Friday, May 18, 2012

I'd Like Two Helpings of the Comic, But Hold the Television Show...

Doug:  Everyone who's been around here for some time knows that Karen and I are huge fans of TwoMorrows' Publications Back Issue! magazine, and of course that Karen's been published between those covers on multiple occasions.  While I'd been waiting anxiously for this month's Avengers extravaganza to arrive on my doorstep (which it did, yesterday), I've been looking at, and neglecting, last month's issue about licensed comics.  There are extensive retrospectives on DC's and Marvel's licensing of the Burroughs stable of characters and Indiana Jones in comics, but the major part of the magazine is an article on 25 years of Star Wars at Dark Horse Comics.  Which brings me to today's point -- Do you have characters you love in one medium, but there's just never been any resonation in other mediums?

For example, I really dig Star Wars, but I've not ventured into any of the novels or comics, and while I intended to watch Cartoon Network's Clone Wars I never have.  Similarly, I've read a few Marvel novels -- notably in the Bronze Age -- but don't seek those out.  However, if I could have afforded it back in the day, I'd have eaten up the Planet of the Apes B&W magazine!  But, I've not been interested in the vast amount of POTA comics that have stocked the shelves over the past 20 years.

Where are your limits for your favorite characters, films, or television shows?  Are there things you really like in one format but don't care for in others?  Or conversely, are there pop culture icons that you can't get enough of, regardless of the format?  Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Novelisations of comics are the epitome of missing the point. Or maybe the epitome of just trying to cash in on a property. As Gil Kane said, people buy comics primarily for the art. Perhaps not necessarily true of the BAB’ers and similar cognoscenti, but true of the average reader.

The Apes are a strange one. As the movies went along, they got more low budget and less interesting and yet they made more & more money from the paraphernalia even as the box office reduced.

The only thing I can think of from my childhood that I liked in every format was Captain Scarlet. I loved the puppet show, I loved the models and toys, the Action Man sized figures (I guess that would be GI Joe to you colonials.... :0) ) and some years ago Anderson made a CGI update of it which looked superb at the time. Unfortunately the way it was shown in the UK (chopped up in chunks in a kid’s TV Saturday morning show) completely butchered it and I don’t think it’s even been shown in North America.

When they said they were showing Captain Scarlet I was delighted, then I realised it was an update and I was disappointed. For about 12 seconds. Then my mouth fell open. It’s probably aged badly by now, but at the time....well, remember the first time you saw Toy Story?


david_b said...

The novel adaptation series for the Galactica stories back in the late 70s/early 80s were good, much better than the SW books. I never liked any movie or TV adaptations in comics, the only one close was Morrow's b&w Space:1999 stories perhaps.

Per the Trek:TAS pic, I've always been a big fan of TAS as a 'fourth season' of the original series. Just hearing the voices together was always pretty cool, especially knowing it was only a couple of years after the last live episode was filmed. I actually prefer it to watching several of the weakest live episodes of the 3rd Season. Also enjoyed the Alan Dean Foster TAS adaptations perhaps more so, more so than James Blish's books.

Seeing that for most in our generation, the Batman 60s series tidal-waved a huge interest in the comics industry at that time, it's easy to love that show, despite it's weaknesses. At that time, I felt the show remained more entertaining than the actual comics, until Neal Adams arrived and really pushed Batman art forward dramatically.

As I've mentioned several times, never been a huge fan of 70s animated adaptations of comic heroes, preferring the Aquaman/Jonny Quest/Marvel Superhero cartoons of the 60s more. Into the 90s, the Batman:TAS still remains the coolest version of Batman to this day.

Doug said...

As long as we're talking licensed properties, I'm seeing around the blogosphere that noted Conan inker/penciller Ernie Chan has passed. We've seen his work only a time or two here on the BAB, but I for one can tell you that I always appreciated the depth Chan brought to an illustration. Perhaps as overpowering as Joe Sinnott, Chan nonetheless brought a professionalism and distinction to the work he touched.


dbutler16 said...

I loved, and still love Star Wars. I saw the movies every chance I got, I had all of the action figures and trading cards, but for some reason, I never got into the comics. I guess I was strictly a superhero guy when it came to comics. I have maybe 5 issues of Star Wars. I did collect a few Star Trek comics, though, including some wonderful Whitmans from the 70s.

I LOVE Star Trek: TAS. Very well done, with most of the live action show cast returning for the voices. I think they even had some of the writers from the live action show. I also love the fact that they actually had some alien crew members aboard the enterprise.

Edo Bosnar said...

For me, Star Trek is something I exclusively enjoy watching on a screen, whether live action or animated. I never, ever read any of the Trek novels, and the only one I would consider reading (if I stumble onto a really cheap copy in a used bookstore) is "Spock Must Die" - simply because it's written by James Blish, who's otherwise a top-notch SF writer. Until a few years ago, I also avoided any and all Trek comics, but then I gave those IDW minis done by Byrne a try and found them really quite enjoyable. However, beyond Byrne's stuff, I still refuse to read any of the other comic adaptations.
As for Richard's speculation about those novelizations, I'm pretty sure it was simply a matter of cashing-in; I truly doubt anyone who was not already a comic fan would have picked one of those up. At the time I read 3 or 4 of the ones published by Marvel, and liked them well enough. However, since they were usually written by one of Marvel's staff writers, I remember wondering even then why the stories weren't just used as scripts for an annual, special or something (the only one I remember being used in this way was Shooter's Ultron story, "This Evil Undying" in Avengers #201-202).

And yes, I saw the news about Chan's passing this morning. It's really quite sad news, and so soon after De Zuniga's death. Chan did so much quality work and really left a mark on Bronze Age comics both at Marvel and DC.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The only comic featuring a character from a licensed property that I ever bought regularly was Doctor Who. In the 80s Marvel reprinted the UK comics featuring the good Doctor.

Why did I guy them? I'm not sure. I remember the art in a lot of them was done by Dave Gibbons, so that didn't hurt.

Maybe it also had something to do with the Doctor, as much as I liked him, having a sub-par series in terms of special effects and production values, (at least compared to, say, Star Wars). The comics allowed me to see him in adventures where that wasn't an issue.

As for the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and other licensed properties, my impression was generally that they were handed off to second- and third-rate talent and coasted on the popularity of the parent film, TV series or whatever. I bought a handful of issues, was usually unimpressed and never followed them.

david_b said...

Anyone here ever by the paperback novelizations of comics (or original stories), like the Spiderman, Daredevil or Batman books..?

I've paged through them in bookstores, but they didn't look all that exciting with a couple hundred pages of text and no art.

Karen said...

Speaking of Star Trek novels (as Edo was), I've read a handful and most were forgettable. The one that stands out is The Final Reflection by John Ford. It looked at Klingon culture long before Klingons became fashionable, and presented ideas that I think were much more interesting than what eventually came out of the various TV shows and movies.


Edo Bosnar said...

I just thought of one example of a licensed comic that was frankly better than the original product was Marvel's Battlestar Galactica, especially most of the latter half of the series when Simonson was doing most of the art.
Also, I don't really agree with Inkstained's assessment of the talent working on licensed properties - I also found a lot of the material hit or miss, but I'd hardly consider Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin or Archie Goodwin (on Star Wars) or Byrne, David Michelinie, etc. (on Indiana Jones) "second- or third-rate."

Doug said...

Just to play devil's advocate with no real attachment at all --

Herb Trimpe on Godzilla would qualify as second-rate in my book.


Anonymous said...

I had the paperback novelization of the 1966 Batman movie. It was OK, I guess. (Another example of "that's all we had back then.") A classmate in 5th grade had Ted White's Captain America novel and, IIRC, a novelization of the Avengers (I mean the Marvel Comics super hero team, although there were also paperbacks based on the British TV show). He thought they were brilliant, but then, he was the original Marvel Zombie and would have collected Brother Power the Geek if Marvel had published it.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the James Blish Star Trek books, including "Spock Must Die," in the bargain bins at a local second-hand book store. So I assume the demand is low and it shouldn't be hard to find a "really cheap copy." The novel uses characters from "Errand of Mercy" and "The Trouble with Tribbles." What happens to the Klingons in it was contradicted by the movies and later TV series, so I guess it is not considered canon.

Edo Bosnar said...

All right, Doug, I'll grant you the point about Godzilla and Trimpe...

Since david_b asked about the novels, I did a Google search to jog my memory, and specifically remember that I had "Captain America: Holocaust for Hire," "Iron Man: And Call My Killer ... Modok!" and "The Marvel Super-heroes" which actually consisted of four novellas featuring the Hulk, Daredevil, the X-men and Avengers (the Ultron story I mentioned). One thing I recall about all of them is that there was an attempt for them to be a little more "adult" than the comics, with slightly racier romance scenes and dialogue that was a bit "grittier" than the comics of the time.

Doug said...

I, too, have several of those Marvel novels. I have the Avengers one I pictured, and recall that it was pretty good. The Marvel Super-Heroes one that Edo references was good as well -- and as he commented, in many cases the plots were pretty true to four-color adventures published elsewhere. I'm pretty sure I have an FF one with Dr. Doom. Overall, they were fun -- my mom probably thought I was making better use of my reading time!


J.A. Morris said...

Never read any of the Trek novels, old or new. My wife says some of Peter David's Trek books are good, so I'll probably read one, or listen to them as audio books if nothing else.
Never read any novels that adapt comic stories. What's the point of 'Death Of Superman-The Novel'? A co-worker has some of the Marvel novels from the 70s, I may borrow one sometime, but I haven't read any yet.
I think 'Star Wars' works in just about any medium, but I'm generally not interested in the Dark Horse comics unless they include Han,Leia,Luke and Chewie. I'm not interested in characters from the prequels or stories set 100 years after 'Return Of The Jedi'.
I enjoy 'Clone Wars' more than the recent prequel movies.
I read the "Thrawn" trilogy of Star Wars novels written by Timothy Zahn and I still think they're great. The comic book adaptation of that was pretty good too.

But I've found other Star Wars novels to be boring and predictable. The authors seem determined to out-do the movies. There always seems to be a super-weapon that may be "more powerful than the Death Star!". Gets old.

I thought some of the 80s DC Star Trek comics were good. I thought it was cool that characters from TAS like M'ress and Arex. It somehow made them more canonical in my eyes.

I guess it comes down to how much you love something and how badly you need to see/read more about the characters.

Dougie said...

Early 80s ST novel The Entropy Effect and the novelization of The Wrath of Khan made a big impression on me in my late teens. Actually they were full of "hurt/comfort" shipping that would thrill fans of Claremont and Wolfman.

Dr Who comics from IDW have been very disappointing whereas the strips in Dr Who Magazine have been of a high quality for over a decade.

dbutler16 said...

Anybody have those Star Trek photo novels? I only have a few, but I used to love them. Great idea, I think.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the photo novels at the time, but, once again, it may be a case of that-was-all-we-had-back-then. Advances in technology (VHS, then DVD, then Blu Ray) have made novelizations and comic book adaptations obsolete. Today, you don't buy an adaptation, you can buy the movie or TV show itself.

Doug said...

Did anyone out there have a collection of the Power Records 45 rpms that came with a comic book (that was usually chopped up from an original to fit into the desired page allotment)?


Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, yes - I had Spider-man: Invasion of the Dragon Men, the Batman one with the Man-bat story (art by Neal Adams) and an LP featuring three or four of the Marvel stories but that did not come with any booklets. Also had this odd one featuring a character called "Holo-man," which ended in a cliffhanger - as far as I know, there was never a sequel.

Redartz said...

Doug- I had the Man-Thing Power record. It featured the great clown story from issue #5; it was rather fun to read and listen along. Of course, this book also featured a cliffhanger ending, which was rescripted rather awkwardly...

J.A. Morris said...

I had the Power Record that featured Cap & Falcon vs. Phoenix(who later became Baron Zemo #2). It had a rather dark ending(Zemo "dies")for a childrens' record.

And this Power record was an original story, anyone remember this?

I also had the Spider-Man fighting the Man-Wolf. They were all we had!

Anonymous said...

I still have a stack of Star Wars Marvel comics from the 70s where Luke is always dressed in his farmboy outfit and Leia is in her white gown and those infamous double hair buns everywhere they went! Of course this series was created between the first film and Empire Strikes Back so I guess that's all the writers and artists had to work with at the time.

The Star Trek books varied widely in their quality depending on the writer. The films (all even numbered ones!) were generally good - I prefer TOS above all later series.

The Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett is IMHO the definitive Holmes despite the fine work of Downey Jr & Cumberbatch. Johnny Lee Miller? I'll wait and see before judging that one.

As for most Marvel properties, the comics are the best while some (not all) of the films were good.

- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

Fred W. Hill said...

The first comics novels I read were the Little Big Books takes on the Fantastic Four and BatMan, which I got when I was around 8 or 9 and I thought were pretty lame. In the novels, Johnny Storm couldn't fly and BatMan's villain was the Cheetah, whose super speed was fueled by peanut butter!
Much later I did read a few of the late '70s Marvel novels, including the Cap story, Holocaust for Hire, and one each for the FF & Spider-Man. They were far better than the LBB's (albeit that's not saying much!) and I enjoyed them, but, yeah, when it comes to reading about the exploits of colorfully costumed characters, the art is a major factor.
In a twisted example, I love the Hitchhiker of the Galaxy series in both the novel and BBC TV versions (never listened to the entire BBC radio version) but the comics and film adaptations didn't do much for me.
Then there's the example of the Man-Thing and Howard the Duck -- the Gerber-scribed comics are among my most favorite Bronze Age four-color goodies, but the movies based on them were atrocious.

Rip Jagger said...

This applies to new comics only, but I don't bother getting the comics which appear when a big movie breaks, such as the prequel comics which have been hitting the stands before the Avengers flick. I want a movie to stand on its own, so I don't think I should have to own read anything else.

The recent Star Trek reboot was great, but I have to say the exposition about Nero and the destruction of the Romulan homeworld was rushed and in fact had its true story told in comics which preceded the movie. That's a cheat I can do without.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

the choose your oen adventure type books with marvel heroes were pretty fun

make mine marvel

dbutler16 said...

I recently bought the TPB on the Marvel Star Wars comics, and one neat thing for the ones which adapt the movies is getting to see some of the deleted scenes in the comics, such as Tosche Station and the reunion with Biggs.
However, that comic was plagued by bad art throughout most of its run, IMHO.

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