Goosebumps…

SUPERMANIA brings you a first-hand report from the halls of the Art Ludique-Le Musée in Paris, currently housing the largest archive of DC Comics related exhibits from both page and screen ever to be assembled.

First reported here and now extended until January next year, word on the museum’s Facebook page is ‘The Art of DC – Dawn of the Superheroes’ is destined for the UK in 2018, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Superman: The Movie.

For now, however, please enjoy the superb images and insights from Superfan Graham Holden as he takes you on this exclusive walkthrough…

“Having heard about “The Art of DC – Dawn of the Super Heroes” exhibition around the time it was originally due to close in September, I was excited to hear it had been extended to early January 2018 so I had to pay a visit.  The only concern I had was that the exhibition itself was being held at Art Ludique-Le Musée in Paris and not closer to me in the UK.

When I walked into the exhibition, I was immediately thrilled to hear John Williams’ classic Superman theme playing on a continuous loop and soon as I turned the corner, there stood the holy grail I had come to see above everything else…a near perfect Superman The Movie costume as worn by Christopher Reeve.  The Superman costume colours were vibrant and in great condition, with a small bit of wear on the oval belt buckle. I was very surprised by just how great the costume looked, you’d never have guessed it was over 40 years old.  Alongside it stood a Clark Kent suit with unbuttoned shirt and Superman tunic beneath it from Superman II, It’s a moment any fan of Superman – especially the Christopher Reeve series – will get goosebumps seeing these iconic costumes with the iconic theme playing around you at the same time.

I felt like a kid standing face to face with the Man of Steel himself and was very happy I’d made this pilgrimage to see this exhibition. Around the same area were a number of storyboard drawings and preproduction designs from both Superman I &II, including an alternative look at Krypton technology and The Phantom Zone with Jor-El and the villains sketched out.

There were also small Superman and Lois Lane models side by side in a display case, used for their romantic night time flight over Metropolis.  You could tell from the detailing on the Superman model that the same fabric used to make the costumes worn by Reeve had also been used in the miniature.

As I spent considerable time taking in these exhibits and looking over them again and again, numerous visitors were entering and the reaction to seeing Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume was the same as mine, pure joy and excitement with lots of photographs and selfies taken.

As for the rest of the exhibition, we were treated to much more original comic book artwork from the world of DC Comics, as well as costumes, props and production artwork from Superman Returns, the unmade Superman Lives and Batman ’89, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin and The Dark Knight trilogy.
Also the more recent efforts of the DCEU with Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonderwoman and the recently opened Justice League.

Thank you DC Comics, Warner Brothers and Art Ludique-Le Musée for creating this exhibition and allowing this fan from the UK and many others, the chance to enjoy such a priceless experience…”

Graham Holden 03/12/17

“That’s MY Beat..!”

SUPERMANIA is proud to present the first of what will hopefully be a series of custom projects to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Superman: The Movie in 2018.

A longtime collaboration with Alexei Lambley-Steel has once again yielded an item of superior quality for the discerning SuperFan in the form of a replica necktie as worn by Clark Kent in his first scenes at the Daily Planet.

The ‘City Beat’ has been meticulously recreated from the original costume as originally supplied by Barney’s of New York. Using newly-discovered reference material (Bottom pic) the tie also features a reproduction Bermans & Nathans costume tag with handwritten details (just like the originals!) of the scene number for which it was used (as per the script) and the number from its Limited Edition of 50.

Response to this superb retro accessory has been phenomenal and very few remain. Please email theonlytexaspete@me.com for further info. Coming soon, Clark Kent’s iconic Tortishell eyeglasses…

Show & Tell…

It what is rapidly becoming a worldwide event, over 600 lots of original props & costumes from some of Hollywood’s most spectacular productions went under the gavel in Propstore’s Live Auction of Entertainment Memorabilia last month.

As the coverage in the media was extensive (with CEO Steven Lane popping up all over daytime TV proudly doing show & tell) you may have noticed a familiar blue uniform not seen onscreen since 1987. As is now tradition, the lobby of BFI IMAX Waterloo was once again temporarily converted into a movie museum where the offerings could be previewed and once again, the Superman Series was well-represented.

Courtesy of SuperFan Graham Holden come these amazing images taken from the exhibition on preview night, where amongst other treasures the tunic from Superman IV and the Crystal prop from Superman: The Movie were confirmed to be the same ones sold only last year by Eubanks Entertainment & Memorabilia. These lots, sold for £5000 and £1500 previously would make tidy profits on the day as expected, but still fairly conservative in comparison to some of the estimates from the glossy catalogue.

Indeed, by all accounts live bidding was as frenzied as ever with some astronomical figures reached by way of vintage Star Wars ephemera and modern equivelant Guardians of the Galaxy. Superman evidently retains its popularity with all lots going to very lucky/happy SuperFans – We look forward to next year..!

65…

Today marks what would’ve been Christopher Reeve’s 65th birthday and forty years to the day where he turned 25 on the set of Superman: The Movie.

One cannot help but wonder what Reeve would be doing now had his life not taken such a fateful turn in 1995.  It would seem (by Hollywood standards) that being of pensionable age no longer inhibits the revival of vintage franchises (see Harrison Ford) so its concievable that Reeve would still be involved in some capacity with his most celebrated turn – maybe even as a director.  Indeed, just before his accident Reeve seemed to be set on a return to the mainstream again, appearing in the critically accalaimed Remains of the Day alongside cult fare like The Village of The Damned.  Tragic, then, on one hand that his best work onscreen may have been to come but on the other, his pioneering efforts on behalf of the disabled commuinity will surely serve to change lives for the better all over the world.

SUPERMANIA is proud to help preserve the legacy with this newest addition to the collection, a significant find that surfaced only recently after more than 40 years.   Many Superfans are aware that lifecasts/masks were taken by makeup supremo Stuart Freeborn for most of the lead actors and that recasts of Reeve’s have been circulating for a number of years (click here).  These reproductions were of an altered cast made for production (where the eyes were cut out for the purposes of adding false ones later) so are more of an SFX curio than a ‘standard’ lifecast.  These, along with a few other variations offered by Propstore over the years (serving as wig mounts and suchlike) were belived to be the only existing examples remaining from the series after Freeborn’s passing.

So imagine the surprise when a complete, almost full-head casting with superb detail appears from nowhere and instantly becomes the definitive source for reference to date.  While some consider lifecasts to be ghoulish, this fibreglass pull is nonethess a superb impression of the late actor.  Note how it compares in size with the older FX casting (third pic) having shrunk many generations down the line.  Though the newer cast isn’t perfect (suffering from some distortion and lack of clarity around the nose)  its shortcomings are made up for by the inclusion of the ears, a very uncommon feature to survive the process…

We miss you, ‘Toph…

Con Yvonne…

From Fotogrammas.es; 25/04/2017

“Behind Superman’s outfit was a Super-woman. That was Yvonne Blake, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Spain. She was the one who designed the superhero costume for the movies directed by Richard’s Donner and Lester, and originating from the comic-book character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster .

‘The Superman Costume’ is a short film by the Algecirian filmmaker Juan Manuel Díaz Lima, who reveals the in’s and out’s of the creation of the Man of Steel’s dress through its own creator.

The costume designer has four Goya awards (‘Remando al viento’, ‘Canción de cuna’, ‘Carmen’ and ‘El puente de San Luis Rey’) and won an Oscar for the film ‘Nicolás and Alejandra’ in 1971.  She has also been part of the technical team of productions such as ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Robin and Marian’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, ‘Don Juan in the Underworld’ and ‘The Goya Ghosts’ among many others.

The Documentary also includes interviews with directors, film critics, seventh art scholars and experts on Krypton’s most famous inhabitant who serve to contextualize and understand the fascination with the designer’s work. Among the personalities are: Jesús Palacios, Antonio Sánchez-Escalonilla, Carlos Díaz Maroto, Miguel Ángel Vivas, Jordi Claramonte, Raúl Álvarez, Manuel M. Velasco, Iskander López, Jorge Jiménez, Jordi Costa, Víctor Matellano and José Manuel Serrano Cueto.

DirectorJuan Manuel Díaz Lima holds a degree in Audiovisual Communication and Doctor from the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. His filmography includes several documentaries and several fiction short films and director of several video clips.
‘The Superman Costume’ is a film financed with the support of the Community of Madrid by Creta Producciones SL, Veo Veo Producciones SL and Pasajes Invisibles SL.”

Debuting on the 19th week of the Short Film of the Community of Madrid, The Superman Costume, a new documentary apparently made without the authorisation or involvement of DC Comics or Warner Bros. seems to have passed right under the radar of the English-Speaking world.

Now a National treasure in her adoptive home country of Spain, legendary designer Blake has already been the subject of a book so it was only a matter of time before she herself made the transition to film, although precious little information about the picture itself seems available online.

With the subject matter obviously very dear to SUPERMANIA’s heart, a hand is extended to our Spanish readership for more information on this (or indeed a link where it can be watched) In the hope it may share some valuable revelations.  In the meantime, enjoy the excellent piece below written by Irene Velasco for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo ;

A self-respecting superhero cannot leave his wardrobe in the hands of anyone. And even less so when it comes to the definitive Superman. When the Man of Steel decided in 1978 to make the leap from the pages of the comic to the big screen actor Christopher Reeve needed one of the most reputed specialists in the world to take care of his wardrobe. A woman who had as an arduous mission to dignify, as much as possible, a garment that she herself recognised as quite ridiculous, composed of an electric blue suit with a large “S” printed on the chest accompanied by a cloak and Red underpants. Her goal was to make the grotesque combination work in the movies. She achieved it. This heroine is Yvonne Blake, who has made costumes for some 58 films (some as mythical as Jesus Christ Superstar), has dressed dancers and singers of numerous ballets and operas, has worked under François Truffaut , won An Oscar for best costume for the film Nicolas and Alexandra (1971), has four Goyas awards, has dressed legends the likes of Marlon Brando, Robert de Niro, Audrey Hepburn, Sean Connery, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor . Since July 2016 she is the president of the Spanish Film Academy.  A 76-year-old superwoman has led an exciting life. Aware that a hem, a stitching, or a tie could be more damaging to Superman’s image than the Kryptonite itself, Yvonne made it seamless. The Man of Steel’s suit she made for the film had, of course, the usual seams, but she managed to keep them well hidden and keep her superhuman reputation safe.  She also prepared Superman layers of 25 different fabrics, with the aim of getting the desired movement in each of the shots before the camera. But the biggest problem, she confesses, was to find the exact blue. “No doubt that was the most complicated,” reveals Yvonne as she pulls out of a large portfolio the original sketch of the figure, whose upper left corner still retains a sample of that happy fabric that cost him so much. The difficulty was that it was necessary that the patina was not too blue or too greenish to serve for the chroma-key, that technique in which certain scenes (especially those that require special effects) are rolled on a background.  But there were also other difficulties. “Christopher Reeve was very nervous, he was sweating a lot, and because his skin was very sensitive and he was immediately irritated, he could not use deodorant,” recalls Yvonne. Result: Superman appeared constantly in the armpits a very little dark patches, an unmistakable sign that the superhero transpired. “We solved the situation the only way we could: drying Christopher Reeve’s sweat stains with a hair dryer.”

 Marlon Brando is one of the actors that impressed me the most,” she says.. “He had a fantastic sense of humour, and he was not vain, on the contrary, in the first costume test he did not even bother looking at himself in the mirror, sating he would leave it in our hands.” She made a special cloth suit that reflected the light and made it look white, as if it radiated energy. “He told me that he had a hard time memorising the dialogue, and he often had to use large posters to remember his script, sometimes writing on his hand and sometimes directly off the forehead of the actress when she was off- camera.  He also said that this inability to memorise was what prevented him from doing theatre.

But before reaching the summit and making the mythical suit of Superman , Yvonne Blake had to go a long way from Salford, the northern city of England where he was born in 1941. “I have been very lucky in life but also a lot of push, I’ve always been ambitious. Once I had a goal in my head, I went for it,” She confesses…