As New York Comic Con 2014 rolls to the end of its second day, the news blasts are coming fast and furious from our friends at Dark Horse Comics. The latest communique alerts us to a totally loony franchise collision that puts extraterrestrial horror hounds, the Predators, dogging the trail of the Archie Comics crew. Hey, my favorite Universal Monster film is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, so I’m there.
Slash and (Sun) Burn…
April 2015 brings the first issue of Archie Meets Predator a 4 part Alex de Campi (Grindhouse) and Fernando Ruiz saga set during spring break in Costa Rico. I haven’t seen a preview but I’m thinking Betty and Veronica camouflaged in spa mud. If that’s a spoiler, I’m clairvoyant. If it’s not, I’m a twelve year old.
Author de Campi promises the whole Archie crew in tow. His interview with USAToday is here.
Diamond Select Toys is taking the opportunity to expand the monster line with a unique design of their own. DST’s Van Helsing, is an armed-to-the-teeth vision of the vampire hunter with a wizened and battle scarred countenance. With his axe, rifle, pistol and bandolero of wooden spikes he’s clearly a determined and formidable foe for the feral creatures of the night.
With many of us still cringing from the loopy Hugh Jackman misstep of 2004 Van Helsing was a risky choice. Fortunately DST presents him as an effective cross between the grandfatherly character portrayed by Edward Van Sloan in 1931 and Anthony Hopkins’ frenzied doctor of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992.)
The Van Helsing “Select” version is the most ornate of the three new Wave 5 boxed packages. The base provides a cemetery scene with dual tombstones and vicious vampire bride Mina Harker pouching from her grave.
I’ve been stalking Diamond Select Toy’s fifth wave of Universal Monsters figures since they first appeared as early prototypes in DST’s Toy Fair Booth back in 2013.
These two newest 7 inch scale action figures present Boris Karloff as The Monster from Son of Frankenstein, and a new version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Jean St. Jean sculpts are created with “super articulation,” giving the models many more poseable points of movement than their previous incarnations.
DST has announced these items in blister-carded Toys “R” Us Exclusive configurations (already on the shelves) as well as “Select” boxes, available shortly in comic book shops, or for pre-order. The “Select” versions add extraordinarily detailed bases and props.
The Monster is portrayed with a slightly more gaunt look than Karloff lensed in the original 1939 film. He is clothed in his signature “Son of” wooly vest, a look that will forever remind me of Sonny Bono’s preferred garb in the 1960’s. In addition to more articulation The Creature update trumps its Wave 1 predecessor with, to my eye, a sculpt more accurate to its film appearance and a glossier aquatic paint finish.
“Armed” and Dangerous…
The “Select” Son of Frankenstein comes with an awesome Kenneth Strickfaden inspired piece of electrical laboratory gear that will remind old school collector’s like myself of the similar rig that was part of Aurora’s classic Bride of Frankenstein tableau. No Son of Frankenstein collectible would be complete without the wooden arm of Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh for the monster to swing around. For me it’s a must have, and I’m glad to report it comes in both packaging configurations, so you won’t be torn (hee, hee.)
While I’m happy to learn that Diamond Select will continue to offer Universal Monster figures in another wave next year, I also applaud the initiative to bring some of their own creative juice to the monster mix.
The Aurora Plastic Model Company did this quite effectively in late 1960’s. Their Forgotten Prisoner of Castle Mare, The Witch, and The Guillotine models were equally cherished by collectors. In fact they are the only intact original Aurora models I still have. The others succumbed to an ill advised tangle with a barrage of firecrackers one fateful Independence day.
Oops, You Blinked…
Congratulations to the Dark Horse Comics team whose inaugural issue of Fire and Stone: Prometheus sold out in the wink of an eye. It’s an exceptional start to a series that promises to eclipse even Dark Horse’s long running Stars Wars books. The F&S series represents a massive franchise culling, century hopping, set of tales which are bound to keep followers of the Alien and Predator mythos enthralled and fandom discussion boards thriving.
Four By Four Plus One…
They’ll be four issues in each Fire and Stone series, Prometheus, Aliens, Predator, and Aliens Vs. Predators (AVP,) with a final standalone story produced to pull the whole shebang together. I think it’s easy to predict the final works being offered in one nifty Dark Horse hard cover edition down the road.
(Xeno) More 4 U…
Be forewarned the first issue of Fire and Stone: Aliens, arriving on September 24th, is likely to disappear into space just as fast and no one will hear you scream. The first issue features xenomorphs up the wazoo in a tale hinted at in the first issue of F&S:Prometheus. The second printing of Prometheus #1 is expected on October 8, 2014, the same day that Aliens Vs Predators: Fire and Stone #1 drops.
As noted in previous features, 2014 marks the Sweet Sixteenth year Mezco Toyz’ Living Dead Dolls have graced the planet. The continuing collection of creepy creations was conceived by Ed Long, Damian Glonek, and Mez Markowitz, who have thus far unleashed 28 multiple doll series encompassing every hobgoblin imaginable. The company has conjured up several interesting ways to pay tribute to the monstrous muñecas this year, including a “time capsule coffin” event, and the LDD party continues with the publication of The Art of Living Dead Dolls.
Over the years Mezco’s putrid progeny have found a home in the hearts of many talented artists and the new book showcases their LDD inspired works. An impressive list of over 100 artists share their unique views of the LDD universe across the book’s 80 pages. The wide array of styles and varied media (oils, gouache and acrylics, to pen and ink, screen print, and digital) produce a visually arresting experience for the reader.
There’s plenty here to peruse and enjoy. I’m currently enamored with Louis Russomanno’s graveyard as schoolyard scene, Emily Yoshizawa’s LDD populated doll house, Becky Bray’s “Rain,” and Chris Garafalo’s Calavera print.
Also featured are photos from the Mezco’s 2006 Living Dead Dolls Art Show, in which participants transformed the dolls into their own hellish visions. There are lots of striking manipulations (mutilations?) including Damien, Mez and Ed’s own iconoclastic dioramas, but it was Randy Falk’s King Diamond LDD remake that made me laugh out loud.
The softbound first edition has an embossed cover which adds a nice touch of depth to Joshua Hoffine’s backwoods at witching hour tableau. The interior color is vibrant and saturated and art reproduction is ace. The book’s foreword is fittingly offered by artist Basil Gogos whose cover paintings for the original Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines virtually invented the modern monster art field.
In my experience fans are always in the forefront of Mezco’s doings and they aren’t left out here. Rounding out the book is a full section of art from fans of all ages, as well as a tattoo chapter chronicling the body art of those who have dedicated a stretch of their own flesh to the Living Dead Doll phenomenon.
Mezco will further furnish fans with an exceptional opportunity built around the 2014 NYCC Superweek. On October 10th @ 8PM they will invade their favorite haunt, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, for a signing by the LDD team and select artists represented in the book.
Mezco says, “One of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Times Square Odditorium rooms will be sealed off and transformed into a haven for Living Dead Dolls fans. On display will be an assortment of rare and one of a kind Living Dead Dolls artifacts direct from the Mezco archives. Many of these items have never been seen by the public, and a select number of them will be available for purchase, including hand painted prototypes, and concept art.
The first 200 attendees will each receive a free Living Dead Doll themed goodie bag plus a chance to win a test shot set of Living Dead Dolls Series 28 dolls. Test shot sets are seldom released to the public, making this a rare chance for a fan to acquire one of the most sought after collectibles in the Living Dead Dolls universe.
Each of the 200 goodie bags will contain a set of special limited edition art prints available only at the event along with carefully curated selection of other Mezco and Living Dead Doll themed items.”