Monday, June 12, 2006

Imaginary People



Here’s IMAGINARY PEOPLE, an ambitious 1987 volume written by David Pringle and published by the detail-oriented folks at the WORLD ALMANAC. Almost by definition a book that attempts to chronicle well-known characters who never actually existed can never be complete. This one gives a sufficient overview, though, and covers a number of characters that aren’t really covered anywhere else (along with, of course, the usual suspects). It’s one of those alphabetical things so that if your drinking buddy suddenly asks you who Moll Flanders or Billy Pilgrim were, you simply look them up here. In fact, this book is so absolutely across the board that you’ll find entries on:
Asterix the Gaul- from the French comic strip
Mr. Belvedere- from the Clifton Webb films
Leopold Bloom-hero of Joyce’s ULYSSES
Bomba, the Jungle Boy- star of B Movies and a sixties DC comic book series
Rooster Cogburn-John Wayne’s one eyed fat marshal
Dick Deadeye-from Gilbert and Sullivan
Emanuelle-heroine of softcore sex films and novels of the seventies
Elric-Albino hero created by Michael Moorcock
Lou Grant-Ed Asner’s gruff TV news producer and later newspaper editor
Jeff Hawke- British comic strip space astronaut
Max Headroom-computer generated TV character from the eighties
Nora Helmer-Ibsen’s heroine from A DOLL’S HOUSE
John Henry-American folk hero
M. Hulot-the great Jacques Tati’s character in several films
Ivanhoe-Sir Walter Scott’s literary knight
Gravedigger Jones-Chester Himes black detective character (as seen in at least three films)
Halo Jones-futuristic post-punk protagonist of Alan Moore’s 2000AD strip, THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES
Maynard G. Krebs- Bob Denver’s TV beatnik
Ginger Meggs-Australian comic strip legend
Paladin-erudite gunslinger from HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL
Doctor Phibes-Vincent Price’s evil genius
Alexander Portnoy-he of Philip Roth’s famous sexually oriented complaint
Bernard Quatermass-Scientist hero of several British TV series and films
Uncle Remus-The great storyteller played by James Baskett in the you’ll-never-see-it-again SONG OF THE SOUTH
Perry Rhodan-long-running German pulp hero in space
Anne Shirley-heroine of the Avonlea series
Bill Sikes-villain in Dickens’ OLIVER TWIST
Jessica Tate-flighty heroine of TV’s SOAP in the seventies
Yogi Bear-picnic basket stealing cartoon character
Doctor Zhivago-hero of Pasternak’s novel and Sharif’s movie
As I said, an incredibly wide range sharing these pages. There are literally hundreds more entries. Each page catches your eye with someone familiar and then you go on to learn a bit about someone you may never have heard of before. Just a marvelous book!

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