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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

Current Installment >> Cover Stories Archives | General Forum

COVER STORIES for 07/10/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #9

Welcome to this ninth edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

Well, not this time... because every fourth column or so... it'll be time for...

Comics Never Made

As you may recall from four weeks back, when you see that additional heading, we're delving into comics that don't exist in our world, so don't look for them in your copy of Overstreet, don't even think about searching for 'em on eBay! They don't exist!

But I'll talk about them as if they do! So strap yourselves in as I set the Kurtzberg Alternative Reality Device, and let's see what we find in the back issues!

Help!

Yep... Dell's not following up their Beatles license let Gold Key produce this adaptation of the Beatles' second movie "Help!", and it was just at the right time, as they needed some high-profile stuff on the market.

Just as a side note: Dell apparently never forgot that they made a mistake letting the Beatles property go, and when the Monkees came out, they published about 16 or so issues of a book based on the Monkees!

I'm thinking Dan Spiegel did the artwork for this comic book, but it's kind of hard to say -- apparently he didn't ink it, someone else did, but in a few panels, it definitely looks like his stuff (however, other comics history scholars point out this book would've been done by the East Coast GK staff, while Spiegel was West Coast staff, so it must've been someone else).

More stills must've been available for this one, as there are a large number of panels that are exact matches for photos I've seen from this movie. As with the "Hard Day's Night" Dell comic, when a song was happening, the lyrics would be on the top of a full page panel, except that these panels were sort of collages in a way -- "Help!" had more plot happening with the songs than the previous movie did, after all!

Beatles Gold Key 1

Gold Key played it smart -- they didn't let the Beatles license go, and apparently they had no problem getting the license to produce a comic based on the animated series that was on ABC-TV.

This also opened the way for their Beatles one-shot based on "The Yellow Submarine," I suspect!

Unlike the animated series -- which was basically an animated music video, with some short sequences before and after each song (and the plot was also based on the song -- one of these days, these will be available on DVD, and I'll be getting it and watching it immediately!) -- the comic book version had more plots, and no songs at all (apparently, there was a problem with the rights to use lyrics, so aside from some generic "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" stuff happening when they performed, there was little plot with them actually performing music).

The cover-featured story may have been an unused Gold Key plot, just because of the idea being the Beatles go somewhere to perform a concert, and get involved with something funky happening that they have to solve.

"The Phantom of the Eiffel Tower" opens with the Beatles arriving in Paris, naturally, and we're treated to a few panels of the Fab Four doing a bit of sightseeing on their way to the hotel. (Their taxi driver apparently was padding the fare some... They pass the Arc D'Triomphe in one panel, which Paul identifies by name, and a few panels later, they pass it again, causing John to remark, "And there's the sequel to the Arc D'Triomphe, Let's D'Triomphe Again!"

The Beatles are to perform a concert at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, naturally, and just as naturally, the Phantom appears to disrupt things during their rehearsal (just before the Phantom appears, George says, "Great radio antenna -- they must get great reception!"). The Phantom, strangely enough, is dressed like Mickey Mouse's old foe, the Phantom Blot! The Phantom sends some lights crashing down on stage (Ringo: "He nearly got my rings with those things!"), and then yells out that there will be no rock and roll at the Eiffel Tower!

Naturally, the boys have to investigate, and eventually, discover that the Phantom was a Frank Sinatra-type singer who had just signed a record contract, all set to be a teen sensation, until the Beatles came out, driving his record off the charts so fast his own label doesn't remember him anymore. Paul is sympathetic to the Phantom's plight, and offers to help him "update his style for the times" -- with the last panel of the story being the Phantom, now sporting a Beatles haircut, and wearing clothing like the Beatles (except in green), with the Beatles performing as his back-up band!

A one-page story called "Ring-a-Ding Ringo" follows, which is similar to many of the Archie comics one-page gags (this one involving Ringo trying to answer phones for his girlfriend, a receptionist, while she gets a cup of coffee -- by the time she returns, Ringo's all tangled up in phone lines, letting her deliver the punch line when George calls, "Ringo can't come to the phone right now, he's all tied up!").

The second story in this issue isn't quite as entertaining as the first -- and one I think was adapted from one of the cartoons, but I could be wrong! "King Klong, Jungle Gorilla" escapes from a circus, and naturally, he's very dangerous unless he hears music. Of course, he runs into John, Paul, George and Ringo, and they accidentally discover that King Klong will only calm down when he hears music -- so we're treated to several pages of reaction gags as the Beatles lead the gorilla back to the circus while singing and playing their instruments (Ringo can't carry his drums, naturally, so he plays whatever he can find along the way). Lots of visual gags here, such as people becoming so scared they jump to the top of a telephone pole, someone having an accident with their car and trying to explain they crashed because they saw a gorilla following four Beatles, etc.

Apparently, at least two other issues were produced, but I never found them anywhere!

Now, let's hit the "reset" switch on the Kurtzberg Alternative Reality Device, and return back to our home reality again as I wrap up this week's column.

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me!

Jon B. Knutson

<< 07/03/2005 | 07/10/2005 | 07/17/2005 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.


Recent Installments:
NEWESTInstallment 129: 1 - 10 - Cracked! (10/28/2007)
10/21/2007Installment 128: Clichés
10/14/2007Installment 127: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
10/07/2007Installment 126: Circus Time
09/30/2007Installment 125: 1-10 - Challengers of the Unknown!
09/23/2007Installment 124: Ch-ch-ch-changes - And it's all Superman family titles!
09/16/2007Installment 123: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
09/09/2007Installment 122: Reader Challenge - a reader gave me four comic book covers, and challenged me to come up with the theme!
09/02/2007Installment 121: Cartoon Stuff
08/26/2007Installment 120: Sports
08/19/2007Installment 119: 1-10 - Captain Marvel Adventures!
08/12/2007Installment 118: Comics Never Made - Five comics that never were!
08/05/2007Installment 117: Carnival
07/22/2007Installment 116: A G-g-g-g-g-ghost!
Archives >>

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