More questions than answers

November 29, 2010

I’ve been reading the new book by Padgett Powell entitled “The Interrogative Mood”. You’ve probably heard about it. It’s the one where every single sentence in the book is a question. Although it’s an interesting concept the American-centric aspect of many of the questions (whatever happened to Howdy Doody, Tab, soda fountains, S&H stamps etc) began to irritate.

It does however make you stop and think about life, the universe and everything with questions we probably don’t stop and ask ourselves often enough like:-

“Do you subscibe to the notion that people who knew what they were doing began to die off about 1945 and are now on the brink of extinction? Do you prefer diarrhoea to constipation? Do you know the distinction between moss and lichen? Is it your impression that people who worked in animation in the 1930s did more drugs than people who work in it today? Are you engaged in a fight against clutter? Does honey come out the front end or the back end of a bee? Have you ever lost a shoe and thrown away the second shoe and then found the first shoe? What would you think an Uzi machine gun might cost? When was the last time you saw an ostrich? Would it be feasible to go to India and not be heard of again?” etc etc etc for over 100 pages !!

Of course, there is another school of thought that says it doesn’t do to question things. If we analysed our lives and the universe too closely we might come to the conclusion that most of our waking hours are spent in ultimately pointless endeavours. If I knew which part of a bee honey came from or could prove that the “authorities” don’t have any more clue about what is going on than anyone else would my life be any better? Even writing this blog whilst humming a Jimmy Cliff tune from 1972 is futile but I do like to keep myself amused in my tea break…..

The more I read this book, the more I began to formulate my own questions which the author had missed.

“Do you update your Facebook page at the same time as checking your phone for texts and watching TV? Where do you go to my lovely when you’re alone in your bed? Where have all the flowers gone? What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding? Will the last word ever spoken be “why”?” etc

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More small print

November 25, 2010

Looking through the December 2010 issue (Number 584) of Fantastic Four it was nice to see the return of Galactus. It was nice to see Steve Epting’s more realistic artwork (although he draws the FF to resemble the characters who appeared in the films). It was nice to see Ben and Johnny have a meal with Stan and Jack !

I’m not too sure about the new potion that allows Ben to become human for one week per year…..although it does improve his love life with Alicia ! Nor why the Yancy Street Gang have now become failed ex-Wall Street Traders/muggers. I’m not sure why they need HERBIE the robot from the 1970s animated cartoon to now be in the comics. But it was nice to see the small print saying they currently sell 48000 copies per month. This time last year they were claiming only 15000 issues per month. Although the circulation figures for comics are nothing like they were perhaps the “floppies” will still be around for a few more years.

Taschen

November 18, 2010

When a truck pulled up outside and two guys began manhandling a large crate I wondered what was coming. Had I ordered a new Washing Machine/Motorbike and then forgotten all about it ?? Actually it was this book that I’d pre-ordered back in August and had indeed forgotten all about. In fact if the book had been many weeks later they would have had to change the title to “76 years”.

Taschen are to books as Rolls Royce are to cars. This is most definitely a “Coffee Table” book. It’s huge. In fact if you stuck a leg on each corner of this book it would actually BE a coffee table !!

This book contains thousands of illustrations on its massive pages and supposedly hundreds of never-seen-before photos many of which I am sure have already appeared in TwoMorrows publications like this photo of the real Diana Prince. What, you thought she was just a comic book character ?

PS: Actually I exaggerated slightly about the size of the parcel. But I am indeed awaiting a humungous book delivery. I have ordered a set of Encylopedia Britannica 2010 on behalf of an elderly neighbour who doesn’t believe in computers. He thought this may be the final year when something like that would still be available. 32 leather-bound volumes when he could have had the information on one disc !! I can’t wait to see the size of the jiffy bag that lot are delivered in….

Next Door’s Dog

November 14, 2010

Nothing new

November 9, 2010

Music magazines like “Uncut” and “Mojo” still put a “free” music CD on the cover each month. I wonder how much more/how little time will have to elapse before that becomes seen as a quaint thing to have done ? Before CDs were available the pop newspapers “Melody Maker” and “New Musical Express” sometimes gave away cassettes or those flimsy flexidiscs. (And of course Flexipop magazine was huge in the 1980s). Just to prove nothing is new, it seems the concept was tried in the early 1960s with “free” singles with (quite expensive for the time) issues of the short-lived “Give-a-Disc” magazine.

Although I can’t say I’m familiar with “Give-a-Disc” magazine I am familiar with the name Albert Hand. He was a neighbour (and contemporary) of my mothers. He was also a massive Elvis fan running the UK branch of the Elvis fan club and producing “Elvis Monthly” throughout the 1960s from his printing works cum record shop in Derbyshire. He also found time to edit “Teenbeat Annual” amongst others. Alas Albert died in 1972 at the relatively young age of 45.

Albert also produced various other publications. Many were exclusively related to Elvis (who he met) and are probably quite collectable now. He was also responsible for a number of magazines related to pop music in general with titles like “Pop Ten” monthly magazine which was launched in 1962 and swiftly turned into “Pop Weekly” magazine which although it ran from August 1962 until at least 1966 is now almost completely forgotten. (I don’t even have many copies myself. I saw them in the local newsagents but my money was then reserved for Fantastic Four comics….) The similar mid 1960s pop monthly “Teenbeat” came from this same source. It may have been a cottage industry but they were certainly busy. Although these magazines were printed on glossy paper they were usually a small 7″ x 10″ or that digest size of 5″ x 7″ like his “Elvis Monthly” magazine. Magazines specialising in The Monkees and The Beatles would shortly appear from other companies in a similar format.

Oh how we take the Internet for granted as a source of information. In 1962 you had to write in to Albert to find out info regarding which records were still available !! (No doubt you received a reply offering to supply you with the single you were seeking !)

Better known are the “Pop Weekly Annual” and “Pop Ten Teenbeat Annual” edited by Albert Hand. Available in the usual hardback format and published by World Distributors through most of the 1960s they are familiar to many people who were teenagers in that decade. (Incidentally this “Teenbeat” was prior to and bears no relation to the “Teen Beat” magazine published in the USA from 1976 onwards).

The most interesting thing about last week’s relaunch of “The Dandy” was that it DIDN’T have a free gift sellotaped to the front. Once upon a time a free gift was only found in the first three issues of new titles, or used sparingly in existing comics for special events or to boost flagging sales. Now the bottom shelves are full of plastic bags containing so many toys and novelties that the comics also included seem like the free gifts.

In November 1965 the free gift of a Guy Fawkes mask in “Buster” must have tempted me. I’ve preserved one of these cardboard masks somewhere pushed inside one of the many Annuals that still reside in my “library”. Of course, I couldn’t find it today so I hope the people at http://www.bustercomic.co.uk don’t mind me borrowing their picture. I’ve no idea if Guy Fawkes actually looked anything like that. I think I may have mentioned before (and perhaps I’m stating the obvious and it is common knowledge ??) that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this image wasn’t the inspiration for the early 1980s Lloyd/Moore “V for Vendetta” strip.

What I did find was this similar idea of a very odd cardboard Batman mask from around 1966. I don’t know if this came free in a comic or was just sold as-is. Actually, it is so odd that if it didn’t actually SAY Batman on the forehead no one would know what it was meant to be !!