Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett looks at the current animation landscape, and adds another to his ongoing list of Marvel characters Disney should know it owns.

Without explanation Cartoon Network has benched Batman: The Brave and the Bold for the remainder of the February ratings sweeps period; maybe they felt new episodes would get steamrollered by the Olympics (though cartoons seem like perfect counterprogramming to me, but what do I know?).  I imagine like so many of their moves it falls squarely into the category of "it's none of your business" and we should consider ourselves lucky they even deigned to send out the announcement to the usual suspect websites.  But instead I'll suggest that especially now that they're expanding their Adult Swim block into prime time they really could do a better job of communicating with the people who love their cartoons.

I'm just saying some kind of informal update on the status of some of the upcoming programs based on comics (Firebreather, Mice Templar, Necessary Evil, The Vanishers etc.) wouldn't be out of order.  I'd especially like to know if they've set premiere dates for two shows they announced during last year's network Upfront, Samurai Jack animator Genndy Tartakovsky's Sym-Biotic Titan and Generator Rex (based on the comic M. Rex by Joe Kelly and Duncan Rouleau).

Because sometimes announced programs don't make it onto the network's schedule for some reason; like how during the Upfront of 7/08 they said they were working on thirteen episodes of Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata based on the legend of Mexican luchidore El Santo.  Either it was never made or it's being sold across the globe in piecemeal manner (see my 2/28/2008 column, "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Whatever Happened to Fatdog Mendoza?") and just hasn't been shown in North America yet.

Last week I focused on examples of the good job Brave and the Bold did making minor changes to improve DC characters (Challengers of the Unknown, Firestorm) but it also knows when it's best to leave them as is.  The perfect example of that is the Metal Men in the episode "Clash of the Metal Men" which comes as close as possible to reproducing the feel of the comics from the 60's without ever seeming "retro"-- they even managed to let Doc Magnus keep his pipe!  Sure, I'd like an explanation why his first name was given as "Milton" when we all know it's Will and I missed the team's signature flying sauce and snappy science facts (i.e. "I'm Mercury!  The only metal that liquid at room temperature!").  But otherwise it served as a perfect pilot for a series of their own.

In case you missed it Syfy is getting into the kid's television business, going after that same 2-17 year old demographic both Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon are also desperately chasing.  I'd like to think the result of all of this competition will be more and better cartoons but given how the press release focuses on "multi-platforms", "content" and "labels" it's pretty clear this is all about "branding."  Though interesting enough, since they're no longer showing Doctor Who, Syfy's first would global franchise is Doctor What, a "mystery-adventure" starring the "thrill-seeking" J. Howard What.

During the 90's Stan Lee seemed to make a career out of announcing a variety of high concept superhero related cartoon shows that never seemed to go anywhere, even when they had such celebrities connected to them as Ringo Starr and Hugh Hefner's Super Bunnies which was about, well, it's pretty obvious what that one was about.  So it's kind of nice seeing one of those projects, Super Seven, finally made it into production, though it is kind of odd seeing Archie handling the comic book part of this new multi-media brand considering they just divested themselves of their own superheroes.  But we could always use another superhero comic book geared towards a younger readership, especially one written by Tom DeFalco.

And this week I don't have one Marvel character that Disney should know they own but two, the comedy team of Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal.  Created by cartoonist Al Jaffee better known for his later work at Mad Magazine their partnership was more fluid that the traditional conman/mark paradigm, seeing as how both of them were pretty dopey.  Though standard the stories had plenty of well staged visual gags and the sort of energy you'd find in the Fleisher Brothers Studio cartoons, which is understandable seeing as how Vincent Fago, one of their assistant animators, drew some of them.

Usually cartoon comedy teams are chosen along natural enemy lines, cat and mouse, cat and bird, cat and dog, etc., which really doesn't explain what they were thinking when they paired a pig with a seal (especially one who was usually drawn as an ill-defined white blob).  But they worked well together and I just hope they get the chance to work again.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely  those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of