The Blog Lagoon’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 10: Power Records Presents!

dracAs a kid, I was only a marginal comics fan at best. I didn’t follow any series regularly. I was more of a cover browser, thumbing through stories at the Super Value around the corner. Sometimes I’d pick up an issue of Captain America or She Hulk with my allowance and then try to draw my own versions of the characters I found inside, rarely reading them at all. All of that time I could have wasted devouring comic books, I wasted listening to records instead. We’re talking elementary-school childhood here, so that didn’t mean listening to pop music. No, I was addicted to something far more substantial… and literate.

Back in the day, before popular movies and TV shows were tied in with every marketable product imaginable, kid favorites were often reduced to 20-page books with an accompanying record that you could listen to as you read along.

Kids raised on 600 cable channels, X-Box and Ritalin can’t possibly conceive of the joy that surged in me when I’d hear, “You will know it is time to turn the page when you hear R2-D2 beep, like this! *Bleep-bloop-bwamp!*”

It came with a cool microphone too!

It came with a cool microphone too!

The true giant of the book and record industry was Peter Pan records. They had a read-along for just about every one of my individual pop passions. Better still, Power Records, a division of Peter Pan, was skewed toward slightly older kids (say, 11 to 13) and their collection was perhaps the coolest to ever grace my Bee-Gees, flip-top record player. Not only did they have licensing agreements with popular TV shows like Kojak, and Star Trek, but they offered an entire series of Planet of the Apes records, featuring original stories not taken from the movies or TV series.

The only thing better than all of that was PR’s Marvel monster series.

Back in the 70s, Marvel Comics had great success with their monster characters. A Dracula series first appeared in 1972, and Frankenstein and Werewolf comics followed shortly after. In addition to those three familiar beasts was the Man-Thing (the likely inspiration for Swamp Thing). Each of the  four monsters had a book and record adventure devoted solely to them.manthingPowerRecords

My introduction to the dark world of Power Records’ “big kid” series was called: Dracula: Terror in the Snow.

Marvel’s treatment of Dracula framed him as a sort of supervillain, and a far cry from the familiar Bela Lugosi/Universal Studios caricature. He was sleeker and sexier and in addition to the usual traditional vampiric powers, there was definitely an emphasis on his otherworldly strength.

Take one look at the cover of the book and you’ll see that this was some hard-PG-13 shit for a little tyke like me. Imagine trying to pass this off as kid stuff in 2009. There is Professor VanHelsing’s daughter on the cover, big braless boobs just hangin’ there, about to drive a stake into the heart of the Count. And that’s nothing– look inside and you’ll find cold-blooded murder and violence unlike anything you’d be able to pitch at kid-level today. (Dracula kills a mountain goat with his bare hands!)

PR had a few DC Comics tie-ins too, so in addition to Marvel’s Hulk and Spider-Man records, I also had a Superman record, and two Batman records that were equally marvelous. But my hands-down favorite will always be Dracula. There’s something about the dramatic heft of this short story (It’s told on two sides of a 45!)– the stellar action-packed illustrations in comic panel form, and the audio production with some amazing voice characterization. It was chilling to my kiddie ears and I’ve only grown to appreciate it more as an adult. I look at it now and waffle back and forth between “how cool were my parents for buying me this?” and “what were they thinking?!”

So, how excited was I to stumble upon (the now abandoned?) Power Records Plaza site, which offered up digital rips of every Power Records product ever pressed? Naturally I downloaded as much as my hard drive could hold, and now, as a Halloween treat, I’d like to share my favorite with you.

Give it a listen, and try to imagine this passing as a kids’ product today. The zip file includes an individual audio file and a multimedia PDF of the book that goes with it. So with a hat tip to Power Records Plaza, I present …TERROR…IN THE SNOW! Mwa-ha-ha!


~ by Number5ive on October 10, 2009.

One Response to “The Blog Lagoon’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 10: Power Records Presents!”

  1. This is a great blog! I just came across it looking for things-Halloween and Mad Monster Party stuff. I loved the downloads you provided from the Power Records collection! I had a few of them as a kid with the read-along books that went with them. Long gone now, I would love to be able to hear them again, as well as some of the stories I never had. I went to the Power Records Plaza and, like you said, it seems to be abandoned. The site is there, but when you click on something, it takes to the download site, but does nothing. Nothing to click to download anything! Is there any way to get these recordings from somewhere else? Or would you be willing to rip some of your own for me? I’d be thrilled either way!

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