Tuesday, August 29, 2006
One of the coolest things DC did in the 70's was putting together these great 100 page reprint books. It was the first chance a lot of the younger readers had to read stories from the Golden Age. Edited by E. Nelson Bridwell, the 100 Page Super Spectaculars featured a wide variety of tales concerning many different genres. Similar to the earlier DC Special, there were issues containing horror, romance, war, and of course super hero reprints. This Neal Adams cover is considered by some people the very best cover DC put out during this period. I'm not one to argue. It's simply gorgeous. It contains most of the classic Golden and Silver Age DC heroes in its wraparound splendor. Reprinted in this glorious 100 pager are the two part Justice League/Justice Society story from Justice League #21-22 by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky, The Spectre story from More Fun Comics #55 by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, the Johnny Quick story from Adventure Comics #190 (credits uncertain), the Dan Berry pencilled Vilgilante story from Action #146, an unpublished Golden Age Wildcat story by Bob Kanigher, and the Gardner Fox/Joe Kubert Hawkman story from The Brave And The Bold #36. The 100 pagers are some of the best comics of the so called Bronze Age (although I usually just refer to it as the 70's). They're definitely worth checking out.
Comic Calvalcade was another DC anthology title that came out in the early 1940's. This particular book featured Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and The Flash who shared silly adventures on every cover. I bet all the super villains wouldn't be so concerned with these three if they saw them spinning in circles wearing roller skates. Ah, the innocence of the 40's! I love this cover for so many reasons. I don't think the publishers today would ever have their major heroes doing stuff like this. It's great. In addition to the main three, this issue also contained tales of Johnny Everyman, Hop Harrigan, and Sargon The Sorcerer. Cover by E.E. Hibbard, who was the artist of The Flash at the time. Cover dated April/May, 1946.
World's Finest Comics was one of the many anthology titles DC put out during the Golden Age Of Comics. These anthologies served as sort of try outs for some of their second tier characters to see if they were popular enough to warrant their own title. This title was published in the wake of the success of the 1939/40 New York World's Fair comics. For a whopping 15 cents (which caused quite a stir among the kids who were used to paying only a dime for their comics), you got 100 pages of thrills featuring the likes of Superman, Batman, Red, White, And Blue, The Crimson Avenger, Johnny Thunder, Young Doc Davis, Zatara, The Sandman, The King, Lando, Man Of Magic, and Drafty #158. All of the covers during this period had Superman, Batman, and Robin appearing together playing games and generally goofing off. They are some of my favorite covers of the Golden Age. I love the innocence of these covers. This is my favorite WF cover. Batman at the bat is a great touch. Cover by Fred Ray, who drew many a beautiful cover during this time period. Autumn, 1941 issue. The Superman and Batman stories are reprinted in Superman: The World's Finest Archives Vol. 1 and Batman: The World's Finest Archives Vol. 1, respectively.
Monday, August 28, 2006
As comics historian Mark Evanier notes in his wonderful blog newsfromme.com, today would have been Jack "King" Kirby's 89th birthday. As tribute to one of the, if not most, influential creators in the history of comics, I thought I'd post one of my favorite Kirby covers from what I consider his best work for Marvel in the 60's. The fantasy and cosmic wonderment of the Norse gods fit him to a T. I'm sad to say I never got to meet him but his work will live on forever. So break out a Thor or Fantastic Four or Captain America or New Gods today to celebrate the King Of Comics.
We finish up our look at Action war covers with my favorite, this awesome piece of work by Jack Burnley. The dynamics of this cover took my breath away when I first saw it. This is my second favorite war cover next to Superman #23. I was amused by the title of the Americommando story in this issue. "A Right In Der Fuehrer's Face". Classic Golden Age stuff. From August, 1943. Reprinted in Action Archives Vol. 4.
We skip ahead an issue to July, 1943 and Action #62, once again by the very talented and prolific Jack Burnley. This is one of the first war covers to depict Superman fighting the Japanese. I love the composition of this cover. It's laid out beautifully with our hero saving another hero from the dastardly Jap Zero. This book also features backup tales of Vigilante, Americommando, and Congo Bill. Reprinted in Action Archives Volume 4.
From May, 1943, comes the third Burnley WWII cover in a row, this one with our hero transporting much needed medical supplies to our troops. One of the stories in this issue contains one of the first references of Superman actually flying instead of taking great leaps. This book also contains another chapter in the Supermen Of The U.S. Army feature. Reprinted in Action Archives Volume 4.
The lucky kids of this era get two great Jack Burnley covers in a row with this gem from Action #59, April, 1943. In a complete reversal of the cover scene, the main story has our hero reenacting the Cinderella story. Much different from crushing Nazi tanks with war bonds and stamps! Reprinted in Action Archives Volume 4.
From March, 1943, here's another Burnley effort that shows what you can do at home to support the war effort. I love the lack of political correctness in the poster Supes is producing. The times were much different then. Reprinted in Action Archives Volume 4.
We now jump ahead ten issues to Action #44, cover dated November, 1942. This beauty is by the awesomely underrated Jack Burnley. There was an interior story in this issue dealing with our soldiers called Supermen Of The U.S. Army. Comics of the period did a fantastic job helping our fighting men's morale while they were overseas. Reprinted in Action Comics Archives Volume 4.
I thought I'd take the time and post some of my favorite World War II propanganda covers. Almost every title that came out in the Golden Age Of Comics had a propaganda cover at some point. One of the titles that had the best covers was Action Comics. What was better than Superman, America's greatest hero, beating up the Nazis and Japanese? The first cover I'm posting is Action #44 by the great Fred Ray. Ray did a lot of the covers during this period along with Jack Burnley. I love the dynamic image of Superman busting up a German tank turret. What's interesting is that the book is cover dated January, 1942, which means it was put together before America entered the war. Unfortunately, most of the time the interior stories had nothing to do with the covers, as was the case here. The entire book is reprinted in the Action Comics Archives Vol. 3.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
One of my favorite things about comics from the 1970's were the so called prozines put out by the two major companies, DC and Marvel. They saw how popular the fanzines were becoming and wanted to put out their own magazine sized books that would have accurate information about all the new comics coming out. Some of the fanzines weren't always accurate. Marvel was the first to put out a prozine, publishing the first issue of F.O.O.M. (Friends Of Ol' Marvel) in February, 1973. About a year and a half later, in July, 1974, DC came out with the first issue of their own prozine, The Amazing World Of DC Comics.
Put together by a group of interns known as the Junior Woodchucks, young comic book fans who were just out of college and working their first job in the business, AWODCC was a very well put together magazine that combined the up to the minute listings of all the new comics coming out that month plus interviews and features about the many different aspects of the creation of DC comics. One of the Woodchucks was a 17 year old kid named Paul Levitz, who today is the president of the company.
Issue #1 got the magazine off to a great start. There was an interview with Joe Kubert, an article on the then new (and dreadful) Wonder Woman TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby, an obit for Batman co-creator Bill Finger, who had just passed away, an unpublished Jack Kirby crime story, an article on how comics are created (it was the first in a multi-part series detailing every aspect of comic book production which I found quite interesting and thorough), an article on the Fleischer Superman cartoons from the 1940's, and many more great tidbits about the company and its many characters and creators.
Sales were pretty good on the first issue and it lasted another four years, ending with issue number 17 in 1978. It took me years to complete the run, as some of the issues were pretty hard to find and expensive, but it was worth it. There isn't any better time capsule of my favorite company and era of comics than these.