Archive for March, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
In today’s twin-themed installment of Women’s History Month and Pre-Yellow Kid “Talking” Comic Strips (multi-panel sequential comics conveyed via pictures combined with in-panel dialogue), we present Part 1 (of 6), of artist Robert Seymour’s March 1st, 1830 comic graphic novelette, The Heiress.
Consisting of six over-sized plates/pages, each containing five+ cartoons, The Heiress at first glance appears to be yet another “comic scrapbook”-style collection of random single panel images, which were particularly popular in the 1820′s thru 1840′s. Close examination, though, shows The Heiress to be a bit more. Seymour here is experimenting with the form. Rather than random cartoons, the cartoons follow the same set of characters through a sequence of events, moving forward in time, and telling a long, multi-pane, multi-page narrative, running the length of Seymour’s album-sized booklet. Moreover, the entire story is told via in-panel word balloons integrated with cartoon pictures — precisely the combination which numerous comics historians once claimed did not appear until its use in 1896, in the Yellow Kid comic series — sixty-six years after The Heiress!.
Click on the above & below pictures, to open larger versions.
It takes a little work to figure out how to read The Heiress — keep in mind that in 1830, Robert Seymour had few prior examples of how to lay out a multi-page graphic narrative. (The first French language Rodolphe Toepffer graphic novels had been published at this point, but they weren’t yet widely distributed, and we’ve no evidence Seymour had seen them). So, Seymour’s solution (bumpy as it is) was to layout the pages like those of a standard cartoon scrapbook, and let the readers figure it out.
The order in which the panels are read goes: top-left corner, top-right corner, large central image, bottom-left corner, then bottom-right corner. I’ve presented the entire plate/page 1 above, but for ease of modern readers, below, I’ve created close-ups of each panel, in their proper reading sequence. One additional antiquated peculiarity to keep in mind — what looks like an “f”, in the 1830′s could be read as an “s”. For example, “Mifs” should be read as “Miss”.
Below, in the opening panel, we’re introduced to the (not-yet) Heiress (crying in the background), evidently living with her Aunt & Uncle Crosstich. Her Aunt, at least, apparently has a low opinon of her.
Panel Two, we find her being hit upon by the lowly Tom the Apprentice.
Panel Three, a lawyer arrives at the door, announcing that she has inherited a fortune from a grandfather from India.
Panel Four, Tom, listening behind the door, has his hopes dashed, as it is apparent the (now) Heiress won’t need to settle for him.
Panel Five, the young Heiress leaves her Aunt & Uncle, who now try to cozy up to her, while Tom in the background continues his despair.
Next week, another installment of Pre-YK Talkies. Unfortunately, not yet Page Two of The Heiress, as I’m still operating under the limitation of my stuff boxed up from/for a cross-state move that has been dragging on for months, awaiting a break in this winter’s weather. (This is being resolved today — I’m on the highway as you read this, driving a U-Haul, to consolidate the material I use for this blog, into one accessible location). The Pre-YK Talkies series is utilizing material I scanned years ago.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Like myself, Pappy has an unnatural love for later Blackhawk stories and today he shares a 1951 Quality effort credited to Bill Ward and an unknown heavy handed inker we both believe to be Chuck Cuidera.
Here’s Nick Cuti and Gray Morrow with a Space 1999 adventure from the late seventies that is. like most, actually better than the somewhat stodgy TV series itself.
Speaking of Gray Morrow, if you like his unique, illustrative comics style, check out the Web’s one and only Gray Morrow tribute blog, Shades of Gray. You’re welcome.
Finally today, it’ll take you a while but here’s a ton of dailies and Sundays of Will-Yum, a cute fifties comic strip you’ve probably never heard of but will enjoy much.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I’ve said before I wasn’t a big fan of Frank Robbins’ comic book work but his highly stylized Batman stories–and here’s one from 1971– are starting to grow on me from all of their recent Net exposure.
I do love the MLJ heroes of the forties and one of my faves is the Fox whose debut, illustrated by Irwin Hasen, presents him in perhaps the goofiest superhero costume of them all.
Gorilla Daze has a brief feature on the rarely seen 1967 British Annual, Superadventure, complete with a wonderfully mismatched and mis-colored group of DC characters.
Finally, Pappy delivers a 1948 comic book tale of the Salem Witch Trials by one Maurice del Bourgo, one of many now-forgotten artists who once made their living in comics.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
From the Department of Misinformation here at I.T.C.H. headquarters comes one of the strangest comic book origin stories ever told. In keeping with Internet protocol and common netiquette we will not cite any sources for these would-be facts.
It all starts with The Andy Griffith Show and a lovable mechanic named Gomer Pyle. Gomer was such a popular character they soon replaced him with his cousin Goober who went on to invent chocolate-covered peanuts, a sister to Raisinets.
Now out of work, Gomer finally joined the U.S. Marines but instead of serving in Viet Nam he got his own TV show called Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. It was never revealed what those initials stood for.
On the show, Gomer never reached a rank higher than private. How ironic that he should inspire a captain!
Gomer’s popular catchphrase was originally going to be “huzzah!” but there was already a Hanna-Barbera character on Go-Go Gophers who used that expression. So the writers invented the nonsense word “shazam” and it caught on like gangbusters! Soon it spread like wildflowers, as kids in schoolyards and on college campuses started saying “shazam!” during dodge ball and draft dodging, respectively.
“Shazam” and Gomer Pyle were inextricably linked. You couldn’t think of Gomer without thinking “shazam” and you couldn’t say “shazam” without thinking of Gomer. The show spawned all sorts of spin-offs like trading cards, flicker rings, record albums, and yes, comic books!
This did not go unnoticed by the powers that be at DC Comics. And when I say “powers” I don’t mean super powers, just regular powers. Like the ability to steal a catchphrase and get away with it!
The year was 1973 and DC was looking for a hit. They already had Superman, Batman and Spider-Man but they wanted something new. Especially a character that wasn’t something-man. Somebody suggested Captain America but he had already been created 32 years earlier. But “captain” made them think of the navy and that made them think of the marines. It wasn’t long before one of the big shots at DC thought of Gomer Pyle and his exclamation of “shazam.” A comic character was born!
A new super-dude wearing red tights and a cape, shouting “Shazam!” soon found its way to newsstands. If you could locate an original copy of this comic book it would be worth millions today.
Although the comic was called Shazam!, the character was known as Captain Marvel, a name they stole from Marvel Comics. This wasn’t the only unoriginal idea. They even drew Captain Marvel to resemble Gomer Pyle!
Most ironic of all, DC had the audacity to refer to this character with the stolen name and stolen catchphrase as The Original Captain Marvel. What’s original about it?
Of course, the first issue of Shazam! went down in history as the first comic book to be inspired by a sit-com catchphrase. (It wasn’t until years later that Charlton published Eat My Shorts Comics.)
To commemorate this historical event we have a song called — what else? — “Shazam.” Written to celebrate the 1,000th issue of the Shazam! comic book, it’s by Bert “Wheels” Weedon who was also known as The Fifth Beatle because he briefly replaced Ringo on guitar when the fab mop-top was sidelined with a broken leg after a motorcycle accident.
To hear this classic comics tune simply click the link below.
Shazam – Bert Weedon
— DJ David B.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
It’s one of those untrue truisms that British comics didn’t do American style superheroes. There are too many of them to list here, but off the top of my head there was the Phantom Viking, an Ichabod Crane type schoolteacher who became a Thor like flying hero whenever he donned the helmet of his ancient ancestor (and lost them “whenever the wind blew against him” which is by far a lamer weakness than the Martian Manhunter’s aversion to fire)…
Billy the Cat, a perfectly ordinary schoolboy who donned a costume to fight crime by night…
And The Leopard From Lime St., essentially a British version of Spider-Man where a troubled teen gained incredible cat like powers and fought mostly conventional criminals.
But these are the exceptions that proved the rule. The pages of these story papers were stuffed to overflowing with fantastic characters and situations, people who possessed unique talents, weird gadgets or magical objects. They even used their gifts unselfishly to fight evil just because it was the right thing to do, but they almost never put on skintight outfits to become masked vigilantes with distinctive street names.
And when British Comics did try to do American style superheroes you got things like the original version of Captain Britain, a mash-up of Spider-Man and Captain America that just happened to be set in England.
Johnny Future began his strange, tortured career in the pages of Fantastic, a weekly that reprinted early Marvel comics in black and white. He was originally The Missing Link, an obvious Hulk knock off.
However exposure from a sabotaged nuclear reactor evolved him into the mental and physical superman of the future and he promptly dubbed himself Johnny Future.
He proceeded to act like a pretty conventional superhero, gaining a costume that seemed more a spaceman than superhero (and also strangely reminiscent of Kyle Baker’s character Al Space) and a secret identity. Beautifully drawn by Louis Berjemo, future’s adventures were a bit oddball; he may have fought the usual compliment of super villains and mad geniuses but all in all, the series was a better marriage of American concepts and standard British story paper storytelling.
From Fantastic Annual 1969 in full color, here’s Johnny Future.
Bonus: It’s entirely nobody else but me will care but recently the U.K.’s Dez Skinn wrote the following feature for the second issue of the British publication Comic Heroes Magazine about his attempt to sell a completely different Captain Britain:
And from Dez Skin”s own website I present from 1973 his unpublished mock-up of the first (and last) adventure of his Captain Britain:
— Steve Bennett
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Silver Age Comics discovers and peruses Charlton and the late Jon D’Agostino’s dark-haired Archie homage/rip-off/clone from the 1950′s and ’60′s, Freddy!
Here’s another general link, this one to Mike Sterling’s Progessive Ruin, a fine blog with a number of recent posts discussing the various double-entendres associated with Marvel’s Man-Thing.
It’s anniversary time at Blog Into Mystery and the celebration features as special guest Marvel’s long-haired soon-to-be movie star, the Mighty Thor, God of Thunder.
Finally today, Magic Carpet Burn describes this Avon Space Mouse tale as being “the weirdest ‘funny animal’ story I’ve ever read and I can certainly see why.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I still have this one! Here’s the famous Flintstones Little Golden Book that preceded the series and features only Fred, Wilma, their pet dino Harvey…and Fred Junior!!
Speaking of cavemen, this is not a direct link but a general one as Thom Buchanan has just simply gone crazy lately with Alley Oop sundays and you really should see them all!
From Fight Comics, here’s Tiger Girl, one of dozens of comic book white jungle queens, this one distinguished by now-classic Good Girl Art from Matt Baker.
Finally today, over at my place, here’s Archie mainstay Stan Goldberg (artist on the new FF # 1 cover variant!) with a somewhat naughty tale of groupies that seems to take place elsewhere in Archie’s world.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
One of my favorite periods for the artwork of the great Alex Toth is the early seventies so I’m happy to see this 1972 collaboration with Sugar & Spike’s Sheldon Mayer.
Not too long after the cancellation of Not Brand Echh, Marvel introduced Spoof, a similar Mad-style parody comic, in this example with Steve Gerber lampooning TV’s Partridge Family.
Here at the Comic Book Attic we find Part One of a nice in-depth piece on Dick Briefer, subject also, of course, of one of Craig’s recent volumes (available for order on this very page!).
Finally today, here’s an examination of the comics career of Josie & the Pussycats’ Valerie, up to and including her recent fling with Archie himself in what was one o2010′s best comics stories (by Dan Parent).
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Returning to both the themes of Women’s History Month, and Pre-YK “Talking” Comic Strips (sequential cartoons wherein the story is conveyed via pictures combined with in-panel dialogue, published prior to the supposed “invention” of same format in the October 25th, 1896 episode of The Yellow Kid), we have a few cartoon advertising strips, each aimed at women, pertaining those areas that 19th century America regarded as Woman’s Domain.
Above, we have a late 1870s/early 1880s ad for “Domestic” Sewing Machines (“Domestic” was a brand). Although single panel, the left and right halves could easily be broken into two panels, with the dialogue being voiced by Cupid (speaking into the telephone), clearly coming in reaction to the words spoken by the woman at left. Having received a proposal of marriage, the woman answers, “Yes, on condition that you buy me a Domestic with new woodwork and attachments.” In response, Cupid gets on the telephone (already in use in the 1870s), and immediately orders one.
The telephone’s distinguishing attribute — shared in the 19th century with parrots and phonographs — was as a non-human from which words could emerge. This prompted cartoonists to visually depict that uniqueness by placing such dialogue in-panel with a greater frequency than otherwise — the more normal practice of the day of placing text & dialogue beneath each comics panel, just not cutting it when dealing with a parrot or a talking machine.
Click on the pictures above & below, to see larger versions.
Below, from an 1884/85 trade card, an ad for J. & P. Coats’ Spool Cotton, clearly broken into before-and-after panels, with what is happening conveyed via the two characters’ in-panel dialogue.
Next, another example of before-and-after sequential panels, with the message told via word balloons. From the rear of an 1868 advertising flyer/4-page pamphlet, for White Wire Lines (clothes lines).
Next, for Cooley’s Cork Corset, a circa 1870s/1880s “metamorphic” trade card wherein the before-and-after panels are achieved by folding down part of the card to reveal a second image (a folding-image trick utilized years later on the rear covers of MAD Magazine). (To read the woman’s dialogue in the second image, you’ll need to click on the picture to make it larger.)
Finally, an incredibly racist circa 1880s/early 1890s ad for Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (one of several in this vein that they did). The three panels result from a tri-fold metamorphic card. As with the others above, this is being shown as an example of pre-YK multi-panel sequential comics, told via in-panel dialogue.
Next week, continuing Women’s History Month and Pre-YK Talkies, we’ll show Part One of a very early Pre-YK sequential comic novelette, told entirely via word balloons.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Hey! Whaddaya know! It’s a return to Wacky Wonder Woman Wednesdays! Seen above and at the link below is “Wonder Woman, Amazon Babysitter,” a Golden Age tale in which, in spite of apperances, Diana does not sit for Devil Dinosaur!
Here’s a look at Charlton’s version of Marvel’s Mighty Thor–the mythologically inspired sixties superhero series, Son of Vulcan created by Joe Gill.
Gone and Forgotten continues a look at Neal Adams’ Continuity Comics line of the 1980′s in which the comics god consistently presented some of the most painfully overwrought comics of all time.
Finally today, for a few moments of total zen silliness, check out Jacque’s Sequential Crush piece on squirrels in romance comic book stories through the years.
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