October 21, 2017

NETWORK SALE

Deal Alert: UK distributor Network is having a sale! Network is the Criterion Collection of cool British films and TV series and their titles are packed with rare content and special features. And now you can order most titles for 40% off! They carry many classic 1960s ITC spy/adventure and Gerry Anderson shows. Some favorites from their catalog (many are out of print in the States)The PrisonerDanger Man, Secret Agent, The Saint, The Champions, Department S, Jason King, The Baron, HG Welles' Invisible Man, Hell Drivers, All Night Long, Strange Report, Strange World of Gurney Slade, Corridor People, Supercar, Space 1999, Deadlier Than the Male, The Ipcress File, The Persuaders, The Protectors, The Secret Service, Captain Scarlet, Filmed in Supermarionation, The Saint Steps in... to Television, Return of the Sain, The Man Who Haunted Himself, League of Gentlemen, UFO, Robin Hood, William Tell, Lancelot, Mister Jerico. If that's not enough, you can also find comprehensive soundtrack CD box sets for many of these great shows, as well as soundtracks on vinyl! The new Blu-ray editions of Randall and Hopkirk and Department S are apparently outstanding. Get the picture? They carry everything you need for a Spy Vibe library. Note: you will need an all-region player to play UK DVDs and Blu-ray. The shipping to the States can sometimes add up if the weight is heavy (box sets!), so I actually save money by spreading my orders out to keep weight down. Sale ends October 30th. More info hereIn other news, check out my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show, where I introduce classic spy films/TV series and play soundtracks and rare cuts: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers). Episode #6 (The Prisoner), and Episode #7 (The Ipcress File). Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Agent WerewolfMata Hair ExhibitJohnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

October 18, 2017

AGENT WEREWOLF

It's Halloween season, Spy Vibers! I was lucky to see a double feature last weekend of the original Universal Frankenstein films at the famous Castro Theater. It was so great to see some of those classic scenes on the giant screen. Karloff photographed so well in that dramatic lighting! Of course, the Universal monsters made a huge comeback in the 1950s and 1960s. They appeared in a long-running series with Abbott and Costello, were celebrated in monster magazines, and most kids in the early 1960s built Aurora model kits of their favorite monsters. Although they had started out as terrifying characters, kids from the Cold War era look back at the monsters with fondness, much in the same way Godzilla was eventually adopted as a kind of hero for children. The love of monsters also spawned shows like The Munsters and The Addams Family (inspired by the great comics by Charles Addams in The New Yorker). During the classic horror boom of the 1960s, Dell publishing set out to cash in on a few major characters, releasing comics such as Frankenstein: The Monster is Back!, The Mummy, Dracula, The Wolf Man, and The Creature in 1963-1964. Dell also used some of the character names to launch short comic series about hybrid superheroes (and a spy!): Frankenstein, Dracula, and Werwolf. The most interesting for Spy Vibers was Werewolf, which lasted three issues between 1966-1967. A radical departure from the usual horror adaptation, the comic centered around a pilot who crashed in the arctic circle and was trained by wolves. Once he and his wolf companion were rescued, he was recruited to work as a top spy with the aid of gadgets and a hypnotic treatment that enabled him to change his face at will. Handy! Dive deeper into the series over at 4th Letter here and Gorilla Daze here In other news, check out my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show, where I introduce classic spy films/TV series and play soundtracks and rare cuts: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers). Episode #6 (The Prisoner), and Episode #7 (The Ipcress File). Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Mata Hair Exhibit, Johnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

October 15, 2017

MATA HARI EXHIBIT

Famed spy Mata Hari died 100 years ago today. On October 15th, 1917 she was executed for selling allied secrets to Germany. But as additional artifacts from her trial become available to historians -many are only now being declassified today by the French army 100 years later- her web has become even more tangled. Was she a German spy or a double agent killed as a scapegoat? Followers of her case will undoubtedly pour over new evidence. From any angle, however, she had a tragic life. Born in the Netherlands in 1876, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle suffered family hardships, an abusive marriage, and the loss of her two kids. She found solace in dancing, which she had studied while living in Indonesia. Part of the Orientalist movement, which included Asia-inspired modern dance, Mata made a name for herself as a socialite, exotic dancer, and courtesan. But her career went into decline and she made her last performance on the stage in 1915. She was recruited by France in 1916 to spy on Germany. She also received money from Germany as a spy and was implicated in the outing of a number of Belgian agents. There is more to her story, much of it grisly, and I'm sure new details will be revealed as documents are examined. Some of Mata Hari's artifacts are currently being exhibited at the Fries Museum (ends April 2018). Museum information here. Read more about Mata Hari at BBC. Mata Hari has been immortalized many times in film (starting in 1920) and on television (as recent as 2017). Spy Vibers may be most familiar with the 1931 film starring Greta Garbo, as well as the satirical take on the character in the 1970 children's series, Lancelot Link. What else was happening 100 years ago? Louis Feuillade continued work on his fantastic Judex crime/adventure serial in France, and Charlie Chaplin created some of his best short films for Mutual such as Easy Street, The Cure, and The Immigrant. In other news, check out my episodes of the Cocktail Nation radio show, where I introduce classic spy films/TV series and play soundtracks and rare cuts: Episode #1 (Danger Man) and Episode #2 (The 10th Victim), Epsiode #3 (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Episode #4 (Roger Moore/The Saint), and Episode #5 (The Avengers). Episode #6 (The Prisoner), and Episode #7 (The Ipcress File). Enjoy! Spy Vibers, don't miss the TV spy gadget event in LA on October 17th, 2017- more info here. 


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Johnny Sokko 50thInterview: Trina RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.

October 14, 2017

JOHNNY SOKKO 50TH

The classic series Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot celebrated its 50th anniversary this week. After languishing in the grey market for years, fans of Japanese tokusatsu and kaiju were excited to finally see a DVD release by Shout! Factory in 2013. "'Robot, attack! Robot, destroy!' These commands launched a thousand sci-fi fantasies for budding fans of the genre, just as they brought Johnny Sokko’s Giant Robot into imminent battle action! Under the voice control of young Johnny Sokko, the massive, flying metal behemoth would bring his fiery breath, laser eyes, finger-launched missiles and, above all, his physical strength into battle with countless menacing monsters bent on destroying the Earth! This epic fantasy series from Toei Studios aired from 1967 to 1968 and garnered even more fans in after-school reruns throughout the 70s." Like a number of sci-fi monster-related shows from the era, Toei also wove in elements of Cold War themes. More below. 


What is the show about? Join me for a brief tour: The Earth is invaded by a terrorist group called Big Fire (Gargoyle in the US), led by Emperor Guillotine, who commands his minions of henchman and captured scientists (who make monsters- natch!) from his ship beneath the ocean. Enter Johnny Sokko (Daisuke Kusama in Japan), who meets up with a dashing young man, Jerry Mano (Juro Minami in Japan), on a cruise ship. Johnny discovers that Jerry is, in fact, Agent U3 for a top-secret peacekeeping organization called Unicorn! Jerry’s cover is blown when his pen starts ringing. (oops! sounds like Get Smart). Jerry extends an antenna and contacts his boss at HQ- a rather colorful version of U.N.C.L.E. headquarters. The ship is attacked by a giant sea monster, and our two heroes find themselves castaways on a beach and captured by the alien terrorists. The baddies in Johnny Sokko are designed with a wonderful mix of elements to portray their evil intent- black berets, sunglasses, Nazi salutes, and sci-fi makeup. Jerry and Johnny break free and an intense gunfight ensues that would never been seen in a US-produced kid’s show. Jerry even uses a guard as a shield! The poor henchman doesn’t stand a chance and his pals riddle him with bullets. Even Johnny is armed with a pistol and looks super heroic, despite his tiny shorts. I think the necktie adds some authority! 


The series is fast-paced and fun. Jerry and Johnny race through corridors and down an elevator, where they discover the Giant Robot and a scientist who has been held prisoner to do Guillotine’s bidding. The man gives Johnny the robot’s control-watch. In James Bond fashion, the heroes blow up the secret lair and shoot it out on the beach. When things get desperate  Jerry reminds the kid that he now possesses the watch that controls the robot. The boy flips open the top, makes his first commands, and a franchise is born! Johnny is brought into Unicorn as Agent U7, and joins the secret fight against the alien terrorists. It's interesting to note that as this series was winding down, Gerry Anderson was recruiting another young boy (in puppet form) for a new sic-spy program called Joe 90


It was interesting to talk with my friend, translator Fred Schodt (Astro Boy) about the violence that we see in Japanese pop culture. There is an edge to the storytelling, seen even in live-action and animated shows from the early 1960s, which remains compelling for American viewers. Johnny Quest may have been cool and dangerous for its time, but imagine if Johnny Quest, like Sokko, had been allowed to carry a pistol and command a giant robot! In Japan there is generally a greater distinction between fantasy and reality, which is how creators in Japan have generally explained the graphic tone of their content. They didn’t have a Dr. Wertham, for example, leading a Congressional charge that comics were inciting youth to violence. Fred Schodt agreed, and added that Japan’s low crime rate, gun control, and overall group-sensitivity in the culture would help maintain a boundary between fantasy and what can be expected to happen in real life. But as Japan experiences more of the kind of violence that happens in the US, he added, maybe those lines will blur and the graphic tone will become an issue.


Now, back to that giant robot. What kid would root for a powerful mascot armed with super gadgets? While the secret agents in the show are talking into their pen communicators and shooting it out with baddies, Johnny’s robot has quite an arsenal at his disposal: Finger Missiles, Back Missile, Bazooka Cannon (which fires out of the top of the robot's head), Eye Ray/Beams, Flamethrower (from his mouth) and Electrocution Wires. Don't mess with Johnny. If you are a fan of Japanese monsters, heroes, and toys (and love spies!), Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot (Giant Robot) is a fantastic adventure! Learn more about the series here. Related posts: Skyers 5U.N.C.L.E. Japanese EditionsJames Bond Japanese EditionsIan Fleming's JapanGreen Hornet MangaU.N.C.L.E. and Batman MangaSpies Robots & MonstersSpies Robots & Monsters IIMarine BoyInterview: Kevin Dart's Powerpuff Girls.


Selected Spy Vibe Posts: Interview: Trona RobbinsEddie IzzardThe Prisoner Capt Scarlet 50thHugh Hefner R.I.P.Jack Good R.I.P.Interview: Shaken Not StirredCallan 50thSpy Vibe Radio 7The Prisoner 50th EventSpy-Fi EventKaho Aso 007Two MillionBo DiddleyCarnaby PopLe Carre EventsBilly Bragg SkiffleElvis 68Jack Kirby The PrisonerCasino Royale ConcertReview: The Prisoner Vol 2Interview: The Prisoner Essential GuideMaud Russell MottisfontSpy Vibe Radio 4Batman GallantsAdam West R.I.P.Village TriangleRoger Moore R.I.P.Spy Vibe Radio 3Sgt Pepper 50thSatanik Kriminal OST60s OverdriveMake Love in LondonSpy Vibe Radio 2Spy Vibe Radio 1James Bond StripsPropaganda MabuseInterview: Police SurgeonXTC Avengers1966 Pep SpiesBatman Book InterviewExclusive Fleming InterviewAvengers Comic StripsRobert Vaughn RIPUNCLE FashionsThunderbirds Are Pop!, Interview: Spy Film GuideLost Avengers FoundThe Callan FileMission Impossible 50thGreen Hornet 50thStar Trek 50thPortmeirion Photography 1Filming the PrisonerGaiman McGinnins ProjectIan Fleming GraveRevolver at 50Karen Romanko InterviewMod Tales 2Umbrella Man: Patrick MacneeNew Beatles FilmThe Curious CameraEsterel Fashion 1966Exclusive Ian Ogilvy Interview007 Tribute CoversThe Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama Review.
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