Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation





By Lou Scheimer and Andy Mangels


My earliest memory in this life, other than eating delicious Play Doh on Christmas morning 1971, was watching a Batman cartoon with my sister in the TV room one random morning in  1972.

The Penguin was stealing a tank and gassed a soldier, the whole thing just intrigued me and I think started me on my love affair with Batgirl but that's another story.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Filmation hooked me at an early age. So much so that I even identified the name “Scheimer” (I dopily mispronounced it as “Schemer” until adulthood) with joy in the mid 1970s. 

I cherish this Ark 2 Halloween costume.

Sure, I have love in my heart for the Kroffts and Hanna Barbera’s of this world but Filmation always remained my favourite. I never missed a Shazam!, Ark 2 or Tarzan as a kid, hell, I even regularly watched (but clearly did not grasp) Uncle Croc’s Block when it aired.

So it was pretty much a given that I’d invest in this new tome. Actually, I bought it twice by accident. What I worried about though, was how much of this was going to be new to me.

 As the images in this piece suggest, I’m an ardent filmation collector and fan.  I’ve bought every DVD set near and dear to me and watched the resulting documentaries many times (coincidentally, those great extras also included Scheimer and Mangels) and I even asked Mr Scheimer questions in person (he’s a nice man btw).  I worried it would just be a rehash of stuff I’ve heard ad nauseum, I like to call that the “Stan Lee Situation”.

Lou signed this for me in 2006, I can't find it now. Grrr.


Fortunately, my worries were put to rest the minute the book arrived. I lost nearly an hour pouring through the information, I’m not even done reading it but I’ve seen enough to say this book is exhaustive and absolutely captivating.

Scheimer has an incredible memory of the events that shaped Filmation starting from the beginning in landing the Superman contract to the  hey days of the 70s and 80s. Everything is there, from the successes, to the flops laid out in riveting detail.

Included are fun anecdotes like Charles Nelson Reily wandering the set of “Uncle Croc’s Block” in leopard print short shorts, replacement Shazam John Davie showing up for work with a moustache  and a story that will never make you look at Schneider from “One Day at a Time” in the same light again.

If describing things like the creation of the animated Star Trek series weren’t enough Scheimer goes into detail on what didn’t get made, stuff like a 60s Godzilla cartoon, Metamorpho, a Marx Brothers caroon, Dracula in Space, the list goes on and on and makes you wish you grow up with those shows as well.

Also unapologetically is all the lawsuits, the acrimonious split with original Captain Marvel Jackson Bostwick, the long running suit between DC comics and Filmation that occurred over (my personal favourite) the Super 7 cartoon characters.

Honestly if you were a child between the years 1966 and 1987, you’ll find something of an interest in this book.

The later chapters delve of course into the 1980s and the huge success of programs like Fat Albert, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Bravestarr. My one quibble of the book is that it's sole colour chapter is spent on He-Man, however that’s just me and I admit it is a pretty bright marketing move as He-Man will help sell a lot of these.




In summation, I couldn't be happier with this book, it is jam packed with interesting new information on one of my favourite subjects. As a bonus, it's written in a snappy style that makes you feel that Scheimer is talking directly to you. I buy a lot of informational books such as this but I rarely read them cover to cover, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation is one I have trouble putting down and will likely read more than once.

Ask your local comic shop to order it, otherwise Amazon has the book for $20, which is a steal.


CONTEST!
As I mentioned, I accidentally ordered two copies of this book for myself. I don’t plan on taking one in the tub with me so there is no need for a double. That means the second copy is up for grabs, here is the skill testing question:

What was your favourite Filmation series?

Send the answer to Brick@plaidstallions.com and I’ll draw one lucky winner out of my hat next Sunday. 

4 comments:

Jeremy355 said...

I got this book when it came out, and was lucky enough to get one of the autographed copies. It is truly an awesome book for any Filmation fan, and a great look into how cartoons got made and sold in 60's through 80's.

Jon K said...

Been looking forward to this book for a long time myself, ever since I suggested it to Andy when I was transcribing interviews for those DVD sets you mentioned! In fact, I had the privilege to do tracscriptions for the book, and offered some ideas that Andy used (like the preface starting to tell the story of how Superman saved the company). There should even be a few pics in the book provided by me.

Mike Gutierrez said...

I just bought the New Adventures of Batman and Robin dvd set. I remember watching this show as a kid and loved it. Watching the DVD bought back so many memories. I also watched the Adventures of Superman DVD set. I want to find the other superhero sets and would love it if the Batman and Robin cartoon from the 60's was released as wel.

I will look and see if this book is avalible for my kindle and pick it up if it is.

Jon K said...

Mike, you can purchase a digital version from the Twomorrows website: http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=95_96&products_id=662

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