Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Book│Toons in Toyland: The Story of Cartoon Character Merchandise

Every living American adult likely prized at least one childhood toy that featured the happy image of an animated cartoon or comic strip character. And today there is an ever-growing market for these retro collectibles accompanied by stacks of books that pose as pricing guides. Yet author and nostalgia guru Tim Hollis (Dixie Before Disney, Hi There, Boys and Girls!) is the first to examine the entire story of character licensing and merchandising from a historical view.

Toons in Toyland: The Story of 
Cartoon Character Merchandise focuses on the post-World War II circa 1946-1980, when the last baby boomers were in high school. During those years, the mass merchandising of cartoon characters peaked. However, the concept of licensing cartoon characters for toys, trinkets, and other merchandise dates back to the very first newspaper comics character, the Yellow Kid, who debuted in 1896 and was soon appearing on a variety of items.

Eventually, cartoon producers and comic strip artists counted on merchandising as a major part of their revenue stream. It still plays a tremendous role in the success of the Walt Disney Company and many others today.

Individual chapters in the book examine storybooks (such as Little Golden Books), comic books, records, board games, jigsaw puzzles, optical toys (including View-Master and Kenner’s Give-a-Show Projector), and holiday merchandise (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and birthday partyware).

Extending even beyond toys, we see how characters were licensed for food products – remember the Peanuts characters plugging bread and Dolly Madison snacks? – and even the world of roadside Americana, with attractions, amusement parks, and restaurants all hoping to lure tourists off the highways with a bit of cartoon magic.

Toons in Toyland is now available from UPM.

TIM HOLLIS has published twenty-four books on pop culture history. For more than thirty years he has maintained a museum of cartoon-related merchandise in Dora, Alabama. He is the author of Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun; Florida's Miracle Strip: From Redneck Riviera to Emerald Coast; Hi There, Boys and Girls! America's Local Children's TV Programs; Ain't That a Knee-Slapper: Rural Comedy in the Twentieth Century; and, with Greg Ehrbar, Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records, all published by University Press of Mississippi.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Work at UPM this Summer

UPM is looking for a summer intern to fill a position generously supported by the Richard and Selby McRae Foundation.

The McRae Publishing Internship offers a singular educational opportunity to young men and women interested in book publishing to start their careers as interns and gain valuable practical knowledge about the publishing industry. Interns will learn about publishing while providing assistance to and working under the supervision of the Press’s full-time staff in a variety of tasks. 

Previous interns have gone on to jobs in publishing or related fields or continued their education by attending university-affiliated publishing programs. 

The position requires a minimum of 25 hours per week with a preference for more hours if possible. The monthly stipend will vary based on the amount of time worked. The application deadline is April 10.

This position will involve assisting in a variety of tasks, including:
  • proofreading book descriptions, captions, and indexes 
  • preparing letters, reports, and checklists 
  • checking permissions 
  • Maintaining the press’s reviewer database, marketing mailing list, and e-mail contacts 
  • Performing clerical duties such as filing and copying
  • Scanning books for electronic conversion
  • Checking the quality of e-book editions
  • Maintaining an electronic rights database
  • Assisting in the dissemination of information to the press’s electronic partners 

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Editorial Assistant Katie Keene at on or before April 10.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Book Roundup

UPM is pleased to publish 7 new books this month including new editions in our Conversations with Filmmakers Series, Conversations with Great Comics Artists Series and Television Conversation Series. 

Our March releases, listed below, are now available

Black examines the ways the US government's rhetoric and American Indian responses contributed to the policies of Native-US relations throughout the nineteenth century's removal and allotment eras. This book demonstrates how American Indians decolonized dominant rhetoric through impeding removal and allotment policies

A literary exploration of the surprising similarities between the US South and Franco's Spain. Kennedy explores this paradox not simply to compare two apparently similar cultures but to reveal how we construct difference around this self/other dichotomy. Writers discussed here include William Faulkner, Camilo José Cela, Walker Percy, Eudora Welty, Federico García Lorca, and 
Ralph Ellison.

D. A. Pennebaker: Interviews Edited by Keith Beattie and Trent Griffiths

A collection of interviews with the documentary filmmaker who has explored the world of politics, celebrity culture, and the music industry.

George Whitefield (1714-1770) is widely regarded as a founding father of American evangelicalism. But Jessica M. Parr argues he was much more than that. Here she offers new insights into revivalism, print culture, transatlantic cultural influences, and the relationship between religious thought and slavery. Whitefield became a religious icon shaped in the complexities of revivalism, the contest over religious toleration, and the conflicting role of Christianity for enslaved people

Peter Bagge: Conversations Edited by Kent Worcester

This collection of interviews offers a perfect means to track how Bagge describes his career choices, work habits, preoccupations, and comedic sensibility since the 1980s. Featuring a new interview and much previously unavailable material, this book delivers insightful, occasionally gossipy, sometimes funny, and often tart conversations.

The latest from nostalgia guru Tim Hollis, this book examines the history 
cartoon character merchandising. Hollis looks at storybooks (such as Little Golden Books), comic books, records, board games, jigsaw puzzles, optical toys (including View-Master and Kenner's Give-a-Show Projector), and holiday paraphernalia. Extending even beyond toys, food companies licensed characters galore--remember the Peanuts characters plugging bread and Dolly Madison snacks? And roadside attractions, amusement parks, campgrounds, and restaurants--think Yogi Bear and Jellystone Park Campgrounds--all bought a bit of cartoon magic to lure the green waves of tourists' dollars.

Features original interviews with the writers, creators, and producers of today's most frightening and fascinating shows.Fahy has compiled 13 thought-provoking, never-before- published interviews with writers from such shows as Hannibal, True Blood, American Horror Story, Dexter and many others. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Q&A with Victor Svorinich

Listen to This: Miles Davis and Bitches Brew is the first book exclusively dedicated to Davis’s landmark 1969 album. Ultimately, Bitches Brew not only achieved great critical and commercial success within the jazz community, but it broke through to the masses, attaining platinum status, a Grammy, and worldwide acclaim. Author Victor Svorinich traces the albums incarnations and inspirations for ten-plus years before its release.

Listen to This is not just the story of Bitches Brew. It reveals much of the legend of Miles Davis—his attitude and will, his grace under pressure, his bands, his relationship to the masses, his business and personal etiquette, and his response to extraordinary social conditions seemingly aligned to bring him down.

Svorinich revisits the mystery and skepticism surrounding the album, and places it into both a historical and musical context using new interviews, original analysis, recently found recordings, unearthed session data sheets, memoranda, letters, musical transcriptions, scores, and a wealth of other material.

Below, we talk to the author about the influence the album had on him, the controversy surrounding it's release, and what he learned during his research. 

What was it about Bitches Brew that convinced you the record would be a good subject for a book?

It’s quite an interesting story. Miles Davis was such a cool, enigmatic figure, but in the late 60s, rock music was at its zenith and Davis’s sales were plummeting. So Miles had to reinvent himself to stay on top; and he did it by putting out a double album of dense, abstract, long, instrumental tracks. It seems hardly salable, but it was an enormous success nonetheless.

How long have you been working on Listen to This?

Off and on, I’d say a good fifteen years. It started as a Master’s thesis, and then a Doctoral dissertation, but my focus was only on the development of this music back then. I thought by listening and analyzing the music carefully, I would get a better understanding of the album and of Miles himself, which I feel he would have thought to be the best way to get to know him and his music. 

So I started listening and transcribing his every move on the record. Rehearsing and performing with groups over the years was equally beneficial. Every week, my friends and I would construct jam sessions inspired by 70s Miles music. We would study the vamps, melodies, and simply jam off of them along with original concepts for hours. Being musically involved in some way helped me absorb the material and allowed me to carry on with putting the book together. 

Miles Davis by Herb Snitzer

Why do you think there was so much controversy surrounding Bitches Brew?

Mostly because his older fans who grew up with his acoustic music felt that he turned his back to them. By incorporating elements such as rock beats and electric instruments, certain listeners felt that his music became watered down, and that he was only doing it for the money. However, this music was very complex in different ways than his previous work, and certainly more abstract. It was more in line with the youth generation of the 60s, and as we discovered, the later generations who flocked to it over the past forty-five years. Similar to artists such as Prince or Madonna, who are constantly experimenting and reshaping their respected musical landscapes, Miles was hard to keep up with. 

Were there things you learned about Davis that surprised you? What preconception about him changed the most in the course of writing the book?

One of the misconceptions of the album was that Columbia Records had a heavy hand in its development, but that was certainly not the case. Miles was very hands on throughout the process and called the shots both in the studio and in post-production. He was a perfectionist, and very meticulous when it came to his work.

I also discovered that behind the tough, unapproachable persona, Miles was actually a very kind and sensitive man. He would keep strong connections with his friends and band mates for many years. When he wasn’t under the influence of any controlled substances, he was very tender with the women in his life. I got a lot of this by talking with the photographers who shot Miles at the time. They found him to be shy, but also open and genuine, and really a regular guy. Miles treated them with respect and generosity. I guess you just had to understand him and know how to approach him. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

An Examination of Mississippi Freedom Schools

The Mississippi Freedom Schools changed lives. They opened doors for students and created exciting new possibilities for thousands of young black Mississippians who attended them during the summer of 1964. A largely unknown aspect of the Freedom Summer Movement, Mississippi Freedom Schools were a series of voluntary schools conducted across the state during Freedom Summer.

Still racially segregated a decade after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, Mississippi’s black and white public schools were extremely unequal. To help remedy the tragic educational disparities and develop a new generation of activists, Freedom Schools were organized by civil rights activists and designed to empower black Mississippi youths by supplementing their substandard public school educational opportunities with rigorous content and culturally relevant instruction.

And out of the Freedom School movement grew a radical print culture as more than a dozen schools gave students the independence to write, edit, print, and publish their own newspapers. The experiences and voices of those hopeful Mississippi Freedom School students are captured in To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools. This book collects hundreds of writings published by Freedom School students that include articles, essays, poems, and testimonies all written by Freedom School students.

Now fifty years after Freedom Summer, To Write in the Light of Freedom offers a glimpse into the hearts of the African American youths who attended the Mississippi Freedom Schools. One of the most successful initiatives of Freedom Summer, more than forty Freedom Schools opened doors to thousands of young African American students. Here they learned civics, politics, and history, curricula that helped them see beyond the degrading lessons supporting segregation and Jim Crow and sanctioned by White Citizen's Councils.

The schools gave young people an enhanced self-esteem and gained and afforded them new outlook on the future. For more than five decades, the Mississippi Freedom Schools have served as powerful models of educational activism. And yet, little has been published that documents black Mississippi youths' responses to this profound experience.

Editors William Sturkey and Jon N. Hale have collected here for the first time the sincere words, thoughts, and dreams of the original students are published here in a powerful documentary collection. The book also contains several black and white photographs of the schools and students.

The book gives readers a unique insight into the intellectual responses of everyday Movement participants. On display here are raw, honest reactions to Freedom Schools, to the civil rights movement, and to life under Jim Crow. Together, these transcribed newspaper pieces recover the inspiring voices of Freedom School students, and offer a unique vision of how everyday youth responded to the clarion call of the civil rights movement.

The video below catches up with one Freedom School teacher and shares her experience. Although, not connected with our book in any way, this is a great exploration of the subject matter.

How Freedom Schools Changed Mississippi from Mike Fritz on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

USS Jackson Book Drive

The USS Jackson, which is set to be commissioned in July, is in need of books for the on-ship library. UPM is joining together with Lemuria Bookstore, The Clarion-Ledger, and St. Paul Catholic Church’s Armed Forces Ministry to sponsor a book drive.  

We are asking people to donate Mississippi-themed books, books by Mississippi authors, and/or books that will comfort, enrich, and inspire sailors on board the USS Jackson. These can even be hardback books right off your shelves at home; when you are spring cleaning, think of what books you have that might be appropriate.

The commander of the USS Jackson expressed to John Evans, owner of Lemuria, that he is convinced that the quality of life for sailors on board our Navy's vessels is made infinitely better when the vessel has a real library.

This is the first ship named after the Capital City of Mississippi. The ship’s construction began in August 2011 with the first cut of aluminum. She was launched in December 2013, christened in March 2014 and is scheduled to be commissioned at Gulfport, Mississippi in 2015. The Navy League of the United States Mississippi Council is proud to have formed a volunteer commissioning committee in order to celebrate the commissioning of the USS Jackson.

Drop off points for the book drive are Lemuria Bookstore in Banner Hall and the Madison County Herald, located at 794 U.S. 51, Madison. 

To get the ball rolling, UPM will be donating several books, including these six titles below that we think will be of special interest to the sailors on the USS Jackson

Tracks By Donald C. Jackson

Wilder Ways By Donald C. Jackson and Illustrated by Robert T. Jackson

German Boy: A Refugee’s Story By Wolfgang W. E. Samuel

Americans at War By Stephen Ambrose

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mississippi-born Photographer Oraien Catledge Has Passed Away

We are saddened to learn that UPM author and photographer Oraien E. Catledge of Atlanta died last week from complications related to congestive heart failure. He was 86.

Catledge was born in Sumner, Mississippi, in 1928, and came to his photographer’s vocation near the end of a long career as a social worker in the state of Mississippi, and as an advocate for the blind throughout the South.

In spite of his visual impairment Catledge began photographing the people of Cabbagetown, an Atlanta suburb, in 1980, around the time when the century-old Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill there closed. He became known to the people of Cabbagetown as the “Picture Man.”

In 2010 UPM was pleased to publish Oraien Catledge: Photographs, a celebration of a life's work in fine art photography. This collection included 70 black and white photographs many taken from his work in Cabbagetown. The publication of the book coincided with an exhibit of Catledge’s work at the Mississippi Museum of Art. The book was also honored in 2011 by the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters as the best photography work of the year.
Catledge in 2011

Although principally a photographer of people, Catledge’s sensuous, fastidious black and white work documents the landscapes and cityscapes of Mississippi and New Orleans, as well as imagining and recording the insular, working-class lives of the Cabbagetown neighborhood in center-city Atlanta -- the signal achievement upon which his considerable reputation rests.

As novelist Richard Ford states in his introduction to Photographs, Catledge’s remarkable photographs insist on the world as a movingly shared place. They seize their subjects with a palpable and seemingly inexhaustible relish, “as if the photographer has found each subject’s…face, expression, physical attitude and posture [so] full of dense complexity….” that the choice to make the photograph became an intoxicating one.

Below are some images from Photographs


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