Friday, December 8, 2023
I reviewed Larry Johnson's Tales of the Broken B in early December (after publisher Jim Main recommended it). As Bizarrechats readers know, I became enthralled by Johnson's weird, episodic western, enough that I grew curious about his other endeavors. After watching the latest Reviewing Small Press Comics (hosted by Steve Keeter and Larned Justin), I decided to make Johnson's Horseman my next-in-line.
Horseman is, to say the least, amazing, combining components of Doctor Strange, Doctor Fate and Doom Patrol, with a steady stream of Homer's The Odyssey, John Boorman's Zardoz and general, Native American lore, while rendered in a stylish pantomime that would make the great Marcel Marceau bow with respect. On the other hand, my florid description doesn't do Johnson's contribution anywhere near the justice it deserves. Horseman is that unique.
Horseman is, per his unpretentious label, an anthropomorphic entity, a humanoid with a horse's head, who for modesty's sake, wears white skivvies (though with evident room for a protruding tail). Is he Earth-grown or of alien emanation? Is his terrain of the past or future? Parts of the saga imply the terrestrial here-and-now, but regardless of Horseman's origin or the landscapes he roams, his nomadic mythology triumphs all onto itself.
Along Horseman's psychedelic paths, he encounters a goat-headed counterpart; equestrian wolf men; amphibian men; hovering fish; a haunted graveyard; an octopus guide; a voracious spider; and skeleton scientists and their fiery, Frankenstein-ish apparitions. At one point, Horseman is swallowed by a giant anglerfish and mystically escapes by emerging from a chicken egg. At other points, he's visited by insects, elephants and a Pteranodon, and more by accident than plan, manifests from a children's book to embark on yet another twisted trail. Yes, it's all quite bizarre, but that's what makes Horseman so addictive.
My favorite segment occurs in Issue #4, when a wolf man flaunts a grandmother persona, in homage to Little Red Riding Hood. Also, there's substantial food for thought in Johnson's recurring, lupine motif, as it often places the titular lead in a Brothers Grimm context.
At present, Horseman consists of five, color issues, with a sixth in development. To embellish the existing exploits, Johnson offers an impressive companion piece, Encounter: The Birth of Horseman.
This 160-page volume features Johnson's black-and-white illustrations, which influenced the character's progression. From an artistic standpoint, Encounter is as captivating as the individual comics, and for anyone who gets hooked on Horseman (and how can one not?), the curation will act as an appreciated appendage.
For their innovative pizzazz, the Horseman entries are worth the indulgence. Please feel free to email Johnson on the issues' prices (individually or combined) at LewBrown1@verizon.net.
And for those who desire a steady spree of Johnson's color, Horseman imagery, check out his fantastic, YouTube channel at
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life started off small, berated by many critics, overlooked by much of the public and decades later, distributed to public domain, but its humble status distinguished its destiny, making it a Christmas classic, even though it works just as well at any time of the year.
LIFE's periodical homage, It's a Wonderful Life: The Season's Most Beautiful Film (#1 Christmas Movie of All Time), written by Richard Jerome, covers the production's genesis, stemming from an inspirational, short story by Philip Van Doren Stern to a complex, character-driven Twilight Zone precursor (accentuated by screenwriters Capra, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Jo Swerling and Dorothy Parker), where James Stewart's suicidal, do-gooder, George Bailey, is granted the chance to see how the world would be if he had never been born: a jarring wish bestowed by a bumbling, wingless, guardian angel, Henry Travers' amicable Clarence Odbody.
Jerome's multi-part, detailed-laden essay is heightened by endearing photos (accompanied by rare, behind-the-scene shots) and sturdy bios, which cater not only to Stewart and Travers, but their exceptional costars: Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond, Frank Faylen, Sheldon Leonard, Beulah Bondi, Samuel S. Hinds, H.B. Warner and Karolyn Grimes. I'd have liked hardy sections on Todd Karns and Ryan Slater as well, but alas, these fine contributors must prevail through insinuation and fond recollection.
On the further downside, Jerome's tribute sometimes delves into superfluous, socio-political editorializing, which has nothing to do with the movie or its message. That Capra was conservative is an implied concern, when all he did was make a heartfelt movie that appeals to all good, hard-working people, regardless of their philosophical swings or denominations. Let's be honest. The film's adage, "No Man is a Failure who has Friends," is what eclipses any and all distinguishing differences among those who fight the good fight.
Despite its occasional, soap-box slant, LIFE's salute is a quality package, which commemorates one of cinema's inarguable greats. It's a Wonderful Life: The Season's Most Beautiful Film can be purchased at supermarkets and drugstores nationwide. Be sure to pick up a copy this holiday season.
Monday, December 4, 2023
Sunday, December 3, 2023
Authors/researchers Nige Burton and Jamie Jones deserve profound praise for their detail-extensive, horror/science-fiction periodicals. An exceptional example of their know-how can be tapped in the Classic Monsters of the Movies, two-volume set, Hammer Horror: An Illustrated Chronicle (1934 - 2019).
Their overviews are most pleasing, covering the studio's top-shelf chapters, The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, Brides of Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Curse of the Werewolf ... The Mummy, but early (too often overlooked) gems like The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (with Bela Lugosi) and Song of Freedom (with Paul Robeson) are also acknowledged, along with such brash, historical experiments as The Terror of the Tongs, The Stranglers of Bombay and The Devil-Ship Pirates, which bolster the studio's wide-range significance even further.
The Hammer father-and-son founders and influencers are chambered among the comprehensive pages: William and Anthony Hinds and James and Michael Carreras. The studio's supplementing writers and directors share the same, esteemed spotlight: Terence Fisher, Freddie Francis, Jimmy Sangster, Val Guest, John Gilling, Tudor Gates, Roy Ward Baker, Don Sharp, Don Houghton, Peter Sasdy, Seth Holt, Alan Gibson and more.
Of course, Hammer's proficient performers grab attention page upon page, with fulfilling bios, tidbits and respectful nods: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Veronica Carlson, Hazel Court, Anton Diffring, Michael Ripper, Thorley Waters, Oliver Reed, Herbert Lom, Bette Davis, Michael Gwynn, Francis Matthews, Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, David Peel, Dave Prowse, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Kier, Patrick Troughton, Freddie Jones, Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Raquel Welch, Richard Wordsworth, Horst Janson, Jacqueline Pearce; Caroline Munro, Christopher Neame, Susan Denberg, Shane Briant, the Collinson Twins, et al.
Indeed, the background on each production, filmmaker and star is exquisite and edifying (embellished by an inclusion of the studio's recent revival and subsequent productions, including The Woman in Black 2012), with each aesthetic period accentuated by crisp, black-and-white and color photos.
These fine volumes can be purchased separately or together and are (beyond debate) essential for any cinema library. To order, visit