The CAPTAIN MARVEL film is about someone who originated in Marvel Comics, as Ms. Marvel. The other Captain Marvel is the proper one, who originated in comics published by Fawcett.( Pronounced Fossett). His film is named SHAZAM. His own name will not be used in the production. He will be known as Shazam, which is confusing, as that is the name of the person who empowers Billy Batson the right to change, via magic lightening, into the super-hero Captain Marvel, after saying Shazam. Although in the movie, Shazam will empower Billy Batson to change via magic lightening into Shazam after speaking the name Shazam. Eh!?
You might be a little confused by the aforementioned. Do not worry, so am I. To know more, please study the Penguin Book of Comics and a book about comics; published by The Smithsonian Institute. There are also many websites that will give details. It is best to refer to as many as possible.to gain a proper picture of what happened. In fact Fawcett's character, actually had been known to outsell Superman. He also had a 1940's highly praised cinema serial, which was considered by some to be better made than the Superman serial.
I will not bore or confuse you, fascinating though it might be, with the full background of the behind the scene arguments between Fawcett and National Comics aka National Periodicals aka DC Comics, but instead, I shall recall the time, as a child of five or six, I became, or thought I became, a superhero.
It happened like so...
My maternal grandmother took me to The Grand Cinema in Holloway Road. Later in the week my father took me to the same cinema. On both occasions, the cinema showed in its supporting programme, an episode from a serial about a character named Superman. I was fascinated. There was a shop in Holloway Road just around the corner from my home. The couple who ran it; I believe were Americans. They, coincidence or not, started to sell American comics. My mother asked me to choose one. I chose Superman. Later in the week, my father purchased a comic with yet another superhero. He was named Captain Marvel. My father read out to me what was being said. Was I was not good at reading? Or was it because it was an excuse for him to read the comic? Perhaps secretly enjoying the journal?
Later, his younger brother popped in. So while these grown-ups were conversing, I disappeared somewhere. This looked like a job for a superhero. I decided to transform myself into one by grabbing hold of my red dressing gown. I tucked its sleeves either down the sides of my shirt collar, or, the shoulders of my pullover. I was now the Holloway region's answer to it all.
I went to a room and decided to fly out of the window. I approached the said window and sill with bated breath. My brain temporarily left its fantasy world and studied the distance between the sill and ground outside. Would I be safe if I jumped? I was not that stupid. I then returned to my fantasy world standing there. I was poised. I then took the plunge and jumped. Then I imagined that I was flying around in the front surrounded by a privet. Whee!
Presently, a little girl; who was in my class at school, entered my turning with her mother. She called over from the other side of the street, "Hello Alan. What are you doing?"
"I am flying! Whee!" was my reply, hoping that she could not see my legs behind the privet; firmly on the ground
"You can't fly."
"Yes I can do too. Look Whee!"
"No you can't."
And with that they continued to the other end of the street and went home.
Then there was a horror of horror situation. On one side of the privet, there was a footpath leading up to the front door and step. The door suddenly opened. There in the entrance was my mother. She inquired how did I get out? I explained that I flew out the window. I was then ordered in, and that I was banned from reading those sort of comics again. The ban was not that bad. I used to have The Beano and Dandy. There was a superhero named Jack Flash - the flying boy from Mercury in one of those journals. Heh! Heh! Heh!
At a later date, I moved to Hemel Hempstead. Here I found some of my new friends were looking at these comics as well. However, this did not seem to detrimentally affect my behaviour. Eventually, the ban was lifted and I was back; officially, into superheroes.
But there is one situation that I am curious about. Belswains Farm House, the Hemel Hempstead dwelling where I lived, did have the capacity to accept more than one set of occupants. At the time one was a family which included a little girl. I often played with her. One day I was in her part of the house. Her mother was doing some ironing, whilst her daughter and I sat on their settee. Present happened to be one of these comics. We both looked at the pictures and started to enact the unfolding story. Suddenly, there was a look of horror on her mother's face. She quickly said to her daughter, firmly and politely, that she had told her not to play "that" game.
At the time, I wondered what was it about superheroes that grown-ups did not like; which inspired children to play games?
As an adult, an interesting thought has occurred to me. Did my mother say something to the little girl's mother? Did the mother become concerned when she saw us indulging in superhero activity. Did she think, "Not with him!" Did she think that I was mad? Who? Me mad?! Never! How could anyone think that?
End of blog
Useless (but possibly interesting) information:-
- During the time of Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin respectively, as the series progressed, danger warnings to children were given out, prior to each episode, about children trying to fly. There had been some serious incidents as a result of children trying to be super beings.
- In the world of comic strips, the demise of Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr and Mary Marvel, saddened me. But I was compensated by Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman.
- In the UK, Fawcett's out put was published by L. Miller & Son Ltd who operated from Hackney, under licence. A man named Mick Anglo; who ran an art studio/free-lance agency for comic strip illustrators, suddenly had an idea. He suggested that as L. Miller had the right to publish the Captain Marvel characters' stories, why not re-vamp them into Marvelmen etc;. Captain Marvel became Marvelman, Captain Marvel Junior became Kid Marvelman, and Mary Marvel became Kid Marvelman. Yes. Doctor Who is not the only person who has changed sex. Well, you could not have a Mary Marvelman. Could you? How they were not sued is a mystery.
- I have had two superhero audio plays rejected by The BBC. One; however, has extracts in the local history archive at Berkhamsted. Reason: it was written almost a quarter of a century prior to the Buncefield Oil Depot explosion in Hemel Hempstead. In the story The Amazing Broadcasting Man, the Buncefield Oil Depot is under threat of exploding. There is also reference to the local hospital situation.
- I, as a child had a go at making comics. Some of them were superhero orientated.
- I did wonder about going in for writing stories for comics. But this did not materialize.
- Today, I am more likely to bore Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers with suggestions for productions.
- Superman's first film appearance was a short cartoon. Clayton Bud Colyer supplied the voice for this, and a radio series.
- For Superman's first 'live' action film and serial, an actor named Kirk Alleyn successfully auditioned for the part. To get an idea of what he looked like both physically and in trunks, he was asked to strip to his underwear. His comment was, "Gee! I thought that this thing only happened to dames!" Sadly when the flying film sequences were developed, it was discovered that the harness holding up the actor could be seen. So, Columbia Pictures super-imposed an animated cartoon figure of Superman, within the live action frames instead.
- Republic Pictures' Captain Marvel serial used different methods to make Captain Marvel fly. Including a dummy or was it a balloon? Captain Marvel did look far more convincing.
- Frank Coughlin Junior portrayed Billy Batson. Tom Tyler portrayed Captain Marvel for the serial.