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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - June Previews summary

Time for the wall of art for the latest solicitations. Kirby stuff monitored here. Cover of the month I'd say is Michael Zulli's FACTS IN THE CASE... piece. God, do I wish the PUMA BLUES would return and finish. Reprint book of the month is Don Rosa's SCROOGE COMPANION (which, by the way, appears to have some stuff never published in English before according to some sources). New book of the month is David Lloyd's original graphic novel KICKBACK.

Images link to my full posts on each book. Links to earlier months here.

EC - The Teacher From Mars (Orlando)

The Teacher From Mars
art by Joe Orlando, story by Eando Binder & Al Feldstein
Weird Science-Fantasy #24[#2] (1954)

This was adapted from a short story by "Eando Binder" (brothers Earl and Otto Binder). Along with the Bradbury adaptations among the few writing credits to appear in EC Comics.

This story has a Martian coming to Earth to teach at a school. He faces a lot of mocking and prejudice, with some background of the Earth/Martian history being dropped along the way to explain it.

In the end, the teacher finds out that his son was killed defending the father of one of the students who tormented him the most, and they lived happily ever after.

The story is actually a lot better than a short description implies, with a lot of good solid 1950s sci-fi concepts thrown in and some good surprising character bits. It's also a great example of Orlando's art from the time. He seemed to change a lot during his run on EC, starting off with more of a comic strip influence, but seemingly picking up a lot from his fellow EC artists as the years went on. Lots of touches of Wood influence in stories like this.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Brave and the Bold #184 [1982] (Random Comics Theatre)

Random Comics Theatre

The Brave and the Bold #184 [1982]

This is always a good time of year for Christmas comics, especially one which features Batman and Huntress beating up Santa Claus. Ah, what a sweet father/daughter moment (except, of course, that this Batman isn't actually this Huntress's father).

"The Batman's Last Christmas" is by Mike Barr and Jim Aparo, one of those stories where Batman has a crisis of faith when he finds out, in a series of coincidences, that his father may have lent money to a mob boss. Fortunately the daughter of his deceased Earth-Two doppleganger is visiting, and manages to restore his faith in his mission and determination to find out the truth, which is what you'd expect, with one of those Mike Barr mystery reveals which aren't quite as impressive as when I was 11 years old. Still kind of fun, and Aparo's art is even more impressive than I thought back then.

The last page has a Christmas illustration signed by I guess everyone who hung around the DC offices that week.

Also in this issue, a back-up as part of the Nemesis series that ran in the book for a few years. "Outfoxed" is by usual team Cary Burkett and Dan Spiegle. I love Spiegle's art in this series. A regular monthly book with art by both Jim Aparo and Dan Spiegle? Good times. The story is pretty good action oriented spy drama, about a former agent forced to go underground and wage a private war against a criminal syndicate after his brother was framed for the death of their mentor. In this episode, a French assassin Greyfox has led Nemesis into a trap using his mechanic as bait. A great compact story with a lot of exciting set pieces, exploding planes and helicopters.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - An Unlikely Prophet

by Alvin Schwartz

A profound investigation into the shifting nature of identity and reality, and a metaphysical memoir by the legendary writer of Superman and Batman, Alvin Schwartz's story is a personal journey through a lifelong remembrance of synchrony, inspiration, accident, and magic.

Softcover, 6x9, 224pgs, B&W $16.95

JUN063614 Destiny Books

This is apparently already out (the new edition, that is. The original edition came out years ago but wasn't so easy to find) and a copy is theoretically winging its way to me. Should be interesting.

Upcoming Stuff of Interset - Dick Ayers Story

by Dick Ayers

Collecting all three volumes into one amazing, hardcover collection! This beautifully bound edition covers Ayers entire life, from his birth in 1924 to present day! Wonderfully illustrated and told in Dick's own words, this book covers his early works at Marvel during the Marvel Age of Comics in the 1960s, as well as his current projects! Plus, an introduction by Stan Lee as only Stan Lee can write it! Includes tipped-in hand signatures by Dick Ayers!

Hardcover, 7x10, 360pgs, B&W $75.00
JUN062992 Century Comics

I read the first volume and it was some interesting stuff. Haven't seen the others, but this looks like a good way to get the entire series in one go.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Shazam Family Archives v1

Written by various
Art by Mac Raboy, Al Carreno Marc Swayze and C.C. Beck
Cover by Mac Raboy

A stunning Golden Age Archive featuring the adventures of Captain Marvel, Jr. and the origin of Mary Marvel from MASTER COMICS 23-32, CAPTAIN MARVEL JR. #1 and CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES #18! Plus, a foreword by comics historian P.C. Hamerlinck.

on sale September 27 228 pg Full Colour, $49.99 US

I'll be curious to see reviews of this. For the last few years the semi-official reason this book hasn't existed seems to have been that the method DC uses to reprint comics when the only source material is printed comics wasn't up to the task of Raboy's linework. I'm not sure the evidence I've seen suggests they now are (they've had some good looking books recently, but on stuff where it seems they have original art or stats). Should be good stuff if the reproduction is up to snuff. Though for really good (and more affordable) examples of Raboy's work from high quality source material, check out the Dark Horse collections of his run as artist on the Flash Gordon comic strip.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jack Jackson, R.I.P.

Sad to hear that comic book artist Jack Jackson, aka Jaxon, passed away a few days ago at age 65. Jackson did some excellent books, my favourite of them was probably LOST CAUSE, the story of John Wesley Hardin. A lot of his books explored aspects of Texas history, and he really brought that era to life, showing a genuine love for the subject matter and a gruff, realistic approach to it which is refreshing when history is too often sanitized and simplified.

Jackson also did some great work in the early undergrounds. I especially like his contributions to the ecology themed anthology SLOW DEATH, including this back cover.

One of his more obscure works, but one I enjoyed, was his adaptation of Cooper's LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Which is interesting since I never could get more than a dozen pages into the novel. Not a great story, but his art really is enchanting in how well it sets the scene and tells the story.

In addition to his actual work, Jackson was a great and obvious influence on a lot of later artists I admire, both in the style and approach to comics. You don't have to look at the work too long to see how artists like Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and Tim Truman, among others, took a lot from Jackson's style, and you can see echoes of him in stuff like Truman's historical work and the more extreme horror that Bissette and Veitch would revel in.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Disney Classics


Collected here for the first time are beautiful and rare Disney comic books that were first cherished and enjoyed nearly 70 decades ago. Whether it's a never-before-seen moment from the story of a classic Disney film (the capture of the Prince in Snow White), or a new tale featuring beloved Disney characters (The Seven Dwarfs and Dumbo), these classic comic reproductions are filled with surprises that are sure to delight readers of all ages!

This first volume collects Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (from Four Color Comics #49, 1944), Walt Disney's Bambi (from Four Color Comics Vol. 2 #12, 1942), Walt Disney's Dumbo (from Four Color Comics #17, 1941), Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (from Four Color Comics #331, 1951), and Walt Disney's Peter Pan (from Four Color Comics #442, 1953). All of these classics come bound in a foil-stamped matte case with a beautiful acetate jacket.

Hardcover, 6x9, 256pgs, Full Color $49.95
JUN063071 Disney Press

I'm kind of disappointed they're going with the full-on deluxe treatement and matching price for these. I'm kind of interested in them and wouldn't mind if they were down in the range of some of Gemstone's recent collections of Disney comics. Ah well, maybe if I see a used copy at some point.

EC - Mad Reader (Wolverton)

Mad Reader!
art by Basil Wolverton, story by Harvey Kurtzman
Mad #11 (1954)

Wolverton did very little work for EC back in the comic book days, just a few bits for MAD (and some stuff pasted in PANIC as a cover and some single panel gags), though I think he did later do some work for the magazine incarnation of MAD. For the comic he didn't do any sequential art, just some illustrations in his usual grotesque manner. This story features six full page drawings by Wolverton with captions showing examples of what the different types of readers of MAD look like.

Pretty slick but disgusting stuff, using Wolverton's unique style to full effect. Also an interesting early example of how MAD quickly became an institution, and thus like any institution ripe for parody in MAD.

Wolverton also did the cover of this issue, one of his freaks labelled as the "beautiful girl of the month" in a cover that mimics the look of LIFE MAGAZINE.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Here comes that old travelling jones once again...

I'm heading off to the UK in a few days, so don't expect much in the way of posting or replies to e-mail for a few weeks. And if anyone has any tips on things to do and places to go with a week in Birmingham and and one in London, plus a Sunday afternoon in Glasgow and a day in Paris, feel free to comment or e-mail in the next few days. In comic book terms, I'm probably most interested in finding a good supply of cheap 1970s issues of COMMANDO (cheap being under £1), maybe a few of the Alan Class reprints of Atlas/Charlton/ACG comics that Tony Isabella features every now and then. Only really interested in American comics if they're very cheap, whatever the equivilant of a British quarter bin is.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Akiko and the Training Master

by Mark Crilley
Every planet in the universe relies on the Intergalactic Space Patrollers for protection, but no one representing Smoo has ever made it through the rigorous training. This time, King Froptoppit of Smoo has enrolled Akiko and her friends Poog, Mr. Beeba, Gax, and Spuckler Boach in training camp, and are Smoo's last hope!
6x9, 224pgs, B&W $5.50

Gotta say, that older Akiko design takes some getting used to. Glad to see Crilley is finding some success with these illustrated novels, though I miss the comic (though Crilley does mention on his site that the next book will have a full sixteen page comic in the back). Speaking of which, Sirius re-offers most of the collections of the comics in either the digest sized or full sized versions this month.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - TCJ Library - Harvey Kurtzman

The seventh volume in this distinguished series focuses entirely on one of comics' most esteemed and influential creators: artist, writer and editor, Harvey Kurtzman, whose complete Comics Journal interviews are collected in this oversized, lavishly illustrated full-color edition. What makes this volume particularly noteworthy is the obscurities unearthed from Kurtzman's solo freelance career from Children's Digest, Pageant, U.S. Crime, Varsity and Why, most of which haven't been seen since their original publication. All of which illustrate the most informative and compelling interviews with Kurtzman ever published!
Softcover, 12x12, 124pgs, $19.95
JUN063104 Fantagraphics Books

This is very tempting. Kurtzman always comes across as thoughtful and opinionated with a lot of different angles, and had an interesting career. Plus the addition of the reprints of his very early work are a major bonus. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll pick this one up. I like the cover design, too.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Punisher - The Tyger by Severin

PUNISHER - THE TYGER #1, a recently published one-shot from Marvel, was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me. I was interested in it solely for the artwork by John Severin, who I'm amazed is not only still active in comics well into his 80s but doing some great stuff. On the other hand, I usually don't like Garth Ennis's writing, and I think the only story starring the Punisher I ever liked was PUNISHER MEETS ARCHIE (I thought the character worked well in a few guest bits as, y'know, the villain, before he became a solo star). Fortunately I finally let my desire for some Severin outweigh the rest. As I said, pleasant surprise.

When I heard the story was about the Punisher as a 10-year-old, I wasn't sure if Ennis was going to play the concept for laughs (which might have been funny) or what. He didn't, and instead delivers an interesting quieter story than his usual, reminding me a lot of the few of his HELLBLAZER issues that I decided to keep. There's nothing really profound, and I have no idea if any of this is important to (or even consistent with ) the Punisher story as a whole, but it's an interesting period piece about life in 1960 New York, with some good character bits and odd bits of horror and a few clever turns of phrases. More than enough for Severin to hang his hat on and deliver a great look at the era.

Have to say, though, not that happy with the colouring. The colourist seems to have designed a texture template based on Severin's tight hatching style and applied it liberally throughout. I can see the motive, but the problem is that if Severin thought any of those blank areas needed texture, he'd have added it himself, and the added lines in the colour only serve to distract and obscure the lines Severin did lay down. I found myself noticing the colour way more than I should have.

But regardless, still a book well worth picking up, and presumably if it ever is reprinted it'll be packaged with several other less-interesting reprints, so might as well get it in this format.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Jack Cole Reader v1

by Jack Cole

A tribute to one of the wildest brains in comics! The creator of Plastic Man, Cole worked on dozens of features over twenty years. Included in this volume are early stories from 1938, Midnight, Burp the Twerp, Angels O'Day, Wun Clu, Death Patrol, and others. Most of this material has not been previously reprinted.

Softcover, 8x11, 160pgs, B&W $25.00
JUN063317 Pure Imagination Publishing

Cole's early work is pretty fascinating from the examples I've seen, and I look forward to seeing some more of them in this book. I like the Plastic Man stuff I've read in the DC collections, but this should have some more variety. And it's more reasonably priced.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bob Kane

There's been some discussion on the interweb lately, spurred by the discovery that a key early Batman panel was a swipe, about how much, if anything, Bob Kane actually drew. I don't have much to add to the discussion, but it seemed like a good chance to post one of my favourite jokes to ever appear in a fanzine, from the Jim Engel / Chuck Fiala "Fandom Confidential" photo comic that used to appear in THE COMIC READER, this one from #194 (1981), also reprinted in the 1982 Kitchen Sink collection of the strips.

BNFs Chuck and Jim don't seem to have websites for me to link to, but they both show up over on Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics forum.

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Amelia Rules v3

by Jimmy Gownley

For the first time! This Harvey and Eisner-nominated series collects issues 11-16. Amelia McBride is facing more changes -Amelia may be moving again, new friend Trish is hiding a terrible secret, and superhero-wannabe Reggie has vowed to destroy the evil Legion of Steves. This first novel-length Amelia Rules! story masterfully combines drama and humor. Available is Softcover, Hardcover and signed Hardcover editions!
SOFTCOVER 6x9, 176pgs, FC $14.95 JUN063337 Renaissance Press
HARDCOVER 6x9, 176pgs, FC $24.95 JUN063338 Renaissance Press
SIGNED HARDCOVER 6x9, 176pgs, FC $40.95 JUN063339 Renaissance Press

Good to see Gownley quickly getting these books out after his previous publisher closed up. He's also re-releasing multiple editions of the two previous books this month, if you missed those. I'm not sure about the wisdom of putting them all out in the same month, but whatever seems to work. Anyway, very fun book, well written and drawn, I'm looking forward to see how he does with a longer story after the single issue bits of the first two books.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Little Lulu v12


Dark Horse continues to bring you one of the greatest humor comics of all time with the twelfth volume of Little Lulu. Containing every story and strip from Dell Comics' Marge's Little Lulu #48-52, first published between June and October of 1952, this jam-packed volume captures some of the very best yarns ever to star Lulu, Tubby, Annie, Alvin, and all the rest of the rambunctious gang. Whether it's the troublesome truant officer Mr. McNabbem or the awful Witch Hazel, there's no grownup too smart for these clever kids. Sit down, have a laugh-or fifty-with these classic all-ages stories that both parents and kids are sure to love!
On sale October 11, Softcover, 208pg, b&w, 6" x 9", $9.95

Hey, it's good to see Dark Horse finally give some details about the source of stories for a particular volume in the solicitations, issues and dates, rather than the generic write-ups they've used until now. Always a blast, if you can't have fun with 200 pages of this stuff for $10 you need to get out of the having fun business.

Bits of Toth - Snerl

One final bit from Toth's history, as I'd decided I would continue this until there was mainstream coverage of his passing, which finally came with an AP wire story appearing all over the place today.

"Is a Snerl Human?" from ADVENTURE COMICS #431 is one of my favourite stories from both Toth and from writer Sheldon Mayer (a mentor of Toth back in the 1940s). They did two great stories together in the 1970s, and you can read Toth's notes about the other one here. This one is an odd little parable about a distant world where most forms of animal life have separated themselves from humans, and about the strange creature that emerges. I especially love Toth's very expressive animals, each with a certain elegance, but very much not humanized in any way (which would defeat the point of the story).

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Upcoming Stuff of Interest - Son of the Demon re-release

Written by Mike W. Barr
Art by Jerry Bingham
Cover by Andy Kubert

A new printing of the classic work tying into the BATMAN story by Grant Morrison & Andy Kubert, in standard comics size for the first time! When a terrorist achieves control over the weather, Batman teams with Ra's al Ghul. But Batman finds himself torn between stopping the ruthless terrorist and protecting al Ghul's daughter Talia, the woman who [spoiler removed]!
On sale August 2 80 pg, Full Colour, $5.99 US

Always good of them to give away the big twist in the solicitation. Anyway, this is actually a pretty decent book, considering it's a Ra's story by someone other than Denny O'Neil and drawn by the usually less impressive Jerry Bingham. It's pretty much a Batman story done as a big summer action movie in the model of a better James Bond movie, including the satellite weapon system and would-be world conqueror. Anyway, well worth reading, especially at this new lower price (I don't think the reduced size will make much difference).

I'm not quite sure why...

...anyone would decide to get Andy Kubert to do pretty much a straight copy of Bingham's better cover (the original Bingham cover to the hardcover was worse), except to add the tie-in with the current Batman storyline.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Bits of Toth - Heart Divided

A lot of Toth's work in the 1950s was various genre stuff for Standard. A few of those were reprinted in a few books by Eclipse in the 1980s, TRUE LOVE and SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. I especially like a lot of the splash panels in these, always very eye-catching. This one below was inked by Mike Peppe.

Good God is in His Heaven...

...and good comics are in the stores.

These are going to be some fun reading. Early Kelly is pretty different from his classic stuff, but has a lot of raw talent. Kind of a shame they have to be reprinted from printed comics, but it still looks pretty neat. And of course the first few years of the Haunted Tank has a lot of great Kanigher stories drawn by Joe Kubert and Russ Heath, only a few of which have been reprinted before, and look great in crisp black and white.
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