Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (in a nice, kid-safe way!)

He's the Jolly Old Elf in a red suit!
They are BIG Green Men from Mars with an even BIGGER robot!
Before Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, they were the ingredients for the weirdest Christmas movie ever!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was filmed in 1964 in that bastion of the cinema, Long Island (in an unused aircraft hangar).
Starring a host of tv and b-movie actors including handsome-but-stiff Leonard Hicks as the Martian Leader (and kids' father) Kimar, villain/voiceover artist Vincent Beck (who did lots of work for Irwin Allen's 1960s sci-fi shows) as the film's mustache-twirling villain, Voldar, and John Call as a pretty damn convincing Santa Claus.
The flick is touted as the debut of future talentless chantuse Pia Zadora as Martian kid Girmar.  (Thankfully, she has rather limited screen time.)

As an example of low-budget filmmaking, it's actually pretty effective.
Every penny (what few of them they had) is up on the screen.
There's lots of stock footage (from Dr. Strangelove, no less).
And the use of the then-popular Wham-O Air Blaster toy guns as Martian weapons was either a stroke of marketing genius or clever use of limited funds.  Either way, sales of the guns shot thru the roof after the film hit the kiddie matinee circuit!

If you're between 3-9 years old, the flick's a lot of fun.
If you're between 10 and whatever the local drinking age is, it'll drive you nuts, especially the theme song!
If you're over the local drinking age, do so before watching! The flick is available on a host of public domain dvds as well as one of the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 snarkfests (see below).

And you just knew we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ were going to include Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in our Cool Christmas collection on stuff including kid and adult sweatshirts and hoodies, mugs and coasters, tree ornaments, stockings, and greeting cards!
BTW: The image is from the comic book tie-in. There was also a 45 single of the theme, a spoken-word LP album of the movie's dialogue, and a novelization!
Now I can't get that frackin' theme out of my head..."Hoo-ray for Santy Claus..." AARRRGGGHHH!
If they sing that damn theme song...AGAIN, you're dead!
FREE early Christmas gift from us to you: a link to a download of the film in various formats!
EXTRA free early Christmas gift from us to you: a link to an on-line reprint of the comic book adaptation of the film!
EXTRA, EXTRA free early Christmas gift from us to you: the long-lost trailer for the film (at least they don't sing the theme song)...

Monday, November 29, 2010

"The Gifts are Afoot, Watson!"

OK, it's a silly paraphrase of a classic line, but we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ take our Sherlockania VERY seriously...
As part of our Crime & Punishment™ collection, we've given The Greatest Sleuth of All™ his very own section!
12 different designs, including several with Basil Rathbone, the man who is to Sherlock Holmes as Sean Connery is to James Bond, not the first, but to many (including myself), the definitive portrayer!
Add to that, several classic comic book covers, a variety of other movie posters (including the campy A Study in Terror with Holmes as "The ORIGINAL Caped Crusader"!), the coolest cigar box art I've ever seen (based on William Gillette), and 1st Edition covers from A Study in Scarlet & His Last Bow!
If you're looking for a cool Christmas gift for the Holmesian, Sherlockian, or Baker Street Irregular in your life, you can't go wrong with one of these mugs, bags, shirts, 12-month calendars, or other goodies, perhaps with one of the books or dvds below in a dazzlingly-deductive gift set!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Crime Time at Christmas Time!

Ah, Christmas.
What do we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ think of?
Peace on Earth!
Good Will towards Men!
25-to-Life at Sing-Sing!
Yep, you heard right!
For a subject-specific gift for the lawyer, or other legal professional in your life, the crew at Atomic Kommie Comics™ suggests you have a look at the Daring District Attorneys and other Legal Eagles section of our Crime & Punishment™ collection, featuring the long-running radio/tv character Mr. District Attorney!
Inspired by the racket-busting exploits of New York City DA Thomas E. Dewey (who later became New York's Governor), law student-turned radio writer Ed Byron created a nameless "everyman" DA who maintained law and order in an unnamed Big City (implied to be NYC).
The stories, while rarely based on actual cases (like rival show GangBusters) followed actual legal procedures to the letter, even introducing CSI-style "lab boys" to analyze evidence and present testimony during courtroom sequences!
A couple of kool trivia items:
The narrator was known as "The Voice of the Law" who defined both the DA's case at the beginning of the episode and pronounced the criminal's sentence at the end of the show. (A conceit picked up by rival radio / tv show Dragnet!)
Though several actors played Mr. District Attorney, the DA's secretary, Edith Miller, was played by the same actress, Vicki Vola, for the entire run of the show both on radio and tv (1939-1953)!

There were also several b-movies, which took the name, but little else, from the radio series.
The comic book series, from which we draw our imagery, was packaged by the Bob Kane comic book studio. Bob Kane was the co-creator (with Bill Finger) of the most famous fictional detective of the 20th and 21st Century--The Batman!
We offer five different classic comic book crime-busting covers as well as his distinctive logo on items ranging from mugs to mousepads to t-shirts, as well as a kool 2011 12-Month Calendar!
And, if attorneys aren't your thing, the
Crime & Punishment™ collection also has Movie Spies & Secret Agents, Newspapermen (& Women) Against Crime, Real Life Criminals, Police--the REAL Heroes!, Sherlock Holmes, Top Secret--Images without Words, All-True Detective Cases, Crimes by Women, Gangsters, Private Dicks, and G-Men T-Men & Spies!
Use them responsibly this Yuletide season, citizens!

BONUS: A FREE Christmas present, to you, our faithful readers: mp3s of the Mr District Attorney radio show!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Santa's Elves on Strike!

Well, the Christmas shopping season is more-or-less underway, so we are going to offer you an almost-daily guide to reasonably-priced pop culture collectibles that would make great gifts for the hard-to-please person in your life from now thru Christmas Eve!*

First off...
You think the economic situation is bad now?
Go back 72 years ago, to November 1938 and see...elves were picketing Santa's WorkShop for better pay!
(The cover is dated January, 1939. But it was actually on sale in November, 1938! Publishers used to cover-date comics and pulps two to three months ahead of the actual on-sale date to keep the books on the stands for as long as possible!)
In this case, we proudly present one of our Christmas in the Comics line from our Cool Christmas collection: nine different digitally-remastered comic covers featuring classic characters celebrating Christmas, including The Green Lama, two different SuperSnipe covers, Edison Bell: Boy Inventor, and The Lone Ranger, as well as two long-out-of-print versions of Santa Claus, and a 3-D comic!
Available on a multitude of memorabilia including greeting cards, mugs, hoodies, and other goodies, these pop-art collectibles are NOT available in any brick-and-mortar stores, only on-line thru us!
And don't forget our Santa Claus--the Man Himself, A Christmas Carol starring Scrooge, the Hardly-Abominable SnowMan, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians lines!
There's something for everyone under the tree at
Atomic Kommie Comics™!

* Note: We will have the occasional interruption for Video Fridays or other such entry.
Old habits die hard...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Video Fridays: THE GREEN HORNET in "Secret of the Sally Bell"

Continuing our weekly feature "Video Fridays"...
The only person who knows where a shipment of illegal drugs is hidden on a salvaged freighter is accidentally rendered comatose before he can tell The Green Hornet and Kato.
They take him to a nearby hospital for treatment, but, after they leave, the man's associates kidnap him...and the attending doctor.
Now our dynamic duo have to a) rescue the doctor, b) keep the comatose guy alive, and c) stop the criminals from acquiring the drugs.
It's cross and double-cross as The Hornet allies himself with the crooks to accomplish his own goals.
But the gangsters have no intention of keeping their side of the deal, either...
Side notes:
For the first time, we see the Black Beauty operated by remote control, including maneuvering and firing it's front-mounted rockets at a sniper trying to kill The Hornet and Kato.
One of the running gags on both Batman and The Green Hornet was showing characters on one series watching the other series on tv! In this ep, the crooks are watching Batman when it's interrupted by a news bulletin about The Green Hornet leaving a wounded man (their drug contact) at a hospital.
More location shooting, this time at a commercial Los Angeles shipyard seen in a number of films and tv series, most notably Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
Here's the 13th filmed and aired episode..."Secret of the Sally Bell".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Have no fear! The Fans of Bronze are HERE!"

He would help those who need help.
And now one of his illustrators needs help...
Terry Allan has been helping out Doc Savage/Marvel Comics/sci-fi & fantasy cover artist Bob Larkin the past couple of years doing exclusive projects trying to help Bob raise much needed cash.
Bob’s wife Fran is suffering from brain cancer and the resulting surgeries has left her less than 100%. As a result, Bob is now her full-time caregiver and has had to cut back his workload to care for her.
Terry's been pulling together professionals for all over to sign books with all profits going to help the Larkin’s cover the long-term costs of medications and co-pays that insurance doesn’t cover.
Among the items available...
Larkin's Bantam Doubles/Ominibus covers presented the way they should have been!
14 11x17" prints composited from the original art with the classic Bantam paperback cover design / trade dress! Comes in an embossed portfolio. 
The first commercial release of the series, is remixed, remasted and restored to full stereo.
(Far superior to the internet downloads!)
PLUS: A new documentary with behind-the-scenes interviews!
AND: A limited-edition 12 x 13 litho of the cover art only thru Fantom Press!
There's lots more, including original art, lithos (like the one at top), and signed Doc Savage books and comics.
All profits go to help Bob Larkin.
Here's your chance to both help one of the greats of the sci-fi/fantasy genre AND acquire some kool kollectibles for yourself, or as Christmas presents for the SavageFan in your life!

Please repost these links where ever you can. The more who know, the better.

Let the cry ring out..."Have no fear! The Fans of Bronze are HERE!"
And they're here to help!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Video Fridays: THE GREEN HORNET in "Deadline for Death"

Continuing our weekly feature "Video Fridays"...
A series of robberies of wealthy homes has one thing in common...all the victims had recently been profiled by Daily Sentinel reporter Mike Axford!
Has he used his interviews to case the homes?
When Axford is arrested at the site of the latest break-in, The Green Hornet and Kato must uncover evidence to free the hapless newshound.
The Green Hornet has his first solo fight scene...which he loses! (To be fair, it is against three guys.) When he and Kato catch up to the three crooks in the finale, guess who wins?
Seeking info, The Hornet questions a stolen-goods fence named Tubbs, indicating that he's been allowing the fence to continue operating as long as he served The Hornet when needed. A nice touch, adding credibility to the crimefighter's cover as a criminal.
Later, there's a scene at Reid's home where the duo, in costume, but without masks or hats, review evidence. This happens several times in the series. (You never saw Batman and Robin partially in costume)
More location shooting, this time at a small local airport and aircraft hanger also used in several Batman episodes.
Much more day-for-night photography.
Here's the 12th filmed and aired episode..."Deadline for Death".

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Either naughty OR nice at Christmastime? We have a grrrl for you!

One of the most notorious Golden Age characters, Phantom Lady was also one of the first costumed superheroines, beating out Wonder Woman (who debuted in All-Star Comics #8) in 1941 by several months!

Like a number of 1940s comics characters, she was created by an independent comic book studio for an established publisher, in this case, Quality Comics, debuting in Police Comics #1 which also featured the first appearances of Plastic Man, FireBrand, and The Human Bomb.
After a year, her strip was canceled by Quality, and the character was offered to Fox Comics, where she was promoted to her own comic, which started with #13, since it took over the numbering of an already existing title.
Her costume was recolored and modified by legendary "good girl" artist Matt Baker to expose more of her (ahem) assets and a number of covers featured her being captured and tied up by evildoers.
It is this version which became notorious by becoming one of the primary examples in Dr. Fredric Wertham's crusade against comics detailed in his book Seduction of the Innocent.
Believing that both the "naughty" and "nice' versions of the character have a place in pop culture history, Atomic Kommie Comics™ has included the classic superheroine in not one, but two different sections of our store!
In the Heroines!™ collection, we have the G-rated "empowered" version, kicking evil butts right and left!
And, in Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™, we have the PG-13, more risque version, including the famous cover (above) included in Dr. Wertham's book!
She's also featured in her own 12-Month calendar as well as on both our Heroines and Good Girl / Bad Grrrl Calendars!

If you're looking for classy, yet kitchy, holiday presents, you can't go wrong with our selection of Phantom Lady goodies for the pop culture / comics aficionado in your life, especially combined with one of the items below as a gift set!
Let him (or her) unwrap Phantom Lady this Christmas!
They'll thank you for it! ;-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Video Fridays: THE GREEN HORNET in "The Hunters and the Hunted"

Continuing our weekly feature "Video Fridays"...
The opening narration to the Hornet's radio show was "The Green Hornet; he hunts the biggest of all game..."
In this tv episode, the tables are turned.
Wealthy (and crooked) businessman Quentin Crane and his fellow members of the exclusive Explorers' Club use exotic weaponry (like blowguns and crossbows) to hunt and kill gang leaders.
Ironically, the other members are well-intentioned innocents who believe their "hunts" will end crime in the city, while Crane is using them to eliminate competition as he takes over, one gang at a time!
And...the group's next targets are...The Green Hornet and his masked associate!
When Crane's gangsters break into Reid's home intending to kill him, Kato (with Reid's aid) take them down. It's the second time we see Kato in action sans costume, and the first time in the series we see an unmasked Reid in a fight.
Speaking of which, I wonder what do Reid's neighbors think of the constant hubub at the young publisher's townhouse? If it's not a robbery where a police car gets blown up by a laser beam ("The Ray is for Killing"), or gunshots ("Beautiful Dreamer"), this episode features the first of several brawls. Not to mention the sinister black car constantly prowling the alleys at all hours... Those neighborhood association meetings must have been interesting! (At least the tv Batman's oft-invaded stately Wayne Manor was out in the country. No neighbors to disturb!)

Another thing, the criminals who raid Reid's house are the same baddies he and Kato KOed (while in costume) at a gang-leader's office earlier in the episode. We don't see them again. Rather than let the twice-trashed hoods put 2+2 together ("That little guy who helped Reid fights like the Hornet's driver...Hey wait a sec..."), I wonder if Britt and Kato discreetly "disposed" of them?
There's a LOT of day-for-night scenes here. Depending on the quality of the episode's print, I've seen it almost as bright as day, to barely able to make out silhouettes.
Here's the 11th filmed and aired episode..."The Hunters and the Hunted"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CosmoCat & SuperDuper Mouse

When you think of Atomic Kommie Comics™, you don't usually think of funny animals.
Well, it's time you did...
We're reintroducing two more long-lost superheroes from the 1940s. We've done that many times before in our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line.
This time, there's a twist...
They're funny animals, and they're for kids only!
Cosmo Cat, like many other superheroes, was created by an accident that would kill most normal people (or animals).
In his case it was dropping a bomb on his foot.
The fact that he was standing in an atomic power plant at the time might have had something to do with his survival. (Scientific accuracy was not one of the strong points of Golden Age stories...)
After gaining the usual super-powers of invulnerability (which all animated animal characters have to an extent, Ask Wile E. Coyote!) super-strength, and flight, he renewed his powers by taking Cosmic Catnip Capsules!
Despite having the power of flight, he rode in a cat-rocket when traveling from his base on the Moon to battle crime on Earth.
He was one of the last of a wave of 1940s super-animals including Super Rabbit (ironically from Timely/Marvel) and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, the animal surrogate of the Golden Age Captain Marvel.

We're also offering the FIRST of that wave...Super Mouse (although we're calling him "SuperDuper Mouse" to avoid wrath of the owners of the Big Man in Blue! (and, no, Super Mouse was not a DC character!)
Super Mouse also took a controlled substance to maintain his powers; in his case cheese produced from the milk of a "super-cow"! (We won't dwell on the implications of chemical/radiation-enhanced animals, at least not while chewing on our genetically-manipulated cheeseburger...)

At any rate, we're offering several images of each furry hero (plus SuperDuper Cat and other funny animals) at Tykes, Toddlers & Tiny Tots™.
Please note: while we offer the usual assortment of mugs, mousepads and other tchochkies, the clothing is infant, toddler, and kid sizes only!
And, they make great Christmas gifts (hint, hint)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Video Fridays: THE GREEN HORNET in "The Preying Mantis"

Continuing our weekly feature "Video Fridays"...
The spotlight is on Kato, as he and The Green Hornet battle a normally-benevolent Chinese secret society whose younger members are extorting "protection" money from helpless Chinatown business owners.
In addition, the society (or "tong") is being secretly manipulated by white gangsters using one of the tong members, Low Sing, as a cats-paw.
The Hornet wants to end the protection racket by removing Low Sing from his position of power by exposing the gangsters' influence on him.
Side Notes: When people mention The Green Hornet tv series, this is the episode they usually refer to. It was the featured episode (due to it's emphasis on Chinese martial arts) in a compilation movie released theatrically shortly after Bruce Lee died.
This is the ep for Bruce Lee fans as he finally gets to strut his stuff in solo combat against multiple foes! Lee choreographed the fights, including the one-on-one finale with Low Sing. Rumor has it that most of the tong members participating in the climactic fight scene were students from Lee's dojo.
It's the only episode where Kato is defeated in hand-to-hand combat as a masked Low Sing attacks him from behind early in the ep.
Besides blasting a door and a tommy-gun with it, The Hornet uses the Hornet Sting extended to full-length as a fighting staff several times in this episode.
There are things in this ep that beg the question; what's Kato's ethnicity in the tv series? On the radio show he's said to be "Oriental", which became Filipino after World War II began. In the two 1940s movie serials, he was Korean. In the 1980s comic and the current "graphic novels", he's Japanese. In this episode, he's familiar with Chinatown and many of it's residents, especially the lovely Mary Chang. He speaks Chinese, and translates conversations between tong members for the Hornet's benefit. Plus, he's well aware of social conventions and procedures of the tong itself. Of course, he's well-versed in the Chinese martial art of gung-fu. Is he Chinese? It's never specifically stated.
Curiously, at the end of the episode, when Britt Reid, Lenore Case, Mike Axford and the previously-blackmailed businessmen celebrate over dinner at one of the businessmen's restaurant, Kato is nowhere to be seen!
Weird Trivia: the toy company that resurrected the 1960s Captain Action action figure line 10 years ago with both a reissued Green Hornet costume and a never-before done Kato costume was called "Playing Mantis"!
Here's the tenth episode produced and aired; "The Preying Mantis".

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Doctor is IN...and he's STRANGE!

Initially called "Doctor Strange" scientist Hugo Strange became a superhero in Thrilling Comics #1 by ingesting a substance he created called Alosun, obtained by distilling the atoms of the Sun, which gave him super-strength and near-invulnerability.
He couldn't actually fly, but could leap great distances like the Hulk and the Golden Age Superman.
Like his inspiration, pulp hero Doc Savage, he initially wore a standard business suit, which would become shredded during the course of that issue's adventure,
But within several months, this became dark jodhpurs, riding boots, and a red safari shirt, which quickly became a faster-to-draw red t-shirt.
Again, like Doc Savage, he didn't have a secret identity, so there was no need for a mask, but Strange did have an unusually-large pompadour to give him obvious visual distinction.
When kid sidekicks became a trend, Doc introduced Mike, who wore a similar outfit. Reports conflict as to whether Mike received Alsoun or not, and since the Thrilling Comics I've scanned are all slabbed, I have no way of confirming if Mike was super-powered or not.
While he never received his own title, Doc not only ran in Thrilling Comics, but as one of the features in the anthology America's Best Comics, where the covers showed him interacting with other Nedor Comics heroes like The Black Terror and Fighting Yank. (Though inside, the heroes all had separate strips and didn't work together!)
Doc retained the Thrilling Comics cover spot for most of his run, only losing it for two months to the patriotic American Crusader, before regaining it until #60, when a jungle heroine named Princess Pantha replaced him. (Ironically, his final cover on issue #59 showed him rescuing a jungle girl, but not, as reported, Princess Pantha!). Doc stayed as a backup until #65, when he disappeared.

But you can't keep a good hero down.
In the 1990s, Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing) revived Doc as one of the Terra Obscura heroes in his Tom Strong series. (He had already used Doc as the visual template for the Tom Strong character.)
Working off the Earth-One/Earth-Two alternate-Earth concept made popular at DC Comics, Alan remade Doc Strange into Tom Strange (changing his name from "Hugo Strange" to "Thomas Hugo Strange" and making him into a Golden Age variation of Tom Strong!)
The concept proved popular enough that a spin-off book entitled Terra Obscura, starring Tom Strange and his new crime-fighting companion/wife, Princess Pantha (who had replaced Doc in Thrilling Comics!) ran for 12 issues!
Doc has also appeared in Alex Ross' Project SuperPowers series, though simply called "Doc", to avoid confusion (and potential trademark conflict) with Marvel's Doctor Strange.
We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have also revived Doc as part of our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line!
There are four classic covers (including his FIRST appearance) on a variety of collectibles including t-shirt, mugs, messenger bags, and other cool stuff as well as a Classic Doc Strange 2010 12-Month Calendar with a dozen different covers including his first and last!
Any of them would make great Christmas gifts, especially in conjunction with the trade paperbacks of the Project SuperPowers Golden Age revival series or Terra Obscura! (Hint, hint!)
The Doctor is in, and he's ready for action!