Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ghosts of FCBD Past: My Favorite Martian (2012)

Who among us wouldn't prefer roast quimf?
Though I was once again unable to officially make it to Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) this past May due to work engagements, I did pick up some of the offerings the following Thursday for the reasonable price of $1. One of the many nice things about FCBD is that smaller publishers who have a little bit less name recognition (and whose publications are often not to as easy to sample unless you are looking for something specific) have their wares on the table along with the Batmans and Avengers of the comic book world.

Uncle Martin's expression?
When I first saw the list of possible titles available this past May, one that I looked very forward to picking up was a sampling of stories from the forthcoming My Favorite Martian Special Edition, published by Hermes Press.

The draw for me was both an affinity for the classic television show starring Bill Bixby and Ray Walston, as well as the artwork by Silver Age great Dan Spiegle that I had seen in online previews. Plus, it seemed like an entertaining concept entailing what comic books, for me anyway, should really be about in the end: fun. As the television show aired  (1963-66) before I was born, I came to it like many folks my age, via reruns on early 1980s "super channels" out of Chicago and New York. Also, I first was introduced to both leads by their Eighties success; Ray Walston through his movies like Fast times at Ridgemont High and Robert Altman's Popeye, and Bill Bixby on The Incredible Hulk

Besides, who's favorite relative at some point in their young lives is not their uncle? A television show starring two interesting actors of the time eith a concept that had one (Bixby) passing the other (Walston) off as his uncle, while in fact harboring a Martian was gold. Think I Dream of Jeannie but with two dudes; though Jeannie premiered after Martian in 1965.
The comic book adventures of Martin and Tim took a moment to get used to as most of the episodes I recall watching were in black and white, while the comic is in color, and I've always thought of Walston as having grey hair. The coloring in the comic uses the age old trick of having two protagonists who share physical similarities and for whom the most obvious differentiating factor is hair color and style, Martin with a blond Caesar-cut, and Tim with a standard black with side-part deal.

The primary story, "Destination Mars," does what many old school comic book tie-ins attempt: to take the show's original concept and "heighten the budget" by including activities that might be too expensive to produce on network television. In addition to the standard sitcom witty repartee between the  characters, this comic book story (and presumable the rest of the larger collection for which the image to the right is the cover) includes high budget goodies such as a working rocket ship and suitably Sixties robots.

Though I'm unsure whether I could afford to drop the $49.99 for the hardcover My Favorite Martian the Complete Series: Volume One, the FCBD offering did fro me what I had hoped it would by providing a light story reminiscent of those I enjoyed on television and in comic books during my youth.

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