Sunday, July 31, 2011

Diagram for Delinquents Update #13: What?


This week's update is coming from our hotel room in sunny Los Angeles! Because of the slow internet connection and our busy shooting schedule, it's going to be a short entry.

As a little wrap-up -- our interview with Dr. Bart Beaty went smashingly. We talked with Bart for three hours about all things Wertham.

Tomorrow we are excited to be shooting at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Blvd!

Next, we have our first submission for the Diagram for Delinquents fan art propmotional card contest. This week's submission comes from Francesco Gambino. Take a look at his promo card:

I'm excited that we have our first entry and I look forward to more in the future. Remember, there will be prizes awarded to the top entries!

Now.... On to the big announcement film supporters, backers, and readers...

We have scheduled an interview on August 23rd with none other than the legendary Al Feldstein!

Need I say more? With Mr. Feldstein we are going to get the insider, front-line perspective that is so essential.

From Mr. Feldstein's website:

"Al Feldstein is a Montana Artist, residing on a 270 acre ranch south of Livingston and north of Yellowstone National Park, where he practices his Fine Art. His brilliant and detailed acrylic canvasses, which include Western Art, Landscape Art, Wildlife Art, Sci-Fi Art and Fantasy Art, give no clue to his nefarious past.

Born in New York City, Al Feldstein studied painting at the High School of Music and Art, and the Art Students League under a scholarship.  After school and summers, he worked in a studio servicing the comic book industry.  During World War ll, he was a Special Services artist.  Upon his discharge, he returned to the comic book industry, packaging magazines for publishers.

At E.C. Comics, he created, wrote, illustrated and edited a popular line of titles which are now collectors' items.  These included horror, such as Tales from the Crypt, science-fiction and suspense, among others.  In 1955, he became editor of MAD Magazine, one of E.C.'s titles.  He took the magazine's circulation from 375,000 to a high of almost 3 million by gathering a staff of talented artist and writers; supervising every phase of its operation, editing and re-writing every word; designing layouts and creating the format that led to MAD's success, including adopting and christening its trademark, the freckle-faced, grinning Alfred E. Neuman.

In 1984, Al retired from MAD, and returned to his first love, painting.  He later moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and spent three years painting the Tetons and their wildlife, placing two paintings in the Top 100 Arts for the Parks.

In 1999, Al was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts degree by Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, and again won a place in the Top 100 Arts for the Parks competition.

In 2003, at the San Diego ComiCon, Al was inducted into "The Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame."
Al is represented by numerous galleries in the Northwest.  He has participated in juried shows where he has received many awards"

So, in the immortal words of my childhood hero..." What, me worry?"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Diagram for Delinquents Update #12: Undercovers


Once again, we begin with another Diagram for Delinquents promotional card. Top prize to the reader that collects them all!! This week's is another minimalist promo, but has a starkness and color I appreciate. I heightened the ever present and always charming 4CP process in those old rags. Gotta love those dots! The more I look at this promo, the one I think, "This is the one." Thoughts? Also, if YOU would like to create your own Diagram for Delinquents promo, please send them to raemmonsjr@gmail.com and we'll display them here. A prize to each contributor!

What a weekend, readers! We had a truly wonderful time meeting (in-person) and filming our subjects this weekend.

First, large, large thanks go to Dr. Steven Kirsh and his family for allowing us to visit, chat, and film. They were gracious beyond any expectations. As we filmed we were immediately struck by Steve's comfort with the camera and his conversational and compelling style. What he has to bring to the film will go a long way. To demonstrate that, I decided to create another video promo with an ecxerpt from his interview. It's called, Undercovers. (See below)

Second, WE HAD A STROKE OF LUCK. Just as I was lamenting that I had no success in contacting anyone involved in the comic book burnings in the late 40's I made contact.

Only three days before our departure I was able to schedule an interview with Vincent Hawley, who was at the Binghamton burnings at St. Pattrick's Academy. He was kind enough to let us visit his vacation home and he talked about that cold day in December of 1948. There is nothing like capturing a first person point of view when one is trying to track down a moment in history. That's where life resides in history, through the individual, his story, his life, his recollections.

Our time in Binghamton was also greatly aided by Gerry Smith, Broome County Historian at the Broome County Public Library and Camille Muscatello, of the Development & Alumni Affairs Office of the Catholic Schools of Broome County. They gave much of their time to us and their leads and information have already and will continue to make contributions to Diagram for Delinquents.

And now for the newest video promo for Diagram for Delinquents: Fredric Wertham and the Evolution of Comic Books:



Coming this weekend: Our interview with Bart Beaty, author of Fredric Wertham and the Critique of Mass Culture. We can't wait to begin this important and essential interview for our picture.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Diagram for Delinquents Update #11: COMMUNITY


Let me first open with another new promo card I made. I kind of like this one. It has more color than the previous promos and I like the presence of the hand in the image. For me, it really evokes the tactile experience of reading comic books. The feel of the pages, turning them, examining them, pouring over them, it can't be replicated. That has always been a special part of reading comics for me.

I prefer the experience with the comics of my childhood. The ones printed on newspaper pulp. The pages of today's comics are slick and sheen. Don't get me wrong, they're quite beautiful, but nothing feels like the old paper.

The crew is excited to be traveling to upstate New York this week to interview Dr. Steven J. Kirsh at SUNY Geneseo. Dr. Kirsh will be featured in the film discussing media, violence, youth.

He has a two-fold contribution to the film.

Dr. Kirsh will provide a critical look at the research on media and the youth. And even more specifically, he has written about the work of Dr. Fredric Wertham, so he will be commenting on him and sepcificially Seduction of the Innocent. I am greatly looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

For the past week I have been trying to get another interview in the hopes to announce it today, but things have been proving difficult.

To be more specific, I have been trying to locate someone that was around during the comic burnings of the late 40's/early 50'sm, specifically in New York state (Auburn and Binghamton). Every time I get a good lead, I get no response or a dead end. I'm starting to wonder if it's going to happen or not.

So... since I haven't been able to locate anyone yet, I made this video promo. It's a bit sensational, but I think it conveys some of the hysteria of that period. It's called, COMMUNITY:


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Diagram for Delinquents Update #10: America's Pastime


I have some great news to announce this week.

First, the crew and I are traveling to visit Broadcast Thought in Los Angeles. This group of three physicians will play an important part in the film's segment on media, violence, and children.

The Broadcast Thought website does an excellent job describing who they are and what they do, so please visit it here. In brief (from their website):

"Broadcast Thought is a group of three physicians, specializing in forensic, child and adolescent, and adult psychiatry, who provide expert consultation to the media and entertainment industries. At Broadcast Thought, we are both medical professionals and fans of film, television, comic books, and other mass media. We add new dimensions to portrayals of mental illness, evolve perceptions of mental health matters, and advance popular media in innovative directions. Broadcast Thought’s goal is to provide “Accuracy in Entertainment and Entertainment in Accuracy.”

Second, two very important names in comics history have agreed to appear in the film. When the crew travels to L.A. in the first week of August to interview the doctors of Broadcast Thought, we will also be visiting with Mark Evanier and Jim Trombetta.

We are thrilled by this opportunity. Both men have made substantial contributions to the field of comics. Mark Evanier is a comics creator, historian, and journalist. He brings another element to the story as well. As a youngster, Mr. Evanier was involved in the world of fanzines and had a very interesting correspondence with Dr. Wertham! You can read about it in his book Wertham was Right!.

Jim Trombetta has compiled a compelling anthology of those early horror comics that are so important to my story. Also, in his book, The Horror The Horror, Mr. Trombetta provides a very lucid analysis of the time period that surrounds these creepy comics.

So, needless to say we are looking forward to a fruitful trip out west as we gather more material for the picture.

Finally, I have another teaser clip from the film. If the below clip doesn't make your comics taste buds water you may be more similar to the walking corpses that appeared in many a comic book page than you thought!

It was so special to spend time with Stephen O'Day. When he opened his collection to us, it was as if history had opened its chest to reveal its beating heart. It was real, tactile; it was the pulp that gathered time on its pages and let us hold it. Material history is living history. It's organic. It gives you arms to the past. And that is not lost to us documentary filmmakers.

In seeing those "all in color for a dime" original comic books and holding them next to Dr. Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent we were transported to the day that Wertham observed them for himself. Without being trite... it was magical.

Enough talk. Observe:


Once again, that concludes this week's update. It is our hope that with each week your excitement and interest builds for the film, just as it does for us!

As we say around the DfD office: MORE IN A WEEK!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Diagram for Delinquents Update #9: This is Only a Test. A Test of the Emergency Broadcast Syst...

So, we have returned from our fruitful trip to interview Stephen O'Day. Stephen was kind enough to answer all our questions as well as open his collection to us. Needless to say, it is remarkable.

From our  interview I have the first sample of footage from the film. As filming progresses I will post clips in various stages of rough or final edit.

This is a clip of Stephen mentioning some of the other pieces of literature that criticized comics concurrently with Dr. Wertham.

I did some lighting and color grading to experiment with the what will be the look of the final interviews. As you can see I will be using backdrops for this picture, a first for me.

The technique: spray-painted garden weed prevention liner! The colors for subsequent backdrops will increase in their boldness as they are meant to represent the bold colors used in the comics.

Excerpt of Stephen O'Day:


ANNOUNCEMENT: David Hajdu has agreed to participate in the film and it appears we will be meeting with him in mid-July. We are most excited by this, as his work is very important to the film. Mr. Hajdu's Ten-Cent Plague will be the backbone for the narrative.

More in a week!