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.SECRET ORIGINS OF CAPTAIN ACTION - PART 3 of 6
The AMAZING COMIC STRIP SUPERHERO!

RECAP: Created by Stan Weston, co-creator of the GI Joe action figure and the kid's game Mouse Trap, Captain Action could "change" into nine different superheroes (by donning masks and costumes). Toy maker Ideal loved the fact that Cap's multiple identities meant multiple accessory purchases would follow each Captain Action figure sale, and kids loved the fact that by buying one action .figure, they could get nine!

In our last two issues, we covered Cap's creation and revealed the secret origins of his comic book identities. Stan Weston's access to the world of syndicated cartoon strips also led to the acquisition of rights allowing Cap to become a series of comic strip heroes.

Although these stars had no super powers, The Phantom, Steve Canyon, Flash Gordon and The Lone Ranger were every bit as popular as their superpowered contemporaries -- if not more so. These progenitors of the modern superhero reached huge audiences in daily and Sunday newspapers, and their popularity landed them starring roles in movie serials, feature films, television shows -- and now, in 2006, they're on DIAL B for BLOG, the most original web log in comic history! How times change. But enough talk -- let's begin our look at Captain Action... the Amazing Comic Strip Superhero!

CAPTAIN ACTION as THE PHANTOM!
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.The PHANTOM

FIRST APPEARANCE:
"The Phantom" comic strip, February 17, 1936 -- two full years before Superman's debut. He's the first superhero! (Phantom origin strip shown below.)

SECRET ORIGIN: In 1525, off the coast of Africa, pirates murder Christopher Standish. His son, Kit, later finds the skull of his father's murderer, and he swears an oath upon it that he and his descendants will devote their lives to "the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice." Kit Standish aka "Walker" becomes The Phantom!

REAL ORIGIN: The character was created by Lee Falk (1911 - 1999). Born in Missouri, Falk created Mandrake the Magician at age 19, and thought up the Phantom when he was just 24 years old.

FUN FACT: "For the first few months," Falk says, "The Phantom was intended to be Jimmy Wells, a wealthy playboy who fought crime by night in a mask and costume. I never came out and actually revealed that the playboy was really The Phantom, and in the midst of the first story I suddenly got the other idea. I moved The Phantom into the jungle and decided to keep him there.”

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Lee Falk entered the Office of War Information and became chief of his radio foreign language division.
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CAPTAIN ACTION as STEVE CANYON!
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.STEVE CANYON

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Steve Canyon comic strip, 1947

SECRET ORIGIN: Steve Canyon was the owner of "Horizons Unlimited," a small aviation firm that specialized in dangerous assignments. Canyon and his fellow pilots went anywhere in the world in search of exciting adventures.

REAL ORIGIN: Canyon creator Milton Caniff (19??-1988) could no longer afford to work on "Terry and the Pirates," a strip he had created, but one that was owned by the syndicate which distributed it. As a result, Caniff left Terry & the Pirates to start a new strip to be owned himself -- Steve Canyon.

FUN FACT: Because of the success of "Terry and the Pirates," Caniff was able to sell his new "Canyon" strip to newspaper editors before they even saw samples of it.

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: During the Vietnam Era, Caniff misjudged the depth of the country's anti-war sentiment. He eventually got Canyon out of uniform, but it was too late. For the first time in his career, Canyon had begun losing papers.
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STEVE CANYON #1 (FEB 1948) STEVE CANYON #2 (APRIL 1948) STEVE CANYON #3 (JUNE 1948)

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STEVE CANYON (1956) STEVE CANYON (1956) STEVE CANYON (1956)


CAPTAIN ACTION as FLASH GORDON!
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.FLASH GORDON

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Flash Gordon comic strip, Jan. 7, 1934

SECRET ORIGIN: Scientist Dr. Hans Zarkov invents a rocket ship in which Zarkov, Dale Arden and Flash Gordon make a journey to the planet Mongo, where they are stranded. Mongo is inhabited by a number of different cultures that have been falling under the domination of vicious tyrant Ming the Merciless.

REAL ORIGIN: Late in 1933, Alex Raymond was given the assignment of creating a science fiction comic strip to compete with Buck Rogers. Together with writer Don Moore, Raymond created "Flash Gordon."

FUN FACT: Larry "Buster" Crabbe, the actor who portrayed Flash Gordon in the 1940 movie serial, also played Flash's inspiration, Buck Rogers, in another serial!

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: Although Flash Gordon is basically a Buck Rogers knock-off, in Captain-Action-Land, Flash came first, and Buck came afterwards!


BELOW: "Flash Gordon" comic strip by Alex Raymond
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"Flash Gordon Conquerors The Universe" (1940)

CAPTAIN ACTION as THE LONE RANGER!
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.The LONE RANGER

FIRST APPEARANCE:
The first of 2,956 episodes of "The Lone Ranger" aired on January 30, 1933 on WXYZ-AM radio in Detroit, Michigan.

SECRET ORIGIN: John Reid, one of six Texas Rangers, was the sole survivor of an ambush. Reid was nursed back to health by an Indian scout called Tonto, who told him "You only Ranger left. You lone ranger now." With his white hat, black mask and horse called Silver, the Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, set out to clean up the west.

REAL ORIGIN: The Lone Ranger began as a radio series on Detroit's WXYZ in 1933, where it was created by the stations owner George W. Trendle, producer James Jewell and writer Fran Striker. The show's main character was patterned after the hero of "The Lone Star Ranger," a western novel by Zane Grey.

FUN FACT: "Kemosabe" is a real word, from the language of the Potowatomie Indians. One of the shows' producers, Jim Jewell, had a father-in-law who ran a boy's camp named "Camp Kee-mo-sah-bee." Kemosabe means "faithful friend" or "trusty scout."

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: "Tonto" is also a Potowatomie word. At the camp, one of the Indians liked to get drunk after the children went to sleep. When he got rowdy, the other Indians would call him "tonto." This meant "wild one." Jewell remembered the word, liked it, and gave the name to the Lone Ranger's Indian companion.

ABOVE RIGHT: The radio Lone Ranger; BELOW: The comic book Lone Ranger.
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LONE RANGER LONE RANGER LONE RANGER

AD: CAPTAIN ACTION with FREE PARACHUTE!
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CAPTAIN ACTION COSTUME!
Boo! Below is the Captain Action Halloween costume, by Ben Cooper! What's more disturbing -- the freakish eyeless Cap staring out from behind the cellophane window of his cardboard prison, or the fact that the box shows pictures of Batman, Superman, Mary Poppins, and... THE SPECTRE? Hmmmm. Funtastic!?!?

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TOMORROW: The "Amazing Nine-In-One Superhero" had four more identities! Following the initial release of the first group of NINE identities, Ideal issued a second wave of outfits for Cap, featuring four additional characters which Cap could become. They also gave him a kid sidekick! Be here tomorrow for the real scoop behind Cap's latter-day personas, and thrill as Captain Action meets... Action Boy!


CLICK HERE FOR PART FOUR!
SECRET ORIGINS OF CAPTAIN ACTION PART FOUR
SPIDER-MAN! • GREEN HORNET! • TONTO! • BUCK ROGERS! • ACTION BOY!


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