November 9, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Category Comic Books | Tags: , AT&T, Boy's Life, Neal Adams, Tom Scheuer | 2 Comments
November 8, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
The backglass art below is from pinball machines that began arriving in arcades, drugstores and bowling alleys in 1961. The three big pinball machine manufacturers at the time were Gottlieb, Williams, and Bally, all based in Chicago. The designers of these machines sought to incorporate a theme and unique rules of play that almost created a story when successfully integrated. It was up to the artists to illustrate that story as framing devices around the various bumpers, slots, and chutes of the playfield, as well as the backglass which not only served as a score card but also as the game’s initial enticement to those willing to sacrifice their loose change to engage with that “story”.
The most prolific among the artists who illustrated backglass (the upright part that displays the score) and playfields (where the ball rolls) at the time were two Chicago artists Roy Parker (Egg Head, Flying Circus, Hi Dolly, Lancers) and George Molentin (Black Jack, Bo Bo, Darts, Highways, Hollywood, Music Man). Click images for a larger view.
Category Art, Sports, Toys | Tags: , Bally, George Molentin, Gottlieb, Pinball, Roy Parker, Williams | No Comments
November 7, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
While other EC Comics alumni like Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, and Al Feldstein went to work with the premier humor magazine of the early ’60s, MAD, John Severin was a contributor to the second-tier CRACKED. Every now and then, Severin would elevate the brow of the humor magazine with features such as these illustrations to a famous poem by “the Bard of the Yukon”, Robert Service.
From CRACKED #19 (1961)
Category Comic Books | Tags: , 1961, CRACKED, John Severin, Robert Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee | 1 Comment
November 4, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
In 1961 the Soviet Academy of Sciences held a news conference in Moscow to display an assortment of animals that the USSR had launched into space and safely returned to Earth. Space-faring dogs, mice, rats, and guinea pigs were put on display; the rabbits and various insects that flew the previous year were unable to attend.
Category Uncategorized | Tags: , 1961, Animals, LIFE, Space Exploration, USSR | No Comments
November 2, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
I don’t think I’m alone in the opinion that the Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life” (first aired 50 years ago on November 3, 1961) is the most terrifying and disturbing tale ever presented on the show. All the more impressive since it doesn’t rely on a twist ending or sudden revelations to make that impact. In fact, the premise in its entirety is laid out by host Rod Serling in the longest opening narration ever presented on the show.
“Tonight’s story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there’s a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines – because they displeased him – and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages – just by using his mind. Now I’d like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It’s in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot. She began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn’t like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you’re looking at now. She sings no more. And you’ll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio, have to smile. They have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn’t I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He’s six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you’d better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone.”
Lesser storytellers would find such an introduction to be an insanely wasteful dump of valuable detail that should be slowly parceled out as the story unfolds. But instead of lessening the impact of the story itself, Serling’s introduction frees up the viewer’s attention so that it can focus not on the monster but on the fear and helplessness of its victims. The viewer isn’t asking himself what he would do if he himself had such powers but rather what he would do if put in the position of the conflicted and ultimately cowardly citizens of Peaksville.
Category Fantasy, TV | Tags: , 1961, CBS, Rod Serling, Twilight Zone | 2 Comments
November 1, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Sserpo! Amazing Adventures #6: When a frustrated scientist disposes of an experimental growth formula by tossing it into the ocean it is consumed by a tiny lizard-like creature living on the ocean floor. The missing ingredient for the growth formula was simply water so Sserpo begins to grow. Sserpo is caught by fishermen but by the time they reach port the lizard is large enough to sink the entire island. Nearly 1000 feet tall, the monster heads toward Australia. The Australian Navy diverts the creature with rockets but Sserpo (now 2000 feet high) is headed straight for Japan. Worried that the giant monster will sink their entire country when he first set foot on Japanese soil, the Japanese use an H-Bomb to scare the monster away. As Sserpo continues to grow, scientists fear that he will grow so large that he will upset the orbit of the Earth. Just in time, the inhabitants of Jupiter send a giant skyhook to snag Sserpo and carry him into space.
The Creature from Krogarr Tales to Astonish #25: An alien contacts an Earthman through his TV set and offers to make him famous if he will just make a few adjustments to his TV and allow his body to pass from the alien’s planet to Earth. After the man does this, the alien seizes the man and takes him back to his home planet. The alien tells the man that he will be proof that his revolutionary new method of travel works and puts him in a cage while he calls his superiors. Once his superiors arrive and have seen the human, he is to be killed and invasion plans will be drawn up. Suddenly, the Earthman fades away just before the superiors arrive. Angered, they kill the inventor and destroy his machine which they assume is worthless. Luckily, the man had neglected to pay his electric bill and the power to the TV set was shut off, thus saving Earth.
Giganto Fantastic Four #1: Giganto is one of many Deviant Mutates dwelling on Monster Isle. During the first adventure of the Fantastic Four, the Mole Man makes Giganto his servant and uses him to attack nuclear power plants all over the world. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch succeeds (at least temporarily) in sealing Giganto and the Mole Man’s other monsters in their underground lair by melting the rock around the passage to the Earth’s surface.
The Thing in the Black Box Journey into Mystery #74: A victim of a shipwreck washes up on a not quite deserted isle where he stumbles over beautiful Pandora and her box. Pandora is malevolent and tricks him into opening the box for her whereupon she commands the demon that emerges to make all of mankind her slave. The man begs Pandora to be allowed to return to the mainland, and she grants his request, but he has a plan and returns with a set of mirrors which he rings around the sleeping Pandora. When she awakes she cries out in despair that they be taken away. The man had gambled that centuries-old Pandora’s beauty had to be the result of hypnosis, but no one can hypnotize a mirror. He says the mirrors will be removed if she orders the demon back into the box. She does so, and they bury the box deep in the earth, and leave Pandora on her isle with her illusion of beauty.
Orrgo…The Unconquerable Strange Tales #90: Two billion miles from earth the imperialistic race, the Mentelleronites, discuss their plan to conqure the planet Earth. One of the Mentelleronites, Orrgo, volunteers to be the planet’s invader. Orrgo believes his race to be so superior to the humans that he can accomplish the feat single-handedly. Teleporting himself across the galaxy, Orrgo materializes in a circus and tells the people audience to bow to him. The police and military are called but no one can withstand his hypnotic power. After hypnotizing the entire world’s population, Orrgo falls asleep near the circus where he originally materialized. Jo-Jo the circus gorilla becomes infuriated that his hypnotized master has not fed him and breaks out of his cage. Jo-Jo finds the sleeping Orrgo and senses that he is responsible for his hunger. The angry ape strikes down Orrgo and saves the world. The others on Orrgo’s world sense that their brother has been defeated and decide not to try to invade Earth again, as they must be more powerful than originally thought.
The Creature from the Black Bog Tales of Suspense #23: A retired couple exploring the Everglades comes upon an alien who has been mired in the bog after landing to make repairs and was making his way back to the ship. In exchange for their help in securing enough vines to pull him free of the bog, he removes their memories of the incident and makes them younger. Read the whole story here.
Category Comic Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction | Tags: , Amazing Adventures, Comic Books, Fantastic Four, Giganto, Jack Kirby, Journey into Mystery, Marvel, Orrgo...The Unconquerable, Sserpo, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, The Creature from Krogarr, The Creature from the Black Bog!, The Thing in the Black Box | No Comments
October 31, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
In the last few months I’ve written a couple posts on the world of plastic models in 1961 and one thing that struck me was how important it was for companies like Revell and Aurora to have impressive artwork on the boxes that contained the less than awe-inspiring unassembled and unpainted pieces of plastic inside. That’s when I discovered the artwork of Shigeru Komatsuzaki (1915-2001). The first pieces I discovered were for two plastic models by the Japanese company Nichimo depicting floating automobiles. I can’t tell you why, but I really like the way Komatsuzaki draws cars.
Although Shigeru Komatsuzaki’s art apparently dominated science fiction publishing in Japan during the 1950s, there is precious little of his early work available online. Almost all of his prewar work, including his personal collection was lost to wartime firebombing and the paper used for domestic printing for a decade after the war was done on the most perishable of paper. A fire at Komatsuzaki’s home in 1995 destroyed much of his remaining archives.
The format of his most renowned work in the Fifties was a double-page tableaux with some descriptive text portraying a variety of monster attacks, natural disasters and futuristic inventions. These works were not comic books nor were they any sort of proto-manga although the influence of his style is readily apparent in modern Japanese sequential art.
Starting in the late Fifties Komatsuzaki worked as a production designer on several Japanese films, including The Mysterians (1957) and Battle in Outer Space (1960) designing futuristic vessels and monsters. While Manga was undergoing a huge boom during the early Sixties, Komatsuzaki stuck to single-image paintings, mostly as the artist of hundreds of dramatic box illustrations for plastic model kits of subjects as varied as floating cars, giant robots, spaceships and the entire fleet of craft featured in Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds.
Category Art, Science Fiction, Transportation | Tags: , Automobiles, Japan.Models, Monsters, Robots, science fiction, Shigeru Komatsuzaki, Toho | No Comments
October 28, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
In 1961, Chicago TV pioneer Ulises Sanabria tested the market for a three-screen television with a photo spread in LIFE magazine. I suppose the advantage it had over simply owning three individual TVs in different rooms of the house is that it kept the family together – at least, physically. A hi-fi record player is concealed behind the center speaker panel. Apparently, it was inconceivable that two or more members of a family would want to listen to different records at the same time.
Category TV | Tags: , 1961, LIFE, Television, Ulises Sanabria | No Comments
October 27, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Category Fashion | Tags: , 1961, Costumes, Halloween | No Comments
October 26, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
Although they’re not as striking as his black and white inks, Virgil Finlay‘s color paintings like this one for the cover of Galaxy are always filled with background detail other artist might not bother with. Depicting a futuristic sport called space diving from Fritz Leiber’s story “The Beat Cluster”, Finlay shows the beatnik musicians, artists and dancers that inhabit the hamster-tube enclosure in high Earth orbit, as well as those whose thrills require them to wear spacesuits in the vacuum of space.
Chesley Bonestell‘s cover painting for the October, 1961 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction combines the artist’s ultra-realistic style of depicting both space hardware and space landscape. Most Americans were first introduced to Bonestell’s work when LIFE magazine published a series of paintings of Saturn as seen from several of its moons in 1944. This cover is intriguing because it is not immediately apparent whether the rocket ships are taking off from the cratered planet or landing.
A side note on this particular issue of F&SF is that it contained the first printing of Kurt Vonnegut’s Hugo award-winning short story, “Harrison Bergeron”
Amazing Stories‘ October cover, like the month before, is by Alex Schomburg and is another depiction of near future technology in the vein of Popular Mechanics. It depicts off shore missile silos that seem rather impractical and unneccessary in an era where both the United States and the USSR were rapidly developing and deploying submarines armed with nuclear missiles.
Schomburg spent the 1940s working in comic books for companies like Marvel’s precursor Timely Comics. Stan Lee called him the Norman Rockwell of comic books. Before he left comic books for magazines in the early 1950s, Schomburg had drawn almost 600 covers for comic books featuring characters like Captain America, the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. The amount of detail he put into even the most ephemeral of media was matched by only a few other artists of the time (like George Evans with whom Schomburg shared cover duties on Aces High ).
John Schoenherr‘s cover for Analog Science Fact-Fiction once again shows off the talent Schoenherr honed while doing freelance work for the Bronx Zoo in the early 1960s. In addition to the cover, Schoenherr also did the interior illustrations for the story, “Lion Loose…” by James Schmitz.
Category Art, Science Fiction | Tags: , Alex Schomburg, Amazing Stories, Analog Science Fact-Fiction, Chesley Bonestell, Galaxy, John Schoenherr, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, science fiction, Virgil Finlay | 1 Comment