Monday, October 21, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Scheimer.

Our series of daily posts on New York Comic Con 2013 will be temporarily suspended due to the sad news of the passing of Lou Scheimer, one of the founders of the Filmation animation studio, on October 17, 2013, days before his 85th birthday. 

Lou Scheimer, along with Norm Prescott and Hal Sutherland, changed the landscape of television animation with the premiere of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in the fall of 1966. 


Other popular series of note include: FAT ALBERT and HE MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. 

And, in low-budget live action, Filmation also produced arguable delights like these...

Ghostbusters: Before the Movie and "The (supposed) Real Ghostbusters".
Uncle Crock's Block: Starring Charles Nelson Reilly and Jonathan Harris! 

Mark Evanier will tell you more than I ever could about Lou Scheimer HERE.  And be certain to take the links Evanier provides within his post, for still more information. 

Beyond that, I’m happy to report that Lou Scheimer and many of the stories behind the Filmation studios actually live on, thanks to DVD. 
There are at least FOUR appearances by Lou Scheimer on DVD Extra Features, of which I am aware.  All of them are worth viewing, but none more so than the last one listed below. 

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (reviewed HERE) contains “Superman in ‘66” (Runs 15:28)  In it, Mark Waid, one of the very best comic book writers of the ‘90s, says of Scheimer’s Superman series:

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was probably the most faithful adaptation, thus far, of any of the DC Comics work.  The stories, while not taken directly out of the comics… the characters were on-model, they looked exactly like they did in the comics… and the feel of the stories was very much the same.” 

THE ADVENTURES OF AQUAMAN THE COMPLETE COLLECTION offers “Aquaman the Sovereign of the Seas” (Runs 26:11) Scheimer says a little about the show, as part of an overall look at the history of Aquaman.   

THE ARCHIE SHOW THE COMPLETE SERIES includes “Come On Let’s Go, With the Archie Show!” (Runs: 25:07) Lou Scheimer sits at a desk and discusses all aspects of the original ARCHIE SHOW such as the characters, voice actors (joking that Archie voice actor Dal McKennon looked as if he were 120 years old), the music, including the mega-hit “Sugar-Sugar”, and that THE ARCHIE SHOW was the first Saturday morning show with a laugh track.  [ JOE’S NOTE: Unless you count those endless Sat AM repeats of THE FLINTSTONES, TOP CAT, and THE JETSONS, that is!] 

DC COMICS SUPER HEROES THE FILMATION ADVENTURES (reviewed HERE) presents the true prize:  Animation Maverick: The Lou Scheimer Story” (Runs 40:00).  A lengthy documentary, profiling the man and the studio he founded.   Anyone with even the slightest interest in Lou Scheimer or Filmation MUST see this. 
Simon (The Pieman) says: You MUST see this great documentary feature!
Something I will be forever grateful for, from the “Golden Age of the DVD”, are Extra Features such as these, that allow viewers and fans the opportunity to see and hear figures like Mr. Scheimer while they are still with us. 

Now, sadly, such features are far less common than they once were, but aren’t we glad to have them – and, if only such things had existed years sooner than they did, imagine the wonderful moments we'd have on our shelves! 


rodineisilveira said...

Farewell, Lou Scheimer.


But the Filmation's legacy remains alive forever.

Joe Torcivia said...

Especially so, thanks to DVD!

Comicbookrehab said...

Lou also appears on "The New Adventures of Batman" featurette that came with the DVD for that series.

A few years ago, box sets of Filmation DVDs were turning up at these DVD discounts stores that have popped up lately; I was lucky to get both volumes of the animated "Ghostbusters" cartoon that Filmation produced in the 80s out of spite (Lou forgot to keep the animation rights when Columbia negotiated when him to use the name "Ghostbusters", so that's why there were two very different Ghostbusters cartoons on TV. The box set for volume two has an hour-long documentary about the history of Filmation studios, so it's also worth looking for. Also for the cartoon. :)

Joe Torcivia said...

An hour-long documentary feature on Filmation? Now, that would be worth checking-out, ‘Rehab! It would be interesting to see its differences and similarities with the feature I mentioned on the “DC Comics Superheroes the Filmation Adventures” set. That went into great depth in FORTY minutes, so imagine what we’d get in an hour.

I never saw the Animated Filmation Ghostbusters, but have fond (if delightfully cheesy) memories of the seventies live-action version. F-TROOP’s Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, with Bob Burns (who’s done a bunch of DVD horror film commentary tracks) as Tracy the Gorilla. And lots of great guest stars who Lou Scheimer was probably able to get cheap by that point in the seventies: Howard Morris, Jim Backus, Stanley Adams (“Cyrano Jones” and “Tybo the Carrot-Man”), Ronny Graham (”Mr. Dirt” from those great gasoline commercials) and lots more that I don’t recall because it’s been nearly four decades since I saw the show.

But, if there is a “great thing” to emerge from this sad occasion, it is that we’ve gotten to “know” Lou Scheimer better than any of the other departed classic cartoon makers BECAUSE of his frequent appearances in DVD Extra Features! And it’s a real shame that such features are appearing less and less these days, as they were chock-full of great historical content.

Comicbookrehab said...

The Ghostbusters cartoon produced by Filmation was a sequel to the live-action series,in which the sons of Kong and Spencer (Jake Kong jr. & Eddie Spencer jr., respectively) take over after their dads retire. Tracey the gorilla was given a Donkey Kong-ish redesign and was the tech guru of the team. The Ghost Buggy talked and could fly (reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and there more gadgets at their disposal.

The format of the show was similar to "He-Man" in that it featured a large rogues gallery, except there was room for more comedy. Dracula from "The Groovie Ghoulies" appeared in two episodes. It was "Scooby Doo" meets "He-Man". :)

"The Magic of Filmation" was the name of the documentary included with vol. 2 of the series..the history that studio is VERY entertaining..."Pinochio In Outer Space", that Oz sequel that had voices and songs recorded before any animation was produced, introducing the "moral" attached to each episode so that their cartoons could be sold as "educational content" anytime and meet FCC guidlines, the potempkin-style studio setup that fooled DC Comics into handing them Superman, creating "Hero High" after realizing he didn't have the rights to "Archie" or "Archie's Superteens" anymore, or the "Hardy Boys" cartoon, which resulted in Hanna-Barbera creating "Scooby-Doo" after seeing the former earn high ratings.

Ironically, only a handful of series featured characters that were owned by Filmation: Fraidy Cat, Waldo Kitty,Hero High, Groovy Ghoulies, Ghostbusters and Bravestarr (maybe) and a few others. The rest were all licensed properties.

Joe Torcivia said...

That DOES sound interesting! The “Superman / Hoax on DC” incident is also recounted in both the SUPERMAN and DC HEROES sets. I guess it’s become an animation legend!

Also, the primary victim of the hoax, representing DC Comics at the time, though unnamed in the documentaries, seems (per the narrative) to be legendary Silver Age Superman Editor Mort Weisinger. At least he ended up getting screen credit, as a “Consultant” on the cartoons.