Saturday, November 16, 2019

Multimedia Outlet

Longtime readers of Shadow of a Doubt should be familiar with a feature that appears here from time to time called "Graphic Grandeur", where I examine the graphic arts, which sometimes includes illustrative work, but more often than not comics, both strips and books, mainstream and alternative. In carrying out this examination, I owe a good deal of gratitude to the above web site, in providing me with informational tidbits about the great cartoonists of past and present, as well the great cartoonists' art itself, which I've happily snagged (Fair use! Fair use! I can't emphasize that enough!) It's not just the information or the art, however; this web site has inspired me. Comics are such an underappreciated art form that it's tempting to ignore it on this blog altogether. Isn't there enough movies and TV shows and celebrity quotes to keep me busy in this space? Why spread myself thin by adding comics to the mix? Well, for one thing I love comics, and The Comics Reporter often reminded me why I love them. The relative popularity of the web site also proved to me that there were people out there who like reading about comics, and even if they don't want to read what I have to say about the subject, they could at least lovingly gaze at a Dan Decarlo-drawn Betty and Veronica cover. Longtime readers of Shadow of a Doubt should also be familiar with the many obituaries that appear in this space. Well, finding out that someone notable died is easy if that person is Whitney Houston or Tim Conway, but when it's a Russ Heath or Carmen Infantino, I don't learn about it from The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, the TV news, or my local paper but from The Comics Reporter (I was pleasantly surprised once to find a link to this blog on TCR after I did one such obit.) Speaking of obituaries, that's kind of what you're reading right now. Tom Spurgeon, the founder, and I believe the sole reporter, of The Comics Reporter, died this past Wednesday.

Spurgeon was an editor at the print magazine The Comics Journal (where I first encountered his name) from 1994 to 1999, and, after he left that post, continued on at the magazine for a few more writing reviews and conducting interviews. From 1999 to 2002, Spurgeon and artist Dan Wright collaborated on a Wildwood, a comic strip about forest animals with a Christian bent (it never appeared in my hometown paper, but samples I've seen on the web didn't seem particularly preachy. Spurgeon recently endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, so I'm assuming he was not part of the Christian Right.) In 2003, he and Jordan Raphael wrote Stan Lee and the Rise and the Fall of the American Comic Book. The next year Spurgeon and Rapheal launched the aforementioned Comics Reporter, one of the first comics news aggregator sites, featuring criticism (at which Spurgeon excelled), interviews (he was pretty good there, too), cartoonists birthdays, comic-con listings around the country (including Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, of which Spurgeon himself was the Executive Director) and, of course, breaking comics news. There's been no new postings from TCR since Spurgeon's passing, so I have to guess it's not going to survive him. Now that doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing "Graphic Grandeur". I have a couple of posts in mind, including a big one a few days before Thanksgiving. And nowadays there's plenty of online comic news aggregation sites, all of which have have reported on the death of Tom Spurgeon, the man who paved the way.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Quips and Quotations (A Star is Born Edition)

 It didn't help our marriage when I became known as Barbra Streisand's husband. When we met, I was the leading man; she was the newcomer.

--Elliott Gould

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Their Generation

Young English musicians, circa 1962. On the left is Pete Townshend, in the middle is John Entwistle, and on the right is Roger Daltrey. If you recognize those names, then you might also recognize this as the rock band The Who. Except it's not The Who but a precursor to The Who called the Detours. There's no drummer in the above picture, but if there was it would either be Henry Wilson or Doug Sandom. Keith Moon, like the band's change of name, was still a few years way. The Detours didn't turn nearly as much a profit as The Who later did, which meant this also was still a few years way:

After all, that would have been a bit pricey after every gig.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Quips and Quotations (Front Page Edition)

There was, I am sure, neither worldliness nor cunning enough among the lot of us to run a successful candy store. But we had a vantage point, we were not inside the routines of human greed or social pretenses. We were without politeness...We who knew nothing spoke out of a knowledge so overwhelming that I, for one, never recovered from it. Politicians were crooks. The leaders of causes were scoundrels. Morality was a farce full of murder, rapes, and love nests. Swindlers ran the world and the Devil sang everywhere. These discoveries filled me with great joy.

--Ben Hecht, on 1920s journalism

Monday, October 28, 2019

Vital Viewing (Gothic Romance Edition)

 Actress Elsa Lanchester was born on this day in 1902 (she died in 1986.) With her good looks you might assume she played lots of leading ladies roles, or at least was the hero's romantic interest, in many a film. However, she was mostly a character actress throughout her long career, often playing eccentrics, which, while lacking glamour, no doubt kept her steadily employed when those good looks inevitably began to fade.  In twelve of her films made both in England (where she was originally from) and Hollywood, she appeared with husband Charles Laughton, one of the greatest actors of his generation. On her own Elsa had roles in--

You know what? Before I go any further, how about, for anyone who's interested, a lesson on the most efficient way to put on pantyhose? Pay close attention: 

That woman makes it look easy, huh? But remember, she's just a drawing. On actual flesh and bones it may be a bit more difficult, as Elsa explains to Dick Cavett in this 1972 interview:

Now you know why she played eccentrics. As for that poem she mentioned, we'll have to save that for some other day. Halloween is almost upon us, and I have a scary treat for all of you (no, it's not a chocolate-covered eggplant.) I said before Elsa rarely played the romantic interest, but one of the few times she did...

...she got to play the title character. Actually, she wasn't in the movie all that much, just a little at the beginning and a little at the end. Let's begin with the beginning, where she doesn't even play the title character, but rather, an aspiring novelist: 

At that point, Mary conjures up a Universal Pictures sequel for Percy Shelley's and Lord Byron's viewing-or-however-they're-taking-in-this-story-in-1818 pleasure. Along the way there's an old blind man in the woods and some little people in jars, both of which I'm going to skip so I can go right to the end. The very end. Like, the words "The End" on the screen end. You know what that means boys and girls, don't you? Something even more frightening than a creature stitched together from dead body parts. I'm talking about the dreaded SPOILER ALERT! So if you haven't seen the movie and want to, you better leave right now.

On second thought, why doncha stick around? Because what I'm about to show you is so giddily gruesome and so gleefully ghastly, with just a touch of piquant poignancy for all you romantic misfits out there who have no problem commiserating with a brokenhearted monster, that you don't really need an explanation as to how all these characters arrived at this particular moment. Just hold on to your pillows and feast your eyes on one of the greatest horror movie finales of all time:  

 Some people are just not made for each other.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

21st Century Suffrage

 Fifteen years ago actress Masiela Lusha, best known for playing George Lopez's rebellious teenage daughter Carmen on that eponymous sitcom of his, got to vote in her first presidential election, which according to the Parade Sunday supplement, she looked forward to with excitement. I don't blame her. I was excited about voting in my first presidential election--until my candidate lost. It wasn't until my fourth presidential election that I finally picked a winner, so, to all you eighteen-year-olds out there just now getting the right to vote, remember, democracy requires a certain amount of patience. Sometimes a lot of patience. What about Masiela? Did her election year-excitement pay off? And has it continued to pay off in the decade and a half that she's been allowed to vote? I can't tell you. In an effort to pad this blog entry, I did try to find out by googling "Masiela Lusha" and "voting record" and was only 50% successful. I found out everything about Masiela except for her voting record. For instance, even though she played a Hispanic on TV, Masiela is originally from Albania. She lived there until she was about five, when, probably for something having to do with the fall of communism that was going on at the time, she and her family left the country as refugees. Two years later, after stops in Hungary and Austria, they ended up in the United States. In each of these countries, Masiela had to learn a new language, and if you do your math right, you'll find that English is her fourth language, though she speaks it with no trace of an accent (it's good to start young.) She eventually became a U.S. citizen, with all the promise that entails, including Life, Liberty, and a recurring role in the Sharnado movies. OK, a bit of snark slipped in there and I apologize for that. To make up for it I'll point out that, in addition to acting, Masiela has written five books of poetry, two children books, and a novel. In addition, she's been an ambassador for a charity founded by Prince Harry, a spokesperson for Scholastic's Read for Life, a spokesperson for the hunger relief program, Great American Bake Sale, was Ambassador for Youth for the nonprofit Athgo International, and even founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit of her own, the Children of the World Foundation, all of which looks pretty good on a resume (and further helps when padding a blog entry.) But, getting back to Masiela's right to vote, it still doesn't tell me who she likes among the many presidential candidates running around lately. The election is still a year away, and she may not even know herself at this point, and that's all right. But if I was a refugee from Albania, a refugee from anywhere, even a refugee from some rose-colored spectacled American past, I know who I'd be voting against.



Saturday, October 19, 2019

Quips and Quotations (Will It Play in Peoria Edition)

Technology, while adding daily to our physical ease, throws daily another loop of fine wire around our souls. It contributes hugely to our mobility, which we must not confuse with freedom. The extensions of our senses, which we find so fascinating, are not adding to the discrimination of our minds, since we need increasingly to take the reading of a needle on a dial to discover whether we think something is good or bad, or right or wrong.

--Adlai Stevenson