Sunday, May 31, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
I have only ever seen this rare Wally Wood illustration for an article about Saturday morning television as a poor-register photocopy in books and old fanzines. I liked it enough to snag a pristine copy for myself and scan the art and the article. The art is classic Wally Wood and enjoyably cartoonish. The resolute and unafraid Mouse standing his ground against a tidal wave of Super-Heroes is a great sight-gag. The article is one typical of the era though a bit late in coming. It is from the perspective of the generation that is just beginning to become aware what the teens and college students already knew for several years, that comic books were not for children anymore.
The accompanying article complains mostly about the violence in the new generation of cartoons featuring the "weirdies", the Super-Heroes. While the piece does mention both sides of the argument about the effects of violence on children it comes down in favor of the classic and presumably more kid-friendly characters from animation. The author seems to have forgotten how incredibly violent the old cartoons were. They were astonishingly brutal even with the heavy editing that was performed prior to network broadcast to ensure all the explosions and maiming of bunnies at the hands of crazed opera singers were not shown and all the horror occurred between scenes or off-screen.
Additionally, the heroes practiced a morality that the funny animal characters never did. More often than not the anthropomorphic critters are portrayed as amoral, homicidal manipulators and every bit as immoral as the villains the super-heroes battle. At the time of this article some groups may have been of the opinion that a rodent setting off a stick of dynamite in a cat's mouth in order to steal a piece of cheese was harmless, but using a fist made of stone to stop Dr. Doom from conquering the planet was irredeemably damaging to the psyche of children.
Here is the entire hand-wringing article:
TV Guide ( March 23-29 1968).
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I enjoy reading the letters pages and editorials of comic books and magazines. While a letter page does not have the immediate feedback of the internet forum of today it does allow insight into what the publishers are focusing on. The limitations of space forces them to discard the snark and cherry pick for good or ill the items they don't want to acknowledge or keep the ones that would fit their goals. One exception to the letter pages would be those accompanying anything written by Kirkman. I'd like more story and less chat in his books.
On occasion you come across a gem or two among the dross like the the insights of a young fan who would become a force in comics years later or the ignorant bleats of the racist. Those are always interesting. For example, from way back in 1977 here is the letter that was sent in by one reader complaining about the illustrations that accompanied the classic Fredric Browne SF story Arena.
A few words of caution, don't stare too long at the art below because you might catch the "sexual problems" the reader warned about.
Painting by Boris Vallejo, ink drawing by Rene from Starlog #4 (March 1977).
Letter published in Starlog #6 (June 1977).
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
At the start of the month I was at work when a good citizen came into the store and let me know that some kids idling their car next to the outside produce stands were loading up watermelons into the vehicle. I looked out the window and saw that was indeed the case. I also noticed there was no license plate on the front of the car. I went outside to send them off. While walking towards the car I noticed they had no license plate on the back of the car, either. Apparently they had removed them prior to coming onto the property to steal stuff. Often when a shoplifter gets out of the store we just get the license plate of the car, make a police report and send off the video to the detective assigned to the case. The owner of the car will eventually get pulled over and there will be a warrant out for them. A lot of the time they are career criminals and we get a call asking if we want to press charges. We always do.
I was walking toward the kids when they jumped into the car and started shouting, yelling that I was out of luck in trying to identify them to the police. They all found great amusement in this fact and called me names like 'bee-yotch' and impugned my gender preferences. The car started to accelerate away so I took a couple of steps towards it and kicked the passenger side door really hard. The car screeched to a halt and I kicked the door again, this time denting it severely. The driver went absolutely bonkers and started screaming through the open passenger window about what I did to the car. I thought that took some nerve. I told him to have his Daddy call me about the dent and I'll fill him in about how it happened. Then I said, being awesomely cool: "How do you like those melons?" He screamed some curse words and drove off. I decided to call it even. Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Bully sent two books which I enjoyed immensely.
Even the most uninitiated who know of the Superman character are aware that he has been around in print for longer than they have been alive. Many people think he was the first superhero. Well, they are wrong. Supermen, The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 is a fine companion piece to the Fletcher Hanks collection from 2007. The book showcases a number of characters that were around long before Superman jumped over his first skyscraper. All the comic book heroes were continuations of if not descendants of the Pulp Heroes of previous decades. Comic books, back then, where the replacement for the failing market and the more mature content of pulp magazines were being attacked by politicians and parents. Easy to read sequential pictures replaced text and a whole new and younger market was exploited. The book is a fine collection of early comic books and is a must-have for those interested in pulp heroes and the infant comic book industry.
Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers was the other book I received. This collection of Sparky Watts and Babe tales put together by Craig Yoe is just what the title claims: Bizarre. Rogers combined surrealism, zany excess, 'Lil Abner and super heroics to create his stories. What's missing from the volume though is the apocalyptic tale of Sparky Watts that started all the renewed interest in Rogers when it appeared on blogs a year or so ago. The volume is well-represented otherwise, particularly with the Babe stories, but the end of the world arc is really too good not to have been included. You can get Supermen, The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 and Boody. The Bizarre Comics of Boody Rogers at Fanatagraphics. Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Halfway through two weeks vacation. Did I need it. The last time I was on 'vacation' was a few years ago when I was looking for work. That wasn't a very restful time. This time around I'm taking it easy and getting stuff I enjoy done. Reading, watching movies, getting caught up on things. Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
I've been spending a lot of time wandering around used book stores and thrift shops looking for old books. Found a few nice ones that I scanned and posted some of the images over the last few days. Southern California really isn't the best resource for what I'm looking for. Most of the houses and families have not been around that long compared to other parts of the country. On the other coast boxes of books, records and other cool ephemera will be in some attic for 60 years or more and will eventually make it to a garage sale.
In Southern California the pickings are far more slim and neat stuff will often get thrown out rather than dragged from home to home until it sells at a yard sale. The other aspect of this area is that quite often people are aware of what their old stuff is worth and won't part with it unless they get top dollar. Not that I'm looking to make a steal or rip someone off, I don't care about that. The problem with people wanting 50 bucks for an old book is that there really isn't much market for it. It isn't even that there is a speculation boom. Typically some owner looks up a book on the internet and see it's worth $100 someplace and they want that much for it, regardless of the condition or whether they can actually sell it or not. Travel north a bit and there are plenty of garage sales you can find cool stuff at without taking out a loan. I just look for neat stuff to purchase at a reasonable price. I've got some family camping up north this month and they usually find good stuff to bring back. Rating: ☆☆☆
My son got a notice to serve on a jury a few weeks back and went in today. He didn't get picked so he won't be called for a year at least. Personally, I despise jury duty. I'm not in a job where I get paid if I am not working. Serving on a jury means no paycheck which means not paying the bills which means I lose my car and then have no job. I went through that in Maryland and I'm not ever being in a position where that happens again. Juries also scare me. The prospect of being tried by a 'jury of my peers' keeps me on the straight and narrow. I'm terrified that I will get arrested in some Kafkaesque nightmare of a situation and going to trial. Not being wealthy I'm totally screwed if that happens. My peers are probably rampaging dumbasses. I imagine I'll get the chair because my jury will consist of twelve wingnuts who would consult the bible for their jury instructions and pray for guidance in the best way to make me pay for my sins so my eternal soul can be saved. Rating: Zero stars.
Please ignore the hot pink and black rubber (that melts in the heat of a closed car and gets sticky blobs all over) 2 Fast 2 Furious steering wheel cover that came free with the car and check out those tire tracks on the road ahead. The off-ramp I'm driving down is leaving the 805 above Mission Valley towards Interstate 8. On the other side of that mound of iceplant the tracks lead through is a drop of about 100 feet. That must have sucked to go flying off the edge. Hope everything was okay. Rating: ☆☆☆ (For schadenfreude).
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Wonderfully retro and absurdly ethnocentric art depicting an idealized American empire on Earth and in Heaven from Bible Readings for the Home (Pacific Press Publishing Associates, 1963). The art of these books was incredibly sanitized and differed greatly from the Basil Wolverton style, who for his work with the Worldwide Church of God insisted on a "warts and all" approach to scripture.
The PPPA Bible series of books were ubiquitous and were to be found in just about every home, doctor's office and transmission repair shop customer lounge in America back in the 1960s. Anywhere there was a waiting room or lobby odds were good one of the PPPA volumes and a copy of Highlights for Children was on a table nearby. As a child I recall getting one of these volumes at the supermarket for the low, low price of 68 cents every time the family bought laundry detergent. One of the more morbidly humorous and shocking (to anyone not looking at life through the Unreality Filter) themes that run through the books is the death of a child. Typically, a young child would be portrayed about to experience horrible death while an all-powerful Angel looks on, presumably choosing not to intercede and only being present to escort the dead soul of the child to Heaven.
While today some people look back on the imagery of the PPPA series with amusement it should not be dismissed that the series represented, however intentional or through obliviousness, a very real difference about modern life in what was reality versus what was perceived as real. The series has been accused of being exclusionary to the point of being racist. If you were white, middle class and lived in the upper Midwest from 1954-1956 then these books probably closely reflected your actual life experience. Outside of that narrow demographic the real world was noticeably different and far, far harder to manage.
This volume also addresses the Cold War, Nuclear Armageddon and has lots of other images worth posting. More to follow.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
You know what's hot? Chicks who were those short, too small t-shirts that expose the bottom part of their breasts and a whole lotta cleavage. Dude. You know what I mean?
I mean, DAMN. Lookit that. Strata is fine. She's so good, the usually too cool Querl Dox just had to have a piece of that. In a way Strata covering up the goodies just a little and teasing everyone is way hotter than when she ran around topless for a couple of years.
R.E.B.E.L.S. #4 (July 2009)
Other than the usual 3-minute tales of romance both won and lost there are a few Texas tunes with another common theme, that of abandonment when the chips are down. The tune So-Called Friend and this weeks' featured song In Demand being two of them. While this just might be a case of going to the same creative well as other performers do for romance it is otherwise interesting to me that more than a few songs address this theme. Since I have never read about why this subject might be important to the band I can only speculate that this might have its origins the waning popularity and career changes of the band members who moved from Altered Images. The members of a once-popular band labored in relative obscurity for a few years and had to overcome the challenges of a changing market until they found new and moderate success with Texas.
The several tunes that deal with fair-weather people goes into even further detail, remarking that there are people who only want to be associated with the band or an individual only after they gain some notoriety. It is not unreasonable to think that the support of fans and business contacts would vanish with new directions in music or the first poorly selling album, only to be inundated with well-wishers, friends and parasites when later a single climbs the charts.
In Demand was a pretty respectful hit for Texas back in 2000. The song performed well even in countries it was not officially released in, undoubtedly reaching a wider audience through various online resources. The music video is notable for featuring popular actor Alan Rickman, who didn't appear too bewildered (as most movie stars do when appearing in music videos) and there is little reason not to suspect his part in the video helped promote the song.
From the compilation Texas The Greatest Hits is In Demand, featuring lead vocal Sharleen Spiteri fleeing from the Papparazzi and flirting like crazy with Hans Gruber.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Rare, possibly uncatalogued Hank Ketchum illustration featuring Dennis the Menace characters for the Childcraft: The How and Why Library series of reference books.
Childcraft: The How and Why Library, vol. 7, How We Get Things (1964). Original image 1963 by Hank Ketchum.
From the Roswell Daily Record, Former President Bush gave a speech to a bunch of High School kids receiving scholarships. He mentioned how good it felt to no longer be the President. I think we can all empathize with that.
"I no longer feel that great sense of responsibility that I had when I was in the Oval Office," he said. "And frankly, it's a liberating feeling."I wonder how far he walked? If I recall correctly the last time he tried to take 12 steps he didn't finish.
Bush told the soon-to-be-graduates that it was a strange experience walking his dog Barney in his new neighborhood after he moved back to Texas.
"I realized this was the first time I'd been walking in a neighborhood for 14 years," he said. "It's not all that hard, by the way. You take one step, and then you take another."
Friday, May 22, 2009
I would totally crap my pants, shriek like a little girl and then die of a massive heart attack if I was walking around a dark, creepy old house and was surprised by that duck. Don't lie and say you wouldn't, either.
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle (Story and art by Hugh Lofting, Publisher F.A. Stokes, 1922).
Nice classic good girl cover art with a creepy theme from the Photo Club era of magazines when pervs gained a short-lived bit of main stream legitimacy. I think I should know who the cover artist was but I can't read the name and the parts I can make out doesn't look familiar.
Glamour Photography (Summer 1957).
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Got this Beam-Me-Up Star Trek movie tie-in badge in my dinner cereal last night. Not that I'd ever wear it, red is Engineering and that's what division Security is under, right? Wearing anything associated with a Redshirt is just asking for it.
Besides, there isn't any way to attach the badge to a shirt short of using a hot glue gun. I don't know what this thing does other than light up behind the insignia and at the tip and then only if you press the button pretty hard.
The picture on the box led me to believe there was a base for the badge included so it could stand up and look cool on a desk. But there isn't. Unfortunately, all it does is lay there. As far as promotions go the badge is kind of lame even as a flashlight. It would have been geek-cool if it had sound FX, could stand on it's side without falling, a clip to attach to your underwear or even a little hole in the body somewhere to run a chain through so you could attach it to your keys. Like the movie, the badge has potential and seems like it was intended to do something cool, but the company gave up somewhere between the licensing and the design stage.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The 1993 album Ricks Road by the Scottish band Texas is the collection that is most influenced by American music. The entire album is about as Country as they get and is full of good old down home Blues, or at least a European interpretation of what American Blues sounds like. Most of the tracks sound heartfelt and like most gospel tunes have pleas to a higher power for salvation and succor. Lead vocal Sharleen Spiteri doesn't really reach too far or work to hard in this production and saves the wild talent and passion for only a select few tracks.
While a few of the tunes would easily be accepted during a church service the track Fearing These Days would not be out of place as background music for a politician on the campaign trail. The breakout track from Ricks Road is the song So-Called Friend, familiar perhaps to most Americans as the theme song to the 1994-1998 Ellen DeGeneres sitcom Ellen. Amusingly, Sharleen Spiteri's usually non-existent brogue momentarily sneaks into the song Fearing These Days and it is noteworthy because she typically speaks and sings in English with no discernible accent (at least to American ears). It was just humorous to notice because for a second it made me think of Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons.
Ricks Road was not their most well-received album and admittedly there are a few creative missteps that as a fan I can overlook far easier than a professional critic is willing to do. Often the band explores certain musical styles and with White On Blonde and The Hush it worked to great effect. But with Ricks Road it appears that the band is still trying to find a direction beyond trying too hard to garner a hit by sounding like any number of other contemporary pop bands of the time. Still, I generally enjoy most of the tunes on any given Texas album and Ricks Road is no exception.
As usual there are not many Region 1 videos of the band available so I cobbled this one together featuring Winter's End, a nice little Bluesy-pop tune. Enjoy.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm usually a person who supports the proliferation of greater amounts of Hayley Mills merchandise. But this image from a users' personal online store of Hayley and a Sleestak on a t-shirt caught my attention this morning.
The image of a Sleestak posing with Hayley Mills that is used on the shirt and poster is from a quick-and-dirty photo manipulation I did for the for the blog back in back in November 2005. The only change to the original image I posted is the addition of some text at the bottom commemorating a fictional band and concert. I don't know how long the t-shirt and poster have been for sale. The seller information says 2007 but I regularly search for Hayley Mills and Sleestak references and this is the first I have seen of it.
While I don't own the original image of Hayley Mills and her father that I pasted a Sleestak head into, I don't make any money off of it either. I use it for review, parody and unabashed fan purposes. The image isn't a secret as you can find the original on the web. Heck, there is even a colorized version a friend fancied up for me.
This guy is charging a lot of money for a t-shirt where 99% of the product is from work done by someone else. The thing is, anyone can make their own customized t-shirt at much less expense. The website he is using is only one of many custom clothing sites that are available. Furthermore, anyone with a printer and an iron can make their own and far more original hipster pop-culture t-shirt at home for even less.
Now I know how Tony Abruzzo must have felt.
And not to be missed by any Star Trek fan, 2001's Redshirt Blues by David O. Rogers. A fun look at what those poor security troops have to deal with on a day to day basis in the Trekoverse.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Cool panel from a story found in My Own Romance #9 (October 1949). I cleaned up the panel, added fresh color and threw in some Benday dots for that nifty pop art effect. I think it came out pretty sweet. The original artist probably got something like less than $15 a page for the entire job. Yet like Lichtenstein, I am prepared to sell a print of this for hundreds, maybe thousands of times what the original artist was paid for the original work.
Art is cool.