Tag Archives: Indiana Jones

Throwback Thursday: the Indiana Jones “Find Your Fate Adventure” books!

Here’s another happy Christmas memory — the Find Your Fate Adventure  books featuring Indiana Jones.  I was happy indeed when Santa brought these.  They were first published by Ballantine Books in 1984 and 1985, and they were basically Choose Your Own Adventure books in which you teamed up with Indy in the same type of archeological adventure you saw in the movies or in his comic book series.

Like most series of this type, they were penned by different authors and tended to vary in quality.  The second book, “Indiana Jones and the Lost Treasure of Sheba,” was authored by Rose Estes, who wrote some terrific title in the Endless Quest series, TSR’s own excellent take on the format in the Dungeons & Dragons genre.  There also were several written by R.L. Stine, they were reprinted in the 90’s following his popularity with his Goosebumps series.

I had the first four that you see below.  I seem to remember one being kinda bad, but I’m not sure I remember which.  It might have been Andrew Helfer’s “Indiana Jones and the Cup of the Vampire.”  (It was whichever book portrayed the reader as Indiana Jones’ cousin, who he repeatedly addressed as “Cuz.”)  The other books were damned great fun, though.  I do remember Estes’ “Lost Treasure of Sheba” being quite good.

I never owned the fifth book you see below, and never read it.  I can’t resist including it here, though, simply because of its title — “Indiana Jones and the Ape Slaves of Howling Island.”  If that isn’t the most interesting title in the history of western literature, I don’t know what is.  I’m 45 years old, and I would snap that up right off the bookstore shelf if I saw it.  Somebody should have gotten a raise for that one.

 

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Throwback Thursday: Indiana Jones action figures!!

I was thrilled when these Indiana Jones action figures arrived for me under the Christmas tree in 1983.  I loved “Raiders of the Lost Ark” more than I loved “Star Wars.”  I was truly surprised, too — I didn’t even know that they existed.

Why was that, I wonder?  Was Kenner just not advertising them much?  The company sure wasn’t shy about advertising its “Star Wars” figures.

That very last figure you see is the German mechanic that Indy fought at the desert base, when he and Marion were trying to hijack that plane.  (Dear God, was that one of the greatest movie scenes of all time.)  Anyway, the German mechanic toy had a spring-activated arm for clobbering action, and he came with a little plastic wrench.  Good times.

 

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Throwback Thursday: early 1990’s “Aliens” and “Predator” comics.

I was chatting here with a friend last week about the “Aliens,” “Predator” and “Aliens vs. Predator” comics produced by Dark Horse Comics in the 1990’s.  While Marvel, DC and Image Comics all specialized in their superhero universes, Dark Horse tended to corner the market on hot properties in science fiction and horror.  (The company actually did try to compete by launching its own superhero line, but its unsuccessful “Comics’ Greatest World” universe lasted a mere three years.)

Dark Horse acquired the rights to the biggest science fiction movie characters of the first half of the decade, including “Aliens,” “Predator,” “Terminator,” “Robocop,” and “The Thing.”  It also produced great books in other genres too, like Frank Miller’s legendary “Sin City” series, Matt Wagner’s brilliant “Grendel,” and “Indiana Jones” comics.   (I never actually saw “Indiana Jones” on the shelves; the two retailers in my smallish Virginia college town never carried it.)

Perhaps strangely, I don’t remember any regular ongoing series for “Aliens,” “Predator” or “Aliens vs. Predator.”  Instead, the company published limited series on an ongoing basis.

Dark Horse had been a young company back then — it had started only four years earlier, in 1986.  But I’ll be damned if the people running the company didn’t know their stuff.  Not only did they snatch up big-name properties, they did a great job in producing consistently high-quality “Alien” and “Predator” books.  (Maybe “Aliens: Genocide” wasn’t as good as the other series, but it was really more average than flat-out bad.)  I honestly don’t know how they managed to publish such uniformly excellent comics that drew from a variety of creative teams.  The “Big Two,” Marvel and DC, produced their share of mediocre comics — even for tentpole characters or major storylines.  (See the “Batman” chapters of DC’s “Knightfall,” for example, or Marvel’s “Maximum Carnage” storyline for Spider-Man.)

Was Dark Horse’s track record better because their target audience was adults?  Did they just have really good editorial oversight?  Or did they maybe share such oversight with 20th Century Fox, which had a vested interest in its characters being capably handled?  I’m only guessing here.

I’ve already blathered on at this blog about how I loved “Aliens: Hive,” so I won’t bend your ear yet again.  An example of another terrific limited series was “Predator: Race War,” which saw the title baddie hunting the inmates of a maximum security prison.  And yet another that I tried to collect was “Aliens vs. Predator: the Deadliest of the Species.”  The series had a slightly annoying title because of it was a lengthy tongue twister, but, God, was it fantastic.  I think I only managed to lay hands on four or five issues, but the art and writing were just incredibly good.

Take a gander at the covers below — all except the first are from “The Deadliest of the Species.”  I think they are some of the most gorgeous comic covers I’ve ever seen, due in no small part to their composition and their contrasting images.  And I’ve seen a lot of comic covers.  I think the very last cover you see here, for Issue 3, is my favorite.

I would have loved to collect all 12 issues … I still don’t know how the story ended.  (It was partly a mystery, too.)  But at age 19, I absolutely did not have the organizational skills to seek out any given limited series over the course of a full year.

In fact, this title may well have taken longer than that to be released … Dark Horse did have an Achilles’ heel as a company, and that was its unreliable production schedule.  Books were frequently delayed.  To make matters worse, these were a little harder to find in the back issues bins.  (I don’t know if retailers purchased them in fewer numbers or if fans were just buying them out more quickly.)

I suppose I could easily hunt down all 12 issues of “The Deadliest of the Species” with this newfangled Internet thingy.  But part of being an adult is not spending a lot of money on comic books.  Maybe I’ll give myself a congratulatory present if I ever manage to get a book of poetry published.  Yeah … I can totally rationalize it like that.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: 80’s Wolverine posters!

The first of the posters you see below was created in 1987 with art by Art Adams; the second in 1989 with art by Mike Zeck.  (Is there something ironic about an artist named “Art?”)  These definitely bring back 90’s memories for me, though — I remember looking them on my friends’ dorm room walls at Mary Washington College.  (The Adams’ piece that popped up in the dorms might have been different; there are several variations of the image, and I seem to remember an all-black background.)

That would have been the Spring of 1991, toward the end of my freshman year.  It was just before I’d really discovered superhero comics, even though I’d grown up with Sgt. Rock, Indiana Jones, Conan the Barbarian and Archie.  I thought costumed heroes were generally a stupid idea; not even the Batman craze after the Tim Burton’s 1989 film attracted me to the genre.  (Burton’s film was actually considered quite groundbreaking at the time; this was long before Christopher Nolan’s amazing work eclipsed it and its sequels.)

I didn’t even know who Wolverine was.  (Trust me, I was fully converted to both Marvel and DC fandom during my sophomore year.)  I remember listening to a classmate muse about the image of Wolverine fighting Captain America — if Wolvey’s adamantium claws could cut through anything, and Cap’s adamantium shield couldn’t be broken, how would the melee depicted play out?  (Yes, I’ve long since learned that Cap’s shield is made of vibranium; I’m just not sure if that’s a retcon or not.)

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: “The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones” comic books

No, I’m not talking about the Marvel Comics adaptation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981); I’ve written about that separately here at the blog.  This was a regular ongoing comic book title between January 1983 and March 1986.

And every issue of it was a mind-boggling pleasure for a fourth grader whose favorite hero was Indiana Jones.  I remember issues one and two waiting for me after school one day, displayed upright on the kitchen table.  My Dad had picked them up for me.  (He was constantly trying to help me with a problem that had plagued my childhood — I simply never owned enough comic books.)  These were a departure from the “Sgt. Rock” comics that my father usually bought for me, but damn if they weren’t a thousand times better.  I was stunned by the very concept of them.  “Raiders” was a … COMIC BOOK now!?

Of course the plots were derivative of the film.  Ninety percent of the places Indy went, an ancient artifact or temple held a terrifying secret, often unleashing a power that could control or destroy the world.  And only Indy’s superior knowledge of archeology — or just his sheer pluck — would allow him to employ it to vanquish the bad guys.  [Spoiler warning for “Raiders,” by the way.]  The writing was damn good, as far as I can remember.  And we got to see Marion, Sallah, Marcus Brody and even Captain Katanga again.

You see that cover where Indy is on the wing of a plane?  That bad guy just might be one of the Hovitos … I can’t remember well enough to be sure.  At one point this adversary steals Indy’s whip and tries to use it against him.  (It doesn’t turn out well for him.)  In fact …I think it was the scene you see on the cover.  I’m not sure why the artist depicted a grappling hook instead.  I remember the villain’s line being, “It would be fitting for such a man to die by the sting of his own weapon.”  I have no idea why I remember that dialogue after 35 years (and little else about the issue).  The mind is a funny thing.

All of the covers were damn cool.  I happen to love that final one  you see at the bottom.  That was Indy’s adventure at Stonehenge.  But the first two covers you see are the ones that I would eventually like to get framed, someday after fame brings me opulence — those were the ones waiting for me on the kitchen table that day in 1981.

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Star Wars” Playsets

The Internet is utterly resplendent with Star Wars toys websites.  Good Lord.  If you are not part of that subculture, you’d be surprised at the research and exactitude displayed by these collectors in cataloging their wish lists.  These people track the obscure variations of 70’s and 80’s action figures with the same precision as a linguist researching ancient Etruscan dialects.  If you don’t believe me, just google “double-telescoping lightsaber.”

I have no comparable expertise.  But I can tell you what I loved as a boy.  These two playsets were my favorites, and both might strike someone as odd choices.

The first was the Jawas’ “Droid Factory.”  I call it an odd choice because I have never heard another child speak of it.  (And the kids absolutely did talk about their Star Wars toys if they were especially prized products.  If you received The “Millennium Falcon” or the “Slave-I” for Christmas, you proclaimed that news gleefully at the bus stop immediately after  vacation.)  I certainly never had heard of it or placed it on my list for Santa.

But the “Droid Factory” was fun as hell.  It combined the magic of the Star Wars universe with some of the creativity of Tinker Toys.  Look at the pieces below.  You could make R2-D2 (or his evil twin) or other droids, including a four-legged bot that could carry a Jawa.  You could kinda make something that looked like the Mars Rover.  That black thingamajiggy could give you a satellite or a radar droid.  And they all had their own specific placement in the factory, to nourish the obsessive compulsive disorder in all of us.

Some other kids somewhere must have liked it, however.  After the arrival of “Return of the Jedi” in 1983, the very same toy was released again — only this time it was colored gray, and was marketed as “The Jabba the Hutt Dungeon.”

My second favorite set was the far more recognizable “Jabba the Hutt Action Playset.”  That WAS a well known toy and I absolutely BEGGED for it when I was in the fourth grade.

It might seem like an odd choice, though, because … it was a pretty static toy.  Neither Jabba the Hutt or Salacious Crumb (yes, that actually was the smaller character’s name) actually moved around much in the movie, having been controlled only by contemporary animatronics or puppetry.  Their toys didn’t move much either — only Jabba’s arms could be manipulated, and those only a inch or so up and down.  There wasn’t much that you could do with them.

Jabba’s shallow plastic throne could be opened up to double as … the rancor pit, if memory serves.  And that didn’t make much sense, because that awful trapdoor in the movie was located in front of him.  He didn’t wiggle away his massive heft, invite the wayward to try his throne out, and then spring a booby trap on them, right?  Whatever.

But any 80’s kid who owned Jabba could tell you that the real fun was consigning all of your other action figures to be marshaled forth before Jabba, in his “court.”  There, they could be questioned, sentenced, whatever.  (The good guys always got away.)  It was so much fun that all sorts of waylaid action figures found themselves before Jabba — even those from other universes.  My “Raiders of the Lost Ark” action figures occasionally wound up in Jabba’s court, for example.  (For reasons I can’t remember, Indiana Jones and the “Arab Swordsman” formed a temporary alliance from time to time.)

These were fun toys.  If I ever have the wealth and time enough to pursue toy collecting, I’m going to find these again.

 

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“The Microbe is so very small …”

“The Microbe is so very small
“You cannot make him out at all,
“But many sanguine people hope
“To see him through a microscope.”

—  Hilaire Belloc, “More Beasts for Worse Children,” 1897

“Too bad the Hovitos don’t know you the way that I do … BELLOC.”

—  Indiana Jones, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 1981

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