Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide-Day Nine: Pop Culture Books

PopCult is a blog about pop culture, and today The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide gives you five recommendations for books about pop culture. It’s a grand type of synergy.

Britmania: The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture
by Mark Voger
TwoMorrows Publishing
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1605491158

This is another of Mark Voger’s great explorations of pop culture. I’ve recommended his books in the past, but this one is near and dear to my heart, since I’ve been an anglophile from early in my formative years.

Let me quote the publisher’s blurb here:

Remember when long-haired British rock ’n’ rollers made teenage girls swoon ― and their parents go crazy? Britmania plunges into the period when suddenly, America went wild for All Things British.

This profusely illustrated full-color hardback, subtitled “The British Invasion of the Sixties in Pop Culture,” explores the movies (A Hard Day’s Night, Having a Wild Weekend), TV (The Ed Sullivan Show, Magical Mystery Tour), collectibles (toys, games, trading cards, lunch boxes), comics (real-life Brits in the DC and Marvel Universes) and, of course, the music!

Written and designed by Mark Voger (Monster Mash, Groovy, Holly Jolly), Britmania features interviews with members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, the Yardbirds, the Animals, the Hollies and more. It’s a gas, gas, gas!

Britmania is just a pure delight, and is the perfect gift for the Brit-inclined person on your holiday shopping list. You can order it direct from the publisher, or from Amazon at a discount.

KELLOGG’S: The Story of America’s Breakfast King
by Christopher Lock
Independently published
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8411749359

This book may not be part of a complete breakfast, but it will tell you everything you want to know about the company that made “cereal” a household word. Let’s consult the oracle of the publisher’s blurb:

KELLOGG’S! Just saying that enchanted name conjures up childhood memories of eating breakfast at the family table with a bowl full of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, or Rice Krispies! And if a delicious mouthful of sugary cereal wasn’t enough to excite you as a kid, the boxes branded with Kellogg’s mascots certainly did. Colorful images of Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, and Snap Crackle & Pop began your day.

And how many times did you beg your Mom in the grocery store to buy Kellogg’s cereal, especially when the front of the box contained the words “FREE INSIDE”? After it, it could be the highly-coveted Baking Powder Submarine!

But of course, Kellogg’s is more than simply a cereal enterprise. Since its beginnings in 1906 in Battle Creek, Michigan, the Kellogg Company has provided quality convenience foods for families and individuals around the world. To this day, Kellogg’s continues to innovate and purchase companies in order to provide us with some of the world’s best-known brands such as Corn Flakes, Pringles, Eggos, and Cheese-Its to name a few.

More than just an international food company whose origins were based on nutrition, Kellogg’s made eating fun, especially for us kids who couldn’t wait to sink our spoons into a bowl of tasty cereal while staring at the vibrant box in front of us. Even today, enjoying Kellogg’s cereals is like spending time with an old friend; one who starts your day with amusement and imagination, be it a spirited Tiger or a colorful British Toucan.

This book covers the in-depth history of the Kellogg Company; its foundation, products, and motivations for commercial growth. It explores the riveting biography of the Kellogg brothers; their background, personal life, and business interactions – both successful and volatile.

KELLOGG’S: The Story of America’s Breakfast King then covers the products that made Kellogg’s a household word . . . from nutritional convenience food to the cereals enjoyed by generations of kids, including the brands, the mascots, the marketing & advertising, and the merriment that Kellogg’s brings each day.  This book is more than a historical account of Kellogg’s – it’s a literary trip down memory lane of the great convenience foods and fun cereals we grew up with and continue to enjoy.

KELLOGG’S: The Story of America’s Breakfast King is a great gift idea for anybody who has an interest in the fascinating history of breakfast cereal, or the growth of the packaged-food industry. And it’s way more substantial than reading the back of a cornflakes box over and over. Available from Amazon.

I Pity the Dolls
by Greg Rivera Quang Le, Mike Essl
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN: 9780764357244

It may not have crossed your mind, but somewhere in the world, some people worship Mr. T. The man born as Laurence Tureaud is a pop culture icon. Part of this is due to his role in the “Rocky” movies. Some of it’s because of his starring turn in The A Team. A portion of the reason has to do with his time in the WWF or as the star of a Saturday morning cartoon.

It might be hard to figure out, but people love the big guy.

This book features the largest collection of Mr. T memorabilia in the world, including over 150 homemade soft sculpture dolls collected and documented over the past 25 years.

The dolls were made from a pattern book by Miss Martha Originals from Gadsden, Alabama, that in 1983 could be bought at thousands of craft stores in the country, including Walmart.

Inspired by the Cabbage Patch Kid craze of the 1980s, the dolls were made in an unknown amount but probably exist in the thousands. Each doll is a labor of love and represents the skill level of each artisan.

As modern-day folk art they have been recognized as such by the American Folk Art Museum in NYC, and they have toured the world in art exhibitions, including in NYC, San Francisco, Toronto, and Paris, France.

I Pity the Dolls is a hardcover document of this strange phenomenon, with over 300 color images and the complete story of merchandising of a pop culture icon. You can order it direct from the publisher, or from Amazon at a discount.

Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures
by Brian Heiler
PlaidStallions Press
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0991692262

Knock-offs, in case you don’t know, are those cheap, unlicensed toys you find in discount stores, flea markets and other “off the grid” retailers that are inexpensive imitations of popular toy franchises. You’ve probably seen “Spider-Hero,” “Space Wars,” or “Ranger Powers” at some point.

I love this outlaw segment of the toy industry. It’s usually hilarious, often borders on parody, and it’s ultimately validation that the original toy was successful enough to imitate. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and some of that flattery is absolutely hysterical. When you find a knock-off of a toy, that almost always means the original toy was a huge success.

Heiler has wisely chosen to let the pictures do most of the talking here. In most cases, there is little to offer in terms of background information as the makers of the toys operate in the shadows. Oftentimes the manufacturers are anonymous Chinese toy factories who sell their product to distributors who may, or may not, sell them under a particular brand. Brian does a great job of introducing the chapters, and usually says everything there is to say about the toys in the captions. The photos are big, clear, well-lit and make for a great-looking book.

Heiler does a great job covering different eras, too. There are knock-offs in the book dating back to the 1960s, and much more recent things, like the multi-figure packs that combine heroes from Marvel, DC Comics, Pixar and The Power Rangers. Different chapters cover different topics: superheroes; monsters; space toys; movie knock-offs. He devotes the last chapter to “art” knockoffs made by people like Sucklord and Mr. Dan, who make small-runs of bootleg toys, usually for a higher artistic purpose (or parody).

Highly recommended for the toy collector with a healthy sense of humor on your shopping list.You can order Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures directly from the publisher, from Amazon, or from any bookseller by using the ISBN code.

Calendar Girls, Sex Goddesses, and Pin-Up Queens of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s
Jon Ortner
Schiffer Publishing
ISBN: 9780764357886

For the sophisticated aficionado of the female form your shopping list, we have a lovely coffee tabe book that collects and amazing array of some of the most beautiful women ever photographed.

Jon Ortner is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning photographer and author, with six books in worldwide distribution. An avid collector of ephemera, he has spent more than three decades assembling one of the world’s largest collections of photographic pin-up calendars.

From that collections comes a stunning showcase of more than 350 commercial pin-up images, many never before seen, from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. Reproduced with meticulous attention to detail, the evocative images include some of the most alluring and spellbinding women of the 20th century. From playful “girls next door” to Marilyn Monroe’s first pin-up, this is a must-have for any collector and is a classic tribute to the legendary pin-up queen.

Calendar Girls, Sex Goddesses, and Pin-Up Queens of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s may not seem like your typical Christmas gift, but there are plenty of people out there who wouldn’t mind finding these beauties in their stocking.

Available from any bookseller or direct from the publisher.

The 2022 PopCult Gift Guide continues tomorrow withour picks for video boxed sets.


1 Comment

  1. Thomas H. Wheeler

    These look like some fun books!

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