Friday, August 24, 2018

Top 5 Cartoons I Missed

I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid.  I think half of my childhood was spent in front of the television sucking in as much of the badly-animated, high-action shows.  But with as much as I watched it, most of the time it was reruns of the same shows - Transformers, MASK, He-Man, TMNT, a few others.  When I started the Villain Retrospect series, I went through all the cartoon bad guys I knew, then I went looking for ones I never watched.  And I found a ton of them.  Some were good, some sucked, but there were only a handful of them that I really wish I had watched back then.

Galtar and the Golden Lance
Hanna-Barbera and Ruby Spears made a bunch of the non-Filmation fantasy fair I watched as a kid, namely Thundarr the Barbarian and the Pirates of Dark Water.  Thundarr had the awesome setting of post-apocalyptic Earth and Pirates had the long running story with a deeper than normal continuity.  Galtar would have fit right in there among them, with a world ruled by a powerful villain and a cast of characters that crossover in interesting ways, like Tormack's daughter Maya that sometimes fought for him and sometimes against.  And Goleeta would have totally filled my redhead crush quota.

Dungeons & Dragons
For all the same reasons as Galtar, I would have loved Dungeons & Dragons and more.  D&D had all the sorcery and magical weapons and monsters as other shows, but has six different characters, each with their own power and one of the best villains ever with Venger.  The story didn't have a lot of continuity, each episode pretty much ended with the status quo, but the fact that it had an episode (unproduced) where the kids plan to kill Venger, gives it some massive credit.

Bionic Six
As I said before, I do love when there's a team of individuals, each with their own powers or abilities.  Bionic Six has that in spades, and all wrapped around a bunch of robotic parts.  The Bennett family each as specialized upgrades, giving them ESP, laser eyes, superhuman strength or speed.  I love how different the characters are and that we get a villain that's actually funny on purpose, even if his underlings are generic.  They even get a cool activation command.

Cool powers that require eerie poems to activate them?  Hell yes!  It's great that the knights in the show have two different kinds of powers with completely different effects.  It's got the shape-shifting of Transformers and spells that could have been written by Edgar Allen Poe. I also really liked that it wasn't just the good guys vs the bad guys for world domination but that they were pit against each other by a higher power, sometimes for no reason other than to see them squabble.

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers
This show has it all - a cool setting that combined western and sci-fi elements, a bunch of interweaving stories with a ton of different characters, and a seriously kick-ass theme song.  There's a ton of great things that I can say about this cartoon, even though I've mentioned them here a number of times.  I still want to watch this whole series and I think it would benefit the most from a reboot or adaptation.  Get on it, Hollywood - No guts, no glory!

Don't forget to pick up Old School Evil on Kindle for just $.99 - sale ends tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 8/22/18

So, I've recently started my new job and I have good news and bad news.

Good news: Already there's so much less stress. Once I've learned everything about it, which should only take a few weeks, I'll have more time to devote to writing again. And since I'm in a more open area, I'm hoping that'll keep me more focused during my free time, of which there could be a lot.

The bad news? Until that training period is over, I can't do anything else. So I'm not going to get any writing, editing, or even note-taking done for a while. Second, because I am in an open area, I'm reduced to using my phone to make these posts and my internet reception at my new office blows. It takes a few minutes just to update my Twitter feed, if it works at all. Lastly, and this is the hardest one to bear, I'm losing money here. I had to take a pay cut. I don't think it would matter if I were making even a little money on my book, but sales have dropped off to almost nothing, not that they were huge to begin with.  Even with my sale going on now, I'm not moving anything substantial.

So there I am. The new job is great, the new job stinks. If you'd like to help out (and I'd love if you did), buy a copy of Old School Evil. It's still on sale for two more days for $.99 on Kindle.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 16- Tormack

Finally, we're into the last round of the invitationals!  After this fight, the winners of the previous rounds will start to face off!  I am so excited, but let's not get ahead of ourselves - this is going to be a good fight.  Today, we're looking at Tormack, the leader of the villainous Gerzas from Galtar and the Golden Lance!

Tormack, portrayed perfectly by the gravelly-voiced Brock Peters, is a man of huge stature and presence.  His forces have already overtaken much of the land, having killed of the royal family and massacred dozens of villages.  He's plundered the Golden Shield and seeks to possess the Golden Lance, which combined are the most powerful weapons in the world.  When Galtar, a survivor from one of the villages he destroyed, finds the lance and rescues Princess Goleeta, the rightful owner of the Golden Shield who was hidden away during Tormack's raids, he puts the full force of his Gerza army on their trail.

By himself, Tormack is an imposing figure, but doesn't have any particular strengths.  Most of the magic employed in trying to capture Galtar and his crew is cast by Crim, Tormack's sorcerer and right-hand man.  Crim is able to use the Golden Shield's connection with the lance to show Galtar and Goleeta at any time, but Tormack is not able to do that by himself, even when though the shield is in his possession.  He is able to harness its other power though, a force strong enough to repulse any attack, even from the Golden Lance. 

While normally wielding a generic sword (and not even using it to attack), Tormack uses a halberd that can shoot "bolts of doom" from its tip.  The power of the blast is strong enough to pulverize a boulder.  I just wished he used it more often, as many of his appearance had him standing around and giving orders.  Besides the second episode where he duels with Galtar, he doesn't use the power of either weapons.  Still, at least he leads his Gerzas into battle instead of sitting behind a desk, like Big Boss.

Like I just said, Tormack commands an army of Gerzas and when he's on Galtar's trail, he has at least 4-5 Gerzas in tow.  And unlike their leader, they always have those laser-blasting halberds.  They're certainly not the best of shots, but I can excuse that since they're always on horseback.  One time they actually did hit Galtar, just knocking him down, but since it's later said that the Gerzas were missing him on purpose, it can be surmised that the blast that did hit him was low powered as to not hurt him (they were leading him into a trap).

As much as I love Tormack, for his awesome voice and intimidating stature, unfortunately, he doesn't have a whole lot going for him.  Like many fantasy cartoons set on another world, other villains sometimes pursue our heroes, and Tormack gets ignored, showing up in only 9 of the 13 episodes I watched.  In the next tier of the tournament, I plan to skip over episodes that don't include our villain, so I can get 13 episodes of just them (not really going to be fair to any villains whose show didn't last that long), but that won't help Tormack now.

I will give Tormack the shield and halberd, since the shield's powers are mentioned by name and the halberds are the primary weapons of the Gerzas.  Since he always has his Gerzas with him in the field, I'm allowing his to bring three of them into the battle as well, just like Cobra Commander and the Shredder had.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 5 Animated Intros

The cartoon intro – a show’s 60-second chance to grab a kid’s attention and hold on tight.  I covered part of it a while ago with the Top 5 Cartoon Theme Songs, but there’s another part to consider – the animation.  While some cartoons cheap out and just use clips form the shows (coughDisneycough), most cartoons animate an action-packed segment that boils the show down into 1 minute of awesome.  But some of those cartoons cheat a bit, pouring all their effort into the intro while the rest of the show just kinda sucks. So today we’re looking at the Top 5 Intros Better than their Cartoon.
Superman (1988)

Ruby Spears doesn’t have a track record of great cartoon openings.  Most are a mix of clips from the show and original animation, and neither is particularly impressive.  Superman, on the other hand, has some really good animation in it, particularly when he flies by the building.  But the cartoon itself is pretty basic and shows none of the flourish of the intro.

If I were to go by the intro, this cartoon would be non-stop thrills with a ton of cuts to close-ups and some great transitions.  Instead, the cartoon has none of that excitement, and Nightshade doesn’t look nearly as good, which is a crime. Get it? Crime? Ugh, I’m sorry.

It’s apparent there’s something special about the Jem intro that the cartoon just doesn’t have – Rotoscoping.  For those not familiar with it, it’s a technique of animating over live action film. That way your animation can mimic perfectly how a character and their clothing moves.  That’s a whole other level of cheating compared to the animation in the show.

One of the biggest ways I’ve seen to create a thrilling intro to a cartoon is with special animation tricks, like flashing light or energy (I wish I knew the name of the technique used for that), and Visionaries uses this trick quite a bit, which is what you’d expect when the cartoon is about holograms.  Too bad during the cartoon itself, most of the holograms are presented as solid green or blue objects, maintaining none of the charm of the intro.
Rankin-Bass (Thundercats, Silverhawks, Tigersharks)

This trio, I think has to be the most egregious in the difference of intro and cartoon animation.  Full of fast action and light shows, the intros to each of these cartoons pulls the rug out from under you when you get the main cartoons, full of sloppy animation and mistakes galore.  It amazes me just how big the disparity is, but I still can’t help but watch them each time, because they’re by far the best intros ever made. Too bad the rest of the show can’t live up to the hype.

There's one last week to pick up Old School Evil in Kindle for $.99, don't miss out!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 Results

“This is Earth?” Nemesis asked, surveying the urban landscape around their ship, including the stadium that had been leveled by their landing.  “Pathetic.”
Kanawk groaned.  “Your negativity astounds me.   You want an easily conquered population?  You won’t find one more eager to fall under your heel than my home planet.”  He pointed at the squads of police cars and firetrucks speeding towards the crash site.  “Look at this paltry welcome we’ve received. They have no response to a giant robot such as yourself.”
Nemesis flexed the red claw on his left hand open in contemplation.  He shot the claw out on a cable, smashing it into one of the police cars.  The claw squeezed the car across the middle, cutting the vehicle in half. “Yes, I believe you might be right.”
The response teams opened fire on the robot, pelting it with bullets that bounced off its metal skin.  Inside Nemesis’s chest-mounted cockpit, Kanawk couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the people that hadn’t even mounted a rescue operation for his space mission being wiped out under his robotic partner’s massive foot.
Down below, the police offer’s calls over the bullhorn went silent before being replaced by a shrill voice that Kanawk instantly recognized.  “Hey, you metal freak! What’s the big idea ruining our show?!” It was Pizzazz, and Kanawk’s thoughts of revenge against humanity was shoved aside out of fanboy glee.
Nemesis staggered as if attacked.  “You fool, Kanawk, you said they had no advanced weaponry!  They’re using some sort of sonic cannon against us!” He regained his footing and moved to squash the green-haired human as she fought against the officer who was previously using the microphone.
“No!” Kanawk shouted, slamming his fist into the controls in front of him.  “They’re the Misfits, my favorite band!” He entered a string of commands and from Nemesis’s ankle, cables were deployed which reeled his feet back to the ground.  “You can’t crush them! They’re the only things on this planet worth saving.”
Nemesis considered.  “Their sonic attacks do seem like valuable assets.”  Down below, Pizzazz punched the officer at the bullhorn, while another singer, this one with white hair, successfully commandeered a police car and was interrupting rescue attempts by singing over the loudspeakers.  
Kanawk activated his own communications system and shouted his apologies to the band, his broadcast squelching the cruiser’s loudspeakers.
“Listen to the sound system on that, Roxie!” Pizzazz said.  “We could play over every one of Jem’s shows with those speakers!”
Kanawk squealed.  “Yes, absolutely!”
“What are you doing?” Nemesis asked, as Kanawk entered commands for the giant robot to lower himself to the ground.  “Nemesis doesn’t kneel for anyone!” He resisted the movement, but Kanawk activated more cables in the robot’s hands which brought him even lower.  
“Why do you resist me, Nemesis?” Kanawk shouted, pressing more buttons.  “With Pizzazz and the Misfits’ in our fold, we’ll have even more influence and destructive power over this planet!”
Nemesis turned his claw hand into a spinning blade and sliced through the cables pulling him down. “I do not like having one fleshbag inside my console, what makes you think I’d like two others?”
“I don’t care what you want!” Kanawk cried.  “I’ve been dreaming of this day my whole life!”
“Then I shall end it for you.”  Nemesis rerouted his auxillary power system through his cockpit, frying Kanawk with a million volts of electricity.  “I don’t need your help conquering this planet, and I think I’ll start with your so-called Misfits.” With that, he hefted a lag up and brought it down on Pizzazz with a sickening thump.
Roxie, still circling the site with her stolen police car, screamed Pizzazz’s name before spinning out and driving directly toward Nemesis.  The robot folded his claw back into a sharp point, revealing a laser barrel. He blasted the car, causing a massive explosion and sending the wreckage into the air.
From back at the stadium where she helped rescue efforts for the children in the stadium, Stormer saw the carnage, but was unaware of her bandmates’ demises.  She later joined the Holograms before retiring from music to focus on an adoption agency.
Click here for Nemesis's respect post and here for the Misfits's

Is there any real doubt that this fight would go this way? Maybe if Nemesis was dumb enough to allow Pizzazz access to his control center, she could have sabotaged his systems with her reckless abandon, but I figure Nemesis doesn't even like having Kanawk there, so he wouldn't let others in it. Of course, Kanawk probably wasn't a Misfits fan, but that was the only way this story lasted longer than one paragraph.

The Winner

Click here to see the last round, Confess Commander vs. Genghis Rex. Click here to see the rest of the fights.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-Up - 8/8/2018

1000 followers?! I can't believe I've finally reached this on Twitter.  To commemorate, I'm planning to drop the price of Old School Evil starting Monday the 12th through Saturday the 25th to 99 cents!   I'll be posting links to it pretty often through the two weeks, so make sure to pick it up if you haven't been able to afford its regular $4.99 price.
Besides the same, not a lot had been happening besides the OSE 2 rewrite. I finally got to pay that I've been looking forward to where I'm giving characters titles that the DDTB had assigned them. Mainly leader titles here, like Commander vs. Director vs. Mastermind. I admit, I love coming up with titles and I'm going to be assigning a lot of them in this book. Guess I'll need to go through a bunch of cartoons to figure out what they would all go by.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Bad Guy Beatdown Round 15 - The Misfits

Today we're looking at Nemesis's... nemesis, along with Jem and the Holograms's, the Misfits.  Made up of three super-bitches Pizzazz, Roxie, and Stormer, this band shredded the charts with much better songs then the Holograms ever did.  But when they weren't singing, the participated in activities such as kidnapping, destruction of private property, and attempted murder.  How the hell did they never go to jail?!

Like I said before, the band is made up of three regular members - Pizzazz, the leader with the puke green hair, Roxie, the white-haired one that didn't really have any character-defining traits, and Stormer, the reluctant blue-haired singer, who showed some real concern and would sometimes go against her band mates if their schemes involved treating children like shit.  Apparently, she's fine with treating adults like shit, though.  Their attitude is out in the open too, with songs such as "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme," "Out of my Way," and "Takin' it All."

But there's one villain in the show worst them - their manager, Eric, while not as visible in the show was easily the worst of the bunch, hiring thugs to burn down houses, blow up houses, and all around try to murder Jem and the Holograms in every episode.  Still, the Misfits are more than capable of attempted manslaughter on their own, whether it's accidental or intentional, like Pizzazz's habit of reckless driving, especially when she commandeered a bulldozer and steered it into a group of children!

Anyway, one thing I had forgotten about the cartoon is that the Misfits have a sometimes 4th member, Clash.  She shows up in episode 6 as a fan of the band and was welcomed with open arms, since she immediately offered to sabotage a movie starring their rivals.  In fact, that episode is one of the most gratuitous in their efforts to end the Hologram's careers.  After first failing to erase the tapes that had recorded all of Jem's scenes, then rigging a fake bridge to collapse under Jem while she was crossing it, Clash was the one to take the whole thing a step further.

While filming a scene using staged explosives, Kimber was supposed to ride a motorcycle through a minefield.  Clash used the cymbals on her wrists to distract the special effects guy in charge of the explosives, allowing the other Misfits to change the timing on them.  As a result, the explosives went off early, sending Kimber flying from one blast to another.  If this had happened on a real set, I'm pretty sure Kimber would have been blown to bits.  She survives, of course, but it only highlights the Misfits' wanton destruction and lack of regard for human life. 

Another episode shows the Misfits calcutated attacks on the Holograms on a ski slope, taking each of them out one by one until only Jem remained.  Then they all team up on her, pelting her with snowballs.  What do you want to bet they all had rocks in them?  Of course, after that, they up their game by setting off an avalanche to bury Jem.  This is the behavior of people that have absolutely no remorse, total psychopaths that somehow get away with their threatening antics every time.  How do they do it?  It probably has to do with Pizzazz's father being a billionaire, who allows her to spend as much money as she wants, even being movie studios and record labels, just to get her out of his hair.

The only thing you don't outright see in the shows is physical violence, which is a real surprise.  Only once did it look like Pizzazz might attack Jem, and it was shockingly Jem that started it, throwing a star hanging from a rope and hitting Pizzazz in the back.  Unfortunately, Jem's boyfriend Rio stepped in to keep them from scratching each other's eyes out.  And we all know Pizzazz would have wrecked Jem's whole world.

And yes, their music is better. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday Wrap-up - 8/1/18

Man, it's been ages since I've done one of these!

So, what am I doing these days? Firstly, I'm working in the second draft of Old School Evil 2. I'm a few chapters into the rewrite from the first draft and so far I'm way happier with the story! I'm tying more stuff into it from the first book, and fleshing out characters, and making the stakes way higher for Jayce and his team.

Besides that, I've been working on a couple other ideas. Old School Evil as it stands is one trilogy. After that, I've got a secondary trilogy planned, codenamed Generations, which will expand the cartoons I'm drawing inspiration from in both ways. I've created a handful of cartoons for the Scooby Doo era, and some of the Pokemon era. Lately, I've been planning out the last one if those monster cartoons, and I really like how it's turning out.

Lastly, I've been wasting a lot of time with Mega Bloks. See, they had a set for TMNT that included the Shredder, and since he's a cool villain, going along with the Skeletor figure they made a little while ago. Since I got a big set with Shredder, I went nuts and bought a ton of other TMNT sets. And now I'm planning to customize a ton of other figures into MASK, GI Joe, and other characters. It's a huge waste of time for me, since it would require 3D modeling and printing custom heads.

Where do I go from there? Why making up a story that crosses over a bunch of cartoons with an idea of turning it into a comic, all just so I can pay it on Twitter and Instagram, which I will be going to pretty soon.

Ugh. Why do I do this to myself?

One more thing to note: I'm coming up on 1000 followers on Twitter. I'm thinking I'll do something special when I get there.