Zombies etc (yup, some Walking Dead in there….)


Over at CBR this week they are running a ‘Week of the Dead’ special to celebrate ‘The Walking Dead’ hitting issue #50. Interviews with Kirkman & Adlard, and best of all, a 5 page preview of #50…

Interview with Robert Kirkman
Interview with Charlie Adlard
and the big one…….
A preview of Walking Dead #50

and also, over at the comicbookreview site, there’s a review of an intriguing new comic by IDW called ‘Zombies! Hunters’, which is basically big game zombie hunting. Review here

Great British Comic Strips Part I – ‘The House of Daemon’ (Eagle, 1982-83)

Following on from my ‘Tower King’ article, we go back again to the early days of the relaunched Eagle comic, and after the conclusion of ‘The Tower King‘, the following weeks issue saw the arrival of another illustrated strip, again rendered by Spanish artist Jose Oritz. Entitled ‘The House of Daemon’, it was written by 2000AD stalwarts John Wagner & Alan Grant (best known for Judge Dredd). Running for 5 months from issue no.25 (September 11, 1982) to issue no.47 (February 12, 1983), this was a creepy and bizarre horror tale, one of the best Eagle produced.

The story of a dream house that becomes possessed by an evil spirit, its nightmarish and dreamlike qualities were vividly brought to life by Oritz, a gifted artist who really could depict evil very well. The evil spirit (the ‘Daemon’ of the title) traps the architect who designed the house (Elliot Aldrich) and his wife (Cassandra – who the house was built for) and they are left at the mercy of his demented plans. As ‘Daemon’ has the ability to transfer the rooms in the house into his own evil creations, the strip takes off an all sorts of tangents. For example, the kitchen became a recreation of the Vietnam conflict, with the punishing environment being labelled ‘Hells Kitchen’ by the GIs fighting within it. Their enemy are labelled ‘The Gimps’, a creation of Daemon. They are seen in the page scan below carrying a door across ‘Hells Kitchen’;

All sorts of horrors awaited those trapped in the house, and death lurked around every corner as the dimensions of the rooms bent to the will of ‘daemon’ to become wide open spaces or dark, tiny & claustrophobic areas, all filled with terror, such as these huge caterpillar-type creatures ;

Over the course of the story, Cassandra, the architects wife and one of the main recipients of the malevolent Daemons’ evil, was revealed to have psychic powers. This empowered the embattled prisoners of Daemon, enabling them to fight back, by overcoming their fear of the environments Daemon created, showing them up for the mind-altering games that they were.

Eventually Daemon is revealed as a powerful dark sorcerer from the 26th century. He is, in that future, effectively imprisoned in the ‘House of Daemon’ by 3 wizards from that same future, who combine their powers to keep him incarcerated. This all becomes apparent when Cassandra locates the 3 wizards in the lounge, part of which is a ‘sanctuary’ for them, protected from Daemons evil.

Daemon, despite his jailing, has managed to go back 500 years and his evil intent is to torture and imprison those in his future jail. At the stories conclusion, they
track down Daemon to the attic, where a surprise awaits them – those thought killed by Daemon are actually alive, all part of Daemons mind games and reality altering powers. The physical form of Daemon is poisoned by Cassandra, and the modern day prisoners of his evil plans manage to escape. finally, Elliot Aldrich and his building firm proceed to surround the house with high brick walls, to keep unwitting visitors away, and to isolate Daemon until reality and time catches up with him in the 26th Century.

As if inspired by this strip, Grant & Wagner went on to create another dwelling-based Horror strip within a year when ‘The Thirteenth Floor‘ debuted in ‘Scream‘, and fittingly, ended up at Eagle when the former title merged with the latter. It went on to become another of Eagles most popular strips.

I remember ‘House of Daemon’ being, like The Tower King, a great read and better than a lot of the stuff that 2000AD was publishing at the time. ‘House of Daemon’ would have been a great addition to ‘Scream’ comic as well, but as it is it rankls amongst the very best that Eagle offered. Also, like ‘The Tower King’, I do not believe this has been reprinted. I think its time someone put these 2 titles together in some sort of trade paperback. They’d have my business for sure.

Links!!

Wiki entry

Brief forum discussion on this strip and ‘The Tower King’

Mail order Movie Soundtrack advert from back pages of Marvel UK comics (1983)

Anyone who used to read Marvel UK in the early 1980s would probably remember this advert, and it is just an excuse really to print it to show the Soundtrack album covers.

This is taken from 1983, from the back cover of a copy of the Uncanny X-Men reprints. Some great fantasy, action, horror and sci-fi soundtracks listed there – Mad Max 2, The Beastmaster, Xtro….

Post Apocalypse VI – The Tower King (1982)

The relaunched Eagle comic of the early 1980s was an unusual beast as it took one of the popular elements of popular girls titles such as ‘Jackie’, the photo strips, and incorporated it into most of their stories such as Doomlord and Sgt Streetwise. There were very few that were illustrated, one being the flagship title, ‘Dan Dare’. Another one of the early illustrated titles in this relaunch was ‘The Tower King’, and it was beautifully rendered by the Spanish artist Jose Oritz. Oritz also worked on the brilliant ‘House of Daemon’ strip for Eagle, which I plan to do an article on in the future.

‘The Tower King’ was a bleak post-apocalyptic tale set in London that had enough originality to make it interesting and raises it above the atypical ‘after the bomb’ type scenarios that post apocalyptic fiction tends to rely on.

The premise was that a malfunctioning solar satellite affects Earth and as a result the production of electricity ceases. Britain, and specifically London, is in the midst of a terrible winter, and with its infrastructure decimated, descends into chaos. The story focuses on a man, Mick Tempest, an ex-soldier who quickly emerges as a leader, organising his neighbourhood into a functioning community.

As the story progresses other characters, such as Lord Spencer, a self-styled Warlord, and the Tube Rats, a vicious breed of underground dwellers, are introduced. Mick Tempest comes into conflict with both Spencer and the Tube Rats, the latter battle pictured here;

As you can see from the scans of the comic included in this article, the artwork really lifts the story, with its inspiration taken from the modern and middle ages with its chain mail and swords mixing with overcoats, and the overall look of the characters acting as a sharp contrast to the modern buildings, such as electrical sub-stations and the London Underground.

Toward the end of the series run (it was in issues 1 to 24 of Eagle) Tempest, now in league with Lord Spencer, encounters a cult worshipping electricity inside a sub-station, and this is where the final scenes are played out. Here is the final episode of the series, from Eagle issue 24;



The story was a brave one for Eagle, as it was not an obvious choice – a dystopian future London descended into anarchy and squalor by the loss of electricity, topped off with middle ages styling? Try selling that to the young boys of Britain nowadays. I think it was both compelling and brilliantly illustrated and it is a shame that it has never been reprinted (as far as I know). The fact it ran for 24 issues (at 3 pages per issue) makes it little over 2 standard American comic book issues, but managed to pack in so much in that relatively short duration makes it all the more remarkable.

There is not a lot out there on Alan Hebden. Information is scarce. The following information on the writer of ‘The Tower King’ is taken from here;
http://bearalley.blogspot.com/2008/02/caroline-baker-barrister-at-law-part-1.html

“All I know about Alan (Hebden) is that he was the son of Eric Hebden, who was a regular writer for comics like Commando, Battle Picture Library and Lion in the 1960s and Battle Picture Weekly in the 1970s. Alan Hebden was quite a prolific contributor to the latter, probably best known for “Major Eazy” and “El Mestizo”, both drawn by Carlos Ezquerra; he also wrote “Crazy Keller”, drawn by Eric Bradbury, “Fighting Mann” and “Clash of the Guards”, both drawn by Cam Kennedy. Credits outside of Battle include “The Angry Planet” with art by Massimo Belardinelli for Tornado; he also contributed to 2000AD including the long-running series “Meltdown Man” (also with Belardinelli). The last credit I have for him is a Future Shock” in 2000AD issue 551 (5 December 1987) after which he seems to have vanished.

He wrote for 2000AD, Eagle and Tornado, and he wrote ‘Angry Planet’ for the latter;

“Angry Planet (for Tornado comic) written by Alan Hebden with art by Massimo Belardinelli was set in the late 21st Century on a Mars that had been made habitable by humans. The story told of the struggle of the first generation of genetic ‘martians’ to free themselves from exploitation by Earth.”

taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_(comic)

Links!!!

Wiki entry

Jose Ortiz profile


Alan Hebden at 2000ad online

Hebden also wrote the Meltdown Man strip for 2000AD (with Bellardinelli on art)

Meltdown Man entry at 2000ad.org that gives more background on Alan Hebden

Does anyone have any more information on Alan Hebden? It seems such a pity that he just seems to have disappeared. Still, even if he didn’t write anything after 1987, the likes of ‘Meltdown Man’, and especially ‘The Tower King’ are a great legacy. I could see the latter being made into a great British movie, especially as they are releasing the likes of Doomsday this year. As I said earlier, I plan to cover another great Eagle strip, ‘House of Daemon’, soon.

Koloss! Diabolico! Spinneman! De Wrekers!

Sometimes I find the English language doesn’t do a good enough job of conveying or emoting. A case in point is demonstrated below. 4 comic book titles translated for other territories. All are well known, iconic characters. All are better represented by their translated titles – check them out;

first up, the Spanish language translation of ‘Daredevil’.


This is a literal Dutch translation of ‘The Avengers’,

and the Dutch strike again, with ‘Spinneman’ aka Spiderman.



Finally, my favourite – the Swedish version of ‘The Incredible Hulk’, simply titled ‘Koloss’, defined by Websters as ‘colossus, jumbo, leviathan’.

Great comic book titles, all very evocative, more so than the English versions in my opinion.

All scans were courtesy of the great Grand Comic Book Database

Queen of the videogame of the movie – it’s Alien!!!

The adaptation of videogames from movies is a long and ignoble tradition. As long as there have been arcade, and later, console and computer games, there have been ‘games based on the movie’. Invariably, they have been a pretty sorry bunch even at the dawn of videogames (a Death Race 2000 game courted controversy over 30 years ago, but was poor even by the basic standards of the day). A few years later, Atari adapted the Spielberg blockbuster E.T. for their 2600 console, but its confusing, badly programmed gameplay left consumers cold and Atari on the verge of collapse. If you have never heard the story of hundreds of thousands of copies of the game being buried in a landfill, then take a look here.

At epinions.com there is a list of the worst movie to game adaptations.

There have, however, been some great games of movies, and even great games that just take the characters out of the movie and put them into a game. Here are a few off the top of my head;

Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (Gamecube, 2001)

Lego Star Wars (Xbox, PS2 & various other platforms, 2005)

and



Robocop
(Arcade, 1988)

In my opinion, some of the best adaptations of movies to games have been based on the Alien series of movies. This is by no means a definitive list of games based on the characters and films, but presents what I think are the best or most significant of the bunch. The list is chronological, from earliest to most recent.

Aliens – The Videogame (1986 – Amstrad CPC464 and Commodore 64)

I had the Amstrad version (published by Electric Dreams*) and thought it was one of the best games or apps for the system – up there with the Graphic Adventure Creator, Alien 8, Footbal Manager or Elite. You had control of several characters, including Ripley, the Marines, Bishop the Android and that bad man from the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, Burke. The objective is to explore the devastated colony by instructing the people under your control. You must also ensure that you watch them or else they could be under attack. Each character has different characteristics and reacts differently to each situation. The objective is to get to the Queen Aliens chamber and destroy the eggs she is incubating. A great game for its time, and one that is worth investigating.

Some kind soul has posted up some action from the Amstrad version on youtube;

Wiki entry
IGN review of the game
Alien Trilogy at Gamespot
Some good coverage of the title at Moby Games

Links!!!

There is a list of Alien and Predator (and Aliens versus Predator) games here

Relive the heady days of the nineties when web pages were written with what looks like notepad-type simple text programs and learn more about the Alien movies at the same time!

* and if that’s not a name for the Eighties, I don’t know what is.