Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Marx Brothers

It's kind of funny that as a kid, I didn't like The Marx Brothers. I thought they were just brash and unfunny, and much preferred The Three Stooges (still do). Over the years, I developed a taste for them, taking a particular liking to Groucho, and to a lesser extent Harpo. I never really warmed to Chico, not because of his ethnic humor, but because I still find him the least funny of the three (I'm not counting Zeppo in this).

I also go against the grain of most Marx Brothers fans who act as if their Paramount films and the first two they did for MGM are the only good ones. Am I the only person out there who actually likes "Room Service" and "Love Happy"? Saying that, my favorite film by them is hands down "Duck Soup" (which is one of the Paramount films); the only film they did where Harpo and Chico do not play their instruments!

The photo above is going to be used in my new book about "Cracked" magazine. Though John Severin did not admit it, I still feel that Harpo Marx was an inspiration for the redesign of "Cracked" mascot Sylvester P. Smythe with issue #11. This photo is from "A Day at the Races" where Harpo and Chico are wallpapering.

Severin always claimed that the inspiration for Sylvester was this little apprentice guy in an old Jackie Gleason sketch. I think that is true for the original Sylvester design, who was kind of an ugly guy. When Severin "cutened" him up, I think subconsciously he had Harpo in mind. I do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WonderCon in 2 days...Yay!

I love WonderCon in San Francisco. Although, I still loved it more when it was in Oakland, the current WonderCon is the closest you can get to the San Diego Comic Convention of old.

Yes, it's big, but not unbearably big where you cannot walk around and do a few things on the fly and at the last minute. Besides, since it's still in California, a lot of the same people show up.

For instance, last year in San Diego, I met the famous recording and radio comedian Stan Freberg, one of my idols. Some friends of mine were very jealous, but now they get the chance to meet him, too, as he will be appearing at WonderCon.

Soon, probably next year (2011), I will set up a table at WonderCon. I'm still not quite ready yet as I need to get a few copies of my books and right now my supply of books and money is low, but I will be roaming around with the few copies that I have.

Of course, I can take pre-orders. Just give me some money and your address and when I get home, I will order your personal copy for you. I can even give you a discount...

Anyway, if you are so inclined, please take a look at WonderCon. It's only like 12 bucks to get in. (I'm not sure as I have my professional pass.)

Incidentally, I don't remember who did the "Wonder Khannnnn" logo above, but I thought it was so funny, I figured I'd repost it here.

Hope to see you all there. I plan to attend Friday and Saturday, but it runs through Sunday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cracked Merchandise

I'm looking for some obscure "Cracked" magazine merchandise, a couple of which are shown here. I do have the "Cracked" magazine that the model is holding, but I do not have the Sylvester P. Smythe plush doll, nor do I have the T-Shirt that the model is wearing. Of course, I'd like the model, too, but this picture is from 1987 or so, so who knows what she looks like today.

I'm also looking for "Cracked" hat, the "Cracked" notebook, and other "Cracked" T-Shirts and posters and stuff. Ebay barely has any "Cracked" merchandise, so they're not really a help.

Anyway, if you think you have something really obscure from "Cracked", drop me a line...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carol Burnett, Dean Martin and the Smothers Brothers

I think I am maybe one of possibly two people that actually enjoy old variety shows and ponder the reason why they don't exist anymore. One reason they don't exist is that TV networks don't prepare them properly. There is room on today's reality show based networks for a show like "Ed Sullivan Show" and a show like "Carol Burnett Show".

Problem is, whenever they attempt to start a new version of this type of show, they somehow manage to screw things up. In the case of "Ed Sullivan", rather than come up with a similar type of host, they actually aired a show once with an awful CGI-created "Ed Sullivan" to host! Then they wonder why they don't get good ratings.

You could do a "Sullivan" show now with Tom Bergeron as host or something, since he seems to be hosting everything else nowadays anyway, or this might be an opportunity for Conan O'Brien to come back.

The other is the variety format like "Carol Burnett" where not only did she host, but also participated in the sketches unlike Sullivan. The last attempt was made a couple of years ago with Wayne Brady ("Who's Line is it Anyway?", "The New Let's Make a Deal"). Brady is a fine comedian, but not the greatest ad-libber in the world and he took too much time in his variety show to do "ad-libbed" sketches. Wrong!

I hope that the networks would give someone else a chance at a variety show. Please pick a comedian that actually is funny or a singer that actually has appeal across many genres, not just country. Also, the writing is the KEY to the success of these shows. They used to whip them out and wonder why no one was watching. It was because they were BO-RING!

On another topic, the three images above represent how old variety shows can be reissued and how they shouldn't. "The Carol Burnett Show" came closest to reissuing the shows the way they should, uncut and complete. However, Burnett's own phobia about the earlier years of her own show leave those early episodes in TV limbo. Burnett feels that the early shows are sexist in how she fawns over Lyle Waggoner. Big deal! Get these out! These were funny!

"The Dean Martin Show" shows how to NOT put out these videos. They feature cut sketches from various shows that show no rhyme or reason and as a result, you could have a sketches from 1965 paired up with one from 1974.

"The Smothers Brothers Show" have it half right, and it might be a rights issue on this and even the other shows. They only pick the highlights of a particular season, which is good because you don't have to wade through the boring garbage of a particular show like Jim Nabors singing, but you also miss the "essence" of the show and what it was about.

I like the "Saturday Night Live" complete seasons and that's what these old variety shows should strive for when reissuing them on DVD.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beatles Entries

You may have seen a few Beatles entries on this Fun Ideas blog. I could say, "I meant to do that," like Pee-Wee Herman, but the reality is, I did post it on the wrong blog. However, for those who never log into my Beatles blog, here is a chance to see what I post there every day. These entries will be the basis for my Beatles book, so enjoy and please log into Beatles to get your daily fix.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Heart of the Country by Paul McCartney – ****

First released: 1971

Very pleasant and catchy tune from Paul's "Ram" album and 2001’s "Wingspan" that should have been a single in the US, but wasn't. In fact, it only appeared as a b-side to "Back Seat of My Car" in the UK. Paul and Wings also performed this on his 1973 "James Paul McCartney" TV special.

"Hear The Beatles Tell All" by The Beatles – ***

First released: 1964

Although first released in 1964, this promotional only album of various Beatles interviews was given an official commercial release in 1979. It’s a little bit campy and cheesy for today’s ears, but still a lot of fun.

Hear Me Lover by Paul McCartney – (NR)


An unreleased McCartney demo dating from 1980.

Hear Me Lord by George Harrison – ***

First released: 1970

A fitting album closer but again over-produced by Spector from "All Things Must Pass". Strangely with "Art of Dying", "Isn’t it a Pity (Version Two)" and this song filling out the fourth side of the original album, it leaves the listener feeling very heavy. Fortunately, George would start to lighten up with his next studio album, "Living in the Material World", but that was almost three years down the road!

Heading For the Light by The Traveling Wilburys – **

First released: 1988

One of the lesser tracks from George’s "Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1".

He Got the Blues by John Lennon – (NR)


A Lennon home recording dating from 1971.

Haymakers by Paul McCartney – ***

First released: 1999

One of the few original tracks from Paul's largely instrumental "Working Classical".

Have You Seen My Baby by Ringo Starr – ***

First released: 1973

Some pressings of "Ringo" call this "Have You Seen My Baby" and some pressings say "Hold On". By the time of the CD issue in 1991, "Have You Seen My Baby" has become the accepted title of this Randy Newman composition. A nice rocking tune that won’t win awards, especially since it was sandwiched in between "I’m the Greatest" and "Photograph" on the album.

Creature Features and Personal Appearances

I was at the "Creature Features" show at the Balboa in San Francisco last night. John Stanley was there along with KGO's movie critic Dennis Willis to host the festivities.

The late Bob Wilkins did make an appearance on video last night and it was a fun "live" recreation of what a real "Creature Features" movie experience was like complete with an interview with the late Frank Gorshin and actual circa 1979-80 commercials.

Before the screening and at the intermission, Stanley and Willis were in the lobby to hock their books and videos and I felt that the time was right that I should start doing the same thing, albeit slowly.

I am planning in the next year or two to start making more and more personal appearances to promote my books and other projects and really start to make a name for myself.

I will be at WonderCon in April in San Francisco, but I am still not quite prepared as I need to get extra copies of my books. If you are reading this and would like to offer me some booth space at this event or some future event, I could work it off with trade or labor. Please let me know at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Shutter Island"...ok

So I finally saw "Shutter Island" last night. I thought it was "ok". I am a huge Martin Scorcese fan, but in saying that, he's kind of like Tim Burton for me. He has a few really good films, a few ok ones, and a lot of stinkers, but I go to see them because I have a 50/50 chance of being really entertained.

"Shutter Island" is a good-looking film and is paced really well. It is very much like a 40s film, however, if you are looking for good suspense with a lot of plot twists, you won't find them here. Without giving away anything, I will say that if you don't mind that you can predict the outcome of the film within the first 15-30 minutes and that doesn't bother you, you will have a good time.

I did just that and did have a good time, but was disappointed that there wasn't a final unpredictable plot twist that just helped push this one over to greatness.

That being said, it is a sharp looking film and is worth watching on those merits alone. Scorcese is still one of our best living film directors and is still worth watching.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Working on "THFT!" #74

Today, I begin serious work on completing issue #74 of "The Harveyville Fun Times!" This will be the penultimate issue of my publication, which I have already announced will cease publication with issue #75, unless someone else steps in to take over the editing and publishing duties.

There have a been a few inquiries from others to take over, but nothing concrete at the moment. If you are interested, please drop me a line at As I've said before, those interested in taking over my publication can take the publication in any direction they choose, but I would still like to be able to contribute to it from time to time.

In the meantime, I will be working on #74 at this time, which I hope to get out before Summer, and #75 before the end of this year...

Monday, March 22, 2010

National Lampoon

I was working with my friend, Lee, last Saturday at the Toy Show at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Lee is not one to typically purchase things at these shows, but another dealer was selling a goodly amount of old "National Lampoon" magazines. I was not interested as I have all the issues, or so I thought. In the box was a "NatLamp" I had not seen before which was "National Lampoon's Guide to Ft. Lauderdale" with "National Lampoon's Guide to Daytona Beach" on the flip side. Lee graciously let me have this issue.

Meanwhile I advised him that virtually every "Lampoon" produced in the 1970s is good, especially from 1972 through mid-1979. Some say "Lampoon" lost its touch when everyone went over to "Saturday Night Live" in 1975, but I disagree. There are even some good 80s issues, but the novelty and the nudity had left the pages by that time.

"Lampoon" struggled through the 90s and some of those issues are downright embarrassing, but I was a loyal reader until the end and after 246 issues in 1998, they finally through in the towel. They renegotiated their contract with "Harvard Lampoon" (Harvard's humor publication), and now are not allowed to publish a magazine. They can, however, publish books (and have) and slap their name on the occasional film (which they do).

Lee suggested that I write a book on the "National Lampoon". I may, in fact, do that, but not yet. After struggling through the "Cracked" book for the past year, I need a break and am only working on my Beatles book and any upcoming projects that may come along. If anyone's really interested in such a book, please let me know. I might get off my ass and start work on it, if there is indeed genuine interest.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Creature Features Movie

I am a good friend of John Stanley's, the host of KTVU's "Creature Features" and I am very excited to announce in my blog that he will be doing a version of "Creature Features" LIVE! It's this upcoming Thursday at 7pm at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco.

Stanley will be showing recorded highlights from the old "Creature Features" show as well as the feature film of "Horror Express" which is actually quite good.

The Balboa is at 3630 Balboa Street (37th Ave) in San Francisco. It is recommended to purchase advance tickets as this event may sell out. You can order tickets here! $9.99 a seat.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dennis the Menace is STILL Fun to Read

When I was a kid (70s/80s/now), I bought comic books off a spinner rack at the 7-11 among other places that don't sell comics anymore. Anyway, back then, there were a few different publishers than what exists now.

Of course there was Marvel, DC and Archie, but back then there was also Harvey, Gold Key, Charlton and Fawcett.

Fawcett was originally known for their "Captain Marvel Adventures" and "Whiz Comics" comic books among other titles, but by 1953 after the battle with DC about Superman and the burgeoning furor over comic books that led to the "Comic Code Authority", Fawcett through in the towel.

Ironically, that same year, a comic book debuted by a different publisher called "Dennis the Menace", based on the Hank Ketcham comic strip that debuted in 1951. (There is also a British "Dennis the Menace" that also debuted that same year (1951).)

The comic book changed publishers a few times and by the 60s, settled in at Fawcett, who started publishing again and the "Dennis the Menace" comic books, exclusively. Fawcett also started distributing the Archie comic books as well around this time, but that's another story.

By the 70s, when I was reading, there were three "Dennis the Menace" titles, the main one, "Dennis the Menace and his Friends" and "Dennis the Menace Bonus Magazine". There was also a digest called "Pocket Full of Fun". The titles were published into the early 80s when Marvel took over briefly. There hasn't been a new "Dennis the Menace" comic book in the US since 1982.

Although I purchased these regularly during the 70s, it was never my intention to get a complete run, mainly because of the constant reprinting, I saw virtually every story. The image above is a typical example. They must have reissued "Dennis the Menace in Mexico" at least a dozen times as part of the "Bonus Magazine" series.

So as far as getting a complete set, thanks to Lee Hester of Lee's Comics, every so often he buys a new collection of "Dennis" books and invariably, he has ones I don't have, so I buy them and they are relatively inexpensive, and so I almost have a complete run of all the books. I think I am missing 145 books out of a possible 500 or so books.

I'm in no rush to complete the set as I figure that I will just acquire them slowly over time. It's just fun to get them occasionally and relive old memories of a title long gone, and yes, there are a lot of reprints.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Green California Summit and Exposition

I was in Sacramento for the past two days shooting video for my friend's "green" show, at the Green California Summit and Exposition, and haven't had a chance to blog.

Though I have a working knowledge of all things "green", it hasn't really hit home with me how important some of this "green" stuff is. We did get Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on camera, but sadly no interview, and videotaped many panels and interviewed subjects at the various showroom floor exhibit booths.

All in all, it was a very rewarding event and I definitely learned a lot about things "green" than I had ever known before.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back to Work on My Beatles Book

Since my "Cracked" book is currently being formatted and edited by my publisher, I am going back to work on my Beatles book, now called "Mark Arnold Picks on The Beatles". The image above is a possible cover idea, but is definitely NOT the final cover image or idea. It is used for illustrative purposes for this blog.

Anyway, I am awaiting news on a few other projects and if they don't come to pass, then I will be completing work on this book. I do have a Beatles blog which I am posting daily to, so you can see what my reviews are like. The blog URL is

Currently, I do not have a publisher for this masterpiece, but if you are in the publishing business and would like to publish it, drop me a line at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

I plan to be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 24-25, 2010, to plug my two BearManor Media books ("Created and Produced by Total TeleVision productions: The Story of Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo and the Rest" and "If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The Cracked Mazagine Story"). Here are the details from their website:

Dates & Location

The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held Saturday & Sunday, April 24-25, 2010 at:

View larger map

405 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024

(Event Map coming soon)

Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tickets & Admission

General attendance is free!
For information on attending, see our Attendee FAQ.

Tickets are required for all Festival of Books indoor panel and speaker sessions. Tickets for the 2010 Festival of Books will become available on Sunday, April 18, 2010, at 12 noon through for a nominal fee of 75¢ per ticket. Check back soon for updates.

Please see our Tickets FAQ for more information.

Parking on the UCLA campus is $10.
Free shuttle bus services will connect the outlying UCLA parking lots with the main festival entrances.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Milt Gross is Fantastic!

I had heard of and seen Milt Gross artwork before, but never in such a expansive compilation. Craig Yoe has totally outdone himself by presenting a great talent as Milt Gross in his own volume called, "The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story". The cartoons are fun in two ways: 1) Gross' exaggerated drawing style and 2) the craziness that complements the art in the writing. I knew precious little about Gross before reading this book and the 40-page biography discusses all of Gross' various projects which included songwriting and animation among other ventures.

Gross' stuff reminded me of Al Jaffee's, Robert Crumb's and John Kricfalusi's material, and sure enough, all three are fans, with Jaffee contributing a "Fold-In" introduction to this book.

Yoe maintains the integrity of the individual comic stories by keeping the stylized color dot pattern and off registration of the original pages. The covers are represented by tattered, beat-up, well-read comic books and this fits the bill to justify the rarity of the original books.

There's even a "dog-ear" printed on the back cover of this massive 360-page tome that I even found myself trying to straighten out, so realistic it looks.

Sometimes this replication of worn-out comics doesn't work like in the recent Fantagraphic's "Humbug" collection where the beat up covers made me long for a mint copy of the originals, since the interior reprints were so pristine.

Here, the worn-out look actually accentuates Gross' visuals and make them even more striking as comics that seemingly were put together at the same frantic pace as the art itself.

All in all, a must buy for anyone interested in good funny comic book art. Fans of Jaffee, Kricfalusi, Crumb and even fans of Don Martin, Harvey Kurtzman and Tex Avery should make this a must buy.

$39.99 from Yoe! Books and IDW Publishing.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Harvey Art Show is Back! 2 Weeks Only in LA!

Ok, so actually it's in Sherman Oaks and not LA, but it IS the only Southern California appearance of the Harvey Art Show, and most likely the FINAL appearance of the Harvey Art Show after San Francisco, New York and Pittsburgh. The show will be at Van Eaton Galleries from April 30 - May 15, 2010. Dave Holt and myself will show up and Jerry Beck has confirmed his attendance with me as well. Here are the contact details:

13613 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-2357
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday 10am to 6pm

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Korg: 70,000 B.C.

Does anyone remember "Korg: 70,000 B.C."? I barely did, but I took on the assignment for an upcoming issue of "Back Issue" magazine #43. Actually, the article didn't turn out too badly and I found some interesting images and got some quotes about Charlton comic book artist and writer Pat Boyette, who produced the nine issues based on the 16 episode TV series that aired in 1974-75 on Saturday morning TV.

Anyway, it's another Fun Ideas Production, and I thank you all for continuing to support my work.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cracked Book Update

Here is the cover to my upcoming book called "If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The Cracked Mazagine Story". I started work on this book in February 2009 and just turned in the completed manuscript on March 8, 2010. I still have to submit a disc of the 407 images to be used in the book. Meanwhile, my publisher, BearManor Media will be proofing and formatting the book for the next few months. If it is like my previous book ("Created and Produced by Total TeleVision"), it will be another six months before the book officially sees print. So, look for a September 2010 release date at the very earliest.

The book will be available on Amazon and through Diamond Distribution when ready.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Fun Ideas Productions' 20th Anniversary

Fun Ideas Productions was founded in 1990 by Mark Arnold as Fun Times Productions as the overall publishing company for his magazine "The Harveyville Fun Times!" Over time, Fun Times changed its name to Fun Ideas due to the wide diversity of projects, that now includes video production and art shows. The company is based in Saratoga, CA, near San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Along with publishing "THFT!", Fun Ideas published "Censorshi*", and various articles written by Mark Arnold for other publications including "Comics Journal", "Comics Buyer's Guide", "Hogan's Alley", "Back Issue", "Comic Book Artist", "Riverdale Ramblings", "Comics Source" and even wrote three comic book stories for Shanda Fantasy Arts.

As Fun Ideas second decade started, the time was right to enter into book publishing. To date, three books have been published:

"The Best of The Harveyville Fun Times!"

"Created and Produced by Total TeleVision productions: The Story of Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo and the Rest" with BearManor Media

"If You're Cracked, You're Happy: The Cracked Mazagine Story" with BearManor Media

and soon books on The Beatles, Harvey Comics, and more.

2008 was an important year as Mark Arnold along with Dave Holt helped organize the Harvey Art Show called "From Richie Rich to Wendy the Witch: The Art of Harvey Comics". The show ran successfully from June-December 2008 at San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum, January-June 2009 at New York's MoCCA, July-August 2009 at Philadelphia's Toonseum, and soon in April 2010 at Los Angeles area's Van Eaton Galleries.

Video footage has been taken along the way and some has been posted on YouTube. Eventually, the additional footage will be compiled into a lengthier video format, with plans for more video productions.

Mark Arnold was honored from November 2009-January 2010 as one of the "100 Famous Saratogans"; a list that included Steven Spielberg, Olivia De Havilland and Kerri Walsh among its honorees.

Fun Ideas Productions expansion plans in the next few years include more books, articles, art shows and video productions, and also radio or TV shows or podcasts. The sky's the limit when it comes to Fun Ideas Productions. Remember, if it's a Fun Ideas Production, it's a "Good Idea".

Please contact Mark Arnold today at 408-482-9327 or in order for him to work with you on your multimedia writing and video production needs.

Fun Ideas Productions
P.O. Box 2616
Saratoga, CA 95070