PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Rambling Thoughts on How Mortality Strikes Again

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pc-3-24-01The PopCulteer
March 24
, 2017

As we approach tax season, it’s somehow more comforting to concentrate on the other inevitablity, death. We’ll allow the PopCulteer brain to run wild with a bit of a ramble as we consider the end of all things. 2016 seemed like a banner year for notable deaths, and 2017 does not seem to have let up any. Just in the past few days we’ve seen the passing of Chuck Berry, Bernie Wrightson and Chuck Barris.

Chuck Berry (right) was, of course, the true father of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Without him there would have been no Beatles, Stones, Kinks or Who. Other people have eulogized him far more eloquently than I could, but we had to pause to hail, hail, Rock ‘N’ Roll one last time.

pc-3-24-02Bernie Wrightson (left) had not been well for some time. His passing was still a blow because he was such a beloved artist of horror comics and he was such a sweet person. His art, particularly on his classic Frankenstein and Wolfman prints, elevated comic art to fine art. He will rank with the greatest illustrators and painters in history.

Wrightson’s death was part of what made March such a cruel month for comic book fans, as we lost underground comix legends Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson, life-long friends who founded the Chicago wing of the underground comix movement, within ten days of each other earlier in the month.

pc-3-24-03Chuck Barris influenced many as the host of The Gong Show, which gave early network exposure to folks like David Letterman, L.A. Improv group, The Groundlings (Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Ruebens, Phil Hartman, Edie McClurg among others), The Kipper Kids and The Mystic Knights of The Oingo Boingo (including Danny Elfman).

He was a legendary producer of game shows and wrote the hit single, “Palisades Park” for Freddy Cannon.

We also lost writer Jimmy Breslin over the weekend, and legendary B-movie producer, Jack H. Harris (The Blob) a week or two earlier.

For some time now, It seems like we’ve had an onslaught of deaths of notable people, and it’s not really ever going to let up.

Continue reading…

The Graphic Novel Beatles

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The PopCult Bookshelf

beatlesThe Beatles: All Our Yesterdays
by Jason Quinn and Lalit Kumar Sharma
Campfire Heroes
ISBN: 978-93-81182-22-2
$16.99

The Beatles: All Our Yesterdays is a graphic novel retelling of the very early days of The Beatles, told in graphic novel form and aimed at young adults. It’s a little too accurate in its depiction of drugs and sex to make it appropriate for young children. If it were a movie, it’d probably be rated PG-13.

The book begins with a full page of disclaimers and acknowledgements that explain that the events depicted in the book are dramatisations, and that list the source material, which includes a nod to the ultimate chronicler of all things Beatles, Mark Lewisohn. That is a very good sign.

Quinn has done a great job of capturing the pre-fame lives of John, Paul and George. Ringo seems to get the short shrift here, but that’s because he officially joined the group on August 22, 1962, and the story ends about six weeks later.

61yhjoil8wlWe do get a glimpse at the childhood years of the group, and then pick up as they meet as teens and become the group that went on to dominate the music world. Some of these stories will be old hat to folks who’ve spent more than four decades reading books about The Beatles, but for younger readers, this is a great introduction. The lack of glaring errors is a nice surprise, given the scant research that goes into many books about the Beatles these days. This is a well-researched account of what really happened.

All the pre-fame important points are here: The formation of the band; the acquisition of Pete Best as their drummer; the death of Stu Sutcliffe; John’s marriage to Cynthia; the trips to Hamburg; dumping Allan Williams, their first manager; meeting Brian Epstein and eventually releasing their first single.

It is the release of “Love Me Do,” that brings this book to a close, though there is a four-page epilogue that doesn’t really add much more than a cursory condensation of fifty-five years of their history after they started releasing records.

Quinn’s script whisks us from one important scene to another without bogging down or getting repeititive. He does a great job of translating the docu-drama format into comic book form.

Sharma’s art serves Quinn’s script well, with intelligent layouts that move the story forward while keeping the narrative clear. He does his best to incorporate photographic reference into his normal artistic style and mostly he succeeds. Jagdish Kumar is credited as the inker, but the rendering is wildly inconsistent. At times it looks like different artists worked on different pages or segments. The early pages look like the work of Klaus Janson, who inked Marvel Comics’ Beatles bio comic book in the late 1970s. Other segments of the book have a much slicker, more polished look, and some others almost have a Manga feel to them.

While the variances in the art are noticeable, they do not distract from the story. The Beatles: All Their Yesterdays is a very good graphic novel take on the pre-fame story of The Beatles. It’s admirably “warts and all” and does not attempt to whitewash history. The book does offer some good insight into how four lad from Liverpool became the most powerful musical force in the world in the twentieth century.

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megoThe video chronicles of our adventures in toyland continue. ToyLanta (incorporating JoeLanta, Botlanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention) happened March 11-12, 2017. One of the eagerly-awaited Saturday panels saw the Earth Station One Podcast take over for an hour of pure MEGO talk with ESO’s Mike Gordon and Mike Faber joined by ToyLanta’s Buddy Finethy and Radio Cult’s Ricky Zhero.

The quartet of pop culture knowledge chime in on the famous MEGO line of action figures, which first found success with Superheroes from both DC and Marvel, but which branched out and licensed everything from CHiPS to happy Days, to The Waltons, The Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and beyond.

Regular readers of PopCult might remember that your humble correspondent was a regular attendee of MEGO Meet back when it was held in Wheeling. It was a blast to get to see people talking MEGO in a convention atmosphere once again. You might even hear yours truly contributing to the discussion, from the safety of the behind-the-camera zone. You can hear the podcast version of this show, and tons of other great episodes ofat their website,  Earth Station One .

Check PopCult regularly because we’ll be posting all the panels we recorded all week long. Next up: We’ll look at The Needless Things Podcast, with this year’s ToyLanta installment of Toy Stories.

ToyLanta happens every March in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not too early to find out about next year’s show.

Visit ToyLanta for early details on how you can be part of the coolest toy show in the South. Plus you can check out their Facebook page.

Swing All Day On The AIR!

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swing-marathon-3-23Marathon Week On The AIR keeps swinging along with 24 hours of Swing! Check it out at The AIR Website or on this embedded radio player…

Your PopCulteer has made no secret of his love of Swing Music, and since we’re doing marathons every day this week,  decided to devote Thursday to Swing!

You will hear every episode of The Swing Shift, plus our two Swing Episodes of Radio Free Charleston International and even an episode of The Mystery Hour. This all kicks off at 9 AM and runs until 9 AM Friday morning.

What you can expect is a mix of classic Big Band Swing, plus 1990s Swing Revival Bands, Electro Swing from Europe and brand-new Swing Music by folks who are keeping the swinging faith.

Get ready for music by Benny Goodman, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Glenn Miller, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Indigo Swing, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, Royal Crown Revue, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Atomic Fireballs, Glen Gray, Raymond Scott, Johnny Favourite, The Might Blue Kings and many, many more.

You’ll even hear unexpected Swing turns by Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, John Cale, Tom Jones, Eartha Kitt, Linda Rondstadt and others.

It’s the best Swing Music from the last century, all day long on The AIR!

ToyLanta 2017: The Walking Dead

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img_9420It’s been more than a week, but the hits keep coming! ToyLanta (incorporating JoeLanta, Botlanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention) happened March 11-12, 2017. The very first panel on Saturday saw Mike Gardner and Mel Larch co-moderate The Walking Dead, and welcoming their guests, prominent walkers, Skip Bartlett and Don Teems.

Bartlett and Teems recount some hilarious tales of being undead on the set, encountering snakes and armadillos and the fun things that can happen when you spend hours and hours in the makeup chair. The hour flew by and Zombie Food was shared with the audience.

Regular readers of PopCult know that Mel (AKA Mrs. PopCulteer) is a rabid fan of The Walking Dead, and master dioramist, Mike Gardner, is also an authority on the show. They bring out some great stories from two of the show’s top “hero” walkers.

Check PopCult regularly because we’ll be posting all the panels we recorded all week long. Next up: It’s Podcast time!

ToyLanta happens every March in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not too early to find out about next year’s show.

Visit ToyLanta for early details on how you can be part of the coolest toy show in the South. Plus you can check out their Facebook page.

img_9429You know the drill by now, ToyLanta (incorporating JoeLanta, Botlanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention) happened March 11-12, 2017. One of the other fun-filled Saturday panels was focussed on Monster Toys, with Clay Sayre, Anthony Taylor and Carlos Morrison.

The Monster Squad talks up their favorite monster-based toys and games, touching on AHI monsters and other permutations of the classic Universal Monsters, plus Aurora model kits, toys based on The Outer Limits, The Mummy, The Addams Family and more. Listen in as the guys discuss classic monster themes in action figures, playsets, boardgames, model kits and Halloween costumes.

Check PopCult regularly because we’ll be posting all the panels we recorded all week long. Next up: The Walking Dead.

ToyLanta happens every March in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s not too early to find out about next year’s show.

Visit ToyLanta for early details on how you can be part of the coolest toy show in the South. You can also check out the Facebook page .

life-speaks-mitch-art-04Marathon week on The AIR continues with a Wednesday morning mini-marathon of Curtain Call, then at 1 PM new episode of Life Speaks with Michele Zirkle Marcum that kicks off eleven hours of paranormal phenomena. You can listen at The AIR website, on on this other-worldly embedded radio player…

At 1 PM Wednesday it’s a new Life Speaks, as Michele follows a gypsy’s lead straight to a paranormal investigator and as fate would have it, garners another radio interview for listening to her gut feelings.” You can hear part one of Michele’s appearance on Chasing the Paranormal on the Vibe Network today.

If that stokes your interest in Michele’s adventures in the paranormal, you’re in luck. Following the new episode at 1 PM, Life Speaks with Michele Zirkle Marcum will run classic episodes until midnight. Visit Michele’s website for more information on her ventures into the unknown.

At midnight, and also from 9 AM to 1 PM, you can geek out to the best of Broadway, as we present a segmented marathon of Curtain Call, wherein Mel Larch brings you musical theater from around the world. Curtain Call will run overnight, until 9 AM Thursday, when we turn The AIR over to 24 hours of Swing!

wozatworkToyLanta (incorporating JoeLanta, Botlanta and The Great Atlanta Toy Convention) happened March 11-12, 2017. Another highly-anticipated panel featured James Wozniak, the man behind Classic Recasts, who tells the tale of hunting down vintage Marx Toy Company molds, and how that led him to Mexico. That’s James with his back to the camera at right, making a dad and his kid very happy with some great Marx reproductions.

James tells us the history of the Guzman family of Mexico and their toy empire and how their patriarch came to rub elbows with the likes of Walt Disney and Louis Marx. He also tells the enthralled crowd how toy molds that were made over half a century ago found their way to Mexico and are still being used to create cool toys.

You can find more information about Classic Recasts and James’ work at the Classic Recasts website.

Check PopCult regularly because we’ll be posting all the panels we recorded all week long. Next up: Monster Toys!

rfc-2-14It’s Marathon Week on The AIR. Yesterday we brought you a full day of Prognosis. Today at 9 AM we begin a 24-hour marathon of Radio Free Charleston on The AIR! Tune in at the website, or on this handy embedded radio player…

Tune in at 9 AM Tuesday morning for a special 24-hour marathon of Radio Free Charleston. This is one full day of nothing but the best local music from West Virginia. No other radio station can bring you this much local music, and we wanted to flaunt our committment, just because we can.

You will hear everything from brand-new music from The Wren Allen Band, Speedsuit, Bon Air, Fabulous Head and The Company Stores to classic tracks by Stark Raven, Qiet, Go Van Gogh, Big Money and Mother Nang to deep archive music from Hasil Adkins, The Amazing Delores and The Rose Garden. This goes on for one full day, so you’ll hear all that and much, much more.

We’ll bring you rock, pop, metal, punk, ska, Americana, jazz, classical guitar, progressive experimental music, EDM and more, all of it with ties to West Virginia.

We will interrupted the local music for a special Radio Free Charleston International at 11 Pm, but then the local onslaught resumes overnight, until 9 AM Wednesday.  Wednesday morning you can tune in to a mini-marathong of Curtain Call, followed at 1Pm by a new episode of Life Speaks with Michele Zirkle Marcum that kicks off eleven hours of her gripping paranormal program.