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PCR Archives 2002
PCR Archives 2001
PCR Archives 2000
Crazed Fanboy homepage
Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2002!

La Floridiana
Matt's Rail
WooWoo Express
The Enlightenment
Deadguy's Dementia
Movie Review
Mike's Rant
(Links listed above indicate "final edition" status.)

Michael A. Smith's
The Omnipresent M. Smith homepage and Email                    

Matt Drinnenberg's
The Masters of Horror

Terence Nuzum's
Viddywell Productions

William Moriaty's
T.R.E.E., Inc.

Patty G. Henderson's
The Henderson Files

Established A.D. 2000, March 19.  Now in our third calendar year!
   Number 100 (Vol. 3, No. 8). This edition is for the week of February 18--24, 2002.
100 issues of PCR!
This Week's Milestone.
Two-year anniversary in 4 weeks!

Waylon Jennings revisited
Olympic scandal; Gruden in Bucs
Horror in Georgia
The Top 10 Comic Books of all Time

Nolan's Pop Culture Review is nearly 2 years old. Altho this week marks the 100th issue, we won't actually have our second birthday party for 4 more weeks. And because we started in the spring of the year 2000, this marks the third calendar year for a rag that's not quite two! Funny how the numbers add up when you're weekly like that.

Waylon's history revised
Last week's issue started out slamming the Buc's head coach fiasco and wound up focusing on the more poignant passing of one of our most beloved country music stars. Unfortunately, in our zeal to express ourselves, Will Moriaty and I may have inadvertantly mixed facts with traditional fictions while eulogizing this man and his memory. Please see Michael A. Smith's corrections, Will Moriaty's retraction, and my comments in, "Not a Cricket?", in the Lettercol, this issue.

Sports World Shake-ups and Scandals
Of course, as a Tampa native and resident, the (literally) 11th-hour hiring of Jon Gruden as the new Bucs head coach was a welcome relief to my ears, after the ridiculous comedy of errors over the last several weeks since Tony Dungy was fired. Around this same time, the story broke of a shocking Olympics scandal that was too depressing to believe and very discouraging. Please see an excellent write-up on both of these news items, plus a little on the Enron scandal from our own Matt Drinnenberg, in this issue's very powerful Matt's Rail, one of his all-time best.

Horror in Georgia
Deadguy's Dementia, by Michael Scott, returns with this issue, albeit on an irregular basis. First up is this story, which he made me promise to hush up any "coming soon" details about so he could explode with an exclusive on his own page. Wish granted. Mike, who now has access to a computer and the internet after a looooong hiatus, also contributes his top ten comics list, which launches this issue, below.

A hearty Happy Birthday and many happy returns to Will Moriaty who turns 47 this Sunday the 24th. Will and I go back to high school together. And we''ll keep going back until we get it right!
The Return of the Britton Cinema! OK, this is mostly for Tampa residents. My long-time "local bijou", which closed for good last year under the old ownership has been taken over and may re-open as early as mid-March! The consortium responsible is called the Entertainment Film Works organization (one member has roots in the Bay area), they have 17 theaters nationwide with a plan to open 50 more in the next 18 months. They refurbish existing theaters that were abandoned during the over-expansion crash of the last couple years. I may even try to part-time there, I'm so freaked. This means I can see movies for free much more regularly!!

La Floridiana This week's issue
La Floridiana by William Moriaty
There's A Monster on the Beach (alternative title "Here Comes OLE' Three Toes)
The First Sighting: It is a starry February night in 1948. At about 3:30 A.M. on this night, a couple making kissy-face in their car out on Clearwater Beach get the fright of their lives. Some "thing" breaks out of the surf of the Gulf of Mexico and walks several hundred yards along the beach in the inky blackness. Nearly hysterical, they flag down a policeman. By the break of daylight the officer and local residents see tracks along the same stretch of beach, the likes of which no one had ever seen before... ............Click here for more.

Matt's Rail This week's issue
Matt's Rail by Matt Drinnenberg
....it really doesn't get much better than the Winter and Summer Olympics. .....flabbergasted by the cruelty of the pre-determined judging.....
O' "LAY"
From the Olympic treachery to that of the financial world, as it pertains to Enron.....
GLAZERS ABSOLVED!!!! Sometimes the best you can hope for is that the people ruining your favorite team stumble around in the dark....by now you surely know Jon Gruden is the new Head Coach of our beloved Bucco's... ............Click here for more.

The Enlightenment This week's issue
The Enlightenment by Terence Nuzum
The Holy Blues, a contradiction.Blues that preach the word of God,the Gospel. The Gospel blues and the blues itself derived from the same sources, it was the singers that chose different paths. To understand this blues must be viewed as a musical form and not lyrical expression. While Robert Johnson sang "Me and the Devil" gospel blues singer Blind Willie Johnson sang "John the Revelator". Both musically the same, yet lyrically different.... ............Click here for more.

Murder on the Woo Woo Express New Column!!
Murder on the Woo Woo Express by Patty G. Henderson
Nolan's Pop Culture Review welcomes Tampa author and old fan friend Patty G. Henderson to our hallowed halls. I think you'll find her reviews of her favorite mystery books, and those submitted to her, very interesting and informative. I, myself, am rather under-developed in mystery, so I'll be learning a thing or two with you. First up: "Ammie, Come Home"! ............Click here for more.

Movie ReviewMovie Review
The Oscar rundown
Mike Smith was the only PCR contributor to post his Oscar nomination guesses this year. While I'm still smarting over that, let's try to give him some competition around the time of the Awards, shall we people? In the micro-seconds I have left to edit the PCR this week, I'm going to try to find the final list and see how Mike did... ............Click here for more.

Deadguy's Dementia The Return!!
Deadguy's Dementia by Michael Scott

Bodies in Georgia: "I felt like I was in a horror movie." Anyone else catch the news about all them dead folks over in a city called Nobel in northwest Georgia? Just in case no one noticed, there's a guy over there at "Tri-State Crematorium" that's found a new way to cut his operating costs. Unfortunately for him, it's illegal, but surprisingly, not as illegal as you might think.... ............Click here for more.

Mike's Rant This week's issue
Mike's Rant by Michael A. Smith
PLUS, A communication from Corey Castellano responding to Mike's question about "The Planet of the Apes" Oscar snub! ............Click here for more.

Top 10 comics of all time
Rick Sousa's challenge.
   Nolan here---Yeah, I thought it sounded easy enough. Name your top ten favorite comics of all time, right? That's what Richard Sousa challenged the PCR readers to a couple issues back. I figured it'd be simple enough, especially after he clarified his rules last issue. As it turns out, it may have been a bit presumptuous on both our parts. Since then, I've been belted by millions of qualifications-type questions.
   First, Will Moriaty thought we were talking about comic strips from the daily paper, i.e., "Blondie", "Fox Trot", et., al.  Then, later, I was reminded of online-only strips. These are all worthy artworks, but they are not comic books.
   Then, Mike Smith (altho I think he was kidding) asked if we meant stand-up comics like Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and the like, since I never said "books". (Rick loves that one, Mike)
   Matt Drinnenberg tried to angle a way to involve monster magazines, because that's what he's into now, but I nixed that, those simply aren't comics.
   Soon after, the PCR terror-twins, Drew Reiber and Terence Nuzum, took me to task for not including graphic-novels and one-shots. Did it have to be a regular-sized book, did I just mean to emphasize a character from the book, is it era-specific, etc., etc., etc.

OK, here's the poop...
Guess I remember a simpler time. The last 20 or so years have brought sweeping changes to the way comics are perceived. There are many subtle layers to it now. So, for this challenge, anything goes, with two exceptions:

TWO EXCEPTIONS: The spirit of the challenge was targeting newsstand/comic specialty shop comic-books (a la spinner-rack type), so we're still postponing anything having to do with the daily newspaper strips or online-only strips until a later date (they're not being trivialized or ignored). Why that is important is the personal commitment and investment involved on a fan level is completely different for the latter two categories than to the former, and not comparable, in my opinion. I'm caving in to the graphic novels and one-shots, however, send 'em in. If you absolutely must include an exception, please put it in with your "honorable mentions". for now.---Nolan

  THE TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME       Richard Sousa

10 --"Hate" by Peter Bagge...Buddy Bradley and his family and friends put the "FUN" in "Dysfunctional"!!!
9 --"ZAP" by Robert Crumb, Spain Rodriguez, Rick Griffin, etc....A classic..still have all the originals that I bought at The Gold Bug head shop in Tampa, WAY WAY back...
8 --"Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" by Gilbert Shelton...Same as above, although the subject matter is kind of dated now, still laugh out loud funny...
7 --"Eightball" by Daniel Clowes...Lots of cool stuff in these books, but also where he introduced "Ghost World", a great story...
6 --"True Artist Tales" by Scott Gilbert...Not because I know the guy, (why not?) but because he draws from the heart.... profound and moving,with a unique style..
5 --"Billy Dogma" by Dean Haspiel...Hilarious yet thought-provoking story of a superhero who lives in an apartment with his girlfriend, and never gets a break in life...
4 --"Too Much Coffee Man" by Shannon Wheeler...A surreal superhero, but only in the sense that he has a costume and plenty of caffeinated attitude...a good read, and a good laugh...
3 --"Batman-The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller...One of the FINEST interpretations of the superhero genre I have ever read...Moody, vibrant, and made you think "He could be a real person"..This is the movie they should have made...
2 --"Strangers in Paradise" by Terry Moore...Beautifully drawn, well thought out story of two girls (who may or may not be) in love with each other...runs the whole gamut of emotions from funny to sad, all the while telling a well-crafted tale of relationships and friendships gone awry...
1-"Love and Rockets" by Los Bros. Hernandez...Anything by these guys is the shiznit...A Latino-flavored soap opera of epic proportions..strikingly drawn characters that anybody can relate to...some sci-fi, but mostly reality-based, intricate stories that, taken apart, stand well on their own..classic comic drawing style, and they can draw some babes!
Well,there you go Nolan and Co...as always,I'll be checking out the next PCR for an excellent read..Keep up the good work,folks!
All the best, Richard Sousa
  THE TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME       William Moriaty
1. BATMAN AND DETECTIVE: As illustrated by Gene Colan (absolutely stunning work) from 1981 to 1986, followed by Carmine Infantino from 1964 to 1967 (Detective only, bi-monthly--definitely brought a new dimension of action to the Caped Crusader), Neal Adams from 1969 to 1971 (arguably the most mysterious renditions for the series), and Bob Kane (through ghost artists Dick Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff from 1939 to 1964).
2. SUPERMAN, ACTION AND WORLD'S FINEST: As illustrated by Curt Swan from the late 50's to the early 70's. No one drew Supes better than Curt Swan!
3. THE FLASH: As illustrated by Carmine Infantino from 1958 to 1967. No one has drawn a more action-like Flash since.
4. HAWKMAN: Murphy Anderson's style was equivalent to greats like Wally Wood and Virgil Findley and this DC action series of the 1960's best captured Anderson's artistic genius.
5. SPIDER-MAN: When I first saw Steve Ditko's art style back in the 60's. I was totally slack-jawed.
6. CAMELOT 3000: This DC mini-series of the 1980's was beautifully scripted and drawn.
7. HOWARD THE DUCK: Masterfully and hilariously scripted by Steve "Baby" Gerber, this comic featured a myriad of artistic greats including Gene Colan and even Carmine Infantino. Favorite phrase-- "Wah, what's the use!" Favorite villains-- The "Kidney Lady" and "Sun Moon Yuk" ("I'm "Sun Moon Yuk" and these are my "Yukkies!"")
8. ARCHIE: Childhood would not be childhood without reading the exploits of Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty, and Veronica.
9. MYSTERY IN SPACE: This DC publication of the 50s and 60s introduced us to "Adam Strange" and gave us an incredible array of science fiction penned by greats like John Broome, Otto Binder, and Garden Fox, as well as illustrations by Sid Greene, Wally Wood, Murphy Anderson, Jerry Grandinetti, Carmine Infantino, Virgil Findley, and Frank Giacioa.
10. HOUSE OF MYSTERY: Gave us one of the neatest hero/villains-- "Eclipso"! There were also tales of the mystical in "Mark Merlin".
1. LLOYD LLEWELYN: Daniel Clowes is the Man! This mid-80's publication was the ultimate retro 1960 adventure with suit and tie character Lloyd Llewlyn doing battle with beatnicks, zombies, cannibals, martians, martinis and weirdos. If you love 50's ad art or futons, you'll absolutely dig on this publication.
2. FLAMING CARROT: Atlanta artist Bob Burden, who also gave us the "Mystery Men" produced this 1980's adventure about a brain-addled superhero who had a carrot mask with flames coming out of the top, and duck foot shaped shoes. Favorite villains-- "Road Hogs from Mars" who threatened those who stood in their way by proclaiming "We'll Eat Their Feet!"
3. GHOST WORLD: Another Clowes Tour de Force, this limited series of the 90's insightfully portrayed the painful and confusing lives of two young "square peg" girls who grew from childhood into adulthood. It is a story line that many of us can and should relate to. In addition, these were basically inward and thoughtful characters whose belief systems were challenged, shattered, reinforced, created and recreated with each new step in their progression through the Ghost World between the childhood and youthful aspirations they held dear and the oft times painful realities of adult life they would enter.
4. THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS: Let's face it, Robert Crumb is the Godfather of the underground comic movement! (or "comix" as it was coined). Although Crumb invented an incredible array of underground "anti-establishment" characters, these 1960's "hippies" were his most endearing and enduring. If you ever stumble upon the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers board game, "Heads and Feds", scarf it up-- it's a treasure and a hoot to play!
5. KITCHEN SINK PRODUCTIONS: In addition to Bob Crumb, Denis Kitchen was another early progenitor of the underground comix movement who also introduced an array of other underground artists through his publications of the late 60s and early 70s.
6. REID FLEMING, THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST MILKMAN: Another mid-to-late 80's production, this publication highlighted the exploits of Reid Fleming, a milkman who would hit little old ladies in the stomach, and crash a milk truck on an almost daily basis. You could even purchase a button with Fleming saying "What're You Lookin' At?!"
  THE TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME      Matthew Drinnenberg
   This is one of those I can't believe we missed. While I will confess that today the only mags I buy are old FMs, I was at one time quite the comic-buying dude! Therefore, we'll plunge right in .......
10. Hawk and Dove - One of my earlier favorites in life, these guys were mild-mannered dudes until the right situation arose, where they transformed into super heroes with the individual utterence of "Hawk" and "Dove".
9. Creepy - One of two Warren mags on this list, Creepy was filled with some of the most bizarre stories you'll ever find in print. Even by today's standards.
8. Spider-Man - Love the comic, hated the TV show, and hope I adore the movie.
9. Thor - Ya gotta love the hammer!!!
7. Vampirilla
- Oh yeah, baby! Kind of girl you'd let sink her teeth in!
6. Superman - What can you say about the man of steel. Super good guy who whips up on scumbags. Oh Superman, where are you now.
5. The Flash - As I rooted for Flash to beat Superman in the Fasted Man on Earth Series, he one ups Clark & co. here as well.
4. True Artist Tales - Original and thought-provoking. Cutting-edge humor. Speaking of True Artist, this is a great time for me to encourage everyone to check out True Artist Tales at www.apeshot.com/weekly.html. This is an internet comic strip by comic guru Scott Gilbert, who never ceases to amaze me with his broad artistic virtues. If you're looking for something completely new and fresh, check it out.
(For new readers scratching their heads over True Artist Tales: altho the rules for this particular challenge specify avoiding newspaper and online-only strips, and True Artist Tales has newspaper origins, I should inform you that Mr. Gilbert does publish actual books, many include collections of his strip work, ergo why we keep making exceptions for him here. Plus, we all know him, and drop his name when we can...LOL! When we do the Top 10 comic strips, you'll likely see his name again.---N)

3. Iron Man - No, my mom wasn't happy at all that I carved Iron Man into her Cedar Chest!
2. Curtis Publications' Planet of the Apes - Only 29 issues total, this wonderful comic told the tale of all five ape films, and also ran original comics, of which they never finished. Too bad, was a good one!
1. BATMAN - In honor of my #1, I'll take you back in time. I was 5 years old and with my mom en route to Dallas Texas on Greyhound. My mom bought me 2 Batman Comics and I was the giddy child. Fell asleep holding my beloved comics. Mom woke me to change buses and I was so sleepy I didn't realize I'd left my comics on the old bus until it was too late. Cried all the way to Big D. Being the excellent mom that she is, she tried to make it up to me by buying me a Batman breakfast set, complete with juice mug, which I cherished!
I tried to keep to the true artist forum. Honorable mentions: "Eerie", "Big Boy" (couldn't have my Big Boy burger & fries without it), and "The Far Side", which I didn't include as it is a comic strip.
  THE TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME      Nolan B. Canova

1. Superman. '60s/'70s version. Among the very first comics I ever received was this and it was about the same time as the George Reeves TV show was in syndication. Among the best comic experiences I ever had were this, "The Adventures of...", "Action Comics" and, especially, "Superboy". Curt Swan drew the definitive Superman, to me. Not only that, his early Superboys had a level of illustration that surpassed even his later work. We'll never see his like again. What an era. Honorable mentions go to period artists Kurt Schaffenberger and Wayne Boring, the latter I met at a convention shortly before his death. And I loved Christopher Reeve's first Superman movie.
2. The Incredible Hulk. '60s/70s version. The early Ditko/Kirby books warmed me up, but the later Marie Severin version took me for life. Later, the team of Herb Trimpe and John Severin ranked as possibly my all-time favorite Hulk artist team, around the Roy Thomas era. The Leader, The Abomination, The Rhino, and Rick Jones were all good supporting characters. When the Hulk started going thru his various permutations (Grey Hulk, Smart Hulk, Mr. Fixit) I dropped out. I just recently started to look in on him again. I did like the Bixby/Ferrigno TV series. Looking foward to the movie.
3. Batman. Yes, even tho he's been done to death, there's no escaping his influence. Like the others, I agree "The Dark Knight Returns", featuring a more mature Bruce Wayne/Batman, was a most impressive feat by artist/writer Frank Miller. Batman has spawned a TV series (that affected the comic and vice-versa) and several motion pictures. I like the Adam West series for its period appeal. I only liked the first Burton movie, but the second had its moments. To me, the definitive Batman movie has yet to be made.
4. Fantastic Four. Nothing against the amazing John Buscema, but really only Jack Kirby could draw the Fantastic Four in a definitive way. I don't know, the blockiness of his quick style helped sell it somehow. His earlier books kept me up nights studying the line work. Galactus, The Silver Surfer, and The Watcher are stand-out supporting characters
5. All Warren Publications (Creepy, Eerie, The Spirit, Vampirella). I didn't discover these B&W magazines until the '70s, then I started collecting back issues. Amazing art, amazing stories. Featured some of the legends from the 50s as well as the 60s and 70s. Archie Goodwin, Tom Sutton, Frank Frazetta (covers), even Steve Ditko. Later, the Spanish artist invasion came thru here.
6. Heavy Metal. Again, a time and place that can never be recaptured. From Bernie Wrightson and Vaughn Bode to Angus McKie and beyond. The first movie was a near religious experience for me. The 2000 movie not so much. I stopped buying the mag a few years ago, but its influence on me was profound.
7. Gold Key's TV adaptations/Dr. Solar/Turok/Magnus. Nobody ever sings Gold Key's praises, presumably because they're aimed at younger fans, but I thought these were a hoot. Especially satisfying were the painted covers of all Gold Key comics, which I always wished Marvel or DC had adopted. Not enough time I guess. Alex Ross did make an impact in this regard only in the last few years.
8. Classics Illustrated. Incredibly well-done comic versions of classic novels, these could pass for reading the novel many times. Often used as a cheat in school, but of course I never did that. I still have some of the first printings of "Frankenstein" and "From the Earth to the Moon", among others, and they rock.
9. EC Horror Comics. The greatest art and stories in the horror genre up to that time--some would say ever--were found here. Congressional hearings and witch-hunts put an end to it.
10. Mad magazine. Spawned from the collapse of the other EC Publications came this irreverent send-up of everything. Kind of like National Lampoon for teenagers. Nothing too sacred. The movie spoofs drawn by Mort Drucker have spawned countless imitations. Several books have been spun-off from here (anybody remember Al Jaffe's "Silly Answers to Stupid Questions"?). Joe Orlando, Bob Clarke, Jack Davis, Kelly Freas, and even Frank Frazetta were on board to create some of the greatest illustrations know to this genre.
   Honorable mentions:  Chick Publications (Those wonderfully nasty little pamphlets like, "Are YOU going to hell?" and "This was your life!"), Treasure Chest (we got these at parochial school---usually featured a Christian message. Anybody else remember these?). Archie comics--Jughead was the star, I always thought. True Artist Tales (yay, Scott!), ZAP, Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and anything by Robert Crumb. Dope comics---the weirder the better (I think dope had its uses for art-enhancement in those days, but don't quote me---not PC). Swamp Thing (Berni Wrightson rocks), The Spectre, Deadman, Tales to Astonish, The Brave and the Bold, Captain America, Those incredibly wonderful early cheezy Marvel quasi-horror mags from the '50s and '60s ("FARFOOM, the THING that LIVED!"--LOL, too much), Adam Strange (Mystery in Space, whatever), Herbie (one of my earliest aquisitions--that little fat guy freaked me out). Metal Men (another very early memory--thought it was a great idea for a book), Giant-Size Man Thing (a deliciously obscene title for a book that was basically a Swamp Thing knock-off), The X-Men, Iron Man (original red-and-gold '60s version--tho Drew Reiber is warming me up to the present version), The Flash ('60s Infantino version), Tales from the Bean World (underground comic published at the height of B&W saturation of the '80s). Howard the Duck. Camelot 3000 absolutely blew me away (who was that artist? John Bolton? Incredible). Spawn (at one time a guilty pleasure--tho Todd MacFarlane's ego is irritating and the movie sorta blew, I loved the HBO cartoon). The Rocketeer, Deadworld, Tales of Futurepast, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. And anything and everything touched by Alex Ross.
   Conspicuous by their absence. Spider-Man (never could get into it--sorry. However, he sports one of the greatest costumes ever designed and I am looking forward to the movie). The Sub-Mariner (another one I just didn't get---too romantic maybe). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for chrissake, I got the gag in the first 5 minutes. But, collector's items, 2 movies and a cartoon series later? Puh-LEEZ).
   Biggest disappointments/mistakes/milestones. Basically where continuity was ripped in order to curry favor to a new generation. Crisis on Infinite Earths is possibly the worst offender here--I actually liked the story, but dreaded the inevitable outcome. Secret Wars is a fuzzy memory now, but it seems that one fared a little better. The die-cut/multiple cover mania of the late '80s and early 90s pretty much sounded the death knell for comics as far as I am concerned. But the final, irresponsible INSULT was The Death of Superman, mid-90s. A marketing rip-off of unprecedented proportions. Comics have not been the same for me since. As I said before, Terence and Drew are causing me to take another chance with the current crop of titles. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I do listen.
  THE TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS OF ALL TIME     Mike "Deadguy" Scott

#1-- The Punisher (Marvel Comics) This comic has a backstory based on the whole: "Ex-marine-walking-with-family-in-the-park after war, witnessed-mob-hit, family-gets shot, ex-marine-get's even" kind of storyline.
   It's interesting, shortly near the beginnings of comic books tendency towards the "troubled/evil anti-heros", the Punisher showed-up in a Spider-Man book. He wasn't quite an anti-hero at this point, he was merely a sniper being paid to eliminate Spider-Man (whom he thought was a super villain at the time).
   It was a pathetic start that would have also been the end of the character, but about a year later (1974) Marvel was noticing the trend towards anti-heros and tested the market with a 4-issue Punisher mini-series. This proved to be successful for them, and they rushed into creating of "The Punisher." He was one of the only "superheros" without any super powers, super suits, or super gadgets, etc., in this "age" of comics. Batman has super "bat" gadgets, otherwise he'd have fit into that category as well. The Punisher and the "semi-evil and brooding" version of Batman were very similar. The only difference was that Batman wanted to be killed in the line of duty, and give the bad guys to the cops, and The Punisher wanted to destroy everyone involved except for the innocents, and hoped to die in the process. Batman wore a bright yellow logo on his chest because he wanted to be shot and killed; The Punisher wore a bright white skull on his chest to draw sniper gunfire away from his head (the skull had kevlar armor behind it).
   It was a "Dirty Harry meets Charles Bronson" type of series, except with more character depth, and stronger pseudo-morality (i.e. "sure.. killing folks isn't really ok, but drugs are BAD!"). It was kinda' funny when occassional team-ups with "goodie-two-shoe-type" superheroes, like Spiderman, Daredevil, etc. would basically end-up with them all trying to stop him from killing folks.
   The best issues of this series involved the Punisher (or "tall, dark, and gruesome", as Spider-Man used to refer to him) being beaten to within an inch of his life by super villains and super heroes alike. Where he was bleeding all over the place and trying to drag himself into a position to regroup, the whole time focused like a fanatic on whatever tasks was at hand, usually the death of said super villain, or super hero.
#2- Martial Law (Epic)- Fear and Loathing. These have always been hard to find because of their graphic nature, but when you find 'em, they're pretty cheap (or even free..). Comic book shops could easily get into trouble with parents if small kids could get their hands on these. The basic back-story is that in the future, a war was fought where humans were genetically "altered" into super soldiers referred to as "Heroes". These heroes often had alterations that included things like over-sized razor blades implanted into their foreheads for no apparent reason, and various extra limbs, etc, and they couldn't feel pain. In any event, once the war was over, these "heroes" were basically thanked and then sent home. Due to the nature of their alterations, these heroes were unable to re-integrate into society, and typically formed street gangs, or other hyper violent "anti-establishment" groups. One "hero" got a legitimate job as a law enforcement officer in a time where cops ruled the street in an almost vigilante style. He was a "hero hunter", but according to him, despite destroying gang after gang, he "still hasn't found any heros yet." The hero's name is "Martial Law," and this gothic feeling series revolves around his exploits. I say gothic for lack of a better term, but with Martial Law and the zippered leather mask he wears, along with the barbed wire that he wears tighly wrapped down the length of his arm, perhaps twisted, or demented might cover it a little better.
#3- Lobo - heh heh, I love this bastiche. His backstory is that he was born on a perfect, peaceful planet where there was no evil, or violence. Apparently, he is the embodiment of that entire society's dose of evil. He named himself Lobo, which means "he who eats your entrails and smiles" in his native tongue. On his 14th birthday he single-handedly destroyed his entire planet and became a hyper-sucessful bounty hunter. He flies through space on his "Harley-looking" space-motorcycle hunting folks down, while smoking a smelly cigar, and reading his favorite book entitled: "Short 'n' Snappy Tales of Death". An example of a short story from this book is as follows: "Jack and Jill went up the hill to get a pail of water, but they came down in bloody chunks of quivering flesh.. the end." He's a smoking, gambling, alcoholic, bully, womanizer with a penchant for complete mayhem. In fact, in one Christmas issue, he went to the North Pole. He utterly and completely destroyed all of Santa's elves barehanded (and wandered through the rest of the episode with a detached elf's head impaled on his forearm), and then got into a knife fight with Santa Claus. Santa used a Kris knife, and Lobo used his meathook-on-a-chain that he always has wrapped around his forearm. After dispatching Santa Claus, he got ahold of Santa's list and then took Sata's sled and dropped bombs through the chimneys of all the good little boys and girls.
The very last page of that episode has a dot-to-dot game illustrating Lobo shooting you a bird while wishing you a merry Christmas.
#4- Judge Dredd - sort of a Punisher-becomes a cop kinda' thing in a quasi-"Martial Law" american-post-holocaust high-tech-rebuilt-city environment where everything had graphittied slogans on it. Judge Dredd was a very serious heavy-handed cop that basically WAS the law.
   However it had neat little twists, such as half an issue dedicated to a police pursuit in which a bunch of folks lost their lives. When the "perp" was finally apprehended, it was discovered that he was carrying a highly illegal and addictive substance. Judge Dredd's partner attempts to sniff the illegal substance to determine what it is, and Dredd yells, "DROKK!! put that down! It's the single-most addictive drug known to man! If you even taste it, I'm required to take you down! You should also see what it can do to your teeth, too!" The drug was one packet of common "sugar".
   He also yells cool stuff like: "Citizen! it is a criminal offense to bleed onto the street like that, cease and desist, or I will be forced to gun you down."
   Outside of the ("Mega") city was the "cursed earth" where mutants (read as "radiation-altered" hoodlums) wandered free, unable to enter the cites due to possible contamination. In one issue, within a roving band of Mutated hoodlums there were several 100 mutants that were claiming that they all had super mutant powers. They all had their super hero names on their chests. There was everything from "strongguy" to "acid-breathguy", but the one that really caught my attention was one very small character at the edge of the "super hero gang" that wasn't even entirely on the page. He was lying on the ground with flies all over him. The small caption next to the tiny figure said "deadguy".
   Yup, that's where my deadguy name itself originally came from; The super hero named "deadguy" who's super incredible mutant ability was to be dead (which must have been incredibly frustrating sometimes). Ironically though, the only person that called me that, AND knew where the name came from, was the first guy that called me that. Even though he ended-up dying soon after dubbing me that (not because he called me that!) the name stuck, for differing reasons throughout my teenage years and into adulthood. It became a band name for me at one point "Some Deadguy," it ended-up becoming my email address, may soon end-up on my license plate, and may even end-up as my legal middle name (to separate me from the literally hundreds of Mike Scott's out there).
#5- Punisher War Journal - Again, The Punisher, but this time the stories allow supernatural and various other similar events to weave into the storyline. Less emphasis on the reality, more on the drama, basically. Most issues were partially narrated by the Punisher's Journal entries, hence the name of the series.
#6- Punisher War Zone - The Punisher again, but this time he's doing a "Charles Bronson-esque" "city-clean-up" anti-mafia thing for most of the series. Nice artwork on this series for the most part, with "guest artists", etc., but it was essentially doomed to fail simply because the Punisher image had overextended itself.
   When the Punisher War Zone title came out, the Punisher now had 4 comic titles (Punisher, War Journal, War Zone, Armory), he was making cameo appearances all over the Marvel Universe (including Archie comics, AND TV cameos), and even a couple of Batman crossovers (DC - Marvel crossovers), a bunch of graphic novels (including hardcovers), he had action figures, including a 16" tall Punisher that was only availible if you cut off the proof-of-purchases from the four other availible 16" figures, etc. etc. They essentially tried to do to him what they'd previously done with the other Marvel big-hitters, like The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, The X-Men, etc, but they completely over-saturated the market much too early in The Punisher's "popularity curve", while at the same time going through their marketing misfires that this time in comic books is most known for: die-cut covers, foil-covers, etc.. all the nonsense and hooplah designed to drive up the cost of buying the issues in the hopes that their "back-issue" value would inflate.
   However, back-issue value is a combination of the fan's desire to own a comic matched against its availability, simply supply vs. demand. A foil cover is desirable for its rarity, and therefore its potential resale value, but if most Marvel titles are doing it, apparently at random, it's no longer a rarity, it's just a more expensive comic book. Therefore, at first, everyone said.. "ooh.. rare cover, buy 4 copies", but after awhile they realized that they had 4 copies of 12 Marvel titles. Who's gonna' buy them later if anyone that thought it was worth buying for it's uniqueness, already bought 4 copies? At that point it certainly isn't rare OR unique.
#7.- Slainé - English Comic, barbarian-type. Think "Punisher" or "Lobo" in medieval times.
#8.- Spawn - I liked it, artwork was stunning, but everybody's doing it now.
#9.- Ghostrider - Flaming skull on a motorcycle...'nuff said.
#10.- Iron Man - first comic that ever caught my eye and got me hooked on the biz. (The issues right before he became wheelchair-bound).
Honorable mention: GI Combat. Can't remember it enough to review it. Found it while looking thru back issues.

Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.
Hello Nolan,

I loved your new article on your website. (Re: The wedding announcement of Steve Beasley to Sose Matamua, announced last issue.---Nolan) It was a great pleasure to get those stamps for you, I knew you would appreciate them. Thank you for being a good friend to Steve, but I'm just going to take him away from you for a wee while :-) Will definitely come back to visit one day.

All the Best,
Love and God Bless

P.S. Definitely send photos of the wedding.

I'm looking forward to seeing them and sharing with my readers! I talked to Steve about sending even more pictures from Middle-Earth when he gets there!
If anyone didn't get a chance to see the "Lord of the Rings" stamps in question, click here for a quick peek back at last week's issue.

NOT A CRICKET?  Readers: in last week's issue, I announced, and Will Moriaty eulogized, the passing of country music great Waylon Jennings. In both cases there was some information that--while we had the best of intentions-- may have been inaccurate. read on...

I hate to bitch about little things, and I'd hate for Will to think I am criticizing his work which is some of the most enjoyable in the mag, but I thought I'd mention 2 inaccuracies to his story on Waylon Jennings: 1. Jennings was never a member of the Crickets. The bass player for the Crickets was Joe B. Maudlin (who I have met, along with Drummer Jerry Alison and long-time friend Sonny Curtis). When Buddy left the group, it was agreed that the boys could use the Cricket name. Secondly, Jennings never told Holly he hoped he'd crash. That story was started years ago but has been discredited in both authorized Holly biographies as well as personally to me by Tommy Alsup, who lives near here in Blue Springs, Missouri. Jennings did feel guilty that his friend had died, but that guilt wasn't compounded by the fact he wished the plane to crash.

I just realized that Jennings died 43 years and 10 days after Holly, et.all. Maybe for the 45 anniversary I'll do a piece on the whole thing with interviews, etc. Phillip and I spent two days in Clear Lake, Iowa for the 40th anniversary and had a great time. As one of the musicians I idolize, it was very touching to stand on the same stage he did and even use the same payphone he called home from on that last night. I have also stood on the very spot John Lennon died on behind the Dakota in NYC and that too was very touching. Maybe there's a story here?

Love ya,

P.S. Maybe I take this thing too seriously sometimes, but it's something I take pride in doing.

No problem, Michael, we are indebted to you for the facts. I was just as much at fault for the mix-up, because I, too, had always heard Waylon Jennings referred to as an "ex-Cricket". Will Moriaty, who is not as sensitive to criticism as you may have thought, but who certainly wants to present facts accurately, responds below.---Nolan


I do not take Mike's retort personally. For that matter I champion truth and always accept a correction if and when I have erred.

My source was an interview with Jennings that I saw on one of the country networks (CMT or CNN) several years ago and to the best of my recollection he uttered the words that I printed. I remember it so well because it was the first I had ever heard of such a revelation and it pretty much seared through me to see the man so remorseful. I may have not remembered that airing properly,

I had heard the "Jennings being a member of the Crickets" rumor life long and never questioned it. Probably because I never bought any Buddy Holly records or studied Buddy Holly history. Although I enjoyed Holly's music, I was and am still not that big a fan.

To his credit, Mike has furnished a wealth of information in his response to you, and I admire the diplomatic way that he has done it. Although I have never met the man, he's earned my trust and respect as measured by the words in his column.

I would never knowingly distort the truth or unneccessarily sensationalize, particularly in an instance so upsetting as this--but I know you know that.

Encourage Mike to keep on keeping me "straight" when I err, that is how a truthful, meaningful, and essential dialogue will continue to flourish in a publication as wonderful as yours.


There you have it, folks. I respect Mike's sources, so that officially settles the "plane crash" remark, but the only way we'll ever know WHAT Jennings himself said is to secure a copy of that CNT or CNN interview and determine what the mix-up was. Anybody else see this?

In a separate email, I asked Mike about the validity of the rumor that Holly's plane was named either "Miss American Pie" or "The American Pie" as mentioned in the Don McLean song of that name which is about the Holly crash ("the day the music died..."). Mike responded that neither the original accident reports nor anyone surrounding the incident, nor any biographies have referred to the plane by calling it a name. Wolfman Jack claimed to know the secret of "Miss American Pie", but died before a scheduled appearance to do so, and, evidentally, Don McClean isn't discussing it. The beat goes on...---Nolan

Write to: Letters to the Editor   Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

"Mike's Rant" is ©2002 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2002 by Matt Drinnenberg    "La Floridiana" is ©2002 by William Moriaty    "The Enlightenment" is ©2002 by Terence Nuzum    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2002 by Drew Reiber    "Murder on the Woo Woo Express" is ©2002 by Patty G. Henderson    "Deadguy's Dementia" is ©2002 by Mike Scott    All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2002 by Nolan B. Canova

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