I never read any Speedball during its initial run. I was in high school and likely thought it looked a little silly and juvenile. I was an idiot. I now look for charm whenever I go comic book shopping. I quite like the series as it does capture some of that Marvel Age magic. This cover is also a real throwback as Ditko seems to combining the work he did for Marvel, DC and even Charlton in the 60s here. Sure, there's a lot going on, but I really like a cover that tells a story. As far as late 80s and early 90s Ditko covers go, this one is a keeper.
So there I was last night, reading my copy of Lone Ranger's Companion Tonto #17, when it dawned on me. I love this series and I have never talked about it. If you have spoken to me about comics over the years, you'll know that I am a huge fan of Dell's Lone Ranger series and am nearing completion of a run of painted covers. I am also a big fan of the spin-off series starring Tonto. In fact, it may be one of Dell's most consistently great series. Ever. What's so great about it? Well, let's start with the painted covers. As with the Lone Ranger, these beautiful covers are provided by the likes of Ernest Nordi and Don Spaulding. If you think they look great one your computer screen, wait until you hold one of these in your hands. If Dell is guilty of anything, it is that often the interior artwork and storytelling do not measure up to their covers. That is not the case with Tonto as the stories by Paul S. Newman are engaging and the artwork by the great Alberto Giolitti is stunning. If you do not recognize that name, flip through your old issues of Turok. That's the man's artwork. It is a beautiful marriage of detailed pencils and textured inks. I need to put together a full run of Tonto, pronto!
What a great time era for The Avengers. I feel like I hopped aboard at the perfect time as there were some fantastic stories in the 150-200 stretch. I particularly love this one. I sat down to read it again the other night and I was surprised by how many images were permanently burned in my brain. This one is jam packed with heroes as the Guardians of the Galaxy are along for the ride. There are also a ton of cameos; everyone from Two-Gun Kid to Doctor Strange. The tension over leadership styles between Cap and Iron Man was also very believably written by shooter. The best moment, however, is when the team is humiliated by Gyrich due to the lack of security at Avengers mansion. Within a few panels, he becomes the character you love to hate. I just adore it.
I recently re-read this one for the first time in 20+ years. This particular stretch of Ghost Rider issues really appealed to me when I was a kid. It has aged quite well, and this particular issue is a standout. Roger Stern borrows a page from Todd Browning and brings some 'freaks' to the Quentin Carnival. The story packs an emotional punch as the carnival's tragic 'Cave Man' Jeremy is a wonderfully fleshed out character. When you're a kid, you don't necessarily track the creators. It's amazing how many of my favourite stories and images from the late 70s and early 80s were drawn by Bob Budiansky. The richly textured panels work wonderfully here, as they truly add some atmosphere to the tale. This is a great one!
Since chatting about him last week, I've had Ruben Moreira on the brain. I was flipping through my copy of DC Showcase Presents: Tales of the Unexpected Vol. 1 last night and I spotted a cover that I had never taken note of before. Even through the murky black and white reproduction, I could tell that it was a stunner. I have always been intrigued by the Sargasso Sea, so it's very cool to see the concept used for a 50s sci-fi cover. I found a colour image online and was even more impressed with this moody cover as it uses a wash. I'm not sure if Moreira did this himself or if he employed the tales of Jack Adler. In either case, it's an eye catcher. The stories themselves are also very solid, with artwork by both Jack Kirby and Mort Meskin among others. I'm normally quite happy to have everything in a inexpensive collection, but I really, really, really want to own this book for the cover.
Hey everyone. Here's the second test run of the show I'm contemplating. I've actually really been enjoying talking about funnybooks and not just writing about them. I'm thinking that I may stick with this one a semi-regular basis and have guests on to discuss a variety of topics. If that happens, I'll set it up with a libsyn account and get it on iTunes.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.