With Further Ado #209: Actual Comics at SDCC

There’s a certain number of critical conversations, many would categorize it as “moaning”, amongst longtime fans that San Diego Comic-Con isn’t about comics anymore.  Some fans of traditional comic get overwhelmed by all the media hype and complain that SDCC has lost its way.

Of course, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when industry publications, like Adweek, celebrate all the Pop-Ups surrounding the convention center.  I’m not sure I agree with their “Top Nine” Activations/Pop-Ups, but their recent listing is here.

I’m fascinated by everything at San Diego Comic-Con. I love the big ideas presented and promoted at the show, as well as the smaller, oddball collectibles, original art, and back issues.

So, my best shopping was with a back issue dealer who had “reader copies” of comics priced for a dollar.  (Reader copies simply refer to comics that aren’t in the pristine condition that many collectors seek out.) What a deal! Each comic cost only $2.50.  Let me celebrate these treasures that I rescued, and maybe you will agree that San Diego Comic-Con, while not exclusively about comics, still is a great place for comics.

Around The World Under the Sea – This is a 1964 Dell comic is based on a movie I never heard of. But maaaaaan, I wish I could’ve seen it at a drive-in!  It’s kind of Jules Verne-y. But it starred Shirley Eaton, who the whole world will always remember from Goldfinger, so it is sort of James Bond-y too.  Here’s the trailer.  The cover has all those things that teenage me and my teenage buddies needed in a movie: Scuba guys fighting, sea monsters and a girl in a bikini.  I was crestfallen when I realized the interior pages were by Jack Sparling. He’s never been my favorite. In his defense, I will say he just nails the Lloyd Bridges likenesses.

By time issue #3 of DC’s 1968 series Hawk and the Dove rolled around, creator Steve Ditko was long gone.  In this issue, Steve Skeates was the writer, and Gil Kane was the cover artist and penciler. (Kane is at the top of this game.)  But the real reason I wanted to rescue this issue from that bargain bin was because it has a full-page black & white house ad for issue #2 of Captain Action!  As many of you know, IDW and the Captain Action team just released the first ever collection of that amazing series!

House of Secrets #95 sports a wonderful Nick Cardy cover. Just all about his covers were wonderful, especially when he featured one of his signature blondes.  But it was actually the intense colors and the unusual pallet covers that grabbed me on this one. While most of the interior stories border on the ordinary and slip into the mundane, there is one brilliantly illustrated Nestor Redondo tale included.

There’s another retailer at SDCC who always has a nice selection of international comics. Sometimes they are so weird and wonky they have a charm all their own. I’m a big Shadow fan, and I was happy to find this 1976 issue of Serie Tidningen.  It reprints one of the old DC Shadow Kaluta stories. I can’t tell you how wonderful it looks in black & white.  Also included are a Jack Kirby Kamandi and Alfredo Alcala King Kong stories. What a treat to see these great talents “uncolored”. Of course, I’m a little rusty with my Swedish.

Next week – more ‘real comics’, albeit less traditional, at SDCC.