I bought the following battered paperback for a buck at a church sale on the weekend:
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
The image on the cover is an aggressively cropped section of Frank Frazetta’s unusually expansive poster art for the movie Mrs. Pollifax — Spy (1971), which was based on the novel by Dorothy Gilman.
Here, for ease of comparison, are what the poster and the original art look like, more or less:
Notice how, in the poster image, someone or other — the art director? — not only has intensified the colour and contrast but also has moved the hand with the gun, camouflaged in the canopy of the tree in the original, down and slightly to the left, and trimmed back the foliage a bit, in order to make the “threat from above” ridiculously blatant, and I would argue that both changes work rather nicely; that is, the brighter colours seem to me to be more sympathetic to the comedic intent/content of the image — not to mention, more eye-catching — and the change in the position of the arm, etc., integrates the hidden, would-be assassin in a more satisfying way into the overall comedic situation.
(Oddly enough, on the paperback cover, the hand with the gun appears to be positioned more or less where Frazetta has it in his painting, though its effect in that instance — if one notices it at all — seems to me to be more unsettling than it is humorous.)
Notice also the variations in colour among the three images. I don’t know if Frazetta’s original painting is truly as subdued as it looks in that JPEG. What I do know, however, is that my scan at the top of this post matches my copy of the book quite well.
I’m a bit late to notice this, but back in November of 2009, MaestroMedia Productions released a two-disk DVD set of The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman, produced, written, directed, and photographed by Fred Barney Taylor. Available for a mere US$30 plus shipping and handling (request a total if you live outside the United States), the DVD set includes the original 80-minute documentary, along with a second DVD with over two hours of raw footage of Delany in conversation and a digital transfer of Delany’s “lost” 16-mm film from 1971, The Orchid (which, comic readers may be interested to know, includes Bernie Wrightson as an extra).
The iconic and larger-than life Samuel R. Delany, best known as the author of Dhalgren and Babel-17, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, is considered a grandmaster of the sci-fi community. Born and raised in New York City, Delany began writing in the early 1960s and became famous for his provocative futuristic explorations of race and sexual identity. He was a rebellious pioneer who opened up the white male universe of science fiction to issues of race, gender and sexuality
The grandson of a slave, he has written frankly about his life and sexual adventures as a gay African-American, notably in his brilliantly reflexive memoir, The Motion of Light and [in] Water and in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, a social and critical complaint about the disappearance of the area’s famous porn theatres.
Back in the day, Chip shared a stage with Bob Dylan, drank with W.H. Auden, wrote an opera, made a film, formed a theatre company, and authored several issues of Wonder Woman. He has had, by his count, over 50,000 sexual partners during the course of his lifetime.
Taylor uses visually-stunning images of water and bridges as abstract compositions; a visual correlative of the author’s multi-layered writing. By juxtaposing Delany’s flow of memories, readings and archival footage with mesmerizing imagery of the city, The Polymath expresses in vivid detail the complexities of an eclectic intellectual.
“It’s a way of coping with the world. You know, in the same way that somebody copes with it by being a stamp collector or a sports addict or a titan of industry or an alcoholic or something. My way of coping with the horrors of existence is to put my nose to the grindstone and work and not look up.”