Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bat-Backsliding and Some Other Titles, Too!

Those who spend any appreciable time around here (…and I thank you for doing so), will recall that fateful day in 2012 when New Comic Books and I parted company. 

You can read about it HERE – and, in particular, enjoy JoeCab’s initial comment, that was responsible for one of my best laugh-out-loud moments in the nearly six years of this Blog’s existence. 

Steadfastly new-comic-less I remained, making an exception only for the now-departed IDW POPYEYE series. 

But, sometimes things happen to derail even the most resolute of… um, “resolutions”… Like commenter “Rusty” – in THIS POST – bringing to my attention the KING TUT appearance in Issue # 8 of DC Comics’ new BATMAN ’66 series! 

Tut-tut... It's Tut!

I actually picked-up the first three issues of BATMAN ’66 – a comic book series that reflects the look and sensibilities of the 1966 Adam West and Burt Ward television series – as a bagged set, at NEW YORK COMIC CON 2013, and figured on reading them eventually. 

The First Issue of BATMAN '66

But, when Rusty’s comment linked to the Tut-Centric cover of # 8, I KNEW I had to have that one (and begin reading the ones I had), because Victor Buono, as King Tut, was my favorite villain created for the TV series – and Victor Buono has always been one of my favorite “villain-actors” in general. 

Live Action...
...And, at long last - COMICS!

The issue does NOT let us down in its depiction of both iconic TV series imagery – and its depiction of Buono’s Tut!  (Click on images to enlarge)

And there’s a second story featuring Cliff Robertson’s western-themed villain “Shame”!  Just look how great this stuff is!   Makes you feel like a fanboy again! 

Here’s a Bouns Image, from Issue # 2,  of The Penguin and Mister Freeze – Otto Preminger variety!  (…Though I always preferred George Sanders!) 

And, even William Dozier's "Omniscient Yet Unseen Narrator" gets into the act!  "OmYUN"? How's that for a catchy name?

So, on the cold and rainy Saturday afternoon of March 29, 2014, I journeyed to Manhattan to find BATMAN ’66 # 8 – and any of the other ones I missed.   Recalling that Jim Hanley’s Universe indulges in the very welcome practice of leaving several months’ worth of back issues on the racks at cover price, I headed there first, to round-up the outstanding issues of BATMAN ’66 from # 4 - on. 

Can we now call him "The Comic-Bookworm"?

While I was there, thought to pick up the first issue of IDW’s ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE series, as it was written by Mark Evanier
I like THIS COVER better than the "standard" one.
Needless to say, Evanier does not let us down, with the clever and delightful sort of PUNS that were the TV series hallmark – and a wonderful gag concerning the two ubiquitous, event-observing bystanders “Edgar and Chauncey”. 

So, with a stack of copies of BATMAN ’66, and the lone issue of ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, I was ready to approach the checkout counter… AND THEN I SPOTTED THIS!

Admit it… Your heart stopped too! 

Scooby-Doo AND Bat-Mite from BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD?  Astounding!  What did I say about becoming a fanboy again? 
"AGAIN?  I never STOPPED!"
"We've TEAMED-UP before!"
...And so have they!

As a courtesy to a fellow Blogger, I present this "Bat-Mite-a-riffic" (Yes, I actually SAID that!) sequence from that very issue: SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 3.

Funny, Bat-Mite never leaves comments on MY Blog!

And check out this priceless sequence from Issue # 1 where the characters reference both THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES and BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD! 

There are three issues of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP released to date, each one offering a Batman-related team-up (# 1 Batman and Robin, # 2 Ace the Bat-Hound, and # 3 Bat-Mite), but the friendly and helpful salesperson at Jim Hanley’s Universe believed that future team-ups would include characters from all over Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., and DC Comics! 

If so, I can’t wait for THIS team-up!  THAT'LL make me a fanboy for sure!  
"Hi, I'm Freakazoid!  Wanna team-up?"
And, I’ll probably continue with these titles, for as long as they last… darn it all!  :-)
"When do I get MY OWN TITLE?  Bat-Mite Team-Up!  Awesome Sauce!"

"Ya know... Maybe teaming-up wasn't such a HOT IDEA. after all!"

Good night, Folks!

Yes, that last gag was from 1939's "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur", directed by Chuck Jones!  Extra points, if you got that!    

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

R.I.P. Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

We’ve posted quite a bit of late about the 1966 BATMAN television series HERE and HERE, making this post a sad coincidence. 

Television and film writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. died on March 28, 2014, at the age of 91. 

A look at his IMDB credits reveals he was responsible for a great many well-known products of entertainment.  But, to me, he was – and always will be – the man who defined the look, feel, and very existence of television’s first Batman. 

THIS ARTICLE reveals that, having been hired by producer William Dozier to develop the series, it was Mr. Semple who came up with the brightly colored POW! BAM! BIFF! graphic sound effects, and Robin’s trademark exclamations “Holy (fill-in-the-blank)!” 

From this, we can further assume Lorenzo Semple, Jr. was also responsible for the weekly death trap cliffhangers, "The Batphone" and "The Batpoles".

"I'll summon him, Sir!"

"To the Batpoles!"
Of course, these unforgettable elements were commonplace within the comic books of the day (okay, maybe not the Batpoles), but it was the genius of Semple and Dozier to port them over to a filmed television production -- where they, and the talented actors who so perfectly performed material the likes of which was never seen by a mass-audience before, came together to create legend! 

Of the comic books used as source material by Semple and Dozier was the one above – BATMAN # 171 (Cover Date: May, 1965).  Many elements of this particular story were used in Semple’s pilot script for the BATMAN TV series “Hi Diddle Riddle” / “Smack in the Middle”, guest starring Frank Gorshin as The Riddler. 

 So much so that, in what may be my favorite fannish-moment of all time, at a convention, in the ‘90s, I showed Adam West a copy of this comic – and asked him to see if he recognized anything familiar about the story. 

 As he paged through it, he visibly perked-up and said (something to the effect of) “This is from our first episode!”  He called Frank Gorshin, who was at a neighboring table, to come and look at this comic.  I explained that this was the specific comic book that, more than anything else, defined their show.  
Remember this stuff?  Click on comic images to enlarge.

Look familiar?
They were both pleased, and each autographed the cover for me! 
 Click on either image to enlarge.

 But, I digress.  None of this, including the highly anticipated LATE 2014 RELEASE of the 1966 BATMAN TV series on DVD, could have happened without the talents and vision of Lorenzo Semple, Jr. 

Who, for having written the pilot episode, would also have invented “The Batusi” – an element clearly not part of the original BATMAN # 171 comic book – but of the wonderfully creative mind of Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
Rest in Peace!