Last week once again I went to Germany’s biggest and most important Comic Convention, the Comic-Salon in Erlangen. It`s taking place every two years in the south of Germany and I have been there every year since 1992. This time it was really great and I´m going to write about it in length but I´m still waiting for colleague Mawil´s photos so it´ll have to wait til next week.
Instead I´m going to present some of my few finds at the vonvention´s huge market of old comics. Actually I promised myself not to buy anything because I have too much stuff at home already. But on the first day almost in the first five minutes of browsing around I stumbled onto a whole stack of Lupo Modern magazines in real good condition. I had been collecting them for a long time in the 90s but stopped when I thought I had all the essential issues. I picked two of the most desirable ones, bargained a little and got away with a moderate price. Only when I sat down at our booth later I realized that this particular issue was from the day I was born: April 27. 1966 !
I first read Lupo Modern magazines in the early seventies when somebody in our house left a whole box of them in one of the apartments when they moved. I still have all of them. Even as a child it struck me as odd that many of them had photo covers. They looked interesting. And what a strange hybrid they indeed had been. In the mid 60s Rolf Kauka (kind of the German Disney) had the idea to publish comic books for the booming teen market. It was the first time that comics were not geared towards little kids any more. Lupo Modern was a mixture of Bravo, Germany`s leading teen magazine and Fix und Foxi, Kauka`s top selling comic book for kids. Lupo Modern published many of the new French comics in Germany for the first time but also articles on Pop and Beat music.
This issue has a two-page spread about German Beat bands, a little story about the Beatles, a Beatles poster, a guitar course by German Beat singer Drafi Deutscher (for “Balla Balla” by the Rainbows, see below) and many comics. Too much stuff to put here so I picked only the music pages. I wished that someday somebody would reissue all these wonderful Lupo Modern magazines in a book. Right now that`s highly unlikely.
I had never seen this issue before. It`s number three from September 1964 when the magazine was still called Lupo and was published monthly. In early 1965 it changed into Lupo Modern and came out every week. This issue has the main character, the unruly Lupo, dressed as a Beatle on the cover. Inside is a photo-story with Rolf Kauka himself and a little kid, probably his son, and many more comics all tied together like several TV-programs.
The whole approach was similar to that of the equally short lived comic magazine “Help” run by Harvey Kurtzman, where Robert Crumb had his first comics published.
After two years the Lupo Modern experiment was dropped. Magazines that mixed comics and Pop music were published in many countries and this was Germany’s first try.
To fit in the Lupo Modern time frame I´m posting these three EPs published by German budget labels “Tip” and “Tempo”. These variety labels published everything from folklore, classical, jazz, pop to beat music. Of course played by no name artists but the records sold for half the price of the real thing. The four big hits (“Die vier großen Schlager”) of 1966 were “Cadillac” by the Renegades, “Let`s Go (Hully Gully)” by Sir Henry and his Butlers, “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs and “Don`t Ha Ha” by Casey Jones and the Governors. Here they are all covered by Tony Tornado(!) and the Ravers. There is probably more to know about Tony Tornado´s true identity but right now I don`t feel like investigating.
TONY TORNADO AND THE RAVERS, Cadillac
TONY TORNADO AND THE RAVERS, Let`s Go
TONY TORNADO AND THE RAVERS, Wooly Bully
TONY TORNADO AND THE RAVERS, Don`t Ha Ha
This four song EP has cover versions of “Wooly Bully” originally recorded by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, “Tossing and Turning” by the Ivy League,”Help” by the Beatles and “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds. With names like “King Suez” for Sam the Sham and “The Stars” for the Beatles the producers were not terribly creative but I guess teenagers got the idea.
KING SUEZ AND THE PYRAMIDS, Wooly Bully
RED COOK, Tossing and Turning
THE STARS, Help
THE GAMBLERS, Mr. Tambourine Man
All three of these records probably had full color sleeves because most of the “Tip” and “Tempo” records that I have do. Some teenager must have thrown them away some 40 years ago. I paid 50 cents for each of them at the flea market that is happening every Saturday across the street. “Honey Bee” was originally recorded by Drafi Deutscher and his Magics, “Somebody Help Me” by the Spencer Davis Group, “Sha La La Lee” by the Small Faces and “The Sun Ain`t Gonna Shine Any More” by the Walker Brothers. Check out those great fake Beat band names! Who wouldn`t want to be called Johnny Smash.
JOHNNY AND THE BLUE CATS, Honey Bee
THE BEAT KINGS, Somebody Help Me
THE BEAT KINGS, Sha La La Lee
JOHNNY SMASH, The Sun Ain`t Gonna Shine Any More
My girlfriend fished this out of a dusty box on one of the rare occasions that we went to a flea market together some years ago. I think both sides are on “Las Vegas Grind” or some other Crypt compilation.
This is the German pressing from 1966 on Golden 12 records. Pretty strange drawing of Alfred E. Newman on the sleeve. Obviously the artist wasn`t familiar with MAD magazine. “It`s a Gas” is a childish twist song interrupted by burping noises. Must have driven the parents nuts to hear it from their kids rooms over and over again…
(UPDATE o9/04/ 2009: During our recent stay in the US, I found a copy of the issue of MAD magazine that “It´s a Gas” originally appeared in, at a cool new comic book store calleed Desert Island in Brooklyn. The flexible cardboard record was missing, but it would have been much more expensive with it than the 4 dollars I paid. Painted in watercolor by Norman Mingo, the long-time Mad illustrator who invented the image of Alfred E. Newman.)
Yeah, that`s the one the Misfits covered.
After a six and a half hour trip Szmon from Kultura Gniewu picked us up from Warszawa Centralna and took us to his nice new apartment. When I visited him last year with fellow Berlin cartoonist Mawil he was living together with his girlfriend in a crammed but incredibly organized 30 square meter apartment. Now they have a much bigger beautifully renovated and neatly decorated place in a old building from the 1930s overlooking the city.
We spend the next day in a park and went to the old part of town. It was the only place were we saw a lot of foreigners: tourists. The beautiful old Warsaw from before the war is only to be seen in this small picturesque area and it was sad to see how much damage the war (or rather Nazi-Germany) had brought to the city.
We went to a small restaurant and I had some delicious pirogie ( stuffed dumplings, a traditional polish dish) .
In the same area we found the Muzeum of Caricature and took these photos in the daylight.
In the evening we returned and met Kasia and Szymon who had come there directly from work.
The director of the museum Wojciech Chmurzynski had already started with his opening speech and Szymon explained that standing next to him was Zuzanna Lipinski, the woman who had invited us.
In the garden outside around 200 people had gathered. As was to be expected most of them grey haired. Just like in Germany the “Cartoon Scene” doesn`t seem to mix with the “Comics Scene”. If this had been a Comics exhibition the crowd would have been a lot younger. Ignorance on both parts is separating two genres that are actually so closely tied together.
The older “Cartoon” fans regard comics as too vulgar and the “Comics” fans think old cartoons are boring.
It was very nice outside in the garden and we sat at one of the many tables were Szymon introduced us to cartoonist Tomasz Niewiadomski. He loves cats and draws comics about them.
The exhibition was very well put together with a lot of original Ha-Ga drawings (mostly black and white line drawings but also some coloured with gouache) spanning from the 30s to the late 60s. Also shown were originals of her book illustrations and her posters, book and magazine covers were displayed.
The whole idea of a caricature museum made me wish for something like that in Berlin. Eryk Lipinski who founded the museum started by collecting cartoons from his colleagues.
It seems unlikely that something like that could happen today when most cartoonist care very little for original cartoon artwork let alone that of past decades.
After waiting out the first big rush to the buffet I finally got up the nerve to introduce myself to Zuzanna. She was happy to see me and apologized for being so busy. Her two daughters who grew up in England had met some members of her family for the first time, so it was also a family get together of sorts. I gave her the two German books and one of the 45s with the Ha-Ga cartoons that I had. Zuzanna gave me a catalogue of the exhibition and told us to come to the party afterwards.
Szymon and Kasia were tired from working all day and went home so Tomasz took us the party. It was held at a old actors cafe (decorated with hundreds of photos of actors) were cartoonists also used to meet. After we had a couple of beers Zuzanna introduced me to her brother, famous polish rock musician Tomek Lipinski and to director Chmurzynski who was quite drunk at that point and insisted I give him my private phone number. When the crowd got smaller we said goodbye to Zuzanna and Tomasz took us for a walk and later called us a taxi.
On Tuesday we didn`t feel like doing much so we spent half the day in a park. In the afternoon Szymon and Kasia took us to the university library. A impressive modern building that has a very huge playful and inventive garden on top of it. In the evening Kasia cooked pasta for us and Szymon showed us how to play “Guitar Hero III”on his X-Box. He was very good on that one Santana song.
On wednesday morning Szymon took us to the train station again and we said goodbye to Warsaw.