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January 10, 2007

Steve Krantz, 1923-2007

imageSteve Krantz, an early adapter of comics material to television and film, the writer-producer of several television movies adapting his wife Judith's books and later a mental health counselor, died last Thursday. The cause was given as complications from pneumonia.

Krantz got his start in the early days of television, most notably at The Tonight Show. He helped develop two of the most successful comics-turned-TV Shows, Dennis the Menace and Hazel, while head of creative development at Columbia. He acquired the rights to some of Marvel's characters after reading and getting excited by the comic books and their potential for crossover success. He produced first The Marvel Superheroes, a cheaply made but fondly-remembered limited-animation take on Marvel, drawing directly on work from the height of the company's powerful mid-'60s creative flush period, and then a follow-up show featuring Spider-Man that ran from 1967 to 1970 and was later profitably syndicated. Krantz was also involved in trying to get a live-action Spider-Man film made in the mid-1970s, and in 1976 was shopping a treatment to studios featuring a giant robot and Nazis. He had earlier envisioned a musical.

Krantz may be better known as the man who worked with Ralph Bakshi on Fritz the Cat and The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, because of those works' notoriety in cultural circles as X-rated cartoons, in business circles for the first one eventually making $100 million, and in somewhat smaller, more comics-centric circles for the deep unhappiness with which Fritz creator Robert Crumb viewed the results.

Steve Krantz was 83 years old, and is survived by his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.
posted 2:50 am PST | Permalink

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