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Jul 222015
 

It’s a well-known fact that the Super Mario Bros. video games were (and still are) so popular that the franchise extended to animated shows, a live action movie, and other merchandise. Now here’s a rare item that I haven’t thought of in years, but still remember well. It’s an album called Nintendo: White Knuckle Scorin’.

It was released in 1991 around the same time as the release of Super Mario World as well as the Super NES. The hype for this classic game was already high, so just the look of the album cover was enough to get anyone interested. That sure got me excited at first because at the time I thought it was some kind of Nintendo soundtrack.

However, I didn’t bother to get this album when I discovered that the songs had nothing to do with Super Mario World and were performed by various artists I never heard of before. As great as it looked, that makes this one of the most misleading album covers I had ever seen.

Now years later, I was able to do some research on it. It turns out that there’s a short comic that comes with it called White Knuckle Scorin’ the Adventure. It’s about Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach (known as Princess Toadstool at the time) going to Dinosaur Land for a vacation. Then of course Bowser and the Koopalings show up and capture the princess and it’s up to the Mario Bros. and their new ally Yoshi to rescue her.

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That already sounds interesting since I have always enjoyed the Super Mario Bros. comics. However, this particular comic was insane. It constantly leaves the impression that the characters are idiots except for the princess, though it keeps mentioning that she also has a “dynamite bod”.

It also doesn’t help that in this comic, neither Yoshi nor Bowser knows how to read. This is definitely something you would never expect from a Super Mario Bros. story, but it’s still good.

There are also points in the comic, where song cues are mentioned when the song title is in the dialogue. It’s not a bad idea but it would’ve been better if at least some of that dialogue had actually been in the album, like in The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience where the characters say their one-liners between songs. That would’ve been cool.

As for the songs themselves, they’re actually pretty good. There are ten songs total and it turns out that the first song, Ignorance is Bliss by Jellyfish, is in fact about the Super Mario Bros. characters. However, the other nine songs don’t but I can see them setting a mood while looking at the pictures within the comic.

Though misleading, this Nintendo album is an interesting one overall. I admit that it’s not a common item that comes to mind when I think of Super Mario and it’s very hard to find a copy nowadays, but it’s still a good one to at least look back on.

Mar 252014
 

Normally I don’t blog about reality shows, but one that really stands out to me is Comic Book Men (2012-present). It’s about what goes on at Kevin Smith’s comic book shop in Red Bank, New Jersey, which is called Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. (The Stash for short.) That is truly a work of art. I mean, what better icons to represent The Stash than the lead characters of Kevin Smith’s first big hit film, Clerks.

Running The Stash is Walt Flanagan the manager, Mike Zapcic a comic book expert, and Ming Chen the technical expert. Then there’s Bryan Johnson, who doesn’t officially work at The Stash, but he helps out often.

I met Mike, Ming, and Bryan at MegaCon 2014.

Each episode is accompanied by a podcast with the five of them. The commentary is hilarious, especially when they discuss pop culture.

This autograph photo is from the episode when Ming had the idea for a zombie promotion at the Stash, which didn’t work out. Personally, I thought it was a creative idea.

My most favorite parts are when customers try to sell their old valuable memorabilia to The Stash. Whether it’s comic books, toys, animation cels, etc., The Stash is open to buy them. However, the negotiations of how much to sell the stuff for can be intense at times. Sometimes there’s a sale and sometimes there isn’t, but it’s real interesting when the pop up facts describe each item. It can feel nostalgic, especially if it’s about something I once had as a kid.

There are times when it’s difficult to identify the value of a piece of memorabilia. That’s when the guys call in expert popculturist Rob Bruce. It just blows me away about how much he knows about difficult types of pop culture.

This is an awesome series that makes you feel good about being a comic book fan, whether you’re hard core or not.

Dec 062013
 

Welcome back. Well, if you thought the Super Mario Bros. graphic novel was something, you should see this one. It’s called The Best of the Nintendo Comics System and it contains comics about other Nintendo franchises that are just as rare.

It starts with Game Boy: In the Palm of your hand. You remember the original Game Boy? Back then the most popular game at the time was Super Mario Land. I expected this to be about Mario’s adventures in that world, but it isn’t. It’s about all of these characters coming into the real world and causing havoc. What a disappointment, and even though Princess Daisy appears, she is nothing like the modern version.

Next we have Legend of Zelda comics. Now here’s some great material, but once again it’s much easier to reference this to the cartoon series with all of the sword zapping battles and Link attempting to get Princess Zelda to kiss him. However, there are some references to Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, like Link’s friend Bagu, who helped him cross the Saria River.

Would you believe it? There are some comics about Captain N: The Game Master as well. One major difference from the cartoon series is that Samus Aran actually appears and helps the N team on Metroid. What a gorgeous blonde she is.

Another major difference is that Mother Brain’s league of evil also included a villain named Unanos. I have no idea what video game he’s from.

Then there’s a Metroid comic, which is about one of Samus’s adventures in space as she battles Mother Brain and her forces. It’s unfortunate that there’s only one here.

The last group of comics in this graphic novel is about Punch-Out. Now I’ve never played Punch-Out, so this is tough to get into. From what I understand, it’s about a struggling boxer named Little Mac that’s being trained by former heavy weight champ Doc Lewis in order to be the best.

If you thought that the referee in the video game looked a lot like Mario, in the comics he actually wears the hat. Can you believe it?

There you have it. Two awesome graphic novels containing classic adventures based on Nintendo characters. It’s too bad they don’t make comics like this anymore.

Dec 032013
 

Back in 1989, animated shows based on the Nintendo franchises were a huge part of what first got me interested in the original NES console and the classic games for it. A year later the Nintendo franchises came to comic books. As a result, there were two rare graphic novels. Let’s start with The Best of the Super Mario Bros.

At the time it was easier to reference this graphic novel to The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. Both of which are still classic favorites of mine. The comics are much different though. For instance, quite a few adventures feature Princess Toadstool’s father the Mushroom King. He was never in any of the Super Mario Bros. cartoons or any of the video games, but the king is an interesting character because he’s quite a buffoon.

Other unusual differences include currency labeled as Koopabits (whatever those are), the number one soda in the Mushroom Kingdom is Koopa Kola Classic, the worlds are actually labeled by numbers like in the video games, and Mario’s favorite comic book hero is Dirk Drain-Head the superhero plumber. Since when did the Mushroom Kingdom ever have a comic book store?

There are also quickie one-page sections with reoccurring segments. One of my favorites is Dear Princess Toadstool, which features other characters writing in questions for her. Questions about, Luigi wanting equal time in the “name game”, King Bowser Koopa earning the nickname “Muffin”, and Bob-omb wanting acceptance for what he is, a bomb. Even Tryclyde asks about whether or not he should have cosmetic surgery as part of a scheme to ask the princess on a date. That is some funny stuff.

Wart actually makes appearances in the comics as well. I always wondered what became of him after his defeat in the Super Mario Bros. 2 game, since he never appeared in any of the later Mario titles.

Speaking of Super Mario Bros. 2, one adventure I really liked was about Mario on a mission to save the princess from Bowser. She was being tortured in silly ways like being made to watch a shy guy fashion show and then forced to listen to a debate by two Fry Guys about the names for the little things on the ends of shoelaces. If that wasn’t funny enough, the shy guys keep kicking Mario’s butt as he repeats the first area over and over. They even have donuts and coffee while doing it. Now that’s hilarious.

Of course there’s plenty of Super Mario Bros. action like leaping on and off platforms, throwing mushroom blocks at enemies, and entering doorways that look like giant bird heads. Oddly, the power-ups are hardly featured at all. What is a Mario adventure without power-ups?

Whenever Mario goes on a solo mission in a water world, he meets up with Stanley the talking fish. This character is also only in the comics. Stanley follows Mario everywhere talking about his love life, which makes him a nuisance. Stanley isn’t evil, just annoying.

That should cover the highlights in this great graphic novel. Don’t forget there’s a second one. So check my blog for part 2 to read about it.

Sep 132013
 

The cereal icon Cap’n Crunch has been around for a long time. Back in the 80s he had archenemies, even though the adventures never became more than commercials.

The archenemies I’m talking about are the evil Sog Master and his lackeys, the soggies. Now who remembers the soggies? And did you know that there were action figures of these characters as well?

The soggies’ main goal is to make all cereals disgustingly soggy, but Cap’n Crunch cereal supposably never turns that way, no matter how hard they try. Makes you wonder whatever became of those soggies as well as that giant robot that blocks Sog Master’s attacks with its cereal head.

Here’s a real rarity. Cap’n Crunch had a comic book back in 1986. It’s just all one story about the Sog Master trying to conquer the universe with a super sogger cannon and it’s up to Cap’n Crunch and a couple of kids to stop him. It sounds like a typical story line, but at least it’s not portrayed as a long commercial.

I thought this would be interesting to share since Cap’n Crunch commercials have changed over the years. It’s very nostalgic, so let’s step it up while I’m on a roll.

Another rare comic book based on a reoccurring hero, whose adventures never exceeded commercials, is The Adventures of Jell-O Man and Wobbly. Now these characters were cleverly made of the word “Jell-O”. First, Jell-O Man’s head is the “O”, the “E” is the arms and torso, and the two “L”s are his legs. His dog Wobbly is the “J” and the dash is his nose. Apparently, he never barks. Wobbly can only say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah”.

This issue was made in 1991 and contains many different adventures about these heroes protecting Jell-O products everywhere from greedy villains like the Shoveler, Snackosaurus, and Grabby the robot. As I recall, only the Shoveler was in a commercial once. There’s no mention of where these guys came from, but I can’t say I blame them. I mean, who wouldn’t find Jell-O products irresistible.

Jell-O Man and Wobbly don’t really fight the enemies. They prefer to use a more outsmarting approach. So are they really superheroes, or what?

Honestly, I don’t really remember where I got these comic books, but I’m glad that I did. Doesn’t this bring you back?