« … there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. » ― Clement C. Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas (1823)
Not too long ago, we glanced at the interesting case of Tower’s teen line, another instance of works insufficiently popular to be properly reprinted, yet still sought after by collectors and aficionados and consequently on the pricey side. And so it is within this limbo that Tippy Teen and Go-Go and Animal find themselves consigned, in the rather fine company of Sugar and Spike and Angel and the Ape. Let’s not strand them there for the duration, please.
So why do I consider Tippy Teen superior to Archie? For one thing, while there’s some underwhelming artwork to be found here and there (sorry, Doug Crane), there’s nothing dismal (no Al Hartley, no Dick Malmgren, no Gus Lemoine, no Stan Goldberg…), and the writing is generally superior, thanks to, among uncredited others, the great Jack Mendelsohn (recycling and updating his old scripts, but that’s not the end of the world).
Here’s a little seasonal piece I find quite witty and charming. The well-paced work of an anonymous scripter and my beloved Samm Schwartz, it appeared in Tippy Teen no. 18. The whole issue’s quite solid, and since it’s in the public domain, you can enjoy it right here.
« You know, the dog food that Billy Jack loves! » — The Firesign Theatre
Ah, September the 18th. Today’s the birthday of the staggeringly accomplished William Stout (born in 1949), master of ancient reptiles, bootleg record covers, friend of The Firesign Theatre, former Russ Manning assistant (none but the best would do!), and I’ll spare you the illustrious details of his career in cinema. Still, let’s look around a bit, shall we?
Speaking of ’74, isn’t that rhino a dead ringer for Swan’s oleaginous right-hand man, Philbin, from Phantom of the Paradise?
And that’s Bill Stout for you: stunningly versatile, but always himself. Could any artist strive for more?
« You’ve got his likeness emblazoned onto
the top of a tin box Perfect big heart
perfect blue eyes
perfect teeth and
perfectly flowing locks » — The Motorz, ‘Bobby Sherman Lunchbox’
It’s birthday number seventy-six for singer, actor, songwriter, Charlton comics star and all-around swell guy Robert Cabot “Bobby” Sherman, Jr. (born July 22, 1943).
His Getting Together co-star, Wes Stern, also celebrates his birthday this Thursday, July 25. He’ll be seventy-two. You may remember Wes from his recurring rôle as Brenda Morgenstern’s shy, foot-fetishist beau Lenny Fiedler on Rhoda (early on, before the show utterly went South).
Bobby and Wes had the singular honour of starring in seven issues of their own Charlton comic book (February to October 1972). Our excerpt is number 2’s « A Guide to TV? », written and illustrated by Tony Tallarico and shot from the original art. Good-natured fun, especially when the Getting Together cast of characters is around. In the 1971 Fall season, the snappy little show was off to a promising start, but found itself, in the eleventh hour, scheduled against the powerhouse tv hit of 1971, Norman Lear’s abrasive All in the Family, and that was all she wrote.
But that’s all water under the bridge. By the mid-70s, Bobby basically walked away from the grind of public life, and the odd tour or charity event aside, he’s been volunteering with the LAPD, training recruits in first aid, CPR, and so forth. A solid citizen, no irony or sarcasm intended.
Once again, we wish the most joyous of birthdays to Bobby and Wes!
« Painstaking drawings with an eloquent orchestration of hatchings and tickings, marvelous details of period and setting, a narrative that leapfrogs from the precise to the unexplained, a tone of vague delights in both visual and linguistic oddities. » — ‘Mr. Earbrass Jots Down a Few Visual Notes: The World of Edward Gorey’ by Karen Wilkin (1994)
So very much has already been written and said, in all media, about Edward St. John Gorey (February 22, 1925 – April 15, 2000) that there seems little of substance to add. As his work’s ultimate appeal rests in its enduring, expertly wrought sense of mystery, it should be in the Master’s spirit to show rather than tell. Consequently, here’s a gallery of favourite extracts from Gorey’s voluminous œuvre. I’ve omitted both my personal pick, The Willowdale Handcar or The Return of the Black Doll (1962) and the too-obvious-by-half The Ghashlycrumb Tinies or After the Outing (1963), the former because I’m planning to examine it more leisurely in the future, while the latter… still manages to squeak in, after a fashion. See our bonus at the end.
« You know, the kids had quarrelled, so they’re taken off to see a corpse, which is decayed and completely hanging. It was parody. » — Gorey, interviewed by Clifford Ross (1994)
Oh, and if you should find yourself in the vicinity of in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, do drop by the Edward Gorey House!
Pete was born in Washington, D.C. on February 13, 1942, which makes him the doyen of the group. Like Mike “Wool Hat” Nesmith, he was a musician first, likely the group’s most instrumentally proficient. Peter wound up auditioning for the tv show after his name was suggested by Stephen Stills, who wasn’t quite right for the part… but definitely a good sport.
Peter and his fellow Monkees were featured in their own Dell comic book (is there any greater honour?), which lasted from March, 1967 to October, 1969, seventeen issues in all (with some reprinting.) That was one of Dell’s few savvy moves in their waning days, and one of their few readable titles outside John Stanley‘s output.
Update: Peter Tork passed away on Thursday, February 21, 2019, barely a week beyond his 77th birthday. Au revoir, Peter!
« On New Year’s Eve the whole world celebrates the fact that a date changes. Let us celebrate the dates on which we change the world. » — Akilnathan Logeswaran
Earlier this month, as we showcased Justin Green’s Musical Legends, I mentioned that I was reserving one of the strips for a special occasion, and it has come.
« Shedding light on past and present musicians — and there are countless possibilities — is a real challenge. But when it works, the comic vision can change the listening experience. » Justin Green, from his Authoroonist Acknowledgements & Apologies (2004).
This entry stands out from its brethren in that the artist was personally involved in, or more precisely a witness to, the events depicted. In addition, no famous or semi-famous musical figure occupies the spotlight; instead, we get a gentle, low-key, soulful anecdote.
Who’s Out There has had a good year, and so we thank all of you readers around the world (and I do mean around the world: according to WordPress’ statistics, comics fans visited us from a whopping eighty-three countries these past twelve months) and wish each of you a wonderful, or at the very least better, year 2019.
« My father had a lifelong interest in helping musicians. I even encountered his presence when reading the autobiography of Anita O’Day. She said that there was a real estate man in Chicago who always made sure her band had a place to stay. That was Pop. » – Justin Green
How did Justin Green, one of the Founding Fathers of the Underground Comix movement, wind up holding down a regular feature for a decade (1992-2002) in Tower Records‘ in-house magazine, Pulse!? The whole chain of events began with a strip about his dad’s drinking. Of course.
While Green isn’t a native virtuoso draftsman like, say, R. Crumb or Rick Griffin, and he’s only fair-to-middling when it comes to likenesses, he *is* a born storyteller, and that’s really what’s most needed for an endeavour of this nature. Compressing a lifetime, or at least a career, into a single-page strip (two at the most!) is remarkably tricky and demanding, and if it looks deceptively easy here, he’s succeeded.
In selecting strips for this post, I didn’t lean towards my own favourite musicians, opting instead for what I felt were the strongest pieces, regardless of topic. However, I’m reserving my very favourite for a special New Year’s Eve post. Hope you enjoyed these musical time capsules! If you did, you’ll be happy to learn that the fine folks at Last Gaspcollected the set in 2003.
« Here, plainly, was a guy for whom cartooning held no mysteries. He was more than a master; he was a virtuoso, a source, an innovator whose style was completely natural and original and flexible enough to embrace dashed-off vulgarity and painstaking elegance, often in the same panel. » — Jim Woodring on Jack Davis
Here we are, coming to the end of our countdown (or count-up, depending on your point of view), and who better to convey the magic of Hallowe’en than the late, great Jack Davis (1924-2016)? Don’t answer that. 😉
« A 1959 collection of humorous horror songs by Alice Pearce and Hans Conried, Monster Rally (LPM/LSP-1923) sports a classic Davis painting – blending horror and humor into what amounts to a cutely-weird piece of art. Davis has mentioned that this scene is one he really enjoying doing and that he was quite pleased with. An ad for this album in issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland from back then read ”An insane and fantastically entertaining album featuring Hans Conried and Alice Pearce, singing and screaming ghoulish new songs like ‘Monster Rally’, ‘The Thing‘, ‘The Invisible Man‘, ‘Not of This Earth‘ and others. The album cover by Jack Davis is a masterpiece – suitable for framing.” » Excerpted from Dick Voll‘s article Just for the Record: The LP Cover Art of Jack Davis (Fanfare no. 5, Summer 1983; edited and published by Bill Spicer).
And here are a mittful of extras, since I’m more inclined to treat than to trick on this special day.
In closing, thanks for bearing with all my divagations through this second edition of WOT’s Hallowe’en Countdown, and let me wish you a most spooky Hallowe’en, one and all!
« Unless you’re some kind of masochist, I would imagine that you’d like to begin your plant experience with the easy, almost impossible-to-kill group. »
A sunny reminder of some of the plant world’s myriad of virtues, from 1973’s Mother Earth’s Hassle-free Indoor Plant Book by Lynn and Joel Rapp, a terrific little tome that bears the probably unique distinction of having yielded its own soundtrack. Not only that, but its own *excellent* soundtrack, Mother Earth’s Plantasia by Canadian-born songwriter, producer and electronic music pioneer Mort Garson. The LP was distributed through one of the wackiest marketing schemes I’ve ever encountered: it was given away with the purchase of a Simmons mattress from Sears. Uh?
I see Plantasia’s even been reissued a few years back on fancy 180 gram vinyl. But you can hear it in its entirety without making the considerable financial investment, thanks to this lovely tribute on the Music Is My Sanctuary blog.
The book (and LP booklet) are illustrated by « Marvelous » Marvin Rubin… who quite deserves the sobriquet, if you ask me.