I haven’t seen the new movie, but they tell me it’s good. Personally, I’m more interested in the classic original which was not called “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” (or as I preferred to call it “Sherman & Peabody”) but rather “Peabody’s Improbable History.” Using great writing, excellent voice talent and crummy animation, these short cartoons told the amusing stories of a smart dog and his pet boy as they travel through time. Who knew in 1959 that one day these filler segments from The Bullwinkle Show would be beautifully animated in a lavish feature-length film? And who could have predicted that kids who were 10 years old in 1959 would grow up to be 64-year-old grandparents and bring their grandchildren to see a movie based on fairly minor characters they enjoyed (somewhat) in their youth? I’m betting DreamWorks did!
So let’s climb into our WABAC machine, turn back time, and listen to the classic theme song from the original series. Ah… memories. Sing along! You know the words!
I’ve already dealt with Smash, the British weekly comic that ran 257 issues between 1966 and 1971 focusing on an oddball hodgepodge mix of Britsih and American comics, but there’s several points of interest in this 1969 Annual edition of the title. Like, the way the cover doesn’t feature your standard symbolic, iconic image. Instead it’s first of a three page color story featuring the characters from the humor features (Grimly Feendish, Percy’s Pets, the Swots and the Blots, Bad Penny, The Man from B.U.N.G.L.E., The Nervs, Charlie’s Choice, Ronnie Rich) engaging in a game of footie. While these kinds of crossovers weren’t unknown they were definitely pretty rare.
First up there’s a nicely drawn outing of undoubtedly the dullest stretchable hero in comics, Rubber Man, formerly James Hollis whose “powers” was actually a cruse given him by an Indian fakir.
Next up the first of two stories featuring the Legend Testers, Rollo Stones and Danny Charters who worked for the Museum of Legend of Myth in the 40th Century and traveled in time to test artifacts to discover whether the legends around them were true. People who know more than me about British artists tell me the art here was done by the series regular artist Jordi Bernet. Like Rubber Mant hey make a cameo in Albion, the 2005 limited series published by DC.
This one off science fiction story Inferno appears to be a Spaish origin.
Lieutenant Lightning may very well be the goofiest British superhero of the 60′s, and that’s saying something.
Whenever we run out of ideas here at Comics Tunes Headquarters, we always return to the sure-fire, tried-and-true, can’t-miss-with-this show that spawned more comics-related music than anything else I’ve found – the 1966 Batman TV series. No one really knows how many bat-songs there are, but it’s a bat-load!
This time we’re presenting a real treat. Rather than the “Batman Theme” which has been na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-ed to death, feast your eyes (and soon your ears) on this: An actual record of the real Adam West sort of singing. To tie in with the staggering success of the twice-weekly TV series, this gen-you-wine 45 RPM record was actually released, along with all kinds of other bat-merch. And now, you can listen to it and (try to) enjoy it.
This week’s installment may very well be considered a “cheat” on my designated mission statement (i.e. read all the comic books I’ve wanted to before I died), as well as an all-time low in my over reliance on “cut and paste” (for want of a better word) journalism (pick a subject, doing some internet search, get some images, cut and past other peoples posts to get the facts, and the spellings, right, rewrite, post). However, I am well and truly over fascinated with Hugo Hercules, William H.D. Koerner’s short-lived (it ran for less than 5 months, September 1902 to January 1903 in the Chicago Tribune), thought by many to be the first comic strip superhuman. Albeit one who didn’t wage an never ending battle against evil so much as wander around neither agency nor any visible means of support, looking for cool stuff to do. It was quite literally ahead of it’s time and, not being a success, Koerner left cartooning to become a painter. And in a lot of ways, its still ahead of it’s time; as much as the trope of the superhuman has been, often brutally, deconstructed, no one to my knowledge has created so casual a ‘crimefighter’; maybe it’s time for someone to dust Hugo off and see what they could do with him..
I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I’m not going to review the film except to say that Marvel Studios did a great job of bringing to the big screen a bunch of characters and stories that very few people care about. This is a big departure from the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man films, which had accumulated millions of fans over several decades. It proves that Marvel’s movie department has what it takes to make a hit, regardless of the popularity of the source material. Next year: Ant Man.
And I would be remiss (and who needs that?) if I didn’t give a shout-out to my childhood friend Keith Giffen who is credited as co-creator of Rocket Raccoon. How cool is that?
WARNING: If you haven’t seen it yet, there are spoilers ahead.
The villain of the film (or one of the worst ones, anyway) is Ronan The Accuser, whom we first saw in Fantastic Four #65, looking very much the way Jack Kirby drew him, with his weird hammer-thing and that wild hat he wears. Also very cool.
Naturally I’m building up to a song. It’s the same song as the past two weeks, but this is the wackiest version of all. Enjoy Jack Sheldon singing and Benny Goodman swinging this recording of “Rocky Raccoon.”
Click the link below and swing!
P.S. I wanted to acknowledge the tragic passing yesterday of the wonderful Robin Williams. His connection to comics was already explored a while back when we were spotlighting Popeye. You can see those entries here and here.
I wish I could explain how my brain works but frankly sometimes it’s workings are a mystery even to me. Perhaps it’s merely a symptom of my lifelong obsessive-compulsive nature but I tend to get “over fascinated” (at least that’s what I call it anyway) with certain things, take for example, Henry Brewster, a short-lived teen comic from 1966 drawn (and presumably written) by Golden Age artist Bob Powell, a.k.a. Stanley Robert Pawlowski. Powell is much better known for his work on Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, Mr. Mystic and the Mars Attack cards and while he was certainly an incredibly versatile artist you don’t ordinarily think of him doing either humor or teen comics. So seeing him do a teen comedy comic in a strangely loose, distinctly scratchy, big foot style would be odd enough, but Henry(no relation to Punky) Brewster is plenty oddball all on its own.
First off, the format; a 25 cent, bimonthly comic of entirely original material seems kind of ambitious for a neophyte publisher like Myron Frass’s M.F. Enterprises, whose only other title was the much maligned (for good reason) short-lived 1960′s version of Captain Marvel, the android version who could separate his body parts by yelling “Split!” . For another thing Henry Brewster wasn’t another pressing from the well worn Archie Comics template. The cast consisted of standard All-American boy Henry, the super strong and literally soft spoken (his dialogue was always lettered at roughly half the size of everyone else’s) Animal, professional weirdo Weenie and “the girls”, who were sadly mostly easily defined by their hair color, prematurely silver haired rich girl Melody and dark haired girl next door Debbie, Though Melody did develop some depth over the course of the series; in #1 she coldly rejects the hapless, love struck Weenie so often”Go away!” threatens to become her catch phrase, but by #6 she actually appears to be going out with him (or at least willing to be seen holding his, ew, hand). Which is odd seeing as how along with being a hardcore goofball who tends to dress like a twelve year old as drawn Weenie could easily be a background character in a Gilbert HerandezLove & Rockets story.
While the adults in Archie Comics were frequently spectacularly exasperated to the point of pulling their hair by the Riverdale Gangs antics in the grown ups in Henry Brewster seem to instinctively get Henry and company were wholesome, clean cut kids who just wanted to be helpful. But after more or less ignoring the 1960′s (except for a story in #1 where there’s a Beatles analog called “The Baldies” which leads to the gang shaving their heads, placing them several decades ahead of their time) this issue is hip deep in secret agents and supervillains. I must confess my over fascination with Henry Brewster began with this issue, specifically this cover. I mean, seriously, what the hell..? Specifically, what the hell is that thing standing behind Henry? Some kind of African cat god? An extraterrestrial bent on world domination? I had absolutely no clue and ached to know, though I knew in my heart that chances were I’d never get to read it. But then I didn’t reckon with the internet; almost all things are possible with the internet.
First off though the gang has a positively Scooby Dooesque outing in a haunted house, but the evil mastermind trying to frighten them isn’t trying to scare them off because he’s either looking for hidden treasure or running a counterfeiting ring out of the basement; he’s just poor schlub testing spook house amusements who, for some reason, decides to dress not in a creepy rubber mask but like a minor league pre-1965 Marvel villain.
And here the gang gets involved in 60′s style super spy stuff…
And finally they face an actual supervillain, well, kind of a supervillain; Tome B. Bukwurm.
He is…well, I don’t properly know what he’s supposed to be. He’s kind of dressed like a Marvel supervillain of the era (though I have questions about the fishnet body stocking he appears to be wearing), except for his face which is equal parts Albert Einstein and Jerry Lewis’ Professor Kelp from The Nutty Professor, but his theme crook schtick and similarly dressed henchmen is pure TV’s Batman, well a broad parody of a Batman villain anyway. But even given all of that my ‘question’ still stands….what the hell? Is he supposed to be a mole man or only dressed like a mole man? And this goes ditto for his henches; are they men dressed in mole men masks or do does the group represent a incursion from a race of subterranean creatures? Frankly, I was disappointed by the exaggerated goofiness of the character, which made me wish even harder than the creature on the cover actually appeared somewhere in the actual come. Which is only then that it finally occurred to me…
Oh my God, Bukwurmis the creature on the cover! As the saying goes, if it had a snake it would have bit me. But this raises even more questions. Is it suppose to bej one of those ‘symbolic’ covers, did Powell forget what the character was originally supposed to look like, or did he change his mind about his appearance after the cover was drawn?
And finally, here’s a couple more stories without any fantastic elements.
By now you’ve probably seen Guardians of the Galaxy. I haven’t seen it yet; I’m going tonight. So please, no spoilers.
The film features, among others, Rocket Raccoon who is sort of a cross between Rocket J. Squirrel (without Bullwinkle) and Rocky Raccoon. Today we’re presenting another version of the popular song that inspired the character. It’s very different from last week’s and I think you’ll dig it the most to say the least.
Meanwhile, I hear that the film is doing very well with both critics and audiences. That’s a big victory since the Guardians are kind of a hodge-podge of Marvel characters with nowhere near the fan following of Spider-Man or the X-Men. Kudos!
Click the link below and sing along. You know the words!
It’s this Friday, people! The day we’ve waited months for. Years? I’ve lost count. Yes, Friday is the day that Guardians of the Galaxy opens at a theater near you. Never has a comic book movie been so eagerly anticipated. And never has there been one based on a less popular title. I mean, compared to Batman or Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy is an also-ran. It’s not like fans have been clamoring for a movie based on this fairly recent cast of characters. It’s not like Captain America, most of whose fans died of old age before the movie came out. The Guardians have their roots (I’m referring to Groot) in decades-old comics, but this grouping is relatively new to the Marvel Universe, not to mention the Marvel Galaxy. And maybe that’s what makes it great.
For one thing, there are no beloved characters to ruin, no classic continuity to be ignored, no favorite stories to be mishandled. If Marvel Studios screws this up, who cares? On the other hand, if it’s as big a hit as I think it will be, it’s an instant franchise without any of the baggage of X-Men or Fantastic Four. It’s win-win!
To commemorate the occasion here’s a song about Rocket Raccoon, one of the stars of the film. This is an obscure cover version. I forget who recorded the original.
Click to enlarge this way-cool poster.
This is how Star-Lord looked before his makeover.
Click to see this even bigger.
Click the link below and get in the mood for Guardians of the Galaxy!
I like Space Ghost. There, I said it! As a kid I was instinctively drawn to it, long before I knew the character was designed by the late, great Alex Toth. When they started re-purposing the old artwork and making a joke out of Space Ghost I was not amused. What’s so funny about a ghost who flies through space with a couple of kids and a monkey? They act like it’s something silly to be mocked and made fun of.
So let’s forget the goofy spoofy Space Ghost and remember the original. The cool costume. The cool name! Geez, what’s more exciting to a 10-year-old boy than a show called “Space Ghost”? Pretend you’re 10 and enjoy this classic theme music.
It’s been a long time since we’ve given a shameless plug to Yoe Books, our gracious hosts here at the I.T.C.H. blog. Publishers of many fine books – both hardcover and comic type – Yoe Books has consistently delivered excellent comics, beautifully packaged and lovingly presented. It’s one thing to release a nice book now and then, but Yoe has a trio of titles that are published on a regular on-going basis: Haunted Horror, Weird Love, and today’s featured series, Classic Popeye.
If you’ve never read Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye stories, you’re in for a real treat. These classic comics from the 1950’s are now extremely affordable (and in mint condition!) thanks to the Yoe Books reprint series.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Tuesday without a song. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Popeye’s long-time gal pal Olive Oyl.
Click to enlarge.
Click the link below and enjoy!
NEWS FLASH! In more than seven years (okay, let’s call it eight) that I’ve been blogging on the I.T.C.H., this is the first time it’s happened – I made a mistake! I guess there’s a first time for everything. I accidentally used the same record twice! Can you forgive me? Yes, the Olive Oyl song I presented above already appeared back on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 (click here if you don’t believe me).
So to make up for the twice-used tune here’s one you probably haven’t heard before. And you’ll probably wish you hadn’t.