PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Comix Review: The Charlton Arrow v.2 #1

tcav201The Charlton Arrow v.2 #1
written by Nicola Cuit, Paul Kupperberg and Roger McKenzie
drawn by Joe Staton, Mike Collins, Barbara Kaalberg, Tim Kennedy, Ben Torres and Dan Reed
Lettering and color by Mort Todd, Matt Webb and Ben Torres
published by Charlton Neo/AC Comics

I’ve been telling you about this comic for months, but I finally have my hands on a copy. The Charlton Arrow is now available from Diamond Distributors, and that means that any comic book store worth its salt should be able to order it for you. I understand that sales of this comic have been so brisk that it’s largely sold out nationwide. However, you may still find it in your local comic shop, or look for autographed copies on eBay.

After six self-distributed issues, the Charlton Neo folks have started the numbering over with this issue and it’s a pretty cool new beginning. The Charlton Arrow is an anthology comic with a mix of superhero, adventure, and macabre stories. Some are serialized, while some are great stand-alone short stories. As with the prior incarnation of The Charlton Arrow, this is a really fun comic book that cuts through the BS of mainstream comics to simply entertain.

tcav202The big news with this issue is the return of E-Man in a story by his creators, Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton. Staton was able to purchase the rights to his character from Charlton before the bulk of the Charlton superheroes were sold to DC Comics in the early 1980s, so E-Man has lived on with new stories published by a variety of comic book companies over the past four decades, one of which (Digital Webbing) had ties to Charleston, West Virginia.

Now he’s landed back at Charlton for the first chapter of a story that introduces a new member to E-Man’s supporting cast, and sees the marriage of E-Man’s old back-up strip character, Mike Mauser. This is the first of a three-parter, so we basically get “Act One” of the story. Cuti and Staton are in top form and obviously enjoying the reunion with their old creation.

Following that we get a clever short story featuring another Cuti/Staon creation, Colonel Whiteshroud, Monster Hunter. This tale, written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Mike Collins and Barbara Kaalberg, sees the intrepid Monster Hunter on a mission in a mine in Wales.

tcav203Next up we have the debut of Mr. Mixit. This is just a ridiculous amount of fun. Created by Roger McKenzie and Steven Butler as a sly tribute to Steve Ditko, this is the origin story of a kid who encounters a bizarre comic book spinner rack and winds up with super powers. His super-suit is an amalgam of many Ditko creations, with elements of Spider-man, The Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Creeper, Doctor Strange and probably a few I haven’t identified yet. This is just his origin story, and I’m already chomping at the bit for more adentures (which you can find at the Pix-C Comic website).

This is the kind of comic that I would have loved as a kid, and still do as an aging pop culture blogger.

After that we get another introduction to a new strip, Edison Corliss Industrial Steam and Ironworks. With a script by Paul Kupperberg and art by Tim Kennedy and Barbara Kaalberg, this is basically a Steampunk adventure set right before World War II, and happily, there’s plenty of Kirby-inspired machinary behind the Steampunk. This is another intro that has you wanting even more.

tcav205The last full story is new chapter of Deathwatch, continuing from the previous volume of The Charlton Arrow. This story by McKenzie, with art by Ben Torres, mixes up the Grim Reaper with a superhero strip and creates a moody revenge saga.

Finally we have a pinup page for Dan Reed’s Space Adventure. Like everything else in The Charlton Arrow, it leaves the reading eagerly looking forward to the future. The Charlton Arrow has retained all of it’s charm and sense of fun with the move into comic books shops. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend.

If you are extremely lucky, you may still be able to find The Charlton Arrow v2 # 1 in your local comic shop. If not, check eBay, Charlton Neo’s Editor Mort Todd’s website, or The Charlton Arrow Facebook page for details on how to get your own copy. Mort’s website also has all of the earlier Charlton Neo comics available.

Halloween Haunts The AIR Starting This Week

week-schedule-10-16It’s another great week loaded with new programming on The AIR, and this week we also get in the Halloween Spirit as we trickle out our treats for you, starting Monday night. You can see a schedule with highlights accompanying this post while you tune in at the website, or listen right here on this embedded radio doohickey…

Monday we offer up brand-new episodes of our afternoon specialty music shows, and then bring you radio drama in the evening. At 2 PM Lee Harrah pulls you into Harrah’s Hard & Heavy with an Ozzy Osbourne concert from 1981, featuring the late Randy Rhodes on guitar. 3 PM sees Herman Linte present Prognosis with two hours of music by Curved Air.

Monday at 7 PM we kick off five hours of Halloween-centric radio drama that includes radio episodes of The Twilight Zone and Mystery Theater, as well as a dramatization of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. This is just the opening volley of our Halloween programming that will kick of in earnest next week.

Tuesday we’re coming at you with new episodes of Radio Free Charleston (at 10 AM and 10 PM) and The Swing Shift (3 PM). We’re sure that both of these shows will be fantastic, but we can’t offer up details because we start producing them right after we post this schedule.

Wednesday an all-new episode of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle airs at 1:30 PM and 7 PM and will feature Michele talking about a recent radio interview. At 2 PM Beatles Blast will look at The Beatles and The Blues. On a new Curtain Call at 3 PM Mel Larch will present the best of Broadway, once again. The Comedy Vault at 11 PM presents another classic episode of The National Lampoon Radio Hour.

Thursday at 2 PM we replay this week’s new Radio Free Charleston, then we’ll launch right into an all-new Radio Free Charleston International at 3 PM, which this week is devoted to hidden gems from years past.

Friday at 2 PM it’s time for an all-new Radio Coolsville, hosted by DJ Betty Rock, courtesy of WMUL Radio in Huntington. At 3 PM we are going to re-present last year’s Halloween episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, with the spookiest Halloween music from the New Wave era. Next week Sydney will return with a new Halloween special.

Friday evening at 9 PM Jay and Jared take The Third Shift into Halloween overdrive with a new episode at 9:30 PM (preceded by a replay of last week’s show).

Saturday you get a chance to hear all of this week’s music specialty shows starting at 7 AM. Then at 7 PM we have three all-new episodes of The (BS) Crazy Show. Midnight sees Radio Free Charleston take over all night long.

Sunday we will feature more Halloween programming in The Talk Block at 11 PM, followed by replays of Marking Out, The Comedy Vault, Big Electric Cat, Radio Free Charleston and RFC International. At Midnight you get to Swing All Night with a marathon of The Swing Shift, which is very popular in Europe, by the way.

Every weekday at 6 PM you get treated to a half-hour of new music (both local and non-local) on The New Music Show, and at 6:30 PM you can catch up with The (BS) Crazy Show.

That is your guide to programming on The AIR for this week. Enjoy!

Monday Morning Art: Spy Lady



We kick off this week with a digital painting of a Spy Lady. She may not look it to the untrained eye, but she is a deadly killing machine. Luckily, she’s on our side…or is she?

Stationed in the Bahamas, this stealthy seductress is waiting for a certain foreign agent to fall into her web of seduction. Once he gives up his secrets, they may never find his body.

She’s probably got a knife stashed somewhere in her bikini. Click to enlarge.

Sunday Evening Videos: Ghosts of RFC Halloweens Past

image321Tonight we repeat an annual tradition and get into the spirit of the season by re-presenting our classic Radio Free Charleston Halloween shows. If this all seems familiar, it’s probably because we find some way to do this every year.

This time around we look at the Halloween specials from our first few years. You will see classic RFC performances by Clownhole, Whistlepunk, half the Pistol Whippers, Lil’ Guy from South Park Enteprises, Big Money, Go Van Gogh, Under The Radar, and more, plus all sorts of scary animation and guest appearances.  After the jump you’ll find the three-part Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater, and our classic “Big Buddy” show from 2009.


Our first two-parter, now combined into one show. See Rudy Panucci get killed and resurrected as a ghost.

Continue reading…

The RFC Flashback: Episode 72

montage72fbRadio Free Charleston’s seventy-second episode, “Sulu Nation Shirt,” was posted in June, 2009, and it contains a lot of “firsts.” This episode featured music from The Scrap Iron Pickers and Whitechapel District. We also had a guest appearance by The Chemical Valley Rollergirls, who were just getting started back then. Host segments were recorded at a CVRG practice at Skateland in Campbell’s Creek. We also have Frank Panucci’s “Porklips” in this edition of RFC and a 90 Second Art Show.

This was a fun show to produce, with a cool host location and lots of action. It was really cool having Scrap Iron Pickers on. This instrumental progressive metal powerhouse was real bright spot on the local scene, and ithey left a legacy of great music.

Whitechapel District is rarely performing these days, but you never know when they’ll make a return. Of course, the Chemical Valley Rollergirls are also still going strong and winning bouts all over the region. The original production notes can be found here.

Random Items for Friday The 13th

13-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-friday-the-13th-franchiseThe PopCulteer
October 13 , 2017

Today is Friday the 13th, and true to form, your PopCulteer is a bit under the weather. In fact, that’s why there were reruns this week of Beatles Blast and Radio Free Charleston International on The AIR. Three weeks of working 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week took it’s toll and I had to slow way the heck down for a bit. We shall soldier on with our normal Friday column, but it’s going to be a series of short items because my brain is still flickering like a flourescent light.

The Bakery Update

The Bakery is the name of the all-ages venue that is under construction now at the former Purity Bread Factory on Charleston’s West Side. I told you about it a few weeks ago. Progress is being made. This week a building permit was granted to allow for demolition and construction to turn the space into top-flight performance area, complete with ADA-compliant restrooms.

The non-profit in charge of all this can still use donations. You can make a cash donation through their Generosity Page, and a novel idea is in the works for those of you who want to make more tangible donations. Shortly The Bakery will have a gift registry set up at Lowes, so that you can purchase the tools and supplies that they specifically need, and donate them directly to the cause. Details are still being worked out on that, and I’ll post links and instructions once it’s all set up and ready to go.

Charleston desperately needs an all-ages venue, and The building desperately needs a major tenant, so this is a match made in heaven.

Drive-in Saturday Night

Don’t forget that Saturday night Ridenour Lake in Nitro plays host to Terror At The Drive-in as part of the Nitro Festival of Fright. I wrote about it HERE. Go read up on it, then go out and enjoy it.

Continue reading…

Thursday and Friday on The AIR

The rest of the week looks cool on The AIR as we bring you new episodes of The New Music Show, Radio Coolsville, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat and The Third Shift.  Listen in at the website, or on this cool embedded player…

Thursday we bring you a replay of this week’s new Radio Free Charleston at 2 PM, followed by a classic RFC International at 3 PM. Friday it’s time for an all-new Radio Coolsville at 2 PM and a new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat at 3 PM.

You can soak in the complete schedule right here, so you can plan our your end-of-week internet radio listening!


Drive-in Movies Return To Nitro This Saturday

22228464_1688951454456575_3648426274935105296_nIt’s true, even if it is just for one night. On Saturday, October 14, the second annual Nitro Festival of Fright will turn the parking lot at Ridenour Lake into a Drive-in Theater as they present “Terror At The Drive-in.” The automotive movie screening caps off a day that starts at 4 PM and features pumpkin carving, local artists, food vendors and tons of events for the entire family to experience a little pre-Halloween fun.

There will be inflatables, a coffin ride, a zombie shoot, and pumpkin races for kids (and kids-at-heart) to enjoy. J.R. Earls, a terrific local artist will be on hand to draw “scare-ictures.” Psychics will be there to ask you to roll down your windows so they can tell you how the movies end. Local horror author Edward Holsclaw will attend, and there will be ghost hunting with the Ghostbusters West Virginia Division. There will even be a “Trail of Terror” haunted trail.

The Drive-in Movies are the big attraction. At dusk it all begins with It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Just like in the latter days of the drive-ins, you can tune your car’s FM radio to a channel to hear the sound. After Charlie Brown, you can get down with the work of Danny Boyd, West Virginia’s horror movie pioneer. Both his locally-made horror classics, Chillers and Invasion of the Space Preachers will be among the scary movies shown. Danny will be there, as will Eliska Hahn, who played Nova in Space Preachers. It’s always great seeing Danny and the evening may even turn into a bit of a reunion if other actors from his films show up.

This is the brainchild of Jim Caudill and Tim Arnott (Tim being of Third Floor Comics and Collectibles fame). Those two, along with an army of volunteers, have put this all together to entertain the public, and it’s all free (except for a one-dollar donation to the Cub Scouts for the haunted trail, and the price of food and whatever wares the vendors have to sell). This looks like loads of fun, the movies are free and there’s plenty of stuff for the entire family.

It all happens at Ridenour Lake in Nitro, starting at 4 PM this Saturday.


10-10sched-airEven with a holiday-shortened week we are giving you BRAND-NEW episodes of many of our fine original programs! This week we’re bringing you Tuesday and Wednesday’s schedule together so that you can have plenty of time to arrange your life so that you can enjoy the fine programming on our internet radio station, The AIR. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM it’s a new Radio Free Charleston that opens with a track from “Rancho Extreme,” the new album by Aaron Fisher. You can order “Rancho Extreme” from his website and enjoy the whole thing for yourself! It’s top-notch, original music.

After we hear from Aaron, this week’s RFC opens up a time capsule from 1989. We play the entire “First Step” local music sampler cassette that was put together by Steve and Tana Lister.

You’ll get to hear tunes from Brian Diller and the Ride, Big Money, Territories and more. We wrap up the show with a couple of ore recent classics. We’ll post the full playlist for RFC at the end of this post.

At 3 PM it’s time for a new installment of The Swing Shift. Our weekly primer in all things Swing opens with Louis Jordan performing “I Want You To Be My Baby,” and it begins a bit of a musical journey as we will feature different artists covering that song on at least our next four episodes…maybe more. Our new hour of Swing Music also includes tunes from Stan Kenton, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer, Fats Waller and more. Look for this playlist below, too.

10-11-schedWednesday we expect a new episode of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle at 1:30 PM, and then at 3 PM on Curtain Call, Mel Larch opens up the show with “Almost Like Praying,” the benefit song composed by Hamilton‘s Lin Manuel Miranda to benefit Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief. The rest of Curtain Call runs the gamut of musical theater with tunes from Spamalot, In Transit, Guys and Dolls, Fun Home, Come From Away, Jersey Boys and more.

At 10 PM you can catch the latest from the world of professional wrestling, as Betty Rock and Matt BelVillain brung us a new episode of Marking Out.

And now, here are the playlists we promised you…

RFCv4058                       Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM

Aaron Fisher  “Fire Trucks”

First Step sampler:
Slick Six  “Terri Ann”
Debut “Free Your Mind”
Night Fire  “Change”
Big Money “Words On The Street”
Spyce  “Freeway Rider”
Territories  “Ghostown”
Act 1  “Winners”
Xtasy  “Give Me A Chance”
Tempest  “What It’s Like To Be Me”
Annex  “Blindsided”
Sound Advice  “Say That You Love Me”
Brian Diller and the Ride  “Don’t Stop at Anything”

Todd Burge and Kathy Mattea  “Change”
Pepper Fandango  “Red Shirt Blues”

The Swing Shift 032          Tuesday at 3 PM

Louis Jordan  “I Want You To Be My Baby”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy  “Jack You Dead”
Keely Smith  “Jump Jive and Wail”
The Jive Aces  “In The Mood”
Christian McBride Big Band  “Thermo”
Louis Prima Jr.  “Blow”
Lady J and her Bada Bing Band “Believe Me When I Lie To You”
Brian Setzer Orchestra  “Your True Love”
Fats Waller  “Ain’t Misbehavin'”
Ringo Starr  “Shake It Up”
Sugarpie and the Candymen  “Single Ladies”
Indigo Swing  “Reet Petite and Gone”
Stan Kenton  “Jump For Joe”
Smoking Time Jazz Club  “Snag It Up”
Hot Sugar Band  “Jumpin’ At The Woodside”




Monday Morning Art: Columbo Day



Since we begin this week with a holiday, I thought it would be appropriate to start it off with a salute to that holiday. Columbo Day is observed every year to celebrate the life and career of Lieutenant Frank Columbo, the persistant, if somewhat disheveled, Los Angeles Homicide Detective who entertained television audiences from 1968 to 2003.

So today, as the hard-core fans don their ruffled raincoats and crumpled fedoras, squint, and ask “Just one more thing…” in his honor, we decided to bring you a digital painting of the good Lieutenant, as portrayed by actor, Peter Falk.

Happy Columbo Day! To see the image larger, just click on it.

It’s a well-known fact that Peter Falk was a huge fan of progressive rock. That explains the guest appearances by Robert Fripp, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Ian Anderson and Jurgen Fritz on Columbo. In his honor, our sister internet radio station, The AIR, will be running a marathon of Prognosis, presented by Herman Linte, all day today. Check it out on the website, or on this handy little embedded player…