Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

As 2008 comes to a close and 2009 beckons brightly, calling us forward into new year filled with hope and promise, I want to wish all of you only the best for the coming twelve months. I have a hunch that 2009 is going to be an extra special one for me, and I hope it will be for you as well.

A big thanks to everyone who has paid a visit to The Blog! this year. Each month has brought an increasing number of new friends to the goofy ramblings and nostalgia-filled fun that we try to serve up to you - so expect more of the same (but better!) in the next 365 days.

In the meantime why not head on over to my Flickr photostream for some wonderful work by Alice and Martin Provensen from their 1965 "Aesop's Fables" classic children's book!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mele Kaliki Maka!

OHOHO, the Hawaiian God of Christmas says "Mele Kaliki Maka to all you Haole's out there!!!"

And I heartily second and expand Mr. Ho's somewhat gruff, but well-meaning, greeting. Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates (in it's religious or secular versions) and all the very best of the holiday and winter season to everyone else! I hope your home is filled with good tidings, friends & family, and peace & love.

It's a big wish, but sometimes you have to go for the gusto!

All the best - Glen

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Greatest Holiday Movie EVER!

Yes, this is far and away the LEAST likeliest contender, in my candy-cane scented, snow-covered book, for the Greatest Holiday Movie Ever!
I'm sure many of you have already seen this fantastic, faded, 1964 favourite, as it's been knocking around the internet for a couple of years now and has probably been blogged to death already. But since I only discovered it last week for myself I figure there may be some of you too who have yet to experience the scrumptious soufflé of delight and discomfort that is "Santa's Enchanted Village". And if I can touch but one tiny heart this season who has yet to sample the amazingnessmous that is S.E.V., it'll all be worth it.

I was familiar with the concept of this chain of 1950s and 60s Christmas-themed amusement parks from an old copy of a Dennis the Menace comic book (illustrated by one of my art heroes Al Wiseman) wherein the Menace family visits said tourist spot....

But nothing could have prepared me for the worst written, worst photographed, worst acted, worst edited, and worst directed short film I have ever seen. So watch both six minute parts below and be sure to stick with it, it only gets more horrible with each torturous moment!

Think of it as my holiday gift to you all!
You're welcome.

Part 1.....

Part 2.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) Past: Part 2

Read Part 1 first if you haven't already whydontcha!?

After two weeks of delays we once again return to my nostalgic look back at favourite playthings from my 1970s past, culled mostly from Christmas morning and birthday afternoon photos otherwise shrouded in the foggy veils of time. But as the world outside my window is now covered in a blanket of new fallen white stuff (there was an explosion at the nearby flour factory again), I'm even more in the mood to talk about.... Toys!

We start this installment with a POLACOLOR© moment from December 25th, 1975 showcasing my dad and seven year old me (okay, just my dad) assembling the Evel Knievel Stunt and Crash Car. Since he had built more than a couple actual, full-size racing cars by hand, and my resume in this area consisted only of automobiles of the Lego variety, I guess I differed to his experience on this matter. I'm not sure if I got the more ubiquitous Stunt Cycle at the same time, or at a later date. But it lasted longer (more than 32 years and counting) than the Stunt car did.

That purple and orange object in the middle left is a dough (not Play, but of the home-made variety) bracelet I made for my mom. She kept it until it was too damaged by water in a bad house fire a few years ago.

Case Study #2: my 8th birthday party, September 1976. Although I was happy to get a big stack of Golden Exploring Earth books (with great covers by Rod Ruth) I think it's safe to say that the Six Million Dollar Man action figure I got that years was at or near the top of my wish list. From that point on I didn't look quite as goofy making all those bionic sound effects on my own.

Well... at least to me.

Exhibit "C": Christmas morning 1973. As my OshKosh B'Goshed sister looks on from the background my dad schools two cousins and I on the finer points of Mark Three gamesmanship. I think my dad secretly wanted me to win this combination of Tic Tac Toe and bowling because we were wearing matching colour shirts.

I don't know whether this next item was a birthday or Christmas present, or even it you could consider it a toy, but it's a gosh-darn cute photo that I promised months ago I'd post and so, dagnabbit, I'm going to! My dad visited the local auction house in our old home town when I was growing up and, consequently, would occasionally bring us home good condition used toys. That's how my sister and I, although born in in '68 and '72, were exposed to toys from a slightly older generation such as Mike Hazard - Double Agent, Major Matt Mason's Cat-Trac, and I'm sure we had this Zeroid.

Included amongst these older toys was one of my most beloved childhood playthings, this 1956 Garton Hot-Rod pedal car. Customized by my mom and dad circa 1970 with padded foam cushion and my name on the side - I drove this thing until the wheels fell off. No, really. The wheels fell off.
As the years went on I asked my dad what had happened to the car but the answers became more and more vague until I finally gave up, thinking that he had trashed it or given it away, broken axle and all.

Then for Christmas (notice theme) about four years ago he showed up with it! He had stored the car away in a garage, finally dug the thing out, welded the axle back on and voila!

Never was I happier to have been re-gifted with my own present! And as an added bonus, here's a close up and background ( can it really be both of those conflicting things? I say YES!) on the spiffy racing helmet I am wearing in this shot.

And so we end this amazingly self-indulgent (but what are blogs for, anyways?) look back at my toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) past with this grainy black and white photograph from 1971 capturing a quiet moment as, wrapped in a warm blanket, my spring horse ("Horsie") and I take a nap. Although on closer inspection it appears my eyes may be open and this was merely a posed shot, I choose to believe this was how I slept every night. Which might explain a few things about me.
But then again I also choose to believe that Francis Ford Coppola stole this idea from me for the famous scene in his 1972 film, The Godfather.

So what do I know.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!

Although more common during winter in most of the rest of Canada, we don't get much in the way of snow here in downtown Victoria. Once a decade or so there'll be a heavy fall. But many years we won't get any at all. And this early in the season is even more rare. So with temperatures at far below normal this was the scene Victorians awoke to on this lovely December morning.

Now I just have to dig my car out!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"In Concert - Rolf Harris!"

31 years ago this evening you would have found, had you been looking, nine year old me and a couple of family members in the audience at the new Beban Park Auditorium in our old home town town of Nanaimo, B.C. Also there that night was a man who just happened to be hosting a popular half-hour Canadian TV program that year, Rolf Harris. Yep, that kangaroo-tyin'-down, didgeridoo-playin', Stylophone-shillin', artist and musician himself.

The Australian-born, U.K-based entertainer was spending a lot of time in Canada during this period and I well remember the mixture of songs, live giant-sized art, and stories that his variety show featured. I'm assuming his concert performances consisted of the like, since I can only remember a snippet or two - mainly his classic Jake The Peg routine. I do remember I enjoyed myself, and so was happy to run across the above newspaper ad in a copy of the Nanaimo Daily Free Press from December 1977.

Rolf was never as popular in the States as he was in Canada, and his Canadian popularity never approached the success he's had in the U.K. Although fading from Canadian television screens and most people's consciousness as the 80s proceeded (along with fellow international 70s stars with large Canadian fan-bases such as Roger Whittaker and Nana Mouskouri) the talented Mr. Harris' popularity has continued in Britain. Despite a recent slip-up in the press, Rolf's still going strong at 78.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Diggin' Through the Audio Vault

Back in December 2003, long before this here blog, I contributed a post to the WFMU 365 Days Project, a daily audio posting of unusual music and audio from the collections of fans of cool & strange listening pleasures from around the world. Since I've just been made aware of the fact the 2008 marks the 80th anniversary of the first appearance in print ads of The Jolly Green Giant I thought it'd be a swell time to dig up, once again, this auditory oddity. Now all my bloggy friends can ogle this swanky 1949, 6½" 78rpm disc celebrating JGG's 20th birthday (yeah I know... the dates are a bit fuzzy here. But go with me on this willya?...). And best of all - if you follow this link (and click the blue arrow to play) , you can read the whole story, marvel at the wonder that is the B side of this rockin' red record, all whilst (and at the same time) listening to the whole shebang in it's scratchy, scarlet sonoriocity!

Ho, Ho, hold on to your headphones!

With a big thanks to my pal Brian Linds for digitizing this for me - five years later and I still don't have a turntable that plays 78s!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Moment of Reflection

Forrest J. Ackerman in 1980. Photo courtesy FM..

I have to interrupt the usual frivolity on this blog to mention some sad news in the world of Science Fiction / Fantasy and Horror filmdom today. Forest J. Ackerman, the founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland, coiner the term "Sci-Fi", attendee at the first Science Fiction convention in 1939, author, agent, and the inspiration & discoverer of many of the icons of science fiction such as Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen, passed away on December 4th at the age of 92. It was through FM that I first knew of "Forry" and his tongue in cheek writing style that has had not a small influence on the tone of this very blog. The distinctive look of the that magazine, especially the hand lettering used throughout has had a VERY strong influence on many artists and illustrators including myself.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a few minutes of Forry's company on a couple of occasions in the late 1990s and his undying love for the field he helped shape deservedly gave him the title of #1 fan. His influence on popular culture cannot be underestimated and he will be missed.

Also today news that 1950s pin-up icon Bettie Page has been hospitalized in critical condition after a heart attack. After a decade as a popular pin-up and fetish model Bettie faded from public view in the 1960s only to experience an unexpected resurgence of interest in the 1980s after younger fans, including the late Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens, featured her image in new works.

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Ms. Page and her friends.

***UPDATE: Friday, December 12th - I'm saddened to have to anounce that Ms. Page passed away yesterday, Thursday the 11th at age 85. I think it's safe to say, however, that her photographs will live on as an influence on pop culture for a very long time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Toys of Christmas' (and maybe one or two birthdays) Past: Part 1

Since December is officially now here I can start thinking about Christmas. And when I officially start thinking about Christmas I naturally think of Christmas' of the past. And who can't think of Christmas' past without letting their mind drift back to the warm, treasured memories of time spent with family and friends. And who can't think of famili....... oh, forget it... LET'S LOOK AT OLD PICTURES OF TOYS!!!

First up: GNIP GNOP. You heard me correctly... GNIP GNOP!

December 25th , 1971. Apparently there's been a bit of a resurgence of this reversely named wonder recently, but this is the last one I ever saw. It seems my thirteen year old uncle and opponent in mortal Gnip combat had been forewarned of my Christmas gift and decided to dress colour appropriately. Also note cotton batting placed strategically on neighbouring houses to approximate that classic winter look that the people seemed to like so much back then.

December 25th, 1972. Well, one year later and it seems that the age-old rivalry between uncle and ten-year younger nephew hasn't let up one bit. This time though, the gloves have come off. Well... since the Rock'Em Sock 'Em Robots pictured below didn't really need gloves to pugilistically pummel each other's iron housings I guess they never had gloves to begin with. But you get the drift.
Note the thumb-based or "Belotserkovsky" grip used by my uncle, in contrast to the "Whittington" palm style of play I was incorporating at the time. I soon came to realize it's weaknesses in European tournament play though and moved on to the more widely accepted (but since discredited in that notorious 1979 "Rock'em - Shock'em" electrification scandal) "Flurtlepharver" stance.

Flashing forward two years to December 25th 1974 finds me all prepared for a Partridge Family Christmas. Unfortunately it wasn't that Partridge Family - but the Herbert & Ethel Partridge's who lived four houses down. I was quickly ushered back home with Mr. P muttering something about "If they locked him in this wouldn't keep happening!" mixed in my memory to the soundtrack of snow crunching beneath my the soles of my stylin' Eaton's "Young Set" Oxford's with extra vinyl-reinforced uppers.

Big Jim's Sports Camper, however, was to be found under the tree at my house. So we later find me happily inspecting the quality 1970s workmanship of this fine recreational vehicle and accompanying fishing boat. Pretend bathtub fish, watch out!

Which, for no particular reason, leads us back to 1970 and my favourite toy of all time! The one that has served me best for nigh on these past 37 or 38 years of satisfaction and accomplishment. The object that has allowed me to express who I am and which has made me what I am today...

That plastic cup in the lower left.

On the next episode of Glennie's Toy Time: Car jumping horses! (Although the word "and" should probably be in there somewhere).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We Cover It All!

Hey gang - the latest issue of Canada's history magazine for kids, KAYAK, is on the stands now! And by some strange quirk the cover seems to be doodled by one G Mullaly. Go figger!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

30 Years Ago This Month!!!

Nov 17th-23rd "Focus Magazine - Leisure and T.V. Guide" from the November 17th, 1978 edition of the Nanaimo Daily Free Press newspaper, Nanaimo, B.C. Canada.

It's hard to believe that I almost let this one pass without commemorating it here! Yep, as a child of the late 1970s gaga for all things fantastical and star-related this had a big impact on my ten year old psyche. So I just had to mention the 30th anniversary of the airing of one of the most monumental television events in the history of the cathode ray tube...

That great season two episode of "The Love Boat" where Larry Storch guest starred!!!

Read about The Star Wars Holiday Special

Learn all about The Star Wars Holiday Special!

Dare I say... even WATCH the Star Wars Holiday Special?!!!

Originally uploaded by totally70s.

Oh, yeah... Larry Storch

Monday, November 24, 2008


I recently ran across a couple of swell 1960 magazine spreads by the previously-featured-on-this-here-blog Canadian illustrator Gerry Lazare. These are the first adult audience aimed works I've seen by the talented Mr. L and I'm pleased to share them and some more of his stupendous kid's reader illustrations over at the Flickr.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back to the Blog!

Deadlines over the past week have left me remiss in my sworn blogging duties. So let me make amends with this link to a number of swell vintage spot illustrations and ads (like the one above by favourite Dan Lawler) from magazines of the late 50s and early 60s over at my Flickr photostream.

As I go through my old magazine collection looking for inspiration for my work and for suitable (read: stuff I like) material to share here and at Flickr, there are a few peices that get passed by the first go 'round. So every once in a while I go back through things and grab some of the also-rans.

Second chance? Yes. Secondary quality? Not on your life!

Don't believe me? Then please to peruse the pretty pictures for proof!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More George, by George!

Back in June of 2008 I posted a foggy reminiscence of a local live event starring "George of the Jungle" at a local mall in 1976 that I attended as a seven year old. I posted a button and hand-typed, mimeographed advertising handout from the gig, but had only the sketchiest of memories of the actual performance and asked for help from the viewers to fill in any info they might have.

Well... the response hasn't exactly been overwhelming, but I did manage to run across the above ad in a late March 1976 copy of the Nanaimo Daily Free Press newspaper. It doesn't explain the whole shebang in stunning detail, but it does fill in a couple of details here and there.

And with a name like "Jungle Fever Night" the timing was perfect! They beat that popular disco movie by almost two years and coincided perfectly with first two major outbreaks of the Ebola virus in '76. Who wouldn't have wanted to go?!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™

After making my way through 40 years of life without ever feeling the need to own a camera - borrowing one occasionally from friends or family whenever I wanted to record something for posterity - I decided that the occasion of a long-overdue vacation in late September would be just the impetus I needed to finally pick up one of them fancy-dancy, new-fangled picture-makin' machines.

Although I purchased it a couple weeks before the planned eight day roadtrip down through northwestern Washington State to Portland, Oregon and back through Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and home to Victoria I decided this leisurely trip filled with ferry rides, museums, second-hand book & record stores, and exotic foreign dining spots with names like "Burgerville" and "Jack in the Box" would afford me ample opportunities to fully field-test my shiny new Canon A590.

Little could I have known that one week & one day, and five hundred memory card-busting, full resolution photos later I would return with what, learned pictorial archivists and image historians would later informally christen "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™".

Did I take some interesting photos? Maybe a few. A half dozen - or, let's be generous... call it an even ten.
Sure. Ten interesting photographs. A couple nice ones of the monorail entering Seattle's Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum (designed by Canadian Frank Gehry). One or two nostalgic glimpses of the unchanged 1960s decor that permeates the car ferry "M.V. Coho" on the two hour trip from Victoria to Port Angeles WA. A few more more here and there. Ten measly snapshots with enough going on in each frame to hold your eyeballs focused for a few seconds. But if you do the math, and I have - believe me, I have...., that leaves four hundred and ninety clunkers wasting precious digital acreage on my hard drive.

Now, I remember a photographer friend once telling me that to get the one shot that makes it to the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue they take thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of photos that never make it. But at least in every one of those discarded images there's a BEAUTIFUL SUPER MODEL WEARING A BIKINI! My used shots consist of an endless number of nearly identical views over the top of my steering wheel as I motor down another indistinct section of the I-5. Or carbon-copy images of depressingly similar hotel rooms. Or even such mindless time wasters as just pointing the camera down to the ground and capturing for all time immemorial the early-evening-in-late-September-2008-mall-movie-theatre-parking-lot condition of my pant cuffs and sneakers.

Now, could I have taken more interesting shots?

You betcha.

Many was the time a primo photo opportunity availed itself to me such as...

-The auditorium-sized top floor meeting hall of an ornate, turn-of-the-century Elks Lodge building turned into a massive antique furniture and vintage radio graveyard located in an antiques mall in Centralia WA. Left the camera in the car a few blocks away and didn't bother to go back for it.

-The nostalgia-fueled magical wonderland that is the most well-stocked vintage toy store I've ever visited - Billy Galaxy. Inexpensive?... no. Amazing?... yes. On this, my second visit, I staggered out after a couple hours with a paper grocery bag half-full of treasured childhood memories and a substantially lighter wallet. Luckily Mr Galaxy is a flickr member and has a few shots of his store posted to give us a taste.

-The inside of the highly recommended Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. This time I took my camera, fully intending to snap away at the original art, props, costumes, and wide selection of ephemera from the history of Sci-Fi literature, films, TV and more that permeated my childhood. Unfortunately starting with a very firm warning on my ticket and continuing to posted signs, a verbal warning from the cashier, a peremptory lecture from the ticket taker at the door and finally by the constant employee patrols - it was made clear that no photography - anyhowanywaynosireebobuhuh - was allowed. Apparently this hasn't always been the case though as the above links lead to a few hundred shots from inside this hallowed hall of geekdom.

-The historic meet-up with talented animation director, illustrator, flickr pioneer and fellow vintage illustration collector Ward Jenkins (and his swell family) in his home base of Portland. We spent an afternoon invading a number of funky used book and magazine stores ferreting out kid's books from the 1940s, '50s and '60s searching for our favourite artists. Intoxicated by the aforementioned ferreting (or the inhaled 50 year old paper mold) neither Ward nor I, despite fully planning to document our late-summer summit photographically, remembered to take any photos until a couple hours after we parted ways. What follows is an attempt by historians, using the only existing source material and what scant biographical information that survived, to re-create that momentous occasion...

So what was I left to display as a travelogue of my roadtrip? How about this awarding winning masterpiece documenting the contents of my trunk on day 5!...

Or this last-minute (after realizing I had no photos of myself other than hands and feet) timeless self-portrait (one of seven, yes seven!) taken en auto while waiting for the B.C. Ferry I was on to dock the night I returned...

So... what have we learned from this exercise in missed moments and digital dullness?

TAKE - CAMERA - EVERYWHERE! Yep, simple as that. I'm sure most of you already knew that, but I guess I had to learn the hard way that whilst traveling I need to carry my camera with me at all times. And to use it whenever I can.

I guess "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™" turned out to serve a purpose after all.

*Add a "1"to the left, plus about 30kms to this number to get the final length of my roadtrip as seen in this thrilling, final testament to "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™".

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yes and Know!

It that time again! The new issues of Yes and Know magazines, Canada's favourite science mags for kids, have hit the newsstands. This month you have double the Glen goodness with a cover and spread to enjoy.

The latest issue of Yes (above) features a Roman-type chariot race on the cover by yours truly. I enlarged a couple of sections from it to share as a sneak peek a while back on my flickr photostream...

Cover detail 1
Cover detail 2 (this one features a literally behind-the-scene view of the crowd)

... but to enjoy the whole shebang you'll just have to haul yerself down to the local bookstore or newsstand kid's magazine rack .

AND... the November / December issue of Know spotlights my regular "Know Fun" puzzles and games feature. This issue's theme of "Peculiar Plants" was fun to turn into a very busy puzzle filled with wacky people and plants. For a small sneak preview click here.

Both of these publications are brought to you by the swell bunch of good eggs at Peter Piper Publishing and I can't recommend them highly enough.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloweens Past!

The ghosts of vintage children's Halloween publishing have appeared in the form of happy costumed animals and perky kids in my photostream at flickr this week. But don't take my word for this shocking bit of holiday-related news... check out the swellness yourself!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Darth who?!

Click image to enlarge.

With Halloween a week away I thought it'd be a good time to dig up, from the October 30th, 1977 edition of the Nanaimo (British Columbia) Daily Free Press (my old hometown paper don'tcha know), this phantastic photographic pairing of classic characters new and old.

Apparently as it had only been five months since the release of "that space movie" 11 year old Darcy felt the need to add Darth Vader's name and cinematic affiliation to the dome of his shiny black helmet just in case any out-of-the-loop grandmothers or non-movie-goers mistook him for a generic gas-masked ghoul or oddly angular vampire. Little Bo Peep's portrayer felt no such need.

Oh, how the world has changed... (heavy sigh... wistful tear, pensive gaze off into the distance as if attempting to recapture lost innocence and all those collectible toy packages that got thrown away with the wrapping paper they came with, and... fade to black.)

More vintage Star Wars Halloweeness at the certainly-swell-if-I-do-say-so-myself "Growing Up Star Wars : 1977-1985" group at flickr.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Iliad and the Odyssey

Eagled-eyed readers of this here bulogue may have noticed in the cluttered jumble of thrift store finds in a recent post a little book that I was very, no... make that VERY... hmmm, still not strong enough... SUPER DOUBLE EXTRA VERY HAPPY to have found after looking for it for the three years that I've known of it's existence.

Published in 1956 and illustrated by childrens book tag team masters, and husband and wife team Alice and Martin Provensen it is, in my extremely biased opinion, one the the finest illustrated kid's books I've ever seen. In fact I like it so much that it pre-emptively influenced a job I did last year on a similar theme.

So if any of this hyperbolic hyperbole has got yer attenzione then take an odyssey of your own through a few pages of this treasure that I've shared on my flickr photostream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Flickr Updates

A helpful reminder to those of you who read my blog but don't often check out the images on my flickr photostream that you're missing out on some great stuff this week. Earlier I shared some photographs of recent items added to my ever growing collection of STUFF, including the vintage mechanical pencil leads and boxes below.

Today I posted a number of images from an excellent late 50s - early 60s children's book (above) called "The Donkey Who Wanted to be Wise" , featuring the illustrations of Robert Marsia.

Up next... who knows? That's part of the fun.

Okay, I just haven't thought that far ahead yet!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Star Wars Sale Saga!

Above: Newspaper advertisement, Thursday August 21st 1980, The Nanaimo Daily Free Press, Nanaimo B.C., Canada.

Waaaaaay back in May of 2007 I posted a series of photos to my photostream over at the photo sharing site flickr detailing a 1980 Star Wars themed car dealership sale that I had a hand in making happen. I recently unearthed a few more images detailing this momentous moment in marketing memory (at least for me!) so I thought I'd compile and expand the whole shebang into one big nostalgic ball and repost it here. Let the photo-assisted reminescencing begin!

In August 1980 I was an 11 year old Star Wars freak. Since my step-father at the time was the manager of a local Lincoln Mercury car dealership and The Empire Strikes Back had been in theatres for a few months it was inevitable that my two worlds would collide.

I assume that the idea was..."Star Wars is popular with the kids. The kids will get their parents to bring them to the car lot. We'll sell the parents a new 1980 Gran Marquis with unreasonably high financing as the kids meet their movie heroes!" Although I don't remember the details I'm sure I had an influence on this sale happening, since my life had been revolving around Star Wars for the previous 3 years and any way I could get more Star Wars into my life I jumped at.

So a plan was hatched - Hire some Star Wars characters to appear at the dealership, decorate with some Star Wars themed images, provide hot dogs, coffee and donuts and balloons, and most importantly... run a couple of big Star Wars themed ads to get the folk's attention and their feet on the lot.

Above: Full-page newspaper ad, August 1980, The Nanaimo Daily Free Press, Nanaimo B.C., Canada. Click for larger image.

When it came time to put together the newspaper ads I supplied my personal copy of "The Art of Star Wars" book to the ad department of the local paper to use for the reference photos. This was the most treasured book I owned and it came back with tape scars and rips all over the key pages. To say I was unhappy would have been an understatement (insert ominous forshadowing music here), but as I went on to a career as an illustrator it was only the first time in a long history of printers damaging, destroying or losing my art or property.

Copyright infringement was not as strictly enforced in 1980 as it is today, and since someone would have had to go out of their way to contact Lucasfilm in California to alert them about this goofy little sale in a somewhat out-of-the-way mid to smaller sized Canadian city I don't think anyone was too concerned about getting permission to use the likenesses of everyone's favourite intergalactic space heroes.

Quickly enough, the weekend of the sale and the stars of my favourite movie in the ENTIRE WORLD arrived.......

To the sounds of the Main Theme from Star Wars ( my copy of the Star Wars double LP soundtrack was on the dealership's console stereo in the showroom) the main attractions had appeared! Now I knew that they weren't going to be the original actors or costumes from the movie (after all I was 11 not 5), but I was under the belief that the company in Vancouver (Rob Haynes Productions) that was supplying the actors and costumes had high quality outfits and that they would look great. Great was not the word I would have used.

According to a later newspaper peice on the sale the characters arrived from Vancouver (a two hour ferry sailing from Nanaimo) in two special, limited edition Lincoln Continental convertibles. I don't remember and unfortunately don't have any photos of this grand entrance, but the disappointment must have started soon after.

First up : C-3PO (as advertised in the newspaper ad) never showed up. I don't remember now but it might have been an issue of overbooking. Not a good start. Then the characters that did show up looked only slightly more authentic than the homemade Star Wars costumes my friends and classmates had made for ourselves for the Halloweens of 1977, 1978 and 1979.

Darth Vader (or "Darth Vadar" / "Darth VBader" according to the ad and following article) was the most authentic of the three. About 5"10, wearing black dress slacks and a turtleneck sweater. An off-the-shelf Don Post Darth Vader mask. Flat black cloth chest plate. No lightsaber. No cool breathing sounds.

Despite the blurriness of the Kodak moment below you can clearly see the high quality construction and attention to authentic original film detail of the Chewbacca and Stormtrooper costumes. Chewie ( played by a pot-bellied, 6' 3"-ish fellow ) wore a standard gorilla or bear suit (notice the gap between the bottom of the mask and suit!) with another retail Don Post mask that I'd seen in the window of a magic store on my occasional trips to the capital of Victoria.

But the piece de resistance was the Stormtrooper (or "Star" stormtrooper according to the paper) costume....Don Post mask, okay...fine. Actually pretty good. I was impressed at the time. But I guess they figured that the mask was so realistic that the rest of the outfit wouldn't be noticed! Over a loose fitting black jumpsuit, the trooper wore a white ( no markings at all ) soft leatherette bib thing and waist piece. Another couple of pieces on the forearms and leggings. No gloves. Plus black shoes! It looked horrible. I was not pleased.

I don't know how much the dealership paid to hire these guys from the promotions agency in Vancouver, have them come over on the ferry, do the gig, put them up in a motel overnight, do the second day and then back on the ferry to Vancouver - but it couldn't have been cheap.

Hopefully the sale went well, but I'm curious to know if the it was worth the cost. In my mind at the time it had been a real bust. But my loss is your gain as we got some great photos out of the deal!

In what I assume was a gesture of thanks for coming up with the idea, lending my expert assistance and photos / records, etc the folks at the dealership gave me this trophy with the classy inscription "Star Wars Trophy for advertising"...

Needless to say my sister and I didn't attend the second day of the sale and there was not a Star Wars / Return of the Jedi sale three years later.

Luckily as a coda to this sprawling saga I recently found, while trawling through poor quality microfilm copies of my old home town papers, this follow-up article on the sale. I'm not sure if it was part of the advertising deal or just a straight human-interest piece, but in the following Monday's paper those who attended this momentous event in Nanaimo sales promotions history could relive the experience through the eyes of a jaded beat reporter. And those who had missed it could could only wonder (incorrectly) at the marvels they had missed. Be sure to click the image for all the gory details.

Apparently there were other unlicensed SW automobile dealership promotions elsewhere. Check out this link from Star Wars überfan Gus Lopez and scroll down for a couple of small photos and brief description of an even sadder looking cast of characters riding on a pick-up for a New Jersey dealership event...

And if the whole retro Star Wars thing turns your crank be sure to visit the flickr group "Growing Up Star Wars: 1977-1985" co-started by your's truly. It's chock full of personal childhood Star Wars nostalgia. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Road Trip Goodies!

Periodicals Paradise and Cameron's are two spots any self-respecting fan of vintage magazines should be sure to hit when visiting Portland Oregon. Although plenty picked-over and not what they used to be ( in the good old days of 2006 when I was last there ) I still still really enjoyed sifting through the stacks at both of these pulpy places for those elusive publications I'm always searching for and all those I yet know exist.

One item form the former category ( albeit one not on the folded list with microscopically small printing I carry tucked away in my wallet for just such vintage magazine searching emergencies... What? - You're saying you didn't realize I was that much of a dork?!) was this 1950 Columbia Records catalog I stumbled upon in a box of music related paper ephemera at Cameron's during the trip. Interesting in it's own right for fans of music such as myself this tiny tome lists every Columbia (as in the "C" from CBS) records release from the period. But... even more exciting is that this swell two-colour (green and black for those of you from the colourblind crowd) cover illustration was created by none other than Mr. James Flora.

"Flora who?!" you may ask.

Jim Flora was simply one of the most unique, interesting and influential illustrators and designers of the 1940s, 1950s and 60s. But don't take my word for it! Here's another recent find, this time a thrift store purchase. Flora illustrated scores of 78", LP and even single covers - like this Glenn Miller gatefold double 7".

Both of these are up on my Flickr photostream right now along with some other recent finds. But if you want to cut to the chase and get to the fantastic Flora features first why not swing by the Jim Flora Art group on Flickr, or go straight to the source at JimFlora.Com!