Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Comic Book Letter of Comment: Scroogian Symmetry!

…Or, How “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” Before June – Became Something to Remember in November.

…Or, aren’t you glad this isn’t just another embedded video?

Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge opus “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”(Originally appearing in UNCLE SCROOGE # 24, 1958) has long been a favorite comic book story of mine, ever since I first read it “postage-stamp panel-sized” in WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST # 6 (1968).

Below: Cover of UNCLE SCROOGE ADVENTURES # 13 (1989) featuring a reprint of “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” – New cover art by Don Rosa.

Such a favorite is this tale that, on May 05, 2008, when I was invited to participate in the DVD documentary feature “Donald Goes to Press” for the Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) DVD set, I mentioned it prominently.

To digress, I DO hope you’ve managed to get a copy of what we now call “CHRON-DON # 4”, as there were only 39, 500 copies run and, despite being released about 15 days ago, it’s already becoming somewhat difficult to find. (More on that HERE and HERE and you can read more about “Donald Goes to PressHERE).

Two days after my tribute to this Carl Barks classic was committed to video, Gemstone releases UNCLE SCROOGE # 375, on May 07, leading off with a reprint of … “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”.

Fast forward to November 11, 2008: Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) is released on November 11, and the world (…okay, make that fewer than 39, 500 folks, considering the likely speculative hoarding of the set) gets to hear me wax nostalgically over the greatness that is “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon”.

Then, a mere eight days later on November 19, Gemstone releases UNCLE SCROOGE # 382 containing my Letter of Comment on the appearance of the story in May’s issue # 375… in which I say many of the same things I say in the DVD documentary. Here’s the LOC:

“I’m afraid to open my mouth! My brains might fall out!” – Scrooge McDuck, America’s first “Cash-tronaut”, from Carl Barks’ “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” in UNCLE SCROOGE # 375.

I’ve been waiting for you to reprint this outstanding tale, just so I could pull this favorite quote to open a letter of comment! …And it’s a good thing he DIDN’T open his mouth, as those aforementioned brains would just bump-up against the inside of his space helmet – and what an image that would have made!

Clearly a product of 1950s Sputnik Fever, “The Twenty-Four-Carat Moon” saw Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews in their own “space-race”, with rival tycoons and the Terrible Beagle Boys taking the place of rival superpowers, to claim a golden planetoid hidden behind the (as of then unseen) dark side of the Moon.

Alas, the “dark side” aspect of the story will forever doom it to be a period piece when seen from a late 20th or early 21st Century perspective. But, the comic-book gods smiled upon this opus when I first saw it in its initial American reprinting as the featured attraction of WALT DISNEY COMICS DIGEST # 6 – released in late 1968, not long before Apollo VIII became the first manned craft to circle the Moon! That gave our dauntless Ducks one final chance to be the first and only beings to see what lurked behind our Moon, and made this Barks epic just that much more special to me at the time!

(End of Letter of Comment)

…And, to the Harvey Comics fans out there, YES, that “Cash-tronaut” line was a tribute to those dreadful Richie Rich “verbal gag” covers (…or would they be “gag reflex covers”?) of the 1970s.

So, Carl Barks’ “The Twenty-Four Carat Moon” becomes prominent for me over two days in May and again over eight days in November. In May, I discuss it for video, re-read it and write a Letter of Comment in two days. Half a year later, in November, I watch the DVD discussion and read the published comments in eight days. “Scroogian Symmetry”, I call it! (…I mean, if you HAD to call it something, what else COULD you call it?)

I don’t know what all this rambling means, but it must mean something… beyond the notion that, by now, you may be wishing I just embedded a video of another old Hanna-Barbera cartoon instead!
...Fear not, I’ll get back to that soon enough!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Huckleberry Hound in “Piccadilly Dilly”

Give a man a fish and, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Give me an embedded video, and I’ll watch it. Teach me how to embed videos in my Blog, and I’ll endlessly inflict them on you in alarmingly large numbers!

Yes, this Blog HAS become rife with embedded videos of late. But, if you like Lost In Space or early Hanna-Barbera cartoons it can be a beautiful thing. At least I think so…

Piccadilly Dillyis a favorite Huck Hound cartoon that has not been released on DVD. It was written by Warren Foster, going back to the “Jeckyll and Hyde thing” he did for the Friz Freleng Bugs Bunny classic “Hyde and Hare” – but with a different ending.

I particularly like Foster’s dialogue in this one. When Huck converses with “Doctor J.” about his formula, his exchanges with the captain, or when he just cluelessly blathers on to himself. And ya gotta love Hal Smith’s maniacal laughter as "The 'Dilly"!

So, enjoy the great Daws Butler and Hal Smith, and the additional incongruity of Huck as a London Bobby with a Southern drawl.

C’mon, WB… put the rest of Huckleberry Hound out on DVD!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just One More Lost In Space CGI.

I really don’t know what to make of this, other than it is one damned amazing effort!

I’ll assume it’s only one more ambitious fan-effort (of many to be found). And that maybe “homemade CGI" is the 21st Century replacement for “fan-fic”. (You can see some other examples of CGI-reimagined Lost In Space openings in my previous post HERE!)

The names “involved”, that are seen at the end – and I’ll assume they are not used with permission, if a fan product – would seem to be there to give the notion of some "authenticity" (...if nowhere but in the author's fantasy), but imagine if something like this could be "legitimately" done – or even created for a possible video game.

…So, if this thing “disappears” someday, I will not be very surprised, so do enjoy it while it’s here to entertain you – and consider “what could be or could have been"!

Back when I was in my “early double digit years”, this is precisely the sort of thing I would play and replay in my head. New episodes, Dick Tufeld narrated “Third Season Next Week Scenes” for earlier episodes likeDeadly Games of Gamma Six”, “The Astral Travler… and, of courseThe Keeper”. (Yes, I suppose I was always TV Sci-Fi geeky to some degree… SO WHAT!)

But now, it seems that the more motivated members of geekdom, can now create those “in-your-head” scenes to share with the rest of us! Do we live in a WONDERFUL AGE, or what!

Oh, and look for “Space Station K-7” from Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles at about 1:34 and Forbidden Planet’s “Robby the Robot” (a two-time guest star on the original Lost In Space) at about 1:40. …Enjoy!

So, don’t cha wish it was “for-real”?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Amazing Things Fans Can Do Today! Lost In Space Third Season Opening – Remastered and Customized!

It never ceases to amaze me what dedicated fans can do these days.

Here’s the original Third Season Opening to Lost In Space, followed by customized openings to the episodes The Condemned of Space and Visit to a Hostile Planet”!

Not only are they redone in CGI, but each opening is “custom to the episode” by utilizing shots of the cast THAT ARE ACTUALLY FROM THAT PARTICULAR EPISODE!

In other words, the credit shots of Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Billy Mumy, Jonathan Harris, et al used for the credit sequence for “The Condemned of Space” are actually fromThe Condemned of Space” (in the comet’s path), and ditto for “Visit to a Hostile Planet” (runaway acceleration).

To digress, I’ve always been one for having differences in the opening credit sequences for different seasons of a show – as was the case with Lost In Space, Star Trek, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., F-Troop, Land of the Giants – and certain cartoons like Scooby-Doo Where Are You and DuckTales.

In fact, shows like U.N.C.L.E. and I SPY would actually work scenes from the episode into the credit sequence, just as has been done here.

Conversely, just try to pin down when any given Simpsons episode was from! You just CAN’T DO IT!

With different or changing opening sequences, you always know (at least approximately) when – or from which season – the episode you are watching is from.

But just imagine taking it to extremes with opening credits sequences that are SPECIFIC TO THE EPISODE! Apparently, someone did… Enjoy!

1: Original 1967 Third Season Opening.

2: "The Condemned of Space" (Custom CGI)

3: "Visit to a Hostile Planet" (Custom CGI).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jets, Giants… and “Bear”, Oh My!

Week Eleven in the 2008 NFL Season is a great place to be if you are a New Yorker!

After a hard-fought overtime victory over the arch-rival New England Patriots 34-31, the New York Jets sit alone atop the AFC East with a record of 7-3, while the New York Giants do likewise in the NFC East at 8-1!

UPDATE: Make that Giants record 9-1 for Week Eleven (...as of Sunday, November 16) with a 30-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens!

I don’t think both teams have EVER been in first place at the same time THIS LATE IN THE SEASON, ever before!

To celebrate, here’s an embedded video of my all time favorite “football cartoon” – Yogi Bear in “Rah Rah Bear”!

It dates from the second season of
THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW in 1959, was written by the great Warren Foster, and was magnificently voiced by the equally great Daws Butler and Don Messick. Butler, of course is Yogi, but also delivers Ranger Smith’s one-or-two lines in this one. And Messick (who normally spoke for “Mister Ranger”) is superb as the football game announcer.

Rah Rah Bear” is a prime example of why I love the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons… even though, for many of my early, formative years (…until I finally watched a “real” NFL game), I thought the game of football was played by two lines of “really big guys” running full-tilt directly into each other!

Ironically, as I post a Blog entry that, at least in part, celebrates the New York Giants’ success, I link to a cartoon that results in their defeat! Sorry, Eli. …Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


This Blog continues its obsession with Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) with my revisiting the local BEST BUY where I picked up my two copies on the Tuesday morning of release.

By Thursday evening, in the five-o-clock hour, all copies of CHRON DON 4 were SOLD OUT! There were three vertical “shelf places” full of them 2.5 days ago… and now they’re all gone.

I certainly hope each one went to “deserving homes” where they will be viewed and enjoyed for years to come. But, as past Treasures sets with LARGER press runs have already proved, I’m certain that some have fallen into the hands of (Boo! Hiss!) speculators as well!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

“Don for the Count” – a Senseless Census of Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961)!

I can officially confirm that the press run for Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961) is 39, 500 copies (as I warned HERE).

So, given my two purchased copies, and one each known to have gone to friends David Gerstein and Chris Barat, that leaves a potential of 39,496 still up for grabs. Get yours before the speculators move in, as has been the case with previous sets of Walt Disney Treasures.

Considering there were 165,000 copies of Volume One, and a diminishing number with each successive volume, it’s possible that there are persons who might (should they someday desire to do so) never be able to complete the series. 165,000 to 39, 500 is quite a decline even when spread over four volumes.

Shifting gears, the documentary feature Donald Goes to Press appears to have turned out very well. How can you not love a chronology that takes you on an artists’ tour from Al Taliaferro (featured) to Flemming Anderson (briefly glimpsed) and beyond! (THAT, my friends, is a LOT of ground covered!) Your thoughts on it – and the set in general – are welcome in my Comment Space.

The 45 minutes of my interview session were nicely distilled into a small portion of the feature’s approximately 13 minute running time. I see no cuts beyond the rough cut I’d seen earlier.

…Maybe one day, after you ALL watch it, I’ll list some of the things I discussed that didn’t make it in.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Burying the “Treasures”? – or Donald the Diminishing DVD Duck!

This coming Tuesday, November 11, 2008, sees the release of The Chronological Donald Volume 4 (1951-1961), and I urge all of you who are interested to get it on the day of release – or as near to the day of release as possible.

Aside from a great group of Donald cartoons, there is also Donald Goes to Press a special DVD Extra Feature that details Donald’s career in comics. (You can read more about the feature HERE!)
The reason for the urgency is that the press run for this set (…at least according to Internet postings I’ve read) will be 39,500!

I repeat – 39,500! That’s down from 50,000 for last year’s Volume 3, which is already in short supply, and has begun to fetch premium secondary market prices. (You can read about that situation HERE!)

So, if you want to complete your CHRON DON (Thanks for the name, Chris!) collection, or just want to experience a once-in-a-lifetime mainstream acknowledgement of the joys and wonders of Donald Duck comics, get this while you can find it easily!
AND, while you’re at your preferred DVD retailer, don’t miss out on Popeye the Sailor (Volume 3) 1941-1943 – Released November 04. This is an extraordinary set that includes all of the seldom (or never) seen Popeye WWII cartoons, covers the transition from Max Fleischer to Famous Paramount Studios, and completes the run of Black and White Popeye cartoons. AND, AND don’t forget about the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 6, recently released on October 21. As with the Popeye volume, this collection contains an entire disc of wartime cartoons, including such favorites as “Herr Meets Hare”, “Russian Rhapsody”, and the magnificent “Daffy the Commando” (a possible inspiration for the TV series Hogan’s Heroes).
There’s another disc of older Black and White cartoons featuring Bosko, Buddy, and director Jack King’s early masterpiece “A Cartoonist’s Nightmare”. Not to mention the expected disc of perennial WB favorites like Bugs Bunny’s “Hare Trigger” (the first appearance of Yosemite Sam), "Birth of a Notion" (Daffy Duck vs. Peter Lorre) and one of my all-time favorites Porky Pig and Sylvester in “Jumpin’ Jupiter” -- the final entry in what I’ve come to call “The Cowardly Sylvester and Stupefyingly Oblivious Porky in Danger Trilogy”!
This is a ONE GREAT MONTH for classic animation lovers! Enjoy it to the fullest!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dancing with the Stars… of Lost in Space!

Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama!

Since today is such a happy day, let’s do a happy dance with those zany Robinsons from Lost in Space!

Monday, November 3, 2008

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! (With The Flash and Donald Duck!)


Vote as if your LIFE DEPENDED ON IT… because it very well MIGHT!
Vote with conviction! Be as brave as a KNIGHT!

Vote not by emotion, but vote with your HEAD!
Don’t act like a “puppet” and be MISLED!

Don’t find that you’ve missed the BOAT, BOAT, BOAT!
Don’t let yourself be someone’s GOAT, GOAT, GOAT!

Just remember to VOTE, VOTE, VOTE! ‘Nuff said!

See what can happen if you leave it to OTHERS?
It's all up to you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

“Magilla Gorilla vs. Yogi Bear for President”

Admit it… Don’t you wish this was REALLY the choice?!

In two days, it'll all be over! For now, let's enjoy this...

In 1960, Hanna-Barbera and Western Publishing, the producer of H-B licensed comic books, ran Huckleberry Hound for the presidency. Read about that by clicking HERE.

If ONE Hanna-Barbera character running for the highest office in the land was a good idea, why not run TWO H-B characters for the next such election in 1964?

Some one must have felt that way, and so there was the electoral oddity better known as MAGILLA GORILLA # 3, as discussed in my column THE ISSUE AT HAND # 70 from Election Time 2004.

The Issue at Hand Is: MAGILLA GORILLA # 3.

Cover Date: December, 1964. Released in September, 1964.
Cover Art by Harvey Eisenberg. Published by Gold Key Comics.

Magilla Gorilla vs. Yogi Bear for President” 32 pages. Writer: Unknown. Art by Pete Alvarado.

MAGILLA GORILLA was Hanna-Barbera’s first new television series of 1964. This would be a great year for the H-B Studio, as it also saw the premieres of JONNY QUEST, PETER POTAMUS, and perhaps the best season of THE FLINTSTONES.
Yogi Bear, according to legend, began life as both a “tribute character” to comedic actor Art Carney – and as one of the three components of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW of 1958 (More on that HERE.).

Self-described as being “Smarter than the Average Bear”, Yogi’s charm and popularity resulted in an unprecedented animated series spinoff, THE YOGI BEAR SHOW in 1960.
Magilla Gorilla was a big, naive but lovable APE for sale at a pet shop in an unnamed city (…presumably, New York). The series followed what became a “tried-and-true” formula for producers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera – that of a “lovable, wise guy animal” confounding a long-suffering human authority figure. This became such a recurring formula, you can actually play “Fill-In-The Blank” with it.
Lovable, wise guy animal Yogi Bear confounds long-suffering Ranger Smith.
Lovable, wise guy animal Top Cat confounds long-suffering Officer Dibble.
Lovable, wise guy animal Wally Gator confounds long-suffering Zoo Keeper Mr. Twiddle.
Lovable, wise guy animal Magilla Gorilla confounds long-suffering Mr. Peebles.
Lovable, wise guy animal Breezly Bruin confounds long-suffering
Colonel Fuzzby.
   Get the picture? Somehow, though, we loved it every time!
Our story opens with Magilla, in his pet shop window, watching a televised debate between the “Elephant Candidate” and the “Donkey Candidate” for the presidential election of 1964. The eternally frustrated pet shop owner, Mr. Peebles, hits upon the idea of ridding himself of Magilla by running him for president.

At the same time, three-fourths of the way across the continent, Jellystone Park Ranger Smith decides on a similar course of action to rid himself of the pesky Yogi Bear! …Yes, really, that's it!

Gosh, could this be the flimsiest pretext for a political action in the history of… like, EVER? Imagine if we used such fundamentally flawed reasoning to… um, I dunno… go to war… Oh, no, wait…

I also wonder if Officer Dibble, Mr. Twiddle, and Colonel Fuzzby had similar ideas in “untold stories” of their own!

In any event, Top Cat is recruited from the ranks of available Hanna-Barbera characters to act as Magilla’s campaign manager and, in a role-reversal of the 1960 comic, Huckleberry Hound takes on the Yogi Bear campaign.

32 pages of electoral laughter ensue. Here’s two moments the comic didn’t show you…

Cam-PAIN Antics # 1: Magilla trails a swing-voter to his medicine cabinet. Could this be part of his plan for Health Care Reform?

Cam-PAIN Antics # 2: Yogi’s special appeal to a gun-lobbyist.

We end with the “Elephant and Donkey” candidates (…horrified at the prospect of losing to a gorilla or a bear) maneuvering both Magilla and Yogi to launch themselves into space – and far, far away for Election Day – in a symbolic gesture toward our efforts in the Space Race.
So, with the contest once again paired down to Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater, it is presumed that history resumed its rightful course. In closing, I'll leave it to each of you to decide for yourselves if that was a good thing...

What’s a good campaign without BUTTONS? Here’s one for each!

Remember to vote… even if you write-in for a bear or a gorilla!