Thursday, April 06, 2006

Superman II

Yesterday’s Superman post sparked a lot of conversation so I thought I’d spend one more day on the Man of Steele.

Thanks to those of you who actually tried to justify how Superman could fly a little girl around the world without incinerating her. As far fetched as those theories are I buy them over Bush’s explanation of why we need to be at war with Iraq. If you haven’t read those comments please do so. Another reader explains how he can walk through walls by rearranging his atoms, but then again, who can’t?

Here’s what else I’d like to know. Where does Superman store his Clark Kent clothes when he’s Superman? One theory is that the logo on the back of his cape is a pouch, and he stores them in that. But still, a suit, his glasses, and shoes? And he must keep an iron in there too because when he changes back his suit is never wrinkled. Help me out physics professors.

Bud Collyer played Superman on the radio. He’s the wiry guy with the goofy bowtie who used to host TO TELL THE TRUTH (Game Show Network every moment they’re not showing old CARD SHARK episodes). When he played Clark he even gave him a different voice. Some of those old radio shows from the 30’s and 40’s are available and they’re a riot. Because it’s the radio Superman must talk to himself and describe everything he’s doing. “Alright, I’ll just twist this steel bar, there we go, then crash through this brick wall…that’s done. Now I’ll fly to Paris. Up up and away! Alright, I’m in the air now. A skydiver is yelling at me. No, sorry, I don’t have a camera!…etc.

People don’t realize but the whole Superman legend, (Krypton blows up, the baby is sent to earth, his rocket lands in Kansas instead of Nazi Germany thank God) was originated by the radio show not the comic book. Same for the character of Jimmy Olsen.

Phyllis Coates or Noel Neill? Who was the best Lois Lane? For fifty years now people have been debating this issue. Very sad people. Personally, I’d have to go with Noel. The deciding factor for any true fan is which one would you like to see kidnapped in your basement? I think Phyllis would scream and threaten that Superman will get me. Noel would compliment me on the new fake wood paneling.

To this day I can’t drive by the Los Angeles City Hall without thinking this is really the Daily Planet building.

I’m hoping the new movie will be good. For awhile Nick Cage was supposed to play Superman. On what planet including Krypton did that make sense? Kevin Spacey is playing Lex Luthor, a Bobby Darin impersonator who got bad reviews and wants to take it out on the world.

Since Superman seems to reside in Metropolis, why would any criminal want to rob banks there? Get in the car. Go to Cleveland. It’s a lot cheaper than lead helmets or commissioning machines that turn things upside down.

Another great thing about Superman is that he can go anywhere. Imagine if Spiderman moves to Phoenix. He can maybe swing from the Wal Mart to the Tastee Freeze.

Just as Sean Connery is THE James Bond, George Reeves IS Superman. There will never be another. Even though every other actor playing Superman can fit into the suit.


Stephen Gallagher said...

They never ran the TV show in the UK, or at least not in my part of it. The only glimpse I got of the Reeves version of Superman was when he guested on Lucille Ball's show, which we did get to see.

I grew up on the comic books, though. Flying, invulnerability, I bought it all... but I always hit a bump with Heat Vision. Heat vision? How's that supposed to work? Vision is light coming in, not rays going out -- eyes are sensors, not lamps.

I was almost tempted to suspect that they were just making this stuff up.

Anonymous said...

You must be an insomniac, Ken...since the only time they seem to run the Bud Collyer hosted TO TELL THE TRUTH or any of the other classic games on GSN is in the wee small hours of the morning--even if I WERE awake, my cable system only carries the channel from noon to midnight (and even then will regularly insert a paid local access program).

Anonymous said...

I wrote the previous comment...I though I hit "Other" before.

Anonymous said...

Actually, a pretty good number of Superman radio episodes are available. The only era where many of them seem to have been lost is the WWII era. And many of the post-WWII radio adventures are really quite good - Superman vs Atom Man, Superman vs the Klan, etc etc.

Stephen Gallagher said...

Didn't Collyer also provide the Superman/Clark Kent voices for the Fleischer cartoons?

Anonymous said...

His clothes were folded neatly on top of the phone booth for when he returned

Eric said...

It looks like the exploding planet/rocket origin was in Action Comics #1 – you can see here. I believe the name Krypton was from the radio serial. In addition, he originally jumped – flying was only added once they created the cartoons, because jumping looked stupid.

Anonymous said...

but there's another post in the whole "who is the only. . ." thing. for example douglas fairbanks is the only zorro, errol flynn is the only robin hood, lugosi the only dracula, etc.

Cunningham said...

I have one of the Superman shorts embedded in video on my blog. Bud Collyer was the voice of the cartoon Superman as well.

And yes, the whole origin came from the comics and later embellished in the radio program.

The first time Superman met Batman though was on the radio, and actually he met Robin first.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Argh. I got ejected by a cyber-bot bouncer, who apparently took offense to my comment. However, the mystery surrounding Clark Kent's wardrobe is a no-brainer. He shaved his nads and tattoo'd a dress suit to his body a'la Demi Moore so all he had to do was strip naked and voila! Instant Clark. Obviously, this means he was not ENTIRELY super. Negative effects of Kryptonite -- tragic. But it explains why he didn't put the moves on Lois.

By Ken Levine said...

He didn't put the moves on Lois because when he climaxed it would probably shoot her into the next county.

Anonymous said...

And Metropolis is based on Cleveland!

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Ah, then we've stumbled upon the greatest mystery of all, Ken. What was the poor guy to to? Exercising restraint would surely make him eventually implode but if he "handled" the problem himself, he'd yank it off! Perhaps, being from Krypton, he just wasn't equipped at all and they reproduced by regeneration OR they're hermaphroditic, kind of like earthworms, only they can attend to their own needs?

Ya know what -- I gotta get off these meds.

Jon said...

Seems to me that it was once explained about the Clark Kent mufti: He compressed it into a small ball and stored it in his cape. The fabric was designed to withstand such abuse, and the chemical treatment resulted in all of Kent's suits being the same color blue.

Brent McKee said...

Metropolis may be based on Cleveland, but the Daily Planet is really the Toronto Star - Joe Shuster worked as a newsboy for the Star when he was a kid before his family moved to Cleveland. The paper in the comic books started out as "The Star" but when Superman became a newspaper comic strip it often ran in cities where there was a local "Daily Star" which wasn't necessarily the paper the strip ran in.

As for Superman's clothes, apparently there were specially treated so that they could be compressed to the size of a wafer that would fit into a pouch in his cape, and then decompress when he needed it. Presumably wrinkle-free.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly on the Superman cartoons done by Paramount, while Collyer did his voice recordings in New York, as did a few of the other voice actors and the musicians, the animation and some of the other dialogue from the studio's regular voice artists was done in Miami (where in 1941 the Fleischers were one of the few places to actually have air conditioning). Must have made for some interesting logistics in trying to put the whole package together, especially during wartime.

Anonymous said...

“And he must keep an iron in there too because when he changes back his suit is never wrinkled”

He’s the “Man of Steel.” He rubs his hands together, really fast: instant hot iron.

“People don’t realize but the whole Superman legend, (Krypton blows up, the baby is sent to earth, his rocket lands in Kansas instead of Nazi Germany thank God) was originated by the radio show not the comic book”

The radio show had Krypton as a sister planet, orbiting on the other side of our sun. And it didn’t blow up.

“George Reeves IS Superman. There will never be another. ”

Even though I didn’t see The Adventures of Superman until a few years ago, I’d agree.

And when George does that crouch-leap into the air... that’s art, dude.

“He didn't put the moves on Lois because when he climaxed it would probably shoot her into the next county”

Interestingly, (or is that, sadly?) science fiction author Larry Niven wrote a tongue-in-cheek article called, Man of Steel; Woman of Kleenex in which he discusses the sex-life (or necessary lack, thereof) or Mr. Kent.

Anonymous said...

Bud Collyer was the voice of Superman in the Fleischer cartoons in the '40s AND the Filmation cartoons in the 60s. I believe he passed away shortly after the 60's cartoons went out of production.

Anonymous said...

Superman and Batman first met on the radio show as well, pioneering the whole idea of 'superhero team ups' so popular today.

I must post anonymously, for if my identity should ever become public knowledge, the international SPAM crime league will fill the inboxes of my loved ones with unwanted pornography and Nigerian money changing offers.

Paul Salvi said...

WARNING: The following is extremely nerdy.

I love the Superman radio show and it's always a nice to see it acknowledged somewhere, let alone appreciated.

The radio writers initially had Superman grow up in his rocketship on the long trip to Earth. No Kents, no Smallville. This was later "retconned" into an origin closer to the comics.

While Krypton did originate in the comics, the radio version was what subsequent adaptations used as the model for their version of those events. In fact the Fleischer cartoons, Kirk Alyn serials and George Reeves TV series were all based almost entirely on the radio version, so it certainly had more to do with shaping the character than most people realize.

Oh and while I'm yammering on, Bud Collyer WASNT the voice of Superman for most of the Fleischer shorts, even though he tends to be credited exclusively. This Wiki page has more info/discussion:

Regarding the suit storage discussion, I have seen the "cape pouch" depicted in old comics. The question is, why bother? Superman was so fast back then he could have flown home, changed, put his suit on a hangar, zip back to fight evil and then retrieve his stuff with time to razz Lois in between.