Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Jim Shooter's 1979 Dazzler Cartoon Treatment
Jim Shooter quietly released a bombshell on his blog this week. [I’ve got to hand it to Shooter, most comicbook writers, and artists have thus far been giving their personal papers to Universities where they unfortunately will probably only even be seen by a few people a year. Stan Lee’s papers are at the University of Wyoming, hardly a heavily visited area. Or worse, their papers are slowly mildewing in their garages or attics. I’ve long envisioned all of their papers in one Archive, run by me of course, but that’s just a personal fantasy.] Anyway, Shooter is sharing his stories and his archives through his blog. You should check it out!
A recent post told the story of his treatment for a Dazzler animated television Special and included the treatment as a pdf. It is well known that the Disco Dazzler (as she was originally called when disco was still “cool” in the late 70’s) was created with the intention of piggy-backing the character with a real life singer who would have a recording career as the Dazzler. Anyway, this treatment that fortunately never saw the light of day was chock full of celebrity voices: Cher, Donna Summers, KISS, The Village People, Rodney Dangerfield, Robin Williams, and Lenny and Squiggy.
The Dazzler was going to be voiced by Bo Derek. If you look at the issue of People magazine Shooter put on his blog you can see Derek's boyfriend is holding a stack of Marvel comics. Derek was studying up.
However, someone else would have done the singing, so why not just cast the singer as the voice too? Hollywood is so baffling; didn’t this cartoon already have enough marquee names?
The Dazzler is performing at a concert at the beginning of the cartoon, but other than that there are no musical numbers in Shooter’s treatment. But, considering it was meant to launch the Dazzler’s real life counterpart’s music career and was full of popular musical artist’s voices, I’m sure the first draft of the script would have been full of musical interludes.
Shooter didn’t write any jokes for Williams, Dangerfield or Lenny and Squiggy, but he did point out that Lenny and Squiggy’s jokes would not be funny until the end of the cartoon when the two characters would meet for the first time. Just what every special needs, characters who are constantly unfunny on purpose!
The cartoon was going to feature Marvel characters so people would know the Dazzler was from the Marvel Universe. The characters were Spider-man and a collection of random Avengers (Iron Man, Beast, Scarlet Witch, the Wasp and the Falcon).
The descriptions for the Avengers Shooter wrote into the treatment were written for someone who’d never seen a Marvel comic and were hilarious. Spider-man didn’t need to be introduced.
Iron Man- Secretly inventor Anthony Stark, who clad in solar-powered circuitized armor of his own design, is an invincible modern knight.
The Falcon- Whose rocket-powered wings give him the power of independent flight. He is actually Sam Wilson, a black teacher from Harlem.
The Scarlet Witch- Born Wanda Frank, she is a mutant, who with a gesture can cause disasters to occur. She is Eastern European, and has a rather formal bearing.
The Beast- Also a mutant, Hank McCoy is furry and bestial in powers and appearance, but extremely intelligent and erudite. He’s crazy.
The Wasp- Jan Van Dyne Pym was given a serum by her scientist-husband that enables her to shrink to insect size and sprout wings. She is an heiress, and very much a lovable scatterbrain.
Did I mention that nearly every character from Cher to Donna Summer, to KISS and The Village People were all going to have super powers of their own?
I don’t blame Casablanca Records for saying this treatment read more like a feature animated film because it was really ambitious, but in Shooter's defense he was only trying to use all the celebrity voice actors he’d been told to use. Given the enormous number of characters he was told to include in a half-hour show, I thought he did a decent job. But I am still very happy that soon after Shooter wrote this things changed at Casablanca Records and the Dazzler project died.
And the world had no idea the bullet it dodged until now. Mr. Shooter I don’t know if I want to thank you for releasing this or whether I wish you’d burned it. If you released it as a way of asking for forgiveness for this sin, I want you to know that I absolve and forgive you.
[The Spiderman and Dazzler drawing is by Tom Beland.]