Friday, September 12, 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 09/12/08

(This is a compiled repost of items culled from my soon-to-be-extinct subsidiary blog, 'Brief Window')

(Click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

1. ◀ This image is included in a small, charming gallery of
Alex Schomburg artwork
on view at
Golden Age Comic Book Stories
(follow link for more)

(Found via everlasting blort)

Illustrator Alex Schomburg, 'the Norman Rockwell of Comic Book covers and Sci-Fi art' created it in the early 1950's to be used as endpapers for the
Winston Science Fiction Series
of juvenile-lit novels.

See also:
- The Winston Science Fiction Cover Art Site

- The Official Estate of Alex Schomburg Site

2. "Hey Kids! F***ing Comics!": The Batman Snafu

Oh, how unfortunate...

Due to a wacky printing error, DC Comics announced that the entire run of Frank Miller's 'All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder' #10 they'd just shipped out to retailers last week should all be destroyed.

Follow the link to 'Wash Your Mouth Out With Batsoap' at Comic Book Resources for details on how obscenities in word balloons that were meant to be blacked out remained more-or-less visible.

Oh, Frank Miller, what ever shall we do with you?

So I wonder just how many of the 'offending' misprint books will actually be destroyed, and how many will sell for big bucks in a mad rush?

- - And how will it 'conveniently' affect the overall sales of the title in the future?

UPDATE, 9.15.08: At his blog, The Savage Critics, Brian Hibbs, owner of San Francisco's Comix Experience, explains a few ways in which this Bat-mess hurts comics retailers. (Via Journalista)

- And as long as I have you thinking unclean thoughts about the effing Batgirl, please allow me to direct you once again to
the Yvonne Craig 1968 'Batgirl: Too Torrid For Tots!' photo spread previously posted here.

3. A couple of notable DVD releases, as some classic exotic foreign cinema is made available here in the states - -

- Aki Kaurismäki's 'Proletariat Trilogy'

Being ever-watchful for impending coolness, I was very pleased to see that there's a new US-Region 1 DVD release coming that features several films by Finnish director
Aki Kaurismäki.

'Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy' box set will be released in September by Criterion's Eclipse imprint (their equivalent of an affordable 'budget' label) and will feature 3 films from
1986 - '90; 'Ariel', 'The Match Factory Girl ', and
'Shadows in Paradise'.

Like many folks here in the U.S., I discovered Kaurismäki's films back in 1989 when his first international 'hit',
'Leningrad Cowboys Go America' played here.

That rock & roll road trip comedy was aptly compared to the movies of American director
Jim Jarmusch, and it opened the doors for more Kaurismäki films to be shown in American art house theaters.

Over the years I've caught as many as I could, and have loved every one of his beautifully deadpan masterpieces that I've seen.

Kaurismaki releases to DVD in the U.S. have been shamefully spotty however, so it's nice to see something emerge that can eliminate (or forestall) the search for exotic and pricey imported DVDs and a suitable all-region DVD player.

(America can be so backward sometimes)

2002's 'The Man Without a Past' did decent business in this country and is available (and recommended), and his more recent chilled neo-noir
'Lights in the Dusk' can be found on disc here too, so maybe the situation is slowly changing, Kaurismaki-wise...


'War Of The Gargantuas' & 'Rodan'

Finally, 'War Of The Gargantuas' is available on DVD in the U.S.!

This excites me!
I may not be able to quote chapter and verse on the Toho Studios kaiju eiga oeuvre like some people I know, but I did grow up watching all the Japanese monster flicks, and 'Gargantuas' was always my favorite.

It looks like the folks at Classic Media are continuing their streak of 'getting it right' in these latest releases.

In this 2-disc set they've included the complete U.S. release and original Japanese versions of both 'War Of The Gargantuas' and 'Rodan', and have also included a new
full-length behind-the-scenes documentary, 'Bringing Godzilla Down To Size'.

You can click over to
SciFi Japan for more info and
LOTS of great photos.

For me, the Gargantuas movie always stood out.
It had action, it had pathos, and for a change it had monsters that weren't reptiles or amphibians.

It also had Russ Tamblyn, a few years after he'd been in
'West Side Story' and had played
'Tom Thumb' for George Pal.

Watching the film as an adult, I can't watch Tamblyn's performance without wondering if he was attempting to bring subtle nuances to the scientist character he played, or whether he was under the influence of something during production, or both.

'War Of The Gargantuas' also has a great musical score, and includes the infamous nightclub scene with a cameo from American actress Kipp Hamilton singing 'The Words Get Stuck In My Throat' (a song later to be covered by DEVO, in their early days).

Below, ▼ a 'music video' constructed from that scene and other clips from the movie...

I'm also happy to see that Rodan is finally getting some love with regard to a definitive DVD reissue as well.
It's long overdue.

I know as a kid, I could never quite get as excited by Rodan as the other Toho monsters.
Just not as threatening, or something - - ?
- - But in later films it was always nice to see him join in on the big smackdown team-ups.

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