Friday, March 27, 2009

Guy Williams, Black Pete, and a Host of Others!

This is just too good not to post!

It’s the opening and closing to a Walt Disney’s ZORRO show from the late 1950s – with embedded 7UP commercials.

But consider the amazing number of actual persons and fictional characters that come together for this frantic five-and-one-half minutes!

Of course there’s Guy Williams, who starred as ZORRO and will be a forever-favorite of mine as John Robinson in LOST IN SPACE.

Oddly, the announcer for the series appears to be Dick Tufeld – who was also the announcer for LOST IN SPACE, as well as the voice of The Robot!

So, here we have Mr. Tufeld narrating the “Next Week Scene” for ZORRO (starring Guy Williams)… and IN THIS POST, we have him narrating a “Next Week Scene” for LOST IN SPACE (also starring Guy Williams)!

Familiar, but unexpected members of the production crew are Sixties LOONEY TUNES and F-TROOP composer William Lava – and, as "Assistant Director", Vincent Mc Eveety, better known for directing such well-known shows as STAR TREK (The Original Series), THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, PERRY MASON, and COLUMBO.

The confluence is made all the odder by the addition of two animated characters, seen in the 7UP commercials that were apparently produced by the Disney animation studio.

First, there’s 7UP spokes-bird “Fresh-Up Freddie”. Now, Freddie was a fixture of the back covers of late 1950s DELL COMIC BOOKS (see the ad below).

But, what the comic ad covers do not convey – and the animation DOES – is that “Freddie” is actually the next evolutionary step for THE ARACUAN BIRD (!) that ultra-zany creature from the 1947 DONALD DUCK cartoon “Clown of the Jungle”! If you’ve seen that great cartoon, compare “The Bird” with “Freddie” and see for yourself!

The print ads never portrayed Freddie as particularly “wacky”, but the commercials sure do – especially the “tag” scene of each one, where Freddie “pops” around the big bottle of 7UP!

And finally, in the first Freddie 7UP commercial, who turns up as the villain? Why, none other than Mickey Mouse’s most enduring foe – Black Pete! Seemingly voiced by Paul Frees. How can I not love anything that somehow manages to showcase both Guy Williams and Black Pete!

After all this, there’s not much more I can say but… Watch and enjoy! …And, if a wacky red bird offers you a 7UP, take it or suffer the consequences!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Yogi Bear in “The Stout Trout” (1958)

Yogi Bear should have read my previous post and benefited from The Timeless Bass Secret, tantalizingly hinted to a breathless public in a number of 1980 era comic books.

But, in 1958, he could neither read the 2009 post nor the 1980 comics – so he had no choice but to go to watery war with Wily Willy the Wily Trout!

And so he did, in this entry from early in the First Season of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW, written by creator and producer Joe Barbera and performed by Daws Butler as Yogi and Don Messick as Our Narrator.

Note the unusual attention to detail not afforded to most “blackout gag” cartoons. Yogi ends one scene by falling into the lake – and begins the next scene still dripping wet!

He’s also injured by an errant spear gun projectile, and spends the REMAINDER OF THE CARTOON with a bandage on his rump!

Also note the unusual rendition of the Yogi Bear Theme. It’s a little higher and more energetic than the norm.

Beyond that, this is a cartoon I just like the look of! The backgrounds read well and are colorfully pleasing to the eye – and, frankly, don’t look much different from those of Hanna and Barbera’s later theatrical efforts for MGM. (Particularly the widescreen phase!) Watch a few of those and then some of these and you can see the evolution… taking the extreme budgetary limitations of television into consideration, of course.

Enjoy… and don’t swallow any wooden fishhooks!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Comic Book Ads: The Timeless Bass Secret (…Yes, Really!)

Once upon a time – and thankfully no longer – comic books had full pages devoted to tiny rectangular ads packed many to the page. The items being advertised varied widely, but this one (from a Marvel Comic circa 1980) is certainly one of the oddest I’VE ever seen!
The Timeless Bass Secret
For thousands of years, Oriental fishermen have had the task of providing food for the village. The fish they seek are called Koh’Beh. The Koh’Beh is the Oriental version of our American Black Bass.

While on duty in Vietnam, I watched in amazement as a 10-year-old boy, using the fishing secret handed down to him from the ancients, landed 10 Koh’Beh within 30 minutes! This timeless method is equally effective on our Black Bass.

For complete details on this exciting Bass method, please send a self-addressed envelope and 5.00 to… [ SOME POST OFFICE BOX IN MICHIGAN ].


29, almost 30, years later, I wonder how “timeless” this big bad bass secret has proved to be?
Beyond that, did anyone ever trade FIVE “1980 Dollars” for the ability to catch a container-load of Koh’Beh? And does Kobe Bryant know that there’s a FISH out there that might phonetically share his name?
This was a time, after the end of the Silver Age and before the rise of the Direct Market, where I am convinced that comic books DID NOT KNOW WHO THEIR AUDIENCE WAS! (Yes, there were similar pages during the Silver Age too… but they primarily ran ads for novelties, magic tricks, joke items, old comics, and stamp collecting! Never did we see something this “out there”!)

Publishers were content to make whatever they could by turning full pages over to “Ad Brokers” who carved up the space (into sometimes uncomfortably small rectangles) and sold it piecemeal to whoever had a “wish or a widget” to sell to the (demographically undetermined) public.
On the same page, were ads for “Learn Nunchaku!!!”, “Become a Juggler!”, “Write, Sell and Publish Your Own Songs!”, “Have an Atlas Body in 7 Days!”, and “Self Defense: Kung-Fu, Karate!”
Odd by today’s standards? Yes. But, in comparison, “The Timeless Bass Secret” made them all look like those unforgettably ubiquitous “Hostess Twinkee Ads” of the 1970s!

Honestly, ads like these seemed more at home in the back of trashy magazines, than mainstream comic books. As the ‘80s wore on, this practice was diminished and discontinued.

Some things, it seems, DO change for the better! In this case, I’ll bet even some BASS agree!

BELOW: A Comic Book Ad Page Circa 1971. Novelties galore. …What? No "Timeless Bass Secrets"? What a gyp!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stan Lee Speaks!

In my opinion, there are FIVE TRUE GENIUSES in the realm of comic books.

I will not attempt to rank them, but in alphabetical order they are: Carl Barks, Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and
Julius Schwartz.

Each has created or otherwise perfected one or more key elements of the comic book reading experience, as we know it… and each has been honored for their invaluable contributions to varying degrees. This list, of course, is debatable, and each will have their own candidates – but, to me, these are “The Ones”!

At this point in time, Stan Lee is the only one still with us, and we should continue to honor him as the national treasure he is… such as his cameo as a bus driver in the TV series HEROES, which has similarly honored TV Sci-Fi legends George Takei and Nichelle Nichols.

At TIAH Blog, we’ll salute Smilin’ Stan with an unusual quoted piece from the “Stan’s Soapbox” column that appeared in HOWARD THE DUCK # 29 (…and, presumably other January, 1979 cover dated Marvel Comics). Here’s Stan the Man on one of his favorite topics: Marvel, vs. its competition (…a topic he probably invented to stir up publicity)!

“How do you explain the fact that Mighty Marvel is so much better than its ‘Distinguished Competition’ [ Read DC Comics ]?

“First of all, while I appreciate the implication inherent in the question, I must – in all fairness – reject it. We do our stories in a certain style, and they do theirs in their own way. To call one style ‘
better’ or ‘worse’ is just a matter of opinion.

“Our competitors, and that includes Archie Comics, Harvey Comics, and Gold Key, as well as DC, all have tremendously talented and capable artists and writers producing their books.

“In fact, many people working for other comic book companies used to work for us at one time or other, and may do so again. A great many of them are long-time personal friends of ours. Some have learned their trade in the Marvel Bullpen, and some have helped to teach us ours.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is, sure we want Marvel to be your favorite comic books, and sure we’ll knock ourselves out to produce the best stories and artwork in the field. But we don’t wanna succeed at anyone else’s expense.

“We don’t want you to feel you have to knock the other guy in order to be loyal to us. The better our competition is, the more it’ll keep us on our toes – and the more you’ll profit by it.”

Stan, are you SURE you’ve never run for public office? You’d do so well!

Everyone, certainly me, loves Stan Lee… but there are a number of interesting things to consider in his address to assembled comicdom.

The “friendly competition” Stan fomented back in the day was kinda cute and fun. But, as we moved into the ‘90s, as perpetrated by such abrasive personalities as Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada, it became very ugly. Thankfully, Jemas is long gone form the scene, and “Joey Q.” has grown up a bit… because, honestly, no one cares (…or SHOULD CARE) about this stuff anymore. Comics are comics… good or bad.

The difference in style that Stan speaks of was far more pronounced in the thick of the Silver Age than it was at the time of this message. Indeed, since the dawn of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams at DC, the two house styles have moved ever closer – and, by the ‘80s with THE NEW TEEN TITANS by Marvel Alumni Marv Wolfman and George Perez any beyond, became almost undistinguishable. All the more so, as creators shunted back and forth between the two publishers, as they do to this day.

But, to me, the most striking thing is saved for last!

In addition to classic rival DC Comics, Stan includes Archie, Harvey, and Gold Key among his competitors!

I love the admission from someone as high-up as Stan Lee, that there were (…and, in some cases, STILL ARE) good comics beyond the “Big Two”!

Funny, Stan fails to mention Charlton Comics (then very much a going concern) among the group. There are probably many reasons for that, and those reasons could easily fill another Blog post – but it’s worth noting!

Also interesting that, as this was printed in January, 1979 cover dated comics, both Gold Key and Harvey would soon disappear from the scene. In little more than a year, Gold Key would vanish, and some time after that so would the original incarnation of Harvey.

Gold Key would continue (after a fashion) as Whitman until 1984, and Harvey would putter along under various different leaderships until the mid-nineties.

But the real wake-up, perspective wise, is that, at the time of Stan’s words, there were ONLY SIX COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS actively making a go of it!

This was a time when all comic books were at a low point, and could have died out completely if not for the shot-in-the-arm of the coming Direct Market. But, still… I doubt anyone who entered the hobby during or after the mid 1980s could conceive of such a situation.

Lots of interesting thoughts flow from what was once a just publicity puff-piece from the great Stan Lee!

But, Stan always was one to get us thinking…

Thursday, March 12, 2009

“Next Week on Lost In Space: Hunter’s Moon” (1967)

Here’s the Next Week Preview for a prime example of the Third Season of LOST IN SPACE. The best season!

The Jupiter II is in flight and features a very early appearance of the Space Pod. Many of the planetary scenes were filmed outdoors instead of on a soundstage with a backdrop.

Actor Vincent Beck, previously a Viking and an alien on TIME TUNNEL and a Cosmonaut on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, is our “guest alien”. Dick Tufeld, the voice of The Robot, is also the preview’s narrator

The preview clocks in at a whopping 1:02! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Huckleberry Hound in “Huck’s Hack” (1960)

I may not understand TV (See the previous post!), but here’s something I DO understand… A Huckleberry Hound cartoon!

Say, I sound like one of those interstitials they used on the show!

Huck’s Hack” is another great one from the still-unreleased-on-DVD Third Season of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW.

As with all entries after the First Season, it was written by classic cartoon writer extraordinaire Warren Foster – from whom you’ll always get a um… “fare deal”.

So, let’s take a cab ride with the great Daws Butler as Huck and Hal Smith as “Mister Banker” and Our Narrator...
and remember to check the meter!

Tips and / or Comments – are always graciously accepted!

I Still Don’t Understand TV!

In previous posts, I questioned why popular series like THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY seemed to be ignoring February Sweeps and loading-up the month with repeats.

Friend of this Blog Mark Lungo volunteered an online article explaining that, due to the now-postponed February conversion from analog TV to digital, that February Sweeps was moved back to March. You can read it in the comments section on THIS POST.

Okay, assuming that’s so – and March is now a Sweeps month, I can now question why popular series like LOST and HEROES seem to be ignoring March Sweeps”.

In the heart of this supposed Sweeps period, LOST offers a repeat (of last week’s episode!) tonight, and HEROES follows this coming Monday (March 16) with a repeat of its own.

I have no clue what THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY have in store for the coming week… but more repeats would not surprise me!

Gosh, I only watch FOUR prime time series (all named here), and none of them appear to conform to any rules I can understand.

…I should stop trying to figure it out, enjoy what they give me – or, if not, just watch a DVD instead.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Next Week on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!

Quite possibly my favorite TV show of all time, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, has been woefully neglected at TIAH Blog. Mostly because there’s been little in the way of news and not a whole lot more in the way of video to embed.

Now, we make up for that!

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA Season Four, Volume One will be released on DVD March 31. With the assumed Volume Two to follow, Sixties TV Sci-Fi may very well be completed! What a wonderful feeling!

So, until we soon seen Admiral Nelson, Captain Crane and the Undersea Warriors of the Submarine Seaview battle Alchemist Victor Jory in the pit of a volcano, best Vincent Price and his “Deadly Dolls”, turn back classic sci-fi actor Warren Stevens and the Flying Dutchman, and blast Time Master Mister Pem (Henry Jones) to the past, let’s enjoy these embedded tidbits!

And, if you’re not a big fan of VOYAGE, watch ‘em anyway… they’re only a few seconds long! How much could it hurt?


Next Week Preview introduced by Richard Basehart. (Admiral Nelson)

Next Week Preview introduced by David Hedison. (Captain Crane)

Next Week Preview for “The Haunted Submarine".

Sunday, March 1, 2009

“Meet My Boss… Walter Lantz!”

So said Woody Woodpecker, at the beginning of each episode of the original WOODY WOODPECKER TV SHOW. Then, we’d cut to the fatherly Mr. Lantz who would introduce this week’s show, interact with an animated Woody Woodpecker, and become the show’s de-facto co-host.

So successful was this TV program in the late 1950s that the long running comic book WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES (Formerly NEW FUNNIES) was rechristened WALTER LANTZ TV FUNNIES by Western Publishing the publisher of the Dell Comics line.

Starting with Issue # 262 (December, 1958), the image of Walter Lantz also appeared on the cover of the comic as well. Through # 269, a headshot of Lantz appeared within a drawing of a television set, appearing in the upper right corner of each issue… but, for the next two issues, Lantz would get much further into the act!

WALTER LANTZ TV FUNNIES # 270 (August, 1959).

From his “Magic Hat”, Walter Lantz produces Woody (…who seems rather surprised to be there!) and, in a succession of hats, Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken. A very nice effect for its day. I picked up this issue at the New York Comic Con on February 07, 2009. Lantz would repeat his “magic” in the next issue…
WALTER LANTZ TV FUNNIES # 271 (September, 1959).

Here’s a comic I’ve owned since the tender age of four – and upgraded my coverless copy at the Baltimore Comic Con of 2008. Condition aside, it’s clear why I would want a copy of this comic with its cover intact…

Walter Lantz (…confined to a lower corner of the overall image, as ROBIN The Boy Wonder often was on covers of 1950s issues of BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS) appears, at first glance, to be CONDUCTING a jam session by two of his most famous creations (Woody and Andy) and one other that fell to him after being torn away from Walt Disney (Oswald the Rabbit).

Almost lost among the visual elements of this cover is the gag about how Woody positions his sheet music, given that he’s playing a bass fiddle.

But look closer still and you’ll see that Walter Lantz is not CONDUCTING the impromptu performance… but is DRAWING IT!

That’s not a BATON in his hand… It’s an artist’s PAINT BRUSH!

And, perhaps the strangest thing about this wonderful image is that the animated characters are depicted in COLOR, while Lantz appears in BLACK AND WHITE – giving LANTZ an almost greater sense of “unreality” than Woody and Friends within the context of the frame!

Were there no color photos of Lantz to use for these two covers? If there were, these would be truly memorable images. Still, they are impressive for (A:) for the technology of the time and (B:) for the image of a well-known creator interacting in such a way with his creations in a venue like comic book covers... where that simply was not done.

Actually, there WAS at least one usable color image of Lantz in the files at Western Publishing. See below…

WALTER LANTZ TV FUNNIES # 269 (July, 1959).

Yes, it’s the previously described “headshot of Lantz in a drawing of a television set”! WLTVF # 269 was another coverless issue from my earliest days, and was upgraded at the 2001 Comic Con International San Diego. Again, Walter Lantz appears with Woody, Andy, and Oswald… but this time in color. The same image adorns every cover with the “TV Set image” of Lantz.

And, just one final oddity… At the time, in 1959, Walter Lantz was indeed seen on many of the nation’s television screens… but in BLACK AND WHITEnot COLOR!

So, to recap… For the first two images seen above, where a “live” Lantz should have been pictured in color, he is seen in black and white! And for the 1959 television image, where he should naturally be in black and white, he is seen in color!

Ha-Ha-Ha-HA-Ha! (…as Woody would say about now!)