The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview and Like a Hood Ornament #44: A Conversation with Billy Campbell of the Rocketeer!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast Exclusive Preview and Like a Hood Ornament #44: A Conversation with Billy Campbell of the Rocketeer!


The Rocketeer Is Getting A New Movie With A Black Lead And A Brand-New  Backstory | Cinemablend


Welcome to a special edition of The Thirteenth Hour Podcast with guest Billy Campbell (a.k.a. the Rocketeer)! This was initially done as a thank you for supporters of a series of charity auctions of custom Lego Rocketeers done to benefit the nonprofit Hero Initiative. You may also be watching this if you are a listener of The Thirteenth Hour podcast and unlocked this interview by answering a few trivia questions related to our guest. Or, you are watching this at some future date, probably for a slightly different but related charity project. However you got here, thanks for joining, and thank you to Billy Cambell for a fun, wide-ranging conversation about the Rocketeer, comic books, drawing, Dave Stevens, and more.

Speaking of Dave, none of this would have happened were it not for his many talents (writing, penciling, coloring, etc). Dave Stevens’ high flying hero went on to capture the nostalgia of a bygone era – the sights, speech, and zeitgeist of the golden age of aviation and the promise of the world of tomorrow – much of which eventually ended up on the silver screen in the 1991 movie. Unfortunately, Dave left this world for the next adventure all too soon. In honor of his work (40th years since the Rocketeer comic was first published – 1982), we wrap up the episode by speculating in “what-if” fashion about Cliff’s adventures in the early days of World War 2 in a Choose Your Own Adventure style interactive story.

Now, this episode is just a preview (about 20 minutes), but you can unlock the rest, annotated with pictures and video, by answering these four questions:

1.) In 1991, Billy Campbell played Cliff Secord, Gee Bee pilot, and of course, the Rocketeer. In the late 90s, Billy played another flyer in the film The Brylcreem Boys with Irish actor Gabriel Byrne. While Mr. Byrne wasn’t in The Rocketeer, he was in another Disney film made around the same time. Which one?

a. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

b. White Fang

c. Shipwrecked

d. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids


2.) Billy Campbell currently calls Norway home, and Shipwrecked was a Norwegian film directed by Nils Gaup. Earlier, in 1987, Mr. Gaup wrote and directed another adventure film, released in Norway as Ofleas. The US title was:

a. The Neverending Story

b. Time Bandits

c. The Young Magician

d. Pathfinder


3.) Speaking of the 80s, Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens penned the comic of the Rocketeer’s first flight in 1982. The Rocketeer comic had some information on Cliff’s background that wasn’t in the film. In the comic, prior to being a stunt pilot, Cliff was:

a. a circus performer

b. a grocery store stockboy

c. a mechanic

d. a short order cook


4.) Speaking of the Rocketeer, one of the beloved parts of the film, comic, and cartoon is the Bulldog Diner, modeled after a real Depression era diner shaped like a bulldog. The Great Depression spawned many infamous diner dishes using available resources. Which one of these real dishes was known as SOS (shite on a shingle)?

a. prune pudding

b. Hoover stew

c. peanut butter and mayo sandwich

d. creamed chipped beef on toast 

Put you answers in the password field below, all lowercase, no spaces, to access the rest of the episode (with pictures)! 



Dave Stevens The Rocketeer Signed Print (c. 1991).... Memorabilia | Lot  #13920 | Heritage Auctions

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #355 and Like a Hood Ornament #43: Welcome Obi from Obi’s Toybox As We Talk All About the Rocketeer!

The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #355 and Like a Hood Ornament #43: Welcome Obi from Obi’s Toybox As We Talk All About the Rocketeer!

This week, I’m joined by special guest Obi of Obi’s Toybox as we talk all about one of our mutual favorite topics – the Rocketeer!  We were introduced by our mutual friend, Adam from AC Toy DesignThe Rocketeer is a pretty hopeful, optimistic film, so I think it’s no wonder that people that like it tend to be nice people.  Yet, I seldom meet folks in day to day life that know much about the film or the comics, so aside from my family and this podcast, I mostly keep that interest to myself.  So it was a rare pleasure to be able to talk with someone else on all manner of things Rocketeer related.  A few things we touched on for reference:

The comics by Dave Stevens:

Dave Stevens The Rocketeer Signed Print (c. 1991).... Memorabilia | Lot  #13920 | Heritage Auctions

Serials that influenced Dave Stevens, e.g.:

The 1991 film:

The Rocketeer Is Getting A New Movie With A Black Lead And A Brand-New  Backstory | Cinemablend

The board game

The animated series:


The Rocketeer Action Figure By Diamond Select Disney Toy Walgreens  Exclusive 699788835654 | eBay

The trading cards (we open a pack on the show):

I just found this wonderful looping clip of ambient sounds and music from inside the Bulldog Cafe made by Saint Ambience.

Thanks, Obi, for coming on the show!  We will be back soon for a discussion on anther pulp hero, Flash Gordon!

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The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #53: Rocketeer Reflections

Episode #53: Reflections on Rewatching The Rocketeer and How it Influenced The Thirteenth Hour

I recently rewatched the 1991 film, The Rocketeer, one of my favorite films from childhood, if not my all-time favorite.  It encapsulated just about everything a kid could hope for – airplanes, jet packs, shootouts between gangsters and Nazi storm troopers – not to mention a great cast of characters with a plucky heroine and a dashing hero that was just enough of an Everyman to be easily relatable.  Sometimes, movies that seemed great as a kid don’t always make for great films for adults.  So although I owned the DVD of The Rocketeer and have rewatched bits through the years, I was always a bit hesitant about watching the film start-to-finish again, I guess out of fear that it would inevitably fall from grace after years had tarnished the nostalgia factor.


I’m glad to say that didn’t happen.  Not only did I watch the whole thing, I was glued to my seat and daresay I enjoyed the movie more than I did when I was a kid.

In many ways, it was ahead of its time.  Superhero movies weren’t really as big at the time as they were now, and in this age of global terrorism, it is comforting to think that heroes exists in our midst that can stand tall when they’re needed.  And in many ways, that’s what the Rocketeer (a.k.a. pilot Cliff Secord) was – just an ordinary guy who, though a mixture of good/bad luck (depending on how you look at it) and the serendipity of circumstance, becomes a reluctant hero in an uncertain age (at the dawn of WWII).   Part of me suspects that the original creator of The Rocketeer comics, illustrator Dave Stevens, created Cliff with exactly that I mind – not so much a hero chosen to have superpowers but an average citizen who ends up in the role and has to balance using his rocket pack for the greater good (fighting crime/Nazis, saving innocent people) vs. his own personal agenda (making money, impressing his girlfriend).

While I was watching the film this time, I was struck by how many similarities there are between Cliff Secord and Logan, the protagonist of The Thirteenth Hour. In many ways, it’s not surprising, since The Rocketeer was one of my favorite movies all throughout high school, and The Thirteenth Hour was written the summer after I graduated.  Both have a boyish, child like sense of gee-whiz! wonder about them.  While both are, at heart, good people doing their best, both are getting by on a lot more than special abilities and natural talents.  They’re carried along as much by a combination of pluck, luck, help from others, and just, plain old bumbling incompetence that favors the optimistic, idealistic, and brave … the very image of characters that are holding it together not because they are super prepared or organized but with a combination of chewing gum, spit, and twine.  (In fact, Cliff’s rocketpack is held together by chewing gum at one point.)

So, it’s not surprising that there are some parallels, both in character and appearance.  Here are a few of the latter:

-I think ones of the reasons I drew Logan with the haircut he has was largely due to an the unconscious influence of Dave Stevens.

Logan pushupsWM

This is one of the tamer pictures of Cliff Secord’s do out there.  He usually is a bit more disheveled:

-Cliff also worn a leather button-up jacket that, while looking a real pain to put on and take off, sure looks cool).  I gave the Imperial Rangers in The Thirteenth Hour tunics with a similar aesthetic, though I didn’t opt for the buttons.

logan kick rockWM

-And then, of course, both characters can fly owning to special machines.  Logan’s flying machine, Lightning, is talked about in episode #45.

I'll Fly Away Flying IG_1

I recently found a little replica of the hoverboard from Back to the Future 2 in a thrift store – that made my day.

If you’re interested in learning more about real-life attempts to create rocketpacks, you can check out the book Jetpack Dreams (an excerpt on The Rocketeer is below):

You can also read more in this magazine article:


More on the Rocketeer in the future!  Listen for the clip from the soundtrack by James Horner on the podcast as well as more postings on social media.

There are many excellent depictions of the Rocketeer since Dave Stevens’ passing.  This is a fine example by Alexey Mordovets.

As always, thanks for listening!