O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Before Spider-Man, before the Fantastic Four, before even Captain America, Marvel was creating superheroes. Sure, the publisher went by Timely rather than Marvel, but it had costumed heroes — in spades. Some, like Namor, Ka-Zar and the Human Torch, were dusted off years later as memorable guest stars in other books or for trivial flashback appearances, but these veterans of the publisher’s first experiments ith the superhero genre are largely forgotten anecdotes in the publisher’s path to greatness. For some, it’s unfortunate — but for others, it’s perhaps for the best.
In this installment of ROBOT 6’s Six by 6, we cherry-pick six heroes of the late 1930s and early 1940s that didn’t fare as well as Captain America or the Sub-Mariner, and talk about when they have popped up since and why some have never been seen again.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
Congratulations, Dark Horse: You pretty much own my first $15 for the week, with Dark Horse Presents #8 ($7.99) and Star Wars: Dawn of The Jedi #0 ($3.50) both being my go-to new releases for the week. DHP has the new Brian Wood/Kristian Donaldson series The Massive launching, as well as more Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson and new Skeleton Key by Andi Watson, which is a pretty spectacular line-up, and the new Star Wars book coincides with the latest flare up of my irregular longing to check up on that whole universe’s goings-on. Apparently, I’m keeping it local this week, who knew?
If I had $30, I’d add Action Comics #6 (DC Comics, $3.99) and OMAC #6 (DC Comics, $2.99) to that pile — I’m particularly treasuring the latter before it goes away, although I have to admit that the time-jumping nature of these Action fill-ins has gotten me more excited than I should ‘fess up to — as well as a couple of Ed Brubaker books, Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel, $2.99) and Fatale #2 (Image Comics, $3.50). I wasn’t bowled over by Fatale‘s debut, but it intrigued me enough to want to give it another go, while the noir + super spy sales pitch for the new Marvel series pretty much guarantees my checking the first issue out at the very least.
When it comes to splurging, there is nothing I would buy – were I rich enough — more quickly than IDW’s John Romita Sr. Amazing Spider-Man Artist Edition HC ($100), because … well, it’s classic Romita as the pages originally looked on his drawing board. How anyone can resist that (other than the price point), I don’t know.
Action! Mystery! Thrills!: Comic Book Covers of the Golden Ages, 1933-1945
Edited by Greg Sadowski
Fantagraphics Books, 208 pages, $29.99
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1
Edited by Blake Bell
Fantagraphics Books, 224 pages, $39.99
Young Romance: The Best of Simon & Kirby’s Romance Comics
Edited by Michael Gagne
Fantagraphics Books, 200 pages, $29.99
Our current publishing era has been dubbed the Golden Age of Reprints by a number of online pundits, myself included, and it’s not too hard to see why. Classic comics that fans and scholars never thought would make it to the bookbinders, let alone be available in an affordable version, are now coming off the presses at a staggering rate.
One of the benefits of this plethora of reprint projects is it allows us to re-examine certain noteworthy periods of comics history, help us discover long ignored artists and fully consider cartoonists who, though their names might have been recognizable, have largely been unappreciated except by a few. The alleged Golden Age of comics in particular has benefited from this scrutiny, not only in illuminating people like Fletcher Hanks but in showcasing work by folks like Jack Cole and Bill Everett.
One of the people leading the way in this specific endeavor is editor Greg Sadowski, who, in anthologies like Supermen! and Four Color Fear, has given average readers access to comics from well-covered eras (i.e. the early superhero and horror trends) merely by republishing stories that didn’t come from Marvel (or whatever it was called at the time), EC or DC.
Sadowski’s latest book, Action! Mystery! Thrills! has a somewhat even narrower focus, dealing entirely with comic book covers from the Golden era. It makes a certain amount of sense. While covers are still an integral part of marketing and selling a comic, they were even more essential back in those early, heady days, when you competed with hundreds of other titles and an eye-catching cover could mean the difference between profit and cancellation (or at least that’s what many editors and publishers of the time felt).
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
This month, we’re looking at the career of one of the Golden Age greats, Jack Cole.
Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
Comic strips | After outsourcing all editorial, production, sales, marketing and distribution functions for its 150 comics and other features to Universal Uclick earlier this year, United Media closed the doors on its Madison Avenue office in New York on Friday. [Comic Riffs]
Comic Books | A copy of Detective Comics #27 owned by multimillionaire hotel heir Ben Novack Jr., who was murdered in 2009, could go up for auction and end up paying to defend his widow Narcy Novack. Narcy is facing charges that she had the comic fan and his mother murdered, plundered his bank accounts, then tried to pin the crimes on her own daughter. Narcy’s daughter, May Abad, has persuaded a Broward County judge to hold off on the auction and give her at least 14 days to find suitable storage and insurance for Novack’s massive collection. [Miami Herald]
Almost every comics app—comiXology’s Comics, iVerse’s Comics+, Graphic.ly, and every publisher app—works the same way: The app itself is free, but you have to pay for the comics (well, most of them).
ComicZeal is the opposite: The app costs $8.99, but with it you get access to a huge amount of free content. I don’t think the app provides much that you couldn’t get for free* if you put the pieces together yourself, but it bundles everything together nicely and makes it easy to use.
ComicZeal reads PDFs (and RARs) and the file types that are most popular for downloadable comics, CBZ and CBR. It’s more of a reader than a store; the big attraction, for a lot of people, is that they can simply import their existing comics library into it.
Wait, you may be saying, where do you get that existing comics library? Ah. Some people scan in their print comics, which is more trouble than I’m likely to ever go through. This guy bought DVDs of Archie comics and imported them into iBooks; you could do the same with ComicZeal. You can buy comics in PDF form from DriveThruComics, and they have some free offerings, too. CBZ and CBR are popular formats for bootleg downloads, of course, but we will not speak of this. Because to my mind, the highest and best use of ComicZeal is to read public domain comics from the good old days. ComicZeal syncs to two sites that download public-domain comics, Flashback Universe and Golden Age Comics. These sites provide a cornucopia of forgotten comics: Romance comics, space comics, detective comics, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comics, all the treasures of a misspent childhood.
Anapest: The Autobio Comic by David Chelsea
Fast Forward by Vanessa Davis
Who’s ready for another round of Shelf Porn? Oh, let’s not always see the same hands …
Our guest this week is artist, blogger and graphic designer Dan Bru, who has has done a fabulous job decorating his “man-cave,” though a few of the more possessive collectors amongst you may balk at his method of decorating his walls. To see what I mean, click on the link and let Dan take you on his tour …
It was assumed that the two Fantagraphics collections — I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets and You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation — contained all existing stories by Fletcher Hanks, the obscure and eccentric Golden Age artist whose work has been rediscovered thanks to the efforts of editor Paul Karasik and others. Now, Seattle-based comics writer Frank Young has found two previously lost tales by Hanks from two issues of Great Comics, circa 1941. And no less an authority than Karasik has come forward (in the comments section) to confirm that yes, they are indeed by Hanks:
Not that anyone cares but me…BUT….I spent a looong time looking at these pages again today and have come to the conclusion that they are, in fact by Hanks.
The second story is taken directly from the final Big Red McLane tale with the captions rewritten and the faces re-rendered (possibly by another hand).
But the first story really had me stumped, so many of the compositions are un-Hanksian but ultimately tiny details such as hair-rendering, crowd-rendering , and big details like, yes, anatomy have made me change my mind.
I knew that sooner or later it would happen: the undiscovered Fletcher Hanks has been discovered.
The Little Fir Tree by Walt Kelly
The Meanest Man in Town by Milt Stein