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Caveman: V. T. Hamlin & Alley Oop
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(Nov 18, 2008)
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Here's the fascinating story of Vincent T. Hamlin, the innovative Iowa-born cartoonist who created the long-running comic strip ALLEY OOP-now celebrating its 75th Year! With a lively rock score, pop art imagery and a cast of celebrated cartoonists, CAVEMAN explores the history of the dinosaur-packed comic that inspired the popular '60s song, and paved the way for THE FLINTSTONES and JURASIC PARK. Filmmaker Max Allan Collins knows the world of comics, writing the world-famous DICK TRACY strip and creating the classic graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION basis of the Academy Award-winning Tom Hanks film.
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V. T. Hamlin wrote and drew Alley Oop through four decades for NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association) --- Initially, Alley Oop was a daily strip which had a run from December 5, 1932 to January 3, 1933 --- Beginning August 7, 1933, the early material was reworked for a larger readership --- The strip added a Sunday full page, on September 9, 1934 --- It also appeared in half page, tabloid and half tab formats, which were smaller and/or dropped panels --- During World War II, the full page vanished due to the drive to conserve paper, and it was reduced to a third of a page.
Hamlin retired in 1971, his assistant Dave Graue took over --- The last daily by Hamlin appeared December 31, 1972, and his last Sunday was April 1, 1973 --- From his studio in North Carolina, Graue wrote and drew the strip through the 1970s and 1980s until Jack Bender took over as illustrator in 1991 --- Graue continued to write the strip until his August, 2001 retirement; on December 10, 2001, the 75-year-old Graue was killed in Flat Rock, North Carolina when a dump truck hit his car --- The current Alley Oop Sunday and daily strips are drawn by Jack Bender and written by his wife Carole Bender.
As of 2007, the strip was being produced by Carole Bender and Jack Bender --- The strip is a mix of adventure, fantasy and humor --- Alley Oop, the strip's namesake and leading character, was a sturdy citizen of the prehistoric kingdom of Moo who rode his pet dinosaur, Dinny, carried a stone war hammer, dressed in nothing but a pair of fur shorts, and obviously would rather fight dinosaurs in the jungle than deal with his fellow countrymen in Moo's capital and (only) cave-town --- In spite of these exotic settings, the stories were mostly satires of American suburban life.
SPECIAL BONUS FEATURES INCLUDE:
1. Panel Discussion: With writer/director Collins, Producer Mark Lambert
and current Alley Oop artists, Jack and Carole Bender from 2008.
Iowa Historical Museum screening (50 mins)
2. Commentary with writer/director Max Allan Collins
3. Commentary with Jack & Carol Bender.
4. Will Eisner - Last lengthy on camera interview.
The father of the graphic novel on comics from Alley Oop to Krazy Kat, from
Popeye to his own classic Spirit Publication. (43 mins)
5. Artwork by Jack & Carol Bender
6. "Good Morning Tulsa", Interview with Jack & Carole Bender.
Special Note: My favorite bonus feature is the lengthy interview with Will Eisner (The Spirit) is a collectors dream come true.
Hats off and thanks to Robert Blair and his staff at VCI Entertainment --- VCI was named in Variety and Hollywood Reporter as the first company to produce and release motion pictures directly to the home marketplace --- order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment where there are plenty of copies available on DVD, stay tuned once again for top notch releases --- VCI are experts in releasing long forgotten films and treasures to the collector -- looking forward to more Nostalgic Collections.
Total Time: 96 mins on DVD ~ VCI Entertainment ~ (11/18/2008)
So I approached this well crafted - and delightful - 53 minute documentary as a novice (though I am a big fan of graphic artists). I was not only entertained, but educated as well. There were interviews and commentary by Comic book authorities as well as Oop's creator V.T. Hamlin's daughter (a librarian). Lots of commentary by Hamlin's two successors as well and the story flowed evenly.
The bonuses are truly extensive. There is a LENGTHY (43 minute!) interview with graphic artist Will Eisner - his last! And a full 50 minute panel discussion held in Iowa (Hamelin's hometown) on the 75th Anniversary. There are TWO commentary tracks too! - though I haven't gotten to those yet.)
There are more details in "Mr. Bill" `s review which preceded mine so I won't repeat those.
This is another fine release from VCI which has been doing lots of interesting releases over the last few years. Not all are restorations of old films and TV shows. This one is neither and is recommended for Alley Oops fans as well as those who only knew him from that "Oop, oop" song!