Monday, May 31, 2010
Click "honolulu" label at bottom to read how Kurtzman had a more direct reference to the real-life Honolulu brothel than James Jones did.

©2010 EC Publications

Harvey Kurtzman and Bernard Krigstein: "From Eternity Back to Here!" Mad #12 (June 1954). This was the first of Krigstein's few contributions to Mad. Kurtzman's reaction was not entirely positive: "Bernie was a tremendous talent, but he wasn't a humorist." Even so, he drew remarkable caricatures here of Sinatra, Lancaster, Donna Reed and the others and placed them in panels with distinctive designs. Perhaps Kurtzman didn't like seeing hard edges and ruled lines on his flexible, flowing rough layouts. Notice the pattern vanishes from Majjio's shirt on page three. Is it a mistake or is it because he has changed into Sinatra?

After this story, Kurtzman only used Krigstein for assignments requiring an illustrative approach: "Bringing Back Father" (Mad #17) and "Crash McCool" (Mad #26). 

Despite James Jones' objections, Scribner's made these deletions in his manuscript when they published From Here to Eternity in 1951. His daughter, Kaylie Jones, says she will restore these passages if there is a new edition. The original ms. is in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

James Ellroy on James Jones and From Here to Eternity.

James Jones struggles with the manuscript of Some Came Running (1957).

To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned,
To my brethren in their sorrow overseas,
Sings a gentleman of England cleanly bred, machinely crammed,
And a trooper of the Empress, if you please.
Yea, a trooper of the forces who has run his own six horses,
And faith he went the pace and went it blind,
And the world was more than kin while he held the ready tin,
But to-day the Sergeant's something less than kind.
We're poor little lambs who've lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We're little black sheep who've gone astray,
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha' mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!
--Rudyard Kipling (1892)

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
To read my article about scripting Jungle Jim #22, go to Pappy's Golden Age Comics. I remember Wood saying, "Oh, and Bhob... make sure they are little people, not pygmys." I immediately had the image of Princess Rima riding on Jungle Jim's shoulder. Rima, of course, is a reference to W. H. Hudson's Green Mansions (1904), which you can read here.

My every action, word, thought, had my feeling for Rima
as a motive. Why, I began to ask myself, was Rima so much to me? It was
easy to answer that question: Because nothing so exquisite had ever been
created. All the separate and fragmentary beauty and melody and
graceful motion found scattered throughout nature were concentrated and
harmoniously combined in her. How various, how luminous, how divine she
was! A being for the mind to marvel at, to admire continually, finding
some new grace and charm every hour, every moment, to add to the old.
And there was, besides, the fascinating mystery surrounding her origin
to arouse and keep my interest in her continually active.

That was the easy answer I returned to the question I had asked myself.
But I knew that there was another answer--a reason more powerful than
the first. And I could no longer thrust it back, or hide its shining
face with the dull, leaden mask of mere intellectual curiosity. Because I loved her; loved her as I had never loved before, never could love
any other being, with a passion which had caught something of her
own brilliance and intensity, making a former passion look dim and
commonplace in comparison--a feeling known to everyone, something old and worn out, a weariness even to think of.

 From these reflections I was roused by the plaintive three-syllable call
of an evening bird--a nightjar common in these woods; and was surprised
to find that the sun had set, and the woods already shadowed with the
twilight. I started up and began hurriedly walking homewards, thinking
of Rima, and was consumed with impatience to see her; and as I drew near
to the house, walking along a narrow path which I knew, I suddenly met
her face to face. Doubtless she had heard my approach, and instead of
shrinking out of the path and allowing me to pass on without seeing her,
as she would have done on the previous day, she had sprung forward to
meet me. I was struck with wonder at the change in her as she came with
a swift, easy motion, like a flying bird, her hands outstretched as if
to clasp mine, her lips parted in a radiant, welcoming smile, her eyes
sparkling with joy.

--W. H. Hudson

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
  Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan (with Pony Poindexter)
After Annie Ross left Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in 1962, she was replaced by Yolande Bavan (1962-64). Before she married Jackie Paris in 1961, Anne Marie Moss replaced Annie Ross in some early 1960s performances. When I saw the Moss-Paris vocal duo perform around 1976, she explained that muffled introductions ("Here's Lambert, Hendricks and Moss") left some audience members thinking they were actually seeing Annie Ross. Click labels for previous LH&R posts.

Come on home,
And be welcome to stay,
Baby, tell me you’re coming home,
Living alone is so lonely,
I never should ever have run you away.
I knew the day we met,
You brought my love alive,
You got me so upset,
I forgot you was really jive.
Still when I took you in,
My heart was ruling me,
Finally I put you out,
Cause you only was foolin’ me.
But if you’re broke again,
And you need a friend,
Come on home.

I know you ain’t no good,
I know you ain’t so bad.
I’d quit you if I could,
But without you I’m going mad.
I’m hopin’ every day,
Maybe you’ll settle down,
Cause I’m in love with you,
And I ain’t ‘bout to turn around.
So if you’re broke again,
And you need a friend,
Come on home.

What are you doin’?
You standing around the corner and meanwhile your home’s gone to ruin,
What are ya, stupid?
There’s many a cat just looking for such as that,
If woman didn’t mean it she’d never be saying it,
Plenty woman wouldn’t take you back if you were bend and down in need, you need to bend down on your knees and tell her really know where it’s at.

Get together, get together,
Get it!
Running, crawling, creeping, stumbling, falling,
Plenty of time for stopping an’ thinking,
While you’re sitting round at home and getting fat and generally playing it cool.
Hurry it up and head for home!
Cos women you’ll find will change their mind,
While you gotta take the time to figure it out,
And tell your baby home is where it’s at.
Figure it out and you’ll get it together.

I figured it out,
Soon as you said it I got it together,
And figured it out;
What am I gonna do?
I’m dying to make it.
Cause lonely nights are terrible, terrible, terrible.
Tired of looking,
Home and cooking,
I go for that, that’s where it’s at.
Got it together and figured it out already,
Got it together and figured out I must eat steady,
Steady with a pot is really better than a hotdog,
Now I’m here with just a sandwich in the sack,
I wanna believe that she’ll take me back,
Now we’ve got another chance to get together.
Nuts with pretending,
What’s with pretending?
I messed around and acted bad,
I lost my pet now my baby’s giving me another chance to get together.

What’s there to talk and talk and talk about?
What’s there to squawk and squawk and squawk about?
You just got to come home.
Man doing what he want to
Spend all of his time staying at home,
Sweet home,
You dig me, pretty baby?
You heard right: come on home,
Mama’s gonna treat you’s though you’ll never roam,
Cause what’s gotta be gotta be…
And you, you’re the only man for me.
I don’t want you to be misled,
I mean what I said.
Come on, come on, come on.

I should thought I was putting you out,
I should thought I was happy you went away,
Putting you down was tearing me up,
That’s the reason I’m calling you home to stay.
Everybody’s gonna tell me I’m a doesn’t matter,
I really truly truly truly truly truly can dig it,
I really and truly truly can dig it,
I really can dig it,
I really can dig it,
I really can dig it,
I really can dig it,
Baby, I’m a dunce, I can believe it,
We don’t love.
But once,
So you see, baby

That people call me dumb,
For making up with you,
But when you go I’m numb
So what else am I gonna do?
Maybe I’ll take you back,
Maybe you’ll do me right,
Tired of lonely days,
And of many a lonely night.
So if you’re broke again,
And you need a friend,
Come on home.

And be welcome to stay,
Baby, tell me you’re coming home,
Living alone is so lonely
I never should ever have run you away.

Baby, come home.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010
  EC tribute by Bruce Timm

Amicus producer Milton Subotsky stumbled onto one of the most inexpensive special effects ever with the crawling hand seen in Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965). Russ Jones told of how Subotsky loved to wind it up and have it crawl across his office floor.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010
  Manga in Moscow
Russia's Winzavod, the Moscow Centre for Contemporary Art, is a 215,000-square-foot exhibition area in an industrial section behind the Kursk Railroad Station. It opened in 2007. For the history of Winzavod, going back to its 1889 origin as a winery, go here.

In May, Winzavod staged one of Europe's largest comics festivals, including an exhibit of comics from America, Argentina, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Poland and Russia.

Festival coordinator Anastasia Grabakh appears in this video of the exhibition by Anton Murad, who has a genuine flair for skillfully editing his footage.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010
  Roy Crane's forgotten Frank Battle
In 1929, Roy Crane introduced Captain Easy into his Wash Tubbs daily strip. By the following year, he was ready to do a Sunday page. But it wasn't Captain Easy. Instead, it was Frank Battle, an adventure in a Treasure Island vein. The Sunday Captain Easy didn't come along until 1933. Frank Battle was created as a sample and submitted to NEA in 1930 with an attached note indicating that a second page might exist. Has anyone ever seen it?

For more on Frank Battle, see the new Fantagraphics Captain Easy collection. It features a selection of Crane's original color guides, a biographical/critical introduction by comics scholar Jeet Heer illustrated with rare Crane art, a preface by series editor Rick Norwood, and a foreword by Charles M. Schulz (from the 1974 Luna Press Wash Tubbs collection).

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Thursday, May 13, 2010
  Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac
Now we travel to Arlington, Virginia for the launch of Richard Thompson's new website nicely designed by Chris Sparks. Click here.

<--------- It looks like this.

Of course, Richard Thompson's Cul de Sac is quite different from Roman Polanski's Cul de Sac. For the Polanski film, go here.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Here are three drawings I did in 1962 for the third issue of Castle of Frankenstein. I remember it was freezing cold the first time I went out to North Bergen, New Jersey to work on Calvin Beck's magazine in late December 1962. Issue #3 was partially completed, and my job was to finish the paste-ups. I suggested cartoon department headings and did these later when I was back at my apartment on West 10th Street. The originals are long lost, so I've attempted a clean-up restoration from the printed magazine pages. The word "movie" was done with white press-type, while "noose reel" is an imitation of the distinctive display lettering Ben Oda and Joe Orlando created for comic book story titles.


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Sunday, May 09, 2010
  Wood Chips 18: Goody Bumpkin

This is Wally Wood's Goody Bumpkin from Wham-O Giant Comics (April, 1967). We published the story in black and white in Against the Grain. The 52-page Wham-O measured 14" wide and 21" high with 1500 panels used to tell 24 stories. As evident below, the coloring was not very appealing.

Craig Yoe just reprinted Goody Bumpkin in his Golden Treasury of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics (IDW, 2010).

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

With a failed car bomb currently in the news and The Pacific miniseries nearing a conclusion on HBO, this is just a reminder that today is the 65th anniversary of the only people killed by enemy attack in the mainland of America during World War II. The deaths were caused by a Japanese balloon bomb on May 5, 1945.

To read my 2009 post on that event, go to "Long before 9/11 there was 5/5".

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Monday, May 03, 2010
Oddly, I never knew of this photo until years after writing the story below.

Maria Montez in Cobra Woman (1944)

After Russ Jones and I did the series of stories for Charlton in 1972, we moved on to stories for Marvel. "The Collection" below was published in Marvel's b/w magazine Vampire Tales #3 (February 1974), edited by Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman. The credits are not exactly as they appear. It was drawn by Paul Reinman, but for reasons I don't recall, it came back to us for the finish. The inking is by Russ, and I did background inking and the title display lettering.

Russ had no input on the script. The story was entirely scripted by me. I got the idea from a photograph that had once appeared in Esquire showing the actress Jeanne Crain with a collector of Jeanne Crain memorabilia, who did indeed have posters varnished into the floor just as I describe in the story. However, the character of Millicent Mason was not inspired by Jeanne Crain but was based on the B-movie actress Maria Montez (1912-1951), who appeared in such films as Sudan (1945) and Siren of Atlantis (1949).

Note the partially obscured mention of the low-budget Monogram Pictures, one of Hollywood's leading Poverty Row studios of the 1930s and 1940s. I don't know why I made the reference to Laura La Plante; Russ had designed a beautiful hardcover book about Hollywood mansions, so maybe that was a source. Or maybe because she was associated with creepy mansions in The Cat and the Canary (1927) and her other long-ago films.

The Esquire photo haunted me, as I kept wondering: What was the reaction of the collector to having the actress he idolized standing in the middle of his collection? Had he collected her in a sense? The Cornell Woolrich type twist would be to instead have her collect him. My original ending was a panel showing three weak and pale, half-starved guys standing in the basement near the hot water heater with Millicent Mason saying, "You see, I didn't have many fans, but those I did have, I kept." She then locks him in the basement with the other fans she had collected. As far as I knew, no story had ever used that premise. I wanted to title the story "The Collector", but that title could confuse the reader because it immediately made one think of the 1963 John Fowles novel and the 1965 William Wyler film, The Collector, with Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar.

I was stunned to read the published story and see my Woolrich-like pay-off was gone. Marvel had rewritten and redrawn the last panel to make Millie a vampire, turning a psychological crime story with a fresh approach into a routine, forgettable cliche. The top of the first page also appears to have been altered with a crude and amateurish paste-up. I don't know what was changed there, but note the thought bubbles directly over Chris' head, indicating a thought balloon that has been covered.

The editors' disrespect for my original ending was so disappointing and disturbing that I never submitted any script to Marvel after that.

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Masquerade of the albino axolotls

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is the editor of Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (2003), reviewed by Paul Gravett.

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