Monday, August 24, 2009

Rio Bravo

In 1959, right around my birthday, a movie was released called Rio Bravo. John Wayne was at that time one of those generational hangovers between the thirties generation and the boomers. Baby-faced Ricky Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet), who played a stone-cold killer, sang a few songs as a sop to the kiddies and the bubble-gummers who might be bored by all the craggy faces of the “Greatest” generation.

I attended with an older brother and his cynical thirteen year old friends, one of whom threw a wad of gum at Ricky Nelson, onscreen, to a chorus of appreciative teenage boos. As sweet and treacley as Ricky Martin’s personality was he did master the double gun twirl which he pulled off with much aplomb. Elvis had sacrificed his sideburns and ducktail for a respectable army crew-cut the previous year in 1958 and radio (except for a few talented bands like Dion and the Belmonts), was a bland wasteland of pimply teenage idols who sold millions to adoring tweeny fans.

Walter Brennan, star of TV’s Real McCoys, and a best selling recording artist on “Old Rivers,” played Stumpy, John Wayne’s cantankerous sidekick, bringing some much needed comic relief to an otherwise bleak film of alcoholism and violence. Like John Wayne, Republican Walter Brennan would become persona non grata to the hippie left of the oncoming sixties. Dean Martin as well, the drunken bugger insulted rock royalty when he ridiculed the Rolling Stones on his show in 1964.

As sidekicks go, though, Brennan was one of the best of a group of comic men that included Gabby Hayes, Chill Wills, Andy Devine and Slim Pickens. When Slim Pickens was gutshot in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and staggered off to a Bob Dylan dirge, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, was that Peckinpah’s tribute to the passing of the “American Sidekick?” At any rate Brennan’s voice was unforgettable; he was one of the funniest sidekicks in the movie business. John Wayne teased Stumpy unmercifully, and he limped through the movie in a permanent state of grumpy, bruised, hurt feelings.

Dell Comics (“are good comics”) released a comic book adaptation of the movie, illustrated by the prolific Alex Toth, as they did every Hollywood film and television show in that period, from Santiago to Quentin Durward. The artists worked from movie stills provided by the studios and yet I noticed they never seemed to capture likenesses that well.

Dell, in keeping to their “Pledge to Parents,” that their comic magazines contained only “clean and wholesome entertainment,” left the blood out of the following scene. In the film it was the dripping blood that alerts the town drunk, played by Martin, that a cowpoke in the rafters has a bead on him. The blood was crucial to the film but left out of the adaptation.

The adaptation was actually quite well scripted, in 32 pages little of the plot of the film was left out. None of the actors, however, was portrayed in a very recognizable way. The worst were Walter Brennan, who bears no resemblance to the grizzled sidekick, and Angie Dickinson, likewise. Could be they had to make do without a movie still of that actress. Toth may have been a dud as a caricaturist of celebrities but his impressionistic artwork was up to his usual standards.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cultural Aspects of Serial Cartoons

“It may almost be set down as a law of cultural history that the vulgar amusements of today are the highbrow art of tomorrow.”

Some Cultural Aspects of Serial Cartoons; or, Get a Load of those Funnies, by Ignatius G. Mattingly, Harper’s Magazine 1954.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

James Lindridge

Investigating the obscure and often mysterious origins of the authors of penny bloods can be very pleasing when you discover some unknown bit of information; on the other hand it can also lead to bewildered frustration. One of the most mysterious and elusive authors of all is James Lindridge, author of “Tyburn Tree,” a rattling penny blood which featured the colorful characters of Blueskin, Jonathan Wild, Captain Jem Macleane, Captain Fury, Dick Flybynight and the Black Gang, Sal the Gonoff, Blackmoor, Captain Grawler, Gipsey Betty, Jenny Diver, Handsome Jack, Lawyer Doom, Beauty Ellis, Tramping Ned, Mother Sin, and the alchemist Dr. Trotter.

I took the following notes from the copy I read;

Tyburn Tree; or, The Mysteries of the Past, by J. Dicks, Esq. Author of “The Old Manor House” &c., &c. Beautifully Illustrated. London : G. Purkess, Compton Street, Soho ; and all booksellers. 44 parts, single column, 358 pages.

The artist was not named but it was definitely W. H. Thwaites, illustrator of Pierce Egan Junior’s Robin Hood and G. W. M. Reynolds’s Mysteries of London published by John Dicks. In the gutters were squibs advertising :

“Now Publishing. The King of the Beggars; or, Bampflyde Moore Carew by G. Purkess.”
“Jack Rann ; Alias Sixteen String Jack, By G. Purkess. No. 2 Given away with No.1.”
“The Corsican Brothers. In penny numbers.”

The author of the British Library copy of Tyburn Tree; or, the Mysteries of the Past is given as Jayhohenn DEEHISEEKAYESS Esq., pig-Latin for John Dicks. The publisher was R. S. Swift: London.1849. UCLA has a copy and this note; “attributed to James Lindridge, cf. Summers, Montague. A gothic bibliography. London [1941]” A contemporary, Thomas Frost, author of the above mentioned Corsican Brothers, was first to attribute Tyburn Tree to Lindridge.

Lately while perusing the periodicals of the past I came across the following paragraph :

Society for the Encouragement of Vice. -

“It is with strong feelings of disgust we notice a Society instituted for such an infamous purpose; but it is a fact that a club, consisting of between 30 and forty fellows, having a Treasurer, President, Stewards, &c. is established to defray in common the charges which any member may incur by bastardy (sic). We shall at present abstain from giving further particulars, but the parties may depend upon it that if the Society be not shortly dissolved, we shall give publicity to their names, and call down on them that indignation and contempt which they so justly deserve, and bring those dressed in “brief authority” to condign punishment.”
From the Brighton Gazette, December 31, 1824, reprinted in the New Times.

This is so strikingly similar to a chapter in another Lindridge work The Merry Wives of London a Romance of Metropolitan Life, by the Author of The “Socialist Girl,” etc., etc., that I have to believe he took his scenes from this 1828 story. Frank Jay calls it a “most extraordinary and extremely reprehensible work,” Montague Summers described it as “pseudo-pornography.” A sample of the purple prose :

“Am I in godly company?” she whispered to him.
“The sons and daughters of Satan do abound here; but presently we will destroy them with the sword of Gideon!” replied Jasper, giving her hand a palpable squeeze.
“Is it sinful to dance ?”
“No; or else it were sinful to lie with a man.”
“Fie ! that is natural.”
“Quite; and proper, too, when the parties are agreeable. The world must be populated, madam.”
“Verily it must; it was the law given to Abraham.”
“The wages of continence are death.”
“I feel it to be so. Would that we could pray !”
“On your back, madam - very proper wish; but not allowed here.”

Not one fact is known about James Lindridge, not his date of birth, or date of death. One John Dicks was very well known, the publisher John Thomas Dicks, who bears one connection with Lindridge : he was the foremost employer of W. H. Thwaites, the illustrator. If Dicks was an author he kept very quiet about it. Frank Jay says that The Secret History of the Court of England from the accession of George the Third to the death of George the Fourth, by the Right Hon. Lady Anne Hamilton was published by John Dicks, which is unlikely since he was 14 years old at the time.

There were plenty of James Lindridge’s in the UK. In Frindsbury, Kent there was a James born in 1798, another James in 1814, and another in 1815. In 1825 there was another from Ashford, Kent and one from High Halden. There were James Lindridge’s residing in Kent right up to 1940. Unfortunately I can find no information about their occupations. For what it’s worth our Lindridge did publish one title with that geographical location ; De Lisle; or, the Fair Maid of Kent.

Bibliography :

1845 *Tales of Shipwrecks and Adventures at Sea* "containing talented
sketches of the sea and seamen, and truthful narratives of
shipwrecks, fires, mutinies, famines and every danger of this life of
peril, rendering it the handsomest, largest, and best pennyworth ever
offered to the public." Sixpence. 60 Nos. Thirty engravings
Illustrated by Landells and others. William M. Clark, 17, Warwick

1845 *The Life and Adventures of Jack Rann, Alias Sixteen-String
Jack the Highwayman* By James Lindridge. London : G. Purkess. (BM -
Block, The English Novel)

1845 *Jack Rann, Alias Sixteen-String Jack.* By James Lindridge,
Author of "De Lisle," "Tyburn Tree" &c. London : G. Purkess, Compton
Street, Soho. Illustrated by Thwaites. 52 Nos. (Ono)

1848*Tyburn Tree; or, The Mysteries of the Past* By J. Dicks, Esq.
Author of "the Old Manor House," &c., &c. (Charlotte Smith)
beautifully illustrated. London: G. Purkess, Compton street, Soho;
and all Booksellers. University of Alberta copy. ND 1848 attribution
U of A catalogue. Illustrations by W. H. Thwaites.

1848*The Adventures of Marmaduke Midge, the Pickwickian legatee* by
the author of "Tyburn Tree" (James Lindridge, sometimes this title is
wrongly attributed to Edward Viles) 86 pgs. London : G. Vickers.
(1848 ? BL)

1849 *Tyburn Tree; or, The Mysteries of the Past* By Jayhohenn
Deehiseekayess, Esq., (pseud. James Lindridge) W. H. Thwaites,
illustrator. G. Purkess, Compton Street, Soho. BL.

1850 *Tyburn Tree; or, The Mysteries of the Past* James Lindridge.
George Vickers, Holywell Street. October 29, 1850, 40 Nos. (Jay)

1850*The Merry Wives of London. A Romance of Metropolitan Life.* By
the Author of The "Socialist Girl," etc., etc. "When a woman is
depraved by man, her own sex, strange to say, are her bitterest
enemies." - Mrs. Hutchinson. London : G. Vickers, 28 and 29, Holywell
Street, Strand. James Lindridge, Illustrated by Thwaites. 26 Nos. 200
pages. (Ono)

1850 *De Lisle ;or, the Shipwrecked Stranger* James Lindridge.
London, 49 parts. Oxford Library.

1850 *De Lisle ;or, the Shipwrecked Stranger* James Lindridge.
London : William Caffyn. The author identifies himself on p. 270 as
author of "The Ruined Cottage" which was "The Ruined Cottage; or, The
Farmer's Maid," by Hannah Maria Jones in 78 Nos. from same publisher.
In section titled "Parting Words" the author refers to himself as "a
very young man." Printer : W. M. Clark. Trinity College, Dublin.

1850 *Jack Rann, Alias Sixteen String Jack* by James Lindridge. March
23, 1850. George Purkess, Compton Street, Soho. (Jay)

1851 *Jenny Diver, The Female Highwayman* James Lindridge.
Illustrated by W. H. Thwaites. S. J. Collins January 25.

1851*Jonathan Wild; or, The Thief taker's Daughter* By Ambrose
Hudson. London : W. Winn, 34, Holywell Street, Strand. Illustrated by
W. H. Thwaites.

1857 *Tyburn Tree; or, The Mysteries of the Past* James Lindridge.
George Purkess, Compton Street, Soho. (Jay)

1860 ?*Tyburn Tree* in four 100-page parts issues. Others were
*Handsome Jack ; or, the Shadow of the Scaffold* *Captain M'Cleane;
or, the Gallop to the Gallows* *Dick Flybynight and the Black Gang*
NY : De Witt. (Bill Blackbeard)

1861*Tyburn Tree; or, the Mysteries of the Past* By James Lindridge.
Thwaites Illustration. 31 nos. London : R. S. Swift, 1861. (Ono)

1865 * Tyburn Tree; or, The Highwaymen of England* London : George
Howe. 30 Nos. 1865. (Ono)

1868 *Sixteen-String Jack, the Noble Hearted Highwayman* 19 nos.
Illustrated Wrapper gives title *The Life and Adventures of Jack Rann
Sixteen-String Jack* London : A. Ritchie, 6, Red Lion-court, Fleet-
street, E.C. Nos. 1 & 2, price one penny. Splendid colour Plate
Gratis. (Ono)

My guess is that these are two similar titles by two different authors :

1846*Tales of Shipwrecks and Adventures at Sea with celebrated
voyages, amusing tales and anecdotes* Edited by James Lindridge. With
illustrations. London : W. M. Clark, 1846. (BM-Block, English Novel.)

Tales of Shipwrecks and Adventures at Sea: ... with celebrated voyages, amusing tales ... and ... anecdotes. Illustrated with ... engravings ... Edited by J. L. No. 1-59. LINDRIDGE. James
London, 1846. 8o.

Tales of shipwrecks and other disasters at sea ... Embellished with engravings from drawings by E. Landells.
London: Charles Tilt, 1839. pp. xvi, 194: plates. 8o.

Tales of Shipwrecks and other Disasters at Sea ... New edition. [With plates.]
pp. vi. 191. T. J. Allman: London, 1864. 16o.

Tales of Shipwrecks and other Disasters at Sea Boston : Tappan & Dennet, 1842. BINGLEY. Thomas

Tales about Travellers: their perils, adventures and discoveries ... With engravings.
pp. viii. 194. Charles Tilt: London, 1840. 16o.