With Further Ado #025: Who put the words into my comics?

With Further Ado #025: Who put the words into my comics?

Just a few years after Marvel re-licensed the rights to publish a science fiction property – Star Wars – there’s been another minor hullabaloo about Marvel re-licensing another old property – Conan the Barbarian. I decided to jump into it all and enjoyed the first issue.

I really didn’t care for the new logo, but everything else about Marvel’s new Conan the Barbarian #1 was fine. To be fair, the bar for this comic has been set so high by so many stellar past creators: Thomas, Windsor-Smith, Buscema, Jusko, Waid, Kane, Adams, Truman, Dixon, Alcatena, Nord…the list is long.  In fact, one of my guilty pleasures is picking up old issues of Savage Sword of Conan with stories featuring Rudy Nebres or Alfredo Alcala inks over John Buscema pencils. Those are spectacular.

One very pleasant surprise in the new Conan comic was the prose story excerpt. It’s an adventure called Black Starlight by John C. Hocking, and will be serialized over the next 12 issues. It seems to be part of integrated promotion with publisher Perilous Worlds.

For a bookworm like me, there’s something special about reading prose in a comic.  It extends the experience and allows one to enjoy the comic longer. There’s also that element of it making it seem like a better value.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #025: Who put the words into my comics?”

With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?

With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?

I get invigorated each time I visit my friend Bill and he shows me his astonishing comic strip collection. It’s like a trip to the Twilight Zone of Sunday Funnies. I still find it hard to believe that someone in my little town has this incredible collection. Of course, 99.9% of the locals think he “just has a lot junk”. When I view his stuff, I feel a little guilty that I don’t pay him an admission fee.

It starts and ends with Books. A guy named Books, to be precise. We sometimes called one of my high school buddies “Books” because he worked at the library. Ok, I admit, we weren’t the most original thinkers.  My nickname was “Crash”, by the way. Guess why I earned that one.

But we really need to focus on this column.  That collector, Bill, is Books’ dad. Since I’ve moved back to the Finger Lakes region, I’ve renewed a lot of friendships.  Old teachers, old prom dates, etc…you know how it goes. And Books’ father, Bill, is one of those folks with whom I’ve renewed a friendship.

It turns out, Bill owns a truly incredible comic strip collection. I had no idea about his love for comics back when I was in high school.  He has original art, collected editions, autographs, reference books and more. His original art collection is deep – everything from Hal Foster to Frank Robbins to Chester Gould and back again. 

This Christmas, I gifted him a copy of The Complete Kreigh Collins Volume 1: Mitzi McCoy. Longtime readers know that I’ve been excited about this project for a while.  The author, Brian Collins, collaborated with Lost Art Books’ publisher Joe Procopio to methodically collect Kreigh Collins’ first comic strip, Mitzi McCoy.  I helped out with the marketing and also contributed the Afterward.  You can still get a copy at your local comic shop or here, but this column isn’t meant to be a hard sell.

During my Yuletide delivery visit, Bill pulled out a copy of the book he was reading. He enthusiastically explained how fascinating it was and asked if I’d like to borrow it. It’s a gorgeous IDW hardcover reprinting old strips in that same format that they publish comic strip collections of Steve Canyon, Terry and the Pirates, Superman, Rip Kirby and Spider-Man.

(I’ve always been an IDW reader and fan, but now that I’m working on a top-secret project with them – to be announced this spring -you’ll soon see why I’m even more of an IDW fan!)

The book is Red Barry, Undercover Man by Will Gould. But I had never heard of the character, Red Barry, or the creator, Will Gould. Have you?  Continue reading “With Further Ado #024: Why Didn’t You Tell Me About Red Barry?”

With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld

With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld

There are a few select long-lived comic characters who always seem to bring out the very best in creators. Marvel’s Daredevil comes to mind. One can easily list a “Who’s who” of top comic creators and realize they all brought their A-game their time on the series.  Just off the top of my head, I think of talented folks like Wood, Colan, Miller, Nord, Bendis, Waid, Isabella, Rivera, Samnee and Soule and wistfully remember each of their stints on the title.

Hawkman is another character with that same pedigree.  Originally created during the 40s, during the Silver Age when two legendary artists, Joe Kubert and Murphy Anderson each left an indelible stamp of creative excellence during their runs on the series.  Top creators followed in their impressive footsteps, providing memorable work – each arguably at the top of their game – Truman, Gold, Ostrander, Nolan, Morales, Sook, Palmiotti, Isabella (there he is again!), Grey, Chaykin, Simonson…. the list goes on and on.

So, it’s not surprising that Hawkman has inspired great passion among comic fans. It’s always amazing how certain fans carry the torch and pass along their personal passion to other fans.  Sometimes they almost act as an official marketing department.  That’s why I wanted to catch up with one Hawkman fan named Tim Board, who rules the roost of…

…Hawkworld Continue reading “With Further Ado #023: Winged Passion – Tim Board’s Hawkworld”

With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday

With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday

On several Christmases, Santa gifted me a plethora of Batman toys. My favorite Bat-gifts? Well, I especially loved the Trans-o-gram Batmobile.  My dad and I even built a cardboard Batcave for it!  (#BestDadEver) I always yearned for the Batman Captain Action set, but Santa could never find one. My (wonderful) mother ended up sewing one for me. (#BestMomEver) And I am pretty sure I looked quite dashing pedaling during rush hour in the living room, riding the Marx Batmobile.

(By the way, the commercial for that one is classic. Check it out here!)

After a few more Christmases, I still like Batman but I’d graduate from toys to books. The quintessential Bat-book for me is still Batman from the 30s to the 70s, a collection of stories wrapped up in that gorgeous Infantino & Anderson dustjacket.  But many subsequent Batbooks would follow on many subsequent Christmases. And now I really love giving Bat-books too. It’s never too early for brainwashing, after all.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday”

With Further Ado #022: Aquaman- The Mainstream Press Is All Wet

With Further Ado #022: Aquaman- The Mainstream Press Is All Wet

This morning I read yet another article, this one in The New York Times, that claimed the character Aquaman has always been a joke in the superhero world.   I’m not buying it. I don’t think you should either.

Maybe it was Jerry Seinfeld who started it. Maybe it was before that, I’m not really sure.

The fact of the matter was that Aquaman was a survivor.  When all the DC (National) heroes fell by the wayside after World War II, only the big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), along with Green Arrow and Aquaman soldiered on.  After all, some hero had to keep the the oceans safe from octopus thieves and the like.

Ooops – I guess I just made fun of Aquaman too. But when I was a kid, I never would have.

For me Aquaman burst onto the Saturday morning cartoon scene as part of the Superman-Aquaman Hour of Adventure.  And what an adventure it was!   Aquaman, and Aqualad protected the undersea domed city of Atlantis, although they never seemed to spend any time there. They kicked butt against underwater foes in six-minute increments (the cartoons didn’t waste any time) under the stentorian narration of Ted Knight.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #022: Aquaman- The Mainstream Press Is All Wet”

With Further Ado #020: Were the 90s the Best Decade EverrrrRRRR?

With Further Ado #020: Were the 90s the Best Decade EverrrrRRRR?

I used to joke that I didn’t need to participate in all that 80s nostalgia because I was there the first time. And it seems like it never went away. Upon reflection, I think I’ve heard that old Violent Femmes song Blister in the Sun more in the past year than I did in 1983.

The 90s are a whole different kettle of fish. I was kinda busy then and love to look back on that decade. So I’m grateful that TwoMorrows has just published the 1990s edition of the long-running series: The American Comic Book Chronicles. Each volume has been fantastic and this one looks to carry on that standard of excellence.

And of course, this week “With Further Ado” is all about Yuletide Gift. I thought this would be another good book to recommend. I caught up with writer Jason Sacks just to make sure. Spoiler alert: he confirmed my suspicions…it’s a fantastic book for gifting. Here’s what he had to say:  Continue reading “With Further Ado #020: Were the 90s the Best Decade EverrrrRRRR?”

With Further Ado #: 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time again!  Looking for that last minute gift? Or looking for a last minute gift to put on Santa’s list for you? Here’s some suggestions, some you’d expect from me and a few surprises.

THE LOST ART OF KREIGH COLLINS
Volume 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young.

If you listen to John Siuntres excellent Word Balloon Podcast, you may have just learned about this book. Siuntres interviewed the man behind it all, the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins.  You can give it a listen here, and I’d recommend every episode of this long-running podcast. 

I first stumbled across Kreigh Collins while researching at the Syracuse University Archives and I immediately became a fan.  Lost Art Books just launched the initial volume in a new series devoted to this underappreciated illustrator and comic artist collecting (for the first time) his syndicated Sunday strip Mitzi McCoy in its entirety.

Kreigh Collins (1908-74) had a wanderlust that led to a lifetime of adventures, whether it was leaving his humble midwestern roots to study the masters in the Louvre and hone his craft painting on the banks of the Seine or getting knifed in Morocco while boating and painting his way through North Africa. But equally strong was the draw of his adopted home in Michigan, which is where he launched and set his first syndicated newspaper strip, Mitzi McCoy, in 1948. It didn’t take long, though, for wanderlust to strike again, rendering Mitzi but a precursor to Collins’ eventual 20-year run on the picaresque adventure comic, Kevin the BoldLost Art Books celebrates these beautiful beginnings with this first-ever complete collection of Collins’ Mitzi McCoy.

Drawn as well as scripted by Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume.

Available  for $34.95 at comic shops and directly from the publisher here.

 

EAGLEMOSS AND GIMCRACKS

I love reading about the origins of the modern Yuletide Season, and every year I trot out my copy of The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum. It’s a great read and seems to have spawned a mini-trend in holiday publishing. In this book, Nissenbaum talked a bit about about Gimcracks.  I’m still not sure what a Gimcrack is, but I think it’s meant to mean some sort of novelty or treasure.  And for modern equivalent, I kind of think of the amazing collectibles from Eaglemoss.  They really are miniature treasures.

Eaglemoss, an entrepreneurial UK company with a top-notch US team, has been on the leading edge of producing licensed merchandise for quite some time.  Here’s a few of their most impressive recent releases:

Star Trek

Maybe it’s because my desk is always so uncluttered (a-hem!), but I just love the model Star Trek starships that Eaglemoss has been producing for several years now.


From the new show, Star Trek: Discovery, comes the USS Buran. It’s the ship that the enigmatic Captain Lorca was on and like that character, it looks downright mean.   It  is $54.95 if you order directly from Eaglemoss and at fine comic shops nationwide

Eaglemoss’ new XL editions are 8 ½”  to 10 ½” inches long, which is oversized compared to the rest of their line.  My favorites are the USS Reliant (which also was essentially a “bad guy ship”) and a quintessential Star Trek vessel, the Enterprise 1701 A.   The XL editions list for $74.95 and are available from Eaglemoss here and here.

 

 

The Star Trek Shipyards book is a place to get lost for a few hours.  It’s a virtual encyclopedia of Star Trek vehicles.   It’s the type of book that’s tough to but down but easy to pick up, and you can do it out here. The book comes with a slipcase and a small starship model, all for $49.95.

ONE OF THOSE OTHER SPACE SHOWS

 

But in space, or the TV version of space, it’s not only about Star Trek!  Eaglemoss just launched their new Battlestar Galactica ships. The Viper, which always seemed liked the space versions of a WWII Corsair to me, was always a favorite. It’s usually $25, but for this holiday season Eaglemoss has it on sale here for just $21.21.

 

 

 

 

 

DC COMIC HEROES

Speaking of WWII, the Bombshell Wonder Woman figure channels the classic “We Can Do It’ pose from J. Howard Miller’s classic patriotic poster. This one has been reduced to $17.95 so get it while you can now!

 

Eaglemoss also offers gorgeous busts. Their DC line is professional, spot-on and bring a a sense of fun to it all. The standouts are for me are their busts for Nightwing and Harley Quinn.  Each are usually about $25 bucks, but they are on sale for $21.21 here and here.

 

 


PULP REPRINTS for the BATMAN FAN IN YOUR LIFE

Do you need something for a Batman fan who has everything already? You know the type.  Maybe you are the type.  You never know what to get them because they already have it.

Here’s a suggestion that I bet will be new to them: The Black Bat reprints from Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books.  I just started reading one (“The Black Bat’s Crusade” in #4) and it is way too much fun.  This adventure is a little bit Batman, a little bit Daredevil and a little bit of The Shadow. Each issue reprints two vintage adventures and they are all available at Adventure House.

MODERN PULP from AIRSHIP 27 –

THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN GRAVES  by Thomas McNulty

Airship27 publishes many modern pulp thrillers each year. This one features Captain Elliot Graves and his ship, The Reaper’s Scythe sailing the exotic waters of the South Pacific.  But the mystery starts in 1944, as Captain Graves has disappeared without a trace, his ship supposedly sinking off the coast of Australia with all hands lost. Eight years later, reporter Bill Harrison finds Graves living in Honolulu and manages to persuade him to recount the events of his last and greatest adventure. The legendary sea captain then reveals for the first time what actually happened on a remote South Sea island that changed his life forever.

Writer Thomas McNulty spins a fast-paced tale of two-fisted men, beautiful women and lush island paradises where both heaven and hell await. My Uncle Mike just read it too and even he said he liked it!  Available for just $16.99 here

 

 

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And remember, it’s not all about stuff either.  I always like to suggest OXFAM as a choice to consider for pulp culture geeks – they do great work and their origin story seems like it’s right out a comic. Learn more here.  And in the meantime, I hope you and yours have a blessed Yuletide Season.

With Further Ado #018: These Savage Shores

With Further Ado #018: These Savage Shores

Happy Krampus Day!  And in the spirit of these wonky holiday, I’ve got a good one for you.

I remember my frustration trying to explain to my daughters a difficult concept. It was the notion of a trade embargo, one of the confusing, and boring parts of one of those during Star Wars prequels. I really tried to get them interested, but the Catto Girls never really warmed up to Star Wars.  So… when I learned that Vault Comics’ new comic series These Savage Shores was about establishing trade routes in India, I was skeptical.

But there’s more to it than that. There’s a vampire. And a vampire hunter. There’s strange beasts, royal intrigue and unfamiliar locales.  The series includes an exotic dancer who’s much more than she seems.  This title is a breath of fresh air and after reading issue #1, I was hooked.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #018: These Savage Shores”

With Further Ado #017: When Steve Rude Almost Saved Christmas

With Further Ado #017: When Steve Rude Almost Saved Christmas

Back in the early 90s, we needed to save Christmas and I almost got Steve Rude to do it.

I was in brand management when I was starting out my marketing career. I had the great fortune to be assigned to Nabisco’s OREO brand.  It was a lot of fun.  I worked on the launch of Mini OREO, introduced the Halloween OREO and a Christmas variant with red crème.  In those days, changing anything about Nabisco’s brand was a serious exercise only undertaken with the most serious thought and planning.   This is in stark contrast today, when every season there are several more flavor variants to the brand.

Christmas and cookies always go together, and one of the annual traditions for the brand was to create a collectible OREO tin. These were tins with a wistful, family-focused Rockewellian painting that would be sold with a 16 oz.  package of OREO inside it.  From a marketing perspective it served many purposes: it was one more reason for someone to buy OREO, the retailers had an excuse to build a display and we even had fans who collected them each year.

We typically hired a commercial illustrator to provide the painting of a family eating OREO cookies by the Christmas Tree. They were perfectly fine, but I had the idea that I wanted to step it up with one of my favorite artists.

Steve Rude had burst onto the scene the decade before with his brilliant Nexus series and other comics work.  His work was always exciting and fun to look at fun to look at, but one couldn’t help but be struck by both his brilliant design sense, and his ability to render expressive figures.  Many of the covers would be painted, while the interiors would showcase his impressive traditional comics work.  His paintings are what sparked my idea.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #017: When Steve Rude Almost Saved Christmas”

With Further Ado #016: De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum

With Further Ado #016: De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum

After the death of Stan Lee last week, hard-core fans joined the world at large to celebrate the accomplishments and mourn the passing of the charismatic, larger-than-life figure. More than any other creator, Stan Lee embodied the fun of comics, and specifically Marvel comics.

Eulogies and retrospectives were everywhere you turned.  Stan Lee was featured on TV, Radio and social media outlets. Those big things that marketing people call “outdoor media” but that the rest of the world calls “billboards” featured Stan Lee.  Even the local video store (yes, some video stores still operate in Central New York State)  got into the act with a tribute.

The Romans had a saying: De mortuis nil nisi bonum, that’s still use today, adapted as the admonishment: “Don’t speak ill of the dead.”  As a society we generally adhere to this axiom in polite circles.

That’s why I was especially surprised last week when Joshua Johnson, the radio/podcast host of NPR’s 1A, asked his guests about a controversial part of Stan Lee’s story.  Many fans feel that Lee self-aggrandized himself to the detriment of his co-creators.   Such fans categorize Lee’s actions as shameful, especially considering the riches he earned while so many of his Marvel collaborators struggled financially. 

Many comic lovers felt left out of last week’s celebrations, buttoning their lips and resisting their urges to speak ill of Lee, despite their intense frustrations and inner need to set the record straight.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #016: De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum”