Sunday, June 29, 2014

Erlangen - getting there and back again

It´s been a week since I came back from the Comic Salon in Erlangen and it feels kind of surreal. Looking back now I could almost think it didn´t happen if it wasn´t for the huge pile of ( new ) comics I have to read.

And I´m saying " a huge pile of new comics " because there´s another pile on my desk with old comics that I have to put somewhere pretty soon.

Because just Yesterday I got two packages : one with my latest order from amazon and another from my online comic shop. Normally this is a good thing and I spend most of the weekend reading new comics and bagging and boarding my comic collection but right now I just don´t know where to begin with. On one side it´s great to have that many comics to read but one of the downsides of finding all those comics you had missing in your comic collection at conventions is that you have to put them in the collection and I haven´t the foggiest idea where to find my issues of SHAMAN´S TEARS or how to fit all the WEISSBLECH comics into the box.

( HORROR SCHOCKER just celebrated it´s 10th anniversary, congrats ! )

Thank the comic gods above that I still have the FLASH longbox under my desk and I found the place where I previously put my old VALIANT trades but I already had to take out some stuff from my comic shelf to put in the Legion Archives and the second ALRAUNE hardcover. I´ll either need a new box ( probably more than one ) for my trades and comics or I will definitely have to get rid of the computer desk to put in another shelf.

Which would probably be the better solution because I need a place to put my album sized comics like HORROR SCHOCKER and Black Tower comics.

But I really don´t want to complain because it´s always good to have a lot of comics to read. Yes, at the moment my desk looks like it was hit by a comic bomb but eventually I will get it all cleaned up once I have read all the stuff I got at Erlangen - and written about it on my blog. So right now you are probably wondering why it took me one week to start the post about my latest trip to the 16th Comic Salon in Erlangen. And you are without any doubt expecting to hear some wild adventures with me rescuing some damsels in distress and pulling off some daring escapes.

Well, the truth is much more mundane. I just was tired. I´m not as fit as I used to be and my knee injury especially made Erlangen less exciting.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Okay, that sounds a bit melodramatic but if you have read this blog for a while you know that I like to exaggerate. A bit. On occasion. But I´m not kidding in this case.

Erlangen is not as much fun if you can´t walk at least 12 hours straight. Because not only do you have to keep walking when you are at the con since there are not that many sitting accommodations available. The general idea is to get the people moving from table to table so they can browse - and hopefully buy - more comics after all. But if you want to attend the discussions or visit one of the many comic expositions that means more walking. And there never is somewhere to sit down at an exposition. You know, I only organized one art expo in my life ( although I helped prepare at least a dozen when I was working at the art museum in Kornwestheim ) but I did make sure there was a chair and some food and drinks so that the visitors could sit down and take time to study the art.

But that´s not the topic of this post. Maybe I will chronicle my adventures into the world of art if there are enough readers interested in that. Okay, back to Erlangen. Yes, you can take a break in between and go to your hotel ( which I did often since my hotel room was not that far away from the convention ) or get something to eat ( which in my case mostly were restaurants along the way to the hotel because of my bad knee ) but I didn´t have the stamina to go out afterwards - I was just wiped out after six or seven hours of walking. So I missed out on all that excitement.

And that IS a big part of the Erlangen experience. Not only seeing all the latest comics in Germany in one place but to go to the comic exhibitions.

To partake in the panel discussions, spend some time drinking with old buddies and hopefully rub shoulders with comic pros, see some cool cosplayers and talk with other comic fans while standing in line to get comics signed and hopefully some sketches from your favorite artists.


This is one of the reasons why I also said this was the best of times. Because I managed to get a lot of sketches for my bigger sketchbook.

Oddly enough this was the first time I went to Erlangen without having any particular artist that I absolutely wanted to get a sketch from. And of course I ended up with more sketches than last time. Because there was nobody announced that garnered my special sketch attention ( with a few exceptions but most of them were signing at the PANINI booth and trying to get a sketch there is mostly a waste of time since comic fans have to participate in the PANINI version of The Hunger Games to get lucky ) I decided to leave my little sketchbook at home. There are only a few blank pages left so I only take it with me for special artists and I get the better ones with the big sketchbook anyway. I also thought that I would probably only loose it somewhere so it stayed in the drawer. But I managed to get some really cool sketches including one from Toni Greis which is like the Holy Grail for german convention goers because Toni only manages to do a few sketches each day. Not because he´s lazy or slow but because he puts so much work into it. So the wait to get a sketch is totally worth it.

( Cosplay goddess Yaya Han by Toni Greis, sadly not the sketch I got )

Another reason why my trip to the Comic Salon Erlangen wasn´t a total bust is that it is still Erlangen, the biggest comic convention in Germany.

Especially now that the Comicbörse in Stuttgart is cancelled until further notice it´s one of the best places to get comics at a bargain price. Plus you can get many comics signed and with a little sketch from the artists.

You can buy stuff directly from the creators so every cent goes directly into their pocket and you can find some very rare comics at the comic flea market which takes place every Saturday morning right outside the convention. Which has the nice side effect that there is no entrance fee to be paid so it´s always full of people, some of them come directly from doing their weekend shopping who want to spend their change on comics.

And that´s what it´s all about. Getting some comics. So I will be talking a lot about the comics I got this year because there is not much else I did. No fancy stories about parking the car somewhere and then walking for hours and getting completely lost because we couldn´t remember where we parked it this time around. There will also be no strange adventures at parties or bars mentioned because after the con I mostly went to my hotel room and watched tv or read some comics. Also since this is not the first Erlangen diary I´m not sure if I should write something about the town itself. Most german comic fans have already been there and if my readers from abroad are interested in it I have to say I didn´t get to see much of it besides the stretch between the hotel and the convention center.

This time I was lucky to get a hotel room that was pretty close because as always I waited much too long for booking. It was a bit expensive but because of my health condition I opted for the closest one I could find.


Over the past years I have stayed at quite a few hotels ( and if you have read my previous Erlangen diaries you already know some of the horror stories involved with that ) but I don´t think I have been at the HOTEL STADTHAUS before - although I can´t be sure since I stayed at two different ones last time. My room cost 245 EUROS for the three days ( 95 EUROS for the holiday and 75 for the following two days ) and the hotel was really nice although I have three complaints. Well, the first one is not really a complaint and it was only bad for me because of my injured knee : naturally I had a room on the second floor so I had to climb the stairs.

My second complaint is also not a real gripe but more something that just irritated me on a personal level. There was no door to the washing room.

Or better the washing compartment of my hotel room. I know, this is just a personal preference but I found it just weird that there was no door at the section of the room that was designed for taking a shower. I mean, not that there was anybody who came into my room during my stay in the hotel but if there had been one he would have gotten a clear view of me being on the crapper or stuff straight from the door. And now comes my third complaint which is the real one. A big problem was that the floor of the shower got very slippery once it was wet. I almost slipped and fell on my first day and I was very careful taking showers for the rest of my stay. But the slippery wet shower floor and glass door is a deadly combination.

Now leaving the shower deathtrap aside the hotel was really nice, there was free internet at the rooms ( not that I took my laptop with me, that was another thing I could loose ) a tv where I could watch wrestling and the bed was really comfortable. In fact, I slept better in that bed than in my own and if I hadn´t been terribly weak and puny I would have nicked the mattress. Hey, everybody takes a souvenir from the hotel room.

Anyway, normally I don´t write that much about my hotel rooms ( at least I don´t think I do since I haven´t re - read previous con diaries ) but this time I spent rather much time in it. Usually you just get up, shower, eat breakfast, then go to the convention to walk around and buy comics until it closes, go back to the hotel room to take another shower, then you go out to party or meet people, go back to the hotel to sleep, rinse, repeat.

The hotel room is just a place where you can crash between convention days and keep your stash of comic books until it´s time to leave again.

Thank goodness Erlangen is only every two years, otherwise it would kill me. Although the first day was very high duty. I still don´t know if it was a blessing or a curse that we arrived late on the first day because while we missed the first three hours I would have probably not made it through the day otherwise. I aimlessly wandered around the con floor a lot since the comic dealer where I bought so many hardcovers the previous time wasn´t there anymore and they also had switched a lot of the tables.

I had planned 200 bucks from my comic budget for that table and now it wasn´t going to happen which threw me off my game. The budget was 245 bucks for the hotel room - which really meant setting aside 300 since there were always some unexpected expenses involved with hotel rooms and it´s not a bad idea to tuck away 50 extra credits for the last day of the con. Then 450 bucks for comics and 400 for everything else and the latter one had already taken a big dive. Before going to Erlangen my brother went to a garage to change from winter tires to normal tires ( normally I would have done that but because of my knee I just couldn´t ) and he had to buy new tires since the old ones were just too used up.

Don´t get me wrong, safety always comes first and I wouldn´t have preferred to make the trip to Erlangen with used up tires but my part of that expense combined with 50 EUROS for gas money took away half the budget for eating, drinking and everything else. Like I said, we arrived in Erlangen late because while I had packed pretty much everything I needed the day before my brother did it that morning and to make matters worse we had to get back home to fetch the paper with the name of his hotel.

Thankfully we had only gotten to the first gas station so it wasn´t that big of a detour. Speaking about detours : what is it with those annoying car navigational systems that they always want to go in opposite direction ?

I swear, I have never heard " Please turn around at the next possibility. " so often in my life. I think the only time the car satnav didn´t say it was when we actually DID turn around to get the paper with the hotel´s name.

And the machine also never wants to take the route you want to take. No matter where you want to go and how you want to get there it finds a different way. Because it went so smooth last time we wanted to go by Würzburg again but it took me five tries until it finally accepted that and plotted our drive to Erlangen. It always wanted us to go via the A 18 from Heilbronn which is the quicker route but also the most frequented one.

So I don´t know if we just picked the better route or if we got lucky since most people had already gotten to their destinations and we were just too late but the drive to Erlangen was really uneventful and besides two short parts with construction areas nothing happened. Even the weather was quite warm. In fact, the weather was all around wonderful the whole four days of the convention. Normally it rains on at least one day of the convention but apart from a really cold wind blowing on Friday ( it really paid off that I insisted to pack the Peter Parker pullover ) it was always warm and nice. Thank god for the small comforts of global warming.

Now getting back from Erlangen, that was quite another story. It was everything the drive to Erlangen hadn´t been. There were constructions almost everywhere, we were constantly in traffic jams and it even rained.

The two biggest industrial locations in Germany are Stuttgart and Munich. And the two towns with the worst streets in most need of repairs are Stuttgart and Munich. Because our clever german government wants to " compensate the other cities " so they can be on the same level because that way they can compete with Stuttgart and Munich and therefore ALL the other cities get money for construction work first. Yeah, it´s your hard earned tax Euros at work right here. Never mind that cities like Berlin don´t compete on the same level as Stuttgart or Munich. Berlin competes with cities like Bremen or Dresden. But Stuttgart competes with Paris, Barcelona, Moscow or New York. So Germany has two cities who can compete with the other global players but instead of helping them german government regulations shoot their kneecaps off. Thank you, Angela.

Okay, after that uncharacteristic political tangent let´s get back to this year´s trip to the International Comic Salon in Erlangen. Was it worth it ?

Yes. I wasn´t a healthy as I would have liked to be and so I missed out on a lot of stuff but all things considered it was a good con. The drive there was pleasant, the hotel was nice and nearby, I didn´t go over budget ( I even had some money left on the last con day ), I met up with all the usual suspects ( and Geier really didn´t bite my head off if you were wondering. He says he would never do that but I suspect he could totally do it without putting too much effort into it if he really wanted ), I got a lot of books at a good price, I closed some gaps in my comic collection while adding a few new ones and I even got a few surprise goodies.

I DO know however that I will probably not go to Erlangen in 2016 if I am not 100 percent fit again but this time around not going wasn´t an option anyway since I had already booked the hotel and asked for a free day.

But we will talk about all of that that in detail in our next Erlangen Diaries installment as I´m afraid it´s once again time to bid my readers farewell.


I have to work Tomorrow and I want to be up for that since I already had to stay away from work on Saturday because I wasn´t feeling so good. I did work on Monday and Wednesday which is another reason why I didn´t post earlier. Then I had to rest after work and I was at the doctor´s office on Thursday and Friday so I didn´t get much rest those days which could be the reason I felt sick. I had an MR imagining on Friday but I have to wait until Tuesday when I have an appointment with the orthopedist to find out what the test results mean. Here´s hoping I don´t need surgery.

I also tried to stay away from the internet because the three times I did go on the internet I ended up surfing until five o´clock in the morning.

Even when I tried to do this post it took me too long to find all the pics I needed ( of all the comics I got ) and in the end I decided to postpone it until the next day. Just Yesterday I spend a lot of time looking for pictures of Toni Greis. I wrote about him in the past and you may remember him as the artist of the erotic masterpiece ALRAUNE which was also translated to english and published by Eros Comix in color and the sci fi comic LUNA. The second album of the color version of ALRAUNE is finally available in Germany and the last two chapters of LUNA are still pending publication.

( another Toni Greis masterpiece with his signature ASS - ets )

First I was looking for pictures that looked like the sketch I got or the pencil drawings he sold at the con. Then I had to sort out the ones that were safe to post on the blog - in this case I was even glad that a lot of the pictures are explicit where sex or violence is concerned. But when I was finished I had to power off the laptop because it was too late to start a post and I decided to do it when I could start at ten in the morning. I know I may have gone a bit overboard with the pictures of Toni Greis but I really want to feature more of his art since he´s probably not that well known outside of Germany and I think he deserves the exposure. And if I have learned one thing about pictures on the internet in my nine years writing this blog it´s better to have and not need then need and not have.

One last thing I have to mention is that I found another site that copies my blog . Last year I found this blog which copied all my posts up until Friday, November the 4th 2011and the new one has all the posts until March the 4th 2014. Now I don´t know if I should be annoyed or flattered that someone liked my posts so much that he went to all the trouble of copying them. Maybe he thinks my blog gets more traffic than it actually does ( which may be a reason why I get so much spam in the comment section ) but then he´s in for a rude awakening. At the moment I´m not taking any steps because with the way blogger acts sometimes I think it´s a good idea to have a place on the internet with a back up of your blog.

At least the posts in their first draft from since I can´t see the changes I made in the posts after the first versions. Which are really a lot. Pictures of hot babes are added, new text passages too, more links, new sources found and facts verified are just a few cases where I go back and redo posts. It´s just too bad that most readers don´t go back to read old posts so they miss out on the amazing new stuff I added. My only consolation is that some of my readers may not be checking out the blog on a daily basis so their chances to read the posts in the finished form are higher. In any case I just wanted to let you know that if you stumble upon this other blog by chance I didn´t change the layout or the color scheme and your address to get the full TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN experience is still right here.

So next time we will come to more comics, more convention, definitely more Toni Greis butt pictures and maybe even some cover hommages.

Since this is most definitely the last post for this month I think it´s time to take a little summary. With six posts this month it was a regular month even though I didn´t get to post anything last week. With two posts about Doctor Who and one about Black Tower Comics it was a very British month but I also managed to cover cosplayer Yaya Han ( no pun intended ), some classic Bronze Age Kung Fu comics and the biggest german comic con this year. Also the readership seems to be up with two days going over 1.100 clicks per day, one cracking the 1.200 clicks bar and Today´s record of 1.400 hits and rising. What a way to go, my faithful readers, and I hope I can justify the increase in readership with the quality of my future posts. 

Speaking about the Queen of Cosplay, originally I wanted to put a Yaya Han video at the end of the post ( I think she´s so incredibly hot ! )

but then decided not to. I try to mix things up a bit on this blog and keep them fresh and exciting so I don´t like to put two videos about the same subject in consecutive posts. Unless it´s a series. Then that´s completely fine. And I´m still hoping to get around to do My Big Yaya Han Post ( the intro to the big Yaya Han post was so long that I had to give it a post of its own ) and I don´t want to run out of videos with her prematurely.

There are quite a few good Yaya Han videos on YouTube with her sporting different outfits at various conventions although the comments get quite repetitive and boring after a while. It´s just so sad and unimaginative what people come up with on the internet. Anyway, since Today´s topic is Erlangen here is a video for all who couldn´t attend. Dentroo videooooo !

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not my big Yaya Han spotlight post - yet

Yes, I started this on my MASTER OF KUNG FU MONDAY post but it has gotten longer and longer so I decided to give Yaya Han her own intro post.

There are quite a few posts for which I have already prepared most of the material ( more Deja Vue posts as well the continuations of the Inferno Crossover and I really should do the All Stars post before it turns into one of these posts I keep postponing ) and I´m still fiddling around with the Yaya Han spotlight post. Usually I only use pictures of up to 200 KB but ever since I started doing the posts on the laptop the size of the pictures sometimes gets bigger when I try to cut them down in paint. This means that in some cases I have to use the pictures as I find them. Now I could just use the smaller pictures under 200 KB but since the post is all about her costumes I have decided to go to just under 1 MB here ( I think that´s the limit ) so I can post bigger pictures where you can see all the small detail and really appreciate all the work that went into making them.

There are just so many great costumes to choose from that it´s almost impossible to cut it down to a top ten list ( she has so far made over 260 costumes in the 14 years she´s been cosplaying ). So I have decided to make a separate post on the costumes where I actually known where they are from but there are still a few of those I had to leave in the countdown because they are my favorites like Power Girl, Jessica Rabbit or Chun Li.

So those three will most definitely be in the top five. Like always the order will be subject to change until I have actually written the post, but there is a new costume as my new number one that will blow you away !

Which is a nice segueway because I was simply blown away by the whole controversy about Yaya Han´s chest. Or better the comments she gets.

This post I found online centers about Yaya Han´s comment on facebook about starting a fanpage for her boobs ( which she actually did as an April´s Fool Day prank ) because of all the rude comments she gets.

Maybe if I made a FB page about my boobs some of you can separate the kind of comments you post here. I appreciate you all being here but sometimes I think some of you forget I am a human being with feelings.

Now the guy who wrote the post thinks she´s overreacting and since she is a model and has a " bodacious body " she should get used to it because " dressing in a way that shows off a part of her body will attract attention to that part ". He also has more tips like not to show cleavage if Yaya Han doesn´t want to be stared at, not to be a b - word if her breasts are just that awesome, take it as a compliment, use her boobs as a manipulation device or not to get " pornstar implants " if she acts prudish about it. And as crazy as the post it, most comments on it aren´t much better either.

The thing that I really can´t understand is that some people don´t seem to have any brain cells online. The whole argumentation centers around the old cliche that women which dress a certain way are fair game.

First of just because a woman shows some cleavage doesn´t mean she wants people to stare at it. Men are engineered to be attracted by big breasts by nature but women aren´t genetically programmed to like that.

So you might want to try to restrain yourself a bit in the overtly drooling department. I´ve also heard that if you really want to show your adoration and appreciation flowers don´t hurt. Second IF some women like to dress up as certain characters we should be glad about it and encourage it.

Those women are shining beacons that brighten our sad existences and I think the world is a better place with them in it. I would totally go down on my knees and bow in adoration before Yaya Han if I had the luck to come across her at a con - if my bad knee wouldn´t prevent me from it.

And I probably couldn´t get up afterwards ( for health reasons I mean, not what you are thinking again ). So if you have the luck meeting such a wonderful person who has put a lot of work into that costume you should come up with something better to say than " Nice boobs. " or " I would like to xxx my xxx between your xxx and xxx censored censored . "

Or at least keep those things to yourself. This reminds me of an artist of erotic comics who met a fan who told him that he was a big fan of his work and that he relieved himself a few times a day using his comics. The fan was surprised that the artist didn´t want to shake his hand after that.

How is it that people become such trolls online ? Does Yaya Han know that some people are doing dirty things while looking at her pictures ? Pretty sure. Does she need to read about it on facebook ? Most definitely not.

Whatever happened to class ? You have so much time if you are writing something you don´t have to write the first thing you have on your mind.

Does Yaya have awesome breasts ? Yes. Does that concern anybody besides her fiancee to whom she has probably already shown them ? No. Yes, she´s totally hot and sometimes she wears really skimpy cosplay outfits but a gentleman never tells and enjoys the pretty sights silently.

If you want her to take your comment as a compliment maybe you should phrase it as a compliment. Maybe she does have implants. But my own view on it is that while I think too many people are getting unnecessary cosmetic surgery I think that is a decision that everybody has to make for himself. If you are happier with a bigger bust that´s good enough for me.

If it doesn´t endanger your health there is nothing to say against it.

Now I don´t exactly know what qualifies as " pornstar implants " but when you are a professional model - which Yaya Han is - and your " bodacious body " is what you work with it is only natural to make adjustments if you want to get a certain look. That doesn´t automatical mean you do porn.

I also read comments that she´s an " attention whore " which is just crap.

She´s a professional model and cosplayer who has made her hobby her job. She has an international reputation as one of the best in the world and she has her own brand. Now I know the owner of the Sammlerecke pretty well, so sometimes we talk stuff and he told me that if you are selbstständig ( self employed ) this means selbst ( self ) and ständig ( all the time ). It looses a bit in the translation but basically it means that as your own boss you have to do it yourself and have to do it all the time.

So Yaya Han wouldn´t be on tv shows ( I´m not sure if it qualifies as a reality show ) like HEROES OF COSPLAY if she didn´t think that it would be good promotion for her business. It´s not like the other cosplayers on the show don´t get any exposure from it. And I´m sure that Yaya is also on the show as an ambassador for cosplay and she´s really great at that.

She´s always willing to help out other cosplayers and in her interviews she gives precise, helpful answers for people who might be thinking about starting with cosplay. Yes, some of her answers might sound rehearsed but on the other hand you don´t want to start stuttering or forget what you wanted to say when every interview you give is also in big part self promotion. And she always tells people that there is not only one right approach to cosplay and that you should do what you are comfortable with. You can do it just for the sheer fun of it or you might want to compete with others. If you want to do the latter one you should be aware that there is more pressure involved when people compete for money.

Of course she wants to get more exposure for cosplaying because it´s her profession and she also sees it as an art form. She´s not like certain comic people who don´t have enough self esteem to ask for the same funding movies, books and paintings have been getting for centuries.

There was an episode on HEROES OF COSPLAY where she had been at a convention abroad ( I forgot which country ) where were really passionate about the presentation and they did the costume skids with prerecorded music and lighting effects almost like a little theatrical play and she liked it so much that she wanted to bring that to american audiences. Not to be the big star but because that was the next logical step for cosplaying as an art form for her. This is the direction she sees for this, the next part of the evolution, so she wants to WOW people with this new approach.

She doesn´t have to do that. She also doesn´t have to do new costumes that are always better than the last ones now that she is mostly acting as a judge on cons. I tell you if I was in her place I would probably be too lazy to make new costumes and just whip out an old one. Which is probably the reason why I wouldn´t be in her place. Yaya is where she is right now because she is constantly challenging herself to go way and beyond. I only hope that it´s not always so much of a stress as you see on the show because that´s just too much. There never seem to be any quiet moments and you need to recharge the batteries once in a while.

But I´m starting to go on a rant - well, another rant that doesn´t have anything to do with my initial rant. I guess I have already said my piece about the whole situation and after this long intro I can hopefully concentrate on more pleasant stuff on the Yaya Han spotlight post.

To further elaborate on the whole boob / implant thing here´s a video of Yaya Han cosplaying as Power Girl at the Boston Comic Con 2013 where she explains how you can get the right chest size. Yes, sometimes it´s just a question of buying the right bra. Just don´t read the comments.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Watch out, it´s Master of Kung Fu Monday !

Yes, I also was expecting something else but thanks to the excellent posts from DIVERSIONS OF THE GROOVY KIND ( right here on the blog roll ) about Mike Zeck´s brilliant splash pages for MASTER OF KUNG FU I decided to wax nostalgic about one of my favorite bronze age series.

And it´s a wonder that this is even on my list of best series because I don´t have that many issues of the book and there are no reprints.

There should be ESSENTIALS, trades and hardcovers available of it but if Marvel isn´t interested to get back for the rights to ROM, SPACEKNIGHT to make the fans happy you can bet that Disney is twice as unwilling to shell out any dough for the use of Fu Manchu. So the only option left to us comic fans is to find some issues in dollar bins ( or for a heftier price ) at conventions. Thankfully Erlangen is starting on Thursday ( Huzzah ! ) and while I´m not that optimistic to find some issues - so far this series has been very elusive on german comic conventions - I just might get lucky. And if I can´t find some copies there it´s as good as impossible anyway.


Now it´s been so long since I bought my issues that I´m not entirely sure which really was my first issue and where I saw Shang Chi first. What I DO know is that the first original american issue of THE DEADLY HANDS OF SHANG CHI, MASTER OF KUNG FU I got my hands on was number 116.

And I didn´t get it from my uncle who was a G.I. or a special comic book store, much rather I bought it at a newsstand in Ludwigsburg where I always went for issues of U - COMIX, JOHN SINCLAIR and DIE SPINNE.

For me it was like a miracle because I had no idea how the magazine distribution system worked. It probably had to do with some company taking over the reins from the previous one but all I knew was that from one day to the next there were issues of new exciting comic book series appearing. Up until that day the best you could hope for was the newest issue of your regular series and suddenly there were issues of IRON MAN, DC COMICS PRESENTS, AMAZING SPIDER - MAN or BATMAN popping up.

Mind you, they were just scattered issues and not with any regularity but suddenly the journey to the newsstand at the familiar bus station became an adventure and you never knew what treasures you may find each day.

Back to issue 116, this was towards the end of the book ( the last issue was 125 ) but I´m pretty sure I already knew of Shang Chi so this was not my introduction to the character. The issue was drawn by Gene Day - who had taken art over with issue 100 - and I remember it had a Frankenstein like vibe which appealed very much to me at that time because I was totally immersed in horror in any facets be it comics, movies or pulps.

In the series Fu Manchu had an elixir that granted him immortality but because he had gotten an immunity to it he needed to add blood to the mix. And so he went to one of his favorite sources, his son Shang Chi.

That was mostly what Fu Manchu needed him for : either as a mindless pawn, an organ donor for spare parts or as his own private blood bank. Yes, back in those days comics were already dealing with the problems of cloning and organ donors. Another reason to drain the blood from his son was that he always was a disobedient brat, a constant disappointment.

Mike Zeck is one of my favorite artists and while he didn´t do this issue I wasn´t complaining because I was grateful for any issue I could get. And the art by Gene Day was on the same level. The storytelling was easy to follow even though Gene put much work into it with intricate drawings at the borders and splash pages that really brought out the WOW factor.

( You need to open the picture in a new window to fully appreciate it. )

I found the splash on the always dependable SuperMegaMonkey´s MARVEL CHRONOLOGY website which has an entry on issues 116 - 118 with more of Gene Day´s breathtaking illustrations. It is a trilogy and the titles are Blood of his Blood, Devil Deeds Done in Darkness ( my favorite alliteration ) and Flesh of my Flesh. They just don´t make titles like that anymore.

So was this really the first time I read MASTER OF KUNG FU ?


Most definitely, because the other comics with Shang Chi I read about that time were issues of EDICION DEDICADO A LOS ARTES MARCIALES JUDO KARATE KUNG FU, the spanish version published by LINEA SURCO.

Like many european publishers they didn´t use the original covers ( as you can see in my post about french comics I did last month ) which didn´t make it easy to pinpoint to which particular issues they belong.

On the other hand it benefits the post that the covers are different. Now SURCO or LINEA 83 only covers a short period in the history of spanish comics - the year 1983 to be exact - because it was the old company EDICIONES VERTICE with a new name. Like Marvel does every year nowadays they restarted their old collections with a new number 1 but picked up where they left of. Or - like in the case of KUNG FU - they started new series which didn´t continue once they went out of business.

So while they didn´t publish many issues of the series they - or another company that bought their leftover unsold issues - managed to do a few compilation editions. Basically they were just 5 issues glued together under a cardboard cover and while that was done really cheaply the ones I have still hold up. The only one that was ever made of KUNG FU is one of my prized possessions, not only because it features the Mike Zeck and Gene Day art combo at the top of their game but also because it contains the final 5 issues of the 8 parter GUERREROS DEL AMANECER DORADO.

Since I really didn´t read the book long enough to speak with any authority here I can´t say if this was the best multi part story of it.

What I do know about it is that I really enjoyed it. It was the return of Shang Chi´s biggest adversary, the deadly Fu Manchu ( apparently he had disappeared or was presumed dead ) who hatched another plot to take over the world by substituting world leaders by clones - I think - under his control. It was full of action and the big showdown was on a flying saucer.

The spanish issues had 32 pages so they included 2 issues, although they most definitely were missing some pages since back then the US comics had 17 pages. And there were of course the different covers. Here is the original cover for issue 92 which has the title SHADOWS OF THE PAST

and here´s the spanish issue titled TRIUMPHS OF THE SPIRIT ( ??? ).

On the original cover Mike Zeck goes for a more subtle approach, showing Shang Chi and his love Leiko Wu in danger by some menace of which you can only see part of the shadow. It´s up to the reader´s imagination to fill out the rest. On the spanish cover the mystery is quickly spoiled as you see Shang Chi already fighting the giant ape. Now you might argue that the spanish cover is more scandalous - on the other side it´s a fact that comics with monkeys ( or apes in this case ) on the cover sell better.

Before closing the chapter on the spanish versions of KUNG FU I have to mention issue 7, VIENTO DE MEDIANOCHE which contains US issue 93.

Again, I can only make an educated guess since I have read so little of the MASTER OF KUNG FU series, but this is the best story I have read of it.

It´s one of the best " done in one " issues I read in my entire life and this comic got me more interested in mangas than any manga I read because it introduced me to the asian way of thinking and it conveys their sense of poetry so perfectly. If I haven´t said it : Doug Moench is the s - word.

Now I could go on about the other original issues I could obtain ( issues 100 and 106 ) but that would only repeat what I have already written.


Instead I want to make a quick detour to mention some of the german comics that were published during the martial arts craze and which are the reason why I wanted to call the post MASTERS OF KUNG FU MONDAY.

First of there was the KUNG FU magazine published by the Bastei Verlag.

It included some martial arts comics like the comic adaption of the Kung Fu tv series with David Carradine but also articles about various martial arts and action movie stars. It says " the high art of self defense " on the cover and is advertised as " the adventure and martial arts magazine ". It was published from 1975 to 1981 and pretty popular, reaching issue 155.

Ehapa - the company that published DC in Germany - also had a martial arts series with SUPERMAN PRÄSENTIERT DRAGON, GIGANT DES KUNG FU.

This was an annual publication that made it to 3 issues from 1976 - 1978.

And then there was DIE TÖDLICHEN HÄNDE DES KUNG FU from Williams.

These were black and white pocket books ( 196 pages for 3.80 ) that presented the original MASTER OF KUNG FU series to a german audience.

This was a bit before the time I started reading Williams Marvel but my brother found one of those at a comic convention. As it could not be otherwise for a german comic book they managed to land on the Index for Literatur Harmful to Youths with issues 5 and 6 ( in 1977 and 1978 ).


Time to wrap up things once again even though there are so many great covers left I wanted to post. Oh boy, I guess I will have to stop now and leave it for another post. But before that I want to mention two things.

One is that with all the movies Marvel ( or now Disney ) is doing I can´t believe they still haven´t done a Shang Chi movie considering the fact that this would require very little special effects. This is a no brainer.

The other thing is that if they really want to make money with trades or ESSENTIALS of this comic gem there is a way. In the comics they have already explained ( and with that I mean back paddled ) that Shang Chi´s father was not the REAL Doctor Fu Manchu but rather a chinese sorcerer who discovered the secret to immortality and used Fu Manchu as his alias. Okay, they´d have to put up a disclaimer to that effect at the first page - and change the name of any other characters invented by Sax Rohmer - but that´s still doable. They did it 3 times already for the original western Ghost Rider and there was no money involved. They´d do it if they suspected there were huge amounts of cash to be made with it.

Last but not least, the usual assortment of links on this topic : you can find more spanish comic covers on this post by me on this very blog and for those who want to know more about it there is a post on Ediciones Surco by Tebeosfera. I´m sorry, gringos, but it´s only available in spanish.

For those of you who want to get more detailed background information on Doctor Fu Manchu there´s an episode on ComicGeek Speak , episode 9 from the COMICS WITH OR WITHOUT PULP series all about him.

Also, go to Diversions of the Groovy Kind´s Mike Zeck´s splash page galleries ( part 1 / part 2 ) . You can get more Bronze Age goodness by clicking on the " Mike Zeck ", " Shang Chi " or " Master of Kung Fu " label.

So, finally a comic related post. Now that each post might be the last one before Erlangen ( Tomorrow I´ll most likely spend the whole day sleeping and watching more Doctor Who ) I hope that I can end of a high note.

One of the great aspects of MASTER OF KUNG FU for me has always been that it was kind of a James Bond movie but with someone like Bruce Lee playing the part of the super spy. They really missed out on this one.

Nevertheless I wanted to add a Bruce Lee video to the post and since I couldn´t find HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD ( check it out if you haven´t seen it ) here is I AM BRUCE LEE, a 1.30 hour documentary about the guy who elevated martial arts flicks from trash to an art form. Enjoy !

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