Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I have owned the novelizations of 1960s monster movies Gorgo, Konga and Reptilicus for well over a decade and never read them. However, since I’ll be doing a G-Fest panel on all three of those films and their comic books and their novelizations, I figured I’d best get to reading the novels.

Gorgo by Carson Bingham [Monarch Books; 1960] was published in July 1960, several months before the March 1961 release of the movie in the United States. The Charlton comics adaptation of the movie was also published in that month. “Carson Bingham” was one of several pseudonyms used by prolific fiction and non-fiction author Bruce Cassiday.

The novelization is solid pulp writing and sticks pretty close to the movie. All the same, there are key difference between the two and the novelization is richer for it. Be advised that there will definitely be


The book reveals the backgrounds of salvage ship partners Joe Ryan and Sam Slade. Ryan is a pretty vicious guy whose behavior towards women and most other people probably qualifies him to be a member of the Dumpster President’s inner circle. Slade has issues, but he is shown to be fighting his demons from early on in the novel. Well before the greedy Ryan realizes capturing a prehistoric monster and putting it on display might not have been the best choice, Slade is having considerable doubts about it. The movie Ryan and Slade are nicer than their novelization counterparts, though Ryan’s greed is evident in both.

The book changes the relationship between the shady harbor master McCartin and the young boy Sean. The lad is McCartin’s son from his contentious marriage. Sean’s mother left her husband years earlier, but McCartin would not let her take their children from poor doomed Nara Island.

Children? The book adds Moira McCartin, Sean’s adult sister and the woman Slade falls in love with. There are some steamy (but only by 1960 standards) sex scenes between Moira and Sam, as well as some serious bumps in their romantic road. Both McCartin siblings want to see Gorgo released and returned to the sea.

Beyond that, the novel follows the movie closely. The prose format allows more detail on the rampages of the creatures and also on the thinking of the authorities who try to destroy them. The novel is only 135 pages, but it never seems lacking or rushed. If you’ve been hoping to find a copy of this book and read it, you  will be relieved to know the


Here are my final comments on the novel:

I liked it a lot. If any publisher can ever untangle what must be the convoluted ownership rights of this novel, they would do well to reprint it in a better format than this mass market paperback. I’d buy at least one copy of a high-quality reprint.

I’m also watching each of the three movies as I finish reading the novelization. Gorgo remains a very entertaining movie that I love as much as an adult as I did as a kid.


Alas, I came too late to the Justice League/General Mills cereals  promotion to collect all four of the 6" by 4" original comic books included in specially marked boxes of those cereals. I reviewed one of the comic books a while back, but have only found one more since I became aware of their existence.

General Mills Presents Justice League: Alien Justice is a 22-page tale by writer Tony Bedard with penciller Tom Grummett, inker Keith Champagne and colorist Sotocolor. Wes Abbott is the letterer. John McCrea (artist) and Mike Spicer (colorist) did the cover.

The people of an alien planet with barely any water comes to Earth to take a good portion of our water. Their reasoning is that this is a crime against nature that demands justice. The “B” story has a young Aquaman learning how to see things through the eyes of his enemies and thus breach cultural differences. It’s very “Afternoon Special” in its approach.


While the story is certainly competently written and drawn, it left me baffled. The cultural difference our world had with these water-stealing aliens is that, by the culture of the aliens, they could take our water. It’s nice that Aquaman and our world brokered some deal whereby a bunch of our scientists would go to the alien world and help them find solutions to their water problems, but it would have been nicer if the aliens admitted that their attempt theft of another world’s water was, you know, wrong.


Afternoon specials may not be DC’s forte, at least not as presented in cereal boxes.


Having enjoyed general editor Steven Jay Schneider’s pocket-sized  101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die, I was quick to read 101 Action Movies You Must See Before You Die [Barron’s; $14.99]. Published in 2010, but still available from Amazon and other book vendors, the 416-page volume discusses movies from The Great Train Robbery (1903) to Avatar (2009). Like the horror volume, this book reminded me of movies I have enjoyed and suggested movies I would like to see. This one’s a keeper, partly because I love books of lists and partly because I hope to live long enough to see all the movies again or for the first time.

Somewhere in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff, I also have 101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die. That’s another 101 reasons for me to live long and prosper.

ISBN 978-0764163500


Based on the films of Christopher R. Mihm, Canoe Cops vs. the Mummy by Stephen D. Sullivan [Walkabout Publishing; $11.95] is huge fun. Mihm makes these retro-style horror and sci-fi moves that look like they might be lost films from the 1950s. I’ve become a fan of his mania and am working my way through all his movies.

Sullivan is a prolific author whose written more than fifty books as well as comic books and games. He won a prestigious 2016 Scribe Award for his adaptation of cult classic Manos: The Hands of Fate. He’s also an online pal of mine, which I mention because I try to do full disclosure around here.

Some Mihm films feature a police force known as the Canoe Cops, who protect and serve the waters that border Phantom Lake, a small town in Wisconsin. In yet another Mihm movie, a drive-in movie marquee advertised a fictitious movie called...you guessed it...Canoe Cops vs. the Mummy. Inspiration struck Sullivan, the result being this hilarious and yet still exciting novel.

Sullivan has chapters narrated by various characters, including a hapless pair of truck drivers who might remind you of a certain Bud and Lou of comedy renown. It’s got the chills of a good mummy movie and a sense of growing peril. I really want Mihm to make this film. For now, I’ll recommend the novel to you. Because the pursuit of fun is something we really need these days.

ISBN 9781537557373

One more for the road. The Confounding Case of the Comic Collector Killer by J. Ballmann [Totalmojo Productions; $14.95] is what was once known as faan fiction aka fiction starring comics or science fiction fans. And the best way I can describe this particular novel to you is by sharing its back cover come-on:

“The Comic Collector Killer? Wait. Does that mean the killer collects comics - or that he kills comic collectors -- or both?!”

So asks exasperated FBI Director Lee Hirschel when a serial killer begins murdering big-name comic book collectors.

After the world’s top Spider-Man fan dies a little too coincidentally from a spider bite and Comicdom’s best-known Sub-Mariner expert just happens to drown mysteriously - not to mention a Human Torch collector burning to death - the FBI is forced to admit it is out of its league and must enlist the aid of a certain Peter Plippton, a.k.a., Dr. Marvel - the greatest Marvel comics expert on the planet.

For it is only Dr. Marvel who knows the deepest secrets of the Marvel Universe. It is only he, Dr. Marvel, who knows such facts as the real true first full appearance of Mary Jane Watson, the cryptic origins of the 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume, and the cult-like mysteries surrounding the early formation of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. But can even he, the awe-inspiring Dr. Marvel, unravel all the confounding comic-related conundrums to this case and stop the killer before another comic collector dies?

I’m not going to claim that Ballmann’s prose lies liltingly on the page. There are long passages of Dr. Marvel pontificating on Marvel trivia. There are encounters with rude fans and retailers that made my eyes roll. There is a lot of wish-fulfillment in the writing of the book, not unlike the “Mary Sue” tales so common in fan fiction. But, if you can forgive the myriad sins of Ballmann’s writing, this novel is good goofy fun.  And you already know my position of fun in these troubled times of ours.

ISBN 978-0-9963930-03-3

Thanks for stopping by the bloggy today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” See you then.  

© 2017 Tony Isabella


  1. Thanks for this post, Tony! Gorgo was one of my favorite movies as a kid and remains so today. I never knew there was a novelization. Now I'll have to haunt the used bookstores and websites to pick up a copy.

  2. Glad you liked the book, Tony! Maybe I'll make it to G-Fest some day. What days are you there, this year? (It's not too far from my home.) Also, I think the Gorgo novelization is available for Kindle -- though it's not true kindle format, which makes the reading harder.

    Reptilicus is on Kindle, too, I think.