Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cereal adventures

Lou Scheimer: Creating The Filmation Generation

I've always been a huge fan of Filmation animation. Not always the best animation, but always the best cartoons! From Tarzan and Flash Gordon series to Star Trek, and Blackstar as you might be able to tell from the near perfect condition Warlock action figure above. Filmation wasn't always known for the best animation, often reusing poses and scenes so much you couldn't count on one hand the number of times you'd see the same shot of Tarzan swing by in one episode, but they more than made up for it with the most dramatic poses and compositions, bold, heroic voices and fast-paced, exciting music, as far as I'm concerned they made for some of the most fun cartoons ever. They made Aquaman exciting and fun! Something Hanna-Barbera were unable to do years later in 9 whole seasons of the Superfriends. It used to drive me crazy as a kid watching the Superfriends dorky versions of the JLA after discovering the Filmation versions of DC superheroes, along with the King of the Seven Seas there was Superman, Batman, The Atom, Green Lantern and Hawkman, in simple fast paced adventures filled your head with heroic voice characterization and awesome music, the best were the all too few JLA team-ups and the mis-colored Kid Flash in the Teen Titans cartoons.

I'm really looking forward to reading this new book from TwoMorrows publishing, on sale Wednesday, November 7.

From the publisher, "Lou Scheimer was the co-founder of Filmation Studios, which for over 25 years provided animated excitement for TV and film. Always at the forefront, Scheimer’s company created the first DC cartoons with Superman, Batman, and Aquaman, ruled the song charts with The Archies, kept Trekkie hope alive with the Emmy-winning Star Trek: The Animated Series, taught morals with Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and swung into high adventure with Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro.  Forays into live-action included Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis, plus ground-breaking special effects work on Jason of Star Command and others. And in the 1980s, Filmation single-handedly caused the syndication explosion with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and its successors. Now, with best-selling co-author Andy Mangels, Lou Scheimer tells the entire story, including how his father decked Adolf Hitler, memories of the comic books of the Golden Age, schooling with Andy Warhol, and what it meant to lead the last all-American animation company through nearly thirty years of innovation and fun! Profusely illustrated with photos, model sheets, storyboards, presentation art, looks at rare and unproduced series, and more — plus hundreds of tales about Filmation’s past, and rare Filmation-related art by Bruce Timm, Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Phil Jimenez, Frank Cho, Gene Ha, and Mike McKone — this book shows the Filmation Generation the story behind the stories!" 

Order at your local comic book shop, or click here to get it directly from TwoMorrows at 15% off and get the free Digital Edition. 

Click here to download a FREE PDF PREVIEW 

And start a discussion about your favorite Filmation cartoons on the League's message boards!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marcus Swayze

Legendary Golden Age comic book artist Marcus Swayze died Sunday. He was 99.

Marc Swayze produced the very first character sketches of Mary Marvel. He is primarily known for drawing Captain Marvel stories and covers for Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. He also wrote and drew The Phantom Eagle in Wow Comics. And Fawcett's romance comics after Captain Marvel comics ceased publishing. Later Fawcett sold some of it's books to Charlton, and Swayze worked there for a short time until he retired.

I was more familiar with Marc from his great "We Didn't Know It Was the Golden Age!" column that appeared in Alter Ego magazine., (one of the many fine publications from TwoMorrows publishing). In the column, Marc would discuss everything from the Golden age of comics to the relationship between fine and commercial artists. In addition to reminiscences, sometimes they would reprint older material. In the Alter Ego issue #110, they reprinted the first Phantom Eagle story by Marc, and in Issue 104 they reprinted an interview with Marc primarily about Phantom Eagle, (complete with character concept sketches) conducted by John Pierce from 1993, Marc also a talented musician, mentions that while in the US Army during WWII, he had been chosen to accompany Bing Crosby.

Please join in the discussion, right here on the League Message Boards...

(The above art and characters are copyright their respective copyright holders, unless I'm mistaken, the column logo and Captain Marvel art is copyright Marc Swayze, the characters Captain Marvel, Shazam and Mary Marvel are Copyright DC Comics? Don't go by me if you need confirmation find additional sources).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perchance to Dream

Google frequently uses unique and fun logos to commemorate special events. Today's Google logo is the wonderfully imaginative, animated logo titled "Little Nemo in Google-Land," a wonderful tribute to Winsor McCay, on what would have been his 107th birthday. It's really well done. I've watched it more times than I can count already.

McCay's "Little Nemo in Slumberland," was quite possibly the most innovative comic strip ever published, and is simply stunning. Beyond anything being done today. The strip was originally published around 1905 to 1914, but Winsor McCay's work has inspired artists and animators for generations. Google's tribute today is a wonderful and fun, interactive reminder, go play!

Join in the discussion! Right here on the League Message Boards...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Channeling history

Alex Ness in my words, is one of the greatest poets of our time. Words he would surely bristle at.

Alex Ness in his own words,  "I am a poet.  I know that to some people that is a pretentious title but I've written poetry since my earliest of memories.   I've spent a life filling my mind with ideas about the world, about life, understanding what has gone on in the past and what beckons for the future."

How long have you been a poet?

"Poetry has spoken to me my entire life and I am very happy to write it, wherever I am, whatever inspires it.  I've lived mostly in the state of Minnesota, with stops in Wisconsin, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, and Arizona.   I love comics, cats, books, art, music, and my family, of course.   I spend most of my life in front of a computer keyboard writing on the many websites I write for and upon. "

Do you have any formal training? Did you go to poet school?

"I have degrees from two universities in history and with areas of political science, but my education was never about doing something to get a job, it made me who I am. As a writer of many things, but mostly poetry, my work doesn't get a lot of sales. Whether it is good or not, you can feel free to decide but it is an endeavor I am pursuing."

Your newest book, Autumn Painted Red, an artistic examination of Jack The Ripper. This is a darker work for you. Beyond the darkness of the book's subject, do you have a personal connection to autumn yourself?

"My favorite month is October, not because it is my birthday month but because in Minnesota there is no finer month.   While cool outside, it is not cold, and the trees, sunsets and air are fabulous. " 

Much of your work deals with ancient myth and legends.
Do you consider yourself a teacher of history in some ways?

"In this modern world, who has time to remember mythic and ancient memories?  I believe that human existence is neither endless nor is modernity the higher form of human existence, so remembering the past connects us to our origins and our history, while the mythic content of our memories lingers on in today's stories and ideas. 

Myth changes, it does not die. Modernity seems to offer freedom from others, at its heart.  Everything that technology and modern society offer are less and less human interactive. Just push a button. 

The ancients lived where nothing more than words, metal implements and ideas were in plentiful supply, along with stories, about blood, swords and shields, and stories of love, courage, anger, betrayal and hope. My work is meant to honor that antiquity, and to embrace that which is eternal in us all." 

Finish this sentence, "I'm a poet AND..."

"I am a poet with a wife and son, who misses his Russian Blue cat Mischa, and I look forward to writing more poetry. Life is good." 

Alex Ness is a poet with nearly a dozen books published to date. You can sample his poetry at his blog  ALEX NESS POETRY

You can purchase his newest book, Autumn Painted Red, directly from CREATESPACE

Or you can help support Alex and his work buy buying books directly from the author, he has some of his out-of-print books for sale as well as other books of interest...


Friday, October 5, 2012

Martian exposure

A quick follow up to our review of A Princess of Mars: A Graphic Novel, the beautifully crafted adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's novel, by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard. 

Ian Culbard responded on twitter, "Thank you for the kind words - glad you enjoyed it."

He went on to mention the comments regarding his treatment of nudity in the adaptation, "Also, glad you observed the attention to nudity in the book. I pitched it to the publisher as national geographic rather than playboy."

(Join our discussion on the League boards).


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life on Mars

I'm a huge Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, so despite the fact  I hadn't heard of this new adaptation of A Princess of Mars, until I ran across it in my local comic shop, I was very excited to read it. And I wasn't disappointed.  Adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard, and is a pretty straight forward, loyal adaptation, done with deceptive care.

Ian Culbard is the artist on The New Deadwardians, for Vertigo. Imagine vampires and zombies on Downton Abbey. I'm already looking forward to the trade collection coming out soon.

I picked it up in the store because I'm a sucker for anything ERB, to be sure but the art was gorgeous, it had a sort of Mike Allred quality, simple, clean lines, beautifully crafted. The art itself pulls off another neat trick as well. Nudity is a big part of the original novels, and most comic adaptations as well as the recent film adaptation, choose to ignore this, if only to avoid controversy. Especially for an action adventure story meant for young adults. But this adaptation stays very true to the novels including the nudity in the elegant simplicity of the art, not conveniently cropped, no, it's just simply not the slightest bit gratuitous. And the character designs, specifically the green Martians, despite the simplicity of the art, hide a complexity and sophistication that becomes more obvious on reading. The Martian characters are each unique and distinct while still maintaining a consistent racial, and physical make-up. In fact all the creatures of Barsoom are some of the more interestingly designed versions than in any comic adaptation before. Most of which have been reprinted very recently.

A Princess of Mars: A Graphic Novel, Adapted by Ian Edginton and illustrated by INJ Culbard.  A great, thoughtful adaptation, of an often imitated classic, and a fun read for any genre fans but a must have for any Burrough's fan.

(Join our discussion on the League boards).

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Boy Wonder rises?

As a follow-up to our review of the book, Bill Finger, The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, we wanted to share some of the feedback we got from the author Marc Tyler Nobleman.

mtnobleman: Thanks for covering my book. I appreciate your input. We all know you can't judge a book by its cover. I often say you can't judge it by its thickness, either.

The book is the result of five years of research and contains significant info that has never before been published elsewhere, starting with a fact in the very first sentence. The exhaustive six-page author's note also contains considerable new details, including the biggest bombshell of the book. A month before the book's release, I blogged a list specifying the discoveries I made: Also, for many readers, the entire story is new.

Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers, and it's the first book in ANY format on Bill Finger. The reason I wrote it for a wider audience is so kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever).

I agree that Finger deserves a longer treatment as well, but I am happy to report that many have responded with heartfelt and enthusiastic endorsement for my approach, including Batman film producer Michael Uslan, NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, the WASHINGTON POST, and many fans who attended my two Bill Finger talks at Comic-Con.

LXNG: Thanks for your response, I greatly respect and appreciate it as well as the book itself. And for you to take the time to register as a member here to post a response to a review that was largely positive, on a site with only ten members, is even more greatly appreciated. I hope you continue to contribute to our site, that would be amazing!

As I said above my only real criticism was the format and maybe the substance. I think the book may have benefited from a little more context. But I'm a little unclear about your some things. You say, "Yes, this is a picture book, but for older readers," and then go on to say you wrote it so, "kids would growing up knowing that "Batman created by Bob Kane" is not the truth rather than learning it as adults (if ever)."

That seems a bit contradictory to me.

If the format was chosen specifically for kids then I might understand, but doing, "a picture book, but for older readers," would seem to be appropriate to me anyway, only if the subject himself was involved in "picture books." Since it was comic books, why not layout the story like a comic? Or even better like a Dick Sprang Batman comic? Maybe that's just me, obviously NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, FORBES, MTV, and the WASHINGTON POST, disagree. My brain works in weird ways. Either way, I very much enjoyed the book and hope it continues to do well!

And everybody check out Marc's blog, (now in) the "League Approved" Blog List!!!

mtnobleman: Thanks Joe! Every reader counts.

To the general public, the perception of the term "picture book" is often that the format is aimed primarily at kids who can't read yet (so typically ages 5 or 6 and younger). But within the publishing industry, that's not the reality. Some authors, including me, stretch the boundaries of the format (to nod to the Plastic Man book you mention). We believe that it's not the length but rather the content and prose. Sometimes a picture book is the FIRST type of book to address a topic, as with my Finger book. There are actually middle and even high schools that use picture books in the classroom. There are also, of course, a wealth of picture books about equally sophisticated topics from Anne Frank to Martin Luther King. I sometimes blog about picture books for older readers:

You can join in the discussion too! Right here on the League Message Boards