Monday, December 17, 2007

Some Classic Christmas

I've collected so many images the past few years that I guess a post of pix from Xmases past was inevitable. A prime opportunity to start things off with a shot of the always-lovely Miss Bettie Page being positively fetching in festive spirits... (and why not?)

After the end of World War II, Christmas boomed in America and took on heretofore unseen Macy-Parade-Balloon proportions. Decorations themselves became a whole different animal as we reached the middle point of the last century. All new highs in cheerful-insanity and engineering-excess were an integral to the holiday least the commercial part.

Take this giant fiberglass Santa outside a department store for example... much more detailed and classically surreal than the big inflatable he'd be today.

ahh... and those department store window displays. Not a damn cell phone in sight...

We always went to my Grandmothers in Florida for Christmas, and almost every small town along the way had their own set of main street trappings. I remember this style in particular.

Ad-men reached new heights in abstracting the holiday in the 1940s & 50s... sometimes it was even hard to tell if Santa himself was truly being good or bad. (Wotta Shill, btw.)

Here's a room with an offbeat tree display from 1955 ( I know that smell).

And there was no Amazon or Wallmart... in the 1960s WE had the Sears Wish Book!
( It usually came in the mail around Halloween.)

Where you could order anything you could think of practically!

...The toy sections seemed endless... (and what a great spread this is!)

Yeah... Like I Wish I still had that Bugs Bunny.

And pages and pages of Christmas decor...

Sears, Pennys and all the Catalog stores sold more than a couple of different types of Mangers and accessories...

And all the cheesy crap that I love so much now...

Love the cardboard fireplaces. (Kids in apartments need a Santa snorkel too!)

The door coverings were hot at the end of the '60s. Ehh... not so much now.

Where's all this big-plastic illuminated stuff now? Antique stores? Flea Markets?

There's a couple of these plastic Santas around town that I've noticed... and they're TALL --around 5 feet!

Well, keeping the spirit alive here's our very own front door from last Christmas 2006. (The illuminated Reindeer we bought at sears in 1993 --the last year they sold them... The "Noel pole" I bought at Zayre in 1974 --for 3.99).

And here's the view down our walkway to the front door.

And last, when I went inside I snapped this picture of our own set -- and I didn't fake this, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was actually on Cartoon Network at the time.
Best wishes to all Arglebargle readers! Stay tuned --much more ahead in 2008!

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Inside the Baxter Building

Behold -- The world-famous Baxter Building!

One of the great things about the Fantastic Four comics was all the super-nutty Kirby gizmos and gadgets.
Crazy stuff --like James Bond gear on steroids and acid!
And talk about high maintenance... the team needed enough space for a Fantasti-car, a Pogo Plane, a Fantasti-Copter, a Private Passenger ICBM, an Observatory, an entrance to the negative zone, a computer room, a chemical lab, a photo analysis lab, a projection room, a gymnasium, trophy room and living quarters (just to name a few). Naturally, a Super-team with this much baggage needed an exceptional uh... "secret" base of operations. Where better, than the middle of Manhattan Island in NYC? (...yeah --good luck with that telescope, Stretcho.) Specifically floors 30 through 35 on the top of the Baxter Building.
Within the confines of these 5 floors lay a virtual crime-fightin' and weird experimentin' complex the likes of which the world had never seen before! So large in scope, that it prompted several celebrated cutaway views of of the Building's insides --presumably to help the reader figure out exactly where all the action was taking place.

I'd thought about doing a post like this last summer... but when I picked up issue #1 of Marvel's new Mythos Fantastic Four book last week and saw that the title artist Paolo Rivera had just done an updated cutaway, I knew the time was right.

So, here --for the first time I'm aware of-- are ALL cutaways of the Baxter building to date!
...featuring insane amounts of Photoshop restoration on the old versions by yours truly so they can be blown up big and still look great. All cleaned up from my own issues of the original books they appeared in, with the original (minus the yellowing) color schemes. Enjoy!

While the F.F. had already defeated the Mole Man and the Skrulls,

it wasn't until issue #3 that we got to see some Fantasti-car (known these days more commonly as the Flyin' Bathtub) and found out the secrets of the "Fantastic Four's Skyscraper Hide-Out!" This was the first time the Baxter Building and it's contents --at least the top two floors of it were diagrammed.

It wasn't long though--just three issues in fact-- before Jack was at it again. From issue #6, here's a slightly more complete look at the top
5 floors of "the world's greatest office building".

Here's Jack's third and final take (to my knowledge) on the FF's HQ innards...
As it originally appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #3 ( this version was also printed in Black and White in the back inside cover of the 1975 over-sized Fantastic Four Treasury. I ran it too, back up a the top... And though on that printing there's a blurb with an allusion made to the then-current book's team of Len Wein and Rich Buckler doing an updated cutaway soon, I don't recall them actually getting around to it.

A decade and over a hundred issues passed before anyone would attempt a new Baxter bldg pin-up, but after the big Gonzo blowout with Dr. Doom in issue #200, Keith Pollard and Longtime-inker Joe Sinnott were ready to tackle the project. Here's their version from Fantastic Four issue 201, December 1978.

It would be 48 issues before anyone else would tackle the 5 story x-ray. Then, when John Byrne took over the book in 1981, he had Terrax destroy the the top 2 floors of the tower (and f-up the lower ones). The FF had to rebuild all 5 floors of their HQ --and once it was completed it was prime time to address the new changes. (Besides, more than anybody else outside of Stan and Jack, John got the FF and brought back a lot of what made the book fun to begin with --that is, before Shooter ruined it all with the Secret Wars books.) Here, from #249 is that cutaway.

And the latest version...Paolo Rivera's aforementioned new version. Nice to see see Paolo's rife and realistic painterly approach to the material. The rest of the book looks like this too, so if you haven't picked it up you probably oughta.


And a big tip of the hat goes out to Marvel Comics Group, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Keith Pollard, Joltin' Joe Sinnott, John Byrne and Paolo Rivera