Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Happy Paperback Book Day

"There’s nothing like a printed book;
the weight, the woody scent, the feel, the look."
- E.A. Bucchianeri
Reading a LARGE paperback on a cruise ship.
Song of the Blog:
"It's a thousand pages, give or take a few.
I'll be writing more in a week or two.
I could make it longer if you like the style.
I can change it 'round,
And I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer."

- The Beatles

To be honest, I prefer reading hardcovers (HC) - most of the novels I collect, like my Stephen King collection are in HC format. But I do have copies of a few of his novels in paperback format. The original paperback format is quite handy to take along in order read on a plane, at the beach or on a cruise ship (the first paperback books were aimed at railway passengers). My pockets have always been quite big, so it would easily facilitate a novel. These days most of my reading happens on my tablet and rarely ever do I even buy a novel in paperback format. Some of the King paperbacks I bought second hand purely for the cool covers (The Stand, because I read it a lot).

As a designer/illustrator I love book covers, they say you can't judge a book by its cover - but what if you actually just like covers. I mean, some of the artwork used for the covers could easily be framed and put on a wall. The cover art for Salem's Lot (1976), created by James Plumeri,with the red drop of blood dripping from the embossed mouth doesn't even have the book title or author's name on it. James Plumeri also did the design for my paperback of The Shining (1978), it actually looks to be shining with the reflective silver-like Mylar coated cover. Two of my favourite paperback books. The Stand cover art is by Don Brautigam. It was awarded "Cover of the Year" by Marketing Bestsellers in 1980.

Sadly, the cover art is nearly destroyed because of all the reading!

But my other all-time favourite paperback novel, not because of its cover, is The World According to Garp (1978). First read on a holiday to Sweden. I have had several copies - some I have given away. This green version, one I couldn't find much info about online, has been read A LOT !!! Some other example of paperbacks still in my bookcases, are books from Dean Koontz, Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Carroll and Chuck Palahniuk.

Some of my paperbacks back in my old man cave.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Happy 22nd Birthday QQ !!

"Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" - Dr. Seuss

Song of the BloQQ:
"For unto us a child is born
(for unto us a child is born)
Unto us a son is given
A son is given
Unto us a son is given"

- Joy to the World

Twenty-two years ago I walked around the streets of Whakatane with the biggest smile on my face, my son Quentin Nicholas Quaadgras was born on the 29th of July 1997. Since then QQ has grown up quickly from the Pokemon loving computer-game  playing little boy to the bright young man living and studying in Auckland. So proud of you, my son.

I will remember for always the days we read Dr. Seuss books to you, the times you entertained us dancing on the bed. Drawing together, playing play-station, having walks in nature, watching movies and having long conversations about all sorts.
Happy Birthday from Debra and me!
Original artwork for the card we send to friends and family when QQ was born.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Weird Headlines, Click-bait and Nordmende

"The world is still a weird place, despite my efforts to make clear and perfect sense of it." - Hunter S. Thompson

Song of the Blog:
"Let's make the headlines loud and true
Let's make the headlines - cause I'm giving it all
Yeah, I'm giving it all to you."

- The Spice Girls
1980 - Electric Dreams

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with printed matter. Books, magazines, newspapers - you name it. There are plenty of them in my collection and this includes the boxes of magazine and newspaper clippings. Have fun sorting through all of that once I am gone, my loved ones! Meh, who am I kidding - most of it will just end up in the rubbish. So, why keep it all - especially these days when everything is so readily available online. YEARS of news papers are there to look through in certain online archives, many magazine are digitally there to browse through.

I guess it's the feeling of nostalgia, going through one of those old archive boxes every once in a while brings back the memories of the fun things in our lives. One thing I came across was an old Nordmende TV/Audio equipment catalogue from 1980/81, that I re-purposed in the early 80s to keep weird and amazing newspaper articles. The ones that are now known as click-bait... Like "Jesus died of a heart-attack", "Japan will ban sex-tourism"  or "Man(85) coughs up bullet". All of them of course in Dutch - but, they still create a fun peek into the sensational stories that papers used to fill spaces.

The fun part is not only the articles have been all stuck in to fit a nice patterned design (something that would eventually become my job!), nor that I used Typex to whiten the areas in between and add the handwritten dates around them, but - the fact that it IS an old catalogue with "ancient" technology and because of some of the personal dramas around 1983 the project seems to have halted around that time. This leaves two-thirds of the catalogue EMPTY from news paper clippings. yet FULL of all the retro technology from the start of the 80s.

Who didn't dream of having a mini-combo TV/radio/tape-recorder/clock !!! Or your own home-studio VHS system or - WOW - a TV that could show you what the weather would be like... Oh,wait, ... nearly 40 years later now and all of that (and more) is in my mobile phone.  But, not this old catalogue, with roughly cut out headlines, stuck together by a 15 year old.. it's still sitting in a box to hold and cherish and I am giving it all to you, my loved ones!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Parent rap

My parents, (photo coloured in)
"Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them." - Oscar Wilde

Song of the blog:
"I am what I am
A family man
Mother, father, brother"

- Fleetwood Mac

 Let’s face it, the most important people in many people’s lives tend to be their parents.  Today, 27 July, is Parents’ Day. A chance to say ‘thank you’, and to show how appreciative you are of the time, effort and love poured into your (assumable) successful upbringing and induction into "normal" society. Good work, parents. Personally, my father died in 1999 and I haven't been in touch with my mother, sadly since 2004 (I have tried several times myself ...).

Most superheroes are often orphans in some way or another. Batman lost his parents after a shooting , when he was a young boy. Superman was send away in a rocket, by his parents when they realised their world was going to be destroyed. I never knew much about Spider-man's parents, other than a they might have worked for SHIELD at some point. It seems heroes just have to face it all by themselves. In the end, we all do lose our parents in one way or another. If we are lucky we end up becoming one ourselves and hope that we keep in touch with our own children for a long time to come.
Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Looking back at the adventures of Tintin, I can't remember any mention of parents at all. I guess Captain Haddock became a sort of father figure. But, more than ever at least one of the parental figures seem to be out of the picture. It's the same with many of the Disney movies. SPOILER WARNING: Bambi's mother dies. In "The Jungle Book", "The Fox and the Hound", "The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", "Tarzan", "Atlantis", "Lilo & Stitch", "Finding Nemo", "Brother Bear", "Frozen", "Big Hero 6" and even the live-action version of "Beauty and the Beast" all feature protagonists who have mothers that have died, or have been killed or caught. Snow White’s mom died before the film even begins. There's a great article about this topic here:
Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?


Of course there are many comics and cartoons WITH parents... even IF the father is,... well, Homer Simpson or the "Family Guy"... Even Disney has some good parents in some of their movies, like "the Incredibles" who resemble other super families like the one in "the Fantastic Four" and even Superman seems to have a son these days. In the end, we will mostly remember our parents and the roles they played in our lives to the best of their ability.
Thnx Dad... Thnx Mum - where ever you might be.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

037 - RIP Rutger Hauer (1944 – 2019)

"'Good guy' or 'bad guy', hero or anti hero; doesn't matter to me, what role I play, only the character have something magical." - Rutger Hauer.

Song of the blog:
"Jukebox in the corner, Long hot summer
They've got a film up on the wall and it's dark enough to dance
What do you mean you've never seen Blade Runner?"

- Star Treatment, Arctic Monkeys

These days you find out things by a tweet...
Checking Twitter, after lunch, I read that one of my favourite Dutch actors has passed away. Rutger Hauer (75)...
I grew up watching him. In the 70s he was in a Dutch TV series called "Floris", I even had some books of the show. One of them made it all the way to New Zealand. There were many of his movies in the 70s as well, I saw them once they came to TV. Some, like "Soldier of Orange", made a huge impression on me (I even recorded some of the movie on audio cassette, that must exist in a box somewhere). I guess the fact that his character in this movie was named Erik played a part. When I went back to Holland in 1999 I bought the movie on VHS tape.

In the 80s I started going to the movies to see him in his American movies. He got his big break playing opposite Stallone in "Nighthawks", shared the screen with Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick in "LadyHawke", went back to his sword fighting days in "Flesh and Blood". terrorized us in "HITCHER" and had his fun ways as a blind man in "Blind Fury". BUT - my all-time favourite movie starring Rutger has to be BLADE RUNNER.

"Blade Runner" is right up there in my favourite movie top 10. I own the special collectors DVD collection case, that came with a small police vehicle from the film and a small origami unicorn.  I have the poster on my wall and a file of clippings from the 80s plus the movie comic book that came out in 1982 (Junior Press). In the book, comic book artist Al Williamson captures the infamous speech by Rutger Hauer's character really well and it is a fitting way to end this blog. Rest in Peace.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

036 - Happy MOON day ! - 20th July

“M-O-O-N Spells moon” -  Stephen King

Song of the day:
"Hey baby, are you having fun?
If you believed they put a man on the moon,
man on the moon..."

Tintin landed on the moon in 1950! WAY before the official moonlandin!!!
In one of my older #blogjune posts I mentioned the special Tintin book that belonged to my father (here is is) - within it are the two moon related albums, which today are topical again because it is 50 years since the moon landing. In 1969 the Apollo 11 lunar module, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed on the surface of the Moon; with Buzz and Armstrong walking on the moon seven hours later. I was one years old, nearly two - so I really can't remember anything. But I have however been fascinated with the moon and space travel from a very early age. I believe Tintin had a large role to play, having read his adventures about going to the moon. Plus the Jules Verne novel, "From the Earth to the Moon" that was the inspiration for the iconic image from "A Trip to the Moon" (a 1902 French adventure film by Georges Méliès).
From a 1902 movie to a 2019 Emoji - progress....

The Classics Illustrated #144- "First Men In The Moon" was based on the H. G. Wells story. It's quite weird in its portrayal of the moon. With plant life, creatures and AIR ...and their vessel, some moon-like sphere is not the most exciting design, although - ET's space ship has a lot to answer for as well.

I came across an online image of an awesome French copy of "Destination Moon" (the Tintin book, not to be confused with the SF movie by George Pal). It has the following quotes from some of the atronauts with their autographs:

Buzz Aldrin: "First moonwalker after Tintin"
Alan Bean:
"I might see footprints of Neil and Buzz but I am not sure about Tintin's".
James Lovell:
"Houston, we've had a problem like Tintin."
Al Worden:
"When returning from the moon, I took the farthest out space walk!! including Tintin's"
Charlie Duke:
"The youngest man after Tintin to explore the moon"

I would still like to have a little rocket statue from Tintin for my collection, but for now I am really happy with the one of him, sitting on the rocks looking at the map from the same "Destination Moon" book. Oh, and look BEARS!!!

Friday, July 19, 2019

035 - The bear necessities - PART II: Electric Baloo

 “Never mind those failures till yesterday.
Each new day is a sequel of a wonderful life; gifted with hopes to succeed."

- Aniruddha Sastikar

"Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
That's why a bear can rest at ease
, with just the bare necessities of life"
- Baloo,  Jungle Book
I was ecstatic when I found this electric bookie!

Captain Jeroen in his 1st boat, "Pol".
There were some nice reactions to the first POL page, enough to dig a bit deeper into the history of this beloved bear. One of my friends loved Pol so much that he named his first boat after the character! Also, as I was looking for another bear related book (that I didn't find), another Pol book popped up in between some other comics. A second book did made it around the world after all!

The handsome Hansen couple, bjørn to be famous!

The little bear could almost have been called "Bjørnen Rasmus" (Rasmus the Bear). But Danish writer Carla Hansen protested against it, arguing that we all have a surname and so should the bear. Thus, the surname became "Klump", named after a Golden Retriever that lived in the apartment under Carla and Vilhelm Hansen in Copenhagen. FUN FACT: Another one of my favourite characters, Indiana Jones, was also named after a dog! Not just in the movie, but
George Lucas named him after his own Alaskan malamute.

I did also LOVE the Colargol bear, but please don't confuse him with Pol!
After digging a bit further, I found that one of the English names seems to have been "Barnaby Bear", which confusingly enough was also the English version of Colargol, another famous bear from the 70's that could sing! (There's also an unrelated  "Becky and Barnaby Bear" tv series). I am always intrigued how names of characters are changed throughout the world. Our beloved POL is known in France and Germany as PETZI - and in China people know him as Pipi Xiong!!!
Danish, French and German - look at some of the colour changes.

After more research I found that, in some of the earlier English newspaper versions, he was called "Bruin the Bear" (which is funny, because Bruin is Dutch for Brown). The "Glasgow Evening Times" (1954) even had a special club for the bear comic. You could cut out the comic strips and paste them in a special booklet that you could order and create your own comic book!
How cool to be able to cut out the comic strips and paste them in your own book! (1954)

The comic book series also played a major role in the introduction of comics into public libraries. In the fifties and sixties a discussion similar to the one in USA leading to the Comic Code Authority was going on in Denmark. Comics were not considered literature and were by some referred to as gutter literature. Despite the efforts of the cultural elite to make kids read books instead of comics, they became even more popular. In the end, the libraries had to accept comics on the shelves. The first comic to be accepted in the Danish libraries was "Rasmus Klump".

Thierry Capezzone, in the running for best Pol artist!

Over time there have been other artists who have picked up the character. Most recently, since 2017/2018,  a new comic (WITH speech bubbles!) has been written by Per Sanderhage and drawn by Thierry Capezzone (born in France, living in Denmark since 1993. I managed to find him on Facebook and I am following his work closely!
I almost screamed when I found out we have so much in common!

Earlier, in the 1990s,  Josep Maria Cardona has also created his version of the characters. He is well known for illustrating books of TV shows like Rugrats and his Disney related comic book work. So I thought it would be nice to end with his drawing of another favourite bear of mine, Baloo! After all, that's my nickname these days!

The simple BEAR necessities!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

034 - The bear necessities - PART I

“Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.”  - Dr. Seuss

Song of the day:
"Does the noise in my head bother you
Something's gotta give
Comic books are comin' true."
- "Something's Gotta Give" - Aerosmith

As part of a new series of blogs, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the comic books in my bookcase. The ones that have been important to me over the years. One book that jumped out at me was POL ALS DUIKER (translation: "Pol as diver"). I remember having more of these books of Pol at a very young age. This one is the only one that has made it across the world. The Casterman copyright dates the book back to the year 1962. That's five years before I was even born.
There's sticker in the front of the book, with its price: 2.25 guilders, with I believe is roughly a Euro. So, that would have been NZ$1.67. It's probably not worth much more now. 
But the book IS extra special to me, because my father at the time wrote my name and our address in the front of the book. This also dates it because we moved from there in 1979. For a 57 year old comic book, it's still in pretty good condition, even though the staples have rusted over the years. But than, so have I.

The books, like the daily strip, did not have word balloons (speech bubbles) but text written below. This was a fairly common way of making comics at the time. Having the text under the pictures was supposed to make the series easier to read for kids. In the case of POL, they used the heads of the characters to show who was saying what. Like little avatars!

Above is an example of the actual Danish comic strip series that was created by the Danish wife and husband team Carla and Vilhelm Hansen in 1951. The books tell tells the adventures of the bear cub, that I knew as POL and his friends: Pingo (a penguin), Pel (a pelican) and many others. Later in life I found out their original names... the main character wasn't even called POL. It was originally called RASMUS KLUMP!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

033 - July 17 - SPONGEBLOG: The 20th anniversary of SpongeBob.

"It's not about winning, it's about fun! " -  SpongeBob Squarepants

Song of the day:
"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he
If nautical nonsense be something you wish!
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish!"

- SpongeBob SquarePants!

Visiting the Spongebob Storepants at Universal Orlando.

Today is the 20th anniversary of "SpongeBob," which premiered on Nickelodeon July 17, 1999.  Sadly last year, Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, passed away at the age of 57. His characters were always a big part of the TV culture at the Q-household in the weekends that my son QQ stayed with us. The show, with its classic theme, is really fun and totally absurd most of the time. From the sponge itself, with his silly best friend the starfish to the squid, the squirrel and the infamous crabby patty! Fun memories of watching the movie when it came out and playing the game that we reviewed for the paper.

One summer at Papamoa Beach we entered a sand sculpting competition and made it into the local paper with our SpongeBob creation.  We also got to meet the great Sponge Bobber at Universal studios a few times. The yellow fellow has really become a permanent part of popular culture.

You know you're famous when you make it as a noun in a TV show, like in The Big Bang Theory when Howard said "I'd like to SpongeBob her SquarePants." Even in other animated series there have been mentions, the Simpsons has a lot of references to SpongeBob. For instance in "Treehouse of Horror XXIX", in the opening sequence, the sea captain asks Homer if he knows the most evil creature in the sea, and Homer replies "SpongeBob?".  I have seen a SpongeBob SCREAM image and there are crazy costumes you can buy. Who is keen to go as SpongeBob this Halloween?! 


All over the world Spongee has been translated and his character has brought joy across the world. Just look at all the crazy translated movie posters! If you haven't soaked up enough of l'eponge, besides the TV show, movies, merc and the character meet and greets you can also head down to the comic book store for some action!