This time we're taking a look at a comic we'd seen for years but were never able to afford until one day, we met the guy who had the Reasonable Person Comic Book Price Guide, and was also doing a fifty percent off sale. And here it is!
Let's go back in time to 1967, when your Saturday morning television screen was filled with super heroes and comic book characters and giant apes and Jules Verne characters journeying to the center of the Earth, and when Marvel Comics packaged a promotional comic to help get the word out, a time in which comic books and television were, if not equals among mass media, at least seen as somewhere in the same ballpark. Hard to imagine, I know.
Now, the Fantastic Four story and the Spider-Man story were both reprints, and the Casper story was a reprint, so we're not even gonna. What we are going to talk about are the amazing new shows coming this fall to ABC!
Don't miss Custer! You'll have to act fast, Custer would be cancelled way before Custer made it to the event that ensured we'd all know who Custer was. And it's Batman, making a rare appearance in a Marvel comic book, grudgingly drawn in a disturbing, wrinkly style not seen in Batman comics of the day.
Why, it's "The Second Hundred Years"! Yes, the hilarious sitcom you've never, ever heard of, starring absolutely nobody (except for an early Karen Black role as a hippy chick), and featuring a prospector frozen and thawed out 100 years later perfectly healthy except for a weird, messed up face and disturbing violent tendencies. It's a laugh riot, especially when they teach him about "modern miracles" like reconstructive surgery. It's wild and wacky!
But enough promos for grown-up shows (and Batman). Let's see some comic book cartoons!
If there's one thing cartoon producers love, it's adapting works that are in the public domain and therefore have instant name recognition without having anybody living to pay royalties to. Hence, "Journey To The Center Of The Earth, an exciting Filmation cartoon loosely based on a film that was loosely based on the original Jules Verne story, here loosely drawn by what appears to be Larry Lieber and/or Sol Brodsky.
It being the center of the Earth, there's plenty of light. Enough light, in fact, for Uncle Oliver to comment that the river they just found bears an odd resemblance to a mythological river. How exactly is this river supposed to resemble the River Styx, which is a totally made up thing without any sort of notable visual characteristics? Uncle Oliver is a Professor of Mansplaining, I guess.
You may be wondering why on Earth anyone would bring a goose to the center of the Earth. I know I am. Turns out having a goofy animal around is a great way to get the plot moving again when your writers get blocked by, say, rivers.
Well, look at that, a boat, down here in the lightless, treeless abyss below the Earth's surface. Let's just go down past these green plants, which somehow grow without benefit of the Sun's rays, and get on that boat there.
Meanwhile the evil Count Sacknussem and his dimwitted assistant Torg watch from a distance because, you know, all that light under the ground really helps when spying on people a long way off. I know, I'm sorry I keep bringing this up. But I watched this cartoon and I recall at least an attempt to try and pretend that they were in caves and caverns and holes and pits, not in what appears to be a state park with very few campsite amenities. Let's get with it Marvel Comics.
And just when you think your subterreanean river raft expedition is going well, suddenly Sleestacks! Sorry, wrong Saturday morning show. I mean, suddenly monster lizard! I wonder what mythological comparision Uncle Oliver will make about this thing.
Instead of showing off his book learning, Uncle Oliver instead executes his amazing monster lizard-dodging strategy, which is to... get this... go around it. Just the kind of cunning plan you'd expect from the quick-thinking sort of science adventurer Uncle Oliver is. And it only resulted in the loss of one member of the party!
Let's see. Swirling, sucking, hole, water, grotto, turns out what lies at the center of the Earth is the Playboy Mansion! Thanks, thank you, I'm here all week.
It also turns out the center of the Earth is home to a race of tall, gangly white guys. So THAT'S where the 1965 Lakers disappeared to!
THAT'S RIGHT A BASKETBALL JOKE, DEAL WITH IT NERDS
Well, looks like the writers got stumped early on, fished out their Big Book Of Greek Myths Of The Underworld, and are just throwing three-headed dogs at us like it's no big thing. Mister Big Smarty Pants Professor Oliver here doesn't seem to know that the best way to deal with Cerberus is to throw him honey-cakes seasoned with poppies (read your Virgil, Prof). No, just let the big Swede fight him, that's good for a laugh.
Oops, turns out three-headed hell hounds are scared of ducks. If I was better at making fun of comics I would spin this into a long, involved, boring thing about the independent comics scene of the 1970s and Dave Sim and Howard The Duck. But I won't. You're welcome.
And then there's a volcanic eruption of lava, and then our heroes jump onto giant leaves - giant leaves of plants that grow underground where there isn't any sunlight and therefore no need for giant leaves - they jump onto these giant leaves and use these giant leaves to surf on top of hot molten lava. Sure, why not. Happens all the time. If you're gonna break with reality, I say break with the HELL out of it!
Luckily the hot one-thousand-degree lava melts through the wall of ice and delivers our heroes right to where Alec, the Count, and the dim-witted Torg are being led through hoop drills by the '65 Lakers, which as we all know is inhuman torture.
Before the startled chalk-white people can realize what's happening, the trio rescues and/or captures in some sort of whirling fashion as described in the caption. White people! I know, right?
Will our intrepid adventurers ever make it to the center of the Earth? Will they "hang ten" at the Earth's molten core while riding on the incongruous giant leaves of plants? Or will the show be cancelled after 17 episodes without resolution, leaving Filmation free to concentrate on more lucrative cartoons based on "Archie" and "My Favorite Martian"? Only Jules Verne knows.
But enough of this cartoon, what are the other comics in this comic book like? Well, the King Kong strip, based on an early Japanese/American co-production, is an off-model piece of tedium, and the George Of The Jungle strip is.. well...
Well, it does a good job nailing the Jay Ward motif, except for Ursula here, who is given a strange, Kewpie-doll proto-anime look that is way too sexy for a 1967 TV cartoon! Somebody call Action For Children's Television before the youth of America are corrupted! Quick, turn the page before mom and dad have to answer some awkward questions about jungle sleeping arrangements!
Whew. Divine intervention from Sister Bertrille, the Flying Nun, whose squeaky-clean demeanor, pure, innocent heart, and giant, aerodynamic headgear allows her to fly through three whole seasons of inexplicably popular television. It's the 1960s kids, where damn near anything made it onto prime time TV and you watched it and liked it because there were only three channels! No wonder more people read comic books back then.
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