Sunday, December 28, 2008

'Strictly Personal' illustrations by Charles Rodrigues (1964) - - Plus: The tawdry world of Leo Guild

Like many, it was in the 1970s that I first took notice of cartoonist Charles Rodrigues' work.

It was for his strip 'The Aesop Brothers, Siamese Twins', which ran regularly in the comics pages of National Lampoon.

That would always remain my personal association with his name and his artwork, though over the years I'd discover that it had been just one publication among several to print his cartoons on a regular basis.

Rodrigues was born on September 9th, 1926, was of Portuguese heritage, and lived most of his life in rural Massachusetts.

After his service with the Navy in WWII, he married and raised a family.

His long affiliation with the magazine Stereo Review (now called 'Sound & Vision') began with its first issue in
February of 1958 (when it was called 'Hi-Fi and Music Review', later 'HiFi Review' and then 'HiFi/Stereo Review', until 1968 when the name settled to 'Stereo Review').

His cartoons for that magazine were geared for audiophiles, and the humor would often (but not always) depend on a reader's knowledge of audio equipment.

Rodrigues remained a regular contributor there for decades, and drew similarly-themed Ham and CB Radio-centric cartoons for 'Electronics Illustrated' magazine in the '60s and '70s.

In addition to the Lampoon and occasional appearances in Playboy and magazines like Look (see below) and others, his gag cartoons also ran regularly in Cracked Magazine for many years.

He was also a syndicated newspaper cartoonist, with two long-running strips; 'Charlie' (described as being like a gloomier 'Ziggy') and 'Casey The Cop' ▼.

(Follow this link for another example of the 'Casey' strip.)

Charles Rodrigues died at the age of 77 on June 14, 2004, following a brief illness.

The tone of his cartoons (if not the artistic style) was often similar in dark temperament to cartoonists like Charles Addams or Virgil Partch or his contemporary, Gahan Wilson.

Though the work of Rodrigues was seldom overtly macabre, certainly within the pages of
National Lampoon he more than adequately portrayed 'taboo' subjects with regularity, to the point that in my own case it was almost more shocking (having first associated him with NatLamp) to discover how relatively tame and genteel his cartoons could be that appeared elsewhere.

In describing Rodrigues in his book 'A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever', author Josh Karp wrote:

"Charles Rodrigues was a devout Catholic who despised humor of a blasphemous or sexual
nature yet thought nothing of submiting thick, fuzzy cartoons that made humor out of the handicapped, epileptics and dwarfs as they tried to use the toilet or perform other everyday activities."

Collected here are a few Rodrigues illustrations from an old paperback, 'Strictly Personal' - - A "hilarious" collection of (supposedly authentic) newspaper 'personals column' ads.

The book was first published in 1964, and its tendency towards the mildly risqué fit right in with many of the slightly racy humor and cartoon paperbacks printed at the time by Fawcett's Gold Medal Books.

(click on images to ENLARGE
in a new window)

(click on images to ENLARGE in a new window)

Below, ▼ two one-panel Rodrigues cartoons that appeared in Look Magazine in 1968.

- And one more 'Stereo Review' panel (date unknown).

ADDENDUM, 1.13.09: Check out some more Charles Rodrigues cartoons from a 1966 paperback collection, 'Spitting On The Sheriff And Other Diversions' in a follow-up post!

- - Finally, a bit of tangential info with regard to the 'Strictly Personal' book.

The 'compiler/editor' was Leo Guild, a name that may be familiar to readers of trash fiction and old
'tell-all' celebrity biographies of questionable authenticity.

Guild had been a publicist for Warner Bros. beginning in the 1940s, had a long-running column in
The Hollywood Reporter, wrote Radio and TV scripts, and was occasionally credited as a Hollywood Producer.

Some time in the late '40s he began authoring books, mostly pulp fiction, but also celebrity biographies, gambling guides, 'bachelor' joke books and others, well into the 1970s.

He received perhaps his best credits for the bio 'Zanuck: Hollywood's Last Tycoon', while his work 'The Fatty Arbuckle Case' is viewed as being largely embellished fiction.

A few other titles by Leo Guild - -

-Ecstasy and Me: My Life as a Woman
(by Hedy Lamarr and Leo Guild)

- Hollywood Screwballs

- Confidential Sex Survey

- What Are The Odds (follow link for a review at
Your Neighborhood Librarian)

- Cons and Lovers

- Mistress of Cuba (as Rita Benuto)

- The Girl Who Loved Black: White Girls Who Love Black Pimps,
the True Story of One Who Did

- Street of Ho's

- Black Bait: the True Story of Lila, a Foxy, Fast
Race Track Swinger

- Black Streets of Oakland

- The Senator's Whore

- I Was Kidnapped by Idi Amin

Leo Guild's masterpiece (or his 'Plan 9', if you will) would appear to be his 1972 novel 'The Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman', described as "...the most craptastically awful book ever written".

A 2007 article in Seattle's The Stranger supplied an overview of Guild's career, and a description of this novel.

- Follow link to 'The Worst Pulp Novelist Ever: Remembering Leo Guild'

Author Paul Collins followed this piece with some further elaboration at his Weekend Stubble blog.
- Click over to 'King Hack'.

- As if that weren't sufficient, you can read a further review of 'The Werewolf Vs. the Vampire Woman' over at The Groovy Age of Horror.

Leo Guild and Charles Rodrigues' book 'Strictly Personal' was released early in 1964.
When the Fall TV season began that year, Leo Guild received writer's credit for the new CBS sitcom
'My Living Doll', though essentially all he'd provided was the idea.

The program starred Bob Cummings as a psychologist given the task of caring for Rhoda, a robot fashioned to look like a real human female, played by Julie Newmar.

The series was basically a variation on the formula CBS had used the year before with their show 'My Favorite Martian', though capable of employing saucier situations than might be attainable with Ray Walston.

- Follow link to one of several video clips available at YouTube.

'My Living Doll' lasted only one season, though it did leave us with the phrase 'Does not compute'.

The following year, NBC countered with 'I Dream of Jeannie'.


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Thombeau said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Wishing you all sorts of fabulosity in 2009. XOXOX

Ace said...

I am SO impressed: An article on Rodrigues, one of my favourite all time cartoonists!

Somewhere I have some old Electronics Illustrated mags with some cartoons ... don't hold your breath, but if I ever unearth them, I'll send you some scans...

He was able to be funny in some highly technical genres like electronics, and he could be genuinely rude!

Thanks so much for immortalizing him!

Kafkask said...

"Charles Rodrigues was a devout Catholic who despised humor of a blasphemous or sexual nature..."

Odd, since most all of his series on the Aesop Brothers dealt with the two of them trying to get laid.

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