Friday, 15 July 2011

Eric is "Bananaman"!

When it comes to adapting a popular book series through television or the big screen, almost always people will admit that "the book was better". It can sometimes be done right, in case of the Harry Potter series, or even Charlotte's Web (2006), when the producers opt to staying as faithful to the original text as possible.

But then you look at how certain other titles have been "adapted", which disregards everything about its "roots" from the start and bearing little resemblance to the original book, apart from the use of characters.

But that's another story...

Back in the day, when a children's book or comic was adapted for media it was done properly. Cosgrove Hall, for instance, with Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows and Terry Pratchett's Truckers with no complaint - and of course there's Bananaman!
Drawn by John Geering, Bananaman originally featured in a British Comic known as Nutty during the '80's before it merged with The Dandy. It was a complete farce on the equally-popular Superman, featuring villains galore (regular ones include General Blight and Dr. Gloom). But it still gave plenty of nods towards Silver Age and Marvelman whilst chock-a-blocked with surreal British Humour.

The premise was simple: whenever schoolboy Eric eats a banana, he transforms into Bananaman, "ever alert to the call of action!", with helpful allies Crow and Chief O'Reilly by his side.

Three years after his comic strip debut, the creators approached animator Terry Ward of Flicks Films (Mr Men, Nellie the Elephant, Junglies) to turn their comic into an animated series by the BBC and 101 Productions. As Terry Ward would do so with Beano Videostars later on, he and his team set off with a will - the icing on the cake being that the voices (and ad-libbing) were provided by The Goodies, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, three talented chaps who aren't afraid of still being silly after a successful live-action cartoon-type series of their own.

Which only goes to prove that with the right people involved, a truer adaptation can be made possible without too much meddling involved...!

Goody Goody Yum Yum!
Bananaman continues to fly through the comics to this day - through the 2010 revamp that had Dandy fans riled up at the drastic changes made, before eventually reverting back to his original look for the Digital Dandy comic online. And even then, the original Geering strips have been reprinted in the Beano after the Dandy's printing shop closed up in 2012 - proving he still has massive a-peel to fans old and new!


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