Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Alex the Droog action figure

A Clockwork Orange Action Figure
Alex DeLarge ONE:12 Collectible Figure
Mezco, 2018

Just in time for Christmas 2018 comes your very own Alex the Droog Action Figure !!!!!

Made for the higher-end action figure collector, this 'ONE:12' series reproduction stands about 6.7 inches tall. It's available from your favorite online retailers (pricing can vary, but is usually around $80).

Mezco also is marketing a 12" Alex figure in a traditional 'window box' package, with just the cane and a single mask as accessories, for around $40. I'll have a post on that figure forthcoming. 

Note that to complicate things even further, Mezco also makes a 'stylized' 8.5 inch Alex DeLarge action figure with a 'big head', also priced at around $'s easy to confuse these three models of action figures.

The ONE:12 edition of the action figure is elaborately packaged in a special slipcase box.

Your Alex figure comes with all sorts of clever accessories: a cane and knife; a glass of milk straight from the Korova Milk Bar; seven interchangeable hands; and two different interchangeable heads - one representing Alex in all of his Droog glory, the other, his visage battered after being worked over by his former mates 'Dim' and 'Georgie'.

I can't help laughing to think what the reaction would have been to such an action figure had it been released alongside the film in 1971. I'm sure there would have been a tsunami of outrage. It just goes to show you how times have changed.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Hex issue 1

Issue 1
by Michael Fleisher (story) and Mark Texeira
DC Comics, September 1985

By the Summer of 1985 it was becoming clear to the comics publishers that the rise of dedicated comic book shops was going to revolutionize the sales and marketing of comics. 

This was welcome news, for this 'direct market', as it came to be called, was likely to rescue the entire industry from extinction as newsstand sales plummeted, and more and more distributors became indifferent to comic books and the few cents of profit they earned from each sale. 

Superhero titles were the main beneficiaries of the direct market, which led DC comics to contemplate reducing its lineup of non-superhero titles, particularly ones with poor sales records. A potential casualty of this attitude was the long-running comic Jonah Hex, which by 1984 was a bimonthly title.

As is detailed in essays available at DC in the 80sOne Fangirl's Opinion, and Matching Dragoons (warning: they have spoilers) longtime Hex writer Michael Fleisher was willing to radically change the title in an effort to revive sales.

'Hex', which debuted in September 1985, sent its hero into the year 2050, into a United States turned into a mashup of post-apocalyptic pop culture references like Mad Max, Escape from New York, and even the 1983 B-movie Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn

Below is the contents of the first issue of 'Hex'. If there is interest, I'll post additional issues.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Book Review: Stellar 6

Book Review: 'Stellar 6' edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey

1 / 5 Stars

'Stellar 6' (186 pp) was published in January 1981. The awful cover art is by Jon Lomberg. 

This is the sixth volume in the 'Stellar' series, which began in 1974. Ultimately, 7 volumes were published. All of the stories in the series were first-time entries.

I had misgivings about picking up this title: the 'Stellar' series was inaugurated as an alternative to the sf anthologies of the early 70s that showcased stories associated with the New Wave movement. 'Stellar' was designed as an outlet for all-original stories that represented traditional sf, with an emphasis on plots that dealt with the 'hard' sciences. However laudable this goal, it did mean that some of the entries in a given 'Stellar' anthology could be bland and underwhelming. 

This is the case with 'Stellar 6', which shows signs that the series was running out of steam by the early 80s.

My capsule summaries of the entries:

Till Death Do Us Part, by James P. Hogan: in the near future, the wealthy can arrange to temporarily occupy a 'manufactured' body via downloading their persona into the body. A con man looks to take advantage of this technology.

This is the best story in the anthology. In some ways it has a proto-cyberpunk flavor, which Hogan combines with the theme of 'committing the perfect crime.'

All Ye Who Enter Here, by Jack Williamson: a team of four astronauts journeys to Jupiter to conduct an up-close investigation of the Great Red Spot. There is much interpersonal conflict en route.

While the concept is promising, the story can't rise above the limitations of Williamson's history as a pulp writer. Characters in 'All Ye' don't just speak; they rasp, they gasp, they grit, and they even grate....when these verbs accompany awkward dialogue, it's clear that Williamson's prose style is stuck in the 40s.

A Gift of Space, by Margaret C. Hewitt: In the future, genetic testing determines an individual's occupation. When a young man desperate to be a space pilot learns that a congenital condition will disqualify him from flight school, Dr. Hannah Kemp is asked to bend the rules.......

This is a competent, if not overly exciting, story that examines the conflict between the promotion of humanistic values, while also adhering to standards that are designed to promote the greater good of a society. 

The Cerebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras III, by Martha Dodson and Robert L. Forward: Dodson (Forward's wife) co-authored this tale with her husband. It has something to do with the efforts of a scientist to use combinations of DNA from different animals to endow a frog-like alien species with expanded intelligence. It's very dull.

Cinderella Switch, by Anne McCaffrey: at the annual ball held on the grounds of the Official Residence on Formalhaut 5, three young rakes vie for the attentions of a beautiful woman who arrives without an invitation. There is witty repartee. Yep.........this story is that lame.

Byte Your Tongue !, by Clifford D. Simak: a computer named Fred, designed to service Senators in Washington DC, dreams of flying the world's first starship. 

The best thing I can say about this story is that it's not as corny as McCaffrey's........

Grandfather Clause, by L. Neil Smith: veteran time traveler Bernie Gruenblum resents having to take his misbehaving grandson Ellington to the Temporal Museum. 

Smith tries to imbue this story with the sort of quirky, Borscht Belt humor promoted by writers like Ron Goulart, event to the point of rendering Ellington's lisped dialogue phonetically. The result is.........painfully trite.

The Slow-Death Corridor, by Mark J. McGarry: in a vast hospital complex located a kilometer underground in the Edmonton Sector, Davis Mergensohn has a job attending to the inert bodies of those who are clinically dead, but exploited for use as living biofactories.

This story has an interesting, even provocative premise, but fails to do much of anything with it, focusing instead on the psychological and emotional turmoil associated with.........unrequited love. Huh ?!

Summing up, 'Stellar 6' is a dud. With the exception of James Hogan, its contributors were content to 'phone in' manuscripts from their personal slush piles. Anyone reading this anthology in 1981 would have been justified in thinking that sf was a genre in its dotage......

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Men of the Legion Part Two

Men of the Legion
Part Two
Alfredo Grassi (story) and Alberto Salinas (art)
from Merchants of Death, Eclipse Comics
Issue No. 4, November 1988

The torture scene in this episode is a bit graphic........but that's what you got, in your Spanish adventure comics of the mid-70s.................

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Men of the Legion Part One

Men of the Legion
Part One
Alfredo Grassi (story) and Alberto Salinas (art)
from Merchants of Death, Eclipse Comics
Issue No. 3, October 1988

Reader Tom Dulski asked for these two stories from Merchants of Death to be posted here to the PorPor Books Blog.

Eclipse editor and publisher Catherine Yronwode provided no information in either issue 3 nor issue 4 of Merchants of Death as to the origin of 'Men of the Legion'. I had to do some Google digging to discover that the strips originally appeared in 1975, as a comic published in Spain (?), called Hombres de la Legion

Argentinian artist Salinas (1932 - 2005) provided exemplary art for comics publishers in Europe and the UK during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. You can get a sense of just how talented Salinas was by his depiction of the quasi-psychotic Sergeant Lebrun (then again, what French Foreign NCO isn't psychotic ?) in this particular panel. Art of this caliber is quite rare in contemporary comics, that's for sure.

Salinas's penmanship for these stories is compromised the low-res reproduction in the original Merchants of Death magazines, and I've had to increase the contrast on the scans to try and improve things.

Part One is below; Part Two will be the following post.