Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just Some More Editorial Brilliance from IDW!

Was anyone else reading IDW’s MICKEY MOUSE # 3 (Legacy Numbering # 312, released on August 26, 2015) as delightfully stunned as I was at the panels below?

If you weren’t, consider that this very same month’s DONALD DUCK # 4 featured Yetis…

And, this very same month’s UNCLE SCROOGE # 5 featured the Grand Canyon! 

How about THAT!

...And, yes, he has indeed had "wilder adventures"

If the IDW Disney Comic Book line is a DREAM, I don’t wanna wake up!   

...Even from a "dream" like this! 

Oh, wait... That's better! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On Sale August 19, 2015: DONALD DUCK # 4 from IDW.

Let nothing, up to and including a pack of Tibetan Yetis, deter you from getting to your local comic book shop to pick up a copy of DONALD DUCK # 4 (Legacy Numbering # 371) from IDW! 

In it, you’ll find "The Perfect Calm" or "Are We There Yeti?", an original 1974 story from the Italian publication ALMANACCO TOPOLINO # 211 written by Rodolfo Cimino, with "perfectly calm"... er, superbly complementary (and sometimes "perfectly weird") art by the great Romano Scarpa, with full translation and dialogue by yours truly!

Donald gets himself into some typically Barksian trouble, while trying to get-through a decidedly non-typical Barksian oddball Duckburg holiday - and gets thrown in jail for his troubles.  

There, he meets an old Tibetan sage who introduces him to the state-of-being known as "The Perfect Calm"!  

Donald is quick to embrace this philosophy, as the latest in his long line of All-Consuming Obsessions, like this one...

But, instead of a quest for a set of outdated walkie-talkies...

...He's off to Tibet, on a quest to achieve "The Perfect Calm", with his nephews in hot protective pursuit!  

There, they find Yetis...

...And, "The Perfect Calm"!  

And just wait until Donald brings "The Perfect Calm" back to Duckburg!  Hoo-Boy!  

The issue is rounded-out by "Hampered", a 1937 three-page British comic...

...And Ludwig Von Drake and Grandma Duck in "Chore Chump", by Don R. Christensen and Paul Murry.  

I must point out that Don once told me that he preferred the "R." in his name, because there were two other "Don Christensens" in animation, and this was his way of differentiating himself from them.  So, perhaps in future credits, IDW could use the "R." (which Don sometimes wrote as "ARR" for effect) as part of his name.

So, walk in a "Perfectly Calm" manner, or run in a total frenzy - makes no difference to me, as long as you pick up a a copy of DONALD DUCK # 4 (Legacy Numbering # 371) from IDW! 

It will be one of the more bizarre - not to mention outright fun - reads you will have this year!  I make that "Perfectly Calm" guarantee!    

As always, once you’ve read the issue, please come back and join the discussion in our Comments Section! 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

I’ll meet you back here for another lively comment thread!  Not sure if DONALD will be here, though...  3...2... 1... Bye, Donald!

Maybe, we'll even get comments from some Yetis!  

Bonus Closing Pun:  This issue is SO GOOD, it would be foolish "Tibet" against it! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Coming This Week: DONALD DUCK # 4 from IDW!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015, will see the release of DONALD DUCK # 4 (Legacy Numbering # 371) from IDW!

It’s somewhat ironic that *I’m* so “excited” over a story in which Donald achieves the state of the titular “The Perfect Calm” – but this is a goodie, so be there for it, won’t you!  As the person who “calms Donald down” via dialogue, I say: Prepare for a long ride from Duckburg to Tibet, and back again! 

Oh, and some Yetis are there, just for the fun of it! 

Hope to have another long, fun discussion of the story in my next post, once the issue is released!  See you then!   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Fun Night, as Horror Icons do Weird ‘60s Television!

In previous posts, such as THIS ONE and THIS ONE, I’ve mentioned the Horror and Sci-Fi Appreciation Society weekly Thursday night sessions that I attend, hosted by Keith Crocker

Our usual format is for five members, plus Keith, to get together, watch a vintage Horror or Sci-Fi (or Spaghetti Western) film, and go around the room giving our impressions and critiques.   It is great fun for all who attend. 

For our “second anniversary” this summer, I proposed that, instead of Keith putting together sessions of four related films packaged as a four-week program (as he usually does), that WE the members each pick something unique to ourselves, and show that to the group, under the same format and ground rules. 

I called it “We Give Keith the Business” and, for the last four weeks, we have – with such classic member contributions as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”, and the more recent “The Sixth Sense” - with "Battle Royale", still to come. 

When it was my turn, I proposed an “Out-of-the-Box” option that Keith heartily approved.    And, so, on the evening of Thursday, August 6 th, 2015, and with the aid of my extensive DVD collection, I was my pleasure to present: 

Horror Icons do Weird ‘60s Television! 

In the sessions, we often joke about “My Wheelhouse” – that being sixties TV, films, comic books, etc.  And, on that night, the members were invited into “My Wheelhouse” – but with a horror film connection, as you will see from my prepared presentation text below:

In the mid-sixties, TV got really weird.  That weirdness, and that TV, formed the basis for my Wheelhouse, and I’m pleased (though you may NOT be pleased) that I’ve chosen to share two prime examples with you tonight.  Both of which I’ve seen in original prime-time network airings.

You could see the Age of Weird Imagination building with classic early fantasy shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS, and forgotten older ones like ONE STEP BEYOND, SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE, and TALES OF TOMORROW (all of which I’ve gotten into lately on DVD) but some have said the ball actually got rolling with MR. ED, a series about a talking horse.


From ED, we moved on to all sorts of oddball supernatural characters in series like MY FAVORITE MARTIAN (a character whose popularity prompted the creation of The Great Gazoo on THE FLINTSTONES), the ever popular BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE (successful, doubtless, due to the attractiveness of their respective stars) – finally culminating in MY MOTHER THE CAR.  

Sidebars of this weirdness included THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY – and even, in the non-supernatural sense, THE MONKEES. 

The camp approach to BATMAN, starring Adam West and Burt Ward, cemented the deal – particularly for the hour-long non-sitcom series, bringing profound changes in approach to existing series such as LOST IN SPACE (especially, as it was on opposite BATMAN), THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., THE WILD WILD WEST, and VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. 

STAR TREK, to its credit, managed to resist the pull toward “fantastic weirdness”, despite episodes about Tribbles, Chicago-style gangsters, and Roman Empires in space.  Perhaps that’s why it’s still so popular today.  But that may also be why it’s Third Season is so deadly dull, with many episodes I deem unwatchable – like “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”!     

Star Trek and Lost in Space BOTH did Westerns!  

I was a kid during this time, and with this and the incredibly imaginative Silver Age of comic books, it was a wonderful time to be young and impressionable.  When it finally all "went away" (...and I can pinpoint the exact moment when things began to change -- that will be some homework Blog post reading -- you can read it HERE!) I missed it to such a degree that television was never quite the same for me!     

The period of “fantastic weirdness” was in its fullest force from 1965-1968, with the epicenter being the year 1966 – not coincidentally, in January of that year, BATMAN premiered! 

But, our focus tonight is not just the foundation of my Wheelhouse, but two instances of beloved Horror Movie Icons finding themselves in the thick of it. 

We begin with VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA “The Deadly Dolls”, airdate October 01, 1967 – and guest starring Vincent Price!  It was Episode 2 of Season 4.  

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA was the saga of the Submarine Seaview, a super-sub designed for the Government-funded “Nelson Institute of Marine Research” by Retired Navy Admiral Harriman Nelson (played by Richard Basehart) and run by Captain Lee Crane (played by David Hedison).   It was created by producer Irwin Allen, as a 1961 feature film starring Walter Pidgeon in the Basehart role, and later a successful TV series, running from 1964-1968.   

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA had four separate and distinct seasons:  1: Black and white, primarily tales of espionage with a smattering of sci-fi.  2: Color with amped-up special effects. Begins as espionage and converts fully to sci-fi.  3: Moves from general sci-fi to “Monster of the Week”.   4: Moves from “Monster of the Week” to what I’d describe as “weird fantasy”.   The weirder it got, the more I liked it!

And “The Deadly Dolls” falls squarely into the realm of “weird fantasy”.  Wait until you see Vincent Price’s “partner in crime” in this one.  

It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers on a submarine.  It reunites Vincent Price with David Hedison, who starred together in “The Fly”.  Hedison has said it was a delightful reunion.  Vincent Price previously worked with Irwin Allen in such films as “The Big Circus” (1959) and the tragically obscure “The Story of Mankind” (1957).

On the Vincent Price Timeline,The Deadly Dolls” falls between films we’ve seen in the class – “The Masque of the Red Death” and “Witchfinder General”, with “Witchfinder General” looking as if it were the VERY NEXT THING he did after “The Deadly Dolls”!  At this same general time, he was also appearing as “Egghead” on BATMAN.

The Deadly Dolls” was written by Charles Bennett, who wrote the VOYAGE Feature film, 7 episodes of the TV series, and previously wrote screenplays for Alfred Hitchcock – Including Foreign Correspondent(1940), “Sabotage” (1936), “The 39 Steps” (1935), and the original version of “The Man who Knew Too Much” (1934) with Peter Lorre.  Classic Hitchcock to “Deadly Dolls”!  That’s some range!    

As “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman” is a “comfort view” for Keith, “The Deadly Dolls” (and certain other artifacts from that period) are for me!  I’ve watched this more times than I can count, over its nearly 48 year existence.  A reviewer on IMDB (and what would we do without it!) said of “The Deadly Dolls”: “Just a totally unique, totally insane, totally epic hour!”

I’m not sure everyone here will agree, but Irwin Allen did describe VOYAGE in general as: “An action-packed hour full of things you didn’t see elsewhere on TV!”  I have to say he delivered on that promise - weekly. 

It’s hard to imagine today how HUGE THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. was in its time (1964-1968 – same years as VOYAGE).  There were images of the stars, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, EVERYWHERE, and parodies of the name “U.N.C.L.E.” were irresistible in all media.  Inspired by the James Bond / 1960s Spy Craze, Robert Vaughn’s “Napoleon Solo” was the James Bond of the small screen. 

In U.N.C.L.E.’s third season (1966-1967) it was given a 29 episode spin-off THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., staring Stephanie Powers (later of HART TO HART) as agent “April Dancer”, with Noel Harrison (son of Rex) as her partner Mark Slate.  

Leo G. Carroll of Jack Arnold’s and Universal’s Tarantula (1955) starred in both series as U.N.C.L.E.’s director Alexander Waverly. 

The episode we are going to see, “The Mother Muffin Affair” with guest star Boris Karloff in a cringe-worthy role, was part of a coordinated stunt between the two U.N.C.L.E.  series.   For the THIRD WEEK’s EPISODES of both series, the U.N.C.L.E. agents switched partners.  David McCallum got Noel Harrison on MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. for that week, and Stephanie Powers was the lucky recipient of Robert Vaughn for “The Mother Muffin Affair”.  So, besides Boris Karloff, you get TWO U.N.C.L.E. leads for the price (not Vincent) of one! 

April Dancer AND Napoleon Solo! 

As mentioned, “The Mother Muffin Affair” was Episode 3 of Season 1 (and only) of THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E., and aired on September 27, 1966 – again at the epicenter of my Wheelhouse madness. 

It also becomes clear just how much the U.N.C.L.E. concept benefited by the cool, understated, and sometimes comedic abilities of Robert Vaughn as “Solo”.  Even WITH perhaps the most bizarre performance of Boris Karloff’s career, Vaughn still manages to steal a large part of the show for himself – and, perhaps a second U.N.C.L.E. series simply could not have survived without him. 

As for Boris Karloff, I cannot imagine him needing the money bad enough to do what he does here! 

Goodness Gracious Me! 
Oh, it’s wonderfully funny to watch, but you will certainly cringe and squirm at some of it.  Karloff had at least two great films still ahead of him at the time of “The Mother Muffin Affair”, “The Sorcerers” (1967, directed by Michael Reeves, who also directed Vincent Price in “Witchfinder General”) and “Targets” (1968), the directorial debut of Peter Bogdonavich.   I hope Keith will show both of these at some point, because Karloff is woefully underrepresented in a class like this.  Imagine his debut in this setting will be “The Mother Muffin Affair”! 

There’s also a great director who’s never been represented in this class.  His name is Tex Avery, also known as “The King of Cartoons”.  No one took as full an advantage of the cartoon medium – and the ways you can unconventionally and outrageously exaggerate it – as Tex Avery, who made theatrical cartoons for Warner Bros. (he came up with the line “What’s up, Doc?”), Walter Lantz, and MGM – and later created advertising’s animated insects who flee in mortal terror from a can of RAID! 

We’ve all seen cartoons where the plot is to not wake up the sleeping bulldog, royal highness, or whatever – but never quite like this!  In “Deputy Droopy” (1955), you will see Tex Avery and his protégé Michael Lah take FULL HILARIOUS ADVANTAGE of the medium of animation. 

The program proceeded, and everyone had a great time, with lots of lively reaction and Q&A. 

I sometimes wish I could occasionally do something similar at my house, as I have so much to enthusiastically share  – and, if nothing else, this session has encouraged me to more deliberately consider the possibilities. 

To my Blog readers, if you have seen any of these – or would someday LIKE TO, you are welcome to share your reactions as well.  Or, just comment on the fun in general.  I’d sure like to have you all over to do the same program.   

Look, Droopy's already here for the show!