Tagged: Buck Rogers

Ray Bradbury, 1920 – 2012

Ray Bradbury, generally considered to be among America’s greatest writers, died Tuesday night in Los Angeles. He was 91.

The author of such modern classics as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury was born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, on Lake Michigan near the Wisconsin border. From these placid roots came a gargantuan imagination that gifted the world with nearly 30 novels and collections of his 600-plus short stories, helping the fantasy and science fiction genre shake the coils of its adolescent, bug-eyed monsters and big-breasted blondes image.

Heavily influenced as a child by futuristic imagery of Buck Rogers, Bradbury maintained his enthusiasm for the comics medium. When EC Comics William M. Gaines publisher “inadvertently borrowed” one of his stories for adaptation, Ray sent him a polite note informing Gaines that his payment check must have been lost in the mail. An enduring relationship quickly followed, and Bradbury’s work was adapted by such great artists as Wallace Wood and Al Williamson.

On a personal note, I had met Ray several times – the first at the premiere of his first play, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, directed by Stuart Gordon (later made into a movie by Gordon starring Edward James Olmos, Joe Mantegna, Esai Morales, Gregory Sierra and Michael Saad). One of those great moments in life came when I was asked to share an autograph table with Ray at the San Diego Comic Con; we spent some time talking about his fellow Waukeganite, Jack Benny. He was a marvelous, charming man – a surprisingly opinionated man who, despite his reputation as a science fiction author (which he denied; he was a fantasist), Ray Bradbury declined to fly in airplanes.

He helped inspire the imaginations of several generations. I can think of no greater tribute.



Art: Alex Ross
Art: Alex Ross
January 11th, 2011, Runnemede, NJ – The iconic legend Flash Gordon made his dynamic splash back into comics with Dynamite Entertainment with Flash Gordon – Zeitgeist!  Spinning off from that series is the prequel comic book series, Merciless – The Rise of Ming #1, which is written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Ron Adrian, with an incredible cover from Alex Ross and is in stores April 2012!  In issue #1, Prince Ming begins his rise to dominion over the entirety of Mongo! But who (or what) was Ming before he was ‘Merciless’? Find out here as the origin of one of science fiction’s preeminent villains is presented in all its diabolical details! Be sure to get Merciless – The Rise of Ming #1 in April 2012!


Art: Alex Ross
“In most heroic fiction, we (the readers, that is) never really question why the villains do very bad things. It’s always just assumed that evil is as evil does,” says writer Scott Beatty. “Ming is one of the great antagonists of science fiction. In many ways, he’s archetypal and the model for all intergalactic despots to follow. But he’s not just Ming. Everybody knows he’s Ming the MERCILESS. And he’s successful at being just that. Ming has a plan. For EVERYTHING. Readers of FLASH GORDON can think of MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING as “required reading” for the series’ central conflict. It’s a primer that reveals not just who Ming the Merciless is–well before he ruled all of Mongo–but just what he did to get there… and WHY he did it.”

Art: Alex Ross

Art: Alex Ross

“Scott [Beatty] has taken the groundwork laid by Eric [Trautmann] and Alex [Ross] in Flash Gordon and gone back in time to tell the tale of the Rise of Ming,” states Dynamite Editor Joe Rybandt. “This is the direct precursor to the story in Flash Gordon and presents the definitive origin of the universe’s most merciless dictator.”

Flash Gordon is the hero of a science fiction adventure comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond. First published January 7, 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip.

The original Flash Gordon comic strip follows the adventures of Flash Gordon, a handsome polo player and Yale graduate, and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov. The story begins with Earth bombarded by fiery meteors. Dr. Zarkov invents a rocket ship to locate their place of origin in outer space. Half mad, he kidnaps Flash and Dale, whose plane has crashed in the area, and the three travel to the planet Mongo, where they discover the meteors are weapons devised by Ming the Merciless, evil ruler of Mongo.

For many years, the three companions have adventures on Mongo, traveling to the forest kingdom of Arboria, ruled by Prince Barin; the ice kingdom of Frigia, ruled by Queen Fria; the jungle kingdom of Tropica, ruled by Queen Desira; the undersea kingdom of the Shark Men, ruled by King Kala; and the flying city of the Hawkmen, ruled by Prince Vultan. They are joined in several early adventures by Prince Thun of the Lion Men. Eventually, Ming is overthrown, and Mongo is ruled by a council of leaders led by Barin. Flash and friends return to Earth and have some adventures before returning to Mongo and crashing in the kingdom of Tropica, before reuniting with Barin and others. Flash and his friends would travel to other worlds and frequently return to Mongo, where Prince Barin, married to Ming’s daughter Princess Aura, has established a peaceful rule (except for frequent revolts led by Ming or by one of his many descendants). The long story of the Skorpii War takes Flash to other star systems, using starships that are faster than light.

Scott Beatty has worked extensively for the popular comic book publisher DC Comics since the mid ’90s. He is perhaps best known for his work on several encyclopedic guides to superheroes.  He has also worked writing comic books, recently contributing to the Wildstorm reboot World’s End with the series Wildstorm: Revelations and Number of the Beast.  Other projects include Buck Rogers, The Last Phantom, and Merciless – The Rise of Ming for Dynamite Entertainment.

Join the conversation on Twitter with #FlashGordon and on Dynamite Entertainment’s twitter page at http://twitter.com/DynamiteComics

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DENNIS O’NEIL: Comic Con Meets Greystache

It’s happening as I sit here typing, on a Thursday, about 30 miles due south of the village where I happily abide, and, barring as always the unforeseen, I’ll be in the midst of it sometime tomorrow, mingling with armies of strangers, gazing at exhibits both exotic and banal, almost certainly meeting folks I have known for decades but seldom see whelmed by noise and flashing lights and color and celebrities and hucksters and the breath of chaos…

I refer, of course, to the New York Comic Con. (You thought I meant Armageddon? Naw… but maybe next week…) This is the younger, but extremely vigorous sibling of the monstrous (in at least two meanings of the word) San Diego Comic Con, but it is no wimpy little brother. Like Athena, springing from the head of Zeus, the NYCC arrived burly and mature, though a bit disorganized, three years ago and has been growing ever since. I’ve heard that 75,000 attendees are expected at the con site over the next four days. (At the San Diego shindig I attended last year, there were 130,000 or 140,000 con goers, depending on who provided the information.) That this event, and its west coast equivalent, could not only exist, but prosper, is yet another sign of how much comic books, that lowly, despised publishing stepchild, have changed and gentrified since I shuffled into the office of Marvel Comics about 45 years ago.

There were conventions then, sure, but they were miniscule compared to the current iterations – a few hundred or later, and at most, a few thousand avid fans who were there, not to ogle celebs or buy cool t-shirts, but to share a love of a certain kind of storytelling. You may have heard me describe (at a convention?) accompanying Flo Steinberg to my first con at the McBurney YMCA in Manhattan: maybe a hundred citizens of various genders and ages wandering around the Y’s gym, a few tables bearing stacks of old comics for sale, and the afternoon’s big deal, a group of comic book professionals on the stage discussing…well, discussing something. I was among them, and that, of course, was to laugh – me, in the business a month or two, sharing an audience with men who had given joy to me on many a summer afternoon and Sunday morning, who shaped the medium in which I labored. I wonder what I said. Probably something. Ah, the arrogance of youth…

The biggest attraction, at the Y that day, was the presence of a genuine movie star: Buster Crabbe, the screen’s Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers, in the flesh. If I hadn’t been a blasé college graduate and Navy veteran who’d actually been to a foreign country, yessir, or if I’d had any sense of what popular culture is, I’d have been impressed.

But hey! I’m no greystache lamenting the good old days when, dang it, things was the way they oughta be, decent and proper. Things now are different, but they’re as decent and proper as the universe allows them to be.

Somebody say amen.

Recommended Reading: Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. Hey, have you ever actually read it? Or read it since you had to do so as schoolwork?

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

Buck Rogers Blasts Back To DVD in 2012

Buck Rogers Blasts Back To DVD in 2012

Coming to DVD 01/24/2012

According to www.tvshowsondvd.com, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Scaled-Back DVD Set announced with the Fan-Favorite 1st Season. The 6 single-sided disc package will be available in late January 2012.

Blast off to the 25th century with Buck Rogers, one of the most popular sci-fi heroes of all time! When 20th century astronaut William “Buck” Rogers (Gil Gerard) is awakened – 500 years after a deep space disaster! – to an Earth in recovery from nuclear war, he must join Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) against a galaxy of evil from the past, present and faraway future. Now with all 21 action-packed Season One episodes of the epic series the Associated Press called “razzle-dazzle good fun,” and featuring phenomenal guest stars including Jamie Lee Curtis and Julie Newmar, you can join these legendary intergalactic crime fighters for an adventure you won’t forget!

Season 1 cast

In 2004, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a DVD set of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – The Complete Epic Series, a 5-disc package (all double-sided DVDs) with the complete 2-season run of the show (32 episodes, including 5 double-length special episodes). The two seasons of the program were very different from each other, with the first 21-episode run (including 3 double-length installments) being based on Earth and having Buck, Wilma, and ambuquad robot Twiki (Felix Silla, The Addams Family‘s “Cousin Itt” and voiced by Mel Blanc, of “Bugs Bunny” fame) getting their mission directions from Dr. Elias Huer (Tim O’Connor) and the disc-like computer carried by Twiki, Dr. Theopolis (voiced by Eric Server, B.J. and the Bear). The opening credits were narrated by William Conrad (Cannon, Jake and the Fatman, and narrator on The Fugitive).

The second season (11 episodes, with the first two of them being double-length stories) had Buck, Wilma, and Twiki relocated to deep space, on board the starship Searcher, where they were led by Admiral Asimov (Jay Garner) and joined by Dr. Goodfellow (Wilfrid Hyde-White), the alien Hawk (Thom Christopher), and “superior” robot Crichton (voiced by Jeff Davis). This season was much less loved by fans, and likley has been most memorable for the (in)famous “off-think” scene (do a web search for that, if you’re not familiar with it). Since it was relatively short, however, Universal included it in their “Complete Epic Series” DVD release 7 years ago…a collection which is still officially in print as of this writing, and lists for $26.98 SRP. However, it’s become much harder to find than it used to be.

Universal has announced that on January 24, 2012 they will release Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Season 1, a collection of JUST the original Earth-based season with Dr. Huer, Dr. Theopolis. It also includes a galaxy of guest stars that include Pamela Hensley, Henry Silva, Roddy McDowall, Buster Crabbe, Jack Palance, Tim Robbins, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Markie Post, James Sloyan, Peter Graves, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gary Coleman, Ray Walston, Michael Ansara, Dorothy Stratten, Morgan Brittany, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Mary Woronov, Anne Lockhart, Dennis Haysbert, Jerry Orbach, Judy Landers, Julie Newmar, and Vera Miles. These 21 episodes running 1166 minutes come on 6 single-sided DVDs, presented in full screen video, English mono sound, and with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The original complete series release had no bonus material, and similarly there have been no extras announced for this title, either. Before anybody asks about a Blu-ray version, we’ll just point out that nothing at all has been said by the studio about a high-def disc release of this show. Cost for the Season 1 DVDs are $24.98 SRP and you can pre-order it from Amazon currently for $20.

Classic Comics Press Adds ‘Big Ben Bolt’ and ‘Cisco Kid’

Classic Comics Press Adds ‘Big Ben Bolt’ and ‘Cisco Kid’

Classic Comics Press is the little engine that could, a small operation that has produced lovely editions of many series, including The Heart of Juliet Jones and Mary Perkins On Stage. Publisher Charles Pelto and collections editor James Gauthier yesterday talked about those books and today, we continue to examine their plans. 

ComicMix: Irwin Hasen’s Dondi is quite unlike the others and is a forgotten gem. What’s the appeal for you?

Charles Pelto: I did it because of Irwin Hasen. Roy Thomas suggested I talk to Irwin and we instantly hit it off. Irwin is a hell-of-a-guy and after meeting him I wanted to do it for no other reason than to honor Irwin’s work. I would have liked to continue past Volume 2 but the sales just don’t justify it. But I was able to do two volumes, people seemed to enjoy it. And it’s too bad; the storylines in what would have been the third volume are some of Irwin’s best work.

James Gauthier: I remember growing up and reading it in the New York Daily News. Dondi was always a favorite. Since it has never been reprinted before I never had the opportunity to see the early strips from the 1950’s and so putting the books together helped answer many questions that I had. I always wondered how Dondi got to this country, how he came to be adopted and what his relationship was with Mrs. McGowan.

CMix: Irwin’s a terrific guy and quite the character. What’s his take on seeing these in print?

Pelto:  Irwin loves it. I happened to be there when Irwin saw the first copy and the look on his face was well worth the price of admission.

Gauthier: He was thrilled that people are able to experience the strip again, and it was great to be able to reprint the strip and see his reaction to it. So many of the great comic strip artists have passed away before they could see their work reprinted and preserved for future generations to enjoy. It’s nice that Irwin is still around to see them get reprinted.


George Tuska, 1916 – 2009

George Tuska, 1916 – 2009

Pioneer comic book and newspaper strip artist George Tuska
died yesterday at the age of 93.

It’s hard to imagine an artist with a greater pedigree.
Beginning in 1939, George worked on such features as The Avengers, Black
Terror, Buck Rogers, Captain America, Captain Marvel (both Fawcett and Marvel), Challengers of the Unknown,
Doc Savage, Green Lantern, The Hulk, Iron Man, Justice League of America
(a.k.a. “The World’s Greatest Superheroes” newspaper stip), Luke Cage, Planet
of the Apes, Scorchy Smith, Sub-Mariner, Superboy, Superman, T.H.U.N.D.E.R.
Agents, Teen Titans, Uncle Sam… and that merely scratches the surface.

George was a gentle man who once had taken the
extraordinary step of punching out well-known wiseass cartoonist Bob Powell
while working in the Eisner-Iger shop. Will Eisner said Powell, as brilliant an
artist as anybody in that hallowed shop, absolutely deserved it. The stuff of

On a personal note, George was drawing the Buck Rogers
newspaper strip during its final years, from 1959 to 1967. During that last
year, I was an unpaid intern at the National Newspaper Syndicate and was
allowed to contribute story concepts and ideas. As a 16 year-old, I was amazed
and thrilled to be working anywhere near
George Tuska.

Review: ‘Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon’

Review: ‘Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon’

Al Williamsons Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic

Flesk Publications, July 2009, $29.95

While Al Williamson did not create the legendary science fiction character, in many ways he inherited Alex Raymond’s artistic legacy. The artist was born in 1931, three years before [[[Flash Gordon]]]memorably hit the Sunday newspapers.

Raymond is considered one of the finest illustrators to work in syndicated comics, along with Hal Foster, with a photorealistic style that brought his world of Mongo and its varied denizens to life. While Buck Rogers was the first SF strip, Flash Gordon was the best as the stories were epic in scope. The landscape of Mongo was unlike any realm seen in comics before and through the years that special feeling evaporated in the hands of others. Until Williamson.

In 256 pages, we are treated to the three stories produced for King Comics in the 1960s, the short-lived imprint from King Features Syndicate in addition to the his adaptation of the unfortunate 1980 film that looked better than it played. There’s also Williamson’s last major series work, the miniseries produced for Marvel in 1994. The King material is exceptional because it was the first time original material had been produced for comics with the characters actually resembling their strip origins . It’s lush and fast-paced with Williamson actually writing the first story. His long-time collaborator, Archie Goodwin, one of the most respected people in the field…ever, wrote several stories and Larry Ivie also contributed a tale.

Williamson’s style was very much like Raymond’s and his settings and characters felt just right. The deering-do is quick-paced and while the stories tread familiar ground, they are still head and shoulders above much other science fiction in comics. The three stories, brief as they were, earned him the National Cartoonist Society’s Best Comic Book Cartoonist award. His movie adaptation didn’t win awards but earned him a new generation of fans who may have only known his name in association with the legendary EC Comics.


Buck Rogers returns in May with 25 cent #0 issue

Buck Rogers returns in May with 25 cent #0 issue

Dynamite Entertainment announces that its upcoming Buck Rogers comic book series will blast off in May with issue #0 with the low low cover price of 25¢.

"We’re planning Buck’s launch to be one of our biggest of 2009, one that will propel him into the comics future, "said Dynamite President Nick Barrucci. "We could think of no more appropriate way to welcome fans to this totally fresh take on one of comicdom’s first heroes than to offer his first new comics adventure in years at this incredible introductory price."

"Dynamite’s reinvention of Buck Rogers will follow the path Dynamite has blazed with its previous successful titles, and to ensure the comics audience can read the launch, we’re releasing the comic at a .25¢ cover price.  Dynamite is proud to be instrumental in re-inventing and continuing the legacies of  historical characters and their worlds with creators who can execute great stories.  We’re equally proud of the consistent critical and fan responses to our efforts, and are confident that Scott Beatty and Carlos Rafael will deliver.  We’re confident that Buck Rogers will extend Dynamite’s own tradition of creating and bringing together generations of fans in the most thrilling way possible, which is why we are launching it at an Introductory Priced.  This will allow retailers to stock it, and fans to try it, and see the quality, inexpensively."

According to series writer Scott Beatty "I can’t begin to describe my excitement in working with Dynamite and the Dille Estate to chronicle the all-new adventures of science fiction’s original spaceman, Buck Rogers."

"Buck is a sci-fi icon. We wouldn’t have STAR TREK or STAR WARS or many of the familiar trappings of the genre without the trails blazed by Buck with his trusty ray-gun and jet-pack. And with that in mind, I’m humbled by the fact that I get to work with such an important and indelible literary creation.

Featuring covers by John Cassaday on the series– and a special variant cover on issue #1 by Alex Ross– with story by Scott Beatty, and interior art by Carlos Rafael, Dynamite predicts Buck Rogers will be the smash hit sci-fi and adventure series of 2009 (and beyo-o-o-o-nd).

Frank Miller Moves from Central City to 25th Century

Frank Miller Moves from Central City to 25th Century

No sooner did Buck Rogers get optioned for a feature film this summer than the rumors named Frank Miller as the director, something that everyone involved has denied until now.  The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both say Odd Lot Entertainment is close to signing Miller to adapt the comic strip to the screen.

Odd Lot hired Miller to direct The Spirit, which opens on Christmas Day and producer Deborah Del Prete let slip in October that Miller would move to the science fiction hero next. Odd Lot obtained the rights from Nu Image/Millennium, which has been holding the rights since the summer, obtained from the Dille Trust. The Trust is headed by John Flint Dille, a longtime friend of Miller’s, and he may have started the rumor at the time of the deal.

Miller will reportedly write and direct the adaptation which will likely follow his personal dark vision of dystopias.

Acclaimed for his work in comics on Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns, his film work has been less well received starting with his work on RoboCop 2.  His Sin City was a major success and 300 was based on his Dark Horse graphic novel, although it was adapted by Zack Snyder.  Miller is making his solo debut on The Spirit, based on Will Eisner’s legendary comic strip.  Early reviews broke yesterday and have been uniformly negative.  This could well be the second straight super-hero misfire from Lionsgate, which delivered Punisher War Zone DOA earlier this month.

Buck Rogers was based on a 1928 novella, Armageddon 2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan which appeared in Amazing Stories. It quickly spawned a sequel and the stories caught the imagination of John F. Dille, president of the National Newspaper Service syndicate. He brought the feature to the newspapers as a comic strip in 1929, coming to own the property. America’s first SF comic strip, it was written by Nowlan with art by Dick Calkins. Through the years, the strip was graced with terrific art from the likes of Murphy Anderson and George Tuska, until it ended in 1967. The strip was revived in 1979 by artist Gray Morrow and writers Jim Lawrence and Cary Bates lasting until the strip’s ending in 1983.

Buck Rogers has appeared in comic books (with stunning Frank Frazetta art), serials (with Buster Crabbe), a four-times-a-week radio serial from 1932 through 1947; a 1950 half-hour television series and the 1979 NBC series (the horrible adaptation with Gil Gerard).

The Dille Trust under Flint Dille has repeatedly attempted to revive the character for modern audiences through Role Playing games, comics and media. All the attempts have yet to capture the fancy of today’s audiences.

Buck Rogers to Visit ‘Sin City’

Buck Rogers to Visit ‘Sin City’

It’s pretty amazing what people accidentally will say on the red carpet at awards shows.  The most recent example happened over the weekend when The Spirit producer Deborah Del Prete referred to her next project with director Frank Miller was an old sci-fi hero.  This virtually confirmed the rumor that began over the summer that Miller would tackle the first SF comic strip character.

When the rumor first surfaced over at IGN, Nu Image/Millennium Films quickly told him “that no deal is set yet for the rights or Miller, and that they are still mulling over director contenders.”

IESB’s Robert Sanchez could not get Del Prete to confirm if she was referring to Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, both of whom have been optioned for film this year.  The site did some additional digging and report, “sources very close to the Miller camp…confirmed the sci-fi hero that Del Prete made a reference to was indeed Buck Rogers.”

Nu Image/Millennium Films has not confirmed the report for IESB but Del Prete insisted Miller will have an announcement shortly.

Buck Rogers was based on a 1928 novella, Armageddon 2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan which appeared in Amazing Stories. It quickly spawned a sequel and the stories caught the imagination of John F. Dille, president of the National Newspaper Service syndicate. He brought the feature to the newspapers as a comic strip in 1929, coming to own the property. America’s first SF comic strip, it was written by Nowlan with art by Dick Calkins. Through the years, the strip was graced with terrific art from the likes of Murphy Anderson and George Tuska, until it ended in 1967. The strip was revived in 1979 by artist Gray Morrow and writers Jim Lawrence and Cary Bates lasting until the strip’s ending in 1983.

Buck Rogers has appeared in comic books (with stunning Frank Frazetta art), serials (with Buster Crabbe), a four-times-a-week radio serial from 1932 through 1947; a 1950 half-hour television series and the 1979 NBC series (the horrible adaptation with Gil Gerard).

The Dille Trust under Flint Dille has repeatedly attempted to revive the character for modern audiences through Role Playing games, comics and media. All the attempts have yet to capture the fancy of today’s audiences.