Why am I shining the Comics Tunes spotlight on George of the Jungle? Is it coming out on DVD? Are they making another live-action film? Are they rebooting the series and bringing it back to television? No, no, and uh-uh. There’s a very good reason why I had to discuss George of the Jungle this Tuesday. It’s because George of the Jungle has absolutely nothing to do with Gotham and I’m so sick and tired of complaining about that show.
This week we were treated to another eye-gouging. There’s a phrase I never thought I’d type: “another eye-gouging.” You’d think that gouging an eye would be something that comes up very, very rarely on a prime-time TV series about a children’s comic book character. But you’d be wrong, bat-breath! Eye-gougings are so commonplace on this miserable excuse for a television series that they’re actually getting boring. That’s why Fox and DC are upping the ante and taking the brutal, up-close violence to a new level of disgusting explicitness. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if next week’s episode featured a couple more eye-gougings that are even more shocking and nauseating than this week’s! But I won’t know. I don’t watch Gotham anymore as of yesterday. Blecchh!
Which logically brings me to George of the Jungle. Here’s a show based entirely on an ape-man swinging on a vine right into a tree. Every week, George smashes into a tree. Same tree. Every week. If it’s Saturday morning, George is going to collide with a tree. You can set your watch by it. They didn’t feel they had to gouge George’s eyes out in order to retain viewers. The tree collision was enough. Ah, the good old days.
George of the Jungle’s comic book lasted only two issues so we had to dig a little to find some visuals this week. This Spanish-language comic is especially interesting because here George is called Tristan Bejuco. Which, according to Google Translate, is the Spanish word for “Tristan Bejuco.”
George (or Tristan, as we call him) also appeared in America’s Best Comics which was a one-issue promotion for ABC television’s Saturday morning line-up. Note that this was years before Disney bought ABC and Marvel. Kind of prescient, isn’t it? Now Marvel characters not only appear on ABC, they’re both owned by the same company. Yet, Disney does not own George of the Jungle. Funny how things work out, huh?
Fans of George of the Jungle may want to turn back the clock and check out our previous post featuring a cover version of the theme song that may or may not be by Led Zeppelin (it’s not). You can find it by clicking here.
Now enjoy this week’s song and forget you ever saw Gotham.
Click the link below and be careful you don’t poke your eye out!
I’ve already posted several comics featuring my favorite Hanna-Barbara cartoon character, Huckleberry Hound, but this giveaway, Huckleberry Hound’s Kite Fun Book is intriguing for a couple of reasons. First it’s a neat little booklet from 1961, ”Published as a public service by Southern California Edison Company.” that teaches kids how to build a kite as well as the rules of kite safety. It’s a shame I didn’t see this when I was a kid because while I went through a kite flying phase every attempt was met with Charlie Brown levels of humiliating failure. Even when I had an adequate space for kite flying, which was infrequent, I could only keep my feeble crates afloat for roughly 3-4 minutes before they would inevitably crash. After a half-dozen attempts, I took a freaking hint and moved onto building models — something I was also horrible at.
Along with being informative the art is also wonderfully on model and Huck mostly in character. Though I don’t recall him having a nephew named “Pup” or living in a doghouse with “Huckleberry Hound’s House” carved into it.
We lost Gary Owens a little while ago. You probably remember him as the booth announcer on Laugh-In.
Gary has many connections to comics and cartoons as voice actor. Mr. Owens was the voice of Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost and the Blue Falcon.
Gary was also a cartoonist himself! But since this is Comics Tunes Tuesday, we’re interested in how Gary Owens’ career intersected with records and comics. Well, you need look no further than this very blog! We already spotlighted three tracks from an album called “Sunday Morning with the Comics” which you can hear here, here and here.
Note to trivia buffs and nitpickers: Gary’s Wikipedia entry, and virtually every other mention on Google, calls this LP “Sunday Morning With the Funnies” with the Jimmy Haskell Orchestra. Yet he’s called Jimmy Bowen on every copy I’ve seen. Is this an error? Or was there another version under a different name? It’s a honey of a mystery.
This time, we’re sharing the song “Wonder Mother” featuring Gary’s voice at the beginning.
The comic book of course started out as a collection of previously published comic strips and even after most publishers switched to a primarily original material format there were were still quite a few titles devoted to reprinting comic strips; Tip Top, Magic, Ace, The Funnies and Super Comics. It ran 121 issues and featured some of the biggest strips on the funny pages including Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Smokie Stover, Dick Tracy, etc. But of course me being me as per usual I’m more interested in the more obscure comic strips as well as the few original features.
Like Tiny Tim by Stanely Link about Tim Grunt and his sister Dotty, both of whom were only a couple of inches tall. It was mostly a kid’s melodrama strip but according to Wikipedia it became more of a straight adventure one where a gypsy grew them to “slightly less than normal size”. Tim then became kind of a superhero after the gypsy presented him with an amulet that allowed shrink down to two inches. According to Don Markstein’s Toonopedia site he even fought “evil would-be world conquerors”. I really hope I get a chance to read that version of the strip.
I’ve always been fond of Frank Willard’s Moon Mullins a “lovable, banjo-eyed lowlife at home in the sporting world” (to quote Wikipedia) but so far I’ve only been able to experience the strip in small doses, like this.
He’s an oddity, The Thief of Bagdad, an original Arabian Knights type strip by Erwin L. Hess who worked for Dell Publications on everything from Gang Busters to Roy Rogers but who also drew the Captain Midnight comic strip from 1942 to 1945.
Jack Wander by Ed Moore about a war correspondent.
Walter Berndts Smitty about an office boy.
Ken Ernsts Magic Morrow about a standard Tarzan who also happened to be a darn good sorcerer.
Holy eye-gouge, Batman! This episode of Gotham shows someone getting stabbed in the head! I didn’t even know that was possible until now. So not only is this weekly TV series brutally violent, it’s also educational!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (get it?), I’m pretty much appalled at the level of off-putting, on-screen violence that’s seen on television these days. It just seems so unnecessary to me. When the villain is harvesting adrenal glands from his murder victims we don’t need to see him turn human body parts into a paste by squeezing them through a garlic press. Here’s how you handle a scene like that.
Medical examiner: “The villain is harvesting adrenal glands from his murder victims.”
Detective Gordon: “Ewww!”
See? It can all be handled in dialogue. We don’t need a close-up of human goo coming out of a Play-Doh Fun Factory to make that point.
It makes me wonder if the producers of this show (or worse, the viewers) have a thing for disgusting violence. Does it make them happy? Do they dance a little jig every time some woman has her eyes removed? Do they find blood and gore <gulp> entertaining? Good lord! [choke] Not since the days of EC Comics have we seen this kind of explicit ugliness, and that was on the printed page. Not on our screens accompanied by squishy sound effects.
But enough about that. Let’s turn back the clock and enjoy another of the countless Batman records from the 1966 TV show, where the graphics were sound effects and the sound effects weren’t so graphic.
As previously established I love old comic books and old comic strips so old comic books full of old comic strips hold a special place in my heart. Especially since most of these comics (Ace, Magic, The Funnies, etc.) have long been unavailable to me. But I recently came across a bunch of early issues of Tip Top Comics and, boy, do I like them. Published by the United Features syndicate it ran 188 issues between 1936 and 1954 and while in it’s final days it focused pretty heavily on Nancy and Sluggo during it’s early days it featured many well known and incredibly obscure comic strips.
Like Dirks The Captain and the Kids. The more I read of this iteration of the characters the more I prefer it to the better known The Katzenjammer Kids.
Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan. Full disclosure; this is a strip that I’ve always admired and appreciated more than actually liked.
I finally get a look at the very early days of Joe Jinks.
I haven’t had a lot of exposure to Bill Counselman and Charles Plumb’s Ella Cinder, a somewhat awkwardly drawn comic strip that was, as the title suggests with the subtlety of a clown hammer, is a contemporary version of Cinderella. Of much more interest to me is the strips “topper”, Chris Crusty which ran from 1931 to 1940 mostly because it’s just so darn strange; I’m still not sure whether Chris is a hapless everyman or a man on the verge of a psychotic break.
Little Mary Mixup was a gag strip about a little girl by Robert Moore Brinkerhoff than gradually became a light-hearted story strip that also gradually allowed the title character to age to a teenager by WWII.
Fritzi Ritz, sans Nancy.
I’ve never heard of Benny and as far as I can tell neither has the Internet. Which is a shame since it’s just so odd, not necessarily odd enough to be good, but odd as in “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before”.
Mr. and Mrs. Beans, another completely unknown strip that’s handsomely illustrated by person or persons unknown.
Billy Make-Believe by Harry E. Homan,
Peter Pat by Mo Leff,
Frankie Doodle, a fairly short run orphan on the run strip by Ben Batsford.
What’s faster than a speeding bullet? Who can outrun a locomotive? Of course I’m talking about The Flash who appears every week on the TV series The Flash. Why revisit this subject so soon? Why return to this topic so fast? Why repeat myself so quickly? Well, it’s all about speed.
It’s well-established that The Flash can run really, really fast. He’s just a blur when he runs by. He’s so fast he can run on water. He’s so fast he can run up the side of a building. After all, he’s The Fastest Man Alive. And this brings me to today’s quandary. Go with me on this.
The Flash is running so fast he’s just a blur.
Each episode follows the same pattern. There’s a new super-villain in town. (They call them meta-humans but we know what they are.) Whether it’s Captain Cold, Captain Heat, Captain Lukewarm or Captain Boomerang, it’s some guy with a wacky super power or a crazy weapon. The Flash fights the bad guy unprepared – and loses! Then he comes back and fights him again – and wins! Every week, the same deal.
In each case, The Flash confronts the villain in the street to settle the score face-to-face. Usually there’s some clever dialogue like “It’s the end of the line for you, Scarlet Speedster!” Then the evil-doer unleashes his weapon/power and nearly kills The Flash. Ouch!
Now I’ve been watching the show every week and it occurs to me that in each case (correct me if I’m wrong) The Flash could simply run up behind the bad guy at super speed and hit him in the head with a pipe. Game over!
Sometimes the villain even announces when and where the battle will take place. “Meet me at 8 o’clock at Fifth and Main and we’ll see who’s more powerful.” All The Flash has to do is get to Fourth and Main by 7:59, rush up behind the villain du jour, and bop him on the head with a tire iron.
I wasn’t the first one to think of this.
No matter who the bad guy is, no matter what their power, it works. Instead of this showdown in the street like an old Western movie (which gives the villain a second chance to attack) just run up in a blur and hit him with a brick. None of this “I’m putting you on ice, Captain Cold.” Just – boom! – and it’s over.
Maybe The Flash likes going mano-a-mano with his antagonist. Maybe he likes delivering lines line “I’m sending you back where you came from, Captain Boomerang!” But people’s lives are at stake here. The city is in danger. There’s no time for fooling around.
So I’m saying to you, Scarlet Speedster: Next time you have to defeat Captain Fog, Captain Rain or Captain Snowstorm, don’t get in his face. Circle the block and clobber him with a bat. It will happen so fast he won’t know what hit him.
And now, the theme from The Flash (the other one).
As well established I’m always inappropriately delighted when I discover something I don’t know. This week it’s the fact there was an Archie character I had never heard of, and I’ve heard of Senor Banana. I speak of The Adventures of Pipsqueak, a short-run Archie series running six issues between 1959 and 60. Pipsqueak is considered by some to be a Dennis the Menace ripoff and while I’ve only read this one issue and he certainly seems to be a lively kid misconstruing the English and causing chaos didn’t seem to be his exclusive reason for existing. He’s a pretty normal kid with pretty normal friends and parents and his ‘antics’ are low key and thoroughly believable. About the only thing of distinction, I can find about this comic is that characters use the archaic nautical term “yare” meaning easily maneuverable, ready. It’s used by both Pipsqueaks friend Knucklehead and his dad and in the context it appears to mean “right” or “I heard that”. Perhaps the writer/artist Walt Lardner had a nautical background of maybe it’s a regional colloquialism; I just don’t know.
Speaking of whom I also learned, a little about a cartoonist named Walt Lardner who seems to have lived a double life. While there is precious little about Walt Lardner, comic book artist, available on the web there’s a bit more about Walt Lardner, an editorial cartoonist. Anyone with any further information about Lardner please to let me know.
Way to stay classy, DC! I’m talking about all the restraint you’ve been using on the TV series Gotham. When you strangle somebody to death on screen, you don’t linger on the shot of the hands tightening around the victim’s neck. When someone is stabbed in the back with an ice pick, we see just one spurt of blood, not two or three. Torture is handled tastefully and delicately, not with a baseball bat. Oh wait, it was with a baseball bat. Never mind. The point is, another company might think it’s proper to wallow in ultra-violence while telling the back-story of a children’s comic book character in the 8 o’clock hour. But not you guys. Youse got class.
But let’s not dwell on graphic violence. Let’s look on the bright side! The Riddler! Or the pre-Riddler in this case. Dr. Edward Nigma as played by Cory Michael Smith in the TV series is a welcome departure from the cackling lunatic we’ve seen before. Ed seems like a genuinely nice guy – an oddball perhaps – but he just likes riddles (and he doesn’t like onions) and he has a crush on a sweet girl in the office. We can relate to him as a human being. And we can see he’s just about to crack. A joke! You can feel the tension as E. Nigma slowly loses his patience on the road to becoming a full-blown nutball. Nicely done!
Which brings me to a riddle. What’s the difference between a convict and The Riddler? A convict has a long record but The Riddler’s is only two minutes and twelve seconds.
Do you know the answers to these riddles? I don’t.
There are definite holes in my encyclopedic comic book knowledge, one of those being non-superhero DC comics from the 50′s and 60′s. For example, their SF/Fantasy anthologies. I’ve often spoken about how much I appreciated the non-threatening, gently reassuring nature of DC’s 50′s and early 60′s comics but when comes to this genre (Mystery In Space, Strange Adventures, Tales of the Unexpected and House of Secrets) I much preferred the sometimes unsettling ookines of the Atlas/Marvel comics (Tales To Astonish, Strange Tales, Tales To Astonish, etc.) . And the Marvels had the better monsters; for me The Faceless Hunter and Yggardis the Living Planet just couldn’t compete with Fing Fang Foom and Googam.
As far as I was concerned the only advantage the DC’s had was they had reoccurring quasi-superheroes like Captain Comet and Adam Stange to fight the monsters. Oh, and the DC’s had gorillas. Now, I love me some gorillas, always have, both the real world variety and their fantastical fictional counterparts. How much? If you were able to check out my hard drive (and you really shouldn’t) you would find a lot of images of gorillas. Like, this one:
Supposedly back in the 50′s and 60′s it was an article of faith at DC Comics that a gorilla on a comics cover resulted in higher sales. Now no one has ever been able to produce an internal memo that substantiates the legend, but as you can see for yourself, the anecdotal evidence is pretty overwhelming:
Which resulted in this lovely one by Nick Cardy. Now that’s one nice, photorealistic gorilla.
According to the Grand Comic Book Database, “The Phantoms In the Ring” was drawn by George PappInks and inked by Sheldon Moldoff.
“The Magic Pass” was drawn by Howard Purcell and inked by Mort Meskin.
And finally bringing up the rear comes our star attraction, “Experiment 1000″ drawn and inked by Nick Cardy. Again, Nick Cardy could draw himself a gorilla.