Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Strap Caddy Seat Belt Phone Holder


I'm one of those rare individuals who actually DOESN'T speak on their cell phone while driving.

There is nothing more irritating (and dangerous) than a person who is holding their cell phone to their ear and totally tuning out what's going on around them.  You know the type:  they swerve in front of you, almost rear end you, take forever to realize the light has turned green or worse yet--run a red light.

Let's face it, cell phones are convenient and a wonderful new technology but there will always be people who abuse the use of the technology and endanger other people's lives. 

While it's always best to not text or talk on a cell phone while driving for those who cannot resist the Strap Caddy Seat Belt Phone Holder keeps their hands of their phones and on the their steering wheels. 

In just a few moments the Strap Caddy Seat Belt Phone Holder slips on your seat belt. The Strap Caddy Seat Belt Phone Holder then is positioned on your shoulder when you belt up.  
  
Safely talk hands free!  It's completely portable, stays on seat belts securely and best of all you know where your cell phone is at all times-no more fumbling around trying to find it!

There's no messy dashboard mounts and you can even charge your phone while driving.  Strap Caddy Seat Belt Phone Holder is manufactured by StrapCaddy Products.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Big Bang Theory First And Second Seasons


Geek is chic.  I'm a Geek.  My friends know it.  My family knows it.  I'm comfortable in my Geekiness.  I embraced it decades ago.  I'm not a brainy Geek (well, to some I am).  I'm a "see things differently than others" kind of Geek.  I marvel at the absurdity of our modern society.

I would rather read a book than take part in a social activity.  I enjoy being alone.  I like to think "outside the box."  I even find that phrase absurd.  My friends are Geeks.  I associate with Geeks.  Remember the old saying, "Be kind to a Geek, he or she might be your boss one day."  Eventually all Geeks have their revenge.

Where am I going with this line of thought?  If you were a Geek you would know.  Here's a clue.  Network TV has finally figured out that Geeks are great consumers of merchandise. Other than bad fashion purchases Geeks buy all things popular culture.  The more obscure the better.  

They are walking encyclopedias of catch phrases, solely responsible for the survival of game and comic book shops, multi-viewers of movies and the guardians of sarcastic speech.
That's what makes Warner Bros. The Big Bang Theory Seasons One And Two Blu-ray/DVD/Ultra Violet collections so priceless.

For the first time Geekness is presented as it truly is-populated by social misfits who act, dress, habituate and relate to the opposite sex in their own unique fashion.

What's it like when a quartet of Geeky friends must learn associate with a lovely female non-Geek who lives in the nearby apartment.  Do they shun her or welcome her-or both?  For some of the best written and hilarious scripts ever produced for a TV series you have to check out the two new The Big Bang Theory collections.  

Every conceivable type of Geek obsession is shown.  From Cosplay to comic books.  From science fiction films to fantasy-the cast of The Big Bang Theory nails each and everyone on their Geeky heads.

Extras include featurettes, gag reels, real science documentaries and so much more Geekiness that you'll soon be wearing pocket savers, mending your glasses with tape and wearing cloths that never match.  Embrace your inner Geek.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catalina Island Pottery And Tile 1927 - 1937



I'm no potter.  Professionally I'm a graphic designer and 2D artist.  Asking me to tackle 3D art like sculpting and pottery is guaranteed to send me into a panic stricken swoon.
Somehow my brain refuses to wraparound the concept of 3D.  Oh sure I can make things look 3D on paper but to actually create a 3D object you might as well ask me to build the Eiffel Tower.

That's why I'm so impressed by those that can create 3D art.  

Catalina Island Pottery And Tile 1927 - 1937 are good examples.  The revised and expanded 2nd Edition book, written by Carole Coates with photos by Jeffrey Snyder and published by SchifferPublishing, contains a plethora of photos and information about that important period in American crafts.

Besides containing color photos of the various tile and pottery the book is packed with historical text, prices, advertising material and so much more.  I'm not 3D artist but I can appreciate the incredible talent it took to create such beautiful pieces of art and once looking through the book you will too.

The Hunter


Actor Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man and Platoon) stars as mercenary Martin David who is hired to hunt a Tasmanian tiger thought to be extinct.  Hired by a company that wants the tiger's genetic material, Martin takes on the guise of a scientist.

He sets up base at a farmhouse owned by a family whose father is missing.  Normally a loner, Martin soon becomes attached to the family.  Conflicted about his assignment he soon finds himself entrenched in a dangerous game that threatens not only himself but his adopted family as well.

Willem Dafoe delivers a one-two punch performance of a loner torn between what he is hired to do and what is right.  Look for the DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.  Included on the DVD or Blu-ray are featurettes about the film, cast, the tiger and Tasmania along with deleted scenes, commentary and theatrical trailer.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fangoria #315, August


Fangoria Magazine for August takes a trip to Twin Peaks, witnesses when Mars Attacks! and takes part in the Monster Invasion along with the Pact, Family Demons and BLK Vampires.

Look into the RED lights, witness The Awakening Of The Dead and meet the Father Of Phibes.  Crispin Glover goes on An Odyssey Of Oddities, Carl Gottlieb writes the tooth about Jaws and there's is nothing cute about The Bunny Game.

Discover who killed Laura Palmer, meet some guy who kills people and it's best to skip Visiting Hours at the Hospital Hall Of Horror. Bill Moseley is Tortured One Day and a Rogue The Next.  Ellen Burstyn confronted true evil in The Exorcist, Jenny Wright remembers The Dali Affair and enroll in the School Of Shock.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wrath Of The Titans



Everything about Wrath Of The Titans is bigger than its predecessor Clash Of The Titans.  The monsters are bigger and badder, the special effects and CGI are bigger and bolder, the fights are humongous (after all, we are talking about the gods) and the storyline is much more down to earth and believable.

Liam Neeson returns as Zeus and Sam Worthington his human son Perseus in a (pardon the pun) titanic battle between the gods.  

Kronos is free from his prison (father of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon) and he, along with the Titans, battle the gods.  Hades (played to villainous perfection by Ralph Fiennes) betrays and manages to capture Zeus and bring him to the Underworld .  It's up to Perseus to free him, save his family and humanity.

One problem-Perseus is one rusty warrior.  For the past 10 years he has been content to lead the life of a simple fisherman and raise his son.  But, when his son and father are threatened he must reluctantly take on the mantle of the half-human warrior and set about slaying man, beast and god.  

The Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Combo Pack comes with some cool extras such as deleted scenes, featurettes on the gods and man, behind the scenes glimpses, storyboards and more, courtesy of Warner Bros.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cover And Page Art For Dad's Chair

Here's the art I created in Photoshop for Dad's Chair.


Previews, July


It's time to lay some hard earned cash down for some collectible goodies and Diamond Previews for July has just the items you can spend your money on.  Here's just a sampling.
New comic books include Thor #19 & 20,  Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1, TMNT #1, Talon #0, Ghost #0, Star Trek: Next Generation Hive #1, Guarding The Globe #1, Happy! #1, The Creep #1, Phantom Stranger #0, Sword Of Sorcery #0, Team 7 #0, Doctor Who #1, A Fine & Private Place #1, Womantholgy Space #1, Woodwork, Alan Moore's Fashion Feast #1, Damsels #1 and Steed And Mrs. Peel #1.

If you love to read check out the following books: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Mars Attacks, Spider-Man Chronicle, Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History, Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure, Behind The Sofa: Celebrity Memories Of Doctor Who, Mad's Greatest Artists, Mort Drucker, Skyfall: Bond On Set, Brief Guide To James Bond, Frankenweenie: The Visual Companion, Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, Star Wars Art: Illustration and Star Wars: The Essential Reader's Companion.

Trading cards to look for are Garbage Pail Kids Series 1 Stickers, The Walking Dead Season 2 and The Quotable Star Trek Voyager.

Toy around with The Munsters, The Expendables, Star Trek, Marvel Select, Mass Effect, Star Wars, Batman, Scarface, Hanna Barbara History Collection Wave 1, Tintin and Domo. 

Game on with Marvel Heroic, The Hobbit, E.T. Star Trek Fleet Captains: Romulan Empire.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back Issue! #57, July


In this issue of Back Issue! from Twomorrows Publishing, Jeanette Kahn, former president and publisher of DC Comics, is interviewed.  Her long career and the many innovations she introduced during her tenure at DC Comics are examined.

Learn how she got her start in the children's' magazine publishing field and her rise and eventual retirement from DC Comics.  Along the way enjoy lots of candid photos, colorful memories and spectacular art by some of the industry's top talent working at DC at the time.
Ms. Kahn is credited with the 'British Import' of talent, the creation of Vertigo, the complete restructuring and re-imaging of DC Comics and other important contributions to the comic book publishing field.  

Back Issue! examines DC's Dollar Comics, its DC Kids Line, the Wonder Woman Foundation Awards, social issues tackled in the pages of DC Comics, an interview with former DC writer and VP of Sales, Bob Wayne and remembering Eduardo Barreto who passed away in 2011.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cameras And Cats



Schiffer Publishing recently released two books that indirectly relate to my teaching Drawing and Commercial Art.

Last year I added a Commercial Art course to my class offering.  Being that it was an introductory class I touched upon the various aspects of Commercial Art-one of which is photography.

This upcoming school year I have added Commercial art 2 and as a more advanced class I will be looking into and incorporating more photography as a requirement to my students.
That's why I got all excited by John Wade's new book 'From Daguerre To Digital-150 Years Of Classic Cameras.  What a great resource for my students!

Contained in the book are hundreds of color photographs of the various types of cameras offered to the public over the past 150 years.  

Short and concise information is given for each including manufacturer, special features, film capacity and uses. I can't think of a better resource book to explain the history behind photography.

Types of cameras are broken down by chapters and a glossary explains photographic terms.
Cats.  I admit I never was a big fan of cats but now baby-sitting two that my daughter left with my wife and I after she moved out, I've grown to appreciate them and enjoy their company.
We have two outdoor cats, Muffin and Maquira.  They are as different as night and day.

Dolls.  Although I don't collect dolls in the strictest sense I do have a large collection of 'action figures' and 12-inch collectible figures.  (Translation: dolls for guys.)

I am fascinated by the skill and imagination it takes to outfit said figures and consider them valuable additions to my collection.

Cats and dolls? What could they possibly have to do with each other?

Helen Cohen's new book showcasing her costumed cat dolls is wonderful, whimsical treat for the eyes.
Whimsical Elegance: The Costumed Cat Dolls Of Helen Cohen, published by Schiffer Publishing, contains some of the most imaginative uses of fabric and feline I've ever seen.
These are no ordinary cats.  No, they are decked out the some of the fanciest and most exotic finery ever sewn together.  

Silks, stains, skirts, shawls, feathers, finery, hats, hoods, jewelry and more serve to show off some of the fashionable felines.  Besides the figures and fashions photos include packaging, accessories and text tells readers all about the individual cats and their history.

It's a regular feline fashion show!   

Minutemen #1



When DC Comics announced that it would be publishing seven titles in its Before Watchmen series there was mixed reactions from comic book readers.

Many readers believed that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 12-part Watchmen series should not be trifled with.  Other readers were anxious to see further adventures of the classic characters.

The series' creator, Alan Moore, pooh-poohed the idea (when does he not?) while series' artist Dave Gibbons gave his blessing.  

The point is really mote as DC Comics owns the rights to the characters and it can do whatever it wants with them.  I'm surprised something hasn't already been published before.  After all, the Watchmen movie was a critical success and the DC Direct figures were some of the best-selling of the line.

Minutemen #1 sets the pace for the upcoming Before Watchmen titles.  In it writer and artist Darwyn Cooke (a big favorite of mine) introduces the Minutemen (the predecessors of the Watchmen). 

In it the now retired original Nite Owl has written a book chronicling the lives of the various members of the Minutemen.  In short vignettes each member's reasons and motivations for crime-fighting is explained along with a few details of their private lives.

Minutemen #1 delves into more detail of what and who the Minutemen were, why they banded together and most importantly how they influenced and inspired the Watchmen.

Hints as to who they were were sprinkled throughout the original Watchmen series and with the short sequences detailed in Minutemen #1 readers are better able to understand the motivations and reasons behind their masked personas.

I look forward to the entire Before Watchmen series and I applaud DC Comics for taking the courageous step to produce them.

Comics, Sci-Fi And Stones





The majority of comic books published today are not for kids.  Sex, drugs, nudity, violence and 'adult' themes pervade most comic book stories.

Parents who encourage their children to read are often frustrated by the lack of child-centered comic books that offer good solid stories, with moral lessons and non-threatening characters.
Cheer up! More and more comic book publishers are realizing the huge market for children's comic books and more and more titles are taking up store shelves.

Krause Publications new 'A Parent's Guide To The Best Kids' Comics' written and compiled by Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith, will help parents choose the titles their children will love.
Inside parents and kids can look over titles (most printed within the last ten years) broken down by age and grade levels.

Each title includes colorful cover and interior pages and a complete synopsis of the main story with educational tie-ins, heads-up content warnings and other pertinent information parents will find especially helpful.

It's a great resource parents and kids will enjoy.

I love science fiction movies, or as we fans prefer to them: Sci-Fi films. 

Surprisingly it is difficult to find any books anthologies that spotlight the top Sci-Fi movies produced over the decades-until now!

Author Robert C. Ring has assembled a wonderful new book called Sci-Fi Movie Freak, published by Krause Publications, that does just that.

Starting with some the earliest classic Sci-Fi films made the book proceeds to look at the most influential and genre-shaping movies created over the decades.

Full color and black and white photos accompany each film synopsis along with statistical data on the film's release, rating, country created in, studio that released it and so on.

From animated films to high-budget, special-effects laden epics this book covers them all.  Even some cult classics are included and a special DVD of possibly the worse Sci-Fi film ever made: Plan 9 Form Outer Space, is included.

Love them or hate them, there is no doubt that The Rolling Stones have shaped and influenced Rock and Roll since they first appeared 50 years ago.

Considered the 'bad boys' of Rock and Roll, The Rolling Stones became popular at about the same time as The Beatles.  While The Beatles were considered clean and safe, The Rolling Stones were anything but.

They pushed the boundaries of social acceptance and always managed to create a scene whenever they performed.  Teenagers loved them and parents hated them - a sure sign of a successful group.

Howard Hammer has created a pictorial journey through the group's 50 Years Of Rock in a new softbound book from Krause Publications about The Rolling Stones.

Through pictures and text the author guides readers through the last five decades chronicling The Rolling Stones ups and downs, victories and failures and always turbulent and controversial careers.

If you love Rock and Roll then you are sure to love 50 Years Of Rock: The Rolling Stones.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Exit Humanity


Zombies are everywhere.  They proliferate in movies, TV series, books, comic books and other pop culture merchandize.

In the last few years Zombiemania has swept the world and fans can't seem to get enough of the undead, eat-you-brains, rip-you-to-pieces animated corpses.  You would think Zombies are a current phenomenon but they're not. They've been around for decades-centuries-at least according to the new Exit Humanity DVD recently released by Vivendi Entertainment.

In Exit Humanity a young soldier (Edward Young) has just returned from fighting in the Civil War.  All he wants to do is find his family and take up where his life was before it was interrupted by the war.

Unfortunately a zombie plague has swept the country and he is forced to kill his wife who has turned and his son disappears.  The movie centers on his search for his missing child.  Along the way he meets various characters and the movie swifts its focus more toward the excellent character interplay and less on the zombies.

Interestingly enough some of the true monsters in the film are not the zombies but some of the people Edward encounters during his search.

DVD extras include commentaries and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.  Be warned-this is not a film for young children but horror film fans will love it. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tattoo A Banana


As an art teacher I'm always looking for innovative ways to create art-sometimes from the most mundane things imaginable.  If being an artist has taught me anything it's that money is always tight and the lack of supplies is the mother of invention.

When I picked up a copy of Phil Hansen's new book: Tattoo A Banana, published by Perigree, I knew I had found a kindred spirit.

Mr. Hansen has discovered the way to make art from almost anything! I was fascinated how he was able to take everyday objects like toast, marshmallows and other assorted foodstuffs and bric-a-brac and create beautiful pieces of art-at almost no cost!

Part philosophy, part instruction manual, Tattoo A Banana contains lessons not only on life but art as well.  Now go out there and Tattoo A Banana, paint a peach, sculpt a squash-you get the idea!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Art Of Gears Of War 3


How does one go about describing visual art? To the common man it is simply the process by which an artist recreates objects on paper or canvas using pencil, ink or paint.  Put simply, it is making "pretty pictures."

To an visual artist, regardless of the type, it is the process by which they translates their thoughts, emotions and technical skills into a viable two dimensional form that imitates three dimensions.  It is far more than making "pretty pictures".  All artists leave a little bit of their souls with each piece of work they complete.

Fine artists tend to place themselves above mere "commercial artists".  After all they do it to "express themselves and complete their own vision."

Commercial artists, on the other hand, do it for the money.  I could not disagree more.  As a commercial artist/graphic designer myself I have to say that a small piece of me lingers in each piece of art I've produced.  Despite the fact that I did each for money, personal creativity, of any type, still demands commitment and a strong sense of purpose.

Didn't the great Renaissance artists all produce work for patrons and the church for a fee.  Wouldn't that make them "commercial artists"?

Why am I bringing this subject up?  To make a point.

Many of today's finest artists are commercial artists.  And many of those are working in video game design industry.
Ballistic Publishing has just released its latest art book called: The Art Of Gears Of War 3 and if after looking at this book if you have any doubts as to the tremendous talent that goes in to designing such a complex video game then I have serious doubt as to your capacity to really understand art and artists.

Just the design of the book itself with its high gloss cover wrapped around 300 plus pages packed with production art is impressive enough on its own.

When you look inside and imagine the talent it took to design characters from scratch, create environments, equipment, vehicles, creatures, special visual effect and all of the other visuals associated with the game play the mind staggers.

The designers of Gears OF War 3 from Epic are a talented crew.  Designing the game involves so much more than just what you see on the screen.  Designers must understand engineering, fluid dynamics, lighting, the human figure, painting and pigment application, all the elements and principles of design, numerous scientific laws and functions, biology, muscle structure, fabrics, visual effects-the list goes on and on.

Besides being a book that contains "pretty pictures" it also contains notes and comments on the various designs, techniques, game mechanics, vectoring, texture mapping, sculpture, rendering and the hundreds of the other processes necessary in order to produce an award-winning video game.

So, the next time you watch or play Gears Of War 3, or any other video games for that matter, look past the effects and visuals and see what it takes to produce what I consider a classic piece of art that is no less impressive than those done by the old masters. 

Alter Ego #110, June


Alter Ego magazine for June spotlights SHAZAM!, artist Leonard Starr, The Golden Age Of Fanzines Panel and the passing of Lou Cameron, Mike Anglo, William A. Benulis, Sr., Martin Levy and Joe Simon.  Pages are filled with anecdotes and art from each.

Learn the origin of Captain Marvel and the secret of Roy Thomas and Jerry Bingham's 1986 SHAZAM! redux. Alter Ego talks to the original radio actor Billy Batson and be sure to check out the other fine publications of TwoMorrows Publishing.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Superman Vs. The Elite


Is Superman obsolete?  Is he a relic of the past?  Does truth, justice and American way really stand up in a world where evil reigns and the bad guys get off Scot free?  Should evil men be punished-no, killed for their crimes against humanity?

Those are just a few of the questions Superman must ask himself when a new brand of superhero shows up.  The kind of superhero who takes the fight to the bad guys and takes no prisoners.
When Superman comes up against the Elite he is unprepared for their savagery and lack of conscience.  Ultimately they must face off against him.  Will Superman's vision of the best of humanity shine through or will the world be reduced to only the strong survive?

Warner Bros. Animation proudly presents Superman Vs. The Elite- a different kind of Superman story that is sure to have Superman fans talking for years to come.

Included in the Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet Combo pack are selected Superman animated TV series episodes, featurettes, storyboards, commentaries and a surprise sneak peek. 
Do not miss this powerful story of redemption and hope.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows


Seldom does a sequel to a popular movie become better than the original. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is just such a movie. Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Doctor Watson reprise their roles in an intrigue-filled, action-packed and Victorian roller coaster of a film that delivers on all accounts.


Having laid out the framework for the new take on Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson in the first film, the second film allows the actors to slip into their roles and explore the often turbulent relationship between Watson and Holmes.


This time around a string of murders, scandals and violence leads Holmes to one frightening conclusion, Moriarty is back and behind the nefarious deeds. Holmes and Watson travel abroad and manage to stay just one step behind the diabolical Moriarty. Can they stop his dastardly plans before he changes the course of human history? Hold on as Watson and Holmes take part in one of their greatest adventures!


The Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolent Combo comes with Maximum Movie Mode (accompanied by Robert Downey Jr.), Storyboards, Galleries and more from Warner Bros.

The Blank



One of the favorite things students enjoy that I teach in my drawing classes is drawing cartoons and comic books. Students are required to design two characters on a standard model sheets and then incorporate those characters into either a daily and Sunday comic strip or a comic book cover and interior page. The majority choose the comic book.


One of the things students have the most problems with is how to lay out a comic book page. I limit the students to six panel pages that must incorporate characters, environments, perspective, lettering, etc. At first I had the students draw their own page panels at size and after several failed attempts to get them used to how to proportion panels I settled for copied six panel pages at size.


They worked but it limited the students’ ability to ink and letter because of bleed-over of ink. What they needed were pages that had panels preprinted on heavier paper stock. I’ve discovered the solution.


About Comics has produced two ‘The Blank’ comic book sized pre-paneled books that solves not only my panel problem but the paper stock on which they are printed .


Sixty three pages of heavier paper stock are provided in two formats. One is a square-bound book measuring seven inches by ten inches with pages consisting of six pre-inked panels of equal size and the other book is of the same dimensions and stock but with light panel outlines that can be tailored for panels of different sizes.


Both books make for excellent design and idea sketchbooks for laying out stories in preparation for final comic book pages. Would be comic book artists can lay out entire books with enough pages for various composition ideas. After all, few artists get page layouts right the first time.


Later in the next school year when I introduce comic books I plan on purchasing several of the books for my advanced students. The Blank-what a great idea!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Yellow Submarine


No other Pop or Rock and Roll group has ever influenced society as much as The Beatles. During the 1960s The Beatles changed from a mop top quartet to one of the most influential musical groups in the world.


As the group’s music style matured so too did The Beatle themselves. America and the world mimicked the many transformations the group went through.


The Beatles not only influenced music, but fashion, morality and religion as well. It seemed like every area The Beatles moved into, they, and those they associated with, transformed each one.


In 1968 The Beatles tackled animation with the introduction of their animated feature, Yellow Submarine-based on a Beatles song.


In the film animation was taken to a new level. Traditional tried and true animation staples were challenged and changed resulting in a mind-blowing animated feature with memorable characters, a bizarre environment and some of the most carefully choreographed musical animation pieces ever attempted up to that point.


Every conceivable type of animation trick was used and few new ones were introduced. Apple Films presents the newly re-mastered and digitally enhanced re-release of the classic Beatles animated feature: Yellow Submarine on DVD.


Also contained on the DVD are featurettes about the cast, animation team and the music that transformed feature length animation forever.”All aboard for the trip of your life!”

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Cover Art

Here's the cover art I created for a book my friend has written.