Friday, May 3, 2013

The Skinny -- My Hero!

Today was a super-duper special day for us Blackbird girls because it was Iron Man 3 day.  We've been clutching our tickets for weeks now, and tonight's viewing (it was awesome, BTW) will be the first of many.  After it was over, we did our normal breakdown of what we thought of the movie -- trust me, if you heard it, you wouldn't have understood it; we have our own weird nerdy language when it comes to Mr. Downey's work -- and naturally, we compared it to the previous films.  

So later, I started thinking about superhero movies, and wondering how did they get to be such huge, multimillion dollar franchises?  How did this start?  What are the links between reading classic comic books and watching your favorite characters come to life?

The very first appearance of a superhero comic book character on film is in Adventures of Captain Marvel, released in 1941.  Made by Republic Films, it was a twelve chapter serial based on the Captain Marvel comic book.  Superman was supposed to be the first, but things just didn't work out.  Tom Tyler starred as Captain Marvel, and the films were directed by John English and William Witney.

More recognizable heroes followed Captain Marvel.  Batman was made into a fifteen chapter serial by Columbia Pictures in 1943, starring Lewis Wilson as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Douglas Croft as Richard Grayson/Robin.  These Batman serials debuted story details that became part of the hero's canon.  The serials introduced the Bat Cave with its secret entrance, and also altered Alfred Pennyworth's appearance, taking him from the overweight butler in the comics to the trim, sophisticated Alfred we now know.  These changes were so important, they were carried through into the comics themselves. The Batman serials were a success, and they paved the way for another set of serials, Batman and Robin, in 1949, starring Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan.  They were re-released in 1965 as An Evening with Batman and Robin. Their success in the mid-1960s then inspired the campy Batman TV series we all know and love, starring Adam West and Burt Ward.

The first theatrical release of a Marvel superhero is also the most expensively made serial series, Captain America.  Released in 1944 by Republic Films, it starred Dick Purcell as Captain America.  It really didn't follow the Captain America storyline, as the main hero was not ripped American soldier Steve Rogers, but a pudgy district attorney named Grant Gardner.  He also did not have his iconic shield, did not fight Nazis, did not have his revolver, and his sidekick, Bucky, was nowhere to be found.  Really, it was pretty much a letdown.

And of course, in 1948, we have the first film appearance of Superman.  Made by Columbia Pictures, Superman was a 15 part serial in black and white, with animated fight sequences.  Yes, that's right.   Animated fight sequences.  They just didn't have the budget for anything else.  It stars Kirk Alyn as Clark Kent, who, funnily enough, was uncredited for his work, except on the movie posters.  A odd bit of trivia is that because of the mix of animated and live-action footage, Superman's take-offs in flight are almost always shown in the foreground, but his landings always end behind things, like cars or rocks.  The transition was easier from live-action to animated in the take-off than it was in the landing, coming from animation back to live-action. So because of the need to hide Superman's landings, he often lands too far away from the action, and must run to catch up with the villain. 

Alas, after the decline of the serials, we had to wait until the late 1970s for the next wave of comic superhero films.  But it's OK.  I think we've got enough now to make up for the time gap.  Just keep the Iron Man and The Avengers coming.  We'll be the first in line.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

On the Radar -- Going My Way?

Angela Rekucki Fabric - Bikes n Trikes - Chevron in Multi
OK, so you all know about the chevron trend.  They're everywhere.  And they highlight, to me, the way trends move.  Sort of like the spa blue and brown thing from the past decade.  Something becomes an idea in the very high fashion/elite crowd -- and then it trickles down and down and down.  Something that started with Alexander McQueen or  Madeline Weinrib or Jonathan Adler will end up on all kinds of products at Big Lots and Walmart. 

That's the part of the chevron phase we're at right now.  It's beginning its loooooong journey down the slippery slope to the graveyard of dead trends.  A chevron has been done about every possible way you can do it -- it's been through all its various transformations.  It's been modern, it's been Southwestern, it's been hipster.  Three years from now we'll still see chevron prints on dishtowels at the dollar store.

But don't get me wrong.  I love a chevron.  And they're not a new thing.  Fashion and design have loved a chevron for decades.  So for today's trend post, I thought I could highlight a very anti-trendy idea, and what we Blackbird girls love.   Everything old is new again -- although we love trends, we love classics more.

And although the chevron is on the downward death spiral, we know it won't really go away.  Here's our selections for how to keep the trend alive, with vintage picks!

Laminated Bakelite earrings, from Kitsch Bitch 77 on Etsy, here.

Vintage mixing glass, from Need or Want on Etsy, here.

Chevron cardi, from Mouse Face Vintage on Etsy, here.

Vera dishtowel, from Fuzz and Fu on Etsy, here.

Vintage tunic ,from PD Vintage Boutique on Etsy, here.

Vintage purse, from Vagabond Merchant on Etsy, here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Junk Love Monday: Flowers (and an Apology)

From PeppermintBark
First, the apology: we skipped our regular Friday blog post last week. We were just so busy getting ready for a show, we ran out of time. We didn't even post a picture for you to look at, and for that we are truly sorry. So, today's Junk Love post contains some flowers just for you. You'll get a Skinny post this week--scout's honor!

Nothing says springtime quite like daffodils. We have them scattered around our house, and we just love to see their bright yellow (or white) faces turned up toward the sun. The other Blackbird girl's mother is crazy about them, and not only has them everywhere at her house, she collects vintage daffodil-themed items as well (although she calls them jonquils, I'm a daffodil kind of girl...).

Linen towel, from RuralSouth
Set of 4 Vera napkins, from FourMartiniLunch

Metal hook, from VintageFindsAndSigns

Even faded daffodils are cute. We love the look of this vintage green tray. It would look great on a 1930s tablecloth, or even propped up behind mismatched vintage glasses in a kitchen.
From HighPointFarm2010
And, in case you need daffodil fashions in your spring wardrobe, check out this brooch, dress, and pair of adorable yellow shoes:
1930s or 1940s carved bone brooch, from deliadelia
From LionsManeVintage
From bonmarchecouture