Friday, May 17, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
You might be a couple of minutes late to the party, but you haven’t missed any of the action.
One of my favorite things about Frank and His Friend is how open the storylines are. You often get the feeling that you’re just coming in on the middle of the action.
Artist Clarence ‘Otis’ Dooley often drew panels in such a way that the scene or the dialog hinted at what came before, but didn’t provide you with a complete picture. Like a snapshot, rather than a home movie.
Dooley didn’t always explain exactly what Frank and his Friend were up to, because those details just weren’t always important. Why, or how, a kid might have built an enormous pile of rocks was less important than how that task might have made a kid feel: enormously proud. Through these small moments of feeling, Dooley allowed us to fill in our own stories from childhood and remember the joy or exhilaration or even pride from those moments.
And I suppose, it was the feeling rather than the plot that appealed to Dooley most. After all, kids build rock piles for the same reason people climb mountains: because they’re there.
So whether or not you did all the same things as a kid that Frank and his Friend did (I’m...
Friday, May 10, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, buddies George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made a friendly bet.
Star Wars is a billion-dollar franchise. When Disney bought the property last year, it sold for another 4 billion dollars, and with new films planned, it’s safe to say that it will continue to bring in billions more.
Of course, expectations originally weren’t so high. Although filmmakers tried to drum up buzz for the film’s release, the studio was still pretty worried about competition, and decided not to release the film on Memorial Day (pretty much the Super Bowl of movie release dates). Instead, 20th Century Fox opted to release the film the Wednesday before Memorial Day to get a jump on the competition. And just what film were the studios so worried about?...
Are you an official Space Cadet?
For a period in the early 1960s, Spaceman Jax was part of a balanced breakfast for kids everywhere. The show was sponsored by Sunington Morn Breakfast Cereals, and merchandise for Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures hit supermarket shelves even before the first episode hit the airwaves. But whether kids saw him first on TV or a cereal box, Spaceman Jax – the “hero with a heart of gold, and the intellect of a Ploridian Lunar Beast” – won a legion of fans.
These die-struck pins are exact replicas of the original fan club pins released in 1961. And thanks to Curio & Co., you don’t have to collect box tops to get them!
Friday, May 03, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Let comics help you unwind.
When things get a little crazy and stress starts to overwhelm you, it can certainly seem like the last thing you have time for is to stop and smell the roses. But that might just be the time to break out the flowers.
I have a stack of Frank and His Friend anthologies that I keep next to my desk and when work stress threatens to drown my day, I make it a priority to spend six minutes perusing one of the volumes. Why six minutes? It’s long enough to feel the benefits of some deep breaths and peaceful distraction and it’s short enough that making time for it doesn’t further stress me out (anyone can find...
Saturday, Apr 27, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, especially if you’re a cat.
Quiet as a mouse, sly as a fox, busy as a beaver – animals carry a lot of meaning for us humans. So when your comic book is made up solely of anthropomorphized animals, you’re going to be able to cover a lot of ground, story-wise, without having to rely on as much leg work.
Blacksad is a film noir comic book series where all of the characters’ species reflect their personality and part in the story. Set in 1950s America, Blacksad was created by writer Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido – both from Spain – and the books were originally published for the...
This giclée of the 1986 Roger Believe cover of Planned Voyage (Viaggio Organizzato) is part of a unique print edition of Roger Believe comic book covers released in June 2012. The print comes with official Curio & Co authentication...
Be the first to know
what's coming out of our vault
Sign up for our newsletter
Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Despite blasting into adventures among the stars, maybe Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures was really just another show about family.
It’s no surprise that family is so important to Spaceman Jax. He and his niece Dekkin were the only survivors of the blast that destroyed their home planet, Tiberion 3 – so family isn’t just important to Jax, it’s everything.
As he often mentioned on the show, Spaceman Jax was the last child in a family of eight girls, “Enough for a Maxxon Handgrip tem!” With so many older sisters, it’s easy to imagine that little Jax would have been pretty spoiled growing up – doted on by his older sisters and a source of great pride to his father. Today’s pop psychology of birth order, based on the work of Alfred Adler, tells us that the youngest child tends “to have a pretty optimistic view of life and a sense that the world revolves around them.” That sounds a lot like our Spaceman Jax.
Jax is thrust into fatherhood when he becomes Dekkin’s guardian, and he doesn’t do too bad a job of it, all things considered. Sure, his short-sighted “charge in full speed” behavior puts her in mortal peril nearly every single week, but he’s truly devoted to her, and after all, his heart’s in the right place.
In the end, maybe it was the comforting feeling of family between Jax and Dekkin, along with Red, Star Cowboy, RT and Rusty that made us feel so at home in the galaxy. Wherever we traveled through the cosmos, we were always with family.
Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Some films create such a realistic – and hilarious – world that you wish their supporting brands were real.
One of our favorite fake comic strips was created for the 1965 film How to Murder Your Wife, staring Jack Lemmon as a cartoonist playboy who wakes up from a friend’s stag party to find himself married. The comic strip, shown several times in the film, plays an important role in the film’s plot.
The film’s comic strip, Bash Brannigan, features a hero working on cases such as the ‘Skyscraper Gaper Caper’ or the ‘Case of the Fabergé Navel’. Lemmon’s character, Stanley Ford, prides himself on the strip’s realism, and never draws his character doing anything physically impossible or using gadgets that don’t exist. In fact, crucial to the plot is that Ford acts out all the panels himself as Bash Brannigan, with his valet Charles photographing the adventures.
The comic strips in the film highlight Ford’s transition from debonair playboy to bumbling husband, and Bash Brannigan becomes The Brannigans (complete with disastrous dinner parties and household misunderstandings), all the while continuing to draw from Ford’s life. As his frustrations at home boil over, Ford finds some relief in the strip, with Bash Brannigan plotting to kill his wife by drugging her with goofballs and throwing her body into the cement from the “gloppitta-gloppitta machine” of the construction site next door. Whether or not he acts out this plotline for real is something that you’ll just have to find out by watching the film. Needless to say, reading to the strip in the papers makes everyone – especially the police – a little suspicious.
The film is one of our favorites, with the always-funny Jack Lemmon, blonde bombshell Virna Lisi, and Terry-Thomas as the only valet who could give P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves a run for his money. But Eddie Mayehoff as Ford’s lawyer Harold Lampson – tickled pink to see Ford land in the same hen-pecked boat – steals every scene he’s in.
The film always makes me sigh in frustration that more of the art isn’t shown; the art is terrific and a successful balancing act of creating print work for film. The comic strip art in the film was done by Mel Keefer, the artist on Perry Mason, Mac Divot and Rick O’Shay comic strips. In addition, Alex Toth drew a comic strip of the characters as part of a teaser campaign to promote the film. And the comic’s storylines – always with a wink and a nudge – are delightfully over the top. This is a spin-off that absolutely should have been made! In fact, Bash Brannigan would probably be just as popular in today’s Man Men-fueled interest in the 1960s. After all: danger, daring, beautiful girls with microfilm hidden in their navels – What’s not to like?
Of course, the film presents a pretty attractive life for a cartoonist. I hope Stanley Ford’s back-story includes a trust fund or a winning lottery ticket, because – with Ford’s Manhattan townhouse, valet, exclusive club membership and swinging lifestyle – viewers are apt to get a rather skewed view of a cartoonist’s life. At least, none of the cartoonists I’ve ever met would claim to live as well as Stanley Ford does in How to Murder Your Wife!
Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Every story needs a strong villain, but in the case of Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures, it’s the villains’ weakness that makes them so hilarious.
Each episode of Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures saw the intrepid, but dimwitted, hero Spaceman Jax facing a variety of perils – at the hands of menacing mercenaries-for-hire the Zalfonen, wily industrialist Tarloc, or quite often, Jax’s own ineptitude. But our favorite galactic bad guys were the Mantagons, who proved that knowing your own weakness was everything.
The Mantagons hailed from the planet Mantagon, in the Crang Cluster, and the single goal that all Mantagons worked toward was to dominate whatever was worth dominating in the galaxy. Naturally, the idea of what was worth dominating changed quickly (and “why” was never an important question for the Mantagons). Physically, the Mantagons weren’t intimidating: they were pretty skinny and definitely not strong. So their need to dominate probably came from an inferiority complex (especially with the bigger and stronger Zalfonen around). But what they lacked in physical strength they more than made up for in weaponry. They never did realize that the “secret weapon” that Farlo claimed he had was just his ability to manipulate their greed for newer ultra-turbo-zap guns.
Clearly, the Mantagons were the strongest armed fleet in the galaxy, despite their shaky and instable government. In fact, the Mantagons kept their armed fleet and its functions completely independent of their home rule, preferring to “Keep what works, safe from what doesn’t.” The Mantagons even viewed their elections and elected leaders like characters in a soap opera: amusing to watch, but not related to real life. (My favorite running joke on the show was how their presidents changed daily and citizens were sometimes surprised to find that they’d been elected though they never ran for office.)
I guess it figures that on a show where the hero succeeds solely because he has no idea just how inept he is, the Mantagons were a powerful force in the galaxy precisely because they knew just how weak they were. Sometimes knowing your own weaknesses is the greatest strength. (That, and an ultra-turbo-zap gun. They weren’t taking any chances.)
Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013
by Ned Wazowski
Peter Lorre on the concept of time.
Despite what the critics said back in 1953, Beat the Devil is a terrific film. And why shouldn’t it be? You’ve got Humphrey Bogart and the lovely Gina Lollobrigida. You’ve got John Huston directing a story about international crooks stranded in Italy from a script partly written by Truman Capote. Not a bad start.
Sure, the film has its problems. The script was supposedly written day by day as the film was being made, and that shows through in some places. But that’s forgivable, because there are moments in the film that shine like real gems. It’s Peter Lorre as Julius O’Hara who gets the best line in the film:
“Time. What is time? The Swiss manufacture it. The French hoard it. The Italians squander it. The Americans say it is money. The Hindus say it doesn’t exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook.”
In this case, however, Peter Lorre is wrong. Because the film has enjoyed more popularity and greater respect as time has passed. (The film is in the public domain as the result of an unrenewed copyright, so check it out for yourself.) For this film, time hasn’t been a crook at all, but has actually been pretty generous.
Of course, both can be true when it comes to collectibles. On the one hand, time steals life from beloved objects, fading colors and breaking down materials. But on the other hand, time gives us the distance we need to appreciate objects for their design or craftsmanship and see them in a new context.
Still, there’s nothing generous about time when the Monday morning alarm clock rings.
Did you know? Some of Humphrey Bogart’s lines in the film had to be looped during post-production because of Bogart’s injuries from a car accident. A young British actor was hired for the job on the strength of his skills at mimicry. His name? Peter Sellers.