The Seattle Stranger's 2004 Queer Issue
is, um, out. Looks like it has a lot of interesting articles. Completely unrelated - these TV Weekly illustrated covers
from the '60s have a goofy/frightening/cool quality. The artist's name is Bob something and his work appeared in a lot of places during that time (such as this Shindig!
piece). Anybody got more info?
This lovely vignette came from magazineart.org
, a public domain archive of vintage magazine covers (via MetaFilter
The Village Voice explores shounen-ai and yaoi
, two types of Japanese manga that tell stories of beautiful men falling in love with each other (thanks, Eric!). Think female wish-fulfillment fantasies with all the eroticism of a soap commercial.
I want I want I want -- All American Ads of the '70s
, out this month from the imaginative publisher Taschen
Paper or Plastic
The New York Times has a nice article
on the state of affairs at Harper's Bazaar and its identity problems in the crowded world of fashion magazines. While at the library last month, I leafed through an issue and was pleasantly surprised. Although not quite up to the diamond standards of the Liz Tiberis/Fabien Baron glory years, the mag is a real page turner with nice layouts and interesting content. It is rather disheartening that a bald-faced "buy buy buy" rag like Lucky
is considered more hip than the classy Bazaar.
We're Gonna Pump (clap) You Up
Retrocrush looks at Hardcore Action Bodybuilding
, a how-to manual from the 'Miami Vice' era, with hilarious photos and comments. They're also counting down the 100 coolest song moments on their front page
As the Heaving Bosom Turns
Worst Romance Novel Covers of 2003
(via Sore Eyes
). Caution: only look at the Nanny Solution cover
if you haven't eaten recently. Blecch. I have an intense hatred of infants dressed as animals, anyway - this overly-Photoshopped monstrosity is enough to give me horrific flashbacks for years to come.
Dispatches from La-La Land
brings us another dazzler: two complete issues
of the influential punk-era magazine WET
. Very glossy, very West Coast. The faded glamour of L.A. and the jaded irony of New Wave go together like peanut butter and jelly - a scene this publication captured before it became a cliché.
Speaking of which - what about the milk mustache ad where Mary-Kate or Ashley (dunno which one, probably the "wild" one) is wearing a Velvet Undergound and Nico t-shirt. Final proof that anything and everything that was once cool can be co-opted and commercialized. Do they really like the Velvet Underground's music? Or Andy Warhol? Or bananas?
I Want Media interviews Simon Dumenico
). I've always adored Dumenico's gratifyingly honest Folio
columns, and now it's been announced that he's the new editor of a revamped Benetton Colors magazine. Good luck to him. This comment from the interview was particularly intriguing: "With a very few exceptions, blogs are generally overrated." Well then, which blogs does he like? Tell us, Simon, tell us!
All Books This Cart 50c
and other fabulously kitschy book covers. This site is the online equivalent of rummaging through the "friends of the library" sale racks.
Working for Peanuts
Over my break, I recieved my copy of The Complete Peanuts Vol. 1 1950-52
and have been properly wowed. Fantagraphics did a great job; each hefty volume beautifully designed by cartoonist Seth. These books (once they're all done in, gulp, 2016) would look fantastic all lined up on a shelf.
I love Charles M. Schulz's clean draughtsmanship on the earliest strips - all ovals and dot eyes and minimalist backgrounds. Patty and Shermy are the stars (Schulz would get tired of them soon enough), Charlie Brown is the oddly perceptive neighbor kid, and Snoopy is just a cute little pup who walks on all fours. From these humble beginnings, it's amazing how quickly everything fell into place. In two short years, it evolved from a simple, visual gag-a-day format into this self contained universe of angsty, strangely articulate children. Basically the Peanuts we now know and love. As David Michaels' excellent essay points out, the timelessness of Peanuts lies in its subversive edge. Schulz understood the casual cruelty of children, and how even as adults we never let go of the disillusionment of those years.
Through the Freakishly Huge Eyes of Love
The BBC has an interesting article
on how publishing giant Harlequin
is tailoring its bodice-rippers for the Japanese market. The results are manga/romance novel hybrids - and they're flying off the shelves.
Read 'Em and Weep
New thing at Professor Barnhardt's Journal
: contributors choose their 10 Favorite Novels. Out of the ones on my list, eight have been filmed, four are by women and one is out of print. All are excellent. Have a look.
. Teacher hands out old Penny Arcade
comics with the word balloons whited out. Charmingly strange cross-cultural stuff ensues. Japanese high school students say the darndest things.
There's a New Book in Town
The book Never Threaten to Eat Your Co-Workers: Best of Blogs
is now out. It's an anthology of weblog writing, the first of a series. The content comes from a real cross-section of talented writers, from the A Listers to the Bs, Cs and even a few Ds. I highly recommend it. The really exciting part here is -- I'm in it! Me me me! Out of 30,000 submissions, editors Alan Graham and Bonnie Burton
chose two scrubbles.net blog entries for inclusion. The book also contains interviews and nude photos of the hottest bloggers (okay, I made that last thing up).
So, what else can I say? Visit the website
, go to Amazon and buy buy buy
All about The Avengers
- in comic form (via Incoming Signals
An eBay auction: Entertainment Weekly issue #14
with the first Simpsons cover. Not just any copy, but my very own copy that I've saved since 1990. Gotta love the early, clunky Simpsons covered in the early, clunky EW. Bid on this and help support my budding career as an eBay seller.
It was a shock paging through this issue and seeing how different it was then. The overall look is sedate, subtle, high minded, kind of boring. Editorial content was geared toward upwardly mobile people in their 30s and 40s. Even so, I could tell why I devoured it from the first issue. To have an entertainment magazine based around opinions and discussion-worthy topics was novel and interesting. They were still working out the kinks in 1990, but by about '95 the mag was pretty much the way it is today. Glancing at the masthead, I noticed that only critics Owen Gleiberman and Ken Tucker are still working there. Interesting to note that two EW veterans - founding editor Jeff Jarvis and music critic Greg Sandow - now have weblogs.
William at Robot Action Boy
linked to a page of Space:1999 theme variations
on mp3, including cover versions. Neat-o! I downloaded the Ennio Morricone track, which is probably a cover version only in the loosest sense. The art above is from this interesting site
of Space:1999 merchandise. Whatever happened to Colorforms, anyway?
Also -- my pal Eric pointed me to Comic Book Gorillarama
, a place to explore the connections between comics and our simian friends.
Magazine Covers 2 Electric Boogaloo
Speak Up post
on the declining quality of magazine cover design, a follow-up to the Design Observer post
I linked to earlier. This one has lots 'o links to some terrific magazine cover galleries.
Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a profile
of comicsmeister Adrian "pronounced TO-meen-uh" Tomine. (thanks, Eric!)
Famous Celebrity Exclusive!
The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover
. (via things magazine
) Make sure to read the comments, too. This was an issue at my last job. We were working on newspaper supplements, sections that competed visually with other news sections, maybe a Wal-Mart circular at best. Despite this, management wanted covers to slavishly imitate newsstand magazines with a million crappy cutlines on the covers. I didn't mind having a few there but --- blecch!
Dawn & Co.
I've been meaning to write about a couple of things that have been put on the back burner - until today. One is that I just finished Tim Page's biography
of the writer Dawn Powell and loved it (unfortunately the book's already out of print). I especially related to the part where she's in her mid-30s and deeply in doubt about herself and her gifts. Ms. Powell lived in Greenwich Village most of her life and her novels are a reflection of gritty, jazzy mid-20th century New York in all its complexity. She also wrote (semi-autobiographically) about Ohio and the midwest with the same combination of keen observation and deep bitterness. A real cynic's cynic - it's no surprise that her work didn't find a real appreciative audience until the '90s. The Library of America has a terrific site
about Dawn's life and work. Also check out this 1999 Salon.com article
, where I first heard about her.
The other thing is that Christopher bought the Company: Original Cast Recording DVD recently. It's a documentary following the torturous, all night recording session for soundtrack to Stephen Sondheim's landmark Broadway musical, Company. Now, I don't know about you, but by and large I hate Broadway cast recordings. They're too shrill and brassy. Not so with Company. Sondheim's music and lyrics are a marvel of puzzle-like complexity. You could listen to it dozens of times and never get tired. The production is very organic; the singing and backup music mesh beautifully. It also helps that the arrangements are charmingly dated in that early '70s, "variety show a-go-go" kinda way. If you don't have the soundtrack CD, buy it. Anyway, about the DVD - it's excellent. One highlight is a commentary track with Elaine Stritch, Hal Prince, and D. A. Pennebaker reminiscing of events from 30-plus years ago - it's fascinating, and so is the film itself.
People Who Need People
Every few weeks, Christopher's mom brings us a huge pile of the most recent issues of People
magazine. I always spend a couple of hours poring through them in an orgy of celeb fluff. It's so trashy, yet so appealing. Glancing through the pages, you could easily conclude that the average People
reader is a fat 50 year old woman who obsesses over weddings and pregnancy and food. A typical spread has an ad for some decadent sweet foodstuff on one side, celebrity diet tips on the other. Even scarier is the mag's bloated coverage of reality show participants. Last December, they ran a lavish eight page feature on Trista and Ryan's wedding. Then later on, another four pages on their honeymoon. Then a cover story on what they're doing this week. Somewhere, the dead souls of hundreds of trees are crying.
It's interesting to note the changes since I started reading the magazine in the early '80s. For example, the 'Star Tracks' section used to be basic pics of celebs at public events. That was the quaint old days, back when the inside was printed in black and white. Now we have grainy telephoto shots of celebs doing normal stuff - eating, walking around, etc. Most often, they're pictured in sweat pants. It's as if they wanted readers to have the realization that, "look, Jennifer Aniston drinks coffee!" Whatever. Week in, week out you're likely to find these four pics in 'Star Tracks':
A candid shot of some pregnant actress walking down the street, looking like shit.
A candid shot of Sarah Jessica Parker resting during a 'Sex in the City' location shoot (please, God, let that show be over already).
A candid shot of one of the royal princes playing sports.
A candid shot of a wasted Colin Farrell.
Despite all this, I can't resist. I have to look at every page, even sometimes read something. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have know about the death of First Wives Club author Olivia Goldsmith, who expired during a routine plastic surgery appointment. How morbidly compelling. That's why I can't put it down.
Monochromatic Art II
A page of Calvin and Hobbes snowman comics
(via Cup of Chicha
). Man, I miss Calvin and Hobbes.
Book Biz Blues
on finding success with a self-published book using unconvential publicity means struck a chord with me. Terry Teachout's blog entry
linking to said article illuminates the frustrations of people who have self published books: the mainstream media won't touch them with a ten foot pole. We've been encountering this with Mama Cat
. So what have we done? Sent a few copies to big media in vain hopes of it being noticed, local media outlets (including my ex-colleagues at The Arizona Republic), a few prominent bloggers, family members and friends; wrote about it here. Overall the response has been so-so, kind of lukewarm. I don't have any experience with this, so I'm at a loss as to what to do. Our best bet might be pushing it to niche-y publications aimed at pet lovers, such as 'Cat Fancy' magazine. What else?
By the way, 'Mama Cat' is currently ranked at 2,636,259 on Amazon. Woo hoo for us.
Pathetic Geek Stories
The sometimes touching, often hilarious comic "Pathetic Geek Stories" is always the first thing I check with each new edition of the Onion's A.V. Club
. The strip is on hiatus now, but the good news is that creator Maria Schnieder has started a separate Pathetic Geek Stories website
. Includes an archive of old PGSs and several stories that never got made into strips. Geeks rule!
Lord of the Cosmos
Fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo just died at age 82
. Scavullo's claim to fame were his glossy covers of 'Cosmpolitan' magazine in the '70s and '80s. Whether the subject was a model or celebrity, it seemed like every woman he photographed had the same vapid, lobotomized look. My own favorites were his Madonna sessions
circa '84 - it was a true merging of two artists' styles. Madonna wore heavy makeup and severe, cropped bangs for the session - giving her the look of a deranged china doll
Check this out: Cosmopolitan covers from 1970-2003
Sexy Lips Now!
The new year finds timid times
for editors as magazine covers become less visually interesting (via Romenesko
). The article doesn't show any examples, but just for fun here are typical Vogue
covers from 1953 and 2003:
The Pitfalls of Journalism
Boston Globe: Rock Critics May Have Worn Out Their Voices
(via the Sound Scavengers list). The article quotes the usually intelligent Toure of Rolling Stone
. Memo to Toure: it hurts your credibility appearing on a puffball TV special
, blathering about how "hot" and "incredible" Beyonce is.
Friend of Dorothy
Vintage Dorothy Lamour comics
. They actually feature very little of Miss Sarong and lots of savages speaking in variants of Yoda-ese (via Eye of the Goof
'Mama Cat' Is Out
At long last, our book is out! Mama Cat
is a children's book about where cats go after they die. Sounds kinda morbid, but actually it's quite a touching little book. I illustrated and Christopher wrote. You can order it directly from the publisher
. Our mama-cat.com
website has a sample page of text and a Cafe Press store link. It will be listed at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble pretty soon. Buy a copy and feed a starving artist!
Loveable, Sweaty Cathy
Cathy: America's Sweat-Heart
- "Cathy has been in the funny pages for over 25 years. I don't know if she'll ever fit into that stupid bikini, and I don't really care. What I'm possessed by is just how much she sweats. Frankly, I'm worried about her." (via J-Walk
Hunting and Game Law Number 10c
A small gallery
of vintage "Field & Stream" magazine covers, via J-Walk
. Includes some lovely pre-1920 examples.
One Question: Why Cows?
NPR's Morning Edition had an interview
with The Far Side's Gary Larson today. Larson must have the most enviable life possible. Hi didilee dee, a retired cartoonist's life for me.
Guess who spent way too many precious minutes last night playing around with the customizable version
of Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe portrait. Oooh, the colors. (thanks, Brad!)
Ever notice how the music played at Quizno's is really good? Mostly bluesy rock, soul and jazz with songs tending toward the obscure (The Mamas and the Papas' version of "Dancing in the Street," for example). I like the contemporary Latin music at Baja Fresh, too. It beats Subway and McDonalds, both of which merely play radios tuned into crappy local stations. Just thinking here.
Wonder Woman Conquers Nazis, Shoddy Design
Newsweek has a special issue
this week on the influence of design on Americans' everyday lives. Of particular interest are the stories on McMansions
and Isaac Mizrahi's Target line. The former makes me happy that I live in a '20s bungalow with charm and character; the latter makes me happy that Mizrahi has made the world safe for pointy-toed sneakers.
(image is from this amazing gallery
of early Wonder Woman comics, via Incoming Signals
It's Ugly, But It Gets You There
Neato VW bus ads
from the years 1962-1998. Via Dead Bus Diaries
Don't Get Sore, See?
New York magazine has excerpts from The Speakeasies of 1932
. The drawings by Al Hirschfeld and text are evocative of another time: "No raids because they're really careful, but a turned-down hat brim and a drooping cigarette will pass anybody."
For something similar, try the Vanity Fair classic covers gallery
Day and Night, Pills-Pills-Pills!
The 'Valley of the Dolls' parody
from the September 1968 issue of MAD magazine is just as deliciously wacko as the movie it's based on. Speaking of which, when oh when is VotD coming out on DVD?
A sample from Super Marketing: Ads from the Comic Books
. Somebody tell PETA!! (spotted by Christopher via News from Me
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is running an interesting weeklong series on the history of newspaper comic strips. Today's installment
deals with the years 1965-79, when humorless creatures like Garfield, Cathy, and Funky Winkerbean were unleashed upon the Earth.
The Complete Peanuts
My pal Eric forwarded some terrific news
. Fantagraphics will be reprinting every daily and Sunday Peanuts strip in hardback volumes - 25 of them over the next
12-1/2 years. Neat!
Just recieved my much anticipated copy of
Meet Mr. Product: The Art of the Advertising Character
. It's a colorful, boxy little book containing hundreds of famous and obscure ad mascots from the 1920s to the '80s. The graphics are excellent, but I most appreciate the creativity that went into some of these. Sure, it would be pretty easily to come up with a character for a kids' cereal or fruit drink, but howzabout auto parts, pesticides and public utilities? The Imaginary World has an ad mascot gallery
containing some of the characters in this book.
Bubble gum related sites - Topps has put a sampling of Joe Bazooka comics
on their site. Never liked ol' Joe that much. They always had the corny, squeaky clean humor of a Bowery Boys movie. Sometimes I think Topps just recycled the same comics from the '40s. The gum was probably that old, too! (via Metafilter
On the other hand, Wacky Packages were an entirely different thing. Transgressive. Brilliant. Who cares if the gum was like cardboard. Tom's Wacky Packages is the ultimate resource on the subject. (via Sugar 'n Spicy)
Tomorrow's Fish and Chip Paper
"It’s likely the Post
is thinking less 'young people are a big market, let’s get them to read us,' and more 'advertisers like young people, let's give them the impression that young people like us.'"
Jeez, this Morning News editorial
on the Washington Post's faux-hip spinoff paper is so frightfully true. This brings to mind our own weekly tabloid made for young women who love shopping! And celebrities! And, uh, what to buy to look like a celebrity!
Al Hirschfeld: Beyond Broadway
, a Library of Congress online exhibit of some of his lesser-known works. I'm in awe once again.
A Flair for Fabulousness
Here's a Metropolis mag article
about an exhibit on saluting Flair magazine. Flair was a short-lived but influential publication from the early fifties noted for its editorial style and design trickery (fold-outs, die cuts, etc). A few weeks back, the NYT magazine had an interview
with Flair's regal editress, Fleur Cowles.
Oh, You Pretty Things
Lively book cover reviews
), the first of a monthly series. That's correct - only the cover designs are given notice. The reviewer makes a lot of good points, like how annoying it is when a designer carelessly uses unique handwritten script fonts (such as the ever popular Cezanne
On a somewhat related note, Criterion will be releasing its own dvd of cult moviedom's The Honeymoon Killers
with another of their usual superb cover designs. See for yourself
This site of Disneyland Postcards
puts my own modest collection to shame. I've been trying to find the official Monsanto House of the Future
one for ages. Looking at the earliest ones, it's interesting how sparse looking
the grounds once were, lots of saplings, tiny bushes and dirt. Via Not a Dollarshort
Shopping A Go-Go
You may remember last month I wrote
about Christown, the most swelligant shopping mall in '60s Phoenix. Click here
for two more vintage postcard views of the mall. On top is the West plaza with a display of Mary Blair-esque birdcages. Bottom is the East plaza just outside Korrick's (now Wal-Mart) with a neat display of Nelson bubble lamps. Kicky!