R&B…

As significant and reliable a gift to fandom as its sister publications Starlog and Fangoria, vintage publication Comics Scene was regarded as a pre-internet bible for the medium and its various transitions to the big & small screen.

Indeed, arguably the most compelling aspect of the magazine were ‘The Comics Screen’ found in the back pages which featured an alphabetical list of all the comic-book based films either in production or ‘development hell’ where many would languish (and remain unmade to this day).

Toward the end of the ‘S’ column in Issue #1 of the second volume (the first being a short run between 1982-83), however, Superman IV was not only listed as in release but also on the cover of the special (top pic) for the start of a revival of the periodical which would last until 1996.

Consistently running pieces on the comics industry alongside the cinematic adaptations, the Superman double-whammy would be interviews with actor Christopher Reeve and comic-book writer/artist John Byrne, who, on the back of his huge success with origin-revision Man of Steel  was now heading up the monthly Superman book.  While Byrne speaks candidly about his process of ‘clearing off the barnacles’ from fifty years of mythos to get back to basics, Reeve offers his personal insights into the development of the character and his recent intervention in the arms race (above).

Decades later, its interesting to note that Byrne’s highest hopes were that his Superman be remembered in the same regard as Neal Adams or Curt Swan’s while Reeve’s desire was the character remain a leader rather than a muscleman.  Between them, both of these ideals and many more besides would come to pass, building a better Man of Steel for the 80’s and beyond…

But..The Bridge…

SUPERMANIA celebrates Easter with by bringing you these fascinating, never-before published photos from an old family album.

Taken on what looks like a balmy day in Canada in 1982, April DeJong & family took a road trip to watch filming of a memorable sequence in Superman III and managed to grab the photos above.  April picks up the story from here –

“I called my dad, he remembers we were going on a family road trip (we lived in Edmonton) and he and my mom heard they were filming Superman south of Calgary.  He found out where they were shooting and we just tried, and found it, and asked if my brother could get a pic with him etc. My dad can’t remember all of the details, just that Mr. Reeve was very gracious to take a few moments during a break to let my brother chat with him and get a picture with him. My brother was over the moon..!”

For a sequence which many fans still hail as one of the best wire-work landings in the series, Christopher Reeve hangs about between takes (top pic) before hiding out in the prop trailer (second pic) and shooting the scene with the emergency services after failing to prevent the crashed truck from falling off the bridge into the lake.

All in a days work for a Superhero however as Reeve later kicks back in the shade for one last pic with April’s lucky brother, who obviously enjoyed his close encounter with the Man of Steel…

(Images © April DeJong 1982/2017)

L’Art de DC…

As a great editor once said – ‘Well if Paris is gonna go gablooey I want my best reporter right in the middle of it’ – and so SUPERMANIA brings you the lowdown on the gleaming new exhibition in France which opened to the public this week.

Quite out of nowhere and “In collaboration with DC Entertainment and with the participation of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, The Art Ludique Le Musee presents “The Art of DC – The Dawn of Super Heroes,” a unique world first exhibition that pays tribute to the story of DC and its iconic Super Heroes and Villains such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Joker at the origin of a true contemporary mythology. 

An original creation of the Art Ludique-Le Musée team, “The Art of DC – The Dawn of the Super Heroes”, unveils more than 250 original historical plates and more than 300 works of research from the cinema and many Costumes and genuine props from the films

We also present the authentic costumes created for the great DC movies such as the mythical costume worn by Christopher Reeve in Superman and the famous costume worn by Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman in the 1970’s…”

While this may be an all-new installation some of the artefacts shown may look familiar.  Indeed, the Superman costume (Top pic, on loan from WB archives) is the same one remounted from the 75th anniversary showcase at comic-con in 2013.

The Clark Kent ensemble, however (second pic) is more of a mystery and may be comprised of genuine suit pieces over a screenused Superman tunic completed with replacement glasses and hat.

The real finds here though are the miniature costumes for special effects flying models of Reeve & Kidder for the ‘Can you read my mind’ sequence in ‘Superman – The Movie’ (third pic).  These wonderful, intricate creations were never seen in the finished picture but remain a  testament to the ingenuity of the art dept. as the Superman costume, for example, is made form the same fabric as the full-size outfits.  Set in a glass case surrounded by hand-drawn storyboards, its as fine a collection of Super-movie history collected in one place you’re ever likely to see…

  • From  March 31, 2017 to September 10, 2017
  • Address : 34 Quai d’Austerlitz – 75013 Paris (metro station Gare d’Austerlitz, parking paying opposite)
  • Prices : 16.50 € (regular rate), 13.50 € (reduced rate), 11 € (children from 4 to 12 years or group +20)
  • Opening hours : Monday: 11:00 – 19:00, Wednesday: 11:00 – 19:00, Thursday: 11:00 – 22:00 – Nocturne, Friday: 11:00 – 19:00, Saturday: 8 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 8 pm

Stalmannen..!

Join SUPERMANIA as we spin the world backwards in time to 1979, where Superman reigned supreme at the box-office and ABBA ruled the airwaves.

And speaking of our Swedish friends, DC Comics in Europe at the time were being published by Semic Press as the adventures of Stalmannen – featuring reprints of ‘current’ stories mostly featuring art by Curt Swan and translated accordingly –

Free from the restrictions of DC in the US however, opportunities were provided for awesome photo covers (top pic) and contained unusual features like a page dedicated to snapshots of kids in their finest Super-Costumes.

For the February’79 release of Superman: The Movie in Sweden the publishers celebrated by holding a competition (or lottery) to attend the premiere (second pic) and in a later issue (third pic) the back cover featured an ad for some pretty unsavoury looking confectionery based on the film – the packaging for which making them somewhat of a scarce collectors item today…

Welcome To The Family..?

Although originally conceived by producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind as a series of movies ‘much like the Bond films’, the critical and commercial disappointment of Superman III had prompted a revision that ultimately lead to the screen debut of Supergirl.  When the spin-off failed to hit the heady heights of its predecessor the future of the franchise became uncertain.

By 1985, with Santa Claus: the Movie proving to be another misfire, the Salkinds relinquished their interest in the Super portfolio to the Cannon Group, who, despite a reputation for churning out straight to video trash, were nonetheless expanding into the mainstream at an alarming rate.  Literally buying up every comic-related property on the market at the time, Captain America, Spider-Man and Masters Of The Universe were in pre-production already but Cannon needed a sure-fire hit with a built-in audience to start the momentum, and who better than the Man of Steel?

And so Christopher Reeve was welcomed into the Cannon Family, (top pic, from the pages of Variety) with ecstatic producers proclaiming that they had managed to secure him by ‘Giving him the picture he wanted, and one that the world wanted’.  With his personal project (contemporary thriller Street Smart) greenlighted and greater creative input into Superman’s writing and direction, Reeve would become a willing Cannon ambassador ( even making a personal appearance for the opening of a Cannon Multiplex cinema in Salford Quays, England (third & fourth pic).

The infatuation with their new adoptive son would be short-lived, however, and Reeve would soon become the black sheep of the Cannon family. In an amazing show of foresight, during filming of Street Smart, Reeve chewed out an outraged Golan over the phone by demanding another 1.5 million to shoot on location in New York, stating ‘If you don’t have the money to do this, how do I know you have the 30 Million to do Superman IV?’ (watch the fantastic footage here).

Of course, history now tells us just how well-founded these concerns were as by January of 1987 Screen International covered the story of Cannon’s bailing out by Warner Brothers (second pic) but such was the extent of  the company’s losses that it collapsed altogether the following year, having slashed Superman IV’s budget and forcing Director Gary Godard to fund the closing scenes of Masters Of The Universe out of his own pocket.

It was a debacle that the Superman series, and essentially Reeve’s career would not recover from.  The Salkinds, meanwhile, incensed by the treatment of their most successful property, immediately renegotiated the rights to move forward with their foray into television with Superboy alongside a little project with the working title of ‘Superman – The New Movie’…