Monday, September 15, 2014

Cartoon Sidekicks (or the Big Dumb Buddies who take all the abuse)

This is an addendum to the horse and rider entry. Plus I'm feeling nostalgic again.

I've also noticed the design elements such as the differences in sizes, shapes and height. Plus the different color scheme of the characters, and how they relate to each other. Most sidekicks seem to have less detail as well.

(Credits going clockwise) Super Chicken and Fred (by Jay Ward and Bill Scott); Beany and Cecil created by Bob Clampett, Tom Terrific created by Gene Deitch, and Rocky and Bullwinkle (Jay Ward and Bill Scott again).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cartoon Horse and rider - Wander Over Yonder

I've become a big fan of Wander Over Yonder. and noticed over the years how the cowboy, or adventurer theme comes back to TV animation every now and then.

Wander Over Yonder seems to have some roots in these old shows.
Wander is the hippie-cowboy who rides his alien "Zbornak" named Sylvia.
Sylvia serves as his horse.
In most of these shows, the horse is very often the reluctant companion,
or, after a misadventure, is the one who usually says "I told you so."

(copyrights clockwise from upper left: Terrytoons, Filmation, Jay Ward Productions, & Disney)

Starting in the upper left, we have The Adventures of Lariat Sam from Terrytoons in the early 1960's. Lariat Sam was produced by Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). Lariat Sam's horse was Tippy Toes, a fussy horse who wore a bowler hat with a white dickie and bow-tie. While Lariat Sam relied on his lasso instead of a gun, Tippy Toes often took the brunt of the jokes in the show's physical humor.

Then in the 1980's, there was BraveStarr with his cyberhorse 30-30 by Filmation. 30-30 could use his bionic limbs to transform from a four legged horse to a person that stood upright. 30-30 was large, strong, had a short temper, liked a good scrap, and seemed to be a weapons expert. (He even talked to his gun "Mary Jane" in one episode.) But it was BraveStarr who saved the day in overcoming the villians with the right amount of reasoning, insight and directed power. 30-30's direct confrontations with opponents never seemed to end well.

Going back to the 60's, there was Dudley Do-Right. As a Mountie in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Dudley was far from being the sharpest knife in the drawer. His horse, simply called "Horse", was the only one to notice when things were going wrong. Horse was also the only cartoon horse that I know of who could not speak.

Which brings us back to Wander Over Yonder. Wander is a good-natured alien meddler who travels from planet to planet with his best friend Sylvia, who also happens to be his "Sapient Steed".

Sylvia is the more grounded "straight man" to Wander, and the voice of reason in contrast to his impulsive need to bring help and fun across the entire galaxy. She also gets more than her fair share of physical punishment from their enemies, and just by trying to keep Wander out of trouble. It's amazing she still stays with Wander with all the abuse she has to put up with.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Another show that was kind of obscure was Luno the White Stallion: I actually only saw one episode while on a car trip to Florida while passing through Atlanta. From then, I was hooked. It took me years to find some episodes on VHS. Luno was another version of Pegasus that symbolized travel, adventure, and magic. Luno and Tim could fly back in time to classic storybook adventures.

(original copyright Terrytoons)

Hey, the Aquabats liked him enough to put him in a song:

While not a TV show,  I have to bring up the Magic Pony by Soyuzmultfilm. CFPL TV 10 in London, Canada would drift over Lake Erie to northeast Ohio. The CBC brought me an extra range of children's shows in addition to the U.S. networks in the 1960's.

 (copyright Soyuzmultfilm)

To my knowledge, the Magic Pony was never shown, but I loved the full animation Soyuzmultfilm put out. The boy in this story learns the dangers in telling tall stories, and gets more than he bargained for when he accidentally captures the queen of the magic horses.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Internet Slowdown Weds. Sept. 10th

On Wednesday, September 10th, some websites will have the slowly turning "Wheel of Death" to give us a taste of what a two tiered, pay to play internet would look like.

Okay, I'm putting my cards on the table. Without net neutrality, the world wide web will end up like cable TV. Overpriced and useless. Another intrusive, domineering force trying to sell us junk.

In short, the big guys would get the fast lanes, while the rest of us will have to wait... And wait.
And perhaps, even be censored by an even bigger "Big Brother".

Keep emailing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and President Obama to keep a free and open internet.

Plus, the ads get slowed down. That makes us wait, and it makes the advertisers look worse. 

Friday, September 05, 2014

Captain Universe - Sylvia Wander Over Yonder

More mashup craziness. Obviously, I'm a big fan of Wander over Yonder, and I can't resist putting Sylvia in these nutty, uncomfortable situations. That's what she's there for, right? Sylvia is tapped by the Uni -Power (Enigma Force?) to become Captain Universe!

After seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I couldn't resist this:

(copyright Marvel/Disney, of all things)
Imagine all the butts she could kick now. But the Uni-Power will probably serve her only to save Wander, and any other bystanders who are in immediate danger. I want to give Sylvia her shining moment... And then bring her back down to earth.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2

Just my suggestions for the next movie's Awesome Mix Vol. 2:

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

1. Motherlode - When I Die
2. The Stampeders - Sweet City Woman
3. Pure Prairie League -Amie
4. Rick Derringer - Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo
5. Edgar Winter Group- Free Ride
6. ELO - Twilight

7. David Bowie - Look back in Anger (1979, might be too late in their timeline) or, Suffragette city 1972

8. Looking glass - Brandi you're a fine girl

9. Sugarloaf - Green Eyed Lady - How's that for Gamora?

10. Steely Dan - ?
11. Marshall Tucker Band? Heard it in a love song

We have to remember that this tape was put together by Star-Lord's mother, so the songs would stay on the fun and light side. I'm still up in the air about these:

The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone (referring to Star Lord's real father)
The O'Jays - Back Stabbers
The Allman Brothers Band?
Led Zepplin?

Guardians of the Galaxy - Film References Part 1

Guardians of the Galaxy was a nice treat for a busy summer this year. I almost felt like I was watching the original Star Wars for the first time. Nice balance between action and humor. And experience helped me notice quite a few references to other classic movies. These were deliberate tributes, I believe. Such as the classic prison line-up shot:

(All images copyright Marvel/Disney, unless otherwise noted.)

"The Usual Suspects"...

...which comes from classic Film Noir.

(original copyright Bad Hat Harry Productions, Blue Parrot, 
Spelling Films International, Gramercy Pictures, and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment)

Star-Lord, played by Chris Platt, gives us a misfit, wise-guy hero who is still lovable. He's sort of a jerk, but he grows on you the way Han Solo did. Peter Quill/ Star-Lord has the same identity/disrespect issues that Mister Furious (Ben Stiller) had in Mystery Men. His first opponents respond with "You're who?" or the "I don't care” attitude.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark homage didn't register with me. The scene went by too quickly. Star-Lord didn't have too much trouble getting the Orb out of it's force field container, and then he seemed to give up to easily when confronted by Korath The Pursuer.

(copyright Universal)

Neither guy gets the respect he demands. Rodney Dangerfield, look out!

Another movie reference in Guardians gives us the classic "Walk" shot...

Mystery Men had theirs...

(copyright Universal)

Which was a play off of The Magnificent Seven...

(original copyright The Mirisch Company/Alpha Production)

Which in turn was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai.

(original copyright Toho Productions)

The bigger theme was the oddball, rag-tag fighters coming together for a common cause. The obvious example was the original Star Wars:

Nothing new under the sun, or the galaxy for that matter.

I don't mean to be critical here, but they may have been trying to squeeze in too much.

In Independence Day we have the giant starship descending on the planet, and the high-tech fighters engaged in a frantic dog fight over the city...

 And the similar scenes with Ronan's ship.

The Abyss: Maybe I'm reaching here, but the way Star-Lord rescues Gamora seems like a switch on Ed Harris' Bud Brigman's decision to let his ex-wife Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) deliberately drown in hopes that she can be revived later:

In Guardians it's sort of the reverse: Peter Quill/ Star-Lord puts his space helmet/ mask on Gamora to save her life, without regard as to how long he can withstand the lack of air in space.
Korath The Pursuer
Korath The Pursuer

Coming up next: Vin Diesel's Groot as compared to his Iron Giant, alien abduction themes, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Dirty Dozen - misfits sent on suicide mission.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - original comics

Finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a great, fun action movie. (Just don't try to sit back and think.) I was a little leery of how the Marvel superhero movies tinker, or mostly just steamroller over their original comics' history. But they did do justice to some old childhood friends. Seeing all these heroes and villains was almost like a family reunion.

Wow, where to start? I still have the Marvel Preview 11 Star-Lord graphic novel from 1977.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

This comic blew me away. Except for his living starship, Star Lord was a loner, driven by angst over his mother's murder by aliens. I had seen the earlier Star-Lord black and white comics, but the art and story turned me off. Chris Claremont and John Byrne must have known the original Star Wars was on the way, so they carved out this jewel for Marvel. In Marvel Preview 11, Star Lord eventually picks up some allies and discovers his real father was the Emperor of the galaxy.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge at Marvel, and Star-Lord has been revamped over the years. He had gone from being a kick-ass cosmic vigilante to becoming a beat up loser. For superhero movies, being part of a team seems to be a big selling point these days. So, Star-Lord gets thrown in with a group of misfits:

Gamora created by Jim Starlin

Originally trained by the master villain Thanos, Gamora is still green, and deadly enough to give even Star-Lord a hard time in a fight. But she is still one of the underdogs, and has a uphill battle all the way.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Drax the Destroyer, also created by Jim Starlin

Drax used to have a lot more cosmic power, and he used to be green. In the Captain Marvel comics, he turned out to be more like Thanos' punching bag. In the film, he remains this noble, stoic character, but he keeps getting pulverized by Ronan the Accuser. I wish they could have stayed more faithful to his original look. Fortunately, Jim Starlin got a screen credit for creating Drax, Gamora and Thanos too.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Rocket Raccoon created by Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Rocket used to have other animal pals that had much more lighthearted adventures. I guess the Beatles never complained. I still have this in my parents' attic somewhere.

Which leaves us with Groot, created by Jack Kirby.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

I thought Groot was something they made up just for the movie, but he turned out to be "real". Talk about making Mulligan's stew with leftovers, but it works. "GotG" may be the biggest hit of the year. Now I'm trying to imagine these characters working together in their original forms. 

But I never got into the original Guardians of the Galaxy comic. This movie is a far cry from the original comic, and I used to get them confused with the Guardians of the Universe from Green Lantern. Some geek I am.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Good thing Marvel held on to this copyright. It must be a nerve wracking experience to decide which property will take off and become a box office blockbuster. The alien archer Yondu got quite an overhaul, going from a superhero to an outlaw leader of a group of "ravagers".

* * * * *

 Bring on the Bad Guys. To my knowledge, Ronan and these characters never crossed paths, at least in the "Bronze Age" of comics.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)
 Special guest villain - Ronan the Accuser.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)
Extra special guest villain - Thanos!

Forty years ago, I could not  have imagined movies like this. The special effects technology simply did not exist. And audiences would have laughed... or yawned at actors running around in tights!
But someone had the drive to put out this film. I haven't enjoyed a movie like this in a long time.