Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Amerika - Flying Upside Down / The Sky Is Falling (1970)

Fuzz guitar, throbbing vibrato organ, appropriately affected vocals, and 'heavy', slightly cryptic lyrics that speak to dissillusionment.

Pretty much everything you'd want or expect from a 1970 pop-psychedelia 45.

So who were these guys?

I'm not finding any info out there on the band, the Los Angeles-based record label, songwriter Clyde Johnson, or producer Roger Koch.

I need an uber-authority, like an Alec Palao or someone who can share that information and educate us all.

Anyone?
Amerika. With a 'K'.
Ring any bells?

In the meantime, enjoy the music...

(click for audio)

Listen to:
Amerika -
Flying Upside Down

(Viking 45, 1970)

Listen to:
Amerika -
The Sky Is Falling

(Viking 45, 1970)

Comic-Con '07: A Few Aftermath Reflections


The Con is over, I'm back home now, with my sore feet and fond memories.

A couple of boxes of swag I shipped to myself from San Diego will be arriving later this week, and it'll be like Xmas opening them up.

Maybe then I'll post a few more cover scans of some of the booty I hauled in.

There'll be comics to sort and strike from my magic want list. A few toys to display, once I've figured out where. A few prints to frame and hang.

I'll also be hanging 3 small spooky photo-portraits I picked up at the Haunted Memories Changing Portraits booth.

They're cool!

I love that they've taken actual vintage photos they've found of someone's actual ancestors, and via the tried-and-true magic of lenticular diffraction grating technology have turned them into these morphing oddities.

They do custom jobs too, which has me fantasizing about a new life for the slightly ghastly, old and gi-normous framed photos I have out in the garage of my great-grandparents...

So let's see, what did I learn from Comic-Con '07 - - ? Here's a few small items:

- Linda Blair is tiny. LeVar Burton is going gray. Xzibit from the 'Pimp My Ride' TV show collects early issues of Amazing Spiderman.

- I have a newly-found appreciation for the old mid-sixties Rocket Robin Hood TV cartoon show. A rare case of a crappy show I loved as a kid actually being BETTER than I remembered.

- Women have the confidence to dress up sexy and have fun doing so, regardless of their general appearance and how it conforms to our era's unfair standards. Most 'ungainly' men do not seem to have that same confidence.

- I discovered that I love wearing a kilt. SO dang comfortable! - - And I've been practicing the fine art of sitting and standing back up again while wearing it. It's going well, but I think I'll need to invest in some long pairs of black boxer briefs.

- The more useless trivia I know, the more there is to yet to learn. The more fun crap I own, the more there is yet to find.

- It's possible to inadvertently hear Jimmy Buffet's 'Margaritaville' four times in the same day.

- I don't have as much patience for taking dozens of photos of people in costume as I used to. Fortunately, others do - -

Here's some links to a few fun 2007 San Diego Comic-Con online photo galleries:

Rotten Tomatoes

Yoshi Enoki Jr at pbase.com

NBC San Diego; 'The Women of Comic-Con'

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cortina print ad, 1965

The UK-manufactured Ford Cortina ceased production in 1982.

Seems like a car that was part Jekyll & part Hyde might not have always run smoothly...

"I heard you got a new car! So, are you getting good gas mileage?"


"Well, sometimes. It depends."

"Bucket seats?"

"Umm, so far only at night."

"Two-door or Four-door?"

"Yes."

We very rarely saw the Cortina on the road here in the States, so we're pretty well outside of its sphere of influence.

Except - - as what seems a once fairly ubiquitous economy car in much of the world is all but unknown here, it can thus carry a downright exotic mystique.

After having been made available via US Ford dealers for a time during the 1960's, the Cortina was withdrawn from the American market when Ford decided to produce a domestic small car in 1971, the Ford Pinto, though it continued in Canada until the end of the 1973 model year.

Be sure to take a look at the extensive galleries at the exhaustive Ford Cortina Website, an Australian enthusiasts page that screams 'labor of love'.

NOT Comic-Con '07: Off to the Balboa Park Botanical Building for a break in the madness

As of this writing, the big funny-book convention has ended for another year.

On Saturday, during the most crowded and hectic portion of the show, I took off to enjoy a palette-cleansing interlude at the Botanical Building in San Diego's Balboa Park.

There was such an overload of visual input at the convention center. It was a treat to breathe and let my eyes rest on some different stimuli. To say nothing of seeing sights that don't exist at home. That's vacation.

Then I started playing with my camera, and had fun taking closeup photos of the beautiful plants in the Botanical Building.

I was trying to steer clear of taking snapshots, and concentrated more on just capturing small arrangements of patterns, textures, colors and shapes that would bounce around in my head for a little while.

Here are some of the results of the pictures I took...


























































































Sunday, July 29, 2007

Roy Meriwether Trio - cuts from Soul Invader, with Murphy Anderson cover art (1968)

Some sweet and soulful live tracks from a live jazz set, very much reminiscent of The Ramsey Lewis Trio, which sits just fine with me.

It doesn't hurt that some of these tunes are fairly 'bulletproof' jazz standards. Thus far I've yet to hear a version of 'Comin' Home Baby' that I didn't like...

Band Lineup:

Roy Meriwether. piano
Lester Bass, bass
Dave Schierlock, drums

Condensed from an online bio:

"Born in Dayton, Ohio, but living in New York City since 1976, Roy Meriwether started playing piano at age three and had composed two pieces before he was four. Shortly thereafter, he began playing in his fathers church, accompanying the family choir, and performing with gospel singers throughout the Midwest.

"Roy turned professional with his own group at age 18 and has devoted himself to both composing and performing ever since."

There's more info about Roy Meriwether available at his homepage.

From The Roy Meriwether Trio's 'Soul Invader' LP,
(Columbia Records, 1968), Listen to:

It's A Mean World To Live In
Soul Invader
Lonely Man
On Green Dolphin Street
Comin' Home Baby
Lullaby of Birdland
Sweet Sixteen Bars
After Hours

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 8 tracks in one 37.9 Mb zipfile.

(ADDENDUM, 5/22/08: More Meriwether online! The '69 LP 'Preachin'' is posted at 4 Brothers Beats. (Thanks Arkane1!)


The album's cover art is credited to 'Will Eisner Productions/Murphy Anderson'. I suppose it could be Anderson inking Eisner's pencils, but I doubt it.

In 1968, (before his terms 'graphic novel' or 'sequential art' had been coined) comics artist Will Eisner and the artists at his agency were concentrating most of their efforts on producing illustrated instruction materials for the U.S. Government and related agencies and businesses.

Eisner had begun producing a digest-sized magazine for the Army in 1951, 'P*S: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly'. By the late '60's and early '70's he was farming out much of those chores to his assistants, and eventually Murphy Anderson took over 'P*S'.

Click here to take a peek at some of Eisner's artwork for the Army.

I've always loved Murphy Anderson's artwork. I was thinking about it recently, and I believe Anderson may have been one of the first comic book artists whose name I knew, and whose style I could recognize.

I'd read lots of comics as a little kid, but it wasn't until I was about nine or ten that I began reading super-hero comics and became a 'serious' collector.

It probably started when an older cousin gave me a small stack of comics she'd 'outgrown'. In the pile was a copy of Superman #264, 'The Secret of the Phantom Quarterback' (first appearance of Steve Lombard! Exciting, no?), from 1973, smack in the middle of the Curt Swan / Murphy Anderson era of Superman artwork.

I clearly remember reading that issue while walking home from school, and noticing with slight surprise the letters column, and also the writer and artist credits on the splash page. I recall thinking "Wow. It's just a comic book, but some people seem to take it really seriously. They know who the artists are and everything. That's weird. I hope I don't get like that. It IS cool artwork, though..."

It was already too late. I was hooked.

The rest is history, and here we are.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

(link:) A quick Heinrich Kley web round-up

German editorial cartoonist Heinrich Kley (1863 - 1945) produced wonderful, whimsical, lyrical, cynical and often profound illustrations that are a joy to behold.

Here's a few links to places around the web that feature his work...

- There are beautiful gallery pages at Coconino Publishing.

- Here's a good capsule bio at lines and colors.

- More bio, more gallery at Scream Online.

- Just a few more images, but placing them in context with other works from fellow editorial magazine artists of the period. Check it out at Graphic Witness.

(Scans on this page from 'The Drawings of Heinrich Kley', Borden Books, 1941)

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 07/27/07 - - Comic-Con Edition

I'm still having a blast here in San Diego. Let me take a moment to relate a few of the cool things I've seen this week, Comic-Con related and otherwise...

1. This guy. ➤ ➤

There's been a ton of folks in great costumes at the Con, but this guy has been far and away my favorite so far.

I haven't yet had the right opportunity to accost him for clarification, but basically he's Galactus in a business suit.
It's the briefcase and black executive kilt that really complete the costume.

I'd like to think that maybe he's actually Galactus' brother, Skip.
The one who went to business school instead of following the family trade of consuming planets.

2. Speaking of convention attire, if I may be allowed, I must say the cleavage on display in the aptly-named exhibition hall has been fascinating. Not merely for its presence, but the amazing variety. Women of all sizes and shapes, some of them here in a professional capacity, some costumed, many in street clothes.

There's ample bodiced or bustiered cleavage that looks like it's being presented on a dessert platter, there are tiny women jostling through the crowds and constantly tugging at their strapless gear to keep it up. There's all variety of fantasies being played out and often it seems to involve exposed flesh. There are the average-looking dudes who - - pardon me - - are all but carrying a leash as they proudly lead their semi-naked girlfriends around the convention floor.

I remember when you rarely saw women at comics or sci-fi conventions. It's gratifying to see more people of all types enjoying this stuff now. It's finally hip to be a nerd, and I'll venture that nowhere do they feel as welcome as at Comic-Con.

I've always loved that for many it seems to be some sort of oasis or free zone, where anyone can indulge by dressing up or just being their 'true' selves. It's wonderful that people who may not be thought of as attractive by customary standards arrive here and are comfortable enough among their own to strut around and expose their playful or sensual side.

3. Networking and name-dropping.

It's been especially fun for me to meet up with some of the folks I've corresponded with via this blog.

Comics creator Steven Weissman was great to gab with yesterday, as was 'the Monster Engine guy', illustrator Dave DeVries.
(click his name to link to his new illustration website)

I swung by artist Rick Geary's table in 'Artist's Alley' and said hello and picked up some great postcards and the new Gumby comics he's done with Flaming Carrot's Bob Burden.

Walking along and cruising the aisles, it was a treat to see Lou Ferrigno signing autographs and flexing his muscles for little kids who needed explanations from parents as to who he is.

I was very pleased to spot B-movie legend, actor Sid Haig in the crowd, I walked up and shook his hand and thanked him for all his great work.

Heading back to my hotel room the other day I saw Stan Lee and his ever-lovin' entourage heading for the lounge.

- - and at breakfast yesterday morning I was seated next to the Hernandez Brothers, creators of Love & Rockets. I waited until I was leaving to briefly say hello and tell them their work just keeps getting better.

I tend to be very shy about bothering 'famous' people. I hate to pester, but sometimes you just gotta let them know, y'know?

MEANWHILE, out in the 'real' world:

4. Maybe one of your friends has already sent you a YouTube link to that cute dancing skeleton video clip. Here it is again. (Thanks Dave)

5. Mary Weiss' new CD, 'Dangerous Game' on Norton, performing with a new group, The Reigning Sound.

It's been decades since the lead singer of my fave 1960's girl group, The Shangri-Las, has had a new album, and this one is just about everything you could hope for. It's awesome!

A faithful extension of that distinctive sound, but matured and ripened into something new as well.

Mary's voice is still just great, her backing band fits her just right, and as ever, she's cool and tough.

Check out performance video and more at her website.

See also: Mary Weiss on MySpace,
and an interview at the Norton Records website.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Fifth Column - I Love You, But... (1995)

Going back to 1995, this was a fun track from the band Fifth Column, out of Toronto.

It was one half of a 7" split single shared with Trailer Queen.

Session line-up:

Caroline Azar, vocals

G.B. Jones, guitar

Michelle Breslin, guitar & back-up vocals

Beverly Breckenridge, bass & back-up vocals

Jo-Jo Rock Wasson, drums













The song is a cover of an old favorite; it was used in 1963's 'Ann-Margrock Presents' episode of 'The Flintstones', as sung by guest star Ann-Margret.





Listen to: Fifth Column - I Love You, But... (Dark Beloved Cloud Records, 1995)

(click for audio)

Comic-Con '07 spotlight: Meet The Brothers Parpan of Goblin Fish Press

Here's two of the many talented artists I saw while ambling around at Comic-Con yesterday.

⬅ To the left is Josh Parpan, and on the right is his brother Justin.

They rock!

Each one produces their own style of stunning and fun artwork, mostly in a whimsical monster or children's book illustration vein.



VERY cool.

Scrolling down this page, you'll see just a few examples of Josh's work on the left, and Justin's on the right.

They've founded Goblin Fish Press to publish their books, prints, postcards, and more, as well as Terrible T-Shirts, displaying the finest in fashion.








































































If you should happen to be here at Comic-Con in San Diego this week, swing by the Goblin Fish Press booth.

Here or not, I urge you to visit each of the brother's blogs. Get some background on these images, and take a peek at many other examples of some of the Parpan's super-nifty artwork!

(click on links)

Visit Josh Parpan's 'ILLustration Design' blog.

Visit Justin Parpan's 'Primitive Art & Design' blog.

Visit the Goblin Fish Press homepage.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Comic-Con '07: Greetings from Dork Vegas!

Flew in to San Diego yesterday, and it's a real treat to be someplace else for a few days.

Especially nice to be back someplace where there's water. And moisture in the air. And color. Very special.

I've been excited about coming back to Comic-Con. Changing planes in San Francisco yesterday for the second hop, it was great to start spotting others who were clearly heading here as well.

Pioneering underground comix creator and comics historian Trina Robbins sat behind me on the plane. It always does my heart good to see her at events like these.

(Hey, check out Trina's website.)

She was flying down with her partner, Steve Leialoha. I've always liked his artwork, though I confess I haven't seen any recent examples of his work in a while.

(ADDENDUM: Later that same day, there was Mr. Leialoha signing autographs in Artist's Alley. The artwork he's included in his two sketchbooks show a style that --to my eye-- has grown leaps and bounds from what I've seen in the past. Lyrical, eloquent lines, lovely stuff. Wow. I loved his work then, I love it more now.)

Braved the confusion of registration and badge pick-up in the afternoon, and had a blast wandering among the hordes at 'Preview night' in the evening. It's wild to think that's as 'empty' as the convention center will get during the Con.

I strolled around without any particular destinations in mind last night, but I imagine today and tomorrow I'll roll up my sleeves and get serious and systematic. A lot of ground to cover.

I saw some familiar faces and said hello to a few folks during my prolonged mosey about the exhibit hall - - Jordan Crane, Derek Thompson, William Stout and a couple others...

...and then I got down to some hunting. I worked my magic wantlist a bit, filled some nice holes, and found some fun stuff at the right price that was too cool to pass up. (see below)

Okey-doke, off to breakfast and back to the safari!

To be continued...

(click on images to ENLARGE)






























































































- - Hey, so is it just me, or does this Bugs Bunny cover seem a little unsavory somehow?

I think Bugs looks drunk. Sitting alone, had a few, making phonecalls and keeping both hands free for carrot-fondling...

...I don't recall seeing him in blue gloves before, either. D'you suppose they're rubber?
Eeew...

Freshly-stirred links