Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Al Jaffee R.I.P.

Al Jaffee, the genius behind many great features at MAD Magazine, as died at age 102. I consider him the man who installed my sense of humor. In 1968, I was 9-1/2 years old when I was sent to spend the summer with my grandparents in Massachusetts. One fine summer day, my uncle Dickie cane home and handed me a copy of MAD #121, featuring Alfred E. Neuman done up as Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi being carried by the Beatles. I was a MAD devotee from then on through my childhood and young adulthood. One of the artist-writers I quickly began to look for in every issue was Al Jaffee.

TV Musicals

When ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ got the ax, I was reminded of the many other attempts to create a TV series in the form of a musical over the past some years. Usually they end up unsuccessful, and sometimes cringy. As I’ve previously mentioned, I have a fondness for musicals, so I’ve watched many of the shows below with varying degrees of enjoyment and disappointment. Let’s take a look at the best of them.

Pointless Fanboy Speculation: The Inferior Five

So Greg raised this question the other day, “what’s your pitch for an ongoing series starring your favorite obscure character?” and while I was typing up the second paragraph of my reply, I realized that I should give it the space and attention it deserves, so I pulled it back and made it a post. And since we have the luxury of space, I’ll include some back-story about how this idea came to be.

Useless Stories: Legends of Tomorrow: Summer of Love

Every once in a while, I look through my old files to see if there’s anything I can dust off and use here. This time, I dug up what our much-missed friend Greg Hatcher called a “Useless Story”; an idea that can’t be developed or published without permission from the property owners, but something I wrote because I wanted to. A while back, because of friendships and passing acquaintance with people connected to the CW DC shows, I harbored a faint hope I might get a chance to pitch the idea, but the opportunity never arose, and this story sat there on the hard drive for years. If I had gotten a chance to pitch it, I might have taken it further, but writing more than a synopsis felt like verging into fanfic territory, and that’s just a little too self-indulgent for me. Since the show is now long gone, I thought I should get some use out of it by sharing it here.

My Life in Movies

In 2017 this meme-list-game-datamining thing was going around Facebook, in which you were supposed to list your favorite movie from each year of your life. Naturally, like all things on Facebook, it’s coming around again. Since I never did it back then, I thought I’d do it now. I quickly realized that while a Gen-Z or Millennial could bang out a list of a couple dozen films pretty quickly, for an old fart like, me, a list of films for every year of my life is a major undertaking; rather than squander all that time on a Facebook post, I thought I’d turn it into an article here, where I can expound a bit on some of the entries.

‘Sky Captain’ Interview, Part 3

I’ve been sitting on the last part of my interview with Kevin Conran and Michael Sean Foley for a few years now, waiting to coincide with the long-delayed release of Kevin’s beautiful book, Sky Captain and the Art of Tomorrow. That day is finally upon us; the release date is today, February 23, and with it, here’s the conclusion of our interview.

Adventures in the 700 Section

From about age 12 to 15, almost all of my pop culture itches were scratched at the Torrance Public Library. Where Greg Hatcher steeped himself in genre fiction, I was all about the nonfiction; the people, the history, the methods. We were both trying to escape, but while Greg was escaping into fictional worlds, I was trying to escape into a different real world, become a different person, and I knew that the tools to do that would be found almost entirely in the 700 section.