Friday, November 12, 2010

DC Comics annuals of the 60s

Back in 1960s, DC regularly put out these thick collections that assembled and reprinted some of the best Golden Age and later stories featuring Superman, Batman and related characters. I missed out on most of them, but have fond memories of the 100-page Spectaculars, etc., that were the 1970s equivalent.

These days, there are tons of reprints of nearly every kind of comic available -- superhero books, indy and art comics, comic strips, manga, etc. -- but I have a fondness for these thick, relatively cheap reprints. I certainly gravitated toward them as a kid. I enjoyed reading old Batman and Superman stories from before I was born and nearly wore out my copies of "Batman from the 30s to the 70s" and "Superman from the 30 to the 70s," which were the DC Showcases of their day.

And what got me started on this whole post? A nice collection of 60s annual covers on display over at Golden Age Comic Book Stories. Here's a sample:

Garfield strip ill-timed for Veterans Day.


Jim Davis, the cartoonist behind Garfield, apologized on Thursday for a comic strip that stirred up controversy when it published on Veteran’s Day. In the strip, Garfield stands above a spider with a rolled up newspaper cocked in-hand. The spider taunts the cat, saying if he squishes him, “they will hold an annual day of remembrance in my honor.” In the final frame, a spider dangling over a teacher’s desk asks a class, “Does anyone here know why we celebrate ‘National Stupid Day?’” Davis said the strip was created almost a year ago and that running that particular comic on Veteran’s Day was the “worst timing ever.”

Pulp cover: Jungle Stories

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pulp cover: Jungle Stories

Why superhero movie don't boost sales of superhero comics

Why do anime and film adaptations of manga and indy comics such as Naruto and Scott Pilgrim help spur sales of those titles while superhero films, such as the  Iron Man or X-Men movies, don't seem to boost sales for those books much at all?

It's a case of comics confusion, suggests Journalista:

If the Naruto anime left you interested enough in the story to go to a bookstore and check out the manga, you’d find more of the same: The anime stays as close as possible to manga-ka Masashi Kishimoto’s original concepts, and Kishimoto is in turn the consistent driving force behind the creation of the comics version, regardless of who spotted the blacks or drew a particular forest background. So long as you first bought the Naruto volume with the big “1″ on the spine, liked it and followed it with the one labeled “2,” you’re pretty much guaranteed to be satisfied by the results.
If the X-Men films convinced you to pick up your first X-Men graphic novel, however, you’d be in for an entirely different experience. Your first exposure would depend upon which author’s version of the series you pulled out of the stack, be it Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar or Chuck Austen, and the artwork would likely change from one artist to another within the book’s pages. If you remained interested enough by what you read to buy a second one, that second volume would be as much of a crapshoot as the first, unless you very carefully observed which names were on the spine each time you invested your hard-earned dollars on a new book. 
I think that's a pretty good argument. Journalista goes on to blame much of this also on "the replaceable nature of the writers and artists, as dictated by the work-for-hire business practices upon which Marvel depends," but I think there are a number of additional factors at work:

  • The continuing problem of continuity. Crack open most superhero books and you need to know 20-40 years of the title characters' previous history to fathom what's going on.
  • Many people don't understand where to find or how to read comics these days. Blame the direct market. If you could find X-Men (or Iron Man or Spider-Man or Batman, etc.) comics in the grocery or drug store, and the comics made sense to new readers, you'd likely sell a lot more copies. But instead, we have to depend on people finding and visiting comic book shops, figuring out which of the seven monthly X-titles to try, none of which they'll like, because the stories don't make sense and are nothing like those in the movies.

Those of us who were around in the days when nearly all kids read comics have made these points time and time again and I'm no doubt preaching to the choir here. But it continues to frustrate me that the comics publishers don't seem to know how to market their products apart from in movies and toys.

Here's how to sell more comics:
  1. Sell them in places where they'll get seen.
  2. Create comics that are fun to read and easy to understand.
  3. If you have the benefit of a big feature film, capitalize on it by making the comics palatable to those who enjoyed the movies.

A lot of fanboys won't like that third step. But, let's face it, many of the superhero movies of late are truer to the original characters than are the current comics. A movie grabs the elements that make Superman or Batman or the X-Men compelling and run with them. They celebrate the hero's mythology while many current comics try to tear it apart.

Booksteve reads the new THUNDER Agents so we don't have to

Steve seems to have the same misgivings about modern superhero comics as I do, so I figure I'm safe skipping DC's reintroduced THUNDER Agents:

Perhaps at this point I was pre-disposed not to like DC's just-released version but the fact is, it is an overwritten, oddly colored, ambitious but complicated story with mostly unlikable characters.

Nice Darwyn Cooke cover though:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alex Schomburg art

Paul Tobin presents a selection of covers form the Golden Age great. Some of these covers are so busy, but the work nevertheless. Some savage moments, too.

Pulp cover: Jungle Stories

New comics Nov. 10, 2010

Archie Firsts
Archie Firsts

Eerie Archives Volume 5
Eerie Archives Volume 5

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Facsimile
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Facsimile

Amazing Spider-Man by JMS Ultimate Collection - Book 5
Amazing Spider-Man by JMS Ultimate Collection - Book 5

Thor: Siege Aftermath
Thor: Siege Aftermath

Quiz show gives couple another chance after botched Doctor Who question

A British couple will have a second chance to compete on a British game who because the show was mixed up on its Timelord trivia:

The pair were asked to chose between actors Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.
Unable to decide on the correct answer, they split their remaining $1 million (£650,000) between McCoy and McGann, only for the host to inform them the answer was Tennant.

While McCoy only played the role from 1987 until 1989, he also starred in a 1996 film and, given that no one else portrayed the Timelord between those two points, he takes the title as longest reigning Doctor.