PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

As I’ve mentioned before, Tuesday is our most-listened-to day on The AIR and we really like to load it up with new episodes of our most popular shows.

However, this week your PopCulteer is still a bit hungover from The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide and then a week-long trip to Chicago for Mrs. PopCulteer’s birthday, so Tuesday we bring you one new episode of Radio Free Charleston and everything else is reruns You can tune in at The AIR website, or listen in on this hand-made, intricately-embroidered radio player…

The plan is to kick off next week with Christmas programming and new episodes of all of our shows, as a special gift for you. This week’s RFC is packed with brand-new music, and also has a sprinkling of terrific treats from our archives. Just check out this playlist…

RFCv4093

Luna Park “Voices Carry”
Todd Burge “I’m Going Down”
Ann Magnuson “The Sun Don’t Care”
John Radcliff “End of The Road”
Poor Man’s Gravy “N.I.M.F.”
Speedsuit “The Dawn”
William Matheny “That’s How I Got To Memphis”
Jay Parade “Crying Over Spilled Coffee”
Karen Allen “Forgiveness”
Half Batch “Sweet Fire”
Creek Don’t Rise “Mobile Blues”
Mad Scientist Club “Roto Ruter”
Mind Garage “Reach Out”

The oldest track there is nearly fifty years old, and the newest, John Radcliff’s song, was just released last Sunday evening. It’s all great stuff, and shows how much fun you can have while you support the local scene.

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

The programming day on The AIR continues with classic episodes of our shows like The Swing Shift and Psychedelic Shack. Next week those will be brand-new.

Monday Morning Art: Mary Marvel

 

This week’s art is a digital doodle, a semi-abstract rendering of Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel’s super-powered sister. I’m a huge fan of Captain Marvel (don’t call him “Shazam”) and the entire Marvel Family, which includes Mary, Captain Marvel Jr, and ancilliary characters like Uncle Dudley and the Three Lt. Marvels.

Anyway, this is Mary Marvel, with a pose swiped from an old Vargas pin up. Click to see it bigger.

Meanwhile, over on The AIR, Marathon Monday features RFC International, the show where yours truly gets to play anything he wants, for 24 hours, from 7 AM Monday to 7 AM Tuesday. If you think this has anything to do with your PopCulteer’s vacation just wrapping up, then you’d be pretty close to the truth. I think I earned some R&R after spending all of November writing The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide. The plan is to have new radio shows on The AIR, and plenty of new content here in PopCult…starting tomorrow. I still need to rest a bit.  You can tune in on The AIR website, or on this rather ingenious embedded transistor radio thingy…

Sunday Evening Video: Random RFC Christmas

We have some random Radio Free Charleston Christmas episodes and holiday treats to share this week, and they’re being posted late due to wonderful misadventures that you will hear of later, so let’s jump into it as Santa revs up his hot rod sleigh and prepares to break and enter worldwide for a good cause…

Below is the Radio Free Charleston Christmas show for 2014. Hosted from Capitol Market we brought you holiday music sung by lovely female voices.

You will hear Melanie Larch accompanied by Mark Scarpelli, Marium Bria, Lady D-Doris Fields and The Laser Beams, plus we have an epic cartoon about the war on Christmas by Jacob Fertig.

But before we jump into the music we bring you some incomprehensible words from Santa Claus.

Next up let’s go back to 2015 for The RFC MINI SHOW number 75, a Christmas Special with more music from The Laser Beams…

Back in 2010 Radio Free Charleston went caroling with CYAC and the cast of MARY…

With this, we kick off the Christmas season here in PopCult. The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is in the books, your PopCulteer is back from a fun trip to Chicago, and how about we make Christmas 2018 pretty darned wonderful, okay?

The RFC Flashback: Episode 160

This week we travel back to early June, 2012, for a special preview edition of Radio Free Charleston for FestivALL 2012. This bonus-length, forty-five minutes how includes music from John Lilly, Buddy Black, The Demon Beat, QiET, Sasha Colette, Comparsa and Brian Diller.

We also have a trailer for David Smith’s film, Ladybeard, and lots of footage from previous FestivALLs, including bellydancing and other cool stuff. Host segments were shot all over town, in places where FestivALL stuff would be happening later.  Of course, FestivALL is still going on, and is one of Charleston’s cool summer events.

Next week we’re going to skep a couple of shows ahead in our chronological presentation of Radio Free Charleston, because we ran our actual FestivALL shows in this space just a few months ago.

 

Credit Where Credit Is Due

The PopCulteer
December 7, 2018

Last month Stan Lee, the former publisher and life-long mascot of Marvel Comics passed away, and PopCult, being a pop culture blog, could not let that go without comment. He was the editor-in-chief, publisher, head cheerleader and mascot for Marvel Comics, and without him, we would not have Marvel as we know it today.

Stan Lee passed while I was in the middle of writing The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide, and with that taking up all my time, I didn’t have time to compose a proper obituary. In a way, that was a bit of a relief.

See, I can’t sit here and say that Stan Lee created the Marvel Universe. It would not have existed without him, but he was not the sole creator, and his role as a co-creator is probably not what many people seem to think it was.

I give him all the credit in the world for hiring top-notch talent like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and helping them bring their work to the public. And I give him all the credit in the world for tirelessly promoting Marvel Comics and taking them from being a cheap publisher who hadn’t had a hit comic book in more than fifteen years to the number one comic book publisher in America.

Stan Lee did that. He sold the world on Marvel Comics, and without his salesmanship, we would not have the current crop of big-budget Marvel Movies. He was smart enough to hire people who could tell epic stories that touched the world.

But he didn’t create those characters, or write any stories on his own.

Stan invented “The Marvel Method.” Many people praise this as an innovative movement that gave the comic book artist greater control over the pace and action in the story, and allowed them way more creative freedom than if they worked from a full script.

With The Marvel Method, the artist would be given a short synopsis of what would happen in the story, and then tell that story in the agreed-upon number of pages. Then Stan Lee would handle the final dialogue.

However, this was not really a case of artistic freedom. Stan Lee worked for Magazine Management, a company owned by his aunt’s husband, Martin Goodman. When sales of the comics dropped, what was then called Atlas Comics had to tighten their belt. Page rates were cut to near the bottom in the industry, so when Lee wanted a raise, he had to come up with a creative way to get it.

Basically, Stan Lee laid off all of Atlas Comics’ freelance writers, and had the artists start working from his springboard ideas. The artist would do the bulk of the work, plotting and drawing the comics, and then Stan Lee would write the dialogue, which sometimes was not much different from what the artists had suggested in the margins. Lee would then take full credit as the writer, and keep the entire paycheck that would have earlier gone to a freelance writer. When Lee did not take the credit and pay, it went to his brother, Larry Leiber. An example of how this worked is the way that the monster story that introduced Groot was done. Lee gave his artist, Jack Kirby, the instruction “Wood alien, six pages.”  Lee knew that Kirby would run with that. Most of his ideas were more thought out, with a plot, but by that point the monster comics had become so formulaic that, with Kirby, he just had to tell him what kind of alien to use. Of course, Kirby didn’t get paid any more than if he’d been handed a full script.

Because he was essentially management, in a family-owned business, he could get away with that. The comic book market had dried up so much that artists were forced to work on those terms, or go without work…or work for Charlton Comics for even less money.

Stan Lee was not an artist. He did not draw comic books, ever. He held the title of art director, but that was probably more likely due to his family owning the business.

Lee was very smart to hire Jack Kirby at a point where Kirby had hit a professional low point. A dispute with an editor at DC Comics left Kirby looking for work to support his family. Despite not trusting Martin Goodman after Goodman had reneged on an agreement to share revenue with Kirby and Joe Simon from their creation, Captain America twenty years ealier, Kirby had no choice but to go to work forAtlas/Marvel, and with Stan Lee, whom he regarded as a bit of a pest.

Goodman told Lee to create a Super Hero Team, and Lee asked Kirby to do all the work. Kirby dusted off ideas that he’d devoloped for his DC Comics creation, The Challengers of The Unknown, gave them super powers and then Lee handled the dialogue, and that was what became The Fantastic Four.

With that being a good seller, Lee asked Kirby for other ideas. Kirby gave him the name for Spider-Man, and brought The Incredible Hulk, The X Men and several others to the table. Meanwhile, Steve Ditko developed Spider-Man into the hero we recognize, and other great talents like Don Heck, Gene Colan, Bill Everett, John Buscema and John Romita eventually came to Marvel. All of them did much of the writing for which Lee took sole credit.

Lee continued to take (or accept) credit for creating Marvel on his own as the media started paying attention and Lee became a popular speaker on college campuses. He even ran out and bought a toupee and grew facial hair to be more hip (that’s him with Jack Kirby in 1964 before Lee revamped his image seen above).

Eventually Ditko got sick of Lee taking all the credit in his ever-increasing public appearances, and left Spider-Man and his own creation, Doctor Strange, at the height of Marvel’s acension to prominance. Ditko actually preferred the low pay of Charlton to being robbed of his deserved credit as co-writer of the Spider-Man stories.

A few years after that, Kirby also left and went to Marvel’s chief competitor, DC Comics, to create The New Gods and The Fourth World saga, which is providing the foundation for many upcoming DC Universe movies. Coincidentally, around this time Lee pretty much stopped writing comics on a regular basis. Kirby skewered Lee in Mister Miracle as “Funky Flashman,” poking fun at his ever-present hairpiece and taking shots at Stan’s assistant, Roy Thomas. That type of payback does not happen without reason.

The Lee-Kirby partnership was not one of equal creators pitching in 50/50 on new characters. Kirby did most of the work. Lee handled the dialogue and most importantly sold the work to the public and created the illusion of a happy bullpen of comic book creators who all loved each other and were one big happy family.

Stan Lee’s legacy as a co-creator does not include much before or after his collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. His work before he teamed with Kirby on Fantastic Four was grossly unremarkable. After Kirby left, Lee basically quit writing comics.

His “creations” after this point included Disco Dazzler and Stripperella.

That’s why I call Stan Lee Marvel’s “mascot.” The man was a great editor. He had a real eye for talent. He knew how to pitch comics to the public. He was gregarious and friendly to fans who met him at conventions. The work he took credit for inspired many of the greatest writers in the history of comics. But after 1970, Stan Lee was more like Ronald McDonald than Walt Disney. His name was on every comic book, emblazoned with “Stan Lee Presents,” but it was increasingly clear that he wasn’t even reading them any more.

He was beloved by fans, and work that he was credited with inspired a whole generation of comics creators. But I can’t let his passing go by without mentioning that he also took credit for the work of others. Many of my friends on Facebook were posting tearful eulogies, then citing books that came out years after Stan Lee quit writing as their favorite work by him.

The last couple of years of Lee’s life were pretty miserable. He did not deserve that. His work as a publisher and editor brought joy to the lives of millions of people. While it is probably for the best that his suffering is over, it’s still a shame that he’s gone. The man was a grand ambassador for comics, even if he didn’t create quite as much as he allowed people to believe.

That’s why it’s a relief that I had to wait a few weeks to post this. I held my tongue when he died because it was “too soon” to point out that he didn’t create anything on his own, except for The Marvel Method of making the artist do more than half of the writer’s work.

This week PopCult’s sister radio station, The AIR, is presenting special marathons all week long, so aht new listeners can hear our most popular programs and get caught up on just how cool they are. You can tune in at The Website, or listen right on this cool embedded player.

Today at 7 AM we play all ten (so far) episodes of Harrah’s Hard & Heavy, Lee Harrah’s guide to all things hard rock. At 5 PM listen to Lee as a guest on Six Degrees of Separation, as he discusses his career in the local music scene. Harrah’s Hard & Heavy can be heard every Friday night at 7 PM on The AIR.

Then at 7 PM, and continuing all night long, it’s time for PROG ROCK with Prognosis, bringing you episodes hosted by Herman Linte and yours truly.

Prognosis can be heard every Thursday at 3 PM, with replays Friday at 7 AM, Saturday at 8 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM and Wednesday at 10 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

 

This week PopCult’s sister radio station, The AIR, is presenting special marathons all week long, so aht new listeners can hear our most popular programs and get caught up on just how cool they are. You can tune in at The Website, or listen right on this cool embedded player.

It’s all about your PopCulteer on Thursday. From 7 AM to 7 PM, tune in for Rudy Panucci unleashed, as we bring you twelves hours of Radio Free Charleston International, the show where I play whatever I want.

Then at 7 PM, we switch to Radio Free Charleston, your local music showcase. At Midnight we have to kick in to our regular twice-weekly marathon of The Swing Shift, If we don’t run that, they riot in Europe.

Most weeks you can hear RFC International Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 7 AM and 10 PM, Saturday at Noon and 1 AM and next Tuesday at 11 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

Radio Free Charleston can normally be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

Most weeks you can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

 

The Swing Shift and Radio Coolsville On The AIR

This week PopCult’s sister radio station, The AIR, is presenting special marathons all week long, so aht new listeners can hear our most popular programs and get caught up on just how cool they are. You can tune in at The Website, or listen right on this cool embedded player.

Every week The Swing Shift brings you another new hour that mixes a variety of Swing Music from the last one hundred years into an eminently danceable, cohesive whole.Hosted by your PopCulteer himself, this show has become one of our most-listened-to programs with two weekly overnight marathons that draw listeners from around the world. Wednesday we’re bringing you twelve hours of the best of the lot from 7 AM to 7 PM, so that you can listen yourslef and find out what all the swing is about.

Most weeks you can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Wednesday night at 7 PM, tune in for five hours of DJ Betty Rock and Radio Coolsvile, which originally aired on WMUL in Huntington. DJ Betty Rock has put her show on the back burner for most of 2018, but in the coming weeks we will be bringing you several new-to-The AIR episodes of this alternative rock extravaganza. You can hear the best of Radio Coolsville every Tuesday at 5 PM.

After all that coolness, we’re still not done. At Midnight, Mel Larch takes her weekly all-night marathon of Curtain Call into high gear, bringing the best of musical theater to the masses.

Big Electric Cat and Psychedelic Shack On The AIR

This week PopCult’s sister radio station, The AIR, is presenting special marathons all week long, so aht new listeners can hear our most popular programs and get caught up on just how cool they are. You can tune in at The Website, or listen right on this cool embedded player.

Today we bring you twelve hours of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, starting at 7 AM. Then at 7 PM you can tune in for six hours of Psychedelic Shack.

Sydney Fileen is a legendary UK voice on radio and television, and her passion is the classic music of the New Wave era. Each week her show brings you with two hours of the best music of the New Wave era. Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard most weeks on Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM and Thursday at Noon, exclusively on The AIR.

Psychedelic Shack, also produced by our friends at Haversham Recording Institute in London, England, and presented by Nigel Pye, takes the evening shift today. Each week Nigel creates a mind-expanding mixtape with this showcase for Psychedelic Rock, Every Tuesday you can tune in, and turn on with an all-new hour of mind-altering and mood-expanding music.

Psychedelic Shack can be heard Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 5 PM and Saturday at 7 AM.

 

Monday Morning Art: A Different Luna

 

Last week we brought you Luna Lovegood, and this week we bring you Luna L’Enfant. This is another previously-unseen digital painting based on a years-ago Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School session (Have I mentioned how much I miss those?). Luna L’Enfant was one of the regular models at Dr. Sketchy’s, and this is from a session devoted to the science fiction series, Firefly. To be honest, I have no idea why I never used this before. Looking at it now, I like it better than all the other pieces of art I did from that session.

If you like it, you can click to see a larger version.

Meanwhile, over on The AIR, Marathon Monday kicks off a special week of marathons that will allow new listeners to sample our programming, and it’ll also allow your PopCulteer more time to recover from writing The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide.  Each day this week we’ll present a whole bunch of episodes of some cool shows for you to cram in your ears.  We’ll tell you about them every morning so you can be right on top of things. Today you can hear every episode of On The Road With Mel, which will be going on hiatus at the end of the year. That marathon begins at 7 AM and wraps up around 8 PM, after which you will hear Patrick Felton’s That Conversation, which will also being going on hiatus soon.  You can tune in on The AIR website, or on this rather ingenious embedded transistor radio thingy…