Friday, October 16, 2009

Wherein the Associated Press gets snooty and I chide them.

Back when the internet was a text based environment suited to slow dial-up modems, I was a regular at several newsgroups, including alt.obituaries. I hated missing that someone interesting had died, so I went to the newsgroup daily. Sadly, it degenerated into a lot of noise and little signal, so I left. Now, I go to the Associated Press obituary page to keep track.

This week, there were a couple deaths of people I consider celebrities, but the fancy pants A.P. isn't so sure. The first is Captain Lou Albano, the professional wrestler best known to non-wrestling fans as Cyndi Lauper's dad in her seminal video, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Being a showman, Captain Lou milked this fifteen minutes of fame for as long as he could, even claiming that he was the person who put Cyndi Lauper on the map.

News flash: Cyndi could actually sing, and still can. She didn't make it into the stratosphere with her career, but I will proudly admit I owned Cyndi Lauper records when I was younger. I have never owned any recording by that Madge person who started recording songs at about the same time Cyndi did.

Still, it's a tip of the cap to Captain Lou. Rest in peace, ya big palooka.

Today's obituary that the A.P. doesn't think makes the cut is comic book artist George Tuska. A major part of his career at Marvel was drawing Iron Man, a comic I never liked, but he also drew Luke Cage, Hero For Hire and continued on the book when it was retitled Luke Cage, Power Man. He was also the artist for several issues of The X-Men, another comic I collected.

For a while, Tuska worked under the name Carl Larson. Name changes were fairly common back in the day, and many of them hid the fact that the comic book industry was largely populated by artists and writers who were either immigrants or the sons of immigrants, most of them Eastern European or Jewish or both. Tuska was born in 1916 in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Russian immigrants. His style borrowed heavily from the slam-bang action style of Jack Kirby, born Jacob Kurtzberg in New York City in 1917, the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Captain Lou Albano and George Tuska, from a fan.


D.R. Scott said...

Thanks for the nice words about George Tuska.

Back in the stone age of comics, Tuska was one of those ink-stained scribblers called up from the minor leagues (Don Heck, Marie Severin, Gene Colan, John Buscema's brother Sal) when either Kirby or Ditko were busy.

No, Tuska didn't re-invent the wheel with his artwork, but he worked hard and was always on time (and, no doubt, underpaid) But for a greedy comic book geek like Yours Truly, I was glad Tuska was there to give me another fix of my favorite four-color drug.

Rest In Piece, Mr. Tuska.

Matty Boy said...

He was definitely a step up from Don Heck. I hated Don Heck.

I vaguely understood the difference between pencilers and inkers. Some pencilers like Jack Kirby were impossible to mask. Some inkers like Tom Palmer could make anyone pencil's look good.

Except Don Heck's. I hate Don Heck.

Did I already write that? Yes, I believe I did.

CDP said...

I love Cyndi Lauper. I like Madonna, too, but not nearly as much as Cyndi.

D.R. Scott said...

Uh, I must respectfully disagree.

I remember Tom Palmer inking Heck's artwork for an X-Men back in the 70s. (It was the one that introduced a ho-hum Japanese superhero, I forget who.)

Tom Palmer was such a genius that he made even Don Heck look great. Fucking amazing.

Fran said...

Rest in peace!

I liked Cyndi a lot. In 1999 I saw her opening up for Cher and she was truly a great entertainer who clearly loved what she was doing.

namastenancy said...

Who can forget Cindi's hit _ Girls just wanna have fun! I may still have the tape around here someplace. That's still my theme song but it's sung a bit slower these days. RIP to the guys that you wrote about: I was never a comic book fan so all that goes right over my head but I can recognize a classy obit when I read it. It makes me feel a bit strange when people younger than I am leave Planet Earth.

Matty Boy said...

My favorite Cyndi song is I Drove All Night. The last time through, she sings the overtone, which is a very high note indeed. There was auto-tuning back in the day, and she really nailed it.

Fran said...

We had "Time After Time" as our song at our 2007 wedding. Mark came up with it actually... it does work since we had known each other for many years, broke up, got back together etc.

Lou Albano, may he rest in peace, did not put Cyndi on the map!

And Matty- I Drove All Night is superb!

Matty Boy said...

Oops. When I wrote "there was auto-tuning back in the day", I meant to say there was NO auto-tuning back in the day.

"I Drove All Night" was covered by Roy Orbison and Celine Dion. Both big voices, neither one holds a candle to Our Cyndi on this one.