Wednesday, December 07, 2016

LUC SANTE'S "THE OTHER PARIS"

Here I am posting about old Paris again. This photo (above) from the Paris Exposition isn't really typical of its period but I can't get that event out of mind, so it finds a place here.  



Thinking about old France provokes me to announce my pick for the best Christmas gift a book lover can give or get this season..."The Other Paris" by Luc Sante (pronounced "sant", which rhymes with "font"). It's the best thing I've read in at least a couple of years... probably a classic in its field.


It's about the shady side of Paris in the 19th and early 20th Century: the pre-Haussmann streets, the bohemians, the prostitutes and dance halls, the hobo shelters, the rabblerousers, singers, pamphleteers, crooks, poets and painters.


It was a city that attracted non-conformists from all over the continent. There were no jobs for many of them so they had to improvise. The strange life they were forced to live on the streets created a restless, bohemian lifestyle that spread all over the West and is still with us today. How all this came about makes for a fascinating read.


For that someone who's really special, I recommend giving the audiobook version as well as the book. Yes, that's right...both! The text is the same but the book and the discs succeed in delivering different experiences, both valuable.


Here's Sante reading from his book.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

WHY WALLY WOOD LEFT MAD MAGAZINE

That's the young Wally Wood above, maybe (I'm guessing) from the period just before Kurtzman began Mad in 1952. Wood was onboard starting with the very first issue.


That's Al Feldstein above, the artist and writer who became editor after Kurtzman left and the comic became a magazine.

Maybe there was some tension between the two men. Wood is said to have believed that the quality of writing had slipped under Feldstein and Feldstein described Wood as depressed and resistant to criticism.  Anyway the fateful day came when Wally delivered his famous last stories...all newspaper strip parodies... and Feldstein rejected them as "sloppy." Wally turned around and walked out for good.

Wood fans have long waited for someone to publish those last sloppy pages and finally someone has. Here (below) from the just published bio "The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood Vol.1" are the comic strips that got Wood fired.  Was Feldstein right? Were they sloppy? Judge for yourself.


Well, these certainly are wordy! Feldstein wasn't a bad writer...he wrote the fan favorite "My World"...but this wasn't his best work.



My guess is that Feldstein's plan was to contrast deliberately long-winded dialogue with with over-the-top funny drawings.  Unfortunately Wood had a painful medical condition that he attempted to self-medicate with alcohol. He also had a sleep problem. He just wasn't in a funny mood. Even so, you could argue that Wood's material was still adequate and Feldstein should have used it.

How would Wood have handled characters like these when he was healthy and inspired? Here's (above) an example of how he treated Little Orphan Melvin in the days when Mad was still a comic book.   

Friday, December 02, 2016

FIGURE PAINTING

I have a lot of work to do around the house but when I take a break it's fun to go through my files of clippings from old art magazines. Here's (above) an interesting artist I just rediscovered. Sorry, I don't know his name. 

His technique resembles Del Sarto's (above), the Renaissance painter who liked to use wide fields of relatively flat color. Sarto's color was was so striking that it dominated his pictures. 

  
This modern artist (above) pushed that technique even farther. He gives no emphasis at all to his model's personality. She's just a color field like everything else in the picture. Well...sort of. She does have a nuanced fleshiness that makes her stand out.


For comparison, here's (above) a picture by Lucien Freud. I'm not a fan of Freud's art, though his skill is undeniable. He's just too cold for me. Anyway, It's another work where technique dominates the subject matter. Maybe that's the secret of some of the better figure painters.  



Monday, November 28, 2016

AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN

In LA most of our friends were mine...a terrific bunch of guys and their families that I met as a result of working for decades in the animation industry. Fine lads all of them.


My wife had girl friends, but more often than not we spent time with my male friends. My wife was a farm girl and maybe hanging around all those roosters and bulls gave her a tolerance for the peculiarities of the male sex.


Sigh. Yes, it was a placid, mens club existence...one of tranquil reflection and serene maleness.


BUT....all that's going to come to an end soon.


Soon we'll be moving to the outback; far, far away from civilization.


Out there scorpions and snakes are the kings.


Where we're going most of our friends will be my wife's friends...mostly girls she went to school with. I don't know what they'll think of me.


And presiding over it all will be (Gulp!)...The Matriarch...my wife's mother...my mother-in-law.


She's a nice person...if you don't cross her.


So, Yikes! No more men's club. No more butler leaving the day's newspaper on my leather chair.  No more automatic male backup if my wife and I disagree.


There'll be only the sound of female boots as an army of Amazons descends. Tromp! Tromp! Tromp!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

RALPH BAKSHI AT STEVE'S

Here's a few photos of Ralph and Steve that I took a couple of days ago. Sorry about the blur and the yellow. Geez, the color is yellow green and that's even worse.


It was wonderful to see Ralph again, especially after seeing his "Last Days of Coney Island" again on Cartoon Brew. That film is amazing. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a look.


Haw! Steve looks like he's sucking on a pin. I include it here because Ralph looks so doggone manly in this photo. Even though he's old enough to retire he still comes off as what martial arts people call, "dangerous."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

LIFE IN A SMALL TOWN

"Hi! Uncle Eddie here! I'm a city boy and I'll be moving to a small town soon. I've never lived in a small town so I'm reading all I can about that kind of place, so I'll know what to expect. The book I'm reading now is called "Peydon Place." Here's an excerpt:


EDDIE (READING): "The plain, small, average town of Peydon Place reclined like a hot, passionate woman in the late morning sun."


"On Maple Street the Kensing house stood naked to the sunshine. From its rosy red shingles to its well-rounded roof, it almost cried to be taken."

"Behind the window shades, which hung like sensuous lids, in her upstairs room, young Alice Kensing finished dressing to go out."



"Past the City Hall she walked, past the cannon, past the pigeons and the statue of Robert E. Lee."


"Yikes! This stuff is kinda' steamy!"


"I always thought small town people were more...well...you know...basic."


"Gee, do you suppose that nowadays they're modern like the rest of us?"

"Naw, small towns are different!"


"The story must have it wrong."


"Even so, you have to wonder."


"Surely small town institutions are no different than they are anywhere else."


"Okay, maybe they're different on weekends."


"Maybe..."

"...I don't know...maybe there's something in the water in small towns, something that gets the juices going."


"Or maybe the pine cones release some sort of caffeine vapor."


"Or..."

"...Or maybe the book was written by a wicked city woman who never set foot in a small town. Who knows?"



Friday, November 18, 2016

JOHN K DRAWS EDDIE [EXPANDED]

 What do you think of this gay-looking John K caricature of me? Yikes! I'll bet I'd just gotten a haircut. John loves to catch victims when they're fresh out of the barbershop and looking like a clipped poodle.


Here's (above) a photo for comparison.

Another John caricature! Teeth like piano keys, no chin, Ubangi ear lobes, warts, shovel nose, giant nostril...yep, that's me!


For comparison, here's (above) a caricature I've posted before. I include it here to show that John rarely draws people the same way twice. He's always searching for a new take on the subject or a new graphic technique.

Compare that to the way most artists draw caricatures. When the average artist finds a likeness that works he sticks with it and every subsequent drawing of the same person derives from the same template. Not John. He rethinks the problem every time he draws. Man O' man!



Last but not least (above)...My daughter's drawing of me eating a hamburger. Boy, that's a big nose!