PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Cryptid Cinema

Cryptid Cinema: The Movie-land of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Bayou Beasts, Backwoods Bogeymen and Bloodwater Brutes!
by Stephen R Bissette (Author),‎ Steve Fenton (Editor),‎ David Coleman (Introduction),‎ Lou Mougin (Contributor),‎ Tim Paxton (Designer)
ISBN-13: 978-1975938130

bissette-01Stephen R. Bissette is very well-regarded as a legendary comic book artist, writer and publisher, hi smost notable credit was as the artist on Alan Moore’s run of Swamp Thing and the co-creator of Constantine. In his new book, Cryptid Cinema: The Movie-land of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Bayou Beasts, Backwoods Bogeymen and Bloodwater Brutes!, he presents an astonishing, fully-illustrated menagerie of monstrosities, curiosities, and wild & woolly weirdos from the 1950s to the present day.In these pages, you’ll find celluloid and TV incarnations of ‘real world’ cryptids like the Yeti, Sasquatch, and the Jersey Devil plus movie creatures and television monstrosities.

Cryptid Cinema covers cryptid appearances in TV series from ONE STEP BEYOND to STRANGER THINGS (offering a complete ‘study & viewing guide’ to the first season), as well as comic books, toys, action figures, and other media. In these pages, you’ll meet a host of eccentric creators like (and the creations of) H.P. Lovecraft, Ron & June Ormond, Jerry Warren, Arthur C. Pierce, Virgil W. Vogel, Janos Prohaska, and others, on up to today’s trail-blazers like Kevin Smith, Stefan Avalos, Lance Weiler, and the Duffer Brothers!

This isn’t a comprehensive guide or history book—it is an illustrated celebration of Cryptid Cinema via in-depth essays on a few favorite (and often long-forgotten) film fiends, designed and written for older readers (there is some mature content in this first volume, given the nature of the 1960s and 1970s Bigfoot novels, movies and comics). Independent filmmakers and low-budget ‘grindhouse’ and drive-in exploitation features are given special attention, as are the first-ever Bigfoot documentaries.

Readers will learn about the classic stop-motion animation ‘amateur’ movie, Equinox; the behind-the-scenes secrets of the rare direct-to-video Upper New York State gem, The Glasshead; the backstories behind the Swedish-American extraterrestrial Yeti opus, Terror In The Midnight Sun; the made-in-Florida Walking Catfish-Man epic Zaat, (AKA The Blood Waters of Dr. Z); and the surgically-created Walrus-Man movie, TUSK.

bissette-02This is the first volume in a series of books on Cryptid Cinema™ and Paleo Pop™ Culture from Bissette, who’s been working the monster beat in pop culture since his days as a contributor to The Monster Times, over forty years ago. The 245-page book is crammed with cool monster facts and illustrations

Stephen R. Bissette, a pioneer graduate of the Joe Kubert School, teaches at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Renowned for Swamp Thing, Taboo (launching From Hell and Lost Girls), ‘1963,’ S.R. Bissette’s Tyrant®, co-creating John Constantine, and creating the world’s second ’24-Hour Comic’ (invented by Scott McCloud for Bissette), he writes, illustrates, and co-authors many books, include illustrating The Vermont Ghost Guide and The Vermont Monster Guide, writing Teen Angels & New Mutants, and contributing short fiction to Hellboy: Odd Jobs, The New Dead, Mister October, etc. Bissette co-authored Comic Book Rebels, Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman and The Monster Book: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and regularly writes for Monster! and Weng’s Chop; this book is his first, self-published volume of Cryptid Cinema™ and he is currently completing the Midnight Movie Monograph for Electric Dreamhouse/PS Publications on David Cronenberg’s The Brood; he’s also hard at work on his first art instructional book series, S.R. Bissette’s How to Make a Monster.

Required reading for any fan of monster movies and fantastic creatures, Cryptid Cinema: The Movie-land of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Bayou Beasts, Backwoods Bogeymen and Bloodwater Brutes! is available as a print-on-demand book directly from CreateSpace. As I write this, they are offering it at a discount. Chances are, you have someone on your holiday gift list who will love this book.

ht-01Welcome to the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide. It’s our annual collection of holiday gift suggestions that we hope are unique and new to you. This year we’re going to shoot for three entries per day, for almost three weeks, with an extra week of last-minute ideas after that, as they straggle in.

As has become tradition, our first entry is this year’s HESS Toy Truck. We tell you about this one first because it’s a limited edition, and if we held off, they might sell out before you can get your hands on one. Once sold in HESS Oil gas stations, these keepsakes are now only sold online, since HESS sold their retail outlets to Marathon Oil a few years ago. This year it’s another winner as HESS produces their first Dump Truck.

The 2017 Hess Dump Truck and Loader is a powerful partnership of heavy-duty earth movers.  With over 30 brilliant LED lights plus realistic sounds, this oversized dump truck and 2-way motorized, track-driven loader are a versatile team, ready to tackle the toughest jobs!

The first ever Hess Dump Truck is boldly designed with a solid green base, white upper body, and green side stripes.  The elongated hauling bed, on a dual-axle rear chassis, is custom-designed as a transport for its work partner, with an innovative fold-down tailgate that is also a hidden pull-out ramp for the Loader to drive right up into position!  A cab-mounted button activates the hydraulic lift pistons (and associated sound), raising the bed into the dumping position.  4 additional buttons trigger 3 more sounds (ignition, horn and backup) and flashes all of the brilliant lights.  Chrome detailing includes front grille and bumpers, sunshield, cab steps, grab rails, and exhaust pipes

The self-propelled, multi-direction powered Loader has a 270° rotating cab with a side-mounted extending boom featuring a jointed excavator arm and bucket combination that can bend and swivel in just about any direction.  2 top-mounted switches activate the lights and the motorized tracks in either forward or reverse direction for ultimate maneuverability!    Chrome accents include the exhaust pipes, side mirrors and grille.

Totaling 350 parts and measuring approximately 12″ long, this construction duo is the heaviest and most complex Hess Toy Truck ever. Let’s go over those features in detail:

ht-03Dump Truck:

26 total lights that work in flash or steady mode, including super bright LED headlights
Button activated hydraulic powered dumping action with sound effect
3 additional button-activated sound effects (ignition, horn, back-up)
Fold down tailgate / pull-out ramp
Free-rolling wheels
Chrome accents
3 Energizer ‘AA’ Batteries included


Motorized track drive (forward and reverse)
Independently rotating cab
8 lights that work in steady mode
Extending boom and excavator arm with jointed, rotating bucket
Chrome accents
2 Energizer ‘AA’ Batteries included

This is an incredible toy truck set that young kids will love to play with, and older collectors will drool all over. The 2017 Hess Dump Truck and Loader is sold exclusively at www.hesstoytruck.com for $33.99 plus tax, which includes 5 Energizer® batteries and free standard shipping. Order it now, before it sells out, and you’ll have it in plenty of time for Christmas.


Monday Morning Art: Textures



We kick off this week with an example of yours truly trying to create an organic-looking texture by using a series of geometric shapes and patterns, coupled with distortions and filters and a splash of color. I like it, even if it does sort of look like an extreme close-up from an autopsy. As always, click the image to enlarge it.

Remember that, later today, we kick off the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide. Be sure to check out all our unique gift suggestions.

2-15-logoAlso remember that you can tune in and hear cool stuff on our internet radio station, The AIR.

You can listen at the website, or on this familiar little embedded player…

We’re still making a few changes to the schedule this week, and your PopCulteer is a little preoccupied with the 2018 PopCult Gift Guide, so rather than talk you to death about them every day (which we have been known to do)  we’re just going to post an absolutely swell embedded schedule right here, where you can reference it all week long…

Sunday Evening Video: The Flip Wilson Show

51rdikkgs2l-_sy445_Flip Wilson doesn’t get enough credit for breaking down racial barriers in this country. He was the first African American to host a top-rated variety show. He was popular both with the Black community and with the mainstream White American audience. He managed to hang out with underground comedians and play golf with former presidents without losing credibility with either.

His influence on comedy in the 1970s is immense. He rescued both Richard Pryor and George Carlin from the depths of failure and hired them to write for his variety show, jump-starting both careers. He even co-owned the record label that released Carlin’s most cutting-edge material.

Yet, he was loved and accepted by TV audiences. Last year I reviewed a terrific book about his life, which was one full of triumphs and many tragedies, but tonight I’m just going to bring you one episode of his show, with his guests, Joe Nameth, George Carlin and Miss Black America, Joyce Warner. He brought all this into American households and made it seem like no big deal. This was really a major breakthrough for its time.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 76

76montageRadio Free Charleston’s 76th episode, “Peace Sign Shirt,” was the last episode of the show hosted on the Charleston Gazette servers, and it features cool videos of  two particularly long songs by Option 22 and Suburban Graffiti. Those are punctuated by a Plant Ro Duction Mini Movie, and a couple of important announcements. I get all serious and stuff over what was essentially no big deal. It seemed huge at the time.

After this episode of RFC, we began posting the show directly to MySpace, which eventually turned out to be a disaster when they unceremoniously dumped all their video uploads, then brought them back, then disabled a ton of them again.  That’s why we find ourselves remastering and re-uploading the older episodes of the show to YouTube to this day.

You can find the original production notes HERE.

3rd-shift-50-logoThe PopCulteer
November 10, 2017

Thing are a bit introspective this week, as we devote the PopCulteer to happenings on The AIR, our own radio station, and talk about stuff coming up in this very blog in the near future.

The Third Shift Hits 50

Friday on The AIR it’s a very special evening as The Third Shift, our “man’s man” show hosted by Jay and Jarod, marks their fiftieth episode with a one-hour extravaganza.  You can listen to The Third Shift Friday at 9 PM with a special replay this Sunday at 7 PM at The AIR website, or on this particularly swell embedded radio player…

The boys have something very special planned this week, so make sure you tune in to find out what it is. Fifty episodes is a pretty huge milestone, and I imagine the occasion will require a rather intensive, double-length, bender.

Every Friday at 9 PM you can tune in to The AIR and catch up on booze, sports, babes, gadgets and general weekend tomfoolery with our resident “regular guys.”

Swing All Day On Veteran’s Day

vd-on-the-airNormally we replay The Third Shift Saturday evenings at 8:30 PM, but this week that timeslot is taken over by a very special marathon.

Regular readers of PopCult may be aware that I host a weekly program on The AIR devoted to Swing Music, called The Swing Shift. It can normally be heard Tuesday at 3 PM, with overnight marathons on Sundays and Thursdays. The marathons are very popular in Europe (reaching a worldwide audience is one of the more fun perks of internet broadcasting).

However, I was recently contacted through The AIR’s Facebook page and discovered that I have two loyal listeners here in the States who happen to be veterans of World War II. Their caregiver wrote to tell me that they really enjoy the way I mix new Swing revival music with the songs that they remember from their youth by the likes of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman and other greats of the Big Band era. She takes her laptop with her and lets them listen to the show during her shift.

The caregiver went on to tell me that neither gentleman was well enough to attend any Veteran’s Day activities this year and wondered if I could possibly run an extra episode of The Swing Shift this Saturday so that they could have something to listen to and enjoy. She’s working most of the day and would make sure they wouldn’t miss it.

It doesn’t take a lot to get me to run a marathon of The Swing Shift. The show is one of my favorite to produce for The AIR. I decided to thank these men for their service by scheduling a 24-hour marathon of the very best episodes of The Swing Shift that will begin Friday at Midnight. It’ll run all day long Saturday, so if you tune in, you can get hep to the jive along with a couple of American heroes.

That’s Swing All Day on Veteran’s Day on The AIR. You can listen at the embedded player above or at the website.

christmas-gifts01PopCult Gift Guide

Monday we begin The 2017 PopCult Gift Guide. The plan is to run three gift ideas every day for nearly three weeks, and then we’ll do one or two last-minute gift ideas a day the week after that. We will tell you about toys, music, books, DVDs, gadgets, and other cool things that you probably won’t see mentioned in other gift guides. Check PopCult Monday for our first three entries.

More PopCult Notes

During most of the time we run The 2017 PopCult Gift Guide the PopCulteer will be taking a hiatus. Our weekly Friday essay can be quite labor-intensive to write while I’m also juggling Gift Guide entires, a radio station and all our other regular PopCult features. I’ve only missed one or two weeks of The PopCulteer since I started it as part of this blog in April, 2009, but something had to give. The PopCulteer will return on December 8 with the Master List for The 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, and it’ll be back to normal the week after that.

But we will bring you our other regularly-scheduled posts, Monday Morning Art, Sunday Evening Video and The RFC Flashback, along with three posts on most days of the PopCult Gift Guide. You’ll have plenty of stuff to read. Check back here to see.

Chili Cookoff and Beer in Nitro

chili-beerIf you are into Chili and Beer, then Saturday you need to be in Nitro. The fourth annual Wagging Tails Chili Challenge sees this chili cookoff move to a new location, and partner up with the Nitro Ales Craft Beer Festival for a full day of gastric adventures at Nitro’s Living Memorial Park on the corner of Second Avenue and 21st Street in Nitro. It all happens Saturday, November 11, from 9 AM to 5 PM. The public is invited to sample the chili and craft beer beginning at noon. For more details visit their Facebook page.

I don’t normally write about beer events here in PopCult. Your PopCulteer is beer-illiterate and can’t understand the appeal of such stuff, but I am in a distinct minority there and this is for a really good cause. Besides, you can indulge in the chili and other goodies without partaking in the brew.  All proceeds from the event go to Dog Bless, a local volunteer animal rescue group that has fostered, transported, provided medical care and found new homes for more than 3,000 dogs since 2012.

This is an International Chili Society sanctioned event, and the winner will go on to represent Wagging Tails at the World Chili Cookoff next year. What impresses me the most about this event is that it’s happening at a time of the year when sane people would actually want to eat chili. I keep seeing chili cookoffs in the middle of Summer, in 90-degree-plus weather, and for the life of me I can’t understand why anybody in their right mind would want to make or eat chili then. But now it’s perfect chili weather, so this event couldn’t be timed any better.

It’s not just chili and beer. You will find local food trucks, Island Teriyaki, Jonesy’s and Old School Concessions, so if chili is not your cup of tea, you can chow down on barbecue, hot dogs, corn dogs, and a variety of fine examples of food-truck cuisine.

Plus local favorites, Hurl Brickbat, will be providing music and there will be inflatables to keep the kids occupied.

Chili sampling tickets will set you back 50 cents each and general admission to the Nitro Ales Brew Festival is a measly ten bucks. That gets you entry and two craft brews, with additional beers costing $2 each. For more information on entering the Wagging Tails Chili Challenge, call 304-382-3305, email waggingtailschili@gmail.com or visit the event’s Facebook page. For info about the Nitro Ales Craft Beer Festival, contact Tim Arnott at 304-545-5845 or Donna Boggs at 304-549-8823. Tickets can be purchased in advance HERE.

Advance Notice: The Bakery 3-Day Benefit Show

I’m giving you advance notice, and there will be plenty of reminders here in PopCult. On the first weekend in December (1-3) The Charleston Music and Arts Collective is having a 3 day series of fundraiser shows to help continue the funding of the Bakery, the all-ages venue being built in the old Purity Bread Factory at 1007 Bigley Avenue in Charleston.

This is officially a soft opening because renovations are still in progress, but everything will be in place for a killer three-day show featuring a ridiculous number of top local, regional and even international bands. Byzantine headlines the third day, on Sunday, but the first two days are also loaded with incredible bands and musicians.

A one-day ticket is $10 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show. A two-day pass is $15 in advance, and you can get a 3 day pass, to see every day of this great benefit for a mere twenty bucks. Those ticket prices for this all-ages show are for those aged 13 and up. Kids 12 and under get in free. You can purchase advance tickets HERE.

Check out the graphics below for a list of the bands, and for more info about the shows and the project follow their Facebook page.




59fa31623b4e8-imageLast Summer we told you about how Mike and Frank from the History Channel series, American Pickers, had made a trip to see Francis Turner at the now-closed Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville. We can now tell you that the episode in which they go to this toy Valhalla will air Monday, November 13m at 9 PM, EST.

The description provided for the episode titled “Frank’s Big Day,” reads: “Frank jumps for joy as he and Mike pick a recently closed toy museum ready to sell their collection of treasure.”  Of course, this is a reality-TV program, so there’s bound to be lots of staging, and some of the information is going to be a little bit off.  That’s all part of the game. The huge plus is that we’ll get to see inside the Marx Toy Museum again.

The museum closed its doors on June 30, 2016, but has still been in use to store part of Francis Turner’s massive toy collection. The Turner family will still open the museum for special sales on occasion. While I’m sure that Francis set Frank and Mike up with a few really good deals, when I was at the museum back in June, all of the really valuable stuff was still there.

img_4818-e1459474404930Francis Turner (seen left) is an avid toy collector who years ago found himself on a mission. He wanted to amass a collection of every toy produced by The Marx Toy Company. The Marx Toy Company was at one time the largest toy company in the world. Following the retirement of company founder, Louis Marx and the sale of the company to Quaker Oats, the fortunes of the Marx Toy Empire fell, and the company closed its last factory and ceased operations in 1980.

Once Turner came close to achieving his goal, he decided that he needed to share his collection with the public, so he opened a museum in Moundsville. Located just a few miles from the site of one of the largest Marx Toy Factories in Glendale. The Marx Toy Museum was open to the public for more than fifteen years, to the delight of kids and kids at heart, before closing it’s doors in 2016. It still continues as a virtual online museum, but the Turner family is still trying to chart a course for its future, continuing its mission of preserving the legacy of Louis Marx and The Marx Toy Company.

img_4819On June 23, 2017, the museum opened its doors again for one night only, as Francis Turner held a massive sale. Everything from common Marx Toys to one-of-a-kind prototypes were sold to die-hard collectors.

Francis, who personally priced every item, was swamped all night long and tens of thousands of dollars traded hands.

It was great seeing Francis and The Turner family again, and it was wonderful to see that the museum location is still filled to the brim with terrific Marx Toys.The sale was where it was announced that Mike and Frank from American Pickers, had visited the museum in May to film this episode which will air next week. There was a bit of secrecy involved. They didn’t want to spoil the episode for anyone who wants to watch it, so aside from saying that the American Pickers crew had been there, The Turner family was tight-lipped about what they bought.

marx-toymusemwebIt should be a fun show, and it might be unintentionally hilarious for the die-hard toy experts who tune in. Mike and Frank are experts in many areas of antiques, but both are woefully under-informed when it comes to toys of a certain vintage. It’ll be fun to see if they get away with some real gems, or if, as they have done before, they leave behind the cream of the crop and get really excited about stuff that isn’t particularly rare or valuable.

I’m sure the program will present them as getting a great deal from Francis, then selling it for a huge profit, but knowing Francis, I’m sure that he knew exactly what he was doing, and getting some national exposure for the Marx Toy Museum will be worth way more than any deals he may given up.

Let’s hope that the added exposure leads to a major announcement about the future of the museum.

Monday Morning Art: Cat Pic



We’ve just left the season of black cats, so today I’m bringing you a digital painting of a white cat. Remarkably enough, this may be the first-ever picture of a cat posted on the internet.

It’s a digital painting of my brother’s cat, based on a photo I found in an old folder taken with my primitive camera phone about four years ago. Click to enlarge, as always, because, aaaawwwwww, it’s a kitty!

air-logo-b-0001Also, while you’re looking at cat pictures on the web, why not listen to The AIR, our humble little internet radio station.

You can listen at the website, or on this familiar little embedded player…

We’re making a few changes to the schedule this week, so rather than talk you to death about them every day (which we have done occasionally in the past)  we’re just going to post an absolutely swell embedded schedule right here…