Thursday, December 05, 2013

BearManorBlog: New Book - FROZEN IN ICE

BearManorBlog: New Book - FROZEN IN ICE: We are pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of FROZEN IN ICE: THE STORY OF WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS, 1966-1985 by Mark Arnold. ...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frozen in Ice Book Makes a Great Holiday Gift!

I want to remind everyone that my new book is out and makes a great holiday gift for anyone on your Disney shopping list! If you liked Leonard Maltin's "The Disney Films", you'll love this. I have to say that this is a reference book featuring the films of the period and not a book of interviews as many have seemed to expect or want. I may return to this subject later and do an interview book, but right now I am in the midst of my DePatie-Freleng book doing interviews for that.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Michael Ventrella Interview with Me!

Interview with author Mark Arnold

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing author Mark Arnold today. Mark is a comic book and animation historian, and has had many articles published in various publications. Arnold He has a BA in Broadcast Communication Arts from San Francisco State and has published “The Harveyville Fun Times!” since 1990. His books include IF YOU’RE CRACKED, YOU’RE HAPPY: THE STORY OF CRACKED MAGAZINE, THE BEST OF THE HARVEYVILLE FUN TIMES, MARK ARNOLD PICKS ON THE BEATLES, and CREATED AND PRODUCED BY TOTAL TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS. His most recent is FROZEN IN ICE; THE STORY OF WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS 1966 – 1985. He has also produced and recorded DVD commentaries for Shout! Factory and has helped the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum with various art shows.
Mark, how did you first get involved in writing?
MARK ARNOLD: I always liked writing since I was very young. I learned how to read and write probably around age four. I was plopped down in front of “Sesame Street” the day it debuted at age 2½ and by the time I entered pre-school I know I could read and probably write.
VENTRELLA: What sparked your interest in comics?
ARNOLD: Comic books were always around the house. I always enjoyed the pictures and liked them more once I knew how to read them. I also always had an interest in animated cartoons and movies and everything kind of just blossomed from there.
VENTRELLA: There are lots of comic book historians dealing with superhero comics (which I, admittedly, never got into) but fewer dealing with the humorous comics (which I read a lot of). Why do you think that is?
ARNOLD: I don’t know. I guess others identify with superheroes or aspire to be them. I always liked superheroes to a point, but always wanted a little humor behind them like on the “Batman” TV show with Adam West. I always wanted to laugh. I started off with Harvey Comics and other funny animal books and then graduated to Archie Comics and then superheroes. I shouldn’t say graduated actually, because I never stopped reading the Harveys and the Archies, I just added to my reading. Over time, as superheroes got more realistic, I found them to be more boring and eventually I stopped reading them, but I still admire the DC comics from the Golden Age and the Marvel comics from the Silver Age. HarveyvilleI’m even disinterested in the live-action movies they make these days, but I eventually see them just to keep up, but my favorite comic book stuff was and is humor comics, especially those done by Harvey and Archie and Gold Key and humor magazines like Mad and Cracked, etc.
VENTRELLA: What was your first book?
ARNOLD: My first book was THE BEST OF THE HARVEYVILLE FUN TIMES! which featured reprints from my long-running Harvey Comics fanzine (1990-2011). It was self-published as was the fanzine and was my attempt to see if I could actually publish a book.
VENTRELLA: How did you arrange the publishing?
ARNOLD: I went to the APE in 2005 and bought a book from someone that said it was published by Lulu. I had heard about Lulu, but what I didn’t know is that the books they publish look and feel like real books and have bar codes and ISBN numbers and everything. I published my first book through Lulu in 2006. Prior to that, I always dreamed about publishing a book, but felt that I didn’t have the connections or the funds to do it. Lulu.com made it easy, because all you really need is around $150 and Lulu prints what you need on demand and it gets listed on all the major book sites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble and you get an ISBN bar code. It doesn’t get into bookstores this way, but that’s no big deal as more and more people are buying books online anyway than in stores, but I did get it distributed through Diamond, who is the major distributor to comic book stores. It sold quite well, actually.
VENTRELLA: Tell us about BearManor Media.
ARNOLD: BearManor Media is also print on demand as is Lulu.com, but the difference is, you don’t have to format the book and do all the production work yourself. They do it for you. Your commission for each book sold is less than if you self-publish, but I feel that it is worth it, in order to not have to do all that stuff and stick with the creative end such as writing. BearManor’s focus is on pop culture books, so if you want to write a novel, they are not the publisher for you, but there are others that do focus on fiction and they can help those wanting to get published. Check Google to find out who.
VENTRELLA: You’ve also written the Cracked magazine history. Did you get assistance with that from Cracked? Did anyone from the magazine object?
ARNOLD: I went to the current owners of Cracked.com, the website that is owned by Demand Media. They really didn’t care that I was doing a history of Cracked magazine. All they were interested in was whether I was reprinting anything from the website, which I wasn’t. CrackedIn fact, I told them I wasn’t interested in discussing the website at all except for the fact that it needed to be mentioned in the history to say what happened to Cracked after it ceased publishing as a print magazine. I got no assistance from the current owners and did not interview any of them. I got the most assistance from Mort Todd, who was editor of Cracked magazine from 1985-1990 and he helped design and layout the book cover using new artwork from the great John Severin.
VENTRELLA: What do you think of their current web page, which is not at like the magazine?
ARNOLD: I actually do like the website and the two books that they have published with material from it, but it really isn’t Cracked. The funny thing is that the current owners paid a big amount (I think it was in the millions) and basically ended up with a name, since all the films from the old magazines had to be destroyed after anthrax was sent to the National Enquirer offices in Boca Raton, Florida where the films of the old Cracked magazine issues just happened to be housed. This was the same anthrax that hit the world news shortly after 9/11 and at least one person died as a result. If someone was to do a “Best of Cracked” now, they would have to get permission from Demand Media to do so, and they would also have to scan all the old issues or the original artwork in order to do it. I am trying to work on this as we speak.
VENTRELLA: Your latest book, FROZEN IN ICE, is about the Disney films in one of their darkest and least successful eras. What made you decide to look at those years?
ARNOLD: Those were the years that I grew up and I didn’t have problems with the films as others have. I actually enjoyed Disney during the 1970s, especially the gimmick films which I dubbed the “dopey Disney comedies”, where they took some premise like invisibility or the goose that laid golden eggs and ran with it. I didn’t necessarily think that the Disney of the 1950s or 1960s was that much different. The animation was different with the Xeroxing, but Disney had this nice habit of reissuing all of their old product, so it seemed like these old cartoons like “Snow White” and “Pinocchio” were fresh and new to me. Also, many books about Disney tended to say something like: “And then Walt Disney died and after a few years, Michael Eisner took over and revitalized the company.” I wanted to cover the years that always seemed to be glossed over by most Disney history books.
VENTRELLA: For those of us of a certain age, this book brings back many memories, since these were always kid-friendly films my Mom could safely take me to. I was surprised at how many were familiar. Did you rewatch all of these films to write this?
ARNOLD: Yes I did. There are approximately 75 new theatrical Disney films that they released during the time period covered and even in this day of mass marketed DVDs, it’s amazing that there are a few of them that just are not on home video in any form. I was still able to secure copies, but it took some doing.
VENTRELLA: Which ones stick out as particularly better or worse than you thought they’d be?
ARNOLD: When I was a kid, I was never a fan of the nature films. I felt like I was in school. As an adult rewatching them, I was amazed at how well done some of them are like “Rascal” (1969) or “Run, Cougar, Run” (1972). Others were as bad as I expected like “Scandalous John” (1971) and others like “Smith!” (1969) were actually surprisingly good. I never saw the last two as a kid. One example that I particularly like was “The Littlest Horse Thieves” which was released in the US in 1976. It is a surprisingly good film and grossly overlooked, then as now.
VENTRELLA: Your analysis of the films is pretty straightforward, although you do give personal comments at times. Why did you decide not to be more subjective?
ARNOLD: I was following in the format of Leonard Maltin’s THE DISNEY FILMS, but I put my own spin on it. Frozen in IceI didn’t want to be too dry but I did follow Maltin’s format of film synopsis and commentary. Some have complained that there might be too much synopses in the book, but it is a reference book, not a straight narrative and I wanted people to use it in tandem with Maltin’s work which ends its detailed coverage of films in 1967.
VENTRELLA: Was the main problem with Disney at the time the “What Would Walt Do?” mentality? Did it keep them from progressing?
ARNOLD: Initially, the “What would Walt do?” mentality worked well for them. Walt had left such a wealth of unfinished ideas and had such a talented staff that everything ran kind of like a well-oiled machine running on auto pilot for the first few years after his death. The company was very profitable during these years (1967-1975), but by the end of that period came the end of Walt’s ideas. Then the big movie release of “Star Wars” in 1977 and that really did them in. Movies for kids had started to change and improve with higher production values, but Disney was slow to change with it. By the time they did, Walt Disney Productions was in serious trouble. Their official answer in 1979, “The Black Hole” was somewhat disappointing, even though the film has its moments and its fans.
VENTRELLA: You also discuss Disney’s other projects during this time, although not in the great detail in which you discuss the films. Why do you think that is important?
ARNOLD: The films were what made Walt Disney Productions. I do mention what happened at the Disney parks and TV shows, comic books and record albums. I don’t go into a lot of detail because there are other books that go into each of these areas in greater detail and those are mentioned in my bibliography if people want to research this period further.
VENTRELLA: I founded and edited a magazine called Animato! during that period. We were thrilled when “The Black Cauldron” came out, mostly because back then we’d be excited if any animated feature was released since they were so rare. Why do you think Disney ignores that film now? Was it that bad?
ARNOLD: I love Animato! and wished it still existed. I have every issue!
Actually, I didn’t mention “The Black Cauldron” when you asked about films that I felt are better now than when I first saw them. It’s still not a great film, but I liked it a lot better when I viewed it back in 1985. I think that because there was such a long gap between Disney animated films back then, there was higher anticipation for each film, especially when it was a Disney cartoon and that one took an especially long time to get finished and released.
Nowadays, it seems, there is a new CGI film released each week by any number of studios and unfortunately, they are all starting to look the same. It’s a group of animals or birds or cars or monsters or toys that have to overcome some obstacle and they are happy at the end. It used to be an individual on a quest. Now it’s all of these groups. It was James Bond. Now, it’s The Expendables. There are some good ones now, but unfortunately, a lot of bad ones and many of those are made by Disney.
I think Disney doesn’t think too highly of “The Black Cauldron” because it’s not based on a classic fairy tale and it’s slightly bit gorier than other Disney films being the first PG-rated animated Disney film. Also, at the time and now, it was hard to market that film. Total TelevisionThere wasn’t a lot of merchandise, the characters didn’t walk around Disneyland and it was released during a time of transition and Michael Eisner really wanted to sweep it under the carpet and work on animated films that he was planning like “The Great Mouse Detective” rather than looking backwards. It’s taken Robert Iger to embrace the Disney past better with a newer Love Bug and Witch Mountain films. “The Black Cauldron” is still kind of lost in the shuffle, but so have latter day Disney films like “Brother Bear” and “Dinosaur”.
VENTRELLA: You also wrote a book analyzing Beatles songs. What led you to do that, when there are so many Beatles books on the market now?
ARNOLD: My book covered every Beatles song, group and solo, released and unreleased. With the era of illegal downloading and YouTube, it is now easier than ever to listen to unreleased Beatles songs. I felt that a guide was needed and that was sort of a vanity project for me. For MARK ARNOLD PICKS ON THE BEATLES, I self-published once again with Lulu and got a lot of my friends in the cartoon and animation fields to submit Beatles drawings like Bill Morrison and Patrick Owsley. It was a fun project to do because I love listening to the Beatles music so much. I know The Beatles keep releasing “new” product like “The BBC Sessions, Volume 2”, the songs off which I’ve owned on a bootleg for years, but for me, it’s old news. Ultimately, I have to confess, it has been my worst seller and I’ve concluded that people would rather listen to Beatles music that read about it. I don’t know how most of these other books fare. I’m sure some do well, but probably many do not and are releasing a Beatles book in hopes of making a quick buck.
VENTRELLA: What do you offer in that Beatles book that is different from all the others?
ARNOLD: As I said, it’s my own opinions about the songs and I add my own sense of humor. Most people dis or completely ignore Ringo, for example. I’ve called him in the book “the Yoko of The Beatles.” I also give a ratings systems that ranks from four Beatles down to one and the few songs that do rate a zero star is represented by Pete Best. It’s all in fun and I had a blast doing it. I also have an “intermission” in the middle of the book where I discuss the comic books on Paul’s Hammond organ stand as featured in “Help!” With the help of the Grand Comics Database and Jerry Beck and Lee Hester, I was able to determine which comics were on the easeL. I offered the article to “Beatlefan” and they turned it down, so I used it for my book.
VENTRELLA: Do you plan on attending any Beatles conventions to promote that book? (There’s a big one just outside of NYC that I attend almost every year…)
ARNOLD: Strangely, Beatles conventions on the West Coast are not very common. There’s finally going to be one on in Los Angeles in late 2014 after none for many, many years. I might do that one, or I might just attend it. I’ve never attended an East Coast show and certainly never have exhibited on the East Coast. I have been to New York a few times, most recently for my own Harvey Art Show at the MoCCA in 2009, which did have my Harvey book for sale.
VENTRELLA: How do you promote your work?
ARNOLD: Initially, I promoted my work when I started “The Harveyville Fun Times!” in 1990 by attending the San Diego Comic Convention and getting mentioned in the Overstreet “Comic Book Price Guide.” I’ve never had a ton of money for promotion, but I did take out ads in “Comic Buyer’s Guide” and other publications that no longer exist that resulted in a good subscriber base.
When email and the Internet came along, I developed an email list and had a website very early on, like around 1995 or 1996 and promoted things that way.Beatles Later, I started a blog and still write on it to this day every so often.
Currently, for my books, I have used Facebook as my prime way of promotion and I pay a guy named Jon Guerzon to help me promote things all around the Internet as I don’t have as much time as I used to in order to promote and write and do the other stuff that I do. I have a Facebook page for each of my books and my email signature promotes my books and I promote myself when I write for magazines like “Back Issue” and still have my email list. I also print up postcards through Next Day Flyers and distribute them through the mail and at shows.
BearManor now does much better promotion than they used to and they also print up postcards and mail them out and take out print ads in various targeted magazines.
VENTRELLA: Although I advise fiction writers on my blog to never self-publish, there is no stigma attached to non-fiction self-publishing (and I have done that myself with my gaming books). What advice do you have to writers about self-publishing (if any)?
ARNOLD: If you want your book to be in a brick-and-mortar store, please be aware that if you do any print on demand publishers like BearManor or services like Lulu.com, that most bookstores will not carry your book. You will have to contact each bookstore or bookstore chain independently and they probably will ask you to pay a consignment fee for carrying your book, so it might not even be worth doing. In this day of Amazon, I find it almost unnecessary to be in a bookstore, but if you do have a book that you want to be distributed, Diamond will carry self-published books and distribute them to bookstores, but they have to sell a certain amount and Diamond has to approve the listing, which can be trickier with fiction than with non-fiction about a known quantity like Disney or The Beatles.
Now, if you get involved with a larger publisher like say Random House, you will get in the bookstores, but now you have to face the problem of your book not selling and then being returned and then going out of print and the remaining stock sold as remainder stock at a loss. So, there are hurdles either way you go.
VENTRELLA: Where do you see the future of publishing heading?
ARNOLD: I think books will coexist as both print items and digital items. The important thing is if you have a passion for writing and want to get your work out there, things are easier now than they ever have been to get published or to publish yourself. It still helps to know people and also to learn so you know what you’re doing, but gone are the days where you had to pay a publisher to print 1000 copies of your book only to have them sit in your garage gathering dust. There’s no need to have stock anymore. You can even publish solely in an ebook format or online. It’s up to you. The harder part is making a lot of money at it. If that’s the only reason you are writing or publishing a book, you might as well stop now, because you will be very disappointed. The odds of success there are still the same unless you come up with a story about a boy learning to become a witch or teen vampires that fall in love with each other or anything about zombies.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another Article of Mine in Back Issue #69!

I have another article in the 10th Anniversary issue of "Back Issue". This one is about Harvey Comics anniversary issues, "The Friendly Ghost Casper" #200 and "Richie Rich" #200 in particular. It should be available at your local comic book store now or soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

McCartney's New...Whew!

I bought Paul McCartney's "New" album and whew! it's a relief to say that it is good. I think wife #3 is a good influence. Gone is the lameness of the songs from "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" and especially "Driving Rain". This album hits hard with strong, concise songs. The only weak point is still Paul's voice, but it is better here than on the standards album "Kisses on the Bottom". I think Paul should realize that he's 71 years old and that he really can't hit the high notes very well anymore. When he sings in a lower register, he's still sounds the same. On "Kisses" he sang most of the songs on a higher scale for some reason and came across sounding like Carol Channing. Here, with a couple of exceptions, he avoids the high voice ballads and sings the rockers with his good, lower voice.

Is it McCartney's best? No, but it is certainly one of his better albums and that's saying a lot from me who only listened to the album once. Sometimes, I hate a McCartney album until I've heard it four or five times. This one is good right away. That means it should get even better with every listen.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy 50th Birthday, Tennessee Tuxedo!

Happy 50th Birthday to Tennessee Tuxedo. The first episode of "Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales" called "Mixed-Up Mechanics" aired 50 years ago today on CBS!



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Well, Two out of Three Ain't Bad

There are things I look for and am very happy once I find them. Three are listed below. Two of them, The 1972 Sesame Street Calendar and King-Sized Cracked #4 I found very cheaply! The first was free; the second about $10 with shipping. The third is still illusive to me. If you have one, please let me know. It is the Ringo Starr Vertical Man Best Buy Bonus Disc. I have the songs, but I would like the original CD of this. Please contact me at funideas.mark@gmail.com if you have one for sale or trade.



Jack Davis in Sick

Prior to returning to Mad in 1965, Jack Davis made the rounds at other humor magazines, having tenures at Trump, Humbug, Cracked, Panic and finally Sick before returning to the fold. I recently scanned some images from various issues of Sick circa 1962-1964 for Hank Harrison and I present them to you now since they are kind of rare in comparison to Davis' work elsewhere.
 
The first is from Sick 16 and is the rejected cover artwork from the same issue.

 
Next is from Sick 19's back cover.

 
Next is Sick 26 utilizing artwork from a Davis Christmas card. 

 
Finally, Sick 42 with another Christmas card.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Frozen in Ice Interview by Didier Ghez

Didier Ghez is a Disney fan and historian and interviewed me recently about my upcoming book about Disney called "Frozen in Ice". His Disney History blog is at http://disneybooks.blogspot.com/

This upcoming book intrigued me and I decided to send its author a few questions.

Didier Ghez: When and why did you decide to write this book?

Mark Arnold: I had the idea for quite awhile because of my frustrations with Leonard Maltin's "The Disney Films" and where it concluded. He kept updating his book, but gave little coverage to anything post-Walt, only going into late 1967. I discovered that there were many other projects that Walt was involved with that were released in 1968 and many even later than that. Also, many projects that Walt had nothing to do with were and are still worthy of the name Disney.
I was born in 1966 on the exact same day and year that Walt Disney died. The Disney of the 1970s and 1980s are what I grew up with. Walt Disney was just a founder, and I didn't identify with what he was doing, except when they reissued older films. I identified with what was currently going on, and I enjoyed most of it, but today this period is dismissed as being bad and unwatchable. Not true.
It was after my two-volume book "If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The History of Cracked Mazagine" that I was searching for another book to write and started writing "Frozen in Ice" even before I had a publishing agreement figuring I would get one in time, and I did.

DG: Could you describe the kind of research you conducted in order to write it?

MA: Of course, the Maltin book, plus many other books released over the years as well as viewing all 75+ films that were released during the period covered in the book. I also read my back issues of "Disney News" and read other books and saw videos containing interviews with the stars of the films as well as obtaining facts from various online sources such as IMDB. I also visited the Walt Disney Family Museum to see if they had any more information.

DG: Did you spend time interviewing some of the people who worked at the Studio and at WED at the time?

MA: I was initially going to do formal interviews like I did with my other books, but found that there were so many interviews and commentaries in existence, most of that work was already done for me. I have met many Disney stars over the years and many times they repeated the same stories I read or heard in other interviews. I didn't think that the living stars would shed any new light on what they've already said elsewhere by me interviewing them again. To most Disney stars, it was a job and as such they have limited memories about working there. Also, many of the stars of the period have now passed away as Disney tended to hire aging actors who couldn't get work elsewhere. It wasn't considered glamorous to be working on a Disney movie to many stars at that time.
The stars that I have met and talked about Disney with include Dick Van Patten, Tim Conway, Don Pedro Colley, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Ernest Borgnine and Jon Provost.
The only interview I really wanted to get was with Ron Miller. I did contact him through the Museum and through his winery, but my requests fell on deaf ears. I get the impression that he didn't want to relive the years that he was in charge very much, since the general opinion is that he helped ruin the studio, which isn't true.

DG: What are the main chapters of the book?

MA: Mainly it is set up like the Maltin book, but with one difference. I have a chapter covering each year. For instance, I'll cover 1968 and talk about everything that happened to Disney in that year including TV, comic books, records, theme parks, etc. and even include what didn't get released. Then I cover in detail as Maltin did, each film that came out that year. So, still using 1968 as an example, that includes "Blackbeard's Ghost", "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band", "Never a Dull Moment", "The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit" and "The Love Bug". For each film I write a detailed synopsis and then write a short review and include comments by the stars or interesting details about the production. Then, I start over again with 1969, going all the way up to 1985.
The reason I stopped at 1985 is that Disney as a company really changed from what it was once Michael Eisner took over in 1984. It was already in flux, but Eisner really dramatically changed it to the direction it is today and laid off the majority of any connections to the past. At this point, there's no going back. Disney is just too big. It is hard to believe there was a time where Disney wasn't doing too well and almost got bought out. I discuss all of this in detail.

DG: What are the key discoveries Disney historians and scholars can expect if they pick up this book?

MA: That the years 1966-1985 weren't as bad as people remember for Disney. They did some memorable stuff like "The Love Bug", "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and "Freaky Friday" and even "Tron".  Sure, they had some doggy films, but they did also when Walt was alive and certainly after Eisner took over. In fact, there's probably more of them since Disney releases so much more stuff nowadays.
The book is 550 pages and has photo images of movie posters, and is designed to be a thorough description of the history of the period from 1966-1985.
After I'm done, I will resume work on my book about DePatie-Freleng (Pink Panther).

Saturday, August 03, 2013

I Get It! I Get It!

My friend Lee and I are always commenting on the fact that sometimes you see or hear something over and over and don't really get the "in joke" or reference until many weeks, months or even years later. For example, the newest Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream logo. I had looked it at dozens of times while driving by it before I saw that there was a "31" within the "BR". Very clever!

Also, many people don't know the puns of certain comic strip names, like "Andy Capp". This was a UK comic strip that ran in the US about a man who liked to frequent the pubs and was always drunk. It wasn't until later that I realized the pun of "handicap" for the strip's name. Ha ha ha! Again, very clever.

Here's an example that has taken me 30 years to realize. Some have figured it out much sooner than I after doing a cursory look in the Internet. In 1983, Paul McCartney released an album entitled "Pipes of Peace". On it, there's a song called "The Other Me". At the time, most US reviewers massacred the song's lyrics citing the line "and I acted like a dustbin lid" as a very poor example of lyric writing. I now realize that this was Cockney rhyming slang.

Granted, I live in the US and although a pretty good anglophile, I did not hear of Cockney rhyming slang until the third Austin Powers movie called "Goldmember" where Michael Caine, in portraying Austin's father, explained what Cockney rhyming slang was.

Today, I was watching "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", a great UK comedy from 1976 that I've seen many times before, but never really "watched" it. I have purchased a number of DVD sets of various TV shows that I've liked over the years and now make it a point to really watch every episode and pay attention to them. I'm sure I saw the third episode of this series before, but never really paid attention what Reggie's grown son was saying.

In the episode, he spouts off some Cockney rhyming slang and says "dustbin lid". He explains that he meant "kid", referring to his sister's children in the episode. Ironically, way back when "The Other Me" came out, my friend Ed said that "and I acted like a little kid" would have been a much better line than "dustbin lid".

I always assumed that McCartney meant dustbin lid as being kind of "open and shut" like a dustbin lid. Obviously now, this is not the case. He was using Cockney rhyming slang and was meaning "little kid".

That is the frustrating thing about McCartney sometimes for us Yanks. He is so immersed in being English or British that he puts lyrics like that throughout his songs. Lennon and the rest really abandoned that practice, mainly because Lennon and Starr moved to the US and even Harrison spent an appreciable amount of time here (in Hawaii) in his retirement years. McCartney does own homes here, but he really likes to remain quintessentially British, and it is reflected in his work with and without The Beatles. And of course, he's the only Beatle that's been knighted.

How about you? Is there something that you saw many, many times that you now have just "got"? Please let me know. I'd be curious to know what other people think.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monster Memories with Ray Bradbury

I got my first article published in Dennis Druktenis' great and long-running magazine called Scary Monsters. Once a year, he does a yearbook of new material inclusive of the Scary Monsters numbering called Monster Memories #86. My article is about my memories of meeting the late, great Ray Bradbury at Comic Con International over the years. If you have a chance to, pick it up at your local comic book store or Barnes & Noble if they still have it on sale. Scary Monsters #87 is already out, so this one may be gone. You can also try Amazon or Ebay. In any case, it's always a great magazine and you should get every issue. Currently, I'm working on an article for Dennis about the monster magazines published by Cracked. I'll announce it here, soon.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rare Pink Panther and Misterjaw Puppets

Probably the rarest thing in my collection. So rare, it is no longer in my collection. Pink Panther and Misterjaw sponge puppets courtesy of Avon. I got these in 1976 and never used them and stored them well, but by 1994 they were literally rotting and deteriorating to dust. I grabbed my camera and took these farewell photos before I had to throw them away. I believe that there was also a bar of soap (long gone) and they came in a box, but I no longer have that, either. I really liked the Misterjaw one as his mouth opened and he had sponge teeth.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Comic Creators Over 80 (3rd Revision)


Revision 3 – July 22, 2013

With this revision, I added a little bio of what each person is best known. This is probably the last revision I will do for awhile.

I'm trying to compile an updated list of anyone who's in the comic book and comic strip business who is over 80 and still alive. I don't know if this is complete and in some cases, I don't know if it's accurate. If you see someone who should or shouldn't be on this list, please advise. Also, steer away from animation or children's book artists and writers unless they also worked in comic books or comic strips. Also, help with birth years would be great, too!

Brad Anderson – 1924 (Marmaduke)
Murphy Anderson – 1926 (DC, Hawkman, Superman)
Dick Ayers – 1924 (Marvel, Sgt. Fury)
Ken Bald – 1920 (Dr. Kildare, Dark Shadows)
Sy Barry – 1928 (The Phantom)
Allen Bellman – 1924 (Marvel, Timely)
Vivian S. Minanel Berg – 1923 (artist, wife of Dave Berg)
Frank Bolle – 1924 (Apartment 3-G, Juliet Jones)
Bob Bolling – 1928 (Archie, Little Archie)
Leonard Brenner – 1932 (Mad)
John Bulthuis – birth year? (Archie, Stanmor, Trojan)
Orlando Busino – 1926 (gag cartoonist)
Dick Cavalli – 1923 (Winthrop, Morty Meekle)
Nick Cardy – 1920 (DC, Aquaman, Teen Titans, Marvel)
Nat Champlin – 1919 (Fawcett, Street & Smith)
Jack Chick – 1924 (Chick Tracks)
Paul Coker, Jr. – 1929 (Mad, Rankin/Bass)
Ernie Colon – 1931 (Harvey, Richie Rich, Marvel)
Anthony D'Adamo – birth year? (various magazines, Newsday)
Jack Davis – 1924 (EC, Mad, TV Guide, Time, RCA)
Gene Deitch – 1924 (Terrytoons, Tom Terrific, Terr’ble Thompson)
Jose Delbo – 1933 (DC, Wonder Woman, Batman)
Jay Disbrow – 1926 (Iger Studios, Sheena, Aroo)
Roy Doty – 1922 (Wordless Workshop, gag cartoonist)
Steve Ditko – 1927 (Marvel, Spider-Man)
Mort Drucker – 1929 (Bob Hope, Mad)
Jerry Dumas – 1930 (Sam’s Strip)
Hy Eisman – 1927 (Bunny, Katzenjammer Kids, Popeye)
Marty Elkin – 1928 (Harwell, Marvel, Farrell)
Jules Feiffer – 1929 (Feiffer, gag cartoonist)
Al Feldstein – 1925 (EC, Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Mad)
Bertram Fitzgerald – 1932 (Golden Legacy, Fast Willie Jackson)
Hy Fleishman – 1927 (Atlas, Marvel, Lev Gleason)
Frank Fletcher – 1919 (Harvey)
Ramonda Fradon – 1926 (Brenda Starr)
Fred Fredericks – 1929 (Mandrake)
Bob Fujitani – 1920 (DC)
Paul Fung, Jr. – 1923 (Blondie)
Ted Galindo – 1927 (Prize, Atlas, Marvel)
Joe Giella – 1928 (DC, Green Lantern)
Frank Giusto – 1926 (Ace)
Sam Glanzman – 1924 (Charlton, Hercules)
Bob Globerman – birth year? (Lev Gleason)
Stan Goldberg – 1932 (Archie)
Sam Gross – 1933 (National Lampoon)
Stan Harfenist – birth year? (Harvey)
Irwin Hasen – 1918 (Dondi)
Russ Heath – 1926 (Marvel, DC, EC)
Hugh Hefner – 1926 (Playboy, Trump)
Tom Hickey – 1910 alive? (DC, Harvey, Lev Gleason)
Frank Hill – 1929 (Dennis the Menace, Short Ribs)
Lee Holley – 1932 (Dennis the Menace, Ponytail)
Fran Hopper – 1922 (Fiction House)
Fred Iger – 1924 (American Comics Group)
Jim Ivey – 1925 (Creepy, Monsters and Heroes)
Frank Jacobs – 1929 (Mad)
Sid Jacobson – 1929 (Harvey, Star)
Al Jaffee – 1921 (Marvel, Mad, Humbug)
Harvey Janes – birth year?
Frank B. Johnson – 1931 (Boner’s Ark, Charlton)
Sydney Jordan – 1928 (Dick Hercules, Jeff Hawke)
Jack Katz – 1927 (The First Kingdom)
Mel Keefer – 1926 (DC, Strange Adventures)
Fred Kida – 1920 (Airboy)
Everett Kinstler – 1926 (Atlas, Marvel, Dell)
Tom Koch – 1925 (Mad, TV writer)
Ed Konick – birth year? (Charlton)
Mel Lazarus – 1927 (Momma, Miss Peach)
Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Leiber) – 1922 (Timely, Atlas, Marvel)
Larry Lieber – 1931 (Marvel, Atlas, brother of Stan Lee)
Dick Locher – 1929 (Dick Tracy)
Bob Lubbers – 1922 (Fiction House, Secret Agent X-9)
George Mandel – 1920 (gag cartoon writer)
Cal Massey – 1927 (Cross, Superior, Timely, Atlas)
Shigeru Mizuki – 1922 (Manga, Anime)
Tom Moore – 1928 (Archie)
Matt Murphy – 1923 (alive?) (Harvey)
Jack O’Brien – 1922 (alive?) (Harvey, Sad Sack, gag cartoonist)
George Olesen – 1924 (The Phantom)
Don Orehek – 1928 (Cracked, Playboy, gag cartoonist)
Jose Ortiz – 1932 (Warren, Vampirella)
Bill Oughton – 1926
Mac Pakula – birth year? (Atlas, Marvel)
Don Perlin – 1929 (Marvel, Werewolf by Night, Defenders, Ghost Rider)
Jay Scott Pike – 1924 (Marvel, DC)
Paul Peter Porges – 1927 (Mad)
Al Plastino – 1921 (DC, Superman, Nancy)
Quino (JoaquĆ­n Salvador Lavado) – 1932 (gag cartoonist, Mafalda)
Lily Renee – 1925 (Fiction House)
Arnold Roth – 1929 (Humbug, Playboy, National Lampoon)
John Romita, Sr. – 1930 (Marvel)
Gaspar Saladino – 1926 (Marvel, DC, logo designer, letterer)
Ken Selig – 1924 (Harvey, Archie)
Joy Seligsohn – 1927 (wife of Zeke)
Zeke Seligsohn – birth year? (husband of Joy)
Marie Severin – 1929 (EC, Marvel, sister of John Severin)
Larry Siegel – 1925 (Mad, TV writer)
Ed Silverman – 1924 (Hillman, Ziff-Davis)
Joe Sinnott – 1926 (Marvel, Fantastic Four)
Dan Spiegle – 1920 (Marvel, DC, Gold Key)
Leonard Starr – 1925 (Little Orphan Annie, On Stage)
Tony Tallarico – 1933 (Dell, Lobo, Cracked, Crazy)
Dexter Taylor – birth year? (Little Archie)
Frank Thorne – 1930 (Marvel, Red Sonja)
Angelo Torres – 1932 (EC, Mad)
Morrie Turner – 1923 (Wee Pals, Kid Power)
Albert Uderzo – 1927 (Asterix)
Mort Walker – 1923 (Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois)
James Warren – 1930 (Warren)
Morris Weiss – 1915 (Quality)
Gahan Wilson – 1930 (Playboy, National Lampoon)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mick Jagger is 70!

Well, folks, today's the day, Mick Jagger is 70! And unlike people like Paul McCartney and John Lennon, he still has his voice and is still alive! I hope he lives another 30 years. Partner Keith Richards turns the big 7-0 in December if you can believe it, since he's looked about 100 for about 20 years...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Today's Oddball Purchase

Seems strange to me that The Pink Panther would have an album of songs at all, much less a country music album, but here it is. It's a picture disc no less. Very strange. Haven't listened to it yet (yes, I still have a turntable). Stranger still is the back cover image showing The Pink Panther as an American Indian with full headdress dancing around The Inspector and Deux Deux tied to a post.

Songs include: Dixie, The Yellow Rose of Texas and of course, the ever-popular Panther Picker...

It came out in 1982.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alter Ego #120

"Alter Ego" #120 comes out next month. I saw a copy at Comic Con in San Diego. It also has an obituary by me, this one on Sid Couchey. It's kind of sad to write these things, but I'm honored to have been given the opportunity.

Alter Ego #119

Here's "Alter Ego" #119 featuring an obit for Paul Laikin written by me. This issue is chock full of good stuff as usual, but if you want to see another piece of my writing, check this issue out. On sale now!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lou Scheimer Filmation Book Review

 
Years ago, Michael Swanigan and Darrell McNeil issued a book called "Animation by Filmation", which essentially was the first book covering the history of the Saturday morning TV production giant. That book was and still is indispensable. However, it is incomplete and contains many errors.
 
The advantage of Andy Mangels' "Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation" is that it covers the entire story first hand and directly from the source. Although Lou was partnered with Norm Prescott for a number of years and with Hal Sutherland, it was Scheimer that was there during Filmation's remarkable 25+ year reign and beyond and is still with us today.
 
After I wrote my book, "Created and Produced by Total TeleVision productions: The Story of Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo and the Rest", I was looking around for another project to work on. After dismissing Hanna-Barbera and Rankin-Bass as they had been covered very well, I looked into Filmation. I abandoned my idea once I discovered that Mangels had already begun the project, which was fraught with delays. I had heard about his book in 2011 and it was already behind schedule even then.
 
I forgot about Mangels' book and went on to other projects until earlier in 2013 when animation greats Scott Shaw! and Darrell McNeil told me of the availability of Mangels' book. McNeil even went on to recommend purchasing the book through TwoMorrows' (the publisher) website as it includes a full-color digital copy at no additional charge.
 
As far as the contents go, I learned quite a bit. Admittedly, Filmation was not my favorite cartoon studio growing up. I preferred H-B, R-B and DePatie-Freleng much more. In fact, I'm working on a DFE book now.
 
While recycling animation was done as a cost-saving measure at Filmation, as a viewer, it made everything they did come off as cheap to me, not just in cost, but quality as well.
 
Hindsight really displays Filmation's charms. I did have my favorites even then (Fat Albert, Archie, Star Trek) and respect even more now (Superman, Aquaman, Jerry Lewis, He-Man, etc.)  
 
Mangels made the story told by Scheimer even more lush by filling out his memories of working on each of the shows with elaborate details and statistics and images to make this a must for any animation fan or scholar. It really puts the earlier Filmation book effort to shame (however, if you can find a copy of that earlier tome, it is still highly recommended for its multiple character model sheets and the fact that the book is virtually impossible to find.)
 
Mangels also gets Scheimer to speak at length about many projects that Filmation was considering over the years like a Marx Brothers animated series and why they didn't happen. He also discusses the largely forgotten Uncle Croc's Block show, which was also a personal favorite of mine, despite the fact that it was such a monumental flop for the ABC network that they refused to ever purchase a show ever again from Filmation as a result.
 
Great coverage is also presented of Scheimer's formative years as well as the successes and failures of Filmation and the ultimate end of the studio and what Scheimer has done since.
 
This is a must have book and I give it my highest recommendation.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Creators Over 80 - Revision 2 - July 17, 2013


Revision 2 – July 17, 2013
I'm trying to compile an updated list of anyone who's in the comic book and comic strip business who is over 80 and still alive. I don't know if this is complete and in some cases, I don't know if it's accurate. If you see someone who should or shouldn't be on this list, please advise. Also, steer away from animation or children's book artists and writers unless they also worked in comic books or comic strips. Also, help with birth years would be great, too!

Brad Anderson - 1924
Murphy Anderson - 1926
Dick Ayers - 1924

Ken Bald - 1920

Sy Barry - 1928
Allen Bellman - 1924

Vivian S. Minanel Berg - 1923
Frank Bolle - 1924
Bob Bolling - 1928

Leonard Brenner - birth year?
John Bulthuis - birth year?
Orlando Busino - 1926
Dick Cavalli - 1923
Nick Cardy - 1920

Nat Champlin - 1919
Hank Chapman - alive?

Jack Chick - 1924

Paul Coker, Jr. - 1929

Ernie Colon - 1931

Anthony D'Adamo - birth year?
Jack Davis - 1924

Gene Deitch - 1924
Jose Delbo - 1933

Jay Disbrow - 1926
Roy Doty - 1922
Steve Ditko - 1927

Mort Drucker - 1929

Jerry Dumas - 1930
Hy Eisman - 1927

Marty Elkin - birth year?
Jules Feiffer - 1929

Al Feldstein - 1925
Hy Fleishman - birth year?
Frank Fletcher - 1919
Ramonda Fradon - 1926

Fred Fredericks - 1929
Bob Fujitani - 1920
Paul Fung, Jr. - 1923
Ted Galindo - 1927
Joe Giella - 1928

Frank Giusto - 1926
Sam Glanzman - 1924
Bob Globerman - birth year?
Stan Goldberg - 1932

Sam Gross - 1933

Stan Harfenist - birth year?
Irwin Hasen - 1918

Russ Heath - 1926

Hugh Hefner - 1926
Vern Henkel - 1917
Tom Hickey - 1910 (pretty sure he’s dead)
Frank Hill - 1929

Lee Holley - 1932

Fran Hopper - 1922

Fred Iger - 1924
Jim Ivey - 1925
Frank Jacobs - 1929

Sid Jacobson - 1929

Al Jaffee - 1921

Harvey Janes - birth year?
Frank B. Johnson - 1931
Sydney Jordan - 1928
Jack Katz - 1927

Mel Keefer - 1926
Fred Kida - 1920

Everett Kinstler - 1926

Tom Koch - 1925

Ed Konick - birth year?
Mel Lazarus - 1927

Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Leiber) - 1922

Len Leone - birth year?
Larry Lieber - 1931

Dick Locher - 1929
Bob Lubbers - 1922
George Mandel - 1920
Cal Massey - 1927
Shigeru Mizuki - 1922
Tom Moore - 1928
Matt Murphy – 1923 (alive?)
Jack O’Brien - 1922 (alive?)
George Olesen - 1924
Don Orehek - 1928

Jose Ortiz - 1932
Bill Oughton - birth year?
Mac Pakula - birth year?
Don Perlin - 1929
Jay Scott Pike - 1924
Paul Peter Porges - 1927

Al Plastino - 1921

Quino - 1932
Lily Renee - 1925

Arnold Roth - 1929

John Romita, Sr. - 1930

Gaspar Saladino - 1926
Ken Selig - 1924
Joy Seligsohn - 1927
Zeke Seligsohn - birth year?
Marie Severin - 1929

Larry Siegel - 1925

Ed Silverman - birth year?
Joe Sinnott - 1926

Dan Spiegle - 1920
Leonard Starr - 1925
Tony Tallarico – 1933
Dexter Taylor - birth year?
Frank Thorne - 1930

Angelo Torres - 1932

Morrie Turner - 1923

Albert Uderzo - 1927
Mort Walker - 1923

James Warren - 1930
Morris Weiss - 1915!

Gahan Wilson - 1930

Ed Winiarski - ?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comic Book and Comic Strip Creators Over 80

I'm trying to compile an updated list of anyone who's in the comic book and comic strip business who is over 80 and still alive. I don't know if this is complete and in some cases, I don't know if it's accurate. If you see someone who should or shouldn't be on this list, please advise. Also, steer away from animation or children's book artists and writers unless they also worked in comic books or comic strips. (?) = I don't know their living status.

Murphy Anderson - 1926
Dick Ayers - 1924
Ken Bald - 1920
Allen Bellman - 1924
Bob Bolling - 1928
Nick Cardy - 1920
Hank Chapman - ?
Jack Chick - 1924
Paul Coker - 1929
Ernie Colon - 1931
Jack Davis - 1924
Jose Delbo - 1933
Steve Ditko - 1927
Mort Drucker - 1929
Hy Eisman - 1927
Jules Feiffer - 1929
Ramonda Fradon - 1926
Al Feldstein - 1925
Joe Giella - 1928
Stan Goldberg - 1932
Sam Gross - 1933
Irwin Hasen - 1918
Russ Heath - 1926
Frank Hill
Lee Holley
Fran Hopper - 1922
Frank Jacobs - 1929
Sid Jacobson - 1929
Al Jaffee - 1921
Jack Katz - 1927
Fred Kida - 1920
Everett Kinstler - 1926
Tom Koch - 1925
Mel Lazarus - 1927
Stan Lee - 1922
Larry Lieber - 1931
Don Orehek - 1928
Paul Peter Porges - 1927
Al Plastino - 1921
Lily Renee - 1925
Arnold Roth - 1929
John Romita, Sr. - 1930
Marie Severin - 1929
Larry Siegel - 1925
Joe Sinnott - 1926
Tony Tallarico - 1933
Joe Torres - 1932
Morrie Turner - 1923
Mort Walker - 1923
Morris Weiss - 1915!
Gahan Wilson - 1930
Ed Winiarski - ?

Friday, March 08, 2013

Frank Hill, Lee Holley, Rich Koslowski, Greg Beda at Art Supplies Ink. Opening










My friend Greg Beda invited me to the Grand Opening of Rich Koslowski's new art store in Aptos, California called Art Supplies, Ink. Former Dennis the Menace artists Lee Holley and Frank Hill, who both have original art on display and for sale also attended. Here are some of the photos I took of the event last Saturday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Schulz Peanuts Comic Book Art

Derrick Bang wrote a great article about Schulz's Peanuts comic book work. In the article, Bang says that Schulz only drew two complete comic book stories for Nancy #146 and Nancy #148 (both from 1957) before giving the chores to other artists. The full article is featured here: http://www.fivecentsplease.org/dpb/comicboo.html and the two four-page Peanuts stories appear below:


 



 
 
 
 




Pogens Again


I did a blog entry on Pogens awhile back and there was interest in the folder that they used to give away describing the cookies. I got this in Southern California around 1974 and Pogens were very popular then.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

My Radio Show Recording Sessions








Here are some photos of me recording new segments last Saturday of "The Stories Behind the Stories" for "The Geek Speak Show". The podcast is now in its fourth year and this is my second year doing interviews with comic book and animation pros and fans from the past, present and future. You can listen in at http://www.thegeekspeakshow.com or at http://funideas.50webs.com for my segment.