Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 18-D: The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy Pt. 4

Note: We are still on top of the building.

Alrighty,we are now gonna be talking about the final 2 Spider-Man Cartoon series: Spider-Man Unlimited and Spectacular Spider-Man. Mina could you start us off?

Mina: Yes. Spider-Man Unlimited was an animated series featuring Spider-Man. The series was released in 1999. It had fair ratings,but it was overshadowed by the Pokémon Anime and the current Power Ranger series at the time,Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.

Mina: Another factor to the show's failing was the fact that Fox Kids was getting pounded in the ratings that year by ABC's Saturday Morning Block,Kids WB,and possibly Toonami:the Rising Sun.

Fox later resumed airing the show, airing 13 episodes. The Show was canned after those episodes,with the final one ending on a cliffhanger. There were Several scripts written for Season 2, including the conclusion of the cliffhanger,but they were never produced.

Mina: The story goes like this: While covering the launch of John Jameson's one man mission to a Counter-Earth (another Earth on the opposite side of the sun), Spider-Man attempts to stop symbiote adversaries Venom and Carnage from boarding a shuttlecraft.

Mina: Blamed for Jameson losing contact with our Earth, Spider-Man becomes a target of persecution by the media and the public. Believed to be dead after saving a life in a fire, Peter Parker uses the ruse to embark on a mission to retrieve John Jameson on Counter-Earth.

Mina: Making his way to the planet, Spider-Man learns that Jameson has fallen in with a band of freedom fighters opposed to the High Evolutionary Beastials,a race of Human/Beast hybrids who are the dominant species,while the humans are the second-class minority.

Mina: With Jameson reluctant to return until all of the Beastials are defeated, Spider-Man decides to remain on Counter-Earth, blending in as best as he can as Peter Parker, and fighting animalized versions of his greatest adversaries as Spider-Man. It soon becomes clear that Venom and Carnage are on Counter-Earth too. This series also shows the animated version of John Jameson's Man-Wolf form.

This series was short lived and it wasn't as popular as the series before it. The Next Spider-man cartoon was that obsure CGI animated series that aired on MTV in 2003But,like MTV itself,It sucks and I'm not gonna cover it.

Anyway,The Spectacular Spider-Man was a Comic series developed for television by Greg Weisman and Victor Cook. In terms of tone and style, the series is based primarily on the original stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, with a similar balance of action, drama, and well as a high school setting.

Mina: The Spectacular Spider-Man premiered on March 8, 2008 during the Kids' WB! program block on The CW. The series aired its second season on Disney XD and ended its run on November 18 of last year.

Mina: The first season features Peter Parker beginning his junior year at Midtown Manhattan Magnet High School, having only acquired his powers and alias as Spider-Man in recent months. While harassed at school, primarily by Flash Thompson, he's close friends with classmates Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn.

In order to help support his Aunt May,after the death of his Uncle Ben, Peter is able to get a freelance job at the Daily Bugle by obtaining pictures of his alter-ego in action.

He and Gwen are also given junior lab assistant positions under Dr. Curt Connors at Empire State University,where they join their friend Eddie Brock.

Mina: As Spider-Man fights against petty crime,he gains the attention of the Big Man a major New York City crime boss. With the help of Norman Osborn and Dr. Otto Octavius, the Big Man oversees development of a project to create "supervillains" designed to distract Spider-Man from other crimes and stop damaging his profits.

Mina: Aside from The Big Man,the roster of season 1's villains include: The Green Goblin,The Vulture,Hammerhead,the Enforcers,Electro,The Lizard,The Sandman,The Rhino, Tombstone,Shocker,Doctor Octopus,Black Cat and The Chameleon.

Mina: Quentin Beck and Phineas Mason appear as Chameleon's associates. Spider-Man's symbiote black suit also makes an appearance, eventually leading to Eddie Brock's transformation into Venom.

Mina: In Season 2,Peter's life becomes more complicated as he finds himself torn between Gwen Stacy and Liz Allan, both of whom have confessed their feelings for him. Norman Osborn takes on the role of Peter's mentor, pulling strings to re-establish his job as Dr. Connors' lab assistant, as well as overseeing the installment of Dr. Miles Warren into the ESU Labs.

Meanwhile,as Spider-Man,Peter investigates the activities of a mysterious new crime lord known as the "Master Planner",whose actions gradually escalate. This leads to a three-way gang war between his own super-villain forces, the Big Man's established order, and the old guard of Silvio "Silvermane" Manfredi's family. Peter's search for Eddie Brock also leads to the return of Venom and the Green Goblin returns to attempt to put an end to Spider-Man.

Mina: Rumor has it that this "Master Planner" is actually the Kingpin and that it was to be revealed in the canned Season 3.

Anyway,New characters were introduced for Season 2.These characters were: Kraven the Hunter, Calypso,Sha Shan Nguyen,Silver Sable,Roderick Kingsley,Molten Man,Mysterio,and the Tinkerer.

Mina: The timeline of the original Spider-Man story-arcs has been condensed and reconfigured in order to include classic and important characters who originally appeared much later.

Mina: Characters such as Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacy, and Harry Osborn are depicted not as direct equivalents to their older counterparts from the comics, but rather as characters who evolve into their more established roles.

The Spectacular Spider-Man was announced by Kids' WB Senior Vice President and General Manager Betsy McGowen and Sony Pictures Television Co-President Zack Van Amburg in March 2007.

The series was produced by Sony Pictures' direct-to-video label,Culver Entertainment and its television animation studio, Adelaide Productions (due to Sony's holding of the Spider-Man film franchise rights).

The series was developed by supervising producers Victor Cook and Greg Weisman; Cook as supervising director and Weisman as story editor. The lead character designer for the series is Sean Galloway.

Mina: The art style of the series is more simplified than in previous incarnations but retain their iconic elements. This choice was made to ensure Spider-Man would move as he should and replicate the fluidity from Sam Raimi's movie incarnation.

Mina: The title sequence for the show was directed by Victor Cook with the theme song was written and performed by The Tender Box. The show's creators were striving to reach 65 episodes. However,only 26 episodes of The Spectacular Spider-Man were produced in total.

Rumor has it that the series stopped production due to ratings issues on Disney XD and low sales of the DVDs. If the third season were to have gone ahead, producer Greg Weisman stated that The Scorpion,Hobgoblin,and the Kingpin were to have made their appearances.

Mina: Hey,what about Carnage and Hydroman?

Carnage,Maybe? Hydroman,I highly doubt it.

Mina: On September 1, 2009, the television rights for Spider-Man were returned to Marvel by Sony. The effect this had on The Spectacular Spider-Man's future was unknown. At the time,The President of Marvel Animation,Eric Rollman,further stated that "no decisions have been made either way" regarding the fate of the series.

Newsarama reported that the series' cancellation occurred just after The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in December of last year.

Mina: Wait So it's all Disney fault that this cool show was cancelled? Damn Them To Hell!

Calm yourself,Mina. I don't think this was Disney fa...Actually,in away,it is. Disney brought the Spectacular Spider-Man over to Disney XD,a network that people weren't watching. Y'see soon after the network was created,a vast majority of people Hated it and decided to ignore it.

Disney XD was a low rated Network and unfortunatly the Spectacular Spider-Man didn't help it much. And so,because it was on a low rated network,The show never got many viewers. In fact,since people were ignoring Disney XD,they didn't know that the show was airing On that network.

Mina: So,in other words,had the show been on a better network,it might have done better.

Yes. Anyway,on April 13, 2010, Marvel announced that a new series based on the Ultimate Spider-Man storyline will air on Disney XD next Fall.

Mina: Hopefully,Disney will improve the network and get better ratings before then,otherwise the ratings for this show will be just as low.

Right. On April 14, 2010, Tom Brevoort of Marvel Comics confirmed that The Spectacular Spider-Man has ended and will give way to the new 2011 series.

On the same day, Greg Weisman told IGN: "I've heard nothing directly from Marvel, but I think the Ultimate Spider-Man announcement makes it fairly clear that Spectacular is over." Marvel Animation and Sony also commented on this to Marvel Animation Age, confirming that the series has ceased production.

Well that was an interesting ride wasn't it. Mina,I wanna thank you for helping me with this special presentation,as well as agreeing to be my assistant.

Mina: No problem,Stefan. I look foward to working with you on future projects. *winks at me*

Well that's gonna do it for now. See ya next time on The Cartoon Historian.

Mina: Laters.

*Spectacular Spider-Man theme plays as we get a nice look at New York City in the evening*

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 18-C: The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy Pt. 3

Note: We are still on top of the building.

Alrighty,we are now gonna be talking about the series that we've all been waiting for. Spider-Man The Animated series a.k.a. The 90's Spidey Cartoon.

Mina: Yay! Um,Hey Stefan,I've got a question. Why are we doing this episode on the rooftops?

Because I felt it was appropriate,since I was doing a Spider-Man episode.

Mina: Oh,Ok!

Spider-Man The 90's Cartoon aka also known as Spider-Man: The Animated Series ran on Fox Kids from November 19, 1994, to January 31, 1998. The producer/story editor was John Semper, Jr. and production company was Marvel Productions.

The series tells the story of a 19-year-old Peter Parker in his first year at Empire State University. As the story begins, Peter has already gained his powers. He's also single and a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle.

The show features most of Spider-Man's classic villains, including the Kingpin, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, the Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Rhino, the Shocker, The Vulture, and the Chameleon. 90's Spiderman villains such as Venom, Carnage, and the Hobgoblin also appear.

Mina: Over the course of the series the single Peter Parker contends with the romantic interests of Mary Jane Watson, Felicia Hardy and her alter ego, the Black Cat. Parker you stud!

While Marvel's X-Men: The Animated Series was being produced by Saban, Spider-Man was produced by the newly formed Marvel Films Animation. It was the first series that the studio produced,even though the show was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha as well as Korean studios.

The series is the second longest-running Marvel show created, after X-Men, as well as the longest-running series based on Spider-Man. It's currently owned and distributed by The Walt Disney Company, which acquired all Fox Kids-related properties from News Corporation and Saban International in 2001.

Mina: And lets not forget anout Disney's Marvel Buyout in late 2009.

Anyway,Avi Arad was the executive producer of the show. One of the obligations of working with Fox was to make the show educational by introducing resolvable, child-appropriate social issues.

Mina: Don'cha just hate that.

*laughs*,Anyway,Semper said he believed Spider-Man to be good for this because the show takes place in real world New York,making it able to tackle problems "closer to home".

Mina: Ah,Smart move.

Examples of social issues dealt with in the series, include peace between waring nations,cults,the Make A Wish Foundation,the value of education,the evils of street gangs,legal rights,drug addiction,and the dangers of obsessive or stalking boyfriends.

Mina: To reproduce the New York's style background,illustrators undertook a large amount of visual research and using photo archives from above New York,especially rooftops. Which is where we are now. Maps were consulted for references and buildings were faithfully reproduced.

Mina: It has been reported that the animation cells depicting Manhattan's Pan Am Building were scrapped after being complete because the California-based art staff learned the Midtown landmark had been given a new sign over a year earlier.

Mina: The animation staff were directed to populate the city with cars and crowds on the street level. Semper believed that this was one of the limitations of earlier Spider-Man animated projects.

Originally, Marvel Films planned to make the backgrounds completely CGI while Spider-Man 'webslinged' around New York, yet due to the budget,they were forced to use traditional cel based animation. Though,CGI backgrounds were used occasionally.

Reuse of animation became more common as the series progressed, which also included reuse of animation involving a character speaking.

Mina: These scenes were sometimes slowed down in order to better match the actor's voice to the animation.

By 1994, heavy censorship was being enforced by Fox because certain shows were being banned for excessive violence in some countries. So in a bid to make Spider-Man as tame as possible,the producers of the show were instructed to abide by their extensive list of requirements.

Mina: Damn the FCC!

Mina: Among the notable restrictions were: Not mentioning "death", "die", "dead" or "kill" Death and words with strong negative meanings were to be avoided, leading Semper to skirt around the issue. "Destroy" and "destruction" were frequently employed as synonyms.

Another way the producers made the show more kid-friendly was the realistic weapon ban. Y'see,many realistic guns were not allowed on the show, and no firearms could shoot bullets, so instead they fired lasers complimented by 'futuristic' sound effects. This often led to scenes in which ordinary policemen wielded futuristic pistols.

Mina: This was a common theme in Cartoons at the time. In fact I think it's still goin' on in todays cartoons.

However, in some episodes,realistic guns can be seen...though they were rarely fired. It's also worth noting that Batman: The Animated Series, which also aired on Fox Kids, portrayed realistic firearms onscreen throughout that show's run without ever having an episode banned or censored as a result.

Mina: Unfortunatly,there were Other restrictions.

Yeah,Spider-Man was rarely allowed to hit anyone with his fists. Other restrictions include: No crashing glass,No children in peril,No realistic Vampires,No Hard-Core Villains,and Limited blade weapon use.

Mina: Because of the 'No Hard-Core Villain' rule,one Spidey villain was tamed down greatly.

Mina: Cletus Kasady a.k.a. Carnage was originally a Homicidal Maniac in the comics.In the show however he's just a madman. Also,Carnage never actually uses his symbiotic blades to harm anyone. To Threaten,Yes!To Harm,No!

Mina: Carnage also absorbs people's energy rather than killing them outright. He has made a few references to attempts to murder,but that's it.

The reruns were also censored. Y'see after the September 11 attacks, ABC Family heavily edited the season one finale to remove the World Trade Center buildings, parts of the New York skyline, and a helicopter crashing into a building, exploding, and falling to the ground below, among other shots.

This resulted in the first scene being impossible to comprehend as it was originally intended. Dialogue was re-looped to match the new, shorter version. Some production credits from the episode are missing as well, due to them being on screen during the omitted footage.

Another noticeable edit can be viewed in season three's "Enter the Green Goblin." episode. In the original, the Goblin Glider slams into a building with Spider-Man riding on top. In the newly edited version, the scene is cut, and Spider-Man is shown simply emerging from a hole in the side of the building.

Mina: Yet another edit occurs near the end of season two's "Duel of the Hunters," episode. See,Kraven and Punisher's last battle with the "Man-Spider" is in fact inside the parking garage of the World Trade Center, and that Kraven had deduced the location by smelling some webbing left at a previous battle and detecting remnant soot in it from the terrorist bombing in 1993.

The whole sequence of Punisher finding out where they are and Kraven's explanation of how he knew where to look for them was cut. But despite these restrictions,Spider-Man the Animated series is a great show.

Mina: You said it. Anyway,a Spider-Man movie based on this series was planned,but never came to be. The movie was gonna have Electro as the main villain.

That's correct Mina. See,Spider-Man never had an introductory episode in this series,but was supposed to have one in the related movie. But because the project fell through,Spidey was left without a least for a while.

Mina: Eventually,a flashback was worked into the series in the "Make a Wish" episode.

Spider-Man: The Animated Series was one of the most popular shows on Fox Kids, ranking with and above other hit shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series.

Even after the series ended, it still had an impact on the entertainment industry, boosting sales of Spider-Man merchandise and popularity. The show was also named the 84th best animated series by IGN.

Writer / Producer John Semper Jr. won an Annie Award in 1995 for Best Individual Achievement for Writing in the Field of Animation for the episode "Day of the Chameleon".

Spider-Man was nominated for 1 Image Award for Outstanding Animated/Live-Action/Dramatic Youth or Children's Series/Special.

Well that's all she wrote for this series. The Conclusion of the Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy is next,so don't go away.

Mina: Next up,Spider-Man Unlimited and the Spectacular Spider-Man.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 18-B: The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy Pt. 2

Mina: Welcome Back,Everyone. We are Live on top of one of NYC's Finest Buildings.

We're now gonna talk about the 2 Spider-Man Cartoons from the 80's. Mina,will you be a dear and start us off?

Mina: Sure. Spider-Man the 80's Cartoon Series is a syndicated TV series created to launch Marvel Productions, successor of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, who had previously produced the 1978 New Fantastic Four and 1979 Spider-Woman cartoons. Spidey made guest appearances in both cartoons.

The series featured Peter Parker having to balance his alter ego crimefighting with his responsibilities as a university student, a part-time photographer for the Daily Bugle and caring for his elderly Aunt May.

The series was not as popular with fans as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,the Other 80's Spider-Man cartoon,Sadly. However,in this show,Spider-Man provided viewers with plenty of action,as well as a nice amount of comic book villains.

Mina: These Badguys include: The Chameleon, Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, The Kingpin, The Lizard,The Sandman,Silvermane,The Scorpion,Vulture,Mysterio, Magneto, Red Skull, Kraven the Hunter, Wizard, Black Cat, and the Green Goblin.

The character design for Peter Parker and the supporting characters were faithful to the comic books of that era and hearkened back to the illustrations by John Romita Sr. of the hero in the 1970's Spider-Man newspaper comic strip.

Due to network constraints and demands from parents, characters such as Spider-Man were not allowed to make a fist to strike an opponent, but the show’s creators managed to conceal these issues with a focus on action and relatively fluid animation.

Much like the Spider-Man newspaper strip of the late 1970s, Peter Parker’s character design did away with the conservative suit and tie of the 1960s animated series in favor of a hip jacket and yellow turtleneck.

Mina: I think he looks cooler wearing that.

Stan Lee once remarked that John Romita Sr. often drew Parker with a turtleneck instead of a collared shirt since he felt it would better hide his Spider-Man costume, which he always wore under his street clothes.

Mina: Peter’s mask was connected to his costume at the back of the neck,like a hood, which he would pull over his head when he changed into Spider-Man. Hey,let's talk about the "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" Controversy.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was originally believed to be a sequel to this solo Spider-Man animated series.This has since been disputed since both series aired at the same time on September 12, 1981. The two series are connected in the latter's third-season episode “Origin of the Spider-Friends.”

Mina: Yeah,Although,not as cool or popular as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends,the 80's Spidey cartoon itself is regarded by many Spidey fans as being vastly superior, since it remains faithful to the character's origin.

Mina: The animation to both incarnations and its soundtrack are completely identical, although the voicing actors are different.

It's interesting to know that The Green Goblin appeared in Both 80's cartoons.He seems to be similar to a man that transforms into the Goblin,rather than a demented man wearing a costume.

The third season of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends had an episode called “Attack of the Arachnoid”. This episode borrows the majority of its plot from “The Web of Nephilia” from this series.

In the episode "The Prison Plot" of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, there is a flashback sequence that depicts a scene from Spider-Man[80's] episode "When Magneto Speaks...People Listen", confirming the sequel theory.

Mina: Yay,2 series down,4 more to go. It's now time to talk more about Spider-Man and His Amzing Friends.

Yes. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was produced by Marvel Productions starring Spider-Man and Iceman and an all new Marvel Heroine,Firestar. This trio was called the Spider-Friends and they fought against various villains.

Originally broadcast on NBC as a Saturday morning cartoon, the series originally ran for three seasons, from 1981 to 1983, then aired repeats for an additional two years (from 1984 to 1986).

Alongside the 1981 Spider-Man animated series, Amazing Friends was later re-aired in the late 1980s as part of the 90 minute Marvel Action Universe. This was a syndicated series that was used as a platform for old and new Marvel-produced cartoons.

Mina: In the second season, the show was aired along with a Hulk cartoon as "The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man". The two shows shared one intro which showcased the new title. Stan Lee,the man behind the Spider,began narrating the episodes in the second well as the Third season.

Mina: For the third season, there was another title change. This time the characters' names would be reversed and the show was called, "The Amazing Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk".

Mina:It remained that way for most of the remaining years. NBC did air the show individually in mid-season after it was not announced for their fall schedule.

Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Bobby Drake (Iceman), and Angelica Jones (Firestar) are all college students at Empire State University. After working together to defeat the Beetle and recovering the "Power Booster" he stole from Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man),the trio decide to form a chrime-fighting team,known as the "Spider-Friends".

The Trio live together in Aunt May's home with her and a pet dog, Ms. Lion,a Lhasa Apso. Some stories featured team-ups with other characters from the Marvel Universe, including Captain America, Iron Man, Sunfire, and the mid-1970s X-Men.

Mina: The series Also housed many original characters like Videoman and Light Wave. It's also worth noting that Firestar made her Marvel debut in this series. Firestar was created specifically for this series when the Human Torch was unavailable (due to licensing issues).

Mina:The original plan was for Spider-Man to have fire and ice based teammates, so Angelica Jones aka Firestar was created. Her pre-production names included Heatwave, Starblaze, and Firefly.

In fact, it is theorized that in Episode 1: "Triumph of the Green Goblin", the original attendees for the Halloween Party were supposed to be Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson, and Gwen Stacy.

But Due to time constraints, the animations were still used, but the voices were redubbed. This is supposedly the reason why Mary Jane and Firestar look so alike.

After her initial appearance, the Marvel Comics version of Firestar debuted in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #193 as part of Emma Frost's Hellions team. Firestar was given an origin story in a self-titled mini-series (March – June 1986). The character went on to be a founding member of the New Warriors, and later a member of the Avengers.

Mina: I wonder who would win in a fire fight,Eirestar or The Human Torch? Hmmm...

No clue..but in a Fire fight,Azula would thrash both their asses.

Mina: Ok,how about we add Sailor Mars,Hot-Streak[from static shock]and Zuko into the fray and have ourselves a Blazing Battle Royal? I'd like to see that.

Anyway,getting back on topic,In January of 2009, IGN named Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends as the 59th best in there Top 100 Animated Best Animated TV Shows.

The makers of the show had originally intended the stars to be Spider-Man, Iceman, and the Human Torch,like Mina said. However, legal issues about the rights to the Human Torch character (which had also plagued Marvel once before for the 1978 Fantastic Four cartoon) led to the Human Torch being replaced by Firestar,who had similar powers, but was a mutant like Iceman.

Due to Firestar's popularity,she has become a part of the mainstream Marvel Universe. In pre-production, Firestar's codename changed frequently. The unused names were:Firefly, Starblaze, and Heatwave.

Mina: Didn't I already explain that?

Ms. Lion,the teams dog,actually belongs to Firestar. Angelica introduced Peter to the dog before she and Bobby knew Peter's secret identity and vice versa. However,as former teammates in the X-Men,Iceman and Firestar knew each other's secret identities before meeting Peter/Spider-Man.

Aunt May ended up taking care of dog most the time, with Angelica leading the busy life of a superhero and college student. Strangely enough, Ms. Lion actually saved the day in the episode "Seven Little Superheroes", in which The Chameleon was the main enemy.

Mina: For those who don't know you're Rogues Gallery of Spidey villains like we do,The Chameleon is the dude who can transform himself into many different people,Including Spidey himself.

Thank you Mina. Anyway,with her keen sense of smell, Ms. Lion was able to distinguish the shape-changing villain from the heroes he was impersonating.

This episode was also notable for including Marvel heroes Doctor Strange, Namor, Shanna the She-Devil,and Captain America.

Mina: Who,F.Y.I,was once the leader of the Avengers.

Anyway,Some of the sound effects used in the series originated from Universal Television's Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

Mina: Buck Rodgers? Who the hell was he?

Don't ask me.

Mina: Here's a little bit of a fact for ya; Did you know that in her civilian identity, Angelica Jones resembles Peter's girlfriend from the comics, Mary Jane Watson.

Well thats gonna do it for this part,but don't go away because Next we are gonna be talking about the 90's Cartoon.

Mina: A.k.a,Spider-Man The Animated Series. I've so been waiting for this. And I bet our veiwers have been too.

Yup. Stay tuned for part 3.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 18-A: The Spider-Man Cartoon Trilogy Pt. 1

*It's a beautiful breezy late-afternoon in New York City.Stefan the Cartoon Historian and his assistant Mina [a pretty blonde girl] are on on top of one of the city's buildings. Mina is looking at the atmosphere through binoculars.*

Welcome to a special edition of the Cartoon Historian. Mina,what are you doing?

Mina: What does it look like? I'm enjoying the scenery.

The Lesson is about to begin and you're supposed to helping me with it,not enjoying the scenery. You can do that After out This is my new assistant Mina.

Mina: *sighs,puts away binoculars* Fine. Hey everyone,It's cool to be here. Stefan needed an assistant to keep things fresh,so he asked me. This is gonna be a blast,because today it's all about Spider-Man cartoons.

Right Mina. In this multi-part episode,we're gonna take a look at the history of the Spider-Man cartoons. Well,let's get things started.

Mina: Let's start at the beginning. After the success of the Comic Book,Marvel decided to turn their hit comic into a Cartoon series. In 1967 the very first Spider-Man cartoon was made,a Cartoon that aired from September 9, 1967 to June 14, 1970.

Yup Yup. It was jointly produced in Canada (for voice talent) and the United States (for animation).It was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko.

The show first aired on the ABC television network in the US,but went into full syndication at the start of the third season. Grantray-Lawrence Animation produced the first season. Seasons 2 and 3 were crafted by producer Ralph Bakshi in New York City.

Mina: The series revolves around the scientific-minded teenager Peter Parker who, after being bitten by a radioactive spider, develops amazing strength and spider-like powers.

Mina: He decides to become a crime-fighting, costumed superhero; all the while dealing with his personal problems and the insecurities resulting from being a teenager.

Spider-Man risks his life to fight super-powered criminals such as Mysterio and the Green Goblin. However, New York Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson views him as a criminal.

The first season of the show dealt primarily with Peter working at the Daily Bugle as a teenage freelance photographer,capturing his relationship with the gruff, demanding J. Jonah Jameson and shyly romancing Betty Brant over the reception desk.

Mina:Of course when crime's afoot,Pete must ditch his normal life for a while and dawn the identity of our favorate Wall Crawler.

Peter's life away from the Bugle,his Aunt May's Forest Hills home,as well as his Collage life were never seen. Although he would sometimes visit various professors he knew.

Mina: The character design for young Parker was spot-on, combining the conceptualizations of both Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr., who served as art consultant for the show.

Season 1 contained mostly stories involving classic Spider-Man villains from the comic book series. Character creator Stan Lee served as story consultant for this season of the show.

Mina: The Ralph Bakshi-helmed Seasons 2 and 3, however, almost entirely eliminated villains from the comic book as a cost-cutting measure, choosing to instead have Spider-Man face generic magical villains and monsters, thereby enabling re-use of stock footage from Rocket Robin Hood, another animated cartoon TV show Bakshi produced. Dude,that is so cheap and lame.

Mina: Basically,what these guys did was splice 2 unrelated shows together. Hmm,splicing shows together..sounds familiar right? V.R. Troopers and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers,anyone?

Uh,yeah. Anyway,Season 1 episodes were in production for three months before their initial broadcast. For example, 'Farewell Performance' was under the camera in late August 1967, as evident by the description of President Lyndon Johnson's 59th birthday in a newspaper clipping.

This episode first aired on December 2, 1967. Ralph Bakshi's episodes were more rushed; an early second-season episode from the fall of 1968 has a newspaper clipping from October 9, 1968.

Mina: The show's acting talent included Bernard Cowan, who was the dialogue director, narrator, and voice of some supporting characters. Paul Soles provided both the light, mild-mannered voice for college student/photographer Peter Parker and the much deeper, heroic tone for Spider-Man.

Peg Dixon provided the voice of Betty Brant as well as other various love interests for Peter in later seasons. Paul Kligman's distinctive, high-pitched voice was utilized on J. Jonah Jameson and several villains.

Mina: Also appearing were Vern Chapman as Doctor Octopus, Gillie Fenwick as Dr. Smarter, Curt Conners as both the Lizard and the Vulture. Tom Harvey was the voice of Electro and the Sandman.

Mina: Chris Wiggins was the voice of Mysterio. Carl Banas was the voice of the Scorpion. Len Carlson was the voice of the Green Goblin,Parafino,and one of the Fly brothers (Stan Patterson). Len Carlson,wasn't he the voice of Ganon in the Zelda Cartoon?

I forgot. Anyway,Harry Ramer was the voice of Dr. Smythe, Dr. Noah Boddy, and the other Fly brother (Lee Patterson). Ed McNamera was the voice of the Rhino. Billie Mae Richards was Billy Connors and Max Ferguson was the Phantom.

Mina: Now it's time to talk about the budget.

Yup. In order to be more cost-effective, given the limited budget for the show, Spider-Man's costume for this series only has webbed areas on his head, arms and boots; the rest of his costume is plain.

Additionally, the series also relied upon re-used stock animation from one episode to the next, stock animation which included everything from Spider-Man swinging across the New York City skyline, to Peter Parker stripping off his white dress shirt to reveal his supersuit and putting on his mask during his hidden transformations into Spidey.

Mina: Character movement was also kept to a minimum, though there was more character movement here than in other Marvel-themed animated projects at the time.

The opening credits depicts a scene of robbers burgling a jewellery store. In the first shot, the sign reads "Fine Jewlery." Then in the next shot, it changes to the correct spelling ("Jewelry," US spelling).

Mina: Mysterio's appearance in the series differed throughout the series. In his first appearance, his mask was off periodically, and his head had pointed ears.

Mina: In his second appearance,his mask and costume were the same as the previous episode, but the mask was never removed. In Season Three's "The Madness of Mysterio," he was never wearing his costume, but he had started carrying a cigar in his mouth, and his ears were no longer pointed.

After Grantray-Lawrence went bankrupt,the second and third seasons were produced at a dramatically reduced budget by Krantz Films under Ralph Bakshi.

This cost cutting is most apparent in the third season with two episodes re-using almost the entire footage from two Rocket Robin Hood episodes,as well as remaking previous episodes with minimal changes.

Mina: An error on Spider-Man's costume appeared through Season 1. The spider on his costume was depicted with only 6 legs. By Season 2 new drawings of the costume showed an 8 legged spider. However,when they started reusing Season 1's footage,that error remained unfixed. Lazy!

In addition, the episodes adopted a darker tone with darkly colored settings and atmospheric music. But while the reduced budget took its toll, Bakshi tried to dive further into Peter Parker's everyday life as a college student,such as where he tries out for the football team,only to fail miserably and becomes a star pitcher for the baseball team.

Peter's romantic life also began to take shape as he started dating a variety of women who were either concealing secrets or found themselves angrily waiting for him while Spider-Man was saving the city.

Bakshi also provided fans with the first origin story for the character ever presented on TV. The Episode "Origin Of Spider-Man," used entire chunks of Stan Lee's dialogue,not from the hero's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15,but instead from the drastically updated retelling in Spectacular Spider-Man #1,which was published in July of '68,a few months before the episode was aired.

Mina: 2 episodes were,for a large part,recycled animation from two episodes of a cartoon show called Rocket Robin Hood. In those episodes,Spider-Man was substituted for Robin Hood on the animation cells. Ladies and Gentlemen,I give you,Ralph Bakshi,the Original Haim Saban.

*chuckles* Anyway,As well as having two similar episodes to that of Rocket Robin Hood, Spider-Man featured many voice actors previously heard on that very cartoon show. And many of the second season Spider-Man episodes used the show's music cues.

Mina: The theme song of the show has become a popular standard. The lyrics were written by Academy Award winner Paul Francis Webster, while the music was composed by Bob Harris.

Mina: The song's opening lines became almost as synonymous with the character as his costume. The 2002 and 2004 film adaptations have featured the song. Jayce Bartok preformed the song for the first movie and Elyse Dinh preformed the song for the 2nd.

Both films also feature a variation the song at the credits. The 1st movie featured the original 1967 recording while it's sequel had a re-recording by Michael Bublé (also featured on the film's soundtrack).

2007's Spider-Man 3 features a performance of the song by a marching band at a public rally celebrating Spider-Man.

Meanwhile,the music from the series,with its jangling surf guitar,groovy brass lines,and jazzy scoring, is highly regarded by fans and much sought after by soundtrack collectors.

Mina: The 1st season featured an original score written by Ray Ellis, who also adapted the Bob Harris theme, in the same way John Barry utilized Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" in various 007 films, or Nelson Riddle utilized Neal Hefti's "Batman Theme" in addition to new material.

The 2nd & 3rd seasons reused the Ellis score while adding a good amount of new music taken from KPM Library tracks featuring such English composers as Johnny Hawksworth, Syd Dale, David Lindup, Johnny Pearson, Alan Hawkshaw, Johnny Harris and the team of Bill Martin & Phil Coulter.

Mina: Phil Coulter,no relation to Ann Coulter.

Be serious,Mina. Anyway,Spider-Man was initially broadcast on Saturday mornings on ABC. The first episode aired on September 9, 1967. ABC's last Saturday morning broadcast of Spider-Man was on August 30, 1969. The show went on hiatus until the following March. That's when the third season began a six-month run, from March 22 to September 6 of 1970.

Mina: The series also aired on ABC Family in 2002 as part of the network's Memorial Day weekend-long "Spidey-Mania" marathon, timed to coincide with the release of the 1st film.

Mina: However, it appeared that airings of the show were only limited to the special marathons. As it wouldn't be seen again until a third "Spidey-Mania" marathon in 2004.The second "Spidey-Mania" marathon,aired in 2003,did not feature this series.

Mina: After the 3rd "Spidey-Mania" marathon this old series was never seen on television again.

Stay Tuned for part 2 of this lesson,where Mina and myself go discuss The 2 80's Spider-Man series.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cartoon Quickie: Voltron The 3rd Dimension

Voltron the 3rd Dimension continues the adventures of our heroes,the Voltron Force and the mighty robot Voltron...this time in CGI. Keith is still leader;Lance is still the reckless hothead;Allura is still the princess of Arus;Hunk is still the strongman,though he's less tough here;and Pidge is now the teams technology expert.

The main story goes like this: 5 years after The Fleet of Doom Movie,Lothor(in his doom ship)battles the Voltron in space. At the end of the battle,Lothor's ship crashes down to Planet Doom..Lothor doesn't escape and becaus of this he's nearly dead.Lothor gets arrested soon after.

To keep Lothor alive,the prison guys turn him into a Cyborg. However weeks later he escapes with the help of Haggar. Once reunited the 2 continue their war on the Galaxy. Of course,the Voltron Force are called back into action to stop them.

All characters from the original series are back,exept for a chosen few. these are: Queen Merla,Commander Cossack,Nanny,Sven,Prince Bandor,and Princess Romelle.

Commander Cossack's absence is extremely easy to explain he either A] died in the Doom Ship crash or B] Was fired and we never saw it. So what happened to Nanny,Bandor,Sven,Merla,and Romelle? Like with Cossack,the fates of these guys were never explained. In fact,these characters were never mentioned by Any of the characters.

Anyway,I have some theories about the disappearence of these characters.

Nanny Finally realised that Allura could take care of herself and decided to retire. My guess is that she left the Castle and is living somewere in a village on Arus.

Sven and Rommele probally got married and are very busy running planet Pollox as well as their family. They're so busy that they have very little time to visit or call the Voltron Force. They probally did a few times,but we never saw it and the Voltron Force never mentioned it.

Queen Merla most likely went back to her home world and decided to throttle back on being evil. As for Bandor,Well I think that he's still the head of Pollox's army and is very busy defending Pollox from it's enemies. And speaking of Planet Pollox,like these characters,it isn't even seen or mentioned in this series.

The Doomite soldiers are missing too,but they were probally all destroyed in the Ship Crash and the ones at Castle Doom were destroyed by the Voltron Force. But we never saw it.

Anyway,Taking Cossack's place as Commander is a Robot named Igor. Igor isn't very strong,but he takes orders very well. And speaking of Robots,Galaxy Garrison has a new leader named,Amalgamus. Amalgamus is very stern and upright. He sometimes gets into squabbles with the Voltron Force..especially Keith and Lance.

Along with Haggar,Lothor has 2 space pirate's on his side,Queequeg and Lafitte. These 2 are baffoonish losers that rarely do Anything right. Oh yeah and King Zarkon's a Good least,for a while.

The First thing you'll notice is that the models used,don't look very much like the characters of Voltron. In fact,the models used for the characters seem to make them look older. Most of the models used aren't all that great.

Another thing you'll notice about the show is that the V-Forces suits are very different and they match the Lions that they pilot. While in the Anime this wasn't the case. Another thing you'll notice is that only Alura has an alternate costume. The others only have one,their V-Force suits.

It's also woth noting that the show is low budget and fans didn't seem to enjoy this show as much as the Anime. But despite all this,Voltron 3D is a decent show and if you liked Voltron Season 2,you'll love this series.

That's gonna do it for now. See ya next time on Cartoon Quickie!