Friday, April 29, 2011

Video Fridays: Dr Who and the Daleks

The British have a long tradition of taking successful tv series in every genre from sitcom to sci-fi, and remaking them into feature films.
So, it seemed only logical that, with "Dalekmania" reaching a frenzied peak in 1965,  a feature film adapting the first tv appearance of the lethal pepperpots, would be a box office smash.
It didn't quite turn out that way.
Amicus Productions, basically a lower-budget Hammer Studios, acquired the rights, and produced Dr Who & the Daleks, starring Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.

Note: I said "Doctor Who" and not "The Doctor".
That's because the movie's Doctor is an eccentric human inventor named "Who", not an alien Time Lord using the title "Doctor"!
The TARDIS, while still a space-time travelling device bigger on the inside than the outside, is now the product of one man's expertise, not the culmination of the technology of an advanced civilization.

Beyond that basic change to the concept, the movie was a fairly straightforward condensation of the  seven-episode serial, utilizing the original story's major plot points.
With the benefits of
  • being the first color version of Dr Who (the tv show was shot in black and white until 1970)
  • a bigger budget than the tv series and
  • a music score by Thunderbirds composer Barry Gray
the movie did very good box office in Europe and Asia, though only moderately-well in the US, where the tv show had not yet aired.
Encouraged by the ticket sales, Amicus adapted the second Dalek story into an even more-expensive feature film, Daleks Invasion Earth: 2150 AD.
But that's a story for another time...

The British Trailer

The American Trailer

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reading Room: DOC SAVAGE "The Man of Bronze" Conclusion

Art by Jim Steranko
Investigating the death of Doc Savage's father in Hildago, the Man of Bronze and his five associates entered the Valley of the Vanished and encountered the Mayan residents of a hidden City of Gold.
It's ruler, King Chaac and his daughter, Princess Monja, welcomed the son of the late Professor Savage and those who accompanied him.
However, urged on by the costumed "Son of the Feathered Serpent", others were not so friendly towards the outsiders.
Under cover of darkness, they kidnapped three of Doc's aides and threw them into a sacrificial well filled with snakes.
Monk, whom they'd left unconscious, followed them and...
Overall, a pretty good adaptation of the original pulp novel in about the same length as the previous Doc comic, the Silver Age adaptation of The Thousand Headed Man.

You'll note that Ernie Chua/Chan took over the inking from Jim Mooney for "Master of the Red Death".
Personally, I preferred Mooney.

After this, instead of reviving the color comic, Marvel decided to do a b/w magazine featuring long-form original stories rather than adaptations of the pulp tales.
(Marvel's foray into a field previously-dominated by Warren Publishing had proven successful, with b/w magazines in horror, martial arts, and the Planet of the Apes movie/tv franchise proving to be solid sellers.)
The eight-issue magazine run is considered superior by many (including me) to the earlier comic run, with longer, more involved, tales, all written by Doug Moench, that followed the Doc spirit more than the Lester Dent-conceived story structure.
They'll be reprinted in an upcoming Showcase trade paperback from DC.
Not to say the color comic didn't have it's good points including a couple of Steranko covers and some of Ross Andru's best artwork ever!

Doc would make two more appearances in Marvel's four-color line.
We'll be presenting those never-reprinted stories in the near-future!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reading Room: DOC SAVAGE "The Man of Bronze" Part 3

Adventurer Doc Savage and his five associates, having survived an assassination attempt by a gunman in Mayan ceremonial garb at their NYC headquarters, are proceeding to the Central American country of Hidalgo to investigate the suspicious death of Savage's explorer father.
As they come in for a landing at the airport...
Are Monk's buddies dead?
Did Ham's suit get wrinkled?
And, where's the Man of Bronze when you really need him?
Tune in Tomorrow for both the Astounding Answers and This Titanic Tale's Cataclysmic Conclusion!
Same Blog Time!
Same Blog Feed!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reading Room: DOC SAVAGE "The Man of Bronze" Part 2

Art by John and Sal Buscema
Learning of his father's death, adventurer Doc Savage returns to his headquarters in New York City, where he is greeted by his five associates, each an expert in a different science or discipline.
Suspecting foul play, they are about to read the elder Savage's personal papers to ascertain clues, when an assassination attempt is made on Doc.
The group (except for Ham, the lawyer, sent on another assignment) now goes in pursuit of the gunman...
Same Blog Time!
Same Blog Feed!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Reading Room: DOC SAVAGE "The Man of Bronze" Part 1

In the early 1970s, bolstered by the success of Conan the Barbarian, both DC and Marvel attempted to relaunch other pulp characters who had successful paperback reprint series as comic book titles.
Hoping that the audiences for them would carry over as Conan's had, Marvel acquired the rights to Doc Savage, while DC snagged both The Shadow and The Avenger.
The Doc title lasted only eight issues from 1972-73, but the license remained in Marvel's hands when the George Pal movie came along and Marvel invoked their right to do a comic based on the movie.
Compare with page 7 below.
Since the flick was an adaptation of the novel The Man of Bronze, which Marvel had already used as the basis for the first two issues of their previous comic, it was decided to repackage that material as a double-sized one-shot to tie-in with the movie's release.
The art was modified to match the appearance of Doc in the movie, substituting an open-collared shirt for his Marvel-created blue vest and a buzz-cut for the James Bama/Bantam paperback "skullcap".
(I always wondered why Marvel didn't go with the torn-shirt look of the Bantam covers on the comics.
Maybe they didn't want people confusing Doc with their resident torn-shirt aficionado, Nick Fury.
Thankfully, they returned to the torn shirt "look" on the b/w magazine covers by Ken Barr.)
The original two-issue comic adaptation had updated the 1933 novel to the then-present 1970s.
The Giant-Size Doc Savage "re-mastering" modified the technology back to 1930s levels, except the adaptation's replacing of the Mayan assassin's elephant gun with a laser rifle, which remained!
They also re-did Monk's hair from the incorrect black-with-blue-highlights to the red color it had in the pulp stories (and the remainder of the Marvel run).
Without further adieu, Part 1 of Giant-Size Doc Savage begins now...
Tune in tomorrow as Doc and his buddies go in pursuit of the assassin...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Behold the Bond Bunnies!

Here's James Bond 007 action...Bunny style!

Happy Easter!
Much MORE 30-Second Bunnies action HERE!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Video Fridays: The Man of Bronze IS the Man of Steel!

The recent Doc Savage posts have produced some of the biggest hit counts this blog has ever seen!
So, for this week's videos, we're going with The Man of Bronze and Ron Ely as two Clarks, one Bronze, one Steel!
First up, the original theatrical trailer...Have no fear! The Man of Bronze is HERE!

The two major fight scenes in the flick in one clip!

And a very special treat: Ron Ely as the Golden Age Superman!
 From The Adventures of Superboy third season finale; "The Road to Hell Part II"
Don't worry, the opening synopsis gives you all the background you need...

Coming soon: The Doc Savage stories from Marvel Two-in-One and Giant-Size Spider-Man, as well as the Giant-Size Doc Savage one-shot, none of which are included in DC's trade paperback reprint! PLUS: the not-reprinted text features and pin-ups from the various Marvel comics and b/w magazines!
The Shadow's Silver Age run from Archie Comics!
The COMPLETE Fox/Farrell Phantom Lady by Matt Baker!
The Green Hornet (Golden AND Silver Age)!
The SECOND Captain Marvel! (The one between DC's SHAZAM! and Marvel's Mar-Vell!)
Jet Dream and Her StuntGirl CounterSpies: the Complete Saga!
..and much MORE superhero(ine) stuff from 1938-1978!
Don't miss any of the fun!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reading Room: THE SHADOW vs the RXG SpyMaster Conclusion

Things look tight for He Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Heart of Shiwan Khan, doesn't it?
And, where the hell is his slouch hat...or his nose?
Read thru to the end and find out, kiddo!
As you can see, there were quite a few changes between The Shadow's last comic appearance in his own Street & Smith book in 1949, and this premiere presentation in 1964.
In effect, they rebooted the character and "updated" him to the swinging spy-oriented '60s.
The Batman tv series had not yet debuted, so the "creators" were using the James Bond films and Marvel Comics as their template.
The script was by Robert Bernstein, a writer who had penned stories for almost every publisher including DC, Atlas, and EC. The Shadow was his last comics work.
Pencils and inks were by John Rosenberger, who had started out doing horror at American Comics Group, then moved to Archie where he did The Fly, The Jaguar, and Young Doctor Masters, a clone of the then-popular Dr Kildare tv series. (In fact, Lamont Cranston, without glasses, is a dead ringer for Dr Masters!). Eventutally, he ended up at DC, where he did romance comics as well as Supergirl, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman (usually inked by Vince Colletta).

How did Archie end up doing The Shadow?
They acquired the comic rights thru a sister company, Belmont Books, which was doing a series of new Shadow novels.
The first one, Return of The Shadow, written by the pulp Shadow's creator Walter Gibson, kept to the concept and style of the original pulp run.
It was meant to be a lead-in to a line of pulp reprints.
However, it sold well enough that the publisher decided to go with all-new stories, but "updated" with "modern" story elements.
Gibson wasn't interested in going that route, so Dennis Lynds assumed the Maxwell Grant byline for an additional eight novels which combined the pulp and radio versions along with superspies.
The paperbacks did retain the cloaked and slouch-hatted imagery on the covers, which can be found on our brother blog, Atomic Kommie Comics.
(Ironically, both Lynds and Gibson later contributed stories to the same spy series: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.!  Lynds wrote a number of novelettes for the tv show's digest magazine, and Gibson wrote a juvenile novel, "The Coin of El Diablo Affair".)
The first two issues of Archie's Shadow follow, somewhat, the revamped Belmont Books version.

Curiously, The Shadow does appear in full cloak and hat (and nose) on the cover to #1...
...but that version never appears again during the series eight-issue run.
In fact, as of #2, there are further alterations afoot!
But that's a story for another time...
for goodies featuring other Silver Age heroes, besides The Shadow!
And check out the Shadow goodies from Amazon below...