Today’s adolescent bearing will never apperceive a time aeon in which Captain America, Hulk and Spider-Man weren’t big awning icons with accompanying cartoons, activity figures, and video games. However in the aboriginal 1970s, these and added archetypal banana book characters came to activity alfresco of their pop art average alone through a alternation of analog vinyl releases. Unleashed by Power Records, the active awning artwork promised “The activity comes animate as you read!!” These 7″ and 12″ annal would sometimes be accompanied by a banana book, while added times kids would artlessly accept to use their imaginations. The band would after become affluent sample sources for anybody from Cut Chemist to Eminem to the Geto Boys.
The adventure begins in the backward 1920s, aback Daniel Kasen founded the Synthetic Plastics Company, which initially supplied the apparel industry. Over time, SPC broadcast into poker chips, dice and added molded products. According to the official history on their website: “Following Apple War II, Kasen apparent that his presses could be acclimatized to accomplish phonograph records. With this as inspiration, he and his brother, Louis Kasen, founded Peter Pan Records, which eventually became the bigger architect of children’s annal in the U.S.”
Billboard annual appear that Peter Pan Annal appear their aboriginal “seven-inch vinylite” on 25 March 1948 for 25 cents additional tax. These ten-inch, 78 RPM singles were a admixture of children’s songs and anecdotal “musical stories,” and were heralded as “Non-Breakable (With Normal Use)” on the label. By the aboriginal 70s, Peter Pan had alien their “Book and Record” alternation and began licensing accepted characters such as Bugs Bunny, The Flintstones and G.I. Joe. Sometimes these recordings would alike affection the aboriginal articulation casting from the television shows, as anybody from Mel Blanc to Casey Kasem has a Peter Pan Annal acclaim to their name.
As Daniel’s son Donald Kasen told beneficiary Barry Sandoval for the February 6 copy of the Heritage Auctions newsletter: “We were absolutely the aboriginal aggregation to do books and recordings of accountant characters. We started out with King Features: Popeye, Betty Boop, and again we went on to some of the archetypal characters, the Peter Pans if you will — Snow White, Cinderella, the Gingerbread Man, etc. Again we started licensing added children’s characters: Scooby Doo, Flintstones, etc. Because I assumption superheroes were hot, we got into some of them, and we aloof kept going. Spider-Man was the best popular, because we did added than one book.”
Power Annal was an adjunct of Peter Pan Annal that focused on the added adventuresome properties, such monsters, superheroes, and Star Trek.
“I had several of them,” recollects rapper Esoteric, who joins Wu-Tang’s Inspectah Deck and DJ 7L to anatomy Czarface, a accumulation that drew afflatus from these banana books and records. “From Captain America vs. Red Skull, to Batman, to the Fantastic Four, on to the Star Trek ones. They’ve all fabricated attenuate appearances throughout my music career, whether it be the dialogue, acid at alive shows, complete effects, or alike the art. They’ve followed me my accomplished life — that characterization is decrepit on my brain.”
Rob Kelly, who describes himself as a “writer, illustrator and comics historian,” has run a assemblage of altered comic-related blogs aback 2007, including one committed to the Power Annal banana and almanac sets. “I had them as a kid — the superhero ones, the Star Trek, appealing abundant all of them,” recalls Rob. “I never absolutely balloon about them — they array of fell out of favor. I’ve been account comics aback afore I can remember, and my parents aloof bought them because they were like the banana books. My parents had a allowance area the almanac amateur was and I bethink aloof laying in there and arena those annal over and over. The Captain America one I bethink actual distinctly.
“Years after it dawned on me that there wasn’t a lot of fan being about them on the internet. The actuality that you can’t get them anywhere added than on vinyl, I was like, ‘Let me alpha this blog and see if there are added bodies out there who like ‘em like I do.’ It’s a tiny little alcove thing, but bodies bethink them actual fondly. I’m consistently accepting emails saying, ‘Thank-you for this blog. I had them and now I’m arena them for my son.’ I feel like I’m accomplishing a accessible service.”
Initially adapting absolute banana book stories, Power Annal anon started to aftermath aboriginal banana books to accompany the recorded performances, and activated the talents of allegorical banana artisan Neal Adams’ new absolute flat which he’d formed with Dick Giodarno — Continuity Associates. “It seems as admitting for Marvel they acclimatized the belief that were already done in the comics and for D.C. they mostly created their own. Appealing abundant all the Superman’s and the Batman’s were original. Either Power Annal fabricated them themselves or they assassin Neal Adams and his Continuity Associates flat to do a lot of the stuff,” enthuses Rob. “So those DC ones attending appealing abundant absolutely like DC comics of the time, because they were done by the aforementioned sorta personnel.”
“It happened from — I think — Conan,” connected Donald. “I absolutely went to Neal’s flat and met Neal, and acclimated to activity with him in a nice way. Banter is apparently a bigger chat than fight. We bantered aback and forth, and he was absolutely a character. I was a kid, and I didn’t apperceive anything. I didn’t apperceive who Neal Adams was, he was aloof addition artist! It was affectionate of funny. I admired his work… who didn’t? The guy’s a absolutely accomplished artist.”
“At that time I didn’t booty agenda of who drew them,” addendum Esoteric. “I aloof accepted the characters and how the colors popped — I was aloof a kid. The covers were aloof as impactful as the sounds in best cases, and [are] bound abroad in a blessed abode in my brain. In retrospect, the art Adams contributed is a absolute air-conditioned bend of his allegorical career.”
Many approaching hip-hop recording artists were additionally admirers of the Power Annal discography, whether they’d enjoyed them aback they were kids or aloof stumbled aloft them on crate digging missions. Prince Paul was the aboriginal ambassador to accommodate some of the Power Annal abracadabra over a exhausted aback he activated the 1974 absolution The Amazing Spider-Man: Bells of Doom!► for Stetsasonic’s 1988 anthology cut “Musically For The Stetfully Insane”► — an aboriginal blink into the apperception of an aberrant agreeable ability who would after accord us De La Soul, The Gravediggaz and Handsome Boy Modelling School. It was additionally sampled for MF Doom’s “Bells of Doom,” naturally.►
Prince Paul additionally acclimatized the ‘Read-Along-Storybook’ architecture for the De La Soul Is Dead album, which featured a banana band that prompted you to about-face the folio aback you heard an audio cue on the record. In 1994, Marvel enlisted KRS-One to almanac three songs as Big Joe Krash for their Break The Chain comic, which alien with a cassette soundtracking the pictures (perhaps due to its sticker amount of $6.99, sales weren’t able abundant to accreditation a additional issue).
The best memorable use of a Power Annal sample on a rap almanac is absolutely on “Watch Out Now”► by The Beatnuts, who affective a atom from Wonder Woman: The Secret of the Abracadabra Tiara► to actualize an angrily addictive hook. “I was never a fan of the comics and all that shit,” says Psycho Les aback asked about the connection. “I sit at home and I aloof accept to annal from alpha to end and acquisition little words that could be hooks. That’s what I do. My beats consistently got little [snippets of] talkin’ on them.” The Geto Boys additionally fabricated abundant use of a Power Annal sample aback they affective a atom of Batman: Stacked Cards► for 1989’s “Mind of A Lunatic.”► “These bodies are about my age,” comments Rob. “So these guys acutely grew up with them too and they bethink them appealing fondly! A Conan sample in the average of an Eminem record? That’s the craziest affair I anytime heard!”
Eminem has in actuality fabricated it a addiction sampling from the Power Annal catalog, borrowing $.25 for his songs “Groundhog Day,”► Slaughterhouse’s “Get Up”► and best conspicuously “Rap God.”► Each cull assorted samples from two primary sources, The Fantastic Four: The Way It Began and Captain America and the Falcon: And the Phoenix Shall Arise. One can assumption that these two accurate releases afflicted his childhood.
“Spider-Man: Invasion of the Dragon-Men is apparently one of my favorites for two reasons,” offers Esoteric. “After audition it on vinyl way back, my ancestor had me apprehend the book on a band recorder aback I was aloof acquirements to read. It’s my son’s admired too. I’ve adapted best of these Power releases to MP3 and we accept to them on alley trips, they authority his absorption appealing able-bodied and makes him ask questions and aggrandize his imagination, and additionally accumulate me on my toes for inspiration. As abounding times as I’ve heard them, you never apperceive aback a assertive allotment of chat is activity to amalgamation to what you’re accomplishing now musically.”
“I anticipate their best one in agreement of affection is the Conan record,” suggests Rob. “They did a Conan The Barbarian LP with four belief on it, and there’s one area Conan meets some awful oogly monster, and to me it’s absolutely frightening. It’s abundant added acute than article you apprehend for a children’s record. The guy that plays Conan sounds absolutely like I would account Conan to complete like.”
When asked why the Power Annal banana and almanac packs eventually fell out of favor, Rob offers the following: “There was a aggregation alleged Mego Toys which had all the licenses that Power Annal had, except they fabricated activity figures. Like Power Records, they did not aces up Star Wars. Both companies got into the licensing affair in the aboriginal 70s, had big hits with all of these sci-fi properties, both of them skipped on Star Wars and both of them went out of business about ‘81, ‘82. They accept a actual alongside existence.”
Donald Kasen declared that he’s “In the action of cataloging all my stuff: 25,000 recordings and the books with the recordings, activity aback to the 1930s, accepting them and digitizing them. In today’s apple it’s converting to CDs, MP3s, and adaptable apps.” There are additionally the abiding complications of Marvel and D.C. Comics licensing issues. “Part of the fun of Power Annal was they had all the characters alloyed in,” concludes Rob. “On the central flaps of all the annal they had the Planet of the Apes characters continuing aing to Superman, and that will never appear again! I’m abashed that cipher at D.C. or Marvel has dug them out and put them out on iTunes. It’s a authorization to book money.”
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