Monday, June 18, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Captain America - The First Avenger

To get through the long wait before Avengers 4, David and I are rewatching the Marvel movies and some of the TV shows in more or less chronological order. We begin with the WWII adventure, Captain America: The First Avenger, paying special attention to characters and story seeds that become important in later films.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Blue Hawaii (1961), Lilo & Stitch (2002), and Train to Busan (2016)

Evan takes the hosting chair and picks his first set of movies. Can you figure out what a trainload of zombies has to do with Hawaii and Elvis before Dave, David, special guest Paxton Holley, and I do?

Friday, June 08, 2018

'Casting Off | Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)

You know about Pirates of the Caribbean and Treasure Island. In this episode of our nautical film podcast, David and I are joined by our friend Rob Graham to talk about the other Disney pirate film, starring Dean Jones, Peter Ustinov, Suzanne Pleshette, and Elsa Lanchester.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Nerd Lunch | Solo Drill Down

Everyone's talking about Solo, so the Nerd Lunch gang decided to check it out and record their thoughts. And they invited me to join them. Online opinions are apparently split on it, but we all pretty much agreed about its quality. Take a listen and see if you agree, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fourth Chair Army Invasion | Convince Me!

So, I've got a new podcast project. I know, I know, but it'll only be a few times a year and not much trouble to fit into the schedule. What's going on is the Nerd Lunch fellas are cutting back to two, actual Nerd Lunch episodes a month. The other two weeks are filled with spinoff shows, Down the Rabbit Hole and The Chap Report, so I floated them the idea of letting their Fourth Chair Army (of which I'm pleased to be a member) take over the show anytime there's a fifth Tuesday in the month. They went for it and Fourth Chair Army Invasion is a thing.

For the first episode I asked Liz Twachtman, Mike Westfall, and Evan Hanson (all of us appearing in the collage above with Nerd Lunch's Carlin Trammel) to join me in something I called "Convince Me." Each of us introduced another panelist to something they’ve never tried before to see if we could convince each other about the worth of The Americans, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Attack the Block, and Meet the Robinsons.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | True Grit (2010)

Pax and I talk about the Coen Brothers' re-adaptation of Charles Portis' novel. We also get in some discussion on the 1969 John Wayne version as well as Charlton Comics' Billy the Kid.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday, May 11, 2018

Thundarr Road | Stalker from the Stars

David, Noel, and I try to figure out just where Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla have traveled to in "Stalker from the Stars." With only a couple of clues to guide us, Noel and I came up with different answers, so we talk that through before getting to the business of an ice cavern amusement park, a deadly alien, and a very sick Mok.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Stagecoach (1939)

Pax and I finally visit the John Ford/John Wayne classic, also starring Claire Trevor, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, Tim Holt, Tom Tyler, and (uh oh?) Andy Devine.

Also: Pony Express mail and quick reviews of McLintock! (1963) and The Great Missouri Raid (1951).

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Interview in Dark Worlds Quarterly

If you're like me, you enjoy the guest posts here where GW Thomas writes about pulp magazines and Golden Age comics. And you've probably also noticed at the bottom of those articles where his bio says that he's the editor of Dark Worlds magazine.

Well, worlds have collided and GW was kind enough to invite me to participate in an interview for the latest issue, now online. It's a special kaiju and comics issue and I got to chat about Kill All Monsters, this blog, and just influences and stuff I love in general. The rest of the issue is cool, too, with articles about Reptilicus, Kamandi, and much much more. Please go check it out.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Barbarella (1968), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

Mystery Movie Night celebrates its 25th episode with a discussion of angels, authority figures, and Albuquerque. After a brand new, custom-made theme song (written and performed by my brother Matt May), Erik leads the gang through wacky space opera, high school hijinks, and cartoon superspies. Are these movies any good? What's the secret that connects them? Tune in and find out!

00:02:55 - Review of Barbarella

00:23:55 - Review of Ferris Bueller's Day Off

00:55:22 - Review of Looney Tunes: Back in Action

01:23:23 - Guessing the Connection

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

'Casting Off | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

An epic start to an epic movie series deserves an epic panel to talk about it. On the latest 'Casting Off, David and I are joined by Ron Marz, Liz Twachtman, and Mike Westfall to spring a man from jail, commandeer a ship of the fleet, and sail with a buccaneer crew out of Tortuga. We're completely obsessed with the treasure that is this movie.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Thundarr Road | Interview with Thundarr writer Buzz Dixon, Part 2

We'll be back on the Road soon with the next recap, but until then, enjoy the second part of our interview with writer Buzz Dixon. Noel talks with Buzz about life after Thundarr with special focus on GI Joe. It's another great conversation with great, new stories that you won't want to miss.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Red Sun (1971)

On this episode of Hellbent, Pax and I discuss Terence Young's East-meets-Western starring Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, and Ursula Andress.

We also have short talks about some things with long titles: Anton Treuer's book Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask and Chuck Connors in Kill Them All and Come Back Alone.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Major League (1989), A Few Good Men (1992), and Benny & Joon (1993)

We're all about baseball, brigs, and Buster Keaton on the latest Mystery Movie Night. Dave, David, Erik, Evan, and I discuss a trio of '90s movies and what it is that connects them all.

00:01:44 - Review of Major League

00:26:45 - Review of A Few Good Men

00:44:35 - Review of Benny & Joon

01:08:00 - Guessing the Connection

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pop Culture Retrofit | National Lampoon's Vacation Western

Pop Culture Retrofit is a great idea for a podcast. Each episode, Christian and DiGio take a movie or TV show and imagine what it would be like in a different medium or genre. So: what if The Breakfast Club was a Disney animated movie with talking animals? Or The Da Vinci Code was a game show? Or Die Hard was more appropriate for cats? It's not just a great concept; it's hilarious.

Sometimes they have a guest and for the latest episode they let me come on and help think of ways to turn National Lampoon's Vacation into a Western. I had a blast and laughed a lot. You need to check this out.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Greystoked | 1930s Recap

On the latest Greystoked, Noel, David, and I review the decade that changed Tarzan forever in the public eye. We discuss not just the wild success of MGM and Johnny Weissmuller's interpretation, but the Burroughs novels from the decade as well as imitators from Bomba to Ka-Zar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | The Villain (1979)

Pax and I giggle and groan over Hal Needham's slapstick comedy starring Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Ann-Margret.

Also: a brief Lone Ranger discussion and mini-reviews of 1967's Hour of the Gun (with James Garner as Wyatt Earp) and Mighty Marvel Western featuring Rawhide Kid, Kid Slade, and Two-Gun Kid.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nerd Lunch | An Extra-Helping of Black Panther

Last week on Nerd Lunch, Jeeg invited me, William Bruce West, and Liz Twachtman to talk about Black Panther. It was my second podcast talking about it; the first being N3rd World a couple of weeks ago. The N3rd World discussion is my initial reaction; Nerd Lunch is after I've had a chance to process it a little. I need to see the movie again though. There's so much to think about in there.

Anyway, it's always fun visiting with Jeeg and Will and it was a pleasure to meet and talk to Liz, too.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Hannie Caulder (1971)

Shawn Robare joined Pax and I for another episode, this time to discuss Raquel Welch and Robert Culp in Hannie Caulder, a movie that was a big inspiration for Quentin Tarantino.

There's also some Pony Express mail about Robert Blake Westerns and in "Whatchoo Been Westernin'," we mix genres with the post-apocalyptic movie Scorched Earth and the steampunk vampire novel Blood Riders.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), 10,000 BC (2008), and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

We talk princesses, pyramids, and pecs. And stay tuned to the end for a quick, bonus discussion of Black Panther.

00:01:15 - Review of Atlantis: The Lost Empire
00:19:47 - Review of 10,000 BC
00:36:18 - Review of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
00:56:13 - Guessing the Connection

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guest Post | Marga the Panther Woman

By GW Thomas

Jungle lords were nothing new in 1940. Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan in 1914. Johnny Weissmuller had been playing him in the movies since 1932. Tarzan knock-offs like Bomba, Og, Son of Fire, Jungle Girl, Jan of the Jungle, Kwa of the Jungle, Kaspa the Lion Man, Sorak, Hawk of the Wilderness, Bantan, and Jaragu of the Jungle filled magazines and books. So why was there a sudden spike in jungle comics in 1940?

The biggest reason for the increase in characters was the creation of a sister book for Fiction House's Jumbo Comics that featured Will Eisner's Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. The new comic was called Jungle Comics and it followed its name, featuring only jungle characters. It ran for 163 issues from January 1940 to Summer 1954. In the first year, Jungle Comics offered Kaanga, Wambi the Jungle Boy, White Panther, Tabu, Camilla, Captain Terry Thunder, Simba, King of the Beasts, Drums of the Leopard Men, White Hunters of the African Safari, Roy Lance, and Fantomah. Some of these characters were so popular they spawned comics of their own like Wambi Jungle Boy #1-18 (Spring 1942-Winter 1952) and Kaanga #1-20 (Spring 1949-Summer 1954).

All of Fiction House's competitors took notice and jungle lords and ladies began to show up shortly afterwards in many comics. Fox’s Science Comics #1 (February 1940) largely filled with costumed heroes, created their first jungle gal, Marga the Panther Woman. (This was seven or eight years before Rulah, Jo-Jo Jungle King, Zago, Tegra, and Fox's other jungle denizens.) Marga and also Hillman's awful Blanda the Jungle Queen were the first out of the gates in the race for the comic jungle. The comic's author and artist, James T Royal is not known, though it may have been Emil Gershwin using a pseudonym. Louis Cazeneuve is known to have inked other people's pencils on the strip.

Since Marga appeared in a comic dedicated to "Science" her origin had to be scientific. Marga possesses real panther abilities, such as speed and strength, along with wicked claws, because mad physio-biologist Von Dorf wanted to create a race of panther-people. Once Marga is transformed, she tries to kill the doctor so that no one else should be subjected to the treatment. She leaves, thinking him dead. Von Dorf revives, then proceeds to blow himself up out of some desire to keep his secret process from others. In the end, Marga alone will possess the panther-like abilities. As a Pre-Code comic, Marga's first adventures are violent and the tone is harsh and unfriendly.

Again, since Marga appeared in a science fiction comic, her next adventure is in a weird, futuristic city where brave flyers like Ted Grant face off against the evil Uchunko and his spaceship marauders. Marga takes a back seat as Tom rescues her from a pit filled with snakes. The story ends and the next time we see Marga, she is living in the jungle like any self-respecting jungle lady. No more sky pirates or spaceships. From now on, Marga will be a terrestrial (if highly unusual) earth dweller.

The next story was obviously inspired by the film The Wizard of Oz, because an evil scientist named Professor Meier is capturing animals and turning them into winged monkeys that he can control with his mind. The winged attackers capture Marga, and the Professor plans to make her into the general of the army of flying beasts. The serum he gives her does not turn her into a drone, but increases her already super powers. With the help of a rogue flying monkey that she calls Homer, she goes to the army of the nearby city and destroys Meier. An antidote is given to the animals and she returns them to their natural state. Homer turns out to be a police dog; now Marga's bosom companion (though we never see him again!)

After defeating the Professor, Marga gets a chance to join the circus. She becomes the star of the show with her tiger-wrestling and -throttling act. The evil Dr Borgia wants Marga, but she spurns his advances. When rival circus owner Randler wants to buy Marga out, he joins forces with Borgia to implant lion essence in the tiger, so that it will kill Marga. Marga defeats the savage beast only to become one herself, killing Borgia and Randler. She goes to trial for her crimes but the judge won't sentence her. She is free to return to the circus but chooses instead to return to the jungle. This installment is particularly noteworthy for its cartoony and inconsistent artwork.

The following story is better drawn in places (with small cribs from the Sunday funnies Tarzan) but almost lacks any real logic. The local Africans are trying to kill a rogue elephant, but Marga intervenes. With the elephant's help she rescues the village warriors. The person who was aggravating the pachyderm (not really sure who that is?) is killed, so all is well again.

The artwork up to this point has been inconsistent, with the style and conventions for speech bubbles and lettering changing each time. Now that the strip was being drawn by a single team, a standard opening was created for Marga: "Inoculated with the traits of a black panther, MARGA, an attractive white girl, joins aviator TED GRANT on an expedition into the jungle fastness." Ted Grant, now an African adventurer rather than a spaceship captain.

Shortly after this, Marga moved from Science Comics to Weird Comics where she did her thing side-by-side with The Sorceress of Zoom, Dr Mortal, and The Eagle, once again a jungle gal in a superhero magazine. But this time Marga settled into her groove with evil hunters, an occasional caveman or dinosaur, and plenty of obvious evil baddies. She rescues Ted, Ted rescues her, and nothing much changes in the jungle for a dozen more similar tales. Marga's blue-black dress is now red and her less vicious attributes (no longer a man-killer) and plots are as time-worn as bad Hollywood B-movies. And so Marga went out, not with a savage jungle yell, but with a wave and an unfulfilled promise for more adventures.

GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Godless (2017)

Pax and I are joined by special guest Shawn Robare (Branded in the '80s, Cult Film Club) to talk about the Netflix mini-series Godless starring Michelle Dockery, Jeff Daniels, and Jack O'Connell.

And in "Whatchoo Been Westernin'?" we discuss the '80s cartoon Bravestarr and the movie Hostiles starring Christian Bale and Wes Studi.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Birthday, Hellbent for Letterbox!

Pax and I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of Hellbent for Letterbox with a quick look over our shoulders at the last two years, then forward for a few hints of things to come. We also caught up with brief discussions of Hickok (2017) and Billy the Kid episodes of Tales from Wells Fargo and Death Valley Days.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Bite the Bullet (1975)

In the most recent Hellbent, Pax and I talk about what we assumed was Cannonball Run in the West. Will Bite the Bullet be another case of foiled expectations like Bandolero! and 100 Rifles?

I also give a quick review of the 2017 remake of The Beguiled by director Sofia Coppola; starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Operation Kid Brother (1967), Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979), and Hudson Hawk (1993)

Mystery Movie Night has a brand-new, permanent co-host! Evan Hanson has been a guest on a lot of podcasts, including Nerd Lunch, Hellbent for Letterbox, and Starmageddon (Rest in Peace) and he was also a guest on Mystery Movie Night Episode 20. Since my brother Mark isn't able to join us most of the time, we've been thinking about re-adding a fifth member and we're thrilled that Evan was interested.

For his inaugural episode, we talked about James Bond, Joey Ramone, and Almond Joy. Lots of strong opinions on this one. I think it's especially funny.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Dragonfly Ripplet | The Films of Ed Wood

It's a podcast crossover! After discussing Tim Burton's Ed Wood on a recent episode of Mystery Movie Night, David and I decided to watch the three movies talked about in that film: Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Were they as fun as Burton made them look? Or as bad as their reputation? David tells all in this mini-episode of Dragonfly Ripple.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Thundarr Road | Attack of the Amazon Women

Thundarr Road is back as we follow Thundarr to South Dakota for some time at... the ocean? "Attack of the Amazon Women" has undersea warriors, a warhead, and a worrisome spider. We discuss it all.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Sunset (1988)

On the latest Hellbent, Pax and I take a detour from traditional Westerns and talk about Blake Edwards' murder mystery where Western movie star Tom Mix (Bruce Willis) and Western legend Wyatt Earp (James Garner) try to catch a killer in 1920s Hollywood. It also has Malcolm McDowell and Mariel Hemingway.

And as long as we're covering not-quite-Westerns, I also talk a little about Brett Haley's The Hero, starring Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, and Katharine Ross.


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