Modern film-goers are often found to be of the opinion that black and white movies are “boring” for reasons that I cannot fathom. Perhaps they require color and bright flashing lights and cgi effects to keep their attention. Maybe they accidentally caught a drama from the 1940s when they were young children, at an age when ANY drama will seem dull and agonizingly slow. The people who feel this way, and there are a dismayingly large amount of them, can’t begin to imagine how boring and terrible silent films must be. No color AND no sound?? Actually, these people probably dismiss the idea of ever watching a silent movie so quickly that they don’t even form an actual opinion on the matter. If you are one of these people, then please read on. I hope to open your rapidly moving eyes and special little minds to a few gems.

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Truthfully, the silent era created great masterpieces in comedy, action/adventure, drama, mystery, tragedy, and so on. Many of these movies are so entertaining based on the incredible stunt work alone that you forget that movie-making was in its infancy and there would not be a dependable computer involved in the process for almost a hundred years in some instances. Yes, the make up was thick. Yes, they did over-act in a strange manner, but these people were used to stage acting in front of live audiences and Vaudeville, and old acting habits were probably difficult to overcome. If you give them a chance, you can see past the old-timey fashions and unusual activities and casual instances of appalling racism to see that these people are still people, and just like movie stars should be — most of them are quite easy on the eye. They might be older than your great-grandparents on the timeline, but if you can suspend your beliefs on matters of actual age vs movie age, or if you can even imagine yourself to be alive in those 1920s and seeing these films as they were released in the cinema — you might find it a more welcoming experience than you would have otherwise.

But I am not here to explain to you the entire history of the silent screen. No. It is Halloween time, friends. And you all love scary movies. Lucky for you, the silent films did their part in creating some of the creepiest imagery of all time. There is a lack of bared bosoms and painfully realistic gore, but they did quite fine with what they DID show, and also with what they only implied. Also PS the film quality makes everything kind of spooky and horrifying on top of everything else. So stand by, Sneer Friends, while I watch a few select films one by one — most for the first time ever — and become increasingly scared because I am a wimp.

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Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was born on July 24, 1900, and was the original quintessential irrepressible flapper of the times. Her life was a tumultuous roller coaster of good times and high drama, sailing high, young and beautiful, and then crashing into an insane asylum that burned to the ground with her still inside when she was about forty seven years old.

Not only did she inspire F. Scott Fitzgerald’s entire literary career, she was also the inspiration for a video game series I have never played: the Legend of Zelda. I can only imagine that it revolves around F. Scott Linkgerald wandering around a warped and terrifying fantasyland, trying to locate the eight pieces of her sanity, which she smashed to pieces due to some prophesy or something. There are villains who also resemble F. Scott and a lot of confusing social situations involving elixirs of booze and bathtub gin.

I have drawn Princess Zelda in honor of all of this.

princess zelda by Amanda Wood

The 1920s, or “Roaring Twenties” as they were frequently known, were an exciting time to be alive, there’s no doubt about that. Common behavior was wild and loose, cultures were wildly appropriated with not a care in the world, parties raged, jazz music gained in popularity, and the established order of things from before World War I were turned upside down. Parents clutched their pearls and were continuously appalled by the girls in their short skirts with their short hairdos, and the sleazily elegant gents who appeared to live in tuxedos and awoke fresh each afternoon with pencil thin mustaches already looking precise, ready for another bender consisting of illegal bootleg liquor that was even more delicious because of the Prohibition, and rule-breaking was the order of the day for this lost generation.

But what of their cats??

Art Deco Cats

 

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Sometimes, while listening to old, obscure music, you happen upon some fine gems. Just because a tune wasn’t on the Top 40 station within the past five years doesn’t mean it’s unlistenable, whippersnappers!

However, as with all journeys, one risks running into perils involving distasteful subjects, awkward moments, or even human emotions. On the day that I discovered Baby, How Can It Be? I was not expecting to also discover a piece of recording history that would change my mood. I had gone from cheerful to unsettled in the time that it took to simply read the track titles. My good friend, Billy Holiday, was there to comfort me in my hour of confusion and slight need.

Then I drew this comic of our conversation.

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