Saturday, May 13, 2006
I was just reading the book Batman: The Sunday Classics 1943-1946. In the back they had the above photos of the strips from Batman in the 1960's. The Batman strip came out at the height of the TV show fame. According to the book it was distributed by the Ledger Syndicate and written by Whit Ellsworth and later the great E. Nelson Bridwell. Art was supplied by a variety of artist from Sheldon Moldoff to Carmine Infantino to Nick Cardy. As you can see since they had the DC bullpen to pull from the art was probably the best of any cartoon newspaper strip of it's day. It says that the strip ran until 1974. I don't remember it lasting that long in my local newspaper. Knowing how the papers in this area tend to only follow the trends they probably only ran it for a year. By that time the show was about to be canceled so the strip was too. I was only about 5 or 6 when is came out but I still have a memory of my Mom, Dad and Grandma sitting in our living room. One of them opened up the paper to a full page ad showing in beacutiful black and yellow the Bat signal and announcng that Batman was comming to the cartoon section. At that time I couldn't read too much so I just looked at the pictures. I hope that someone puts a book out on the 1966 strips. That would really be great for us baby boomers. If you click on the photo above you should be able to read the strips.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
During Disney's wonder years of movie making in the 60's and early 70's they had many family friendly hits like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The World's Greatest Athlete, The Love Bug, Million Dollar Duck and others. Most of them were so big that they had 2 or 3 sequals. My favorite of them all is Snowball Express. It was a hit but unfortunately not big enough for any sequals. This movie is one of Dean Jones best. Mr. Jones is Johnny Baxter a big city accountant who inherits a Ski Lodge in the Rocky Mountains. Seeing this as his way out of a dead end job he quits and packs his family to move to the resort sight unseen. Once there he is sadded to see that the Lodge is baddly in need of repair before he can ever open it for business. They find that a man who these days would probably be called homeless has been living there. He is played by Harry Morgan and as long as he wants to help them fix up the place and work there they will give him room and board. A young teenage boy named Wally is hired to help and be the ski instructor. Actually he wants the job so he can be near Johnny's daugther. The town banker wants the land the hotel is on and is about to forclose on the land because Johnny's relative still owed him money. The Baxters enter a snowmobile race to win the money but come in last. Finally the day comes that Johnny can't pay and is about to sign the Lodge over to the banker. However, at the last minute he finds that the Lodge comes with 3000 acres of douglas fir trees that the banker wants to cut down and that the land the town is on is also his. His relative gave the town the land as long as they built a library, a church and 2 hospitals. Johnny's son tells his Dad that he didn't see any library in town so how come the town doesn't revert back to him? This means that Johnny Baxter may own the whole town. That includes the bank. The Baxters keep the Lodge and all is well.
The people at Disney are masterworkers with this type of film. At times they have tried to duplicate that success again with movies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and most recently with Herbie Fully Loaded. Hopefully they will have a big success with this again real soon. The first time I saw this movie was at the Madison in Covington, Ky. At that time that was the closest theatre to my home. Years later I actually had a hard time finding this movie on tape years ago. I got to thinking about it and how I would like to have it in my video collection. Every store I went to either never heard of it or was sold out. Then I called Suncoast Video and they had one copy left. I drove there right away to buy it.
Happy one year anniversary to the most original web log in comics history. No not this web log. My blog isn't a year old yet. I am talking about Dial B for Blog as it is 1 year old today. I stop by on occassion and am always amazed at the information Robby Reed has. As well as the wonderful fake comic book covers. I suppose I shouldn't be amazed at the inside info. After all Robby is a comic book superhero himself. The above cover of House of Mystery starring Dial H for Hero is from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia.
Well it’s almost summer and people will soon be heading to various amusement parks for family fun. The one that is closest to my home is Kings Island. It replaced the old Coney Island that sat on the banks of the Ohio. Ironically the old Coney Island site is sort of making a small comeback with smaller attractions at a more affordable price these days. When I was younger and it was considered old fashioned I didn’t understand the need for a new park. Every night there would be ads saying something like only 7 days left till Coney Island closes for good. I was so angry for the closing of Coney that each time I saw one of those ads I almost didn’t want to go to Kings Island. But next year when it was opened my family went. I remember the first day and being more tired from walking around there then I ever was at the end of the day with Coney. KI was bigger. So big I almost put a hole in my shoe from all the walking. However, KI to me was not better. My favorite place then as well as now was the Coney Island area where they had the old rides from Coney. Kings Island did have one promotional gimmick that Coney never had. On one trip in the early 70’s America’s favorite family came for a visit. The Brady Bunch came to Kings Island. According to Barry Williams’s book Growing Up Brady, these kids who had been to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon were looking forward to their visit to Cincinnati to shoot an episode of their show. What they didn’t know was that at that time Cincinnati was not use to TV and film crews who practically have to take over the area to get the job done. Add in that the park was not closed down for those days but open to the public and KI was in a small town suburb with only one motel and you have a recipe for disaster. When that episode of the show airs on TV you can see people in the park looking twice at the actors and pointing. At the end of a hard day of work the actors had a hard time getting to their rooms. With only one motel in town it was not hard for fans to figure where they were staying and each day had a huge crowd of fans to politely push their way through to get to and from the park. I am sure the kids on the show looked forward to the Cincinnati trip thinking it would be mostly them getting the A list treatment to all the rides on the park. As small towns go they probably did get the best treatment they could get at the time. But no one was ready for all of it. The chapter about this experience in Mr. Williams’s book is called The Fishbowl. So you know exactly how he felt about it. One experience could have cost them all their lives if not for Robert Reed and how he got sick on rollercoaster’s. Because of this Mr. Reed is not on the rollercoaster scene. He did watch them set up for it and saw how the camera was mounted looking backwards so they could show the kids faces as they rode it. Mr. Reed wondered what would happen to the camera once it hits 60 mph and gets to the overhead stuff on the tracks. He had them measure it and they found out that they had to lower the camera or it would have hit something and flew off and hit the kids in their faces. Just as all seemed well the producer said to run the car through without anyone on it. The crew thought it was a waste of time as they were ready to shoot but they did. To their horror the car came back without the mounted camera. They set it up again and ran another test. This time everything was fine. The actors were then put in and the scene was shot. Barry Williams said when you see that episode and think they look horrified it is because they were. So this is a very memorable show of the Brady Bunch for all concerned.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I don’t know if any of these video’s are being used today but Bell Telephone had a science series of films that were use to introduce children to science. They were produced by the Oscar winning director Frank Capra. Not many people may know this but Capra studied to be a scientist. He turned to movie directing when he couldn’t find work in the field of science. I am sure that his love of science and people in general are what led him to create this series. It always starred the same two gentlemen. Dr. Frank Baxter as the scientist of course and Richard Carlson as the television reporter. The cover of the one pictured above, Hemo The Magnificent, even has Capra veteran Sterling Halloway in a small part as Jim a technician. Each film usually had the reporter asking the Dr. questions about the subject. They always used what they called the magic screen. Here is where the animated characters came in. They appeared on screen as interview subjects but the Dr. usually taught them things about themselves that they never knew. Hemo is the one that I remember the best. Hemo is treated as a King as he is the giver of life. The Dr. shows how Hemo is important but it is really a team effort to give life to the body. This series made science fun to learn when I was a kid. I hope it or something like it is still around.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Well tonight was the final episode of one of my favorite shows. Seventh Heaven is now only in reruns and on DVD boxed sets. Another of my favorites will be that way after this Saturday night. Justice League will be no more on Cartoon Network according to what I have been reading. It has had a long successful run and the Teen Titans are still going strong so lets keep up the momentum. I think that the long neglected team of the Metal Men would make a wonderful addition to the Cartoon Network line up. It has adventure, romance, action, mystery and personality already built into it's main storyline. The action and adventure come naturally. There is romance between Doc Magnus and lovestruck Platinum. Gold is a natural born leader. Mercury is the hot tempered one in the group with a good heart. Tin seems timid and unsure of himself but will do all he can to prove his worth. Lead and Iron are the two strong men of the group. Also, did Doc Magnus bring these robots to life or is there something else involved in their origin that even Doc doesn't know about. If you are with Cartoon Network and reading this I urge you to talk to Warner Brothers/DC Comics and see if you can get this project going.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Yesterday I took my young cousin out for awhile. It started out with lunch and we were supposed to go to a movie. However, there were no movies that caught our attention so he wanted to show me something that he saw at Comic Book World that he was interested in. The moment I walked in the door I saw how busy it was and I remembered that it was Free Comic Book Day. I actually said that out loud and immediately saw a pained expression from a person behind the counter. I could only imagine that he was thinking no sale here just giving away the freebies. My little cousin grabbed 4 copies of some free books that he wanted and I grabbed a couple too. I also bought a copy of Ion #1 just to not feel guilty but after reading the book I should ask for my money back. But I have said all this as it made me wonder...does Free Comic Book Day really advance the comic book business. When it first started a few years ago I saw signs for it everywhere on the internet and in book stores. With the success of X-Men and Spider-man at the movies people were interested in comic books again. For that brief period it did advance the business. Some movie goers who had never been in a comic book store most likely became comic book fans. Now it just seems word of mouth and with no advance notice it seems like it has just become a day when old fans can go get freebies from their local store. There is nothing wrong with that. With the average comic book now costing $2.99 each we deserve something free now and again. But with that high cost per issue come a lower demand in readership. The average person is making a considerable financial commitment. A 4 issue mini-series will wind up costing you around $12 and if it is an ongoing series with multi-part storylines and subplots I doubt the old wallet can take much more. Add in the high cost of living with gas food and putting a roof over your head and something has to go at some point. Yes the industry has tried to make it more affordable by taking some mini-series and putting them out in paperback but sometimes it saves you time but not money. What is needed in my opinion to help save our favorite past time is economizing and more imagination. First I think they need to stop using the expensive paper that they print on right now. Newspaper print was cheaper and still looked pretty good before. That will bring down the cost. You might see a dip in readership for a little while but they will come back. Next is get better plots. Some writers are doing pretty well like Mark Waid or Will Pfeifer. However, some stories feel like they are repeats for the 100th time. The two books I picked up at free comic book day were Archie that you see above and Superman/Batman. The Archie story dealt with Archie’s family had to get ready to leave Riverdale and the whole town gets a party together to wish them goodbye. Of course it turns out that they don’t have to leave. I have seen this story done in Archie before. In Superman/Batman the story revolved around how Supes and Bats are the same but different. Both lost their parents in tragic accidents but Superman grew to fly high and live in a bright shiny city that he protects. Batman is said to prowl the back alleys of Gotham and is an urban legend like the boogeyman. Again this is a story I have read before. To think that these are the stories that free comic book day is using to hook new readers. Whoever is deciding what needs to be given out for the next Free Comic Book day I hope they give out a better selection to choose from. Then we can really push a marketing campaign for that day into the mainstream and be proud of it.
Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever. Just as the mountains surround and protect Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds and protects his people, both now and forever.
What does it mean to trust the Lord? It means looking to him as the source of our security and putting our faith in the grace, love, power, and protection of God when the inevitable pressures of life come. It means knowing as the psalmist did that the mountains surround Jerusalem, God himself surrounds and shields his people. When we trust the Lord, we don't have to focus on the wicked and what they are doing or might do to us. We don't have to rehash our own woes. Even though there are problems the size of mountains facing us, we can cry out to the Lord who created the mountains and is able to move them. As we focus on him and his truth, he will encourage our hearts and help us to claim the great promise of verse 2: The Lord will surround and protect his people, now and forever.
LORD, I put my trust in you today. You are my security and protection, my shield, my fortress, and my hiding place, and I praise you. When enemies surround me and troubles multiply, help me to remember that you are ever faithful and that you surround and protect me, both now and forever.
In recent years Marvel Comics has had alot of success with marketing their characters for movies. That has not always been the case. This movie aboiut Captain America is really not that good but for fans of Cap and comics it is a must have. The movie stars Matt Salinger as Cap and Ronny Cox as the President. Mr. Salinger looks great in costume and if the script and production had been better this could have been a major hit for him. The only thing is that the superheroics and getting him into costume didn't occur till the last few minutes of the film. Up till then we just dealt with the origins and the pains of being out of your own time era. It starts off, as any Captain America film should, in WWII. He is fighting the Red Skull. It is with the Red Skull that they show the first signs that this movie is on it's way downhill. As all lovers of comic books know the Skull is German. However, for the purpose of this film they made him Italian. I have not idea why. Also, the Skull feels that he and Cap are brothers of a sort because the super solider formula made them both what they are. For my generation that is not what made up the Red Skull. Hitler raised him to be the Red Skull and that was it. Anyway they have a fight that sends Cap to be frozen in ice. Years later in 1990 he is released from his icy prison and finds that the Red Skull is still alive planning on taking over the world. Part of the plan is that the Skull has to kidnap the President. Cap releases the President but when he fights the Skull it is Cap who is in trouble and President Ronny Cox delivers the fatal blow to the Skull and saves the day. Shouldn't the star of the movie who is known for fighting this villian be the one who saves the day?
This movie did get release in a straight to video format. Actually it was almost straight to video. The tape showed up at comic book conventions before the studio saw that there was some interest in it. Then they released an official version and later I saw it show up on television in syndication. Sorry for the poor scan photo. My tape didn't have a cover so I found this on the internet and printed it out to make a cover for the box.