Golden Age comics
Passings | Golden Age creators Marcus “Marc” Swayze, best known for writing and drawing Fawcett’s Captain Marvel comics in the early 1940s, died Sunday in Monroe, Louisiana. He was 99. Swayze, who created Mary Marvel with writer Otto Binder, employed a simple style of illustration. “My personal philosophy was to use the art in storytelling so that even a child who couldn’t yet read could get a story out of it,” he told the Monroe News-Star in 2000. [The News-Star]
Legal | The Indian government has officially dropped sedition charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, but he still faces up to three years in prison if found guilty on the remaining charges under the Prevention of Insult to National Honor Act of 1971. Trivedi was arrested last month and briefly jailed before being released on bail. In an odd twist, Trivedi is currently participating in the reality show Bigg Boss, the Indian counterpart of Big Brother. [UPI.com]
Comics historian Jess Nevins first came to the attention of many fans for his amazingly complete annotations of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Projects like that led to his creating The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana and The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes. Now Nevins is hoping to complete his trilogy of heroic history with The Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, cataloging “every hero of the Golden Age. Yes, all of them.”
To do that will require some expensive research, so Nevins has created a Kickstarter page to help fund it. “There’s really only one place to do the kind of research necessary for this project,” he explains, “and that’s Michigan State University, in East Lansing. I’m estimating that I will need to spend at least two weeks at Michigan State to get all the necessary research done, and that will be expensive. (Air fare, hotel, rental car, incidentals — they all add up, and quickly). Moreover, I will need to pay for professional web design for the accompanying web site, and that, too, is not cheap.”
If he reaches his goal of $6000 (he’s almost halfway there with a little less than a month to go as of this writing), he promises to “make the entire manuscript free online, as a professionally designed website, similar to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. You’ll be able to buy copies of the book as print-on-demand, but it will be permanently available, for free, to the world.” There are of course pledge incentives and Nevins will add additional stretch goals should the project pull in $6,000 quickly. [UPDATE: He's reached his initial goal, so keep checking the link for additions.]
Nicolas Labarre has conducted a cool experiment in which he’s re-drawn the same page from an issue of Planet Comics five times. The point, he says (if Google translator is accurate), is to examine where the story is built in comics. Because of their brevity, Golden Age comics are famous for making the reader fill in many of the details between panels and Labarre seems to be trying to figure out just how that works and how what you don’t show is as important as what you do.
It’s fascinating to watch him as he plays with not just composition, but styles and character designs as well. In the three versions that aren’t sampled above, he replaces the characters with NASA astronauts, talking animals, and a version that’s almost purely design.
(via The Comics Reporter}
The bulk of the comic collection amassed by a young Billy Wright in the late 1930s and early 1940s sold at auction Wednesday for a staggering $3.5 million, The Associated Press reports, far surpassing initial estimates.
Wright’s childhood purchases — 345 comics, all kept in good condition — boasted 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s list of Top 100 comics from the Golden Age, including Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27 and Captain America Comics #2. Wright passed away in 1994 at age 66, leaving the comics forgotten until his great nephew Michael Rorrer discovered them neatly stacked in a basement closet last February while cleaning house his great aunt’s Martinsville, Virginia, home following her death.
“The scope of this collection is, from a historian’s perspective, dizzying,” J.C. Vaughn, associate publisher of Overstreet, told The AP.
The “jaw-dropping” collection had been expected to fetch about $2 million. However, the 227 comics sold Wednesday brought in a whopping $3,466,264, including $523,000 for the CGC-Certified 6.5 copy of Detective Comics #27 and $299,000 for a 3.0 copy of the first appearance of Superman. The remaining, lesser comics will be sold online Friday and Saturday by Heritage Auctions; they’re expected to bring in about $100,000.
According to The Associated Press, 31-year-old Michael Rorrer found the neatly stacked comics in a closet last February while he was cleaning out his great aunt’s home following her death. It turns out that his great uncle Billy Wright, who died in 1994 at age 66, had (unknown to most of the family) held onto his boyhood comics dating back to 1938.
Described as “jaw-dropping” by Lon Allen of Heritage Auctions, the collection boasts 44 of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide’s list of Top 100 comics from the Golden Age, including Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27 and Captain America Comics #2. The CGC-Certified 6.5 copy of Batman’s first appearance is expected to fetch about $475,000, while the 3.0 copy of Superman’s debut could bring as much as $325,000.
Publishing | The anime and manga company Bandai Entertainment will stop distributing new products in February, although its existing catalog will continue to be available until the licenses expire. The company will shift its focus to licensing its properties for digital distribution and merchandising. President and CEO Ken Iyadomi said the decision to shut down new-product operations was made by the Japanese parent company without his input, and he strongly implied the underlying problem was that the corporate parent wanted to charge more for its anime than the current market will bear. Bandai published the Lucky Star, Kannagi and Eureka Seven manga, among others; all new manga volumes have been canceled, which means Kannagi will be left incomplete, at least for now. [Anime News Network]
Awards | The finalists for the Cybils, the blogger’s literary awards for children’s and YA books, have been posted, and they include five nominations each in the children’s and YA graphic novel categories. [Cybils Awards]