Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm interviewing PETER FERNANDEZ, the original SPEED RACER!

My next guest on my radio show, PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO will be this gentleman:

After seeing the new SPEED RACER film, and absolutely loving the film, I knew I had to contact Peter Fernandez and ask him for an interview. Well, he happily agreed! After I woke up from my feinting spell, I had to email some friends and share the news.

I've been lucky enough to meet some of my childhood favorites in terms of comics and such: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Romita, Mil Mascaras, Roddy Piper, Adam West, among others. So I am so glad to at least have the opportunity to talk to the man who not only voiced Speed Racer (and Racer X) but also wrote the scripts and directed the episodes. Remember, SPEED RACER came from Japan as MACH GO GO GO, so Peter had to translate all the episodes and get his small group of actors to voice the roles. So I will be very interested in asking him how all this was accomplished.

Back in the early-mid 70s, when I first caught the series, I was immediately captivated by the show: the characters and the outlandish car races. So it goes without saying that I'm so grateful that, in my role as show host, I can interview the man (and try to not geek out too much)! Anyways, please tune in on Tuesday, May 27 at 5pm (Pacific Time) if you can...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

GO, SPEED RACER, GO music video

I posted about the SPEED RACER movie the other day, and I'd like to share the music video with you now....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Please help comics great GENE COLAN

It was reported this week that comic book artist Gene Colan, whose career spans from the late '40s to today, has been reported as being in a serious medical condition. Liver failure and related complications, according to his wife. For the past week the comics community has been reporting on the story, and the call has gone out for assistance for the Colans. Apparantly, they don't have medical insurance (or adequate), and the mounting medical bills are pretty daunting.

Gene has done so much work for the various comics companies over the decades, but I think it's fair to say that his most memorable work includes work on DAREDEVIL, CAPTAIN AMERICA, DR. STRANGE and IRON MAN at Marvel in the 1960s and TOMB OF DRACULA and HOWARD THE DUCK in the 70s. He's worked on BATMAN, SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN at DC and also for various publishers such as Dark Horse and Eclipse in the 80s and 90s. He's even done occasional stories for Marvel on DAREDEVIL in the last several years.

When I was started reading comics in the 70s, my older brother gave me a box of his books he had bought in the late 60s/1970. Among those were several books by Colan; DAREDEVIL and CAPTAIN AMERICA, among others. His style stood out (and he was competing with Kirby, John Romita, John Buscema among others!) to my puny little eyeballs even then. His figures would often looks like swooshes of limbs propelling across the panels, the compositions featuring dynamic and innovative angles and perspectives. And when stationary, his characters had a life to them, their body language and facial expressions telling us all we needed to know.

HOWARD THE DUCK was one of my favorite books as a kid, probably because it was so different. A freakin' talking duck in the Marvel Universe! And at the same time Gene was drawing his waddling, cigar-smoking curmudgeon of a duck, he was also drawing the most ungodly horror book of the day, Marvel's TOMB OF DRACULA! Dracula was all flowing cape and billowing smoke, his persona a combination of unrelenting evil and power. Simultaneously drawing a duck and the Lord of the Undead...month after month! And no matter what he drew, Gene made each character believable. Humor, superhero or horror. When Gene drew those characters, they really lived on the page. Beyond it, actually. Unbelievable.....

A couple of things we can do to help: To make a donation to the Colans for help with medical expenses, you can Paypal some funds to Gene Colan's Paypal account at: (I sent a small donation myself the other day)

And/or you can send a card to Gene at:
2 Sea Cliff Avenue, Sea Cliff, NY 11579

A few words of support or appreciation could provide a nice comfort.

Obviously, we all hope that Mr. Colan recovers from his ailment. It was reported yesterday at writer Clifford Meth's blog that Marvel is making arrangements with Colan's wife Adrienne "to provide some immediate and long-term relief". That was wonderful news. Gene has always been there for Marvel, year-after-year, book by book. I applaud Marvel for helping out one of their legendary artists. Gene, in my own opinion, has to rank up there with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita and John Buscema as one of the pillars of Marvel classic artists.

Gene 'The Dean' Colan (as Stan Lee used to call him).... We're rooting for you man!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Go, Speed Racer, Go!

It's still amazing to me to see shows and comic books I loved as a young kid being made into multi-million dollar films. The most recent one I saw was SPEED RACER. And judging by the opening weekend box-office, there wasn't too many people watching (relatively speaking, of course!)

SPEED RACER was, and still is, probably my favorite cartoon show of all time (if you don't count the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes shorts). As a kid I would be in awe of the high speed chases, the dastardly villians, the mysterious Racer X and of course Speed Racer and his family. The show really was about a family, after all.

Because the filmmakers focused on the family apsect of Speed, I think this is what made the movie work for me. Mind you, I was not a big Wachowski Bros. fan. I saw the first MATRIX film and thought it was good...except for the stoic people walking around in black sunglasses and black trenchcoats for 2 hours! So I never saw MATRIX 2 and 3..... But I saw SPEED RACER for Speed Racer. When I first heard about the film, I thought the casting choices were really well chosen. And the Mach 5! Geez, is there a cooler car in the whole world? (The Adam West Batmobile and James Bond's Aston Martin DB4 come very close!). I'll admit though, when I saw the first images for the RACER movie I was a little put off. The night scenes with the huge neon lit racing track caused me some concern. Was this film going to be too dark and hyper kinetic?

But the draw of the movie was too much to pass up. I had to at least see the film. Well, the film really surprised me in all the best ways. First off, I was really surprised to see how well the dramatic family moments in the film came off. There are a lot of great dynamics in the film: Pops Racer's relationship with his two sons, Mom Racer and Speed, Speed and his younger brother. And the nice romance with Speed and Trixie. Real heartfelt family ties.

And the action of course, as I watched it, literally emulated the action in the cartoon series. The Mach 5 flying through the air with it's Jumper Jacks, Speed zipping his car along the most impossible routes imaginable. Right out of the TV show.
The look of the movie reminded me of DICK TRACY with the MATRIX. I was probably thinking, originally, that the film would have looked like it took place in a world most closely resembling ours. But watching the movie, I think the Wachowskis took the right approach in creating a whole world to match the TV show. Here, Speed Racer's world looks like a brand new anime/video game. And the car chases were right out of the cartoon, racing along deserts and icy mountains and gigantic palaces!

It's a shame that the movie has performed so poorly at the box office. But as a lifetime Speed Racer fan, I am glad to see a great adaptation on the big screen.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Stumptown Comics Fest-THE REPORT!!

From the Better-Late-Than-Ever Department:

STUMPTOWN in Portland was only my second out-of-state show, and like that previous WIZARD WORLD TEXAS, I had a great time at the convention and in the city.

I left LA on Friday around Noon and arrived in beautiful Portland, Oregon at about 3:30pm. My good friend Jason Martin picked me up and from there it was a non-stop 5 days of tourism, conventioneering and talkin’ comics! I’m glad I took the extra days to spend time in Portland, because what usually happens whenever I do any show in a city that’s not my own is I never really get to enjoy the location outside the exhibition centers, other than the inevitable dinners with friends and fellow artists.

Even as my plane descended on the city, I could see the lush forests and greenery surrounding Portland, that in itself was pleasant. Jason’s a great tour guide, as he’s been a resident in the area all of his life. Two things that floored me immediately where the fact that A) there is no sales tax in Oregon and B) you do not pour your own gas into your car!!!

Good-bye LA, hello Portland!!

We capped off that Friday with a huge Mexican meal and a pitcher of strawberry margaritas, then headed back to his home where we watched a DVD his wife had recently purchased…C.H.U.D. Luckily, we had some homemade cocktails to get us through that one!

So the next morning we hit the convention Downtown. I was surprised by the rather large exhibit hall, and even more so later when I would see rows upon rows of artists occupying those tables. By mid-Saturday, the room was packed with fans filling up every single isle. This show, like the A.P.E. in San Francisco, was comprised of true
Independent/indie artists. From mini-comics and zines, to traditionally printed comics, all the books were created by independent creatos and publishers. There were people selling sreenprinted comics, T-shirts and even stuffed toys. The roller-skating fan got around pretty good!

I got to see several friends of mine, including local resident Ethan Nicolle, who’s new series, CHUMBLE SPUZZ has found a home with Slave Labor Graphics.

And Stan Yan made the trek all the way from Colorado to attend the show! Stan’s another great creator I’ve know for quite some years now, mostly through San Diego Comic Con. Both of these gents will definitely be guests on my show in the near future.

It’s interesting, Portland is divided by the Willamette River. Both sides of the city are connected by numerous bridges every several blocks. So it shouldn’t have been too surprising that there were two Jason Martins exhibiting at the show! One for each side of the city?

Jason, being local and all, was able to bring his full line of display fixtures to maximize his presence. I was able to interview him on my radio show the previous week, helping to publicize his appearance and the debut of a new book he’s publishing, GNOME, by cartoonist David Dwonch (who was also on my radio show).

Me, I was able to spead out my twin creations, EL MUERTO and DEMOLITION DOVE across all 8’ of table space. I had Muerto comics, buttons and DVDs, and also the new Demolition Dove Preview Book available.

I even had some of the limited edition sketch covers of the Preview Book, and couldn’t resist doing at least one El Muerto/Dove 'cross-over'image!

Good thing too, as one of my biggest fans made the trek from Washington to see me at the show. Good ol’ ‘Juny’! And his friend Brice (black hat) came down as well, whose turned into a big Demolition Dove fan (he loves the Punisher, so the gun-toting Dove gwets his approval). These guys were really fun to talk to, and it’s very nice that Juny’s mother brought them down to visit.

DEMOLTION DOVE got the usual hoped for reaction , an incredulous smile. But the interesting thing was, since no one really was familiar with me or El MUERTO, I didn’t get the ‘whoa, you came up with this?” reaction I would get when I debuted the new book in the LA area!

The show overall was very well attended, particularly on Saturday. Admittedly, I wish I had sold more product, but then again, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that sometimes you have to be a repeat exhibitor to start getting people’s attention. I had already planned to attend next year’s Stumptown, and nothing that weekend changed my mind.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m glad I took the time to stay in Portland a few extra days. Thanks to Jason and Tami for having me in their home, and to their little Chihuahua Choco for warming up to me in record time!

Jason took me around and out-of-town on Monday to sample the sights. Among the great locations were local burger chain BURGERVILLE, Multnomah Falls, a state-of-the-art dam and even a quick drive into Washington.

Later that evening Tami joined us for dinner at P. F. Chang’s and then we spent a couple of hours at the word’s biggest bookstore, POWELLS. I kid you not, this place occupies one city block, is four stories tall, and is divided into nine rooms!! Sheesh, their art/film/music department is as big as some bookstores I’ve been in!!

Those five days went so quick, to be honest. I wouldn’t have minded staying there longer, but it was time to get back to Whittier. I sure would consider staying in Portland over a summer. It’s a beautiful city, rich with artists and cartoonists, and I’ve got several friends in the area. And it would be nice to skip out one of LA’s sweltering hot, smog-filled summers!

I flew back into LAX later that Tuesday. And who better to great me there, after spending the whole weekend with Super Real creator Jason Martin? Well, howzabout Sonambulo creator Rafael Navarro?! Complete with Arriving Passenger sign…

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I will be participating at the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY event at THE COMIC BUG in Manhattan Beach on Saturday from 12-4pm. Big group of artists/creators will be there, so it should be fun for all. Come on down and get free comics!!!

Here's the list of participants. There will also be a screening of THE ROCKETEER!
Sam Sarker (writer, Caliber)
Dave Wilkins (cover artist, Caliber)
Phil Ortiz (artist, The Simpsons)
Scott Koblish (artist/inker, Marvel Adventures: Iron Man)
Joshua Dysart (writer, Buddha, BPRD: 1946)
Rafael Navarro (artist, Sonambulo, TV's Spectacular Spider-Man)
Robbi Rodriguez (artist, Maintenance, Hazed, Tek Jansen)
Javier Hernandez (artist/creator, El Muerto)
Ted Seko (artist, Billy Cole, TV's SpongeBob Squarepants)
Ray Anthony-Height (artist, Spider-Man Family, Noble Causes)
Danny Miki & Crime Lab Studios (inkers extraordinaire, New Avengers & more)
Norm Rapmund (inker, Supergirl)
Michael Aushenker (writer, Gumby, Back Issue)
Mel Smith (editor, Gumby)
Ryan Winn (inker, The Darkness)
Jose Cabrera (artist/writer, Crying Macho Man)
Lord Mesa (artist, Chibi hero art)
Brett Nance (artist, Spazz, Manboy)
Michael Delipine (letterer, Grimm Fairy Tales)