PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Pin Up Girl


This week’s art is a watercolor over a ballpoint-pen drawing I did over the weekend. It’s probably the first watercolor I’ve attempted in over thirty years, and the limited palette is due to the fact that I only had reds and pinks available. It came out a little sloppier than I wanted, and I still need to work on drawing feet and hands, but it’s not bad for being the product of rusty hands. The subject is an upcoming action figure custom I plan for later in the year, as part of the extended Adventure Team SCUBA team.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR,  7 AM sees a mini-marathon of Psychedelic Shack. Then at 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. At 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis. That makes Monday the beginning of 24 hours of programming from Haversham Recording Instistute in London. If you recall, last we were supposed to have new episodes of our trio of musical specialty programs from our British friends, but Haversham got overwhelmed providing production support for news crews covering the fire at The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris last Monday, and that’s the day they usually start recording their programs for The AIR. We’re not sure if we’ll have new programs from this this week, as the schedule is supposed to see their shows arriving bi-weekly until July, but we’re hoping.

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…


Sunday Evening Videos: Random Easter Cartoons

It’s that day of the year when the last thing anybody is thinking about doing is checking PopCult for new posts.

So in honor of this high holy day, we’re going to post some holiday-related classic, and/or obscure cartoons, without comment and without any further ado, context, or deep thought. This is a random collection of animated stuff from all over space and time. Some you may have seen. Some you may not have seen.

Happy Easter to our readers who celebrate.

For everybody else, I hope you get a kick out of these cartoons…

The RFC Flashback: Episode 180

This week we head back to February, 2013 for an eclectic episode of Radio Free Charleston that mixed up some different types of music into a cool package.

For our first musical spot, we harvested an unused song fro the previous summer’s “Tribute To The Troops,” and bring you Undersocial with “I Don’t Care.”  Next up, making their RFC debut, we brought you Science of the Mind with “The Sky Is Falling.” Playing us out this week we had another act making their debut on our show, Cat Schrodinger (accompanied by Pepper Fandango), Cat would go on to appear on Radio Free Charleston as part of The Laser Beams, and as part of Wayward Girls School of Burlesque.

The trip through RFC’s memory lane continues next week, with a special single-performance episode.

Looking At DC Universe

The PopCulteer
April 19, 2019

In this week’s PopCulteer we’re going to take a quick look at DC Universe, the new streaming service based on DC Comics that was in the news earlier this week.DC Universe is available on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and other streaming devices, as well as on the web and as of this week, Xbox.

A couple of days ago a bit of a non-story broke that caused rumors that DC Universe might be on the verge of shutting down, less than a year after its launch. Production on the first season of Swamp Thing, a new horror series based on the classic comic book by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightston, was curtailed, with the season being shortened from 13 to ten episodes, and with the tenth episode being hastily re-written to serve as a season finale. Swamp Thing is going to be the third live-action original series produced for DC Universe, and it debuts at the end of May.

While this made many people speculate that DC Universe might be on the chopping block, it’s actually par for the course. The first DC Universe live-action series, Titans, had at least one episode trimmed from its initial season, which led to a muddled and confusing season finale.

The reason given was “creative differences” between DC Universe and Warner Brothers Television, which is producing the show, but that seems a bit odd since both companies are part of Warner Media. More likely it had to do with bean counters realizing that when they sell the show into syndication overseas, for services like Netflix in Europe, they’ll get the same amount of money for ten episodes that they would for thirteen.

That doesn’t mean that DC Universe is not looking at ending, or at least changing significantly, but it’s just an unrelated story.

The truth is, last week Disney dropped a flaming pile of dog crap on the front porch of every company running, or getting ready to launch, a streaming entertainment service. They announced that Disney+ will cost $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year.

This undercut the expected $9.99 price point, and is causing a lot of concern with other streaming services. Netflix is currently $12.99 per month, and soon they’ll be losing all their Disney, Marvel and Star Wars content to the new service, which costs just  a little more than half as much.  Add to that the newly-acquired content from their Fox purchase, and Disney+ looks like a bargain at that price, considering that they now own all the Disney classics, Marvel Comics’ TV and Movie properties, Star Wars, Planet of The Apes, Aliens, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers and thousands of other popular properties.

Warner Brothers/AT&T is preparing their own in-house streaming service, and now they have to deal with competing at a much lower price point. Warners owns DC Universe, and DC Universe costs $7.99 or $74.99 a year.
There is a lot of speculation that DC Universe will either be shut down, with all their content folded into the new Warners Streaming Service, or they may be kept alive as an add-on to the new Warners service for an extra dollar a month.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep the two services completely separate now that they have to face Disney+ at such a low price.

Reportedly, DC Universe now has around 700,000 subscribers, but there’s no telling how many of those are paid subscriptions. A lot of people received complimentary passes for the first year. If Warners decides to simply make DC Universe part of their new streaming service, then those few hundred thousand subscribers might give them a decent head start.

As for DC Universe, this post now shifts into being a review of that service. I’ve been watching since last December, and I’ve come to like much of it. Some of it, though, doesn’t work for me.

First, we have to look at the original series. So far we’ve had Titans, the animated Young Justice, and Doom Patrol. DC Universe doles these out in weekly doses, rather than dumping them all at once for folks who like to binge. That doesn’t bother me, but some people have been very vocal about how it irritates them.

It’s a smart business move. With a limited number of series in the pipeline, debuting one episode a week (or three, in the case of Young Justice), is a way of having fresh content, more often. Had they just dumped the shows all at once, there would have been gaps of a month or two between new shows, and it’d be easy for people to forget they had the service.


This is a very dark, grim and gritty take on the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez version of DC’s Teen Titans, with elements of other takes on the characters mixed in. It’s not terribly faithful to the comics, but it is recognizable. It’s a super team comprised partly of sidekicks to the major DC superheroes.

Freed from having “Teen” in the title, the producers took some liberties, having characters who are roughly the same age in the comics be anywhere from 14 to well into their thirties here. This makes for a stronger take on the stories, which are presented in an ultra-violent manner, with so much strong language that, at times, you might think that they have a quota they have to meet, with a minimum amount of gratuitous f-bombs sprinkled throughout the show.

It’s really weird hearing Robin cuss.

I’m not exactly a prude. This is the first time I can recall watching a movie or TV show that struck me as having too many curse words. The problem with f-bombs is, if they’re overused, they lose all their shock value and effectiveness.

Aside from that quibble, and the season finale, which was a mess, Titans is a decent action show with superheroes. The characters are nothing like their comic book counterparts, and there are a couple of highly-questionable wardrobe choices, but if you forget that you ever read the comic books, then it’s a good, adult, superhero melodrama.

Young Justice: Outsiders

This is the real gem on DC Universe–the reason many people signed up for the service. Young Justice: Outsiders is season three of the spectacular animated series, Young Justice, which ran on Cartoon Network for two seasons from 2010-2012.

Young Justice was basically a new take on The Teen Titans, this time presented as a junior version of The Justice League. Under the creative direction of Greg Weisman, the series was just an excellent rendition of the struggles of younger superheroes as they mature and step out from behind the protection of their mentors.

On DC Universe, the show is able to shed some of the restrictions of being a children’s program, but they do it in a tasteful way, without the overkill of Titans. The new series puts a bit of a spin on the adventures, as they retell a bit of the storyline that, in the comics of the 1980s, set up Batman and The Outsiders as a team of superheroes who work outside of the Justice League’s political constraints.

Along the way there’s a healthy mix of Jack Kirby’s concepts, too.

This is easily the best thing on DC Universe, and it’ll be great when it returns with new episodes in June.

Doom Patrol.

I have mixed feelings about this show. I love the original Doom Patrol comics. I also really enjoyed later versions of the team, as written by Paul Kupperberg and Grant Morrison.

I would have liked to see a straight adaptation of the original concept before they introduced all the later developments. Having said that, I think the producers are making it work, for the most part. The show is consistantly entertaining and certainly isn’t hamstrung by being faithful to the comics. They largely ignored most of the original comics of the 1960s, and jumped right into things with the super-bizarre reboot that Grant Morrison wrote in the 1990s.

It’s still a great show. I have a few quibbles. There’s a huge continuity error in the first episode, where one character is shown to have been living in “Doom Manor” for over twenty years, but when another character suddenly returns after having been gone a short time, he doesn’t recognize her, while all the other characters do.

I also have a serious dislike for the way they completely changed Negative Man’s characterization from their pilot appearance in an episode of Titans. In that episode he’s shown as a happy eccentric, cooking gourmet meals while jamming to AC/DC. In the Doom Patrol series, he’s a self-loathing once-closeted gay man who carried on an affair with his boyfriend behind his wife’s back. He’s moody and mopey and depressing. If he does cook, he probably does it while he listens to the Smiths.

As with Titans, there are also a lot of unnecesary f-bombs, like they had a quota. At least here, they’re funny.

The cast includes some big names. Matt Bomer provides the voice for Negative Man, and I can’t help but wonder if they just gayed up the character because the actor is openly gay. Brandon Fraser provides the voice for Robotman. Both actors appear as their characters in flashbacks to before their disfiguring accidents. We didn’t really need to see Brandon Fraser’s butt in that sex scene.

Timothy Dalton was cast as “The Chief,” Niles Caulder, for the series, which was a major upgrade from the guy who portrayed Caulder in the pilot (which. again, was an episode of Titans).

The performances are great, and the writers are clearly having loads of fun trying to translate Morrison’s Dadaistic concepts into film. Despite my misgivings, this one’s a winner.

The Rest of DC Universe

So DC Universe has three pretty good-to-excellent original shows, but that’s not enough to carry a streaming service. Luckily, DC has a pretty deep catalog of primo material.

Any service that has Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited is off to a fantastic start. When you add classic TV like Wonder Woman, Shazam, The Adventures of Superman and the original Flash TV show to the mix, you have a pretty damned good selling point. With Swamp Thing coming soon, DC fans have a lot to enjoy in terms of television.

DC Universe also offers some movies, but they have a bad habit of rotating content off the channel. They have had all the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, but those are off at the moment. They also have tons of the animated DC movies that have been coming out for years, but they seem to come and go in a pretty haphazard manner.

There’s no real excuse for this. It’s not like AT&T can’t afford the server space to keep these shows online. They want to compete with Netflix, but they don’t want to maintain a catalong of more than a couple hundred movies and TV shows. It doesn’t make any sense.

There are a couple of notable omissions in their library, too. They don’t have, and may never be able to show, the 1960s Batman TV Show. I can only imagine how much more complicated the streaming rights to that show became when Disney bought Fox, who hold some piece of it. They also don’t have Smallville, which was an excellent program. They may have had it at one time, but it’s not there now.

They did just recently add the first season of Krypton, just in time to catch up before the second season starts on SyFy. And they remastered the Shazam series from the 1970s, so it looks better than it did on the DVD release that came out a few years back. It’s just a shame that they aren’t leaving all their movies and TV shows up for at least a year.

There is also another selling point for DC Universe, which is a big deal for folks who, unlike me, enjoy reading their comic books online. DC Universe is in the process of adding their entire library of individual issues of comics books to the service. These are all the books that were previously available through Comixology. Annoyingly, DC Universe mixes their comics in with their video content, as you can see above. It makes for a less-than-enjoyable scrolling experience when you’re only in the mood for one or the other.

I don’t read comics online. I work in front of a computer all day, and I read comics to get away from that. I also don’t own a tablet. Up until I started getting treatment for Myasthenia Gravis about three years ago, I couldn’t operate a touch screen, so there was never any pressing need for a tablet in my house. The comics available through DC Universe have made me consider getting a tablet, but until that happens, it’s an entire area of the service that I don’t use.

If you are into digital comics, be advised that they won’t add comics until a year after they’ve been published, and there are huge gaps in their Golden, Silver and Bronze Age libraries, with most of the comics that they offer being from the past twenty years, which for me, is a pretty depressing prospect, since that’s when I quit buying most DC Comics because they lost my interest.

Keep in mind here, that I’m hardly in the key demographic for DC Universe, so don’t let my grumpy old man attitude turn you off the idea of subscribing.

There are other informational videos you can watch on DC Universe. So far, I haven’t found one that has anything in it that I didn’t already know, but then, I’ve been reading comics for fifty years. The DC Universe website offers sweepstakes, news articles and a webstore, as an adjunct to the service, too. While fun, none of those are deal-makers or breakers.

There is one other feature on DC Universe that I need to address: DC Daily. This is a five-day-a-week series that provides daily video content for the service, and it’s basically an informercial for all things DC.

Originally it started out with one anchor, shouting news items excitedly at the camera like they were a “YouTube Influencer” on crack. That segment would be posted to YouTube, but on the DC Universe service after that, they would go to a panel discussion, on a fancy set with four-to-eight people sitting on couch, arguing about what they love best about DC Comics, movies or TV shows.This show is largely hype for whatever movies, TV Show or comics are just coming out, or long pointless reviews of things that can be seen elsewhere on DC Universe.

The couch panelists are irritating hyper-hype-bots who lavish praise on whatever they discuss. They actually run a disclaimer at the beginning of the panel saying that “The opinions expressed are the views of the panelists, and not that of DC Universe.” This is hilarious because the opinions tend to range from “I think this new issue of Batman is the best thing in the world” to “I think this new issue of Superman cured my psoraisis.” At least the set looks cool (as seen below).

The news segments sometimes included some useful information, and then, when the panel started, you could just bail and spare yourself the aggravation. It seems like, for the past few weeks anyway, they have eliminated the news segments, and just go straight to the panel.

I think that indicates that DC Daily may not be long for this world. It would be a bean-counter-induced mercy killing. Again, this may be me bitching from outside the key demographic, but I don’t really need to hear people who weren’t born yet when I was a comic book editor yammering endessly about how absolutely wonderful a comic book I chose not to order is better than the ones that I still I cherish in my collection.

I’ve called the show “an infomerical,” but that isn’t really fair to infomercials. At least I can watch those for more than a minute or two. (Longer if it’s the one with the Super Air Fryer Oven)

I can’t imagine DC Universe keeping that many people on the payroll to staff a daily show that I would imagine most subscribers watch for less than a minute, if at all. They maybe need to revamp the show, get rid of the panel discussions, get rid of the panelists, and find one or two credible anchors who can talk about comics without sounding like blithering idiots. They need a comic book version of Kurt Loder.

Lately, DC Daily has disappeared from the home page of DC Universe on my Roku. It’s still there, with new episodes, but you have to search for it.Not a good sign for its logenvity.

In the end, is DC Universe worth it?

It all depends. If you absolutely love DC Comics and have for your entire life, absolutely. It’s a bargain to have all the animated series in one place, and if you read comics on a tablet, you should be in hog heaven.

If you’re a casual fan, probably not. When you’re weighing your options later this year, eight bucks a month for DC Universe vs. seven bucks a month for Disney Plus, which includes Star Wars, Marvel and Fox properties, might seem like a no-brainer to go with the less expensive service that has five or six animated Marvel series in the pipeline already.

For me…I’ll probably re-up, but I’d like see them make some changes.

That’s this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features.

New Music From Cherry Poppin’ Daddies


One of your PopCulteer’s favorite bands has a new CD due out in June, and there are already a couple of singles available! The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, whose lone 2018 performance East of the Mississippi got rained out last year when the Live On The Levee folks decided not to move the show to the Municipal Auditorium, are set to release their eleventh album, “Bigger Life,” and it’s a return to their original form, mixing different styles like Ska, Swing, Punk and Funk across the different tunes on the CD.

Had they been able to perform in Charleston last summer, I’m sure we would have been treated to previews of some of these songs. While the CPD are primarily known as a Swing Revival band, the truth is that they simply sprinkled two or four Swing numbers across each of their first three albums. In 1997 those Swing tunes were compiled into “Zoot Suit Riot,” which thrust them into the Swing Revival spotlight alongside acts like The Brian Setzer Orchestra and Royal Crown Revue.

When the band reverted to their original form for “Soul Caddy,” their Swing fans were confused, and eventually the band took a brief hiatus, returning with a string of great CDs, and winding up with a couple of recent albums dedicated to Swing (and one hilarious take on old school country). Now the band is punching out of the pigeonhole again with their genre-defying new release.

You can check out the first single, the punky/funky “Gym Rat,” right here (this may not be safe for work, depending on where you work)…

That’s not all! You can see the video for the second single, the half Swing/half Swagger “Diesel Punx” right here (the same warnings apply)…

You can download the singles now by clicking on the links in their titles above. “Bigger Life” by The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies is due out June 14. You can pre-order it now in a variety of formats.


Easter Weekend Stuff To Do

It’s been a while since I shined the PopCult spotlight on a whole bunch of local events, but with Easter this weekend, the floodgates have opened, and we will be showered with cool stuff to do on this April weekend. Just check out the graphics to see what Friday and Saturday bring, but first, remember that there’s a benefit at The Alban Arts Center tonight, and a late show this evening at The Empty Glass featuring The Big Bad.

Wednesday, April 17


Friday, April 19




Saturday April 20






It’s another new-show Tuesday on The AIR as we deliver new episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Psychedelic Shack and The Swing Shift to our loyal listeners. You can get a partial idea of what to expect. All you have to do is tune in at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

It all kicks off at 10 AM (with a replay at 10 PM– all times EDT) with a brand-new edition of Radio Free Charleston. Now in its thirtieth year, RFC continues to bring you more local music than any other source.

This week we’re dipping into the archives for the whole hour. We open with Rasta Rafiki, from 1992, and crack open all sorts of vintage tracks, some of them exclusive to Radio Free Charleston.

Check out the playlist here:


Rasta Rafiki “Persepctive of Love”
Todd Burge “I’m Going Down”
The Big Bad “Nobody Makes It Out Of Here Alive (Live 2009)”
Time And Distance “That Girl”
Crazy Jane “Silver”
Terra Firma Ensemble “Brambles and Briars”
The Liquid Canvas “Spirit Molecule”
Io & The Ions “There’s A Light”
Science of the Mind “Suffer”
HARRAH “CODA (Gotta Get Out)”

Following the 10 AM debut of this episode, you can stick around and listen to three previously-aired shows, for a four-hour local music fix.

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight and Sunday at 1 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

While we will also have new episodes of Psychedelic Shack and The Swing Shift, I can’t tell you what will be on them. Nigel Pye will be transmitting his episode to me overnight from the UK, and I’m not recording The Swing Shift until Tuesday morning, which becomes a problem when I’m writing this Monday afternoon. You’ll have to tune in to find out what we’re playing.

Psychedelic Shack can be heard Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 5 PM and Saturday at 7 AM and the next Tuesday at 9 AM.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Remember, you can tune in to The AIR at all hours of the day and night for a variety and quality of programming that you will not find anywhere else. Check PopCult regularly for details on our new episodes.

Monday Morning Art: City Nights #5


This week’s art started life as a loose charcoal pencil doodle, then I scanned it into the computer and painted it digitally to create a noirish nightscape of the city. As you can tell by the title, I’ve been doing this a lot lately. I’m trying to go for an Expressionistic style without relying on the stock brushes and filters that come built into my graphic programs and plug-ins. The end result, I think, manages to capture the look of a photograph fed through a series of filters, only with far more time and work spent on it. Maybe I need to rethink this approach. Click to see a bigger version.

Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR,  7 AM sees a mini-marathon of Live and Local. Over the course of eight hours you will hear live recordings of Matt McGuire (7 AM), Lancaster/Roberts?Browining( 8 AM), Hybrid Soul Project (9:40 AM), The Spurgie Hankins Band (10:45 AM), Travis Stephens (11: 30 AM) and Go Van Gogh (1:35 PM).  All times are Eastern, and all but Go Van Gogh were recorded at The Empty Glass. Then at 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. At 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis.  

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

I don’t often recycle Sunday Evening Videos, but this week we are once again bringing you the original Adventures of Captain Marvel movie serial from 1942.

I originally posted this here in 2016, but that video has been yanked from YouTube, so this week we’re going to present, for the second time a new and improved print that also edits out all the redundant openings and closings from each serial, and gets the running time down to under three hours.

With the much-hyped “Shazam” movie currently ruling the box office, I thought it might be good to show how cool this superhero could be when he’s not played as a comedic super-powered version of the movie Big. I first posted this version last August but it seemed like an apt time to repeat it, plus I’ve got a magazine deadline staring me in the face, so it helps to lighten the load a bit. I just did the historical run-down of why Captain Marvel can’t use his original name in last Friday’s PopCulteer, so I’ll edit a bit out of this spiel.

Suffice to say, Captain Marvel was huge in the 1940s, and experienced a surge in popularity again in the 1970s, thanks to a top-rated Saturday morning live-action show on CBS.

“Shazam” was one of DC’s four most-merchandisable heroes. Kids in the 1940s and the 1970s fell in love with Billy Batson, who could turn into the super-powered Captain Marvel just by saying “Shazam.” DC had mixed results with the character in terms of sales, though, and the original Captain Marvel has been rebooted, with great versions and not-so-great versions many times over the years.

Adventures_of_captain_marvelTonight we once again go back to the original incarnation of the hero at the height of his popularity for the entire 12-chapter serial, The Adventures of Captain Marvel. from 1941. This is widely considered to be the greatest superhero movie serial from the golden age of Hollywood, and while it’s not entirely faithful to the comic book, it’s a great adaptation and a lot of fun.

So set aside just under three hours and enjoy the show, or order the DVD, which was released last year, so you can watch one chapter at a time. Either way, this is the REAL Captain Marvel, not a lady using the name, or a big dumb guy calling himself “Shazam.”

The current comic book version is pretty bad, demonstrating a complete misunderstanding of what made the character work so well on the part of Johns. The movie is faithful to the awful comic, and gives the character the mind of a kid, and not even a good kid at that (in the original comics he has the wisdom of Solomon, which sort of blows that crappy idea out of the water).

Last year I wrote, “It’s a double-edged sword for fans of the original Captain Marvel:  If the movie fails, then DC will never try to make another movie with him, and will probably abandon the idea of publishing any comics beyond what Geoff Johns wants to do.  If the movie is a success, then generations of kids will grow up with this lousy parody of the original concept, and won’t know just how good the original comics were.”

It looks like future generations will grow up with a pretty lame copy of the original.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 179

This week we go back to February, 2013, for one of the most-watched episodes of Radio Free Charleston.  We showed a music video by Byzantine, and presented a simulated cartoon of The Wayward Girls School of Burlesque, set to a musical collaboration between Radiohead and Frank Panucci. Not content with that, we also have Douglas Imbrogno and Albert Perrone from Third Eye Cabaret, and animation from Andrew Benjamin, of Hellblinki. There’s even a cameo by Linda Blair and Penn Jillette.

The music video for “Soul Eraser” by Byzantine was directed by Matt Maloney and was shot right here, in West Virginia. It’s always a blast to have Byzantine on the show to lend us a little legitimacy.  “Nude,” the Radiohead song remixed by Frank Panucci provided the soundtrack for our film of the debut perofrmance by The Wayward Girls School of Burlesque. The video footage was digitally manipulated by yours truly, who spent hours doing what can now be done by the flip of a button on most phones. Albert and Douglas play us out with Albert’s song, “Twenty Thousand Days.”

You can find the original production notes for this show HERE.