Category: With Further Ado

With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi

With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi

Is it ever permissible to review a movie before you see it? And if so, can I give it four stars ahead of time?

I have yet to see Disney/Marvel’s latest superhero movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings . But given the track record of Kevin Feige and his teams, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.  It’s looks to be both fun and important.

And you know what? A mostly Asian cast is a good start to rectifying wrongs of the past.  This movie blew past all early estimates and scooped up in nearly $100 million at the U.S. box office over the Labor Day weekend. Its now one of the top-grossing movies of the year. Not too shabby, right?

My one worry is that this movie doesn’t seem to be about my old pal Shang Chi and his friends, lovers and antagonists. I am glad that this character is now given Cinematic Validations, but back in the 70s, Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu was one badass title. It quickly became a favorite and a must-read.  Like Conan the Barbarian, MoKF (as we called it back then) existed in its own corner of the inter-connected Marvel Universe, mostly independent of the usual cross-over nonsense. And it had a tone all its own.

Shang Chi was the protagonist, but he also served as our entry point to the ongoing spy stories. Shang would often refer to his adventures as “games of death and deceit”.  It was a sprawling engaging tapestry: a James Bond world with nefarious villains, creative henchmen (ala Goldfinger’s Oddjob) and over-the-top plots.  The love interest was the beautiful – but deadly – Leiko Wu and Shang’s comrades in arms were Brits like Black Jack Tarr and other spies – pulled from the pulps or created as offspring of famous fictional characters.

In this old comic series, Shang Chi was the wayward son of master villain Fu Manchu, a pulp villain.  As a kid, my local library, the legendary Seymour Library, had several Fu Manchu adventures in the mystery section. When I found them I thought I had discovered treasure. I loved reading them. Continue reading “With Further Ado #162: I Miss My Old Pals From Shang Chi”

With Further Ado #161: Jes’ Who Is This Hombre Called Tex?

With Further Ado #161: Jes’ Who Is This Hombre Called Tex?

Any longtime comic fan is called upon, now and again, to explain “comic stuff” to regular folk. Comic fans often get asked to provide the back story about a particular character who’s made it onto the Silver Screen, or for some insider insights on a guy like Stan Lee or Jack Kirby.  And if that fan is anything like me, it’s hard not to pontificate and go on for hours about all the trivia and historical knowledge that’s rumbling inside my fanboy brain, looking for the opportunity to get out, and to show off.

And then, all too often, the regular folk’s eyes will glaze over, they’ll be hopelessly lost and try wrestle the information to the ground and force fit it into convenient soundbites.

“Oh, I get it. He’s the guy who drew the comic books, right?” Or “Now I see, he flies kinda like Batman, right?”

The tables were turned on me (imagine that) when I was reading the introductions to a glorious new book Tex: the Magnificent Outlaw.  I don’t know much about this character Tex or the men behind his creation, but there’s many people who do and there’s a lot to learn.

I kind of knew that Tex is a cowboy from Italian comics, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. Here’s a primer from the Kickstarter earlier this year for this impressive book:

Who are we and who is Tex?

You may know us (Epicenter Comics) from publishing American editions of works by legendary Italian publishing house Sergio Bonelli Editore, and series such as Zagor, Dylan Dog, Magic Wind, Dragonero and of course, Tex!

Tex Willer, the most legendary western comic book hero in the world, who first appeared on Italian news-stands in 1948 and has been published continually ever since, comes again in English in a breathtaking new story, in a beautiful, oversize, hard cover, 252-page deluxe edition courtesy of Epicenter Comics.

With a self-contained, all-ages story by the main Tex writer and editor, Mauro “The Bos(s)” Boselli (whom those familiar with Epicenter Comics had already chance to meet on pages of Zagor: Terror from the Sea, Zagor: Voodoo Vendetta and Tex: Patagonia), and stunning artwork by maestro Stefano Andreucci (Zagor: Terror from the Sea), TEX: THE MAGNIFICENT OUTLAW (Signature Edition) offers us a glimpse into Tex in his younger, pre-ranger days, or better, his (magnificent) outlaw days! As Tex is framed for the crime he did not commit, he will stop at nothing to clear his name, and in the process he will both, teach and learn some hard-won life lessons. This will be our second Tex book published, and third Tex book published in English ever.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #161: Jes’ Who Is This Hombre Called Tex?”

With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?

With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?

Recently, DC Comics made a lot of changes, after the last time they made a lot of changes, and I thought I was kind done with them. But you know what? I find myself enjoying quite a few of their titles.

  • For example, I’m digging Swamp Thing, especially with that great Mike Perkins art . Who would have ever thought that a character with an impressive lineage of top artists (Wrightson, Yeates, Bissette, Paquette – the list goes on and on) could ever find another artist on that level? They did with Perkins. His work is top-notch.
  • Detective Comics -While the main Batman title has been become a little too creepy for me, I have been picking up the last few issues of ‘ It’s refreshing to see the trials and tribulations of a downsized Bruce Wayne.
  • Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert are killing it on Batman: The Detective. I believe that Andy Kubert’s art is better than ever. Every page is in the “astonishing” category.

Wing and a Prayer

The best kept little secret at DC might be the new Nightwing series. In fact, it might be the most enjoyable comic DC’s publishing right now.

I saw a social media post from one the world’s top comic shop retailers, Marc Hammond. He was extolling the virtues of this Nightwing series just as I was preparing this column.  He’s a guy who knows his comics and keeps up with everything in the industry.

“The creative team on Nightwing is absolutely knocking it out of the park,” said Marc Hammond, Co-Owner of Aw Yeah Comics.* “Every issue immediately jumps to the top of the stack. It has a classic Dick Grayson feel to it while definitely forging a new path, placing Nightwing prominently at the forefront of the DC pantheon.” Continue reading “With Further Ado #160: What is the Best Comic DC Is Publishing?”

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

With Further Ado #159: Summer Beach Reading …with the Saint

Oftentimes when we think about characters like Batman, James Bond or Harry Potter, we imagine they will go on and on ad infinitum. Despite the overwhelming merchandising juggernauts that these properties have become, that’s not really the case.

Take Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. This character, a devil-may-care adventurer, debuted in a story called Meet the Tiger in 1928. He then went on to a long career of battling bad guys in more novels, magazines, radio shows, TV shows, movies and even comics.

But I feel if I offered $100 to the first of my college students who could tell me (without looking it up on the web) who the character the Saint is – I’d still have that C-note!

I was introduced to The Saint through the long-running  60sTV show. This was, in some ways, a multi-season audition for the star, Roger Moore, for his subsequent role as James Bond.  Moore was charming, focused and fun – just right for the part.

The series focused on light mysteries and adventures  in glamorous cities all around the world.  The Saint would usually romance a different co-star each week. And one of the cleverest bits of the show was a recurring gag right before the opening theme song. Invariably, some random character would recognize the ‘famous Simon Templar, aka The Saint” and call him out.  (Simon Templar was kind of famous in the world he inhabited.) An animated halo would magically appear over  Moore’s head and then he’d notice the animation, look up at it and shrug in resignation. He was definitely in on the joke. It was all very meta before meta was a thing.

And I have another thought for this week.  I think it’s always great to read a mystery or two during the summertime. On the beach, if possible. And I want to make it easy for you all to do just that.

So, this week I’m featuring the Saint + a mystery story. The following pages are from an old issue of Life Magazine* that present a comic (but with photos instead of illustrations) of a Saint mystery adventure.

For this drama, The Saint is played by the author Leslie Charteris. It’s set in the glamorous setting of Palm Springs. And it’s a “fair play mystery”, so see if you can figure out who the villain is before The Saint does!

*thanks to Professor Laurence Maslon for the heads up!

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

The latest comic from Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, Groo Meets Tarzan, is brilliant.  Tom Yeates is also along for the ride, and if you, like me, are ravenous for more of his artwork beyond the weekly Prince Valiant Sunday strip, his contributions to this one won’t disappoint you.  The first issue kicks off with a double page spread showcasing the main floor of San Diego Comic-Con and it had me laughing out loud and missing it all -both at the same time.

To be sure, San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International, has grown to become a sprawling, wonderous event. It will be fantastic when things ‘get back to normal’ for this annual celebration.  So… while we’re waiting for that, maybe now is the perfect time to learn a little about the origins of this event?

The new podcast Comic-Con Begins, is informative, illuminating and just plain fun.  I had the pleasure of catching up with Mathew Klickstein to get the lowdown on it all.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: Why do you think there is such an interest in comic cons and specifically in the history of comic cons?

Mathew Klickstein: One of the many reasons we thought a history of “the” Comic-Con would be something worth investing massive amounts of blood-sweat-n-tears into is that there really hadn’t been a history like this put together before, at least not in such an extensive, extremely deep-dive investigative/exploratory way. Certainly not involving the entire force of folks who made it all happen back in the day.

There’ve been some great books – mostly academic/scholarly or personal memoir – about cons and fandom over the years, along with a handful of well-crafted documentaries and the like. But we just hadn’t seen too much in the way of such a long-form history, which again, was a principal motivator for us to plunge into the project with such breakneck insane passion, and certainly a major factor in why we wanted to do all we could to get it done “right.”

We wanted to fill in that lacuna, the gap in our shared cultural history. We aspired throughout the process to achieve that with Comic-Con Begins.

As for interest in the conventions themselves? I’m hoping too that that interest has been, if anything, bolstered by this past year+ of the lack of their happening in-person (or, in many cases, at all).

That this last year+, I hope and believe, has reminded people why a true in-person, “I’m there with the rest of the fans all together in a finite space” singular experience of being at a con is something we truly need as fans, as geeks, as “misfits” or whatnot who connect with members of their “tribe” through certain pop culture and creative/artistic entities and that going to conventions to see old friends and enjoy these experiences together, in person, is not simply a luxury. It’s something we desperately require as a social species. (Fan or otherwise!)

Question 2:

EC: And even though it’s not the biggest comic convention, many would argue that San Diego Comic-Con is still the most important. Do you think that’s true? Why or why not? Continue reading “With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein”

With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

With Further Ado #157: A Kiss is Just a Kiss…?

I just had Ken Quattro, the Comics Detective, come speak to one of my summer classes. You may also recognize his name as the recent recipient of an Eisner Award for his ground-breaking book, Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books. It’s an enthralling and important deep dive into the lives of several black artists.

And just like every time Ken rolls up his shirtsleeves and gets down to business, it’s meticulously researched. Ken brands himself as a comic book detective, but like so many focused writers, he’s an exceptional historian.

I love writing about comics history for publications like TwoMorrow’s Back Issue Magazine and Overstreet’s Comic Book Price Guide, but I’m not in the same league as a historian like Ken.

But having written that, I think I found something new in the pop culture milestones to which historians usually refer.

Kiss Me, Captain

The original Star Trek TV series was groundbreaking in so many ways – everything from thoughtful, allegorical episodes to anticipating devices like cellphones and voice activated smart speakers.

Star Trek was also gutsy enough to debut the first interracial kiss on network TV. Granted, the characters, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhuru did not kiss of their free will – the bad guys made them kiss one another. But still, Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura’s kiss was a milestone.

Back in 2016, Hollywood Reporter reflected on the milestone this way:

There were reasons for the cast about this TV first – the show was in its third season, and cancellation was imminent. But it was NBC that was reluctant to pull the trigger. Network execs were worried that the interracial scene would upset Southern affiliates, so an effort was made to shoot coverage where Kirk and Uhura don’t actually lock lips. “We did a few takes, but Bill was deliberately trying to flub it”, recalls (Nichelle) Nichols. “At one point, he even crossed his eyes to make me laugh.”

(To be fair, as a kid seeing Shatner behave like a horsey was the part that really bothered me, but that’s another story.)

In comics, the first interracial kiss was in Warren Publishing ‘s black-and-white horror-comics magazine, Creepy #43, published in January 1972. The kiss was part of the story, “The Men Who Called Him Monster” by writer Don McGregor and artist Luis Garcia.

For color comics, the first interracial kiss is generally considered to be in Marvel’s Amazing Adventures #31 from July 1975. This comic showcased a “War of the Worlds” series, where a hero named Killraven and his merry band adventured in a post-apocalyptic world of which H.G. Wells could only dream. Don McGregor wrote this series too. It’s illustrated by the alarmingly talented P. Craig Russel. Don recently told the story behind the story here.

It makes sense that Don McGregor wrote these stories. He’s a brilliant writer who always looked forward and delighted in writing about the human condition. He’s a kind guy full of warmth, enthusiasm and all the attributes that make good men become great ones.

He’s also a hopeless romantic. For my money, he’s written some of the very best love scenes in comics. And if you have the good fortune to meet him in person, he brings the definition of charming to a whole new level.

You might get the impression that I’m gushing about Don McGregor. And you’d be right. I think the absolute world of Don McGregor as a writer and as a person.

An Unrecognized Milestone

Even so – I think I uncovered a historic milestone. It’s in DC’s color comic, Korak, Son of Tarzan #54 published October-November 1973.

This series was all about Tarzan’s son, Korak, on a long quest to find his abducted girlfriend, Miriam. As you can imagine, he had many adventures along the way. In issue #54’s story, “Blood Brothers”, written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Murphy Anderson, Korak makes a new friend, Mnumbo. After a few close scrapes together, Mnumbo introduces his lovely sister, Salamma, to Korak.

It’s easy to see that Salamma is smitten with Korak. And either she or artist Murphy Anderson read a lot of Prince Valiant comics, because she performs a fetching campfire dance that may have been inspired by Aleta’s (Valiant’s girlfriend and eventual wife) most famous dance.

And as the adventure ends, and Korak is getting ready to ride into the sunset (well, to walk into the sunset, but you know what I mean), they share a passionate kiss.

I believe that this is the first interracial kiss in color comics.

And you know what? I think there was almost the second interracial kiss in color comics in the very next issue. In that adventure, an Asian woman, Lotus, is embracing Korak and is about to plant one on him until a bad guy interrupts them.

Let’s Get Serious for a Moment

I think this is important. In the early 70s, as a kid, it was important to me to be shown love ought to be colorblind. We didn’t say “love is love” back then, but that was idea.

And to a young fan like me, it was important that my favorite creators, guys like Don McGregor and Murphy Anderson, showed the way. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare. There were no cover blurbs proclaiming these were special collectible issues. It was more about measuring the true worth of someone and following your heart.

On a personal level, one of my favorite uncles, (he was actually a great-uncle), was my Uncle John. He was Italian by way of Sicily, and married my Aunt Ruby, a wonderful Jamaican woman. He was white and was black. As an adult, I’ve learned that he suffered, and fought, bias and prejudice. But he never let the struggles show. He was consistantly confident, fun-loving and in love with his wife.

I hope that 20-somethings reading this think “what is the big deal?” And I hope that their kids think it’s even less of a big deal, and the next generation thinks it’s even less of a big deal.

For my part, I’m so appreciative I had folks like my Uncle John, Murphy Anderson and Don McGregor to help me get my head on straight at an early age. And I’m grateful now for guys like Ken Quattro researching and spotlighting the lives of brave creators who often suffered discrimination.

One last thing: go find someone you love and kiss ‘em!

* * *

Just to be thorough, there is one technicality: some consider the very first interracial kiss in a color comic to be in a Golden Age Blackhawk story where the a dying woman’s request, a kiss from the hero Blackhawk, was platonically granted. The woman was Asian, and Blackhawk seemed pretty WASPy (even though he was really Polish).

 

With Further Ado #156: The Newness of the Nine

Steve Ellis is one of those artists that you can admire in many ways. The easy way is to just admire his lovely art. Everything he creates has such emotion and passion. A couple of years ago I purchased one of his convention sketchbooks and I was enthralled – his stuff looks great in black and white.   During the pandemic, he was doing live drawing sessions online, and it was a treat – and an education – to see his illustrations come to life.

The Nine #0 cover by Steve Ellis

The other way to admire Steve Ellis is through his thoughtfulness and ability to find ‘the next thing’. He’s always evaluating the business landscape and working to find the next opportunities. (I teach entrepreneur classes and that’s always one of the key mindsets we try to imbue into the students’ mindset.)

I was thrilled to find out that Ellis is part of a new project called The Nine. It’s from a forward-thinking group called InterPop. Here’s their official description:

InterPop is a digital comics, gaming, and collectibles company building the next generation of fan experiences. InterPop works with leading creatives, gamers, artists, musicians, and brands to redefine fandom through digital collectibles and experiences. InterPop is the publisher of Emergents, a new comics universe with three original series (Emergents Presents; The Nine; and #ZoeMG), and the creator of a new TCG based on the Emergents universe. InterPop is also the creator of Play with Brio, a skill games platform, and MinterPop, an NFT marketplace. For more information, please visit interpop.io

The Nine #0 cover by Mike Allred.

This is an ambitious group and there’s a lot here. Emergents is a new comics universe from President & Publisher of InterPop, Brian David Marshall and Group Editor, Rachel Gluckstern. Writer Will Pfeifer provides the story. The comic’s cover and interior art is by the aforementioned Steve Ellis. The zero issue will kick off the ongoing series for The Nine and introduce some of the characters in this new shared universe.

And there’s a lot more top talent involved. Artists for variant covers include Amanda Conner, Colleen Doran, David Lapham and Bill Sienkiewicz.

A Creative Launch

The team is trying something new. Again, this is from the press release:

Issue #0 of The Nine, the first NFT comic book in the Emergents universe, will premiere at InterPop Block Party on July 17th and will be available for free to attendees via the InterPop e-reader. All of the ongoing titles will be made available as Free-to-Read comics in the e-reader as they are released and also offered as NFT editions.

True digital ownership of an Emergents comic series issue unlocks new experiences for comics fans. NFT collectors and readers will be able to vote on the future of the Emergents universe on topics ranging from the cosmetic to the cosmic. This means fans may choose which characters live and which ones die — and what costume they are wearing when it happens. It also means that fans can trade or sell their NFT copies of InterPop’s comics just like they can with physical comics.

It’s a fascinating overlap of comics, gaming and crypto currency. Of interest?  There’s more info available at Interpop.

Here are some preview pages of the comic: Continue reading “With Further Ado #156: The Newness of the Nine”

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

Slowly, ever so cautiously, things are getting back to normal.  This was a big weekend for movies as Marvel’s Black Widow debuted in both theaters and on the Disney+ Streaming app.  Variety reported that this movie generated $80 million in the theaters domestically (far beyond any other post-pandemic release) and another $60 million via Disney Plus Premier Access, where you had to fork over another $30 bucks.

That worked well for my brothers and their families, who are vacationing together and created a fun shared experience.

I have no idea what that bodes for in-theater movies vs. seeing them on streamers.  I will say it was a bit odd to see an ad for an Amazon series (Tomorrow War)  before the Black Widow theatrical movie that my wife and I attended.

But all in all, it felt really good to be in a theater again. Even the annoying people in the theater weren’t really annoying – it was so pleasant to be enjoying a movie in a social setting again.

“It was good to be back in a theater, in the dark, with a crowd. It didn’t matter what the movie was,” said Steve Rotterdam of AfterShock Comics and Bonfire Agency. It seems likes that was the overall reaction to seeing movies in the theater.

Professor Larry Maslon of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University made it back into the theater too:

So, in the summertime, our family decamps to a small town on the North Fork of Long Island that has only one movie theater.  Until the summer of 2020, of course, we saw all our summer movies there, and that means opening day of all the MCU movies.  Last week, I took my 13-year-old Miles and his pal to see the opening of Black Widow. Unlike our MCU excursions in New York City, where there are hundreds of fanboys in the debut audience, this weekend I was the only fanboy in a small audience of, say, 25 (and Miles, but only sort of because he’s more grown-up than I).  When the requisite MCU fan-service Easter egg joke appeared halfway through Black Widow (no spoilers–figure it out yourselves, it’s a heck of a reference), I shrieked with laughter. 

After the movie, Miles was furious with me:  “Dad, you always do that at a Marvel movie–you’re the only one laughing at these in-jokes.  It’s so embarrassing.” 

“Yes,” I replied, “But you only noticed because we just started going back to the movies.”

Back to the CONS?

It was a busy weekend for me, as I also attended my first live comic con in forever too. Ken Wheaton, a comics pro who’s never lost his excitement for collecting, launched Rochester’s newest comic convention, The Empire Comic Fest.  Upstate New York has a rich history of wonderful cons, and there was definitely an impatience to get things going again.

Emil Novak of Buffalo is holding a convention there next Sunday, and long-time “Convention Maestro” Teddy Hanes has several conventions on the calendar too.

It was refreshing to be back at a convention.  This one was focused on back issues, with dealers selling high value books.  A strong retailer from Buffalo, Dave and Adams, also exhibited, and it was encouraging to see and hear their enthusiasm.

I found a few treasures there – two Big Little Books (I’ve been looking for that Space Ghost one for years and years) and on issue of DC’s Korak, Son of Tarzan. I do believe this issue is a bit of a landmark and I’m eager to write about it next week.

As you can see from the photos, a good time was had by all. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be at a local comic convention?

 


 

 

 

With Further Ado #154:  En Garde!

With Further Ado #154: En Garde!

 When I was in a college freshman, it was mandated we take two gym classes.  I wanted to try something I had never tried before, so I signed up for fencing.  There was an Olympic fencer from my hometown who was a bit of a local celebrity, but the real reason I was interested in fencing was because I loved movie swordfights.

As a freshman in that class, we learned the basics for the first four weeks.  We studied and practiced lunges and parries and all that stuff.  Soon it was time to actually fence against another person.   Within seconds, I forgot everything I had been learning and it all reverted to any other backyard swordfight.  I relied 100%  on those summer days when my brother and I would swish sticks in the backyard and say things like “ah-hah!”   Needless to say, I was not invited onto the fencing team.

But… in the spirit of those summer swordfights, let’s review some comics!

The Fox So Cunning and Free

American Mythology is a new publisher, just celebrating its 5th anniversary. One of the licenses they have acquired is Zorro, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The Mark of Zorro : 100 Years of the Masked Avenger is an impressive coffee table book celebrating this long-lived hero’s many incarnations.  James Kuhoric and Jason Ullmeyer have assembled a collection of amazing images from every Zorro adventure – all the books, pulps, movies, cartoons and comics. It’s heavy on imagery and light on text, so it is a quintessential ‘flip through” book.

Comics creators Matt Wagner and the legendary Don McGregor (who created my favorite version of Zorro) supply the introduction and forward respectively to make the proceedings all the more special.

D’Artagnan Returns

Seven Swords is a new comic series from another “new” publisher, AfterShock Comics. They’ve been putting out so many titles they don’t seem new anymore to me, though. Seven Swords is written by Revan Daughtery and the art is provided by Riccardo Latina.  This new series focuses on a middle aged D’Artagnan, who you will remember from Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers. In this story, however, the Three Musketeers are offstage, and D’Artagnan seeks to avenge them by recruiting a new team . He goes all-in Magnificent Seven style.

Latina, an Italian artist who is new to me, employs a classic style that suits the material, but he leverages a sense of dynamic movement, so it never looks dated.

A Look Back at an Invincible Sword

Recently, Back Issue Magazine shined the spotlight on Conan, the Barbarian. One of the articles reviewed all the ‘other’ barbarian characters from the Bronze Age, and I was fascinated by Dagar, the Invincible.  A Gold Key/Western “Sword and Sandals” character, Dagar was created by Don Glut and Jesse Santos. Wonderful painted covers graced each issue, many may have been painted by George Wilson. I would have ignored this series as a kid, but lately I have I been scouring back issue bargain boxes for it.  Glut is an imaginative and clever writer, and able to pack so much into one-and-done single story issues.

Santos, part of the wave of brilliant Filipino artists who illustrated 70s comics, is simply fantastic.

The layouts, anatomy and inking are all inspiring.  All of Santo’s barbarian women look like they walked off the set of a 1969 Hollywood movie, but that’s not so bad.

Of note if you want to join me in the noble quest of collecting Dagar:  he didn’t really have his own title. It was officially Tales of Swords and Sorcery featuring Dagar the Invincible.


“Don’t leave home without your sword- your intellect.”

-Alan Moore

With Further Ado #153: Toxic Fandom – 60s Style

With Further Ado #153: Toxic Fandom – 60s Style

Art by Sean Lewis

It’s a strange paradox.  You can love Star Wars but hate all the recent “Star Wars movies. You can be a passionate Batman fan but not buy a single issue of current Batman comics.  Star Trek might be your favorite thing, but you can still vehemently loathe the most recent Star Trek TV series. And you might even be hate-watching them each week.

All this opens the can of worms as to who “owns” characters and  intellectual property (IP)? Is it the creators? Corporations who buy the IP from creators? Or is it fans?

Look, I get it. It’s easy to understand each side of the argument, and I find myself hopping from one point of view to the other depending on the particular fandom.

And in certain fandoms, the fans get very pointed and passionate.  Star Wars fans, for example, can articulate their hatred of certain movie executives and directors with a high level of understanding that one might expect in academia or at The Hollywood Reporters internal meetings.

I was surprised to see this level of toxic fandom in 1967 in an issue of a “less popular” comic…that was about to close up shop.

“If I Had a Thunderbolt In Mine Eye…”

Thunderbolt was a unique superhero series that was ahead of its time.  As noted on the covers of this Charlton series, Thunderbolt was in reality Peter Cannon, a reluctant hero who was trained by in the mysterious ways of Asian spirituality. He learned to unlock the power of the “90% of the human brain that lay unused”.  Unlike typical 60s heroes, Thunderbolt would often lament that solving problems via superhero fisticuffs wasn’t the best way.

Even if you never read a Thunderbolt comic, you may feel like you know the character. One reason is that Thunderbolt sort of borrowed his costume design from the Golden Age Daredevil, created by Charles Biro and Lev Gleason. (And have you read Bret Dakin’s bio of Lev Gleason yet? It’s been nominated for an Eisner.)  The character lived on recent, subsequent iterations in both DC and Dynamite comic series.  And, most famously, Ozymandias, the Watchmen character, was based on Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #59

For a couple years in the mid-sixties, Thunderbolt was published by Charlton Comics.  Each issue was signed by the mysterious PAM. He had a distinctive, almost Alex Toth-ian style, heavy on drama and storytelling.  At the time, PAM’s true identity was a better kept secret than Thunderbolt’s true identity. PAM was actually a NYC local, originally from Park Slope in Brooklyn:  Peter A. Morisi who had a whole ‘nuther career as an NYPD policeman.  In addition to Thunderbolt, PAM worked on several other series, including Vengeance Squad and created Johnny Dynamite.

The numbering was a bit wonky for Thunderbolt comics. It all officially started with issue #51, but by issue #59, in an Elvis-has-left-the-building moment, Morisi only supplied the cover.   The interior Thunderbolt story was written, penciled and inked by Pat Boyette.

Boy, were fans steamed!

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #60

I recently rescued a copy of Thunderbolt #60 from the bargain box at Fat Cat Comics in Binghamton.  The cover is fascinating as it showcases, in a last-ditch effort, an entirely new logo.   The series is edited by Dick Giordano, and both the lead and back-up features are written by Denny O’Neil.  The back-up series is an odd one, deserving a whole column of its own, and is illustrated by Jim Aparo.   With three major (future) Batman creatives contributing to this issue, it almost should be filed under “B”.

And in this last Thunderbolt issue, it’s astounding to see the fan letters commenting on the previous issue, #59. These fans were NOT HAPPY with PAM’s departure in that issue, nor with Pat Boyette picking up the art chores. They let editor Giordano have it with both barrels.

 

Like fans today (fans of Star Wars, Doctor Who, etc.) these fans knew their stuff and weren’t afraid to let the “higher ups” and the world at large, know how they felt!