Monday, March 7, 2016

Logan’s Run Annual Review and *SPOILERS* - Just For the Hell Of It Mondays

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Comic Book Collectors

Written By: Uncredited
Art By: David Lloyd
Published By: Brown Watson
Cover Price: £1.50
Year Published: 1979

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Welcome back to Logan’s Run February where we examine a different adaptation of…wait a second. It’s not February any more. It’s March. I was supposed to be finished by March! And yet, while working on this series for Just For the Hell of It Mondays and consuming way too many versions of the science fiction novel, I uncovered yet another adaptation of Logan’s Run—this time, a comic strip based on the television version! So let’s get it straight: the novel begat a direct comic book adaptation (more than twenty years later) and the movie, which begat a comic book adaptation and a television show, which begat its own comic strip adaptation. It’s like Logan’s Run is the All In the Family of science fiction! I feel I would be derelict in my duties not to address this UK-based variant, as shown in the Brown Watson published Logan’s Run Annual. But really, I will be exposing my soul and admitting my own self-destructive, obsessive compulsive qualities that make me an unbearable social leper as well as a burden to everyone around me. You can start the fun if you simply read on!

Explain It!:

I saw the film Logan’s Run for the first time about fifteen years ago. Christmas was rolling around and, as usual, I’d put off shopping to the last possible minute. My girlfriend at the time liked science fiction, so I got three or four moderately-priced DVDs; one of them was Logan’s Run. I have no idea what made me want to get it, perhaps I’d caught bits of it as a Saturday afternoon televised movie during childhood, or maybe I’d had a conversation with someone about it and was curious. It may be telling that I don’t recall anything about the other DVDs I purchased, except that there were others. I was immediately enthralled by Logan’s Run.
That old story again?
To be sure, I don’t like MGM Studios’ Logan’s Run because I think it is a masterpiece of cinema. It is an overblown bit of high-minded rhetoric handled with the subtlety of a brick in the face. It is an expression of greedy 1970s hedonism and an increasingly youth-obsessed culture without any of the inherent downsides. Sure, you have to die at age thirty, but before then you can fuck beautiful women and inhale powderized drugs to your heart’s content. It is, in many ways, an insipid and stupid movie—and these are the reasons I like it. It’s a time capsule, a last gasp of an established Hollywood studio system that would be taken down several pegs by movies like The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and Star Wars in successive years. (The Hollywood system would come back with a vengeance later on, but that’s a story for another day.) My point is that, employing hindsight, we can perceive Logan’s Run as a small, radioactive jewel in the palm of your hand, glowing a bright green for a short time until it decays to a deep red, then blinkers briefly until turning a deathly black. For half a summer in 1976, it captured imaginations.
"People of the Old World called those 'fish tanks.' And that must be a fish."
I looked into Logan’s Run and discovered that a Marvel comic book adaptation of the movie existed, and then that a television series based on the movie also existed. I consumed these with delight and chuckled to myself about the silliness of it all. I eventually got around to reading the novel that began it all and chortled at that as well. I was above it, you see, somehow looking down on this stupid fever dream of a story from a lofty perch where having your original work adapted into three other forms of media is a bad thing. The Logan’s Run movie continues to be a favorite of mine to this day, indeed I watch it with some regularity. It was after one of these routine viewings that I decided to look up Logan’s Run on the internet, again, after years of not doing so. And then I discovered the Adventure Comics adaptation of the novel.

"What's even stranger is that this was Los Angeles' Koreatown before the Big War."
I nearly giggled myself sick with smug glee over the fact that this ludicrous story which contained people being stalked by a jungle cat in post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. had been adapted four times—and this black and white comic book version was the only one that remained completely true to the actual novel! I snapped up the whole series (it was not very expensive, I assure you) and when I saw they were drawn and plotted by the well-respected underground comics creator Barry Blair, I was so tickled. It was like a dream come true, that Logan’s Run could have come full circle in this way, drawn by an artist known for cartoonish fantasy art of young people in compromising positions who was a stalwart vanguard of independent comics as well. For weren’t many of the independent comics in the chaotic direct comics market of the 1980s heirs to pulp pop novel mills of the 1950s and 60s? There was merit in examining the original work and its derivatives, I was sure of it, and all I needed was a month with five Mondays so I could exploit this site’s Just For the Hell Of It Mondays series for my dubious purposes. I found that month in February of this year.
I think the elevator is out.
Always put the girl towards the spider.
I prepared by re-reading the novel, re-watching the movie, re-reading the comic book adaptations and re-watching the television series. A lot of hours went into making this material fresh in my mind for writing an ambitious and pointless series of articles. As I re-absorbed this stuff, I looked up pertinent info from time to time, and found many Logan’s Run resources that fairly well deem my little February-long venture irrelevant. It was on one of those sites I discovered something I must have overlooked, since it is included on the Wikipedia page: another adaptation of Logan’s Run, this time a comic strip based on the television show! It ran in UK celebrity rag Look-In for a couple of issues, and publisher Brown Watson issued a Logan’s Run Annual hardbound book, in keeping with other television and movie “Annuals” produced by the publisher that compiled celebrity interviews, publicity stills, and other filler material; this is the book, that I have yet to review, which is the subject of this article. And that’s when it dawned on me that I might have a problem.
Uh, I might need to take a look at those Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man picture strips.
When you come to reviewing the comic strip continuation of a television program based on a movie that was adapted from a novel, you are no longer applying a sane, outsider's critique. I had fallen so far down the rabbit hole that all semblance of balanced opinion was left topside with daylight and fresh air. On the inside cover to Adventure Comics’ Logan’s Run #1, co-author of the original novel William F. Nolan writes, in part:

This comic book you hold in your hands is the beginning of the Logan saga, and along with all of you, I’ll be looking forward to these boldly-illustrated, dramatized adventures of a character who simply refuses to die.
Run on, Logan, run on!

Reading the entire introduction in context definitely gives the impression that Nolan was genuinely pleased to see his novel spun into so many formats. But after embarking on this project, I’m not so sure the author was thrilled about it. The character Logan-3, who became Logan-5 for unknown reasons, truly seems to refuse to die, even after decades have passed and our memories of adaptations past have faded to nothing. Blue Water Comics put out continuations of Logan’s story as recently as 2012. A remake of the MGM film has been bandied about Hollywood for almost thirty years now, with Warner Bros. hiring someone to write a new story treatment last Summer. Logan keeps running, and the more you look into Logan’s Run and its legacy, the more you find—I could very easily read the two sequel novels in the Logan’s trilogy, and their derivatives: a prequel book written by William F. Nolan and an immeasurable amount of fan fiction dedicated to the world he helped to create. There are songs inspired by the film, interpretations of the movie soundtrack, fan films, and even an alternative-reality game called City of Domes created in 2005. It’s like a fractal pattern that reveals more of its intricacy the closer you look. I’m sure I could spend the next ten years of my life researching Logan’s Run and its derivatives. And neither myself nor the world would be richer for it.
"Aw man and I just took a massive dump in this guy's bathroom!"
And this is just Logan’s Run—a property that has, to my knowledge, no cartoon adaptation, no extensive toy set, no Christmas specials or made-for-television movies (excepting perhaps the pilot episode of the TV show). Provided my consumption of the material can outpace any current production, which is slow to nil, I can eventually see and hear and feel everything Logan’s Run in a finite amount of time. What about properties like the Transformers, or Star Wars, or Batman? You could spend an entire lifetime just trying to acquire and read every comic book featuring Batman, and still never be done. And you would have glossed over the movie serials, the television show, several feature films and cartoons—it would take a robust research staff a hundred years to really digest every morsel of Bruce Wayne’s tragic transformation into a flying mammal of the night. And they still might fall short.
Even "Roombas" would be acceptable.
The stories presented in Logan’s Run Annual are okay, facile versions of the same telegraphed twists you would find watching the television show. The most compelling thing about the strips and illustrated stories is that they are quite capably drawn by David Lloyd, who would gain more notoriety a few years later drawing a little serial comic called V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore. But other than that: Logan, Jessica and Rem encounter samurais, they encounter monsters. They come upon a deserted domed city that is populated by nocturnal cannibals. Always getting away from dire scrapes, always pursued by the relentless Sandman Francis. There are interviews with Gregory Harrison and Heather Menzies, a couple of terrible mazes and long-winded articles about the science-fiction lineage of the Logan’s Run television show and the future of robotics. It’s all very cute and quaint, and if you’ve come this far along in your Logan’s Run investigation, then you’ll probably like it a lot. But you would never pick this up on a whim, and since you’re already versed in other adaptations of the original work, then you are getting only what you’ve come to expect of this debatable franchise. For my part, I am done. I could look into Logan’s Run for the next several years, but it would be a waste of my time. Better I spend that time looking into the inspirational sources and cultural antecedents of Thundarr the Barbarian.

Bits and Pieces:

When you come to this point, and you’re critiquing the licensed comic version of a licensed television adaptation of a licensed movie conversion based on a science fiction novel, you can no longer claim to use populist ideas of art as a baseline. You opened this trap, you walked inside, and if what you find doesn’t conform to standard set by the great works of James Joyce or Rembrandt, well you have none to blame but yourself. For what it is, this comic adaptation of the Logan’s Run television show is of high quality, drawn by the venerable David Lloyd and written by…who the hell cares? It’s more of that Logan’s Run dope I’ve come to need, just chasing the thrill of more and more reworkings of George Clayton Johnson and William F. Nolan’s pulp novel. Whaddoya got? A rap album based on the Marvel comic series? Lemme have it. I need the solo adventures of Rem as compiled by a respected fanfic website. Whatever you have, that Logan’s Run/Peanuts comic strip mashup too. I don’t care. I’m just feeding my habit. I’m a piece of shit.


No comments:

Post a Comment