CineSavant Column

Tuesday March 19, 2024


Confused (or bored?) by CineSavant’s incessant man-splaining blab about widescreen processes?  A comic from seventy years ago simplifies everything: Panic #12.

Correspondent-advisor ‘B’ pointed us to this comic art from the end of 1954. The panels are from a Panic comic story called ‘S a Tragic Air Command, written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Wallace Wood. It’s a parody of Paramount’s Strategic Air Command with James Stewart. The movie was touted as being in VistaVision, a big-format camera process then only a year old.

Feldstein and Wood begin their 7-page comic article with a primer on the weird new film formats, like CinemaScoop and Vasta Vision. The one being explained above is Cinerama, renamed CINERAMAMA for the comic. We like the Indian hood ornament attacking from the left.

 An earlier panel showed a cameraman with three eyes, the better to see through Cineramama’s three-lens camera. I remember the same gag used more than once in Mad magazine, to show a happy enthusiast for 3-D photography. Both Images enlarge for readability.

This is likely Old News to fans of classic comics. ‘B’ says that Panic was EC’s own Mad knock-off. Its entry at Wikipedia includes a lot of detail.

This old Heritage Auctions page shows the whole 7 page story (good luck reading it) as a pricey sale from 11 years ago. Or, there’s this HipComic sales page that shows the cover (by Jack Davis), and says that #12 was Panic’s final issue.



CineSavant contributor, Italo Western expert and good friend Lee Broughton forwards an interesting item …

This page is offering a free book download, Pinewood: Anatomy of a Film Studio in Post-war Britain, by author Sarah Street. It can also be purchased in hardcover from the same page. Lee describes the setup as ‘part of Academia’s move to an “open access model.”

I’ll want to check out Ms. Street’s book. I took a quick peek, and it looks heavily researched and annotated, and might be a useful resource when writing about English films. Springer Link describes it thusly:

“Explores how Pinewood came to be Britain’s dominant film studio, focusing on the key years 1936-55 … Provides a new approach to a particular aspect of British film history … Analyses 12 important British films, some of them considered classics made at Britain’s premier film studios.”

They end up with the statement This book is Open Access, which means that you have free and unlimited access.  This access system itself is something to learn more about. I write and give away this review page, but that’s not an option for writers looking to earn a living from their work.

I have little understanding of the politics of this, let alone the economics. Connected by marriage to Santa Monica College, I’ve heard about efforts to replace ridiculously expensive textbooks with Open Access materials. Students can get financial aid to cove Tuition, but then show up in class ‘faking’ having a textbook to learn from.


Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson