Archive for March, 2015

Powers has a premise that’s almost better than any story that could possibly be spun out of it. Set in a world filled with super-powered beings, it follows two normal detectives who are tasked with solving cases involving superheroes and villains (known as “powers” on the street). From that ingenious and deceptively simple premise has sprung a creator-owned behemoth that has been in near-constant publication since 2000. As such, it has been a popular candidate to transition into other media.

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There’s been a lot of news lately about the casting/filming of the Deadpool film that has recently gone into production. Now that it’s actually happening, it’s funny to look back at just what a rollercoaster ride it was to get this flick greenlit.

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Atomic Robo is a comic series created by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. If you’re unfamiliar with it, please do yourself a favor and get familiar. It’s a fun, exciting and hilarious story with an insanely likable cast of heroes and villains. Recently Clevinger, the comic’s writer, posted a series of anecdotes on Twitter that explained some dealings he’d had in trying to adapt the character for the big screen, years ago (check him out on Twitter to see his comments). Amongst the notes from the studio was the need for Robo (a loveable, heroic robot) to have a kid sidekick. Eventually, the project fell apart, but not before some interesting meetings with the creators.

Brian Baer (frequent writer for Comic Book Media) was recently able to speak to Mr. Clevinger about his experiences dealing with a major studio and getting that close to seeing an adaptation of his beloved character.

I’d like to thank Brian Clevinger for agreeing to the interview and providing some insight into the difficult and frustrating process of adaptation.

Another thanks goes to Brian Baer for taking the lead with this interview. With that, I’ll turn things over to the two Brians. Enjoy!
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**Brian Baer researched one of the earliest adventures of Marvel’s First Family in expanded media. More than that, he actually made it through a whole episode of it before questioning his own sanity. Enjoy!**

The Fantastic Four radio show is something of a pop culture anomaly. Debuting in 1975, the show lasted for a full thirteen weeks and was quickly forgotten. Now, it seems to be “discovered” every two or three years, namely due to the involvement of a pre-Saturday Night Live Bill Murray. The novelty passes, and then it waits to dug up once more.

The show itself was the brainchild of disc jockey Peter B. Lewis. When first dreamed up in the mid-60s, Lewis originally hoped to create a show about the Silver Surfer or a rotating series of Marvel characters. “I chose to lay the foundation and do the first 13 weeks on the FF and see what to do next,” he told an interviewer. A chance meeting with Stan Lee secured the rights, and Lewis began to put the show together.


“Bill, you are WAY off-script, man.”


The National Lampoon Radio Hour was winding down and many of the voice actors, including Bill Murray, were available to join the cast. Longer radio programs had become harder to sell in the mid-70s so each story was split into five minute segments, played five days a week to serialize one full issue’s story.

On scriptwriting, Lewis said, “I tried to follow the exact quotes from the books, then I added visual descriptions of the scene and the action.” The resulting episodes are accurate to a fault. They seem so focused on following the original Lee/Kirby issues to the letter, that once the pictures are removed, the stories would be utterly incomprehensible without the constant narration by Stan Lee.  

“The fiery Human Torch was on
fire. Am I doing it right?
Excelsior!” 

The Fantastic Four’s adventures into other media have always been either overblown trainwrecks or charmingly inept. Their radio show is the latter. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the 1994 Roger Corman film – It would’ve never worked out, and that seems terribly obvious to everyone but the series’ creators. 

When they could only secure fraction of the funds needed, Peter Lewis and producer Bob Michaelson invested their life savings. They ended up broke. No national advertisers signed on, and Marvel barely seemed aware of the program. It took decades for them to work themselves out of debt.

“Until the past few months, I haven’t really been able to consider the project anything other than a big black evil-time in my life,” Lewis said in 1999, “I now have a better handle on much of it.”

Despite the occasional interest the Fantastic Four radio series generates, Marvel has still declined to formally reissue it. It can’t be found at the typical bootleg convention tables, and it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. Its latest rediscovery doesn’t seem to be winning its entrance onto the main stage of comic book adaptations, either. Maybe when it pops up again in another two or three years.

One of these days we HAVE to get a good adaptation…right?