Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Halloween is coming...

... and Etchika Choureau wants to protect her new friend from all the ghosts and goblins that are going to be popping up. Or maybe she's just protecting the candy inside?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

'Up in the Air' has strong cast and weak script

Up in the Air (1940)
Starring: Frankie Darro, Mantan Moreland, Marjorie Reynolds, Tristram Coffin, Lorna Gray, and Dick Elliot
Director: Howard Bretherton
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

When the obnoxious singer (Gray) headlining a radio station's anchor program is murdered, Frankie (Darro) gets his friend Jeff (Moreland) to help him find the killer. Along the way, he tries to fulfill his dreams of stardom while also helping a beautiful young singer (Reynolds) to become the program's new headliner.

Jeff (Moreland) and Frankie (Darro) prove themselves not ready for prime-time.

"Up in the Air" is a film where the cast is doing there very best with weak material. Darro and Moreland are great together--as they are in every teaming I've seen so far--and the other performers are also at the top of their game. If only more effort at been put into the script, as well as the set-piece musical performances by Lorna Gray and Marjorie Reynolds, this could have ranked among Monogram's best efforts. It's always a shame to see actors giving it their best but being undermined by weak material.

I think the film is still worth seeing if you are a fan of either Frankie Darro or Mantan Moreland, and a must-see if you like them when work together. One part of the film that I'm curious about is the "minstrel show" sequence where Frankie and Jeff are trying out for a spot on the radio show. Their routine is intentionally embarrassing--and even more so when viewed through 21st century eyes. Given that black-face was already falling out of favor by 1940, I wonder if that medium wasn't chosen to make Frankie and Jeff's comedy routine seem even more hackneyed and bad.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

NUELOW reveals the lives of Fantomah

Many comics fans will tell you that Wonder Woman was the first female superhero. Others will tell you that it was Phantom Lady. True masters of trivia will tell you it was the Woman in Red.

Truth is, they're all wrong.

The first female superhero, Fantomah, saw print in Feb. 1940, in the pages of Jungle Comics #2.

Created by writer/artist Fletcher Hanks (working as Barclay Flagg), the earliest "Fantomah" stories carried his trademark powerful character type dishing out extreme supernatural justice against evil-doers. Here's a splash panel from one of the early Fantomah stories that tells you everything you need to know about her -- other than her habit of turning villains into strange creatures or dispatching them violently. Oh -- and her own ability to turn into a terrifying skull-faced Furie when angered.

The "first life" of Fantomah
Unlike other Hanks creations, Fantomah continued past his involvement with the strip, evolving as it passed through the hands of other creators (working under the name W.B. Hovious). The surreal, macabre flavor that Hanks brought to most of his work faded quickly from the series, and for a time Fantomah was not very different from jungle girls, such as Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.

Fantomah, with Ken and Fury, during her "second life."
Eventually, it was revealed that she was the lost ruler of the City of Khefra, and for the final 20 or so episodes of the series she ruled justly while fighting off challengers to her throne. As she claimed her inheritance, the last vestiges of the powerful magic she had once wielded seemingly faded forever. The series came to a close in Jungle Comics #51.

The undead stalk Fantomah, Daughter of the Pharohs, during her "third life."
NUELOW Games has just released The Three Lives of Fantomah: Book One. It contains four of Fletcher Hanks' best Fantomah stories, as well as one by "W.B. Hovious," all spotlighting Fantomah during her "first life" as a vengeful demi-goddess. The book also contains an all new OGL Modern/d20 System prestige class and related feats that set out to capture the unusual nature of Fantomah's development over the course of her series.

Like most of NUELOW Games' releases, it's co-edited by yours truly, and I am also responsible for the game design. I hope some of you will check it out and let me know what you think.

And, of course, I hope you'll like it well enough to come back for Books Two and Three!

Friday, September 19, 2014

'Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day, me hearties!

NUELOW Games is celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day with the release of an anthology featuring two comics adventures of Lila the Corsair Queen, and Robert E. Howard's classic pirate tale "Isle of Pirate's Doom."

Click here to see previews or to download your own copy of the book, which also includes a handy guide to pirate vocabulary.

 By way of further preview, here are a couple sample pages...