Sunday, November 7, 2010

New video: Interview with Bob Hall!

Bob Hall is an artist who worked for Marvel Comics for many years. He had the good fortune to draw a few issues of the Avengers when Monica Rambeau was Captain Marvel. I met him at the Big Apple Comic Con last month, and he was gracious enough to share a few words about his experience, as well as a few thoughts about a couple of other Captain Marvels. It is quite a lovely interview.



So it turns out that he is a big fan of the Big Red Cheese!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New CMC Ashcan!

As I am continuing to seek sponsors for this project, I have produced a second ashcan issue of Captain Marvel Culture. The first issue covered the period from the dawn of human art to Marvel's first Captain Marvel. This second issue will cover the introduction of Rick Jones up to "Power of Shazam."

These ashcans editions will also contain other, non-Captain Marvel-related writings and art by Yours Truly, as well as information for potential advertisers. your purchase of these editions will help finance the project.

I am on schedule right now to have these two editions available at the Big Apple Comic Con happening this weekend, Oct 1-3, at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in NYC. I will also have a beautiful and talented actress portraying the golden age Mary Marvel, who will be competing in the costume contest in the Affinia Hotel Ballroom at the end of the day on Saturday.

The convention itself will be an awesome affair, with comics creators liek Joe Simon, Carmine Infantino, Jerry Robinson, Mike Grell, Mark Millar, Arthur Suydam, Irwin Hasen, Billy Tucci, stc, and celebrities sich as Lee Majors, Mary McDonnell, Adam West, Burt Ward, Claudia Christian, Erin Gray, Walter Koenig, and more.

You can find out more about it at http://www.bigapplecon.com

So if you can get to NYC this weekend, don't miss it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dang! Missed it!

The Anthology film Archives showed the first episode of the "Adventures of Captain Marvel" serial back on July 22 along with the first episodes of "The Phantom Creeps," "Darkest Africa" and "Undersea Kingdom."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Captain Marvel to appear on "Young Justice"

As reported in TV Guide and Spinoff Online, The Shazam/Billy Batson Captain Marvel will have a recurring role in the new animated series "Young Justice" on Cartoon Network.

Rob Lowe will be doing the voice of the Big Red Cheese. He should do well. He is a skilled actor, and his voice still has the qualities of a man half his age.

|Though the TV Guide article says that his role will be "important" and "recurring," it is unclear if this character will be an official part of the team of young superheroes, or have some other relationship with them. TV Guide says "Because he's really a kid, Captain Marvel will bond more easily with the younger heroes." Does that mean that his secret identity won't be so much of a secret?

Interestingly, TV Guide refers to the World's Mightiest Mortal twice as "aka Shazam" once and once simply as "Shazam." This is probably due to the trademark violation-avoidance technique by DC Comics of using the magic word/name of the old wizard as a replacement for the name of the character, which we all know has been trademarked by Marvel Comics.

They do explain the acronym in the article, but not that it is the magic word by which Billy Batson transforms.

In any event, it is good to see the original Captain Marvel get some face time, especially since he doesn't exist in the main DC universe, and rumors are spreading of the cancellation of the "Billy Batson" comic.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Return of Marvelman, part 2


Hoo boy! This press release is a brilliant example of marketing over any other consideration.

Here it is in its entirety:

"Marvel is proud to announce the return of Marvelman to shelves everywhere with the release of MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1 in June! Who is the mysterious Marvelman? And just why is he one of the most enduring super heroes of all time? The answers arrive in this commemorative one-shot featuring interviews with creator Mick Anglo, superstar Neil Gaiman and more who contributed to this character's history over the years! Plus, get all-new pinups of key Marvelman characters by superstar artists Mike Perkins, Doug Braithwaite, Miguel Angel Sepulveda, Jae Lee, Khoi Pham and Ben Oliver! This landmark issue features two covers--one with the timeless art of Mick Anglo and another with the now-iconic rendition of Marvelman by Marvel Editor-In-Chief--and superstar artist--Joe Quesada!

"Then, in July, thrill to the debut of MARVELMAN FAMILY'S FINEST #1, a new ongoing series reprinting Marvelman's greatest adventures for the first time in the US! Plus, no comics fan can miss MARVELMAN CLASSIC VOL.1 PREMIERE HC, reprinting Marvelman's earliest adventures in chronological order!

"Now's your chance to learn just why Marvelman is one of the most important characters in comic book history-it all begins in MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1, this June!"

They claim that Marvelman is "one of the most enduring super heroes of all time" and "one of the most important characters in comic book history," and that Mick Anglo's art is "Timeless" and Joe Quesada's rendition is "now-iconic." What hyperbole! The original Marvelman lasted from 1954 to 1963, and then again from 1982 to 1984, and then again from 1985 to 1994. That's a total of 21 years, including the several years of reprints in the 1960's and the mid-1980's. Just about every member of the original Justice League of America and every Marvel Comics character from 1962 - 1965 has "endured" more, having been constantly in print, either in their own comic, as part of a team, or as a backup story since then. Mik Anglo's art was a decent imitation of C.C. Beck's style, but as such, is quite dated nbow. And to call one's publisher's less-than-a year-old drawing of a character "now-iconic" smacks of self-aggrandizement.

And the big kicker is this: I fit weren't for Alan More's updating and re-interpretation of the character in 1982, and especially if it were not for those estories being reprinted, and then continued by Neil Gaiman, It's likely that Marvelman would have remained a footnote, a trivia question, one of dozens of beloved yet forgotten superheroes from the first three decades of superhero comics. It was those stories that took the concept of "what if superheroes were real people in the real world" to their apocalyptic and utopian conclusion that made him so important. Comics historian Peter Sanderson claims that it was those stories that inspired the trends that led to 1986, the year that changed comics.

And yet, it is the old L. Miller &. Sons stories that are being reprinted. I will admit, I have only seen the ones that wee reprinted by Eclipse in the 1980's, but there was really nothing in them that seemed exceptionally special or brilliant. They were good, fun little stories, decently drawn and enthusiastically presented, but still limited to brief, simple adventures. There were fantastical exploits regarding time travel, space travel, fantastic inventions and deadly crimes, but nothing to compare to, say, the the particularly fine sense of humor of Otto binder, the charm of Mr. Tawny, or the efficiently effective high-stakes drama of "The Plot Against the Universe."

So the Primer looks like it will contain words and art about Marvelman, so that fans will understand who he was and why he is so important, but no actual stories, and the "Classic" will reprint the earliest stories. So if those early stories don't show us anything more exceptional than any other comic stories from that era, particularly any Captain Marvel stories from the preceding decade, then we will just have to take the word of the folks quoted in the "Primer."
Hoo boy! This press release is a brilliant example of marketing over any other consideration.

Here it is in its entirety:

"Marvel is proud to announce the return of Marvelman to shelves everywhere with the release of MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1 in June! Who is the mysterious Marvelman? And just why is he one of the most enduring super heroes of all time? The answers arrive in this commemorative one-shot featuring interviews with creator Mick Anglo, superstar Neil Gaiman and more who contributed to this character's history over the years! Plus, get all-new pinups of key Marvelman characters by superstar artists Mike Perkins, Doug Braithwaite, Miguel Angel Sepulveda, Jae Lee, Khoi Pham and Ben Oliver! This landmark issue features two covers--one with the timeless art of Mick Anglo and another with the now-iconic rendition of Marvelman by Marvel Editor-In-Chief--and superstar artist--Joe Quesada!

"Then, in July, thrill to the debut of MARVELMAN FAMILY'S FINEST #1, a new ongoing series reprinting Marvelman's greatest adventures for the first time in the US! Plus, no comics fan can miss MARVELMAN CLASSIC VOL.1 PREMIERE HC, reprinting Marvelman's earliest adventures in chronological order!

"Now's your chance to learn just why Marvelman is one of the most important characters in comic book history-it all begins in MARVELMAN CLASSIC PRIMER #1, this June!"

They claim that Marvelman is "one of the most enduring super heroes of all time" and "one of the most important characters in comic book history," and that Mick Anglo's art is "Timeless" and Joe Quesada's rendition is "now-iconic." What hyperbole! The original Marvelman lasted from 1954 to 1963, and then again from 1982 to 1984, and then again from 1985 to 1994. That's a total of 21 years, including the

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marvel reprints MarvelMan!



Marvel Comics has just announced that it will be reprinting old Marvelman stories starting in June. Here's the article in Marvel News:

http://marvel.com/news/comicstories.11747.marvelman_returns_in_june

Does this look familiar to anyone? The irony here is rather thick. This sounds a lot like the announcements that were made when DC acquired the original Captain Marvel back in 1972 and started reprints in '73, and every time they produce a reprint volume, like the "Shazam Family Annual" a few years back, and their hardcover "Archive Editions" and softcover "Showcase" editions.

So DC sued Fawcett saying that Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman. Marvelman was a blatant rip-off of Captain Marvel, bu no one sued L. Miller & Sons back in the 1950's. When Marvelman was revived in the 1980's, it was Marvel Comics who sued, but that was only about the trademark "Marvel," which is why in America he was called "Miracleman." DC, despite having sued Fawcett in the 1940's, and owning the original Captain Marvel in the 1980's, did not sue to claim that Marvelman was a rip-off of the original Captain Marvel. But now Marvel is essentially re-creating DC's marketing campaign for the Big Red Cheese, to wit: reprint the old stuff to establish the character, then create new stories.

The comic book market is very different these days from what it was in the 1940's - '50's. Back then it was almost reasonable to think that someone would confuse one superhero for another from such superficial similarities as the fact that they wore a cape, were super-strong and invulnerable, and threw cars around. Today there are so many superheroes that it's hard not to find similarities between them, but the readers are savvy enough know one character from another.

If DC had any claim on Marvelman, they should have (would have?) staked it when Eclipse published their books in the 1980's, so it's not likely they will be suing Marvel for this. But now Marvel will find out if they can attract an audience with their character that has been dead for 20 years, and that had been dead for 17 years before that.

I'll ruminate on that in my next post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Captain Mar-Vell, not your typical superhero

I wanted to post this page from Marvel Comics' Captain Marvel #55, March 1978, written by Scott Edelman, penciled by Pat Broderick, and inked by Bob Wiacek. In this issue, Mar-Vell decides that he must get a job to stay on Earth.



Mar-Vell is unlike most other superheroes. He is an alien with no true alter ego. For much of his time on Earth he would trade atoms with Rick Jones. but this was not a typical "in costume/out of costume" situation, it was two distinct people sharing time between Earth and the Negative Zoe. But by this issue, even that relationship had been severed, and Mar-Vel was a man on his own.

He'd had a brief period with an alter ego in his first dozen or so issues, when he would disguise himself as the mysterious rocket scientist Walter Lawson. But he abandoned that identity when situations forced him to leave Earth. Ironically, in this issue, he was faced with an adversary who had been a victim of one of his battles in his Walter Lawson period, but that's not why I posted this page.

I wanted to point out how, briefly and efficiently, Mar-Vell describes the difficulty an alien on Earth would have getting a job, and how his life would have to be if he were to follow the example of almost every other superhero. He would then become "--a schizoid in a three piece suit--" pointedly illustrated by the absurd picture of Mar-Vell in office attire, including glasses.

But no, Mar-Vell rejects that model, and decides that he will make his way in the world as himself "...or not at all!"

You go, boy! Way to reject the status quo! How many of us live schizoid existences, going to work so as to support the life that we really wish we had? I have been there, I have done that, and every time I have to do it, it kills a piece of me. How many of us want to be remembered as the person ho did the specific day job that we do? Wouldn't it be more satisfying and fulfilling to be remembered for doing what we love? Id if we cannot make our way in the world doing what we love, being who we are, then are we really truly complete beings?

But then ,some people find their completeness in home and family. Work then is a sacrifice they make to support that home and family, and they are heroes, of a sort, or that, and they are remembered for their role in the family.

Just a thought, and perhaps a good topic for debate...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Best Captain Marvel cartoon ever!

"Bataman: The Brave and the Bold" aired a full episode of Captain Marvel, and a very nice person posted it up on Veoh. Here it is:


Watch Batman The Brave and The Bold The Power of Shazam! in Animation  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

A few things about it: First, I liked it a lot. It was fun, exciting, and had lots of good superhero and evil villain action. Physical absurdities were acceptable because of the medium (animated cartoons) and genre (Saturday morning cartoons).

Second, it paid tribute to the history of the character. News reporter "Tom Tyler" was named after the actor who portrayed the hero in the "Adventures of Captain Marvel" serial. One of the bullies in the orphanage was called "C. C.," the initials of the first artist to draw the hero. The subway car that took Billy and Batman to the throne room of Shazam was a perfect copy of the one in Whiz Comics, and the posters on the wall of Billy's room were good copies of old Whiz, Captain Marvel Adventures, and Shazam covers. The "Captain Sivana" thing happened in a a DC Comics Presents Annual written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Gil Kane in which the evil scientist managed to harness the magic of Shazam. The "reverse marvel" uniform appeared in a story from the 1970's "Shazam" comic series. Dr. Sivana's announced plan to shut down all wireless signals harkens back to the "Radio silencer" of the very first Captain Marvel story. The broken locked was the McGuffin of the story that introduced Billy's twin sister (nice to see they went back to the concept of twins, rather than Mary being a younger sister, like in the current DC incarnation). The stuffed tiger that looks like Calvin's Hobbs is an obvious reference to Jerry Ordway's version of Mr. Tawny from "Power of Shazam." Sivana bringing Black Adam to Earth was from the "Shazam: A New Beginning" miniseries by Roy Thomas and Tom Mandrake in the 1980's. Even the origin of Black Adam and the method by which he was defeated was used in Marvel Family #1, the very first appearance of the villain (it was also used in the "Shazam" cartoon series).

I'm not so sure how much I like Sivana Junior and Georgia having English accents, but their characters were very consistent with the classic villains in the comics. Sivana's "ha ha ha" laugh was not quite the "heh heh heh" I expected, but his plots and plans, threatening one catastrophe as a cover for a greater plan, and bringing in a powerful ally only to betray him in the end, in very in keeping with the character.

While there were some implications that Captain Marvel was young at heart, they did not play him like he was a kid in a man;s body, what was good for me. Personally, I like the idea that they are two different people that share memories. If you are the same person when one or the other, why not stay big and powewrful all the time? By beign an actual different person, then you have fodder for more stories, such as incidents where Captain MArvel can get into the kind of trouble that Billy Batson can avoid or get out of (In the Fawcett days, this was played for comedy a few times, mostly involving relationships with women).

In sum, if the long-promised "Shazam" movie ever comes about, this is not a bad template.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Shazam on Smallville?

Did anyone notice how like the Power of Shazam concept tonight's "Smallville" episode was?

There was an orphan boy who learned a magic word that turned him into a superhero.

In this instance, the boy's mind was the same in the hero's body, making it much like a super-powered "Big," which is what the proposed "Shazam" movie has been described as. This hero used his power to do what he thought was right, protecting the weak, etc, but quickly turned into a bully. By the end he learned that with great power comes great responsibility.

I wonder if this is the kind of story that they were considering for the "Shazam" movie?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Monster Society of Evil cancelled AGAIN!

As reported by Cynthia Finnegan on the WorldsMightiestMortals Yahoo group, according to both Diamond Distributors and Amazon.com, the Monster Society of Evil reprint that has been promised from DC has been canceled.

Well, this is disappointing. Speculation runs rampant. Is DC trying t obury the Marvel Family out of some sense of revenge left over from the 1940's? Is it simply that no one at DC has any respect for the Marvel Family? Or perhaps the demons of political correctness raised their ugly heads over the truthfully offensive racial stereotypes (black, African, Japanese, German, Scottish, etc) that appear in the series. Or maybe, just maybe, they want to time the release to coincide with the long-promised and frequently rewritten Shazam movie.

Whatever the reason, fans and scholars will have to continue to hunt down the expensive, hardcover, poorly-bound reprint from the early 1990's, or read unauthorized downloads on line.