“Mythos: Captain America pp 11 and 15”

Mythos: Captain America p. 15” (2008)
by Paolo Rivera (1981-)
11 x 17 in., gouache and acrylic on bristol board
Coppola Collection

In honor of Memorial Day 2017, two pages from the fully painted 2008 retelling of the Captain America story by Paolo Rivera. Page 15 (ab0ve) starts with a nice WWII vignette of the main characters and ends with the death of Bucky (well, until the Winter Soldier story changed all that) and Cap’s plunge into suspended animation.

Page 11 (below) sets up the introduction of James “Bucky” Barnes as a hero-idolizing kid and ends with him stumbling across Steve Rogers changing from his Captain America uniform which, inexplicably, makes Steve sign him up as his sidekick.

Mythos: Captain America p. 11” (2008)
by Paolo Rivera (1981-)
11 x 17 in., gouache and acrylic on bristol board
Coppola Collection

“Walking Monk”

“Walking Monk”  (2015)
by Bill James (1943-)
20 x 30 in., oil pastel on paper
Coppola Collection

Bill James is a talented artist whose range covers oils, watercolors, and pastels. His work is quite reasonably priced and he does commissions. I had been looking for the right person to translate some of the images that I had taken in Tibet, particularly of the local people and the monks, and Bill struck me as the guy to try. That sense is just an instinct more than anything else, about the style, color, tone, and mood with which the artist presents. All I can say is that I think I am pretty good at seeing the match.

Here is the original image that I took. There is an intrinsic graininess to everything in Tibet, so your pictures can end up looking like paintings to begin with.

“Hit and Muss”

Hit and Muss
by Vaughn Richard Shoemaker (1902-1991)
22 x 24 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

No date on this one, but there is an interesting clue in the name of the boat.

In 1937, cartoonist Sir David Alexander Cecil Low (1891–1963) had produced an occasional strip about “Hit and Muss” (Hitler and Mussolini), but after Germany made official complaints he substituted a composite dictator, “Muzzler.” Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels told British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax that British political cartoons, particularly those of Low’s, were damaging Anglo-German relations.

I am not sure if depicting the three Axis leaders together was common before the Tripartite Agreement (September 1940), so if this cartoon came this late, it might be in homage to Low from a fellow cartoonist (Shoemaker to Low: you were right…).

It is reasonable to guess that this pre-dates the entry of the US into the war in December, 1941, as these three “fishing” for world domination (as a commentary) would be stronger during the time that they were saying (in public) that Eurasia was their only target.

“Chinese Conquest”

Chinese Conquest” (1940)
by Clarence Daniel (“CD”) Batchelor (1888-1977)
28 x 32 in., pen and charcoal on paper
Coppola Collection

Before the entrance of the Western Allies, the Chinese were fighting a war on two fronts: a civil war between the communists and the nationalists, and an external war with the Japanese, whose constant aggression in the post-Imperial era had been a constant.

The war with the Japanese swung wildly in both directions.

In the late 1930s, China adopted the strategy of “trading space for time.” The Chinese army would put up fights to delay the Japanese advance to northern and eastern cities, allowing the home front, with its professionals and key industries, to retreat west into Chongqing. As a result of Chinese troops’ scorched earth strategies, in which dams and levees were intentionally sabotaged to create massive flooding, Japanese advances began to stall in late 1938.

The main Chinese objective was to drag out the war for as long as possible, thereby exhausting Japanese resources while building up Chinese military capacity. American general Joseph Stilwell (for whom a memorial still exists in the center of Chongqing) called this strategy “winning by outlasting.”

In 1940, the Chinese Red Army launched a major offensive in north China, destroying railways and a major coalmine. These constant harassment and sabotage operations deeply frustrated the Japanese army and led them to employ the “Three Alls Policy” (kill all, loot all, burn all). It was during this period that the bulk of Japanese war crimes were committed.

By 1941, Japan had occupied much of north and coastal China, but they did not have a major military or administrative presence in the vast Chinese countryside, where Chinese guerrillas roamed freely.

This stalemate situation made a decisive victory seem impossible to the Japanese.

Tianjin Culture Street

If you ever find yourself in Tianjin, China, make time to spend at the merchant-filled “Ancient Culture Street” called Guwenhua Jie. Among the street snacks and the calligraphy, there are some high quality carvers and other artists.

Near the north end on the main drag, about 4-5 shops back and to the west, there is a terrific stone artist whose surname is Sheng. He does some great work in verigated stone.

Here he is, getting ready to engrave his signature into that same piece, next to an extremely cool incense burner/sculpture he did (see how the smoke comes out from the dragon’s mouth).


“Is It Worth Saving?”

Is It Worth Saving?” (February 26, 1941)
by Vaughn Richard Shoemaker (1902-1991)
22 x 24 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Denis Mack Smith (Mussolini’s Roman Empire) notes that the history of Fascism in Italy is tied to the rise and fall of Mussolini (the post-WWI period, 1922-1933, concurrent with the rise of Hitler; then the alliance with Hitler and through WWII).

It is quite impossible not to think about the current US President as Mack Smith depicts  Mussolini:

He is an individual who was violent, arrogant, and insensitive, for whom the possession of power was the highest virtue. He could not tolerate having his authority called into question, and he loved to convey the impression that he did not need expert advice on any subject. Yet, his style was merely based on his bombastic and intimidating statements and the threat, if not the actual use, of his military forces. His genius, if it can be called that, was as a propagandist.

German organization and its power in Europe was clearly superior, and Hitler generally avoided taking Mussolini into his confidence about Nazi plans for conquest. Italy was the junior partner. Mussolini informed Hitler just a week before the Nazi invasion of Poland that Italy was ready to fight, but only if Germany would supply the munitions. To Hitler, I think Mussolini was a way to outsource the Nazi strategy for keeping check on the Mediterranean front line, including Africa, where Italy had been successful in some costly battles.

Historians consider that the Italian military was a lot worse off than Mussolini was letting on, and that an alliance with Hitler was preferable to being invaded by the Germans. On the other hand, Italy might also be vulnerable to attack by Britain if it appeared to be too aggressive. Mussolini, splitting the difference, coined the term non-belligerence. Italy would be an ally to the Germans, but not necessarily part of the proactive moves taking place in northern Europe. Mussolini entered the fight in June, 1940, almost a year after the German invasion of Poland kicked off WWII, following Hilter’s successes in April-May 1940, with the conquests of Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Holland, as well as the pressure in France, which surrendered in June.

Mussolini ran an inept “parallel war” on the Mediterranean front, ending with disastrous loses in Greece and North Africa in late 1940. Only German intervention kept the Italian dictator afloat.

On February 2, 1941, Mussolini declared the southern portion of Italy to be a war zone and put it under martial law.

On February 5, 1941, Adolf Hitler scolded Benito Mussolini for his troops’ retreat in the face of British advances in Libya, demanding that Mussolini command his forces to resist. But the next day, British forces captured El Agheila, Libya, defeating the Italian defense. After that, Churchill halted the British advance in North Africa and began moving troops to assist in the defense of Greece.

On February 23, Mussolini made a speech in Rome in which he admitted that Italy had experienced “gray days” in the war so far, but maintained that such things happen “in all wars” and that “the final result will be Axis victory.” And on February 24, Hitler gave a speech in Munich on the 21st anniversary of the founding of the Nazi Party declaring that offensives would intensify in the coming months.

The New York Times reproduced the entire text of Mussolini’s February 23, 1941 speech. Here is a passage:

Let me say now that what is occurring in the United States is one of the most colossal mystifications in all history. Illusion and lying are the basis of American interventionism-illusion that the United States is still a democracy, when instead it is a political and financial oligarchy dominated by Jews, through a personal form of dictatorship. The lie is that the Axis powers, after they finish Great Britain, want to attack America.

Neither in Rome nor Berlin are such fantastic plans as this prepared. These projects could not be made by those who have an inclination for the madhouse. Though we certainly are totalitarian and will always be so, we have our feet on hard ground. Americans who will read what I say should be calm and not believe in the existence of a big bad wolf who wants to devour them.

In all cases it is more likely that the United States, before it is attacked by Axis soldiers, will be attacked by the not well known but very warlike inhabitants of the planet Mars, who will descend from the stratosphere in unimaginable flying fortresses.

The Chicago Times reported on the Mussolini speech.

He hadn’t broken the backs of the Greeks. They had pushed his face in. He hadn’t chased the British out of North Africa. They had chased him out of Libya. It might be regarded as odd of the man to magnify the British victory as he did. He preferred to round out the picture of a major military disaster rather than allow the Italian people to believe he hadn’t made adequate preparations for the campaign.

 He threw the responsibility upon the Fascist generals, many of whom have been sent into retirement. But Mussolini consoled his people. Herr Hitler and the Nazis would save them. If that’s a consolation, his people might get in touch with the people in other countries taken over in protective custody by Herr Hitler.

 The Italians may end up getting a dose of something stronger than castor oil.

On February 22, 1941, British and South African forces defeated the Italians at Jilib, Somalia. Mussolini was widely regarded as being dragged along in Hilter’s wake, which likely explains the cartoon.

Chickie Ricks (update)

see: “Presenting Chickie Ricks

Big thanks to Jim Trimble, professor, editor and author of “The 10-cent War,” who had a copy of War Victory Adventures #2 and was kind enough to scan and sent the first Chickie Ricks story as it appeared in print. On page 1, you can see that the original art shows the title was Rickie Ricks for a while and this was pasted over. On page 8, you can see the text piece that has been lost to time.

“Presenting Chickie Ricks p 1” (August 1943) by Bob Powell
in War Victory Adventures #2 by Family Comics
by Bob Powell (1916-1967)
15 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection


“Presenting Chickie Ricks p 8” (August 1943) by Bob Powell
in War Victory Adventures #2 by Family Comics
by Bob Powell (1916-1967)
15 x 22 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

And this bonus: a scan of the internal ad that introduces the stories in this issue.

“Captain Marvel” (1972)

Captain Marvel” (May 12, 1972)
by Dave Stevens (1955-2008)
3 x 5 in., pencil and marker on paper
Coppola Collection

Forty-five years ago!

Dave Stevens died March 11, 2008, at the tender age of 52, due to an aggressive form of leukemia. Stevens is most famous for creating The Rocketeer comic book and film character, and for his pin-up style “glamour art” illustrations, especially of model Bettie Page. His greatest visibility came with The Rocketeer (1982-89), which featured a great deal of Page-inspired “good girl” and “cheesecake” art.

This little drawing comes from a decade earlier, when Dave, although 17 years old, was certainly displaying the artistic talent that he became known for.

Rosie Herald writes “I went to high school with Dave, and my family was very close during the early years, and life-long friends always. My sister had Portland’s first real comic shop and was a main supplier for Dave’s wants and needs for years. He would embellish envelopes containing audio cassette tapes with a little artwork after he moved from Oregon to California (back then phone rates were too expensive for long distance chats). This is the trimmed down front of one of these mailers.”

I think this is a treasure.

A Brilliant Idea

It is easy to respect and admire a brilliant idea. I have not received one of these messages before, so perhaps this is a new strategy being used by the Red Cross.

I got this email message yesterday:

Your donation is on its way to change lives.

Dear Brian,
Thank you for giving blood with the American Red Cross on 4/11/2017. After first ensuring that local needs were met, your blood donation was sent to Dupont Hospital in Fort Wayne, IN to help a patient in need. Your donation is on its way to change lives!

That is pretty smart.