Friday, April 29, 2016

FFM: Fritz Leiber, Jody Scott, James Sallis; Gary Jennings, Josephine Saxton, Samuel Delany, Judith Merril and Gahan Wilson; Ramsey Campbell, Robert Lowndes and Seabury Quinn: blue covers for some winter/spring fantasy magazines: FANTASTIC, February 1969, edited by Barry N. Malzberg; THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION, February 1969, edited by Edward L. Ferman; STARTLING MYSTERY STORIES, Summer 1969, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes

Three magazine issues, with blue covers. Why care about these first 1969 issues (even the January issue of F&SF would've been on the stands for Xmas '68) from these titles? Some impressive writers whose names you might be able to, and definitely cannot, make out on these covers: 

Fantastic: Among the contributors of new fiction, Fritz Leiber, of course, but also James Sallis, Jody Scott, Pg Wyal (his first story), Robert Hoskins and others. 

F&SF: Josephine Saxton, but also Gary Jennings (before the best-sellers such as Aztec), Samuel Delany (at this point the film columnist, even as the books are handled by Judith Merril and a set of Gahan Wilson's occasional horror/dark fantasy reviews, along with Wilson's cartoon and Asimov's pop-science essay), a recent translation of Yevgeny Zamyatin and another reprint, from (eventually) mostly tv-writer/producer Larry Brody.

SMS: The magazine which "discovered" Stephen King and F. Paul Wilson features in this issue original work by Ramsey Campbell, along with debut stories by the not so prolific Donna Gould Welk and Ken Porter, interspersed with reprints.

There were more fantasy-fiction magazines publishing in the US than usual in 1969, not least because Sol Cohen, who'd left the Galaxy Magazine Group to buy Fantastic and Amazing from Ziff-Davis in 1965, and with the magazines he'd bought the unlimited serial (magazine) reprint rights to all the stories Ziff-Davis had purchased as a default for their magazine fiction since the late well as the legacy copyrights from earlier publishers of Amazing...Cohen was at the height of his issuing reprint magazines filled with fiction he didn't legally need to pay any royalties for, and a few of those titles he slanted toward fantasy fiction. Strange Fantasy was the first and the best of these (bettered only by a much later one-shot Sword and Sorcery Annual), and took over the volume and issue numbering for two years from Science Fiction Classics beginning in '69. Robert A. W. Lowndes added Weird Terror Tales to his growing line of no-budget, mostly-reprint magazines in '69 (Bizarre Fantasy Tales would begin its brief run in 1970); Arthur Landis got his new digest Coven 13 onto some newsstands, and while Joseph Payne Brennan produced no issue of his boutique project Macabre in '69 (and Lester del Rey's fully professional Worlds of Fantasy offered one issue each in 1968 and 1970 but none in '69), there was a second issue of W. Paul Ganley's Weirdbook among the little or semipro magazines, even if no others offering as impressive a set of contributors of fiction. But aside from Lowndes's Magazine of Horror, the elder sibling to the more psychic-detective- and borderline horror/suspense-oriented SMS, whose March 1969 issue I don't have to hand (it does contain a new R. A. Lafferty story, however) and which doesn't even have a blue cover (the nerve), the three most visible US fantasy-fiction magazines in early '69 were the three I discuss below. 

Barry Malzberg was never too happy during his short term as editor of the Cohen/Ultimate Publications versions of Fantastic and Amazing, though he had managed to get his last issue of Fantastic, this February issue, about half full of original fiction (and the balance an odd mix of relatively random 1950s reprints, including one story each from Clifford Simak, Kendell Crossen and the house
the second issue
name "Lawrence Chandler," who could've been in this case nearly anyone in a small stable of regular contributors, including founding editor Howard Browne). In fact, the precipitating argument that ended Barry's employment was over whether cover artist William Baker would be paid for his cover image, a not-extraordinarily good nor bad pastel that Cohen apparently hated (and not notably worse, I'd suggest, than the other minor work on the other covers). With the inclusion of Robert Silverberg's essay (though Silverberg had been a columnist for Amazing as edited by Cele Goldsmith Lalli at Ziff-Davis), and fiction by such Malzberg favorites as Jody Scott and Robert Hoskins, Barry was clearly already starting to make his mark on the magazine, even if he wouldn't have much chance to do much more; Ted White would be installed as the new editor with the next issue, and Barry's inventory was probably exhausted with Ted's first issues of the two magazines. Poet Margo Skinner, Leiber's good friend after the death of his wife, wrote two of the reviews without credit in the table of contents, but a byline on the text. Barry's headnotes and "coming next month" are full of praise for the contributors, aside from the diffidence he employs in introducing his own work.

Edward Ferman and his family business (his father, Joseph Ferman, would still be publishing the magazine for the next few years) were readying themselves for the release of the revival of Venture Science Fiction, which would begin with an issue cover-dated May 1969. (Another, shorter-lived project, a magazine about proto-New Age matters, Inner Space, would soon follow.) However unkind fate might be to their other publications, F&SF continued to steadily appear on a monthly basis, and while it didn't have the kind of financial support Analog (as a publication of Conde Nast) had, it faced less instability than any of the other magazines in the fantastic-fiction field; the monetary inflation of the Nixon era, very much including that faced by publishers specifically in terms of paper and postage among other expenses, helped doom both the other titles, however.  This is a solid issue of the magazine, featuring a lead novella by the somewhat underrated James Schmitz, who nonetheless had allowed his fiction to fall into a bit of a rut by this point in his career, and featuring such F&SF frequent or at least repeat contributors as Gary Jennings, who published a string of short stories with the magazine in the 1960s and '70s well before becoming a bestselling novelist and for a while after; that only his series of Crispin Mobey stories from the magazine have
been collected (and they published under a pseudonym in book form) is an odd sort of oversight, even if they might not appeal so readily to his novels' larger audience, and Vance Aandahl, Josephine Saxton, Doris Pitkin Buck (with a rather slight bit of verse, not one of the stronger poems she'd publish with the magazine), and Patrick Meadows (who like Schmitz came to F&SF from Analog, but Meadows only published a single story in John Campbell's magazine before placing a handful with Ferman over a short period). F&SF, like Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine on which it was modeled, was never afraid to include interesting reprints, and this issue includes two from rather different sources: television writer Larry Brody provides a fantasticated spy story, reprinted from 1967 first issue of the comics fanzine Gosh! Wow! (both the story and the fanzine won Alley Awards for that year, then the comics equivalent of a Hugo Award)(Ferman notes a weakness for this kind of thing, and the previous Xmas issue had featured Harlan Ellison's send-up "Santa Claus vs. S.P.I.D.E.R."; Delany's review column is devoted to the film of Barbarella), and the enormously influential Soviet dissident writer Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1920 story "The Cave" is offered in a 1968 translation by consistent 1960s translator Mirra Ginsburg, with an introduction by Sam Moskowitz.  It's notable that both Fritz Leiber, in the 
Maybe the best # of this Ultimate
title, thanks to the Bloch reprint.
Fantastic, and Judith Merril have engaging takes on Clifford Simak's science-fantasy novel The Goblin Reservation in these issues; Samuel Delany's film column for the magazine was sadly short-lived, and their first since Charles Beaumont had conducted one in the late 1950s (with "William Morrison"/Joseph Samachson contributing a more occasional column on stage drama alongside Beaumont's); radio dramatist and bookseller Baird Searles would soon follow Delany at the magazine  for more than a decade, and be succeeded by Harlan Ellison, Kathi Maio and Lucius Shepard, sometimes in alternation. Gahan Wilson's cartoon was already a regular feature, one of Ferman's first innovations in the magazine, and it would appear in every issue till the two had some sort of falling-out in the early '80s...only Isaac Asimov, with his science column, was a more durable regular than Wilson and his cartoons in the magazine's history. 

If Fantastic in those years had relatively randomly-selected reprints, and F&SF rather more carefully-chosen ones that usually ran to relatively recent but (to most fantasy/sf readers, probably) obscure sources, Robert A. W. Lowndes's magazines for the very marginal Health Knowledge Publications managed to get by through Lowndes combing through his collection of pulps and anthologies and collections of fantasy and other sorts of fiction, looking for public-domain items of various sorts and checking with the Copyright Office for records of renewals on the pulp items, often taken from such orphaned magazines as Strange Tales. 

The Magazine of Horror was the first of the fiction magazines Lowndes was able to launch at HK, which was mostly in the business of publishing imitations of the magazine Sexology and the like (after HK collapsed in 1971, Lowndes would be hired at that magazine, at Gernsback Publications). Startling Mystery Stories and Famous Science Fiction followed, and a small slew of others followed those, before the collapse...what distinguished SMS from its elder sibling, as noted above, was that it was devoted more to psychic detective stories, such as those of  Seabury Quinn, once the most popular contributor to Weird Tales (outpacing the likes of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and Edmond Hamilton by some distance during Farnsworth Wright's editorship), who retained quite a following among the more nostalgic readership of the MOH; SMS not only served as place to allow not including very many Quinn stories in the elder magazine, but also served as a place to run stories by horror fiction aspirants whose work wasn't Quite up to what Lowndes wanted
Lowndes's '69 3rd fantasy title.
for the mothership title (hence the "first stories" by King and Wilson appearing in Startling Mystery rather than Horror; Terry Carr and Ted White's somewhat surreal "The Secret of the City" had appeared in an earlier issue). But aside from some engaging pulp (and earlier p.d. fiction) reprints, some first-rate originals appeared in SMS, as well, including this issue's "The Scar," one of the better early Ramsey Campbell short stories, marking his beginning to take on his own voice and becoming somewhat less simply a promising acolyte of H. P. Lovecraft, and one of August Derleth's most treasured discoveries thus. Much of the issue, as in part with all Lowndes magazines going back through the not quite as low-budget but still low-budget Columbia fiction-magazine days, was devoted to a long editorial (in this issue discussing Poe's contribution to mystery fiction, sparked in part by an article in an early issue of The Armchair Detective), a bibliography of Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories, a Lowndes book and magazine review piece, and a long letter column (free copy, aside from the time spent transcribing letters and answering them). 

The ISFDB indices to these issues, slightly corrected:

the first issue, 1969
the 2nd, and only 1969, issue
For more of today's (actual) books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links to the reviews, interviews and more

As always, please let me know if I've missed your or anyone else's contribution this week in comments...thanks.

Anne Billson: Les malheurs de Sophie and 11 older films; poetry in film

Anonymous: Strike (1925 film); Jour de fate; Broken Blossoms; Man with a Camera; The ConformistThe Sunflower

Bhob Stewart: Dennis Potter teleplays for BBC's Play for Today: "Double Dare"; "Blue Hills Remembered" (scroll down! a possibly NSFW painting is also on the way as one scrolls)

The Big Broadcast: 24 April 
  • 07:00p Johnny Dollar
    01/08/61 #722 The Paperback Mystery (Multiple Sponsors) (CBS) (22:48)
  • 07:20p Bob & Ray segments from NBC? MBS?
  • 07:30p Dragnet
    08/10/54 #260 Big Wish (NBC) (24:36)
  • 08:00p Gunsmoke
    08/11/57 #279 Jayhawkers (04/04/53) (Sus.) (CBS) (28:42)
  • 08:30p Aldrich Family
    #438 Grab Bag Sale at Springer's Dept. Store (Jello) (NBC) (29:38)
  • 09:00p Halls of Ivy
    05/10/50 #19 Mrs. Whitney's Statue (Schlitz Beer) (NBC) (29:58)
  • 09:30p Dr. Kildare
    02/22/50 Alice Bradley (MGM Syndication) (28:08)
  • 10:00p Lux Radio Theater
    10/07/40 Wings of the Navy (Lux) (CBS) (59:52)

Bill Crider: You Never Can Tell  [blurry excerpt]

Brian Arnold: Jim Henson's Sam and FriendsHenson's Wilkins Coffee commercials; 1980s Saturday morning cartoon PSAs

NBC Experiment in Television: "The Cube" (produced, written [with Jerry Juhl] and directed by Jim Henson), 1969

B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

Colin McGulgan: Ambush

Comedy Film Nerds: Geoff Tate

Cult TV: The Avengers: "Nightmare"

Cynthia Fuchs: Elvis and Nixon; The Other Side

Dan Stumpf: Seven Sinners (aka Doomed Cargo)

The Dana Gould Hour: The People v. O. J. Simpson; Stan v. Evil's Laraine Newman and Janet Varney

David Vineyard: Crackerjack

Elizabeth Foxwell:  X Marks the Spot; Doris Roberts in Brenner

Gary Deane: La noche avanza

George Kelley: Escape from Alcatraz

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast: Kliph Nesteroff

"Gilligan Newton-John": Jeunes Filles Impudiques; Les Démoniaques (some NSFW imagery)

Iba Dawson: Sundance Festival recap

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Spies (1928 film); Try and Get Me!

Jackie Kashian: Mike Lawrence on professional wrestling and its offshoots

Jackie Kashian and Laurie Kilmartin: The Jackie and Laurie Show

James Clark: Le doulos

James Reasoner: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Janet Varney: Tawny Newsome

Jerry House: Batman (1943 movie serial); Tedx: Niko Everett: Meet Yourself

"John Grant": Daring Daughters; Cha Wu Ci Ren

Jonathan Lewis: Wagon Master; Beast of the Yellow Night; Secret of the Incas

Juri Nummelin: Battle Beyond the Stars

Justin LaLiberty: underrated 1986 films

Karen Hannsberry: Turner Classic Movies Film Festival 2015

Ken Levine: Disneyland 1964

Kristina Dijan: The Earrings of Madame de...; The Fearless Vampire Killers
The Half-Naked Truth

Laura G: Deception; Key Witness; Dead Reckoning; Young Man with a Horn; Meet Danny Wilson; Outside the Wall; Flesh and Fury

Lucy Brown: The Half-Naked Truth

Martin Edwards: The Gray Man; Marcella

Marty McKee: Tarzan and the Valley of Gold; Assassination; Trouble Man; The Eiger Sanction 
The Gray Man...about Albert Fish

Mildred Perkins: Night of the Living Dorks; Ender's Game

Mitchell Hadley: television, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MayDay 1968

Patricia Nolan-Hall: City for Conquest

Patti Abbott: Raising Arizona

Rick: Phantom Lady; Empire of the Ants; insect movies; The Prize; Cinderella (the film of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical)

Robert/Television Obscurities: Glynis

Rod Lott: King Kong Lives; Shadows in an Empty Room; Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure; Flight 7500

Ruth Kerr: Woman on the Run

Sam Juliano: Tribeca 2016

Sergio Angelini: The Scarlet Claw (aka Sherlock Holmes in Canada); Hitchcock film poll

Stacia Jones: Brotherly Love; Not So Dumb; The Woman in White; The Florodora Girl

Steve Lewis: The Ray Bradbury Theater: "The Crowd"

Vienna: Samuel Goldwyn Productions; Universal Pictures

Walter Albert: Peter Pan (1924 film)

Peter Pan, Yankee Patriot:

My Favorite Brunette

Friday, April 22, 2016

FFB: THE COMPLETE HUMBUG edited and originally published by Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Arnold Roth, Al Jaffee and Jack Davis, with annotations and interviews conducted by John Benson and Gary Groth (Fantagraphics Books 2009)

Humbug was the 1957-58 magazine published by a quintet of parody-comics veterans...Harvey Kurtzman had been the founding editor of Mad the comic book, and had edited the first few issues of the larger-format Mad, the new format adopted after the Comics Code had been created by the larger publishers (except for Dell and EC itself) in the comics industry to keep governmental censorship from going any further than it had in the wake of the hysteria encouraged by Fredric Wertham's "exposé" Seduction of the Innocent. Will Elder, Al Jaffee and Jack Davis had worked with Kurtzman at Mad, and continued to work with Kurtzman when he moved on to a brief career with the well-funded, Hugh Hefner-published slick magazine Trump (decades before a certain eventual presidential candidate had even been mocked as a "short-fingered vulgarian" by the not quite as shortlived slick satire magazine Spy)...Arnold Roth, already doing jazz record sleeve illustration as well as magazine comics and art, joined with the crew at that second magazine. So, when Hefner pulled the plug on Trump after the second issue, the five decided to pool their money and produce a small-format magazine, slightly larger than a standard
comic book but not much, and priced at 15c an issue rather than the standard comic price of a dime and the rather typical quarter for a full-sized magazine. Under pressure to get the magazine out on a regular monthly basis (endless improvement noodling on Kurtzman's part, among others', had helped doom Trump) in part because their partner in Humbug was Charlton, at the height of its mobbed-up days...Charlton printed and distributed (as CDC) the magazine, and might consider kneecapping anyone who didn't have their paid-for product ready for their trucks to carry. The eleven issues they managed to produce before folding (atop all else, the odd format of all but the last, 8.5 x 11" issues, helped cause the magazine to be lost on newsstands, as it wouldn't quite stand out among comics nor certainly among most magazines of larger size) were notable, not least to the artists who put it together and those who, such as Ed Fisher and Larry Siegel and R. O. Blechman, also contributed, for the
the 7th issue
amount of freedom to do as they wanted the magazine afforded. There certainly was good and better work in Mad, Trump, and in the later Kurtzman magazine Help!, but the fact that (aside from shady business partners), the five staffers (if particularly Kurtzman as the default editor and chief publisher) had no one to answer to but themselves and each other resulted in a certain creative freedom. And the results were an interesting mixed bag...some very incisive prose as well as comics and advertisement-parody pieces, along with merely mildly humorous work.  John Benson provides some annotations and conducts a fine interview with Jaffee and Roth; he and Fantagraphics head Gary Groth offer a good introduction, and Groth and company's design work on the slipcased two volumes is good (restoration notes from the pages shot from are also included). Sadly, when I picked up the set when it was new and had a list price of $60; now it sets one back a C-note, making it less an impulse purchase than it might be for many of us, as well as not the easiest sell to most librarians. And, frankly, the freedom the artists had was not quite exploited to the fullest...perhaps because of the pressure of practicality hanging over the heads of not-business-minded artists suddenly finding themselves responsible for the business several borrowed money to create...and it is remarkable how frequently one is disappointed, however slightly at times, by these collections from the notable humor magazines of the past. 

For more of today's books, please see Patricia Abbott's blog...Friday's Forgotten Books celebrates eight years this Earth Day!

Tuesday's Overlooked A/V: the links (on Wednesday and updated since)

Life's desire to not cooperate has become even more acute in recent months, but some progress has been made in beating it back, and below you see the first installment of Catching Up again with the overlooked reviews of the last two months from regular Overlooked A/V contributors...more of this overdue citation (and appreciation) to come next Tuesday, barring the flood...thanks to everyone for their patience and continued contribution...
Fallen Angels: "Dead End for Delia" (w/Gary Oldman, Gabrielle Anwar, Meg Tilly) from William Campbell Gault's story.

Anne Billson: Hugh Grant; chapter titles in movies; photographers in movies

Anonymous: Commissar; Still Mine; Intolerance; Ordet

Bhob Stewart: "Beat Memories: The Photography of Allen Ginsberg"; the Firesign Theater; World's Fairs; Stan Freberg on The Dick Cavett Show

The Big Broadcast: 17 April 2016           
  • 07:00p Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
    12/04/61 #717 The Earned Income Matter (CBS) (23:22)
  • 07:30p Dragnet
    08/03/54 #259 Big Stand (NBC) (23:56)
  • 08:00p Gunsmoke
    05/28/55 #163 Cow Doctor (CBS) (24:24)
  • 08:30p Molle Mystery Theater 
    10/12/45 A Death is Caused (NBC) (24:30)
  • 09:00p The Halls of Ivy
    04/14/50 #15 Mrs. Foster's Lost Dog (Schlitz Beer) (NBC) (28:26)
  • 09:30p Mysterious Traveler
    06/08/48 #157 Murder is My Business (Sus.) (MBS) (29:42)
  • 10:00p Mercury Theater
    07/18/38 #02 Treasure island (Sus.) (CBS) (60:00)

Pretty Poison