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“Horror we? How’s….”

§ September 21st, 2022 § Filed under swamp thing § 3 Comments

So if you remember this post about the Swamp Thing “Battle for the Bayou” board game (and why wouldn’t you, surely you’ve been reading this blog for 18 years), some of these drawings may appear familiar to you.

Occasionally I’ll troll through the eBay listings for Swamp Thing stuff, seeing if there’s anything new to catch my eye (despite the fact that after Swamp Thing Chalk it’s all downhill). But I did spot these pieces of production art, apparently by Mario Menjavar and Alfredo Alcala (according to the listings) for the board game and other merch being offered for sale. I was tempted, but I think I blew my original art-purchasing budget for the decade, so alas I shall have to be satisfied with these saved scans. All pics of bad guys from the cartoon and toy line, so enjoy, starting with Arcane pre- and post-monstrous transformation:


And here are a bunch of Arcane’s Un-Men (alas, no Cranius to be had):


Neat, right? What I wouldn’t give for that last guy to turn up in the comics.

This is a terrible Fourth of July post.

§ July 4th, 2022 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 3 Comments

So I was looking at one of those “here are the hot comics!” apps that some collectors are using in place of t heir own want lists, because I’m trying to keep on top of when some comic is dubbed by the investment gods as The New Thing and I can gird myself for the onslaught of phone calls and emails from folks all asking for the same item.

At any rate, on a whim, I looked at the various Swamp Thing entries, as I seemed to recall some discrepancy or ‘nother the last time I looked. And yup, here it is, in the listing for Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 (1984):


The “new origin” bit is correct, but the first appearance notation is way off. (And gotta be honest, totally forgot about the New 52 “Seeder” incarnation of the character, which is fine because I bet he won’t be called that the next we see him, if ever.)

Anyhoo, Jason Woodrue, the Plant Master, first popped up as an Atom villain in the first issue of the diminutive hero’s own series in 1962. There he is on the cover in the selfsame hot comics app that listed Saga of the Swamp Thing #21 as his debut:


And then I thought “oh, well, maybe they mean the first time he was referred to as the Floronic Man, or the first time he looked all planty.” And nope, I knew neither of those were the case. I mean, it says right there in the Atom #1 listing…he transformed from the normal human appearance into his plant form in Flash #245 (1976). Here’s the app’s entry for that comic:


…which is the form in which I first encountered the character, in Justice League of America #195 (1981):


And then there was the Steve Bissette/John Totleben redesign of the character, first appearing in that Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, and as pictured here from #24:


Unless that’s what they meant by “first appearance,” the first time this particular design of the character appeared, I’m gonna say that app’s entry for Saga of That There Swamp Thang #21 is “human error” and needs to be corrected. Though I wonder if someone out there heavily dependent on the app has their copy of #21 marked with a big “FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE FLORONIC MAN!” tag.

Actually, don’t need to wonder…hello “Top Rated Plus” eBay seller with this listing:


The desperate quest to establish “first appearances” for maximum collectability can be a weird and wild one, leading to contradictory and erroneous information getting out there. Thus, the moral of the story is…TRUST NO ONE. Except me, your pal Mike.

Oh, and I saw this, too, in the entry for Saga of the Swamp Thing #25:


Augh, don’t get me started (because I already did start back in 2004 in this link-rotted post). And even the app in the entry for #37 says


Hoo boy.

Not really Eisner-winning.

§ May 23rd, 2022 § Filed under swamp thing § 2 Comments

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the “international” (i.e. uncut) edition of the classic Swamp Thing movie was released on Blu-ray in the UK.

Lemme ‘splain. When it came time for the initial release of the first Swamp Thing movie to DVD, instead of using the U.S. theatrical release (which contained a minor amount of Topless Adrienne Barbeau), they used a somewhat longer cut (by a couple of minutes) featuring Slightly More Topless Adrienne Barbeau, along with a scene featuring (for some reason) a gaggle of topless dancers. I of course go into detail about the situation in this Eisner award-winning post from 2006.

Well anyway, that edition of the DVD was pulled from the market, and later replaced by actual U.S. theatrical cut without the extra nekkidness. The one improvement of the newer DVD was that it was anamorphic, so the picture filled up your widescreen TV. Alas, that uncut edition was not, so all that extra, um, stuff was relegated to a rectangular box in the middle of your screen.

Eventually, that first Swamp Thing movie did get rereleased in a Blu-ray edition, and while there was some hope it would be the 93-minute uncut version, it ended up being the regular 91 minute flick. I talked a tiny bit about the Blu-ray when it came out back in 2013, and it’s a bit alarming to realize that was almost 9 years ago. (Still haven’t listened to those commentary tracks by the way.)

Anyway, I found out somewhere (I don’t even remember where, the act of finding out must have caused traumatic amnesia) that the uncut version was released on Blu-ray in the UK by 88 Films. You know, like I said at the top there. And did I order it right away? Oh yes I did. And here it is:


I bought it from an eBay seller, who asked me after I made the purchase if I was aware it was a UK disc that would only work on players that could accept Region 2 discs. As I had recently acquired a multi-region player, I let him know it was all good.

At this point he mentioned that he had been selling a lot of these, to which I replied “oh, here’s why” and gave him a short version of the above. Yes, I can achieve brevity when I want to, I know it’s hard to believe. He did not know about the initial DVD release and eventual replacement, and thanked me for the info! Also, there’s no real good way to explain you’re buying the UK edition of Swamp Thing to get the restored footage that features extra nudity without sounding like a real creep. I said “LOOK, I’M A SWAMP THING COLLECTOR!” which seemed to amuse him. I did get this nice note with the item:

I haven’t had a chance to properly watch it yet, but I did pop the two versions into the player and saw that there are different special features between the two versions. The interviews with the actors and creator Len Wein that were on the U.S. disc are not on the UK version, and the UK edition has a featurette about the comic/film connection discussed by a British film critic. The makeup artist’s commentary track on the U.S. disc is not on the UK one, but the UK edition does have an interview with the production designer. Both discs have commentary tracks from Wes Craven, but the UK disc says its Craven commentary has a moderator, so I suspect these are different recordings. I’ll know for sure once I give ’em a listen. Finally, a reason to get around to them!

One other thing I noticed is that, like the U.S. edition, the UK release contains both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film. However, while the Blu-ray is the 93 minute “UNCUT AND UNCENSORED EUROPEAN CUT” (as it says in all caps on the back of the case), the DVD is “89 mins approx.” So it looks like you’re getting both versions of the movie with this package.

Anyway, nice to have the complete film on Blu-ray, which is about as nice as it’s going to get until the 4K 3-D version comes out, at which point I’ll have to buy a new TV just to be able to keep watching Swamp Thing in the best possible way. And, as a warning to anyone of you young’uns over there in Jolly Ol’ thinking about buying or watching this movie for yourselves:


…sorry, must be this high to ride this movie. Come back in a few years, kid.

Start off your week with a cute Swamp Thing.

§ March 21st, 2022 § Filed under low content mode, pal dorian, swamp thing § 2 Comments


So that’s my little Swamp Thingie, gifted to me by pal Dorian. Neat, huh? Just a few inches tall, and I took that picture after I closed Sunday night and had turned some of the lights off, but it makes it good ‘n’ moody. Thanks, Dor!

As I noted last week, I have some early morning appointments throughout the week, so my blogging will be pretty slim again for a few days. Hopefully this is the end of it for a while, unless things go horribly wrong. I’ll be back Friday with more stuff. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll be back soon!

Fifteen years ago I would have had my rake and torch out.

§ September 17th, 2021 § Filed under swamp thing § 5 Comments

I almost don’t even want to talk about this now, after tweeting about it the other day and then doing an audio post about it on my Patreon. But someone’s seemingly silly assertion that “men only read Swamp Thing to feel smart by getting the literary references” is…quite the reach, to be honest.

I’ve never heard that particular observation before. I’ve never encountered that sort of behavior in regards to Swamp Thing comics in the wild. And I’m pretty sure the “literary references” were not the main focus of the comics and not what the readers glommed onto. For all I know, this person (who is also a comics writer) was just deliberately trolling Twitter users.

My initial fear — given the phrasing of “why do men…” — was that some unsavory comics “fan” online collective latched onto Swamp Thing and began singing its praises, tainting the character and comics for other, somewhat more socialized, folks.

But no, it was just a tossed-off question, with a boatload of responses coming to the defense of Swamp Thing comics. I did my own small defense in my Twitter thread linked above, and…well, honestly, it’s not something I really need to get all worked up about, says the guy writing a blog post about it. And who knows…I’ve never encountered anything like this, but maybe that person who wrote the tweet encountered some folks being all hoity-toity about Swamp Thing and caused that particular reaction?

I used to get really bent out of shape when it came to “someone is wrong on the internet!” type stuff, and in more recent years I’m trying to take it a little easier in regards to that sort of thing. Even this response is more out of “well, I’m a Swamp Thing fan, better say something about it” than “LET SWING THE FLAMING SWORD OF VENGEANCE” or anything like that. I just thought it was a weird comment for someone to say. But, eh, not like I haven’t spent nearly 18 years making weird comments on my own site here.

Anyway, I’m really just glad it wasn’t because internet weirdos decided Swamp Thing was “theirs” and ruined it for everybody. Look, I’m the internet weirdo in charge of Swamp Thing around here, and I’ll brook no challengers.

Don’t get me wrong, the fact that I could regularly read stories where Swamp Thing pals around with Detective Chimp is awesome.

§ June 4th, 2021 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 23 Comments

So I realize I’m probably expected to do a little something about the Swamp Thing anniversary this year (having debuted in House of Secrets #92 50 years ago as of about April). It’s also Man-Thing’s 50th, debuting in 1971’s Savage Tales #1, so overall it’s a good year for swamp monsters.

I expect I’ll get around to something eventually…or maybe this will the only acknowledgement. I honestly don’t know. I can’t say with all honesty “it’s been a great 50 years, here’s to 50 more!” because frankly things have kinda sorta fallen apart in regards to the Swamp Thing comics over the last ten years. Lemme ‘splain.

Well, actually, there’s not much ‘splaining to do. The New 52 relaunch sort of “broke the chain” of continuity between the Swamp Thing we had before and the later Swamp Thing. Part of the character’s appeal to me was its history, the sense that all of the events that happened to the character in its past have remained so, and continue to inform its future. Okay, granted, one or two things have been sorta kicked under the bed and not brought up again, but by and large I could (to use a phrase I’ve probably overused on this site) draw a line from the character’s 1970s comics all the way through to the end of Brightest Day. It was with the Brighest Day follow-up The Search for Swamp Thing and the New 52 relaunch that stuff went astray.

I won’t go into excruciating detail (again) but character elements were changed, Alec and Abby’s backstory changed, Arcane was an almost entirely different kind of creep, etc. Then with the advent of both creator Len Wein’s 2016 mini-series (which seemingly nullifies a significant part of the Alan Moore arc), and the digital-first stories where full-on Plant Elemental Swamp Thing is going up against…General Sunderland!? Well, that undoes another fairly significant part of Moore’s run. It literally plays havoc with the circumstances surrounding Swamp Thing’s evolution into the kind of character he is now.

Look, all the New 52 and later era work is fine on its own. Well, okay, not all, but most of it is perfectly serviceable. But for someone who’s followed the character for as long I have…not since the very beginning, but close…there’s a level of detachment. What I know of the character is not fitting with what they’re telling me about the character now, and it’s distracting. There are a number of stories that don’t require dependence on past continuity, of course, but once you remind me “Matt Cable is alive and he was never possessed by Arcane,” that throws me just a little. I feel…detached from what’s happening to the character.

Some of it is on me…given the vision troubles I’ve had over the last few years, I’m way behind on my comic reading. And some of the comics I haven’t read yet are Swamp Thing-related, such as the Walmart Giant issues (collected in a book that I have in place of said Giants, which I never found in the wild). My enthusiasm for the character having waned, I never made it a priority to catch up on those particular stories. I’m sure they’re perfectly good, but with everything else happening to Swamp Thing, I was in no rush to read more stories set in the same post-New 52 milieu.

Plus, on top of all that, there was my decision to not acquire every single appearance of the character, spurred on by this nonsense. I also stopped pulling both covers of Justice League Dark for myself if each had Swamp Thing on it. Being as behind as I am, the last thing I needed was more comic books floatin’ around the house. And besides, who am I trying to impress with A Complete Swamp Thing Comic Book Collection? It’s not like God won’t let me through the Pearly Gates when I die if I don’t have one. (Unless of course Wein and Wrightson are at his side, waiting for me, their arms crossed and shaking their heads in disappointment.)

Like I said in this post, I, The Guy What’s Read Swamp Thing Comics for the Last Several Decades, was not the target audience for these rejiggered relaunches. This rethinking of ol’ Swampy was designed to get newer readers ensnared, who likely hadn’t read all that early stuff.

Not to say everything is terrible, of course: Swamp Thing’s appearances in Justice League Dark gave me the month-to-month adventures that didn’t dwell a whole lot on his new backstory and almost felt “normal,” you know, more or less, guest-starring with Detective Chimp and everything. And the new mini, bringing in a new person as Swamp Thing with the Alec Holland Swampy primarily there to pass the torch…this may be the solution to finally getting past the character’s shattered history, and it helps that the comic is really good, too.

But anyway, in short, Swamp Thing is still my favorite comic character despite everything. I get that expecting editorial consistency on a comic book character in a shared universe in stories created by Many Diverse Hands is a bit of an ask. I mean, the Superman we got with the John Byrne reboot in 1986 is technically the same Superman we have now, though many of the details have changed over the decades. But I kind of expect that from superhero comics. I felt like Swamp Thing was different, like maybe folks were putting a little more effort into internal consistency over the years. That’s why just changing things for the sake of change (an endemic problem to the New 52 as a whole) was so disappointing.

• • •

On a related note, just recently we had a spate of “give me your controversial take on [comic character]” tweets on the Twitters (here’s my favorite iteration and my response). So of course I jumped in with “give me your controversial takes on Swamp Thing”. Got some good response, and some jokey ones, too, but c’mon, we’re all comedians on Twitter. But I plan on responding to some of those “takes” here in the near future.

Thanks for reading, pals, and keep in mind, despite all that stuff I said…I ain’t giving up my Swamp Thing slippers.

“Art is any Swamp Thing you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol (paraphrased)

§ April 14th, 2021 § Filed under pal plugging, swamp thing § 2 Comments

Look at these cool drawings customer Sarah gave me a little while back! The first is of that mossy gentleman Swamp Thing:


And the second is of a critter from the “Rotworld” storyline from the New 52 era…sorry if I don’t recall his/her/its name, as I haven’t committed that particular run to memory:


Pretty cool, right? Thanks to Sarah for gifting me with these fine pieces, and you can see more of her work at her Instagram thingie.

Did they ever explain how Matt Cable could be alive and one of Dream’s ravens at the same time? I can’t even remember.

§ December 9th, 2020 § Filed under swamp thing § 1 Comment

So we’ve got some new Swampy comics heading our way…first off is the Future State: Swamp Thing title, part of that two-month event starting off the new year, featuring the work of Ram V and Mike Perkins:


I see in an interview the book’s editor said one of the hooks for the story is “what is Swamp Thing, when it’s freed from Alec Holland” and I’m pretty sure the answer was “Alan Moore’s run ’til the end of Brightest Day but let’s see what goes on here, particularly in the context of the post-New 52 revamping of the character. The continuity hoohar involved in getting Alec Holland back into the Swamp Thing mix was…something else (a couple of posts of mine trying to make sense of it all here and here).

And, as far as I could figure, the business with Swamp Thing thinking he was Alec Holland, discovering he wasn’t Alec Holland, then that Swamp Thing being replaced with a Swampified ALec Holland, is all in New 52 (and Rebirth) continuity. Thus, this Future State special apparently gives us an unHollanded Swamp Thing yet again. Well, I’ll read it and see what they’re all up to, anyway. Maybe these comic and the follow-up series can hammer out some of the pre-New 52/post-New 52 inconsistencies. I mean, even creator Len Wein’s mini muddied those waters a bit.

Oh, did I say “follow-up series?” Because here it comes, a 10-parter from the same creative team, debuting after Future State wraps up:


I’m looking forward to these…I feel sort of like I lost the thread on Swamp Thing at some point, after he was relegated to team player in Justice League Dark and miscellaneous one-shot stories and appearances in those 100-page giants DC pushed for a while. I mean, not that any of it was bad, I just wanted a regular ol’ ongoing series where he was the headliner. Well, okay, this new book is a mini-series, but it’s a start, I suppose.

• • •

In other Swamp Thing news, Adrienne Barbeau talks about being in the Swamp Thing movie and the recent Swamp Thing TV show. Can never have too much Barbeau.

No, I never owned that weird “Spock” helmet (but I remember seeing it in stores).

§ December 7th, 2020 § Filed under swamp thing § 5 Comments

So I was no stranger to the Mego series of action figures, those 8-inch tall poseable dolls with fabric clothing and (usually) molded plastic accessories. As a Young Mikester I had the first two series of the Star Trek figures (as well as the amazing Enterprise playset and these “communicators.” And a whole bunch of other Trekkian products until Star Wars came out in ’77 and suddenly there was a whole new obsession into which my poor parents had to sink more of their household income. (I also had at least one Planet of the Apes figure, pretty sure just Generic Ape.)

Alas, the landfill was the ultimate fate of all these goodies, as we cleaned house years later and I, the smooth and cool teenager that I was*, decided to put away childish things.. Or at least dump them, like I did the tricoder out the truck window which I realized was still in the cab as we were leaving.

There had been reissues of some of the older Mego lines over the years, or at least lookalikes, and even new figures that never originally had Mego-esque releases, with the plastic bodies and the clothes and all that. I’ve admired the work on many of those, as they passed through either my previous place of employment or my own store, but I’ve never felt tempted at picking up any of these for my own collection.

Well, guess what happened. Yup, the Figure Toy Company (which specializes in Mego-likes) produced an officially licensed Swamp Thing figure in the classic style. Yes, with fabric clothing (which I poked a little fun at when first announced):


And that would indeed be the very figure I received in the mail just a few days after placing my order. No, I haven’t opened it yet, so I don’t know if under his leafy garments Swamp Thing is wearing little blue underwears like his Mego Star Trek cousins. …What? Anyway, it’s a good looking figure, definitely evokes the original Mego style. Good face sculpt, definitely not a repaint of Spider-Man villain the Lizard.

I’m not quite the Swamp Thing completist I used to be, and I really don’t need to be spending money of ridiculous stuff like this. But it brings a nostalgic smile to my face when I look at it, and after the year we’ve all had, who can blame me for wanting this?

 
 

* Please read with the intended sarcasm.

Yes, technically this is answering two questions from the same person.

§ October 5th, 2020 § Filed under question time, swamp thing, Swamp Thing-a-Thon § 3 Comments

Okay, boys and ghoooouls, let’s take a crack at the most recent batch of questions you fine folks decided to leave for me.

First off, Michael Grabowski reaches out with the following:

“Which are your favorite creative-combo takes on the Swamp Thing character in the comics?

“Actually, what I would really like to read would be a few blog posts with your deeper analysis of the more significant creative runs on the character & comic series, if I could make that request.”

Well, I’ve actually been asked this before! Probably not a surprise given how often I’ve been all “rah rah Swamp Thing-boom-bah” on this site, I suppose. About three years ago old friend of the site Rich had asked me to rank the creative teams, and I gave it the ol’ two-part college try here and here.

Now it’s not entirely comprehensive, but I hit most of the major teams of the first two series and touch a bit on the later ones (though I link to, and will link again here, extended discussions of that weird pre-New 52 mini and that Len Wein/Kelley Jones mini).

In that post I note I’ll need to do more of a re-read of the assorted Swamp Thing comic book series in order to have that material fresher in my mind for any sort of meaningful deep commentary. The plan was maybe to start rereading the comics that I hadn’t committed to memory, like, or, say everything published from the early 1970s until the early 1990s. The later runs were read and mostly enjoyed, but I’m not sure I can lay any details on you.

Anyway, my plan was derailed a bit as this was about the time I was beginning to have some vision issues (though I wouldn’t be properly diagnosed for another year). My reading was slowing down, and then stopped almost completely the following year. I couldn’t keep up with new stuff, much less re-read anything old.

Another thing my eyeball issues derailed was the plan for tempoarily-exclusive content on my Patreon, where I intended to do in-depth discussions of each issue of Swamp Thing in order. I talk about the Patreon at the end of that second Rank-the-ST-Teams post (and you can read the first installment for free here). But trying to read these comics in any real detail was becoming increasingly difficult, mostly because I thought I needed glasses (which yes, I did) but not realizing that I was having other severe physical issues with eyes beyond just poor sight.

Now that my vision issues have been stabilized and at least somewhat corrected, I would like to at least attempt at getting back to doing that issue-by-issue examination. Perhaps on a sporadic basis at first, just to allow for time issues, the fact that I am reading more slowly than I used to, and that I’m stupidly behind on new comics due to not having read anything for months. Except Doomsday Clock, I didn’t miss an installment of that.

At the very least I should publicly post the Patreon-only installments (still up at my Patreon!) like I said I’d do after sufficient time had passed. Maybe once I’m closer to starting that project up again. But my sincere thanks to everyone who kept contributing there.

So, Michael…no, I haven’t forgotten you in the middle of all this rambling nonsense…I did do something like you’d asked already, but more complete commentary on the other regular Swamp Thing creatives is still owed someday, pending my review of those documents.

Also, to answer your question from three years ago since I forgot to then:

“Was the Pasko/Yeates run published bimonthly? I seem to remember it that way but could be wrong. I do remember thinking that the big story took a long time to resolve, at least as 12-yr-old me processed time and waiting in those days.”

No, the Marty Pasko/Tom Yeates run of Saga of the Swamp Thing never went bimonthly. I was told at a comic book store around the time those comics were coming out, back when I was but a lowly and not the high-powered comic shop owner drunk with power I am today, that the series was about to go bimonthly, which worried me because that meant sales were lousy and the next step would have been cancellation. But then the Alam Moore era began and those bimonthly worries went away in short order.

As for the story feeling like it dragged on…that seemed to be a common sentiment at the time, as some fans weren’t thrilled with longish stories that demanded more patience and attention. (See also “The Trial of the Flash.”) But nowadays multi-part stories are more common than not, usually in six issue installments that entirely coincidentally make for a good trade paperback.

• • •

There we go, one question down that I think was answered somewhere in the midst of all that typing. If you want to throw a question in the hopper then hie yourself hither to this post to submit!

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