Friday, February 03, 2023

Today in Comics History, February 3: Happy birthday, Victor Buono!

Born on this day in 1938: actor Victor Buono, whose film and TV credits include What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (he was nominted for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe!), Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Silencers, Robin and the 7 Hoods, The Wild Wild West, Vega$, and many more, including the 1967 heist comedy Who's Minding the Mint?. Mint is a favorite of mine because it stars Jim Hutton (Ellery Queen), and also includes Milton Berle, Walter Brennan, Joey Bishop (it's his birthday today, too!) and Bob Denver, and is co-written by Batman's second-favorite cop, Harvey Bullock! Buono, as "The Captain," is pictured here on the cover (in the back of the boat) in Dell Comics's adaptation of Mint!

photo cover of Who's Minding the Mint? [Movie Comic #12-924-708] one-shot (Dell, August 1967). Yeah, I don't know what's up with that numbering system either.

From the interior of the comic:

from Who's Minding the Mint?; pencils by Mo Marcus, inks by Sal Trapani, Frank McLaughlin, or Joe Giella (?)

Buono was also a semi-regular, as the villainous "Mr. Schubert," on the short-lived 1977 Man from Atlantis series starring Patrick Duffy (and its even shorter-lived Marvel comic book adaptation):

cover of Man from Atlantis #2 (Marvel, March 1978), pencils and inks by Ernie Chan, Patrick Duffy face pencils and inks by Marie Severin

Man from Atlantisis also the comic that introduced me to the amazing (and often base-breaking) artwork of Frank Robbins:

from Man from Atlantis #2; script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Frank Robbins, inks by Frank Springer, colors by Janice Cohen, letters by Tom Orzechowski

He also appeared in the serialized strips in the UK's Look-In. Schubert was an interesting foe for for thseries: an environmental scientist/extremist dedicated to wiping out humanity so the globe could recover from the damage mankind had done to it — basically, Ra's al Ghul but with an obsession with the almighty dollar.

from "Marine Attack Part 7" in Look-In v.8 #15 (IPC, 8 April 1978), script by Angus P. Allan, pencils and inks by Mike Noble

Buono (as "Victor Booboo") is also s'posed to be in this MAD spoof of slasher movies, but darned if I can't find him in the actual panels. Pity, because then he'd be drawn by Mort Drucker!

from "Hack, Hack, Sweet Has-Been, or Whatever Happened to Good Taste?" in MAD #100 (January 1966), script by Larry Siegel

Oh, but let's get to what I haven't yet mentioned but you've been waiting for, huh? — Victor Buono's most beloved role.

"King Tut" by Steve Martin from Saturday Night Live (NBC, April 22, 1978), written by Steve Martin

No, no, not that King Tut. This King Tut:

cover of Batman '66 #8 (DC, April 2014), pencils and ink by Mike Allred, colors by Laura Allred., letters by Gaspar Saladino

Buono's King Tut is my favorite of the villains created specfically for the much-loved Batman '66 TV show. He brought a camp and pomposity to the Egyptian-styled monarch whose devilish deeds beleagured the Caped Crusaders in several classic episodes. I'm especially thankful he was featured again when the show finally (almost fifty years later!) made it to comic books.

from "King Tut Barges In" in Batman '66 #8; script by Jeff Parker, pencils and inks by Rubèn Procopio, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Wes Abbott

Where else would you expect a scheme by Tut to wind up in except...Ancient Egypt! Oh no, the Dynamic Duo will never get out oif this trap (until you turn the page).

Despite his villany, Buono's King Tut was always a more sympathetic villain than the usual Bat-Pack of the Joker, Riddler, and Penguin. His civilain identity — professor of Egyptology William Omaha McElroy — only became the felonious Pharaoh when he was stuck on the head. Unfortunately, that seemed to happen a lot. Poor guy didn't deserve to wind up in Arkham Asylum, but there you go. Don't cross Batman.

King Tut finally made the leap from TV continuity to the real world of Earth-1 in a 2009 issue of Batman Confidential. As I think you can spot pretty quickly, they did not base his physique on Victor Buono:

cover of Batman Confidential #26 (DC, April 2009), pencils by José Luis García-López, inks by Kevin Nowlan, colors by David Baron

The story did tip its pointy-eared cowl to the original, though, by naming Tut's civilian identity as "Victor Goodman." "Buono" is Italian for "good!"

from Batman Confidential #27 (DC, May 2009), script by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, pencils by José Luis García-López, inks by Kevin Nowlan, colors by David Baron, letters by Ken Lopez

On your birthday, Victor Buono, we hereby salute you! Keep on Tuttin'!

from Batman '66 #8


Blam said...

“The Cpatain”? Is that Cyrillic?

Blam said...

PS: The FBI will be at John & Randi’s house tomorrow to confiscate all your copies of Batman Confidential.

Bully said...

It's a typo for "Catpain," which is what my kittycat feels when she stubs her paw.

Blam said...

Aha! The Catpain and Toenail.
(Laughs will keep us together.)