Dinner on ME

Once upon a time in 1994, at the Javits Center in New York City, back when the
World-Wide Web was but in its early days and videocassettes were the primary medium of personal viewing, I was lamenting a lack of access to the Hall of Justice.

Cartoon of Mark Evanier typing away at keyboard

I’d been active in the AOL chat rooms devoted to comics for a short while prior. Some acquaintances made there — as well as folks I knew in person from working at Fat Jack’s Comicrypt in Philadelphia and a couple of fellow contributors to the venerable amateur press association CAPA-Alpha — were trying to get me to join what they described as the more sophisticated Comics/Animation Forum on CompuServe. And so, during a comics convention being held at the aforementioned Javits, I tagged along to an informal Forum dinner during the convention with them.

The dinner was presided over by Mark Evanier [ev-uh-neer]. I would joke that Mark has forgotten more about comics and show-biz history than most people remember, but I’m not convinced that he forgets anything. If you have an interest in behind-the-scenes tales about Vegas, Broadway, or Hollywood — particularly the Golden Age of TV sitcoms, variety shows, talk shows, and voice-over work — you should be following his own blog: News from ME.

While there was lots of small talk as well as roundtable discussion among the twenty
or so of us, it’s fair to say that Mark was holding court. Occasionally he would throw a question down to a quiet fellow in black with dark, tousled hair and glasses at the opposite end of the table who, all present were surprised and delighted to discover, was Paul Dini, a key contributor to Batman: The Animated Series. I recall Dini apologizing to a kid at dinner — the son of one of the CompuServe gang, I think, but I’m not quite sure who attended (beyond the few folks I knew from elsewhere) because I didn’t actually join the Forum until a bit later and never thought to match names to the memories of the night — for not being able to add the Caped Crusader to a sketchbook placed in front of him. He was professionally a writer and not artist, Dini explained, possessed of some drawing ability but unable to do a Batman worth beans. You have to think that, in the long run, an original Paul Dini Mickey Mouse is a rarer and more interesting conversation piece anyhow.

Upon the check’s arrival, there was a communal reaching for wallets as expected and Mark waved us off. “You are all my guests,” he said. It was neither a smug proclamation nor falsely modest. I don’t remember the exact words that followed, but amidst the protests and thanks he added, essentially, Look, I can afford to do this and it thrills me. I’m gonna be writing it off as a business dinner, though. So you need to throw some more questions my way, and I need to throw some more back at you for market research, before we break up for the evening.

That’s when I piped up to ask why none of the various Super Friends series had been released on home video. Maybe it was because there were licensing entanglements between DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera Productions, Evanier said. At that point, Hanna-Barbera had been bought by Turner Broadcasting but Turner hadn’t yet merged with DC’s parent company Time-Warner Entertainment. More likely, however, it was because there was just no evident widespread demand for them, or the property would have been exploited, pure and simple.

Fifteen years later, I’m happy to report, the first of a pair of two-disc sets collecting
the original season of Super Friends has been announced to go along with the later, previously released All-New Super Friends Hour and Challenge of the SuperFriends incarnations and, most recently, the Lost Episodes set. Which is what prompted this post and the one to be published tomorrow.

Sergio Aragon├ęs header art for Mark Evanier’s website © 2013* Evanier and/or Aragon├ęs.
(*Blam forgot to grab it back when this post went up)

Related: Activated Rounds of the Night Table The ’Vision Thing

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