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Beginnings & Endings

Good morning. First, Kim Deitch’s amazing memoir-through-music continues today. If you skipped last week’s because the name Dorsey scared you, you’re missing out on something majorly entertaining, and enlightening. This time, he talks about his father (Gene Deitch), Alan Lomax, Jelly Roll Morton, and cowboy records.

My father’s interest in art had been long standing. He’d been a huge fan of Mickey Mouse growing up. By the time he was a teenager, he was putting out an amazing magazine called The Hollywood Star News. When I say amazing, I’m not kidding. It was produced on a hand cranked mimeograph machine. What’s that? Well, before photocopiers people could make cheap copies by typing onto wax sheets. Then you’d put the typed sheet onto a rotary mechanism filled with ink. Turn the barrel one revolution as you feed a piece of paper under it and you’d have a copy, in ink, of what was on the typed wax sheet. Keep turning as you feed more paper under the barrel and you’d get more copies. You could do at least quite a few hundred copies this way. You could also draw on the stencils and have crude illustrations, or not so crude in my father’s case. My old man, genius that he is, came up with a way to do four-color illustrations with good registration in The Hollywood Star News.

Elsewhere:

Eddie Campbell has republished an introductory essay he wrote about Batman and the Lew Sayre Schwartz on his blog, and added another afterthought here. (He of course wrote another tribute to Schwartz for this site earlier this week.)

Rob Clough has reposted his 2008 review of Bill Mauldin’s Willie & Joe: The WWII Years. It’s worth reading in conjunction with his recent piece on this site about that book’s sequel.

Tom Spurgeon reports on Bud Plant’s announced retirement. Above and beyond the many hours I am sure lots of readers of this site have spent browsing through his catalogs, Plant has had a major impact on the evolution of the comics business. Spurgeon talks about some of those reasons at his post. Also, I believe—and hope to be corrected if I am wrong—that by ordering large numbers of this magazine in its early days, Plant gave the Journal some important assistance when it was much needed.

I’ve been waiting for Charles Hatfield to weigh in on Chester Brown’s Paying for It. And now he finally has. A must-read even if you’ve had your fill of prostitution talk.

Finally, occasional comics writer Paul Di Filippo has tracked down what he believes may be the very first review of a science fiction book in the New York Times, from 1943. It is fascinating for how closely the reviewer ties the genre to comic books (the best stories are “a good deal more than True Comics for adults”, and the worst are “gibberish” which “may deserve a place in a volume like this as signs of an age that produced Superman”).


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