PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Plastic Man’s Failed Pilot

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

You may remember Plastic Man from the wretched Ruby-Spears animated cartoon of the 1980s, but the character is actually one of the greatest comic-book creations of all time. Created by the genius, Jack Cole, Plastic Man has been celebrated in a book by Pulitzer-prize winner Art Speigelman, and stars in a series of DC Comics Archives which sell quite well despite their fiffty-dollar price tag.

Heidi MacD0nald has an embedded movie clip in her blog, The Beat, so you can see how close we came to getting a top-notch Plastic Man cartoon that was worthy of the history of the comic book. You can see it here. Heidi’s blog is one of our everyday stops, and is an invaluable source of comics industry information.

Cartoon Network passed on this show, another in a long line of moronic decisions that CN has made concerning cartoons based on properties owned by their sister company, DC Comics. The show was developed by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants, and was designed and storyboarded by Stephen DeStefano, who drew Popeye on the Spinach package that Rudy wrote about here.

PopCult’s Top Ten Or So

Here’s a quick rundown, complete with links and in no particular order, to ten or so of the more memorable posts from the last year of PopCult.

In May, we had Andy Prieboy Week, where I wrote about one of my favorite musician/composer/novelists. I also told you about the Beatles Bootlegs Podcast.

Also in May, and then again in June, I turned evil.

Back in February, Mark Evanier linked to my rant about the decline of Radio Shack, as it deteriorated from nerd Mecca to cell phone Hell. To update things, the Dunbar Radio Shack, where I had been shopping since it opened 35 years ago, was one of the stores closed in the company-wide purge. I couldn’t even manage to feel sad, since the service there had been so poor for so long.

Also in February, David Williams of the Gazette wrote a review of the Symphony Pops concert that I disagreed with mightily, so I wrote a review of his review. I stand by my criticism that his piece was poorly written. In the comments, Williams tried to rebut one point by claiming that I didn’t understand that he was providing context with one of his irrelevant asides. He even seems to compare himself to Hector Berlioz at one point. Sadly, it’s just proof that Mr. Williams still cannot tell the difference between context and pointless trivia.

In January, I attempted to listen to Howard Stern’s new satellite radio show. It wasn’t pretty.

Last December, I knocked myself out, writing 9,000 words of a Holiday Gift Guide in one week. You can read highlights here, here, and here.

Back in November, Melanie and I wrote about our old pal, John K. the creator of Ren and Stimpy. Since this post, John has started his own blog, and the unreleased episodes of the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon have been released on DVD. He’s currently working on the animated title sequence for the upcoming Tenacious D movie.

In October of last year, I presented a week of my own creepy musical compositions, since Halloween is the only time of year that people can stand to hear my low-rent horror movie score noodling. Two of the more listenable examples are here, and here.

Earlier in that month, I wrote about my new favorite movie theater. And I put TiVo in its place!

Not a bad batch of posts for my first year blogging. Now I have to see if I can top them in the next twelve months.

Updating the Sketchy Bio

Early in the run of this blog, I posted a sketchy bio as a way to introduce myself. You can read it here. In the intervening twelve months, there have been a couple of major changes. First of all, my mother passed away in April. I had been taking care of her for the previous eight-and-a-half years following a stroke that left her bedridden. She had been the center of my life for the better part of the last decade. It’s been quite an adjustment, since I’d basically put my career on hold to take care of both my parents some fifteen years ago, and suddenly I was faced with the exciting and yet terrifying prospect of re-entering the workplace, but I’m holding up pretty well. It’s still strange coming home to an empty house, but I’m getting used to it.

The second big change involves something I wrote in my bio, lo those many months ago: “I may tee off on comic books, toys, movies, animation, health care, food, television, or anything else that strikes my fancy. I’ll also share some of the artwork, photography, and music that I’ve been working on these last few years. Maybe along the way I can reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators.”

“Reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators”…..Check! When I started writing PopCult, I had no idea that it really would lead to me being able to revive my long-lost and beloved radio show. Now we’re in production of episode five of the new video version of the show, I’m working with some of my best friends from the old days, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

So keep reading PopCult, maybe even buy some of the cheesy crap in my Cafepress Stores. You might enjoy the ride.

Local Photography Blogs

One of the cool things about writing PopCult was that I got to seek out and link to other cool local blogs. Blogging is particularly well suited to photography, as you can see here at theGazz.com with the DowntownWV and West Virginia Photo blogs. Here’s five great local photography blogs.

On Location With Rick Lee features the work of world-class photog Rick Lee, who may be the most prolific photo blogger in town. He posts a wide variety of images, from his professional work, to his intriguing “produce blogging” shots taken in local grocery stores and tons of other amazing artworks.

Plaedaddy is Stephen Beckner, award-winning photographer and a fine musician and songwriter. Steve’s work is pretty cutting-edge, and is really innovative.

Entropy showcases work by Scott Mitchell. Scott’s got a great eye for nature and architecture, and always puts a smile on my face.

Through The Lens brings us the work of MShane, from Shane Evans Photography. He does terrific landscapes and great portraits, but like all the photo bloggers listed here, he’s not confined to any one genre.

Amanda Miller Photography, by the artist of the same name, brings us an array of wonderful photos, including high-speed shots, tinted photos, and interesting still life. I wish she’d update more often.

So go check these photoblog links out, and if you know of any other cool local photoblogs, leave a comment, or email me at popcult@charter.net.

The Radio Free Charleston Store

As with the PopCult and Monday Morning Art stores that I mentioned below, I have opened up a Radio Free Charleston Store, so you can go over and buy shirts with the RFC logo on them. If you want to proudly show your support for RFC by parading around like a human billboard, feel free to click on over and buy multiples of of the fine T-shirts featuring the show logo and my cartoon visage. Hey, if we sell enough of these, we’ll be able to buy good microphones to use for the host segments!

That’s the beast of Capitol Street….the world’s loudest air conditioning unit, as heard in the background of the host segments of episode four of Radio Free Charleston. It’s the source of the oppressive hum that permeates Davis Square all summer long. I had no choice but to immortalize the monster, and then digitally-assault the photograph. As always, click to enlarge.

Starting this week, I’m experimenting with something new. Since I’ve been doing the Monday Morning Art thing for a while now, I decided to see if anybody would want to buy any of this stuff. So I’ve opened a few shops over at CafePress. Each week, in the Monday Morning Art store, you will be able to purchase T-shirts, prints, and other cheesy merchandise featuring that week’s Monday Morning Art. The products will only be available for one week, and then they’ll be replaced by the next week’s art. I’ve also opened a PopCult Shop, featuring some of the previous pieces of artwork that I’ve posted here over the last year. If you have more money than taste, rush on over and buy my stuff.

In observance of our anniversary week here at PopCult, our pick for Cool Toy Of The Week is one of my favorites from my childhood. In fact, I wrote about Captain Action and his nemesis, Dr. Evil, last year right here and here. The reason I’m picking Captain Action again is because Robby Reed, over at Dial “B” For Blog, is in the midst of a six-part series of articles on the good Captain, and I can just link to it, and let him do all the work. Read the first installment here, the second here, and then check back to his blog every day for the next four parts!

Radio Free Charleston Production Notes: Episode Four

Episode Four of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Raymond Wallace and Under The Radar, is now online. It’s another 12-minute dip into the local music scene with great music, cool animation, and weird little bits of ephemera. You can see it here.

Raymond Wallace is the first musical guest, and you can read more about him and check out his Songs Of The Week here. We brought him into the studio and put a guitar in his hands and let the cameras roll. He’d barely touched a guitar for two years, and it’s a kick seeing him playing again after all he’s been through.

Our animated short this week is “Zachery Bop,” an experimental CGI piece that my brother Frank made on primitive coal-fueled computers over ten years ago. Frank also composed the music on an electric abacus.

Under The Radar gave us our SOTW just yesterday, and they tear up the LiveMix studio with “Me, The Boys And Jack,” a rock ‘n’ roll song about the exploits of the crew of the PT 109 during World War Two. Be sure to give a listen to their take on Gershwin’s “Summertime,” while you’re digging their music.

The shirt I’m wearing in this show features The Blue Guy, AKA The Blue Meanie of WWE/ECW fame. Meanie performed at the IWA East Coast show in June, and I snapped up one of his shirts to wear on the show. That’s me and Meanie at the IWA EC after show party, in a photo by Daniel Boyd. If you want one of these shirts for yourself, you can check out Meanie’s post here, for details on how to order one.

Song Of The Week: Summertime Under The Radar

Our SOTW this week is another preview of the next episode of Radio Free Charleston. Last week we brought you a tune by Raymond Wallace, and this week we bring you a song from our other musical guest from episode four, Under The Radar. UTR is ace Gazette reporter Rusty Marks on guitar and vocals, Bill Robinson on bass, and Mark Lanham on drums. Rusty is someone that I was trying to get on the old radio incarnation of RFC back in the day, but the show got canned before he could get me a tape. On the show Under The Radar will be performing an original tune, “Me, The Boys And Jack,” but for our song of the week, we bring you their rockin’ rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

With any luck, the next episode of RFC will be posted as early as tomorrow. After I write this, I’m off to edit the show, and then tonight we’ll be taping a band for episode five. Tomorrow look for production notes on the show four, so you can learn all the backstage dirt on our little internet TV-type show.

Rebecca, over in her Carpe You Some Diem blog notes that a new local horror movie is being made in and around Spencer. “Pretty Girls Make Graves” tells the story of an eccentric wealthy businessman who lives a solitary life until he meets his true love, and then they have a run in with a sinister tattoo artist who marks them with an ancient mystical symbol which sends them spiraling down a path marked with deciet, greed, and murder. Check out the website for more information on the movie, which is scheduled to premiere at the Robey Theater in Spencer on Halloween. We’ll have more details in the coming weeks.