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Apr 182014
 
max-fleischer-superman-cartoon

by Gene Turnbow, station manager

I happened to be in Agra, India in 2008, and, being the huge Superman fan that I am, I had one of my blue shirts with the famous chest shield symbol on it with me. Everywhere I wore it, I noticed something surprising: the locals usually spoke not a word of English, except one:  “Superman.” And they always said it with a huge smile on their faces. Except for Mickey Mouse, no character is better known and more beloved the world over than the Big Blue Boy Scout.

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Rocketed to Earth as an Infant …

To understand why, we need to look at his history. First appearing in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938, the original story of Superman was written by Jerome “Jerry” Siegel and illustrated by Joseph “Joe” Shuster.  Superman was, and is, a seemingly effortless fusion of everything humans aspire to be. He was a symbol that spoke to generations for whom America did no wrong, life was black and white and easy to figure out, and whose heart was bigger than the S on his chest. The origin story involving the planet Krypton, by the way, first appeared in the Superman newspaper strip in 1939 but didn’t appear in the comic books until 1949.

As his popularity grew, a radio series was created in 1940 with Superman as the starring character, and many of the elements in the Superman mythos we take for granted today actually came from the radio show, not the comic books. Jimmy Olson, Kryptonite, Perry White, and the name of the newspaper he worked for, The Daily Planet, all came from the radio program. Many of these episodes were lost, as they were performed live, with no available technology to record them.  Krypton Radio, however, does have an archive of over 1,150 of the episodes, which we play each day.

During the Second World War, Superman and the other superheroes who followed in his wake kept their noses out of the war itself.  This makes sense if you think about it. You can’t have a fictional character turning the tide of war or taking it over, because these are things real men and women must do. He did, however, serve as a source of inspiration for our men and women in battle.

In the post-World War II era, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a huge resurgence. Its membership and political influence were skyrocketing, so a young writer and activist named Stetson Kennedy went undercover to get the goods on the group. He almost sounds like a superhero himself, doesn’t he? With a name like Stetson Kennedy, you’d expect some heroics – and he delivered. He worked his way into the confidences of the KKK, and learned the organization’s deepest secrets. The authorities, however, didn’t seem interested. The Klan had ties to police and the government, and had become so powerful and intimidating that police didn’t want to go anywhere near the situation. That’s when Kennedy went to the writers of the Adventures of Superman radio serial.

With the war over and the Nazis no longer a threat, the producers wanted a new villain for Superman to fight, and the KKK seemed perfect for the role. So, in a 16-episode series called Clan of the Fiery Cross, the writers of the radio serial pitted the Man of Steel against the men in white hoods. As the storyline unfolded, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets. From code words to rituals, the mystique of the Klan has been completely stripped away. Within two weeks their recruitment had dropped to zero, and their membership started dwindling. The power of the KKK in North America was broken, and we have Superman to thank for it.

Republic Pictures had been making Superman serials for the movie theaters in 1948 starring Kirk Alyn in the title role. The radio series ended in 1951, and Superman would make the leap to television that same year with George Reeves, and the world saw Superman in a new light. More television would follow, including several animated series through the sixties, seventies and eighties, with additional roles various Warner Bros. Animation series from the early 2000′s through the present day, and a variety of live action shows such as Lois and Clark, The Adventures of Superboy and Smallville. Whole new generations had now grown up with Superman as a part of the popular culture, and he had become an iconic hero.

Superman returned to movie theaters in 1978 with director Richard Donner’s Superman, starring Christopher Reeve, which spawned three sequels. In 2006, Bryan Singer directed the feature Superman Returns, and in 2013, director Zack Snyder rebooted the film franchise with Man of Steel, with an expected sequel to feature Batman.

Which brings us to now. Today is the 76th anniversary of the appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1, with that famous cover of the Man of Steel lifting that green sedan, and he’s driving the DC brand forward in the New 52.

Man of Tomorrow

Superman still resonates, despite his long history and his birth in a simpler age. Detractors note that he’s hard to feel sympathy for, because he has the powers of a god, and no enemy can withstand him for very long. Writers respond to this valid criticism by giving him other weaknesses. Under the cape and the blue suit he’s a human being of humble origins, like the rest of us. He loves, he feels, he forms attachments, he forms ideas about the world around him and the way he thinks things should be. It is these that are his greatest weaknesses, but at the same time, his greatest strengths – and we share these with him as he struggles to find personal meaning in a world where black and white just isn’t what it used to be.

And yet, he remains what he was: a boy who called his adoptive parents “ma” and “pa,” a man who walks among us as an equal, not because he needs a secret identity – he doesn’t – but because he thinks of himself as one of us, and wants to take care of the people he cares about and being Clark Kent is the best way he knows of to do that. Because he is one of us, it’s very easy to identify with him. Kal-El of Krypton shows us how it’s done. No one can be super-powerful, but we are sometimes given advantage over others. It’s up to us how we use that advantage. If we were given powers far beyond those of mortal men, what would be in our hearts? Vengeance? Or compassion?

I wish Superman a happy 76th birthday today, and may he have many more. With him around, the path is a little more clear for the rest of us, and a little easier to follow.

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 What does Superman represent for you? Do you have a Superman story to tell? Sound off in comments, share it on our Facebook page or Tumblr, or email us!

 

Mar 082014
 
jupiterYourFavoriteMartian

When you’re that far away from somebody you really care about, sometimes it feels like they might as well be on another planet.   Today’s video of the day is their music video for Jupiter, a song by Your Favorite Martian about long distance relationships and how hard they can be.

In this video, by the way, “Jupiter” is the name of the alien girl, not the planet she lives on.

Your Favorite Martian, a virtual band created by Ray Williams, isn’t making new music or music videos anymore, but there’s still a goldmine of great geek tunage in their body of work, and fortunately for us, a lot of it is pretty well timeless.

Enjoy.

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Lyrics

There’s nothing left to say.
I’m not with you.
You lie so far away from the truth.

Jupiter you’re on my mind.
The clock will turn the gears of time.
I only want to be with you.
Symmetry can lean askew.

It’s gripping on my mind.
I’ll stay impossible to define while you’re away.

There’s still nothing to say.
I’m not with you.
Sometimes the path least traveled is the avenue.
The stranger in your life you thought you knew.
How can I be yellow and still so blue?

Jupiter you’re on my mind.
The clock will turn the gears of time.
I only want to be with you.
Symmetry can lean askew.

It’s gripping on my mind.
I’ll stay impossible to define while you’re away.

Jupiter you’re on my mind.
The clock will turn the gears of time.
I only want to be with you.
Symmetry can lean askew.

Links

Jan 132014
 
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In this humorous short by FinalCutKing, Mega Man comes to life and decides that what’s wrong with the world is that the pixels are too small to see – so he goes about fixing it.  This animation was created by shooting 10,000 individual still photos and hot-gluing over a thousand little hand painted tiles together in various configurations.  We present here not only the animation itself, but the making of video for it as well, which we think is at least as fascinating as the actual animation.

FinalCutKing has been producing these amazing animated shorts for years, some of which have gotten nearly ten million views. 

Enjoy.

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Links

FinalCutKing’s YouTube channel
FinalCutKing’s Twitter

 

Dec 072013
 
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There is so much good stuff in this clip that it’s hard to know where to begin.  The expressiveness of Disney animation is world renowned, but nowhere is it more evident than in this sequence.  Every tiny nuance of emotion can be plainly read in Elsa’s face, in her stance, and in her movements.  Elsa as an animated character delivers the goods. Everything is exactly – exactly – perfect.  And Idina Menzel’s performance as Elsa’s voice is breathtaking, astonishing and thrilling all at once.  If this doesn’t make you want to go see Disney’s Frozen, then nothing will.

You may have heard Idina’s silver voice before.  She originated the role of Ephelba in 2004′s Wicked  (she won the Tony Award that year for that one), and she’s a singer and songwriter with more than half a dozen albums to her credit.

This latest release from Disney animation is a long way from Valiant, an awkward misstep in an otherwise fine tradition of wonderful animated motion pictures.  In fact, it just may be the most beautiful film Disney has ever made.  We have to say Tangled is still right up there, though.

Go see the film if you can.  And especially, see it in 3D. Unlike a lot of movies where the 3D is a spare tire afterthought, Frozen was designed for 3D and it shows in every single scene.

Enjoy this gorgeous musical sequence.

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Nov 032013
 

Stan-Lees-Comikaze-ExpoLos Angeles (November 2, 2013) – At Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles today, A Squared Entertainment, Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment and Archie Comics unveiled the all-star cast of Stan Lee’s new comic book-based animated trilogy Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 (SLAM 7), starring the legendary Stan Lee himself.

The all-star cast includes Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger, J. Edgar, Social Network) as Strong Arm, the superhero with super strength; Christian Slater (Breaking In, True Romance) as Lazer Lord, the superhero who hurls balls of laser energy; Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory) as Lady Lightning who possesses super speed; Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) as Silver Skylark, the superhero who flies; Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Big Lebowski) as Roller Man, who rolls into a big ball and launches at high speed; Darren Criss (Glee) as Micro, who shrinks in size; and Sean Austin (The Lord of the Rings) as Kid Kinergy who’s superpower is telekinesis. Additional voices include Jim Belushi as Mr. Cross, the leader of a covert operations military division assigned to investigate UFO sightings; and Michael Ironside as Xanar, the leader of the warring aliens from the planet Taegon who enslave other planets and raid their natural resources.

The cast introduction included a sneak peak of the trailer for the upcoming movie trilogy and the official launch of the SLAM 7 dedicated website.  The presentation was made by Stan Lee as both the creator of SLAM 7 and CCO of POW! Entertainment, and Andy Heyward, CEO of A Squared Entertainment.

SLAM 7 is the first reality style comic books series and the first superhero project from Stan Lee Comics. We’re combining fantasy and reality, comedy and adventure for a superhero series unlike anything I’ve created before,” said Lee in his introduction of the cast.  “These incredible actors have brought these alien superheroes to life even better than I could have imagined…if that’s even possible!”

The SLAM 7 trilogy begins with three feature-length films, a monthly comic book and an animated television series thereafter, to debut in 2015. The Hub Network has the world premiere of all three movies starting with the first movie, Beginnings, in early 2014. Cinedigm will release a DVD and Digital release in the U.S. in summer 2014.

For more information visit www.slam7.com, featuring a trailer from the first film, synopsis and character profiles. Additional information will be added in January preceding the release of the film.

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Nov 012013
 
Disney-Frozen-640x400

We didn’t catch this in September when it first came out, but we were so excited about this when we finally did have a look at it that we had to share it with you.

What the hey, we were busy planning for this year’s blowout Halloween programming! (Missed Christopher H. Baum’s War of the Worlds?  Don’t worry, it’ll be back, and soon, we’re doing a special show on The Event Horizon all about it.)

We know what you’re thinking.  This looks like it’s modeled closely on the breakout hit of 2010, Disney’s Tangled.  There’s the fresh, unpretentious pretty girl with a heart, the handsome male guardian/adventurer, and of course, the preternaturally intelligent horse sidekick.  But while you could be forgiven for thinking this, that’s where the similarities end.

There’s no real villian the way there was in Tangled – instead, there’s a sister who really desperately needs to be saved from herself before she destroys everything.

But the music is there, and it’s soaring and beautiful and uplifting.  The dialog is spirited and clever, the film is visually brilliant from what we can see, and of course, it’s got the Disney design sensibilities.   And just tons of charm.

The film is directed by Chris Buck (“Tarzan,” “Surf’s Up”) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, “Wreck-It Ralph”), and produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Winnie the Pooh,” “The Princess and the Frog”). Featuring music from Tony®-winner Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“In Transit”), “Frozen” journeys into theaters November 27, 2013, in Disney Digital 3DTM in select theaters.

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