It’s been twenty years since Robert Crumb relocated to France, and he’s still there. The introverted yet irrepressible cartoonist/record collector/musician, who is equally profound and profane, is featured on this week’s edition of the syndicated radio program American Routes.
One of the first comic books I bought after my family moved to Massachusetts in 1968 was Marvel Super-Heroes #18, featuring the introduction of an oddball band of space rangers called the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel Super-Heroes #18, Jan ’69
Written by Arnold Drake and drawn by Gene Colan, the original incarnation of the Guardians was a one-off try-out story that went nowhere for decades. Today, a completely revamped version of the team includes a 1970’s Marvel character called Star Lord, who is played by Chris Pratt in a big, new movie that is getting generally favorable reviews. A Pratt saving the galaxy is something I’ve gotta see.
And where did Groot the tree character come from? He’s one of Marvel’s old, pre-Fantastic Four monsters.
I Challenged… GROOT!
Last week, Denro tipped me off to a half-price sale of Criterion videos at Barnes & Noble. I picked up the Blu-ray release of “Kiss Me Deadly” for twenty bucks. It’s based on a Mike Hammer story by Joe Sinnott’s longtime buddy, Mickey Spillane. Mickey was supposedly not happy with the ending, where director Robert Aldrich managed to bring the Cold War into the story, but I think this quirky and murky movie is both entertaining and fascinating. The whole thing is on YouTube, for now anyway, and I suggest kicking it up to full screen mode at 720p and kicking back.
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.
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.
Morris — This is Philip Seymour Hoffman, circa 1987, in his New York University dorm, Weinstein Hall, room 729. Contents of the room include a Playbill, Spin Magazine (from Tower Records), a copy of Vanity Fair, and two Amazing Spider-Man comic books.