Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rich Buckler in Cincinnati

Sad to hear that the legendary Russ Heath has had to drop out of this year's guest list for the Cincinnati Comic Expo but in his place we get the also legendary Rich Buckler!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ezra Stone

I recently ran across two photos of the late actor/director/humanitarian Ezra Stone that were taken approximately 53-55 years apart. The first shows him in the Broadway play, WHAT A LIFE, which introduced the character of Henry Aldrich which Ezra would play off and on for radio for about 15 years. After that, he became a prolific television director, best-known for episodes of THE MUNSTERS, LOST IN SPACE and Diana Rigg's failed MTM-style seventies sitcom (his favorite according to him). 

The second is he and I going over the script for an ALDRICH FAMILY episode in which we both appeared, he returning to the role he made famous in later years at various nostalgia events.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sergio Aragones Does Needlepoint-1971

From LIFE.

My Acting Class-1979-80

My acting teachers from The Tri-State Media School in 1979. Hal Bennett (aka Hal Bernstein), at left, ran the school with his wife and the other gentleman was our main teacher…Doug…something… I think. Mr. Bennet was, at the time, a popular local radio voiceover artist and the "voice" of Northern Kentucky's Florence Mall on TV and radio. It was a fun 12 week class. We started out with about a dozen students and lost all but 5--myself included--over the course of the classes. One of the young ladies was a local beauty queen, another was an actress with a (very) small role in Jon Voight's THE CHAMP. It was supposed to be 13 weeks but when we students showed up for the last night, the offices were dark, locked and clearly empty of any furniture. I ran into one of my fellow students a few years later and she said she'd heard the Mob was after Hal and he had to leave quickly. Hmmm…seems like he wouldn't have taken the time to move out all the furniture if that were the case. The other teacher, whose name I'm blanking on, was the head of a local teachers union! I'd seen him on the news. Neither of them ever attempted to contact the students. We received no final grade, no promised leads on getting into local theater troupes or unions and we didn't even get copies of the professional 8 X 10 glossy head shots we all had had taken in class the week before.

Monday, August 26, 2013

$9.60 For Jack Kirby

More than 45 years ago, Jack Kirby became my first comic book "idol." He remains up there in my Top Three, shifting frequently back into the number one spot. The first Kirby art I ever saw was the cover and issue above. I taught myself to read at age 5 by going over X-MEN # 11 endlessly and asking my Mother to define words for me. Words like "mutant" and "cyclops." I was REALLY bowled over when I saw the cover below with all of those fascinating looking folks! It was my first issue of FF, a title I would eventually complete an entire run of before having to sell it off.

Jack Kirby left us two decades back but had he lived he would be turning 96 years old this week. Tom Spurgeon mentioned an idea to celebrate on COMICS REPORTER this morning and, under the circumstances, I hope he doesn't mind my quoting him at length here: 

A lot of folks including some of Jack Kirby's peers have for whatever reason ended up on the wrong side of comics history, to the point they could use a hand from the rest of us. That's what the Hero Initiative is set up to do. I slipped them $9.60 earlier this month in anticipation of Kirby's 96th, and I hope you'll do something similar. If you don't want whatever you do to go to the Hero Initiative -- which was my choice this year because it is a charity endorsed by the Kirby family -- then I hope you'll direct it somewhere else. If you're not able or if you're unwilling to part with $9.60, then I hope you'll consider some other amount or some other good thing. I also encourage those of you with the public platform to do so to please spread the word about the idea of giving some small amount back or something similar, or at least consider doing so. 

An excellent idea! Even though we are, as ever, perpetually broke, I was able to find a meager $9.60 to donate and it all adds up!  

Go here to Donate to The Hero Initiative:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Marina Sirtis

I've had the pleasure of seeing many STAR TREK performers in person through the years but one of the most entertaining was definitely Marina Sirtis in the early nineties. I had to go to work after we left the Con and she was running late. We sat with a very large crowd in the meeting hall and she finally came out on stage. She literally stalked the stage, telling stories, talking with audience members and answering questions. The problem was that by that point, I was running very late. I stayed on and on because she was interesting but finally I knew I had to get going. My wife and I had come with friends and they would get her home. I just had to get to the car. I started to get up and I heard Marina say, "Excuse me. Where are you going?" My heart started beating fast but I realized she wasn't speaking to me but to another gentleman who had risen to leave. "I'm the attraction, here. I'm what you paid to see," she said. "Yes, but I still have to go to the bathroom," he answered. By this point, I was scared to death she'd say something to me as I tried to sneak out, also, so I smooched Rene and bolted through an emergency exit door out onto the wrong side of the hotel. I had to walk all the way around the complex to find my car but I got to work on time.

Marina Sirtis will be a guest at next month's CINCINNATI COMICS EXPO, too!
See the link below. If you're a STAR TREK fan, she is lots of fun!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy 8th Anniversary to Me!

This past week marked the 8th Anniversary of BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY! We may not be the biggest or the best but we're still here. As other wonderful pop blogs fell by the wayside over the years, we've weathered many a crisis in health, finance, floods and electronics and yet still manage to post an average of at least once, 6 out of every 7 days!

If you appreciate the often unique fare we offer here, please consider a donation in the upper right hand column to keep us going. It's still a struggle but we've made it this far. Alternatively, check out our rare video selections at:

Hope you like our new logo, a modern shot paralleling the ones we've had before. The messy pic above is of the rarely seen opposite wall of the Library--mostly comics-related stuff.

On Facebook, I've posted an album of visual highlights from the early years of the blog. Even if you aren't on Facebook, you should be able to view it here:

Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mutt and Jeff

I like MUTT AND JEFF, one of the earliest successful US comic strips and one that ran for nearly a century…if it's not STILL running somewhere. But I've never understood why it was so successful in comic books. 

Many newspaper comic strips were reprinted in comic book form. In fact, that's how comic books got their start. Through the years, everyone from LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE and SMILIN' JACK to KERRY DRAKE and BIG CHIEF WAHOO had their own comic reprinting newspaper strips.

But MUTT AND JEFF just seemed to keep on going. Appearing in some early collections, the iconic short/tall duo were initially cover-featured in FAMOUS FUNNIES, had reprints used as filler in ALL-AMERICAN COMICS and got their own title from DC in the early forties. No matter what the climate in the industry, DC promoted M&J as one of their biggest selling titles! After 19 years, Dell took over the title and later--as seen in the above ad--gave it up to Harvey. It must have been a success for Harvey because they actually had spin-offs!

By the time the comic book ended in the mid-sixties, there were literally NO comics left reprinting newspaper strips! MUTT AND JEFF were there at the beginning and there at the end!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Booksteve Reviews: Going Rate by Greg Farrell

The autobiographical comic book as we know it today can be dated back to Justin Green's intensely personal BINKY BROWN MEETS THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY from 1972. In the last couple of decades, the genre has flourished with the rise of desktop publishing and many such titles have gone on to great acclaim. TIME actually and remarkably named Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel FUN HOME: A FAMILY TRAGICOMIC as the Book of the Year in 2006!

That said, these types of comics have never been favorites of mine.

But sometimes I can relate. GOING RATE is a new small press collection of "Very Personal Comics" by Greg Farrell published by Seize Books. It's largely about nostalgia. Not necessarily MY nostalgia and yet the feelings are universal enough that they come across quite genuinely in the book.

The stories are varied and cover everything from body odor and childhood pets to marijuana and delicatessens. My particular favorite is the first in the book, "White Whale of the Bay," in which our hero searches vainly for a particular vinyl LP for years before finally finding it long after he's given up! Been there, done that. The settings were different, the type of music was different but the feelings were the same.

And that's what this anthology is all about really--feelings. Farrell as writer (with a little help on a  couple stories it says) confronts head on his feelings of loss as time moves on, his feelings that places and things that are special aren't there any more…or won't be soon.

All of this is given extra depth by Greg's deceptively simplistic art. He can show more depth in the way he draws eyebrows than some illustrators can using a much broader bag of tricks. It's black and white art with some use of grey screens and it's clear that some stories had more time spent on them than others but his general style is quickly ingratiating and perfectly fits the subjects.

Speaking as someone who posted two years worth of very personal thoughts, feelings and actions of my teenage self online, I can tell you for a fact it's a very liberating thing. You not only let others in very deeply into your world but you also learn a little--or in some cases a lot--about yourself. It's better than therapy.

I've never met Greg Farrell but I feel like I know a lot about him and I like him. Like me, he longs for the good stuff to stay just a little bit longer. If you're one of the millions of adults--and this IS adult material--who enjoy these types of autobiographical comic books, I think you'd enjoy this one. If you've never tried one, this would be the perfect place to start.

Booksteve Recommends! You can order a copy here:

Monday, August 19, 2013

More Art O' Mine

Sorry to do another art post so soon but I really think I've gotten then hang of this. Any prog rock bands out there need a cover?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Unfinished Films

Last weekend, a clip turned up on YouTube featuring a tantalizing few behind the scenes glimpses of Jerry Lewis's legendarily unfinished film, THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED. I'm not going to post it here as the presumption is that Jerry's people won't allow it to stay up for long.

It got me thinking, though, about other famously abandoned movie projects, some of which certainly seemed to deserve to have had the chance to be seen...but never will.

What follows, in no particular order, is a list of my own personal Top 15 unfinished films--the ones I personally wish I could say I had seen.

THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED--Obviously, this one has intrigued me as much as the next film buff. The story was similar to the later LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL which would win an Oscar. It was a serious tale of the Nazi death camps with the only silliness being Jerry's in-character clowning. On the surface, it sounds like a horrid idea but Jerry wrote a marvelous book called THE TOTAL FILMMAKER and I've always wondered if maybe--just maybe--he might've been able to actually pull it off. It could have taken his career into a whole new direction. As it is, the film stopped production and it would be years before Jerry, a major box office attraction of the previous decade,  even attempted to make another movie.

CREATION-This was stop motion pioneer Willis O'Brien's attempt at a follow-up to his silent classic THE LOST WORLD.  Like that Doyle-based film it involved the discovery of dinosaurs in the then present day. Produced by David O Selznick and Merian C. Cooper, it's said that only about twenty minutes of footage were ever finished. Cooper nonetheless used O'Brien again two years later for KING KONG.

THE DEEP-Orson Welles certainly left more than his share of unfinished motion pictures scattered across the years, all of which hold some interest to the film buff just because they were from the man behind CITIZEN KANE, so often designated the greatest film of all time. THE DEEP was perhaps the most commercial of these. Based on a story filmed by others both before and since, Welles' version was shot between 1966 and 1969 in his scattershot way as he promoted money for the project. Laurence Harvey and Jeanne Moreau starred with Welles himself appearing also. Although no footage had been shot in several years anyway, the project was put to rest with Harvey's death in 1973.

GAME OF DEATH-This was Bruce Lee's final film, left uncompleted upon his sudden death in 1973. Intriguing photos of the actor and basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surfaced in posthumous biographies but it was said little footage had been competed. What there was was supposedly included in 1979's all-star cash-in of the same title. Many years later, however, a viable documentary included nearly two hours of edited fight scenes and outtakes from many segments of the lost film.

A GLIMPSE OF TIGER-At an early peak in popularity, Elliot Gould was producing and starring in this adaptation of a book by Herman Raucher about a teenage runaway called "Tiger." Gould was infamously fired soon after shooting began in spite of being the Producer! His career took a major hit and never recovered.

I, CLAUDIUS- This one was an epic of the old Roman Empire starring the great Charles Laughton. Much of its surviving footage was later used as the basis for a documentary entitled THE EPIC THAT NEVER WAS.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND-Welles' unfinished masterpiece or Welles' folly? Footage was shot, as it often was with Orson, over a period of years. The picture starred John Huston in the vaguely autobiographical role of a formerly famous director reduced to doing whatever he can to fund his films. Footage was shown at Welles' AFI tribute but the negative soon after was tied up in the international intrigue happening in Iran in the seventies.

THE RETURN OF BILLY JACK-Tom Laughlin's first Billy Jack picture was an okay drive-in success. His second was a surprise major hit. His third a pretentious yawner and his fourth an all-star political comedy misfire. For years he tried to do a fifth, going so far as to shoot a few scenes which later turned up on his website. But Billy Jack's time had passed and no one cared.

SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE-Marilyn Monroe co-starred with Dean Martin in this remake of MY FAVORITE WIFE. She even shot some tasteful nude scenes for the production. But she was fired due to her various eccentricities. Although rehired just before her 1962 death, Martin dropped out afterwards. The picture was reshot from scratch with Doris Day and James Garner. A small bit of Marilyn's tempting footage was included in an early documentary called MARILYN. Decades later, all of the completed scenes were edited together and shown on cable.

THE RAINBOW ROAD TO OZ--In the 1950s, Walt Disney held the rights to Frank Baum's OZ stories with the intention of making an animated feature. On a 1957 episode of THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB, however, Disney reveals that he will instead do a live-action musical, THE RAINBOW ROAD TO OZ, to star the various Mouseketeers themselves. "We can't be Mouseketeers forever!" says Darlene Gillespie. The gang run through a few onstage musical numbers in an attempt to "convince" Uncle Walt to do the live-action version. Darlene is Dorothy, Annette is Ozma. If any footage for the actual promised feature was ever shot, none survives.

THE STORY OF WILLIAM TELL-Errol Flynn's personal demons were catching up with him by this point in his career so he started producing his own pictures. Unfortunately, after some scenes had been shot with the out-of-shape swashbuckler, funding dried up. His co-Producer went on to some success in softcore sex films.

10 GIRLS AGO- This was a Canadian production meant to be an Elvis-style motion picture vehicle for pop singer Dion (of Dion and the Belmonts). Its real attraction as an incomplete production, however, was the inclusion of a number of old-time comedians including Bert Lahr and then legendary Buster Keaton. Although widely touted in teen mags of its day as forthcoming, there was only enough money to shoot a few scenes and edit them together in an effort to get more money, which never happened. The completed footage is considered completely lost.

EASY COME EASY GO-Another pop star vehicle, this one a comedy with surf music superstars Jan and Dean and British comic actor Terry-Thomas, filming was shut down permanently on its 3rd day of shooting after a  major accident.

THE THIEF AND THE COBBLER-Richard Williams' legendary animated project was in the making for years and years with all reports indicating it a  masterpiece. After more than a decade, Disney jumped in with funding to complete it but didn't want to wait for the meticulous Williams. They took the project away from him and had lesser hands complete i and edit it. They even hired new voices to go along with the ones that had originally been recorded many years before.  It was released as ARABIAN KNIGHT and flopped. Thankfully, there's the fan-edited "Recobbled version" which comes closer than we will ever see to the film's creator's original intent.

WHO KILLED BAMBI?-Described as a "punk HARD DAY'S NIGHT," this was to have been a vehicle for the Sex Pistols, written by film critic Roger Ebert and directed by his sometime collaborator, Russ Meyer. When 20th realized what they were funding...they stopped. Very little footage had been shot and it may have ended up in THE GREAT ROCK AND ROLL SWINDLE.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Superman Meets Big Boy

Here's a teamup one doesn't see every day. In fact, I wonder if they team up at all inside or if the cover was just a way of promoting SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE? That's certainly not the official Superman logo and if DC were involve din any way, it seems like they'd make sure it was. Anybody have this?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Automania 2000

50 year old animated cartoon from John Halas looking at the technology of the next century--this one.

1968 Jerry Lewis Show Episode

Jerry was huge in television in the fifties with Dean but had bad luck with his early sixties talk show and late sixties variety series, both of which are considered amongst the worst television ever offered. That said, time has made them fascinating curios. Here's a whole episode in context.

Ultraman Ginga

Here we have the opening credits for the new ULTRAMAN GINGA TV series. The original ULTRAMAN was a favorite of mine and I've enjoyed the various big-budget ULTRAMAN movies in recent years but this is essentially a modern kids show wit more POWER RANGERS influence than I like. Still, a great looking character!

Jack Davis TV Commercials

Jack Davis is alive and well in spite of a rumor to the contrary on Facebook this morning! Yay! Here's some commercials he worked on, mostly from the seventies it looks like.

Dave Bunker

Someone on Facebook posted a picture of this guy with the unusual musical instrument he invented and I had to find out what it sounded like. Here ya go.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Young Booksteve

Fans of my High School Journal blogs might like this forgotten glimpse of me circa 1978 as posted by my cousin  on Facebook this evening--a pic that I sent her at the time. I'm sitting at the same desk I'm sitting at now (not that it's visible in the pic). You can see my autographed pics of Karen Valentine and Marlo Thomas on the wall as well as Farrah and Marilyn Monroe on the art desk behind me and the 2 volume book club edition of John Toland's ADOLF HITLER (a bizarre Christmas gift from an Aunt a year earlier). I still have the Peanuts stickers, some of the large binders (filled with comics) the Sherlock Homes volume, and my high school senior English book (the big green one on the shelf). Jeez, those curtains were ugly. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Splashing Joke # 9

Here we are already at the end of the sixties and the end of our series. Once we hit the seventies, the Joker becomes a much different character than the one who had evolved since the first issue of BATMAN.