Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Although romance comics are a rarity nowadays, at least in the North American market, there was a time when they were a major force on newsstands, as superhero titles faded in the aftermath of World War II and gave way to other genres: Sweathearts, Heart Throbs, My Life, Love Confessions, Just Married, to name only a few of the series. However, it all began with Young Romance, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Simon’s granddaughter Megan Margulies provides a nice reminder that her “Daddy Joe” and his longtime collaborator effectively created an entire genre with her Cigar Joe Designs Etsy store, which offers, among other items, posters, iPhone cases and T-shirts featuring art from some of those classic comics.
Even if those kinds of products aren’t up your alley, the Cigar Joe Designs Facebook page is a terrific resource for old Simon and Kirby work and photos.
Jeremy Nguyen is excited about the return of Mad Men this weekend, so much in fact that he’s created three faux covers for a line of Mad Men romance comics from the 1960s.
“I’m a huge fan of the show, the time period, and wanted to somehow celebrate how entertained I am by the series,” Nguyen writes on his Tumblr. “I have a love for the golden age of comics. Sometimes I wish I was a freelance comic book artist in that era, when comics were new, exciting, and uniquely part of being American. Romance comics were in fact hugely popular in those days, easily surpassing sales of superhero comics. And at some point, they dropped off, were replaced by horror, war, and other genres eventually.”
You can check out larger versions of all three covers on his Tumblr.
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).
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Life with Archie is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Richie Rich Gems Winter Special - In addition to their modern-look Richie Rich, Ape has also re-introducied the classic version in both new and reprinted adventures. I missed the solicit for Richie Rich Gems #44 last month (which picked up where the Harvey series left off in 1982), but the series continues with not only the Winter Special, but #45 as well.
Dragons vs Dinosaurs - I haven’t had great luck with Arcana’s books in the past, but c’mon. The title alone…
Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks - This, on the other hand, is no risk at all. I’m a big fan of Dan Taylor and Chris Fason’s superhero bar stories and this is an all-new, 80-page adventure. Not reprints; not even a printed version of the webcomic. It’s all-new and I need it.
The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition – Archaia prepares for their publishing Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives: The Kula Kola Caper by re-publishing the first story that was originally put out by Dark Horse.
Legal | The general affairs committee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has approved the government’s revised amendment to the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance, clearing the way for a vote by the full assembly on Wednesday. The controversial bill would further restrict sexual content in manga, anime and video games. A breakdown of the legislation can be found here. The Mainichi Daily News provides commentary. [Anime News Network]
Legal | In a surprise move, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has decided that the DC superhero- and Wizard of Oz-themed drinking glasses recalled last month because of high lead content aren’t children’s products and, therefore, not subject to recall. [The Associated Press]
Passings | Bluegrass musician and comic-art collector Don Lineberger, 71, died Dec. 5 after being pulled from a house fire in Valdosta, Georgia. Smoke inhalation is believed to be the cause of death. A banjo player who performed with the likes of Bill Monroe, Glen Campbell and Steve Martin, Lineberger was also known for his extensive collection of EC Comics memorabilia. Posters in this thread at the Collectors Society message board are attempting to compile a list of original EC work likely lost in the fire. [The Valdosta Daily Times]
Here’s a great catch by blogger Corey Blake and a great “is this real life?” moment for the rest of us: An Amazon listing for a hardcover collection of the 2003 miniseries Trouble by Mark Millar and Terry Dodson, slated for release on June 8, 2011.
For those of you who don’t recall those heady days, Trouble was part of the short-lived, Bill Jemas-shepherded revival of Marvel’s Epic imprint and an attempt to create the first hit romance comic in god knows how long. (I know, nothing says “romance comic” like Wanted, Kick-Ass, Nemesis, and Superior writer Mark Millar, but this was the same Nu-Marvel era that gave us Bendis/Maleev Daredevil, Milligan/Allred X-Statix, Millar/Hitch Ultimates, Morrison/Quitely New X-Men and so on, so cut ‘em some slack.)
Quite aside from whether the book was or wasn’t a good read, Trouble caused trouble for two reasons. First, it was basically a mildly randy sex dramedy about the teen years of Aunt May, Uncle Ben, and Peter Parker’s parents Mary and Richard…and it revealed that Peter was secretly May’s son through a hushed-up teen pregnancy. (I think — I’ve never been able to figure out how the very elderly May Parker made sense as the aunt for teenage Peter Parker, and having her be a teen herself at the time of his conception only confused me further.) At the time, Millar stated that this would be Spider-Man’s new origin if the book went over well. It didn’t, so the book never made it into official continuity.
It’s called Sequential Crush and it’s devoted to romance comics, specifically romance comics published during the 1960s and 70s. This is no ironic, “oh weren’t those old comics corny” smarm-blog, but a loving and occasionally fascinating look at the genre. For example:
Last night while working on my presentation for San Diego (which involves a lot of scanning), I came across this spectacular example of “love story graffiti” which I just have to share. In this particular case the pages of the book itself were not altered, but there was an addition made to the book! In between the pages of My Love #3 (January 1969) were these scathing words…
Click on the link to see what the mystery note contained. I’m certainly not going to spoil anything.