Sunday, January 31, 2021

Comics I've Read Recently, January 31, 2021


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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Recently Read: The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, by David Nasaw

David Nasaw's 600-page biography of the newspaper and multimedia tycoon is probably the definitive one. The book explores Hearst's amazing life in all its contradictory trajectories, progressive early in life, conservative later. The 1890s term "yellow journalism" was coined to describe Hearst's (and publisher Joseph Pulitzer's) use of shameless journalistic sensationalism; Hearst made a fortune railing against entrenched monopolistic political powers on behalf of his working class readers. He was a prescient pioneer in creating a synergistic business model exploited later by even larger corporate giants, making movies based on short stories already published in his magazines and newspapers, and then, full circle, promoting those same movies (often starring his mistress and life-long companion, Marion Davies) in his magazines and newspapers.

Hearst lived and spent large, constantly updating his castle in San Simeon, CA, owning on the same land what was the largest privately owned zoo in the world, nearly every day ordering enough antiques from auction catalogs that they filled entire warehouses (German comic books were one of the first things he collected as a boy; later, the merchandising of comic strips he published in his newspapers helped keep his company afloat during hard times). Hearst had a voracious, devil-may-care personality, optimistic, fun-loving, generous to friends and employees. He was also politically naïve, letting his American isolationist prejudices lead him to believe and trust the "good intentions" of the pre-WWII Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Director Orson Welles said (out of self-preservation) at the time of his making Citizen Kane that his film was not based on Hearst. That he said it wasn't is patently ridiculous, and yet he was inadvertently correct. Neither Hearst or Marion Davies were much like the characters Welles and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz put on the screen. The real people were ever more nuanced, complex and interesting.

Nasaw's book is eminently readable, painstakingly researched, and careful to keep the author's personal views out of the picture most of the time. Beginning with mining operator George Hearst (born in 1820) and ending with the aftermath of William Hearst's passing in 1951, the scope of the story is huge and mesmerizing.

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Friday, January 29, 2021

Big Spender


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Monday, January 25, 2021

Classical LPs I've Listened to Recently, January 25, 2021


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Sunday, January 24, 2021

From the Makers of Your Favorite Toothpaste


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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Liberace, David Letterman, Bob Dylan, 1984


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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Original Jack Kirby Art for Black Magic No. 3, 1951


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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Magazines I've Read Recently, January 14, 2021


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Friday, January 8, 2021

Early '50s Frank Frazetta Western Comic Book Illustration


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Thursday, January 7, 2021

Comics I've Read Recently, January 7, 2021


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