Tagged: Cartoon

M.A.S.K.: The Complete Original Series Arrives in August

One of the earliest comics series I inherited as an editor was M.A.S.K., based on the toys and cartoon series. I have no recollection how or why DC Comics acquired the comics rights but it was handed to Mike Gold shortly after he arrived on staff. He tapped the versatile Mike Fleisher as the writer, helping burn off contractual obligations. Better, he assigned the artwork to Curt Swan who needed something regular to produce after losing the Superman assignments. Inking was Kurt Schaffenberger so at least it looked good. I helped Mike get the series up and running then edited it a few issues before I handed it off to Mike Carlin to wrap up.

I never played with the toys or watched the cartoon, but thanks to Shout! Factory that can be rectified as seen in the following press release:

This Summer, loyal fans and collectors can finally bring home one of the most enduring animated adventures from the 80’s when the long-awaited M.A.S.K.: The Complete Original Series DVD box set debuts nationwide on August 9, 2011 from Shout! Factory, incollaboration with FremantleMedia Enterprises. Poised to attract an audience of kids, young adults and parents who grew up with this animated series, this 12-DVD box set contains all 65 action-packed episodes – known to fans as the original series aired in 1985, as well as insightful bonus features.  A must-have for collectors to complete their pop culture video library, M.A.S.K.: The Complete Original Series is available for pre-order now from Amazon.com and major retailers. (more…)

Superman The Complete Anthology

It’s interesting to watch how time and again, writers, artists, moviemakers, and studio executives struggle to find ways to adapt the very first comic book super-hero. Superman was something readers (and rival publishers) had never seen before, and he served as the template for the heroic fantasy that followed these last seven decades. When you have powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, you need visionaries to bring the character from the printed page to other media. Robert Maxwell figured out how to do that with the popular radio serial. In fact, Maxwell came up with various characters and concepts that seeped into the comics, a symbiosis that made both stronger.

I was given to considering Superman in his many forms when the eight-disc Superman The Complete Anthology Blu-ray set arrived for review. Warner Home Video has taken all the previous versions and spruced them up a bit, added some new features, and placed them in a handsome box. Despite the uneven content, this is a must-have for fans.

When the Fleischer brothers got a chance to animate the Man of Steel, they set the standard that all other animators have emulated or strived to match. It certainly raised the bar when Superman came to the movie serials, with Kirk Allyn looking the part but the low budget and low-tech kept his feats to the above-average, not super-human. Things got somewhat better with the George Reeve television series of the 1950s, imprinting the archetype on two generations of television watchers and comics readers. Again, Maxwell receives credit for his serious translation to the half hour demands of syndicated television before he left and it got dumbed down in subsequent seasons. (more…)

John Callahan: 1951-2010

John Callahan: 1951-2010

For those who think the cartoons in the pages of Playboy or Hustler are racy, or the cartoon cavalcade of Seth MacFarlane pushes the boundaries of taste… sit down, and get something cold to drink. Last week, the world lost John Callahan, taboo cartoonist extraordinaire. Callahan, a quadriplegic since a car accident at 21, turned to cartooning to share his worldview. By clasping a pen between his two hands (akin to a “praying” pose, if you will) John spent his years sharing his darkly funny worldview with the public at large.

Callahan was an original voice in his oddly-drawn world. His cartoons were dark, and funny. For those who are familiar with the webcomic The Parking Lot Is Full, or finds Family Guy’s “Prom Night Dumpster Baby” song to be hilarious… know now that this godfather to that raunch has passed.

While his cartoons were shown in local Portland papers, where John was considered an often seen man-about-town, he was a varied artist at heart. He wrote his own “quasi-memoir”, Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up? His songwriting skills led him to record an album in 2006, Purple Winos In the Rain. In addition to this, Callahan’s cartoons became the basis for a pair of animated series, Nickelodeon’s Pelswic, and the Canadian-Australian Quads. Quads retains Callahan’s more darkly twinged humor.

Feel free to take a look at Callahan’s website, which includes both raving good reviews, as well as hate mail, and the subsequent store, where you can purchase some his wickedly funny cartoons. And as a treat, enjoy John’s uke and harmonica twinged tune…Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel.

Peter Keefe, 1953-2010

Peter Keefe, 1953-2010

Peter Keefe, creator of the 80’s hit sensation Voltron, passed away May 27th, 2010. His brother Chris Keefe had said his brother passed away due to complications from throat cancer. In additional to his brothers Chris and Tony, Mr. Keefe is survived
by his wife, Pamela Mills Keefe, a stepson, James Mills; his mother, Anne Keefe,and three sisters, Lisa Keefe Updaw, Mollie Keefe
Jones, and Kitty Keefe of Cleveland.

Keefe created Voltron by way of licensing Japanese cartoons “Beast King Go-Lion” and “Armored Fleet Dairugger
XV,” which he discovered in 1983 at a merchandise licensing convention
in Japan. Give credit where it’s due kiddos. Keefe’s splicing of show content, and creating “western friendly” plot helped Americanize Voltron as the predecessor to the eventual “Power Rangers” empire in the 1990s. Keefe was said to “live and breathe Voltron”, taking over the reigns for several other iterations of the lion-led animated super-team after the well of Japanese stock footage ran dry.

After “Voltron,” Mr. Keefe continued to create television shows, including Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Denver the Last Dinosaur, Widget the World Watcher, and The Mr. Bogus Show. He was working on “Z-Force”, another cartoon at the time of his passing. Sadly, he wasn’t part of the production team for the forthcoming “Voltron Force” set to debut on Nicktoons later in the fall.

I’ll add on a personal note that Voltron was easily the first cartoon that resonated with me as a child growing up in the 80’s. While the plot was thin and repetitive (we get it, just form the giant robot already, and save the day already!) the show holds a soft spot in my heart. And at only 57 years old, it would seem Mr. Keefe should have had more time to help bring his vision to the airwaves. Another loss to the community of creators. Fellow Voltron lovers, place your lions at half attack mode in honor of the man who gave us the Defender of the Universe.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Ultraforce

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Ultraforce

It’s personal history time folks. This is 100% guilty pleasure from me to you. Ultraforce was the cartoon that led me to my love of comics. You see I saw this cartoon, and days later, my best friend (Unshaven Comics’ own Matt Wright) bought me issue 1 from the back issues at our local comic shop. Thinking that I’d been given a rare gem, I reveled in owning it; And soon thereafter purchased a good chunk of the Malibu comic backlog. All because of this little lost toon.

It only made it 10 or so episodes on syndicated stations. And yes, I know now that these “Original Heroes” (or “Ultras” as they were referred to) were simply allegories for far more popular characters. But hey, based on this opening sequence how could you not love it? From the “swiped directly from the X-Men Cartoon” montage of each character leaping mightily from his or her own nameplate, to the “burst from random building to show your evilness” villain rolecall… You could tell this was a masterpiece in the making. And bonus! This clip gives you a little taste of Prime, Hardcase, and Marvel’s Deathlok some evil mechanical guy!

Monday Mix-Up: Common People, the Star Trek Slashup.

Monday Mix-Up: Common People, the Star Trek Slashup.

Back when anything popular would eventually end up as a cartoon, Star Trek’s original voyage became a cult cartoon classic back in the day. And we all know when it ended, William Shatner broke free of the constraints of over-acting he was tied to. He gave birth to a new form of music. Who needs melody Nimoy? The Legend of Bilbo Baggins? Feh! It’s not hip. Not like Billy’s rendition of “Common People”. Don’t believe me? You will. It’s the Star Trek cartoon Slashup of William’s Shatner’s “Common People”.

Set your phasers to awesome. Enjoy!

Plenty To Do At This Year’s MoCCA Festival!

Plenty To Do At This Year’s MoCCA Festival!

Today and tomorrow, you and your loved ones can have a mighty good time at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s annual festival! This year’s festivities include an amazing array of panels and programs to tickle the fancy of plenty of comic, sci-fi, and cartoon fans alike. With a gaggle of exhibitors, and professionals there to sign all your ebay-able wares, there’s plenty for you to do! Highlights include:

Saturday, April 10th
11:30 AM Titans of Comics: Living Cartooning Legends with Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, Gahan Wilson and Danny Fingeroth!

2:00  PM The Art of the Superhero: When Singular Vision Meets Popular Mythology with Paul Pope, Jaime Hernandez, Frank Miller, Kyle Baker and Dean Haspiel!

5:15  PM The MoCCA Live Strip Show: Actors Perform Indie Funnies Featuring the art of: R. Sikoryak, Michael Kupperman, Kim Deitch, Gabrielle Bell, and Emily Flake with the voice talents of Sam Seder, Sara Benincasa and Jon Glaser!

Sunday, April 11th
10:30 AM  How To Create A Cartoon Character with Rick Parker
In this workshop for kids of all ages, Rick Parker (Pekar Project, Beavis & Butthead, Dead Boy) will show you how to create your own cartoon character from scratch, in one hour and that if you can draw one character, you can draw them all!

11:30 AM James Sturm and Paul Karasik in Conversation

3:15 PM A Scandinavian Comics Primer with Johannes Klennell (Sweden, Galago), Mats (Sweden, Galago), Espen Holtestaul (Norway), Ville Hänninen (Finland) and Henrik Rehr (Denmark) moderated by Shannon O’Leary.

For complete show listings, admission and ticket info, and more… click here to visit the MoCCA Festival Homepage!

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Chuck Norris Karate Kommando Kartoon

Saturday Morning Cartoons: The Chuck Norris Karate Kommando Kartoon

I know we’ve shared some “funny” versions of your favorite cartoon shows in the past, but folks, today is not about jokes. It’s about roundhouse kicks to the face. It’s about flying fists of justice. It’s about sumo-wrestlers and kids who shout “Too Much!”. It’s about a guy named “Super Ninja” voiced by someone who sounds a bit like Cobra Commander. This morning, ComicMix is proud forced scared to honored to present a cartoon so good, it only needed to be on for 5 episodes.

Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos, the cartoon so good that it caused the Challenge of the Go-Bots to become the Transformers, and He-Man to become Sheera.

Happy 69th birthday, Bugs Bunny!

Happy 69th birthday, Bugs Bunny!

On this day in 1940, A Wild Hare was released in theaters, which was written by Rich Hogan, animated by Virgil Ross, and directed by Tex Avery. It was in this cartoon that Bugs Bunny first emerged from his rabbit hole to ask Elmer Fudd, now a hunter, “What’s up, Doc?” It was also the first meeting of the two characters, and the first cartoon where Mel Blanc uses the version of Bugs voice that would become famous worldwide.

The film would go on to get an Academy Award nomination for best short film, alongside Puss Gets The Boot, which introduced Tom and Jerry. Both lost to Citizen Kane.