Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

By the 10's: Action Comics 210-300!

To help welcome back Booksteve to the blog's readership... it's time for another installment of "By the 10's," as we look at the third 100 issues of Action Comics... by the 10s!

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Here's Action #210... and I'm sure many of you, upon seeing this cover, wish something like this amusement park had been really constructed and still in business today, eh?

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It's pure Silver Age here with issue 220, and one of the two (or was it three?) Interplanetary Olympics covers! Yes, this was one of those twice-told tales that Mr. Silver Age has written about in his CBG column (as well as his "Baby Boomer Comics" book, collecting the best of his columns)! It's also one of those covers wherein Superman's not performing to expectations... is it any surprise that this is part of a plan Superman has?

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I think issue 230's cover is hilarious for two reasons... first of all, they have Superman using a parachute... second of all, there's two separate explanations for why he's using the parachute, one on either side of his figure!

Does anyone outside of a comic book really talk like the woman on this cover, whom I presume is Lois Lane? Then again, I suppose I should be thankful the cover copy didn't have her saying, "It's true, Superman HAS lost his powers!" before the bit about using the parachute because he fell off the skyscraper...

OK, a third reason it's hilarious... there's no way that parachute could possibly slow his descent properly, as short as the lines are, dropping from any skyscraper in Metropolis!

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On issue 240's cover, Superman uses his rarely-spoken-of power of Super-Grasp-of-The-Obvious (also referred to as Super-Clue-In-The-Clueless-Readers power)... I mean, how stupid did the kids have to be to not notice the sphinx has Superman's face? Or for that matter, not figure the eyebeams, being green, were Kryptonite eyebeams?

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Issue 250 is one of the few "Superman is Clark Kent" covers so far in the Action Comics By the 10's... that was a way too common cover theme on all the Superman titles!

Geez, was there a Screen Writers' Guild strike in progress back then, making the TV networks so desperate for content to air?

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And issue 260 is the first mention of Supergirl on a 10th issue! This cover is one of those inadvertant "Ewwww!" covers... see how passionately Superman's kissing Mighty Maid? Want to guess who Mighty Maid really is? I bet you can, and figure out why it makes for an "Ewwww!" moment...

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And with issue 270, Krypto finally appears! The Super-Dog rarely appeared on Action Comics covers (usually making his cover appearances in Superboy and Superboy-headlined issues of Adventure Comics, naturally)... And hey, isn't this the first Imaginary Story in the By the 10's?

One thing about this story really bothered me... I mean, Superman's no more than 15 years older than Supergirl, right? So here, he looks to be about 75-80... yet Supergirl certainly isn't supposed to be 55-60!

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Issue 280 here... and Superman and his friends Get Small, thanks to Brainiac! Wow, Brainiac's the first of Superman's rogues gallery we've seen here since the first installment, hmmm?

Hilarious that Perry White thinks a fountain pen could be a useful weapon, isn't it?

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On issue 290's cover... wow, how annnoying is Lois Lane here? Superman must have soooo much patience with her! In his shoes, I would've probably said something like, "Lois, shut the hell up! Do you know how long I've been a super-hero? I don't need a meddling busybody like you to tell me how to use my powers to avert disaster, you know!"

Then again... maybe not. In Superman's situation, I would've considered using the still-super-powered eye to shoot a beam of heat vision to melt the stones around the live wire, then one lung's worth of super-breath to cool the molten rock around it. AND I would've done it before Lois could start offering her unsolicited advice!

Geez, do you think Aquaman had to deal with fish telling him how to deal with his emergencies?

Doesn't the Lois figure look like Kurt Schaffenberger's work, while Superman appears to be by Swan?

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And closing out this installment, Action 300 has Superman not only losing his powers under a red sun, he's also trapped in Earth's future!

Obviously, Superman hadn't been able to see "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," or else he'd say to himself, "Well, when I get back to my own time, I'll seal a Superman robot and a Legion Time Bubble away, set to be opened one million years in the future, and then the Superman robot will be pre-programmed to fly around the Earth until it finds me, then it can fly me to the Time Bubble!"

At which point, of course, the robot would appear to do that very thing, and the story could've ended with Superman making those preparations after returning to his own time, so as not to create a complete paradox.

And yes, the Legion would've let him borrow a Time Bubble if he'd asked them. Heck, he could've even arranged for them to pick him up themselves and shuttle him home, for that matter!

Jon

Heroes World, Pages 6 & 7!

Before I get started on pages 6 and 7... since posting the last installment, I came across a Spider-Man Squirt Gun, as advertised in the previous pages:

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This installment of the Heroes World Catalog #1 begins with page 9, Utility Belts and Stunt Cycles!

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Some utility belts, as I've written before, are very appropriate... the Batman one, for example...

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Ideal was the first to sell a Batman utility belt...

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...all tied in, no doubt, to the TV show, even if the belt and its contents resembled little from the show!

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Remco did two different Batman utility belts... the one above, and the one below (which is the one advertised in the catalog)... I'm not sure which of these came first!

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Remco did the others advertised, too!

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I don't know why they thought Spider-Man needed a utility belt... and apparently, there were two versions of this produced, too! The one in this photo has sunglasses, while the one in the catalog had a "web"... I guess nobody in Remco's design department were big comics fans, else the Spider-Man utility belt would've had a Spider-Beam flashlight, two web-shooters (one for each hand), and maybe extra "webbing" (assuming the web-shooters were designed so you'd snap in a cartridge loaded with a dart and string).

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The Hulk Utility Belt is really baffling... especially since the closest old Greenskin had to a belt was a rope holding his purple britches up! The rectangular thing with the atomic symbol was called a "gamma radiation detector," but it looks to me like their Star Trek Communicator, molded in green and yellow, with a sticker on the flip-up antenna!

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the Wonder Woman utility belt (especially since that one looks like the pieces make sense)... but I do have pictures of Remco's Captain America utility belt...

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...and the Superman one!

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Close examination of all the photos will show you how often Remco re-used the same stuff... there's that Star Trek communicator again, for example!

Now, on to the gyro power stunt cycles... AHI (Azrak-Hamway International, apparently the parent company of Remco -- or so one site says, even though it'd make more sense the other way around) manufactured these, among lots of other great, cheap toys!

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Here's the Batcycle...

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And the Spider-Cycle (along with some paratroopers)...

...but I have yet to find a Hulk stunt cycle! I'll never know why they didn't do a Captain America stunt cycle, as that would've made a lot of sense...

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Page 7 is a bunch of different things... cheesy pinball machines, yo-yos, a "Flying Web" toy, Spidey signal gun, Spidey Goggles, and a ping-pong ball gun! All really cheap back then, all expensive to buy these days (if you can even find them offered on eBay)...

Let's see what I have pix of, shall we?

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Here's two of the three pinball games...

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I don't have a pic of the Spider-Man signal gun, but here's a nearly-identical Batman one...

Nor do I have pictures of the "Flying Web" or goggles... or the Spidey or Hulk yo-yos... But I do have some Batman yo-yos to tide you over!

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And finally... here's two versions of the pop gun, Spider-Man edition!

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In the next installment... it's boats, straws, buggies, Batmobiles, Ghost Rider, vans, webbing, and more!

Jon

Super "Friends" Video

Just saw this YouTube video, which was pointed out by TV Squad... enjoy! I think it's hilarious, especially if you know Super Friends and Friends!



Jon

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Found on eBay: Marx Brothers and Popeye!

A bit of a posting here for those of you who may not dig the Give-A-Show Fridays post following this...

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This "A Night at the Opera" lobby card portrays, as any Marxian enthusiast will easily identify, the famous "Stateroom scene." What the average person doesn't know is that after their first two movies (which were based on stage plays the Marx Brothers originated), Groucho, Harpo and Chico preferred, whenever they could, to "preview" scenes from movies by performing them live prior to them being filmed... so that they could hone the comedy as much as possible, time for laughs, etc.

This scene? Well, it didn't work at all on stage, but it killed in the movie.

But that method worked so well for other scenes...

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"A Night in Casablanca" is one of the Marx movies I've never seen... but I do know this: When the movie was announced, Warner Bros. (who produced the classic "Casablanca") had some concerns that the Marx's movie might infringe on their rights.

However, after an exchange of letters with Groucho? Well, let's just say that Groucho must've completely flummuxed Warners to the point where they just stopped worrying about it. You can read the whole story in one of those "Letters to Groucho" books that most good libraries should have available.

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Going from Groucho to Popeye (it would be interesting to contrast and compare the two, but not tonight!), here's a Popeye coloring book, which also features Swee'Pea and (I presume) the Whiffle Hen.

Not familiar with the Whiffle Hen? It's a magical creature that, when you rub it, brings you good luck. Popeye historian Bill Blackbeard has written about how in the original newspaper comics (i.e., Thimble Theater), it was the Whiffle Hen which gave Popeye his extraordinary strength and near-invulnerability, as opposed to the cartoons' use of spinach!

Actually, that bird looks nothing like the Whiffle Hen... but it gave me an excuse to throw that bit out!

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Another Popeye cartoon... apparently he must've eaten some other-worldly spinach that made the sailor man grow and be able to survive in space, eh? Nice to see Olive Oyl, Wimpy, and either Brutus or Bluto on the cover of this one... along with Swee'Pea, of course!

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Yes, by the time this Popeye book was drawn, quality control was going down the tubes, and being off-model wasn't a concern!

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Hmmm... this Popeye Dot Book isn't too much on-model either, is it?

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In case you weren't familiar with Corgi outside of this blog, you might think they produced nothing but Batmobiles, Batboats, and other Bat-stuff... but here's one of their Popeye vehicles! There should be more of these coming up in the blog, but it may be a looooong time before I get to them!

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Heh... in case you thought Jaymar only did puzzles (especially if you followed the Halloween Countdown posts)... here's a very unique vintage item, the Funny Face Maker! As you can tell, you dial different features together... this would've been a good car-trip toy, I'm guessing!

Corgi wasn't the only company that made toy vehicles with Popeye and his friends... here's some Matchbox vehicles!

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Next up on "Found on eBay"? I'll start off, at least, with some Planet of the Apes collectibles!

Jon

Give-A-Show Fridays Double Feature!

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And we begin this week's double-feature with Huckleberry Hound! We're also starting the 1961 "Blue" slide sets this week. From what I've been able to discern, slidesets 1-16 were released with a projector, while slides 17-32 were released separately. I could well be wrong!

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I've got to say, I thought the characters were off-model in the Charlton Hanna-Barbera comics... but that was before I saw this slide! My god, I think I can draw Huck better than that myself!

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Next up, it's Popeye the Sailor Man! Bear in mind that the Popeye slides were based on the then-current King Features cartoons that were airing on TV, not the Fleischer toons or even the Famous Studios ones... which is why you may not recognize Swee'Pea when you see him!

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Next week's double-feature features Woody Woodpecker and the Three Stooges!

Jon