2007: The Year That Was.
2007 was most certainly a year of change for me. With the introduction of Retrorama I made a shift away from more in-depth special features into the weekly column format. I certainly appreciate the feedback I have received since this went online in late July, not to mention the Mike Smith Award for doing something I wasn’t even thinking about! The funny thing is, Retrorama was never meant to be a weekly column.
Earlier in the year I noticed that the weekly contributions to the PCR were becoming consistently thin. The time seemed right to pitch an idea to Nolan that I had for a PCR tangent similar to the Schlockarama section (hence the title Retrorama). This new section, as originally envisioned, would have had categorized subsections dedicated to subjects like DVD reviews, forgotten films, vintage toys, and topics related to collecting. Many of these entries would be inspired by the correspondence that seems to constantly come in to the letter column from fans requesting information on people, places, and movies. This married several different concepts I had been kicking around for years and gave me the luxury of not having to deliver on any set schedule. Unfortunately there were some formatting problems encountered while trying to bring this section to life and the end result compromise between the Big N and myself is the column you are now, and hopefully have been, reading. I ended up with a different beast than I started out to create but, to paraphrase mad scientist Kurt Leopold from ZAAT, “It’s nothing at all like the catfish but … it’s beautiful”!
2008: The Year That Could Be
Whenever a new year comes along, I always like to ask myself where do we go from here? What future pop culture landmarks could the next twelve months bring? For inspiration on the future, I always look to the past. Thirty years ago, as 1977 changed to 1978, there were a number of milestones that changed the Fanboy world forever.
Several notable films were release in 1978 including Superman, Animal House, Grease, Midnight Express, The Deer Hunter, Jaws 2, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Overshadowing all of these though were two soon to be cult classics that would have repercussions for years to come – Halloween and Dawn of the Dead. Both of these films would usher in entire subgenres of horror films – the over the top violent zombie and the unstoppable boogeyman slasher categories.
On television, Dallas, Mork & Mindy, and WKRP in Cincinnati all premiered but most important was the debut of Battlestar Galactica, which managed to overcome its Star Wars clone roots and find an audience all its own. Also of note was the U.S. syndication of Battle of the Planets, Sandy Frank’s badly dubbed and edited version of Japan’s Gatchaman series, that introduced 70’s latchkey kids to what would later become known as anime.
From a technology standpoint, 1978 saw the first laser discs on the market when RCA unveiled its Selectavision system (which was phased out by conventional laser discs only a few years later). There were finally enough movie titles available on video cassette (predominately Beta) for chain rental stores to begin opening. Some of these early titles included MASH, Planet of the Apes, The African Queen, The Sting and the Beatles Let it Be (which has not been reissued since).
In the toy stores, Stretch Monster joined Stretch Armstrong on the shelves, Micronauts and Star Wars figures were going strong, Super Joe was Hasbro’s spit in the eye to G.I. Joe fans and the prolific Mego Corporation was in it’s death throws. After passing on the incredibly lucrative Star Wars action figure license, Mego was trying everything it could think of to recapture the market. 1978 brought us action figures based on the CB craze, Happy Days, Starksy and Hutch and the final few entries in the World’s Greatest Superhero line.
2008 is also the 40th anniversary of the release of a film which has had more impact on my life than any other – Yellow Submarine. The Beatles third theatrical outing is a singular animated odyssey with a visual style that has never been duplicated. Rest assured that you will be seeing numerous columns this year dedicated to different elements of this wonderful motion picture.
The important thing to learn from our history is that all these things took originality. Sure there were sequels and re-imaginings, to use the current term, thirty years ago but these were the exceptions not the rule. For 2008, I wish the forces that shape pop culture in our world a good healthy infusion of creativity and the tenacity to pass up a quick buck in favor of something new and exciting! Happy New Year!