When it comes to Pixar there really isn’t much they touch that doesn’t turn to gold. Having said that however there are genres they’ve yet to tackle. Sure, they have given friendly monsters a go as well as a sentient vehicle universe. Not to mention moving films dealing with growing old in addition to the greatest Fantastic Four movie made. That was of course not an official film of Marvel’s First Family – but it was…INCREDIBLE…nonetheless.
See what I did there?
Ahem. While 2004’s The Incredibles marked Pixar’s first foray into superheroes. The talented Phil Postma is always eager to present different genres that Pixar has yet to approach. You might recall some of the other artwork of Postma’s that we’ve shared on The Retroist before. Like what if Rankin and Bass had produce a 1977 stop motion version of The Hobbit. Or perhaps Fisher-Price had produced Adventure People Killers to their toy line?
Back in 2013, it turns out that Phil presented Pixar versions of some legendary pulp characters. Such as Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Ming the Merciless of course.
Images courtesy of Phil Postma.
He also shared a look at what Pixar could deliver with Lee Falk’s The Phantom.
Last but certainly not least and the film I wish Pixar would truly deliver is The Shadow!
Make sure to hop on over to Phil’s official blog – The Minion Factory. You can check out even more of his fantastic artwork and even purchase merchandise.
Now that we’ve seen what some pulp characters would look like if Pixar was in charge of character design. How about re-watching what an animated series for The Rocketeer might look like?
Back in 1985 one of my favorite animated series was Defenders of the Earth. Numerous times on The Retroist I’ve mentioned my fondness for pulp characters. Of heroes of the Golden Age – like The Shadow, The Phantom and others.
Thanks in fact to the 1980 Flash Gordon film. I came across an old collection of comic strips from King Features Syndicate at my local library. Which is of course how I was introduced to the likes of Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. Which like The Phantom was a creation of Lee Falk as well. They even had old Popeye collections from the E.C. Segar strip days!
So you can easily imagine my joy when the Defenders of the Earth series debuted one morning. Bear in mind that if you didn’t have access to a TV Guide you were generally caught unawares about a new animated weekday show.
Until last night however I wasn’t aware that the Defenders of the Earth had grouped together before 1985. Back in 1972 in fact for Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter – which was part of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie!
When I stumbled on this I felt for a moment like I was reading an issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moreover these early Defenders were joined by another King Features Syndicate hero – Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon.
That is not even the most interesting part of it. The group that we would come to know as the Defenders of the Earth were brought together for a very special mission.
The Defenders of the Earth circa 1972.
In Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter, the US government asked the team to locate missing comic strip characters. Such as Blondie and Dagwood.
Beetle Bailey and Sarge.
As well as Popeye and Olive Oyl of course!
To say nothing of characters from Henry, Hi and Lois, Tiger and Prince Valiant. In addition to Bringing Up Father, Little Iodine, Snuffy Smith, and more.
Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter concerns itself with the villainous Professor Morbid Grimsby. A wretch who plans on banishing all laughter in the world – aided by a super computer as well as Popeye’s nemesis, Brutus. Inviting the cast of comic strip superstars aboard a yacht – the S.S. Hilarious. Taking them to the island hideaway of Professor Grimsby, where they will be his prisoners.
It’s up to the proto-Defenders of the Earth to locate the missing characters. Now in view of just how awesome this TV special really is, I should warn you about something. The sound isn’t that good. But in all honesty we are all incredibly lucky that Stupid Dim Bulb was able to upload this rare 1972 movie.
While it would take the Defenders of the Earth 13 years in fact to return to animation. Popeye was back in action in 1978 with The All New Popeye Hour!
Welcome back friends to the Retro Radio Memories podcast! This week for your Old Time Radio listening pleasure we offer an episode from 1951’s The Whisperer radio series entitled “Stanley Hayes Must Die By Midnight” that originally was broadcast on September 2, 1951. If you like The Shadow I believe you’ll enjoy this radio series although it certainly has more humor than could be found in the Smith and Street character’s series.
If you have any comments or feedback for the Projectionist and I you can contact us at by way of VicSage@Retroist.com. You can also reach us by Twitter and of course on Facebook.
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As always I would like to thank our friends over at Radio Archives for giving me the opportunity to review another of Will Murray’s Pulp Classic audiobooks. This time it was for Doctor Death: The Gray Creatures, which was written by Harold Ward back in March of 1935 under the pseudonym of Zorro. Now I have to wonder did Ward use the name of Zorro as a nod to the fictional character created by Johnston McCulley back in 1919 or was he using it for the Spanish term of Fox? I haven’t been able to find any answer to my question but thought it was worth pointing out.
Now with other pulp tales the main character is of course the intelligent and dashing hero, much like Doc Savage. Or the cloaked scourge of the underworld in the vein of the Shadow or the Spider. While there is of course a hero in the tales of Doctor Death…the pulp IS named after the villain of the story. Doctor Death was once a Professor of Psychology at Yale University by the name of Rance Mandarin but has now become a mad scientist, this is pulp fiction though so it means he must be even more than that! Mandarin has become a master in the occult arts and thanks to his fanatical belief that the Almighty has commanded him to aid man in turning his back on scientific progress and industry and to do so he has become a servant of Satan and relies on his strange powers of necromancy, consorting not only with the dead but elementals and fiends from the very depths of Hell to slaughter those he has marked for a gruesome demise.
Doctor Death finds himself opposed though by none other than Jimmy Holm, a millionaire criminologist who is also an occultist and a detective in the New York Police Department. Holm is aided by his boss, Inspector John Ricks, as well as a group known as the Secret Twelve. The Secret Twelve is comprised of the top U.S. Civil and Business leaders, not to mention the country’s top criminal gang leader and…the President of the United States!
In the Gray Creatures we find that an important and wealthy Egyptian has been murdered in his apartment, Holm and Ricks quickly realize that this grisly act has all of the trappings of their deplorable foe, Doctor Death. Worse we learn that Holm’s fiance, Nina Fererra who once was an assistant against her will to the Doctor has been kidnapped, the two officers assigned to protect her…murdered.
What plot has Doctor Death concocted this time to hurl the world back into the Dark Ages? What does it have to do with Zombies? Why must Holm and Ricks travel to Egypt? Can Nina be saved in time?
You’ll just have to listen to this fantastic audiobook for yourself to learn these secrets, my friends. Will Murray has knocked it out of the park with this audiobook as he always does. The narrator for this particular tale of Magic, Murder, and Mayhem is Joey D’Auria…who just happened to be Bozo the Clown for WGN-TV from 1984 to 2001.
By following the link up top you can purchase Doctor Death: The Gray Creatures either as a digital download for a mere $11.98 or the CD set for $17.98, of course while you are there you can pick up the first Audiobook featuring Doctor Death entitled 12 Must Die for $9.98 as a digital download or $14.98 as the CD set.
After listening to this offering I came to the conclusion that the delightful 1971 film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes starring the legendary Vincent Price owes no small amount of debt to the likes of Doctor Death.