Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The End of Math-Man!

Yes, this was the last of the Numerical Wonder's single adventure. Too bad, too. Think of the title possibilities!
"WHEN WHOLE NUMBERS CLASH!"
"THE NEVERENDING MENACE OF PI!"
"HIS NAME IS: PROTRACTOR!"
The list is endless!
Tomorrow, back to less self-indulgent cool stuff!

Math-Man Again!

Blogger, I love you but you have GOT to work in that image loading thing, y'know? For awhile, I could get it to work in the middle of the night, for awhile, I could get it to work from my place of employment if I emailed myself the images. Now, it's hit or miss.When it doesn't work, it locks up the whole computer and I have to reboot! Still, only one more page to go! Here's Math-Man!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Math-Man! The Numerical Wonder



Like most comics fans, I created my own super-heroes as a child. My best creations were Delta Man, Powerman and Lightning, all of which were duly ripped off from other characters, mainly Green Lantern, Dynamo and the Flash. I didn't actually draw comics but I used to draw covers. Just covers. I'm sorry to say that I don't have a single one left in my collection, however. What I DO have is the one and only comic book I DID do, an issue of MATH-MAN, written and drawn by yours truly at the age of eighteen. I did the first version of this comic about two years or so prior to this version. It, too, is long gone. The second version is somewhere in the archives. This, however, is the third, final and, if I do say so myself, best version. Counting the cover, Math-Man's battle with the evil Division runs seven pages and over the next few days, we'll serialize it here at the Library. I couldn't resist the temptation to colorize the cover but I must admit the art looks better in black and white so let's just consider this as my belated contribution to the black and white boom of a few decades back. Comments would be appreciated. Oh, and don't say it looks amateurish, okay? I mean...IT WAS AMATEURISH!!!! That said, I still find it entertaining which is more than I can say for just about anything published by Pacific Comics.

Doctor Strange at the Movies

Steve Ditko's run on Doctor Strange (with Stan Lee but make no mistake! Even more than Spider-man, Doctor Strange was Ditko's.)is one of my favorite early Marvel continuities. Oh, a super-hero magician was hardly new. In fact, at one time in the forties, there were probably more than a hundred from Mandrake to Sargon to Zatara. Initially, though, this series had more in common with series like DC's Doctor Thirteen, the Ghost Breaker as Doc helped various ordinary folk deal with paranormal crises whether they believed in the paranormal or not. Once it hit it's stride, though, we had a long, psychedelic (which, if you know anything about Ditko is weird in and of itself) odyssey of a story featuring Strange on the run throughout our world and the trippiest dimensions ever imagined on paper, eventually battling the dread Dormammu and meeting the quite literally awesome figure of Eternity. Did you ever notice how much movie reference Ditko used? Peter Parker, as drawn in many early issues of Spidey, was clearly drawn to look like then popular movie star Robert Walker, Jr.
When Doc first appeared, it was around the same time as Roger Corman's THE RAVEN was in theaters. Thus the early Strange (above left) resembles that film's star Vincent Price (above far left). When Ditko and Lee finally did the magician's origin, however, they turne to the film LOST HORIZON for plot points and then Strange began to resemble that film's star, Ronald Colman (See also above).
In 1978, a minor actor named Peter Hooten played Dr. Strange in a TV movie/pilot that is regarded by many fans as one of the best of the Marel TV projects (certainly better than the TV Daredevil who had no eyeholes in his mask. According to legend, Stan Lee brought this to the producers' attention and they said "He doesn't need them! He can't see!" to which Stan the Man reportedly replied "But no one is supposed to KNOW that!!") Note the resemblance even in this ad to the picture of Price above. I haven't actually seen it since 1978 but I remember it fondly and if YOU want to see it, it is out there somewhere on VHS and, I'm told, turns up on the Sci-Fi channel from time to time.

Friday, September 23, 2005

OOPS!

Looks like I accidentally deleted my links again when I reformatted to solve a totally different problem. I'll try to fix 'em tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lenny Henry

I love British comedy. From the low comedy CARRY ON films to the anarchist Python movies to the more sophisticated wit of Wodehouse’s JEEVES AND WOOSTER, if it’s British, I’ll probably at least chuckle at it. Thus I was more than a little pleased to see the number of British comedians who made it onto the initial list for the recently unveiled British Walk of Fame. One might quibble with names NOT present (Karloff, Peter Cushing) but there were very few in the first batch that might even be questioned as undeserving. Personally, I was happy to see that my favorite comedic performer for about the last decade, Lenny Henry, made the list!
If you’re in the US, you’re probably asking, “Lenny who?” Well, I first became aware of Lenny when I saw him in a 1991 movie on cable called BERNARD AND THE GENIE, which starred Alan Cumming (X2’s Nightcrawler) as an average guy (and if you’re familiar with Alan, you know that’s a stretch!) who finds a genie (Lenny).
That same year, Hollywood tried to make Lenny a movie star by billing him as “Britain’s Eddie Murphy” in TRUE IDENTITY, an improbable but entertaining comedy in which our hero is a struggling American (!!) actor who runs afoul of gangster Frank Langella. Lenny is great but nothing at all like Eddie Murphy.
Undaunted by the yawn that accompanied the film’s release in this country, Lenny soon began the first of two series of CHEF, my absolute favorite Britcom. CHEF is the story of the world’s most egotistical chef, Gareth Blackstock, and the tiny restaurant he and his wife buy in rural England. The plots revolve mostly around the kitchen (I’m shocked that the Food Network hasn’t picked this up!) or the marital problems caused by Gareth’s devotion to the culinary arts.
Married to VICAR OF DIBLEY’s Dawn French for many years, Lenny has become a beloved staple of British TV. Along with Neil Gaiman, Lenny co-created the TV series NEVERWHERE which starred an actor from CHEF. NEVERWHERE became a book by Gaiman and more recently a comic book. This past year, Lenny hosted a PBS tribute to the UK’s biggest male sitcom stars His most recent movie appearance was as the voice of the shrunken head on the night bus in HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN. If you see his name on something…anything!...I guarantee you’ll laugh. He has the most infectious smile ever!Congratulations to Lenny on getting his name on the walk. Now if we can just get Boris on there…

Oh, almost forgot! Lenny himself has a neat website! Enjoy!http://www.lennyhenry.com/home/index.asp?pID=0

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Japanese Spidey!

Awhile back, I mentioned the late seventies version of Spider-Man that ran on TV in Japan. Well, today, I stumbled aross this rather nifty tribute site to it and I thought I'd share it with you!http://incolor.inetnebr.com/stuart/spiderman/

Monday, September 19, 2005

Thompson is in Trouble, Charlie Brown!

My favorite Peanuts book has always been this one, if only because of the title and the bizarre...well...NON-appearnce of the character, Thompson. Apparently a secret operative working for the Head Beagle, with whom Snoopy seems quite familiar, Thompson is, one assumes, a dog.
Snoopy receives a coded message saying "Thompson is in trouble." and he's off and running, trying to tack down the missing agent by disguising himself and interrogating a cute waitress. Eventually, though, our hero arrives too late and Thompson meets a gruesome end.
This uncharacteristic, non sequiter of a storyline ran for 10 days circa 1972.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Captain Marvel Club!


Speaking of the Captain as we were in the last couple posts, I thought I'd share some ultra-rare 1940's missives from Captain Marvel, himself. These were distributed monthly via Fawcett's Captain Marvel Club and were largely an excuse for plugging new titles and a bit of wartime propaganda. Since I wasn't even alive at the time, I'll let the Big Red Cheese do the talking:

More Gross Stuff

Hey, I actually found the other Daerick Gross super hero illustration from the Cincinnati Post! Okay, so its not necessarily Pete Rose..or Captain Marvel (in spite of the "Shazam"). Memory is a crazy thing sometimes. Still, after Pete finally gave up the long out of style crewcut in the mid-seventies, he went with a variation on the Prince Valiant look so clearly this illo is supposed to at least reflect Pete!

That's Gross!


In yesterday's posting, I mentioned area cartoonists that were going to be at the public library. Well, one long gone cartoonist who used to be from the area is Daerick Gross (Sr.) who was an editorial cartoonist for the Cincinnati Post in the mid-seventies. Here's a link to his website, Studio G Homepage, where you can see some of his recent comics work. Pictured at left, however, is a rare early super-hero illustration from the cover of a February, 1977 issue of the Post's Saturday TV magazine. Considering the article topic (as well as the off-model caricatures of Bugs Bunny and Fat Albert in the background) I'd have to say that this was the TV version of Captain Marvel from Saturday morning's SHAZAM series but, hey! It's the Big Red Cheese! Gross also did a version of notorious baseball legend Pete Rose as a Captain Marvel-like hero that we still have somewhere in the vast library archives. It's interesting to note that most of his "real" comics work has been of the dark and brooding variety and yet his humor work while he was in town was outstanding and very unlike the editorial cartoonist clones who dotted the newspaper landscape back in the day.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Night Stalker


I am notoriously open-minded. Ask anyone. I welcome new things and one of my mottos has long been "All change has the potential for good." That said, who in their right mind could ever have possibly thought that pretty boy Irish actor Stuart Townsend would be the ideal person to play Carl Kolchak in the long-rumored series remake of THE NIGHT STALKER? Let's face it, people, someone missed the whole point of the series. The supernatural angle was just a mcguffin. Darren McGavin was the point of the series! Always a reliable actor, McGavin's intense, inspired, hammy but endearing portrayal of the ultimate cliched, disheveled, burnt-out reporter became the standout image of his career. He even carried some of the world-weariness into a long-running series of audio books as John D McDonald's Travis Mcgee (check your local library). On top of all that, he really knew how to wear a hat! I'd be surprised if Townsend even owns a hat.
Having watched several recent Sci-Fi channel marathons of the original 1974 TV series, I can say it was actually hit or miss. Some episodes were slow but some still quite chilling (Hey, my friend Bob Hastings is in the episode with the cruise ship werewolf! Cool!). But through all of them, Darren McGavin was pure pleasure.
Here's the link to the new version's Official Site:Nightstalker You decide whether you want to watch it. As for me, I'm really not saying it won't be good. I'm not pre-judging it in any way. I'm notoriously open-minded, remember? In fact, if it happens to be coming on and I happen to see that, I may try it. I'm just not going to bother seeking it out because they haven't shown me one reason to do so. They haven't shown me another Darren Mcgavin.

The Archie Club

My cousin introduced me to Archie comics when I was about eight years old. I was particularly intrigued by the LIFE WITH ARCHIE series that parodied the sixties spy craze. The series was called "The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E." and lasted only about as long as the spy craze itself. Still, it was enough to get me reading the other titles and sticking with the line even as the super-heroes and spies gave way to the hip "Archies" era. I bought all the records (and actually got a very nice email from Ron "Archie" Dante a few years ago!) and eventually joined the Archie Club, something I never even did with Marvel's MMMS! As you can see, I carried my official Archie Club press pass in my wallet for many years. The absolute only time I heard from the Club again was in 1970 when I received in the mail the flyer seen here.
Over the years, I never really left Archie even though I never bought much of the company's output again. I did buy the various trade reprints and special editions and I even had ocassion to wear my nifty Archie Club pin again when I appeared as Jughead opposite radio's Archie, Bob Hastings. I played Jughead twice in re-creations with Bob at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention in the mid-nineties but ultimately, I lost the role to Hal Stone, radio's original Jughead when he became a regular at the Cincinnati show. More about Hal later.
Speaking of Jughead, if you're in Cincinnati, you can meet his current writer, Craig Boldman at the Cincinnati Public Library today (Saturday, Sept 17th) along with previously noted underground legend Justin Green and various other Ohio Valley comics creators at the opening of an exhibit in celebration of comics revolutions.

Link City!

Okay, so I'm sitting here with a massive toothache but I've finally found time to tweak this thing, already getting my info moved back up to the side and figuring out how to get some links up and then I accidentally deleted the whole thing! AARRGGHH!!
Take Two:
I apparently can only do three actual links at this point but they're good ones! Mark Evanier is a kind of God of pop culture blogging. Cartoonist Fred Hembeck is an old favorite and he and Mike Sterling have been very supportive to my fledgeling effort. If you like my stuff, you'll like theirs.
Other sites that I frequent include Tony Isabella's at World Famous Comics >> Tony's Online Tips - Tony Isabella, everyone's new fave DIAL B for BLOG, the equally amazing Bubblegumfink ,This is Pop! and Tom Peyer :: SUPERFRANKENSTEIN, the marvelously titled Lady, That's My Skull and Jart in My Head, the unique (and more adult than most of these links) The Groovy Age of Horror, the elusive Transbuddha (wouldn't even let me link to it but search it out yourself. It's worth it!) and finally Jerry Beck's incredible CARTOON RESEARCH .
Everyone in the blogosphere has been very welcoming to me as the new guy and I'll show my appreciation by posting more and even better stuff going forward...as soon as I can get my PC to stop locking up every time I try to upload a picture. Anyone have a clue what that's all about?

Friday, September 16, 2005

TV FAVORITES

It's still locking up my PC when I try to publish pics! AARGH! Got these, though!

Well, the new TV GUIDE fall preview issue is on the stands but here at the Library, we tend to look backward, not forward. In this case, let's revisit early 1971 when the book TV FAVORITES by Linda Beech was marketed to the youth of mainstream America through Scholastic book clubs in schools.
Beech profiles the shows she thought meant something to kids at the time. Thus we have whole chapters on
1) Dark Shadows(yes. My friends and I loved it)
2)The Bugaloos (Oh, please! A little Martha Raye is too much!)
3)Glen Campbell (Hard to be hip in a suit with Led Zeppelin and Elton John fast defining rock music at the time)
4)Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (a cocktail party version of hipness that works sbetter in nostalgic retrospect)
5)The Bill Cosby Show (the slow moving sitcom where Cos was a high school coach. I watched it but it was duuuulll!)
6)Ice skater Peggy Fleming (who inexplicably starred in lots of TV specials when I was a kid!)
7)Ivan Tors, the animal trainer for GENTLE BEN, DAKTARI and just about every other animal show at the time.
8) The Partidge Family (Again, cooler in retrospect but hey, we all enjoyed it at the time anyway!)
9) Julia (forever after known as the first sitcom to star an African-American woman, giving short shrift to the fact that this was, in fact, a genuinely funny show with real characters and real heart.)
Note the absence of youth-oriented dramas such as MOD SQUAD and YOUNG LAWYERS. Note also that only the Partridges and Dark Shadows had much of an afterlife.
In fact, for a more realistic viewpoint of this period than Ms. Beech's undeniably interesting puff pieces provide, check out the take no prisoners writing of Harlan Ellison in his classic collections of columns musing on television and writing, THE GLASS TEAT and THE OTHER GLASS TEAT.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pass the Spaghetti



I caught a nifty short documentery on IFC (International Film Channel) the other night on Spaghetti Westerns. For those not "in the know," these were/are motion pictures made by Italians in Spain (often with German financing) depicting the American West in ways that Gary Cooper never would have approved. Sex, extreme violence, highly stylized direction and amazingly original musical scores are the highlights of the best "Spaghetti Westerns" such as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and SABATA. Many of these films starred American actors such as Clint Eastwood who became a big star in Sergio Leone's films and Lee Van Cleef, always a trivia question in this country but a huge international star in the seventies. Other TV actors such as Chuck Conners tried and failed to make it in Italian westerns so ultimately they invented their own stars such as Tomas Milian and Mario Girotti. Dubbed and with a name change to Terrence Hill, the latter became quite popular in America in westerns such as THEY CALL ME TRINITY and MY NAME IS NOBODY. So popular that the big studios tried to capitalize by putting him in big American productions such as MARCH OR DIE with Gene Hackman only to realize that Hill really couldn't speak English! Anyway, the book at left is probably the first book to deal with this peculiar Europeon style of film, a 1974 British volume that spends a lot of time comparing the epic violence of the Spaghetti Western to Grand Opera. There have been a number of books on the genre since this one but if you're new to it, check out IFC this month for a few good examples and reruns of the documentery below.

Cap Again!


I told you Captain America was my favorite favorite! Haven't been able to get this posting thing to work all day and it's now nearly 2 in the morning so all I'm going to say is "Hey! Look! A cool Cap coloring book from the sixties!" The stories inside are adapted from old TALES OF SUSPENSE issues and the artwork pretty well tracings of Kirby and company. Overall though, it's still significantly better than what passes for Marvel coloring books these days!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

That Darn Hayley


My pal Fred Hembeck apparently shared much of my early life...including my unrequited childhood crush on Disney Princess Hayley Mills, star of POLLYANNA, THE PARENT TRAP and, at left with Dean Jones, THAT DARN CAT. Here's Fred's piece at FredSez.
As for me, my crush on Hayley knew no bounds. A few years back when I was managing a bookstore, Ms. Mills was touring in THE KING AND I and I bought tickets for my lovely wife and myself. As the big day approached, I had the bright idea of having Hayley come in to my store for an hour to read Disney stories to kids in exchange for us displaying a poster of THE KING AND I for two weeks. I wrote her at the stop ahead of ours (a tactic that had worked for me in the past) but heard not a peep. In fact, as she hit town, she did so amidst reports that she was not happy with the play, her co-stars, etc. and, on the day BEFORE our tickets, she suddenly announced she was leaving the play! AARRGGHH!! Now, we still enjoyed the play (they brought in Faith Prince who had won the Tony for the Broadway revival a few years earlier. How could it NOT work?) but I've had a tough time enjoying Hayley as much since. Somehow, I'm convinced she did it because of me! Oh, Hayley, WHY!!?? Sigh.

On the plus side, when Hayley's THAT DARN CAT co-star Dean Jones came through town in SHOWBOAT, I went through the same routine to see if he'd read for us. He couldn't do it either but AT LEAST HE CALLED!!!! ARE YOU LISTENING HAYLEY?? DEAN JONES AT LEAST CALLED TO POLITELY DECLINE MY REQUEST!!!! AAARRGGHH!!!
Sniff. Sorry, everyone. Old flames....y'know. Thanks for listening. I'll be alright. Sigh.

Captain Boomerang?


One of the coolest things about British magazines and comics is that they often come packaged with free gifts--toys, badges, stickers, CD's, etc.
One issue of Marvel's published-only-in-the-UK (probably NOT the one pictured but I don't really recall) comic book offered this nifty boomerang that actually worked! Perhaps more interesting here, though is the brief instructive bit in the center. Ahem! Did you ever notice that most comics are lettered in all capital letters? According to legend, the word "FLICK" was banned from all DC comics for decades lest an ink smudge or a speck of pulp turn it into a more offensive vulgarism that would immediately corrupt young minds! But here...Ah, those crazy Englishmen!
Some coolness was present in these comics with scripts by Chris Claremont and art by Herb Trimpe, veteran Fred (AIRBOY) Kida and, later on the great AVENGERS team of John Buscema and Tom Palmer! One prolonged storyline had Captains Britain and America teaming to fight the Red Skull and terrorists with the help of Nick Fury! There must be some legal reason why Marvel hasn't collected these early CAPTAIN BRITAIN stories but I'm sure they will eventually. It won't be the same though. I'll miss the dirty boomerang.

Vera Valiant and Mary Hartman


Artist Frank Springer drew tons of those spot-on, politically incorrect comic book parodies for NATIONAL LAMPOON back in the seventies. Maybe that’s why Stan Lee’s 1976 comic strip THE VIRTUE OF VERA VALIANT, drawn by Springer, comes across like a tediously written Lampoon parody itself. Around the same time, the long-gestating SPIDER-MAN strip was getting under way. Both written by Stan the Man himself, VERA would give up the ghost fairly quickly while Spidey still swings through a handful of papers to this very day!
There was a book collecting some of the VERA strips but it is SO obscure that we don’t even have it here at the Library. We do, however, offer a brief selection of actual strips as clipped from a great metropolitan newspaper back in the day. These examples are from October of 1976. Note that this particular paper, like many I’m told, chose to re-title the strip as VERA VALIANT, VERA VALIANT. I seem to recall an interview in which Stan voiced displeasure at this but clearly it was an attempt to identify the strip’s unusual humor with that of the surprise TV hit soap parody, Norman Lear’s MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN(Mary Hartman). I never "got" MH, MH but I remember at the time that its bizarre, drawn out story-lines were considered positively chic to the Studio 54 crowd for some unfathomable reason and star Louise Lasser (best known as Woody Allen’s ex until the series) was the flavor of the month until she ended up in rehab. That said, MH, MH did spin off FERNWOOD TONIGHT (Classic TV: Fernwood 2Nite), a singularly hilarious version of a small town talk show with Martin Mull and Fred Willard. FT became the even funnier AMERICA TONIGHT and rode off comfortably into cult TV history. VERA VALIANT became, like most of Stan’s newspaper comic strips (including SPIDER-MAN!) a trivia question. As for Stan himself, the once great comics creator went on to a minor film career, appearing in small roles in films such as THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2 and THE FANTASTIC FOUR.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Revisiting ROMANCE



In spite of my unquestionable geek credentials, this is one of my all-time favorite movies. A LITTLE ROMANCE is a gentle, funny, intelligent comedy that’s more romantic in its own way than a dozen Doris Day/Rock Hudson films. It was popular in its day (1979) and won or was nominated for a number of awards but I can’t help but think that it was too hip for the room even then. Note how the poster just screams excitement!
Essentially it’s the story of two smart young teens who fall in love in France and team up with a charming old con man to run away to Italy. Lauren (Diane Lane in her very first film) is the daughter of movie star Sally Kellerman who’s in Europe shooting a picture. Lauren is intellectual and meets Daniel, a young local boy as well versed in the great philosophers as she but also a bit of a street-wise con artist. They bond and run into, of all people, Lord Laurence ("Call me Larry") Olivier in an absolutely delightful, scenery-chewing performance as Julius, a kindly old man who just happens to be wanted throughout Europe for various schemes. Thinking he’s just telling them a story, he says that two lovers who kiss at sundown under the bridge of sighs in Venice will be lovers forever. They’re young, they’re bored and the hormones are kicking in so they decide it’s time for a road trip. Feeling a tad guilty, Julius tags along to keep an eye on them but before you know it, the word is out that he’s kidnapped the kids and the chase is on! Determined to reach the bridge in time, our heroes travel by train, car, bicycle (Olivier’s biographers point out that the ailing, eighty-something actor did his own riding in a bicycle race in the picture, giving producers heart attacks) and ultimately gondola to achieve true love!
There are marvelous performances by all! Olivier won the Golden Globe and both kids were touted as natural actors. Lane got a feature story in TIME but Thelonious Bernard (Daniel) shows only one other credit on IMDB. Hmmm. More or less washed up star Broderick Crawford is a delight as more or less washed up star Broderick Crawford who can’t remember his own career and just wants another drink. Sad in a way but so funny! Arthur Hill (TV’s OWEN MARSHALL) is the voice of reason as Lauren’s father.
Behind the scenes pedigrees are spotless. Directed by George Roy Hill who did BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, THE STING and another favorite of mine, THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT, the script was by Allan Burns who created THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and MY MOTHER THE CAR (Well, okay, perhaps not completely spotless).
I love my Ed Wood collection, my CARRY ON collection, my serials, no budget horror films, multi-million dollar super hero pictures, cheesy rock musicals, teen sex comedies and violent car chase melodramas but sometimes, at the end of the day…what I really want even now is A LITTLE ROMANCE

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Flintstones You Never Saw

This is a painting entitled BIRCHES by one Mel Crawford, known for decades for his beautiful New England shots. Here's his website:Mel Crawford Inc Home Page . In his bio it mentions that he once worked for Disney and Sesame Street among others. In fact, his best-known work MIGHT just be the book tie-in to Dr. Seuss' GERALD MCBOING-BOING, released briefly when the original cartoon came out but re-released just a few years back and still in print as far as I know. He also illustrated beautifully a considerable amount of children's books over the years including this FLINTSTONES one that my mother bought me when I was about two years old.

As you can see, this book, which was prepared just PRIOR to the television series debut, features an alternate world version of THE FLINTSTONES--Fred, Wilma, Fred Junior(!!) and their new pet Harvey (although he looks more like Cecil the sea-sick sea sepent on that final page!) with no trace of Barney, Betty, Dino or Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm(still several years away from their conceptions actually). I'm not certain whether Junior was originally planned for the TV series but if so, he was clearly sacked early on unwittingly preparing the way for Pebbly-Poo and one of the most anxiously awaited births in TV history. (Certainly, the Welch's people were waiting as I doubt Junior had the marketing appeal that sold all the jelly and grape juice that Pebbles would eventually sell!)

Mel Crawford did a considerable amount of the Little Golden Books, of which this was only one. Check out his site and do some searching on the Net and I'll bet you find out that he illustrated one of your favorites! This one was always MY favorite!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Paul Frees


Well, here at the Library, we finally got hold of a copy of publisher/author Ben Ohmart’s delightful book on the late great voice actor, Paul Frees. The book is entitled WELCOME FOOLISH MORTALS…, a greeting Frees used (and still does posthumously I’m told!) on Disney’s original Haunted Mansion ride. Like most books of this sort, many of the best of which are being published by Ohmart’s Bear Manor Media, we have a bit of biography mixed in with a lot of career history and, especially in this case, a wealth of rare photos. Known as “the Voice of God” for his distinctive deep voice reminiscent of Orson Welles, he was equally adept at high pitched animated character voices such as Boris Badenov and the Pillsbury Doughboy. I recall reading once in the seventies that little Pop-n-Fresh had made Frees the richest man in his field. As a child, his was perhaps the first voice I could pick out in cartoons. He was the Thing in FANTASTIC FOUR and almost always appeared in MISTER MAGOO TV cartoons and Rankin-Bass holiday specials. He even played two (count ‘em! Two!) of THE BEATLES on the fab four’s animated namesake show.
His voice overdubbed so many lines in old sci-fi movies that I recall seeing one film where an actor who didn’t resemble Frees in the slightest had been completely re-recorded by the versatile “Voice of God.”
Appearing on many imported Japanese monster movie soundtracks, Michael J. Schlesinger, in charge of writing and looping dialogue for the American version of GODZILLA 2000, actually inserted a bit of Frees’ voice in an unseen TV show in one scene of the film just for old times’ sake!
Besides Frees, Ohmart’s company has also done a biography of Walter Tetley, Jr. who played Sherman on ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE’s MR PEABODY segments.

Oh, and at the risk of sounding self-serving, Bear Manor Media will soon be publishing IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN 3, the latest in a series of fiction anthologies based on old-time radio series. This particular volume, edited by Jim Harmon, will contain amongst many worthier efforts no doubt, your humble Librarian’s short fictional debut! Here’s a link:http://bearmanormedia.bizland.com/id87.html
There will undoubtedly be more shameless plugs later on from where this one came.

More Hanley



Not much but I did find a couple more pieces I had here at the Library by the late artist Alan Hanley. Above left is an original illustration from the back of the envelope in which the previously published CAPTAIN AMERICA caricature painting arrived . The CAPTAIN MARVEL drawing, inked by Jim Engel, is from a mailing envelope from THE COMIC READER.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Alan Hanley

Alan Hanley was a very popular fan artist in the sixties and seventies, appearing in dozens of other people's fanzines as well as his own publications. I discovered and enjoyed his art when THE BUYERS GUIDE TO COMIC FANDOM (TBG, which eventually became CBG, COMICS BUYERS GUIDE) began regularly reprinting Hanley's GOODGUY strip, his unique, exciting but humorous version of a pre-DC CAPTAIN MARVEL revival. I began ordering other fanzines like THE COLLECTOR whenever they advertised work by Hanley also. (Later, when I realized I really had no room to horde the voluminous, weekly newspaper that TBG was at the time, I neatly clipped out all of Hanley's strips and they're filed away here somewhere.) Thus, around the time I graduated high school in 1977, when Mr. Hanley ran an ad offering caricatures of individuals as super-heroes (I forget the price) I was right there. You had to send in a recent photo and tell him which hero you wanted to be. As CAPTAIN AMERICA was even then my favorite (see earlier post) he was the natural choice. It didn't take long to recieve the picture and I loved it! It's long held a prominent place here at the Library and I was feeling nostalgic today so I thought I'd share it. I ordered another for my cousin (as Marv Wolfman's NOVA) and it, too, was a gem. Soon afterwards, though, TBG reported Hanley's death in, if I recall correctly, a traffic accident with a van. I was sadly unable to find any of his work on-line at all but it does still turn up from time to time in the nostalgic comics fanzines and books but he deserves better. He was a good artist, a funny storyteller and by all accounts, a goodguy himself. We remember ya, Mr. H. Thanks.

Oh, as much as I hated to do it, some of the darker colors, mostly the glasses, the eyes and the Wallace Wood-like creatures had faded drastically so I retouched them slightly (and not so neatly. Ugh!) for this appearance...on the SCAN, silly! Not the original!

Jane and Playtex!


Nearly forty years on from THE OUTLAW, Jane Russell was still capitalizing on her best known assets as the TV and print spokeswoman for Playtex 18 hour bras. Seeing as how this gig began during the era in which feminists were burning their bras for political effect and continued into the era where many young women simply chose not to wear them, Jane's familiar smiling countenance undoubtedly was much needed by Playtex. This book was offered as a premium to Playtex customers. The book itself is a fun compilation of author Richard Lamparski's WHATEVER BECOME OF...? books that were quite popular during the seventies nostalgia boom. This particular edition does contain something the regular books don't offer, though. It has a three page introduction by Jane herself! The books continued into the mid-eighties but as far as I know this was the only special edition.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Jane Russell


Myrna Loy (See previous post) is actually much more "my type" but I must admit to a fondness for pin-up art. This particular example is the poster art for Howard Hughes' notorious 1943 western, THE OUTLAW featuring Jane Russell's debut. You can't tell it from this picture but the title character was actually Billy the Kid, played by one Jack Beutel. (Who?) Wouldn't you think they'd put both of the picture's stars on the poster...oh...that's right. They did. That's probably the 625,023rd variation on that joke in connection with this movie. The rumors at the time were rampant that gazillionaire Hughes was making a pornographic western! Clearly, he did overly emphasize his new discovery's bosoms but he was no Russ Meyer. The film itself is dull beyond dull, in spite of the supposed contributions of Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht. It's a great comedown for the producer of such action packed epics as HELL'S ANGELS. The advance word of its supposed naughtiness generated considerable controversy that kept it off screen for some time, thus this particular poster's half-scanned proclamation, "Exactly as it was filmed! Not a scene cut!" Jane rode out the scandal to become a respected actress and singer rather than the flavor of the month. (I personally saw her sing at a Bob Hope charity gala in the mid seventies and she was still a treat!) Hughes produced a number of other lackluster pictures and eventually a bizarre legend. Beutel became an immediate trivia question.
I started watching THE OUTLAW on TV the other day for the first time since the seventies but I quickly changed to JIMMY NEUTRON. The print was bad, the writing bad, the picture bad. The only thing good about it actually IS Jane Russell and even she's served much better by the classic pin-up art of the above poster.

The Thin Man Goes To DVD

Amazon.com: DVD: The Complete Thin Man Collection (The Thin Man / After the Thin Man / Another Thin Man / Shadow of the Thin ...
Just out on DVD is a marvelous looking box set featuring all six of the delightful, light-hearted THIN MAN mysteries with William Powell and Myrna Loy. They also made seven other films together and always maintained an absolutely delightful chemistry between them. The words "modern" and "bantering" are commonly used to describe their on-screen relationship and it comes through in almost all of their team-ups made between the early thirties and the late forties. Oh, the mystery plots were usually well-crafted and there's always a first rate squad of character actors (including Shemp Howard in one!) to back them up but the main attraction here is Powell and Loy. The issue of FILMS IN REVIEW to your left came out in 1982. At the time, Powell was a frail 90 years of age (He would pass in 1984)and Loy speaks here of visiting her former co-star every time she flew to the West coast. She says that fans could never understand how they couldn't be married in real life but points out that if they had been lovers they would've fought like lovers do and if they had been married it would've been worse. As it was, their deep friendship outlasted lovers and spouses and lasted half a century.

Oh, for more info on the books, the films and the mysteries themselves, try this link:
Nick and Nora Charles. For more info on the box set and its quite nifty extras that include TV episodes, radio episodes, documentaries and Robert Benchley short subjects(!), check out the Amazon link above. If you've never seen these films, I don't care what age you are you're in for a treat. Well, actually if you're, like ten or under...or an immature fourteen you'll undoubtedly get real bored but, hey! Your loss!