Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Many thanks to Richard Sala for this rare old photograph of the great Bela Lugosi!

Friday, April 22, 2011

THE SPIDER Halloween Special

I'm a very lucky writer.

I was just offered to write a special Halloween issue of The Spider and, of course, I've enthusiastically agreed. This will be somewhat outside the continuity I'm establishing within the regular series, but the time-line will be connected. Think of it as sort of a Spider Annual! I'm very excited!

The extraordinarily prolific Jay Piscopo, our colorist on the regular Spider comic book series, has agreed to draw this Halloween story for Moonstone. Jay and I already have some very cool stuff cooking on this one. If that wasn't enough to celebrate, our immensely popular Spider cover artist, the fantastic Dan Brereton will be painting the cover for this one-shot issue, as well!

We're calling this
adventure "The Werewolf War Massacres." I have a full 30 pages to play with this time and will be focusing more on the dual personality of Richard Wentworth, featuring a glimpse into secret horrific events during World War One which birthed The Spider, Master of Men!

And, yes, this story does feature the Spider Vs. Werewolves!

Coming this October from Moonstone!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Remembering the Sinclair Dinosaurs

Lately, for no particular reason, I've been on a nostalgic kick for vintage Sinclair Dinosaurs. Anyone else remember these as fondly as I do?

Back when seeing anything dinosaur-related was very rare--quite unlike today--the Sinclair stations were very special places.
While riding down Dixie Highway on a trip to visit my cousins in the country, sights like this were always a most anticipated and majestic vision from the backseat of our 1960 Chevy Impala.

These big green Brontosaurs used to grace the rooftops of nearly all the Sinclair gas stations when I was a kid. I specifically looked forward to a ride in our car just so I could see them again. Of course, these were the days when filling up the tank at Sinclair might cost you a whole two dollars and you'd also get a free gift, almost always dinosaur-themed.

Last week
I received a classic 1950s Sinclair Brontosaurus bank for my birthday. Can't tell you how much I love this goofy green piece of plastic. Never had this "giveaway" before, as they were a bit before my time, but I've always wanted one.

Those who say that the good ol' days weren't better, obviously never lived during them.

Apparently, there are a few Sinclair Stations today that continue the tradition of featuring their dinosaur mascot on the lot! They're sleeker, and a bit more paleo-accurate, but it's great to see that some of these guys are still around.

Sinclair was also directly responsible for one of the happiest days of my life.

Imagine being a seven year old dinosaur-obsessed kid riding in the car on a trip to visit your grandmother in Louisville, Ky. and suddenly seeing THIS in a shopping center parking lot!

Almost unbelievably, my dad actually stopped the car so I could scamper out to explore the mighty beasts close up! What an adventure!

By the way, that young fella in the pics isn't me--he's sort of my spiritual brother, and comic book collaborator,
cartoonist extraordinaire, Terry Beatty. That's him in the tan shirt up above, standing in front of the Triceratops, and cuddling up to the baby Brontosaurus which I also got to caress, photographed when the same Dinosaur show invaded Des Moines, Iowa. My own parents didn't have a camera with us on that great day of the Sinclair Dinosaur Traveling Exhibit, but very luckily Terry's dad did. (Thanks for the pics, pal!)

I vividly remember how utterly real the Tyrannosaurus rex seemed, you expected to see him come to jaw-snapping life at any moment. He was easily my favorite from the Sinclair Exhibit, although all of their life-sized ultra-realistic dinosaurs were beautiful and brilliant to behold.

And if you wanted
a photograph of the entire length of the Sinclair Brontosaurus you had to snap it from all the way across the highway. He was over seventy feet long. Absolutely amazing to see in person!

I wonder if these other kids still remember that day and fondly as I do?

One of the cool
perks you got to purchase while visiting the Sinclair Dinosaurs (did I mention the exhibit itself was free?) were these inexpensive waxy dinosaur figures, which you got to make yourself in a molding machine. You can see that my friend Terry is holding the Stegosaurus in one of his photos. I had that one, too, as well as the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Ankylosaurus.

I think they cost about twenty-five cents each, so my mom spoiled me that day. Sure wish I still had these dinosaur toys, but they were rather fragile and sadly began to disintegrate on their own just a couple years later.

Here is an awesome Courier Journal newspaper photograph of the Sinclair Dinosaurs on their trek down the Ohio River toward their Louisville, Ky. destination, where I originally saw them. It's like a scene from a 1950s John Agar movie!

I suppose I should explain that these life-sized dinosaur statues were originally from the Sinclair Oil Company's 1964 World's Fair display. Luckily, the snooty Smithsonian refused to accept them afterward, so they dynamically toured the highways delighting kids all across the nation. For me, it was the greatest thing ever.

the Sinclair dinosaurs were relocated across the country: Ankylosaurus went to the Cleveland Zoo, Corythosaurus to Independence, KS. Stegosaurus ended up at Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal, UT, and Struthiomimus at the Milwaukee Museum. Tyrannosaurus rex and Brontosaurus landed in Glen Rose, TX. in 1970 (shown here).

The Triceratops, very happily, found a home in the Louisville Zoo where I visited it often when I was a kid. The whereabouts of the others are unknown.

The following picture
was begging for a story, so I wrote one to fit it in my upcoming novella, The Halloween Legion. This atmospheric, dream-like photo also reminded me of riding in the back seat of the car, after visiting my cousins way out in the sticks of Kentucky, when I was a kid. I stared at the blackened treeline as we drove by, imagining them to be the gigantic silhouettes of dinosaurs.

Trees at night take on just as many fantastic, recognizable shapes as clouds do in the daytime. The glance of our headlights seemed to give the resurrected beasts a spark of hallucinatory animation for a second or two, completely creeping me out. There was an anciently immense willow tree that looked for all the world like Godzilla in profile, complete with his distinctive dorsal spines! It was pure magic.

scene from my opening chapter was purely inspired by the Sinclair gas station rooftop Dinosaurs. I owe them a tremendous lot for positively energizing my imagination in my formative years. Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals have been a part of me ever since. I even worked among real dinosaur fossils in a museum ten years ago before returning to writing full-time. That was a very happy time.

It all started with the Sinclair Dinosaurs. Because of them, I'm sure The Halloween Legion won't be the last time I put a dinosaur in one of my stories.

The Halloween Legion © Martin Powell. Artwork © Danny Kelly
(Click on the pictures for larger images.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grab 'Em Before They're Gone

My latest children's book, The Elves and the Shoemaker, seems to be selling quite nicely!

Amazon lists only two copies left! If you missed it, you might want to snatch up your copy before they're all gone.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

THE SPIDER # 2 Sneak Peek

The Spider
# 2: "Blood Reign of the Thunder King."

The Spider faces a mastermind of monstrous power, The Thunder King—who wields the tempests of the heavens like a scythe, holding New York in a reign of unrelenting terror. In the flooding avenues below, Nita Van Sloan, the Spider’s beloved, alone and against the odds, risks all to save the helpless victims of the drowning city.

Written by Martin Powell. Illustrated by Hannibal King. Coloring by Jay Piscopo. Cover by Dan Brereton. Published soon by Moonstone.

Coming Soon...

(Click on pictures for a larger image.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Frankenstein Returns

You are looking at an authentic 1961 original Frankenstein monster model kit from Aurora,
one of my most prized possessions.

Anyone who knows me pretty well will instantly realize the importance of this particular gift, but there's even more to it than meets the eye.

I received this a very long time ago, as a birthday present, and my mom had my cousin Terry build and paint the kit for me.

I admired Terry tremendously as I was growing up. He was kind and generous to me, and always seemed interested in what I was doing. Artistically inclined himself, Terry inspired and encouraged my yearning to write and draw. He also took me on my first motorcycle ride. Little wonder why I thought he was so cool.

Very sadly, Terry passed away quite unexpectedly a couple months ago, so this Frankenstein model has become even more sentimental to me.

It is now displayed on my desk in his memory.

Thanks,cousin Terry. This has meant the world to me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Art of THE SPIDER by Dan Brereton

Here's a
peek at Dan Brereton's iconic cover for The Spider # 4, also featuring the lovely Nita Van Sloan.

All of Dan's Spider paintings have been fantastic, but this one is my favorite. I love the weird romantic atmosphere.

Thanks, Dan!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dark Shadows Ends 40 Years Ago

Amazingly, it was forty years ago yesterday that the final episode of the original
Dark Shadows television series was aired on ABC-TV, bringing to a close 1,225 installments, and nearly five years of stories, for the haunted residents of Collinwood...leaving fans like me with some very wonderful memories.

Dark Shadows
-- June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. A Dan Curtis Production.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Dinosaur Doctor

This science fiction story,"The Dinosaur Doctor", penciled by Seppo Makinen and inked by the late Alan Larsen, was one of the earliest comic book scripts I ever wrote, and the very first story I ever had published. "The Dinosaur Doctor" appeared in the first issue of Creepy Tales by Pinnacle Comics in 1986.

In those days I was, and still am, keenly fascinated in paleontology and at that time my formal education was focused along those lines. At a visit to a museum I observed a Mesozoic insect fossilized in amber. Although it was over 150 million years old, the insect looked very much like a modern horsefly. I remember being dazzled by the notion that this prehistoric fly had very likely touched and tormented the dinosaurs, much as swarms of similar insects do to animals today. That fly might even have sucked dinosaur blood.

Suddenly, this story popped in my head. What if a scientist was able to extract the dinosaur blood from the stomach of the insect, and reproduce the saurian DNA in order to resurrect a herd of the extinct animals?

Mind you, this was a number of years before Michael Critchton's
Jurassic Park was published, and much earlier than Steven Spielberg's massive movie blockbuster rampaged in the theaters.

So, for whatever it's worth, Seppo, Alan, and I were there first.

I still feel great gratitude to Alan Larsen for getting me started in comics during those early days. Just a couple years later Seppo and I teamed-up again with our Sherlock Holmes/Dracula mystery adventure, Scarlet in Gaslight, and our careers finally caught fire. Without Alan Larsen's encouragement, I suspect I might have missed out on a lot of opportunities.

"The Dinosaur Doctor" is dedicated to his memory.

Thanks so much, old friend.

The Dinosaur Doctor © Martin Powell and Artwork © Seppo Makinen.

(Click on the pictures for larger, more readable image.)