Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films

My wife created a new cover for my latest book, Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films. The original cover was great and cleverly designed, but this one has more "pop" and really grabs the reader's attention.

Retro Pop Culture A-Z: From Atari 2600 to ZombieFilms is a window to the past—a time of 8-bit video games, Silver Age super-heroes, Saturday morning cartoons, rock ’n’ roll music, and scary movies at the drive-in.

The book includes 60 fun-filled, feature-length chapters on such icons of popular culture as Alien, the Batman TV show, the Beatles, Dynamite Magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Flash, Forbidden Planet, Golden Age arcade games, He-Man, the Intellivision, Jaws, MAD magazine, the Nintendo NES, Ray Bradbury, The Wizard of Oz, and the X-Men.

If you’ve ever stayed up all night trying to beat Super Mario Bros., dressed up as a member of KISS on Halloween, watched Thundarr the Barbarian while eating a bowl of sugary cereal, set a VCR to record your favorite show, or listened to Elvis or the Rolling Stones on a turntable or 8-track tape player, Retro Pop Culture A-Z is for you.

If you haven’t done any of these things, no problem—feel free to dive right in and find out why your parents (or grandparents) are always talking about “the good old days.”


*60 essays/articles on nostalgic pop culture favorites
*More than 250 full-color photos
*More than 110,000 words
*Quotes from the experts
*Production histories
*Collectibles pricing
*Author anecdotes
*And much more!

Chapters include:

Alien: The Movie and the Maze Game
Atari 2600: Long Live the VCS!
Batman: Holy TV Series!
The Beatles: 50th Anniversary of the Fab Four
The Brady Bunch: Here’s the Story
Computers: Collecting Vintage PCs
Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Universal Standard
DC Comics Action Figures: A Complete History
Dynamite Magazine: A Scholastic Treasure
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: 30th Anniversary
Elvis Presley and Graceland: Long Live the King
Famous Monsters of Filmland: Forry’s Fantastic Fan Mag
The Flash: Speed Kills
FOOM and Amazing World of DC Comics: Two Great Magazines
Forbidden Planet: 50th Anniversary
Golden Age Arcade Games: Collecting the Classics
Green Lantern: A Hero History
Harry Houdini: The Great Escape (Artist)
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: 30+ Years of Power
The Hulk: Lou Ferrigno Smash
Intellivision: Doin’ the Slide-‘n’-Shoot
The International Video Game Auction House: Ben Gold’s Bailiwick
Iron Man: The Metal-Clad Marvel
James Bond: Still Cool at 50
Jaws: A Blockbuster with Teeth
Jukeboxes: The Beat Goes On
KISS: The Hottest Band in the Land
Land of the Lost: Marshall, Will, and Holly
Lois Lane: Still Gorgeous at 75
Mad Magazine: The Usual Gang of Idiots
Marilyn Monroe: The Legend Lives On
Metallica’s Kirk Hammett: Famous Monster Collector
Nintendo NES: The Great Gray Box
Ouija Boards: Mystic Oracle or Harmless Toy?
The Outer Limits: Creatures, Cards, and More
Pinball Machines: Collecting the Classics
Prince: Rock Star and Comic Book Hero
Queens in Film: The Evil Ones
Ray Bradbury: A Sci-Fi Legend
Record Albums: LPs Make a Comeback
Return of the Jedi: 30th Anniversary
Robots in the Movies: The 1950s
The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction
Sega Master System: Playable and Collectable
Spidey Super Stories: The Surreal Super-Hero Skit
Stan “The Man” Lee: A True Marvel
Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Canonical Cartoon
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: A Clash of the Titans
Thundarr the Barbarian: A Cartoon Classic
TV Guide: 60th Anniversary
Universal Monsters Comic Books: A Dark Horse Favorite
VHS Video: Tale of the Tape
Video Game Board Games: A Monopoly on Fun
The Wizard of Oz: We’re Off to See the Wizard
Wonder Woman: A Formidable Feminist
The X-Men: 50th Anniversary
Yars’ Revenge: Clearing a Path to the Qotile
Zombie Films: Watching the Dead Walk

Bonus "Crazy 8" Chapters:
8mm Films: Of Monsters and Movies
8-Track Tapes: Making a Comeback

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dallas Comic Con: Sci-Fi & Comic Expo - Feb. 8-9

IRVING, TX—This year’s Dallas Comic Con: Sci-Fi & Comic Expo, coming to the Irving Convention Center Feb. 8-9, is shaping up to be one doozy of a show. Not only will vendors be on hand selling a variety of pop culture merchandise, such as vintage comic books, collectible action figures, original movie posters, limited edition statues, and an assortment of movie, TV, and super-hero T-shirts, numerous celebrity guests will be signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.

Arguably the most famous guest star in attendance will be Richard Dreyfuss, who starred in two of the most iconic genre films of all time: Jaws (1975), in which he played oceanographer Matt Hooper; and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), in which he portrayed Roy Neary, an everyman blue collar worker in Indiana whose life is irrevocably changed after an encounter with a UFO.
 Dreyfuss also featured prominently in such classics as American Graffiti (1973) and The Goodbye Girl (1977), the latter earning him the Academy Award for Best Actor. More recently, he appeared in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Poseidon (2006), which was the third movie adaptation of Paul Gallico’s epic disaster novel, The Poseidon Adventure.

Another big gun (so to speak) appearing at the Sci-Fi & Comic Expo will be Peter Weller, who played the title character in the first two RoboCop films. Weller won’t be in the new RoboCop remake, which is scheduled to debut in theaters Feb. 12, but he’s not shy about stating his opinion on the film.
At the 2013 Los Angeles Times Hero Complex Film Festival, Weller said they’ve been trying to make another RoboCop for years and expressed skepticism that the new movie will be any good—certainly not as good as the original RoboCop. He said they can “throw a lot of CGI” at the remake, but that the “morality that was endemic” to the original RoboCop is “hard to replicate. It makes you laugh and cry and moves you…it’s hysterical and horrible and all those unbelievable things at once. Good luck to them. They’ll never do it.”

Other big-name guests appearing at the  Dallas Comic Con: Sci-Fi & Comic Expo include Stephen Amell (Arrow), Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy in Star Trek Into Darkness), Sylvester McCoy (the seventh Doctor in Doctor Who), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond in Doctor Who), Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man), Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca in Star Wars).

Most of the media guests will charge between $40 to $60 for autographs and photo ops, but there will be plenty of opportunities for fans to snag some free signatures. The writers and artists who appear at these types of events typically sign comics and pose for pictures without charging a dime. They make their money selling comics, sketches, and the like.

Some of the more noteworthy comics pros appearing at the Sci-Fi & Comic Expo will be Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!), Kevin Maguire (Justice League), Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern: Rebirth), Bill Sienkiewicz (The New Mutants), and James O’Barr (The Crow).

A recent addition is Ian Churchill, the British artist known for such titles as Coven, Supergirl, Cable, Teen Titans, Hulk, and Uncanny X-Men.

“This is as rare stateside appearance (for Churchill) and one I couldn’t be more thrilled about,” Sci-Fi & Comic Expo organizer Ben Stevens recently said on his Facebook page. “Let’s all give Ian a warm Texas welcome.”

Monday, January 13, 2014


"Wormboy," a script I wrote for a future issue of Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave, is being drawn by Rob Brown, a very talented illustrator. Shown below is page two: click on the image for a closer look.

The story is adapted from Wormboy, a story in my eBook, Filtered Future and Other Dark Tales of Science Fiction and Horror.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

SUPER! BitCon Vendor & Exhibitor Preview

SUPER! BitCon, a new, but ambitious video game convention, will be held March 29 in Oklahoma City. You can find more information HERE

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The $1 Million Don/Maggie Thompson Pedigree Collection

Like many of my articles, this one appeared in a recent AntiqueWeek:
DALLAS, TX—Another comic book auction from the fine folks at Heritage has come and gone, but part one of the $1 Million Don/Maggie Thompson Pedigree Collection was anything but a garden variety event. Rather, it was the culmination of a lifetime of collecting, bringing in sales of $835,384, much of which was for a few key issues and some original art; there were 86 items in all.

Highlights of the sale, which ran Nov. 21-23, included high grade copies of The Avengers #1, $89,625; Journey Into Mystery #83 (the first appearance of Thor), $77,675; and The Incredible Hulk #1, $58,256. The cover art for Conan the Barbarian #4, drawn by the great Barry Windsor-Smith, went for $87,235.
Seller Maggie Thompson, a collector since the 1940s, felt that now was the right time to part with some of her more important, more pristine treasures.

“These comic books have a value, part of which is that their condition is magnificent,” she said in a recent interview with Jyske Bank TV. “That makes me very uncomfortable every time I handle them.”

A writer, blogger, and researcher, Thompson, now 70, has no plans of giving up comic book collecting any time soon, but she’s more than content replacing many of the most valuable comics in her collection with well-worn reading copies.

“What I’m able to do here is to pass on these things that are in beautiful shape to another generation of buyers,” she said, “and I will replace them with rotten condition copies where the covers are coming off, and I don’t care because the story is still there.”

For those not in the know, Maggie Thompson is one of the pioneers of comic book fandom, a phenomenon that took off during the 1960s. In the fall of 1960, Thompson, along with her late husband Don (1935-1994), released a mimeographed one-sheet called Harbinger, which announced the forthcoming publication of Comic Art, an early fanzine devoted to comic books.

Comic Art, which was published irregularly from 1961 to 1968, only lasted seven issues, but it was highly influential in the field, helping pave the way for numerous other comic book fanzines, including the Thompsons’ own Newfangles, which focused primarily on comic book fandom (as opposed to news about comic books and their creators).

In 1972, Alan Light, publisher of The Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom, brought the Thompsons onboard as columnists, beginning with issue #19. In 1983, Light sold The Buyer’s Guide to Krause Publications, which changed the title to Comics Buyer’s Guide and hired the Thompsons as editors.

Maggie stayed with CBG until January of 2013, when the magazine (formerly a newspaper) ceased publication. She now blogs for Comic-Con International via

Steve Borock, Senior Consignment Director at Heritage Auctions, is proud that his company was selected by Maggie to host the esteemed sale.

“Don and Maggie Thompson were already adults when Fantastic Four #1 came out in 1961, and since comics were their great passion they purchased all of them and handled every new comic with great care," he said. “Their comic collection is truly one-of-a-kind and is well deserving of a pedigree. It's rare to see such a fresh collection come to market and we are honored to be entrusted with it.”

Part two of the $1 Million Don/Maggie Thompson Pedigree Collection auction will be held in February.