Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Be Kind To Animals Week: Krypto

This week is Be Kind To Animals Week, originally created by the Humane Society, but supported by all sorts of other wonderful organizations. Please consider visiting the site of another wonderful organization, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals (ASPCA) and helping them out. After all, we ARE their voice.

To help celebrate Be Kind To Animals Week here at FoJ, today I would like to talk about my favorite super-hero pet. In the last few years there have been plenty of wonderful story-books starring the DC Super-Pets. They were written by such authors as J.E. Bright and Sarah Hines Stephens, and all were illustrated by the wonderful Art Baltazar (who I have had the pleasure of meeting three times. Really really nice guy). Although I *do* have a soft-spot for Aquaman's "pets" Topo the Octopus, Ark the Seat, and Storm & Imp the Sea-Horses, the greatest super-pet is, without doubt, Krypto the Super-Dog.
Krypto's debut in 1955
Krypto's origin is somewhat stupid, but it IS plausible. In the earliest days at NASA, before men were actually blasted off into space, dogs and monkeys were used in their place. These initial guinea pigs (you knew I was going to say it) were America's first astronauts. DC editors at the time knew about these flights and used them to craft two stories. One, in ADVENTURE COMICS 210 (March 1955) explained that Superman's father Jor-El was anxious to launch a rocket off of Krypton to save his family. In order to guarantee success, the desperate father took his son's puppy as a practice astronaut. Unfortunately for Jor-El, the rocket was hit by a meteor or something and went out of orbit. Several years later, it made its way to Earth and found its original owner, Kal-El/Clark Kent.
(The other story was that of Beppo the Super-Monkey, who had a similar origin but was nowhere near as interesting a character as Krypto. I mean, come on....every boy has or wants a dog. Who wants a monkey, who is just as likely to save a bus-load of kids as he is to toss poo at you?)

From the 1966 SUPERBOY cartoon
Krypto was a sensation. He and Superboy made a great team, and was one of the specific character traits that set SuperBOY apart from SuperMAN. In fact, in the 1966 SUPERBOY cartoons that were part of the Superman-Aquaman Adventure Hour, Krypto was a full-fledged co-star. In 2005, CARTOON NETWORK gave him his own show for a year.
Even mainstream public will recognize him if you say his name. And for that name recognition alone, Krypto IS a Super Dog.

Today is comic book artist Ty Templeton's birthday. Best known as one of the major BATMAN: ANIMATED SERIES artists, he has also worked on THE AVENGERS, SUPERBOY, JUSTICE LEAGUE, THE SIMPSONS, and many, many others. His blog Ty Templeton's Art Land features his take on various comic-book and pop culture issues, hosted by his own creation "BUN." He is based in Canada (Toronto, I believe) so it's unlikely that I will ever meet him, so here is my most sincere Happy Birthday wishes to him! Happy Birthday, Ty Templeton!

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