Today in The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide we are going to offer up a selection of cool graphic tees for the person on your shopping list who likes to wear cool graphic tees. Except for one suggestion, these are links that will take you to cool stores with many different T-Shirt designs. It’ll give you more latitude in choosing your gift. Some of the designs you’ll see below are available on items other than shirts (but not the first two) and they all come in a variety of sizes, while some stores also offer some different shirt color options, as well.
I’m going to try to give you extra examples of what the shirts look like, but follow the links in the subject header to see for yourself. I only gots so much space to work with here.
Mitch O’Connell, AKA “The World’s Best Artist” has a line of T Shirts bearing his designs available in his Threadless store. There’s some really great stuff there and I’m sure you can find a great gift for the T-shirt-wearing person on your shopping list.
I am a huge fan of Mitch O’Connell. We palled around a bit at a couple of comic book conventions in the 1980s, when I was editing CODA, and we reconnected years later via MySpace and became online buddies. I was a fan of his comics work and illustration before that.
If you like Pin-Ups, Horror, Wolves, Sexy Pin-Ups, Devils, Monsters, Clowns, Really Sexy Pin-ups, Tiki, Rock-a-billy, Zombies, Retro and Really REALLY Sexy Pin-ups, you’re sure to LOVE Mitch’s work. I mean, how can you not love Bucee Beaver as Leatherface, from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Also of note, you will also find Mitch’s recreations of the famous Leave it to Beaver monster sweatshirt designs, which are now available in greyscale versions, so they’ll look exactly like they did back on black and white television. I recommended these shirts four years ago.
As a special incentive, from now until Christmas Mitch is donating 100% of his Threadless earnings to the charity, Feeding America, so not only will you be buying cool gifts, you’l also be feeding the less fortunate.
And you can also visit Mitch’s Etsy Store for prints, books and other cool things.
This webstore is the motherlode for retro and nostalgic T-shirts. You will find shirts with everything from superhero logos to defunct candies and restaurants to cult figures like Count Dante here. Today Retropolis Tees is offering 15% off of everything for Cyber Monday.
If you have someone on your shopping list who’s a Disney Park fanatic, they have a whole section of shirts for them. You’ll find tons of shirts with classic cereal characters like Quisp and Freakies. Fans of 1960s animation will find shirts inspired by The Flintstones, Mighty Hercules, Wacky Races, Underdog and more. If you have a comic book nerd on your shopping list, you can find shirts with logos and emblems for obscure superheroes like Ultra Boy, Jor El, Nova and E Man. They even have a catagory of shirts devoted to classic toys.
Most designs are available on different colored shirts, and sizes run from small to 3 X Large. Prices are usually 18,99 to 22.99, depending on size. T Shirts make a great gift, and they have hundreds of nostalgic designs from which to choose.
If you can’t find the perfect gift at Retropolis, you must not have anybody on your shopping list over the age of 25.
My friend, Thomas Wheeler has a Threadless shop filled with great pop culture designs, and the stars of the show are the dinosaur shirts from the Athletic Department of Jurassic University.
These are great for kids or dinosaur fans of any age.
Scroll down his page a bit and you’ll find shirts to appeal to UFO aficionados, Star Trek fans, GI Joe collectors, toy collectors of any kind, and several funny gag shirts destined to adorn the sci-fi, toy or comics punster in your life.
All designs are available on shirts in a wide selection of colors, and in sizes ranging from small to 3 XL.
Some people wear their hobbies on their sleeves, but here’s a way for someone to wear their hobby on their chest.
Earlier this year, METV released five limited edition ART shirts that pay tribute to Svengoolie, the beloved horror movie host. A new design popped up each month, from noted artists and cartoonists, Jim Engel, Scott Show!, Jill Thompson, Bill Morrison and coincidentally enough, Mitch O’Connell.
All five designs are still available, but I don’t know for how long.
Svengoolie started out as “Son of Svengoolie,” (so named by the original Sven, Jerry G. Bishop) back in 1979. After becoming Svengoolie proper and also becoming a Chicago instittion, Rich Koz would go on to great fame almost thirty years after this when his show finally went national on METV.
Earlier this year METV celebrated Svengoolie’s long career by commissioning these five shirts, and also with a television special that aired throughout October.
Chances are you know a fan of Svengoolie, and chances are, they’d love to have one, or all, of these shirts.
This pick is for a single design, but if you follow the link up there you can navigate to all sorts of other WWE and NXT T-shirts.
The single shirt I’ve picked is for Sami Zayn, who in my opinion has been the top professional wrestler of the year. From his show-stealing match with Johnny Knoxville at Wrestlemania to his months-long storyline as an honorary member of the most powerful faction in wrestling, The Bloodline, Zayn has shown an uncanny ability as an actor as well as a wrestler.
Zayn was always amazing in the ring, and he always found ways to connect with the crowd, as a face or as a heel, but this year he’s risen to new heights in storylines that have way more depth than your usual wrestling angle.
His chemistry with Roman Reigns and The Usos is so strong that, in one of the most memorable wrestling moments in years, he managed to get Reigns and Jey Uso to break character and crack up during a promo. He was like Tim Conway to their Harvey Korman.
So, with that said, our final T-shirt pick today is the SZ Honorary Uce shirt, commemorating his being welcomed into the legendary Samoan A’noi family. Not too bad for a guy who’s just your average Red-headed Canadian Muslim.
That is The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide for today. Tomorrow we near the end with a day devoted to EC Comics.
Seventeen days into our twenty-day journey of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide, we find ourselves once more pondering the gift-worthiness of a small stack of wonderful books.
Christmas Eve in the Mountain State
by Marly Hazen Ynigues, Emily Prentice (Illustrator)
Ramp Arts, LLC
$14.99 Available online from Barnes & Noble
Available to order now, in time for the holidays is Christmas Eve In The Mountain State, a pun-filled storybook about West Virginia, written by Marly Hazen Ynigues, The Pun Poet of West Virginia, and illustrated by Emily Prentice. The book promises playful puns for all 55 counties plus dozens of cities and towns, big and small.
As a life-long West Virginian, and a fan of truly bad puns, this storybook is right up my alley. Our state certainly has enough strange place names to work with, and Marly Hazen Ynigues really makes the most of them. This is one of those books that fun for kids, but probably just as much fun for adults to read to kids. Check out the publisher’s blurb…
“KANAWHA celebrate with you?” Make Christmas Eve in the Mountain State your new holiday tradition with playful puns for all 55 counties and dozens of West Virginia cities and towns, big and small.
“WEIRTON-ight gonna bring you mountain cheer!” Join West Virginians and West Virginia expats home for the holidays. Young mountaineers and recent transplants enjoy opportunities to learn about WV culture while family and friends invite them to be a part of what makes the Mountain State charming, welcoming, and unforgettable. Endearing illustrations depict rural and urban mountain scenes and West Virginian diversity of ages, races, ability, and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Enjoy cultural nods such as the red bandanas and “the pepperoni’s on a roll.” Illustrations include fun touches such as county shapes hidden in the art on the pages where they are mentioned. Packed with Christmas joy and West Virginia pride, you’ll want to read it every year. The perfect Christmas present so we can “Share some PLEASANTS!”
Christmas Eve In The Mountain State is available in a few local bookshops around the state, but you can also order it directly from Barnes & Noble.
If you know of Garth Marenghi, then you’re excited that this book is out. Allegedly the alter-ego of Matthew Holness, Marenghi has unleashed his dark imagination onto the printed page. Let’s look at the publisher’s synopsis…
Dare you crack open the TerrorTome? (Mind the spine)
When horror writer Nick Steen gets sucked into a cursed typewriter by the terrifying Type-Face, Dark Lord of the Prolix, the hellish visions inside his head are unleashed for real. Forced to fight his escaping imagination – now leaking out of his own brain – Nick must defend the town of Stalkford from his own fictional horrors, including avascular-necrosis-obsessed serial killer Nelson Strain and Nick’s dreaded throppleganger, the Dark Third.
Can he and Roz, his frequently incorrect female editor, hunt down these incarnate denizens of Nick’s rampaging imaginata before they destroy Stalkford, outer Stalkford and possibly slightly further?
From the twisted genius of horror master Garth Marenghi – Frighternerman, Darkscribe, Doomsage (plus Man-Shee) – come three dark tales from his long-lost multi-volume epic: TerrorTome.
Can a brain leak?
(Yes, it can)
Recommended for fans of horror infused with a healthy dose of absurd humor, and also for fans of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place. Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome can most easily be ordered in the United States from Amazon.
Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions
by Steve Martin, illustrated by Harry Bliss
ISBN-13 : 978-1250815293
$30.00 (discounted at Amazon)
Number One Is Walking is Steve Martin’s cinematic legacy―an illustrated memoir of his legendary acting career, with stories from his most popular films and artwork by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss.
Steve Martin has never written about his career in the movies before. In Number One Is Walking, he shares anecdotes from the sets of his beloved films―Father of the Bride, Roxanne, The Jerk, Three Amigos, and many more―bringing readers directly into his world. He shares charming tales of antics, moments of inspiration, and exploits with the likes of Paul McCartney, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, and Chevy Chase. Martin details his forty years in the movie biz, as well as his stand-up comedy, banjo playing, writing, and cartooning, all with his unparalleled wit.
With gorgeously illustrated cartoons and single-panel “diversions” in Steve and Harry’s signature style, Number One Is Walking is full of the everyday moments that make up a movie star’s life, capturing Steve Martin’s singular humor and acclaimed career in film. The perfect gift from the team who brought you the #1 New York Times bestseller A Wealth of Pigeons.
Recommended as a great gift for any fan of Steve Martin, and that should be most of us. Number One Is Walking should be available from any bookseller using the ISBN code, or from Amazon at a hefty discount.
Fearsome Weirdos Family
by Robert Jiménez
ISBN-13 : 979-8363976667
$15 (paperback) $25 (hardcover)
I’ve recommended Robert’s trading card series many times in the past, and now he’s compiled six of them into a hand book, available from Amazon as a paperback or hardcover (use the links above).
Fearsome Weirdos Family is a collection of Fearsome Weirdos trading cards written and illustrated by Robert Jimenez. This book showcases the trading cards from the following sets:
Fearsome Weirdos Fearsome Weirdos: Harvest Of Horrors Fearsome Weirdos: Kaiju Creeps Fearsome Weirdos: Ghouls Of Yule Startling Lineup Weird-Ass Faces
Robert’s work has appeared on album covers, in publications such as THE THING: ARTBOOK, VISIONS FROM THE UPSIDE DOWN: STRANGER THINGS ARTBOOK, Tiki Magazine and Pinstriping & Kustom Graphics Magazine, and has shown in galleries including Disneyland’s Wonderground, Harold Golen, M Modern, Creature Features, and Bear & Bird among others.
You can also see Robert’s work in trading card sets for Topps, Cryptozoic, and Upper Deck on licenses such as Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Mars Attacks, Star Wars, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Rick And Morty, Ghostbusters, Adventure Time and more. Most notably, Robert worked on 8 paintings for the Upper Deck trading card set FIREFLY THE ‘VERSE and 9 paintings for WACKY PACKAGES GO TO THE MOVIES by Topps.
This is a cool way to enjoy Robert’s twisted creations in a more easily-accessed format. As a bonus, the cover is a bit of a tribute to the 1970s’ Batman Family comic book.
Recommended for the fan of macabre silliness, lowbrow art and monster culture on your shopping list. For other cool items from Robert, check out his webstore. You’ll find his artwork on shirts, wall art, trading cards, in books and even on shoes.
by Penn Jillette
ISBN-13 : 978-1636140711
$27.95 (discounted at Amazon)
This is a novel by Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller fame, and I have to admit, I haven’t read it, so here’s what the publisher says…
From Penn Jillette of the legendary magic duo Penn & Teller: a rollicking crime caper that will bend your mind like a spoon.
“Penn Jillette is an atheist, triple-goddamned lunatic, and his book is a glorious Las Vegas lunatic paean to chance and adventure—a page-turning, scabrous, hilarious ride into randomness.”
“Jillette’s latest novel, Random, is about a young man who inherits his father’s crushing debt to a loan shark and turns to dice—and other dangerous measures—to dig himself out. That the dice bring him luck sends him a new philosophy of leaving decisions both big and small up to chance.”
—New York Times
Two weeks before his twenty-first birthday, Las Vegas native Bobby Ingersoll finds out he’s inherited a crushing gambling debt from his scumbag father. The debt is owed to an even scummier bag named Fraser Ruphart who oversees his bottom-rung criminal empire from the classy-adjacent Trump International Hotel. Bobby’s prospects of paying off the note, which comes due the day he turns twenty-one, are about as dim as the sign on the hotel’s facade.
The two weeks pass in the blink of a (snake) eye, but before Bobby’s luck runs out, he stumbles upon enough cash to pay off Ruphart and change his family’s fortune. More importantly, he finds himself with a new, for lack of a better word, faith.
Bobby does not consign his big break to a “higher power”—what Penn Jillette hero ever could? Instead, he devises and devotes himself to Random, a philosophy where his life choices are based entirely on the roll of his “lucky” dice. What follows is a rollicking exploration into not so much what defines us as what divines us when we give over every decision—from what to eat to whom to marry to how or when to die—to the random fall of two numbered cubes.
Random combines the intellectual curiosity of Richard Dawkins with the humor and grit of an Elmore Leonard antihero. Jillette’s up-on-his-luck Ingersoll is the character we need to help us navigate the chaos of the post-truth era.
Well, unless his roll runs cold.
Sounds entertaining and intriguing, and is likely a great gift idea for any fan of Penn & Teller.
Tomorrow The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide has you covered with T-shirts.
It’s another tricky day on The AIR as we premiere a sorta new episode of Radio Free Charleston! You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay here and listen to the cool embedded player elsewhere on this page.
We’ve created another new/old hybrid for you this week that you can hear at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday. The first hour is filled with new, local and independent music, mixed with a few classic tracks and some interesting cover tunes. Hours two and three are a classic episode of RFC International from way back in in the early days of The AIR.
We open with just-released music from our old buddy, John Radcliff, and then we also feature great new local music from Brian Diller, Buni Muni, Bane Star, Minor Swing and Mediogres. That’s mixed in with new music by friends from around the world, and a few ringers. We wrap up the first hour with a Payback’s A Bitch sandwich, as we take a track from the album we debuted last week, and stick it between The Fall and The Who.
Four our second and third hours I went back and dug up an episode of Radio Free Charleston International from February, 2016. This show hasn’t been heard anywhere for a long time, but it’s chock-full of then-new music, mixed with a wild collection of oddites and bizarre deep cuts. Your humble blogger and Radio host needed to cut a few corners during this last week of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide.
Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store (live links will take you to the artist’s pages for the first hour)…
Iggy Pop “American Valhalla”
Wendy James “Situation Normal at Surfrider”
Avantasia “Mystery of a Blood Red Rose”
Leaf Hound “Growers of Mushroom”
Greenleaf “Golden Throne”
The Cult “Deeply Ordered Chaos”
Elton John “Claw Hammer”
Black Sabbath “Isolated Man”
National Lampoon “Flash Bazbo”
Alice Cooper “Clones”
Ringo Starr “Without Understanding”
Ozric Tentacles “Flying Machine”
Pink Floyd “Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave and Grooving With a Pict”
Paul Kantner “Blows Against The Empire”
Yoko Ono with Jack Douglas “Move On Fast”
Pallas “Something In the Deep”
Jools Holland “Lady Madonna”
Elvis Costello “Watching The Detectives”
Kate Bush “Violin”
Kraftwerk “Pocket Calculator (live)”
Polysics “Married To A Frenchman”
Plastics “Last Train To Clarksville”
Paul McCartney “Temporary Secretary”
Wall of Voodoo “Hands of Love”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Circle of the Noose”
You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM, Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight, and Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.
I’m also going to embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.
Then at 1 PM we have MIRRORBALL, followed at 2 PM by Curtain Call. At 3 PM two great recent episodes of The Swing Shift arrive.
You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM, Thursday at 9 AM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday afternoon, only on The AIR . You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.
Day 17 of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide will go live in PopCult sometime this afternoon. Check back for all the great gift ideas.
Finding ourselves in the homestretch, we enter the final week of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide with a more general set of recommendations of cool retailers, both real-world and local to Charleston. I believe all of these folks offer gift certificates or e-Gift cards, so rather than do the shopping yourself, you can just take the coward’s way out. Or you can just go there and find something perfect for someone on your shopping list yourself, you know.
The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame
The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization devoted to celebrating and preserving the legacy of the contributions of West Virginians to the world of music. They aren’t strictly a retailer, but they do have cool stuff to sell.
You can help them in their mission by buying stuff from their webstore, where all proceeds go to the WVMHOF. They have lots of music, apparel and other gifts that could brighten up the life of the music lover on your gift list, and you could also buy a membership for someone, so they can feel the joy of supporting local music themselves.
The brainchild of Michael Lipton, the Hall of Fame sprung to life in 2005. They regularly induct new sets of West Virginia music stalwarts, and currently have a physical location in The Charleston Town Center(second floor) that also includes a shop that features CDs and more by state musicians.
Visit their website for the full story of their mission and history, plus information on how you can join and make donations. You can also shop their webstore for music, apparel and other gifts.
It’s a great way to support the local scene, support the WV Music Hall of Fame and make the local music lover on your gift list very happy.
Kin Ship Goods
They just moved two doors down from their original location, but you can also go online and shop at their store that’s filled with cool apparel, accessories, home goods and other neat stuff at Kin Ship Goods.
You can order and pay online through their secure webstore, and have your order shipped directly to you, or visit the store at its new locatin, 617 Tennessee Avenue, on Charleston’s West Side.
You’ve probably heard of Kin Ship Goods, a brand of apparel, accessories, and home goods designed by Dan Davis & Hillary Harrison. They are based in Charleston, returning to their roots after having started their business in Louisville.
Once you find that perfect gift, be it a mug, a shirt, a hoodie, a hat or someting else cool, Kin Ship Goods offers reasonable shipping options, or you can pick up your order at the store, or better yet, go into the store and check out their new digs and buy tons of stuff.
Oddbird Gift Emporium
Oddbird Gift Emporium offers a collection of quirky, fun gifts for the home, office, beauty, baby, garden and everywhere in between. Resurfacing as a brick and mortar retailer after the pandemic, you can visit them at their new location, 221 Hale St, Charleston.
Oddbird Gift Emporium has a good number of items made right here in the Mountain State. Oddbird also carries some fun clothing lines and has some cool gift cards and holiday ornaments.
Aside from the clothing and ornamets, Oddbird Gift Emporium is loaded with cool housewares, knicknacks, cooking items, custom-made soaps and candles and more. You’ll also find art prints, pottery, dinnerware, mugs and tons of other neat things. They even sell some specialty teas now.
Oddbird Gift Emporium is happy to return to the world of brick-and-mortar but you can still visit them online for snarky, hilarious and slightly offensive goods. You can shop at their webstore, or keep up with them on Facebook.
Plaid Stallions Shop
The nostalgia-merchants at Plaid Stallions.com (which is really Brian Heiler of MEGO Museum fame) have created a new toy magazine, Toy-Ventures, which I have recmmended in the past. It’s an absolute treat and if you visit their shop, you can buy all of the back issues, and in some cases, you’ll even get the early-bird bonus items that come with the mag.
Among the several issues you’ll find article on MEGO figures, The Lincoln International Monsters, The Outer Space Men, Rack Toys, toys based on Planet of the Apes, Space: 1999, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” The Munsters, Star Trek, KISS, Godzilla, Doctor Who, and tons of other cool toys from years past.
But that’s not all. You can also get signed copies of Brian’s two great books, Rack Toys and Knock Offs, and you’ll find the MEGO-sized action figure, Brick Mantooth. Coming soon (hopefully before Christmas) he’ll be adding the officially-licensed Tura Satana action figure, and the Polyester Pals mini-figures.
There’s hours of great reading material that’ll be perfect for the toy-lover on your shopping list, plus you can never go wrong with Brick Mantooth.
American Science & Surplus
American Science & Surplus has been around for decades and publishes one of the most entertaining catalogs on the face of the Earth. I’ve mentioned them here in PopCult before, and Mrs. PopCulteer and I have even made the pilgrimmage to their store in Chicago. They sell surplus items that include electronic components, gadgets, tools, toys, military pouches, cooking supplies, art supplies, pop culture oddities, educational materials and anything else they can get their hands on, cheap.
This is a great place to find gifts for the science enthusiast on your shopping list. They sell all kinds of motors and lights that can be used for home robotics. They also have military suplus gear that can be repurposed into all sorts of things. And where else can you find a three-foot-long test tube, listed in their catalog as “Test Tooooooooooobe?”
Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife made a pilgrammage to their store in Chicago a couple of years ago, and it was a life-changing experience. We don’t recommend that this year, since you’d have to quarantine for two weeks after arriving in the Windy City, but their website is the next-best thing, in terms of finding offbeat, unusual, extremely useful stuff that you didn’t know you needed.
The American Science & Surplus website is the first stop for gag gifts, or “different” ideas for the “different” people on your holiday shopping list. Seriously, they have tons of cool stuff. Just go look at their site.
Come back tomorrow for another installment of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide as we suggest even more books!
This week see your PopCulteer returning to his trusty Blackwing Palamino pencil for a drawing based on a composite of five or six (I forget how many) photos taken while driving on Interstate roadways between Columbus and Atlanta over the years. I wanted to use reference for the different elements, but mix up the features so that it doesn’t look like any place specific.
It took about three weeks to complete this, working in spurts while my fingers were functional, and alternating with a painting you’ll see here next week.
This was another instance of me basically just trying to perfect some technique instead of expressing any grand ideas.
Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a recent episode of Psychedelic Shack, and then at 3 PM a recent edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis. You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player elsewhere on this page.
On Psychedelic Shack, Nigel Pye offers up an hour-long mixtape of Psychedelic Music that, on this show, kicks off with Smooth Motion.
PsychedelicShack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM, and Saturday at 9 AM.
On a classic Prognosis, Herman Linte presents his usual assortment of prog-rock classics mixed with new tracks, and he opened this show with music from Jethro Tull’s “The Zealot Gene.”
You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.
Tonight at 8 PM you can hear Neil’s Heavy Concept Album, with a bonus of Ade Edmonson reading Dr. Suess on The Comedy Vault.
Then, at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of MIRRORBALL, hosted by Mel Larch. We’ll kick this off with her latest episode, which premiered last Friday.
And check back around noon. That’s when we plan to post Day Sixteen of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide! Today we’ll have five more book ideas.
This week PopCult brings you the first 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 One is at the head of this post, and Chapter two is below…
From March, 2008, we jump back to a special episode of Radio Free Charleston. This was our 38th show, “Captain America Shirt” featuring music by Captain Crash and the Beauty Queen From Mars with Joe Slack and The Spurgy Hankins Band .There’s also a commercial for the Chevrolet Corvair and some animation from Mars.
The show sports location footage from The Blue Parrot, Capitol Roasters, Capitol Street, and The Quarrier Building, home of LiveMix Studio. This made two episodes in a row where we used The Quarrier Building for some of our host segments. At the time I was sheepishly apologetic about it, but now it’s sort of bittersweet, since that building was taken away from Charleston’s artistic community.
I’m not sure, but this might have pre-dated Bill Lynch’s regular donning of a Captain America shirt, so we may have been trailblazers.
This was a special episode because it was our first attempt at going weekly with Radio Free Charleston. We managed to squeak out four or five shows in consecutive weeks for the first time. Little did I know that, just a few years later, I would manage to do that for months at a time. Read the original production notes HERE.
Today being Black Friday, a day many people are out of the office and therefore not reading PopCult at work, I have decided that this is a good day to revisit some gift suggestions that I’ve made in previous years. These are all for stuff that is still available, and one or two of the items have been updated, so they’re sort of new. It’s rerun day in The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide. And yes, I did this on Black Friday last year, so even the idea is recylced.
Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture by Mark Voger
ISBN-13 : 978-1605490977
This is a book that was due out in 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic until the spring of 2021. I reviewed it in March, and here’s why you should consider giving this as a gift to the person on your shopping list who needs a little prodding to get into the holiday spirit.
Mark Voger has written a series of wonderful books of pop culture nostalgia for TwoMorrows and Holly Jolly is no different. It’s basically a collection of short, entertaining essays, lavishly illustrated, that celebrate Christmas as a pop culture phenomenon. Sections of the book are dedicated to the history of the holiday, the toys of Christmas, the books, movies, decorations, television and music of Christmas and even holiday memories from celebrities.
Holly Jolly is a brisk, enjoyable survey of fond recollections that doesn’t have to be devoured in one sitting. This is going to punch the nostalgia buttons of readers of a certain age (like yours truly) more than others, but the experiences are universal enough that anyone who grew up enjoying Christmas can identify.
Voger touches on everything from Captain Action to Gumby to “I Love Lucy,” to classic animated Christmas specials to hit holiday songs to beloved movies.
Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture is a nice blast of Christmas spirit, and it’s really too much fun to hold off and read only during the holiday season. You might be able to order it from any bookseller using the ISBN code, but Amazon has it in stock now. The publisher is sold out of print editions.
I’ve told you about these cool toy horses several times in PopCult, and you can still get your hands on some of these high-quality reproductions of the Marx Thunderbolt Horse, in new colors, with, or without, the cool riding gear. In fact, they’re not exactly repros. These cool toy horses are made from the original Marx molds!
These are terrific 1/6 scale horses, perfect for any 12″ action figure (or fashion doll). You can order them HERE, and be sure to check out the rest of his site for other cool Western accesories for your 1/6 scale cowboys.
These would also make great gifts for the horse lover on your shopping list who wants a little equestrian reminder of their favorite animal to keep on their mantlepiece or display shelf. The horses are available in gray or dark brown, with custom, hand-painted details. The saddle and tack is available in white, red and brown.
To make these, Stevo uses the actual 50-plus-year-old molds for the original Marx Thunderbolt horse, the faithful steed of Johnny West. As folks of a certain age are well aware, this horse is compatible with GI Joe, Captain Action, Barbie and any 12″ action figure with the proper leg articulation. These are terrific 1/6 scale horses, perfect for any 12″ action figure (or fashion doll). You can order them HERE, and be sure to check out the rest of his site for other cool Western accesories for your 1/6 scale cowboys.
Superman Smashes The Klan
writen by Gene Luen Yang , art by Gurihiru
$16.99 (discounted at Amazon)
First off, Superman Smashes The Klan is a terrific Superman adventure. It presents the iconic, original superhero at his best, fighting bigotry and injustice and other anti-American ideals in an engrossing and entertaining story. Secondly, the story frames this adventure in a nuanced and intricate tale that explores the immigrant experience in post-World War II America. Lastly, it makes it clear that The Klan are the bad guys, something that cannot be repeated often enough or loud enough these days when White Supremecists seemingly have allies in very high places.
Written by American Born Chinese author and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Gene Luen Yang, with art by the Japanese art duo known as Gurihiro, Superman Smashes The Klan is a very timely story, executed in a near-perfect style. While totally appropriate for younger readers, the story has enough complexity and characterization to satisfy any adult reader.
Based on a summer 1946 story arc from The Adventures of Superman radio show, this is the story of Superman coming to the aid of a Chinese-American family that has just moved to Metropolis, and finds themselves under attack by The Klan of the Fiery Cross.
That radio story was created in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League, and is credited with doing serious harm to the KKK’s recruitment efforts. The Klan even tried to organize a boycott of Kellogg’s, the radio show’s sponsor, which failed, proving that boycotts only work when they’re justifed and moral.
Yang keeps the 1946 setting, but updates and expands the story to address additional themes of the immigrant experience, and manages to very effectively tie them to Superman’s Kryptonian origins, which Clark Kent confronts for the first time in this (non-canon) story. He re-centers the story with a focus on the Lee family, and adds a daughter, Roberta (Lin-Shan) who is really the star here.
In this story Superman’s confidante on the Metropolis Police Force, Inspector Henderson, is depicted as African-American. In the regular comics he has been race-flipped before, but here it’s particular effective and greatly adds more layers of depth to the story.
This story does not only show the racism of the Klan, but also touches on the sensitive relations within the Asian community and between Asians and Blacks. It even addresses the concept of “passing,” in ways that are particularly touching. That it does so without clubbing the reader over the head with it is a testament to the talents of the storytellers.
Being that this is a stand-alone tale not set in any established continuity frees Yang from having to deal with any of the heavy baggage that 80-plus years of Superman adventures bring with them. This an old-school, liberal plea for tolerance and acceptance, the kind that bigots and demagogues despise.
A major subplot involves Superman discovering his roots for the first time, which is a new take on a story that’s been often told, and then retold before. This fresh take is really well-done.
In addition to a great script, the art by Gurihiru is perfectly suited to the story, combining the look of the Max Fleischer animated shorts with Superman: The Animated Series, and a hint of Manga, to create a slick, clean, yet detailed world that makes perfect sense.
Originally published in 2019, this three-issue series was collected into one volume, and it’s a great 220-page story that can be read without any prior exposure to the Superman mythos. The end of the book contains a great essay by Yang that gives the background of the original radio story, the history of The Klan and his own experience as an Asian-American. Given the continuing racial tension coming from the spiritual descendents of the KKK, this book is more relevant now than ever.
If you enjoy great Superhero adventures without a ton of continuity issues, but with a clear and important underlying theme, then Superman Smashes The Klan is the book for you. Available anywhere books or comics are sold.
The Art of Glen Brogan (Second Edition)
by Glen Brogan
published by HGC Art
available from HGC Art
Charleston’s Glen Brogan is the type of artist that makes his fellow artists want to give up and pack it in. His art is so good that it’s hard to imagine anybody topping it. With a sleek style and a strong appreciation of the coolest elements of pop culture, Glen has made a name for himself with exhibits in New York and Los Angeles and work commissioned by Disney, King Features Syndicate, Marvel Comics and more. His first book was published in conjuction with an exhibit at HGCArt in Los Angeles. This new edition has even more of his amazing art.
You can order the book from HGC Art. And that’s not the only way you can buy some of Glen’s artwork.
So, as we have been doing for six or seven years, we are once again going to recommend the art of Charleston’s own Glen Brogan. At his Albino Raven website you can find links to where you can buy Glen’s artwork on T shirts, prints and more.
Seriously, we’re talking about eye candy of such a high grade that it can mess with your blood sugar.
This is a great way to support a local artist who’s making his name on the international scene and treat your gift recipient to a wonderful work of art.
Marvel Comics Mini-Books Collectible Boxed Set: A History and Facsimiles of Marvels Smallest Comic Books
by Marvel Entertainment, Geoff Spear and Mark Evanier
Harry N. Abrams
ISBN-13 : 978-1419743429
$29.99 (heavily discounted at Amazon)
You’ll have to excuse me for being old enough to remember this, but when I was just turning four years old, the idea of finding Marvel Comics in gumball machines was mind-blowingly epic. Thanks to some older fellow comic book fans I got to see some of these treasure years later, but I was not allowed to open them because they were so fragile. These were fifty-page comic books that were smaller than a postage stamp.
Being four when they were published, I literally didn’t have a dime to spare, if I’d ever have been able to find a gumball machine stocked with these in the first place, but for years I wondered what the books were like on the inside. Now I don’t have to wonder any more.
As the blurb goes…
Reprinted for the first time, the world’s smallest comic books—originally printed in 1966 and now enlarged to a more readable size—in a seven-book collectable boxed set
In 1966, Marvel printed what the Guinness Book of World Records certified as the world’s smallest comic books. Smaller than a postage stamp, and sold in gumball machines across the country, these six books told the quirky origin stories of Marvel’s most beloved characters at that time: the Amazing Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Mighty Thor, Captain America, Sergeant Nick Fury, and Millie the Model.
Marvel Comics Mini-Books reproduces facsimile editions of all six books in one affordable box set—along with a seventh book written by Mark Evanier that details the history and creation of these rare, vintage collectables.
That seventh book is the icing on the cake that makes this package worth more than just a novelty. It includes an essay by Mark Evanier that attempts to identify the creators of these comics (many are clearly drawn by Marie Severin) and weaves his personal quest for these when they came out with the sketchy history of the company that made them. Also of value in this seventh book is that each of these mini comics is presented actual size as a two-page spread.
That may seem redundant, since each mini-comic is also printed much larger as one of the other six books in this small slipcover edition, but the truth is, they actually read better at the tinier size.
Each of the seven books measures about four by six inches, and each small hardcover fits into a slipcover that is nicely decorated with the gumball machine insert graphics for the mini comics.
Geoff Spear did an amazing job photographing and enlarging the printed mini comics, but as small as these books are, it looks like they’re actually presented here larger than the size they were originally drawn.
These are cute and quaint and scratch the itch for collectors who have wanted to see them for more than fifty years, but they’re also a pretty cool gift for new fans of the Marvel Universe who are curious about the early days of Marvel’s merchandising. The “comics” are mostly one-panel drawings facing a page of text, but they’re a pretty cool example of forced minimalism in comics.
You might be able to order Marvel Comics Mini-Books Collectible Boxed Set: A History and Facsimiles of Marvels Smallest Comic Books from any bookseller using the ISBN code, or, since it came out over two years ago, you can snap it up from Amazon for almost half the original price. It’s a great gift for any longtime Marvel Comics fan.
And that wraps up The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide for this week. We have one more week to go, that’s a mere 25 more suggestions, so don’t forget to check back here Monday, but also, don’t forget our regular weekend features here at PopCult.
It’s one month before Christmas, and Friday afternoon we offer up new episodes of MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. 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 from the heyday of polyester, gold lamé, mirrored balls and lighted dancefloors. We don’t have a fancy theme this week, just meaty, beaty, funky Disco music. Check out the playlist…
The Three Degrees “The Runner”
Sister Sledge “Lost in Music
Boney M “Gotta Go Home”
Voyage “Let’s Fly Away”
Dan Hartman “This Is It”
Edwin Starr “H.A.P.P.Y. Radio”
Diana Ross “The Boss”
The Isley Brothers “It’s A Disco Night”
Cher “Take Me Home”
Shalamar “Take That To The Bank”
Giorgio Moroder “Knights In White Satin”
Stars on 45 “Abba Medley”
Odyssey “Native New Yorker”
Rose Royce “Is It love You’re After”
Chic “My Feet Keep Dancing”
You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays throughout the following week.
At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with the a dancey new episode of of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. This time around, Sydney is so happy that she wants to dance, and that means we get the sixth Big Electric Cat mixtape of New Wave 12″ extended remixes. She does begin the show on a slightly somber note, with a quick nod to the late Keith Leven. Peruse this here playlist for a preview…
Public Image Limited “Death Disco”
B 52s “Rock Lobster”
M “Pop Musik”
Ian Dury & The Blockheads “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”
Flying Lizards “Money”
Lene Lovich “Lucky Number”
Japan “Life In Tokyo”
Sparks “Beat The Clock”
Big Audio Dynamite ” E = MC²”
Thompson Twins “Love On Your Side”
Soft Cell “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go”
The Sisters of Mercy “Temple of Love”
Dead or Alive “My Heart Goes Bang”
Toyah “It’s A Mystery”
Aztec Camera “Somewhere In My Heart”
Strawberry Switchblade “Since Yesterday”
Scritti Politti “Hypnotize”
Oingo Boingo “Not My Slave”
Cyndi Lauper “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”
Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.
Saturday evening at 9 PM, instead of our usual mini-marathon of MIRRORBALL, we will be running three episodes of Mel Larch’s other show for The AIR, Curtain Call, which will pay tribute to the legendary Broadway composer, Stephen Sondheim, on the first anniversary of his death. We’ll also run this Sunday evening beginning at 6 PM.
That’s what’s new on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back later today for the ghosts of gift suggestions past in The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide, and come back for our regular features every day. Next week is the final week for the gift guide, so hunker down and start buying this stuff already!
It’s Thanksgiving Day and hardly anybody is going to be reading the blog until tomorrow, so today, instead of suggesting material things you can buy, The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide presents five things that folks local to Charleston, WV, can do on Friday and Saturday.
Black Friday Artwalk
From 5 PM to 8 PM Friday, Charleston’s downtown galleries and art-friendly spaces will play host to artists selling their wares. Art makes a great gift, and this is a great way to support the local scene.
Highlights include Jake Fertig’s work at Stray Dog Antiques; The work of Appalachian Gothic at WV Market; Blacklight ArtWalk at Aronfield will have art by folks at Hole in the Wall and live music by Emmalea Deal; There will also be Holly Jolly Brawley set up in the Brawley Walkway and downtown stores will stay open late so you can shop local, support the local scene and keep your holiday dollars in the community.
Record Store Day
Budget Tapes & Records and Sullivan’s Records
A great place to find gifts for the music lover on your list is this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day, the national movement to get people into records shops by offering hundreds of exclusive releases on one day each year, has expanded to a second day in recent years with a smaller, but still impressive slate of exclusive limited edition vinyl releases on Black Friday.
Locally, Budget Tapes and Records (3708 MacCorkle Ave SE, in Kanawha City) and Sullivan’s Records (1588-A Washington Street East on Charleston’s Historic East End) are participating, with special vinyl releases from Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Ultravox and dozens of other great artists, and new and unreleased music from history’s greatest musicians. You can find a full list of available records HERE. Sullivan’s opens at 8 AM and Budget opens at 9:30.
Black Friday & Small Business Saturday at Eclectic Goods Market
The area’s newest cool shopping destination, located in the teeming Metropolis of Dunbar, will be open Friday and Saturday with tons of discounts and specials. This very large antique and artisan mall will be open 11 AM to 6 PM both days, and they’re promising all kinds of holiday shopping specials as vendors will have discounts up to 50% off and are stocked up on loads of new inventory.
Among the weekends specials there will be: Gift card giveaways up to $100 (Saturday only); Gift Wrapping prices starting at $3; Free kids craft kits; Curated gifts under $20.
Eclectic Goods Market is located at 1401 Charles Ave, Dunbar, WV. If you’re old enough to remember, it’s the former location of FAD Furniture.
Scarpelli & Kehde’s MARY: A Rock Opera
Elk City Playhouse
Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde’s rock opera, MARY,a Charleston tradition, opens this coming Friday. This is the first production of the show following the death of its composer, Mark Scarpelli, earlier this year, and while it’s bittersweet, it is good to see the tradition carry on.
Let me repeat myself from a few days ago and remind you that, to get in the mood for this production by Charleston Youth Arts Company, you can sample a Radio Free Charleston playlist of clips from previous productions in Sunday Evening Video from a few days ago. This year MARY happens at the Elk City Playhouse at 218 W Washington St, Charleston, on the city’s historic West Side.
MARY: A Rock Opera returns for its 26th season on Friday, November 25th and runs through December 4th. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The story follows Mary, the young girl destined to be the mother of Jesus, through the 9 months prior to the birth of Christ. MARY paints a poignant picture of an ordinary girl thrown into the ultimate of extraordinary circumstances.
Seating is limited, so we suggest you purchase tickets ahead of time HERE.
Live Music at The Shop (Dunbar) Sam’s Uptown Cafe (Charleston)
John Inghram Band and The Settlement will be at The Shop Friday, November 25th 2022. Doors open at 8 PM and the show begins at 9 PM. Admission is $12 at the door.
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, John Inghram was steeped in the historic music of the region. His mother’s side of the family were church musicians, and he was exposed to bluegrass, country, gospel, and old-time music as a kid. On his self-titled debut album, John Inghram, the accomplished bass player seizes the present moment to step into the spotlight as a front man. With a collection of 60’s and 70’s psychedelic rock tunes, Inghram sets modern experiences to vintage sounds, allowing his listeners to feel time as circular in nature, hitting on the right now with both nostalgia and innovation.
The Settlement is a funk-fusion jam band from Huntington, WV. Cleverly combining rowdy rock riffs, complex jazz harmonies, funky bass lines, dreamy pop melodies, jammin’ reggae grooves and a multitude of diverse world music influences, the eclectic ensemble truly offers something for everyone. Each member has their own unique flavor and contributes to the bands’ vast array of sounds. Each set is different from the last, offering an original live performance that thrives on energy, improvisation, communication and creativity.
Both bands are heard often on Radio Free Charleston, on The AIR.
BYZANTINE’s CD RELEASE show happens at Sam’s Uptown Cafe Friday night. Join BYZANTINE and POTTERA (Pantera Tribute Band) for the official release of BYZANTINE’S new EP, BLACK SEA CODEX. This show is sponsored by Blackened Whiskey. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. The show is general admission and doors open at 8 PM.
There are also VIP tickets that allow fans to hang out with the band at the merch booth, get pics and autographs along with finger foods and complimentary beverages until showtime.
BYZANTINE are internationally acclaimed Metal Gods, based here in Charleston, and getting the chance to see them in an intimate setting is a rare treat. They are also heard frequently on Radio Free Charleston.
That is our Thanksgiving Day sort of gift guide entry. Check back tomorrow for new radio shows and another edition of The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide. And Happy Thanksgiving from PopCult!