Billy Bunny and Daddy Fox

Found this old book Billy Bunny and Daddy Fox at a used bookstore on Adams Avenue this week. There are a few good used book and magazine stores on that street and are worth spending some time in browsing. There were several volumes of the Billy Bunny series in the store but this one contained art I preferred over the others, even though one book contained a drawing of the Luckymobile tearing through a forest that I was loathe to pass up for the time being.

Billy Bunny was a series of books written in the 1920s by David Cory for children featuring the tales of a young rabbit and his many adventures. One of the main themes of the stories seems to be about Billy and his friends and their attempts to avoid being eaten by their carnivorous peers. From what I read, most of the entries are typical cautionary tales about trusting strangers and bachelor uncles.

Each book contains a few minimally colored illustrations credited to artist Hugh Spencer. The art is wonderfully simplistic and un-apologetically two-dimensional. I chose to purchase this volume in the series over the book containing the Luckymobile (reminiscent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) because I really got a kick out of the the two pages featuring the the bourgeois rabbit exploiting proletariat child labor and the ambushing bobcat.

Click the pictures to make Flemish-sized. Enjoy!

Bonus advertisement section!

Bypass to Otherness

Bypass to Otherness was published by Ballantine books in 1961, featuring stories originally published in the 1940s. The 1960s were a boom time for science fiction paperbacks as great “new” authors made the scene. Not many people where aware that savvy publishers had mined the past by raiding the contents of decades of old pulp magazine material and packaged it as new with abstract, vaguely SF-themed art for a modern audience. Aided by the growing counter-culture, science fiction was reintroduced to an entire generation, granting another life to semi-retired, marginal or forgotten authors and ensuring that alternate thought, ideas and art would not entirely vanish as cheap pulp magazines crumbled with age.

Lunchtime with Sleestak

Typically I prefer to take my breaks from work in the office. It is quiet and I am left alone to enjoy my meal and get caught up on paperwork or read and maybe watch a flick on the laptop. Often customers, oblivious or just being jerks about it, intrude with problems real or imagined if a manager is found in public. On this day I chose to take my lunch break out in the public seating area due to meetings in the office.

For a few minutes I watched the Hayley Mills film In Search of the Castaways, one of her successes from 1962, loosely based on a Jules Verne story. This film is noteworthy for featuring Hayley Mills’ first adult on-screen kiss. Not a bad film, though dated and meant for a young audience. It is equal parts fun, ridiculous and Wold-Newtonish. One aspect I found annoying was the music. Disney makes a lot of money via their original movie soundtracks so it is understandable that every movie they produce has a few songs in it. This is done whether the plot can really support the intrusion of a tune or not. I love the Hayley, but I can only take so much Maurice Chevalier who in the course of the movie drunkenly bursts into song at the pop of a cork. So since time and my patience was was short I stopped the film, closed the laptop and started reading a book I had brought along.

That is when the first interruption began. I was leafing through my new book when a customer approached my table.

“You work here. The Wi-Fi works better in the middle of the room than on the sides…”
“Yeah. I’m at lunch right now.”
“…So you need to adjust the coverage so that when I sit next to the wall I can get a better connection. If I don’t sit next to the wall near a plug my laptop battery runs out after a few hours.”
“Well, we offer free Wi-Fi, not free electricity.”
That’s your response?”
“Sir, I’m off the clock, eating my lunch and reading. There are two managers standing right over there who are getting paid and they will be more than happy to listen to you complain about the quality of FREE STUFF.”

The customer went away mad, upset that I declined to reconfigure the internet so he could leech our bandwidth for six hours.

While on the subject of free stuff, Bully and his pal John just sent me a copy of The Wolverton Bible, published by Fantagraphics. That was the book I was reading at lunch when Crybaby McLaptop accosted me. Some comic book fans are not aware that for nearly two decades, Golden Age illustrator Basil Wolverton worked for and was a ranking member of a popular religious organization. While Basil played a role in the organization speaking to the faithful he is best known for his art work illustrating the Bible for their various publications.

Through the course of his career Wolverton’s art was typically graphic, shocking and at times sickening even as it was brilliant. To his credit, when Wolverton secured the job of illustrating the monumental task of illustrating the many passages of the Bible he insisted that he be allowed to render the stories with honesty and not have them sanitized for popular consumption. The Bible, like most religious tracts, is a product of the times and is as violent, raw and uncomfortable culturally as it is supposed to be inspiring. There is nothing about the book that would cause either the believer or reality-based reader to avoid it. It does not preach nor does it tear down the institution. Each reader will take from the experience what they choose to, be it a study of the evolution of an artist or an affirmation. The images may make some people uncomfortable, particularly those concerning the end of the world. The book, with just a few exceptions, reprints the entirety of Wolverton’s work chronologically. It is a fascinating look at the side of an artist that most fans are not familiar with due to the scarcity of the material.

Get your own through Fantagraphics.

Thanks, guys!