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Comics A.M. | Former Archie Comics artist Janice Valleau dies

Toni Gayle

Toni Gayle

Passings | Artist Janice Valleau Winkelman, creator of the detective Toni Gayle, passed away on Dec. 8 at age 90. Winkleman, who drew under her maiden name Janice Valleau, had polio as a child and wore a brace through school. Her first work was published in Smash Comics in 1939, when she was 16. She studied at the Phoenix Art Institute and moved to New York, where she found steady work as a penciler and inker for Archie Comics and Quality Comics. She left the industry during the anti-comic crusades of the 1950; author David Hajdu profiled her in the prologue to his chronicle of those times, The Ten Cent Plague. According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

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Chain Reactions | National Comics: Eternity #1

National Comics: Eternity #1

The name of DC Comics’ latest publishing initiative, National Comics, is a reference to the publisher’s long history–National Comics was the name of the publisher before becoming DC Comics. It was also the title of an anthology comic series published by Quality Comics in the 1940s, which featured characters that would eventually be purchased and absorbed into the DC Universe.

Speaking of which, one of the characters that DC bought from Quality was Kid Eternity, who debuted in Hit Comics #25 in 1942. A young boy killed 75 years before he was supposed to die, the powers that be sent him back to Earth to fight the good fight, giving him the power to summon historical and mythological figures to aid him in his mission. DC has revived the character a few different times and retconned his history–at one point he was Captain Marvel Jr.’s brother; at another point the historical figures he was summoning were revealed to be demons. Most recently Kid Eternity appeared in the pre-New 52 Teen Titans title.

This time around Kid Eternity is revived by Jeff Lemire and Cully Hamner, in a one-shot that came out this past Wednesday. Is it a concept worthy of revival–and your money? Here are a few reviews from around the web to help you decide:

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TwoMorrows offers readers print and digital options

The Quality Companion is a great book for lovers of comics history. It starts out with nine comics featuring heroes such as The Ray, Phantom Lady and The Human Bomb, with art by Jack Cole, Lou Fine and other comics luminaries, and then there is a detailed account of the history of the company. You may not have heard of Quality Comics (I hadn’t), but it was one of the early comics publishers and the original home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. Many of Quality’s characters were eventually absorbed by DC. The book is well-written and detailed, and the comics in the front are at once cheesy and fascinating.

TwoMorrows makes the book, and most of its other titles, available in two formats, a hardcover print book and a digital version. The digital book is a PDF, which means it can be downloaded and read on any device, without any concern about the distributor disappearing and taking it with them. That also means it could be easily pirated, and there’s a note in the front of the book telling people that if they downloaded it for free, they did so illegally. “Go ahead and read this digital issue, and see what you think,” the note continues. “If you enjoy it enough to keep it, please do the right thing and go to our site and purchase a legal download of this issue …” This makes so much sense that I don’t know why everyone else doesn’t do it.

It seems as if TwoMorrows has found a digital/print balance that works, at least for this type of book. The print edition is priced at $31.95 (marked down to $27.16 at the moment), and if you spring for it, you get the digital edition free. That’s quite a reasonable price for a book like this. Even better, the digital edition is priced at only $10.95. The print edition will obviously appeal to collector, but for someone like me, who wants to read the book and have it as a reference, the digital edition is a great deal, especially with no DRM.


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