Tuesday, 21 July 2015

ROCKET SUMMER

Thirty-nine years ago today, this cartoon appeared in the Los Angeles Times...


This edition of the daily Below Olympus pocket cartoon by Frank Interlandi (1924-2010) celebrated the fact that the previous day, 20 July 1976, had seen Viking 1 make history with NASA's first ever landing on Mars.

The presence on the otherwise deserted Martian landscape of a mailbox bearing the name RAY BRADBURY also celebrated the fact that the beloved science fantasy writer had established his idiosyncratic presence on Mars twenty-six years earlier with the publication of his acclaimed story collection, The Martian Chronicles.

Ray bought the original cartoon and told me once that it had given him considerable pleasure to know that he was so associated with space travel and, in particular, with the Red Planet that readers of the LA Times would instantly understand the significance of Interlandi's drawing: NASA had finally made it to Mars – but Bradbury was already there!

When much of Ray's estate went up for auction last year, I was able to purchase the original and give a new home to a unique piece of space exploration history and memorable Bradburyana...


Friday, 17 July 2015

DISNEYLAND DIAMOND PHOTO ALBUM

I can hardly believe that Disneyland turns 60 today...

I was obsessed with the idea of Disneyland from the moment I first heard of about it (I was six years old!), I poured over newspaper and magazine articles about the place, kept pictures of it from the pages of my Mickey Mouse Weekly comic and watched the occasional TV glimpses we got in the UK with a burning desire to visit The Happiest Place on Earth...

Some wealthy friends of my parents too a trip to LA and generously remembering this weird kid who had pleaded for a souvenir of Disneyland, brought him back post cards (including a wonderful fold-out letter card)  and copy of Walt Disney's Disneyland: a hardback book about the park by Martin A Sklar. Years later I would meet the author (by then Marty Sklar, Vice President of Disney Imagineering) work with him of various broadcast projects, become a friend and, eventually, carry that book of his back to the US so he could inscribe it for me!

In 1973, I began a 30-year correspondence with fantasy/sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, writing to him about Disney, his art and 'land' and voicing certain views, born out of ignorance, that earned me a gentle reprimand and an ongoing supply of fresh cuttings and clippings about Disneyland to feed my fantasies!

Despite my years of longing, I didn't make my first visit until 1982, when the park was in its 25th year. I was there on a research trip for a TV documentary I was making about Disney's forthcoming EPCOT Center and I walked through the turnstile on a complimentary ticket! I was given a Disneyland hostess to take me round, but, of course, I needed no guide!

Ever since I made managed to get my hands on the August 1963 issue of National Geographic, I had studied the fold-out map of the park until I could have walked blindfold from City Hall to Space Mountain via the Jungle River Ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, The Golden Horseshoe, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the Mad Tea-Cups, the Matterhorn and Small World!

My long-suffering guide – after an couple of hours of accompanying this obsessive 33-year-old who could top any fact she knew with half-a-dozen more – whisked him off the Carnation Cafe, bought him lunch and then, with a slightly weary smile, suggested that he was probably ready now to run off on his own and have fun...

I've run around Disneyland having fun many times since. Even though, sadly, I've not been there now for quite a few years, I still visit it in my dreams (sleeping and waking) and in looking back over some of my photos of familiar (and, occasionally, unfamiliar) corners of Disney's kingdom...











 




























 




 
 






























Read my reflections on Disneyland at 60

View a few souvenirs of my Disneyland visits