PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Tex Avery’s Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection

Next up in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide we have an extended body of work by one of the masters of gag animation, Tex Avery. Tex Avery’s Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection contains all 24 theatrical shorts that star Droopy Dog. That number includes several that were directed by lesser hands after Avery left MGM, but you still get plenty of primo canine cartoon fun.

Let’s check the hype copy:

A dog may be man’s best friend, but a cartoon fan’s bestfriend is Droopy, the diminutive basset hound created by animation legend Tex Avery. No matter the challenge, deadpan Droopy remains unflappable. Yes, there are jowly folds, but no flaps. Not ever.

Droopy speaks slowly but thinks fast. He moves slowly but pops up quicker than a dog can lick a dinner dish, anywhere he needs to be. He’s the ideal counterpoint to Avery’s trendsetting sight gags, extended reactions and hilarious unpredictability.

All 24 of the theatrical Droopy cartoons – with The Wolf and bulldog Spike joining the fun – are showcased in this one-of-a-kind 2-disc Collector’s Set. You’ll be happier than a flea in a doghouse.

This is the perfect gift for the fan of classic animation on your holiday shopping list. It’s also great for fans of Droopy, cartoon mayhem, and Ben Stein. You can find it online at Warner Archives, or for considerably less at Amazon.

Check out this random, unauthorized compilation of highlights…

Local Spotlight: Kin Ship Goods

Nestled comfortably on a side street in Charleston’s West Side, just half a block from Washington Street, we find a nifty little shop dedicated to providing cozy apparel, accessories, and home goods for you and yours. Our local spotlight in today’s 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is Kin Ship Goods.

You’ve probably heard of Kin Ship Goods, a brand of apparel, accessories, and home goods designed by Dan Davis & Hillary Harrison. They are based in Charleston, returning to their roots after having started their business in Louisville.

Their shop is filled with clothing and mugs and other cool things of their own design. In their words, “Our goods are inspired by starry nights, peeling paint, vintage keepsakes, imperfections, labors of love, and early mornings.”

Their products have been featured in major magazines, and have been seen in television shows and movies. Their brick and mortar shop is located at 613 Tennessee Avenue, in Charleston, just around the corner from Gonzoburger and Fountain Hobby.

Kin Ship Goods is currently closed for a couple of days as they’re gearing up for Black Friday, when they’ll be releasing nine new designs, and bringing back five classic designs. They’ll also kick off their biggest sale of the year, with 25% off everything from Friday, November 23, to Monday, November 26. This is in their store and at their website (and the website is still open).

All weekend long, at the store, Kin Ship Goods and Base Camp (the printing company next door) will have new products, sales, giveaways and snacks. On Black Friday they will be open from 11 AM to 7 PM. Small Business Saturday (November 24) sees Vandalia Donut Company set up outside the store, and the first 100 people at the door receive a free goodie bag, plus they’ll have in-store giveaways. The store isn’t usually open on Sunday, but for this sale they will be there from 11 AM to 7 PM. Cyber Monday (November 26) sees the sale wrap up, with a few bonus items sneaking online.

Kin Ship Goods is a great local source for gift ideas from T Shirts to mugs to sweatshirts and more. You’re bound to find a great gift here, or you can just purchase a gift card, in store, or online.

Reefer Madness Comics

Reefer Madness Comics
edited by Craig Yoe
comics by Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Frank Frazetta, Jerry Robinson and more
Dark Horse Books
ISBN-13: 978-1506702278

Wrapping up Monday in , we have the perfect gift the advocate of cannibas and CBD Oil on your holiday gift-giving list…if they have a healthy sense of humor. I reviewed this book earlier this year for PopCult, but it deserves another pass around, as a gift suggestion.

Master comics historian, Craig Yoe, has gone to pot…literally. This new collection of comics brings together some of the most hysterically dramatic and unrealistic portrayals of the dangers of marijuana that you’re likely to ever find. Reefer Madness Comics may very well be your gateway drug into the world of vintage crime comics.

It’s not all presented for laughs. Yoe’s introductory essay touches on the power of propaganda and how the comics medium was used to help villify marijuana, only to see the same tactics of junk science and ethically dubious evidence used against the comics industry in the 1950s. It’s a meaty topic and one well worth considering now that we seem to be living in the golden age of misinformation.

But beyond that, the real attraction in Reefer Madness are the comics. Comics that, no matter how skillful the creator, or how sharp their storytelling abilities, are solidly rooted in an almost total ignorance of their subject matter. These comics are uproariously entertaining because they are so spectacularly dumb.

The comics reprinted in Reefer Madness Comics (which takes its name from the classic and now campy propaganda film of the 1930s) read like Jack Chick Comics on drugs.

Mostly gathered from crime comics of the 1940s and 1950s (with a few exceptions), these comics are so over-the-top in their presentation of pot as being the most dangerous menace to society ever that they rise to a sublime level of ridiculousness.

With titles like “Satan’s Cigarettes,” “Hopped up Killer,” “Dope Menace” and “Monkey On Her Back,” you can be assured that you’re in for an epic unintentional humor contact high.

Evidently written by people who had absolutely no firsthand experience with marijuana, these cautionary tales are filled with wild behavior that no educated person would ever associate with the use of pot. There are murder sprees, robberies, prostitution and everything they could imagine. The Jack Kirby story (that’s a panel at the bottom of this post) is about a serial rapist/torturer/arsonist/murderer who is driven to kill when he doesn’t get his reefer!

Your reader will need to have a fine appreciation of irony and the absurd, and enough knowledge to determine how mind-blowingly silly these comics are, to find them as entertaining as I do. However, if you’re looking for the absolute perfect gift for a pothead or pothead sympathizer, you’ve found it. Processed through the mind of someone who, in their day, may have “smoke too many pot,” Reefer Madness Comics may elicit a manic giggling fit not unlike some of the bizarre antics seen in this book. You should be able to order it from any bookseller by using the ISBN code, or check Amazon for a sizable discount.


Moonage Daydream: The David Bowie Songbook

Today’s local pick is one that’s been a long time coming. For years Ryan Hardiman, accompanied by Mark Scarpelli and a crew of Charleston’s top musicians, as been performing songs from The David Bowie Songbook as part of Charleston’s New Year’s Eve “Good Night” concert series.

This year finally saw the recording and release of an album by the group that grew out of those concerts. Moonage Daydream: The Bowie Songbook spans the constellation of Bowie’s brilliant career, performed with vocals, piano and string quintet by Ryan Hardiman, Mark Scarpelli, Alasha Al Qudwah, Joseph Cevallos, Jeff Lipscomb, Dean Pauley and Eli Chambers.

As anyone who’s witnessed the concerts knows, this is not only a loving tribute to the music of David Bowie, but it also stands on its own as a high-quality interpretation of some of the finest music ever written.

You can find hard copies on CD or Vinyl in local record stores, or download the album from Amazon, iTunes or other online services.

Moonage Daydream: The Bowie Songbook will be performed live at the V Club on Friday, December 7.  Doors 8 PM, with the show starting at 10 PM. There will be $10 cover and copies of the new album on vinyl and CD will be available. You can take your gift recipient to the show, or just go and enjoy it yourself, picking up the album while you’re there. Either way it’s a great gift.

This is the perfect gift for the music lover, Bowie fan, or supporter of the local scene on your holiday shopping list. Check out a sample below…

The Best Of SHOCKED AND AMAZED! – On & Off the Midway
by James Taylor
Available directly from the author
$25 (plus shipping, signed paperback)
$35 (plus shipping, signed hardback)

Our first pick in today’s 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is a collection of articles from a legendary journal devoted to sideshow entertainment, The Sideshow Collectors Edition of The Best of Shocked And Amazed!–On & Off The Midway. It’s perfect for fans of sideshow entertainment, who to be honest, don’t have too many gifts targeted toward them.

Over 15 years ago, The Best of SHOCKED AND AMAZED! burst onto the show biz scene as the fitting capstone to a decade of our publishing the world’s only journal devoted to sideshow in all its manifestations and all other “weirdness as entertainment.” And now, it’s time for the author to top even that.

Newly published is the Sideshow Collectors Edition of James Taylor’s SHOCKED AND AMAZED! – On & Off the Midway. In the Collectors Edition you’ll get all of the original Best of S&A! in a new, re-designed format – and with over 100 pages of new content!

James Taylor (seen below) has been called “the world’s foremost authority on sideshow.” His Shocked and Amazed! On & Off the Midway was the world’s only journal on contemporary and historical sideshow, novelty & variety exhibition and “weirdness as entertainment.” He has been covering “the other entertainment” for over two decades and has been featured in all major broadcast and print media worldwide for his work in that field from the Baltimore Sun to the New York Times. He is also the co-founder of Baltimore’s American Dime Museum and Washington, DC’s, Palace of Wonders and Red Palace. And, as the sideshow spirit moves him, he writes for the Huffington Post and has been a frequent broadcast columnist for Ripley’s Radio.

James Taylor’s Sideshow Collectors Edition of Shocked and Amazed! showcases the very best of the old-time business – collected from nine volumes of the journal – a journal that’s become iconic in the realm of the strange, the bizarre, the weird, the odd and the unusual. From the last (and sometimes only) interviews with the likes of Percilla the Monkey Girl and Jeanie Tomaini, the last of the Half Girls, to essays on famous women in sideshows and the Man With Three Eyes, it’s all the world’s weird… in one book. You want to know the true origins of the entertainment madness that is the show biz nowadays? It’s all here, in James Taylor’s SHOCKED AND AMAZED! On & Off the Midway – Sideshow Collectors Edition. Without it, oh, you’re just not “with it.”

You’ll find articles and interviews with and about conjoined twins, bearded ladies, pickled baby empressarios, monkey girls and aligator men and other denizens of the unusual novelty acts midway.

All copies are signed – if you’d like your copy personalized or a special message for the recipient of your gift,  that will be done at no added charge. Just check out the website.

The Best Of SHOCKED AND AMAZED! – On & Off the Midway would make a great gift for the fan of eccentric and offbeat carnival entertainment, or for fans of the “Freakshow” season of American Horror Story.

Monday Morning Art: Dragon


This week’s artistic wake-up call is a quick digital painting I did that was inspired by a Chinese Dragon I saw on the “Wall of Nine Dragons” in Chinatown in Chicago. It’s Impressionistic, or sloppy, depending on your point of view. Click to see it bigger.

Over on The AIR, Marathon Monday brings you Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. You can hear 12 episodes of our popular New Wave Music program, presented by legendary London DJ, Sydney Fileen.  You can tune in on The AIR website, or on this rather ingenious embedded transistor radio thingy…

And don’t forget to check PopCult later this afternoon for three more entries in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide.

Auto World 10′ Route 66 Slot Race Set

Auto World 10′ Route 66 Slot Race Set

Our final BIG TICKET DAY pick for The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide this weekend goes back to one of my favorite toys of my childhood, electric Slot Car sets. The Auto World 10′ Route 66 Slot Race Set is the latest racing set made by the folks Auto World, using the traditional HO Scale, Aurora-style X-Traction Ultra G-Slot Cars.

Race back in time to the glory days of America’s Mother Road – Route 66! You control the action as you race the supercharged ’55 Bel Air and ’69 Charger X-Traction Ultra-G slot cars across the Midwest from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. Speed past the St. Louis Arch, the Golden Oil Driller, Cadillac Ranch and more famous Route 66 landmarks! A great action packed gift!

Auto World brings back some history and maybe some memories of a trip down historic Route 66. Highlighted landmarks surround the 10 ft. of slot car track. Race the Route or just go for a Saturday cruise.

Includes 55 Chevy and 69 Charger cars. Fold-up scenic items. 10′ of track. 2 controllers and power-pack. Cruise Route 66 in the comfort of your own home in classic cars and without paying a penny for gas.

I had slot cars as a kid, and in addition to providing hours and hours of fun, they also taught me a lot about electrical wiring and how to drive like a maniac. The is a great set for the automobile fanatic on your shopping list, regardless of their age. You can buy it for just under $110 with free shipping directly from Auto World, or shop around to see if you can find a better deal.

Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Deluxe Limited Edition)

Today first BIG TICKET DAY entry in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is the best gift ever for any dedicated fan of Batman. Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Deluxe Limited Edition) includes all 109 episodes (Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures) of the critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning series that redefined the Dark Knight with its thematic sophistication, aesthetics, voice acting, and orchestral score.

All of the episodes have been remastered for the first time since their broadcast airing and are now all here in this stunning Blu-ray box set that’s spread over 10 Blu-ray discs, which also includes a Digital version (people complained mightily about the digital version only being viewable with Vudo and, at first, only being standard definision, but your PopCulteer only passes that info along, as he never bothers with digital copies of movies anyway).

Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Deluxe Limited Edition) can be found at Amazon for just under a hundred bucks, as I write this. You not only get all 109 action-packed episodes ( 35 hours of crime fighting), but you also get a deluxe, numbered package (which Amazon has not always packed appropriately, according to some reviews) that includes collectible Batman, Joker and Harley Quinn Funko Pocket POPS, 7 EXCLUSIVE Lenticular Collector Cards of Original Animation Artwork, plus 2 Bonus Discs of Animated Films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.

There are also 25 In-depth Featurettes including: A new definitive Batman: The Animated Series making-of documentary, “The Heart of Batman” — A rare gathering of talent defined Batman for a generation; Twenty-five years later, Batman: The Animated Series continues to inspire fans and myth makers all over the world– This is an in-depth look at the storytellers behind the series; Commentaries on 12 Episodes with Animation Creators.

It’s a complete package of one of the great achievements of modern television animation, and any Batman fan will appreciate the extremely high quality of what is probably the most faithful screen adaptation of the Batman mythos. The best price I’ve found for the Blu Ray edition is at Amazon, but you can probably find this almost anywhere that DVD and Blu Ray box sets are sold.

MST3K trading cards

MST3K trading cards

Today’s other BIG TICKET DAY pick for The 20818 PopCult Gift Guide is the first trading card set devoted the beloved cult TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. The second series is due to be out before Christmas, but you can still get your hands on the very first series by ordering a whole box from the manufacutrer, RRParks Cards. This is the perfect gift for fans of MST3K, and you’d better act fast because they are close to selling out. Here’s what the website says:

Took 30 years for this to happen… but it finally EXISTS! Mystery Science Theater 3000 Trading Cards Series One. 36 10-card packs come housed in a full color pop-up display style box. Each box is guaranteed a complete 104-card ‘Invention Exchange’ set, 50-card ‘Experiment’ set covering the first 3 years of the classic TV show, 29-card DVD Menu Art subset, 18-card Anaglyph 3D subset (with a free pair of 3D glasses in the box top) and a 36-card ‘Riff It’ Retro Stalgic subset. Look for special chase and hit cards (guaranteed TWO in each box) which can include a genuine original art sketch card, show-used costume prop card (2 different to chase!), genuine printing plate card, Limited Edition Byron Winton art card, Faux Film Cell card and more. Each box also comes with a limited edition full metal box topper. 36 packs, 360 total cards — and the retail box is produced 24pt full color inside and out with a bonus 33 mini clip-out cards. [postpaid in the US, international orders please message me for a special invoice to include shipping to your country] …THIS CARD BOX IS AVAILABLE NOW (but don’t wait too long… it is getting closer to being sold out!

Series one MSK3K Trading cards will run you eighty-five bucks for a box (including shipping in the US), but each box is guaranteed to include a complete set of base sets, along with lots of other goodies. Visit the RRParks Cards website to order, and scroll down to the second card set on the page. You may want to poke around the page to consider other trading cards sets, like The Three Stooges, Sharknado, and all sorts of less expensive monster and horror and Halloween related sets.


Best Of R.E.M. At The BBC

Best Of R.E.M. At The BBC

R.E.M. is almost the forgotten superstar rock group. From their peak in the early 1990s, playing to sold-out stadiums, to their quiet dissolution, it seems like their fans have not had a lot in the way of new product to enjoy of late. That all changes with the release of R.E.M. at The BBC. This weekend’s first BIG TICKET DAY entry in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is an eight CD, one DVD set that delivers many previously unreleased recordings to the die-hard fans of Athen’s, Georgia’s favorite sons.

In the U.S., R.E.M. came to attention in the early ’80’s and developed a fanbase around the band’s relentless touring schedule and college radio airplay a uniquely American network of local radio stations playing ‘alternative’ music. The band s emergence in Europe also stemmed around their live forays in England, France, the Netherlands and Germany starting in ’83. From this time, the BBC embraced the band not only with airplay, but also with interviews, TV appearances and in-studio sessions. This strong bind between R.E.M. and the BBC throughout the band s career is celebrated here.

R.E.M. grew up with the BBC, and this historic relationship is lovingly celebrated across an incredible collection that beautifully illustrates the career trajectory of one of modern music’s greatest bands. The collection—available as a super-deluxe edition 8-CD/1-DVD box set, as well as 2-CD, 2-LP and digital formats—comprises a treasure trove of rare and unreleased live and studio recordings culled from the BBC and band archives. This is a must-have collection for R.E.M. fans and an authoritative introduction for newcomers. You’ll find plenty of alternative recordings of the band’s greatest songs, plus unusual covers as diverse as ‘Moon River” and Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”

In-studio performances featured in the 8-CD/1-DVD box set include a John Peel Session (1998), Drivetime and Mark and Lard appearances (2003) and a glorious Radio 1 Live Lounge performance (2008). Live broadcasts include a rough-and-tumble show from Nottingham’s Rock City (1984), the stunning 1995 Milton Keynes Monster Tour (their first after a six-year break), a blistering 1999 Glastonbury headline set and an invitation-only 2004 show at London’s St James’s Church.

The DVD kicks off with a sixty-minute intimate retrospective of the band’s legendary performances at the BBC in the Accelerating Backwards film – previously broadcast only in the UK and available commercially for the first time here. Accelerating Backwards also includes revealing interviews with Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, further testifying to R.E.M.’s long, special relationship with the BBC. The DVD also offers a complete 1998 Later….With Jools Holland episode uniquely dedicated to the band, plus TV appearances on Top of the Pops and more.

The package liner notes add yet more behind-the-scenes insight to this definitive retrospective collection. Assorted BBC personalities reminiscence about what it was like to work with R.E.M both on stage and off. Respected BBC DJ/Presenter Jo Whiley recalls, “Their Glastonbury performance in 1999 was a dazzling moment: the band storming through an all-killer, no-filler setlist. As a headline performance, it was a triumph and, for me, it’s up there as one of the Glastonbury greats.” Of a 2001 Top of the Pops performance, BBC Producer Mark Hagen muses, “”Michael once told me that he hears in colors and it was one of those nights when you felt that you could reach out and touch the music as it flowed through the air, a glorious rolling cloud of green. Just like a kudzu vine in a dream.” Acclaimed rock journalist Tom Doyle also provides an overview of the entire thirty-year period.

In addition to the comprehensive box set, The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC is also available abridged via 2-CD and 2-LP formats. R.E.M. has had a special connection to West Virginia since their amazing 1991 performance on Mountain Stage, and this is a great “big” gift for their loyal fans. You can find it where ever CDs are sold, or order it from Amazon, where it’ll run you just under seventy bucks.


Check out the trailer here…