Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Author David McCullough 1933 - 2022


Not my photo. A 2012 Associated Press photo of author David McCullough from the Academy of Achievement


David McCullough died yesterday at the age of 89.

Very sad news. Like so many, I read a number of his books.

I met him briefly on the Brooklyn Bridge. It was the late 1990s or so. He was with a small group of people and he caught my eye. Is that David McCullough? I was wondering. He must have seen me looking at him. He walked up to me and, smiling, asked if I would take a photo with the group. He handed me a camera and I took a picture of him and his entourage. He thanked me as I handed the camera back and I said something like, “Oh, sure” and smiled back. I regret I didn’t whack up the nerve to tell him I was a fan.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Special Effects by the Lydecker Brothers

There is an interest and maybe a bit of a longing for practical movie effects. Since most effects in movies and TV today are the result of moving pixels around, it's fascinating to watch older productions and see miniatures and matte paintings and other "practical" or in-camera effects. These effects utilize one-of-a-kind models and special lighting. Here's a reel of some of the many effects that the Lydecker brothers (Howard and Theodore Lydecker, always known—and billed—as such, were Howard "Babe" Lydecker (June 8, 1911 – September 26, 1969) and Theodore Lydecker (November 7, 1908 – May 25, 1990).) Their father, Howard C. Lydecker, pioneered special effects, working for Douglas Fairbanks. The brothers began working in the 1930s -- first on the Republic serials and then for other clients and TV shows. 

From Chris Enss:

Howard and Theodore worked together on conceptualizing the small scale sets. Theodore would then draft the plans for the building and oversee the construction. Howard’s job was to film the miniature models of towns, spaceships, buildings, trains, automobiles, stagecoaches, and whatever else a script might call for. In a short time, the Lydeckers earned the reputation as the kings of special effects. The approach they took when preparing for a sequence was simple: build large, photograph the subject matter from every possible angle, and always use natural light.

In addition to using detailed models and filming sequences with the miniatures against real location backdrops, Howard Lydecker shot the scenes in slow motion. He realized that during such shoots, film ran through the camera at a higher speed than normal (determined by the scale of the models) and when projected at normal speed, the slow-motion effect gave the end product the right appearance of mass and size. Utilizing all the techniques the Lydecker brothers developed and subsequently perfected, the visual effects on the movies Republic Pictures produced were superior to that of any other studio.



More at The Pulp Reader.

Friday, August 05, 2022

Saturday, August 6, 2022: Charles M. Schulz Museum "Cartoon-A-Thon"


From the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA:

In the 'Peanuts' creator's centenary year, the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa celebrates its '20th Anniversary with some of today’s top cartoonists! Come meet your favorite cartoonists while exploring all things cartooning with drawing games, live presentations, book signings, and more.' Guests include Raina Telgemeier, Reza Farazmand, Nathan Pyle and Brian Fies. Here's the day's schedule for tomorrow, Saturday, 10am-5pm, and guest-list: https://schulzmuseum.org/cartoon-a-thon/

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Video Preview: “The Art of the Real Tom Sawyer” by Leif Peng


Today's Inspiration Press publishes its new hardcover "The Art of the Real Tom Sawyer" this week. The book is a showcase for this midcentury illustrator and is written by Sawyer and Leif Peng, with Ana-Marina Vlahovic. More at DownTheTubes.

Leif has an amazing preview here:


Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Paul Coker, Jr. 1929 - 2022


Mad Magazine contributor, Rankin-Bass animation studio designer and advertising illustrator Paul Coker, Jr. passed away on July 23, 2022. He died in his home after a brief illness.

Via MSN:

Coker was born and raised in Kansas in 1929. He went to and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in drawing and painting, and then got a job as a greeting cards designer for Hallmark. In 1961, he began illustrating for the magazine Mad, and he went on to illustrate over 375 articles while there. He also did freelance work for other publications, including Esquire, Look, Good Housekeeping, and Playboy. Coker's work with Rankin/Bass began with an uncredited involvement in The Wacky World of Mother Goose in 1967. He then contributed as either a character designer or production designer to films like Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost, Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town, eventually ending with Santa, Baby! in 2001. His final onscreen work was done for the pilot of the 2002 series Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones?.


Via DailyCartoonist:

Coker started off as an designer of greeting cards for Hallmark in the 1950s and 1960s, often in collaboration with writer Phil Hahn. He worked for Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Pageant, Look, McCall’s and became an editorial cartoonist for the New York Enquirer in 1957. Coker also contributed to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, where he created both erotic cartoons as well as parodies of other comics.

 More about Coker's greeting card career here


He joined Mad Magazine's "Usual Gang of Idiots" in 1961 and was best known for the "Horrifying Cliches" series, written by collaborator Phil Hahn. This is where I saw his instantly distinctive clean yet jerky coffee-nerves pen line.

Paul Coker, Jr.'s art for a 1967 Travelodge magazine ad.


Paul Coker Draws 89 YEARS IN A SAND TRAP by Fred Beck
Part 2: Paul Coker Draws 89 YEARS IN A SAND TRAP by Fred Beck




Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Batman and Judge Dredd Comic Book Writer Alan Grant 1949 - 2022


British comic book writer Alan Grant has died at the age of 73. No cause of death named, but he had been ill for some time. 

From The Evening Standard:

Alan Grant was born in Bristol in 1949 and grew up in Scotland. As a comic book writer, he worked on some of the biggest titles, like Batman and Judge Dredd.

But he was also known for nurturing new talent and is credited with discovering writer Alan Moore when he found his script in an unsolicited submissions pile at 2000 AD.

His writing was influenced by his early experiences. At school, his teachers would beat him for being left-handed, and he was regularly expelled, but as a statement from 2000 AD said, “the injustice of his treatment [gave] him a powerful distaste for authority which saturated his writing.”

He had a “mischievous and wicked sense of humour that was at times scatological and at others soulful,” says 2000 AD’s obituary.

He began working as a trainee journalist at the age of 18, at a Dundee-based publisher and home to the Beano. Grant then moved to London in 1970 to work as a writer and sub-editor, but after writing a strip for the short-lived comic book Starlord, he was offered an editorial position at 2000 AD.

In 1980, he left his job and was left unemployed when another job fell through. But comic book writer John Wagner asked Grant to help him with his work, and the pair became a powerhouse, under the pseudonym T.B. Grover.

2000 AD’s obituary says that “their partnership redefined Judge Dredd, their black humour and wild imaginations forging what many consider to be the strip’s first great ‘golden age.’”

Grant’s writing always maintained a political edge and was always a “fierce and strongly independent thinker.”

He later worked on DC Comics’ Detective Comics and Batman and continued to work for 2000 AD through the 1990s.

Grant continued to write into his last years, despite being ill, and worked on a Judge Anderson story in 2018 and a war story in the Battle Special in 2020.

He and his wife Sue organised a comics festival in their village of Moniaive in Dumfriesshire for years.

Alan Grant died on July 20, 2022.

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on 'Star Trek,' Has Died at 89

Nichelle Nichols, best known as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek, passed away over the weekend. She was 89.


Her son wrote:

"Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration."


There are tributes and remembrances all over. I will post this short clip from STAR TREK III: The Search For Spock (1984) which showcases her memorably. 

Monday, August 01, 2022

The Garden As of August 1, 2022

A few pics of the garden today. It's been a dry summer, that started out cool and is now getting hotter. The zinnias love it, the runner beans are coming along slowly. Not enough blooms for me.

The tomatoes are crazy. They are overflowing their cages. This one I intentionally bent down to help cradle a stray stem.

The peppers, in the foreground, were completely denuded by a hungry deer.

But, as you see, they have come back.

Squash vine borers have decimated the squash here. 

OK, time for pretty flower pictures:

And this will be dinner ....