Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at Astro Boy, his pick for another character that might be great for kids' animated movies, and the surprising appearance of motion comics in an animation slot.

If you're a comic book fan of a certain age you grew up in a now almost forgotten America where the "butt" didn't often appear in polite popular culture.  When absolutely necessary it could be alluded to and of course there was a truckload of euphemisms ("hips", "backside", "rear", etc.) that must seem quaint to today's kids.  It definitely wasn't something that was dwelled on so as a huge Astro Boy fan I wasn't thrilled that his bottom played such an important part of the TV spots for his upcoming movie.  In particular I am referring to the line that soon will be on everybody's lips "I've got machine guns in my butt!"*

But as a long-time Astro fan I knew that his tail gunner is an integral part of Osamu Tezuka's original design for the boy robot and not some Hollywood focus group add-on designed to make him appeal to adolescent boys who find that sort of thing hilarious.  As I wrote in a previous column (Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Exit The Anti-Villain), in spite of the extreme tweenification he's gone through in this version I've been giving the movie the benefit of the doubt, hoping against hope it will:

Introduce the character to a new generation of kids around the world.

Help spread Tezuka's message:

What I try to appeal through my works is simple.  The opinion is just a simple message that follows: "Love all the creatures!  Love everything that has life!"  I have been trying to express this message in every one of my works.  Though it has taken the different forms like "the presentation of nature," "the blessing of life," "the suspicion of too much science-oriented civilization," anti-war and so on.

And that it might actually be good.  

2009 has been a pretty sad year for movies so far so an unexpected hit would be especially appreciated right about now.

Once Time-Warner finally gets finished with its reorganization I hope it'll remember that amongst its holdings are the British 'story-strip' characters that Wildstorm tried to relaunch a couple of years ago.  Thanks to Albion most of us at least now know about characters like The Spider, Kelly's Eye and my favorite Robot Archie, but there are still so many more treasures to be found in the back number of those boys' weeklies.

Buster might not have had as many high concept strips as some of the UK boys weeklies of the same era but among the usual allotment of nondescript plucky WWII platoons and heroic footballers (playing proper football of course, not the American kind) there was Galaxus, The Thing From Outer Space.  Editor Ken Mennell created and wrote the first installment though the rest of its 339 episodes were written by Scott Goodall and drawn by South American artist Solano Lopez (who did a lot of work for the British boy's papers but is best known in the States for his Adults Only Eros Comic's Young Witches).

The adorably ugly/cute space alien (face of a platypus, body of a yeti with, inexplicably, the feet of a mole) that could shrink to two inches or expand to giant size was befriended by a pair of school boys who desperately tried to protect him from an uncaring adult world who refused to understand Galaxus meant us no harm.  Sort of an inarticulate anti-Hulk, in spite of his size and strength he most often shied away from fights and regularly expressed himself through the forlorn wail of a heart broken child.

Like a lot of British strips Galaxus is just chockablock with wish fulfillment, engineered to appeal to kids by people who actually knew what kids wanted, but it's also full of pathos and genuine menace.  All of which makes it prime intellectual real estate, shovel ready for movies, cartoons and especially toys (I want a plush Galaxus for Christmas).  But unfortunately he might not be owned by Time-Warner; one Website I visited suggests that 26 of the characters from Buster are owned by Egmont-Fleetway.  But regardless of which publisher owns him they should know Galaxus is just sitting there, waiting to be revived.

And, finally, on a completely unrelated note, in case you missed it on Monday during their Ani-Monday block instead of showing, you know, actual anime the Syfy Channel ran Street Fighter and Voltron motion comics.  Since television is constantly trying to find ever cheaper forms of entertainment motion comics might just be the answer to basic cable's prayers.  While we're on the subject since nothing actually moved (except for the creepy superimposed human lips) in the 1950's 'cartoon' Clutch Cargo doesn't that retroactively make it the first motion comic?

* It's pretty good but it's no "Don't go into the pimped out fridge, Jack" from Race to Witch Mountain.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of