PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Art For Art’s Sake

ActionCat01-4-600x922The PopCult Bookshelf

First off, apologies to my loyal PopCult Bookshelf readers for our absence these past two weeks. June is a ridiculously busy month here at PopCult with two Wheeling toy conventions, ten days of FestivALL, and the RFC Mini Show eating up a lot of time that would otherwise be spent reading. So this week, we’re bringing you a quick rundown of some comic books that we meant to bring you last Thursday and again over last weekend, but didn’t. June just isn’t a good month for reading.

Rather than do a straight review, we’re just going to update you on the latest works from one of our favorite creators of kid-friendly comics, Art Baltazar, and his steadfast collaborator, Franco. We ran into Art at Mego Meet in Wheeling a couple of weeks ago and caught up with the latest cool stuff of his that’s been published lately.

3762472-07We’ll start with the latest publications from Art’s own company, Aw Yeah Comics! If you go to the Aw Yeah Comics! website, you can order the latest issue of his flagship title, Aw Yeah Comics!, starring Action Cat. In issue seven, Action Cat encounters Eez-el, a hipster cat who dances, makes pottery, and chugs coffee and who also has an art gallery devoted to Action Cat. This book also includes strips with guest creators telling their own Action Cat stories such as “The Case of The Stolen Comics,” written and drawn by Scoot McMahon. The entire book is yet another delightful all-ages-friendly comic book title that is indeed fun for the whole family.

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10408514_10152168185682879_507780069751076753_nYou can still help save KP

The fundraising events continue this week. In case you didn’t hear about this last week, Kanawha Players, the second-oldest continuing community theater group in the country, is in danger of ceasing to continue. Insanely high utility bills from the harsh winter, combined with low attendance due to the water crisis has left KP in a major financial lurch. They could fold as early as July if they can’t raise some money fast.

This is not going to be easy. They will be competing for attention with FestivAll, which kicks off Friday. But you still have time to help save this Charleston institution. Over the next four days, here’s how you can pitch in:

Thursday you can eat at the East End McDonalds in Charleston. That’s the one near the State Capitol with my artwork hanging on a lightpost as you enter the parking lot. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from Thursday’s sales from 4 PM to 8 PM will go to KP.


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The PopCult Toybox: Marx Marks The Spot

Magicmarxie_aniWe have arrived at that special time of the year, an annual tradition now, when we make two trips to Wheeling, West Virginia, two weeks apart for two very cool toy shows.

Last week I posted the epic MEGO Meet photo essay here in PopCult. MEGO Meet was an incredible collection of toy lovers, gathered at The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum to celebrate the iconic 1970s action figures made by MEGO Corp. I even posted a music video of the event last Sunday.

The Kruger Street toy and Train Museum
The Kruger Street toy and Train Museum

This week we do it all over again to celebrate Marx Toys, at one time the biggest toy company in the world, collectors of this company’s decades of cool toys meet once a year in Wheeling, not far from the Glen Dale, West Virginia Marx toy factory, to buy, sell, trade and talk all things Marx. The Louis Marx Toy Company was the source of Johnny West, Big Wheel, Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, Green Army Men, The Great Garloo and thousands of other classic toys.

Your PopCulteer will be heading back Wheelingward this Friday, with an entourage of Charleston’s top toy aficianados, and you can expect tons of photos of the event next week in this space.

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Image5This week The RFC MINI SHOW gears up for FestivAll, y’know, when the city…Charleston in this case…becomes a work of art? FestivAll kicks off Friday, June 20 (with a couple of cool pre-FestivAll events thrown in for good measure). For this show we have dived back into our vaults for some Bellydancing by Jenna Brooke Swanson, who will return to Charleston to perform during the second weekend of FestivAll. You can see her and her bellydancing cohorts at the Riggs Corporation Stage, right in front of Taylor Books on Captiol Street on Saturday the 28th and Sunday the 20th, at 1 PM and 3 PM.

In these previously-unseen clips, you will see Jenna doing her sword dance solo, and teaming up with Susan Angela Hughart for a duet.

But before that, you will see a trailer for an epic movie that will premiere on Saturday the, June 21, at Rival Cards and Games in Kanawha City. “The Krusaders of The Kanawha Valley 2: The Banishment of The Bagheads” is a big-budget Hollywood extrazaganza with state-of-the art special effects and make-up. You won’t want to miss this epic motion picture.You can see it free at Rival Cards and Games at 10 PM on the 21st.

Keep reading PopCult for more info on the cool Stuff To Do during FestivAll.



This week we kick off the arts with three digital paintings based on last night’s session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School. The teme was “Seelie vs. Unseelie Court,” which, in case you didn’t know, are the English and Scottish classifications of fairies. One is evil, the other good. Last night we had the two fairy ilk portrayed by Bella Rosa and Phoenix, whom you see above together, and below separately, in digital painting form. You will be seeing much more from this session in the future, but it will likely be after FestivAll. 

Art Note: Next week’s Monday Morning Art will be the unveiling of my entry in this year’s East End Main Street Streetworks effort. I’m holding off on posting it until two days before the big Streetworks auction. However, this Friday’s PopCulteer will be all about the creative process that I used to come up with this year’s piece, and I’ll also give you all the details on how you can attend the auction, and hopefully get in a bidding war with somebody over my work.

Bella Rosa

Sunday Evening Video: MEGO MEET METAL

bXxUGPsAs promised in our MEGO Meet photo essay, here is MEGO MEET METAL,  a quick and sloppy collection of images from last week’s MEGO Meet at the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum in Wheeling, set to metal-ish music from the YouTube library. It was the tenth annual convention for collectors of MEGO and MEGO-like action figures put on by The MEGO Museum.

MEGO was one of the top toy companies of the 1970s, and was instrumental in changing the toy business to one based primarily on licensed properties. MEGO made action figures and other toys based on Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, S.W.A.T., Happy Days, The Waltons and tons of other movies and TV shows. They also brought Micronauts to American kids. After ruling the toy industry in the early 1970s, MEGO had a reversal of fortune and found themselves out of business in the early 1980s.

But the MEGO action figures left a lasting impression among fans, collectors and customizers, and now there are several companies producing action figures in MEGO’s trademark 8-inch size. This video was shot entirely by Melanie Larch and edited by Rudy Panucci, and was just done for fun to show some of the cool stuff that was on display at MEGO Meet. If you check out last week’s photo essay (linked above) you will find links to many of the dealers and customizers whose work is shown here.

RFC Flashback: Episode 80

RFC 80 “No Pants Players Shirt” from RFC Archives on Myspace.

We go back to september, 2009 for the 80th edition of Radio Free Charleston. This episode features a vintage music video by Go Van Gogh, and two then-new recordings of Blue Million. Coincidentally enough, just a couple of weeks ago we caught The Nanker Phelge (featuring Go Van Gogh’s Stephen Beckner) playing with Blue Million at Dunbar Lanes. Host segments were shot across the street from the studios of WCHS Radio.  Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Radio Free Charleston was a radio show that emenated from that building.

In addition to the music, this episode also includes the animated “Digitally Assaulted Charleston #2” plus a vintage commerical for The GI Joe Adventure Team and a promo for the First Guitar Giveaway, which ended almost five years ago, so don’t bother entering. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run to Route 60 Music for all your music needs, because they still rule the valley.

You can find the original production notes HERE.

A Quick One

The PopCulteer
June 1310428408_752570141461150_7891567440598161136_o, 2014

This week your PopCulteer is juggling technical issues and pressing deadlines, so this PopCulteer will be a short one. Before we get into the “Stuff To Do” this weekend, please check out my post from earlier this week on Kanawha Players and their fundraising efforts. The 92-year-old organization is trying to avert extinction and it would be cool if we could help keep the Players alive. Your PopCulteer will be at the Ed Wood Double Feature this evening, and there’s all kinds of other ways you can pitch in over the next few weeks.

On to a truncated list of stuff…

2574094_origDr. Sketchy’s goes all fairy on us this Sunday, as they present “Seelie vs. Unseelie Court.” This is themed around the Victorian era legends of fairies and other magical imps. There are two new models for this session, Bella Rosa and Phoenix.As always with Dr. Sketchy’s, “Put the life back into life drawing with Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. Joins us at Uncork and Create (1031 Quarrier St across the street from the Quarrier Diner) in Charleston, WV. 18+ and bring your own art supplies. 21+ BYOB. $10 at the door. All art mediums are accepted as long as they don’t disturb anyone else. Artists of any skill level from the novice to the pro are invited to come create in this relaxed environment.” This session takes place Sunday at 6 PM, at Uncork and Create. 

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Technical Difficulties

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This week’s PopCult Bookshelf will appear on Saturday because something bad happened to it, and now it won’t move no more. Please check back with PopCult for our regular features in their regular places once we get done smaking the blog making machine with a hammer.

Kanawha Players Needs Your Help

44485787AKanawha Players, a Charleston institution and the second oldest continually running community theatre group in the country, is in serious trouble. They are beyond critical when it comes to cash flow. If they cannot raise some much needed money this month, they may cease to exist next month. It would be a shame if this happened.

10408514_10152168185682879_507780069751076753_nThe Charleston theatre community has already witnessed the recent demise of the Charleston Stage Company and several other community theatre groups are struggling more than usual to find an audience. I don’t know whether it’s the still lingering recession, the cultural brain-drain stemming from the loss of Union Carbide, or just increased competition from Netflix, but it’s getting harder and harder to get people to leave their homes and come out to enjoy and experience live entertainment.

KP has played host to The Wayward Girls School of Burlesque, which gives us an excuse to run this great drawing of Penny Maple, by the amazing Glen Brogan
KP has played host to The Wayward Girls School of Burlesque, which gives us an excuse to run this great drawing of Penny Maple, by the amazing Glen Brogan

Let’s not mince words. Kanawha Players has been tap dancing on the edge of oblivion for a very long time. However, the current administration has been very proactive, reaching out and establishing new ties in the artistic community, giving new talent a chance to shine and opening their stage up for art, dance, experimental theatre and rock music.KP has become a vital and exciting part of the Charleston art community. It would be a shame to see this renewed relevance snuffed out.

KP is throwing a few “hail Marys” this month to try to raise the necessary funds to continue.

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