Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, Batman!

Today marks the 75th anniversary of Batman, who first appeared in Detective Comics #27, which was published on March 30, 1939.  In his first appearance, in the story "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," Batman was not much more than a rip-off of the pulp character "The Phantom," but under the guidance of writer Bill Finger, as well as talented artists like Jerry Robinson, Dick Sprang, and many others, he quickly evolved into a full-fledged character in his own right, and is now the most popular superhero in comic book history.

For a fascinating history of the creation of Batman, I recommend you to head over to Robby Reed's Dial B for Blog for his three part series "The Secret origin of Batman."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Goodbye to Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Lorenzo Semple Jr. died this Friday of natural causes at the age of 91.  Mr. Semple was one of the main creative forces behind the scenes of the 1966 Batman TV series (also known as the greatest television series of all time).  He wrote the series bible, and he wrote or co-wrote 16 episodes of the series, and was the executive script consultant on the rest.

While his work on the Batman TV series alone is enough to make him a legend, he was also a respected screenwriter, and wrote the screenplay for Batman: The Movie, as well as a handful of cult classic film favorites of mine, such as Fathom (a groovy 1960s spy flick starring a bikini-clad Raquel Welch), Pretty Poison (Anthony Perkins' second coolest movie after Psycho) and 1980's colorful version of Flash Gordon.

Mr. Semple, your work on Batman had a profound and positive impact on me as a child, and still means a great deal to me as a grown man.  I will mourn your loss.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fresh Monkey Fiction's Amazing Heroes Action Figures

The folks at Fresh Monkey Fiction are gearing up for a new line of action figures that I'm pretty excited about.  The line is called "Amazing Heroes" and looks to be a double-dose of retro, featuring Golden Age comic book characters from the 1940s, done in the style of superhero action figures from the 1980s.  The figures are going to 4.5 inches tall, and the sculpts and articulation appear to be heavily inspired by Mattel's Secret Wars action figures, along with cloth capes that look straight out of Kenner's Super Powers line.  According to Fresh Monkey Fiction, "the plan is to match the "look and feel" of those 80s lines as much as we can, including the packaging."

Vintage Secret Wars and Super Powers Action Figures

Fresh Monkey Fiction are going to be revealing one figure a week for the next four weeks, beginning with the reveal of the first figure: "The Black Terror!"  The Black Terror has long been a favorite Golden Age comic character of mine, even without having read a lot of the comics, simply by virtue of his black costume, skull and bones emblem, and creepy name.  How can you not like that guy?
The Black Terror Action Figure

The other characters are described as "Man of Mystery," "Avenging Hero," and "Super Wizard."  I'm not sure who "Man of Mystery" or "Avenging Hero" will be, as those phrases could describe a lot of characters.  "Super Wizard," however, has got to be "Stardust the Super Wizard," who is one of the most wonderfully weird comic book heroes of all time.  Fletcher Hanks, his creator, was like some kind of mad genius and his comics are some of the most insane things ever committed to newsprint.  If you haven't read them yet, I highly recommend you check out the two collections of his comics that were published by Fantagraphics, "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!" and "You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!"

Be sure and check out Fresh Monkey Fiction's Facebook page to get more info on these toys and see what other characters will be revealed in the coming weeks.