Monthly Archives: December 2012

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Field Trip to Hades

Recently, our local library held a huge sale of cast-off books, movies and music which filled a space formerly occupied by a Mervyn’s department store. Considering its size, the sale was a bit of a bust – but I did find a few goodies. An oversized booklet published in the ’70s by the U.S. Department of Transportation, geared toward elementary school teachers, was one. Un Viaje al Aeropuerto/A Trip to the Airport jumped out at me because of the strange cover art – psychedelically colored kids gazing at an airplane set against an oppressive, cloudy sky.

Un Viaje al Aeropuerto follows a boy named Carlos as he and his class take a field trip to the airport. About two-thirds of the book consists of wide-format illustrations with simple descriptions in Spanish and English, somewhat clumsily done to fill up the space allotted. The uncredited artwork honestly isn’t very good (much of it looks traced from photos) – but I love the way the artist went nuts with the zip-a-tone patterns and liberally applied spot color in hot red. It’s a trip, man, in ways the artist probably never intended.

The images link to larger-sized versions posted on my flickr account. Dig.

Sears catalog models, welcome aboard.

Aircraft parts never looked so groovy.

Strike a pose on the moving sidewalk.

Gettin’ crazy with the zip-a-tone.

Mattel’s Man in Space

Found, in our twice-weekly trips to the trash alley behind our house: this cardboard box panel from a Major Matt Mason Fireball Space Cannon, manufactured by Mattel in 1968. We tend to find a lot of crazy/weird stuff back there, but a 44 year-old box flap? That’s a first.

Although I’m a firm skeptic on the topic of messages from the Great Beyond, part of me wants to believe that this was some sort of sign from my friend (and Scrubbles.net reader) Brad, who passed away suddenly a year ago. Brad was a huge Major Matt Mason fan who used the MMM logo as his online avatar. Were he still around, I’m sure he would have gotten a big kick out of this find.

Major Matt Mason Space Mission Team activity set, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason frame tray puzzle, 1960s.

Major Matt Mason catalog insert, 1966.

Montgomery Ward’s Major Matt Mason catalog page, 1968

“One day his mother was gone.”

Bambi title spread, Junior Deluxe Edition (1956).

My bedside reading table is mostly stocked up with non-fiction, but sometimes pieces of classic literature get fit in from time to time. Felix Salten’s short, bracingly realistic Bambi, A Life in the Woods is the latest. The copy I read (pictured above) might have been an abridged version of the 1928 original. One thing’s for certain, however – this isn’t the Disney version, not by a long shot. In describing the title deer’s maturity in a deceptively calm forest, Salten’s elegant, plain-spoken prose takes on a grimly factual outlook that makes the animated version look, well, cartoonish. In the book, animals are born, seasons change, predators kill, and the things that the forest creatures admire or fear turn out to be expertly constructed illusions (no wonder the Nazis hated this book).

There are many other differences between the book and screen Bambis. Thumper and Flower are absent; Faline is more prominent and they have another deer friend named Gobo (who becomes the deer equivalent of an Uncle Tom after he’s domesticated by He, the human). And the relatively sedate hunting scenes from the movie are depicted as a devastating, full-blown massacre in print. Cool. Below are some nice images from various incarnations of Bambi in book form – including the Disney version (can’t help it, the film’s imagery is lovely if overly cute-ified).

Bambi: A Life in the Woods German first edition cover (1926).

Bambi: A Life in the Woods U.S. first edition detail (1928).

Bambi first U.S. paperback edition (1939).

Bambi: A Life in the Woods illustration by Mirko Hanak (1967).

“Bambi Finds the Meadow” illustration by Charles Harper (1963).

Walt Disney’s Bambi, page from film tie-in storybook (1941).