Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Retro Waste

Here is a great web database for "all things vintage." Great photographs here and a wealth of interesting trivia. Check it out when you've got some time to waste.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pinball Art of Gordon Morison

One of my favorite artists is Gordon Morison (not to be confused with the botanical illustrator Gordon Morrison), who is mostly known for pinball machine art. I became acquainted with his work from the app Pinball Underground, which I play on my Kindle Fire. Something about the art for the game "Genie" spoke to me, and it wasn't just the buxom Caucasian-looking Arabic women. Morison's style reminds me of one of my favorites, Alex Raymond, who did the old Flash Gordon strip. He also reminds me of a more psychedelic John Buscema. Morison also worked in advertising, but his tendency to "borrow" art led to him being asked to leave at least one company. Morison worked on about 200 machines for Gottlieb, the pinball wizards of the 1970s. I like this retro look, somewhere between the old pulp serials and the "maximalist" LSD-inspired art of the 1970s. Here are a few of my favorite Morison pieces.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Adventures of Richard Hannay

While reading Philip Jose Farmer's Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, I came across a reference to a cool-sounding hero of fiction called Richard Hannay. He's the star character of The 39 Steps, which I'd heard of as a Hitchcock film. A little research indicated the Hannay novels are among the first "modern" espionage novels. They were written by this fellow, who seems pretty interesting himself. Amazon offers a $1 six-pack of the Hannay novels. So far I've read The 39 Steps, Greenmantle, and Mr. Standfast. There are numerous film and television versions of the character - the first, the Hitchcock film, starred Robert Donat (left). 

Hannay is a sort of proto-Bond, whose occasional mistakes and self-doubt are always overcome with a stiff upper lip. He has an uncanny knack of extricating himself from impossible conundrums. He never sought a career as an agent of the British crown - he's more of a big-game hunter and soldier, and he sort of falls ass-backward into his first adventure. He's also not above an occasional racist comment. Nevertheless, he's a resourceful, likeable protagonist. The novels read very quickly and easily, and approach a more modern, clipped, rat-a-tat-tat tone we'd see in the pulps that followed Hannay's adventures (the first was written in 1915).

If you have the time or inclination, and would like to start on a campaign of espionage reading, why not start at the beginning of the 1900s with our good friend Hannay? I can guarantee a pretty good time. There is a lot of really cool information about Hannay the character - and all the actors who have portrayed him - right here.