Although SUPERMANIA’s long-standing relationship with Propstore has been going on for some years now, after last years bumper offering of incredible artefacts from all four Superman Movies It seemed there was no chance such a feat could be repeated. Indeed, after 40+ years, how many loft finds and shed discoveries from various former crew and/or family could there possibly be? No, the 2021 auction was surely the pinnacle of what remains of available Superman ephemera. The exquisite miniatures. The hairpieces, the crystals. Even Valerie Perrine’s iconic dress. After the last visit, we all shook hands and drove home with a sense of finality – how lucky were we to see these wonderful pieces before they were scattered across the world to their new custodians?
Well. Turn’s out joke’s on me.
Not content with having just as enviable a selection as last year, Propstore have gone one better by presenting a catalogue of fresh items in this years Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction with a complete costume from the Salkind Superman trilogy as their premiere lot. While Propstore has seen many a Super-garment pass through their hands, rarely does a complete costume (below, on a finished display, no less) become available. And quite the example it is too, with the description revealing it to be a composition of screenworn items from all 3 films, presenting a unique opportunity to own a piece from each in the franchise.
Also for Reeve fans there is the 1:1 in flight model from Superman II, an autographed still and my personal favourite lot, the two Leather-bound scripts personally signed by Reeve and donated as a prize to UK TV show Multicoloured Swapshop, where the provenance on offer is about as comprehensive as can be.
Enjoy the preview video (top) courtesy of the Capedwonder Podcast where Jay Towers and I interview Propstore CEO Stephen Lane and look out for the upcoming video on the SUPERMANIA YouTube channel as we prepare to visit the Propstore office once again at the end of this month. Until then, I will keep any predictions about next years auction firmly in check…
Now that the site has been rebranded and revamped (thank you all so much for your support..!) its time to get back to what SUPERMANIA does best, showcasing rare and obscure collectables –
And they don’t come much better than this amazing curio from the Netherlands – a Superman – The Movie Promotional poster in four parts and over two metres long – making the figure of Christopher Reeve life-sized. This package was only available as a mail-away for collectors of the Monty Gum Superman Trading Cards – where ten empty packets plus 50p in postage would also enlist you in the Monty Superman Club.
In absence of the Topps trading card sets in some European Territories, local confectionary companies like Monty Fabrieken (of Leiden, Holland) picked up the licence and produced packets containing 3 cards and the obligatory stick of bubble-gum.
Whereas the cards and wrappers (produced in two sizes) occasionally pop up on auction sites, this particular piece of ephemera (complete with card cover and four postcards) is notable for its rarity and few complete examples are known to exist –
The copy above came to be in the SUPERMANIA collection from a folder of Dutch/German clippings, its previous owner obviously passionate Superman devotee from childhood. This set was pieced back together from the scrapbook with the posters in pristine condition tucked between the (mostly water damaged) pages. Until recently I had no idea what its origin was until another collector proudly posted his copy on Instagram…
As the very proud custodian of the ‘Big Red Book’, any follower of SUPERMANIA will be aware of my affinity for the UK national treasure that is Martin Asbury. Most notable for his long-running newspaper strip ‘Garth’, Asbury went on to storyboard some of the most popular movies of the last few decades, culminating in the as-yet-unreleased latest Bond film ‘No Time to Die’.
Last seen here in vintage footage working in his studio at Elstree, a catch-up with the man himself was long overdue and courtesy of Superfan Philip Hawkins, we finally got the chance to ask the burning questions in the Superman IV Live Watch Along Event. Laughingly referring to it as ‘The Greatest Film Ever Made’ Asbury’s candid and frank recollections are a fascinating insight into the production. As if this wasn’t enough, during the Zoom call another Hollywood legend logged on to contribute – Mr Harrison Ellenshaw! To hear the old friends reminiscing was a joy in itself but for Superfans there were revelations aplenty about the making of Superman IV. For example –
• Asbury was credited as concept and Matte artist but for not his main duties as storyboard artist.
• He designed the opening credits of the film under the direction of Sidney J. Furie – Clive Mantle’s credit as Nuclearman 1 was cut.
• Storyboarding was completed before the role of Nuclearman was cast, explaining why he’s drawn like the ‘Silver Surfer’
• Asbury was also the artist for the matte painting of the Volcano – it’s still in his possession and is currently used as a ramp for a catflap at his home(!) The Lava in the Volcano scene was porridge lit from below.
• Harrison Ellenshaw brought his father Peter out of retirement to help finish the Matte paintings due to the tight schedule
• According to Asbury, besides Lex Luthor’s lair, most of the sets for the film were ‘tiny’
• Sidney J. Furie couldn’t watch the test screening and sat waiting in a restaurant across from the theater. Harrison Ellenshaw said the audience were ‘throwing things at the screen’ in protest
• The test screening was a ‘rough cut’ of 134 minutes. Based on the audience response, Warner Brothers immediately ordered ‘whole reels be dropped’ to bring the runtime down.
• Even though he knew the picture was collapsing around him, Christopher Reeve ‘Never had a bad word to say about anybody’ and ‘was a very pleasant and approachable man – not grand in any way’.
• The production began shooting at Pinewood Studios as the first three had done – it was then re-located to Elstree
• Christopher Reeve suffered an allergic reaction to his new Superman costumes and came out in an uncomfortable rash all over his body
• Mark Pillow had twisted his ankle during filming so an insert showing Superman stamping on Nuclearman’s foot was shot to explain the limp.
• Nuclearman’s demise was filmed at the now-demolished Didcot Power Station and the entrance to the Boys School where Lenny is dropped off are the gates to Elstree Studios
Philip will be making an edit of the event available on Facebook shortly – I urge both Superfans and anybody with an interest in the movie business to give it a listen….