“His lone battle against the evil forces of society…”

Today is the 80th anniversary of the release of Detective Comics #27, the debut of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s “young socialite” Bruce Wayne and his “mysterious and adventurous” alter-ego, Batman. Ever since his inauguration, the legends of the Caped Crusader has been retold and reimagined in many ways by both professionals and fans. Today’s subject is a particularly interesting interpretation of the World’s Greatest Detective: the 2005 animated short Batman: New Times. The directorial debut of Star Trek: Voyager visual effects artist Jeffery Scheetz, the DAVE School short utilizes character designs based on the Minimates toyline created by Art Asylum and features the vocal talents of two major Batman franchise alumni, Robinson Crusoe on Mars star Adam West and Mark Hamill of Corvette Summer fame, as well as Courtney Thorne-Smith (Ally McBeal) as Catwoman and the illustrious Dick Van Dyke as Commissioner Gordon.

Credit: The DAVE School

“The naughtiest one has come!”

This Christmas season seems to be a pretty good time to see an adaptation of a superhero comic. With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman garnering a great deal of positive buzz and this year’s Deadpool 2 being re-released for the holidays, I’ve decided to take a look at the 2002 short film The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special. Based on the eponymous 1991 one shot comic by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisley and directed by Scott Leberecht, the short features DC Comics’s hypermasculine, pseudo-parodic alien bounty hunter Lobo (Andrew Bryniarski of Batman Returns and Street Fighter fame) on a mission to assassinate Santa Claus at the behest of a desperate Easter Bunny.

Credit: FanboyTheatre

Modal Node to Joy

In May of 1977, an innovative motion picture was released that forever altered the way we understand and create films. It depicted a fast-paced, fantastical adventure that has fueled many imaginations and taught many important life lessons. Of course, I refer to the Hal Needham opus, Smokey and the Bandit! Just kidding, you know what I’m talking about.

There’s no denying the immediate impact that Star Wars has made on the pop cultural landscape, especially in the franchise’s early years. A wide variety of products were made to capitalize on the film’s widespread popularity, ranging from exciting new stories based on the universe, like the early Marvel comics and Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures (which I highly recommend), to other movies and shows that took their cues from George Lucas’s modern-day space serial. Even John Williams’s iconic orchestral score became in vogue, with Meco’s various disco remixes of the leitmotifs from the films being the most famous example.

One of the more obscure tributes to Williams’s work on the films is double bassist Ron Carter‘s 1980 album, Empire Jazz, an easy listening homage to the then-recent music of The Empire Strikes Back, including the themes for Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Leia/Han romance motif. Here is my personal favorite track on the album, the underrated theme of Cloud City kingpin and Rebel general, Lando Calrissian.

Thanks to Andy Lindemann for finding this album.

Steam Factor One

50 years ago, a strange, unique science fiction adventure show kicked off its 3 season run on NBC with the tale of a simple country doctor falling in love with a shape-shifting salt vampire. Ever since these humble origins, the Star Trek franchise has been going strong, with various additions and re-imaginings of the mythos created by both fans and professionals alike. One of the most popular Star Trek fan films is a loving, well-crafted tribute to both Trek and silent films by the name of Steam Trek: The Moving Picture. Directed and co-written by British animator Dennis Sisterson, this hilarious 1994 film details a typical mission aboard the USS Isambard gone awry, thanks to the interference of derby-donning Klingons. With a suitably whimsical score, faithful imagery and inspired characterizations (especially the Harold Lloyd-esque Spock), this short remains one of the top examples of a standout fan production!

Hope you enjoy it and…well, you know.

An Epic for Our Times

Today marks the 99th birthday of comic book virtuoso Jack Kirby (1917-1994), creator of the Fourth World saga and co-creator of many popular and influential superhero titles, including Captain America and The Fantastic Four.  Here are a couple of videos showing that his real life experiences were just as extraordinary as the characters and events he depicted on the page.

First, here’s a clip from an interview where Kirby details a chilling account of his involvement as a soldier in World War II: 

Finally, here is a clip from the 1987 documentary The Masters of Comic Book Art featuring Kirby discussing his approach to storytelling (with an introduction by Harlan Ellison): 

Listen! Do You Smell Something?

When most people think of their introduction to the Ghostbusters franchise, they usually mention the classic 1984 film but for me, I was first exposed to this quirky quartet of extranormal exterminators through the 7-season animated series The Real Ghostbusters. This series (and its cool yet highly underrated sequel series, Extreme Ghostbusters) helped to expand the universe established in the films and with its popularity came a plethora of ancillary merchandising, ranging from toystoothpaste and even a pretty decent soundtrack album released in 1986 featuring songs included in the first two seasons of Real Ghostbusters performed by Tyren Perry and Tonya Townsend. Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the album “Charge You Up!”

Quite Hypnotic…

Captain’s log, stardate 47457.1. Today’s date matches up with the Earth date of June 16th, which is Captain Picard Day! Here are a few ways you can celebrate one of the finest Captains in Starfleet:

  • Watch “Best of Both Worlds”, “Tapestry”, “The Inner Light” and any other Picard-heavy episode.
  • Drink a cup of hot Earl Grey tea.
  • Re-enact this scene: 
  • Ponder why this Frenchman has an English accent.
  • Jam to this: