SpartanNerd Review…Masters of the Universe MAGAZINE ISSUE #2 (Vintage Review)

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You gotta love small business!  Daniel Macabee, owner of the Tangled Web in Spartanburg SC, picked this up with ME in mind. It was very much appreciated…he sold it to me for a fair price, and it came with an extra “The Menace of the Evil Horde” mini comic, one of the rarest ever printed!  (Daniel cares enough about my interests to find the right items, is my point.  Does Wal-Mart care.  Nope!)

As a child, I received this magazine as a part of a Publishers Clearing House subscription, I’m sure.  I remember spending lots of time staring at the pages.  I removed the posters, but my mother wouldn’t let us hang them.  Basically these, like all of our books, became narfed up to the point of being trash worthy only.

I love that I have a chance as an adult to re-visit what this was all about.  And as with all of my vintage comics reviews, I will also talk about the ads.

The cover of the book, (above) shows Skeletor and He-Man battling, with Skeletor prominently seated on Spydor.  The cover is an Earl Norem painting…he did all of the covers for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Magazines.  (But not She-Ra.)  He also did the posters that came inside.

What you can’t see is Moss Man in the picture.  The UPC code etc caused him to be cropped out.

Turning the page, you are greeted with your first ad.

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An ad for the SECRET WARS toys.  I had a few of these as a kid.  These were my introduction to Wolverine and to Spider-Man with a black costume.  I had forgotten about the trick shield until recently, when the current Secret Wars comics printed variant covers that mocked these vintage toys.

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One thing about the MOTU magazine, it functioned as a sort of pseudo social network for He-Man fans.  There are letters printed throughout the issue.

Prominently featured here is the instructions for removing the posters inside without damaging the magazine.  Do you think I removed the posters?  NO WAY!  Doing so would remove some of the other content of the magazine, which bothered me back in the day as much as it does now.  As a kid, did I follow these instructions?  Nope.  (I just jerked the posters out, leaving obvious holes where the staples were.)

What better way to start a MOTU magazine than with a letter from He-Man himself?  Here he just summarizes what’s ahead in the book.

Then we get our next ad when we turn the page.

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You are supposed to do this puzzle…so now we are removing pages, AND writing in our prized magazine.  Total sacrilege.

This ad reminds me of the “decoder pen” in the movie “The Christmas Story.”  I do think it does a good job of emphasizing the tactile nature of Oreos.  I think I’ll eat one now…

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The official table of contents.  This reminds me of the font list you see on a word processing program, like Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages.  Nowadays the font list tries to give you an idea of what the font looks like.

Each line of the tale of contents contains a different color and font.  In some classes about doing word processing, the teachers told us that we shouldn’t do this…that it is “tacky.”  I guess a bunch of kids interested in Stinkor might not be so concerned about how “tacky” things look.

Besides this, you can also see little snips of the art in the different sections of the book.

This document pre-dates modern word processing.  All of this would have been cut and pasted by hand.  That’s impressive!

Also, do you notice the lack of photographs?  Earl Norem said in his interview with He-Man.org that at the time, it was more expensive to print photographs than use drawn or painted art.  Doesn’t that seem backwards by today’s standards?  (Notice the ads thought generally feature cartoon art, like the Oreo ad for instance.)

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Letters from the fans.  Each one of these sings the praises of He-Man.  Many kids say something like they want to help He-Man defeat Skeletor.  Some of them have kids art…quite an honor.

We get a promotional ad for the magazine we are reading….

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Four issues for $6.00.  WOW!

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Some older kids wrote letters in on this page.  One kid seems a little ashamed, mentioning that he is fifteen years old.  That would make him about eight years older than the SpartanNerd.  I hope he is still interested.

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Another ad.  This one for Nerds.  It features a contest.  And REAL photos.  I think its comical some of the prizes offered.  First prize is a massive Sony stereo system, with a record player.  Second prize is a CORDLESS PHONE.  Third prize a canon camera that needed REAL FILM.  Fourth prize a Nerds watch.  With prize a bag.  Sixth prize a Nerds stamp.

Last time I checked, Raspberry and Blueberry flavors are still on the shelves…

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Remember me talking about this being a social network sort of…

Here are some articles of interest for the kiddies.  I have never seen the first book, or the second one.  I’d forgotten about the movie “Baby.”  I remember it being sad somehow at the end, however.  Basically they find Baby stranded from its Brontosaurus mother.  Light years before Jurassic Park.

The animal trainer seems familiar.

I don’t remember the ghost movie.

Braingames.  On HBO.  This was early edutainment.  This would evolve into Dora the Explorer and similar.

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Behind these pages we can see the poster.  I am showing you that mine is still intact, and will remain that way!  Here are digital images of the two posters.

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Now here’s an interesting feature.  And yet another social network outlet.  They intended to feature a kid each month who did something heroic.  They would call this featured person, “He-Man of the Issue.”

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Floating Visions.  If you can’t tell what these are without tilting the magazine, maybe you are into the Thundercats instead….

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A featured story.  I would point out that some of this has poster behind it.  So if you sacrifice the magazine for the poster, you lose some of the story.

The artwork is interesting.  The color scheme here is more feminine than we usually see with He-Man stuff.  I wonder if this artist went on to color She-Ra books?

This is a story that glosses over major details and skips to the point.  Heroic warriors are captured.  Skeletor attacks Grayskull.  He-Man wins.

As a teacher, I see something else now.  The reading level of this story is on par with a seven year old.  Important because of what follows.

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The Duke of Lorin is an almost fan-fiction short story.  Not a graphic novel…this is meant for a higher reading level.  Maybe an eleven or twelve year old.  The border that surrounds the story is fantastic!

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As an adult looking in the rear view mirror, Create a Character means something else.  Mattel used this magazine to solicit kids to CREATE A CHARACTER near the end of the line.  (Eventually we would have the Fearless Photog) The goofy feature here isn’t the same thing.  It’s more of a paper-dolls activity.

OK.  So we are supposed to write in the book to solve the OREO puzzle.  Remove the posters.  And now cut out pieces of paper doll.  EEEK.

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The next feature got me at first.  It appears to be a battle scene.  The kind of thing you see everyday on Eternia.  But then you look closely and see how silly it is.  man-At-Arms has a plunger!  Battle cat is a house cat sized animal. Evil-Lyn is carrying a LIGHT BULB.

I’ll let you find the rest!

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There is another little ad.  Choose Your Adventure.

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Another way to mutilate the book.  Work this word-search.

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The Secret of the Sword movie was coming out soon, and She-Ra would be unleashed on all of the little girls.  (Boys too, it turns out.)

Notice that the Evil Horde gets a mention here, but the enemies featured are Skeletor’s baddies.

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The back of the magazine has this ad for a hot-wheels train.  No electricity required.  This time a photo.  It has something to do with being on the back cover, which is the same sheet as the front cover.

The ad prominently attacks the electric train industry by pointing out how much better it is to roll the trains yourself by hand.  You might not remember, but back in 1985, electric trains were all the rage with kids.  Including the SpartanNerd.

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I mentioned that there was a little extra.  This is the real thing!  Manteca and the Menace of the Evil Horde!

I really enjoyed my trip down memory lane.  Thanks for reading, oh Hub-City Geeks.

SpartanNerd Project…Earl Norem Poses

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I had this crazy idea.  Really more of a dream.  I could get each person who is interviewed in the Masters of the Universe Art Book  to sign their article.  Or maybe a piece of art.  I know it never would happen…I am not a well traveled person.  But it was a fine thought.

But not soon after the book was published, one of the greatest artists of Masters of the Universe passed away.  Earl Norem.  I wrote my thoughts right here on the SpartanNerd Blog.  (Link)

To help illustrate my love for Norem’s work, I thought I would attempt to emulate it with the incredible Masters of the Universe Classics figures.  So here is my attempt at “The Sunbird Legacy.”

A few Caveats have to apply.

  • The figures have one expression.  Some have alternate heads.  But you still have a limitation.
  • The hair can be wrong.
  • Norem didn’t always paint the weapons the same way.
  • I don’t have the diorama piece.  As this stuff becomes more available to me, I will see about photographing some of it.

I chose this picture because I thought it was one of the most do-able.  My favorite is the one with He-Man on a lion and Skeletor leading an elephant army, with the space battle among the meteors a close second.  But you’ll see.

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I tried the Snake Armor He-Man head.  But it doesn’t look as good as the original.  In the picture, Skeletor’s sword is more of a scimitar.  The closest I had available is Draego Man’s sword.  The Havoc Staff is bigger than the one in the painting.  This proves to be the biggest problem.  I felt like the pose above was too…boring.  Not capturing the motion of Norem’s work.

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This photo is closer to Earl Norem.  Still not perfect.  It is really hard to get Skeletor to balance like this.  If you look at the Norem at length…(as I have,) you can see that He-Man and Skeletor have very parallel hips.  He-Man’s figure can’t quite stress his head back or hold his shield at quite the same angle, and still keep balance.  (He-Man has weak ankles.)

The colors are pretty good.  The white background is about as good as I could do.  I applied a filter to mute it a little.

So, Hub City Geeks.  What do you think about my new venture?  Can you do better?  Send me your pics, and let me know in the comments!

The Grieving SpartanNerd

Today, (June 22) I just learned that Earl Norem passed away.  (He died on June 19, 2015, at the age of 91.)

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Earl Norem was the incredible artist who did posters and covers for the Masters of the Universe magazine back in the 1980’s.  My mother subscribed to this for me, and I never knew why I stopped getting it.  (Later as an adult I would learn that it was discontinued.)

Norem leaves a legacy of Masters of the Universe work, not only including magazines, but all kinds of books.  Think “Little Golden Books” type.  Also the paperback kind you could get at Book Fairs in elementary school.

I reconnected with Norem’s work back in the late 1990’s, when I was just learning to explore the internet.  I was a part of Adam Tyner’s page, which eventually evolved into He-Man.org.  (I am only a member of the forums there now.  Oh.  And one of my songs was published on the Roast Gooble Dinner soundtrack.)  Back then, I scoured the internet for images of He-Man, and kept a folder on my computer so I could look at them anytime and reminisce.  This folder would follow me to today, where I have it on my mac to circulate desktop pictures.  Norem’s work is the most classically spectacular of all of Masters of the Universe paintings.

Eventually, I would listen to Roast Gooble Dinner, and Val Staples, Emiliano Santalucia, Eamon O’Donahue, and Pixel Dan Eardly would interview Norem.  I listened to this interview at least three times!  Just to hear him talk about his work…and the guy was almost completely clueless that he was revered as a great artist!

To hear his story, he was a painter for advertisements.  It was cheaper for magazines to print artistic work than photographs. Eventually he landed the gig to do some Marvel comics, and then pick up with Conan the Barbarian, eventually leading to He-Man.

He worked in paints.  I recently visited Bob Jones’ University’s Classical Art Gallery, and I dare say Earl Norem’s painting is on par with the great classical masters.  A person might argue that his subject matter didn’t lend to the best examples of classical art, with exaggerated muscles or femininity.  But he always made He-Man, Skeletor, Teela, Gwildor, or whoever look tasteful.  His work emphasised action…his painting always give a sense of energy.

I came up with the idea to try and emulate some of Earl Norem’s paintings with the incredibly posable Masters of the Universe Classics figures.  I will be featuring some of my results here on SpartanNerd.com in the future.

Until then, please go by Earl Norem’s fan page.  (You can see some of his art.  I believe Eamon O’Donahue runs this site.)  Also swing by He-Man.org.