January 15, 2003 · 12:30 AM PST ·
THE LADY in the above pictures is Mary Tyler Moore, as seen
during her pre-Petrie days, modeling for record album covers. In the
sixties, there was a store up on Hollywood Boulevard that sold "cut-out" albums, meaning that some distributor was stuck with a warehouse full of
some record that nobody wanted. At this shop, they'd unload them at the price of three for a dollar. They had thousands of copies of some
of them. I remember a whole display window filled with The Greatest Hits of Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and I used to wonder what Gary
would think if he wandered through Hollywood and spotted his "greatest hits" readily available at that price. Anyway, the store had a zillion
copies of these Mary Tyler Moore records. No one recognized Ms. Moore so no one bought them...but collectors now pay hefty prices for them.
If you're a fan of Mary Tyler Moore, you're probably a fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show. And if you're a fan of The Dick
Van Dyke Show, check in here tomorrow for an exciting announcement.
THE OTHER DAY here, Robert Spina wrote me a letter dated 1/1/70 to tell me that the release of my new
book (on 12/31/69) had taken his mind off the break-up of The Beatles. I just received this...
2 January 1970
Apple has informed us that the Beatles are still together. However, I've gotten wind that on April 10, 1970 Paul McCartney may
have something important to announce regarding their fate. Rumor has it he will release his first solo album. Please advise Mr. Spina of his
mislead emotional distress.
Happy New Year,
You're right. The Beatles breaking up? Not likely. There's more chance of Jack Kirby getting an insulting contract
from Marvel Comics next week, walking out on the company and going to work for DC drawing Jimmy Olsen.
THE 1995 GROO TRADING CARDS are avidly collected by...well, by the kind of folks who'd collect Groo trading cards, I
guess. If you're missing a few of them, we have a free service called The Great Groo Trading Card
Exchange which may enable you to complete your collection. If you haven't got a collection going but would like one, bids for a set have
gone as high as $100 on eBay and you've been at the mercy of that marketplace. Until now.
I have recently come into possession of a number of complete sets of the Groo cards and am making arrangements with someone who will be
selling them for me — and for a lot less than a hundred smackers a set. What's more, they'll be autographed by Sergio Aragonés and
myself. Such a deal! We should have info on how to order these available here in a few days. Start saving up.
January 14, 2003 · 1:00 AM PST ·
BRAVO is starting a new season of The It Factor, a 13-week "reality" series I enjoyed last year when it followed a group
of aspiring New York actors around on auditions. The new outing, which does the same thing but in Los Angeles, is just starting. (It's
already started, actually; the first two have aired but Bravo will run them several more times this week.) This review in the L.A. Weekly is about as negative as any review ever written, but I
still intend to see for myself. Also, Penn & Teller: Bullshit! has finally turned up on my TiVo listings, where it's charmingly
redubbed Penn & Teller: Bulls...! By any name, the first one airs 1/24.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! debuts two days later, on January 26 with a one-time-only Sunday episode following the Super Bowl. ABC
has set up a page for it on their website where they proudly
proclaim it's "the first live nightly talk show in over 40 years!" And I suppose that's true if we forget about the show Joan Rivers did for
Fox. Which is not a bad idea.
SPEAKING OF Governor George Ryan of Illinois: As you probably know, he recently commuted the sentences of 157 men and women who
had been sentenced to die for capital crimes. Whatever you think of this, you might want to read the speech he gave to explain why he did it.
THE MOVIE of Chicago went through many screenplays by many writers before it hit the screen. One of those who
tackled it was the brilliant Larry Gelbart. Here,
Broadway commentator Ken Mandelbaum discusses how Gelbart's approach differed from what is now playing.
I'VE RECEIVED a half-dozen e-mails from folks who claim they've seen (or even purchased) Mad Art in stores. They're obviously lying since Amazon
is still saying it won't be out 'til December 31, 1969. And do you think I've milked this for about all it's worth? Yeah, me too.
January 13, 2003 · 12:00 PM PST ·
IF IT comes down to a choice between George W. Bush and Joe Lieberman, I'm staying home.
THE SPLENDID comic book illustrator Colleen Doran gives tips on how to make a home office work for you. Where can you read
this? Well, right here, of course.
I AM INFORMED that a second printing of Mad Art has just been scheduled. Not bad for a book that
won't be out until 1969.
January 13, 2003 · 12:00 AM PST ·
SPINSANITY is one of the most refreshing political websites. Its operators analyze news stories and political speeches and
point out distortions of fact and bogus emotionally-weighted arguments. And what's refreshing is that they'll do this with both liberal and
conservative diatribes. Plenty of sites will skewer the opposition and claim objectivity but few really mean it. Spinsanity does, as evidenced by its current debunkings of Michael Moore's documentary, as well as the Bush tax cut
proposal. Check 'em out.
January 12, 2003 · 7:30 PM PST ·
IN CASE you haven't heard, the great wartime and political cartoonist, Bill Mauldin, is ailing, and really appreciates cards and
letters. Here's a link to an article that will
tell you how he is and where to write.
KEVIN PHILLIPS writes the best article I've seen yet
about the current White House tax proposal and why it's a colossal mistake.
January 12, 2003 · 2:00 PM PST ·
SPEAKING OF AMAZON, as I seem to be doing often lately, one of the sillier spectator sports on the Internet involves their pages
selling political books, specifically the "Reader Reviews" sections. Reader Reviews are often interesting and helpful when those folks are
reporting on electronics products they purchased, and occasionally on non-political books. But when the product or its author is the least bit
controversial, the "reviews" are about as honest as those e-mails we all receive about Guaranteed Penis Enlargement. (Uh, I'm not the only one
who gets those e-mails, am I?)
It's clear that 90+% of the reviewers haven't read the book. They're lying. They see some author on Crossfire or
The O'Reilly Factor or wherever and hate him and all that he stands for. Needing some way to express that hatred and thinking they'll do
the despised one some small amount of damage, they rush to Amazon, pretend they purchased his book and announce that they found it poorly-written,
filled with lies and errors, and perhaps even printed with inks which, when inhaled, cause untreatable diseases. Up until a few months ago, you
sometimes saw these "I read this and hated it" reviews on books that wouldn't be out for a few months, but Amazon seems to have modified their
software so reviews can't be posted of a book until it's actually been released. (Of course, they have trouble figuring out when a book's
actually been released, but that's another story...)
The attackers sometimes pretend to be what they're not, claiming to be on the political side of the work they're lambasting, insisting
that they found it a waste of money, despite this. Once in a while, trying to seem non-hysterical, they'll give it a 2-star rating (next to
lowest) instead of 1 star. But they never cite one example that makes you think they ever cracked a copy. Nor do their opponents, who
post raves of books they also haven't seen, hoping to endorse those authors' viewpoints or counter the detractors. (Not too much with the
political books but many of the positive "Reader Reviews" on Amazon appear to be the work of the author posting anonymously, or of the author's
Amazon also lets you rate the reviews, asking you to vote, "Did you find this review helpful?" Since almost none of the reviews,
pro or con, are the least bit helpful, this referendum allows those who don't have time to post phony reviews to have a say. If you hate the
author and/or his/her thesis, you vote that you found the negative reviews "helpful," and vice-versa. And of course, this is also done by
people who didn't read the book and, if they're negative, probably won't.
If you want to see some examples of this, look at the Reader Reviews for Eric Alterman, Paul Begala, Ann Coulter, William J. Bennett,
Michael Moore, or just about anyone who turns up on the political talk shows. I'm sure a few of those comments are legit, but most of them
strike me as utterly bogus. And they aren't even clever about it.
I'M GETTING reports that folks who've called Feinstein's in New York to make reservations for the big Stan Freberg show are
being told it has been cancelled due to "prior commitments." You now know as much about this as I do. I'll let you know if I hear
otherwise, but maybe you shouldn't book that chartered flight just yet.
January 12, 2003 · 10:00 AM PST ·
I JUST RECEIVED an e-mail from Robert Spina. It's dated January 1, 1970 and it reads as follows:
Just a note to let you know your new book came out yesterday. It was a great read and actually took my mind off the Beatles
This is getting scary. My book, Mad Art, contains an overview of everyone who has drawn for
Mad in fifty years. If it's really coming out in '69 though, I should go back and cut out everyone who's worked for them in the last 32
years. That would be everyone from Angelo Torres on. (The first time I visited the Mad offices was 1970, by the way, and Mr.
Torres was there, handing in his first assignment for the magazine.)
By the way: The book is out and, for those of you scoring at home...
- Barnes and Noble now says the book came out this month but that they're out of stock
and won't have more for 1-2 weeks.
AlphaCraze has it "currently on backorder," which means 2-4 weeks.
- Amazon.ca (their
Canadian outlet) says, "Usually ships in 3 to 5 weeks."
- Booksamillion merely says,
"Sorry: This title is not currently available."
Chapters says it came out in November of 2002 but is "Temporarily unavailable to order."
- Amazon.uk (their
British wing) says, "Usually dispatched within 4 to 6 weeks. Please note that titles occasionally go out of print or publishers run out of
- And Powell's Books never even heard of the damn thing. Good for them.
In the meantime, we've jumped up another 1000+ places at Amazon in the U.S. and Mad Art is presently #54031. But Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life (the book you
can order) has dropped to #92275. If only I could get them to list it as unavailable, I could maybe have two best-sellers...
January 12, 2003 · 1:30 AM PST ·
RARELY HAVING TIME to cook, I love pre-packaged, instant, so-simple-a-chowderhead-could-do-it products. Mostly, it's a
matter of scheduling. When I decide it's time to eat, I don't want to start cooking then; I want the food done and ready to devour. This
is why I like Express Bake PotatOH!s. These are pre-scrubbed taters that come sealed in plastic. You just stick them in your microwave
for 7-8 minutes. By the time you set the table and wash your mitts, the thing is edible. But that's not the main thing I like about
them. I like one line in the teeny instruction manual that comes with each one. It says — and this is a direct quote —
"PotatOH! may whistle in microwave."
Wouldn't that be wonderful? Wouldn't you love to have your potato whistle a happy little tune while it's baking? Maybe a
chorus of, "I Only Have Eyes For You." So far, none of the ones I've microwaved have whistled for me but I'm going to keep cooking them until
January 11, 2003 · 11:30 AM PST ·
SHOOTING UP THE CHARTS. Mad Art has jumped another 12,000 places at Amazon —
this, during a 24 hour period where it's been listed as not coming out until 1969. It's currently at #55,256.
But with my luck, it won't last. Any day now, they'll list it as Available. Then watch my sales plummet.
January 11, 2003 · 9:45 AM PST ·
FOR SOME TIME, Warner Brothers has had the following unofficial policy regarding the casting of voices for the classic
characters they own. To the extent possible, they try to hire the originator of the voice. When that person becomes unavailable —
usually, because they've died — the role is up for grabs, and various crannies of Time-Warner have cast various folks for various
projects. At least eight different actors have spoken for Bugs Bunny since Mel Blanc passed away, and
it has not been uncommon for one guy to be doing that Wascally Wabbit for a TV cartoon while someone else is doing him for a commercial and someone
else is doing him for a videogame. To make matters more complicated, some of those actors have more than one interpretation of the same
voice. One of the many performers who plays Daffy Duck has had to develop four different approaches — one based on the early, screwy
Daffy; one based on the greedy Daffy of the "Duck Season/Rabbit Season" era; one more like what Mel did in the sixties, and one that more or less
splits these differences to create an amalgam. "When I work for one division, they want Version A," he explains. "Another division
insists that Version B is the way The Duck ought to sound, and so on."
Sources inside WB tell me that this practice is ending; that they're in the process of zeroing in on a "one character, one voice" actor
policy. Until they get it perfected, the classic WB and Hanna-Barbera characters will continue to be played by a wider list of actors than has
At least three men have provided the sounds of Scooby Doo since his original voice, Don
Messick, died in 1997. The recent theatrical feature had the pooch done by an Australian actor named Neil Fanning, about whom I know
nothing. The current TV series has a Scooby voiced by Frank Welker, who has also been the voice of Fred since the first Scooby Doo show
in 1969. Most of the mutt's other appearances have come to us through the vocal cords of a Louisiana-based disc jockey, Scott Innes.
Scott is an amazing talent and, as I say in the foreword to his autobiography, he does an uncanny facsimile of Mr. Messick's
mutterings. He has also occasionally done the voice of Shaggy when its originator, Casey Kasem, couldn't or wouldn't. (The story is that
Mr. Kasem, a firm vegetarian, declined to venture near Shaggy during the time the character was appearing in commercials for Burger King. Casey
is back on the new series.) Scott also did the voice of Scrappy Doo in the Scooby Doo feature, deftly bridging the gap between Scrappy's
two voices (by Lennie Weinrib and then Messick). Most of the time, being in another state would disqualify a voice actor from working for the
Hollywood studios, but Innes is that good.
Anyway, this is a plug for that autobiography. It's a slim, easy-to-read volume,
profusely illustrated, that will answer many of the basic questions
about what it's like to be a voice actor (and a disc jockey). At the moment, it's available only at www.scottinnes.com, but that's okay because if you buy it there, Scott will autograph your copy. And while
you're there, browse around, look at the pictures, even listen to some clips from his radio show. I like Scott, if for no other reason than
that he restores my faith in America. It's a great country where any young man can grow up to be a Great Dane...
TAKE A LOOK at this article in today's
New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof. It's called "The Secret War on Condoms" and here's the premise: Our government is increasingly
taking the position that condoms are not foolproof and therefore should not be used. This somewhat ties in with the Joe Bob Briggs article to which I linked a few days ago. What is it with people
who think you can legislate the horniness right out of other people...or at least get them to pretend they're celibate? (Years ago, we had a
right-wing state senator in California who used to insist celibacy was easy — after all, he noted, priests practice it. Somehow, I don't
think that example would work these days...) Also relevant may be this article in today's Los Angeles Times, which describes
an epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases — including The Big A — in the adult film industry.
KENNETH PLUME is a terrific interviewer and a fine, perceptive media critic, as you well know if you frequent IGN FilmForce. I appreciate his enthusiastic recommendation of Mad Art (on this page) but I don't know why he's pushing a book that won't be out until the end of
IN THE MEANTIME, reader Tim Madigan writes to tell me, "I have indeed ordered your book but I'm now worried that when it arrives
I'll only be 7 years old and unable to understand it." The way I write, Tim, that's never a concern.
January 10, 2003 · 11:30 AM PST ·
DAVID FELDMAN points out to me that dozens of other books at Amazon are currently listed as, "This title will be released on
December 31, 1969." This pisses me off. Not only are they copying my marketing strategy but, when 12/31/69 rolls around and all our books
come out at the same time...
Mr. Feldman, by the way, is the author of the wonderful "Imponderables" series of books. In each, he asks questions that probably
never occurred to you but which cause you to say, "Hey, why is that?" And then — even better — he answers them for you. You
can find out more about this over at his site, which I don't have to tell you but I will is
www.imponderables.com. (Hey, Dave — how come I keep hearing that people who need to reach me on real business couldn't locate my
e-mail address...but hundreds of nephews of wealthy Nigerian refugees have no trouble finding it?)
January 10, 2003 · 10:00 AM PST ·
THE DAILY HOWLER is one of my favorite websites. Not quite every day, Bob Somerby points out some particular ineptness or
dishonesty in the news. Today's is a particularly bold, funny
January 10, 2003 · 9:15 AM PST ·
ENLARGE THIS PICTURE
BETTER HURRY! Amazon has changed the listing for my new book, Mad Art, from "Not yet published" to "This title will be
released on December 31, 1969. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives."
Apparently, the news that you have a negative 12,416 days to wait has had a good impact on sales. In the past 24 hours, I've
vaulted into 67,739th place in their sales ranking, bounding past another 8,000 books. (In the meantime, Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life has dropped from
#89,480 to #95,533, again proving that the more available an Evanier book seems to be, the worse it does.)
In the meantime, Barnes and Noble says Mad Art came out in October
of last year. This worries me. Even though they claim it's out of stock, the mere suggestion that it may actually have been published is
likely to scare off buyers.
January 10, 2003 · 1:30 AM PST ·
FOR SOME REASON, among websites devoted to classic comedians, some of the best and most industrious ones seem to be those
devoted to The Three Stooges. I was thinking this as I was fiddling around with
www.stoogeworld.com, which is still a work-in-progress but has much to recommend it. I've often felt that we like most timeless clowns
because of their films and — assuming we like the Stooges — we like the Stooges almost in spite of their films. As I grow older, I
am more aware of the craft and care that went into the making of the works of Laurel and Hardy, Keaton, the Brothers Marx, etc.
And I am more aware of how all-fired cheap most of the Stooges' shorts were, especially the later ones which relied on reused
footage. A lot of them were, literally, a case of filming just enough footage so that the producers could edit it into an old short and pass
the result off as new. This way, they saved enough funds to occasionally do something wholly original...but not very. You can also save
money on writing by recycling old material.
Back when I watched them on Channel 11 in the early sixties, the prints were bad and the films were often hacked into near-incoherence
so that two could be fit in a half-hour, along with the host's segments, plus endless commercials for Maggio-brand carrots, Bosco chocolate syrup and
Mr. Bubble bubble bath — a tasty combination, by the way. A couple times, without (I assume) realizing it, Channel 11 ran a
double-feature of two Stooges shorts, one of which was a close remake of the other. It was like sitting through the same film twice but with a
change of Third Stooge.
I guess I just kind of assumed that the cheapness of the proceedings and the endless repetitions and the bad, splice-filled prints were
not the Stooges' fault. My assumption was that Stan and Ollie were actors playing dumb but that Moe, Larry and Curly [or Shemp or Joe Besser]
really were a band of knuckleheads. As such, it was almost like, "Well, the Stooges weren't smart enough to have been responsible." So
even when their films were crummy, we liked them — enough to keep their names and fame alive today, even on the Internet. How ironic that
the lowest-I.Q. comics of them all should be so well represented on a computer network.
January 9, 2003 · 5:15 PM PST ·
BACK IN 1984, an unemployed air conditioning repairman and ice cream truck driver named Michael Larson went on the CBS daytime
game show, Press Your Luck. By studying and figuring out the patterns of the show's game board, he managed to clean them out of a
whopping $110,237. The competition ran so long, it had to be broken up and aired over two days (the only time that happened on that program)
and yielded one of the most memorable occurrences in game show history.
Host Peter Tomarken (pictured above) was as astonished as anyone.
CBS was disgusted and/or embarrassed over the incident. They downplayed the whole extravaganza and declined to rerun it.
Game Show Network has been reairing old Press Your Lucks but, though a friend over there assured me they would soon air Mr. Larson's moment of
triumph, they've been skipping over those shows. Finally though, you'll get to see them March 16 when GSN debuts a two-hour documentary on the
incident, which will include both episodes along with interviews with folks involved in the show. Here's a link to an article with more
WE HAVE occasionally plugged chanteuse extraordinaire Shelly Goldstein, who's been singing at the finer clubs in Los
Angeles. Next week, as Playbill reports here, she takes
London by storm.
DANIEL FRANK (aka Captain Spaulding) sends this link to an
article that strives to explain the mysterious sales rankings over at
Amazon-dot-com. And I was right: I still don't understand it.
January 9, 2003 · 10:30 AM PST ·
I DON'T UNDERSTAND this at all...and don't bother trying to explain it to me because I probably won't understand your
explanation. Less than two weeks ago, my book — Comic Books and Other Necessities of Life — was
#1,242,840 in the sales ranking at Amazon, and they had two copies left. At this moment, the book is #89,480. That's a hell of a
jump. I leapfrogged ahead of more than a million other books. How many copies can they have sold in that time?
I can look up how many were purchased by folks who went there via the links on this site, and it tells me that, since 12/28/02, they
sold a grand total of three copies that way. I kinda doubt there was a huge run on it by people who didn't go there via my links...but who
In the meantime, they still say Mad Art is not yet published and it's at #75,119. This
means I'm doing better with the book that's not out yet than I am with the one you can actually buy. I wonder how well a book by me would sell
if we promised to never publish it. Stephen King, watch your ass.
January 9, 2003 · 1:00 AM PST ·
AS MENTIONED here, Stan Freberg and his lovely spouse Hunter will be presenting "An
Evening With Stan Freberg" from January 28 through February 1 at Feinstein's at the Regency, a rather swank Manhattan nitery. Last night and
the night before, Stan and Hunter "road-tested" the show with invitational performances up at the Magic Castle. Animation expert Jerry Beck
went to Tuesday night's show and his report is posted here. As you
can see, he says it ran two and a half hours and left the audience wanting more. I went Wednesday evening and took in the "cut down" version
which was closer to 90 minutes. So we really left wanting more.
Stan sings — in surprisingly good voice — and tells wonderful anecdotes about his days as a cartoon voice actor and on
Time for Beany. He recreates several of his hit comedy records, in some cases playing all the roles, including those originally done by
Peter Leeds, Daws Butler and even June Foray. He shows TV commercials he produced and tells wonderful stories about their invention. If
you're anywhere near New York and can make it, you'll have a wonderful time, spending an hour or two with a brilliant man. The number to call
for reservations at Feinstein's is (212) 339-4095, and I guess I should warn you that the place is small and the prices are not. But,
hey. It's Stan Freberg.
I HAVE IT on reliable authority that my new book, Mad Art, is in stock at Amazon.Com, even if their website still says
it's "not yet published." That will change in a day or so, I am told. You can order this splendid volume — a look at all the major
artists who've contributed to a half-century of Mad Magazine — by clicking on these underlined words. If you're thinking of ordering Ann
Coulter's new book instead, remember: Mine has a lot more pictures and is almost as funny.
January 8, 2003 · 11:00 AM PST ·
THINK YOU HAVE IT TOUGH? Check out this
article in The New York Times (part one of three) on employees at a foundry in Texas, and what they must endure: Barbaric working
conditions, killer hours and, of course, the occasional death or amputation. You'd like to believe this kind of thing doesn't exist any longer
in this country, so it's pretty jarring to learn that it does.
January 8, 2003 · 12:30 AM PST ·
YOUR OBEDIENT WEBMASTER (i.e., me) will be a guest this coming Sunday, January 12 on The Denton Randall Show,
which broadcasts on WHAS radio in Louisville, KY. I'm supposed to be on shortly after it starts at 1 PM EST, talking about Mad Art, my
new book on the artists of Mad Magazine. The show doesn't seem to be available online, so you all have about five days to crate up all
your belongings and move to Louisville.
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