Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Requiem For Pepperland’s Designer

Edelmann by Panucci, July 2009The PopCulteer
July 31, 2009

RIP: Heinz Edelmann

Here at PopCult we were saddened to learn of the passing last week of Heinz Edelmann, the Czech artist best known as the designer of the classic animated Beatles movie, “The Yellow Submarine.” Edelmann died in Stuttgart, Germany of heart and kidney disease. He was 75.

As a hugely successful advertising and editorial illustrator in post-war Europe, Edelmann developed a distinct graphic style that influenced a generation of artists around the world. In the 1960s he was experimenting with a stylized, neo-Art Nouveau manner, which caught the eye of Al Brodax, producer of a successful animated Beatles television cartoon series for children. He chose Edelmann to be the chief designer of the feature-length animated film, “Yellow Submarine,” built around the classic 1966 song by The Beatles.

Yellow SubmarineDespite the huge success and influence of “Yellow Submarine,” Edelmann admitted that he could never quite connect with the 1960s aesthetic. Once the film was complete, he altered his approach to avoid being pigeonholed as a psychedelic artist.

Born in 1934 in the former Czechoslovakia,Edelmann studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, one of the most progressive institutions in postwar Germany. After graduating in the late 1950s, he began working as a freelance designer, illustrator, animator and teacher. He created posters for the Westdeutscher Rundfunk radio station in Germany, book covers for the Klett-Cotta publishing house in Stuttgart and editorial illustrations for a smartly designed magazine for teenagers, Twen, whose art director was the adventuresome designer Willy Fleckhaus. He also illustrated the first German edition of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”

Edelmann's Tolkien work

After “Yellow Submarine” Edelmann went on to design the mascot for Expo ’92, in Seville, Spain. he also created a series of illustrated essays for the Sunday magazine of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which addressed cultural and political themes in humorous or dramatic ways.

Edelmann does XTCIn the late 80s, Edelmann revisited his psychedelic style to create the cover of the XTC album, “Oranges And Lemons.”

Edelmann continued as an illustrator, designer and teacher until last year.

“Yellow Submarine” and Edelmann’s subsequent work was a huge influence on me, which should be obvious to anyone who’s seen my “Monday Morning Art” or the video below, which was my tribute to Heinz Edelmann.

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Benefit For B.J. Berkhouse

Friends of B. J. Berkhouse are staging a benefit, a night of music in his honor on Saturday, August 8, 2009 at The Empty Glass. B.J. is still recovering from a notorious accident last year, and all proceeds from this show will go to assist B.J. Berkhouse with his soaring medical expenses.

One night last summer while walking in downtown Charleston, B.J. was struck by a drunk driver who jumped the curb and careened up the sidewalk on Capitol Street. His injuries were catastrophic. The driver of the car had no insurance. Additionally, B.J. had no health insurance through his job. He continues to require rehabilitation for the traumatic brain injury he sustained.

Scheduled to appear at the show are Radio Free Charleston guests Spurgie Hankins, The Scrap Iron Pickers, T.J. King (of Electric 102.7) and Friends, Mark & Steve Beckner (recently of Nashville’s Hitchcock Circus), Duo Divertido, Tofujitsu, Diablo Blues Band, and Alan Griffith. The RFC cameras will be also be on hand to document some of the evening’s music. This is a great chance to hear some of the area’s best musicians live, plus help out a person who’s been put through the ringer.

The music kicks off at 6 PM. You must be 21.A required donation of $5 gets you in the door, but you’re always free to make a larger donation, if you’re able.

PopCulteer Photos

A couple of fun photos from a great week.

Dan Jordan entertained the crowd inside Tricky Fish last Wednesday, due to the rain keeping folks off the deck. Dan is seen here with his son, Sam, doing a quick duet.

This week saw the arrival of a new Rudymobile, replacing the beloved Cutlass what went in circles into a wall last December. Nifty, eh? If I might be a little self-indulgent, I’d like to thank Tony Ferris at C&O Motors for helping make this happen.

The Weekend In Cool

Our old friends at LiveMix Studio are swinging their doors open for “August, Shmaugust.” a midsummer’s night of music and fun. Admission is $5, and accommodations are BYOB. Four bands will be blowing off the roof, “Cousin Larry,” “Velvet Bros.,” “King Fish Five,” and “ElectroBiscuit.” The night kicks off at 8:30. This is your chance to check out one of Charleston’s coolest venues. You’ll find it on the fifth floor at 1033 Quarrier Street.

Also this week are two great theater events. The Light Opera Guild’s production of the musical “Rent” opens tonight and runs for the next two weekends, and you still have a chance to catch the Contemporary Youth Arts Company’s original production, “The Shadowman,” which I reviewed here last week.

Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS. Starring in this production are Ryan Hardiman (the winner of Symphony Idol and a friend of PopCult), Chris Conard, Beth Winkler, D’laontie Lewis, Mara Stewart, Nakelia Killing, Michael Barnes and Nathan Mohebbi.

Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased at the Civic Center Little Theatre Box Office or by calling 304.343.2287. Performances are tonight at 8:00 PM, Saturday, 8:00 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM. Also August 6, 7 and 8 at 8:00 PM.

“The Shadowman” can be seen tonight and Saturday night at 8:00 PM at The WVSU Capitol Center Theater. This is an excellent adult drama, with a very talented young cast. Tickets are $9.50 for adults, $5.50 for students and seniors.

It’s a gut-wrenching show with very harsh language. Be prepared for an amazing night of theater.

Comics News Of The Week: Marvelman Returns.

One thing hidden at last week’s gigantic San Diego International Comic Convention was actual news about comics. Movies and TV have taken over so much of the show that’s it’s too easy to miss the really cool stuff coming out in the land of comic books. Here’s the real top story coming out of San Diego last week.

This came out of the blue. Marvel Comics has secured the rights to the character Marvelman, and may finally be able to reprint the classic stories from the 1980s, which featured the early work of two of the most-respected comic book writers in the world, Alan Moore (“The Watchmen,” “V For Vendetta,” “From Hell”) and Neil Gaiman (“Sandman,” “Coraline”). The rights to the character have been tied up in a complicated web of ownership, cross-ownership, expired trademarks and conflicting claims for decades.

In brief: Marvelman was created in 1954 when the British company L. Miller and Son, who were publishing reprints of Fawcett Comics’ “Captain Marvel” had to scramble to replace their flagship character when Fawcett pulled the plug on The Big Red Cheese rather than continue to face lawsuits from DC Comics (who alleged that The Captain was nothing more than a knockoff of Superman). Miller hired UK cartoonist Mick Anglo carried on with a character that was superficially different, but basically the same as Captain Marvel. He changed the hair color of the major characters, changed the color of the uniforms, gave them a different magic word (“Kimota” instead of “Shazam”) and lost the cape. This imitation was more successful than the original, lasting for 700 issues, before the Miller company shut down in 1963.

The character was revived in 1980 in the comic magazine “Warrior” with a new approach. Alan Moore, who was just making a name as a writer, modernized the character, plucking the Atomic Man out of the simple stories from the 50s and 60s and dropping him into a gritty, realistic world. This new direction paved the way for Moore’s “Watchmen” and influenced much of the “dark” comics of the 80s and 90s. They may well be the most influential super-hero stories since the days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

After a name change, to “Miracleman” (under pressure from Marvel, who felt the name infringed on their trademark), the series was published in America by Eclipse Comics. After more than a dozen issues, Moore wrapped up his story, and then turned the book over to the then-unknown Neil Gaiman, who garnered his first major accolades with his work on the series. Unfortunately, the comics industry was in one of their “bust” periods in the late 1980s. Eclipse went bankrupt, and their assets were purchased by Todd McFarlane, the creator of “Spawn.”

McFarlane claimed that he owned the character, even though Eclipse never really had a legitimate claim on Miracleman. Gaiman thought he owned a fraction of the character which had been given to him by Moore. The various artists who worked on the series all believed that they owned pieces. Dez Skinn, the publisher of Warrior Magazine, said that he purchased the rights from Mick Anglo.

Who may not have ever owned them in the first place, since he was only the cartoonist, not the publisher.

So the book has been out of print for more than twenty years, causing back-issue prices to skyrocket.

There were lawsuits that invalidated all of McFarlane’s claims. Skinn’s claims are dubious. The character could conceivably be in the public domain because after the original publisher ceased to exist, the rights were not assigned to anyone and there was no material published for 17 years.

Gaiman, who still owns the rights to his work on the book, if not to the character, cut a deal a few years ago that would allow Marvel to publish reprints of the series, with the profits going to a charity that helps poor comic book professionals with legal and health care costs.

After all that, Marvel Comics has announced that they have finally nailed down the rights, and will be publishing Marvelman. It turns out that Dez Skinn never got around to paying Anglo for the rights to the character, and Marvel’s legal eagles determined that Anglo has the most legitimate claim, so they decided to cut a deal with the aging Brit cartoonist.

The end result is that we’ll finally have affordable access to the great Marvelman/Miracleman stories from the 1980s. The irony here is that Moore’s early stories were re-lettered, changing “Marvelman” to “Miracleman,” but now Gaiman’s stories, which referred to the character as “Miracleman” will have to be re-lettered to change them back. We’ll probably get new stories starring the Atomic Marvel, too.

Unless DC Comics files suit to stop them, that is. The character is heavily documented to be an actionable knockoff of the original Captain Marvel, a character now owned by DC. Chances are DC will do nothing, since they don’t want to upset Gaiman, but I’ve always wondered why they never swooped in and filed suit over the character, since it’d be such an easy case. Anglo has given countless interviews where he detailed how he was instructed to rip off Captain Marvel.

Is There Anybody Out There?

Hey guys. I can understand if nobody made it to the end of last week’s novel-length PopCulteer, but I’m still looking for feedback. Do you like The PopCulteer the way it is, with one big lump of unrelated items piled together into one big Mongolian Clustercolumn, or would you prefer it if I break it up into individual posts throughout the week? How about a little guidance here?

Next week check PopCult for our Sunday Evening Videos, Monday Morning Art, plus the first episode of RFC that will be hosted on the MySpace servers and embedded here. It won’t be a big change, but you’ll be able to see the shows here for more than a week before they go away. I’ll also begin bringing back our more recent episodes in a regular weekly “flashback” until we have all of our shows on line.

1 Comment

  1. Steve Beckner

    Is it just me, or does Marvel/Miracle Man look like “Master Man” from the Invaders series?

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