Sunday, December 17, 2017

PUNISHER ADDENDUM

Here's a list of the issues that make up the current Punisher Legacy numbering.

SUNDAY IN THE BLOG WITH REVIEWS

Marvel’s Inhumans was a flawed show. It was better than most folks give it credit for, but not nearly as good as it should have been. I watched the final episodes this week. Since I’ll reveal some plot details in writing about it, I’m going to activate the traditional warnings about that.

SPOILERS AHEAD
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I think of the Inhumans as villains. They subject their children to mutagenic crystals in the name of religion. They created their own slave race in the Alpha Primitives. And, as of this TV series, they have a cruel caste system. Villains.

That may have been part of the reason for the show’s failure. The “heroes” were pretty uniformly unlikable. Black Bolt was a lousy leader. Medusa wasn’t any better. Gorgon was a bully. Karnak was full of himself. Crystal was a spoiled princess. Initially, Lockjaw was the only one I liked.

But there was growth in these characters. Black Bolt and Medusa do come to realize what terrible leaders they were. After receiving a brain injury, Karnak became less self-assured, more interesting and someone you could root for...even when he makes a terrible mistake involving another Inhuman. Gorgon becomes less of a bully and more of a protector. Crystal discovers that being a princess isn’t all she is or can be. As for Maximus, he’s a villain you love to hate and his fate in the final episode is just right.

The scene where Maximus shaves off Medusa’s hair in heart-breaking. It also saved a lot of money because that was one less CGI effect in the budget. Triton never looked convincing, which is probably why he was off-screen until the last two episodes. You can tell where other financial corners were cut.

In the final analysis, Inhumans was probably too ambitious for the small screen. Clearly, Marvel didn’t have a lot of faith in either the characters or the series. However, now that the Inhumans are on Earth, I hope some of them make appearances on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD...and maybe even the more realistic Marvel Netflix series. Not as a steady thing. Just as an occasional “that’s cool” moment.

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Inhumans was worth watching. It has some great moments and moving performances. It wasn’t a safe bet, which is fine by me. I want to see comic books translated to movies and television reach a little higher. Even if they fail to achieve their lofty goals.

                                                                             

My son Ed and I have been watching the Punisher, but I still have three more episodes to watch before I can review the Netflix show. Instead, you get my quick comments on The Punisher #15-17 and #218. My first quick comment is...why does Marvel numbering keep getting more confusing? Sheesh!

The Punisher #15 [$3.99] is a done-in-one story with Frank Castle hunting a twisted killer who pushes his victims in front of subway trains. Written by Becky Cloonan with art by Matt Horak and colors by Lee Loughridge, it’s a welcome change-of-pace adventure for the Punisher. The killer isn’t really a match for Castle’s expertise, but the issue is well-written and drawn.

Issues #16-17 [$3.99] has another singular protagonist for Castle. Face is a grotesque killer who can’t feel pain, both the result of a prior meeting with the Punisher. Face is slaughtering citizens to lure Frank into a trap. This two-parter didn’t work as well for me, though the second half has some fun supporting characters.

The new creative team of writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Guiu Vilanova come aboard with issue #218. I would love to see the math on how Marvel came up with that number.

In the new story arc - “Punisher: War Machine” - Chernaya smugglers are buying guns for the Chernayan army in America. A military coup ousted Chernaya’s president and is slaughtering children and other civilians. Nick Fury recruits the Punisher to take out the coup. As incentive, Fury tells Frank where he can find the War Machine armor of the late James Rhodes. By the end of the issue, Frank has taken control of the armor and seems quite pleased with it. Since we see Castle in the armor on the cover, I figured there was no need for spoiler warnings.

I wasn’t bowled over by the first part of this story arc, but the issue is mostly set-up for what’s to come. I’ll figure out what I think about it when I finish the entire arc.

                                                                                 

Unusual Suspense #1 [Charlton Neo Media; $6.99] has a cover date of Fall 2015. The 52-page, full-color comic book has three features of varying lengths. None of three strips are award-winners, but, like the comics of the legendary publisher from which this company gets its name, they are quirky fun.

N.E.O stands for Non-Sequentially Evolving Organism. It’s written by Paul Kupperberg with art by the late P.D. Angel Gabriele. This 21-page story introduces us to a creature from the future pursued by other creatures from the future. This story’s hero is the first successful clone warrior, the first of an army created to fight in an interplanetary war. Any further character and plot development - such as why the hero’s creator is evil and why he has fled instead of fight and why he doesn’t want his creator to get his DNA - gets shoved aside for the action scenes. I’m moderately intrigued, but that’s the best I can say at this point.

Ms. Molecule by Rene King Thompson with art by Sandy Carruthers is the most together series in the issue. The diminutive heroine has inoperable cancer. However, when she shrinks, her symptoms vanish. A scientist herself, she uses her abilities to help other patients and work towards a cure that affect her even when she’s not on her tiny form. She’s a super-hero with disabilities who uses her abilities to help others. That clicks off a lot of my happy boxes and is why I got a kick out of this 18-page story.

Mr. Krime: King of Chaos by Jean-Emmanuel Dubois and Mort Todd is a second generation master villain who terrorizes Europe. The six-page story is mostly set-up, but the concept and the possibility of the original Krime still being alive is interesting. I would like to see what happens next.

The last four pages of the comic and the inside back cover are all blank. That seems like an odd design choice to me.

I’ve been buying these Charlton Neo Media comics via Amazon. They have started showing up in Diamond’s Previews catalog as offered by AC Comics, but I’m not sure those comic books are the same as the  original editions. I’m confused.

My recommendation? If you like somewhat nostalgia, somewhat quirky mainstream comic books, you might enjoy the publications from this company. I do.

That’s all for now. If all goes according to plan, tomorrow’s blog will have the first part of my long-overdue report on G-Fest 2017. The “G” stands for “Godzilla!” See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Saturday, December 16, 2017

IF THEY BUILD IT, I WILL COME

From time to time, I’ll be devoting a bloggy thing to talking about various comics industry issues. I’m starting off with my thoughts on the state of online comics news sites. For the most part, I am not a huge fan of these sites.

There are four comics news sites I visit every day, though I will probably be cutting at least two of those down to once every other day or less. One used to be my favorite and I even donated to it on a regular basis. However, its actual comics coverage has become spotty. It devotes considerable attention to wrestling and video games and such while ignoring actual comics stories. Often, when I look at its feed for the day, I’m thinking there’s no real process in place.

Another comics and media news site once did important work exposing scam artists and, to be fair, still does manage that from time to time. These days, its priority seems to be gossip and what I call  “Let’s you and he fight” stories. There is a pervasive pettiness, a dedicated dickish-ness to much of its writing. Their coverage of news has become so biased and questionable that whatever usefulness it once held is largely gone.

A third comics and media news site relishes click-bait stories. I don’t deny these stories can be fun - I just did one myself a few days ago - but the site does way too many of them. Since its feed pushes back older stories, more important items are pushed off the “front page” by the click-bait stuff.

A fourth comics site might be more properly considered a blog. Of the four, it’s the one I enjoy the most. It concentrates mostly on alternative and independent comics, often to exclusion of anything of note from the major comics publishers. But, since I’m not going there to read about Superman or Spider-Man, I accept it for what it is. It does earn points for running birthday greetings every day, but not many points since it omits many important creators in its  greetings.

NOTE. I have a bigger birthday/historical notes/remembrances list than almost anyone other than the Grand Comics Database and I beat them in several areas. I offered that database to anyone who wants it. Only one person ever requested it from me.

One of the biggest bones I have to pick with comics news sites is their disrespect by omission of comics creators. If comics news sites are writing about a movie or TV show that’s based on a comics series, they should include the one additional sentence it would take to mention the creators. I understand that can be clumsy when dealing with a movie or show that has multiple comics characters. I have never called a comics news site out for not listing, for example, the creator of every character who appears in Legends of Tomorrow or Guardians of the Galaxy. But, for many others, it really would take just one more sentence.

Arrow: Green Arrow was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp.

Iron Fist: Iron Fist was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

Black Lightning: Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden.

The Black Lightning credit is the official one used by DC Comics. The difference between “and” and “with” might not seem like a big deal to many, but there are reasons why that’s the official credit line. Yet there are sites who don’t use the official credit line. Some get it wrong, though their mistake becomes less forgivable when they’ve been corrected time and time again and refuse to get it right. One site’s top guy flat out told me he wouldn’t use the official DC credit line because it was the official DC credit line. When did accuracy or lack thereof become some sort of journalistic virtue?

I don’t expect an abundance of respect for comics creators from the mainstream media news sites, though many of them have shown respect to creators. But I hold firm to my position that comics news sites should get it right. It only takes one more sentence.

What would my nigh-perfect comics news site have? What would get me to come back daily or even multiple times during a day?

Comics news. News about super-hero comics, alternative/independent  comics, manga, European graphic novels, comic strips, collections of classic and not-so-classic comics, all kinds of comics. When was the last time you saw an article on the terrific European material published by NBM? Or the oddball comics reprinted by PS Artbooks or Craig Yoe? Or the British comics scene? Or the comic-book artists taking over newspaper comic strips? Or manga? Or the comics history offered by magazines like Alter Ego?

I read all kinds of comics. I want to see news on all those kinds of comics.

Comics media news. Obviously, the movies and TV shows and cartoons are an important part of today’s comics industry. I don’t think I have ever seen an article on the Marvel cartoons that run on Disney XD. The new Duck Tales series barely rated a mention anywhere. Did the new series Happy! now running on Syfy and based on a graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson get any real coverage? This comics media news would also include video games and anything else actually based on comic books.

Creator profiles. One of the sites I visit does present lengthy interviews with creators, but only alternative/independent creators. Creators doing mainstream comic books have just as much to say about craft and personal expression. It's artsy-fartsy arrogance to believe otherwise.

Creator birthdays and remembrances. Historical notes about comics-related stuff. I still have a list of these that can be theirs for the asking. With maybe one exception.

Convention coverage...and not just of the conventions with lots of cool cosplay and media guests...and not just of conventions devoted to indy creators. One of the most vital conventions in the United States is the ECBACC (East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention). If comics news sites mentions ECBACC, it’s generally only to list  the winners of the annual Glyph Awards.

Clarification. I love cosplay photos. I just think there should be coverage of conventions beyond those great costumes.

Comic shop news. The comics shops remain our first line of access for comics readers. Most of them struggle month in and month out. Tell me about these shops and especially what they do that others don’t do.

I’d also like to see articles on when and where the outside world crosses paths with our comic-book world. Policies being enacted by our government affect the lives of comics industry professionals. Industry organizations like the Hero Initiative and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are often on the front lines when comics people need help dealing with real-world issues.

I would like to see articles on fun stuff like when a Gail Simone or a Marv Wolfman are guests at an overseas convention. Or when comics folk share their other travels.

Case in point. I’ll be a guest of a professional Cleveland sports team later this month when they run a comic-book-themed promotion in conjunction with Marvel Comics. They plan to print posters of the covers from two of my 1970s comics, which will be given out to the fans and which I will sign on request.That’s not something I ever expected to do and I’m sure I’ll be able to write an amusing bloggy thing about the evening.

Tease. I’ll be writing about an even more unexpected honor that’s coming my way this month. Even if these two things were happening to someone other than Tony Isabella, I’d still consider them worth being covered by comics news sites. At least you’ll be able to read about it here.

Comics industry professionals lecture and teach comics all over the world. Why aren’t the news sites writing about the global travels of Alex Simmons as he teaches kids how to make comics in Russia and elsewhere?

Every year, I give a couple talks at colleges and libraries on comics history, diversity in comics and other subjects. Sometime in 2018, I hope to partner with someone to put these talks on DVDs for use by libraries and schools, albeit narrated by someone who sounds much more impressive than I do. I’d love to be able to get quality DVDs of talks by other industry historians and professionals.

Many comics professionals have interesting blogs. My dream comics news site would alert their readers to these great destinations on the Internet.

In summation...

I’m a dreamer, but I’m a dreamer who lives in the real world. I’m very aware that the expense in time and money of creating a comics news site like the one I’ve been describing would be prohibitive if not impossible.

But I also believe that comics news sites can start doing some of what I’ve described above. No one, especially me, is expecting them to go from where they are now to the ideal comics news site overnight. But “better” is possible. So let’s start with “better” and see where that takes us.

Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a bunch of comics reviews. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Friday, December 15, 2017

HALLOWEEN COMICFEST #4

Hey, kids! It’s time for another look at the free comic books given out for Halloween ComicFest.

Halloween ComicFest is the celebration of Halloween and comics! The event takes place October 28th at participating comic shops. FREE Halloween themed comics will be available, along with the chance for fans to participate in "The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest Ever!" It’s a great event for comic and Halloween fans of all ages! Come and celebrate Halloween this year with FREE comics!

Like Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest happens but once a year. Every year, I get all the issues from his pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey. Some are digest-size comics and some are full-size comics. After receiving them - there were thirty comics this year - I read and review them. I judge these individual issues on three criteria:

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want to buy more of the same?

On a scale of zero to ten, each of those criteria is worth up to three points. Tony awards the elusive tenth point when he deems a FCBD offering particularly worthy.

Casper the Friendly Ghost Halloween ComicFest [American Mythology] is a 16-page, digest-size comic book reprinting Casper and Spooky stories from what I’m guessing is the 1960s. There’s a Casper tale and a Wendy the Good Little Witch gag page by Marty Taras, a Spooky story by Howard Post and a Ghostly Trio gag page by Ernie Colon.

QUALITY: These all-ages stories are fun and well-crafted. Casper’s “Helpful Uncle Fuzzy” is a delightful take of the friendly ghost’s kind but forgetful uncle. The Spooky story is particularly suited for Halloween. I give them high marks.

ACCESSIBILITY: I’m not sure I can actually judge this category for this comic book. To readers of my generation, these characters are so well known they require no introduction. Is that the case with younger readers? There have been many cartoons and even some Casper movies. Do they still air on TV?

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. If a reader enjoyed this stories as I did, that reader will get no information about where to find more like them. American Mythology should have lost the last gag page and replace it with an ad for their Casper comics.

SCORE: Six out of ten points.

                                                                                 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Halloween ComicFest Edition #1 2017 [Archie] is the one Halloween ComicFest comic book that I refused to read. I have judged this book by its back cover, the one which explains in loving detail how Sabrina’s dead father has come back from the dead in the body of her resurrected boyfriend and  arranged a romantic rendezvous with his unknowing daughter. When did Donald Trump get into comics?

QUALITY: Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has one trick in his Archie bag. He takes these classic characters and he twists them into sad reflections of themselves. He demeans them at every turn as if he were performing in some modern-day Hellfire Club fetish theater. I hate his writing. Passionately.

ACCESSIBILITY: The back cover copy lets readers know what they are getting into. One can only hope they have the good sense not to get into this particular comic book.

SALESMANSHIP: This 36-page, full-size black-and-white comic has an ad for a Sabrina trade paperback on its inside front cover, tucked into a corner following the very large credits.

SCORE: Not applicable, mostly because I never thought to allow for negative scores.

                                                                                 
Choose Your Own Aspen Adventure [Aspen Comics] is a 32-page, full-size black and white comic book. It is basically an activity book tucked inside a story of sorts.

QUALITY: I didn’t do the activities included within the story, but they look like great fun for kids. The story is thin. This isn’t a comic book for me, but I applaud the obvious care and craft that went into its making.

ACCESSIBILITY: Some introductory material would have been helpful. I’m still not sure who these characters are.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. The inside back cover has an ad for a bunch of Aspen graphic novels, but they don’t seem age-appropriate for the kids who might be enjoying this free comic book.

SCORE: Four out of ten points.

                                                                                  

Malika: Dragon Trials [YouNeek Studios] is a 32-page, full-color, full-size comic book featuring a 24-page story of the warrior queen created and written by Roye Okupe. Art is by Chima Kalu. The story appears to be an excerpt from the second Malika graphic novel and takes place almost entirely in her mind. I have written favorably about the character on two earlier occasions this year. I reviewed Malika’s Free Comic Book Day issue and the first volume in her series of graphic novels.

QUALITY: Very high. Malika must fight four dragons to prove worthy of wielding a powerful mystical sword.

ACCESSIBILITY: This excerpt needed some background. A text page on “The Divine Ones” gives background on the supernatural entities at the art of this excerpt, but doesn’t really help a new reader learn anything about Malika.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The issue has a house ad for the first of the Malika graphic novel, a second house ad for other YouNeek GNs and a back cover ad for the second Malika GN. If a reader enjoyed this comic book, they will be made aware of other graphic novels of this nature.

SCORE: Eight out of ten points.

                                                                                

Runaways Halloween ComicFest 2017 #1 [Marvel] is a 32-page, full-color, full-size comic book reprinting the 24-page origin story of the title characters. Written by Brian K. Vaughn with art by Adrian Alphona, David Newbold and Brian Rebar. First published in 2003, the story involved a group of teenagers learning a shocking truth about their parents.

QUALITY: This was one of the best debuts of the new Millennium. We get to meet the kids and learn something about them. The build to the last page reveal is amazing.

ACCESSIBILITY: It’s a well-done opening story that should pose no problem to a new reader.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There’s an ad for a new Runaways title and another for the collections of the previous comics. There are also ads for some other Marvel titles.

SCORE: Ten out of ten points.

                                                                           

Star Wars: Darth Maul Halloween ComicFest 2017 #1 [Marvel] is a 32-page, full-color, full-size comic book reprinting the first issue of the five-issue series by Cullen Bunn with artist Luke Ross and
colorist Nolan Woodard.

QUALITY: Very good. Bunn’s story captures the rage that drives his protagonist and ends on a scene that makes me want to read the rest of the series. Luke Ross does a fine job on the art.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Star Wars Universe is a little complicated for my aging brain, but the opening page sets up what I needed to know. The rest of the story is straightforward.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are ads for the collection of this Darth Maul series and for other Star Wars comics collections. There are also ads for other Marvel titles.

SCORE: Nine out of ten points.

I have one more installment of these Halloween ComicFest reviews. It will run before the end of the year.

Come back tomorrow and I’ll have something else for you. It could be a piece on online comics news sites or it could be a column of comics reviews. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Thursday, December 14, 2017

TONY'S TIPS #237

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Batman and "“The War of Jokes and Riddles”; Bonfire, the first novel by Jessica Jones actress Krysten Ritter; and Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast!

TONY’S CLICK BAIT 15: DC COMICS

When an online blogger doesn’t have anything of substance to write about, they fall back on that most Pavlovian of concepts, a click-bait list. This time around, I give 15 answers - “15" is a sacred number for the purveyors of click-bait - to one of the questions I most frequently asked.

I’m currently finishing writing the six-issue Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands series. Now the clear answer to the question of what DC Comics book I’d like to write next would be...more Black Lightning. I created the character. He’s my favorite character. And, if I may be so immodest, I think my new version of the character is making for some really great comic books. But, as that answer makes for a really short bloggy thing, today I’m going to give you 15 other answers to the frequently asked question:

What would I most like to write next for DC Comics?

In no particular order...

1. NEW ACTION COMICS

This takes some explanation. It would be a 64-page monthly comic book featuring a modern-day Superman in the style of the original 1930s champion of the oppressed. The secondary features would all be updated versions of the original Action Comics line-up of Chuck Dawson (contemporary western), Zatanna (because I like her better than her dad) and the rest. I would write the entire first issue to set up all the characters and features and then, after that, write the Superman lead every issue.

2. THE MAN WHO KILLED THE JOKER

The premise of this graphic novel is the Joker poses such an ever-present threat that it would be self-defense to kill him anytime in any circumstances. The Joker has killed thousands of people...and that’s probably a low estimate. He can’t be held in Arkham Asylum or any prison. He always escapes and he always kills more people. This is the story of the man who kills him and the legal and public consequences of that act. I’ve been wanting to write this graphic novel for two decades.
                                                                                

3. METAMORPHO

The original Metamorpho comics by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon were a revelation to teenage Tony. Unlike virtually everyone else at DC,  Haney understood the appeal of the Marvel comic books of the 1960s and put his own spin on them. Larger-than-life characters. A hero who rarely gave in to the tragedy of his situation. (I thought of Rex Mason as DC’s Ben Grimm but happier.) Combined with my youthful fascination with the elements. I want to write Metamorpho as he was in his early days, slightly updated to fit in with our modern era.
                                                                                  

4. MULTI-MAN AND MULTI-WOMAN

Here’s where I get strange. Multi-Man was the arch-enemy of the Challengers of the Unknown. He had magic potions that would allow him to change his form, though his main form was a dwarf with a huge head. Somewhere along the line, he built a giant Multi-Woman to be his bride. I loved the heck out of this wacky idea. Which has me wondering...if they weren’t always fighting the Challengers and being imprisoned or destroyed, what would married life be for these crazy kids? I love to tell their stories.

5. BOY COMMANDOS

I have a hankering to write a World War II series. I also love the Joe Simon and Jack Kirby kid gangs. Do I have to say more.

6. THE NEWSBLOG LEGION

In the spirit of the Simon and Kirby kid gangs, but updated for our modern times. Young bloggers speaking truth to power while trying to navigate the offline world.

7. COLONEL SANDERS

Okay, the Colonel isn’t really a DC Comics character and I’m not a big fan of KFC food. But I get a kick out of these yearly specials and would love to try my hand at one.

8. APES ON THE CASE

Congorilla. Detective Chimp. Angel and the Ape. A rebellious young citizen of Gorilla City. They’re apes. They’re detectives. Except for Angel O’Day, but we’ve got to have something in this book for the male hairless apes in comics fandom.
                                                                               

9. SPACE CABBY

Most comic-book science fiction goes big. I’d like to tell smaller stories and who better to make that possible than a fun character from the 1950s and 1960s.
                                                                                 

10. THE MANIAKS

They were a hip happening mod sensation in the 1960s. They’re back together and back on the road, trying to recapture their glory days while competing with Maniaks tribute bands.
                                                                                                       
11. THE GLOBAL GUARDIANS

Writer/editor E. Nelson Bridwell has never received his due for all he brought to the DC Universe. He should get a Bill Finger Award. In the meantime, his team of super-heroes from around the world is worthy of a revival and an update. I’d keep them realistic to our times, but I’d also keep them as genuinely good and noble super-heroes. We can never have too many of those.
                                                                                

12. THE WITCHING HOUR

When this title was first published by DC Comics in 1969, each of its three witch-narrators had her own style of story. That concept was lost rather quickly, but I liked it. I would love to bring the title back as an all-ages spooky stories anthology and restore the original concept. It would be a challenge to come up with the three different stories per issue, but meeting that kind of challenge is fun for me.

13. JOHNNY EVERYMAN

Johnny Everyman was an American civil engineer who roamed the world promoting harmony and understanding. Though well-intentioned, his adventures lacked any real excitement or suspense. I’d change the title to Everyman and give him the ability (or curse) to change his gender, nationality, race and so forth. To experience the lives of  human beings from every corner of the world. Not unlike the War Is Hell series I created for Marvel in the 1970s and which predated the TV series Quantum Leap.

14. STRANGE SPORTS STORIES

I love the way that title rolls off the tongue. I see this as a 64-page anthology with contemporary stores covering every sport around the world. Besides the drama of competition, sports today involve  health issues and social issues and more. A mix of the modern with the macabre would be intriguing.

15. HEART THROBS

Though I was editor of Young Love for a hot minute in the 1970s, I never got to do “my” romance comic book. This title would feature the diversity of the human condition in stories that could break your heart or lift your spirits.

Wanna know a secret? Though one or two of the above comics titles have been on my mind for some time, I came up with most of them on the fly as I was writing this column. That’s 15 titles in under two hours. If there’s anyone out there with deep pockets who would want to hire me to create a new comics company for them, they can e-mail me with their offers. I could use a signing bonus right about now.

Do you enjoy my click-bait columns? Feel free to send suggestions for future installments. In the meantime, come back tomorrow for a new batch of Halloween ComicFest reviews.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 130

RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 130th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns. 
 
The Rawhide Kid #143 [January 1978] has another terrific cover by Gil Kane. Like his previous covers, it doesn’t illustrate a scene from the story reprinted in this issue.
                                                                               

This issue reprints “Gunman’s Quest” (17 pages) from Rawhide Kid #45 [April 1965]. The original and still very much classic cover for that issue was penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Chic Stone. I always liked that artistic combination.
                                                                                  

Written and drawn by Larry Lieber, “Gunman’s Quest” is an expanded origin story for the Rawhide Kid. It also introduced the brothers he never knew he had. I wrote about this landmark story on January 23, 2013. You can read my comments here.

The Johnston Smith companies with its endless supply of cheap-ass novelty items has an ad on the issue’s inside front cover. A little further in is a full-page ad for “Super Sea Monkeys.”
                                                                                    

Simon & Schuster has a full-page ad for their complete collection of Marvel books. New to their roster is The Superhero Women, which features stories of Medusa, Red Sonja, the Black Widow, Ms. Marvel and others.

There are the usual three pages of classified-style ads with 22 ads for mail-order dealers selling old comics. In addition, the pages have ads for comic bags, a “Learn Cartooning” course and a Creation comic convention scheduled to be held November 25-27 at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.
                                                                                

There’s a half-page ad for Slim Jim meat snacks with werewolf art by Jack Davis and a half-page ad recruiting entrepreneurial kids to sell the newspaper Grit.
                                                                           

The Superhero Shop of New Jersey changed its name to Heroes World and continues to sell comics merchandise. For $5.55, you could have bought a Spider-Man Utility Belt featuring a Spidey watch, Spidey handcuffs, Spidey Grappler (rope and hook), Spidey web and a Spidey communicator. Did any of that stuff actually work?
                                                                               

Poster Bonanza - with a mailing address in my home town of Medina, Ohio - would sell you five 11-by-17 posters for $2.75. Group A had Farrah Fawcett, John Travolta, Lindsay Wagner as the Bionic Woman, Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man, and Osmond siblings Donny and Marie. Group B had Kiss, the Hardy Boys, Grizzly Adams, Kristy McNichol and Baretta.

This poster ad didn’t surprise me as much as you might think. I had a post office box in Medina for a decade or two and discovered Medina Ohio was a popular address for such offers and for coupon redemptions. There was a processing center somewhere in my city. I discovered this when some coupon offer mistakenly printed my P.O. Box number and I started receiving literal boxes of envelopes. It took a couple months to fix that mess.
                                                                                

A half-page Marvel subscription ad ran in this issue, offering six titles for the price of five. The bottom half of the page pitched mail-order locksmith lessons. The Pizzazz (magazine) ad that ran on the inside front cover of the previous issue ran as an interior ad in this one. It was followed by half-page ads for Clark candy bars and a half-page ad for “Strong Arms” from bodybuilder Mike Marvel.

This issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page listed Archie Goodwin as editor; Jim Shooter as associate editor; Roger Stern, Ed Hannigan, Ralph Macchio, Jo Duffy as assistant editors; Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby as consulting editors; John Romita and Marie Severin as art directors; John Verpoorten as the production manager; and, of course, Irving Forbush as unindicted co-conspirator.

“Stan Lee’s Soapbox” had the Man plugging The Superhero Women, the forthcoming How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and the second issue of the Marvel Special Edition reprinting of Marvel’s adaptation of Star Wars. Having grown up on meatier soapboxes, I was not enamored of this never-ending parade of plugs.

In other news...

Marvel colorist Don Warfield and his wife Gayle Landers announced the birth of their daughter, Ellen Kelly Warfield.

Marvel would be publishing Man From Atlantis, starting with an 80-page issue selling for a buck. The page also hinted at a “colorful” surprise for the readers of The Savage Sword of Conan. This likely involved reprinting black-and-white stories in color.

Ernie Chan would be drawing a Marv Wolfman-written issue of Marvel Two-In-One wrapping up loose ends from Marv’s short-lived Skull the Slayer title. Carmine Infantino would guest-pencil two issues of The Defenders with inks by Klaus Janson. After that, Janson will remain to ink new regular penciler Ed Hannigan.

Danny Fingeroth was taking over as assistant editor of the British weeklies as Bob Budiansky turned his attention to penciling comics. British department staffers Dave Wenzel and Duffy Vohland were doing a Solomon Kane story for The Savage Sword of Conan.

While Jack Kirby finished the Silver Surfer graphic novel he was working on with Stan Lee, and working on some new creations, the new Captain America creative team would be writer/editor Roy Thomas, penciler Sal Buscema and inker Joe Sinnott.

John Byrne and Terry Austin were the new X-Men art team. Delightful Dave Cockrum was drawing an issue of John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Tony and Mary DeZuniga are back in New York City after their long-time residence in the Philippines.

And that wrapped up this month’s Bullpen Bulletins.
                                                                               

Next...Thor starred in “The Ding-a-Ling Family!” Weird hill-folk end up in orbit around Asgard and attack Thor and his fellows. They are subdued when Sif gives them Hostess fruit pies. I’m fairly certain John Buscema penciled this one-page comics story.
                                                                                   

The “Mighty Marvel Gallery of Western Heroes” pin-up series kicks off with Red Wolf by Neal Adams. This is a reprint of the cover of Marvel Spotlight #1 [November 1971].

There are three more full-page paid ads in the issue:

“To All Who Want Powerful Muscles Fast!”, Olympic Muscle Builders of Rockaway, New Jersey had your back. If you sent them fifty cents for handling and mailing charges, they would send you the first lesson free.

The inside cover advertised “50 Mile Power Binoculars” from Foster-Trent of Larchmont, New York. With shipping and handling charges, the cost was four bucks for one set or seven bucks for two sets. If you lived in New York, you would also have to pay the appropriate sales tax.
                                                                                  

The back cover had an ad for the talking “Patty Prayer” doll, which could kneel and say a bedtime prayer. Niresk Industries of Chicago was selling the doll for $11.95. That price included two bucks for postage, handling and insurance. The doll was said to be almost 20 inches tall, non-allergenic, soft, cuddly and lifelike. Now that’s an evil doll movie just waiting to be filmed.

That wraps up this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” We have eight more issues to go until the end of the trail for this title. Look for the next guns-a’-blazing installment in just seven short days.

As for tomorrow’s bloggy thing, mosey on by and we’ll both see what I came up with.

© 2017 Tony Isabella