Time to hang out that American Flagg

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American Flagg! issue #6 March, 1984

The upstart comic book publisher First Comics formed in 1983. They were an independent comic book publisher that did not answer to the Comics Code Authority, so their stories could have more mature themes that included political intrigue, graphic violence, tougher language, and, (what else?) sex. Howard Chaykin was a creator who excellently fit that bill.

As an artist, he had cut his teeth on the usual superhero fare at DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and he was good at it. But I prefer his more stylish work with nonsuper DC characters like Blackhawk and The Shadow and his independent work on his very adult series Black Kiss, which he also wrote. His work has a strong, stylish, film noir feel. I lovehow he draws clothes.

In 1983, First Comics debuted the series American Flagg! which was written and illustrated by Chaykin. The series played right into Howard’s strengths. It was a series set in the dystopian future of 2031 (not so distant now, is it?), in which the US government had relocated to Mars and on Earth corruption and population control, both in size and in thought, were in full swing. A corrupt organization known as The Plex is in charge in the States and says it wants to return America to its former glory by 2076. I guess you could say they want to make America great again.

Except they really don’t want that. The Plex is secretly selling the country off to the new superpowers of the Brazilian Union of the Americas and the Pan African League. Former television star Reuben Flagg discovers the plot and decides to stop it. And the series goes from there.

Since this is my monthly post of great comic book covers, let’s look at the cover.

There’s the cool Dutch Angle, which lends movement to the scene. We are in the middle of a pitched air battle at night, which is set up nicely by the lighting of the scene coming from the cockpit dashboard. (Is it called a dashboard in a cockpit?) The use of flat black is strong, although I’m not crazy about the halftone shading. It kind of works, but there’s something about that I don’t like. It’s a minor quibble I have with the artistic choice made by Chaykin for the look of the series.

Chaykin handles the forced perspective of the scene really well. It’s not an easy thing to do to draw part of a character so close to the “camera” with the rest far away. It works really well in this scene. There is also no dialog or the usual comic book sensational text on this cover. It’s just the action of the scene that sells the book.

Nicely done.

Oh! And the woman in the scene isn’t shown having her pants off, something many American Flagg! covers featured. I don’t know if that adds or detracts to the greatness. I’ll let you make the call.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Our Own Little Nostalgia Zone

Guest blogger Michael Noble returns with his take on nostalgia during this pandemic.

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Photo credit: Mountain View Studio

You may not realize it but right now, right this very moment, you’re living an interesting, nostalgic life.

Let me explain…

The current coronavirus pandemic (and, yes folks, it’s still an on-going pandemic) has changed things. It’s changed the world.

It’s changed the way we live, the way we interact with each other, the way we do business. It’s influenced our social habits (sometimes for the good, in others not so much), it’s altered the way we greet people, it’s forced us to consider our personal actions and choices.

In many ways, the coronavirus pandemic has opened up a floodgate of considerations we probably haven’t thought of in quite some time… if at all.

But here’s the thing: Life is different. And much of it radically so. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

In so doing, many of the commonplace things we’ve taken for granted just a few months ago have gone by the wayside. At least in the interim. Some? We might never get back.

Let’s take that rite of passage that is high school graduation, for example. There are a lot of people out there bemoaning the fact graduation ceremonies have been curtailed. No more packed stadiums and football fields and auditoriums filled with giddy family members and friends cheering the recipients when they take the stage and are handed their diplomas.

But… that’s the nostalgic part of it. Those kids (especially), the parents of those kids, the friends and family and acquaintances of those kids… all of them are going to look back on this moment in time with a certain sense of nostalgia. The manner in which it’s looked upon will determine the attitude one takes to it.

I’m certain many are pained or angry or otherwise depressed about the fact the annual ceremonies have been kicked to the curb because of the pandemic.

That’s the thing, though. Look at it this way:

No other class of students has EVER had a graduation so radically squashed as those of the class of 2020. [The class of 2021 fidgets nervously.] You can whine about it all you want but the cool thing – for me at any rate – is the fact no one has experienced anything quite this profound.

Think about it: Isn’t this cause for a really different form of nostalgia down the line? In a way, it’s not only unique but will yield a bevy of memories going forward.

And it’s not just graduations. The Boston Marathon nixed. State fairs put on hold. Concerts quashed. Events and social gatherings and awards ceremonies and more that come about every year like clockwork, stymied until further notice.

Yes… it’s inconvenient. Yes, it takes away the very nature of our expectations. Yes, it’s not fair.

But it’s going to produce a wave of nostalgia filled with moments of incredulity the likes of which we haven’t seen previously.

This is our own little Nostalgia Zone we’re living right now…

Thanks, Michael! You can read more by Michael Noble at Hotchka.com.

And, please, wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance, stay home. Stay safe!

Images used under Fair Use.

A Quick Great Cover By John Buscema

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Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four #112 (July, 1971). The Hulk versus The Thing. Drawn by the great John Buscema and inked by Frank Giacoia.

‘Nuff said!

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Well, OK, I suppose I should say some more.

John Buscema is hard to beat. He helped advance the look of comic book art by combining the dynamic excitement of Jack Kirby with a stronger grasp of anatomy. His storytelling skills were top notch. And there was also a gracefulness to his characters, as his nuanced work on Silver Surfer and in his introduction of the Vision in The Avengers #57 (October, 1968).

But he was also an artist of action and could create excellent tension. You can see that in this month’s great cover. Buscema has done a number of covers that are variations of what we see here. I’ve written about a couple of them already (here and here) and I can think of at least one more that will be covered in the future.

I’m sure this was a quick cover for him to draw, but that doesn’t take away from its greatness.

An Update on Nostalgia Zone

Nostalgia Zone is still here. We are not open for in store shopping, but we are still taking orders online and are trying to get them turned around as quickly as possible. New inventory is being entered into our online catalog (www.nostalgiazone.com) We appreciate our online customers’ patience as we try to fulfill orders in a timely fashion.

We also appreciate and our hearts are warmed by all those who have reached out to us to make sure we are OK. We are.

We are trying to work out how to reopen the store to our customers in a way that will be safe during the pandemic. Hopefully, there will be news on that front soon.

Thanks to all our customers for your continued support. We love you guys! You’re the best!

Stay safe!

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Great Cover: Batman! Watch Your Back!

198240At the tail end of my days of collecting new comic books in the early 2000’s, I became rather excited by a new artist named Scott McDaniel. After the homogenization of comic art in the 1990’s, it was refreshing to see such clean, well-drawn, and graphically exciting art without a hint of the McFarlane or Liefeld-ization that had dominated the decade.

Oh, boy! I absolutely love McDaniel’s deceptively simple approach to his line work. It is determined. He knows exactly which lines to leave in and which to leave out. So much of the art of the ’90’s was lines, lines, and more lines. “Hey, there’s a space with no lines! Better fill it up, quick!”

It was artist Ron Frenz who, when looking at my comic book page samples at a ChicagoCon some years ago, saw I had gone a little overboard on the lines and said, “Leave room for color.”

Scott McDaniel leaves room for color. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of black on this cover, but look at Batman. His thigh has six, maybe seven, lines. No more are needed. We get the shape. We know what it is and we can see the power of those finely honed muscles.

I also love me some good balance of thick and thin linework. We have plenty of that here. And I love intelligent use of flat black. We get a lot of it here, also. And it works so well. I swear I can see the ripples in the water where it is just flat black. It shows McDaniel’s command of negative space.

The composition is terrific. The tension created is palpable as whatever that creature is prepares to put the bite on the Batman. Also terrific, and what makes this cover especially great, is the use of light source. The Bat-flashlight is the single source of light for the piece and McDaniel handles it deftly.

Scott McDaniel has many great covers to choose from, but because of all the elements I mentioned, I went with this – Batman #577 May, 2000 – for this month’s great cover.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

Great Album Retro Review: Pleasure Victim By Berlin

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Is it great? At seven tracks and 29 minutes in length is it even an album?

Personally, I’ll say yes to both questions. The album may not be long and it may not have received the best reviews when it was released, it still seems great to me. Perhaps it is the musical equivalent to comfort food. For me, at least. There’s something about this slice of early ’80s synth pop that still works whenever I give it a listen.

Listening to this album brings me back to my days working at Wendy’s and that one night when I was in a particularly bad mood. The customers were getting under my skin. I didn’t snap at them, but I was rather unpleasant to my coworkers. I was even written up for my behavior, and rightfully so. I realized I was in the wrong. I had no explanation, because I didn’t know what caused my sour mood, and I did apologize to the crew.

Strange moment to be brought back to, eh? Well, here’s why. There was a young woman working with me that night and she tried to turn my mood around. She asked me out! “What?! Why?” was my stunned reply.

She was already involved with another coworker. Why would she be asking me out? She later explained she was trying to shake me up a little and break my bad mood. She did. I went from being steamed to being confused.

Still wondering why this album brings to that moment?

Pleasure Victim was her favorite album at the time. She always enjoyed it when I played on the boombox as we closed the store. She even got her metalhead boyfriend to like the album. That’s why that moment comes to me. And I find it comforting for some odd reason.

Whether it’s just comfort food or really a great album, I always enjoy it whenever I give it a listen.

The Tracks:

Tell Me Why – This is a great opening track that sets the tone of the album. A breakup song that is filled with swirling synths that combine nicely with guitar as the track plays out and it’s really danceable.

Pleasure Victim – This track gets a little darker in its mood. It brings in the sexual theme that permeates the record. The synthesizers really blend well on this track.

Sex (I’m A…) – OK, if you didn’t catch on to the sexuality of the previous song, this one is far more blunt. This was a minor hit on pop radio and it did prompt me to pick up the album. In case you don’t catch the message, in the relationship described in the song the woman is an object of fantasy. She is many characters while the man is just a man. The outro gets a bit naughty, which appealed to my much younger self.

Masquerade – More nice combining of guitar and synthesizer. It’s pretty catchy.

The Metro – This is my favorite track on the album. It tells the story of a woman riding the subway contemplating a relationship that was failing. It’s atmospheric and during the instrumental I especially enjoy the subtle air raid siren-like sound buried within the mix. This is also the best vocal performance by Terri Nunn on the album.

World Of Smiles – More synth pop with moments of nice harmonies by Nunn.

Torture – A very dark track to close the album. It’s very sparse in its production. It’s the shortest song on the album and that’s probably a good thing.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

It’s a Golden/Adams Great Cover

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Neal Adams is involved in this great cover as the inker, but it’s penciller Michael Golden’s unique style that takes center stage on The Micronauts #7 (July, 1979). Golden was the exact right artist for the Micronauts, a toy line turned into a comic book series. As I recall, this series hit the newsstands at about the same time as Rom: Spaceknight, another comic book based on a new toy.

Toys turned into comic books? An interesting cross promotional idea. Sure, there had been toys made of comic book characters since almost as long as there were comic books. But, as I understand it, Rom’s and the Micronauts’ toys and comic books were pretty much simultaneous in their releases.

The general storyline of the Micronauts closely parallels the Star Wars story of rebels striking against a, in this case, micro-galactic empire with Baron Karza as the evil emperor. In fact, his resemblance to Darth Vader would seem to be more than a mere coincidence. Incidentally, I think the corner icon image of Karza is also pretty damn great.

The cover features our heroes in the macroverse (where we live) encountering one of Marvel’s most interesting force of nature characters the Man-Thing. But they have the added threat of a venomous swamp snake. Quite a quandary.

What I think makes this a great cover is the Man-Thing. His look is menacing. His body looks as though in just seeped up from the swamp floor, which isn’t far off. And his face is terrifically done. Those red eyes eerily emerge from the black abyss that is the chest of the silent swamp creature. It’s great!

1197051I also always admired Michael Golden’s signature G to sign his covers. And on this one he’s incorporated an A for our buddy the science-impaired (long story, just ask him about gravity sometime), but great illustrator Neal Adams.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

An Unsatisfied Top Ten List

Writer’s note: Pulled from my personal blog at Dimland.com comes this tribute to a band that could get you to cry by the power of their songs. I have revised it a bit.

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Photo credit: Greg Helgeson

It was eleven years ago, while listening to the Stuck in the 80s podcast (which is still going strong), I was inspired to rise to a challenge that wasn’t really offered. At that time, the show was hosted by Steve Spears and Sean Daly, today Daly is gone having been replaced by Brad Williams. Spears is still the anchor of the program.

On one show Sean treated listeners to a top ten list of the saddest and most emotionally charged songs of the 1980s, according to him anyway. At least, that’s what I remember the list as being.

I won’t go into my assessment of Sean’s list. To be honest, I can’t remember it, but I do remember that almost half of the list consisted of songs by or featuring Phil Collins. It sometimes seemed the hosts thought that Phil Collins was the only musical artist of that decade. To be fair, Collins was all over the radio in the ’80s. Sean’s list inspired me to do a list of my own. My list will feature incredible emotionally charged songs by just one artist – The Replacements.

And you thought I was going to say The Smiths.

The Replacements were led by one of the 1980s’ (and all time, for that matter) finest songwriters, Paul Westerberg. Paul’s lyrics could be funny, they were often irreverent, and sometimes gut-wrenching. He certainly wore his heart on his sleeve. A fact he acknowledges on his first official solo album 14 Songs on the track First Glimmer.

Maybe these songs aren’t all sad, per se, but they are powerful, poignant works of musical art.

And none of them feature Phil Collins.

(The song titles link to the songs on YouTube.)

10) Johnny’s Gonna Die

From their debut album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash (1981). This is a song about knowing your hero is a flawed human being destined for disaster. In this case, it’s about one of Westerberg’s music heroes, Johnny Thunders. Paul called it, Johnny died of a drug overdose in 1991.

“Johnny wants something what he ain’t got”

9) Answering Machine

From their last independent label album Let It Be (1984). This is a song of the frustrations of attempting to achieve true connections to another person.

“How do I say ‘I’m lonely’ to/ An answering machine?”

8) Sixteen Blue

Also from Let It Be. I think every high school age boy should thank Paul for understanding and getting it right. This song can be considered the boys’ version of Janis Ian’s At Seventeen.

“I don’t understand/ Tell my friends I’m doin’ fine”

7) The Ledge

From Pleased To Meet Me (1987). I love the sound of the guitars on this song. A song about a young man, standing on the ledge of a tall building, finally getting the attention he’s craved all his life, but only when he’s decided to kill himself. And, at the end of the song… he jumps.

“I’m the boy they can’t ignore/ For the first time in my life, I’m sure”

6) Skyway

Also from Pleased To Meet Me. A song about a love that seems as though it will never be fulfilled, fate keeps him away from the object of his desire.

“There wasn’t a damn thing I could do or say/ Up in the skyway”

5) Sadly Beautiful

From their last album All Shook Down (1990). This could be considered Westerberg’s unofficial first solo album, had the label not insisted on releasing it as a Replacements’ album.

For me, the song voices the deeply felt regret that life goes by so fast and the joy of having lived at all. In every way, this song lives up to its title.

“Had no chance at all to let you know/ You left me sadly, beautiful”

4) Within Your Reach

From Hootenanny (1983). The line I site says it better than anything I could write here.

“Live without your touch/ If I die within your reach”

3) Achin’ To Be

From Don’t Tell A Soul (1989). Here we have the frustration of wanting to be loved and truly understood, and trying so hard, but still failing.

“If no one’s on your canvas/ Well, I’m achin’ to be”

2) Here Comes A Regular

From their first major label album Tim (1985). Anyone who has spent an appreciable amount of time drowning their sorrows at the local watering hole will feel a chord struck with this song.

“All I know is I’m sick of everything that my money can buy/ A fool will waste his life, God rest his guts”

1) Unsatisfied

Another from Let It Be. This is an anthem for anyone who has ever been mad as hell, and I guess that would be everyone.

“Look me in the eye/ Then tell me/ That I’m satisfied/ Are you satisfied?”

See? No Phil Collins required.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

You Know What’s A Really Good Movie With A Monster Brought To Life By A Mad Scientist? And Comic Book? It’s Not The One You Think It Is.

Guest blogger Michael Noble returns with a retro movie review (and comic book review). And this might just be the longest headline I’ve written yet.

So, here’s the kicker:

For my next trick… er… I mean Nostalgia Zone blog post… I originally had something entirely different in mind. (Rather presumptive of me to expect I was going to get the opportunity to jot additional blather for The Official Blog of NostalgiaZone.com, don’tcha think?)

But “The Powers That Be” at Nostalgia Zone steered me in a different direction down “Retro Film Lane.”

So, under threat of pain by some unknown origin, I thought I’d squawk a bit about one of my favorite obsessions: Frankenstein.

And here’s the cool thing: Not only are you getting tidbits about a Frankenstein film courtesy of this blog post, but a value added bonus, too – info on a little known Frankenstein comic. It’s a win-win! Lucky you!

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The Film

The film in question isn’t what you think. It’s the very first celluloid adaptation of Mary Shelley’s 1818 publication, the Thomas Edison produced Frankenstein, a silent effort committed to film in 1910. Some 110 years ago!!!

And when I say “adaptation” of Shelley’s classic, I use the term loosely. Edison’s Frankenstein is vastly different from anything we normally take for granted to be a Frankenstein film. It’s an extremely liberal telling of Shelley’s tale, more phantasmagoric and thought-provoking, with elements heavily steeped around a psychological nature rather than horror the tropes we’re used to. There’s no grave robbing, no gathering up body parts to cobble together into the creature. Frankenstein’s “laboratory” is rather simplistic compared to other films. Most of all, the creation of the creature is more an arcane recipe for soup rather than the digging into medical books on human anatomy. And it’s a silent film, too, so its viewing commands attention, forcing you to focus on what unfolds on screen in order to understand the story.

Just as interesting is the film’s length, a mere couple eye blinks shy of 14 minutes. Accompanied by title cards, the film packs a lot into its sepia-toned quarter hour brevity.

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Not the best image, but the film is 110 years old.

And the history of the film is pretty captivating. Presumed lost, a print was acquired by a collector in the 1950s but not disclosed publicly until some 29 years after the fact. Later, a preservation copy was made in the 1970s with a restoration released back in 2010 along with a film novel that same year, Edison’s Frankenstein by authoritarian Frederick C. Wiebel, Jr.

Best of all, you can easily view this piece of history all by your lonesome via YouTube – the restoration was made available to the general public to stream and download. For lovers of old films, Frankenstein and film history in general, it’s strongly recommended viewing.

The Comic

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But that’s not all. Edison’s Frankenstein: A Graphic Adaptation Of The Lost American Horror Classic is a 40-page graphic novel courtesy of writer Chris Yambar and artist Robb Bihun.

The subtitle of the book is a bit misleading, in my opinion, as the film doesn’t scream “horror classic” as I’ve detailed above. It’s a stretch to call it a horror film. Still, this companion piece is a nice addition, true to the 1910 source. And Chris Yambar went further in adding story elements that appear to be missing in the film – Frankenstein’s god complex and his desire to create the creature in his own image to name a few.

Extras within the comic include history text of the film plus biographies of Edison, director J. Searle Dawley and the cast, Augustus Phillips (Frankenstein), Charles Ogle (the creature) and Mary Fuller (Frankenstein’s fiancée). Also, there’s a spiffy essay from historian Wiebel, Jr. (mentioned above) who was instrumental in its history, preservation and restoration.

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Years ago, 10 to be exact, I was at a convention (I don’t remember which one or where … but, if I was to hazard a guess it would be San Diego Comic-Con) where I bumped into Frank Yambar for the first time. He was offering up his new book and talking about with enthusiasm. We struck up a lengthy conversation and I ended up purchasing several copies from him. Nice guy… knowledgeable guy.

And, again, a highly recommended the publication, purchasable, and orderable wherever you get your literary materials.

Until fairly recently, Edison’s Frankenstein hasn’t been readily available for public consumption. Now? Not only is the original film available (and gratis!) but a nifty companion piece chalk-full of delectable delights is out there just for you.

Thanks, Michael! You can read more by Michael Noble at Hotchka.com.

Images used under Fair Use.

Classics Illustrated has another great cover

519379Windmills beware! Here comes the Classics Illustrated adaptation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote. It’s the second version of the cover of issue number 11. This version is from 1968. At least, I think it’s from that year. Classics Illustrated had a confusing numbering and dating system, so I’m not sure. But the Grand Comics Database says it’s 1968. I’ll go with that.

The cover is a painted illustration by Taylor Oughton. Earlier versions of the Classics Illustrated covers were done in a more traditional comic art style with black ink drawings filled with brilliant colors. However, I tend to prefer the painted covers.

The first version of this cover was also a painted illustration and it’s not bad. It’s an action scene with our deluded hero charging into battle against a cartoonishly smiling windmill. It was done by illustrator Mort Kunstler. It’s good, too, but it’s the Oughton version I really like.519378

I like the portrait of a great man look. It’s a portrait that might hang beside other great people in some prestigious museum of Eurpeon history. “… and he is probably best known for having six wives. Not all at once, of course. (Tour guests chuckle.) Next we have the brave, if deranged or severely near-sighted, Don Quoxite…”

The orange blaze sky and clouds are good. The windmills have a subtle sense of menace to them. One has the hint of a face. The shiny metal of the armor is well done, but I think a little more reflection of the blazing sky would make it even better.

What strikes me as great about this cover is, of course, Don Quixote’s face. Realistically painted, he doesn’t appear to be unhinged. In fact, he looks weary. A little sad. It seems as though he’s earned every line, crack, and wrinkle on his craggy visage. He’s a serious man on a serious quest. Even if he does have that whimsical mustache.

I also like how he feels stuffed into that armor. He is sealed in. Not being an expert on how armor is supposed to fit, I would think it should be a bit looser. Perhaps that tightness adds a certain tension to the image.

I think it’s great!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

The World At War

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You could say I’m a bit of a worrier. And you could say I’ve been a bit of a worrier since I was a child. And you would be right. It’s something I do. I’m good at it.

I have gotten much better at not allowing my worrying to keep me from sleeping. (Most of the time.) When I was a kid, though, I could get to worrying about something and that could making falling asleep difficult. I mostly worried about going back to school after summer vacation, winter or spring break, long weekends. I don’t remember why I would be worried, I just was.

Those occasions of sleeping difficulties would mainly happen on Sunday nights. And if I was feeling as though sleep wouldn’t come, I dreaded a certain sound. And that sound was the closing music of the landmark British World War II television documentary series The World At War (1973-1974).

It was sometime in the mid-1970s that The World At War begin airing on American television and my mother would watch it each Sunday night. It would come on at 11:00 and end at midnight. If I was still awake as the show ended, it would be a difficult night. And I won’t even mention how troubling it would get if I heard the closing theme of The Honeymooners, the show that would follow.

All that is in the past.

Today, I own the DVD set. It contains the entire 26 episodes of the series and a boatload of extras. There are 11 discs in all.

The World At War wasn’t the first TV documentary of the war. There were others before it. On American television, there was NBC’s Victory At Sea (1952-1953). That series also had 26 episodes, however these were half hour shows. And Victory was made closer to the actual events and that may be why it feels much more rah-rah than The World At War.

Victory has no interviews. It consists of archival footage and narration, and a very heroic, flag-waving musical score by Richard Rodgers. The music gets tiring and the series has the feel of pro-America propaganda. It also seems to glamorize war. Not overly so, but the rah-rah quality, the hooray for the Allies (which, yes, hooray for the Allies) attitude makes the series feel like a naval recruitment pitch. No wonder the US Navy was so willing to give full cooperation.

The World At War, other the other hand, is careful to make war look like what it is – ugly. War is horrifying. It’s destruction and devastation. It’s insane. War is hell (you can quote me on that). And The World At War makes that abundantly clear as it chronicles the power-hungry fascist dictators wreaking havoc in Europe, Northern Africa, China, and the Pacific.

The musical score for The World At War was composed by Carl Davis. It’s brilliant. It gives the series the proper seriousness that subject requires, while not glamorizing war in any way.

Also, brilliant is the narration provided by acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier. His narration sets the tone for the series in the cold open of episode one – A New Germany:

“Down this road, on a summer day in 1944, the soldiers came. Nobody lives here now. They stayed only a few hours. When they had gone, the community, which have lived for a thousand years, was dead.”

That’s heavy. Olivier strikes the perfect note of solemnity. This series is not going to be rah-rah.

Like Victory At Sea, there is lots of archival footage. But, unlike Victory, the World At War has lots of interviews of the people involved. From citizens to journalists to soldiers, sailors, and airmen to generals, admirals, and world leaders. From both sides of the war.

The input of people who were there may be 30 years after the fact (and memory isn’t video tape), but it is tremendously powerful. Quite often we are shown archival footage of the younger versions of those being interviewed. We get to hear from military leaders to get their insights on the decision making and strategies. And there is only one historian, Stephen Ambrose, who is interviewed late in the series.

The most intriguing contributors, for me, are the Germans. We hear from ordinary citizens about how Germany was caught up in a kind of hysteria as Hitler provided victory after victory early in the war. And then how terrifying it was to live under that regime. The series interviews the highest ranking Nazi who was still alive and had served his time in prison: Albert Speer. They even interviewed Hitler’s secretary Traudl Junge, who worked for the Nazi dictator in those last days in the bunker and took down his final statement. Fascinating!

If you haven’t watched this series, seek it out. Some of the episodes are on YouTube. You’ll find the first one here.

Nowadays, when I watch the series, I usually watch it at about the same time of night my mother used to watch it. And, ironically, I’m so familiar with the series I tend to doze off until the closing theme plays. Then I wake up and go to bed.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.