Collabs. All the cool kids in the business world, from tech start-up founders to crafter brewers, know all about “collabs”. (It took me a while to realize it’s short for “collaborations”.) These collabs are all about two companies (or individuals) partnering for a project, in order that they create something unique and memorable. Something that probably wouldn’t happen if each party had just worked on their own.
But comic people and geek culture know what these collabs really are.
They are Team-Ups!
I think my first “Team-Up” was issue #70 of The Brave and the Bold. This was the January 1967 issue; so, it was on sale during the height of the Batman ‘66 craze. There was one problem: it didn’t look like a pleasant collaboration to me. Two heroes, Batman and Hawkman (who was new to me back then) were beating the stuffing out of one another. In the background, a crashed Batmobile was still smoking. This was presumably the result of the Caped Crusader’s and the Winged Wonder’s fight. These two crimefighters were even pulling at each other’s masks, which must have been in direct conflict with some unwritten superhero code.
And most astonishing to me, as a child, was that they were fighting at night. I was kid who was always so angry with the tyranny of an early bedtime. I wanted to stay up late! I wanted to be able to go outside at night! Early bedtime was so unfair and oppressive! If only, like Batman, I could stay up late and kick the tar out of one of my Justice League teammates.
Once I got over that whole early bedtime thing, I soon realized that Batman would routinely team-up with other heroes just about every month in this comic series. But it wasn’t only in this particular comic series. Sometimes, these superheroes would team-up in very special adventures, like the wonderous issue where the Flash and Superman raced.
And in Marvel Comics, they were practically tripping over one another. On that side of the street, however, the team-ups usually started with a misunderstanding and an obligatory fight.
Comic team-ups have their own special visual language. Not only would the characters meet on a page, but even their logos would be juxtaposed on the covers. And on the splash pages too. I just loved all that.
Michael Eury has captured my childhood fascination with team-ups in his brilliant new book, The Team-Up Companion. I don’t think I’m the only one who liked team-ups. This book is an intoxicatingly detailed deep-dive into Silver and Bronze age team-ups in comics. Like all the very best TwoMorrows publications, this one is stuffed full of recaps, behind-the-scenes stories, insights from creators and historical anecdotes that you can’t find anywhere else.
That’s just one of the reasons why I’m especially honored to be moderating author Michael Eury’s Team-Up Companion Panel at Heroes Convention next month.
HeroesCon is a long-running comic con. In fact, it is the 3rd longest running convention in the nation. This wonderful event is helmed by a brilliant retailer/passionate fan named Shelton Drum. Of note, Shelton always speaks to my ITHACON class and delivers an informative and inspirational talk that never fails to get my college students excited to plan and manage ITHACON.
The Team-Up Companion Panel will be held Friday, June 16, at 2:00 p.m. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a 20th Anniversary Back Issue Panel that will take place Saturday, June 17, at 11:30 a.m.
Look forward to seeing you there. Or, as they used to say, “B & B seeing you”!