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Friday, January 12, 2007

Playing Catch-up, with news and reviews

Allow me to extend my most heartfelt apologies for my neglect of the O.C.C. site. Sickness, holidays and bad weather have recently conspired to keep me away from the computer. Following are reviews and news from the last few weeks.

For those who continue to check the site out, despite the sluggish updates, my most sincere thanks.

Mark

A Super Team
Toy Museum, Geezer, OKC Philharmonic team up for super concert
By Jim Richardson
Staff Writer For The Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Next week the Oklahoma City Philharmonic will team up with the Toy and Action Figure Museum of Pauls Valley for a fun-filled “Salute to Superheroes.”

Scheduled to take place on Sunday, January 14 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City, the family-oriented event will be offering a wide variety of musical entertainment and comic book activities during the second concert of the three-part Discovery Family Concert Series.

“The Philharmonic will be performing music from movies and the concert stage that features superheroes of both fact and fiction. The first 500 children through the door will receive a free limited-edition commemorative superhero coloring book,” explained Michelle Winters, director of marketing for the OKC Philharmonic.

“Pre-concert activities will start at one o’clock in the lobby and at that time we will have storytelling and kids will have a chance to design their own superheroes from a template provided by the toy museum.

“We will also have an instrument playground where kids can explore sound and play on real orchestral instruments and meet the conductor and performers.”

Paying a special visit to the concert will be two of the unlikeliest superheroes ever dreamed up.

“Phil” — a 6 foot tall penguin who has been the costumed mascot for the OKC Philharmonic’s Kids Club for the past three years — will be on hand during the event along with “Geezer” — the world’s only octogenarian superhero.

According to Pauls Valley artist and “Geezer” creator Kevin Stark, “Phil” and “Geezer” will team up at the concert in an action-packed adventure to vanquish the arch enemy of the OKC Philharmonic.

“At the concert, ‘Chill’Harmonic Phil is joined by Geezer to help foil the plans of the misguided ‘Dr. Sim Phony,’ who tries to steal the orchestra’s instruments and start his own symphony,” Stark said.

“The collectors coloring book they’re giving away is about Geezer and Phil’s battle with Dr. Sim Phony.

“Phil normally doesn’t wear a superhero costume but he’ll be wearing one at the concert. Geezer will be appearing out in public for the very first time wearing his newly-designed costume.”

Along with his debut appearance and costume, Stark said the concert will mark another “first” for the elderly crime fighter.

“We will also be launching the ‘Geezer’ comic book at the concert. It’s the story of the world’s first 79-year-old superhero and his origin. It will be the first time the comic book has been available to the public,” Stark noted.

“We’ll have some on hand so people can purchase them and get them autographed. It will retail for $10. It’s a graphic novel so it’s a bigger comic book than most others.”

The graphic novel marks a milestone for Stark and his elderly super hero who has appeared as a regular comic strip in the Pauls Valley Daily Democrat for a number of years.

As OKC Philharmonic Director of Education Kristine Markes explained it, including the Toy Museum and Geezer in the Discovery Family Concert Series seemed like the natural thing to do.

“I am always looking for community partners and when I heard about the Toy Museum I thought it was a great opportunity for us and the Toy Museum,” Markes said.

“Each one-hour concert is designed to entertain and educate youngsters ages 4 to 12 and to set them on a path to a life-long love of music. When I came down and met with the people at the Toy Museum and Kevin it seemed like a natural fit.”

All tickets to the performance are general admission and are available by calling 405-TICKETS or by purchasing them at the door the day of the concert. Adult admission is $9 and children’s admission is $6.

For more information about the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the “Salute To Superheroes” or the Discovery Family Concert Series go to the Philharmonic’s website at okcphilharmonic.org.

To learn more about Geezer and other characters appearing in the comic strip and graphic novel, go to the GEEZER website at www.geezercomics.com.


We welcome Allan Heinberg as the newest member of the Oklahoma Cartoonists Collection. Allan is currently the writer for Wonder Woman and the Young Avengers, among his many achievements. He also writes for the OC and Gray's Anatomy on television. He is originally from Tulsa.

Michael Vance


Para/$19.95 and 192 pgs. from penny farthing press/story by Stuart Moore, art by Pablo Villalobos, Claude St. Aubin, and Federico Zumel/sold at comics and books shops and at www.pfpress.com.

A horrific disaster left a super-collider, the granddad of particle accelerators, highly radioactive. Every-one inside died. There were frogs imbedded in crystal, and ghost-like wisps of something moving in the shadows. Twenty years later, the daughter of the project's leader decides to visit what is now a mass grave instead of a failed experiment.

Such is the premise of Para, a new graphic novel that reprints six earlier issues of a comic book series of the same title.

That sounds like the stuff of a great SF/Horror novel, movie, or graphic novel, doesn't it? Would you believe a pretty good graphic novel?

Let's look at story. Casual pacing never builds suspense, and certainly not horror. The frozen frogs that seem an important clue are forgotten about half way through Para, and the characters have a habit of fairly long, emotionless, dialog when confronted with apparitions and situations that would have left real humans speechless.

To his credit, characterizations are realistic and engaging, this graphic novel actually reads like a novel, and the author (who shows great promise; watch this guy) gratefully shies away from graphic violent, profanity, and the sexual innuendo that many writers think makes their work 'mature'.

Hurrah!!

The reality-based art starts on the high end of excellent, and ends a bit sloppy. As a simple example, the team that travels into the super-collider wear radiation contamination suits that start as tight fits on tight bodies and end as loose and ill-fitting on ladies who suddenly 'got back', i.e. large butts.

One should remember that good is certainly not bad, and Para is recommended for a pleasant read on a long, winter's afternoon.

Review by Michael Vance



Marvel: The Characters And Their Universe, Published by Barnes & Noble Books, 288 pages, $75.00

So, I'm walking through a Barnes & Noble store in Amarillo a few weeks ago, and I stumble upon a beautiful book called Marvel: The Characters And Their Universe. Now, I'm a sucker for comics history books. So, this incredibly beautiful leather-bound (or close enough to fool me, anyway) coffee table book, with a colorful raised illustration of some of Marvel's greatest characters, drew me in at first glance. Upon thumbing through the book, generously filled with lavish illustrations and photos, I was quickly hooked and headed for the checkout stand.

Author Michael Mallory has put together a respectable history of Marvel Comics, starting farther back than most who retell this particular story, with the inception of Red Circle, then a pulp fiction magazine publishing company. And, considering the fact that the book chronicles Marvel history up to 2004 (the year of publication), it can be considered quite comprehensive.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this book, however, is that it not only covers Marvel properties in print, but in other media as well. Covering just about every incarnation of any Marvel character on big screen or small since the '60's, Mallory's inclusion of the company's Saturday morning contributions and live action prime time projects were a pleasant revisiting of many beloved memories for this longtime fan. I especially enjoyed some previously unknown information (to me) concerning the '70's television show "The Incredible Hulk," as well as the various TV movie spin-offs.

This gleeful walk down a brightly colored memory lane will bring a lot of pleasure to current fans and former fans alike. It would also make a great Christmas gift for the comics fan in your life.

Find it at Barnes & Noble bookstores, as well as online retailers and auctions, where great deals can be found. Heck, I got mine at B&N for $25.00, a third of the retail price! Who says you can't "geek out" affordably?

Review by Mark Allen