Friday, May 24, 2019

Mr. Abel Chapman in Spitzbergen

Watercolor of ship in ice and fog
In the Summer of 1880, a relatively luxurious craft set off to convey a party of avid "sportsmen" to Spitzbergen on an arctic game hunting expedition. This trip was not for discovery or science, but to bag a polar bear, musk ox, or reindeer. One of the passengers, Abel Chapman, was a biologist intent not just on the hunt, but also on documenting the fauna of the arctic.

Watercolor of topographical map of Spitzbergen
Watercolor os two seals on ice

During the trip he assembled a scrapbook of his adventures done in stunning watercolor studies. They show the ships, ice, wildlife, and hunting scenes. The resulting album is a beautiful, if mildly disturbing, portrait of the journey thought the eyes of a naturalist and skilled painter.

Watercolor of hunters and prey Watercolor of small whaling boat being cut through the ice

Come in and take a look by asking for Rare QH11 .C43 1880z.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Best... Script Ever

First page of the Reel 5 transcript for the Las Vegas Superman meeting
In the summer of 1975, four men met in a room in Las Vegas to hash out the details of how to bring their version of Superman to the big screen. Mario Puzo, the Oscar-winning author of both the novel and screenplay The Godfather, had been hired by movie producer Ilya Salkind and his partner Pierre Spengler, who were in the room. The fourth member of the think tank was Carmine Infantino, who had illustrated and edited numerous titles for DC Comics and was the company's publisher at the time. Ultimately, the story would undergo numerous revisions and rewrites until it was released to commercial and critical acclaim in 1978. However, the initial vision for the movie, as conceived by Salkind, was that it would be a movie rooted firmly in a camp sensibility, akin to the very successful 1966 Batman movie. The plan was also for the script to span two movies: Superman and Superman II.

Fourth page of the Reel 5 transcript for the Las Vegas Superman meetingHere at Special Collections in the Puzo Papers, we have a transcript of that Las Vegas meeting. The emphasis on camp is evident from the very first page, as the men debate how to switch the focus from a detonated atom bomb to the Pope, and what to do about the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman. Then one of the men mentions the need to have an "underwater thing," because, by the time the movie will be made, "Jaws will be played out" and so they "can have some sharks." There is also a great discussion about how long the movie can be, with the general consensus being that it can't be longer than two hours and fifteen minutes if they're going to hold the interest of seven-year-olds and eight-year-olds. At one point, someone jubilantly exclaims, "I feel terrific, I think we got the best fuckin' script, I mean really the best fuckin' script ever written of this kind of film ever."

To read more of the discussion, come to Rauner Library and ask for MS-1371, Box 20.