Sitemeter Sez: Visitors from Oakland, California; Wennigsen, Germany; Chicago, Illinois (Hometown of President-Elect Barack Obama); Mississauga, Ontario; Brooklyn, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Madison, New Jersey; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Greenville, South Carolina; Toronto, Ontario; Tampa, Florida; Woodbury, New York; Costa Mesa, California; Davenport, Iowa (one of the Quad Cities); Mesa, Arizona; Lisbon, Maine; Bangor, Maine; Knoxville, Tennessee (near an extreme ecological disaster); Washington, District of Columbia; Springfield, Virginia; Middlesboro, Kentucky; Saint Louis, Missouri; San Antonio, Texas (I saw a boat-parade on the River Walk on TV from there last night); West Bridgewater, Massachusetts; Everett, Washington; Garner, North Carolina; Plainfield, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Rotterdam, Holland; Tucson, Arizona; Wales, Wisconsin; Medford, Massachusetts; Winter Park, Florida; Baltimore, Maryland; Bradenton, Florida; Via Del Mar, Valparaiso, Chile; Morris Plains, New Jersey, and San Diego, California.
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Theater, Art, Flash Gordon, Funky Music and MORE!
NEW --Launching NOW! Outre Space Cinema -- Featuring: 1930's Rocketry, Spitfires of the Spaceways and Cellulose to Celluloid, Flash Gordon in the Saturday Matinees and Sunday Comics.
Many thanks to Jim Keefe (Visit his Website) -- the LAST Flash Gordon illustrator of the 20th Century, and Flash's FIRST illustrator of the 21st, for including my efforts on his Flash Gordon Resources Page -- along with actual creators like Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, and others!
Charity Alert: Play the FreeRice Game -- improve your vocabulary, and donate food to the United Nations. Check into Terra Sigilata blog -- donate $$$ to cancer patients just by clicking onto the site. Keep that Resolution to click on The Hunger Site every day. BTW -- AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a bit simpler than FreeRice Game.
In The Community: The Hockaday Museum of Art is getting ready for new shows. We will likely change Crown of the Continent a little, and continue Ace of Diamonds. The art run to Eastern Montana is this Sunday and Monday.
Media Watch: Among my presents was a collection of Flash Gordon TV shows from the EARLY 1950's -- I hadn't even started school when they were broadcast. By pure coincidence, there was even one I remembered slightly -- Planet of Death, featuring an idol with a death-ray beaming from its eye, and Steve (Flash Gordon) Holland busting down encroaching walls with sheer strength, and stupid script-writing.
There was an unintentionally poignant sequence in another episode where Flash, Zarkov, and Dale went time-traveling back to Berlin, Germany in 1954 -- the devastation from WWII was widespead. Whole neighborhoods were piles of rubble. For comic relief, German cops chased the spacefarers in a Volkswagen, only to face paralyzer-rays when they caught up with the blonde giant at last.
The series was filmed in West Berlin to minimize costs, and the war-ravaged streets of the great city were used for unearthy settings here and there. The supporting cast was VERY sparse -- the same faces show up as villains in different episodes, hiding behind cheesy costumes and makeup. The women were dressed and made up to look downright frumpy, which is the WORST affront to the spirit of Flash Gordon possible!
The Buster Crabbe serials were on TV at the same time as Steve Holland's series, and the latter lost in every comparison. Ironically, renting the old American films cost even less than running the ultra-cheap international production.
Holland himself was a professional model, though, and became famous among Sci-Fi fans a decade later, for working with ace painter James Bama on dozens of Doc Savage paperback covers -- as The Man of Bronze (below), there was nothing quite like him until Fabio!
Crabbe's chapter-plays were exciting in their promise of outer-space thrills and adventure, but nobody has ever fulfilled those promises in motion pictures beyond what Universal's B-picture lot ingeniously, and sometimes laughably, cobbled together in the half-decade before WWII. Those threadbare 50's TV films were NOT Metropolis or Frau im Mond by any stretch of the Germanic Imagination. The partial fan-parody Flesh Gordon might have worked in the early 70's, except that the porno filmmaker who shot it was already in trouble with the L.A. Police Department, and was fortunate to complete the movie at all. (The less said about the 1990's sequel the better.) Dino DiLaurentis threw a lot of money at his Post-Star Wars version of Flash, but embers of life were only apparent when the cast was clowning around. (Kudos to Richard Riff-Raff O'Brien, and Brian Blessed.) A VERY flat two frames a second cartoon version had its advocates soon afterward, but I wasn't among their number. I wrote a little about the Sci-Fi Channel's 2007 version, but I was neither impressed, nor interested after a few episodes -- the pretty women resembled each other 'way too much, and the continuity was 'way too ridiculous.
Flash on the comics page:
A comic-book version of Flash Gordon tantalized fans in the late 60's as Raymond's disciple Al Williamson drew a few new stories, as did the magnificent ink artist Reed Crandall, in a series that barely made it to a dozen numbers, and expired in less-talented hands. This is the cover image of the second issue, published in 1966 -- a wonderfully stylized pencil and ink study by Eli Katz (Gil Kane), one of the leading comic book artists of the time, who was working his way out of his long tenure at Green Lantern and The Atom by freelancing for every company that existed. Williamson drew one more comic-book version of DiLaurentis' Flash movie fifteen years later.