MINGERING MIKE: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF SOUL MUSIC’S GREATEST SUPERSTAR YOU NEVER HEARD

This piece was originally published January 16th, 2012.

Mingering Mike Post TemplateThe true story of Mingering Mike is as unbelievable and gloriously happily, as it is also sadly believable and poignantly bittersweet.

For a period of time there was little this amazingly talented Giant of Soul Music, with his touch of gold, did not turn into a massive success.

“Between 1968 and 1977 Mingering Mike recorded over fifty albums, managed thirty-five of his own record labels, and produced, directed and starred in nine of his own motion pictures. In 1972 alone he released fifteen LPs and over twenty singles, and his traveling revue played for sold out crowds the world over.”

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MAIL-ORDER MYSTERIES!

This piece was originally published January 3rd, 2012.

Count Dante Post TemplateIf you were a kid that grew up in the late ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s or even well into the ’80s, and you’re reading this, I would say that there is a pretty good chance that you also sat for many hours in front of the television set watching cartoons, sitcoms and action/adventure series, listened to music, and spent considerable hours reading comic books (and MAD Magazine! ). 

All this pop culture most assuredly helped to formulate a generation or two that really saw their creative imaginations run wild, and their youthful desires and wishes expand beyond even that of their older siblings who were brought up in the first crazy period of teenage rebellion known as the earlier Rock and Roll generation.


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SEAN HARTTER’S FILM POSTERS FROM ALTERNATE UNIVERSES

This piece was originally published November 21st, 2011.

SH Post TemplateSean Hartter is a prolific comic book artist, illustrator, writer and musician hailing from Massachusetts.

Among his many accomplishments and talents, Sean’s work has included writing and drawing a story for a Mexican comic book, contributing artwork for issues of the U.K. based Cereal: Geek Magazine, composing and releasing music under the group name Brothermaniac, working with the syndicated horror television show Saturday Fright Special and creating a character called Nobody the Idiot, which since 2007 has been drawn by a zillion artists as part of an ongoing project.


More recently, Sean has been designing film posters that allow him the ultimate freedom to recast and re-imagine some of his favorite films in ways that are both colorfully thought up, but also very skillfully reworked.


Incredibly fascinating and as clever in scope as you’d ever dream of, it is with these wonderful and truly fantastic “posters of alternate universes” as the subject, that I talked with Sean Hartter here at Mystery Box H.Q.
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TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE: VOLUME ONE BY MICHAEL KUPPERMAN

This piece was originally published August 29th, 2011.

Thrizzle Post TemplateHere at The Mystery Box H.Q. I often enjoy pulling a release out of the past, just in case you might have missed it the first time around. Everyone tries to be on top of new releases, but often going back a bit has a multitude of rewards and can be a new discovery for someone who will then embrace it and in turn tell others how great it is.

Such is the case here…

When you come across a writer or a cartoonist’s work that has you laughing out loud to the point of shaking your head in disbelief that anything could be so astronomically funny, you just want to share it with the world.

Such is the case with Michael Kupperman, an American illustrator, cartoonist and writer that has written scripts for D.C. Comics, contributed to various anthologies such as McSweeney’s, has had work animated for Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse and has graced the pages of The Wall Street JournalThe N.Y. Times and The New Yorker, to name only a few of his many achievements.

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CY TWOMBLY 1928-2011

This piece was originally published August 1st, 2011.

Cy Twombly Post Template

There’s a book by art historian Christiane Weidemann, that was published in 2010 and turns up in a variety of places, from chain bookstores to Urban Outfitters.

It’s one of those overview, pleasant types of books that sits well alongside other informational reference books or makes for great bedtime reading.

This series, by a variety of authors, is entitled, 50 _ You Should Know, and allows a newcomer or even anyone with even more than a passing interest in the arts, a chance to learn more and focus in on the subjects without trying to reach too far or encompass too wide a chronological span of art history, which can be far too overwhelming.

The range of titles include 50 Paintings You Should Know (for ex. The Mona Lisa), 50 Photographers You Should Know, 50 Architects You Should Know, 50 Women Artists You Should Know and in this particular case the one by Weidemann the one entitled 50 Modern Artists You Should Know.

 
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Cy Twombly is one of those 50 Modern Artists You Should Know.

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Drew Friedman’s TOO SOON?: 15 Years of Even More Genius

This piece was originally published November 23rd, 2010. Drew Friedman Tor Post Icon

One day, the gods of all ART great and marvelous, finally will decide to roll out their lengthy gilded achievement banner listing cartoonists, illustrators and caricaturists. This banner will have been imprinted (in a Ben-Day dots process) with all the names of those who have been creatively talented beyond the skills of mere mortal men and women.

Without a doubt, near the top of this list of illustrious souls, residing among the gloriously renown names of Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Basil Wolverton, Jim Steranko, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Robert Crumb among others, will be the name…

Drew Friedman.

For, as R. Crumb so eloquently has written, “I wish I had this guy’s talent.”

I have been a huge fan of Drew Friedman’s work for some 30 years now. Ever since I first laughed in astonishment at the panels that he and his equally talented brother, writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman (subject of a future Mystery Box column) came up with for inclusion in the seminal RAW Graphix Magazine, beginning with issue #1 in 1980.

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RAW Volume 1, Number 1 (July 1980) Continue reading, please click here…

A TRIP TO EDWARD GOREY’S ELEPHANT HOUSE

This piece was originally published September 28th, 2010.

Edward Gorey Post IconIt was decided that after being a fan of the works of Edward Gorey for more than thirty years, it was high time that The Mystery Box Field Expedition Team would finally visit his home, which is affectionately called Elephant House.


 

 

I couldn’t have been more excited for this chance to see first-hand what was now turned into a museum and thankfully, a living, breathing and ongoing exhibit of both his multitude of creations. Here you can experience Gorey creations such as The Gashlycrumb Tinies (they are also scattered through the house like a scavenger hunt), The Doubtful Guest, his animated sequences for the PBS series Mystery! plus, the everyday objects that he collected and lived among. The objects that almost invariably turned into inspirations for all his works.



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MY TOP 10 ALBUM COVER CRUSHES

This piece was originally published May, 2010

Heart Shaped Vinyl LP Post IconAs a very young music aficionado, I spent countless hours holding and analyzing vinyl LP cover art and I am far from alone in this pastime.

The format was always so perfect for viewing in fact, that to this day there has been a resurgence for collecting vinyl LP’s. Record collector’s and music fans worldwide are enjoying both older records and newly pressed reissues. there is a non-stop flow of newly pressed vinyl product constantly being released. Partly due to the overall sound quality inherent in the physical medium, partly the fact that many of today’s fans were not around to experience first-hand the time when vinyl was king of the castle but are still loving the bands of the era, but primarily for most fans, it just makes sense to hold and look at a treasured work of art in your hands that has a larger scale than a CD, a cassette, or hell, even an 8 track tape ever had.

My move through vinyl started with small 45 R.P.M. records with their accompanying storybooks for kid fare such as The Little Match Girl, The Tin Soldier (incredibly dismal when I think of them now) and a variety of Marvel and D.C. comic superhero tales. Then it was on to fantastic singles by The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, Chuck Berry and The Electric Light Orchestra.

Meanwhile my LP format started with such wondrous family hand me downs as classics from Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, and a variety of other great lounge, psychedelic and British Invasion gems. Adding to the pile were bad ass James Bond soundtracks and some good old Redd Foxx “Blue Humor” comedy oddities that provided plenty of kid-time guffaws and snickers for me and my pals. We listened endlessly (and with my friend’s parents approval in fact) to Redd’s You Gotta Wash Your Ass!—still in print after all these years!

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Joe Shuster and Superman’s “Other” Secret Identity

This piece was originally published December 7th, 2009.

Henchman IconThe story is all too familiar: Artists, no matter what the creative medium they choose to work in, need to make money to pay their bills.

Throughout a career, there are doubtlessly going to be the periods when financial struggle necessitates employment at something that is not all that desirable and has little connection to making their beloved art.

Sure some folks are born lucky and comfortable, with money handed down from the heavens and carted over in golden wheel-barrels, or they have some otherwise solid financial situation that can carry into the later years of a charmed life. Well, these lucky souls managed to find that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For many however, there is a path strewn with extremely hard work, intense focus, constant devotion and a lifetime of dedication to the craft, despite the highs and lows of any recognition and just getting paid.

So what if you happened to co-create one of the most well known comics’ characters known in the history of the 20th Century. Do you think that even this feat this would guarantee a soft cushion on the settee of lifelong prosperity and carefree worry?

For Joel Shuster, the co-creator of Superman, it didn’t…


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IRVING PENN: PHOTOGRAPHER (1917-2009)

This piece was originally published october 12th, 2009 Irving Penn Icon Irving Penn will always be a name that is listed among the greatest of art history’s most important and recognizable photographers. He is imitated by many, and many are those who more than likely have little idea of just what an archetype his photographic style is.
Penn’s influence forever impacted the mediums of fashion, portraiture, editorial design, product photography, advertising, television. Subsequently, this laid the groundwork for the contemporary idea of a subject photographed as a beautiful work to be admired without the need for extemporaneous elements. 

Among these many achievements, he is renowned for his longtime work that appeared in the illustrious Vogue—a relationship that began in the 1940’s. Penn also was husband to one of his, and Vogue’s famous models, Lisa Fonssagrives. She became one of the more popular “clothes hangers” of the ’30s, 40’s and ’50s—one of history’s first supermodels.  It was upon opening his first photography studio in 1953 that Penn stated what would become one of the most profound, influential and fundamental components for all his life’s work, “Photographing a cake can be art.” Penn’s primary method was sublimely straightforward and deceptively simplistic—usually photographing a subject against a simple gray, white or black background—in the barest of a studio setting. His light sources maximized the crispness and sharp focus he brought out of his subjects, yet never did his lighting seem harshly artificial. This method allowed a viewer to concentrate solely on a subject without distraction. Whether Penn was photographing a celebrity, a still life of cigarette butts, or an ethnographic study of the indigenous people of some remote village in New Guinea, all became a model in the world of high fashion.

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Irving Penn: In a Cracked Mirror (Self Portrait), New York, 1986

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