Friday, July 23, 2010


Just finished Sinatra, The Man Behind the Myth, by J. Randall Taraborrelli. It seems to be a balanced biography, including his famed temper, Mafia friends but also his generosity. His marriage to Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow, affairs with Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and apparently, once, Jackie Kennedy. Plus countless showgirls and prostitutes that he had his butler kick out the morning after.
Prefrerring to do only one take in his movies, he would be a perfectionist in his recordings, doing up to 20 takes to get a song right.
And he wasn't a completely heartless bastard, taking the breakup with Gardner pretty hard, even trying to commit suicide.

The book will go up on the shelf, next to Nick Tosches' Dean Martin biography. I've ordered In Black and White, The life of Sammy Davis Jr, by Wil Haygood. In the meantime I'm rereading Rat Pack Confidential, by Shawn Levy.

Why am I reading all these Rat Pack books? I'm not sure. It might have been seeing the first two seasons of Mad Men. It was a fascinating period.

There are two short story collections on my bedside table. Birds of America, by Lorrie Moore, about half finished: very good, and Our Story Begins, by Tobias Wolff, not begun yet.

Walt & Skeezix, vol.4: I found the first part of this book a bit tedious, the whole Madame Octave, kidnapping of Skeezix and Col. Coda's trial for custody of Skeezix-part. There's not really much doubt about how it will end. First in the middle of August, 1927 does the strip come to life, when they go on vacation. For some reason, I find this more appealing than all the melodramatic stuff. But the rest of the book is good.

Prince Valiant, vol. 2 and Captain Easy, vol. 1: I love the drawings in these books, but find it a bit hard to read more than 10-15 pages at the time. Easy is a complete blank, and there aren't the more exciting secondary characters, like in Tintin.
Mark Scultz makes a point of Foster being a cartoonist, not an illustrator, in his foreword. Maybe, but reading the caption "Into the wash-tub he plunges, bringing the clothes-line down in his fall" and seeing the exact same thing in the drawing, is not good cartooning.


  1. I don't know if you've read it but Tosches' biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire, is one of the better biographies I've ever read. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't.

  2. I haven't read that one. I'll check it out.

  3. I'm glad to read that you're enjoying Roy Crane's comics, Jason. I've spent the last couple years tracking down Captain Easy and Wash Tubbs reprints from the 80s, so it's a relief to know fantagraphics will be publishing everything.

    I don't know how much you've read of Crane's work, but I personally prefer the early Captain Easy strips to the later Buz Sawyer. As impressive as his later drawings were, the style became too precise and ornate. He still retained his beautiful cartoon simplicity, but it also bordered on mechanical. Similarly to later Tintin, I suppose.

  4. Captain Easy vol.1 is the only book I've read by Roy Crane so far. I look forward to the Buz Sawyer-book from Fantagraphics.