A Wider Chain…

18b A WIDER CHAIN of LIKELY INFLUENCES

GRIMES: “Stuffed toys; tray puzzles; TV cartoon character cereal boxes, prizes and comics. Coloring books, board games, gum cards, playing cards. Gumball machine rings and tiny gewgaws. TV comedies. Photo reels. Paperbacks, paintings, photos and newspaper strip clippings.

Now, taken together, looking like, sounding like an almost constant chaos field of strangeness. The insane greed-flow of the very privileged. But, we weren’t particularly well-off.

This is just the flood of what was around in the early and later sixties and beyond, (perhaps all quaint enough now), for an American kid.

The toy companies got a lot of mileage back then out of cardboard and plastic. If you cut out everything I had then that was made out of paper and plastic, there probably wouldn’t be anything left.

The various ways to ‘be’ a cartoon: flat, moving, human, 3rd dimensional.

Some only reaffirming your emerging course.

Some spurring you to fervid imitation.

Company for your mind…”

PART ONE: “EARLY SIGNS”

Three Stooges colorforms heads only–  stuffed sister’s colorforms Curly Howard head into keyhole.

–  plastic barn animals into metal barn – (‘characters’ in ‘boxes’).

–  sat in floor of waiting room, would turn magazine pages carefully without tearing.

–  ‘drew’ as soon as could hold a pencil. Including coloring in tiny horses in sisters grade school book.

Baby Jane1st horror ‘movie’: age 3 or 4, in a Chattanooga drive-in, trailer for Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. announcer’s lurid cry and Jane’s hallway cackles gooseflesh down my neck.

‘favourite’ accident: Trussville, Alabama, 1962, step short, roll down small staircase like an armadillo all the way to the bottom. okay, but have recurring headaches rest of my life to date, once guessed several thousand by now.

1st ‘comic’:  the Disney movie (did not see then or know of) redo of PINOCCHIO, ‘read’ by zigzag scanning of panel art. hooded ‘Blackshirt’ grabs for Pinocchio and Jiminy as they leap over the parapet into the sea.

Also at this time: Bullwinkle, Supercar (Mitch the Monk), King Leonardo, Capt. Kangaroo. ‘Twinkles’ cereal box with cardboard comic ‘book’ story flap on the back. About the elephant and his jungle friends from TV commercials for the cereal.

CLUTCH CARGO - GREEN EGGS & HAMa  InflFort Worth, Texas, 1963, probable first sketch pad; Beany + Cecil (animated) especially the ‘Three Headed Threep’ [think Meemo in Puzz Fundles]; CLUTCH CARGO and SPACE ANGEL.

visit to Houston, Texas 1963. GREEN EGGS & HAM. jumbo Hanna-Barbera coloring book.

car trip to Franklin, Ky. via Memphis 1964, 2nd comic book, (lost), Big Boy Restaurant giveaway featuring Big Boy in a cannibal pot.

summer in Franklin, ’64 at my grandmother’s house: lots of Three Stooges, (the human ‘cartoon’), many with ‘Chimp’ (Oh…SHEMP…??) instead of Curly. knew somehow they were related.

“Also there: SON of FRANKENSTEIN, House of Frankenstein on TV. “Weekly Reader” kid’s newspaper delivered to my granma’s roadside mailbox, one with cartoon animals on the cover all talking on a ‘party line’ (telephone).

fall, 1964. car trip to Shreveport, night-reading (3rd) comic book, TOP CAT with J. Evil Scientist in a cannibal pot. (again). Top Cat and Benny crayon themselves onto a sleeping giant’s feet to make dragon burn their images instead of them.

Mrs Cool  walruswe move into small half house apartment in ’20s – ’30s neighborhood; a mysterious place with a spiked fence, down-the-block, on the corner.

drawing at this time: copy the heads of SUNDAY funnies characters, Addams Family and local puppets from TV, holiday figures, living food, boats of animals, and (DON MARTIN) fat gal glimpsed in store.

Other influences then: MUNSTERS; MR. POTATO HEAD; nightmares; Walt Kelly’s version of Chicken Little reprinted in library copy of Bennett Cerf humor book; Viewmaster reels; only copy of JACK & JILL magazine with crazed clown on cover and SEALTEST ice cream company (ad) Walrus, six of them on a ‘find the mistakes’ page. One has high heels. ‘Odd Rods’ plastic figures, (could not buy or take home with), tucked about the leather goods by adult son of owner of western shop my father worked in. And must have ‘hillbilly’ stickerbook with giant-headed characters of all sorts with ‘select-a-face’ stickers.

Not Of This Earth (1957)staggering films: on TV, after school (first grade), HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL with Elisha Cook, Jr.’s worrisome lead-in and all the subsequent creepy scares; and [Roger] Corman’s NOT OF THIS EARTH with Paul Birch as an urbanized blood-craving ‘alien’ with wraparound sunglasses and the inconclusive finale. Also stunned by HITCHCOCK (HOUR) episode, “The Magic Shop” – its scrunch-faced policeman doll and ambulance gut pain.

first drugstore comic: [Carl] Barks’ comics & stories with UNCA SCROOGE performing ‘surgery’ on cymbal-clashing monkey noisemaker, and GYRO GEARLOOSE and his light bulb helper building a better robot.

summer 1965 — we move again, a long way I think, but only coupla miles to ’40s neighborhood. first day there, Jack M. shows up, asks my name: “Gick Rimes??” he says. “Rick Grimes!” says I.

We became friends right off. More restless than I, he is always buying & trying out the latest oddball toy crazes or whatever junk he/we can afford to get hold of. Throo Jack ‘exposed’ to the old comic ad standbys – blasting caps, potato gun, ‘snake’ pellets, x ray specs, joy buzzers and rubber monster feet. He buys a “Creeple People” oven, the Aurora (?) “Phantom of the Opera” model kit with its own little rat and the contraption game ‘Mouse Trap’, which I must have, too; (mine becomes a dust-gathering ‘home’ for my troll dolls).

CLIFFORDJack has a Metamorpho comic, and a Rat Fink album, (by Allan Sherman?). We acquire various sizes of Rat Finks for plastic rings from gumball machines. We pool our money to get complete sets of the (Crumb illustrated) Monster Greetings Cards, (Norman Saunders’ painted) Batman cards, Green Hornet cards (with green sticks of bubble gum), and (most emphatically) the Basil Wolverton Ugly Stickers ({also by Wally Wood, and painted by Norman Saunders:  http://www.normansaunders.com/Ugly%2C01.html }) which we strew about my living room floor. (With his okay, to complete my set, I pry #22, ‘Clifford’, off Jack’s stepdown-playroom wallboard and stick it onto a shopping bag).

Super Goof #4first news stand comic – SUPERGOOF #4 (“Sept. ’66”) with (Paul Murry) Goofy in red flannel underwear, who becomes ‘super’ by eating a “super goober” from his weird blue hat. In this issue, ‘Dr. Stigma’ mass-hypnotizes Duckburg into believing world landmarks are missing & stolen for ransom. Huey, Dewey & Louie were scuba diving so had no effect – they run across bridge that is/n’t there.

Also by Paul Murry (he is easy to spot by the long, low stride of, particularly Mickey & Goofy, who seem never exactly to ‘run’ but only to stretch quickly from crisis spot to crisis spot; and for Goofy’s long body and big, long slappity feet. Frequently is also seemingly the only artist back then still using ‘Black Pete’, the big fat stubbly cat character left over from the early Disney animateds):

Phantom Blot #6 (“July 1966”) Mickey with Donald [Duck] track ‘the Blot’s’ soap cell escape. While the Blot, with (Barks’) Beagle Boys waylay Scrooge’s ocean liner, crewed by sailor-hatted apes.

Phantom_blot #7PHANTOM BLOT #7 (“Nov. ’66”): The Blot escapes prison again this time using balloons-in-a-suit and switching places with the janitor. Then flies away from his garage-like ‘headquarters’ in a ball shaped helicopter. The heroes go to F.I.B. spy school while the Blot is trying to cause a border war with ‘Bullivania’.

Besides the Murry artwork, also easy to spot by his use of long panels on a four-rowed page, these comics were also special to me as they had no ads, as GOD intended comics to be, [unless you count the use of the Disney name and ‘his’ characters as an ad]. And, also, they had 1 comic story throo the whole issue; with black & white comics for the inside covers.

When I look back again, at any given time, at Murry’s work I think I’ve probably underestimated the effect it had on me. (Like Seuss). I didn’t keep trying consciously to copy it after moving on to other things. But, at the time, there was/is something very consumable about his style. Whereas, with Barks, who was & is amazing and the creative, unheralded source of nearly all the so-called Disney stable of comic book characters, his line work was so fine and so careful its always seemed beyond my seat-of-the-pants abilities. Murry’s close-to-the-ground style, red flanneled, slappy-footed Goofy and his convoluted ‘mystery’ serials seemed more possible for me.

tried doing crayon versions (six on a notebook paper page) of ‘every’ character in my Gold Key comics, (‘Disney’ and Little Monsters), interest usually flagging after a few pages.

 –

2 26 68 M pnl 4 'Cover' 21A4Begin to truly catch on to DICK TRACY’s crazy appeal when glimpse a just murdered ‘Piggy Butcher’ in darkened near-silhouette in a Sunday strip. (Never saw the dailies, then). Clip and save, starting with the still ongoing appearances of the remaining ‘Chin Chillar’, a woman with a goatee who hides a charm bracelet pistol in her mouth that Tracy shakes out of her; and later stories such as her brother Purdy Fallar’s (1968) sequence — he slashes throats with his angle-pared fingernails, the ‘clue’ they find: a grapefruit with parallel slash marks… Purdy’s ‘practice’ grapefruit. From there it got weird.

As they used to say at the ‘end’ of some comics– TO BE CONTINUED…— Rick Grimes (April 16, 2009).

<Influences opening                                                                     “Lookit This…!!”>

{The long postponed Part II of ‘Wider Chain…’ will appear below sooner than later}–rg 4/25/015

Let me know your impressions... !

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s