MY FAVOURITE FUNNIES
issue No. 19 presents
it’s the craze at the top
Ξ Top of the Pops, Alizée dancing like a French super-hero to her top of the pops hit: J’en ai marre! (March 2003). Compulsively watchable–you cannot look away. This go-go dance was the basis for the night elf female dance in WORLD OF WARCRAFT–the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)–created by Blizzard Entertainment (2004) [go to more alizée video after the jump].
Ξ The True-False Face of Batman, DETECTIVE COMICS No. 363 (May ’67); cover art: Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson; on sale the 30th of March ’67.
it’s the craze a-go-go comics
In the ’60s, when I got into comics, I would stare longingly at the covers of all the funny books in the drugstore each week. You weren’t supposed to open the books and read them, unless you had paid for them. So there I’d be, with a quarter virtually burning a hole in my over-alls, trying to decide which funny book I could possibly get.
I distinctly recall the impression DETECTIVE COMICS 363 made on me with its cover. There was Batman about to reveal his secret to Batgirl as Robin, the Boy Wonder, warned him off such a foolishness–
Batman, don’t! Her life–and yours–won’t be worth a plugged nickel . . .
I didn’t know what a plugged nickel meant, but I knew it was bad and I knew that keeping his identity secret was a full-time occupation for a crimefighter.
I had to have this comic.
The top of the comic had the checkerboard trim that identified all comics from National Periodical Publications (this was the name of the comic company according to the inside indicia)–the proper term for this checkerboard trim, I later learned, is Go-Go Checks–everything back then was go-go. In fact there were three comics on sale that I just had to have–all with that checkerboard trim at the top, which served as a signpost for the comics I most needed to own, visible on any comic book stand. In additon to ‘TEC 363 (‘Tec is what the big kids called that title), there was ACTION COMICS 350 and ADVENTURE COMICS 356.
Whoever made the covers for DC was an advertising genius. The cover for each of these books teased my interest and made them irresistable.
I managed to get all three–and they remain three of my most prized comic reads, nearly fifty years later. The contents inside the funny books lived up to the come on from the covers.
I suspect I talked my sister into buying ADVENTURE, because it featured Dream Girl and this was a character she liked. Plus the cover idea, with the Legionnaires as little kids was just the kind of thing we craved–guaranteed entertainment value for a Saturday afternoon in Spring.
ADVENTURE COMICS No. 356 deserves more space . . . I’ll post at length on the 30th century tales from that mag another time.
it’s the craze for way out mystery
Ξ Batman: The True-False Face of Batman, Elongated Man: Way Out Day in Wishbone City, DETECTIVE COMICS No. 363 (May ’67); stories: Gardner Fox; art: Carmine Infantino & Sid Greene.
Both of the featured stories in ‘TEC 363 were by the incomparable team of Fox, Infantino and Greene. Gardner Fox wrote great mystery stories for the Darknight Detective and the Ductile Detective. Not much can be said without spoiling the tantalizing mystery in the cover-featured Batman story, guest-starring Batgirl. But trust me it paid off.
As for the Elongated Man yarn–Fox set up a lot of amusing scenes for Infantino and Greene to bring to life. As usual, Ralph and Sue Dibny are visiting another town on their travels–Wishbone City–where some bit of weirdness gets Ralph’s nose twitching. He detects a mystery and we’re off to the races.
⇐ Gardner Fox wrote a letter to editor Julius Schwartz that explains the scientific element which provides the plot idea for Way-Out Day in Wishbone City–and this was published in an extra page of Batman’s Hotline.
it’s the craze of one million years b.c.
The Swan and Klein cover for ACTION 350 posed yet another mystery that needed to be solved.
How could a Superman have lived and died a million years ago?
Of course, Superman–who can travel through time–is not so easily stumped by such a mystery as you or I would be.
Meanwhile, at the back of the comic, Supergirl has her own mysteries to solve, when she encounters a band called the Heroes who turn out not to live up to their name–in The Anti-Supergirl Plot by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney.
Coming along at the height of Bat-Mania, this story benefits from featuring the Caped Crusader’s likeness–as well as that of Green Lantern and Green Arrow. It also grants Supergirl the chance to hang out with the Justice League–well three of the League’s members–as the real heroes get involved in the plot.
And–while Jim Mooney had drawn the Old Look Batman in a multitude of stories–this is one of the few times when Mooney gets to draw the New Look Batman.
it’s the craze for cavegirls & dinosaurs
Ξ Poster of Raquel Welch on a cross, used to promote the movie ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.–although in the movie itself, Welch’s character never appears on a cross.
A month before ACTION COMICS 350 was due at the newsstands, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. appeared in the movie theatres–although the movie had come out in Europe three months prior.
This suggests some clever planning on the part of editor Mort Weisinger. The lead time on comic books was something like six months, if not longer, so there’s no way Weisinger and his crew could have whipped up their story after the release of the movie. They had to have done so before and known something about what would appear in the movie.
There are many points of similarity between the two ahistorical yarns. The first being that they are set in One Million Years, B.C. And yet–and this is the second stark similarity–there are all manner of dinosaurs present in both stories–against all logic, given that the dinosaurs died out eons before the evolution of hominids. The Superman story at least attempts to hand wave this fact of science aside.
Ξ Superman:The Secret of the Stone-Age Superman, ACTION COMICS No. 350 (May ’67); story: Otto Binder; art: Wayne Boring. Under a red sun, Superman is powerless.
Of course, Weisinger may have followed the publicity concerning the production of this movie. And as the 1967 release is in fact a remake of the 1940 movie, ONE MILLION B.C.–Mort Weisinger and Otto Binder could well have seen that original epic when it came out and remembered some of the basic elements.
The original movie was the product of Hal Roach, who directed the picture along with his son, Hal Roach, Jr. And D. W. Griffith, although uncredited, is reported to have had a hand in the production. For 1940, the movie is quite ambitious and uses trick photography for some of its key scenes–while in other scenes present day animals are made to look like their prehistoric counterparts. Victor Mature stars in one of his first leading roles–although the script doesn’t call for much dialogue–and Mature has no beard, despite all other adult males in both tribes being bearded.
As with the remake, the movie centres around the love affair between Tumak of the Rock tribe and Loana of the Shell tribe. The Rock people are savage brutes who live a kill or be killed existence. While the Shell people have a society based on mutual cooperation.
The original Hal Roach movie had its fair share of trick photography, which was quite something for the time in which it was made. Although one feels for the poor lizards in this movie: regular sized lizards made to appear gigantic. There was no Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ensuring the rights of these reptilian actors.
But when the director Don Chaffey remade the movie for Hammer Films, as ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., the legendary Ray Harryhausen was enlisted to bring most of the dinosaurs in the movie to life, using stop motion photography and his own models of the dinosaurs.
Raquel Welch was given top billing, although this was only her second starring role in a movie (the first being FANTASTIC VOYAGE), and there’s no doubt that most audiences came to see the beautiful actress running around in her fur bikini as lovely Loana. Meanwhile, the bearded John Richardson was her co-star, the savage Tumak.
But the fantastic creatures provided by Ray Harryhausen were just as strong a draw for the lover of fantasy and stop motion effects. With the international success of this movie, Harryhausen would go on to do other dyno-pics for Hammer, but this is his best remembered.
Brought back to life were a brontosaurus, archelon, allosaurus, triceratops, tyrannosaurus and two pterosaurs–plus ptero-nestlings and animated model men.
For more on the dinosaurs in this movie, see the blog: Ray Harryhausen in the UK: One Million Years B.C.
Ξ Original theatrical trailer for ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966)
About nine minutes were cut from the print when the movie was released in the United States (I don’t know if the same held true in Canada). What was omitted included the savage dance of Nupondi (played by Martine Beswick) and some of the more gruesome scenes.
With no language barrier to impede it, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. proved to be one of Hammer’s most successful exports around the world. Not one to let a good thing go, without hammering it into the ground, Hammer produced other cavegirls & dinosaurs epics like SLAVE GIRLS (1968), WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970) and CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT (1971).
it’s the craze at the house of hammer
Accompanying the release of the movie in the U.K. was an advertising comic strip with six episodes. Each part collectively told the entire plot of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C.
However, a full comics adaptation of the movie would not arrive until a decade after the original release of the movie.In 1977, an adaptation of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. was featured in the black & white magazine, THE HOUSE OF HAMMER No. 14 [Vol. 2, No. 2] (November ’77), scripted by Steve Moore and illustrated by John Bolton.
Ξ One Million Years B.C., THE HOUSE OF HAMMER No. 14 [Vol. 2, No. 2] (November ’77); script: Steve Moore; art: John Bolton.
The original 1940 movie, ONE MILLION B.C., may just have inspired some of the plot in Jon St. Ables’ Piltdown Pete in LUCKY COMICS from Maple Leaf. For more on that see the extra page: The Yot Time F’got!
it’s the craze française
Ξ J’EN AI MARRE! (March 2003) performed by Alizée; written and produced by Mylène Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat.
Born Mylène Jeanne Gautier on the 12th of September ’61 in Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada, Mylène Farmer moved to France with her family when she was eight years old. There, Mylène had to take speech classes because her school disapproved of her Québécois accent. So she worked on speaking like a real citizen of urban France.
At age seventeen, Mylène began a three year course at the Cours Florent, a drama school in Paris. Thereafter, she changed her last name to Farmer as a tribute to the American actress, Frances Farmer.
Meeting a young film student, Laurent Boutonnat, in 1984, the two formed a lasting creative partnership–writing and producing music and filming music videos. Mylène Farmer soon became famous in France for her controversial pop music and videos.
By 2000, Farmer and Boutonnat had ideas for music and videos that would work for a young, new singer. They began a search to find the right woman for this project and selected Alizée, a contestant on the reality program GRAINES DE STAR (literally translated, Star Seeds). Mylène and Laurent crafted her Lolita image in music and videos and soon Alizée was a top selling pop star in France.
Alizée Jacotey was born the 24th of August ’84 in Ajaccio, Corsica. Her name refers to the trade winds that come off the Atlantic Ocean there.
She began dancing at an early age and trained at the Ecole de Danse Monique Mufraggi dance school in Ajaccio. Unable to compete in the dance category for GRAINES DE STAR, she switched to singing and won the award for most promising young singing star of tomorrow.
She recorded two albums with Farmer and Boutonnat: GOURMANDISES (2000) and MES COURANTS ÉLECTRIQUES (2003). Both met with phenomenal success and, after the second album, Alizée went on a world-wide tour.
J’en ai marre! is from the second album and features a melody that is similar to the later tune by Coldplay, Vida la Vida–as many have observed–although Mylène Farmer never launched a lawsuit over Coldplay’s use of that melody.
it’s the craze in 8 days!
. . . coming to blows for the third week in April . . .
Not only Daredevil but many other characters from the Lev Gleason publishing house–the Silver Streak, Dickie Dean, Cloud Curtis, Zip Todd, Lance Hale, the Pirate Prince, Mercury, Captain Battle, Presto Martin and the Claw–challenge the power of der Führer, when DAREDEVIL BATTLES HITLER No. 1 (July ’41) hits the newsstands on the 15th of April ’41–story and art by Charles Biro (cover by Biro and Bob Wood). This title becomes DAREDEVIL COMICS with issue No. 2. Appearing initially in a story by Don Rico and Jack Binder for a story in SILVER STREAK COMICS No. 6 (September ’41), the Daredevil was revamped by Jack Cole for his powerhouse battle against the Claw, in the following issue SILVER STREAK No. 7 (January ’41).
Although the “New Look” got its start in the previous month with DETECTIVE COMICS No. 327 (May ’64), many of the changes for the Dynamic Duo are introduced in BATMAN No. 164 (June ’64)–which was possibly supposed to be the first “New Look” comic had scheduling worked out differently. Not only are there changes to the Batcave and the Batmobile, but a new Hotline phone is introduced and Commissioner Gordon’s look is updated. As well, in the issue’s second story, we’re introduced to the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City–armchair detectives (of a sort). The mag arrives at drugstores April 16 ’64.
Street and Smith gives their popular pulp action hero his own comic book, when DOC SAVAGE COMICS No. 1 comes your way on the 17th of April ’40.
DETECTIVE COMICS No. 27 (May ’39) arrives at your local newsdealer on April 18 ’39. In this issue, a new mystery man detective.
In THE ADVENTURES OF BOB HOPE No. 9 (June-July ’51), Bob meets his creepy relations when he has to spend the night in a haunted house–on sale the 18th of April ’51.
Run don’t walk to your newsstand April 18th ’63 for these instant classics: First up, it’s the most shocking chapter in the lives of the Dynamic Duo–in BATMAN 156 (June ’63). While Batman is away, Robin the Boy Wonder encounters the Secret of the Ant-Man. Meanwhile, in the second story, Robin Dies at Dawn–Batman believes he is on an alien world where Robin has died. Both are by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. Then, get ready for the Band of Supervillains in WORLD’S FINEST COMICS 134 (June ’63), as our three heroes visit Science City–a model city of the future–but are trapped within its forcefield and menaced by three alien creatures. Next, it’s another meeting for the Fastest Men Alive of Two Worlds, in THE FLASH 137 (June ’63), when Barry and Jay encounter the Immortal Villain–in a tale that reintroduces those heroes from yesteryear, the Justice Society of America. Finally, from Gold Key, THE MIGHTY HERCULES appears in issue No. 1 (July ’63) of his own Gold Key magazine–based on the Saturday morning cartoon produced in Canada in the early ’60s.
Murdis Steals the Silver Arrows–THE MIGHTY HERCULES–theme sung by Johnny Nash; story by George Kashdan & Jack Miller.
Timely’s U.S.A. COMICS No. 1 (August ’41) debuts with a whole host of new heroes, including the Whizzer, the Defender and Jack Frost. At newsstands the 20th of April ’41.
. . . leading the league in scoring for the last week in April . . .
BATMAN No. 232 (June ’71) sets the Detective on a farflung search for the League of Asssassins and the Daughter of the Demon–an instant classic by Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano–on sale the 22nd of April ’71.
The Dark Night Detective and the Boy Wonder are happy with 64 pages of story and art in BATMAN No. 1 (Spring ’40). In this issue the first stories of the Joker and the Cat (aka the Cat-Woman); cover by Bob Kane (backgrounds by Jerry Robinson). Reserve a copy at your newsdealer for April 25 ’40.
Broadcast on the 26th of April ’70, the elaborate TV special RAQUEL! starring Raquel Welch, with guest stars Tom Jones, Bob Hope and John Wayne–filmed mainly in Mexico and featuring Bob Mackey fashions–this super spectacular cost 350,OOO in 1970 dollars.
RAQUEL! (1970)–space girl dance at Ruta de la Amistad public sculpture project at the site of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD No. 30 (June-July ’60) presents the Justice League of America in battle against Professor Ivo and his super-android, Amazo. Then prepare yourself for the tragic tale of the Superman from Outer Space in ACTION COMICS 265 (June ’60). The Man of Steel encounters the champion of another world with an uncanny resemblance to himself–story by Otto Binder with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Both comics are at newsstands the 28th of April ’60.
On April 30 ’39, the New York World’s Fair opens on President’s Day (George Washington’s birthday). Available at the fair is DC’s 1939 edition of NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS featuring Superman (with blonde hair on the cover), Zatara, Butch the Pup, Sandman, Ginger Snap and others.
In ADVENTURE COMICS No. 261 (June ’59), Superboy meets Lois Lane by Otto Binder and George Papp. When young Lois goes away to summer camp, she shares a cabin with Lana Lang of Smallville and ends up meeting Superboy [presumably for the first time, although this isn’t the first story where Superboy and Lois met for the first time]. Also in this issue, Lee Elias illustrates Curse of the Wizard’s Arrow and Ramona Fradon depicts Aquaman Duels the Animal-Master (written by Robert Bernstein). Cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye; on sale April 30 ’59.
Direct Currents for the 30th of April ’64: Bob Haney, Bruno Premiani and Sheldon Moldoff bring together Kid Flash, Robin and Aqualad for a team-up adventure in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD No. 54 (June-July ’64), but the kid sidekicks are not yet called the Teen Titans. Meanwhile, Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella provide the final chapter in the life of Alfred, for DETECTIVE COMICS 328 (June ’64)–cover art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Also in this issue, Ralph and Sue set out to solve the Curious Case of the Barn-Door Bandit, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino.
to celebrate our anniversary
we’ve put together a special collection of our greatest hits!
All on sale dates might be approximate, as provided by Mike’s Amazing World of Comics (The Newsstand) and by other sources.
All characters, logos, and images are owned and © 2015 by current copyright holders. They are used here for educational and review purposes.