Friday, May 24, 2013
During the Bronze Age, Marvel was more than eager to reprint much if not all of its bizarre material from its pre-superhero days. So comics like Where Monsters Dwell and Where Creatures Roam became common exhibits on the local spinner rack. My favorite of these was the giant-sized Fear. The potent punch of that title worked for me. Fear was straightforward, though admittedly you felt relatively little "fear" when actually reading these fun-loving monster tales of yore.
What is fun still is to compare the covers. Take a close gander at the cover of Fear #1 above and compare it to its source, the cover of Tales to Astonish #11 by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers. You'll see a lot of changes made by Marvel's correction and color guru Marie Severin. She's taken the already antic image by Kirby and added several more little men menaced by the power of the oozing "Monstrom". Why they felt this need to spruce up the cover is anyone's guess, but it does add a small measure of added chaos to an already hectic scene.
Fear would endure as a totally awesome twenty-five center for six issues before reverting to regular size and then with its eleventh issue changed its cover name to "Adventures In Fear". That issue also saw the debut of a regular feature dubbed "Man-Thing" and the book took off, lasting for several years becoming the home for Morbius the Living Vampire for much of that time.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I knew when I saw this Yugoslavian comic book Eks Almanah cover it rang a bell. It's a heavily reworked rendition of "Jaunty" Jim Steranko's classic poster for F.O.O.M. (Friends Of Old Marvel), the short-lived fan club for the House of Ideas.
Taking a look at the original below, it's interesting to see h ow the figures have been altered. The Hulk has white hair and an odd bracelet, the Surfer has a nifty belt and an "S" on his board, the Vision appears to wear his heart on his chest, the Black Widow gets a mask, the Angel gets a star, DD gets buccaneer boots, the Torch gets a t-shirt, Shellhead is orange and green, the Thing gets glasses, Mr.Fantastic is part of the "Fantastic Three", Thor's hammer is rounded, and Cap looks for all the world like his Marble counterpart "Charlie America". Black Bolt gets bounced entirely to fit in a second Spidey.
It's almost like one of those find-the-differences cartoons you see so often in magazines and newspapers. Why they felt the need to make these changes is anyone's guess, but curious ones they are indeed.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Here are a couple of very curious covers from Belgium. On both we see the world's finest team of Superman and Batman in what seem peculiar poses. In the first cover they appear for the all world to be singing as if they were in some Broadway spectacle of some sort. In the second image they sort of look like they are both coming down from the gas after visiting the dentist; they seem a bit too gleeful for no apparent reason. Maybe they're doing the Watusi, or is it the "Bat-tusi"?
On the original DC covers we get the full context of the figures. Here in this cover by Neal Adams, we learn Batman and Superman are under threat and are singing for their lives, not for mere nickles on the "Great White Way".
And on this classic cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, we see the great duo are merely exorting their arch enemies to off one another.
As strange and potentially out of character as both these covers are, without the context they are merely confusing.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
What exactly is going on the cover of this Danish comic? Skipper Skraek featured among many other things, the adventures of Popeye and the gang from Thimble Theater. Olive's knitted something which she seems to want to present to Popeye who seems typically oblivious, and the presence of a rabbit, the very symbol of fertility make me wonder if this cover is announcing the impending birth of a little Sailor Man. Probably not, but it did cross my mind.
Monday, May 20, 2013
I was very pleased to learn that at long last Solomon Kane, the feature-length movie starring James Purefoy as Robert E. Howard's sword-slinging Puritan pulp hero will hit these shores. Anchor Bay will finally make this movie available in these United States, where it has long been available in Europe and other points of the globe.
Why this flick never got a proper release here, the homeland of Howard is mystifying, as I've already seen enough in the trailer to let me know this is at the very minimum a credible adaptation of Howard's dour hero and most likely a very exciting presentation. Anyway, at long last this July I should be able to enjoy this screen version of one of my favorite pulp characters. To tide us over, here are some of the dandy posters for the flick.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
With this weekend being absorbed by the new Star Trek movie by J.J.Abrams and friends, it's got me in a Trek state of mind. Let me say right now, that I like nearly all that has been produced (that I've seen) associated with the Trek series over the decades. But for me, the original series both on screen and in print overshadows all other versions in spite of their many virtues.
Star Trek was once upon a time, a distant beacon in a science fiction universe very sparsely populated. It flickered briefly on television, then went out. But fans persisted and it revived in cartoon form and in print until finally thanks to the success of Star Wars it was given a new lease and capitalized mightily. The movies followed, then a gaggle of new variations, each with virtues and flaws, but somehow none was able to capture that nutty magic the first version had tapped into. They'd get close, but they'd always fall short.
James Blish is one of the great science fiction writers but these days he's mostly known I suspect for his work on Star Trek as he diligently adapted the television series episodes to short story form. In those ancient pre-VHS, pre-DVD days such items were treasures, hard copy renditions of images all too ephemeral. Blish locked it down.
Blish even created if not the first Star Trek original novel, then arguably the most famous with Spock Must Die!.
The first Star Trek novel is the Whitman juvenile Mission to Horatius by Mack Reynolds and is one gem here I don't have, but really want. I read there's a facsimile version, and I need to get a copy.
And then there was Gold Key which adapted the series into comic book form with varying degrees of success. But certainly they found that the comic book fans did abide and the series ran through most of the 70's, pretty much until Gold Key itself succumbed. Star Trek would go on to be published in comic book form by Marvel, DC, and many others, but those Gold Key stories have a naive charm modern renditions cannot possess. I read a bunch of these vintage gems relatively recently in Checker's reprint series.
And then there's this. I found eleven of the twelve Star Trek Fotonovels at my new favorite store Half-Price Books some few months ago. They are in remarkably fine shape and I think with all this "Star Trekkery" in the air, it might be a good weekend to break them out and give them a thorough reading. Of course I'll go see the new movie of course, eventually, but right now the true Trek calls.
Sadly I'm missing the final volume adapting "Amok Time", one of the great episodes.
I might even break out the old Star Fleet Technical Manuel I have around here somewhere to properly hone my mind for a session of classic Trek.
Go boldly friends!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Reddy Killowatt is an exquisite design. His bright effusive smile, his spindly but bristling limbs, and those cute little shoes somehow add up and the whole is far greater than the sum. Reddy was nigh ubiquitous in all sorts of ads for new-fangled ways of living life in the 20th Century, he was in fact an icon of that new way forward, a time of positive feelings and downright progress. Here are some classic Reddy appearances.
Reddy appeared in comics often. Above is a 1946 appearance.
The Mighty Atom is exactly what it seems to be, a comic extolling the virtues of electricity, especially that electricity derived from atomic power. Here's a look at the wraparound cover.
And here's the splash page.
To check out the complete comic book adventure, see this link.
Reddy Killowatt's heyday is long gone, sadly along with the sense of progress which once marked our society. But there have been attempts to revive him, such as this one above which updates his design a bit (note the tennis shoes) and adds a little blue buddy Reddy Flame. Yikes.