Category Archives: Comic Books

Urbont Legend

Urbont

Jacques Urbont, aka Jack Urbont, is an old-school composer in the Tin Pan Alley tradition. With Bruce “Mission Impossible” Geller he wrote the Broadway musical “All In Love,” but most of Urbont’s credits are for television.

The music Urbont composed that is familiar to me was for the syndicated 1966 cartoon series, “The Marvel Super Heroes.” The introduction and closing for the show are found on a FlexiDisc called “Scream Along With MARVEL,” that came with the 1967 membership kit for the Merry Marvel Marching Society. I posted the record back in 2007.

The DVD of last year’s PBS documentary, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” includes a marvelous extra feature with Urbont, who explains and performs each of the intros and themes he wrote for the Marvel Super Heroes cartoons. (Note that “Superheroes” is today spelled as a single word.)

I assume Stan Lee’s assistant that Urbont mentions was Roy Thomas, but I don’t know that for certain. Urbont exudes an infectious enthusiasm that is quite similar to Stan’s own effusive personality. Urbont’s lyrics capture the spirit of the Marvel characters perfectly, and I love seeing how proud he is of this material. I just wish that Disney, which now owns Marvel, would release a complete DVD set of the cartoons. A few years ago they were supposed to be made available for streaming on Netflix, but that didn’t happen.

Joltin’ Joe under the weather

Joe Sinnott, Jim Steranko, Mark Sinnott

Joe Sinnott, Jim Steranko, Mark Sinnott

Joe Sinnott hasn’t been feeling well lately, and he even pressed his son Mark into service finishing the inking job on the latest Sunday installment of the Spider-Man syndicated comic strip for Stan Lee. Although Joe checked out fine on Monday he’s suddenly come down with a case of pneumonia and he’ll be at a hospital for a couple of days. Mark’s wife Belinda says that Joe should be okay, dehydration is his biggest problem, and I’m looking forward to hearing that he’s home again and resting and back as his drawing table.

Jimmy Stewart’s Swank apartment

I had lots of fun calibrating the video projector. Assuming my consumer-grade colorimeter is reasonably accurate, the test numbers indicate that the picture is now just about perfect. Fifteen years ago, when I bought the Sony 32XBR100 TV, which is still working fine by the way, after first adjusting it I watched the then newly-restored “Vertigo” on LaserDisc. I watched it again today, but streaming from Amazon.

“Vertigo” is now at the top of some lists as the greatest movie of all time, beating out longtime champ “Citizen Kane,” and I have to agree with that assessment, on the basis of the premise that a man’s obsession with a woman is inherently more interesting than a man who is obsessed with himself. At the more trivial end of what makes “Vertigo” interesting is a magazine in Jimmy Stewart’s apartment. There’s a copy of Swank, which was one of the many periodicals published by Martin Goodman, Stan Lee’s boss at Marvel (then Atlas) Comics.

Vertigo Swank

By coincidence I happen to be reading an excellent book, “The Secret History of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire” by Blake Bell and Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, which goes into detail about the creation of Swank to compete with Esquire, only to fail in competition with Playboy.

Follow-up: The authors of “Secret History of Marvel Comics” tell me that the magazine does not appear to be a legitimate issue of Swank — “The cover doesn’t match up to either any of the Martin Goodman issues, nor any of the earlier incarnations. So it seems it was a mock-up for the movie.”

A super man at 100

Amy Adams is all the reason I need to enjoy any movie, but I didn’t watch “Man of Steel” until last night because I expected it to have the orange-and-teal color scheme that plagues recent movies with heavy CG effects, along with endless over-the-top fight scenes and a complete lack of fun. Unfortunately, “Man of Steel” met those expectations.

George Reeves was 24 years old in 1938 when Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1. A year later Reeves was in “Gone With the Wind” as one of the Tarleton twins, and it would be more than ten years after that before Reeves would find his place in pop culture history, in “The Adventures of Superman.” Reeves was born George Brewer 100 years ago today. Fans of the old show are encouraged to visit The Adventure Continues site, and the companion page on Facebook.