Welcome readers to From Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays. To start off this week, as we know a week ago the major earthquake/tsunami hit Japan and this has effected thousands of people world wide, specifically there in Japan. Take a moment and help out the victims and their families in Japan by donating to the Red Cross, click on this link and help them out today. The images are heartbreaking and they need it over there.
This week here we are gonna look into the past at Marvel Comics’ Hook, the animated awesomeness of Thundarr, The Barbarian and a preview of the upcoming Peanuts graphic novel Boom! is using to launch their all-new all ages line Kaboom, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.
There are some things in comics I can explain why I love, like Spider-Ham or Space Ghost. Then there are other things where no matter how terrible they may seem, I still have an odd fondness. When I was growing up I wanted nothing to do with the Speilberg film Hook. I thought it looked stupid, I refused to go see it with my older brothers, I even complained when it was the toy in the Burger King Kid’s Club Meals. However, I don’t know why, I still somehow managed to purchase right off the newsstand and read all four issues of the Marvel Comics adaptation of the film. I could never explain why I never wanted anything to do with the film but loved the comics (maybe it was my love for comics; maybe something in my kid brain said this makes sense as a comic book but not as a film). So for kicks for this column, I went to my parents’ house and dug out of storage my 4-issue mini-series to re-read after all these years (as well as my Marvel Comics Toxic Crusaders comics, but we’ll get to that another day). If you are unfamiliar with the story, it’s the tale of an adult Peter Pan, who lives in the real world. Years have gone by and he has forgotten Neverland. While visiting the old woman Wendy in London, who took care of him growing up, he comes back to the house one night to find someone has kidnapped his children! Turns out it is Captain Hook, waiting all these years for revenge. With the help of Tinkerbell, Peter is taken back to Neverland where he regains his memory and powers, and with the help of the new lost boys, led by Rufio, duels his mortal enemy once again to save the day.
The immediate thing that draws me in now, and did as a child, are the covers of this mini-series, which are fantastic, colorful, and exciting (and oddly both the covers and artwork don’t really look like the actors in the movie; I’m wondering if there was some rights issues with likenesses). Writing wise it’s a pretty exact adaptation of the movie script, a little bit shorter, but if you love the story of the movie, you cannot go wrong here. The oddest thing about this adaptation, which may be one of the eccentric things that draws me to it, is the art keeps changing. Each issue is only about 20 pages long, but each issue has anywhere from 2 to 4 different people drawing it! The look is constantly changing, in some cases very noticeably, however on occasion we get a surprisingly good page layout and of course early-90s Marvel colors jumping off the page at us.
So who will like it? Well, if you’re a fan of Hook you can’t go wrong. Also if you are a fan of odd adaptations, with the constantly evolving artwork and characters that look nothing like their film likenesses, you can’t go wrong here. For the price it’ll cost you to dig up online or out of a back bin, I think it’s worth the small investment to satisfy your curiosity.
From 1980 to 1982 aired the best series to come out of Ruby Spears animation, and that was Thundarr, The Barbarian. Spawned from the mind of Steve Gerber, who created such off-beat characters for Marvel as Man-Thing, Son of Satan, and Howard The Duck, this TV series was amazingly cool and is fondly remembered by many. The story, which sounds similar to the classic Gold Key series Mighty Samson, tells of a post-apocalyptic future in a world populated by wizards, mutants, and science gone wrong. Out of all this chaos one man emerges named Thundarr! Wielding his powerful sun-sword, he travels with the sorceress Ariel and the mutant Ookla the Mok across the ruins of what used to be the United States, liberating people and saving the day. There are few shows that don’t have a bad episode, but honestly if you like the premise of the show, there is not one bad episode of Thundarr, The Barbarian to any viewer’s delight. The episodes are endlessly packed with wizards, rival barbarians, werewolves, giant monsters, savage desert races, super-powered mummies, and more. We even get a great time travel episode where they end up in the present (and humorously we get to see them deal with things like doorknobs and things they don’t use in the wrecked future). Extra coolness factor to this show is the design element, which two giants of comic books worked on. Alex Toth came in and designed the main three characters of Thundarr, Ariel, and Ookla. The other characters and worlds of the series were designed by Jack Kirby, which is really clear on some of the close-up shots. The fusion of these two giants gives the show a visual edge that appeals to all fans of their works. All 21 episodes are gold and I can’t write enough great things about this TV show; it should totally be the “your something to watch” this weekend. Thundarr, The Barbarian is a set that collects all 21 episodes on DVD from Warner Brothers’ Warner Archive DVD-on-demand web site (which I must say does quality DVD-on-demand).
Coming Soon: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown
So coming up at the end of this month, Boom! Studios launches their all ages line Kaboom with a brand new Peanuts graphic novel that ties in with the new Charlie Brown special coming to DVD, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. It’s looking pretty spiffy, with a story originally written by Charles Schulz himself, adapted by Craig Schulz and Stephan Pastis, with art by Bob Scott, Vicki Scott, and Ron Zorman. Here’s a preview of all the coolness:
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