Tag Archives: Fangoria

Cooking PRICE-wise: Sp-boo-on Bread and Villianicious Ham!

One of the reasons that I wanted to try and have two running themes this month (Halloween masks and Vincent Price) is because not all of the Vincent Price content is going to be specifically Halloween-y.  This morning I posted about some monster masks, and this evening I’m going to talk about cooking some crazy 60s-ish era food (which when I stop and think about it could be frightening if only for the amount of butter and eggs in the following recipe!)  Vincent Price was anything but simply pigeonholed as a horror icon.  A veritable renaissance man who loved art as much as acting, and could cook as well as most chefs of his time, there wasn’t a lot of stuff that he wasn’t interested in.

As I mentioned in my sneak preview this past Friday, one of the ways that I found a very personal connection to him has been though his love of interesting culinary concoctions, specifically through the publication of his two cookbooks (which he co-authored with his second wife Mary), A Treasury of Great Recipes and Come Into the Kitchen.  I’ve been searching for inexpensive copies of both books for years and finally managed to snag both this past winter (check eBay as they’ve been popping up fairly cheapy lately.)  From time to time, when I’ve been in a particularly experimental and unhealthy-eating mood, I’ve taken these down from the shelves and tried my hand at replicating some of the dishes.  Today I’d like to share one of these gastronomical experiments with you.  Culled from A Treasury of Great Recipes (originally published in 1965), I present Price’s rendition of Spoonbread with Virginia Ham.  Since there’s nothing inherently frightening about his recipes, I’ll do my best to come up with some spooky titles (ala the pun-y fun that the Cryptkeeper has in naming the stories in Tales From the Crypt.)  I’ll call this one, Sp-boo-on Bread and Villianlicious Ham!

From the description and the ingredients I was basically expecting this to make some sort of giant cornbread muffin with ham mixed in that you “spooned” out of a casserole dish and served in a rustic style.  But will it turn out that way?  Lets see…

The recipe calls for: 1 Cup White Corn Flour, 1 teaspoon Salt, 2 teaspoons Baking Powder, 1/2 cup chopped Virginia Ham, 4 cups Milk, 2 tablespoons of Butter, and 3 Eggs…

Alright, first pre-heat an oven to 350 degrees.  Next, bring 2 cups milk to an almost boil in a pot on the stovetop.  Mix in (slowly) the salt and corn flour until thick.  Take off heat and set aside.  It’ll make a thick porridge-like mixture which needs to cool to luke-warm.  While the corn meal mixture is cooling, heat a sauté pan over medium to medium high heat.  Add the butter and sauté the ham until heated through and lightly browned…

   

Mix the ham with the cooled corn meal, and set aside.  Next, crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat with a fork until thoroughly mixed.  Slowly add the corn meal and ham mixture to the eggs.  Once combined, add the remaining 2 cups of milk to the mixture.  Last, add the baking powder and give the bowl a quick stir to combine it.

   

Pour the mixture into a buttered 10×10 oven safe baking dish.  Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for one hour until the mixture rises and browns on top.  Remove and serve immediately…

So this was a very weird dish at the end of the day.  While I was expecting some sort of ham-y corn muffin loaf, in actuality the Spoonbread is much more like a crust-less quiche.  While this was still quite tasty, it was way more rich and hard to power through than I had anticipated.  In fact the dish is screaming for smaller portions and a side salad to help balance the richness of the egg-y spoonbread.

Though it’s not my favorite of the Vincent Price recipes I’ve tried over the past year, it’s probably the most interesting one I’ve attempted, with the most surprising results!

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more Halloween mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 4: A Don Post Extravaganza!

Welcome back to day four of Branded’s Countdown to Halloween!  Today’s ad is really cool because it features a ton of masks, and for the first time in the countdown they’re in glorious full color!  This two-page spread of Don Post masks comes from a 1979 issue of Starlog…

If you look closely at the thumbnailed pictures in the ad you’ll probably recognize a good chunk of these from previous Famous Monsters of Filmland and Creepy ads that I posted last week (the Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi Dracula masks, the multi-colored werewolves, and Uncle Creepy to name a few.)  But there are a lot of new additions to this advertisement, in particular a series of non-monster entries like the Sheik, Mr. Kool, the Pirate, Fatherhead, and the Mad Scientist (which looks more like a pissed off Moses mask if you ask me.)  There’s also a smattering of branded offerings like a few from Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz and the 70s Hertzog remake of Nosferatu

On a side note, that Nosferatu mask and gloves show up in some scenes in the 80s vampire flick Fright Night.  You can see them incased in glass (just like in this ad) in the background of Peter Vincent’s (Roddy McDowell) apartment.  This ad is also pretty fun as it illustrates a story from an old episode of the Art & Story podcast, where Mark Rudolph and Jerzy Drozd were reminiscing over some Halloween memories that involved seeing that Alien Facehugger prop in a local store when they were kids.  I saw a lot of cool masks in Spencer Gifts as a kid, but never any props as cool as that facehugger!

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 3: Let Dick Smith take you to Space!

For day three let me present an ad for Dick Smith’s iconic Space Creatures make-up/mask kits from the very first issue of Fangoria published in 1979!

Granted, these kits required a little more effort than just pulling an all-in-one mask over your head, but for what they lack in ease of use, they make up for in spades with awesome moveable jaw pieces and originality.  Well, sort of original.  That Vorkan kit is an obvious rip-off of the Darth Vader mask design, but it’s still pretty darn cool!

I also wanted to share this ad, even though it’s not strictly for masks, because it comes from the pages of Fangoria.  That magazine was a big horror touchstone for me growing up in the 80s, in particular for the many mask ads that littered the pages of each issue.  So I thought it would be cool to share something from the very first issue to help set the tone for the rest of the month.  I’d say that about 80% of the ads I’ll be sharing this month come from the pages of Fangoria or its sister publication Starlog.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 2: Fit for a Famous Monster…

Welcome back to the Month of Monster Mask Madness!  For today’s feature I thought I’d share the remaining ads from my Famous Monsters of Filmland collection (which I started this past Thursday.)  I don’t have a lot of issues of FMoF, but I really dig the ones I’ve managed to get my grubby little hands on.

This first ad comes from the July 1975 issue of FMoF, and features a lot of the same masks from the 1968 Creepy ad I shared last week…

The main difference is that this ad has omitted the Dracula mask in favor of the unfortunately Out-of-Stock Zombie mask.  What I liked though was that they added a section of monster glove accessories that you could pair up with the masks to better complete a spooky ensemble…

Next is an ad from August of 1976…

This ad was neat because it features some non-Universal horror icons, namely some of the characters from the Planet of the Apes flicks, Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, and a warrior ape!  These are paired with some of the classic cheap-o monsters masks, like the Frankenstein’s monster mask that FMoF was peddling since 1959.  At least readers finally got a chance to see what was in store before they purchased them this time around…

Last up today we have an ad from November of 1979…

I really dug this ad because it was one of the first to really stray away from only offering Universal monsters.  Don’t get me wrong, I love their stable of monsters as much as any monster kid, but there is a whole wide world of other creatures to celebrate.  In particular I was happy to see the Sargoth the Cobra and the very realistic visage of a Mummy.  I also really dig that screen-accurate Christopher Lee Hammer Dracula mask.  I did think it was a little odd to be offering two variations on the Werewolf mask, especially since they were so close in description (one being grey while the other was snowy white)…

Anyway, come back tomorrow for more mask tomfoolery, and if you’re looking for a ton of Halloween content all through the month of October, make sure to stop on by the official Countdown to Halloween site and check out the list of participating blogs for 2011.  You’ll be glad you did!

Halloween Mask Madness, Day 1: Marvel at those Monster Masks!

Welcome to the first day of Branded in the 80s 2011 Countdown to Halloween!  This year is all about monster masks (with a little bit of Vincent Price to liven things up.)  Check back here ever day through the month of October for some fun vintage monster mask ads and more!

This first advertisement comes from the pages of Marvel comics back in 1977.  I though that this would be a fitting place to start as it’s the year that I was ushered into the world and represents my first Halloween ever.  It’s also the only mask ad of this type that I was able to find in my collection of older superhero comics…

For a measly $3.19 ($3.94 with shipping and handling) you could own one of seven different monster masks, or even a complete Ben Cooper Spiderman or Hulk costume!  For big spenders, there was also a Wolfman mask complete with sewn in hair for a whopping $10.53!  I loved the Ben Cooper costumes growing up, though I didn’t get a chance to wear many of them.  My mom tended to make my costumes, which were always cool, but there was still a tangible allure to those bright and vivid vinyl costumes that was hard to ignore.  Sure, it never made sense why the Hulk costume has a picture of the Hulk on it, but it was still pretty darn cool.

For more creeptacular fun, check out the official Countdown to Halloween page for a list of other site participating in a month-long celebration of all things Halloween!  You’ll be glad you did…

Continuing the Vincentennial…

Alright, the insanity officially starts tomorrow.  You can head on over to the Countdown To Halloween at midnight tonight to get the full list of the 2011 blog-a-thon participants, and stay tuned all month long for daily Halloween-y articles.  As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve run out of spooky monster animation cels to share, but I have plenty of fun in store.  Along with my daily selection of vintage monster mask posts, I’ve also decided to pepper the month with some observations about Horror’s renaissance man, Vincent Price (considering 2011 would have been his 100th year on the planet.)  Granted, the Vincentennial was technically this past May, but I think the world can do with a bit more Price-y reverie.  As a sort of sneak peek I thought I’d share this reminiscence that I wrote earlier in the year for the Strange Kids Club

Growing up in the 80s, my first introduction to Vincent Price was most likely while watching re-runs of the 60s era Batman TV show where he guest-starred as the dastardly Egghead, but he was always around haunting the odd corners of the pop culture zeitgeist.  Whether it was his turn as Vincent Van Ghoul in the 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, as a pitchman for everything from monster vitamins to Tilex, or as the lonely aging Geppetto/Dr. Frankenstein-esque character The Inventor in Edward Scissorhands, Price has always been lurking in every dark shadow waiting to delight the world with his macabre presence.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started taking an interest in his work (on and off the screen.)  In fact I’d never actually watched one of his films until I turned 30 and decided to dig into one of those mega-50-horror-movie-DVD-sets that you find floating around the discount bins during the Halloween season.

I’d settled on The Last Man on Earth as it sounded like a fun flick to watch on a Saturday morning, something that Elvira or Grandpa Munster would have shown on one of the UHF stations when I was a kid.  I figured this would justify the $10 bucks I spent on the set, and I’d finally get to see what all this Vincent Price hoopla was all about.  86 minutes later I sat in front of the TV in stunned silence.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I was taken aback at how good this flick was.  The story shinned through the horribly scratchy and faded public domain quality print of the film, and though you could tell that this was a very low budget production, Vincent Price elevated the film with his masterful presence (even through the dubbing and voice-over.)  Originally released in 1964, the film bridges the gap between the Technicolor schlock and gore of Hammer and Herschell Gordon Lewis and the solemn gritty reality of Night of the Living Dead, helping to usher in a quarter century of amazingly influential modern horror.

This wasn’t the first time Vincent Price helped to change the tide for horror.  Films like House of Wax and The Fly were pivotal in endearing a new generation to monster movies in the 50s, years after the luster of the Universal heyday had almost faded away.  When you also consider his short stint as the Invisible Man (in the first sequel to the 1933 film, as well as a cameo in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein), his work with gimmick maestro William Castle, and his time with Roger Corman and American International Pictures (bringing the work of Edgar Allen Poe to the screen), you can see what his reputation is cemented as the master of horror.

Though I love all of his contributions to the genre (having devoured his catalog in the last three years), I’ve found a much more personal connection to the man outside of horror.  Through a myriad of surviving audio interviews and his long out-of-print autobiography I’ve come to know Vincent Price as a true renaissance man.  His love of art knew no bounds and he spent a lifetime collecting and making it possible, though his partnership with Sears back in the 50s and 60s, for everyone to be able to own affordable works by centuries of masters.  Take a second and listen to his records narrating a trip through the Louvre, and you’ll be infected by his passion.

Strangely enough it was though his love of cooking and the culinary world that I connected with him the most deeply.  Vincent Price and his second wife Mary authored two cookbooks, A Treasury of Great Recipes and Come into the Kitchen, both featuring a wide variety of food spanning both the history of American as well as adapted recipes from restaurants all over the world.  Price also narrated a series of international culinary records that takes the listener all over the world as well as into his home with all sorts of tips, anecdotes and advice.  Though the style of cooking is firmly set in the 60s with absolutely no concern for “healthy” eating, there’s no more visceral way to connect with someone like one can over the sharing of food.  I’ve taken a cue from a couple I know and reserved special occasions as an excuse to pull the Price Treasury down from the shelf to concoct some gut-busting gastronomical wonders.  His reworking of the classic Sardi’s Meat Sauce recipe has completely changed the way I think about pasta with red sauce, and it’s a dish that I’ve cooked numerous times for friends and family.

Through a vast body of work I’ve gotten to know Vincent Price over the last few years, and it’s been a journey that’s changed the way I look at life.  I know that may sound weird and cheesy, but it’s not that often that a life examined yields so much insight into what it means to truly live.  He’s also reminded me of one of the key things that helps to keep me pointed forward and exploring.  To paraphrase the great Price, one has to be interested in everything in order for oneself to be interesting…

Halloween Mask M-ad-ness!

Well, there are just two short days before the official beginning of the 2011 Countdown to Halloween and I couldn’t be more excited.  Though I’ve run out of cool Real Ghostbusters monster animation cels to share (like I did in 2009 and 2010), I do have a bunch of fun stuff in store.  The main countdown theme at Branded this year is going to be Halloween Mask m-AD-ness, where I’m going to share a bunch of vintage monster mask ads throughout the month.  Now, I don’t consider myself any sort of authority on the subject (for more in depth mask blogging see the Blood Curdling Blog of Monster Masks), quite the contrary in fact.  My interest in monster masks stems from the amazement I felt as a kid when walking into a Spencer’s in our local mall during the Halloween season.  There’d be a wall of masks and props that would keep me enraptured for hours while my mom did her shopping.  We could never really afford any of those masks back then, but I could afford the odd copy of Fangoria or Starlog which tended to have mask advertisements in every issue (except 1985, but I’ll get to that later) that I’d sit and study for what seemed like days at a time.  So I thought it would be fun to go through my collection of mask ads and share my thoughts.

Though this will be the main daily theme, I’m also going to try my best to cover another topic as well, but look for that sneak peek tomorrow.  Also, I’d like to mention that the great Plaid Stallions site was gracious enough to let me use some of the imagery from their Ben Cooper catalog scans in order to make the mask banner above.  You should check them out for all your fun 70s fashion faux pas and nostalgia memories, in particular this coming month when they’ll take part in the 2011 Countdown to Halloween!  Alright, lets take a look at some really vintage mask ads to get the tone set for October!

I’m not sure when the first modern Halloween masks (rubber, latex, vinyl, or even pressed and molded plastic) crept into pop culture, but I’m pretty sure that the fad was going pretty strong during the initial publication of Famous Monsters of Filmland in the late 50s.  The first few ads I have here are from that wonder of a monster magazine, like this one from issue #4, first published in 1959…

I love these old ads because of the artwork used to illustrate the products.  These illustrations in particular strike a chord with me because my own artwork has naturally tended in this direction…

I also love these illustrations because I know that they were so much cooler than the actual masks were!  You can see the difference more clearly with this next ad that was also featured in issue #4 of FMoF

    

My all time favorite mask rendering in an ad has to be the illustration for the Shock Monster.  That drawing took on a life of it’s own and eventually became a mascot of sorts for Famous Monsters.  Mirek over at Shock! has a great write-up about that mask and the illustration (which was done by Keith Ward.)  Similarly striking is the androgynous visage of the Girl Vampire which also pervaded these magazines and the ad pages of comics for what seems like decades.

Rounding out the Famous Monsters mask ads is the one on the above, right from issue #41 originally published in 1964.  This one mixes the tried and true illustrations of the classic offerings with a selection of masks inspired by the Universal stable of monsters (as well as a side section with some Munsters masks, even though it’s illustrated with production stills instead of actual masks.)  This one cracks me up because it touts that the UM masks are the same ones used by Universal Pictures.  I seriously doubt these masks, or anything like them were ever used in any film productions.  Maybe on the back-lot during tours, but the implication is otherwise.  This ad also featured the weirdo Mystery Man mask (top of the ad), which looks a whole heck of a lot like a cross between a gimp mask and the faceplate Hannibal Lector wore in Silence of the Lambs!

Last up today are a couple of ads from the Famous Monsters sister comic antholy published by Warren called Creepy.  These are from issue #18, originally published in 1968…

    

The ad on the left featured a bevy of Universal Monsters masks that much have been super expensive back in ’68.  Heck, just 4 years prior you could order similar masks from FMoF for a fraction of the price.  Granted the level of detail on these is better, but I wonder of there was an extreme case of sticker shock when kids saw the $34 price tag.  Dang, it would have taken me months to save that much money even back in the 80s.  I’m guessing maybe these might have been aimed at a more adult crowd then?

The ad on the right is fun as it features the Warren comic anthology mascots Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie in 3-D mask form.  Now that’s a level of branding and merchandise that really warms my heart.  This one also features some different pictures of the Mystery Man mask I mentioned earlier, complete with gimp-like removable mouth covering.  So freaking weird.

Well, hopefully that’ll begin to give you an idea of what the next month will be like.  I hope you come back and take a gander at some of the awesome ads that I have in store.  Also, come back tomorrow to get a sneak peak at the other Halloween topic I’m hoping to cover throughout October.  You can also wander over to the Countdown to Halloween for a list of over 150 sites participating in Halloween-y blogging all month long!

Post Card Project Mail-Out Wave 3, Oh the Horror! -UPDATED-

Alright, it’s about time for another Mail-Out session of the Branded in the 80s Post Card Project!  This time around I have a special treat just in time for the Halloween season as I’ve scored a copy of the 1985 Fangoria Magazine postcard issue!

It took me awhile to find an affordable copy of this beauty (when I was scoping it out copies were selling for upwards of $50 each, though now it seems they’re popping up at more reasonable prices.)  Anyway, I was really excited to get my grubby little hands on these vintage postcards, though to be 100% honest, I was a little confused by what I found between the covers.  This issue boasts at offering “24 Incredibly Gross Full Color Postcards!”  I can vouch for their full color-ness, but the gross to not-so-much-so ratio is a bit off.  Anyway, that isn’t to say that these aren’t a batch of fun cards, because they are in fact really fun.

I have decided in the interest of those with weak constitutions and those with inflated expectations of gore, that I should temper this mail-out with some catagories to pick from.  Basically I’ve deemed that there are 13 fun horror themed cards, 7 truly gory cards, and 4 cards that are barely scraping by to be considered horror or Halloween-y related at all (these four were filed under the Scream Queen category in the magazine, but even so the picture choices were very weird.)  So, on a fist come, first serve basis I’ll be sending these out, but it’s important that when requesting a postcard you state whether you want a regular one, a gory one, or one of the not-so-horror scream queen cards.  I’ll keep this post updated with what’s available below…

So if you’d like to received a bona fide 26 year-old vintage horror postcard in the mail directly from Branded in the 80s, send me an email with “Fangoria Postcards” in the subject line.  Be sure to include your name and snail mail address, as well as which type of postcard you’d like to receive.  As with the first and second wave’s participants, if you’d like to take some photos with the postcard, you can send ‘em in and I’ll post them here and on the Branded Facebook page with a shout out to your blog or website.

Normal Horror = 3

Really Gory = All Gone

Scream Queens = All Gone

Oh, and in case you were wondering why Fangoria decided to release a postcard issue, the explanation is below in the magazine introduction.  Apparently it had something to do with the convergence of 80s rock, the WWF, horror movies, and aliens?!?  At least they gave us a flow chart to try and understand the reasoning…

    

Man, I miss Steve Gerber…

I found some time this weekend and scanned another Thundarr the Barbarian article.  This one comes from an issue of Fantastic from 1980, though for the life of me I can’t remember which month.  It was written by Adam Eisenberg and makes a nice companion piece to the Fangoria/Buzz Dixon article I posted before, though it centers on more of the limitations and censorship the series had to overcome because of the imposed network standards and practices…

I know I tend to go on and on about this idea time and again, but I think it’s interesting to note just how important the 1980-1983 timeframe was for modern action animation.  In the piece Steve Gerber talks a little bit about the collective intentions to bring the “action” back to action/adventure cartoons while creating Thundarr with Joe Ruby (of Ruby Spears.)   First off, though he was already working in animation doing production design for Hanna Barbera, Jack Kirby was probably hot on Gerber and Ruby’s minds because of what he brought to the table for Marvel and DC comics.   I think it’s really cool to see an animation production team playing to the strengths of their contracted talent instead of trying to force them to bend in another direction, which doesn’t always bode well in network/studio environment.

At the same time, Gerber admits that even while shooting for the stars in terms of creating a thrilling action oriented cartoon they still had their hands tied to an extent where their barbarian hero couldn’t “…throw a punch or…even hit anybody.  He can do all kids of acrobatic things, but he can’t even trip anyone.”  This kind of over protective standards and practices is equal parts infuriating and incredibly flooring.  Whereas it’s frustrating to watch a cartoon that centers around a barbarian that you just know wants to knock the block off of every douche-bag wizard that he runs across (they are enslaving humanity you know), these limitations opened the door to exploring another heroic archetype, the strong non-violent hero (think He-Man.)  Though I know it’s really easy to bag on the He-Man ideal for being too goodie good and unrealistic, this kind of storytelling is not always about focusing on the visceral and gritty realism.  Sometimes it’s about fables and though I know this is obvious, morality.  This is what’s really cool about a great creative environment, that there is room to explore both paths (and more), so you can have something more fist in the face like G.I. Joe, something more moral like Masters of the Universe, and something inbetween like Thundarr.

So this short period in animation is so interesting to me because it marks the beginning of the end of 10 long years of anti-integrity self-imposed studio censorship…

Similarly Gerber and Ruby found themselves challenged by another aspect of depicting violence in cartoons in that they weren’t allowed to have any kind of traditional barbarian sword for the Thundarr character.  According to S&P there could be no sharp objects like knives or swords.  Though it could have hampered some of the design aesthetic on the show this limitation pushed them to create something interesting and new in Thundarr’s Sunsword.   Trying to sidestep riffing too much off of Star Wars the sword was designed to have a blade forged from a bolt of lightning.   Again, even though they were hampered by network S&P the crew ended up treating this as a chance to bring something relatively new to the table, or at least they used it as an opportunity to tie in a different set of influences than a barbarian fantasy cartoon would normally lean on.  It’s less Conan and more Norse god in look and design.  Again, this is certainly playing to the strengths of Jack Kirby who brought a taste of his work on characters such as Thor and the various 4th World creations for DC.

   

Here’s another Gerber quote from the article that I love…

“The big thing that we’ve had to overcome is that the censors tend to treat children as if they’re not just morons, but lunatics, potentially dangerous creatures.”

 

Demon Dogs!

I’ve been getting pretty excited about the impending release of Warner Bros. Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980s, Vol. 1 as it’ll finally give me a chance to revisit one of the shows I never got a chance to see much of as a kid, Thundarr the Barbarian.   Granted, it’s only a taste with one episode on this two-disc set, but it’ll be better quality than the various youtube videos that have been satiating my hunger in the interim.  Besides, if this set is successful it might lead to more Thundarr on DVD.

Regardless, I’ve been thinking about the series lately and in a moment of kismet I stumbled upon a couple of Thundarr-centric articles while doing some magazine back-issue research on another project.  These articles are pretty cool considering they largely feature Jack Kirby’s production artwork, not to mention a few Alex Toth model sheets.  I thought it would be fun to share one of them today; written by Buzz Dixon (of Sunbow animation fame) this article was originally featured in issue number 9 of Fangoria magazine back in November of 1980 (when the horror magazine felt a whole heck of a lot more like its sister publication Starlog.)

Since I haven’t really seen a full episode of Thundarr since I was a kid, reading this article puts me right back into that mindset of speculation and hoping the cartoon will be as cool as it potentially can be based on this artwork and Dixon’s enthusiasm for the project…

  

Like Blackstar, Thundarr unfortunately debuted right before the landscape of network and syndicated television was drastically changed in 1982-83.   Because of strict regulations and pressure from parent activist groups there were some crucial missing ingredients that kept most cartoons from reaching their true potential in the 70s and very early 80s.  In particular there was a ban on fully merchandising cartoon series, in particular releasing toys of popular shows, and I think this lack of product awareness hurt that instant recognition a good toy line has on kids.  When He-Man and the Masters of the Universe came on the scene it shattered all expectations of just how popular the combination of a well-designed toy line and thought out cartoon series could be.  Had Thundarr gestated in the minds of Steve Gerber and Ruby Spears just a little longer I think it had the potential to depose He-Man from the throne it seized in the early 80s. 

Not only was it similar in style, design and tone, and thus obviously a successful to the audience, Thundarr pushed the envelope of action animation much further as it was coming from the likes of Gerber and Kirby who were well steeped in comics dynamic storytelling.  The unbridled power that Kirby is well known for can be felt in every second of the animation, even if it’s only a shadow of what he brought to the comics medium.  Add to that Steve Gerber’s wackiness and biting social commentary and you have a powder keg just waiting to explode.   Again, there was so much potential in this series, and I truly believe that a toy line, even a mediocre one, would have ignited it.

  

If I get a chance I’ll scan the second Thundarr article I found this past weekend, though I think it’s filled with the same production artwork.   Now to go back to waiting, though it’s just a couple more weeks before the DVD finally hits store shelves

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