Monday, August 29, 2016

New Cover for Encyclopedia of KISS


I finally convinced my publisher to put a new, more KISS-like cover on my Encyclopedia of KISS, with a Gene Simmons-like silhouette and colors inspired by the cover to Destroyer.
(Scroll down to see the original, more generic cover.)

You can order the book with the new cover ON AMAZON.

Encyclopedia of KISS: Music, Personnel, Events and Related subjects is loaded down with everything you ever wanted to know about KISS, including albums, tours, songs, TV and movie appearances, makeup and non-makeup eras, family members and girlfriends, solo work, influences on the band, replacement members, studio musicians, road crew, books, magazines, comics, toys, video games, merchandise, obscurities, and much more, including photos, bios on each member past and present and a history of the band. Everything is in alphabetical order for your convenience. This is a fun read and comprehensive reference for KISS fans, writers, researchers, trivia mavens, and music buffs. More than 150,000 words.

Here's what the experts are saying about Encyclopedia of KISS:

*I keep it near my favorite chair in the family room and pop it open quite a bit...it's a fun book I think fans will like...it's chock-full of great information...great job on the research.
~Mark Cicchini, co-host of 3 Sides of the Coin podcast

*Pretty good unofficial KISS book...a good read for KISS fans.
~Bill Starkey, co-founder of the KISS Army

*A great book...a fun read...definitely a different kind of book.
~Michael Brandvold, co-host of 3 Sides of the Coin podcast.

*Terrific read...incredibly well-written and thorough in its examination of All Things KISS...Author Brett Weiss has been exhaustive in his research...A great book.
~Ross Berg, author of Gene Simmons: A Rock 'N Roll Journey in the Shadow of the Holocaust

 


Friday, August 26, 2016

My Frank Frazetta Interview with Heritage Auctions' Weldon Adams

Widely regarded as the foremost American artist of the fantastic and outrĂ©, the late, great  carved out a career drawing funny animal comic books and classic adventure strips, but he’s best  known for his otherworldly paintings of musclebound men, buxom women, alien landscapes and terrifying monsters. His art has graced book covers, magazine covers, movie posters and more, including album covers for bands as diverse as , Herman’s Hermits, and Nazareth.

Frazetta was a commercial artist, but his works are considered as important as those of most any contemporary fine artist. His sketches, drawings, and paintings routinely sell for big bucks, and many of his creations grace the walls of the Frazetta Art Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania in the heart of the Pocono Mountains.

Recently, Heritage Auctions facilitated the sale of Frazetta’s At the Earth’s Core, which was used for the cover of an Edgar Rice Burroughs paperback. It sold tfor $1,075,500, the most ever paid for a Frazetta work in a public auction. Shortly after the auction, I interviewed my friend Weldon Adams, the Comic and Animation Art Specialist at Heritage Auctions in Dallas about the sale, and about Frazetta in general.

BRETT WEISS: Do you remember the first time you saw a Frazetta work? If so, what was it, and what did you think of it?

WELDON ADAMS: I can’t remember the exact piece, but I am quite sure it was one of the John Carter novel covers. I learned about his earlier careers in both comic strips and comic books after the fact. I knew him as a master painter first.

WEISS: Do you collect Frazetta? If so, please describe your collection, highlighting some of your favorite books, prints, comics, etc.

ADAMS: I was not a collector of his work per se. But it did grace the covers of some of my favorite novels. In recent years, I am really very taken with his comic strip work in the 1950s. So I keep an eye on any of the Johnny Comet strips that come through Heritage Auctions. Also, any of the Li’l Abner dailies from the era that he assisted Al Capp.

WEISS: If you could own one  item, regardless of the price (something you couldn’t simply sell), what would it be?

ADAMS: That would have to be the original art for the reissue of . That Frazetta painted cover is so iconic. You can see it echoed over and over again in fandom. Compare it to the original movie poster for “Star Wars” (IV: A New Hope) by the brothers Hildebrandt. It is easy to spot that influence.

WEISS: Why do art critics typically prefer Frazetta to such similar painters as Boris, Jeff Jones and Ken Kelly? Is it strictly because they came after Frazetta, or is it something else?

ADAMS: Likely a combination of factors. However, it is hard to ignore Frazetta structure and skill in the mechanics of how he lays out an image. He makes it powerful and dynamic. The others learned from that and built upon it.

WEISS: When and why did Frazetta become a household word? Was it the Tarzan PB covers?

ADAMS: Pretty much, yes. The ERB Tarzan novels were always a bit more popular than the John Carter of Mars series. But between the two of them, they cemented his reputation as THE cover painter for novels. So working on the ERB franchise reissues was probably the best synthesis of cover painter and novel content that has ever happened, rivaled possibly only by Boris Vallejo’s work on the  Conan novels.

WEISS: Fantasy art is more respected than it used to be. In your opinion, why is this so?

ADAMS: Fantasy in general has come out of the shadows. The entire genre is more respected now. Generations have grown up reading Tolkien, Burroughs, , Anne McCaffery’s Pern series, and watching Ray Harryhausen animation in fantasy movies such as Sinbad. So fantasy art is more ingrained for them. And the generations who grew up playing D&D have demanded more fantasy art as well. Fantasy art has gotten more sophisticated as the same time. The pageantry of TV’s Game of Thrones owes much to that.

WEISS: What was it like holding the million dollar painting in your hands?

ADAMS: Honestly, I was giddy. And just to see that piece up close and personal was a huge treat.
Anytime you can see a historical artifact from your childhood, it’s a special thing. And of course, holding a single thing that is worth over a million dollars is mind-blowing.
WEISS: Looking at a Van Gogh in person is much different than seeing a print. The color, the energy, the thick brush strokes…Is there a similar effect with Frazetta. In other words, what’s different about looking at a Frazetta original than looking at a print?

ADAMS: There is detail in the work that is simply not reproduced well in any book cover or poster print to date. There are soft, subtle lines and colors, and hidden details in the background that are covered up by cover text and logos. Much like any museum masterpiece, you can stare at this for hours.

WEISS: Why did that painting in particular sell for so much? Is there something special about it compared to his other works?

ADAMS: The novel At The Earth’s Core was the first of ’ stories set in his ‘lost world’ of Pellucidar. Although Lost World stories are their own sub-genre of fantasy, this is one of the earliest and best. It first appeared as a serialized story in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly in 1914, and was first collected into a novel in 1922. It was reprinted several times, with this stunning Frazetta work used on the 1970s reprints of the story. Science Fiction and Fantasy were making a comeback in the 1970s, so the timing on this was just right to imprint upon the memories of an entire generation of fans. Fans who would go on to create and influence the genre even more.

As for comparing it to his other works, this piece just simply has it all.  is known for his gorgeous women from work produced in his comic book and comic strip days. Here he had a chance to illustrate one of those characteristically lovely “Frazetta women” and juxtapose her against his more fantasy style. A style he began to develop in those comic book days as well, The image tells a rich and moving story in one image, and it’s an essential part of the tale as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Betty Cooper as The Flash

I've been doing data entry for an online comic book company, and it's rekindled my reading of various Archie titles. This one in particular sparked my interest as it has , Archie's "girl next door" love interest, imagining that she is a Flash-like character. As many of you probably know, (Barry Allen version) is my all-time favorite super-hero, so this was a fun read. Click on each image for a better look, and enjoy the story!  





Friday, August 5, 2016

50 Things to Love Through 50 Years of Star Trek



When Kirk, Spock and company began their “five-year mission” nearly 50 years ago, boldly going “where no man has gone before,” little did they realize that people would be obsessing over the low budget, but well-acted and intelligently written series all these decades later.

Featuring a diverse cast, cool spaceships and a rich panoply of gizmos and gadgetry, Star Trek is a beloved pop culture touchstone—as alien as any program in the history of television, yet as American as baseball, country music and The Brady Bunch.

In addition to spawning sequels, movies, collectibles, internet memes, parodies and much more, including people who entered the space program because of the show, Star Trek inspires masses of like-minded fans to get together at convention halls, celebrating the phenomenon they love so much.

Here are 50 things to love about Star Trek.

1. Gene Roddenberry. Nicknamed “The Great Bird of the Galaxy,” the late, great Roddenberry gave us an intelligent and diversely cast sci-fi adventure show set in an optimistic future.

2. Majel Barrett. Roddenberry’s widow (now deceased), Barrett not only played Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi, but also voiced the ship’s computer.

3. Fans. Whether called Trekkers (nerdy fans) or Trekkies (super nerdy fans), Star Trek devotees are among the most devoted of any franchise.

4. Bjo Trimble. The most devoted fan of all, Trimble organized a “Save Star Trek” campaign that ensured a third season for the original series.

5. Tribbles. Cute, furry and lovable, Tribbles, first appearing in “The Trouble with Tribbles” (written by sci-fi author David Gerrold), look harmless, but are “mortal enemies” of the Klingons.

6. Klingons. Savage warriors who value honor above all else, Klingons were arch enemies of Captain Kirk and company, but later reformed (sort of).

7. James T. Kirk. The greatest starship captain of them all, Kirk was played with swagger by William Shatner, who delivered his lines haltingly for dramatic effect.

8. Kirk/Shatner impersonators, who deliver their lines haltingly for comedic effect.

9. The infamous Saturday Night Live parody with Shatner: “You, you must be almost 30...Have you ever kissed a girl?”

10. “Beam me up, Scotty.” Kirk never said these exact words to Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (played by James Doohan) in an episode, but the phrase became a meme nonetheless.

11. Spock. Kirk’s logical best friend, Science Officer Spock, played by the late, great Leonard Nimoy, is half Vulcan, but is perhaps more human than any other Star Trek character.

12. The Vulcan nerve pinch. What Trekker worth his or her dilithium crystals hasn’t tried this knockout maneuver on one of his or her friends at least once?

13. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. This Vulcan philosophy epitomizes Star Trek, with each series boasting an ethnically diverse cast.

14. “Live long and prosper.” Good advice for any life form.

15. Green chics in go go boots. Hands down, the original Star Trek boasted the cutest aliens in the galaxy.

16. Bones. Despite being an ornery old cuss who hated transporters, Leonard “Bones” McCoy, played by the late, lamented DeForest Kelley, had the best bedside manner this side of the Romulan Neutral Zone.

17. “I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.” Bones’ most memorable line, spoken during “The Devil in the Dark.”

18. George Takei. Best known as Helmsman Sulu, Takei has lived a productive post-“Trek” life as an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

19. Nichelle Nichols. As Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols was the first African-American female to play a lead, non-stereotypical role on television. Martin Luther King Jr. himself praised her work.

20. “City on the Edge of Forever.” A tragic love story (between Kirk and Edith Keeler, played by Joan Collins) and the greatest “Star Trek” episode ever filmed. Not even studio tinkering with Harlan Ellison’s script could ruin this one.

21. “Mirror Mirror.” An evil Spock sporting a goatee. ’Nuff said.

22. Allegory. Such episodes as “A Private Little War” offered thinly veiled commentary on real-life woes—the Vietnam War in this case.

23. “Spock’s Brain.” So bad it’s good, “Spock’s Brain” is Star Trek for Ed Wood fans. Spock’s pointy ears are awesome as well, though network executives initially worried he looked too “satanic.”
 
24. Transporters. Because faster is better. Ditto warp speed.

25. The future is now. Star Trek predicted flip phones, sliding doors, diagnostic beds, computer discs and more.

26. Toon Trek. Filmation’s Star Trek: The Animated Series won a Daytime Emmy Award for “Best Children’s Series” for the 1974-1975 season.

27. The Holodeck. Introduced in The Animated Series, the holodeck is the ultimate form of virtual reality, making years in space seem downright pleasant.

28. Friendly arguments. Kirk or Picard? Star Trek: The Original Series or Star Trek: The Next Generation? Play a game of 3D chess to determine the winner.

29. Patrick Stewart. Shakespearean actor Stewart, as Picard, brought a distinguished “ask questions first, fire phasers later” ethic to the role of Starfleet captain, separating The Next Generation from The Original Series.

30. “Engage” and “Make it so.” Genteel orders frequently given by Picard.

31. Data. Played brilliantly by Brent Spiner, Lieutenant Commander Data, an android who longs to be human, is arguably the third greatest “Star Trek” character of all time (after Kirk and Spock).
  
32. “The Offspring.” A funny and poignant episode of The Next Generation in which Data “fathers” a female android he has created.

33. The Borg. Because resistance is futile. And oftentimes terrifying.

34. “The Best of Both Worlds.” Picard as Locutus of Borg is utterly chilling, especially when Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) orders the Enterprise to “Fire!” at him.

35. Deanna Troi. Played by Marina Sirtis, Counselor Troi is one of the classiest and prettiest members of Starfleet, and definitely the most intuitive.

36. Wesley Crusher. The kid character you love to hate (or just hate). Although we enjoy Wil Wheaton’s guest appearances on The Big Bang Theory.

37. Worf. A Klingon raised by humans, Worf (Michael Dorn) was in more “Star Trek” episodes than any other character, appearing as a regular in The Next Generation and seasons four through seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

38. Benjamin Sisko. Stately and reserved, Sisko (Avery Brooks) commands a space station (Deep Space Nine) instead of a starship, but he’s a great captain nevertheless.

39. RenĂ© Auberjonois. As Odo, one of Deep Space Nine’s best, most fully realized characters, Auberjonois brings subtlety, apprehension, nuance, and pliability to an unlikely role: head of security.

40. Quark. Deep Space Nine tends to be a somber show dealing with deep (so to speak) issues like war, religion and politics, but Quark (Armin Shimerman) brings levity and mischievousness to the proceedings.

41. Girl power. Females have played crucial roles in “Star Trek” from the beginning, most notably Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway, played with steely resolve by Kate Mulgrew.

42. The Adventures of Captain Proton. During their long voyage home, Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) acted out chapters of this 1930’s-style serial in the holodeck, complete with black-and-white visuals. Retro cool, for sure.

43. Former Borg drone Seven of Nine. Every Star Trek sequel needed a logic-based character to substitute for Spock. Voyager’s just happened to be played by the drop-dead gorgeous Jeri Ryan.

44. Scott Bakula. Most fans agree that Star Trek: Enterprise is the weakest link in the “Star Trek” franchise, but Bakula of Quantum Leap fame was solid as Captain Jonathan Archer.

45. Movie marathons. If you’ve never stayed up all night watching the first six “Star Trek” films featuring the original cast, you haven’t truly lived.

46. Star Trek:  The Wrath of Kahn. Or should we say, Wrath of “Kaaaaaaahhhhnnnnn!!!”?

47. The nuclear “wessels.” Some of the franchise’s funniest moments were in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, such as Pavel Chekov’s (Walter Koenig) repeated butchering of the word “vessels.”

48. J. J. Abrams.  Before he directed Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Abrams revitalized the “Trek” franchise with two exciting films: Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

49. A new movie. Star Trek Beyond is in theaters now and will be followed by a new Star Trek television series (Star Trek: Discovery) in 2017.


50. Streaming episodes. Netflix currently streams tons of “Trek,” including complete series, so what are you waiting for? Binge-watch like no one has binged before! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Classic Game Fest 2016 -- July 30-31 in Austin

Classic Game Fest is coming to Austin this weekend, July 30-31. Here's a quick interview I did at the 2014 show.


PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Kaelin
Email: info@classicgamefest.com
Phone: 512­-428­-4883

THE NINTH ANNUAL CLASSIC GAME FEST IS SET TO BE THE BIGGEST YET.
Join the largest retro gaming convention in Texas.

AUSTIN, TEXAS (July 21, 2016) ­­ Classic Game Fest (CGF), one of the largest classic video game conventions in the country, returns to the Palmer Event Center in Austin, Texas on July 30­31, 2016. CGF will feature a 45,000 square foot vendor and event hall to showcase 169 total booths featuring 22 different video game sellers, 44 artists, 51 vendors, 15 bands, 25 special guests including iconic game designer Warren Spector, Intellivision President Keith Robinson, acclaimed author Ernest Cline, and more. For a full list of vendors/exhibitors/guests visit www.classicgamefest.com.

Wristbands for the retro gaming expo are on sale now. Prices currently range from $10 to $25 for adults and kids under 12 are free. Interested attendees should visit www.classicgamefest.com or CGF’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram sites to purchase their advanced tickets. Tickets will also be available during the convention.

“Every year, we work hard to grow this event bigger and better than ever, and 2016 is certainly no exception! CGF is an enormous celebration of the classic video games we all know and love from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and a bringing together of the entire gaming community. This is a super­sized video game event for the entire family ­ the one place where the parents are clamoring to see and play the video games, and they are constantly showing their kids how it’s done!” Says event founder, David Kaelin.

Classic Game Fest began in 2007 as a video game tournament and party and quickly grew into the largest retro video games convention in Texas. CGF celebrates classic and retro video games with tournaments, vendors selling games and consoles, a video games museum, musical acts, costume contests and more. CGF has previously featured acclaimed author, Ernest Cline, Atari video game programmer, Howard Scott Warshaw, and video game icon, Richard “Lord British” Garriot, as special guests. CGF 2016 will be the largest convention in event history and is scheduled for July 30 ­ 31, 2016.

Pokemon Go and the People Who Play It

If you're into Pokemon Go--and I know you are--check out my article on the game and the people who play it HERE.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pokemon Go in the Funnies

Check out the latest "Making It" comic strip by Intellivision veteran Keith Robinson. It revolves around a certain viral video game that you can download for free to your smart phone.

Click on the image for a closer look.