Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy 70th Birthday Superman!

Since I'm still in a comic book mood, I'll keep the theme going. In looking for comic book blogs, I came across one called Comic Book Coverage, authored by Mark Engblom, a great place to read about classic Marvel and DC comics. Mark pointed out something I was completely (and shamefully) unaware of: this month marks the 70th anniversary of the first appearance of Superman! Superman is the prototype for all modern day superheroes, so for a supposed comic book fan like me to miss acknowledging this event would be a crime. Therefore, move faster than a speeding bullet to the following destinations!

First off, there's the aforementioned Comics Coverage blog, which is celebrating Superman@70. It's a monthlong celebration of all things Superman, with a Superman related post every day in June: http://comicscoverage.typepad.com/.

Another fantastic place for Superman fans is the Superman Homepage, a tribute site that's been existence since 1994 (practically a century in Internet years). Anything and everything you would possibly want to know about Supes is right here, including some episodes of the legendary Superman radio show, which was as much responsible for Superman's early success than the comic book was:
http://www.supermanhomepage.com/.

This week, June 12-15th, it's Superman Celebration in Metropolis (Illinois, that is), a big festival in honor of the big guy. Guests include Allison Mack of Smallville and Ned Beatty of the 1978 Superman movie! http://www.supermancelebration.net/

Would you like to read Action Comics #1, the comic that featured the first Superman story? Say no more, click here: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/actioncomics/cover.html.

Here is the first in a series of cartoons animated by the legendary Max Fleischer studios in the 1940s. They are amazing!



Of course, there is also the famous TV series starring the late George Reeves. Here is a compilation of his "greatest hits"--literally!



In 1966, writers Charles Strouse and Lee Adams created a Broadway musical called "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman," which turned out to be a flop, closing after 129 performances. The two creators would have much greater success years later with another Broadway comic adaptation--"Annie."

Here are clips from a 1975 TV presentation of the musical. This aired only once, at 11:30pm.







The 1960s also brought a new animated series of Superman, this time for TV courtesy of the (in)famous Filmation studios. Bud Collyer, the voice of Superman in the original Fleischer cartoons and the classic radio show, provided Superman's voice.



And of course:



Superman became animated once again for CBS in 1988, his 50th anniversary:



The producers of the blockbuster films also produced the syndicated exploits of Superboy in the late 80s; judging by the quality of episodes like this, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did:



ABC gave us "Lois & Clark" in the 1990s. The first two seasons were decent enough; seasons three and 4 sucked.



Kids WB gave us yet another animated Supes in the 1990s:



Finally, from October 2001 to today, there is the popular WB/CW program Smallville, which takes an unconventional look at Clark Kent's adolescence:



I'm sure I've only covered a sliver of what Superman stuff is out there. Log on to your favorite search engine and take a look for more. Up, up, and away!

I'll see you again midweek, when I'll showcase another comic book great. And just in time for his next Hollywood adventure. I'd better do it right, though. I don't want to make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

4 comments:

Karswell said...

Yeah, nothing beats those old Fleischer Superman cartoons... amazing they let those fall into the public domain too, but lucky for us as they'll be easily (and cheaply) available to buy everywhere until the end of time.

Phillyradiogeek said...

I have two CDs worth I bought at a dollar store. Can't beat that.

I believe all of this Superman material I posted is available on DVD; unfortunately, not necessarily at bargain prices.

Todd Mason said...

Brian, I remember that DVD, and those remarkably awful FRAIDY CAT cartoons they filled it out with.

The Fleischer cartoons were clearly influential on all the '90s-date WB cartoons of their DC characters.

Actually, though I haven't looked at the clip yet, SUPERBOY (which had two different versions for each season) wasn't Too shabby, often intentionally campy in the '60s BATMAN way and occsaionally actually clever. Thus, much easier for me to enjoy than, say, a certain Marvel film trilogy. But, then, these days, there are a lot of Marvel films going one way or the other, as good as IRONMAN and the second X-MEN films are.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Oh, I got rid of that terrible DVD with the FRAIDY CAT cartoons. I found two other discs at another dollar store that are nothing but Superman from beginning to end, and higher quality video to boot. I forgot about those FC atrocities. Perhaps I can find them on the 'Tube so I can share their awfulness with the world.

Speaking of Marvel films, watch for my next post tonight or tomorrow. I'm going to give a much-maligned Marvel film some deserved props.

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