Going Solo…

IV_Flight1-002IV_Flight2IV_Flight3IV_Flight4SUPERMANIA is proud to present this latest acquisition of promotional prints from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.  Pin sharp and measuring exactly 5×5″ – the purpose of these unusually small (but official) stills is unclear yet they are arguably the best representation of their respective flying scenes – indeed, somewhat better quality than the filmed sequences themselves.

Labelled DC Comics Inc. 1987 on the rear, though most of these shots were commonly used throughout publicity material for Superman IV, (with the exception of the fantastic unpublished shot, top) its worth noting that none of the foreground action and background plates match the scene as composited in the final film –

Photographed by Harrison Ellenshaw’s Special Effects team in 1986, an extensive library of background plates of New York City was collated for the many flying sequences/aerial battles scripted for the movie.  Though Superman IV would benefit from the highest percentage of ‘live’ flying in the whole Super series, budget restrictions would reduce the process photography (so integral to maintaining the illusion) to almost pitiful standards.

Denied the use of Zoptics and lacking the quality of front projection, Superman IV’s flying unit would mostly be reliant on blue screen technique, (see here) prone to leaving hideous borders (or matte lines) around its subjects – perhaps tolerable on solid objects but inescapable on human subjects.  This, combined with poor composition (bleaching out/making the actors transparent) reduce the wistful reprise of the original ‘Can you read my mind’ scenes, among countless others, to ‘B’ Movie status.

The full extent of the aforementioned sequence was not even available until the release of the the Deluxe Edition on DVD, where ‘going solo’ was established with more footage revealed in the deleted scenes.  Implausible as Superman flinging Lois through the air at speed may be, there are nonetheless some charming elements and – like most of Superman IV – prime examples of what could be achieved with a tighter edit and digital upgrade…

Seacon ’79 Pt.2…

CW-STM-Seacon-1979-2CW-STM-Seacon-1979-1CW-STM-Seacon-1979-6CW-STM-Seacon-1979-7More nostalgic snapshots from Seacon ’79 courtesy of capedwonder.com from the closing ceremony of the Hugo awards (Held on this night, August 25th 35 years ago) and the aftermath where Christopher Reeve signs copies of the UK Superman: The Movie colour programme (to be featured in a future post!).

Such was the coup of the UK hosting this event that BBC2 devoted an entire half-hour episode from their series Time Out Of Mind to film proceedings (watch it here) with hilariously stilted results.  The organiser’s commendable determination to secure the show and enthusiasm for literature is dampened by the po-faced portrayal of attendees moping around debating the merits of fanzines and later, showing up half-naked to the Masquerade Ball.  Intercut this with Sci-Fi authors appearing weary with mild contempt for their followers and overall the programme does little to enhance the image of fandom.

In the midst of this, articulate as ever, is Chris Reeve (briefly appearing at 8:17), clearly bewildered by the whole experience but gracious enough to acknowledge the passion of fans by stating they could probably ‘draw him a map to Krypton’.  While the current whereabouts of the Hugo statuette is unknown, one suspects it went very nicely on the mantelpiece next to the BAFTA won for ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ the same year…

Seacon ’79…

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Clutching a curiously phallic trophy presented by noneother than Star Wars Producer Gary Kurtz, a fresh-faced Christopher Reeve graciously accepts the award for ‘Best Dramatic Presentation of 1978’ for Superman: The Movie at Seacon UK.

You read it right.  Christopher Reeve himself attended a Sci-Fi convention in sunny Brighton, England.  On this day (August 23rd) 35 years ago, the 37th Worldcon was being held at the Metropole Hotel where the coveted Hugo award was to be added to the growing list of accolades earned by Richard Donner’s ground-breaking film.

The four day event pertained to be a serious affair for Science Fiction enthusiasts and was well attended as such, with notable guests from the literary world (among them 2001 scribe Arthur C. Clarke) with Q&A panels and even a masquerade contest (long before its evolution into Cosplay).  Even advance preview clips from The Empire Strikes Back were shown to eager fans.

Sound familiar? It should –  the modern day Comic-Con was founded on such principles and evolved from this very thing.  It would be another 15 years, however, before Christopher Reeve would appear in a similar fashion Stateside for Dixie Trek, the last convention he attended…

Go here For more details and pictures of this fascinating little sidebar in Superman history – SUPERMANIA extends its thanks to capedwonder.com for both rediscovering it and providing the amazing rare photos shown above of the ceremony…

Asbury’s Storyboards Cont’d…

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Red14Red15Red16SUPERMANIA is pleased to continue its serialisation of unpublished material from the production-used ‘Big Red Book’ of storyboards for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace in a post originally intended to celebrate reuniting the artist with his work.

This past July, tenured UK penciller Martin Asbury was scheduled to attend the Summer London Film & Comic Con – his first convention appearance – and SUPERMANIA was looking forward to presenting him with some of his earlier works while hopefully obtaining a sketch/getting pics and maybe even a quote or two.

Alas, disappointingly Martin cancelled last minute and the trip was abandoned (despite missing the opportunity of meeting both Jeff East and Helen Slater).  Hopes are high Martin has been asked to attend the Winter Con so this ambition can eventually be fulfilled.

Meantime, exclusive vintage footage of Martin at work in the Superman IV Art Department drawing boards from the cut nightmare sequence at the start of the film is upcoming.  In a short interview, Martin talks about the collaborative process and the process of storytelling.  Look out for the upcoming post about Elstree Studios soon..!

Goozee, Or Not Goozee..?

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…That is the question.  One could be forgiven for thinking that this latest addition to the SUPERMANIA archive would be an evident/obligatory part of the collection but due to its deceptively bootleg appearance and difficulty to obtain complete, had been somewhat overlooked until now.

However, despite the highly questionable artwork on the portfolio cover above (top pic) housing the (indeed official) press kit for Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, it would seem such snobbery was misplaced – as far from being a poor attempt to copy Daniel Goozee’s superior final poster art –  SUPERMANIA is now of the belief this may have been an early draft by the same artist.

While the finished painting references a portrait of Christopher Reeve taken at the time of Superman: The Movie (amended to exclude the kiss-curl) the rough, at second glance, is actually a good likeness and although its not signed, appears to be Goozee’s work.  As for why this was used for promotion at all, who knows?  Was the final painting yet to be finished?  It may be raw but even in draft form, nothing could ever be as woeful as the final art used for the German release.

Refreshingly, the kit itself is a fabulous package, more often than not today found split and sold as individual stills, (commanding respectable sums on auction websites due to their exclusive nature) however this was the first example I’d ever seen that came with its own WB envelope, (second pic), indicating that with the portfolio notes and set of 14 photographs (third pic) that this handout may be 100% complete and therefore rare…

This post is dedicated to the late Menachem Golan, head of Cannon Films and Producer of Superman IV who died today aged 85.  For better or worse, forever part of the Superman universe…