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Jon Abbott "aka jonabbott56" (Brighton, U.K.)

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The Golden Age of DC Comics
The Golden Age of DC Comics
by Paul Levitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.79

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And so I came back for more..., 12 Oct. 2013
On the strength and the quality of the Silver Age book (also reviewed), I have also purchased the Golden Age book, and not been disappointed. I am an unashamed Sixties kid where TV, music, and comics are concerned, and consider the 1960s to be the true Golden Age as the term is generally used, but the period covered here was a delightfully innocent and naive one (I love the picture of Bruce and Dick waking up in a double bed, and the glorious unintended symbolism in the picture of Batman's wedding), and the artwork and covers in particular are magical. Only the equally innocent wartime-provoked racial stereotypes and a giant skip full of what must surely be a million dollars worth of comics ready for the book burning remind us of the darker side of the period. There are numerous mouth-watering photographs of ancient newsstands crammed with comics.

It's very important to make the point that this is a visual history, and the price paid for an abundance of wonderful visuals is always the depth of the verbal history. As such, it deserves its five stars for being exactly what it aims to be, a flawlessly produced nostalgic wallow, but as another reviewer points out, and others surely will, the text is very carefully and cautiously written. It's not so much a question of facts not being correct, as a matter of what is expediently glossed over, or left out. This is not the place for airing Seigel and Schuster's trials, the fun facts behind the creator of Wonder Woman (presented here as a prescient early example of feminism rather than tokenism or fetishism!), or whose great mind Batman and Robin and the Joker came from, as this information is freely and widely available elsewhere, but the inclusion of Mad magazine and particularly Captain Marvel, among other later acquisitions without clarification is slightly mendacious, particularly in the case of the latter.

The harsh reality of today's media world and the childish ultra-sensitivity of the massive corporations who control our pop culture treasures, is that you either get no-holds-barred freedom of speech (within the parameters of the law) and limited visual illustrations, or you get access to the files and behave yourself (see also the recent exquisite Roger Corman coffee-table book for some fancy footwork around the facts). There is room for both approaches, and the readership is free not only to choose, but also to choose both. We need both.

Of many options of the former, I wholeheartedly recommend the almost literally unputdownable Men of Tomorrow, by Gerard Jones, one of the finest books on popular culture I have ever read, and a gripping fully detailed history of the birth of DC and Marvel that is on a par with Peter Guralnick's Elvis, Ian MacDonald's Beatles, and David Kalat's Godzilla histories. With this project, Levitz has gone as far as he is able, and succeeded magnificently in producing what he intended. All the essential and expected images are here, plus a few pleasant surprises. My only very minor quibble is that the Columbia serials and the Superman TV series didn't get the same lavish treatment as the magnificent Adam West Batman show did in the Silver Age volume (despite a lovely picture of George Reeves outside his dressing room). Otherwise, this volume might be the slightly more focussed of the two.

The Silver Age of DC Comics
The Silver Age of DC Comics
by Paul Levitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another quality product from Taschen, 1 Oct. 2013
This is a massive--and I do mean massive--slab of a coffee table book for which you will actually need a very sturdy coffee table to put it on. Not bad for the less than twenty quid I paid for it (from Amazon, but on my daughter's account, which is why it's not marked verified purchase).

The 1960s is, for me, the vortex around which all 20th century popular culture swirls, and rightly or wrongly I have no interest in the later volumes (I may be tempted to buy the Golden Age book for the right price). I like my super-heroes smiley and colourful not dark and mean, so this is my period and it would have been difficult for Taschen to get it wrong. I could quibble about which covers were used, and which were given prominence, but somebody has to make the final choice, and this is a good selection. It was certainly brave--some would say foolhardy--to include several representations of DC's pitiful attempts to be hip and groovy and down with the kids, as well as their embarrassing efforts to imitate Marvel's parodies and bullpen stuff. If I have a complaint, it's that some of the more goofy stuff could have been condensed down (it's right that it was included) to make room for more of the major attractions.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Batman TV show given attention, given Warners' persistent burying of it, and for me the highlight of the book is around thirty pages devoted to the show's media coverage and merchandise and some very rare images (not unseen, but not the usual stuff), including foreign film posters and reproductions of Norman Saunders trading cards artwork. I have only two gripes: no picture/s of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, and most glaringly, nothing at all on one of my favourite Silver Age titles, World's Finest, which often featured superb concepts and covers from Curt Swan, my hero. Particularly amusing are the bundles of covers on similar themes, such as weddings, deaths, and the old dumping of the costume and quitting routine, which unfortunately do serve to highlight just how cliched these storylines were. Otherwise, this is recommended without further reservations. Like the other reviewers, I wanted more on the major characters, with perhaps just token references to the comedy, war and romance.

Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman, King of the B-Movie
Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman, King of the B-Movie
by Chris Nashawaty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's another book about Corman..., 30 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's hard to believe there's anything left to say about Corman, and to a certain degree the text reflects this, so this is presumably the reason the author has chosen to produce a coffee-table book. But what a coffee table you will have. The choice of illustrations and quality of the design and layout cannot be faulted, and this is an indispensable addition to the bookcase of any serious fan of trashy films.

Amazon claims that many of the images are rare and new, and the promised behind-the-scenes photos are certainly there, but nothing special. A fair number of the illustrations are frame grabs, and I have to say that many of the posters reproduced are very familiar.

This honestly doesn't matter.

This is hardly the first book about the man, and there have been good, bad, and indifferent. While the interview comments are interesting and bite-size readable, those already familiar with his work will learn little that is new. There are no surprises, and no seriously critical or negative comments, although to be fair, this sort of book isn't the place for them. Those with an axe to grind--and there are some--will find no wheel here, and while the cynics might have something to say about that, I'm inclined to agree with the quote that suggests the ones who grasped the brass ring, rather than those who complained about the fact that it wasn't silver or gold, are the ones who went the furthest in their careers. However, I can't help pointing out that once more, the massive contribution of Paul Blaisdell has been neglected, if not completely airbrushed out of existence yet again.

What this book has going for it is that firstly the images that have been chosen represent his entire output, and not just the sci-fi stuff, so there's as much about the bikers and nurses etc. as the usual suspects, and secondly it goes right up to date with the magnificently mental DinoCroc vs. SuperGator. What this book isn't is a reference source, but it doesn't pretend to be. It is, however, a great overview for newbies seeking an introduction to Corman (they can get the detail later), and a wonderful wallow for us jaded old folk. There is a lot of information that isn't in here, but what there is appears to be accurate at first glance, and with Corman, it's the pictures tell the story. Take a look at the lobby cards for the crappy Creature From the Haunted Sea, and tell me you don't want to see that film. This is the Corman magic at work.

Yogi Bear and Friends DVD  [2013]
Yogi Bear and Friends DVD [2013]
Dvd ~ Joseph Barbera
Offered by Discs4all
Price: £3.86

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Here we go again..., 5 Sept. 2013
While it's great to see classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons out on DVD, yet again Warners are re-releasing stuff we've already got while we're still waiting for unreleased material. This is just lazy, disrespectful to the customer, and dishonest. All these cartoons seem to come from the Yogi Bear Show, which has only just been released in a superior edition. Fans are still waiting for seasons two and three of Huckleberry Hound (which includes Yogi Bear) and most importantly, the Quick Draw McGraw series. This is just money for old rope, Warners, so let's get on with it and stop messing about. Who's in charge there, and when can they be replaced by someone who knows what they've got and what they're doing?

Hama Double DVD Jewel Cases - Transparent
Hama Double DVD Jewel Cases - Transparent

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transparently perfect, 24 Aug. 2012
These are of excellent quality, strong and sturdy, and exactly as you would expect when buying store-bought discs. In fact, they are superior to those wussy, flimsy cases you sometimes get with American DVDs. Great for doubling up similar films or sequels, and normal-sized, so the sleeve fits properly.

Please note that when I submitted this review, product was 3.99 direct from Amazon.

Amaray DVD case / multibox in clear to hold 4 discs
Amaray DVD case / multibox in clear to hold 4 discs
Offered by Vision Media Store
Price: £4.78

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I wanted, 24 Aug. 2012
These cases are excellent, exactly what I hoped for. I initially just ordered one to check it out, then ordered a bunch more. They are strong and sturdy, not like the cheap and nasty ones you see in pound shops, and the width is exactly the same as a single. Obviously, this means you can store four discs where before you had one. If, like me, you are having space problems with a growing DVD collection, these are a huge help. Of course you wouldn't want to cram everything in tight, as half the pleasure of a collection is displaying the titles so that you can see what you've got, but these boxes are perfect for series of films--say, Shaft, Rocky, Superman, Spider-Man etc., or those occasions when the marketing people have gone a bit mad and forgotten that you actually have to store these things somewhere, or those British sit-coms that have single disc "seasons" of six episodes... and because the width of the case is the same, you can just choose the best sleeve. Just remember to keep a note somewhere of where everything is!

Please note that these were priced at 1.47 each when this review was submitted in August 2012

And watch out for those trustworthy guys who offer OMG prices with WTF postage!

Damon and Pythias (DVD) (1962) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import) [Region 1]
Damon and Pythias (DVD) (1962) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import) [Region 1]
Price: £3.67

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Warning, Guy Williams fans, 22 Aug. 2012
Do not, under any circumstances, buy the Alpha Oldies version of this film. The quality of the source material for this disc is quite literally unwatchable. This is unforgivable, because although the quality of public domain material is always poor because no studio has a stake in looking after it, this film has been shown on TV in near pristine condition. Ordinarily with this kind of old and obscure material, I concede that beggars can't be choosers, but on the other hand, the hungry man has no use for a plastic loaf!

I have bought many discs from the Alpha label before, and rarely been disappointed, but this transfer is absolutely useless to anyone but the most desperate and undemanding researcher. Alpha do themselves no favours to their reputation by releasing such appalling quality product. I cannot even in all conscience sell it on. This has been on my DVD wants list for a long time, and this is a crushing letdown (to add insult to injury, it's a great sleeve, too!). We anxiously await a quality release for this title.

DAMN 'EM AND PISSED OFFIIUS AGAIN!! A new, revised review, 28 July 2013

The hoped for quality release has now arrived from the ever reliable and brilliant Warner Archive label, but Amazon's absurd practice of heaving over all previous reviews of earlier releases (in other words, reviewing the film rather than the product being sold) means that my review of the Alpha release now sits under the new watchable version! To add insult to injury, I can't post a new review for this version, because as far as Amazon are concerned, I've already reviewed it!! I can either edit the original review, which is what I am doing, or remove my earlier one, which I don't want to do as the Alpha version is still out there. The problem with this business of lumping all previous reviews together is that many reviewers don't specify which release they are reviewing. Amazon really need to acknowledge that each separate release of a film is a separate product, otherwise it makes a nonsense of the entire reviews process.

So--let me reiterate. The Alpha version of Damon and Pythias is an atrocious and unwatchable transfer that should be avoided at all costs. The Warner Archive version is perfectly acceptable. As this review will apparently appear under any DVD release of this film, please note that if you are looking at a purple/blue background sleeve, run like your toga is on fire and search out the Warner Archive version with the white background to ensure you get a watchable and official release of this film. Good Grief!

Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection (Remastered) [DVD] [1975]
Fawlty Towers - The Complete Collection (Remastered) [DVD] [1975]
Dvd ~ John Cleese
Price: £9.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't get O'Reilly, get Stubbs, 10 Aug. 2012
When buying this classic comedy on DVD (and if you're seeing them for the first time I envy you), do make sure you get this most recent version, which replaces the soporific and tedious commentaries by the directors with the far more enlightening reminiscences of the intelligent and always interesting John Cleese. Given that I find these twelve gems virtually flawless and critic proof, I'm amazed at how often I disagree with him, particularly about best episodes and best moments, but what a civilised and insightful three hours you will have.

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