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

Prepare to enter the strange world of author Carlson Wade (pictured in the center).

Wade-ing Into Wood

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 lack of credits and a multitude of colorful pseudonyms in his magazine work conspire to challenge the dream of a full accounting of Ed's written word, we've got to start some-vere.