Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Highly touted and reviewed, this hip, all-star Hanna-Barbera TV musical spoof of Alice in Wonderland all but disappeared for years but here it is more or less in its entirety at CLASSIC TELEVISION SHOWBIZ. Janet Waldo leads the great classic voice actor cast and the guest celebrities include Zsa Zsa, Sammy and Jose Jiminez. Even Fred and Barney famously appear in character...as other characters!
Monday, February 27, 2012
Batman had originally appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS in 1939 and has, to this very day, remained the lead feature in that long-running title. Artist Carmine Infantino brought a sleek new Batman and Robin to the fore when the "New Look" Batman appeared but, as with the other Bat-titles, TV-style camp over-rode everything for a while.
Legendary artist Joe Kubert has never really drawn the Caped Crusaders but for a handful of lovely covers during this period.
I remember sitting out in the parking lot behind my apartment house reading the above issue, introducing the very original-looking villain, The Cluemaster. Infantino at his most creative was back on the covers starting with this issue.
I never saw this issue on the stands. I'd seen the ads and really looked forward to it but it must have sold out. It would be years before I finally found a copy.
This one I missed on the stands also but I read it soon afterwards at my friend Timmy's house which was, oddly enough, only a few blogs from where my wife and I ended up buying a home decades later. Bane kind of reminds me of this guy.
Ah...It was the first day of second grade and my Mom had to go to school with me to sign papers and such. I took this issue with me and sat on the stairs going up to the second floor while I waited. This was the issue where Alfred---who had been killed off before it was known he would be an integral player on the TV show--was brought back to life and to the comics.
I never heard of this guy. Just recently a friend in New Jersey was telling me how well-known he was. I still question why he was chosen to guest star when he was NOT well-known past the East Coast apaprently.
Another amazing cover but another issue I never saw new on the stands.
And finally, the Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl! This was done at the behest of the TV producers but Barbara Gordon would eventually earn her wings as a legitimate character long after the series was gone. In fact, she would return as Oracle on the much later TV series, BIRDS OF PREY.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
The folks at DC Comics tried their best to walk the fine line between the more serious version of Batman they had debuted in '64 and the campy TV version but in '66 it was often a losing battle. The BATMAN comics of the day (as well as the Batman stories in DETECTIVE COMICS) were often bland or silly experiences to say the least. The covers that year, however, were glorious! Everything was signed by Bob Kane but nothing was. Above for instance, in the issue just before the show's debut, a Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson Batman with a sci-fi twist.
Presumably timed to tie in with BATMAN's TV debut since the Riddler had only appeared twice in the 15 or so years since his debut, he became a major player in the Dark Knight;s rogue's gallery due to his TV appearances.
Above is another Kane/Anderson cover, this one on the first issue to hit the stands after Batmania took hold. Writer Mark Waid once said that this was one of the biggest selling issues and the first BATMAN comic for many, many people. It was definitely my first!
The campiness took hold here with the debut of Poison Ivy. Although a good character, after part two, her only appearance for many, many years would be in a long, silly sequence in the Batman newspaper strip that same year,
There were no less than three 80 Page Giant reprints out in '66, offering short stories from the past--mostly the sillier fifties and early sixties tales that had led the Caped Crusader's book to the edge of cancellation before the TV series saved it.
An often parodied cover clearly serving just to hype the series, part two of Poison Ivy's tale, interrupted by the reprint issue, actually is the main feature in this issue.
I remember buying this issue in the middle of the night at a Greyhound bis station somewhere in Virginia as my parents and I were on our way to North Carolina to visit relatives in July of '66. I also remember being very disappointed in it.
Another reprint collection, this one highlighted by a genuine classic Bat-tale, Sheldon Moldoff's "Robin Dies at Dawn."
After years of overexposure, the Joker had been put out to pasture as the more serious Batman emerged, only to be resurrected by the TV series and thus also in the comics. I recall reading this issue while sitting in the back seat of our car as my Mom had gone in to where she worked to pick up her paycheck on her day off.
This one also I read in the back seat of the car while my parents did grocery shopping on a Thursday evening. I had gotten it at Woolworth's and as the sun went down I had to turn on the overhead light in the car to keep reading.
This one has such a stylish cover for such a ridiculous story, I remember buying this issue at the drugstore three blocks from our apartment.
Finally, I didn't buy this issue new at all. At age seven, the cover creeped me out! I do remember finding a copy at a friend's house months later, though, and sitting on the steps there reading it!
Friday, February 24, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
Jack Cole's PLASTIC MAN from Quality in the forties and early fifties was one of the most original and best drawn superhero strips of its day. It was popular enough to be parodied in an early issue of MAD. DC took on the rights to most Quality characters when that company went out of business in the mid-fifties but the only ones they kept going were BLACKHAWK and, I believe, a couple of the war titles. IW/Super put out a couple of legally dubious PLASTIC MAN comics after that and the character appeared in one DIAL "H" FOR HERO story but this 1966 title, initially with great Gil Kane art, was the first full attempt at a legit new series.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Probably THE classiest film of '66, this stage-derived historical drama gave Paul Scofield his defining role onscreen as Sir Thomas More and provided early proof that actor/playwright Robert Shaw was more than just the big, silent bad guy in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. The stellar cast also included a very early appearance by John Hurt who would forever become known for an alien bursting through his chest. In spite of being rather dull and talky, the brilliantly acted A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, from the director who also brought you HIGH NOON and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, would go on to win 6 Oscars as well as many other awards.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
The beach movie genre was winding down by this point and the second string stars like Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walley and Aaron Kincaid starred in this late, horror-themed comedy entry from '66. Like most of the earlier films, however, there were old-timey stars to keep the parents interested, also, and in this case, those included the great Boris Karloff, the classic Sherlock Holmes actor Basil Rathbone and Hal Roach comedienne Patsy Kelly. Nancy Sinatra also made an early appearance here on the eve of her becoming a sixties icon.