Page 45 Review by Stephen
Stan Lee found himself assigned to the armys training film division, where he served with such luminaries as director Frank Capra and great New Yorker cartoonist, Charles Addams. Lee wrote short films, posters and pamphlets on such topics as army finance and venereal disease.
Its amazing what you can pick up here. Did you know that Terry Gilliam preceded Robert Crumb as assistant editor of Harvey Kurtzmans HELP, and that John Cleese modelled for one of its photo comics?
Yes, Ill tell you right now what I love about this: its breadth and above all sense of context, be it personal, historical, social, economic and even international. Tom Spurgeon wrote the introduction, and hell not put his name to any old tripe.
Its also very, very funny in places. At first it rankled with me that this was comics and not prose, especially since Dunlaveys style of cartooning isnt my natural comfort zone. UNDERSTANDING COMICS was perfect because as a graphic novel it was self-demonstrative, and the two CARTOON GUIDE TO ECONOMICS books (yes, there was a second!) worked well because the images made the abstract comprehensibly concrete. Here I wondered at first why we couldnt just have photographs of the people and reproductions of the covers until the jokes kicked in, and I realised that Dunlavey was drawing in short-hand what Van Lente would have had to labour over in prose. A bit like Im about to here!
Though through our allegedly more enlightened modern eyes, romance comics may be seen as simply reinscribing the more patriarchal aspects of American society (as 99.9% of them were written and drawn by men)
Im so happy you allowed me to drop my career to pop out babies for you until you throw me aside for you secretary in two decades!
Me too, sugar plum! Now shut your yap and go fix me a sandwich!
they almost always encouraged marrying for love rather than any other consideration, and tried to steer heroines away from the wrong kind of man, the template for whom remains basically the same in our day.
Mr. Right: working-class Joe
Mr. Wrong: Well-heeled sharpie
Mr. Right: Wants 2.5 kids
Mr Wrong: Wants in your pants
Mr. Right: 1-beer-a-day guy
Mr. Wrong: drunk right now.
Every genre and movement is dealt with in detail as well as theyre unexpected impacts on each other, and never have I seen the whole Wertham / Bill Gaines / Senate hearing / Comics Code Authority debacle dealt with in such great depth yet so swiftly. Actually Ive never seen anyone trying to salvage Werthams reputation before, and Van Lente points out precisely why. Youll be surprised at what good he did do. The connections between comics and the two big animation studios gave me some nuggets on Disney I had no idea about like the fact that Bambi was a bust and they were only saved by the Pentagon. And speaking of WWII poor Jack Kirby is as down on his luck as ever!
So you can draw?
Yes sir, of course I can draw.
I was thinking, Great, some officer wants me to draw his portrait, Kirby remembered.
Instead he was sent ahead into live combat zones as a scout to draw maps and pictures. I learned that Archie Comics Archie Andrews was based on the mercilessly wholesome screen persona of Mickey Rooney, 50 US States tried to regulate crime comics and Canada managed to ban them. Why does everyone consider Canada so liberal? You try crossing their border with a suitcase of yaoi. The whole of EC Comics horror line makes far more sense when you learn about Bill Gaines unresolved parental issues, and there are statistics here to make you weep:
Industry studies showed that in 1947, a stunning 95% of American boys and 91% of girls between the ages of 6 and 11 were habitual comics readers
along with 87% of teenaged men and 81% of teen women; and a still-impressive 41% of men aged 18-30 and before romance comics 28% of women the same age read comics regularly.
In case you dont know, today 1% of both genders combined would be an over-optimistic estimate.