Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Harvey Comics and The Time Tunnel

When I was about six years old my mother and I visited my aunt in Kentucky.  She lived in the country in a two-story Victorian style home. 

They raised tobacco, corn, cows, pigs and chickens. 

For a small town boy visiting there it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately other than exploring and hanging around the barn and pastures there wasn’t a lot to do.

About a mile from the farm was a little hamlet consisting of about dozen stores.  One of those stores was Rexall Drugstore.

Besides selling drugs and personal hygiene products the store also had a soda fountain and a magazine rack including two comic book spinner racks. 

About three times a week I walked to the drugstore, bought a coke or ice cream cone and perused the spinner rack.

It was there I discovered Harvey Comic Books.

I was hooked.  I loved reading the adventures of Casper, Wendy, Spooky, Little Lotta, Dot, Richie Rich, Audrey and literally dozens of other characters’ adventures.

Mom loved the Harvey Comics because she considered them ‘safe’ without any violence, sex, dirty words and the like.  I loved them for the stories (I still do).

As the years progressed and my tastes changed and I gravitated to super-heroes (primarily Marvel Comics).  I still occasionally picked up a copy of Harvey Comics.

Over the years I’ve became something of an expert on the history of comic books.  I thought I knew it all.  I even knew that Harvey Comics during its long history published different types of comic books of all genres.  Yeah, I had it all figured out.

Until I picked up a copy of Mark Arnold’s The Harvey Comics Companion, published by BearManor Media.  Boy, did I get an eye-opener!

I tip my hat to the incredible amount of Harvey Comics history writer Mark Arnold has compiled.  I never knew there was so much history, publications and interesting facts about Harvey Comic Books.

Starting from its early days back in the late 1930s the book chronicles the many transformations, changes and ultimately the final publishing of kid-friendly comics Harvey is famous for.

Included in the book is a complete history layout starting with conception and on.  Sketches, book designs, original art, merchandize tie-ins, movie and TV projects-it’s all contained in this HUGE paperback book containing so much comic book goodness that any red-blood comic book collector will love.  It’s a veritable festival of fun stuff that brings back fond memories and childhood fun.

Writer/director/producer Irwin Allen produced, wrote and directed a slew of science fiction TV shows during the 1960s.  They consisted of Lost In Space, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea, Land Of The Giants and (my favorite) The Time Tunnel.

While I enjoyed the other shows The Time Tunnel held a special attraction to me.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to travel in time?

I’ve always been fascinated with time travel and The Time Tunnel satiated my appetite for traveling to the past and the future.

The story centers on two scientists who become lost in time and the efforts by their fellow scientists to retrieve them. 

Each jump in time sends the scientists into dangerous territory only to be whisked away at the last possible moment to another timeline.

Pirates, aliens, the Old West, a trip to the stars-every possible scenario was explored at breakneck speed.

Although the special visuals effects of the time seem primitive by today’s standards the show’s production were high and producer Irwin Allen always got his money’s worth and it showed on the small screen.

Martin Grams Jr.s’ The Time Tunnel A History Of The Television Program delves deeply into the making of the show.

Readers get a real sense as to the complexity, effort and talent that goes into making a TV program-specifically a sconce fiction show.

The book is filled to the brim with interviews, behind-the-scenes shenanigans and workings, stock and candid photos of cast and crew, insights as to how the special effects were made, production secrets, set designs and so much more.

Each episode is examined from stunts, to special effects, direction, pivotal scenes, bloopers and everything else that had to do with production.

Like the series’ premise the book is a true time travel device taking readers back to a time to the 1960s when some of the greatest TV series were created-The Time Tunnel being one of them.