Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sleazy Scandals of the Silver Screen

1974's SLEAZY SCANDALS OF THE SILVER SCREEN can be truthfully referred to as a comic book version of Kenneth Anger's notorious HOLLYWOOD BABYLON. Like its inspiration, the anonymous and pseudonymous creators at work here seem to have the obvious motto of "Never let the truth get in the way of a juicy rumor!" And what creators they are! Bill (ZIPPY THE PINHEAD) Griffith, the great Kim Deitch, the legendary Spain Rodriguez and even Pulitzer Prize winner (I think you have to throw that in by law) Art Spiegelman all had a hand in this little volume. Originally, in fact, it actually WAS a little volume, sized about on the level with a Digest-sized comic. Over the years, subsequent printings were done at a larger size.
Featured in the book are well drawn but sensationalized stories of the Fatty Arbuckle Murder Trial, Clara Bow's supposed love of football teams, the suicide of Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez, the ever-popular murder of William Desmond Taylor, the peculiar habits of Tallulah Bankhead and the wacky but cleaned up story of Liberace! Seen here also is Spiegelman's back cover done in the style of those little syndicated newspaper fillers that could still be found in the press of the period.
As underground comics go, this one is rife with nudity, drugs, alcohol and scandalous behaviors but it ain't exactly ZAP. In fact, in these days of Britney without underwear, Miley IN underwear and Paris in everyone else's underwear, this stuff is barely shocking at all. If marketed better, it may well have appealed to a wider audience than more successful contemporary comix. Today, as the creators involved finally get their due, SLEAZY SCANDALS OF THE SILVER SCREEN sits waiting to be rediscovered and reevaluated as the singular book that it is. If you're a comix fan or an old movie buff, it's a fun read...but you probably WILL want to grab a quick shower afterwards. By the way, Marilyn Monroe only appears on the front and back covers...both seen here.

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