Archive for July 2011
Hermes Press takes a dip into the world of original content with the publication of “Lions,Tigers And Bears – Volume 3”, a completely new story in the award winning series by author Mike Bullock. Hermes, primarily known for its selection of library edition reprints of comic strips (The Phantom, Buck Rogers, Steve Canyon, Dark Shadows) and popular culture books (007, Supermarionation), is actively preparing to expand into the original graphic novel and comics market and even did a series of talent search interviews with aspiring artists and inkers at the recent San Diego Comic Con.
What It Is….
LT&B follows the adventures of Joey Price & Courtney Donlolley through a dreamworld where their collection of stuffed animals come to life to guide and protect them against creepy things that lurk under the bed or live in the closet. In this newest story Joey learns a serious lesson about being careful what you wish for. Joey’s ire at Courtney’s cousin, the taunting Beth, finds him wishing the Beasties would get her. When they do, he finds himself responsible for her rescue. Over course of the story the children, aided by their nocturnal companions including Ares the white tiger and Minerva the leopardess, come head to head with the toothsome monster Grillus and a group of evil pirates led by Scurvy. They also encounter the ghost of Captain Greybeard and his skeleton crew. The volume is rounded out by two Bullock scripted stories illustrated by Dan Hipp and Adam Van Wyck, which give shorter peeks into Joey’s night world of beasties and guardians.
Heralded by a dramatic Mike Ploog cover, the four chapter book is not so scary that children around 6 years of age can’t join the fun. Consider it the equivalent of a good old Disney style bump in the night. It’s no spoiler to say the good guys win, at least for now. The writing is much more literate than the standard cartoon fare found on cable TV these days and a nice introduction to the concept of graphic novels for the early reader. Parents and grandparents who may have previously suffered through some cringe-worthy juvenalia will appreciate this read-along as Bullock manages to infuse a layer of adult themes into the story as well.
The interior panel art by Michael Metcalf is beautifully rendered and scrumptiously colored. A favorite panel of mine casts Grillus and his beasties in a tableaux that approximates Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s iconic “Washington Crossing the Delaware”. I love sly little touches like that.
For those who want to catch up with the L,T & B mythos, Hermes Press also offers the previous stories in two equally nice volumes. Along the way Bullock’s stories deal with life lessons of self confidence, taking responsibility for your actions, and even the loss of loved ones. These books are keepers that I believe will find a place in the “life libraries” of the young people they should be gifted to.
Rock-A-Billy’s Reigning Queen And Princess
The original rock-a-billy fillie, Wanda Jackson, was joined by the genre’s newest spitfire Imelda May for a Central Park Summer Stage night of 50’s styled riffing and jiving on July 27, 2011. The ladies lit up a perfect mid-summer’s eve in the park and wowed the audience with a host of original and cover tunes formulated to get your pulse a-racing and your feet a-dancing.
Let’s Have A Party
Wanda’s early career mixed country with the then burgeoning rock of Elvis and Gene Vincent and deservedly earned her the title of “Queen of Rock-A-Billy” in the ensuing year’s. Aficionados of the style know her catalog well and you’ll find her tunes being spun along with The Cramps, Eddie Cochran and The Collins Kids wherever DA’s, poodle skirts and pegged pants are found on the dance floor. In 2009 she was honored with induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson has flowed through stylistic changes of country, rock-a-billy and southern gospel but she has never “left the building”. Artists like Rosie Flores have championed her in the past and now Mr. Jack White (“a nice young man”) has given the lady’s catalog a healthy injection by producing her most recent album. Aptly titled “The Party Ain’t Over”, a decades later nod to her 1960 radio hit “Let’s Have A Party”, which was the set closer on this show.
I’m thrilled to report Ms. Wanda has kept her pipes in perfect shape and it is a joy to hear her serving up a blue plate special of I – helped – invent – this, four – on – the – floor, stomp. She also kept her red fringe shimmying for the appreciative crowd. Her stories of touring with – and dating – Elvis are priceless. She still keeps the ring he gave her to wear around her neck. Her originals, like “Mean, Mean Man” and “Fujiyama Mama”, penned to fill the gap for female vocals in early rock, match Elvis’s better Sun Records output and rival Gene Vincent’s work for flat out hot-doggin’ fun. Both tunes were in her Central Park set.
Hot Dog, He Got Me Mad
The Hi – Dollars, led by Heath Haynes, backed Wanda marvelously, got a few opening numbers in for themselves to warm up the crowd, and produced some stop-on-a-dime turn around’s with a dose Fender twang, Gretsch sting and banging keyboards; everything cruising along on a bed of pumping stand up bass and drums. The set included two personal favorites, Johnny Kid’s “Shakin’ All Over” and Eddie Cochran’s “Nervous Breakdown”, the latter being the ur-seed for Led Zep’s “Living Lovin’ Maid” and the former sporting a lick that, though covered by every band from here to Timbuktu, never gets old. A run through “Rip It Up” was another highlight for the rock-a-billy centric crowd up near the stage.
Wanda made note of the sad passing of chanteuse Amy Winehouse this week. Lamenting the death of a talent so young and paid tribute with a rendering of Winehouse’s “You Know I’m no Good”. She also dipped into her own country and gospel roots for a few tunes, even slipped in a sweet blue yodel, giving the young audience a nice glimpse of how traditional sounds collided to give birth to Rock.
Darling Buds of (Imelda) May
Petite powerhouse Imelda May’s star has been on the rise internationally since her well publicized stint with Jeff Beck on his Les Paul Tribute Show (Eagle Vision DVD). There she ably emulated the late Mary Ford (Les’s wife), harmonizing with her own meticulously multi-tracked versions of “How High The Moon”, “Bye, Bye Blues”, “Vaya Con Dios”. Similarly her own band includes husband Darrel Higham on guitar. The group is steeped in outre and retro culture. On this night Imelda sported a slinky blue dress emblazoned with the sixties Batman TV show logo, double bass player Al was attired in leopard print shirt and bleached buzz cut, Darrell’s on big fat Gibson & Gretsch hollow bodies – just like Eddie. Imelda resisted the Betty Page bangs so prevalent on the scene for her own signature look; a big blonde curl in her raven hair.
The band’s Dublin Ireland roots come out when Imelda wields a Bodhran and bones beating out a pulse for the audience to clap along to. Along with her own numbers like the popular “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” May peppers the set with tunes like Howlin’ Wolf’s “Poor Boy” and the Northern Soul classic “Tainted Love”, which served as her firey finale number. The group presented a nice tight opening set, only missing one favorite of mine, their take on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”.
Double Mint Fun
As the audience clearly hoped both ladies took the stage for an un-staged version of Jerry Lee Lewis’s ”Whole Lotta Shakin Goin’ On”. “What key you do this honey?” “I’m following you.” You could see the mutual appreciation unfold as Wanda coached Imelda through the songs sly, sexy, spoken bit. “Now Imelda, my friend Jerry Lee tells me you can shake it just standin’ in one spot. Easy now… yeah, I think you got it”
Rock-A-Billy music will ring throughout the world as long as these ladies have something to do with it. Wanda and Imelda, long may you reign.
SkeletonPete Says: Get Off The Couch!
This free concert was a perfect double bill on a perfect New York summer night and is just one of the many shows offered by The City Parks Foundation and its sponsors. There is plenty more to come from Summerstage throughout the city. Check out their website for details. New Yorkers, time to leave reality TV for your own reality.
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