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Saturday, 13 January 2007

Really Heavy Greatcoat - The Party 8

One of the Most Beautiful Women in the World: Yvonne De Carlo

I was sorry to read about the death of actress Yvonne De Carlo, star of The Munsters, who died on Monday of natural causes aged 84.

The Munsters, which ran for two seasons and enjoyed a couple of follow up movies never achieved the cult following of The Addams Family but it was a show I enjoyed as a youngster, more especially for the TV21 strip (panel for #71, right) that helped bring the comedy to my youthful attention.

With the death of Yvonne, the core cast of The Munsters has now passed on: Fred Gwynne (Herman) died in 1993, a versatile character actor typecast by his role in the offbeat comedy according to the Munsterland web site. The wonderful Al Lewis (Grandpa) died last year aged 82.

Butch Patrick (Eddie) is still very active - even making occasional Hallowe'en appearances at a reproduction of the Munsters famous 1313 Mockingbird Lane House in Texas. You may have seen him guest starring in a 1999 episode of The Simpsons. Beverley Owen was the first actress to play Marilyn Munster (but reticient to talk about it), while Pat Priest, her permanent replacement as the long suffering humans in the Munster family, often makes personal appearances. (There's one more Marilyn, - in 1966, Debbie Watson played the role in Munster, Go Home! , replacing Pat Priest).

Strange that, as with some of the Star Trek guest stars featured in the Star Trek Magazine I've edited in the past, Carlo will be remembered for her Munsters role, "the vampire mom to millions of baby boomers," according to her longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns, rather than her work in films such as The Ten Commandments, Band of Angels or as one of the 1940s and 1950s top beauty queens, a lady Burns says was "one of the most beautiful women in the world., one of the great glamour queens of Hollywood, one of the last ones."

Goodbye, Yvonne. You will be missed.

Really Heavy Greatcoat - The Party 7

Really Heavy Greatcoat noteAs part of this strip, I added the contents of a note using an image map in the version on the main part of the downthetubes site, but here it is in an easier to find display (plus I have no idea how to do an image map in Blogger!)

Monday, 8 January 2007

Comics Nostalgia

Cartoonist and writer Lew Stringer has just blasted us with the past on his new blog with a number of covers from fanzines, some going back as far as 1976 headlined with news of the death of Frank Bellamy.

It's a fascinating short trip in to the weird world British fanzines, whose contributors ranged from Dave Gibbons, Mike Collins, Lew and many others. I published a fanzine myself, SCAN, which satirised both mainstream comics and the fanzine medium, and whose contributors included designer Matt Bingham (who went on to design FHM), Dave "Viz" Jones, Mike Collins, Richard Starkings, John Tomlinson and Bryan Talbot.

Distributed by Fast Fiction, which was run by Paul Gravett (then co-editor of the wonderful Escape magazine), our small subscriber base included Alan Moore, who was absolutely not offended by a letter we published supposedly from him satirising his writing style of the time and, as time progressed, began to wonder where we got all the names of the demons who wrote letters to the 'zine from (I didn't know then that he was interested in that sort of thing, but recall he seemed a bit disappointed when I told him we made them all up).

The 'zine earned us the attention of John Tomlinson and Richard Starkings at Marvel UK and was one reason I got a job there in the 1980s. Happy days...

The Really Heavy Greatcoat - The Party 4

The power of personal e-mail marketing...

Some good news from my friend Lou Anders, Editorial Director at US publisher Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Last year Lou wrote plugging one of Pyr's authors, David Louis Edelman, whose novel Infoquake, described on National Public Radio this weekend as "yuppies from another planet" was being touted as the world's first "science fiction business thriller." Pyr billed it as "Dune meets the Wall Street Journal."

Lou explained "It's a different sort of book, and I wanted to push it beyond just touting it to the usual SF&F channels, so I did what I've never done for any of our other 29 titles and wrote personal emails to several hundred people."

Well, the power of personal marketing paid off. Barnes& just picked Infoquake as their number one title in their Editor's Choice: Top Ten SF&F Novels of 2006

Pyr are also publishers of the books at #4 (Sean Williams' mythic The Crooked Letter) and #6 (John Meaney's SF adventure Resolution) on the list, which is testament to the quality of the novel iteself, which is a terrific read, and Lou's hard work promoting the title over recent months.

Infoquake author Edelman, was interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition yesterday, along with writers TC Boyle (whose latest novel Talk Talk takes the subject of identity theft and treats it like a horror story), Charles Stross, who I mentioned recently, Jeff Vandermeer, and others. The piece, entitled "Writers Find New Fiction Source in Economic Genre" is now online in both RealAudio and Windows Media formats.

The 10-minute interview is an interesting piece with each author revealing the background to their recent work, with Boyle pointing out that the things that scare us change as society does and ID theft certainly terrifies many.

More interesting to me is the impact a personal e-mail marketing campaign can have, particularly as many indie comics creators often ask me for advice on getting their work "out there". It's another plus in favour of "social communities" others have been banging on about for ages, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, sites like ComicSpace, which I recently joined, ultimately have on the plus side for "small press" in the UK and elsewhere.

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