A Covering Comics Bonus – The Tomb Of Dracula Animated Movie (1980)

todm1Last week I published a “Covering Comics” article featuring one of my all-time favorite horror comics, Marvel’s The Tomb of Dracula which ran from 1972 to 1979. You can read that article here. One thing that I didn’t note at the time was that there was an animated adaptation of the series, something that even most comics fans aren’t aware of.

Probably a big reason for that is because rather than being developed and released in the US, the movie was actually made by the Toei studio in Japan.

Yep, we’re talking Dracula anime. Well, sort of.

Titled Yami no Teiō: Kyūketsuki Dorakyura or Emperor of Darkness: Vampire Dracula, the animated made-for-Japanese-television movie actually mimics the style of the comic series fairly well, rather than attempting to adapt it to the anime style more familiar to American audiences today. Unfortunately, it also attempts to condense the entire 70 issue series into one 94 minute film. Or, again, sort of.

todm2You see, the real focus of the movie is on the last 20 or so issues of the book which feature Dracula’s struggles with his son Janus and his inevitable destruction. This means that the roles of some of the other characters are inevitably changed, and of course, since it wasn’t intended for an American release, there are certain Japanese cultural touches that are included that likely otherwise wouldn’t have been, such as Quincy Harker making sure that Frank Drake has adequate kung-fu skills.

Nonetheless, in the end, this really isn’t a terrible adaptation of the series, it just really isn’t that good either. Still, it does stand out as a kind of cultural curiosity.

Though as far as I’m aware, the movie has never had an official VHS or disk release in the US, it did enjoy a short run on cable in a dubbed version produced by Harmony Gold under the title Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, and that’s the version that I’ve embedded for you below. Enjoy!

 

 

This Early Stop Motion/Live Action Short Really Lays An Egg – It’s A Bird (1930)

This intriguing short film from 1930 is entitled It’s a Bird and features comedian Charley Bowers interacting with some very interesting stop-motion animated creatures.

For those who have never heard of Bowers (as I hadn’t until I ran across this) here’s a bit of biography on him, taken from Wikipedia:

cbThe son of Dr. Charles E. Bowers and his wife, Mary I. Bowers, Charles Raymond Bowers was born in Cresco, Iowa. His early career was as a cartoonist on the Mutt and Jeff series of cartoons for the Barré Studio. By the late 20s, he was starring in his own series of slapstick comedies for R-C Pictures and Educational Pictures. His slapstick comedies, a few of which have survived, are an amazing mixture of live action and animation created with the “Bowers Process.” Complex Rube Goldberg gadgets also appear in many of his comedies. Two notable films include Now You Tell One with a memorable scene of elephants marching into the U.S. Capitol, and There It Is, a surreal mystery involving the Fuzz-Faced Phantom and MacGregor, a cockroach detective. He made a few sound films such as It’s a Bird and Wild Oysters, and wrote and illustrated children’s books in his later years. For eight years during the 1930s he lived in Wayne, New Jersey, and drew cartoons for the Jersey Journal. After succumbing to severe arthritis, his wife started drawing them under his direction.

Having seen that, I’m curious to check out more of his work. Wikipedia notes that a collection of what is known to have survived was released by Image Entertainment in 2004. It’s definitely something I think I’m going to have to track down.

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When Donald Duck Was Nominated For The Oscar For Best Documentary – The New Spirit (1942)

ns1A Donald Duck short nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature? Yep it happened.

You see, because of the various rate changes and income brackets introduced in the Revenue Act of 1942, which was passed in order to help finance America’s part in World War II, approximately 15 million Americans would be asked to pay income taxes for the first time. In order to encourage the public to not only pay this new tax, abut to do so properly and on time, and to explain why the government needed the money, then Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. approached Walt Disney to produce a propaganda film to cast the concept in a positive light and perhaps make biting the bullet just a little easier.

At first, it was proposed that a new character to simply be known as “Mr. Average Taxpayer”be crated for the short, but Disney, who certainly was one who understood the American moviegoer and what would appeal to them much more than Mr Morganthau, countered that Donald, who was at that point Disney’s biggest star, would be more appropriate for the task. After all, if even the irascible duck was willing to pay his fair share. then perhaps it would help the rest of the public see doing their part as the good and patriotic thing to do also.

ns3Thus was the short film The New Spirit born.

Directed by Wilfred Jackson and Ben Sharpsteen, and featuring Clarence Nash as the voice of Donald, Fred Shields as the radio announcer, and Cliff Edwards singing the theme song, while this was the first propaganda film Disney produced to aid the war effort, it would be far from the last.

“Interestingly, the financial information included in the short are accurate if one takes Donald’s salary of $2501 as accurate. Donald files as Head of Family since he is single and able to claim Huey, Dewey, and Louie as his dependents, sog his payment of $13 authentic according to the tax bracket. Interestingly, we also see that Donald’s address is 1313 Hollywood Boulevard. and we even get a look at his bank and check numbers

ns2Anyway, the next year, at the 15th Academy Awards, 25 films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, – this was obviously a huge year for propaganda films, and both feature films and shorts ere included in the nominations and The New Spirit was one of them. Unfortunately, it was not one of the four winners, which were The Battle of Midway, Kokoda Front Line!,  Moscow Strikes Back, and  Prelude to War.

Still, one can only wonder just how different Donald’s mantelpiece would have looked with a bight shining Oscar on top of it. Assuming, of course, his nephews didn’t just take it outside to play football with.

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In Anticipation Of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, A Quick Look Back At An Earlier Incarnation

mshI was reminded of these the other day in a completely different context, but seeing how popular the Marvel Super-hero movies have been of late, and considering that cineplexes nationwide are going to be overrun by Cap fans with the release on April 4th of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of Marvel’s earlier attempts to breathe at least a little life into their creations and bring them off the comic book page to the television screen.

The Marvel Super Heroes was an animated series which aired on syndicated television in 1966. It featured five of Marvel’s most popular characters in animated shorts which adapted stories from the comics. Each thirty minute episode would feature three shorts with each character being featured on a different day.  It featured what could somewhat generously be called “limited animation”, but was still actually fun and effective for the time, especially since most of them featured actual comic artwork from the likes of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, and others adapted to the animated style.

The official line-up and the daily rotation of characters ran like this:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

However, these weren’t the only Marvel characters getting the small-screen treatment. 1967 saw the first animated incarnation of the First Family of Marvel Heroes:

And, of course, the same year, Peter Parker’s alter ego, who many see as Marvel’s flagship character also got his shot at our TV screens, giving us, if nothing else, the theme song that every Spideyphile knows:

Finally, since it’s Cap’s movie that is coming soon, here’s the animated take on Captain America’s origin from the first episode.

Unfortunately, so far only the Spider-Man episodes have received a proper DVD release, and they are also currently available for streaming on Netflix. Many of the other shows are available on YouTube, or they can be found by other means, but personally I’d love to see a full, well-done collection of the entire Marvel Super Heroes series. C’mon, Disney! It’s not like you don’t have the resources.

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See Blade Runner (1982) In A Stunningly Beautiful New Light – The Aquarelle Edition (2013)

There have been various different cuts and editions of the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, but never before has it looked quite like this. According to Swedish artist Anders Ramsell, this animation consists of 12,597 handmade aquarelle paintings. Each painting is approximately 1,5*3cm in size.

The result is an absolutely gorgeous adaptation of the film which runs approximately 35 minutes.

For more information on the artist, the project, and the paintings, you can visit Anders Ramsell’s website, located here.

You Already Know Their Voices, Now See Their Faces

They’re the people whose work you’ve enjoyed so much. The people that provide the voices for cartoon characters, animated commercials, radio spots, and other forms of entertainment. Most of the time, they do so in near anonymity. Almost never do you actually get to see their faces. They are people like Mae Questel, Billy Bletcher, Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Arthur Q. Bryan, George O’Hanlon, Frank Nelson, Bill Thompson, Hans Conried, and so many many more. Well here’s your chance to see what these people actually look like, and to put faces with those voices.

Thanks go out to YouTuber RRaquello, who has obviously put in a lot of time, effort, and love for the medium for putting these compilations together and giving us all a chance to enjoy them.

31 Days of Halloween – 029: Spook Sport (1939)

October marches on, and so does our countdown to All Hallows Eve. This year, rather than trying to do a full 31 film reviews or something truly time-consuming like that, most of what I’m going to be posting are favorite trailers, short films, some full-length movies, and other items just to kind of help get everyone in the spirit of what really is one of my favorite holidays.

Spook Sport is a kind of animated ballet created by Norman McLaren in 1939 and set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre.