It's the dawn of 2007 as I write this. Well, not quite, but close enough. The year started up a little too quickly to be able to sit and write anything truly compelling, but at least it's still January. In any event, the new year has brought with it some (putting on my best Arte Johnson voice) verrrrry interesting developments.
First, Warner Home Video has finally released replacement discs for their Tom & Jerry cartoon sets that had been authored with the wrong audio dubs (instead of the proper, original tracks).
Second, Elisabeth Sladen is back on television playing Sarah Jane Smith in her own series. Is it just me, or does she look an awful lot like Galactica's Mary McDonnell?
Third, Gorilla Suit Day is almost here. If you wear your suit and see your shadow, I think it means six more weeks of bananas.
And fourth - this one I never thought I'd see - DC is bringing back into print Mike Fleisher's thirty-year-old Batman encyclopedia. Here's the text from the April solicitation sheets:
THE ORIGINAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC BOOK HEROES VOLUME 1: BATMAN TP
Written by Michael Fleisher
Art by various
Everything you ever wanted to know about DC's Dark Knight - and so much more - can be found in this amazing volume, brought back into print for the first time in 30 years! Originally published in 1976, this extensive volume - the first in a series - includes everything you could want to know about Batman, his allies and enemies, weapons in his war on crime and his adventures from the 1930s to the 1970s!
Advance-solicited; on sale May 23,
416 pg, B&W, $19.99 US
Here's a page scanned from the original Batman volume, to give you an idea of what these looked like:
You need to understand that I was eight years old in 1976 when someone gave me this, and as far as I was concerned, this was the best book ever. Think about what the Harry Potter books mean to kids today; that's what Fleisher's comic book encyclopedias meant to me. That's right, I used the plural. There were three of these suckers, one each for Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. Collier Books published only the first two volumes in a projected series of eight, but got sidetracked by various internal corporate matters. Warner Books eventually acquired the rights to the Superman manuscript, publishing it as 'The Great Superman Book' (totally meeting any applicable truth-in-advertising laws) as a tie-in to the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie.
This is what the three published volumes looked like:
So what else was in that projected series of eight volumes? Here's the list, as printed in the two Collier volumes:
- Wonder Woman
- Captain Marvel, Plastic Man, and the Spirit
- Green Lantern
- The Flash
- Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, and the Human Torch
- Doctor Fate, the Hawkman, Starman, and the Spectre
I asked DC big kahuna Paul Levitz a few years ago whether he could shed any light on the existence and/or state of the manuscripts of the other volumes, and he told me that, to the best of his recollection, Fleisher had completed the essential work on all of the manuscripts prior to Collier's difficulties, but that DC did not have copies of the unpublished ones, nor did DC know where copies might have been found. I wonder whether I might get a different answer if I asked Paul the same question again today.