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Author Topic: The animation work of Martin Pasko  (Read 1061 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: August 22, 2006, 12:00:39 PM »

Sure, everybody knows about Martin Pasko's role as writer of BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM, or several episodes of the GI JOE series, and that episode of the TICK featuring the Breadmaster.

However, Martin Pasko has much more diverse credits than this. Though Steve Gerber created THUNDARR: THE BARBARIAN, it was Pasko that came up with the idea of naming the show's most memorable character, Ookla the Mok.

Both Pasko and Gerber were walking together, when the pair of them pass by the UCLA campus. Pasko says, hey, why not call him "Ookla?"

Arguably, some of the best Martin Pasko work was on another Steve Gerber created program, MR. T, where Pasko wrote many impressive detective plots. Pasko is, bar none, the best of the MR. T writers: his stories were detective tales, where the show's resident spunky redhead girl and brainy black guy use their heads to solve mysteries. Strangely, Mr. T himself becomes somewhat peripheral, though he's given so many feats of strength that he doesn't enter guest-star territory. Also, Pasko used as little as possible the "Mr. T dog" and that annoying kid that dresses like Mr. T.

Another underrated contender for "best work" is Pasko's story for the Filmation series, BLACKSTAR, a show many consider to be the "prototype" of HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. The opening narration explains it all:

    John Blackstar, Astronaut, is sucked through a black hole to an ancient alien universe. He is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people, and joins their battle for freedom against the cruel Overlord, who ruled by the might of the Power Star. The Power Star was broken in two, into the Power Sword, and the Star Sword. [/list]

    Blackstar may be one of the few African-American sword and sorcery characters; unlike the solid, dull alpha male types that inhabit this kind of fiction, Blackstar had a wonderful sense of humor that was downright whimsical; he was an incorrigible punster, for instance. Sample interaction:

      OVERLORD: Give me the Star Sword, outworlder!
      BLACKSTAR: Sorry, Overlord, but uh, it's real hard to find another Star Sword in my size![/list]

      The Tom Ruegger penned episode featuring the "Lord of Time" was maybe the greatest gift to Blackstar ever, because...he nowhere NEAR exausted all the possible "time" puns!

      BLACKSTAR's animation style is like a "missing link" between the slick Filmation and Hasbro action cartoons of the 1980s, and the Hanna-Barberra cartoons of the 1960s and 1970s - it's WEIRD to watch. In many ways, BLACKSTAR, which came out barely at the start of the 1980s, was the prototype for every single of the slick cartoons of the 1980s from THUNDERCATS to HE-MAN to JAYCE AND THE WHEELED WARRIORS: a fantasy cartoon with a weird mixture of superscience and magic, set on a planet with an ill-defined, monster-filled ecology, a female heroine character with weird powers, and a hero with a single magic artifact of great power (usually a sword or ring), and a single, recurring hypercompetent "embodiment of evil" villain.

      I get a distinct feeling that the more popular HE-MAN was Pat Boone to BLACKSTAR's Jackie Wilson. And I'll take that fire-breathing dragon/horse of Blackstar's over He-Man's annoying voiced Battle Cat any day.

      BLACKSTAR was extraordinary in one other respect: it may be the first action cartoon whose battles were almost entirely aerial. Blackstar rides a half-dragon, half horse creature, and his enemies also are fliers, such as the Vampire-Men, or the flying hunters of the "Air Whales."

      The Martin Pasko-plotted episode had one of the Trobbits poisoned, causing Blackstar and his two sidekicks Mara the Sorceress and Klone the Shapechanger to seek the Healing Stone from the Desert Sprites. Of course, the Overlord thinks differently, and sends his Gargoyles to make things not that easy...

      Tragically, the thirteen known episodes of BLACKSTAR has never been on DVD or home video; the copies I have are burned DVDs I got from a friend's Betamax (!) copies, that still have the commercials. But it wouldn't surprise me if there are bootlegs floating around, just like there are for unreleased animation classics like MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD.
      Logged

      "Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
             - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
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