Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Funnies: An Archie Christmas Classic

No matter what the era, you can always depend on the folks at Archie Comics to produce some fun Christmas-themed comics. Here's an Al Hartley classic from Laugh #275 (November, 1973), "Tree-Mendous". See if this one doesn't get you in the holiday mood, Groove-ophiles!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Science Fiction Theater Presents: Farewell to the Master

In a couple of weeks, there'll be millions of us flocking to the local theater to watch Keanu Reeves star in the remake of 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still. Chances are, that film will bear even less resemblance to the the Harry Bates short story, "Farewell to the Master" (published in the October, 1940, issue of Astounding) than the original film.

In 1973, Roy Thomas read the original Bates short story, located the author to get permission to adapt the story into comicbook form, then teamed with penciller Ross Andru and inker Wayne Howard to create a more faithful adaptation of "Farewell to the Master" for Worlds Unknown #3 (June, 1973). Here's the behind-the-scenes skinny from writer/editor Thomas, himself:
Did Thomas and company accomplish their lofty goal of doing the story right? It's up to you to decide, Groove-ophile!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Famous First Fridays: Captain Action

What's happening, Groove-ophiles? Stuffed today, aren't ya? Well, there's no time to recuperate, it's Black Friday--what are you doing sitting at the computer when you're s'posed to be out shopping for your Christmas gifts? Ya say you don't know what to look for? Well, since Ol' Groove's heart is as big as his head is soft, I thought I'd help you out by reminding you of a few great Christmas toys of the past--for inspiration. Toys that were forever enshrined in the ink and pulp museum we call comicbooks!

Today, we're looking back at the immortal Captain Action. Created for Ideal Toys by Stan Weston (who also created or helped create G.I. Joe and the Mouse Trap board game) in 1966, the Captain Action toy was a huge hit. Not only was the good Captain a cool-looking hero in his own right, but he could transform into other superheroes (as long as you bought the other superheroes' costumes for him to change into) like Superman, Batman, Captain America, Sgt. Fury, the Phantom, the Lone Ranger, and many others. In 1967, Cap got a side-kick, Action Boy (and his pet leopard, Khem), who could transform into kid superheroes like Robin, Aqualad, and even Superboy. Dig the original TV ad!

Captain Action appeared in a few comicbook-style ads, usually drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. They were lots of fun (you see 'em sprinkled around in this article, don't ya? Well read 'em, Seymour!), and led to an inevitable tie-in...

In 1968, Ideal and DC Comics teamed up to produce a Captain Action comicbook. Edited by Mort Weisenger, written by teen-aged Jim Shooter, and drawn by Wally Wood, the first issue was released in June of '68. The cover (by Irv Novick) depicted the Captain shoving Superman, himself, out of the way so that he and Action Boy could go into action. I don't know if DC was trying to anger its fans, or just show that they felt that Captain Action was going to be the next big thing.

Now, for the comic, DC had to make some changes. They had the rights to Captain Action and Action Boy, but they didn't have the rights to the King Features and other heroes the toy version of C.A. could transform into. And they sure as heck didn't want to have Capt transforming into their rival Marvel's heroes. So Weisenger and company tossed the transforming into other heroes idea and had our hero find the "coins of the gods", each of which gave him the power of a different god. Same basic concept (sans the transformation part), litigation-free.

The mag lasted a total of five issues (ending in March, 1969), so it wasn't quite the hit DC and Ideal had counted on. It was a very good comic, though. The grandly groovy Gil Kane took over the pencilling chores with issue #2, then took over the scripting with ish #3 (the same issue Julius Schwartz took over as editor). Wally Wood stayed on as inker, finishing every issue except #4.

Ya wanna take a look at that first ish, now? Okay! Here's the "Origin of Captain Action!" by Shooter and Wood!

Be on the lookout for more toys-turned-comics over the next few weeks! Pax!


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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!