Archive | 12:13 pm

The Saturday Comics: Godzilla vs. Megalon

16 Jul

July 16, 2011

I think we’ve covered Big Apes pretty well this week so let’s give Godzilla some equal time.

Last week I discussed the origins of Godzilla vs. Megalon, so this week I present a rare, 4-page giveaway comic promoting the movie’s American release. For some reason it calls Gigan “Borodan” and Jet Jaguar becomes “Robotman,” and the text can be more than a little questionable (“The colossal, Hell-spawned misanthropoid fearfully known as Megalon,” “Godzilla realizes he stands little chance of subduing the boorish might of Megalon unassisted.”) but I am sure you will enjoy this.

My Very Own True Hollywood Story

16 Jul

July 17, 2011- morning

The Big Ape was a direct result of my computer illiteracy.

I won’t say that money was tight when I was growing up, but some years it was looser than others. I didn’t want for anything, but there were toys I knew I’d get and toys I knew I wouldn’t. For example, I had every Star Wars figure there was, but none of the vehicles or play sets. This wasn’t a problem as I took cardboard and construction paper and made my own cantina play set. It had a long bar and some tables and a place for the band and easily beat anything my parents would have bought me. Under any other circumstances a seven-year old making a toy bar would be cause for concern, but this was Star Wars and no one complained that George Lucas was encouraging kids to drink.

Not that my parents didn’t get me all the toys I wanted. One year Sears was having a sale on Mego figures. This was in December. The price was insanely low, and so were the prices on every other toy. It was a huge sale. Dad got there about an hour before the store opened and there was already a mob. As it got closer to opening time the crowd pressed up against the glass store front. According to Dad, you could see the glass bending inwards. They opened the doors and the mob, like a tidal wave, rushed the store. Mannequins crashed to the ground, people grabbed whatever they could, fights broke out. It was as bad as it sounds, probably worse. The police had to shut the store. Bottom line- Dad got me Batman, Robin, Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler, and even the Batcave. Dad knew how to throw his weight around.

So even though I may not have always had the most expensive toys, if there was something I needed I generally got it. For example, one year, this must have been the early to mid-80’s, Dad asked me if I wanted a computer.

I said no.

I had a manual typewriter. It was already old. It was a portable model and made a lot- A LOT of noise but it typed and I was happy. It was good enough for me. It was also good for my fingers. They got a nice workout on those heavy keys. This was the Commodore 64 era and I wasn’t too impressed with computers. Monochrome orange letters on black screen monitors the size of a Volvo with a screen the size of a tumor. The graphics of an etch-a-sketch. The processing power of a small calculator. I didn’t see the point.

Typing helped my writing improve because I had to be sure of what I was typing. I had to think ahead and outline. It was get it right or do it over. There was nothing worse than messing up a page with a typo at the bottom and having to redo the whole thing. I hated White-Out. Bear in mind though that I was using it for school work and so far the most creative thing that came out of my typewriter was fancy spacing. So I soldiered on for a few years until technology started to improve to the point that I was ready for an upgrade. Finally. This was the 90’s and it was time to step into the electronic era.

I bought an electronic typewriter.

I STILL didn’t see the point of a computer. The one advantage I saw was playing games, but I had whatever iteration of Nintendo was on the market back then so computer games were redundant. But an electronic typewriter had a huge selling point. This was the one feature I specifically looked for while typewriter shopping.

It had a one-line display.

I WAS THRILLED! I could see what I was typing in advance and catch a mistake before it typed out. Of course this meant that I had to teach myself to type without looking at the keys. It defeated the point if I wasn’t looking at the screen. Even though I had taken typing classes in school, my style of typing was generally of the “hit the key with whatever finger is closest” variety. It still is, but thanks to that screen I can do that without looking down. Well, not too much. Hey, it is a step over hunt and peck. I can type very fast this way.

This lasted me through most of college, believe it or not. But even so, there finally came a day when the typewriter just wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t meeting my needs. I was once again ready to upgrade.

I bought a word processor.

The internet was still new. I remember seeing strange letters like “http://www” stuck in front of strings of words without breaks in-between, and things like “.com” at the end. I had no idea what that was all about. When I finally got in front of a computer and saw a website I was not impressed. It was a website for a major car manufacturer but back then (it seemed to me) websites were mostly static screens with ads on them. Did I need a computer to get on the internet to see ads? I try to avoid ads, why would I seek them out?

The thing I really wanted in a word processor was a disc drive. I needed the ability to save files. I took my money and went shopping. I was essentially looking for an electronic typewriter with a display (I thought a three-line display would be a nice improvement) and some internal memory. And Brother actually made a model like that! I seem to recall that it was around $80 but I may be wrong. I was working and I could afford something a bit better so I checked out the higher-priced models. I bought, and $120 seems like the price, a Brother word processor with a disc drive and a separate monitor.

I felt like I was in the space age. I had a disc drive! And discs! I also had a fairly primitive monitor. Monochrome orange letters on black screen. But I could save! I was thrilled! I went to Staples and felt stupidly proud as I went to the computer section I had always had no use for and bought a box of discs. I felt like I was a part of a new technological fraternity.

So I could save and had a large (by my standards) screen but essentially it was a typewriter. It didn’t print any faster than my last machine and I still had to feed the paper one sheet at a time. But I had discovered that I could be creative with this word processor.

Yes, I realized that by using dashes and slashes I could make pictures.

I wasn’t that much of a creative writer back then. I was a very good technical writer but I was more of a drawing type of kid. Not that I was any good, but I drew. I had a really good imagination but it never came out in words, just pictures.

Enter my videotapes.

My favorite thing back then? The VCR. I taped EVERYTHING. A 3am showing of Bowery at Midnight? Yes! Bela Lugosi in Black Dragons? Yes! The episode of Get Smart with The Groovy Guru? Yes! So it is easy to see how I ended up with something like 250 tapes. Not nearly as big as some other collections I have seen, but they took up plenty of space in my apartment. And I taped everything on EP, so I had a full six hours on every tape. I filled them. If I had two 2-hour movies on a tape I’d never stick a 1 1/2 hour film on it, I’d start a new tape. Later I’d get a 2-hour film to finish the first tape and fill the second with four 1 1/2 hour films.

I was a bit compulsive.

So compulsive that I realized that I could use the word processor to create a list of all my movies. (I did and it ran 12 pages.) But it wasn’t just a list, I categorized all my movies. I wasn’t happy with “fiction,” “Western,” etc. I had my own categories. “Mad Scientists.” “Oriental Detectives. ” (Charlie Chan, Mr. Wong, Mr. Moto, etc.) And if a Charlie Chan movie had a mad scientist in it it went into both categories.

And then came the category that eventually blossomed into the Mr. Blog theme week you just endured: “Big Apes, Giant Dinosaurs, and Ants.”

It may not be too much of a surprise that this was my biggest category.

“Big Apes.”

Ah, that sounds good.

Anyway, I had this long list and I printed it all out and kept a copy with the tapes. I had the list, with penciled-in additions, for years, until the windows in my apartment were being replaced and a gust of wind blew them out of the living room and into the air outside of my living room, four stories up. Every last page blew away.

But hey, I still had it all saved on my word processor.

And now I started to write. Those three simple words “The Big Ape” inspired me. Having read five installments you know what it was all about, but there was more, much more. The machine could save files only up to a certain size; usually 20-30 pages depending on how many characters were on there.

I had four files of Big Ape material.

Frankly, a lot of it was silly. (Sillier than what made the cut this week, believe it or not.) I had entire lists of Big Ape films whose titles simply sounded funny. Some of it may have actually been funny. I had whole pages of strange dialogue from Big Ape movies. It wasn’t organized, but it was anywhere from 100-120 pages of Big ape material. And every word of it was backed up on disc.

So was my attempt at fanfic, Columbo Goes to the Village, a Columbo/Prisoner mash-up that I thought was pretty good.

By 1999 computers had started looking good to me so I bought one. I said all along I was late to the computer era. The word processor went up in the closet- along with the discs- and sat there for years until the closet got jam-packed and I threw it out. Of course, I kept the discs. No way was I losing the Big Ape material.

But I lost the Big Ape material.

What did I know about computers? I could get on the internet, that was about it. How was I to know that Brother word processors used a file type unreadable to anything but a Brother word processor? I found this out many years after I tossed the machine out. I spent a lot of time looking online for a program that would open the files but I never found one.

DO NOT tell me you know one. I will not be happy.

Eventually I upgraded to a computer that didn’t even have a disc drive and I tossed the unusable discs. That was the end of The Big Ape.

No it wasn’t. The idea never left me.

By this time I had become more of a creative writer. Oh, I am not saying I was any good, all I am saying is that I was a writer in the sense that I took a pen and wrote words on a page. I did some dopey stories and some dopier stories and eventually I started this blog.

If case you haven’t heard me say this before, I do this blog for one reason only- to amuse myself. It also serves the concurrent purposes of killing time and giving me something to do. However, it gave me a great excuse to, in 2007, recreate the original Big Ape tales.

Actually, it allowed me to improve them. There was nothing linear about the stories, in fact they were not so much stories as lists, snippets of dialogue, and things that sounded funny at time and probably were not. One thing I recall from the original list was a snippet of dialogue some bad guy shouted at the Big Ape, “fiddle-dee-dee, play to me!”

It is better lost.

For this 2011 repost I fixed a bit of bad spelling and grammar, redacted a line, but otherwise just added the picture at the top. I will not guarantee that I will never return to the Big Ape but I get a feeling that this is last major addition to the cannon, baring a line or reference here and there.

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