Welcome! This is my personal blog, where I chat about whatever takes my fancy, reminisce about comics, Old Time Radio, and science-fiction fandoms, review what I feel like reviewing, and so on. It also archives scans of some of the fanzines with which I've been involved.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

And I Quote: Matthew Murphy Discusses the Dell-Gold Key Split in 1962

Now and then, comics buffs have questioned the split that turned what they had thought of as "Dell Comics" into "Dell Comics" and "Gold Key Comics." (For example, the licensed Tarzan title ran through #131 [Jul-Aug 62] under the Dell imprint and then picked up with #132 [Nov 62] with a Gold Key logo.) So Don and I asked what was going on - and printed the following response from Western Printing & Lithographing's Matthew H. Murphy in our fanzine Comic Art #4. Oh, and we asked him about the weird coding that appeared in place of earlier years' simple cover numbering. And, for that matter, about the company's lack of Comics Code oversight:

"With regard to a Western-Dell separation, this was by mutual agreement so that each company would be free to explore the potential business in the comics market without the self-imposed restrictions which formerly required Western and Dell to work exclusively with one another. In our previous relationship, Western Publishing Co. secured the rights, created the comics, printed them and shipped them out for Dell. Dell acted as the publisher and distributor and did the billing and paid Western for its creatively manufactured products. As far as the code number on the cover is concerned, this is an IBM system used to identify the comic and guide the dealer with respect to the off-sale date. The number in the indicia refers to the issue of the comic.

"We are not members of the Comics Code Authority nor was Dell. Our censorship is one which includes the approval of the licensors involved, and a series of inter-company readings guided by our policy of creating only wholesome entertainment. We are the largest producer of children's publications in the world and as such feel qualified to make competent judgment with respect to what is suitable for children and what is not."


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And I Quote: Stephan Pastis Says Dante Couldn't Have Imagined Comic-Con

Newspaper cartoonist Stephan Pastis produces an oddball strip "peopled" by zebra-hungry (but dim) crocodiles, a passive-aggressive rat, a sort-of-pig-on-the-street pig … and Pearls before Swine is laugh-out-loud funny an impressive percentage of the time. The most recent collection from Andrews McMeel is Pearls Blows Up reprinting Feb. 17, 2008-Aug. 22, 2009, and it's well worth your investment. Among its other charms are Pastis' annotations of many installments. ("That's supposed to be Osama bin Laden in the last panel. Sadly, he's about as recognizable as Saddam Hussein was a few days earlier. That brings up an important rule of cartooning: If the joke is dependent on the reader recognizing someone in the last panel, it's a good idea to make that person recognizable.")

But I was struck by his commentary in the introduction to the volume: a discussion of his appearance at Comic-Con International: San Diego in 2009. As in:

"I was in a land not even Dante could have envisioned.
"People dressed like animals. People dressed like superheroes. People dressed like Star Wars characters.
"And they don't just dress like them, they act like them.
"Take my word on this. There is nothing more disturbing in all of human existence than watching a forty-five-year-old man dressed like a Stormtrooper battle a fifty-two-year-old man dressed like Luke Skywalker.
"It is the kind of debauchery that made God flood the earth in the time of Noah and surely must tempt him to do it again."

But Pastis also says he had a great time - and it was not so much the convention, as it was the wonders of the convention combined with those of San Diego itself. Which is something to consider, while we agonize over finding a San Diego hotel and begin to schedule what we're going to be doing each day of our annual adventure. Pastis wasn't quite ready for it when he first arrived; are you? And have you figured out yet what you will be doing there this year?


Monday, March 14, 2011

And I Quote: Leslie Charteris Defends Comics

From time to time, I'm going to dig through my files in order to see to it that quotations that appeal to me are not absent from the Internet. Others may have already posted such things; in that case, this will simply add my endorsement of those quotations' appeal. So here's the first, courtesy of Leslie Charteris (May 12, 1907-April 15, 1993), creator of The Saint, who provided this in The Saint Mystery Magazine for December 1961:

"To any busybody who is looking for a suit of tinplate crusader's armor to strut in, crime fiction seems to offer an irresistible target. Whether he takes his valiant whack at it in the form of comic strips, television, books, or magazines, he has the comforting assurance that he runs little risk of being hit back. These are entertainment media which cannot interrupt their performance to argue with hecklers. I have read with indignation an article in which the comics were called 'blueprints for delinquency'; but even if I wanted to devote a panel in my own comic strip to give my opinion of the author of that statement, no newspaper editor would print it. He would take the attitude that it is not my place to argue, and anyhow we are on shaky enough ground already, and must be careful not to offend any more pressure groups than are gunning for us right now, lest we end up behind a full official censorship.

"It is therefore a rare privilege to have this page of my own on which to be able to state my own dogma, which is that all these charges are nothing but abysmal tripe. … When I was a boy, the accepted classics and common fare for youthful reading were much gorier and exquisitely nightmare-breeding than anything I find around these days. And in those days there was no problem of juvenile delinquency."


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pop Culture Kids Should Have #PCHH

Linda Holmes, Trey Graham, Glen Weldon, Mike Katzif
Last week's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast from National Public Radio was primarily devoted to paying tribute to new mom Barrie Hardymon and to suggesting pop-culture entertainments for children. After the show's recommendations were elaborated on by posts both on that site and its Facebook page, I had lost track of the plethora of great suggestions (and hit myself on the head for failing, for example, to recommend the children's books of Marjorie Flack (1897-1958) and others). So what would be handier and quicker than to organize all those suggestions? Oh. Not so quick. But here's what I came up with by combining what was posted. To find out why folks came up with those specifics? Well, check out the show, its comments, and its Facebook page. 

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994)
Adventure Time (2010- )
Animaniacs (1993-1998)
Blue's Clues (with Steve) (1996-2002)
Dexter's Laboratory (1996-2003)
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)
Electric Company (1971-1977)
George of the Jungle (1967)
Jack's Big Music Show (2005-2007)
Kids' science shows, such as Beakman's World (1992-1997), Bill Nye The Science Guy (1993-1997) and, of course, Mr. Wizard [Watch Mr. Wizard (1951-1972) and Mr. Wizard's World (1983-1990)]
The Magic Garden (1972-1984)
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1968-2001)
Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974)
The Muppet Show (1976-1980)
Pee-Wee's Playhouse (1986-1990)
Peter Pan starring Mary Martin (1960)
Phineas and Ferb (2007- )
Pinky and the Brain (1995-1998)
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Schoolhouse Rock (1973-1985, 1993-1999)
Sesame Street (1969- )
The Simpsons (1989- )
SpongeBob SquarePants (1999- )
Tiny Toon Adventures (1990-1992)
The Upside Down Show (2006-2007)
The Weird Al Show (1997)

Babe (1995, 89 min.)
Babe, Pig in the City (1998, 97 min.)
Fantasia (1940, 124 min.)
Fantasia/2000 (1999, 74 min.)
Hansel and Gretel (1954, 72 min., with Anna Russell as the witch)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977, 74 min.)
The Muppet Movie (1979, 95 min.)
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985, 90 min.)
The Point (1971, 74 min.)
Films with the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, and Danny Kaye
Looney Tunes cartoons ["What's Opera, Doc?" (1957, 7 min.) especially]

Art Baltazar (1968- ) Tiny Titans series
Doris Burn (1923- ) Andrew Henry's Meadow
Patricia Coombs (1926- ) Dorrie the Little Witch series
Susan Cooper (1935- ) [The Dark Is Rising series]
Bruce Coville (1950- ) Magic Shop series
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) [Note: While such of his children's books as Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and The Gremlins are well known, some of Dahl's output is for older readers]
Eleanor Davis (1983- ) The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook
Ul de Rico (1944- ) The Rainbow Goblins
Kate DiCamillo (1964- ) and Alison McGhee (1960- ) Bink and Gollie illustrated by Tony Fucile
"Franklin W. Dixon" the Hardy Boys series
Edward Eager (1911-1964) [the Magic series]
John D. Fitzgerald (1906-1988) Great Brain series
Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) Harriet the Spy
Wanda Gág (1893-1946) Nothing at All and Millions of Cats
René Goscinny (1926-1977) Asterix series illustrated by Albert Uderzo (1927- )
Theodore Gray (1964- ) The Elements
Ben Hatke Zita the Spacegirl series
Kevin Henkes (1960- ) including Chester's Way; Julius, Baby of the World; Lily's Big Day; and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
Hergé (1907-1983) Tintin series
Norton Juster (1929- ) The Phantom Tollbooth illustrated by Jules Feiffer (1929- )
"Carolyn Keene" the Nancy Drew series
Judith Kerr (1923- ) Mog the Forgetful Cat
James Kochalka (1967- ) Peanutbutter & Jeremy; Pinky & Stinky; Monkey vs. Robot; and Johnny Boo
Gordon Korman (1963- ) [the Bruno and Boots series]
Roger Langridge (1967- ) The Muppet Show comic book
Joaquin Salvador Lavado ("Quino," 1932- ) Mafalda comic strip (1964-1973 in Argentina)
Munro Leaf (1905-1976) The Story of Ferdinand illustrated by Robert Lawson (1892-1957)
Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) A Wrinkle in Time
Elizabeth Levy (1942- ) Something Queer Is Going On books
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) The Chronicles of Narnia
Mercer Mayer (1943- ) Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo and One Monster after Another
Jean Merrill (1923- ) The Pushcart Wars and The Toothpaste Millionaire
A.A. Milne (1882-1956) Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner
Barbara Park (1947- ) Junie B. Jones series illustrated by Denise Brunkus
Dav Pilkey (1966- ) Captain Underpants series
Peggy Rathmann (1953- ) Good Night Gorilla
Andy Runton Owly series
Lore Segal (1928- ) Tell Me a Mitzi
Ellen Raskin (1928-1984) The Westing Game
Anne K. Rose The Triumphs of Fuzzy Fogtop
Louis Sachar (1954- ) Sideways Stories from Wayside School series
John Scieszka (1954- ) Math Curse and any of his other collaborations with artist Lane Smith (1959- )
Maurice Sendak (1928- ) Nutshell Library and the TV musical Really Rosie (with Carole King) based on it
Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) The Lorax
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) The Growing Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up [Note: As with Roald Dahl, be aware that not everything by Silverstein was aimed at a young audience.]
Christian Slade Korgi
Esphyr Slobodkina (1908-2002) Caps for Sale
Donald J. Sobol (1924- ) Encyclopedia Brown series
Kean Soo Jellaby
Art Spiegelman (1948- ) and Françoise Mouly (1955- ) editors of the Little Lit series
Raina Telgemeier (1977- ) Smile and comics adaptations of The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin (1955- )
Jill Thompson (1966- ) Magic Trixie
Judith Viorst (1931- ) Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Landry Q. Walker (1971- ) Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade illustrated by Eric Jones
Bill Watterson (1958- ) Calvin and Hobbes collections
E.B. White (1899-1985) Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web
Audrey and Don Wood Quick as a Cricket
Jane Yolen (1939- ) Sleeping Ugly

Free to Be … You and Me (record and book) (1972)
P.D.Q. Bach
Edvard Grieg "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt
Michael Flanders and Donald Swann
Arlo Guthrie Woody's 20 Grow Big Songs
Tom Lehrer "New Math," "The Elements," and his songs for The Electric Company
Peter, Paul and Mommy
Sergei Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf (Columbia recording directed by Stokowksi and narrated by Basil Rathbone or — on Disneyland backed with Dukas' The Sorceror's Apprentice — Sterling Holloway)
Leos Janacek, Rudolf Tesnohlidek, and Stanislav Lolek The Cunning Little Vixen (Spoiler note: The Vixen dies in the end: not the case in the original comic book.)
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine Into the Woods (Act I)
Camille Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals (Trey recommends the version in Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts; my favorite is the version with comedy narration by Ogden Nash)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ella Jenkins
Allan Sherman
Bob Newhart
Smothers Brothers
Bill Cosby
Shelley Berman
"Darktown Strutters Ball" and "Jelly Roll Blues" performed by The Boston Pops
Sweet Honey in the Rock
Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition
Spike Jones
Sufjan Stevens
Pete Seeger
They Might Be Giants kids' music
Simon and Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Engelbert Humperdinck Hansel und Gretel
Motown: The Big Chill soundtrack
Henry Mancini "Baby Elephant Walk"
Johann Strauss II "Blue Danube Waltz"
Stevie Wonder
The Supremes
Iron & Wine's Kiss Each Other Clean
Raffi Baby Beluga
The Flirtations singing Fred Small's "Everything Possible"
Gian-Carlo Menotti's "The Telephone" 1949 (Columbia) version (Marilyn Cotlow and Frank Rogier), now maybe available on the Pearl label
Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volume One: The Early Years

Wonderground Radio (online/HD station run by The Current, a Twin Cities station)
The Goon Show radio series (1951-1960)
Wii games, especially with a group
hooded animal towels
Jearl Walker The Flying Circus of Physics and website, books, etc.
Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky ballets Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker (Pacific Northwest Ballet version of the latter recommended)
Have a crazy uncle who provides such pop culture as episodes of Mel Blanc's Story Lady radio show and Jack Benny's radio show.
"Expose them when they're too young."
Stay up on new technology: Develop animation skills via iPad and DSi, record yourself reading to your children.


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