Tag Archives: merchandise

Superman II 2.48: The Miracle

The year is 1981, and once again, there’s a yawning, empty space in the Warner Books release schedule. Every big movie in 1981 got a paperback novelization, one way or another — Ballantine Books published the Raiders of the Lost Ark novelization, Jove published the Flash Gordon novelization, and Avon published a novelization for the Popeye musical that included the song lyrics, which is incredible, because almost all of the songs in Popeye consist of two or three words repeated endlessly.

But there wasn’t going to be a Superman II novelization, because dumb ol’ Mario Puzo had the rights to novelize the Superman films, and he refused to have anything to do with them.

Back in ’78, Warner Books — stuck without a Superman: The Movie novelization in a novelization-friendly market — threw up their hands and said fine, we’ll publish an original novel instead. The book, written by DC Comics writer Elliot S. Maggin, was called Superman: Last Son of Krypton, and it was 238 pages of blithering nonsense about an invasion by an enormous hypnotic alien jester who was using a cosmic Xerox machine to make copies of planets, or something. It was confusing and not very good, but it had a picture of Christopher Reeve on the cover, and that was good enough.

It turned out that it didn’t really matter what you put between the covers of a paperback that looks like a Superman: The Movie novelization, because the kind of people who like to read movie novelizations would read just about anything. It appears that Maggin didn’t have much of an editor; I guess the book was published on the honor system. Maggin says that he knows absolutely nobody at DC read Last Son of Krypton before it was published, because if they had, they would have at least stopped him from using the brand name Xerox, which he did quite a bit.

So if the first book, written in a hurry without any serious editorial oversight, sold just about as well as anything else would have in that format, then Maggin knew that for the second book, he would be able to write down the craziest thoughts he ever had about Superman and they would publish it anyway, and that is exactly what happened.

Continue reading Superman II 2.48: The Miracle

Superman II 2.19: Die Hard

I grant you that life was simpler back then. In 1981, we didn’t have smartphones or streaming television, and the only computer I’d ever been in the same room with was a Commodore PET that could only run programs recorded on a cassette tape.

But even in simpler times, did we really need to be told in the instructions for a board game that you were supposed to “open up the gameboard and place it on a flat surface”?

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Superman 1.95b: A Small Amount of the Exciting Original Story of Superman: Last Son of Krypton

1978 was not one of the golden years of movie novelizations. Star Wars had done very well in 1976, and the Close Encounters of the Third Kind novelization in 1977 did quite a bit toward helping people understand what the hell that movie was even about.

But the movie tie-in section at Waldenbooks was fairly grim in ’78: there was Jaws 2 and The Bad News Bears Go to Japan, and novels based on some unloved Disney films: Pete’s Dragon, Return from Witch Mountain and The Cat from Outer Space. And that was about it.

The one thing that could have perked up the publishing category that year would be the novelization of the long-awaited Superman film, but Mario Puzo screwed us on that, so we got this instead.

Continue reading Superman 1.95b: A Small Amount of the Exciting Original Story of Superman: Last Son of Krypton

Superman 1.90: A Man Can Buy

They didn’t use the word “synergy” for this kind of thing yet, so they just called it a “push”, as in SUPERMAN PIC GETTING WARNER COMMUNICATIONS PUSH.

Superman is due to get a super push from Warner Communications Inc.,” said Variety in July 1978, “marking the first time a major entertainment conglomerate has marshalled virtually all of its subsidiary operations in the advertising, promotion and merchandising of a feature film.”

And congratulations, the superhero movie is born, not with a whimper but a bang. Warner Bros. has realized that they’re about to launch a feature film based on one of the most well-known characters in the world, and by now they’ve actually seen a rough cut of the film, and it’s really good. So it’s time for the Warner subsidiaries to circle the wagons, and get ready to make some Star Wars money.

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Superman 1.58: The Alternative

Superman is up in the air at last, and now — at the late date of 70 minutes into a 140-minute experience — we might say that Superman: The Movie has finally begun. He’s rocketed skyward, a danger to sneak thieves and drug smugglers, and a friend in need to cats and kings.

As we discussed yesterday, the film’s special effects crew finally figured out how to produce credible shots of the action ace soaring through the sky, which is great, but it involved a great deal of wear and tear on the harnesses, the front projection equipment and the lead actor. It’s too bad that the Superman crew didn’t realize that there was an alternative, which was proposed in Action Comics in spring 1978, on behalf of a British toy company.

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Superman 1.24: A Balanced Breakfast

Martha wakes up, and remembers.

In that first moment just after dawn, her head still clearing from sleep, there’s a fraction of a second when nothing has changed.

She opens her eyes and Jonathan isn’t there, because he couldn’t sleep — worried about the taxes again — and he ended up dozing in the armchair in the living room, a magazine in his lap.

She opens her eyes and Jonathan isn’t there, because his leg is bothering him again, and he went downstairs to do those funny exercises the doctor told him to try.

She opens her eyes and Jonathan isn’t there, because

Because he isn’t there.

And Martha remembers.

There’s work to do. It’s a farm, there’s always work to do, and now there’s even more. She’ll get up, and get dressed, and she’ll make breakfast for Clark — a complete breakfast, the best way to start the day, with two eggs, a slice of buttered toast, a glass of orange juice and the delicious whole-grain oats crunch of General Mills’ Cheerios.

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