Category Archives: Comic Books

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.

The Music Superman

Here’s some more Adventures of Superman music. The previous example is from season 2, and this is from the first season. The music wasn’t actually written for the series, it was composed for low-budget “Poverty Row” studios in the late 40’s, re-recorded overseas to avoid the musician’s union, and later made available on transcription disks for use in TV shows. Some of it is believed to have been the work of famed film composer Miklos Rozsa. There’s a strong “Rite of Spring” component to this piece.

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The first season of TAOS is a lot grittier than subsequent seasons. One of the best early episodes is “Crime Wave.” Watch Superman punch through a concrete wall, then turn around and punch bad guys in the jaw, and remember that this was a kid’s TV show.