Saturday, January 31, 2009

Replica Grenade Ad



















I get it. I understand the desire of recent decades to tone down violent toys but let's face it. They serve a purpose. My favorite toys were always cap guns and popguns. I had dozens--police specials, army issue, rayguns, cowboy pistols, rifles, shotguns. I never hurt anybody and I was able to take out my youthful aggresion. Maybe we've overdone it and maybe that's why our youth have been getting MORE violent instead of less violent? Just a thought. I had grenades, too, but with mine you had to make your own "KER-SHPLOOOOOOMMMM!" noises. Apparently THIS one really exploded! Ah, for the simpler joys of childhood.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Archie's Madhouse Ad-1959

I was 6 months old when this unusual ad came out for Archie Comics' answer to MAD Magazine. The most obvious thing about it to me is that, while it's a bit bizarre, it really isn't funny. While the great Archie creators of the day could do Riverdale humor, they seemed lost when it came to Kurtzman or Feldstein style comedy! Interesting, though, to note the use of the term, "chicken fat" in the ad as that term came to be associated with original MAD artist Willie Elder and his tendency to throw in all sorts of superfluous non-sequiters in the backgrounds of his panels. Coincidence? Was that term even associated with Elder at the time? Maybe they weren't all that funny but perhaps the Archie guys were precognitive!

You're Only as Good as Your Last Picture-The Blog


About fifteen years ago, in the wake of my aborted book on cartoon voice actors, I started work on a book to be titled, YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE. It was to be a look at the final films of the great Hollywood stars. I had noticed that quite often that last picture they made before their death or retirement tended to be either the crowning moment of a golden career or the biggest piece of celluloid drek ever. I started researching and collecting final films and writing chapters. No one was interested. I racked up the usual impressive list of rejections and, like most people, I let it get to me and stopped trying. The notes for the book were relegated to a file drawer and forgotten.

Now, however, we find ourselves in the electronic age where it's easy to self-publish, it's easy to find more films on a moment's notice (especially bad ones!) and quite frankly, a lot more Hollywood legends have passed away. Thus, I have resurrected YOU'RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE as my 4th blog. (Technically it was my third but I kept it under wraps until I had a real post for it.) This blog won't be updated daily as each update involves watching or rewatching movies and researching other details. I'll let you know here when it is updated.

Up first, we look at the final film of Errol Flynn, the legendarily handsome screen swashbuckler, lover and all-around hero! Check it out here and let me know what you think: http://youreonlyasgoodasyourlastpicture.blogspot.com/

UPDATE-I decided to also do a post on Flynn's sometime film antagonist and sword-fighting opponent, Basil Rathbone. Same link as above. Comments?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 46

Students of international comics all know that LUCKY LUKE is one of the most successful European comic strips of all time, created by Belgian cartoonist Morris in 1946 and guided through its peak years by ASTERIX writer Rene Goscinny. In spite of the fact that it's set in the American west and quite amusing, LUCKY LUKE has never quite caught on in the US. That hasn't stopped the series from running more than 60 years, with more than 70 graphic novel collections, several hit animated films and, in 1991, a live-action feature film!


LUCKY LUKE, the movie, although virtually unknown in the USA is immensely fun! International superstar Terence Hill (THEY CALL HIM TRINITY, MY NAME IS NOBODY) brings a charm and warmth to the character and the film that goes a long way toward making up for the fact that visually, almost everything about the character was changed! Shot in New Mexico with a mostly American cast, the picture tells the story of the founding of Daisytown and an attempt by the Dalton Brothers (as played they're quite reminiscent of Carl Barks' Beagle Boys!) to take it over by turning the townspeople and the local Indian tribes against new sherrif Luke. All of this is narrated by Luke's white horse, Jolly Jumper! As voiced by singer Roger Miller, it makes it sound similar to his narration of Disney's ROBIN HOOD! Miller also does the catchy opening theme with Arlo Guthrie (of all people) singing over the closing credits!
Hill is easygoing with a winning smile as he always is, here letting the fact that his character doesn't talk too much cover his not-as-bad-as-it-once-was Italian accent. John Ritter's then-wife Nancy Morgan seems surprisingly seasoned as sexy Lotta Leggs. BARNEY MILLER's Ron Carey, also a former Mel Brooks cohort, might seem more than a little miscast as Joe Dalton but he plays it to the hilt and has some winning scenes as the nebbishy outlaw leader. The actors playing his brothers (as well as the ones playing the indians) all have some genuinely funny, family-friendly scenes in this live-action cartoon.


Never heard of it? Well, somebody did. LUCKY LUKE spawned a sequel and two seasons of TV episodes shown in Europe, all of which featured Hill, Morgan and most of the same cast! A few years back, the TV episodes could be had for a buck on VHS at Half-Price Books but now they're going for a premium on Amazon and EBay.

Snowballs and Updates

Just what you've always wanted to see...bookdave hit in the pan yesterday by a snowball thrown by Brittany Rose--now on view at http://brittanyrosepictures.blogspot.com/

Also, if you haven't checked out my new Wally Wood blog at
http://wallywoodart.blogspot.com/, we're starting to feature some all-new material as well as archival reprints and have received the endorsement of several of the great comic artist's so-conspirators!
If anyone's been paying attention, there's yet another new blog about to debut from me. Keep watching...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Albert Likes Ike-1954


From those marvelous LIFE archives that everyone's talking about, here's a Walt Kelly drawing of POGO's Albert the Alligator with then-newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Apparently Albert changed his tune from the oft-stated "I go Pogo!" to the more winning "I like Ike!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hooray For Wally Wood!


What this world needs is more blogs dedicated to specific comic book artists! Doing my part, I've decided to create HOORAY FOR WALLY WOOD! at http://wallywoodart.blogspot.com/. Wood's story is ultimately tragic but his work was and is influential in the field in a way that few others can claim. Although he often worked with talented assistants, his own masterly touch was always evident. Initially, this blog will consist of updated reprints from here at the Library but there's plenty of new material coming so Wood fans, watch the skies!

Fred Hembeck/Jack Davis


Cartoonist/blogger Fred Hembeck and I have a lot in common. In fact, there are times HIS childhood memories seem more like MY childhood memories! Finally, however, comes an area where we differ-Jack Davis. Longtime readers will recall some of the earliest posts here at the Library were about the great Mr. D and his all over the pop culture landscape art and influence. Well seems Fred was a bit more of a latecomer to Davis appreciation. You can read about his early experiences over at http://www.hembeck.com/FredSez.htm. Not that the king of swirly knees needs a plug from me but it does give me an excuse to run this little seen Jack Davis movie poster from about 25 years ago!

Blue Ribbon 15


Ever wonder what might have been? Well, here's a brief glimpse. In 1983, Archie Comics revived its superhero line in a fairly big way, bringing back THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS as well as various related titles including a new version of the classic wartime title, BLUE RIBBON COMICS. This whole revival was interesting with the initial burst seemingly spearheaded by artist Rich Buckler and later eclectic writer/publisher Robin Snyder (with crazy DC vet Robert Kanigher running around doing his own thing!). BLUE RIBBON was more or less an anthology, spotlighting tales of MISTER JUSTICE, THE FOX and other revived heroes along with unexpected appearances by the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, Martin Greim's THUNDERBUNNY and a brand new character called AGENT NEPTUNE (who may or may not have been U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A. AGENT. I didn't get that issue). Never really finding its groove, the line was terminated rather abruptly as there exist nearly full unpublished stories of some of the characters.

Here, however, we see a glimpse of what was to have been-The unpublished BLUE RIBBON COMICS # 15. Hard to tell from this sword and sorcery looking cover but the lead feature was supposedly going to be CAT GIRL, another new character as far as I know. Art LOOKS like maybe Ernie Colon. Nice to know that right up to the end, they were experimenting! In retrospect, though, probably not a good idea when your whole line is floundering.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shattuck Illustration


Hey, I'm off work and it's snowing outside. I had time. In spite of the sparsity of information online, continued research paid off with the drawing seen here of, presumably, the title character as drawn by the late, great Dave Cockrum, the second artist (as far as we know) on the strip. Shamelessly, I admit to lifting it wholesale (in the interest of comics scholarship, natch) from http://www.comicsfun.com/comicart/cockrum/CockrumShattuck

The Premio Dardo Award


Chris from THE TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK ( http://templeofschlock.blogspot.com/ )has kindly passed on the prestigious (?) blog award called the PREMIO DARDO to us here at the Library and we have humbly accepted. Thank you, sir! This makes us one of a growing number of worthy bloggers to receive same as a part of the whole deal is that you, upon receipt, must choose 5 other bloggers (or 15 according to some sources!) and bestow said award upon them as well.

As I understand it, the PREMIO DARDO is designed to recognize unique voices and visions on the Web as well as to promote fraternization amongst bloggers of all sorts. The rules as they were passed on to me are:

1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.

2) Pass the award to another 5 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgement, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.


Now the hard part--choosing 5 from the ever-growing list of daily blog stops. So, without further ado--and with apologies to all other worthy candidates (you guys know I loves ya!), I pass on the PREMIO DARDO AWARD to the following folks:


1) JON'S RANDOM ACTS OF GEEKERY ( http://waffyjon.blogspot.com/ ) Enthusiastic presentation of pop culture ephemera, comic art and monster memorabilia, updated regularly and always fun as well as nostalgic!


2) RANDOMTHOUGHTSFROMASLEEPDEPRIVED BRAIN ( http://lisa-mynx.blogspot.com/) Lisa Jones is a collector and researcher of just about everything and the Web is her oyster. Here, she shares WTF moments and NSFW cartoons gleened from a thousand online sources as well as a take it or leave it attitude that leads to some great storytelling of her own from time to time.


3) FERRAN DELGADO'S BLOG ( http://ferrandelgado.blogspot.com/) A classy comic book art blog of the highest order, based in Spain but it can be translated into English.


4) POP CULTURE SAFARI (http://popculturesafari.blogspot.com/ ) is John Firehammer's clearinghouse for great pop weblinks--music, comics, books, art, articles and pop culture in the news are all linked here daily so you don't miss any of the really cool stuff happening online or off.


5) SOMETHING OLD, NOTHING NEW ( http://zvbxrpl.blogspot.com/ ) Jaime Weinman offers opinionated musings on popular and unpopular culture as well as restored WKRP episodes on a regular basis. Always a good time at this blog!
You are, of course, under no obligation to accept nor to pass it on (let's face it, it's a "chain letter.") but, hey, it's a bit of recognition and it's kinda fun so I hope you do accept in the spirit in which it has been given. Thank you all for continued enjoyable work!

Shattuck

You'll note that there is no accompanying illustration today. The reason for that is that I have never seen nor could I find on the Web one single little teensy tiny image of the comic strip, SHATTUCK. What was SHATTUCK? Well, according to what I WAS able to find, SHATTUCK was a "sexy western" comic strip. It was the third (along with the oft-reprinted CANNON and SALLY FORTH) strip packaged by comics great Wallace Wood for the military newspaper, THE OVERSEAS WEEKLY in the early 1970's. It was, according to some sources, inked by Wood and his assistants d'jour but was, in fact, pencilled by a young Howard Chaykin, himself ably assisted by an even younger Dave Cockrum! I don't know about the rest of you comics geeks out there, but no matter the quality, I would most definitely pay for a collection of a strip like that! As it is, I'm asking here if anyone out there can maybe share with us a scan or three if you have perhaps some of the original art or maybe someone better skilled than myself in navigating the information superhighway can link us to some views. I'd really like to see what SHATTUCK looked like! Wouldn't you?

UPDATE-Ms. Lisa informs us that Jack Abel also inked some of SHATTUCK and that longtime Wood cohort, Nicola Cuti (E-MAN!) wrote quite a bit if not all of it! A quick check with artist Howard Chaykin, however, reveals that, "That stuff is so long lost, I wouldn't know where to begin."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 48


Where was this guy when they needed him in Minnesota?
Seriously, birthmark? Is that what they told him? I can hear it now..., "Son, destiny gave you a birthmark that just coincidentally looks exactly like our American flag...complete with all 48 stars." "But, Pop...it...it's glowing." "That's just a rash, kid. It'll go away." If it were me I'd be more concerned about getting that drip fixed.

20 Men I Admire- My 1500th Post!

Normally, I ignore memes but this one I saw over at the ever-delightful (but rarely SFW) http://nosmokingintheskullcave.blogspot.com/ intrigued me. Name 20 men you admire. Well, for my 1500th post I figured I'd give it a shot, knowing full well there are folks I'm leaving out and probably folks I'm offending BY leaving them out. Sorry. Like Becca, I opted to go with living men although as originated at http://coolnessistimeless.blogspot.com/2009/01/20-men-i-admire-meme.html that was obviously not a requirement. Offered without comment from me (but you should feel free), here they are in no particular order:


















They are, from more or less l to r, top to bottom...Henry Winkler, Paul McCartney, Stan Freberg, Stan Lee, Mos Def, Kevin Smith, Al Gore, Neil Gaiman, Bob Hastings, Ray Harryhausen, Barack Obama, Hugh Hefner, Mel Brooks, Stephen King, Mark Evanier, Dick Van Dyke, Russell T. Davies, Ray Bradbury, Elvis Costello and Paul Dini. Again, just off the top of my head and with apologies to others I admire but didn't think of here at 230 AM. As to why I admire them, there are various reasons for each one as opposed to those whose work I might simply "like."















Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spirit Ad-1966


I know, I know...we're still trying to get the taste of that recent movie out of our collective consciousness. That should, however, never be reason enough not to celebrate a more triumphant return of Will Eisner's classic strip--in the case the 1966 Harvey Comics reprints. Actually, the two oversized issues did NOT do well enough to continue but nonetheless had a major impact on nearly all of us impressionable youngsters to whom they were our first exposure to THE SPIRIT. In my case, I was still a few years away from being able to appreciate the unusual combination of humor and noir elements and the brand new, even sillier SPIRIT strips presented in the Harvey issues didn't help seven year old me to understand in the least. It all stuck with me though and when the next reprints rolled around a few years later I was there...and I've been there ever since. I now look on Harvey's two issues of THE SPIRIT as absolutely pivotal comics of my childhood .

Friday, January 23, 2009

Have You Seen Brittany Rose lately?



There are now more than 30 photos of Brittany Rose at http://brittanyrosepictures.blogspot.com/. If you haven't been there lately, you are invited to check it out. Just some cute pictures of a very cute young lady. Today, you can see the original


of the colorized shot seen here (which I used to make the wallpaper seen at right).

On the Real Side by Mel Watkins


One of the cultural historians interviewed in the PBS FUNNY BUSINESS documentary we wrote about yesterday was Mel Watkins, author of the book seen here. As the definitive history of black entertainment in America, ON THE REAL SIDE serves as almost the other side of the story to yesterday's GOING TOO FAR, filling in the blanks as to what was happening in comedy not based on a primarily Jewish background.


Starting with the minstrel shows and Bert Williams and heading along through the stereotype actors of early Vaudeville and Hollywood such as Stepin Fetchit, Willie Best, Mantan Moreland and then headlong into Redd Foxx, Slappy White and Moms Mabley before reachingBill Cosby, Richard Pryor and beyond.
My wife's late father was a scholarly physician, one of the first to be involved in a human hand transplant in the late sixties. According to my mother-in-law, he was also a big fan of African-American nightclub comics and, in fact, became acquainted with the likes of Foxx and Mabley.

Watkins is scholarly and yet immensely readable as he unfolds the tales of triumph and tragedy unflinchingly and continually melds them into the bigger social picture. In fact, he's so good and has such an impressive background that I'm going to blame a rather blatent mistake (which was NOT fixed between hardback and paperback!) on a less informed proofreader rather than on him. The mistake? The recently deceased Rudy Ray Moore (DOLEMITE) was a star on so-called "party" records in the seventies as well as in a number of comedic blacksploitation movies. As a middle-American white kid, even I knew that at the time and yet the book, although barely mentioning him at all, consistently refers to him as RUBY Ray Moore and as "she!" I'm thinking Mel knows better.
Again, a required book for any true student of comedy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Going Too Far by Tony Hendra


Last night, I watched one of the hours of the currently running PBS documentary, FUNNY BUSINESS, that dealt with the cutting edge comics of the fifties, sixties and seventies. This reminded me of this informative 1987 book by Tony (THIS IS SPINAL TAP) Hendra on the so-called "sick" comics and their spawn. Himself a former NATIONAL LAMPOON editor and author of a number of very funny parody books, Hendra knows his stuff and does a nice job tying Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl to Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and beyond. Since comedy cannot exist in a vacuum (it's a scientific fact!), he also discusses the political and cultural climates of the decades, the influence of MAD, underground comix and later, NATIONAL LAMPOON. In fact, the one qualm I have with the book is that it devotes what I consider TOO much space to NATLAMP. Even then, though, Hendra's personal insights make that section must reading for anyone wanting to understand where today's uncensored comedy atmosphere was wetnursed. A goodly amount of illustrations and a more than passing look at pivotal and influential parodists, satirists, standups and other cultural observers including The Smothers Brothers, Woody Allen, Shelly Berman, Buck Henry, Michael O'Donoghue, Jules Feiffer, Robert Crumb, Nichols and May, the Committee, Second City, Godfrey Cambridge, George Carlin and the Not Ready For Prime-Time Players make this long out-of-print volume a must-read for pop culture comedy fans.

Happy Birthday Linda Blair




One of our favorites around the library here--as I'm sure you will remember--is Miss Linda Blair. Linda turns 50 today and we just wanted to wish her a wonderful birthday. Here are a couple shots from her brief but hilarious performance in the newly released (but shot in 1985) sketch comedy film, IMPS.

Another Superboy PSA-Know Your Country


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hawkman Swiped!



A follow-up to the other day's HAWKMAN post--in continuing to read through the Golden Age HAWKMAN stories, I couldn't help but notice that some artists actually lifted (often from themselves!) scenes of the helmet from earlier issues. Here we have one that we ran the other day (on top) from one of the earliest stories and a virtual duplicate of the same shot from several years later!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Many Faces of the Golden Age Hawkman




The convoluted continuity of the Silver Age Hawkman is a mess that has to be ignored to make it work at all. That's a sad story and luckily we aren't here to talk about that. No, what I have always been fascinated by is the Golden Age Hawkman whose helmet evolved almost from issue to issue and certainly from artist to artist, eventually ending up with the helmetless yellow hood seen here. Here are a number of examples from Hawkman's home base in FLASH COMICS in the early to mid-1940's. Art is by originator Sheldon Moldoff, Joe Kubert and a few others I'm not certain of at the moment.