Thursday, January 23, 2014

Coming Soon: Judy of the Jungle

I'm editing a projected series of three pdf e-books for NUELOW Games reprinting the "Judy of the Jungle" series from 1947 - 1949 issues of Nedor's Exciting Comics. The series is a great example of the Jungle Girl adventure comic genre that thrived during the 1940s; Judy didn't exactly break new ground, but the art and writing has weathered the passage of time better than most of her contemporaries.

You can take a look at the possible covers here. (And while you're visiting the NUELOW Games blog, this post may be of interest if you're a gamer, as it has some RPG rules inspired in part by Judy.

With most of these series, there's invariably a panel or sequence of panels that I notice become funny if taken out of context. With Judy, it's an entire page. The page that introduces her, in fact. But I'm not sure if it's funny or creepy.

First off, Judy seems to be wearing make-up and a cocktail dress... in a hut that she shares with her father in the deepest, darkest African jungle. That's a bit weird--but not as weird as the fact that she wears that dress for most of the series. (It becomes tattered as time goes on.)

But there's nothing weirder (or more disturbing) than the vibe that Panel Three excudes. No wonder Judy's dad thinks he's made a mistake and it's time for his daughter to go somewhere else, where there are other men. (Click on the image of a more readable version, one that will show you that the text does not make the drawing any less skin-crawlingly disturbing as I thought it might when I read it.)

I should say a little about the process by which we select the comics that get revived in NUELOW Games editions -- just because the comment about thinking Panel Three might be less disturbing when I read it might make more sense.

Step One: My partner (L.L Hundal) or I suggest a character or comic strip to the other that we like. The other person takes a quick glance at a couple sample stories --and sometimes even just a couple of pages. At this point, we just look at the art, because when it comes to comics, it the art isn't appealing, you lose readers right then and there. If we agree the art is good, the we put the material on the "Maybe." (In the case of "Judy of the Jungle," the title alone made it a "Maybe" and insured her a place in at least one ROLF! product.

Step Two: I do research to determine that the series in question is in the Public Domain. If there are trademark complications (such as with Black Cat), I make a note of it to make sure Hundal knows to be careful about presentation if I end up not being directly involved in a project for whatever reason when it comes to deciding what title it should be published under. (For example, we will never be able to just do a book called "Black Cat," even if we can publish Black Cat stories and fiction to our heart's content. As can be seen in numerous of our products.

Step Three: I either read the entire series (if it's one of the very short-lived ones that we favor due to their obscurity), or I read the first installment, followed by a random selection of one or two later chapters. If the writing appeals to me, we note the series for future use in one of our comics/rpg projects. (Sometimes, this approach backfires on us. I completely misjudged "Rocket Man" and "Lady Satan" because of this. The art for the most part remains high quality on both strips, but the writing is absolutely horrid on many stories after the first few. For this reason, I'll be writing new "Rocket Man" scripts for future issues of Science Sleuths.)

Step Four: We process the comics pages, assemble books, write new material, edit, publish... and hope that some folks out there think the stuff is as cool as we do.

(And then there's Step Three-Point-Five... where I make posts like this. Hundal doesn't like it when I sometimes poke fun at the comics were:) )

If you've read this far, maybe you'll also like to take a look at NUELOW Games's comics selections. Questions, comments, or reviews -- feel free to leave them here or at DriveThruComics in the comments section.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New from NUELOW Games: 'Real American No. 1'!

The latest project I've completed for NUELOW Games is one I think it more worthy of attention than most of the ones I've done. It's a little book collecting episodes from Dick Briefer's ahead-of-its-time superhero series "Real American No. 1."

Comic Books: Making Fun of Bigots Since 1941

"Real American No. 1" premiered in Daredevil Comics #2 and ran as a back-up feature there until #11. Starring the Bronze Terror (who secretly is Jeff Dixon, a "full-blooded Indian" and successful attorney devoted to fighting for justice inside and outside the courtroom), "Real American No. 1" drew heavily on troubles facing Native Americans in the modern era for its background and conflicts. There wouldn't be another series like it again until the 1970s, with the arrival of characters like Marvel's Red Wolf.

NUELOW Games' Real American No. 1 contains the four best of Briefer's Bronze Terror stories (as selected by yours truly) and a roleplaying game presentation of Jeff Dixon and his girlfriend Lilly Weaver for use with ROLF!: The Rollplaying Game. By way of a preview, here are the splash pages for the included stories; I hope you'll check it out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saturday, January 4, 2014

You might want to avoid 'Chinatown After Dark'

Chinatown After Dark (1931)
Starring: Rex Lease, Billy Gilbert, Carmel Myers, Barbara Kent, and Frank Mayo
Director: Stuart Paytom
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

Jim Bonner (Lease) tries to unravel the mystery of his brother's disappearance, while being hounded by an incompetent police detective (Gilbert) and a sinister Chinese criminal mastermind (Myers).

There a scraps of interesting story elements scattered throughout this poorly written, unevenly paced, wretchedly acted,, and badly staged Yellow Peril-style thriller. Most fascinating to me was the casual yet nasty racism on display when the chief homicide detective assigns the investigation of the murder of a well-to-do Chinese man to an officer he states won't be able to solve the case.

Although I reference a mystery in my summary above, there are actually three different mysteries in the film, none of which are handled very well. First, the reason why the villain wants the Chinese dagger is the film's first focus is revealed way too early. Second, the disappearance of the hero's brother (and the hero subsequently coming under suspicion of murder) would easily have been resolved by the hero doing to the police--something which he never really did not have a reason to do, other than there wouldn't be a movie. Third, the question of "how will the hero clear his nane?" was never really a question, because of the ineptitude with which the two previous questions have been handled.

Watching this film, I repeatedly found myself saying, "that would make an interesting story" as some plot nugget or off-hand reference came and went on the screen. Unfortunately, that interesting story is not found in "Chinatown After Dark."

What is also not really found, since this film headlines Carmel Myers, was the elaborate costumes that I imagine some of the audience went looking for. Although little known today, Myers was a huge star during the Silent Ere who was known for wearing spectacular and exotic outfits in her films. Here, while she is midly exotic in her look, there is nothing particularly amazing about her costume; I suppose, in some ways, that can be taken as a reflection of how her star steadily faded after she made her transition to talkies.

I think this film is probably only of interest to hardcore lovers of old films... and even then, you probably don't need to rush to see it. But, if you have nothing better to do, you can watch it right here, right now by clicking below.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome to the first Picture Perfect Wednesday of 2014....

... welcome to the Year of Ann Miller!

Each month for all of 2014, Ann will make an appearance honoring a special day, like, for example, New Year's Day. We hope you'll check back regularly to see what day she shows up on.

Why is this the Year of Ann Miller, you ask? Why not? (If there must be a reason, we could say it's in observation of the 10th anniversary of her moving onto that great dance floor in the sky.)

But while we wait for Ann's next appearance, hope you have a Happy New Year and that 2014 is nothing but smooth sailing for you. Olga San Juan is setting a course toward a great year!