An Artist’s Artist : The 1952 FANTASTIC pulp covers of Barye Philips

There is little written about the pulp cover artist Barye Phillips, no books dedicated to his work or his deft watery and fluid style, which is something of a shame considering he was known as “King of the Paperbacks” by his industry. His work marries a sleek sensuality with elements of the surreal and sinister to make for some of the standout covers of the pulp era.

Here are two of his covers used to launch the long running FANTASTIC pulp title. He only did two issues of this weird fiction pulp, and they stand as not just the best covers done for FANTASTIC but among the best and most striking of the medium and of Phillip’s work. His issue #3 cover art being noteworthy for being one of the earliest examples of a wraparound cover.

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Sites where you can view additional Barye Phillips work:

http://www.pulpinternational.com/pulp/keyword/Barye+Phillips.html

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/barye-phillips

http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/triv277.html

Slims vs Comic Books! Diamond Preorders for books shipping July 2014!

The internet has made buying anything, a process far easier than I think we truly grasp. The technological leaps ahead that we have done in a few scant decades, taken for granted, underplayed and underacknowledged by a population seeking to numb itself from its horrors, by conversely meeting with jaded cynicism its wonders.

Reading is likewise much changed in the age of the atom.

This post particularly, concerns itself with reading slims (my name for the product hard-headedly referred to as a comic-book. Hardheadedly because it is neither typically humorous or a book).

The term ‘Slim’ poises it correctly as something periodic and sleek and a bit sexy and just as well suited for grownups as Dvds or books or paintings.

Today’s recommended Slims are:

Slims suffer from a bit of a distribution issue. For the most part you are not going to find them in the spinner racks of convenience stores any longer, nor in the big box superstores of say a Target or Walmart. So while Graphic Novels have never been more popular or influential in our society, the serialzed, periodic form of the Graphic Novel, the Slim, suffers from a visibity issue. They are hidden away for the most part in niche stores, called “direct market comic stores” that our misnomers that will not attract anyone but those already in the know, or nostalgia seekers.

It is an insular inbred model that does not shine its light beyond its own living room, and as such is not new reader friendly. Which is a shame, because as someone who has grown up with this oddest of hobbies and artforms, here in 2014 the width and breadth of story and art of the medium has never been better.

From scifi to mystery to historical drama to horror to humor to instructional to spy thriller, you name a genre and there is a writer, artist producing great work in this medium of Slims, of graphic literature.

That said there is, as in any medium, a lot of garbage out there, particularly in the most visible genre of Slims… the Superhero comic. A genre hampered by monopolistic collusion to the point the very term Super-hero has been jointly trademarked by the colluding companies of Marvel and DC. An idiotic trademark, attempting to own a term as much a part of the cultural venacular as God or myth or justice. But it is the choices of fawning to uncreative monopolistic interests that results in flooding the medium with a lot of noise, a lot of bad books.

The rising popularity of digital gives new options to find books, which is a great thing, however it also increases the odds that the books you come across will be bad, will be the noise rather than the signal.

And with Slims being $2.99 at best and $3.99 on the worse end, you can’t afford to experiment at this price point. This is no longer the day of 25cent comics, so each purchase of $2.99 or $3.99 has to justify itself. The $2.99 or $3.99 has to earn its value against a world rife with options from gaming to streaming to dvds to itunes to traditional books.

Which is why preordering is a pretty fantastic idea. Diamond is the monopoly that distributes Slims. Retailers order from them two months in advance. Customers like you and I preorder from Retailers. The benefit of preordering from your retailer… discounts of typically 35% to 40% off!!! WooHoo! Sign me up! :).

Now that said, that discount only means something if you’re ordering a great book. For a crappy book even getting 99% off is not reason enough to get the book.

So the following are books you can order by the end of May, at a discount, for July shipping. I’ve done the homework for you! :)

MAY140044
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1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 MIND MGMT #1 (O/A)*
MAY140047
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1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 STAR WARS (O/A) (C: 1-0-0)*
MAY140048
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1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*1 FOR $1 THE MASSIVE #1 (O/A)*
MAY140050
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1 @ $0.60 = $0.60*GOON OCCASION OF REVENGE #1 (OF 8) *Special Discount*
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1 @ $1.75 = $1.75*GHOST #6*
MAY140062
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*GREAT PACIFIC #18 (MR)*
MAY140707
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*MANIFEST DESTINY #8*
MAY140712
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*MERCENARY SEA #6*
MAY140713
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #2 (MR)*
MAY140719
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*REVIVAL #22 (MR)*
MAY140723
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*SAGA #21 (MR)*
MAY140726
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*STAR WARS #19 2013 ONGOING (C: 1-0-0)*
MAY140085
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*WALKING DEAD #129 (MR)*
MAY140744
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1 @ $1.79 = $1.79*SIMPSONS COMICS #213*
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1 @ $1.94 = $1.94*LOW #1 (MR) *Special Discount*
MAY140566
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1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*RAGNAROK #1 *Special Discount*
MAY140444
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1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*USAGI YOJIMBO COLOR SPECIAL ARTIST ONE-SHOT *Special
Discount*
MAY140055
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1 @ $1.99 = $1.99*TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #87 (MR)*
MAY141233
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1 @ $2.07 = $2.07*BLACK SCIENCE #7 (MR)*
MAY140696
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*LAZARUS #10 (MR)*
MAY140709
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*MANHATTAN PROJECTS #22*
MAY140711
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*MASSIVE #25*
MAY140071
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*SKULLKICKERS #29*
MAY140730
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*SOUTHERN BASTARDS #4 (MR)*
MAY140731
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*STRAY BULLETS THE KILLERS #5 (MR)*
MAY140734
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1 @ $2.10 = $2.10*HALLOWEEN EVE ONE SHOT CVR A (O/A)*
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1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*MIGHTY AVENGERS #12*
MAY140795
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1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*MIND MGMT #24*
MAY140070
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1 @ $2.39 = $2.39*BEAUTIFUL WAR #2*
MAY140447
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1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*CALIBAN #4 WRAP CVR (MR)*
MAY141073
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1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*SIMPSONS ILLUSTRATED #12*
MAY141129
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1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*WEIRD LOVE #2*
MAY140541
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1 @ $2.59 = $2.59*ENORMOUS #2 CVR A CHEGGOUR*
MAY141626
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1 @ $2.79 = $2.79*TUKI SAVE THE HUMANS #1*
MAY141240
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1 @ $2.79 = $2.79*BLACK KISS 2 XXXMAS IN JULY SPECIAL ONE SHOT (MR) (C:
1-0-0)*
MAY140601
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Go here to order : http://www.dcbservice.com/
Tell em HT sent ya!

Netflix Streaming MOVIE OF THE DAY : THE WILD GEESE [1978]


Netflix Streaming MOVIE OF THE DAY : THE WILD GEESE [1978]

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Directed capably, if unexceptionally, by Andrew V. McLaglen, what elevates this tale of aging mercenaries and an off the book mission, is a surprisingly incisive script, that includes three or four exchanges, about Africa, and colonialism, and war, and ethnic cleansing, and bigotry and apartheid, that still resonate today.

Based on a novel by Daniel Carney, the exceptional screenplay is by Reginald Rose of 12 ANGRY MEN fame and involves the rescue of a deposed African president called Limbani (loosely based on the real life Lumumba). Add to that a stellar cast that includes Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Stewart Granger and a host of great British character actors, and you have a movie that exceeds expectations. Strongly Recommended. Grade: B+.

The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

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These four films, which did not get theatrical releases, are far better than the vast majority of films that do reach the theaters. Disappointing films such as DEAD MAN DOWN and SPRING BREAKERS get screen time, when visually and thematically superior films such as Tim McCann’s brilliant ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM and Dan Eberle’s enthralling, nearly wordless PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD go unheralded.

And Michael Morrissey’s impressive BOY WONDER is the myth of masked vengeance done better than most big budget super-hero movies. Rounding out the quartet, director Brian A. Miller’s HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is one of the best neo-noirs seen since the Coen Brother’s BLOOD SIMPLE or Craig Ross Jr’s frenetic and fantastic CAPPUCCINO. Dave Bautista delivering a surprisingly elegant and understated performance.

One of the common threads these four movies share is understated but brilliant performances, as well as a thematic conceit of men either at odds or abandoned by the judicial system, who must themselves find justice for those around them.

From Mike Simmons memorable turn as the protagonist in ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM (A great film unfairly lambasted by the short-sighted crowd, there’s rumors of director Tim McCann and star Mike Simmons in talk to helm the new Luke Cage/Power-Man series from Marvel/Netflix — to which I say… heck yes!) to Director/Writer Dan Eberle, also doing triple duty as star in his PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD. Together these four films create a new and refreshing phase of American cinema, a new wave if you will.

Sample them for yourself while they last on streaming services, and when you find yourself smitten with them… purchase your copies here:

Another Zero in the System

Prayer to a Vengeful God

Boy Wonder

House of the Rising Sun

TOP 5 DESERT ISLAND Directors! Part 1 of 3 Under Construction

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This is an idea that the filmspotting podcast covered in their latest episode, and while they had intriguing choices it spurred me to a slightly different list and slightly different choices.

If you can only, for whatever reason, have the films of five directors to watch, on a desert island, for an uncertain amount of time, or for all time… what five directors do you choose? Fritz Lang? F.W. Murnau? Louis Feuillade? Alfred Hitchcock? David Lean? Orson Welles? Ousmane Sembene? Mary Harron?

They list very interesting choices, not as good as the names I list above (I’m joking), many of which I myself am a cheerleader for (Kurosawa, Howard Hawks), but it occurred to me that diversity, particularly when it came to Hollywood films, was a rare exception rather than a rule. And that concerned me because, if I am trapped on a deserted island with the filmography of only 5 directors, that I wanted the filmography of at least a couple of those directors to represent the ethnic width and breadth of the human condition. The beauty of a range of colors and women and cultures.

I being someone who even today gets bored with the lack of diversity of films, the idea of being stuck with films not representative of the larger world, and the rich tapestry of people in it, gave me pause. For all our berating of terms like political correctness (which when really defined is respect, so when people rail against political correctness what they are really arguing against is giving people respect) we have become a more intolerant and stratified society. And part of that I think has to do with our mass media. Our obsession with vilifying the other.

The (seemingly increasing) lack of diversity in recent films and television, being I think a dangerous sign of a tail wagging the dog society. Of a vocal minority calling for a return to ‘the good old days’ which, when finally viewed, never really were that good.

Hollywood has from its inception been a propaganda machine, where a few people’s fiction altered often negatively many people’s facts. And before discussing Desert Island directors, another discussion has to be had first… about the values of film. Not the value of film, but the values portrayed or reiterated or held dear, in perhaps too many films. We have to talk about exclusion and stereotyping in films beginnings, and in film’s present.

While willing to give a slight pass to pre-1960 films given their historic placement, I have less interest or sympathy for segregated and nearly Apartheid rich, post-1960 into 21st century, Hollywood films. Or worse the 21st century version of Step and Fetchit, black actors used to deliver White Messages. Be it MONSTERS BALL or TRAINING DAY it’s the eye-bulging, debasing, cartoonish extremes, that Black actors are saddled to wear, that hearkens to what is worst in cinema.

If the choice is between only debased caricatures… of people of color, ala Frank Darabont or David Ayer or practically no characters of color ala Woody Allen, I’ll take the latter evil. But ideally the filmmakers I want to support and revisit, are those who can represent characters of color with the same broad diversity we grant to the human race, the Michael Manns, the Carl Franklins, the Tony Scotts, the Gordon Parks.

This idea of us as hero and villain, Sexual and chaste, brilliant and imbecilic, honorable and flawed, important and funny, savior and victim. In the 21st century that diversity of roles is generally relegated to White actors. In the 21st century the number of Hollywood movies that portray characters of color with any of those positive aspects listed… are few and far between.

Even supposed mass market films like XMEN FIRST CLASS and SIN CITY reek of this ingrained stereotyping and caricature as truth, when it comes to the non-pale characters. And I could deal if this mentality and programming and white wish fulfillment was the occasional film, however in the last two decades it has become practically every film and tv show. The White hero has a woman of color pining for him, his backup girl typically. And the male actor of color, seldom a protagonist, and even less seldom does he get the girl, he is now relegated to comedy relief or side-kick; Rochester for the 21st century. Far have we drifted from the sexually virile Black stars of the 70s.

This creates a cinema of exclusion and to some extent, social engineering. Our facts are shaped by our fictions, arguably more than anything else, and a cinema of marginalization, legitimization and feminism of the male of color, bodes not well.

We are not DW Griffith we are not Cecil B. DeMills making entertainment for a virulently segregated, Jim Crow America. We have made some progress since then, and for filmmakers not to acknowledge that progress or that shifting audience, is to take a stance against that progress, and against that diverse viewing base.

We are not in the early days of the 20th century, we are in the early days of the 21st and while it is a filmmakers choice whether to be exclusionary or boring or homogeneous to a fault, you do so at the risk of failing to become a better filmmaker. You do so at the risk of making scared, redundant, and repetitive early 20th century films, here in the 21st century.

Well I’ve gone on about the pitfalls of cinema, here 15 years into the 21st century, now let’s discuss the strengths of film. The people I think are portraying an America and a world far more intune to the one I walk through, where heroes can be both Black and White.

In the Hollywood system the names are few, but welcome, and waiting… waiting for viewers, reviewers, actors, writer, producers, studios, and directors to recognize there is an inequity, a growing one, at the heart of our fictions, that much be addressed to make our cinema and ourselves… better.

Those filmmakers are (among others):

The late great Gordon Parks
The late great Tony Scott
The very much with us and Great Michael Mann
The very much with us and Great and underutilized Carl Franklin
Sergio Leonne
Ossie Davis

Very, very different directors, but what they were all able to do, sometimes for a single movie, sometimes for multiple movies, is something so rarely done in Hollywood today that it’s like there is an unofficial Hayes code prohibiting it…

…prohibiting having a movie with a character of color or Black character as both heroic protagonist and a male with a functioning libido, who doesn’t have to die or be sacrificed for the majority. :)

Outside of the great explosion of films in the 70s extending a bit into the 80s, and the subsequent eradication of locally controlled/independent theaters, The Heroic, virile Black hero has become a scare commodity on Theatrical screens.

Which is why when it gets done well… these days, such as in Peter Berg’s poorly named and badly marketed HANCOCK… the film becomes a wild success. Because there is a large population starved for empowering images of themselves. 2013 with its BUTLER and FRUITYVALE STATION and 12 YEARS A SLAVE, showcases Hollywood’s debasement attitude when it comes to theatrical releases. “Multiple characters of color? You better be a comedy, or telling us about getting your ass whupped.” :) .

Hence 2013s abundance of films of victimization, while they should be valid stories that have their place, if you counter them with just as many films of triumph, or winning, or adventure, or thrilling action and heroism. However the Heroic Tale is a rare one, and that is the failing of the system we have to change. Without the heroic myth to contrast it, tales of victimization are just an assault, a tool, a club… to beat a population into shape.

— to be continued —

Movie Review : CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER in 3D

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Helmed by relative directorial unknowns, Anthony and Joe Russo, there is a deft, assured hand steering this latest entry in the Marvel Studios movies franchise. CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER from title to end credit exudes an easy confidence in this universe, these characters, this path.

It’s an easy relaxed pace that begins the film, a film that is not afraid to have you wear these characters for a while, rest in their lives. But when the action sequences hit, they are stellar set-pieces of jaw dropping scale. The post-conversion RealD 3D is nothing to write home about, but neither is it a liability.

And the action and character moments are tied together by a strong script, and rich performances by Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Scarlett Johansson.

However particularly Scarlet Johansson I find stellar in her role as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. She brings a combination of strength and vulnerability to her performance, that can be felt. Here as in the AVENGERS she brings an emotional core, a thread of consequence and fear and reality, that is surely needed in this fantasy of men and supermen. She brings a dramatic level of truth, to the lie, which completes it.

It’s a role that uses her beauty and considerable assets, but it is also a role that lets her give a more impressive performance than any number of dramas.

CAPTAIN AMERICA THE WINTER SOLDIER offers blistering action, enjoyable camaraderie, espionage, larger than life villains and heroes, diabolical world conquering schemes, humor, and even a bit of pathos and sacrifice, in short everything you want your ticket price to buy you. Add to that a brilliant end credit sequence and you have a film that earns its accolades. Grade: B+

MASTERPIECE THEATER : MR. SELFRIDGE Season 2 Now Available!

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One of the many discoveries of the 2013 television season was stumbling across season 1 of Masterpiece Theater’s MR. SELFRIDGE. A show about an American Entrepreneur creating one of the world’s first Department Stores in early 20th century London. While such a premise doesn’t sound like it would be gripping, it absolutely is.

And how refreshing to have a show that doesn’t involve solving the murder of the week. I found it far more enjoyable than more acclaimed shows such as DOWNTOWN ABBEY or SHERLOCK.

Season 2 is now available and it moves the series forward five years, but losing none of the richness and drama and period detail of the first season, while introducing decidedly new wrinkles to deal with.

You can catch the 2nd season via over the air broadcast or streaming via your local pbs affiliate.

Documentary Review: A BAND CALLED DEATH

“Try your best in life, to keep your promise to God; and give God time enough to keep His promise to you.” Bobby Hackney, quoting his Dad

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I am that most horrible of things. I am a collector and a romantic, and those two things together tend to make me… sentimental about certain things.

Those two things tend to make me extremely emotional about certain things.

And I try to avoid things that will make me either emotional or sentimental. But sometimes that’s not for you to say. Sometimes there comes along something worthy of both sentimentality and emotion.

The documentary A BAND CALLED DEATH is one of those things. The phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ is oft heard, but little acknowledged; you’ll acknowledge it in the watching of this film, about three Black Brothers in a thriving early 70s Detroit, creating a hyper brand of rock, a punk music, years before punk; and the winding road that winding music… takes them on.

Just a brilliant, wrenching film, the feature film debut of Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett makes you want to scream, and create, and believe in family and generations, and believe in being a better man… and that confluence of feelings, is a rare and rarefied thing. A gift.

A highly recommended documentary, viewable free via streaming, that will spur you for posterity and for joy… to buy not just the documentary, but the cds associated with it.

A Band Called Death (+ Digital Copy) –

For the Whole World to See – Here is the long awaited CD/Album referenced in the documentary. Here music that was almost lost for all time, but for a man’s faith… that the world would come

Maximum Soul Power – And here the next generation, inspired and building upon what came before

Just riveting all around. Click the links, and for little, own much.

Netflix Winners and Losers : DAVID O’ REILLY vs ROSALIND LEIGH in our Movie Throwdown!


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In this installment of MOVIE THROWDOWN let us start with a film from Netflix that falls solidly in the worth missing category:

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THE POSSESSION OF DAVID O’ REILLY- The audacity and body horror aspects of this film paints it as a decidedly different haunting/possession film, AMITYVILLE HORROR by way of Cronenberg-lite, but that’s not enough to offset the weaknesses of this film, Namely contrived overzealous performances, and a script that ignores the basic rationale of the protagonists not either committing or kicking out anyone behaving so mental.

It comes off as a manic exercise in filmic irrationality, that quickly wears out its welcome along with any modicum of sense. Grade: An intriguing premise that begins well, but quickly devolves into a hysterical mess. Avoid. D. The debut feature film of Andrew Cull it hints at definite promise, if he could reign in the excesses of script, acting and directing.

Of a similar type to THE POSSESSION OF DAVID O’ REILLY, even down to the nomenclature heavy title, but far better is…

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THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH- Directed by Rodrino Guidino, this is also a debut feature film, but you could not tell that by viewing it. The film has the assured look and deft touch of a master filmmaker. Impressive, grand opening sequence; beautiful use of visuals and sound. “Despair is an affliction of the godless.”.

Wonderful set design on the titular character’s cabinet of curiosities, filled as it is with religious iconography. If you are going to set a film in primarily one location, as this film does, it behooves you to have or create a location that will keep your audience captivated, and this film manages to pull that mandate off and then some.

Fluid and engaging camera work, such that it’s difficult not to stay rooted to the screen for fear of missing any of the striking imagery. The camera moves like a preternatural thing, and marries with the sound-work and set design, both of which are stunning, to create an engrossing experience.

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If a fan of HOUSE OF THE DEVIL you will adore this film and its uncoiling pacing. The unseen neighbor… very creepy. In fact this film is filled with wonderful voices, bringing to mind that this and PONTYPOOL use sound, specifically spoken word, so effectively they nearly create a whole new sub-genre of horror film.

I found THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH ultimately a very, no pun intended, haunting and sad and lovely film, which is an odd thing to say of a horror film, but this is no ordinary horror film. I highly recommend it. Grade: A-.

This is one you can sample via Netflix, and then if you are as impressed with it as I am, buy the DVD (currently a bluray does not exist) to watch this film in the highest quality possible and to be able to listen to the director’s commentary to have him walk you through what was on his mind as he composed these shots, composed this sumptuous study in bravura film-making.

So this installment’s loser is THE POSSESSION OF DAVID O’ REILLY and the winner is THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH. Both films are currently available for viewing on Netflix, and the winner available for purchase here:Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

Tell em HT sent ya! And come back for more Movie throw-downs next time!

Deal of the Day! PLANETARY OMNIBUS!

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Hailed as a timeless story that turned modern super hero conventions on their heads, PLANETARY stars an inter-dimensional peace-keeping force including Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer. Tasked with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, these mystery archaeologists uncover unknown paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters. Now, the entire series is collected in hardcover, including PLANETARY #1-27, PLANETARY/BATMAN #1, PLANETARY/JLA #1 and PLANETARY/AUTHORITY #1.

Get your copy here: The Planetary Omnibus