Friday, July 31, 2015

FFM: KEYHOLE MYSTERY MAGAZINE and SHOCK in 1960 (edited by Dan Roberts and anonymously, from Winston Publications)

Second issue; cover by Ed Emshwiller
1960 was an odd year in fiction-magazine publishing, and a tough one. A number of interesting projects were launched--too often only to stumble and fall, or fold, after only a few issues; a number of venerable titles and publishing groups changed hands, settled in with new owners, or went out of business, or all three.  Three was often a magic number for the good new magazines of 1960, though Saul Bellow and partners' The Noble Savage got as far as five issues in two years, while New World Writing got a new publisher and slightly different format, and the major little magazine Accent ended its 20-year run; Pocket Books' adventure in magazine publishing, Ed McBain's Mystery Book, was among the three-issue titles, while one of the new TV-related fiction titles offered by Great American Publishing, Tightrope, saw four, with another, 77 Sunset Strip,  getting out a single issue and their horror companion, Fear!, two. While The Saint Mystery Magazine was continued by another publisher, most of Great American's fiction magazines, including their newly-purchased Fantastic Universe (with a last issue featuring Robert Bloch, Fredric Brown and Jorge Luis Borges), were folded by the end of 1960, as were Columbia Publications' last titles: Double Action Western, Future Science Fiction, Double Action Detective (which had at the end featured a Edward Hoch "Simon Ark" story in every issue) and Science Fiction Stories (the last issue offering new work by Kate Wilhelm, Murray Leinster, Donald Westlake, A. Bertram Chandler and Donald Wollheim). And two interesting new magazines from a small publisher, Keyhole Mystery Magazine and Shock: The Magazine of Terrifying Tales, had their three-issue runs.
A battered copy of the first issue; cover by Emsh
Keyhole was a literate crime-fiction magazine in a period when the flood of cf titles, inspired in large part by the mid-1950s success of Mickey Spillane-flavored Manhunt, had started to recede; Manhunt itself had lost much of its audience (though claiming on its increasingly cheap-looking covers to still be the most popular cf magazine in the world, almost certainly fraudulently). Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine had recently been purchased to help found Davis Publications, and (back at EQMM's original home, Mercury Press), though long-running companion Mercury Mystery had just folded, Bestseller Mystery Magazine continued. Aside from the magazines mentioned above, and the then relatively-new Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and the somewhat eccentric Mystery Digest (and a brief attempt to import the British John Creasey Mystery Magazine in 1959), most of the US cf titles were leaning cheap and sleazy, often having as much in common with "men's sweat" "true story" sex-and-adventure magazines as they did with the better crime-fiction titles.  Keyhole was doing a lot better than the likes of Web Detective or even the somewhat more professional Trapped
Rather good choices in reprints, mixed with some solid, if not groundbreaking, original fiction, and a bit of attempted pop-culture hipness in invoking Elvis in the cover story--coauthored by Robert Bloch as "Will Folke"...
If anything, an even better least in adding Bloch, Sturgeon and Collier originals along with another Davidson in the mix. 

And with the third and final Winston issue, deFord's back, and she and Bloch and Collier are joined by Roald Dahl, the busy Charles Boeckman, and then-new writer R. A. Lafferty--one has to wonder how new a George Kauffman item could be. A four year old Ellin reprint from EQMM seems a bit recent, but EQMM would do similar things...and it was Ellin (today is the anniversary of his death, oddly enough). Note also, still pinning hopes to a pop-music crossover appeal, with Fabian Forte, of all people, as a detective. 

Meanwhile, and for no obvious reason edited anonymously (with radio/comics-style "editorial hosts" who are a Beast and a spider), Shock showed some signs of being aimed a bit younger, while still offering a lot of first-rate work...albeit even more of it reprinted and not a little of that set chestnuts from the horror and suspense literature.  EC Comics legend Jack Davis did all three covers, much in the style of their horror comics or Mad...while some of the fiction was a bit grim even for the more receptive kids:

But, then again, there are worse things for young minds to be warped by than "Bianca's Hands"...the Davidson story was reprinted in F&SF a decade later, and a decade+ after that in Dennis Etchison's anthology Masters of Darkness III.  Originals by Richard Matheson, Jim Thompson, Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men), and Davidson are nothing to dismiss out of hand, even if the Davidson is probably the closest to major work by its author. A young Lenny Kaye, a decade+ before starting to play with Patti Smith Group and putting together the Nuggets anthology albums of garage-rock and protopunk, wrote a published fan letter about this issue.

Originals by Davidson again, deFord, and Bloch again as "Will Folke" does get the sense that Dan Roberts, whoever he? was, definitely edited both Winston titles.
And the third and last Winston issue features originals by Edward Hoch, Lafferty, Westlake, and journeyman John Anthony West, among others...including one of the best stories of Bloch's career, "Final Performance," a story that is in more ways than one a hardboiled punch in the gut. 

It's a real pity that these magazines didn't do better in the suddenly crowded, then thinned out, marketplace of 1960...and even more a pity that Winston apparently sold the title rights and unpublished inventory, if any, to Pontiac Publishing, already responsible for some of the bottom of the barrel sleaze titles, of which their 1961/62 continuations of Keyhole and particularly Shock were prime examples.  Don't confuse the originals with these decomposing revenants...

And see the indices at Phil Stephenson-Payne's The Crime, Mystery, & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index, the source of the indices above and several of the cover images.  For a sense of how these magazines went, try Peter Enfantino's reviews of the archetypal Web Detective.

For more of today's titles, please see Evan Lewis's blog (filling in this week for Patti Abbott, on assignment in Traverse City). 

And given that I've posted about Shock (this one rather than the several other magazines of that title, not even counting its shudder-magazine continuation) and Fear! and the Magazine of Horror and its stablemates, (and the various revivals of Weird Tales starting after the turn of the next decade),  I suppose doing a take on the Other horror magazines of note in the 1960s, such as Macabre, The Arkham Collector, Bizarre! Mystery, and even the all-reprint Strange Fantasy might well follow...along with such early '70s colleagues as Coven 13/Witchcraft and Sorcery, The Haunt of Horror (the fiction magazine from Marvel, before they turned it into a large-format comic), Weirdbook and others...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July's Underappreciated Music: the links

The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of...and the last entry in this series from the late Randy Johnson. (There are still a few of his film reviews that will appear in the Tuesday's Overlooked roundups.)

Patti Abbott: Bryan Adams; bland modern albums; Western television opening themes; Jason Isbell; soundtrack: Under the Skin

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Elgin Bleecker: Doris Day/Tony Bennett: "Close Your Eyes"

Paul Brazill: A Song for Saturday

Miriam Makeba: "Erev Shel Shoshanim"

Jim C.: Summertime with Blossom Dearie; Sonny Criss

Sean Coleman: Weird Al Yankovic

Bill Crider: British Invasion: Forgotten Music; Song of the DayForgotten Hits: Local Charts

Cullen Gallagher: rediscovering vinyl

Jeff Gemmill: First Aid Kit @ XPoNential Music Festival, 7/25/15;
Jill Johnson; Top 5s

King Pleasure, Annie Ross, Jon Hendricks: "Don't Get Scared"

Jerry House: Daily Music+; Hymn Time

Randy Johnson: Mac Sabbath: "Frying Pan"

George Kelley: Miles Davis: Live at Newport 1955-1975

Kate Laity: things after The Fall

The Way It Is: "Joni Mitchell" (CBC 1968)

At 20 minutes, the 1965 debut episode JM recording of the theme song, in better fidelity. (And apparently you'll have to scroll back the full show above, since it doesn't seem to like the proximity of the skip-ahead 20-minute link under it...for me, it jumps into the 1968 version of the theme at show's end, with unfortunate static.)

Todd Mason: "Eight Miles High";  9 Songs (more or less); musics brought together when Gil Scott-Heron and the Last Poets invented modern rap ca. 1969 

Patrick Murtha: Junior Brown: 12 Shades of Brown

Rainbow Quest: Pete Seeger hosts Elizabeth Cotten, Rosa Valentin & Rafael Martinez (NYC local, then syndicated, 1965)

1. Pete Seeger opening medley
2. Valentin & Martinez: The Soldier Went to War
3. Valentin & Martinez: May, The Month of Flowers
4. Valentin & Martinez: Aguinaldo
5. All: Guantanamera
6. Pete Seeger: My Home's Across the Smoky Mountains
7. Pete Seeger: 'Way Out There
8. Elizabeth Cotten: Going Down the Road Feelin' Bad
9. Elizabeth Cotten: Mama Your Papa Loves You
10. Elizabeth Cotten: Wilson Rag
11. Elizabeth Cotten: Freight Train

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: The Supremes: "When the Lovelight Starts..."

Soundstage: "Sing Me a Jazz Song"; Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross, Eddie Jefferson, Leon Thomas (PBS 1975)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links to the reviews, profiles and interviews: new links

The selections (reviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) under-appreciated audio/visual always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers...

Allan Fish: From What is Before

Anne Billson: JFK assassination films

Anonymous: They Were Expendable

Bill Crider:  The Librarian: Quest for the Spear [trailer]

Brandie Ashe: Pan's Labyrinth

Brian Arnold: "The Wild Hare"

Brian Greene: Two-Lane Blacktop

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Colin: The Moonlighter

Comedy Film Nerds: Emily Gordon

Cynthia Fuchs: (POV:) Tea Time (aka La Once)

Elgin Bleecker: La bête humaine

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Violent Enemy; Sax Rohmer on US v. UK crime

Evan Lewis: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot 

The Big Caper
Gary Deane: The Big Caper

George Kelley: Police Squad!

How Did This Get Made?: Sharknado 3

Iba Dawson: Gun Crazy

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Lineup (radio, television, film)

J. Kingston Pierce: Jeff Rice and The Night Stalker

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Don't Come Back Alive"

Jackie Kashian: It's Complicated; Liz Miele, comedian and animator

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Tension

James Reasoner: The Winning Season

Jeff Flugel: Four Frightened People

Jerry House: Western Heroes

Jessica Amanda Salmonson: Everybody
A Matter of WHO

John Grant: A Matter of WHO; Midnight Intruder

Jonathan Lewis; Moving Violation; Romulus and the Sabines

Kate Laity: Canongate Kirk; It's Not Repetition, It's Discipline

Kliph Nesteroff: Paul Krassner

Kristina Dijan: World Without End; The Black Raven; The Penalty; Invisible Invaders [Scott Cupp last week]

Laura: The Adventures of Mark Twain; The Proud Rebel; Woman They Almost  Lynched

Lucy Brown: Party Girl (1958 film)

Marilyn Ferdinand: A Bright Summer Day

Martin Edwards: Partners in Crime: "The Secret Adversary" (pilot)

Marty McKee: Street Crimes; The Death Squad; The Private Eyes

Mystery Dave: Cool World

Nick Jones: Love Supreme Festival

Patrick Murtha: The Violators

Patti Abbott: Jim Jeffries

Pearce Duncan: Kill List

Pop My Culture: Laura Dreyfuss

Prashant Trikannad: Chef (2014 film)

Randy Johnson: Dead Men Don't Make Shadows

Rick: The Slipper and the Rose

Rod Lott: Spring; Student Bodies

Sam Juliano: Careful, He Might Hear You

Sergio Angelini: The Strange World of Planet X aka...

Scott Cupp: Zombies on Broadway

Stacia Jones: Wolfen; Wicked, Wicked

Stephen Bowie: The Bold Ones: The Senator

Victoria Loomes: Audrey Hepburn at the National Portrait Gallery

Walker Martin: adventures in painting collection

Walter Albert: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Yvette Banek: Dangerous Crossing

Dangerous Crossing

EVERYBODY, one of the odder and more potentially disturbing puppet shows you're likely to see...

As well as involving Very large puppets, at that.

All the puppeteers' relevant videos:

ABC Melbourne's succinct page about the prep for this show
Thanks to Jessica Amanda Salmonson for noting this...

Monday, July 27, 2015

BEST FROM STARTLING STORIES, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, WONDER STORIES 1957 and other reprints from the Thrilling Group science fiction titles

After Standard Magazines/Better Publications shut down their Thrilling Group pulp magazines in 1955, they concentrated their activities mostly in the Paperback Library division of the Ned Pines organization...but James Hendryx, Jr. was given the task over the next decade to edit reprint magazines (with a couple of stories reprinted from the slicks rather than pulp back issues): two almost identical issues of Wonder Stories (the first in digest format, the second in pulp size) and eventually three issues of Treasury of Great Science Fiction Stories (with the last cutting the title down), also in pulp format.  (Treasury also had a western fiction companion.)
Cover painting by Richard Powers


And the anthologies drawn from the Thrilling Group magazines:
cover painting by Alex Schomberg

The Best from Startling Stories ed. Samuel Mines (Henry Holt LCC# 53-8980, 1953, $3.50, 301pp, hc) Also as Startling Stories and Moment Without Time
    • vii · Foreword: Blueprint for Tomorrow · Samuel Mines · in
    • ix · Introduction · Robert A. Heinlein · in
    • 1 · The Wages of Synergy · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Startling Stories Aug 1953
    • 61 · The Perfect Gentleman · R. J. McGregor · ss Startling Stories Sep 1952
    • 81 · Moment Without Time · Joel Townsley Rogers · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr 1952
    • 113 · The Naming of Names · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Aug 1949
    • 135 · No Land of Nod · Sherwood Springer · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1952
    • 163 · Who’s Cribbing? · Jack Lewis · ss Startling Stories Jan 1953
    • 173 · Thirty Seconds — Thirty Days · Arthur C. Clarke · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1949
    • 207 · Noise · Jack Vance · ss Startling Stories Aug 1952
    • 225 · What’s It Like Out There? · Edmond Hamilton · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1952
    • 255 · Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
    • 279 · Dark Nuptial · Robert Donald Locke · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb 1953
Cover painting by Eugene Berman

    • Introduction · Damon Knight · in
    • Don’t Look Now · Henry Kuttner · ss Startling Stories Mar 1948
    • The Box · James Blish · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr 1949
    • The New Reality · Charles L. Harness · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1950
    • The Eternal Now · Murray Leinster · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Fll 1944
    • The Sky Was Full of Ships · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Jun 1947
    • The Shape of Things · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb 1948
    • The Only Thing We Learn · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Startling Stories Jul 1949
    • The Hibited Man · L. Sprague de Camp · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct 1949
    • Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
    • The Ambassadors · Anthony Boucher · ss Startling Stories Jun 1952
    • A Child Is Crying · John D. MacDonald · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1948
My review of The Shape of Things
Indices and images from ISFDB and Homeville.