July 30, 2010

Superman in Shangri-La

For his BBC2 series The Innes Book of Records (1979-1981), Neil Innes donned a Superman suit to guide viewers through his vision of a utopian society. The song "Shangri-La" later entered the repertoire of his faux-Beatles group, The Rutles.

No one discusses utopian societies much anymore. I think most of us would be happy with a much less acrimonious society. I know I would. The people who are staging a 9/11 Quran burning might be better served looking for a Double Rainbow instead. It would be a far more worthy endeavor.

July 27, 2010

Bits of Business

Not Sergio!

Self-proclaimed Sergio Aragonés superfan Gary Grossmann wrote to tell me that he had sent Sergio the link to this post which featured a 1962 Boris and Natasha story that I speculated might contain early artwork by the Master of Mad Margin Mirth. Karl Wilcox had submitted that credit to the GCBD, but, as it turns out, Sergio himself relayed to Gary via phone that this info is not accurate. From Gary's letter to me:

He went over it in great detail. He admired the overall ink work, saying he wasn't that good back then. But also pointed out the poorly drawn way that Fearless Leader is holding his cigarette holder, the bad perspective on the buildings, the fact that the characters all have three fingers and some other things that are just not the way he would or has ever drawn things.

Thanks for the fine detective work, Gary! And thanks to Sergio, for taking the time to help clear up this matter.

Betty Betz 1920-2010

Some posts take on a life of their own, such as this entry on the enigmatic Betty Betz, which prompted quite a few comments and queries. It appears that after a colorful career sporting many hats (fashion copywriter, teen self-help author, cartoonist, public speaker, Korean War correspondent, etc.), Miss Betz ended up marrying multimillionaire oil magnate Frank McMahon in 1956. After his death in 1986, she spent her remaining years living reclusively in Bermuda, choosing to express her creative urges through the medium of painting. On April 17, 2010, she passed away after suffering through the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease for quite some time. Quite a life.

Wanted: Walt Scott Strips

Easily Mused reader Steve W. Schaefer wants to track down a copy of the Walt Scott adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," first printed in newspapers in 1950 as part of NEA's annual Christmas series. I am no expert in comic strips, so if anyone can point the way, please e-mail me, preferably before the milk and cookies are all gone.

Plug Free Blogging

I have received numerous requests to plug or review new comics projects here at EM. While I appreciate the idea that I might help a project find an audience, I prefer to base the content of this blog on where my muse naturally leads me at any particular time in my pop culture journey.

Scope! SCOPE! SCOOOOOPE! Speaking of my muse, I am currently being inspired by a lot more than comics. As a result, I will probably be posting about a lot more than comics, even though I realize that the comics posts are the real meat and potatoes here. I hope that widening my scope a little bit won't alienate the nice folks who come here only to see four color masterpieces. There will always be comics here. I might even pick up a few new ones to review, if I can ever get this image out of my head:

Actually, I noticed recently that I've been so fixated on older stuff that I may have given the impression that I don't go for anything stamped new. In an upcoming post I'll try to dispel that myth and explain how I decide what culture goes in and what culture stays out of my fevered bean.

July 13, 2010

Harvey Pekar: Scenes From a Life

It isn't uncommon, upon hearing of the passing of a famous actor or author, to feel a sense of personal loss, even if one only knew the person from their body of work. Harvey Pekar's passing saddens me so much more, because he shared with me and everyone else who adored his autobiographical comics so many of the little personal details that colored his life.

I saw Harvey at his best, and at his worst. I know of his love for jazz, and his contempt for bullshit. I knew of his struggles with relationships and his battle with cancer. Harvey was a grouchy curmudgeon, but he was also a caring individual who helped many people and imparted his wisdom freely.

Yesterday, I lost a real good friend. Here are some of my memories from that long enduring friendship. Thanks for elevating my consciousness, pal.

Harvey Pekar: 1939-2010

All images from American Splendor comics. No library is complete without some Pekar!