93 Comments

  1. For entertainment, teenage cavemen grooved to the sound of rocks being banged together.

    And even then, parental units would complain of the loud noise.

  2. It’s not teens, it’s the upstairs neighbours! Not just banging rocks, but rolling too!

    My thought was it looked more like the pueblo adobe housing. And Japanese capsules.

  3. I’m more interested in the source (and publication history) than the comic itself. The gray border (interfering with the caption) seems unusual (perhaps it was from a book). The detail that caught my eye was the handwritten date, which would be unusual for a current rerun (and even more so for a book. Publishers usually remove the dates from reprints.)
    P.S. I did not know (until I looked it up) that Partch died in 1984.

  4. Although Partch died in 1984, Toonopedia says that Big George ran from 1960 to 1990. Apparently Partch had built up a very substantial stockpile at the time of his death.

  5. Terrence Feenstra, don’t you mean GNU Terry Pratchett?

    Regarding the cartoon, yeah I think it’s supposed to be the neighbors playing loud “rock” music. Sort of a pune, or play on words. Meh.

  6. B.A., I suppose that’s possible. All I know is what’s in Toonopedia, which says, “Like Henry Boltinoff, Partch worked far in advance, building up a stockpile to last years. Thus, despite the fact that he was killed in a traffic accident in 1984, there was enough material to keep his panel going until 1990. After it ran out, however, Big George ended.”

  7. Okay, Usual John, that does lean toward the “backlog” theory.

    I suspect after Joe Martin dies, they’ll find entire comic strips he’d never published.

  8. Zane Grey died in 1939, and had enough unpublished works that a new novel was released every year (or almost every year) through 1959. (After which, and sprinkled in the during-which period, there were also new omnibi and collections of stories culled from magazines and variant editions that added another twenty or so “new” books to his canon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zane_Grey#Works

    So ViP was (comparatively) a goof-off.

    Of course Charles Dickens and other authors communicated new works via mediums even after their deaths, so you can never say never. . .

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._P._James

    (There are other cases, but that’s perhaps the most famous.)

  9. Was it a daily strip? If it ran 5 days a week, by my math he would have a stockpile of roughly 1500 when he perished. He must have really really liked doing it.

  10. Alex Graham(Fred Basset) and Reg Smythe(Andy Capp) also had big stockpiles of strips running long after their deaths.

  11. Terry Pratchett wrote, “You can’t write books when you are dead, unless your name is L Ron Hubbard.” Someone else wrote something along the lines of, “The good news is that L. Ron Hubbard is dead. The bad news is that he’s still writing books.”

  12. The same can be said of V.C. Andrews (‘Flowers in the Attic’, ad nauseam), altho once s/he died, others were hired to continue the series. These books were the MOST stolen/never returned books in the high school library where I worked for 30 years.

    There is a new ‘Agatha Christie’ book out, written by someone who has ‘taken up the mantle’, so to speak.

  13. Noel Stookey was identified as Paul when the “Peter Paul and Mary” act was put together. Even when they were listed with their full names, he was cited as Paul Stookey. In more recent years, he performs as Noel Paul Stookey.

  14. Big George was one of my favorite comics. I didn’t recognize it by name (George wasn’t in this one). I could only find a few dozen strips on line. (After reading the few dozen, I don’t know that he would be a favorite of mine today; his reactions are a little extreme for me).

  15. I didn’t know that Noel Stookey became Paul only because “Peter, Paul and Mary” sounds better than “Peter, Noel and Mary”. I wonder why Mary Travers didn’t also take a new name so they could be “Peter, Paul and Mounds”.

  16. Mitch, Mark, PP&M never performed as PN&M, thank goodness, nor did they turn Mary into a candy bar, but they did record an album called Peter, Paul, and Mommy. The Beatles called them Pizza, Pooh, and Magpie.

    From the can’t-make-it-up department: Noel Paul Stookey’s second solo release was a live album recorded at a Carnegie Hall concert in December of 1971. By the afternoon of the concert just 200 tickets had sold, probably because hardly anyone yet knew who “Noel Stookey” was. So Stookey and his band hit the New York streets, handing out free tickets to anyone who would take them. That evening, the hall was packed.

    The album is, remarkably, still in print. The current jacket’s front has the artist’s name and the album title: “Noel Paul Stookey One Night Stand.” But the copy I played on my college radio station, like the copy I bought not long after for my own collection, just said PAUL STOOKEY in large friendly letters on the front, and NOEL on the back. Tucked inside was what looked like a facsimile of the concert program with the date, the 19th of December – less than a week before Christmas. So when I aired it, I gave the album title as NOEL. I didn’t yet know who Noel Stookey was, either.

    As a chaser, inside the gatefold was a stage photo of the band. Under Noel was printed “Neil Stokey.” Was that Noel poking fun at his own name tweak? Was it a clueless graphics designer? I can’t say.

    Wait now. How on earth did we lurch from Big George to Noel Paul Stookey?

    For the record (sorry), I’ll buy the pile of rubble on the ground, but the evenly-spaced dots on the wall don’t look anything like rocks to me.

  17. Returning to the comic as well, I get the implications of ‘rock’ music and the possibility of the upstairs neighbour banging/rolling rocks to make music that people above have suggested, but the caption says, ‘…turn that thing down!’ What ‘thing’ is he referring to? If his neighbour was banging rocks, wouldn’t he just say, “Stop doing that!” or “Put those things (plural) away!” or something?

    It seems the guy upstairs has a particular thing, not thingS, which leads me to believe we haven’t got to the bottom of this comic yet. And I’m no help either. I haven’t got a clue.

    (Could the ‘evenly-spaced dots’ just be footholds to climb up into the caves?)

  18. @ Andréa – ‘taken up the mantle’, so to speak.

    The “new Agatha Christie” is the fourth by Sophie Hannah, a poet and well-regarded psychological thriller writer in her own right. I haven’t read anything by her myself, but I am minorly connected to her in a 6-degrees-of-separation way as her father was Norman Geras, a Marxist lecturer born in then-Rhodesia who ran some of the seminars in my Modern Political Thought course at Manchester University in 1978/79 (when his daughter would have been about eight).

    He seemed a rather dour, dry, serious-minded chap but many years later I came across his blog, normblog (still online – on politics, Iraq, films, literature, music, anti-semitisim, various cultural issues and Australian cricket) and he was sometimes surprisingly funny, still in a dry sort of way. I even won a £20 book token in a sweepstake he ran asking his readers to predict the outcome of a Test series (long-form international cricket competition). His last blog post about ten days before he died eight years ago, suitably enough for his daughter’s his wife’s (Adèle Geras, childrens’ author) careers, was a list of 100 works of literature he had enjoyed and thought we might too. (Links to daughter and wife in the wikilink to Norman Geras above).

  19. Thanks for the info on Sophie Hannah; I subscribe to the monthly Book Page, where this new book was recommended but hadn’t mentioned that it was her fourth attempt, altho I do think it mentioned this was her first Poirot book. I’ll see how I like it and then decide whether to try the others.

  20. According to Wikipedia, this would be her fourth Poirot book.

    Hercule Poirot
    The Monogram Murders (2014)
    Closed Casket (2016)
    The Mystery of Three Quarters (2018)
    The Killings at Kingfisher Hill (2020)

    Here’s another 6-degrees link… David Suchet played Poirot in loads of recent TV adaptations. He was a friend of my uncle David, an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and organised and led the operations at my uncle’s memorial service at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford in 1997. Sir Trevor Nunn did the oration, and also wrote my uncle’s obit in The Independent. My aunt Lys, who is mentioned in the obit, died a week ago at age 97 and I am going to her funeral on Friday.

    There are weird interconnections in all our lives. “Such is the warp and the weft of the tapestry of your life” as my brother put it in a song he wrote.

  21. The Noel Stookey problem is a failure of Public Relations. Everyone knows that Buster Poindexter is David Johansen and everybody knew that A. A. Fair was Erle Stanley Gardner because their publicists made sure they did.

  22. Some time after Rex Stout died, his estate approved a writer to continue the Nero Wolfe writings. But published under the new writer’s name, not as Stout. With of course a prominent note on the cover that these were approved.

    But one of the attractions of the series had been the eccentricities of the Wolfe character, and how they provoked his assistant (and narrator) Archie Goodwin. So fans like me were up in arms when the new writer rode roughshod over the canon, dragging Wolfe into things he never would have done before.

  23. Ellery Queen was a pseudonym for a partnership, and when one of them died the other continued to publish under that name, though (at least at first) not using the Ellery Queen character and milieu they had developed together.

    The general feeling was that those solo books stunk in the writing, and that now we knew which partner had been contributing the wordsmith skills.

    Something like that was also the plot of a very early (perhaps the premiere) episode of Columbo. With the addition that the deceased partner was murdered, of course.

    My memory and the chronology don’t leave it clear if “everybody knew” the Columbo story was commenting on the Queen situation. Or if perhaps it influenced fans and critics and contributed to the trashing of the solo Queen’s work.

  24. Everyone knows that Buster Poindexter is David Johansen and everybody knew that A. A. Fair was Erle Stanley Gardner

    Eventually everybody knew that Richard Stark was Donald Westlake, but I don’t know if that was the case from the get-go. There is such a tonal distance between Stark’s quite cold blooded Parker series and Westlake”s cheerful caper comedies .

  25. For what‘s worth, the new “Poirot” books have been published with the blessing of Christie’s estate. Given that the arrangement has lasted this long, it would seem that they approve of what the new author has been doing with the character.

  26. In all three cases where I read books by approved authors continuing a series of a now-dead originator, I was disappointed, including one where there were at least three additional books. OTOH, I’ve been pleased by some authorized additions to the series of still-living authors (theoretically cowritten) by approved other people.

  27. @ Arthur (& narmitaj) – Sooner or later some TV production company is going to ask for permission to film one or more of those new novels. It would be very interesting to hear David Suchet’s reaction if they ask him to play the lead again.

  28. 1) I put all of them on a Reserve at the library;
    2) I watched all the Suchet/Poirot episodes available on YouTube a few months ago;
    3) I also watched a few interviews with Suchet, and he has stated that he would love to return to playing Poirot;
    4) I’ll not be able to read these books without ‘seeing’, in my mind’s eye, Suchet as Poirot.

  29. @ Andréa – Was that interview dated? There are a number of interviews on the various (later) Poirot DVD collections, and I do think I remember him talking about “returning” in one of the earlier ones, with the caveat that it the decision wasn’t his to make. However, on the last DVD set (including “Curtain“), there’s also a clip of him doing the very last scene of the last episode to be filmed (“Dead Man’s Folly“), after which someone (probably the director) declared that that was a “wrap” on Suchet’s entire career as Poirot.
    P.S. Suchet has also described how (unexpectedly) difficult it was to “reassume” the mantle of Poirot’s personality for each new series. I would love to see any new episodes that he feels would be appropriate for him to do, but it might be difficult to reconcile the timeline of the new books into the existing canon of films already produced, not to mention with his current appearance.

  30. I didn’t check the dates on the interviews; they are all available on YouTube. I was surprised to find that he’d been doing Poirot for 25 years, off and on. And yes, the scene you describe was shown on one of the interviews I watched.

    I doubt they’d be able to gather Miss Lemon, Hastings and Inspector Japp to do more, anyway.

  31. Mitch4: re Ellery Queen — not quite. After THE FINISHING STROKE in 1958, Dannay (who essentially did the plotting) wanted to quit, and I believe Lee (who generally did the bulk of the writing from Dannay’s plots) had developed writer’s block, but wanted the “Ellery Queen” name to continue (I recall reading that Lee felt he needed the continuing income), so Dannay agreed to let him arrange for other people to publish under the authorial name (but not using “Ellery Queen” the character). I think all of the ghostwriters did their own plotting and writing, with only minimal input from Lee and/or Dannay. Most notably, Jack Vance ghosted three pretty good entries (but it’s generally agreed that all of the books by other ghostwriters are indeed bad or at best meh.)

    After about five years they decided to bring back EQ the character. Dannay resumed doing the plotting/scenarios, but Lee was still unable to resume his share of the actual writing, so ghost writers were again used — Theodore Sturgeon for the first new novel (THE PLAYER ON THE OTHER SIDE) and Avram Davidson for three others. After which Lee overcame his problems and was able to write again, and Dannay and Lee resumed the original duties for the last three “Ellery Queen the character” novels (and for one gawdawful non-series ‘thriller,’ COP OUT). And then Lee died in 1971, and the series came to an end (although Dannay’s lengthy plot summary for a further unwritten novel, A TRAGEDY OF ERRORS, was later published as a curiosity years after Dannay’s own death in 1982

  32. Thanks, Shrug!

    You are more informed on that history than I am! But I did enjoy as well as the novels and stories the critical / editorial / humorous pieces and collections published under EQ authorship or editorship.

    Oddly, “The Finishing Stroke” was the *first* EQ book I read, and it did get me into the idea of following a series by an author with continuing characters, and being conscious of the ordering and subcategories. Along with the “Challenge to the Reader” feature, the extensive listing of books by the same author in EQ novels was for me a hallmark of their publishing. The listing would separate out the saga of that upstate town, for instance.

    I hope I get back from the dentist in a good mood, to discuss further the New York school with you! I like to use a Queen / Stout comparison to help with weighing arguments about “Can we impose our own time’s standards on works of the past?”.

    If I may, I notice you did not discuss the Columbo episode I mentioned. Is it generally thought to be a commentary on the EQ writers?

  33. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066932/reference

    Not the pilot but Season 1 Episode 1.
    “Murder by the Book” is the episode title, but also the title of a Rex Stout novel!

    “When one member of a mystery writing team wants to break from his less talented partner, he becomes the victim in a real-life murder mystery.”

    Director: Steven Spielberg
    Writers: Steven Bochco, Richard Levinson, William Link
    Stars: Peter Falk, Jack Cassidy, Rosemary Forsyth See more »

  34. @ Andréa – It wouldn’t be necessary to bring back the others. Except for Hastings’ return in “Curtain”, all three were absent for all of the later series (especially the double-length episodes). In addition, for the new books, the author explicitly stated that she’s not using any of Christie’s “supporting cast”, just Poirot. The books are even scheduled in a carefully selected calendar “gap”, so that their absence does not conflict with the overall “canonical” chronology of the original books.
    P.S. The chronology in the TV series is telescoped: other than “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” (set during WWI), and “Curtain” (set in 1949), all of the other episodes were filmed as if they took place during a very short span of years; most of them were set in 1936 or 1937.

  35. Mitch4: “If I may, I notice you did not discuss the Columbo episode I mentioned. Is it generally thought to be a commentary on the EQ writers?”

    Don’t know; didn’t comment because I’ve never seen the episode. (I think I did see one episode of COLUMBO once, many years ago — but it wasn’t that one. . . Not a big TV/movie watcher.)

  36. Not the pilot but Season 1 Episode 1.
    “Murder by the Book” was available on YouTube several months ago, where I saw it. I see that many, if not most, of the complete episodes have been removed therefrom. Same with the Hercule Poirot episodes. Maybe too many were watching for free whilst staying at home since March? That’s the only reason *I* was watching them. Personally, I find Jack Cassidy creepy, even when he’s NOT a murder suspect.

    Which is one of the reasons I liked watching Columbo – all the guests who were famous actors, Patrick McGoohan (who also directed five episodes and wrote two). Donald Pleasance, John Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara, Robert Culp (Mr. Sleazy), George Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, William Shatner, Ray Milland, Leslie Nielson, etc., etc., etc. I bet they all LOVED playing against type.

    Columbo/Peter Falk himself was annoying after a few episodes; maybe not so much if you watched an episode a week, but binge-watching . . . annoying, altho I do like to watch the denouément each time..

  37. My father, German as he was, was a fan of American rock and roll music in his youth; he liked Fats Domino, and also liked Chubby Checker, whom he never failed to claim was just a shameless Fats Domino imitator. He never made the connection that Chubby Checker was not hiding this, as even his name is an obvious homage to Fats Domino (Fats = fat -> Chubby; Domino = game piece -> Checker); it was one of my first triumphs of knowing more than my father when as a boy I was able to point this out to him.

    Anyway, I bring this up because Mitch has been juxtaposing Rex Stout and Ellery Queen, and I wonder if the Ellery Queen name isn’t an homage to Rex Stout? Rex = King -> Queen. Stout = Sturdy, substantial, firm; Ellery = Alder tree = Hardwood, which is sturdy, firm, substantial… Am I reaching here?

  38. “. . . all three were absent for all of the later series (especially the double-length episodes).”

    Which is why I didn’t watch any o’ those.

  39. lark: Can’t see why the EQ authors would have been inspired by Rex Stout in naming their detective and byline — the first Ellery Queen mystery appeared in 1929, and while Stout had published miscellaneous magazine fiction earlier, Stout didn’t publish his first *mystery* until 1934.

    I don’t recall if there is any particular reason for their choosing the name “Ellery Queen,” but if they were going to homage any fellow author, “S.S. Van Dine” would have been the likeliest, since there’s a lot of Van Dine’s “Philo Vance” in the early personality of Queen-the-character.

    If someone has handy a copy of Francis Nevins’ ROYAL BLOODLINE or hislater ELLERY QUEEN: THE ART OF DETECTION might check; I suspect Nevins would have discussed it. (Incidentally, to further confuse the issue, it’s noted in one or more of the earlier books that “Ellery Queen” is not even the “real” name of the fictional character, who supposedly preferred to remain anonymous or something — though if this were real life, that would be doomed to failure — how many amateur detectives famed for solving many highly-publicized cases and who also happened to be the son of the police commissioner of New York city could there have been running around out there, anyway?)

    A recommended fun site for All Things Elleryish:

    http://queen.spaceports.com/index.html

  40. I’m completely a dilettante here, just a very casual reader, but it surprises me that Ellery Queen dates back that early! I figured it to be a 1950s thing, maybe reaching back to the late 40s, maybe, and dying ignominiously in the early 70s… (None of this based on anything other than how it struck me as a casual reader.)
    1929 … wow!

  41. @ Andréa – “Which is why I didn’t watch any o’ those…
    Some of the longer (later) “Poirot” episodes are significantly darker than the earlier (shorter) ones, but the absence of Hastings’ banter or Miss Lemon’s fussiness doesn’t make them any less masterful. I’ve seen fan commentary complaining about their absence, but the fact is that Christie did not put them in every Poirot story, and in many of them they are just not needed.
    P.S. Two of the best adaptations with Poirot as a solo operator are the classics “Death on the Nile” (which has plenty of humorous moments, yet still very true to the original), and “Murder on the Orient Express” (which is much darker, and adjusts the focus a little differently from the book). There are many other episodes that I could (and would) recommend, but those two are perhaps the best proof that Suchet does not need a foil to shine brilliantly as Poirot.

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