Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Magazine Odyssey, Part Eight by Greg Dziawer

The logo for Libra Press.

Original artwork for "Superfruit."
While the Age of Aquarius was dawning everywhere else, the preferred Zodiac sign at 5585 W Pico Blvd in Los Angeles circa 1970 was Libra. Libra Press, that is, one of the more mysterious imprints coming out of the Pendulum family of publications.

As Joe Blevins noted in his review of Ed Wood's short story, "Superfruit," the address, the presence of Ed's fiction, and the layout and design of the magazines are all dead giveaways that Libra was yet another Pendulum-related publication. Curiously, unlike now-better-known-and-documented imprints, including Pendulum, Calga, Gallery Press, SECS Press, and Edusex, no Libra titles appear to have been filed for copyright in the first half of the '70s. Hence, the full extent of Libra Press titles is hard to pin down. Only a handful of issues appear to be floating through the hands of collectors and sellers, but those suggest a span, as early as 1970 through 1976, covering the majority of time the other magazines imprints were published. 

"Superfruit," credited under Wood's own name, originally appeared in Meatrack, a gay-themed Libra publication, in its first issue from 1971. Another Ed-penned piece titled "The Gay Suburbanite" appeared, without credit, in that same issue. The review of "Superfruit" linked above originally indicated that the story had appeared in Luscious. Upon further inspection, the editorial contents page for Luscious (featuring Neola Graf, aka Malta) mistakenly appeared in Meatrack. This was likely a printing error in the fast and loose world of Pendulum, where material was oft-times recycled. That page makes it clear that Luscious was heterosexual in orientation, and the level of detail suggests a complete magazine we've yet to locate. Beyond that title, we know the following Libra issues did exist, with contents as noted when known:

  • Meatrack - Book One - 1971 - Includes "Superfruit" and "The Gay Suburbanite," both by Ed.
  • Sex Affairs - Book Two - 1970s (cover price suggests '75-'76) - Includes pictorials with uncredited text: "Two on a Couch"; "Therapeutic Fantasy"; "The Magic Carpet"; "The No-Tell Motel"; and "The Juggler, Conclusion of a Two-Part Erotic Tale" by Garth Prawn. Part one presumably appeared in book one of this same title.
  • Whiplash - Book One - 1970's (cover price suggests '75-'76) - Includes Ed's short fiction "You Gotta Have a Fetish, You Gotta Have a Gimmick" (under the pseudonym Ann Gora) and two uncredited articles on fetishism and public perception.
  • Illustrated Incest Case Histories - Book One - 1976 - "Case Histories: All in the Family"; "Mrs. Jefferson and Selma"; "Mrs. Jefferson and Pete"; "Pete and Selma." Articles: "The Stigma of Incest"; "Incestuous Fantasies."
  • Love & Sex - Book One - 1976 - Articles/pictorials with uncredited text: "Sexual Mores and Sexual Behavior"; "Tips on Intercourse"; "Sex and the Common Object"; "How Much and How Often?"; "The American Bosom Madness"

We hope this is a starting point for exploration of terrain where more of Ed's work will appear. The eagle-eyed Woodologist should note that some magazines from the Pendulum family carried the address of 5583 W Pico. Leo Eaton, a fellow staffer of Ed's in the Pendulum office, recently explained to me the office layout, delineating numerous office suites that account for the multiple addresses: "The writer's offices were separated from the art department by a door that was on an an electric lock. You came into the building through a back entrance in the parking lot, clocked in (yes, we all had time cards), and the writers turned left while the artists turned right. The executives went in through the front door on W Pico."

The Libra Press logo was, fittingly, the scales. Librans are ruled by Venus, but at Libra Press, love was merely synonymous with sex. Despite generally possessing balance and harmony, Libran men can be reckless gamblers, and while typically easygoing, Librans can shock with storms of rage. They can be fussy over their appearance. Their most suitable professions include artists, writers and actors.

Born October 10, 1924, Ed was, perhaps not coincidentally, a Libra. 

Special thanks to Bob Blackburn, for the cover and information regarding Meatrack, and to Leo Eaton, for providing priceless real-world details of the Pendulum magazine office.

BONUS: Enjoy some vintage Libra Press covers and an uncensored version of that Luscious contents page at the Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr right here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Today's 'Snuffy Smith' needed some major renovations

Take one, two, and three of today's Snuffy Smith.

When a comic has been running since 1919, as Barney Google And Snuffy Smith has, it's understandable that it will have an off day. Or month. Or decade. Or generation. But today's installment, which you can see at the top of this post, seemed to include a rookie mistake. I think our artist has gotten his left and his right confused. Assuming that big tan wall behind Mary Beth and Loweezy doesn't move, how does the end table with the framed picture jump from one side to the other? It makes no sense. I had to fix it. That's the comic you see in the middle row. I took the opportunity to spruce up the timing of the joke, too, having Loweezy pause after the word "energy" before delivering the punchline. It's the influence of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who always pauses before adding: "For me to poop on!" Anyway, I realized the punchline was lousy and the comic would work better without it. That's the comic you see in the bottom row, and it's the only one of the three to make me laugh.

P.S.  Here's a bonus Funky Winkerbean remix. Again, it helped tremendously to get rid of the punchline.

Also: Les farts loudly and pungently between the first and second panels.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Adventures of Sarah Morgan, Child Genius

Cats are sometimes difficult to identify.

You might think that a comic strip called Rex Morgan, MD would be about a doctor named Rex Morgan and all the medical stuff he does all day. You'd be wrong. Rex is more of a supporting character in the strip that bears his name, and he's such a vacuous dimwit that you wouldn't want him doing any doctoring. Instead, the main character is Rex's precocious daughter Sarah, who has a career as an art prodigy going and who looks like a grown man in a bad wig in closeups. Sarah is the creepy heart and icky soul of Rex Morgan, MD, and eventually the strip will bear her name. Until that glorious day, here is my pilot for the reboot.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

George Wilson cannot enjoy even the smallest of victories

An expanded Dennis The Menace cartoon.

In his landmark 1993 book Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud stated that single-panel newspaper features like Bil Keane's The Family Circus do not qualify as comics because they lack sequential juxtaposition, i.e. the very feature that defines comics as a unique medium. I wonder what Mr. McCloud might make of Hank Ketcham's Dennis The Menace. From Monday to Saturday, Dennis is (usually) a single-panel feature with a very limited cast in a very defined setting. On Sundays, it expands to a multi-panel layout. And, every once in a while, the thankless artists who do the strip today (Ketcham died in 2001) will divide one of the daily panels into halves. So Dennis The Menace is occasionally a comic and occasionally not a comic. It is the Schrodinger's cat of the cartoon world. I think it should be a multi-panel feature every day. Sometimes, when there's just one panel to work with, the joke is not really complete. Today's Dennis is a perfect example. You see it up there at the top left. It needed a couple more panels to be whole. So I added them.

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Pseudonym Odyssey by Greg Dziawer

Let us now explore the mystery that is Pete La Roche.

The cover of Late Date.
At the very least, the name Pete La Roche is now generally accepted as a pseudonym for Ed Wood, as scriptwriter of the 1959 nudie Western Revenge of the Virgins. Additional La Roche credits suspected to be Ed are centered in the world of the Western, including Outlaw Queen (1952) and Wetbacks (1956). La Roche also penned at least a few articles about the genre, including a piece profiling William S. Hart

None of this is new ground. Recently, eagle-eyed Woodologist Douglas North mentioned (in a Wood enthusiast/scholar forum) that he noticed the name Pete La Roche credited as author of a piece in Late Date, vol. 4 , no. 4 from 1967, a Parliament adult magazine. The fanciful title of that piece is tantalizing: "Flickers than Fanned the Flames." The appearance of La Roche's name in an adult magazine at that time and place, Ed just then embarking on a prolific career as a magazine staff writer, is even more intriguing.

Then, just a couple of days ago, I was scanning through some scans of vintage adult magazines, when all of a sudden the name Pete La Roche jumped out at me. The magazine is another Parliament title from 1967, Black Magic, containing La Roche's article "Hollywood's Sin-Inn." Its Hollywood Babylon tone, detailing the sins and debauchery of the stars, is highly atypical of Ed's work, but does connect to the Hart profile.

Is this Ed? We'll let the article speak for itself:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ed Wood Wednesdays, The Wood Collaborator Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

Wood-ologist Greg Dziawer reading Sex On Campus by Norman Bates with Dr. T.K. Peters.
"If he [Ed Wood] was working on a job like at Pendulum, he would start as soon as he got home. That would continue until about the time he would pass out at about 9:30 or 10, and then he would go to sleep wherever it was he passed out, wake up about 4 in the morning, and head immediately for the refrigerator for a big pitcher of Kool-Aid."

-Charles D. Anderson, from Rudolph Grey's Nightmare Of Ecstasy

One name that crops up regularly in Ed Wood's later years of writing pornography is that of editor and writer Charles D. Anderson. Like Wood, Anderson was a staffer at the Pendulum magazine offices on W. Pico Blvd. in the early 1970s. The two also shared the occasional project outside of magazine work, but they did not share a pseudonym. We've discussed a few titles sometimes still erroneously attributed to Ed and credited to Anderson's pseudonym Norman Bates previously here  and here. But now, let's take a closer look at Anderson's entire career.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

For no reason at all, a portrait of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

A devil-may-care Eddie in The Love Feast (1969).

This took a while, surprisingly. Longer than it should have. I'm sure this portrait of Ed Wood probably could have been accomplished in Photoshop in about five seconds, but I assure you, all those little blobs of color you see up there were done one at a time, painstakingly, over the course of a few hours. Yes, hours. During that time, using a small, grainy still of Ed as my only reference material, I spent quite a while contemplating the man's face. His appearance was pretty badly ravaged by 1969, thanks to all those years of alcoholism and professional rejection. I found some colors in his face that should not be found in human skin: grayish-brown patches with a hint of green and blobs of deep burgundy. A man's face should not match the carnation pinned to his jacket.

And yet, there's also something of the satyr in Ed's demeanor, even at this point in his life. There's a spark of playfulness in his eyes and his smile. Hopefully, I captured that. Either way, I can tell you that Ed's spotty necktie was a nightmare to capture, as was the shrubbery next to him. Tragically, I had to crop most of the shrubbery so that the pic would fit on this blog. The full version is here.

Incidentally, the title of this piece is A Chubby Angel With Gin Blossoms. It's a reference to the Overdrawn At The Memory Bank episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Here's another Wood portrait, this one based on Eddie's role in Mrs. Stone's Thing.

Ed feels pretty. Oh so pretty.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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

Welcome to the weird world of Carson Wade (center).

Ed Wood was an incredibly prolific author in the 1960s and '70s, as he toiled in the world of pornography and exploitation, but it can be difficult for his fans to determine which stories and books he actually wrote during those busy years. In fact, a number of works have been inaccurately attributed to Eddie, occasionally to drive up their value on the secondary market.

While we've previously played numerous rounds of Eddie or Not?, delving into the world of mistaken adult paperback Ed-tributions, let's not forget that the same holds true for Ed Wood's magazine work. Though we may dream of a full accounting of Ed's written output, a multitude of pseudonyms and a lack of credits make this a daunting challenge. But we've got to start some-vere.

The cover of Female Mimics, no. 1, vol. 4, 1964.

Let's start at the beginning. The article "Men In Skirts" originally appeared in a Fall 1964 issue of Female Mimics, a fetish mag published on the East Coast by Selbee Associates, headed by kink pioneer Leonard "Lenny" Burtman. Though credited to author Carlson Wade, "Men in Skirts" is one of the earliest speculated magazine writing credits I've come across for Ed Wood. I'm not exactly sure how Carlson Wade came to be considered a pseudonym for Ed, but it's not difficult to see the connections between these two writers. They were both extremely prolific and often covered similar niche subjects, specifically transvestism. And some of Wade's work seems suspiciously Wood-like on the surface.

Like this for example:

Splash page for a Wade Carlson article about vampirism.

Despite it now being generally known and accepted by fans that Carlson Wade and Ed Wood were two different people, with their own distinct writing credits, Wade's work is still occasionally mis-attributed to Ed. From time to time, an example will turn up on Ebay with an exorbitant price tag. For instance, back in 2014, one seller had listed for sale a copy of Carlson Wade's 1958 novel, Conquering Goddess, falsely claiming it to be Eddie's work. The seller was asking $180 for a book that Ed Wood didn't really write.

Conquering Goddess with a classic cover by Gene Bilbrew, aka ENEG.

Bob Blackburn, co-heir of Kathy Wood's estate, wrote to a seller who was claiming that Wood is Wade and wrote Goddess. Here is the seller's response, which I will present without editorializing:
I have this stuff written down somewhere. Anyway, off the top of my head, there is a guy writing a book, he is the guru of Ed Wood. The reverend of Ed, they call him. He knows he is Carlson, and [collector] Jim Linderman knew Ed. He knew he was Wade, and Kathy told this to a interviewer. She also told of two other pen names but don't know those. Wade is the first pen name, and yes, Ed always wrote. He wrote all his scripts before this book even. The Wade you're thinking of never wrote sleaze. He was a nutritionist. The Carlson Wade who wrote sleaze has NEVER been publicly known, because this book is known to have been published by the mob. Ed had to keep this hush hush. Look on the web. There are people who knew Wade was Ed. 
Thank you.
Bob replied and received this response:

You're welcome! I love Ed, too. The style of writing of this book is also a dead giveaway that it's Ed. Do some investigating like I have.

Again, I'll be nice and let that speak for itself. Bob further noted that the seller never revised the listing, and thankfully the item did not sell.

Carlson Wade wrote a number of articles for Selbee magazines like Leg Show, Pepper, and Striparam circa 1963-1964. Ironically, these articles rely heavily on research and are fact-filled in a way that Ed's usually are not. Wade's prose is descriptive, conservative, and readable but generally uninspired. And the same goes for the 100+ (or possibly double that) books he wrote over the course of nearly half a century. Very much unlike Ed, Wade branched out from pornography and actually spent the latter half of his career achieving limited fame as a pop nutritionist.

While we know that Carlson Wade is not Ed Wood, there is some debate as to whether the Wade who wrote adult paperbacks is the same guy who wrote the nutrition books. However, digging into his bibliography, it's easy to see the progression from socio-sex books (The Orgy In America,1965) to how-to manuals (Floor Decorating, 1979), then finally self-help health books (Health From The Hive, 1992).

Even in the early stages of his career, Wade possessed an abiding interest in new remedies outside of then-current medical orthodoxy. This tendency surfaced as early as 1964, when Wade wrote the preface to Everything You Want To Know About Seafoods: Nutrition From The Sea. One of Wade's most sublime book titles is Butchers In Waiting, an anti-abortion screed from 1960. This was just one of many volumes Wade coauthored with Dr. Edward Podolsky, who was on hand to lend some scientific credibility to the enterprise.

Two Wade/Podolsky titles from 1960 are advertised here, in a page scan from Leg Show (v1 n6 1963). The text is from Wade's article, "Lips Vs. Legs – Which Do You Love the Most?":

A page scan from Leg Show. Note the Carlson Wade text at the right.

And here's an entire set of Wade books, the Epic Sexual Behavior Series, as advertised in the pages of Black Stocking Parade, no. 1 from 1963:

Wade's books are advertised in Black Stocking Parade.

In an industry dominated by pseudonyms, Carlson Wade proudly slapped his own name on the covers of most of the adult paperbacks he wrote. Ironically, though, his most widely remembered works are the clutch of titles he published under the alias Ken Worthy. Like many of Wade's other books, these Worthy titles were published by an East Coast firm called L.S. Publications, Corp. 

The Homosexual Generation (1965) by Ken Worthy—whose back cover claims that it "sheds new light on a situation that increasingly menaces our young people"— has gained infamy  for its derisive, derogatory, and downright crazily warped view of homosexuality. Worthy's The New Homosexual Revolution continues in the same vein. An excerpt from page 111: "As the ranks of the homosexual is constantly swelling by greater and greater acceptance of this condition as an 'illness,' the ranks of the male prostitute is also swelled." One of its chapters is cryptically titled "The Homosexual Message: Decadence, Destruction, and Despair." Credited to Wade Carlson, The Queer Path from 1967  clears up any confusion as to the author's viewpoint on the Table of Contents page:

The contents of Wade Carlson's The Queer Path.

For the record, Ken Worthy is Carlson Wade and not Ed Wood. And yet there are still whispers among fans that Ed wrote some of these titles, particularly The Homosexual Generation. While Wood could definitely paint certain groups in a critical light, to say the least, the truth is that he both pitied and despised the worst in humanity and ofttimes was genuinely empathetic to those on the fringes. But we'll save the argument that Ed was an existential humanist for a later day.
UPDATE: A reader named Scott Warmuth recently sent me some interesting photos of an alternate edition of The Homosexual Generation. Check them out here.
However, Ed did ultimately work for publisher Leonard Burtman, dubbed “the center of the American heterosexual kink community from the 1950s to the 1980s," at the tail end of his life. After moving his publishing operation to the West Coast in the early 1970s, Burtman's company Eros Goldstripe remained a dominant player in the fetish magazine market through the decade. Ed's paperback TV Lust was published under the pseudonym Dick Trent in 1977 by Eros Goldstripe.

The cover of TV Lust, credited to Dick Trent.

We can only wonder how much Ed was paid. 

Ed Wood's pay stub for TV Lust from Eros Publishing.

Back to our original inquiry: Tom Brinkmann, author of the inestimable Bad Mags books and website, recently mentioned to me that the first appearance of Ed's writing in a magazine may have been in Golden State News' Macabre (1967). He noted that an issue of the magazine contains the entire first chapter of the Pad Library book Bloodiest Sex Crimes Of History (also 1967), which Ed wrote under the pseudonym Spenser and West.

Ed's widow Kathy mentioned that Bernie Bloom, who was the general manager of Golden State News, a prolific distributor/publisher of adult slicks, took Ed Wood with him when he left Golden State to start his own company, Pendulum, which incorporated in early 1968. We know that, within a few years, Ed was pounding out magazine stories and articles at an unbelievable rate on his typewriter in the Pendulum office. What we don't yet know is the full extent or timing of his writing for Golden State.

The cover of Macabre, possibly the first magazine to feature Ed Wood's work.

And since this is, after all, Ed Wood Wednesdays and not Wade Carlson Wednesdays, here are the opening paragraphs from Sex Crimes :
The bedroom contained a blood-soaked pillow. The bathroom revealed a nude figure, a woman which was draped over the rim of the tub. A blood drenched, green nightgown hung loosely about her neck. The useless garment moved serenely back and forth, in tempo to a soft wind-like music which played at the window. Two bullet wounds stood out harshly against the whiteness of her recently cleaned body. One gory hole glared from her head. The other, ruby gemmed, oozed from her arm. 
But the bullets had not been enough for the killer. A jagged knife wound snarled viciously across her neck. 
Most pathetic, however, were the words scrawled in brilliant red lipstick across the wall. . .“FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE CATCH ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN. I CAN’T CONTROL MYSELF.”

Bonus: The Ed Wood Wednesdays Tumblr features a full scan of the Carlson Wade article "Found: An Island Where Amazons Still Rule," complete with another ENEG illustration, from Pepper, vol. 1, no. 4, an early 1960s Selbee title. The Tumblr also features two galleries of cover art for Carlson Wade's adult paperbacks for your browsing pleasure. Enjoy them.

Carlson Wade – Select Bibliography

Carlson Wade made a living in a profession where few succeed for his entire adult life, passing away in 1993 with the distinction of his name having made its way into his book titles.

Adult paperbacks:

Confessions of a Transvestite - 1957
The Troubled Sex - 1961
She-Male: The Amazing True-Life Story of Coccinelle- 1963
Sex Techniques in Marriage - 1963
Sex Perversions and Taboos - 1964
Sexual Behavior and the Lesbian - 1964
Abnormal Male Behavior - 1965
Male Homosexuality: Case Studies - 1965
Mate Swappers - 1965
Sex Cults - 1965
Sexual Deviation and the Law (Ken Worthy) – 1965
The Compulsive Erotic - 1966
The Muscle Lovers - 1967
Naked in Sodom - 1967
Twisted Sex Desires (Ken Worthy) - 1967
Boys of Boles Dorm- 1968

How-To Manuals and Other:

Learn Tropical Fish the Easy Way - 1964
Be Your Own Carpenter - 1965
Be Your Own Plumber - 1966
The Key to Basic Electronics - 1967
Shower Parties for All Occasions - 1973
Great Hoaxes and Famous Imposters - 1976
The Pocket Encyclopedia of Baby Names - 1978
Dog Owner's Handbook: The Pocket Pet Encyclopedia - 1978
How You Can Get Money from the Government for Free - 1989
How to Read Palms and Fingerprints - 1992

Health and Nutrition:

Helping with Your Enzymes - 1966
Instant Health – The Nature Way - 1968
The Yeast Flakes Cookbook - 1968
Health Food Recipes for Gourmet Cooking - 1969
Natural and Folk Remedies - 1970
All-Natural Pain Relievers - 1975
The Book of Bran - 1976
Crockery Cooking: The Easy Way - 1977
Carlson Wade's Lecithin Book - 1980
Catalytic Hormones: Key to Extraordinary Weight Loss - 1982
Carlson Wade's PMS Book - 1984
How to Beat Arthritis with Immune Power Boosters - 1989
Natural Energy Boosters - 1993

Special thanks to Kathy Wood, Bob Blackburn, and Tom Brinkmann.