Friday, May 26, 2006

"hey good lookin'..."

A PopCereal pop quiz for you. Off the top of your noggin, rattle me off a line of dialogue from any TV commercial from 30 years ago. No fair chanting "Where's the beef?" or "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" 'cause, well, by design those taglines and slogans were made to stay locked within your brain matter for a half life of a million years.

There's one line that I know of that's been stained on my brain since my youth:

"Hey good lookin'! I'll be back to pick you up later."

No doubt that if you're a Saturday Morning kid like I was, then you'll remember that familiar and hammy refrain, along with the images of the black dude jive-turkeyin' his way down the street and the "professional entertainer" precticing her guitar while singing into their Mr. Microphones.

Mister Microphone has got to be the cheesiest commercial I've ever seen. And that's a good thing! How else would Mr. Miller have remembered Mr. Microphone unless it had a cheez factor of 108? Leave it to Ron Popeil to hotwire our memory, once again, with one of his pop culture inventions. I don't know that I knew one person who actually owned a Mr. Microphone, but damned if it wasn't on many a top 10 list come Christmastime. Right along with the Pocket Fisherman!

Friday, May 19, 2006

shalalalalalala! let's dance!!

Fans of the incredibly poppy bubblegum songs sung by their favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters are gonna flip their cans when they see this site. Mondo Daddykin has only been up and at 'em for a few days shy of a month, but man do they have a cereal box load of goodies already!

The mysterious Daddykin has amassed a trunkload of mp3 files of everything from the all-too-common Archie songs to the jeez-I-forgot-about-those-guys collections of songs from The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, The Incredibles and The Groovie Goolies (just to name a thimbleful). He's also given us a little insight into the background of some of the artists who created the bubblegum juice.

Sadly, for PopCerealites across the continent, there has been no official collection of the terrific pop songs we all heard on those Saturday mornings programs of yore. But Mondo Daddykins has done us all a huge amazing service by copying the songs off of his old VHS tapes (old school) and transferring them to the digital universe (new school) for all of us to once again dance to (school's out for summer). I had been wanting to do just what Daddykins has been doing, but now I don't gotta. Thanks to our new PopCereal hero -- Mr. Mondo Daddykins!

Now, go enjoy yerselves!
~Mr. Miller

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

mark evanier and the chan clan

Wow! I feel like I've found the niftiest prize ever at the bottom of a box of Quaker Quisps! I checked out the comments section and found a link to my Charlie Chan comic book article: Goodbye, Charlie! It's at a blog/website of Mark Evanier.

Now, maybe yer wondering, just who is Mark Evanier? It's an understandable question, unless you're an avid comic book nut. And I don't claim to be one of those, myself. I'm just a reader. Anyway... the name Mark Evanier is very importante to me because he is the very guy who wrote the Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan comic book that I featured here! Very cool.
Gold Key comics didn't really take to crediting their writers and artists much, so I was fortunate that Mr. Evanier came across my article and was able to give us all a heads up. Here is some of the Mr. Evanier's background and a bunch of insight into his work on the Chan comic (as well as a little flogging for the cumbersome download)-- all straight form his blog:

"A website called PopCereal likes to scan old Gold Key comics and offer them for your downloading pleasure. They're currently featuring The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan #1 from 1972 and I'm going to suggest two reasons why you should not download it. One is that the way they have it set up, it'll take you an awfully long time. Secondly, it's not a very good comic...and I oughta know. I wrote it.

It was, in fact, the first comic book script of mine to see print in this country. Previously, I'd written lots of comics published overseas and about a dozen scripts for Gold Key. As you may know, comics are not always published in the order they're written and if you're working on a book that's in no danger of cancellation, it's not uncommon to try and get way ahead. The first things I did for Gold Key were Disney comics that didn't come out until more than a year after I wrote them.

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan was a TV show that Hanna-Barbera produced for the CBS Saturday morning season that commenced in September of '72. As I later learned when I worked for H-B, there was always at least one "trouble" show that Joe Barbera would sell to one of the networks and then no one, including Joe, could figure out what to do with. Some years, they had way more than one...

So the show was in trouble before it even debuted. Gold Key was then doing the comics based on H-B properties and had first refusal on the new ones. When they were offered The Chan Clan, they refused. The editor there, Chase Craig, was in close touch with writers and artists who worked at H-B and he'd heard about the problems the show was having and how those working on it didn't have much hope for its success. But the studio put some kind of pressure on Gold Key and one day, Chase was ordered to hurriedly get a first issue written and drawn. I got the assignment because I was, he felt, his fastest writer...and I also happened to walk into the office that day.

The show was still a few months from debuting on TV. Chase handed me a pile of storyboards and told me to read them all to get a feel for the property but to write an adaptation of one in particular. I don't think this was an episode by Jamie Farr [yes, the MASH guy. ed.] and his then-partner, Eddie Carroll. My recollection, which may be faulty, is that Norman Maurer wrote it. Anyway, I was assigned to adapt it and later on if the comic continued, there would be original stories conceived fresh for the comics. As Chase explained to me, he preferred to launch a new H-B book in this manner. The studio had approval rights and the people there could get pointlessly picky about the material...but they rarely bothered looking at any issue after the first few. Therefore, it simplified the procedure to do the first issue as an adaptation and maybe the second. They couldn't very well complain that a plot taken from the show was inappropriate.
I wrote the script in one day, as I recall. It was drawn by a wonderful artist named Warren Tufts who is probably best known for his long-ago newspaper strip, Casey Ruggles. Tufts was much admired as an adventure artist but he was a slow, meticulous worker who never felt that the financial rewards matched the hours he put into his art.... Tufts accepted the assignment without seeing the property because he figured it would go fast. When you drew a Hanna-Barbera comic book, you got a packet of model sheets with key poses of the characters and you could usually trace a lot of drawings right off the model sheets. Wherever possible in Chan Clan, Warren did that. I picked a panel at random to post above next to the cover image, then realized they both have the same pose of the honorable Mr. Chan, certainly copied right off the models. But the comic had so many characters in it and they had to be in so many poses that weren't in the model packet that Warren hated the job...though he did stick with it for all four issues of the comic book. I was luckier: I only did the first issue before Chase decided my services were needed more on Bugs Bunny.

Like I said, don't bother downloading the comic. It'll take you forever and you won't see either Tufts or me at our best. But having it online got me to thinking about what went into it. And I also recall the day when I was up in the office and someone handed me a printed copy -- the first comic book script of mine to make it to print in English. You never forget your first time...even if it's The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan."

I want to thank Mr. Evanier for giving us this insight to his wonderful work (even if he doesn't think it's so great himself).

Please check out his site: News From ME to read the complete thoughts of Mr. Evanier.

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