Saturday, February 28, 2009
  Huh huh! Dig, Dig, Dig, Dig, Dig!
. Control click heading above to hear 1948 Spike Jones radio program with guest Peter Lorre.
Chester Gould's The Mole of the early 1940s returns in April when IDW publishes Volume Seven of The Complete Dick Tracy (1941-42). A decade later, the character was the inspiration for Bill Elder and Harvey Kurtzman's Melvin Mole in Mad #2 (December 1952-January 1953). The story "Mole!" was one of the memorable creations of the early Mad, kick-starting the comic book and catapulting it into unexplored valleys obscured by clouds. For an illustrated review of Mad #2, see Eddie Hunter's Chicken Fat.

After one had read "Mole!" and Wally Wood's "Blobs!" (Mad #1), readers had to pick up #3 and #4 just to see what was erupting from the manhole covers at 225 Lafayette Street. What rough beast, its hour come round at last, was slouching towards Madison Avenue to be born? Dig, dig!

©2009 EC Publications

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009
  Wood Chips 8
Two Wally Wood self-portraits from two different stages of his life. In "The Jumper," from his Paratrooper days in the 1940s, the youthful Wood floats outside the picture plane. Decades later, he sketched the bar scene, evidently a mirror reflection, since he is holding the drink in his left hand. Note hint of Death figure waiting outside the door.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009
  eBoy's 81st Annual Academy Awards
Control-click heading above to hear the St. Louis Harmony Chorus do the 20th Century Fox Fanfare. Then quickly enlarge image before music begins for our coolest audio-visual juxtaposition yet.

eBoy is a Berlin-based digital design collective (Steffen Sauerteig, Svend Smital and Kai Vermehr) which produces posters, illustrations and toys. This illustration was done for the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Compare the two groups behind stanchions at the red carpet, and you will see that the figures repeat.

© 2008 eBoy Sauerteig/Smital/Vermehr

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Friday, February 20, 2009
  1981: I Read the Electronic News Today, Oh Boy
End of an era: Newspaper Death Watch

Note "Subscribe to Fred!" in this screenshot. Fred the Computer was a pioneering news BBS operated by The Middlesex News (Framingham, Massachusetts) during the 1980s. It had one of the earliest archives of newspaper movie reviews.

"Owns Home Computer": 1981 report on KRON in San Francisco (which then had 3000 computers):

"Newspapers via CompuServe," one of many cyber footnotes at David Carlson's Online Timeline:

The 11 newspapers involved in the CompuServe experiment are: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, The Los Angeles Times, The Middlesex (Framingham, Mass.) News, The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Virginian Pilot and Ledger Star (Norfolk) and The Washington Post.

Each of the 11 newspapers transmits its daily, computer-stored, electronic version via telephone modem to CompuServe's host computers in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, CompuServe is the largest consumer online service in the United States with more than 20,000 subscribers. Its fastest modems are 300 Bps.

The experiment begins with the Columbus Dispatch in July, 1980. It is joined by The New York Times, The Virginian Pilot and Ledger Star, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle between January and March 1981. From June to October 1981, the rest of the papers join in the following order: Los Angeles, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Atlanta, The San Francisco Examiner and The Middlesex News.

After seven months, Minneapolis is the first to drop out. In June, 1981, AP President and General Manager Keith Fuller is quoted as saying: "Since the newspapers began providing their electronic editions to CompuServe, CompuServe has grown from 3,600 subscribers in mid-1980 to more than 10,000 in the first quarter of 1981." However, most give the credit for the growth to Radio Shack, which introduces the first low-cost devices (the Videotex Terminal and the TRS-80 Color Computer) during the same period...

Source: "The Electronic Newspaper: Fact or Fetish," Elizabeth M. Ferrarini, "Videotex - key to the information revolution," Online Ltd, 1982, pp 45-57.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
  Emsh #2: Bill Griffith and the Mekas Brothers in Outer Space

Below is an excerpt from Adolfas Mekas' Hallelujah the Hills (1963), shown at the first New York Film Festival. The cinematography on Hallelujah the Hills was by Ed Emshwiller. During the time of the filming, Emshwiller painted this cover for the April 1963 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, illustrating a James White story, "Fast Trip," about a crew member who starves so another can remain strong enough to pilot the spacecraft. Anyone who knew Adolfas and Jonas Mekas back then instantly recognized them as the anguished astronauts. The painting played like an inside joke, since Adolfas always appeared quite healthy, while Jonas seemed somewhat undernourished. 

Emshwiller's neighbor in Levittown was future Zippy cartoonist Bill Griffith. He painted the 13-year-old Griffith and his father into this issue of Original Science Fiction (September 1957).

For our previous post on Emshwiller, go here.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009
  A Valentine for Gypsy Lou

Click for huge enlargement of orange/yellow-clad Gypsy Lou Webb in the French Quarter during the early 1960s with her artwork on wall at St. Peter and Royal Street. She was not identified in this c. 1960-61 postcard published by New Orleans' Post Card Specialties. Instead, the caption reads: "Street scene typical in the Vieux Carre, French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. The iron lace balconies of the buildings on left are famous for their intricate design, in an area where wrought and cast iron work is the commonplace."

Behind one of the balconies, at 618 Rue Ursulines, was Loujon Press where Gypsy Lou and Jon Webb published such writers as Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac and Colin Wilson. Go to Edwin Hunter's Chicken Fat to see a photo of Gypsy Lou that Hunter took in January 1965. As he explains, she also sold Harvey Kurtzman's Trump alongside the poetry publications.

Review of the Jeff Weddle book and the Wayne Ewing documentary by Flickhead. University of Alabama lecture on literary magazines by Jeff Weddle (December 4, 2007). Also listen to Weddle reading his own poetry.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009
  Harvey Dinnerstein
Harvey Dinnerstein is represented by the Frey Norris Gallery in San Francisco. His paintings are collected in the new book, Underground Together: The Life and Art of Harvey Dinnerstein (Chronicle Books, 2008).

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
  eBoy's Communication City
eBoy is a Berlin-based design collective (Steffen Sauerteig, Svend Smital and Kai Vermehr) which produces posters, illustrations and toys.

© 2008 eBoy Sauerteig/Smital/Vermehr
Friday, February 06, 2009
  Follow the bouncing ball

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Monday, February 02, 2009
  Surge #2

We covered Josh Neufeld's webcomics graphic novel, A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge, about Katrina a year ago. To read all chapters, go here. The print version arrives this summer, published by Pantheon. While you're waiting, read Sarah Jaffe's interview with Josh Neufeld.
In his blog Four-Eyes, Neufeld comments:

The Pantheon version of A.D. will be greatly expanded from the online version, with lots of new material covering the Convention Center and the characters' lives since the hurricane. In total, there are 65 new pieces of art out of a total of 290. The reason I call them "pieces of art" instead of "pages" was because of the format I drew A.D. for the web, where each "page" of the web version became in essence half a page of the book version. Forget it, it's too complicated. The simplest thing is to say that the book will have nearly 25% more original art — as well as major revisions, text changes, and re-colorizations of the previous work. The whole thing is gonna weigh in at just about 200 pages.

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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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