Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or… Awww, You Know!

Just in case ya DON'T know, here it is, Bub!

Oh, and by the way... BOO!

Donald is LITERALLY speechless!

I was "speechless" in MY first film too!  Then, I learned to speak!
No fair!  I could only scream and hiss!
I could scream right now... If this Blog had SOUND! 
Happy Halloween!

If ya think THAT STUFF'S SCARY, wait a week 'till Election Day!  (Shudder!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A NYCC 2012 Moment # 5 (and final): “Beep-Beep!”

Yep, we finally got around to it! 

Look up! 

Sorry if you were temporarily blinded by the garish colors, but this is the cover to Gold Key’s BEEP-BEEP THE ROAD RUNNER # 65 (July, 1977). 

Thanks to New York Comic Con 2012, a piece of this book is now mine! 
Mine!  All MINE

It isn’t often that you find original Gold Key Comics artwork for sale (presumably, most of it was destroyed) so, when you do, you pounce on it.   As I did with the cover to this issue. 
Pounce on it -- QUICKLY!  Go on...

An art dealer had it stashed among pages upon pages of the more typical mainstream comic stuff, with no notation of what it was, or even of the artist.   For the record, it was Jack Manning, who did lots of the Gold Key Road Runner comics of the period – and some interesting Mickey Mouse stories of the early ‘70s! 

Alas, I cannot scan and share this item with you – which, I must admit, looks FAR BETTER in its original BLACK AND WHITE than its published color version.  Then again, how could it not! 

It measures 13.50 x 20.75 and has the area for the UPC Code sketched in blue pencil covering some lines of the art. 

Below the art are pre-printed designated lines for STORY TITLE followed by a handwritten “Beep Beep # 65”, PUBLICATION followed by “May 1977 G-2546”, and PAGE with no entry. 

And, in the lower right margin is the ACTUAL NAME AND ADDRESS for Western Publishing’s Los Angeles office – the building within whose walls the Dell, Gold Key, and Whitman comic books were editorially formed! 

Western Publishing Co., Inc.
6922 Hollywood Blvd. # 321
Los Angeles, California 90028

How ‘bout THAT?!  Just knowing where these comics were created is worth the price of the piece!  Imagine the myriad talents of writing, art, and editorial processes who walked THOSE hallowed halls over the years! 
Like maybe THIS GUY?  Carl Barks! 
Had I known this some years ago, I’d have sought out that building on one of my trips to Los Angeles.  I’d probably be disappointed to find some “ad agency” or other mundane occupant there.
Finally, if you look REALLY CLOSELY you can see the some of the blue pencil lines which Jack Manning used to create the original sketch, before it was inked.  Even I didn’t see this until pulling it out for a more detailed look to prepare this post! 

And, another "good deal" below!
After a round of haggling, from which I actually walked away and was called back, the price became reasonable enough to close the deal.   Unfortunately, said deal was closed relatively early on Friday and, unlike with other art I’ve purchased in the past, this piece did not fit flat in the briefcase I generally carry around comic cons…

Cash and (unfortunately) carry!
...And so I was forced to carry the darned thing around with me ALL DAY (with Friend of This Blog “JoeCab” to help usher me through the roiling throngs) – and into the evening, even to that dinner with friends where I watched the Yankees win their playoff series over Baltimore (noted HERE). 
And, like the Yankees, Wile E. just ran outta luck - and hits!

Yeah, I couldda probably left it all day with the dealer, but I eventually got used to the burden – and (as any real fan will understand) was just glad to have it with me! 

The worst of it was upon leaving the Con and encountering gusts of October evening wind, whipping through the concrete canyons of New York City.  There was a moment where I thought that the broad, flat image area of Road Runner and Wile E. -- and its broader-still backing board -- would take-off like an “Acme Kite”, and maybe take me with it! 
...Or, just use your own COVER ART!

At the very least, this rendition of Wile E. was often seen “twisting in the wind” that night… a position with which he is not unfamiliar!  

And so we close the (comic) book on New York Comic Con for 2012!   My advice to all of you is to go there someday!  You’ll have great fun… and, if you parse it wisely, much material for your Blogs! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tex Gets the Boot(leg)!

I don’t generally support the bootlegging of DVDs.  It’s an illegal enterprise that (frankly) steals from the rightful copyright holder and, more often than not, an authorized studio version will invariably be a better product anyway – if for no other reason than it’s struck from better prints.   

But, as with everything in life, there are exceptions.  For me with DVD, the main one being – will the studio EVER offer a legitimate release? 
Such has not been the case with Warner Home Video and the series of MGM cartoons directed by Tex Avery.  It is now the final quarter of 2012.  Some say DVD as a medium has peaked and if, after all this time, WHV has not officially given us a comprehensive taste of Tex beyond the DROOPY release of 2007, I suspect they never will. 
Did Tex Avery invent COLORFORMS with this gag?

And so it was that I finally gave in and purchased a bootleg copy of Tex Avery’s wonderful theatrical cartoon shorts made at MGM in the ‘40s and ‘50s. 
Did "Technicolor End Here"?
These cartoons are adult, fast-paced, and violent in ways beyond their contemporaries.  Tex Avery possessed a unique vision of what an animated cartoon could be at its fullest and most energetic potential… and found ways to push his films even further than that!  

Outrageous gags that could only be accomplished in animation, wild takes and reaction shots, visual puns galore, as much sexual imagery as one could get-away with at the time, painfully funny cartoon violence (punctuated with sound effects that you can almost FEEL!) thrown your way at a breakneck pace, and the ever-present feeling that (no matter the situation), it’s only an animated motion picture – such as the famous “Technicolor Ends Here!” gag, or characters running beyond the sprocket-holes of the film!  
Shsssh!  I'm sooo happy!

Tex Avery did lots of things with wolves and sexy redheads, and gave animation its “saddest-sack” hero in Droopy.  His Screwy Squirrel shorts were utterly amazing in the sheer amount of outrageous things he could pack into a mere seven minutes. 
Screwy, aren't I?
George and Junior (a short grouchy bear paired with a big dumb, goofy-looking one) SHOULD have been a long-running series, but it appears Tex’s heart was more into one-shots than series. 

Among the best of those one-shots were such classics as "King Size Canary" and "Bad Luck Blackie".
Duuh!  Where'd ya GO, George?

Two superb gag examples of Avery’s special brand of humor are found in “The Shooting of Dan McGoo”, the second Droopy cartoon. 

1:  A signpost informs us that our story takes place in “Coldernell”, Alaska… at a time you couldn’t even say “hell” in a live-action film, much less in a cartoon.

2:  The camera pans across the bar in a saloon – past a rather large bartender firmly planted directly across the middle of a painting of a reclining nude woman, leaving only her head and calves visible.  The camera pans back, hoping for a second look at what it missed the first time.  The bartender remains fixed in position and says: 

Ya might as well move on, Doc!  I don't move from here all through th' picture!” 
Another great Avery gag example from a later cartoon is discussed HERE!

I’ve yet to check how “complete” this unauthorized edition is but, as it contains the George and Junior short “Half-Pint Pygmy”, I’d tend to believe there are few, if any, omissions.
Half-Pint Pygmy” is a rarely seen cartoon because of its racially offensive images.  For the record, I fully agree with this. 

 ...But, sadly, it didn’t NEED to be.  George and Junior (oddly, looking more like “bears” than Avery-style goofy toons, in this one) travel to Africa to capture the World’s Smallest Pygmy for science. 

Unfortunately for us today, this wonderfully fast-paced hilarious Avery cartoon DIDN’T NEED to have a Pygmy as the object of the quest.  As you watch the cartoon, you come to realize that you could substitute the World’s Smallest [fill-in the name of ANY animal here]” and it would still play basically the same!  The many violent “jungle environment” and “wild animal” gags would work even if the quarry was some sort of lizard or sumpthin’! 

Even the ending-kicker gag is not necessarily tied to the offensive Pygmy imagery – and the SPIRIT of the gag could apply to our hypothetic and generic “any-animal”.  Though, the final fate of George and Junior themselves might STILL be enough to keep this one out of general circulation. 

Tex Avery (and let’s not forget his main writer Heck Allen, the “frantic-jazz” of composer Scott Bradley, and the many fine animators in his unit) was truly a one-of-a-kind force in animation… and aren’t we glad we had him!  …And, aren’t *I* glad I now have all of his MGM cartoons on DVD! 
Wolfie's glad too!

Oddly, after I finally made this purchase, Warner Home Video may have finally offered a ray of Tex Avery hope on its LOONEY TUNES PLATINUM COLLECTION (Blu-ray) VOLUME TWO, released October 16, 2012. 

11 Avery MGM cartoons and two documentary features (plus an on-camera interview) are included as part of this wonderful set, giving hope that an official Warner Authorized Version may yet materialize! 

Hey, WHV… Release a Complete Tex Avery MGM Collection on Blu-ray, with commentaries and extra features, and I’ll happily forsake my bootleg for it!  …Deal?  

Now, speaking of things Warner has yet to release, if someone could give me a hot tip on HUCKLEBERRY HOUND Seasons 2-4.  "Studio-Authorized" preferred, but not required! 
Got a hot DVD back there, Huck?

...Next and finally... Beep-Beep!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A NYCC 2012 Moment # 4 – or – “Four Days, Five Comics”.

…Or, more specifically, “Four Days, Five Dells”. 

New York Comic Con may have “become” for me what San Diego used to be, but there is one significant difference… the number of comics purchased.   

As has become the case with NEW COMICS (IDW’s POPEYE being the lone exception – and, have I said enough good things about that title to convince you yet?), the “Old Comics” purchasing is at an all-time low as well.   
Just BUY IT, okay!?

This is even down by ONE “Old Comic” from last year, as you can see HERE! 

…And, it would have only been THREE “Old Comics”, if I hadn’t discovered the great old TV western WAGON TRAIN on DVD this past year – and decided to pick up two reasonably priced Dell issues to sample it in comic form.   
Buy THIS too!  You won't be sorry!

Ah, those old photo covers were great – especially the image of Ward Bond on the first one, against the brown background.  
First Wagon Train comic: Dell Four Color # 895
Wagon Train # 7 (1960)

We’ll have some sort of overall write-up of WAGON TRAIN someday soon.  It is a surprisingly good example of the TV Western genre – chock full of “A-List Guest Stars” – and (in my own very humble Blogger’s opinion) may very well be the best TV Western of them all!  (…and there sure were a lot of them to choose from!) 

UPDATE October 26, 2012:  We WILL have a post on WAGON TRAIN, coming up three or four posts from now!  Look for it soon!

There will always be holes to fill in such long running series as Dell’s LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES or WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES (…I’ve long since conceded on completing those), but will always pick up bargain priced copies from their prime periods – such as these two examples of the latter below. 
Walter Lantz New Funnies # 193 (1953)

Walter Lantz New Funnies # 194 (1953) 

Jay Ward comics will probably always be too pricy for me but, once in a while, you run into one that’s unexpectedly reasonable – and this rounds out my five “Old Comics” purchases for New York Comic Con 2012. 
Rocky and His Friends: Dell FC 1208 (1961)

There was also a bootleg DVD worth buying – and “Beep-Beep” remains to be discussed!   

New York Comic Con is, in every POSITIVE sense of the now-clichéd phrase, “The Gift that Keeps on Giving” – in the form of continued Blog posts.   Be here for the next one, won’t you? 

…Blog post AND New York Comic Con, I mean!