Thursday, September 26, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

Doug:  Not a hoax!  Not an imaginary post!  This is the big one -- the one you've been waiting for!!  Well, at least it's a post a few of you have asked for -- today we're talking audio comics, radio shows, podcasts, etc.  Anything where our heroes or favorite characters were heard, but not seen in motion, is fair game today.

Doug:  Front and center, at least for this little fellow, are the Power Records.  I had several of these gems back in the early to mid-70s.  Some years ago I purchased the Fantastic Four comic/record that reprinted Fantastic Four #126.  I also picked up the Spider-Man outfit that reprinted Amazing Spider-Man #s 124-125 featuring the debut of the Man-Wolf!  I recall having several Planet of the Apes comics/records, as well as a few of the Marvel superheroes -- for the life of me I don't recall which ones though.  Little did I know, back when I had these book/records in the 70s, that the stories were often chopped up to meet the page count as handed down by the production company.  And how about the Spider-Man album, Rock Reflections of a Superhero?  Did any of you have that?

Doug:   Let's round this out with a discussion of radio shows, Bronze Age or older.  Personally, I've never listened to any of those, and I'm even today not a big podcast guy.  But for those of you who are, tell us why it's "your thing", what you like and don't like, and give us a few reminiscences on the Power Records!



Anonymous said...

I remember "Rock Reflections Of A Superhero" being advertised in UK Marvel in 1976 but I never bought it, one of the main reasons being that I didn't have a record player! At Easter 1981 BBC radio broadcast an adaptation of Star Wars( the '77 movie ) in 10 parts.

Anonymous said...

Cool topic! I had several of those Power Records - Cap, Hulk, Spidey...I think I had one or two of the Planet of the Apes as well.

I remember having a hard time getting past the fact that the voice of Spiderman was also Speed Racer. We've had much discussion here about how you "hear" certain characters in your head. Well, that one messed me up for a while.


Mike said...

I recently found out that Neal Adams did the cover art on a bunch of the Power Records, so I've been buying them when I find decent copies from time-to-time to satisfy the completest collector in me. It is sometimes hard to figure out who did the art as they are typically not credited.

I still remember listening to the ones I had as a kid -- Batman, GI Joe, PotA, 6 Million Dollar Man, etc. The Batman one I had had a N.A. cover on it and I had no idea. That was my crumb-crunching days way before I was a collector. I sometimes search ebay for that record as my well-used copy is resting in a landfill somewhere.

Doug said...

Have any of you ever seen a dramatic radio show being produced? One time I was flipping channels and came across a show on PBS that was a video of a radio production of "A Christmas Carol".

It's really neat to see how they make the sound effects. There's a lot of thought that goes into that, as certain sounds are not necessarily made by objects you would associate with those sounds.


J.A. Morris said...

I had the Spider-Man Power Record where he fights "The Abominable Showman" (get it?):

I've got that one and the Spider-Man/Electric Company LP on my ipod. I listen to them on long car rides sometimes.

As for podcasts,the Spider-Man Crawlspace has a good podcast, especially when the discuss Spidey's Bronze Age stories:

WardHill Terry said...

Man, this is right in my wheelhouse. I'm a big fan of both super-heroes and the audio medium. I've got a couple of Power Records LPs, no book and record sets, though I often looked at the ads for them longingly. I've got a couple of LPs that pre-date Power, one of the Fantastic Four the other of Thor. Each is essentially Stan reading the initial appearance of the characters with voice actors doing the dialog and really lousy sound effects.

The Fantastic Four radio show from the seventies, with pre-SNL Bill Murray as Johnny, is pretty easy to find on-line. Also easy to find, and highly recommended, is the Superman radio show. These are pretty exciting and suspenseful stories. I prefer this Superman, Clark, and Lois to any film and TV versions. They can be found at The only downside to listening to a lot of these shows at once, as they are serialized and you WANT to hear the next episode, is having to listen to the commercials for the sponsor. I encourage BAB readers, and hosts, to choose a story and listen for a few days. You can recreate the original feel by listening to one 15 minute broadcast a day.

I hope someone writes about Rock Reflections of a Super-hero, another ad I loved to look at. I'd love to know more about it.
I understand that the Justice League record tracks are available for on-line listening, but I've not yet done so.

Anonymous said...

Story time:

I own the Escape from the Planet of the Apes Book & Record set pictured above.

I was very young when at my insistence my mom bought me the Spider-Man one reprinting the Man-Wolf story - unfortunately, as soon as Man-Wolf got to howling on the record, I was so scared I left the room and had nightmares!

My mom returned the book and record set to Woolworth and exchanged it for the Planet of the Apes one - which I didn't really get, but wasn't scared of. I still have it, but don't currently have a working record player (despite still owning a couple hundred records!).

e said...

WardHill Terry: the entire Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero is on YouTube - just write in the album title in the search box.

As for Power Records, I had two Spider-man books (the aforementioned Mark of the Man-Wolf and also Invasion of the Dragon Men -, a Batman story with Neal Adams art (Robin Meets the Man Bat -, and an LP that had four stories on it but not the accompanying comic books. I can only remember three of the them, though: the Spider-man Man-Wolf story, an FF story and Captain America - A Phoenix Shall Arise.

Also had this weird non-Power Records one featuring a character called Holo Man, which ended in a cliffhanger. Far as I know, the conclusion was never made...

Edo Bosnar said...

...sorry, "e" above is me.

Doug said...

Ah, like a pseudonym.


Doug (D)

Redartz said...

Many years ago I had an album called Spider-Man- a Rockomic. Unfortunately I don't recall much about it, other than it had several villain appearances (do remember the Green Goblin being one). Also had the Rock Reflections album, which was worth having just for the cover!

As for Power Records, the Man-Thing story "Night of the Laughing Dead" was one of my favorites, so of course I bought the record. Of course, this was a two part story and the record ended at the end of part one. That, and the obviously doctored dialogue , were bothersome. Nonetheless, still fun to read and listen.

Doug- as for radio stories , the CBS Radio Mystery Theater was great Bronze Age listening. Suspenseful tales, all the spookier when listening late at night in your darkened bedroom alone. Plus, it featured the great E. G. Marshall narrating...

david_b said...

Doug, whaaat a wonderful idea for a column.

I truely feel sorry for ANY kid who didn't have 'Spiderman, The Rockomic' as a kid..

It was a feast.

AWESOME Romita art, especially the back cover.., a large poster of the beautiful front cover inside, high quality production (for the early 70s at least....) and great voices...

Rene Auberjonois (who played Odo in DS9) did Spidey's voice on the album. Terribly corny music, but the story with Doctor Strange had such great sound effects.. Funny, it's one album I only saw ONCE in my lifetime growing up.. Very lucky to have gotten it. The later albums were perhaps more cheaply done (except 'Reflections'...), but were generally good. I only had the Power Records CA&F 45, but enjoyed the voices immensely there as well.

Ah, the FF radio show.. I don't have time now to gather up youtube links, but the opening music and 'True Believer' narrative at the beginning would certainly have hyped me up as a kid. I just heard 'em for the first time a few years back and they're quite a hoot, again great sound effects..

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of radio drama.. NPR knocked it out of the park with their Star Wars and Empire radio series.., SO COOL to simply turn the lights out, put the big headphones on and fall in love with all the awesome sound effects.

Both that and Hitchhikers Guide were some of the finest offerings by the respective properties.. As for Hitchhikers, I actually prefer the radio series to ANY of the video representations I've seen..

Great topic, folks.

Paul said...

To me, Ben Grimm's voice will always be the one from the Power Records' Fantastic Four. Just the other day, I was trying to get one of my co-workers, who is built somewhat like Ol' Benjy, to say "Susie, bein' murdered by Doctah Doom!" the way it was on the record. It's stuck in my head forever, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I remember that Ben Grimm voice too and agree that I think that's what he should sound like. I also remember this weird sound effect for Reed stretching. I can't imagine how to describe it...but definitely NOT what I thought it should be. I vaguely remember the sound effect for that from the old FF cartoon - that was better. Don't remember how it sounded on the radio show.


Doug said...

That's an interesting concept, that there would be a sound effect for Reed stretching. When I stretch big, my back, shoulders, and elbows sound like there's someone popping bubble wrap...


david_b said...

Just listening to one of the FF Radio shows now, the one with Subby..:

Yeah, I didn't have the FF 45 record as a kid, but I'd agree with Paul and Tom that Ben's voice is pretty spot on. The Radio show's vocal talents are pretty accurate as well.

One funny thing about those Power Records 45's are the amateur edited lettering in those dialog balloons. Pretty lousy effort.

Anonymous said...

Retro-Lad here

In the early 1990s BBC Radio broadcast in the UK a whole spate of dramatisations of comic book stories, all pretty faithful to the source material, courtesy of producer Dirk Maggs. (‘Dirk Maggs’? That really sounds like he travelled to the 20th century in a time-sphere).

Actually, the start of it had been the short original drama ‘The Trial of Superman’, made to celebrate Big Blue’s 50th Anniversary in 1988. The ’trial’ device was utilised to allow both comic book characters and real life folk e.g. Jennette Khan to inform the listener about Supes’ history in the course of testifying as witnesses for and against.

Soon after we got ‘The Adventures of Superman’, an adaptation in six half-hour episodes of John Byrne’s ‘Man of Steel’ reboot of the mythos. I was struck at the time by how much of Byrne’s dialogue was retained, and how it sounded fine out loud. Contrast this with my Power Records’ ‘Incredible Hulk.’ Much as I love Steve Englehart, his dialogue and captions from that Hulk/Rhino/Abomination slugfest sounded clunky off the page, as I think most bronze age scripting would.

Then we got two of the biggest early 90s storylines. ‘The Death of Superman’, covered not just the Doomsday battle the full stories of the four subsequent ‘pretenders’ and the return of the original (but thankfully no mullet-from-beyond-the-grave hairstyle in the audio version!). ‘Batman:Knightfall’ began with the first ‘Azrael’mini-series, ran through Bane and the Jean-Paul Batman saga, and ended with Bruce Wayne taking down AzBat to reclaim the cowl. (The radio show concluded before the comics had got that far, prompting me to phone in the ‘scoop’ to a UK comic news magazine).

Next up were two ‘Judge Dredd’ adaptations ‘Judge Caligula’ and, um, whatever the one where the SovBlock Judges invade Mega-City One is called.

Last came ’Spider-Man’, covering his origin and earliest adventures, with the added treat of extended sequences of the Fantastic Four’s first encounters with Doc Doom - here annoyingly voiced as a Vincent Price soundalike - and Sub-Mariner. This series differed from the earlier ones both in format - the episodes were shorter - and content, being much looser adaptations. Pre-publicity at the time stressed that the theme music would be composed Brian May of Queen. It turned out to be a perfunctory guitar sting that a quick hum confirms lasted all of two seconds!

That was pretty much that - although there was a short one-off original drama covering what was going on in the UK during the events of the then currently released ‘Independence Day’ movie. That one, I’ve never heard, but I have the rest on cassette (Cassette! There’s some bronze age technology right there - but I listened to them on my futuristic walkman!). Those cassettes are still in my spare room somewhere, but I’m too lazy to go verify my recollection.

Boy-howdy - good times to be a UK fan boy with a radio, huh? Thanks, Mr Maggs.


(btw , apropos of nothing, I’ve been composing this post during the ad-breaks on Shonda Rhimes’ ’Scandal’. That show is finding new and bigger sharks to jump every episode - yet still so watchable)

Anonymous said...

Retro-Lad says

Whoops! Now that I read my post back, I realise that there's nothing Bronze Age about it. :-0 Sorry, Doug and Karen.

Doc Savage said...

I have a bunch of '40s Superman radio shows including the Batman & Robin team-ups. Used to listen to them in the car when I had to drive 2+ hours twice a week for work. Love it. Also had the Shadow with Orson Wells and Green Hornet shows.

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