Thursday, February 04, 2016

1977 and Me

Yesterday I was searching through boxes upstairs for something I never found. Along, the way, though, I found a number of interesting things, not the least of which were a handful of documents I had written at the tail end of 1977, 1978, and 1979, summing up the years, one summing up the decade entirely, and several pages of week by week notes about the now barely remembered acting class I took in 1979-80!

Along the lines of my journal posts (see those blogs) I was 18-21 here and they are positively drenched in late teenage angst! That said, they have reminded me of some observations and details I had long forgotten.

For example, just from 1977! 1977 was more of a red-letter year than I remembered. Not only did I graduate and see STAR WARS 8 times but I also wrote the following, foreshadowing much of my own future.

“In 1977, I became ever more deeply embroiled in old movies, seeing for the first time MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES, GONE WITH THE WIND, AND SOME LIKE IT HOT, among many others.”

“On the comics front, I began buying DETECTIVE COMICS again as they quickly picked up the best art and scripts in the industry! MASTER OF KUNG-FU continued at a very high level as well, as did AVENGERS, ALL-STAR, SUPERMAN, TOMB OF DRACULA and a few others.” This was the great Englehart/Rogers DETECTIVE run.

My private library has grown steadily and by this evening has just about outgrown last Christmas's new bookcase.” I had John Toland’s HITLER, THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES (which I gave to one of David’s friends last year), TUNE IN YESTERDAY, and a bunch of paperbacks. Buying books—and bookcases—would take up more and more of my money in the years to come.

“On the music front, my tastes broadened this year to include KISS, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Big Band Music.” Had planned on seeing KISS in Cincinnati on my 18th birthday that year but they were snowed in elsewhere and had to cancel. Never did see them.

“Old radio shows became a favorite subject and I acquired several books and albums on them, also.” The Big Band Music was the first thing I discovered on WVXU radio, followed by their weekly old time radio broadcasts. Over the next few years, I would get more and more involved with WVXU, eventually appearing as a guest and later a guest host on their Trivia call in show. As recently as last month, my wife appeared on what is NOW WVXU on a talk show. The spirit of WVXU lives o, however, on WMKV, where last night I listed to THE WHISTLER and this morning to some Big Band Music.

I noted that I had met the following comic creators at conventions—Steranko, Jay Disbrow, Frank Thorne, Michael Netzer, Bob Layton, Joe Staton and Barry Windsor-Smith, all of whom I remember seeing. BUT...I also note meeting Al Milgrom, Nick Cardy, Roy Thomas, and Jeff Jones! I do not have the slightest memory of meeting or even seeing any of them and since several were and remain major favorites of mine, you’d think I’d recall! I actually do work from time to time for Roy Thomas and became Net friends with the late Jeffrey Catherine Jones and to the best of my recollection, I never met them...but why would I have written it in something that no one else was meant to ever see at the time?

“I began to buy THE WRITER and also to send out query letters but no actual submissions yet. I started work on an article about classic horror movie stars.”

“I became increasingly enthralled with photography.” Backburnered for many years, my interest in photography blossomed finally on the Internet with my late, lamented BRITTANY ROSE AND ME blog.

What a year!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Illusions by Richard Bach/Gray Morrow

Originally posted on my late, lamented SHADES OF GRAY blog, here is the ultra-rare ILLUSIONS newspaper strip done by Gray in the late seventies under the short-lived BEST SELLER SHOWCASE banner. Reading it now, it may come across like so much metaphysical and pseudo-philosophical mumbo-jumbo but at the time the book, by Richard Bach, author of JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL, was a huge number one bestseller! Still, an odd choice for a comic strip adaptation and I can't really say it was done well. Morrow's art here fluctuates from quite good to barely there but the flimsy story probably lost quite a bit of readers for the strip.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ross Bagdasarian

Here's Shana Alexander's 1959 LIFE article about the man behind the Chipmunks. THE CHIPMUNK SONG was the # 1 record on the radio the day I was born that year. Bagdasarian would have been 97 years old on today's date this year. 

Nine years ago, I shared the sample chapter I wrote on Ross--aka David Seville--for my unpublished book on cartoon voice actors 18 years before that!

Monday, January 25, 2016

R.I.P. Terry Burnham

A few years ago, my Facebook friends Michael McGreevey and Bill Mumy were both posting and reminiscing about a couple of Walt Disney TV "episodes" they were in back in 1964 called FOR THE LOVE OF WILLADEAN. Former actor Roger Mobley also starred and was involved in the discussion. All of the guys were wondering whatever happened to Terry Burnham who played the title character that McGreevey and Mobley competed over.

Recently it came out that Burnham--also remembered for the TWILIGHT ZONE episode, "Nightmare as a Child"--died in October of 2013. The Twilight Zone Museum is looking for a relatively small amount--and as of this writing they already have nearly half of it--for a proper burial with a marker. Go here for details:

By the way, FOR THE LOVE OF WILLADEAN can now be found on YouTube in multiple parts starting here:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fantastic Splash # 2

The second appearance of the FF reads like yet another monster of the month Atlas story with, in this case, the Thing himself being the monster (seemingly) as seen in the splash above. The next splash gets a "Part 2" and honestly doesn't even look like Kirby art to me.

Two more chapters but neither get labeled as "Part 3" or "Part 4" for some reason. 

Unconventional coloring (by Stan Goldberg, presumably) adds immeasurably to this and most early Marvels.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fantastic Splash # 1

Marvel has announced their plans to completely eliminate any FANTASTIC FOUR titles from their lineup for the foreseeable future. While I don't believe for a second that this ban will last, I do think it's a good time to go back and take a look at the splash pages and splash panels of the original series. 

The above, for example. The very first FF splash from 1961. A Kirby crowd scene typical at the time of so many  Kirby crowds pointing at monsters in the "Atlas" comics. But here, just words. It intrigues properly, inviting the reader to come meet the four folks pictured above. With both Reed and Ben being WWII veterans, I'd peg them here to be in their mid-40s and they look it. Sue seems mature enough to be in her 30s and Johnny perhaps 16. 

Below--Which came first? The splash or the now oh-so-iconic cover? The giant monster again was business as usual for jack at that time but his early, wispy Human Torch was new. Sue seems to be Fay Wray to the monster's Kong and Reed and Ben are peripheral.

The final splash in issue one captures Sue Storm halfway between visible and invisible, with yet another giant monster in the back and the first splash panel appearance of Stan Lee's dialogue. Overall, it's a good issue but reading it today it all seems so alien to what the FF would become.