August 24, 2012

FFGtGR: Peanuts, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Sad Sack and the Sarge!

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No. 110: Classics Strike Back!

Aloha, awesome reader, and welcome back to the column for all-age comics coolness on the web, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! It was an usually busy week here for me, between pre-production work and meetings on some projects I have coming up. Heck, I even got to catch-up in person and do some karaoke with the head of, Andy Liegl, but those videos will be sealed away in the vaults of time (or at least until they can be used as a practical gag). However, that didn’t stop me from running into some great things for you to love, readers, so let’s get down to it!


Peanuts #1 (vol.2)
Publisher: Boom! (Kaboom! all-ages line)
Written By: Shane Houghton, Mona Koth, and Vicki Scott
Art By: Mike DeCarlo, Mona Koth, and Vicki Scott
Classic Peanuts strips by: Charles M. Schulz

Schulz’s master work lives on once again, with the start of a second volume of comics also titled Peanuts (Peanuts ran for 4-issues earlier this year from Boom! before taking a break for a few months). The formula for taking these classic characters and bringing them back for us to keep enjoying is still working with this first issue of the new series.

Issue #1 features three stories and classics by Schulz himself. The first tale, “Sun Tan Hero,” written by Shane Houghton with art by Mike DeCarlo, is an awesome little adventure, that starts when Charlie Brown meets the gang at the beach and just needs someone to put lotion on his back so it doesn’t get burned. Before we know it, someone is in danger out in the water, and it may just be up to Charlie Brown to save them. The second story, “Brush With Disaster,” written and drawn by Mona Koth, is a laugh filled little tale of what happens when Charlie Brown decides to play stylist to the Peanuts-gang girls. Finally, “How To Draw Linus” by Vicki Scott, gives us Charlie Brown day-dreaming on a rainy day how he’d love to play baseball, as he teaches us how to draw his buddy Linus, all with baseball comparisons.

These stories are all pretty solid. Houghton cooks us up an enjoyable little adventure which DeCarlo’s art compliments nicely. Scott gives us another fun “how to draw” edition like she did in the last set of Peanuts books, this one just very cute with Charlie Brown and all the baseball references. Mona Koth’s tale was very enjoyable, and probably the one most classic Peanuts fans will like best because of setting and laughs. For readers old and new, though, you can’t go wrong with any part of this book and should check it out!

Peanuts #1 (vol.2) is out now in both print and digital!


Godzilla vs. Megalon
U.S. Release By: Media Blasters (Tokyo Shock line)
Original Version: Toho Co. Ltd. (1973)
Featured Kaiju: Godzilla, Megalon, Jet Jaguar, and Gigan

Finally, finally, FINALLY! Media Blasters on their Tokyo Shock line released last week the long awaited official version of Godzilla vs. Megalon! Godzilla vs. Megalon has an interesting history. The film has never had an official DVD release in the U.S. before, just bootlegs, yet it was one of the most seen Godzilla films in the States at its time of release! The film came out at a time of Godzilla fever, everything from the Marvel comic book to the Hanna-Barbera animated series was in style, helping Godzilla vs. Megalon get a wide theatrical release pumped up with radio and TV spots, and soon after a huge featured TV premiere on NBC, before being syndicated all over. Media Blasters announced the DVD a while ago, but was held up in getting permission from Toho for the DVD extras (in the world of international DVD negotiations these things can go on for literally years). Finally, Media Blasters has held off on the blu-ray (I’m thinking that will be the bells and whistles version) and released a bare bones DVD to make fans happy. I have to tell you, I have never seen a better print of Godzilla vs. Megalon in my life, and fans of Godzilla should grab this.

Godzilla vs. Megalon follows the undersea kingdom of Seatopia, which launches a war on the world in revenge for its atomic bomb tests, starting with nearby Japan, by unleashing the giant monster Megalon. An inventor named Goro, his friend, and little brother, get caught up in the plot when the Seatopians steal his robot Jet Jaguar to help in the destruction. After some intervention, Goro gets control of Jet Jaguar back and sends him to get Godzilla to help. Fearing defeat, Seatopia contacts the space aliens who tried to invade Earth during the last Godzilla film for back-up, and are sent the monster Gigan. Jet Jaguar enlarges himself giant sized, and a four-way monster mash takes place between the kaiju for the fate of the Earth.

As far as Godzilla films go, this one is pretty simple in comparison to others with a small cast and straight forward plot, with no sub-plot. In its simplistic charm, though, we get some very unusual elements to enjoy in the colorful piece of cinema. Jet Jaguar is a colorful robot hero, Toho responding to the popularity of Tokusatsu shows at the time like Ultraman or Kamen Rider, gives us a character that could easily get his own spin-off franchise if they wanted. Also, Seatopia is only the second time an underwater kingdom getting revenge is used in a kaiju flick (the first being in Atragon). Plus the film has A LOT of kick-ass monster destruction, and an epically lengthy four-way battle scene at the end of the film to please giant monster fans who want the slam-bang kind of action. It’s all-ages Godzilla goodness that anyone can enjoy, and parents who feel on the fence about handing their kid an issue of the IDW comic book series can hand them this DVD with ease.


Can you dig it from the back-bins: Sad Sack and the Sarge
Publisher: Harvey Comics
Story and Art By: Various army of writers and artists

So part of my busy past week led me to an antique sale in which I found several beat up issues of the Harvey Comics series Sad Sack and the Sarge, and it dawned on me this is one of those titles to write about, simply because unlike Casper or Richie-Rich or Baby Huey, Sad Sack has gotten very little reprint love or memory, but is just as enjoyable as any of those titles.

Originally created in 1942 as a comic strip, Sad Sack depicted the bumbling private of the U.S. Army, Sad Sack, as he constantly messed things up and drove his superiors crazy! It is a simple and hysterical gag comic, where everything Sad Sack does leads to things being wrecked and the Sarge going nuts over what has happened. Simple plot, but enjoyable over and over. From 1949 until 1982, Harvey Comics published the comic which ran for 287 issues, and spawned 11 spin-off titles, all which ran for various lengths, including Sad Sack and the Sarge which itself ran for an impressive 155 issues from 1957 until 1982. Sad Sack was joined by a great gang in these titles, which included the already mentioned Sarge, the General, Hi-Fi Tweeter, and Slob Slobinski.

Looking through the history of comics, Sad Sack was one of the few titles that was military humor, and aside from comic strip Beetle Bailey (which started in 1950), everything else was serious like Sgt.Rock, or odd like The War That Time Forgot. Sad Sack unlike other Harvey titles would never see animation, probably partially why it hasn’t been on too many nostalgia radars these days, although it would get a single live action movie and radio show. If you are looking to dig up something that is funny and a little different compared to everything else, I’d recommend finding an issue of one of the numerous Sad Sack series!


That’s it for this week! See you next, and until then, get your kaiju-game on!

Drew McCabe



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