Archive for the ‘General’ Category
Thursday, December 5, 2013
This being December, it’s time to celebrate with our annual month-long posting of Christmas Comics! Last year’s weekly postings of books that could have been given as Christmas gifts to the comics fan of a century ago, proved rather popular, so starting this week we’ll make it annual tradition, with a round of cartoon collections published in 1913.
1913 was actually a shallow period for Hearst Era comics (or, “Platinum Age”, as they’re categorized in the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide), as publishers appeared lost for a new popular format. Other than a couple hanger-on titles not even appearing annually, the large, over-sized, oblong cardboard-covered color Sunday reprints, were already a thing of the past, as were the equally over-sized, long strip-shaped board books, reprinting daily strips. (In fact, we have none of the latter this year!) The highly popular cardboard-covered square-format for reprinting dailies four panels to the page, were at this point still several years into the future, post-WWI.
That said, we do have enough books to take us weekly to Christmas, starting with today’s entry, Little Shavers, by J.R. Shaver. This collection, published by the Century Company, reprints Shaver’s cartoons about children, that originally ran in Life magazine. We’ve scanned for you, a dozen examples.
Immediately beneath, is the cover of Little Shavers, while above is shown its title page. The caption for the cartoon on the title page (found with this same cartoon, further inside the book), is:
AN ULTIMATUM: “All right: if I can’t be captain, I won’t lend the ball.”
“I wish you’d make a face at her, Tillie; I’ve done the best I can.”
“Gee, Fellers! I hope Billy won’t go an’ turn State’s evidence.”
“Harold, you mustn’t eat all the peanuts, even if you are pretending to be a monkey. You must give sister some.”
“But, mother, I’m pretendin’ she’s some kind o’ animal wot doesn’t eat peanuts.”
“Orchestra seats are fifteen cents each.”
“All right. Gimme two. I’m blowin’ me mother off, an’ there ain’t nothin’ too good fer her.”
Knowledge is Power.
A Sporting Chance.
The lion and the Hornets.
“Won’t ye please hurry, Mister. He’s got my skates on.”
CHRISTMAS MORNING: Another fraud discovered.
“No, I don’t believe in you any more, but you may leave the things.”
To view previous years’ postings of Christmas Comics, click here.
Christmas Comics NYLife
Monday, December 2, 2013
As previously established I just don’t “get” Spy Smasher, the drably attired inventor/aviator who thanks to WWII somehow managed to become Fawcett’s second biggest (non-Marvel Family related) character. If Captain Marvel is an analog of Superman then Spy Smahser was to Batman, so it was probably inevitable that they would eventually team up…but Fawcett pulled a switcheroo and instead did a multi-issue serial in Whiz Comics when The Big Red Cheese battled a Spy Smasher who had been brainwashed into becoming an enemy of America. It was pitched as a “brains vs. brain” kind of deal, and while you could make the case that a properly equipped Batman would, at least briefly, hold his own against Superman, you really can’t say that about this particular pairing. This being the case, I’ve always how Fawcett actually pulled this off for even one day, and since I finally have, now so can you.
I know that it puts me squarely in the minority of comic book fans but there’s a part of me that prefers to the early portion of Captain Marvel’s career. The stories weren’t nearly as good of course but back then his creators really didn’t know what the hell they were doing and were busy figuring out what the characters would and could do on the fly. Here we see artist C.C. Beck pulling off a more or less absolutely straight adventure style, though there are plenty of oddball moments, as below where Captain Marvel is caught out of uniform and not surprisingly cuts a rather dashing figure while wearing a grown up man’s suit. It’s because, for some reason, decides to go undercover while playing bodyguard to W.H.I.Z. radio station owner Sterling Morris.
Or here. A few years later he would never commit such a cruel act against a “dumb animal” (which was the condescending way people expressed anti-cruelty sentiment in those unenlightened days) but now Captain Marvel could commit animal abuse in the name of teaching that uppity a bear lesson on where he belongs on the food chain. Beat that bear, Captain, beat him like a drum!
In this issue the battle continues in the regularly scheduled Spy Smasher feature.
Here’s an example of another one of Spy Smasher’s “genius” inventions, a giant lawnmower. A giant lawnmower.
And just because I can, here’s an adventure of Dr. Voodoo, one of the mostly forgotten Whiz characters who was one of the most interesting of the Tarzan wannabes. In this outing the medical practitioner/jungle man (a rare double major) unexpectedly crosses over the double yellow line and enters into Prince Valiant territory.
Now this is grace under pressure.
— Steve Bennett
Friday, November 29, 2013
The methods used by women suffragettes, working to gain their right to vote, varied amongst the different movements. In the U.S., the women’s movement used mostly peaceful protest, while in Britain, part of their movement was becoming increasingly militant. They threw bricks, smashed windows, engaged in arson, and even bombed public buildings. Emeline Pankhurst was a leader of this militant approach.
In October & November 1913, just recently released from prison, Pankhurst visited the U.S. for a speaking tour. While British authorities were more than happy to see her going, there was a debate in the U.S. prior to her arrival, on whether she should even be allowed entrance. Their fear was that Pankhurst would persuade U.S. suffragettes to take up the more violent approach of their British counterparts.
Today’s post presents Cartoons Magazine‘s coverage of what was labeled as “Pankhursteria”, surrounding her U.S. tour. First, we have the five pages on Pankhurst, from Cartoons Magazine‘s November 1913 issue. Cartoons accompanying this issue’s article, were taken from Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling (above), W.A. Ireland (below left), and Nelson Harding (below right).
Click on the above & below pages, to see the cartoons in fuller detail, and be able to read the text.
Above, the last two pages from the November 1913 issue, including art by Guy Spencer and E.A. Bushnell.
Beneath, the opening pair of pages of December 1913‘s Cartoons Magazine article, with a full page cartoon by Daniel Fitzpatrick, at right.
Additional cartoons: above, by Robert Satterfield and Winner; below, by Billy Ireland and Ole May.
Click on Women’s History to view prior postings of that subject.
Women’s History Billy Ireland
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Today for Native American Heritage Month, we have a second extract artist L.P. Thompson‘s 1929-published collection, The Daily Oklahoman’s Outline of Oklahoma History. Like last week’s set of pages (this time from near the center of the book), they deal with the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands, into the confined borders of less desirable land, within Reservations set up in Oklahoma.
Click on the below pages, to make them large enough to read.
NativeAmericanHistory General Custer George Custer
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The 1920′s and 30′s saw a trend of certain newspapers creating and publishing original educational comic strips chronologically presenting local history. The best known example of these strips, was Texas History Movies. Most of these histories — created by whites for their paper’s majority white audience — quickly gloss over the treatment of Native Americans, if they deal with the subject at all. Typical of that approach was the 1930 published Pictorial History of New Brunswick (shown here last year), in which Native Americans are depicted welcoming European settlers, followed almost immediately by a series of land exchanges from one European settler to the next, with zero explanation of how it got into white hands in the first place.
This year, for Native American Heritage Month, we have a few extracts from one of the rarer collections of these types of strips: The Daily Oklahoman’s Outline of Oklahoma History, created by the Daily Oklahoman‘s Art Director, L.P. Thompson. It ran in that paper from September 1928 to February 1929, with this collection published that same (1929) year. It was undoubtedly influenced by the slightly earlier Texas History Movies, just south of its borders.
While the comic strip histories from other states/territories only briefly took note of the presence of Native Americans, Oklahoma — a state into which many tribes were forcibly relocated, could not do so as easily. Yes, Outline of Oklahoma History is still written from the white perspective, but it at least touches on a number of events involving the interaction between white and native cultures, and including some of the atrocities committed by the conquering whites (albeit presented in a bland, non-threatening way). More than half of its pages includes Native Americans.
In today’s extract, I’ve skipped to Page 22, because I wanted to show the pages involving the forced Cherokee relocation to Oklahoma Reservations (known as the “Trail of Tears”).
Click on the above & below pictures, to view the pages in detail, and be able to read the text.
To find prior years’ posts involving Native American History, click here.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
This past summer, in my capacity as a freelance
transcriptionist for COMIC BOOK CREATOR magazine, I transcribed interviews with
Vivek Tiwary and Andrew Robinson, the writer and major artist behind the new
graphic novel, THE FIFTH BEATLE. As a major Beatles fan myself, I was
fascinated by what looked to be an impressive and long overdue project
highlighting the role of Brian Epstein in pop culture history. Having just
finished reading a copy, I can now confirm that it IS impressive…but not at
all what I was expecting.
Unlike the recent graphic novel history of the Beatles’
early years, BEATLES WITH AN A (http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2013/09/booksteve-reviews-beatles-with-a-by.html
THE FIFTH BEATLE is not really about the Beatles at all. This is the story made
necessary by Vivek J. Tiwary’s longtime obsession with Brian Epstein’s life,
career, success and failure. It is literally the story he was meant to tell.
And the Beatles, bless ‘em, are just bit players.
By the time I personally paid all that much attention to the
Beatles, Mr. Epstein had been dead for nearly 3 years. I learned of him slowly
and only in retrospect. I read his ghostwritten book, A CELLARFUL OF NOISE. I
read some of the articles he wrote for US magazines (likely also ghosted). In
time, I read Ray Coleman’s THE MAN WHO MADE THE BEATLES, which I believe has
been the sole mainstream book to deal with Brian in any real depth. Until now.
Although it is arguably one of the most important events in
their careers, Pete Best’s replacement by Ringo Starr here goes unmentioned. In
spite of Brian’s role in the event, this omission serves to underscore the fact
that this is NOT another biography of The Beatles.
It’s also not a straightforward biography of Brian Epstein,
either, though, and I guess that’s what I was expecting. I suppose it was the
author’s work as a Producer for stage and screen that led him to restructure
Brian’s life as an abstract art piece. I further suppose it’s the fact that he
really does “know” Brian as well as anyone can these days that makes that
decision work as well as it does!
In a way, I’m reminded of Bob Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ and its
somewhat surreal but oh-so thinly veiled biography of its own creator. The book
doesn’t show the incident with Ringo nor does it show John’s infamous
anti-Semitic rants at Brian or any number of other events. Like The Beatles
themselves could be, THE FIFTH BEATLE is not so much concerned with reality as
it is perception—both Brian’s and the reader’s.
In that way, the structure of the book is very much akin to
that of a good stage play with the added benefit of a format that allows
movie-like fades and cross-scenes. That’s why artist Andrew Robinson is such a
major plus here. His work here evokes a striking cross between that of classic
sixties illustrator Robert McGinnis and eighties comics artist Bill Sienkiewicz.
It is at once modern and yet with a stylized period look. The creative use of
color—and at times lack of it—also adds immensely to the “feels” you gather as
you proceed through the book.
My favorite single sequence is a 5 page, yellow-tinted
meeting between Brian and Elvis Manager Col. Tom Parker, the one man Epstein presumed
would understand exactly how he felt. He was horribly wrong and the calm with
which he reacts to that slow realization speaks volumes as to his character.
My favorite character is Moxie, Brian’s trusty assistant who
can make anything happen as needed, the one person who is always there for
him…or is she?
The reason I described Robinson as the MAJOR illustrator
above is that there’s a 7-page interlude by Kyle Baker in which the notorious
Beatles trip to the Philippines in 1966 is depicted as a fast-paced,
over-the-top, Kurtzman-like MAD story.
It comes at exactly the right spot in the narrative to head
us downhill after that. The Beatles were beginning their major metamorphosis
and Brian was beginning to feel unneeded. He had greased up the wheels of the
machine but now it was perfectly capable of running without him. As they rose,
Brian Epstein had problems. He was Jewish and gay in a world
where both could get him killed. He was lonely and sad and took pills and drank
too much and by some accounts—although not really delved into here— was more
than a little kinky. By the time you’ve finished the book, you’ve gotten a feel
for how important those things were in Brian’s life, yes, but what I was left
with was his eternal optimism. He was NOT the world’s greatest businessman or
the world’s greatest promoter but he was incredibly persistent and insistent
when he needed to be to get the Beatles where THEY needed to be. Brian was the
right man at the right place at the right time. He couldn’t play an instrument
or maybe not even carry a tune but he was, in a very real sense, THE FIFTH
BEATLE.Thanks to Vivek and his Executive Assistant, Lenora, for making sure I got a copy.
Available now in regular edition, limited edition, Kindle edition and more.
Monday, November 11, 2013
I’ve been reading Will Eisner’s legendary The Spirit since the Warren Magazines reprints came out in the 70′s, but one comic I’ve always wanted to read for myself were the actual Spirit Sections from whence it sprang. Mostly because the idea of a 16-page Sunday newspaper supplement that appeared in Sunday newspapers was absolutely mindblowing to me growing, but I must confess writing about it gives me the opportunity to acknowledge something the average compulsive comic book guy refuses to; most of the stories featuring The Spirit weren’t done by Will Eisner and weren’t all that great. Most weren’t, you know, terrible, depending on which artist was ghosting for Eisner while he was int he army they could be breezy little crime thriller, an inoffensive mix of action and pretty girls with touches of low comedy provided by a grotesque sidekick. In short, they closely adhered to the formula soon in 40′s B-movies or radio shows featuring The Falcon and/or Boston Blackie.
But then, The Spirit had a lot in common with those Saint knockoffs. While he started out as a pretty conventional masked comic book vigilante he quickly evolved into a laughing Robin Hood type, the kind who in spite of having no visible means of support never got paid for fighting crime. Like those fellows The Spirit managed to maintain a chummy relationship with a police official in spite of the fact he was repeatedly compelled to chase after him when he was inevitably wanted for crimes he didn’t commit. Likewise, he had a regular girlfriend who saw his career as competition for her affections when she wasn’t alternatively forcibly inserting herself in his adventures, and a foul ball sidekick with a mouth made for malaprops. The other fellows preferred doughy ex-convicts, but The Spirit had toxic racist stereotype Ebony White.
In a 2003 interview with Will Eisner (ironically titled “Never Too Late”) in Time magazine about his then new book Fagin the Jew, the subject of his stereotypical depiction of Ebony came up where, as far as I know. was the closest Eisner ever came to actually apologizing for Ebony. ”The only excuse I have for (that portrayal) is that at the time humor consisted in our society of bad English and physical difference in identity.” No question Ebony was more of an actual person than such comic book offenses as Steamboat and Whitewash Jones, and Eisner was unquestionably a genius. But he was also a man of his time and I suppose the closest we’ll ever come to understanding why men of that era could tolerate something which seems to us to be so obviously wrong is by accepting the bromide “that’s just the way things were.” That can never be used as a free pass, but I believe we’ve reached a point in our history where it’s just as important to understand our past as it is to judge it.
And those Spirit Sections were also home to lesser known features, like Lady Luck who was secretly socialite Brenda Banks who fought crime not so much in a costume, but a fetching sea green ensemble with the figleaf of a veil working as a mask. This outing was drawn by the artist most associated with the character, Klaus Nordling,
And Mr. Mystic. He was a fairly conventional if all powerful comic book magician who got his powers through a tattoo on his forehead he picked up in Tibet, who had fairly conventional adventures, though this one by Fred Guardineer is more outre than usual and barely even a story as I understand the concept.
— Steve Bennett
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Either tonight’s game, or the next, will determine this year’s World Series winner. So, presented is one final round of baseball cartoons for this year. The cartoons immediately above & below, come from the October 1913 issue of Cartoons Magazine, with art by Robert Satterfield (above), and Nate Collier (below).
Beneath, though the Philadelphia A’s (now Oakland A’s) won the 1913 World Series, New York City-based Cartoons Magazine reprinted Jeff Carlson‘s cartoon featuring that Series’ loser, the N.Y. Giants. The other pieces are by Hugh Doyle and James H. Donahey.
Click on the pages beneath, to view the cartoons in detail, and read their captions.
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