thrift store finds
(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)
This week, we’re going to take a break from comic paperbacks. I’m going spend some time with a couple of semi-interesting (well, they’re semi-interesting to me, anyway) movie tie-in books I’ve uncovered.
I’m currently reading Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer by Tom Shone, a not altogether convincing but still enjoyable defense of the brainless summer movie. I should say, while I have a great appreciation for movies, especially the New Hollywood flicks of the 1970’s, I was raised in the wake of the blockbuster. I grew to love love Robert Altman and Hal Ashby, but in my formative years, I mostly suckled at the respective cinematic teats of Spielberg and Lucas.
For that mental image… you’re welcome.
Anyhow, due to the fact there was NO real merchandise to speak of for Jaws in 1975, there was a void to fill. People wanted Jaws stuff. I guess that’s where 101 Shark Jokes came from.
The jokes are predictably corny.
The author of 101 Shark Jokes is Phil Hirsch, and while I don’t know and can’t find a lot about the guy, I can tell you that all the cartoons in this book come courtesy of Don Orehek, a gag cartoonist who you may recognize as a contributor to the frequently referenced in Thrift Store Finds MAD Magazine knock-off Cracked Magazine.
Don’t hold that against him though- although the jokes are moldy oldies even by Seventies standards, a lot of the drawings are a lot of fun. Orehek has a loose, tossed off style that suits the “let’s get something out on bookshelves to exploit Jaws-mania” that suits this book.
I can’t pretend I understand where that Mark Spitz joke came from… but when was the last time you heard a Mark Spitz joke? Huh? Probably 1975!
Speaking as someone for whom Jaws is easily one of his Rob Gordon/High Fidelity Top Five Favorite Movies Ever, if I was a little kid I would have wanted this book. I would have wanted it for the same reason I wanted Batman toys in 1989- to take that fun experience I had in the theater and carry it with me past the multiplex. It seems as though knock-off books such as this was as good as it would have gotten for a Jaws fan in ’75.
I came across these books a few weeks ago and while I can’t get up the gumption to actually sit down and read them, it blows my mind that someone took the hard R-rated Halloween movie property and turned them into a Goosebumps-like series for kids. Michael Myers was pretty damn vicious in those flicks! I know most of my students have seen worse horror movies than the original Halloween by the time they are in middle school, but it still makes me scratch my head.
As near as I can tell, these are the first two books in a four book series by Kelly O’Rourke in 1997, most likely produced in anticipation for Halloween H20, the badly-named but actually not too terrible sequel to the original Halloween which reunited Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode with her crazy bro.
O’Rourke expands on the Halloween mythos (the Myers family, the town of Haddonfield) without actually digging into the plots of past and future movies. In other words, Michael Myers is hacking kids to bits as per usual, but Laurie Strode and Dr. Loomis are nowhere to be found here. Working around the periphery of a big movie is kind of a cool concept, if you can put aside the knowledge that the movies these books were based on are probably far too mature for the kids these books are aimed toward.
…of course, when I was a little kid, I wasn’t allowed to see even one minute of A Nightmare on Elm Street and I was still fairly obsessed with Freddy Krueger. Perhaps there’s just something striking about these horror characters that lends themselves to being nightmare fodder for kiddies who aren’t even yet watching the flicks from whence they came. Still, these struck me as so odd, I had to have ’em.