"As we traveled along, drawing from my super heavily injected academic background brimming with in-depth encyclopedic and intellectual knowledge, information and data --- all garnered from comic books of course --- I told him about a great story I read in a Gene Autry comic called 'The Ship in the Desert' (issue #52, June 1951) and an even better one in an Uncle Scrooge comic called 'The Seven Cities of Cibola' (issue #7, September 1954) wherein wrecked Spanish galleons had been found in the desert in both stories. As near as I could remember, as far as the ships were concerned, the punchline for both stories were associated with an old Colorado River channel covered and uncovered over the centuries by flash floods or some such thing leading to the Salton Sea."
VIKINGS OF THE DESERT SOUTHWEST
"Drawing from my super heavily injected academic background brimming with in-depth encyclopedic and intellectual knowledge, information and data, all garnered from comic books of course!!!"
In well over a half a dozen places in my works scattered throughout the web I mention my aforementioned above comic book connection in relation to Terry and the Pirates. Generally speaking, almost any time I bring up Terry and the Pirates it is typically made in order to reference to or to draw an analogy to, whatever I am writing about and the exotic-like underbelly-type milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere Terry and his companions, pirates or otherwise, operated in. I have always carried a certain fondness for that type of milieu and because of that fondness have been drawn to such odd-ball fictional characters and stories such as Dan Duryea in China Smith and of course Terry and the Pirates as well as real life places like Rangoon, Burma; Bangkok, Thailand; and Chiang Mai.
Although as a kid I had followed Terry and the Pirates during a good portion of my then early life, and knew how Milton Caniff, the artist-cartoonist of the strip presented Terry and the world he and his so-called Pirates lived in, just at the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, an artist-cartoonist named Wallace Wood drew a spoof or satire of the Caniff strip that appeared in the #6 issue of the comic book, Mad, dated August - September 1953. Wood's spoof, below, titled Teddy and the Pirates, graphically depicted his version of an underbelly far east like milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere along with the rest of the story hit me like a hammer. Then with me, the zit-faced teenager that I was, sucking up into my tiny little brain cell synapses his version as my version, and as my version, the real version. Ten years later, with no particular thanks to Uncle Sam and his friendly Selective Service System, found me in Calcutta, Rangoon, Saigon, and Chiang Mai, as well as any number of other such places, and in those ten year later years, especially in and where I traveled, having gone from a young boy to a high school teenager to an almost mid-twenties GI, my vision not only didn't wane, but was bolstered and grew.
"Nearly as quickly as I had moved into my stepmother's compound than my brothers and I discovered there were three easily accessible movie theaters close by, two a few blocks up the street near Washington and Arlington, one near Western and Adams. In those for-the-most-part pre-TV days, we continually went to the theaters to see such films as Flying Tigers, Back to Bataan, Cry Havoc, They Were Expendable, and Sands of Iwo Jima, along with a whole host of westerns, Frankenstein and Mummy movies and a never ending supply of Tarzan movies, cartoons and serials, especially so, because he had been one of my heroes throughout the war years, my favorite, Captain Midnight. Probably my most favorite, favorite movie in those days, at least of the wartime themed variety, that is up until I saw Flying Tigers, was The Fighting Sullivans. The Fighting Sullivans was about five brothers from Iowa that all joined the Navy together at the same time only a few months after Pearl Harbor. Released in 1944, but not seen by me until much later, the movie most likely resonated so deeply with me because my brothers and I had been reunited, and at the time unknown to me that such would not be the case, I thought this time it would last."
The Wanderling And His Uncle
The above, admittedly a fairly long quoted section from the source so cited, does however, pretty much capsulize my brothers and my initial reuniting. It didn't take long however, before everything began fracturing. For me, in my own life, things were flowering. My Uncle, although classically school trained in the arts, was a bohemian through-and-through and I followed him around like a little puppy dog basking in his intellect, philosophy, and creativity --- always under the distant watchful eye of my Stepmother and, of course, floated by baskets full of her money while my younger brother was being cared for by a nanny or a series of nannies --- and they did whatever a nanny and a four or five year old kid did.
As for my older brother, that was a totally other story. Any attempt on my stepmother's part with my older brother did not work out so hot. Bottom line he hated her and made her life as miserable as possible. He remembered our real mother and our family and would not accept our stepmother in any role --- plus she interfered with his relationship with our father. He wanted him exclusively and did not like the fact that she took basically all my dad's time. In the end my brother got so belligerent and hard to handle they decided to put him in the Mckinley School for Boys in Van Nuys and later in the California Military Academy in Baldwin Hills. For me, being as I was his younger brother and not being able to fully grasp the bigger picture, I was a little perplexed by it all. However, when I went to see him on occasion I thought it was kind of cool, little uniforms and all, everything neat and tidy.
During those same early formative years, say between the time I first became aware of Terry and the Pirates but before Teddy and the Pirates was published, there was, besides comic books, another major source of influence, and that was, as the quoted paragraph above alludes to, movies. Especially so movies, because of the war --- at least in the early years --- related to the war. By the titles however, it would seem as they relate to me and the war anyway, leaning heavily toward the war in the Pacific. Adding to that "war in the Pacific" lean to that of me just entering or coming of age at the time of the so-called mostly post-war film noir movies, we have a perfect storm.
There were three movies that impacted me more than most, at least in a Terry and the PIrates way. All three, by pure coincidence, starred Alan Ladd in the lead role, two co-starred William Bendix and one co-starred Veronica Lake. All three movies were centered almost exclusively around the onetime war related China-Burma-India theater of the U.S. and her allies and the remnants of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in some fashion. The main emphasis of the stories circulated around, if not directly, in a strongly associated peripheral way, Asia and Southeast Asia just as the war was ending or just ended, with connections in the story line back to the Flying Tigers, former "hump" pilots and crews, contraband, femme fatales, and/or some, all, or most. The three movies are China (1943), Calcutta (1947), and Saigon (1948).
I have made all three movies easily available and accessible for you to watch and enjoy free and on-line by merely clicking the movie ad posters below. If you go to one of or all of the movies be sure to pay attention to the background, the hustle-bustle milieu, the extras, the goings on, the buildings and signs. I know it's Hollywood, but you have to remember when I came across the movies I was a young boy, maybe around ten or so. Plus, as an extra added insight a lot of the people who worked on the three movies, putting them together and all, had themselves only just returned from the same hustle-bustle wartime milieu, so they brought an intimate knowledge with them. The movie Blue Dahlia, although not set in Asia is for the most part the same "crew" returning from the South Pacific just after discharge and their attempts to readjust to the trials and tribulations back in the U.S. and facing peacetime after being gone so long and fits in well after any or all of the other three.
If you recall from my works elsewhere on the net I had been taken to India by a foster couple just as I was entering kindergarten, missing many months of school. During that period I was exposed to a lot of Asia and Indian culture, but because of mitigating circumstances any remembrance of the experience was wiped clean. The following was written by a G.I. basically on R & R in Calcutta during World War II:
"Calcutta was like being in some huge Bazaar, with all or if not more of the implied underpinnings and intrigues found in the movie Casablanca. Most people don't think of the Indian people in such a fashion, but along the gutters of the streets and back alleys there wasn't anything you couldn't find, buy, or have done to, by or from somebody if you had the money. There were so many providers, purveyors, and entrepreneur there was even space to haggle prices between whatever you wanted or wanted done. I even discovered there were a number of German military in the crowds that I would bump into on a occasion, some saying they were POW's, others deserters, almost all from submarines with a few from merchant raiders, just counting down the days for the war to end. Not sure how much of it our side, British, Indians, or even the Germans knew about it --- or if they did, even gave a shit or somehow used it to their advantage, but it wasn't a secret to me in my wanderings. I think most of them that came across me thought I was in the same boat so even though there was an on the surface "enemies" thing, there was a below the surface camaraderie thing. Crossing paths for the first time from a distance or otherwise, under the circumstances that existed it wasn't always easy to tell if one was an a American or German, but being white, almost anywhere you went not British/ American military or an English lawn party or polo match type thing, you definitely stood out."(source)
I'm telling you, if you are even remotely interested in any of the above --- film noir, the exotic-like underbelly Asian milieu of the streets, that is, what it was like to have been there or in it, especially during the war, post war and the late 1940's, the following four movies are truly well worth watching and an absolute must see:
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ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
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FIFTEEN CHAPTER 1940's MOVIE THEATER SERIAL
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EIGHTEEN EPISODE 1952 - 1953 TELEVISION SERIES
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