Thursday, February 02, 2006

”Don’t Fulci Yourself!” sees Print in Italy, and -- “I Predict!” Amazing Criswell Back From the Dead...

Quote for the day:

”Frankly, I’m scared that something in this situation is terrifying!”

-- Charlotte Van Dine (Maria Eugenia San Martin) in K. Gordon Murray’s dub of Las Luchadoras Contra la Momia/Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy (1964).

So, Judge Alito puts his first Supreme Court ruling outta the ballpark! Who needs Mexican monster movies? What a weird, wild, wonderful world we live in! Way to go, Alito!

Smoky Man just sent me a scan of the cover art for the upcoming book on Lucio Fulci featuring my essay and two new pieces of Bissette art -- one by yours truly, one by my son Daniel -- and the painted cover (by an artist I’m not familiar with) looks pretty sharp. (Damn this archaic computer, this lack-of-high-speed access, this inability to post any images on this blog!)

The book is Lucio Fulci: Poeta del Macabro: Tributo a Fumetti (2006, Underground Press, Italy), edited by Claudio Calia, Massimo Perissinotto and Niccolo Storai -- though it was one of the contributors, Smoky Man, who invited myself and Daniel into the project. It’s Italian language only, but the art speaks for itself; for more info, check out
  • the Underground Press website,
  • though I don’t know if they’ve posted the cover as yet. I’ve got to print out a copy of the scan -- Dan is going to be so juiced when he sees this...

    I’ve been drawing for my own pleasure occasionally over the years, despite my utter indifference about drawing for print any longer, and am happy to report that it’s a gas to be teaching drawing at last to a group of enthusiastic students. This feels vital and alive and worthwhile.

    It wasn’t so much that I was nervous, mind you, as I didn’t know if my approach would provide the desired spark. I have a lot of knowledge to pass on, and I’m eager to do so while I’m still in my prime -- lucky me, in one regard, but I’m glad it’s all going into as worthy an endeavor as the CCS. Something good will come of it all.

    “Will this lead to published work in the comics arena?” I’ve already been asked, via email (responding to yesterday’s post). Don’t hold your breath.

    It really doesn’t matter to me any longer; I’ve kept my hand in illustrating book projects when invitations are extended, but that never registers in the so-called comics community. Nothing outside of the CCS that’s comics-related has interested me much (or promised anything in the way of income to prompt a change of mind). So, I occasionally find myself curiously eulogized as a sort of poster boy for failure rather than someone who did a lot of work for 25 years and then made a conscious decision to get the hell out. I suppose it’s easier to eulogize and act like I’m dead than to get into anything of substance.

    In his latest Comics Journal interview, my old comics associate Eddie Campbell once again uses me as a handy reference point for a form of artistic collapse or implosion, rather than withdrawal from the industry. I’ve become a career bookmark at best, at worst a tombstone. Have a pint and mind you don’t piss on the lillies, please. Ah, well, I don’t care about that shit, either: having been similarly caricatured now a couple of times by Eddie, still one of the best and a good fellow, and my perceived situation having coaxed onscreen tears from another comics associate of yore Colleen Doran, another one of the best, I guess it’s nice to be remembered at all, even if it’s for my absence rather than accomplishments. What a useless shell of ‘what I once was’ I’ve become (chuckle).

    It’s odd, a bit like getting a preview of the funeral I’ll miss somewhere down the road. How many of us get to sample that while the ol’ ticker is still ticking?

    Working on one of my many writing projects, I excavated one of my most beloved flea market finds, Criswell Predicts: From Now to the Year 2000 (1st ed. hc in dj, xlnt cond., for just a quarter! Droke House, 1968), and thought it might be amusing to pepper a couple weeks of posts with random Criswell predictions.

    For those of you who don’t know, Criswell was a fringe-Hollywood semi-celebrity. Criswell was on the radio, had a syndicated newspaper column, and occasionally popped up on Tonight with both Jack Parr and Johnny Carson. Today, though, silver-hair and silver-tongued Criswell is best known for his roles in his amigo Ed Wood’s films, from Plan Nine From Outer Space to the Wood-scripted Orgy of the Dead; he was played by Jeffrey Jones in Tim Burton’s affectionate biopic Ed Wood. Renowned for his outrageous, absurd predictions, Criswell hit psychic paydirt when he predicted Ronald Reagan would be the next governor of California -- and it happened. Criswell stumbled into a few accurate predictions, like this one (to be read with Criswell’s distinctive ham-boned oratory style resonating madly in your head):

    ”I Predict... that Broadway plays will soon have casts entirely in the nude and depiction of the sex act, normally or perverted, will not be unusual. This will mark a renewal of legitimate theater for it will mean that such acts may be portrayed in theater before they will be portrayed in movies. However, Broadway’s exclusive franchise shall not last long. Soon movies will follow Broadway. There will be movie houses specializing in such movies operating openly in the U.S..”

    When Criswell wrote that, nudies and roughies were as explicit as movies could be, and Hair and O! Calcutta! hadn’t yet opened on stage. For once, he had it right: in the wake of a number of popular stage successes featuring live nudity and simulated intercourse, the breakthrough Deep Throat (1972) briefly legitimized hardcore sexual features, and for a time XXX features proliferated, extending the life of many a ‘nabe’ and grindhouse downtown movie theater.

    But more often than not, Criswell was waaaaaaaaay off in a tubular zone: the atomic destruction of Vermont on Feb. 11, 1981; Mao Tse Tsung’s death in 1971; a catastrophic national cemetary shortage in 1980; in March of 1990, Nevada will host the “very first Interplanetary Convention... with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation,” and so on.

    It’s Criswell’s most outrageous predictions I’ll pepper you with here for the coming week. We’ll kick off and cap off with this gem, circa 1967:

    ”I Predict... that Oregon will be the state selected for the Federal Government’s Mental Illness Complex, the largest mental sanitariums in the world. Construction will begin in 1978. By 1980, all state mental hospitals will be abolished and all committed mental patients will be sent to the new Mental Health Complex in Oregon.”

    Hmmmmm, maybe that explains Dark Horse Comics?

    I Predict... I’m outta here!