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The First Time

You always remember your First Time.

The first album I ever bought with my own money, the first LP I ever recall owning, was The Dave Clark Five’s “Return!”

I purchased it at our local Newbury Park supermarket’s record bin in 1965.

I was a drummer and loved the upfront focus on and prominence of the beat in Dave’s band, beginning with their hits “Do You Love Me” and “Glad All Over.” My fellow drummers and I used to do the boot stomps and then bang out that machine gun snare follow-up of the DC5’s “Bits and Pieces” intro with our fists on the rows of lockers in the hallways of Charles Evans Hughes Junior High and Reseda High School (where I walked to school everyday with drummer Preston Ritter, who would become the original drummer for The Electric Prunes).

“Return!” didn’t rock as hard as their first LP but it had a much better full color cover. The band looked sharp in their black & white coats and pants against that red photo studio backdrop. “Can’t You See That She’s Mine,” their hit single from “Return!”, was moving into more melodic territory. That was fine by me, as it indicated an expansion of the group’s musical capabilities.

I can’t recall the first single I bought. We were a poor family and I was very frugal with my money. Even later, when I began seriously (and I mean 6000 album seriously!) collecting music, I avoided singles for a long, long time, considering LPs a much better deal. It wasn’t until I became a fanatical collector that I began to buy singles. The primary reason I began to purchase 45s was that they contained music by my fave raves that weren’t included on their albums and I felt I had to have everything by them.

I usually convinced my younger brother John to buy singles in which I had interest, and then I sort of took them over. I talked him into buying the four song Beatles EP that had “Roll Over Beethoven” on it, as well as the Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road.”

I weaseled my way into becoming the sole DJ at the Senior Quad (our junior high’s private lunch place, set aside for seniors only) for my entire 1963/64 senior year (we were supposed to rotate that duty but I held onto that gig with a death grip). I was musically dependent upon what my fellow seniors brought me to play, so often during lunch, when no one had come through with a single or album, my brother’s Beatles EP played over and over and over…

The first concert I ever went to was a — surprise! — Dave Clark Five show: July 12, 1965 in Anaheim at the MelodyLand Theater. Among the openers were The Larks (“Do The Jerk”), The Premiers (“Farmer John”) and the Astronauts. Sonny and Cher were (surprisingly, considering their enormous popularity) bottom-billed; they were no-shows. Replacing them I recall Tommy Quickly and maybe even Roy Orbison (hell, I remember SOMEone played “Pretty Woman”!) singing at that show, too, but I could be very wrong.

Waiting outside the theater I met one of the Larks and got his autograph. I also enthusiastically chatted with my fellow DC5 fans. That was when I first heard rumors of Dave’s being gay. One of the fans opened the show’s DC5 program book. As verification for her claim, she showed me a sponsored ad within the booklet for Shure microphones. It’s headline was “Ask Dave About Mike.”

The DC5’s show was amazing. It was the first and only all-screaming concert I ever attended. It was extremely difficult to hear the music over the din. The lighting on the band was spectacular, though, a good early light show. When the band performed their pounding instrumental “Five by Five” Dave played on a set of huge floor toms that were lit from inside. Great!

I was happy and surprised that the group did several songs that weren’t on their LPs, like the “Peter Gunne” theme and “Big Noise From Winnetka.”

Police were constantly hauling out hysterical girls all throughout the show. The MelodyLand (named such because of its proximity to DisneyLand) Theater was (is?) a theater-in-the-round, so the band had to get to the stage and back out from the stage by running a police-cordoned gauntlet up one of the theater’s aisles. The DC5 ran right up the aisle next to where I was sitting. I recall touching Mike Smith on the back as he ran by. As intense as it was, one cop said it was nothing compared to the recent Rolling Stones show.

It was an exhilarating experience but because of the poor sound it was not until years later that I began to attend other live concerts, beginning with shows at the Whiskey A-Go-Go and the Hendrix/Animals/Soft Machine/Eire Apparent gig down in Anaheim. Following those I hit the all day long rock festivals at Devonshire Downs and Costa Mesa and then became a regular attendee of the phenomenal Shrine Exposition Hall concerts.

The best show I ever saw was at the Shrine in 1968. The original Steve Miller Band (with Boz Scaggs) opened the show. They were followed by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. The audience was not prepared for the next group: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. But wait — I’m not finished! The headliners were THE WHO! “The Who Sell Out” (in my opinion, their best LP; the mono version only, though) had just been released. If that wasn’t enough, each group played two sets! And The Who destroyed their instruments at the end of their last set! And the place was only one third full, so you could get as close to the stage as you wanted! Or even dance if you wanted! And security was so lax back then I got to go backstage and meet Roger Daltrey and Arthur Brown! I met (and photographed) Keith Moon in the men’s room!

OK — the final blow: Tickets for that show were $2.50 in advance, $3.00 at the door!

The live rock concert experience was ruined pretty quickly after 1969. The rock scene grew as, sadly, more and more people began showing up for concerts not because of the music but merely because it was where their friends were and because that scene was considered a hip or cool place to hang out.

Those pre-1970 shows and a few of the smaller 1970s era music concerts (a real music fan had to pay close attention to what was going on and catch acts before they became too big) and then the late 70s/early 80s Punk/post-Punk music explosion in Los Angeles are among some of the best memories I have.

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Natural History Alert!

Just a short note to alert you all that there’s a really nice full color reproduction of my Coastal Dinosaurs mural for the San Diego Natural History Museum on page 60 of the current (5/08) issue of Natural History magazine. The original painting is 28 ft. long, so the magazine reproduction is pretty crisp!

Well, since I’m already typing…
I recently submitted a 5000 word remembrance of my friend Dave Stevens to The Comics Journal. Watch for it!

I’m working on a film right now, The Tomb (the title will change; there’s three or four other film projects with that same name), designing monsters and sets — first-time English director, Australian production, shooting in Spain. If I’m lucky, it looks like I might get to collaborate again with my old friend Ron Cobb. Now THAT would be a treat!

I’ll be getting the original art back from my photographer tomorrow of the piece I’m donating to the Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS) benefit auction. I think it’s a little gem; I hope you do, too, and that it fetches a lot for our group. I helped co-found CAPS many, many years ago and was its 10th President.

This evening I’ve got to finish inking my Dave Stevens tribute page for the Comic-Con International 2008 Program Book. The deadline’s tomorrow! Yikes! I better get back to it!

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These last two days have been writing days; eighteen hours straight yesterday, the same today (my wife’s out of town). Yesterday I nearly completed my remembrance and tribute to Dave Stevens. It will appear in an upcoming issue of The Comics Journal. It came out to about 6500 words; Michael, the editor, asked that it be no longer than 5000. So, a good chunk of my day was spent editing out 1500 words.

Today I finished the piece on Dave, then revised and polished an article on a distant relative: Danish children’s book illustrator Kay Nielsen. This will appear in the upcoming California Art Club Newsletter.

After that I wrote the Foreword to my friend Aaron Lopresti’s wonderfully whimsical new Watson-Guptill book, Fantastical Creatures Field Guide – How to Hunt Them Down and Draw Them Where They Live. I’m very happy with the Neil Simon-ish structure of that baby: Funny, funny, funny, funny…then (in the last paragraph) BAM! — something quite thoughtful, serious, a little sad…and funny. You’ll see…

Contemplating Dave, though, got me to thinking about a lot of my friends. You can get little text snapshots of some of them if you read the short dedications that are on the inside front covers of my Terra Nova Press books.

I thought that for the rest of today’s entry, I’d list the books and identify to whom they’re dedicated.

Here goes…

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 1
Greg Irons & Rick Griffin: Two good friends, both fantastic, highly original underground cartoonists, both taken from us well before their proper time.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 2
Bud Plant: Long time friend and bookseller (and a great source for my sketchbooks).

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 3
Scott Dunbier: The friend and art dealer who bought all — and I mean all — of my early convention sketches. It was Scott’s financial faith and encouragement that directly resulted in my 50 Convention Sketches series of books.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 4
Ed Leimbacher: Ed bought the first piece of original art I ever offered for sale at a comic book convention (1972). We’ve been great friends ever since.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 5
Marv Newland: Long time friend, animator and creator of “Bambi Meets Godzilla.” Marv did small digest-sized sketchbooks before I began doing my 50 Convention Sketches series. A real inspiration!

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 6
Mark Schultz and Jim Gurney: The two unbelievably talented artists respectively responsible for Xenozoic Tales (Cadillacs and Dinosaurs) and Dinotopia; two more long time friends.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 7
Dave Stevens: Studio mate, close friend and creator of The Rocketeer who just passed away March 10.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 8
Bob Chapman: Long time friend as well as president and founder of Graphitti Designs…and my T-shirt printer.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 9
Byron Preiss: Long time friend and publisher. Our friendship goes back even before he published my 1981 book THE DINOSAURS – A Fantastic New View Of A Lost Era. Tragically, Byron died a couple of years ago in an auto accident.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 10
Brian Gaughan: A good friend to me and my family ever since he worked for me on Masters of the Universe. Brian is my regular Booth Buddy at Comic-Con International. He’s my webmaster, too!

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 11
Richard “Blue” Trimarchi: Long time friend who photographs all of my art and does my giclee printing.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 12
Dave Stevens: I hadn’t realized I’d already dedicated a book to Dave but I can’t think of anyone more deserving of two dedications than my little brother and fellow Lost Brushman of the Kalahari, Davie.

William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches – Volume 13
Baba Ron Turner: Long time friend, loveable historian, fellow gourmand and the owner of Last Gasp Comix.

The Dinosaurs Sketchbook – Volume 1
Sylvia and Stephen Czerkas: Two long time friends and great dinosaur sculptors. Sylvia co-wrote the first biography of Charles R. Knight and formed the Dinosaur Society of Los Angeles. They now own and operate a dinosaur museum in Monticello, Utah.

William Stout – Dinosaur Sketchbook – Volume 2
Charles R. Knight, Lucy Steele and Rhoda Knight Kalt: Knight was the greatest paleoartist who ever lived; his daughter Lucy was my friend and her father’s business manager; granddaughter Rhoda is my close friend and co-publisher of the Charles R. Knight Sketchbooks.

William Stout – Dinosaur Sketchbook – Volume 3
Mary Odano: Close friend, living treasure of a human being and the creator/owner of Valley Anatomical Preparations. Mary has supplied me with nearly all of my dinosaur and prehistoric animal skulls.

Charles R. Knight Sketchbook – Volume 1
Melissa Kalt: Dear friend, actress and Charles R. Knight’s great granddaughter. Melissa says she’s my biggest fan, too!

Charles R. Knight Sketchbook – Volume 2
Donald F. Glut: Long time friend, dinosaur book writer and compiler and co-author of the first Charles R. Knight biography.

Charles R. Knight Sketchbook – Volume 3
Dale Russell & Edwin Colbert: Two friends and two of the greatest and most perceptive paleontologists I have ever met, especially when it comes to understanding art’s important relationship to science. Sadly, Ned has passed away. He was a pioneer in Antarctic paleontology. Dale heads up the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science.

William Stout – Monsters Sketchbook – Volume 1
Joyce Sommers: My mom (and a big monster nut).

William Stout – Monsters Sketchbook – Volume 2
Forrest J. Ackerman: The profoundly influential editor and creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

William Stout – Real Women – Volume 1
Harold Kramer and David Glover: Hal was the head of the Illustration Department at the Chouinard Art Institute (Cal Arts) when I was there. I studied privately with him for about twenty years after that, until he passed away. David teaches computer graphics at Glendale College. We’ve been friends for about twenty years. Dave is a long time workshop regular who opens up my studio figure drawing workshop, collects the money and pays the model for me when I’m out of town at conventions. He also graciously and generously answers all of my PhotoShop and other computer questions.

William Stout – Real Women – Volume 2
Terry Gordon: Another long time friend and figure workshop regular, Terry is a TV costume designer (currently for Reba McIntyre)…and just the sweetest human being.

Mickey at 60
No dedication! This book came together very quickly; we thought it would be a one-off.

Mickey at 60 – Volume 2
Harvey Kurtzman and Robert Crumb: Harvey created Mad magazine, Little Annie Fanny (Harvey hired me to work on the strip in 1972; we remained good friends right up until his death), and the first realistic war comic books; he pollinated Monty Python’s Flying Circus when he introduced his assistant Terry Gilliam to John Cleese. He is the godfather of the underground comix movement. Robert, of course, is creator of Zap Comix, Fritz the Cat and Mr. Natural; he’s one of the most highly respected cartoonists in the world.

William Stout – Animal Drawings From Around The World
Bob Kuhn: The greatest animal painter of our time, Bob was also a good friend (he died last year). We first met when I took his wildlife painting workshop in Loveland, Colorado. Frank Frazetta introduced me to Bob’s work.

William Stout – Tribute to Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen and Bernard Herrmann: Ray is an old friend and before that, a legendary hero of mine; he’s one of the greatest stop motion animators and special effects wizards who ever lived. We are currently collaborating on an old Willis O’Brien project, War Eagles. Bernard composed the brilliant music for some of Ray’s best movies, including the unforgettable score for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

William Stout – Edgar Rice Burroughs Sketchbook
Robert Abbett, Reed Crandall, Frank Frazetta, Roy G. Krenkel and Al Williamson: These were all of my favorite ERB artists in my formative years. That all had an enormously lasting impression upon my work. I eventually became friends with everyone except Bob Abbett, whom I’ve never met.

The Illustration World of Harry Rountree
Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Felstead: Daughter and generous son-in-law of Harry Rountree.

William Stout – Motor Mania!
Dennis Ellefson: My editor on Car-toons and Cycle-toons who tragically took his own life.

Joseph Clement Coll – Masters of the Pen – Volume 1
Walt and Roger Reed: Walt is the founder of the gallery Illustration House, author and a long time champion of illustration as art. His son Roger carries on that tradition.

Zdenek Burian Sketchbook – Volume 1 – Prehistoric Life
Mike Vosburg: Good friend, figure drawing regular and creator of Lori Lovecraft, the Voz tracked down and supplied me with a stack of Burian-illustrated books that were the source of this sketchbook’s line illustrations when he was storyboarding a film in Prague.