Archive for July, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I’ve already devoted one of these things to an obscure toy comic (Big Jim’s P.A.C.K.) but S.L.A.M. Force is really obscure, as in there’s almost no information about it online. As far as I can tell this mini-comic from 2000 was included in the packaging of an action figure line (at least there’s copy on the box reading “Mini comic book included!”) based on WCW (World Championship Wrestling) wrestlers.
S.L.A.M. was an acronym for Secret Legion Against Monsters, a anti-supernatural evil organization staffed entirely by professional wrestlers, each with their own SF/fantasy accessory. Like, Chris Benoit had Wolverine type hand spikes, Goldberg lightning power gloves, Kevin Nash a rocket war hammer and Sting a flaming magical sword. But poor Bret Hart got totally gypped; he only got a bow and arrow set.
In spite of the fact I’m not entirely ignorant when it comes to professional wrestling I’ve got to confess when first picked this one up I didn’t automatically connect it to the WCW (in spite of it’s big logo appearing on the cover) and had no idea that it had been a toy line. When I casually leafed through it I just somehow automatically assumed it was a Marvel UK comic from the 90′s that I hard never heard of. Not just because it’s totally lame, though it absolutely is, but because it’s that very special level of 90′s lame that only Marvel UK comics could reach.
It’s a pity the missing link did not survive the adventure as he would have made a fine addition to the team/WCW wrestler. His special SF/fantasy accessory; an Adamantium folding chair!
As you can see the action figures from Toy Biz actually came out (I’ve even found some for sale on eBay)…
…but though this subscription offer appeared in the comic as far as I can tell the actual series never got off the ground.
— Steve Bennett
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Let’s start the day with an interesting retro-debate over the controversial Spider-Woman # 1 from seventies Marvel, a book and character I myself despised then and now.
The Dave Karlen Original Art Blog is a fun place to peruse and find comic strips, comic book pages, commissions, paintings and sketches by many American and European artists.
Arguably one of the worst-written superhero stories of the Silver Age, here’s Supergirl teaming with Wonder Woman in a memorably bad Brave & the Bold issue.
Finally today, it’s time for some good, old-fashioned Golden Age heroics with a 1941 appearance of The Flame from Wonderworld Comics.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Let’s start today with Silver Age Comics‘ look back at Robert Kanigher’s mid-sixties experiment at taking Wonder Woman back to her Golden Age roots both in art style and writing.
Here we have one of the great treasures of 1966, the full run of Batman trading cards, mostly painted by Norm Saunders. Well, it’s the fronts only but those are the best part!
Very much pertinent to comics history was this week’s ruling against the jack Kirby estate in their suit against Marvel. Love it or loathe it, here’s the full verdict, along with commentary.
Finally today, veteran commentator RC Harvey on John Goldwater, the Comics Code, who really created Archie and…what th…!!? The whole thing turns into a nice back door review of Yoe Books’ Archie volume, orderable here on this very page!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Because absolutely nobody demanded it but me, here’s another Robot Archie adventure, this one featuring several pages in color.
— Steve Bennett
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Our friends at Diversions of the Groovy Kind celebrate their third anniversary with some Moench/Ploog Planet of the Apes goodness and history from Marvel in the seventies.
Always nice to revisit comics when they made no sense at all but really were fun! Here’s the Myron Fass Captain Marvel, he whose magic words are “Split!” and “Xam!”
Comics fandom legend Mike Vosburg looks back on the fanzine, The Masquerader from the 1960′s with lots of art and memories.
Finally today, MLJ had some of the neatest costumed heroes ’til Archie scared ‘em away. Here’s Irwin Hasen drawing the Fox!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Just a quickie this week, as we continue our chronological march towards to the first full-fledged Professor Tigwissel adventure (next week!)
Above, a close-up from the bottom right corner of a full-page of cartoons by artist Livingston Hopkins, which appeared on the front of the February 22nd, 1875 issue of the (New York) Daily Graphic. Here, Hopkins joins the long list of comic artists who have parodied themselves.
Of note, is that while the “Professor” shown having difficulty locating Hopkins’ brain, does not resemble Hopkins’ recurring Professor Tigwissel character, he does resemble the “Mr. Tigwissel” who got hit in the head with a potted plant while viewing a comet, seen in last week’s entry of Tigwissel Tuesdays — this time given the appelation “Professor”.
Perhaps just mere coincidence. Or, perhaps, Hopkins’ subconscious working towards eventually merging the name Tigwissel with the visual image of a scientific egghead, that he’d previously used for Professor Simple… ?
ProfTigwissel NYDailyGraphic Phrenology
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
So…anything big happen in the comics or political world this past weekend whilst I was sleeping in? Let’s see what cool things we can find on the ‘Net.
Well, from the Bicentennial Year of 1976 comes this piece from the underground comic, Give Me Liberty, credited to the great Gilbert Shelton and and all-star cast.
While we’re underground, here’s a heaping helping –albeit slightly censored–of Slow Death, with art from Corben, Holmes, Irons, Jaxon and more.
Back above ground, Silver Age Comics takes a 5oth Anniversary look at what has to be a candidate for the most important comic book of the sixties, the classic Flash of Two Worlds story.
Finally today, here’s some “nize” Milt Gross to supplement your reading of Craig’s Milt Gross collection…which can be ordered on this page if you haven’t yet picked it up!
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
It’s hard to definitively say which Golden Age patriotic superhero had the goofiest name. Probably because the competition for the title was something fierce. I’m sure there are a lot more out there but after only a two minute Internet search I was able to find Star Spangled Kid, U.S. Jones, The Spirit of ’76, The Fighting Yank, Red, White and Blue and Minute-Man. Former plain clothes adventurer Tex Thompson deserves special mention because when he took up the mask he got not one but two, Mr. America and the even worse The Americommando.
But if I am absolutely forced to choose just one it would undoubtedly have to be Yankee Doodle Jones from Yankee Comics. Name-wise the only one who had it worse than him was his kid partner, Dandy. That’s right, Yankee Doodle and Dandy. We can only imagine the ribbing poor Dandy must have gotten from the rest of the Golden, Whiz, Amazing, Super-Boy Detectives.
But Yankee Doodle Jones also had the weirdest and most disturbing origin in Golden Age history. The Whizzer and the mongoose blood? In comparison that was nothing. Let’s take a look at “The Case of the Strangling Hair” drawn by the legendary Lou Fine.
Here’s a confession, maybe I’m slower on the uptake (I originally wrote “on the update” so clearly that’s confirmed) than I previously thought but even after reading that page a couple of times I somehow didn’t get the full implications of what the unnamed scientist was doing. Let’s take another look at the first three panels:
There’s always been a wafer thin line between the mad scientist and the super scientist but here that line disappears entirely. Supposedly out of patriotism and a belief their lives had no value a trio of handicapped war veterans volunteer to (somehow) have their bodies fused together…
..creating not a Frankenstein monster but instead a blonde Aryan looking lower case superman. The creature, inexplicably named Yankee Doodle Jones, then receives from a “invincibility injection” from the scientist, giving him the strength of an army.
And in a scene that Dr. Wertham easily could have included in his book The Seduction of the Innocent the unnamed son of the scientist is then seen shooting up the remainder of the serum.
Let’s take a moment to consider Dandy. We tend to think of Golden Age boy sidekicks as exclusively being wisecracking yet desperately earnest paragons who unreservedly worshiped their costumed role models. And while that’s true for the most part the wishful fulfillment inherent in the characters went way beyond beating the crap out of adults and skipping school. By the standards of the 1940′s kid sidekicks routinely got away with murder; in this one panel alone Dandy talks back to an elder and demonstrates disrespect, laziness and gluttony. The 1940′s were a more innocent age in at least one way; unlike today kids back then did not have unlimited on-demand access to chocolate cake. Though clearly the dream of it burned brightly within them.
And in spite of his science fiction/horror origins Yankee Doodle and Dandy received their marching orders directly from Uncle Sam himself!
— Steve Bennett
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Now that I’ve begun a series of articles intended to reveal all (that I’ve found) appearances of Livingston Hopkins’ recurring comic strip character, Professor Tigwissel (plus Hopkins’ Tigwissel-prototypes), it’s time to resume another Super I.T.C.H. series, Pre-YK Talkies.
One major reason I’ve been offended by the insistence in published books & articles, that the comic strip was invented with the October 25th, 1896 New York Journal appearance of the cartoon story, “The Yellow Kid and His New Phonograph”, by Richard Felton Outcault, is that this inaccurate claim has carried with it the implication that few, if any, sequential comics existed prior to that date. Further, this claim has been was so widely and strongly accepted, that many Comics History “scholars” seemingly have made little effort to verify it — spending most of their careers studying comics after the accepted 1896 “debut”. The result being that the pre-1896 works of many great comic strip artists — such as Livingston Hopkins — have been largely ignored.
Click on any picture to make it larger.
In my search for pre-October 1896 examples, I’ve noticed a pattern wherein non-human objects from which human voices could emerge, appear to have presented a dilemma for comic artists whose normal pattern was to place dialogue at the bottom of panels, rather than in the panels as part of the art. Part of the joke here involved the surprise of a human voice emerging from a non-human. This often forced artists to used to doing it, to visually depict that human voice inside the panel, with the art, so as to avoid confusion regarding from where/whom those spoken words had come from. To this end, in Victorian Age comics, one can often (though not always) find word balloons and in-panel dialogue emerging from such talking non-humans as telephones, phonographs, and parrots.
Above, and right, we see two primitive examples from advertising cards, both of them two panels, and involving a person in one panel reacting to a voice which had come from a hidden source in the other panel. The top example, from 1884, simply involves a boy talking into a metal pipe. The side example, circa 1870s/1880s, has a more complex joke involving a man reacting to what a parrot speaking through a telephone just said. The joke being that the man assumes the voice had come from a person.
Beneath, in the famous October 1896 Yellow Kid strip by Outcault, we find basically the same joke. The Yellow Kid is reacting to a voice emerging from a phonograph, assuming it to be the authoritative words of a human, only to learn in the end that the voice was that of a parrot. Note also that, until the final panel, the human Yellow Kid does not himself use word balloons, but rather “speaks” via the in-panel dialogue written across his shirt.
Following are a few more complex examples. Below, a sequential strip from the July 19th, 1890 issue of the British comic publication Scraps, depicting the evolution and replacement of man by machine (a phonograph). The use of the word balloons placed at the start and end are crucial to this strip, signalling the completion of the transformation.
Next, a five-panel sequential strip involving a parrot, and a talking dog, with all dialogue in word balloons absolutely crucial to understanding the story. The parrot initially tricks the dog into thinking that a human has called to him, with the trick at the end turned back on the parrot. By British artist James A. Shepherd, published in the periodical Boys’ Own Paper, on February 21st, 1891.
Finally (for today), a series of advertising cards published in 1877 by Louis Prang. These four individual strips are all part of the same thematic series, depicting a variety of scenarios in which people are engaged in deceptions made possible by the recently invented telephone. In each, telephone poles are used as panel borders, breaking the scenes apart and giving them a sequence, with the participants’ in-panel dialogue travelling across the telephone lines.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Yoe Books has no less than four new titles debuting at Comic-Con this weekend! Here’s a sample story from The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear starring Barney and Benny Burro.
Here’s a non 3-D tale of Joe Kubert’s Tor, one of the first characters to ever appear in 3-D in comics. To see him in 3-D, check out Yoe Books’ Amazing 3-D, yet another title debuting at San Diego!
Here’s a nice little introduction to George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. If, after this, you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things, Craig’s third book to debut this week is Krazy Kat-The Art of George Herriman.
Finally, from the final book debuting from Yoe Books at Comic-Con, here’s Wally Wood’s story from The Best of Archie’s Madhouse. Ignore the text questioning if it’s actually Woody. It is.
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