Saturday, October 30, 2010
Some time ago, I wrote about an upcoming low budget independent zombie movie called BROKEN SPRINGS. I even ran the trailer. Technically, it's still upcoming. It has however, played a few film festivals (under a slightly expanded title) and tonight, it will finally premiere in the area where it was originally shot.
Friday, October 29, 2010
First thing this morning I noticed that Mark Evanier had posted a review of Jim Korkis’ new book, THE VAULT OF WALT. Seeing as how I had just finally finished my review copy of that same book, I purposely did not read Mark’s piece but I have no doubt that it was a recommendation.
Jim Korkis has been one of my favorite writers on animation for literally decades now. He is known throughout the world for his expertise on all things Disney and Disney fans everywhere should rejoice that he is sharing these episodic and anecdotal historical stories with us!
First of all, THE VAULT OF WALT is, in spite of what its title may imply, NOT about the scandals often linked these days to Disney. No matter how hard you look here, you will not find the Satan-worshipping, Nazi-sympathizing, anti-Semitic child molesting, deep frozen Disney who lurks in the dark recesses of Disney fandom on the Net. Nor will you find the sainted artistic genius that never made a misstep and was beloved by all who knew him. No, Korkis introduces us in snippets to the puzzle pieces that end up showing the reader a very real version of “Uncle Walt.”
The Disney in this book is a talented and creative animator and producer with a very good business sense. He loved children and legitimately wanted to entertain them but had a very good understanding of how to make a profit doing so.
In the book, you’ll find out the truth about Walt’s FBI connection, his membership in the DeMolay organization and his very memorable 30th wedding anniversary. Even though I have never had the pleasure of visiting any of the Disney theme parks, the many segments offering background and behind-the-scenes stories about Disneyland and Epcot are informative and interesting. For me, though, the best parts were the looks at Disney’s personal involvement with a number of films from THE THREE LITTLE PIGS up through BLACKBEARD’S GHOST and even, unexpectedly, 1970’s THE ARISTOCATS. My favorite piece is about the notorious Atlanta premiere of SONG OF THE SOUTH in which the African-American actors, while consistently praised, were not even allowed in the theater…or much of downtown Atlanta in fact! You’ll find characters such as Ward Kimball, Salvador Dali, Chuck Jones, Zorro, a cigarette smoking chimp and the equally interesting Disney family themselves including Walt’s wife and daughters.
Much of Korkis’ book had originally been written as columns so one can easily skip around and always find something new and fascinating. The style is breezy but always informative with the author making even the most minute events feel important to the reader. For fans of today’s Disney mega-conglomerate, there’s little here to interest you. If, however, you’re one of the millions who grew up with Uncle Walt, then THE VAULT OF WALT offers some intriguing, insightful and incisive portraits of the real man, the world in which he lived…and the world he himself created.
What are you waiting for? You can order your copy of THE VAULT OF WALT by Jim Korkis below. Me? I’m going to go read what Mark said about it now.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Not one of those unconsciously dirty or otherwise amusing ones, this is simply a clever throwaway panel from the BATMAN newspaper strip of the 1940's in which Harvey Apollo (NOT Harvey Dent) as Two-Face is seen reading a very appropriate novel--Robert Louis Stevenson's DR. JEKYLL AND MISTER HYDE.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
One of my favorite television series as a tiny child was THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS. I re-discovered it in reruns in the early 1980's and have seen it thusly a number of times since then and always enjoyed it. Clever writing, winning performances particularly from star Dwayne Hickman (with his Jack Benny-inspired delivery) and veteran Frank Faylen as his long-suffering but lovable dad. The breakout character from the show, though, was Maynard G. Krebs, Dobie's "good buddy." He was Dobie's Homer Brown, his Jughead Jones, his Arthur Fonzerelli! With his Beatnik schtick and catchphrases such as "You rang?" and "WORK!!??," Bob Denver's Maynard became as important as Dobie to the series. Thus he ended up playing a major role in National/DC's fairly successful comic book spin-off, much later retouched and redressed by original artist Bob Oksner (the originals being some of his best work in my opinion) as WINDY AND WILLY.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Here's Filmation's version of the Teen Titans from the mid sixties. Robin was tied as a property to Batman who wasn't yet appearing in animation so he couldn't be used. Speedy, who had guested in the comic but wasn't really a member, was a natural substitute. Why they inverted the colors on Kid Flash, on the other hand, I have never understood. Ted Knight narrates. More of these limited animation--yet somehow endearing--cartoons can be found on YouTube.
Here's a portion of what was said about this on YouTube:
In 1942, my father, Larry Wise, and my uncle, Dick Briefer, collaborated on the invention and design of a "toy theatre," called the Playette Theatre, and this video is a kind of nostalgic homage to that formative period in my childhood, and to the two men whose wild creativity were such inspirational models to me as I grew up in the thrall of their energetic imaginations.
The theatre itself was a knock-down cardboard item packed in a colorful, flat box, with instructions for folding and inserting tabs into slots to create the theatre structure in all its Dick Briefer-illustrated glory, as shown in the first slides of the video.
Here's a nice low budget interview with the stars of EATING RAOUL, the great black comedy satirizing--as said in this interview--consumerism. Two fun, talented people who worked together a lot and yet seem quite ill at ease to me in this clip.
Monday, October 25, 2010
I have always loved this fanzine image of the movie version of Will Eisner's classic SPIRIT that might have been. Drawn for the RBCC (that's ROCKET'S BLAST-COMICOLLECTOR for you youngsters) by future modern day "Good Duck Artist," Don Rosa, this image accompanied an article/press release about EXORCIST director William Friedkin's announced intention to bring Denny Colt to the small screen in a TV movie. Rumors to that effect had abounded for several years as Friedkin readily admitted being influenced by Eisner's cinematic storytelling on his previous Oscar winner, THE FRENCH CONNECTION.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
It's hard to discuss artist Mike Esposito without immediately mentioning or at least bringing to mind his longtime partnership with Ross Andru. As a team, the pair worked for various companies at various times and twice even tried to set up their own publishing company. I first discovered them at DC in the mid-sixties--the era of the infamous Go-Go checks--probably with this very issue of METAL MEN, my first. They had at that point been doing WONDER WOMAN for many years, also, as well as many one-off stories for DC's various war titles.
Here we have former SPACE GHOST star Gary Owens basically playing straight man to future JIMMY OLSEN co-star Don Rickles in this one page "interview" that originally appeared in LAUGH-IN magazine. LAUGH-IN was one of the first "adult" (as opposed to kids, not as in skin mags) magazines I ever bought. Got every issue I had at Woolworths here in town if I recall correctly. The licensing and magazine industries being what they are and, knowing what I know now, it's entirely possible that neither Gary nor Rickles had anything to do with this piece. It may well have been simply written up in their respective voices by the mag's writers. Either way, a fun read if you like Don's insult humor.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tomorrow is FRIGHTFUL FRANKENSTEIN FRIDAY in celebration of the publication of Craig Yoe's newest collection of classic Golden Age comics, DICK BRIEFER'S FRANKENSTEIN. If you've never read any of these stories you are in for a revelation. The series was quite literally unique in the annals of comics. The first ever comic series to star a monster, Briefer--a former Eisner associate--did some genuinely creepy comics...at first. Then he switched gears completely and remade the monster a lovable creature in the manner later adapted for Herman Munster! These Jack Cole-style stories were fun and cleverly drawn but...later on, when horror comics were all the rage, Briefer switched BACK and did a serious version of the monster again in a series of stories that were several cuts above most of the horror comics of the fifties.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I just love the late Paul Bartel! Whether as director or actor, he was always a unique presence on a film. This one, EATING RAOUL, he wrote directed AND stars in. It's a black comedy with the proverbial something to offend everybody. It also has a great cast of crazies including Bartel's frequent co-star (and no, they were NEVER married), Mary Woronov, Robert (STAR TREK: VOYAGER) Beltran, Ed Begley (how long does he have to carry "Jr"?), Hamilton Camp and even some Groundling folk like Edie McClurg (now aFacebook friend) and John Paragon. It's about sex...and cannibalism...and murder...and middle class American values. It's also hilarious!
My grade school girlfriend was really, REALLY into Bobby Sherman when this sexist little song came off of his first album so I was really into Bobby, too! Even started wearing fringed leather and suede vests and love beads! Boy did I look stupid at age 10!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The only actual radio show I have ever been privileged to see live (besides the trivia shows I actually appeared on and/or hosted or Convention podcasts) was RIDERS RADIO THEATER. On February 13th, 1998, friend and former employee Ginny (still a Facebook bud today) got tickets for my wife, myself and 16 month old bookdave to accompany her to a taping of two episodes of RIDERS RADIO THEATER, the syndicated modern day musical comedy adventure series starring the western retro group Riders in the Sky.
Monday, October 11, 2010
In lieu of a real job in this current mess we call an economy, I have taken to the world of freelancing--a world I like very much in spite of its uncertainties. The problem is that you get a gig and then before you even fulfill your part of the deal you have to be off soliciting for your next one.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The Kip Tapes
They were never available in stores but the Kip Tapes were an underground hit nonetheless. Kip King died in July of this year after a long series of health issues. The week that he died, I had just gotten hold of the Kip Tapes.
Kip King was the quintessential comedian’s comedian. Although never well known to the general public, he appeared in scores of television series from the mid-fifties on and in films, especially with his son, Chris Kattan, right up until he began his long hospital stay. He was a respected teacher, mentor to many over the years and friend to a host of other well-known comic performers. Comedian/actor Taylor Negron, in speaking of Kip’s passing, noted, “We all must be funnier now to make up for the loss.”
Actress Laraine Newman, the funniest of the original Not Ready For Primetime Players ladies, was not in the Groundlings at the same time as Kip but remembers him well. Laraine wrote that “…somewhat recently, I saw him and Sandy Helberg do their Mr. Bojangles routine, a bit that had me laughing so hard I almost suffocated. There were two things going on at the same time that were equally powerful. Sandy's ancient and palsied tap dancer and Kip's sweet, sincere expression as he sang the song. It was just so wrong and so devilish. There was a wink in his eye, to be sure, but that just added to the lightness of his touch when doing this particular thing. It was probably the least broad thing I'd ever seen him do.”
Laraine’s sister, musician, writer and TV producer Tracy Newman, had been Kip’s co-conspirator on the Kip Tapes. Tracy recalled for me how they came about in the first place. “It was approximately 1982. Around that time, Kip worked for Jesse Jackson at Operation Push. He was on the phone in a “boiler room” early each morning, selling advertising space for black periodicals to businesses in the south. He had a script to follow, but of course he veered from it and went off on tangents. Kip was a New York Jew, but for this job, he was usually a black man named Dr. Richard Anderson. When John Paragon (later a fellow Groundling) started working there, Kip was his mentor because Kip was so successful at the job. John put a cassette tape recorder on Kip’s desk and taped many of his conversations, all of which were simply hilarious. “The black community is like the sky... it’s all around you.” After I heard these rough tapes, I invited Kip to my house every Saturday for several months to place crank phone calls which I recorded properly... I bugged my phone and circled ads in various free papers for Kip to answer. The ads were things like “Last Chance For a Mule,” or “Found Dirt Bike,” or “Get what you want when you want it.” Kip would dial the number and depending on the sound of the voice answering on the other end, he would decide who he was. Like when he called Brentwood (LA) answering an ad seeking a fourth for bridge — the woman who picked up the phone had a slight southern accent, so he became a black man from South Central LA, named Dwight Fiscuss. The minute she heard his voice, you knew she didn’t want him playing cards in her home. I recorded many of these calls, then went into a studio and edited them down to six of my favorites. We wanted to put them out on a record, but we needed the “victims” to sign releases. Neither Kip nor I had the nerve to call them and tell them that they were on the other end of a crank call. So, the tapes became kind of an underground treasure. Very funny but maybe too risky to sell. The six calls are: Last Chance For a Mule, Bridge, Get What You Want, Free Cat, Ski Suit and Dirt Bike.”
Laraine added that she heard the tapes when her sister would play them for her. She said that what she really remembers is Kip’s laugh. “There will never be a laugh like that again.”
Saturday, October 09, 2010
As is being widely covered in the news today, October 9th is birthday to both John Lennon and son Sean. John Lennon, one of THE pivotal figures of the late 20th century, would have been 70 years old had he not ascended into legend far too soon.
Friday, October 08, 2010
***Spoiler*** Rosebud...was the sled. That said, apparently director Otto Preminger was attempting to change our cinematic perceptions when he made a picture in 1975 entitled ROSEBUD. Needless to say, there was no relation. In this film, Rosebud is a yacht. So one Rosebud is associated with what is often called the best film ever, the other with what could conceivably be a candidate for the worst film ever.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Bruce Lee would have been 70 this year. Almost immediately after his untimely death in July of 1973 he was elevated to superstar--and nearly Godlike--status throughout the world. Many years before the bio-flick DRAGON, we were all told to expect an authorized biographical picture to be entitled BRUCE LEE: LIFE AND LEGEND. Nothing ever came of it. Here, though, is a still of Bruce's widow Linda, supposedly perusing the script of that proposed film along with it's intended star, one Alex Kwon. Quite frankly, Alex looks a little too "gosh-wow" to have been Bruce but...who knows?
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Far too brief and with nowhere near enough Gilbert Shelton, this recent clip from the Festa Literaria Internacional de Paraty (FLIP) offers the always controversial Robert Crumb at his best, looking good, being modest and then attacking America.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
As the seventies ended, you were nobody unless you had a poster. It all started with Farrah a few years earlier and then, as with most good things, it got run into the ground. This ad, apparently this company's 68th, was from 1979. Let's take a look, shall we?
Monday, October 04, 2010
Sadly I only recently discovered the now-late Norman Wisdom, a cornerstone of British comedy for decades. Lots of his stuff on YouTube, though, including this late period stage schtick. Hilarious! Norman Wisdom died today at the age of 95, much beloved by his countrymen of all ages.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
I know a number of folks who frequent the Library here are likely to end up at next weekend's New York Con. If so, be sure to ask about the event seen here, apparently left out of the program book! IDW is sponsoring the event in promotion of Yoebooks' recent FELIX THE CAT book and the still upcoming (but scheduled to be released this week I hope) collection of Dick Briefer's FRANKENSTEIN comics! I'd love to be there but can't so all of you guys need to go and report back on the event to me, okay? Okay! Enjoy!
Friday, October 01, 2010
Talk about an unexpected tie-in. One of my all-time favorite comic books is 1965's THE FLINTSTONES AT THE NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR but I had forgotten or never noticed that it was published through Western (Gold Key) but by a subsidiary of Warren Publishing, the folks who brought you CREEPY, EERIE and FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND (as well as later VAMPIRELLA). Seems publisher Jim Warren picked up some of the licensing rights and thus did a couple printings of this great, fun souvenir! One of my Facebook pals pointed thisout tonight as we discussed this week's 50th anniversary of TV's first prime-time animated series.