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Friday, March 31, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Desert Peach #32

by Donna Barr
Pfirsich Rommel, the Desert Fox's gay brother, has worked through his time in his own personally-constructed Hell. Now he finds himself as one of the Afterdead, in a world that serves as our world's afterlife. He is among creatures that seem to be descendants of mutated and genetically engineered constructs; they just don't talk about it. Pfirsich is horrified to discover that the Third Reich seems to be the norm!
64pgs, B&W $6.95
A Fine Line APR062824

I guess it's true what they say about DESERT PEACH issues. You wait around years for one and then two come just a month apart. Or wait, is that buses...

Anyway, this story is currently being run over on Modern Tales, if you subscribe to that site. I'm still not sold on the whole surreal direction the story is taking, but it should be worth a look.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ace reporter Jimmy Olsen

Nothing gets by Jimmy. Except monkeys stripping off his clothing.

Stuff of Interest - July 2006 - Showcase Presents The Elongated Man v1

Written by John Broome and Gardner Fox
Art by Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Murphy Anderson and Gil Kane
Cover by Infantino & Sid Greene

Don't miss this amazing Showcase volume spotlighting Ralph Dibny, collecting tales from THE FLASH #112, 115, 119, 124, 130, 134, 138, and DETECTIVE COMICS #327-371! Along with his wife Sue, Elongated Man travels the world to solve crimes, crossing paths with Batman and Robin, the Flash, Green Lantern and Zatanna!
On sale July 6 - 560 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

This one was a bit of an unexpected announcement, but a welcome one. Also good to see they're including all the guest shots the character had in FLASH before his solo back-up series started. I've enjoyed the few of the stories I've read, and look forward to reading more of them, especially the ones where Infantino inks his own work.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Usagi Yojimbo #94

by Stan Sakai

The deadly Koroshi League of Assassins is back-and its longstanding grudge against our favorite rabbit ronin is far from forgotten! This is especially true for Saiko, the swift and beautiful young murderer whose father and partners were killed by Usagi, Katsuichi-sensei, and Jotaro in the landmark issue #75. Usagi, fresh from his stay in the friendly Geishu Province, again runs afoul of Saiko by attempting to prevent her latest contract. But when he tries to protect the life of a prominent local merchant, Saiko takes the man's young daughter hostage! It's a life-and-death standoff . . . will the long-eared samurai prevail by sacrificing an innocent, or will he allow this homicidal up-and-comer to escape, free to continue carving her bloody path through feudal Japan? Find out this month, in Usagi Yojmbo!
On sale June 28, b&w, 24pg, $2.99

That's a great looking dramatic cover. This has been your monthly reminder not to take UY for granted without much more to say about it...

Green Arrow's finest moment

I'm seriously loving this book.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Behold!... The Era of the Shirt!

I know what all these words mean, but this page still makes no sense to me.

From Young Romance #162, 1969, art by Ric Estrada.

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #6

by Joe Kubert

The six-issue mini-series concludes in dramatic fashion! It's been a long, hard road, but Rock and Easy Co. have finally arrived with their precious cargo intact. Leaving the sprawling countryside behind, they must navigate the narrow, Nazi-occupied streets of Riga to deliver their "package". It's not a question of will they survive... it's a question of what happens next.
On sale June 21 - 6 of 6 - 32 pg, full colour, $2.99 US

Should Four-Eyes be concerned that six Easy regulars go on this mission, the other five of them get "Faces of Easy" portraits on the first five issues, then all of those five walk away from an iconic rifle/helmet grave marker on #6? I'm almost more worried about Four-Eyes than I am about the sacrificial cute puppy and the two new members introduced in #1, Curly and Shorty. Great cover by Kubert, probably my favourite from this series. They better include all of them in the collection.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

EC - In The Bag (Krigstein)

In The Bag
art by Bernard Krigstein, story by Carl Wessler
Shock SuspenStories #18 (1955)

This is one of those stories where Krigstein went to an extreme in splitting up the panels, getting fifteen or more panels on a lot of the pages, to make up for what he saw as a lack of space to properly tell the stories in the six pages he was usually given. It's kind of interesting that if he had been given the extra pages he wanted the stories might have been less memorable, since part of what makes them striking is the way the tight, confining layouts control the reading speed and increase the sense of drama.

Anyway, this story is about a cop patrolling the streets when he comes across a suspicious character holding a bag which may or may not have a bloodstain. He follows and confronts the character, who turns out to be quite insane and who confesses to beheading his boss before fleeing. The cop pursues down the rainy streets before making one of those tragic mistakes so common in these stories.

A really nice story, with some good dramatic flourishes in the script by Wessler and heavily cinematic storytelling by Krigstein, especially his use of tone work to depict the rain.

The B. KRIGSTEIN COMICS collection, from which this newly-coloured by Marie Severin image is taken, appears to have been remaindered and is available from several sources for a lot less than half its original $50 price, often as little as $10.

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Solo #11

SOLO #11
by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier

Sergio Aragones brings his inimitable style to DC's biggest icons in what promises to be the zaniest issue of Solo yet! Join the longtime Mad Magazine contributor and creator of Groo The Wanderer as he takes aim at Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and much, much more!

On Sale June 28, 2006 48pg. Color $4.99

Good to finally see some new Aragones/Evanier work, four years since the last GROO mini-series. I haven't really been too impressed with SOLO to date, those issues I've looked at, but this one I'm getting, no question. Great cover, too.

Barefoot Gen

I noticed one of the new editions of Keiji Nakazawa's BAREFOOT GEN (HADASHI NO GEN) published by Last Gasp in a store the other day. I have older editions of the original four books, but I wasn't aware until I saw the new edition that there are actually ten books total, all of them to be published in the new series. I also thought that something looked unfamiliar about the new editions as well, in addition to the new translations/lettering.

Fortunately, a check of my library revealed they had all four of the re-released books, so I could take them home to compare. The most important change seems to be that the older editions were abridged pretty heavily, with massive chunks of the third and fourth books being "new" (and different breaking points between the books). The new editions are over 150 pages longer combined. So it looks like I'll have to pick up all of the new editions at some point.

The new editions are also completely re-translated and re-lettered, of course, but that's not too much of a change. Nakazawa's text was always pretty straight-forward, and most of the changes I've noticed have been minor variations in word choice. A few were better, more natural sounding bits of dialogue, a few places I thought the old version captured the scene better, most are neutral. The new lettering (mixed case, typeset) is more consistent across the books now, but overall I probably prefer the hand lettering of the first few old books, especially in the more frantic emotional scenes, which seem colder with the typeset letters.

A more interesting change is in how the art was flipped from the original Japanese. Compare these pages, first the original English edition, then the new version:


As you can see, the layouts are the same, flipped to read in standard English order, but most of the individual panels are mirror images, but sometimes not (the second panel on this page). I think the old editions flipped the whole page, and then flipped the individual panels back only if they needed to get a particular bit of dialogue in a certain order (and sometimes they touched up the art to fix the main asymmetrical feature, Gen's chest pocket/badge, but inconsistently, so it floats from right to left sometimes). The new version, then, I guess flips the layouts, but keeps each panel as it was drawn (again maybe flipping a few if needed for dialogue purposes). So the original probably looked like this:

I'm not certain though, and I might have them reversed (in fact, I'm almost certain looking at it now that I flipped the wrong bit there). Does anyone know for sure (or have a Japanese original to compare a page)? Anyway, I'm not sure yet which I like better. I'll have to read some sections in both to see if there's any big difference.

Anyway, the important thing is that the books are back in print, in very handsome, well designed new editions, well worth checking out, and there are six more never-translated books to come. I'll be re-reading them in the next few weeks, with particular attention to the previously unpublished bits, and will post more later.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Collection - BLUE DEVIL [1984 Series]

Blue Devil [1984 series]
31 issues [1984 - 1986]
1 - 31

A light-hearted super-hero book about a stuntman and special effects expert, Dan Cassidy, who designs a giant Blue Devil prop suit for a movie, only to find himself trapped in the suit following a chance encounter with a real demon. Created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Paris Cullins, with Cullins drawing the first half dozen issues and all the covers, Mishkin and Cohn writing all but a few issues of the full run.

This was one of those books I heard about through house ads in DC books when it started, part of the "New DC" which there was, apparently, no stopping then, but don't think I ever saw on the stands. So years later when I saw a run of the first dozen or so issues I decided they were worth checking out. Some really good stuff in there, a lot of adventures playing around the edges of the DC universe, using some old characters like old Flash villains well, plus introducing new stuff, so I eventually picked up the rest of the issues. The second half isn't quite as good as the first, though it has amusing bits, but it especially starts to meander in the 20s, and then gets cancelled just as they'd announced a new direction.

But those first issues, up to about #16, still hold up pretty well. The first five issues, presenting the origin of the character and his first few adventures (including meetings with Zatanna and Superman) are really tight, with a lot of action, imaginative plot twists, introductions of the supporting cast and some really good art by Cullins and Gary Martin. The art gets less consistent after that, with various twists leading to seven different pencillers in seven issues (although when you have Gil Kane, Ernie Colon and Keith Giffen among your fill-in artists, you're not doing too bad), finally settling with Alan Kupperberg who drew most of the remaining issues.

Recommended key issues, #1 - #5 definitely. #12 - #13 are also a good short bit tying up some origin loose ends, plus with some good character bits our hero, an entertaining use of the Hollywood setting, and including Zatanna and Etrigan in supporting roles.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - The Comics by Robinson

by Jerry Robinson

While there are many debates about when the medium of words married with pictures first evolved into what we know today as comics-be it in nascent prehistoric paintings in the caves of France or the more traditional illustrated adventures of such characters as the Katzenjammer Kids which first appeared at the end of the nineteenth century-virtually everyone born in the last one hundred years has read or seen a comic strip at one time in their lives. In an exhaustive historical overview that captures the magic and innovation of this incredibly vibrant art form Jerry Robinson, comics historian, award-winning comics artist, and co-creator of the popular Batman villain The Joker, takes us on a journey from the beginning of the comic strip industry to the present day in The Comics. Originally published in the early 1970s, this volume has been revised and updated to include commentary on the last thirty years of comics history: from Mutt & Jeff to Calvin & Hobbes, from George Herrimann's Krazy and Ignatz to Patrick McDonnell's Mutts, Jerry Robinson brings the history of this great industry alive for a new generation.

July 12, 2006 Softcover, 296 pages, b&w, 9" x 12" $24.95
Dark Horse APR060047

The original edition was one of the first comics history volumes I ever saw, in a library copy over two decades ago. It's great to see that Robinson is still active in comics history writing, and I look forward to seeing the classic stuff again and reading his thoughts on the more modern stuff. Definitely one of the most exciting books in the current set of solicitations.

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Negative Burn #2

written by Brian Bolland, Evan Dorkin, Willy Franz, Ron Marz, Dove McHargue, James A. Owen, R. G. Taylor, Danijel Zezelj
art by Brian Bolland, Evan Dorkin, Sam Glanzman, Dove McHargue, James A. Owen, Andrew Robinson, R. G. Taylor, Danijel Zezelj

Now MONTHLY! The return of EVAN DORKIN's Milk & Cheese on a regular basis! The best that you know and the best that you will know! No set genre! No limitations! As always, each issue allows the best creators a showcase to explore their creativity and also introduces readers to tomorrow's superstars!
June 14 - 64 pg - BW - $5.99
Image/Desperado APR061792
(#1 MAR061826)

Didn't notice this launching in last month's solicitations, but this looks like a promising anthology, in particular with a Franz/Glanzman story. Plus anything with a regular dose of Milk&Cheese can't be all bad. A good chunk of comics for $6, I'll definitely take a look when the first issue comes out a couple of months from now.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

EC - Voodoo Death (Craig)

Voodoo Death
by Johnny Craig
Tales From the Crypt #23[#7] (1951)

This story features Jay and Bill vacationing down in Haiti, going through the jungle to catch a glimpse of a secret voodoo ceremony. Their shock at seeing a dead native and a voodoo doll come to life gives them away, and Bill runs off, leaving Jay to be captured. Jay eventually finds his way back, but on the way home Bill sees a voodoo doll on his bed, and throws it out to sea. Later at home he gets a package with the doll again. This time it attacks him, and Jay reveals that the doll was sent to kill Bill, and is animated by Jay's own heart.

Not one of my favourite Craig stories, I tend to prefer his straight crime stories. I did like some of the drawings of the doll, like it leaping behind Bill with a needle.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Winsor McCay Early Works v8

by Winsor McCay
With an unflagging work ethic, he drew thousands of cartoons and illustrations that appeared in newspapers around the country and gained him nationwide fame. But as popular as McCay was, his work was poorly preserved, and later generations have been unable learn about this cartooning legend. Checker brings McCay's work back into the public eye!
Softcover, 7x10, 200pgs, B&W $19.95
Checker Books APR063039

Wow, up to eight volumes of this? That's good to see, although I've only picked up a few of them so far. There's a lot of really odd stuff in every volume, very interesting visual experimentation and odd humour.

Why did I not know of this?

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with me that until today I did not know that this 1971 comic book, reprinting 1950s cop comics by Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Mort Meskin, Joe Maneely and others under a great new Cardy cover, even existed?

Old business

Thanks to Eric of (updating soon) I now have a scan of the QUESTION promotional poster to complete my Question miscellany post. It's a great image, with different art but the same tagline as the house ad.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Credits on comic book covers

A recent discussion over on the Kirby weblog reminded me of something I've always been abnormally curious about, all out of proportion to its actual importance. That is comic book creators getting a credit on the cover of a comic in the days before such credits were standard. I mean credits going beyond the artist signing the artwork on the cover, and not including credits from comic books adapted from comic strips (like Bud Fisher's credit on MUTT AND JEFF), where frequently the credited artist didn't actually draw the book anyway.

The first example I can find is Simon&Kirby on ADVENTURE COMICS #80 in 1942, for their Sandman feature, about a year after they started at DC. The credit ran for four issues.

The next creator getting a cover credit I can find is Walt Kelly, on many of his one-shots for Dell FOUR COLOR starting in 1945, #90 being the first I've seen, and continuing on his POGO one-shots and comics.

S&K got a credit again after the war when they launched some books at Harvey in 1946, BOY EXPLORERS and STUNTMAN. The books didn't last long thanks to the post-war crash in the comics industry.

While they had a lot of prominent interior credits on their Prize romance and horror books, I don't think their credit appeared on the covers. When they launched their own company, Mainline, there was still no mention of them on the covers for the first few issues, but just before the company went out of business in another industry collapse the S&K stamp did show up on their covers.

The first Marvel book I've found with a cover credit is this one from STRANGE TALES #95 in 1962. There are three other Marvel books in a short period with similar blurbs for the Lee-Ditko stories.

January 1963 saw one of the most interesting credits ever, plus I think the only time Kirby got his name on the cover of one of his FF issues.

There only seem to be a handful of other cover credits on early 1960s Marvel, such as this one on TALES TO ASTONISH #50. Other examples are on X-MEN #3 (Lee-Kirby) and TALES OF SUSPENSE #47 (Lee, Ditko & Heck).

Wallace Wood got one of the most glowing credits ever on DAREDEVIL #5, his debut issue on his brief run in 1964. He also got a mention when he started inking Don Heck on AVENGERS in 1965, probably the first time an inker got a cover credit.

Here's another oddball favourite, from Charlton's FANTASTIC GIANTS #24 in 1966.

The first DC books with creators mentioned on the covers since the old S&K credits I've found are on issues of DC SPECIAL in 1968 and 1969, when they had issues spotlighting reprints by Carmine Infantino (#1) and Joe Kubert (#5).

The floodgates opened at DC in 1970, when, following several months of ads promising "Kirby is Coming", several covers proclaimed...

Kirby was mentioned on about two dozen DC covers in next five years (including the greatest credit of all time, up at the top of this post), if you include the Simon & Kirby credits on some of the reprint books.

I'll continue this later, with more credits in the 1970s (including a lot from Kirby's return to Marvel, some more random Ditko credits, a surprising pair of Steve Gerber credits and more). In the long run I want to put up a gallery of every mainstream comic (and maybe choice undergrounds/indies) from before 1980 to credit a creator on the cover, so feel free to comment with any I might have missed.

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Art by Patrick McDonnell


written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
In the spirit of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Patrick McDonnell, the award-winning creator of MUTTS, introduces you to an imaginative and colorful world of splotches, blotches, squiggles, curlicues, and more. A young artist, Art is your lively guide into this captivating and dynamic book that celebrates art (and Art) with simple text that's full of life, creations that practically dance off the pages, and a surprising and heartwarming ending.
Hardcover, 8x9, 48pgs, full colour $14.99
Little, Brown and Company APR063562

Apparently this might already be out in bookstores. I really like McDonnell's comic strip, with its odd sense of whimsy and creative visuals. I imagine the odds are good that my library system will get some copies of this, so I'll check it out. It'll be interesting to see what he does with a longer narrative, better production and a more flexible format.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My Collection - STATIC [1993 Series]

Static [1993 series]
33 issues [1993 - 1997]
1 - 32, 44

The last of the four books that launched the Milestone line in 1993, this one featuring Virgil Hawkins, high school kid, who got electrical powers in the same "Big Bang" event that gave most of the Blood Syndicate their powers. It ran until #45. A few of the earliest issues were reprinted a few years later, along with a new mini-series, when the character got his own TV cartoon, which lasted for four years, though oddly not spawning much in the way of spin-off books beyond those initial offerings.

The series had the best first year of the line, with some great artwork from John Paul Leon and some really energetic (ha) writing from Robert Washington and Dwayne McDuffie for the first four issues, then Washington solo for the next while. It was probably the closest I've ever seen a series capture the best parts of the original Ditko Spider-Man of the 1960s, but in a thoroughly modern setting. Unlike a lot of super-hero books, where the secret identity stuff is either just filler or used for plot complications, the best parts of the book were frequently the scenes of Virgil interacting with his classmates and family.

Of course nothing lasts forever, and Leon was gone in under a year. There was some more-than-capable artwork after that, but it lacked that unique look of the early issues. Washington kept writing until #18 (with a few fill-ins), when Ivan Velez took over in mid-story, which was a rough transition. Velez got better when doing his own stories, but he was on under a year, and the following stuff made less sense to me. I did later pick up #44, because I liked the cover, and it was written by Mark Bright and seemed like a promising start, but I never did find the following issue, which would be the last in any case. I suppose I need to pick that up sometimes. Don't know about any of the other books from that 11-issue gap, looks like there were a few fill-in writers and artists.

Noteworthy bits of the run:

#1 - #4 provide the origin and first adventures of our intrepid hero, collected as "Trial By Fire". Lots of nice set-up, with some quick bits of characterization, a few hints that would pay off later, a nice mix of drama lightened by the sheer joy of super-powers.

#5 - #7 I'd say are the best storyline, "Louder than a Bomb" (and now that I'm much hipper, I get the PE reference). Static facing off against bomb threats and racial tensions, great stuff.

#21 is where Velez finds his feet, bringing in his Blood Syndicate characters for some crossover fun.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Jughead's Double Digest #123


Written and art by various.

It's double-decker sandwiches and double-trouble as the irrepressible Jughead tilts the laugh-o-meter in this uproarious collection of new stories and classic tales! Bonus: Puzzles, games and your chance to "Find Your Name in Print!"

Digest format, $3.69

I like the visual gimmick on this cover. Except I don't understand how he has a fully inked and coloured burger when he's still just penciling. These are my words.

As long as I'm here, might as well post the latest old Archie cover scan to amuse me, from 1966, when several issues of JUGHEAD had super-hero themes.

EC - Alamo (Severin)

art by John Severin, story by Harvey Kurtzman
Two-Fisted Tales #28[#11] (1952)

This story is of course about the fall of the Alamo in 1836 Texas, as told by the thoughts of a private in Santa Anna's army as he faces the last five Texan survivors after the battle. There's an interesting page structure for the main story pages, where the first panel is set after the battle, the rest being a flashback, with three panels in the top tier generally establishing the scene, then four fast panels in the middle tier, with a lot more of the battle and then a wide panoramic panel in the final tier. Having four stories in an issue gives you a chance to sometimes play around with the structure like that and see how it works, I guess.

Severin doing the 19th century is always good to see, and the story does a nice job of making the reluctant Mexican private seem sympathetic, while of course ending with a "Remember the Alamo" battle cry caption.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Grease Monkey

by Tim Eldred

Caught in the crossfire of an interstellar war, our Earth was bombed to flinders--and then repaired. The mysterious alien Benefactors who healed the planet also offered "uplift" to our dolphins and gorillas. The dolphins turned them down. The gorillas said yes. As a result, we'Â’re now sharing our world with language-using, tool-making simians. Tensions are inevitable, in both directions, but it's gradually working out.

Decades later, teenage cadet Robin Plotnik has been assigned to Fist of Earth, a defense station high above Earth, keeping watch against further attacks by the interstellar Horde. Robin's a spacecraft mechanic-in-training, apprenticed to Chief "Mac" Gimbensky, a cranky but basically benign gorilla with issues of his own.

Fist of Earth is a challenging place to grow up. Robin and Mac maintain fighter craft for the all-woman "Barbarian Squadron", which constantly competes for prestige with the other squadrons based on Fist of Earth. Robin's trying to romance a young librarian, and he's far from sure he knows what he's doing. Most of all, he's constantly struggling to figure out his moody, mercurial boss.

Then he and his best friend become entangled in a burgeoning scandal over betting on the squadrons' standings. And just when things look like they've hit rock bottom, the worst thing imaginable arrives at Fist of Earth: an efficiency expert from Earth, determined to reorganize Robin's hard-won life, and the whole squadron system, out of existence.

Fresh and engaging, crammed with likeable characters and science-fictional inventiveness, Grease Monkey is like a classic "Heinlein juvenile" in sequential-art mode.

352 pages, Hardcover, $27.95
Tor Books APR063418

There were two go-rounds for this as a comic book series in the 1990s, from Kitchen Sink and then from Image, both collecting short stories done earlier, neither of which got past #2. Good to see that Eldred has continued working on it in the meantime, and we get the equivalent of what would have been a dozen issues in one shot. What I read was a lot of fun, old-school adventure sci-fi with a heavy Japanese animation influence in the art and designs. Should do well with both the prose sci-fi crowd and the manga readers.

Tor Books seems to be showing good taste in comics to publish, with Charles Vess' BALLADS book before this. Have they published any other comics?

The brown acid...

...that is circulating around us is not specifically too good.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - June 2006 - Andru and Esposito - Partners For Life

Might as well jump straight into another month as I find out about stuff...

by Mike Esposito and Dan Best

Penciller Ross Andru and inker Mike Esposito were one of the most famous, prolific, and talented artistic teams to flourish during the Silver Age of comics. Whether working as publishers of their own work during the 1950s or at DC Comics on such strips as Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Metal Men, Flash, on numerous war strips, or on DC's flagship character, Superman, their work is fondly remembered today by fans and comic book historians. In the 1970s both artists lent their talents to Marvel's titles and continued to turn in inspiring work for DC. Andru and Esposito: Partners for Life chronicles the careers of both artists and is packed with hundreds of illustrations, most from original artwork, spanning both artists' careers. The book also contains mountains of never-before-seen unpublished material, an authoritative text by Esposito and comic book historian Dan Best, and a detailed checklist.
208 Pages, Tradepaperback, $29.99
Hermes Press APR063572
(Hardcover $49.99, APR063573)

This promises to be an interesting book. Andru and Esposito had a long career with a lot of different facets, not all of which I'm that familiar with, but I do like their war comics and what I've seen of their WONDER WOMAN and METAL MEN.

My Collection - COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE [1983 Series]

Comics Buyer's Guide [1983 series]
33 issues [1992 - 1995]
963 - 964, 971 - 981, 988, 990, 996, 999 - 1000, 1003, 1007 - 1008, 1011, 1033, 1041, 1044, 1059 - 1061, 1068, 1097, 1103, 1107, 1122

I'm not sure exactly when THE BUYER'S GUIDE FOR COMIC FANDOM was renamed to COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. Long before I first bought it. I guess when that online index they're working at (linked to above) gets that far I'll know.

Anyway, under whatever name, it's been published in some format by various publishers since 1971, as a weekly tabloid sized newspaper/magazine (on newsprint but stapled) for the era of issues I have. It continues to this day, only as a monthly magazine (sample issue in pdf format available online). #963 was the first issue with that format, I used to have some earlier issues that were in a more traditional newspaper format, but I seem to have lost or thrown them out at some point. Which is a shame, since I remember some funny Mark Martin "20 Nude Dancers 20" strips among other things in them. I mostly bought it at a time just after my comic news magazine of choice, AMAZING HEROES, was cancelled, and when a comic shop I went to used to sell any copy still sitting around after about two weeks for $1, and since the time-sensitive material like ads didn't matter to me, it was worth that much for the occasional article by Tony Isabella, Peter David, Mark Evanier, Bob Ingersoll and others (a lot of which has been supplanted by the interweb, of course), plus a few other features. A few others I specifically bought new for the cover feature. For the last few years that it was in the newspaper format I rarely saw a copy to leaf through and see if it was worth picking up. I'd probably have considered subscribing if I was in the US, but the price to Canada was crazy.

Kept 'em this long, guess I'll keep 'em longer. Though they take up an awful lot of room for their interest.

Most noteworthy issues among those I have are #1059 - #1060, which have a lot of reaction to Jack Kirby's passing, including a long article by Mark Evanier in those first two issues and lots of columns and letters about him.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Good God is in His Heaven...

...and good comics are in the stores.

My Collection - NEXUS [1985 Series]

Nexus [1985 series]
74 issues [1985 - 1991]
7 - 80

This is the long-running series created by Mike Baron and Steve Rude, a sci-fi adventure book featuring Horatio Hellpop, possessor of the cosmic powers of Nexus but cursed by dreams of mass murder which make him seek out and execute various inter-galactic despots. Along the way he picks up a large supporting cast, including various floating heads, aliens and some weirder things. A fascinating books, with a lot of action, humour and general zaniness, but also a lot of musings on morality, responsibility, the nature of power and other themes.

Published by First, which took over the numbering from the Capital series starting with #7 and running to #80 in 1991 (though Rude didn't draw it after #60), then published by Dark Horse as various mini-series and one-shots (mostly with Rude back on the art) until a few years ago, then was self-published for a few issues by Rude. Early issues are currently being reprinted in hardcover by Dark Horse, and Baron and Rude do occasional short stories.

Like most late 1980s book, I started reading this after it was cancelled, I think after I saw some of Rude's other work. I picked up a few random old issues, but initially the Baron writing didn't excite me. He has a kind of weird style that takes a few consecutive issues to pick up the rhythm and language, with weird gaps in the story and seeming non-sequiturs. Eventually I did, and picked up a whole bunch of issues, first mostly the Steve Rude stuff, but most of the early non-Rude artists are pretty good themselves. When you've got Eric Shanower, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Paul Smith and Adam Hughes among your fill-in artists, can't really complain. Kept buying issues and eventually had a full run.

Because of that weird rhythm of Baron's writing, the random order I read them and the consistently good art, it's hard to pick out highlights. My favourite run is probably #10 - #20, which has some great action as well as choice bits on the major "serious" themes of the series. Also of note, among the non-Rude issues, #30 is one of the few times you'll see Garcia-Lopez artwork outside of DC comics.

Judge Dredd #40 [1990] (Random Comics Theatre)

Random Comics Theatre

Judge Dredd #40 [1990]

I've got a few dozen of the various colour comics reprinting the Judge Dredd and other stuff from 2000 A.D., almost all of which I paid a quarter each for. Which works out nicely because I usually get at least 36 cents of enjoyment from them. I'm not sure if they ever really got the hang of printing in colour, at least at this late date their colour printing still looked rough, especially on the two-page spreads where you get a huge a seam where they join the pages. At least at this point the lettering was readable.

The lead story in this issue is the four part "The Taxidermist" from 2000 AD #507 - #510, written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, drawn by Cam Kennedy and Mark Farmer. A bit of a GODFATHER riff in this issue, as a mob boss brings his gunshot riddled son and his son's two killers from the Geek mob to a taxidermist to have them illegally stuffed in a pose making his son seem heroic. Y'know, for his mother. Not unlike the Spirit, some of the best Dredd stories are those where he only appears on the edge, and this story is mostly about the taxidermist, being paranoid about the life of crime he's been dragged into.

Backup story in this one is "The Startling Success of Sideways Scuttleton", one of Alan Moore's short stories, drawn by John Higgins from 2000 AD #327, which will presumably show up in the upcoming collection of Moore's non-series shorts. This one's about a con-man and hustler who finds he has the power to move between parallel worlds, using the powers to make money by doing things like taking worthless confederate money to a world where the south won the American Civil War. A decent enough story, but a really nice showcase for Moore's dialogue abilities, as Sideways tells his story. I'm not quite sure I get the punchline of the story. When this was first published in 1983, did the UK just introduce pound coins in place of paper pounds?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

EC - Buried Alive (Ingels)

Buried Alive
art by Graham Ingels, story by Al Feldstein
Vault of Horror #15[#4] (1950)

Where do you go for your stories about people who think allowing themselves to be buried alive is a smart way to make money? 1950s EC comics, of course.

In this story, we meet sideshow attraction Sam, aka the Great Zobo, whose gimmick is that he can slow down his breathing, appearing dead, so he lets himself be buried alive all day as a living corpse. Yeah, that's a pretty dull sideshow attraction. Anyway, his girl Rita gets a plan to make them some money, by fooling a rich guy into thinking he killed and buried Sam, then blackmailing him. Foolproof! Unfortunately Rita has no intention of digging up Sam, but the joke's on her when someone else digs him up for his own blackmail purposes, running off when he sees the supposedly "dead body" rise. Sam decides it's only right to bury her alive in quicksand. When will they learn that ironic justice always backfires?

Goofy early horror story, not anywhere near as gory as Ingels would get at his "Ghastly" peak, although it has its moments. I did like the atmosphere around the burial site, and the symbolic hand coming out of the earth on the title page.
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