Posts Tagged ‘King Features’

King’s Watch is a new comic book from Dynamite crossing the action heroes from King’s Features; Flash Gordon, the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and Lothar.

The series opens with Earth in mass hysteria as people all over the world have nightmares about monsters and other horrific imagery. Meanwhile some strange atmospheric phenomenon is occurring  and reporter Dale Arden is investigating. Mandrake the Magician has an ominous moment in his home, and there’s a few mystic characters in Africa but I’m not sure who they were.

Elsewhere in Africa, Lothar and the Phantom fight a giant monster in West Tanzania in a pretty cool action sequence. Flash Gordon here is the son of a CEO who is setting up private space exploration. Flash has met Dr. Zarkoff the issue ends with them flying off into space investigating the phenomenon.

While the source of the phenomenon appears to be from Flash Gordon mythology, it does not appear to be Ming the Merciless. So far it seems like a good concept and I’m curious to read more.

Popeye Meets the Man who Hated Laughter.

           Popeye meets the Man who Hated Laughter was a 1 hour cartoon special that aired on ABC in 1972 as part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Series. It is notable for crossing over various characters that were owned by King Features Syndicate. It’s also notable for being able to cross action adventure characters like The Phantom and Flash Gordon with humor based characters like Beetle Bailey and Blondie.

           What brings them together is the villain, Morbid Grimsbee. Apparently he’s won the meanie award 6 times, and wants to be the first 7 time winner. His assistant is Brutus from Popeye. His plan is to trick everyone to board a ship, the S.S. Hilarious. So the comedic characters board the ship thinking they’re going on a pleasure cruise and get some interaction with each other. Soon the ship self-destructs, and the characters are imprisoned on an island with Morbid Grimsbee. As the ship goes down Olive Oil makes Popeye save her clothes and not his spinach, hence Popeye is not able to save the day.

           Soon the President of the United States realizes that the Sunday morning cartoon characters have been captured. Since this is a national emergency he summons the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, Steve Canyon, and Lothar to the White House. These men form a rescue team and head to the island, but soon they are captured themselves. We get a few action sequences out of this with Flash and the Phantom. At one point the Phantom wrestles some kind of large cat, it might have been a jaguar. ALso Mandrake summons Prince Valiant from the past to assist them.

           However it is the comedic characters who end up saving the day, as they use their talents to make Grimsbee laugh, leading to a change of heart. The danger is not over as a volcano on the island erupts, forcing everyone to flee on Grimsbee’s Yellow Submarine. (King Features co-produced the Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine). While under the sea they find Popeye’s spinach, allowing him to save the day from one last obstacle.

           In terms of crossovers Popeye Meets the Man who Hated Laughter is notable for bringing straight action adventure characters together with comedic characters. It’s also notable for the first animated appearance of Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, Tim  Tyler, and the Phantom. In a way foreshadows the Defenders of the Earth cartoon of the 1980s, which had Flash, the Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician team up to fight Flash Gordon’s enemy Ming the Merciless.

Characters from the following strips appear in the show.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Bringing Up Father, Flash Gordon, Henry, Hi and Lois, The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Iodine, The Little King, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom, Popeye. Prince Valiant, Quincy, Steve Canyon, Tiger, Tim Tyler’s Luck