meets the School Gyrls, a female pop group's bus breaks down in Riverdale.  While they're waiting around Archie and the gang invite them to Pop's.
The Gyrls are filming a new reality show and after talking to Archie and the gang they decide to film in Riverdale.  The only problem is things aren't that exciting in Riverdale-at first.  Suddenly dangerous 'accidents begin to happen and only the non-girl happy mind of Jughead figures out what's really happened.
Look for lots of teenage fun, romance and music as Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty team up with the School Gyrls for some musical mischief.
In Jughead #200, Jughead decides to rock the boat by changing his routine.  He sets out and soon discovers a new restaurant at the top of a hill.  The only trouble is he doesn't remember ever seeing it before or the hill.
Stepping inside he meets the restaurant own who presents him with the ultimate junk food.  The price?  His metabolism.  he trades it and before he knows it he starts to put on weight.  Shocked by their friend's sudden weight change all of the Archie gang-minus Reggie of course, confront the restaurant owner (later revealed to be a witch) and trade her their own most precious item to change Jughead back.  Betty looses her compassion, Archie his true heart and Veronica her status.  They all agree with disastrous results.
Only the timely arrival of Sabrina the witch and Jughead's determination to help his friends turns the tide and sets everything right.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Complete Peanuts: 1975 To 1976

When most book series, cartoon strips, TV series or other popular culture icons reach their 25th Anniversary they tend to get a little stale and predictable.  Not so with Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts comic strip.

In fact, Peanuts never seemed more relevant, irreverent, timely, topical or funnier than when it hit its 25th Anniversary as evident in Fantagraphics Books' newest Peanuts anthology reprinting strips from 1975 to 1976.

Here's just a few of the highlights that made the strip so memorable.  They include Peppermint Patty hiring Snoopy as a watch dog only to have him incapacitated by her waterbed, Charlie Brown's Valentine vigil, Snoopy and Linus's truffle hunt, Snoopy playing tennis and other classic moments.

For a real appreciation of Charles Schulz's genius for creating classic daily and Sunday comic strips for over 50 years take a look at the newest book from Fantagraphics to witness a true American treasure's work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Arrrh Me Buckos, it's Safari Ltd.!

Get ready for some high seas adventures with Safari Ltd.'s Swashbuckler Collection.  Colorfully garbed buccaneers sail the seven seas in search of treasure and Safari Ltd. invites you along for the ride.
Captain Thomas "Redbeard" Crowe, the fiery beard, sword brandishing, hook hand swabby comes dressed in a deep green officer jacket, lots of leather belts and buckles, brown britches, Pilgrim boots and a tri-tip hat.  "Avast ye scurvy seadogs!  Heave to and get ready to board!"
Pistol packing Captain Edward "Blackbeard" Leach may have seafaring plans of his own as he takes aim with his twin flintlock pistols.  Dressed in a red coat, gray pants, buccaneer boots and sporting an eye patch over his left eye, Blackbeard is as fierce as they come.
Four seafaring mates are also available including Gunner Phillip Morton with pistol and sword in hand, ace-wielding and barefoot Boatswain Benjamin Jeffrey, one-leg First Mate Jonathan Roberts with his gold pistol and wooden crutch and First Mate Anne Bonny dressed in pants, boots, short gray jacket and brown hat carrying twin pistols and a parrot on her shoulders.
All of The Swashbuckler Collection figures are tightly sculpted, crisply painted and look as if they are ready to jump off their special display stands.
For a different type of 'skullduggery" check out Safari Ltd.'s Dinosaur Skulls Toob filled with Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, Carnotaurus and other species skulls painted in fossilized tans and browns.
The Bundles Of Babies Toob is filled with a collection of cute, cuddly, adorable, precious (I'm running out of adjectives) babies of every race and gender.  Some are in diapers, others in play outfits-all are as cutes a buttons.
When I saw the Prehistoric Sealife Toob's contents it made me glad that I live now and not back in prehistoric times.  There we some ferocious and nasty looking critters back then!
Ollie On A Snail is a diminutive elf dressed in forest greens and browns atop an oversize brown snail.  Talk about some slow transportation.  Regardless, they make a cute couple!

Prison, Planet, Cloudy, Warcraft And Eastwood

Insight Editions has released a quintet of titles dealing with TV and movies.  All are exquisitely designed and jammed full of photos and art.  If you've never given Insight Editions books a look you need to give them a try.  Each and every volume, regardless of subject matter, is a small work of art filled with lush illustrations, high resolution photos and informative text.  The books themselves consist of high-quality paper stock that guarantees clean crisp image and text reproduction and tight, clean binding, with or without slipcases. 
The TV series Prison Break is one of the most innovative and original series to come down the pike in some time.  Centered around two brothers who are unjustly imprisoned by the mysterious Company and then escape, has had viewers guessing and second guessing what is going on each and every episode.
Insight Editions and writers Christian Trokey and Kalinda Vazquez present The Official Companion Book To The Greatest Escape On Television.  Each and every page offers behind-the-scenes info and pictures from each of the show's seasons.  Learn the secrets both in front of and behind the camera complemented by lots of candid photos and revealing text.
The Art Of Planet 51 is a square bound hardback book by Danny Graydon with a foreword from Gary Oldman.  The book consists of a short story synopsis, lots of production art of characters, locations and vehicles.  Look for charter bios, storyboards, color studies and sketches-lots of sketches.  All thought the movie didn't fair so well at the box office, this new book is a real eye-pleaser and lots of fun to read.
A huge hit for Sony Picture's Animation, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meat Balls, based on the award-winning children's book, translates perfectly to the printed page.  The huge hardbound book comes in a sturdy slipcase, both lavishly illustrated front and back.
Written by Tracey Miller-Zarneke with a foreword from Judi Barrett, The Art And Making Of Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy With A Chance Of Meat Balls gives readers a complete text and art rundown of the entire hilarious movie.
Look for complete character bios and illustrations, color studies, location illustrations, ground-breaking visual effects-such as clouds and some really cool special inserts.  What other book offers you things like scratch and sniff stickers, Top Secret schematics, a map and shopping guide, Flint's Car schematic: before and after, a fold-out weather map, screen savers, a burger guide and more?  Now that's my kind of book!
There's a reason why World Of Warcraft is the most popular online game ever created.  A solid story, spectacular art, incredible special effects and a game friendly playing environment make it extremely popular with gamers.  A whole world-universe-is open to gamers with new scenarios and environments being introduced almost on a daily basis.
The Cinematic Art Of World Of Warcraft Wrath Of The Lich King is as every bit as impressive as the game itself.  Discover how the game came about, who the key players are, what they look like, how special visual effects and panoramic vistas were created, modeling, texturing and surfacing secrets, rendering and sound creation and more in illustration filled pages with accompanying text that reveals the how and why.
Randomly inserted translucent envelopes contain final production art that make the cook a complete package of fantasy art as imagined by the geniuses behind the online game.
Most readers and movie goers associated Clint Eastwood with his Western an Detective movies and recently his WWII films.  I actually started watching Eastwood when he was one of the co-stars on the Rawhide TV Western series.  Even then his charisma and screen presence could be seen.
While filming the series Eastwood traveled to Spain to film the Spaghetti Westerns he would become so famous for as The Man With No Name.  After a string of several other Westerns Clint would make a series of movies starring as character he would become most closely associated with his entire life: the no nonsense police detective: Dirty Harry.
Clint Eastwood ICON: The Essential Film Art Collection by David Frangioni with essays by Thomas Schatz, chronicles Eastwood's long cinematic career via movie posters form all over the globe.
The oversize hardbound book breaks Eastwood's career by decade and showcases his many films via movie posters.  It makes for a welcome nostalgic trip down Memory Lane of Clint's stellar cinematic career. 

Sunpak 15” Digital Photo Frame


Recently I went shopping for a digital photo frame I could use to display my students’ artwork work at school. I need it to be rugged, easy to set up and with a large enough viewing area to best showcase the student’s work. I found all of that in Sunpak’s 15” Digital Photo Frame and at an unbelievably affordable price!
I was able to quickly create a slide show by plugging in a jump drive into the frame’s side. Pictures rotate at a selected speed and can be cropped and manipulated as need be.
Other features include the ability to play MP3 music, download images from memory cards used in digital cameras and view up to 12 Mega Pixels images. The frame includes a credit card style remote control that duplicates the controls on the frame itself.

Easy to understand on screen icons guide you through each function, set up time is quick and the attraction faux wood frame come with a detachable stand for easy display.

Great looks, great features and a great price makes the Sunpak 15” Digital Photo Frame the perfect choice for your digital photo needs.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

For those fellow Marvel Comics Silver Age fans out there I’m sure you remember when Marvel introduced Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its Strange Tales anthology series first drawn by Jack Kirby and later written and drawn by the legendary Jim Steranko.The story centered on the modern day spy adventures of one-time WWII Sergeant Nick Fury as the head of the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and its fight against evil around the globe.
Later on, Nick and S.H.I.E.L.D. would play pivotal roles in all of the Marvel Universe, recently in the Invasion storyline.

As it turns out S.H.I.E.L.D. has been around for centuries and headed up by some of the most notable figures in history, Leonardo Di Vinci being one. Born at the dawn of civilization S.H.I.E.L.D. and its operatives were given the task of protecting Earth and its inhabitants from threats natural and supernatural, terrestrial and celestial.

Throughout time S.H.I.E.L.D. have been responsible for stopping, or assisting in stopping, such threats while maintaining its covert status.

Young Leonid is about to come face-to-face with S.H.I.E.L.D. and a new threat to the Earth and universe on such a grand scale that his father: The Night Machine, has returned from the dead and not far behind him Leonardo Di Vinci. What is the threat? What has S.H.I.E.L.D. and Leonid have to do with it and why the return of Leonardo? I don’t know, but I’m planning on sticking around to find out and you should too. Writer Jonathan Hickman turns in a powerful tour de force story while artist Dustin Weaver will wow you with his artwork. Although Dustin has worked in comic books before there was nothing particularly outstanding in his work.
That has changed! His new pencils and inks are phenomenal! His work reminds me of a cross between Neal Adams, Arthur Adams, Michael Golden and Jim Lee. The detail and mastery of anatomy, perspective and layout is a real treat for the eyes and he tells one heck of a story. Don’t miss it!



Brightest Day Zero Issue

The DC Universe shattering events of Blackest Night have culminated in massive changes to the status quo. Many heroes and villains have changed, none more so than those previous dead and resurrected by the White Rings. But why? Why did a select few return to life and not dozens of others?
That’s the big question asked in Brightest Day #0 as written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomast and illustrated by Fernando Pasarin.


Perhaps the most key resurrected hero is Deadman, a.k.a. Boston Brand, the onetime circus acrobat artist killed by the mysterious man with one hand and brought back as spectral tool of mysterious supernatural forces.
For some reason Boston has the ability to bring dead things back to life. He is also drawn to those heroes and villains who were resurrected-but why?

As the story progresses readers are given a quick glimpse of the various characters and the choices they are given. Deadman, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Hawk, Aquaman, Reverse Flash, Boomerang, Maxwell Lord, The Martian Manhunter, Jade, Firestorm and Osiris have all returned from the dead but for what reason and what about the resurrected Star City and Sinestro? If you like a mystery wrapped up in an enigma, twisted around adventure and packaged in an exciting storyline then be sure to pick up each issue of Brightest Day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Star Trek: Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor #1


It’s obvious from the very first panel of Star Trek: Leonard McCoy Frontier Doctor #1, published by IDW Publishing, that writer/artist John Byrne loves Classic Star Trek and especially Doctor Leonard (Bones) McCoy. His writing has pegged Bones perfectly as the crusty old time doctor that he is forced to contend with modern day technology while providing good old fashioned personal care.
In this first story, that takes place just prior to the events in Star Trek: the Motion Picture, Bones has written Kirk a letter telling of his recent adventure as a space-faring Frontier Doctor.


After saving the life of an important Andorian couple’s unborn child, Bones and fellow physician Jon Michel Duncan, board their antique spacecraft and head for their next assignment. But as they go into warp the ship malfunctions because of the extra weight of an Andorian stowaway. Before they can return her to her planet they are called away to the Earth colony on Ophiucus III. It seems that the human inhabitants are being infected by a strange plant virus. After some quick thinking and by making a “logical’ conclusion Bones solves the problem and creates several others. Read the story, you’ll see what I mean.


If you love Star Trek and Doctor McCoy, you’re sure to love this great new book about everyone’s favorite country doctor in space.