Saturday, January 17, 2009

Super Friends Lunch Box

I only had two lunch boxes back in grade school. The first one was Star Wars and the second one, which I used a lot longer for some reason was the classic Super Friends box. It was my favorite cartoon at the time and I was a devoted DC Comics fan so it was a no brainer to carry my sandwiches in this timeless box. Naturally I loved the art on it. I assume it was by Dick Giordano, who did a lot of the licensing art for DC through Neal Adams' Continutiy Studios, but on the front Superman looks like Curt Swan and Batman looks like Carmine Infantino. Maybe Girodano or whoever did the art was instructed to ape their styles.

The back box art surprised me a little.

While Flash and I believe Green Arrow appeared on the show, I don't remember ever seeing Batgirl show up at the Hall Of Justice. At any rate, it's a cool image and I wish I had my original box. I have no idea what happened to it. It was probably pretty beat up and my mom probably threw it away. These scans are from Hallmark's version of the box I got a few years ago. I always look at it fondly and remember a lot of cool grade school lunches.


The Groovy Agent said...

Far-out, Mike! That is some beautiful art. I'm getting a Murphy Anderson vibe from it, myself. Man, that beats my old Gentle Ben lunchbox all ta pieces!

Mike Middleton said...

You know GA, I think you're right. It does look a lot like Murphy. I just didn't think of it.

Doc Nebula said...

Just found this blog post. I have the Superfriends lunchbox ornament on a superhero themed Christmas tree my wife made for me three holidays ago, and I was searching the internet to try and find who had done the art.

Interestingly, if you look at, you can see that the artwork on the Hallmark ornament is not the same as the artwork on the original lunchbox. I suspect you're correct and that the original artwork on the Big Three was done by Dick Giordano, probably deliberately aping the styles of the most prominent artists on each character at that time, and it was most likely inked by Murphy Anderson.

However, take a good look at the artwork of Flash, Green Arrow, and Batgirl from the 1977 original's opposite side. This is Don Heck's work. I'm pretty sure Don was drawing the Flash around this time period, and his line style is unmistakable.

However, on the Hallmark tribute ornament, the art is different... compare Wonder Woman's legs, or Batgirl's arms and hands, on both pieces and you'll see that clearly, the artwork on the ornament is a recreation, probably by a different artist, of the original work. And, of course, the art from the sides of the lunchbox is very different on the 1977 original than on the Hallmark ornament, almost certainly due to considerations of space.

Whoever did the artwork for the Hallmark ornament seems to have done a nearly photographic reproduction of the Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman/Robin panel, however, it appears they had to start over from scratch with the Batgirl, Green Arrow, and Flash panel... and the sides of the Hallmark ornament, featuring rather staid renditions of Hawkman and Green Lantern (each of which are very reminiscent, in line style, of, respectively, Joe Kubert and Gil Kane) seem almost tossed in as an after thought.

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out who did the alternate versions of Batgirl, Green Arrow, and Flash for the Hallmark ornament. The slightly awkward running poses and the wide, thick chests on the male characters still suggest Don Heck, and Batgirl's hair looks like Heck did it, too... but I'm thinking, maybe, some more modern artist went over a fade Xerox of Heck's original art and cleaned it up quite a bit. I don't know who, though.

Interesting to me is that if you go to, you can see really good shots of the original lunchbox, and it becomes obvious that, in fact, the artwork was probably assembled from various hastily light boxed stock figures of each character, even more hastily reinked, most likely by Giordano himself. That would explain why the Batman and Robin seem so Infantino-ish, why the Green Lantern figure is obviously a Neal Adams, why the Aquaman is a badly redone Jim Aparo, why the Hawkman just looks plain bad (Giordano probably couldn't find a stock pose that fit the space, so he sketched on in himself) and the Supergirl looks so bland.

But I still have no idea who did the work on the Hallmark ornament, which is obviously meant to emulate the original lunchbox art, yet which varies so much in specific details.

But the recreated artwork... that artist puzzles me.

Mike Middleton said...

Thanks for all the info Doc Nebula. I hadn't seen the original in quite a while. I never thought about Don Heck doing the back art but you're right. That's definitely him. I have no idea either who did the new art. Let me know if you find out any other info.

KGammill said...

Just came across this discussion while looking for pictures of the lunchbox ornament. FYI, the art for the for the item was done by yours truly, Kerry Gammill, with inks by Murphy Anderson. DC wanted the new version to be very reminiscent of the original '70s lunchbox, but be an original version for legal reasons. Anderson's inks certainly did the trick as far as capturing the feel of the original.

Mike Middleton said...

Wow. Thanks for the info Kerry. It looks like the mystery is finally solved. You did a fabulous job on the ornament.

justin harbin said...

Just bot one lol