Friday, March 30, 2018

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: The "Inferior" Donald Duck!

DC Comics' INFERIOR 5 is one of those little hidden gems of the period of the late 1960s, when DC first realized that it was in serious competition with an upstart competitor by the name of "Marvel", and tried various ways to break with the Silver Age style that DC more-or-less created whole-cloth.  

This trippy title about a band of misfit heroes, its very name riffing on Marvel's "Fantastic Four", though short-lived, was always full of that unique "sixties sort of silliness"!  

As you can see below, series writer E. Nelson Bridwell (one of the earliest "fans" to break into the "professional" ranks) pulled-out all the stops, lampooning DC-style superheroics and Marvel-style hype and character chatter, all the while infusing it with an overall Mad Magazine sense of humor - resulting in quite the romp for fans of the day!  ...And anyone collecting the title retroactively! 

The issue in question is  INFERIOR 5 # 8 (Cover Date: May-June, 1968), where a giant and ever-growing mountain of junk springs up from nowhere!  

At the top of the heap, the I-5 find a mad scientist (...weren't ALL scientists "Mad" in the '60s?) with a rather unique plan for his requisite play for World Domination.

But, before we delve into his plan, take a... er, gander at the figure on top of that roof!   

No, not the rooster!  Move in CLOSER... and more to the UPPER RIGHT!  

THAT'S IT!  Anyone recognize that guy?  He looks strangely familiar!  

Familiar fowl aside, back to the evil crackpot plot...



Now, I don't know what the relationship was at this time between the producers of the BATMAN '66 TV series (which, not long before, had broadcast its final original episode on March 14, 1968), but it seems to me - certainly from this perspective - that EGGHEAD would have been a perfect villain to use here!

The characters even have a SIMILAR LOOK to them!  And, even if DC was ready to shake the camp off of Batman - which, with Denny O' Neil and Neal Adams, it would soon do in "Bat-Spades" (Sorry) - Egghead's campiness would have been right at home in an issue of INFERIOR 5.  

But, back to... Donald (?)

Despite the TITLE of the series in which "The Duck" makes an unauthorized cameo (Could you imagine that happening TODAY?!), I'm not ready to call this 1968 version of Donald Duck "INFERIOR"!

...Not while THIS 1969 atrocity still exists!  

...Talk about INFERIOR!  

Yeah, yeah... I know!  I'll never let this one go... 

...But, why should I when an historically great character like Donald Duck looks far worse in HIS OWN PUBLISHER'S COMICS...

...Than as a PARODY IMAGE in ANOTHER PUBLISHER'S COMICS at the same basic time? 

Even the INFERIOR 5 would have to wrestle with such a question!  

...And they have SO LITTLE to "wrestle" with!  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Show, Show, Show Your (Re)boot… Gently Down the Stream(ing)!

Yeah, I know!  It’s a pretty lame title, if I need a Robot to help explain it! 

But, this post stems from an e-mail exchange with the members of the Horror and Sci-Fi Film Appreciation Society that I attend each Thursday night.  One of the members, our friend Marc Whinston, was lamenting a new version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, which is scheduled to begin streaming on CBS’ All Access streaming platform.  You can see the article Marc sent HERE!

My response to this was something I felt I could turn into a Blog post - not unlike THIS RECENT POST.  So, never one to let anything go to waste, here it is…

That's just the trend now - and everyone wants to get in on it!  Reboot a classic show concept for some streaming platform, in an attempt to better compete with mainstream broadcasting.  
We've come SO FAR, haven't we? 

Star Trek, Lost in Space, and now Twilight Zone.  I have no great hopes for any of these, despite their "originals" all being classic-era favorites of mine.   Maybe, if someone decides to do Space 1999, it might actually be good by comparison!  :-)   "Space 2099", anyone?  

When you think about it, unlike Star Trek or Lost in Space, where there is a firm memory of both characters and concept that is bound to disappoint a segment of the audience... you can just tell any weird era-appropriate mystery with a kicker of irony and slap the name "Twilight Zone" on it, and it *could* work!  No actual "ghosts" of existing and beloved characters to live up to... as long as the host comes across as acceptably "Serling-esque". 

Remember, Twilight Zone HAS been rebooted TWICE before for broadcast TV, with Charles Aidman, and later Forest Whitaker as host.  While neither of those incarnations stood up to comparison with the original (WHAT COULD?!), neither of them were particularly bad - just "different era-appropriate".  I can say that because I *have* watched some of both later versions over the last two years, and they are EXACTLY as I say...  "weird era-appropriate mysteries with kickers of irony that had the name 'Twilight Zone' slapped on them"!  

...And think about it... Wouldn't a segment of the audience look in JUST BECAUSE the name "Twilight Zone" was slapped on it, rather than if it did exactly the same thing, but called itself something else?  Licensing that NAME automatically brings curiosity and NOTICE value that it would not otherwise have!  

The first and STILL the BEST! 

Indeed, you could say the same for licensing the names "Star Trek" and "Lost in Space" for any similarly themed new properties.  

Star Trek's various TV reboots were wise enough to NOT "recreate" the original series, but offer NEW adventures with NEW characters set in that "same universe"!  Three of them in the future of that universe ("Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine", and "Voyager") and one in it's past ("Enterprise").  So, as long as the FEEL of Star Trek was reasonably recreated (and I believe it was), these shows were successful - and were enjoyed by me.  Maybe this holds true for the new series... maybe it does not.  We will know soon enough.  

As for Lost in Space, I don't think it will EVER be "successfully recreated" because... ever since "2001 A Space Odyssey", and its very talented but misguided director, decided that space sci-fi should be "cold, sterile, and humorless", the spirit of lighthearted FUN that was the hallmark of Lost in Space (or certain Star Trek episodes like "The Trouble with Tribbles", or "A Piece of the Action") was never seen again!  

Look no further than Space 1999 for proof.  Even the later Star Trek series reflected that to some degree, when compared with the original.  Far more "tight" than "light".  You can "lose" ANY old family "in space", but it will not be "Lost in Space" without that sense of overt humor and outright weirdness!  And that's what will probably happen with THAT new series - and its "female Doctor Smith"!  

...At least that's my "writer's perspective" on all of this.  

Also, this trend of "rebooting a classic show concept for some streaming platform" will eventually pass - especially if these shows fail to be successful.  

...Thoughts, anyone?  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Separated at Mirth: Our Rolling Blunder!

Our first entry in the "Separated at Mirth" series presented Dell Comics' ANDY PANDA # 44 (1958) and Gold Key Comics' YOGI BEAR # 41 (1970) in corresponding contests of log rolling.  You can see that post HERE!  

Well, a certain MR. BUGS BUNNY, known for creating prior mischief at this Blog, had "his people" get in touch with us at TIAH Blog to remind us that HE did the "Log-Roller-Skates" gag before any of those "Beary-Come-latelys"! 

And, indeed he had, on the cover of Dell Comics' LOONEY TUNES # 151 (Cover Date: May, 1954)!

We issue a formal apology to Mr. Bunny, and offer our log-rolling "Separations at Mirth" in a revised and proper chronological order.  

Things to note:

Andy and Yogi might as well be rolling on the SAME LOG, given the way it's drawn on both their covers.  Bugs must have sourced his from a different type of tree.  

Similarly, Andy and Yogi find themselves upon tranquil blue waters, while Bugs rolls upon a churning green!  

Charlie Chicken and Boo-Boo skate with their hands behind their backs, while Bugs' arms are confidently folded up front!  

While skating, Charlie and Boo-Boo are standing relatively straight-up.  Bugs is actually better posed, with his mid-section out and his head back to achieve better balance!  Perhaps it's a necessity, because he's taller!   

Andy and Yogi's emotional states fall somewhere between panic and bemusement, while Elmer Fudd is outright angry at Bugs over this unexpected turn of events!  ...Must be all that "history" between them!  

Speaking of "history" our cover artist here is Ralph Heimdahl, who drew the Bugs Bunny newspaper comic strip from 1948 thru the 1970s.  That's some "history" too! (Click to Enlarge)

Anyway, better late than never for Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Dell Comics' LOONEY TUNES # 151, "Separated (from ANDY PANDA # 44 and YOGI BEAR # 41) at Mirth"!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Separated at Mirth: The Cagey Way to Quiet!

"Separated at Mirth" is our name for the situation when two or more comic book covers or interiors execute the SAME GAG, only with different characters and separated by years or even decades!

Today's example is MUTT AND JEFF # 31 (December 1947 - January 1948) and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 101 (February 1949).  

So, what's a guy to do when all he wants is some peace and quiet to get some reading done?  

Well, if you're Augustus Mutt or Donald Duck, and you have a caged pet parrot, the answer is simple!  

...Though, I'm not exactly certain what it could be that keeps Jeff and Huey, Dewey, and Louie so QUIET!  It's a BIRD CAGE, after all, not a "Cone of Silence"!  

Things to Note:

Even though the Nephews are bunched-up "three-to-the cage", it's Jeff who looks more uncomfortably restricted! 

Donald's parrot is quite PLEASED with this turn of events, while Mutt's parrot is decidedly not!  Oddly, Mutt is NOT getting the complete quiet he desires - though his parrot's squawking is likely easier to shut-out than Jeff's antics!  

CICERO'S CAT looks rather nervous, perhaps wondering if a stray "Meow!" might soon have her joining Jeff!  

The CAGES and EASY CHAIRS (and their occupants) are "flipped" in their respective compositions - though both PARROTS occupy the same "vertical line of space"!  

The covers are drawn by Sheldon Mayer and Walt Kelly, respectively.  Both were well-known artists famous for other properties ("Sugar and Spike" and "Pogo" - also respectively).  But, at the time, both were regular COVER ARTISTS for MUTT AND JEFF and WDC&S - respectively yet a third time!

These issues of MUTT AND JEFF and WDC&S would have appeared little more than one year apart!

The backgrounds of the two covers are both YELLOW, though MUTT AND JEFF's has a nice "wallpaper motif" to it!

There you have MUTT AND JEFF # 31 and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 101 - Separated at Mirth! 

...Oh, and I really gotta get myself a FEZ! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Sale February 28, 2018: SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 35 from DC Comics.

Have your own special PIC-A-NIC with a copy of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 35 from DC Comics, released February 28, 2018!  

This is a comic I've been waiting for most of my life, considering that I've been a fan of Yogi Bear since the earliest days of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW, and a fan of Scooby and the Gang since watching the very first broadcast of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU in 1969!

My grandmother bought me the first YOGI BEAR comic book in 1959 (Art by the great Harvey Eisenberg)...

...And I bought myself the second SCOOBY-DOO comic book in 1970.  (Art by Jack Manning)

I picked up the first one over ten years later!  (Jack Manning again! He worked on the animated series, too!) 

Okay, so you get it!  I love 'em both, and since first discovering the SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title, I had hoped to see team-ups with other classic Hanna-Barbera characters.  And, we GOT 'EM, like THIS ONE and many more! 

This pairing seemed a natural, given both Yogi and Scooby's status as iconic creations of the Hanna-Barbera studios.  I might enjoy seeing Scooby Doo meet Lippy the Lion or Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooey - but I don't think that's ever gonna happen!

Besides, it's not as if Scooby and Yogi haven't crossed paths before, as in the '70s with LAFF-A-LYMPICS...

...And Yogi even made a very brief but eyebrow-raising cameo on SCOOBY-DOO MYSTERY INCORPORATED, in the 2000's.  Now, THAT'S an ACTOR for ya!

But, at long last, here's Yogi in his pic-a-nic basket swiping glory, with Scooby in his mystery-solving glory!  Aw, heck... There's just "glory" EVERYWHERE!

And, no greater is said "glory" than in the case of RANGER SMITH! 

Ranger Smith had MANY different looks...

Um, did we say "MANY"? 

So many that John Kricfalusi superbly satirized the situation in one of his '90s cartoons!

But, eventually "Mister Ranger" settled into what I feel was his best look about 1960-61.

Then, there was a movie called "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear" in 1964, for which Ranger Smith was redesigned - and, in my opinion, not for the better!

He was somehow "less funny" with this particular look! 

See what I mean?  

Alas, it "stuck" in comics and all future animation...

...Until this glorious comic...

...And this glorious sequence therein! 


And, because this IS a Scooby-Doo comic, there's a GHOST!  ...And wouldn't you be disappointed if there wasn't!  

You just gotta love the LITTLE YOGI HAT on the title lettering!  

Beyond the "Ranger Resurgence" and the "Guest Ghost", the hallmark of the SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title, and its superb writer Sholly Fisch - who's written every issue to date, are the wonderful little character bits that each story is brimming with.  

For instance, this reference to the opening theme sequence of THE YOGI BEAR SHOW!  

Or, how about this reference to POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK, where Yogi AND Scooby's original comic books were printed and shipped?

As a kid, I actually COULD spell "Poughkeepsie", but only because I wrote away for so many Gold Key Comics subscriptions, for issues like these!  

It really says "Poughkeepsie, New York"... Click to Enlarge!

...And later, of course, I saw "The French Connection"!  

How do you not love this exchange between Ranger Smith and Daphne, and the parallels it draws between Yogi and Shaggy!  

Lest I neglect my solemn responsibilities as a "Comic-Book Dialogue Creator", I must regretfully cite one instance of character dialogue that could have been handled better!  

A zoo-bound Yogi is in the crate below... 

Boo-Boo should have added THREE MORE WORDS to his objection:  "You can't ship Yogi off to the Poughkeepsie Zoo - JUST LIKE THAT!"

Because it would FLOW MORE SMOOTHLY with Ranger Smith's dialogue below!

Sorry!  Sometimes, I just can't help it!  

Now, we've reached the point at which I always bow-out, rather than SPOIL THE PLOT, and just tell you to go and buy the issue!  

But, for once, would any of you mind if I were to REVEAL SOMETHING ABOUT THE MYSTERY?  

If you DO mind, please take this opportunity to exit the Blog Post - and remember my urging you to buy the issue.  In fact, buy EVERY issue of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP!  They're ALL GREAT!  Read them multiple times, and share them with your family and friends! You'll make yourself a better person and the world a better place!  Go forth!  

After all, it IS Scooby-Doo, so you know SOMEBODY'S DRESSED UP IN A GHOST COSTUME, right?  In fact, it is SO MUCH a Scooby-trope that SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP itself regularly references it in suitably jocular fashion.  

And *I* even did so in IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE # 7 (2015)!  

Okay, I've filled enough space so that no one will inadvertently see a SPOILER that they do not wish to see... So here goes!  

Surprise, surprise!  It's two crooks hiding out in Yogi's cave under a bed-sheet!  

Yogi's line above is exactly what separates SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP from a common, ordinary, garden va-ri-a-tee "kids' comic"!  

Nothing wrong with those crooks.  They look reasonably "Hanna-Barbera-ish" enough for me.  

But, from a comic that has made SO MANY wonderful and often unexpected character references before - like this incredible reference to the only-once-seen eloquently-speaking Dino...

...The many different versions of Robin the Boy Wonder, and that, at one time, Casey Kasem voiced BOTH Shaggy and Robin, ...

...Or the "Really Rottens" of LAFF-A-LYMPICS...

...I'm actually surprised that our story DIDN'T reference "Jack and Mack", two crooks who (all together now) HID OUT IN YOGI'S CAVE in the cartoon "Big Brave Bear" (1958)!

Perhaps they're BROTHERS of "Jack and Mack", or NEPHEWS, or COUSINS five-or-six-times-removed.  Seven-or-eight-times, even! 

Another funny thing... These two crooks must be SO TOUGH that, unarmed, they can spook two bears, a fully-grown Great Dane, four meddling kids, and a Ranger of the United States Forest Service... just by extending their non-fisted hands! 

"Jack and Mack", on the other hand, did it the OLD FASHIONED WAY! 

I hope DC's comics aren't becoming as gun-shy as some others have become in recent years!

NAAAHH!  Those guys are just MORE INTIMIDATING than "Jack and Mack"... probably because their NAMES DON'T RHYME!  

Nevertheless, don't YOU be intimidated by these non-rhyming-guys!  Go to your local comic book shop and get a copy of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 35!  

It's just one great big PIC-A-NIC!