Thursday, October 26, 2023

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A Quick Look: VIRUS (1980 - color)

    The late Robert Vaughn was one of a dozen major stars to headline the 1980 disaster epic VIRUS, a Japanese-Canadian co-production shot around the world. In the film, a super-virus is accidentally released and rapidly reduces the world's population to a handful of survivors in the antarctic. Though they escape the titular virus, they soon find themselves endangered by an automatic atomic strike when a coming earthquake triggers a fail-safe device in Washington! This while the survivors of the virus are already having trouble preserving some sense of civilization in a world where man has largely been destroyed... Despite being a minor masterpiece of it's subgenre, the film under-performed and went by with barely a notice (though it did enjoy a long life as a video rental title). Co-star George Kennedy figured this was because the title simply didn't impress people, who would hear the word VIRUS and think of nothing more serious than the common cold. (Ironically, recent years have seen the media latch onto the label, which now increases fearful reaction to illness...) Amid the star-power on display is Glenn Ford as the US President, Chuck Connors as a submarine captain, and, oh, too many others to name! The only weak performance is from Henry Silva, who for some reason has been directed to overact wildly and broadly. Still, the film is a dandy forgotten gem. At least such can be said about it's American form. Reportedly, the Japanese cut runs much longer but deviates into some supremely goofy sub-plots. Seeing how perfectly structured the US cut is, it's hard to believe it was whittled down from a larger mess. The film as it exists on American video and DVD is so tight! Worth a look.

Friday, October 6, 2023

New collaborations with Jeff Austin

 After many years, inker Jeff Austin and I have re-teamed to do a series of drawings for sale on Ebay. Here are two examples.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Cartoon Pinup

 This was supposed to be a cartoon version of Laura Petrie... I think my hand is better at true cartoon subjects, which is why the previous post has so many sketches of Daisy Duck. Even that sort of thing is hit or miss, though. I'm not my biggest fan!

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A Quick Look at Flint...

   There was a spy even cooler than Bond, and his name was Flint. Ask most movie spy fans which secret agent is our favorite, and the majority of us will tell you, without hesitation, Derek Flint. James Coburn scored his first major lead role as the strong-willed, unstoppable human computer known as Flint in 20th Century Fox's OUR MAN FLINT. In this adventure, a secret organization known as Galaxy has perfected a weather control machine and the only man who has a chance of saving the day is Flint! Coburn would return for the more elegant sequel, IN LIKE FLINT. (OUR MAN FLINT made Coburn a star, but he didn't want to get tied down a series.) In IN LIKE FLINT, Flint swings into action to help his former boss at Zonal Organization World Intelligence Espionage and happens onto a plot to replace the US President with a look-a-like, arm an experimental space platform, and shift the balance of power in favor of the female sex. During the course of events, Flint is assumed dead. (So, we have a thought-dead hero, an imposter president, and an armed space platform. I must wonder if that second G.I.JOE movie is officially a remake or not....) A little more elegant than the first film, IN LIKE FLINT is just as delightful. Unfortunately, saturation of the genre meant there wouldn't be a third film.* The two pictures have a breezy quality, a comic book mentality, that often has them written off as comedies. Unabashedly over the top, the films none the less deliver the goods. The two Flint films remain among my favorites in espionage entertainment. When I think of great spy music, it's Jerry Goldsmith's Flint theme that first comes to mind. For the tops in pop adventure, you can't go wrong with Flint!

(*Like Matt Helm, Derek Flint was revived for a TV movie in the 70's. While MATT HELM tried to capture the character played by Dean Martin, however, OUR MAN FLINT: DEAD ON TARGET shows absolutely no connection to the Coburn films. Ray Danton, who had played a Flint-like character in SECRET AGENT SUPER DRAGON, plays this Flint as a supposedly intelligent private detective in an adventure so bland and dull and poorly produced that it staggers the imagination. The action highlight is an exploding file cabinet, and the fireball might've at worst singed Flint's eyebrows. Really, the thing was terrible. And weirdly, Danton -with his dark greasy hair combed over his forehead- more resembles Harvey Lembeck than he does James Coburn.)

Thursday, August 24, 2023