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Saturday, January 31, 2009


A Bass Master's Tip: when angling for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, make sure to use the proper lure.

Friday, January 30, 2009


From today's New York Times: Cheech & Chong in Midtown Manhattan.

Folks, Yer Bunche is one pissed-off so-and-so right now. I just found out that two of my very favorite comedic personalities, Cheech & Chong, are touring and performing at Radio City Music Hall tomorrow night, and I had no clue. Consequently I have no ticket and am shit outta luck.

Oh, well...

Nonetheless, it's good to see them still kicking around and I can't believe Tommy Chong is seventy. SEVENTY!!!


Dear Vaulties-

as you know, I work on this site when I have the time between actual work, sleeping or generally being a geek/menace to society, and I have suddenly found myself buried with real work. That means there may or may not be full articles posted here for a couple of days, but there are several days worth of FUN WITH CAPTIONS scheduled to automatically post so you won't be left totally high and dry. I'll get back to it ASAP, and I thank you for your patience and support.

Yer Bunche


Following the effects of concentrated atomic radiation, Jerry never again had to worry about Tom.


I was initially alerted of this by fellow giant monster groupie Mark G, but only just saw it for myself on TV this morning while waiting for the weather report.

Of the many delights found during THE 4:30 MOVIE's fabled "Monster Week" city stompathons was a non-Toho opus called THE X FROM OUTER SPACE (1967), a one-off giant monster flick featuring an alien critter known as Guilala. With an origin "influenced" by that of the Ymir in the Ray Harryhausen classic 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), Guilala was an extra-terrestrial life-form that grew from a tiny spore into a standard big-assed monster who did the usual "urban renewal boogie" necessary to propel a story in this genre, only distinguishable from one of its many brethren by virtue of being even more goofy-looking than the average man-in-a-suit leviathan. Guilala kind of looked like a chicken/lizard with antennae and a curved handle sprouting from its head, and a pair of thighs and an ass that would have been wholly appropriate for a KFC-lovin' trailer park cutie named Cameltoe Annie, but the icing on the cake is that the beast's corpulent figure looked like it was cobbled together from some delicious fried pork gyoza.

Guilala, as originally seen in 1967's THE X FROM OUTER SPACE.

As giant monster flicks go, THE X FROM OUTER SPACE was fun, if slight, stuff that would have been totally relegated to the back pages of rubber suit obscurity were it not for the monster's kooky aspect, but Guilala returned in 2008's GUILALA'S COUNTERATTACK (which I have yet to see, but would love to) and just recently as the mascot for, of all things, a high-end job search website. Check out the ad here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


It's official: after over three decades of listening, the Japanese admit that they have no fucking clue as to what's up with Yoko Ono's recording career.


You'd think that the Internet would be able to provide answers to damned near any question the mind could muster, no matter how obscure. To a certain degree I believed that with few reservations, but now I'm on a fact-finding quest and the seemingly limitless plane of cyberspace information is yielding precious little that's of any help. But first let me backtrack a little...

While sitting at my desk at the design ho' house the other morning, I began to tire of the same playlists on my iTunes library and resorted to Amazon's MP3 download library in search of assorted favorites and rarities that would put a smile on my face. After snagging an assortment of tunes I went in search of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite performers, that being "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War" by Nina Hagen, and while there were a shitload of other Nina goodies to be had, that piece from her 1979 UNBEHAGEN album was not among them.

Nina Hagen: unashamedly weirding out the world since the day she was born, and, oh, how I love her.

I've discovered that sometimes a particular song might not show up in a list by the artist in question, so I instead typed in the title and discovered a version by a group called Susi's Schlager Sextett ("schlager" being a blanket term for Teutonic pop music), and damned if it wasn't a sixties-style pop number that's right up my retro alley! I'd kind of figured the Hagen version was a cover because 1) the song is of a whole other musical genus than the stuff Hagen comes up with on her own, especially thirty years ago, so it was a revelation to hear her do a tune that was once so unabashedly "poppy" (Hagen's version differs from much of her catalog by featuring very little of her all-over-the-place vocal gymnastics that range from opera diva-quality arias to King Diamond-like demonic growls that pre-dated King's similar histrionics) and 2) Hagen often does covers, her reworking of the Tubes' "White Punks On Dope" into the apocalyptic "TV Glotzer" being one of my Top 10 favorites recordings of all time. No, seriously.

Nina works it old school.

I downloaded Susi's rendition of "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War" — which is itself a cover; I've also found a version from 1963 by a Rita Pavone and I have no clue if that's the original or not — and then checked out more of the cheery-voiced Susi's offerings, including spirited German-language covers of "My Boy Lollipop" — a song I've heard several great covers of, most prominent of which is Jamaican singer Millie Small's indelible 1964 recording, which leads me to wonder if it's even possible to fuck that song up — and "Lipstick On Your Collar" (or "Lippenstift Am Jacket" in German), and I've listened to the stuff multiple times, shamelessly grooving to what sounds like a swingin' Third Reich surf music party (lots of twangy guitar work here).

But what I wanna know is this: just who the hell were Susi and her Schlager Sextett, and when was this album originally released? If my years of listening to oldies rock can tell me anything, I'd place the album as being from somewhere around 1968-1971, but I can find no info to confirm this assumption and the band looks like an eighties group doing retro, so I'm really at a loss. If there are any readers out there who know anything about this album, I beg of you to write in and school me on as much as there is to Know about Susi and friends. Their stuff would have been right at home in a 1960's Blake Edwards comedy stocked to the rafters with international cast members, and I would have paid money to see a fur coat-clad Elke Sommer lip synch "Wenn Ich Ein Junge War."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The musical equivalent of a Dixie Cup full of air.

I've bitched before about my almost pathological hatred of Eighties pop hits and made mention of a-ha's number one hit "Take On Me" as being quite high on my list of songs that I think should be banned by the Geneva Convention, but this weekend I was once more reminded of just how much that fucking song sends me into a state of berserker fury (which I suppose is only appropriate since the song is a product of Norway).

During a trip to the supermarket around the corner — a place that irritates me for a number of reasons but mostly because the staff refuses to listen to anything other than eighties music or shit like B-Rock & D Biz's "My Babydaddy" (a song that set black people back by at least seventy years) — the dreaded "Take On Me" issued forth from the store's speakers and I felt my eardrums tighten in an attempt to cause spontaneous hearing loss. I was in and out of the store fairly quickly but the damage had been done: the song was stuck in my head and it would not go away, no matter how I tried to exorcise it with healthy (?) doses of GG Allin's "Ass-Fuckin' Butt-Suckin' Cunt-Lickin' Masturbation" (believe it or not, a real song), Cannibal Corpse's cover of Sabbath's "Zero the Hero" or even Hurricane Smith's "Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?"

When "Take On Me" came out it scored huge thanks to its admittedly creative hit video as seen eleventy-million times on MTV and elsewhere, and if not for the video I'm willing to bet the song would have been largely ignored at the time and totally forgotten now. Have you ever paid attention to the song when separated from its visual component? Here are the lyrics:

Talking away
I don't know what I'm to say

I'll say it anyway

Today isn’t my day to find you

Shying away

I've been coming for your love O.K.

Take on me (take on me)

Take me on (take on me)

I'll be gone

In a day or two.

So needless to say I'm odds and ends

But I’ll be, stumbling away
Slowly learning that life is O.K.
Say after me,
“It's no better to be safe than sorry.”

Take on me (take on me)

Take me on (take on me)

I'll be gone

In a day or two.

Oh the things that you say yeah

Is it a life or just to play

My worries away

You're all the things I've got to remember

Be shying away

Oh I'll be coming for you anyway.

Take on me (take on me)

Take me on (take on me)

I'll be gone

In a day …

Take on me (take on me)

Take me on (take on me)

I'll be gone (take on me)

In a day …

Take on me (take on me)

Take on me (take me on)

Take on me (take on me)

Take on me …

I know that pop music is not necessarily high art, but come on. This is not a song. This is bullshit.

If you were born any time before 1989 you've probably seen the video and if born later you've probably encountered it on one of the installments of shows like "I Love the '80's For No Apparent Reason," but for those not familiar with it here's the skinny: Some blonde chick is sitting in a coffee shop reading a sparsely-illustrated comic book apparently about auto racing. Suddenly a rotoscoped hand pops out of the comic and beckons her into the 2-D landscape. Once there, she meets lead singer Morten Harket, a leather-jacketed pretty boy with one of those puffed-out hairdos (or don'ts) common to the era, who when I first saw him I thought was a skinny, butch lesbian.

As the inane lyrics marshmallow their way through the song's running time, the video's narrative revolves around this vile human stick insect (who bears a shocking resemblance to the young Cliff Richard) trying to woo the girl while the two attempt to evade a couple of racing-helmeted bad guys who understandably want to cave in the singer's head with a lug wrench. After much unsuspenseful mishegoss the girl escapes back to reality after the cartoon hero confronts their assailants, and when she gets home she opens the comic to find him lying unconscious, unfortunately neither dead nor being eaten by starving wolverines as one would have hoped. The guy picks himself up off the floor and throws himself against the comic's panel borders. Miraculously, he appears as a drawing in her hallway and bashes himself against the walls, ALTERED STATES-style, until the transitions between rotoscope and live-action stabilize with him as the girl's newfound squeeze.

"Talking away/I don't know what I'm to say/I'll say it anyway/Today isn’t my day to find you Shying away...What the fuck am I talking about?!!?"

Admittedly the video was a step away from the mostly uninspired fare generated for MTV and on the strength of that video the single sold a gazillion copies, ensuring it a torturous duration on the airwaves, both radio and TV. And while there were plenty of eighties hits that got played to death and made me want to go on a sadistic killing spree, none set me off like "Take On Me" thanks to it being quite literally the pop music equivalent to elevator music. You've read the lyrics, so imagine if the song had these words instead:

Blah gawgaray
I zubbazagga-zig-zig floofa poppity doo-dah
On the good ship Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I want to eat Cheez Waffies
In a day or twoooooooooo...

I fail to see a qualitative difference and while I fucking hate "We Built This City," "We're Not Gonna take It" and "Come On Eileen" with a fervency usually reserved for child molesters or organ thieves, none of those contain the sheer, unadulterated sugar water slightness of a-ha's biggest international hit. And somehow these fucksticks were allowed to record what may be the very worst of the James Bond movie themesongs, "The Living Daylights," and considering that Rita Coolidge's "All Time High" (from OCTOPUSSY) and "The World Is Not Enough" by Garbage exist, that's really saying something. (There are those who make a strong case for Duran Duran's "A View To A Kill," but I let that one slide because the music's pretty good.)

Then the late-1980's happened and it looked like "Take On Me" was finally being put out to the pop culture pasture, never to be heard from again...that is until it began to pop up all over the goddamned place as one of the songs absolutely guaranteed to be included on the many "Weren't the '80's Fucking Awesome?" CD compilations that were churned out without mercy. As I've often noted, pop music tends to get recycled and the music of the 1980's has been resurrected with a strength previously unimagined, or at least that's been my experience of it. "Take On Me" has proven to be a favorite of those two decades my junior and I have no clear idea as to why, other than that it can be seen as one of the progenitors of much of the past fifteen years' wimped-out musical confections, there to be absorbed briefly before the next pack of dildoes/heroin addicts shows up to lip-synch their hits on the People's Choice Awards.

I suppose the realization that you hate pop music after a certain period in your life is the moment when the generation gap really gets started and you run the risk of being labeled an old fart or a curmudgeon, but if that be my fate, then I accept it with pride. Just so long as I can preach for the complete and total eradication of the blight that is a-ha's most well-known product, and I do mean "product."


Which possibility is worse: regaining consciousness inside a sealed coffin, or waking up nude and sore and having this be what your eyes open to behold?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


My favorite crazy redhead, the redoubtable Kate Valentine, just notified me of the latest burlesque show she's involved in, the aptly-named THIS IS BURLESQUE, and I'll have to drop in and give it a friendly leer, er, look. I can honestly say that every live show I've seen where she's had anything to do with its contents is well worth spending your entertainment dollar upon, so double-click on the ad to see it full size and get the necessary info.

Plus it looks like my favorite Teutonic tart, the sexily cyclopean Miss Astrid, will be doing the honors as the show's master of ceremonies (or is that "mistress?") and she never lets Yer Bunche down, so drop in for the curve-a-licious fun!


1952: unwilling to end up as some Maharajah's floor rug, a noble beast escapes his captors and swims to America, there to re-invent himself as one of the nation's most beloved breakfast cereal mascots.


I just realized it's been a while since I provided a rundown on the comics I've been currently reading — for better or worse — so here's what stood out in my stack:


By now it's become predictable for me to recommend whatever issue of Stan Sakai's USAGI YOJIMBO is out, so once again I do just that. I've said it before and I'll say it again: whether you like samurai sagas or not, there's simply no denying USAGI YOJIMBO's rank as the best ongoing book out there. Period. The stories and art are never less than grade A and you know you're onto something good when the only — and I do mean only — complaint to made against the book is that the reading of each issue is over too quickly, an especially agonizing state of affairs when the series is in the midst of one of its multi-issue arcs. If you haven't been reading this series you really have no idea what you're missing, but luckily for you the bulk of it has been collected into around twenty volumes or so. TRUST YER BUNCHE and read this! NOTE: although I give this series the highest recommendation possible, keep in mind that the first few volumes, while still good, don't have the visual polish that Sakai would develop as the series progressed, but the same can be said of most great comics, so get off your ass and pick it up. NOW, damn you!!!

JONAH HEX (ongoing)

Good old-fashioned Western nihilism and degradation of the human spirit served up monthly by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and whichever artists happens to available (including such top-notch illustrators as Darwyn Cooke, Rafa Garres and the incomparable Jordi Bernet). If you appreciate violent Westerns straight out of the Sergio Leone school of six-gun carnage, you won't be disappointed.


Never in a million years would I have expected to ever recommend a book showcasing a character who's always been a second-stringer at best, and more than once I've dismissed her as an uninspired Animal Man minus the Y chromosome, but it's finally time for readers to sit up and take notice of Vixen and what can be done with her when handed by the right creative team. Returning to her hometown in Africa with the goal of exacting vengeance upon the man who murdered her mother, Vixen runs into a foe who puts her within inches of Death's door, but that major-league ass-kicking serves as the catalyst for some serious enlightenment regarding the nature (no pun intended) of her wildlife-channeling abilities. Long believing that her powers stemmed from the talisman she wears, Vixen discovers that she has a far more direct connection to the natural world and that she's more powerful than she ever imagined... The Justice League turns up in this to offer assistance when they think she needs it, but all too swiftly they find themselves soundly beaten by the bad guy, a villain with resources of a magnitude that can even bend the Man of Steel to his every whim, and we all know how potentially horrible that can be! This one's not over yet, but I'm on board for the full trip and have thoroughly enjoyed every panel of it thus far. I seriously doubt this will RETURN OF THE LION will spur much interest in the character, but if sales are good enough and she's granted her own ongoing book, DC would be ill-advised to hand it over to anyone other than G.Willow Wilson and Cafu, the creative team who have spun gold from three decades of straw (although Vixen did rock on the Warner Brothers JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoons).

ARMY @ LOVE: THE ART OF WAR (mini-series)

This second round of Rick Veitch's anti-war satire dishes out more comedic vitriol and insanity that's just as much fun as its predecessor, with each panel dripping absurdity. The only caveat here is two-fold: this is best enjoyed by those who already like Veitch's lysergic sensibilities, and the first series is required reading to understand what's going on here, but that's been collected so pick it up and get crackin'!


Usually a huge nothing whenever she pops up, Madame Xanadu has finally been crafted into a viable character that not only is fully deserving of the reader's attention, but is also actually interesting enough to place this series among the top three or four books I anticipate reading each month. No, I'm totally serious! For get all the previous bullshit you've endured involving the hitherto unexplained seeress and surrender to the writing skills of Matt (MAGE) Wagner and the charming art of Amy Reeder Hadley, a creative duo that breathes life into what could have been another of vertigo's assembly line fantasy books. Opening during the days of Arthurian legend, the series explores the mysterious Xanadu's origins and takes her (and the readers) on a journey spanning centuries on her way to the present day, and her adventures on the way involve interactions with important moments in history and some of its famous (and infamous) figures, with the ever-enigmatic Phantom Stranger showing up at every turn to irritate the living shit out of Xanadu with his code of non-interference. One of the best books Vertigo is currently putting out, I wonder if anyone's reading this and I also wonder if Vertigo knows just what a gem it has on its hands. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to those who love fantasy and faeries and that kind of shit, but if you can't take it kinda "girly" you might not be as enthralled as I am.

FABLES (ongoing)

Now that the war-driven overall arc that propelled the story from the first issue is over (as of issue 75), FABLES is pretty much starting over again and is thus far still worth reading. That's all I'll say about it except that it's another series the casual reader can't just jump into, but the whole shebang has been collected so you win. Oh, and Bigby rules and long(er) live Frau Totenkinder!!!


Marvel's take on the legendary Hercules has largely been entertaining from the get-go when he first showed up to serve as the Mighty Thor's opposite number over forty-years ago, but depending on what's being done with him his adventures either totally rock or just lay there like a corn dog doody, bobbing on the surface of your toilet's liquid component. This post-WORLD WAR HULK run thankfully keeps its head on the most important thing that superhero comics have to offer, escapist Fun with a capital "F", along with a healthy dose of loony humor so often missing from spandex operas that take themselves as seriously as THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER, and I've been glued to it since its launch. It's setup is pretty much that of a "road" adventure in which Herc serves as a half-assed mentor/big brother figure to super-genius Amadeus Cho while the to get themselves into and out of all manner of superpowered insanity, and it barely stops to catch its breath before the reader has enough time to realize exactly how ridiculous it all is. There's action galore, romance as Herc attempts to nail every female capable of physically surviving his amorous attentions (successfully bagging Snowbird, Namora and, most impressively, She-Hulk thus far), would-be romance as adolescent Amadeus tries and fails to get laid, cosmic quests featuring a variety of gods from diverse pantheons, and...Oh, hell, just pick up the collection already!


Going strong for just shy of fifty years after flagrantly ripping off E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman concept, DC's Green Lantern books are easily the most epic in scope of the company's monthly offerings and since the return of damned near everybody's favorite GL, Hal Jordan, a few years ago, the series has never failed to entertain and both books are among my monthly "must reads." After last year's "Sinestro Corp War" the rules on a Green Lantern's abilities and duties has been re-written by the Guardians of the Universe and those revisions of their ancient laws have lead to yet more changes that have spelled out all kinds of messed-up shit for those who bear the ring, and as any fan of ongoing dramas will tell you, nothing holds the audience like totally fucking with the characters' status quo. There's plenty going on in these books and they're gearing up for yet another multi-issue epic story, "The Blackest Night," so I don't recommend getting started with this series unless you begin with the first collected volume of writer Geoff Johns' run ("Rebirth") and the first volume of GREEN LANTERN CORPS, also collected, but once you're up to speed there are few superhero books that offer as much bang for your buck.


While most of Marvel's output has been middling to downright lousy over the past decade or so, no book has suffered so great a creative decline as that featuring my favorite of the company's super-teams, and not even the gorgeous artwork of Bryan (THE AUTHORITY) Hitch can stem the malaise. The problem here is scripter Mark Millar, whose would-be epic storylines wallow in their own portentousness while only yielding long stretches of boredom, the result of hauling out many of the Fantastic Four's now-done-to-death tropes. I swear, if I see Galactus or alternate universes/dimensions one more time I'm going to scream, and the totally without point or real effect arc involving the Sue Richards of the future showing up to mastermind a dull plan and inevitably die just went nowhere. The FF has long been a book that languished in creative purgatory between its runs of genuine excellence (Lee & Kirby and the John Byrne era being the obvious frontrunners), and no matter how tarted-up the current material may be by Hitch's contributions, what you still have is a very attractive loaf of Wonder Bread. I have no idea how long it'll be until the FF once more get jolted back to life, but I can sure as shit tell you I won't be holding my breath.


Easily the single most depressing comics series going, this one nearly lost me around a year ago when I found its narrative to be meandering a bit too much, but I'm back to being riveted to its gruesome charms. If you aren't reading this chronicle of a post-Romero-style zombie apocalypse, do yourself the favor and start at the beginning with its first collected volume. I practically guarantee you'll be hooked in no time, work your way through all of the collecteds and join those of us who share the monthly agony of waiting for the new installment. You'll be glad you did.

THE HAUNTED TANK (mini-series)

Yet another Vertigo "re-imagining" of an old DC property, this one's a lot more fun than I ever expected it to be. Taking the ghost of Confederate Civil War General Jeb Stuart from his original task of acting as a mentor to one of his descendants during tank missions in WWII and transplanting him to Operation Iraqi Freedom could have gone wrong and been seen as trite in many ways, but thankfully that didn't happen and the readers win. Now manifesting to the crew of a tank in the middle of the desert, Stuart's shade seeks to guide his most recent relative, and both he and the soldier are shocked to discover their genetic connection because the soldier is black. Less a look at the war in Iraq than an amusing character study of the tank crew and the ghost, this one's just barely out of the gate at two issues, but I'm interested in reading more. Plus Henry Flint's art reminds me of an homage to Frank Quitely, so I certainly don't have a problem with that.

And do you have any recommendations or warnings to share with Yer Bunche and the other readers of this here blog? Please feel free to write in!

Monday, January 26, 2009


Happy Chinese New Year, dear Vaulties! It's the year of the Ox, so the following photo is totally appropos:

So get out there and give all your Chinese pals some love!


Thanks to his less-than-stellar efforts in the cause of Islamic martyrdom, Elvis ended up sixty-five virgins short. Not that he cared that much, mind you...


Holy frijoles, where to even start with this one?

Have you ever been on the train or on a bus and found one of those tiny comics that relate tales of horrible things happening to people as they either fall in line or end up in the Lake of Fire depending upon whether or not they accept Christ as their personal savior? Well if you have, it's a safe bet that the comic in question is the handiwork of Jack T.Chick, an Evangelist of incredible and indomitable conviction who has devoted decades to writing and sometimes drawing these comics — commonly referred to as "tracts" — designed to win souls for the Lord.

Chick tracts are by no means heavy literature and more often than not veer waaaaaay into laughable territory thanks to Chick's over-the-top point of view and wildly paranoid and largely irrational conspiracy theories, but there are many things about them that even irreverent, bound-for-the-Lake-of-Fire heathens like myself find absolutely priceless. I'm certainly not on the same theological page as Chick and take great offense at what he has to say on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, but I just can't get mad at the guy in the same way I find myself ready to draw and quarter the majority of other evangelicals out there who knowingly prey upon the fears and insecurities of their flocks, fleecing them for all the cash they can get. Unlike those fucksticks, I genuinely believe that Chick is sincere in his intent, no matter how wrong-headed I may find much of what he says, and to order one of his tracts costs a mere fourteen cents, so I'd say whoever buys one of them is getting more than their money's worth in terms of entertainment and the possibility of being "saved" while reading.

THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE ART OF JACK T. CHICK is about the most comprehensive overview of Chick's world and mission that one could ever hope for, and it has the added bonus of being written by a British convert to Chick-style Christianity who has a well-developed sense of humor that allows him to appreciate Chick tracts for the same reasons that I do, namely their in-your-face luridness, willful and smug ignoring of documented facts and simple logic, unintentionally hilarious dialogue and plots, some involving the horrors of domestic violence,

multiple examples of shameless homos on the loose (one of which featuring what looks like Pazuzu from THE EXORCIST hanging around in the background, just behind a horny monk chasing a young boy down the street),

fantasy role-playing games,

child molestation and incest (with more random homos thrown in for extra offensiveness),

drugs and booze,

rock music,

promiscuity, both straight and gay, that inevitably leads straight to full-blown AIDS,

prison rape (that also leads straight to full-blown AIDS),

personal appearances by Satan himself,

and watching BEWITCHED (which we are informed is Satan's favorite TV show),

each showcasing art that varies between childishly simplistic (drawn by Chick himself) to some of the finest art ever to grace a comics page (the truly incredible work of Fred Carter), hilarious ruminations on the Catholic church and several tracts that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Chick is not an anti-Semite as one might prejudicially expect.

Chick believes that since the Bible clearly states that the Jews are God's chosen people, that must absolutely be the case, so it's a good idea not to fuck with them (which doesn't stop Chick from throwing in appeals for the Jews to embrace Christ anyway on the final page of each of his Jew-related tracts)!

The book covers the history of Chick Publications and its trials and tribulations (of which there were many, including the open disapproval of the Catholic church and death threats from gays) in exhaustive detail, and there's not a boring sentence in all of its 224 pages. Along with the epic story of Chick's personal struggles and unwitting duping by some of his so-called collaborators (yeah, I'm talking about you, John Wayne Todd, Alberto Romero Rivera and Rebecca Brown!) who turned out to be con-men, sex-offenders or delusional liars, we're also treated to a visit to Chick Publications itself and perhaps the book's strongest draw, an often hilarious and very comprehensive synopsis and critical assessment of every Chick tract ever issued, totaling a whopping 170! In other words, THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE ART OF JACK T. CHICK is not only a steal at its $29.95 in-store cover price (or $22.76 on Amazon, but it's currently out of stock), it's a must have for both the reverent and the irreverent and I recommend it most heartily.

Oh, and I got the majority of these illustrations from Chick's own website where all of those still in print and a few out of print can be found for free (or you can order all currently available tracts, nearly 100 of them, for a measly $14.95!!!). And while one could easily think the illustrations' over-the-top aspects may be magnified by them being seen out of context, I assure you that such is not the case; the tracts that each of them are pulled from are every bit as extreme as what's on display here, and they're each worth a read.

From THE BEAST: what may be the greatest panel in comics history.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


England's 2000 A.D. sci-fi weekly is no stranger to "war in space" stories, but the short-lived original run of THE V.C.s gets my vote as the best of the lot. Clocking in at a mere twenty-two chapters, THE V.C.s scores high points for all of the elements that make for a great military science-fiction story and has the common decency not to glorify warfare in the least, instead showing it to be the ugly, wasteful and inevitably destructive ravager of lives and cultures that it is. When measured against the majority of strips considered classics from 2000 A.D.'s golden age — 1977 through roughly 1984 — THE V.C.s is a surprisingly quiet series, much more interested in the dysfunctional dynamics of its battle-hardened protagonists than the zero-G shoot-'em-up pyrotechnics that go part and parcel with the genre.

Written by Gerry Finley-Day (co-creator of 2000 A.D.'s most famous space-war series, ROGUE TROOPER) and Steve McManus, the series kicks off in the year 2531 and follows raw recruit Steve Smith as he enters a savage conflict between our solar system and the vicious invasion forces of the mysterious "Geeks," a multi-form race who can correctly be read as extra-terrestrial Viet Cong. Expecting to be placed within a standard combat unit, Smith receives an unpleasant surprise when he finds himself assigned to the ship of The V.C.'s, a motley crew composed of men from several colony worlds, each of whom bears no love for native Earthmen like Smith. Derogatorily referred to as "Earthworm," Smith is treated like he's lower than dogshit by every one of the ship's crew (except for their gruff-but-tolerant commanding officer, Jupe) and his complete lack of actual combat experience does not gain him any fans or sympathy. The philosophy of the V.C.'s is simple, "You're hit, you're dead," and damned if it isn't the truth; during the course of the narrative there is much death on both sides of the battle and Smith takes all lessons learned during all the deep-space horror to heart, gradually evolving into a space trooper every bit as ruthless and capable as his crewmates, but that's to be expected when dealing out the kind of carnage necessary to keep the spaceways of our solar system clean of would-be-conquerors. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the term "V.C.'s" is the crew's self-deprecating nickname that's short for "vacuum cleaners."

Displaying surprisingly little of the levity that 2000 A.D. was known for at the time, THE V.C.s is a taut and tense entry that deserves its place in the pantheon of early Two Thou winners and the art by Mike McMahon — whose unique style contributed immeasurably to the success of JUDGE DREDD and later SLAINE — , Cam Kennedy (also a contributor to ROGUE TROOPER) and Gary Leach (who memorably illustrated the stunning first story arc of Alan Moore's classic MIRACLEMAN) certainly did the series no harm, creating a gritty and unpleasant galaxy in which the heroes fight and die, and occasionally looking so grime-encrusted that you'll want to climb into the strip's panels and force the characters to bathe at gunpoint.

The original run of THE V.C.s is complete in this volume and serves as the essential primer for what comes when the series was revived in 2002, some twenty-two years after it was last seen. I have no explanation as to why the series lay fallow for so long, especially considering how 2000 A.D. is notorious for bringing back some strips year after year — and in the case of some, running them into the ground well after they ceased to be of any interest or worth, most notably the once-excellent SLAINE which is now an interminable and incoherent mess — but the second V.C.s series is just as much fun as the original, so I'll be on board for when those are collected (I only read the second run's first story arc, but that was enough to convince me that's it's worth keeping up with).

And a final word of caution to would-be collectors of these current collections of classic 2000 A.D. material: the one downside to having so many of the magazine's most celebrated series becoming available in the U.S. is their comparatively steep import prices. The thicker phonebook-sized volumes can go for as much as $35.00 and a smaller collection like THE V.C.s retails at $22.50 (both prices are the in-store cost; if you order via Amazon expect heinous overseas shipping costs on top of the import rate), so unless you have cash to burn in these uncertain times, as much I recommend most of what Two Thou has to offer I also recommend choosing what you buy with frugality in mind.


Once the laxatives kicked in, Perseus finally discovered what had kept him "backed up" for days.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Not surprisingly, the death metal remake of THE SOUND OF MUSIC failed to connect with the audience.


One of the universal truths of life is that kids are pretty goddamned funny, especially when they aren't trying to be, and Matt (THE SIMPSONS) Groening clearly understands that. This collection of one-page comics drawn from actual recorded conversations with his sons is very, very funny and definitely a vast improvement over the last several books culled from his once-brilliant LIFE IN HELL comic strip (that strip was officially dead in the water when it started featuring nothing but the incredibly unfunny Ackbar and Jeff, two characters who were not funny in the first place and should never have been given the spotlight). Covering a multitude of subjects ranging from burning questions about monsters to travelogue commentary on their adventures in Bali and their in-theater experience with STAR WARS: EPISODE IV-THE SPECIAL EDITION, this book is the perfect antidote to alleged humor comics that elicit not even a smirk, let alone a genuine belly laugh, and it deserves a place on your coffee table. Once it's there your friends and family will doubtless pick it up and check it out, and I'm willing to bet they'll find it quite amusing. RECOMMENDED.

Friday, January 23, 2009


A "drunken negro head cookie," purportedly in "honor" of President Obama... Hunh?!!?

Now that Obama's in office I'm sitting glued to the web looking for idiotic shit that the brain-dead among our citizenry will commit that has to due with a black dude being the commander-in-chief, and anything that I miss I'm certain to be alerted to by my loyal readers and friends, in this case the ever-diligent Cranky Frankie. Frank knows and understands my wry amusement at the excesses of racist humor and blackface "negrobilia," so he keeps me updated on all the latest in ethnic mudslinging and has just sent me a link to the concrete proof of one man's complete and total lack of any brain cells whatsoever. Click here to feel the shame that so obviously eludes that subject of the piece; I'll let this one speak for itself, but I do strongly urge you to watch the video clip that follows the text article. I'm curious to see if the business' sales will drop off as a result of this coverage, but I doubt it...


Once again the Doctor blessed the day he stole his time machine.


One of the several books I'm reading at the moment is a comprehensive history and critical overview of the works of one Jack T. Chick, the guy behind those itty-bitty comics — better known as "Chick tracts" — meant to win souls to the way of Jesus, and when I finish reading it I promise a full review. Chick is way, way over the top with his fire-and-brimstone zeal and his tracts are usually examples of ludicrous dialogue that's unintentionally hilarious, but while I may disagree with his politics, both religious and not, I wholeheartedly believe that he's utterly sincere in what he's putting out there and I can't find fault with that sincerity (although I would like to kick him square in the batch for his rampaging homophobia). It may be bordering on madness, but I'm one hundred percent convinced that he's as serious as a heart attack.

But until I finish the book I'd like to steer you toward a dead-on and completely hilarious parody of the Jack T. Chick genre that combines Chick's "get right before it's too late" brand of preaching with the sinister, wiggly evil of the Elder Gods as envisioned by another florid writer, namely H.P. Lovecraft, creator of Cthulhu and a ton of other baleful, other-worldly nasties. I adore both Chick's and Lovecraft's work for their efforts in chronicling fearsome eventualities beyond the ken of man, so seeing the two collide head on is a joy to behold. Parodic genius Howard Hallis came up with WHO WILL BE EATEN FIRST?, a Chick-style tract distinguishable from the real thing only by its use of profanity and Lovecraft's concepts instead of the standard Christian scare-tactics propaganda, and I for one would love to have a copy of it to physically add to the overflowing shelves here in the Vault.

I won't give away the treats found within and will instead let the work speak for itself on the site where I discovered it, although I can't resist running the final page which mimics the format of the last section of the garden variety Chick tract to ridiculous perfection:

Who would have thought Lovecraft could be so intentionally funny? Certainly not me, and I've read a lot of his shit!