Monday, May 20, 2013

Congratulations, Peabody Winners!

In honor of today's presentation of the Peabody Awards, here's a little-seen custom strip from Broadcasting magazine commemorating the occasion of A Charlie Brown Christmas having garnered the first of Charles Schulz' two Peabodys in 1966 (the second one was for 1983's What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? ).

Friday, May 10, 2013


 Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the day we played host to comix legends Peter Bagge and Daniel Clowes as part of their Hateball Tour, so what better time to dip into the Bizarro-Wuxtry Archive's vast holdings and share some precious memories? First up, a trio of photos made using the "Bizarro-Wuxtry Monkey Cam" (i.e. young Diego Aloysius Kirsch, our Official Teen Sidekick, climbing up to the top of some rickety shelves with a camera):

I am seen here conversing with Mr. Clowes,
while Mr. Bagge attends to the paying customers.
Note the eyeball cakes, baked by Karen Sweeney (Gerow).
More of me and Dan. The wall behind him
no longer exists, but cut across at about the middle
of the "new releases" rack. Mr. Clowes is seated
in almost the exact spot where the spinner rack
displaying his work is now located.
This shot would later be used as the author
photo in the hardback of Bagge's Hey, Buddy!,
but the origin of the photo had been forgotten, so
 Diego was inadvertently robbed of  a photo credit.

Some of our beloved regulars, two of which are still in town.

The gang checks out original art at prices that none of us could
afford, but would now be laughably cheap.
Karen Sweeney talks to Clowes while Marika
Wendelken mugs for the camera.

A view that more clearly shows the old back wall. At that point,
comics were in the left-hand room, and budget records at the right. 
Try as I might, I can't tell what Pete is reading here.

As well as doing tons of sketches and autographing all manner of comics and album covers, the guests of honor were called upon to autograph local artist/musician/elemental force of nature Deonna Mann. Please note that these shots were taken per her request, and I was not just being a perv.

Look at that baby face!
"Daniel Clowes"
"P. Bagge wuz here"

 Speaking of Ms. Mann, she also provided a puppet show in honorof our special guests, with music by her musical organization, the Medaglia D'Oro Orchestra. The police pointed out that no permit for such a performance had been issued, but we worked it out.

Onlookers await the beginning of the performance
Dee Goodman (RIP), and her future husband, noted alt-comix
artist Jeff (now Jess) Johnson.

Wade Hampton and Jim Stacy, hangin' tough
The puppet theater

 That evening, there was another concert in their honor, at the long-defunct Hoyt Street North club, featuring the Woggles and the La Brea Stompers (whose own poster for the event can be seen in the ninth and tenth photos above). Regrettably, my camera was suffering from a light leak, and most of the photos were ruined, including all the photos of the Woggles, except for this candid photo of the late, lamented George Montague Holton.

 I was, however, able to salvage a few photos of the Stompers' set. Their drummer, Richard E. Grant, isn't visible in any of them, but he looks just like this guy, except not horrible:

Anyway, here's what I do have:

Mr. Jim Stacy serenades the crowd, seemingly oblivious to
the fireball about to engulf him

Mr. Stacy wails on the mouth harp, while Mr. Trey Ledford tickles the strings
Mr. Wade Hampton lays down his funky bass licks
Later that year, the Stompers would commission an album cover from Clowes for their album Funzo's Knuckle Room, seen here in the highest quality image I could find (I never got a copy myself because it was only on CD).

The next day, we gathered up our VIPs and carried them to their next stop, Criminal Records in Atlanta. To build up their stamina, they finally dug into Karen's eyeball cakes.

 While we've had plenty of signings before and since (it's crazy to me to think that this was only three weeks after Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer came to the store), this was the biggest and best, and there's no way it would have happened without the hard work of my co-manager Shannon T. Stewart, the aforementioned Mr. Kirsch, Eric Levin at Criminal (we split the cost to bring the guys in) and all the folks in the bands, to whom I'm eternally grateful. Maybe we'll see if we can do it again for our Silver Jubilee.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Acme Optometric Library

    So... I was reading about these Battlestar Galactica eyeglasses at the National Museum of American History's blog, and while scrolling down through the comment section, I ran across a painful-but-amusing anecdote about the writer's adolescence in Omaha, Nebraska. As it turned out, that miserable eighth-grader was none other than Mr. Franklin Christenson Ware, himself! Here, go see for yourself! A short follow-up may be found here. For the record, my comment on the posting was this

    "Those same spring-hinged glasses had been offered previously with a "BIONIC" nameplate (which I had, not because of the Six Million Dollar Man's implied endorsement, but because I was breaking my frames 3 or 4 times a year, and the springs made them slightly less destructible). Both shows were made by Universal Pictures, so it was presumably an easy transition between licenses.For the record, mine definitely came from Pearle Vision Center."

    I went hunting to see if I could find the patent for the spring hinge, but without success. There were a fair number of similar ones, but none that matched well enough that I felt certain they were the origin of these. Sorry... I tried!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frank Hampson Draws Dan Dare


    Here's a short clip from a 1956 British Pathé newsreel featiuring Frank Hampson in his studio with  some nice shots of his models and the elaborate costumes and props used, as well as dubious footage of him drawing a page:

    I'm not that familiar with his studio's elaborate process, but I question the likelihood of an already inked and partly-colored page still needing pencils on any part of it (not to mention that he's apparently drawing on an overlay!)*. Still, phony "action shots" constitute a large percentage of the photographic record of cartooning, so it's not too surprising. Still cool, though.

*The one possible legitimate reason would be if he were making a last-minute correction to be pasted up, but I don't believe that's what's happening here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Go Look At This Obscure Monkees Comic! Then Come Back And Let Me Tell You Something About It!

Don't click this, click this!
     So... Mr. Al Bigley, noted comics artist and enthusiastic blogger, posted this two-page Monkees strip by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo yesterday, along with his suppositions as to its origins. While his theory was perfectly reasonable, it just didn't quite seem right to me. Why would a parody comic like Go-Go publish a straightforward, seemingly-authorized story about a group that already had a licensed comic from Dell (also a short-lived Brazilian edition)? Admittedly, Charlton Publishing had pulled a lot of shady hijinks through the years, all the way back to its origin as a publisher of unlicensed music lyric magazines (for which founder John Santangelo did prison time). Still, poaching in Dell's territory that blatantly would just be asking for trouble.

While it started out as a criminal enterprise, this one's (presumably) legit(-ish)

     It occurred to me that, while Mr. Aparo sadly can no longer be reached for comment without resort to a Ouija board, I might be able to inquire of the still-very-much-with-us Mr. Stiles, and he very graciously responded thusly:
Lemme tell yuh, doing that piece was indeed a lot of fun writing-wise, and it did get published -- in an issue of a black-and-white Charlton publication entitled Teen Tunes and Pin-Ups! What rights had to be secured and whether they actually were or not I have no idea, but the story was part of a contest! I had to hide the names of various Monkees songs in the dialogue of the story and the readers as contestants had to count those up and send in the number of them, whereupon there would be a drawing from those who got the number right so that some sort of prize could be awarded! It wasn't exactly easy hiding all those song titles in there, yet as I recall I got paid the usual Charlton writer's page rate of four bucks a page; in other words, eight dollars for the whole deal!! Hey, I was young and innocent, and didn't mind that at all!
  Using that info as a new starting point, i was able to find my way to The Jim Aparo Fan Club blog where I learned that this was the last of three Monkees stories by Aparo (one) (two) (three) that ran in Teen Tunes in issues 3-5. Mr. Gallaher of the Aparo blog makes the assumption that the Monkees license at this point passed on to Dell Publishing, but from what I can piece together, that's not actually the situation. There's not a lot of info available concerning Teen Tunes and Pin-Ups (not to be confused with the more frequently-encountered Teen Pin-Ups), but from what I do know, #4 and #5 are dated January and April 1968, respectively, and one may extrapolate from this that #3 is likely cover-dated October 1967cover-dated November 1967. I know for certain that the first issue of the Dell Monkees comic bears a cover date of March 1967, and it runs continuously at either a bi-monthly or monthly rate (though erratically, and with the indicia frequently claiming a quarterly frequency!) until November 1968, then popping back up for one last issue (reprinting the first one), dated October 1969. In light of the overlapping publishing dates, one must assume that black and white teen magazines were treated as a separate licensing category by Raybert Productions. Other unrelated Monkees comic product of the time period include comics by Gene Fawcette and Howard Liss in a paperback just called The Monkees (link is to the UK version), ones by Bill Kresse in Monkees Go Mod, and spot illos by Jack Davis in Love Letters To The Monkees, by the inescapable Bill Adler. The Dell comic books were written by person or persons unknown, and drawn by journeyman artist José Delbo (who has frankly done much better work elsewhere;  to be fair, though, nobody at Dell was exactly bringing their "A" game in those last few declining years).
#2 (September 1967)
The first two issues featured "Miss Bikini Luv", also by Aparo

#4 (January 1968)

#5 (April 1968)
This is the issue with Mr. Skeates' story

To reiterate: not the same magazine; no comics content
Thanks again to Steve Skeates for his gracious response to my inquiry. Check out his newest work in All Surprising Comics, coming soon from Surprising Comics.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

EXCLUSIVE!! Male Archie Comics Staffers Comment On Nancy SIlberkleit Scandal!

In the wake of TMZ's recent allegations as to the shocking conduct of Archie Comics CEO Nancy Silberkleit, We sent one of our roving reporters to Riverdale to investigate. Mr.Archie Andrews himself declined to comment, but we were able to get two of his associates to give us some brief comments:

left to right: Reginald Mantle, Forsythe P. Jones. Mantle is son of the local 
newspaper's publisher; Jones is a well-known local gastronome. Both are
members of local rock group "The Archies",along with Andrews.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Comic Book Vending Machines

Todd Franklin posted a picture of a pretty gorgeous comic book vending machine (I'm not gonna swipe his photo... click through to check it out) today at his blog, Neato Coolville, and this prompted me to go hunting to see what else I could learn about it. A bit of poking around turned up this:

The drawing shows a smaller cabinet than Franklin's specimen; I'd be curious as to whether it was offered in multiple sizes for different venues. My investigation found only one other US patent for a vending machine that specified comics as opposed to just magazines in general, that being one issued in 1964 to a Ronald William Searle (no, not that Ronald William Searle, though I have no idea if there's any relation) of Christchurch, New Zealand. Here, for the record, are all the magazine vending machine patents.

Monday, February 8, 2010

1974 Wonder Bread Trading Cards Mystery

Over at Misce-Looney-ous, Jerry Beck has been asking for info on some Looney Tunes cards apparently included in packages of Wonder Bread in 1974. He's got five, and he'd like to know the total number in the set, and any other info anyone might be able to offer. I can't say how many there are, but I can make it all a bit more mysterious. I have two; this one:

...and, surprisingly, this one:
While it's certainly true that these were both in the category of "Things that are owned by Warner Communications, Inc.," such commingling of their properties was pretty unusual at that time. I got this card maybe twenty-five years ago and assumed it was part of some unknown set of DC cards until a few years ago when I found the Cool Cat card. I'm still not ruling out the possibility that these were just two different sets issued the same year, but they certainly seem to be part of the same thing. The lettering matches, and the artist here is clearly not accustomed to drawing superheroes (I like the way that Supie looks like Victor Mature). So... that's all I have to add to the puzzle. Anyone else want to chime in?

Friday, December 25, 2009


If you need to know more about this for some reason, visit Early Works for explication.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Gift From Aunt Cora

As a good number of you reading this know, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories sold in vast quantities in the '50s, routinely selling in excess of three million copies a month for years on end, without need for gimmick covers, crossovers with Daisy Duck's Diary and Spin and Marty, or some sort of major event in which the Big Bad Wolf rapes and murders Clarabelle Cow, only to himself be killed in revenge by an enraged Horace Horsecollar. No... the only gimmick they needed was six or eight pages a month by Carl Barks or Paul Murry! But besides high quality and universally-known characters, one other secret sales weapon was subscriptions, which Dell comics pursued more aggressively than many other publishers. Untold thousands of parents and relatives gave subscriptions as Christmas gifts... including my Great-Aunt Cora, on whose behalf the letters below were sent.

My father was eight and nine years old, respectively, when he received these in the mailbox.

The  1955 letter takes its image from Walt Disney's Christmas Parade #4, from 1952 (art by Bob Grant), and...

The envelope art is from Walt Disney's Christmas Parade #2 from 1950 (art by Jim Pabian). The painted art on the 1956 letter looks familiar to me, but I can't seem to trace it. Any art detectives out there got my back on this one? (UPDATE: Alan Hutchinson gave us the answer in the comments-- it's the back cover of Walt Disney's Christmas Parade #6, 1954. Thanks!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irv Tripp 1921-2009

Steve Bissette reports that Irv Tripp, who worked on the vast majority of Little Lulu stories, has died at the age of 88 in Haines City, Florida. He did finished pencils and inks over rough layouts by  John Stanley until 1959, then worked with other writers, notably Arnold Drake, until 1982. Like Stanley, Drake also did his scripts in the form of fairly detailed breakdowns-- I don't know if Tripp's other collaborators worked that way or not, nor can I  say for certain if he ever wrote any Lulus himself. I expect that Frank M.Young will probably have more to say abou Tripp soon at the always great Stanley Stories blog. Here's the local newspaper's obit, and here's Lambiek's Comiclopedia page. Regrettably, he doesn't seem to have ever been interviewed any where I know of, though I'd love it if someone could prove me to be a liar on that count.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Early Works Crossover Special #1: Little Arthur Spiegelman!

One of my other internet timewasters is Early Works,  a blog presenting my artwork between the ages of two and fourteen, with commentary. But I've got skeletons from other closets beside my own... and this is one that I haven't seen in anyone else's blog or fanzine, so it should be a surprise to the vast majority of you.

    Children's Playmate was a digest-sized kiddy magazine in the same vein as Humpty Dumpty, Children's Digest, and Jack and Jill that dated back at least to the '30s, and lasted until December 2008, as best I can determine (there's not a lot of concrete information about it out there). All the issues I own are from the late '50s-mid-'60s range, and they're all pretty charming, if a bit restrained and cheap-looking. Every issue I've ever seen also looks like it probably seemed about ten years behind the times upon its initial release. Apart from a lot of (once again, very retrograde) art by Bill Woggon, done in the period between Katy Keene and Millie, The Lovable Monster, there's not a lot of appealing illustration  in these to speak to the modern comics fan... that is, except for the January, 1961 issue. Let's take a closer look at that readers' art page, shall we?

Well, whaddaya know? it's a superhero mascot, designed by future Pulitzer winner/chain smoker Art Spiegelman! I find it interesting that he gives his age as 12 1/2-- my first impulse was to think "what kind of sissy cites a fractional age past the six-year old point?", until I realized that it was actually because he realized that he was about to age out of eligibility for his target market. He wasn't fudging it, though... he wouldn't turn thirteen until a month after the cover date. Pretty savvy self-promotion, actually. I also found it interesting to see how much the young Spiegelman's work resembles contemporaneous work by the Crumb brothers or Jay Lynch , but that's mostly just because they're all shooting for the same Disney/Wally Wood look, in the same way that Toth, Kubert, and Infantino are near-identical in the '40s... or the way that Gerald Scarfe and Ralph Steadman are a matched set of Ronald Searles in the mid-'60s. Young Artie would continue in his attempts to tailor his work to the venue in what I believe is his second national publication, about two years later... but you'll have to wait a little while to see that one! Stay tuned...

You can find both of the Spiegelman pieces cited here reprinted, along with a batch of early underground stories (some, but not all of which were since included in the new edition of Breakdowns) in this obscure bootleg collection from several years ago, published by someone purporting to be the reanimated corpse of schlockmeister extraordinaire Myron Fass (even though the real Fass wasn't quite dead yet!). I'm pretty sure I know who "Fass" really was, but I'm no stool pigeon, copper! Good luck locating it, though... I think that there were only maybe 50-60 copies.  I heard that one copy got slipped into a display case at a gallery show of Spiegelman's work in Germany, somewhat confusing the patrons.