Saturday, December 31, 2016

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Star Trek Aliens: . . . and more Klingons.

Star Trek Aliens: . . . Klingons . . .

Michael Ansara was the husband of I Dream Of Jeannie star, Barbara Eden.  He appeared on that show as the evil Blue Jin.  On Star Trek he was featured as Klingon Commander Kang.  Does that ring a bell Simpsons fans?  He had a long film & television career, making a notable appearance on the original Outer Limits. The episode which he starred, Solider, has been acknowledged as a direct influence on the Terminator franchise.  He later made the role of Mr. Freeze his own on Batman: The Animated Series.

Star Trek Aliens: Klingons . . .

John Colicos built a career appearing on shows like Perry Mason, but his long-lasting fame came from his work in science fiction.  He was Klingon Captain Kor in Star Trek.  In the seventies he originated the role of Baltar in the 1978 version of Battlestar Galactica

Batman 1966: Batman Nite Lite!


Batman 1966: What the fuck is this!?!!


Batman 1966: Alps Toys Batmobile!


Batman 1966: Tada Toys Wind-Up Robin!


Batman 1966: Ideal Joker!


Batman 1966: A West German hand puppet!


Batman 1966: Do they have pools in Japan?!

An inflatible Batman toy from Japan. What do you do with it? Does it talk? Does it get used in a pool? Do they have pools in Japan? Yeah, this probably ended up in some body of water @ some point. This was most likely a beach toy, but japanese items like this would also hang by a string in some kid's room or be attached somewhere outside the house or apartment as decoration. Some of the weirdest Caped Crusader stuff came from Japan, but so did some of the coolest. Batman in 1966 wasn't just a national phenomenon, it was a global phenomenon.

Batman 1966: The Robin Soaky!


Batman 1966: Marx Tin Friction Batmobile!


Batman 1966: Wonder Toys bendy!

The Wonder Toys bendy figure which I believe was made in England. It was an unlicensed toy that came on a bat-shaped card featuring comic-inspired pictures of the Caped Crusader on it (he wasn't known as The Dark Knight at this time.). The words "WHAM!", "POW!", & "CRACK!" are prominently featured. Nowhere on the card does the name of Batman appear. It was washable, non-toxic, and bent to any position of action. Now go find one. . .

Batman 1966: A crummy desk lamp!

Prior to 1966, there really wasn't that much Batman merchandising.  Comics don't count, as they are the source from which all of the various products would come from.  Before 1964, there was at most about twenty Batman items made. That number may not be exact but there was not a mountain merchandise for the caped crusader. When Julius Schwartz took over editorship of the Batman comics, he did so to revive the detective theme that was the character's m.o. in his earlier years.  One of the 1964 items that resulted from this new direction for Batman was the Aurora Batman model, the first Batman figural collectible. It was well sculpted, had a dark and mysterious look and strong sales followed with the advent of the 1966 show.
But since its such a well-known item (it was being produced in various forms into the nineties), I chose not to draw it here.  Instead I drew the awkward desk lamp you see above: a goofy looking, large-breasted (I toned them down for this drawing), silly at best, Gotham guardian that despite its weird appearance, still holds a fond memory for kids from the sixties.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

BATMAN!

The premiere of Batman on January 12, 1966 was the television equivalent of The Beatles performing on The Ed Sullivan Show two years earlier.  Immediately, the American public went into a Bat-Frenzy and anything & anyone connected to the show became a hot property. Having been frowned upon by many new fans of Batman since the arrival of Tim Burton's dark 1989 movie, the 1966 version of Batman is his most important.  By the mid-sixties, Batman was, quite frankly, "down on his luck".  As author Hubert Crawford states in his classic book, Crawford's Encyclopedia of Comic Books:

"Batman, for the most part had become forgotten.  His decline had begun in 1963 when Batman Comics was temporarily discontinued.  Detective Comics had been reduced to just a few issues per year.  The comic book industry itself had shrunk to a half-dozen publishers who were concentrating on animal fantasy and family humor titles.
Similarly, the motion picture industry was in a period of crisis.  The only studios still in operation were those few who produced special shows for the television networks.  Warner Brothers, a former film giant of Hollywood's earlier days, was one of those few.  In the 1930s and early 1940s Warner Brothers had maintained an animation department that produced special effects for its major films and, as a sideline, created animated cartoon shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Road Runner and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang.
Years later, in the 1960s, these same cartoons were sold to television and suddenly became popular again as they appeared on the home screen for a new generation of viewers.  The continuous reruns prompted Warner Brothers to resume its activity in the comic book field.  They acquired the ailing DC comics line, which was close to folding, and took one feature to gamble on--Batman!

The experimental show was put together by William Dozier, who had previously produced such television masterpieces as "Studio One", "You Are There", and "Playhouse 90".  Batman took the nation by storm and achieved an unbelievably high rating!  It held a vast nostalgic appeal for adults who, as youngsters, had grown up with Batman during the 1940s.  And for the new generation who had never heard of Batman, the show became an instant favorite.

The show, followed up by a full-length movie of Batman and numerous Batman toys, made Batman an instant national fad and sparked new interest in superhero fantasy.  Soon afterwards the comic book industry would boom again.
The success of the Batman television series also opened the door to new avenues in primetime television entertainment.  On May, 1966, television and motion picture executives held a special luncheon meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel to discuss the Batman phenomenon.  Dozier pointed out that the public liked Batman because he offered the perfect escape from television programs that dramatized familiar situations of everyday life."

Essentially, the Batman TV show not only saved the character, but it also secured DC comics from oblivion as well as delivering a life-giving shot of adrenaline to the comic book industry that revived it and enabled it to continue and thrive.

In 1966, after 14 years . . .

. . . The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet went off the air.  One of television's early long-running success stories, the cancellation of the show left a gap in ABC's schedule.  What would be put in its time slot?  Would the new show have half the impact of the program it was replacing?  Well, not only was the answer a solid "YES!", but the mid-season replacement would make a massive cultural mark not just on the sixties, but on american, and world, pop culture to this day. What was the name of this explosive new show?  Why, it was . . .

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Remember Brandon Lee . . . .

Killed 25 years ago when he was struck by a bullet loaded into a prop gun, Brandon Lee never lived to see the success he would achieve af...