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Happy Birthday Gojira

  Haruo Nakajima (l) and Katsumi Tezuka (r) 1964, on the Mothra vs. Godzilla set 

In 1954, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka had little time to come up with a replacement movie idea for Toho’s schedule when production of a current movie was abruptly cancelled. While on a flight from Jakarta to Tokyo, he stared out into the sea and his thoughts turned to the recent tragedy of Lucky Dragon No.5

 Storyboard sketch from “Godzilla” 1954 

Mr. Tanaka ran with this idea and combined it with the premise of an upcoming American film titled “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms“. The concept was about a dinosaur awkakend by nuclear tests in the Arctic, and was modified to H-bomb tests in the South Pacific. The original title was “Kaitei Niman-ri Karakita Daikaiju” or “The Giant Monster from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea“. Code named “Project G”, mystery/fiction writer Shigeru Kayama was brought on board to come up with a treatment based on his and special effects genius Eiji Tsuburaya’s ideas. 

  Promotional poster for Godzilla 1954

Not since 1938 had there been a monster movie in Japan, so director Ishirō Honda was hired and soon the treatment was a screenplay. Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, and as the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero. But Godzilla’s attacks on Tokyo were seen as an incarnation of war itself, and the company’s approach was to treat this “monster movie” as seriously as they would treat any other production. A monster movie with a social conscience. 

  American lobby card for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” 1954

The origin of the name Gojira is shrouded in mystery…legend has it that a nameless Toho employee who worked on the lot apparently had the physical prowess of a gorilla and the stature of a whale (kujira). Gorilla + kujira = Gojira. As legend has it…

  Godzilla stars Akira Takarada and Momoko Kochi and an unfinished Godzilla suit 1954

The suit itself weighed in at a whopping 220 lbs, and  2 separate actors switched back and forth when filming became to physically exhausting. It was cut into 2 sections for different shots and there was even a hand puppet Godzilla used for his nuclear breath close-ups.

  Haruo Nakajima and Godzilla 1966

61 years ago today, Godzilla was unleashed on the public. And Tokyo has never been the same. 

  Eiji Tsuburaya on set 1955

Peter Mui’s tattoo art collection 


“YellowMan founder Peter Mui had only two fears: throwing a party and having nobody show up, and stage fright. But Monday evening, October 19th, 2009, at the Hiro Ballroom in NYC, Peter Mui was center stage to a packed house filled with an extremely diverse crowd, assembled together to honor his life and his legacy. The Hiro Ballroom, at the Maritime Hotel in NYC’s Chelsea district, set a fitting atmosphere of cultural diversity, an attribute that was important to Peter Mui.” (From Yellowman’s WordPress blog)


 Peter in his offices in the fashion district NYC 

In 2007 I was approached by Peter to contribute to his t-shirt line, Yellowman, and little did I know just what I was in for. I knew he had approached other tattoo artists to design shirts (ala Ed Hardy on steroids style) but I didn’t know exactly how extensive his collection had already become. 

This was tattoo art as high fashion. And Peter was not joking around. I had a meeting with him at his offices to discuss different properties he was considering, and to my surprise the entire collection was there in his office. 

Original large scale pieces of artwork by some of this generations leading tattoo artists were scattered all over the room. Art by Japanese greats Horiyoshi 3 and Horitomo, Filip and Titine Leu, California greats like Aaron Cain and the crew at Black Heart tattoo, and American Traditional master Bob Roberts among others. The list went on and on with plenty of other American and European artists being represented by their art, it was an amazing sight to behold. 

And now, for the first time ever, part of this amazing assortment ment can be seen and purchased. Live Auctioneers is selling over 500 pieces from Peter’s personal collection, and it’s quite possibly the largest accumulation of art by tattooers EVER. 

Instead of posting pictures from the pieces that are already being sold via their website, I decided to share some of the other artwork that hasn’t hit the chopping block yet. Here are some of my favorites:

 By Aaron Cain 

 By Horitomo 

 By Phil Holt 

  By Filip Leu 


 A few more by Aaron Cain


 By Chris Conn

And last but not least, here are a few of my Marvel Ink shirts that made print, but that’s another story for another time…

Peter Mui was a true patron of the arts, and a great guy to boot. It’s wonderful that the public finally has a chance to see what Peter had done for/with tattoo artists. Although he had no tattoos himself, he had planned traveling the world and working on a body suit before his untimely demise. Which is too bad, because anything Peter did was an adventure. Just ask anyone who knew him.

Below are photos I took at his memorial in 2009. R.I.P. Peter, I’m a better person for knowing you. You got me enthusiastic about making art again, and for that I am truly grateful. 


Balto comic con 2015

Well another Baltimore Comic-Con has come and went, and as usual, it was as fun as ever. The costume contest gets bigger and bigger every year, but due to a seemingly last minute scheduling change, I ended up missing it this go ’round. But there were still enough great costuming to be seen, and please remember, all these are 100% hand made (for the most part) and cosplay has become a huge attraction for these types of events. The fans put in tremendous hours of work into their craft, so sit back and enjoy some of my favorite costumes from this year. See you next September…


And of course we can forget about this guy:

King Kirby at Komic Kon

Went to the always exciting Baltimore Comic-Con today, and as usual it was Kirby Madness…

One of my favorite dealers always brings a good chunk of Jack Kirby originals to the show, and this year was no exception. This time he had a bunch of original penciled pieces, and here they are for your viewing pleasure! 

 Some of Jack’s work for DC comics New Gods  

Some unpublished/incomplete concepts for Malibu comics (possibly?)

These should be recognizable…

And although this piece is inked, it still is glorious and just imagine the possibilities 

And just for the sake of it, some vintage classic splashes and covers. This is why they called him King.


Frank Frazetta by Frank Frazetta Jr.

Great news Frazetta fans! Starting this May, the newly re-modeled Frank Frazetta Art Museum will reopen until September. 

From the Frazetta Art Museum website: “After nearly 5 years, My wife Lori and I reopened the doors to accommodate the patrons for the first time as sole proprietors. The museum and estate property was previously owned and operated by my parents since 1971. Exhibiting my personal collection of my fathers art made it all worth the time and effort we both put forth in acquiring the estate property. With sole ownership, I had my personal concept on how to present my collection of my fathers art and memorabilia to the fans.” – Frank Frazetta Jr. 

Frank and Frank Jr., from “Frank Frazetta Art and Rememberences”

To coincide incidentally with the reopening of the museum is a new biography, which would probably be a more correct term to use rather than just “book”. But don’t let the word biography fool you, It’s a biography in every sense of the word, but done the Frazetta way. Chock full of glorious Frazetta Art!  


Written and compiled by Frank’s son, Frank Jr.,    “Frank Frazetta Art and Rememberences” is the most up to date and comprehensive look at the man who was Frank Frazetta. 


In equal abundance are family photos, most never before seen, from every era of Frazetta’s life. All as seen through the eyes of his son, Frank Jr., the book details in chronological order the career of the greatest fantasy painters of all time. 



Of special interest to me was seeing The inclusion of early Frazetta comic books. Not his professional comic art, most of that stuff can be found in other collections. I mean actual Frank Frazetta hand drawn comic books.

Apparently Frank Sr. was a King Kong fan…

As an avid Frzetta collector, I own almost every book I can track down. And while some books strive to stand out, most don’t. More or less you find yourself flipping through and gazing at the same beautiful paintings over and over again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if you’re a Frazetta fan like me, you always want to see more. “Frank Frazetta Art and Rememberances” supplies just that. 


Ed. note: I came across this new book while at The Chiller Theatre convention in New Jersey earlier this year. I had a chance to speak with Frank’s grandson who informed me of the museums re-opening. The Frazetta estate has a lot of cool new merchandise to offer, but I dig the more vintage items…a few of which I came across recently I’d like to share:

Sealed Frazetta calandar from 1979, in its original mailing box. 

Carnival style mirror from 1979 

copyright info on back of mirror

“Fire and Ice” portfolio from 1991

And last but not least, set of 3 factory sealed “Female Golpher” watercolor prints from 1990  (painted in 87)


I have an additional set for sale for $75 please email me if interested. Long live Frank Frazetta!   

Herb Trimpe and The Hulk


Some people knew Herb Trimpe as the comic book artist of titles such as Shogun Warriors, Godzilla, G.I. Joe, and The Defenders among others. But to me he will always be known as the artist on The Incredible Hulk.  

 Herb had an astounding approx. seven year run on the series starting with full pencils in issue #107 all the way until issue #193. In that time Herb got to draw almost every Marvel character (that guest starred in the series) plus a plethora of interesting colorful and insanely brilliant villains. To many people, he is the quintessential Hulk artist. 

 Back cover to Marvel Treasury Edition #5 “Hulk on the Rampage!” 1975 

After a short stint in the Air Force Herb joined Marvel comics in 1966 as a photostat operator. He was basically making photo copies and submitting artwork whenever he could. In 1968 he began his run on the Hulk, and the character’s popularity began to grow by leaps and bounds.


Herb was responsible for creating many characters; from Jim Wilson to Doc Samson and the military unit the Hulkbusters, a term coined by him which is still in use in the Marvel U to this day. His style ranged from the very dynamic to the often flat graphic to even bordering on the psychedelic. Herb was a big fan of E.C. Comics, and this influence showed through in the various monstrosities he created to battle ol’ greenskin. 




A little bit of science fiction and a whole lot of action were the key elements that defined Herb Trimpe’s tenure on the Hulk. 




In October 1974, in the Hulk title, the Marvel Universe would be changed forever. On the final page a new character appeared; a tiny little guy with three claws on his hand called The Wolverine.


Although he is often mis-credited as the co-creator of this character, Herb’s name will always be synonymous with the Canadian anti-hero. Created by writer Len Wein and artist John Romita, Trimpe said he “distinctly remembers” Romita’s sketch, and that, “The way I see it, they sewed the monster together and I shocked it to life! … It was just one of those secondary or tertiary characters, actually, that we were using in that particular book with no particular notion of it going anywhere.” Boy, were they wrong. Wolverine’s first “full” appearance would be in the next issue, the classic Hulk #181. 


As a bit of trivia, it appears The Wolverine was possibly a slight re-work of a character who also appeared in The Hulk series a few years earlier…in 1969 issues #120/121 featured an Inhuman called “Leonus” who faired almost as well as Wolverine did against the green skinned giant. 


In 2013, I was lucky enough to get my copy of Hulk #181 signed by Herb. When I asked him how many copies did he think he had signed over his lifetime, he just looked at me and smiled, “More than have been printed.” 


Herb passed away on April 13th at the age of 75 and is survived by his wife Patricia and four children. In 2002 Herb was a recipient of The Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award for his work as a chaplain at the World Trade Center site following the September 11 attacksTrimpe was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of New York on May 30, 1992. 



In a statement, Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said, “To me, no artist is as synonymous with the Incredible Hulk as Herb Trimpe, who gave the Jade Giant a sense of pathos and scale that set the bar for every artist that followed him. Like a Hulk-punch, Trimpe’s art truly exploded off the page. Comics lost a giant.”


     Cover art by Herb Trimpe and John Romita


 Cover to Rolling Stone #91 Sept. 1971

  Original page/Third Eye black light poster 1971

 Personal commission 2013 


“You know, my son, I wouldn’t be Emperor of the Galaxy if I didn’t have a few powers at my disposal. Imperial Battleship, halt the flow of time! For the space of three minutes, every molecule on this planet will be immobilized. But after the third minute, the green ray loses it’s power. Time will flow once more and everything will explode.”- Christopher Plummer as The Emperor. 

That sounds pretty serious. 

In 1978, shortly after the release of the first Star Wars installment, Italian director Luigi Cozzi began filming his own space opera entitled  Scontri Stellari Oltre la Terza Dimensione, which translates to “stellar clashes beyond the third dimension”, or better known as STARCRASH. 

Released today, March 9th, 36 years ago, Starcrash has literally been called one of the worst/best sci-fi movies of all time. From Wikipedia: “Kurt Dahlke of DVD Talk said, “Starcrash is a masterpiece of unintentionally bad filmmaking.  Cozzi’s Star Wars knock-off buzzes around with giddy brio, mixing ridiculous characters with questionably broad acting, an incredibly simple yet still nonsensical plot derivative to Star Wars, and budget special effects that transcend into the realm of real art. It’s a completely ridiculous movie.

The time was 1979, and the world was abuzz with droids and lightsabers and villains dressed all in black. Sci-fi was all over the place in TV, film and toys. It was a good time to be a 12 yr old boy; Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica were on tv, Alien, Disney’s The Black Hole and Moonraker were playing in the theaters and Micronauts were on the toy shelves. Then came Starcrash. 

But with all these other blockbusters cashing in on the sci-fi craze, how did Starcrash miss the bullseye? Was the acting that bad? Were the special effects that bad? Was the story really that bad? 

Apparently so. 

On paper, it looked just like every other sci-fi script (picture the table read scene from Ben Affleck’s movie Argo) but how could it be a miss with such a stellar cast? 

Marjoe Gortner as Akton: the world’s youngest evangelical preacher. He was an ordained minister at age 4, and has also starred in such 70’s classics as Earthquake, Food of the Gods, Viva Kinevel! and American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt.

Christopher Plummer as The Emperor: this legendary actor has made over 200 movies, most notably (and most recently) Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, A Beautiful Mind, and the classic The Sound of Music. 

Give me Rome any day. I’ll do porno in Rome, as long as I can get to Rome. Getting to Rome was the greatest thing that happened in that for me. I think it was only about three days in Rome on that one. It was all shot at once.”

Joe Spinell as Count Zarth Arn: his laundry list of greats includes The Godfather and Rocky franchises, Taxi Driver and one of the all time great slasher classics: Maniac.

Robert Tessier as Thor: the ORIGINAL tattooed bad ass; who starred in a plethora of Burt Reynolds movies such as The Longest Yard, Hooper and The Cannonball Run. He was also in The Deep and made countless guest appearances on TV programs throughout the 70s/80s. He was also in the cult classic The Born Losers in 1967 and even had a brief stint as a Mr. Clean clone for Tough Act cleaning spray.

Nadia Cassini as Queen of the Amazons: ok, well she was an Italian actress who didn’t break into the American market, but she made over 20 movies and was hot.

Speaking of hot…

Caroline Munro as Stella Star: eye candy for classics such as The Spy Who Loved Me, At Earth’s Core (with a certain actor named Peter Cushing who would go on to be in that Star Wars movie a year later…) The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and of course, Maniac with Joe Spinell. And she’s freaking hot. 

Oh, and let us not forget David Hasselhoff as Prince Simon. 

This was the Hoff’s second movie, his first being Revenge of the Cheerleaders where he played a character named “Boner”. Yup. Boner.

What about the musical score? The original music was by Oscar winning composer John Barry known for classics such as Midnight CowboyGoldfingerSomewhere in TimeDances with Wolves. The film was a mixed media of special effects including live action, miniatures, stop motion animation, green screens and animation. The plot is derivative and the acting flat and over the top. But there is never a dull moment. 

And what about the dark and evil figure dressed in black who resembles a certain character (who’s name rhymes with Varth Dader) that appears on the poster behind Akton (wielding his “energy sword”) ? Why that’s none other that Elle, a robot sherif of the Imperial Space Police. Who talks with a robotic southern accent. See? I told you, never a dull moment. 

Among the other obvious Star Wars rips throughout this masterpiece, there is a final battle sequence where space ships are making strafing runs on a gigantic space station shaped like a hand. 


Christopher Plumbers speech at the end of this $4m 94 min celluloid treat is worth the price of admission alone. But I should also note it’s on YouTube for free. 

To wrap up, I must conclude with this bit of personal reflection: I remember seeing this movie in the theater in ’79 and remarking I thought it was better than Star Wars. And I truly believed it at the time. Fast forward to about 2005, and I receive an email from an art dealer who just happened to have this original painting for sale on his website:

The memories came flooding back, and it took me all of 10 seconds to decide whether or not to add this to my collection. I couldn’t resist, and now I get to look at it every day and couldn’t be happier. Happy 36th anniversary Starcrash, if it wasn’t for you…well, I’d have a big blank space in my wall in need of filling. 


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