Recommended - Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics & The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells

Do you use the “Saved -To Buy Later” feature on Amazon. com? Purchases I can’t quite justify or about which I’m somewhat conflicted wind up on this ever-expanding list, usually never to be resurrected.

Eventually, though, low price – $6.99 – liberated The Infinite Worlds Of H.G. Wells DVD (a three night mini-series that aired on The Hallmark Channel in 1991) from my STBL list. This was fortuitous; it’s great entertainment. A clever premise links the story lines from 6 different Wells short stories (The Crystal Egg, The New Accelerator, The Remarkable Case of Davidson’s Eyes, The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper, The Truth About Pyecraft, and The Stolen Bacillus) and weaves them together into 240 minutes of terrific, engaging, intelligent, high production value television, reminiscent at times of The Avengers, at times of Dr. Who, at times Masterpiece Theater.

Another recent purchase:

The Toon Treasury of Classic Childrens Comics is a full-color, 352 page oversize volume that presents a terrific selection of some of the best comic book stories from the 1940’s through the 1960’s by Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge), Sheldon Mayer (Sugar and Spike), John Stanley (Little Lulu), Walt Kelly (Pogo) and George Carlson (Jingle Jangle Comics), among others.

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‘Zines: Don’t Miss A Single Issue! Subscribe Today

I’m a subscriber.

I’m talking about a character trait, not some specific individual subscription.

I subscribe to stuff. Always have; always will.

The more arcane, the more idiosyncratic, the more opinionated and obscure the publication; the more narrow the audience, the more impenetrable the jargon; the more sporadic the publication, the stronger the smell of ink on the page and enthusiasm in the words, the more likely you are to find my name on the subscription roll.

Take the recent issue of Classic Images, seen above right, which contains features on the careers of Jack Carson and Myoshi Umeki, two of the more mainline Hollywood personalities the tabloid-sized newspaper has covered recently. Before it was Classic Images, this was the Classic Film Collector, and before that it was a humble publication entitled The 8mm Collector, published by a furniture dealer named Sam Rubin who collected 8mm films back in the pre-home video era. Sam was mad for a couple of silent movies in particular: The Lost World (1925) and Metropolis (1927). He wrote about these and other silent films he remembered seeing as a kid with such infectious enthusiasm that a generation of kids who knew nothing of these films became desperate to see them. Happily, some of Sam’s favorite films had not only survived, but had fallen into public domain and thus had become available in 8mm prints for rental or purchase. In the late fifties and early sixties, lots of kids developed an interest in silent film that was nurtured by Sam’s knowledge and enthusiasm.

Today’s equivalent of the old 8mm Collector is The DVD Laser Disc Newsletter, a monthly that contains comprehensive reviews of newly released DVDs that evaluate not only program content but also video and sound quality and the quality and value of extra features and commentary tracks. Once upon a time this was The Laser Disc Newsletter; Doug Pratt started writing his informative reviews before DVD arrived.

Parenthetically, you would not have believed the fear that the coming of DVD’s inspired in people who owned laser disc players [My God! Movies are compressed on DVD's; they're going to be horribly inferior to our beloved LD's; it's TEOTWAWKI!]. Six months later, there was no such thing as a laser disc loyalist; DVD’s were that much better. I wish I still had my giveaway tote bag emblazoned with the slogan “Laser Discs – Here today, Here for the future!”

Back to the point: Doug Pratt has been writing about films on disc since the beginning of time, so when he reviews a new release, he will compare it to all previous releases for framing, color, sound, print quality, et cetera. Rare is the month that I don’t wind up buying at least one DVD reviewed in the latest issue, based on a Doug Pratt recommendation. Sample page. 47.50 per 12-issue year: DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter, PO Box 420, East Rockaway, NY11518.

Film Fan Monthly was Leonard Maltin’s first self-published magazine, a relic of the home movie era, as attested to by the little “8mm” and “16mm” logos in between “Film” and “Fan,” and “Fan” and “Monthly.” It seems strange today, but before Leonard took on the task, there were hardly any comprehensive filmographies, and hardly any print attention paid to the Hal Roach Studio, which Leonard championed, as can be seen in this edition from 1966, the ‘zine’s first year of publication under the Maltin imprimatur. Included was a complete filmography for the lovely Thelma Todd. A few back issues of FFM may still be available. And while FFM disappeared long ago, ceasing publication in 1975, Leonard has remained true to his roots and currently publishes the excellent Movie Crazy. I’m a subscriber. There’s also a book out that collects some of Leonard’s best articles from previous issues.

Behold the November 1987 issue of Crown Jewels of the Wire, which continues to be published to this day. It’s designed for people who collect insulators from the tops of old telephone and electric poles. Here, the lure was the jargon: people purchased or traded threadless purple eggs, unembossed Chesters and Pettingells, Amber Petticoats, and the English U1542 made by Bullers, a rare red glass insulator. I never purchased an insulator, but I was a subscriber. It is a magazine from another world.

If you find that publication a little too mainstream for your taste, may I recommend The Aerial Eye? You know, the quarterly publication of the aerial photography committee of the American Kitefliers Association?

Wow, what a great idea… send up a huge kite with a camera cradle attached to it. Of course, “Very few great photographs will be taken at a kite field – an open area is not all that photogenic. The ability to get a kite up and then maneuver it into interesting places is key to making good photographs. The inaugural issue seen here included complete plans for “Peter’s Flying Rubbermaid,” which used shoe laces to hold the camera in place. I kid you not, as Jack Paar used to say.

Alas, I can find no trace of this specific publication today, but the AKA does publish Kiting, which I assume has lots of tips and techniques about writing and cashing bad checks. No, I never tried hooking up a camera to a kite. But I was a subscriber.

If you didn’t know, I’m sorry to be the one who has to break it to you: Murder Can Be Fun is dead. “For more than 20 years, …Murder Can Be Fun …dedicated itself to the unpleasant, unhealthy, yet oddly gratifying task of reveling in the more sordid and violent side of life.” Here’s the good news: there’s a blog that carries on the traditions of the print version of MCBF, and from that site you can purchase the legendary “Death At Disneyland” issue for two bucks, postpaid. But, hey, maybe you’re not interested in the time The Carousel of Progress turned evil, or the story behind the guy who drowned in the Rivers Of America.

If that’s the case, may I recommend The Audio Carpaetorium, “the newz-letter for people hoove had-it with carpeted audio salons?” Well, no, of course I can’t. I only saw two issues, and that was nearly thirty years ago. Great article about the Blattnerphone, a tape recorder the BBC was using in 1933. But never mind. It’s gone, and that’s that. I was a subscriber.

Well, all the screwy old magazines are all gone, aren’t they? I mean, Internet publishing surely appeals to these same minds and offers a nearly trouble-free alternative to the old hectographs, dittos, mimeos, and the purple perfumed print spirit duplicators… right?

Uh, no.

If that were true, how could you explain The Duplex Planet, which still arrives in my mailbox with reliable regularity. The premise: simplicity itself – interviews conducted by David Greenberger with residents of nursing facilities: sometimes insightful, sometimes funny, and sometimes printing answers to perfectly normal questions that seem to come from some other universe. Go to the web site and head for the hardware store to get an idea of what you’ll find in this incredibly original magazine.

I could go on. The Hollywood Eclectern is published as a labor of love by Ed Buchman for fans of John Stanley and Irving Tripp’s Little Lulu comics (our numbers are legion – check out the wonderful series of Dark Knight Little Lulu paperback reprints to find out why). Ed Buchman, P.O. Box 4215, Fullerton CA 92834.

The Vitaphone News is a fascinating publication about the late 20’s -early 30’s Vitaphone films. The Vitaphone Project is worth your support; they’ve reunited original soundtrack discs with picture elements and restored dozens of early short subjects, many of which capture famous orchestras and vaudeville acts recreated their stage presentations for the Vitaphone Camera. Info can be found at The Vitaphone Project.

And perhaps my favorite – I’ve mentioned it here before – is The Mystery and Adventure Review, which is devoted to series books (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew et al) as well as printing, typography, and whatever happens to be on the editor’s mind. Fred Woodworth is a very interesting guy and the magazine itself is a joy to behold – no computer equipment is used in its fabrication, the color is gorgeous, and… you can’t subscribe to it. If you express sincere interest, Fred will add you to the list, you’ll get the next issue, and, if you’re inclined, you can send Fred some cash or stamps to show your gratitude. No checks are accepted, because Fred became fed up with banks long before the rest of us did. Fred Woodworth, The M&A Review, PO Box 3012, Tucson AZ 85702.

So, yes, I get Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Wired and Fortean Times – professional ’slicks,’ and they serve their purpose – but they simply can’t compete with the small ‘zines. And the way the news has been headed recently… what better magazine to curl up with than an issue of Crown Jewels Of The Wire, where the discussion of amber petticoats, E. C. & M. Co. bubbly blues and mint light green castles will insulate you from the shocks that await in the mass media?

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Little Lulu Story Re-used in Horror Comic

John Stanley is best known as the author of the Little Lulu comics, but he also worked on other titles, among them Dell’s rather mild “horror” comics. Here’s an interesting bit of self-plagiarism: Stanley takes the premise of a Little Lulu fantasy from 1953 and turns it into a story fit for Tales From The Tomb in 1962. This is a 7.6 MB .pdf document – the first two pages are my commentary on the re-use, and the following 18 pages present both stories in full.

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