December 3, 2002 · 9:45 AM PST ·
ABOUT ONCE A WEEK, someone writes in to ask why I don't have an article in my Cartoon
Voices section about the late, great Paul Frees. It's because, as I keep mentioning here, I don't feel I have enough info on the gent to
serve up an appropriate one. There are a couple of books and major articles supposedly in the works, and we'll have to wait for them. In
the meantime, there's some Internet-based research and conversation going on, like this discussion about how Mr. Frees redubbed the "female" voice that Tony Curtis used in Billy
Wilder's film of Some Like It Hot. (What? You didn't know he'd done that? Oh, Paul Frees did a lot of stuff like
HERE'S A link to an article in
The New York Times about the Garry Trudeau interview. Just in case you're interested.
I'M STILL CONSIDERING (but open to more) suggestions about what should be at www.comicbookwriter.com. A number of you didn't seem to grasp the concept that I'm looking for something
that will not require work on my part. But some of you have volunteered to run a site there, and that's good. I'll focus on all your
messages in the next few days, just as soon as I get off Ohio time.
December 2, 2002 · 11:30 PM PST ·
AND HERE WE ARE, back home again on the left coast. Can I mention one last time what a terrific gathering the Mid-Ohio Con
is? My thanks for the invite to its operator, Roger Price, who really knows how to do things right.
There's unpacking to do, e-mail to catch up on, and I'm still operating on Ohio time. So I'll just confirm that the Garry Trudeau
interview is Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and Wednesday night/Thursday morning on Up Close. Nighty-night.
December 1, 2002 · 11:15 PM EST ·
THE GENT ON the right is my longtime partner, Sergio Aragonés. The man on the left is Al Feldstein, whose many
achievements in the world of comic art were noted here yesterday. In fairness, I should mention Mr. Feldstein's one moment of utter shame: In
1962, when Sergio wandered up to the Mad offices, he was an out-of-work, needy cartoonist, newly arrived in this country and, so far, unable
to make much of a buck selling his pantomime cartoons. When he left the Mad offices, he was one of The Usual Gang of Idiots, about to
begin a streak of appearing in every issue, and becoming one of the world's most honored drawers of silly pictures. (Well, to be accurate, he
missed one issue of Mad since then due to a bad case of flu — but only one. Even with one miss, it's still an amazing
record.) Feldstein and his associates decided that day in '62 that the man with the mustache had something special to offer the world of
humor. And Sergio's been fooling them ever since.
The photo was taken a few hours ago, during the closing moments of Mid-Ohio Con here in Columbus, Ohio. As they say, a wonderful
time was had by all. I enjoyed spending time with, among others, Jeff Smith, Dick Ayers, Tony Isabella, Dick Giordano, Paul Ryan, Steve Lieber,
Dan Mishkin, Tom Mandrake, Bob Ingersoll, Roger Stern, Thom Zahler, Paul Storrie, Don Simpson, Alan Burnett, and I'm probably leaving out Someone
Really Important. So please forgive me, Someone Really Important.
Oh, I know: Len Wein and Marv Wolfman were here and they specifically asked to be mentioned on this website. Okay, guys.
Anyway, at the risk of repeating what I said yesterday, this is a great con. If you can make it next year, do so. I'm
certainly going to try to make it.
December 1, 2002 · 12:00 AM EST ·
FIRE ALARMS ASIDE, everyone is having a wonderful time here at Roger Price's annual Mid-Ohio Con in snow-flocked Columbus,
Ohio. Matter of fact, the snow began falling just as a fire alarm forced the brief evacuation of the hall. It was, so far, the only
complaint about the con and some thought it was fun, seeing all those dealers in their shirt-sleeves, waiting outside for the All Clear.
I'm having a great time seeing friends, moderating panels, and autographing comics that I'd rather forget. This is, as usual, one
of the best-run conventions in the nation...and I've been to enough at the other end of the spectrum to know the difference.
Today, I interviewed Alan Burnett (producer-writer of many Warner Brothers cartoon shows, including Batman: The Animated Series)
and, following Alan, Al Feldstein. The latter Al was the editor and writer — and occasionally, an artist — on the great EC horror,
crime and science-fiction comics. Later, he edited Mad Magazine for 29 years but we were so busy talking about EC, we never got around
to that. He is now retired and doing amazing paintings, many of which we viewed in a slide show he presented. You can get a nice sampling
over at his website, www.alfeldstein.com.
The convention today was mobbed. Tomorrow, they're expecting a bit less of a turn-out so maybe I'll make it all the way through
the dealer's room.
CORRECTION: The line about Steve Marmel in the previous item was in Fortune, not Forbes, as I wrote when I
originally typed it. As you'll note, I've corrected it. Also, Andy Ihnatko points out to me that the piece in that magazine wasn't so
much a review of Steve as an assertion that "edgier" comics like Marmel and Bill Maher were having trouble getting booked on mainstream TV since
9/11. That's a little different, but it's still wrong.
November 29, 2002 · 1:30 AM PST ·
CONGRATS TO my buddy, stand-up comic Steve Marmel, who did an impressive set on Jay Leno's program last night. I
especially loved the fact that he quoted a recent review he received in Fortune, the magazine that apparently doesn't know any more comedy
than it does about the business world. Its critic, Mark Gunther, wrote, "Don't look for Marmel on The Tonight Show anytime soon."
That was in the May, 2002 issue. Steve made it before the year was out and he scored big. Visit his website at www.marmel.com.
FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS in 1972, newsfolks were enraptured on the topic of a forthcoming book from McGraw-Hill: The Autobiography
of Howard Hughes. The elusive billionaire had long been so maniacal about his privacy that he hadn't been seen or heard in public for
decades, and had forfeited at least $100 million because of lawsuits that he could have won, had he just walked into a courtroom and appeared before
a judge. So had Hughes really forsaken his passion for secrecy and dictated his autobiography?
No, said his business representatives, none of whom had even met their employer in person. Yes, said McGraw-Hill, explaining that
one of their authors, Clifford Irving, had developed a friendship with Hughes, persuaded him to tell all, and conducted a hundred hours of in-person
interviews. For a time, the weight of the argument was on the publisher's side: Hughes was so unpredictable that he might not have told his
people. McGraw-Hill had a manuscript that had convinced all who'd read it, plus they had handwritten correspondence from Hughes. Two of
the nation's leading handwriting analysis firms had verified the authenticity of the documents. One cited the odds on the letters not being
Hughes as "a million to one."
But the book turned out to be a sham and publication was canceled. Irving and his researcher, Richard Suskind, had cobbled
together a bogus autobiography via diligent research, a lot of imagination, and the luck to stumble across the then-unpublished memoirs of a former
Hughes associate, Noah Dietrich. The handwriting seemed less explainable but it just turned out that the experts weren't so expert.
Irving had concocted the questioned documents, despite being an amateur to the art of forgery. (It may interest someone who reads this site, by
the way, to know that Irving was the son of a cartoonist. His father, Jay Irving, did the long-running newspaper strip, Pottsy.)
One of the many factors that exposed the hoax was that Howard Hughes actually broke his long silence. He still would not appear
in public but he agreed to a telephonic interview with several newsmen. You can click here and hear an MP3
file of about a minute of Hughes denying the existence of an autobiography.
What's interesting about the clip today is not just that it's a rare chance to hear the voice of the colorful Mr. Hughes. It's
that since he died, it's been revealed that he was out-of-sight all those years because he had gone steadily out-of-mind. He was now spending
his life in a hotel room with the windows covered, usually lying naked on a Barcalounger, covering everything he touched with Kleenex in order to
ward off imagined germs. For purposes like the interview, he was capable of occasionally donning what reporter James Phelan called, "a mask of
sanity," and being coherent on the phone. Other times, he lived in near-darkness, allowing his nails and beard to grow to absurd lengths as he
fiddled with insignificant paperwork and watched his favorite movies (especially Ice Station Zebra) over and over. So if you listen to
the audio clip, that's what you're hearing: A billionaire who was completely out of touch with reality pretending to be sane in order to denounce a
fraud. Who says there's no honesty in the world anymore?
November 28, 2002 · 11:00 AM PST ·
HERE'S WHY you should always comparison-shop on the Internet. My new book, Mad Art, is not yet published. I'm told that, as of
yesterday, the final proofs have been okayed and it's perhaps two weeks from coming off the presses. Right now, you can pre-order it from Amazon.Com for $17.47...
this online dealer is currently offering a used copy (!) for $42.39. I guess that's because it's so rare.
November 28, 2002 · 11:00 AM PST ·
MY FRIEND Will Ryan asked that I start doing these again. So, just to remind all: The "Recommended Reading" section
recommends articles that express viewpoints I think are worth a look. This is not to suggest some of these folks might not be at least
partially full of manure.
November 28, 2002 · 2:00 AM PST ·
THIS IS JUST TO CONFUSE US: The New York Daily News is reporting — and
several other news sources have picked up — the following:
ABC's Ted Koppel has made getting private personalities to open up on "Up Close" look easy. His latest conquest comes next
week when he gets notoriously shy "Doonesbury" cartoonist Garry Trudeau to speak in a two-part interview airing on "Up Close," Dec. 3-4 at 12:05
a.m. In a candid chat, Trudeau — husband of NBC's "Dateline" anchor Jane Pauley — discusses such topics as last year's terrorist
attacks and his portrayal of President Bush as an empty cowboy hat.
Meanwhile, the Yahoo online TV listing (tv.yahoo.com) says that the first part of the
Up Close interview of Mr. Trudeau airs Wednesday morning, December 4 with part two following 24 hours later — in other words, the thing
runs Dec. 4-5 instead of 3-4.
What we seem to have here is the old TV Guide convention of treating shows that air within a few hours of Midnight as being part
of the preceding day. The Leno and Letterman shows tonight start at 11:35 PM. The O'Brien and Kilborn shows that start an hour later are
actually tomorrow morning and if you set your VCR or TiVo to record Conan or Craig, you have to program tomorrow's date. But in TV Guide
and similar listings, those shows are part of today's listings. Tomorrow starts around 4:00 AM.
This corruption of the clock probably made sense years ago, when everyone watched TV shows only when they were broadcast, and when most
stations went off the air in the wee small hours of the morning. To most viewers, 1 AM felt like part of the preceding day so why not list it
as such? But most TV channels are now 24/7 and a lot of us are setting recorders that insist on treating a Tuesday morning show as if it airs
on Tuesday morning. Maybe it's time for all the listings to recognize this.
November 28, 2002 · 1:00 AM PST ·
HERE'S YOUR THANKSGIVING PRESENT: A link to a website where you can listen to (or better still, download) MP3 versions of
several great kids' records, including several of the classic Bozo the Clown albums. These well-produced records starred the legendary Vance
"Pinto" Colvig as the storytelling clown and and are quite delightful. On another page over there, you can download things like "Gerald McBoing
Boing" and "Little Black Sambo," and all for free. Here's the link. Happy Turkey
AL GORE didn't fare as well on Leno last night as he did with Letterman two weeks ago. The segment was rushed and Jay was
more argumentative than Dave. (I know little of Letterman's political views but Leno is not as liberal as the Limbaugh crowd often assumes from
his comments on Mr. Bush. A friend of mine who knows him well says Jay is slightly right of center but ready to slam anyone if he thinks he has
a good joke about it.)
I'm skeptical that Mr. Gore can rehabilitate his image with some voters in time to be a contender for 2004. If we are to believe
a recent CBS News/Times poll, he has a 43% disapproval rating and only a 19% approval. This I suppose means that everyone who didn't
vote for him still doesn't like him and that they've been joined by a lot who did but were disappointed by his handling of the recount situation and
his subsequent disappearance. A lot can change before the primaries but don't you get the idea that the former Vice-President is the
front-runner only because the Democrats don't seem to have anyone else?
FOLKS KEEP WRITING to ask when we're going to actually set up a site over at www.sergioaragones.com. Answer: One of these days, but certainly not until next year. I did, however,
update the "coming soon" page.
Others are asking which weblog software I'm using to maintain this page. Answer: None. I fiddled with Blogger, Movable Type
and a few others and decided that it was easier to just learn HTML and do it manually. The programs I tried actually took more time than just
updating a page and uploading it via FTP. (If anyone out there wants to learn this stuff, the book I found the most useful was HTML 4 for the World Wide Web by Elizabeth
November 27, 2002 · 4:00 PM PST ·
SOME TIME AGO, when I was searching for a name to call this thing you're currently browsing, I happened to notice that no one
had registered www.comicbookwriter.com. Seemed like a great name so I
grabbed it. I didn't want to call this site that but I thought, "I'll figure out something that ought to be set up at that address."
Well, I haven't. It's been sitting empty...and it's still empty, so don't bother going there and looking. There's just a
"coming soon" sign up. I am now looking for someone who can put that great web address to good use.
I am not looking for suggestions on what someone else should set up there. Last time I mentioned this, a lot of folks
wrote to say it should be a site devoted to creator rights or to the craft of writing comic books or to how novices can break into the
business. Those are all peachy ideas, but I don't have time to design and maintain such a site, and no one else seemed interested in doing
so. I am also not looking to make money off this. I will let someone else take it over for the cost of future licensing payments
if they'll do something there that seems beneficial to the field. Heck, if the concept is good enough, I'll pay those fees. I just want
to see the address put to constructive use.
So does anyone reading this have a good, selfless idea for it? If so, my e-mailbox
November 27, 2002 · 10:00 AM PST ·
PHIL SILVERS was a very funny man with a grand and glorious career. It included a classic Hollywood movie musical entitled
Cover Girl, which Turner Classic Movies is running in the wee small hours of the morning on Thursday, December 5. If you set your TiVo
for it (or if you're up), you might want to read about his memories of making that film, as presented in an interview we've posted in NOTES from me. When I get the chance, I'll try to post more from the chat I had with the man.
I LOST a lot of respect for Ralph Nader when, during his presidential bid, he insisted that an Al Gore presidency would be
indistinguishable from a George W. Bush presidency, even on issues of the environment. Does Nader still think that? Does anyone?
George Burns was always doing things to make Jack Benny laugh. It drove Benny nuts that he was unable to reciprocate.
One day, Benny was staying at a hotel in New York and Burns came by to see him. Burns phoned from the lobby and said he was on
his way up.
This was Benny's opportunity. He took off all his clothes, put one of his wife's hats on his head, stuck a bouquet of flowers
between his butt cheeks and stood on a chair, posing on one foot like a statue. He was certain the sight would move his friend of hysterical
Moments later, there was a knock on the door. "Come in," Jack yelled.
Whereupon George, sensing something was up, sent one of the hotel's maids in first.
GARRY TRUDEAU, creator of the comic strip Doonesbury gives about one televised interview in each century. This
century's takes place next week on Up Close With Ted Koppel — a two-part interview airing over two nights. Which two
nights? That's hard to say. For some reason, though the shows they do are taped in advance and are rarely topical, the Up Close
people seem to only publicize guests at the last minute. This may help explain why almost no one is watching. Our best guess at the
moment is that the first part will be the episode that airs late Tuesday night but is actually Wednesday morning.
is available at any comic book shop with a lick of sense. This scintillating collection of Evanier's POV columns features amusing
pictures by Sergio Aragonés and bizarre articles about the history of comics and the world of comic book fandom. If your store is
senseless, you can order a copy over at the website for TwoMorrows Publishing or
from Amazon.Com. You'll be glad you
did...or, at the very least, I will be.
Click here to read the previous NEWS FROM ME