Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feeding My Inner Geek #1: Five Old Comics That Would Make Great Movies

Comics are all the rage at the movies these days. I am amazed beyond measure when I see pretty young girls talking about the AVENGERS or CAPTAIN AMERICA on a level of actual geekiness!  In my day this was NOT a common occurrence, folks, believe me.  So apparently... the "geek culture" is now mainstream culture, for better or worse.

Well, here are my choices for the comics from my childhood that I feel would best lend themselves to a cinematic interpretation.  Even as a kid I had unusual taste in comics, so these are movies that will quite probably never be made.. but I am bored and at a computer, so here goes:


I have always been a sucker for a post-apocalypse tale, ever since I saw TEENAGE CAVEMAN on KGUN Tucson's "2 O'Clock Movies" as a kid.  Say what ya want about that old Corman flick, the surprise ending gave me chills [oops, that was a serious spoiler... good thing no one here is probably even interested... :) ]

The '70s had a proliferation of these types of stories [PLANET OF THE APES in all its manifestations, Gold Key's great and undervalued MIGHTY SAMSON, Marvel's "H. G. Wellsian" twist KILLRAVEN], but I would choose Kamandi just for the glorious Jack Kirby overkill and the joy of all those strange battles with every type of talking animal mutant [except the horses for some reason couldn't talk... go figure.]  I would love to see that hippie hair cut off, but I am a purist, so it would have to stay.  Seriously, though, what a great adventure film this could make if it fell in the right hands!


Jungle comics were always a fun-- if not very versatile-- diversion, but this title, created by the prolific Gaylord DuBois as a back-up at Dell in the '50s-- and still kickin' by the late '70s-- was a real stand-out within that admittedly, pretty tired, sub-genre.  Dan-El and Natongo. the titular "Brothers, were a racially mixed team of Jungle princes [one was adopted, o'course] who went searching for the former's origins and ended up righting wrongs in the process.   Interestingly, I think there was a real Christian under-current here, as the brothers fought pagans and witch doctors and spoke often of of the "One True God" in their many adventures.  Dubois was actually an ordained minister-- described on Wikipedia as a "devout Christian"-- who  really shared his world-view in this feature, possibly his all-time greatest creation, TUROK notwithstanding.


You knew I'd have at least one western on my list, and it pleases me that my choice was a grand creation of the recently passed Joe Kubert. 

Firehair was the red-headed toddler survivor of a wagon train massacre who ended up being raised by the Commanches.  Sounds pretty hackneyed I suppose, but Kubert really gave an old cliche some spectacular life in this fondly remembered '60s and 70's cult classic that never quite took off.  The hero encountered soldiers, miners, and even Californio Vaqueros in Kubert's uniquely researched and render story arc.  Someone could fashion a great and tear-jerking screenplay out of this one, to be sure.


This one is so perfect for a movie it practically writes itself.  A U.S. tank commander in WW2 meets the ghost of Confederate Calvary legend J.E.B. Stuart, who becomes a mentor to him.  The rest of the crew can't see the ghost, of course, and think the skipper is completely nuts.  In an amazing  bit of political un-correctness our mortal hero honors the ghost by flying a Confederate rather than a Union flag on his "haunted" tank.

For years there have been rumors of a Sgt. Rock film, but I actually think this strange little title would be a much cooler war flick.


I think I am just about the only 40-something who actually has memories-- much less fond ones-- of this obscure, short-lived Charlton Comics non-super-hero action title. [6 issues July 1975 to May 1976.]  Young Albie loved it, though, and even today I think it has a cool Stephen J. Cannell kind of vibe to it [and yes, I do say that as a compliment.]  In fact, I still think it was actually better than the still-loved noir-ish "Mike Mauser" back-up stories, which are just about the only reason anyone seeks out this title today.

The V-Squad were a trio of hard-boiled oddballs:  Eric Redd, the ex-fed leader with a chip on his shoulder because he had served prison time unjustly; Candy Orr, the beautiful jaded female cop-- a stereotypical "Brass Cupcake" character, so to speak;  and Tulsa Coyle, the rough and tumble crew-cutted Vietnam vet.  These guys were basically an international "security-for-hire" A-Team type outfit.   Again, it may sound pretty pedestrian, but even as a kid I loved the interplay between these characters, who were only beginning to like each other when the title saw its final issue.

Now... These choices all make sense to me, of course, but... from all my experience that basically just ensures this list must be absolutely anti-antithetical to any prevailing American taste.   Oh well, the blog killed a half-hour anyway.


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