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Zapruder Frame 366

The most iconic movie in American, if not world, history was shot on November 22, 1963, with an 8-millimeter Bell & Howell camera owned and operated by the cofounder of Jennifer Juniors, a Dallas, Texas, womenswear company. The movie—which soon became known as the Zapruder film, so called after its maker—is silent and less than thirty seconds long, yet it was effectively squelched for more than a decade. Select frames from the film were published in such magazines as LifeAbraham Zapruder sold the copyright to Time Life the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the film’s subject—just as frames were published in the Warren Commission’s voluminous report on the Kennedy assassination, but, except for bootleg copies, the film itself was unavailable to the public. The Warren Commission had concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, an avowed Marxist and repatriated defector to the Soviet Union, was solely responsible for the death of Kennedy, firing three shots at the presidential limousine from the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald worked for $1.25 an hour as a stock boy. The FBI had likewise concluded that Oswald acted alone, and many assumed that Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, had established the Warren Commission precisely to corroborate the FBI’s finding and quiet talk of conspiracy. The scarcity of the Zapruder film had the opposite effect.

In conjunction with The Amazing Spider-Man’s release this week, legendary comic book writer Stan Lee speaks to Web of Stories about writing Peter Parker as a self-doubting, regular-guy hero “riddled with neuroses”:

paramount theater marquee

My love affair with movies may have begun with, though not necessarily at, the Paramount Theater in my hometown in Virginia. It’s no accident that the Paramount shared its name with a Hollywood studio; in the early days of the movies, studios owned theaters throughout the country, a practice eventually stopped because of antitrust laws. The Paramount in my hometown was built in 1931, when theaters were palaces, or anyway designed to resemble palaces, so as to treat the little people, then in the grips of the Great Depression, to a fleeting sense of grandeur. The grandeur of the Paramount had dimmed by the time I first saw a movie there forty years later, though the marquee alone, with its hundreds of blinking bulbs, thrilled me as a child whenever I glimpsed it from the backseat of my parents’ car. It made me think of the nightclub marquees I’d seen in Elvis Presley movies on T.V., quick establishing shots that cut to Elvis performing onstage for girls who, driven wild by the music, spontaneously danced on tabletops and spent the night in jail after the inevitable brawl. There were no such clubs where I grew up, as far as I knew; the Paramount was as close as I could get. From the ticket booth, just below the marquee, a long, wide corridor with a slight incline led to the concession stand and, just beyond that, the theater, and to walk the length of the corridor, ascending step by step, was to have a growing sense of anticipation. The carpeting was dark red, almost burgundy. The only light came from tiered chandeliers with dangling glass beads, and, on either wall, there were gilded-framed murals of powdered-wigged, eighteenth-century aristocrats, shades of Gainsborough. In later years, before the Paramount went out of business (it’s since been restored and reopened), tickets were sold inside at the concession stand, where, when I was child, posters of movie stars were sold: Brigitte Bardot in black leather on a chopper, Raquel Welch in the fur bikini she wore as a cavewoman in One Million Years BC. Victoria Vetri, a Playboy Playmate of the Year, likewise appeared in a fur bikini as a cavewoman in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the first movie I remember seeing at the Paramount; and Vetri, as well as Welch, stirred things in me that, as a Christian child, I wasn’t sure were right with God.

Please explain what just happened.

I just opened this Word file and started answering these questions.

What is your earliest memory?

Going to the toy store with my grandmother. We were poor so I couldn’t actually get anything, but man, I could play with the toys for hours.My granny was very patient with me.

If you weren’t a comic book artist what other profession would you choose?

If I wasn’t a comic book creator I would be a panhandler.  I don’t think I’m equipped to do anything else.

I will list some comics that I like and then write descriptions of them in the style of 9th grade AP American History definition lists.

Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown – It is about a person in his second relationship of his life with another person, a girl. The person is in his mid-20s. It shows many scenes from their relationship, not in order. In the last scene the person is happy. In the second-to-last it shows the person crying on the phone and then it shows the person crying alone sitting on his bed. I cried a little standing in the subway station when I finished reading this.