Saturday, August 16, 2014

Monster Stuff!

Let's see what horrific goodies I have to show you this time. As always, unless I happen to note otherwise, these are not items I own or have to sell... if you want to add one of these items to your collection, I suggest looking on eBay!
The Bat lobby card! More after the jump!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fawcett Comics Ads: Captain Tootsie!

As we've seen before, candy companies advertising in golden age comics had a tendency to... well... exaggerate the benefits of their products, usually in the form of promising that eating their goods will give you a quick burst of energy to get you through whatever you're doing (even these days, Snickers advertises on TV that they're a good way to get you through a slump, where you're "not yourself when you're hungry").

Well, Tootsie Rolls were no different, although unlike some other candy companies, they had a superhero of their own: Captain Tootsie! Looking vaguely like Captain Marvel, Captain Tootsie had a pretty long career in advertising, he not only appeared in Fawcett comics, but also in advertisements placed in other companies' comics, too!

Here's a gallery of some of the Captain teaching children the benefits of consuming sugar:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Julie Newmar Appreciation Post!

Time for another parade of photos featuring my favorite Catwoman of all time, Julie Newmar!






I suppose I should end this now... before you get too stupefied!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Geek Memories: Planet of the Apes!

I wasn't old enough (at least, by my parents' standards) to see any of the original Planet of the Apes movies in the theaters. Honestly, I don't even recall that I ever even saw commercials for them on TV!

So, when was I first exposed to this series of films, probably the most successful sci-fi film series until Star Wars?

It had to be thanks to CBS.

What I recall -- and I could well be misremembering -- that there were several Fridays in a row where CBS aired one Apes film each week until the entire series had been shown. I don't know why my family decided to watch the first one... I'm sure we had to have seen commercials, and that my siblings and I must've been persuasive in getting our parents to let us watch them. So, watch them we did.

I can't even explain the impact that they had on me during that first viewing. We got to see the evolution of the saga, beginning with the first movie where we were rooting for Charlton Heston's Taylor (as well as his chimp allies Cornelius and Zira) against the oppressive Ape society, headed by Dr. Zaius... and then, by the time we got to the third movie, things started turning around. After the events of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where (spoiler, in case you've never seen it before!) the Earth has been destroyed, 20th Century-Fox made the brilliant move of continuing the series by sending the two chimps, Cornelius and Zira, back to our time, and turn the concept of the first movie entirely upside-down! In Escape From the Planet of the Apes, the two apes were the heroes in a world that feared them, and that movie ended in tragedy, even while it set up a continuation of the series.

So, when it came to Week 4 of the weekly "marathon," Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, my siblings and I were prepared to cheer the apes -- The Apes! -- in their battle against humanity! Oh, we had no idea that we were watching a thinly-veiled satire (not in the Mad Magazine sense, but in the Jonathan Swift tradition) of African-American slavery, the main difference being that the slaves in this movie rose up against their enslavers. No, we just cheered as Caesar and his apes revolted and killed human after human! One has to give at least some credit to Roddy McDowall as Caesar (the only actor to be in nearly all the movies -- he was the original Cornelius, missing from one film, and now playing Cornelius' own son), playing him as a sympathetic and charismatic leader.

The series' final entry,  Battle for the Planet of the Apes, wrapped things up by finally bringing a balance between the humans and intelligent apes, although that ending didn't come easily. For a time, it looked like things were heading in the direction that the original film took us.

But none of that really mattered to me as a kid. The series was just plain cool! Oh, by this time, I had to have been watching Star Trek in syndication, but Trek didn't have talking apes! I knew it had to be makeup (incredible make-up, created by John Chambers), and not real talking apes, but knowing how it was done didn't make it any less impressive.

The whole saga really captured my imagination, and I wanted more. Fortunately, a few things happened to keep feeding that hunger. Not necessarily in order, these were:

Power Records Book and Record Sets. Apparently released all at once were book and record sets based on four of the five films (they skipped Conquest, probably a good idea). While the adaptations weren't completely accurate (and condensed as hell to fit in the pages of what was basically a single issue of a comic book), some of the voice acting was pretty good. Whoever they got to voice Cornelius (and later Caesar) did a passable Roddy voice.

Marvel's Planet of the Apes Magazine. Part of Marvel's line of black-and-white magazines, I only ever got one issue of this series, which featured stories from the entire history of the POTA, including serialized adaptations of the movies. The one issue I had featured a chapter from the POTA adaptation where Taylor escapes from the apes thanks to Galen's help (Galen was the nephew of Cornelius or Zira, I don't know if they were married at this time).

Mego Planet of the Apes Action Figures. As big a fan as I was of Megos, I never had these as a child, which in retrospect is very odd! I had super-heroes, as you know, and even had the original Star Trek figures, but I never had any of these until I was an adult toy collector.

These helped some... but what really ended up being a big factor was that those movie airings on CBS apparently did great ratings (it may have been a second showing of the series, because I've read that there was some major storm on the East Coast that kept people stuck indoors when the movies were airing, which had to have been over several nights in a row, instead of weekly), and this led to the development of the Planet of the Apes TV series.

I heard about this and could not wait. When the show finally aired, my family were faithful viewers. Unfortunately, like most genre TV shows of the era, the show only lasted one season... but for that one season, we loved it!

Roddy had returned, this time playing Galen (not the same as the Galen from POTA). We had new astronauts, and all humans could talk. The only character from the original films was Dr. Zaius, and it's likely it wasn't intended to be the Dr. Zaius (I think I've mentioned before that my theory is that Dr. Zaius was more of a title than a name, per se... think of Zaius as sort of the Apes' pope, if you will. Once chosen to be Defender of the Faith, the orangutang filling the role becomes the new Dr. Zaius, leaving his old name behind. Perhaps the first Zaius was the Lawgiver, whose name was chosen for this role out of respect?).  We had a new gorilla leader, this time played by Mark Leonard (better known for playing the Romulan leader in the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror," as well as playing Spock's father in "Journey to Babel," although I also remembered seeing him in reruns of Here Come the Brides, but I digress). Humans were talking in this show, as I said, so it didn't necessarily fit in with the chronology of the original films... or did it?

I suppose thanks to comic books, I was familiar with the idea of alternate realities and time travel conceits, so I may well have figured that the POTA show either took place prior to the first film, or existed in a new reality that was created when Cornelius and Zira traveled back in time, creating a divergent timeline (after all, in Escape the story went that a gorilla named Aldo started the revolution by saying "No," something that never happened in the movie series).

Either way, it didn't matter. Oh, the series got repetitive quickly... it was always Urko chasing after the humans Burke and Virdon, as well as rebel chimp Galen, sometimes capturing one or more of them (while the others would help them escape), sometimes not. The future world of the Planet of the Apes didn't get explored all that much in the TV series, despite only a very small part of it being shown before (the Marvel Comics version did a lot more with realizing it was a big planet, with lots of possibilities). As I said, the show only lasted one season, and our heroes never got to return home...

...well, except that when the TV episodes were edited together into two-hour TV movies, apparently there were new segments filmed with Roddy as Galen, in which he explained that they did repair their spaceship and return home. But by the time these were on TV, I had a temporary negative attitude towards them, and didn't even watch them once (I went through a phase where I tried to jettison all the cool stuff I loved in a doomed attempt to be like the other kids my age before I realized I was trying to jettison me).

Likewise, when NBC aired a Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series, I pretty much dismissed it without watching it at all. It wasn't until years later, after buying a bootleg VHS with the entire series on it and watching it, that I realized how wonderfully way-out that animated series was (it was a mash-up of all kinds of stuff, fitting nowhere into any established continuity at all).

As I said, I left the Planet of the Apes behind me in my early teens for a long time. But then, as an adult, something rekindled my interest.

I don't know what it was... maybe it was finding paperback editions of the original novel that inspired it all, as well as the novelizations of the other movies, buying and reading them that did it. As I noted, when I started collecting toys, I had quite a few of the Megos in my collection until I sold them. But it continued regardless of the reason. When the series ran in a marathon on American Movie Classics in the 1990s, I recorded them all, and then just a few years ago, I picked up the DVD boxed set.

One of these days, it's going to be time for me to share these movies with my kids... and we will see, if like me, my children will also...


Monday, August 11, 2014

Ape of the Geek: Bingo!

Species: Gorilla

First Appearance: The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, September 7, 1968, Hanna-Barbera Productions, NBC-TV

Other Appearances: Adventures of the Splits were published in a Gold Key comic book series, and there was also an animated Saturday Superstar Movie special "The Banana Splits in Hocus-Pocus Park." In August, 2008, Bingo and his fellow Splits were revived.

Merchandising: Bingo, as well as his fellow Banana Splits, appeared in all sorts of merchandise, including of course records, posters, an extremely hard-to-find View-Master set, and much more.

Biography: Nobody really knows how the Banana Splits were formed, nor how a gorilla was able to learn how to play the drums. This is a rock-and-roll mystery right up there with how the TV show version of the Monkees formed. Legends abound that Bingo is somehow related to Magilla Gorilla, which accounts for his ability to speak, but since Magilla was animated and Bingo was live-action, this seems unlikely unless Bingo had burst through the dimensional portal seen in the Saturday Superstar Movie special "Porky Pig and Daffy Duck Meet the Groovie Goolies," which showed that there was a way for animated characters to cross over to the "real world." Could it be that Bingo, Drooper, Fleagle and Snorky originally came from the animated universe and crossed over? Or were they refugees from a magical island where everything seems to be alive and intelligent, possibly ruled over by a dragon wearing cowboy boots who's menaced by a kooky witch? We will likely never know who gave the Splits their training in music, as well as how their groovy pad was acquired, or where the rivalry with the Sour Grape Bunch began. 

Powers: Bingo's only powers that aren't matched by his fellow gorillas are his ability to speak and sing in English, play the drums, and operate motorized vehicles. He's obviously very intelligent.

Miscellaneous: Yes, all the biographical stuff I've provided up there was just filler I made up to make this more substantial! Deal with it. In the costume was Terence H. Winkless, billed as Terence Henry, and brother to Jeff and Dan Winkless, who portrayed Fleagle and Drooper respectively. His voice was provided by Daws Butler on the original show, and Frank Welker in the revival.