I wrote a post recently about another cursed sketchbook that I bought back in the ’80s. I called this particular book The Son of Sketchbook from Hell. It was a hardbound, squarish book that resisted all efforts of committing something resembling art on it’s pages. I must have thrown it in the back of a closet years ago and forgot all about it. I discovered it recently and decided to try to redeem it’s last few pages with something halfway decent. It continued resisting me until I took it to the YMCA where my son swims and scribbled this down.I’ve been listening to Pat Novak for Hire, an old time radio program starring Jack Webb before he made it big in Dragnet. Webb plays Novak the world weary narrator/troubleshooter/protagonist who gets into all sorts of scrapes in the hellhole that was San Francisco in the 1940s. He delivers his lines in a delirious, tough guy patter that’s every dime store detective novel boiled down and concentrated. It’s like James Ellroy if he lost his mind, and I can’t resist it. I’m not sure how much Webb was involved creatively with this program, but I suspect it was probably a low budget show, and everybody had to pitch in. My guess is Webb was responsible for at least some of that rat-a-tat dialog making him a genius! I LOVE this stuff!
One of Pat Novak’s friends, partner in fighting crime and Baker Street Irregular of sorts is hopeless alcoholic Jocko Madigan. Novak describes him as such:
He’s a good guy who never learned that if you keep your foot on a bar rail for twenty years, it will do more good for your arches than it will do for your brain!
Jocko is the comic relief of the program and is used in every program for what he hears in San Francisco’s dive bars or what’s left of his booze-soaked but still brilliant mind. He usually supplies the crucial puzzle piece or piece of information that pulls Novak out of a jam or keeps him out of the slammer.
Jocko Madigan was played by Welsh born character actor Tudor Owen. I looked him up and was struck by the photos of him. He looked like one of the more colorful members of the coven from Rosemary’s Baby. He stuck in my mind and rolled off of my pencil. It’s not really a caricature, but sort of an impression of how I remembered the sinister eyebrows and devilish grin.
If you’re interested in listening to Pat Novak for Hire, you can stream it or download the programs at The Internet Archive. They are free and an absolute hoot!