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Hasslein Blog

Friday, September 12, 2014

When Comic Books Attack!

By Rich Handley

For the heck of it, I decided to take a photo of my comic book shelves today. My comics collection is getting out of control, and I'm about to run out of room, as you can see in the image below. It comes down to a choice of either binding them, selling them or adding another shelf.

:::mumble grumble rassn frassn first-world problems:::


I obtained these printing-shop shelves years ago and discovered that they were the perfect height for comic books (except, oddly, for the third row from the bottom, which is why those comics are slightly tilted). Before I found them, I used to keep the comics in cardboard boxes, like most people, but I enjoy having them all handy, without having to pull out a box every time I want to re-read something (which I do often).

The shelves go floor to ceiling, so they hold a lot. But after thirty years of collecting, I'm nearing the point at which they'll soon no longer fit. (The problem is that although there's extra space on some shelves, each shelf contains a different collection, and my OCD won't allow me to mix 'em in order to tighten up the available space.)

Left shelves:
Top four rows: Star Trek 
Bottom two rows: Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Preacher

Right shelves:
Top three rows: Swamp Thing and Hellblazer (sans "New 52")
Bottom three rows: Star Wars

As you can see, I am a very picky and specific collector; although I own a lot of comics, they're really only in a small handful of categories. I do have some other comics as well, but those I don't bother keeping on display since I don't re-read them.

How has my wife not yet left me?

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More About the British Star Trek Strips

John Freeman, over at DowntheTubes.net, wrote up a news story about our call to arms to get the British Star Trek strips reprinted (see John's article). This is a great piece, and it's much, much appreciated.


 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Help Get the British Star Trek Comic Strips Reprinted

By Rich Handley

Star Trek comic fans: It's time for a grass-roots campaign. Over the past couple of years, IDW's Library of American Comics (LOAC) imprint reprinted the hard-to-find L.A. Times Star Trek newspaper strips as a pair of beautifully made hardcover books, making the strips available to readers for the first time since the early '80s.



At the time, there were plans to give the same treatment to the even-harder-to-find British strips (from the pages of Joe 90: Top Secret, TV21, Valiant and Mighty TV Comic), but so far, nothing has materialized.





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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Coming Soon: Ape Planet Magazine

A new Planet of the Apes magazine has begun publication, and it looks like it'll be a great addition to POTA fandom. The title? Ape Planet Magazine. The first issue will be made available in February 2015.


Here's the lineup for issue #1:

MOVIES/TELEVISION
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

CHARACTERS
From the Desk of Otto Hasslein

PHILOSOPHY
The Sacred Scrolls

COLLECTIBLES
The Mego Apes
The Collectible Checklist (Part I: Action Figures)

DVD/BLUE RAY REVIEW
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook Ape Groups

DIY MAKEUP/COSTUMES
Working With Prosthetics

COSPLAY
Cosplayer of the Quarter

APE CONSERVATION
The Great Ape Conservation Fund

For submissions information, click here. Those interested in advertising should visit here. Editor Steve Kimball also maintains a blog, though there's not much posted to it yet since the first issue isn't out yet. For more information, be sure to like the group's Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/ApePlanet.

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A Letter from Charlton Heston

Given his work with the National Rifle Association, as well as the types of characters he often portrayed onscreen, Charlton Heston has often been portrayed as a hard-as-nails type of guy. But it turns out he had a softer side as well. Reader R.W. Martin sent us the following letter he received almost twenty years ago from Mr. Heston, after writing to him to seek advice about becoming an actor. It's a charming letter, and it's gratifying to see that Colonel Taylor really did care about people after all.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Sculpting the Planet of the Apes, Part Two

Recently, we showcased the work of Planet of the Apes fan Michael Kostka, who created a series of custom-made figures based on BOOM! Studios' Apes comics. Today, we present more of Michael's collection, this time based on the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series. Michael has done a fantastic job of capturing the likenesses and outfits of the farming family from "The Good Seeds" (Polar and Zantes, and their children, Anto, Jillia and Remus) as well as Galen's mother Ann, from "The Interrogation," and Prefect Barlow, from "The Gladiators" and "The Horse Race." Well done!










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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 036—The Faceless Ones

By T. Scott Edwards

My biggest difficulty in this mammoth task–that of re-watching, and then blogging, each and every Doctor Who serial in order, including the missing serials–is not that which I had expected. It is not one of recon-fatigue, but a simple lack of time. Of course, I have a real job, in the real world. This real job, teaching English and Drama in a Private School, is a time-consuming one, using up almost every waking moment of my time. As such, during term-time, I lose evenings, weekends and even some of my holiday time to lesson planning, rehearsals, marking and choreography. As such, come term-time, the entire project has to come to a screeching halt. The problem with this, though, is that my notes for the latest blog–Patrick Troughton's The Faceless Ones, for those keeping count–were written at the end of the October half term, but never made it onto the computer. As such, page after page of blurred notes with bullet-point, throw-away phrases mean almost nothing to me. Still, this entry will try to make sense of that nonsense. Wish me luck.

The principle issue that most fans have with this serial is simply that it is not completely available in visual form; the entire thing exists in an audio format, but with only two existing episodes–indeed, the two least interesting episodes, judging by what we know from the soundtracks–it is difficult to judge how successful it is. Likewise, in a series of short and snappy serials like The Underwater Menace and The Macra Terror, it seems a little sluggish at times. Running at 6 episodes, compared with the majority of the season running at 4, it seems like there is almost not enough storyline to fill the time. Of course, we know that this is an issue of necessity; The Underwater Menace went notoriously over-budget, and so The Faceless Ones, which is surprisingly restrained by early Doctor Who standards, makes full use instead of the opportunity to use location filming, and so we end up with lots of running around on tarmac and inside the main terminal buildings. Costumes are naturalistic, due to the time setting, which means that few costumes and props need creating for this serial, minimising the cost here. But despite the slower pace, this isn't a bad serial at all. Indeed, it's an interesting premise handled admirably.

Episode 1 opens with the stunning and iconic scene with yon "flying beastie!" looming up over our intrepid travellers, as Hines' Jamie McCrimmon, out of his own time, is faced by the magic of the aircraft. The use of genuine footage, as opposed to stock footage, is wonderful, although the cross editing does leave a little to be desired–there is evidently no threat to the TARDIS, and whilst Jamie's terror is understandable, the fear in the rest of the crew is less clear. The excellence of Jamie's character, though, lies in these little moments which refer back to his history. The Doctor has never had a companion from Earth's history before, with the exception of Katarina, who joined the crew in the last five minutes of The Myth Makers and proceeded to wander around aimlessly as though she were tripping on acid, before dying during the very next serial. As such, what Jamie allows is for the audience to understand the events through the eyes of the companion. Unlike with contemporary companions, for whom the audience previously was able to see the events and understand them, Jamie allows the show to return somewhat to its educational remit; his lack of understanding of even the most basic things allows us to appreciate the wonder behind them.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sculpting the Planet of the Apes, Part One

Avid Planet of the Apes fan Michael Kostka has been sculpting custom Planet of the Apes figures since early 2012, when he decided to try his hand at it after seeing some of Jessica Rotich's brilliant work at the SideShowFreaks forums. "It turned out pretty okay," he says, adding, "I sculpted a random chimpanzee from a drawing, which got me excited. Then I kept doing it and I seemed to be progressing. I made a ton of apes that year and last year. This year had been slower for me when it comes to that, but I'll be getting back into it once the summer winds down." The Hasslein Blog is pleased to be able to showcase some of Michael's work, beginning with a selection of figures custom-made based on BOOM! Studios' comic book line; he sent along with some comic panel comparison shots as well. Stay tuned for more to come.

 




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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 035—The Macra Terror

By T. Scott Edwards


The Macra Terror introduces the 'terrifying' eponymous creatures, who since have briefly appeared in the revived series – in an appearance utterly redundant to the plot, mind – and sees the time travellers arrive within a seemingly utopian society, run much like a 1950s holiday camp. If The Moonbase was a serial for Anneke Wills to really expand on her character, then The Macra Terror does the same for Michael Craze's character Ben. The Macra Terror is also the very first serial to feature the Doctor's face in the opening credits - again, it a shame we don't get to see this is in action until the first episode of the next serial, which at least exists.

The colony is a suspicious place, and from the telesnaps we can tell that the visuals are superb – the set and costume design is marvellous, and the use of the incidental music, whilst mildly jarring, fits wonderfully with the setting – it is cheery, upbeat, and so fits the jovial atmosphere perfectly. The first thing welcoming the Doctor and his crew is the distraught Medok, played with bleary-eyed enthusiasm by Terence Lodge. Medok is being pursued by Ola and the guards, and thanks to the distraction of the new arrivals he is captured for reprogramming in the correctional facility – "for your own good". It is the first of many clues that not all is well in this colony – despite the cheerful facade and fun and frivolity, something is decidedly wrong here. 


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Primate Directive: Where No Ape Has Gone Before

From the "This is so unexpected, it just might be brilliant" department comes this press release from BOOM! Studios and IDW.


Star Trek Meets Planet of the Apes!
IDW Publishing Partners With Boom! Studios for Epic Crossover

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to mind-meld with a sentient ape? Or wanted to see a Klingon on horseback, brandishing a rifle? Readers will soon have a chance to peek into just such an alternate future, as IDW Publishing partners with BOOM! Studios for the crossover event of the year: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

IDW will publish the crossover, which will mark the first time BOOM! Studios has partnered with another publisher on a series. Together they will bring Star Trek, licensed by CBS Consumer Products, and 20th Century Fox's Planet of the Apes together in a way that is sure to delight existing fans and make new ones. The series will pair the original U.S.S. Enterprise crew with Taylor, Nova and the cast from the original Planet of the Apes film.

"Planet of the Apes and Star Trek are groundbreaking science-fiction properties and both deal with many of the same social issues and themes," says Greg Goldstein IDW President and Chief Operating Officer. "A crossover between the two is a natural and long overdue."

"Before I could read comic books as a child, I could watch science fiction on my television. My dad used to wake me up way past my bedtime to watch Star Trek in syndication—it came on after the nightly news—and I took a Planet of the Apes lunchbox with me to kindergarten every day," says BOOM! Studios Founder and CEO Ross Richie. "Suffice to say, teaming up these two titans of science fiction on the page in a way that they probably will never meet each other on the silver screen is a huge moment for me personally and emotionally."

The creative team will be a mix of proven experience and new blood with scripts by beloved Star Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton (Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2) and interior art and covers by the British newcomer Rachael Stott.

"With the Klingons secretly backing a renegade gorilla general in a coup for control of Ape City, Captain Kirk finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to help out Dr. Zaius’ orangutans," explains David Tipton. "Taylor won’t be happy with that!"

"What an epic pairing! I’m so excited to see Taylor, Kirk… and those damned dirty apes… in our upcoming comic," says IDW editor Sarah Gaydos, "We’re eager to team up these exciting creative forces to bring this to life."

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 034—The Moonbase

By T. Scott Edwards

Ah, The Moonbase. A serial which sets out the template for the next few seasons, sees the return of the Cybermen, and firmly plants Troughton's portrayal of the Doctor, providing a concrete template for the way in which our impish hero will behave forever. This serial has always been my favourite of all of the Cybermen stories, and that is no mean feat, considering it is missing 2 of the 4 episodes. Written by Kit Pedler, the co-creator of the Cybermen who worked on The Tenth Planet, it sees our time travellers arrive not on an alien planet, but on the moon. The moon! That big satellite up in the sky, the one which we see every night before we go to bed; and it's brilliant. Considering Pedler was a scientist – of sorts, at least – the science here is surprisingly ridiculous. Anyhow, let's get on with this...

Continuing on from closing scenes of The Underwater Menace, the TARDIS is out of control, and is forced to crash land; having been aimed at Mars, the Doctor misses his target by some "200,000,000 miles" and the crew don spacesuits to leave the craft and have a jolly old time of it out on the lunar surface. It takes some persuading, mind, as the Doctor was eager to leave straight away, but he is eventually coerced into giving the crew "shore leave". The TARDIS 'family' unit is still firmly in place, and the group sound like they're having marvellous fun as the bounce around in reduced gravity – although the incidental music to accompany these jumps are rather strange and out of place. Whilst this episode no longer exists, the telesnaps, as well as the footage existent in episodes 2 and 4, show how magnificent the model work and set design is.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To Be Takei

by Spencer Blohm

For Trekkies everywhere, George Takei is an icon. His role as Sulu in the original Star Trek television series in the 1960s has earned him the respect and adoration of sci-fi junkies worldwide. However, it's his life post-Star Trek life that's the focus of a new documentary called To Be Takei, which is premiering and airing exclusively on Direct TV from July 3rd through August 5th. Don't worry though, Trekkies, there's plenty of Trek talk in the documentary to keep your attention.

The documentary covers Takei's rough childhood, a topic that had been mostly glossed over until now. As a Japanese-American living in California in the early 1940s, he and his family were taken into custody by the U.S. government and placed in an internment camp following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. His years spent in a camp first in Arkansas, then California, had a profound impact on George, who was only five when their internment began. It sparked his interest in activism, government, and fighting for equality for all—a mission he continues today at the age of 77.


Being Asian-American and gay in the years post-WWII were difficult for George, and he struggled to find work as a minority actor. Of course, we all know Takei received his big break in 1965, when he was cast as Hikaru Sulu in the second pilot for a little-known show called Star TrekAlthough the original series only lasted for three years, it's the role that has defined his career, and one he's reprised numerous times in the Star Trek films and series that followed the original. Some of the most exciting parts of To Be Takei are the interviews with his former costars Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and his long-time verbal sparring partner, William Shatner. Takei and Shatner have been feuding on and off for over forty years, so managing to convince Shatner to sit down and be interviewed in a film about Takei was a praise-worthy feat for filmmaker Jennifer Kroot. While the bad blood between the two actors may likely never be fully cast aside, it provides entertainment for fans who, no doubt, enjoy the two gentlemen's witty barbs at each other.

The film wouldn't be complete without discussing George's LGBT advocacy, something he's relatively new to after publicly coming out at the age of 68 in 2005. As one of the most influential and well-liked personalities on social media, he has been using those various platforms to spread his message of tolerance and love, all with his signature tongue-in-cheek humor.

Another aspect to the film is George's resurgence into popular culture, thanks to his regular appearances on The Howard Stern show and his Facebook page, which has been "liked" more than 7 million times. Beyond Facebook, George has become a regular source of entertainment on Twitter and YouTube, where his channel is filled with videos ranging from a cover of "Let It Go" to him reading passages from 50 Shades of Grey. The title of the film is even a play on one of his famous YouTube videos where he takes on Tennessee's "Don't Say Gay" bill, by encouraging fans to simply say "Takei" instead of "gay." His online popularity is so massive, AARP hired him to star in a web series for them called "Takei's Take", which is about to debut its second season.

All the jokes and celebrity aside, To Be Takei also shows a touchingly personal side to a man best known for a dirty joke or two. Viewers get a look at Takei's life with his husband, and partner of 25 years, Brad Altman. The two have drastically different personalities, which makes their bickering all the more endearing and funny to watch. For fans looking to get a better look at the man we all know as Sulu, To Be Takei is a fun, entertaining, and deeply personal way to get to know George Takei.



Spencer Blohm has been a lifelong Trekkie, thanks in large part to his father's avid sci-fi addiction. He lives and works in Chicago with his cat—who, despite his best attempts, is sorely disappointing as the Spock to his Captain Kirk.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Goin' Real Ape With Reel Spoilers

by Rich Handley

This past week, I spent an hour chatting about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with a pair of humans named Tom O'Keefe and Joe Buttice, over at Reel Spoilers, who are neither damned nor dirty—though they are geeky, and that makes them kin. Sometimes, recording a podcast can be awkward or strained, but Tom and Joe made the experience as enjoyable for me as it (hopefully) will be for listeners. They're hilarious, and it's made me a loyal listener to the Reel Spoilers podcast. Won't you join us? Simply click on the logo below. Just be warned: There be spoilers ahead... and that head is covered in ape hair.


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Monday, July 14, 2014

Doctor Who Retro Review: Serial 033—The Underwater Menace

By T. Scott Edwards

The Underwater Menace is something of an oddity. It's utterly bonkers, ridiculous, with some of the most frustrating incidental music ever, and the most madcap and over-the-top villain the show has ever had. And I love it. I don't know why – only one of the four episodes exists for me to see, although episode 2 has since been discovered, but not yet released. The soundtrack is still very engaging, with some cracking dialogue. There are daft bits there too, of course. But I still really enjoy it every time I listen to it and watch episode 3. I just can't help myself. Oh, and it has that line in it – but more on that later!

The recon I'm using is relatively low quality – whilst it's synced up perfectly to my audio, as narrated by Anneke Wills, the telesnaps and existing footage (what little of it there is) are very low resolution, and details are difficult to make out.

Oddly, The Underwater Menace is widely regarded as a dreadful story – but that is probably because only the third episode exists, and whilst the third episode includes that line – which I will come to soon enough! – the majority of the episode is taken up by the prancing balletic sequence involving the fish people, and is hardly gripping TV. The tone of this entire serial is bizarre, and only watching the third episode, without warming to this jarring tone first through the first episode, can somewhat throw a viewer. Listening to the audio track too, though, we are able to gradually acclimatise ourselves to the madness. It's an experience well worth having.

Episode 1 picks up straight after The Highlanders ended, with Jamie being welcomed into the TARDIS. What is lovely about Fraser Hines' performance is how quickly he settled into the TARDIS 'family', and the quirks that his historical origins provide. Until now, every companion has been at the very least contemporary, with the exception of Katarina, who may or may not count. By introducing someone from Earth history, it gives a new and naive element to the TARDIS crew, someone utterly overwhelmed by everything they encounter. Whilst Katarina played this role with a doe-eyed stupidity, Hines' Jamie instead charges willingly, headfirst, into the situation, occasionally asking for some clarification but usually going on instinct. This 'family' idea is probably why I love The Underwater Menace so much. For all of the preposterous plotline, each character is decidedly determined to work together, and the group dynamic is wonderful, almost a nod back to the times of Ian, Barbara and Susan with the Doctor.
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