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Robert Crumb, one of the greatest comic artists, will be on WFMU to talk about his passion for old music today (part 1 of 2). The station will make it available as video too. Here's what they said on their blog:
Underground artist/hero and avid 78 RPM collector Robert Crumb joins Mac on the Antique Phonograph Music Program. He will talk about why no music recorded after the 1930s matters, and provide other nuggets of wisdom gleaned from 50+ years spent collecting records. Links will be provided to video of Crumb's interview! It happens on 4/5 from 8 to 9 PM (part 1 of 2).
I looked at the program link, and if you have any interest in old records, you might get lost in their archives. Looks like there are a lot of shows there that can be clicked upon.
kip_w: (1971)
re: re-re-re-re-reading

Every day, I read just a few more pages of Jules Feiffer's America. This is the 25th anniversary collection of his comic strips. Inimitable, though often imitated, they are amazingly concentrated and powerful stuff.

Feiffer was already an experienced professional who had worked for Will Eisner by the time he hit the ground running during the Eisenhower administration. His drawings shimmered from one style to another briefly before settling into a style so direct and unvarnished it sometimes seems like no style at all. Though famous for his talking heads, his action drawings are full of life, especially his dancers (male and female), caught at moments of poise and release, like key drawings by a great animator.

Typically existing for about eight panels, his characters breathe nervous life. He sets up small slices of them speaking to us, panel leading to panel, until they have unwittingly revealed their hearts. Sometimes they are us, and the recognition is not always comfortable. Sometimes they are the evil others, only they look and sound a bit more like us than we would like.

They are history lessons for moderns who think the 50s were a sitcom, the 60s were a love-in, and our current problems are something entirely new and novel. His Eisenhower-era strips are insightful, and I'd read many of them so often before that I can't recall them being a revelation. His Kennedy strips are a jolt of cold water to Camelot fantasists. His JFK was vital, sharp, alive, and also shallow and poll-driven. Feiffer stuck it to him mercilessly, depicting him as a choreographed dancer "doin' the Frontier drag." LBJ was a shining knight until he revealed too much of himself; then he was a particularly disappointing political hack. Nixon -- well, we all know Nixon. So did he. Jerry Ford? "Shut up and ski, Jerry." Carter was Jimmy the Cloud.

I haven't been quoting (except for Jerry) because if I start, I won't stop. It's all too good.

I can't recommend this 25th-anniversary collection too highly. It's been more than 25 years since it came out, and I wish he'd do a follow-up. I don't know if reading all his strips in order without the filter of the creator choosing what to include would match the impact of this set, but I'd be willing to find out. Fantagraphics has started the ball rolling, and the volume they've done calls to me from the store shelves. Would that I were wealthier.

originally posted at The New Pals Club Web-Log
kip_w: (1971)
Before it vanishes, as it has other times, do yourself a favor and spend some entertaining time immersed in the scholarly pages of The Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion by Eric Costello.

I can't mention it without bragging that I -- yes, I! -- once had the privilege of serializing this groundbreaking reference in the pages of a monthly cartoon APA (private magazine that went out to the contributors). Once I learned that Costello was doing this, and having seen it, I got his permission to run a few pages of it each issue, with the intention of turning the text files over to him afterward, so that he wouldn't have to type the thing over another time, and could get it published somewhere reputable. My term of office expired before it was completely finished, but by then (or soon after) he took the show to the net where it could be appreciated by a wider audience.

So. You might ask what this wonderful thing is? (I pause while you ask.) It's a guide to all the puzzling references, in-jokes, catch-phrases and ad jingles that enlivened the classic Warner Brothers cartoons, and which now confuse and confound audiences, even as their kids are shouting "TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!" or asking "Was this trip really necessary?" Radio jokes, ration coupons, opaque slang, Texas trivia, aspects of Hollywood stars, and other detritus of the collective unconscious are aired and explicated herein.

A note of caution: It comes and goes. It seems that no sooner has Mr. Costello found a home for this indispensable repository of knowledge than something happens leading to a 404 NOT FOUND message. A Google search will show you all manner of no-longer-viable WBCC locations. We recommend saving the whole thing to your hard drive, and maybe converting it to some format in which you can carry it with you wherever you go. It's that good. Samples:


The Last of the Red-hot Gobblers. A caricature in The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos (Tashlin, 1937) of Sophie Tucker.


One of the many advertising slogans for Lucky Strike cigarettes. Daffy-Duck-as-Danny-Kaye mentions the slogan in Book Revue (Clampett, 1946). The Christopher Columbus character in Hare We Go (McKimson, 1951) yells the phrase in exasperation at King Ferdinand while attempting to prove the Earth is round. Henery Hawk also used the expression when confronted with a fine specimen of alleged chicken tail.


Cigar-smoking character actor with a dour face who was well-known and often imitated. His movie appearances include 42nd Street, Golddiggers of 1933 in which he playeed the producer, the live-action Alice in Wonderland as the Caterpillar, and Wake Up and Live.

Caricatures of Sparks appear in:

  • Hollywood Steps Out (Avery, 1941) greeting the table of stonefaces
  • Malibu Beach Party (Freleng, 1940) being buried in sand by Baby Snooks/Fanny Brice
  • Slap-Happy Pappy (Clampett, 1940) indicating his joy (?) at the news that Eddie Cackler (caricature of Eddie Cantor) is going to be the father of a boy
  • Fresh Fish (Avery, 1939) as an old crab

It is quite possible that the Rip Van Winkle character in Have You Got Any Castles? (Tashlin, 1938) is a Sparks caricature as well, given the character’s voice.

These are three successive entries, taken from the page I had it open to when I started this. I can't promise that the internal links work, but it gives you the names and the meanings -- there's enough there to satisfy your curiosity and make you want to watch all the cartoons again.

originally posted at The New Pals Club Web-Log
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In case you don't have easy access to a copy of this superb video -- my pick for the best animated video EVAH -- here's an online version of The Squirrel Nut Zippers doing "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" with black and white faux-Fleischer that is absolutely convincing. One of their CDs has the video on it. I think it's "Bedlam Ballroom." Anyway, it's a Christmas present, of a sort.

Ho Ho Ho!
kip_w: (tree)
But you can turn an x-ray eye on favorite cartoon characters and see what lurks below the fur and feathers. This is not smut (awwww), but the result of some concentrated thinking on things that were never made to hold concentrated thought. I'm personally glad that people have enough time to do things like this. I wish... I wish... but never mind. It'd be nice to be in Stumpville, Oregon this month, though, because these are on exhibit there.

"O swell new world, to have such nifty stuff." --Shakes
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I'm enjoying the new anthology of every New Yorker cartoon published through 2004. Some of the commentary reminds me that many great cartoonists used writers. Moreover, it tells me that the identity of these writers is very often known. I wonder if somebody would be so kind as to put together an anthology by writer? We could do a half dozen or so in the book, and see their famous cartoons with well-known cartoonist names attached. Illuminating, I'd think.

I see Sarah has been licking the screen. Kids.

"I'm sorry, I've forgotten your, ah, your..."
"Ah, yes! That's it, thanks! Yes, your name."
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VIZ number 139 came a day or so ago. I started reading with issue 38. It's been a while (they used to do fewer issues a year, too).

Anyway, the inside front cover has an ad(vert) for volumes 5-6 of the Tom & Jerry Collector's Edition. 57 animated classics! How classic are they? Just read this blurb: "This third HMV exclusive double pack concludes the series of vintage Tom & Jerry cartoons newly available on DVD in 2004." Concludes? Ah. The bottom-of-the-barrel years. Though I must note that one Deitch T&J and one Jones T&J made it onto my list of 50 favorite cartoons. Anyway, it goes on: "Drawing from the work of such celebrated animators as Fred Quimby, Gene Deitch, Chuck Jones and Hanna Barbera." Sentence fragment in original.

Impressive, yes? Who knew that Fred Quimby was an animator? I mean, I have seen his signature on the syndicated Tom & Jerry cartoon strip, but who knew the man could animate as well? A triple threat! Cartoonist, animator, and pointy-haired producer. And of course, in addition to the unknown trove of Quimby-animated Tom & Jerrys, there are also the works of the previously unknown Hanna Barbera -- maybe Joe's wife?

Yeah, I know. No punch line. Hey, how about them zebras?

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