May 072013
 
Ray Harryhausen, the undisputed master of stop-motion animation, has passed away at age 92. As others have noted, he didn't create the special effects technique of animating small models one frame at a time, but he perfected it in a series of imaginative motion pictures that, regardless of their other merits (or lack thereof), will endure forever because Ray somehow managed to breath convincing life into his menagerie of mythological and fantastical creations, working in solitude for months at a time. There have been other talented stop-motion animators (including Harryhausen's own mentor, Willis O'Brien), but few managed to imbue their characters with quite as much personality and "soul."

The movies he made will always be remembered, but it is all of the artists and animators, filmmakers and authors that he inspired that will be his true and greatest legacy... and I count myself among them.

R.I.P. Ray. There's considerably less magic in the world today.

Nov 032012
 
Amazon had them on sale for less than $10 each, so last week, I ordered the last two incarnations of Super Friends from the early 1980s - The Legendary Super Powers Show and Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians -  on DVD. These two seasons were tailored to tie-in with Kenner's popular DC "Super Powers" action figure line, hence the prominence of the term in both titles.

Both shows featured Jack Kirby's Darkseid as the major villain and had slightly more sophisticated stories than previous incarnations of the Super Friends franchise. In the Galactic Guardians run, Hanna-Barbara's artists switched from the original Alex Toth character designs to new ones by Jose Garcia-Lopez, giving it a fresher look; it was also the first Super Friends show to have full half-hour (well, 20 minute, really) episodes each week instead of two 10-minute stories per installment.

I missed these seasons when they originally aired on Saturday mornings (I was in Art School by then), but I'm looking forward to enjoying some Old School super-hero 'toons over the next week or two.

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