Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Pseudonym Odyssey, Part Two by Greg Dziawer

Another piece of the Pete La Roche puzzle has surrfaced.
Recently, we shared an article by the mysterious Pete La Roche, a man whose name is often touted as a pseudonym for Edward D. Wood, Jr., from a late 1960s adult mag, and this week we're sharing another La Roche-credited article. Like the piece about William S. Hart, the following article is also about a Western film star and also first appeared in True West magazine in 1971:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spirits from the vasty deep

Pink Flamingos family portrait, modeled after a Diane Arbus photo (right).

What's in my filing cabinet.
Probably the oldest thing I have in my apartment, other than what's in the refrigerator (that's a joke; my fridge is empty), is a large gray filing cabinet that I keep in my bedroom/home office. It's an ugly, ungainly monstrosity that dates back to, I'm guessing, the 1950s. There's nothing elegant about it. In fact, it has sharp metal corners that have injured me several times. Why do I keep it around? I don't know. Sentimentality, I guess, though I can't say for sure where the cabinet came from or how it came into my possession. I used to have two of them, but I threw one out. So what's in the one remaining filing cabinet? Junk, mostly. Old CDs and VHS tapes take up the top three drawers. The fourth is filled with manila folders, containing assorted papers from the late 1980s and 1990s.

I was more of a pack rat back in the '90s. I was also more fanatical about my pop culture obsessions: Rocky Horror, They Might Be Giants, Spinal Tap, John Waters, Phantom of the Paradise, A Clockwork Orange, "Weird Al" Yankovic, etc. I still like all that stuff, but I'm not a rabid collector the way I used to be. I have a few thick folders of newsletters, postcards, and clippings related to They Might Be Giants, dating back to about 1988 or so. Nowadays, I barely keep up with TMBG. I think I've skipped their last two or three albums, something that would have been unthinkable to my teenage self. I haven't seen them in concert in god knows how long. Sixteen years at least. Yikes.

What happened? I dunno. People get older. Ardor cools. Adulthood calls. There are bills and dental appointments and shit like that. The Internet killed a lot of my fandom, really. When I started out as a TMBG fan, it was hard finding their stuff. I had to go to out-of-the-way record stores to locate EPs and singles. Press coverage was minimal, so I obsessively clipped every magazine and newspaper article I could find. That was oddly rewarding to me. Now, with just a one-second Google search, I could find more information about TMBG than I could ever hope to get through in a dozen lifetimes. Yawn.

But every once in a while, I get the urge to go through that filing cabinet and rifle through my grunge era memories. Today I went through my personal John Waters archives. Mostly, it was articles I'd photocopied at the college library. There was a mid-1990s Polyester Odorama card, too, and it very much retained its original smell. To a fault, you might say. The oddest, most personal find was a bit of fan art I'd apparently started and then abandoned about 20 years ago. It depicted the cast of Pink Flamingos posed as if they were in a Diane Arbus photo. Drawn in pencil on fragile typing paper, it was badly faded and barely visible. You can see it at the top of this post. Other than making it darker so that it shows up on your screen, I've left it as it was back then. It reminds me of the person I used to be, the one who would do crude fan art while watching VHS tapes of his favorite John Waters movies.

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Promo Odyssey, Part One by Greg Dziawer

Splash page drawing credited to ErtaG, from Dominion Publishing's Salt,y vol. 1,  no. 6, 1969.

If I asked you to reflect for a moment on avenues of promotion for Ed Wood's work, you might first conjure trailers for his '50s auteur corpus or even the hyperbolic trailer for 1974's Fugitive Girls narrated breathlessly by screenwriter and supporting player Ed. In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, however, we're taking a glimpse at another promotional avenue: a vintage magazine ad for Ed's paperback books, presented in its original context.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Disintegrating 'Blondie'

Three takes on today's Blondie.

I am no longer satisfied with merely discussing or even deconstructing the comic strip Blondie. Now I want to completely disintegrate it. I want to watch it devolve into chaos in front of my eyes. This strip has been running continuously since 1930, and there's a good chance that it was never once funny in all those 86 years. But there's an eerie kind of perfection to Blondie. It seems to take place in this vacuum-sealed Pleasantville reality that stopped evolving sometime during the Eisenhower years. Every once in a while, they make some cosmetic change to the strip to keep it up to date, like giving Dagwood Bumstead a computer at his desk or letting his wife Blondie start her own catering company, but the DNA of the strip does not change. Look at the way Dagwood and his boss, Mr. Dithers, are dressed in the strip up at the top. Where do you even buy clothes like that, except at some vintage resale shop in Brooklyn? And look at their anatomy. Why are Dagwood's shins so short? And why do Dithers and (I think) all the male characters bend their knees like that when they stand? Being a Blondie character would be so uncomfortable. The clothing looks itchy, and the poses are unnatural.

Presented here are the original strip, plus two of my variations on it. In the first, Dagwood has been removed, and it is suggested that he might be Mr. Dithers' own personal Tyler Durden. But then, I wanted to take it a little farther and get rid of both Dagwood and Dithers. Look at that third version of the strip, beautifully depopulated. It's subtle, but the camera angle actually changes from panel one to panel two. And yet, the shine on the floor is in exactly the same spot. The floors in Blondie tend to be very, very shiny indeed. It's one of my favorite visual elements of the strip. I prefer the floors to the human characters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part Four by Greg Dziawer

A new variation on Glen or Glenda? perhaps: Artwork by Phil Cambridge.

"I asked him about angora, why not silk or satin? He said, 'There's nothing more sensual than angora.'"
-Phil Cambridge, Nightmare of Ecstasy

"And he wore those women's cuffs, and always an angora top, an angora sweater... He was always on the sauce... always."
The art of Phil Cambridge adorned hundreds of splash pages for short stories and articles appearing in the Pendulum family of  adult magazines, including dozens by Ed Wood. This week, we're taking a closer look at some of Phil's work: his fine, flowing lines and evocative shading effortlessly painting somber moods. His work, as much as any of the artists at Pendulum, defined the look and feel of these mags. Ed was the go-to writer at the Pendulum office for the gay-themed mags. His stories and articles there among his most revealing and personal, and Phil contributed some of his most plaintive work in that milieu.

Note: Due to the nature of the artwork in this week's story, the images themselves will be posted to the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr. They are, to one degree or another, NSFW. Proceed with caution.

  • A splash page image by Phil Cambridge for the uncredited article "Gay Power" from Gay Studs, vol. 1,  no. 2, 1969. 
  • "Blindfold" from The Boy Friends, vol. 2,  no. 1. Artwork by Phil Cambridge.
  • The Cambridge splash page for Ed's short story "I, Warlock." This story also appeared in Gay Guys Book 1 with an identical layout. A Libra Press publication circa 1971.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Fun time with the funnies! For fun!

I've actually made this cartoon less depressing than it normally is.

Have I ever written about Pluggers here before?  It's a syndicated newspaper cartoon feature by Gary Brookins, the same guy who draws Shoe now. It's a one-panel deal, like Ziggy or Dennis The Menace, so it's technically not a comic. Anyhoo, Pluggers is about the daily trials and travails of  aging, out of shape, working-class white people, except all the parts are played by animals like cats, dogs, rhinos, and chickens. Most of the punchlines are phrased in the form of "You're a plugger if..." so it's kind of like Jeff Foxworthy in cartoon form. What's weird is how relentlessly bleak it is. The average plugger is morbidly obese, depressed, sedentary, and stuck in an inescapable rut. Their lives suck. So naturally, it's a good fit with the modern day comics section, a veritable all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of misery. I've referenced the dour Funky Winkerbean here, you may have noticed.

One of the least depressing of the so-called "legacy" or "zombie" strips -- those titles that continue for decades after their creators die -- is Blondie. The strip's protagonist, suburban dimwit Dagwood Bumstead, is so relentlessly upbeat that he cannot fathom real-world problems, like the ones that plague pluggers ever day. He is a real Pollyanna type. I mentioned that this week over at Josh Fruhlinger's blog, The Comics Curmudgeon, and for my troubles I was awarded the coveted "Comment of the Week."  Enjoy.

“How wonderful being Dagwood must feel. Imagine seeing the world through his sclera-less eyes and processing it with his Dippity-Do-covered brain. When a homeless panhandler mysteriously disappears from the streets of his hometown, Dagwood’s assumption is: ‘Oh, he must have found gainful employment at a place that treats him like a human being of value. What a rich, fulfilling new life he must be living now.’” –Joe Blevins

And, just because I thought it was funny, here's a mashup of "Rex Morgan, MD" and Reservoir Dogs.

And here's a special Garfield ghostwritten by Dilbert creator Scott Adams:

Maybe it's more legible at this size?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Ed-Tribution Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

Greg said it was okay to reuse this header image from last week. In fact, he requested it.
Anyone who has read more than a handful of my Ed Wood Wednesdays posts certainly knows that false claims of Ed's authorship (or mis-Ed-tributions, as I like to call them) really get my goat. First off, when claimed deliberately, it's lying. And lying, as we all well know, is wrong. An infantile ethical hangup. Secondly, it's lying for the sake of material gain, and as we also know, two wrongs don't make a right. Now, of course, there are those who claim that one who does wrong is right, and one who does right is wrong.

This week we're pulling the string and unraveling three current Ebay auctions, all of them mis-Ed-tributing titles credited to Dr. T.K. Peters. All three issue from the same seller, and in the interest of fairness, I will assume he/she makes the claim in ignorant good faith. In other words, I've yet to email the seller. His/her username at Ebay (redboldface) curiously suggests the word baldface, a word I've only ever heard used in conjunction with one other word (begins with L). Make of that what you will.

To cut to the chase, for once - and not repeat the stories of Wood at Pendulum/Calga, and Bernie Bloom, and the T.K. Peters source - here are the auction postings (until the links finally disappear) and who actually wrote them:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Leroy victorious!

It had to end with one of them dying.

King Features Syndicate released the last-ever installment of The Lockhorns, a cartoon feature that has been running in newspapers since 1968, today. Actually, no, that's not true at all. I don't know why I said that. Upon further reflection, this cartoon didn't seem complete. Here's a multi-panel version of my Lockhorns finale. Enjoy.