Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary















Home > Letters to CR

Bruce Paddock On Jefferson Machamer
posted December 3, 2010
 

I ran across your little write-up on Jefferson Machamer while doing some research on line. http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/briefings/commentary/5040/ You mentioned an interest in his drawings and I wondered if you knew he did a series of movies at Educational Pictures Corporation of America, the short subject arm of 20th Century Fox in the 1930's. He authored and starred in each of these (highly surreal) musical comedies along with dozens of chorus girls (for lack of a better term) all of whom resemble the women in his drawings. These films are totally off-the-wall, and the stories are held together with him doing drawings of various gals - illustrating whatever is happening at the moment. I have managed to find 16mm prints of four of them over the years. My favorite is Comic Artist's Home Life (1937). Since the Production Code enforcers were mainly watching the general output of the major studios, Educational Films often got by with some rather risqué (for the period) material. One such scene in Comic Artist's Home Life is when he takes his new bride (whom he married immediately upon meeting) home for their wedding night. When they enter the house, he takes her into the "Nursery" to meet his "adopted daughters." Of course it is a big room full of full grown chorus girls, all doing dance steps and musical numbers. Such is the world of Jefferson Machamer's filmmaking. I think he was a genius. Once you see his movies, you realize that the "unattractive older men" in his comics are often self-portraits.

A few years ago I read in the local (Sequim, WA) newspaper where his wife, 1940's actress Pauline Moore, had passed away. She had come here to be with her son - who happened to be a local preacher (of all things!). I dropped them a line in the mail and told them I had some of Jefferson's movies on 16mm, in case they were interested in seeing them or making DVD's or whatever. I never heard back and later learned that the son had passed away shortly thereafter. Being a rather low-key person myself, I did not pester them further, although I would have been keenly interested to have talked to someone who had grown up around those very interesting parents.

You mentioned in your article something about Mark Newgarden using a similar multi-gag format, without knowing about it. Mark contacted me after I had once won an e-Bay auction for one of Machamer's movies. I know he is a fan of Machamer and he has some of the films himself.

There was a book published about that same time that had a lot of his work in it, but I foolishly didn't buy it when I had the chance and cannot seem to locate the title. Perhaps you are familiar with it.

Well, that's about it. Just thought I would toss in my two cents worth.