June 25, 2022

VIDEO COMICS

 

VIDEO COMICS
(QUBE C-1, Nickelodeon, 1979-81)

 

QUBE, Warner Cable


            In terms of comic book-based television productions, Video Comics was extremely unique. In 1977, an experimental two-way multi-programmed cable TV system called “QUBE” was launched in Columbus, Ohio by Warner Cable, a division of Warner Communications. It would introduce several concepts that became standard in cable television: pay-per-view, special-interest cable services, and interactive services. Ambitiously, QUBE had to produce 10 channels of content all at once, which meant the quicker and cheaper the better. As Warner also owned DC Comics, it was decided to produce a filler series based around those comics that also encouraged children to read along. However, rather than employ the limited animation that had plagued rival Marvel Comics’ own productions in the 1960s, Video Comics instead chose to skip the animation process altogether. Instead, Video Comics was literally just a filmed comic book utilizing zooms, pans, fades, music, sound effects and voiceovers. Basically, an audio drama crossed with a book on tape.



            Video Comics debuted QUBE in 1979, eventually finding its way over to the Warner-owned Nickelodeon network shortly after its launch as a fill-in program. Some of the segments featured an intro of an artist working on pages or pictures of the characters being featured. All of the voices were provided by Diane Disque, William Hamilton and Charles Pickard, with Jon Cornell directing and editing and Dana Kadison producing. The episodes were produced at the local Owl Studios. Among the adapted series and characters were Green Lantern, Swamp Thing, Hawkman, Space Ranger, The Atom, The Flash, and Sugar and Spike for a total of 70 segments ranging from 10-20 minutes in length. Once the networks had sufficient programming in 1981, production on the series ended and it had largely gone forgotten. To date, only three full episodes and one partial exist on the internet, as well as a promo from during its run on Nickelodeon.

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