Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Ain't Got Nobody!

Like everyone else, I go through phases in the music I listen too. Through most of 2005 and 2006 I was crazy about music that I mostly found Vocal section of Tower Records (while they were still breathing). The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters and The Mills Brothers were my favorites. All of their recordings swing, jump, pop, and have a joy in the beat that still shines through after soooooo many long years.

I remember the Mills Brothers as a trio of old guys on Johnny Carson when I was a kid. They sang smooth old standards like their own hit "Paper Doll" and “Dinah.” It was clear that Carson had a real affection for the Mills Brothers from his youth.

A while back I read a biography of Bing Crosby called "A Pocketful of Dreams-the Early Years, 1903-1940." (Highly recommended if you like such things.) I never had much interest in Crosby's music (still don't really) but it was in that book that I kept reading about the The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters and The Mills Brothers being such a big influence upon him in addition to Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. I really liked THOSE guys so I decided to have a “look-hear” at the others.

Was I ever glad I did!

All three of those vocal groups were real eye-openers to me. The Mills Brothers started out as a bit of a novelty act. In their first recordings, they rarely even sang lyrics--they imitated instruments with their hands and mouths. The only real instrument they used was the guitar played by John Jr. who also sang bass/tuba. These numbers are quite hypnotic.

This piece of film (including genuine a genuine follow-the-bouncing-ball) gives you a taste of their music from the '30’s featuring the original Mills Brothers—Harry, Herbert, Donald, and John Jr.

Hang on ‘til the last minute of the clip and you will get a taste of how skillful they were at being their own amazing orchestra!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Elvis and The Penalty of Leadership

Now, it's well documented that The King of Rock and Roll had an infatuation with Cadillacs.
He liked to buy them and he liked to give them away.
Which made him a dang good customer of the Cadillac Company.

In 1967, Cadillac sent out scrolled facimile reproductions of the 1915 Penalty of Leadership advertisement to their current customer list. Because he was such a loyal consumer of Cadillac's automobile product line, Elvis recieved a copy of the 52 year old advertisement.
"When he read it, he said that even though the piece of paper had been written before he was born, the author could have just as well been writing about him.Elvis framed the scroll and hung it near the desk in his office at the mansion. It still hangs in Graceland today for visitors to see."

Just goes to show ya--great advertising is timeless--even if the language and typography can seem antiquated and dated.

Happy Jack Kirby Day!

Today would have been Jack Kirby's 90th birthday.
As Heidi writes in todays BEAT and Mark writes in POV:
Jack Kirby influenced EVERYONE!
Might I add--including even me.

It's Tantalizing Teaser Tuesday!

Today the Cuties are Boom'n on the steps of the Chowdown Pool
while the Chow Sol'jers are off on a Chow Raid.
(Rough pencils--but I think you know that)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Can The Circle Be Unbroken?

I've been listening to the original Carter Family lately.

A lot.

Not quite sure what their music is perculating in my imagination--but something is a-brewin' there--particularly concerning Beanish and Dreamishness.

So here it is Monday morning...and before I submerge myself back into a week full of toy business--I thought I'd share some Carter Family music with you.

Mother Maybelle's scratchy "pluck-strum-hammer" style of guitar picking is what attracts me to this music more than anything else.

I'm gonna write more about this later including their later incarnation, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters--but in the meantime give this classic recording from 1935 a good listen.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beanish Done Blindfolded!

JJA wrote with a request based on the post about cartoonists drawing blindfolded.
"Would you care to try it with a Beanworld character and post the result here?"
(I did write the caption and sign my name while I was looking.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Weird Deep-Sea Creatures Found in Atlantic!

This critter could practically be out of one of my Goofy Service Doodle ashcan books.
"An international team of 31 researchers found a few strange animals while exploring the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range that runs from Iceland to the Azores islands west of Portugal. "
Read on for more details!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freshest Taste In Beans!

(Not allowed to imbed this Jolly Green Giant commercial--but please click it and give it a look-see and come back here!)

"Good things from the Garden, Garden in the Valley, Valley of the Jolly Green Giant!"

I remember this 60s ad as if I'd seen it for the first time just yesterday.
I loved the jingle and used to sing it all the time.
(Really liked the female voice singing the echo!)

As a kid I truly believed that green beans cut at an angle were more juicy and flavorful!

This mixture of live action and animation is from the Leo Burnett ad agency when ol' Leo was still alive and at the apex of his creative powers.

It is impossible to measure how much influence the character driven advertisements from Leo Burnett influenced me while I was growing up.

In fact, it was an ad spot for Green Giant peas (featuring the Little Green Sprout) that served as a springboard for part of the storyline for Beanworld #1.

That was in the '80s and a different story for a different time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If there were comic book conventions in 1947--this might be what they would do at night at their wild parties in the then swanky Hotel San Diego!

Cartoonists drawing blindfolded!
Thanks to Johnny C at Hole-in-the-Head for this astounding and totally hilarious find in a 1947 issue of Life Magazine. Check it out -----> HERE!

It's Tantalizing Teaser Tuesday!

Two rough and dirty scans of photocopies of pencil drawings.

We last glimpsed these two two adventurous Pod'l'pool Cuties in the preview ashcan Hungry. Turns out they got themselves in a bit of a jam and The Elusive Notworm rescues them from terrible high altitude peril. No one realizes it yet--but the little one's mischief sets some amazing events in motion!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The 1915 Cadillac had a problem...

Cadillac has always been a luxury automobile. Starting in 1905, the highest-end Cadillac models featured an incredibly dependable four-cylinder engine. Cadillac’s were quite expensive, at the time a Ford cost about $400 and a Cadillac cost anywhere from $2,000 to $2,800. Purchasing a Cadillac was hardly a casual or impulse buy. Cadillac traded on its sterling reputation of being a dependable car.

When Cadillac’s primary competitor in the opulent automobile market, Packard Motors, came out with a six cylinder engine on their new luxury models—Cadillac felt pressured to respond in kind. In a most American fashion, Cadillac leapfrogged past Packard and introduced a high speed V-8 engine. After all, two more cylinders must be better than six, right?

Well, unfortunately for the folks at Cadillac the answer was—no.

As author, Stephen Fox, describes in “The Mirror Makers” (one of my favorite books):
“The V-8 was skittery at first, prone to short circuits and fires. Packard made the most of Cadillac’s problems.”

That sure put them in a pickle.

Cadillac’s reputation as a manufacturer of well built, dependable automobiles was now in serious question. Mr. Theodore F. MacManus, as the fellow in charge of Cadillac’s advertising program needed to respond and fast.

His response was radical.

He wrote and placed an advertorial.

Sorta, kinda.

The ad only ran once in the Saturday Evening Post in 1915. The ad was in stark black and white in an era of splashy full color magazine ad pages. Nowhere in the ad copy are Cadillac, cylinders, or even the automotive industry mentioned. Except for a small logo placed in the top right corner of the decorative border and another embedded in the center below—you would not even know who or what the ad was for!

But it was quite a read. The Penalty of Leadership, written by Theodore F. MacManus is considered one of the greatest and most influential advertisements of all time.

The Penalty of Leadership

"In every field of human endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or in a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction. When a man's work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be mediocre, he will be left severely alone - if he achieves a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a -wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a commonplace painting. Whatsoever you write, or paint, or play, or sing, or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius. Long, long after a great work or a good work has been done, those who are disappointed or envious, continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountback, long after the big would had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while the little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by. The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy - but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as human passions - envy, fear, greed, ambition, and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains - the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed, and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live—lives."

And you know what? The ad worked. Cadillac’s reputation was saved.
And Packard?
Well, it’s gone.
Died in 1958.

It’s not the prose of the ad copy itself that made it so famous. The narrative today seems archaic and even then was considered a bit stuffy. No, it is the corporate problem that the ad solved so handily that has made it so memorable.

So, why did the ad work?
Well, Mr. MacManus’ own opinion was this:
“The real suggestion to convey is that the man manufacturing the product is an honest man, and that the product is an honest product, to be preferred above all others.”

In case you haven’t noticed.
I love the history of advertising!

This story made me think about Philip K Dick!

Flea-like robots double as pollution detectors!
Philip K Dick always had miniature mechanical devices like this running amok in his seminal science fiction novels written in the 1960s.
According to the article: "The creature measures in at ten-centimeters long and weighs just 80-grams, and can supposedly cover vast amounts of land in shorter amounts of time" compared to less efficient pollution-seeking alternatives.
Read more about it by clicking below.

read more digg story

Stringbean Monday!

It's Monday morning, so let's get the new week going with some toe-tapping,thumping good old time banjo music from the incomparable Stringbean.
The spangled fellow introducing him is Porter Wagoner.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Minotaur Song!

The Incredible String Band were an acquired taste even in their heyday of the late '60s and early '70s but if you could GET them--chances were you LOVED them.
I really liked their flippy, trippy form of folk music vaguely based in the Scots tradition.
Robin Williamson's The Minotaur's Song was on Incredible String Band's 1968 album The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter.
Even at age 18, I was enthralled with the weird amalgamation of mythology, folk music, and show tune-iness of this song. The words to the song (well most of them anyway) have stuck with me for almost 40 years now.
When I was poking around on YouTube and found this ridiculously silly but altogether appropriate animation by dalekemperorjohn illustrating the song--I knew I had to share it with you

Not all the news from China is bad.

China will soon create its first national park in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world.
Pudacuo National Park will contain more than 20% of the country's plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species.
Hit the link below for more!

read more digg story

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dust Breeding

An eerie moody photograph by Man Ray.
Marcel Duchamp worked on the his Large Glass (more properly titled "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even) from 1915 to 1923.
It was never finished.

Duchamp worked from meticulous notes that he began to accumulate in Munich in the summer of 1913.

Why did Duchamp, a French cubist have a studio in Berlin, a city that for all intents and purposes had no Cubist community?

He was in a bit of a self-imposed exile.
Duchamp's failed attempt to exhibit Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 at the 1912 Independant Salon exhibition back in Paris had caused a bit of a behind-the-scenes ruckus--and Duchamp wanted to go to a place he didn't speak the language to collect his thoughts.

He chose Berlin and it was there that he began to put together his notes for the Glass.
When WWI ripped Europe apart. Due to a heart murmus, Duchamp was exempt from military service. Duchamp decided to visit America.
He began the Glass in New York in 1915.
He applied lead wires to the transparent glass in the geometric shaps and designs he desired.
The work went achingly slow.
For one part of his Glass--the seives-- Duchamp decided to use actual dust.
Below are the actual notes that Duchamp worked from:

To raise dust
On Dust-Glasses
for 4 months, 6 months. Which you
close up afterwards
hermetically. = Transparancy
- Differences to be worked out.

For the seives in the glass--allow dust to
fall on this part a dust of 3 or 4 months
wipe well around it in such a way that this dust
will be a kind of color (transparent pastel)

In order to accumulate the proper amount of dust, he placed the pane of glass horizontally on two saw horses and left it untouched in his New York studio for the bulk of 1920.
When Duchamp determined that enough dust had collected, his good pal, Man Ray, came over to his studio document the accumulation of dust on the surface of the Glass.

Within days, Duchamp carefully adhered the dust with varnish and cleared away all the rest of the dust. It turned out precisely as he anticipated: a kind of color (transparent pastel)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Check out these OZ illustrations!

Many thanks to Old Man Musings for pointing the way to BibliOdyssey featuring this first-rate gallery of incredibly vivid William Wallace Denslow illustrations from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
The original OZ tale is one of my favorite books of all time,
When I was a kid...I had my mother's torn and tattered childhood copy of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Mom was born in the late 20s, so even though it was a much later printing, it still featured these very same Denslow illustrations--colored in the strangely muted palate of colors you will see when you link over to BibliOdyssey.
The picture in the upper right hand corner above is a very interesting one because it is a diagram of action taking place in the book.
You can only command the Monkeys three times.
Each time Dorothy summons the Monkeys it was illustrated by showing a picture of the hat with the appropriate number scratched out.
Pretty progressive way to communicate an idea in a kid's book in 1900 if you ask me!

Hey Kids! Guess What Day It Is?

Why it's Tantalizing Teaser Tuesday!
That's right!
From now on until the next Beanworld is actually published and in your patient hands...
every Tuesday I plan to publish a little bit o' Beanworld--just to tease you and so you can see what direction I'm moving in. Today's Teaser features a pencil panel from a page featuring Heyoka and the Elusive Not-Worm!
What are they doing together?
Where did they meet?
And how?
Well... right now only they know and they've been telling me and I've been transcribing it all as fast as I can!

Monday, August 13, 2007

One of the worlds most puzzling mysteries: the moving rocks of Death Valley

Okay....I've never once before heard about these mysterious moving rocks. I haven't a clue if it is real, a hoax, or just an imaginary story. And, I guess I really don't care. If it isn't SHOULD be true. Kudos to melastmohican for the stunning photo. Makes me think about Robert Smithson. I'd say...remind me to write about him someday but I'm pretty backed up with things I need to write about...aren't I?
These rocks, some as heavy as 700 pounds, are inexplicably transported across a
virtually flat desert plain, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them,
some hundreds of yards long. They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine
decades since we have known about them, no one has ever seen them move.

read more digg story

Mike Wieringo-Rest In Peace

Pure joy poured out of his pencil point.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys Singing Ida Red

It's a beautiful summer sunny California afternoon and I felt like hearing some Bob Wills. Trouble is--all my Bob Wills music is in AZ. Not to worry--found some on YouTube.
You remember that line in "Blues Brothers" where the bar owner says "We got both kinds of music here. Country and Western."
Well, Bob Wills music was definitely western! His brand of western swing music was unique then and holds up (to me anyway) to this day. A weird amalgamation of country fiddle music, big band swing music, and proto-rock'n'roll.
The thing I respect about Wills more than almost anything, was that he believed that his band was onstage for one reason and one reason only--to give the folks something irresistible to dance to. He was never satisfied unless his audience was jumping and whirling on the dance floor.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Place I Absolutely Need To Visit Someday!

Intriguing photos of the world's largest ice caves. There no color quite as striking as the cyan-blue of crystalline ice formations. Plus, I am thoroughly intrigued by the mention that only a portion of the labyrinth is open to tourists. Anyplace that Cory and I visit and the guides say that part of the discovery area is closed off to tourists always makes me smile--even though it might mean we can't see something totally cool. Research scientists of the future deserve taking a shot at things with whatever innovations and gizmos they will have THEN that haven't been invented yet NOW. Think of how much more we would know about the ruins of so many ancient civilizations if they had been found by today's scientists and not sullied and trounced by the Indiana Jones-type of adventurers and plunderers of the 19th century.

read more digg story

Goofy Scientific Factoid of the Day!

Is glass a solid or merely an extremely slow-moving liquid? Thinking about things that are neither one thing or the other veer into the neighborhood of Marcel Duchamp's notions of the Infra-mince. I've been meaning to talk about that here but haven't had time to get around to it. Remind me that I need to do that!

read more | digg story

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cakewalkin' Babies From Home!

I found this just now while lookin' for something else. Years ago, when I was in art school...for a few months over the winter of '71-'72 I DJ'd a traditional-type old time jazz broadcast on WWUH in West Hartford, CT. This superb cut was my intro theme song. It always was quite the segue from whatever preceeded me (something like Pure Prairie League or Gordon Lightfoot).
Once this track was crackling out of the speakers--it was time for "Hot Jazz on a Cold Night." (Or whatever my show was called)
It's still one of my very favorite Pops (Louis Armstrong) recordings and teamed up with Sidney Bechet on soprano sax too! This number just pops, and jumps, and swings!
Always makes me wanna get up and do a bean-dance!

NEWS ALERT: Rubber Duck Armada Nears Britain!

This is quite possibly my favorite news story of the summer.
Read all about it HERE.
The first ducks are now washing ashore in the UK as reported HERE with a great photo of one of the recovered ducks.
I love thinking about these yellow ducks toys slowwwwwly moving through the ocean's eco-system--all the while with that silly smile! Something very Beanworldly about the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Secret Origin of the Beanworld Dress Revealed!!

There is very little I can add to Pam's extraordinary account <----to be found on her blog -- except to say--I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. I've been drawing with marker on T-shirt material (on and off) since I was 10 years old.
(One of these days I shall give a full account of why that is. It's a darn good tale in and of itself.)
I haven't done it in years and when Kid Nexus approached me with this request--I was glad to do it. And Pam was correct...I didn't approach it as a sketch but wanted to make the entire composition flow together as best I could. I didn't allow myself the ability to "think" too much--I just wanted to "feel" my way around the fabric and the curves of the dress itself.
My thanks to Pam for being so clever and asking and being so generous to the Fund.
Suzy Thomas, my assistant at work just said that Pam's arguments regarding female comic book apparel really make sense--there needs to be other "stuff" available other than just oversize T-shirts for the female half of the population. Particularly now that the ratio of males to females at conventions is changing yearly and trending more towards the general population.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

My SD07 photos are up at last!

And can be found right HERE!


Keep your eye on THIS!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Wonderfully weird Jolly Green Giant spot

A really weird spot from the folks at Leo Burnett. The way it was explained to me years ago, the Giant started out as a scary monster and then in the post-war era on TV transformed into the friendly Ho-Ho-Ho dude we all remember in the 70s when he was finally upstaged by ever so cute and often annoying Little Green Sprout. This clip is a gem and from the Mickey Rooney Show no less--whahoolazuma!

Garfield Goose and the Goofy Service Jerks

Yesterday, I was tightening up a flashback sequence featuring The Goofy Service Jerks that got discombobulated in Beanworld 17-19. I love the Goofy Jerks .
The Secret Origin of the Goofy Jerks is that they are an homage to one of my childhood heroes--Garfield Goose. King of the United States.

If you click on the link--you will hear the rich sound of the organ music that intro'd each broadcast. It gives me chills to hear it today--a full 50 years after I became addicted to the adventures of Gar and his amazing creator, Frazier Thomas.
(I found out on the web that the song is called "Monkey on a String" by organist Ethel Smith--I had no idea!)

For those of you who didn't grow up in Chicagoland in the 50s and 60s (and I'm gonna take a wild guess and assume that is most of you) you can't really measure what an impact Channel Nine in general, and Frazier Thomas in particular, had on the kids growing up in that post-war era. Frazier Thomas was, in my humble opinion, quite frankly a genius. I can't really remember any of the story lines of the show. I just remember the show. It's described well on a Toon Tracker page--a chunk extracted below:

"The puppet characters included Garfield Goose; Garfield's nephew, Chris (born on Christmas day); Romberg Rabbit, a former magician's assistant; Ramona Rabbit, Romberg's girlfriend; Beauregard Burnside III, a bloodhound; Macintosh Mouse; Mama Goose and Ally Gator. The puppets never spoke. Garfield would clack his beak, and Thomas interpreted for him."

Anyone growing up in Illinois during that time can immediately connect by just saying: "Hotdogs, hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs!" or "Remember Journey to the Beginning of Time?" and of course "I'm Hardrock" "I'm Coco" "I'm Jo!" With the name "Jo" sung in the deepest register one can muster.
Dan Clowes and I were talking a long, long time ago (we both were still living in Chicago then--that's how long ago it was!), it might have been right after Frazier Thomas died...memory gets fuzzy. But we both agreed, the influence that these sorts of shows had on us...not only the original puppet driven content but the unique cartoons shown--really made a dent on not only us but all the cartoonists growing up in the area. One of these days, I'll try to write a bit more about Chicago KidTV.
As you can see, the resemblance between Garfield Goose and The Jerks is far from coincidental.
Long Live the King!

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Do-It-Yourself Der Stinkle

This humongous tangle of a plant started out a couple of years ago as a few barren shoots of brownish green in the dirt of my back patio in Arizona.
It grew incredibly fast. And got really big!
About a year ago, Cory in an adventurous moment, cut it back to its roots, and like the Hydra, for every shoot cut back--it seems two have regrown in its place. And it grew back. Incredibly fast. And got really big--again.
It gets no water whatsoever. In fact, now that it is the official monsoon season and it gets drenched with rain now and seems to be turning a bit brownish. In the spring it shot forth, delicate lavender-colored tufty frond thingies.
My Toy Company colleague, Jenny D'Amore tells me that it's just plain ol' desert grass but I know better! I call it my Do-It-Yourself Der Stinkle and it gives me great pleasure to watch it grow and change.
I'll try to take a picture of it every season as the Beanworld turns.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My last thoughts about SD07

Which turn out to be no thoughts at all.
This week has been a lot busier work-wise than I anticipated (and I anticipated a lot!).
Plus, Cory is back from India and we have been doing a lot of catching up. She with her fabulous trip and me with Comic-con annecdotes.
The convention itself is fading into memory and so I think I'm going to have to pass for the moment on writing much more about it. Like most things with me--it'll all come out in dribs and drabs later on.
I do, however, agree with almost everything Tom Spurgeon said in his informative, well written analysis at The Comics Reporter. The following even made me laugh out loud.
"16. Old San Diego (stabbings, bums) vs. New San Diego (William Morris
Agency parties, Starbucks)"

Ahhhhh, yes--the good ol' days of wild parties at Hotel San Diego and worrying about having one's sketch-sales cash stolen walking the streets at 4 am.
The Spurge also links to just about every blog summary worth reading. Check it out.

The Leguminous Secret Inside The Spawn Mask

These pictures totally sum up my Toy Company experience at SD07. I worked with Tyler Jeffers of (who's lovely wife, Amy, is a VERY serious Beanworld and Bone fan) on these masks for months and never saw the secret within. But, lo and behold, at the Con...the secret jumped out at me and I brought it forth. Somehow it speaks volumes.
Next post (hopefully) will be my thoughts from a Beanworld-centric point-of-view.