Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Transogram: Where the Fun Comes From!

Here's a Henry Boltinoff "Billy" half-page gag strip from DC:

"Billy" strip from Batman #203 (August 1968), script, pencils, inks, and letters by Henry Boltinoff

Say, that's a pretty cool pseudo-Ouija game Billy's got there. Mighty clever for a fictional game created for a comic strip. it?!?

No, it's not. Ka-Bala is real...

...not only real, but it's the subject of its own comic book ad!

"Ka-Bala" ad from Mighty Samson #13 (Dell, February 1968), scripter and artist unknown

I like to think that Transogram Toys, the company that made Ka-Bala, compensated Henry Boltinoff with large amounts of cash (which he then stored in a safe he made using a tip from one of his "Cap's Hobby Hints." But probably he got paid $10 under work-for-hire. DARN YOU, WORK FOR HIRE!

Ka-Bala was not Transogram's only board game with a connection to comic books. Here's the "Silly Sidney" game:

...based on the Gene Deitch animated cartoons for Terrytoons (this Sidney cartoons was nominated for an Academy Award):

Sidney's Family Tree (Terrytoons, 1958), directed by Art Bartsch, produced by Gene Deitch and Bill Weiss

Sidney also starred in New Terrytoons and Tom Terrific comic books.

Cover of New Terrytoons #2 (January 1963), pencils and inks by Fred Fredericks

Page from Silly Sidney story in New Terrytoons #1 (June-August 1960), scripter and artist unknown

Here's more about Sidney on the always-incredible Don Markstein's Toonopedia. There's another Transogram game I have great fondness for, as I played it when I was just a tiny stuffed bull: Green Ghost!!

Green Ghost was a three-dimensional, glow-in-the-dark boardgame (we'd sit in the closet and play it!) You'd spin the glowing ghost (which would make a terrible and spooky racket as it twirled), then move around the glowing board to collect keys. The keys would unlock the three crypts on the board: reach in and collect a little ghost from among spooky-feeling objects like feathers and rubberbands. Ah-wooooooo! Best game ever! Here's an informative Web 1.0 page on the Green Ghost game, plus a video showing the set-up:

Is that all Transogram put out that was utterly awesome? Guess again, ghastly ghouls! There was the fabulous Swing Wing...

...the melodious manic mayhem of Monkey's Uncle...

Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...not with the Trik-Trak Road-Rally!

Too tedious for you, cool fats? Then let's crank it up a notch with the Dare-Devil Trik-Trak! (Matt Murdock, Blind Driver, not included.)

Still, there's one toy that wasn't from Transogram that I still want, but I'm not allowed to have toy guns. But, a bull can dream, can't he?

So, speaking of toy guns, play us off, honeyhoney, directed by and guest-starring Keifer Sutherland!


Sleestak said...

I own a vintage kabala game, btw. Bought it a few years back

Chris K said...

Also, the Pentagon uses Ka-Bala to make all of their decisions, according to a Grant Morrison issue of Doom Patrol. (I think it's this one: )

BillyWitchDoctor said...

HA! I've always loved the standard "Children in the Thrall of Zohar" Ka-Bala ad, but never knew about that "Billy" strip! Thank you for posting it!

I have a Ka-Bala set myself and am happy to report that bad boy still glows in the dark. The board's ball set inside an old plastic bowl from Little Caesar's Pizza to prop it steady, the Eye of Zohar stares at me even now from the dresser behind me.

It's a crappy game.

It has no more play value than a Quija board; maybe less. But the beautiful design and the creepy noise the marble makes as it rolls around and around and the eerie way the Eye of Zohar follows it...I'll cherish this hunk of plastic until the day I pass into the Great Unknown (tick-tock tick-tock).

Dave said...

Ka-Bala was one of those games that was fun to play once, and then was never referred to again.

Blam said...

So that's what Madonna's been into all these years?