Thursday, April 20, 2006
The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan was a Saturday Morning favorite of Mr. Miller's. The show premiered in 1973, featuring not only the popular literary detective Charlie Chan, but his entire Chan brood. It was the first time that Chan was animated, but more importantly, it was the first time that Chan -- who is Chinese -- was was ever portrayed by an Asian actor. The previous film versions featured white actors with make-up. Keye Luke, who you may recognize as Master Po from the King Fu series, played the voice of Chan. And joining him was another popular 70s name, Jodie Foster as Anne Chan the baseball cap wearing tomboy.
In 1973 Gold Key started printing the exploits of the junior sleuth. Here you have your own pdf version of the #1 issue of The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
One of Mr. Miller's favorite childhood pasttimes was watching every TVMOW (TV movie of the week) that he could fix his eyes to. For years and years Mr. Miller had a burning memory of one particular TV flick with some angry dad trying to defend his wife and kids from a gang of muscle car riding punks who had invaded their neighborhood and nearly ran over the family pooch. And with the help of the trusty Wayback Machine (otherwise known as the book Movies Made for Television: The Telepicture and the Mini-Series 1964-1979 by Alvin H. Marill) PopCereal was able to figure out just what that movie was.
It was titled Outrage, and it featured the smotth and volatile Robert Culp as a regular old Joe just trying to bring up a family in a nice quiet suburban 'hood. The movie originally aired on Wednesday night, Novcember 28, 1973. The story was written for TV (based on real life events) by William Wood, and was directed by Richard Heffron. Other notable cast members, besides Culp, were Marlyn Mason playing Culp's wife, Nicholas Hammond as one of the punks, and the familiar droopy-faced character actor Ivor Francis as Judge Cox.
By the time 70s television had gotten a hold of the “scare film” they’d brought it full circle from propagandized civic “lessons” to exploitative social studies. What was once a tool used to scare the crap outta the masses and keep them in step with the idealized suburban image (especially during War time and throughout the burgeoning era of the middle class) the scare film had now evolved into something more of an over exaggerated social lesson rather than a social rule.
In Outrage, chisel-chested Robert Culp plays an upper middle class family man who is just trying to give his family a safe and easy lifestyle in the hills of California. When a gang of local punks start wrecking havoc with the neighborhood, Culp tries to take the civil high road and implores the parents of the kids to keep them in line. Naturally the mothers only see their children as angels, and the fathers chalk it all up to boys being boys. When the authorities are called in to help, Culp finds that their hands are tied by the usual bureaucratic red tape. But when the punk’s shenanigans turn violent, and the lives of his family are threatened, Culp has to take action himself, turning into a one-man vigilante.
Culp just can’t go wrong doing his usual charming-guy macho act as he takes on TVs original Spider Man, Nicholas Hammond as the head rich-boy punk. There’s a lot of generational gap “those kids these days” attitude in 70s television, as well. But these made-for-TV lessons became a lot less conservative than their “duck and cover” predecessors. In the hands of the more liberal-minded Hollywood producers, subjects like the teenage delinquent became more humanized. They weren’t just troublemakers who needed to be whipped into submissiveness by their dutiful parents. No, in the made-for-TV land of movies, the kids were merely the end result of a community that had failed them. Maybe the kid’s parents didn’t love them enough, or maybe their teacher didn’t listen to them, or maybe it was peer pressure and all that brain-rotting rock music… or maybe they just needed a good old fashioned ass kicking from the likes of Robert Culp.
Check out adifferentsity.com to find more of these fantastically kitchy 70s TV movies.
Check out A Different City to find more of these fantastically kitchy 70s TV movies.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Mr. Miller wants to keep the Gold Key thing going, so he wanted to drop a link to a fan-franken-tastic website called Hunter's Planet of the Ape Archive. Mr. Miller nearly spit his King Vitamin's all over the computer screen when he ran into this site. It's unbelievable!! This guy has got more POTA crud than anyone I've seen -- and it's all there for us fans to download.
One of the many kazillion treats that Mr. Miller found on Hunter's site (including scripts, a Power Record gallery, magazines... it just goes on!!) was a .pdf version of the Gold Key comic: Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Mr. Miller thought you popcereal kiddies would love to get a look, so he's giving you this link-a-doo to check out the fabulous ish.
So, git-along over to Hunter's Planet of the Ape Archive an enjoy yerselves.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
the gold key story
The Western Printing and Lithographing Co. -- headed up by Disney marketing genius Herman "Kay" Kamen -- built a solid reputation putting out comic book versions of familiar newspaper comic strips. Using his pull at his former employee Walt Disney Studios, Kamen acquired the rights to characters from Disney cartoons in 1939. Soon he snatched up the rights to characters from Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera and Walter Lantz, as well, and, along with adaptations of popular movies and TV shows, released them all in comic book form through Dell. These comic books experienced tremendous sales, but when the contract with Dell expired in 1962, the WPLC launched their own imprint -- Gold Key.
Throughout the 60s and early 70s, Dell grew in popularity, and with sales in the millions they created their own original charactersand titles, such as Turok, Son of Stone; Wacky Witch; and Space Family Robinson (which was to be the pre-cursor and inspiration to Lost in Space). But by the 80s the comic book biz, in general, was in a slump, and Gold Key couldn't keep sales up. They made a last ditch attempt to increase the visibility of their titles by marketing themselves in non-traditional outlets, like toy stores. But by 1981, Gold Key was done. What titles were left over from Gold Key were put out under the Whitman imprint (mostly known for coloring books), and Gold Key became a thing of PopCereal past. Ironically, with a licensing genius like Kay Kamen as the company's creator, Gold Key failed to license their own original characters. So with the eventual demise of Whitman comics in 1984, kooky characters like Baby Snoots and The Little Monsters were gone forever.
the little monsters
With the 60s monster craze in full force, Mr. Miller took to everything creature related like Dracula to a blood bank. And to add more voltage to his neck bolts came the Gold Key comic book The Little Monsters, a gruesome clan of monster misfits who lived in a creepy castle and who slept on beds of nails. Following on the rotted heels of cartoons like Milton the Monster and Melvin Monster, but knocking on the crypt door before such TV notables as The Addams Family and The Munsters, The Little Monsters were unleashed upon the public within an issue of The Three Stooges (#17 to be exact). From then on Mr. Miller here was hooked on the misadventures of the monster kiddies 'Orrible Orvie and Awful Annie Monster, and their monstrous parents Mildew and Demonica.
Issue #12 (1970) finds our frightening fiends in all sorts of monster sitcom-like trouble. The generation gap hits the Monster household when Scarella, the cute "scream-aged" ghost next door starts dating, then a robotic witch comes to life to stir up trouble, and finally little 'Orrible Orvie comes up with a perfectly demented solution to help his Dad, Mildew, build a moat around the castle. Also, there's the dimwitted tale of a criminal Bat, named Batty, as well as some jokes, riddles and scary tales... Oh, and some really cool 70s style comic book ads.
Download and read issue #12