Fred (Fred Othon Artistidès) was born on this day in 1931.
A French comic strip creator, Fred created his first comic in 1954. In 1960 he became art director of Hara-Kiri, and illustrated several pieces for the magazine (and its first 60 covers!) over the next few years.
He is best known for his comic Philémon, which appeared in Pilote magazine in 1965. He was awarded the Grand Prix de la ville in 1980.
Born in 1952, Mark Evanier has been writing professionally since 1969. He apprenticed under Jack Kirby and wrote for Disney, Gold Key, and the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate before moving on to television.
There, Evanier worked on such series as The Nancy Walker Show, The McLean Stevenson Show, and Welcome Back, Kotter. Next he worked for Hanna-Barbera on several series, including Scooby Doo, Plastic Man, and Thundarr the Barbarian. Evanier returned to comic books as well, writing and later editing Blackhawk, working with Sergio Aragonés on Groo the Wanderer, and co-creating The DNAgents and its spin-off, Crossfire.
His most recent project is Kirby: King of Comics, a biography of his first mentor, Jack Kirby. Happy birthday, Mark!
Arnold Drake was born on this day in 1924. Drake was best known for his work on Deadman and Doom Patrol but he also co-created the 1950 picture book It Rhymes with Lust, which may many consider the first American graphic novel. Drake also wrote the screenplay for a 1964 horror movie, The Flesh Eaters. Sadly, Drake died on March 12 of last year.
Joyce Brabner was born on March 1, 1952. A writer of political comics, she collaborated with her second husband, Harvey Pekar, on his series American Splendor and on the Harvey Award-winning graphic novel Our Cancer Year. Brabner also worked with Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz on the anthology Brought to Light. She edited the anthology but wrote one of the two stories, Flashpoint: The La Penca Bombing.
That’s right, two of DC Comics’s most powerful mortals, Superman and Captain Marvel, have their birthday today! Of course, for the Man of Steel it’s just the Earth equivalent to his Kryptonian birthday, while Captain Marvel dates his “birth” to the night young Billy Batson uttered the name “Shazam!” and was transformed into the World’s Mightiest Mortal.
In 1907 Milton Caniff was born in Hillsboro, Ohio. Caniff was best known for the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon cartoon strips. He helped found the National Cartoonists Society and received its first Cartoonist of the Year Award in 1947. He was entered into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1988.
In 1957, issue #985 of Le Journal de Spirou introduced a new cartoon character, a bumbling young man named Gaston LaGaffe. Created by André Franquin, Gaston was a popular character and strip for almost forty years.
Though the ocean tides play havoc with calendars, today is officially recognized as the birthday of Lori Lemaris, mermaid of Atlantis and one-time girlfriend of Superman. Don’t ask how old she is, though—a lady never reveals, not even a lady fish.
In the “real” world, today is also the birthday of comic book artist Norm Breyfogle and comic book creator Jeff Smith. Both were born in 1960.
Breyfogle is best known for his work on various Batman titles, while Jeff Smith is the creator of the popular Bone comic book series.
Last night Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim premiered Star Wars: Robot Chicken. The half-hour edition of the popular stop motion cartoon show was entirely devoted to Star Warsgags. What separates this from countless issues of Mad Magazine was the involvement of George Lucas himself. Lucas provides a sense of legitimacy and an acknowledgement that he is finally ready to laugh at his own creation.
Unfortunately, much like the prequel trilogy, maybe more could have been done if Lucas was less involved. The sketch featuring Lucas being saved from a mob of fans by a guy dressed as a tauntaun was by far the weakest in the entire show. I don’t know if this was a problem with the writers or with Lucas, but the sketch felt particularly flat.
The rest of the show was more successful. The highlight was a sketch in which Darth Vader explains a number of the more contrived coincidences in the series to a Mark-Hamil-voiced-Luke Skywalker. Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) was excellent as the voice of Emperor Palpatine in a number of bits, including one featuring a mama-joke contest between the Emperor and Luke.
Overall, the show worked the best when it was contained within the universe, albeit one with a lot more jokes, the Late Night with Zuckuss sketch (featuring the voice of Conan O’Brien) scored, as did the Ponda Baba segment.
The more it felt like they were winking at the audience the less it worked for me; another lowlight was the sketch featuring a Jedi President Bush fighting Sith Abraham Lincoln.
The best possible outcome of this would be increased exposure for Robot Chicken, Adult Swim’s gem, with its third season set to begin in under two months. With the Family Guy season premiere bringing another high profile Star Wars parody our way I’m interested to see if they can match this effort by Seth Green and the staff at Robot Chicken, the way Family Guy has been going it won’t be easy.
Star Wars: Robot Chicken can be watched for free (for at least the time being) at adultswim.com