Category Archives: cartoon

Bill Webber Passes

Philadelphia radio and television legend Bill Webber passed away this weekend. He was scheduled for heart surgery but died before it could be done. He was 80.

Webber was a fixture on the Philadelphia media scene for over five decades, and never retired. He was a radio disc jockey, television pioneer, talk show host, kids show host, telethon emcee, announcer, nice guy, a giant of a man, and an industry legend. He served for years as an officer in the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 1999. He worked in many, if not most of the media outlets in the Philadelphia area.

That would be enough, but on a personal level, I feel like I’ve lost a part of my childhood. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bill Webber doubled as Wee Willie Webber on local channel 17 on weekday afternoons as the host of their children’s programming. Bill Webber was the face that greeted me when I got home from school and filled in the commercial breaks during such life-shaping TV shows like “Speed Racer” and “Ultraman.”

That might sound silly, but when I met the man in person years later – thinner, older and sporting a goatee – Mr. Webber was thrilled to hear that he was remembered so fondly and insisted that I, then a grown man, call him Wee Willie and even imitated Ultraman’s Spacium Ray gesture at me as he walked away. A nice man, and a very cool man. He will be missed by many.

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Bat-Mite Strikes Again

Cartoon Network’s hit series “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” will be taking a ride on the crazy train soon. The program, which features an old school Batman teaming up with various other superheroes to fight crime and defeat costumed baddies, welcomes a few familiar names back onto the small screen on May 29th.

Paul Dini, who was instrumental in the ongoing creation of Fox’s award-winning “Batman: The Animated Series” during the 1990s, comes on board to write a special episode featuring another name from the past, Bat-Mite!

In the episode titled “Legends of the Dark-Mite!” Bat-Mite (voiced by Paul Reubens AKA Pee-Wee Herman) kidnaps Batman and takes him to the Fifth Dimension where hilarity literally ensues. Lots of old school versions of Batman’s enemies show up to the party as well, with more than one nod to the Looney Tunes cartoons of yesteryear. Don’t miss it!

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Teenaged Iron Man

I have nothing against teenaged superheroes. Spider-Man started as a teenager. The original X-Men were teenagers. Dick Grayson as Robin, and later Nightwing, is one of the coolest heroes around. And I do understand the psychology of the teenaged sidekick being the identification factor to the hero – but come on now, let’s get real, when you get out on the playground… everybody wants to be the Batman not Robin. That’s just the way it is. That’s why I don’t understand the new “Iron Man: Armored Adventures” cartoon coming from NickToons.

The new animated series, coming almost two years too late, is of course to cash in on the success of the Iron Man movie. It really makes me wonder how “South Park” can do such quick turnaround on a usually weekly basis to comment on current news stories, yet it takes comics years to produce a cartoon, but there it is. And the sore point is – Tony Stark is a kid, or more accurately a teenager. It kinda takes all the charm out of a character so notoriously a bastard, doesn’t it?

The second problem is that it’s done in that limited computer animation that so completely ruined MTV’s attempt at “Spider-Man” after his first movie. The animation is stiff and blocky and kinda like a combination of “Reboot” from the 1990s and “Davey and Goliath” from the 1960s. There’s flash animation online better than this honestly.

Rhodey and Pepper (and even Happy, disguised as Flash Thompson) are there as well, and are also teenagers. There’s even a teenaged Mandarin, whose father at least bares a slight resemblance to the real thing from the comics. Howard Stark, Tony’s father, is also familiar – looking like the Silver Age Tony Stark, complete with Howard Hughes’ mustache. Future episodes promise Whiplash, the Ghost, the Hulk and Fin Fang Foom – I wonder if they’ll be teenaged too?

The only real props I can give this series is for the theme song by Rooney, catchy and to the point, just like any superhero theme should be.


“Iron Man: Armored Adventures” premieres on NickToons this Friday night.

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Astro Boy Trailer

Astro Boy, or Mighty Atom as he was known in his native Japan, ushered in the anime age for many here in America.

In the early 1960s the classic Tetsuwan Atomu manga by the genius Osamu Tezuka was brought to animation in Japan and quickly sold to NBC in the US. The series’ success quickly paved the way for “Gigantor,” “Kimba” and “Speed Racer,” and changing animation forever.

There have been more than a few manga and anime series of Astro Boy, and even a rare and very hard-to-find live-action movie, and now Imagi Animation Studios, a Japanese-American collaboration, is readying a new CGI Astro Boy film for theatres. Here’s the trailer:

Interesting. Is it me, or is it just not Astro Boy unless he’s barechested? Either way, it looks great, and has a rather impressive voice cast. I’m looking forward to it.

Astro Boy hits the big screen in October 2009.

Allan Melvin R.I.P.

Allan Melvin, classic character actor – who played Barney Hefner on “All in the Family,” Henshaw on “Sgt, Bilko” and Sam the Butcher on “Brady Bunch” as well as Magilla Gorilla and other popular cartoon voices, among many other parts in film and television – passed away this week. He’ll be missed.

Scooby-Doo

SCOOBY SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU?
RIGHT HERE ON THE BIG SCREEN…

A Film Review of Scooby-Doo

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Being a comics fan there is a terror that I know only too well. It is the fear that a work from one genre (usually comics, but sometimes in this case a TV cartoon) will be brought to the big screen and altered in such a way to destroy it or make it unrecognizable. Ask any comics fan what they thought of Batman and Robin or Superman III and you might get some grasp of this terror. Hollywood hates comics and cartoons, that’s just the way it is.

Scooby-Doo is the exception. Its opening scene is the cartoon series. It’s as if the characters were lifted from Hanna-Barbera land and made flesh and blood – it is beautiful. And then the unthinkable happens. They evolve. The Scooby Gang grows up, they are changed by circumstances, they become three-dimensional. This is a win/win situation. The fans get the folks they’ve already fallen in love with and new movie people get real fleshed-out (pun intended) characters.

The story concerns the Mystery Inc. crew (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and his CGI rendered talking pooch Scooby-Doo) reuniting to investigate a haunted theme park that seems to be brainwashing the youth of America. It pretty much could have been lifted right out of the cartoon and yet fits perfectly in the movie context. The cast is perfect especially Linda Cardellini as Velma when she trades in the bulky sweater for a low cut shirt.

There are lots of nods to the cartoon like references to Shaggy’s possible drug use, Fred’s strange fashion sense, Daphne always getting captured and Fred and Velma’s questionable sexuality. All in all this was a lot of fun and really, what more can you ask of in a movie? Go see it, you’ll enjoy it.