PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The West Virginia FILMmakers Festival, celebrating its 21st-year, will be screening virtually on Eventive the weekend of October 3 & 4, 2020. Screening 18 films online over two days. Despite not being an in-person event, this year’s slate looks to be mighty impressive, with the premiere of a documentary on West Virginia troubador Mike Morningstar, and screenings of great WV-made feature films like River of Hope and My Autopsy.

Highlights from the WVFF press release explain the decision to not to run as a physical festival at their home theater in Sutton:

“In Spring 2020, we witnessed many film festivals cancel for the year. We knew we didn’t want to cancel WVFF. Our research reflected festivals were running virtually (online) and live from location. We set that as our goal and in pursuit of it, we realized there was technical infrastructure work that needed to be done. For this reason, we are virtual only this year. Truth is, our festival and our filmmakers will have an even broader reach by embracing the option to screen virtually. We are seeing a lot of opportunities in opening the festival up online. We have the ability for more screening events throughout the year instead of one weekend. I admit, it’s not the same. As a FILMmaker or film goer, you want to see film in a theatre on a big screen with your crew, cast, family and friends. However, this whole year isn’t the same. So we adapt to survive. It is our plan to be both virtual and live in 2021, and screening live at the historic Elk Theatre in Sutton.”

“A great feature of a virtual festival is that you can watch the films on your schedule. You’re not tied to the screening time like you are in a live event. Just like any show you are streaming you can elect to watch Day One of the festival that’s best for you. You must order your ticket festival weekend and you have several days to view the films.”

West Virginia filmmakers screening at the WV FILMmakers festival for the first time this year include Deborah Novak, Carling McManus, Jen Susman, Quinton Miller, and Calvin Grimm.

Returning filmmakers are Richard Anderson, Harrison Reishman, Holly Mollohan and Bob Celli, who represent FILMmakers from West Virginia, Ohio, California, Virginia, New York, Canada and France.

The festival will begin online Saturday, October 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the Eventive platform from your smart tv, computer, smart phone or tablet. The festival kicks off with Andre Van Damme & The Story of the Charleston Ballet by Deborah Novak about founder Andre Van Damme, a premier danseur etoile and a Belgian resistance fighter of World War II, and the Charleston Ballet, one of America’s oldest ballet companies.

Saturday’s s final screening begins at 5:30pm with Richard Andersons’ feature documentary Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man. Mike Morningstar is a singer/songwriter born and raised in West Virginia. Mike began his musical career in 1964 when at the age of 16 he joined a predominately black rhythm & blues soul band. Four years later, Mike was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange and other traumas that resulted in PTSD. Consequently Mike’s musical career as well as his personal life changed dramatically. His marriage ended as well as his career playing with large bands. Mike became a loner, both in his personal life and in his musical career where he performed mostly as a solo artist. It took Mike over 20 years to get to the point where he could describe his Vietnam experience in song with the haunting Neu Ba Den. Other songs describe the plight of the working Man and the environmental destruction coal mining brought to his beloved West Virginia such as Buffalo Creek and Coal Country Blues. The film tells the story of Mike’s loss of his musically inclined son in a fatal car accident and Mike’s struggle to overcome his mental and physical challenges from the tragic episode of Vietnam. “Mike Morningstar: Here’s to the Working Man” is comprised of interviews with Mike and his wife of 27 years, Donna Morningstar as well as 14 of Mike’s songs, the majority of which are performed live.

Saturday evening, October 3, 7:00 p.m., live music with a Q & A session following the feature documentary, Mike Morningstar will play live streaming on Eventive from Todd Burge Studios with FILMmaker Richard Anderson. Tickets can be purchased at wvff2020.eventive.org.

The Sunday, October 4, at 11:00 a.m., screening schedule starts with three WV features: River of Hope, A Journey Through the System, and Hard Road of Hope followed by WV FILMmaker Holly Mollohan’s feature My Autopsy and several award-winning shorts wrapping out the day with the stunning stop motion animation Gon, The Little Fox.

Nominations for West Virginia FILMmaker of the Year and Impact Award were not held this year.

Check out the schedule in these graphics or at this link.

 

Schedule and Tickets available at: wvff2020.eventive.org
More Information www.wvfilmmakersfestival.org.

100 Years of Swing Continues on The AIR

Tuesday afternoon on The AIR we deliver two brand-new episodes of The Swing Shift that were supposed to debut last week before a power outage hit right when I was getting ready to start recording the shows.  If you wanna hear 100 Years of Swing, interrupted, you simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to this convenient embedded radio player…

The Swing Shift has made it to 100 episodes, and we’re marking the occasion with a four-part series that celebrates 100 years of Swing Music. Tuesday afternoon you can hear episode 101, followed a 4 PM by episode 102. Episode 100 debuted two weeks ago, today, but as I mentioned, we wuz waylaid by a sudden power outage. You may recall me complaining about it a lot last week.

Since day one, the tagline for The Swing Shift has been “The Best Swing Music from the past Century!” As we started to get close to our 100th episode, I decided to put that into practice, and do a three-part series that would bring us Swing tunes from the biggest names of each of the last ten decades. We’d devote episodes 99, 100 and 101 to this almost educational jitterbug through the history of Swing. That was the plan. When it came time to execute that plan, I discovered that I was going to have to expand this series to four episodes. So this week you’ll get parts one and two, and next week you’ll get parts three and four.

To be quite frank, after producing this four-part series, I am sorely disappointed that I didn’t have enough room to cover every important artist and orchestra, so in the coming weeks we plan to go back and fill in some of the gaps with shows that focus on particular years or decades or sub-genre or artists.  For now, we’ve got our two remaining episodes that cover Swing Music from 1980 to the present. Next week the plan is to do an entire episode devoted to the Women of Swing, so bear with me as I try to cover all of the best Swing Music of the last century.

At 3 PM our first new hour of The Swing Shift takes you back to the early days of the Swing Revival, as New Wave music mined the depths of that which had gone before, and a new generation exploded with a love of reborn Big Band and Jump Swing.  Check out this playlist:

The Swing Shift 101

the 1980s
Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive “We The Cats Shall Hep You”
Roman Holliday “Don’t Try To Stop It”
Pete Townshend “Face The Face (Live)”

1990s
Royal Crown Revue “Hey Pachuco”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Cruel Spell”
Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers “Everybody’s Talking About Miss Thing”
Indigo Swing “The Indigo Swing”
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies “Dr. Bones”
The Atomic Fireballs “The Man With The Hex”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “Sittin’ On It All The Time”
Lily Wild and Her Jumpin’ Jubilee Orchestra “Work Baby Work”
The New Morty Show “The Demon”
Johnny Favourite “Motorcycle”
Dem Brooklyn Bums “Boozin’ and a Cruisin'”
Squirrel Nut Zippers “Hell”
Keely Smith “Swing, Swing, Swing”

At 4 PM we bring you up to date, with a non-chronological collection of some of the best new Swing Music from the last two decades. Some of the Swing Revival bands are represented as grizzled veterans now that they have a couple of decades under their belt, and we get to hear a little Electro-Swing, second-generation Swing and new classic-sounding Big Band Swing. As you can see on this playlist:

The Swing Shift 102

the 2000s
Royal Crown Revue “Rockville”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “Pennsylvania 6-5000”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Save My Soul”
Lady J and Her Bada Bing Band “EBAY”
Squirel Nut Zippers “Rusty Trombone”
Janet Klein “My Blue Bird’s Singing The Blues”
Pasadena Roof Orchestra “Stormy Weather”
Jack’s Cats “A Minor Interruption”
Tyler Pedersen “Sheb’s Struffle”
Joe Stilgoe “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”
Jive Me “Miss Annie”
Hot Swing Sextet “A Smooth One”
Louis Prima Jr. “Go Let’s Go”
Joe Jackson “It Don’t Mean A Thing”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 2 PM, Saturday at 5 PM and Sunday at 10 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each of our finest episodes, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Tuesday on The AIR we deliver a mostly brand-new episode of Radio Free Charleston.  In order to hear some great new musical treasures, you simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to this convenient embedded radio player…

We have a mostly-new Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This show kicks off with “Lay That Burden Down,” a tribute to the late Congressman and Civil Rights icon, John Lewis. This song was written by Ron Sowell and Jon Wikstrom, and features vocals by “Lady D,” Doris Fields and Sowell. There is an accompanying music video which can be found at WestVirginiaville, along with an in-depth behind the scenes article by Douglas J. Imbrogno and an interview with Ron Sowell. You should check it all out. The video is awesome and the story of the song inspiring.

Our first hour is all-new, loaded with great music from local and international artists. In our second and third hours we re-present a very special episode of Radio Free Charleston International from almost four years ago. I’ll tell you about it below, after you check out the full playlist to see all the fantastic goodies we bring you this week…

RFCV5 032

hour one
Lady D and Ron Sowell “Lay That Burden Down”
Todd Burge “Weight Too Heavy”
Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands “The Wind That Shakes The Barley”
The Bounty “These Things Take Time”
Abandon The Ship “Rub Hubbard (Demo)”
Jay Parade “Machine”
Battleship Battleship “Ad Hominem”
Mark Beckner Group “Odessa”
Andy Prieboy “I Had A New Wave Act”
The Empty Hears “Sometimes…”
The Aquabats “Sneak Attack”
The Dollyrots “Hyperactive”
King Crimson “The Sheltering Sky”
Sufjan Stevens “Goodbye To All That”
Prince “Rebirth of The Flesh”
Smashing Pumpkins “Confessions of a Dopamine Addict”

In hours two and three we bring you an encore of a special episode of RFC International that took way too much time to curate. In this show your humble host and PopCulteer brings you two hours of music where every song has something to do with the song that comes after it. Your challenge is to figure out just exactly what that connection is. It might be that the two songs are written by the same person, or share a producer, or a member of one band produced the song by another. It might be a tenuous connection, like both musical artists appearing on the same television show, or it might be a rock-solid tie, like two groups that share members.

Some of the songs you’ll hear in this revived replay of Radio Free Charleston International are by cutting-edge underground artists, some of them are from ultra-hip cult artists, while other tunes are by high-profile artists and may have been major hit records. But every song has something in common with the next.

At the end of the show, you get to hear me come in and ad-lib a six-minute explanation, in one take, of how each song ties into the next.

If you want to get a head start on trying to figure it out first, here’s the playlist:

Nu Tra “Superhuman”
The Aquabats “The Controller”
Oingo Boingo “Change”
Strawberry Alarm Clock “Dear Joy”
Surf Punks “Welcome To California”
Size 14 “Superbabe 2000”
Pink Floyd “In The Flesh”
Paul McCartney “On The Way”
The The “This Is The Day”
Rip Rig and Panic “Sunken Love”
Madness “The Liberty of Norton Folgate”
Suggs “I’m Only Sleeping”
Alice Cooper “Eleanor Rigby”
Hollywood Vampires “Come and Get It”
Badfinger “Baby Blue”
Todd Rundgren “Terra Firma”
XTC “Dear God”
Shriekback “Nemesis”
The Veils “Lavina”
Julie Cruse “Falling”
Sparks “I Predict”
FFS “Johnny Delusional”
Franz Ferdniand “Take Me Out”
The Cardigans and Tom Jones “Burning Down The House”
The Firm “Satisfaction Guaranteed”
DEVO “Communication Break Up”

To be honest, I’d forgotten most of the connections before I re-listened to the show. I never revisted this concept because it took so long to put the show together. It came out so good that I decided to share it again this week, because I had a short window to record my announcing segments due to a B-29 which kept flying over my house.

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM, Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 7 AM and 7 PM, Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, Sunday at 1 PM and the next Monday at 8 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

Monday Morning Art: My Mel in Pencil

 

Doing a detailed pencil drawing when your fingers are semi-paralyzed due to a Myasthenia Gravis flare-up is not the wisest thing in the world to attempt. I’m typing this through severe finger cramps after spending a few hours this weekend creating this pencil portrait of my lovely wife, Mel Larch. It’s based on a selfie she took the other night. Mel is notoriously camera-hostile, so getting a photo of her to work with is a rare occurence.

I drew this on paper for pens, using the Blackwing Palamino pencil, and in the interest of full disclosure, I darkened it considerably and cleaned up some smudges after I scanned it. It was rough on my fingers, but well worth it to capture the beauty of the love of my life.

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

Meanwhile, Monday at 9 AM on The AIR, the Monday Marathon brings you six hours of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, which follows the regularly-scheduled repeat of last weeks Big Electric Cat at 7 AM. Included among these three bonus episodes of our New Wave showcase are the special two-part episode that presents new music made by New Wave artists. At 7 AM, you will hear a replay of last Friday’s Scotland-based edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.

At 3 PM on Prognosis, Herman Linte brings us a loaded episode of Prognosis, filled mostly with  a mix of recently-released  and classic progressive rock music. Check out the playlist:

Prognosis 047

Genesis “The Musical Box”
Jethro Tull “Dark Ages”
Hemina “I”
Intrigue “Thursday’s Child”
White Willow “In Dim Days”
Big Big Train “Experimental Gentlemen (Part 2)”
iamthemorning “Belighted”
Kate Bush “The Fog”
Curved Air “The Rose”
The Enid “Someone Shall Rise”
Marillion “Gaza”
Plastic Overloards “You Crumble To Bits”
Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman “23-24-11”

That’s followed by a classic Prognosis and an evening of Psychedelic Shack and Radio Free Charleston. You can hear replays of Prognosis Tuesdays at 7 AM, Wednesdays at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 9 AM. But we’ll be tinkering with the schedule over the next few weeks, so don’t get too used to that.

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

Sunday Evening Videos: New Wave Explosion Revisited

I originally posted this playlist of New Wave videos over ten years ago, but since then YouTube has deleted so many of the videos and changed so many settings that the entire playlist I posted had disappeared. So I beefed it up with newer video uploads and updated the doohickey ephemera and here it is again.

They say the best music in the world is whatever you’re listening to during your late teens. At the risk of showing my age, the above embedded playlist is a collection of some of the best music in the world.  During the heyday of New Wave music, skinny ties, primitive sythesizers, effects-laden guitars and quirky vocals broke through into the mainstream, introducing the world to some bold new sounds…and a few old ones that sounded new to inexperienced ears.

Up above you will see and hear performers like Elvis Costello, Kate Bush, XTC, Lene Lovich, Joe Jackson, The Buggles, Klaus Nomi, The Jam, Mike Batt, Pearl Harbor and The Explosions, The Humans, and more. Sit back and travel to a time before the world lost its innocence and had to face the horror of Hair Metal.

Since this topic was first addressed here in PopCult, we have added our sister internet radio station, The AIR, and every Friday we bring you two hours of New Wave music on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, hosted by the legendary London DJ, Sydney Fileen.

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 35

This week we go back to August, 2014, for a show that isn’t exactly a stellar achievement in audio quality. This was the week The RFC MINI SHOW presented the mighty Plaid Clash, who brought their Celtic magic to the Bluegrass Kitchen. This four-piece features Chris Higgins, Garrett Maner, Dan Carney and Vaughn Gold singing and playing a variety of instruments.

The performance and the band were great, but we didn’t bring the right recording equipment to capture the audio at this event in our usual high quality. Bluegrass Kitchen is one of the finest restaurants in town, and was packed, and our microphones picked up nearly every dinner conversation in the place instead of the music. Plaid Clash hasn’t played together for a couple of years now, but Dan and Garrett are currently in The Charleston Rogues, who hopefully will return to playing live again someday in Charleston.

The PopCulteer
September 25, 2020

The Domino Effect of Being Powerless

Your PopCulteer had a power outage for five hours last Tuesday, and it’s amazing how such a thing, when perfectly-timed, can have a domino effect that throws off your entire week. Let me share with you some behind-the-scenes dirt on how PopCult works.

The original plan for this week was for yours truly to get up early Tuesday, record the announcing parts for two episodes of The Swing Shift, and post a PopCult item about The AIR schedule in this blog. Normally I would have had The Swing Shift and Radio Free Charleston recorded over the weekend, but I slacked off a bit because my Myasthenia Gravis was acting up. I planned a repeat for RFC so I could focus on the two special “100 Years Of Swing” episodes of The Swing Shift scheduled for this week.

I had the shows completely laid out and had already prepared the playlists and even had the post written. I was working on the graphics when the power went out.

So I had a bit more than five hours to sit around and do nothing. It didn’t help that these five hours fell during what is normally the most productive time of my work-week.

The power came back on around 1:30 PM, and I scrambled to get a PopCult post published that gave all the details on the new episode of Psychedelic Shack that we had scheduled to run on The AIR at 2 PM, but I was definitely off my game.

We decided not to do new episodes of Beatles Blast or Curtain Call Wednesday, because I’d lost so much prep time, and after the power outage it took a couple of hours to get all the electronics in the house restored to working order. Normally we record those shows the night before they air, but I didn’t have time to properly lay them out and choose the music.

Since I still needed a post for PopCult on Wednesday, I went ahead and ran my review of the new Aquaman collection, which I had planned to run in October. Yesterday I told you about Gotta Go Flamingo (left), which was a last-minute substitution for a toy review that will require a photo shoot that I simply didn’t feel like conducting this week after the major disruption. Hopefully you’ll get to see that review next week.

Then we come to this post, which you are now reading. Every Friday I do a blog post that acts as an old-school newspaper column (the name is a tribute to Jim Dent’s “Gazetteer” column from days of yore). I don’t always know at the beginning of the week what will wind up in the Friday space. Sometimes it’s a photo essay. Sometimes it’s a single-topic essay. Sometimes it’s two or ten short items. Flexibility is my motto. It’s weird doing a column within a blog, but it works for me, and has for over eleven years now.

Most weeks I prepare The PopCulteer on Thursday. Some weeks I do it earlier than that. Other weeks, I get up early Friday and try to crank out a coherent essay of some sort, either because am buried under other work, or I just don’t know which of several fluid topics will still be worth writing about.

This would be one of those weeks. It’s Friday, not quite 9:30 AM as I write this, and what was supposed to have been a brief introduction to a handful of items has turned into a behind-the-scenes explanation of why I may seem a bit off my game this week.

I had planned to write about Halloween, but I’ve done that already here way back in early August, and I can probably wait a few weeks, closer to the holiday, before revisitig the topic. I toyed with the idea of commenting on the current political situations in the country, but aside from being outside of my normal journalistic jurisdiction, I’d get so angry and intense that I probably wouldn’t have this PopCulteer finished until late in the afternoon. I don’t think my readers come here for 6,000-word essays that basically amount to anger over how stupid and evil one third of this country is.

I do chime in on politics from time to time, but I also like to provide a safe haven from reality for my readers who actually live in the real world, and not the twisted fantasy land of certain despotic leaders.

With any luck, things will be back to normal next week. The plan is to debut a new episode of Radio Free Charleston, loaded with new music, plus we’ll premiere episodes 101 and 102 of The Swing Shift and have loads more new programming for The AIR. And I’ve got all our regular PopCult features on tap, The RFC Flashback on Saturday, Sunday Evening Video, Monday Morning Art, plus that toy review I told you about.

Let’s just hope the power stays on. I wasn’t even able to enjoy any down time Tuesday because every time I’d get relaxed, the phone would ring with either a telemarketer or someone conducting a survey (or push poll), for the upcoming election.

And that is why you’re getting this PopCulteer today. It was easier to complain about my week than it would have been to research and write about other stuff.

MIRRORBALL Returns Again

It’s our last chance to drop a new episode of MIRRORBALL, hosted by my lovely wife, Mel Larch, in September, so we just had to open the show with that Earth, Wind and Fire classic. This is our eleventh edition of MIRRORBALL what debuts Friday afternoon at 2 PM on The AIR. and that’s followed by two great encore epsodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.  You can hear all this good stuff on The AIR website, or just click on this embedded radio player…

As I mentioned, this week we open the show with Earth Wind and Fire and the month-appropriate song, “September.” The rest of the show is chock-full-o classic dance tracks of The Disco Era.  Check out the playlist:

MIRRORBALL 11

Earth Wind & Fire “September”
Andrea True Connection “Fill Me Up”
MFSB “K-Jee”
Diana Ross “Upside Down”
Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”
Sister Sledge “Lost In Music”
Chic “Everybody Dance”
Giorgio Moroder “I Wanna Rock You”
Gloria Gaynor “Honeybee”
Tony Wilson “I Like Your Style”
Close w/Donna Summer “Dim All The Lights”

You can tune in at 2 PM (Eastern time) and hear the latest edition of MIRRORBALL. The plan is to drop a new episode roughly every other Friday afternoon, until Mel gets tired of doing it, or people stop listening. Later today, it will go up in the Podcast section of The AIR website, so you can listen on demand.  MIRRORBALL will also be replayed Friday night at 10 PM, Saturday at 7 PM (part of a mini-marathon), Sunday at 11 PM and Tuesday at 1 PM. We’ll probably sneak in a few more airings during the week.

And that wraps up this largely self-indulgent PopCulteer.  Check back for fresh content every day, unless the power unexpectedly goes out again, then we’re screwed.

Hey Kids! Here’s Your Toy Pooping Flamingo!

The PopCult Toybox

I don’t quite know how to describe this one. Moose Toys has a new product and it’s being heavily-promoted. They’ve already paid to have it placed on “hot toys” lists (You didn’t think those were real lists, did you?) and there will be a major television ad campaign. Press releases have been flying out over the last few weeks.

Folks, meet “Gotta Go Flamingo,” an incontinent flamingo who REALLY POOPS!

I’ll just copy and paste the press release here:

Moose Toys continues to dominate the youth electronics aisle with the debut of Gotta Go Flamingo. Sherbet is an interactive, potty-trained flamingo who loves to sing, dance, chat back, eat and poop in a special toilet. Simply feed Sherbet his magical flamingo food and watch his neck wiggle as he gobbles it down. You know when it’s time for Sherbet to go because he sings a signature “Uh Oh, Gotta Go!” jingle and poops into the bowl. Gotta Go Flamingo features hilarious movements, sounds and reactions and fosters repeat play so you can “do-do” it all over again once he is done. Gotta Go Flamingo has already been named one of the top 12 toys for Christmas 2020 by leading U.K. retailer Argos, and global production is at full capacity due to high demand.

When I was a kid, I thought part of the appeal of owning a robot pet in the far-away future would be that they wouldn’t poop. I guess I was mistaken. Apparently poop is one of the great joys of pet ownership.

I can only imagine the pitch meeting where this toy was conceived: “I got it! Kids love flamingos, and kids love poop! Why don’t we combine those two things into one toy?”

Now, since a flamingo with magic pooping abilities might not have a lot of repeat play value, Sherbet, the Gotta Go Flamingo will also repeat what you say. I’m guessing here that at some point in the design process someone got confused and thought that flamingos were like parrots or something. At least they included a nicely surreal image to illustrate the point (seen left).

In the normal play mode, you feed Sherbet the special food, and then the bird takes a dump, and then…and this is something that isn’t mentioned in the press release…you can recycle the food. I don’t think this is really a lesson you want a kid to learn, but it did lead to this very disturbing image included in the press material…

 

Gotta Go Flamingo is already on store shelves and is available online for under thirty bucks from several retailers.

Swimmingly Good Comics Starring Aquaman

The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

Aquaman: Deadly Waters The Deluxe Edition
by Steve Skeates, Jim Aparo, Neal Adams
DC Comics
ISBN-13 : 978-1779502940
$39.99

This is the second volume that collects the acclaimed but underexposed run of Aquaman stories originally published in the late 1960s and early 1970s by DC Comics. Aquaman: Deadly Waters The Deluxe Edition is a great example of “relelvant” comics of the day, that addressed topical and political issues in ways that are not as heavy-handed as some of the more recent comics tend to be.

Steve Skeates was a young writer at the time, DC’s “resident hippie,” and Aquaman‘s new editor, Dick Giordano, had just come over from Charlton Comics, and brought the legendary Jim Aparo with him. While not a major sales success at the time, this run of comics stands as a solid example of DC at one of the most innovative periods, as they made the leap into more modern storytelling.

The first half of this run was collected in Aquaman: The Search for Mera Deluxe Edition, a couple of years ago, and this volume collects the remaining issues of Aquaman’s first solo comic book, including a three-part Deadman back-strip written and drawn by Neal Adams, which told a parallel story that seamlessly integrates into the lead stories featuring Aquaman. It’s a great example of editorial symmetry on the part of Giordano and his storytellers.

Even with the political overtones and innovative work in these stories, they also work as solid superhero adventures. Aquaman does battle with aliens, interdimensional threats, criminal gangs, and such villains as Black Manta, Ocean Master and Thanatos, all while fulfilling his duties as KIng of Atlantis.

Skeates brought a fresh voice to comics, and with his creative plotting and realistic dialogue, helped upgrade DC’s then-stodgy approach to comics. Aparo, who had attracted a lot of attention drawing The Phantom for Charlton, began his long stint at DC with this title, and established himself as a master storyteller and draftsman.

Having Neal Adams guest for twenty-one pages doesn’t hurt any, either. That’s a page from one of his Deadman back-up stories at right.

One bit of information that isn’t mentioned in this volume is that, issue #56, which is included here, was the final issue of Aquaman’s solo comic, and was intended to be the first of a two-part story. Over three years later, at Marvel, Skeates wrote the conclusion as an issue of Marvel’s underwater hero, The Sub-Mariner, in an unofficial crossover. I don’t think we’ll ever get to see those two stories collected together.

A nice touch with this collection (one not listed on the index pages) is that DC has included two text pages, written by Skeates at the time, that give a lot of the background of the creation of some of these stories. It’s a nice bonus, since they did not include any other text material to give us any historical context.

It’s amazing that these crisp, vital supehero stories are half a century old. Aquaman: Deadly Waters The Deluxe Edition is a great collection of stories featuring DC’s most unjustly-maligned superheroes.

You should be able to order it from any bookseller, using the ISBN code.

The Best Laid Plans Go Psychedelic

A long and sudden power outage has totally disrupted today’s plans for PopCult and The AIR.  The Swing Shift will continue its journey through the last century next week, but we do have a brand-new episode of Psychedelic Shack premiering at 2 PM Eastern time. You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in to AIR at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to this convenient embedded radio player…

At 2 PM, you will be treated to the first new episode of Psychedelic Shack with which Nigel Pye has graced us since June. Our friends at Haversham Recording Institute in London, between dealing with a quarantine and an increased workload, have not been able to crank out their labors of love for us as frequently as usual, but they tell us that things are finally settling down, so they’ll try to give us more shows before the next wave hits.

Nigel has given us a goodie. Just check the playlist:

Psychedelic Shack 034

The Flaming Lips “Mother I’ve Taken LSD”
Nazereth “My White Bicycle”
Pink Floyd “A Saucer Full Of Secrets”
Paul McCartney “Monkberry Moon Delight”
Stoney And Meatloaf “She Waits By The Window”
After Tea “You’ve Got To Move Me”
Bulbous Creation “Let’s Go To The Sea”
Quartermass “Up On The Ground”
Moby Dick “Two Timing Girl”
Too Fat “Bad Side of the Moon”

Psychedelic Shack alternates weeks with NOISE BRIGADE Tuesdays at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM and 10 PM, Thursday at 8 AM, Friday at Noon, Saturday at 8 AM, Sunday at 4 PM and Monday at 7 PM. PopCult should be back to normal tomorrow.