Friday, December 31, 2010

Post 121! …Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We made it to a new record of 121 posts for 2010, with the help of some fondly remembered comic book covers and some skimpy additional material to pad the posts.

But, what the heck, as Donald gives way to the New Year’s Triplets, and 2010 gives way to 2011, I say Happy New Year to all who take time from their day to visit this Blog.
There will be lots of comics and DVDs to discuss in 2011! Hope you’ll join me in doing so!
EDIT TO THIS POST (January 02, 2011): In all the years of this cover’s existence, has anyone ever noticed that, while Donald is bidding farewell to 1942, that HD&L are ushering in the incomprehensibly far-off year of 19403?
Just noticed that myself now!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post # 120!

Just to pad our “Year End Posting Total” – now at 120 – here’s DONALD DUCK # 120 – Cover Date: July, 1968.

And perhaps the one an only time, excluding any sort of homage that may be done, that DONALD DUCK and SUPERMAN shared a cover concept!

Below is SUPERMAN # 383 Cover Date: May, 1983.

I’d call this the best argument for cell phones I’ve ever seen!

Post # 119!

Or… You know we’re coming down to the “Year End Posting Total” wire, when we do something like this!

For Post # 119 for 2010, here’s DONALD DUCK # 119 – Cover Date May, 1968, and released in March, 1968.

But, just to give you something more for your Blog-browsing dollar than a random image of “something with the number 119”, here’s The TIAH Blog Interesting Factoid of the Day:

DONALD DUCK # 119 was released at the time when Gold Key Comics made the jump from 12 cents to 15 cents. This was about a year sooner than other publishers, who would all be at the 15 cent mark during 1969.
The odd thing was that DONALD DUCK # 119 was released with BOTH a 12 cent AND a 15 cent cover price. See the 12 cent image at the top of this post and the 15 cent image below.

I bought my copy of DONALD DUCK # 119 in Flushing, NY with the 15 cent cover price. During this period, I also renewed my MAIL SUBSCRIPTION to DONALD DUCK and received a 12 cent copy of the book to start my subscription!

Other Gold Key issues purchased on that same day in 1968 were MOBY DUCK # 2 and DAFFY DUCK # 53 – all of which would exhibit the same duality in cover price!

I don’t know anything about the release pattern of the 12 vs. 15 cent issues, but they might have been staggered regionally. By the issues released in JULY, 1968 (regardless of their cover date), ALL Gold Key Comics would sport 15 cent cover prices.

You can’t get this stuff anywhere else, folks, so keep coming back in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Today Was Like!

The snow's still here, but it's back to work!

Say, this is almost as meaningless as if I had a Twitter account!

But, at least you get some great Carl Barks art as a bi-product.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Last Night and This Morning Were Like!

Yeah, it gets COLD, when you lose power for 15 hours – and it overlaps a 25 hour period of snowfall! Especially, when both events encompass the overnight period!

Even worse when your snow blower is ELECTRIC, and you CAN’T USE IT during those 15 hours – and have to dig out by hand and shovel!

But, what the heck! All’s well by Monday evening – and, if Donald Duck can take it, so can I!

…At least I wore warm pajama-type bottoms during my overnight ordeal!

…Um, it makes a BIG difference, Don! Try it sometime!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Today! …Or How I Spent My Sunday Afternoon, Evening, and Next Day!

To borrow a phrase more associated with Marvel Comics, than Disney comics…


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All…

…And, to all, a good knight!

Mo’ From Moby!

Our last post focused on John Huston’s 1956 film MOBY DICK.

Twelve years later, in 1967, Moby was still impacting our popular culture, as seen by the following:

Hanna-Barbera’s version of “Moby Dick” – with two kids named “Tom” and “Tub” and a seal named “Scooby”. …Um, they’d get “Scooby” right two years later, by morphing him into a cowardly Great Dane.

Disney/ Gold Key comics character “Moby Duck” was introduced in DONALD DUCK # 112 (Cover date March 1967) and graduated to his own 30 issue series.

Ah, there was nothing like the sixties! Gotta love ‘em!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DVD Review: Moby Dick (1956)

Moby Dick (1956)
(Released: 2001 by MGM Home Entertainment)
A not so long DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

If God ever wanted to be a FISH, He’d be a WHALE!” – Mr. Stubb, second mate of the whaling ship Pequod, from director John Huston’s MOBY DICK.

Gregory Peck, Richard Basehart, Orson Welles, and a giant whale? (No jokes on that last one, please!) …How could I not love this!

In 1956, I don’t believe it possible to have made a better film version of Herman Melville’s literary classic MOBY DICK than did John Huston. Of course, having a screenplay by Ray Bradbury certainly didn’t hurt!

Peck is first ominous, dark and brooding – then wildly and irrationally vengeful – as Captain Ahab. He does so without the air of camp that decades of “Moby-spoofs” have conditioned me to expect – and with a gravitas that could likely not be duplicated by any of today’s performers.

Richard Basehart, as Ishmael, is the clear “audience-identification” figure, and the calming voice of reason throughout the film. Those who know me are aware that I am second to none in my admiration of the work of Mr. Basehart but, even in 1956, he seemed a tad too… shall we say “life-experienced” (rather than “old”)… to play his character as a wide-eyed, wandering romantic of a youth, yielding to the call of the sea.

Orson Welles drops in for once scene, but it’s a beauty, as the village priest delivering the whalers’ prayer.

And, John Huston takes the MGM special effects department to great heights in bringing “The Great White Whale” to life.

Indeed, I must believe that the techniques employed in the making of this film, might have actually FOLLOWED Richard Basehart to 20th Century Fox television and his series VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, given the frequent use of whales therein.

So much time and care is spent on Huston’s setup of the characters and situation, that Moby Dick is not actually seen until 1:18:59 of the film’s 1:55:02 length. But, MAN… does that whale ever know how to steal a picture! Especially at the end!

Not that Peck’s Ahab gets upstaged without a fight:
From HELL’S heart, I STAB at thee!

For HATE’S sake, I SPIT MY LAST BREATH at thee!


Geez, Ahab… Get angry much?
Not enough specific CONS and PROS to make a list this time.
The one definite “CON” is in the area of “Extra Features”. Aside from the Theatrical Trailer, there are NONE. However, as this was a 2001 release, I’ll be forgiving – as the “rules and expectations” for producing a movie DVD were hardly set at this early stage of the development of consumer digital disc media. I suspect this version of the film was merely “ported over” to the newfangled “digital format” from its VHS incarnation, with the trailer tacked on as a bonus.

PROS: Huston’s film is a magnificent spectacle to behold… particularly for its time!

The cast is first rate, and the transfer is good.

One additional note for animation fans: The title cards for “MOBY DICK” were nicely parodied in the 1962 MGM TOM AND JERRY cartoon “Dicky Moe”, produced by the vastly underrated Gene Deitch.

This is a great film, produced too early in the history of the consumer DVD to have had the benefit of a great package. As I doubt it is a popular enough film to merit a deluxe Blu-ray release, I’d say buy or rent a copy and enjoy.

…And don’t forget to call Richard Basehart “Ishmael”! After all, he asks that of us at the film’s opening… and I wouldn’t want to let him down!

Monday, December 20, 2010


...Yes, I said Spongebob!

The animated series SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS has been incredibly popular for over a decade! Occasionally, I would get the feeling that I should see (…or, at least try to understand) what I was missing. Then, I would shake it off, go back to my classics and contemporary favorites, and not give the matter any additional thought.

Then, one day, when I saw the Spongebob DVD collection "The First 100 Episodes" (...Yes, that's the just the FIRST 100 Episodes!!!), I finally had to bite. After all, I'd sure be getting more than a representative sampling in one dose.

But, before indulging, I looked up
THIS REVIEW of Season One -- and decided that I might actually like it! Once I read that review, I said this is at least worth a look.

And, OH YES, I sure do like it!

There are two cartoons per show and, unlike the way they are described in the review -- an "episode" consists of two cartoons. So, I've watched the first fifteen (of the 100) episodes -- or the first 30 cartoons described in the review.

It's funny and absurd in ways I never imagined a "contemporary kids cartoon" could be!

Pleasing designs, funny animation, sharp and entertaining dialogue (that's important to me)... and a core of three great characters -- and two more great peripheral characters!

I can see why it's so popular, and how its popularity has apparently sustained longer than DuckTales, Batman, Pinky and The Brain, and all of its other modern contemporaries!

Spongebob Squarepants is a happily unbridled “sponge-fish” living beneath the sea, in the village of “Bikini Bottom”, with a regular cast of friends – and a few sort of friendly enemies. Think of the unfocused yet buoyant, somewhat annoying – but always good-intentioned – nature of PINKY (of “Pinky and the Brain”) without The Brain to rein him in – and with the good-heartedness and remarkable diligence of the now-forgotten EEK THE CAT – and you have some idea of his personality.

Dumb and even less focused starfish friend “Patrick” and dour, ever-annoyed neighbor “Squidward” (who has the extreme misfortune to live BETWEEN BOTH Spongebob AND Patrick) round out the three main characters.

Spongebob is voiced by the talented and funny Tom Kenny, with COACH’s Bill Fagerbakke (Dawber) as Patrick, and Rodger Bumpass steals every episode in which he appears as the perpetually put-upon, curmudgeonly Squidward.

Sandy, a VERY spirited female daredevil squirrel (…who has apparently decided to live at the ocean bottom just for the hell of it) voiced by Carolyn Lawrence, and money-hungry Mr. Krabs – owner of “The Krusty Krab” restaurant and Spongebob and Squidward’s employer – surprisingly voiced by Clancy (“Lex Luthor”) Brown (!) round out the main cast.

The look of SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS is very pleasing to the eye. Attractive and inspired character designs are combined with lush, vibrant backgrounds and far better than average television animation. Imagine if a John Kricfalusi cartoon was GOOD, instead of existing only for grossness and shock value, and that will give you an indication of the look of the show.

Again, the humor, and especially the dialogue, is quite good. Certainly better than I imagined for a “kids cartoon”!

And audacity? Imagine reuniting Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway of McHALE’S NAVY in a wonderful parody of Filmation's AQUAMAN ("Medmaidman and Barnacle Boy") - but now they're VERY OLD and in a nursing home! However, over-fanboyishly Spongebob doesn't know – or won’t accept – this because he just kept watching the old reruns on TV. He annoyingly and relentlessly urges them back into action. I suppose they couldn’t get Adam West and Burt Ward!

The great segment "Pizza Delivery" plays exactly like those Donald Duck and Goofy shorts where they're lost at sea, or in the desert – with Goofy continuously frustrating Donald with his upbeat attitude and remarkable adaptability. But with GREAT DIALOGUE between Spongebob and the alternatingly annoyed and dumbfounded Squidward! The reviewer I linked to above named this as his favorite episode. At this point in the run, I will “tie” it with the great “Suds”, described at the end of this post!

Tea at the Treedome” finds Spongebob accepting an invitation from Sandy for Tea – not realizing that he cannot survive within the non-watery confines of Sandy’s “airlock dome”. He goes though extraordinary and hilarious lengths to hide his discomfort from his host. Patrick tries to help but, as expected, his help IS NO HELP at all. We actually get to see a shockingly funny, non-animated shot of Spongebob and Patrick DRIED OUT and seemingly lifeless, before they are revived in the nick of time.

Hall Monitor”: A little authority goes to Spongebob’s head – and he becomes the very citywide menace he vows to vanquish.

Culture Shock” conjures up images of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (as interpreted by Spongebob and Squidward) in the classic “Show-Biz Bugs”, at the big Krusty Krab Talent Show.

Scaredy Pants”: Thanks to Patrick, cowardly Spongebob becomes the scariest thing in Bikini Bottom, for Halloween! Then, “The Ghost of the Flying Dutchman” and his Soul Sack (for stealing souls, of course) – the REAL source of the undersea scary Halloween legends – shows up. Nice ending reveal on this one. No spoilers.

SB-129”: Squidward just wants some peace to practice his clarinet. To escape the annoying Spongebob and Patrick, he accidentally locks himself in a deep freezer for 2000 years! Upon release, he learns that everything is made of chrome (a material he apparently abhors), and is confronted with “Sponge-Tron” and his 486 clones! Fleeing this nightmare in a nearby time machine, he travels back to the prehistoric sea, and smack into primitive versions of Spongebob and Patrick – who are driven to savagery by the sound of Squidward’s clarinet! Then he’s on to a “dimension of nothing”, where the surreal animation really takes over. Wonderful stuff!

Suds”: Spongebob comes down with a bad case of “The Suds”, the aquatic invertebrates’ equivalent of a COLD! This condition is marked by powerful sneezing, which expels large quantities of BUBBLES. Spongebob is headed to the doctor, until Patrick terrifies him with tales of “The Waiting Room”. “Old Magazines”, and “Cold Stethoscopes”! Patrick attempts to “home treat” his pal, but the treatment is worse than the illness – and Spongebob relents, and visits the doctor after all.

I won’t spoil things but the doctor’s “cure” is a remarkable sequence, the likes of which has probably never been seen in television animation! So effective was it that Patrick feigns the same illness – and gets a very different treatment. (I guess sponges and starfish are treated differently!). In terms of outrageous concept and flawless execution, I’ll say that, if you’ve experienced the entire output of animation – from the early silents to the present day, you’ve NEVER seen anything that plays quite like this entry! A TRUE original!

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS may be an omnipresent merchandising juggernaut and kids show icon, but don’t let THAT keep you from enjoying this unexpectedly clever series – on TV or DVD! (…I’d recommend DVD, to avoid the annoying commercials – and “all the rest” that’s associated with Nickelodeon!) It's surprisingly good and surprisingly funny (certainly for the small number of early episodes that I’ve enjoyed so far) – and I thought I'd share that!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Remembering Yogi.

On this weekend of 3D CGI, celebrity-voiced bears, let us take a moment to remember Yogi Bear as he was at his best – with some “better than the av-ver-age” comic book covers!

All illustrations courtesy of the TIAH Blog Stock Image Archives.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Really Strange Dream!

I never try to understand my dreams – just take them at their (often bizarre) face value.

But, last night must have been a manifestation of seeing too many commercials for the new CGI Yogi Bear Movie – and my recent indulgences in the films and television product of Alfred Hitchcock. …Let’s go to the dream!
In the dream, Yogi Bear’s CGI movie failed miserably, and the “smarter than average” bear was looking for a comeback vehicle. While said vehicle was not firm, the film’s director was… Alfred Hitchcock – looking just as if he stepped out of the mid-1950s. Though my dream was “in-color”, I think Mr. Hitchcock even appeared in “black-and-white”.

As if THAT wasn’t weird enough, I was selected as the screenwriter by Mr. Hitchcock, and approved by Mr. Bear!

With Yogi’s best writers unable to commit to the project – Warren Foster was dead, and Mark Evanier was unavailable – the job fell to me, because BOTH Mr. Hitchcock, and Mr. Bear enjoyed my freelance scripting jobs on the Disney Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books published by Gemstone and Boom Studios! (…Yes, really!)

Flabbergasted, I asked: “Do you actually READ those things?”

In tandem, they replied: “Doesn’t everybody?”

I thought it best NOT to correct such “gods” of the entertainment industry.

Immediately, I went to work on several treatments…
Bear-Faced Psycho” found Yogi in the shower, when the curtain opened to the harsh chords of Bernard Herrmann to reveal someone dressed as an “old lady bear” who hits Yogi in the face with a cream pie!

I envisioned Hitchcock’s magnificent shot of the residual splattered pie-cream swirling down the drain, as Yogi licked as much as possible off his face. Oh, and if you don’t think this is scary… the cream pie was laced with deadly “Joker Venom”!

Alas, Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Bear rejected the concept, as it would have Yogi “exit the picture” halfway through, as Janet Leigh did in “PSYCHO” – and no one felt that Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith could carry that much of the film’s remainder without Yogi.

And, so we moved on to “Lifeboat Bear”. (I KNOW this was the result of recent events, because I’d just reviewed “ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S LIFEBOAT” on this Blog!)

We open with Yogi Bear alone and adrift on a lifeboat in the North Atlantic.

One by one, other Hanna-Barbera characters begin to climb aboard. Not just any H-B characters, but OTHER “animal characters” that continuously confounded a human authority figure… just like Yogi did!

In turn, there was Top Cat, Wally Gator, Magilla Gorilla, Squiddly Diddly, and Breezly Bruin the polar bear.

And so we have lots of Hitchcock-ian TENSION, as Yogi confronts the others about “stealing his shtick” – and the rest show open envy over Yogi’s stardom.

Then the tension INCREASES, as a “Saturday Morning Network Executive from the ‘70s and ‘80s” is pulled from the drink – and ALL the characters gang up on HIM for the irreparable damage of blandness, pro-social messaging, and toy-based merchandising he and his ilk inflicted – not only upon them, but on the entire field in which they toiled!

They beat him and threw him overboard to drown!

Alfred Hitchcock loved the treatment, and Yogi felt it was “justified” after “Yogi’s Ark”, “Yo-Yogi” and everything else in between!

But, Joe Barbera stepped-in and said that it went against everything his early characters were all about – BEING FUNNY! I couldn’t argue with that (…even given the unspeakable atrocities of “Yogi’s Ark” and “Yo-Yogi”), and scrapped the idea!

Finally, genius struck… in the form of “Alfred Hitchcock’s The Bears”!

For no apparent reason, beyond the Hitchcock-brand of suspense and terror, the bears in Jellystone Park devolved into ZOMBIES, would form packs (ominously perching on some VERY STURDY high-tension wires), and attack innocent tourists indiscriminately!

It was up to Yogi to lead Boo-Boo, Cindy Bear, Ranger Smith, Snagglepuss, Yakky Doodle, Chopper, Fibber Fox, Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, and myself out of the park and to safety! (Yes, I ACTED in the film, too! As “Frightened Tourist # 1”! It was MY dream, after all!)

Alfred Hitchcock’s requisite cameo was to appear as the character of “Alfy Gator”, and not everyone makes it out alive… alas, poor Fibber!

The film was a tremendous success, and I was about to buy the DVD, when I woke up!

Um, that’s REALLY how the dream went… believe it or not.
Good Eve-ven-ing!”