This is a wordless Christmas post.
Oops! I shouldn’t have explained. Okay, a six-word Christmas post.
Wait a minute, I didn’t count those words…
Seventeen words, then… urm… Twenty-seven… Twenty-nine… Is a hyphenated compound two words or one? Dang it!
Okay… a too-many words Christmas post.
Have another picture to look at while I sort this out.
I watched the new Supergirl TV show on CBS via the internet, and I have to say… Wow! Now, I am not that big of a Supergirl fan. The comic book from my overly-massive comic book collection from 40-plus years of being a juvenile reader at heart is the only example I can find to illustrate Supergirl. And I only own that one because my eldest son wanted it at age 11 because of the bare-midriff dress in the cover illustration. I have never been all that fixated on Kara Jor-El’s belly button myself. But don’t get me started on a discussion of superhero babes with bare body parts in comics… well, because I will end up telling you things about myself I really don’t want you to know. But I do know enough of the Superman mythos to appreciate what the TV show has done with this character.
Superman himself has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I remember him in black-and-white as George Reeves from the time I was first allowed to pick TV shows for myself.
So, I watched this Supergirl show last night in spite of the fact that critics I have read basically hated it. I don’t actually understand their disdain. It had everything I love about comic books. The characters were simply drawn and two-dimensional, which is exactly what a comic book character should be. Kara was given a back-story that matches the comic book mythos quite well, and yet, other characters like Jimmy Olsen and her adopted sister are clearly innovative and new. The villain was life-and-death terrible in the way that comic book villains are supposed to be. He even died at the end of the episode as comic book villains are supposed to do in order to surprise us when they come back to life as comic book villains always do sooner or later. Everyone seems to love the CW’s newest version of The Flash on TV because it has that distinctive funny/violent comic book bravado about it. So why didn’t they see the same thing in this new show? I think, with time, this new show will prove them wrong. I like the lost-little-girl-turned-superhero story presented in this first episode. I went in expecting not to like it, and was bedazzled and befuddled and be-everythinged that you want this kind of show to do to you.
I will not try to tell you that you should watch the show. If you are comic-book nutty like I am, you have probably already seen this show, and nothing I could say or do would have a ghost of a chance of keeping you away from it, if that was what I wanted to accomplish. And I know that many people hate this kind of thing with a passion. But, being honest here… something I am sure you are aware I rarely ever intentionally do… I want you to watch it so it will become popular and stay on the air. After all, a TV show like this will generate more dolls and toys to collect. Ta-ta-ta- TAAAH!!!
I believe I may have mentioned before what an important part of my creative life my Grandma Beyer’s old 1960’s RCA Victor color TV was because of its ability to render the weekly Disney TV show in color. One of the most significant things we were moved to drive all the way to Mason City to see on a Sunday afternoon in the 1960’s was the wonderful Annette Funicello vehicle, Babes in Toyland. It was a musical remake of the 1903 Victor Herbert Operetta starring Annette (at a time before puberty made me secretly obsessed with seeing her naked) and Tommy Sands as the main fairy tale protagonists.
Disney had originally planned in 1955 to make this as another of their animated features, but he later combined it with his desire to make a Wizard of Oz-like live-action film, a colorful sound-stage musical.
The music was Victor Herbert’s, as was the basic story, but it was all done the Disney way with rewritten lyrics and even an adapted film score.
It featured Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz) as the villain (a first for him). He played the evil Barnaby, the Crooked Man, who wanted to keep Mary Contrary and Tom Piper (Annette and Tommy Sands) from getting married and living happily ever after.
The bumbling henchmen Gonzorgo and Roderigo are played by a comedy duo who were also featured in Disney’s Zorro TV show from the 50’s. Their slapstick antics made the film for me as a gradeschool child who deeply appreciated Three-Stooges-style comedy. I particularly liked the way they turned on the villain and helped the heroes in the end. I thought that was the way stories of good and evil always had to end… saved by the clowns.
The cute kids in the story were also a part of the magical appeal. The story, after all, is told basically for them. So this movie had a lot to do with why I felt the need to become a children’s writer and write YA fantasy novels. The music didn’t hurt the appeal either. The Toymaker, Ed Wynn, was a character that probably turned me into a rabid toy-collector and someone you really don’t want to argue with over old toys at yard sales.
But probably the most important way this particular bit of Disneyana has influenced my life came through the march of the tin soldiers and the stop-motion battle of the toys at the end of the movie. That has informed almost the whole of my art goals. It has that certain je-ne-sais-quoi of childhood imagination that I am obsessed with reproducing.
You can probably see the fixation yourself if you take a look at this last Paffooney.
I was a child of the 1960’s. I was 10 in 1966. In 1967 I received a Captain Action action figure for my birthday. Neither of these figures are the original one, since he is now resting in pieces. (I do have all the pieces.) The Spiderman suit is part of a Christmas gift from 1968, though not the mask and the boots. Superman was a rare find as a collector in about 2003. His boots are held together with tape and rubber bands, but the rest of the costume is in very good shape. The Lost in Space Robot came from E-Bay, and I got him for only four dollars. Needless to say, these things are priceless to the child who still lives inside me. I play with them often.
A big share of my surrealistic bent comes from the influence of Walt Disney on my childhood. Lady and the Tramp, Babes in Toyland, the Junglebook… Disney made me dance and dream.