1.27.2012

Circa 1975 - The Fantastic Four Radio Show



Before reaching adolescence, the age when I 'mutated' into something of an X-Men fanatic, I was a fierce fan of the Fantastic Four. In addition to their monthly comic book exploits, the FF had a Saturday morning cartoon that I used to like to watch–despite a really annoying half-sized robot named Herbie who served in place of The Human Torch. (Were the show's producers really concerned that some dumb kid would drench himself in lighter fluid and strike a match in imitation of Johnny Storm?)

Well, I didn't know it back then, but in addition to the print and TV adventures of the Fantastic Four, co-creator "Smiling" Stan Lee had also made a considerable effort to bring Marvel's first family to kid's radio programming. His little known 1975 production of The Fantastic Four Radio Show featured the nearly word-for-word adaptations of some of the Fantastic Four's first adventures, with narration by Lee himself,

In addition to the voice of Stan Lee, also featured in the production were the voices of Bill Murray (yup, that Bill Murray) as the Human Torch, Cynthia Adler as the Invisible Girl, Bob Maxwell as Mr. Fantastic and Jim Pappas as the Thing. A few of the heroes, and villains, who appeared in these audio adaptations were Namor the Sub-Mariner, Ant-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Moleman and Dr. Viktor Von Doom.

Oh...and speaking of Doctor Doom. Hardcore fans of rap artist MF Doom may recognize at least one segment that was sampled from one of the episodes that bears the metal faced super-villain's name.

Apparently, less than a dozen episodes were produced before the plug on the show was pulled due to anemic ratings. Having been largely forgotten about in the interim years, the copyright protections have lapsed, and these lost bronze age productions are now in the public domain. That's right, true believers, you can own 'em for the pulse-pounding price of free-ninety-nine.

It was well over a year ago that I found the ten known episodes over at archive.org, but I didn't get around to actually playing 'em until recently. After giving 'em all a thorough listen, and because it felt like the naturally nerdy thing to do, I scanned the covers of two 1970s FF comics and banged out a retro-ish 'album cover' for a proper presentation in iTunes (or whichever digital player you use).

Submitted for your approval, The Fantastic Four Radio Show.

Click here to download.
Click here to sample.

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