PopCult

Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide Master List

The PopCulteer
December 9, 2022

This is it. The Master List of every single thing I recommended in The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide.

I made changes to The Gift Guide last year.   Last year I started combining every day’s recommendations into a single post. This forced me to be more concise in my descriptions, which was a good thing. Instead of writing 4,000 words every day about three gift ideas, I managed to cover five gift ideas a day in about 1,500 words. That continued this year, and the end result was more than 100 gift suggestions made in 20 days.

This made my life easier, as did skipping weekends. It’s no secret that a good number of PopCult readers visit the blog while they’re at work. Dropping gift suggestions over the weekend gave the items I picked then a bit of a short shrift. This way every gift suggestion gets full exposure, and I got a couple of days each week to recharge my batteries. Plus I didn’t have to suspend PopCult‘s regular weekend features for the month.

Because of the nature of how I did the gift guide this year, the links will take you to the post that includes the items listed, but you may have to scroll down a bit to find the exact item you’re looking for.

With that said, let’s dive into the Master List…

COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Complete Eightball 1-18
Zot!: The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991
To Be Announced!
Tails of the Super-Pets
Popeye Volume 1: Olive Oyl & Her Sweety
ICONIC – The Graphic Novel of The Beatles Revolver Cover Artwork
Captain Action: The Classic Collection
Fantastic Four: Full Circle
The Spider: Crime Unlimited
Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection
Groo Meets Tarzan
Superman Smashes The Klan
Marvel Comics Mini-Books Collectible Boxed Set: A History and Facsimiles of Marvel’s Smallest Comic Books
EC HORROR Collections
EC Science Fiction Collections
EC Crime and Thriller Collections
SIX By SIX: The Journey Internal

TOYS

THE 2022 HESS TOY TRUCK
McFarlane Toys Super Powers Action Figures 
Madmaniverse Mod Metal Lunchbox
Foodie Mini Brands
AUTO WORLD 18′ SCOOBY DOO MEETS BATMAN & ROBIN SLOT RACE SET
Stevo’s Horses
Cosmic Force: Purple Yogz Foot Soldier Figure Set
LEGO Everyone Is Awesome
MEGO 50th Anniversary World’s Greatest Super Heroes

VIDEO

The Ultimate Richard Pryor Collection: Uncensored
Batman: The Complete Animated Series
The Outer Limits Season One
Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection
Ultraman Nexus: Complete Series & Ultraman: Next

BOOKS

The Art of Tiki
Mad For Kicks: A Tokey Wedge Swinger
The Beatles Rubber Soul to Revolver (Beatles Album Series)
Joy and Fear  The Beatles, Chicago and the 1960s
Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture
KELLOGG’S: The Story of America’s Breakfast King
I Pity the Dolls
Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures
Calendar Girls, Sex Goddesses, and Pin-Up Queens of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s
TALES OF THE STARCHILDREN
Memories of Marx Toys: Glen Dale
It’s All in the Mind : Inside the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, Vol. 2
Shudder’s Creepshow: From Script to Scream
The Kinks: Every Album Every Song (On Track)
Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture
The Art of Glen Brogan (Second Edition)
Christmas Eve in the Mountain State
Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome
Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
Fearsome Weirdos Family 
Random

GAMES

Retro Series Sorry! 1958 Edition
Classic Battleship game Retro 1967 edition
Classic Yahtzee, An Exciting Game Of Skill And Chance
Pressman Retro Mastermind
RACK-O, Retro package Card Game
You Lying Sack
Target: Rats | The Board Game
GO GO GARGOYLE! THE GAME
Horrified: American Monsters Strategy Game
Space Explorers

MUSIC

Todd Rundgren Space Force
Paul Weller Will of The People
Robert Berry’s 3.2 Alive at ProgStock
TOYAH Anthem Super Deluxe Edition
Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years
Ringo Starr – EP3
The Beatles Revolver Special Edition Super Deluxe

RETAILERS

The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame
Kin Ship Goods
Oddbird Gift Emporium
Plaid Stallions Shop
American Science & Surplus

ART

Do Not Mock The Tiki God
The Pulp Tarot by Todd Alcott
The Art of Glen Brogan (Second Edition)
The Lights of Broadway 2022

SHIRTS

New Munktiki Crest T-shirt – GLOW INK
Aloha Republic Hawaiin Shirts
Mitch O’Connell Shirts
Retropolis Tees
GI Trekker’s Threadless Shop
Svengoolie Art Shirts
Sami Zayn: Honorary Uce
EC Comics T-Shirts and Socks

TIKI

Trader Vic’s Baining Fire Dancer
Tiki Farm KON TIKI REPRO MILAN GUANKO TIKI MUG
BarConic® Peacock – 18 oz. – Tiki Mug
Tiki Mugs Cocktail Set  Large Tumblers 
The Bone Collector
The Art of Tiki
Do Not Mock The Tiki God
Glass Floats Zombie Glass – Blue & Green Variant
New Munktiki Crest T-shirt – GLOW INK
Aloha Republic Hawaiin Shirts

RANDOM STUFF

Victrola 50’s Retro Bluetooth Record Player & Multimedia Center
Retro Frigidaire Refrigerators
RETRO STYLE TRANSISTOR RADIO
EC Comics Plush Throws

And that is the end of that. Thank you for reading The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide. I hope you found it helpful and/or entertaining. That is today’s PopCulteer.  Check PopCult for fresh content every day, including several reliable regular features…and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever floats your boat.

STUFF, IT’s What TO DO!

It’s that time of the week again, folks. Here’s a partial list of stuff you can go do this week in Charleston.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s Minor Swing. Saturday sees Megan Bee at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/coffeehouse/art gallery institution.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for the rest of this week, roughly in order.

Since we’re writing this feature ahead of tme, there’s bound to be more cool things pop up. Heck, I haven’t even been here all week.

Check out some stuff, roughly in order…

 

 

 

 

 

The Things We Do For Love

Today is the birthday of Mrs, PopCulteer, my beautiful and loving wife, Mel Larch.

In honor of this event, I am going to re-present one of my favorite posts, from over eleven years ago, back before we married, to show my devotion and the torment I am willing to go through for the woman I love.  This piece has been lightly edited to remove topical remarks and some pee jokes. Originally posted August 11, 2011…

“Hey 50”

I don’t hate Steely Dan.

I think they’re fine musicians who make well-crafted music with clever lyrics. And I think they put on a show at the Clay Center Tuesday night that should have pleased their loyal fans. I do not wish the members of the band any ill will.

I just hate their music.

I don’t really understand why I hate their music. It’s intelligent, witty and very well played, and it contains many individual elements that I normally find quite appealing.

Perhaps it’s some sort of Pavlovian response that makes me hate their music. Their formula harmonies kick in and I get a little gag reflex. I associate their music with the morning drive to high school. Except for my brief disastrous first marriage, my high school years were the most miserable period of my life. Music that transports me back to that time is basically transporting me back to hell.

Maybe it’s just a perfect storm of different musical elements that I normally like, arranged in a manner that bothers the hell out of me.

Or it could be that, back in the old days when I didn’t have a tape deck in my car…actually I didn’t have a car yet…and I was at the mercy of FM radio, I was held hostage listening to music that I didn’t like in order to hear the one track every hour or two by one of my favorite bands. So while I’m tuned in hoping to hear something by YES, The Who or The Beatles (pretty much every other favorite band of mine was years away from getting any airplay) I would be subjected to Steely Dan or The Eagles or Jimmy Buffett or Aerosmith or The Doobie Brothers or Boston or any of the other top AOR tracks of the day.

To this day, that music actually makes me physically ill. I get the same sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get every day going to high school. I know there are some people who love the music of “Yacht Rock.” I would like to see those yachts sunk. Those bands are like Nickleback to me.

Given that, you may be wondering why I found myself at the Clay Center, perched in a third-level box, enduring Steely Dan’s concert Tuesday night. It’s a fair question, and I will give you the answer in a moment.

But first, my observations:

The view from the box

The Clay Center was packed. I’d never seen the crowd from the cool vantage point we had way up in a box on the third level before, and since I was way more interested in people-watching than hearing Steely Dan, I was very happy with our seats. The main floor was a sea of bald heads with pony tails, and at any given moment during the show, forty or fifty iPhones were fully illuminated, probably illegally recording the concert.

Highlighted are some of the many iPhones that were lit up during the opening act, after the Clay Center asked people to shut them off. There were way more during Steely Dan’s set. And yes, I see the irony of complaining about that in a photo that I took when I wasn’t supposed to.

The median age of the crowd seemed to be mid-fifties. I would say the vast majority of concert-goers were old enough to have been fans of the band since the 1970s. The Clay Center was probably breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t offer discounts to AARP members.

Steely Dan’s music was way too loud. It was like the sound guy had the levels set at “Outdoor Festival” instead of “Intimate Performance Hall.” We were, unfortunately, right at speaker level, so the music was more than a little painful to listen to. At one point I did something that I never do. I leaned over and asked Melanie if she had brought any earplugs. Understand that I never wear earplugs when I’m recording RFC. I don’t function well with them, and get along fine without them. For me to ask for earplugs means that the music is dangerously, obnoxiously loud. Seriously, it was so loud that it kept waking me up.

At one point it was so painful that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom for about ten minutes. The Clay Center thoughtfully pumped the sound from the hall into the restrooms, so that die-hard fans with weak bladders (probably a good percentage of them) could still hear the music. That’s when I discovered that the sound mix was actually spectacular. You could hear every instrument and the vocals were right where they should be. Even though I still hated the music, the mix was fantastic. Without the flesh-ripping volume, it was a really great job. In fact, if you just wanted to go hear the band perform live, and didn’t care about actually watching them, the crapper was the best seat in the house!

And let’s be honest, who goes to a Steely Dan concert to SEE the band? The group has always been a fairly anonymous group of shlubs who could walk down the street without ever being recognized. There’s like three regulars at The Empty Glass who could pass for Walter Becker, and there’s a Donald Fagan look-alike lurking in every other Starbucks in the country. That’s why the band broke up during the height of MTV. Who would want to watch a video of those guys? They’re the radio stars that video tried to kill.

Which one is Mr. Dan?

The Sam Yahel Organ Trio…meh

Getting to the show itself, the opening act, The Sam Yahel Organ Trio, impressed many people. I wasn’t among them. He got off to a good start with a cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” but I was underwhelmed by his playing. He reminded me of the guy who used to play the demo organ at The Pied Piper in the Huntington Mall. He had a great rhythm section, though. He didn’t play songs that nearly induced vomiting in me, so that was another plus. My take was that he was grossly unremarkable, but was probably told not to be too great so that he wouldn’t show up the headliner.

As for the headliners, it’s been interesting taking in the reactions of my Facebook friends, and those of former Gazzblogger Bill Lynch, and the comments that his review inspired.

A lot of folks admit that it was too loud. Some blame the mix instead of the volume, but there seems to be a consensus that maybe they shouldn’t have turned the speakers up to eleven. It’s possible to create a sound footprint in the Clay Center that gives great audio to every seat in the house. By cranking it up, these guys really blew it for a lot of fans.

Some of my friends are raving about the horn section, which I found to be sloppy and uninspired. I saw Frank Zappa’s band in 1988, with a horn section that included Walt Fowler, Bruce Fowler, Paul Carman, Albert Wing and Kurt McGettrick. None of the horn players on stage with Steely Dan were fit to empty those guys’ spit valves. The discordant horns combined with the ridiculously high volume made for a very physically challenging show. At times the horn section was like a sonic chainsaw, cleaving through your skull.

The guitarist, Jon Herington, was amazing. You will get no argument from me, there. At times he’d rip out a solo that was so good that it made me forget how much I hated the song they were playing.

The drummer, Keith Carlock, cracked me up. It was like he was trying to recreate The Mad Drummer, Steve Moore’s, act from Scott Gregg’s famous YouTube clip “This Drummer Is At The Wrong Gig.” Aside from probably being the youngest person in the building, Carlock seemed at times to be trying to drown out the awful music that was being played on stage around him. I appreciated that.

And yes, I said “awful music.” It was awful to me. I knew going in that I was not going to enjoy hearing those songs. I had the kind of trepidation that you get about a trip to the dentist. And I was rewarded with much of the same kind of music.

So you want to know why I went, if I hated the band’s music so much.

My Melanie

I mentioned that I went with “Melanie.” Long-time readers of PopCult probably know that I’m talking about Melanie Larch, my significant other for more than two decades, and the person who restored my faith in humanity. Melanie loves Steely Dan. They are one of her favorite bands. My Melanie has had a bad year. Her mother passed away six months ago, and there have been a lot of adjustments for her to deal with since then.

She knows how much I despise the music of Steely Dan. One of the keys to having a long-lasting relationship is to not take it as an insult when your partner likes something that you don’t, and vice-verse. When The Clay Center announced that Steely Dan was coming, I told Mel that I would go with her. It’s been 18 years or so since I took her to see “Cats” at The Charleston Civic Center, and I hate that musical way more than I hate Steely Dan’s music, and I didn’t want her to have to go see Steely Dan alone.

I had an ulterior motive though. See, I got to watch my Melanie light up as she recognized the first few notes of every crappy song the band played. She was bopping in her seat, singing along, grinning from ear-to-ear the entire night. I got to see her that happy, and that was the best show of the night for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I would sit through the worst, most awful music in the world for a chance to see the woman I love be that happy.

And I did. And it was worth it.

I feel a little guilty about taking a seat away from someone who actually likes those horrible songs, but not much. I got to spend time with my girl, and afterward we got to hang out at IHOP with Kevin Pauley, of The No Pants Players. Kevin knows of my distaste for Steely Dan’s music and was amazed to see me at the concert. He lucked into a terrific seat and, as a fan, enjoyed every minute of that horrible, horrible music. I was very happy for him, too.

The standing ovation. After a few minutes, they started banging the floor with their walkers

I’m glad that the die-hard fans were pleased with the show. I was happy to see such an enthusiastic standing ovation for the band, since I was concerned that many of their fans would have trouble standing that long. I wish the volume hadn’t been so loud. I thought the stage banter was overly long, but the fans liked it. In the end, I’m glad I went to the concert. It was worth every penny to see Melanie that happy.

Thank God she doesn’t care too much for Mahler. That’s a whole different story.

A Friendly Reminder

We won’t have a new episode of Radio Free Charleston today on The AIR,  but we are in the midst of a marathon of 2022 episodes.  The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear our shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player found elsewhere on this page. Below you see the schedule for the rest of this week. The clunky spacing is an in-joke to make art directors squirm. Tune in and enjoy!

 

Monday Morning Art: Corner of Clybourn and Halsted

This week’s art is an acrylic painting inspired by a photo I took a few years ago on a trip to Chicago.

The photo was pretty cool, with bright flowers, a powerful blue sky and just enough city to make it look really interesting.  However, there was a wee bit too much city. There were light poles, traffic signals, overhead power lines.  Plus there were way too many cars, and more than a few people in the way, messing up my compostion.

So I started from scratch and painted this on sturdy artboard, over the course of almost a month, omitted the offending objects, and came up with what you see above.  I decided to make the sign for the store look almost like a monolith, and not like a huge sign for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

I used some of the lessons I’ve picked up studying Hopper, but also supercharged the colors so they didn’t really look natural. This is how I see things most of the time anyway.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a two-day marathon of Radio Free Charleston.  The idea is that this week, now that The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide is in the books (except for the master list, coming this Friday), I’m going to take it easy, and part of that sees me giving you the chance to sample the best of 2022 on The AIR, as we spend the next several days giving you marathons of the best all of our music specialty shows recorded this year. I’ll tell you all about them each day, here in the blog.

Sunday Evening Video: Return Of The Mystery Of The Batman

This week PopCult brings you the second two chapters of a previously unknown 1939 movie serial based on what was then a very new comic book character, Batman. Or do we?

Here’s what is says in the YouTube description for this amazing discovery:

Here it is… Chapter 1, completely uncut, with a special introduction by Michael Monroe, Dean of Film Studies at the Dini College of Arts. Monroe is the author of “WHAT’S IN YOUR SERIAL? THE BUSTER CRABBE STORY.”

Discovered in December, 2015, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN is a little-known serial which would have featured the first appearance of DC Comics’ Batman, in any medium, outside of comic books.

Young “Batman” author, Bob Kane, had gone to Hollywood, early in his career, in the hopes of pitching The Caped Crusader as the star of a film series. This was just as the character was being introduced in the pages of DETECTIVE COMICS magazine.

Originally intended for twelve chapters, MYSTERY OF THE BATMAN was produced by BJC Pictures, an obscure poverty row studio, which went bankrupt with only six episodes filmed and completed.

All of the studio’s assets were thought to have been destroyed, until a massive collection of 16mm prints, video transfers and original posters turned up in a barn outside of Beeville, Texas.

Thanks to the passionate effort of historians and fans, the existing chapters of MYSTERY are currently undergoing an extensive digital restoration.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Well it is. See this isn’t really a long-lost find, but is, in fact, a meticulously-produced fan-made hoax, which is a loving tribute to Batman and to the early days of movie serials.

They give it all away further down in the description:

Before anyone feels too clever, I’m sure by now it’s obvious this project was produced in 2016, and in NO WAY is intended to be anything other than a loving parody.

This short film was done in good fun, as a love letter to the history of Batman and his family. Please stay tuned till the very end for the proper credits.

Thank you!- Ryan Bijan, Director

This is a real blast.  The credits are loaded with in-joke references to folks who have worked on the Batman comics over the decades. The art direction and music are spot-on, and the only big give-away that this is not a real period piece is the acknowledgement of Bill Finger as Batman’s co-creator.

In truth, Finger was not give proper credit until more than forty years after his death in 1973.  It’s a nice touch for the filmmakers to risk the joke in order to give credit where it was long overdue.

Any fan of vintage movie serials will appreciate the nods to the form, and the direct tributes in some of the shots.  This was obviously a labor of love. Ryan Bijan and his crew deserve major kudos for this.

Many thanks to Jon Raider for turning me on to this cool project. Tonight and over the next two weeks, PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video will bring you all six chapters of Mystery Of The Batman, two per week, so you can enjoy it for yourself and also enjoy waiting a week between some of the episodes, just to give you the movie serial experience.

If you’re impatient and want to watch all the chapters now, you can go to the YouTube page for Big John Creations, and visit their Facebook page for all kinds of cool behind the scenes info and other cool stuff.

Chapter Three is at the head of this post, and Chapter Four is below.  You can find the first two chapters HERE.

The RFC Flashback: The First Christmas Show

Episode Eleven of Radio Free Charleston dates back to December 2006. It was our first Christmas Show and it features music from CLOWNHOLE and MELANIE LARCH, plus Pentagram Flowerbox and more animation from Rudy Panucci and Brian Young. Host segments were shot at the original location of The Purple Moon and this is the first episode where our host, Rudy Panucci, had facial hair.

This memorable show included Mel singing “Ave Maria” live on the fifth-floor fire escape at the old Livemix Studio. That clip recieved notice from around the world and remains our most-watched music video on YouTube.

The rest of the show is pretty impressive as well, with Pentagram Flowerbox, holiday cartoons by Rudy Panucci and Brian Young and a punk rendition of “Deck The Halls” by Clownhole. We also have an onscreen appearance by The Charleston Playhouse Quartet, performing the RFC theme song, buried in the end credits. It’s always fun to run a Christmas show in the dog days of summer, so watch this and feel somewhat cooler.

Actually, that happens every time somebody watches RFC.  Original production notes are HERE.

We’ll be bringing you special holiday episodes of RFC all month long, leading up to Christmas.

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide-Day Twenty: Really Cool Stuff!

This is the final day of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide, and I sorta saved the coolest for last. Today’s gift ideas are all for really cool stuff. That’s our theme.

Cosmic Force: Purple Yogz Foot Soldier Figure Set
From Cotswold Collectibles
$69.99

From our friends at Cotswold Collectibles comes a really cool 12″ alien action figure set. Perfect for the 1/6 scale science-fiction oriented collector on your shopping list. I’m just going to quote from their description here…

Purple YOGZ are an advanced technical Alien race that pretends to be neutral, but will side with whom ever suits their needs best at the time. They will retreat though when the odds do not favor them. An assault team consists of one YOGZ commander 10 assault troopers of varying abducted races; cyborgs, android, or robotic beings, all wearing a control collar. YOGZ have many social and political classes which are constantly, but covertly maneuvering for power.

They were to first to learn about and use the Space Gates created by the “Old Ones”. These black masses in space are gateways that allow interstellar space travel. These Space Gates are scattered throughout the Universe with one just past Pluto in our solar system. They can only be accessed if the Star Ship has a crystal key cube which the Old Ones have hidden on planets and moons in the trillions all around the Universe. Anything without a key cube is destroyed by the Space Gates on contact.

This figure set includes:

– Elite Brigade Body w/Black Gloved Action Hands
– Purple Yogz Fuzzy Head Sculpt
– Green Super Bodysuit
– Black Super Boots
– Ironblood Mask (Green)
– Action Rifle (Green)

Set made using components from Elite Brigade, Grungatoys, and Mattsquatch Customs.

This is just pretty damned cool, and everybody needs a purple alien around the house!

Everyone Is Awesome
by LEGO
Price$34.99

Yep, it’s a pride-oriented LEGO set, and you have to admit, it looks pretty amazing.

Available exclusively from LEGO, Everyone is Awesome celebrates the power of playing together with this colorful new set. It’s simple, colorful and just looks great.

Matthew Ashton is the Vice President of Design at the LEGO Group and Designer of the Everyone Is Awesome model. He explained what inspired this LEGO set:

The starting point for this was my feeling that we, as a society, could be doing more to show support for each other and appreciate our differences. Being LGBTQIA+ myself, I knew I needed to step up to the plate and make a real statement about love and inclusivity, and generally spread some LEGO love to everybody who needs it. Children are our role models and they welcome everyone, no matter their background. Something we should all be aspiring to.

I think by taking small steps and having products like “Everyone is Awesome” out there and people representing the LGBTQIA+ community, it allows everybody to see that things do get better over time and there is a place for everybody. That’s what’s been so important to me in getting this set out with a message that we can be really proud of.

in a way, this set is not just for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s for all of the allies – parents, siblings, friends, schoolmates, colleagues etc. – out there as well.

Design-wise, I love how bold yet simplistic the set is. It sends a powerful message, but it is also fun and quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously. We’ve made sure to include black and brown colors to represent the broad diversity of everyone within the LGBTQIA+ community. We’ve also added in the pale blue, white and pink to support and embrace the trans community as well. I purposely put the purple drag queen in as a clear nod to the fabulous side of the LGBTQIA+ community. I hope it’s a joy to build and a joy to look at, and hopefully it will bring a lot of joy to people’s lives.

You can order Everything is Awesome directly from LEGO.

The Lights of Broadway 2022
On sale online December 4!

I’ve been plugging The Lights of Broadway show cards for years in PopCult, but they have a new set on the way. In fact, it goes on sale Sunday, December 4. Let’s see what they have to say about their 2022 Edition:

The 2022 Edition features 147 core cards (99 full edition, 48 rare). The primary cards feature actors, writers, directors, choreographers, and shows as usual; AND we once again have a special nine-card puzzle feature but in the full-card roster. In the Rare roster, we add to our Golden Age, If It Only Even Runs A Minute, Off-Broadway, and Broadway Up Close Theater series. We continue to celebrate the diversity of Broadway past, present, and future; and we also hope you have fun collecting, learning, and celebrating with us!

Our nine-card feature this edition celebrates nine legendary Broadway stars and roles iconic to them, with a collage of more of their star turns made up on the backs of the cards.

And moving into our RARE cards, we’re happy to continue in our celebration of amazing designers and music department notables. Our Honors this edition include the dearly departed as well as the now and next. And another in our recent bounty of great movie musicals.

Once again, our SUPER RARE cards include two foils and six lenticular (tilt) cards. The foils are themed around The Phantom of the Opera that ends its record-setting 35 year run in April 2023. Our lenticulars feature:

Milky White: The James Ortiz-designed cow and Kennedy Kanagawa (puppeteer) of the 2022 revival of Into the Woods.

Patti LuPone: Six of La LuPone’s eight Tony-nominated roles, including her three wins.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Musicals: A Strange Loop became the tenth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This card features all ten, going back to Of Thee Sing (1932) through South Pacific (1949) and A Chorus Line (1975) to Hamilton (2015) and our latest winner (2020).

Six Words: Well, four words from Six. This is a tilt version of Squigs’ A BroadWAY WITH WORDS series.

Stephen Sondheim Celebration: In tribute to the maestro, here is Mr. Sondheim surrounded by collages of Squigs’ illustrations of his many works, original and revival.

Wonderstudies: Lightcatchers were polled about their favorite understudy/standby performances and we chose 26 to represent all of the amazing stage heroes, from Shirley MacLaine to Julie Benko.

And once again, there are 40 of Squigs’ pencil sketch cards sorted into the edition as well.

If you have someone on your shopping list who falls in the middle of that Venn Diagram of Theatre fans and Trading Card collectors, then head over to Lights of Broadway this Sunday.

The Journey Internal
Order it from Robert Berry’s website

The Journey Internal: a Graphic Novel is based on the songs of SiX By SiX, and is the result of a collaboration between the band and renowned Chicago-based artist J.C. Baez. SIX By SIX is a new supergroup consisting of former members of 3, GTR, Saxon and Saga, and I’ve been playing their music on Radio Free Charleston for a few weeks now. We shall momentarily turn things over to the press release…

Though not conceived as a concept album, the band and the artist have woven the songs into a compelling tale of one man’s adventures and struggles. THE JOURNEY INTERNAL is a poignant and captivating story of his quest to find beauty and peace. Drawn in dramatic graphic detail, it chronicles the journey of Reign searching for sunlight in a very dark world. Following him from the highest highs to the lowest lows. The pages turn from battles of fire to demons in dungeons, from the confines of Reign’s inner mind to the realities encountered on the streets. From his solitude in battle to finding inspiration from a dream not yet realized.

Ian Crichton comments: “This graphic novel is amazing. The way that J.C Baez has blended the lyrics and captured the emotion of each song into a visually stunning graphic interpretation is simply amazing.”

Nigel Glockler comments: “One word sums up this incredible visual feast: stunning!!!”

Robert Berry comments: “When J.C. approached us we were intrigued to see what he would come up with based on our songs. The results are masterful.”

J.C. Baez, a Chicago-based artist has collaborated with Jon Anderson of Yes, Steve Hackett of Genesis, and Walter Koenig, of Star Trek fame, and now Six By Six.

J.C. Baez comments: “I am fortunate to be working with Ian, Nigel, and Robert, bringing their amazing musical ideas into the visual realm. The process has been very much a collaboration and I’ve been made to feel like part of the Six By Six family. This story is dynamic and exciting and I’m thrilled to work on this graphic novel which is in the vein of Genesis’s ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and other classic albums.”

Recommended for fans of comics, concept albums and prog-rock. Order it HERE.

MEGO 50th Anniversary World’s Greatest Super Heroes
Available from many retailers, including Amazon and ZLC Collectibles.
Under $20 each.

Note: Though technically a pre-order, three of these figures have already shown up locally at Walmart.

Fifty years on from the debut of one of the most successful action figure lines in history, MEGO is back with The World’s Greatest Super Heroes and DC Comics!

Released in vintage-style boxes, TWGSH line is back in stores with almost exact relicas of the outfits, accessories and headsculpts that were featured in the line half a century ago, all mounted on MEGO’s new, sturdier and more articulated body.

These toys cross the line from being terrific nostalgic recreations while also being sturdy enough for kids to enjoy. They have re-created the quirky and charming eccentricities of the orginal toys, including the “oven mitt” gloves and the costume details that don’t exactly match the comics, and that is a big part of the nostalgic appeal of these guys.

Superman, Batman and Robin have already shown up in the Charleston area. Online retailers should start shipping Aquaman, Shazam, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and The Flash next week.

Those last two are a big deal for MEGO collectors because they were never made into MEGO figures back in the day. Nobody remembers why, but two of DC’s top characters were passed over for lesser-known heroes like Green Arrow and The Flash’s sidekick, Kid Flash. This time around MEGO even went so far as to give these two heroes catalog numbers that match what they would’ve had back in the 1970s.

Longtime reader of PopCult know I’m a huge MEGO fan, and these figures absolutely scratch that nostalgic itch, and they’ll also make a great gift for any fan of DC Comics.

Look for them in the “Collectors” section at Walmart’s Electronics Department, or online.

And with that, The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide is in the books. Next Friday I’ll post the Master List here, and then we’ll be about two weeks away from the big day!

MIRRORBALL Salutes Giorgio Moroder, Plus More Radio Notes For The AIR

The PopCulteer
December 2, 2022

We have reached the first Friday of December, and this afternoon we offer up a special new episode of MIRRORBALL on The AIR. The AIR is PopCult‘s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player found elsewhere on this page.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a collection songs produced and composed by Giorgio Moroder.

Moroder changed the landscape of Disco music with his sonic creations like Donna Summer’s hypnotic “I Feel Love.” Widely regarded as a founding father of disco and also an electronic music trailblazer, Moroder made his mark as an influential Italian producer, songwriter, performer and DJ.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Moroder has worked with some of the most famous names in music including Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Cher, Janet Jackson and David Bowie. He is heavily noted for being the key player in the Queen of Disco Donna Summer‘s rise to fame throughout the 1970s, collaborating with her on her biggest hits including “Love To Love You Baby,” “Hot Stuff” and “I Feel Love.” In 1997, Moroder and Summer won the Grammy Award for “Best Dance Recording” for the song “Carry On.”

Giorgio Moroder’s music charted success everywhere the disco craze touched down but he is also responsible for some of the most classic film scores to date including Scarface and Midnight Express, as well as timeless soundtrack numbers like Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” (Top Gun), Irene Cara’s “Flashdance,” Blondie’s “Call Me” (American Gigolo), as well as compositions on films such as The NeverEnding Story, Superman III, Rambo III and Beverly Hills Cop II. From these, Moroder has accumulated three Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, four Grammys and more than 100 gold and platinum records. Giorgio Moroder was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

We’ll hear the Disco classics created by Mororder and his Munich Machine cohorts, Pete Bellotte and Keith Forsey, and chances are we’ll continue this theme with the next episode of MIRRORBALL in a couple of weeks.

Check out the playlist…

MIRRORBALL 064

Giorgio Moroder “The Chase”
Donna Summer “Virgin Mary”
Trax “Watch Out For The Boogie Man”
Dino Solera “Classically Elise”
Giorgio Moroder “I Want To Funk With You Tonight”
Marsha Hunt “The Other Side of Midnight”
Giorgio Moroder “Utopia”
Speed Limit “Love Fever”
Giorgio Moroder “Let The Music Play”
Munich Machine “Party Light”

You can hear MIRRORBALL almost every Friday at 2 PM, with replays Saturday at 9 PM and Sunday at 11 PM exclusively on The AIR. Next week things will be a bit different because of our big December programming stunt!

The AIR’s Big December Programming Stunt

Starting Monday, December 5, at 7 AM, The AIR will kick into “Best of 2022” mode, as we present eight days of marathons featuring the best episodes of our music specialty shows from the first eleven months of this year. Check out this schedule:

From Monday at 7 AM until Wednesday at 1 PM it’s our flagship show, Radio Free Charleston.

Wednesday at 1 PM until Midnight we have Mel Larch’s Curtain Call.

Thursday, Midnight to Midnight, Herman Linte graces us with our prog-rock show, Prognosis.

Friday all day it’s me with The Swing Shift, making things Swing for you hipsters.

All Day Saturday MIRRORBALL changes the dance style as Mel Larch brings you 24 hours of classic Disco music.

Sunday Sydney’s Big Electric Cat brings New Wave Music to the forefront, courtesy of Sydney Fileen.

Monday, December 12, wraps up our Marathons with Nigel Pye’s Psychedelic Shack, from 7 AM to 9 PM, and then yours truly returns with ten hours of Beatles Blast.

And then Monday, December 13, me mother’s birthday, no less,  The AIR returns to normal for a week before we get all Christmas-y.

And with that, we wrap up this week’s PopCulteer. Speaking of wrapping things up, later today sees the final installment of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide, as we go out with five super-cool gift ideas. In this space next week we’ll bring you the master list of every gift idea we brought you. We’ll also have all our regular weekly features.

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide-Day Nineteen: EC Comics

It’s the next-to-last day of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide and today I’m going to recommend gift ideas based on one of the most holiday appropriate icons of pop culture.

Today our gifts are all based on EC Comics!

I didn’t say which holiday, now did I?

You may have a horror fanatic on your shopping list who would love to experience and celebrate the comics that arguably shaped everything from modern horror comics and movies to anthology TV shows and even horror-movie hosts. With their mix of shock, gore and humor, the EC horror comics set the tone for the “Monster kids” of the 1960s to take over movies and TV.

And there was much more to EC Comics than just the horror comics. They also offered up Science Fiction books and shocking thrillers, in addition to being the publisher of MAD Magazine.

The original comics are like a “who’s who” of comic book creators, with artists like Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Bernie Kreigstein, Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Graham Ingels, Al Williamson, Harvey Kurtzman and more. Writers included Al Feldstein, Ray Bradbury, Jack Oleck and others. While fun and humorous at times, it’s amazing that these comics were published at the tail end of comic’s Golden Age. They really are a sign of where comics could go in the future.

The HBO Series Tales From The Crypt is an adaption of an EC Comic book, and the Creepshow movies and television series are directly inspired by these classics.

Today’s picks look at a very affordable recent series of EC Comics Archives from Dark Horse, plus some cool licensed products for the die-hard fan.

EC HORROR Collections

EC Comics published a trio of classic horror anthologies, Tales From The Crypt, The Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear, and each book had a “host” who introduced stories. This was where we met The Cryptkeeper, The Vault Keeper and The Old Witch.

The cool thing was that each book included stories introduced by all three hosts. In their home book, the host would take the first and last story, and turn over the second and third stories to the other two. They would crack corny jokes about the stories and insult and make fun of the other hosts and their stories.

The stories are exceptionally well-crafted, with brilliant art, and the formula worked well enough that it carried over to the HBO adaptation, an animated cartoon series, and almost every horror or sci-fi anthology on TV from The Twilight Zone to Night Gallery, Tales From The Darkside, Creepshow and many, many others.

As part of their affordable paperback EC Archives collections, Dark Horse has published two volumes each of Tales From The Crypt, Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear. Each book costs less than twenty bucks, and the production is awesome.

The books are printed larger than they were originally. Now they’re the size of magazines, which is easy for aging eyes. Marie Severin’s original color guides were followed to digitally re-color the artwork, and each volume contains six full issues, reprinted complete with the original letters pages and covers. Some volumes have introductions by prominent fans.

These are basically paperback versions of the hardcover EC Archives, which retail for fifty bucks each or more.

You ought to be able to order these from any bookseller or comic book shop, but for the sake of convenience, Amazon has Tales From The Crypt HERE and HERE; Haunt Of Fear HERE and HERE; and Vault of Horror HERE and HERE.

EC Science Fiction Collections

Occasionally overlooked because the Horror comics got so much attention (not all of it welcome), the EC Science Fiction comics were no less revolutionary, with amazing art and stories.

These are absolute gems that belong in the library of any comic book or science fiction fan.

So far, Dark Horse has only released the first volume of Weird Science (The John Hughes movie and TV series had little resemblence to the comic, but at least they did pay for the rights to the name) as a low-priced paperback, but that will change as Incredible Science Fiction is due out just after Christmas, and the first volume of Weird Fantasy is scheduled for January.

For now, you can order volume one of Weird Science HERE.

EC Crime and Thriller Collections

Not content with just horror and science fiction, EC also gave us pulp-style crime and thrillers with Shock SuspenStories.

There have been two paperback volumes so far, the first of which has a foreward by Steven Spielberg. You can order it HERE.

This high-quality trade reprints the first six complete issues of the pulp-comic classic Shock SuspenStories! Featuing the titanic artistic talents of Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingles, and Wally Wood.

The second volume, which reprints issues #7-#12 can be ordered HERE.

These are suprisingly sophisticated stories, recommended for fans of Film Noir and Mickey Spillane.

EC Comics Plush Throws
From Retro-A-Go-Go
$45 each

These are a pre-order item, but they are supposed to ship next week, so you have plenty of time to get them for Christmas.

The folks at Retro-A-Go-Go have licensed classic EC comic book covers for a series of deluxe plush throws.

These are huge blankets, with a generous 50″ width by 77″ length. Made from ultra-soft, lightweight polyester microfiber. The front of the blanket is printed edge-to-edge with vibrant and fade-resistant colors. The back is lined with fuzzy, warm, white fleece. Machine washable.

You can warm up with horror or science fiction to keep you warm. There are four designs, but one is already sold out. The remaining styles offer up a classic cover from Weird Science, a classic cover from Tales From The Crypt, and a montage of classic science fction covers.

The artwork is beautiful, and these are perfect for folks who are into cool weird stuff to snuggle with.

EC Comics T-Shirts and Socks
from Fright-Rags

The Horror Clothiers at Fright-Rags have licensed EC Comic’s iconic Horror Hosts for a trio of shirts, and not stopping there, they have also produced a pair of socks featuring all three ghoulish storytellers.

You have your choice of The Cryptkeeper on a red shirt; The Old Witch on a green shirt; The Vault Keeper on a blue shirt, or all three hosts with classic panels from the comics on a pair of socks.

These are all high-quality garments, featuring art recreated by Kyle Crawford.

This is as close as you can get to giving socks and underwear to a horror fan without causing them to attack you with a meat cleaver!

Tomorrow we wrap up The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide with a collection of REALLY COOL STUFF!

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