I don’t really follow what is up with comic books now that I am in China and the whole comic book culture here does not exist really except for a few small shops that carry some of the Manga type stuff from Japan, which I really never have cared too much for despite my efforts. I do follow a few people still and read on comic book history more now that there is so much information available online. Like my movies most of my comic book taste is old school and you can’t get much more old school than Robert Crumb. In 2009 he finished up perhaps his most daunting single project of his prolific career with his cartoon retelling of one of the most famous books of all time, the Book of Genesis from The Bible. He spent more than four years on the project and kept to the original text for inspiration. Not sure if any particular translation was preferred but all fifty books are there and has all the great stories that even non-Christians should know and have some regard for. The drawings are the things of course and they never wane or weaken as the book goes on. This guy can still draw circles in his sleep (if he ever sleeps) around the formula fan boy stuff that permeates the comic book world these days. Just plain old fashioned, painstakingly good artwork. Included here are a few samples and a Rapidshare link to my RS site for those with no guilt or shame about getting stuff for free even if is stuff form The Bible. It is a massive work and so I had to break it up into three files.
When I first started buying comic books it was about 1970 or so and like any good boy of the time I gravitated towards the Marvel titles. Other than Batman and the mystery/horror titles I never had much to do the DC comic books of the time unless they were drawn by Neil Adams. But I must have bought nearly every Marvel title during a period of about three or four years there. If there was one artist I had to choose out of all the great ones I admired that stood out from the pack it would have to be Barry Smith (later Barry Windsor Smith). His early work, and even the first couple issues of Conan, seemed pretty derivative of Jack Kirby and that would be an uncommon thing for the time. Even the great Jim Steranko was nothing but a Kirby clone for the longest time. But, In my opinion, by issue three of Conan the Barbarian he was finding his own direction and as the series progressed he would be drawing in a style that simply no one was working with or had prior to him in the mainstream comic book field. I always had some reservations about Sal Buscema’s (John’s younger brother) inks over Smith’s pencils but even those improved as well over time so that the pair turned out some of the best work done by Marvel at the time, or any time to be honest. Marvel branched out into the b/w magazine field and one title was Savage Sword of Conan, which featured two of Smith’s best works; The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Red Nails, both rendered entirely by Smith. Both were a couple of the best adaptations of the Robert E. Howard hero ever put to pen and paper.
Smith would have a long and convoluted career that involved a breaking away from Marvel and its cooperate power structure and, among other things, a venture in a period of artwork that he and pals Bernie Wrightson, the late Jeff Jones and Michael Kaluta, termed New Romanticism. The work from this period was anything but comic book art for Smith. He would continue to work for mainstream publishers and his story is too complex to get into in this little brief intro. But much of his career and private life would be chronicled in the books Opus I and II, along with choice samples of some of his best work. I put together two Rapidshare files. One features the complete Red Nails story (thanks to the Groove Agent over at the culturally significant Diversions of the Groovy Kind for sending me the jpegs to work with) and both Opus books. I had considered putting up all the Conan the Barbarians books as well that I have here but figured I can do that another day if there is any interest shown in these items. The files are CBR and you will need a reader like the free CDisplay to view them. These are simply mind boggling books. If even one person wants the Smith Conan comics from Marvel I will get working on a file for that.
This is the 1985 soundtrack -sans incidental music- from the Michael Winner film Scream for Help. Winner had asked neighbor Jimmy Page to score the film for him but Page had commitments with other projects, including The Firm, and suggested to Winner that Zeppelin bass player and keyboardist John Paul Jones score the film with his newly installed 24-track digital recording studio. I have never seen the film actually and am not sure how the music works in with what is going on in the movie. It is on my list of films to see one day. Helping out on the album is former bandmate Jimmy Page, Yes frontman Jon Anderson, Swan Song Records recording artist Maggie Bell and folk guitarist John Renbourn. The album sounds more like a solo rock album than a soundtrack album. Unlike the Page album there are no examples of incidental -or background- music o the album -though Winner had an orchestra perform much of the score used in the film as well-and that is too bad. The album when on vinyl was a rarity and I was lucky enough it have found it and owned it (as I did the equally rare Death Wish II soundtrack- back when I collected and owned vinyl. Two samples, both featuring Jimmy Page on guitar- are presented here and if you like what you hear you can follow the link to my Rapidshare account and get the entire album and check it out for yourselves.
Track listing Side One 1. “Spaghetti Junction” Jones 5:01 2. “Bad Child” Jones, Jacinda Baldwin 5:46 3. “Silver Train” Jones, Anderson 3:48 4. “Crackback” Jones, Page 4:16 Side Two 1. “Chilli Sauce” Jones 4:59 2. “Take It or Leave It” Jones, Madeline Bell 4:28 3. “Christie” Jones 3:08 4. “When You Fall in Love” Jones, Jacinda Baldwin 3:36 5. “Here I Am” Jones, Simon Bell 4:43
Line-up/Musicians John Paul Jones – Keyboards, synthesiser, bass guitar, guitars, vocals Jimmy Page – Electric guitars (1 & 4) Jon Anderson – Vocals (3, 7) Madeline Bell – Vocals (6, 9) John Renbourn – Acoustic guitars (8) Graham Ward – Drums and percussion (4,7,8,9) Colin Green – Guitars (7,9)
Jimmy Page was asked by neighbor and film director Michael Winner if he would be interested in scoring his 1982’s Death Wish II and Page accepted the project, being as Led Zeppelin was now history following the death of drummer John Bonham. 1974’s original, and pretty good, Death Wish was scored by jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock. Page does not try to top the versatile Hancock and instead does a Zeppeliesque rock/blues solo album with a few tracks of incidental music. The album was recorded in his SOL studios and features a collection of musician friends. The album is a strange piece of music overall but not in a negative way. Page uses ample Roland guitar synthesizers as well as actual synths. Reputedly some of the score was revisions of Page’s Lucifer Rising soundtrack which was never used for the Kenneth Anger film due to personal conflicts. I have that soundtrack and there are similarities in pieces like Hotel Rats and Photostats and A Shadow in the City, but I would say not really all that much. The incidental music is droning and eerie while the rock parts are straight ahead jams and classic Page riffing. The album went nowhere as far as the charts are concerned and only Page aficionados seem to even know the album was ever made. Too bad.
I once had the album back when I owned vinyl and after that I could never find it on CD though it was released in 1999, but soon went out of print. I found this copy someone made on a BT from their vinyl and you can hear a few pops though really it is a clean sound. Page would shortly form The Firm with Paul Rodgers and go through a long period of doing pretty good rock albums but nothing near the power of his Led Zeppelin material. Death Wish II was his first solo outing and an album sadly forgotten really by one of the great guitar players and composers in rock history. If you are a Page fan you want this. I am and I think it is a good album with some things Page had never done before in Zeppelin. For example, check out Carol’s Theme, a nice acoustic guitar with lush strings (synthed I am sure). You should be able to download the tracks if you want. I found the movie to be a little forgettable – but there were some good scenes of punks getting wasted by a more seasoned Paul Kersey (Charels Bronson) – as well as the subsequent sequels. I still enjoy the first movie. Zeppelin bassist/keyboardist John Paul Johns scored a Michael Winner film called after Page decided not to do another soundtrack and was joined by Jimmy and Yes vocalist Jon Anderson for a couple good tracks. I have never seen the film but would like to and that soundtrack will be available here shortly.
Here are two choice samples from the album with a few seconds trimmed off the end so they qualify as samples as my hosting service (though I am working on figuring out out some sort of workaround so that I can host full length songs there with less fear of them being removed). Jam Sandwich is a Zeppelin style riff oriented rocker while Hotel Rats and Photostats is more of an incidental music style piece featuring Page on synthesizers. If you like what you hear then follow the Rapidshare link and download the entire album and enjoy. So mote be it.
Anyone who grew up on the Warren Magazines of the 70’s period knows of the main titles of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirilla and of course Famous Monsters of Filmland. The company actually did several other one shot titles or short run titles, many going back into the mid-sixties (like Screen Thrills Illustrated and Spacmen). I now have many of these in digital format and will share some samples from some of these more obscure Warren titles of now and then. I will sometimes be offering a Rapidshare link as well for people who may want to check out the books more thoroughly. Such will be the case with this post’s feature mags, Warren’s much sought after four issue run of Blazing Combat.
Blazing Combat ran from October 1965 to July 1966. Each issue was 64 pages in size and cost a whopping .35 cents. The books were patterned after the EC titles Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales, created by Harvey Kurtzmen and contained stories that often emphasized the horrors of war over the glories. Not to say, in my opinion, that the war comics by DC or Marvel glorified war but I do think some of those comics had “heroes” in the form of characters like Sgt. Rock and Jeb Stuart and to some degree Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos, though the Nick Fury Stories were basically “superhero” stories really. The Warren stories were one shot stories without a recurring character or theme. The stories were war stories but the wars were from various periods of history and few really focused on the then escalating Vietnam conflict. But the magazine’s anti-war stance during this period may have sealed its early demise as sales declined to a point where the book was losing money. Distributers were refusing to even stack the magazine and finally publisher James Warren had to make the decision to pull the plug on the boo after only four issues. But what a great four issue run it was. All with spectacular covers by Frank Frazetta and interior art by some of the great action artiists of all time: Russ Heath, John Severin, Reed Crandell, Al Williamson and Gene Colan. The stories were all (except for one) written by Archie Goodwin.
I actually owned all of these in two different forms. I got them first time mail order from the back of some Warren Magazine and after those were lost I found them all again in a comic store in Seattle and picked them all up again. I later gave them away, with my entire comic book collection, when I left the US for China. By that time, to be honest, I just was not into collecting and hording comic books. Yu can’t be a vagabond and lug thousands of comic books and LPs around with you I found. While seeing the books in digital format is not like seeing the “real thing” (some debate over constitutes a real thing, but there is still nothing like touching and smelling paper to me) this is the next best thing and these books are only getting more obscure and hard to find and afford. I am posting the four fantastic Frazetta covers, a sample story by the super talented Russ Heath and a Rapidshare to my RS account where you can download all four issues in their entirety. There will, as I said, more features like this with comic books and magazines and I think there is no better way to start of this feature than with this simply spectacular magazine from Warren Publishing.
I have been hearing about the infamous falling out between Led Zeppelin maestro Jimmy Page and filmmaker, writer Kenneth Anger for decades now. Sadly the only the material I can find on the net still seems to the same variety of articles that appeared in rock fan magazines back in the seventies. This is actually one of the few great legends in the world that I have some sort of direct connection with. Well, in a sort of indirect direct way. I saw Page with Zeppelin back in 1977 in Ohio, and briefly met Anger at a book signing at the wondrous Scarecrow Video store in Seattle, where he signed my special copy of Hollywood Babylon with the Aleister Crowley quote Do What Thou Wilt from The Book of the Law. I had a nice little collection of Crowley books at one time, though I doubt it could compare to the collection by Anger and of course the filthy rich Jimmy Page who was reputed to have had at one time the 2nd largest collection of Crowley books and memorabilia in the world, including Crowley’s Boleskin House, perched on the cheery shores or Loch Ness in Scotland. It was one of three fantastic houses a then young Page owned (all have since been sold I believe). He also owned a house in the Kensington district of London called The Tower House, designed by Victorian architect and formally owned by Richard Harris, and it is in this house I believe that the drama between Anger and page unfolded.
Anger had long been inside the rock circle for some time, in part due to his avant garde (a fancy word for confusing usually) films such as Scorpio Rising which had a score of old rock music that actually prevented the film from being shown publicly for decades due to copy write issues. He met Anita Pallenberg who was seeing soon to be deceased Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones. She would later become Keith Richards’s common law wife. The Stones took a liking to Anger and his liberated views and vast knowledge of occult matters, and in particular his passion for British occultist Aleister Crowley. Their public image would shift from Brit bad boys to decadent and sinister rockers during their time with Anger. Jagger would even score an Anger film called Invocation of My Demon Brother. I have seen the film and it is a really horrendous soundtrack in my opinion. Some repetitive experimental sounds on what sounds like an early Moog synthesizer.
Jimmy Page had developed his own interest in matters occult and with Crowley in particular. He owned an occult bookstore called the Equinox and, as mentioned, out bidded other rock dignitaries like David Bowie in the purchasing of Boleskin Manor. Page and Anger met at an auction of Crowley memorabilia in about 1973 and a friendship was formed. Anger asked Page if he would be interested in scoring his latest and most ambitious film project Lucifer Rising (or whatever the working title may have been) and Page enthusiastically accepted. Anger was allowed access to a film editing facility in the basement area of the Tower House that was set up to edit scenes for The Song Remains the Same, the Led Zeppelin concert film. Exactly what the reasons for Jimmy’s alleged loss of interest in the project are depend on what source you are reading. A lot of things were said later in the press that seemed fueled by resentment on both men’s part. Essentially after a period of time the friendship began to cool off and Anger returned to one day to find himself locked out of the lower area of the house he was working in. The rest of the house was off limits to Anger. It seems there was a domestic quarrel between Page and his girlfriend (perhaps Charlotte) the night before and it was she who locked Anger out. Anger could not reach Page and Swan Song offices did not communicate with him. He gathered his belongings and called the offices to inform them Page was fired as the film’s composer. In interviews following the incident Anger blamed Page’s lack of productivity (after more than year he had produced only 23 minutes of music that Anger found too morbid) on his increasing use of heroin. In some interviews (there is a brief on youtube) Anger does not seem that bitter and says Page is a beautiful person who has let his drug use get control of him. In other he has also said Page has a good work ethic, but that he had basically became a junky and now behaves like a junky in unpredictable ways.
Page seemed surprised by his firing and has said he had been kept busy with Zeppelin matters and thought Anger was happy with the music he had so far produced and that he had more. Page was less hostile in press statements than Anger was (what do you think with a name like that, right? Though he was born Kenneth Wilber Anglemyer) but seemed disappointed. The simple truth is that Page did have a drug problem and it did affect his decisions and performances in later Zeppelin periods. Too what degree that affected this situation we can only speculate.
Anger would eventually get the help of ex-protogee Bobby Beausoleil in getting a finished soundtrack for the film. This was no simple task since Beausoleil had been a California prison since 1969 for a Mansion Family related murder, though not of Sharon Tate. A soundtrack was released in the early eighties on Anger’s own Boleskin House Records, catalog number BHR666 and was limited to a release of 1000 copies on clear blue vinyl and these are considered almost priceless now to vinyl collectors.
Well, I have linked the song here from my Internet Archive page and you can be the judge of it. Page plays all the instruments, including guitars, ARP synthesizers, percussion and the theremin (or sometimes theramin, the music instrument over used in old sci-fi flicks that responds to body temperature and motion). There is some vocal section near the beginning area that sounds like the chorus in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the apes are flipping out around the monolith. The intro to In the Evening from In Through the Out Door is supposed to from some of the recording sessions. It has also been said that some of the incidental music from Death Wish II was based on what Page was working on during the Lucifer Rising sessions. For years I had always heard of this mentioned to as “The Black Album” and it was the substance of myth. Along with the myth of the album were the myriad rumors that began during this period of the late seventies that Jimmy’s involvement in black magic had led to the bands misfortunes, such as the death of Robert Plant’s son, Robert’s serious car accident, Page’s health issues and declining ability to work and perform as he once had and finally the death of John Bonham at Page’s house. These rumors and legend still persist in the history of the band. Both Page and Anger, as far as I can tell, got over their period of conflict and moved on with their lives though the friendship was over. In later interviews the men had good things to say about each other and any mention of a black magic curse is done tongue in cheek by the both of them.
Here is the album in it’s entirely with a link to my Rapidshare account if you want to downlaod it. I do not know if in the end the music stands up to the legends that surround it, but it is certainly something worth hearing once and something Pagephiles must own.