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September 10, 2007 monday
September 10th, 2007

Sunday I was at the Laguna Museum of Design admiring a show of the great psychodelic 60's artist Rick Griffen. Rick was a surfer turned Haight Ashbury acid head who's work adorned the first ZAP! comics and iconic album covers of the Doors, Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

But what brought back memories to me was his use of Speedball pen and the humble Rapidograph.

this is not Griffens of course, but Crumb. But why could I never crosshatch as good as this? Sigh,I guess I was always meant to be an animator.

Back in the 1970s, before Photoshop, before Painter or FLASH, when I and my fellow SVA mates were taking cartoon classes with Harvey Kurtzman and Will Eisner, the height of cool was to draw with a Rapidograph. Point .01, .001 and more. Pelikan pens from Germany especially. Drooling at the store window of Pearl Paint on Canal St, Brownes on 46th St. and Peck's Hobbies on 32nd and 5th.

I was forever cleaning clogs out of the thing. All of us in the student lounge jerking their pens up and down over our sketchbooks like tribal natives waving animist rattles to drive away bad Juju. But no, I must have used the wrong Higgins ink and now I need to soak the &*%$# nibs again. Scratching divits with the steel point into my illustration boards with my heavy hand, and clouds of Liquatex whiteout covering my errors, and my fingertips. This matched by blue-black middle finger from all the ink leaking out the front. Adding more and more crosshatching to each picture until they looked like a Brillopad with a cherrybomb in it. It was so much fun! Is this really how the Fabulou Freak Brothers started?

I don't know if they've invented a more civilized way to torture young cartoonists since my time. But here's a salute to all those who ever wielded a rapidograph in hopes of being the next Crumb or Neal Adams.

And remember Ruling Pens? Oh, don't get me started...!

Birthdays: Fae Wray, Yma Sumac ( Star of Brazilian jazz and crossword puzzles- real name Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo, from Ichocán, Peru. Descendent of Inca royalty), Ian Fleming, Raymond Scott (composer of songs Carl Stalling loved to score into Bugs Bunny cartoons) Margaret Trudeau, Amy Irving, Arnold Palmer, Charles Kuralt, Jose Feliciano, Karl Lagerfield, Steven Jay Gould, Chris Columbus, Colin Firth

1608- Captain John Smith elected leader of the Jamestown Colony. This advances the common adventurer over the heads of several gentlemen like President Wingfield and Captain’s Martin and Newport. But since they first landed in April the rigors of the Virginia wilderness proved that Smith knew best how to run the colony. In December he will meet Pocahontas and start singing Broadway tunes.

1907-The first Neiman Marcus dept. store opens in Dallas.

1940- During the Battle of Britain, Nazi bombs hit Buckingham Palace, just missing the Royal Family. The Queen later Queen-Mum said:"At last now I can look the East-enders in the face." RAF ace Sgt. Ginger Lacey volunteered to go up and get the bomber who did the bombing. In a London fog his Hurricane fighter caught up to the offending German Heinkell –111 bomber and shot it down., But his own plane was so shot up in the battle he had to bail out. His parachute caught in a tree and as Sgt, Lacey looked down he saw an old Englishman in a Home Guard helmet training a shotgun at him. He obviously thought he was a German. Lacey explained he wasn’t a Jerry but the old duffer remained unconvinced. He was preparing to fire when finally let loose a torrent of Anglo-Saxon invective "YOU STUPID GIT, YOU G*DDAM F**KING OLD WANKER! WAIT TILL I GET MY BLOODY ID CARD OUT, etc. The Old man then lowered his weapon with relief:" "Ere. He said:" Anyone who can swear like that, can’t be a German.."

1953 - Swanson Foods sells it's first "TV dinner"

1955- the t.v. series 'Gunsmoke' premiered.

1963- The First New York Film Festival opened with Luis Bunuel’s The Exterminating Angel.

1966- H& B's Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossible's debut.

1968- Hanna Barbera's Space Ghost and Dino Boy' debut.

1972- Premiere of the landmark tv special Liza with a Z. Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the one woman show of the spangled 23 year old.

1977- The last execution in France by guillotine. Hamidas Djandoubi a Tunisian immigrant and convicted murderer.

1978- The Communist Premier of Bulgaria, Tobor Zhivkov, asked the Soviet KGB to do something about dissident Georgyi Markov who was making embarrassing broadcasts to Bulgaria on London's Radio Free Europe. After a broadcast Markov left the BBC offices and strolled across Waterloo Bridge. A man bumped into him and poked him in the shin with his umbrella tip. He excused himself and moved on. Markov grew sick and died within 24 hours on this day. A tiny pellet smaller than a pinhead carrying poison was injected into Markov by a hypodermic needle concealed in the umbrella tip.

1981- Picasso's painting Guernica is at last returned to Spain.

1993- The t.v series The X Files premiered. The truth is out there.