Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Before Judo Master or Karate Kid.... by Dave Goode

The other day someone was asking me if I had a chance to write a comic book feature starring a character other than one of my own what would it be? I suppose he thought I was going to say Judo Master or Magnus,Robot Fighter. Or maybe Nightwing or Thunderbolt. Or perhaps he thought I was going to say Mighty Samson or Iron Fist. Instead I told him "Bobby Bell of the Young Shields of America". He responded with a confused look on his face and asked "who?"

To those of you not in the know Bobby Bell was the star of a series of PSA strips from the early days of the Silver Age of Comic Books.Created by the legendary team of Simon & Kirby he was the Captain of The Shield's Young Americans Club a.k.a The Young Shields of America. In his strips (featured in early issues of Archie Comics' The Fly) Bell taught readers basic judo and jiu jitsu self-defense techniques.

 Originally drawn to appear anywhere from 8 to 12 years old  young Bobby gave his martial arts lessons dressed in a Shield play-suit. Things got really bizarre in later strips when Bobby a.k.a Billy taught judo in the context of short stories where he fought bullies or a street villain known as the Gargoyle. Bobby by this time was depicted as being at least sixteen and just looked ridiculous walking the streets or going on a picnic in Central Park with his girl friend dressed in an imitation Shield costume.Was he supposed to be a crime-fighter? Or was he just a nut? I thought a T-shirt with a shield emblem on it would have been enough.

I would have liked to have seen the Bobby Bell feature as an 8-page back-up. In it he would have been an all-around athlete and top student. Sort of a modern day Frank Merriwell. But in middle school.Not high school or college. He would still have been a judoka. And he would still use judo to sometimes combat bullies. But he wouldn't be teaching techniques to readers who might injure themselves practicing them without proper supervision. Instead the emphasis would have been on judo's moral teachings. And oh yes he wouldn't be wearing the Shield underoos on the street. Below is the 1st page of what a Bobby Bell strip written by me would look like ably illustrated by my buddy Vance Capley of course.
 Look for Judo Comics by
Dave Goode and Vance Capley! 

Grab yours today!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Casting Charlton's Judo Master by Dave Goode

The more things change the more they stay the same.Fan-boys are still arguing about who would prevail in a fight...Batman or Captain America? Of course back in the Silver Age of Comics the argument made a bit more sense.Back then both DC and Marvel described their respective heroes as the "world's greatest athlete" and the "world's greatest human fighting machine". Only back then the super-soldier serum didn't give the Captain the ability to make a fifteen foot standing high jump. Or run a mile in a minute among other things. So a fight between the two seemed a bit more fare. Both Batman and the Captain were just superior physical specimens who were highly skilled in hand-to hand combat. So as a pre-teen I wondered how Charlton Comics' Judo Master would have fared against the Caped Crusader or the Living Legend of WW Two.
Judomaster created by Joe Gill and Frank McLaughlin

Judo Master's origin appeared in Special War Series No.4(Nov.1965) a little over a year after Captain America made his first Silver Age appearance in The Avengers No.4(March 1964). In it Steve Rogers lookalike Sgt.Rip Jagger of the U.S. Army rescues the granddaughter of a Pacific island chief known as "Sensei". The islanders are actually Japanese citizens who left their homeland to escape the nation's war-time policies.Jagger himself is rescued by native guerillas after his unit is wiped out. He is then schooled in the martial arts by the islanders and given a colorful costume to fight a guerilla war against the Japanese. Jagger who had been a collegiate boxing champion in turn,under the tutelage of the islanders, masters jiu jitsu,karate,kendo and of course judo. He eventually also gains a kid sidekick in the form of a Japanese-American named "Tiger".

Like all fan-boys I imagined my favorite comic book features turned into movies. And the casting of Rip Jagger in a Judo Master movie seemed like a no-brainer. American karate legend Joe Lewis had been an avid weight-lifter during his days as a high school wrestler. Upon graduation he joined the Marines where he first studied judo and then karate while stationed in Okinawa. After leaving the service after a stint in Viet Nam he began competing in karate tournaments. He won innumerable point karate championships and then became the U.S. Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion and the World Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion.He was twice voted the greatest fighter in karate history. And Bruce Lee regarded him as such. The part of Colt in Return of The Dragon was originally written for him. But after a falling out between Lee and Lewis the role went to fellow karate champion Chuck Norris.Who knows if Lewis had taken the role maybe he would have gone on to B-movie and TV stardom. And we'd be making jokes about "Joe Lewis Facts".

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Judo Johnny Weissmuller by Dave Goode

I've mentioned in the past that though I first knew Johnny Weissmuller as Jungle Jim he would become my favorite movie Tarzan.And I actually prefer him as Jungle Jim.I suppose that's because as Jungle Jim,Weissmuller was using judo/jiu jitsu techniques in fight scenes.In his post Tarzan movies you could see him using various armlocks and wristlocks as well as the ippon seoi nage, tomoe-nage and osoto-gari.


In the Jungle Jim flick SAVAGE MUTINY there is a scene in which Weissmuller teaches members of the jungle patrol some judo self-defense techniques.Re-watching that recently got me to thinking.Did Weissmuller ever take any lessons himself?

Of course the Olympic swimming champ swam to keep in shape.If not Tarzan shape.After all during the filming of the Jungle Jim series
Weissmuller was still appearing
in a number of aquacades and water shows. 
But playing an action/adventure
movie hero it just made sense to
me that he might have taken some
judo or jiu jitsu classes.Though
that may not have been the case.

Like George Reeves had practiced judo with Gene LeBell during the run of The Adventures of Superman television series perhaps Weissmuller had taken some classes with John Halloran.You might remember Halloran as the evil Captain Oshima in the James Cagney movie Blood On The Sun.Halloran was a former LAPD officer and judo instructor who was Cagney's instructor for this movie. And served as the movies technical advisor for the judo scenes. In any case it would be interesting to find out if Weissmuller had any formal instruction.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Amazing Amazon...Wotta Woman by Dave Goode

I have to say as a kid back in the Silver Age I never bought a Wonder Woman comic book. I'm not saying I never read one. I did. But only when nothing else was available. But this super-hero loving kid wasn't spending 12 cents on a Wonder Woman comic book. Not when there were alternatives and there were.And I'm quite sure that other "little boys" from that era felt the same. Wonder Woman was a "comic book for girls". And if I wasn't reading a Justice League of America comic book in which Wonder Woman was appearing I had no use for the Amazing Amazon. That is until Lynda Carter came along to play the part on television in 1975.

There had been a Wonder Woman television pilot shot during the Batmania era. But the less said about this the better. And then there was a made-for-television movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby in 1974. This flick seemed to be based on the Wonder Woman comic books that were published from 1968 to 1972 when Wonder Woman was stripped of her powers and fought crime as an Emma Peel type character. The pilot movie for THE NEW ADVENTURES OF WONDER WOMAN was a tongue-in-cheek retelling of Wonder Woman's origin from Sensation Comics No.1 written by William Moulton Marston and illustrated by Harry G.Peter. And truthfully this was one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book story put on screen. And Lynda Carter was perfectly cast as the Amazon princess fighting evil in the man's world.

Sometimes though I imagine a 1940s big screen Wonder Woman movie starring MGM's MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID Esther Williams.With maybe Van Johnson as her love-interest Steve Trevor. Miss Williams had all the same qualities that made former Miss U.S.A Lynda Carter so perfect in the role. Tall,statuesque and with a sweet sexiness that's hard to define. Plus Miss Williams who had set multiple regional and national swimming records in her late teens was a lot more athletic.

Here's a video by my buddy Vance Capley drawing Wonder Woman in the original costume she wore back in  Sensation Comics No.1 back in 1942.