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These old Scooby-Doo background paintings are pretty amazing
05.29.2014
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Crime
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
Scooby-Doo


 
When you set nostalgia aside, it’s pretty clear that Hanna-Barbera cartoons mostly sucked ass. Of course, in their ‘60s heyday, they produced some durable classics like The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Jonny Quest, and my childhood favorite, Top Cat, the theme song from which will be my walking-out music if I’m ever a guest on a talk show. But come the ‘70s, they were mostly churning out it’ll-do halfassery like The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan and Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo.

But even their greatest stuff was cheap as hell, often pushing limited-motion animation techniques so far that they’d become distractingly bad. Ever wonder why Yogi Bear had a collar and a necktie with no shirt? That was to create a straight line behind which artists could animate just the characters’ heads and keep everything else in the frame static, because cheapness. Same deal with Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone’s necklaces. Pretty much every character design had some variation on that tactic. Which would be forgivable if HB weren’t already so notorious for their “hey, didn’t they walk past the same rock like three times already?” approach to backgrounds. The reality is, they were grinding out product, and while they ground out some inspired product early on, they were ultimately still just an animation mill.

So when Decaying Hollywood Mansions’ Facebook page turned up this 2007 Secret Fun Spot roundup of INCREDIBLE Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! background paintings, my jaw bounced off the floor a few times. The artistry on display in these gorgeous and gloomy scenes of abandoned and mysterious places is remarkable, certainly beyond what I was equipped to really appreciate when I was little. It kind of makes me want to have a look at those old shows again.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Nuff said? Stan Lee’s letter confirming Steve Ditko as Spider-Man’s co-creator
05.28.2014
07:54 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
Spider-Man

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In 1999, comic book hero Stan Lee wrote an open-letter confirming Steve Ditko’s role as co-creator of Spider-Man. The letter was in response to some public niggling between Ditko and Lee over who did what in the creation of the character.

The controversy came about after Lee “reminisced in Comic Book Marketplace about his inspirations for writing an acclaimed late 1965 issue of Amazing Spider-Man.” This led to artist Steve Ditko breaking his long silence on the subject, as told in Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics—The Untold Story:

“Stan never knew what was in my plotted stories,” the artist wrote to the [Comic Book Marketplace] editors, “until I took in the penciled story, the cover, my script and Sol Brodsky took the material from me and took it all into Stan’s office, so I had to leave without seeing or talking to Stan.”

A few months later, after Lee was identified in TIME magazine as the creator of Spider-Man, Ditko popped up on that magazine’s letters page, too:

“Spider-Man’s existence needed a visual concrete entity,” Ditko wrote. “It was a collaboration of writer-editor Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as co-creators.”

This time Lee picked up the phone and called Ditko, for the first time in more than thirty years.

“Steve said, ‘Having an idea is nothing, because until it becomes a physical thing, it’s just an idea,’” Lee recalled.

“And he said it took him to draw the strip, and to give it life, so to speak, or to make it actually some- thing tangible. Otherwise, all I had was an idea. So I said to him, ‘Well, I think the person who has the idea is the person who creates it. And he said, ‘No, because I drew it.’ Anyway, Steve definitely felt that he was the co-creator of Spider-Man. And that was really, after he said it, I saw it meant a lot to him that was fine with me. So I said fine, I’ll tell everybody you’re the co-creator. That didn’t quite satisfy him. So I sent him a letter.”

In the letter dated August 18th, 1999, Lee wrote:

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to go on record with the following statement…

I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man’s co-creator.

When I first told Steve my idea for a shy, teenaged high-school science student who’d be bitten by a radioactive spider, thus gaining the ability to stick to walls and shoot webs, Steve took to it like a duck to water.

Steve’s illustrated version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his coterie of supporting characters was more compelling and dramatic than I had dared hope it would be. From his very first panel, Steve created and established the perfect mood and gestalt for Spider-Man.

Also it goes without saying that Steve’s costume design was an actual masterpiece of imagination. Thanks to Steve Ditko, Spidey’s costume has become one of the world’s most recognizable visual icons.

Nor can I forget to credit Steve with the many, many brilliant plots he furnished as the strip continued to increase in popularity with each passing month. So adept was he at story-telling, that Steve eventually did most of the plotting and illustrations while I, of course, continued to provide the dialogue and captions.

I write this to ensure that Steve Ditko receives the credit to which he is so justly entitled.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Lee

Nuff said?! Perhaps not: Ditko was apparently upset that Lee used the word “considered,” as Lee explains in the clip from Jonathan Ross’ BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko embedded below.

Check out more of Sean Howe‘s on-line supplement to Marvel Comics: The Untold Story here. Below, Stan Lee’s original letter, plus a selection of Steve Ditko’s artwork for Spider-Man after the jump.
 
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Stan Lee discusses Steve Ditko’s role in the creation of Spider-Man—and Ditko’s reaction to this very letter—with Jonathan Ross from the BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko:

 
Some Ditko splash-pages from Spider-Man, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Andy Warhol, wrestling fan?


 

“I’m speechless. I just don’t know what to say.”

At some point during the 1980s, it made sense that MTV would try do something to take advantage of the pop culture juggernaut that was the World Wrestling Federation and some perceived rock/wrestling crossover that probably just boiled down to Cyndi Lauper’s dad being played by Captain Lou Albano in her “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video and little else.

“The War to Settle the Score” was a series of WWF matches with a storyline that involved Albano, Lauper and her manager David Wolff (I won’t bother to explain it in detail, but Albano was a manager and Wolff and Lauper are trying to steal clients.) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper got pissed off about the whole MTV connection and this brought another “feud” into the storyline, but also in real life.

Piper was disqualified from the championship match against Hulk Hogan and a brawl erupted.  At one point, Cyndi Lauper, who had rushed the ring with Mr. T to support Hogan, was kicked in the head.

Since the event was live, MTV had cameras set up backstage to interview Hogan, Lauper, Mr T and Albano afterwards, but Andy Warhol apparently opened the wrong door and was pulled into an impromptu interview with “Mean Gene” Okerlund.

You’ll notice that Okerlund refers to the Pope of Pop as a “one of the greatest wrestling fans” at the end.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Kim Sisters: Rat Pack-era Vegas headliners, fierce Korean divas
05.16.2014
11:20 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Kim Sisters


 
I’ve been listening to a lot of Korean music lately, and rather enjoying The Kim Sisters (Sook-ja, Ai-ja, and Mia—though Mia was actually the sisters’ cousin): a trio of multi-talented singers and musicians (“Who rate amongst the most versatile entertainers in the business. They not only sing, they play about 20 instruments” was how they were introduced on American TV). The Kim Sisters went from Korean post-war poverty to Las Vegas success in the 1960s.

Sook Ja and Ai-Ja’s mother was the Korean singer Lee Nan Young, and their father was Kim Hae Song, a respected classical conductor. Their father died during the Korean War, and the family home was destroyed. To support her family Lee Nan performed in shows to American troops stationed in the country. It was during one of these shows that Lee Nan introduced her two daughters and their cousin, Mia, as The Kim Sisters. Their singing and musical act proved a hit, and encouraged by their initial success, the girls started regularly appearing on the bill of GI shows.

They often sang just for food, as the family, like most Koreans during and after the war, were in direst poverty. They began singing American show songs, learning the lyrics phonetically. This increased The Kim Sisters popularity, and in 1959, they were helped by a talent manager to perform in the US at Las Vegas’ Thunderbird Hotel. So, began The Kim Sisters American career.
 
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From being paid beer, fruit and chocolate for their singing, the trio of girls were soon earning $400 a week. From the Thunderbird, they were quickly booked to play the Stardust Hotel, where they developed their act by learning to play an incredible selection of instruments.

Eventually TV came a knockin’ and by the time The Kim Sisters appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dean Martin Show they were bringing in around $12,000 a week. When Ed Sullivan heard that Lee Nan Young was still in Korea for lack of a visa, he intervened, but with the understanding that she would appear on his show with the Kim Sisters.
 
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Their success made them a mainstay of Las Vegas, and LA nightclubs, and The Kim Sisters continued to perform through the sixties and seventies. Their musical style was a mix of the Andrews Sisters meets The Supremes, moving from Tin Pan Alley hits to pop songs. This small selection of videos will give you an idea of The Kim Sisters’ appeal. First up is a clip of The Kim Sisters on The Hollywood Palace television show. Stay with it for when they all three start playing the xylophone together (or go directly to about 3:22 in). It’s pretty cool:
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Brain-frying Idaho Republican debate shitshow: The Supercut


So this guy is running…
 

“I did kill a wolf, while it was still on the endangered species.”

These are the words of Walt Bayes, who is running for Governor of Idaho on the Republican ticket. His primary political goal is “to stop abortion.” The other crazy onstage is biker Harley Brown, whose charming website contains carefully curated list of “Harleyisms.” A sampling:

I was preparing my income tax and thought “thank God we don’t get all the government we pay for!”

Burn up all of the gas - That’s the American way - God Bless America

Register Communists, not firearms. That means domestic enemies of the United States Constitution such as Bloomberg, Schumer and Pelosi

A while back I visited Israel and discovered the REAL reason Jewish men get circumcised - Because Jewish women won’t touch anything that is not at least 20% off

Loud pipes save lives

Gun control means hitting your target. (Editor’s note: I recommend “Gun control is accomplished by a firm grip with both hands”)

Democrats piss me off

The difference between the IRS and a whore is that a whore will quit screwing you after your dead

Why wasn’t Jesus born in Poland? They couldn’t find three wise men or a virgin.

And my personal favorite:

Riding a Jap bike is like f_cking a faggot I guess it feels OK until somebody sees you doing it & you sure as hell don’t tell your buddies about it the next day.

In the words of Harley Brown, “you have your choice folks—a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy.” Choose wisely, Idaho. Choose wisely.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The Plastics: Demented celebrity lookalike ‘group’ release the worst shitshow music video EVER
05.13.2014
08:16 am

Topics:
Amusing
Kooks
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Plastics


 
Meet your new favorite musical powerhouse group The Plastics! The Plastics are made up of 33-year-old Toby Sheldon (who spent over $100k in plastic surgery to look like Justin Beiber, but ended up looking more like Bruce Jenner), 30-year-old Kitty Jay (who spent over $25k in surgeries to look like Jennifer Lawrence) and former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Venus D’Lite (who spent thousands in surgeries to look like Madonna).

Their song is called “The Plastics,” natch, and it is perhaps the worst shitshow that I’ve ever seen. Certainly it wins the prize for 2014 so far. You know those knock-off perfumes they sell in TJ Maxx? (“If you like Calvin, you’ll love Kevin!”) These three are the human equivalent of that.

How much do you want to bet TLC gives them their own reality show after this mess? Perhaps that was the goal from the beginning? Be afraid, be very very afraid. You can contact their management GR Media to hire these plastic people for “events.” This video is filed under “Comedy,” but I am guessing that this is only because YouTube lacks an “Ostentatious Mental Illness” category.
 

 
Via Daily Dot

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Sonic Youth and Mike Watt vs Madonna


 
I wish more of the discussion that takes place about Sonic Youth would bring that band’s collective sense of humor to bear. Yes, they are of course very very important, so talk of their innovative early days is all alternate tunings, noise, and no-wave nihilism. Their later days, it’s all blah blah blah elder statesmen of alternative rock—which, again, yeah, they absolutely were, but they’ve done some funny, funny shit that’s every bit as praiseworthy. Last fall, we showed you their preposterous video “Lou Believers,” but there’s much more to share, so let’s get on with it, shall we?
 

 
In 1986, Sonic Youth teamed up with Minutemen/fIREHOSE bass player Mike Watt for a Madonna covers 7”. Having temporarily re-dubbed the band “Ciccone Youth” in a nod to Madonna’s disused surname, they recorded ridiculous travesties of the pop icon’s hits “Burnin’ Up” and “Into The Groove” (renamed “Into the Groovy”), with the latter introduced by way of “Tuff Titty Rap,” which gave Thurston Moore a fine forum in which to be a complete fucking goofball for 40 seconds.
 

 

 

 

 
The band was giving vent to a bizarre Madonna obsession in other ways at the time—on their EVOL LP, released the same year, they listed the song “Expressway to Yr Skull” as “Madonna, Sean and Me” on the album cover, and as “The Crucifixion of Sean Penn” on the lyric sheet. Two years later, Ciccone Youth expanded the gag to a full album’s worth of, um, stuff. The Whitey Album included all three tracks from the single, plus a mix of the inane (“Two Cool Rock Chicks Listening to NEU!,” “Silence,” both of which are exactly as stated by the titles), some material that recalled SY’s experimental early days before they fully embraced pop song structures, a bit of spoken word, and a version of “Addicted to Love” (about which, previously on DM, enjoy all the Robert Palmer white-knights in the comments). Check out Dave Markey’s video for the Whitey cut “Macbeth.”
 

 
The Whitey Album is singular in the Sonic Youth catalog—the only other SY release I can think of that approaches its pure diverse weirdness is the Master=Dik E.P., released six months earlier, the title track of which just happens to be laden with “Ciccone” references. Six months later and the goofing off would be over. In October of 1988, Sonic Youth would release their 2XLP masterwork Daydream Nation, which left zero room for doubt that the band belonged in the pantheon of art-rock’s greats. Enjoy a bonus video of that album’s “Silver Rocket,” from a STUNNING network TV performance on the far too short-lived Night Music.
 

 
Big hat tip to Rust Belt Hammer for inspiring this post.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Tabloid headlines rewritten not to be sexist!
05.05.2014
08:57 am

Topics:
Feminism
Pop Culture

Tags:
sexism

Normalizing headlines
 
The smart feminists over at Vagenda Magazine (slogan: “Like King Lear, but for girls”) asked their Twitter followers to fix the reflexively, egregiously, hyperbolically, breathlessly sexist tabloid headlines by creating new ones that seem to adhere to the actually humdrum events that happened. The celebrity press can’t exist without maintaining a continuous state of hysteria or high dudgeon over what is really nothing, and we certainly appreciate the corrective measures.

There’s no hashtag, apparently, but just go to the Vagenda twitter feed and you’ll see a bunch of them mixed in with other things.
 
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via HUH.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Drop down the Internet K-Hole again with a new round of surreal photos
05.01.2014
02:13 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Internet K-Hole


 
I feel like it’s my duty to announce every time Internet K-Hole publishes a new round of photos because they’re so few and far between. Each photo collection is a chock full of nostalgic insanity. They make you pine for the days of hairspray, hanging out in malls, pegged acid washed jeans, scrunchy socks, feathered hair, shitty metal bands, sour beer, black eyeliner, hair crimpers and so on. You get the picture. It’s excellent.

Sometimes it’s even pictures of people that you actually know!

The whole thing’s just inexplicable. It’s uncannily WEIRD. As always, some of the photos are NSFW.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The surreal and just *downright freaky* covers of 60s magazine Midi-Minuit Fantastique (NSFW)


 
Midi-Minuit Fantastique was a French cineaste magazine dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction films of the 1960s to early 70s. It was one of the first “serious” publications to explore genre films. Later on, Midi-Minuit Fantastique dealt with more mainstream culture and subject matters with profiles on directors like Samuel Fuller, Otto Preminger or Federico Fellini.

But honestly, who cares what Midi-Minuit Fantastique wrote about. Just look at these incredible covers! They’re up there with Girls & Corpses (NSFW) magazine!
 

 

 

 

 

 
More covers after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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