Friday, July 31, 2009

Batman and Science Fiction

Pat over at Silver Age Comics has a couple of cool posts on Batman and Aliens. This era in Batman's history almost got the book canceled before the character would be a huge hit on TV a few years later. As usual Pat's expository posts are delightful and inspired me to get out one of my treasured silver age comics.

These aren't your Dad's comic books.

I don't read a lot of the current comic mags coming out these days. If I do I will wait to pick up the trade editions like the excellent Captain America run going on by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.

Obviously comics today are not written for children as they largely were when I was growing up in the Silver Age back in the 60's. The classic comics back then may have had kids as their target audience but they did not talk down to us. Quite the contrary they introduced science fiction concepts; language; morality; and even social issues that have stayed with us into our adult lives. It's a different ball game today to be sure. With so many different mediums able to provide kids with the instant gratification of constant stimulation to keep their attention, comics are having a tough go of it.

Comics look very slick today and most of them cost 3 or 4 bucks a piece. Even as slick as they look they aren't as slick looking as a Blu-Ray there you are. What they are doing, though; is becoming as dark, violent, and gory as the computer games they compete against. Right now throughout the summer Marvel has it's "Dark Reign" crossing over in it's titles and DC has "Blackest Night".

I decided to check out was going with DC's "Blackest Night" and have read Green Lantern #43 and Blackest Night #1. All I can say is...UGH! Basically in these two books an old GL villain called "Black Hand" falls under the control of some dark devilish force in space sector 666. We see Black Hand eviscerate, disembowel, and flay his mother, father, and two brothers. Then for the piece de resistance he blows his brains out; all in stomach churning graphic detail. Yum! Torture porn comes to comics. BH is brought back by the sinister dark and malevolent force in space sector 666 and then proceeds to go about raising deceased super-heroes. As you can guess they don't return as the good guys they were when they died. They are zombies or something worse bashing heads to a bloody pulp for their demonic master in space sector 666.

When I finished reading I didn't feel entertained. I felt bad. Movies like Saw and Hostel have the same affect. They aren't entertainment, they are an all out assault. My opinion is that if comics are to survive they need to be more like Brian K Vaughn's "Runaways" and Grant Morrison's "All Star Superman" which are everything that has been and will be great about comic books. In the mean time I will be happy to re-read my Silver Age comics.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1966 Marvel Super-heroes cartoons

Staying with the year 1966 we get the first of animated Marvel characters. The cartoons were produced by Gantray-Lawrence; a Canadian animation company, which featured Iron Man; Captain America; Sub-Mariner; Thor; and Hulk. The syndicated color series had extremely limited animation and were actually only photo static copies of the characters' comic book panels. The animation primarily was from moving lips, and some minimal arm and leg movement. Stories were lifted directly from the mags in their entirety and were shown in seven minute segments. Each character had it's own cheesy theme song with the best being the Hulk's: "Dr Banner belted by gamma rays...turns into the Hulk...ain't he unglamorays". What a hoot!

Check out the intro from the Hulk.

Here's the opening of every Marvel cartoon in 1966-67 including the Saturday nationally televised bigger budgeted Fantastic Four and Spider-Man with it's classic jazzy "Spider-Man...Spider-Man...does whatever a spider can...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remastered Beatles Catalogue

As all hardcore Beatles fans know by now, the surviving two Beatles and the two Beatle widows finally got their act together and approved the release of the classic remastered albums due to arrive for sale September 9th. You can get a preview of the songs at Apple isn't doing long suffering Beatle fans any favors though by not including any extra's on the CD's; which, you can buy separately; or, in the expensive box set. Apple could have made one box set and included the stereo and mono versions but (this is Apple we are talking about here) will have to buy The Stereo Box set which is listed for $207.98 at Amazon or the Mono Set for $239.99. So if you are a completist and want both sets it's going to cost you about $450.00. Well, I'd say screw Apple, I've got two ears so why do I want mono anyway? However, there are differences in the mono versions and the stereo versions.

Back when the Beatles were recording in the 60's most people had mono hi-fi sets as stereo sets were still considered for high end enthusiasts. All the hits we heard first were either on tinny AM car or transistor radio's. Stereo console systems were big pieces of furniture that my grandparents owned which is where I used to listen to my stereo albums until my parents finally bought a Magnavox in 1971. Consequently, singles and albums were mastered and engineered first for mono. Then the albums would be remixed for stereo with different final takes. Many audiophiles swear that the mono mixes are better. Not me. I want to listen in stereo even if it's in the fake stereo of putting the vocals on one channel and the instruments on the other. It would be a great reward for Beatles fans if the mono tracks were given to us as a bonus for having to listen to old crappy 1980's technology while inferior bands have had their stuff updated and remastered with state of the art technology for years. It's probably why vinyl has been trying to make a comeback.

Monday, July 06, 2009

1966 Batman Bubble Gum Cards

These color hand painted cards came out shortly after the new Batman hit TV series that debuted on ABC in January of 1966. I thought the cards were pretty cool then and I think they are even cooler now. I noticed right away that the art wasn't by the regular Batman comic artists; although, the back of the card had a Carmine Infantino image of Batman. The artwork is by several artists, the majority by pulp cover veteran Norm Saunders (Mars Attacks) and from pencil drawings by Golden Age comics artist Bob Powell.