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Posts Tagged ‘pulps’

Welcome back to my recap of Comic-Con 2012 and the second half of our journey through the vast tract of vendor booths on the floor of the exhibition hall! As you’ll recall from part one, my Comic-Con shopping cart was completely empty after encountering one high ticket disappointment after another.

Today, we’ll change all that.

Yes, in fact, I did manage to find a few awesome items to buy that fit quite nicely within my modest budget. No, nothing as grand as a Mystic Seer or The Private Life of Helen of Troy, but I’m very happy with the odd and unique purchases I scrounged from the dealer room. For example, this:

Naughty swiveling seated belly dancer figure from the 50s (?)

What is it, you wonder? Near as I can figure, it is a titillating amusement from the 1950’s that was probably sold from under the counter at stores that specialized in men’s magazines. The base is made of wood and the figure is some kind of very soft rubber. Beneath the base is a short, rotating metal handle, which—as you turn the handle back and forth—causes the beige little beauty on top to wiggle and dance!

Don’t believe me? See for yourself…

We pause here for readers to catch their collective breaths and take a quick cold shower

I guarantee that this talented lass will make it into one of my photos very, very soon!

One booth I aways make a point of visiting is Cards and Comics Central, a cool little store from San Francisco that sells lots of fun miniatures imported from Japan. Last year I bought a pair of mystery boxes containing human body parts, and this year I was excited to see a second series of similar mystery boxes available at the show! Now, the problem with these mystery boxes is that you never quite know what you’re getting, as the boxes are glued shut and don’t indicate what is inside, instead tantalizing the shopper with pictures of what might be contained within. The series includes the 7 different body parts seen on the box, plus a super secret mystery organ.

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The picture on the front is, of course, the most coveted of all possible prizes, and last year I scored by finding the human torso featured on the face. This year, I expected nothing less than the skinless musculature-man you see in the slideshow above.

You might think that the act of selecting a mystery box is as random as the spin of a roulette wheel. Not so! There is an art and a strategy to increase the odds of finding what you desire. No, shaking the boxes does not help; there is padding inside and every box responds silently to insistent jostling. Luckily, the weight from one box to the next varies considerably, and no doubt the muscle man would be one of the heavier items. I carefully weighed each box, grouping them into heavy and light boxes, then bought one of each so I’d be guaranteed that the contents would be different (nothing worse than duplicate body parts!).

Upon returning home following day one, I broke the seal on the heavier of my two mystery boxes to find…

Teeth. Not exactly what I was looking for. Oh, sure, they are nice teeth, but they are still merely teeth and not as satisfying as an entire flayed body.

Box two revealed a human hand reaching into the air and stripped of skin and muscle to show all the bones and tendons within. Again, nice, and I have a lot of respect for the mechanics of hands (which are currently dancing madly upon the keys of my laptop as I type this post), but not anatomically spectacular.

Returning to the exhibition hall for day two I beelined to Cards and Comics Central and found another full display of body parts. Today’s strategy would be a little different. I’d neglected to notice that the mystery box containing the teeth was bottom heavy. Argh!! Big, glaring oversight! Surely, a mystery as glorious as a WHOLE BODY would be equally weighted from top to bottom. Again I separated all the boxes, weeding out the light items, then went about testing to see which boxes would balance like a see-saw atop an index finger fulcrum. Only an engineer would apply physics to the otherwise simple task of selecting a toy figure….

After much concentration and observation I finally selected what I believed to be the most evenly balanced of all the heavy mysteries.

Apparently, a uterus is very balanced, because my mystery box contained a uterus. Ah! But not just any uterus… a uterus with a removable baby!!! He (I think, I haven’t checked) is all pink and fetal-like, and tucked snugly away behind a removable pelvic bone. Yay!!

Body parts from the three mystery boxes I bought (the eye was from Comic-Con 2011)

Comic-Con has long been one of my sources for the finest in provocatively titled and illustrated pulp magazines and novels. Past events have unearthed such treasures as Eastern Shame Girl, The Love Toy, and Illicit Wife, all of which have served as essential background scenery for my fine art photographs. Though it is unfortunately becoming more difficult to find pulp vendors at the Con, as all the little mom’n’pop vendors of the cool and unusual seem to be getting squeezed off of the floor by big time movie studios, but I did manage to find a couple of booths offering a small but outstanding selection of tawdry tales.

For I Have Sinned, 1955

At Bud Plant (a Comic Con fixture) I discovered the sultry selection to the left, For I Have Sinned — The confession of a Paris streetwalker, by Ruth Sachs. I already have a photo in mind that will use this cover as an essential element of the background imagery. This cover so moved me that I was immediately inspired to scan the web for something with a similar composition: pink night gown, dark green backdrop, but with the model on the left instead of the right. How specific is that?!?! And guess what? I found one! Both will appear in an upcoming photo, so keep your eyes open for future announcements.

There were actually a ton of other cool titles at the Bud Plant booth, and I had a nice little stack of pulps going before I whittled my purchases down to only two: For I Have Sinned, and…

The Son of the Grand Eunuch — Charles Pettit, 1949

Complete and unabridged… oooooooooo! I’ll leave it you, Patient Reader, to contemplate the genealogy that would be required to produce the son of a grand eunuch.

Another of my favorite booksellers is Altair 4 Collectibles, located in Orange, California. They always have a cool selection of rare books and sci fi pulps. I picked up the two vintage magazines you see below: Astounding Science Fiction from January 1947, and Fantastic from October 1956.

Astounding Science Fiction — January 1947

Fantastic, Volume 5 — October 1956

Call me crazy, but I’m a sucker for “red scare” literature and any story that involves a well-mannered business man materializing into a women’s locker room.

Question: When did t-shirts become so bloody expensive?

Answer: When the Comic-Con staff discovered that people would be willing to line up in the hundreds for ticket vouchers that would entitle them to buy a conference t-shirt at some later time when shirts were again “in stock”—or so I was told by someone standing in the endless line at the Comic-Con souvenir booth.

I’m not sure what the Con was charging for official conference shirts, but the going rate elsewhere in the hall seemed to be $20 to $30 for custom t-shirts, with occasional price breaks if you chose to buy a whole wardrobe of witty T’s to bring envy to your friends and coworkers. I suppose this is a bargain compared to the $40-and-up price charged these days at most rock concerts, but still…

IT’S A T-SHIRT!!!

Enough complaining! We know you bought at least one t-shirt. After all, weren’t t-shirts and shorts the mainstay of your “business” wardrobe during all those years you worked as an engineer?

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster T-shirt

Yes, okay, I shouldn’t be whining, because I did find a couple of incredibly cool t-shirts, and I definitely did get my money’s worth, and (one more time) I do plan on selling my own similarly priced T’s when I eventually have a booth at the show.

So, what did I get? Two incredibly cool shirts from the fine folks at the Retro-A-Go-Go. Robots! Pin-ups! B-Movies and horror pulps! That’s my kind of booth!

To the right is t-shirt number one, which reproduces poster art from Frankenstein meets the Space Monster. Yes, it’s a real movie! No, I’ve never seen this 1965 “classic”, but I invite you to checkout the trailer!

I have no idea what the source is for the second t-shirt, Dr. Yen Syn Fortune Teller, which you see below. But isn’t it just too, too, too cool?!?!? Imagine what psychic powers I will have while wearing this shirt! Oh, and to think of how unbounded my cosmic powers might have been with the Dr. Yen Syn shirt AND the Mystic Seer machine!! No doubt, the Universe has conspired against me out of malice and jealousy, to limit my ultimate power.

::: sigh :::

Dr. Yen Syn Fortune Teller T-shirt

That’s it for my trip around the exhibition hall. Hope you enjoyed the shopping!

Up next: Celebrity sightings!

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July already? Well boys and girls, you know what that means… Comic-Con! I’ve been attending the annual pop culture fest for more years than I care to remember, and owe a large chunk of my sublime collection of Weird & Unusual Things to exhaustive hours wandering the darkest corners of the cavernous exhibition hall. Without Comic-Con, many of my very best photos would not have been possible, as the exhibition hall has been the source of everything from Frankenstein flashlights and lascivious lobby cards, to plastic body parts and scandalous paperbacks.

How was the shopping at this year’s event?

Hold on tight as we snake our way through the costume-filled aisles and take a look at some of the wonderful things that tempted (and sometimes defeated) my wallet!

Original Beatle Bobbleheads — $950!!

Our first stop is at a vintage booth near the front of the hall where I spotted the above set of original Beatles bobblehead dolls from the early 1960’s. Those of you familiar with my photography have no doubt seen the smaller (and far more sadistic looking) version of these dolls in many of my conceptual art pieces (examples here and here). This figures are much larger, and actually bear a reasonable resemblance to the Fab Four. Best of all, they were RIGHT THERE on the faux velvet tablecloth where anyone could pick them up or tap their bobbling brows to watch them nod along to whatever Beatle classic that might be floating through your head. Under those circumstances, and with the really good stuff saely locked up behind glass… how expensive could these really be, right?

Try $950. There. On the table.

No, I did not buy them. But I did make their heads bobble. Ooooooooooooooooooo!

The Private Life of Helen of Troy — John Erskine, 1947 edition

Having just saved myself almost a thousand dollars, I was now empowered to seek out more reasonably priced collectibles and ventured into one of the dwindling few booths that still sell vintage pulps and paperbacks. There, I was very excited to feast my eyes on the incredible paperback to the right. Oh wow!! Just the kind of thing I would buy! Well, except for one problem, quickly corrected as I fumbled for my reading glasses to better make sense of the price sticker.

$50?!?! Hopes dashed! Magnificence shattered! Desire unsatisfied!

Another cool item that did not pass the wallet test, but I took a photo of the cover all the same for a couple of very good reasons:

  1. It’s just so cool!
  2. To collect as much information on the book as possible, as the search now begins for a more affordably priced copy.
  3. The author… John Erskine! Coincidence of coincidences, John Erskine was the author of another amazing book that just so happens to be a feature player in my most recent photograph!! Is it any wonder that Erskine wrote The Influence of Women… and its cure, after putting Helen of Troy in a Victoria’s Secret catalog?

Quick! Run with me from this booth before reverse buyer’s remorse gets the best of me!

Onward we trudge through the sweaty masses and stumble upon…

Mystic Seer fortune telling machine!

OH MY GOD IT’S A MYSTIC SEER MACHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just like that famous Twlight Zone Episode starring William Shatner (Are we going to live in this country?). They actually worked and dispense fortunes on specially printed Mystic Seer cards.

How long have I wanted—no, needed—a Mystic Seer machine of my very own? Wait, that’s not a Yes or No question and the Mystic Seer would be of no use. Let us rephrase: Would a Mystic Seer machine make my life even more wonderful than it already is??? The answer, of course, would not be the usual read-what-you-will mystic ambiguity; it would be a resounding YES!

Oh… but as you can see from the photo, the Mystic Seer was locked up in a glass case, and that spells dollar signs that would require an affirmative response to question number two on the boldly printed examples. Worse, to the left of this traditional red Mystic Seer was a limited edition silver model (signed by William Shatner, by the way!), and while any color but red could not possibly be trusted to lend guidance on one’s mystic journey, the mere presence of a limited edition model had to add up to big bucks.

In this case: Glass Case = $250 for the red model, or $500 for the limited edition.

So, no, I do not have a Mystic Seer sitting here beside me that—for the bargain price of a copper penny—would be able to predict whether or not you, the reader, are enjoying this post. I just have to wing it.

But I will, someday, have a Mystic Seer.

Creature from the Black Lagoon bust

It seemed as though collectibles from my distant youth were popping up to tempt me in every aisle of the exhibit hall. Everywhere I turned enticements plucked at the strings of my memory, calling out, “Hey! Remember me? You like me! You want me! Buy me!” There were DVDs of old TV shows, vintage toys, horror comics I remember buying (without telling my parents) off the rack in Mission Beach, and… our friend to the left: The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Last summer I wrote a collection of posts on “Really Scary Things,” but completely neglected to mention the Creature! When I was a kid, the Creature from the Black Lagoon was the ultimate monster! All it took was one wide-eyed viewing of the original 1954 film on Science Fiction Theater—San Diego TV’s Saturday afternoon horror show—and I was hooked! The Creature was gross and scaly, and breathed through bellowing gills. His webbed hands were HUGE! The size of canoe paddles and tipped by razor sharp claws. He was inhumanely STRONG, and was relentless in pursuit of his startled prey. I thought the Creature was AWESOME! But he was also kind of scary because, you know, monsters could be real, and we happened to live up the hill from a large lake that didn’t look… all… that… different… than… the Creature’s Lagoon! So, yeah, I was fascinated by the Creature—but also scared and a little freaked out by the Creature. And isn’t that what makes all the best horror work?

Note!
Incidentally, just in case you’ve never seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, it may have the most immediately identifiable “monster movie” score of all-time.

Dunt-dunt-DUN! Dunt-dunt-DUN!

Yeah, that’s exactly how it goes. See for yourself.

Back to the scaly fellow above who was trapped in a glass case on the convention center floor.

When I was a kid I had a Creature from the Black Lagoon plastic model kit that I built and painted (badly), to honor my favorite movie monster. Really though? What am I going to do with a giant bust of the Creature? My home decor is adventurous, but tasteful, and I’m afraid a giant green amphibian cast would push me beyond “edgy” into full-on weirdness. Besides, I already have a small Creature on display in a bookcase along with his Universal monster friends.

I have no idea what he cost, but it was an easy decision to pass on my beloved Creature.

Original Major Matt Mason — Not for sale!

Another icon from my past is pictured to the right: Major Matt Mason, on display—and not for sale!—in the toys-of-yesteryear section of the Mattel booth. Matt Mason was an awesome toy figure created during the space race before man had actually landed on the moon. How cool was Matt Mason? He had a jet pack! That’s right—a jet pack! Everyone is always complaining that “we were promised jet packs.” Well, Matt Mason had one! Okay, in reality it was a doo-hickey that attached to his back that zipped along on a string… but if you had any sense of imagination, IT WAS A JET PACK!

Beside the jet pack, Matt Mason was cool because he had posable arms and legs. See the black accordion things in the photos? The accordion joints allowed his rubbery spacesuit to bend and remain in position. In reality, Major Matt Mason was filled head-to-toe with a substructure of stiff wire that sooner or later either broke (resulting in limp limbs) or poked through the rubber turning Matt into a saber wielding space maniac that could scratch and puncture the delicate flesh of his adolescent astronaut cadets.

Mattel had all kinds of Major Matt Mason figures and accessories on display in pristine condition. I rarely see Matt Mason figures anywhere—including Comic-Con—so it was a delightful treat to see him standing inside the glass case with his trusty space helmet at his side! Amidst the menagerie of space stations, moon suits and space sleds were a pair of Major Matt Mason accessories I had as a kid: the much coveted ATV Space Crawler and one of Matt’s space “buddies” (?!?) Doug Davis riding his Space Tractor. Each of Matt’s fellow astronauts wore a different colored suit and Doug Davis wore yellow.

No, Major Matt Mason was not for sale, and that was probably a good thing, locked glass cabinet and all. After the Beatle Bobblers, the jiggling Helen of Troy, the Mystic Seer (whose demonic head bobbles, by the way), and the Creature cast, could I bear yet another incident of exhibition sticker shock? Or would the temptation break me? Would I make a mad dash through the hall, filling my arms with limited edition wonders, as gleeful vendors stripped fat rolls of greenback from my pockets? Surely, Comic-Con 2012 could not pass without me making a single pop culture purchase; could it?

To learn the answer to these and many other crucial, overly dramatic questions… stay tuned for Part 2!

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