Fanchild (8)

By: Adam McGovern
April 27, 2011

HiLobrow.com has curated a collection of our favorite recent blog posts by comic-book scriptwriter and translator Adam McGovern. This is the eighth in a series of ten installments.

Masked Men

Like all open-minded fanboys, I’m ready to line up for the Green Hornet movie to decide how bad it sucks, and the enterprise was helped along by a recent marathon of the 1960s TV version on SyFy. I had very faint memories of the original run, but was mesmerized when I came across it the other day — played straight but with the same production-values as the Batman show (at the same time by the same people), it has a strange kind of serious camp; ultra-artificial but much more vivid than real. Made when all the Mad Men-era amoeba-furniture, parallelogram-cars, sculpted hair and fashion-ad outfits were actually in existence but with not one second filmed outside a soundstage, the show gives the weird feel of a present-day period piece, a diorama to give future generations or post-apocalyptic aliens the idea. Pretty much the only thing I’d remembered was the pre-kung-fu-craze Bruce Lee as Kato (among a number of Asian characters less stereotypical than during the superficially empowered kung-fu craze, not quite three-dimensional but remarkably less jive than anything else being done at the time — maybe ’cuz Lee wasn’t just acting). I didn’t remember Van Williams in the title role, square-jawed and skulled but still ridiculously beautiful like a prototypical Mike Allred male; Batman may have been the show that helped give Mike his lifetime pop muse, but Green Hornet is the show his characters live in. In the same way, the multi-season Batman may have made pop safe for ironic hipsters to say they liked, but the short-lived Hornet, perhaps TV’s closest success at a real-life cartoon but dead serious about itself, saw our media-saturated future even if it wasn’t then the one to watch.

This post originally appeared at ComicCritique.BLOG, on January 12, 2011.

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CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators

Categories

Comics, Kudos

What do you think?

  1. Such an interesting point about the original Green Hornet — especially now that we’re moving beyond the campy retro movie versions of expired pop culture franchises (Brady Bunch Movie, er al) into these quite serious reboots (Batman Begins, Star Trek). In this new era where we apparently no longer need to use irony as a defensive way to signal that we’re too cool to think there’s anything admirable or moving about schlock cultural products, I wonder if the old Green Hornet show — which, unlike the Batman show that pretty much kick-started the cheesy-take-on-schlock movement, takes itself seriously — might feel super-contemporary?

  2. I guess we’ll know when and if the new *Wonder Woman* TV-show gets off the ground. Since I wrote this the Hornet flick actually came out :-), and its manchild buffoonery made Seth Rogan look five times more self-conscious about what he likes than William Dozier ever was. The Brady-film template might actually be the way to go — to update everything *around* the characters in order to point up their corniness but affirm how desirable that worldview can be — worked for Darwyn Cooke’s Spirit comic, and for the first Chris Reeve Superman flick, it is apt to remember…

  3. “update everything *around* the characters in order to point up their corniness but affirm how desirable that worldview can be” — this reminds me of a conversation some of us were having around the KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM series about Captain America comics in the late ’60s. How Captain America was purposely made to look like a freakish yet admirable throwback as he walked around the streets of New York full of flower children and degenerates.

  4. Good point, though that one was mostly melancholy…did anyone say it embodied Lee and/or Kirby’s yearning to be young again in time for youth culture? Or maybe the readers’ yearning to be as pure as they liked to think of themselves and have a grownup icon’s moral authority…

  5. Lee and Kirby were members of the New Gods generation, which Boomers (the degenerates in those Capt. America panels) revere — now that they’re the elder generation — as the last morally upright cohort of Americans. This is the subtext of so much proaganda that has been shoved down our throats, from Ken Burns documentaries to Spielberg and Lucas movies, to George W.S. Trow’s “Within the Context of No Context,” to those 1968 Capt. America comics, to… I don’t know, maybe even Brendan Fraser in “Blast from the Past.”

  6. …which of course brings us full-circle to my originally more lighthearted allusion. Though the message of Mad Men is that no generation is that upstanding, or can claim to stand up all that well to another…though through the omniscience of drama we can try to learn by retrospective example and put ourselves in the context of what we don’t yet know…

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