Saturday, September 10, 2011

Of Mice and Magic: The Cartoons #2

This time around, we start with Windsor McCay's "Gertie the Dinosaur," released in 1914, and causing a sensation! Many have said that this one cartoon launched the animation industry.

Geek TV #2: The Adventures of Superman!

advssuperman1Concept: Adaptation of the world's most famous comic book character for television on a low budget, while still remaining faithful to the characters (if not always to Superman's powers).
Total Episodes: 104
Original Air Dates: 1952-1958
Original Network: Syndicated
Geek Factor: 10
Superman/Clark Kent (George Reeves): The amazing Man of Steel and his alter ego, not quite so mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Reeves' Clark was much less of a milquetoast than Clark had been portrayed as in the comics, which always made a bit more sense... the TV Clark makes a more realistic reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, after all!
Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates, 24 episodes, 1952-1953; Noel Neill, 78 episodes, 1953-1958): Go-getting Daily Planet reporter who tends to get herself (and her fellow Planet employees) in trouble.
Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson): Cub reporter and photographer for the Daily Planet, has a bad tendency to refer to his boss as “Chief” all the time. Due to the popularity of this version of Jimmy, DC Comics decided to give Jimmy Olsen his own comic book!
Perry White (John Hamilton): Editor of the Daily Planet, given to shouting “Great Caesar's Ghost!” when upset or surprised, and often yelling “Don't Call Me Chief!” to Jimmy Olsen. You'll notice that Perry's desk always has lots of papers on it – some of those papers are the script so that John Hamilton could read his lines off of them!
Inspector Henderson (Robert Shayne): Intrepid policeman, proved popular enough on TV that he was used in the comics (although not quite as much as one would've thought).
Professor Pepperwinkle (Phil Tead): Wacky inventor, always good for a change of pace episode!
Geek Guest-Stars: Ben Welden, who appeared in eight episodes (as eight different characters!), also appeared in two episodes of the 1966 Batman, four episodes of Mister Ed, six episodes of The Lone Ranger, and nine episodes of Space Patrol. Herb Vigran, who appeared in six episodes (as six different characters), also appeared in the movie “Amazon Women of the Moon,” an episode of Galactica 1980, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Bewitched, Nanny and the Professor, and provided a voice of a cop on three episodes of The Flintstones. Richard Reeves, who played five different characters in five different episodes, also appeared in episodes of Mr. Terrific, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Dream of Jeannie, The Wild Wild West, The Addams Family, The Munsters, My Favorite Martian, Mister Ed, and the 1966 Batman series. Tristram Coffin, who appeared in four episodes, appeared in The Time Tunnel, Batman, The Lone Ranger, the movies “The Crawling Hand” and “Creature With the Atom Brain,” and played Jeff King in the serial “King of the Rocket Men”! Sterling Holloway played in three episodes of this show, and is best known for doing the voice of Winnie the Pooh, as well as voices for other Disney productions. John Doucette, who was in three episodes, also was in three episodes of Get Smart! playing Colonel Von Klaus, two episodes of The Wild Wild West, and 11 episodes of The Lone Ranger. George Khoury, who appeared in three episodes, played Habid in “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.”
Geek Pedigree: Whitney Ellsworth, producer of the show, was the editorial director at DC prior to producing the show. He also produced a pilot for The Adventures of Superboy and The Adventures of Superpup, neither of which were picked up. He also served as story editor for 26 episodes. Earlier, he'd written dialogue for the Congo Bill movie serial in 1948. Announcer Bill Kennedy also had parts on The Lone Ranger. Prior to being cast as Superman, George Reeves had appeared in episodes of Suspense. John Hamilton appeared in an episode of Captain Midnight during production of Superman, had a bit part in “Donovan's Brain,” appeared in the serials “The Invisible Monster,” “Zorro's Black Whip,” “Captain America,” and “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe”! Jack Larson later reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman when Jimmy Olsen was artificially aged, and had cameos in The Adventures of Superboy and “Superman Returns.” Robert Shayne appeared in two episodes of The Flash as Reggie, and also appeared in episodes of Land of the Giants, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, The Lone Ranger, and Space Patrol, as well as bit parts in a number of sci-fi movies, including “Invaders From Mars,” “Tobor the Great,” “Kronos,” “The Indestructible Man,” “The Giant Claw,” and “How to Make a Monster.” Noel Neill had earlier portrayed Lois Lane in the two Superman serials opposite Kirk Alyn, made cameo appearances in “Superman Returns,” The Adventures of Superboy, and “Superman The Movie” (playing Lois Lane's mother – a role she would revisit in the 1988 “Superman's 50th Anniversary” special). She also appeared in “Invasion USA,” and The Lone Ranger. Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane's mother in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in one episode, being replaced by Beverly Garland after that one appearance, and also appeared in “I Was a Teenage Frankenstein,” The Lone Ranger, and “Invasion USA.”
DVD Release: Box sets of each season. I also recommend watching “Hollywoodland,” which dramatized the show's production and death of George Reeves.
Adventures of Superman: The Complete Third & Fourth Seasons

Websites: “The Adventures Continue” and at the Superman Homepage.
Notes: The first TV show based on a superhero, and in many ways, the best! Sure, there were some stinkers here and there, lapses in logic, new powers for Superman he never had in the comics, but it's still a fun show to watch!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Give-A-Show Fridays: Tru-Vue Story Cards, Part 2!

Next week: Marvel Super-Heroes See-A-Show!

Dog of the Geek: Cujo!

Breed: St. Bernard

Original Appearances: Cujo (Steven King, 1981)

Other Appearances: Movie version filmed in 1983, cameo in the film Cat's Eye (1985)

Biography: Cujo was a rabid St. Bernard who terrorized Vic, Donna and Ted Trenton in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. Cujo was owned by Joe Camber, who never vaccinated the dog against rabies. Cujo contracts rabies after being bitten by a rabid bat. The Trentons are terrorized by Cujo for three days while they are trapped in a stalled car. Cujo later kills Sheriff George Bannerman, bites Donna, and is finally killed by Donna with a baseball bat. There's a number of other plot elements in the novel and movie that don't directly connect with Cujo's biography.

Powers: None other than the strength associated with a St. Bernard.

Group Affiliation: None

Miscellaneous: Castle Rock, Maine is a fictional location used by Stephen King in many of his novels

Toy of the Week #2: AHI's Action Ape Men!

One of the interesting things about the 1970s was how all sorts of different toy companies could get licenses for the same characters, although they'd have to produce different items. An excellent example of this is AHI (Azrak Hamway International) and Mego. Mego, of course, is best known for their line of 8" action figures, licensed from DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and many others.

AHI also had many of the same licenses, but instead of producing action figures, they produced a lot of toys sold on cards at stores like Woolworth's, Kmart, and Kresge. So while Mego did Batman, Robin, Batgirl, villains, and Bat-vehicles for the figures, AHI produced smaller-scale Batmobiles, Batboats, Batplanes, Batcopters, paratroopers, and so forth. Now, AHI had to have noticed that Mego was making a lot of money selling their action figures, and when Mego produced their line of monster figures, they didn't use the Universal versions (apparently they thought the license was too expensive), so AHI decided to get the Universal license to produce the World's Greatest Super-Monsters, pretty much copying Mego's World's Greatest Super-Heroes packaging (now that I think of it, they may have been the first with the monster figures).

Anyway, after this, AHI was producing Planet of the Apes stuff (mostly copying things they'd done for other licenses, such as gyro-powered and friction motorcycles, paratroopers, helicopters, and other weird stuff, as well as some neat horse with wagon... but we'll get to these in the future), they must've wanted a piece of the action figure market, so they came up with their Action Apeman line! So far as I can tell, all the clothing for the Action Apemen was used previously for their generic soldier action figure line, Adventure Man (that was probably a reaction to Mego's Action Jackson as well as Hasbro's GI Joe), along with some original stuff.


Here's a picture of a loose Adventure Man, in case you're curious about it.

Some good pages about the Action Apemen are Megolike and Plaid Stallions. Someday, someone really needs to research AHI and produce a book about them, I think!

Oddly enough, these days it seems that the Action Apemen are more in demand with collectors than Mego's Planet of the Apes figures, given the prices I've seen on eBay! If you want to try to get one of these for yourself, this link will give you a listing of all the current Azrek-Hamway toys up for auction. One thing to be aware of, however: Not every seller is accurate with how they list these... some call them "Astro-Apes," and some even flat out call them Planet of the Apes figures!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Cool Stuff!

First up in this week's Cool Stuff post is Transogram's My Favorite Martian game, but there'll be Underdog stuff and more after the jump!

The Indexible Hulk #2

Hulk 002Issue: The Incredible Hulk #2

Title: Part 1, “The Terror of the Toad Men,” Part 2, “Prisoners of the Toad Men!,” Part 3, “Bruce Banner, Wanted for Treason,” Part 4,”Hulk Runs Amok!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Pencilled by Jack Kirby, Inked by Steve Ditko, Lettered by Artie Simek

Supporting Cast: Betty Ross, General Ross, Rick Jones

Villain: The Toad Men

Hulk Intelligence: Crafty Brute

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: The Hulk is spotted in a swamp (are there any swamps in the Southwestern USA?), causing a panic. Rick shows up and gets the Hulk to come with him while recapping his origin. Meanwhile, a magnetically-powered spaceship, manned by the Toad Men, are approaching Earth, seeking Earth's most brilliant scientific mind (which happens to be Bruce Banner, not Reed Richards, Tony Stark, or even Hank Pym). Bruce and Rick convince Betty and the General they're off to do some scientific research, but in reality, they're headed off to a cave near a lake, that they'll use to imprison the Hulk at night. Suddenly, Rick and Bruce are attacked by the Toad Men, who capture them in a magnetic ray, and bring them to their spacecraft. The Toad Men brag about their proficiency with using magnetism, and then in order to get Bruce to talk, they send Rick back to earth in a “magnetically-guided plastic cylinder.” Suddenly, as the orbiting spaceship goes to Earth's night side, Bruce changes into the Hulk, and breaks free, noting the powerful weapons the Toad Men have amassed. Back on Earth, Ross, orders missiles shot at the orbiting craft, sending it crashing to Earth. Since the ship lands in daylight, it's Bruce who staggers out of the wreckage, leading Ross to believe Bruce is a traitor. The Toad Men escape underground to avoid detection, and then send a signal to the invading force to attack. Bruce sits in his cell as Ross hears about the attack craft approaching Earth, but before he can do anything, the armada can be seen over all major cities, and the leader of the Toad Men says on TV that they will force the moon to crash into the Earth, and the only way to stop that is complete surrender! Meanwhile, night is falling, and Bruce turns into the Hulk and escapes. For some reason, the Hulk decides to head to Ross' house, where he finds Betty, but soldiers soon surround the doorway (just like in last issue!). The Hulk takes Betty with him to Bruce's lab, where he's joined by Rick. Before the Hulk can attack, the sun rises again (mighty short nights here), changing the Hulk back to Bruce. When Bruce hears what's been happening, he takes Rick with him to where his Gamma Ray Gun is being stored, believing that it may stop the Toad Men. Soldiers arrive, but Rick holds them off with a fire hose until Bruce gets a chance to fire the gun, which somehow manages to reverse the magnetic polarity of the Toad Men's armada, sending them away from the Earth. Of course, while this clears Bruce of treason, Ross still suspects him, believing there's a connection between Bruce and the Hulk!

Invention Exchange: Banner's amazing 10-foot-thick concrete door that Rick can open or close, the Toad Men's magnetically-powered technology, Banner's Gamma Ray Gun.

Reprinted In: Marvel Collectors' Item Classics 8-10, Marvel Masterworks #8, Essential Hulk #1, Pocket Books Incredible Hulk Vol. 1.

Notes: Beginning in this issue, the Hulk's skin is colored green. I have no idea how it was that Bruce was able to get the equipment into the cave to keep the Hulk contained, much less get it set up! The door to the Hulk's cell is concrete, ten feet thick (although the art doesn't look like it), set up balanced so that Rick can easily push it into place (how this prevents the Hulk from pushing it out is beyond me). Also note that this is the second time Rick and Bruce have been captured in a row, although last issue it was Rick and the Hulk, with the ship moving them into daylight, while this time it's Rick and Bruce, with the ship moving into night. Also, note that while all this stuff is going on with the Toad Men's armada, there appear to be no other superheroes around to deal with the situation – I would've thought the Fantastic Four would've been called in, at least! I guess an integrated Marvel Universe took time to work out! The stories in this issue were adapted as episodes 4 through 6 of the 1966 Hulk animated series.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Comic Book Advertisements!

First up this week is an ad from Charlton's Atomic Mouse #26 (although I'm sure it appeared in other Charltons from the same publishing month). Let's start with the top ad, shall we? "Send for your trip to Disneyland on records" -- say WHAT?!? Okay, even with the full color aerial map of Disneyland, I don't see how this could really give you much of the Disneyland experience, as the sound is only a small part of going to Disneyland. I find it really amusing that the text calls it "the ideal gift," too! Okay, so this was well before the days of home video cameras, and I'd imagine that most families who did own an 8mm movie camera probably didn't have sound, so if you had gone to Disneyland and wanted to try to relive the experience, this probably was about as close as you got (although I'd imagine paired up with the appropriate View-Master discs, it would be much better... hmm... I've been collecting the Disneyland View-Masters, and now that I think of it, having this record set would dovetail nicely with my plans to create videos with my View-Master collection in the distant future).

Below that, it's an ad for the Jr. Artists Club, which is something I'd never heard of before -- I would think that if this ad had been in the comics I read as a child, I'd be begging my parents to get me a membership to it, as I was always drawing back then! I tried to Google up some information on this, but there doesn't seem to be anything out there to tell me more about it!

House of Hammer #2


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

CBT: Space Ghost BLB "The Sorceress of Cyba-3" Chapters 2-3


Kirby Kovers #1

And now, the first presentation of Kirby Kovers here on The Random Acts of Geekery! As most of you are probably aware, Jack Kirby is my #1 top favorite comic book artist of all time, so this feature should come as no surprise to you. I spent quite a bit of time going through the Grand Comics Database, tracking down every cover they had credited to Kirby, saving them, uploading them to Flickr, and then randomizing them so we can get a nice variety each installment! The covers begin after the jump!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Monster Monday!

This week's edition of Monster Monday begins with a few stills from Irwin Allen's The Animal World!