Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cy Chermak’s "The Show Runner" – Another Great Book I Helped on – Now Released!

Veteran TV writer-producer Cy Chermak’s book The Show Runner was published by my company, Jacobs/Brown Press, on August 1, 2017.

Chermak worked on such classic shows as The Virginian, Barbary Coast, CHiPs, Ironside, and The Night Stalker.

This book is not only a fascinating explication of the process of television production beginning in the 1960s and forward, it’s also filled with personal observations from Cy’s wonderfully acerbic memories.

When he talks about scoring TV episodes, or scouting locations, for instance, he ties these tasks to his own experiences. You’ll have fun discovering what he thinks about some of his past projects, stars, and production staff.

Cy’s sense of humor shines throughout, as he pokes fun at his younger self, too. If you want a fun yet fact-filled romp through some of TV’s golden (and not-so-golden) times, then read Cy’s book.

TRUTH IN REVIEWING: As one of this book’s editors, I was thrilled to be one of the first to read it. You’ll have fun!

Jacobs/Brown’s page for the book.

See you Monday, campers!

Monday, August 07, 2017

Kryptonuptials - Part 3

by Mark Alfred

Part the Third

Love That Joker!

            Sometimes, dear readers, the joke was on us.  The greatest example of DC’s sadism appeared in Lois Lane #15, February, 1960.  “The Super-Family of Steel” was reprinted in Superman #207, an 80-pg Giant 30th anniversary blowout.

            Read the original cover blurb, and drool in anticipation:  Not a dream! Not a hoax! Not robots!  Gosh – what else is left?  Well, here’s how first-time readers experienced the story:
            A beautiful blue-haired girl is fleeing her past, running away from HIM.  When she falls overboard from the deck of a cruise ship, she’s miraculously plucked from death by a familiar caped figure.  Smitten with the idea that he might have lost her forever, the Kryptonian proposes, promising to reveal “my unknown identity to you.”  Soon they’ve taken up residence on an alien planet, where they raise super-twins, and his scientific knowledge has given her superpowers, too.
            While her husband is on Earth patrol one day, Super-Mom is infuriated when Lana Lang rubs herself all over her fella.  She takes the kids and walks out – er, flies out.  It’s not until Part III of the tale that the marriage is saved, and the readers enraged.  We learn that yes, Lana was smooching Superman.  But ...
            The bride and groom aren’t Lois and Superman, after all!  He is Van-Zee of Kandor, and she is Sylvia Dewitt, a rich heiress fleeing an arranged marriage.  Each is an exact double of the actual stars of this comic-book series.  It’s with unholy glee that the editors tell us, “Van-Zee never once called his bride ‘Lois!’  Nor did Sylvia call him ‘Superman!’ ”  Man, I’m still hot over this one, folks.  We were played for suckers.

            One runner-up for the poke-in-the-eye derby was a tale in Lois Lane #63, from February, 1966.  Thrill to this great situational cover!  Here we see Superman berating Lana and Lois for being so stupid that they couldn’t tell he and Clark are the same guy, with or without glasses.  But wait – when we come to this scene on the last page, it isn’t even Superman!  No, it’s an FBI agent showing off his makeup expertise.  What an idiotic letdown! 

            (On a side note, this cover exemplifies one of DC Comics’ odd art practices.  Kurt Schaffenberger had become their go-to artist for the Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane series, and other stories featuring Lois and/or Lana, because management felt that Schaffenberger drawed them gurls purty.)  So, on the cover of Lois Lane #63, it’s a Wayne Boring Superman impostor who bangs the door open, while Schaffenberger’s Lana and Lois react!

            While we’re on this long diversion, above is part of the interior splash panel for Superman #162, the tale of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue.  Note the heroic Curt Swan Superman and the “pretty” Schaffenberger Lois and Lana.

A Strange Twist of Fate,
Around the Ring Finger

            Ahem ... back to the topic of Superman-Lois matchups.  here are my two personal favorite stories.
            In November, 1959,  Lois Lane #13 introduced Superman to Lois’s parents, Ella and Sam, from Pittsdale.  (Let’s hear it, med students, for Sam-and-Ella!  Get it?  Salmonella?)  A nosy neighbor overhears Superman tell Lois’s folks, “Lois is a wonderful girl!  She’d make a fine wife!”  Which prompts Mrs Busybody to hurriedly spread the news that Superman has just asked Lois’s parents for her hand.  In her excitement, the eavesdropper missed the rest of Superman’s words:  “However, I can’t marry Lois!  She’d never be safe from my enemies, or have a happy, normal home life.”  However, before long Pittsdale is abuzz with the false news of an impending super-wedding.  Lois and Supes must figure out how to get out of a wedding they both want – but not here, not now – without hurting the feelings of a townful of home folks.
            This story is doubly fun because of its subtext:  Superman and Lois are perfect partners in putting this wedding off, because they’re perfectly confident that the real thing will come along, in its proper time.

            Superman #124, cover-dated September, 1958, featured the fun tale “Mrs Superman.”  It opens as Clark and Lois are forced to bail from the Daily Planet’s damaged Flying Newsroom helicopter, landing on a small island.  The meteor that downed them is actually Green Kryptonite, and it comes down in the island’s volcano, prompting an eruption of Green-K dust.  More Green K melts into the magma below the island.  Superman realizes, “I’m hemmed in by this Kryptonite curtain! ... Cut off from the outside world!  In plain words, I’M MAROONED HERE FOR LIFE!”
            In that case, he figures, why not make the best of it?  He reveals his identity to Lois, retaining just enough powers to convince her.  They make plans to be married by the chief of the island’s friendly tribe.  The stage is set for wedded bliss when – oops! – a fissure opens up, draining the Kryptonite from underground, while the Kryptonite dust overhead is dissipated by the changes in air pressure.  It remains for Clark to convince Lois that he was faking superpowers, with secret aid from Superman, to win her heart.
            When they’ve safely returned to Metropolis, surprisingly Lois doesn’t put out underworld hits on Clark and Superman for toying (again) with her heart.  Instead, she reads a Planet headline about the capture of a deadly crime ring and wonders, “Do you suppose Superman’s real plan was to keep me away until that gang was safely behind bars, unable to threaten my life?   Then maybe he ... he really does love me and will marry me someday!”
            Say, isn’t this where we came in?

            By the way, dear reader, I became very emotionally invested when Superman married Lois in 1996, because I know firsthand the fulfillment to be had with a lifelong mate and lover.  And, I think it’s really too bad that those crumbs who own Superman decided that Our Hero shouldn’t “stay” married, reboot or not.

            One thing to be said, though.  In current continuity, Lois Lane and Superman can get married without standing on the Kryptonian Jewel of Truth and Honor!

All original content
© by Mark Alfred