Saturday, March 22, 2008

Separated at Birth: There's no business like shore business

FF #4/Saga of Subbie #7
L: Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962), art by Jack Kirby and Sol Brodsky
R: Saga of the Sub-Mariner #7 (May 1989), art by Rich Buckler and Bob McLeod
(Click picture to Atlanti-size)

See also.


Friday, March 21, 2008

You can have a HE-! MAN! VOICE!!!

You don't get the same caliber of ads in comic books these days that you useta. Case in point, from Fantastic Four #121 (April 1972):

You Can Have a He-Man Voice


Golly. In addition to being a 9.8 ounce weakling who gets sand kicked in his face at the beach, apparently my squeaky little stuffed bull voice isn't something that inspires confidence and respect. Maybe I need to get a deep, booming, he-man voice. Now, I don't know 'bout you, but when I think of a "he-man voice," the first thing I think of is



The second thing I think is "wow, I'm not certain if I wanna take he-man voice lessons from a guy named Eugene Feuchtinger." Here, in fact, are ten guys' names that sound more likely to have a "he-man voice" than a "Eugene Feuchtinger":
  1. Nick Slate
  2. Hart Stone
  3. Max Hammer
  4. Buzz Ripclaw
  5. Slade Manly
  6. Rick Terror
  7. Sam Turbo
  8. Frank Castle
  9. Rock Broadslab
  10. Lieb Schreiber
Still, Eugene Feuchtinger musta known what he was teaching, because the Perfect Voice Institute ain't no fly-by-night organization. Although it's no longer headquartered in Chicago, tough guy city, and is instead based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Feuchtinger's been pumping up your voice since 1916. And take a big steamin' gander at him: he looks like he could punch out Nick Fury and take on Frank Rock for dessert:
Eugene Feuchtinger


Read more about Eugene "I'll tear your head off" Feuchtinger here, and you can find out how to get the Feuchtinger method Perfect Voice DVD here. Longing for more nostalgia? Here's another great ad for the Perfect Voice Institute. Or, if you wanna get the full vintage he-man voice experience, pick up a copy of Eugene's book The Voice by clicking the Amazon link to the right. In no time at all you'll be getting the respect and admiration you deserve by talking in your new HE-MAN VOICE!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Don't dare miss next ish! (You know how angry it makes Galactus!)"

A year (1972, to be exact) in the life of the Fantastic Four, as seen through the "next issue" blurbs at the end of their comic books (#118-#129):

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!

Next issue...!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Wodehouse a Week #47: The Girl in Blue

A Wodehouse a Week banner

So. I've been spending all week long looking at The Girl in Blue. No, not this one:
Keira Knightley


Then again, it would have been fun to spend the week staring at Keira Knightley. Oh bother. Instead I paid attention to the 1970 novel by P. G. Wodehouse:
The Girl in Blue


I do like the work of Ionicus, the cartoonist-illustrator of many Penguin Wodehouse editions, but I gotta tell ya, this is one of my least favorite of his book covers. While most of the cast is lined up merrily on the cover (from L-R: Crispin Scrope, owner of the costly and crumbling ruin of Mellingham Hall; Chippendale the (fake) butler, sent by Scrope's creditor to keep an eye on him; boisterous and friendly shoplifter Bernadette "Barney" Clayborne; local Police Constable Simms; cartoonist Jerry West; air hostess and Jerry's love interest Jane Hunnicut; and Willoughby Scrope, Crispin's flush younger brother), I don't feel the portrayals adequately capture the energy of Bernie or Jane, although the smarmy menace of Chippendale isn't badly shown in his rat-like cartoon face. But is it just me, or is the part of Jerry West played in this production by Jimmy Olsen?

Sharp buttons eyes like mine, however, will spot one significant thing wrong with the cover: Barney's dressed in gold and Jane in pink. Where, oh where, therefore, is the titular (tee hee!) Girl in Blue? Why, spy closer, Wodehouse-wonderers, and see this novel's Silver Cow Creamer, the source and cause of all the consternation and uproar at pastoral Mellingham Hall:
Gainsborough miniature


Meet the Girl in Blue, everyone: a miniature painting by Thomas Gainsborough (n.b.: not a fictional character), purchased by Willoughby Scrope because the subject is his and Crispin's great-great grandmother. When the painting is accidentally mislaid (a well-meaning friend tucks it in a desk drawer to avoid it being stolen), Willoughby suspects Bernadette "Barney" Clayborne, and with good reason: she's recently been convicted of being a cheerful shoplifter. Barney's a guest at the family estate, and Willoughby instructs his timid brother Crispin to recover the miniature from Barney's grasps, by hook or by crook.

Where do our usual lovebird couple come in, you ask? Enter cartoonist Jimmy Ol...er, I mean Jerry, who falls deeply in love with Jane two paras into chapter two—never mind that he doesn't know her name:
...Jerry, gazing at the girl in the far end of the row in which he sat, became more convinced than ever that the odd illusion of having been struck on the frontal bone by an atom bomb, experienced by him on his initial glimpse of her, had been to due to love at first sight. It happens that way sometimes. A's love for B, of for the matter of that, C's love for D, often requiring long months before it comes to the boil, can occasionally start functioning with the sudden abruptness of one of those explosions in a London street which slay six. There seems to be no fixed rule.
...and even never minder that there's another complication which initially failed to occur to Jerry:
He saw her now in the office of a registrar licenced to perform marriages, for he was sure that a girl like that would not want one of those ghastly choral weddings with bishops and assistant clergy horsing up all over the place. They would get it all fixed up in a couple of minutes, and later on they would sit together in their cozy little nest like two love birds on a perch. In the long winter evenings that would be, of course. In the summer they would be playing golf or enjoying a refreshing swim.

It was as his mind's eye was probing even more deeply into their domestic life that there came to him the realization that there was an obstacle, and a rather serious one, in the way of the bliss he was contemplating. He had suddenly remembered, what for the moment had slipped his mind, that he was engaged to be married to someone else.
Alas poor Jerry? Heck no. Lucky Jerry to be a character in a Wodehouse romance, as his engagement to social-climbing shrewish Vera Upshaw is casually broken (by her) with little or no consequence, freeing Jerry up to woo Jane. Ain't love grand? In such a way I someday hope to woo Miss Keira Knightley.
Keira Knightley


Gainsborough miniatureInterspersed among all that woo-pitchin' is the hunt for the miniature, which (we know) Barney is innocent of stealing, but the rest of the cast plots to search and ransack her room, with the usual comedies of error that result in fake butler Chippendale forcing Jerry to hide in a cupboard, where, of course, he is found out almost immediately. At one point, Crispin, being a man of obvious literary taste, suggests a plot straight out of Conan Doyle:
'...You are familiar with the exploits of Sherlock Holmes?'

'Know them by heart, but which of them would be any use to us? Would it be the Adventure of the Five Orange Pips? Are you planning to intimidate Mrs. Clayborne by sending her five orange pips, with a message telling her to put the miniature on the sun dial?'

'That had not occurred to me.'

'It might work. It would depend, of course, on whether she's allergic to orange pips. Many people aren't.'

'My plan is based not so much on a story as on something Holmes said in one of the stories. He said, if you recall, that when a house is on fire, everyone's impulse is to carry out from the flames the thing most precious to them; in Mrs. Clayborne's case, I think we may assume, the miniature. That seems to me a correct statement of human psychology.'

Jerry, having no mustache to finger, fingered his chin.

'Let's get this straight. For the moment I'm a little fogged. Are you proposing to set fire to Mellingham Hall?'

Crispin could not repress a wistful sigh. The picture of a heavily insured Mellingham Hall in flames was a very attractive one.
That is, of course, because Crispin is, unlike the cerulean miniature, is well in the red:
And indeed there was a certain resemblance between Crispin and such a cadaver, for the passage of time had done nothing to diminish the horror of the task before him. He was also experiencing pains of remorse for the past. 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave,' he was saying to himself, 'when we touch a brother for two hundred and three pounds six and fourpence and then go and lose a hundred of it on a horse that comes in second.'
Never fear, dear Reader: everyone has a happy ending: finances gained, loves blossomed, miniatures restored. It's a clever book: like an episode of Columbo, the fun is not in finding out whodunit but in seeing how the mystery is unraveled. While Jerry and Jill are pleasant but somewhat nondescript hero and heroine, Chippendale, the butler who calls his master "cocky" and "chum" steals much of the show, and is even the center of attention in the novel's closing moments. In 1970 Wodehouse's career was winding down, and while The Girl in Blue isn't one of his top books, it has a pleasant spiraling plot and amicable characters, and the brief mention of a twin miniature of a Girl in Green suggests maybe we might have seen a sequel and a return to Mellingham Hall someday. Alas, it was never to be, but we can dream, can't we? We can dream...

A Wodehouse a Week #47: The Girl in Blue


I've got two editions of The Girl in Blue in my collection: one the Penguin paperback with Ionicus illustration discussed above, the other a US Simon & Schuster hardcover book club edition with a rather cheerful Osbert Lancaster cartoon (he also did the cover illustration for my edition of Bachelors Anonymous). You...yes, you! can pinch yourself a miniature copy of the original by clicking on the Amazon.com link to the above right and stealthily pocketing The Girl in Blue for your very own. It's got a nice colorful cover on it, doesn't it? Ah yes. But really, in the end, it can't beat the book cover that is seen in the romantic day-dreams of a little stuffed bull:
Keira Knightley: The Girl in Blue


A Wodehouse a Week Index.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Olive, You're a Fine Girl

There's a port on a western bay
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And it serves a hundred ships a day
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Lonely sailors pass the time away
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And talk about their homes
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And there's a girl in this harbor town
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And she works layin' whiskey down
Popeye by E. C. Segar


They say "Brandy, fetch another round"
Popeye by E. C. Segar


She serves them whiskey and wine
Popeye by E. C. Segar


The sailors say "Brandy, you're a fine girl," (You're a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"What a good wife you would be," (Such a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea."
Popeye by E. C. Segar


(Dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Brandy wears a braided chain
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
Popeye by E. C. Segar


A locket that bears the name
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Of the man that Brandy loves
Popeye by E. C. Segar


He came on a summer's day
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Bringin' gifts from far away
Popeye by E. C. Segar


But he made it clear he couldn't stay
Popeye by E. C. Segar


No harbor was his home
Popeye by E. C. Segar


The sailor said " Brandy, you're a fine girl," (You're a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"What a good wife you would be," (Such a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea."
Popeye by E. C. Segar


(Dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
Popeye by E. C. Segar


When he told his sailor stories
Popeye by E. C. Segar


She could feel the ocean foam rise
Popeye by E. C. Segar


She saw its ragin' glory
Popeye by E. C. Segar


But he had always told the truth, lord, he was an honest man
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And Brandy does her best to understand
Popeye by E. C. Segar


(Dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


At night when the bars close down
Popeye by E. C. Segar


Brandy walks through a silent town
Popeye by E. C. Segar


And loves a man who's not around
Popeye by E. C. Segar


She still can hear him say
Popeye by E. C. Segar


She hears him say "Brandy, you're a fine girl," (You're a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"What a good wife you would be," (Such a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea."
Popeye by E. C. Segar


(Dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"Brandy, you're a fine girl," (You're a fine girl)
"What a good wife you would be," (Such a fine girl)
Popeye by E. C. Segar


"But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea."
(Dooda-dit-dooda, dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Popeye by E. C. Segar


Now, crank it up and read it again!:



Popeye by E. C. Segar