Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Power Records

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today we are proud to feature another article by guest columnist MattComix who is introducing a new series to the FBU called Growing Up Bronze, wherein from time to time, he'll examine what made the Bronze Age such a awesome time to be a comics fan. - Jim

The Action Comes Alive As You Read!

Today in my first "Growing Up Bronze" segment I wanted to talk a little about one of my earliest comicbook memories. Having been introduced to comicbooks and superheroes thanks to my Grandfather's daily jaunts to the corner store, my new obsession was being further escalated by having viewed Superman The Movie, watching the Super-Friends cartoon, and being glued every Friday night for another exciting episode of lonely David Banner having his startling metamorphosis into The Incredible Hulk. Around this same time I got a record player for Christmas and my parents knowing full well (if not always understanding) my obsession wisely chose the perfect companion for that little red record player.

In the late 1970's and early 80's one of the best gifts a young superhero comic fan could get was a book and record set by a company called Power Records. Power worked with both DC *and* Marvel comics not to mention getting some other great properties like Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man, Planet of Apes, Space 1999, GI Joe, literary classics. Even Conan The Barbarian! Basically, the audio productions for these LP's and 45 records were done a lot like radio plays set to the script of the comicbook that went with them.

Now while sets like this were common at the time what made the Power sets stand out is that they got some solid comics talents to work on them. Guys like Dick Girodano, Jose Garcia Lopez, Ross Andru, and Rich Buckler. Sometimes an actual issue of the comic would be adapted or they would create one special for these sets. The comics themselves occasionally suffered from weird coloring errors but for the most part it didn't take to much away from how well they were illustrated.

At the time I started reading I would see a guy like Garcia Lopez doing art on covers for Superman but rarely on interiors. That's something that made these sets a real treat for me especially since I was already starting to draw myself and without realizing it I was begining to develop an eye for artstyles even if I didn't yet know the names of the artists.

Anyways, thanks to the Rob Kelly Family of blogs pretty much the entire Power records line is available to read and listen to. Today I'd like to share three of my favorites from "back in the day".

Superman. The Man From Krypton

One of my favorites from these sets was titled "The Man From Krypton" which of course told the origin of Superman. What was neat about this one to me is not only the telling of the origin itself, the artwork for which in my opinion stands toe to toe with any version that appeared in comics of the time thanks to art by Rich Buckler. What I also really enjoyed was the framing device used for it that's based on a simple but wonderful premise:"

Superman saves a little boys life and answers the excitable kids questions about who he is and where he came from. (All without tripping up his secret ID too much of course). This was also where I learned what a light-year was. ..and people say comics aren't educational.

The Hulk At Bay

I think this might easily be one of the most dramatic of all the sets. There's a certain nail-biting tension to the tone of this thing that had me on the edge of my seat as a lad. This might even be one of my favorite Hulk comics of all time. (Editor's note: Mine too!) I'm very much in favor of the shaggy haired mean-green but child at heart version of the Hulk and that's definitely at play here. It might also be one of the reasons I prefer Jim Wilson to Rick Jones as a "side-kick" for Hulk. The book features artwork by longtime Hulk artist Herb Trimpe and a throwdown with the deadly duo of Rhino and the Abomination!

Spider-Man: Invasion of The Dragon Men

This one is actually the first Power Records project I ever encountered. The one I got that Christmas long ago. It's not even the best really but the whole thing is so daft that it's retained a lot of its charm for me. If like your Spider-Man cracking wise on the villain he fights I think you'll dig this one. It's swinging 70's Pete trying to balance college and crimefighting. It also has one of the most hilarious bits of Spidey dialog ever:

Got it! I've deactivated the deactivator! So what does *that* do to your flakey plan Drakey baby?!

For more a in-depth look at these great sets including audio files and the excellent artwork that so often went with them stop by and spend some time at this blog by Rob Kelly:

- Have a great day!

1 comment:

BrittReid said...

The Star Trek albums, while featuring great all-new art by Neal Adams (and the Continuity Studios crew) and John Buscema (who did a kool Kirk meets "Conan the Barbarian" story) had some weird art/coloring "mistakes".
Due to the fact they didn't have license for the actors' liknesses, Uhura was a blonde Caucasian and Sulu was Black.
Oddly, this was during the period the animated Trek, which DID use both their likenesses and voices, was on NBC!
The one big bug I had as a kid listening to them was that they couldn't use the music or sound effects from the actual shows.
Hearing the same background fx and music on both Star Trek and Space: 1999 episodes was...disconcerting...


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