Monday, September 14, 2015

Guest Strip - Let's Jump Into a Good Book!

Doug: He's back! Telling a tale as only he can, your host du jour is PF Gavigan!


Redartz said...

Fantastic job, PF! Absolutely love your illustrations, and that comic book background array is impressive (of course I had to attempt identification of each one; OCD type that I am). And a very worthy topic, as well. I haven't read either of the books you discussed here, but they both seem like they would have appealed to my nine-year-old self too.

Particularly the "Mad Scientists Club"; it brought to mind a couple such books I did read years ago. The first was a series of investigative mysteries featuring a youth named "Encyclopedia Brown". His books featured short stories in which young Mr. Brown put his intellect to work solving various conundrums that confounded his peers and community.

Another series that came to mind originated from the Scholastic Book Club (anyone else recall those book orders from school; I always waited in great anticipation for the books to be delivered at school and usually brought home a small stack- thanks to my parents for encouraging the reading fetish...). "Double Trouble for Rupert" and "Triple Trouble for Rupert" were collections of stories about a boy named Rupert Piper, and the comic adventures he found himself in. PF, the illustrations you shared reminded me of those in these books.

Finally there were the Hardy Boys stories, of which I read many. It has been decades since I read any of these books mentioned today, so how they would hold up under 'adult' reading is impossible to say...although I did find one of the Rupert Piper books on a table at a flea market recently, and surreptiously read a few pages- it still brought out a smile...

Thanks for the post, and for triggering the memories!

Edo Bosnar said...

Wonderful, PFG. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I like your new sidekick/refreshing snack as well.
Like Redartz, this one triggered some memories for me as well - all the more so since it hit so close to home, because I did in fact read The Forgotten Door. Like you, I enjoyed it when I was about 8 (this was one of those books that our teacher started to read to us in class, and then encouraged us to check out of the school library and read it ourselves; I took the bait, naturally). Don't know what I would think of it now. Also, I didn't know that Key also wrote the original 'Witch Mountain' books; I never read those but I do recall liking the movies as a child (and again, I don't know what I'd think of them now, although I suspect I'd be underwhelmed).
Some specifically children's books that I remember enjoying from the ages of about 7 to 11 include those from the Danny Dunn series, and the Great Brain books. I also recall liking Robert Heinlein's so-called juvenile novels from the 1950s, which I still think are probably the best books he's written.
Funny that you mentioned the Hobbit - my sister turned me on to that when I was about 8 or 9, and it quickly led to me reading LotR and then all kinds of other fantasy and sword & sorcery books. Unlike the other books mentioned here, though, the Hobbit is a book that I've re-read many times, and I think it holds up quite well. In fact, I think it's far, far better and more enjoyable than the Rings trilogy.
Anyway, great topic, PFG...

Humanbelly said...

. . . he's now. . .
. . . a running. . . gag. . .

If I weren't hopelessly swamped doing frantic set-fixes at the theater at THIS VERY MOMENT. . .

. . . ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pfg. . . so much to answer for-!


Garett said...

Great drawings again PFG, and interesting recollections. The Mad Scientists' Club sounds like something I'd have enjoyed. Like Redartz, I read some Hardy Boys, and like Edo, I liked The Hobbit better than Lord of the Rings. Fun with the popsicle! I think a children's book with your narrator here would be very good.

I think of the Narnia series when I was a kid, and the illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I just looked her up and found out she passed away in 2008. Her drawings seemed just right for this series, and had a friendly and old fashioned look that conjured up possibilities of magic and childhood adventure.

Next was The Book of Three series by Lloyd Alexander, published between 1964-68. I see the last book, The High King, was awarded a Newbery medal for best children's literature that year. The hero is Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper.

Over time I went from Narnia/Hobbit-like fantasy into Science Fiction. After that, and still now, I like autobiographies best--just finished John Cleese's So Anyway, Jackie Robinson's I Never Had It Made, and Jimmy Cagney's Cagney by Cagney. All recommended!

Martinex1 said...

Again great post and art PFGAVIGAN. I too enjoyed the Mad Scientists Club. I read it when I was about eleven and recently tried to get my sons to read it. I loved the part about building Nessie. We will see if I can get them to read it.

Like others I liked the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. I also liked the Scott Corbett " Trick " books, in which a young boy gets a magic chemistry set from an old lady he meets in the park. That leads to all kinds of trouble and fun. Corbett also wrote "The Big Joke Game" in which a boy, prone to telling jokes and making up limericks ends up in a giant board game with his guardian devil.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Anonymous said...

Cool post PFG! I've heard of the Mad Scientist's Club books, but I've never read any of them...maybe I should track them down. There are "kids" books that I still love to read: like Martinex1, I still like Encyclopedia Brown; also the Three Investigators, Alvin's Secret Code (by Clifford Hicks), and the various books by Gordon Korman that probably no one outside Canada is familiar with.

Mike Wilson

Humanbelly said...

Although I'm not familiar with any of the specific books you offered in your (engaging, thoroughly entertaining, well-researched, highly-appreciated) post, pfg, I have to say that both it and the responses have hit numerous pings of memory and personal nostalgia from tail-end Boomer. Y'know, ol' Scholastic is still around, and your troll here would fit WONDERFULLY into their promotional materials for their books and products-- he truly would! Even our life-spawned freezepop would fit in perfectly, with no explanation, as that note of randomness has been particularly in favor for a number of years now. What to name him, what to name him. . . ? Any of our Brit friends have a handle on how Cockney rhyming slang works? He's a Lime freezepop, as a starting point. . .

Yeah Redartz, Scholastic book day was HUGE for us as well, from about 3rd grade all the way through 8th. SO MANY great books via that company, more than a few of which I still have stashed away in boxes and buried on older shelves.

And Mike W, I was hoping to get a chance to toss The Three Investigators out there first, but you beat me to it! THE SECRET OF TERROR CASTLE was the first one I ever read (terrifying interior illustration of a "dead" girl in a mirror, in case anyone remembers), and it was obtained via Scholastic. That was early enough in my book-devouring childhood that I was surprised to read the whole thing on one day.

An even earlier one was TUNNEL THROUGH TIME by Lester del Ray, which was a surprisingly solid little science fiction novel for kids. That's the one that I read probably 4 times, like pfg's favorites.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is indeed the FIRST book that I ever read in one full day, while I was home with either flu, or mumps, or chickenpox (same timeframe as getting my buddy's comic book stash). I will say right out loud that I was flippin' TRAUMATIZED by Aslan's awful death-- even after he was resurrected, I had trouble getting ahold of myself. Boy, that booked seared itself into my memory on many levels.

THE BLUE MAN-- really creepy catch-me-if-you-can thriller; surprisingly good. And a sad ending that went rather over my head the first time.

And TOM SAWYER, believe it or not! My grandparents had a copy on their shelves during one of our long, unbearably hot (and usually excruciatingly dull) summer trips to Arkansas to visit them. With absolutely nothing to do for about the third day in a row, I picked it up out of desperation--- and was unable to put it back down. Tried to sneakily read it during meal-times, even (ANYTHING to get away the dozen different ways my grandma could make a slimy dish out of okra and wax beans. . . my god, she served okra for breakfast. . . )

For me, so many of these favored childhood books have very vivid and specific circumstantial memories attached to them. Thanks much, pfg. A very welcome post.


Anonymous said...

Another great post PFG! Never read The Forgotten Door or the Mad Scientists' Club but I did read the Hobbit and LOTR, two of my favourites up to this day. Tried to read the Narnia series but found it too much of a slog. Hardy Boys? Nah, Sherlock Holmes was more my speed!

- Mike 'literary critic' from Trinidad & Tobago.

pfgavigan said...


Just wanted to jot off a quick note of thanks to everyone who read my post and, especially, to those who commented. I've been highlighting and googling those writers that have been mentioned and I think I have some reading material for my future leisure time.

Just a quick question, has anybody else found the eBook experience to be a frustrating one? I've been reading some of the arguments for the higher than I expected costs for the rental or purchase of digital books and found most of them wanting. The most cited one being the editorial costs, I find that particularly hard to believe when I read a book that was published seventy years ago, that I have a paperback edition from the Seventies in my possession, and both are the same.

Just wondering.



ps Humanbelly, why be mad at me? You invented the inanimate object animation ray in the first place. You must have known how I would use it!

Humanbelly said...

Why, I'm not even a micro-whilliker angry, pfg old sport-! Mind you, I find myself in the position of needing to maintain a constant, anxious vigilance over just how the IOA-Ray is being used (or perhaps mis-used) when not under my direct supervision. Not to denigrate your remarkable achievement, mind you, but in your Frankenstein-like zeal to create little Marathon Greenpop, there, you may have unwittingly hastened his journey from cradle (well-- back-of-freezer) to grave (or. . . innocuous sidewalk puddle). He's a frozen confection. He runs all the time. He sweats. He gets hot AND salty. He thus melts in a twinkling-- having lived a life barely as long as a Mayfly's. And, one assumes, without even having the benefit of a wild burst of procreation before the final tolling of the ice cream man's bell. . .

Where is he running from? What is he running to? The Run is The Life, is it? Literally?
Ahhhh, these are philophical questions not to be taken lightly. Surely they should be pondered before cuing the lightning and throwing the antique "Imbue Life" switch handle, eh?

Oh, you youngster scientists with your Twooter and your FaceBucks and such. Alllll about the instant gratification of getting a million hits on your MyMadExperiment YooHooTube channels. . .

But carry on, carry on----

HB (who dated Mary Wollstonecraft in college before she hooked up with that anemic Percy doofus-- sheesh--)

Humanbelly said...

Hmm-- "philophical" in the above post ACTUALLY should have been seen as "falafelical"-- meaning that the questions merited pondering whilst enjoying a tasty, spicy chick-pea/bean burger. Yum!


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