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A SAGA ENDS BEFORE IT’S EVEN REALLY BEGUN (An Appreciation of Something Canadian Other Than Rush)

14 Sep

4514304556A friend of mine reminded me the other day that one of my ‘secret’ favorite progressive rock bands is officially calling it a day sometime next month after a final concert to be staged in Puerto Rico. This sort of saddens me because I feel that the Ontario, Canada based quintet is as much as a musical great white north progressive rock institution as much as Rush has worn the face of Canadian AOR ambassadorship. Although Rush has probably four or five years seniority and a honor from the Rock ‘ n Roll Hall of Fame, the great mighty SAGA have been no slouches themselves as they reach their final pinnacle of celebrating forty-years of making complex and catchy songs together, give or take a switch in personnel here and there.

A Saga album didn’t enter in my life until sometime after I graduated from Parsippany High School, New Jersey in 1982. My first exposure to them was witnessing them as an opening act for Jethro Tull’s Broadsword and the Beast album that occurred on a chilly fall night out at the Brendan Byrne Arena out near the Meadowlands race track. I thought at the time, they were the most unusual opening band I had ever seen since UK from two Jethro Tull tours opened for them at Madison Square Garden in 1979. I’m still in awe that the vibrations from that show didn’t unearth Jimmy Hoffa’s body from beneath the arena’s parking lot. Come to think of it, I didn’t see that many shows at the Brendan Byrne because it took an extra effort to take a Lakeland bus to New York’s Port Authority of which ran past the Arena, but refused to drop you off at the parking lot, but instead you had grab a special shuttle to double your way back.

What makes their sound so distinctive is the creative cross hatching of guitarist Ian Crichton and classically trained keyboardist Jim Gilmour sewed together licks. The shared combination at times can prove to be two of one mind when they pair off of each other by trading off measures sometimes resulting in wrought confusion of who started off what solo and who ended it. No other band I know masters that musical kind of showmanship. Saga is also known to keep up with the latest in technical derring-do. That most impressive synthesizer patches I ever heard developed and recorded come from Saga albums.

Somehow, like my love for everything Yes, a few pivotal events occurred in my life were centered around my listening of Saga album throughout the years.

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The most recognizable landmark album out of their 21 studio album repertoire, Worlds Apart was a sonic masterpiece of a platter I immediately scoured for throughout the local record stores in the Morris County area, I think I manage to locate a copy at a local Two Guys in East Hanover, NJ – not far from I used to live before I moved to Parsippany.

A couple of things that were groundbreaking about Worlds Apart: 1. It was produced by world-renowned producer Rupert Hines, who also the mastermind of production behind other landmark prog related albums by The Fixx, Camel, Chris DeBurgh before moving on to the big leagues of Rush and Stevie Nicks.

2. It could be debated that the Simmons Electronic Drum kit that Steve Negus heavily utilizes through the album and most the stand out radio hits and MTV videos, “On The Loose” and “Wind Him Up” made its’ spectacular debut on Worlds Apart. That’s at least, what I read as a kid in maybe Musician Magazine or the many other music oriented fare that I used to pick up on the newsstands back then. Saga even applied the use of them before Neal Peart experimented on them with Rush. Simmons, before they spiraled into bankruptcy was instrumental in salvaging Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen’s career when he lost his arm in a tragic car accident. The company developed a special kit for Allen to use more foot pedals to compensate for his missing appendage.

3. Although, it took a while to convert my Zullo brothers brethren, I had a friend at Morris County College named Glenn Fittin who I met in a music theory class and found out he too was also a mutual fan of Saga’s Worlds Apart and I remember us paling around one New Year’s Eve at some house in West Orange as we sang drunken karoke versions of the entire album much to the scowl of other partygoers – who might have been more upset that it all ended up as a mindless vomit fest and I woke up on their floor that was laid over with a tarp in case I pulled a John Bonham in my sleep.

During a break from her studies in the mid-west, My old Parsippany high school gal pal Linda Freeman was at home working on an academic project and was too busy to catch that East Rutherford Jethro Tull show with me, but she did say some nice comments about Michael Sadler’s leotard in a video that she happened to catch of Saga on a late night weekend edition of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. She told me over the phone that not only was she impressed with the drum duet of Steve Negus’s electronic drum set up and Sadler’s electronic percussion kit hidden away in a leather brief case, she was kind of smitten with Sadler’s banana hammock. Whatever the hell that means.

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1983’s Heads of Tail (also produced by Rupert Hine) is a favorite memorable album I recall being attached to during a few semesters I spent at County College of Morris in Randolph. NJ. I constantly had this album on my person and usually in between classes I went into a private listening room to blast the music department’s headphones to “The Flyer” and “Cat Walk” which were also moderate hits. The twirling xylophone album closer, “Pitchman” still thrills me to this very day. Keyboardist Jim Gilmour applied a lot of sampled textures to this album using a German digital manufactured synthesizer called the PPG Wave 2.2 – which I remember getting a demonstration of at an instrument summit sponsored by Keyboard Magazine that took place at NYU in the fall of 1983 (where I spent a few hours hanging out with Eddie Jobson and embarrassed him in front of Wendy Carlos, who was also in attendance, not realizing that Walter and Wendy Carlos were one and the same person. It’s a quite a story, but no time to go into here.) and I remember the representative of that company playing the music box patch that I recognized from the closing of the song, “The Vendetta (Still Helpless)”.

 

Of course I dubbed those two albums on cassette and took them with me on my major move to North San Diego where lo and behold, I found cassette copies of the first three albums Saga, Images At Twilight, & Silent Knight at the world-famous independent Lou’s Records in Encinitas, Ca. These albums influenced me to investigate more closely into the band’s history, since classically trained keyboardist, Jim Gilmour wasn’t with the band in the beginning. What I learned a little bit about the first two albums was generously copied and pasted from these two paragraphs from Wikipedia:

Originally known as Pockets, Saga formed in 1977 from the nucleus of Canadian band Fludd. In June 1798, they released their self-titled debut album, Saga. A modest success in Canada, it would eventually sell over 30,000 copies in Germany as an import. It also became a major seller in Puerto Rico, after a local stereo equipment store featured the guitar-keyboard duet of the band’s single, “Humble Stance” as part if its radio advertisements. Two other songs, “How Long” and “Perfectionist” also became local favorites.

Their 1979 follow-up album Images at Twilight gave them their first charting singe in Canada with the song “It’s Time” peaking at No 84 in the Canadian charts. From the album, the songs “See Them Smile” and “Slow Motion’ became strong radio favorites elsewhere. Saga’s next album, Silent Knight was released in 1980 and included the singles, “Don’t Be Late” and “Careful Where You Step”.

From what I remember reading in various magazines that profiled Saga, Gilmour during a rehearsal had to have his hands handcuffed in order for him to slow down his playing. He already blew everyone’s shit out of the water at all the auditions with his rendition of U.K.’s “Presto Vivace and Reprise”.

Steve Negus took a break from Saga in 1982 to help out producer pal, Rupert Hine to record Chris DeBurgh’s minor AOR hit “Don’t Pay The Ferryman” off his 1982’s The Getaway” album.

I ear taught myself part of the keyboard solo to the conclusion of “Don’t Be Late” on a Roland 3X JP synthesizer I bought in San Diego at my aunt’s house in Cardiff By the Sea.

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The sixth album “Misbehavior”  was released after my settling in North San Diego County, “Misbehavior” also achieved a mediocre success with a MTV video of its single “What Do I Know”. I tried to convert my roommates to be Saga fans, but to no avail. One roommate complained to me that it took too much concentration to get to the catchy hooks

I didn’t hear from Saga again, until I stumbled across their 1991 effort, “The Security of Illusion” and I didn’t even realized that there was strife between members of the band over management issues. I didn’t even know that Jim Gilmour and Steve Negus left the band and then came back again – all in the meantime forming their own band to release an album called GNP (Gilmour Negus Project)!!

One album released during Gilmour and Negus’ departure called The Beginner’s Guide to Shapes was quite an impressive effort in their absence. Released in 1989, it was a very experimental effort relying on Sadler to program drum machines and samples. With the enhancement of a few session musicians – the album produced a tremendous long closer called “Giant” that clocked close to eight minutes. Saga’s longest song ever recorded.

The bands were ‘no stranger’ (pardon the Worlds Apart closer pun) to concept albums. 1995 saw the release of a ‘rock opera’ of sorts called Generation 13 based on the 1993 book 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss. The reason why the band choose Saga as their final calling card was because they were trying to introduce the concept of serialized chapters told out-of-order just like George Lucas was trying to attempt with Star Wars – only this little storyline that Sadler and the Crichton brothers tried to tell would be pieced together with random chapters inserted amongst two songs. The wild theme being that an alien insect horde is trying to save Earth from total annihilation by consulting Albert Einstein’s brain for aid. The first eight were revealed on the first four album and the second half of the story was told in a trilogy of albums (my favorites of everything they ever recorded), 1999’s Full Circle, 2001’s House of Cards, and 2003’s Marathon. A 2005 live concert featuring the Chapters performed in numerical order and in its’ entirety was the last to feature original drummer, Steve Negus.

The band had a great racket going. Once they achieved high international record selling status they moved to Los Angeles from Canada and started recording albums at a studio not far from my place in Sherman Oaks which continued to sell like hotcakes in Germany, then fly out to South America, Puerto Rico, and Germany to tour and hardly leave any love for their American fans – especially us Los Angeles ones.

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(formely Sound  & Image Studios in Van Nuys, Ca)

One particular stand out album of theirs was released in the mid-nineties was a concept album entitled Generation 13, which introduced a sort of imaginary character with a froggy sounding voice that has popped up on many an occasion on subsequent releases in the background speaking some outlandish line or mumbling gibberish including their following twentieth anniversary release, The Pleasure and The Pain- particularly on their bombastic cover of The Beatles’ Taxman.

Guitarist Ian Crichton was a guest musician on Asia’s 2001 “Aura” album featuring Geoff Downes and John Payne. Crichton co-wrote one of the bonus tracks entitled “Come Make My Day” with the two main frontmen.

There have been a few releases over the years that I have snubbed my nose upon and the three that immediately come to mind are: 1987’s Wildest Dreams (whereas Sadler and the Crichton brothers try their best ELP’s Love Beach impersonation with a photo cover), 1994’s Steel Umbrellas – which was a mishmash of ideas not fully realized and was originally supposed to be incidental music for the television show Cobra, and unfortunately, 1997’s ‘The Pleasure & The Pain didn’t gel with me, because it seemed they were trying to emulate a AC/DC  album and it just proved not to be their kind of sound, and I suspected other hard-core Saga fans were alienated with this hard-edged kind of approach.

When I first bought my Alesis keyboard in 2005. I easily took to three Saga albums in the early aughts to work myself through factory patches to songs from House of Cards, Marathon, and Trust.

(one of my favorite tracks from 2006’s Trust album which serves as amalgamated sequel to Silent Knight’s “Don’t Be Late” and Misbehavior’s “Out of the Shadows”)

I beat the shit out of Rikki Lixxx’s ex-husband when he tried to ambush me on the balcony of my Hazeltine Hellmouth just as I was finishing up watching a Saga concert on my dvd portable player. Witnesses said I was like Wolvering flaying into the Incredible Hulk alive with portable claws snapping out of my knuckles. Come to think of it, isn’t Wolverine technically a Canadian in the comic books?

Next door amateur porn actress Rikki Lixxx didn not like it when I listened to Saga CDs. Since she was next door, she could hear it bleeding though her bedroom wall in our apartment complex of Hazeltine Hazeltine (mere blocks away from Sound & Image studios) when attempting to figure out Jim Gilmour complex synthesizer solos.

In Las Vegas, while my dad was vacationing in Tucson, I had the run of the house, I got drunk one night and listened to 2009’s “Human Condition” – the only album to feature Final Frontier lead man Rob Moratti and then after near black out conditions went and snapped it in half over my knee, because the band made absolutely no sense without lead singer,  Michael Sadler. Also, I was in creative mode putting the finishing touches on a Deposit Man comic book I was working before delivering it to a local printer and I feel it siphoning on my otherwise shiny demeanor.

My friend tells me that Michael Sadler originally left the band because Michael Sadler won the Canadian lottery and it took him four years to blow through it. I don’t know how he pulled it off seeing as how he had a house out in Chatsworth. CA. Apparently he once owned a helicopter, a yacht, and a bag of short bread biscuits.

Both an Australian friend, Matt Goodluck, who fronts a Pink Floyd cover based out of Abilene is a good friend to Michael Sadler as local bass player by the name of Kurt Barabas, Both I’ve known for decades and they have nothing to tell me good things about Sadler when working with him on projects.

With forty years behind them and 21 studio albums under their belt, their last being Sagacity in 2014, there are signs of both strength and turmoil ahead. Perhaps one of the reasons that the band is bidding their fans farewell is due to health problems amongst its’ members. Jim Gilmour (otherwise known as “Daryl” to the band) had to have extensive eye surgery, Steve Negus’ replacement, Brian Doerner suffered a heart attack sometime ago.  Fingers crossed that they still pop up from time to time with new projects. If you’re not caught up in a hurricane and find yourself in Puerto Rico on October 12, Saga will be giving their final performance at the Luis A Ferre Performing Arts Center in Santurce, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If you’re a Trump supporter, make sure you bring plenty of paper towels.

 

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I’ve Got….Nothing (We pause for The Rerun Jets)

30 Aug

I don’t have my mind in prepare mode right now to compose a new blog, so……

So here’s a series of repeats from the year 2005 from the long dead mothership of The Purple Pinup Guru Platform blogspot days of yore from a decade lost long ago. That ought to tide you over until then.

Life sure was simpler when Harlan Ellison, Steve Ditko. Gary Friedrich, and Marie Severin were still alive back then.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

C’MON & FREAKIN’ DIE ALREADY!!! II

Two drunks walk in on a telethon and one of them says…. Posted by Hello

It couldn’t have happen to a nicer bloated red nose guffawed fat fuck (from Imdb.com):

Carson’s Sidekick in Hospital

US chat show legend Johnny Carson’s beloved sidekick Ed McMahon spent his 82nd birthday in a hospital over the weekend. The TV personality was admitted to hospital in Beverly Hills, California, with mild concussion after falling at his home. Insiders claim he required stitches for a lesion on his head but is otherwise fine and was kept in hospital over the weekend for tests. He is expected to be released from the hospital later this week.

E onLine reports: The former Tonight Show sidekick spent some quality time in a hospital after injuring his head in a spill at his Beverly Hills home and sustaining a mild concussion, according to his publicist.

“Ed tripped and fell in his house in Beverly Hills and gashed his head open,” says Susan DuBow. “He received several stitches and sustained a mild concussion.”

McMahon took the tumble on Friday. He wound up marking his 82nd birthday Sunday in his hospital bed surrounded by friends and family.

Hey Ed, wishing you a speedy recovery……down fifty flights of stairs you freakin’ gin martini guzzling gizzard-necked gargantuan ape with a tiny weenie. AND YO, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THAT OVER BLOATED FRENCH POODLE IN THE PICTURE WITH YOU! And Ed, when you do finally pass on (hopefully soon) could you give a head’s up to that wife smacking ex-boss of yours?

Ed McMahon- all you do is bring pain and suffering to white trash lives. How about us Joes in suburbiaville, huh? Instead of a fuckin’ million dollars, all we get is these goddamn meal tickets that turn out nothing to be but magazine subscriptions to Good Hooterkeeping or Rolling Shrews.

Damn- your commercials scared me when I was a kid. Showing up at someone’s door and offering the parents a hefty-sized check to see if the kids were for sale or not. AND TO OFFER UP A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION TO FUCKING FIELD & STREAM AS TRADE? How low could you go, Ed?

The wages of sin. Oh yeah, Ed – believe me, I was on to your fucking scam from the get-go. You’re on my shit list, pal.

~

Coat

HERE’S SOMETHING YOU CAN’T EAT AT QUIZNO’S

Ahhhh…now that’s much better. This is the makings of a great sandwich. Two slices of Denise while Shannon and I can be the meat. Posted by Hello

It gladdens my heart when I see or hear when a Hollywood couple doesn’t make it. Last week, Denise Richards did the wise thing to split from Charlie ‘blow your load in Heidi Fleiss’s black book’ Sheen and now it’s Shannon Elizabeth turn to say your ‘punk’d’ to Joseph Reitman.

Isn’t Hollywood love grand? Gals, when things get too complicated or superfluous- there’s us normal blue-collar joes out here with a shoulder for you to cry on- unless,….you know,…have to keep within your parameters of your fancy-schmancy elitism and simply have to date pockmarked faced actors and greasy jew arab shieks.

I’ve seen both actresses up close, and they’re not all that. Well actually Shannon is nice and sweet- she signed an autograph for me. But Denise…?

Here’s a e-mail I sent to my brother out in Nebraska after he was elated to learn that two-time Oscar Winning Actress Hilary Swank once lived in Lincoln at a house down the street from him:

My brother: Found out Hillary Swank lived in my wife’s house when she lived in Lincoln. 1110 Butler Ave. Hillary was born here.

Me: That’s interesting. I moved last year from the house in Sherman Oaks, Ca where the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz died in that I have been in for the past eight years. Yeah, I heard she was from Nebraska.

I saw in the news this morning that chaplipped Charlie Sheen is divorcing Denise Richards. That’s the best news I’ve heard all week – Thing is though- I was seeing Million Dollar Baby at the Sherman Oaks Galleria and I swore I was standing in back of someone at the concession stand who looked like Denise Richards without any makeup- but I was telling myself that it couldn’t be her because this woman looks like she’s going to pop a kid out at any second. It looked like she was seeing a movie with her mom- so there wasn’t anyone who looked liked Charlie Sheen lurking besides her. I didn’t want to say anything to her. because I was all grungy looking and hadn’t shaved in days.

But now I see on the net that Denise Richards is six months pregnant. I’m sitting here telling myself holy shit- that must have been her. That ass of hers close up was magnificent, though.

See the connection?

My brother: You should have offered her some of your popcorn or Milk Duds.

Sigh. So it goes.

~

Coat

DO I LOOK HOT IN THIS CARTOON WALKIE-TALKIE?


I should do wonders for all the new Verizon or T-Mobile ad campaigns. Catherine Zeta-Jones can bite me. Not that I would mind. Posted by Hello

Query: Why is that people simply have to use the speaker on their cellphones in public places, such as the bus or subway? Do you really want strangers to hear what you did on your date last night? Do we really need a play by-play broadcast of how you got your toes sucked or how got a mop full of Johnson’s floor wax shoved so far up your rectum just to show how much shine your henie can really handle getting buffed? Are people really dying to know your business of how many orgasms you can fake while trying to chew off a hangnail with fake vampire teeth?

I’m not.

T-mobilization constitutes an act of war on the basis of the lack of social etiquette.

Get your ear off the fucking cellphone while you’re driving you goddamn maniacs.

~

Coat

Monday, March 07, 2005

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR….


In case anyone is wondering.. Here is my sponsor on the back of the new Deposit Man.. Posted by Hello

John Mitchell- the guitar player for Kino is from this band, as well as doing session work for John Wetton, and has another side outfit called The Urbane. I’ve met John a few times and we’ve hung together through arrangements made through my buddy from the land of down under, Matt Goodluck (it’s no major feat: you just crash the hotel room of your favorite cult status band who can’t afford a pot to piss in, who’ve somehow managed to get into this country by bribing their way with work visas that probably cost a bundle of ‘payola’ under the table and start singing the band’s repertoire in an unusual off-key manner- rock bands are usually harmless they know when you’re equally as young, stupid, and drunk as they are. They’ll take you under their wing and kick or nurture you around some- ’cause you know, they can’t really afford anyone to beat the shit out of you for making an ass of yourself). John was like, just a wet-nosed kid when I last saw him- it’s all so startling to see him reach this pinnacle of professional playing and holding his own musically for the past eight years or so. At times, he is simply phenomenal. Citing his influences, from David Gilmour to the Edge- I would say he’s at the point where he can probably blow both of those snaggle-tooth dinosaurs away.

This is incredible stuff- even though by today’s cultural standards- it would sound passe’ if it had managed to get airplay on radio stations today.

Anyway, I was merely fucking around some more with the Hello and Picasa software that I installed today in my work computer, So from now on, if I show you pretty pictures, you’ll know in the text what the fuck I’m talking about.

I’ve had a good relationship with Arena for quite some time. I’ve received a great number of comp copies of all the Verglas products due to my friendship with their one-time package designer, Matt Goodluck, who went on to help found the Insideout Music label which is now a haven for most progressive rock acts. When Matt left, keyboard player, Clive Nolan continued to send me stuff once in a while. So putting up an ad for them is reciprocal in some aspects (both are paid homage with a cameo appearance in my new book). I don’t like this album as much as do their earlier efforts, The Visitor or Contagion– but it’s certainly a step above Immortal? And just where did they get the title Pepper’s Ghost anyway? Some told me on a message board that there is a similar concept read by Alan Moore on one of his spoken word recordings. Venture to say that the game’s afoot, Dr. Nolan?

~

Coat

WALKING ON WASTED LAND- BUT WE MUST GO ON
The most magnificent album I’ve heard so far this year…. Posted by Hello

Of course, if anyone has any objections- please free to let me know. Radiohead and U2 will soon have plenty to fear…

But I doubt it.

Remember, the BEATLES once lead the British invasion..

These guys from Sweden.? well, let’s just say they just ran off with the cannons.

ABBA, who?

~

Coat

I’M NOT YELLING, EVEN THOUGH THERE’S CONTINUOUS REDNESS & SWELLING

I may have to suspend regular posting to this blog once again, now that my supervisors have informed me that we may have to resume our regimental 12 hour ‘prison sentence’ days again.

I’m not really happy about this. All this grueling OT is going to put aside projects that I want completed before the inevitable second wave was going to hit.

I knew that it was coming, but not this soon. I’ve barely had little more than a week to get the new Deposit Man book affairs in order and I was hoping for a weekend to wind down, maybe find some skanky stripper chick to go on a night on the town with, catch up to all the tv shows I missed(BTW, for the first time since its’ debut, I missed taping an episode of Smallville ’cause my VCR Timer fucked up while I was at Oliver’s house fixing up the last of the glitches on the new book), write some NEW material (getting time to finish that fucking BATMAN plot still eludes me), and see a few flicks (it’s HORROR movie season again with The JACKET and the RING 2 both opening a week apart.). Like that old drill sarge that used to abuse you inside your head used to say: TOUGH SHIT OUT OF LUCK private. Such is the dream of freedom when clouded by mental incarceration. It’s sort of like living the life of No 6 from the old sixties cult hit, The Prisoner. The illusion of getting back to some level of manageable normalcy was within my grasp.

With that being said, now that I’m metamorphosing back to a constrained butterfly- I’ll probably rethink another sting like a bumblebee tragedy in what I’m going to do with all these hundred-dollar bills exploding out of my ass besides putting it all on credit cards (I paid off and canceled a Capitol One card because they weren’t giving me increases- so I said fuck ’em. A card isn’t go to me, if it doesn’t have a couple of thou to play with) and eating out pussy- For one: I need to advertise the DEPOSIT MAN in some comic book trade publications. Since Diamond has given me a round of bad luck in NOT distributing the book – it’s time for the world to know that CARY COATNEY still exists in some capacity or another. So I think setting up a shopping cart over the internet is going to be the way to go. But I wonder if I can set it up through this blog? I’m sure Alan will have the answers. Second: I want to get back to playing keyboards on a regular basis. All my synths have been either sold or shot to shit through the discourse of mighty rivers and earthquakes- so I’ve haven’t been able to touch a new unit (hey, easy now!) in years. So one step in getting back to the grind is to subscribe to Keyboard Magazine, so I could bone up with what’s going on in the market. Through my employee intranet- there’s a section where I can order away to my heart’s desire of all the TimeWarner magazine products. So I figure I need to PUT something in my mailbox besides the endless deluge of credit card offers and child porn. I’m contemplating adding Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and Hollywood Reporter (although that carries a hefty $200 price tag in itself).

At least there’s always good shit to look forward to blow my OT wad on. This little fun prog platter takes priority:


the new supergroup: Trewavas, Maitland, Mitchell, and Beck go to the movies in Germany. Posted by Hello

Kino is John Mitchell (Arena) guitar and vocals, Pete Trewavas (Marillion & Transatlantic)on bass and vocals, Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) drums and John Beck (It Bites) on keyboards and vocals.

It’s the CHIC thing in prog: THE Supergroup. Something to take our minds off of the split up of Transatlantic, which was the last supergroup to exist just when ex-Spock’s Beard vocalist leader, Neal Morse went off his noodle and decided an intoxication of too much Jesus Juice and wafers was the only path for him to take This left poor Pete Trewavas with too much spare time on his hands. So he’s got to do something right? A Supergroup to take the place of another supergroup seemed the logical choice- so we now have Kino, which is what they call Cinemas out in Germany. Who knows on how they decided on this moniker, perhaps because the record company, Inside Out has some nudge-nudge influence?

Anyway, it’s fun stuff, very intricate and percussive playing – the fourth track, Swimming in Woman, is the best track about getting too much trim that any single guy could ever hum along with.

SPARKY SANTOS will be making some contributions in the weeks ahead. He’ll have a word or two about some T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents shenanigans and hopefully will be posting some new Deposit Man goodies.

~

Coat

 

 

ONCE AGAIN IT’S TIME FOR CARY COATNEY’S CARTOON ALA CARTE

20 Aug

It’s cartoon funtime once again at Casa de la Coatney in the primitive wild coyote calling hills of Sherman Oaks. AND you’re all invited, provided your drones are smart enough to locate me. Because I’m a wild man in those hills, and a wild man needs his cartoons to survive. attacj1-625x352

Thanks to Netflix and their constant pandering to get me to tune in to some anime, I now regularly stream some choice anime, although I don’t consider myself a novice. I’m rather choosy with what I select, and I do somewhat consult with a co-worker of mine of what he recommends what is good or what is not so good to follow on Netflix. I also purchased for the first time, an anime series on blu ray for the first time, thanks to my exposure to it on Netflix and that series is no other than Attack on Titan. But more on that later.

I try to compartmentalize my shows on dvds. blu-rays, and streaming by sub-genre. Usually I start with the adult oriented comedies, then some retro. New or newish super hero shows, streaming adventure shows and anime, and whatever is left on blu ray.

So here’s what I’ve been cartoon a la carte-ing the past few summer months.

Image result for american dad

American Dad – TBS first run episodes ARE finally up on Hulu!! I have not seen episodes of this show since it’s exodus from Fox Broadcast in 2014 to the greener pristine wash your mouth out with profanity fields of cable television. For some inexplicable reason, Hulu finally has available the last four seasons for me to catch up on. Since I don’t have cable, it’s either this streaming platform or MOD (Manufacture on Demand) discs to order off of Amazon that I can enjoy which is easily more slap down funnier than Family Guy any day of the week. The gang’s all here More penis jokes, more making fun of Francine’s Genitals, and more of Roger’s crazy gay alien alluded shenanigans than one can handle and I couldn’t be happier.

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Disenchantment Netflix is just days away from dropping on the service. So far, word is not so favorable on Matt Groening’s newest series since Futurama. We live in a Game of Thrones day and age. It wasn’t going to be too long until someone came along to capitalize on George R.R. Martin’s coattails with an animated series with similar somewhat themes. Futurama voice star-studded stalwarts, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, and John DiMaggio all have supporting roles in the upcoming in the 10 episodes of the inaugural season. Personally, I’ve seen the first episode and everything seem jake to me. David X. Cohen, a producer who was heavily involved with Futurama is working with Groening on this one, so I have every confidence that this one will be catapulting out of the Magic Castle park as a bona fide hit as well.

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Beavis & Butthead – the only cartoon I have come to appreciate with age. I’ve been milking the entire series collection (including the revamped 2005 series and the feature-length film, Beavis & Butthead Do America) for the past two years and getting a lot of mileage of it apparently. I only limit myself to a single cartoon helping a week.

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Rick & Morty – you haven’t really experienced life until you’ve experienced Pickle Rick. On the blu -ray of the newly released third season, Marilyn Manson & Courtney Love, Peter Dinkage & the creators of HBO’s Game of Thrones, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss all provide commentaries – which are just as much as a riot to watch along with. I had to double check. Initially I thought it was a joke, that the actors and creators Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland were going to do impersonations of those people – BUT it’s really them!  I’ve been a little late to the game. Wasn’t a big fan of the show at first, it wasn’t until I was watching midway through the second season, that I started pick up references to obscure sci-fi novels and I was realizing that these guys really vet and research their material. So now, under a different light, I look upon each episode as if Douglas Adams were pitching to Adult Swim an animated series version of as if The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had anal fucked Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and that awkward mating ritual somehow had resulted in this type of love child.

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Mike Tyson Mysteries – another crude Adult Swim alumni that I like to have fun with. I mean, who doesn’t find a masturbating porn perusing pigeon instantly adorable? Those who cower in actual fear of Tyson’s scary towering physique or misjudge his intellect, would probably be pleasantly surprised at Tyson’s twisted sense of humor. At least I know I am, because practically each 11 minute short episode is chockfull of crippling abdominal laughter.  I honestly didn’t think there was a third season completed, because I usually used to pair this off with the cancelled Black Dynamite series, but I was glad to see my black market dealer at a recent Los Angeles comic book convention had just handed over to me a double length bootlegged copy of the entire third season. 20 episodes should last me throughout the rest of the year.

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Big Hero: The Series. I’m confused. I was under the impression, that the Big Hero 6 movie was based on an obscure Marvel Comic, but yet, in this laidback beautifully colored background series (I didn’t really need a blu ray version of this at all, since the transfer of this to dvd is visibly vibrant with brilliant colors. Sometimes Disney delivers a good product, sometimes not), there’s absolutely no unfurling of the Marvel banner. The series creation is strictly credited to the four man writing producing team of Man of Action (Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, & Steven T. Seagle) who also brought us Ben 10, Generator Rex, and The Secret Saturdays. As of this writing, the opening two parter episode, “Baymax Returns” has been nominated for a daytime Emmy. Some episodes take risks in stretching the maturity level in character development, and some just fall flat as the villains get more and more dumb downed.

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Shazzan (along with Space Kidettes & Young Samson) Warner Archives MOD library now has all the good mid-sixties action adventure characters available for public consumption. (There’s still Space Stars, the mid-eighties reunion show for me to add to my collection, but I’m rather skittish about using my bank debit card to buy studio made materials even though I went all out and purchased every Jonny Quest title in sight a couple of years back), so luckily my local independent record store, Amoeba Records gets them in stock once in a while. So, last January, as a personal birthday present to myself, I splurged on this entire Shazzan collection along with the double feature collection of Space Kidettes and Young Samson (along with his pet lion Goliath that shoots laser beams out of his eyes), I still have a little Hanna Barbara nostalgia to knock back on. Alex Toth was a genius and sadly DC Comics weren’t around to expand their super powered heroes back then like they are now when these series all disappeared off the Saturday morning airwaves as 1970’s were heralding in Scooby-Doo, Hong Kong Fooey, and the Funky Phantom, otherwise, they’d probably be more regarded as household names by now. I recently heard that the current DC comic book series, Future Quest is on hiatus, but there are more cross-overs with DC superheroes still in the works.  The Shazzan was more of a 60’s psychobabble hoot than Toth’s previous creation than probably Space Ghost and Mightor combined. A genie’s omnipotence definitely has its’ privileges. I can’t imagine the Koran ever falling into the hands of these Arabian super-villains that keep popping up every 11 minute episode.  You never know what to expect what this giant djinn is likely to pull out of his ass when fighting evil sorcerers and despots. Those two brats, Chuck and Nancy – will they ever get back home after finding the true owner of their rings that summons Shazzan? Does one ever lead a flying camel to water? No??

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This is probably old news to you readers, but Warner Archive Collection also has released the entire WB Animation series of Static Shock across 4 double disc MOD volumes, along with The Zeta Project, which at the time was a spin-off of Batman Beyond in two MOD volumes. Both series were developed at the turn of the 21st century and were tried out as single discs during the time both series were in production, but I guess sales weren’t that really impressive, so for the longest time they were discontinued. Static Shock’s source material is based on the experimental urban centric DC/Milestone Media comic book, Static. In his own book, Static never mingled with any of the other DC Comics heroes such as Batman or Superman, but with his own animated series, he was integrated into the DC Animation Universe even hosting guest star Batman in three episodes, one of them even featuring Batman Beyond. Superman, Green Lantern, and the Justice League also chilled with Static aka Virgil Hawkins throughout his four season run.  The series garnered plenty of praise and platitudes from the industry, even earning a Humanitas Prize in the Children’s Animation category picked up by one of the late co-creator Dwayne McDuffie and producer Alan Burnett, plus a Daytime Emmy Nomination. Static Shock also featured a large African-American voice cast led by Phil LaMarr (who also did double voice duty as Static & Green Lantern in a few episodes) and had a good portion of prominent guest stars such as Alfie Woodward & Michael Jai White lending their voice talents.

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The Zeta Project, (Warner Archive) could be described as a animated version of the classic sixties television series, The Fugitive – except that the constant metamorphic weaponized android known simply as Infiltrating Unit Zeta is the one being constantly pursued by a cabal of government agents for reasons that he doesn’t want to do his job, which is to assassinate everything in sight. He is joined by a street tough 15-year-old runaway, Ro. Like I previously mentioned, The Zeta Project was spun off from a guest starring introduction episode in Batman Beyond. That episode had an entire completely different design of Zeta, that even when the time came for Batman to guest star in the Zeta’s first season episode “Shadows”, he’s entirely unrecognizable. The Zeta Project did not attract the same numbers as Batman Beyond’s audience and was immediately mercifully decommissioned after two low rated seasons.

After a viewing of the latest DC Universe Original Animated Movie, The Death of Superman, I noticed that one of the blu-ray’s special features included two long-lost episodes of 2006’s Legion of Super-Heroes 2nd season that used to feature Superboy in it. I was wondering why Warner Archive hasn’t released this to MOD yet. The first season was a little lackluster, but the second season upped its game with better character designs and a darker atmosphere, especially with the sinister sub-plot of Brainiac 5 succumbing to the traits of his evil future self to become one of Superman’s most formable foes.

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Justice League Action is a sort watered down safe for all ages Justice League Unlimited sequel that pays more homage to its rich 1960’s Silver Age’s heritage. The episodes are half the length of both its predecessors, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. I initially thought that it was going to be as stupid as Teen Titans Go! with its’ usual infantile fart joke demeanor, but I ended up liking some of these episodes, mainly because you have long time seasoned vet Batman: The Animated Series writer/producer Paul Dini involved with writing a good chunk of these 11 minute one offs. Justice League Action also brings in long-lost obscure Silver Age characters such as Space Cabbie (voiced by Patton Oswalt ) let alone offering its biggest selling point: Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill facing off again as Batman and The Joker (Hamill also as a special bonus, provides the voices for The Trickster and Swamp Thing as well for this series). Also Gilbert Gottifried reprises his role of Mr. Mxyzptlk from Superman: The Animated Series.  And don’t get me started about James Wood as Lex Luthor…

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Avengers Assemble: Secret Wars. It’s frustrating that Disney does not release season sets on dvd or blu ray of any of their Marvel Universe based shows. I refuse to go to iTunes just to order an episode at the piecemeal price of $1.99 – so unfortunately I have to rely on bootleg collector copies that I find at local comic book shows for $10. They all used to be on Netflix, but once Disney announced their plans for a streaming service, mostly all Marvel content including the Disney XD cable broadcast shows of Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, & Spider-Man with the exceptions of shows still contracted with Hulu and Netflix that are currently in production, every Marvel cartoon got purged. Hopefully, with the addition of the DC Universe announced streaming service original animated series (Harlequin and Young Justice), and perhaps following suit with their XD shows being available that same week of being shown on cable. One Marvel show I heard being made specifically for the yet to be announced Disney streaming service is based on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

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Now we come to my Netflix streaming block, starting off with the remarkable star-studded fantasy series, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. I’ve been watching an episode faithfully each week for close to a year now, and I swear, with each episode it gets more cleverer and cleverer. Netflix e-mail notifications kept badgering me about this series and it looked too below my age range to give it any serious consideration. So when I dismayed that I had no Marvel cartoons to watch, I sampled the first episode and ‘wow’, I said to myself, ‘what the hell have I been missing?’ The animation, the CGI, the clear writing weaving intricate involving plots, and ‘based on the book series’ by Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus and once it ends, it regenerates into a new series with new characters called 3Below slated to debut by the end of the year with another follow-up to debut after that in 2019 entitled Wizards. The amazing voice work entails of the last role of young Russian actor, Anton Yelchin before his tragically ended. Yelchin recorded most of the series, but was replaced in the final season by Emile Hirsch. Other noted thespian supporting voice work in supporting roles are provided by Kelsey Grammar, Tom Hiddleston, Clancy Brown, Mark Hamill, Tatiana Maslany, and Angelica Houston.

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The Hollow, sadly however is a polished turd. It started out great and brought back memories of The Secret Saturdays with its clever design of different creatures and backdrops – but it all started to go downhill during the middle of the episodes when a group of bad teenage protagonists admits to the good teenage trio group of Adam, Kai, and Mira that the world that they’re trapped in and are trying to escape is a virtual reality game, and sure enough, by the time you reach the tenth and final episode – they DO wake up as live action teenagers PLAYING a video game. Wow, I DID NOT SEE THAT  COMING. The one good redeeming quality that this show has is that lead actor Adrian Petriw (The voice of Tony Stark/Iron Man from the short-lived Iron Man: Armored Adventures a decade or so back) as the voice of Adam is still getting voice work out in Canada

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Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 6 & 7 (Netflix) soon to be joined, of which I think I’ve already said enough about in previous blogs is now on its next to last season seven, which just freshly debuted as of this writing. More upcoming Netflix series I’m interested in are Dragon Prince, the new CGI centric series by head writers Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, who collaborated on countless episodes of The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra which is slated to premiere next month on September 14 & the 2nd season of Kulipari: An Army of Frogs in October.

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Like I stated in my opening paragraph, I’m devoting some time to follow some choice anime. Netflix has been recommending to me the cool ones like the classic Fullmetal Alchemist, which ran for two years in the mid- aughts and produced 51 episodes, plus a spin-off series that I have no time to research here. When I get to that point, I’ll let you all know.

Image result for ajin demi humanJust for the record; my surrounding neighbors at the Casa de la Coatney give me oddball looks when they pass by and hear rapid fire Japanese dialogue pelting their ear drums caused by my stereo speakers.

Just so you know.

But not to be deterred, Netflix does cut deals with anime studios to produce their original anime contents. Two are absolutely outstanding:  Ajin Demi-Human, which is probably the next best apocalyptic violent supernatural based anime I ever seen since Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (and don’t ever fuck that up with a live action movie like Hollywood did with Ghost in the Shell) and B: The Beginning (Netflix), a murder mystery adventure equipped with super beings that returning for its second season in late October along with the second season of Castlevania written by popular comic book scribe Warren Ellis.

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I recently finished the 2nd season of Thunderbirds Are Go! on Amazon Prime via my comic book convention cartoon show bootlegger. Waiting for him to come through with the third.

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My blu ray combo on the 2nd season Attack on Titan and the fourth final season of  Star Wars Rebels (blu ray) usually winds up the end of a long broadcasting night – UNLESS there’s a DC Universe Original Animated movie to contend with, then I’ll usually go into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Attack on Titan is essentially an anime series that’s more than capable of giving me nightmares with a whole wide assortment of beastly hideous design work of those automaton giants. I see they’ve introduced a towering beasty enormous one who can actually talk. Star Wars Rebels’ parting is sweet sorrow, I didn’t like it as much as I did Star Wars: Clone Wars, which is smiliar in CGI style (and which is slated to make a comeback as a incentive to ensnare subscribers to the Disney streaming service), but it was certainly always a warm looking welcome on my HD-TV. And who doesn’t love Chopper?

I’ll be busy enough hopefully to contribute a new YES LOG entry since word dropped that Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman are on the verge of releasing a new concert blu ray. Perphaps I’ll get to drafting that right away – OR maybe a tribute band to Canadian rockers SAGA, or maybe…. I dunno, I make it up as I go along.

See ya next time.

The Not So Spring In Your Step Slappy Face Super Hero Show Soiree

31 Jul

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May Sweeps Ratings at the end of July? Surprising, if this wasn’t such a fucking wreck of a Geico Insurance commercial parody.

I don’t know what happened, but my main source of collating data – TV by the Numbers zap2it totally glossed over two weeks of very important Live + 3 and Live + 7 of both broadcasting and cable shows. I’m going to have to seek out better sites that are more accurate and more punctual in posting up the numbers.

I mean how the fuck is this race to the finish is supposed to turn out IF I don’t have the proper research tools??

I also blame the passing of Harlan Ellison that drained away my juicebox electroshock adreneline rush in posting this a couple of weeks ago. I had to go back and reminiscene something proper to honor his memory. I’m doing all this outlining from a café in San Diego that was kind enough to provide me with Wi-Fi so I’m able to crunch these numbers when I should be out there on the convention floor.

Congrats go in order for the cast and crew of Lucifer, who’s last minute reprieve has invigorated new life and new interest in a comic book based show that had the most IMPRESSIVE overnight ratings was declared D.O.A. by Fox just before the Upfronts were about to commence. The fan backlash was so overwhelming that Netflix stepped in and rescued it from the purgatory of canceled show obscurity. Now if my predictions come to fruition, we’ll probably be seeing more fleshed out episodes with a longer length that are not restricted to formulaic conformity, and no answering to those pesky gnat broadcast standards and practices.

So, if you’re about to fall asleep during my May Sweep analysis- the female cast of Lucifer will help perk you up.

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The 2018 May Sweeps officially took place between April 26th through May 23rd of 2018

Data from the weeks of April 30 – May 6 & May 14 – 20 in the categories of Live + 3 & Live + 7 are currently MIA.

Yep, it sucks to be me.

To hopefully compensate, at least in Fear The Walking Dead’s favor – I’ve included the basic 25 cable weekly rankings. Unfortunately, the broadcast comic book based shows no longer crack the top 25.

Not the biggest 18-49 gain, adding 0.9 to its initial rating. “Fear the Walking Dead” added the most viewers (1.5 million) this season.

Here are the top cable shows in the Live +7 rankings for April 23-29, 2018. Rankings include original programs only, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – total gain

3. FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC L +SD 1.0  L +7  1.6  7- Day Increase 0.6  7- Day % Increase 60%

31. KRYPTON SYFY L +SD 0.2  L +7  0.5  7- Day Increase  0.3  7- Day % Increase 150%

Adults 18-49 – percentage gain

6. KRYPTON SYFY L +SD  0.2  L +7  0.5   7- Day Increase  0.3 7- Day % Increase  150%

24. LEGION FX  L +SD 0.2  L +7 0.4  7- Day Increase  0.2  7- Day % Increase  100%

Viewers – total gain

1 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC L +SD (000s)  2713  L +7 (000s) 4212 7-Day Increase 1499 7-Day % Increase 55%

9 KRYPTON SYFY L +SD (000s)  598   L +7 (000s) 1676  7-Day Increase 1078  7-Day % Increase 180%

Viewers – percentage gain

2 KRYPTON SYFY   L +SD (000s) 598   L +7 (000s) 1676  7-Day Increase 1078  7-Day % Increase 180%

“Fear the Walking Dead” (+1.47 million viewers) posted the biggest gain of the week.

Here are the top cable shows in the Live +7 rankings for May 7-13, 2018. Rankings include original programs only, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – total gain

2 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC  L +SD  0.9  L +7  1.5  7- Day Increase 0.6   7- Day % Increase 67%

23. KRYPTON SYFY L +SD  0.2   L +7 0.5   7- Day Increase  0.3   7- Day % Increase 150%

25. LEGION FX  L +SD 0.1  L +7 0.4   7- Day Increase  0.3   7- Day % Increase 300%

Adults 18-49 – percentage gain

2. LEGION FX L +SD 0.1  L +7  0.4  7- Day Increase 0.3   7- Day % Increase 300%

9. KRYPTON SYFY L +SD 0.2  L +7 0.5   7- Day Increase 0.3   7- Day % Increase 150%

Viewers – total gain

1 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC   L +SD (000s) 2468 L +7 (000s) 3939  7-Day Increase 1471  7-Day % Increase 60%

10 KRYPTON SYFY  L +SD (000s)  529 L +7 (000s) 1523  7-Day Increase 994  7-Day % Increase 188%

Viewers – percentage gain

1 KRYPTON SYFY L +SD (000s) 529   L +7 (000s) 1523  7-Day Increase 994  7-Day % Increase 188%

12 LEGION FX L +SD (000s) 354  L +7 (000s) 746 7-Day Increase 392  7-Day % Increase 111%

The season finale of “Krypton” on Syfy didn’t draw a lot of eyeballs to its initial airing — it earned just a 0.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 558,000 viewers.

It gained quite a bit, however, with a week of delayed viewing. “Krypton” pulled off the rare feat of quintupling its 18-49 rating, rising to 0.5 after seven days of catchup. It also more than doubled its total audience, to 1.47 million.

Here are the top cable shows in the Live +7 rankings for May 21-27, 2018. Rankings include original programs only, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – total gain

12. KRYPTON – F SYFY  L +SD 0.1  L +7 0.5   7- Day Increase 0.4   7- Day % Increase 400%

Adults 18-49 – percentage gain

1 KRYPTON – F SYFY  L +SD 0.1   L +7 0.5   7- Day Increase 0.4   7- Day % Increase 400%

20. LEGION FX L +SD  0.2   L +7 0.4   7- Day Increase 0.2   7- Day % Increase 100%

Viewers – total gain

Viewers – percentage gain

1 KRYPTON – Season Finale SYFY L +SD (000s) 558 L +7 (000s) 1468 7-Day Increase  910  7-Day % Increase 163%

15 LEGION FX L +SD (000s) 409  L +7 (000s) 797  7-Day Increase 388 7-Day % Increase  95%

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WINNER WINNER SWANSON’s TV CHICKEN DINNER to best performing cable show based on a comic book property goes to…. the new more powerful than a streaming engine locomotive… KRYPTON!!   Accepting this award will be Brainiac.

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Congratulations!

Fourteen shows grew by at least 100% in the 18-49 demo after seven days of playback. “Agents of SHIELD” (0.4 to 1.0) and “iZombie” (0.2 to 0.5) had the biggest percentage bumps, growing by 150 percent each.

Here are the broadcast Live +7 rankings for April 23-29, 2018. They include only first-run series and specials, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

10. THE FLASH CW L +SD 0.6 L +7 1.3   7-Day Increase 0.7   7-Day % Increase 117%

21. AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC  L +SD 0.4  L +7  1.0   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 150%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

1 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC  L +SD 0.4   L +7 1.0   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 150%

2. IZOMBIE CW  L +SD 0.2  L +7  0.5   7-Day Increase 0.3   7-Day % Increase 150%

4 THE FLASH CW L +SD  0.6   L +7 1.3   7-Day Increase 0.7   7-Day % Increase 117%

11. SUPERGIRL CW  L +SD 0.4  L +7  0.8   7-Day Increase 0.4   7-Day % Increase 100%

12. RIVERDALE CW  L +SD 0.4   L +7 0.8   7-Day Increase 0.4   7-Day % Increase 100%

13. ARROW CW L +SD 0.3   L +7 0.6   7-Day Increase 0.3   7-Day % Increase 100%

Viewers – Total gain

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Viewers – Percentage gain

2 ARROW CW L +SD(000s) 867 L +7 (000s) 1741 7-Day Increase 874 7-Day % Increase 101%

3 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC    L +SD(000s) 1682   L +7 (000s) 3170   7-Day Increase 1488 7-Day % Increase 88%

4 THE FLASH CW    L +SD(000s) 1899   L +7 (000s)  3507   7-Day Increase 1608  7-Day % Increase 85%

5 IZOMBIE CW    L +SD(000s) 681  L +7 (000s)  1248   7-Day Increase 567   7-Day % Increase 83%

7 SUPERGIRL CW    L +SD(000s) 1384   L +7 (000s) 2468   7-Day Increase 1084   7-Day % Increase 78%

11 RIVERDALE CW    L +SD(000s) 1166  L +7 (000s)  1973   7-Day Increase 807  7-Day % Increase  69%

23.LUCIFER FOX    L +SD(000s) 2818   L +7 (000s) 4369   7-Day Increase 1551   7-Day % Increase 55%

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WINNER, WINNER, SWANSON’S TV CHICKEN DINNER GOES TO….. MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD

Here are the broadcast Live +7 rankings for May 7-13, 2018. They include only first-run series and specials, not repeats.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

25. THE FLASH CW L +SD 0.7   L +7 1.3   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 86%

26. AGENTS OF SHIELD  ABC  L +SD 0.5   L +7  1.1   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 120%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

3. ARROW CW  L +SD 0.3   L +7 0.7   7-Day Increase 0.4   7-Day % Increase 133%

4 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC  L +SD 0.5   L +7 1.1   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 120%

14 THE FLASH CW  L +SD 0.7   L +7 1.3   7-Day Increase 0.6   7-Day % Increase 86%

25. RIVERDALE CW  L +SD 0.4   L +7  0.7   7-Day Increase 0.3   7-Day % Increase 75%

Viewers – Total gain

Viewers – Percentage gain

3 RIVERDALE CW    L +SD(000s) 1001   L +7 (000s) 1901   7-Day Increase 900   7-Day % Increase 90%

4 THE FLASH CW    L +SD(000s) 1741   L +7 (000s) 3261   7-Day Increase 1520   7-Day % Increase 87%

7 ARROW CW    L +SD(000s) 1057   L +7 (000s) 1911   7-Day Increase 854   7-Day % Increase 81%

8 AGENTS OF SHIELD ABC    L +SD(000s) 1940   L +7 (000s) 3434   7-Day Increase 1494   7-Day % Increase 77%

13 IZOMBIE CW    L +SD(000s) 778   L +7 (000s) 1288   7-Day Increase 510   7-Day % Increase 66%

22. SUPERGIRL CW    L +SD(000s) 1595   L +7 (000s) 2545   7-Day Increase 950   7-Day % Increase 60%

25 GOTHAM FOX    L +SD(000s) 2212   L +7 (000s) 3479   7-Day Increase 1267   7-Day % Increase 57%

tvdin11

WINNER, WINNER, SWANSON’S TV CHICKEN DINNER GOES TO…. ARROW!

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Here are the broadcast Live +7 rankings for May 21-27, 2018. They include only first-run series and specials, not repeats.

Two CW shows, “iZombie” and “The 100,” had the biggest percentage gains of the week.

Adults 18-49 – Total gain

8. THE FLASH – F CW  L +SD 0.8   L +7 1.5   7-Day Increase 0.7   7-Day % Increase 88%

14. SUPERGIRL CW  L +SD 0.4   L +7 0.8   7-Day Increase 0.4   7-Day % Increase 100%

21. IZOMBIE CW L +SD  0.2  L +7  0.5  7-Day Increase 0.3   7-Day % Increase 150%

Adults 18-49 – Percentage gain

1 IZOMBIE CW  L +SD 0.2  L +7  0.5  7-Day Increase  0.3   7-Day % Increase 150%

5. SUPERGIRL CW L +SD  0.4   L +7 0.8   7-Day Increase 0.4   7-Day % Increase 100%

9 THE FLASH – F CW  L +SD 0.8   L +7 1.5  7-Day Increase 0.7   7-Day % Increase 88%

Viewers – Total gain

14 THE FLASH – F CW    L +SD(000s) 2160   L +7 (000s) 3731   7-Day Increase 1571   7-Day % Increase 73%

23 SUPERGIRL CW    L +SD(000s) 1504   L +7 (000s) 2438  7-Day Increase  934   7-Day % Increase 62%

Viewers – Percentage gain

2 IZOMBIE CW    L +SD(000s) 648   L +7 (000s) 1188   7-Day Increase 540   7-Day % Increase 83%

5 THE FLASH – F CW    L +SD(000s) 2160  L +7 (000s) 3731  7-Day Increase  1571   7-Day % Increase 73%

7 SUPERGIRL CW   L +SD(000s) 1504   L +7 (000s) 2438   7-Day Increase 934  7-Day % Increase  62%

tvdin11

WINNER, WINNER, SWANSON’S TV CHICKEN DINNER GOES TO……iZOMBIE

Top 25 broadcast shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for May 7-13, 2018

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Top 25 broadcast shows in Live +3 viewers for May 7-13, 2018

The MTV show moved into the top 5 among adults 18-49 with a 1.8 rating after three days of delayed viewing. That’s up from 1.0 the night it aired. It also added 1.2 million viewers to improve to 2.96 million, second-best on cable outside of sports and news. “Fear the Walking Dead” (3.62 million, +1.15 million from live + same-day) was the only entertainment show with a bigger total audience.

Top 25 cable shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for May 7-13, 2018

6 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC L +3 18- 49 rating 1.4  Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5  % gain vs. Live +SD  56%

Top 25 cable shows in Live +3 viewers for May 7-13, 2018

5 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC L +3 viewers (000s) 3,620  Gain vs. Live +SD (000s)1,152   % gain vs. Live +SD 47%

Top 25 broadcast shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for April 23-29, 2018

Top 25 broadcast shows in Live +3 viewers for April 23-29, 2018

“Fear the Walking Dead,” went up from a 1.0 to a 1.5.

Top 25 cable shows (including ties) in Live +3 adults 18-49 for April 23-29, 2018

7 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC   L +3 18- 49 rating 1.5  Gain vs. Live +SD 0.5  % gain vs. Live +SD 50%

Top 25 cable shows in Live +3 viewers for April 23-29, 2018

5 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC   L +3 viewers (000s)3,895   Gain vs. Live +SD (000s)1,182   % gain vs. Live +SD 44%

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Below are the Live +7 18-49 total-viewer rankings for the 2017-18 TV season. The numbers below reflect only original airings of shows and do not include episodes coded as specials. The rankings also exclude episodes that aired outside the regular season (Sept. 25, 2017-May 23, 2018), irregularly scheduled programs and summer 2017 shows that aired episodes in season.

74 The Gifted FOX 5,919 2,554

87 Lucifer FOX 4,964 1,668

102 Inhumans ABC 4,136 1,578

104 Gotham FOX 4,090 1,556

107 The Flash CW 3,941 1,726

110 Agents of SHIELD ABC 3,702 1,625

124 Supergirl CW 2,992 1,133

127 Black Lightning CW 2,855 1,122

133 Legends of Tomorrow CW 2,473 968

134 Riverdale CW 2,451 1,080

137 Arrow CW 2,147 932

143 iZombie CW 1,323 567

Image result for luke cage season 2

Buoyed by the Netflix debut of Season 2, “Marvel’s Luke Cage” shot up to No. 5. The action series, which last week was ranked No. 16, had 6% more demand expressions

In its’ debut week, Luke Cage Season 2 (June 24 – June 30) shot straight to the top spot with 30, 976, 416 total viewers out of all original digital content then slipped two places to 3rd place the following week (July 1 – July 8) with 28, 174, 767 viewers. The third week July 9 – July 15), slipped to 5th place with 20, 563, 153 viewers, and finally in its’ fourth week, slipped one notch to 6th averaging out to 19, 329, 189 viewers, which was close to it’s debut night of June 22.

In the week leading up to Independence Day on July 4, we see that Marvel’s Luke Cage has made a sizeable gain in demand compared to last week – the action series was ranked #5 last week and increased +63% following its release on June 22. Luke Cage’s companion Marvel’s Daredevil also made an appearance in the digital originals chart this week; it was previously ranked #13.

Information provided by Parrot Analytics. This is the method I usually mold towards my viewing habits for all Marvel shows that drop with thirteen episodes. The third week of watching I increase the number of episodes from 3 to 4, so I can balance out the following week.

Summer based comic book shows are in full swing, some with early announcements of renewal. News from San Diego Comic Con International erupted with the news that Iron Fist season 2 will in fact debut on Netflix this September 7th with Typhoid Mary as the featured main baddie and the stunning debut of….. the green track suit and yellow bandana mask.

ABC/Freeform Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger has also been renewed despite plunging viewership since its’ debut. Wynonna Earp who started her third season this week has already got the go ahead for a fourth season on Syfy. No news on a 4th season for AMC’s Preacher OR a 3rd season for Cinemax’s Outcast that’s based on a Robert Kirkman penned Image Comic.

There’s a whole plethora of comic based properties invading the streaming airwaves including DC just launching its’ own $75.00 a year service just to fucking contain it all.

I’m keeping track of it- until my damn dying breath. See ya next time.

Calling Out From the Earth, Sky Screaming Back No Name

12 Jul

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The news hit me like a proverbial pillow sack full of soda cans in the face at precisely 12 noon give or take a minute or two when my go to Hollywood way of life website Deadline announced this past June 28th that Harlan Ellison had shifted off the immortal writer’s coil. It’s hard to imagine how things in Los Angeles would turn out for me creative and professional wise if hadn’t been for a phone call he once placed to me sometime in 1994. At that time I was chugging along with daytime duties at a Farmer’s  Insurance office and moonlit on the side as a manager and closing shift clerk at a comic book store in North Hollywood of which I had a financial stake in. AND EVEN ON THE SIDE OF THAT I was contributing letters to the Oh So? Section of the weekly Comics Buyers’ Guide newspaper (and later on, articles and Comic-Con PR pieces that I actually got paid for!) and was down in San Diego frequently attending monthly meetings for the Comic Con International Staff when I was a volunteer for the Pro Registration department (and was later made department head of the small press area).

Harlan phoned me when I had gotten back from a lunch break at the insurance office which usually consisted of me going over to the comic book store, to get the money together from out of the cash register and make a bank deposit. My stepmom, Alice and her third husband Dan Hunt owned both businesses in case any of you were failing to see the connection. That out of the blue phone call from Harlan stopped me dead in my tracks, I was sitting around farting all day filing claims and force notices while harping on a decision to enroll as in a Farmer’s Insurance study course as a underwriter in which Dan was pressuring me to do in case this comic book store business went belly up (which it actually did a decade later). The first words out of Harlan’s mouth and into my phone receiving ear , ‘are you the guy who’s been writing these long-winded unique letters to CBG?’

Thinking it as a joke, I played along? Why the fuck of all people would Harlan Ellison be calling me? Oh, how I wanted to scream, but my mouth was dry and paralyzed with fear.

I admitted yes. And he then pressed on to scold me ‘what’s with the real long name?’ Yeah those letters to the CBG Oh So section used to go by the moniker of Cary William-Shannon Coatney. People were starting to think that it was a two-man writing team or a husband/wife kinky kind of thing. I told Harlan that my middle name with the hyphen in it was a whacked out amalgamation concocted by my mom of actor William Tyrone that she had the hots for when she was a kid and the Irish title of my grandfather, Harold Shannon, who was one of three people who invented Bosco chocolate syrup back in the late 30’s and early 40’s.

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Harlan chuckled at it, then he told me to ditch it, ‘because you’re only to going to confuse people with that long name – It’s not going to look good on a cover of a book!’. The real reason he called me that day was for one of the letters I wrote complementing his then just released Dream Corridor anthology series that Dark Horse that he was producing rendered by too many artists to mention and was under the editorship of Anina Bennett. I said something along the lines of ‘if you’re reading Dream Corridor by Harlan Ellison, then you’re my best friend for life’ and he kind of liked that. He went over the rest of my letter and pointed out what he liked and didn’t liked (looking back at it, it did kind of meander all over the place) and he closed by telling ‘you know kid, you’ve got this unique voice of expressing what you need to say, so why aren’t you writing full-time?” I told him I had something I wrote during a time while I was homeless in San Diego that I just needed an artist to help draw it. He interrupted to chide me further ‘well, get it done and make sure you send me a copy’ and then I spontaneously asked him: ‘if I ever do reach that professional writing plateau that you think I should reach for, is there any chance I could script and adaptation of “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” for you in Dream Corridor?

“Fuck, no” he snarled and then he abruptly hung up.

Eventually down the line, I shortened my ‘professional’ writing name from Cary William-Shannon Coatney to Cary W. Coatney, and in indomitable Ellisonesque (I just made that word up) style, I explained to the Comic Buyer’s Guide Oh So? letter section readers that I had my middle name secretly assassinated by highly trained SEAL team snipers concealing themselves like ghost dogs perched in a palm tree. The world bought it and I soon embraced the professional world with a new easy to digest abbreviated name.

So Harlan’s words resonated with me through the rest of the decade, even when I introduced myself to him at some of the signings he would be at, specifically at the long lamented Dangerous Visions, a store in Sherman Oaks along Ventura Blvd that was named in his honor (where he once propped himself in the storefront window with a desk and typewriter as sidewalk onlookers would curiously watch him pound out a short story or two) of an award winning science fiction anthology book that he edited and I caught hime at the Old Golden Apple store on Melrose Ave in the heart of the Fairfax district for a signing of the Dream Corridor special. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of his at first. I don’t think I heard much about him growing up in New Jersey other than I knew his name from Star Trek and a movie based on his “A Boy And His Dog” novella which I had first seen shown at my college campus in Randolph, NJ one rainy afternoon in the rec center. I remember comic book adaptions of his appearing in Epic Illustrated (Marvel Comics answer to Heavy Metal Magazine) that was later collected as “Night and The Enemy” with artist Ken Steacy. Honestly, the only thing I read as a teenager of Harlan was an introduction he wrote of a hardcover Doctor Who novelization collection of Tom Baker episodes for a science fiction book club of the month selection that I was once a member of. And when I first moved out to San Diego, I remember seeing him on a car commercial in which he was referred to as a famed futurist  Other than that, nada. I only became of a fan of him after he became a fan of my stuff in CBG.

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Later that year in 1994, whilst I was attending a Friends of Lulu meeting, chairwoman of the Los Angeles chapter, Deni Loubert had just received word that Harlan suffered a major heart attack and had to immediately go under the knife for quadruple bypass surgery. That following weekend when I heard the news, I went down to San Diego for a staff meeting, I bought a gigantic get well card of an ape picking his nose or something (and to add to the cute picture,  I drew a pile of crap under the ape’s legs and labeled it as a ‘gift for Gary Groth’ (comic book industry professional inside story) and got everyone at that meeting to sign it and I sent it out. A week later someone from Comic-Con International later called me and told me that Harlan was vividly pissed when he received this big oversized card. I didn’t press on for a specific reason and I’m sure, after making a full recovery, he would’ve been hunted me down and knocked me down on my keiser if he had found out it was me. And I would’ve been hiding from him in plain sight too for he never knew, that for a decade between the years 1993 through 2004, I was living in a house directly down the hill from him in Sherman Oaks.

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So I devoured a good handful of Harlan’s short story and essay collections, I had at least bought the only four books in the White Wolf publishing series that reprinted his early works (there were supposed to be 31 volumes, but they never materialized) some paperback collections, and the massive Essential Ellison collection, the fiftieth edition. I used to have the thirty-five year edition, but I passed that on to my father. I seemed to have gravitated more to Harlan’s essays than his short stories or novels, I enjoy the  chronicling his life’s experiences and reminiscing about his rocky childhood in Cleveland (jeez, what kid never fantasied about running away and joining the circus- well, HARLAN actually did!)  and all the variegated hats he wore throughout life before settling down to write full-time. The ones that piqued my interest more are the ones about the media and the mechanics of what went on the behind the scenes of shows that he wrote for. He certainly had Marshall Mcluhan’s back when it came to matters of knowing how media affected the public. In terms of his own singular vision,  if one thing didn’t go the way he wanted or was changed so drastically from what his original vision was supposed to convey or was shit on all over by the unconventional studio, but half ass expected rewrite – OFF went his name and substitute script massacring hit man  Cordwainer Bird was dispatched in Harlan’s place. Strange that a public dossier never existed on this man (and he was certainly NOT in the Writer’s Guild’s database) WELL, that’s because HARLAN made him up as a pseudonym, just like Richard Bachman would do for Stephen King. Cordwainer Bird was also the creator of the 1973 low-budget Canadian sci-fi series, “The Starlost” (based on Harlan’s s Phoenix Without Ashes short story) that I used to watch on my local NBC station every Saturday night when I was nine years old. Only I never made the connection back then.

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Harlan was capable of helping  people with troubled love life without anyone finding out about it.  It was an essay that I perused through my copy of the Essential Ellison that I shall always cherish forever in my heart and credit in becoming instrumental in achieving my revenge against amateur porn actress, Rikki Lixxx that I used to share a tumultuous relationship with. Not to get into specifics here, as you may have bore witness to past blog entries, but Harlan’s masterpiece essay, “Valerie: A True Memoir” should be absolute canon on how every man should handle a con artist or grifter of a female persuasion who walks unexpectedly into one’s life, both cunningly and non-violently. It’s a glorious detailed memoir of how Harlan got even with a female con artist who ripped him off of his wallet and credit cards and chased her up north to San Francisco in order to get them back. It definitely mirrored what had gone wrong with me in my relationship when my favorite fake titty fraud walked into my life, got intimate with me, thought she was entitled to some fucking reward after she sucked my dick, OF WHICH I NEVER ASKED HER TO. When I refused to be intimated, she resorted to breaking into my house while I was out working to ‘borrow’ a credit card and ran off to treat herself to a stripper pole that cost $140 bucks (tax included) and later had put on a sham show to make it look, I lost my card while visiting. Pulled aside and told by a neighboring witness said her story doesn’t check out and saw her break into my apartment with a hairpin in my lock. Confronted her about returning my money. She refused and then war ensued. Remembering a similar situation had happened to Harlan back in the 1960s, I consulted the mighty oracle of  the”Valerie” essay and it motivated me to seek my revenge by getting her arrested for being a public nuisance and unfortunately also, for reasons whatever I was denying myself to admitting at the time, but I suspected some prostitution going on, and I was sure as shitting right: Van Nuys Vice sniffed around and picked her right up. She ended up getting two months in jail. That would’ve paid off that $140.00 and then some.

However, I never got around to calling Harlan about it to personally thank him.

The one time I did call Harlan was back in 1999 or 2000, just as I was starting work at Warner Bros. I was disillusioned with Comic Con International and was the under the impression, that I would wind up being the Small Press Coordinator as in, forever! When it didn’t pan out, a librarian with the downtown Los Angeles Public Library by the name of Eugene Mandelcorn who also an interest in comic book professionals and amateur filmmakers wanted to launch a mini-one day comic book festival for kids and teens, they would be preceded by local workshops at local branches moderated by local artists such as Rueben Gerhard (Lava), Javier Hernadez (El Muerto) and Rafael Navarro (Sonamblo) to accumulate in a major gathering at the beautiful downtown Library where they were lectures, workshops, and signings. Eugene recruited me to help organize and brainstorm of whom to grab as headline guests. The first one I helped out was with Michael Davis and Denys Cowan, the creators behind Static Shock, the Peabody award winning animated show based on a teenage African-American super-hero. The second one I got Harlan Ellison to come down and speak, and the final one I e-mailed Rich Fogel to come down and give a presentation on Justice League. The fourth and final one involved Stan Lee, which included no involvement from me. Eugene could’ve worked that one out for himself.

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However, I remember being up in Eugene’s office downtown throwing out ideas on who make a great headlining guest, and I suggested Harlan Ellison.  Eugene paused from throwing a tennis ball back and forth to himself and he said: “Harlan Ellison? Why him?”

I explained to Eugene, bending my fingers downward to drum my point’ well, he sort of does mentor young children- a local friend of mine from Santa Monica told me that he used to pack up a gang of kids from the Sherman Oaks and Encino area and give them rides down to the San Diego Comic Con back in its’ infancy. He’s no stranger to the world of animation, having done voice work on Scooby Doo & Freakazoid cartoons, and if I recall, I saw an episode of the recent Silver Surfer animated series that he wrote. He’s written comic books, a few issues of Avengers, Incredible Hulk, and Batman here and there, and Dark Horse printed an anthology series in his name called Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, but most important of all he’s a fantastic lecturer and motivational speaker. He’ll get kids picking up pencils to write and draw in no time!”

Eugene was sold. He simply gushed at the idea.

“How do we make this happen?” Eugene pressed on.

‘You call him up.’, I said.

Eugene look startled. This seemed to be a new and exciting concept to him as he stammered wildly ‘but how?’

“He’s in the fucking phone book.”

Eugene shook his head as if he were in awe of Christopher Columbus coming to him with fake news that the world was indeed, flat. But I rowed him to shore with this sudden not so secret reality of life in the San Fernando Valley:

“All comic book professional names are in the phone book: Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, you name it, they’re in the white pages.”

I continued; ‘you look nervous. Do you want me to make the call? I’ve spoken to him on the phone before.’

Eugene raised his hand in salute and signaled the go ahead.

So that night, or the next day around 8 ish at night. I called Harlan.

Actually make that, I got a crotchety Harlan.

The phone call went like this:

“Hey Harlan. It’s Cary Coatney”

Harlan: “who?”

“Cary Coatney, the guy who used to have a very long name in the pages of Comic Buyer’s Guide and you told me to cut it down?”

“No, not really. What is it that you want?”

“Well, I’m representing an event called the Teen Age Comic Festival taking place at the downtown Los Angeles Public Library on this such and such date and we want to know if you’d be interested in being the headline speaker. It’s being sponsored by the Walter Lantz Foundation. Now, you do know who Walter Lan-”

Uh, oh. Wrong turn in Ellison Wonderland.

“Of course, I know WHO Walter Lantz is!”

Goddamn, good thing I didn’t say anything about Woody Woodpecker”

Then Harlan machine-gunned me with the minuate details: “Where is it? What time will it be? Who else is scheduled to speak there?”

Suddenly, I was getting nervous. I don’t think Harlan isn’t quite going to be in the mood..

and Harlan continued..

‘..Is Rob Liefeld going to be there? Because I won’t do it if Rob Liefeld is going to be there. That lightbox tracing punk is going to be the death of the comic book industry…”

“Does that mean, you’ll do it?”

“For the Walter Lantz Foundation? Of course I’ll do it!!”

I gave him Eugene’s number to call and to let them hammer out the details. And the next thing I know, Eugene is calling me back late that night and I could probably tell that he was white with shock on the receiving end while praising me “I can’t fucking believe you pulled that off! Harlan told me that he wouldn’t miss giving this lecture for the world. He says loves influencing kids to be creative and to write!!”

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It turned out to be a memorable day. Harlan came to the library and give a good PG rated pep talk of his usual off the wall schtick in an auditorium full to capacity with children and adults alike, came out to the lobby to sign books, and stayed throughout a good portion of the event, and I think he lingered longer than he expected when he spotted Mark Hamill  showing up in his disguise as Documentarian Professor Donald Swan to shoot some bonus footage for his mockumentary: Comic Book, The Movie. Later, I was hanging out at the entrance to the library with the fabled voice actor Billy West doing some Moe Howard impersonations for me when Harlan came peeling out of the parking garage in a van and screeched his tires as he took a sharp turn on 5th Street. I guess Harlan was in a hurry to get home that day after all.

There’s a whole bunch of odds and ends that I could go on and on about Harlan, like the book signing at Pink’s Hotdogs, other calls I made, and one particularly a voice message Harlan left with my editor on the Deposit Man at the time, Mark Capuano congratulating me on taking the reins and self publishing my first ever issue (he never said he liked it or not, simply he was glad that I did it) , books I’ve sent to him in the mail (always accompanied with a self-addressed envelope with proper return postage), loaning him $60.00 for his lawsuit that he filed against AOL that he never paid back, but that’s ok. What’s sixty bucks to a guy these days affording his own apartment on 50k a year anyways? I was proud to be living in the same town of Sherman Oaks as a world-famous writer of  Harlan’s caliber and his post office box was just down the street from my house, which was where I always mailed my Deposit Man comp copies (Postmaster: Oh yeah, Harlan Ellison? He picks up his mail here!). I wrote more about the Pink’s Hotdogs signing here in case some of you are interested. 

Well, wherever Harlan is right now, I’m sure the reaches of his imagination have already beaten him to the rendezvous point. He’s just headed there to organize the troops of more than 1700 essays, short stories, television, comic book and movie scripts, and reviews of more movie and television shows, along with his various numerous writing awards and Emmys and such and is simply setting up shop at his new office digs at the corners of Purgatory and Shatterday to appease the masses of the afterlife.

 

 

I Suppose There’s A Little Bit of A Gentle Giant In All of Us

29 Jun

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One of those things that hasn’t clicked with me since my teen years in pursuit of progressive rock greatness is a band formed at the tail end of the sixties (1970) hailing from Portsmouth, England by the name of Gentle Giant. I only listened to a few albums scattered here and there such as Octopus & The Power & the Glory that I bought at a second-hand drug store in Lake Parsippany for 2 buck in the album clearance section, I haven’t really ravaged followed their concept album exploits much as I ravished pursued Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, ELP, and Jethro Tull. And now smack dab into my mid-fifties, I’m beginning to learn just how brilliant they were back in the day.

No thanks to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, and solo artist fame. As I have explained countless times in the past; Wilson runs a job on the side as a remix engineer of classic albums by Yes, XTC, Marillion, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson in modern state of the art 5.1 surround sound when he’s not out crafting beautiful songs and concept albums. The recent “Three Piece Suite”  is Wilson’s third outing in re-engineering the Gentle Giant sound with their 4th album Octopus released in 1972 and their sixth released in 1974 entitled the Power and The Glory. This time, however – Wilson tackles the first three albums: 1970’s self titled album, 1971’s sophomore effort Acquiring the Taste, and the early 1972’s Three Friends – but only gives the final polish to selected tracks from those albums to sort of form a long-playing suite with dazzling video accompaniments – if you happened to have splurged for the blu ray edition (It’s also available as a plain CD). IF you DID splurged for  the same blu ray edition as I did, you get the full three albums included in the bonus section (NOT remastered by Wilson) AND 5.1 remixes of the instrumental versions of all the songs (for those who can’t handle Derek Shulman’s sporadic jumping around lead vocals) and a rare virtually unheard of track called “Freedom’s Child” that was recorded for some UK record pre contract compilation.

I have a distant memory of the time when I spent my 1978 summer in Laguna Beach when I heard the new single of “Giant For A Day” being played on FM radio while staying at my aunt’s house, but I was too busy discovering Van Halen’s debut album (which I vividly remember buying a cassette copy down the street from my aunt’s house in Westminster, California at a neighborhood Licorice Pizza) , Rush’s Farewell To Kings , Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horse, Foreigner’s Double Vision, and two Yes cassettes I picked up at the long defunct Record Shed along the Pacific Coast highway called Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer to give it any real serious consideration. I ended up listening to the entire album when I checked it out at my local library in Lake Hiawatha after I unfortunately had to come back to New Jersey to enroll in high school.

Giant for a Day initially didn’t grab me. Neither did Octopus.

I generally think that I was way much too young to understand it. Come to think of it, NOT a lot of Frank Zappa’s instrumentals didn’t really whoa me over back then either. I just became a fan of Frank Zappa because it sounded funny when he used profanity in lyrics.  But looking back at it along with a multitude of  a lot of other progressive rock bands that applied a heavy dose of organic and multi-instrument sounds (think Camel, Caravan, Fairport Convention; etc; etc – that whole Canterbury jazz rock sound scene) is much more appreciative and relaxing as you mellow with age, as you’re no longer pursuing that majestic grandiose mellotron chord in the sky.

Now in my mid-fifties, I need something easy-going in my musical pursuits. And now that I have in possession this Three Piece Suite, along with Octopus blu ray I bought last year now has a new profound proclamation for me.

Gentle Giant is my missing piece (if you pardon the 1977 album pun) in my arsenal of progressive rock perusal perfection. I’m usually spending my lunch hour these days these going over old youtube performance and discovering some of those whole albums I missed out during grade school and mid-high. Gentle Giant had pretty much called it quits during my sophomore year of high school.

I have no logical explanation as to why they click with me now, other than Porcupine Tree founder Steven Wilson’s infatuation with them and mixing their back catalogue in 5.1 surround sound like he does with other influential progressive acts such as Yes, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. Other than purchasing a cassette copy of Power and the Glory at a record store in Encinitas in lieu after I had seen a progressive rock tribute at the La Jolla Conservatory of Music that played a rare video concert performance of the song “So Sincere” and wanted some documentation of that event. My boss at the vitamin packaging factory that I slummed at for four years in Solana Beach had told me he was a fan of them back in the day, even saw them sell out a tour billed with fifties do-wop tribute band Sha Na Na and Gentle Giant was the opening act. AND it had only cost $2.00!  Years later, one of my collaborators on the Deposit Man sent me a taped copy of the live album, Playing the Fool and I think basically that was all I needed on the band at the time.

So here’s what I’ve learned about the band from a casual stroll through wikipedia  :

Three founding members were brothers: Phil, Derek, and Ray Shulman – first known as Simon Dupree and the Big Sound.  Derek is the crazy sporadic vocalist who sings melodies in odd syncopated repetative naunces and phrases – like if avant-garde composers John Cage (if he were alive today) or Phillip Glass had needed a vocalist in their minimalist approach to composing , Derek would certainly be on top of their speed dial  For some reason there is still no one on this earth to this day who can imitate him. Ray is a violinist and bass guitarist who went to even bigger fame as a record label executive who discovered and signed Dream Theater to the Atlantic family of labels and produced The Sugarcubes. Oldest brother Phil was a multi-instrumentalist, pulling anything from his musical anal repetorie such as a alto sax, a clarinet, percussion, a xylophone and doubled on mellotron and keyboards. He had quit the band after touring for the fourth album entitled Octopus and is the oldest living progressive rock musician still living to this day at 81 years of age that I know of.

Ad placements in Melody Maker lured keyboardist Kerry Minnear, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music (just like fellow alumni Yes and Strawbs‘ Rick Wakeman) forefront to the majority of the writing of most of the band’s eleven studio albums along with Ray Shulman.

There were three drummers with the group, first was Martin Smith who later was replaced by Malcolm Mortimore after the first two albums, but only to suffer injuries from a motorcycle accident after the recording of the third album, Three Friends and was replaced by John Weathers, who was wise enough not to get on a motorbike and remained with the group until their final studio album, Civilian. Incidentally, Malcolm Mortimore tours to this day as the drummer in a Gentle Giant tribute band (who actually knew there was one?)

Guitarist Gary Green was recruited from the beginning and remained through the entire decade long run and even recorded with UK founder/Roxy Music/ Jethro Tull/Yes keyboardist Eddie Jobson on his Green Album solo album released in 1983. I’ve had that album for so long, I never made that connection until this very day. Occasionally, Gary Green contributes here and there to current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood’s solo projects (and there are too many this day to keep an accurate count).

Kerry Minnear currently handles all re-issues for the band, unreleased material special projects, and live bootleg concerts, and Steven Wilson’s 5.1 remix project through his label, Alucard Music.

Gentle Giant once got booed offstage at a Black Sabbath concert at the Hollywood Bowl only to return a year later selling out their Octopus tour.

Tony Visconti, who produced the first two albums went on to worldwide acclaim as David Bowie’s producer and collaborator for most of his output in the seventies and eighties and returned for his final three albums with Blackstar being Bowie’s last in 2016. Visconti also had a hand in producing The Moody Blues’s last platinum selling album, The Other Side of Life in 1986, along with their two follow-ups Sur La Mer in 1988 and The Keys to The Kingdom in 1991. Tony Visconti recently produced the first The Damned album recorded in 10 years entitled Evil Spirits released just this last April.

The components that make up the sound of Gentle Giant music are as follows: (paraphrasing through Wikipedia)

  • multi-part vocal harmonies
  • complex lyrics
  • organisation into concept album form (on occasion)
  • frequent changes in tempo
  • frequent use of syncopation and non-standard time signatures, including polymeters (two or more time signatures played simultaneously)
  • use of complex melodies, frequently contrasting harmonies with dissonance
  • extensive use of instrumental and vocal counterpoint
  • use of musical structures typically associated with classical music (for example, madrigal form on “Knots”, fugal exposition in “On Reflection” and the consistent use of stated, exchanged and recapitulated musical themes exchanged between instruments)
  • use of classical and medieval instrumentation not generally associated with rock music
  • polyphony
  • hocketing
  • unusual chord progressions
  • breaking up and tonally re-voicing patterns of initially simple chords (with the chords subtly altering from repetition to repetition)
  • accelerating and decelerating duration of musical themes
  • rapid and frequent key changes (sometimes within a single bar)
  • division of vocal lines between different singers (including staggered rhythms)
  • clever handling of transitions between sections (such as a hard-rock guitar riff being immediately substituted by a medieval choral)

To reiterate:  In 2017, “Three Piece Suite” was released. It contained tracks from the first three albums: “Gentle Giant” 1970 “Acquiring the Taste” 1971 “Three Friends” 1972. These tracks were re-mixed by Steven Wilson from the available multi-track tapes. Some songs from the first three albums were not included in the set as the multi-tracks for those specific songs have been lost. The set was available as a CD of the re-mixed songs and a Blu-Ray disk. The BluRay disk had 96/24 Stereo LPCM and DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound versions of the re-mixed tracks, additional bonus tracks, instrumental versions of some tracks, and Original Album Mixes from Flat Transfers of Mint Condition Original LPs. There were also new video animations included on the 5.1 Surround tracks. This release came packaged as a single Digipack with the two disks, a 16 page booklet, new artwork and was approved by the band for release.

Last year during a trip to Las Vegas, My sister, my long time friend from high school Mike Zullo, and I went on a birthday spending spree for me over at Zia Records which is in the same category of great record store stratosphere as Amoeba is out here in and Lou’s Records down in Encinitas going towards San Diego and I stumbled across the Octopus 5.1 remix package and immediately threw it in my shopping basket along with other prog related oddities and rarities.

Having not heard the quirky a cappella “Knots” since the time I left New Jersey as a young adult, hearing it in 5.1 in surround speakers was a recent aural exploding experience in 5.1 stereo with the individual voices panning from speaker to speaker, and Jeez, Minnear’s piercing stabbing piano chords on top of it. Holy shit. I should have pursued being a total fan all along.

Below are some of the Blu ray images from the 5.1 Octopus remixes by Steven Wilson.

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That come equipped with fun scrolling Gentle Giant musical facts

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…contributed by the band members themselves. Yeah, it’s really nothing to write your local aquarium about. It’s just a little octopus swimming around while the music plays. It’s a whole homage to the Christmas Yuletide Log Channel on Demand (Hey, junior! Can you throw another octopus into the fish tank?)  Hopefully Wilson will give 1973’s In A Glass House a quick 5.1 surround sound Windex cleaner polish.

Next up: The May Super Hero Show Sweeps Slugfest.

 

 

MY 2018 DIARY OF NOTHING IS EVER REALLY FREE ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY – THE CHILLING CLIMAX

1 Jun

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I’m surely and slowly getting there – but as of last count in my previous three installments, we reached the very ripe young age of 42 Free Comic Book Day editions that I have personally inspected and analyzed for you, to let you know that it is safe to proceed with the last remaining 10, COUNT ‘EM 10 – 10 books left in the stack to read.

My employers were kicking me out of the office early last Friday and I couldn’t quite get around to reviewing two books that I had read that previous night. Hopefully, with the completion of this last chapter, I’ll be on my way on a luxury cruise to going back to my regular bank man’s blogging holiday of posting two blogs a month.

Since my office was closed this past Memorial Day, I won’t have time to delve into a little history of my local comic book shop, Earth 2 here in Sherman Oaks, California. I can still remember as if it were yesterday when the tiny little shop started by Hollywood producer and Starlog magazine contributor Carr D’Angelo first opened his doors in 2000 when I only lived a few short blocks away at a house once owned by Wizard of Oz’s Tinman Jack Haley. I would need at least half this blog to gush over Carr’s achievements and contributions he has made to the local comic book retailer community.

Thursday May 24th DISNEY PRINCESS (Joe Books Ltd) IMG_2550Submitted in Letterbox for your approval, much like how Image Comics did their sneak peek of Barriers. This book is absolutely meant for the little princess in your life. It’s a running gag series of four grid cartoons mashed together, with a lot focusing on Ariel’s inability to carry on tune or playing hooky on her undersea music lessons. Boys won’t like it. That’s what SpongeBob Squarepants is for.

Thursday May 24th MIRACULOUS (Action Lab)IMG_2551I’ve been curious about this series since I’ve seen scores of DVDs in Target, and it always to find its’ way in the suggestion queue of my Netflix animated section. But after exposure to this issue, I’m glad I don’t partake. This more growing girl stuff than I can handle. Ladybug and Cat Noir hardly don their costumes. I did enjoy the preview of Sami, the Samurai Squirrel in the back. Perhaps one day it could give Usagi Yojimbo a run for its’ money.

Saturday May 26th RELAY #0 (Aftershock Comics)IMG_2585Remember last year, I was bitchin’ and moanin’ of how local comic book publisher Aftershock didn’t participate in last year’s FCBD festivities? This year, they certainly made up for it, by offering this preview of Huffington Post contributor Zac Thompson & Judge Dredd comic strip artist Andy Clarke’s sci-fi opus, Relay with story contributions by Eric Bromberg and Donny Cates, whose name I see mainly associated with a few Marvel Comics here and there on the Venom series. It’s intriguing main plot deals with an interstellar farmer who tries to teach an alien race to irrigate and cultivate a food supply on a desolate planet that come with tragic consequences, such as being worshipped as a god when one doesn’t want to be. The main series (the book doesn’t specify if it’s an ongoing or mini-series) starts in July.

Aftershock puts out some great quality products. I’m a great fan of their Rough Riders min-series, and I had to budget to spare, I’d be scoffing up a lot of their titles which is sort of like Vertigo Comics started out in its’ infancy. PLUS – they are my local publisher here in Sherman Oaks, just a stone’s throw away from Earth 2 (and please don’t throw stones at Earth 2. You might break a window. And that would Carr very mad), and they’re located in nice sprawling skyscraper in the cool part of the San Fernando Valley off of Ventura Blvd, WHERE I used to work for Paramount Pictures tallying up box offices totals, and it was once the location of where an agency sent me to my first gig at Warner Bros. So lots of history in that building for me as well.

 

Saturday May 26th DIE KITTY DIE I Love You to Death (Chapterhouse)IMG_2586What if Archie Comics had a steamy slutty one night stand with Harvey Comics? Probably the result would be this. Veteran Archie Comics artists Dan Parent & Fernando Ruiz come up with some really silly scary stuff that would make even Sabrina, The Teenage Witch running an oriental massage parlor to even blush. Love the Charlie Chaplin and Charles Manson cameos. Wish I had I thought of that mash-up while I was writing my Deposit Man comic book. My memory is a little clouded, but I think I encountered the Kitty character in a few FCBD editions a few year back, but I’m not sure Chapterhouse was the publisher back then. It’s quirky fun with teenage monsters in the mature teen arena of social commentary made popular today by the Riverdale show crowd.

Saturday May 26th OVERWATCH (Dark Horse Comics) IMG_2587I know I give most of the video game based property offered this year a hard pass, but the Dark Horse Comics’ licensed book written by Andrew Robinson & Joelle Sellner and art by Kate Niemczyk is an unexpected surprisingly different and fun read. Heavily armed Russian assassin Sgt. Aleksandra Zaryanova is dispatched on a world-wide mission to bring to justice someone who tried an assassination attempt on a high KBG official, who also happens to be a dangerous hacker. Unbeknownst to her, they have paired her with a robot assistant who turns out to be an overbearing pain in a ass. Unfortunately for the back up feature, I’m a Black Hammer virgin. This is officially my first exposure to the much-lauded Eisner award-winning galore fest written and created by Jeff Lemire, and boy, I’m going to have to rectify that gapping oversight in my ever comic book consuming past time this summer at San Diego and haul home some of those back issue trades. Because I don’t want to feel left out for too long.

Monday May 28th INVADER ZIM (Oni Press) IMG_2588Invader Zim is a cartoon I have yet to see an episode of. Is it on Hulu? Is it on Netflix? I dunno. I’m going to have a little extra cartoon watching time this summer with my Fox favs, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy all on hiatus for a few months, so this might occupy me until their new seasons begin. Invader Zim is created by Jhonen Vasquez, the same indie mastermind behind Johnny the Homicidal Maniac – which would not be a cartoon safe for kids. However, both of Vasquez’s creations share the same demented qualities, as Zim is heck bent on conquering and subjugating every thing in his path. This issue although blah I thought in its’ execution, i.e; too much going on in the artwork provided by Warren Wucinich did a good thing in reminding me about this blog I wrote from a couple of years expressing my disdain for anyone bingewatching their favorite television streaming series and the attempt to eye gobble it in one sitting is not in the best interest of your health and social inadequacies. So message received.

Monday May 28th MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS – Shattered Grid (Boom! Studios) IMG_2589I didn’t even bother with seeing the fucking movie last year, so of course I found reading this a complete and utter bore, which is what I totally expected before diving into this. What I couldn’t stand most about it was the whole Jim Starlin Cosmic Marvel mode it made an instant beeline for with the Silver Surfer clone. A lot of the story tries to make sense of  twenty-five years of mindless children television canon we’ve so painfully endured in the past on the Fox Kids Channel.

Monday May 28th THE ONLY LIVING BOY (Papercutz)IMG_2590 I would assume that editor Jim Salicup, other than resembling more and more like David Letterman and getting out of the Smurfing business, is expanding his line’s horizon and this excellent sample comic book of THE ONLY LIVING BOY needs no introduction. Apparently, I arrived way too late for the launch of this series created by David Gallaher & Steve Ellis which has proved in 20 short pages to be par excellence in what little boys crave for in adventure. In parts, it’s a great homage to Hanna Barbera cartoons such as Jonny Quest, Dino-boy, or Samson and Goliath, and I can detect a twinge of Secret Saturdays in it too. It has freaking dinosaurs, abhorrent villains, friendly cavemen and damsels to the rescue rather the other away around – and in other parts, I see it’s a gigantic love letter to Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth.  I love it and I don’t even know the premise of the entire thing. It’s just goddamn wonderful to look at. I’m so freaking far behind that I see advertise a 400 page omnibus. Better put it on the San Diego Comic Con International Christmas wish list.

Tuesday May 29th THE TICK (New England Press) IMG_2592What is a Free Comic Boy Day without a free Tick comic book? Well, when back in the old FCBD days, when I used to hop one Los Angeles area comic book shop to another, The Tick ones have always been under ordered.  New England Press, however has a solution to that – you can backorder any FCBD edition of the Tick that you may have missed just for the price of postage with the help of their inside front cover ad (make sure you photocopy it first before you go fumbling for the scissors to clip it out – which is a terrible idea if you want to keep your front cover intact).  The show I’m watching currently on Amazon is nothing like the comic you read or the cartoon that used to run on Fox Saturday mornings back in the mid-nineties- not a lot of Ben Edlund’s original comic book issues never used such salty language as The Terror (portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley – the original Tinman’s grandson) does and the whole mature audience approach takes a little getting used to. I may dedicate a entire blog to it after I’m done watching the second half of the freshman season. But for those craving the Fox cartoon version, such as I, then this is the book for you. It has new stories featuring the Tick channeling his inner Robert E. Howard in a fevered dream that winds up of all places at a Renaissance festival, the Tick helping out a pizza delivery boy which defies all explanation, and closes out with the Tick becoming best man at a friend’s wedding, who’s getting cold feet or not only skipping out on his bride to be, but is not really forthcoming of being an actual super-hero.

Tuesday May 29th THE METABARON – BOOK 3 THE META-GUARDIANESS & THE TECHNO-BARON (Humanoids Inc) IMG_2594Did I ever tell you the story about the time that Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to get a 12 hour movie version of Dune off the ground and every studio practically laughed at his face, but yet his unseen version adaptation of the late Frank Herbert classic was ripped off practically by every famous filmmaker in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg & Ridley Scott when it came time to release their classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Alien. Read my fascinating discovery of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune here. Humanoids does fabulous hardcover novel reprints of Jodorowsky’s collaborations with Moebius and Manuel Moro. Those titles, in the Jodorverse include the Incals, Exo, and The Technopriests. This is a new story featuring the world of the Metabarons contributed by writer Jerry Frissen with eyepopping art by artists Valentin Secher and Mukesh Singh, based on Jororowsky’s story. It’s like a cross between Heavy Metal’s Den and Barbarella. The graphic that these pages previews is coming out in September.

And that’s a wrap. See ya at next year’s Free Comic Book Day!!