Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Happy Birthday! (6/29/05)

I saw him years ago at a comedy club and he was hilarious! His stand-up almost makes up for his lame TV show, Anything But Love and appearing in the equally lame Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

Here's a depressed and neurotic Happy Birthday to.....

Larry David's best friend is 58 today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Happy Birthday! (6/28/05)

You don't get much funnier than this guy. Writer (TV's Your Show of Shows and Get Smart). Director (Movies like The Twelve Chairs, Young Frankenstein and The Producers). Actor (Movies like Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety and Space Balls).
Just to name a few. (and that's one hell of a funny resume!)

Here's a "Springtime for Hitler" Happy Birthday to.....

The 2,000 year old man is actually 79 today.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Today's Retro-review is: TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #3

(Right off the bat, last week I said I'd be reviewing Tales of the Zombie #2 this week, unfortunately, it turns out that I don't own that issue. Back when these books first came out I just had my allowance and newspaper delivery money to spend on comics, so when it came to coming up an extra $.75 for a magazine, that wasn't always possible. But, I do have issue #3, so here we go!)

That's what it says above the logo on the cover of TOTZ#3 which is graced by another Boris painting. (not as good as his painting for issue #1, but still pretty sharp.

By this issue (cover date of January 1974) Marvel had established a solid formula for their B&W monster magazines.

TOTZ's star was Zombie Simon Garth and the story to kick off this issue was his feature, a 22 page story titled "When Gods Crave Flesh!" written by Steve Gerber and illustrated by Pablo Marcos. This creative duo had settled in as Simon's regular team. Gerber was beginning to establish himself as adept at writing the strong, silent creature type and Marcos could draw a hideous monster on one panel and a beautiful woman on the next.

Donna Garth (Simon's daughter) has moved along with her father's best friend, Anton Cartier, to a Villa in Haiti. Cartier knows that Simon has been turned into an unliving monster and has done all he can to shield this information from Donna.

Bruce, a young struggling filmmaker and his ambitious wife Moria, arrive in Haiti to gather information and reference about voodoo, for an upcoming film project. They join Cartier and Donna at a local Voodoo temple where, while witnessing a ritual dance, Moria defies the rules and interrupts the service. Now she must pay the ultimate price. Can Simon arrive in time to save her?

Good story with some fine artwork by Marcos. It made me want to read more about this Zombie "hero".

After the debut of the TOTZ letters page, "Mails to the Zombie" is a six page text piece by Chris Claremont, "With the Dawn Comes... Death! It's the first of two parts and was OK, though not riveting enough that I anticipated part two.

Even worse is the following five page story, a reprint titled "Net Result". An abusive butterfly collector leaves his family to search for an extremely rare large South American butterfly. It's uncredited so I don't know who to blame for the incredible predictable ending, though the artwork was rather nice.

Next up is "Warrior's Burden". Story by Tony Isabella and art by Vicente Alcazar. It's a different kind of Zombie story centering on Gilgamesh as the eternal warrior who returns from the dead. Alcazar's artwork is crisp and stylized and a real treat to look at. I applaud the uniqueness of this tale in a magazine that could rely too heavily on standard zombie stories.

This story is followed by a text piece, "The Night of the Living Dead goes on and on and on."
Don McGregor writes a very detailed piece that covers the George Romero classic very well. Interspersed are many pictures from the film. At this time, "Night of the Living Dead" was still a recent film and fresh on everyone's mind. It was a true "horror" film that spawned a lot of copy cats, but it was the first and perhaps best.

"I Won't Stay Dead" is a 5 page reprint credited to Bill Walton. It's a rare reprint that I found to be really intriguing and I had no way to see how they were going to end it. Then I read the ending.....yuck. A really lame finish that ruins the four page set up. Nice artwork though.

Next up is a 9 pager titled "Jilimbi's World", story by Doug Moench and art by Enrique Badia. A Haiti plantation owner, John Banning, is having problems with his field workers. A rabble rouser named Jilimbi is stirring up the others so Banning and other local owners ride into the swamps and torch Jilimbi's hut. But this doesn't end Banning's problems, he and his wife Lucy soon find themselves trying to stave off an army of murderious zombies as they attack their mansion home. The attack ends with disastrous results, leaving Lucy to pay the price for Jilimibi's death. A nice little horror tale with strong detailed artwork by Badia.

Closing out issue #3 is "Zombie Feature Page". In a time (1974) looong before the internet and fan press it was a way to give information to the readers about the men and women who write and draw their favorite comics. This issues feature is Howard the Duck's creator and Simon Garth's writer, Steve Gerber.

While Tales of the Zombie #3 wasn't a great issue by any means, it was a strong effort thanks in part by Marvel's resident Zombie. As a comic reader in the early 70's if you wanted to read about Simon Garth you could only find him in the pages of the B&W mags as he never appeared in the color monthlies.

Don't forget to stop by here next week as I retro-review Monsters Unleashed #2, and as I paged through it this morning, it looks like a winner!

Happy Birthday! (6/27/05)

I could go on and on about how he showed that he was a young talented upcoming actor in films like The Cider House Rules, The Ice Storm and Wonder Boys
but all that pales in comparison to the fact that...HE'S FRICKIN' PETER PARKER!!!!
(and that's all that matters.)

Here's a "Pleasantville" Happy Birthday to.....

Your "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" is 30 today.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Not so Adult, "Adult Swim".

I'm a fan of the late night programming on The Cartoon Network, the post 11:00 PM (EST) run of shows called Adult Swim. I prefer the odd humor cartoons they run (and I never watch those slew of anime they've been sticking on as of late), like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Family Guy and as I've mentioned months ago, the excellent Venture Brothers.

But I've got a bone to pick with the powers that run Adult Swim. Before most cartoons they show, they run a disclaimer, letting the viewer know that though these are animated shows, there could be scenes and language not suitable for young children.

Though if you're little tots are up after midnight watching cartoons shown on a series titled "Adult" Swim, I believe there's a thing called parenting that should factor in here.


Since I own all the Futurama episodes on DVD I rarely tune into Adult Swim when they run Matt Groening's great animated sci-fi / humor show. Why watch it with commercial interruptions, when I can simply pop in a disk?

The other night though, I happened to tune in when Adult Swim was running the Futurama episode, "Bender Gets Made" (Bender, the robot, joins the Robot Mobsters). Since I've seen this particular episode several times I knew what to expect in scenes and dialogue. I was SHOCKED, hell, even STUNNED when Professor Farnsworth was about to make a comment..... and he didn't!

His lips moved but nothing came out.

The Cartoon Network had censored an episode of Futurama!!! Here's a show that was shown on over air free network TV and run early in the evening on Sundays. Usually around 7:00 PM (EST). Now why in the hell, would a piece of dialogue that was suitable then, be so rudely taken off during a rerun that's shown late night on a cable series titled "Adult" Swim???!!!

This without a doubt, is another series of events of the stupidity of our government and the FCC sticking their asinine "Politically Correct" nose where it shouldn't be.

Oh, in case you were wondering, that "horrible" piece of dialogue that Professor Farnsworth uttered was "Sweet Zombie Jesus".

Oh yeah............ that's dangerous stuff.
Gee, thanks FCC.

Happy Birthday! (6/26/05)

He was creepy looking, what with those bugged out eyes. So it's no surprise that for most of his career he played creepy guys, like in the films The Beast with Five Fingers and Arsenic and Old Lace. But he was equally as good in straight dramatic roles in such landmark films as The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca.

Here's a Mr. Moto Happy Birthday to.....

Laszlo Lowenstein (his birth name) would have been 101. today.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Brand New PCS Anthology Book is now on sale!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago our group, The Philadelphia Cartoonist Society had completed and received from the printers our First Anthology Book. Twenty of our members, featuring a diverse and eclectic range of styles and talents, finished an original five page story especially for this book. It's quite a package, coming in at 128 pages, and looks very sharp! (if I do say so myself)

Only 500 copies were produced in the first printing and numbered copies will be available at local book stores, various conventions and on my web site merchandise page.

If you'd like to see preview pages of the book, go to the Baboon Books Comics page, click on the book cover and see twenty pages from the book that samples everyone's stories.

Don't delay, order your copy today!!!
(thus endith today's hard sell.)

Happy Birthday! (6/25/05)

She's perhaps the ultimate TV mom, whether looking after Timmy and his pet collie on
Lassie, protecting her children from bizarre aliens on Lost In Space or filling in for Kate at the Shady Rest on Petticoat Junction, there wasn't anyone better.

Here's a Happy Birthday to that other Mrs. Robinson...

The woman who was named for the month she was born is 80 today.

Friday, June 24, 2005

14 Days until the FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIE!

Just a fortnight away!

And to get into the FF mood here's a classic story from one of the best runs a comic series, any comic series ever had. In the late 1960's Lee & Kirby were riding a huge creative high. In this run, roughly from issues #44 thru #47 Jack introduced a great new group of characters, known only as The Inhumans!

The mysterious race of beings that the Fantastic Four encountered consisted of the beautiful Medusa, she with the living hair, Gorgon, the man with the powerful hooves, Karnak, Judo master that could detect the weakness of any surface, the amphibious Triton, Lockjaw, the dog that could transverse dimensions, Crystal, master of the elements and the woman who steals Johnny Storm's heart and most daunting of them all, Black Bolt, the mute and powerful Monarch of the Inhumans homeland.

It was a story that never gave you a second to catch your breath! Starting right after Reed and Sue returned from their honeymoon, it began with an attack by the misunderstood android known as Dragon Man and ended with Black Bolt's insane brother, Maximus the Mad, gain his revenge over the Inhumans, while the Fantastic Four could only watch, unable to stop him.

Besides the great Kirby/Sinnott artwork, and that classic Lee dialogue, how about the titles of these issues:
#44 - "The Gentleman's Name is "Gorgon!" or What a way to spend a honeymoon!
#45 - "Among Us Hide.... The Inhumans!"
#46 - "Those Who Would Destroy Us!"
#47 - "Beware the Hidden Land!"
How could you not get excited to read stories like that?

One can only hope that in two weeks from today, that full length feature film can come close to matching those classic tales!

Happy Birthday! (6/24/05)

Well, it's slim pickings today not many cool or obscure folks to choose from, so--
here's a guy who's had a modest career that along with small supporting parts gained some notoriety in a adventure/detective TV show called Riptide.
But I'm mentioning him today 'cause it gives me an excuse to post a picture from his other notable TV show,
Jake and the Fatman.

How can you not love a show that when casting it's leads, called William Conrad and asked him, "Bill, do you want to appear in a new show called Jake and the Fatman?"
Conrad; "Sure..........which one am I?"

Here's a Hawaiian Happy Birthday to.....

The skinny half of Jake and the Fatman is 49 today.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Another reason why PEANUTS was a GREAT comic strip.

Last night I started reading the third volume of The Complete Peanuts, covering the years 1955-56. In case you're not aware of this, Fantagraphics Books has begun an incredible undertaking by collecting the entire run of Charles M. Schulz's classic Peanuts. They plan on producing two books a year with each book reprinting an entire two years of the strip. I highly recommend these books and if you'd like to order one, check it out here.

Most of the strips from the first two volumes have never been reprinted, and includes the first and only time that adults were ever seen in the strip (those strips are in volume two).

No new characters are introduced in Volume 3, but we do see the last of a very little seen character, the loud mouth Charlotte Braun. (who looked just like Charlie Brown but without the jagged sweater and with curly hair).

What I find so great about these 50 year old strips are how brutally honest the characters are. Check out these first tier panels from an early 1955 Sunday strip:

Hopefully Fantagraphics will fulfill this commitment and complete the entire Peanuts run. In the past they've begun other comic strip reprint collections but haven't finished them. In any event, if you're a Peanuts fan or are just looking for some good summer reading you can't go wrong with The Complete Peanuts.

Thursday's Comic Feature: FRESH PRETZELS! Part Eight

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for another visit to Fishtown, Pennsylvania with Jeff Kilpatrick's weekly dose of Fresh Pretzels! (click on the link to see this week's strip).
If you missed the first six parts, you can start from the begining here.

Happy Birthday! (6/23/05)

She chooses some excellent films to work in, like Mississippi Burning and Lone Star and thanks to husband Joel Coen, she's had some roles in great films like Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing and of course Fargo.

Let's give a Darkman Birthday greeting to .....

"You Betcha", she's 48 today.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Today's Movie/TV Review: BATMAN BEGINS

In the last twenty years you can't find two worse movies than Batman Forever and the biggest dog of them all, Batman and Robin.
While both movie and comic fans were often split over Tim Burton's two Batman films, it was universally acknowledged that Joel Schumacher not only killed the Batman film franchise in 1997 but also put a hurting on comic book movie adaptations in general.

Thanks in part to both the Spider-Man and X-Men films, moviemakers learned that if you write a strong script, hire a great cast and have a director who respects the original material that not only will the finished product be good, but the people will come and see it - in droves!

I finally got to the theatre last night and saw Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and boy, was it good!

Based (in part) on the excellent 1980's mini-series Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Batman Begins covers the ground between the death of Bruce Wayne's parents and his debut as the caped crusader.

Nolan does a great job covering all the bases, from Bruce's deep rooted fear of bats as a child, to his lost years as a wealthy youth filled with despair looking for some direction and falling in with the criminal element. Along the way he's trained and discovers answers within a dangerous Ninja Cult, lead by it's mysterious leader, Ra's al Ghul.

When he finally returns to Gotham, Bruce creates his new persona, one that will strike fear into the hearts of the criminals that prey upon his city. How he gathers his crime fighting weapons, creates his costume and construct the bat cave are very well done, and smartly written.

Eventually, this new guardian of the people, comes across a nefarious plot that starts with
local mob boss Carmine Falcone, a twisted Doctor (nicknamed "The Scarecrow") and ends in a possible end to the city of Gotham itself.

Not only is this a strong, tight story, but what a great cast! Bale does a nice job both as Wayne and Batman, easily the best actor to ever portray the Dark Night Detective. Also good (though I wish he was in the film more) is Gary Oldman as Jim Gordan. I've always felt that Gordan is almost as important as Batman when it comes to defending Gotham, and it's also great seeing Oldman play a sane character for once.

But easily stealing the film is Michael Caine as Alfred. Every scene, every line and every nuance by Caine is a winner here. Alfred is extremely important to the mythos of Batman and Caine makes this devoted butler his own.

Other nice performances by Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Liam Neeson as Bruce's trainer and Cillian Murphy who (wisely) downplays The Scarecrow more than make up for perhaps the weakest part of the film.

Katie Holmes plays Assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes and everytime she's on the screen, she brings the film to a screeching halt. OK, she's not nearly as bad or annoying as Kim Bassinger in Batman or Nicole Kidman in Batman Forever but that's not saying much. I felt that her character brought nothing to the story or the film, with the exception that someone, somewhere said "We gotta have a romantic interest here!"

That being said, my first thought as I sat and watched the end credits was, "When do we get the sequel!! I want to see more!!!"

And I can't think of a better thing to say about a picture than that.

So let's stand atop the highest building in Gotham and give Batman Begins a well deserved:

This isn't the Fantastic Four, is it???

Here's an image has begun to make the rounds around the web. With the Fantastic Four film debuting July 8th (16 days to go!) information of yet another animated version of the FF is leaking out.

Back in October of last year, Marvel released this news:

Marvel Enterprises announced on Wednesday it has entered into an agreement with France-based animation studio Antefilms Productions, to produce a new animated television series based on The Fantastic Four.

Under the terms of the agreement, Antefilms will commence production immediately on 26, 30-minute 2D/3D animated episodes. The initial episodes are expected to be completed for worldwide distribution in late-2006.

The deal teams Marvel with an animation company with proven success both domestically and internationally. Two of Antefilms' current series -- Code Lyoko and Funky Cops - -are currently broadcast successfully on Cartoon Network and Fox Box, respectively, in the United States.

"Marvel is firmly committed to strongly support its characters in all relevant entertainment arenas throughout the world," Marvel's Avi Arad said. "We are especially excited that The Fantastic Four TV animation will follow the release of our 2005 feature film with 20th Century Fox, and that we are able to work with such a great animation company as Antefilms to make this happen."

Under the terms of the agreement, Antefilms Productions will fund all of the development costs for the series. Antefilms will produce the content while both companies will oversee the overall creative direction. Marvel will control the U.S. television and subsequent DVD distribution rights, while Moonscoop (Antefilms' distribution brand) will handle sales in the rest of the world.

When I saw this "Anime-esque" image of the FF (along with an emaciated Doctor Doom an maniacal Mole Man) my first reaction was @!$#!#$!$#!#!!!!! -
If the stories are good (and as long as Herbie the robot isn't around) then maybe it'll be worth checking out.

Why oh why can't Marvel get Paul Dini and Bruce Timm to handle their characters???
Just think how good their characters would look if they could grab the creative team from the animated Justice League Unlimited to transfer them to the screen!


Happy Birthday! (6/22/05)

Arguably one of the best Directors, with some of the greatest films of all time! The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Stalag 17, One, Two, Three, Sunset Blvd. and The Seven Year Itch to name but a few.

A " Well, nobody's perfect" Happy Birthday to.....

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." would have been 99 today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Longest Day of the Year

No, it's not that it feels like the longest day of the year because all I've heard in the news today is about that stupid Runaway Bride interview tonight, no, it's the actual Longest Day on the calendar year.

This morning in Wiltshire, England, hundreds of people went to stonehenge to watch the sunrise and welcome the beginning of summer. During this event, the sun shines on one famous stone - the Hell stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment of the year.

Today, June 21st, is also National Aboriginal Day. It's a day of celebration for the cultures of Inuit and Metis peoples.

So, in honor of this day, why not take a Druid or an Inuit to lunch.

Me, I'm finally going to see Batman Begins tonight.

It's not necessarily a way to celebrate the day, but what better way to take advantage of the extra daylight, then by sitting in a darkened theatre.

Happy Birthday! (6/21/05)

You couldn't flip past a sit-com or drama in the late 60's and early 70's without seeing this guy. He'd pop up in Bewitched, The Odd Couple, Love American Style, The Bob Newhart Show and Night Gallery, to name but a few.
While most will remember him as Dr. Bricker on The Love Boat, for me he'll always be the evil leader of KAOS on Get Smart.

A "We don't wish Happy Birthday's here" to .....

Konrad Siegfried is 72 today.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Today's Retro-review is: VAMPIRE TALES #1

Finally, with this debut issue, we have the fourth and final title from Marvel's early 70's B&W Monster Magazines. Joining Dracula Lives!, Monsters Unleashed! and Tales of the Zombie is Vampire Tales.

Vampire Tales #1 contained five stories (three originals and two reprints) and two text pieces. The cover (see above) is a painting by Esteban Maroto. Esteban was a regular penciler on most all of Warren's '70's horror magazines at the time (Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella) so it's not too surprising to see his work surface here. The cover itself I found to be less than exciting for a first issue. It's well done, a depiction from the inside story "Vampyre", but it's cropped image and less than dynamic layout doesn't help it leap off the magazine rack.

According to the editorial inside, this title would concentrate on tales and stories dealing with the undead that weren't named Dracula, Who better than to headline this first issue than Marvel's resident hollow boned blood sucker, Morbius!

The first story, a twelve page original by Steve Gerber and Pablo Marcos, is simply titled "Morbius". I've always like the character of Michael Morbius, the dying scientist who inadvertently becomes a blood sucking killing machine, but I was less than thrilled with this story. Morbius is in Los Angeles and searching for his lost love Martine. On the way he encounters a sexy clad cult member, an equally sexy clad mystic and a demon. The "plot" is nothing more of a way to reintroduce Morbius, perhaps to an audience who missed his appearance in the color comics and to give Marcos a chance to draw some sexy women (not that there's anything wrong with that...) At the end there's a blurb announcing that Morbius will return next issue. Good, but hopefully in a more fleshed out tale than this one.

Next up is a reprint, "To Kill A Werewolf" (wait a minute, what the hell is a werewolf story doing in a Vampire magazine????). It's five pages long, which is perhaps three more pages than needed. Really, the "shocking ending" is pretty apparent by the second panel! Kenneth Long is a brat who teased dogs as a child and grows into an equally bigger jerk as an adult, still teasing dogs. Hmmmm, I wonder how this will end? The only saving grace is the artwork by Bill Everett. It's a shame that Everett, the creator of Namor the Sub-Mariner, never got more exposure. His pencils have a beautiful fluid feel here and his inks are clean and crisp.

Following this is 3 page article by Chris Claremont, "The Vampire His Kith and Kin". It's Part One of an analysis of the book (of the same name) by Montague Summers. I've never read the book and as this is just the first of five parts, it's hard to really judge the validity of this piece. Perhaps by issue five.....

Now, here we have the cover feature, "The Vampyre!", adapted by Ron Goulart, Roy Thomas and Winslow Mortimer. "The Vampyre!" has the distinction of being the first ever written vampire story. History tells us that long ago on that immortal evening when Mary Shelley told a group of friends her tale of Doctor Frankenstein and the monster he created, that John Polidori (traveling companion of famed English poet Lord Byron) was also in attendance and told the crowd a story featuring Lord Ruthven called "The Vampyre".

This thirteen page adaption follows the exploits of a 19th century nobleman, Master Aubrey and his strange and scandalous friend Lord Ruthven. Aubrey travels to Greece and falls for the young and innocent Innkeeper's daughter, Ianthe. Ianthe shows him the local temples and tells him of the mysterious legends that haunt the old relics. That a Living Vampyre dwells among the ruins and feeds upon the lifeblood of young women.

I think we can all see where this is going. The end is a nice little twist though, and not as predictable as first thought. Mortimer's artwork fits the gothic feel to the story. He draws noblemen and innocent young women very well, but that being said, it looks very dated and not as powerful as it could be.

It's reprint time again and here's a five pager titled "Satan Can Wait!". It's a story that's as old as the hills, man meets mysterious stranger in a bar, said stranger offers him untold wealth if he sells him his immortal soul, and the man making jest of the whole situation, does so. There's a pleasant little twist in the end and the artwork by Paul Reinman is very nice, he's an obvious pro.

Next up is a very funny four page text piece by Mark Evanier (yes, THAT Mark Evanier) called "The Worst (No Kiddin'!) Vampire Films Ever Made!". It's like the title implies, a listing of the worst vampire films ever made. From "Invasion of the Vampires" to "Guess What Happened to Dracula" thru "Atom-Age Vampire" and of course "Plan Nine from Outer Space", my only complaint with this feature is that it's too short. I wanted more, especially pictures from all these blood sucking dogs!

To end this first issue is an eight page tale written by Gardner Fox, "Revenge of the Unliving!". An ancient house has been torn down, uncovering a long buried coffin and thus freeing the vampire within. This vampire though is an alluring woman, a woman seeking revenge on the man who imprisoned her those many years ago. The conclusion here is well done, though the weapon of death, a TV antennae, really dates this story.

What helps set the tone here is the very graphic artwork by artist Bernet. He uses stark blacks and white and shies away from detailed pen work, giving an interesting atmospheric look that elevates what could be a standard tale.

Well, that's it. The blurb on the cover says Mind Boggling First Issue! and while I can't say that my mind was actually boggled, it wasn't bored. Overstreet lists a Near Mint copy ofVampire Tales #1 at $50. It's an average effort, for a first issue, though one hopes that following issues will get better.

Stop by next Monday for a return to the swamps of New Orleans, and everyone's favorite zombie, Simon Garth, in Tales of the Zombie #2.

Happy Birthday! (6/20/05)

He's had a full and various career appearing in fine films like North by Northwest, The Greatest Story Ever Told and Crimes and Misdemeanors as well as excellent TV roles in Twilight Zone, Mission Impossible and Space 1999.
But it was his scene stealing and award winning depiction as Bela Lugosi in (the great)
film Ed Wood that he'll forever be remembered for.

A (it's your day so we'll forgive you for B.A.P.S.) Happy Birthday to ....

Rolin Hand is 74 today.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Birthday! (6/19/05)

One generation may know him as the funny sidekick to Gene Autry in numerous westerns, while others are just aware of his voice in animation like The Fox and the Hound and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but for me he'll always be one of the funniest supporting characters from that classic comedy, Green Acres.

Here's a "Gen-U-Wine" Happy Birthday to ...

Eustace Charleton Haney would have been 90 today.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Saturday Morning Cartoons- WACKY RACES!

Many moons ago... (actually many, MANY moons ago) the three major networks (CBS, ABC & NBC) would devote a four to five hour block every Saturday morning to cartoons. Nothing but cartoons.

Ahhh, those were the good old days.

But like "good old days" sometimes our memories play tricks on us. We tend to remember things in our childhood as great only to revisit them as an adult and wonder, "what the hell were we thinking!!??" Since it was a Saturday morning today I decided to treat myself to watching several episodes from a DVD collection I recently got, the Complete Series of Wacky Races.

In 1968 CBS debuted a half hour cartoon that followed the madcap antics of 11 unique auto racers that raced all across the country from Hackensack to Baja in Cannonball Run-esque competitions. Among the 11 contestants were a lumber jack, a vampire, a pair of cavemen, a WW1 flying ace, seven tiny mobsters, an army sergeant, an inventor, a hillbilly, a beaver, a bear, a gentleman racer, a southern belle and a leering villain with his sidekick dog.

So, what was my reaction of watching this cartoon that I first saw as an 7 year old kid?
It still holds up!

First, the logo. I like how the Wacky Races logo has the type font and colors that was often used in the late 60's early 70's, and gives to me a nostalgic feel.

Next, the episodes themselves. What struck me right off the bat was, there was no theme song. The show began with descriptions of each racer by the narrator (and yes, each race had a narrator much like the Power Puff Girls of today) and would go right into the first episode. The half hour show was usually cut into two 15 minute races with "wacky" titles that usually gave you the location of each race, like "Free Wheeling to Wheeling" , "Whizzin' to Washington" and "Mish Mash Missouri Dash".

While the basic premise was pretty routine, the racers would vie for the lead while bad guy (and my personal favorite character of the bunch) Dick Dastardly attempted to prevent their progress with Coyote (from the Road Runner cartoons) style traps that of course, usually backfired on him and his snickering canine sidekick, Muttley).

BUT- as routine as it may sound these cartoons hold up to this "adult". Why? The characters. Each driver (or drivers as some had more than one) had unique characterizations and abilities that lent themselves to neat and fun stories. I was also happily surprised to see that Dastardly wasn't the only one to try to get the upper hand. The other racers would often take the opportunity (though not as obvious as DD) to get the edge over their fellow racers.

I only watched about half of the complete 34 episodes today, I'll save the rest for next Saturday morning, but in case you were interested here's the breakdown of all the winning cars and their driver, with their First, Second and Third place finishes:

The Compact Pussycat (Penelope Pttstop) - 4 firsts, 2 seconds, 5 thirds
The Bullit Proof Bomb (The Ant Hill Mob) - 4 firsts, 5 seconds, 2 thirds
The Turbo Terrific (Peter Perfect) - 4 firsts, 2 seconds, 2 thirds
The Arkansas Chugabug (Luke & Blubber Bear) - 4 firsts, 1 second, 4 thirds
The Creepy Coupe (Gruesome Twosome) - 3 firsts, 3 seconds, 6 thirds
The Buzz Wagon (Rufus Ruffcut & Sawtooth) - 3 firsts, 6 seconds, 4 thirds
The Boulder Mobile (The Slagg Brothers) - 3 firsts, 8 seconds, 3 thirds
The Convert-a-car (Prof. Pat Pending) - 3 firsts, 2 seconds, 5 thirds
The Crimson Haybailer (The Red Max) - 3 firsts, 4 seconds, 3 thirds
The Army Surplus Special (Pvt. Meekley & Sgt. Blast) - 3 firsts, 1 second, 0 thirds
and finally,
The Mean Machine (Dick Dastardly & Muttley) - 0 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Proving that cheating never wins. Well, at least never wins in old Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

Happy Birthday! (6/18/05)

She could have easily just rode on the coat tails as the daughter of her famous mother but with choices in films like Death Becomes Her, Immortal Beloved and not one, but TWO David Lynch films ( Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart) she's earned my respect.

So here's a model Happy Birthday to.....

Ingrid Bergman's daughter is 53 today.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mmmmmm..... brains....

To finish out this candy theme (and don't forget, June is National Candy Month) here's a treat from Belgium.

Giant Gummi Brains!
Sold in 3kg bags each at a diameter of about 1.5.

Gummi Brains = Smart Food!

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Him.

Or he may melt.

Since I just got back from the Candy Expo, what better story to end the week than this from England:

Madame Tussauds, the famous Wax Museum in London has constructed a life-size statue of Elton John. The pop star has been made out of 227lb of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

It was made to Elton’s measurements, taking more than 1,000 hours to create.

Happy Birthday! (6/17/05)

From Ascending and Descending, Relativity and Sky & Water his drawings have confused, befuddled and mesmerized people for years.

A wacked out perspective Happy Birthday to .....

Maurits Cornelis Escher would have been 107 today.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tasty Candy!

Got back from Chicago at midnight last night after a pretty packed day, which began with meetings over breakfast at 7 AM and ended with a lot of hours (and a lot of walking) through the giant show.
Every Candy & Gum company are represented at the Candy Expo from the big boys like Hershey and Wrigley to small, obscure (and mostly foreign) representatives.

It was a bit disappointing looking for anything new or innovative. Seems like a lot of the manufacturers are playing it safe or just making small modifications on proven winners. Last year my favorite find was the World's Largest Gummi Bug, this year, though, the winner would have to be these:

Taking the old stringed candy necklace idea, in their line besides the pictured Candy G-String they had the Candy Bra for women and for men.... the Candy Pose Pouch (and I'm glad I forgot to take a picture of that.)

We try to see as many as the booths as possible. For my job, I wanted to see as many different logos and packaging that's out there. Well, that and to check out as many models as possible. Yowza! Some of the larger companies like Hershey, looks like they recruited directly from FHM magazine! When a really hot looking woman wearing a tight Hershey's T-shirt and jeans walks up and offers you a free Peanut Butter Cup, well, how can you say no?

At the end of our day, before we headed back to the airport, I left the main floor for the downstairs mezzanine. Each year every exhibitor (or buyer) gets to go below to the Candy Room. There, given an official candy bag, we're allowed one (and only one) run through to fill it up with whatever you want. I'm amazed at what goes on here. First, there seems to be more security at this one room then at the entire show. They're constantly shouting out that you can't bring any other bags in the room, that you can only go through once and that your bag will be measured at the end. You can fill it to the top, but not over the top!

Inside the room are large bins filled with small bags, boxes, and individually wrapped pieces. Considering that the bulk of this are just extra crap from the Candy Companies, by the reactions of the ravenous crowd, you'd think they were giving away gold! I swear, it's nuts! People pushing others aside, trying to cram as much into their little bags as possible.
I saw one old guy cramming Jelly Beans and Red Hots into his pockets, besides his bag.
It was insane!

Personally I wasn't too impressed with the variety of candies & gum, a lot of stuff that I wasn't too interested in. So I crammed my bag mostly with a ton of M&M's and M&M's with Peanuts packs.

I'm back here at work from another year at the Candy Expo. Overall it was well worth going to, got a lot out of it and looks like some interesting projects on the horizon. (and when I can, I'll post pictures of some of these as I finish them.)