Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Trade Marks: Bomb Run & Other Stories

Yes, these stories have been reprinted elsewhere. Yes, $30 is still $30 and may seem like a lot to pay for black and white reprints. Here's the thing, though. John Severin is one of the greatest comic book artists of all times. This book collects so many wonderful stories that I think $100 would be a bargain (of course, I'm saying all of this after buying it for $20). The team of Kurtzman, Severin and Elder is as strong a team as you'll find and they gelled together perfectly in the war genre. There are some powerful stories in this collection, but it is also sprinkled with humour and wonderful characterizations. I feel as though Severin's illustrations are well suited to a black and white reproduction. While I'd love to see Marie Severin's wonderful colours, I'll happily forgo the colour if it keeps the price tag reasonable. This is an essential collection and will look great on anyone's shelf. Next stop for me might be the Aces High collection for some George Evans aerial artwork. Trade Mark: A

Monday, July 21, 2014

Gil Kane Cover of the Month: Supernatural Thrillers #6

Here's a Gil Kane Marvel cover from the 70s that you might not have seen. Breaking up a string of Living Mummy covers was this issue, featuring The Headless Horsemen. I see this one far less often than I see other issues from this series and I am not sure why. It's a terrific cover featuring an incredible sense of design and motion. I like Ernie Chan's inks here, as he adds some nice texture, especially to the skull. The skeletal body contrasts beautifully with the cloak and I really like the full moon in the background. I'm not sure that I love the greenish hue on the horse, but it is rather unique. The eyes and snorting nostrils are what seal the deal for me. This is a lesser known, but tremendous Kane cover.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seduction of the Indifferent - The Podcast!

Hey everyone. I've decided to give a SOTI podcast a shot, as a companion piece to the blog, as a companion piece to the blog.

I hope the link works (it's to a free hosting service - I may switch to libsyn if I keep this going, but this is really just a test). You can either listen directly or download to your drive. I won't get an RSS feed going until I decide to stick with it. Have a listen and let me know what you think!




SOTI Podcast - Episode 1

Friday, June 13, 2014

Memoirs of a Bronze Age Baby: Mad #199

I do not know how I got my hands on a copy of this issue. I would have still been only 5 years old during the summer of 1978 and Mad was not part of my regular reading rotation at that point in my life and I can't see my parents buying it for me. That said, I remember reading that first Star Wars parody as well, so I must have had an older neighbour or relative letting me read them. There's some good stuff in this one, including parodies of both The Spy Who Loved Me and What's Happening. I liked those at the time because I was familiar with the source material. Too often, I didn't understand the parodies in Mad or Cracked as I hadn't seen the film or TV show in question. The main reason this particular issue has stuck in my brain 36 years later is the story about punk music. This would have been my first 'exposure' to punk and I was shocked. That panel of the band urinating on their fans at a concert remains etched in my brain. Or should I say 'blecched' in my brain.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hidden Gems: Ms Tree Rock & Roll Summer Special #1

Let's be honest, every single issue of Ms. Tree is a hidden gem, but here's one that may not have hit your radar. Published as a standalone special, this book has a musical focus from start to finish. The main mystery is a decent tale but, as far as Ms. Tree stories go, it is probably no better than average. The issue's final segment is an interest piece as Max Allan Collins reminisces about his time in a garage band that never quite 'made it'. The middle chapter is why I wanted to bring this book to your attention.It is a terrific biography of Bobby Darin and Collins' relationship to his music. It is an incredibly effective piece and showcases how comic books are a wonderful way of telling a wide variety of stories.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 2

I'm back with some more examples.

The cover to Captain Marvel Adventures #83 (April, 1948) is a pretty typical cover featuring the Big Red Cheese, as many were designed to build him up as an icon. His 'proud warrior' pose is a bit ridiculous and the cape and headdress seem to be competing for attention. Many covers from the 'Marvel' group of titles feature some sort of Native American motif, but this is the only headdress one I spotted. 

Here's one I actually own. The cover to Dennis the Menace #91 (July, 1967). I can't recall ever reading it, and it's buried somewhere in one of my short boxes labelled 'MISC' (not very wise on my part), but the synopsis on the GCD states "Cowboy Dennis is flustered by a real Indian". Considering that Dennis is not easily flustered, this must be as dramatic as a Dennis the Menace story can get.

What would I ever do without Rex the Wonder Dog. It seems that no matter what topic I choose to discuss, there's often a Rex cover that fits the bill. If you were to read comics in the late 40s and 50s, you would likely think that Native American tribes handed out honorary chiefdoms with abandon. The cover to The Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #24 (Nov-Dec, 1955) is actually a handsome Gil Kane cover with bright colours typical of that era of DC/National. Kane's snout-like noses were always a good fit for Rex.

Let's end off with the oldest one I am featuring, the cover to Four Color #112  (July, 1946). In this story, Porky Pig learns that he is a relative of Chief Pigronomo (yes, you read that correctly). There's also a plot to swindle the Native American out of their land. I find it a bit surprising that the story would tackle that theme, but applaud the effort. I may have to track down a copy of this one, but that's a story for another column.



Monday, June 09, 2014

Native American Headdress Covers Pt. 1

Recently, Pharrell Williams was on the receiving end of criticism for posing on the cover of Elle magazine wearing a headdress. The thing is, he isn't the first person to misappropriate a headdress. It has been going on in the funnybook world for decades.

Let's start with Green Arrow from the cover of Green Lantern/Green Arrow #79 (September, 1970). Oliver Queen has always been one to stand up for civil rights and has never shied away from controversy, and yet here he is throwing political correctness to the wind and donning a headdress. Let's not even get into Hal's crucifixion here as we can only deal with one issue at a time.

The Three Stooges were never know for being culturally sensitive, so I knew I'd find a cover like the one to The Three Stooges #20 (1962) before I even began my search. The synopsis on the GCD states that "Disguised as Indians, blundering along, they scare off cattle thieves with "magic" and get a peace treaty signed". Not exactly Dances With Wolves.

Holy inappropriateness Batman! With all of the silly covers DC/National was putting out in the 50s, you just had to know that Batman would be sporting a headdress in at least one of them, and here he is on the cover to Batman #86 (September, 1954). What makes this one worse is that the dynamic duo step into the shows of two native heroes known as  'Man-of-the-Bats' and Robin is known as 'Little Raven'. If you look very closely in one panel of Crisis On Infinite Earths, you'll see that they don't survive. I kid. For the record, Superman also had a very similar cover.

Lucy, you have some explaining to do (sorry, if I typed in phonetically a la Ricky, I'd be just as bad). In particular, what the story behind the pink feathers in your headdress on the cover to The Lucy Show #3 (December, 1963). Like the Stooges, I don't expect much in the way of politically correct humour from Ms. Ball. I do wonder, though, why they chose that rather sultry black and white photo for the top right corner?

More to come later in the week, including headdresses on a pig and a dog!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Add It To My Want List: Four Color #1085

Here are some things I love. I love George Pal's The Time Machine. I love Rod Taylor. I love Alex Toth. With all of that in mind, how on Earth do I not own this book? I would imagine that there is some crossover appeal with this book, so that would drive prices up a little bit but there are generally a ton of early 60s Dells on the market, so scarcity is rarely an issue. I think that I have simply focused my searches in all the wrong directions and never got around to acquiring a copy. I aim to remedy that pronto.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Steve Ditko Cover of the Week: Out of This World #16

Have I discussed all of the Ditko covers from this series? It sure feels like it. They are hard to avoid discussing as they are just so unique and interesting. I think I've stated before that the great thing about Ditko's covers for Charlton, and this series in particular is that he was obviously allowed to do as he pleased. These covers are unlike anything else from that era. The abstract quality of the images and the sheer blackness of the background is a far cry from the clear design and clean lines that one would see on a House of Mystery cover. Both are great, but I am just so impressed that covers such as this one were showing up on spinner racks in the late 50s. It's too bad that tacky 'Free Prizes' banner interferes with the overall impact of this cover. It brings us all back to Earth, unwillingly.

Friday, May 09, 2014

I Loves Me Some Daredevil by Mark Waid

Let's be honest. I love just about anything Daredevil related. I love the Miller stuff, the Brubaker stuff and I even have a lot of love for the Mike Murdock saga. Why single out this recent stretch of stories by Mark Waid? Well, I don't tend to read too many new comics but this stuff came highly recommended and has sucked me in. Waid has always had a talent for characterization. His work on the Flash really established Wally West as an important member of the DCU and his entire supporting cast was nicely fleshed out. His characters seem strong yet flawed. I think the most appropriate word is 'human'. Much of the same takes place here. Matt and Foggy are clearly old friends, but there's a freshness to their relationship. One thing people often overlook during Frank Miller's tenure is the humour that was sprinkled throughout those stories. Waid brings back the humour, not in an overbearing way but in a way that allows Daredevil to be the swashbuckling hero he was in his early days. There is a bit of a revolving door in terms of the art teams, but that does not  detract too much from the impact of the stories. I've read through the first 3 TPBs and I am anxious to get my hands on more.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

You've Been Warned: Wolverine: Logan

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I like Wolverine, I really do. Hell, my son's name is Logan. The thing is, it takes a like of digging through Wolverine-centric crap before you find anything good. I'm sorry to report that this one falls into the category of crap. This three issue miniseries is pure style over substance. I really like the fact that they place Logan in Hiroshima in 1945. That's a great move and becomes an interesting part of his back story. The other parts of the story, however, fall flat. There is a love story here, but it develops at such a breakneck speed that it never allows the reader to feel an emotional attachment. The antagonist is also underdeveloped, with unbelievably coincidental powers and a desire to kill Logan that is not adequately explored. Of course, it all climaxes in an overlong showdown that is poorly executed. I wish people focused more on storytelling and less on posing. Boy, do I sound grumpy today! I know that some people really like Risso's artwork, but it does not do much for me here. Avoid.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Highlighting House Ads: Timely 1941

Here's a terrific ad from the early days of Timely Comics. It's not terribly interesting from a style point of view, but rather as a piece of history. First, note the announcement for the upcoming All-Aces Comics. Never heard of it? Well, nobody ever saw it. I believe that this was the original working title for All-Winners Squad. Also note the 'Imitators Beware' section, which is a stern warning to other publishers cranking out patriotic heroes. Timely is conveniently ignoring the fact that they ripped off MLJ's The Shield. Ain't history fun?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #1

Black Terror

This one caught my eye as a child in the pages of the Overstreet Guide and initial feeling of 'Wow' has never worn off. The perfect example of a costume being far greater than the character.


Favourite Super-Hero Designs #2

Batman (Norm Breyfogle version)

I have to include my favourite character. I grew up a child of the Adams/Aparo/Novick era and love the blue & grey, sleek Batman. In many ways, my Batman is the Jim Aparo version. That said, when I first started reading the Breyfogle drawn issues in high school, I fell in love with how he gave the cape a personality of its own.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #3

Union Jack

With apologies to Captain America, The Shield, Captain Canuck and any other hero who tried to incorporate a flag into their costumes, the Union Jack costume is by far the coolest (IMHO). This design jumped out at my as a kid and got me to hand over my dimes and nickels for Invaders comics. It simple, yet perfect.