Saturday, June 8, 2013
THE SCREAMING COWBOY
to newsstands in my December 1951 birth month. Its cold winter’s
night cover is by the masterful Carl Barks, surely on every comics
reader’s list of the greatest comics creators of all time. I have
only read one story in this issue, but, as it turns out, it’s one
of my favorite Barks tales.
Untitled in this original presentation, “The Screaming Cowboy” is
ten pages of pure Barks hilarity. In an era when cowboys were the
kinds of entertainment, Donald Duck makes a small fortune writing
a song called “The Screaming Cowboy.” Here are a few lines of his
Oh, bury me that with my battered git-tar
A-screamin’ my heart out fer yew
To celebrate his success, Donald takes Huey, Dewey and Louie to a
ritzy winter resort in the ominously named Avalanche Valley. The
place is nigh-empty because of recent avalanches, but all Donald
focuses on is his song, which he finds on the jukebox in the lobby.
He puts in a nickel, his song commences and, immediately, another
avalanche gets underway.
There’s no natural reason for these avalanches, but the manager of
the resort tells the nephews about the Snow Hermit, a strange old
man who lives in the mountains. It is rumored the Hermit has been
starting these avalanches. However, when they get to the Hermit’s
cave, he’s not there.
The Hermit couldn’t stand hearing “The Screaming Cowboy” from the
resort jukebox, so he moved to another cave. He’s not causing the
avalanches. You have all the clues, my beloved readers, so I know
you know what does cause them.
Donald remains oblivious and self-centered throughout this story,
which makes it all the more hilarious. If I hadn’t been already
been laughing out loud as I read this wonder the first time, Barks’
conclusion and the punch line would have got me there.
As for the rest of the issue...
The inside front cover reprints the Donald Duck Sunday strip from
March 6, 1949. It’s written by Bob Karp with art by Al Taliaferro.
The Li'l Bad Wolf appears in a six-page tale with pencil art by Gil
A five-page Grandma Duck story is drawn by Frank McSavage.
“The Magic Spring” is a two-page text story starring Thumper from
the Bambi movie. Illustrations are by Al Hubbard.
More newspaper strip reprints follow the text story. A single-page
Mickey Mouse Sunday by Bill Walsh and artist Manuel Gonzales hails
from April 3, 1949.
There are four Donald Duck dailies by Karp and Taliaferro. Each of
them take up half-a-page of the issue and were originally published
in 1949 on February 18, February 26, August 8 and August 9.
Mickey Mouse stars in the six-page “The Shattered-Glass Mystery.”
It’s the first part of a four-part serial. Though the Grand Comics
Database isn't sure who drew this chapter, it tentatively gives Riley
Thompson the credit.
Another Donald Duck Sunday strip by Karp and Taliaferro closes out
this issue. It originally ran on December 11, 1949.
Dell certainly packed a lot of entertainment into this issue’s 36
pages. The indicia number is Vol. 12, No. 5.
Keep watching the bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth. When we run out of those, I’ll switch
over to another key month in my life.
I watched a couple movies this week. Before I get into the reviews
of these films, we pause for this announcement:
Age of Dinosaurs is a 2013 release from The Asylum, that mad movie
company that has made over 100 movies in the past fifteen years.
Many of these films fit squarely in my “love cheesy monster movies”
wheelhouse and this one is no exception. From the Internet Movie
Database, here’s a quick summary:
Using breakthrough flesh-regeneration technology, a biotech firm
creates a set of living dinosaurs. But when the creatures escape
their museum exhibit and terrorize Los Angeles, a former
firefighter must rescue his teenage daughter from the chaos brought
on by the Age of Dinosaurs.
Treat Williams is the former firefighter, Jillian Rose Reed is his
spunky daughter, and Ronny Cox is the billionaire who sets all the
prehistoric pandemonium into motion. The rich guy’s motives aren’t
evil. He thinks dinosaurs are cool and will help his corporation
raise the awareness and funds to use this technology to help folks
like him. Confined to a wheelchair, he’s able to walk because of
this research. Unfortunately, some of the people working for him
think in terms of acceptable losses as they cut corners.
I’ve always wanted to see a “dinosaurs loose in the big city” movie
and I hoped this one might be it. It’s not, as much of the mayhem
is confined to the corporation headquarters and a nearby shopping
mall. We do get some cool dinosaurs in the streets action and also
some pterodactyl in the sky stuff. Most of the action is indoors.
Still cool in places, but not as cool as I had hoped.
The movie’s big finish has the firefighter chasing the pterodactyl
who grabbed his daughter to the landmark Hollywood sign. That’s a
great concept, but the clumsiness of the large pterodactyl puppet
makes the battle unintentionally hilarious. On the other hand, we
still have dinosaurs loose in Los Angeles. There might well be a
sequel in our future.
Age of Dinosaurs has a good concept, some good acting and writing,
some cool monster mayhem. I enjoyed watching it. You might enjoy
it as well. Check it out.
I didn’t enjoy Black Scorpion II: Aftershock (1997). This sequel
didn’t even deliver the giggles of the original. It also had fewer
boobies, but that wasn’t a factor in my dislike. I’m just sharing
that information for those who might be interested in that measure
of a film’s quality or lack thereof.
Police detective Darcy Walker is on the force in Angel City, which
is basically Los Angeles. When little things like the law get in
the way of justice, she dons the fetish outfit of Black Scorpion to
stop crime and gleefully slaughter criminals. This time out, her
foes are the Prankster Gangster, a Joker wannabe, and Aftershock,
a scientist seeking vengeance for crimes against her. Those crimes
were instigated by the city’s crooked mayor and his thugs.
This movie is hard on the ears and eyes. It opens with a pair of
giggling masked criminals fleeing the scene. Using her super-car,
the Scorpion stops them. Then, for no reason I could discern, she
blows them and their car into little flaming pieces. I’m sort of
a believer in lethal force when necessary, but this event came not
even a little close to my standard for such.
This is a major problem with Black Scorpion II. It tries to go for
both the campiness of the Batman series of the 1960s and the more
grim super-heroics of the 1990s. The two sensibilities are a poor
fit and the movies suffers from it.
The Gangster Prankster is just pathetic. The bad acting hurts my
brain when I recall it. It’s almost acceptable when the so-called
heroine literally blows him to pieces. That’s comedy?
Aftershock looks like she could have stepped out of the pages of a
mediocre super-hero comic book of the era. When she has a change
of heart and sacrifices herself to save Angel City from the quake
she has initiated - after Darcy unmasks in front of her and tells
her she shares her pain - it may be the most unbelievable scene
in a movie filled with unbelievable scenes.
Bad acting, bad writing...yeah, I recommend you stay away from this
one. It’s heading for my garage sale as soon as I post this bloggy
thing. Definitely not a keeper.
The Black Scorpion movies were followed by a 22-episode TV series
that aired in 2001. Some friends tell me it’s even worse than the
movies, but I confess I’m tempted by any series that featured Adam
West and various Playboy playmates as villains. If I ever find a
really cheap price for the set, I might go for it.
I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella