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Roger Corman 1926 – 2024

The great Roger Corman has passed away. He was 98 years old. Roger gave lots of young filmmakers their first breaks in the the Film Biz, including me. Roger helped to launch the careers of young directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, Jonathan Demme and James Cameron. Roger also supported a lot of struggling young acting talent by giving them roles in his films, actors like Jack Nicholson, Charles Bronson, Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Sally Kirkland, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone.

Roger bought my first screenplay, Kain of Dark Planet (retitled by Roger as The Warrior and the Sorceress). I also created three movie posters for Roger: The Lady in Red, Up From the Depths and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.

Roger was always very approachable. You could pitch him your film idea and get a “Yes” or “No” on the spot. If he said “Yes,” you had your shot at making a movie. You wouldn’t get much money to make your film –– but you got your chance without having to slowly claw your way up the studio chain of command which usually ended up with a solid “No.”

Here are a few of my Corman stories.

1) I painted the poster for the John Sayles film, The Lady in Red. Roger noticed that I had Louise Fletcher holding a bottle of champagne or bathtub gin.

“Bill, take out the bottle and replace it with something else. We don’t know if Louise has ever had a drinking problem. Having her hold a bottle of booze might be embarrassing for her if she was struggling with alcoholism.”

I thought that was so classy and kind of Roger.

2) When I got the job painting the poster for Up From the Depths, Roger instructed me:

“Bill, make that shark a huge prehistoric shark with lots of heavy scales. Then turn the shark into a three quarter view so it doesn’t look exactly like the shark in the Jaws poster. Then, use the swimming girl from the poster for Piranha. We own that image.”

3) I loved doing posters and making movies for Roger. He was very up-front about everything, which was basically… “We’re not going to pay you much, but you’re going to get the chance to do what you want to do.”

Traditionally, when I would do movie posters for other studios, the agency would have me do a whole series of roughs. I’d get so much per rough. From the roughs they’d select a few ideas to do as comps – comprehensives (sort of in between a rough and a finish). So I’d do maybe more four or five comps. Then if they liked some of those comps, sometimes they’d have me do a color comp or two, which was like the poster in color but not quite as finished as a finish but more detailed than a rough. Eventually we’d go to a finish, though, at that time I’d rather not do the finish. I had to work slower on a finish and there was the added pressure of it having to be perfect, whereas with the roughs and comps I could just bash ‘em out. I always made much more money from my roughs and comps than from my finishes.

Roger Corman didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a movie poster. So, I could just show him a thumbnail sketch in my sketchbook. Corman was very lucid visually; he could look at a thumbnail, completely understand it and go, “Yes, Bill. That’s what I want. Go to finish.” So he cut out all of those other steps, saving himself a ton of dough. And, that way, I could use all of that energy that would have been sucked away by roughs and comps and pour that energy into the finish. I’m one of those guys who hates to draw the same drawing twice, which is why I never became an animator.

So, Roger was great. From rough to finish and BOOM. And I got paid upon delivery. With Roger it was fun and I made a little money. With the others, it was work but I made a ton of money.

I’ll never forget his instructions to me for the Rock ‘n’ Roll High School poster.

“Bill, you can do anything you want — as long as it looks like Animal House.”

4) Before the release of Kain of Dark Planet, the film I wrote for Roger, Corman called me up and invited me to see the poster for my film. Upon seeing the poster I was stunned. Roger had changed the title of the movie from Kain of Dark Planet to The Warrior and the Sorceress.

I was mystified by the change.

“But Roger — there’s no sorceress in the movie!”

“That’s okay, Bill. The object of the title of a film is to get butts into seats. Once they’ve paid their money and their butts are in those seats, it doesn’t matter if the film’s got a sorceress or not. Plus, that title means we can put a scantily clad sorceress on the movie’s poster.”

Yielding more butts in seats.

5) Roger always paid. He didn’t pay much, but you never got stiffed. And, unlike many of the big studios, he always paid off on points if you had participation points in a film’s profits.

6) One year, I saw that Roger was being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. I hadn’t seen Roger in a while, so I thought that this might be a good chance to reconnect and show Roger some support. I got to talk to Roger during the event. He completely amazed me. He had been following my career ever since we had worked together. He knew every film I had worked on. He told me he was very proud of me and the work I had done in cinema.

“Roger,” I said. “Don’t waste your time following my career. Keep making movies!”

Which he did.

I highly recommend the documentary on Roger Corman, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. I was invited to a private screening of the film at my friend Harold Bronson‘s home. Harold had also invited several filmmakers, all of whom had worked with or for Corman. After the film ended, Harold invited us back into his living room, whereupon we were all surprised to find Roger and his wife Julie waiting for us. We swapped all kinds of great Roger Corman stories for the rest of the evening.

I feel incredibly lucky to have known and worked with Roger Corman. He was a very sharp, decent guy who, despite his reputation for being cheap, was actually quite generous when it came to helping young filmmakers to make their own first marks in the film business.

I’ll miss you forever, my friend.

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Dan Goozée 1943 – 2024

One of my dearest of friends, the enormously talented painter and illustrator Dan Goozée, has passed away.

I first met Dan at Seiniger & Associates, the hottest movie poster advertising company in town. I guess that Seiniger was responsible for about 80% of all the movie poster art that was being done at the time. Dan was working constantly for Seiniger, as well as for Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).

We only ever collaborated twice in regards to movie posters. Dan painted the poster for the James Bond movie Octopussy. I designed the iconic title lettering. When Dan got the job to illustrate the poster for The Land Before Time, he called me in to check on his dinosaurs –– especially the Tyrannosaurus rex. I also helped out by loaning Dan a three feet long Tyrannosaurus rex model I had lying around the house so that he could pose it for the poster art.

Among many, many others, Dan painted movie posters for The Mission, Star Wars, Moonraker, A View to a Kill, Crocodile Dundee, Clash of the Titans, Superman IV and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

My favorite poster of Dan’s was the one he did for Streets of Fire. He did it in a kind of bold Russian agit-prop style. In my not-so humble opinion, I preferred Dan’s teaser sheet, when the art was only red, black and white. The studio insisted that Dan add more color to the piece.

When I was working as a full-time consultant, I got to hire Dan for a WDI project that I was heading. It was a second gate Tokyo Disneyland. After describing what I wanted from Dan, I said, “Charge whatever you think is fair. I think it would be demeaning to both of us if we started arguing about money. Whatever you charge will be worth it. I want the best working on my project,” I said, “and Dan, you’re the best of the best.”

Dan had an amazing reputation at WDI. He was the guy you called if you wanted a big, dramatic and impressive painting of a new Disney property but the guy in charge had no clue as to the substance of such a job, no idea whatsoever. Dan would get right to work. There were balloons, fireworks, searchlights, dramatic lighting and lots of color. Dan’s painting fooled the higher ups into thinking there was a grand idea behind this incredible imagery –– when there wasn’t any at all.

When painter Peter Adams was offered the job of taking over the California Art Club (the oldest art organization west of the Mississippi), he agreed to do so if he was granted two conditions.

Number One: Peter had full dictatorial powers as president; and, Number Two: Dan Goozée and William Stout were immediately invited into the club and instantly made Signature Members.

And that’s what happened.

Peter turned out to be a great, visionary and benevolent dictator who, with his wife Elaine, in short time completely transformed the CAC into one of the most vital art organizations in the world.

Dan and I got deeply involved in the CAC. We did shows together, paint-outs together, panels and lectures. We made lots of recommendations and suggestions that we thought would enhance the club.

Dan never stopped trying to learn and get better as an artist. Even though Dan was at the peak of his powers, he took a class with legendary painter Richard Schmid. He came to my Sunday figure drawing workshop hundreds of times, despite a long drive. Dan was generous. If it was our model’s birthday, he would give the model a beautiful drawing he had done of her. He once gave me an incredible set of storyboards by Harlan Fraser for the biblical epic Quo Vadis.

Sometimes we would attend out-of-town exhibitions together. For example, we once drove to Palm Springs together to see a magnificent Sydney Laurence exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

I am going to miss Dan’s dedication, his sharing new works of art, his dry sense of humor, his vast talent, his thoughtfulness, but, most of all, his good cheer and dear friendship.

See you on the other side, amigo!

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New Stout Monsters Sketchbook #7

I’ve got a new Monsters Sketchbook (#7) finally available in my online shop, the William Stout Bazaar (last page of the “Books” section). This is my first sketchbook in five years. Why so long? Well, first there was COVID, which meant the cancellation of all my convention appearances. During this time I designed two sets of illustrated playing cards (54 new images for each deck). I have also been moonlighting, doing illustrations and covers for that great monster magazine The Little Shoppe of Horrors.

Finally, there was the assembling of a huge box set (I finished sending the last of the images about an hour ago). This big three-volume set will contain all of my comics-related work (rough count: over 640 illustrations in Volume Three alone!). If you think I haven’t done that much comics work, you’re in for somewhat of a surprise.

Plus, the text of these books will continue my multiple volume autobiography which began with my book William Stout: Prehistoric Life Murals. I have lived long enough and have been lucky enough to have been mentored by many of the greatest talents in the world of comics. Many became great friends, as well. I wanted to document what it was like to work with them, how I got to work with them and what they were like as people and friends.

Flesk Publishing is taking this project on, so you know the books, their production and the physical quality John Flesk demands of his publications (even down to the papers that John chooses) will be stunning.

The box set won’t cover my underground comix (I don’t want to shock any moms out there) –– that will be a separate volume to be published by my old pals at Last Gasp.

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Jeff Beck 1944 –2023

Jeff Beck, one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock and roll, passed away from bacterial meningitis yesterday, January 10.

I saw him every time he played Los Angeles. The first time I saw Jeff live was in 1968 at the Shrine Exposition Hall. The opening act was promoted as “Introducing Pink Floyd.” They were followed by Blue Cheer. The Jeff Beck Group (Jeff, Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and Micky Waller) headlined. Each band played two sets (!). The tickets: $2.50 in advance; $3.00 at the door. I wanted to meet Jeff, so I found out where his dressing room was. It was upstairs. I walked up to the second floor where I saw Rod Stewart leaning against the guard rail. He looked like the saddest soul in the world. I asked Rod if he would take me into the dressing room and introduce me to Beck. Rod kindly obliged. I followed him inside where Jeff was opening up advance copies of their first LP: Truth.
I asked if I could take a picture of him with my Polaroid camera. He declined at first because he had a zit on his nose.

“It will never show”, I assured him and he let me take my snap:

I created about 45 bootleg record album covers. There were three that featured Jeff Beck. Two were Yardbirds LPs (Golden Eggs and More Golden Eggs). I also did this Jeff Beck Group cover:

Those are little Jeff Beck-shaped puffs in the cereal bowl.

Here is the Jeff Beck bio I wrote for my forthcoming book, Legends of British Blues:

Jeff Beck (Geoffrey Arnold Beck)

Main Instrument: Guitar

Born: Wallington, England; June 24, 1944

Died: Surrey, England; January 10, 2023

Recommended Cuts: “I Ain’t Done Wrong,” “Jeff’s Boogie,” “I’m Not Talking;” (The Yardbirds); “You Shook Me” (Jeff Beck Group); “Rolling and Tumbling” (Solo)

As a teen Jeff Beck built his first guitars using cigar box bodies. He began playing with The Rumbles and The Tridents in 1963. Backing Screaming Lord Sutch (and the word of pal Jimmy Page, their first choice) helped land him The Yardbirds’ lead guitar gig following Eric Clapton’s 1965 exit. Most of the Yardbird’s hits occurred during Beck’s two-year tenure. They made one full LP with Jeff: 1966’s Yardbirds (a.k.a. Roger the Engineer). The incredibly experimental guitarist left the band (he claims he was fired) after briefly sharing lead guitar duties with Page. Following his 1967 anthem “Beck’s Bolero” (with Page, John Paul Jones, Keith Moon and Nicky Hopkins), he formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart. Truth (#15 in 1968), featuring Willie Dixon’s “You Shook Me” five months prior to Led Zeppelin’s version, established heavy metal’s musical template.

After Stewart left for the Faces, Beck’s power trio plans with Vanilla Fudge’s bassist and drummer Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice fell apart when Jeff fractured his skull in a car crash. By the end of Beck’s 1971 recovery, Bogert and Appice were in Cactus, so a new Jeff Beck Group was formed. Rough and Ready (1971) and Jeff Beck Group (1972) included soul, R&B and jazz. After finally recording Beck, Bogert & Appice (1973), BB&A disbanded before completing their second studio LP. Beck, Bogert & Appice Live was released after their 1974 split.

Jeff’s most successful LP was the George Martin-produced Blow by Blow (1975). Beck and Mahavishnu Orchestra keyboardist Jan Hammer recorded three LPs together (1976–1980). The 1981 Amnesty International concert saw Jeff playing with Eric Clapton. 1985’s Flash featured the hit “People Get Ready” (with Rod Stewart). After Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop (1989), he co-headlined a tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan. Crazy Legs (1993) was a Gene Vincent/Cliff Gallup (lead guitarist with the Blue Caps; along with Les Paul, an early Beck influence) tribute. Jeff accompanied Paul Rodgers on his 1993 Muddy Waters tribute, then resurfaced with three more LPs (1999–2003). He appeared at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004 and 2007 and released Performing This Week: Live at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in 2008 as well as Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum (2010). Beck has supported artists as diverse as Kate Bush, Herbie Hancock, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Kelly Clarkson, Roger Waters and Stevie Wonder. Excepting Jimi Hendrix, on a good night no one could touch this incendiary guitar legend. There are more great hooks tossed away in one hot Jeff Beck solo than most guitarists create in a lifetime, yet Beck never achieved the same success as his peers, perhaps because of the seemingly random approach to his career. Jeff died of bacterial meningitis.

Trivia: Jeff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: with The Yardbirds (1992) and as a solo act (2009). He has taken home six Best Rock Instrumental Performance Grammys. The only time all three Yardbirds lead guitarists ever played on stage together was for the 1983 ARMS benefit concert.

Rest in Peace, my supremely talented friend.

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Communication Delays

If you’ve been trying to reach me lately, it’s been difficult.

My mom died last Sunday, so I’ve been pretty consumed, working on an appropriate obit.

Hang in there, my friends. I’ll be emerging soon.


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LightBox This Weekend!

I will be exhibiting Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Flesk Publications booth at LightBox, a celebration of concept design at the Pasadena Convention Center. Saturday is sold out but there are still tickets for Friday (today) and Sunday. I’ll be signing and selling books all weekend. It’s an amazing show, incredibly curated. There is not a single bad piece of art in the show. The cream of the motion picture design world will be in attendance.

See You There!

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Post-Comic Con Report

Comic Con International 2022 was one of my more successful Comic Cons.

Unfortunately, on Sunday, the last day of the show, I came down with my second case of COVID. I was able to safely drive home that night, as the effects of COVID didn’t hit hard until Monday, the day after I got back home. My wife immediately got this highly contagious variant (from me, obviously). We have been on COVID meds since my getting a “Positive” on my COVID test.

For those of you folks who have ordered items from my website shop, please be patient. I try to fill an order whenever I get a brief reprieve from the disease — but those instances are few and far between. I am sleeping about 18 hours per day, off and on throughout each day. Eventually, I am hoping to gain enough strength to fill my remaining orders as quickly as possible.

Thanks for your patience!

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Bootleg LP Book! Legends of the Blues Trading Cards!

A Pig’s Tale – The Underground Story of the Legendary Bootleg Record Label is the true story of the celebrated bootleg record album company Trademark of Quality Records (TMQ). The softcover book’s 322 pages covers every aspect of that company. I licensed all 34 of my TMQ covers (plus some other related material) for use in the book (I will eventually be coming out with a separate book on all of my music-related art. It will include all of my record covers, both bootleg and legit. A Pig’s Tale should satisfy those who can’t wait for that book of mine).

For those out there who don’t know what bootleg record albums are, here’s an explanation:

Bootleg records were fan-produced LPs whose content came from live audience concert tapes — occasionally soundboard tapes, unreleased studio recordings or other rarities, like radio and TV performances, obscure single B-sides, etc. Bootlegs should be differentiated from pirate records — counterfeit productions of legitimate studio releases. A lot of pirating was financed by the Mafia and then distributed and sold through large department store chains. I’ve used the past tense in this paragraph because bootleg LPs are no longer produced; these days everything is on CD.

Why get one here instead of on Amazon? Easy: I personally sign each book and Amazon’s charging the same price ($50).

What else?

My old pal Denis Kitchen has just published two trading card sets of mine: Legends of the Blues (with Muddy Waters on the cover) and More Legends of the Blues (with Ma Rainey on the cover).

Each deck has 50 cards (50 color portraits plus 50 back-of-the-card bios). Most of these images come from my book, Legends of the Blues. I included a few blues musicians that aren’t in the book and deleted two musicians that are in the Robert Crumb Heroes of the Blues card set (also published by Kitchen). So, none of Robert’s musicians are depicted in my two card sets and none of my players are in Crumb’s card set. No overlap! Just $13 per box.

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William Stout Dinosaur Playing Cards!

William Stout wasn’t just sitting around during COVID — he illustrated an entire deck of playing cards with a dinosaur theme for Art of Play. 54 brand new, never-before-seen dinosaur images (52 card images plus 2 different Joker cards).

Bill also designed the stunning Letter Press packaging (see above) and the card backs, a stylistic nod to the famous Bicycle deck card back (see below).

You can find them on this site’s shop. Go to Store>William Stout Bazaar>Uncategorized.

Each deck is just $30 + $5 shipping (save on multiple deck shipping — still just five bucks no matter how many you buy). If you want Bill to sign the package, he will break the cellophane seal and sign your deck box at no extra charge.